Evidence

Today, I offer evidence that there is no IQ requirement necessary to owning a modem and a computer. Well, actually, that evidence is already quite abundant: just look at the fact that the Internet is riddled with all sorts of websites offering, for example, “proof” that the Holocaust never occurred; or “proof” that man never landed on the moon and that the moon landing were all faked. Or simply look at the vast array of racist, sexist, homophobic sites that litter the Internet like piles of dog shit on a nice green lawn. True, the Internet is a great democracy, and anyone can create a website and spew their baggage… but, still, it frightens, disturbs, and annoys me that there are people who find it necessary to encumber the rest of us with their own stupidity.

On the other hand, there are those few brilliant entities out there whose intelligence and wit make the Internet a true delight to surf through. I offer, for example, the individual whose nickname is apparently “wuss buster” at an obscure website called “Fagbusters.com“. Wuss Buster signed my guestbook recently, advising that I was a whiny loser who was so pathetic that I thought people would read my journal all the time and that I should get a life.

The thing that frustrates me about gurus like Wuss Buster and other masters of True Enlightenment is that the rest of us cannot really aspire to their level without years of frustrating work and meditation. A Zen guru who wishes to achieve Enlightenment must meditate for decades and purge herself of all desire to reach her goal. And aspiring to the enlightenment of one as pure as Wuss Buster must involve years of mind-numbing rituals designed to purify the soul of intellect and the careful cultivation of a fine sense of resentment against the world, and particularly against those of a perceived higher intelligence.

I really don’t have the patience to do it. And Wuss Buster, like a true guru of enlightenment, failed to offer any specific instructions on how to achieve his level of enlightenment.

Wuss Buster’s insight into my own personality are simply too astounding to believe. For example: I thought that I was writing my journal primarily for my own amusement — oh, sure, I’d like to have a few readers from time to time, it’s kind of fun — but I’d probably do it even if there weren’t any other readers. That’s what I thought. Wuss Buster implies that my journal is a cry for friendship or something like that. Actually, I have no idea what Wuss Buster is really trying to say, so he must either be an enlightened guru or an average-level schlep who simply has no idea what he’s talking about. Guess which one I pick.

Wuss Buster also presents to me the fact that I need to “get a life”. While I’ve been under the impression that I’m generally happy with the life I have, I guess I really need to go out and get a new one. Unfortunately, as with true Masters, Wuss Buster did not enlighten me as to how to go about this, which pretty much renders his advice useless. I feel very sad. No, really. I’m sure I do.

The evidence for intelligent life on the Internet truly is astounding, isn’t it?

Oh, Wuss Buster also mentions that he is “surprised that anyone wants to be in your vacinity[sic]”. I’m not usually impressed by moronic schleps who don’t know what they’re talking about and who can’t be bothered to spell correctly when they’re trying to insult me, but since Wuss Buster is a guru of high enlightenment, I suppose I must ponder this one as well. All I can come up with in response is a sort of sad pathos for all of my friends and family and co-workers who seem to quite enjoy being in my “vacinity”. These are people who need to be enlightened as well.

Obviously, Wuss Buster has a lot of work to do to enlighten the masses.

On a sad and related note, Wuss Buster’s entries in my guestbook have all apparently been deleted, and his (or her — mustn’t discount the fact that Wuss Buster may be a woman) IP address has been blocked from signing my guestbook in the future. I admit that this could probably be fixed, but I’m too lazy and unenlightened to do it. My only regret is that I can only block one IP address at a time, so if Wuss Buster connects through a DHCP server he may feel encouraged to enlighten me again.

Oh, and on yet another note, I’ve gone to Fagbusters.com to get more information about Wuss Buster and his brand of enlightenment, but the website seems to be a European website dedicated to the sale of cheap cigarettes. I guess some mysteries are simply beyond me for good.

The E-Word

Today was my first real graduate school class. Yes, it was a Sunday class; since the MLIS program at San Jose State is geared toward working people, they decided to have the single actual meeting for the students on a Sunday so that we could all attend.

The topic of this class is management theory. Apparently, when you run a library, you see, there is some management involved; and when you’re doing management, it helps to know what you’re doing. The professors who are teaching this class said something along the lines of, “We understand that none of you want to go into management. But the sad truth is that you’ll all probably end up doing it at some point. So you should learn something about it.”

There was a time, believe it or not, when I actually thought that I really wanted to go into management, so I actually read a lot of books on the topic. And so a lot of what we’re going to be covering in this class, in the on-line sessions and in the textbook, is pretty familiar to me; it’s interesting stuff, though, so I’m enjoying it.

