Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, June 07, 2003


Intro to: Beating back the brand (& avoiding the rubber room)

For months I've fought to get the number of marketing messages I receive down to a manageable number. I tried just to get to a countable number... I tried to get it down to an understandable number... It was too big. I tried to understand it... I tried to write about it.... Bob Persig recomends when you're staring at a brick wall's worth of writers block. “Start with a single brick. And write”.

In my case I focused, really focused, on each message in my kitchen I'd been blocking out. And...

I ranted for hours into a Radio Shack tape recorder on a TDK-PRO PROFESSIONAL SMX-90 tape. The tape came from the bottom of the pile of five hundred+ other tapes I've thrown into a box I call “pandora's box” - I have no idea what was on the tape, originally. I don't label the tapes; if one's got dust on it, it's ready for re-use. I've gone through four typists in three years. They all hated the first draft of my writing process as much as I do. They'd all rather be out on the street than subject themselves to it. I've had to type up this rant myself.

If voice recognition ever gets good enough, and I stop tossing most of the tapes into Pandora's box, my output would rival rageboy's, and I might get locked up in a rubber room for my own good and to keep society safe.

Ahh, a rubber room. Pure, white... a place where I could focus and hold a coherent thought train together... ha. That's a fantasy. My armpits would get chafed by the True-EZ-comfort straightjacket, and the walls stamped


Graffitti would cover the single blank spot in eyesight. The television would be on continously, people would come to check if I were asleep every 15 minutes and wake me up, and there'd be people screaming randomly - there'd be totally unhip interns that had never heard of Ken Kesey, and there wouldn't be any pianos to play. - and then there's all that paperwork involved in checking in, and then, especially, all the paperwork involved, in checking out.

No. no. No. Not this time. I'll try to last this out this phase of my malaise here, safe at home, still plugged into the Net.

I knew that unplugging myself from the matrix was going to be difficult but this... this is hard. 5000+ words hard.

I'm going to post the first part of "Beating the brand" early on Sunday.

Here's a preview to the second part, which I won't have done for another week or two - this section's called:

The ADverb Apocalypse

I see persistent indications that this cocked tin hat that america lies boiling in wasn't always brimming with brands.

My Mitsubishi projection TV was made in 1983. The video's kind of blurry - people keep telling me to get rid of it, to get something modern, to upgrade to HDTV. No way. This TV's made of wood; it's constructed to look like furniture. There's not a single logo in eyespace. I can sit and see Just. The. Screen. when I want to see a movie. Try that with a modern television. I can't stand watching broadcast smellovision through the globots in the lower right hand corner anymore - I get my home viewing kicks from Netflix.
I went to see the matrix reloaded. I go there 20 minutes late, so I could miss the commercials.

You exit the theater and go to a bar: Charlie O's. You order whiskey with rocks. You start composing a paragraph about it, about how it ties in with what you've been trying to write about. Your brain blocks out the bar noise. Your vision shrinks to a single line on the sheet of paper. You raise your pen... and the waitress comes back. She asks: “Do you want” “mumble... or mumble”

You say yes, to the first one. She repeats “mumble?”...

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones doesn't say "Oh, I'll have a Stoli seabreeze" ... James Bond never orders a Seagrams martini, no... the waitress doesn't come back to them and ask them to make a choice... repeatedly...

Always asking the question of “which brand” detracts from all our stories. It fills up space that we could actually use to think.

The 50s and 60s added "You want fries with that?" to every market conversation.

The 90s and 00s are about “Consumer choice”. Consumer choice. Not “Choice”. Consumer Choice. You have a choice between A or B. If you want C, you gotta remember to say no to A or B. 99.99% of us can't remember C when presented with “A or B”.

What kind of whisky do you want when you stalk into a bar after a couple days psychotically spent in your house trying to write around a blind spot, alienating your shrink, driving through television all the way home, and then spent two hours in the theater watching a movie that sorta... almost... kinda... touched on it?

"I'd like the goddamn whisky, please. Any. Goddamn. Whiskey. Please. With Ice."

She runs off looking scared, and insulted. She's just an agent doing her job, interrupting me to make a choice – about something that isn't important, so I can't think straight. Hmm... she's got a red dress, and a nice ass... wait... what was I thinking about? Oh yea.

