Wednesday, September 28, 2005

E.T., the Extra-Testicle

Not wanting to be conventional, I've gone out and purchased a third ball (and a glove to wear while playing with it!) The first time I tried it out, a cut on my finger split, and I managed to bleed right into my brand new ball's fingerhole. Fortunately, I knew what to do, and immediately recited the Pater Noster backwards, enslaving a deamon inside of the polyurethane. I'm not sure if this helps or not, but it's sure as hell fun to do- and a blood stain is a lot better way of identifying my ball than engraving!



I've been reading "The Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy" By Robert Wilson. He suggests that one of the biggest problems of humanity is (to paraphrase a paragraph) that deep down inside, we are all afraid that if anyone knew what we are REALLY thinking or feeling, that they would catch us at being "no good shits," and that most of our mental/ emotional effort is to keep from getting caught. Any thoughts?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

She's Fresh! (Fresh!) Fresh as a Summer Breeeeeeeeaze...

The Illustration Friday word of the week is FRESH. How many times did you hear this one when you were a kid? How many times have you said it to your own kid, in some way or form? How many times have you squished your own kid's personality like a grape just because it was too much for you to handle after a hard day? Let your kids be who they are, or they might grow up sick and twisted individuals who draw cheap shit like this!


Friday, September 23, 2005

The Economy's Tubes are Tied

Rant rant rant. See Tony rant. Rant Tony, rant. (Just to warn you all, here's a free-flow economic ranting.)

My God, they've made credit reports such a scam. First of all, whenever you inquire into your own credit history- it hurts you. If you have credit cards and don't use them, it hurts you. When you do use them and pay your bill within a month before they can charge you interest it hurts you. THE WHOLE MOTHERFUCKING SCAM OF CREDIT IS TO GET YOU TO PAY MORE AND MORE MONEY TO THE BANKS FOR NO REASON (USING CREDIT CARDS AND PAYING INTEREST,) OR THEY WILL HURT YOUR CREDIT HISTORY!

Scam #2- ATM fees, or how to flush the value of the dollar down the toilet. Do you think your credit card interest is too high? How about the fact that if you pay $1.50 (average) for using an ATM that is not your bank's, and also charged $1.50 (average) for your own bank, you are now paying $3.00 for your ATM use. Keep in mind that the average ATM withdrawal is $20. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE JUST PAID 15% INTREST ON A SIMPLE WITHDRAWAL. You would NEVER get a credit card that high, but you do it for your own money! Just keep devaluing the dollar, baby. It's just paper anyhow. Hail euro, hail peso.

Next item up for bid: Capitol One recently overcharged me, or claimed I didn't make a payment, or something like that. I forget. I called the 800# on the back of the card and listened. Option 1… Option 2… no, none of these… option 435,111,690.555... REPEAT THESE OPTIONS? I WANT TO TALK TO A LIVE HUMAN BEING! But alas, it was not to be. Out of desperation, I hit Zero. "Please wait." A dial tone… then… "may I help you?" Ha ha! I'd beaten the system.

"Do you know how long it took me to get to you?" I asked.

"Um… you can reach an operator any time by hitting zero," the poor guy at the phone, probably outsourced in India because this country hates supporting its own citizens, but anyway…

"But the menu never SAYS to hit Zero," I said. "Why is that? Why does a customer have to figure out the secret code to talk to a human being?"

"Ummmmm" the guy said. I began to feel pity as I could almost taste the barbecue-sauce flavored charred goo that was beginning to flow from his smoking ears. The customer had asked a FORBIDDEN QUESTION into why the company did NOT want the customers easily making contact with someone who could actually help them. I laughed, imaging the wet spot that was forming on his BVDs, as his mind raced to come up with some sort of intelligent answer, when there was none. It was all bullshit, and he was in the middle. "You um… can reach an operator…"

"Never mind," I replied, taking pity on the poor devil. He probably went home and cried. Well, probably not. He probably went home and complained about some asshole customer that didn't understand that he was just a phone-answering peon. So it goes.

Recently, I purchased an Ipaq 4705. It's a great little pocket pc, except that they have a touch sensitive pad instead of buttons. What a stupid, ridiculous design. I can't play any of my Nintendo emulators, because you can't just rest your fingers on the pad the way you would buttons. Also, the damn thing is too ahead of it's time. It has a VGA screen, but there is very little Pocket PC software out there that is actually IN VGA, so you have to run them in lo-resolution. Regoddamndiculous.

