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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] spiziks!!



This weekend, I have spent much time in contemplation and doing research with regards to restoring Cammie, and unfortunately, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that rebuilding the Grand Prix is beyond my means. Not impossible, mind you, but I had to evaluate several things and make some hard decisions. Fact is, the degradation and damage to the body itself is extensive. I blame the long-gone Rockhill Pontiac for that and the absolutely shitty job they did repairing the car after the accident it had when it was just four years old. The cheap metal they welded on there, unprimed, improperly painted, and so on is why there's a hole in the back passenger-side quarter panel. And though they replaced the front passenger-side quarter panel/fender, they didn't prime or pain it correctly, either, and that's why it's cracked and faded.

The scrapes, dings, and other rust areas only contribute to the overall problems. It comes down to the fact that the shitty job that was done... I did what I could with waxing and such, but all I did was prolong the inevitable. And when it became clear five years ago or so that, despite my best efforts, the shitty repairs were failing and holes started forming and such... Well, if I could have afforded to get the body work done then, then things would be different. But the rust is out of control. And since most of the mid-1980s cars were crushed and recycled, I can't just go hunt a salvage yard for new fenders and panels and such. New panels and such would have to be custom manufactured, which would triple the cost of restoring the body.

Then there's the engine. The reason why Gary put in a new crate engine is because factory manufactured engines have been phased out in favor of crate engines. Factory remanufactured are somewhat limited in how universal their applications, whereas crate engines can pretty much go in anything, but at the expense of having the same computer control that stock or remanufactured engines would have. The performance engine in Cammie had no computer feedback, other than an oxygen sensor and a sensor or two in the exhaust line. This may have contributed to her demise, as there was nothing to signal the loss of oil in the engine. Just knocking, and then seizure.

Looking around, Jasper has pretty much dominated the market on street-legal crate engines. And given how they screwed me on the current engine, I refuse to do business with them pretty much ever. When I was looking at Jegs and Edelbrock, they have nice, powerful engines that would fit the Grand Prix, but there's no way they'd pass street-legal emissions. As is, with the performance engine and having to trade the digital Rochester carb for the Edelbrock carb, it barely passed the fast-idle test. Now, I could have switched out the metering rods in the Edelbrock carb with a set that would lean out the mixture and give me better emission results for the inspection test, but, the Rochester could be set to have less emissions all the time. Alas, Rochesters have gone the way of the dinosaur. So, my options, even with trying to build one myself, for a decent engine for Cammie are more limited than I had thought.

Then there's the interior work, which would still be somewhat significant. Even skipping swapping the bench seat for bucket seats, getting rid of the idea of putting in a center console, and new digital instrumentation, the headliner would still cost a pretty penny, not to mention the vinyl part of the roof on the exterior. I could only find used/salvaged motors for the power windows and the door locks. The alarm system slowly died and became just a glorified keyless entry system.

Long-term storage would also present the problems of needing new tires which, this time around, had to be special ordered. I would need a new battery. Assuming nothing else rusts in major components, the radiator would still need to be flushed and replenished. The transmission would still need a fluid change. The brakes, though just done a few weeks before the engine seized, would need the fluid changed.

If I made about twice as much as I make now, then I could probably afford to restore the Grand Prix in a timely manner. Right now? Twenty years would be a best-case scenario, and that's assuming I can get the G6 to last that long without any major problems, like needing a new engine or transmission or whatever. Or without having to replace the G6 with a new(er) car or somesuch.

There's only so much work I can do myself with the tools and expertise I have. And without being able to keep it at home, where I could work on it for a half hour a night or something... Yeah, I wouldn't be able to do much and save money. Yeah, I can keep it at Henry's indefinitely, but, it's outside, and subject to further deterioration from exposure to the elements.

The final cincher is this: I'm trying to get back into dance and I need to start writing regularly. I can manage writing and dancing. Tossing in a car project that would also suck away money is just...too much. I can already see where I would have to make a choice among dance, writing, and car building. I can only do two of the three. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I want to dance more than I want a truly unique car that I would only drive on weekends and such.

That was another thing... I couldn't see doing all this work for a car I wouldn't drive much and would pay through the nose for insurance unless I found a garage to keep it in. At the new house, I don't think I'll be parking in the garage often at all, and with two vehicles? Yeah, no.

