So, we're back.

Anybody still here probably has by now noticed that the old site is gone, or at least down. That's partially rue. The short answer is... oh, hell, I don't really have a short answer on this one. When I acquired "menagerie.tf" in 1999, AdamsNames was the company tasked with managing the TLD for the French government. Less than a year later, AdamsNames announced that they were going to be giving up the domain back to the French government for whatever reason, but nobody panic, everyone can still manage their domain for free in the meantime. So, at the time it looked like I had a free domain, so I kept it. Then AdamsNames stopped saying they controlled the .tf TLD, announcing that the French government was now holding it and would be making some policy decisions about it "soon". I couldn't make any changes to the domain any more, but by then I was in the house in Pottstown and everything was good.

Then we moved. More on that in a minute, but the important thing is that the old internet access went away, and new internet access happened at the far end. New company, new IP address. So, I went to find out what happened to the .tf TLD, and I found out that in October of 2004, the French government had generously given the TLD to a company called AFNIC, who announced at the time that they had were putting a freeze on the TLD until they could release some new policies surrounding its occupancy and use "in the coming months".

That was two years ago. They're still working on it.

I sent several letters, or perhaps I should say plusiers de lettres to AFNIC's customer service group trying to get the matter resolved, but after the third time they politely told me non, I gave up. So, to those of you who had e-mail addresses on menagerie.tf, I hate to tell you this, but that address is just... gone. I've pretty much exhausted my options for getting it back, and the people who have the power to restore it to me have flatly said that they're not making any changes at all to the domain entries until they get their policies set. After two years, I have no faith that they're going to get to it any time soon. I could be wrong. I would love to be wrong. I'd be perfectly happy being wrong this time.

In the meantime, we've got some new homes.

For now, the new sites look remarkably like the old one. This will change. I have plans. Big plans. Well, "buni big" plans. Big enough. I'll get to 'em "soon".

We're in Seattle now.

The cross-country drive was an experience I'll not soon forget. I hope I never do, of course, but the vagarities of time and memory ensure that at least some things will fade as the weeks stretch into months and years. A friend of mine once said that memories faded to make room for new ones. Or maybe I just think he said that. It sounds like something he would say, at any rate. Apologies if somebody else did say it and I misattributed it. No apologies if nobody said it and I just gave it away to someone else. I don't need any more profundity for now.

I don't know at this point what I could say about the trip that would really make sense to anyone who hadn't been there. The factual events of the drive itself has been recorded in some detail. The emotional experiences that the trip engendered could not really be communicated without an attempt to recreate the experience, or perhaps access to a cerebrochord and some decent authoring software. I'm not the virtuoso I pretended to be, but I'm willing to learn. All I can say is that in many ways the trip itself and the surrounding events pushed me very far outside my normal comfort zone, and I got to experience a lot of emotional extremes as a result that I might not have had the chance to feel otherwise.

I'm glad in one way that it all happened, but I hope that certain aspects of it never have to happen again.

The rest of the move... is best left forgotten, really. Bad things happened. Emotions flared. Voices and tempers were raised. We spent an extra five or six days in various hotels. In the end, our belongings arrived, and we're fairly certain nothing broke during the move that we weren't sort of expecting to lose. A few dishes and a few bottles of liquid didn't survive, staining a few other boxes an interesting off-red color and leaving glass fragments in our cookware, but nothing broke that we couldn't replace. The important things survived reasonably intact. At this point, I'm honestly thinking it's best if we forget it all. Let the ravages of history claim these dark times, and leave me the happier for their passing.

Seattle is beautiful. I really don't have any better way to put it. Seattle is beautiful. I think, for once, something has lived up to my internal hype.

Two days this week, I biked to work. I didn't Wednesday or Thursday because it was raining and I don't yet have decent gear for riding in active rain, and this morning I was running late because I was sore from the three-mile walk last night to and from the QFC for supplies. Costco's a twenty-minute drive away if we need supplies in bulk, but more often than not I feel better about waiting until the weekend, driving into Seattle proper to go to Pike Place Market and buying local fresh produce from one of the vendor stalls there. The market also has a couple of butchers, a dairy, an Asian market, two or three bakeries, and four coffee shops, of which one is Starbucks #1 if I feel like venerating at the shrine. While I'm there I can grab a coffee and watch the trawlers and boats on the sound and gaze into the fog. There's a family-owned teriyaki place on practically every street corner, and there's a small java shack selling coffee out of a plywood box every five-hundred feet.

The Seattle skyline has trees in it. Actual green trees, visible in the skyline.

Passing through Snoqualmie Pass on our way here initially felt like coming home. It wasn't just the end of a long trip. It was a return to something. My words fail me here, for I really have no expression for it. I once quoted Robin in saying, "you can just visit, but I plan to stay". That's really how it felt, the emotion of discovering a longing for something one has never seen before. This place has felt inviting to me in a way that Texas never did, that Pennsylvania only managed in some rare situations. Jessie and I knew that Pottstown was never a permanent solution, though we thought it would last longer than it did. I don't think either of us regret it being so short, though.

If anything, we're just hoping the house sells quickly, so that we can buy a new one here. Not another short-term one, though. This time... this time I think it's to stay.

Welcome home.

As an aside, some of you have probably noticed that the ranch hasn't seen an update in two months. I had planned on resuming my tracking in October, but the stress of relocation and then the insanity that followed more or less made that a fool's plan. Now with October mostly gone, it'd be rather pointless to start tracking just yet. Come November 1, I'll be back on track. I have some big ideas for how to revamp the site, too, to broaden its appeal.

Fake it 'til you make it.


Where does time go?
Are there seconds caught in the stitching of my pocket?
Could I pull a minute out of the lint trap of my dryer, looking for that missing sock?
Did I lose an hour under the couch as I sat with you, running my fingers through your hair?
Where does time go?
Last year I was giggling, wide-eyed at the sides of my crib, wondering at the miracle of my own fingers and toes.
Last month I was crying, sitting on the sidewalk, wondering if anyone would ever like me.
Last week I was cringing, daring to reach out into the digital world, looking for others who might feel as I did.
Yesterday I was smiling, watching you step off the bus, waving as you slung a duffel bag over your shoulder.
Where does time go?
Tomorrow we'll be in Seattle, watching the sun rise over Puget Sound.
Next week we'll be in Canada or Iceland or Finland or Thailand, looking up at the sky and wondering what's next.
Next month we'll be in space, staring down at that dirty brown and blue marble, wondering how we ever lived there.
Next year we'll be in bed, gazing into each other's eyes and waiting for the sunset.

