Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Thanks-ri-abso-freakin’-lutely-diculous-giving

I didn’t get a chance to write about Thanksgiving. The newspaper made Thanksgiving not only bonus day (everybody gets the paper, regardless of their subscription schedule), but they had to give us five, no, six sections. Three sections devoted exclusively to advertisement. And they decided to give every carrier an extra 50 papers per route. All “sissy pissers.” Sissy pissers? Sigh… someday I’ll have to write up my paper carrier lexicon. These are all delivered on the Saturday and Sunday schedule: abbreviated “SS,” which I pronounce as “sissy.” And the edition is the Denver Post Special (special comics), abbreviated DPS, or simply PS, which I pronounce as “pisser.” They go in piss-yellow bags, and they just piss everyone off. Hence, 50 new “sissy pissers.” And, of course, I still got until 6:00 AM to deliver – fold and deliver – 300 and something enormous papers. And that lady that consistently calls in a complaint if her paper isn’t there by 6:00 AM, the same lady that last Thanksgiving sat and watched at the window until I delivered it at 7:13 AM before calling to complain that she didn’t get her paper (as soon as I delivered it, on Thanksgiving Day), well she got her paper before everyone else this year. Even though driving out of my way to do so made the rest of the route 10 minutes later.

Then, I got to drive 50 miles across the state to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family. For some mysterious reason, I decided that I would enjoy my visit with the family more if I could pre-visit without the fatigue of the Thanksgiving Day route dragging me down. So that meant two 50-mile each-way trips, for a total of 200 extra highway miles.

And, there’s the Christmas card situation. I won’t publicly disclose how much money I got last year from Christmas tips, because it makes some people jealous, and I really really need that extra money. I didn’t get my order of 350 cards in until the Monday before Thanksgiving. That’s three weeks later than last year. The Christmas cards went out with the Sunday edition following Thanksgiving. Much of my energy the past two months has been on efforts leading up to this day. I’ve been importing between 20 and 40 items each day into my web store, BazaarMart.com each day since October. All this so that I could have all (most?) of my supplier’s products in the store in time for the Christmas season. To kick off my part of the Christmas shopping season, I decided to set up some Christmas specials (go there! There’s discounts and freebies!), and print up a promotion on some card stock to be included with my Christmas card distribution. The card signing and stuffing party took place over the two days following Thanksgiving.

All that work left me just wore out. And now, the credit-card checkout system on the web store isn’t working right. That’s okay, I’ll just keep poking around in the dark until it goes in somewhere. Did I actually say that just now? I get kinda punchy when I’m wore out. Maybe you’ll understand why I play solitaire and procrasti-blog instead of fix things like the checkout problem.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Struggle, The Dream

I’m Procrasti-blogging again. I was running a system repair in System Mechanic 6 yesterday, but I aborted it because wanted to get some more work done, and wasn’t sure if the system “repair” would spontaneously reboot my system, and lose unsaved work. It got to 90%+ finished, and just sat there. For hours. Not making any more progress. Still responding, still working, just not showing progress. Today, I’m running it again. That’s symbolic. I should have read today’s news yesterday.

From Breitbart.com, via Cao’s Blog,
The House voted 403-3 to reject a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal.
And again,
On Tuesday, the Senate defeated a Democratic push for Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal.

Dr. Sanity writes about the same thing, but compares it to the struggle between Good and Evil in the latest Harry Potter story. I never read Harry Potter. The Lord Of The Rings was much more of a heroic epic for me than anything else. The Dr. compares what the movie describes as the difficulty of the decision between what is easy and what is right with that same difficulty in supporting the war against terror.

The Lord Of The Rings may have been considered a metaphor for WW II in the period following that war, but I would argue that it is at least as good a metaphor for the current war as Harry Potter, and in general, as a metaphor for all struggles between Good and Evil. Some probably said that Star Wars was a metaphor for the Cold War. But I would agree with others’ statements made elsewhere that neither Harry Potter nor Star Wars hold a candle to LOTR. Tolkein designed a whole world, integrated a mythos, populated it with distinct races and unique languages, and created characters and cultures with complexity and depth. True, I’ve never read Harry Potter, but from what I know it’s just boilerplate pulp fantasy spun off as children's stories and mass-marketed in a never-ending, self-perpetuating meme.

