The following are archives of the introductions I've written for Cogitatus Extrarius, aka Random Thoughts. I suppose it's worth pointing out that since Latin sounds so damned cool, I've resorted to looking up the Latin translation for normal words. Thus: Cogitatus for "thought" and Tabularium for "archive" or "archived thoughts." Am I clever? ...Don't answer that.
It's also worth noting that this is not necessarily a complete archive of introductions since the beginning of the site in July of 1996. As of the creation of this page, I've subjected this site to one URL change, one name change and a few introductions. It's amazing what you can do when you get bored doing phone tech support (blech!).
DISCLAIMER: The following are brief (well...sometimes) essays written by me based on what was going on and my mood at the time. Most of them include links which may or may not still be valid when you read this. All other disclaimers apply. You have been warned.
|I'm celebrating June 26, 1997. That's because WE WON! The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court, and Congress was advised not to attempt to legislate the Internet. Not that I intend to gloat about it or anything, but to all you Moral Majority busybodies out there I'd like to send a big virtual raspberry in your direction. Hi, Mom.|
With the rise of popularity for the Internet and the amount of information flowing freely around the world, you would think that intelligent, conscientious individuals would learn some tolerance for each other and, more importantly, learn to take a joke. Obviously, that particular utopia is nowhere in sight. Freedom of speech is becoming more widely accepted around the world in political and social matters, but religion? Oy, what a piece of work is man! The Bard knew what he was talking about.
Of course, you'd like to know what I'm ranting and raving about now. It seems that someone on AOL had enough imagination and creativity to come up with a parody of the Koran (a book which is the Islamic counterpart to the Christian's Bible, FYI), and "scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo" threatened to sue AOL over it. AOL, in a sterling example of leadership and loyalty to their clients, has removed the site claiming violation of terms of service because the site is "anti-Islamic." Suppose someone came up with a parody of the Bible (in fact, I know people have; some of them are my best friends). Would we allow the Moral Majority (hi, Mom!) to censor it? Of course not, and with good reason! Religion has many good points to it: providing people with stability, moral guidelines and an overall sense of security that they (not those heathens over there) are going to be taken care of in the afterlife. Unfortunately, religion has also caused the most frequent and violent wars in all of human history, and is commonly used as an excuse to suppress independent thought and opinion in today's world. Do I have a grudge against religions in general? Oh yes. This is why I'm agnostic, and proud of it. For those of you nitwits that confuse agnostic with athiest, I believe in God, but I think She has a sense of humor. She let you live, after all.
I saw the movie What Dreams May Come in mid-October. It's a stunningly well-done movie, and definitely good for the eyes. The images are really good, and while the plot may be predictable, the emotional impact is such that you're not really paying attention to the fact that you know what's coming next, you're really enjoying how they get there. For me, there's just one problem.
Suppose you had a soulmate. Suppose you found your soulmate, and your soulmate found you. Nirvana, right? Well, suppose that all this happened, and then for any number of reasons, you lost your soulmate and couldn't get that person back. Lost forever. This movie posed that question to me, and I really wish they hadn't. I'm fairly certain they didn't do it on purpose; there are other factors in my life to prompt that question. But still the question remains: what do I do now? It's a been bothering me ever since I saw the movie, and it's reopened some old wounds I wish had remained closed. What do you do with half a soul?
The other day I received the following email from a fellow I don't now named Shane. The message is as follows:
What a wonderful site! I'll write more later. I found your site through that page of hyposcrisy, www.sounddoctrine.com. Talk to you later!To me, this kind of feedback is a mixed blessing. Of course I immediately went to the aforementioned site to look for the link to my page. I didn't find it, though I found the page was precisely what I feared it to be: a Baptist sermon page. I was Baptist once. I was in training to become a Baptist preacher. I was leading songs for the congregation, giving sermons in school and generally being mentored by a bright, energetic and pleasant fellow who was (at the time) Assistant Pastor. I got better, honest. Whenever I have the urge to sing a gospel hymn, I sit quietly and let the urge go away. It doesn't take long.
