Living 'softly.
a look into Zach Robinson
"Disneyland or Mexico?", me to Ken, last weekend's trip to California

WARNING: This is a semi-private journal that may offend you. If you feel like this may be the case, mosey along now. If you do continue reading, you can send me feedback if you want.

Beyond that, here's your further chance to modify what you read:
You'll need to refresh the page if you change these options. If either is unclicked, adult or private entries will not show up and instead you'll see a message saying a private section has been turned off.

Entries: | | | | | | | | | | | |

Previous archives: Start (3/97). 12/99. 1/00.

Ack. Too much to do to have a chance to write much yet, but briefly...

I put up the ZachCam Gallery. My favorite picture is the roses.

Legoland, short review: It's probably just a one-day visit. A great place to take a date: it's small and fun and charming. The rides are relatively boring for adults, but for kids they would be good. Its biggest attraction is probably the modeling in MiniTown, where they have scale Lego-built models of various U.S. cities. This was breath-taking. They have several theater performances throughout the park, which I thought were very funny and should be fun for kids too. I'd highly recommend the Lego car racing area, where you get to build Lego cars to race against other kids. We probably spent about an hour there trying to make good cars. A good trick is just to put two big wheels together on an axel: that goes faster than a lot of the cars. We didn't get to the MindStorms sessions, but Mark says he really enjoyed that when he went. The Boat Tour of MiniLand is a must. This is extra cool in that people on the bridge above can push buttons to activate water spouts, potentially splashing you.

An Alaska airline flight from Mexico to Seattle crashed yesterday. I wasn't on it, but it's still frightening. My mom called to make sure I was okay. That was sweet. She's great.

I lost at the Valentine's Day game. told me I am unloved. I think is cruel and mean. I started my own Valentine's Day Contest which I think is far superior to theirs. I've started a page for testimonials which I'll be putting up soon.

I am still so incredibly at peace from the vacation. I'm sitting here listening to "Every Day" from Les Miz and little tears of happiness come to my eyes. Life is a beautiful thing. I am just tap-dancing right now. I had the best vacation, came back to rain (I love rain), worked hard all day long to finish up a bunch of stuff which of course my bosses love, my mom calls me because she's worried about me (that was so sweet), I went on a great date last night, and I got to see Kate (coolest person in the world) last night.

I went out with Cynthia last night to Bridges (right next to Allison street, oddly enough) for dinner. They had great french onion soup but a so-so caesar salad. Cynthia is a lot of fun to talk to. She's intelligent, has a good sense of humor, we have a lot of the same interests, and she's a lot of fun while still being mature. She is really cool. She baked me cookies. Big brownie points there. She quoted poetry to me (well, I started it, but hey: points for her). She knew most of the poetry I was referencing, likes theater, sings... heck, we both sang various pieces to each other at dinner, and even did a couple duets. After dinner we sat around listening to a couple favorite musical pieces (I played her Buffalo Tom's Torch Singer, she played me Eric Cohn's From the Station, which I hadn't previously heard), then had ice cream and cookies. She had an amazingly rich orange-raspberry-pineapple swirl ice cream which had the most amazing texture on your tongue.

It was commented that I made a lot of observations but no judgments upon her in my write-up of the first date. This was because I've been trying to be more cautious in my judgments these days: I don't want to rush into or away from anything, I want to take life one day at a time. I find that I invariably end up getting hurt - or hurting someone else - when things are rushed into. I asked a couple friends, and they generally agreed with this policy: the first date is whether you find out if you can be friends, the second where you get to know each other, and then sometime after that is where you first really think about trying to assess if there's any chemistry.

Right now, I have to say this woman is fine. Poetry, home-baked cookies, song... she's an educated feminist, a theater fan, communicates frankly, socially liberal, is very centered... I'm very impressed at this point. We talk very easily about anything and everything. We were talking about homosexuality (in the context of religion, I think) and she just point blank asked me if I was gay. That made me chuckle because that's not a question I get asked often. I'm not even sure how the question came up, but I liked the directness on her part. I don't get enough directness in my life.

At this point... things continue apace. So the next question is where do I want to take things, and that's the really really tricky part. I've learned the hard way that it's not fair to put someone on hold because of someone else. If you need to make a choice, you have to make that choice. We haven't begun to talk of where we are right now, but at the same time the cookies and some other hints (just a little more freedom in touch on her part than I would expect, given that I'm being very physically shy) make me think that I'm an Interesting Guy to her.

She's mature, my age (older, actually), interesting, romantic, open-minded, appears to have her life in order... I don't know. I'll have to see how things go. I've learned not to step into anything when one's heart is a'jumble, and I think I'm a little a'jumbled right now. I'm trying to wrap up loose ends, but that's never easy... you simply don't get closure sometimes.

I guess in the final analysis, it comes down to whether what I could have with Cynthia is more what I want than anything else. I don't know what an ongoing relationship with her would be like, but right now I've got to admit things are pretty fantastic. Is this just me being overenthusiastic from having a good vacation and running into a great person? I think she definitely has to meet my friends in some context before I can judge her... it's entirely possible that I just have oodles of positive energy stored up right now (I've been working too much), and so it's being channeled to a hearty opinion of her. I doubt that that's the case, but right now caution is king.

And hey: the longer I wait, the more the rest of my life has a chance to sort itself out.

We had the same referee tonight that we had a couple weeks back. I recognized him right away, so warned both teams to prior to the game just not say anything to him. We ended up losing 4-2 in a pretty good game. We simply had no midfield support all game long, though, which will kill you every time.

After the game, we went out to Hattie's Hat in Ballard. Usually when the Blue Crew went out to eat, it would be just the Microsoft guys and maybe one or two other people. Amazingly, last night almost everyone from the team (Juventas) came: there were probably 12 of us there. That was nice because it was Tim's birthday and we all got to sing and be a team, which I don't think we usually are: we're just a collection of people playing soccer. No practices, not a lot of get-togethers... something like this is a start.

One of my friends on the team had commented that Erika was the most attractive woman on our soccer team, which I'd have to agree with. I got to sit next to her at dinner, which didn't exactly make me sad. We talked a little bit and colored some (I stole some crayons from the waiter). But I was sitting opposite Anne (different Anne) who works at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and frankly she was a lot more interesting to me. There's just so many silly ideas you can throw around involving foundations, so I spent most of dinner asking her ludicrous questions. For example, I asked if they ever got requests for mass quantities of individually wrapped sliced processed cheese (a Tung-Tung reference for those of you that know The Tick far too well). She assured me they didn't. She never cracked up laughing, but she was a good sport about it. Our waiter was a really nice guy, very funny. Kate and I split the bill (since it was Tim's birthday), and I made sure to give him a nice fat tip as he had held up well to the pressures of a soccer team. I gave Tim a Splunge CD for his birthday.

B*stards: Art of Noise went on tour last October. That would have been so much fun to go to. Aigh. I miss all the really great concerts.

I'm part of two class action lawsuits now, I believe. That's unexpected. It turns out that there's a class-action lawsuit being brought against Seiko for terminating service on the pager-watches, and since I have a pager-watch it looks like I'll get a check for $30. That's weird. I don't really care. It was a good watch back when I wanted a watch, and products become obsolete. According to the latest rulings, I may also be part of the Microsoft Temporary Employee class-action lawsuit, since I was a temp for a while back in 1995. That should be a bit more than $30 if it ever gets settled. I would never pursue either case by myself because I disagree with the philosophy involved in the plaintiff's side in either case. But if they're going to be handing me free money... okay.

I've been thinking more about Cynthia. We have another date tonight. This will be fairly simple... I'm going to cook, then we're going to play games or watch a movie. Something low-key because I'm a little exhausted.

It's been said that you can't know light without knowing darkness. I think that applies well to Cynthia. A lot of the qualities I find especially interesting in her - good communication, centeredness, maturity - I think I notice more because they've been lacking in various of the girls I've dated previously. It means a lot to the relationship, whatever kind it is, to communicate with someone regularly, to let them know what you're up to and how you feel.

I have tickets to Carmina Burana in Portland two weeks from now. I thought about asking her, but I didn't want to force myself into an awkward situation. If I go with someone to Carmina, I'd want it to be with someone I was sure of where I'd be willing to take things with if anything got started - and more importantly, of what kind of relationship I'd be interested in having with them. She doesn't fit into those category yet.

I have tickets to Lakme at the Seattle Opera March 4th. I asked someone, but haven't gotten an answer yet.

My brothers were fairly unhappy back at Christmas when I was talking about Anne. They didn't like that I could have feelings for someone who had been so, in their opinion, rude to me. One thing they never could understand was how I could have dated someone who would read at the Harry Connick, Jr. concert I took her to, since my brothers know how much music means to me. That should have been the highlight of a hugely romantic weekend, and instead it was... blah. I went out of my way to set up everything right for a great get-away, and it just didn't seem to be something she was very interested in engaging in. It's not me, but it still doesn't feel good when what matters to you is treated so lightly by someone else. If you're not interested, let me know - don't make me waste my energy on a doomed project. I would have been so much happier at the concert by myself, and we probably would have been happier just staying at my apartment or such, rather than out at the Salish Lodge.

