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Update, info, thoughts, reasons, afterthoughts, and a goodbye.   
12:41am 16/01/2001
  Where to start? Well, with the beginning, I suppose. At around 6:30 Thursday my DSL line ceased to function and despite the best efforts of the Earthlink support team will remain so until either Verizon, who handles the hardwired side of it, can fix it, or forever. For the purposes of this journal, as I will explain further on, that is largely irrelevent. It is, however, why I have not updated in awhile. I use a dial-up on my house's main line as I write this.

I've been doing the real-life thing these past few days, hanging out. All night bowling(and drinking and substance abuse, natch) followed by a night driving and walking around(and drinking and substanceabuse, of course) and talking and eventually watching a bad movie with my friends and a girl one of them brought.

The night was spent alternatively making fun of me verbally and physically and lying to the new arrival about me. All-night bowling went identically. Eventually, after about twelve hours, a friend of mine of twelve or thirteen years eventually confessed that the reason they hang out with me is a mixture of pity and the joke I am to them, a thing that they can laugh at and abuse who will keep coming back for more.

I knew this. I have known this for awhile. To actually hear it, for some reason, hurt. I do not know why. I feel like something inside me is broken or badly damaged. Maybe my heart, maybe my soul. Something that's intangible but yet has a very real bearing on my life. Either way, I'm wasting time writing and thinking about something I can't understand.

I haven't had a good cry in awhile. I cried today, I thought I'd wake up and feel better from the last nights' abuses, but I didn't. I feel worse. I'm feeling worse now. A friend of mine named Marcia seems perceptive even digitally. She asked if I was okay. I told her I was. I lied. Since I have no means by which to effect some sort of fix for how I'm feeling, I didn't want to burden Marcia with it. She's happy and I'd feel worse for possibly jeopardizing that.

Nothing is working. No thoughts, no music, no sleep, no socializing, no chemicals. Nothing is helping this rift inside me. After careful consideration, that is what I've decided to do. Nothing.

I didn't set out to writing this journal for the benefit of anyone, myself or others. I didn't set out to writing it with the concern that others might or might not read it, might or not find it interesting, might or might not be entertained or touched by my thoughts and life. I do not know why I did it. Perhaps because it seemed something interesting to try, an idea stolen like so many others from people I know.

Hanging out with people, socializing, that was something I did with the hope that I'd feel better, that I'd grow as a person. After listening to my friends ranting to their friends, in my company, about me and about things I did years and years ago, I realize I cannot grow around them. They will not allow it. They wish me to remain the same person I've been so that they can be angry at me for who I was and be happy that they can make fun of me for who I was. I think that it fills some hole inside them. They can be better people by having a worse person among them to compare themselves to.

I'm weaker than they are, physically. I do not work out two hours every day, I do not run, I do not swim. I don't have muscles over every inch of my body, less than ten percent body fat, or any other physical traits that are associated with strength.

I'm weaker than they are, economically and socially. I don't have a steady career, a girlfriend, my own place or car or cell phone, or any combination thereof.

Intellectually I might be superior, or at least my education has gone farther, but I have found that means shit. What I know can't provide a topic of conversation, what I know can't do a thing for me. All that is talked about is athletics, weight lifting, my flaws, or other people's flaws.

I'm getting nothing from hanging out with people, I'm not benefitting in any way from writing or composing or expressing myself. The site that I frequent, a MUD type setting, just had two superuser/administrators leave because they cannot stand it, and I find myself, while not quite so vehemently opposed to the site, apathetic. Listless. I'm tuning down my online experience and my social interaction. I'm going to study, I'm going to learn, and nothing but. It's all I'm good for.

Nothing is helping what hurts in me, so I'm just going to let it hurt. Life is suffering. I didn't really believe that until now, but if it's to be either like this or worse when I try to make it better, I'll take this, believe it, and be done.

I don't have anything more to say for now. This is goodbye for my journal. Maybe if I muster some new hope I'll write in it again, but I've learned that the surest way to let people down is to make promises.
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Where Did I Go?   
04:45pm 10/01/2001
  It's been over a week since my last journal entry, so everyone, myself included, has been certainly wondering... where did I go? School started as of last Wednesday, and I've been sort of busy. Lots of minor but interesting events up until now. I'm currently sitting around in a computer lab until my 6PM class starts.

