Regrets... I've had a few. But then again, Too few to mention!
--"My Way", written by Paul Anka
When I hear that song, I think of Frank Sinatra, and sometimes Elvis or Sid Vicious --
all of whom have been known to perform, in their own unique manner, that wonderful song.
Wonderful because -- though I don't always enjoy hearing it, I've heard it so much --
the song is a wonderful personal anthem. That's something we all need: a personal anthem.
A song that praises our individuality; a mark of devotion to oneself.
After all, they say you're going to have a helluva time loving anyone else unless you've first
learned to love yourself, right?
This is not to replace your love for your God, or your spouse, or your family. I'm simply
saying that we all need to give ourselves a bit more self-love at this time of year. (No, not
that type of self-love!)
Too many of us beat up on ourselves throughout the year, and then nearly destroy ourselves at year's end.
No wonder there are so many suicides during the Holidays; the messages bombarding us are to Buy Buy Buy and to Give Give Give --
but what if you have nothing to give but love?
If you have a dearth of that good stuff, then you'll have a bitch of a time spreading it around to your neighbors.
So be good to yourself, whether you're Christian, Pagan, Wiccan, Athiest, Hindu, Islamic, Mormon, Podcastin, or otherwise.
Don't take the pills, they won't do you or anyone else any good; you'll simply miss out on the
Next Big Thing
(which may turn out to be Your Next Big Thing). Just do things your own way, singing that little hymn as you do so:
For what is a man, What has he got? If not himself, Then he has naught. To say the things, He truly feels, And not the words, Of one who kneels. The record shows, I took the blows And did it my way!
Monday, June 18, 2007
Since the dawning of the millennium, the technology of writing has changed very little in the offline world, the various tools (read: pens and pencils) changing only in brand, perhaps, and the materials on which we write (read: paper) changing only minutely in the elements of its composition. In terms of the Internet, however, there are constant, ever-changing technological "advances", and the craft of writing -- in particular, the blogcraft -- has become a cat-and-mouse chase of getting accustomed to the latest technological changes as newer improvements are constantly being introduced.
Take Blogger, for example, the blogging tool I've been using for years to post to something that happened. Blogger began as a relatively simple application -- and still is, in comparison to many of the other tools available for publishing to blogs -- yet as it has developed over the years, with more and more features being introduced to the service, many bloggers have desired to go "back to the basics". That is, many bloggers prefer to use even simpler applications to post to their blogs.
Thing is, Blogger is about as simple as it gets (when it comes to posting to a blog using a web app). Yet because of the very nature of the tool (because it is a web app, that is), Blogger depends upon the reliability of your Internet connection, and if you're attempting to use the application from a public WiFi access point, where your wireless 'Net access may come and go depending upon how many of your fellow caffeine addicts are sharing the connection, you may find yourself wishing for a more simple solution.
Enter Google Docs, a set of writing applications I am using for the first time today. The applications are web apps, similar to Blogger (and owned by the same company, Google), but they seem -- at least, upon first glance -- more intended for the task of writing, rather than blogging. That is, they seem -- and perhaps this is wishful thinking, on my part -- more simply able to handle the task of rightly writing. (I realize that last phrase probably doesn't make much sense, at least in a legitimate classic use of the English language, but it does makes sense when you consider that the word processing feature we now use in Google Docs was once known as a service called Writely. That is, before it was acquired by Google. Alright? Right...onword, then!) The Google Docs word processing application I'm using to type this sentence seems, for example, more equipped at handling the task of simply writing your thoughts out and having them automatically saved as you plunge forward with your writing of that Great American Novel (or Blog).
Still, there's the 'Net reliability thing again. Since Google Docs are web apps, they count on your Internet connection, and perhaps just as much as Blogger does. (Maybe more so, even -- I don't know yet.) So only time will tell whether my use of Google Docs proves simpler to use than Blogger. If a flaky WiFi connection disrupts the saving of the documents I compose using the service, then I may have to resume the cat-and-mouse chase sooner than I'm hoping. Yet if it turns out that the service works well, continuing to perform more reliably (and in a simpler manner) than Blogger, than perhaps I'll be able to rest with my cheese for awhile.