If you haven't noticed by now, my views on organized religion are akin to my views on soiled diapers: they were necessary in the beginning, but you don't want to keep them around any longer than you have to. Sure, I believe there's a God out there. The problem is, lots of other people believe there's a God (or Gods, as many of my Wiccan friends will remind me) but there are so many interpretations of who or what God is that the waters are indelibly muddled. This wouldn't be so much of a problem, if the various religions didn't loudly proclaim that THEIRS is the ONE TRUE WAY, and all other ways are doomed to Hell. Many of the Christian organizations will even point to the same Bible verse as justification. It's one of the reasons I'm attracted to (but not necessarily following) Eastern philosophy: everyone has a different opinion, and if all of those opinions are wrong, who is to say yours is right? I was once told that two preachers disagreed over the interpretation of a text of scripture so much that they went to court over it. What amazes me first of all is that any judge was insane enough to allow the trial. However, the story goes that after hearing the arguments of both sides the idiot judge went on to say that God was awfully confused. I think he got part of it right.
As mentioned, I believe in God. Do I believe in Heaven? Probably. It's almost an ingrained habit, and I haven't decided what I think of that. Do I believe in Hell? I subscribe to the logic that if there is a Heaven, there must be a Hell. The problem is, I make absolutely no claims regarding how one definitively reaches one place or another. Nor will I make any definitive claims on the gender or even nature of God. God could be a polytheistic collection of ancient mythological gods lounging around and playing dice with human lives and souls. God could be a will-o-the-wisp wandering around spreading love everywhere and trying to get everyone to be good. God could be an angry thundercloud casting judgment on everyone who falls short of perfection, or at least redemption. God could be a collection of elementals representing the various forces of nature. God could be an all-encompassing energy field created by the people who worship it. God could be all sorts of things, and I can't honestly say I prefer one image to another. Nor will I accept that a small majority (big as the Catholic Church is, it still doesn't represent the entire world; the Chinese immediately spring to mind) has a lock on the one true way to Eternal Bliss.
Perverse soul that I am (I'm proud to say that I've been accused of having the mind of a pimp), I went to a Christian chatroom to ask a simple question: what is Christian? This is ignoring the possibility that other religions such as Wicca or the newly revived Assitru have any validity (a fact I don't discount, mind you, but Christian chatrooms are easier to find). The answers I got were multifold, mostly centering on accepting Christ and obeying His Word. Okay, so how do you do that? Every single religion differs on how this is done, and even a majority of Catholics don't even worship or believe the same as all the others. No two answers were the same, and once attempts at logic failed (I'm not even going to go there), I was told that I would simply have to accept the Holy Spirit before I could understand.
And my mother wonders why I won't speak to her anymore.
It occurs to me that the manner in which I deal with my emotions may be slightly unique. For years I've practiced a level of self control that prompted a high school friend to nickname me "Mr. Spock." It was his opinion that I could get laid for the first time and talk about it with the same straight face and calm inflection that I use in everyday conversation. Frankly, this degree of control ought to be self-defeating, resulting either in some very spectacular bouts of graphic violence or ulcers. In fact, I suffer from neither.
Anger, greed, jealousy and depression are constant companions, an integral part of all of our lives. People have developed all sorts of coping mechanisms to try to deal with these harsh emotions and try not to allow them to rule their lives. Everyone succeeds to greater or lesser extents. I had a friend who had extreme difficulty controlling any of her emotions, good or bad. She has, at present, lived over forty years without any solid coping mechanisms for her inner turmoil. I attempted to explain to her my method for keeping myself in check without becoming a biological robot. Unfortunately, all efforts to help her failed, and she eventually blew up to the point that I am no longer willing to risk contact with her. From what she claims, nothing works. I consider that a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I'm hearing more and more about people who want to control themselves and their emotions, but they can't. They find that their emotions rule them, rather than the reverse. On the flip side, I recently spoke with another woman who also has trouble restraining her emotions, but feels that this is a good thing. She feels that by not restraining her passions when they erupt, she experiences greater peaks and depths of emotion than everyone else. I don't doubt this; there's logic to this statement. It also makes her extremely volatile, unpredictable and less than popular.
