Saturday, January 25, 2003

Okay, so the internet "slow down" seems to be a story on the major network news, but here's the spin. It affected private corporations that didn't patch in the fix like they were supposed to. No word that the government was hit hardest of all from that same reason.
Anyway, who cares. It doesn't make any difference if we have confidence in our government or not. In fact this knowledge hasn't changed my confidence in our security at all at all. I'm just ranting probably because I'm full of venison chili tonight.
Last night, around midnight, most of the government computers went down. My father works for LA County Fire as the network troubleshooter. He was called at midnight to drive in and figure it out. When he got there he learned that the dispatch terminals all were completely down. Not only that but that they were down all across the country, including at the White House. All of these networks used the same Microsoft program.
The people in charge of the networks in the government are largely clean up people. It would take far too long to install all of the patches and antiviruses to prevent this sort of thing. So when a hacker finds a weakness, and they often do, the troubleshooters come in to get it all back online and sew up the holes that the hacker in came through.
According to my father, the story was the top story on the news news at five in the morning and totally off of the news by six, never to be reported again. This is because the White House probably doesn't want you to know that the entire government crashed last night and that you should all thank your god that you didn't have any reason to call 911 last night.
Why am I telling you this? I don't really know. But I know that my mother said, "This is the first time I've actually seen a news story being covered up."

By the way, now everytime I pass that used bookstore on Magnolia street, I shake my fist out the window and shout, "CURSE YOU, BOOK BARON!"
Just returned from the Orange Friends of the Library sale (that's the city of Orange, not friends of the library who are orange.) I bought forty books for four dollars. Some good stuff too. I was surprised to find anything good because when I got there it looked like most of the city was already there. I got there twenty minutes early, but they were already up and running. Luckily I got in just as they opened up the garage full of books, so I got first pick at those. The rest of the sale was sloppy seconds. There was another dealer from a local used book store there that I recognized, but I couldn't place my finger on where from. He could have been Book Baron or Book Man.
I elbowed around. You know, I used to have this used book store ettiquette where I gave other browsers a foot of personal space and never reached around them. All of that has gone now that filling my stomach depends on my browsing. I'm not downright rude (which, incidently, I saw the other book dealer shove people out of his way once or twice) but don't get between me and a bookshelf is all that I'm saying. Guerilla book dealing. We dress just like you, but we've got a hungry look in our eyes.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Another example of what I was ranting about last night comes in the form of Orange County traffic. I'd say a good ninety to ninety-five percent of OC drivers are good, courteous drivers. But take any drive over five minutes and you'll encounter some really selfish, evil, twisted, mean-mad drivers. Of course, needless to say, if you are cut off by one such person and you arrive at your destination and someone asks you how the drive was, you'll sigh and say it was godawful. That's because of the transferrance of negativity. It's like a virus.
I have a really hard time keeping positive when the crap pours in.
I was driving my grandmother, who doesn't drive anymore much to my envy, home today and we were almost hit by a city bus. He was tailgating me and I had to stop short. The bus whipped around the tiny space to the right of me (twas a one lane road) and pulled in front of the line of cars, shaking his head at me in the mirror. My grandmother said, "What a jerk!"
I really do believe that most people are good, but that evil is so powerful in this world (and easier than good) and, frankly, out of the norm in that it upsets our ideas of what life should be like and thereby making its self more noticable than good, that I tend to get bogged into the "world is depraved" trap. If negativity was water, I'd like to be a duck, but I'm usually a sponge.

Estate sales are strange. They seem to be run by people who know the Antique Roadshow mentality, but don't know the actually selling price of things. My modest example:
I just bought two books at an estate sale. One was three dollars (the most I've spent on a book since I've started this business, but I had a feeling about it), one was a quarter. The three dollar book is worth (selling price) about four dollars. The quarter book is worth about fifteen dollars. I didn't know any of this until I came home. It's different having your income be a crap shoot. But it's a lot more invigorating that knowing what you're getting when you put in the work. Adventure!

