Sep 30, 2005

It was only a matter of time.

Attack of the Awesome Zombies

Pretty obvious jab at the ridiculous overuse of the word "awesome" as a synonym for "terrific" these days.
"Being natural, and feeling natural after I put my make-up on: that is what is important to me."

Infomercials can be chock-full of irony and humour.

The ultimate product out there, though, the one that will change your life, enrich your soul, and transform you as a person, is the Saunabelt. Using the sauna to sweat out those pounds is really uncomfortable. Exercise is time-consuming and takes too much effort. Diet plans just don't work. What you need is the Saunabelt. With this miraculous product, all you have to do is put it around your waist, and within 50 minutes, you will sweat like a pig and lose a whole inch! That's right, you can look like a skimpy Hollywood supermodel or a chiseled Roman god in a month just by putting on the Saunabelt and sweating those pounds away.

It may sound satirical, but I actually saw an infomercial for the product that made those exact claims. "Pathetic" has reached a whole new plateau.

I enjoy infomercials, though. They're incredibly entertaining to mock, as many of them seem to be mockeries of themselves as it is. The cheesiness is astronomical. Astro cheese.

Act now.
Save time.
A new you.
Works faster.
Look younger.
So convenient.
It really works.
Amazing results.
Pick up the phone.
There's still time.
Do it for yourself.
Look good on the beach.
It'll change your life.
Hurry, time is running out.
No risk money back guarantee.
Once in a lifetime opportunity.
It's the best decision you'll ever make.
Live the life you've always dreamed of.
This has been a paid presentation for desperate dupes.

Sep 28, 2005

To be free and inhuman?

A student brought her wailing infant into stats class today. That's a new one. She should join the noisy bubble gum chewing club and the awesome zombie brigade. Crying baby + hot, stuffy classroom + being expected to use a Student t distribution to construct 95% confidence intervals for the variance of a random sample of 25 in six minutes = grrr.

I just installed a 300 GB Serial ATA hard drive in my old Dell Dimension, finally having found the S(ATA) power converter required to hook it up to a 4-pin power plug. Of course, my mobo is old and has no SATA interface, so I had to install a SATA PCI card. Somehow, I managed to get Windows ME to install fine, but whenever I try to upgrade to XP it gives me a stop error halfway through the installation. Furthermore, in order to even get into ME, I have to set the boot order in the BIOS to CD-ROM as first priority and have the ME install disk in the master CD-ROM, which will allow the option of booting from the hard disk to be shown at start-up. Otherwise, when I start up the system, it tells me I have an invalid disk in the floppy drive.

Ideally, for it to function properly, the hard drive should be the first boot device. Of course, The only devices that the BIOS lists for boot order are:

Other ROM

No SCSI device is listed, of course, because the HDD is connected to the PCI card, not the mobo. What I really need to know is how to set the Serial ATA drive as the first boot device. Anyone have any knowledge on this? I'll try a few things I have in mind when I get home, but suggestions would be appreciated.

Playing Astro Lounge by Smash Mouth at a high volume while driving around earns me odd looks from people, I found, especially in the vicinity of Wal-Mart. Good music, what's that?

Eek! It's a terrorist!

MANILA, Philippines (Reuters) -- A mouse upset the best-laid plans of an airline and nearly 250 passengers in the Philippines, grounding a plane for 13 hours while engineers tried to smoke out the rodent.

The Qatar Airways plane was preparing for take-off from Manila airport earlier this week when a crew member spotted the mouse scampering across an aisle in the economy class section, the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted airport officials as saying.

The captain ordered the passengers to disembark while maintenance staff fumigated the aircraft and laid traps, but the mouse was nowhere to be found.

The Doha-bound aircraft eventually took off 13 hours late, presumably with the mouse still on board, dead or alive.

"There was an incident before with a cockroach, but it's the first time that we had to deal with a mouse," the Inquirer quoted airport operations chief Octavio Lina as saying.

Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.

Sep 27, 2005

A moment of your time to touch a life.

The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.

Foxy Affection.

Rarely do I catch myself sounding Hallmarky, but images like these have a tendency to effortlessly penetrate through my calloused outer shell and touch my deep-seated sentimental core.

You miss the point, Mr. Know-it-All Handyman.

Only Jesus provides freedom from the bondage of sin.

...But even He can't undo the knots I tie, those beautiful, meticulously crafted works of art which reflect how seriously I take my bondage. It is deliberately Jesus-proof, for who knows on what day He may arrive and try to ruin my fun.

I got a middle C on my remote sensing exam. I am hardly disappointed, considering I was half-expecting to fail and was consequently dreading the part where the exam is handed back and I am pressured to view my score. Considering the class average was a 67% (this is a class full of relatively bright, serious seniors, mind), it certainly shows a fault on the instructor's part. Either he made the exam unreasonably difficult or his South Korean accent is easily misinterpretable. The good news is that I have the opportunity to go back and correct my wrong answers, thus elevating my score to a solid B.

Despite the fact that I am going to be eating, drinking, and breathing statistics principles until my stats test on Friday, I am a much calmer wolf today.

Sep 23, 2005

All over the place.

Today's fifty minutes spent in stats lecture reminded me exactly why women in general irk me so much. I'm referring to the ones that go well out of their way to look all pretty by the standards of popular culture, with their hundreds of dollars worth of make-up, expensive skimpy articles of clothing, and 'perfect' hair. It's not so much the way they look, though, that gets under my skin, as I don't have to look at them, even though everything about them screams, "look at me, guys, like omg!!" Rather, it's the way they behave. There is something about a pouty female voice that deliberately expresses a sort of socially expected helplessness that I find positively obnoxious. It's as if they expect a man to rush to their aid as quickly as possible because, well, girls are supposed to act all helpless and guys are supposed to help them! This sociological 'damsel in distress' behaviour is something I witness all too often.