But that's how women in my life have been for the past couple years... I can't think of any exceptions... the woman I'm dating invariably does something or acts in some fashion I can't fathom, and I try to make things work but at the same time you lose a little respect for someone who doesn't treat you well. I've made my mistakes too, but I am willing to bust my ass to make amends where I've done wrong. To other people... that's just not a priority. Maybe I'm tired and cranky and it's all just a misperception. But even if the relationship is dead, I got into the relationship because of a friendship, and I still try to make that friendship work. If I like you enough to date you, that usually means I want to remain friends with you.

I've said before that I first really get to know the woman I've dated after we break up, because then is when I discover how they treat their friends. Obviously things are different after you've dated. But when you're dating you get such a skewed perspective of how they treat people. That's why I'm trying to take things slower these days... I think how potential girlfriends treat people they *don't* want something from (or with) has to take increased focus in my mind as I continue looking for the right person.

Everyone says you can't change people, and I think I've got to start listening to that. I see potential and I want to work with that, to realize what could be between the two of us. And I keep hearing the right things from the girls I've dated, but what I hear and what I experience are different things entirely.

What would it be like to date someone who was straight-forward and honest and romantic and interesting and fun?

Trip To DisneyLand: Day One.
I'm supposed to meet Ken at the airport for our 5:45p.m. flight. I haven't planned the *specifics* well, but generally I know what's going to happen. One of the specifics I didn't plan was getting to the airport, so at 11a.m. I call Eastside Towncar (206-919-1173: ask for a towncar, not a limo, and you get a nice private car taking you to the airport for $45, at least from Redmond) and thankfully that's taken care of. I'm rushing through work all day long trying to wrap up loose ends, and the driver arrives right while I'm in the middle of a major check-in. Thankfully he says that there's no rush, so I finish up and leave. As I get to the front of the building, I realize this is a limo, not a towncar. That was a pleasant surprise. The driver is a young immigrant (maybe 21), and is really great. It reminded of the fact that I've always liked driving people, so being a chauffeur later in life is appealing to me. It was a little weird being in the limo by myself. I was on the phone almost the entire time, trying to wrap up loose ends before I got to the airport, so I didn't notice it much, but I think this was only the second time I've been in a limo all by myself. I highly highly recommend Eastside Towncar over shuttles: the extra $10 is incredibly worth it (and it's cheaper than taxis, too). You can start and finish the trip on a much more pleasant note.

I got my review this day, so I called my mom to tell her about it briefly. I work as part of a fantastic development group, and I was frankly surprised at how well I did on my review. The reviews are done on an enforced bell curve, so I had assumed I was going to be negatively affected by how great a team I work on. but I wasn't: I did great. I was shocked - I told my manager I was really surprised and complimented - , and that helped start the weekend off on a very positive note.

So we get to the airport. I'm finally off the phone at this point, although Scott is still supposed to call me, and I need to order flowers or something nice for Anne because she's been under the weather and I care about my friends. But I stay off the phone long enough to get my plane tickets. Of all the dumb stupid luck, I find out to my chagrin that I have the infectious pop song Woman in the Wall by the Beautiful South stuck in my head. We all get songs stuck in our head at some points, but this was especially frustrating because it's an infectious pop song about someone who accidentally murders their love, which is simply not the kind of infectious pop song I want to have running about my head. Grr! Curse Alison and her taste in music!

So I got my ticket, and was waiting for Ken to arrive. As I was waiting for Ken, I was noticing how much variety you get in people encountered at airports. I was taking notes about their types as they walked by: the beaten-down, the studly, the model, the professional, the... Ken! Ken got his ticket and we headed off to the plane. I hadn't eaten anything maybe all day, so I grabbed two Whoppers and a Pokemon Burger King crown that I put on. I used an Internet terminal at the airport to send Anne a get-better soon e-mail, but I really do *not* recommend them: they are almost impossible to type on.

As we passed through the security gates, both Ken and I buzzed. But there was some problem with the baggage conveyor that distracted everyone, so I just grabbed my bag and proceeded in without being scanned, since no one seemed to care much about me any further. Crack, I say, *crack* security.

When we got on the plane, it turned out that Ken and I weren't sitting next to each other. Don't ever get your electonic tickets at a different time than your travel partner. <frown>

I put my bags in the overhad bin - I hardly ever check baggage anymore. I'm having trouble maintaining my handgrip on everything as I'm doing this (I had the Whoppers, a book, the suitcase, and the coat I'd taken off). I'm sitting there struggling to put my suitcase in the overheard compartment, wearing a Pokemon Burger King crown, feeling like a complete buffoon. Falling all over myself, I look at the 40ish professional sitting on the plane in his suit, wondering what kind of jerk he thinks I am, and then it hits me: the likelihood is strong that me, the bumbling fool, is having more fun with life (my measure of success) and making more money than him (standard measure of success). So now I'm falling all over myself and trying not to bust out laughing as he looks upon me disapprovingly. It's a new weird world, and some strange folks (like myself) are being pushed into the upper middle class (? I don't recall the levels at which these are classified) without any of the proper upbringing and appreciation for what we have. I understand where's he coming from as he sits there in judgment upon me, but this society is devolving to where most anything goes, and the fact that I pack poorly just isn't going to ruin my career.

I sit down to eat my Whoppers. B*stards: no napkin. I settle down to reading my book (Lasn's Culture Jam) and very carefully eating. The attendant starts saying the standard airline safety tips over the intercom, but the stewardess, Tina, is acting them out in a delightfully funny fashion. She struggles to get the buckle together, then says happily as she displays the buckled buckle: "Four years of college!" We all clapped for her when she finished.

Culture Jam is fantastic. I'm reading this and Posner's Sex and Reason right now - both of which I would very highly recommend.

Alaska Airlines puts little homilies in their meal trays. I dislike this. I asked them if they would do this for the kosher meals, to which they replied yes. That's really annoying to me. I don't force my personal philosophies upon you, why do it to me? Hmph.

We arrive at San Diego and get on the shuttle to our rental car. Ken and I are sitting in the back of the shuttle, just talking about life and whatever interests us. Ken is a very interesting very funny guy, and we riff off each other very well. So we're performing this long comedy riff about culture or such (I don't really recall) and this Australian couple to our right pretending not to be snooping keeps cracking up laughing. Finally they get brave enough to talk to us about sports - they were confused about the "World Series" of baseball and et cetera, and Ken provided sarcastic questions to them. It's nice to be with someone it's easy to be funny with.

We had told the Australian couple that we were getting a convertible rental car for our stay. They were very jealous about this. They actually offered the Alamo people extra to switch us to their car and give them the convertible, but the Alamo people were "nice" and let us keep the convertible. I was still wearing my Pokemon Burger King crown at this point - I had largely forgotten about it except when people commented upon it - and so the rental agent felt he could be silly too. The agent asked if Ken wanted a car of his own, Ken replied, "I'm with him.", to which the agent replied, "You are? That's great!" - which I thought was darn funny.

We put everything in the car and left for the Paradise Point Resort where we were staying. It was amazingly easy to find the place, so Ken and I started suggesting to each other that this was all some sound stage mock-up. Paradise Point is fantastic. They have all sorts of fun things to do - including a croquet court and an 18 hole putting golf course - and are right opposite SeaWorld. We unpacked, and I dropped off the first ~6 postcards I'd written so far.

We hadn't really planned what to do Friday night, so we drove downtown to see San Diego.

It took a while to find anything, but we at last hit downtown San Diego. It was an amazing scene of trendy pretty people. We went to the Ghiradella's soda fountain and got some ice cream to eat out on their patio while people-watching. I picked up a bunch of chocolate for friends. People watching was fun.

I miss the lack of a concrete "Scene" in Seattle, the kind that I've seemed to find in cities like San Diego and maybe Portland. Maybe we're just not as trendy? But at the same time I'm watching all these people go by and thinking is this what I would really want to do with my time? This would be fun for a couple weeks, but then I would get sick of how superficial being part of the Scene would be. Don't get me wrong: I love music and I love to dance, but Seattle doesn't have a Scene the way other cities do, and while part of my likes the idea of being part of a Scene briefly, another part hates the idea.

As I was sitting there thinking about what life would be like in a city like this, I realized I really had no idea what the lives of my friends in distant cities were like. Most people in Seattle, I've got basic clues as to what their lives are like because I ask and pay attention, but with my friends in other cities... no clue. They work or go to school, be single (seems to be a common theme... I don't think I have any long-distance friends with boyfriends, oddly enough), and likely eat and sleep, but even that's just assumption. I've visited Liz, but even that was a tourist visit, not a real slice of her life. I think in the future I'm going to make my visits to friends very simple and just ask to walk the city in their shoes for a day, so they can show me their favorite haunts and whatnot.