People try to talk about how the matrix is about throwing off media control - like I couldn't help but notice the brand placements in there - like the battle between the Cadillacs or... Ducati motorcycles. And as much as I'd like to ride Trinity herself - she's a hacker and she has atomic orgasms, early - Ducati's bikes are too expensive, go too fast, and use up gas. I ride a human powered bike with pedals and an electric engine, instead. There's a choice C for ya.

No, no, no, I want the goddamn whiskey. I don't want red or blue pills. I don't want what's behind door number 1, door number 2 or door number 3. I don't want to talk about the ideas inherent in the matrix, talking is just another form of inaction.

I want out. I want to spin in space to the sounds of Strauss.

I want the outside world to shut up and let me think, to let me be me, just me, for a few minutes.

The voice of HAL 9000 comes on. “I'm sorry mike, you can't do that.”

You rage, You have another drink, you bum cigarettes, you take over their beat up stand up upright piano and play the hell out of it, pounding keys until the ivory breaks off and blood runs from you nails, you try to explain what the heck you are talking about to a potted plant and slam back a couple more drinks to try to blot it all out.

from: Beating back the Brand, part 2
Friday, June 06, 2003


Chipper comments on my de-clutter the user interface! rant. He's another red-eyed knight that's spent too long in the biz....

I remember, when the mac first came out - and the research that spawned it was done - most people didn't touchtype. In fact, typing was looked down upon by males and managers - it was a weenie skill. It was a woman's skill. I got looked down upon for being able to type so well in the 80s. As a managerial type leaned on me to help get his report out he probably thought - sure that sissy geek can type - I'll bet his golf game sucks.

Now, everybody types. Everybody mouses. I'm certain that this is not entirely an improvement on the 80s. My first drafts come out a lot faster and cleaner if I dictate them and get someone else to type them up.I wish there were still secretary pools for that kind of work.

Hey you out there, with cramps in your mouse hand! Get with 00s, man. It's time for a renassance of the cntrl key and the function keys. It's time to take back the desktop!

There's no waves... I have a first draft I need to finish, and a tape deck... hmmm.... Maybe it's time for some golf. I haven't cracked 98 in a while.
Outta here



Finally got to the sleep apnea doc wednesday. I was tired, my BP was abnormal, it was 3:00, the time of day I'm at my worst.

I listed my problems against his questionaire... and I could see his face clouding up. We talked about my always irregular sleep pattern, the ongoing tiredness, the ADD, my noise problem with the machine, the other stuff weighing me down. He asked some interesting questions, and surprised the hell out of me with two of them. Most of the advice I've got from the internet has been basically fixed. go to bed at X, get up at y, don't nap, etc., etc. I've been trying to sleep at 11, and get up at 7 now for months. It doesn't work. The doc said it was important to identify my natural sleep/wake pattern, first. It is tied to the sun cycle, but in some people it's delayed or retarded from sunrise to sunset.

I've only woken up refreshed a few times in years. Hmm. When? How? "What's my natural pattern now?" Good questions, I said. "OK, lets relax the medical regime, go off the machine for a while, and find out."

So wednesday I ditched the ambien, waited for myself to feel sleepy, curled up on my side in the quietest room in the house at midnight - and slept 4 1/2 hours in one burst - and did my usual doze/sleep routine til about 7 and then lay there til 9. With a waking body temp of 95.4 degrees... by the time I felt able to move. I really have to research the neurofeedback idea - my energy level is definately tied to my body temp... if I can heat myself up in the morning I feel better. Exercise is good, hot showers are good - it's making that first MOVE out of bed that's the hard part. I have 2 alarms, 2 lights on timers, and my stereo rigged to play really loud - all to get me out of bed...

The doc floored me with his next question. "If these sort of hours weren't your normal sleeping pattern in the first place - why'd you change them?"

My answer surprised me with its intensity: "because I wanted to get married - have kids - have a normal life." - my eyes clouded up, and I got teary, even. I was tired, my emotions were close to the surface.

The doc vanished for a while, then came back with a prescription - talk to your shrink about this - and we agreed to meet again in 4-6 weeks.

