Saturday, November 18, 2006
After spending several years away, I find that my mind has done some serious over-simplifications when it comes to viewing this place. The lack of deep snow has been translated into it always being mild here. Not true. The common abruptness of the population had in my head turned into the expectation that I would find no kindness in strangers. Also not true.
And then there is the poverty issue.
This is a wealthy place. One of the most economically prosperous spots on the planet. So that fact has also been flattened out into this mythical image of a place where everybody is comfortable, well off, with a roof over their heads and good food on their plates.
My new office has a nice view over an old part of the city. I am a few floors up, so I can see down below the houses, and into the backyards. And right now, I am looking at a small, pudgy person, bundled haphazardly in worn clothes, rummaging through a dumpster, sticking soda cans and other trinkets into the large plastic bag that she is carrying at her side.
So much for that illusion.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
So I'm thinking slideshow as a screensaver, that will automatically harvest the newest photos my wife uploads to my daughter's .Mac web page.
I seek numbness in my geekness.
I keep saying to myself that I'll live. Which is true. And then I am reminded of the times I have repeated that to myself. Usually lying somewhere incapacitated. On a riverbank in the wilderness with a broken ankle. In a puddle next to a dirt road, watching my horse gallop off in the distance. On the porch of a ski lodge, feeling the opiates flatten out the pain spikes. At a first responder course, getting the drowning sensation in a tube, half-filled with water. Watching Earth from an open airplane door twelve thousand feet above, with nothing in between me and her. Again, a few minutes later, while rushing towards her at 120 mph.
This time, I am not worried that I will break a bone or lose a part of me.
Well, not a physical part of me, anyway.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me or treat me mean
I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine
If you don't have a point to make
Don't sweat it
You'll make a sharp one being so kind
And I'd sure appreciate it
Everyone else's goal's to get big headed
Why should I follow that beat being that I'm
Better than fine
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
No, this is not from some obscure, ultra-conservative blog somewhere. This derogatory drivel is from an opinion piece published in the newest Time, no less.
When will they ever learn?
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Somebody asked what happened to the Harley. 'You had the money in the bank. What happened?'
Answer: This happened. No, not to me. I'm fine. But I got a calmn, detailed run-down of a typical motorcycle trauma from my wife. And then I saw the film. You should too. Whether you have stupid Harley dreams like me or not.
Man it hurts when your dreams get snuffed. But then, I can stand on my own two feet. Something I appreciate a whole lot more now.
Sunday, July 9, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
I love them.
I love them so much that I don't want to let go. I hold on and I hold on, until it is so late in the night that I will obviously miss a big part of the next day.
This is probably not what they mean by carpe diem.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Friday, May 5, 2006
Thursday, May 4, 2006
I mean, Martin Scorcese. John Turturro. That old guy, what's his name, Paul Newman. Heck, that's back when I even thought Tom Cruise's bad acting was cool, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio with her freaky perm was hot.
I just had no idea. No. Idea. This sorry excuse of an eighties syntheziser crap is so soulless, so devoid of heart, of thought, of class. It literally pales in comparison to its black-and-white predecessor.
Every now and then it strikes me how people of that generation—people who wore suits and dresses, had handkerchiefs in their pockets and hats on their heads, shined their shoes and pressed their shirts—can be so humble. They must walk around today in horror, looking at the stupid, arrogant, ill-behaving slobs that mope around the present, waxing on about questions already answered by generations before them. Like today was the first day the sun came up. How can these people who remember a time of civility, of sportsmanship, of honesty, of fairness, of straight shooting, of graciousness and yes, of class, how can they stand silently by? How can you not go crazy seeing the humanity drain out of society?
For a few months now, I have had the honor of living with a group of people mostly of that era. Granted, many of them have a privileged background, resulting in a dislikeable snobbish disposition, and quite a few are afflicted with common ailments of their time, such as homophobia and latent racism. But they have a sense of grace. Their word is good. And sufficient. And time is in their service, instead of ruling them. Even if they have precious little of it left.
So, is this just a pendulum of the times swinging? Won't it just swing back one day? Didn't Socrates complain that the youth had no manners or respect, back in 400 bC?
I don't know. I do hope so.
But I'm not betting on it.
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
long as I got my plastic Jesus,
sitting on the dashboard of my car.
Comes in colors, pink and pleasant,
glows in the dark 'cause it's irridescent,
take it with you when you travel far.
Get yourself a sweet Madonna,
dressed in rhinestones sitting on a
pedestal of abalone shell.
Going ninety, I ain't wary,
'cause I've got the Virgin Mary,
assuring me that I won't go to Hell.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Saturday, April 8, 2006
Now you won't just hear those incessant wee-oww-wee-oww sounds when walking through parking lots, they'll migrate to lecture halls and classrooms too. *Sigh*
I found a much nicer use the motion sensor in my laptop: A carpenter's level! This I find truly cool, even if pretty useless.
