Archive for the '' Category

Starlight Tears

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

The sun set earlier, leaving orange sherbet streaks in the cerulean-blue sky.  It was almost 8:00 PM, the tilt of the Earth inclining the northern hemisphere toward the sun; it was already dark south of the equator.  The same sun, the same time of day, but half a world away was not warm and summerlike with late evening sun, but already cold and dark. 

So many things break my heart constantly.  It is not a complaint.  The salt of tears is an essential flavor to accompany the banquet of living.  And sometimes I get bitter about it, as if it were not invited, as if I did not seek to squeeze the precious emotion from each and every moment, as if I did not embrace the heartbreak with all the verve and gusto of a passionate lover.  As if I did not love to cry. 

On this longitudinal slice of the Earth, it is now dark in both places, North and South of the equator. The night unifies–briefly–the American continents under softly starlit skies, twinkling tears in the eyes of heaven.


Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Another year has passed.  Another decade has passed, another generation has passed.  Another life. 

Forgive my fumbling efforts to make something significant happen, before it is over.  Be patient with my uninformed anxiety that pretends all of it matters, my tension as the end approaches–even if it is not near, it approaches.  Be tolerant of me, please. 

I only wanted to …well, I guess I never really had a plan.  I never thought this life through.  But I knew beauty.  I knew love–though often from a distance.  I knew you. 

And now it comes time to make some sense of it all; time to make an attempt, at least, to reach for an anchor point; time to find a handhold in this tumultuous passage, or perhaps only a hand to hold.  It is not as if this is the end.  It’s not as if there even is an end.  But there are turning points, not actual events neccessarily, more like convulsions in a life, birthing moments in which something else comes to exist.  An effort that arises from the dust of complacency, a spasm resulting from the immobility of a life unlived. 

Sometimes, just pretending something significant is happening can be enough.


Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I hate myself.  The reasons are legion (or maybe not, I just don’t want to go into them).  But from my perspective, people seem not to understand this.  Or they won’t accept it.  Now, I know people are not supposed to hate themselves; it impedes self-preservation, and self-preservation is paramount in living people–I know this from implementing my own suicide.  But I guess impeding self-preservation is not the same as repudiating it.  So I can’t get away with killing myself, but I can get away with merely hating myself.

People don’t believe it when I say I hate myself.  They giggle.  They seem to think it is cute, or comical.  Or a joke.  I know it is not their problem, but I am forced to interact socially, and that is always disastrous.  So I always try to explain why it’s disastrous by telling people I hate myself.  You can say we are not forced to interact socially, but we are built to; our faces are designed by evolution to display our emotions–our inner climate–to the world.  And our culture is built on social interaction.  Do you generate the electricity you use?  Someone else does.  Do you grow the food you eat?  Someone else does.  Our survival is based on social interaction.  And as individuals, the degree of our success is based on how well we interact socially. 

I am two hundred pounds of torment in a society that demands I do exactly what I can’t do: be socially competent. 

Or maybe I won’t do it (be socially competent, that is).  Social competence demands that I first stop hating myself.  Which is an option.  But that now puts me in conflict with the reasons I hate myself.  And we are not going there.  Not here.  Suffice it to say that one who hates oneself need not have compassion for oneself.  Injuries need not be grieved, sorrows can be left un-felt, and so on.  You don’t clothe, and feed, and care-for those you hate, usually.  True, you might do so out of an altruistic motivation, but our primate ancestors were not so inclined.  Indeed, hating is itself a product of our higher natures; we have been given the capacity to withhold love.  Who knows why.  I guess it is one of the steps to becoming divine.  But it does enable me to accomplish all that I have said, to evade all of the pain, to ignore all of the need simply by not loving–more commonly known as hating–myself. 


