Saturday, December 15, 2007

God Hates Fags

I like documentaries. I watched one about the Westboro Baptist Church last night and, for some reason, it's still on my mind. Anyone seen these jackasses? For those who don't know, it's basically some ancient asshole whose daddy never hugged him, his kids and grand kids who can't find anyone else to stomach them and their vile ideals, who got together and made up their own church (which no one but the family, incidentally, attends). Their idea of a good time is to picket events like Gay Pride parades, colleges and fallen soldiers' funerals with signs that spew filth like "God hates fags", "God hates the USA", and "Thank God for dead soldiers" and regurgitate bible verses taken completely out of context to justify what they're doing.

My first reaction was something like "Who would even listen to this?" I thought it was kind of amusing in that bad-horror-film kind of way. There was just this shriveled up old man standing at the front of his family members, carrying on about fags destroying our civilization and God hating everyone blah blah blah while they sat there and just gorged themselves on this banquet of bullshit. There were one-on-one interviews with this guy with more of the same, only in a calmer tone of voice and wearing more casual clothing. Then it got really disturbing.

There was a young girl who was recounting the story of how she fell in love with and married her husband at a young age. He went off to Iraq and was killed in an attack. It was all very sad. So she's going to her husband's funeral when these knuckle-draggers show up with their Thank God for Dead Soldiers signs, yelling about how much God hated him and how much God wanted him dead. I was absolutely horrified!

The crowning jewel was the family interviews. The film maker went around to various family members asking them about their beliefs, etc. The grownups produced the expected parroted rhetoric they soaked up from Old Man Malice. The worst part was watching kids from about age 7-12 saying things like they want to kill the fags, but they can't because God wants to do it. It was so sad to watch the kids talk about how fun it was to hold up the signs to punish the fags. When asked, the kids all happily pointed out their favourite signs. When asked, the kids, by and large, didn't know why it was their favourite. When asked, most of the kids didn't understand what their slogans really meant. Most of them didn't even know what a 'fag' was. If you've ever wanted to know what a brainwashing looks like, watch this portion of the documentary.

Do people like this really exist? I guess i just can't understand how people can feel so much hatred toward someone they don't know. I don't understand how a person can, with so much malice and desire to inflict hurt, tell widows that their husbands deserved to die and that the world is a better place now that their faggy husbands have been blown to bits (how a woman's husband can be "faggy" is beyond me). How can people teach their children this kind of hatred, as though they were teaching them the alphabet or something equally casual? If they hate America and its fags so much, why are they still here? They walk all over the American flag (literally), the very symbol of the freedom that allows them to vomit up these pristinely ugly ideals. Then they turn around and cower behind it at the same time, demanding protection from those who would silence the verbal feces falling from their lips.

It's no secret that Christianity and i have an uneasy relationship, at best. I've known some really bad "Christians", whom i prefer to think of as Jesus Hypocrites. You know the type: Unleashes a steady stream of scripture-justification at you for their own misdeeds, and holds up the Christian lifestyle as superior to yours (hence, why they're a better person than you), but then doesn't actually *live* by that lifestyle while admonishing you for not doing it either; but it's okay for them because they're forgiven but you're evil sinning scum because you're not. The Kristi's of the world.

I've also known some really good people who're Christians. Kind, caring people who really want to help you be a better person, preferably their way but even still if their way isn't for you. The Judy's of the world. These are the people i genuinely feel bad for. People whose whole religion is besmirched by thes WBC beasts. I hate to think that good people could be cast under the same dark shade of the umbrella these hate-breeders uphold.

But most of all, i feel outrage for the targets of this sub-species of de-evolved human trash. No one should be subjected to persecution for simply being who they are, holding peaceful beliefs or serving their country. I truly hope people look on this cult with the loathing it deserves. Ultimately, i hope people see them and then dismiss them as unworthy of their notice. Let them rail against a society who refuses to hear their hate-filled messages. Let them scream themselves hoarse, and let their words die with their voices.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Not That Anyone Cares, But . . .

Say you have a favourite cereal at the only grocery store within 50 miles that sells it, and they run out. You go there, and find that they've not only run out, but won't be getting anymore for an undetermined amount of time due to a wheat shortage. What do you do? Do you call back daily to check the status of the wheat shortage? When you hear that the wheat shortage isn't over yet, do you start abusing the grocery store personnel because you're irritated? Or do you substitute a corn cereal in the mean time (which, while it isn't your preferred cereal, at least allows you to eat while the wheat shortage is happening)?

We're in the middle of a Mo-99 shortage, which means there are no generators being produced. This shortage has been ongoing for the last week and, though we hoped it'd be over by Wednesday, it doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon.

We've been doing our best to service as many of our full-time customers as we can by asking them to reschedule some of the heavier patients and cutting cardiac doses back to 10- and 25mCi and bone doses back to 20mCi. Not the optimal dosage, true, but still produces a perfectly diagnosable image in a patient that isn't too heavy. We also suggested substituting Tl-201 for the 10mCi resting doses. Again, not optimal, but images adequately, and it's a temporary measure.

At first, people were pretty understanding (with the exception of a couple of people who, naturally, think that they're our most important customers and should be treated accordingly). But as time wears on, tempers are growing shorter. Yesterday a few people behaved as though we were intentionally holding back on them. A few went so far as to accuse us of making the shortage seem worse than it actually is.

For what?! Why would we deny our customers doses?! We're a business, for chrissakes, how can we make money if we choose not to sell products?! It makes no sense. So apparently, the consensus is that if they're jerky to us, the shortage will end and they'll get what they want. I just don't get it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

You Think YOU'VE Got Problems?!

I love my dog. Seriously, he's like my miracle child. Practically came back from the dead to be this lively, healthy, happy, affectionate, but very dumb creature. LOVE my dog.

I don't like to give him people food because it usually ends up as a brown, cocoa-looking puddle somewhere on my floor half an hour later. He's never been discontent with his own dog food, so for the most part, i give him that and don't really think anything of it. That's not to say that he doesn't practically trip me and break my neck whenever i go into the kitchen to make a meal. He does. For some reason i'll never fathom, he always seems to think i'm going in there specifically to prepare something for him, as though any time i've ever cooked spaghetti, i've unfailingly put it directly into his bowl once i was finished. But hey, i guess you gotta have a dream, right?

The one thing i've discovered i can give him without upsetting his delicate stomach (and, inevitably, his delicate bowels), is bread. So whenever there's that heel at the end of the loaf that i know is going to sit on the countertop until it looks like a sheet of gray-green chalk dust someone decided to place in a bread bag, i like to give it to him. The first time i gave it to him, he leapt up all expectantly and when i gave it to him, he walked away with his head and tail proudly erect, and at a brisk trot signalling his victory to the entire household. He paraded with it hanging out of his mouth around the couch a few times and back over to the desk area and then back into the kitchen, just to remind me of his good fortune. It's good to be the Bean.

