No emoticon exists for the mood in which I find myself today. Perhaps that's a good thing; it forces me to express it longhand rather than try to use a cute shortcut. I had intended to do so anyway, but rather than try to encapsulate anything I can simply write it out in full and analyze it once it's recorded. I tend to do better on second or third review of my ideas anyway. I'm an excellent writer, but a lousy orator.

Friday ended up being a pseudo-quasi-semi-half day, insofar as we got our first good snowfall of the year and it left approximately four inches on Pottstown's streets. Now, to people in New England, four inches of snow probably doesn't sound like much, but there are several factors in this that make it a lot more than it seems:

  • I've had a lot of accidents due to inclement weather. I've actually totaled one car because of black ice and seriously banged up another. I've also wrecked a car due to heavy rain and had multiple spin-outs in one night because of light snowfall. I'm not exactly what I would call a good bad-weather driver, so I wasn't exactly eager to go take the Escape Vessel out for a spin.
  • Pottstown doesn't plow its surface streets. I've heard reports from a number of people that once on the major roadways, everything was "fine" aside from the occasional gust or drift, but looking at the ground from my bedroom window on Friday morning, there would have been no way to tell that. Seriously, it looked from my vantage point as if nothing had been done at all to deal with the snow that had accumulated overnight, and more was on its way down.

  • I'm from Texas. Having lived in Pennsylvana for five years now, and having spent at least two years out of the country, I'm not exactly the most Texan of Texans, but the truth is that all my training in motor-vehicle operation came at a time when a dusting was enough to shut down the city and ice was something you put in your tea. I really still have no good idea how to drive in snow, even though I'm learning.

All these factors combined, I worked from home on Friday, and while I got a heck of a lot done as far as actual productive work goes, I felt the whole day as if I weren't really "at work." I was busy checking email every fifteen
minutes, monitoring servers, checking on production, and making sure things ran as they were supposed to run, but at no point did I ever really feel like I was doing the daily grind. It felt like a day off, and it was a wondrous and beautiful thing. If I thought I could get it, I'd ask for more days like that, and I'd make having a day out of the office every week a condition for my continued employment.

Having Friday feel like such a relaxing day made Saturday feel like a Sunday, and somehow I got it under my skin that it was Sunday, even though it wasn't and I knew it wasn't. It was... very odd. All I can really say for sure about Saturday is that I spent the day thinking what a drag work the next day would be, only to remember that I had another day off and I could enjoy myself. It was an incredible sensation, one I highly recommend if you can trick your brain into producing that sensation.

Saturday also produced another feeling, one I don't endorse quite so strongly but still feel was beneficial. I got a royal burr under my tail to go clean. Somehow I decided I'd gotten sick of the dishes in the kitchen sitting dirty, and half of my clothes in piles in the floor in our room, so I announced to Jessie that she had the option of picking one of the two chores, dishes or laundry, and that I would do the other, but that I wasn't doing both and I wanted them both done by Sunday night. She looked at me as if I'd been replaced with a Pod Person, but she picked dishes and that left me with laundry to tackle on Sunday. I actually found myself looking forward to doing laundry the next day. It's creepy in hindsight, but at the time all I could feel was determined and pleased.

Of course, we weren't the only ones busy on Sunday. Kitana moved out last night.

Many years ago, I had a plan. I wanted to take people who were down on their luck into my house, give them a chance to get their lives back in order, and eventually see them move out into the world on their own and know that they would themselves spread the wealth. I never dreamed of making the world at large a better place, but I knew, I knew that I could make a difference in the life of one person at a time. I could improve one person's life, and that person could then go on and improve things for someone else while I helped a third, and like an empathic Fibonacci expansion, my efforts could have a tangible impact on the world.

Last night, for the first time, it worked.

About two months ago, Kitana said to me that she hated to drop a bombshell on me, but it looked like a friend of hers was in need of some help; he was on the verge of losing his living space, and he needed somewhere to go. She had offered to put a roof over his head while he got his life back in order, but that meant getting her own place. She also asked if we'd be alright with Stranger living with us for a few weeks while she found an apartment, but that as soon as she could, they'd be moving into an apartment. It took longer than just a few weeks, but it did finally happen, and last night she packed almost all of the last of her belongings into her car and headed out to her new living quarters with her new roommate in tow. All she left was one load of laundry and a trash can she couldn't fit in her trunk.

Someone to whom I extended my hand arrived, got a job, got ahead on her bills, heard of another friend in need, moved out into her own place, and extended her own hand out in turn.

If it never goes any further than that, if it never happens again, I can die knowing I did something right. I believed in this model of kindness, and it happened. Words cannot adequately express how I feel about this situation right now. I feel... I feel vindicated, even though no-one ever nay-sayed me.

Thank you, Kitana. Thank you for moving in, and thank you for moving out. 

In other news, I have a new project site on which I'm working: False Positive Productions.

So far, we only have the one design, but I hope over time to expand this. My intent with every image, every product, is to subvert the language by which people frame the debate over contentious issues such as same-sex marriage, freedom of religion, the war in Iraq, stem-cell research and the like. It is my goal to take back the power to define the terms of the dicussion from those who have usurped it in the name of their regressive social and technological agenda.

I know the site is rather bare-boned right now, but I'm going to be working with Jessie in the near future to turn it into something more professional. I'm really not the visual artist. I can do ideas, but she's the layout and design whiz. She actually made the images herself; I just came up with the general idea. I personally love the way they turned out, and I can't wait to talk her into making more like them.

I don't like how high the prices are, but I'm bound by the limitations of the company underneath. The shirt itself is USD 9.90. Each design, front and back, was USD 4.50. That brings the base price of the shirt, absent any profit, to USD 18.90. The triple-extra-large shirts add three dollars to the base price, but in every instance my "profit" is USD 1.10. I'm really not out to gouge anyone, seriously. If I could sell it cheaper and make anything for it, I would.

I'm tired of just sitting on the sidelines talking about what I can do for the larger community to make the world better. I want to start doing something about it. I want to start getting the words out into the hands of the people at large to combat the mindset perpetuated by the conservative and autocratic pundits who are trying not only to frame the debate on their terms, but to prevent the discussion from even happening on any terms other than their own.

To everyone reading this, I encourage you not only to check in with False Positive Productions regularly for new products and to tell others who might be interested in owning such a shirt, but to create your own site. Be your own media machine. Figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it, and then get your message out there. If you want to write, write. If you want to draw, draw. If you want to be political, campaign. Don't be a passive consumer. Be an interactive contributor.

This is your world too. 


