Living 'softly.
a look into Zach Robinson
"I know exactly what a greased pig feels like because for my tenth birthday, my parents rented a piglet, covered it with Crisco, and let my friends and I chase it around the yard trying to catch it. Best birthday ever.", Christian

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Anne, or Love Song For My Dad

I want a new drug
One that won't hurt my head
One that won't make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red

One that won't make me nervous
Wondering what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I'm with you
When I'm alone with you

-Huey Lewis and the News, I Want a New Drug

It's not so much that you haven't been someone that's not interesting to date, it's that you haven't been someone that I'd want as a friend.

What do I credit this too? Is this who you really are? Why when my best friend moves away would you be just downright mean to me?

I've given a lot of credit to the you I know, to the you that I've believed in. You know that. So can't you just spend a little while being nice, focusing on being a friend, and then get off the phone when you're done? It's no great shame to need to get off the phone quickly. It's no shame to be busy to talk. Just say so. But be nice.

I feel like I need an apology from you. I don't really care about anything else between us, but you weren't a friend - in fact you were mean to me - when I needed you. If our friendship matters to you... let me know it.

Please. My name was Shek Chi-Wai. And there's someone I left behind. A woman. Siao Yim-Fong. Please tell her... make the most of these days. I've seen what happens when we die. Tell her it doesn't get any better than this. After this, there's nothing. Do you see? There's no sin, no Hell for our bastards to burn in. No great punishment in the next life... This time is all we have; we can't allow anyone to take it from us.

-Warren Ellis, Planetary

I burn through my negative feelings. It's both a strength and a weakness. I've been all over the map this past week because I've needed to expunge.

You're like a hairball in my heart.

The worst part is that I know, I feel, myself burning through the affection I've had for you, burning it out of my system like a homeowner smoking out bees. Where do I stop? We've been through this before, haven't we?

That's the worst part.

I don't know where to end the burn. Do you want space or do you want an end - to a possibility or to a friendship? I figure that's something you just can't answer right now. But if the door is open... it'd behoove you to reach out to me and just spend some time talking with me as a friend. Since Kate left, you've been the only friend who really hasn't taken the time to talk with me or to be nice to me. I've gotten cookies, massages, and kindness from everyone but you. This isn't about a relationship, this is about a friendship. And how things are going now worries me.

What a fool I was!
What a dominated fool!
To think you were the earth and sky.
What a fool I was! What an addle-pated fool!

-Eliza, My Fair Lady

Truly: what happened? I have these delightful handmade cards, many nice e-mails, et cetera from you - and then Kate moved away and... you moved away too? I don't get that. I feel jerked around.

I'm sorry. I guess I expected you to be there for me, and I don't think you have been.

I'm still rooting for you and pulling for you as a person.

The reason I want to talk to you so much is because I can't see why you've been acting the way you have towards me if there wasn't something else amiss. That's further upsetting. Here I find myself wanting to be a good friend to you... sigh. Oh well. I'm stupid. We both know that.

I want a new duck
A mallard, I think
One that won't make a mess of my house
Or build a nest in the bathroom sink

I want a new duck
One that won't steal my beer
One that won't stick his bill in my mail
One that knows "The duck stops here"

One that won't drive me crazy
Waddling all around
One who'll teach me how to swim
And help me not to drown

-"Weird Al" Yankovic, I Want a New Duck

That's out of my system now. Let's move on. Like I said, I burn through my negative feelings quickly... I just wish you had been able to take some time to be nice to me in the middle of this.

Sometimes it rains inside my head.
All the words run dry.
Walls are breathing, hands are reaching up,
To touch my thigh.

-Medicine, Time Baby III

Cool. I pointed out an error in Interactive Week a while back, and they actually published a retraction (at the bottom of the page). That was good of them. It's always weird seeing how much the world really *does* pivot along largely by glue and chance. I really felt this back when I was involved in politics, but it was... interesting to get a fresh reminder. Politics... society... they're basically a mass hallucination. It's important not to forget this.

In "Star Trek," when authorities are defied, it is in order to overcome their mistakes or expose particular villains, not to portray all institutions as inherently hopeless. Good cops sometimes come when you call for help. Ironically, this image fosters useful criticism of authority, because it suggests that any of us can gain access to our flawed institutions, if we are determined enough -- and perhaps even fix them with fierce tools of citizenship.

-David Brin, "Star Wars" despots vs. "Star Trek" populists

And I think the fragility of the whole system is well defined by the current national election fiasco. George Bush can not ask Gore to concede the election until the votes are counted, and until overseas votes are counted, it is sleazy to ask him to concede - regardless of whether legal avenues are to be pursued. I'm extremely unimpressed with the Bush campaign, and those involved, those who are knowingly putting forth the "It's over, move on" message are I think irredeemably tainted. No greater denial of the democracy that we live on can exist. It is not over, and it is not appropriate for Gore to concede until all the initial votes are counted. I'm absolutely repulsed. Facing (national) Republican leaders firsthand back when I was involved in college politics, I got a taste of the shallow intellectualism being offered, but this is a new historic low. Please. In any intellectual discussion, be able to see the other side of the argument, place yourself in the role of the Other. In this case if the roles were reversed, Bush would be livid if he was asked to concede until after the absentee ballots were counted.

I think Bush should concede.

It's "obvious" that he lost the popular vote, and that there were enough "irregularities" in Florida that it's fairly obvious in any revote he would have lost. Challenge someplace else, but give up Florida. It's unseemly for a President to stoop to this level. Which goes for both sides, but the Gore camp has right on their sides: we need to wait for the full returns before we crown our victor.

I voted for Nader. Jamie Love (his technology advisor last I checked) scares me in his ignorance, but Nader and the Green Party would be a split from the corporately addicted parties, and that's what I want more than anything else. (Again, the thought that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush is a fallacy.)

One of my close friends at work voted for Bush due to the anti-trust thing. That was a little disgusting to me.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.

-Alexander Tytler

I'd understand a vote on other grounds - even though I'd disagree - but not on *perceived* personal financial interest. It's critical to remember that corporations are not our friends, that they are our tools. They have no sense of loyalty, so any attempt to promote them at *any* other expense is at face value a poor proposition. Certainly I would like a fair reasoned trial, but that's all I'd ask for (and certainly not what's in the books to date*).

* One of the highlights of the trial to me (and where I was personally involved) was Dr. Tevanian of Apple being presented with the Netscape Plug-in Developer's Kit in order so that he might have reference to help him explain portions of his testimony. Despite the fact that his testimony keyed on these issues, he was able to plead ignorance. This page actually recounts the last document I know of on the subject. What an absolute crock. It's things like this that make me fear for Apple. Never let your personal hatred of anybody or anything (his hatred for Microsoft, here) get in the way of being a good citizen. Hate Microsoft if you'd like, but don't fudge the truth for your purposes. I met with their (Apple's) technical team in December of that year, I believe, and gave them a brain-dump on how file associations work. I don't work on the shell/OLE teams , I just pay frickin' attention to the deterministic results. I wish things Just Worked, but that's not the way things are, and we all have to account for that. How about working together, rather than fighting in court over what should be resolvable by a single *friendly* phone call? That damned IE plug-in support code isn't exactly the focal point here at Microsoft, of *course* it's quirky (sorry, Phil, it is) - but it's *deterministically* quirky, so once you spend ten minutes looking at the problem, it's easy to arrive at a workable solution. (I think my turn-around on the "Apple Accusations" was one dev day for full pin-down and verifications. I will give credence to the "$1 for one line of code, $40000 for knowing where to put it" line of thinking, but the expertise I have is from inductive logic rather than Secret Microsoft Sources(TM). Anybody seriously interested in problem-solving rather than fighting a legal battle could have spent a little more observational time and been able to quickly fixed the problem. Aigh.