Then there's the way so many of them talk. "Like, oh my gawwwwwd, that homework from research methods was like, so hard, I swear to gawd, I spent like three hours on it last night!" I overheard a girl say that just before the lecture started, and it made me want to lean over the computers and slap her. Why does the vast majority of people around school who have loud and obnoxious voices happen to be females? There's nothing like a high-pitched, totally exaggerated-sounding comment a girl makes when she passes a friend in the hallway that she hasn't seen since, like, yesterday! Meanwhile, all most guys do is shake hands and say "sup." Yeah, that's probably a major reason I am much more tolerant of males. Their behaviours are generally much less overt and seem much more natural and less exaggerated. Guys in general just seem more natural; certainly a favourable characteristic.

So many women just seem entirely artificial to me, whether it's true or not. It all starts with them covering their faces with chemical products everyday to hide their "flaws," and only goes downhill from there. They seem so self-conscious and vain. The ones that wear little hot pink baby t's that say things like "100% hottie" certainly have no trepidation about announcing how snugly they fit into that category. I find girls like these to be the absolute antithesis of attractive. They are utterly repulsive.

Back to my stats class, there is an entire clique of five or six biology "chicks" who almost perfectly match all observable aspects of my description. They all know each other sooooo well, and they always put the entire back row on reserve for each member of their clique. "Sorry, I'm saving that seat for Sarah!" I feel like I stepped into a time machine and warped back to a sixth grade pep rally. Of course, they hardly make an effort to validate their presence in the classroom at all. Whenever I glance over at their monitor displays, I see they're usually chatting with or e-mailing their hot b/f's and even more frequently, shopping for shoes or skimpy clothes. No, I am not exaggering one bit. It's that bad. I hope they all flunk.

It's all these women who operate under very real and evident stereotypes that make me that much more grateful for all the females who don't. I cannot say I abhor the female gender; far from it. It's just that so many members of it give it a bad name, and of course the same is true for males, and humanity in general.

Also, I believe it's time to confess something. Though they are far from my favourite species, I don't really hate humanity. I realise that to say such a thing is the mark of an immature mind, and I have been starting to wise up a little. I do feel a certain amount of compassion even for people who aren't my friends or whom I have some reason to respect and admire (though certainly not everyone, believe me). I actually came to this realisation about a week ago, when I was walking along the shore at the ice ponds south of town. I was minding my own business when I heard a voice say, "help?" At first, I thought I was hearing things. It soon repeated itself, though. I backtracked a few metres and looked down at an elderly man laying in a crack in the lava, clearly disoriented. He had a few bloody scrapes on him from the sharp lava rock, and I determined he must have slipped on the slick surface and gone down hard.

Now, if I truly didn't care, I would have just ignored him and kept on strollin' in the rain to let someone else deal with him. The thought didn't even cross my mind, though. I started talking to him to find out what happened and whether he was seriously injured. It turned out the scrapes were the worst injuries he had sustained, fortunately. Also fortunate was the fact that two fishermen named Jake and Lester happened to walk by a few moments after I found him, and all three of us made a team effort to pull him out of the crack and sit him up. Jake called the EMS and had a medical team sent to the parking lot before the rainforest access trail, and I went back to guide them to the exact spot. The professionals took it from there, helping him back to his condo. It was surprisingly satisfying to know that I had the right thing. It's not very often that I am given the opportunity to help someone in such fashion, and it's odd that I just happened to be down there at that point in time. It was a pretty enlightening experience.

Oh, but I am growing quite weary of hearing about "humans and the animals." Humans are animals, whether one chooses to accept it or not. They are just more evolved, capable of a much wider range of activities and behaviours, and possessive of a greater amount of strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, this does not make them superior. They are still mere mortals fighting against all odds for survival, only many of them live much more comfortably. And you know, dreaming up a god who just happens to rank humans as the highest-ranking organism isn't exactly a quality I admire a whole lot. Other animals are beautiful for their simplicity, simply for being all that they are: gorgeous, graceful, furry, a reminder of what is genuine and true. They do not pretend, they just are. They act according to nature and instinct, and do not concern themselves with all the ridiculous games humans play. That is what makes them beautiful. They are also wonderful for the joy they bring into people's hearts, by being loyal to them as part of a family or simply posing for a camera in a national park.

This reminds me of one of my favourite George Carlin quotes:

"We're so self-important. So self-important. Everybody's going to save something now. "Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails." And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet, we don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven't learned how to care for one another, we're gonna save the fucking planet? ..."