Today's entry will contain both a sex meme and intimate discussions of post-operative biology. You have been

First, a meme. Actually, it's not really a meme, so much as it's a questionnaire. An actual meme would be a self-propagating idea, and in this instance I suspect the actual meme is "emulate your friends and fill in these blanks!" However, since the term "meme" has become associated with the online survey that one encourages those one knows to complete as well, I shall endeavor to use the vernacular. The original questions were horribly vague and ill-written, so I've taken the liberty of trying to interpret the questions into some semblance of a proper grammatical list. This may have changed the sense of some of the questions, but if so it's entirely accidental.

At any rate, here we go:

What is your sexual orientation?
Mu. I mean, seriously, the question is meaningless. I'm a male-to-female transsexual happily mated with a
male-to-female transsexual that regularly engages in sexplay and pillowtalk with a broad variety of males, females, and "other." Body is irrelevant. Mind is all-consuming. So, I suppose therefore I shall coin a new word: 
egosexual. I find people's thoughts sexy. Your spicy brainmeants turn me on.

How often do you think about sex?
To answer this question, I would first have to quantify what percentage of my thoughts are actually sexual,
as distinct from those which are engaging that stimulate sexual ideas as a side effect. Given the way my train of thought can go from pancakes to PoincarĂ© to penetration to programming without warning, I dare not pierce the veil drawn carefully around this mechanism. It might lose its magic.

How often do you have sex?
What constitutes sex? Joining the Smart Patrol is only one fraction of the whole of potential intimate contact, which in turn is only one fraction of the whole of potential intimate experience. William Gibson once wrote a story about alien life forms that had sex by touching hips while drinking alcoholic beverages at a bar. "Crystal Cold" from the One Must Fall: Battlegrounds "soundtrack" is pretty damn close to sex. I'm sure things others consider sex would leave me standing confused.

What has been your worst sexual experience?
My ex. Imagine the response a physically virgin, pre-awareness transsexual must have had under the "tender guidance" of an abusive boyfriend with a few years of sexual experience. Imagine earning the nickname "Mr. Floppy". Imagine having a lover that only ever wants to be tied up and penetrated but refuses to reciprocate with anything more than a handjob once a month. Imagine any talk of sexual interest other than penetration ending with "that's weird and I don't like it". Imagine spending six years in that relationship. Imagine looking forward to the abuse because at least it's not being alone

What are your thoughts on cybersex and phone sex?
I think there should be more of both. I think people who treat cybersex and phone sex as somehow fundamentally different from physical intimacy are fooling themselves. The two experiences aren't directly analogous, but they aren't as removed from each other as people would like to claim. If it's not stimulating the parts of the brain that turn you on, you're not doing it right, and that goes for any act. Likewise, if it's pushing your buttons, then you're on the right track. A hand is far more intimate than a cursor, but both have the power to arouse.

What are your thoughts on casual sex?
As opposed to... what? At what point in the relationship between people does sex stop being "casual" and
become something else? Let me approach this from the other side and say that people who "cheat", which is to say people who have sex with other people while maintaining agreements to not sleep with those people with still other people, are a major turn-off for me. I don't belive that affairs are acceptable. That said, if everyone involved knows and nobody's bothered by it, then what does it matter?

What is your favorite euphemism for masturbation?
Close your mouth, relax, pinch one cheek between thumb and forefinger, and then gently but quickly pull the cheek away from the cheekbone and push back towards it.

What sex toys and fetish accessories do you own?
I have several zillion neurons sitting between my ears and several dozen square feet of skin loaded with
touch-sensitive nerves. Anything beyond that is a prop.

What do you consider to be the least sexy body part?
All of them are pretty funny, really.

What is your favorite body type?
Mu. See above for explanation.

Do you like body hair, yes or no?
This is another one of those all-or-nothing issues. A proper pelt or bare skin, or something else entirely, but weird mutant hairs or stubble are not part of my gameplan.

Are you monogamous?
Part of what makes this quiz so damn funny is the fact that the questions are so leading. The assumptions
behind them are incredible. What does "monogamous" mean in this context? Can someone be called monogamous—literally, one mate—if zie's in a committed and faithful threesome? If my mate entices me into subspace and then orders me under the dinner table to service everyone at the party, what then? What if I have standing permission to sleep with a set number of people that my mate has vetted and found acceptable for intimacy? Sexual fidelity, like sex itself, is not a mere pair of polar opposites: faithful or unfaithful, male or female. There is a broad spectrum of commitment ranging from "I sleep with anyone I wish and feel no need to tell any one partner about any other" to "I sleep with one person and that one person only to the exclusion of all others," with a myriad of variants between.

What styles of underwear do you prefer?
Those that emphasize the contents and inflame the mind. Those that are incongruous with the body beneath and encourage embarrassment and secret vice. Those that are sexy and slutty worn beneath the strictest business suit.

Do you prefer pornography or eroticism?
What's the difference?

How large is your pornography collection?
What I find arousing can change at the drop of a garter. Thus, what I consider pornographic can change at any given instant. If I list only those things which I find appealing right now, my collection is very small. If I include anything that's ever aroused me that I've kept for that purpose, my collection is quite large.

What is your favorite hair color?
Assuming for the moment that I find bodies in general appealing, I'll go out on a limb and say that I like either grey hair or well-done subtle-but-unnatural shades. Bright colors tend to turn me off, but I think a tasteful head of soft pastel blue or deep hunter green hair would be absolutely gorgeous.

Do you prefer kissing or cuddling?
Cuddling. To quote from Bloom County, "lip-mashing is an oddity in the animal kingdom".

Which ethnicity or nationality do you find most attractive?
Again with the body obsessions. How about instead I talk about the cultures I find attractive and sexy?
Cheerfully propagandistic, repressive societies give me perverse interest because of the opportunities for furtive groping and hiding sex acts from the commissars. This could be anything from the KGB to the HUAC, but it's the hidden-vice angle that gets me.

Which furry creature do you find most attractive?
Ah-hah! Now we start getting into the realms of the interesting. Of course, being a being of many
moods, it depends on context and person. Somebody has to wear the body well, and what looks good on one personality will not necessarily work for all of them. When I'm in a mood for a dominating, powerful partner, I go for heavy predator types: bears, big cats, wild canids. When I'm feeling dommy, I prefer prey species: rabbits, mice, domesticated dogs. If I'm feeling ambivalent, what I find attractive can swing wildly, and whatever strikes my fancy has a strong chance of pushing me into one mindset or another. Irrespective of mood, vivid fur patterns such as stripes, spots, rosettes, and the like are always a positive.

Which furry creature do you find least attractive?
Male lions do not do it for me. Sorry, they just don't. They don't look sleek or regal; they're just silly. Lionesses, however, are still a go. Aquatics and avians don't interest me, though wings on regular furries are strangely compelling; they have the power to lend supernatural and otherworldly appeal to otherwise unremarkable creatures when done properly. Horses and hoofed mammals in general don't actively hook me, but I wouldn't kick one out of my bed.