The two of us represent some very extreme ends of the emotional spectrum. I deal with my emotions by ensuring they won't dominate my behavior, and she deals with her emotions by letting them fly and not bottling them up where they might hurt her. We're both fairly healthy individuals, though I'm not qualified to speak for the stability of either of our mental and emotional states. But emotions help define who and what we are. If you think about someone befriending you and using that trust to steal from you, you figure you'll probably be angry. If an extremely popular and desireable member of your preferred sex walks up to you and compliments you on the way you look, you expect to feel happy and flattered. If someone takes something you feel belongs to you, you're going to want it back. These are all emotions that drive us and motivate us throughout every day to varying degrees depending on circumstances.
Thus, we have a big fuss over emotions. Civilization is, to a degree, a sort of communal reinforcement of desireable emotions and a punishment for undesireable emotions. We're taught to play nice with others, share our things and not be hurtful to each other. But our very natures are screaming for us to do what's right for us, and forget the other guy who has what we want. Such social niceties help us interact with each other resulting in a minimum of bloodshed, but it means we must fight ourselves and our instincts. The fact that we can do so separates us from the other animals who must behave their pre-programmed responses, or at least raise us up as a higher order of animal. But it's as big a deal as anything else in our lives, and takes up so much energy it's a wonder we accomplish anything else.
Am I unusual? Ego aside, probably not all that unusual. There are as many people with good control over their emotions as there are with not, but the ones without much control earn more attention. As I like to say, we all have the potential for all the greatest good and all the greatest evil ever known to mankind. It's within our power to choose which side of the spectrum we wish to pursue.
Browsing the Internet, like any other addiction, gets palling after a while. You get tired of the same old things, the bad grammar, the almost-creative content. I'm a fan of the original Highlander movie with Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery and Clancy Brown. In all honesty, I was most impressed with Clancy Brown as the Kurgan, which is why I took his name as my Net Personae for nearly eight years. I still have friends around the world who know me exclusively as "Kurgan." I'm the original wanna-be, accept no substitutions. For a while, I was on a serious Highlander fanfic (translation: fan-written fiction) kick, and was reading them almost every day. Certainly every day I was at work. Then I ran out of good stories (sorry, guys) to read, and have sort of drifted off. Of course, not before I was inspired/kicked to write Almost, at least partially to prove that it IS possible to write fanfic without creating unbelievably powerful/suave/infallible characters that, except for the extended lifespan, could be you or I. But (as usual), I digress.
The addiction fades, and you're left yearning for something else. There is some good fanfic being written, and some good fanfic yet to be written, but it ceases to hold much fascination for me anymore. But now that I've moved on, I've got to have something else to do with my free time as I babysit the phones for Halliburton. At one point, researching information for my Live Action game Sanguis Priscus, I ran across the Seven Deadly Sins Homepage. It's extremely dry, tongue-in-cheek humor that pokes fun at what the Moral Majority (hi, Mom!) consider fatally serious material. I admire anyone that can poke fun at such things, so I read through the site. I discovered that the fellow keeps a semi-frequent journal online, and the insights into his thoughts and perspectives are frequently quite fascinating. He then went on to link to other journals, such as Firedrake's page. From there, I found Alaina's page. Of them all, so far, I'm finding Alaina's page the most engrossing. This may be due to some sort of romantic notion (fool that I am), but what she writes captures my attention.
A lot of what drives me is the concept of love. A few years ago, when asked to describe myself in one word, the word was "love." I'm talking about far more than roses, perfume and sweaty bodies. Love defines and motivates me to an unbelievable degree. It forms the foundation for most of my philosophy at a very root level. So how does this pertain to Alaina? Good question. In her journals, she occasionally makes brief mention of men, without getting close enough to incriminate anyone (especially herself). But she writes about some vague romantic notions and emptiness that I can sympathize with. If you've followed my random thoughts (or archives) with any regularity, this should be quite familiar to you. It's an ache that's been with me for a long time, and is only occasionally forgotten but never healed.