Anyway… SOMEDAY, SOMEWHEN, Windows Mobile 5 (Which hopefully has much better VGA support than Windows Mobile 2003 & ½) is actually released, Ipaq is supposed to send out an upgrade disk. Windows Mobile 5 is actually still vaporware- it does not really exist, even though it was supposed to come out at the end of the summer- but that's beside the point. If you don't believe me, just try to find out exactly WHEN they're going to release it.

Back on topic… I tried e-mailing HP (Makers of Ipaq) about the upgrade. Of course, they can't just give you an email address, that would be far too convenient. Instead, you have to fill out a detailed online form, choosing what area of HP you wanted to send the letter too. Of course, there was no listing whatsoever for the Ipaq 4705. So I tried support for a different model. The javascript just wouldn't work. What to do what to do… WAIT! Here's an email for people who want to BUY Ipaqs! And wouldn't you know THAT address works! Assholes…

(Here endeth the rant. Go in peace, to love and rant at the Lord. Thanks be to Blog.)


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Weather Machine, Anyone?

What in blue blazes is going on in the gulf with all these hurricanes? Seriously, did God have a bad time at Mardi Gras? Maybe he tried to pick up one of those wild topless chicks, and she turned him down. That's it, he decided, I'm smoting your sorry Dixieland-playing asses off the face of the earth. Do you think the governments will get it right this time? If I was W. I'd have everyone in uniform ready and waiting. Put hurricanes under the axis of evil. And you know what? As incompetent as his last hurricane performance was, I can't understand why people aren't just as pissed off at the local governments that had no evacuation plans whatsoever. Maybe W. should just evacuate the black people this time, so everyone crying racism will feel vindicated. Even better, they should put Barbara Bush in a shelter for the night- see how she likes it before she runs her mouth off again. I'd like to conclude with this bit of wisdom:

Q: What is George W. Bush's opinion on Roe vs Wade?

A: He doesn't give a damn HOW they get out of New Orleans


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Run Away... RUN AWAY!!!

The Illustration Friday word of the week is ESCAPE. I've been reading a lot of philosophy & psychology lately, especially the fiction & nonfiction works of Robert Anton Wilson. His main theory is that we create our own realities (which simultaneously overlaps & clashes with Ayn Rand's strict rules of objectivism.) While there are many areas of objectivism that I agree with- i.e., the meaning of life is to be happy, we should live honestly without guilt, and we should all do our very best (to scratch the surface,) I'm agreeing more and more with Wilson's view that the world is what me make it. Some of Rand's philosophy deals with this too, to a point. However, from Wilson's POV, we never actually experience the world, just the model our senses create inside of our minds. However, a model isn't the real thing, nor can it contain every aspect of the real thing.

For example, how do you explain a symphony (or Frank Zappa) to someone who has been deaf since birth? How do you even explain color to someone who is color-blind? If you were blind, and someone started screaming because a giant centipede had just bitten off their big toe, you wouldn't know the cause of the scream, just the effect. Now what if everyone's blind, and no one can explain it to you? If we only experience the model of the universe in our mind that our senses can build, isn't it possible that there are other things affecting the world that our limited senses can't perceive? (We know of many- radio waves, ultraviolet light, magnetism, etc.)

What the fuck does all this have to with escape, I hear you cry? I guess because this all centers around escaping from the reality tunnel others (our parents, church, society, employers) have created for us and creating our own. The model's in your mind- enjoy it!


Saturday, September 10, 2005

In Memoriam

(Me back in September 2001, working on the roof of the Trinity building, restoring power at ground zero.)
The following is a letter I wrote to my friends & family in the days after 9/11. The only comment I'd like to make is that while at the time we were told the death toll was 6000, we now know it to be about 2700.
I'm sorry that I've been distant lately. I'm sure you can all understand, some even more than me.