What is the most unusual kink you know, not necessarily your own?
Every kink is unusual, in some fashion. After all, kink is personalized, and what you find kinky may turn off someone else. In fact, it probably will. Further, the Sears and Roebuck Theory of Kink suggests that if you select a random object from a Sears and Roebuck catalog, somebody somewhere is likely <sound of cheek smacking> either to that object or to pictures of it. In addition, I have myself acquired kinks over time as people have successfully pitched them to me in a fashion that I could myself find arousing. As a result, I try very hard to think of every kink as equal in some fashion. If I deride it today, it's probably what I'll be fantasizing tomorrow.

What are your kinks?
In no particular order, the most prominent of my ever-changing set of "that which turns me on" are
Perhaps it's a nature of not being able to do it, at least yet, but this pushes my buttons hard. I want to be able to nurse others. I find the idea of others nursing from me powerfully arousing. I want bigger breasts that will support more milk.

Pet Play
Putting down the burden of humanity and being an animal turns me on. Being treated as an animal, or a toy, or someone's plaything, really turns me on. Let me be th' buni. Yes, it's probably creepy. I don't care.

I want to be seen. I want to be shown off. I want to be exposed. I want to be used in public. The chance of being caught pushes the same button, hence the discussion above about propagandistic societies.

Tether me, hobble me, restrict me. Take away my hands, my voice, my legs. Make me less than whole.

Mark my body in a permanent way. Tie me up with my own body. Put cool metal through my hot flesh.

Chastity Play
Let me be aroused, but don't let me climax. Keep me on the edge of release as long as you can.
These are, of course, only a subset of my interests, but they probably make up the lion's share of them.

Last night, three years post-op, I achieved for the first time a climax brought about by another person's direct actions.

Until this point, whenever we played together, whatever else was happening, it was my fingers between my legs, me playing with myself while other people did other things to me elsewhere. If it wasn't my fingers, it wasn't going to lead anywhere. However good it felt, it wasn't going to make me orgasm.

Jessie was tender, intimate, careful, and very very insistent. She touched me expertly, and I responded. It took time, and at times I thought I was going to have to stop again, but she didn't want to quit and I didn't want her to do so. I wanted it, after so long, and apparently I was ready for it, because when it happened it was one of the most incredible releases I'd ever had.

When the rush and thrill had faded, I felt as if the disappointment and doubt in what I had done to myself in 2002 were finally gone. I had been afraid for so long that I would never feel another person give me that release, but it happened and everything felt... perfect.

To hell with the hype. There was something magical in that moment, something I may never feel again in any other orgasm, but that I know I've achieved it once, and that was enough.

It only gets better from here. 


Much has happened. Much needs to be said.

Last night, I experienced my first PvP in CoH. If my physical responses to it are in any way indicative of my usual response to such things, as I suspect they are, then it was my last as well. I spent the next three hours twitching, shaking and shivering. My arms and legs felt cold, my hands shook, my eyes couldn't focus properly, my chest felt tight and my breathing was shallow. Consciously, I recognize this as fight-or-flight, and I'll go so far as to say that this probably isn't the same response that most people get to "playing a video game." If they did, I highly doubt that any but the most crazed adrenalin-junkies would ever play such games.

I fear the world in which most people are this kind of adrenalin junkie.

Honestly, I get the same response in any one-on-one competition. I got it when I was playing Tetris Attack against Jessie. I got it when I was playing Super Smash Brothers Melee against... anyone, really. At least, I got it back when I was unskilled and unpracticed. Once I felt like I had some measure of competency, it wasn't really an issue, but until I felt like I knew what I was doing, I got this same sick sensation every time I played against anyone else. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't healthy.

Two things are at play here. The first is that I hate feeling incompetent. I still get the same response in SSBM or Tetris Attack that I used to get when I first started when I play against people who are far better than I am. This may be a testosterone thing, or some other neurochemistry thing. I get this need to prove myself somehow, like I have to win, even just once, to show that I'm not a total waste of flesh. It's stupid and pointless, but I get into this feedback loop anyway, of each pass being worse than the next, every loss making victory that much harder because of the physical response to the defeat. It's a vicious cycle that ultimately I either break by winning and immediately quitting, which makes me look like a shit, or giving up, which makes me feel like a shit. Neither behavior is one of a responsible, rational adult.

Then again, I never claimed to be either.

The second—lesser but still important—issue is that I can't read the emotions of people I don't know, and their
intent is very important to me. For someone as able as I am to emotionally detach from people, I get pretty screwed up when I start thinking that other people are out to hurt me. I can't seem to shake the idea that the typical PvP player is in it not for the friendly competition about which one can joke and reminisce later, but the "lol what omg" Internet B crowd that are out to piss in people's cornflakes and then claim that it proves something about their virility in bed. This is my dysfunction and I recognize that, and I don't ask other people to understand or accept it, but I almost universally ascribe worse intent and meaning to the actions of people I don't know than are intended, and I usually assume the worst about others just as a matter of habit. It takes a lot for me to overcome that, and I'm often amazed that I've managed to do so for as many people as I have, but for the vast majority of humanity, I see little reason to bother trying. Thus, it feels like most of the people I'm going to face in any sort of PvP setting are in it only to assert the size of their eTesticles, and I've got better things to do than give them a reason to brag at my expense.

So, from now on, I think I'm just going to stick to the hero side of CoH. I'm not even sure I'm going to bother buying City of Villains, either. It'd be nice to have the extra character slots on each server, and yes I'd love to see the additional content they've added, but I just don't go in for all the darkity-dark-dark bad-guy stuff that they seem to have geared the game to support. If I'm going to play a "villain," it's going to be somebody that has to operate outside the law and has little regard for the structures of civilization as they currently exist, but who ultimately isn't a bad person and has a very strong personal moral code. That doesn't seem to be the sort of person that the game is trying to endorse. 

Maybe when the unit price falls to thirty dollars like City of Heroes, I'll give it a look-see.

This past weekend, Jessie and I went to visit her family, my in-laws, in Shreveport. Having in-laws still, in some very small ways, creeps me out. The idea of having someone related to me that isn't by blood or direct choice is kind of strange, and the idea that someone could have feelings for someone else based on a vicarious relationship gives me goosebumps and not in a good way. Still, I suppose that where genetics and desire overlap, there can be some sort of transitive family equation: "I like you, and you like zim, ergo I like zim as well." This isn't lossless, and it's not necessarily reciprocal, but it can happen. It just never did for me before getting in with my wife.