Fugued off thursday

This really bothered me. I blogged about other stuff in the morning while I thought about it. At noon I spent 30 minutes trying to write code. I did a little mental jujitsu - it's C that hurts most - so I pulled out perl and tried to write a cgi script. Behind my eyeballs - I could see what I wanted - but on the screen - a few lines emitted and... brain crash. But, this time, lacking distractions and having given myself a time limit (Another ADD trick), I did that man CGI thing, and got past that crash... kept going - then had a hard mental crash about 20 minutes in. I noticed I was breathing irregularly, and put my head down on the desk for a while and just focused on that. Then took my temp. 95.1F.

This body temp thing I'm tracking is interesting... I got up, and did jumping jacks for 10 minutes - body temp of 97.3. Sat down - and powered through a few more lines. In 10 minutes - I got something that basically worked (well, at least one bug in it) and a bunch of ideas for what to do next... features, tools.... My pulse slowed, my body temp dropped, and I called it quits at 40 minutes.

I ran in place for 10 minutes - it was amazing how clear my mind felt, how easy it was to stay on track exercising.

I went and sorted my CD collection. Yep. The whole thing. I moved it all into a single black portable container - started wondering - where'd all my happy music go? Where's the dixyland, Professor longhair, Beach Boys? Hell, where's all the testosterone driven - drive fast die young stay pretty - music? No Blondie? What happened to you, mike? where's the Bill Cosby/Robin Williams? Where's the surf music? The techno? The Rock in roll? No Peter Gabriel? No Genesis? No Zepplin? Yeesh.

    No wonder you've lumping along for a couple years with your pulse barely beating above 60.

I got rid of some whiny chick singers: Jewel and Kate Wolf, a bunch of Christine Lavin records, and thought seriously about decimating the Joni Mitchel collection - and put them in my errand box for trade in.

More later...




I was a little unkind to the mac in the last blog entry - actually - it's the windows derived interfaces that have more clutter than the mac does, and the linux interfaces seem to be getting worse than that, not better. When you switch between apps on the mac your top menu bar changes to reflect the menu patterns - a good thing, I like that. Nobody else does it that way - they use the bottom part of the screen for a start menu of useless static shit. Redhat's gnome by default uses the top AND bottom slices of the screen for largely useless static shit. I like virtual desktops but the rest can go. Have gone.

Thursday, June 05, 2003



I haven't written any code in 9 months, and precious little these last 2 years. I've been a build monkey for nearly 9 million lines of code, on more platforms and boards than I could count. It was my responsibility to port it, to fix it, to build it, to add to it - and it was just too much. Periodically over 2002 my vision would blur, C itself would become garbage. Computer text itself became difficult to read. I would spend days not being able to do anything with the code at all. I had my eyes checked, they are fine. I'm thinking maybe I have low blood pressure issues, I'm working on that theory. Oxygen starvation to the brain, not enough sleep, definately. I know I was getting burned out, but I don't really know what that means, medically, brain-activity wise - it just seemed that a skill I've had in spades (C programming) for 15 years went hiding every time I reached for it. At rest, passively, I could see code on the back on my eyelids and be able to manipulate it. Eyes open. Nothing. A blur. A system crash.

I got by on seeing the patterns of the build - I could see the pattern of an error, I could see the pattern of "make", of the C compiler - as this stuff whizzed by. It was like reading the matrix directly, only that when I got close enough to really look at it it fuzzed out, it didn't become anything like reality at all. I had to have two monitors at 1280x1024 and multiple virtual desktops just to retain enough context on the different environments I was working in, and god help me if X crashed, I'd never find anything again. I spent something like 87 days out of 90 like that.

I wasn't sleeping. And then I had a really scary day - a day I couldn't read at all. It was also kind of liberating, and I'll talk about that soon, but it was mostly - terrifying. Gradually reading came back - though retaining anything requires the act of writing it down and reviewing it multiple times, but I couldn't sit still for more than a few minutes. I blogged for a while using text to speech software, and I've had to stare at a computer with what Buddists call "A beginners mind" for months now as I relearned how to use it.

Programming is something I've done since I first learned to program a ti-99 calculator. It's a world I'd mastered. It's a simple world. It's my living. I've spent these past months thinking: Am I washed up? You only know two programmers stil doing it older than you... where do they go after 40? Do they get chopped up and ground into fertilizer like the horse in animal farm? They don't seem to turn into managers... does someone roll up to your house in an inflated ball and take you away to the old programmer's home?

