Heroes

No, no, not David Bowie.

I have weird trains of thought. I hadn’t done my daily blog checks for a few days, so I headed first to Sheryl’s site, then to Beth’s, where I got impersonally schooled for not updating more often. (::ouch::) Anyway, I read about her weight-loss frustrations, which turned my thoughts to my own weight-loss kick. (After, of course, wondering why Beth would think she needs to lose weight.)

To help bolster my weight-loss motivation, I put a big scowling picture of Henry Rollins on my desktop. He’s looking directly at me, silently chanting his seven-word solution to losing weight: "Eat less. Eat better. Move your body." This has become my mantra since seeing Henry’s spoken word gig in Columbus on Saturday.

This thought led me to the conclusion: Henry Rollins is my fitness hero.

I’ve ruminated on the hero/role-model concept ever since my pre-teen years in Sunday School, when they told us to find a role model and emulate him or her. It occured to me even then that I couldn’t find anyone who was quite where I wanted to be, who was quite who I wanted to be. Since that point, I’ve denounced the idea of an overall personal role-model as absurd. If I try to be Person X… then who am I? And how does my attempt to be Person X belittle him or her — especially if I’m successful? Her uniqueness factor is kicked down a notch. As is my own.

On the other hand… if I could find someone who personifies each aspect of myself, and emulate that aspect of them, our uniqueness as individuals remains intact. Plus, I’m not forced to cheapen myself on other aspects of my being that Person X might not have, or have as strongly as I do.

Some of my other heroes are a little personal, so I won’t blab them here. Some of my personal heroes change from year to year. Some are famous (like Hank). Some of them are people you know.

I challenge you to identify your own personal heroes. Be truthful. It might be strange on some levels, but you might be surprized at who you actually emulate.

Finally, An Ohayocon Post!

The first of a series of posts about this most interesting of experiences. I don’t have my own pictures developed yet, but I do have some I downloaded online. Here we have the joy of CosPlay: dressing up like your favorite fictional character. Left = weirdo in costume, Right = who they’re supposed to look like:

 
Jareth, the Goblin King (played by David Bowie) in the 1986 film Labyrinth

 
Lain, from the anime series Serial Experiments Lain

 
Vash the Stampede from the anime series Trigun

 
Cloud from the Playstation game Final Fantasy VII

 
Seres Victoria from the anime series Hellsing

 
Pepsiman, Japanese mascot for Pepsi-Cola

Past Imperfect

You know that introspective New Year’s entry I promised? Well, here it is, a little late. Now, where to start…?

Back in High School, I was a perfectionist and a procrastinator all rolled into one. My fear of making mistakes really didn’t help things. Being high-strung and stiffly formal too much of the time definitely added to the geek factor. Even after failing Government my Senior year, and having to take “real” summer school for the first time in my life, this still didn’t teach me one of the many lessons that I needed to learn:

Sometimes you have to deal with the less pleasant things before you get to the good things.

I still didn’t learn the lesson during my seven (count ’em, seven) years of undergrad. I regularly failed to attend classes — and hence, regularly failed classes. Of course, I went to the “cool” classes, and of course I did well in them. Web design, multimedia, photography, human sexuality, recording technology, sociology, all stellar grades. Math, accounting, drafting, management, all the “boring” classes… not so much. I took College Algebra three or four times, and Trig twice, just because I hated the classes and didn’t go. If BGSU had the same policy then that they do now, I would have been paying back all the financial aid money I’d gotten for the classes I failed. I’d either have learned that valuable lesson, or I’d have given up on school for lack of funds.

Only now can I begin to learn and appreciate the value of this tidbit of knowledge. Now, when I’m working in an industry completely unrelated to the one I’d intended to pursue. Now, when I’m watching more recent grads going through the same post-graduation denial I went through. Now, when credit checks on me reveal the fact that I worked for a temp agency for eight or nine months, and have only held my current job for three.

I would like to go out and find my dream job. I haven’t given up on this. I refuse to be a bank flunky until I retire or am laid off. But… now is the time for stability. Now is the time to deal with a less-than-desirable job, so I can build credit and experience and general work-force skills. I have to deal with this less pleasant thing before I can go off and seek out the good.