Once the heady sense of his own luck dissipated, he was left there with the bread, still hanging out of his mouth. I'm never sure what emotion he was experiencing at that point as he stared intently at me. There we were, staring at each other in the kitchen; me curiously at him, and him expectantly at me. And then he walked back into the living room with an entirely different gait. Slowly, almost listlessly. And once he got there he let out the biggest, gustiest, most wearisome sigh i've ever heard a dog express.

Well, that's not exactly what i was expecting. I walked out to see what was the matter and there he was: standing over his piece of bread looking at me with this 'YOU did this to me!!!' look on his face. I tried to maintain a look of seriousness as i asked, 'Whatsamatta, Beaner Weener?'. He stood there and looked at me, then looked at the bread, and then back at me. And then he started to whine.

Whine?! I took a step toward him, and he quickly scooped up the piece of bread and loped a little ways away from me and then stood there look at me, whining with this bread hanging out of his mouth. I just burst out laughing. It was the most ridiculous thing i'd seen him do in a long time. So i went back into the kitchen, and he followed me in there, bread in mouth, crying like it was three hours past mealtime. Then he paced around the whole house, slowly and whining the whole time. He'd drop back in periodically to look at me with his ears drooping and sighing, as though i'd placed the biggest burden on him. As though no dog in the history of the world had ever had such an impossible trial to face, and he wanted me to know that it was i, his loving momma, who inflicted this terrible task in the form of a piece of bread upon him. A veritable little brown and black Atlas with the weight of the world dangling from his mouth. I could see how his bottom jaw trembled with the effort of supporting it.

So, like any good martyr, he eventually walked into the living room, deposited his burden on the floor and slowly began to consume it, whining and protesting the whole time. And, like a good martyr, he refused to let go of the terrible thing that plagued him; instead, he bore it dramatically and publicly, so everyone could see how hard he's really got it.

He does this every single time i give him bread.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

So back to this whole Ryan business. I kinda sat back after he left and thought of all the things i SHOULD have done at the time.

I should have told him right away that he needs to introduce people when he brings them into our house.

I should have told them that Jim's hint wasn't a request.

I should have told them I was uncomfortable with their behaviour.

I should have flipped on the light and told that bitch to go home.

But i didn't... I honestly didn't know how to react at the time and as much as i wish i had my wits about me at the time, i didn't. I have always been great with imagining what i should have done at the time ten minutes too late. Gotta love that hindsight, eh?

So what i plan to do is this:

1. He gets a nice big lecture about permission. Also, how i expect him to conduct himself in the presence of friends in my house. After all, if we're too embarrassing to be introduced, then his friends really don't have any business over here in the first place.

2. He gets to have zero friends over for the forseeable future. That's for not satisfying the conditions of my permission before doing as he asked, and not having the courtesy to introduce them.

3. No more girls in the bedroom. That's for treating my house like a fucking rent-by-the-quarter-hour-no-tell-motel.

I know he's a teenager, i know he's exploring his boundaries or whatever. But as far as i'm concerned, he's not grown yet (as evidenced by his immature behaviour) and boundary exploration doesn't allow for nor excuse disrespect.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Abused Hospitality

I consider myself to be a pretty liberal person. I pretty much feel that as long as you're not hurting yourself or someone else (or putting anyone in danger of being hurt), and you're taking care of your responsibilities, you should be able to do whatever you like. I grew up with a pretty Nazi-ish father whose views were pretty much the opposite: Stay home and do absolutely nothing so that i can watch what you're doing at all times. I found that to be rather chafing at times, to say the least, and i figured if i ever had kids i wouldn't want to subject them to that kind of restriction.

As it turns out, i never had any kids, but i wound up with a couple of step kids instead. That suits me just fine. They have a perfectly functional father and (in spite of how i may feel about her personally) a servicable mother. With this in mind, i don't do much in the way of parenting for either kid; instead, i try to offer advice when they need it and leave them alone when they don't. My rules that govern my house are pretty simple: Take care of your responsibilities and be considerate. As long as both of those conditions are met, everyone pretty much goes along unfucked-with.

Now, we finally come to where i'm going with this. Last Wednesday, Ryan sent me a text message asking if he can have a friend over on Sunday. Thing is, i don't like having people over when the house isn't neat. The house wasn't a complete wreck, and since it was his guest, i figured he could straighten up. I replied "Sure, as long as you straighten up first". He replied "Alright".

Now, i'm not psychotic about how my house looks. I don't require that it look like a model home or unlived in. Just don't have shit all over the floor or dishes in the sink. Maybe wipe down the countertops and straighten up your desk. By no means am i going to come through with a white glove to criticize the job.

So Saturday, he asked what time can she come over (i learn now that the friend is a 'she'. No big deal, just info i didn't previously have). At this point, he hasn't done anything but take out the trash when asked. So i told him anytime after 11 am. I resisted the urge to tell him 'After you straighten up', because i didn't want to nag (which i'm prone to doing when people don't do what i want them to do when i think it should be done).

Sunday came around, and he still hadn't picked up. So i asked Jim if she changed her mind about coming over, and he said that she was in fact, already on her way. I was pretty peeved about that because Ryan still hadn't straightened up. Apparently, there was some confusion on Ryan's part about what qualified as 'straightening up', and Jim told him to come ask me what i needed. He opted not to do that, and instead elected to do nothing at all.

So this girl shows up, and Ryan takes her into his room. No introduction, nothing. Just straight for the room. I don't mind if the boys have girls in their room as long as the door is open, but i thought that not introducing someone was pretty fucking rude. I walked by, and they're just sitting in there holding hands and watching TV. Fine, i decided, i'd talk to him about how i felt later. Jim went in and tried to hint drop a hint and told them they could change the channel on the big tv in the living room. They said thanks, and didn't move.

As time went on, they went from sitting and holding hands to laying together under the covers in bed with the light off. I was so uncomfortable! I didn't even want to walk past the room to go to the bathroom. It was getting pretty late, and Jim and i were hungry. I was pissed off, and didn't want to cook for this girl i didn't even have the priveledge of meeting, nor did i want to go out to get something and leave the two of them anymore alone than they'd already made themselves.

So about 7:30, she decided to leave. They came out of the room, and walked right out the front door, without a word said. Ryan strolled casually into the kitchen and asked what was i cooking for dinner. It took all my self-control to not blow up at him. I was seething.