It's not.. entirely my problem... that I can't get the world to shut up long enough for me to think. The outside has been screaming into my world ever louder. It's not just the banner ads, the distractions of the office, the glowballs on front of everything you see on tv, google and the branding of the web itself - but it's snuck into user interface design, on the one system I care about - Linux.

Most of new GUI stuff today has been a lemming-like orgy of emulation what's wrong with the other computer interfaces. Thankfully - thanks to the melting pot - alternatives exist.

UI Simplification

Mac-think has run amuck. The original research that created the Xerox star and the mac showed that inexperienced users - people that didn't grow up on computers - worked better with motive reminders on the screen of how to "do the next action". Good research. Solid research. That research never did track the productivity or skill improvement of those users over time - and no-one has really followed up on it since - and while this style of interface is a great introduction to productivity using computers it's also... training wheels. A ball and chain. A source of visual distractions...

Homo Computatis has evolved since that mac research. Speaking computer is part of the grammar you learn growing up. Children the age of 6 instead of asking daddy "why is the sky blue?", reach for google instead.

Physical devices and interfaces have changed, too. Adopt a beginners mind for a minute, with me.

Take a hard look at your keyboard. Pretend like you've never seen it before. Do you have a scrolling mouse, and cursor keys? Look up at your screen. Why do you have a vertical scrollbar on every window?
Look down at your keyboard, and up at the screen. Why is there no correlation between the row of function keys and the menu items on the screen?
Play with your hand-motor control - Can you easily hit the scrollbar with the mouse? Why is it so wide by default? Why can't you turn it off?

The mac-like interfaces depend on sight-recognition vocabulary, text patterns like (File, View, Help), etc for the people that remember text. Icons for the people that remember pictures. And help files, maybe, for the people that remember keystrokes. Still, no user interface is quite the same - in fact - there's barely any real school of thought or standard for each of these concepts anymore - it's all buried in the noise. Everything has to be in everything for everybody in an orgy of overengineering.

The browser comes by default with 4 rows of buttons and text, and a status bar. In browsing the web itself you get 1-3 banner ads, some sort of branding for whatever page you are on, and a few lines of text. I didn't really notice this until I tried to browse the web two year with a string of 320x240 resolution devices - it is impossible to get to any useful data, immediately, anywhere at resolutions below 640x480 nowadays. Try it.

As part of that 320x240 project I hacked gtk to give you a little more real estate by default. But it still wasn't good enough, and browsing the web hasn't taken off on smaller devices...

All that stuff on a normall screen - is very busy, very distracting. All these graphical objects compete for your mindshare, all the time. You have to either conciously blur them out - or conciously - find ways to eliminate them. It's time to target everything we've learned about user interface design directly at the kinds of brains we are trying to reach.

Recently picked up on the idea and published a story about the vastly simplified window manager evilwm. It has just the basic commands required to manipulate windows and workspaces. It's wonderful, it felt like I'd got back 10% of my brain and my screen real estate when I implemented it. I'd only add one feature - the ability to get back to a previous window - backtab. The commands required to use it fit on a post-it. Great. I can memorize those and throw away the post-it eventually. And once I looked at that screen with that beginners mind - I noticed - really noticed -

That I run 5 programs on a daily basis. That's it. - all of them can be stripped down - with a little reading and memorization I can get more room to think

Mozilla can run, with F11. in a full screen mode. I haven't figured out how to get rid of the right scrollbar, but after getting rid of all the extra stuff, even the overly busy interface of blogger leave room for me to see what I'm writing.

Add three postits over the brand logos on the monitor itself, and 2 over the mouse and keyboard - and finally, finally, there isn't a errant thought in sight - It's relaxing. there's enough space left to create... I went from room for a paragraph on the screen to room for this entire article - I can read it at a glance, comprehend it's chaos and be able to edit... I could probably edit it better, (sorry) but I'm off to try something I haven't done in a while.

Programming. Without an icon in sight.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003



Entrainment is when your body syncs to something flashing. I find it interesting that my pulse in front of this particular monitor is exactly 60BPM. I've got a monitor downstairs that I can run at 72Hz. I wonder what will happen if I try that?


Thalmus, theories, redux

After eating: 97.9F.