Other than that, I agree with the premise behind the “Good Vs. Evil” stories. For me, the most memorable line in LOTR was when Frodo lamented that he had the burden of the ring, and wished that he had never been given it. Gandalf replied, “So do all who live in times such as these. But that is not for us to decide. We have only to decide how to use the time that is given to us.” That line, seen in the movie released not long after 9/11, not long after I lost my job, was the line that changed my life. It echoes the same sentiments of choosing between the easy and the right. Again, in The Two Towers, Frodo laments his burden and the impossibility of their mission. Sam encourages him with “We've got to go on, because we've got to believe that there's still some good in the world that’s worth saving.”

When I lost my job, on May 16, 2001, it was clear to me that my Computer Engineering career was not moving forward as I had hoped. It was clear that others weren’t interested in supporting my ambitions as much as they wished to use me to advance their own ambitions. After sending out some 600 resumes and getting fewer interviews than I could count on one hand, it was clear that I wasn’t likely to get a job in the computer industry anytime soon. 9/11 was the final nail in the coffin. I was worried that my education was becoming increasingly out of date, even as I was looking for a job. When I expressed my concerns to a friend’s aging parent, who echoed my fears in the simplicity of a bygone age by saying, “Does that mean you’re a failure,” that obscene “F- word” hit me with more force than any other vulgar obscenity in the language.

I had been working on the idea of writing and selling my own software. Being somewhat of a stock market dabbler, I had started working on some investment analysis software. I developed this, packaged it with security and licensing measures, payment options, and sold it under the “try before you buy” shareware model.

Somewhere in the middle of this is when the LOTR: The Fellowship Of The Ring, and that line that I quoted above inspired me to continue my work. I felt that the world needed something, and that I was the right person to create it. Getting yet another entry-level job at some startup company that didn't have the commitment to stay in business longer than six months would short-circuit my dream.

My success was very modest. Not anywhere near enough to support me. Marketing became a major consideration. My project wasn’t go anywhere unless I could effectively promote it. That’s when my plan took a hard left turn. I’ve had difficulties with communication skills all my life. I was fired from my first job because they interpreted my soft-spoken nature and privacy of thought as “poor communication skills.” I’ve taken jobs like sales, and customer service, as a way of giving myself opportunities to practice good communication skills. Blogging is just one more of those practice efforts. Another is my web store, BazaarMart.com, which I’ve been working at most enthusiastically in recent months. Search engine marketing is one thing. The real art of sales and marketing is in charisma, and persuasion, and most of all, cultivation relationships with customers, clients, associates, and service providers. That’s something that’s taught in certain little known courses, which I have yet to take.

The progress towards success is slow and uncertain. I have a little book titled “New Work Habits For A Radically Changing World” (Price Pritchett, 1996). In the chapter titled “Accept ambiguity and uncertainty,” he describes how people like to have their work clearly defined for them, but must ultimately define their work for themselves, especially in uncertain times. Most of the liberals and democrats want their work defined for them, their income assured, their projects unhesitatingly funded by the infinite resources of the government, their wars fought and won according to a schedule that they could fit on their Palm Pilots. It doesn’t work that way, sir. E.L. Doctorow described how it feels like to write a book as "like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." In a sense, the war on terror has become a bit like driving at night in the fog. It worries me that people like John Murtha want to immediately stop all activity because there’s no signs of progress. I'm just glad that the rest of Congress understands (according to the Dr.'s article) that if we turn around now, that we won't get there for sure. For my part, by funding my activities at this time with a mere paper route, I might be driving down some wayward dark, foggy frontage road with only a vague notion that continuing ahead can only take me to someplace new. But at least I know that by continuing ahead, I’ll eventually get there.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The MSM Agenda

I'm blogging again while procrastinating. The newly-installed virus scanner is at around 97% complete with it's complete scan of my system after running 27 hours 33 minutes. System Mechanic 6 thinks my sound card driver is a virus, or at least "a dangerous or unnecessary program [that] is currently lowering performance." Whenever I killed the process, the system would spontaneously reboot itself. The system fitness is rated "poor", and critical repairs with the comprehensive repair wizard are recommended. Ho Hum, what else is new?

