Seasonal Affective? Certainly not sleep deprived…

Sometimes, the signs of depressive episodes aren’t typical, or nearly as conscious as you (I) would expect.

I’ve had an increasing number of incidents over the past few years of 24-48 hour stints in bed, not interested at all in getting up to face the world. It’s not nearly as aware as that, though; I’m not pulling the covers up over my head, shutting out the world and horrified of what lies outside in the light. It’s much more casual, a shrug of the shoulders when faced with the choice of returning to sleep or rolling out of bed. A shrug of the shoulders means that the solution that requires the least effort wins, and very little in life requires more effort than falling back into unconsciousness.

I never really thought too much about those long sleeping periods (usually, a few days out of a month or two). Before, I wasn’t getting nearly as much sleep as I should, and so those long sleep periods seemed to me to be a catch up period. Now, though, it’s a lot easier to recognize as what it is — depression of some sort, whether seasonal affective or bipolar.

Something to look into, though — the source of the depression, and why it’s manifesting itself like this.

The Annual Giving of the Thanks

Thankful for the following:

  1. I don’t live in Atlanta, nor do I have to drive through there very often.  What a nightmare — even at 5 AM in the morning, the 6,714 lane interstates are more densely populated than any road anywhere in Birmingham.
  2. I don’t have to drive any interstate in the morning, which prevents me from ever ending up on a three-lane interstate cum parking lot, as I did for about an hour today just outside of Clemson.
  3. I’m done with the Christmas shopping for 2006. I’d be even more thankful if I were done wrapping.
  4. Family, friends, band, and job(s).  This goes without saying, but maybe too often.
  5. CL.

These are just the basic thanks, but I’m too tired to be more detailed.  Stop critiquing and go enjoy your turkeys and your football games and your Black Friday preparations.

Domestic bliss rhymes with…

I hand CL the envelope she’s requested for her re-admission forms to Samford, a southern baptist university (yes, I know that southern or baptist or both are supposed to be capitalized. I just don’t know which, so I’m dropping the cap from both). She notices the return address labels that I’ve printed up, which have both of our names on them over the address.

“It has both of us on there. That’s sweet.”

“Yup.” It is, you know. Because I’m the fucking man.

“I hope that doesn’t give them a reason not to let me back into school.”

“Why — because I used Arial instead of Courier on the label?”

“No, because we’re living in sin.”

I pause — I sometimes forget people actually still think as though we live in the 1600s. And then it hits me. “Nah. You got in before, and you’re a belly dancer.”

“Yeah, I guess that makes me a whore,” she smiles.

“No honey. Baptists hate dancing more than living in sin, I think. So you’re probably in, because more than they hate sin, they love money.

“And also? You making me pay you for sex makes you a whore.”

That such statements don’t start fights with her is just one more reason why I love her.

Just because you’re a professional doesn’t mean you’re any good

Put simply: print designer != web designer.

In fact, I think that web design — good, quality, adhering to standards web design — is perhaps the most unique and most difficult of all the visual arts, because you are designing for a dynamic medium.  Print (and any other media) offer static display methods; the web does not.  Screen resolution, browsers, operating systems… All of these are variables that you have to take into account at the earliest stages of design work.

Print designers do not need to be delving into web design and proclaiming themselves King or Queen of the realm without spending some serious time forgetting much of what they know.

Learning some web architecture wouldn’t hurt about 95% of the people that I know that call themselves web designers.  Seriously.  Google it, and spend a week boning up on the basics.

Am I a web designer?  A little, but only as much as I can encompass in the broader title of web developer. My By-Day title is Web User Interface Engineer — I’m not designing as much as I am implementing other people’s work, and that, as you might guess, is the source of this little rant.  I may not be able to create the next masterwork of the web, but I can sure as hell tell you what works and what doesn’t.  My poor coworkers will attest to that.

Oh, and “designers”: please, for the love of god, stop showing off.  It impresses very few people, and fewer still if they’re viewing on a computer other than your own.

I’ve got to relearn how not to give a shit about these things…

Biological Imperatives

A whole lot of animal behavior stems from one source: the survival of your genetic material, your DNA lineage. This explains the lack of monogamy in the animal kingdom, the reproductive urge… lots of things. It’s where that ticking clock in 99.5% of women (and men, too — don’t let most of ’em fool you, ladies) comes from. Most all of us have that urge to see the things that make us us live on.

Some scientists think that our bodies are programmed (evolved?) to encourage us to take part in activities that are good for us, both in the immediate timeframe and in the long run. This is why we have negative physical sensations when we are hungry, or tired, and why it feels good to do things like eat and poop.