Today we mostly concentrated on ethical decision making as it relates to library management issues: how to evaluate moral problems, basically, and how to evaluate an ethical problem to find an appropriate solution. Libraries are never free of controversy, I’m learning, and in the modified world we find ourselves in today, full of paranoia and tension, it’s more important than ever to keep the basic values of the library in full view. I’m finding that there is quite a wide array of opinions on how to keep the mission of the library in focus and on making ethical decisions; and I think it’s fascinating.

The main thing that the professors tried to get across is that Ethics is important. It’s in the news right now (is an invasion of Iraq ethical? or anything that Enron did, or the current administration’s involvement with it?), and it’s on everyone’s mind. This attention to ethics kind of goes in cycles; right now, it’s the In Thing, and everyone’s trying to be ethical. Sometimes, though, “ethics” is a dirty word, implying a hardline attachment to patriarchal and outmoded ways of making decisions. Ugh. It’s the “E-Word”, volatile at times, loved at times, always essential for making proper decisions. Far too many people at too high levels of business and government believe that they’re above the need for ethics, and that’s a shame.

Meanwhile, I’m here in San Mateo County for my job. After nearly six weeks on the bench, it’s weird to be back on the road. It’s especially frustrating, given that it’s hard to schedule job interviews when you’re traveling. This hotel, at least, has free high-speed internet access, and my room has a microwave oven and refrigerator. So tomorrow after work, I’m going to swing by the grocery store I spotted on the way in to the hotel and pick up some groceries, so that I can keep up with some healthy eating; that’s hard to do when you’re on the road and eating out most of the time. There’s also a decent work out room in this hotel, so while it’s not really in a neighborhood where I would feel safe running in the morning, I can swing on the treadmill or the recumbant bicycle to get some exercise in tomorrow morning before heading to the training site. I also got to have dinner with my parents this evening after class, which was nice.

So this evening’s schedule is set for me. Study a little, read a little, work on my resume; keep your fingers crossed for me, because there’s a nice looking job at UC Davis that I’m looking at. Of course, as I’ve said before, my top priority right now is getting out of Benthic Creatures and getting off the road. A job with UC Davis would be great for me, because it’s within bicycle distance from my home.

Dogmatic

There are a lot of reasons why I’m fed up with Benthic Creatures — mostly to do with policies which I find at best misguided and at worst deliberately stupid — and why I’ve made it a top priority to find another job ASAP. There is one saving grace to this job, and that is the fact that I know that I’m helping people, the ones who need the most help. That helps me put up with a lot.

I was all set to put down all my grumbles here in this journal, but I’ve decided it’s best to not do so. There are people I work with that I genuinely like. As people, that is. As a management collective, they’re like any group of people and their collective intelligence drops and they make silly decisions. Everyone makes mistakes in the name of doing what they think is for the best, but there can be patterns of mistake-making which you just can’t work with anymore, since they lead to a feeling of mistrust. You can like someone, but if they keep proving themselves unworthy of trust, what are you going to do but find another situation?

I can’t blame them; the same thing happens to me when I’m in a group, and I’ve made some spectacular blunders in my time. The thing for me to do is just relax, look for another job (a lack of travel is, right now, the top priority — finding something that will lead me into my new career is kind of secondary at the moment) and get on with life.

Anyway, I just watched the film Dogma for the third time, and I’ve decided that this film needs to be put into my Top Ten list of Great Films. All of the View Askew films — Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — are pretty funny in their own way, but Dogma is really a good film. It succeeds, to me, in succesfully getting the basic tenets of Christianity across without getting bogged down in any specific belief structure. I agree with the theological points of the film — that God made us because God loves us and for no other reason than that; and that anything we humans do to screw up God’s word is done by us, by human beings, and not by God. The film’s been called blasphemous by a lot of people but it really does do a lot to restore my own faith each time I see it. I really must buy a copy of this film for myself.

And that’s the thing. One of the messages you’ll find at the heart of the film — or, at least, in the beginning, in the disclaimer — is that God has a sense of humor. God — whether you conceive God as Jahweh, Elohim, God, Allah, Buddha, a he, a she, or an it, whatever — doesn’t particularly care about religious beliefs or about what church or synagoge or mosque you attemd. What God really wants can be summarized in Christ’s Two Great Commandments (also neatly summarized by Rabbi Akiva), which were basically to love God and to love each your neighbor. And Christ pointed out that your neighbor is anyone, not just the people you happen to like.