Money. "Money money money mo-ney...money!!!" Aargh, it's the root. Of all evil. Nothing new to tell you there. But sometimes you feel it more than at other times. I mean, really feel it. Like when you're behind on your rent. Well, I suppose it doesn't feel like the root of all evil when the rent's due, but it sure doesn't feel nice. It feels mean. (Though my landlords are nice, they fix my locks, so it's not like they're mean or anything, they simply seem to forget to perform some maintenance from time to time, and they don't screen prospective tenants very well...but I digress.)
Lemme start over. Money feels like it's the root of all evil when you want to visit your mom but can't because you don't have enough money to pay the rent, let alone the transportation and meal expenses for the day spent with The Woman Who Gave Birth To You. But that's bullshit, you realize, when you think of the money you spent on that expensive computer part last month. Was your mom in your thoughts when you PayPal'ed that money to that eBay seller, dude? Evil is when your mind is consumed with guilt, shame, sadness, and pain due to your lack of a clams, your inability to horde the coinage.
One thing about working from a public WiFi hotspot: You never know what (performance) you're going to get. I signed up for AT&T's WiFi service at a local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf location yesterday and let me tell you, between the time it's takes for me to finally connect and the moment I really get going -- you know, checking my email, firing up my Instant Messenger apps, surfing the web & stuff -- by the time I'm able to get past AT&T's login screens and on to the real Internet, I'm ready for a second cup of coffee and a cigarette. (And I'm not a smoker, so that should tell you something.)
Hopefully I haven't lost you yet; I'm posting about this particular geekery today because it is what is foremost on my mind at the moment (besides my inability to be generally satisfied with life, the universe, and everything -- but that's another matter and we'll reserve it for a future post). The problem, if you haven't figured it out yet, is with AT&T's WiFi service is the login screen -- the entire login process, really. Truth be told, I use a rather old PowerBook, and my web surfing takes a bit more time using this machine than your typical recent laptop or MacBook. But still -- the length of time it takes to get through an AT&T WiFi connection is ridiculous. It shouldn't take 30 minutes to get logged in and on to a real website! In comparison, it only took 3 minutes to boot and log into an IM client, open my Gmail and open up a website using my mobile phone's Internet service! Yet truly, that's how long it took -- 30 minutes or so -- using AT&T WiFi this morning.
This isn't my typical experience with public WiFi. Using T-Mobile's WiFi at Starbuck's, it usually takes me no longer than 20 minutes to get up and running. (I jest; it usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes -- but a great deal of that time is spent booting up my old PowerBook, a 3-boot/step process I will spare you the details of.) T-Mobile's login process feels like a Porsche in comparison to the 1972 Volkswagen Beetle of AT&T's login screens. It seems that T-Mobile simply has a lighter interface; perhaps it's using a great deal less AJAX-inspired communication between its servers than AT&T. (Okay, if I haven't lost you yet, now I've really lost you.) It is my (Not So) Humble Opinion that AT&T WiFi would serve its customers well by putting its login screen(s) on a diet, leaning up the size of its data transmissions (or something). That way I can get to the information I want, as quickly as possible, without having to check my watch my daily dose of video podcasts using my phone.
There's this place I've been visiting off and on these past several years, the Un-Urban Coffeehouse in West L.A. (on Pico & Urban). I stopped in yesterday, and like many afternoons, found the place quiet, the atomosphere lending itself to anyone wishing to read or write or work in peace. I purchased a double latte and two muffins -- I don't usually purchase much else besides a straight cup of coffee when I visit my local Starbucks, but I like to go for the gusto when I'm visiting the independent houses -- and asked the barista how business was. Her reply: "Not so great -- at least, not in the daytime." She went on to tell me the space's rent had just gone up several hundred dollars, a sharp increase for this small business. (She also noted that some of the neighboring businesses had recently shut down, probably due to the either the elevating rent and/or lack of interest. For example, a once-popular record store across the street had just closed.)