When the right opportunity arises, I will be ready.

Blogs and personal webpages — windows to the soul?

A few months ago, the World showed me how small it is after all, and inserted a former RCC coworker into my current employment at Sky Bank. Not someone I had ever hung out with, but someone I had always thought it would be fun to know. Did I say anything about this? Ever? Of course not. This is me we’re talking about here.

One day we were discussing our currently-unused degrees — mine in Visual Communications, hers in Computer Art — and she mentioned that she had a web page. I mentioned mine, too, and gave the URL (since it’s easy enough to remember… at least until I get married). She quietly avoided mentioning hers.

So I went on Google and I found it. Stalking? Hardly. Simple curiosity.

Honestly… I had expected more of the site. The work is cool, the text-based adventure intriguing, but I’m more of an interface person myself. At any rate, I opted not to mention anything at work about me seeking out her website, as that could be construed a number of ways. Not the least of which would be moderately creepy.

Yesterday and today at work, the people who provide and service our Citation document processing systems came up from Florida to install a new system. In the process of bullshitting with Rick and Randy from TMR, Rick gave my coworker and I his personal URL, and invited us to check it out. My coworker then mentioned that she had a website and had recently started a LiveJournal. She said she had her own server space, but liked being able to update from anywhere and not have to worry about coding. (I like not having to code, too, but that’s why I use Dreamweaver.) Of course, she didn’t mention her username or anything.

So I went on LiveJournal and I found it. Stalking? Hardly. Simple curiosity.

After reading my coworker’s personal comments, written specifically for her friends and fellow MUSHers, I discovered something about blogs. They can be quite audience-specific, and quite personal. Of course, I knew this from reading strangers’ blogs (see right), but it’s different when the subject in question isn’t a complete stranger. I can see why she didn’t want mere coworkers reading her comments. Not that her journal is lewd or vulgar or anything like that; it’s just personal. I almost feel like I’ve violated her privacy on some level by seeking this out. But, on the other hand, one has to be prepared for anyone to read anything posted online in a publicly-accessible website. I feel I also have a new perspective about her.

I wonder… were she to read my website, would she have a new perspective on me?

Amusing distractions online

Looking for a fun and simple Flash game? Check out this hunting game… but be forewarned: losing this game is painful. In a very special way.

Ever feel like websurfing, but don’t know where to start? boingboing.net is a good place — deceptively simple-looking, and packed with amusing tidbits guaranteed to keep you busy and enthralled with the joy that is the internet.

News flash! Every U.S. resident who purchased a prerecorded music product between January 1, 1995 and December 22, 2000 is entitled to a piece of the pie. That is, since music prices were so inflated during that time (you mean they’re not still?), everyone who joins the settlement group is entitled to between $5 and $20. If the amount per settlement member drops below $5, the money will instead be donated to an appropriate charity.

William Gibson, author of such fantastic cyberpunk novels as Neuromancer and Count Zero, among others, now has a website… including a blog. Oh, by the way, he has a new book coming out: Pattern Recognition, due out in February. Visit Mr. Gibson’s website to read an excerpt.

Gibson on Gibson:

Google me and you can learn that I do it all on a manual typewriter, something that hasn’t been true since 1985, but which makes such an easy hook for a lazy journalist that I expect to be reading it for the rest of my life. I only used a typewriter because that was what everyone used in 1977, and it was manual because that was what I happened to have been able to get, for free. I did avoid the Internet, but only until the advent of the Web turned it into such a magnificent opportunity to waste time that I could no longer resist. Today I probably spend as much time there as I do anywhere, although the really peculiar thing about me, demographically, is that I probably watch less than twelve hours of television in a given year, and have watched that little since age fifteen. (An individual who watches no television is still a scarcer beast than one who doesn’t have an email address.) I have no idea how that happened. It wasn’t a decision.

I do have an email address, yes, but, no, I won’t give it to you. I am one and you are many, and even if you are, say, twenty-seven in grand global total, that’s still too many. Because I need to have a life and waste time and write.