We finished up our ice cream, headed home, popped into bed, and slept with visions of Legos dancing in our heads.

Yay. Football season is over at long last. My grandfather was a big 49er's fan, and I keep half of an eye on football so that I can take part in the family football critiques, but... I'd rather do about a zillion things other than watch or hear about football. So now, it's basketball season! Yay! People are starting to use my stats engine again. It's kind of weird. Most fantasy leagues are half over by now (my team, Raging Streams, is #1 in the league but the #2 team is breathing hard down my neck), but about now is usually when I first start getting a bunch of mails on StatGuy. If you're just starting to pay attention to stats now, I've got to tell you that you're probably better off in a Fantasy Tiddlywinks League. <grin> I'm not a big sports fan in general - it's yet another mindless form of entertainment providing a cheap cultural touchstone for today's relationships - but if I'm going to watch sports, I find the athleticism of basketball (requiring speed, power, endurance, and finesse) unparalleled by anything but soccer and thus interesting to watch.

Please note that our mail carrier is part ogre, and in order to help prevent any snail mail from being squooshed in transit, you should probably line it with tasty chocolate chip cookies.

Washington State was recently ranked as #1 as the state most fully protecting the right to choice (NARAL press release of 1/13/00) . That makes me happy. I like NARAL and what it stands for. It's a religion-level issue so no one is going to convince me to change my opinions nor will I convince many others to change theirs, but I'm glad people like NARAL are out there fighting the good fight. I wanted to go to their fund raiser last week, but I found out at the last minute and had something else planned. I'm donating to them anyways, I'd just like to be more involved. The curse of too much life and too little time.

I went to the SPU Talent Show last night with my parents. My brother was in the show cast, so we got to watch him destroy the family name. It was hilarious. He came out dressed/dancing as a Greaser, as Jordan from New Kids on the Block (sorry, that should be "NKOTB", I guess), and at one point wore some weird super-tight 70's outfit that almost burst off of him, it was so tight. The talent acts were fairly interesting. The couple sitting next to us had their son in the first a capella group performing. They were very good but had poor music to work with. There was a somewhat weird monologue written/given by one girl. I don't think monologues are very good talent show fodder, especially halting pensive ones like hers. She was a good actress, just again challenged by poor source material. That was a problem all night long. The worst was one group that *tried* to cover Bridge Over Troubled Waters in a rock/jazz version. Don't get me wrong: they were good, but that's such a classic... you're bound to fall flat comparatively. Cover something like "Anything For You" by Meatloaf. There were a lot of good groups... spend maybe a week more in the music room digging up just the right piece, and probably any of them could have walked off with the grand prize. One guitarist, John Warren, wrote and played a guitar/vocal piece called "Through It All" about how God was always there for him, through it all. His guitar snapped a string midway through. He kept going and ended up winning "Most Creative" - presumably for managing to salvage his act. It would have been a little heart-breaking if that had stopped him, but he kept going and I was really impressed by this. I would probably have been almost in tears after working so hard at something and having it snap apart like that. brrr. That's frightening. At intermission, I went out with my parents to the snack bar to get candy and pop. They were talking with the couple who had sat next to us (who knew me from when I was ~2 or so), so I let my attention wander. I saw someone that looked like Jenny from U.W. Drama (Theater Dangerously). I said, "Jenny?". She said "Yes?" and we talked for a little bit until I got a little suspicious and it turns out there is a Jenny-look-alike named Jenny at SPU - not the U.W. Drama Jenny, though. Since I had bought much candy, I gave her a chocolate bar for her troubles.

Remind me next time to just say no to religious talent shows. It was a little like when I wrote a rap song for an American History class assignment on a whim. Conceptually, it was quirky and fun, but you'd never want to actually *perform* an American History rap song. Of course the teacher loved it, so I had to share it with the class, thinking all the time: I should never have started down this line. That's kind of how I felt about some of the acts last night. Religious choral, jazz, gospel music, hell yes, religious monologues, rap, hip hop, rock, heck no. Retrospectively, I think it odd not to have seen any religious jazz or gospel pieces. Moby did a couple great electronica/gospel cross-over tracks on Play (most notably Run On). I'm surprised that that didn't apparently influence any of the contestants' musical choices.

We went to Mix Ice Cream afterwards (the new name for Marbletop Creamery after some lawsuit they lost). On a whim I had sweet cream, honey, and raspberries, which was fantastic. I'm going to have to take people to Mix more often: that's mighty tasty.

My mind tends to wander when not fully engaged, and since most of the talent show pieces were pretty fluffy... I came up with what I think is a great Valentine's Day plan. I really like doing nice things for people, and I think I scoped out maybe one of my top plans ever for a single friend. Unfortunately, it's far too easy to have nice actions misconstrued. I don't really want anything with anyone right now, but being nice sometimes confuses people. As much as it would make me happy to go forward with the plan, I don't think I can just because I don't want to invite trouble.

My brother said he'd be willing to jog at Greenlake with me. That would be nice. I don't jog much in part because I don't have a jogging partner. As I meet new people, I ask them if they jog, but no one seems to like jogging much. Anyways, he's a real sweetheart. My family in general is just incredibly cool, and they seem to grow more so over time. It's nice seeing new sides of people you've known all your life. I get to get e-mail from my mom, see more of my dad's sense of humor, see Dustin's positive inner strength, Derek's maturity... it's been a great past couple years with them.

I think I'm narrowing down on my plans for this year. I generally have the next ~4 months of travel scoped out already, although I have yet to fit in visiting Derek over at WSU. It'll be fun to see what his school is like after all the deprecation I've heard heaped upon it over the years. I'm starting to actually plan for moving out of Redmond. I've gotten a basic resume together now, and think I'll start circulating it around in a little bit with the idea of maybe moving to a new city come September. It wouldn't be hard to get me to stay here, but true love (or "Wuv, Twoo Wuv" for Princess Bride fans) is what I want out of life and I don't think Redmond is necessarily where I'm going to find that. So why not take a chance in a new city?

I had my third date with Cynthia Thursday. We'd gone out to the opera the first time and dinner the second time, so I thought we'd have a more quiet time together. I had hoped to cook her dinner, but unfortunately I was running late so I didn't have time to pick up ingredients before I went home. I bustled about at home, vacuuming and picking up things before she was to come over. 6:30 came and went and she still wasn't there, so I reorganized some shelves, and kept waiting. Eventually, I decided to wait outside for her in case she was lost. I felt a little peeved... if I'd known she was running late, I could have gotten dinner ingredients. Humph. The stars were amazing. Orion was right overhead, and I started singing The Arms of Orion (probably my favorite Prince song- it doesn't sound like anything else you've heard of his). I saw Cynthia's car pulling up just as I had decided to go listen to Prince singing it. Since she was fairly late and I knew she couldn't see me, I went inside and got the Prince tape. Then I let her in, and gave her the tour as I sang along. That's an amazing song. She commented that she didn't usually like Prince, but she liked this song. It was on the Batman soundtrack and not a lot of people have heard, but most tend to like it.

As she was inspecting my CD, book, and movie collections I played for her various bits of Moby, Big Blue, The Power of One, and Uncle Bonsai. She liked them. Moby isn't something I'd ever really play for someone, but I was in a dance mood before she came over, so I'd been half-dancing/half-cleaning to it and decided to play her a couple of my favorite tracks. She made the comment that I must have been living 30 hour days to have acquired such a diverse body of interests, which I think ranks among the top five compliments I've ever received.

The tour and discussion thereof took about two hours, so it was about 9:30 before we really started thinking about food. Since it was late, we decided to order Chinese food. We'd talked about playing games or movies. Since it was kind of late we decided to watch L.A. Story. I didn't tell her that she was being brave. <grin>. We watched the movie and ate the food. I offered her the choice between using my Sandman or Microsoft mugs for her tea. She chose the Microsoft mug - no bonus points for her there. I don't think the Sandman mug will ever mean much to most woman I invite over for tea ('cept Anne), but the first woman who picks the Sandman mug and/or knows what Sandman is will get a big hug.

After the movie, we sat about and shared a box of Winnie the Pooh chocolates I'd brought back from Disneyland. Of all things, the box had *coffee* chocolates! Yeeech.

Before she left, we exchanged innocent kisses. She said she liked how I kissed, which was a little surprising in that I don't pay that much attention to non-french kisses. We talked a little and she likes that I'm gentle and not trying to rush things. I've been there, done that... I'm tired of rushing into things and getting either of our hopes up and then having them dashed. As I've said before, I want to build up into whatever relationship comes next in my life. I've done a terrible job of establishing bases for relationships in the past - thinking you can build the friendship from the relationship - and now I want to do it the other way around. And yes that's an unfair generalization but I'm allowed to make damning sweeping statements about myself.