Whatever. I should stop before I wax too theological.

The point is, I’ve been fussing in my head over how I can reconcile the fact that I like the people I work with, but I can’t trust them as managers any more. I guess what it boils down to is that I just have to remember that they’re people trying to do the best that they can, just like I am. I can’t afford to get self-righteous because, well, I might be wrong. The best I can do is just leave the situation and to do so with as few hurt feelings as possible.

00100011

Somehow, while I wasn’t looking over the past few weeks, my 35th birthday crept up upon me, taking totally by surprise. Like when the Rebel forces showed up around Endor, all set to deliver a massive ass-whupping to the Empire, only to find out that the new Death Star was, in fact, fully operational and ready to destroy anything at the Emperor’s slightest whim.

Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad. My wife softened the blow for me by secretly arranging a surprise birthday party for me. She’s sneaky, Jennifer is. I had gone out to pick up some new eyeglasses, since I’d broken my old ones playing Resident Evil: Code Veronica (don’t ask), and I came home to find that the house was filled with the aroma of gingerbread pancakes, one of our favorite breakfasts. Little did I know that she had made those pancakes specifically to cover up the smell of the spice cake that she’d made. And on New Year’s Day, the day after my birthday, four of my closest friends showed up, gave me their joint gift (the extended edition of the Fellowship of the Ring DVD), and took me out to dinner at a nearby brewpub.

Sometimes, being me is just cool.

But still, this whole 35 thing is kind of weird. I don’t recall agreeing anywhere that I would one day turn 35. In fact, I don’t really recall agreeing to ever age past 29. I suppose these things have to happen, and quite frequently without my approval.

Other things that happened recently without my approval: my computer crashed. Again. Based on my experiences, I think I’ve just been unlucky with hard drives. The last time this happened, someone from the local Linux user’s group came over and spent eight hours or so doing a complete image of my hard drive and sticking it on a new drive. This time, with quite a bit of help from someone else in the group, I was able to completely rebuild my computer, including installing a brand new operating system and repartitioning the hard drive and everything. I learned a lot about Linux and hard drives and partitioning, and I can’t say that’s bad. I even made my rebuilt computer cooler than it was before. I have things set up now so that when I’m on the road, I can point a web browser at my computer and check my e-mail remotely. This is good for a lot of reasons: now I don’t have to try to install weird software on other computers when I want to check my e-mail, and I don’t have to use a free webmail account.

Having to get new glasses was something else that happened without my approval. Jennifer and I were sitting downstairs, playing Resident Evil, and I took my glasses off to wipe them clean. Then there was a SNAP, and the frame just broke. Poof. Just like that. So the next morning I contacted a commercial eyewear vendor which I won’t name but which I have taken to calling Lensgrifters. I miss my old optometrist in Davis. The prices might have been pretty high, but I felt like I was treated with honesty and respect, instead of like an inconvenient glasses-requiring wallet-carrying sheep. Hidden costs, hard sell tactics, and so on. I did get my new glasses, but discovered to my distress that I’m no longer legal to drive without correction; something I’d been happy about ever since I started wearing glasses in college.

On the other hand, some things have been good about this whole aging thing. The best part is that I’m lucky enough to have a wife who appreciates my need for toys and fanboy gadgets and goodies; for my birthday I received DVD’s of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension. In addition to other goodies, I also got a cool gun that shoots fog rings: like smoke rings, only made of fog instead of smoke. I think it’s a great toy, and the cats think it’s even cooler. Rosemay sniffs at them as they drift past, while Allegra swats at them and then gets annoyed when they dissipate on her.

I’ve decided that this year, the year that I spend being 35, is going to be the year that I obsess on health. I’ve spent years past obsessing on my career, on relationships, and so on, so I figured it’s time for a change. I sat down a couple of weeks ago and decided that I needed to make some fitness goals for 2003. After fussing around with a bunch of different ideas I finally settled on a single goal which I think I can achieve, and this is it: “By December 31, 2003, I will, through a careful diet and a regular exercise program, lose 50 pounds.” I think it’s a good goal because it’s specific, includes the actual plan that I’m going to use, and so on. So far I’ve been doing a good job of working towards this goal; I’ve been eating well, and exercising a lot. It’s going well so far.

And there’s a lot more that I could tell, but it’s after midnight and I’m tired. So I’ll leave you with a promise that I’ll do my best to update this journal at least twice a week from now on.