It is a lovely shade of gray outside right now.  Seasonable, and in a time when the seasons seem a little confused, that is almost…  nice.  But the gray emanates beneath from bulbous clouds above (to be honest there is some purple there, but only just a touch), and it is a gentleness of light, a soft serenity that says there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, and it makes none of the insistent demands of joy that come with bright sunshine, demands that say, “you should be happy, you should be with someone, lying half naked on a beach, you should have something to do, somewhere to go, some activity, some life…”.  Bright sunshine says you should.  The grayness only says you are. 

Gathering of demons

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Some day, I will know.  And I will wonder how I could have not spoken for years on end, and I will wonder how I could have not written anything, not anything at all, not any of the torrential streams of writing gushing constantly through every waking moment and being dumped out, unrecorded onto the ground, discarded like the cold contents of a chamber pot.

Only it was not cold.  And it was never dead.  And it was precious, but made repugnant by some twisted contortion of humility that became a grotesque and deformed self-debasement, a kind of shyness taken beyond rational limits, a pathological withdrawal further away than a room, or a town, or a country apart, beyond even the furthest continents, to an indescribable distance which cannot be measured by physical, or temporal means.  Hiding there was safe.  Was.  But safety is an illusion.  None of the therapists will tell you this.  Indeed, much of human sanity depends on the illusion of safety. 

Some day, I will know that I should have written dangerously, with reckless abandon, with made-up words, fantastical grammar and screams, and throbbing erotic laughter.  Some day I will know that writing on my prison walls in my own blood might just barely have been sufficient.  Some day, I will know that I should have written like my life depended on it.

But not today.  I am not ready to go yet.  Until then I will pretend that writing is just something insignificant, something I do in the quiet hours before dawn, when all the demons pull up chairs and gather round like my only friends, and watch in rapt amazement at how I still don’t know. 

On correspondence

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I write letters and then don’t send them. Is this pathological? I mean, if I send them, and the recipient refuses to respond, that would be worse than if I just didn’t send them, right? Same outcome; less embarrassment. They still won’t respond, but I will still retain the benefit of a doubt. They might think, maybe, that I am clever and nice—as long as I don’t put anything in writing. Right?

The last letter I sent, I rewrote three times. I can never know, but I suspect that at least one of the unsent ones was the best. In fact, I imagine it shines like a diamond, overflows with wit and wisdom, flips cleverness through several somersaults, landing on its feet. On a high wire. Spinning plates. It was good, and long, and…

I didn’t send it. I sent something bland, and moderate. Safe. And there was no reply.

If correspondence is to be worthwhile, it needs to be dangerous, reckless, spontaneous. Stained. If I am to create a letter, it must be improbable, unexpected (even by me) and surprisingly revelatory to both the one I address and me.

I am however convinced of several things:

  • I am dull. If you think so, let me know, I will cross you off my list. I only want pen-pals who have successfully disabused themselves of the notion of my dullness, successful schizophrenics are especially welcome.
  • I am terrified of any kind of human interaction; this includes communication (of course!). Especially communication. Communication is the root of all trauma in my life. Unfortunately, as David Attenborough likes to tell us, primates (including us) are compulsive communicators. Blah, blah, blah. Some of you all do it so effortlessly. As if it were …natural.
  • I am an alien. I do not belong here. I don’t fit in anywhere, and nowhere fits in me. (Yes, there’s been some of that.) That may be why I like typewriters; ostensibly they do not have a place anymore. This is not typed on a ‘manual’ (which by the way could very likely have been called automatic in its day). Electronic fits in. Typesmacking machines employing paper and inky ribbons, they don’t fit in. They make the NSA’s job more difficult. See? I’m an alien.
  • I drink too much coffee, and not enough wine. This applies here only because I only write when I feel, and I seem to feel a little more when I drink wine. Maybe that is when the hall monitor falls asleep allowing the mischievous little boy to run around and be out of control. Blessedly out of control. Coffee keeps the monitor on his toes. That makes the little boy want to cry.