Tami says if you're with the right person they give you butterflies. I've certainly had the butterflies before. I haven't had them with C as of yet. Tami says you know right away. Maybe they aren't here or maybe it's just because I'm being cautious.

I'm bouncing around the idea of asking Erin to Carmina. I figure anyone I go with should either be an ex-girlfriend or someone I've never kissed - either way avoiding any intimations of confusion about why I'd ask them overnight somewhere. Kate would be a good choice, but she always appreciates *not* being asked to the opera, so I'll continue Not Asking her.

I'm going to the Winter Ball this coming Friday with Anne. That should be fun.

I got my new Art of Noise Seduce Me t-shirts. Alas, they say "Seduce Me" in big letters on the *front* of the shirt, whereas my first shirt had "seduce me" written in teeeeeny letters on the back and thus was much more cool and subtle, not semi-obnoxious like these. These are still cool, but much less stylish. And lest you think I'm a pervert, these are for the album "The Seduction of Claude DeBussy". Much more importantly... there's another Art of Noise concert coming up! This one is Shepherds Bush Empire in Europe. Of course I have no passport yet, but HA! I have already bought two tickets and found a flight (leave March 21st, come back the 26th) with a good price. Now I just have to convince Kirt to let me take the time off, find a travel partner (this may be incredibly difficult), and someplace to stay. This could be cool. My three reachable resolutions for this year were to visit LegoLand (done), finish my resume (almost done), and get my passport (I'd have to do that for this concert). Life continues to be incredibly cool.

I haven't gotten to day three of my travel's yet, but I had to tell Ken the tale so I'll just post this now...

At the airport in San Diego, I was fairly bored waiting to board our plane. I didn't really feel like reading, so wandered about. I had some extra pictures in my LegoLand Polaroid camera, so I took one picture of a little kid and gave it to him. That made him *really* excited, so I went and got my 3' wide sombrero and took another picture of him wearing that hat. He was delighted. The hat kept falling down over his face which made it an ever more enjoyable picture. His parents were really amused.

As I was so amusing myself, I saw a woman who looked a lot like Janice, except older and with a more angular face. I was a little struck, but let it pass.

We eventually got on the plane. The Janice-lookalike was on the plane with us. The plane took off. I wrote some final postcards, read a little, talked some more with Ken, and settled down for a nap. I woke up a while later feeling a little refreshed. I'd been thinking about trying to say hi to the woman, but couldn't think of how. I'd never want to start up talking to someone on an airplane that I wasn't sitting next to - it's a closed environment and I would never approach anyone where they weren't able to walk away easily - it would just be too awkward. Then I realized that my problem approaching her could *be* how I approached her! I wrote her a little postcard:

If we had met at a ballroom, I would have asked you to dance. If we met at a park, I would have picked you flowers. But we're just sharing a flight. Unsure of protocol, I decided to send you a postcard.

Of course, I couldn't give it to her on the plane, so I'd have to give it to her off the plane. And I didn't want to put her on the spot, so I'd have to give it to her and walk away. Normally, I would have left the postcard at that but I've been told that if I'm going to do nice things like this I should put my number, so after much internal turmoil I added:

If you'd like to go pick apples sometime, call. Otherwise know that you're beautiful and have a great week.

So we finally landed. Ken went out to meet Mary - I thought it was so cool that she came to pick him up - and I forced myself to bid them a hasty goodbye so I could catch up and deliver the postcard. (We still haven't done the post-trip get-together. I had a lot of fun traveling with him, as I thought I would.) I finally caught up with her near the baggage pick-up and noticed that she was walking a bit funny. I'd never gotten much of a glance at anything other than her face, so I thought I'd keep walking past her so I could turn around and get a good look at her, to have a better feel for her. Lo and behold, she was walking funny because she was ~7 months pregnant. I felt like such a heel. I should have just left the postcard as it was originally. Since it was undeliverable in its current form, I turned around and caught a shuttle home, feeling like a complete the entire ride.

The moral of the story to me is that if I'm going to do or say nice things for people, I just can't put my # on them. I'd rather miss out on twenty interesting dates than make one woman feel awkward.

Blech, blech, blech.

(and swearing only shows up in Adult mode thanks to the nifty Swear(); function I wrote, just in case you were concerned that I might be corrupting innocent eyes reading this page.)

I went shopping for some new dumbbells last week. The ones I have (90lbs, 80lbs) are too heavy to do very many reps with. I got some 25kg (~50lb) weights, and those are much easier to work with. I asked the guy working there if he knew what unit "25" referred to, and he didn't know either - he guessed pounds (incorrectly) too. It was nice to someone else making the same NASA-esque mistake I did.

I spent several hours Sunday walking around Capitol Hill with Julie, helping her look for a new apartment. Not too remarkable, but I was really struck by how beautiful the Pacific Northwest is. A couple blocks down from Broadway you can get an amazing view of the Lake and the Cascades. If I do end up staying here, the beauty of the area will definitely be one of the major reasons why. She thanked me for a 'fabulous Sunday', which made me feel good. I've been getting a lot of warm fuzzies from people lately. I've got a very strong sense of self - it's part of what makes me me - but still, it can be nice to be appreciated.

I bought a wonderful Valentine's Day picnic basket down at Coronado Resort on my vacation. It has all sorts of tasty foods - chocolates, smoked salmon, crackers, etc. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. I could bring it with me this weekend and share it with Anne. But it's a great romantic package, and I'm not sure if sharing it with Anne is something I'd want. She has a unique and wonderful perspective and there are many reasons why I have a natural affinity towards her... but I'm not sure if I want to do anything romantic with her. Given how badly my previous attempts at romantic excursions with her have failed, I think I'll just leave the picnic basket at home. It's not that I'm trying to pursue anything with her, it's that this is something that if she was appreciative of, I would have a lot of fun sharing with her as a friend. But if she's not going to care one way or the other, I have even more impetus to save my picnic for someone else.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of thinking on relationships and what I want out of them.

I tend to be fairly passive about ensuring that I get what I want out of romantic relationships. I very much enjoy making other people happy, but at times that's been at my expense. So now I'm finding myself looking for love, not just a relationship. I'm trying not to get too engaged when I'm unsure of how I feel for someone. It's easy for me to be friends with someone - I simply know who I like. I feel very close to certain people by nature, attracted to others by nature and for a very rare few I both feel close to and desire them.

I described to a friend that Anne and I are 'casual'. What's meant by that is that we both find each other attractive, usually get along very well... but I think both of us feel the lack of a certain connection between us. Until that kind of connection could be made - and neither of us thinks it is possible while she's in school - there's no point to being involved. And since it's entirely possible that that connection will never develop, we're both going our own ways and being friends in the mean-time. But she's someone who I have an internal weakness for. She'll send me something small in mail - and I'm really a sucker for small kind gestures - and I'll be really happy. She has the ability to make my stomach tingle, but my head and heart don't think she's right yet. So we're 'casual.' I keep hoping she'll meet someone and fall in love. I'll be ever so happy when she graduates and can start living for herself and not for school.

Cynthia... I feel very close to. It's amazing how well and easily we get along. She said she felt like she was "coming home" when she sees me. We got together and made Boboli pizza Monday. It's so fun being with her. It took us about two hours to make the pizza just because we were talking, laughing, and playing so much - my can opener burst apart, so we had a couple fights with the juice from cans that had drenched us. After that we exchanged poetry, quotes, and songs again. I am so delighted to be around someone who reads me poetry. She even brought me a book of poems as a gift. I shared with her a couple of my poems, and she seemed to like them quite a lot. Things are so very comfortable between us. I feel like we've been friends for years. With the bad luck I've had in girlfriends for the past couple years, I keep expecting something to be wrong with her. But she's been perfect so far. And of course in return... I'm just not feeling butterflies for her. Only once have I ever had butterflies develop after the first week or so of knowing someone: typically they are just *there*.

I knew the way you know about a good melon.

-woman in documentary, When Harry Met Sally

On the other hand, the one time where they did develop over time - with Marie - it developed into the longest relationship I've ever had. I've been trying to put about a three month wait on any relationship before I start getting too romantically intimate, so things should be pretty fleshed out by then. I'm a little extra anxious because she seems so in to me. It's nice to be appreciated, but at a certain point it starts being a little uncomfortable... it feels like there's a gap between the two of you. Maybe I'm just being hyper-sensitive after the fiasco with Gwen.

I think the problem is that I know she's the closest I've come to what I want in a long time. So on one hand I *should* be pursuing this - it is very promising - , but on the other I should be very very careful not to get too involved before I'm sure.

It's so hard to balance the merits of physical attraction vs. emotional attraction. At what point of emotional attraction does physical attraction begin? I have to argue that one doesn't ever necessarily beget the other. They may, but they may not.

<sigh>. It's so much easier when you just know. It's been pretty rare - as it should be - for me to have both intense mental and physical attraction to someone. In almost every case, something has happened over time to cause the feelings to change for the relationship-worse (although usually to the betterment of my life and friendships).