So am i overreacting to this? Or is it reasonable to expect that if i put a condition on permission for something, that the conditions be met before the permission is taken advantage of? Am i old fashioned for wanting to meet people who walk through my door for the first time? And if someone says to me 'friend', am i being prudish for being shocked at them taking this 'friend' to bed half an hour after they arrive? Jim has left what's to be done about this in my hands. But i'm already running late and i don't have time to go on about it now.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fucking Insomnia

It's ridiculous how when i can sleep i don't even think about it, i just do it. It's also ridiculous how when i can't, it's all i can think about. As i lay awake pretending that if i don't open my eyes i'll just drift right off, i can't help but steal glances at the clock. That's the worst thing. "Only 6 more hours to sleep". "Only 5 more hours". "Fuck, i've only got 4 hours left. I'm going to be so tired tomorrow". And so on until it's pretty much time to get up.

Or, if i can manage not to look at the clock, i can't stop thinking of things. Sometimes important or stressful things, but not necessarily. Roz is gonna be pissed if i don't write that audit response soon. I really need to get the sink fixed so i can run the dishwasher without flooding the undersink. Hmm..what should i eat for lunch today? I think i want a sweater for Christmas this year. The next book in the series doesn't come out till next November, what'm i gonna read till then? And so on.

And then the next day i walk through in a daze. In the beginning it isn't so bad, my attention just wanders a bit. As it progresses, and i get less and less sleep, people start asking me if i'm mad at them, because i forget things like saying hello, or i stop listening to someone mid sentence in an obvious way.

Toward the end, right before i crash, i feel like everything that's happening to me is happening to someone else and i'm just watching. People are pissed at me because i'm too tired/lazy to do my share of our work and my own work. I struggle to stay awake when it isn't appropriate for me to sleep. I snap at people whether they deserve it or not. I stop liking the kids. I pretty much stop liking everyone, and i feel like the feeling is mutual.

So i started this new drug Rozerem. It's not quite as good as i'd hoped it'd be because though it helps me fall asleep really fast and doesn't make me feel hung over the next morning, it doesn't keep me asleep. So i still wake up a lot at night. On the whole, i have to say it's better than the alternative. Anyway, if you're currently in my life, and i've been a douche clown toward you lately, i'm sorry. I'm trying to get better.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wounds Don't Heal

...If you don't quit picking at the scab. Or, so i keep telling myself.

A year or so ago, i found out my mother in law has been leaking details about my and Jim's personal lives to Jim's exwife (who shall from here on out be referred to as the WBC- whorebitchcunt). I can't for the life of me figure out why she'd do a thing like that. When they were still married, the WBC treated my mominlaw like shit. They never had a very good relationship, in spite of the fact that mominlaw's a really nice lady. Anyway, since they've been split, the WBC's still not been very nice to her, except when she wants something (typical of her).

So last year, mominlaw did something i'd expressly asked her never to do: try to push her religious beliefs on me. Now, mominlaw and i have had this discussion before, and i've told her about the treatment i've suffered at the hands of my more "faithful" family members. I told her i love and accept her for who she is, and that i'd appreciate if she'd return the favour. She always had, and i was so relieved and so thankful. Then, out of the blue, she wrote my husband a letter encouraging him to try and bring me into the fold. I guess at some point in his youth, he was also a Christian and is no longer practicing (i'm guessing mominlaw is unaware of his straying from the ole flock), so she thought he'd be the perfect tool.

Needless to say, i was both livid and hurt at the same time. Being the sort of person to just blow up and say anything that comes across my little mind, regardless of how harmful it will be to the future of my relationship with the person i'm blowing up at, i decided it'd be best if i didn't talk with her until i'd calmed down. So i waited, and a few months went by, but still i felt horribly betrayed. Meanwhile, she tried to contact me repeatedly, and i wouldn't answer. Jim tried to caution her to just leave me alone and let me come to her in my own time.

Unfortunately, she didn't listen. So about the time i started feeling like maybe i could talk to her about why i was so upset with her, she decided to cry on the WBC's shoulder about "how badly we've been treating her". Poor mominlaw probably thought that the WBC, being a sister Christian and all, would keep their communications confidential. Unfortunately for her, the WBC likes to gloat, and did so to Jim's oldest son. Jim's oldest son happens to be very close to us, and let us know what was going on.

How could she?! Of all the people in her life to complain to, why did she have to choose that one? How dare she betray the intimate details of our lives to that awful woman?! So i was betrayed again. And, to make matters worse, apparently it wasn't the first time she'd done that. As it turns out, every time she became annoyed with Jim or me, she'd gripe about us to her.

So i didn't talk to her again for a while. Now, so you understand, i don't do this to hurt or torment people; it's the exact opposite. I know my temper well, and i know i'm likely to say things i can't take back. I do it to preserve my relationships. So i finally ended up writing a letter explaining to her that i felt twice betrayed by her. I was careful, and i edited a great many times, just to keep the anger out of my tone and get my feelings across. I wanted very badly for her to understand what i was going through. She got my letter, and wrote me back, and had the gall to deny everything.

At that point, Jim talked to her and got her to see that lying wasn't going to help her keep a relationship with me. She admitted what she'd done and apologized, and i've been doing my best ever since to accept that apology. I try to tell myself that in the greater grand scheme of things, it's more important to have a good and loving relationship with the first significant other's mother who'd ever shown me any kindness. As much as i try not to think about what happened, i just can't help it. It's like a nice, big scab on my knee that itches and just begs to be picked at. I want to forgive her. I really do. I don't know what i need to do make it happen. The worst thing is, i know she'll do it again, and i just can't accept that.

So now there's a raw place where there used to be a good relationship with mominlaw. I love her so much, but things will never be the same if i don't figure out how to stop picking.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Dress Code

The dress code:

A sign of professionalism? A necessary evil? A nazi-conformist mind-control tactic?

Recently, the mode of dress of what my regional manager refers to as the "professional staff" (by "professional staff", he means pharmacists, pharmacy techs, Administrative assistants, the manager, and the RSO) has come under fire in my lab. Let me give you a bit of relevant background information about the "professional staff": they never leave the lab, and are never seen by customers or patients. EVER.

So you're probably thinking, "Score! Jeans and tshirts and comfy clothing for all!", right? Well, the rest of us always thought so, too. Apparently, this is a big sore spot with our RM. He has passed down an MBO (I can never remember what MBO stands for, but i know my boss's raise depends on achieving them) to my boss, stating that the professionalism is lacking in our lab, and she is to remedy it immediately. And by "professionalism is lacking", he means he hates our comfy clothing. In response to this, my boss has passed down a Thou Shalt Not Wear Comfy Clothing edict: khakis/slacks in place of jeans, and polo/button-down shirts in place of tshirts and hoodies, and no white tennis shoes. For reasons i can't fathom, the RM seems to think that the more stuffy and uncomfortable our clothing is, the more professional and productive we are. This bothers me for a plethora of reasons:

1. We wear lab coats. They're long, and cover us down to about mid-calf. You can't tell the difference between a polo shirt and a tshirt underneath them anyway!