So, the plan instead is to keep the G6 in really good condition, pay it off in 5 years, then save up for a year or two, then go to CarMax and trade in the G6 and have money down, hopefully a couple thousand, for a Camaro. It has to be a V8, black, and with a sunroof. And some way for me to plug in the Sansa clip, either by USB or patch cord. I'm also thinking manual transmission, just to help deter theft, but, I worry about my knees sometimes and having to deal with a clutch, so, the jury's out on that. I've found that CarMax has three and four-year-old Camaros with 20k miles or less on them, practically new, for about $10k less than brand new. I'm thinking these were cars given to salespeople at a dealership or demo cars for test drives or somesuch, then sold to CarMax. Plugging in my criteria, I found a 2011 Camaro with a manual transmission for $24k with just 20k miles on it. Factor in the transfer fee (it was in Fairfax, Va), title, tax, and so on, figure $25k, which is still a little less than half what the G6 cost. Now, if I have a good G6 to trade in and a couple thousand down thanks to saving, I could come up with a decent enough replacement for the car I loved so much.

This is still a bit of a kick in the gut, though. I enjoyed having a classic that I had worked on, that at one point was one of the five cleanest cars in the state emissions-wise, that was truly unique, that had saved my life so many times. I feel bad that I just...can't return the courtesy. I suppose I did save her life a few times, what with transmission replacements, replacing that first engine with the 350 which lasted me 13 years. That engine served me well that summer I went down to Delmar every few weeks to practice with Holly, or going to Yardley every few weeks to practice with Kristin, or to visit Robin every other week in Milton for over a year... It got me through a LOT. And there was still that time the battery died on the way back from Milton, yet the car kept running until I got to Henry's. Inexplicably so. Whatever spirit inhabited the Grand Prix, I hope it found a new home in the G6 and will follow me into the Camaro in six or seven years or so. I hope Cammie is nestled somewhere in the G6 and may live again as a Camaro.

And I'll enjoy taking the cats to the vet for their annual check-ups in the Camaro, and going to TTL for dancing or lessons in the Camaro, and so on. For now, I'll enjoy doing all that in the G6. But I will miss the Grand Prix, and will treasure the memories I have of driving that car, of hearing the secondaries in the carburetor kick in and the free-flow thrumming as the throttle opened up and the car reared like a horse and took off like a shot. I am mourning its loss, and will probably do so for awhile.

I hate Jasper and I'm glad Rockhill went under.

On the plus side, I had fun dancing at TTL earlier tonight. I even managed to dance a full Viennese Waltz with Josie, and though a little winded at the end, I didn't need my asthma inhaler. Again, dancing with someone who knows what they're doing makes V. Waltz so much easier and effortless. Well, less effort, anyway. And I'm glad that some of the newbies I've been dancing with have shown some improvement as well.

For right now, I'm okay with social dancing, what with being busy with the move and all. But after we're in the new house and somewhat settled, I plan to get more involved with dancing.

Anyway, more later...
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HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] dydan, [personal profile] lydy, [personal profile] greygirlbeast, [profile] cookie_chef, [profile] evilest_kitten, and [personal profile] devils_sidekick!!!



Yes, some of those are belated. Yes, things have been a bit busy around here.

So. Saturday. Mom and Mandie convinced me to exhume the body of the poor kitty I hit and take it to the VCA Emergency vet on Marrow's Road in Newark. They did a microchip scan for free, and declared with certainty, since they checked twice, that the poor thing did not have a microchip. The vet seemed to think that, despite the fact he looked sufficiently nourished, he could still be a feral, and some strays and ferals take very good care of themselves.

Mom told them that I found the body in street and moved it and so on, but in retrospect, I'm sure the vet knew I was the one that hit the poor kitty. The whole thing sounded analogous to, "What could anal leakage be a symptom of? I'm asking for a friend..." Nevertheless, the veterinarian kept thanking us for being so humane and thorough and such. For not just leaving the body in the road to get hit by every other car that came down, for making an effort to see if he had owners, and so on. I found a bit of closure there. Or at least, I got a step closer to closure. I still have a ways to go.

The veterinarian also recommended wrapping the box in aluminum foil to keep the decay scent in the box and keep scavengers from digging up the body and so on. Granted, I never had a problem with Yoda's grave, or Lucky's or BamBam's. Still, I made what Mom called a "spaceship grave" for him. It's all good.