Oh, yeah, she looks happy...No, seriously. Look it up.

And so having sex is accompanied by orgasm, at least for men (hey, ladies, you don’t have to have fun for a baby to get made; sorry).

(In fact, now that I think about it, this all fits nicely into the biological imperative scheme of things. You ladies can think what you want of us men as lovers; from the purely survivalistic perspective, we only really need one shot with you, and then on to the next victim baby momma. Man, this biology stuff is pretty cool if you’re looking for a way to validate shitty behavior….)

Veering back from my brief visit to Misogynytown I wonder why it is that pregnancy isn’t accompanied by the same really euphoric feeling, if the whole point is survival? Obviously, sex feels good, and so we have as much of it as possible. As much of it as possible with our protective systems in place, of course — because who outside of Kevin Federline and Flavor Flav want an Irish Catholic household?

My sister is pregnant for the second time, and I keep hearing about morning sickness, and mood swings, and strange cravings, and I can’t help but think:

Who the fuck wants to be pregnant? Even those of us without the plumbing for the job — what incentive do we have for putting up with nine months of this? Okay, maybe there are some sadistic fuckers out there that get off on seeing their loved one in misery and discomfort, but we don’t count them. And there are those that would say that those nine months are a small price to pay for having your own child, one that you get to teach your values to and watch as they grow old. To you I say: if I really want something that is going to eat up years of my life and emotional stability and god knows how much money, I’ll get another cat.

I can name them stupid things without anyone giving me grief about it, too.

I was talking to Neely the other night about crystal meth (any story you just thought of as an explanation is far more entertaining than the truth), and caught myself comparing the high to the rush of orgasm. That’s the easy way to make people understand why drugs are such a problem in the country, how people can ignore all the dangers for that buzz: compare it to an orgasm.

But think how desirable it would be to get pregnant if you were trying to explain to someone why there’s such a problem with meth or cocaine or heroin, and the easiest way to get to the point would be by saying that it was ten times as intense as being pregnant? And that made everyone want to shoot up?

Maybe the Chinese actually do get a rush for those nine months. And the Irish. And the Catholics. That would explain a lot.

Things that Make You Go hhrrrrrrrrrrrkkkkkh

You know what makes me sick?

Michael Lord and Gary Lackey, a gay couple requesting bids for a landscaping job at their new house, received a polite — and, well, honest — e-mail from Sabrina Farber, a co-owner of Garden Guy: “I need to tell you that we cannot meet with you because we choose not to work for homosexuals.”

Stunned, Lackey forwarded the e-mail to 200 friends, asking them not to patronize Garden Guy and urging them to pass the word on to friends and family. “I’m still shocked by the ignorance that exists in today’s society,” Lackey said in his e-mail.

And word was indeed passed on — as fast as the Web could carry it.

Within days, the e-mail had been forwarded to thousands of people around the world, and quickly became the subject of heated and often ugly debates on the Internet. Because of the furor, a professional association of landscapers created a nondiscrimination policy.

A forum on the Garden Guy Web site, normally reserved for discussions about landscaping and shrubbery, was bombarded with angry comments and venomous attacks from as far away as Australia.

It makes me sad — not sick — that people would still have prejudice against people in this day and age — whether racial, sexual, gender-based… whatever.  It’s a very Christian thing, I guess.  The prejudice, not my sadness.

But you know, it is what it is.  The gay thing goes against some people’s beliefs, and so be it.  Of course, some people also believe that blacks are lesser people because of their skin tone, and that the world was created in seven days, and that women belong in the kitchen or pregnant.  We all have our problems to overcome. But if they want to believe it, then who are you to tell them what to believe?  Remember, that could be flipped around on you, too.

And they own their own business, and they should be able to choose their clientele, for whatever reasons (no matter how ignorant or stupid) they have.  Action, consequence: they’re gonna find out just how much landscaping comes from a group that they don’t want to service, as well as those sympathetic to that group.

At least they were honest about their reasons, and now they’ll pay for their beliefs by losing business.  All is well in the world.

Except (and here’s the part that makes me sick)…

Some people attacked the Farbers’ beliefs, threatened the couple and their five children, and said they ought to be sodomized. Others condemned gays as sinners headed toward damnation.

Farber, whose company’s Web site has long included Biblical quotes and a link to a Web site that opposes gay marriage, said she was shocked by the reaction.

It was just our intent to uphold our rights as small business owners to choose our clientele,” she said. “All the hate, the threats of sodomizing my children, the threats of me being murdered, came out because of a very businesslike straightforward e-mail I sent. The crowd of tolerance and diversity is not so tolerant.”