It must be the incurable geek-wannabe in me.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
I have no idea why he is such a good friend of mine. I confide in him my most intimate secrets, and I would do practically anything he would ask.
But he doesn't.
And that's the thing. While he is one of the first two or three persons I would call, I don't think I am even on his list. If he throws a party or takes some friends on an adventure, I barely make the list.
Part of it is that he's popular. Which again is partly because he treats everybody with the same respect. And kindness. But to really get to the heart of him, that is another matter. In the twenty years (this August) since he introduced himself to me, I don't think he has ever confided in me. Sat down and told me about his demons. So I sometimes feel that we don't have a balanced friendship. That we are more akin to confider-confidant.
I gave him a present for his birthday. Thought about it long and hard, since it was an ends-in-five birthday.
And he was so glad!
He just blurted out stuff, excitedly. Overjoyed, he told me how utterly cool and original he thought the gift was, and how happy he was with it.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Monday, March 6, 2006
Sunday, March 5, 2006
The Constant Gardener 
I really, really liked City of God. It had an aura of authenticity about it. That air of simple, brutal everyday. How ordinary people can be killed on a mundane Monday morning, without anybody giving a shit. That honesty, for a lack of a better word, carries on over into The Constant Gardener. I seem to like many films of Ralph Fiennes', even though I generally do not particularily care for his acting. But Rachel Weisz. Man, oh man. She can just epitomize that bad-influence-but-with-good-intentions thing, with one look. You know she's trouble. But good trouble. The right trouble. The kind of trouble somebody should be making. Just like she did in Enemy at the Gates, another film by a fine director, and another one with a Fiennes, i.e. little brother Joseph, who I also think is rather dull. And yes, I did think he was OK in Shakespeare in Love. This time around, she gets more focus, more room, and fills it out completely. She portrays a fully three-dimensional person. Determined, passionate, fallable, but with a heart of gold. Filled with love. When she "walks" over to Fiennes' character, at the end of the movie, and softly sits down with him, smiling, it was as if something squeezed my heart. Hard. Maybe it is just that dark and heavy breath of Africa, or maybe it is because deep down, I wish I was doing something close to what Weisz' character is doing. Or perhaps I just think she is a damn good actress. Whatever it is, if she doesn't win the Oscar tonight for this, I will be very, very disappointed. Even if the fantastic Frances McDormand is also nominated.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
You see, what I thought would take away was this: "I got life, mother. I got laughs, sister. I got freedom, brother. I got good times, man. I got crazy ways, daughter. I got million-dollar charm, cousin. I got headaches and toothaches. And bad times too. Like you." Because that's how I feel. I generally feel I got life. Life, life, life, life, life! But it didn't. Maybe because this holds more dread, more terror, more futility, and is more real to me than the tens of thousands who died in Vietnam—or the millions that died in WWII, for that matter. Or maybe it is because I couldn't get past the fact that this is a big-budget Hollywood incarnation all the way, made a decade after the summer of love. Choreographed, trimmed, snipped, shined and brushed, with only an inkling of wildness left intact. One of the few things in it that tug at you are the lyrics. I was stoppedm, cold, by this: "How can people be so heartless? How can people be so cruel? Easy to be hard. Easy to be cold. How can people have no feelings? How can they ignore their friends? Easy to be proud. Easy to say no. And especially people, who care about strangers. Who care about evil, and social injustice. Do you only care about the bleeding crowd? How about a needing friend? I need a friend. How can people be so heartless. You know I'm hung up on you. Easy to give in. Easy to help out." There is a warning in there. For those that keep yapping about how they want to save the World, but can't find the way. Not seeing what is right in front of you. Hearing nothing. Lacking all humility. Gratitute. Humbleness. A friend said the other day that it was sad to see that I had this urge, this need, to live a fuller, richer life, and couldn't seem to find a way to do that. She is right. It is sad.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
But sometimes, if something is a load of crap, somebody may point that out.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Once upon a time, I used to see more. A lot more. When I was a kid, I had several friends who I soon discovered noone else could see. It was troubling, and confusing, but at the same time strangely comforting. Mostly because they were there out of kindness. I could feel it, their good emanating.
Through your life, you meet good people. And you tend to stay with them. Or try to. Those people in which you sense good. Maybe beneath a rough surface. They may even try to hide it. Protect it. Shield it. But somehow, it still shines through. At least to you. And it disarms you.
Then there are those that are persistently kind. Unconditionally. Without reserve. Always forgiving. Always looking for the good in others. And finding it. Watching someone like that is to witness an amazing power. A true tour de force. Being able to withstand the withering touch of human callousness for a lifetime, and still maintaining such innocence, hope, and faith in mankind, is the greatest show of strength I know. It is humbling. And, for us who are not that strong, it can be infuriating. Realizing that you are not that strong. That by comparison, you are petty. And selfish. Greedy. And small.