So yeah, Mr. DOJ lawyer sir, I *did* change Windows Media Player so that it worked around the Apple player, but I'm just working around limitations/quirks of the Apple plug-in that they later fixed themselves. I frickin' love how each time I proffer solutions to the problems other companies are running into that it's perceived as Evil Microsoft. Explain this to me. I work well with others, diagnose their problems, offer them solutions, and we're evil? Right. Oh well. I at least half-respect Dr. Tevanian as being misguided. The (executive) jerks at RealNetworks - if I had known who Bruce Jacobsen (President of RealNetworks at last check) was when I personally called him after Glaser's Senate Judiciary Committee testimony to explain the situation and what they had changed that led to this behavior, I think I would have raised bloody hell. To continue to pretend ignorance in a stubborn attempt to save face after an accusation of "sabotage" - that disgusts me to this day. [For the technically minded of you, RealNetworks changed their player registration code in their G2 Beta 1 (released 7 days after our release, and ~8 days before the testimony) which exposed the fact that Netscape's helper app registration is poorly documented). They reverted to their old logic in G2 Beta 1.1, and we stopped Nav 3 helper app pre-registration for future releases basically because they were whiny about it. {With Nav 3 helper app pre-reg, you could install Nav 3 *after* you'd installed WMP, and things would Just Work. It was a really cool usability feature I added to help out Nav 3 users (I try to generally be browser-agnostic, even though I think IE kick's Netscape's butt). I'm not sure if I "pioneered" this, but you'll note that pretty much all apps do this pre-regging nowadays.}]

Anyways, </soapbox>, my point is that corporate loyalty should always take a seat to the good of the community. If corporates are to be afforded the legal status of a person under the eyes of the law, I would suggest that they should in turn be imbued with the moral obligations thereof as well.

A democratic nation of persons, of individuals, is an impossibility, and a fratricidal goal. Each American one of us must consciously choose to become a willing and outspoken part of the people who, together, will determine our individual chances for happiness, and justice.

-June Jordan, Waking Up In The Middle Of Some American Dream

And I don't think that Bush is good for the community. But if he does manage to win this election ... the phrase "four and out" comes to mind. Hopefully the tumult surrounding his narrow ascendancy will keep him from doing anything too evil.

Cantwell may lose the election. I don't know how I feel about that. The People I Know don't seem to love her, but I don't know if that is corporate politics coming into play or whether she is actually a bad person, beholden to her own corporation's interests at higher level than her moral/ethical duty. Hopefully she sold enough stock to squeak out this race and will no longer be financially involved in RealNetworks, and can govern in a responsible fashion. We'll see. She's in such a precarious ethical position that if I were her I would simply have chosen between the Senate candidacy and my position at RealNetworks. Given the current state of legal affairs, I think the conflict of interest is far too high for a joint position to be justifiable. If Chris Jones (IE guy) or Larry Ellison or whatnot bought a Senate seat, wouldn't you want them fully removed/shielded from the perilous influence of their alma mater? (Alma mater being used punningly in the original Latin meaning of "bounteous mother" as well as the contemporary meaning of place of education.) I still wish Ron Sims would have been the Democratic candidate. Oh well. It will be readily apparent if Cantwell is selling out her constituents in favor of one corporation or another... but then again senators do get six year terms...

I don't think anyone will understand this, but Natalia Kassle is evil. I didn't think about that until today, but it's funny.

I spent Friday doing a little clothes shopping. I've always wanted a classic French royalty shirt (I'll have to post a picture sometime soon), so got a wonderful retro gothic outfit. Velvet gloves, pants, jacket, satin shirt... I think it's quite becoming. It's nice to have found a sexy (I think) vein of clothing. I went out to dessert Friday night with Cynthia wearing the outfit, and she spent a good deal of the night fondling one of my gloves that I'd let her borrow. 'Twas most delightful. She's been a very good friend lately: it's been very nice to have someone to talk to, since that's what I need more than anything else right now as I work through my confusion about so much.

Megan had been feeling sick lately, so I dropped off a teddy bear and a card at her place. She'd given me a nice long massage last weekend, and I really appreciated it. I'd wanted to drop off some nice healthful food for her, but since I didn't know when she'd be getting in... I went with the teddy bear. Well, actually it was a stuffed squirrel because she's a nut, but hey, you get what you can take.

I get generous when I start questioning my reality. As I was puzzling through things last night, I gave out money to the homeless guys on Broadway. Again, it's always interesting seeing the response to money, given the disparity of wealth between well (sadly) them and me. I give money to charities and whatnot, but a charity doesn't necessarily take care of you Friday night when you'd sell yourself for a meal or a good shelter. I'm glad to be able to make a positive difference in at least this fashion. Helping people out with multimedia questions is nice, but it's nothing people are going to not eat over.

So Anne called last night and apologized in her way (she said what I needed) and I think we reestablished the rapport/friendship that had been missing these past couples weeks. Now if only she worshipped me everything would be perfect... heh heh.

Actually, shopping at the Metro for my outfit Friday night clearly showed me the need to date sexy attractive women. I was looking at all these wonderful beautiful fetish-ware outfits - leather, vinyl, rubber, etc - and thinking to myself how desperately much I needed a woman of my own to clothe and tailor her dress to my terrible awful needs.

My next girlfriend is going to love me. I've had time to think about dedication and friendship and both appreciating the sexiness of others and myself, about learning and growth... this past while has been a great experience for me, frustrating as it might be at times.

Plus I have velvet gloves now.

Speaking of dedication and friendship, I sneakily had breakfast food delivered to Anne. She's on a business trip and flying out at 6AM, so couldn't get room service (which starts at 8AM). Tracking food down actually turned out to be a major multi-hour production - my way of thanking her for taking the time to talk with me last night.

First of course I called the concierge and pleaded with him. No dice. The hotel staff? They're forbidden to leave the hotel, bribery won't sway them. No local restaurant opens until 9AM. The local Safeway won't deliver, bribery again has no hold. So I spend an hour trying to get the World's Oldest Profession to deliver for me (hey, they advertised as being 24 hour anywhere in the area) - you'd think full rates for a breakfast delivery would be easy money - but no, several of them feel insulted that I would try to use them for their bodies. I'm serious here. *YOU* try to get food delivered by 5AM Sunday morning on a Veteran's Day Holiday in a small town when you're in another state. I finally reach a Member of the Profession who's willing to undertake this silly pointless but fun task for me - only of course it won't work because she doesn't have a fax machine and they can't just take credit card numbers because they're a high fraud risk to the bank and therefore need a signature.


-Victoria Tennant, L.A. Story

I wasn't willing to wake Anne for this to have her sign for me, even if she could. Half the joy of this was the surprise... someone prepared to have a bad very hungry day waking up to a little basket of foodstuffs? - a thing of beauty!

I looped back around the list again, increasing my ante, but still they held their poker faces. B*stards.

In the end I was saved by the most beautiful of people in our society - the taxi-drivers. I managed to get dispatch to promise me to deliver some food items to Anne's hotel. They're supposed to be there any time now. I guess the taxi driver was more than a little taken aback and had to be convinced that I was legit. I was worried that as I started waving progressively more money about I might lose credibility - being thought of as a cruel practical joke rather than a real business deal - but I faxed them a confirmation, and it looks like they were happy.

I probably appreciate this several times more than Anne will because she won't understand what a production this has been. But I'm glad to even out the score a little. For as much as I feel I've railed against her recently, I'm happy to be able to do something to reestablish our rapport.

Good God, man! We can't stop here! This is BAT COUNTRY!