She says it pretty well.  However ignorant she and her family may be — and I certainly think that choosing or rejecting your clientele based on sexual preference is pretty fucking ignorant — that’s her belief.  Your beliefs don’t jibe with hers.  Is that a reason to threaten them — much less their children?

Isn’t that why people get hanged, beatened up outside of bars, and dragged in chains down miles of highway?  Because their beliefs don’t jibe with yours?

If you want to go to their website and post a notice that you think their business practices aren’t fair or right, good for you.  Let them know why you’re boycotting them, and why you’re recommending that everyone you know do the same.  They won’t support you, you don’t support them.  They’re not government subsidized, I assume, and therefore (IMHO) can cater to whomever they wish.  If the business suffers because of it, so be it.

Why would you want to give money to people that think you’re evil and wrong and going to hell, anyway?

Tolerance works both ways.

Unless you’re Courtney Love…

You know what else makes me sick?

Courtney Love poses nude for magazine

Images in the piece seen by Access Hollywood show the former Hole frontwoman standing strongly, legs apart and her breasts fully exposed, while strappy, designer panties cover her bottom half. Others show the blonde fully naked with her knees curled up.

If you’ve not already retasted your last meal, read that last sentence again. And then imagine: track marks underneath fake boobs on a forty year old.

Some things you can never unread. So you share with everyone who reads your blog. Happy Friday, everyone!

Have a piece of my headache

Take a point.  One point, zero dimensions.  No width, breadth, height.

Expand that point out one direction.  You now have a line: one dimension (length), two terminal points.

Expand that line parallel to itself such that no point in the line is crossing another point.  You now have a square, with two dimensions (width, length), four sides, and four terminal points.

Expand that square parallel to itself, in the same manner as your line (above), and you have a cube.  Three dimensions, six sides, eight terminal points.  Easy enough to envision, as this is the space that we experience — our visual and spatial perspective.

And while you can do this with Euclidian geometry and all sorts of quantum thinking, I’m sure, try to picture in your head expanding that cube out — not up, down, left, right, forward or backward, as the cube already exists in each of these directions, but somehow further away from its center in a new direction altogether.  You’re left with a four-dimensional object, with eight terminal points.  I can draw you a 3D representation of this — it took me a while to figure out where the additional eight terminal points go (creating objects in theoretical X dimensional space requires 2^X terminal points) — but getting that new dimension in my head is eluding me.

Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions, by E. A. Abbott, was published in 1884, a social satire that now exists on shelves next to books of pure mathematical exploration.  And it makes me wonder, and wander, and hurt a little bit in that special way that Mommy warned me about. It was a lot of fun to read, much in the same way that Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams was — which is to say that underlying the writing and the tone and the character and whatever else exists in the fiction, there’s a current that pushes my brain down new roads.  These books — like some movies, some music, some random combinations of conversation and timing — open doors in my head, encouraging me to explore the new places.  Unfortunately, these doors are often pitch black just beyond the frame, and so I’m stuck with a lot of open doors in my head, and less time every day to think that I might one day see what lies beyond each of them.

I just hope that, whichever knowledge I’m ever eventually able to obtain, it’s the important part.

Considering that I’m spending hours tonight unable to crack my copy of the highly-anticipated new Stephen King book, distracted as I am trying to visualize an additional spatial element beyond that which I’ve known all my life, I guess important is as subjective as I suppose everything else is. And I realize that it’s thought paths like these that explain why writing computer code all day is relaxing to me.

Election ’06 predictions

  1. Candidate X wins.  Perhaps by a landslide, perhaps by a narrow margin — but either way, with a majority significant enough that, in the old days, Candidate Y would have conceded the competition, probably even with some semblance of dignity.
  2. Lawsuits are filed.  The voting machines were rigged.  Computers were hacked.  People were bribed.  You name it, and it will be a cause for the loss of an election.
  3. For the next bunch of months or years, we’ll hear one side or the other bitching non-stop about how the other side shouldn’t even be there.

If there’s a single person out there that thinks that our electoral system doesn’t need a complete overhaul — from top to bottom — then leave me a note telling me why.  And then go have a nice tall glass of Draino, on me, because you’re so naive or blind that you shouldn’t be voting, much less taking up my air.

Not that I think it would improve the political landfill septic field arena of our country much.  I’ve said it before, and I imagine my opinion won’t change before I’m meat for worms: politicians are the worst attributes of the human race, magnified 500X and painted a vomitous shade of neon green.