Ever since my last post, things have been... insane. There is no better word for it. So, rather than rehash absolutely everything, let me see if I can provide it all in some kind of quick summary, the last month in thirty seconds as performed by... uh... oh, never mind:

  • I got the job in Seattle.
  • The HR department promised me relocation based on the EDC's closure.
  • Management panicked because they hadn't yet designed or budgeted the EDC closure relocation package.
  • They came back with a signing bonus instead, which I accepted.
  • I put my house on the market.
  • My primary CoH character hit the highest level in the game, also known as "dinging fifty".
  • A friend in CoH and I, with the help of some game logs and a few other people, cranked out a good amount of text on said character's condition.
  • Jessie and I have started the process of applying for an apartment in Bothell twenty minutes away from my new office.
  • The moving company arrives a week from either tomorrow or day after to pick up our stuff and take it to the Left Coast.
  • We're planning a five-day roadtrip to get from Pottstown to Bothell. I'm taking a week's vacation with my new manager's approval.
  • Today's my last day in my current position.

I think that's pretty much everything. I could say "nothing else is new," but it would sound trite. Right now, everything is new. I've never sold a house before. I've only ever moved my own stuff once before like this, and I wasn't any better prepared then than I am now. I've never tried to arrange an apartment on such short notice or at such great distance; the last time we moved into an apartment, it was occupied already and we were just adding our tenancy to his, then renting another unit in the same complex. I've been twice to the Seattle area, and I know what some of the parts of it look like, but I've never had the chance for an extended stay, and really I only know what I've read in the picture books and what people tell me. This really is jumping off the high dive and hoping that the water will cushion the fall.

It's scary, and exhilarating, and nervewracking, and wonderful. If Jessie weren't with me, I'd go mad from panic. As it is, I'm only just holding it together, but it's still a beautiful thing.

Hopefully Mike will be up this weekend to help us clean up and pack. Next Monday night will probably be our last big group meal with the local contingent of folks in the area we know: Bennie, Sue, Gideon, Kitana and that crowd. The movers show up either the twenty-third or twenty-fourth to take our boxes to Bothell, hopefully to our new apartment or to a storage facility. Some time next week, Kincaid comes down for a visit to help finish the assembly of our stuff into neat boxes. Sunday week, we start the drive to Seattle. Monday, October second, I start my new job full-time in my new office. Analyst III, Enterprise Monitoring.

I feel like I've just turned my entire life umop-apisdn. I wonder if this is what twenty kilos of TNT feels like when it detonates. It's less sexhurt than a third nostril opening but definitely more gutwrenching than having my life erased or discovering it never existed.

Last day, Year of the City, 2274. Carousel begins. Identify.

As a side note to all of this, the Ranch on Mars isn't dead. I didn't update it last month with new goals because I knew in the crush of everything that's happening, I would fail, and that would be three months in a row that I had planned something and then missed it, and I thought that the smart thing to do would be to simply not put myself into an emotional bind. I'm still totally committed to the project, and starting when I get to Bothell I'll be updating it regularly, as well as expanding on the site, I hope. I have some ideas involving expanding things and changing how I document my progress. Right now I'm changing six or seven pages, and that's kind of ridiculous. I know how I want to streamline the design, but until after we're in Washington, I know I won't have time to do the work, or to concentrate on pushing myself on anything other than moving.

No more talking; time to land.


I think I've just surfed the Luck Plane.

The day after I arrived in Seattle, my manager called me and asked me if I would have time later to talk, and that it was very important. Now, anyone who knows me should know what that kind of statement can do to my heart rate and general feeling of well-being. So, as calmly as I could, I asked him if it were anything bad. He said, "no, not really", but he refused to elaborate further and simply said he'd call me at 14h00 his time and that I should plan to be somewhere private for the call.

The hour that passed after that was pretty much a big bright blur, as I tried to figure out what he could possibly want to tell me that he didn't want to tell my other teammate who was present, and that he couldn't tell me on the first call. I joked with Trell about it being my notice that I was being encouraged to seek other opportunities, but it was in the context of "ha ha only serious".

At the designated hour, my manager called me, and I dutifully sequestered myself by the stairs away from my team, and he informed me that in approximately one hour, the rest of the people at the Eastern Distribution Center in Bensalem, the facility at which I'd been working for the last seventeen months, would be shut down on or by 2006-03-30. The entire
operation was being relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, and outsourced to a firm specializing in logistics and distribution. T-Mobile already had an arrangement like that with another firm, ATCLE, located in Fort Worth, and so this wasn't really a shock for the company, though it was probably surprising for everyone working at the facility.

Actually, it probably can't have been too much of a shock, really. To get into August and not have a lease signed for the following year haed to tell a few people that something wasn't on the level. We still had sprinkler system issues and an ongoing battle with the landlord over who was paying for what. I don't think anyone really got caught too much by surprise by this, though I'm sure a lot of people were disappointed that it turned out this way. Shortly after the public announcement, the general manager of the facility sent everyone home for the day.

At any rate, this announcement took everything that had come before it and threw it all into overdrive. My manager and I had agreed in the past that I really had no promotion path in my current team. The group simply wasn't big enough to support two people at the Team Lead level, and I was as close to that as I could get without being one, and the current team lead wasn't going anywhere any time soon. Add to that that I was on-site and not in a corporate center, to get into another team, I would have to move anyway, so I had already geared myself up for the eventuality that Jessie and I would probably be moving to Seattle some time in... oh, say, 2008 or so.

The announcement that they were closing the EDC meant that I had seven months to find another position in the company or risk being relocated to Atlanta. Nothing against Atlanta, but... I don't think the culture would have been good for either Jessie or I, to say nothing of the weather.

Now, when I initially applied for the position in Enterprise Monitoring, I didn't know that the EDC was closing. I found out after I got to Seattle that this was going to happen. So, suddenly, I had a lot of pressure on myself to do really well at this interview. Before I left, the HR rep with whom I'd spoken had suggested that I could interview on week one and have an answer by week two, and suddenly that sounded like a really good idea. If I was going to get the job, I wanted the peace of mind as soon as I could have it. If I wasn't, I needed to know so I could start looking for alternatives.

I got the job pretty much as soon as I walked in the door.

To be fair, it didn't go quite that quickly. I showed up on-site for the interview, waited for about ten minutes for the hiring manager to come downstairs, and then chatted with him as we returned to his cube. I then had to confirm that I wasn't just fishing for a means out of the EDC and that I had in fact applied for the position before I knew that the EDC was closing. That established, he said that he was very excited to know that I was interested and that he was hoping to be able to convince me to follow through on my expression of interest. We talked a bit about my background, he showed me some of the tools of the trade, he introduced me to some of the people with whom I'd be working if I took the job, and then he sat me back down at his desk and said, "Can I be honest with you? I want to give you an offer letter".

The whole interview took maybe half an hour, and most of that was meeting people.