I've been thinking for some time now that the UnUrban would be a great place to begin a coworking arrangement of some sort. The place is cozy, dressed like a funky home. You know: Mismatched furniture, colorful walls, bookcases, chinese lamps, rotating ceiling lamps, table lamps of various sizes and shapes, a small stage with an old piano and speakers mounted on the ceiling...There's even a few rows of movie or playhouse seats, perfect for screenings or presentations.
And, of course, good coffee and treats, and free wireless Internet access.
I believe the owner would be willing to make some type of arrangement to allow us to cowork here. This is simply a guess, of course, but I know they've already got some type of arrangement with other groups. For example, they have a 12-Step group come in early every mornings, 7 days of the week. The book bands and art openings on the weekends. So the afternoons: Since business is slow after noon (until the evenings, when they have a long-running Open Mic every night), perhaps we could arrange something for the midday coworking sessions. I believe this place would be a great place to work, or collaborate: Yesterday I was looking for a nice, peaceful, un-Starbuck-like place to settle in the afernoon, and I found just what I was looking for in UnUrban's "living room" environment. There's both dark and light areas in the space, so you can even take a nap or relax in quiet in one room while others hang in the daylight of the other room, where there's lots of open air. I'm not saying it's always quiet -- certainly, the evenings pick up -- but it's usually a calm location during the day, perfectly suitable for getting some work done.
Unfortunately, I fear this place won't be around too much longer if the owner doesn't generate some type of extra income. With some of us looking for a space to hang (and work), the Un-Urban could be just the place for a perfect partnership. So I invite you to open your favorite search engine to dig up a few articles about the place - or better yet, to swing by the coffeehouse sometime, have a cup of Joe or latte, and simply check out the environment. That way you'll get a better feel for the place. The Un-Urban Coffee is just down the street from (and east of) Santa Monica College, north of Ocean Park, across the street from a Trader Joe's market. The address is 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica (though some may consider it West L.A.), CA, 90045. Phone number: (310) 315-0056
Here's one article about the Un-Urban, just to prove I'm not making this stuff up:
With emerging services like AutoTwit, it's almost like you're not even personally responsible for being a twit anymore, since the service takes over for you. I'm not going to explain any further; I'm already uncertain about Evan & Co.'s motives behind the naming of their service.*
(I'm still sore about something to do with Odeo that I really needn't/shouldn't be holding a grudge about. My feelings were simply hurt in an email exchange with Evan, but looking back today, I recognize that it's really not necessary for me to have been affected by the correspondence in such a way.)
*I wanted to add the following to the first paragraph, but removed the passage:
That's a joke, fuckers. (See how I abuse you gals? Those of you who take the time to subscribe and/or read and post comments to this blog? I remind you, or warn you, if I've not made it clear in the past, that this is a very unstable project. Curated by an even less stable. You know. Author, or something.)
I decided to remove the passage not because I care how it affects you, but because I thought that it distracted from the content of the second paragraph of this post, which I felt was more important for you to gather. I still think you're all a bunch of lazy fucks who watch too much television and twitter away about less-than-meaningless things. You should all pick up a book once in awhile, it'll do your brain some proper damage. Who am I to judge, though? I'm the Biggest Fucker Of Them All, who seems to enjoy scaring people away...(I'm working on the intimacy thing with my psychiatrist, so don't you worry your little heart, now.)
It's amazing the range of topics I can span in one moderately-sized post.
One thing you gather when you spend more than half a week in jail is a renewed sense of perspective.
(Quick aside: I just Googled around for a good prison adage to apply here, but I wasn't able to find one relevant enough to insert in my post without it seeming forced. In fact, at the time of this posting, a search for "prison adage" returns only about 29 results. I find it somewhat remarkable that only 29 web documents contain the phrase...Perhaps more prisoners need to blog?)
Obviously, incarceration is not intended to be a fun experience; prisoners are, after all, being confined in order to punish them or, at the very least, curtail their unlawful behavior. But fun is a relative concept; what's floats one fellow's boat may instead choke another bloke's goat.