Well, first off, I like my classes. Discrete Mathematics are the basic mathematical principles behind computing, and have numerous applications outside the field as well.

Computer Organization deals with the actual physical hardware, as well as some more discrete mathematical principles, and the lowest human-level programming interface, assembler languages.

Unix Programming in C is exactly that, a class that'll give me some insight into Unix, which is most widely used OS, and its applications, as well as knowledge of how to program in the C language.

It's basically computing history/pre-computing theory. A very low-level series of courses that promise to be pretty time-consuming, but it'll form a good foundation for me to work with more math and computer science topics.

Other events of the past week include hanging out with my friends Larry and Dana at a coffee shop. We talked for a bit. It's good to see them both, they attend school out of town and we are rarely able to make time. Larry's approaching his English degree already and is probably going to be in law school in another year and a half.

I look at my friends and I see people who know what they want to do. I had an hour talk with my Unix professor today about general computing issues, views on software piracy and the like, and he asked me a question I found myself unable to answer.

"What do you want to do in computer science?"

The answer to that changes every day, but the basics stay the same. Large systems, networks in which big processes are begun and then observed. Goldberg-esque stuff, but practical. You insert the data, watch the system crunch it in some way that you quantify, and see what comes out. This is why neural network architecture and AI interest me. I think we'll be seeing the first AI within this decade.

Either way, I don't have any worries. That I do not know what I want to do in the future is irrelevent. I am doing what I want to do now, and if I allow time to pass, now will become the future and my path will be true.

My room is basically complete. I like the setup, although I'm getting stiff necks right now while I test out ways of sitting in front of my display. I think that I'll end up sitting in lotus position. It seems to support my neck and shoulders better than others.

On some night last week, I was hanging out with some friends of mine, and after a fairly event-free night(we drove around, ended up drinking coffee at a donut shop and complaining that we were becoming like old men), we got some excitement when we got pulled over for a manufactured reason.

The cops got us out of the car and went over it with a fine-toothed comb, searching us as well. They brought in about five other vehicles, so at the end we had like fourteen of Pittsburgh's finest breathing down our necks. One of them found what looked to him like a bit of weed in the carpet on the floor, but he didn't find any more and we were free to go after about a half hour of interrogation and searches.

The cop who started it had a hot partner. She was probably in her early-to-mid twenties, definitely a rookie insofar as she conversed with me while the other cops were playing Gestapo with my friends. I should have asked for her number, and I regret not doing so.

Maybe if she's there for another random drug search, I'll ask her. Either way I'm disturbed at how little civil rights seem to matter in this day and age. The search was entirely baseless, even though their concerns about contraband in the vehicle might not have been entirely unwarranted. Ultimately they didn't find any, so it was all cool. Definitely an interesting end to a night.

I've been busy, been reading and learning about computers, from Turing in Bletchley Park during WW2 to Colossus to the inception of UNICS at Bell Labs, which we call Verizon nowadays. Lots of fun, lots of information to absorb.

An interesting sidenote before closing, I was to be late to my first Vector Calculus(not mentioned because it's not really of a lot of interest, it's more Physics, and right now I'm not interested in the Physics side of Math too much) when my martial arts instructor drove by my bus stop. He stopped, I got in, and we talked a bit while he drove me to class, as he was heading there to teach. Strange coincidences and odd luck. Interesting, huh?

So that's where I went. On a trip fraught with peril, lucky breaks, and knowledge. Plus a nice girl in my Discrete Math class that I might try to get to know better, but that's a story for a different time.

I hope everyone chooses to feel good about more things than they choose to feel bad. I also hope that the temperature here rises above freezing for more than a few hours. It's been below/around freezing for approaching a month. Everything is dead, but since the snow's old, it's gray.
08:11pm 02/01/2001
mood: aggravated
Since I set out to repair Turing, a number of things have jumped up out of the woodwork and pissed me off. I hope that venting them on here will calm me down.