Now, this is by no means a "done deal" yet. He has to get signoff from my current manager, then he has to go through a complicated process of dumping numbers and information into a spreadsheet that the company providdes to make it easy to determine compensation offers, which will ultimately spit out a single number at him which he will then ignore. He's then got to get me an offer letter and suggest an amount, which may or may not be sufficient to justify relocating to Seattle. It could, in theory, still fall apart at any point up to me signing off on the offer.

I figure the only way I'm not going to sign is if he tells me I have to take a pay cut to move. I don't think that'll be an issue.

He also asked me about timeframes, and I told him that I had a house to sell. He said he understood that, but still wanted to put in for "as soon as possible". My current manager asked me to give him two weeks, but outside of that he said he was fine with whatever timetable I could set. I really can't do anything until I get back to Philadelphia, so that means at least a week-and-a-half from now before I do anything at all.

So... what does all this mean? It means that very likely, in the next few weeks, Jessie and I"at least"will probably be moving to the Seattle area. The job is in Bothell, so we'll look for houses in the area, though we'll probably start with a six-month lease on an apartment and go from there.

Now, why does this count as surfing the Luck Plane? Simply put, timing. You see, originally when I was looking at moving to the area, I told people that I was willing to pay for my own relocation, and I was and am, but I wasn't looking forward to it. It's an expensive proposition. However, because of the closing of the facility, upper management offered, or at least I think they offered, to pay the relocation costs of people who took other positions in the company as part of the employee retention program. This means that, if I wheedle and beg and sweet-talk enough folks, I may get to move on the company dime. The Suits really are pickin' up the bill, or so goes the theory. I won't know for sure until I get back to Philly and ask on Tuesday of the Employee Assistance Program folks that should be on-site to help people transition through this difficult period of readjustment.

Oh, this is going to be so difficult for me. Toolset development. A UNIX desktop at work. A private cubicle. Sure, that last may sound like I'm setting my sights too low, but share an office with my current coworker for a week and you'll understand why this makes me happy.

You can just visit, but I plan to stay.


Last month—at the end of May, really—I started a new project, the Ranch on Mars. The idea was to harness some of the tricks of psychology that I've seen exploited at work to try to make meaningful improvements in my own life. With the first month of tracking progress behind me, I think it's a good time to evaluate not only my progress, but the means of measuring them. I learned a few things about my own brain, which I can hardly say is a bad thing.

First, the good news. I was able to successfully complete two of my four goals for the month, and in both cases by better than an expected margin. With the regular introduction of money into my various savings accounts, I saw a good increase in our financial cushion in case of disaster. A two-hundred dollar deposit into my stock account combined with the dividends of the last quarter to make enough of a cash sum on hand to make a stock purchase that would keep my commission rate under three percent, which is pretty good. Two percent or less would be optimal, but that's going to take larger sums than I can currently drop. Getting to work early means that, at least in theory, I get out of work early. This has helped me spend less time on the road because now I'm no longer stuck in rush hour traffic as often or as long. That's definitely had a positive impact on my quality of life, especially with summer heat. On the whole, I think I did really well on the goals that I completed.

Now, the downside. My weight actually went up month-to-month, and I made absolutely no headway at all on my novel this month. These are both disappointing, but I'm trying not to be too bummed about them. It means I didn't earn the DSLite I'd been wanting, but oddly I don't feel that I'm denying myself something or living the ascetic's life. Did it mean I didn't want one badly enough? I don't think so. The weight difference in my purse alone will be an improvement, and I admit some amount of wanting the cool toy that my wife has. So, what happened to keep me from achieving these when the other two came so easily?

As far as the writing goes, I really do think that City of Heroes takes a large part of the blame for this. It's very easy to simply come home and slump in a chair and zone out in front of a game, doubly so when one has had a really shitty day at work, and I've had a lot of shitty days this last month. My team lead was out of pocket a good part of the month because of personal issues—a death in the family on top of scheduled vacation—and so I've had to step up unexpectedly and serve as head of projects that I had expected someone else to be managing. This has meant that, despite getting into the office at 08h00 or even 07h45 on some mornings, I didn't get to leave work until 17h00 or later. In one case, I was still at work as late as 19h30. This had a huge negative impact on my desire to do anything other than lump when I got home in the evenings, and City of Heroes is just interactive enough to make me feel like I'm being at least mildly creative even if all I'm doing is spinning my gears.

This isn't to say I did nothing creative last month. I've been working on what could really best be classified as "fan fiction", even though the characters are my own creation. They just happen to be set in the City of Heroes setting, and thus are utterly non-publishable unless I feel like going back and ripping large chunks of history apart. They're also mostly collaborations, which mean that I don't have sole ownership of any of the works. It's creativity, but it's not progress on my novel, which is what I really hoped to achieve. Still, it's been good to at least keep writing, even if it's not writing that furthers my goal of being published.

Finally on the creative front, Jessie made an observation that I think bears further exploration. I do most of my creative writing when I'm not at home. I'd never noticed this before, but I think she's onto something here. In the past, most of my short works happened when I was in the computer lab on campus. The biggest chunks of Child of Man appeared when I was on trips of one sort or another. I added half a chapter and four-thousand words across previous parts over Anthrocon. I had actually set the goal of finishing chapter twelve anticipating a trip to Seattle last month, and then the trip was delayed. This actually did throw my plans for creative writing for a bit of a loop. The trip's been rescheduled for next month, which should give me some time to actually work on my novel in peace, but it will also give me the chance to get some other bits of writing done that I've been delaying. This also makes me wonder, though, if it wouldn't be beneficial to plan to take regular evenings out to a coffee shop or some other home-away-from-home with my laptop to give myself the chance to work on stories. Maybe even a weekend trip out to a motel somewhere on the interstate just to write might benefit me.

As far as the weight goes, there are so many things I could blame here that it would sound not like a reasoned discussion but instead a laundry list of excuses. This said, however, I think I know what the largest factor of my failure here was. There is no direct correlation between what I eat and what I weigh. Now, that sounds like an absolute load of bulldada, and it is, but within it lies the key to the answer. Consider the following scenario:

  • Day one, morning: I weigh myself and my weight is X.
  • Day one, afternoon, I eat something unhealthy.
  • Day two, morning, I weigh myself and my weight is X-n.
  • Day two, all day, I eat reasonably and moderately.
  • Day three, morning, I weigh myself and my weight is X again.

This happens more often than I think anyone really realizes, and it's not exactly rocket science. Many things have an impact on day-to-day weight, not the least of which is how much fluid I've had to drink. A gallon as compared to a half-gallon of diet tea at work could easily make up the difference in those numbers. So could sweating out a lot of water, or a second bowl of curry, or skipping the toast in favor of the bagel. Whatever. The point is not the specifics, but rather the psychological impact of these events. Eating something bad didn't hurt me, because my weight dropped. Eating well didn't help me, because my weight rose. This sends all kinds of mixed signals that reinforce bad behaviors and punish good ones, and that's a surefire way to undermine positive performance.