A nuclear blast: flood of light, scorched eyes, scritch-scratch on vinyl, a shout in the chaos, it's the jailer's commands, Everybody Up, scritch-scratch, scritch (Oh, the mattresses), people are moving (I think I'll just sleep in), a jostled leg, an inmate's voice It's breakfast, getupman followed by the jailer I said ev-err-ee-bah-dee up!!! Scritch-scratch-zlit, Line up single file, anyone's still on a mattress noh-bah-dee gets breakfast...
I'm in the top bunk, for a few seconds I look down unclear about my circumstance, the concrete below seems perilously distant. Noh-bah-dee gets breakfast. Nobody wants to be the one who screws it up for everyone else. Not here, not in Dangerland. I take an unsteady leap (Where are my shoes?), I stumble into the line (Am I cutting in front of someone?), my head is caving in, too much rum, I'm collapsing in dizziness and nausea, suspicious of my stomach. Urine on the floor soaks through my socks. (Where are my damn shoes?)
Later I find, some of the inmates seem to think this is all some kind of fun, an amusing diversion, a Festival of Humiliating Delights. A "vacation", one fellow described it. Others seemed (acted?) proud of their incarceration, the time they'd end up serving in Twin Towers. It's hard to tell who's real, who's bullshitting. Facing real time, what else you gonna do? Cry about it? Probably too dangerous for that in here. Act tough. Be tough. Or suffer, more than you can imagine. What's not to like about life in Hell? I want to cry but I'm too afraid.
Did I mention that my girlfriend shat in her pants just a few minutes after I did the same? It's true -- and what makes the event even more interesting is the fact that she's never done it before. So the day she decides to push a fart too hard, it's (one of) the same day(s) that I do the deed! Isn't that wonderful?
What Chris doesn't realize is that there's another player involved in this: me. I can now publicly announce that I, Harold "H.J." Johnson, am currently making a bid for that once-thriving Internet service provider, America Online. Once I've made the purchase, I plan to bring down Earthlink, once and for all. That's it. That's my entire plan, to bring down Earthlink, because Earthlink is currently screwing me, and I'll tell you how: they're charging me monthly for dialup Internet service that I'm not using, that I've never used - and they refuse to allow me to cancel my account without charging me for 12 months of service.
"Please hold while we connect you to the next available representative..."
I have now been on a phonecall with Earthlink for over two hours, and I have yet to speak with a representative about my issue. I have been transferred from one department to another, at least ten times, maybe more, in the following order: From
Handheld Devices and Laptop Cards at (888) 304-2773
Wifi Sales at (888) 303-3843
Earthlink's Main line (apparently) at (888) 327-8454
??? at ??? (Perhaps I'm in the Twilight Zone at this point; the representative told me I could reach the Zone again by dialing  890-5128)
Wireless Tech Support/Home Networking Dept. at (800) 895-0620
Wi-Fi Sales (again) at (888) 304-2773
W--Okay, you get the picture. I'm being jerked around. From here, I'll be transferred a few more times, until I finally reach the limits of my exasperation, ending the call with a less-than-courteous representative...
It began a few months ago, when I made an impulse purchase for a laptop I couldn't afford. I was enticed by an offer made possible by a partnership between Earthlink and a smaller computer maker, Microtel. The offer? A $400 laptop, subsidized by a one-year agreement to purchase Earthlink dialup Internet. At the time I noticed the offer, I was at a weak point in my life; I'd been "financially challenged" for some time, and desirous of a laptop I could take out of the house to do my work. I envisioned productive days at the local coffee shop, typing away at my laptop's keyboard, working on my resume and inspired by the caffeinated atmosphere. Perhaps I'd make some valuable contacts Outside, since I certainly wasn't making much progress At Home. Too many distractions...So I jumped on the offer, ponying up $400 and agreeing to a one-year contract with Earthlink.
Next day, I awoke, soberly realizing I couldn't possible afford this purchase. I called Microtel: "Buyer's Remorse?" the customer service agent inquired, to which - somewhat abashedly - I agreed. The agent swiftly cancelled my order and reversed the $400 charge made to my bank card.