Something else that helped me a lot: Riffy. Given that I first "met" him when I almost hit him with the car on my way to class, and saw him almost get hit by another car... He had been living in a storm sewer, and would go up to the college kids living in the dorm there looking for food and getting handouts, so, to him, cars meant the possibility of food. And he was hungry, so, he was going up to cars looking for food. Sucker for hard-luck cases that I am, I skipped class, tossed him in the car, and brought him home and fed him and so on. Eleven years later, here he is, doting on my niece and so on. Now if he would just come out and play with Rocky...

Riffy reminded me that if I could have stopped, I would have. That if I'd known the kitty was there... But, I never saw him. Hell, at first, I thought I'd hit a branch, and was wondering where the branch came from, since there was nothing in the street beforehand...

Anyway, I am...slowly getting over the accident. The unnamed kitty is re-interred in the back yard, and he will hopefully rest in peace. If he did belong to someone, then hopefully he will at least have been shown the same consideration had he lived a full life with them. If he was a stray or feral, then hopefully his death will suck a little less than what most get.

Yesterday, I played the part of the social butterfly. I went over to my sister's house for a bit, where Mom and Rich were, and my cousin was visiting. 'Twas a good visit. The I headed over to Doke's at [profile] thumpermarni's insistence for his annual Memorial Day party. Again, it was all good. Got to watch some Harry Potter and part of Blade Runner. There was some ultra-conservative, religious, conspiracy-theory, Illuminati-touting asswipe that was spouting off, and that's when I left the room. Though, small tidbit: when you start talking about Christianity as the one true religion, maybe you shouldn't be dropping f-bombs in front of your toddler as you rail against the liberal government controlling you through the media and claiming that in 50 years, there will be no more religion, first amendment, or marriage in America...

Instead, I went into another room, where Darryl was playing music through his phone and subjected us to Ace of Base. My 90s dancing seemed to go over well...

[profile] thumpermarni also gave me this book she saw way back when and got for me... The Star Wars Vault. Rocky and I looked at a little of it last night, and it's got some interesting trivia and ephemera...

Today, just trying to get some stuff done around the house. Mom's cleaning Yoda's cage, finally. Mandie and Danielle are over, helping and such, though, Danielle's been really fussy the past hour or so. It might be the different house and all the activity. Mandie's helping a little with some cleaning and packing. We're going to BBQ some 'burgers and 'dogs later, and Mandie, Scott, and Danielle will be joining us.

I...am feeling a little wiped out. That whole shyness thing, then going to a big party... Those who are a bit introverted know how parties and socializing can really wipe you out. Then again, it's been a busy weekend, and the whole bit with the tragic unnamed kitty has taken a lot out of me.

Oh, at least I cleaned the bathroom yesterday, and I also got some stuff done on the car. In addition to getting the windshield replaced, I found my tube of goop and fixed the trim on the rear bumper that was peeling off. I also used the last of my brass paper fasteners to tack up a section of falling headliner, and wrapped the sun visor in duct tape to take care of the split in the upholstery on it that was leaking cardboard. Yeah, it all sounds kind of pathetic, but, temporary repairs until I can get the body and interior restored. At least it runs well.

And with the new fuel pump and spark plugs, my gas mileage has gone up quite significantly. Even though spark plugs are good for three years, I'm thinking I should go back to replacing them every other year. Decent double platinum plugs aren't that expensive and the cost of replacing them every other year is more than made up in gas savings.

Back to the grind tomorrow. Work and chiro afterwards. Grocery shopping and comics stop on Wednesday, and Rocky for his weekly glucose check on Thursday. My life is so exciting... /sarcasm

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You know, I've discovered that each time I re-watch my Firefly DVDs, I enjoy the series even more than the last time I watched it. Each time I watch, I discover another layer of nuance. I notice different details. I see evidence of larger arcs.

They should have given Star Wars to Whedon. With what Whedon did with Mal and Inara, I think he would have done great with Han and Leia. And with what he did with River? Yeah, we'd have Jedi fights of sheer awesomeness.

Something that's struck me about the series since I first read the novelization of Serenity is the relationship between Simon and River. My sister and I had our fair share of sibling rivalry, but, and I just watched "Safe," which is the episode where Simon and River are kidnapped by hillfolk, and River's telepathy leads her to be deemed a witch by the townsfolk, I still love my sister. Indeed, while I'm not out risking my life to save her from an alliance trying to turn her into a weapon, I think some of my current animosities towards family are a...protectiveness...towards her, given that such animosities have arisen about people feeling snubbed at not being invited to her wedding.