So how do I define love? That's something I've never successfully done. I know how I deal with it, I know how I feel it, I know how impossible it is to pin down. It's caring about someone. It's sacrificing my well-being to ensure theirs. It's being happy because they're happy. It's wooing them with every ounce of charm in my body, and being content with a kiss on the hand and letting go. It's hot, sweaty sex and a long intimate conversation over pasta. It's about recognizing a new place in my heart completely distinct and separate where they reside simultaneously with all the others. Love is all these things and more. It's as simple as a friend and as complex as a romantic relationship. The boundaries between a simple "friend" and a "lover" are extremely thin; I do not believe in monogamy as a default assumption. I believe in it as a CHOICE, but not an assumption. It's that complex. It makes most people cross their fingers at me.
So what is love to you? Very likely, you don't have a better answer than that. I consider any answer with less than twenty words is suspect.
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT). Someone pointed this out to me (they probably got it from the Steve Jackson Games Home Page), and in looking it over I've decided they're quite serious, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. They claim that people have grown too populus, and are causing the death of the planet. The answer: voluntary extinction. Not through violence or any means other than simple, normal, natural processes. Let everyone die off normally, and don't produce any offspring. Humans have the intellect and the means to do this peaceably, rationally and quietly. They're aware this is a generational project. They advocate nothing beyond people willingly deciding not to have children so the planet can recover from the damage we've done to it.
This purports to be an environmentalist movement. The greatest danger to the planet is the human race, so get rid of the human race. Baby condors may not be as cute as baby humans, but baby condors don't pollute the environment to the degree that we can register a hole on the ozone layer of the atmosphere. You have to admit, they have a point there.
They continually remind people that this is intended to be a VOLUNTARY movement. They want everyone to maintain their own opinions and beliefs, and to coerce nobody. Of course this means the movement is doomed to failure. They're quite philosophical about it. They post all objections to the movement (which they accurately describe as pointless; if it's a voluntary movement rather than involuntary like gun control laws, why bother protesting it?), most of which boil down to "I should be allowed to breed because I'm just that important!" Nobody actually comes out and says this, but religious, scientific and philosophical reasons are given religious, scientific or philosophical answers in response. They're pretty good.
I'm also amused by the President of the Club. "Les U. Knight." Anybody else get the joke? I have no idea if this is a real individual or not. If this guy really does exist, you couldn't convince me that's his original name. Just a chuckle as an aside.
Okay, so why do I think this is a good idea? I happen to agree that the world is overcrowded. Humans push out all other animals in favor of their own "manifest destiny," which at present appears to make sure that everyone is standing (literally) on every square inch of solid ground on the globe. People seem to be of the opinion that this is no big deal. Biology teaches us that once an ecosystem is disrupted, everything up the food chain eventually dies. That means us.
Mostly, I believe voluntary extinction is a good cause for the exact same reason that I believe the cause will die. I have two rules concerning humans. Rule #1: people are inherently good. I have to believe this, or I can't sleep at night. But it's hard to believe this, which is why I have Rule #2: people are inherently stupid. Stupidity comes in many forms, and I am chief among the stupid people. I'll freely admit this. It gives me ammunition against the other stupid people (namely, all of them). Does this mean I think you're stupid? Damned straight. But I don't mean this in a hostile way.
People are mostly self-serving. Even most altruistic acts have some inner motivation that is self-serving. I can't even begin to count the number of people who did favors, and then got impatient when these favors weren't praised in every hall. This kind of self-interest motivates people to do some very odd things at times. Usually, they do so without thinking about other people's self-interest and end up doing something that is frequently interpreted as "bad." The problem is they weren't really TRYING to be bad, they simply weren't paying attention to all the consequences of their actions. Sometimes they weren't even paying attention to any of them. So men who rape are acting out of inherent self-interest, and pointedly ignoring the inherent self-interest of their victims.
This doesn't mean I have anything other than the most dire revulsion for rapists. It means I have an idea of why they do it. It means there are very few people I would really classify as evil, and not for the reasons others would. I believe that people are inherently good. I also believe that people are inherently stupid. The catch is that people's stupidity frequently masks their goodness. People are good, but you'd never know it from the way they act.
The only picture I have of myself is in my personal page. Haven't seen my personal page? Don't be surprised; I don't go out of my way to call attention to it. It is, as a matter of course, a quick discussion about me, who I am, what I'm interested in and a few details of what's going on around me. It also has an old, grainy picture of me taken when my friend Rob Witte was playing with his new digital camera.