So, what's the solution? The scale is the only measuring tool I have, and its accuracy as a measuring device is suspect. Then again... is it the only tool? I do have another means of measuring weight impact: intake. Specifically, calorie load. Does this mean I'm going to be counting calories? In a word, yes. Why? Because it's more reliable than the scale. The scale makes a good trailing indicator. Does the moving average say I'm going down in weight? Then I'm eating right. Does it say I'm going up? Then I need to re-evaluate what I'm eating. The food, though, is a pretty good leading indicator. If I eat that ice cream bar, I'm going to need fat jeans. If I skip that second bowl of rice, I may fit into the top I've owned for six months that I can't wear without feeling ugly despite the pretty color.

This next month is going to suck. However, hopefully it will pay off in the long run.

As a side note, I'm not blind to the effects of exercise on weight and health, but after my trike got stolen, I took a real hit in morale. Getting out and walking, especially in the summer, is just no fun. The trike was fun, and that got removed through no fault of my own other than perhaps not keeping it under a laser cage. I had two DDR pads, one mine and one Kitana's on extended loan, but one got broken at Anthrocon and the other is so close to falling apart that it's not really reliable any more, and bad feedback is more frustrating than no feedback at all. I've rearranged the furniture in the living room to provide space for a replacement pad once I buy it, but I do have to buy it first. Jessie and I have talked about getting exercise bikes to ride together, but we'd have to find a good place to put them. I could walk around the warehouse during the day, but that's hotter than doing it outside, and the overhead fans just stir up the hot air and make breathing a privilege instead of a right.

So, in recap:

  • I didn't achieve my goals in July by a large enough margin to justify buying the DSLite for myself.
  • I have a pretty good idea why I didn't achieve the two I missed.
  • I have my goals for August based on what I learned in July.

I still feel a bit like a perfect damn fool putting myself through this, but at the same time, I think it's helped me, even if just a little bit. I saved two hundred dollars I wouldn't have otherwise. I'm getting to work at 08h00 without a struggle, and I'm setting my sights on 07h45 and thinking "Hey, I can maybe even push myself back to 07h00 one day!" I'm feeling more focused on my weight issues than I ever have during the whole time I was on Atkins/low-carb/whatever. I don't feel like my novel is some far-off one-day thing any more. I'm making progress, a step at a time.

A true initiation never ends.

In other news, as hinted above, I'm going to be going on a business trip next week. Seattle—Bellevue, specifically—this time, for two weeks. I leave Monday morning, and I return Friday a week later. That's eleven days in the PacNorWest. Anyone reading this who'll be around during that time, please let me know. I'd love the chance to find out who my potential neighbors are.

That's right. Potential neighbors. My stated purpose for the trip to Seattle is training at the hands of somebody who has a decade of experience in our primary software package, but I do have an ulterior motive for going. Last week, I applied for a position in the Enterprise Monitoring group in the Bothell office. My manager knows and supports the transition, as does the person with whom I'll be training. Everyone that I've told so far has been positive about it. Now I can but hope that the hiring manager is as supportive.

This wasn't the way this was supposed to happen. I really hadn't planned on looking for work in Seattle until 2008 or so. I'd figured I'd get one of my two mortgages paid in full, rack up some living capital under my belt, apply for a position, and make a nice leisurly transition from one coast to the other. I had a few years yet in Pottstown to get some sense of stability in my life. I really did think that this is how things woul dhappen, and I planned accordingly.

Then I came in contact with the event horizon of the Luck Plane.

As fate would have it, a friend of mine is looking for work. Knowing he has a degree in psychology, I suggested he apply for one of the many open manager positions at the distribution center. He asked me for a requisition number—the unique ID given to the position itself so that applications can be tracked more easily—and when I went into the company jobs website, I happened to notice an open position for my same analyst grade in a team that does work interesting to me in a location to which I've said I wanted to go. So, after a quick consultation with Jessie, I put in an application. I didn't really go looking for this opening so much as I found it, as one might find a dollar bill on the sidewalk, or a cake.

On Friday, my manager presented me with the name of the recruiter for the position, and that afternoon I called her. When I told her that I had applied, and that I'd be in Seattle for training in a week, she said that it would probably be a great chance for me to interview, and that if things went really well, I could have an answer on whether or not I got the job before I left for Pottstown again. On the whole, she sounded really positive, though she did warn me that T-Mobile doesn't pay to relocate people in the COS team. That means I'd have to pay for my own move, but I told her that I was fine with that. She wished me luck in my application process and said she'd see what she could do to escalate the timetable for my interview so that I could plan on taking care of that while I was already there.

I'm in what feels a bit like uncharted territory here. The plans I had made are now potentially in total disarray. I've never tried to sell a house before. I've moved cross-country, but I had a place I knew I was staying when I arrived. I don't know what kind of timetables exist or are proper to request to get all of these details resolved. I haven't even gotten the job and I'm worrying about what to do if I get it. I've had serioua stomach-twitches all weekend over it.

On the other hand, of course, is the fact that even if this had waited until 2008, I probably would still be going through all of these sensations. Doubtless I would not have gone looking for answers until I needed them, and even now I may not. If I don't get the job, nothing has changed. If I do get it, it's something I've said I wanted, and I really do think the move is for the best. Pennsylvania is nice, but the weather here is still horribly unpleasant during the summer, as our current hundred-degree heatwave will demonstrate. The neighborhood in general is not a good area in which to live. The culture in Seattle, so I have heard, is far more like what I think Jessie and I are seeking as far as standing community. If nothing else, the job opportunities within T-Mobile are better at the corporate headquarters than they could ever hope to be at the warehouse. I want very much to believe this is a move in the right direction.

Do I sound like I'm trying to convince myself? I am, sort of. When I felt like I had no chance to get out of my current situation, I've said repeatedly that I wanted to get into a corporate environment again. Now that I'm facing the chance to get it, I'm suddenly unsure. I don't think this is a change in what I want, or in what I think I want, as much as it's a case of cold feet. I'm no longer standing on the side of the pool, looking up at the high dive and saying I wish I could do a back flip. I'm now standing on the diving board looking down at the water and realizing what a long drop it really is. If I climb back down, I'll still want it just as much, and I'll have added to it the "shame" of having run from it, but that doesn't make it any less nervewracking.

Still, for now the best approach is Zen. The interview hasn't happened yet. The interview may not happen this trip. I may not know anything soon. Until it happens, guessing about the future is needless anxiety. Relax and enjoy.

