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August 18 1998, Tuesday


here was the usual debate about what to have for breakfast, especially given the fact that Kim's refrigerator is now empty. But I rarely eat much of a breakfast when I'm on my I own and I didn't want to go out again to the Northside Grill. As I logged on to AOL to check the Web climate, Kim hinted around that maybe I was too focused on the Internet. I explained that it was the ultimate communications medium and the easiest form of expression possible when I'm on the road, away from all my little tools and art supplies. We had a little argument about whether or not the internet had something (soul perhaps?), especially compared to something as concrete as a book. It was a ridiculous argument. Thankfully, we made peace on the issue somehow, agreeing to disagree. Now I'm at the University of Michigan's Angell Hall and she's back at her place hanging out with a friend.

    I just happened to look at my musings homepage and noticed the world's human population has passed the six billion mark.


im sent me email with a list of choices for what I wanted for dinner, so I picked one: pasta with mussels. It's embarrassing to admit I like being fussed over by a woman fulfilling her traditional female role.

Down in the collegiate/fratty district beyond the Diag, I bought myself a cup of coffee at Rendez Vous so I could muster the alertness to complete work refining a website concerning "Buddhist views on the existence of varying types of non-human intelligences resulting from painstaking fact finding."

When I was done, it was nearing dinner time, so I headed back home, dumpster diving on the way. The only thing I found was an empty PC tower case and lots of broken mirror, none of which I can use at this time.

My front wheel nearly seized up on two occasions on the ride home. I think it's a problem of old bearings and lack of lubrication with a dash of bad karma.


im is good about making dinner into a romantic occasion. She sets the places elegantly and often as not uncorks a fresh new bottle of red vino. I was fairly hungry and managed to clean both my plate and Kim's. She's one of those people who routinely leaves lots of good food on her plate when she's done eating, a habit that troubles me greatly, since it's usually an indication of general wastefulness (something I find alien and unattractive).

We made love after dinner and were done two minutes before Matt Rogers was to arrive. Kim answered the door wearing a long semi-transparent butterfly-decorated black dress (designed by, as Kim pointed out, some classy Japanese dude).


onight, Kim had a massage client (her Godmother) coming over, so the plan was for Matt and me to go dumpster diving during that time. He and I set out in his increasingly decrepit car, heading northeast down Plymouth Road towards the North Campus of the University of Michigan, trying to track down the Department of Properties Disposition. When we finally found it, we headed directly to a big dumpster that looked to be filled with scrap metal.

What we found inside was truly amazing and very sad. Old Macintosh Model IIs (II's, IIcx's, IIx's and one IIsi) were stacked up like Holocaust victims along with old typewriters, circuit boards and scrap metal. It was a tragic wonderland of obsolete equipment. A few short years ago I would have sacrificed a limb for this stuff, but now it had been deemed worthless, even though most of it was probably completely functional. Of course, certain components still had intrinsic value: power supplies, fans, cables, and even video and ethernet boards. But no one, not even me, had any use for the old 16 MHz 68030s (the cutting edge processor of 1988) or 30 pin 256 kilobyte SIMMs.

The best find in the entire dumpster was a 33 MHz 486 computer with a 120 Megabyte hard drive and at least 8 megabytes of RAM. But even something as modern as that is virtually worthless to someone like me who has come to depend so heavily on Homesite and Photoshop. Still, I took it with me.

Matt and I checked out a few additional dumpsters in the area, but there was nothing worth taking.

As has become our tradition, we ended up at the Fleetwood. Surprisingly, we were the only customers when we arrived. Our waitress (a girl I haven't seen before) was unusually buoyant, perhaps from the lull in the usual Fleetwood mayhem, but also because of a change in the weather. Heavy rains yesterday had left clear skies and cool temperatures in their wake. Outside at the tables under the Fleetwood awning, the night air carried a hint of autumnal nip. It was both invigorating and sad, reminding me of how I felt as a kid when the school year approached. Matt said that I shouldn't be deceived by the generally warm weather I've been experiencing during the Ann Arbor summer. In winter time, he said, there's usually several feet of snow on the ground and people get into the habit of staying home, being depressed, and contemplating razor blades in an unhealthful manner. This anti-social depression persists as if by inertia well into the warm months and it's usually late June before people get back in the habit of visiting their friends. Of course, the plan for me right now is to accompany Kim out to San Diego in early September. If things work out, I'll entirely miss the Winter of 1998-99.