Several years have passed, and the picture is now sorely out of date. Unfortunately, I don't think I look very good in pictures. Cameras do unkind things to me. In remaking myself over the past five years, that's one thing I have yet to fix. But I was talked into having new pictures of myself taken and scanned, so here they are. I think they look disgusting (and I'm still not sure if I want to keep the whiskers, but I have this obscene baby face) but people asked for them, so here they are.
I just can't get away from it. Religion. It's everywhere I turn, in everything I do. W.C. Fields said it best when he said, "Everything I love is either immoral, illegal or fattening." If I believed that organized religion lead to anything other that oppression, repression and ignorance I probably wouldn't be as annoyed by it as I am. I'm constantly assured by people who are active and moral participants of some religious organization that not everyone is like that. I know this; there are always exceptions to the rule. Individuals are usually intelligent, thoughtful, conscientious beings who care about what's happening around them. Groups are mobs, mindless animals that follow the lead of one person, regardless of the validity of that person's opinions. Look at what caught my attention this time: The New American: They Want Your Children.
In case you don't want to follow the link (and if you do, be prepared for some of the nastiest bigoted vitriol out there), the summation is that homosexuality is a disease that urges the corrupted to infect anyone and everyone they meet. It paints homosexuals as soulless, diseased criminals who are doomed to die horrible deaths and will try to bring everyone else down with them. It begins with the quote, "Homosexuality is a chosen behavior with self-destructive consequences" and goes from there.
I'm not homosexual. I'm not even bisexual. My statement is simply, "Maybe I haven't met the right guy." While I accept the possibility, the reality is that I'm not looking for or curious about a male lover. What I'm also not is homophobic, and it's frequently amusing to confuse people as to my sexual orientation. I'm also not fond of anyone oppressing anyone else based on color, creed or orientation.
Wait, I just contradicted myself. I hate religion. Yup. I tolerate people who participate in religion and will interact with them just like everyone else. I don't like religion and won't recommend it to anyone. I'll even actively attempt to dissuade someone who is looking for a religious path. Doesn't that mean I oppress religious people? You decide.
But back on topic, I have several homosexual friends and am quite comfortable in their presence without worry of infection, disease or corruption. I'm sure my mother would have a fit if she knew. I'll also bet she wouldn't be surprised in the least. I was recently discussing the twin topics of religion and morality with my friend John R. who is openly homosexual. We compared and contrasted people who were moral as opposed to religious. We agreed that the most moral, ethical people we knew were individuals who were generally either agnostic or athiest, and had come to these paths based on personal reflection and decision (as always, exceptions applied). We compared this to people we knew and could name (but refrained, for ethical reasons of course) who used their religion as a "get out of Hell free card" to do whatever they liked free of guilt. They could hate, cheat, lie and otherwise sin their little hearts out because it was all forgiven under the tenants of their religions. These people live by rote, with no deliberate thought or decision over what they believe and why, focusing instead on justifying the means they use to get what they want.
Mr. William Norman Grigg, in his article of They Want Your Children, makes all sorts of claims about homosexuality and how the American political climate is changing to support it. But he never actually states WHY homosexuality is bad or supports his arguments with any hard data that can be referenced beyond "...a practice that, unlike homosexuality, is not condemned by the Bible as an abomination before God..." Instead he goes into graphic detail of how the Clinton Administration is opening the doors to homosexual tolerance, and how this is evil, perverse and deplorable. In the second paragraph he compares homosexuality to smoking, and seems to infer that homosexuality ought to be decried from every street corner while smoking should not.
Is it just me, or is this even more twisted than the "chosen perversion" he's talking about?
Update: I spoke with John, who pointed out that mentioning his full name could possibly be hazardous to his health. Upon reflection, I realized he was right, thought I hadn't really considered the possibility before; everyone I know who reads this page is either a friend or so far away as to make no difference (or both). However, discretion being the better part of valor, I've corrected this oversight in the interests of personal safety. I'd feel horrible if John got beat up because some homophobic twit ran across my page and looked up him.