I've been wandering around "The Stress", "The Zone" and "Atkins" diets for 5 months. I've lost 23 lbs, and this morning, weighed 172. That's 43 pounds since august of last year. In theory, I have another 15-20 pounds to go.

I have noticed lately that I'm a lot more sensitive to food intake than I used to be. I used to just overeat - I remember countless triple decker peanut butter and jelly sandwitches - and now I'm allowed just two tbsp of peanut butter - barely enough to cover a cracker - if I was allowed crackers.

Food is the most powerful drug you'll ever take - and I've been swallowing whatever marketeer pushed down the nearest grocery isle. Up til now, that is. I've steered clear of the carbohydrates to great effect.

But I've been missing out on some subtle components of the diets. My mood and latest meal definately are related.
I just got measuring cups and teaspoons. The only place I know where to buy a scale is in a head shop. Hmm. Maybe a kitchen store will have one. For the first time in my life I'm going to try following a diet to the smallest decimal place.

Most people are boring as hell when they talk about their diets, so I'm going to stop talking about it now. I just summarized 5 months worth of dieting in one blog entry, so you should feel lucky.

I love the scientific method. I don't give a damn about the alignment of the stars. I care about results. I will try one theory, after another, until I find something that works, note down everything about it, because whatever I think it is, it may not be.

I had a high bilirubin, I thought that (a powerful anti-oxident) was doing something to me. Now, temporarily discarded - but it is past time to take a blood test.

I lost the ability to breathe on demand - mixed apnea - the standard cure for the physical apnea is to get on this stinking machine, lose weight, get surgery - I've made progress on that...

The cure for the central apnea? - no one knows. There's something deep in the limbic system of the brain - or is it the thalmus? that controls the breathing process. The western science shrinks jigger your brain around with antihistamines - amphetamines - sleeping pills.
The neurofeedback people are all into raising your body temperature and calming your mind through advanced devices. The GPs twiddle with your thalmus. The eastern-leaners use meditation and concentration on the breathing process - The californians - hot tubs and free love... I don't know what the heck they use to get to sleep in Washington D.C., but it must be some heavy stuff...

They're all right in some cases. In my case... I just gotta keep trying until I find something that works. I remember living and working in florida - hot, hot, hot florida - yet "Johnny Net" - the guy I was a the time - a combination of John Galt and Johnny Appleseed - always wore a hat. Makes me think that "thinking caps" actually work....

After playing piano really fast for 20 minutes - 98.1F.

After sitting at a computer this past half hour and blogging: 97.1. This a thing on the nuerotransmitter GABA was teasing. And I don't feel like going anywhere. I keep sitting here.

Get. Up. Get. a Shower. Get out. You have another doctor's appointment today.


Interesting datum - my BP was 96 over 54 today. At the same time as the test, temp was 97.1. Doc dismissed the idea, I'm fixated on it. New meds? Was I smoking and drinking coffee to artificially raise my blood pressure to a normal range? Something wrong with the diet? A cold? Too much surfing?

Hypothesis: blood pressure and body temp drops during the night to something unsustainable, and I wake up, barely alive. This would be one explanation for a cigarette at 3AM...

Test: Get your own BP monitor, pulse monitor, I've seen this kind of stuff at frys maybe there's something that can keep a log...

There's other, probably more important stuff that I have to type up from tape. My memory sucks today. But I learnt something about denial... I'll write on it later.

9:00 PM - 96.5F Pulse 60BPM.
9:18 PM 97.1F Pulse 72BPM. I played the piano as fast as I could for 10 minutes. The healing power of music... At rest 2 minutes - back to 96.6F. Hmm. Sure wish I'd done this sort of thing pathologically when I felt well....

I should probably rename this column postcards from within my navel - but fear not, ultimately I'll get around to talking about technology, if I managed to keep breathing long enough.

I have a jones for ice cream. I think I'll indulge it. It's been a rough day.




One toe is 30% larger than it needs to be. Ouch. The weather has chilled. I'm giving the beach a break today. Maybe I'll splurge later and get some booties to keep warmer. Warmth. Hmm, there's a concept. Yesterday I dozed for about 2 hours, 4 hours after surfing and took my temperature. 97.1F. I was getting sleepy around 11:30 before I posted the last blog and got a phone call - it was hard to get to sleep after talking to her... I threw off the machine after about two hours and woke up solidly at 4AM again - and took my temp again.


