Dec 31, 2008

Users baffled as Zune MP3 players freeze up

Some things never change, eh Microshaft? Nothing celebrates winter like technology that freezes.

Most of us are already forced to use their operating system at home, school, or work, so I can't imagine why anyone would want to go out and willingly invest in another product of theirs for themselves when many other options are so readily available.

Dec 30, 2008

Mother Nature's fury knows no boundaries

A couple days ago, on another refreshingly dim, cloudy, and very windy afternoon, I took another trip down to one of my favorite spots on Earth, Pololu Valley. I encountered more crowds of tourists that I expected for such a weekday (there were actually only around 20 people down there, but even that seems excessive for such an isolated locale that I'm used to seeing so deserted). Craving absolute solitude as usual, I opted to leave everyone behind and go somewhere... well, no one else ever goes.

And it's a place no one ever goes for a reason. Most people wouldn't even dream of going that way, and even if taking the risk crossed their mind, wouldn't be stupid or gutsy enough to try it. I have been stupid or gutsy enough to do it several times, and have always been rewarded with complete isolation and a slight sense of satisfaction for testing nature and prevailing.

The coastline is comprised of sheer, vertical cliffs, at the base of which lies a narrow stretch composed of round boulders between Pololu Valley and the next valley mouth about half a mile away. There are basically two ways of reaching that remote second valley- take the switchbacking trail that ascends up the wall from Pololu Valley, traverses the ridge, and descends down the second valley wall, or take the route that is much shorter and easier, but much more risky, and hop along the boulders at the base of the cliff.

The trail used to be the much easier way, before "The Big One" of '06 triggered a rockslide that undermined a significant portion of the trail, and necessitated a detour which involves scrambling down a very steep, slippery slope while holding onto tree trunks and a network of strategically placed ropes. It's exhausting, to say the least, whether one is headed up or down.

Most of the shoreline route actually isn't that bad, as long as one is physically fit for half a mile (seems like much more) of unstable, slippery boulder hopping. The first couple portions are the worst, though, as the going is so narrow that practically nothing lies between the raging ocean and the cliff. One has to proceed with just the right timing to rush on through between waves rolling in, so as to avoid being pounded by one against the cliff face. The worst I always get is a bit wet with salt water, but it's always a gamble.

After I made my way around the point and left the mouth of Pololu out of sight, I suddenly came upon the majority of the wreckage from the boat I mentioned a couple entries ago- a wide variety of objects the ocean simply deposited on the shore. And this wreckage was far more interesting, because it apparently had not been picked over at all, and I was likely the first person to investigate it from anywhere but in the air.

The first object I stumbled upon was the craft's steering wheel, all bent out of shape but still intact. Nearby were several fragments from the engine system, though the engine itself was probably lost somewhere out at sea. Four bright red gasoline containers were strewn about the rocks, a couple of them still retaining fuel.

Here are some of the other odd, random little items I discovered amongst all the sea-logged fragments of lumber:

-fire extinguisher
-wheel from a child's bicycle
-couple of children's life vests
-a battered VCR
-self-inflating bed roll with a name and phone number on it
-grey Zodiak boat that appeared in reasonably decent shape, but not necessarily related to the wreckage of the other boat
-couple of chair cushions
-the nautical compass
-the muffler
-a flare gun set with flares

I took the nautical compass and the flare gun set home as souvenirs. Finders keepers.

If I was a cast away out there, I would have been delighted to discover such a wreck. The things I could do with all that wood, plastic, and rope, not to mention a functioning flare gun! As it was, though, I found it fascinating, surreal, and creepy all the time. I couldn't help mentally inquiring as to how it happened, or whether any fatalities occurred because of it. It's not everyday one simply happens upon such an accident, but it just goes to show the ferocity of the rough seas out there, and that Hawai'i isn't nearly as tame as many people seem lulled into believing.


just an annual excuse to get wasted

I was hoping I would get the chance to work up on the mountain all night on New Year's Eve, but it appears wintry weather might again prevail and the shift will be canceled due to an excess of snow and ice on the summit.

All that happens in this neighborhood on said holiday are billions of firecrackers going off, as well as equally as annoying whistling fireworks. This is the perfect time to make a bunch of obnoxious, unnecessary noise and do it legally, so why not take advantage of it? I hope it's windy enough so all the smoke doesn't linger, and damp enough to minimize people's willingness to make as much noise as they humanly can just for the hell of it. Up on the mountain, it would be a peaceful, surreal snowy winter wonderland, an environment I wouldn't mind spending all night in as everyone carries on with their mindless partying and boozing and noisemaking somewhere thousands of feet below the clouds.