The same goes for "let's protect this" and "let's protect that." You know, we always have to be in control of nature, what lives and what dies. "Let's eradicate those evil coqui frogs! They're taking over and eating all the insects native birds eat! Native birds deserve to live, coqui frogs are pests!" Of course, most people like birds, so insisting that coqui frogs are cutting off the birds' primary source of food is a great sell for getting people involved in the extermination effort. Realistically, I have seen very little evidence that this actually occurs. People just can't stand these tiny, pesky creatures making so much noise. "Our neighbourhoods are being overrun by noisy frogs! WE CANNOT HAVE THIS!" **Waves imaginary pitchfork and burning torch in the air**

...Meanwhile, I can't imagine how anyone could consider the music they make anything short of euphonious. You know what's terrific, though? The coqui infestation population in Hilo and Puna is now completely out of control. They can never be anything close to entirely eradicated here. Go frogs, yeah, TOUCHDOWN WOOHOO!!!!11

To shift the topic from first to fourth, I browsed a Sonic the Hedgehog comic book whilst in Borders today, and was utterly appalled by his appearance. Before, I could not have possibly thought he could look much worse than he does in this image:

Today, however, I was proven wrong. He looked even more fruitified in the comic book. He looks as if he was drawn by one of the same artists who did the Dragonball Z series. That's not a good thing, trust me. He could not be the real Sonic, but merely a nerdy anime otaku in a homely-looking Sonic costume he spun together with blue construction paper and a glue stick in special ed art class. Dear Rayg, it's so sad. And look at Tails. What the hell -is- that thing?

I must... get that image... out of my mind...

A much better picture: retro-Sonic

Ah, much better. The moral: don't try to improve something that's already perfect.

Talk about disjointed musings. Sometimes, I can't bring myself to write anything at all; other times, I can barely stop.

Sep 22, 2005

Spring-loaded routine.

Can someone please feature my blog? I strongly desire a whirlwind of comments posted by a body builder notifying me that I qualify for a free mobile scooter (and it had better be anointed!)

Sometimes, I really feel compelled to question my study habits. When it comes to a midterm (well, actually, let me henceforth substitute that term with something a little less innately dreadful: exam), I often find myself putting off not only reviewing much of the content until the day before the test, but also learning it. There is a certain advantage to having to write a weekly essay on the assigned readings for each week: it forces the student to do the assigned readings on a weekly basis to receive credit. For the very reason that my tourism course forces me to do this, I prognosticate that studying for the single exam in the class probably won't be such a grueling task. In contrast, I spent a good eight consecutive hours last night glazing over the relevant chapters for my remote sensing exam today, learning most of it for the first time rather than going over it.

See, one of the most important factors in being successful in institutions of higher learning is having the ability to manage one's time wisely. I am taking six courses at once, and trying to use my available studying time to study for each of them to a sufficient extent is a far greater challenge than actually comprehending or absorbing any of the educational content. A couple days before a big exam, I become utterly obsessive about it, and can hardly relax until it is over with. Before that tension begins, it is certainly a good idea to have completed any assignments due on the day of or two days before the exam. Otherwise, I simply will not be able to concentrate on those assignments at all, as I will be too busy studying obsessively for the exam. If, by chance, I have two big exams on the same day, then it gets really, really messy, and I can easily envision my mind as having quickly developed the consistency of pistachio pudding.

Admittedly, writing about homework and studying bores me far greater than doing actually studying does, so I should just stop. I have a big test in two and a half hours, and I may as well obsessively cram as much as I can into my bloated brain.

Rita, though as of this moment having lost some of its strength, is forecasted to make landfall as an extremely powerful storm and devastate the lives of thousands. Time for our nation's people to perpetuate the great American spirit of compassion and generosity by bitching about rising gas prices again. Just look at what God sends our way in return for liberating the formerly oppressed Iraqi people and defending America's freedom!

Last night, I dreamt I was a participant in a professional golf tournament, and my score was something like +50923 -21. Not only that, I was dressed up in a rooster costume with large money bills sewed on like patches all over my chest. Should this represent some kind of subtle symbolic message that golfing is for rich, arrogant cocks?

I'm feeling very feral again. Another day, another opportunity to creep out a fresh set of random strangers! It barely takes any effort anymore, and is usually accomplished simply by doing the following:

1. Refraining from combing hair after getting out of bed in the morning.
2. Not shaving for a few days. There is something to be said for looking pale and grizzled.
3. Only using an umbrella when it's bright and sunny out (doesn't apply to today- it's beautiful and rainy).
4. Being perfectly silent as much as possible.
5. Playing :wumpscut: loudly while cruising down the street (hey, I love danceable industrial brutality!)
6. Leering with a mean gaze/staring blankly at someone as if trying to fathom some type of alien life form (hey, people do it to me all the time, especially 7-11 clerks).
7. Appearing to be riveted and deeply inspired by a lecture in statistics class.
8. Acting natural.

My mother probably interpreted differently when I assured her that I have a lot of fun with people.

Sep 20, 2005

The land up above.

The more I think about it, the more I want to move to Australia. I'm not sure what it is about the entire continent that intrigues me more than any other place on earth. I don't think I want to live on islands my entire life, but I would love to live in the southern hemisphere. While all those Texans and Zonies gripe about how hot it is up in North America, I would be out enjoying the peak of winter. Why do so many things seem so much better there when I haven't even seen how things there are? I also want to get far, far, far away from America, because I am quite disgusted with seeing it and hearing about it. Sometimes, I wish I could hide out in my own private bunker somewhere in the depths of Antarctica for a few months. Maybe then, I wouldn't have to hear about the "courage and valor of American troops" or be stuck watching a heart warming, inspirational fifteen minute segment on a national news program about how God miraculously reunited a little Alabama girl and her pet mouse after a horrible flooding situational event because thousands of Americans prayed for her. Let us all breathe a sigh of relief for little Jessica Joey Bob McHamilton-Smith-Jensen, a beautiful little girl who likes hotdogs, old-fashioned Brazilian alarm clocks that go baloopadabangwazi, and mice.