-Hunter S. Thompson (played by Johnny Depp), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

My brother (Derek, the middle brother) and I went to the Triple XXX on Saturday. It was really nice to see him. He does really funny impressions (including the above quote) that crack me up. I was really happy to hear that he and his girlfriend had gotten back together. All of us Robinson kids have bad luck in love these past several months, but ... it looks like they've been able to patch up their differences. That pleases me. I appreciate people who counterbalance each other well, and I've always thought they made good partners.

The Triple XXX is a classic. It's a 1950s-themed soda fountain and burger joint. They have a jukebox with all the old tunes, 50ish decorations, pictures of classic cars all over, a great selection of milk shakes... it's a fun place to take someone to.

We talked about Anne for a while, since she's been on my mind. He was curious to know why she remains on my mind despite the strife we've gone through. I explained that there's a certain mixture of aggressiveness/strength that I like and probably need to be mixed with a certain mixture of romanticism/idealism that's very hard to find.

"Today, Jesse, Gran'ma's going to tell you all about your special friend: God.
God's special because he's always with you, in your heart, and he sees everything you do, and he knows what you're thinking, always.
God loves you very much because he made you. And God wants you to love him, because if you love him and do good things all your life, he'll take you way to live with him when you die.
Now: isn't it nice to have a a friend like God?"
"No, Gran'ma. It's kind of scary."

-Garth Ennis, Preacher

I don't have anything particularly against religion, but the presentation is generally abominable.

We are the perfect and holy children of god, and I don't see, being the perfect and holy children of god, how any limits could possibly be put upon use ... not at all. That's the point of my act. I just want to be free of the fears and anxieties of death and the superstitions of religion. Being raised in a Baptist... with an avenging god, a god who created hell for his children. I'm sorry, but... no. Wrong. You're wrong. That's an insane god and therefore not mine. Because, see, god would be very sane, don't you get it? That's my act. Everything branches off from that.

-Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks had some amazing comedy routines, but it's the underlying philosophy that's truly appealing.

Okay, now it's Story Time!

> tell me a story

once upon a time there was a tiny bat named "lenny".

lenny lived in a tiny village of bats. it wasn't that eventful of a town, but they did have to have their furniture stapled to the ceiling, which is mostly unusual for the towns we big people are used to.

anyways, one day lenny heard that the circus was in town. being a big circus fan, lenny decided to go.

it was wonderful! they had tiny ballerinas and dancing bears (without muzzles because the bears cried when they had to wear the stupid muzzles) and seals juggling balls & small children and the Biggest Kiwi In The World and lots of other funness. including lots of midway games, such as the "test your strength" booth.

anyways, lenny was quite excited and went to his seat for the big show. he watched all the delightful amusements and was about to finish off his cotton candy when lo and behold the cannon shooting the Human Bullet into the net went awry!!!!!11! the Human Bullet went flying towards the cliffs, heading to Certain Peril And Doom!!!1! quick-thinking lenny flew to the rescue, grabbing the Human Bullet and landing him safely (lenny was an extra-strong bat from eating all his Flintstone vitamins).

the circus headmaster was in tears and very grateful for lenny being so magic and wonderful. he promised lenny untold riches and the hand of his daughter the princess in marriage! that was amazing because she was the funniest girl in the land, very intelligent and athletic and played a mean game of cribbage, no less! all of lenny's friends were astonished and pleased!

but lenny turned down the offers, finished his cotton candy and went home to go sleep from his exhausting day.

what do you expect? he *is* a little batty, after all.

Think about baseball.

I was sitting around taking off my pants preparing to eat dinner and wondered to myself: is this how the other half lives?

There's always been something about clothes that I've disliked. I can never wear tight clothes unless they are really stretchy - hence you'll never see me in tight jeans - because I feel almost claustrophobic in them. I like to look nice out in public... but when at home I really like slipping into either boxers or pajamas for doing household activities. Actually that's not true. If it's warm enough, I prefer to be naked. I called into the radio show Kate worked for a while back while I was doing naked house-cleaning and they thought it was a put-on. I don't understand. Clothes are so entangling and ... *goofy*: why would anyone want to wear them randomly?

That's I think why I appreciate women in skirts. People after my own heart. Like my religious/philosophical views: simplify, simplify, simplify. Skirts are simple and yet whimsical: a perfect combination.

I found two more WMP skins today floating around on the net (Escape From Monkey Island's contest winner and MP7 Shell). So far I've built up an archive of something over 230 skins, yet no single location has more than 70. Argh. It seems nothing ever gets done right. Aw well... hopefully will continue to mature over time, and maybe someday the WindowsMedia Skins page won't just Suck. Thought of the idea: if your archive or site isn't searchable, you're not using technology very well. At least I've got an excuse in that my ISP is run by maroons (no offense, but the shell MOTD about the Dec 16, 1999 half-hour downtime is just a *little* out-of-date...), but if you *own* the site... do a better job, y'all. I realize it's not a market MS wants to own or even intrude on - go, I guess - but of the Major Players I think only has a worse site. Not what I like to see. Oh well. They Meant Well. It just torques me off to see sites designed by people with T1s. You can just frickin' tell from five miles away that Somebody is Spoiled. Live like the other half lives, man: get rid of those stoooopid Flash animations and don't EVER play audio without exposing player controls so can I shut it off. Grrr.

My WinAMP Skin Importer was released earlier this morning, which was cool. Anne had done something along these lines last summer, and then the Pats both made their own versions, and finally as a side project I took Pat Winkler's version and completed the remaining work. There's a mini-discussion at the WinAMP discussion board about whether it (a tool to convert WinAMP skins to WMP skins) is a legit concept or not. I thought about that question originally, but I saw that there already were various WinAMP skin converters for other apps, so...? In the end, it was a pet project, and not anything official or sanctioned by Microsoft. I just thought this was a cool idea, and wanted to make it happen. Plus... I don't think there's enough good guidance on how to make skins. Even the very very cool new Snow Globe Holiday Skin forgets to implement preferences so that it starts back up in the last mode used. At the very least, I hope that the skin code I used is a good starting point for other skin developers.

I made dinner and dessert for Cynthia recently. It'd been a really long time since I'd cooked. It was just a spaghetti dinner and a pudding dessert, but... it felt nice to cook. I don't spend enough Slow Time: there is always much more to be doing. Heck, I read in the shower. <grin>. Anyways: she and I watched "An Affair To Remember" together last week. [Side note: Hey! The trailers for this on are in ASF! That's cool! (Don't get me wrong, I don't give a f*ck about company loyalty, I just think that RealPlayer and QuickTime Player are awful.)] I'd never seen this before, just heard of if it via "Sleepless in Seattle" and other movies. It was a sweet movie. An somewhat unbelievable one - communication is fairly central to relationships - but... a tearjerker nonetheless.

Chris 'Auzzie' and I went out to "Non-Stop" (Japan's "Dangan Ranna") last week. Probably one of the wickedly funny movies of the year: it's slow and a little muted but very enjoyable. It was nice to see Chris again: we haven't seen each other much lately. We chatted a little about Hong Kong movies and vowed to exchange tapes/discs soon. I'll have to challenge him to golf or something weird like that.

A close friend got rejected by the MS hiring process. That came as a shock. After thinking about it and hearing more about it, I can understand why it happened... but I wonder if she'd known the Expectations ahead of time if things would have been different. I think sometimes people take things for granted, fairly or not, and it alters their behavior. So: I won't be working with her, at least at MS. Weird. I had thought that perhaps she might turn down MS to work somewhere else, but not vice versa. She shares with me many of what I consider my most valuable qualities, so I was surprised by the rejection. I've come to understand it since then - many of the differences in our personalities are exactly what could lead to interview trouble - but... still, it was disappointing for me. I've yet to have a friend get accepted by MS... I've remet earlier friends who'd gotten onboard, but no one that was my friend as they joined MS. I was talking about this to Alex, and he suggested that I was bad luck. I pointed out that we had some really good women devs on our team right now, and I asked him to kick my ass if I dated any of them. Both of my ex's who have been rejected by MS were working at MS until we stopped dating, after which point they got turned down... perhaps there's validity to the notion that a truly intelligent woman would never want to break up with me? hee hee.