Tomorrow does not exist. Twenty tomorrows is a long time.


Some time between Saturday afternoon when I showed off my recumbent trike to Chris and Jaded, and last night when my housemate Erin took the trash to the back of the garage, some clever wag or wags came into my back yard with a couple of implements, tried to break the high-impact plastic of my Kryptonite coated-braid chain lock, successfully cut through the plastic and steel of the chain itself, opened the gate from the inside, and stole my new Sun EZ-3 USX.

I called Bikesport, the shop from which I had acquired it, and they confirmed a purchase date of June 7. I'd had it less than a month.

As much as a part of my brain is tempted at this point to start saying "him name is Eezy-Three Trike ps who took my trike I'll find my trike", I'm really not in the mood for levity. My home, or at least some part of it, has been violated. My property has been taken. My hutch has somebody else's smell in it.

This was neither a random incident nor an accident. The trike wasn't visible from the street. People have seen me riding it around the neighborhood and a few did ask me how much it cost, so some folks had to know it was worth something. Whoever came into the yard stopped with the trike; they didn't try to get into the house. Somebody knew where it was and where to look for it. That probably means whoever took it lives locally.

I'm angry. I'm angry at a lot of things. I'm angry at the people who thought this was acceptable behavior in any context. I'm angry at those people's parents for not having taught them better. I'm angry at myself for buying a twenty-dollar lock to secure a thousand-dollar vehicle. I'm angry at the borough for being the kind of place in which I had to have a lock on my trike in my own back yard.

I've already called the police and filed an incident report, and I've called the insurance company and filed a claim on my homeowners' insurance. Today's a holiday and I'm not going anywhere if I can avoid it but tomorrow I can get a copy of my receipt to attach to both reports. With any luck, not only will the police locate the old one but the insurance company will reimburse me for the loss and I'll end up with two. Then I can get one sized for Jessie and we can go riding together.

What gets to me about this whole affair is that whoever took it is quickly going to discover that it's not sized to be ridden by anyone under my height; their legs won't reach the pedals. They're not going to be able to get any personal use out of it. In all likelihood, somebody who knew it was worth something stole it to sell it, but how likely is it that someone could sell that and not have it be noticed?

I don't think anyone took my trike to have it. I don't even think someone took it to sell it. I think someone took it to keep me from having it. Yes, I know that sounds paranoid, but given the petty vandalism that's already happened against the house and the cars of the people who've lived here, I wouldn't put it past some of the kids around here to do that.

This is exactly the sort of behavior that really makes me doubt folks who tell me that human beings are inherently good-natured. It's also the sort of thing that suggests to me that maybe it's time to look at moving closer to my job and writing off Pottstown and the surrounding area.

I've also adjusted my goals for the month of August; I don't think I'll have my trike back by then.

Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover.


First, thanks to Balinares for poking me. It's been a long time since I've put anything in here, and while I can understand going a few days or even a few weeks between updates, this is bordering on the absurd. One might think that I'd be a little more cognizant of the fact that people can't read what hasn't been written, but that among other things is part of my problem.

First off, Anthrocon. Nothing much to say there, really. By now, anything I could say about the experience in general has been handled by someone else, so I'll narrow it down to my own area. The writing track this year boasted more panels than we had in any year previous, and next year we hope to take over the whole pocket program expand again. Instead of generic writing panel, my goal is to break things down into a larger number of narrowly-defined areas of interest. "How to write porn", "how to write character descriptions", and "how to write dialogue" are some of the proposed topics, and I believe I already have panelists ready to handle these. The annual Eye of Argon reading went off with only a few headsplosions, and the Iron Author submissions were as painful as ever. Kudos to the one who wrote a quarter of his dialogue in barks, yaps, yips and growls. More pain for next year.

Now, outside Anthrocon... why so silent? That's a hard question to answer. Truth is, I don't have a good reason. I've said it before, though, and it seems to bear repetition: I get too busy living life to talk about it. I've noticed that my post rate goes up when extraordinary events happen, but very little of late has seemed unusual, either good or bad. I have off days. I have on days. On the whole, my life goes well. I love my wife, I enjoy my housemates, I don't hate my job, I spend time with my friends. I feel a bit like the "average white suburbanite slob" from Denis Leary's famous song.

The person depicted in that song, incidentally, is exactly the wrong kind of person for me. In fact, that song stands for pretty much everything I think is wrong with America. That level of smug self-assurance and willingness to deliberately provoke schadenfreude drives me batshit insane when other people do it. It's what I like to call "internet-β" behavior. This is not to be confused with Universe β, though the two are related.

Back on the subject"one of many subjects"I've become somewhat complacent. I've paid off my debts. My mortgage is on autopay. My job isn't under any real risk, and at this point I feel like I've picked up enough skills that even if it does, I can pick up a new one reasonably easily. Really, I'm living a large part of my life on autopilot these days, simply because I've progressed to the point that I can. That's a heck of an achievement, in one fashion. I don't have to micromanage my day-to-day existence just to get by. I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay for my next meal, my next mortgage payment, my next vacation. I'm one platform higher on the spiral staircase, worrying about whether to buy this new game or that one, whether I go to Further Confusion or save up for MegaPlex. I can choose whether to put money into savings accounts or the stock market. For lack of a better term, I'm set.

Therein lies the problem. I feel in some tiny way like I've stopped growing. I've stopped advancing. I've stopped moving towards other long-term goals, goals of getting out of the daily grind, of having a figure that I wouldn't mind showing off, or being able to extend my umbrella over others. I'm good, but in achieving good I've stopped looking for great.

So, it's time to do something.

If this seems like a cheap gimmick... it is. Strangely, what I'm finding at least at work is that it works. Small goals, over time, build up into larger projects. Short-term tasks linked to obvious and immediate gratification lead to a renewed dedication to complete those tasks. The bonus program at T-Mobile is structured around this idea, and as Pavlovian as it feels at times, I recognize its efficacy at least on my brain. I find myself saying, "I should get this done so I'll earn my bonus" and not hating it, because there's a direct link between an action and a reward. There's a stick, to be sure. Not participating in the "bonus program" can lead to performance warnings, but the way it's phrased as a carrot, enticing people with rewards, tricks the human brain into positive feedback.

Thus, I'm going to see if applying this to my own projects will help me complete them. This month—that is, the month of July—I have five goals: weight, increased time on my new trike, early arrival at work, complete another chapter of my novel, and add some extra money to my savings accounts. If I can achieve all of those, I'll buy myself a new DSLite. If I can't, I don't. I don't need one. I have a perfectly functional DS. I want one, and that's what makes this trick effective. I'm not denying myself something I need, but I'm indulging myself in a minor "goodie" and directly tying its acquisition to performance-based goals. I'll see if this makes me feel like I'm doing myself a mental disservice or if I come through it feeling like I did a good thing.