The trip itself was... interesting. Normally I love flying, but I hate flying coach. My hips do not fit into a standard
economy seat, and I think even if I were to shed the eighty pounds I need to lose and the forty beyond that that I'd like to misplace that I would not be able to comfortably lower both armrests even in a standard size seat. It's just not going to happen. Plus, on one leg of the trip down from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, we got to fly in an Embraer minijet, which Jessie likened unto a coffee can with flaps. Neither she nor I fit in the seats with any degree of comfort, a fact that I think directly contributes to my having left my Nintendo DS with Advance Wars GBA and Advance Wars DS in the seatback pocket in front of me when I debarked; I was in too much of a hurry to stand and stretch my legs.

This year, we were not only trying to make up for last year's lack of a real visit but also to cram an early Christmas into the schedule. As I've said before, I don't really go in for the whole Christmas thing personally, but I know it's a really big emotional investment for Jessie's mother, so I go along with it as best as I'm able. We managed to find a number of collectable Barbies that I knew she wanted, and she tried to find us flannel sheets but there really aren't many stores in Louisiana that will sell them; it's just not going to be a popular item there. So, she ended up giving us the money to pick up our own and instructions to tell her what we got when we got them. It's an arrangement with which I can work without an issue.

In addition to that, we got to see a little bit of local television, and I'm reminded of why not only I don't watch TV any more but why I'm glad to be out of "the South". The number of references to church, religion and worship that occured during the commercial breaks frightened me. Living in my little Universe A bubble, I can oft-times forget how little I share spiritually with the people around me, and so that sort of exposure can easily lead to an overload of discomfort. I very much wanted to walk away from the set and go play with my Treo or Jessie's DS or even sit and stare at the walls; it would've hurt my brain less.

On the other hand, though, I did get to see an episode of the new Outer Limits show and for once I'm glad I
caught something on television. In this particular episode, children exposed to alien transmissions experience euphoria and a desire to share it with other people, but adults only hear the broadcast as garbled sounds. Everyone treats the "alien music" as an attack, until a twenty-four-year-old cracks the code and discovers that the broadcast is meant to protect terrestrial lifeforms against sharply increased ultraviolet radiation and is being sent from a planet orbiting a star that had recently—within the last sixty years—undergone stellar conversion to a type that put out increased UV. After the discovery, the alien broadcast is transmitted planetwide and a hormonal treatment is created to allow adults as well as children to hear the "music," which turns people into hairless metallic-sheen-skinned beings. Everyone then goes outside to watch the sky shift from blue to deep red as the sun shifts to a new spectrum.

About the only things missing on the Puzzlebox Kink Chart were antennae and antique internal-combustion engines.

In general, the trip was a positive one, but there's one thing that does honestly grate on my nerves when we visit, and that's the fact that Jessie's father seems incapable of remembering to get Jessie's pronouns right. She's not going to push him on it because she's got problems believing that she's made enough progress to justify making a fuss over it, but I don't think she really understands the psychological impact that having someone who professes to love you on one hand and can't respect you enough to be conscious of your stated choices on the other can have. I've done eerything I can to stand up for her without outright being confrontational, but I'm afraid it may get to that point. I know she did the same for me when it was my parents who couldn't keep things straight; I see no reason not to do the same for her.

Of course, I don't want to be the wedge between them either. I'd feel really shitty if I were.

The flight out was, if anything, even more "interesting" than the trip down to Shreveport. In retribution for
her comment about coffee can with flaps, we had to fly from Shreveport back to Houston on a
turbo prop, which was even smaller than the Embraer! Then the flight from Houston to Philadelphia itself was completely full, meaning even less leg room than before, so by the time we arrived back home, we were both pretty miserable. I still love the experience of flying, but the actual intimate details of the act, I could do without.

Maybe from now on, I just need to insist on first class.

Today was my first day back at work after five days of vacation, and already I feel like I'm ready for more time away from the office. It's not necessarily that things are bad so much as that things are not getting better.

Last week, someone in upper management—as in vice president or director or something executive like that—decided that it was a crisis that the distribution centers were having all these "fatal errors" and bouts of indetermine slowness in the network and periods of system freezing in the application software, and they decided
to put together a cross-functional crisis response team to resolve these issues once and for all. Because I'm the only one in Application Support on-site at a distribution center, my manager named me as the App Support member to the team, which I had no problem accepting even if I'd had an option to decline.

Three days later, I went on vacation. At my manager's request, I sent out a notice to everyone in the response team that I would be unavailable for five days and that my backup would be able to handle any problem in my absense. I gave contact information and even said that I wouldn't have access to the company VPN since my in-laws don't have broadband.

While in Shreveport, I received a call from Event Moderation asking me to join the command bridge.

Now, I can understand not checking one's e-mail. I'm sometimes guilty of letting messages pile up myself. Even now I have eighty unread messages in my inbox at work, and that's down from three-hundred-something from this morning. I can't understand why people attached to an issue this theoretically critical would not read every email relating to it.

Then again, there's a lot about this issue that seems politically motivated, aside from my manager's statement that, and I quote, "this issue is being driven politically from above." Nobody on the floor of the warehouses seems to be that up in arms over this problem, which they say has improved since installing the new scan guns and RF network; but upper management says that the problem has only been getting worse over time. The vendors have said repeatedly that one-hundred-percent connectivity in an RF environment in an unshielded building, but upper management refuses to accept "the hardware literally can't do that"as an answer. This is a problem, as far as they're concerned, and it has to be fixed, whatever it takes.

I do not want to be caught in the fallout when somebody discovers that it can't be fixed and has to start lopping off heads to protect zir job.

Today, I also found out that my manager has been reshuffled to another group pending a split in reponsibilities between our team and Application Support Reporting, and that a manager from another team is being moved into his position. This will be the third manager I've had at this company in less than a year, and I haven't changed jobs yet. 

As I said to a coworker on my daily conference call, before anyone else arrived, it's really starting to feel like a
sinking ship around here. 

Stop the world; I want to get off. 


Today promises to be another day that I typically consider "low-brain" or "bad brain". I went to bed later that I should have, then got woken up by the phone half an hour early when Operations said we had a high ticket to resolve. Five minutes of work proved that it wasn't our department with the problem, that the data center in Atlanta had shut down a computer and not started it again afterwards, and that I really had no reason to remain on the call. Of course, apparently our group is the only division within the company with sufficient end-to-end process analysis skill to be able to say "the software—Supply Chain—ran fine, and the printer queue—Unix Sysadmin—shows the jobs queued, but the print server—Microsoft Sysadmin—isn't responding to pings, so please get these other groups on the call and we'll figure out what else is wrong once that server is online again."

The instant that server came back online, all the printers started working again. Quelle surprise.

The irritating thing about this call wasn't that I had to get out of bed half an hour before my alarm clock woke me. That's part and parcel of being on-call, and there's really not a lot I can say to or about or even against it; that's part of why they pay me the big bucks. What really chafes my chaps is that once I had established that this wasn't a Supply Chain issue, I had to remain on the line for an additional half hour to coordinate the troubleshooting operation. I never outright had to do somebody else's job for that person, but I did have to connect the dots instead of simply being responsible for my dot like most of the other on-calls on the bridge.