I think my desire to exist on a large continent as opposed to a relatively tiny island grows stronger by the day. Hawaii is beautiful, but is also too geographically restrictive to be ideal. Sure, I would take a trip to Europe, but currently, I have my sights set on Australia. Or hell, New Zealand, even. It's certainly close enough. At the moment, I am anything but dissatisfied with where I live, but I still like to look ahead.
One thing that really, really peeves me is when someone chews their gum noisily. I always thought gum chewing looked stupid as it is, but when I hear that awful smacking noise coming from someone's mouth, I want to reach out and slap them. It's far, far worse when they invade my space and do it, as just happened five minutes ago at the internet terminal. And the way she's pulverising the keys on her keyboard gives me the impression she's trying to pound them into the ground halfway to the Middle East. I wish I had a fly swatter to take care of some of these pests surrounding me.

If you're going to chew gum like a cow chews its cud, go out in a pasture and chew your fucking gum. I hope your keyboard explodes in your face and you get seven years bad luck, you cunt.

It's not that I'm in a bad mood, it's just that some people are programmed to get on my nerves. I'll feel fine as soon as I step outside, past all the cigarette smoke.

Sep 19, 2005

Fall in nocturnal bliss again

Crawling to my glass prison
A place where no one knows
My secret lonely world begins

So much safer here
A place where I can go
To forget about my daily sins

Life here in my glass prison
A place I once called home
Fall in nocturnal bliss again

Chasing a long lost friend
I no longer can control
Just waiting for this hopelessness to end

~ Dream Theater - "Degree 1: The Glass Prison [I. Reflection]"

Another simple escape.

Sunday was a day heavily marked by irony. I had ventured back to the house Saturday night to pick up my desktop computer, under the impression that my notebook was once again dysfunctional. It had overheated and shut itself twice that afternoon. This is after just having received it from the repair center in Houston two days previous. Interestingly enough, though, after I hooked my computer up to my TV monitor to see if it was compatible, the operating system refused to load. After I got to the Windows XP screen, the display would black out and the computer would restart. It would do this over and over again in an infinite loop. I never did resolve the issue. Interestingly, though, I pulled out my notebook and powered it up. I left it on for awhile, and it ran fine. The fan switched on without making any strange noises as it did before. So here I am back at my apartment, with the same computer that I had before and a broken desktop at home. Curious outcome. I suspect it's probably a malfunctioned hard drive, as I could tell by the eerie random clicking noises it produced that it was on its way to destruction. And to think, I had typed out a long journal entry and an essay for tourism geography without having saved it on any secondary source.

The journey to the other side of the island was worthwhile, though, if only for what I experienced on the way back. The moon was out in full force, and I decided it would be much better for me to leave for my apartment at 10 in the evening rather than 10 in the morning. In most cases, I much prefer night driving to day driving, especially when the moon illuminates the landscape, bathing it in monochromatic ebullience. That reminds me, "Monochrome" by Covenant is a perfect nighttime driving song. It impeccably complemented the exquisite scenery of beautiful moonlit rolling hills, vast plains, and rushing streams. I decided to navigate the infamous Saddle Road home, and was rewarded for my steering efforts. This reward came in the form of a truly surreal walk up to a hill upon which sat about a dozen radio towers and antennas, as well as a little wander around an old abandoned military camp nearby.

As I drove along the Mauna Kea access road, by chance I happened to notice a rugged dirt road leading up the hillside into the fog. Impulsively, I decided to stop and wander up it by foot. Squeezing through the two electrical wires restricting vehicular access was an easy task. The air at this elevation was very brisk, and admittedly, I became rather cold. I was too spellbound by my surroundings, however, to be bothered by it. The land was immersed in fog, so brilliantly lit up by my favourite celestial orb. The gnarled limbs of old, stunted leafless trees fumbled around in the air on either side of the road, the bases of their trunks obscured by the damp yellow grass that overtook them. I soon emerged from the fog, and was rewarded with a view so captivating I was for a few moments convinced that I was dreaming. Just downslope, I could see a stand of tall conifers rising above the fog as if they were anchored to absolutely nothing. In the distance was a round hilltop that very closely resembled a floating island. And of course, rising high into the sky across the fog blanketed saddle was the splendorous silhouette of Mauna Loa. Could it have been a dream? It certainly seemed too spectacular and blissful to be classified in the same league as "reality."

As the road continued upwards, I felt as if I had somehow stumbled into a warp zone that transported me straight into Arizona. The surrounding landscape reminded me distinctly of Arizona as I remembered it; there was very little that suggested otherwise. The relatively sparse vegetation, crisp mountain air, rolling valleys, cactus shrubs, and distant mountain peaks all reminded me distinctly of the mountainous region south of Flagstaff. Most significantly, the radio towers rising up into the moonlit sky on the hill before me reminded me of all the magical wanders I experienced in Arizona, where I would make my way up to these installations atop lofty mountains in the middle of the night. Nostalgia overcame me, and it was such a tender feeling. I followed the winding road all the way to the top of the hill, of course, and the view up there was... one of the best views I had ever seen of anything, to be frank. The white cottony clouds that rose above the distant peaks of Hualalai and Haleakala made them appear to have much higher snowcapped zeniths, further contributing to my impression that I was actually in Arizona. As I stood on the front edge of the site, I watched the landscape below me tumble down into the grey blanket of fog far below. I truly felt as if I was on a little floating island of my own, and could not help but stare at the same distant hill that rose up from the fog which I had noticed earlier.