Branching to Iwego for a moment, I took the name for the project—Ranch on Mars—from a song by the Galactic Cowboys, a band that I happened to hear once in concert opening for Dream Theater in high school. Enamored of both groups, I bought their albums, and fell utterly in love with the latter while only being passingly interested in the former. However, there was this one track on Space In Your Face called Ranch On Mars. A quick scan of the lyrics should pretty much explain why they hit me the way they do, but more to the point, the music has on more than one occasion moved me to tears, which is pretty freaky for what's essentially a punk-style song. While most of the music is pretty jarring, everything falls into this incredible harmonic line during the chorus and it feels... uplifting. Empowering. Impassioned. Longing. It's not just a wishful thought; it's a call to action.

So, finally, after fourteen years and thousands of iterations, here I am trying to make something happen. It's not enough to say, "I want to be thin". What am I doing to make myself thinner? It's not enough to say "I want to be published". What am I writing and to whom am I sending it? It's not enough to say "I want to be healthy". How much exercise am I actually getting? It's time to stop saying "I want" and start saying "I do". Want implies the expectation that someone else will fill that want.

I know, I know. This is more bootstrap levitation rhetoric, and it deserves little more than deconstruction and mockery. To this I say, "not quite". Notice what my goals are: ten pounds, one chapter of a novel, three hours of riding a week, one hundred dollars, and shaving half an hour off of my start time every day. These aren't exactly huge things from a grand scope, and I still may not get all of them. There are a lot of old saws about eating whales in small bites and moving mountains one rock at a time, and that's what I'm trying to capture here. I'm trying to get that same sort of steady-progress-towards-small-goals feel here. If I can do ten pounds in a month, I'll maybe aim for twelve next month. If I can't, I'll look at what I did accomplish and scale up appropriately. The point is to set each goal within reach, recognize what the genuine limits are, and keep myself at or near the edge of what's reasonable. The idea here isn't to dedicate myself to move mountains every day. The idea is to figure out which rocks I can lift, lift them and use that to get a bit stronger and lift a few more, then build over time until I'm lifting fairly large boulders, but also moving mountains over time.

Don't wish me luck. Luck won't help. Wish me dedication. Wish me determination. Wish me focus.

Someday we'll live among the stars.


It's been far too long since I've updated this, as usual, but this time I think I have a reasonably good excuse: I've had a lot on my mind, and I wanted to make sure I said it in as well-reasoned and carefully-considered a manner as possible. There's been a lot of discussion-provoking thought of late, and I wanted to take the time I needed to mentally masticate it into something reasonable, rather than follow my gut response and post the first thing that came to mind. As I've said before, I'm a writer, not an orator. My first inclination is usually to make a great bloody mess of everything because I'm posting from the hindbrain and the fingertips, not the cerebrum and the mental digestion center. My first drafts of things such as this are usually very visceral, and unpleasant even for the author to review later.

Some time back, an infamous video of the excesses at gay pride marches made the rounds. This got a number of people very distinctly put out and they all wanted to share this link with the world, each saying in some fashion, "go look at this for yourself" adding no additional content. Now, this internet-Crying-Game trick really doesn't impress me, and when three of my friends all post within minutes of each other, each suggesting I look at the same thing and none offering a single word of commentary, I pretty much wrote off the whole thing as very likely some gimmick. Ultimately, however, I was dragged into the fray and I watched, but I had the sound off on my computer at the time, so I sat through several minutes of scenes from pride parades with absolutely no commentary whatsoever. No voice-over, no slurs, no nothing. Just scenes of people trying to be pretty, people trying to be flashy, people making public home movies, that sort of thing. I saw nothing in the footage at which I took offence, and promptly wrote the whole thing off as a "whatever".

Let me repeat one important part of that paragraph, because it will come up later: I saw nothing at which I took offence in the gay pride march video. Public sex doesn't bother me. Drag doesn't bother me. Leatherboys don't bother me. Cops in uniform marching in pride parades annoy me, but only insofar as cops in uniform—or indeed, people in most traditional uniforms—annoy me, and I suspect most of that is a mental shorthand for people assuming that the uniform and by extention the role in society that wearing the uniform connotes makes them somehow more deserving of preferential treatment and exemptions from the social mores governing bad behavior. I don't get the same response for flight attendants or astronauts than I do for military types and police. Nor do I get it for doctors. I do get it for business suits, though. In fact, upon further reflection, I think this particular response is limited to uniforms and jobs that people assume grants them some kind of social privilege.

That, however, is an entire essay unto itself, perhaps one I will inflict upon the public after I have had time to digest it more fully. For now, my concern remains the video and how it relates to my sense of cultural alienation.

After my initial soundless screening, in which I found the whole thing to be relatively boring, I discovered quite by accident that there was in fact a voiceover to the images. So, I went to try to load the video again after fiddling with my sound, and within five minutes I had closed the browser tab in which YouTube had started spewing its noxious contents and gone on to other things. The words being read off-camera for the benefit of the audience were more annoying and, dare I say "offensive", than the contents of the video itself. I didn't bother sitting through the whole thing, because to me it became apparent within the first few minutes where the speaker was trying to lead with his arguments, and by this point I had seen the explosions in everyone's blogs over it and I didn't feel like listening to the whole speech. If anyone thinks I missed anything really important, let me know, but I doubt I'd get anything more out of it than I already have at this point.

Now, the point of bringing up this video is not to rehash old arguments, or to try to open old wounds, or even to try to bring affront to folks, but to show this as the starting point in my latest winding thought process about my beliefs, my views, and where I stand vis-a-vis the society around me. This video was really just one example of what I consider a much larger disconnect. I know I've talked about this before, but at the time I focused very heavily on religion, and while I consider that important, it's not the only point at which I differ from "my fellow Americans". I'll be mentioning it again here, but only as part of a larger picture.

So, before this conversation turns into what some people will no doubt interpret as angst and whining, let me establish what I mean when I say "this is not my tribe":

My politics are different.
When I say different here, I don't mean by a few degrees, either. I mean different. I am, very likely, sufficiently to the left and bottom of the average American as to be considered one of the "dangerous nutjobs". For those of you who haven't seen the Political Compass site, go take a look and take their test. The American public, by and large, falls in the top-right corner. Senator Kerry, contrary to popular opinion, was not a "leftist". He was merely less to the right than Bush. Nor was he a libertarian; he was merely less authoritarian than Bush. This country doesn't have a viable liberal/libertarian party. We have a center-right mildly authoritarian party and we have a far-right strongly authoritarian party, and these are painted as the political extremes. I'm so far outside the political extremes that I really don't even register on the map of the American political landscape. For those of you who are numbers-fetishists, I came in at -5.13 Economic (Left/Right) and -7.74 Social (Top/Bottom). By their calculations, that puts me at slightly more anarchistic than the Dalai Lama and only barely less collectivist.