I've been scared. I don't like to be, much less admit it, but I've been scared. I was lucky and in Queens, not in Manhattan last Tuesday. No, I wouldn't have been THERE (Though at 2 am I remember that I was working on the roof of a building a block away a month before this happened.) When the towers went down, I walked to the LIE overpass behind the apartment house and stared at the smoke that was in the place of the towers on the Manhattan skyline. Even though I'm one East River away from the close-ups on TV, it was stomach twisting. I called my foreman that night, and he told me how they watched it happen from the windows, 30 blocks away, how 20-50 year-old tough-guy construction workers were shaking, some crying, because they thought it was WW3 and the beginning of The End.

On Thursday, back in Manhattan, I had to walk from 42nd and Lex to 23rd and 1st, because the #6 line was down. (They were afraid of subway vibrations bringing down more buildings) It's not really as long a walk as it sounds, but I passed the recovery HQ on 1st ave- Past all the TV vans, and past a block's worth of pictures taped to plywood sheets. As time has past, these hopeful "have you seen" pictures have become memorials, and they're everywhere. I can't talk on the phone without staring into photographs with tearful notes of hope underneath, knowing they were put there by loved ones who will never ever see them again. I call my wife, and my voice becomes a dull monotone. She asks why and I'm at a loss on how to explain.

One of my friends at work is 40 years old, and he's a kind, good man. Today he suddenly started cursing himself, muttering what a failure he is. When I asked him what was wrong, he admitted it was because he started smoking again after giving them up cold turkey for 10 years. He told me he feels worthless, because suddenly he can't live without them again. I tell him it's an understandable need, but I can tell that my words don't help. I realize the frustration goes deeper than a pack of Marbalo 100s

Again, I'm on a job 30 blocks away from "ground zero", and I can see out the window that what was once a symbol of achievement is still a smoldering hole in the ground. I know it's only been a week, but I wonder when the skyline won't have a haze that has nothing to do with pollution. I walk down the street and I see people that are scared and jittery, no matter what their profession or race. I buy a paper from an elderly Arabic man, who wears a "God Bless America" shirt every day, and shrinks down in his kiosk- which is draped in American flags- like a frightened rabbit every time I, or any other customer approach. I give the little smile I have, but I don't think it does any good. I wonder if he's so afraid, why he stays here, and I realize he probably has no one and no where else to go.

Our shop is working on restoring power to one of those buildings- the same one I was on the roof of not too long ago (The Trinity building, 111 Broadway for those of you with a love for geography)- and being a lowly apprentice I helped the truck driver deliver material yesterday. My drivers license was scrutinized by armed police and National Guardsmen, like I'm trying to get onto a military base, and they make me wait in the cab while they and the driver search the truck. The won't let the truck get closer than a few blocks away and we wind up rolling 3' diameter wooden reels of sj cord down the street. The smell twisted my stomach, when I realized that what I was smelling was death- the death of a great achievement, of that smug "nothing can ever happen to us" attitude we Americans had without giving it a second thought, and, most disturbingly of over 6000 bodies.

And there's this feeling that grips me, this feeling that there's nothing I could ever do to protect myself, my wife or my son (I know that's a MCP attitude, but I'm sure Jen feels the same way about Joey and me.) And I wonder every night if tomorrow some new insanity will strike. I jump every time a car backfires. I run 2 miles a night (yes, frightening but true. This started a while before all this happened and I'm down to a not-quite-slim-yet 225lbs, thank you very much) and every time a plane flies overhead I flinch. I watched President's Bush's speech on TV tonight, and every time the picture flickered a little (I don't have cable, so 2 is really the only reliable channel- the others are coming and going- for those of you not in NYC, the WTC had all the broadcast antennas for the area except channel 2, leaving those of us cable-less with only CBS ) I thought "oh shit, what's happening now?" Every time I hear a siren, I wonder what's happened. The QM4 bus got held up at the Midtown tunnel yesterday (connecting Queens to Manhattan) because there was an accident. Of course, everyone seeing a bunch of flashing lights and emergency vehicles as we approach a tunnel, we instantly look around like caged animals, wondering if stage 2 had begun.

I feel guilty. Part of me tells myself that I have no right to feel so hurt or so angry- my family and my friends are all safe, and I'm alive and healthy. I'm a civilian now, I don't have to worry like so many others do. Who am I to feel so much? There are some without homes, without jobs, without their wives/sons/husbands/dads/daughters/brothers/sisters/fiancées... oh, you get the picture. I feel like I'm just whining.