My imagination kicked into high gear. I figured there would be no better place to construct my moon tower than on the summit of that hill. It would reach many miles into the sky, and on the very top of the tower would be a single large, expansive room upon which would be affixed the most powerful telescope in the world. From this room, I could survey the entire state; perhaps the whole world, with the use of carefully placed gargantuan mirrors orbiting the earth. I would live up there for the most part, swooping down to the earth whenever I felt a strange desire to walk around upon the ground. Earthbound creatures would routinely look up at the tower in awe, wondering what could possibly be at its apex, or how and why such a structure was ever built. Or perhaps they would never receive the opportunity to see it at all, for the fog would never clear at all. The full moon and mountainous atmospheres... there is simply nothing better.

Fuck reality.

On my way back down, I stopped at the Humuula Military Camp, an assortment of old abandoned buildings in one of the most remote locales on the island reachable by any road. The atmosphere there is simply celestial, as mist and coolness usually pervades the area, and tall conifers line the perimeter. The buildings are incredibly funky and dilapidated, but there is no hostile spiritual presence there from what I could feel. It is simply a beautiful, serene little place to explore and spend time in, be it day or night.

Earlier in the afternoon, I felt like killing someone and running away to become a hermit in a valley. Now, I feel perfectly fine; enlightened and refreshed. Like I said, today was a day heavily marked by irony.

Sep 15, 2005

Dr. Watkins: where Hawaii goes for plastic surgery.

KWHE is one of the most hilarious local broadcast stations out there. I can still make that judgment even though I only receive two other channels, FOX and ABC. KWHE beats both the alternatives by leaps and bounds when it comes to my own personal amusement. Most of the time, they're showing religious programming which very often gets me chuckling. The last show I watched all the way through was an infomercial for "miracle spring water." Basically, it's a product that is blessed by the receiver of God (the one telling you to buy the product of course) and can cure the ailments of anyone who is annointed with it. The testimonials, by far, were the most amusing parts of the show. They would show a series of bits where someone would come up to the stage and tell a pastor all about the "miracle" they experienced. He took one woman's cane and threw it across the room, declaring "you don't need this, you have been HEALED BY GOD!" or something to that effect. What did she do? She started walking without it, goddamnit. I was especially touched by the story of the man who applied the miracle spring water one night and woke up the next day with a $3000 check and a well-paying career. I need to purchase me some of that miracle spring water!

Tonight, though, a looping commercial for Dr. Watkins' superior plastic surgery was on. As disgusted as I was with some of the people on the show, I also found it genuinely amusing, and was quickly reminded why humans are one of my least favourite species on earth. So self-conscious, so dissatisfied with what nature give them in such trivial aspects as appearance- ugh. A good five minute segment of the show concentrated on some blonde bimbo raving on how about how terrible her nose used to look- so abhorrently short and narrow. Before letting Dr. Watkins give her a nose job, she used to have to apply make up to it so it would look even close to acceptable. Now, after having the procedure with Dr. Watkins, she has a high nose, and can feel confident about herself again! fucking god.

Everyone wants to look younger, and "reverse the signs of aging." Well, where do you start? "Premium quality natural-looking hair starts at $199!" Or for the ladies, "liposuction can get rid of those stubborn little pockets of fat near the hip and restore your youthful figure!" Oh, to imagine those cultures that still exist today where people do whatever they can to try to look -older-. Of course, any sensible person would not achieve any such goal by undergoing a dozen surgeries. It's astonishing how desperate people can be to make their ideal perception of their appearance a reality. What most of these despicable wastes of carbon need isn't a new nose, a hair transplant, or breast augmentation. They need counseling and intensive psychotherapy. The media has brainwashed them into making the most ridiculous, faulty judgements about themselves, and their minds need to be turned around before they waste large sums of money being defiant against nature and the truth. You see, once they fix one "problem," that will just give them an excuse to find another "horrible flaw" about themselves, and it never ends. They need help, and plastic surgery isn't the answer.

I'm amazed by how many people claim to be turned on by fake breasts. I consider it, above all, a colossal embarrassment. So you want fuller, thicker lips? Go die for your country and perhaps your karma will get you reincarnated as a chimp. You want to resurface your skin? Go jump in front of an asphalt roller. You may be in utter denial, but you shouldn't wear it on your face. Make-up and plastic surgery hides what you and many others consider "flaws," but in no way does it make you beautiful.

Rain + Darkness = yes

Why are storm drains called storm drains? Logically, one would expect them to be called "rain drains." They drain rain, but they don't drain storms. Most of the time, they're draining rain that has nothing to do with any storm. To be more inclusive, though, they should be called "fluid drains," as quite often more substances go down those things than pure water.

Lately, the rain has been a very reliable source of consolation for me. Just watching it fall, whether I'm watching it from afar or am intimately wrapped up in its effusive embrace, takes my mind away from most if not all things that have been troubling me. Taking a stroll in a nice rainshower is a marvelous respite from the ins and outs of everyday life. It refreshes my body, mind, and spirit, and often makes me feel almost brand new.

This area has been under a flash flood warning all morning, and several of the roads are closed. After hearing it coming down hard all morning, I decided to finally rise at 11:00 and wander down to the bridge near the Riverside Dungeon. Never in my life had I seen the river so high or so violent. It was truly a stupendous sight; the water was a deep muddy brown and was rushing so quickly, trying to follow the next log or broken tree branch washing down its rapids was almost dizzying. I spent a few minutes just staring, captivated by its fury. Later, I decided to walk along the sidewalks of the main highway across town, parts of which were completely inundated. A few attendants sat in front of a gas station inaccessible by any vehicle, watching the water slowly rise around them. Cars sat in parking lots where the water had reached just past the tops of their tires. It was an interesting little walk, and the way it's still raining muskrats and frogs as I type this, well... some people could be in a little trouble.