I think some of our past rivalries had come from a security to have such rivalries. When I look at some of the darker times in our lives, predominantly when Dad was sick, we still worked well together. And we've always managed to set aside differences when pets were concerned. When the going got tough, we were backup for each other, and typically didn't go for each others' throats unless there was nothing else going on. Maybe sibling rivalry, or at least our sibling rivalry, was born of boredom. But now, we play very nice together, whether we're rescuing abandoned felines or breaking Mom out of a nursing home or making sure Rich doesn't have a diabetic episode while with Mom at the hospital.

Fortunately, Mandie and I also had parents who gave a damn. I look at Simon and River's parents, who just plain didn't really know their kids, didn't see the signs River gave that the Academy was hurting her... At least our parents would have been more concerned about us rather than about how things might look to other people. Then again, we were too poor to worry about anything other than each other.

I'm glad my sister and I get along well these days.

And as far as Firefly goes... I realized I can't pick a favorite episode. The whole series is my favorite episode...

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] unsilenceddream, [profile] drewshi, AND [personal profile] seanan_mcguire!!!



So...life has smacked me upside the head. A little. First off, not going to dance tonight. The anemia stuff has me feeling a little drained, and the morning ended up being busy. So, I'm going to pace myself. As for the morning's busyness? Well, I went to check the fluids and such on the car. I also noticed a front tire kind of low on air. So, I got to try out my new digital tire gage and such. Put air in the tire, thanks to Rich's air compressor, but, I discovered a few problems. First, there's a slice mark on that tire into a small area of tread. There's also a screw embedded in the tread. Lastly, the side walls are cracking. I noticed various degrees of cracking on the other tires. The result is that I will be replacing the tires sooner than later. I was hoping to hold out until the summer, but... Meh. The windshield might have to wait until after the tires. So, I need to do some budgeting this weekend and figure out how things are going to go the next few weeks. Or months. Or whatever.

Here and there, I'm still getting impressions or even admissions that people think I'm slumming here at home. It's annoying, but these days, it's annoying in that it means there's someone else I have to write off. At this point, if people don't know my situation, know what I've done for my family, and so on, then they don't deserve to be in my life. Indeed, they're already out of it to be so clueless. The Cliffsnotes version, for anyone needing to be brought up to speed, is that I helped out my mother after my father died. I put my family first and helped pay the bills, mortgage, and so on when the place where Mom worked kicked her to the curb. It was only two years ago that she found a permanent job that paid her more than half of what she was making before. She's still getting on her feet financially. On top of that, before she had the hip replacement (almost three years ago), there wasn't a whole lot she could do around the house, and I couldn't see having to take care of my own place and be over here 2-3 times a week to take care of this place for her.

Why am I still here? Well, before Mom had the hip surgery and before she got her current job, I sacrificed my own credit to keep a roof over our heads, up to and including buying her a car when her Sebring died. She no sooner got her new job that the engine in my car went, and it was cheaper to replace it than get a new car, or, another used car with likely the same or more problems than what Cammie has. Given that my credit was shot, there was no way I'd get approved for anything "new" or even comparably equipped to what I have now. What I'm restoring now. Now, I'm still paying off the engine, since there have been other issues that have come up, like all the dental work I needed that wasn't covered, other medical stuff not covered (such as co-pays), needing a new motherboard and chipset when the furkids knocked a glass of iced tea onto my computer, and then all the vet stuff this past year with TomTom and YoYo and Rocky. I'm surprised I had anything left for Christmas gifts.

I'm not here because I'm lazy or mooching or can't function on my own or anything else. I'm here because I'm, if anything, more responsible than most and have a high value on my immediate family.

Will I be here forever? Probably not. I'm here for the next few years at least, since it's going to take some time to dig myself out of debt and save up enough for my own place. I can't see getting an apartment or somesuch where I can't have pets or don't have enough room for all my books and such. I would like my own place someday, but for right now, where I am works. I can continue to help Mom and Rich out, dig myself out of debt, and have some significant freedom for my cats.

Anyone who doesn't know this by now or who still thinks I'm slumming it...can go take a long walk off a short pier.