I was beat, tired, and cold, so I stayed in bed, and slept/dozed some more. This morning at 8AM: 96.1

After 5 minutes of exercise: 96.3

I'm trying not to draw early conclusions here, but so far as I can recall whenever I've been in front of a doc when I was feeling "well", my temp was below "normal". OK, OK - I'm not normal - it would be damn good to have some medical records to establish a baseline for what my normal temp is. It would be scientific. It would also be interesting to know what chemical reactions slow as your body temp drops below 98 degrees. Google calls!

My mom said something about temperature and ADHD the other day. I can't remember what it was...

Second thing is that now that: after writing "beating the brand" - and following its prescriptions - and taking some prescription drugs - I seem to be able to journal by hand every day. I remember what I ate, when. My short term memory is better - I can remember a phone number long enough to write it down. I remember some things I thought about in the car and told myself to remember, where before I always had to rant into a tape deck.

Still, the memory circuit is quite broken - 1 day after reading that economist cover to cover - I could remember the two stories that struck me and I blogged about. The rest - a total blank. I struggled for hours, while surfing monday, to recall the cover, or one other article.

I realized (to my horror) that I can look at a book I've read 5-10 years ago - and recall the plot, character names, character types, specific events, places it took place - but not the physical description of any character. I've probably always been autistic that way... but.

I look at any piece of fiction I've read in the past couple years - and the plot? vaguely. No other details.

I haven't read that much fiction lately, I've mostly been trying to read and retain medical books with a minimum of success. Monday, I also sat on the beach and finished the last half of "Strategies for dealing with ADD". I read the first half a month ago. I'd marked page after page in the early part of the book - and only a few random thoughts had stuck with me.

I've also realized (through journaling) that my diet has had a few flaws - I've unconciously followed a no-salt diet in my own cooking as a way of compensating for the fast food I constantly had for convienence. Instead of having high blood pressure like the rest of my family, mine checks out regularly at 110/80 - I'm proud of that - but that "balanced" system fell out of balance when I eliminated going out to eat.

I didn't drink milk or eat cheese - I looked over my suppliments and realized that unlike most people I'm actually short on sodium and magnesium. Hmm. Maybe that salty pre-cooked turkey breast that I was tearing 4 ounces off at a time 3 weeks ago was not such a bad thing after all. All that guilt I had for eating a prepared food... and yet I felt kind of balanced that week, more balanced than I do now. I didn't have the urges or the sound sensitivity.

2 days without a cigarette. 5 days on meds. Mostly finished writing a big piece. Able to keep a journal, and get out of the house. Maybe with a date this weekend, and limping... so she won't ask me to dance. :whew: Things are looking up.

I'm not at peace. I can't seem to clear my mind enough to sit still and meditate.
But this morning I remember "Yesterday was tuesday - you went to Satsang and tried to meditate"... and I retained some of what was said overnight.

Moke was on last night - he said: enlightenment is just that: you get light. It doesn't mean the absence of pain.

He said:
Tuesday, June 03, 2003


Real surf

I decided, if I'm going to be awake and semi-alert, every day, at 4:30 AM, I might as well drive to the beach, catch dawn, and catch some waves. Screw knocking myself out in a futile attempt to get 8 hrs of Zs in a row - maybe I'm just wired for 4 1/2 and a 2-3 hour doze. I'm definately wired to need exercise, solitude and a brand-free environment...

Hit of monday - Ana Nuevo - a beach break, just like the one I grew up on, only colder. Only 5 other surfers, all day. Surfing monday was like lining up pinballs in a machine. A set came in, everybody politely took the inside position on their wave, and rocketed down the beach. I

remembered being afraid to come there because of the sharks and then I thought: I'd rather face sharks than face route 17..

I spent a lot of time driving monday, in something of a fugue state.

Today, for the first time in two decades I managed to get up, get out of the house, and get to the beach before dawn. And catch some waves. I wiped out a lot... maybe broke a footbone near my middle toe, but I had a blast. I was done before 9, and, having purged my limbic system of a lot of stress. I took care of some pressing problems - by 1PM, I'd done everything I set out to do on monday.

I loved surfing back when I was 14, and I hated swim team.