Now would not be a good time to swim across the river.

I only smile in the dark
My only comfort is the night gone black
I didn’t accidentally tell you that
I’m only happy when it rains.

Sep 1, 2005

Conquering the Riverside Dungeon

Two mornings ago, I experienced an adventure of a lifetime. I wouldn't say it was the adventure of my lifetime, for that would be discrediting past adventures that have made me feel comparably captivated. It was, however, one I shall remember for a long time, and one that is worth writing about in detail.

A year ago, I first walked across the Wainaku Bridge, which was on my way to the downtown post office, about half a mile from my apartment. Being in no hurry, I took a long gander over the bridge railing in the direction of the sea, impressed by the view. The dark river water seemed to fuse with the deep blue sea seamlessly, between two lush, verdant banks and beneath two historical highway bridges. When I scurried over to the other side of the bridge, however, I witnessed something that greatly intrigued me. Beside two lovely cascades, nestled up on the steep bank was a large structure composed of heavily weathered, moss-coated stone and concrete, almost intimidating in appearance and strikingly esoteric in matter and function. I recall staring at the building for a few consecutive minutes, taking in every minor detail of its features. It was almost unfathomably surreal; something straight out of Myst or Riven, and I found it inexplicable why this ... ancient, ramshackle-looking development was standing there before me. From its worn walls shouted many dark openings, and a heavy stream of whitewater was bursting out of the lowest. The several large, rusted pipes that climbed up the walls and past the roof resembled oversized exhaust systems, for what I could only wonder. To me, the establishment was very dungeonlike in appearance. On the landward side of the building, up the street, I could see it contained in a confined area all the equipment of a typical electrical substation, enclosed by a chain link fence lined with three strands of barbed wire and topped with razor wire so sharp-looking it's difficult to inspect closely without gritting one's teeth. Not to mention, all those "No Trespassing" and "Danger: High Voltage" signs posted all around the perimeter must certainly keep the lawyers from staying awake at night. It looked much more like an ancient, forgotten dungeon than an active powerhouse, though, especially from the river side. It seems only natural, then, that I came to know it as The Riverside Dungeon.

I had passed by The Dungeon countless times, whether by driving, riding my bike, walking, or running. It had become a deeply engrained habit to always take at least a passing glance at it, paying it my respect for the day. There always was something about it that commanded my respect, just as many old, sturdy buildings do. That one had most likely stood up to high river floods, at least one or two tsunamis, and an extremely high rate of rainfall, humidity, and decomposition. Only a few months ago, I found obscured by the trees a spiraling staircase which led halfway down the river bank. It ended at a small, roofless concrete shed, but a quick scramble down the rock below led the rest of the way down. From there, I could make my way along the dry edge of the river back closer to the bridge, so that The Dungeon was directly on the opposite side from me. It was only when I looked up at it from this new perspective that thoughts of someday infiltrating and exploring it crossed my mind. To imagine doing so brought on pleasant little tingles of anticipation and delight. After studying it for a few more moments, I made my decision: I would explore it someday, no matter what the risks involved were, even if it meant die trying. Something about it beckoned me. Above the roar of the river, I could seemingly hear it calling my name, begging me to brave the rushing water and dispose myself to its long forgotten mysteries...

To make one's way across the river and approach it that way seemed to be the only practical way of getting into it. The front street entrance to the grounds was much too conspicuous both by day and night, for it was guarded by bright street lamps and resided right across the street from busy apartment complexes. And that razor wire, oh, how frightening it looked. I had considered accessing the building straight from the bridge, but they made that a little too difficult, as well. A ledge extended from the building to the bridge, but was quite a plunge from the sidewalk, and a dense web of barbed wire assembled atop the concrete guardrail complicated things further. In short, it was either enter via the river or say hello to certain injury or maybe a bored cop or two, who don't mind harassing those who just like to do a little harmless exploring.

Interestingly, I hadn't worked up the incentive to cross the river until a few weeks ago. The moon was out in full force, and it was the final morning before Ian's departure. I felt like I had to do something "daring," out of celebration, tribute, whatever. Without much forethought, I chose the calmest area of the river in the vicinity and jumped in. The water was chilly, but still far from excruciatingly cold. It felt nothing short of incredibly refreshing. I reached the opposite bank and made my way down to The Dungeon, finding it difficult to keep my balance on the slick rock. When I touched The Dungeon's concrete foundation for the very first time, I could feel its energy. It seemed positive and forlorn at the same time. I was thrilled by the fact that I had finally reached it, but I quickly discovered that I wouldn't get far exploring it. Two huge, thunderous streams of water burst out of twin concrete chutes in the building and quickly joined the river, negating any manageable path farther along the bank. A rough scramble up the side of the building opposite the bridge brought me to a colossal, antiquated-looking pipe and a new perspective on the dungeon grounds (I could even see part of the street from there), but afforded me no access to the building- the fencing here seemed even more severe here than toward the street. Satisfied with having reached the building itself, I headed back home, promising it I would be back.