2. It gets really hot when you're working in front of the fume hoods. Long sleeves are an impossibility, which leaves polo shirts as the only option. Polo shirts are, in my opinion, itchy and uncomfortable.

3. I don't draw doses or compound drugs any faster for wearing slacks instead of jeans.

4. I'm on my feet 8 hours a day. Why can't i wear shoes that DON'T hurt my feet??

5. After ten years of wearing whatever the hell i want to this job, I don't own any of the required clothing, and am now obligated to go out and spend money on clothing i hate.

Go ahead and ask me if they're going to reimburse us for acquiring what's basically a work uniform (The answer to that, incidentally, is "It's not in the budget"... as if a new wardrobe is in MY budget). Or, better yet, ask if we're getting a cost-of-living raise when minimum wage increases, to help offset this added expense (i probably don't need to tell you what the answer to that one is).

So i have to ask: Why is it so important for a bunch of people who basically don't see the light of day for 9 hours to look professional? It isn't going to inspire confidence in our ability to deliver time-sensitive, sterile drugs in patients and doctors who never see us. None of us give a shit what anyone else in the lab is wearing. Is the dress code really a necessary thing, or just a mechanism for keeping those of us with less than savvy fashion sense from being eye sores? Isn't the lab coat enough protection from fashion atrocity?

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Reluctant, Much Desired Friend

It's been a while. Interestingly, i find it difficult to gather and organize my thoughts when i haven't written in a long time, so if this seems disjointed, i'm sorry for that. I want to talk about friends, a little bit, and one person in particular.

There's a girl i'm friendly with at work, i'll call her 'Jane' (i don't know why i'm bothering, none of you know her or anything, but i just feel better if i don't call her out by her real name). Anyway, when i still lived in Illinois, we looked forward to my imminent move to Indiana with the anticipation of hanging out more and becoming friends outside of work. We talked about the cool things we'd do together and i was really excited about it because she'd only be the second real friend i've made since i moved here (which is kind of my own fault; When i was living in Houston, i was "friends" with a few girls i didn't really like and i've been trying to be careful to avoid doing that again) and i've been a little lonely for female companionship.

So our house deal finally came through and we moved to Indiana. Things were a little hectic in the beginning, trying get everything moved, the old place cleaned out adequately, and things semi-settled in at the new place.

Things have been mostly back to normal the last few month or so, and i've been trying to hook up with Jane. Mostly, we've either had Robbie over and i didn't want to bother her with that kid, or her boyfriend's been unavailable. We've managed to get together a few times with her boyfriend (whom i'm going to call 'John'), but every time we do, it seems like one of them isn't happy. We went bowling once, and John was irritated because he had to work the next day (around 3 am) and he was going to be tired. We went to the movies, and John was irritated because...well, i'm not even sure why. Last weekend at the demolition derby, John was mad because Jane wouldn't let him put his arm around her in the eight thousand degree weather. John has the irritating and rude habit of sulking when he's mad about something, which in turn affects Jane's mood. It just seemed to me like John didn't want to be around us.

I'd pretty much been blaming John for things going wrong, until Saturday, when we went to the Renaissance festival. The plan was to meet at my house, have breakfast and all drive up in one vehicle. It's kind of far away, and it just didn't make any sense to waste all that gas, or risk getting separated since me and Jim were the only ones who knew how to get there. I was kind of waiting for Jane and John to call and make an excuse to either not ride up with us, or not go at all. That morning, they called and told us they needed to ride in their own car because of something to do with her mom. I was completely unsurprised, but disappointed at the same time. "Oh, well, at least they're still coming", i thought.

So we got together, had breakfast, and then headed out. We gave them directions in case they got separated from us (it's actually really easy to get there, but in hindsight, i kind of wish i'd made them a map). He managed to get lost in Gary because he somehow missed I-94. It's the area he freakin' grew up in, i don't know how getting off on 94 confused him. So anyway, they ended up getting there about half an hour after we did. Not a big deal.

Jane called from the front gate and we made our way over there to join up. When we got there five minutes later, they'd already wandered off. I called them and told them we were there, and she said, "Oh, we're at the mud show." I was like, "Well, are you coming back?" She seemed kind of reluctant, but they did come back. So we were all together and we started off to go look at stuff. Basically, the whole time we were there, she and John kind of wandered off and did their own thing, occasionally coming back for a few minutes to rejoin the group, and then leaving again. It started raining, and that kind of sucked, and eventually she called saying she was leaving. Alright, i understand, no one wants to be outside shopping in the rain like that. We said we were right behind her and the next plan was to meet up at an outlet mall that we'd passed on the way.

Jim didn't really want to go, and i understand that, as i'm not a big shopper myself. So we go there, and i called Jane to let her know we were there. She was disappointed because she couldn't get her nose pierced (why she thought she could get that done at an outlet mall is beyond me, but whatever). So we tried to make dinner plans, and Jane suggested the Rainforest Cafe there in the mall. I didn't think it was a good idea because i knew what kind of food they offered there, and i knew Jim wouldn't eat any of it. Jim, being the sweetie he is, agreed to go there anyway just so there wouldn't be any difficulty. There was a 30 minute wait if we joined some club, and an hour wait if we didn't. John and Jane seemed really angry about that because they were so hungry (why they didn't snack at the fest is also beyond me). So we tried to suggest one of the restaurants outside the mall and they dismissed the suggestions as taking too long. So we ended up eating in the mall food court. I hate mall food courts, but i ate there anyway to be agreeable. Now everyone's irritated for one reason or another, and everyone's trying not to show it. It got pretty late and Jim was ready to go, but we ended up shopping around for a bit (Jane and John had already left, big surprise there). So we went home and went to bed.

So the point of talking about Saturday is this: I used to think John didn't like or want to be around us and Jane did. Now i'm not sure Jane really wants to be friends anymore either. She's the kind of person who thinks it'd spare my feelings to cover up the fact that she's changed her mind about being friends outside of work rather than just to come out and say "It isn't working". So i can't even rely on her to be honest if i voice my concerns to her. And then there's the chance i'm just reading way too much into some bad luck situations.

But then when John isn't around, she's a completely different person. Sometimes when she declines doing things because John has to work, i want to say, "So? Let him fend for himself for an evening and just come!" But i'm sure i wouldn't appreciate if someone suggested the same to me if Jim wasn't available for an activity. So the question i can't find the answer to: Is it John? Or is John just the excuse? Or did she just decide, after more exposure to me, that i suck?