I saw Dad's brother (Uncle Dick, who is my dentist) and his family at my parent's place for Thanksgiving. My cousin Lynn was there with her husband and two tykes. Kids are really amusing. My brother Derek and I were sock-sliding around my mom's wood floors, and Lynn's son Steven wanted to do it too. So he popped off his shoes with mom's help (he is ~4 years old) and then... *pranced* across the floor. Derek and I cracked up, but Steven was really happy to even be able to try to do the New Trick he'd seen. Mom says that Steven hangs around with girls all the time, so he was very delighted to have some boys to pal around with. My mom gave me some pumpkin pie to take on the road with me: I've got a very nice sweet family.

I got to see Anne during the vacation. We got together to do some holiday related craft projects, which I found very enjoyable, and I made some chocolate-chip cookies to share with friends. I love doing craft projects. Craftiness is a huge bonus in a woman, as long as it's fun crafts. Stuff like knitting and sewing... that's not very much for a couple to do together, in my mind. I helped sew a dress once as part of a team - and both girls on the team were later lovers so I can't say that it doesn't work quite well - but in general, I'd prefer more involved coarser activities (since sewing is fine motor-control).

We watched Akira together. While she's an anime fan, she's generally watching the lighter stuff, vs. the heavy darkness that is Akira. She ended up really liking it, so hopefully someday I can steer her to other favorite movies of mine. I got her to watch Chow Yun Fat's "The Killer" and Jet Li's "Tai Chi Master" with me as well during the break, which is a definite start. Now she's really intrigued to see more. Good girl.

Our second night hanging out together she had an allergic reaction and so got completely exhausted. Being a gentleman, I offered her my brand new futon to sleep on, which she accepted, and I took the bedroom. We stayed in our seperate places until perhaps an hour until wake-up time. At about that time she started coughing some, so I went out and held her, then drifted back to sleep for a while just holding her. She contents me and makes me happy. The quirks in her that make her irritatingish and hard to bear at times - I like those. Because if you can ignore or enjoy those few rare quirks, she's a really wonderful woman. Sweet, smart, sassy, creative, driven, independent, playful... I'm sad she's gone again. I need more sassy creative women who force me to do craft projects with them. <smile>

Speaking of wimminz... Marie is getting married! Aigh! Marriage has never before struck someone I held dear. I will have to think about this. On the outside: I'm happy for her. I agree with her saying yes: she hasn't been that exuberantly happy around anyone since maybe when we dated (and weren't fighting). I think this would be harder on me if I thought that there was a possible future between the two of us, but that's not something I've thought for some time. I think we were both just too strong-willed, and met at the wrong time. She just got back from a week-long cruise with her beau (wherein he Popped The Question under moonlight on the ocean...), and I got to find out shortly after her parents did. Very cool.

Marie asked me how my dating life was going. Rachel asked nigh the same thing recently, but her question when I'd last kissed someone. The second question is the question I didn't really want to answer... I have smooched people recently... but .... that last question isn't Interesting. It doesn't say anything about who I care about or what I want or what my dreams might be. I'm Single. I've been Single. I'm looking for romance : I'm looking for the right woman, and I don't know if she's to be found. Perhaps not in Seattle?

My Pygmalion and Galatea statue may be casting a dark presence over my dating life. I may have to destroy the statue to help free the divine essence that's slowly become trapped inside. I think I learn a lot about myself being single, but being fatalistic I'd rather not waste a day by myself. By nature I want to share the joys/miracles of life with someone else. I'm a collaborator and while it's enriching to get to know myself better, to cook and decorate for myself: that's not what I want.

I wanted ice cream tonight and I thought of how nice it was to go to Ghiradelli's in San Diego tonight with Ken back in January. I settled on some Dreyer's Cool Mint ice cream (nummers, but truly boughten because of the lovely penguins on the side), but... there's no good ice cream places in Seattle that I can think of. Vivian's Pride closes early, Ben and Jerry's is a chain now... there's lots of *chocolate* places in town, but I think my favorite dessert place is the B&O - an indoors place. I want to be able to sit downtown in say Pioneer Square, reading, writing, thinking, and people-watching *outside*. I'll have to go on a gallery walk this Thursday so I can at least taste a *little* of Seattle's outdoors nocturnal life.

I left work after only eight hours today, and Kevin tried pushing me back inside to do more work. "Did you get in really early today?" he asks, tries to work around the pseudoreasons I give for going him. Thought: life outside of work important. I love Kevin, but the way he lives his life is really hurting his relationship, I think. I don't have a relationship so I don't worry about it, but if I did... I don't think I could be so cavalier about staying too late. Or perhaps not cavalier... but continually calling your loved one with Yet Another Update about how you are going to just Another Several Hours... that's immature. I'm trying to get over that ... procrastination myself, but I'd think that after working at MS ten years you'd be able to advance as a person and become a reliable person to those you love. I love the guy but... (sigh).

Hunter S. Thompson is now writing for ESPN's Page 2. It's a strange world.

I leave for New Zealand on Saturday to see Kate. I'm quite excited. I figure I will start The Postcards:Series Three and see if I can outdo my previous record of ~64 postcards on one trip.

It's my birthday tomorrow (Weds / 6th). I'm growing up: this is the first time I didn't ask for a damned thing from anyone. I told Dustin maybe we could do something together, maybe he could do something for Mom, but... that's it. The one thing I really want is something I'm going to have to find myself.

Life without love is a shadow of things that might be.

I'm off on my vacation now: spending Dec 11th to Dec 18th wandering about New Zealand with Kate.

My bag got sniffed for explosives at Sea-Tac. I wondered about that briefly, then realized I had put my Watchmen buttons on my backpack - a Two Minutes To Midnight design, the quote "Who Watches the Watchmen?" in Latin, and a *radioactive symbol*. Perhaps not the best way to skip quickly through security checkpoints.

The flight to Los Angeles was uneventful. The United plane was very empty. The stewardess jammed a food tray in my face, said "Chicken?" - to which I blanched and said "NO!" loudly. Hrm. So I went without dinner. Thankfully I'd brought a snack bar, but I was pretty peckish by the time I reached L.A. The in-flight movie system was down, so no movie. I mention that because this is getting to be the rule rather than the exception: all of my recent plane flights have involved bad IFE (in-flight entertainment) systems.

More later: I have to go run off and meet Kate now.

I got into LAX just fine, and had ~2 hours until the flight to Auckland left. I caught a taxi into town, did some holiday gift shopping, then popped back with a half hour left.

Waiting for the Auckland flight was quite fun: almost everyone was from some other country, allowing me to enjoy the range of accents. Boarding the plane was a surprise: it was the biggest place I have flown on, an A-310 I believe. I'd never actually seen a plane with stairs inside before.

The people in my aisle were a professional diving instructor and a military guy, both of whom were from New Zealand. I was a bit shy as always, but we fairly soon struck up a conversation about things to do in New Zealand. They both said the South Island was a much better place to visit. However, I only had a limited amount of time to spend with my friend Kate, and that didn't allow for visiting South Island. The diver had just gotten back from Egypt, so we spent a long time talking about that area (with me *desperately* trying to get the hang of his thick accent). He showed us the "sheesha" he had brought back with him, with looked much like a hookah. We'd been a bit concerned about the stewardesses getting cranky when he pulled out smoking gear, but they were absolutely fascinated. Once they'd seen the cool toys Jason (the diver) had brought, they seemed to be pretty friendly, which was a good thing for the loong loong flight (~15 hours).