Just this week, I decided to take a typical walk down to the bridge, not expecting at first to make an adventure of a lifetime out of it. When I scrambled down to the bank and noticed that the twin jets of water that had restricted my access last time were completely absent, the first thought that crossed my head was, "this is your chance to go farther." Visions of actually looking up into those dark tunnels which were only recently dry, and perhaps even climbing up into themcrossed my head, and made me both excited and somewhat nervous. It was all the motivation I required to throw myself into that river again and swim across, making my way back to my favourite local wonder.

For once, the ground wasn't slickened by recent rain, making the journey along the edge much easier. I had brought only one possession along, my TekTorch (a flashlight of sorts that emits a very focused steelblue light) which I had to carry in my mouh as I crossed the river. As I approached the first chute and stood before it, I half-expected a sudden surge of water to begin blasting out of it, as I have seen so many times before. It was admittedly somewhat exhilarating to lift up the heavy rubber flap that hung over the entrance and poke my head up there, acknowledging that I was directly in the path of a potentially violent, deadly force. I quickly left it alone, however, deciding I would explore its depths later if I had enough leftover time, energy, and nerve.

Progressing a little farther down the river, past the two dormant chutes and the twin cascades on the other side of me, I was now so close to the bridge that a couple street lamps illuminated my path. I jumped across a small concrete canal and waded through some thin vegetation, eager to return to the shadows so that I could remain as covert as possible. The rocky bank became hazardously narrow and steep under the bridge, plunging right down into the swiftly moving current. Fortunately, I didn't need to go that far. The branches of a gargantuan banyan tree grew up The Dungeon's concrete walls like thick, sturdy tendrils. Navigating my way through and between its mesh of aerial roots was much like negotiating a maze. My one and only goal for the time being was to discover a way up to the concrete platform about 25 feet above me, the same one I had looked down upon from the street many times, contemplating how I would ever get to it. As luck would have it, in the very corner where the ledge met the bridge, a network of roots were scurrying down, offering enough handholds and footholds to allow for some very unorganised climbing. I enjoyed the fact that the tree's tremendous crown offered me protection from the light and sightings by humans. The aerial roots of banyan trees are remarkably sturdy and durable; one could never expect them to bend or snap no matter how hard they are pulled upon. I didn't feel nervous about relying on them entirely to help me up to the platform safely, and they did. I ducked beneath an old rusted railing and stood up, thankful to be on some flat, solid ground again. Traveling parallel to the railing was yet another chain link fence with barbed wire, but *gasp* no razor wire! I walked along the narrow corridor back toward the building until the chain link fence crossed over to meet the railing, and hardly believed how easy getting around the big, formidable fence looked. It was simple as standing atop the old iron railing, using the corner fence post to support myself, and swinging right around the fence and over to the walkway that extended around the front and side of The Dungeon. I was dumbfounded by the obviousness of the security breach, and even more taken aback that I had almost made it into The Dungeon's intimate confines.

Going along the side of the building, away from the river, was a narrow iron staircase which I followed up to the front door. The entrance was, of course, securely padlocked, but I had little interest in going back outside anyway. The stairway led past a couple dilapidated old rooms, many of the window panes yellowed and shattered, and remnants of old, rusted tools and appliances littering the concrete floors. It smelled of decay and abandonment, much like a dungeon would. On the opposite side of the walkway was a towering iron door that stood between me and immersion into the true heart of The Dungeon. Unsurprisingly, it didn't budge. They wouldn't make it that easy, would they? Next to the door was another window, several of its pains busted out. My curiousity getting the best of me, I shined my light through one of them, desperate for a look inside. What I witnessed left me completely spellbound.

It looked more like a dungeon on the inside than on the outside! Three or four rows of giant, rust-coated machines consumed most of the floor space, but the room was still incredibly spacious. Giant chains and hooks descended from the ceiling in various places, beyond the eerie old overhead lamps and cobweb-tangled rafters. On the far side of the room, two lamp lights were burning, focused on a large slab of machinery covered with a white sheet. I could make out a staircase leading upwards, and through the dome-shaped window of the upper story I could see a running fan and several flashing LED's. Stacked against the northern wall were piles of rusted rubble, dilapidated display cases full of wilting tools that if touched by a feather might collapse into a heap. As exotic and ghastly as the place seemed, it did not seem particularly foreboding so much as simply... fascinating.

I gave up on the door and explored one last avenue- the walkway that led along The Dungeon's river-facing side. I turned the corner and passed by a couple large exhaust pipes, speculating on how noisy the area would be if those machines were actually running. Imagine my delight when I arrived at a sizeable opening in the wall, reached by climbing over a large muffler. A pipe ran across the horizontal median of the opening, but still left me enough space to squeeze through. If they really wanted to keep me out, I determined, they would have nicely lined the opening with vertical bars or grating. Perhaps centuries ago, when it was operating as a normal dungeon, all the windows were barred, but in contemporary times, they were left open as a subtle invite for curious wanderers such as myself. Gaining entrance to the inside was so easy it felt almost unnatural. The floor was out of safe dropping-down distance, but I was able to balance along a large pipe and onto a steel walkway leading around the perimeter of the gigantic engine. For some reason, I felt the need and desire to be as quiet as possible, afraid to disturb the place as if it was still wrapped up in a peaceful slumber. I circled back to the large iron door I had inspected earlier, and noticed that it had been welded shut from the inside. Clearly, this place was closed for business- at least from that entrance. I crept down another narrow stairway leading to the base floor, which was littered with bits and pieces that had broken off the heavy machinery looming above. The machinery actually reminded me of a locomotive engine in its breadth and exterior appearance, and could only but gaze in awe. It was sporting eight large pistons, each of them much larger than me, and I had to wonder just how much horsepower such a massive invention could put out. A giant iron wheel with large inner teeth was located at the northern end of it, its bottom quarter rusting away in a small well of stillwater. I could easily see it as a deadly trap that had more business being in an action-adventure video game, and could imagine it somehow starting up and coming to life before me. The room was filled with three other machines that looked much like this one, rivaling it in size and perplexing mystery. The floor seemed unsafe to walk on, as much of it was composed of rusted grating covering a large pool of water- and who knew what was lurking in its depths. I wasn't discouraged by the notion that what I was doing was unsafe, but rather, very aroused.