What I'm looking for is someone I always feel close to - proven over time - and someone I'm always very attracted to - proven over time. I don't think I really know whether someone qualifies until about the year mark of friendship. That's about the time at which I find what kind of long-term role someone could have in my life, when I know about the closeness and respect and attraction with them after the initial ... burst? .... is gone.

And so you kissed me
But it didn't mean a thing
Never was a sigh so tender
But it didn't mean a thing.

When you caressed me
How I wanted you to fling
You pretended to surrender
But it didn't mean a thing.

I gave you my heart
And you thrilled me with delight
But you never gave me your heart
You just loaned it for the night.

If vows were made of gold
I'd now wear a wedding ring
You swore that you loved me
But it didn't mean a thing.

-Glenn Miller, But It Didn't Mean a Thing

Life is at many times a search for meaning. A search for self-respect: because without a definition of what 'value' or 'quality' is you have no basis for self-worth, let alone self-assessment.

Four years ago, I went through one of the hardest times in my life. I doubt that I'll ever be so deeply affected again. Not because life can't threaten or affect me with worse, but because at a certain point of pain, of the depths of the destruction of one's personal moral code and standard for living, you become almost permanently desensitivized to the full pain of future predicaments.

So at age 21, I swore off politics forever.

It wasn't just that it was hard to get things done - special interest groups will now and always hold more power than they have any natural right to. It was that the people you work for and with are often willing to sacrifice everything you stand for - *if not you yourself* - if they feel they can further themselves by it.

That's why my goal in life was to become a political *advocate* - *not* a politician. I knew then and now that I could never be a politician. I don't have the stomach for it. I can't sell out what I believe in. Maybe I'm being naive, but that's what I feel. So I wanted to pursue the goals I believed in, things I thought would improve people's lives if we could make them happen.

Maybe I was a poor political advocate. I certainly didn't accomplish much. The only thing of any really lasting importance was working with WWU President Morse to establish the Student Technology Fee, which then became adopted across the other regional public colleges. If I'd had the time to truly pursue what I believed in, what could I have accomplished?

Dr. Ziegler, one of my professors at Western, used to comment to me that college politics - youth politics in general - was sandbox politics. You can try to build the biggest and strongest castle possible, but in far too short a period of time - especially when you're distracted by the other demands of life - some new firebrand is going to come along and destroy your masterwork to make way for their own creation.

This is especially sad within the domain of Washington State college politics. One of the many things I found out during my tenure was that the students of the college have full self-governance. What this means is that the student body - within certain specific legal framwworks - can do damn well what it wants, be it establishing a student body tax to pay for better child care at college or forums on safety or whatever else matters personally to college students. There are strong positives and negatives associated with the establishment of such a fee, but the point I'm alluding to here is that the youth of America - the ones who are often most penalized by political action - have sources of power that they could - but choose not to - utilize.

I sensed some of this at the Lead or Leave conference in Washington, DC in '95. I think it was called "Youth Leadership Summit" or somesuch - the point was to gather the top politicos from colleges around the country, get them talking, and maybe begin to try to establish some credibility for the political agenda of the young. The AARP controls far too much of the political process. It may never be possible to even come close to their influence, but to be able to start an ongoing dialogue over how incredibly critical infrastructural investment - education, health care, safety - is to the future of society may at least enable the political debate to be framed in slightly different terms. So long as the average political student is viewed to either be apolitical or march in line with their relevant parties' agenda (limited of course to Democratic or Republican agendas - anything else being irrelevant), it is easy to disregard the issues unique to youth. They may get attention from the perspective of parents concerned about their children, but as of age 18 we have the ability to fight for our rights - and too few of us have choosen to seize that right.

I started trying to fight the fight, but I gave up.

I still think I gave up for good reasons - politics can get brutally ugly at times as I find out to my chagrin - but I'm reminded of my friends Tres' ( then student body President) favorite quote:

"I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains."

-Paul Simon, The Boxer

So what happened to my fight? Where has it gone? Has my desire to improve the welfare of others simply disappeared?

I don't think that's the case. But I do feel that I have sold out on many levels, and I continue my small sell-outs too often these days.

It's probably been easiest with my career. Faced with the possibility of making what seemed then and still today seemed like an ungodly amount of money - bear in mind I was planning on being a low-paid political aide or such - or reentering the political sphere to be snubbed and spat at for more years, I choose the easier path. And even now, as I sit here thinking about my plans, I can feel the indeed golden handcuffs of a high salary and nice stock options whispering to me: 'another month, another six months, another year... in time you'll never have to work again, and then you can do whatever you want within the political arena.'

I don't know. I don't think my actions are those of someone afraid to confront life, but they could well be, and that frightens me.

New Haven, CT

It's good you tell me that. Because fore-warned is fore-armed. And I prefer to be fore-armed, even though it makes it harder to buy suits.

My thoughts on life and politics in my last entry were largely spawned by reading Locked in the Cabinet, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's memoirs. It was extremely enlightening reading of the dedication, successes, and failures of a real life policy wizard. There are some very valid criticisms of Reich's philosophies, but he has presented the most cogent solution - or at least vision for the future - of any contemporary political scientist I have had the opportunity to read. I'm certainly open to suggestions. Regardless, his experiences made me reflect for a long time on what I'm doing currently, and where I want to be going.

I thought about this for the the greater portion of the last two days I spent on the East Coast. There's really no way way I would jump ship from Microsoft immediately (next vesting is next month), but still... I wanted to assess my options.

I ended up having a conversation on the shuttle ride back to the airport that pretty much confirmed that I'm going to stick at MS at least through this release. This came about oddly. I struck up a conversation with another passenger in the van who looked about my age. He turned out to be applying to Yale Med School, and since I have a couple friends in medical school, we started talking about medical school, med school politics (the unionization of med school interns will be an interesting phenomenon), and then from there to social politics, and from there to darn near everywhere: from the usage of computers and the Internet in k-12 education (I'm opposed as a neo-Luddite, he was opposed from a prudish anti-porn angle) to anti-trust politics to constrained capitalism. It was quite odd: both of us were surprised to see each other studying non-political fields (he's finishing a BS in Chemical Engineering) but yet with good knowledge of the current political spectrum. I so rarely get a chance to sit down and talk politics: it was great. He mentioned an article in Time at the beginning of February about the hideous influence of corporate special interest lobbyists in the political process that I'm going to have to check out.

Anyways, what really cemented my desire to stay at Microsoft through at least this next release was our discussion of Internet multimedia. This ties nicely in with contemporary politics because a lot of the issues facing corporate society (and thus the political mainstream) in the future are the coming obsolence of many non-value added positions such as, potentially, record producers. Electronic distribution of multimedia eliminates a significant chunk of the financial overhead of music production - at least the costs of physical production, if not the possibly overinflated costs of your music distribution 'agent'. Thus the work Microsoft, AOL (through WinAMP), and RealNetworks are doing may in the end eliminate a large section of the non-essential business aspects of the record companies. So while my pet theories on constrained capitalism - an enforced lean capitalism wherein profits and pay are capped to ensure money stays within the system and particularly to the locale - may never come close to infringing on reality, the stuff I'm working on today may bring leanness to a fairly monolothic section of business, and that - beyond the technical revolution at place - should sate my social/political desires for the next several months. It may be years before any of the seeds being planted bear enough fruit to seriously endanger the current marketplace, but the ripple effects should be very interesting.

I think this generally answers most of the questions I've been asking myself about my job.

And as for the rest of them.... I was working on a friend's computer and started using some of the functionality I put in without thinking about it. Only after it was done running did I think to myself: hey- that just works. That is cool. I've still got miles to go before it becomes what it needs to be, but I'm working on some really cool functionality, and that excites me. It'd be a shame to leave before things fully played themselves out.

From mail:

Now that all of the dust has settled, I wanted to let you know that I truly appreciate your participation in the Inside Windows Media project. Your contributions helped make this book a success.

We would like to show our appreciation for your contribution by offering you an Inside Windows Media golf/polo shirt. The shirts are 100% cotton pique knit. The shirts will be embroidered and they will have “I wrote Inside Windows Media and all I got was this shirt” along with a picture of the book cover on the front of the shirt, and the Windows Media logo on the sleeve.

I feel really affirmed right now. I think I've been doing the right thing with my self. The people I've been dealing with and being around have generally been especially positive recently about how they feel about who I am / what I'm doing. It's weird in that to me it's business as usual. If anything, there's been a downtick in how I've been treating others, as I've stepped back to reassess what I truly want and need. Oh well. It's certainly nice to be appreciated. Beyond getting nice compliments, I found a great hand-crafted Valentine's Day cards from Cynthia and Kate waiting at my door Monday when I returned from my trip, along with a nice bag from my parents. I felt really touched and surprised: I have very cool friends.