We got blue socks. I didn't quite understand that, but I was told that it's Not Sanitary to walk around in bare feet: so you get socks to ensure you don't have to.

During the flight we got three meals, two of which were breakfast. It was disconcerting. My schmo travel agent hadn't bothered telling United that I was a vegetarian, so I was eating carefully the whole flight. Grumble. I got a relatively good price through the agent, but I shall have to be more forceful about having vegetarian options available.

We had four movies during the course of the flight. I slept and read through "Keeping the Faith", enjoyed "Frequency", tried puzzling through anybody would have wanted to watch "Jane Eyre", and was disappointed by "Toy Story 2". I hadn't seen "Toy Story 2" before, only read toy site based reviews of it, so ... I was expecting a little more. It was a very *pretty* film, but ... it was almost water-thin as far as plot and humor went.

More later: we're running off to the Skyline Gondola/Luge rides now.


The flight was very turbulent. The jet stream was evidently agitated, as we bounced around fairly violently at times. Several of the stewardesses stumbled to the ground at points due to unexpected bumps, and at other times they had to skip serving the passengers to bind themselves in. As much as I have a general dislike of heights, it was enjoyably exciting: a nice roller coaster ride in the sky.

A number of people had warned me about how awful the flight was going to be, but beyond wanting to take a long rest afterwards, I found it very easy. The friendly companionship very much helped, though: bad seat mates would probably render the flight woefully unpleasant.

We arrived at Auckland in what seemed (for 14 hours) a short time. I popped out of the plane hoping to see Kate... but she wasn't there. I figured she might have been held up in traffic, so I walked around the airport for a while. I got some piping hot hot chocolate from the snack bar, with which I quickly managed to burn both my fingers holding it and my tongue drinking it. However, the whipped cream dashed with cinnamon *was* delicious. The airport had a toy store, so I took a look-see, enjoying the 3 feet tall Lego gorilla and giraffe statues. I tried checking e-mail at the airport's Internet stand to see if Kate had left a message, but managed to crash the machine typing in my e-mail address. Hrm.

Eventually, I'd waited about an hour, so I figured I'd get through customs and then come back and wait some more. Customs was absurdly easy. I was expecting... I don't know. Strip searches, rubber clothes, teams of dogs ripping through my gear. But instead I gave them my little travel information card requesting an 8 day visa... and just breezed on through. Not what I expected.

So I gathered up my gear from customs, preparing to head back to the gate: and there was Kate. It turns out that she had to wait outside customs, and had been there since even before my plane got in. I felt pretty silly.

It was delightful to see her again. I don't think it struck me as much as it might have because I was surprised to see her outside customs. It's so nice seeing someone you value and respect so much.

We caught the tram to Auckland, and there we relayed our New Important Stories to each other, and she gave me a nice Happy Birthday balloon.

It was so good to see her. It was like a little sun just wafting my way, bringing me happiness and cheer. It's nice to have a best friend, but I did much more *like* it when she was living with me. I think I *appreciate* her more when she's away, though.

The staff working at this Internet cafe were very excited to find out that I worked at Microsoft, so we spent ~20 minutes discussing the trial, whether they'd catch the owner for his pirated copy of Adobe Premiere (pointing out diligently that all his copies of Windows were licensed), and discussing why I as a computer geek would want to work at "Windows" instead of working with Linux. I explained that I still don't see that a fully Free Open Source product is going to be near as interesting over time as a commercial product. I can't think of any good examples besides Apache of really good free open source software. I used the comparison of MP3 and WMA vs. Ogg Vorbis. When an open source project has a competitor, I think the team members are challenged to meet the bar, but after the bar is reached (if it ever is), I don't know that the Open Source project would continue to raise the standard as a commercial (financially driven) product might. I think that open sourcing still-commercial products is of valuable, but then we get into the viability of doing so given the lack of honor present in today's technical societies. B*stards.

The tram took us about twenty minutes north to the middle of Auckland. We were staying at the Auckland Central Backpacker's Hostel. I usually have stayed at at least motels when I'd been visiting a place, but I've been giving different things a go recently. So: hostel.

The Internet cafe we're at is shutting down, so: more later.

One of the many unusual-to-an-American-tourist things in Auckland was the yellow strip down the middle of the sidewalk. I found out later that this is supposed to provide some sort of mechanism for divvying up the sidewalk, but it didn't work very well. Perhaps if they put in road turtles?

New Zealand does tourism well. There's random "New Zealand Ambassadors" walking around the streets of Auckland to greet you and help you out. I like this approach. The world needs more people paying attention to each other. Single best part of New Zealand: I did not see a single person begging for money nor sleeping on the streets. I was surprised by this. Later I did some walking in Rotorua very late at night and ran into a mentally disturbed or at least very stoned guy, but it looked like everyone had a place to stay and was being taken care of.

You have to understand that the care system of the country cannot be taken for granted. It is not American to swaddle you in cotton wool from cradle to grave. It is the mark of a mature country that you, too, take responsibility for your life and the lives of those around you.

We are not big government. We do not own you. These streets are your streets. Therefore it is you, in your greatness as Americans, who must care for your streets.

And the people on them.

Care for your community. Because we can't do it for you.

-President Smiler in Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan

Auckland Central Backpackers Hostel is very nice. There's 24 hour reception, wakeup 'calls', safe storage facilities, e-mail access, a rooftap bar, a cafe, pool, an area for dancing/singing... it's a huge hostel and I think an ideal place for travelers to stay. Since the rooms do not have phones, the wakeup calls consist of someone walking to your room to wake you up. Bear in mind that this starts at US $6 per day - this is a great deal for a nice fun place to stay.

Kate and I visited the Auckland Museum. It's been mentioned in various travel guides that New Zealand does museums very well, and it was true in my experience. They had a stuffed moa - the 9 foot tall birds that used to roam over the island - that was quite breathtaking. They also had a couple WWII fighter planes - a Zero and an Allied plane (can't remember which right now) that I found very fascinating.

Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter was one of my favorite stops on the trip. They have a simulated arctic atmosphere in which they keep their colony of King penguins, and a snow-cat takes you on a track around their living space. It's really hard for me to get tired of penguins... their curiousity, friendliness, goofiness... if we get reincarnated - and I hope we don't because that would partially devalue this life - I hope I come back as a penguin.

They also have a wonderful underwater tour, in which you get to look up through the plexiglass and see the fish swimming overhead. We got to be there at shark feeding time. Divers swam into the pools and fed the sharks and manta rays fish. Andrew always liked sharks, but I think I'm most partial to the beauty of the ray.

On the way out, I bought a tiny stuffed shark at the gift shop. I've always wanted to be in bed with someone, quietly start humming the "Jaws" theme, and then pounce on them with a stuffed shark.

That night we had dinner at the Sky Tower, which is New Zealand's version of the Space Needle. While the Tower isn't nearly as impressive, the food is much better, I thought. I've never been particularly keen on heights, so the elevator up shooting out of darkness into a wide view of the city was unpleasantly breathtaking. Very pretty, but still a little scary. The restaurant did a slow rotation to show us the city in full, and Kate revealed that she liked the idea of being a window washer on buildings like this. Egads. Fear of heights may come from inexperience (an adventure company's quote), but so does fear of self-lobotomizing oneself... I'll have my healthy attachment to the ground, thank you very much.