First and foremost, I'm informed by my mother that a friend of hers bought a CD-Burner for their kid, with no idea that, as an internal model, it would actually have to be INSTALLED!

So my mother volunteered me to(read: forced me to quit doing my own repairs and do this) coach them through the process step-by-step over the phone. Now, the second I mentioned actually opening the case, they immediately refused to go any farther, so now I get to spend my Friday afternoon walking there(not insured on the new car yet), doing a 5 minute install of a drive and a 15 minute install of software, and walking back. Honor thy mother and all that, so I'll do it, but I'll be damned if I'm not irritated by it.

Second, and this requires a little bit of back info...

I had one of the original DVD-playing computers commercially released. My original disc drive is a 2X DVD that depended on a STB Impact DVD Decoder card in the PCI slot, piggybacked to the STB Velocity 4MB AGB Video card, to decode the signal.

When I upgraded to a GeForce 32MB AGP, there were no pins to attach the decoder. I did not know at the time what it was, so I simply removed it and tried to research it. No luck, except a name, and even that was hard to get.

Now that I've been forced, due to the above card frying, to get a new card, a GeForce2 32MB AGP, I find it has the pins to piggyback the card. I call the providers of my machine originally, Gateway 2000. They claim that I have violated their warranty and can't get support. Nevermind that all I was asking was some specifications on the card. They apparently either do not know or do not want to look it up.

Therefore, after a lot of searching, I've found just about jack shit about this card. It's useless to me without any knowledge, so I'm going to put it back into the dusty pile of older computer parts from whence it came. It probably wouldn't have provided a boost anyway, but you never know.

So right now I'm calming myself before I go back up to finish the job I started on Turing. On an off note, I earlier said I would discuss my trip that I took before Christmas in a bit more detail. That's still forthcoming. I might type it up tonight if I have Turing online by then. Hope everyone collectively is doing better than they are doing worse. Happy day after new year's.
New year, new classes, new computer parts   
05:58pm 02/01/2001
mood: anxious
Well, it's 1/2/2000. Yesterday and the night before were too busy to allow me to log on. A bit has happened since then, some of it interesting, some of it not.

First off, I went to a New Years party at a friend's place. It was fun. Strobes, music, vodka, and more. We partied from about 7PM until 2AM, then I spent the night. Talked to a nice girl who has had some problems with an abusive significant other. She was pretty intellectual, so I could talk to her on a different level than others. I also talked sex with another girl, but ultimately got none. :)

I was surprisingly coherent considering I'd done the most abusing of chemicals of anyone there. Tolerance is building, I guess. I think I'll go to the next party there, too. I've never had a bad time there.

Things between my friend and his significant other(different people from above) seem to be degenerating rapidly. It's sad, really. Problems that are personal are affecting their ability to find happiness as a group. I hope they see their way through it intact, or at least learn something.

I got a ride from there to my grandparents' place the next afternoon, where the family festivities took place. Aunts, uncles and cousins gathered together to celebrate the New Year together. I got requested to make some music discs. It otherwise was pretty unremarkable.

Sauerkraut and pork was the order of the day, as it has been for every year since before my birth. A late Christmas present, still in the mail at the time of the gift-giving, was handed off to me. I let the little kids beat the hell out of me for about an hour, they seemed to have fun.

Recently, an uncle of mine with a mental illness chose to have himself committed. We took this time to divide up his perishable goods among the family. I got his herbal supplements. I cannot help but feel a bit like a scavenger. He won't need them, of course, but I still feel badly.

I might talk a bit about him in a later entry, if I feel up to it. I fear what happened to him, if it was a result of genetic factors, could happen to me.

After spending last night reaching the end(but not completing) Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete, as well as moving my bookshelves and changing their configuration a bit, I woke up today and went to the University of Pittsburgh and dropped close to three bills on notebooks. I have to have my ID card upgraded, but after looking at the line, I decided to replace it some other day. I also have to see about overloading into another course.