I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here.

And now for something completely different… paper cameras. Not disposable cameras — paper cameras. As in, a camera without the camera. As in, origami photopaper = pinhole camera.

Hey, Schavitz! Here’s a companion for your robot dog!

The Operation: the fine art of pornographic film. The streaming RealVideo doesn’t work, but there are stills galore. Filmed entirely in infrared, this film is both erotic and eerie. …At least, it looks like it is.

OK, OK… that’s enough randomness for one night. But wasn’t it fun?

(Note to self: Use red-eye reduction on new camera to avoid future demon-spawn photos. Post initial roll of new-camera photos soon.)

"…A Brand New Car!"

[insert “Price is Right” theme here]

[spoken in Rod Roddy announcer voice:]
That’s right, folks! Diana Cook and Aaron Schnuth are now the proud owners of a brand new 2003 Kia Spectra! Diana can now drive to work in style in this pepper-red four-door sedan! Complete with AM/FM/CD Stereo, Air Conditioning, and an Automatic Transmission, this gem is sure to make the happy couple into the talk of the town… [end Rod Roddy voice]

No shit. We are joint-owners of a car loan for the next five years. Along with it comes a damn spiffy new vehicle, though. 🙂 If our new car were to be fabricated inside The Matrix construct, it would look like this:

Anyway, this saves us enormous car-related stress when going on road trips (i.e. ‘will the car make it back alive’), it saves me cab fare (sort of… I think the car payment might be higher…), and it makes both of us mobile. We’re both insured on both cars, so whichever car is at the end of the driveway is the lucky winner of the moment.

Come visit on New Year’s, and you can see the new car… nudge, nudge…

Certifiable Tolkien Geek

I just spent two hours researching how to write my name in Elvish.

My latest idea for a tattoo is to get my name tattooed in Elvish on my shoulder/arm. So, I went off looking for Elvish runes. Eventually, after searching through the entire LOTR trilogy and all half-dozen supplemental texts Aaron and I have, I went online. Duh.

First, I could only find images of the letters, and descriptions of their respective phonetics (what sounds they make). So, I sliced up the images and made my name:

This wasn’t nearly as cool as I had hoped, being a bitmap image and all. Turns out it was technically incorrect, as well. I researched for a while more and found multiple Tengwar (Elvish) fonts, as well as multiple rules for writing English text using Tengwar characters. I downloaded my favorite font, along with the character mapping, and compared feverishly with my chosen online Tengwar/English guide to make this more correct version in Photoshop:


[D – i – an – uh]

The plan is to locate or fabricate some scrolly line-artsy things to create a band on either side of the script, and have it tattooed around my right shoulder.

If you’re a geek, too, and would like something written in Tengwar characters (read: English pronunciation using Elvish alphabet), I’m willing to entertain requests… for now. Considering that only about four of you regularly check my site, I think I’m safe from the galloping hordes of Tolkien freaks.

What Religion Are You? The Belief-O-Matic Knows!

Oh, yeah — Merry Christmas. 🙂 As an initial side-note, I visited my Memaw in the crazy two-day Cleveland Christmas Extravaganza (more on that later). She was doing much better than on Thanskgiving, and insisted that she will dance at my wedding. — Now, how do I break it to her that there won’t be dancing…?

So, Beliefnet.com informed me in my daily Hindu Wisdom e-mail that the Belief-O-Matic knows what religion I truly am. Since I’ve recently been curious about this, I answered the 20 questions and awaited the results:

Other notable placers include Nontheism at 60%, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the religion I was raised in and have denounced) at 47%, Hinduism at 46%, Jehovah’s Witness at 35%, and Roman Catholic at a whopping 16%.

First off, I know the percentages are bullshit, because I checked out Match #1, and the Unitarian Universalists do not agree with all the answers I gave. Secondly, the religion I’ve been studying on my own, Pantheism, appears not to be represented at Beliefnet. On the positive side: though they sound particularly harsh to me now, the Mormon beliefs are laid out truthfully and correctly, which gives me hope that the other religions are represented properly, as well.

