Être, ou ne pas être?

Yesterday in English class we had a discussion about existentialism and its relevance to Richard Wright’s work Black Boy. Althought the discussion was mostly pro crustean, I did learn something interesting: I think like an existentialist. My teacher was explaining what she considered the four basic tenants of existentialism to me, and it fit me to a tee. I find it fascinating that there is name for the way I see things. That was a major discovery for me.

On a more technical (or nerdy) note, I have decided to undertake a (possibly) mammoth task: I am goiing to convert Greymatter to ASP. I hate the available free CGI servers (this site is currently on Portland), and want to be able to use Brinkster or .net Playground (my favorite). So last night I printed the 124 pages of gm.cgi and the various amount of pages that makes up the other CGI files and am going to size up the project after I post this.

Roger Levy’s Reckless Sleep

The debut book of Roger Levy, this science fiction novel tells of an Earth near its ecological end, where the air is nearly unbreathable and the citizens are chronically depressed escapists. The main character, Jon Sciler, is called a Far Warrior, part of a troop sent to retake a planet needed for colonization several years ago. They failed, however, and the Earth is bitter as a result, ostracizing the Far Warriors, who are now prone to suicide. Sciler finds himself suspicious of a friend’s suicide, and seeks to discover what is really killing the Far Warriors.

First impression upon finishing this book: this is Matrix on crack. Or ecstacy. The mixing of reality with virtual reality, the question of which was real or not, etc., was familiar to other books and movies I have read/seen. But it was well executed in this case, and full of suspense. The only problem was the confusion evoked. Many stories, books, movies, whatever start with some event or problem (like a murder) to get the audience’s attention and keep it, then explain the conditions causing the problem. However, for the explaination to take place on page 94 of a 350 page book struck me as a little weird. That’s 94 pages of “what the heck is going on?”. From there, until the end portion of the book, the plot moved smoothly, keeping the suspense of who was behind the deaths, what would happen in the Jon’s love life, what was reality versus virtual reality, etc. The ending, however… Very rarely has a book so confused me. I can follow some of the threads that lead to the conclusion, like Chrye’s death and the ultimate fight between Jon and the villian (whose name I shall not reveal), but the entire afterlife scene seems to have come from a thread with a gap in it. It seems stretched given the information previously mentioned about Dirangesept.

Would I recommend this book? With reservations, yes. This is a book to be read carefully, then reread, in order to understand its nuances and subtlies of plot and character. But the character development is great, and the “setting” to support the theme of reality versus illusion (namely, the soldiers’ plight) is excellent. Certain things could have done with a little more exploration or rearranging, but I will defintely be keeping up with Roger Levy for future books.


First, a brief (yeah, right!) recap of the high point of my day. We had an extremely funny substitute today for my Calculus teacher during first block. It was this old black man who was the most scatterbrained person I have ever met (he could even beat Mrs. Serb, for those who know her). He liked to just come up with random things to say to random people, like, “So, do you think you’ll ever be on that millionaire show?” (leading to confusion between which millionaire show he was talking about.) The thing is, my class is about 65% juniors (and friggin’ immature juniors at that, but today that was to my amusement), and this joker had a laugh like Spongebob. Yes, that machine-gun repetitive, loud Spongebob Squarepants laugh coming out of this nice elderly man with nothing but the best intentions. But the immature juniors in my class (and some of the seniors) felt it would be great to make a little fun of him (harmlessly). So he’s standing there, talking with about half the class in a conversation prone to jump randomly (because of both his scatterbrained-ness and the students laughing too hard to keep up their trains of thought), and he tells a little joke that isn’t really funny, then starts laughing. But that whole group of folks start laughing… just like he laughs. And as anyone who knows me will know, at his second laugh I’m already red in the face, tearing up, and practically lying on the floor from laughter (and I’m all the way across the room). He wandered around the room for about an hour, talking with most of the people, all of whom imitated him and quietly made fun of him. And he never caught on. I would have felt bad for him (Michael did) if it hadn’t been so friggin’ funny. My stomach was hurting at the end of Calc and I laughed randomly through the next class’ test. Then I had another dose of Mr. Giggley during my Statistics class (same missing teacher). That is definitely the highlight of my week thus far, despite the fact that I eyes are gritty from a lack of sleep (which only contributes to my silliness and the ease with which I lose control). And it’s only Wednesday of the first week back from a long break. Dare I say, “oy”?

A more serious set of thoughts that has been plaguing me over the past few days deals in part with the rat, my little sister. She’s three, an age that I have vivid memories of (but then, I have a memory like an elephant anyway). It’s no secret that my father and I treat her like crap. Neither of us are the children type, and have the tendency to like to play with things that can be “put away” when we don’t want them to bother us. While I almost never play with her, my father does more often. But he also works at home often, and his desk is in the living room, making it easily accessible. Much of the time when he’s home, he’s not really here. A couple of days ago, I overheard him telling the rat when he got home (around 7:00 maybe) that he would play with her in a little while. Well, a little while came and went, and the rat has to go to bed around 8 o’clock or so. He wanted to play around 7:50. When my mother made the “lights out” call, the rat pitched a fit. I have rarely seen her so upset, unless after a bad dream when our mother isn’t there. She tantrumed, she screamed, she cried. She stayed in bed crying until about 9:00.