My current course load includes Unix Programming in C, Discrete Structures, Organization and Assembly Code, and Analytical Geometry(Calculus III). I'm trying to get into Data Structures. I overloaded and got accepted, but it was never processed for some reason. I'm going to raise some hell after classes tomorrow. Of course, if I end up getting in, that's close to another hundred on books.

I received, while I was gone shopping for books, the last part I need to resurrect Turing. After I complete this article, I plan on descending into work and hopefully getting Turing 100% operational on either a Windows 98 SE or Windows Millenium Edition platform, with the new components.

Hope everyone else is having an eventful and fun New Year's. With my upcoming schedule, I think my life will be almost too "eventful" to handle. Hopefully I won't have to become too dependent on caffeine et al in order to survive the term. Either way I've got a long, hard, very educational road ahead of me. I'm excited.
Recent Events, Contemplation, Poetry   
02:05am 31/12/2000
mood: contemplative
Hmmmm.... where to start?

These past few days have been relatively calm. I've spent them rearranging my room and organizing the orders for replacement parts. Turing should be fully operational(and then some) by Monday, far ahead of schedule.

On the 29th, all my friends came over to play Shadowrun, a tabletop RPG I am an afficionado of. When they arrived, another friend called, and they instead decided to hang out here and watch movies with him. I'm sort of relieved, as I am not a fan of their playing style, and as such it isn't really fun to be a gamemaster for them.

To be blunt, they made complete asses of themselves. They wrecked my house, ate my food, insulted a good friend of mine(perhaps a better one than them) and left without cleaning up. They show me little respect. It's gotten to the point where my opinion of them is so low that I really take no offense at their behavior, but I am torn.

I've known these people my entire life, for the most part, or at least for many, many years. I entrust my safety to them when we endeavor to go and do risky things, and rightly so. I do trust them with that. How can one trust people with one's safety, but not trust them to be out of your sight while they are guests in your house?

I've been re-arranging my room. The style is pseudo-Japanese, with emphasis on low-to-the-ground surfaces and lack of ornamentation. Utilitarian. A mattress on the floor to sleep, a low table with enough space to write and study as well as holding my entertainment system, a book shelf, a dresser, and some drawers. Shades of white, black, and gray are the theme.

I feel ambivalence towards it, but I feel that in removing much of the personal effects from my living space, I'll encourage myself to depend on my own processes and my own inner strength, rather than the morale-boosting or happy-memory inducing imagery I tend to surround myself with almost subconsciously.

I saw the most ordinary, interesting thing today as I headed home from a party. A storm had powdered the roads with white snow, and as the cars ahead moved, they tossed up torrents of it while blowing more with exhaust. Steam and snow mixed and danced together in swirling, chaotic patterns.

I was caught with how simple, how common, such an event was, and yet how it was the result of an incalculable number of variables falling into a certain place at a certain series of instants. I reflected on how, to simulate something so simple as the whirling of snow or dust devils or leaf-storms in the school playground when I was a child, one would need a massively parallel supercomputer of immense power. It allows me to appreciate the simple complexity of nature and the beauty therein.

Now for that poem. It's something I've been composing in my mind for over a week. I started composing it the instant I saw what it is named for.

"The Gray Sun"

The sounds of the road;
Dozens of wheels carry me closer to her.

The calm after the storm;
Landscapes frozen in eternal ice, reflecting.

The sky clouded, the sun a lighter shade amid myriad shades of gray. A circle. A compass.

The sounds of my pulse;
Regrets and fears push me farther from her.

The calm after a battle;
I sit and watch it pass, reflecting.

The gray sun shines.
I go west.

Life goes on.
Annoyance, disaster, chaos, and all those things the holidays bring   
02:52am 28/12/2000
  Well, I already broke my promise to make this a daily thing. That's okay, no more promises to be made. A number of unpleasant things happened in the last few days, and I'm having problems keeping up.

First and foremost, my computer has died. Turing, who I refer to my little bundle of transistors as, is no more. I mourn his passing. He sits in pieces on the floor of my room, which is halfway through the process of reorganization. I have about depleted my Fun Money and taken a pretty painful chunk out of my Needed Money in order to repair Turing. The parts are on back-order, so he might not be fully operational until early January. Sucks, eh?