I can't help being angry. We have the freedom of religion, but we jump out of our skins if someone says a prayer before a graduation ceremony or a football game. We have the freedom to own firearms, but we curse any law abiding citizen who owns one, while passing more and more lenient laws against criminals who use them. We showed the world that our presidency is a joke, that we don't care about our own history, our pride. We have a popular culture that demands more and more freedoms, but damns those who give/gave their lives and personal freedoms to protect the ones we have. I watched the speech, saw Democrats and Republicans give up their petty bickering that's been tearing the country to pieces, for the first time since WW2. It gives me a boost of hope, and I pray the sentiment lasts longer than this week, and reaches further than military resolve- into fixing our school system, into caring more about our OWN country's welfare, into bringing back production into this country so people can have jobs and learn trades to feed their families. I hope our politicians will stop trying to convince group A that everyone in groups B, C, and Q hates them, just to get their block of votes, then running around like idiots and asking "why?" when that hate turns to violence. I hope we learn to accept and love each other because we're Americans, despite our preference/denomination/color/sex. God, two weeks ago, that statement would have sounded so corny, wouldn't it?

We're at war, but we don't really know against who. There's no clear enemy, no one knows who will attack or when. Will it be us or them? Will it be "Us" or some nut like McVeigh, thinking we'll blame foreign terrorists instead of domestic? I realize I live on an island, and the only way to the rest of the world is by crossing another island (either Staten Island or Manhattan) Am I going to worry over every bridge and tunnel I cross for the rest of my life? And if it's "them," what form will it take? Watching 6000 people die as the WTC go down in flames is one thing. Watching millions in a city die from Anthrax in our water supply is another.

I'm sorry if I see this as just an NYC thing. It's hard to grasp that this is affecting the whole country.

It's an uncertain time, it's become an uncertain world. I just want you all to be certain that I love every one of you.

Those of you who've been forwarding bits of editorials, news items, letters, etc. Thank you, but it's you who's opinion I'm interested in. Let me know what you're thinking & feeling, if you'd like- you're more important.

Love each other, stay safe, and live your lives, for yourself and for each other.


Wow, You're Deep, Man!

The Illustration Friday word of the week is DEPTH. It looks cool with anaglyph (red & blue) 3d glasses. Get it? Depth- 3d glasses! I crack myself up!


Monday, September 05, 2005

Toot Toot Toot, Toot Your Own Geeky Horn…

After only about 5 hours, I've figured out the goddamn Myst V demo! (Which, of course, was only one puzzle.) WHAT A RUSH! I can't wait till the real game comes out… and comes down in price after no one buys it at $50 :P Hint: pay attention to what the old geezer with the Slavic accent tells you…

(Yes, I am a geek)

Speaking of horn tootin', Joe's new bowling score is 71! Me, I can't seem to go higher than 156- it must be all the hip-hop crap the bowling alley plays.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Would Alex Haley Hang This On His Wall?

The Illustration Friday word of the week is ROOTS. Ok, I could explain something clever, witty & insightful here, but I think it speaks for itself.

All right, I give. Here's a nugget: The world you see, hear, touch, smell and taste is NOT the real world. It is just a model of the real world created in our minds based on the data we receive from our senses. In fact, being aware of our own brains, which houses our minds, puts the model of the brain inside of our minds, giving you TWO brains, one inside of the other. And once you realize that fact, there are THREE minds, and so forth and so forth into a chain of infinite minds, all inside of your own head. (For more mind blowing shit, read something by Robert Anton Wilson, like the Illuminatus Trilogy- coauthored by Robert Shea.)

TTFN, kiddies

Tony Explains it All #2

Lyn asks, "Do cows get bored ?"

Short answer: Not if they keep moo-ving.

Long Answer: Cows actually have a hyper-slow brain, so to them, they're living a fast, exciting "live quick-die young" lifestyle. You see, a cow's day is like a hundred of our days. This is much like the answer we often got in CCD to the question, "How did God create the world in 6 days?" - "Because one of God's days is like a million of our years." Ergo, Cows are microcosms of God (but then, aren't we all?)

Take care, folks. Feel free to dig deep into my vast pool of knowledge.


PS Joe's new bowling HS is 58! Go Joe! You'll have that blue collar & beer gut in no time...