John also pointed out that he's acquainted with highly moral religious individuals, which includes Christians, Buddhists, Pagans, etc. I did not dispute this; I chose my words with care. "Exceptions apply" is my way of saying not EVERY religious person is an immoral bigot. But I've met far more Christians than not with fewer scruples than some "godless heathens" I can name. Perhaps to clarify my point, it isn't necessary to follow X religion in order to be a decent, moral individual worthy of respect. Viewing the world with the mindset of "you're not part of my religion, therefore you're an evil bastard going to Hell" isn't my idea of a healthy attitude.
I doubt any rational individual can reasonably argue that statement. Again, I choose my words with care.
Little things get to me now and again. Like the lovely brown cloud that settles over Denver every day. Like the idiot in the expensive car in front of me who can't figure out that merging with traffic involves accelerating to the speed of traffic. Like housemates who take my desire for privacy and isolation as a personal affront. Like how Tripod can't seem to figure out that I really don't like their inane little popups.
My friends are remarking on my increasingly anti-social behavior. I've told one girl flat out that I don't want her around me because of behavior I find manipulative and offensive. It pushed one of my few buttons, so I told her to stay away from me. Everybody is of the opinion that I'm being extremist with my approach to the situation (no one is arguing my reasons, just my actions). However, I'm aware that my temper is growing increasingly short, and I recognize that there are things I'll be happier just not dealing with.
Now and again I start feeling a little tired and stretched thin. When that happens, I need to take time off, be by myself and recharge. Sometimes I can do it with particular people, sometimes I need to do it by myself. No one can do this for me, and no one can help with it. It isn't that I don't appreciate people who want to help, it's that more people (or the wrong people) make me feel even more drained. So I get quiet, thoughtful, not terribly communicative, and I spend lots of time by myself. It isn't permanent, but it looks bad. I regret that it makes people think I'm upset with them or trying to shut them out, but I'm not upset and it isn't personal. It's just me getting a grip.
Thanks to my friend Barbi, I found Crosswinds and have successfully moved my Random Thoughts here. If you happen to have my webpage bookmarked (bless you for it), you'll want to update it.
It's been a busy couple of months. I've moved to my new home in Golden and I love it. Quiet, private and a lovely view of the mountains up close and personal. Not terribly convenient location, but I can deal with it. The perks far outweigh the disadvantages.
I'm still being socially inept, mostly due to inattention rather than saying the wrong thing or the like. My friends think I've forgotten them, which isn't entirely true. Being wrapped up in one's self doesn't mean one forgets people, one just doesn't know how to make time for everyone. Sorry, folks. I know I'm being selfish and greedy, and I can't bring myself to stop. Not yet, anyway.
In other news, I'd like to recommend that anyone who flies avoid America West Airlines. Not only did America West cancel my connection flight to San Francisco after I'd finished the first half of the trip, then reroute me through United and make me eight hours late, but they managed to lose my bags at the same time. I haven't gotten most of the callbacks I was promised, and no satisfaction after two weeks. Looks like this is going to take a long time. Don't fly America West. You'll regret it if you do.
Buying a new car (as in, a brand new car just off the lot with less than 100 miles on the odometer) is a kick. I just purchased a 2000 Mazda 626 LX, forest green, power everything. No sunroof, which disappoints me slightly, but I can live with it. Once it comes back from tinting, I can do my half hour drive to work in comfort, rather than fighting in traffic with my loud truck. I suppose I could also steal a camera to take pictures of it so you can see it. Monster is a wonderful vehicle and I didn't trade him in for the Mazda (yay, two vehicles on insurance. Ouch, insurance companies aren't gentle with new cars).
Shopping for a car turned out to be far less hassle than I anticipated. They still haven't cashed my check for the downpayment, but we'll see. I looked online at Consumer Reports and Classified2000's car reviews and decided what I most wanted in a car (reliability, ride, efficiency and insurance in no particular order), and saw what had the best compromise in all of them. The 2000 Mazda 626 had the best reviews for what I wanted in the price range I was looking through.