If this were a one-off event, I'd chalk it up to exposure or experience or some damn-fool something-something and ignore it, but it feels systemic. If anything goes wrong in the way our subsystem works, not only do we have to prove that it's nothing we did wrong, but we then have to play an active role in diagnosing back up the data flow diagram to find the point of failure and help troubleshoot it. Because we've been heaped with so much downhill-rolling-manure, we've all been forced to become competant in how the rest of the system works, and that means we end up doing at least some amount of other people's jobs for them. If that's what it takes to make product move out the door on time, then so be it, but eventually there's going to have to be a reckoning on this.

Unfortunately, I think that reckoning may be coming sooner rather than later. I had a long talk Friday with one of the people that works in the same facility I do, and he's on the verge of taking another job. If he goes, at least in the short term we're going to be in a world of hurt while we look for a replacement. In the long run, hopefully the impact can be minimized, but there's really no way to predict. The person looking at leaving is every manager's and supervisor's primary or secondary backup. He's the one that does everyone else's job when other people are sick or on vacation. With him gone, there's going to be nobody who can fill in every gap he fills, and that's going to make a lot of people very exposed and unhappy.

With any luck, it will expose a few people who very desperately need to be exposed, and my job will become easier once the burden of carrying them is lifted. In the near term, though, things are going to get mighty rough for a bit, and my patience with this place is going to be even shorter, if that's possible.

I found this essay today from, of all people, Ilthuain. I'm not sure what I was doing there, really. I poked my
nose at it out of curiosity, mostly wondering if the intarweb death of another friend had caused any gloating or cheer, but then I happened to find the aforementioned link, and it cogently and coherently organized a lot of ideas that I myself hadn't entirely processed and assembled them into a readable format. I don't want to bore the masses with a rehash of what the article says, but I do want to sum up the two primary points that struck me upon consumption and analysis:

This is not my tribe.

I'm stealing this line directly from Lord Fanny, simply because she said it so beautifully and succinctly. Every survey of religious views in this country says that eighty-five percent of this country are self-identified Christians. Eighty-five percent. That's seventeen in every twenty. Think of twenty people in your circle of friends. I am one of the leftover three. Jessie's probably the second.

I suppose I knew this, either intellectually or subconciously, without ever really analyzing it to any great degree. Religious—specifically Judeo-Christian—iconography and symbology saturates American culture to an inescapable degree. It is impossible to have a discourse on ethics in this country without an assumption that religion must be a part of it. Even Israel, a country one would think is inextricably tied with its faith, only has a seventy-seven percent professed belief rate in Judaism. If the Christian Faith were a business, we'd have sued it for anti-trust violations. 

Now, consider me and my circle of friends. I think, of all the people I consider "friends and acquaintences," less than half a dozen actually profess to any degree of Judeo-Christian adherence, and much of that is either residual or familial. Remove the "and acquaintences" part, and the number is... one. Maybe two, if you stretch the definitions of both "Christian" and "friend". This culture isn't my culture. This environment isn't my environment. This society isn't my society. Being an American is to a very large extent being at least a lip-service Christian, and I simply am not and have no desire to be.

Again, intellectually, I know about the freedom of religion and the First Amendment and the protections on attending the service of your choice and the like, but I possess no real sense that I or my friends will ever really belong to this culture. What is the likelihood that an atheist, agnostic, shaman or pagan will have a successful political career? Where are the humanist role models taught in schools and not painted as, at best, good people who had the misfortune of not being Christian? Where is the recognition that the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance during a period of nationalist fervor by a frightened Congress struggling to differentiate America from Communist Russian and Chinese interests who had nuclear weapons and weren't afraid to use them?

According to the latest Gallup poll on the matter, this year marks the first time since record-keeping of the like became available that a majority of American people would consider electing an atheist for President, by a forty-nine to forty-eight percent vote. Prior to that, we were the last great minority considered too dangerous to let into public office. Even homosexuals have passed us in electability, at fifty-nine percent. I actually cringed hearing John Roberts ending his confirmation recital with "so help me God", as though it took recognition from a higher power to sanction one's ability to tell right from wrong.

I've seen a few articles that suggest that all this God-talk is ultimately good for us atheists, because the use of the Lord's Name is becoming so vacuous and empty that it's passing into the throwaway stage, the meaningless quip that people add to the end of their speeches to connect culturally with their peers, kind of like Canadians using "eh" at the ends of their sentences. Personally, though, I find it alienating and exclusive. It may be an attempt to connect emotionally with people, but what it does is remind me that I share a culture different from that of "my fellow Americans," one steeped in a very different mythology, one that bars me and anyone who thinks like I do from having any real chance at having a say in how the country works.

This will never be my tribe.

To be utterly fair, things are changing. That figure of forty-nine percent acceptability is moving up over time; it was less than one in five fifty years ago, and only one in three as late as the 1970s. Despite numerous references to atheism being the "other closet" it's not really a social taboo to admit one is an atheist in public. Sure, it bars me from holding office entirely in eight states including the one in which I reside, but that's still better than three-fourths who say I'm an okay person for the job, right? Maybe there might one day even be an atheist comedy on public television, with sort of funny Bertrand Russell type to play humorously off of a religious friend. The execs could call it "Amazing Grace" and follow a non-believer housewife in suburban America as she tries to navigate the waters of mid-afternoon kaffeeklatsch with her devout neighbors! It probably wouldn't sell in Atlanta, but it might make it in Akron. 

However, my question is whether they're changing fast enough. It took the Southern Baptist Convention over a hundred years to apologize for endorsing slavery. How long is it going to take them to do the same for us heathens? Can we even really think that organized religion will ever openly and publicly admit that they have done anyone a disservice by stating that they encouraged people for hundreds of years to think of those who disagreed with their views were not bad people, especially in light of the viral agent within the Christianity meme that propagates itself as the One True Faith? They're having a hard enough time admitting that Muslims and Jews follow the same god as them; why should we expect an advanced timetable given we don't even follow a god?

Then again, it's not really about the atheism. I mean, when all is said and done I'm not really an atheist. I'm an agnostic with shamanistic, totemistic, SubGenius and Discordian leanings, but for the purposes of discussions I cling to the atheist position through the generous application of the Null Hypothesis of "there is no proof for God" and relying on the counterclaim of there being no proof against God to fall under its own weight of assumption. I have a lot of beliefs on the nature of religion as a meta-discussion to religion itself and why people believe what they believe, which in turn are subject to my own meta-beliefs on why I believe those things, and so on and so forth in a Nautilus-spiral of ever-widening assumptions and inductions about the functioning of the human mind. 