I’m still not convinced that there’s a religion out there that fits me to a tee. At this point, I’m content with picking and choosing bits and pieces from various religions that sound about right to me.

Local flavor experience

Got off work early for once. It was still light out. I was geeked. After chillin’ for a while behind the computer, I walked to Ben Franklin to find a Christmas present for Kris (actually, I just had to purchase the finishing touches). So, while I was downtown, I decided to stop into Grounds for Thought for some coffee goodness on the way home. Got my Milky Way (a mocha with a healthy dose of caramel and a couple dollops of whipped cream), silently approved of the R.E.M. playing in the background (must have been some album before Green, because I didn’t recognize it — sorry, Aaron), and planned to slip out the back.

The first thing I noticed was that the Children’s section had been moved. It’s usually there on the back wall of the cafe proper as you walk back into the happily cramped shelves of used books. Hmm… more books on the side wall. Neat. I turned to exit out the side door — to find it was no longer there.

WTF?

Yes, apparently Grounds purchased the store next door and tore out the wall, because the happily cramped stacks are now spacious and comfy. I made a dork of myself by wandering around, gaping at all the room. I believe I even marveled aloud. I must bring Amy to see this.

For once, a good thing is made even better.

Unrelated discoveries: one fun, one not-so-fun

We begin with the fun: wilwheaton.net.

actual photo from wilwheaton.netHe’s 30, he’s married, and he has blue hair. It’s freaky on some level, yet comforting on another. As much as it might disturb Wil to hear it, he’s kind of like a long-distance high-school or college buddy. That’s how he comes across on his page. Totally honest, frank, and certainly more than a touch dorky. (Hell, who isn’t?) His web-design skills are pretty middle-of-the-road, his writing style is familiar and fresh, and he has interests that “normal” people have. And he likes The Pixies. Plus, after watching his character Wesley grow up on Star Trek: The Next Generation (now who’s the dork?), it’s neat to see what he’s like in real life, and to know that he’s just as cool as you’d hope an actor (and aspiring writer) your age would be.

I know, I know… I’m not 30 yet. In the grand scheme of things, though, those four years don’t really matter much.

Now, to the not-so-fun discovery. Actually, it’s downright depressing.

On Thanksgiving, I went to visit my grandmother at her new nursing home. Beforehand, my step-Gary felt the need to call me and warn me of her mental condition. Seems she would be OK for a while, then start talking about feeding pet mice and stepping on cockroaches and all sorts of random things that may or may not have root in reality. So, I felt I was armed with the knowledge that my Memaw was going off her rocker, and things would be cool.

As one might expect, the visit was unusual at best. At least when I used to visit her before, she was recognizable. This wispy-haired, bent wraith of a woman bore very little resemblance to the Memaw that I knew and loved. True to form, she wasn’t wearing her hearing aid or her teeth, and she did indeed go off on random tangents. I smiled and nodded along, answering loudly when appropriate. Just to prove how erratic her behavior had been, when she stood up to show me how much weight she had lost, I discovered that the staff had her bed monitored; when she stood, a beeping alarm sounded. At first I thought her oxygen had been disconnected, but no. It was so she wouldn’t try to wander off and break a window to escape again.

Seriously.

I dealt well with the visit at the time. I even saw the humor in it. Memaw was going off the deep end. Funny stuff. I joked with Aaron about it on the way to Parma to visit my folks.

Later, though, the truth of the matter set in. I really don’t have a Memaw anymore.

Yes, I know she’s still alive, and I should be thankful for that. But my Memaw, the one that fabricated my imaginary friend when I was two, the one who made up lullabies that stood the test of time, the one who could cook almost anything I asked for, the one with the slightly warped sense of humor (one aspect of her I didn’t fully realize until I was a little older), that Memaw… she’s gone.

Maybe it’s easier to lose her this way, slowly, so I can come to terms with it. Maybe it’s better than just getting a phone call out of the blue, telling me I’ll have to cash in my Bereavement Days at work.

But she’s still my Memaw. And God, I miss her already.