Swimming is competition - there's a pecking order - a coach yelling at you to perform better when it's impossible - as you compete with people that had years of growth on you. You get harrassed in the dressing room, you puke before the meets from the stress, your mind can't stop thinking about doing anything, anything else besides one more lap. Your libido lives on overdrive. You're blind without glasses and everyone tells you there's a hole in the girl's bathing suit ahead of you. Your eyes hurt from the chlorine. You see the same, blurred, 25 meters of scenery over and over and over and over again for 3-4 hours at a stretch, day in, day out. For what? So you can cover 8 or 12 laps a few fractions of second faster than someone else? What's the point?

After a year and half on swim team, I lost it. I hated swimming laps. I hated meets. About the only positive thing I can say about swimming laps is that it's good anerobic exercise, and perhaps... the screaming coach, the senority hiearchy, the stress, and the harrassment were all intended as a not so gentle introduction to the dog-eat-dog corporate world.

I hated every minute of swim team.

Surfing, in contrast, is just you. And the wave. If a wave beats you, it doesn't care. You don't care. You just... try to learn from that wave... and catch the next one. You don't go for the biggest waves - just the best shaped ones. All waves are unique. You catch one, you slide down it, you manuever, you live in brief symbiosis with it, and after sharing that brief moment of life within the tube if you're lucky, you kick out. The wave roars up to the beach to expire and flow back into the sea and you say "thanks for the ride".

Sometimes you get caught inside when a set rolls through. You dive through the icy froth clutching your board, upside down. You get beat around and down, you spin, and... the impact of the cold water flushes your limbic system and attitude through your suit. You claw to surface - glad to be alive - and paddle like hell to get outside the point.

And then, you sit. And wait. And clear your mind. For the next wave.

Now, that's a few beautiful things about surfing. Too bad only in these past few days I remembered it. Because when I quit swimming, I also quit surfing - the emotional crap, the guilt - my parents, and coach, and teacher, and teamates had laid down on me about it confused me, made me quit both sources of stress. It took me a while longer to quit surfing entirely - it took being busted for cutting gym class (to spend 4-6 hours surfing) before I quit...

I then spent my exercise time not getting picked for basketball, or baseball, or football, idly kicking a medicine ball around when they cut the school budget one more time, instead of doing something I loved, and hating everything, and not understanding why.

If my foot ain't broke, I'm going surfing again in 7 hours. I have some catching up to do.
Sunday, June 01, 2003


Real Surfing is nothing like websurfing

WebSurfing is not at all like surfing. The use of surf in the description is as misleading a meme as piracy is to copying software.

And god, real surfing feels good. Well, if I could lift my arms, it would feel better now.

I've managed without a cigarette for 14 hours so far... you can't smoke em, even think of them, when you are out in the ocean. I didn't think about them until I got to the beach, and then, only briefly.

I just pulled both ebay auctions - too many emails - too many details - pictures, shipping costs - too much to handle - and now I don't have to face that XP box - I can, maybe, find a quiet place and write down what I need to do, and then work over the Limbic system it's attached to. Pretend it's a new box, not an old one with 2 years of your life on it stuck in a quantum state, and just build that...

Hell, maybe I can delagate the job to a local kid. Delegation - what a concept. My life worked so much better when I outsourced my filing, billing, laundry, cleaning - all the time and brainsucking things I was bad at I got rid of. I got some great press during the boom, that was all about that, too - I remember: Pushing off paperwork... especially.

I remember the photographer scrunching himself up against my ceiling to get this shot...

I remember that me now - I was happy - I led a band, I had a drummergirlfriend, I had my work life clicking over nicely... I could focus, I could concentrate, I kicked ass in 99.

If I can just recognise my own weaknesses and NOT confront them all at once, maybe I can get by.



Net addiction

I just wasted 2 hours in bed and an hour web surfing... when I could have been surfing surfing - like - in the ocean. Damn, and yesterday was head+. What am I thinking? Why am I blogging this?

I'm outta here.
David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.

My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
Orgs I like
The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
Musical stuff I like
Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Sharing your home network better in a time of covi... Designing for the disconnect Email lists going down the memory hole Instituting saner, professional source code manage... Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Zimnoiac Emanations
Eric Raymond
Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
Selenian Boondocks
My Pencil
Transterrestial Musings
Bear Waller Hollar
Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member

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