Now i have a few thoughts and feelings. One: It's really rude to sulk if you're in a group. It ruins everyone's mood. I feel like if you're in a tiff with your girl/boyfriend, you really aught to put it away until you're in private. It seems like whenever Jane and John are around us, he's mad at her or she's mad at him, and she has to whisper what's wrong on the way to the bathroom or something. Then there's the awkwardness of knowing what's wrong and pretending like you don't notice anything's amiss. We're not in highschool, so grow up ffs.

Two: If you don't want to be there, don't be! You're just going to ruin everyone else's time if you show up to be polite.

Three: If you're going on a group date, shouldn't you stay together, for the most part? I mean, the whole time we were there, i pretty much felt like we were some couples at the same place at the same time, and not like we were there there to hang out together. Idano, maybe i'm just being sensitive.

I'm thinking i probably won't invite them some place again. I don't want to put any pressure on her to hang out with me if it isn't what she wants to do. So now i'm stuck thinking about this girl who's really funny and usually fun to be around, whom i have a lot in common with, who'd planned to be friends me, whom i still want to be friends with. And i just don't think it's going to work out.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Argue, If You Must, But Don't Fight

My second wedding anniversary is coming up in a week and some change. It's -really- hard to believe that i even got married in the first place, let alone that it's already been two years. Time really does fly when you're having fun, and i'm having a -blast-.

So, with that milestone coming up, naturally relationship success is on my mind. What makes this one different from the other ones? What are the necessary ingredients for the survival of a good, happy, long-term relationship with another person?

Well, to answer my first question i'd have to compare my marriage to past relationships, and i really don't like to do that. I respect all of my relationships for the experience they've given me, the person they've helped shape me into, and for helping me understand what it is i really want from a person. Above all, i respect them for helping prepare me for the real thing.

So on to the second question. I believe the list is short, but essential: Honesty, trust, forgiveness, communication, compatibility and of course, love. I don't think any relationship can be complete or happy if even one of these is missing. I guess i'll start from the back of the list, since it's the easiest one to talk about.

Love. Well, that's kind of self-explanatory.

Compatibility. Everyone's heard the phrase 'Opposites attract'. This is true, i suppose, to some degree, but you seldom hear about opposites still being together after 25 years. Long term relationships can be hard enough at times without throwing lack of things in common into the mix. Without some degree of common interest, it's easy to stop doing things together and grow apart. Without some degree of common belief, priorities, values, or views on issues, the playful debates can eventually become bitter fighting. I'm not saying two people have to agree on everything in order to stay together, but I really believe there's only so much oppositeness a relationship can handle. Having similar interests and similar core values really makes things a whole lot easier.

Communication. When things are going well, communication is the easiest thing in the world. It's when things aren't going so well, just talking to (and knowing how to talk to) your partner becomes more difficult than you'd ever imagined. I've found that arguing with your partner is inevitable, but fighting is always a bad idea. When you're upset or angry with your partner, it's REALLY hard to tell that person what's wrong without lashing out at them or pointing fingers. It is absolutely vital to understand that some things can't be taken back once said, and how hard it is to heal from that kind of wound. It's even more important to be able to keep that in the back of your mind while you're arguing. Being able to walk away from a person and tell them you can't talk to them right now, and continuing the arguement once the heads have cooled is one of the most difficult skills i've had to acquire. The other is getting over the need to win or be right. Instead of trying to be right, try to get them to understand where you're coming from (keep in mind, this isn't an easy thing to do in the middle of an arguement; expect some resistance, but be patient and keep trying). Return the favour: try to understand what your partner is trying to say. Even if you don't agree with what your parter is saying, it's really hard to fight about something you've truly made the effort to understand. At the end of the day, your relationship has to be more important to you than being right or winning.

Honesty and trust are impossible to separate. You can't have trust without being honest with each other. If you aren't honest with your partner, it'll always come back to bite you in the ass sometime down the line. If you've fucked up, just come out and tell him/her. Trust is a difficult thing to regain once it's been lost, and can be a terrible source of frustration for the person trying to regain it. Inevitably, the person who isn't honest (and gets caught) thinks they've done enough to regain the trust, while the offended person may not agree. They may not understand that the offended person isn't trying to make them suffer or jump through hoops, that it's just that hard to believe what someone's saying once they've lied. Not being trusted hurts and is (for lack of a better word) really inconvenient. Telling the truth and being honest aren't always easy, but they're always easier than trying to make someone believe you're telling the truth and being honest.

Finally, there's forgiveness (i jumped a little out of order..sorry for that). Understand that nobody is perfect, and your partner is going to make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes are going to hurt. You are going to make mistakes, and sometimes, those mistakes are going to hurt your partner. Lick your wounds for a minute if you have to, it's a natural thing to want to do. Then get over it. Don't hold those mistakes and hurts over your partner's head... you already know you don't want them to do that to you. Chances are, your partner is already hurting knowing that they've hurt you, and being forgiven will help you both to heal. Don't just say the words. Mean it.

Well! That turned out to be a lot longer (and more than a little lecture-ish) than i intended. Anyway, Jim and i have been together for five years, and married for almost two. I feel we have a healthy mix of love, honesty, trust, forgiveness, communication and compatibility. While things haven't always been easy for us, the effort we've both put into (and continue to put into) the care and nurturing of our relationship and each other has carried us past rocky times and brought us a lot of happiness. I feel this relationship is going to be there to comfort us when we're old. I think we're going to look back on big arguements we've had and laugh at how big we thought they were at the time. I have faith in our love and its strength; I believe it will grow with us. I am happy in my marriage and with my husband. I love you, Jim.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How Is This Legal?!

Car insurance: The biggest scam in the world.

Joe Safedriver is your average responsible driver. He gets his oil changed every three thousand miles, he wears his seat belt, pays his car note on time and purchases full coverage insurance. Joe Safedriver has never had a wreck, and has been with the same insurance company for ten years, paying his premiums in a timely fashion. One day, Joe Safedriver, for all his safeness, finally has his first car wreck. He's partially at fault, and thankfully no one is injured. His insurance company comes to his rescue, fixing his car in little time, and he's back on the road doing his safeness thing.

Four months later, when his insurance is up for renewal, he notices a HUGE premium increase. Outraged, he calls up his insurance company to (politely) demand an explanation for his rate hike. The customer service lady cheerfully informs him that due to his recent incident, he is now considered a "High Risk Driver" and the underwriters were required to increase his rates as a safeguard against his tarnished driving record.