Plus, even beyond whether it's changing fast enough is the question of whether it can change enough. Not only am I "an atheist," but I'm also a a bisexual, a polysexual, a transsexual, and a minarchist socialist libertarian, and those are just the obvious subcultures, the ones large enough to attract movements to them. Yes, that last really does exist, no it's not a contradiction in terms, and yes I can explain it but you're going to have to give me more room and time than I want to devote right now to how my head works in favor of talking about how my head works differently from those of the heads around me.

Any one of those would be enough to ostracize me from some segment of the mainstream. Two and I'm really pushing it. Three or more and the sigma of my standard and nonstandard deviations becomes so significant that I might as well not compare my culture to that of what most people would consider "my contemporaries." I just don't have a common enough frame of reference. That doesn't make them bad people, but neither does it make me a bad person. It makes me... an outsider. Someone that's just not part of the group, and never will be. At least, not in any time frame that makes expecting it to happen within my lifetime a reasonable goal. 

In American history, we're taught that the Southern States left the Union, but what's not so well-remembered by most students is the reason why. Everyone knows it was ultimately "over slavery," but the real crux of the matter is the states traditionally considered Southern, those south of the Mason-Dixon line, realized that if every northern Senator lined up in unified support of a law attacking some facet of the South's economy or way of life, they had the strength in numbers to overturn a presidential veto. In short, they knew that their days were numbered, and that their power to fight back against policies made against them had been removed by the government. They left, not because they wanted to necessarily preserve slavery, but because they knew they didn't stand a chance of getting a fair shake in government. 

I don't even feel I have that.

I guess ultimately that my complaint about America—and my single biggest argument for leaving it—is the sense
of systematic and systemic disenfranchisement. It's not that I don't have a vote. It's not that I can't vote. It's that I
know by force of majority rules that my vote will never mean anything on any reasonable scale. This is not just a matter of the voter's paradox. This is, I hope, a very realistic appraisal of the state of American politics as it stands today and a legitimate extrapolation of what is likely over my lifetime. Culture simply isn't going to shift far enough fast enough to make me feel like I ever have a chance to have a say in American politics. Too many things would have to change for me to feel like I'm close enough to the theoretical "center" to even count on the political map. 

I took the political analysis at Political Compass. Based on their questionnaire, I come in somewhere between Gandhi and the Dalai Lama for politics and moral views. Actually, I come in slightly more to the left of the Dalai Lama, and slightly more to the libertarian of Gandhi. In contrast, Kerry and Bush both fall in the authoritarian/conservative camp, the only difference being a matter of degree. The only other world leader anywhere close to my ideals was Nelson Mandela, and he spent forty years in jail for his views. Gandhi fought British imperialism his entire life. The Dalai Lama's living in exile and is considered persona non grata among many world leaders because supporting him means losing one billion Chinese consumers. With those kinds of role models, is there any surprise that I "hate America"?

So, I suppose the next big question is... what does one do in this kind of situation? Running to Canada's not really an answer. It's an improvement, to be sure, but it's a bandage, a patch, a temporary fix at best. Canada's an improvement over the United States in terms of political and economic center, but it's still not really an improvement. Europe appears to be an improvement over Canada, but there are other factors that serve as a barrier there, such as language, employment, and citizenship. Perhaps the Buddhist Bhutan might serve as an ideal social environment, but the technology barrier there is so limited that I doubt I could ever truly be happy in such a place despite their governmental mandate to increase the Gross Domestic Happiness of their citizenry.

Where do you go when there's no place on Earth for "your kind"?

The facile answer of "make a place" seems to be about the only real solution. Lunar colonies and breakaway
warrens aside, let this be a declaration of intent. I want to build a place, maybe not a nation, maybe not a state, maybe not even a town, but a place on some scale and some magnitude, that's made for "our kind". I want a Home, a 
sanctum sanctorum that legalises pot and outlaws Sunday school. I want a twenty-year plan among my friends and family to converge on some place, be it Ontario, Vermont, Maine, the Mariana Trench or Mare Sagitarius, and reshape it into the world we believe we should have. Let's quit talking about wouldn't it be nice and maybe one day they'll let us and get on with the real and fundamental task of worldbuilding.

Get yourself out of debt. Put aside some money for relocation. Buy a motor home. Find a way to telecommute or make yourself employable in any market. Figure out how many people you're willing and able to carry and negotiate with them for coverage while we remake our small garden. Start looking at real estate. Prepare for war.

Someday we'll live among the stars, maybe own a Ranch On Mars. 


On 2004-12-19, I bought a house. Technically speaking, the house is my house, not "Jessie's and my house," because of the fear that her name on the paperwork would hurt the chances of getting approved financing and the
like. Now she's got a fairly good credit history thanks to our joint accounts and the fact that I seem to have mostly dug myself out of the Black Pit of Debt with only a third of my owings going to unsecured holes. None of that is really relevant, save the fact that we have an actual house-house instead of an apartment or cave-dwelling or other stuff-keeping-place that belongs to a third party.

Our house has a garage. It's kind of a manky, tinky outbuilding, with a broken outhouse, rotting support beams and crumbling shingle-siding. The previous owners had started to put up new vinyl siding, but they'd abandoned
the effort pretty early into the game, with two-thirds of one of four walls finished and the rest ignored. It looked... bad. There really isn't any other way to say it. It was tacky and cheap, and I wasn't happy about it, but I never went back there because I was renting the garage to Aly and Aly didn't care how it looked as long as it gave her a place to work on her Firebird, toke and listen to Howard Stern.

I think she did more of the last two than of the first.

At any rate, the garage for the house has never been up to code since we bought it. The appraiser looked down his nose at this little rundown building, and the borough gave us a lot of grief over it during the purchase process, but ultimately it worked out that the previous owners would agree to finish siding the house within ninety days of the purchase, since they couldn't legally sell the house with the garage in its current condition anyway. Jessie and I both thought at the time that that was an acceptable answer, and we signed off on it when we claimed the keys and the mortgage.

The previous owners contacted me exactly once over the next ninety days after that. Perhaps twice. I remember one call to arrange a time to meet to learn about our new coal furnace, and I know at some point there was a discussion about when the siding on the garage would be finished, with the ex-owner saying he was going to do the work himself and would get to it as soon as the weather was more hospitable, and these conversations may have been on the same call but it's possible they were on two different ones. Even if they were, though, that's still only twice that I ever spoke with the people responsible for bringing my new house into code.

I probably should have done more across the intervening time after that to follow up on this and get them to fix the siding, but shortly after that—or is it those?—call(s), the pipes froze, and then there was the major reconstruction, and then The Bad hit, and by that point my focus was on other things entirely.

So, imagine my surprise when last week, I got a letter from the Borough inspector's office, saying that they'd tolerated my eyesore for quite long enough, thank you very much, and that I had thirty days to fix it, get rid of
it, or get fined. 