But as the years go by. You understand more. You gain respect for people that walk humbly through life. With tenderness in their heart. Unshakably believing in the good in man. And you realize that you can not be resentful or envious of these beings, even if you doubt that you could ever be that strong. Instead of expecting, you accept. Embrace. You let yourself be inspired. And enjoy the time that you have together. This inestimable time, in the presence of angels.
Next week, one of these angels would have turned 92. Every now and then, I feel his presence. His warm smile, his kind touch. He seems to stay close to my daughter. Watching over her.
Happy birthday, dad.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Un long dimanche de fiançailles 
I woke up in the middle of the night, went downstairs and began watching this film I have been meaning to see for a long time. I think I may have been dreaming about it when I woke up. About the heroine. Or more accurately, the actress playing the heroine, Audrey Tautou. The most beautiful Amélie Poulain imaginable. Spirit so tender, heart so true. Or maybe it is just that sleeping alone lightens my sleep. I was really concentrating on following the plot, when all of a sudden Jody Foster jumped onto the screen. And started talking French! I was so startled that I spilled the hot chocolate I was sipping on. There is a lot of killing in this movie. It does take place in a war, after all. Maybe being human means to be able to place infinite value on the life of every single person in this World. And when we go beyond indifference with regard to the loss of human life, when we actually start killing each other, deliberately, we lose our humanity. Lose our minds. Become mindless beasts. But what is it about killing fields, that turns so beautiful after the crime? It is as if Mother Nature quitely covers up the shame. And the resulting flowers try to blossom even more beautifully in these places. To compensate. Balance. Great beauty can spring from great pain. At heart, humans truly are lonely animals. We all want sombody to come looking for us, when we are lost. Right?
Thursday, February 9, 2006
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Sunday, February 5, 2006
"Where are you?"
"What do you mean, where am I? You called me! And it's bloddy late, too."
"Well, OK, I am at home. Trying to fall asleep. Which reminds me, when are you coming to visit? I have a real guestroom for you and whoever you travel with nowadays..."
"That's not what I meant."
"No. Of course I know that you are at home, you putz. I asked you where you are. Now. In your life."
"You know what? I don't know. It feels like I am on the move. Like someone packed me up and put me on a U-Haul to the next part of my life. That's where I am. In transit."
"So you're lost?"
"Maybe. If I am, it really isn't bothering me at the moment. No more than anything else that is sitting boxed up in the back of a moving van."
"You and your stupid metaphors."
"Love you too."
The thing with friendships, as with most other relationships, is that as the years pass by, less needs to be said.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
I have spent some of my loneliest moments in a sea of people. Being lonely can hurt even more when seperation is visited upon you repeatedly, and irregularily, on top of already prolonged deprivation of contact. And after years of that, sometimes your stamina can just fail. Without warning. Like falling hard on your face while walking down a flight of steps. It immediately hurts. But it also introduces fear into you. You become less certain of yourself. Your ability to safely sail down some stairs. Or go without contiguous presence of another human being for extended periods of time.
I don't want to go up there. I don't want to crawl into that bed. Alone. Again.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Since then, I have heard that name mentioned a few times, and every time, it has been in some warm, nostalgic context. Like an emblem of free thinking, the notion that everything is possible. Of innocence, even.
Say what you may about the mercurial Steve Jobs, he does know how to give a good speech (Visiting Lecturers and Speeches -> Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Address on Video).
Monday, January 16, 2006
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Saturday, January 7, 2006
Friday, January 6, 2006
Now, admittedly, I think Apple is run similar to a fascist state. There is only one will, one opinion, one Steve way. So I wouldn't want to work there. But I think their products are pretty cool. Really cool, actually. And they are undeniably innovative.
Which brings us back to Gates. Because imitation remains the most sincere form of flattery.
So Gates previewed Vista, a.k.a. Longhorn, a.k.a. whatever it has been meant to become these years since it was originally supposed to come out. And what were the highlights? Well, current Mac OS X features. And nothing else. Every single feature showcased by Gates is in Mac OS X. Every. Single. One. From Instant-On Desktop Search (Mac's Spotlight) to Windows Flip 3D (Expose), from Memories (the iPhoto browser) to the OS-based Slideshow (Slideshow). Even Mac's translucent Aqua interface appears almost unchanged in Vista as the translucent Aero interface. The new URGE service is practically the same as the iTunes Music Store, and Media Player 11 has become a virtual twin of iTunes. The Mac's Dashboard and Widgets are Vista's Sidebar and Gadgets (really!). Even the Dock with its thumbnails showed up as Windows Flip with thumbnails. Vista is a virtual photocopy! I was just floored by the audacity of it. They didn't even bother to try to hide it, during the quirky presentation.
The only "feature" of this sludge that does not appear to be lifted from Mac OS X is called SideShow, an incredibly lame hump that gets added to the cover of your laptop (woo-hoo), presenting a second, tiny screen and some clumsy arrow keys.
Sheez. How on Earth did Windows ever get this large? If that growth is not a testament to the generally bad taste of people, I just do not know what it is.