I can hardly wait for this holiday to be over, too. Then soon thereafter the old, stale president will be out and replaced by someone who shows a lick of promise, and we can all try to move on with our lives in relative comfort. Or maybe not; who knows how much worse it will get. I try not to depress myself with such thoughts. At least the dawn of a new year feels like somewhat of a fresh start. Actually, it will probably just feel like business as usual, which is actually welcome after how I've reacted to the holidays this year.

If I don't get the blessed chance to work tomorrow night, I'll likely just stay in the warmth and coziness of my room and listen to music, indulge in playing my recently acquired copies of Okami or Galaxy on the Wii, and maybe watch some movies. For someone as willfully introverted as I am, who experiences the most pleasure in doing solitary activities, having one's private little oasis to hide out in where no one can intrude without permission is extremely important. I'm glad I have that, especially on occasions like New Year's Eve.

Dec 28, 2008

Don't look back in anger

This morning, I really wanted to pick up the stand-alone vanity mirror in the bathroom and slam it down onto the counter as hard as I could. I was able to maintain enough composure to merely pick it up above my head and simulate the behavior as best as I could without damaging anything. I really, really craved the satisfaction of destroying something, but I wasn't in quite enough of a rage to not be able to think ahead of what the consequences would be. Having to clean up a few hundreds shards of broken glass, possibly pull some out of my skin and then mop up the blood, purchase a replacement mirror, and perhaps be stricken with seven years' bad luck. So with all that in mind, I just put it down and chewed on a bath towel instead.

It makes me wish life was more like a cartoon, where I could break the hell out of something to my heart's content and then it will magically clean itself up and replace itself five minutes later. After all, the mirror did nothing to instigate my wrath, and I have no reason to prefer it remain in a million pieces. It just happened to be standing up and staring back at me at the wrong time. The key is to be able to control myself well enough to not always grab the nearest handy object to throw, but rather the nearest available object that isn't important and won't cause any real damage.

Maybe I simply need a safer, more reliable outlet for my frustrations. A punching bag, perhaps, or some manner of effigy?

Dec 27, 2008

Eat my shorts, teacher sir

For second and third grades of my elementary schooling, I was enrolled in two different public schools on the island of Kaua'i. For some reason, both schools required students to perform a certain ritual each morning that I did not have to deal with in either of the two Big Island elementary schools I attended.

The class was expected to stand up immediately after the tardy bell rang at 8:05 and recite the pledge of allegiance. You know, the one where you supposedly pledge your allegiance to the oh-so-wonderful United States of America. We had to pledge our allegiance every day of school, and there were 180 days in the school year. I sure pledged my allegiance often.

Of course, being as young as I was, I had no idea what pledging my allegiance even meant. They didn't even tell us what it meant. I just stood up and recited what everyone else was because I was told to. And being an impressionable, unquestioning seven year-old who believed adults are truly all-knowing beings, I did so. It seemed senseless to me even at the time to stand up and chant and then listen to a bugle rendition of some patriotic American-the-great anthem on the P.A. speaker every single goddamn morning, but I did it so as to avoid the possible pain of receiving a spanking from my dad as punishment for disobeying the all-knowing adults and the infallible system that governed my youth.

If I could go back in time with the mind of an adult who is willing to stand up for himself and object to performing senseless rituals designed to mold us all into obedient little servants, I would gladly re-enter the eight hour of the day on a second grade school morning, and do what good ol' Bongo here did:

In truth, there are many, many things in school I wish I had done, and had not done. But when you're a kid whose happiness in life is determined so strongly by your parents or guardians, the right thing to do is simply to try and stay out of trouble and do with the adults say. I truly detested school and all the ridiculous things they made us do, and I can say I wish I hadn't wasted 12 years of my life in the public school system, but who knows whether I would be a better or worse person today if I hadn't had to suffer through it. Some people say high school or college is the best time of one's life, but I disagree. Life only got better after high school and college.

Dec 26, 2008

What made my Christmas, 2008 edition

I'm glad Christmas is over with for another year.

I don't loathe the holiday, but unfortunately, people just make too big a deal out of it. I am not religious and certainly don't aspire to be, so that eliminates at least half the potential appeal right there. All I really do value it for are the memories of years past, when I was young and naive enough to believe in Santa Claus, and that world peace was achievable. When I got so excited about opening my presents I could barely contain myself, and I could easily lose myself in the majesty of the outdoor lights and a tree filling the house with a warm, colorful glow in the middle of the night.

This year, it simply felt like more of a chore than anything else. What do I get for a retired dad who invests in gold and silver and apparently can buy whatever he feels like having? I don't know, but of course, I feel obligated to place some miscellaneous crap under the tree for everyone. I still enjoy the holiday lights and the fragrance of imported pine in the house and... well, what else? Christmas brings home my brother, whom I seem to have nothing in common with, and whose dirty glance in my direction at the dinner table was the only communication we've shared in years. I got some seasonal employment with UPS, which enabled me to earn a few hundred extra dollars which was certainly worth it, but I can't say much for the environment I had to work in this year. As I had stated in LJ earlier, it's a "culturally homogenized snooty hell hole of golf courses and gated mansions." If all of Hawaii was like that, I wouldn't have anything to do with this place. And of course, there is the shopping. Thousands of consumers stampeding through the stores like cattle, snatching up the best bargains they can find as if they depend on those huge sales for their very survival.