So Joe Safedriver's been paying his $1200 a year for the last ten years with no accidents or tickets. Joe Safedriver has paid $12,000 to his insurance company, $0 of which they have had to spend on him. Why, then, is he required to pay more after an accident? Even if they had to spend $5000 to fix Joe's car, they've still made $7000 in profit (Joe's idea of profit being money a company has taken from him and not had to spend on him).

What crap!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Last Question

I just finished reading this story, and really liked it. Thought i'd share it with anyone who reads this 8)

The Last Question
By Isaac Asimov

This is by far my favorite story of all those I have written.

After all, I undertook to tell several trillion years of human history in the space of a short story and I leave it to you as to how well I succeeded. I also undertook another task, but I won't tell you what that was lest l spoil the story for you.

It is a curious fact that innumerable readers have asked me if I wrote this story. They seem never to remember the title of the story or (for sure) the author, except for the vague thought it might be me. But, of course, they never forget the story itself especially the ending. The idea seems to drown out everything -- and I'm satisfied that it should.

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five-dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face -- miles and miles of face -- of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough. So Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share in the glory that was Multivac's.

For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth's poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.

But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.

The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.

Seven days had not sufficed to dim the glory of it and Adell and Lupov finally managed to escape from the public functions, and to meet in quiet where no one would think of looking for them, in the deserted underground chambers, where portions of the mighty buried body of Multivac showed. Unattended, idling, sorting data with contented lazy clickings, Multivac, too, had earned its vacation and the boys appreciated that. They had no intention, originally, of disturbing it.

They had brought a bottle with them, and their only concern at the moment was to relax in the company of each other and the bottle.

"It's amazing when you think of it," said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. "All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever."

Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. "Not forever," he said.

"Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert."

"That's not forever."

"All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Ten billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?"

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. "Ten billion years isn't forever."

"Well, it will last our time, won't it?"

"So would the coal and uranium."

"All right, but now we can hook up each individual spaceship to the Solar Station, and it can go to Pluto and back a million times without ever worrying about fuel. You can't do that on coal and uranium. Ask Multivac, if you don't believe me.

"I don't have to ask Multivac. I know that."

"Then stop running down what Multivac's done for us," said Adell, blazing up, "It did all right."

"Who says it didn't? What I say is that a sun won't last forever. That's all I'm saying. We're safe for ten billion years, but then what?" Lupow pointed a slightly shaky finger at the other. "And don't say we'll switch to another sun."

There was silence for a while. Adell put his glass to his lips only occasionally, and Lupov's eyes slowly closed. They rested.

Then Lupov's eyes snapped open. "You're thinking we'll switch to another sun when ours is done, aren't you?"

"I'm not thinking."

"Sure you are. You're weak on logic, that's the trouble with you. You're like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn't worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one."

"I get it," said Adell. "Don't shout. When the sun is done, the other stars will be gone, too."

"Darn right they will," muttered Lupov. "It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it'll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won't last a hundred million years. The sun will last ten billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last two hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that's all."

"I know all about entropy," said Adell, standing on his dignity.

"The hell you do."

"I know as much as you do."

"Then you know everything's got to run down someday."

"All right. Who says they won't?"

"You did, you poor sap. You said we had all the energy we needed, forever. You said 'forever.'

It was Adell's turn to be contrary. "Maybe we can build things up again someday," he said.


"Why not? Someday."


"Ask Multivac."

"You ask Multivac. I dare you. Five dollars says it can't be done."

Adell was just drunk enough to try, just sober enough to be able to phrase the necessary symbols and operations into a question which, in words, might have corresponded to this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Multivac fell dead and silent. The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended.

Then, just as the frightened technicians felt they could hold their breath no longer, there was a sudden springing to life of the teletype attached to that portion of Multivac. Five words were printed: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

"No bet," whispered Lupov. They left hurriedly.

By next morning, the two, plagued with throbbing head and cottony mouth, had forgotten the incident.

Jerrodd, Jerrodine, and Jerrodette I and II watched the starry picture in the visiplate change as the passage through hyperspace was completed in its non-time lapse. At once, the even powdering of stars gave way to the predominance of a single bright shining disk, the size of a marble, centered on the viewing-screen.

"That's X-23," said Jerrodd confidently. His thin hands clamped tightly behind his back and the knuckles whitened.

The little Jerrodettes, both girls, had experienced the hyperspace passage for the first time in their lives and were self-conscious over the momentary sensation of insideoutness. They buried their giggles and chased one another wildly about their mother, screaming, "We've reached X-23 -- we've reached X-23 -- we've --"

"Quiet, children." said Jerrodine sharply. "Are you sure, Jerrodd?"

"What is there to be but sure?" asked Jerrodd, glancing up at the bulge of featureless metal just under the ceiling. It ran the length of the room, disappearing through the wall at either end. It was as long as the ship.

Jerrodd scarcely knew a thing about the thick rod of metal except that it was called a Microvac, that one asked it questions if one wished; that if one did not it still had its task of guiding the ship to a preordered destination; of feeding on energies from the various Sub-galactic Power Stations; of computing the equations for the hyperspatial jumps.

Jerrodd and his family had only to wait and live in the comfortable residence quarters of the ship. Someone had once told Jerrodd that the "ac" at the end of "Microvac" stood for ''automatic computer" in ancient English, but he was on the edge of forgetting even that.

Jerrodine's eyes were moist as she watched the visiplate. "I can't help it. I feel funny about leaving Earth."

"Why, for Pete's sake?" demanded Jerrodd. "We had nothing there. We'll have everything on X-23. You won't be alone. You won't be a pioneer. There are over a million people on the planet already. Good Lord, our great-grandchildren will be looking for new worlds because X-23 will be overcrowded." Then, after a reflective pause, "I tell you, it's a lucky thing the computers worked out interstellar travel the way the race is growing."

"I know, I know," said Jerrodine miserably.

Jerrodette I said promptly, "Our Microvac is the best Microvac in the world."

"I think so, too," said Jerrodd, tousling her hair.

It was a nice feeling to have a Microvac of your own and Jerrodd was glad he was part of his generation and no other. In his father's youth, the only computers had been tremendous machines taking up a hundred square miles of land. There was only one to a planet. Planetary ACs they were called. They had been growing in size steadily for a thousand years and then, all at once, came refinement. In place of transistors, had come molecular valves so that even the largest Planetary AC could be put into a space only half the volume of a spaceship.

Jerrodd felt uplifted, as he always did when he thought that his own personal Microvac was many times more complicated than the ancient and primitive Multivac that had first tamed the Sun, and almost as complicated as Earth's Planetarv AC (the largest) that had first solved the problem of hyperspatial travel and had made trips to the stars possible.