Neo-Neocon talks about Pankaj Mishra's book review that
"Iranian democratic elections indicate the will of the people is for a hard-line theocracy"
I was about to comment that elections are not always fair, or an accurate indication of the will of the people, even in the United States. But I was a bit concerned that this might invoke the liberal conspiracy-theory hogwash-meme (here's another wikipedia-based article) of "Bush rigged the election(s)." But after further reading I realized that Neo-neocon is way ahead of me. She followed the Iranian elections, and lists the activities that took place, swaying the elections in favor of Mohammad Ahmadinejad. The same guy that american embassy hostages recognized from the Iranian Hostage crisis in 1979. The same guy that has been spouting beligerence such as "Islam will reign from every mountaintop", and "We will wipe Israel off the map", and "A World Without Zionism".

Now this Pankaj Mishra, who it turns out is primarily an Indian literati, is taking the position that the Iranian people freely and enthusiastically elected this Islamofascist, and blindly follow whatever anti-America, anti-Israel, pro-worldwide shariah law rhetoric he puts forth. I have to conclude that when people are paid writers, when they're paid to produce something written every day in as much quantity as possible, that the quality of research that goes into the writing often suffers along with the value of their work. It seems that the primary objective of the mainstream media is to either a) call into question the validity of those in elected office, or b) stir up, provoke, or fabricate controversy so as to have something more to write about. Either way, it's just yellow journalism with the intent of selling more newspapers. But the net effect is an erosion of society.

I could just about imagine the conversation between Mishra and his editor:
Editor: "I want you to expand your horizons. Write about something other than India. Like, maybe Iran. Iran is current news, write about Iran."
In Mishra's mind: "Well, they just had an election I think. I guess I'll write something about why they elected that guy. Elections in America are always fair, so I guess elections everywhere must be fair. There must be a book written about it; I'll do a book review. "
Moving right along, here's something really maddening at Moonbattery.
Representative John Murtha (D-PA) has taken the next logical step in advancing the Democrats' strategy of deliberately causing us to lose the war in Iraq so that the defeat can be hung around Republicans' necks by calling for an immediate withdrawal of our forces.
I don't even need to imagine the scenario: Iraq falls back into the hands of al-Qaeda, nuclear weapons developed, nukes rain down on US cities, dogs and cats living together, the walls bleeding in the twelfth precinct. Okay, the last part was from Bill Murray in Ghost Busters.

Why do people get such nutty ideas like we should immediately hand Iraq over to the terrorists, and have our soldiers all shoot their commanding officers? Turning back to Moonbattery, there's a clue in the phrase, "the MSM's defeatist propaganda barrage". There we are again, the media is mucking around with world politics, just to create a controversy that's "fit to print". And apparently, there's some politicians as well as regular people who don't pay enough attention to what's really happening to make an informed, responsible decision. And how could they, when the media denies reality, either out of ignorance or of intent.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Why We Fight

I've been looking for the motivation to pay this month's bills, while waiting for a hard disk defragmenter and a system repair utility to make some progress, and cruising through my list of favorite blogs. Procrastinating.

If there's one article today that I would want to share with whoever reads what I write, it would be this: a story of a soldier who gives his heart, his blood, his silent Jewish prayers, and spoken prayers from the Koran in an effort to give an innocent Muslim child who had fallen victim to a terrorists attack a chance to pursue life as just an innocent Muslim child celebrating Ramadan. In spite of all the political rhetoric about lies, pre-war intelligence, WMD's, here's why we're fighting the war in Iraq.