In other news... I didn't get any writing done yesterday. I instead had that annoying voice that says I'll never be published, that I don't have what it takes to be an author. So, instead of getting any writing done, I was instead busy gagging that bitch and kicking her off a cliff. Would I be able to write full-time? Don't know. Not any time soon, that's for sure. I'd need to get established first. And I need the medical benefits from my current day job. But, if I'm successful at writing, then early retirement is a definite option...

Just some stuff bouncing around in my head. That, and... I'm going to (finally) use some of my medical time on the 14th for a trip to the dentist. I'm debating taking the whole day and maybe getting in to see the family doc to get the ball rolling on this anemia thing. Sadly, I shouldn't have to even think about this; I should be able to put my health first. It's times like this that I wish I had ignored a LOT of people in the past and actually focused on my writing a lot sooner...

Comics )
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Some moderate family drama going on that has me a bit...stressed. Mom's a bit upset at my rant against the "relatives" who are mad at her for not being invited to my sister's wedding. As for me, I stand by what I said. Fact is, I stand by the statement that we did nothing wrong, and have nothing to apologize or atone for. Mom's still going to invite them to her wedding, and that's her choice. I have no more right to tell her whom to invite and to not invite than they do to tell us they should have been invited to my sister's wedding. It still bothers me that Mom's kinda sorta inviting them because other people are telling her whom to invite to her wedding, and 2 or more spots are being given to people who aren't worth it, perhaps at the expense of people who are more deserving to be there.

If I ever get married, those people most certainly will not be invited. And that's my choice.

Actually, if I ever get married, and that's a pretty big "if" right now, I might just elope and avoid all this bullshit.

Other than that... Today was busy and productive. I gave myself a haircut this morning. Then I cleaned the bathroom, took care of cat boxes and bird cages, and vacuumed the house. That wipes out most of the rest of the nasty chores and such for the rest of the break. I'll have cat boxes and laundry to do this weekend, but, that's about it. Tomorrow will be another errand day, what with the blood bank, the chiropractor, and the drug store. And maybe getting my new watch resized. But for the most part, the chore part of things is done. What's left isn't too terribly time or labor-intensive, so, time for some R&R. Reading, writing, and gaming. Maybe socializing, if anyone's around.

Actually, the Return to Dance kind of invaded my thoughts last night and today in that I found myself wishing I could go dancing this weekend and get away from everything for a bit. When I was talking to Lydia on Saturday, and she was telling me about having to care for her husband as well as herself and so on, she said that dance was like medicine to her. I'm realizing it's kind of like that for me, too. Cue jokes about being off my meds. Though at the same time, when I left the team, I had to change something, because at that time, the medicine wasn't helping and was in fact creating additional problems.

You know, as I reflect on this past year and life in general, on the bit with family and dance and so on... I don't think people realize how cyclical things are. To quote BSG, "All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again." And we all play roles. Sometimes we switch roles. Sometimes we play the same roles over and over again. And...it takes courage to break the cycle. To break out of the patterns and either form new, positive patterns or start moving linearly or something. Some people never apologize, and the people around them are forever apologizing for being human, apologizing for the sake of friendships or family, forever giving up what they want for the sake of someone else, and until they break the cycle, they will never get ahead. It's hard to break out of these cycles because we're afraid that we'll lose our role and end up lonely. But in that case, perhaps it's most important to break the cycle, risk being alone, end up learning independence, and be stronger for it and more in charge of one's destiny.

And as I write this, I realize I need to take my own advice. With so many things. With sleep... The past few nights, I've been up too late and slowly eroding my progress for a stable sleep cycle. Yeah, there's stress and life stuff and business and excitement at not having to get up early and go to work. But, I need to maintain the sleep habits that work best for me and use the time for writing and such. For eating? I work hard, lose weight, look good, then slowly start gaining weight until I'm fat again. Except for the past decade, where I've just been pretty consistently overweight by 40-60 pounds. Broke the cycle, but not in the way I wanted. Time to change that. Actually, a new cycle was formed. I feel bad, vow to lose weight, manage to stress myself out over it, then give up. The feel bad after a few weeks, vow to lose weight, stress myself out again, and so on. The stress doesn't help, and neither does the resultant sleep loss, and added stress from sleep loss, etc.

So, for 2013, I plan to start breaking bad cycles.