Of course, I called them the day after the letter arrived. I did my best to explain to them that it was the previous owners who were legally and financially responsible for the problem, as they could not have legally sold the house to me without an agreement to fix it, and in fact I had that in writing in my sale contract. The city inspector said he sympathized, but he also pointed out that I was the owner of the outbuilding in question, and that it was my responsibility to follow up my own business contracts and enforce them, not theirs. If I thought in thirty days I could cajole, beg, bargain or intimidate the previous owners into fixing the garage like they were supposed to have done by beginning of March 2004, he'd be more than willing to drop the entire matter. Otherwise, he said, it was my problem.

I hate it when other people make sense.

A day or two later, I found a contractor who could take on the job of "dealing with my outbuilding" on such short notice, and he agreed to come out and inspect it to give me a free estimate on either repairing it or hauling it away. He showed up, studied the little ramshackle shack for half an hour, pointed out all the things he thought he'd need to do to it to make it functional again, and gave me a number. 

I twitched and said, "I've got five thousand in the bank, and I'm in no financial shape to go over that; that's my entire safety net." While the statement is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, it's not much of one. I maybe have another five-hundred beyond that but that's getting into the financial Red Zone. Remember the X-Men video game in the arcade, and how when your hit points got low enough you could use your special attack without it hurting you? Ever play City of Heroes? This is Financial Defiance, people.

He chuckled, said, "I never leave anybody broke," and agreed to do the whole job for four-thousand.

He spotted Aly's Firebird in the garage and said I'd have to move it before he could get started; it'd be in the way. I told him I didn't have the legal ground to do so and explained the whole convoluted mess involved in this
piece of the Vixapede Legacy. He looked at his son, shrugged, and said he had four guys and a truck, and the car'd be "handled" as part of the job.

I don't know if he threw that in there to clinch the deal, but it worked.

Last night, I gave them a check for the repair work, which they took off to Magical Bank Land to convert it from a worthless piece of paper into a lot of not-so-worthless pieces of paper, or perhaps some very valuable ones and zeroes in a computer system somewhere. I think this guy is the pieces-of-paper sort of guy, though. That's fine, too. All I know is that pretty soon here, a lot of my valuable ones and zeroes—mostly the ones—are going to go away to cover this conversion cost.

The practical upshot of all of this is manifold:

  • After next week, I should have a practical, useful, pretty garage again that looks like it belongs on my lot, not as part of a set for the re-enactment of a post-apocalyptic suburban warfare movie. I'll sort of miss
    the look, but not really.
  • Jessie and I are likely going to have to cancel our planned trip to visit her parents in Shreveport in November. This one's not guaranteed, but it's pretty likely given the state of our financial cushion. Their place isn't big enough for us both to stay on their couch, and they have enough pets that my allergies get hammered after just a few hours, so that means a hotel and a car rental on top of the plane fare which at this point is likely to be over a thousand dollars of trip that we now cannot afford. I'm not giving up on
    it, but I'm not counting on it either. 
  • Further Confusion is off for both of us. Don't bother asking. If some financially-independent party has two-thousand dollars to throw at a couple of Universe-A refugees to attend church for four days, let us know, otherwise we'll be here in Philly when the opening ceremonies commence.
  • Megaplex may happen as a substitute con, but this one's stretching it. I won't have fully rebuilt our buffer by that point, and to be blunt it's in Florida for Dobbs' sake. Getting Jessie south of the Mason-Dixon Line once was hard enough; I don't think I could manage it again without, like, cookies the size of dinosaurs.

I checked with a debt collection agency about getting the money back, and they sent me to an attorney. I checked with an attorney about getting the money back, and they said it was two-hundred dollars per hour to pursue it as a case, meaning it's not cost-effective if it takes more than three days of wrangling to try to get blood from these turnips. 

Maybe I'll find the previous owners' new contact information in the paperwork for the settlement, call them and get profuse apologies and a check for costs plus heartache. Maybe I'll strike oil in my backyard, too.

Four steps forward, three steps back. 


A few pieces of news, some good, some bad, some weird.

Last week I had my first dental visit in over five years. As I had mentioned before, a part of one of my teeth broke off in my mouth the other day and it really scared me. I did a fairly good job of not showing it, but I was quite panicked over the whole thing, and I had repeated visions of sitting down in the chair and having the
dentist declare that they'd all have to go, or worse. Dreams of surgery weren't uncommon over the last few weeks.

The hygieniest took one look and said, "Oh, that's just tartar built up into crystals on your teeth; that will all come off under the water drill. A shard of crusted tartar broke off in your mouth, not a fragment of tooth." Sure enough, after about an hour of blasting my teeth, not only could I actually feel every individual tooth in my mouth again, but the discoloration was completely gone.

The dentist told me during the cursory check-up following the cleaning that I had better teeth than I had any right to possess given the way I'd abused them. Those weren't his exact words, but that was the general sentiment

The scare had some impact on me. Nothing earth-shattering; I'm still not brushing-and-flossing three times a day, but I bought a sonic toothbrush, a new roll of floss and some Listerine. I hate using brand-names when there's a
generic available, but in this instance I had specific orders from a medical professional to buy a given product, so I followed them. Hindsight being what it is, this may well have been a product-placement request for all I know,
but down that road lies visions of the corporatization of daily life to an extent that I really just don't want to consider because it would make me break out in hives.

I figure at some point the same kind of scare will happen with my weight and my dilation, but I don't know what it will take. I've put on ten pounds since I dropped off the low-carb diet, I'm back to sneaking snacks and other
less-savory habits. My brain
knows that these behaviors are self-destructive, and yet they don't stop. There is something wrong with me and I have not in thirty years figured out what it is.

I remember a time when I had successfully dropped over a hundred pounds and I could tell people, "all it takes is willpower." I can now safely say that that statement is a load of bullshit. If willpower were all it took, this would have stopped long ago. All of it. 

Friday night, I engaged in a bout of excessive drinking for fun and profit. More fun than profit, really. Actually, I did it because last week at work felt like it sucked, and in hindsight it wasn't too bad, but as my mother loves to quote from the Scarlet Pimpernel, "there's nothing in the world something that's quite so bad as that which is not so bad."

Bitching about work will not fix the problems. Finding a better company will only possibly fix the problems. I suspect that many of my current issues are endemic to large companies in general, most of them relating to manager-employee and employee-employee relationships and the nature of how to measure qualitative work.

A lot of it also has to do with the fact that I'm the only one in my department required to fill out weekly status reports and show up at a specific hour every day because my coworkers are warehouse types that don't understand a lick about information technology. Most of them don't even understand what an on-call is or what to do with one. Last week something broke at 07h00 and nobody said anything to anyone until I arrived at 08h15, and then everyone got mad at me because they were down for over an hour.