There are many Americans who ask why we’re here. Why are we sacrificing so many American lives and placing so many in harm’s way? What is the purpose of it all? Well, I don’t really know the big picture. But from my small sector of the battlefield, the reason I am here is to give “the least of these,” my children over here, a shot at “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — just like my other children living in America.
I couldn't add any more nobility to the article with my own words. Go read it for yourself.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I love Wikipedia. I've learned so much in the past few months just by looking things up on Wikipedia. I could easily keep my blog filled with interesting articles just by posting a little something about everything that I look up on Wikipedia. In fact, I think I'll do just that.

Today's vocabulary term is "infitadah". I've been seeing this quite a bit recently while reading about the riots in France. Most recently, I found the term used on Moonbattery.

Intifada (also Intefadah or Intifadah; from Arabic: "shaking off") is an Arabic language term for "uprising".
The article goes on to describe several examples of infitadahs, or uprisings. Including two Palestinian revolts aimed at ending Isreali military occupation.

So the story in France goes, a bunch of Muslims immigrated to France, didn't get jobs or otherwise contribute to society, and expected Socialist France to feed and house them, change their diapers, wipe their noses, and so on, yada yada yada.... Boo freakin' hoo. Now they gotta riot when they don't get all the riches that their ancestors had. Sounds like a bunch of Democrat welfare bums. I guess they have some other words for them in France, like citizens. Or whatever French for citizen is. If I could come up with a good "told-ja-so" I would. I guess that's what they get for voting against the War On Terror in the UN. I'm reminded of a line in Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, where Theodin King says "I'll not risk open war", and Aragorn answers "Risk it or not, war is upon you."

So, why don't the French take some action, and quell the uprising? Why don't they just deport all the Muslims to Saudi Arabia? Just why are the French being so... French? Turning back to my history lessons from The History Channel, there was a widely advertised program a while back about the French Revolution, where the French went off on a terror-rampage, beheading everyone who breathed out of the wrong nostril, and could only stop the violence with even more violence, until the whole thing finally petered out in a bloodbath-orgy of such unbelievable magnitude that they couldn't possibly outdo themselves anymore. My theory is that the French Revolution left the country in such a state of shock, that anytime there was any threat of war, they'd rather roll over than repeat the horrors of the French Revolution. The horrors of the French Revolution turned the French into a bunch of pacifists, and they haven't been able to get over it since. Hence, they failed to build any military sufficient to resist the Germans at the onset of WW II. And hence, they failed to recognize the emminent threat of the Islamofascist thugs that had been occupying their own suburbs for generations.

Speaking of The History Channel lessons, I've been watching a bunch of programs lately about the Crusades. You know what? The Arabs invaded Israel. The Crusades were an attempt to reclaim the Holy Land in the name of Judea-Christian tradition. Jerusalem has been thrown back and forth between owners for thousands of years. First the Jews, then the Romans, then the Palestinians. Even though the Romans tore down the holy Jewish Temple, the Jews built the place in antiquity. This could be another Wikipedia article post about the Temple Mount. But even if the Romans did tear down the temple, the couldn't destroy the massive foundation or the Western Wall, which still exists today as a testament to the construction that was done in 350 BCE. That was the second temple; the first was built in 950 BCE.

And the Palestinians had the arrogance to come along and build their mosque on the Temple Mount, and claim exclusive rights to the Temple Mount. The Arabs have been invading and conquering since times of antiquity. And now, they've effectively invaded, and are in the process of sacking France. The Arabs can't contribute anything to civilization; they've always got to go invade and steal. They invaded Israel, stole Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. They invaded the United States, stole airplanes and attacked on 9/11. And now, they've invaded France. I still think France should dust off their guillotines, and start taking care of business. Of course, nothing like that will ever happen. France is too busy apologizing for the terrorists, calling them "youths", calling the Intifadah "unrest", and using other terrorist-enabling, apologistic terminology that would be fit to print in the New York Times.