Thursday, January 23, 2003

The panic attacks that I mentioned before were hellish and constant for a long time. I would freak out about the fact that I was trapped inside of my body, reality would turn very sinister. I'd get flashes in my head of violence happening to me and then I'd freak out about how disturbed I was over the violent images in my head. I couldn't enjoy anything.
I started seeing a counselor right after I made the decision to quit my job and make money on my own. I wanted to figure out why my brain was doing these things to me and get some tools to work through it. This last time (by the way, this is at Chapman where I go to be shrinked, my alma mater), I told her about how before the session I was sitting on a bench outside and reading and I looked up at Memorial Hall, which is the great, giant hall in front of Chapman where the President's office is and where they have an auditorium inside. I thought, "I've climbed to the top of that building before."
And just as soon as I remembered that, I had an image of myself falling head first off the roof of Memorial. I looked away quickly.
She said that I'm in a pretty heavy transition state what with Nissa and I drawing near to starting our life together and starting my own business with income and income taxes. She said that maybe my discomfort was in trying to finally grow up. And maybe the violent images come as a fantasy escape from what I'm really afraid of. In other words, instead of thinking, "I hope I don't wipe out my life's savings with this business" I think of dogs tearing my limbs off.
I told her that I don't allow myself to enjoy anything. I have this defence mechanism. Like the night Nissa went away, we bickered for the first hour. Then Niss said, "Do you think we're bickering so that it'll be easier to part ways?"
I knew that was true and I went on to enjoy the evening. Now, tonight, it's three more days until she comes home and I miss her.
My counselor wanted me to, for the next week, whenever I have a violent image or a panic attack, counter it with something I find beautiful and try and follow that. Think of my cat Bugsy snoring on the chair, or holding Nissa, or Laurel and Hardy dancing in "Way Out West" or how the rain dropped down the windows of the car as we drove from Chico to San Francisco. In other words, instead of following the negativity down the hole, start training my mind to seek the good and holy.
When I was growing up, and really to this day, my father has played mind games with my brother and I. He never knew how to relate to us because his father had been a rat bastard to him, so he screwed with our heads until we'd get pissed off or cry or both. I guess that was the only way he could emotionally connect to us. He'd get us on the topic of our opinions, take the counter side, and turn it into a dick measuring contest, like it's some great feat to intimidate a child. He'd jump around and stamp his feet like Rumplestilskin about how we were just plain wrong wrong wrong in our opinions and generally make us feel like crap for being passionate or enjoying something. Then, when we'd get really upset he'd counter, "Hey! We were just trying to have an intellegent conversation!" of course insinuating at the end of it that we were incapable of having an intelligent conversation.
I don't talk to my dad if I don't have to anymore.
I want to start being passionate and loving and open and good and holy again. I was once. Life beat me down. I hid in shallow relationships, I drank, I wrote a play, I kept to myself and did nothing.
I don't want people or my own brain to tell me I'm not supposed to enjoy things. Everytime I feel a little high, some demon comes and drags me back into the crap. That's not where I'm going to live anymore. I'm going to seek the holiness of life. I'm going to help those who need and want to be helped. The others who want to lie howling can do so, and I'm going to try and not let them pull me down howling too.
The Apocalypse happens in the mind.

If I ever get my own church, I thought of the perfect sign to put on the door:
"No Restroom for the Wicked."

Today I built chairs for the Quaker retirement home. They're the nice, modern, Picard chairs that people sit at desks at nowadays. I could put one together in about fifteen minutes, but there were fourteen of them, plus clean up, so I didn't get any book business work done today. It was backthrowing work, but I got more money that I would have on my own and I got to listen to jazz all morning.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Nissa called from the Buddhist retreat in Colorado. She said she's getting a lot out of the experience. She wrote me a letter which she tried to fax to me but it came out on my side like a chicken with ink on its feet had walked on the paper. She said that there are plush Buddhas in the gift shop. She passed up the plush Buddhas for a book of chants from that monastery so we can chant while we wash dishes instead of singing Jolson tunes like I usually do.
A giant fixed our faucets today. He had to duck to get in our front door. He had a voice like Andre (the giant). He made me feel like a gnome, which is just fine with me.
I wish I had a nice way of tying those two paragraphs together, but I don't.
Life's funny that way. Sometimes it seems to have some deep, esoteric meaning. Sometimes everything is spiritual and we see God smiling in our corn flakes. Sometimes it seems like everything is planned and there's a big ol' conspiracy behind everyfnordthing. Sometimes things are just strange for no good reason at all. For some reason, the latter is usually the case closer to when I've just woken up.