That was precisely the sort of event that I predicted when they said that I couldn't push my hours back to help cover the second shift that just started. At some point, either they're going to learn to use the on-call number, in
which case it shouldn't really matter when I'm in the office; or they'll require someone to be in the office during any possible work hour to cover all the potential problems that could occur with the system, in which case I push for being the second-shift operative and I get what I want anyway. For now, I'm stuck in the limbo between these two conditions, waiting for them to piss or get off the pot.

Anyway, drunk. My drink of choice these days is the Bourbon and Seven-Up, a mixer I learned from my father. Between that and my love of Cabernet Sauvignon, I think he warped my tastes in alcohol for all time. At least I'm
not drinking Mad Dog and Thunderbird like my mother. 

I don't usually drink for the purpose of getting drunk; there's always a hidden agenda to it. As stated, this time's open purpose was to mentally shut down for a few hours in response to the crap piling up at work, but it had an
unexpected side effect as well. In the depths of my stupor, I first dictated several paragraphs of rant in character-voice to Shay, and then I had a rather deep outpouring of emotion to Jessie on the nature of an intarweb conflict that occured a few weeks ago. The latter was shocking to me, mostly because even the morning after I remembered it with fairly strong clarity.

I know in the past I have appeared to many people to be a callous, heartless bitch. In some senses, this is true. I don't go out of my way to pander to the emotional needs of the general populace, and in fact I can be quite cruel
at times, especially towards those about whom I have do direct caring. I draw a very sharp line internally between "us" and "them", and I can be merciless to "them" if I feel "us" is under any sort of attack.

This is not because I enjoy the negativity. This is not because I like being mean or spiteful or hurtful. This is because ultimately I have a capacity to feel that runs far deeper than does my capacity to actually implement change in the world.

I am tired. I am bitter and sore and weary. I want to make the world a better place, and I feel like I am directly competing with people in the Internet-B camp—the Something Awful, Portal of Evil and like-minded crowds—for market share, and there's no way to compete with that kind of spectacle. Worse, I'm also competing with the Universe-B mentality—the Focus on the Family and 700 Club and Family Research Council and Westboro Family Church types—who proclaim that theirs is the One True Way and that anyone who disagrees is destined to rot forever.

Mathematically and philosophically, an axiom is a statement that must be assumed true as the underpinning of a framework within which the rules of logic apply. No axiom can be proven true; they can only be assumed. They are, if you will, the articles of faith on which we all rest our further statements of belief. The existence of God is a common axiom. The accuracy of the scientific model is another.

In TDB, the axiom is described as a statement which cannot tolerate its opposite. It is a statement that cannot at the same time be true while its negative is true as well. There can never be A and not-A within the same system. If there is, then there is an error in understanding A, not-A, or their relationship. It may be that either axiom is wrong. It may be that they both are. It may be that they aren't opposites as previously thought, or that some sort of Hegelian synthesis is necessary to reconcile the two positions. However, something about one of those ideas must be incorrect, either in the statement itself or in the understanding of it; it and its counterpart cannot both be true at the same time. 

I believe—as axiomatic—that a tolerant society cannot itself be tolerant of intolerance. That is, if we wish to say we are an open-minded and fair-thinking people, we must reject as false any viewpoint that itself dictates that is the only right answer. This sounds paradoxical, but I think it's the only way to reconcile the contradictory views of multiculturalism and monoculture. Far too often, I hear monoculturists use the ideals of multiculturalism against those who would follow them, on the order of "you must by your own ideals grant me the right to believe what I wish, and I believe that I'm right and you're wrong, so you must believe that I'm right!"

Being able to say, "No, I am only tolerant of those ideals that are themselves tolerant of other ideals" is a way out of that trap.

So, what's the point of all of this? Masturbatory self-exploration aside, it means that yes, I do support a wide variety of views and I believe that there are an endless number of ways to achieve happiness and salvation and truth and love, but I reject outright any viewpoint that starts with "but can't you see that you're just wrong?" It means that I don't feel guilty in the slightest for ignoring people who feel that my way is the wrong way without bothering to try to explain to me what it is that I'm doing wrong. It means that I'm willing to entertain any notion of how to do things right, as long as there's a rationale that makes sense, but that I'm not just going to assume that my way is wrong just because somebody else is right. 

There is no blueprint to salvation. There is no roadmap to happiness. There is no twelve-step program for becoming a better person. Rather, there are a million, billion programs, each with a million, billion steps; and they are all right for some and wrong for others. Anyone saying that there is only one right way to do anything must be, by definition, wrong, and there is nothing contradictory in rejecting those viewpoints out of hand, because they
themselves reject other viewpoints out of hand, and intellectual cauterization is necessary to prevent the spread of philosophical gangrene. Yes, we're hacking off this monocultural limb, but we're doing it to save the
postmodern body.

All of this is, of course, my own perception.

This, ultimately, is why I seem cruel or callous. It isn't that I don't care. It's that I have had to cut off large chunks of humanity at large to preserve my own sanity and my own worldview. It's that the vast majority of people I meet have views that I find incompatible with my own except in specific singular overlapping instances. It's that I know I cannot fix the world's problems, and so I have narrowed the scope of my focus to that subsection of
the world whose problems I
can fix.

None of the people I have willingly removed from my world are bad people. None of them. Not Lurene, not Mitchell, not Andy, not President Bush, not Yeshua ben Yosef. In a universe in which I had limitless energy and patience, I would gladly and willingly continue to interact with them, offering love and caring and tenderness and what little wisdom I felt I had acquired in my time on this mudball, even in the face of such pointed opposition and even direct contradiction to my own worldview.

However, I am not possessed of infinite capacity, nor of infinite time. I have only so many resources to accomplish the tasks I have set for myself, and spending time trying to convert the masses to my view, or to get them to leave me alone, takes away from that already-limited pool and leaves me less to pursue my goals. If my choice is between trying to explain for the thousandth time why I think "lol what" isn't funny or why "you suck fag" isn't a valid debate tactic, and telling someone "I don't have time for this" and then working on my novel or a short story or even relaxing playing a game with Jessie and increasing our mutual happiness... the choice should be obvious.

Of course, if I think by pursuing someone and laying on with the Big Black Boot of Great Justice will make somebody's oily chitinous carapace crack and give me the chance to administer some Key 23, then I'm going to do it, if only because it means fewer resources spent in the future trying to get that person out of my face on other issues. It's worked a few times. Not many, to be sure, but often enough that I do still engage in such things when I feel I can spare the energy. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

Sometimes, I try, and it doesn't work, and that's really the worst time of all. That's what happened with Ilthuain, and I feel bad for it. Bad that I wasted my time, bad that it didn't work, bad that I blew what might have been
my one chance to explain myself and make things better.

How can I carry you, when I can barely walk myself? 

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