So, I write letters. And I don’t send them. I can write one to you. And I can avoid all the risk of it upsetting you, and making you dislike me, or making you think that I am odd (which I am). I can write you a letter, and pretend to send it, and pretend to be understood, and pretend that it makes you smile. I can pretend that I am on someone’s list to write back to.

I don’t understand why pretending is not better than not pretending. Not pretending is so, so scary.

When they come. Again.

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Remember the post World War II movies which demonized the Nazi bad guys, and glorified (rightly so) the heroic actions of the few who stood up to the Nazi’s, running underground resistance groups and providing escape routes to those who were ‘wanted’ for ‘relocation’? I remember them. I watched from the comfort of my unchallenged 1960’s adolescence, and imagined myself—against all odds—doing the right thing in the midst of grave threats and terror from evil authoritarians all around me. It was clear to me then what would have been the right thing to do during the late 1930’s in Nazi Germany, and I hoped that I would have had the courage to do the right thing had I actually been there. I actually lamented the dullness of my life when I was eight, and how, from that vantage point, I could see no such heroic challenge visible anywhere in my future.

What a failure of imagination!

We are there, now. Except that the current economic meltdown is not being caused by a draconian Versailles Treaty, which is what bankrupted Germany and impoverished her people after WWI and set the stage for the birth and subsequent domination of Hitler’s Third Reich. The significant difference is that ours is an ad hoc economic meltdown, conceived, implemented, and executed solely for the purpose of forcing otherwise unwilling free men and women to subvert their common sense and goodwill to the demonic state in exchange for a pittance of relief from the state’s threats of overwhelming harassment, illegal imprisonment, certain impoverishment, and inevitable death only after unfathomable suffering. Free speech will soon be illegal, and is largely so now. Due process is already severely marginalized in the zeal for imposing extra-judicial consequences for activities which heretofore have never been illegal, like owning a gun, having a baby, or refusing a vaccination.

When they come and do what we know is wrong, we will look the other way again and again until there is nowhere else to look. And then, when we have no choice but to face the truth, it will be too late.

Seek out the wrongdoing now! Confront it before it confronts you. And never look the other way. Never. Do something oppositional—no matter how small—every time you see an injustice, especially when those injustices are perpetrated under color of authority. And after one encounter, the second confrontation is just as difficult, but much more effective. Every moment of standing against what is wrong empowers you, advances freedom, and uplifts the human condition to the benefit of us all, not to mention the power of your example inspiring others to do the same. Eventually, standing up for what is right becomes a thousand times more effective than the first time, and the sooner we get that first confrontation done, the earlier we achieve total effectiveness in resisting the abuse, oppression and tyranny that these injustices are designed to impose.

Morality is the final law, and in times like these our consciences can be our only guide. And these truths are self evident, that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We are the new Greatest Generation, like our fathers and grandfathers in World War II, and the times we live in today presents us with the same great privilege they had—to save the World. Again.

No typing.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

I have eleven typewriters.  

That’s not a brag; that fact is not in the least bit significant compared to some of the champions of typing-machine collectors.   And the eleven are not a particularly impressive selection of machines.   They are unremarkable for the most part, and are a representative slice of those machines which are currently most plentiful and reasonably available.   No achievement there.  

Having eleven machines scattered around my tiny apartment, several with neglected typing stopped in progress, does make me seem—at least to me—crazy.   I am not a writer (even though they are sometimes also crazy).   Despite my fond hopes that I am an undiscovered author, all evidence indicates a fanciful fiction of myself as a writer.   Commonly called a delusion.   Delusions are clinically pathological, but this is not a clinical delusion.   This delusion is benign, which may be its worst feature.   Its lack of any damaging effect enables me to perpetuate it, forever.   A never-ending diversion.   Perfect when you have forgotten long ago what you are avoiding.