Woke up this morning with tremendous pressure in my left ear, as though there were a giant zit inside. I couldn't detect a zit, but I knew I needed to do something about the pressure before my equalibrium was affected.
Most of you in America can probably sympathize with not having health insurance. The fact that most Americans can't afford health insurance or aren't offered it is a good example of what bugs me about our current state of affairs. Our representatives would have the world believe that we are the first in First World nations. We have the highest technology of weapons and what not. But the majority of our people live in the Dark Ages as far as health care is concerned. Granted we have more information than groundlings did. I usually go to the Ask Dr. Weil website and get medical advice from a guy who looks like he sits on a mountain peak all the live long day. And I've had better luck with him than I've had with medical doctors and I don't have to pay anything to read his site!
We have the capacity to perform any number of medical wonders. Heck, Magic Johnson bought his way out of HIV. To me and most people I know, being able to see a doctor when you're sick is like being able to see pink elephants when you're sober. It's either not going to happen or something is horribly wrong. Mind you, these are the people who are meant to keep you alive if there's anything physical threatening your life. Why is it we have the internet, cloning, lasers to shoot down missiles, but most of us can't see a doctor when there's something obviously wrong with us? It's because our technology has advanced to the information age, but our minds and, more to the point, the minds of our rulers remain set in the ways of the industrial revolution. So we, the peasants, are left to figure it out for ourselves and hope our brains can compensate for the void in our wallets.
I poured peroxide down my ear and then washed it out with warm water. It feels a little better.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

I'm a disciple of crazy wisdom. Here's one to add to my book of Prayers came from a Laurel and Hardy film I saw this evening ("The Bohemian Girl"):

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If at first you don't succeed,
try try again.

Sleep has always boggled my mind. It's such a strange activity, kind of like being somewhere else in spirit. I love to sleep. I think it feels great. But I'm an insomniac.
Last night I had a dream that there was a room of people in a party atmosphere. I think it was supposed to be Studio 54, but it looked like somebody's room in their parent's basement. Anyway, the place was packed and they were holding chairs with people sitting in them on their shoulders and twirling them. In the middle of the room, on one of the chairs, was Truman Capote in a white, seersucker suit and white fedora. He was laughing with his mouth wide open.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Nissa's away in Colorado on a Buddhist retreat. She couldn't be at the protest in person, but said she would be in spirit.
When people say that they're going to be away but with me in spirit, I imagine them sitting, staring off into space like a zombie has eaten their brains. I think I'm going to start doing that.
The creepy part is that she's on a Buddhist retreat, so she probably was sitting and staring into space while she was at the protest "in spirit."
By the way, after the protest on Saturday, I watched the NBC evening news for once because they were one of the stations that had cameras there. They had the cameraman basically humping the leg of one lady, who had a fiery speech at the rally and was dressed most like a progressive out of the speakers, which made her stumble a little in her otherwise inspiringly focused speech. Most of the reporters were interviewing the anarchists, but I thought maybe my "Quaker for Peace" sign might be seen. It wasn't. What was shown was half of the story (about forty seconds out of an eighty second story) about the "counterprotest," which included a long interview with a lady holding a "Support President Bush" sign. I didn't see any anti-protest except for the lazy bastards who stuck their thumbs down at us who were noticable only by their vast minority. Nobody I talked to saw any counter-protest. Turns out the lady in the interview lived across the street, ran and made a poster when she saw the protest, and stood out in her driveway with it for a few minutes. She, one housewife, received equal time and promenance over six hundred (by the ultra-conservative OC Register's count) organized, anti-war protesters. The news story ended with her, of course giving the pro-war stance the strong position in the mind of the viewer.
I hate getting news from people who are dumber than me and worse liars.