Our climb in the Fleetwood customer hierarchy continues unabated. Today we got two refills of coffee and an unsolicited glass of icewater each. This was the first time I was ever offered ice water at the Fleetwood.


ack at Kim's place, we all sat around drinking vino and chatting about stuff. I went back and forth between investigating the innards of my newly dumpster-dived Intel Inside® 486-based computer and having an idiotic email conversation with Zach (the character mentioned in the sidebar). He accused me of being the person behind all his troubles at In His Own Words, the all-male webring he was "forced" to disband in the aftermath of an assault by "hackers." I know for a fact that IHOW would not have been difficult to "hack," especially given the sloppiness of its Web Ring Manager (wrman), Zach himself. I saw repeated evidence in the Cut While Shaving Nedstat logs of Zach leaving his ring management sessions open, such that anyone could come in from anywhere and have complete management access to IHOW. Not only that, but Zach also did things like taking management pages spewed out automatically by webring for his eyes only and putting them online for the whole world to see, complete with embedded passwords. Finally, Zach allowed his ring to fall into untidy neglect. All the bitching and complaining by Al about Cut While Shaving-dude deleting his site from the IHOW "list all" function ignores the fact that IHOW's "list all" has been on the blink for weeks because of certain members failing to close their tables in their over-accessorized (and inappropriately un-manly) link descriptions.

After I pointed out his foolish inclusion of passwords in the source of some of his pages, Zach tried to make like it was all a clever ploy to uncover me as the hacker. How? I have no idea. His ploy requires leaps of logic and misinterpretations of events that only he can muster (again, see sidebar).

Actually, I'm fairly sure Zach is a nice enough guy, and I feel kind of bad showcasing his unflattering moments in this journal. To some I may look like the 300 pound gorilla of the online journal genre, but I don't feel any different than I did on the humble day I started. I have no desire to treat people with unnecessary respect or to extend magnanimous gestures. I still feel like I'm in the underground, whatever that is. No matter how my fortune goes online, in the real world I haven't stopped being mean, hungry, and alone.

Meanwhile, I am amused to find Al Schroeder is now suddenly an expert on skinheads and racism. I feel real sympathy for Al's autistic kids, but to suggest that "Africans" should take offense at being possibly equated with autistic children is laughable. Forgive me for a moment while I arrogantly pretend to be an expert on autism (only fair since Al is now the expert on skinheads). Autism is, it would seem, an overexpression of the "white gene," such as it is. There is no one more "white" than someone suffering from autism (though Mormons, particularly Canadian Mormons, come close).

    (No, I don't believe in a "white gene," but then, I don't believe in a "white race" or a "black race" either. This is supposed to be an exercise in something akin to reductio ad absurdum.)

sidebar nonsense:

I don't think I mind Zach writing about Maggy per se, what I find irritating is that he somehow succeeds in writing paragraphs and paragraphs about her without actually saying anything besides "I really like her." If he would actually read her site (which I am beginning to doubt that he -or anyone- actually does) and find examples of her greatness and present them, then his effort would seem less like a waste of electrons and cheeseburgers.

Then there's Zach's never-ending struggle with appropriately comprehending the words of others. Here's a classic example from the above-linked entry:

Was it Will Rogers or Mark Twain who once said they didn't ever want to join any clique which would have them as a member? It's something like that. Or more specifically, some people don't like being a part of any organization that is not organized, and by its very nature doesn't want to be organized.

The quote Zach is quoting but misinterpreting is supposed to be a bit of self-deprecating humour, pointing to the very serious issue of poor self esteem. People who doubt themselves often begin to doubt their friends just for the mistake of accepting them. That's what the quote is about. It has nothing to do with organization or lack of organization. Zach's writing is full of this sort of cluttered, useless thinking. It's addictive reading only because it is so goddamn infuriating.

Oh, and another thing, dinosaurs didn't "evolve themselves into their own extinction." There is no creature that has ever done such a thing. Evolution is not about going extinct, it's about having what it takes to survive. The dinosaurs were wiped out by something other than the process of their speciation.

this part added in response to criticism:
While it's true that some creatures do evolve to fill such narrowly specialized niches that they quickly go extinct during rapid environmental changes, this cannot be said of a whole class (or subclass) of diverse creatures such as the dinosaurs. The extinction of the dinosaurs was probably a consequence of a catastrophe for which no natural selection could have prepared them. Mammals would probably not fair any better were such a disaster to happen today.

one final thing (thanks chickclick - girl sites who don't fake it):
It was neither Mark Twain nor Will Rogers who made the previously mentioned quote, it was Groucho Marx.

one year ago
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