"So many stars, so many planets," sighed Jerrodine, busy with her own thoughts. "I suppose families will be going out to new planets forever, the way we are now."

"Not forever," said Jerrodd, with a smile. "It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know. Entropy must increase.

"What's entropy, daddy?" shrilled Jerrodette II.

"Entropy, little sweet, is just a word which means the amount of running-down of the universe. Everything runs down, you know, like your little walkie-talkie robot, remember?"

"Can't you just put in a new power-unit, like with my robot?"

"The stars are the power-units. dear. Once they're gone, there are no more power-units."

Jerrodette I at once set up a howl. "Don't let them, daddy. Don't let the stars run down."

"Now look what you've done," whispered Jerrodine, exasperated.

"How was I to know it would frighten them?" Jerrodd whispered back,

"Ask the Microvac," wailed Jerrodette I. "Ask him how to turn the stars on again."

"Go ahead," said Jerrodine. "It will quiet them down." (Jerrodette II was beginning to cry, also.)

Jerrodd shrugged. "Now, now, honeys. I'll ask Microvac. Don't worry, he'll tell us."

He asked the Microvac, adding quickly, "Print the answer."

Jerrodd cupped the strip or thin cellufilm and said cheerfully, "See now, the Microvac says it will take care of everything when the time comes so don't worry."

Jerrodine said, "And now, children, it's time for bed. We'll be in our new home soon."

Jerrodd read the words on the cellufilm again before destroying it: INSUFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

He shrugged and looked at the visiplate. X-23 was just ahead.

VJ-23X of Lameth stared into the black depths of the three-dimensional, small-scale map of the Galaxy and said, "Are we ridiculous, I wonder in being so concerned about the matter?"

MQ-17J of Nicron shook his head. "I think not. You know the Galaxy will be filled in five years at the present rate of expansion."

Both seemed in their early twenties, both were tall and perfectly formed.

"Still," said VJ-23X, "I hesitate to submit a pessimistic report to the Galactic Council."

"I wouldn't consider any other kind of report. Stir them up a bit. We've got to stir them up."

VJ-23X sighed. "Space is infinite. A hundred billion Galaxies are there for the taking. More."

"A hundred billion is not infinite and it's getting less infinite all the time. Consider! Twenty thousand years ago, mankind first solved the problem of utilizing stellar energy, and a few centuries later, interstellar travel became possible. It took mankind a million years to fill one small world and then only fifteen thousand years to fill the rest of the Galaxy. Now the population doubles every ten years --

VJ-23X interrupted. "We can thank immortality for that."

"Very well. Immortality exists and we have to take it into account. I admit it has its seamy side, this immortality. The Galactic AC has solved many problems for us, but in solving the problem of preventing old age and death, it has undone all its other solutions."

"Yet you wouldn't want to abandon life, I suppose."

"Not at all," snapped MQ-17J, softening it at once to, "Not yet. I'm by no means old enough. How old are you?"

"Two hundred twenty-three. And you?"

"I'm still under two hundred. --But to get back to my point. Population doubles every ten years. Once this GaIaxy is filled, we'll have filled another in ten years. Another ten years and we'll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we'll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known universe. Then what?"

VJ-23X said, "As a side issue, there's a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next."

"A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year."

"Most of it's wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those."

"Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in a geometric progression even faster than our population. We'll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point."

"We'll just have to build new stars out of interstellar gas."

"Or out of dissipated heat?" asked MQ-17J, sarcastically.

"There may be some way to reverse entropy. We ought to ask the Galactic AC."

VJ-23X was not really serious, but MQ-17J pulled out his AC-contact from his pocket and placed it on the table before him.

"I've half a mind to," he said. "It's something the human race will have to face someday."

He stared somberly at his small AC-contact. It was only two inches cubed and nothing in itself, but it was connected through hyperspace with the great Galactic AC that served all mankind. Hyperspace considered, it was an integral part of the Galactic AC.

MQ-17J paused to wonder if someday in his immortal life he would get to see the Galactic AC. It was on a little world of its own, a spider webbing of force-beams holding the matter within which surges of submesons took the place of the old clumsy molecular valves. Yet despite its sub-etheric workings, the Galactic AC was known to be a full thousand feet across.

MQ-17J asked suddenly of his AC-contact, "Can entropy ever be reversed?"

VJ-23X looked startled and said at once, "Oh, say, I didn't really mean to have you ask that."

"Why not?"

"We both know entropy can't be reversed. You can't turn smoke and ash back into a tree."

"Do you have trees on your world?" asked MQ-17J.

The sound of the Galactic AC startled them into silence. Its voice came thin and beautiful out of the small AC-contact on the desk. It said: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

VJ-23X said, "See!"

The two men thereupon returned to the question of the report they were to make to the Galactic Council.

Zee Prime's mind spanned the new Galaxy with a faint interest in the countless twists of stars that powdered it. He had never seen this one before. Would he ever see them all? So many of them, each with its load of humanity. --But a load that was almost a dead weight. More and more, the real essence of men was to be found out here, in space.

Minds, not bodies! The immortal bodies remained back on the planets, in suspension over the eons. Sometimes they roused for material activity but that was growing rarer. Few new individuals were coming into existence to join the incredibly mighty throng, but what matter? There was little room in the Universe for new individuals.

Zee Prime was roused out of his reverie upon coming across the wispy tendrils of another mind.

"I am Zee Prime," said Zee Prime. "And you?"

"I am Dee Sub Wun. Your Galaxy?"

"We call it only the Galaxy. And you?"

"We call ours the same. All men call their Galaxy their Galaxy and nothing more. Why not?"

"True. Since all Galaxies are the same."

"Not all Galaxies. On one particular Galaxy the race of man must have originated. That makes it different."

Zee Prime said, "On which one?"

"I cannot say. The Universal AC would know."

"Shall we ask him? I am suddenly curious."

Zee Prime's perceptions broadened until the Galaxies themselves shrank and became a new, more diffuse powdering on a much larger background. So many hundreds of billions of them, all with their immortal beings, all carrying their load of intelligences with minds that drifted freely through space. And yet one of them was unique among them all in being the original Galaxy. One of them had, in its vague and distant past, a period when it was the only Galaxy populated by man.

Zee Prime was consumed with curiosity to see this Galaxy and he called out: "Universal AC! On which Galaxy did mankind originate?"

The Universal AC heard, for on every world and throughout space, it had its receptors ready, and each receptor led through hyperspace to some unknown point where the Universal AC kept itself aloof.

Zee Prime knew of only one man whose thoughts had penetrated within sensing distance of Universal AC, and he reported only a shining globe, two feet across, difficult to see.

"But how can that be all of Universal AC?" Zee Prime had asked.