Harumph. I'm sick. I get sick about once a year, I think. My family is generally very healthy, although my dad has hay fever. I was lucky enough not to get any allergies. I have had a propensity for dating people with allergies, though. They've done various studies recently wherein it was determined that the scent of someone transmits basic information about their physiology. The question is, am I looking for people with allergies to even out my good health, or are they looking for me?

I get sick so rarely that I almost know when I get sick. As long as I don't cry (big boys don't cry?), I don't get sick. That's been a truism to date. I was watching the Cupid episode "Heart of the Matter" with Cynthia last week. I always cry at the ending. Sure enough, I cry, now I got me the sore throat that's been going about. Ah well. As Ben Edlund (creator of The Tick) would say, nigh-invulnerability is much more interesting than invulnerability.

So I've been remiss on updating my journal, let alone keeping up with work. I think I'm starting to get healthy again - it can't get much worse now since it hurts bitterly each time I sneeze right now - so hopefully I can get back up to speed soon. I still want to write about the last couple days of the trip to LegoLand, my trip to NY/CT, and my trip to Portland. It's been a busy month so far. Since Portland is the freshest on my mind...

Julie and I went down to Portland for a double-bill of Pagliacci and Carmina Burana. I had been really hesitant to ask anyone because I'm trying to stay as romantically unentwined as possible right now. I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea, and an overnight trip to the opera... well, I'd say that that would heartily engender the wrong idea.

Julie and her boyfriend broke up on Valentine's Day. She'd been having a pretty hard week, so I asked her Wednesday if she wanted to go the opera. I figured a good road-trip could get her mind off of her troubles. She was pretty unhappy most of this week. They'd been dating almost three years. He gave her the standard "Our relationship has a case of the blahs" speech, phrased as usual as "I think I need some time by myself". I felt really bad for her. She's a good friend, and she deserved better than him. She'd noticed the same thin a while ago and had been making an effort, whereas he was resisting... and then just decided to walk away. Oh well. Once the love is gone in the relationship - and it sounds like it had been gone on both sides for a while - it's time to move on.

So I went to the Dress To Get Laid party at Shannon's on Friday night (more on this later), popped into work after that until about 5am, and then got some shut-eye. Julie and I had planned to leave for Portland at about noon (for the 7:30pm concert), but *she* was running late so we decided to leave at one. I happily took the extra for sleep, woke up about noon, and got ready. About fifteen minutes before one she came. I'm so used to people running late I hadn't even brushed my teeth or shaved yet. She sat on my bed and waited patiently while I got ready. I finished up, and we headed off down to Portland.

I was a little apprehensive about driving to Portland with her: that's a long way to go with someone you don't know really well. As it turned out, it was great. We talked really easily about a lot of things - I didn't even put any music on because there was never really any break in the conversation for the music to need to fill. I hadn't had breakfast, so I stopped at a gas station to get some orange juice in muffins. I always feel a little weird about that: I don't know what the people I'm with think of it. Convenience stores just aren't something the people I hang out with go to. But she didn't have a problem with it, and got a couple things for herself too.

We got to Portland in good time (~3 hours or so) and found the opera house easily enough. Our luck continued as we found a Marriott hotel within two blocks overlooking the waterfront. I have to say I'm always impressed with how nice the Portland waterfront is. We were staying at the southern tip of the waterfront jogging path, so we could look from our window and watch people jogging by. I've always enjoyed people watching, so that was a pleasant distraction while Julie got ready for the opera.

Probably my favorite restaurant in Portland is the Brasserie Montmartre, so I got us reservations there as soon as we checked in. We tried catching a taxi to the restaurant, but ended up just walking there, as there were no taxis in sight. It was a really pleasant walk for me. Portland's a very pretty city. It's all relatively new buildings, and everything is nice and clean. The wind was nicely blowing. It was weird to see Julie in a dress, though. She usually wears the usual amorphous jeans and sweatshirt common to Microsofties, so I've never had much reason to really think of her as a woman (as opposed to just another person I like). I felt almost a little voyeuristic just watching her legs as we ran to beat a crosswalk light. Perhaps it's the Victorian era principle: when you hide so much of the body, the viewing of those forbidden parts - even the *gasp* ankle - becomes all the more enjoyable. It made me think about my long-standing contention about men: there's very little of the male body that is actually *sexy* or gets sensually accentuated by clothing. But that's a story for a different time.

We got to the Montmartre. I was so excited to be there. Julie normally has an upset stomach, and was feeling especially uninterested in food because of the turmoil of the break-up. That was a shame because the food was great, just like last time. I had the French Onion soup (my usual soup) and the pan-seared Ahi (my usual order when a place doesn't much vegetarian fare). She had the soup too, and I managed to convince her to share a "Menage a Trois" with me. I'm not kidding: the Montmartre's appetizer menu is on-line if you doubt. I was highly amused. I don't like pate (the "Menage a Trois" was three types of pate), so I had an olive from the plate and convinced Julie to eat a bit of the lettuce. I like the idea that any time I anybody ever asks me if I've ever had a "Menage a Trois" I can now respond yes innocently. <grin>.

The real joy of the Montmartre isn't the food, though: it's the environment. They have a magician there nightly (to my understanding) working the tables. They play live jazz nightly. The tableclothes are paper meant to be crayoned upon (and of course they give you crayons). They hold a Crayon Art Contest yearly, and the top three pieces from each year are on display on the walls around the restaurant. There are some *amazing* pieces there, especially considering they were done in crayon.

We finished dinner and walked back to the opera house. There was a huge line for people who were picking up their tickets at will call. That was weird: I just don't see that in Seattle. Our tickets were for some reason in the Hurt section, I think: there was someone with a wheelchair, someone missing a leg, someone on crutches. I don't care, but it was an unusual enough confluence it caught my mind.

The first opera was Pagliacci. This is an opera with clowns. This is a scary opera with clowns. It's a tale of tragic jealousy and rage, ending with dead clowns. I liked it for its philosophical shock value - the only evil clown opera I know of - but it was fairly light-weight (although leaving you heavy-hearted) for an opera.

I bought some "Gourmet Jelly Beans" at intermission because I was excited by the dinosaurs on the packaging. This was a big mistake. Don't buy jellybeans with dinosaurs on the packaging: these are terrible terrible jellybeans. I ended up smooshing them together to try to make myself a jelly bean magic wand, but that didn't work at all. I just got weird rainbowy hands.

Carmina Burana was the second opera. Although it too was terribly bleak, at least it didn't confuse you by using clowns to portray the matter. I'd heard the music of Carmina before, but never had known what the lyrics meant. This is great music to listen to, but the meaning is dark and depressing. My favorite song was the Vegetarian Song, or "The Roast Swan". It's the tale of a swan being cooked and eaten from the viewpoint of the song. The Portland Opera made it ludicrous by using shadowplay to show the various stages of the song. People were loudly laughing during the song as the overhead projector (?) showed the death and consumption of the poor swan. That was weird to be part of.

After the opera, Julie and I walked by to our hotel room. Neither of us was quite tired yet, so we ordered room service (their Key Lime pie is very good) and watched the Story of Us. The movie had been in theaters for maybe a week and we hadn't heard good things about it, but the previews had seemed so good we decided to try it. I ended up thinking it was great. Julie thought it didn't make the characters sympathetic enough. I agree, but it seemed *real* to me and that's what I want out of my dramas. I can watch Totoro and similar when I want to love the characters. Heck, this is one of the reasons I went gaga for The Last Seduction: I like *realism* in movies, even if (very) bad things happen. There's nothing I dislike more than forced ending like that of City of Angels or Dead Poet's Society - I want the flow of the movie to continue all the way through, even if it means that the ending isn't cut and dried. Going biking with your eyes closed on a curvy road? We're supposed to think that Robin leaves with a smile after being sold out by the people he's helped mold? Yeech.

We got up about 10am Sunday and left for the Church of Elvis to get married ("Cheap not legal"). I like showing people the CoE for the first time. Unfortunately, Stephanie (the woman who runs the CoE) was in a cranky mood as the six frat boys who arrived at the same time as we did wanted the Cheapskate Free Tour. This is the *wrong* way to go to the CoE. Buy something first, *then* go on the tour. This is Stephanie's lifework, and she doesn't like people who don't help support the CoE. Julie and I got married, got our pictures taken (I put my copy up at work), and headed back up to Seattle.

After we got back I took a brief nap before crayoning. It was good to see Ken and Kate at crayoning. So much has been going on, I've been doing so much talking/self-discovery, it's almost too late to try to catch up with other people by the time we finally talk. I wanted to get Ken and Kate's opinions on some romantic matters before Cynthia showed up at crayoning. Unfortunately we took so long to get settled down I never had a change to receive their words of divine advice. Ah well. Sometimes you just have to sort things out for yourself. Hopefully I won't screw up too badly.

Mary and Val joined us for crayoning: it was good to see them. Val works at Microsoft too, so we talked about MS for a little bit. Nobody had any real inspirations for crayoning, though, so we largely just talked and ate some truffles I had brought. It turns out that truffle scrapings make excellent whipped cream topping.