In other news... Rich gave me a rather nice gift card to Amazon for Christmas. I used it to order a new printer. A decent Canon printer/scanner/copier that also does duplex printing. Oh, and can print on CDs and DVDs. Plus, better photo quality printing. And wireless. I'll still connect it via USB to the desktop, but I'll set up the wireless to print from my laptop.

If it gets here before the end of the break, then great! If not, well, 'll be busy after work for a few days. Once it gets here, I plan to clean out and reorganize my desk area, getting rid of old tech (meaning printer cartridges and such that I don't even have the printers for anymore), refiguring everything for the new equipment or even better configurations for old equipment. The goal is to make it all a lot more streamlined and conducive to writing. It's still all kind of in a "student" configuration. Anyway, yeah.

Comics )
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Well, I was a bit ill this morning. I woke up with a particularly nasty headache, the result of the drastic change in weather around here. I managed to take some ibuprofen, then ate something so as to not anger the esophagus monster, then went back to bed. Anyway, I haven't gotten too much done today, but I did try out my new hair clippers and gave myself a hair cut! It came out not too bad. The only thing I'm not entirely happy with was how I did around my ears, but that was with my regular razor. Yes, the kit I got has ear tapering blade-combs, but, I needed a little more. I also had to use a regular razor for my neck. But for the bulk of my head? Yup, it turned out okay! Took a little longer than I thought it would, but that's because I was a bit timid at first. I mean, I knew already that I was going to use the 2 blade for the sides and the three for the top, but still... Once I got over my fear of, "Oh gods I'm gonna screw this up and look like an idiot and have to go to a barber to have my head shorn correctly and people are going to laugh..." I was good.

The Onion has America pegged with respect to the fallout from yesterday's tragedy in Colorado.

Real quick, with regards to the whole thing about how many people are killed by guns and safety and such... You know, I have one and am licensed and so on. I try to be safe with it. Yet so many people are killed by them every day. Sometimes, they're nuts, under the influence, or just plain angry, and they then use it to kill someone, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. People obtain them legally and illegally. They use them with and without a license. I personally think it should be much harder to get one, or get a license for one, considering all the accidents and lost lives that could have been prevented if we had tougher laws. Yes, people, I'm talking about my car.

People break laws all the time. Hell, we elect people who break laws all the time. We revere sports heroes who break laws all the time.

More importantly, the guy, Holmes, was nuts. Sadly, people think that means he must have been stupid. This reminds me of a tale Papa Cardillo once told me. A guy driving along hits a nail and gets a flat just outside the insane asylum. In the process of changing the tire, he manages to trip and drop all the lug nuts from the wheel down the storm sewer. Stymied, he just stares, wondering how he's going to attach the spare tire without any lug nuts, when he hears a voice calling him from the asylum. He looks up and sees one of the inmates looking down, watching him.
"Little bit of trouble there, huh?" the inmate asks.
Scared, the guy says, "Uh, yeah."
"Take a lug nut off the other three tires, and you'll have three lug nuts for the spare tire. That should work to get you to a service station."
Amazed, the motorist says, "That's a really good idea! Thanks."
"Of course it's a good idea," the inmate says. "I'm crazy, not stupid."

This, I think, is one of several major flaws made by so-called profilers and, indeed, the public in general. They underestimate the intelligence of the perpetrator.

But I've been seeing more and more cases of police profilers saying, in press conferences, that Holmes was a special case in that he had no online presence, didn't live in his mom's basement, and didn't engage in other behaviors of antisocial geeky outcasts. You know, it's a bit upsetting to me that what these profilers describe as being the type to just up and snap...describe me. I live with my mother, don't have a girlfriend, don't really have many friends, and kind of keep to myself. Oh, and I'm weird and actively non-conformist. The only thing not quite fitting their profiles is that I have a stable job. I've worked at the UD library for almost 13 years, with more than five and a half of those as a full-time employee. And I'm president of the Library Staff Association. I ballroom dance, but have been on hiatus for about two years now. Oh, and I'm not much of a gamer, and suck at gaming when I do game.

The only other thing I have that separates me from the psychos is...pets. A soft spot for cats down on their luck. Still missing and mourning TomTom. Playing with Rocky and Minerva, watching DVDs and cartoons with Yoda. Alas, it still falls into "weird and non-conforming, especially with what society says for guys not liking cats" and other crap.