Reviews are good for narrowing down the field, but the true test is in the car itself. So a couple of weekends ago I took my friend Mary and test drove the Mazda 626. Quiet, comfortable, smooth, easy to handle. Not as much power since I decided on the 4-cylinder model (better gas mileage has its price; Monster accelerates faster than the Mazda), but the tradeoff is that I went approximately 500 miles on a single tank, and paid $15 to fill up with super unleaded. Yeah, I can deal with this. And the salepeople were able to get me into the payment range I asked for. This is what we call an easy sell.
So enough about the car. Though it's really neat and has neat bonuses that I was hoping for in a new car and a perfectly acceptable sound system with CD-player and engine-lock security features...
Ahem. Okay, I'm fine now. Tuesday the 21st I picked up Kaye from the airport. Kaye is a lovely Australian "Shiela" (she's going to kill me for that, I know it) in town on a travel visa. We wandered around Denver, introduced her to Vampire LARP and my friends and talked a lot. I like her a lot and I'm glad she's visiting. Hiya, Kaye! Welcome to the States!
Today's magic word is "choice." Life is full of choices. Some people shy away from them. Some people embrace them. But we're all face with choices and like it or not, we make them one way or another.
Rather than get something sexy, like a 2000 Mustang, I got something around the same price range that was a little less sexy and a little more practical. The 2000 Mazda 626. You may recall my obsession with this sweet little car in my last introduction. Well, it's still my obsession. I keep it filled with at least mid-grade fuel (I was going top grade, but recent gas prices here in Denver have forced me to modify my spending habits somewhat), I keep it waxed and I don't take too many chances when driving in heavy traffic (which is more often than not).
Rather than continue as a bachelor, I'm now dating and soon to be engaged to the sweet Aussie girl, Kaye. I've put a down-payment on the ring, looking at various diamonds to put in it and making preparations to move to Australia (let's see if I can maintain dual citizenship). I have some people in shock over this, but more than a few people fail to realize the connection that Kaye and I felt when we first met, which has continued to this day. This is, by no means, the perfect relationship (sorry, but I try to be pragmatic above all else). There are things we still need to learn, issues we still need to discover and work through. But we're aware of this and the communication level is good. We're not going to get married until well into the 21st Century, so it's not like we're doing this at the drop of a hat.
Change is an integral part of life. Some people are flabbergasted that I'm doing this. Me, Michael the Pretty Boy who flirts, seduces and otherwise seems to go after every human female in range? Getting married? Doing the monogamy thing? Sorry to burst your bubble, guys. No, philosophically I don't believe in monogamy. But as a practical issue (remember that pragmatist thing), monogamy is required and therefore I can make the compromise. I want this, so I'll do what feels right in order to make it happen. I'm not going to abandon my personality and personal beliefs just to be married. I want commitment and (believe it or not) have wanted it for some time; I'm not willing to give it to anyone who looks like a possible candidate for a life partner. This is why I've had a decade of failed relationships. I've got pretty high standards, and I need a partner who can live a life that doesn't require my participation 24/7. I need a partner who can share a commitment with me, not focus on me. And I need it in a person I connect to in such a way that I believe I'm in love, not just comfortable. To those whom I've disappointed in the past, I apologize. There are still some things about me that confuse even me.
Then there are those people who are completely and utterly disgusted with me, and have decided that I'm scum of the earth. *shrug* I'm sorry that I couldn't live up to their expectations. For them, I bought a pin that reads, "I realize my life is more interesting, but you still need to get one of your own." It's far too appropriate.
Change revolves around choices. Some choices are avoided, and the inevitable forces change we don't want. Some choices are reviled, and people reject the change that comes about. Some choices are embraced, and we change in directions we want to go. I have always respected the right of people to make choices that suite them. I can only wish people would grant me the same respect.
It's true, I've been a very busy bee lately. Working, preparing for the move (if you hadn't heard yet, I'm moving to Australia just before my birthday), writing, getting engaged...
Yup, I did it. Bought the ring, put in a fake diamond until I could finish the payments on the real diamond (shortly before the engagement party) and proposed. We managed to catch Niagara Falls just before everything shut down for the season, so it was highly appropriate. Kaye and I are now engaged, and I'm committed to moving to Australia and maintaining dual citizenship.