Cynthia showed up just after Kate left, and about five minutes before Ken, Mary, and Val were heading off to a bingo documentary at the Little Theater. She didn't have any chance to color, but was game enough to come along to the documentary with us. It was a weird film: the documentary makers seemed intent on showing what a waste of time and money bingo was. They were fairly subtle about it, but you got a lot of comments on how poor the average bingo player was and how they didn't have anything else to do. There was some coverage of bingo as a fun social activity (and some shots of Chicken Soup Brigade's delightful Gay Bingo), but that was very sparse and poorly covered, comparatively. Oh well. It was semi-educational.

I was out searching for a Nightmare Before Christmas Sally to go with my Skellington Jack doll tonight. Jack looks lovely in his chair, but I want a Sally to go with him. I ran across couple pictures of people dressing up as Sally for Halloween: way down here and here. It made me think of when Kate dressed up as Sally at Halloween: that was really neat and cool. Anyways, I also found a write-up on why Nightmare Before Christmas toys are so sought after. Thankfully, Jun Planning Company (a Japanese company) still has license rights on toy production, and has promised to make a new 16" Jack toy each month of this year. Hopefully I'll get a Sally to join my Jack. Or maybe Jack and I will just be single in solidarity together. <grin>.

Where to start?

Physically, it's been a bad week. I couldn't breathe well through my nose for a couple days, so drooled in my sleep for the first time I can remember. My body's been fighting off the fever, so I wake up in sweaty bedsheets. I'm glad I'm single so no one else gets to care. <grin>.

I saw Cynthia today. It's always very good to see her and we talk very easily together. It's nice being such easy friends with somebody. I've had a particularly stressful week and so I just wanted someone to calm me down a little.

I got really frustrated this morning at how poor of a job I thought test was doing on a particular piece of my program. I'm more interested in the job than the paycheck, and oftentimes it feels that the testers I work with are more interested in the paycheck. I just don't see the interest in our overall success in these guys as I do with the testers I like. So I've been slogging through IE code trying to get things to work and finally just gave up and thought I'd go get a Phillie cheesesteak at Dan's Philly Cheesesteaks on University Avenue (the only place in Seattle to get a good cheesesteak that I know of). While I'm not a diet, I usually try to eat food that's relatively good for me (unless it's sugary: I do like to indulge in chocolates at times). But a good cheesesteak is in a class by itself: it's probably one of my favorite foods and it's the only real beef I eat. I don't like eating food that's bad for me, and I put beef in that category (see here for a good collection of why beef is getting scarier over time, beyond the normal issues surrounding eating meat: although I really don't eat it because I generally don't like the taste of meat). So cheesesteak is a guilty (and messy) pleasure to me, but I figured I'd treat myself. I stopped by Pike Place Market to pick up a few things, go to Dan's... and they were closed. Figures.

I then picked up Anne's housekeys since her mom is going to be out of town when she returns. Her mom and I talked about Anne for a while. It's always nice to hear someone talk about someone they really care about. I picked up Anne's stuffed iguana to greet her at the airport with, too - and then found out later on that day that the stuffed iguana is pretty low on the list of her favorite things. Ah well.

I was talking to Cynthia on my cell phone and decided to drop by. We kept talking as she opened the door. Both of us were feeling pretty nasty and worn-out - she'd only gotten eight hours of sleep for the weekend - so we both didn't really want the other to look at us. We just kept talking on the phone as if we didn't see each other. I came inside, walked upstairs with her, poked around the kitchen, stood hugging her as she worked on the dishes - but we never acknowledged that I was actually there with her. It was oddly fun. I should have asked her what she was wearing. <grin>. So we finally got off the phone and said hi. We sat on her new bed and talked for a while. I was starving and she offered to take to or make me dinner, but I was feeling too stressed out by work so I said no. I just wanted to be around a warm positive presence for a while.

She'd felt the same way Saturday: her grandmother died Friday, and one of the kids she was babysitting for got really sick. Not a good weekend. So we talked on the phone for a long time Saturday night before she took her bath. She asked me to tell her a story. That was weird. I've had various women ask me to tell them a story, and I didn't really understand why, so I asked her. She explained that she liked to hear my voice. I think I understand that: hearing the voice and life of someone you care about when you're feeling blue can be very reassuring. I tried calling Anne tonight to chat a little with her about her upcoming return (for an interview with Microsoft), but I had the feeling there that I did more harm than good as she was way too stressed to talk much. Oh well.

So Cynthia and I just sat there talking. I felt so comfy and tired I just wanted to feel sleep right there. I had too much work to do, though. I thought about inviting her to read over at work with me but... well, it's 3a.m. and I haven't left yet so I'm not sure how much fun that would have been for her. Heck, she had to get up at ~5a.m. or so today anyways. It's weird to be so comfortable around her. I want to carry her around like a teddy bear.

In my opinion, one of the weirdest things I think I do is say "hi!" in between kisses when kissing someone I really want to be kissing. I never previously understood that very well. I was thinking about kissing Cynthia as compared to one of my ex's, and was internally struck by the contrast. When I say "hi!" to someone I'm kissing I'm enjoying it so much it's hard for me to believe being with them there and then is real. "Hi!" is my way of reminding both of us that this is indeed really happening. Maybe that's a juvenile approach to intimacy, but I'll take that in a heartbeat over cynicism.

It's weird. It's been a long time since I kissed someone and said "hi!" to them. I wouldn't even have thought much about it except things are Cynthia are so comfortable I'm wondering what's missing there, what's not lighting my fire, and realized that those ... butterflies, that fire in the belly - that's what I feel I'm missing right now.

I was talking with Marie today about the great great date she had on Friday - so good the next date was Saturday, and hey why not an encore on Sunday? - and realized I hadn't felt that strongly about anyone for a long time. I've been so busy trying to convince myself to be single, I've held back on falling in love.

I should have thought about this when I saw Lisa at the Dress to Get Laid Party last Friday night. Lisa and Rebecca rushed in in a haze of "alternative herbal therapy" and surrounded me - double-teaming me to see how I was doing in the short time they could stay at the party. I felt really ... drawn to Lisa as a person - as I think everyone always does - and didn't understand it then. Now that I've had a chance to think about it, I think the draw of Lisa is that she seems to be completely honest about who she is and what she wants. She wears her heart on her sleeve. So she rushes out saying that seeing me was like a dream, I love you, bye! and there was no way to doubt her. I miss her. I miss people being that unfettered with each other. She gave me her phone number as she swept out the door, but I left it in my pants when I did the wash. Oh well. I'll get it again from Rebecca.

The Dress to Get Laid Party was fun. I had lots of work to do that night, but I hadn't seen Jen or Rebecca in a couple weeks so I thought I'd stop by and say hi. It was nice: everyone came in at different times, so I got a chance to talk one on one with them - my favorite way of dealing with people - without feeling too selfish. I thanked Jen for taking me on the trip to New Mexico with her. That trip was a wonderful experience for me: I don't step away from it all nearly often enough. Patrick and I had a good talk about the industry and romance - I was in a quandry about how to handle Cynthia - and I convinced him he didn't look sexy enough for the party so I ended up getting him to swap pants with me. My dress attire was a swank black shirt, black pants, and my 'sexy' underwear - which is basically a sack attached to a rubberband. My favorite outfits were Katie in just a towel, a choir guy with a lei of condoms (cute wordplay), lots of very very short skirts - Patrick and I kept opening the doors to 'help' the wind - and a couple dressed as bricklayer and brick. That was pretty cute. Jessica showed up in just comfy jeans and sweatshirt, yet winded up taking the top door prize - a jar of liquid latex. The birthday celebraters - Kathy at 28, Jen at 10,000 days - got spanked by a woman who worked at Toys in Babeland. That was pretty educational. I don't often watch people who are really good at spanking: it was quite the presentation. Not my kink, but I could see how it could be fun to be on either end.

From the newswire at Daily Radar:

Taito Teases about PS2 2/25/00 04:08

Taito is working on a new PlayStation2 soccer game that features a speech recognition system. It's scheduled to release in Japan this summer and more info will be available at the TGS 2000.

The only real games I know from Taito are the Bubble Bobble series (most famous for Bust-A-Move, aka 'the bubble-popping game'), so I quite like the idea of a speech recognition system from these guys: it would only need to recognize "bgaw!". <grin>.

Julie and I both got rings when we got married at the Church of Elvis. I didn't really think much of it at the time. My ring was too small, so I haven't worn it. But happily enough, her ex came by unexpectedly to mess with her mind, err, talk with her. They talked. She wasn't thrilled. He's being weird about the break-up: not really making an effort to be a friend but keeping in contact regardless. The happy part is that he kept staring at her wedding ring. He never asked, but I'm glad he had his mind messed with a little in return. I hate it when people treat each other poorly. He's taking a month off from work so hopefully she won't run into him for a while. She's still feeling a little weird around him since he did the breaking-up. She would have... but was trapped by relational inertia, so now she gets to suffer for it.