My religion is different.
I warned you that I'd be mentioning this again, but this time it's with a little more data. The University of Minnesota's sociology department recently found in a study that atheists are America's most distrusted minority. As one of the estimated three percent of the American population that doesn't believe in a supreme being, I am by and large excluded from public debate on many issues, simply because of the assumption that I lack any sense of morality because I lack faith in a higher power. The two positions are by and large unrelated to each other, but they're inexorably wed in the minds of the typical American, and this keeps me from really having any voice on moral issues in public. It's not that I don't have opinions and beliefs, but that because I lack religious grounding they don't count nearly as much as others', no matter how ridiculous or obviously wrongheaded they might be. American culture has improved overall in its tolerance of differing moral and religious views, but when it comes to atheism it hasn't gotten any further than the 1950s when the Communists couldn't be trusted not to drop the bomb because God wasn't staying their hands.

My sexuality is different.

This one is such a big category that I'm really going to have to break it down into manageable chunks.

First and foremost, I'm a furry. Why include this under sexuality, you ask? Because to be quite blunt, the human form does not interest me sexually. Yes, I'm serious. The human body, by and large, does not push any of my buttons. It just... doesn't. This has several odd side effects, one of which is that a lot of marketing just slides off of me. If it's a product designed to make people look sexy, or if it's advertised in a fashion that plays up the sex factor, it's probably just not going to register with me, or if it does it's going to be a in a negative context. I don't "get" fashion, generally speaking. I mean, I undesrtand the purpose, but I don't really get the point, because I'm pretty much immune to the results.

This isn't to say that I don't find some people more attractive than others. I don't want this to come across as "you all look the same to me". That's not the case at all, and if that's the impression I'm giving then I'm doing it wrong. What I really am trying to say is that any sexual attraction I have to people is based on intellect and personality, not on looks. I do find some people physically interesting, and others physically uninteresting or even unappealing, but I can't say I've ever seen anyone that I thought was sex-worthy based solely on how zie looked.

This also isn't to say that I don't have a sex life. I do, and it's fairly dense if not exactly regular, but it's loaded with ideas that would probably leave a lot of people scratching their heads. I have a lot of kinks, and some of those probably don't even look like kinks to the outside world. If either of these strike you as funny, you probably understand what I mean.

All of that probably ties very heavily into my next bit, which is that even post-op, I'm still what I would consider as heavily dysmorphic. I don't like my body very much, I never have and I doubt I ever will. Being overweight doesn't help, but that honestly isn't even the root cause. I hate being tall. When I imagine myself, I'm still a little pudgy, maybe ten or fifteen pounds over ideal, but I'm short. Not impossibly short, not micro, but a much more reasonable five-foot-seven, maybe even up to five-nine if you really make me stretch. That's where I want to be, yet here I am towering in at six-foot-four. I hate it. Make no mistake, I loathe being this tall, for reasons that go far beyond my inability to find clothes that fit that I like, assuming I can even figure out what that would be. I'm not too keen about the hair I still have from my pre-transition days, but that's less disgust and more annoyance. It's something like my weight that I can fix, but that I know will take time and dedication. The height is what really kills me; it's beyond my ability to rectify, and it makes fighting with everything else really feel like a waste of time. Knowing I'll never get to where I really want to be, why extend the effort to fix anything else?

My relationships are different.
This is related to both sexuality and politics, but distinct enough from either that I think it deserves its own category. I'm polyamorous and polysexual, though not currently expressing either. Infidelity, to me, is what you do that your partners don't know about. If my wife's happiness is expanded by sleeping with someone else and I trust that person, then it expands my happiness by letting her do it, and vice versa. I believe that the question of whether same-sex marriage should be legalized is so antiquated that the very fact we have to ask it reveals an undercurrent of barbarism about our society that makes me uncomfortable. I support polygamous marriages, human-robot couplings, furry-human relationships, dogs and cats living together, and a whole host of other groupings that would probably make most mainstream Americans really disturbed. Jessie and I have invited others into our relationships, and while they haven't worked out in the long run that doesn't mean we've given up on the idea of it ever possibly happening.

Any one of these things would probably on its own take a social revolution to correct, perhaps even two or three to slowly bring society closer to the direction in which I think it ought to move, but each of these takes time, and rarely can more than one or two be fought at a time lest people burn out and give up out of apathy. Civil rights, equal rights, human rights, each of these fights had to happen on its own more or less in isolation, even if the underlying principles behind each are the same, because people still work on stereotypes and we still suffer from hindbrain diseases and poor biological programming. Right now I'm looking at so many struggles to make myself part of the mainstream that I can say I honestly don't believe it will happen within my lifetime.

When I make noises about "going to Canada", it's not that Canada is any better than America. It is in some ways, but it's more removed in others, with the added alienation of being an expat and even to some degree of "being an American", which has in recent years become something of a stigma, even if I'm nothing like the other people with whom I share a place of birth. Really, the cry is a desire to find a home whose laws and culture more closely resembles my own, but truth be told there really is no such place on earth right now. I mean, Canada's a step in the right direction, maybe even a couple of steps, but it might not really be any grand improvement in the long run.

Ideally, I'd join up with an anarchocollectivist Free State Project and take over Vermont or Washington State or the like. That, however, depends on there being as many "freaks" as I'd like to dream of there being, and of all of us being in a position to move to the same place to take over the local legislature and enact the kinds of laws that would make us happy. I can't really see that working out in the long run, but it's a great fantasy.

Come sail away with me.


Where to begin, where to begin. Another month has passed, suggesting that I've been lax in keeping this up to date, which is in its own way true. I do prefer to try to post more regularly about the things that are happening, but it's proven to be a difficult habit for me to develop. I always feel as if the people who want to know what's happening will ask me, and the rest were there, and thus there's no need for me to tell them. I already have enough trouble with people reminding me that I don't need to repeat myself endlessly just to be understood, and so I sometimes forget that I have to... uh... peat myself first.

So far this month—and tail end of last—I've taken three business trips: one to Seattle for a week for a hand-off of a project from development to support, and two to Atlanta for training on the software I'm currently supporting. I know I've spoken at length before about business travel and the feeling that when I got to fly for my company, I would have achieved something significant in my career. Now that I'm flying for my company, though, suddenly there's a lot less glamour to it. "Glamour" is the word for it, too. It was a magical thing, going to airports to be there when my father walked off the plane. I still remember the smell of the experience, though I couldn't describe it except by meaningless and inaccurate comparison to other scents. Now that I'm the one leaving the plane, there's some small amount of glitter that's been wiped away from those memories. The magic isn't gone, but it's suddenly as if I've had the curtain drawn back on a mechanical marvel and all the gears and levers have been exposed. There's no more mystery and charm to it. It's just routine.