I was still perplexed regarding those two burning lamps in the corner, though. It crossed my mind that someone might have been working there recently, and had wandered off for a short coffee break. I was fairly certain it was my paranoia talking very loudly, but I still decided to approach with stealth. As soon as I crossed over a strand of yellow "do not enter" tape and passed the large machines, the floor became much more well-kempt, and everything seemed much tidier. At the same time, though, it still felt distinctly like a dungeon, especially with the eerie yellow light creeping up the walls, emitting spooky shadows. All senses alert, I padded up a few stairs to the raised floor and proceeded to explore the western area of the room. The largest wrench I had ever seen hung from the wall, along with a few other arcane, rusted inventions. I looked down on what the two lamp lights were focused upon, yet another esoteric piece of machinery apparently in the design stages, and harboured furry thoughts of destroying it for the common good. Actually, what I could not stop doing was staring at the ethereal red light that shone upon the teeth of its gears. From a distance, they nearly resembled the ribs of a human skeleton.

Near the stairway leading to the upper floor was a grid whose intimidating innards featured a tangled web of power wires, switches, levers, and other electrical devices. It was in an extremely ramshackle condition, apparently having not been touched in years. From the outside in, it seemed like some sort of over-elaborate death trap, maybe something a hedgehog or golden fox would happen upon in Death Egg Zone. On the front of the grid several identifiable place names were listed, beneath them missing switches and gaping holes. Little did I know that venturing upstairs would bring me into a much different atmosphere. The upper floor less resembled an old dungeon and more of a modern bunker. Nearest the top of the stairs was a clipboard with a few logs and a phone and phonebook resting on the table. Towards the other side was a humongous power console center; bulky, square boxes whose surfaces were lined with myriad switches, buttons, and glowing, blinking LED's of many colours. There were even three plastic chairs sitting in front of them in case I developed the sudden urge to lounge around. Amongst all the power boxes and metres, I noticed what appeared to be a surveillance camera, so I took the precaution of ducking underneath it. A large fan rested on the window ledge, left whirring away for some reason or another. From the window, I could look down upon the entire dungeon, realising what a far cry it was from the modern surroundings I had just recently stumbled into. I felt like quite the dominant one up there, watching over everything from my high vantage point; my position of authority.

The last major room I stumbled into happened to be the newest of them all. In fact, it reeked of that unique and very distinct "brand new machine" smell. As I stood atop a grated walkway leading down to the concrete floor, my TekTorch revealed a massive turbine occupying the room. I located the label on it and noticed that it was dated "2005." The contrast was rather extraordinary- I had gone from rusting ledge to cutting edge. I was fascinated by this giant machine, an invention capable of producing so much power, of producing thundering cascades of water that could easily take a life. I marveled at the supposition that I could just throw a few switches and somehow alter the flow of the river.

At the same time, though, my mind became immersed in a Goldeneye 007 videogame-reality-fantasy. The conditions, after all, were nearly ideal for it. I almost felt as if plastering the turbine with remote mines was an objective of mine, along with shooting out the fire alarms with my PP7. From there, I could take out a couple surveillance cameras and take a covert photograph of the main console display readout before attaching a plastique to the entire system. I would grab the clipboard containing logs of all the poor prisoners fed to the mangling machines along with a couple other items of evidence, then use the old radio on the corner table downstairs to contact Jack Wade. After shooting out both of the lights, I would strafe back to the opening I had originally crawled into, inadvertently setting off the alarm system. Knowing that the fly-swatting guards loitering around the front entrance previously talking about next week's Cradle of Vomit concert were now in pursuit of me, I rushed along the platform, back around the chainlink fence, down the aerial roots of the banyan tree, along the base of the dungeon wall (avoiding the roving searchlights, of course!), and past the twin chutes. Being so obsessed with danger, I decided to crawl up into one of the chutes, looking up at the base of the royal blue turbine as it trickled water. The air felt hot, wet, and heavy, and the "newness" odour was strongest of all in here. It smelled almost like... the future. A clean, technologically advanced future. Remembering I was in a hurry, I scrambled back out the opposite chute, scurried up the bank a ways, jumped into the river and swam to the other side. Just as the guards were beginning to spill out of The Dungeon opening like termites, I pressed a button on my wristwatch. Kaboom. The guards went flying, and a brilliant explosion could be seen within The Dungeon's confines. The ever-respectable building survived, but its evil operations within did not. Mission accomplished.

I wouldn't say my imagination gets the best of me so much as I get the best of my imagination. I can turn the completely mundane into an adventure, so it's quite fabulous what my imagination can do with something that is already an adventure. I feel as if I have accomplished a major life goal by finally infiltrating the famous Riverside Dungeon. Last night, I went back in there, this time armed with a camera with which to capture its mystique and splendor. I snapped as many pictures as I could before my battery power ran out, which seems to happen to me more frequently these days. They still provide a good supplement to the reading, I feel.