I then immediately called Earthlink and requested a cancellation: "Certainly," the agent responded, "But it'll cost you..." Apparently I would be charged a hefty penalty for this particular Change of Heart, even though it took place within 24 hours. After a bit of protest, I retired the call and decided to save the argument for another day.
That day came, The Day of Protest, and after being given The Runaround for well over two hours, I finally threw in the towel and decided - once again - to continue the conversation on another day. It's been months since then, and I'm once again ready to pick up the argument. You see, I've been paying Earthlink every month since early Summer for an account I've never used, and I believe Earthlink should have allowed me to cancel my account without penalty - especially since I had requested to do so within 24 hours of my purchase. Contract or not, it seems to me that Earthlink's business practices are a bit shady, and I aim to correct them.
Help me if you can. Send me your ideas, Skype me (haroldjohnson) your encouragement or criticism, Google Talk (email@example.com) me your advice - and I'll post it here (if you'd like). What can I do to reverse my (mis)fortune? How can I fix this situation? I'll appreciate any assistance you can offer, provided it's within legal boundaries. (Even if it's not, I'm sure it'll be entertaining to hear your feedback on this!)
On the way to the check-cashing place...wait a minute, did I already tell this story before? The one about the panic attack on the bus? The one where I found myself lying on a car seat in an auto dealership, surrounded by paramedics? I have a feeling I already told this one before, but since I haven't been able to locate the entry, I'm not certain. I'd hate to bore you with a re-telling. Of course, my perspective of the event is bound to be different now, so you may still find it interesting...
I've lived in Los Angeles all of my thirtysomething years, and until now, I haven't known the name of the tallest building in my own city. Does that seem strange? Probably to you New Yorkers or denizens of the Windy City. Maybe I'm remarkable, or maybe folks in L.A. simply don't care about their skyscrapers as much. This Angeleno, for one, doesn't view our skyscrapers as symbolic of our city, or at least, not as absolutely symbolic. Like our eastern and midwestern counterparts, most of our tallest buildings are also located downtown; yet with Los Angeles being so incredibly widespread, this doesn't qualify them as suitable representatives of our great city.
Unlike New York, there is no center in Los Angeles, and the downtown area is simply one of many business centers people work in. Citizen L.A. is spread out from downtown through the Wilshire Corridor and Miracle Mile all the way to the ocean and north to the valley, east to Pasadena, south to the southbay and a multitude of locations in-between. What we refer to as L.A. is not just the City of Los Angeles; it is Los Angeles County. Downtown is just another reststop in the landscape of L.A., unlike New York, whose downtown is the city.
Perhaps another tall one would put us in the really big time, but L.A. doesn't need another skyscraper -- we've got alot of gorgeous short architecture throughout the county.
I once posted, in this space (this right column), the following:
If I had friends they would be listed here
That particular bit o' text, that silly and idiotic phrase, was repeated
a dozen or two dozen or so times and was intended to be temporary.
I had been working on a project -- a new layout for this blog -- and had
intended for that text to be placeholder content. That is, the text was supposed to
temporarily replace the content that had previously occupied this column (which was a list of links to friends --
that is, other blogs and web sites I linked to). I didn't know what content I was going to place into that (this)
space, so I placed a bunch of duplicate phrases here as a placeholder so that I would remember to fill in this space again later.
At the same time, I thought I was being cute with the heading:
NEW & IMPROVED FRIENDS!
The fact remains: I still don't know what content to put here,
in this column. Links again? Pictures? Video? Audio? Ads? Oh, hell no! It hasn't come to me yet, but I'm sure it will eventually, and when it does it'll come quick and (as usual) with consequences.
*Basically, this indicates you may do whatever you like with the content on this website
except profit financially from it. However, if you are from one of the poorer nations of this world, particularly Nigeria,
please contact me with as much e-mail as you possibly can detailing financial offers I may take into consideration. I am
particularly interested in the transfer of large sums of money. Please also keep in mind the fact that my penis is quite tiny.