I've been asked twice in the past month in various contexts (one serious, one probably not) as to whether or not I would sleep with someone. I'm really not comfortable being asked that if it's at all serious. I feel a little prudish. I don't think you even need to broach the question if you're not very serious about each other. Maybe we can indulge in other kinds of intimacy if the feelings are right but... what kind of guy do these girls think I am? It makes me uncomfortable. I don't go that far with someone I don't really care for. Back when I was dating Gwen, I spent the night with her - just sleeping after a very late night movie - and she tried throwing "I don't sleep with someone unless I really care for them" at me. That was funny to me since I think I was the one who kept things from going too far: you lose a lot of your credibility as the Virtuous Maiden when the Evil Guy was the one resisting your advances.

I have a fatalistically pragmatic optimist's view of the world. That is, I'm not sure how long to live and I think this is my only shot at the world, so I try to use the time I have wisely and with those that matter the most to me. I don't waste my time or energy having sex with someone I don't really know, someone where it's not the absolutely right thing. Only with someone who I keep saying "hi" to as we kiss because it's so wonderful to be with them, to be holding and touching them. Someone whom my whole body and soul wants to cling to, to join as fully as possible.

I think that's pretty straight-forward. I'm an open guy: you can tell how I feel about someone just by watching me around them. If there's any doubt in your mind as to how I feel about you then you *are* right: I'm not interested in getting intimate with you. Don't ask.

yuck. It still disturbs me. Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing.

A lot of is indeed situational. If I'm approaching thing from a level of romantic interest, I'm going to hold what we do in that much higher esteem, and not attempt to go too far for how I/we truly feel. To pursue things too quickly would devalue them, would make it too easy to focus on the physical parts of the relationship and not on the coolness of each other.

That's not to say I'm a vestal virgin. Even a couple dates can be enough if you *know* what you have is right. That hasn't been the case here, so I've felt a little put off. It gets back to how you value yourself: I think we both deserve better/more so let's at least wait until the time is more appropriate before even contemplating the issue, let alone asking it.

As part of cleaning up I organized my years of love letters I'd been dumping into a drawer: it was so... touching to see the affections I've shared with other over time. We change so much over time, it's so easy to forget how people have felt about you - and you about them. I've been very terrible about writing lately, and I feel bad about that. I will have to write you more. I feel like I've been ignoring people: I hadn't realized how importance correspondence had been to who I am until I saw the reams of it lying in piles on my floor.

I was so fed up as I talked to my manager yesterday I was almost in tears. The guy who works for me took off for a couple weeks vacation. That's not a real problem in that I used to handle everything by myself, so I know I can do it. What my employee failed to mention was that three different products were going to be shipping during this time period, and there were outstanding issues on all of them. Due to the typical lack of communication I've come to expect from program management, I found out about almost all of these problems at nigh the last minute. I handled everything like I always do, but other projects fell behind. A while ago, our former head honcho made a bad technology decision I told him I *strenously* objected to and that I refused to implement until my boss told me I had to. And of course after wasting about two weeks of development time already on this bad decision, we *again* run into problems with it during this time period - and now two different deliverables that have been on my plate are coming due at the same time this is happening. Localization is yammering at me to fix something for them, I respond back I need a machine to look at in order to debug it. So we've got way way too many critical balls in the air at this point. I wasn't fully aware of the schedule - I thought our code-complete date was four days later than it was - so I had to work extra extra hard to get that up to snuff. And test is going through a little more turn-over than usual, so I'm simply not getting good enough test coverage on some of my programs.

Net net, I get everything done. I'm just way way stressed. A couple bugs slip through the cracks, and finger pointing begins and it's another one of these damned junior high school incidents where the spineless jerks can't even come to talk to you directly, instead they have to go through their management to obscure who's pointing fingers, as if I wasn't aware of who I worked with.

So the coup de grace was the localization team. I'd been asking them for five days for a machine to look at so I could examine the problem, and on the fifth day they sent mail to me and my boss asking why I hadn't looked at the issue yet, after five days of knowing about it. I was incensed. I responded back to them that my clock started when I first had a machine to look at, and that had been about half an hour previous to when they sent the mail. It turned out to be a lame miscommunication problem - not my fault and really straightforward - but it had taken five "bonus" days because they couldn't be bothered to attend to my simple request for a repro case that they said they were running into every day.

And of course they too have to junior high school-ish about it, and Kirt has to come talk to me. He wants me to spend more time on bugs before I punt them off to other developers. I agree in principle - I can usually determine in minutes about where a problem might be coming from, and push it off my plate if it's not my issue, but this localization mess isn't even about me not spending on an issue, it's about them not responding to my attempts to spend time on an issue.

Kirt assured me he stood behind me 100%, that everyone knew I was busting my buttocks, etc. - but the point to me remains that I can not tolerate working with people who behave juvenilely. A bad apple spoils the bunch. This is the third different run-in where they've resorted to complaining to management (mine or theirs) rather than making any effort to deal with the issue with me. I'm going to be extremely diligent for the next month or so in ensuring I am being fair to others - maybe there's something I'm doing which engenders this - but if this happens again, we've *got* to have a sit-down talk with the people involved. This is one of the coolest projects I've seen, and I'm simply not willing to work with people who can't behave professionally.

Last night at soccer we played the #1 team in our division, who absolutely slaughtered us. They shouldn't be playing in our league, let alone division: it was like Ms. Tomicich's First Grade Basketball All-Stars vs. professional basketball's All-Stars. Anyways, I had volunteered to play goalie since everybody always whines about having to play goalie. I am now what we would call 'pain' and have managed to get turf burn across a good 1/8th of my lower body. I've got such a nice turf burn across my outside upper thigh from my slide that my shorts are sticking to me. Eww eww eww. I'm wearing non-sticky soccer shorts as boxers today to avoid too much stickiness, but it's still not the most pleasant. Oh well. I'm going out with Cynthia tonight, and she's promised me a massage if I beat her at Scrabble.

Cynthia beat me at Scrabble again. Nobody beats me at Scrabble regularly! <grin>. I love playing with someone who's very skilled too. It's always fun playing games, but there's very few people I feel are even partners at various games. Either I'm good or they're good - somebody's always got the advantage. Being evenly matched up against people - or more preferably having to work my tucchus off to be competitive with them - is something I really like. Julie says we might play Monopoly tonight. I haven't had a good Monopoly game in ages. And Janice is playing Battleship with me over the Internet (I sent her half of a set so we could play). Perhaps March is official Gaming Month? I like it so far.

My mom's first grade class saw last night's ZachCam picture of Cynthia sitting on my lap and now think she's my girlfriend. I love kids - they're so funny.

I got the massage anyways. I think she took pity on poor battered me.

I hung out with Julie last night. We had talked about going to the Asteroid Cafe and Cosmic Bowling (glow in the dark pins and etc.), but ended up staying in, having Chinese take-out, talking, and watching Condorman. I was amazed: Julie had actually seen Condorman before! That's an absolute first.

We talked about sneaking up to her ex-boyfriend's house and throwing white powdered donuts at it. But we decided against that. She did point out that the Hostess Powdered Donuts have raspberry fillings, making them all the more attractive as ex-boyfriend punishment devices.

It was really weird being with Julie. I often forget parts of myself around people. All of us have so many facets. I find that tend to take my glasses off when I'm out with someone I'm really enjoying and feel comfortable with. (I don't need my glasses any longer since I'm more than content to just see the little world around us.) I did that last night. I also got really sarcastic with Julie. She was a little taken aback: she's usually very sarcastic, but my sarcastic side doesn't come out very often. Anne had commented recently that she didn't think I was very sarcastic- it'll be interesting to see if my sarcastic side came out in response to feeling extra comfortable with Julie, or whether I'm just in a generally sarcastic mood.

It looks like Marie has finally met someone special. She's been delightfully giddy about him when I've talked with her. The best part is that it has been *impossible* to talk with her because the two of them have been on dates every night she's been back in town! (She's only back in town for a week before she heads out to China for a month.) I'm really excited for her. She is a such a sweet wonderful woman. I love talking with her - it's so easy and comfortable and funny and warm - and I want the best for her. She's got great judgement, so maybe this is the right guy for her. They're going to be going to Australia at the same time after she gets back from China, so we should know relatively soon: that's a lot of time to spend together. It's so delightful when people can't get enough of each other.

It's not going to be easy.
I'm not looking for easy.

-Steve Martin, L.A. Story screenplay

People will tell you all sorts of things, like "You're sinning because of this, you're sinning because of that," and I get it a lot. I get a lot of people going like "You're a Christian?" or more specifically, "You're a Catholic? I've seen your movies, they curse a lot." I'm like, "And?" I mean, I don't see anything in the Bible that about thou shalt not, you know, say "" an awful lot.

-Kevin Smith, Dennis Miller Live

send comments