This reminded me so much of my younger days, because I do have vivid memories of such times. My father would come home after I’ve already been put to bed, and he would come in and tell me he would be in to give me a hug “in a minute”, as in after his shower. I would lie awake for hours, watching the clock, and he would take a shower, go eat dinner, mess around on his PC, watch some TV, etc., and never come see me. I was no older than 3, maybe 4 at the oldest, because I wasn’t in school yet. I used to stay in bed and cry quietly, because I hated pissing off my parents, fearing they might spank me.

My memories of things like this color my everyday interactions (rare as they are) with my father. I almost never trust him to keep a promise, and rely on him for very little other than the basic survival stuff. That may seem harsh, given that the stuff mentioned above happened about 15 years ago, but it happened repeatedly, and with so many different things. My father has the selective memory of a bratty teenager, barely remembering his own anniversary or appointments to do things with his family, yet has learned (and can use with no reference guides) several programming languages and always remembers things like when he gets to get out of the house and be free.

So will the rat’s life be a repetition of mine? It’s possible. My parents were already middle aged when they had her (my mother was 40, and father was 44), and how often do middle-aged adults radically change their ways? They’re set in being as free as they have been since I was six and could stay home by myself. They still go to movies every weekend (often twice), leaving me (with what nonexistant patience I have) with a nightmare-prone three year old. I never learned how to really change diapers; that’s how close I am to her. Maybe she’ll learn to forgive and forget better than I ever did.

I’m going back to where I came from
So far away, but not so far from home
Where I lay my head down by the sea
I’m going back to where’d go
So far away, but not so far from home
Where I’d rest, where I’d lay so peacefully

But by the way,
I want a break, and want to put this stress aside
But above all things I want to lay by the Oceanside
The ocean waves, no other way, get away
Well I’m finding!
Oh no, my daily worries want to drift away, Fine!
Dying and trying just to find some sort of piece of mind
Now’s the time, to get away, I’m going away!

No other place to go, I’ve got to get away, let’s get away! Away…
So far away, and dowdy on the beach
I want to clear my head and bake it in the warm sunshine
Want to relay relaxation […]. (“One More Minute”, Authority Zero)

An Itch to Scratch

This is just a quick entry before I begin my eons worth of homework tonight. I decided to comment in Sonny’s blog today, just a simple post about not knowing who Avril Lavigne is. He probably won’t even notice it.

I got to talk to my old buddy Anthony today. He’s grown up quite a bit since… hell, since last year. No more humping on trash cans and sprinklers in front of theaters. Ninth grade was so fun and carefree, yet despite that, I miss it, but I don’t want it back. A lot of bad crap happened that year (and tenth grade year too). I kind of don’t even want back the camraderie I had with M.K., Micah, etc. during those days. We’re all so “grown up” these days.

In Theory of Knowledge (our little IB philosophy class) today, we were discussing divorce using an article written back in 1987 by Helen Fisher. She provided evidence that our “high” rates of divorce in countries around the world (around 50%) may not be high. There is evidence to support that the desire the change partners after around 4 years biologically based, and so our divorce rates may be biologically normal, or even low. Anywho, we’re sitting there debating this, including references to evolution and other anthropological stuff, and I’m looking at my IB acquaintance Mark. Background info: Mark is a devout, conservative Christian that believes that the Earth is about 4000 years old, women belong at home (and in the kitchen a good bit), etc., etc. I wanted to ask him so badly what he thinks of this, personally. For instance, does he think biologist/anthropologists are mistaken in their theories of evolution/human development, does he think it’s Satan’s subtle work to demoralize and degrade humanity, or what? And I can’t ask him, because I don’t know him that well, but for him to have such “fundy” views, yet to be so smart (he’s probably our valedictorian), I have to wonder how he reconciles the two views. I know he chose to take physics rather than biology as his higher-level science and everything, but does he just automatically discount things taught in biology that don’t correspond to the Bible, or does he consider them, find them lacking in some logical value that would make them truth, then discount them? There are a couple of other IB students (that actually take biology) that I would ask the same questions, but they aren’t as… introspective as I think Mark can be. The article comes from the October 1987 issue of Natural History and is titled “The Four-Year Itch”.

Revisionist History

I revising a statement I made previously: Micah is only annoying about 40% of the time. With Micah, these types of ratios are prone to frequent change, as anyone who knows him can probably verify (although there do seem to be those few people that don’t find him annoying at all, it seems; I’ll never understand them, nor can I usually stand them).


taking joy in human unreason