That last post I meant to end with "They're the best music thing you're not going to." But why don't we let it stand as I wrote it, eh what?
If you find yourself in Southern California on a Sunday night (I know I usually do) be sure to stop by the Liquid Den in Huntington Beach. They have a sofa and Arrogant Bastard Ale on tap for those of you who drink. Instagon plays every Sunday around 9ish. They're a band that never has the same collection of players twice. They also happen to rule.
They're kind of like a psychedelic band that sometimes slips into really good jazz improve and sometimes makes their way into darkwave space. Last night they played a cover of the Pink Panther theme that sounded like dwarves in an underground mine were playing it (which is how I like my music to sound.)
Anyway, it's a good evening of savage music. I had a ripping good time last night.

, they're the best music thing that you're not

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Tuesday was my last full work day at Sweetwater. I've been working as the shipper in a waterpipe factory for the past ten or eleven months (check them out at It was a good job for the most part. I had fun looking at the glass and I was good at what I did. I didn't like listening to Eminem very much and the UPS guy was a tremendous jerk ass. But I did the work and played with the laboradors that wander around the warehouse. And there's kind of a freeing energy when you work with something that you can appreciate something aesthetically, but have no use for in your everyday life. (Honestly, I never touch the stuff.)
A year or two ago, I had this great sense of peace. It was about the time I'd begun sitting out in the back yard, meditating with the sun on my bare skin, feeling the silver thread from my third eye to the tree for an hour a day. I was reading a lot of late Philip Dick and Thomas Merton. Nissa and I were about a year into our relationship and, save the bi-weekly fight, we were doing really well. I had focus, drive, excitement, and even the slightest hint of meaning. That all went away somewhere in the year that followed.
I was laid off from South Coast Repertory and my friend Lob called me up to work at Sweetwater. Spinning my wheels is such an ugly term, but I certainly wasn't making any forward movements. Everything kind of leveled off for almost a year. Nissa and I were okay. I had a decent amount of money, a few raises, and I bought new cds about once a week. But notice the shift in tone here. Nothing bad is happening to me, but in the above paragraph, I had arguements and sunburn but a sense of peace. This paragraph I have a good job and mental turmoil. Hmm.
Round about Thanksgiving, I started getting anxiety attacks almost every day. You know how when you're driving and you suddenly are aware of the fact that you're operating a giant piece of metal at high speeds surrounded by people who are dumb as a sack of potatoes and don't care if you live or die and you get all self concious and begin driving very poorly? Well, I was getting like that with conciousness. For some reason I was feeling very trapped inside my body and the world around me took a sinister edge.
Meditation sometimes worked but not always. Likewise with baths, getting outside and doing something, exercise, chores, talking to people. Hmm.
Christmas came and I was very grateful for all of the stuff people got for me. Many good books, music and films came my way. But none of it was anything that I would have said, "That is what I want more than anything." The giving of gifts was the high. They could have given me sombreros and brass earrings and I would have enjoyed the day just as much. This made me think, "Maybe I've got as much stuff as I really need. Maybe even just a little bit more."
After Christmas, Niss and I went to visit my brother in Chico and Dr. Oblivious in San Francisco. For the whole trip I never once had an anxiety attack. Plus, my brother and Dr. O are such positive people that it rubbed off on the two of us. Coming back I told Nissa that I was thinking about quitting my job.
"Good. Why?"
"Well, I realize that I'm not happy right now when I see myself around two people who are relatively happy. I want to find my bliss and follow it."
"Okay. How are you going to pay off your student loans?"
That's when I decided to be a professional shuffler. I go to libraries, thrift stores, and church sales and buy the books that I know people will want for a quarter or two. Then I sell them on line for a thousand percent more (or more), which still makes the books even cheaper than a used bookstore. Nobody loses. I give money to the libraries and sell good books to people AND get to spend my days going around looking for neat books.
Can I make a living like this?
No problem, so long as I don't get a burning need for a new cd every week. And even if I do, I know enough Deadheads to trade what I already have.
I can't say I've found what I seek just yet. I still get the heeby-jeebies every few days for no good reason at all. But, I do have a forward motion again, which has eluded me for a while.
That plus I can sleep and eat whenever I want.