"Most of it," had been the answer, "is in hyperspace. In what form it is there I cannot imagine."

Nor could anyone, for the day had long since passed, Zee Prime knew, when any man had any part of the making of a Universal AC. Each Universal AC designed and constructed its successor. Each, during its existence of a million years or more accumulated the necessary data to build a better and more intricate, more capable successor in which its own store of data and individuality would be submerged.

The Universal AC interrupted Zee Prime's wandering thoughts, not with words, but with guidance. Zee Prime's mentality was guided into the dim sea of Galaxies and one in particular enlarged into stars.

A thought came, infinitely distant, but infinitely clear. "THIS IS THE ORIGINAL GALAXY OF MAN."

But it was the same after all, the same as any other, and Lee Prime stifled his disappointment.

Dee Sub Wun, whose mind had accompanied the other, said suddenly, "And is one of these stars the original star of Man?"


"Did the men upon it die?" asked Lee Prime, startled and without thinking.


"Yes, of course," said Zee Prime, but a sense of loss overwhelmed him even so. His mind released its hold on the original Galaxy of Man, let it spring back and lose itself among the blurred pin points. He never wanted to see it again.

Dee Sub Wun said, "What is wrong?"

"The stars are dying. The original star is dead."

"They must all die. Why not?"

"But when all energy is gone, our bodies will finally die, and you and I with them."

"It will take billions of years."

"I do not wish it to happen even after billions of years. Universal AC! How may stars be kept from dying?"

Dee Sub Wun said in amusement, "You're asking how entropy might be reversed in direction."


Zee Prime's thoughts fled back to his own Galaxy. He gave no further thought to Dee Sub Wun, whose body might be waiting on a Galaxy a trillion light-years away, or on the star next to Zee Prime's own. It didn't matter.

Unhappily, Zee Prime began collecting interstellar hydrogen out of which to build a small star of his own. If the stars must someday die, at least some could yet be built.

Man considered with himself, for in a way, Man, mentally, was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.

Man said, "The Universe is dying."

Man looked about at the dimming Galaxies. The giant stars, spendthrifts, were gone long ago, back in the dimmest of the dim far past. Almost all stars were white dwarfs, fading to the end.

New stars had been built of the dust between the stars, some by natural processes, some by Man himself, and those were going, too. White dwarfs might yet be crashed together and of the mighty forces so released, new stars built, but only one star for every thousand white dwarfs destroyed, and those would come to an end, too.

Man said, "Carefully husbanded, as directed by the Cosmic AC, the energy that is even yet left in all the Universe will last for billions of years."

"But even so," said Man, "eventually it will all come to an end. However it may be husbanded, however stretched out, the energy once expended is gone and cannot be restored. Entropy must increase forever to the maximum."

Man said, "Can entropy not be reversed? Let us ask the Cosmic AC."

The Cosmic AC surrounded them but not in space. Not a fragment of it was in space. It was in hyperspace and made of something that was neither matter nor energy. The question of its size and nature no longer had meaning in any terms that Man could comprehend.

"Cosmic AC," said Man, "how may entropy be reversed?"


Man said, "Collect additional data."


"Will there come a time," said Man, 'when data will be sufficient or is the problem insoluble in all conceivable circumstances?"


Man said, "When will you have enough data to answer the question?"


"Will you keep working on it?" asked Man.

The Cosmic AC said, "I WILL."

Man said, "We shall wait."

The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.

One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.

Man's last mind paused before fusion, looking over a space that included nothing but the dregs of one last dark star and nothing besides but incredibly thin matter, agitated randomly by the tag ends of heat wearing out, asymptotically, to the absolute zero.

Man said, "AC, is this the end? Can this chaos not be reversed into the Universe once more? Can that not be done?"


Man's last mind fused and only AC existed -- and that in hyperspace.

Matter and energy had ended and with it space and time. Even AC existed only for the sake of the one last question that it had never answered from the time a half-drunken computer [technician] ten trillion years before had asked the question of a computer that was to AC far less than was a man to Man.

All other questions had been answered, and until this last question was answered also, AC might not release his consciousness.

All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected.

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships.

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer -- by demonstration -- would take care of that, too.

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.


And there was light --

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Children Of Men

Well, i finished it. The book was great! I can tell by the previews that i'm going to hate the movie as a result of having read it though. I plan to see it anyway. Why do i do this to myself?

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Who DOESN'T Hate The DMV?!

To be honest, i never really hated it until today. It was one of those minor inconveniences you have to deal with every few years; no biggie, just bring a book.

Today, however, that all changed. I got off work from my crappy midnight shift and decided to take care of business before i went home. When i got to the DMV, the line was moving fairly quickly in spite of how long it was. I was only in for a renewal, after all, and those are not usually time/resource intensive. So anyway, things were moving along splendidly until i got to the picture-taking part. I waited a long time to get my picture done, and then i waited a long time to get called up to actually receive my new license. When i finally got up there, the guy started to hand me a license with my name, address and information, and someone else's picture on it. He looked at the license and then said to me, "You're not Christie Love". What the hell do you say to something like that? I retorted, "Yes i am!" (a weak comeback, i know, but that's really not the sort of thing you expect to hear when you're getting your license back). He looked at the picture, and, after the fashion of the archetypal DMV employee, makde the brilliant, and very accurate statement, "This isn't your picture", to which i replied, "You're right. Wanna take care of that for me?"

So it was back to waiting. A really long time. The guy finally called my name again, and went to hand me my license only to discover it's a different wrong picture! I mean, i was standing right in front of him. You'd think he'd take the trouble raise those dull, mechanical eyes to look at me and make sure it was the right picture before calling me back up there. . . only to display his incredible talent for stating the obvious yet again: "Huh, this isn't you either".

So they put me back in front of the camera to just take my picture again. By this time, two hours had passed, i was tired and angry, and it showed in my new picture. Half an hour later, they finally handed over my correct license with my correct face on it. I had a pretty good picture on my previous one, now i look like someone who's been up all night and had had to wait two and a half hours and endure two wrong faces on their license before finally escaping the horrors of mistaken identity.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Myspace Girl Lips

You know the kind i'm talking about. Pursed- sometimes off to the side of their faces, sometimes not. Like they're expecting to be kissed literally at any second. They all look at you with liquid eyes and pursed lips with an "Aren't i just the cutest thing you ever saw?" look on their faces (incidentally, the answer is no). It just makes you look vapid and (sometimes unjustifiably) conceited. Anyway, it makes a lot of otherwise unrelated girls look like they could all be first cousins or something. It's irritating as hell! Here's a bright idea for you simpering twits out there: Smile! Or don't! But quit with the smug little smirks!