After we left Auckland, we drove down to Waitomo. Here we saw the glow worm caves. The first part of the tour was of the scenic limestone caverns - reminding me much of Carlsbad Cavern's caves. The guide pointed out for us various 'named' structures. It did feel a little bit rushed. I rather liked the ability to wander freely in Carlsbad: but in Carlsbad there wasn't an Event (the glow warm boat ride) awaiting us at the end. We visited a supposedly 'acoustically perfect' portion of the caves and she gave us the quick opportunity to sing, but everyone declined. I would have liked very much to have been able to come back on my own and sing there. Maybe if I go back to New Zealand I'll sneak away from my tour group and wander the caves singing.

The highlight of the glow warm caves were of course the glow worms in the Glowworm Grotto. Everyone gets on a little boat in almost absolute darkness, and the tour guide pulls the boat along using guide lines mounted into the walls. As you descend into the cave, you start seeing the various luminescent glow worms dangling from the ceiling. Very spectacular. The idea behind the glow worm is that insects flying into the caves will believe that the glow worm's light is daylight, fly up into the light... and be forced to stay for lunch.

That probably doesn't sound very exciting, but the scene was akin to the boat ride in Phantom. Lush mysterious magical... I could have been happily lost in these caves for some time. I must do blackwater rafting next time I have the chance.

After the glow worm caves, we went to the Woodlyn Park jet boats. New Zealand is such a cool country: Woodlyn is a family operation the likes of which we need more of in the states. The owner's trailer was parked next to the big farm house they do the sheep shearing shows in. We had missed those, but the jet boats were still open. Our guide siphoned(!) gas into the boat, and then we were ready to go. I had thought that perhaps Kate and I might be going together, but we each got our own turn to drive which was really nice.

Jet boats are one of the greatest vehicles on earth. I can't think of anything cooler other than helicars. Kate's new dream job is to be a jet boat driver.

The whole concept is that they move by shooting out jets of water behind them: the only steering is by directing that jet of water. This results in an unforgettable wonderfully tight control: these things can't stop on a dime - no brakes - but they can do a *180* on a dime. Kate was harnessed into the jet boat (helmets required) and sped off. The track was a figure 8 plus another loop. It let you gun the boat up to full speed, experience the awesome turn radius, and navigate very tight channels. Parts of the track were only one and a half times as wide as the boat. I was a little concerned about this until I actually drove the boat through the passageway: the sucker jammed through there easy as you please. As our guide had said, 'the faster you go, the easier it is to steer'. Man. Very cool. These things are the dream child of someone who watched way too many James Bond movies. They danced on the water like a hummingbird in air. Frickin' incredible.

One sad point: Woodlyn in Waitomo is the only place in New Zealand where you're allowed to drive the jet boats yourself. Every other place that I'm aware of has a professional driver doing the job for you. It's still incredible to be a passenger... but if you want to live out your Sean Connery fantasies, by all means no trip to New Zealand would be complete without going to Woodlyn.

I really loved New Zealand - so much that it's now on my list of Places Where I'd Like To Live - but if they added some sort of laser tag system in a competitive jet boat circuit (all the jet boat tracks we went to were one jet boat at a time only)... ooooooooooo. Chills down my spine. I'd drawn to that country like a moth to a flame.

Woodlyn Park offers blind fold jet boating. I don't know how that works given that the boats we saw were one person, but this sounds like a *very* unique thrill. You can stay overnight at Woodlyn in a 1950's train car, which sounded good. The advertisements read "Come join Billy Black!" - which meant that our guide was wearing black on a *very* hot day. Poor guy. And the jet boat was low on gas initially, which meant he had to siphon gas into it. Yech. I liked him - he was a sweet well-intentioned person, like almost all of the Kiwis we ran into.

We spent the night in Waitomo at the Juno Hall hostel. The girl working at this place was a world class babe. Yumm. Excuse me for drooling, but funny good-natured athletic women with accents... can't have enough of them. Actually, to be fairer: you can't have enough of New Zealanders. Anybody looking for a life partner should start here. The people in this country are just ... lush. They're outdoorsy, really friendly, down to earth, athletic... just beautiful people.

We joined the gang at the hostel in watching Trainspotting. I'd actually been wanting to watch this again for a couple weeks, so when the lovely hostess said she wanted to see it... well, we were going to watch that movie. <grin>.

After the movie, Kate and I played Scrabble. Not too terribly unique, except for the fact that this version of Scrabble had no blank tiles (wild cards)! When you're stuck with the 'Q' late in the game and all the 'U's are on the board, you start kinda' needing those blank tiles.... I escaped by making "qat" on the triple-word score space, but I had to fight hard for it: Kate knew that there I was dying for an 'A' or 'T' at this point to work with, so was fiercely blocking me. Quite a delightfully evil game.

When we were leaving the Juno Hostel, the hostel's goat was blocking our path, so I got to shepherd it briefly. It's the first in my life I got to be a goat herder... I was happy.

The next day after Waitomo we went to Rotorua. This is affectionately known as "The Stinkiest Place On Earth". It's in a volcanic region, and so has many thermal parks, mineral spas, et cetera - and that strong always-pleasant ever-prevalent smell of sulphur. Mmmm. I never thought that my nose could get use to that smell, but ... you learn to tune it out and enjoy the area.

The first night there we spent the night at the Crash Palace. This is home to the worst bed in New Zealand. My bed sunk into the shape of a V as soon as I laid down on it, nicely crushing and compacting my spine. The people at this hostel must have a deal with a chiropracter.... I then moved to the floor, which was a huge relief to my body.

We went to the Waiotapu Thermal Park. This is a very beautiful park. All the mineral deposits produce wonderfully colored water, there are geysers, and the heat of the area makes all the liquids steam, if not boil. Kate took some good pictures of the area: I'll be adding them to my pictures section once I can get them from her. Of particular beauty were the emerald green and split pea soup green pools. There's different levels of walks you can talk based upon your physical ability and how much time you have (estimated at 30-60m depending upon which route was chosen). Kate and I did the entire walk, which I really recommend: Lake Ngakoro at the far end of the park was I think the most beautiful view. Small pools of mystifyingly colored water are neat, but a huge emerald lake is really breath-taking. Plus... if you have a good traveling companion, why not spend more time walking about with them? Supposedly there were red or purple waters to be found, but we didn't spy any.

After the Waiotapu visit, we stopped by an 'ink pot' area: bubbling mud pools. These were very interesting - sometimes spurting mud several feet in the area. It was a like a very beautiful very delayed fireworks show. Kate and I found this fascinating.

Coming back, we stopped at the Polynesian Springs spa, which is supposed to be the best mineral spa in New Zealand. I was a little surprised by the relatively large number of Japanese tourists - New Zealand has a better mix of tourists than the Washington does. Before I got into the spas I took a shower and felt all the sulphur of the thermal parks pour off of me. I hadn't quite realized how saturated I was.

The spas were very nice. The water was very .. thickly smooth. It's hard to explain. I don't know if they did anything for my body, but I did enjoy them. We stayed in the spas for about an hour, then headed outwards to our dinner.

Our dinner that night was a Maori tribal dinner. This is more a cultural experience than a simple meal. On the way to the dinner we were briefed by our driver on Maori protocol. We were greeted according to old Maori customs, our tribal representative accepted the Maori peace offering, and then we were let into the village, past the barricades and pallisades. I'd forgotten how wonderful fort-building can be. I want to build a huge impregnable snowfort outside my home. I'm not slighting the sacred Maori grounds: I just appreciate the skill it takes to make an effective barricade, and have always found the science fascinating.

We were allowed into a large hall, and there the Maoris performed for us a number of songs, showed us the traditional weapons, and in general gave us a quick overview of pieces of their culture. It was very interesting, but I thought the emphasis on the deadliness of their weapons was a bit odd. Part of their warrior's dance includes the sticking out of the tongue and bugging out of the eyes (explained as meaning 'your brains look to be a tasty meal')... perhaps the emphasis on their skill in fighting was part of helping us to reestablish respect?