Since my last writing I've gotten into a minor car accident and had to pay $500 of the bill (which hurt), moved into a new house due to conflicts with my old housemate, started work on a book, confirmed the Sanguis Priscus LARP to be run at Denver's Ghengis Con, set up my department with new computers and a screaming new Dell server and discovered just how badly the bureaucracy in our country runs.
It took the State of New York two months past what they promised to get my birth certificate to me. So just around Thanksgiving I receive the document I need for both the passport and the visa. Then I find out that both my passport and the Australian visa require the original birth certificate document, of which I only have one (and gods help me if one of them loses it). Both of them will take longer than their paperwork claims, which means I'll be lucky if I have everything ready for the planned departure date of February 19th. I was advised to begin the visa process four months before my planned departure date. I began the process six months before, and I still might not get it done in time. Is that sick or what?
So enough bitching. Kaye is really looking forward to going home, and I've got my resume out on the web to find tech jobs in Brisbane. With roughly two months to go, I haven't any leads yet but I'm wondering how much of that is because I'm not actually there to interview. I'm looking forward to running my game one last time before I head out for the Land Down Under, and I'm looking forward to the way my book is turning out.
Speaking of the book, I've put up the prologue and first chapter under the In Progress section. Tell me which of the prologues you think works best, because while I have my preference, I LOVE feedback.
I hate inertia.
I don't fear change. I recognize and accept that change is a very important force in my life, one that allows me to learn and grow. Without change, I stagnate and die by degrees. I don't fear change, but change requires effort and persistence and that's where inertia comes into play. Not only must I overcome my own inertia (if I haven't mentioned it before, I'm an incredible procrastinator), but I must overcome the inertia of the world around me.
Bureauracy is, by definition, afflicted with almost lethal levels of inertia. This may seem patently obvious to you, but think about it for a moment. Just how hard is it to get a government or body of people to do anything? Last August I filled out a form and a check for $35 to get my birth certificate to me. Simple request, right? The website promised no more than four to six weeks (maybe a month and a half) to get the birth certificate to me. It took three months. Then I had to take my birth certificate to the post office along with passport photos. The photos were rejected, so I had to buy new ones. That took another month. Then, thinking that I'd jumped through all the hoops I needed to, I called the Australian Consulate-General in Los Angeles to verify that I had everything I needed.
Not even close. I got more forms to fill out, made a doctor's appointment (it took another month just to get in to see him), got poked and prodded, irradiated and irritated, all to prove to Australia's Department of Immigration that I'm healthy enough to be considered for citizenship and not be a drain on public resources. I know a lot of people have their own questions about that, but that's another story.
Kaye had to go back to Australia alone on February 21st, 2001. We were originally planning to fly together, or at least within close proximity, but I'm still waiting for my visa. Oh, did anyone happen to mention the cost of an application fee for a spouse visa to Australia? Almost AU$1100, which comes to roughly US$650. And then there's the letters of reference from friends, people willing to claim they've seen Kaye and I together in a relationship and that they believe we'll continue in a last relationship. Then there's a form from a licensed individual in Australia stating that this person has agreed to perform the marriage.
Honestly, I don't know when I'm going to get over there. I'm not even sure I have all the paperwork together. Kaye is proposing we move the wedding date up to May 19th, to try to get Immigration to speed up the visa. From what I can see, I think I'll be lucky to arrive in July.
However, fighting with Immigration isn't all I've been doing. I found the Master of Orion 3 webpage. For those of you who haven't heard of this, Master of Orion is a strategy game for the PC, sort of Civilization on a galactic scale. "Explore strange, new worlds. Research knowledge and new technologies. Seek out new life and new civilizations. Then kill them." That sort of thing. I don't normally like GUI-based games, but this one got me addicted. Now I find out they're working on another edition, and they've written some back history to go along with it. Then, just to torment me personally (I'm sure of it!), they go and set up a writing contest! But that isn't the best part. The best part is that I found out about it six days before the deadline. So I read through the back story, picked something I thought I could build on quickly, wrote it up and fired it off. I can only hope I didn't have to cut out so much that it wasn't fun to read anymore. As it was I went over the word limit so I had to butcher the poor thing mercilessly. I've put the story up on my page here with the cut scenes added; feel free to browse and tell me what you think.