It would be nice, though, to know comfortably and with certainty exactly how stupid my fellow voters are, and while there’s a question of the honesty of the election results (especially on the level of doubt that lingers after the 2000 election and all the Diebold stories floating around on the web), I can’t be certain.

This is a non-partisan complaint, by the way.  I think that Democrats are just as susceptible to the dark side of human nature  Republicans are no more likely to cheat to win than it’s not a question of who is cheating as much as it is the ease with which one side can swing the vote falsely.

It’s just one more reason why I feel like no matter who wins today, we all lose in the end.

Birthdays come and go, but stress-related mental damage is forever

Random notes from the front end of 35:

  • The availability of unsecured wireless networks in the Birmingham, AL, area is astonishing. I’ve managed to find four separate connections at my apartment, and ten at my current location in Southside. Now, granted, most people using these connections (me, for instance) aren’t doing anything more than checking email, surfing random sites, or blogging, but there’s plenty of malicious work that I could be doing right now using this other person’s connection. Why is it, again, that people are so clueless about the Internet and security related topics? I’m not even talking about in-depth information, but simple things like not responding to phishing emails, not opening random attachments in email, and not securing your connection — the one that is attached to your name and through which people like the RIAA track you?
  • The new job goes (over)whel(ming), thanks for asking. I suspect that once I’m in the thick of things, later this week, I’m going to realize that this isn’t a complex or as intimidating as I feel like it is now, but tell that to my subconscious.It is, however, a great environment, as far as the people that I work with go and the general vibe in the office. So far, so good.
  • As much as I’m not an emo kinda guy (which is funny, since — although the music mostly hits me as dull and listless heavy whiny pop — I was pretty much the definition of emo as a teenager and twenty-something), the new My Chemical Romance disc is quite possibly the best new disc of 2006. Keep in mind that I’m saying that in a year that has included a new release from bands like Strapping Young Lad, The Decemberists, Lindsey Buckingham, the Exhibit(s) (!), and Devin Townsend — The Black Parade blows them away. Keeping in mind, of course, that this is heavy rock meets Broadway; the ultimate rock opera. And depressing, at that. If they had only included a cover of Devin Townsend’s Colonial Boy on there, it would be perfect.I still have hopes that Tencious D’s disc next week will surpass them all.
  • Whassisname — the guy in the Denver church — all but admitted that he got squirrelly with his meth dealer, and the congregation forgave him. Which is commendable and good and all — remarkably progressive, one might say — except that these same parishioners are the same people that would probably disown and disavow their own children for the same behavior.Anyone that thinks the Democrats taking control of the Houses is going to change anything is as foolish as people that still support Bush and back his claims of no regrets.

Nobody cares, you little monkey.

It’s the end of the world as we know it. Perhaps because the political climate in the country will shift significantly on Tuesday (ha – politics is politics). Perhaps because some evangelical muckity-muck got caught with his nose in the meth jar and his naked old wrinkly flesh in the hands of a — gasp! — HOMERSECKSYUAL. Perhaps because people are finally seeing beneath the surface of things, whether because they’re forced or because they are getting smarter.

Perhaps it’s because I’m sick of CL, and I don’t love her anymore.

(That’ll teach you to read over my shoulder.)

I turn another year older tomorrow, and nothing has changed. People that act as though they are holier than the rest of us — they’re the ones with the most to hide. Politicians on both ends of the spectrum are crooked and looking out for their own interests, the rest of us be damned. Working for a living is less than fun. We pay taxes and get harassed by The Man and get sick and die.

There have been major changes in the world in the 35 years that I’ve been alive — the fall of Communism, the rise of the Internet, the disappearance of the UHF dial on your TV set — but it’s all the same, really. And I don’t know that I have any real hope of real, significant change to the underlying current.

So you take a step forward, closer to the picture, and realize that on a microcosmic level, things are getting closer to idealistic every day, give or take. I’ve found a job that is, perhaps not perfect, but enjoyable (work-wise and peer-wise). I’m producing art at my own pace, under my own control. I’ve met the woman of my dreams without having to settle for less than I conceived. No, things aren’t perfect, but then, perfect is a fluid and shifting ideal from one day to the next for me.

So then, what’s stopping me from stepping back and applying this break from the conventional wisdom — that things are what they are and always have been and always will be, and that’s that, because human nature means people suck — to the big picture? Applying the skin and blood of my life to the world around me and producing a viral shift to reality?

Maybe nothing. Maybe other people. Maybe a subtle lack of interest, too.

Or maybe it’s just people reading over my shoulder. That could be it, too.