Eric's meaty face


Some Days in the Life - April 18, 1999

 April 18, 1999




So where do you begin?

A friend of mine once said that the most tempting sound in the world is silence in an auditorium. She always had trouble in that one second before a concert started. You know the one. While waiting for the concert, everybody murmurs to each other in that low voice. It's white sound that kind of relaxes you. We're used to noise. Traffic noise, fluorescent lights, the hum of computer fans, the TV on in the other room, the stereo... you know, noise. We screen it out. It forms the boundaries of our mental conversation -- the one we have with ourself. Even if we don't use language for it (I do), we have it on a constant basis.

Silence -- real silence -- is jarring to that. Your thoughts don't know where the boundaries are, so they kind of close in on themselves if you're the sort of person to not make a fuss.

This friend of mine is not that sort of person. In fact, she resents that sort of person.

Normally, that noise keeps her under control. We're not usually without it. You go to a movie theater, and everyone keeps talking until the Really Loud Sound comes from the speakers. You go to a play, and everyone keeps talking until the curtains open, there's polite applause and the play starts. And once its started, silence doesn't count, because you're watching something and that confuses your ears into thinking it's not really in silence, unless you're watching Mimes in which case your ears ask you politely to buy a gun.

But at a concert -- a classical concert, not one with a mosh pit -- you're stuck. The conductor comes out. For no good reason, everyone applauds him as though to encourage his walking a straight line and waving. He then turns, and raises his baton.

And everyone shuts up. This is the pregnant pause. The moment of transition, when the crowd becomes an audience -- but there's nothing out there for them to listen to. And that's exactly what they're doing. Listening to nothing.

My friend finds this moment irresistible. She once broke into "Lullaby of Broadway" before the Conductor could start. I was there. The conductor turned bright red and made sort of a huffing sound, and whirled on her. Laughter burst through the crowd -- this guy was pompous to begin with, and we were a college crowd. Kate was asked to leave and I went along with her. She swears she just couldn't pass up that rich, creamy silence, even though no one was there to hear her.

Which is why I'm writing this journal.

It started with Bill Dickson. Bill's a friend of mine from my Relay days (ah, Relay, we hardly knew ye), my days in Ithaca, New York and my days in Seattle. Bill has an online journal which gets addicting to read. There are two reactions to something like this. One is to anxiously await his next entry and follow his links to other journals to ease the pain. I suspect this is what people who aren't colossally arrogant do.

The other is to start your own. Which is what people who don't meet the above requirement do. Guess which camp I'm in.

Arrogance is a part of writing. It's a big part, actually. It's that part that says "I am so good at this that you will want to read it because I'm good enough for that. It's like that in poetry, especially. There are three types of poet in the world. Two are poseurs, and one is a poet. They break down like this:

Poseur sub A: A poet who truly believes that his tortured soul can't withstand the pain any longer. He needs to express himself. So he writes poetry. Reams of it. Enough poetry to make Sir Philip Sydney take up plumbing as a profession. And he never shows it to anyone -- it's too personal. It's too intense. It would be like a woman unbuttoning her blouse on the bus -- most women don't want you to know she's wearing a wonderbra. This is fortunate, as most Poseur sub A's poetry is extended masturbation where they didn't have the decency to clean up after themselves.

Poseur sub B: The Artiste. They talk about poetry. A lot. They talk about the specialized, internal, highly personal world of the poetry. They often wear tweed and smoke pipes or clove cigarettes. Notable because they haven't actually written more than three lines of poetry. In it for the lifestyle and in the hopes they'll get groupies.

Poet: Irritating fellow who writes poetry and then tries to force you to read it. These are the folks who go to poetry slams and scream out "shut the fuck up!" at the top of their lungs to try to get you to listen to their eight hundred line prose poem on breakfast. Carry chapbooks in the trunk of their car.

The third type -- the actual poet -- is arrogance personified. It extends into all media. The person who reads every newsgroup specifically to find idiots to flame because their idiots is a form of usenet artist, striving for a voice and recognition from someone. The person who writes fiction and leaves it under your windshield wiper for you to find coming out of the grocery store. The person who publishes an online journal. Arrogance and a belief that the things they say will be interesting to someone fuels them.

Without these people, we would only have Morality plays and Viking Sagas for entertainment, and those get repetitive after a while.

So, in summary, I'm writing this because I liked Bill's, and am arrogant enough to want to write one.

Don't you feel happier knowing that?

I'm a "manager" in "information technology," which means I play with computers and talk to people on the phone. Sometimes I drink coffee and go to meetings. I have a staff -- a front desk person, a systems administrator and a hardware technician. I work at a school that's bought into computers in a big way -- if you want a nightmare, imagine three hundred and forty students, ages 13 to 19, carrying around two thousand dollar powerbooks you're responsible for keeping running. It's entirely Macintosh centered -- my local Mac rep calls me up on a regular basis. My tech has warranty certification from Apple. I get lots of new toys on a regular basis.

It's a good life. Take this machine -- Roulette. (I know, it's called But that's because my original idea was to publish a review. Fortunately, an online journal counts as "annotations" too. Even more so, actually.) Roulette is a Power Macintosh 7350 180 Mhz running MacOS X Server. It's officially an "unsupported" configuration, apparently because Apple wants to sell lots of G3 minitowers -- it runs like a dream and serves up web pages considerably faster than my 233 Mhz G3 running Webstar 3 did. (Why didn't I use that G3 instead? I tried. It was a Powerbook which doesn't have a backslide cache. Apparently the software likes 604e's a lot more than it likes Powerbooks without backslide caches, though G3 Powerbooks at 266 mhz apparently work just fine.) I get to play with this, and turn my play into a real, honest knowledge which I apply to our servers. The powers that be like this a lot.

Having worked in Corporate Heck (The New Way to Office), and Corporate Hell (I found a worse place than Kinko's. Fear it.) I'm astounded to work for a place that has some grasp of technical issues and a ton of support for caring for them. It doesn't suck.

Anyway, more later.