The Hangi (Maori for feast) dinner was quite wonderful. The carrots were huge - the size of my wrist and very tasty. In general, all New Zealand produce was very tasty. In part this is probably because it's currently summer there, but ... there's something to be said for avoiding genetically engineering one's food. The foods were prepared on hot stones in earthen ovens and were very flavorful. They generally recommend that you do not eat lunch the day you go to the Hangi. I'd concur - I didn't have room for dessert, which Kate said was very tasty.

On the way back the Maori bus driver asked each country represented in the bus to sing a song. When it came time for the USA to sing for itself... a guy in the bus started singing the Oscar Meyer weiner song. It was a little funny but also pathetic... I wonder how many people know more jingles or ads than know actual songs? I hate television.

That night we stayed at the "Hot Rocks" hostel instead of the Crash Palace. Hot Rocks was a much better choice. Kate drifted off to bed early, so I put on my Santa hat and went out to do the laundry. While I was walking back with all the laundry, a woman at the bar that was part of the hostel ran up to me, smacked the laundry out of my hands, and ran off. I was highly amused. I grabbed the laundry, put it upstairs, and decided to go out dancing at the bar. I ran into her again at the bar and she said I was the coolest Santa ever. I was amused. I went off and danced. I didn't know anybody there (other than the mischievious girl, and I didn't want her to think I was hitting on her), so I danced by myself for a while. But my Santa hat was bobbing back and forth under the strobe lights, so soon enough other people were watching me. It was quite nice because various people seemed to like my dancing style, and a couple people asked to borrow my Santa hat, which I let them. One girl seemed to be encouraging me to dance/flirt with her, but... I'm in a strange town so still getting my bearings, and I didn't.

I went to the bar and there was a lady trying to buy 2 drinks for $5, so I offered to buy her a drink. She was most appreciative, but ... I was doing it out of general warmth for my fellow person, so went off and danced rather than striking up a conversation. I really like being able to just dance. Although the women were very attractive, sometimes I just like to be an anonymous member of the crowd.

After the bar shut down, I wasn't tired yet (3am), so I walked the streets.

The term Walkabout comes from the Australian Aboriginal. The idea is that a person can get so caught up in one's work, obligations and duties that the truly important parts of one's self become lost. From there it is a downward spiral as one gets farther and farther from the true self. A crisis situation usually develops that awakens the wayward to the absent true self. It is at this time that one must go on walkabout. All possessions are left behind (except for essential items) and one starts walking. Metaphorically speaking, the journey goes on until you meet yourself. Once you find yourself, you sit down and have a long talk about what one has learned, felt and done in each other's absence. One talks until there is nothing left to say -- the truly important things cannot be said. If one is lucky, after everything has been said and unsaid, one looks up and sees only one person instead of the previous two.

That's kind of what I was looking for. Walking was a great chance to think. I realized that I've been growing as a partner, but not doing a lot of self-development. Stupid things like learning to ride horses better, play guitar, play the piano... thing I'm interested in learning but haven't taken the time to do. I'm already improving it and taking ownership for my actions or lack thereof at times, but still I want to grow, and maybe that means being single for a while.

The next day we went to the AgroDome in Rotorua. They have bungy jumping, Zorbing, jetboating, and motorized skateboards (DirtThingz) there. Kate figured that Zorbing and the skateboards would be boring, so just wanted to do jetboating and the bungy jumping. I'm really not keen on heights, but I figured that perishing with my best friend would be a pretty ideal way to perish, so I surprised Kate by agreeing to do it. It was a tandem 'Swoop' bungy: you start off in free fall (~70mph straight down...) and then have your fall broken into a pendulum swing.

Jetboating was again very fun. The supplied driver took Kate and I at full bore - 60mph - through the course. Very exhilirating, and when the ride ends he first guns it to the max, only to pop into a 360 degree turn (thus stopping the boat) a couple of feet before you would have smashed into the wall. Again, Kate was in love with the jet boats, and I was able to dream my happy James Bond dreams. The AgroJet as it was called is "the fastest jet-boat in New Zleand", and can do 0 to 60mph in 4.5 seconds.

Next on the list was Zorbing. You get placed in a giant hamster ball that then rolls down the side of the hill. You can either do it dry - strapped into a chair - or wet - trying to walk within the ball as it heads downhill. Amusingly, the only four people that have successfully walked all the way down the hill either worked there or invented the Zorb, but I felt up to the challenge and so chose the wet version. You change into a supplied swimsuit, head up with the truck to the top of the hill, pop into the hamster ball, they throw in a bucket of water, and you take your first step down the side of the hill. After that, things are pretty much out of your control: you can just hope to keep up and not fall down. I made it a little ways, but soon lost my footing and bounced and flipped the rest of the way down the hill. When trying to stand up again, I realized why there was water in the Zorb with you: friction burn would remove your skin without the water to prevent it. I came out of the Zorb a wet happy mess: it was fun, and I'd love to be able to successfully walk down a hill in one at some point. The guy who Zorbed after me did it naked, which was impressive - that could really have hurt quite a lot.

I can't say I like bungy jumping. Ground has always had a very natural appeal to me. We got into the swoop harness, were sloooooowly dragged up into space, and then our guide yelled "pull the ripcord now!". If it had been me, I would have yelled "F*ck the h*ll out of you! Get me the f*ck down!". Kate however *likes* heights, so pulled away. WHOOSH! Freefalling toward the water beneath us thinking "Oh dear oh dear oh dear" hanging on most tightly to the safety gear... then breaking into the pendulum swing, still at a very high velocity thinking "oh cool, now we get to get launched into space and our broken bodies will land in Fiji to be a reminder for bungy jumpers everywhere..." and then swung back and forth, gradually coming to a stop.

It was fun. Not the free-falling part, mind you - I don't particularly like that - but other than that it was a hoot.

Finally, I rode a DirtThingZ - the skateboard with an engine. This was more fun almost as a concept than in execution... it took a long while to get used to how it worked, and the control was loose like a snowboard. They had removed the big wooden jump earlier as someone had cracked their head missing it, but I did manage to catch some good air (and immediately thereafter some ground...) off of the dirt jump they had.

Still to write up:

forest kayaking

Arrgh. I had the best dream last night. I woke up from it, instantly realized that I'd been dreaming, and so smacked my bed out of frustration. I'd been dreaming that I was at a baseball game with some friends, and we were catching balls hit to us during pre-game batting practice. But before the game had started, while we were filing in, I'd run into Sonja and one of her friends. We'd started things over, and really realized how much we had in common. So we took a walk around the park together, talked about the last couple years... it felt like I'd reconnected with a an important long-last friend. I felt ...more complete.

And then I woke up. Realized that she's off in Timbuktu married to some guy, and maybe will never forgive me for breaking up with her. *Ugh*.

I think the dream was precipitated by the concert I went to last night. Megan and I ushered at the Esoterics' final concert of the series, Fire. I'd gotten stacks of the program to start handing out, when who walks in but Emily Stone, an old friend from junior high band!

She hasn't changed much, if at all. She's still very funny and very fit (she was wearing a plaid skirt that I liked). I was thinking that she seemed very related to Julie: both are quirky and unpredictable in a very nice way. Even their amused knowing smiles seemed cast from the same mold. Her parents came to the concert and were very excited to see me. Unfortunately they spent the entire time we were conversing talking about me, so I had very little chance to hear what had been going on in Emily's and their lives. Hopefully I'll see them again at the next Esoteric's concert: Emily is one of those catish people who have an innate ability to amuse me.