Is it that there never was any magic, and my dreams were ill-aligned with reality? Is that there could be magic in it, but I've "grown up" so much that I've forgotten how to see it? I couldn't say for sure. Years of being the responsible one can be a grind on the soul. I spent much of the last of those three trips watching the original SubGenius commercial and thinking about how it tied directly into my situation. "Acting dumb so they'll think you're one of them" is something I have often lamented in my life, and working at a warehouse around decidedly blue-class people makes it even worse.

I have to reiterate again, these are not bad people! These are not evil people! These are not stupid people! These are good people! These are intelligent people! These are moral people! However, they have been trained by society not to look behind the Wizard's curtain and wonder about how the world works, except as the idle pondering between the nth and (n+1)th beers on Saturday night, to be forgotten by n+2. They have values and thoughts and ideals that have been given to them by their peers, their betters and their culture and never have they stopped to ponder why and how those and not some other set. They talk of "football and porno and books about war" without any regard to what else may be out there. They are part of the Konspiracy by dint of not knowing the Konspiracy exists.

I over-generalize, of course. What good revolutionary firebrand doesn't? I'm sure somewhere else within this warehouse there exists someone who is not like this. I have not, however, met this person, nor have circumstances existed under which I could meet this person other than through coded hand-signs and a sly wink at the right moment, when the commissars' eyes are turned towards the new inspirational posters we have hanging over the breakroom. I think there's a like-minded malcontent in my department in Atlanta, if only because of some of the conversations we've had in the past, but we never have a chance to just hang out given the rarity with which I actually go down there and the lack of time away from work while I'm there. That, however, is "my team", which is not anywhere close to my office.

I do know that there is at least one glorp on my team, and this makes any potential discussions difficult during work hours, even when I'm down in Atlanta.

The job itself remains reasonably uninteresting. I've learned things about real-time production support, logistics, warehouse management, Oracle, COBOL, job automation, team leadership, personnel motivation and conflict resolution. None of these things mean a damn to me in the long run, but they're all nice buzzwords that I can slap on my résumé should I need to consider leaving the company. Hopefully that won't happen. I passed my one-year anniversary with nary a hiccough—yet—which means this has now been my second-longest running job, behind only ISI. With any luck, this will be The Big One, though of course I refuse nowadays to predict any such thing.

Of note, however, is that I know elsewhere I've mentioned my timetable for moving to Seattle to the corporate office as being on or around early 2008. This may be advanced sharply thanks to one of my coworkers already in that area. She mentioned in passing that she had an open position under her for an analyst doing pretty much what I'm doing now but from a second-tier support and development perspective, not a first-tier support role. She suggested if the requisition was still open that I should apply for it and that if I did, she'd be interested in acting on it as soon as she could. She didn't pose this to the team at large. She didn't mention to me that she had suggested this to anyone else in the group. If she told anyone else, she did so strictly on the sly. I think this means that she's interested in my skills in specific, knowing my background as a developer.

Not only did this give my ego an unexpected boost as I had gotten from an outside source an unrequested and unanticipated compliment on my skills, but it also may potentially accelerate my timetable for moving to the Left Coast. I have no idea how long it will take HR to process my application, how long it would take for the interview and transfer process, or even if the job is actually still available. She didn't know any of those things either. However, these things could theoretically still come together to make the move to Seattle happen some time this year. At the very least, it's given me hope that even if it doesn't happen this year, it's made the likelihood of it happening eventually much greater, at least with this company. If I'm not still with this company in two years, I have no idea where we'll be.

As a sideline to all of this, I've just finished refinancing the house again. A rise in home prices has again made it possible for me to roll the last of my credit card debt from The Bad into my mortgage. It's tapped out my equity, but I'm locked into a thirty-year fixed 80/20 mortgage. Even if interest rates continue to rise, I won't be hurt on my home loan. All of the interest on my monthly outlay is now deductible, which will help our tax returns. Plus, the new mortgage payment is less than I was paying in both monthly payments on the credit card and mortgage before, so we're actually saving money each month. That will help our ability to save for the future, which is really where I want to be focusing my attention.

Between the refi and the application, I feel as if I'm finally in a position to start looking forward again. Not just "to Seattle" that's a step, not a journey. Where are we going, ultimately? What will we be able to build? What do we want from our future? What can we expect from "society", and what will we have to construct ourselves?

We need a religion.

I'm going to say that again, because some of you out there are sniggering behind your hands, paws, tentacles, talons, whatever. We need a religion. We need an organized statement of beliefs, a manifesto, a list of commandments. We need a structure within which we are all free to define our ideals and our personal ideologies, but that can serve as an umbrella organization under which we can all fit. We need a method of presenting outselves to the world at large not just as a collection of individuals, but as a movement. Dare I say we need to become a subculture?

I want to straddle the line between modernism and postmodernism. I want to proclaim both that there is always a hidden subtext and that not every hidden subtext is meaningful. I want to acknowledge the contexts and biases of statements without abolishing the intended meanings. I want to deconstruct without destroying. I want the flexibility to say there are multiple interpretations of an idea without losing the ability to say that some interpretations are wrong. I want to reject the idea that there is only ever one right answer without throwing away the idea of "right".

If the process of movement from human to posthuman is transhumanism, then would this be transmodernism?

We are evolving. We are changing, growing, becoming. Our understanding of the world shifts from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, guided by the contents of our brains and the impulses entering them at every interval. The statements we make today are not true for all time, but they are true at that moment, and for however long the unstated framework upon which those statements rely remains valid. Ultimate truth is unknowable because infinite knowledge is impossible, but within the realm of what we know and believe to be true, we can make pronouncements about our world and our reality that do hold up to scrutiny, as long as we never forget the assumptions under which we're operating. If those assumptions change, then what we claim to be true as a result must be re-examined. It may not always be that what we think is true turns out not to be, but we should never shy away from the possibility that we make mistakes.

I want a world in which I can say tomorrow, "I was wrong yesterday", and have that be acceptable.

Yes, I am intolerant of intolerance. Yes, I am bigoted against bigots. Discrimination is transitive. There is room in my worldview at once to say that there is freedom for each person to believe as zie wishes, and to say that there is no room in my world for those who will not make room in their world for others. The surest and fastest way to convince me that you're wrong about something is to state that you're the only one who is right. Under the transmodernist umbrella, there is room for an infinite number of ideas, but some simply will not fit, and I'm okay with that.

It's a beautiful world we live in, a sweet romantic place.

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