On other news, I decided to accompany some associates of mine to an abandoned insane asylum to look around. After a near-miss with authority figures, during which I almost lost my flashlight, we made our way back only to find the one who drives had locked his keys in the car. Since there was close to an ounce of contraband in the vehicle, we couldn't get police help in opening it. We walked two miles in bitter cold to get to a payphone, where we called a friend who brought spare keys. Disaster was narrowly averted, but I think I got frostbite on two fingers of my left hand. They're better now, but it was touch-and-go for a little bit.

I got involved with Audiogalaxy tonight upon getting back to keep me from getting bored, and have now grabbed nearly all the music I ever wanted. I'm now looking for cool new stuff to fill up another couple hundred megs of space, before I burn it all to disc and start over. Life isn't bad. It's just not super-peachy right now.
Spreading Christmas Joy   
06:55pm 25/12/2000
mood: determined
Well, I'm back from the family outing that uses the Christmas season to draw together distant relatives into the proximity of one house. Problems are forgotten, distant cousins and close cousins play together, the grown-ups talk and joke, and randomly assigned grab-bag gifts are given and received. It's great.

I had my father in the grab bag. When one gets a family member, it is, due to the difficulty of keeping the secret from them, considered a good idea to replace the name in the bag and try for another. I opted to keep it as a challenge. I bought him a CD, as well as the CD I bought him for a standard Christmas present. It made my shopping easier. I got my mom a computer game, Gabriel Knight 3.

I got a few gifts of note. Nothing fancy or expensive, but gifts that I'm impressed with. I got chocolate, a necessity(chocolate == serotonin, serotonin == sex, sex == good, therefore chocolate == good) in my chemically boosted life. I also got some caffeinated mints. Extra strength. They're like rocket fuel.

Got an old World War 2 bayonet, which right now is sheathed at my hip. It's packed in grease and kept in good working order. Dull as hell, but it's not meant for slashing, it's meant for stabbing. E will be disappointed, that was the last one. I'd promised her I would get the ones I saw for her, but apparently my parents beat me to it. Maybe I'll give this to her, but right now I'm too enthralled by it to do so.

My grab bag gift was a pair of DVD's, Princess Mononoke and Office Space. Princess Mononoke is still on back-order, so I didn't get to see it, but Office Space was there and I was very happy. Office Space ranks up there in my 'favorite movies' category. Fight Club is, of course, my all-time favorite.

The network I've set up in my household, a LAN linked via a hardware router to a DSL connection, went down during my vacation. My parents were unable to figure out how to get it running again, so now comes the part I dreaded when I set up my network. Documentation.

I must document the functions of the network and how to perform simple fixes and check for problems, in a way that won't confuse my parents, who aren't very technically literate. It should take a few hours. I think I'll start tonight.

Monitor degrades apparently by the moment. Now it's really getting bad, the streaks and trails are becoming more noticeable. I plan on using some money from my recently terminated stint as a technical assistant at a neuroresearch laboratory to replace the monitor, as well as upgrading my sound card and sound system. If I can find a DVD program that works with my TV-out capability, I might just be able to make my computer into a passable home entertainment system.

Overall I'm happy with life right now. I've got some leisure time mixed in with a series of largely self-advancing tasks ahead of me. After/during my sound system and monitor upgrade, I'm totally revamping my room. Going for a sort of Japanese/Frank Lloyd Wright motif. Most furniture close to the ground, unnecessary objects removed, lots of surfaces held up apparently tenuously while being in actuality very sturdy. It'll be cool.

Merry Christmas, and, a little late, happy Solstace, Yule, and Chanukah. Hope everyone else is having a great time.
First Entry   
04:53pm 24/12/2000
  This is the first entry in what I hope to make a regular part of my routine. This journal will not be edited for content nor will it hide any details. I feel that by putting a pen to paper and inking my life in public view, I will find some peace that I cannot achieve through keeping my thoughts to myself.

I've just arrived back home from a visit to the homes of some of my friends far away. I am tired, and I am hungry, so I will write no more save to say that I believe the trip, which I hope to detail in my next entry, was a wonderful experience.