Megan and I started out handing out programs together. I've been in a particularly lively/goofy mood since I got back from New Zealand. As such, I was being pretty silly handing out the programs, and Megan kept laughing. Eventually she wandered off to point people to where the bathrooms were. So I was standing there handing out programs by myself. That was probably not the best way to keep me in line. I handed people programs that were balanced on top of the Santa hat that I was wearing, "super secret" programs that I'd tucked up my sleeve, a full 'card' spread of the programs: "Pick a program, any program", and whatever else happened to amuse me at the time. After all, I was *volunteering*, not *behaving*. I did get a very nice compliment from a woman in the back rows (various people waiting for the concert to start were surreptitiously watching me) who remarked to her friend that "you can't hold down the spirits of creative people" or somesuch. I felt flattered.

The concert was very enjoyable. I was wearing my velvet gloves, so as Megan and I sat next to each other, I held and rubbed her hands a little. For some reason she was really warm: it was nice to be pressed up to her. The one problem I have with the Esoterics is that the beauty of the poetry of their songs often can outshine their very excellent singing. There's still no other group in Seattle I've seen that is their equal, but... I'd be a little releived to hear them singing doggerel in the future just so I could concentrate more fully on their voices. Because of that, I think my favorite piece of the night was the Chinese opera song "TZU LHO" which while touching and probably the most moving song that I've heard in the past several years - the finale was hands down the best finale in any production that I've seen, as the only sound became the crumpling pieces of paper in each member's hands creating the beautiful sound of rains falling. Very haunting and very beautiful.

At intermission of the concert, I was still feeling impish, so I wandered out to the flower shop across the street and looked at the flowers. I'd thought about getting some sun flowers, but they were all quite miserable looking. I ended up getting a single very beautiful red and white stained rose. Since I wasn't sure what to do with it, I pushed it up my sleeve. Mindful of course that this was a very thorny rose, which I was reminded a little painfully of on each step. I got back in to the church hosting the concert, and Emily's mother asked me what I'd been up to in the past couple years. Serendipity! I replied "Magic", popped the rose out of my sleeve, and gave it to her. I was most pleased.

After the concert, I got to talk to Shannon, Katy, and Erin, whom I hadn't seen for a while. Shannon took one of my gloves and immediately petted herself with it, then asked why I had velvet gloves. I laughed and asked her what she had done as soon as I had let her borrow the glove (she had petted herself with it). I explained that that was my general theory in life: wear garments that women instinctually want to pet or rub against. I was also wearing velvet pants and my ultra-smooth "marshmallow" shirt (so named because it's as smooth and comfortable to the touch as a very smooth marshmallow), so she and her friend briefly petted me. She said that she'd never had velvet anything, so I let her keep the gloves as a holiday present. Katy had bleached blonde hair, which looked surprisingly good... she looked smashing when I let her wear my Santa hat.

Megan and I were invited out to join some choir members drinking, but she was pretty tired, so instead we headed over to McCormick and Schmick's for a late dinner. This night was supposed to be a date between her and myself, so I grabbed my KGB Bar Book of Poems. We gabbed about early relationships - when we first noticed the Opposite Sex and whatnot - , and we read each other some poems. It's a great book - you can flip to any place in the book and have a good poem to read.

Our waiter was obviously a cursed haunted man. I'm often trouble when I go into restaurants, but I really wasn't trying to destroy him. Since I've been on a bit of a diet after getting back from New Zealand, I asked him what was the healthiest salad. Evidently his family had been hunted and killed in the past by Hordes of Ravenous Salads, because the man was highly vexed by my question. We got our food, had a nice meal - I'd forgotten that McCormick's was a nice place to get late night food in Seattle - , and I left a generous tip to make up for having brought up such painful incident from his past.

I drove Megan back to her place. She invited me to stay the night, but she'd been so stressed out lately I thought she should just enjoy having a nice night, sleep really soundly without any distractions, and wake up very late the next day with a nice warm feeling from having had a nice relaxing night with friends and people that cared about her. I was going to go back home and update my journal, but ended up just reading for a while before crashing.

Most amusing thought of the week: if you were, say, a company that had previously made a warez redist of someone else's software (like, let's just say hypothetically Microsoft MPEG4), it would take either a complete lack of brains or balls the size of Alpha Centauri to go to that company and ask them to support you. I don't think some people get it. But on the other hand I am "impressed" by the Get Rich Quick scheme that ProjectMayo (aka Divx Deux) is trying to pull off. Gee, must suck to not be able to improve upon your previous release, huh? Heh heh. "DivX Deux: Not As Good As DivX ;-) But At Least This Time We Stole Less!" That cracks me up. I don't think I've ever seen a company put out a cr*ppier "v2" codec than their "v1" codec, but I'm suspectin' that this will be in the offing when/if ProjectMayo comes to light. But everything I've heard from them to date seems to point to the fact that these guys are just in it for the money, so it's entirely possible that there never *will* be a ProjectMayo release. Even the slashdot crowd was oohing and ahhing over our next generation V8 codecs - that's a huge compliment, and I'm happy as a pig in mud that the pirate losers at ProjectMayo have their work cut out for them. It wouldn't be so bad if they at least pretended to understand what they were doing with "DivX ;-)", but Helllloooooo, "l3codecp.acm" that you stole from FhG is *deliberately* named "l3codecp.acm". Frickin' morons. The least you could do is understand how a system works (it's realllllly simple) before you try and claim it as your own work. I'm still thinking to myself about whether I want to fix up their shoddy handiwork as part of the Whistler OS install, but ... while it might be Interesting, I don't think helping pirates out is something I want to do. Ah well.

I've lost the stuffed shark I got in New Zealand somewhere within my bed. I'll tell people they need to Behave or they'll get bitten.

Rachel's back in town, and we spent most of Wednesday and Thursday together. I hadn't realized how much I needed to see someone like her. We went out to Stella's for dinner Weds., and ... it was like being with myself. We know each so well and are so comfortable around each other - we just flow seamlessly.

This helped me realize that I'm not entirely comfortable with Megan yet. We just don't *flow* together yet - there are too many rough edges. It could be that I'm not interested in her, but I don't that's the case. I think I *am* interested in her, but need to work out the kinks between us before I'm really comfortable with things proceeding. I think it gets back to what I was thinking earlier: I'd probably be dating Megan if we lived closer to each other. But as it is we both have to work to see each other and fit with each other and while I'm willing to work in a relationship, you shouldn't need to fight just to establish the basics.

Perhaps it's that Megan is a Cat Person. I'm definitely not a Cat Person: I like cats okay briefly, but I could never love something that didn't treat me as a peer. But being a Cat Person is more here than just having a cat - it's a psychological state. For example, today she called me to say hi and woke me up and I wasn't feeling communicative - I wanted to go back to bed. I felt I could either shoo her away and get back to sleep, or (as happened) she would stay on the line for as long as possible. I realize some of this is probably doubt on her part, but... I don't like it. We get along well in other ways, but ... now I'm curious if she's able to be as laid-back as I enjoy. I don't mind *focused* energy - waking up to 'We have to go blanking now! Get up get up!" is fine if unsettling to the freshly woken, but ... I wonder if we wouldn't drive each other crazy if we dated. I hope not because I see so much I like about her... but I just don't feel quite comfortable around her yet.

The one good thing is that I'm realizing this. Stuff like not wanting to stay over at her place... I gave this a lot of thought.

I figured out that I just haven't been comfortable staying at other people's places for some time, thought about it further and realized that my "home" has almost been work for ... ? too long. So last night I cleared out my office of most of the books, got rid of a lot of other clutter, reordered my hard drive so all personal stuff can quickly be sloughed off to an external data store... just generally did a spring cleaning on my office with the idea that I was trying enforce seperation of "home" and "work". I don't know if this will help any psychologically, but I had to make the effort.

I did the same thing when I got home - got about 4 bags worth of stuff to hand off to GoodWill with the intention of a little decluttering of my life.

Happy New Year.

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