All I really cared for this Christmas was someone to snuggle, or at least enjoy the company of, rather than having to act polite around my family and put up with their various attitudes. Well, maybe next year.

The actual highlight of Christmas day was taking off in the afternoon by myself. Just me, my music, the open road, and the freedom to do whatever I want and voyage wherever I please for the rest of the day. Such therapy. It also just so happened that I wandered right into an intense rain storm, in an area where rain is hardly a common occurence. Rain in the desert is really a special experience, to witness a landscape that is usually bone dry and barren experiencing a total deluge. I savored that for at least an hour before heading back around to the lush, foresty side of the peninsula and traveling down the road until it terminated at the Pololu Valley lookout. Since it was a holiday, the parking lot was infested with tourae, but as I made my way down the steep hiking trail into the valley I left them all behind. That was perfectly fine with me; I've had enough of humanity for the week.

Pololu Valley is one of the most beautiful, not to mention spiritually soothing, places on Earth. It's just a completely uninhabited, totally wild, densely forested little valley surrounded by dramatically steep walls that preclude 99% of human souls from bothering to venture into it to experience its majesty. Of course, it's also possible to sail in from the ocean and land on the sprawling black sand beach at the mouth, but the sea is usually much too rough and the waves too intimidating to make landing there anything but too dicey of a thing to plan for. In fact, I discovered a boat washed up on the beach yesterday. It was all in pieces, dozens of little fragments of wood that appeared to have been floating about in the saltwater for quite some time. One of them contained the skeleton of a marine loudspeaker, and I came across several beached cabinet doors, clothes hangers, and other odd miscellaneous items. All of this debris was washed up on only a small section of the beach.

The coast was being positively buffeted by wind. Warm, salty Pacific trade winds, gusting strongly enough to force me to lean into it slightly to properly stroll forward. It felt wonderful. Aside from the constant roar of the ocean right beside me, I could hear the wind whooshing through the ironwood trees that densely forested the lofty dunes just behind the beach. Myriad sea birds announced their presence over those lulling sounds of nature, and that was all I could hear. A fragment of a vivid rainbow was visible in the sky over the sea, as rain clouds made their way closer and closer to shore, and eventually treated me to a nice light shower.

I could have stayed out there much longer and would have, were it not for the expectation that I should be home for dinner.

Dec 25, 2008

Tribute to Mirrors of the Wolf

I am admittedly impressed with how this blog has endured through the years and weathered all that I've put it through. I've gone through and permanently deleted all the entries in my LJ on several occasions due to fits of paranoia or rage. My old website and its sequel were around for a few years, but that failed the test of time after I decided I simply didn't want to bother working out its many bugs anymore. Truthfully, the main reason I disposed of it was because I had been ignorant enough to include my real name on the front page, and I became gravely concerned that just anyone in the world could look up my real name and be linked to my website, which contained a great deal of personal information and musings about myself I don't want just anyone reading. I'm much better off not including my real name anywhere on this blog, or anywhere online.

I had been under the impression for awhile that I deleted this blog along with everything else. Hence, my completely neglecting it for a couple years. After I finally rediscovered my account and found that all the original posts are still intact, I decided to convert it into a dump for my negative and cynical thoughts, and a place for venting during a bad mood. Just take a look at all the nastiness I've posted. Good thing it's a fairly harmless method of releasing steam.

But yes, nothing of mine online, save for my account at a certain video game discussion forum, has lasted nearly as long as this blog, and for that it deserves my utmost respect. Lifespans for personal content in cyberspace are so incredibly short, yet this is still here for me after all these years. Thank Google.

I usually feel rather mixed about how much I actually want to write about myself and my life. Livejournal usually isn't very conducive for going into great amounts of detail about my experiences; it feels more like a tool to update others on what I've been up to. But here, I feel at liberty to ramble on as much as I please about whatever I feel like, and I should hope it shows. It feels private, secure, and cozy here.

And that's why, for the new year, I would like to get back in the habit of posting. Not just venting, but stories and accounts of what I've recently experienced. It seems I used to be quite a bit more prolific than I am now, but I would like to try to regain at least some of that enthusiasm for describing my adventures and my deepest thoughts and feelings. I know they don't go unappreciated by some readers, anyway, and if for no one else it benefits myself in that it helps me remember what is most worth recalling.

We'll see how it goes, I suppose.