However, despite how weird I am, how deranged my sense of humor is, I know I'm not going to go ballistic. Because I have this whole compassion thing. As much as I loathe elements of society and have lost faith in humanity, I haven't gotten to the point where I feel like decreeing that society is too sick to survive (Ghostbusters reference). I still smile at little kids, make sure old people don't trip and fall, and share my Boston Market chicken with the cats. The only caveat is that if you hurt me an mine, I swear by my pretty little bonnet, I will end you. I almost typed that that would be the case of most people, but, sadly, looking at the state of the world, I feel that such protectiveness is becoming more of an exception than the rule. Of course, "me an mine" includes the furkids since, well, they're my kids. Thankfully, I know several of you on here are of like mind on this issue.

Of the fans they interviewed on the way to see The Dark Knight Rises yesterday, there was one I happened to catch, and it happened to be a guy with some sense. The reporter incredulously asked him why he wasn't scared or uneasy to be going to a late night show. The guy replied that if he worried about dying all the time, he'd never leave the house and live. I think the only reason that aired is because the news agency in question was hoping to show how "out of touch with reality" us nerds are. Oh well.

I also have to say that over the last few days, starting even before the tragedy happened, and perhaps slightly influenced by reading William Gibson's "Blue Ant" books, I've been more aware of certain undercurrents of shows for what is supposed to be "normal." I've seen more of how advertising tries to target people. I've seen how the news has become more and more biased and become a tool in encouraging conformity. Although, this is more for mainstream media (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC). When we get to Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and Cartoon Network/adult_swim, it's not nearly so bad. Unfortunately, those are all "nerd" channels, so...yeah.

Wow...this entry has turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be...

Anyway, because I'd prefer to end on a positive note...




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Yup, it's been 10 years. It's interesting to see some of what's out there... Some people decry the wars being fought, some decry the loss of liberties for perceived security, some think that the event brought us closer together. Well, the tragedy did bring us together for all of a month or so, and now, we see this nation being more fractured than it's been since the Civil War. And yet, there are people like me that still hold out hope that we'll eventually pull our shit together.

I've already blogged about 9-11, the 10th anniversary, and so on. As for the observances themselves... There's a line, and a rather fine one at that, between tasteful remembrance and acknowledgment versus politicization, polarization, and just plain taking advantage of the victims.

Fact is, it happened, and there are some who would rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend it didn't. Others are obsessed with fear, rage, or both. One of the books I'm reading right now, The Legacy of Heorot, by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes. In an attempt to set up the passage quickly, the novel takes place in the future when Earth first starts colonizing. 200 colonists are in cryosleep for a journey lasting about 100 years, and they set up a colony on a planet they named Avalon. The colonists are mostly scientists and engineers, and Cadmann Weyland is the only military person among them. The island they settle on seems peaceful, and Weyland is the only one who isn't ready to let his guard down. After all, the colony is less than a full Avalonian year old. And when some of the livestock is carried off and eaten, Weyland wants to tighten up security. Some of the colonists, however, accuse him of manufacturing a crisis just so he would be useful again. It isn't until Cadmann sets up his own stake-out and nearly loses his life that he begins to confirm that there's a dangerous predator on the island, and the colonists still refuse to take precautions, until the predator attacks the colony, killing several people, injuring dozens more, and destroying several buildings. The colony leader, Zack, hadn't dismissed Cadmann out of hand, but certainly didn't support him or even his calls for volunteers to investigate the livestock disappearances...

If a camp vote had been taken the day after the disaster, Zack would have been ousted and Cadmann elected to the post in a moment. Take the vote soon enough after the disaster, and Zack himself might have led the electoral parade. Not now. Now he'd fight.
"We're surviving," he said. "We're going to keep surviving. We've paid our price for this goddamned planet. It's all we're going to pay... What happened just shouldn't have happened." There was absolutely nothing of the old Zack in his tone.

I mention all of this because it's a good illustration of how people's passions can shift after a disaster, how trauma can change people, and how it's all a part of being human. Incidentally, the book was written in 1987.

The Onion had posted an article about God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule. I should probably send this to some of my more Evangelical friends who right after the attack and even today advocate various forms of genocide. And people wonder why I walked away from organized religion...

Kudos to the two following comics for adequately commemorating the tragedy...

Baby Blues


Zits


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