This fiction of being a writer is supported in many ways:

  • This haltingly updated blog, and its many incarnations since the 90’s;
  • two periodical articles I wrote and published, also in the 90’s;
  • lots of struggling, imprecise prose hewn out of raw ego by wickedly imposed suffering in front of a typewriter and mercilessly whacked onto paper;
  • and of course my mind, racing about desperately trying to escape something, like a tiny mouse trapped, together with a Maine Coon cat, in a cage.

But mine is a particularly incompetent Maine Coon cat.   She never seems able to catch the mouse, and never puts this shrieking, panicky mind out of its misery.  

So instead, I am touching my computer’s feint and inarticulate keys and not pounding the vigorous and decisive keys on any of the writing machines gathered ’round me.   And much to the same effect—diversion from the mortal fear trapped within me.   Only, at the computer keyboard, there is no satisfying ‘thwack’ with each character.  

I ask myself, isn’t this merely a petulant external display of some perceived suffering within?   And, if that is so, what distinguishes it from authentic art?   What is the difference between my masterfully executed delusion of writing, and any other more laudable creativity?   Has not the smelly, homeless person, begging on the street, achieved a virtuosity in the expression of suffering (or even just in the expression of self-pity, depending on your interpretation)?   Has he not conjured from the very substance of his life an expression of the same mortal terror held within?

That sort of failure to obtain some external media—like clay, or marble, or oil on canvas—and transform it in the act of expression is, I guess, just laziness in art.   But then I would never disagree that I am just a lazy would-be writer, content to let some innate flair for writing languish unattenuated and undeveloped, that lack of artistic achievement an artistic expression in itself.  

Zephyr on the train.

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Just the raw typecast from the train. Will add some notes later. But now, late for work…

Click on the image to resize it.

When I got on the train, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It’s not that I slept–I couldn’t sleep. It’s just that I couldn’t move, or think, or type. Such is the effect of a McDonald’s lunch.

Little Zephyr

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Click on the image to resize it.

Of Parades and Memories

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Memorial Day typecast, on IBM Selectric II.


Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Just typing in the dark, trying to focus on something.   Story of my life.

Analogously, the text I am typing in my browser is light gray on a white background.   The system colors on my laptop are not set up right.   My words appear as whispers in a blizzard.   So, my life.  

Changes allow the possibility of something new.   Tonight, I am uncharacteristically not isolating alone in my house.   A friend asked me last week to accompany him to his house in Maine this weekend.   I have been up here one other time.   He has asked me about a dozen times.   I wanted to say no last week, like the other eleven times.   But this time I said yes.  

I never use my laptop.   At home, it sits on an old disconnected radiator by the door, and acts as a file server.   Sort of.   In a life consisting of blizzard-buried whispers, everything is ‘sort of’, nothing is clear, emphatic, or decisive.   So all of my computers at home sit mostly idle, occupying a DHCP assignment, waiting for… nothing.  

I brought my laptop to Maine, mostly for the novelty of tethering with my new-again Nokia N900; my original N900 stopped having a cellular connection, and for a cell phone, that is fairly essential.   So Nokia generously sent me a new one about two weeks ago, and I wanted to play with it’s tethering capabilities in the wilds downeast.   Also, I was trying to bring some of the isolation with me, a kind of scutum to protect me from all the hazards of socialization (and even though my friend is at least as isolative as me—he is an other—a breach in my life of isolation.)

It’s almost gone, my life.   That’s not being morbid, just telling the truth.   A friend of ours died recently.   He was 51.   Changes may be in order about now.  

At Colin’s funeral we met a host of our friends from our youth.   A real reunion.   Colin would have been proud.   I felt guilty for having such a really good time at a funeral.   But everybody did.   Colin was pleased, I am sure.   I very nearly did not go to his funeral. Just like I very nearly did not come to Maine Friday.   Just like I almost continued writing nothing for yet another thousand days.  

I saw many significants from my formative years.   Some were former lovers.   Some I tried valiantly to make into lovers and failed.   Others just loved me.  

Bill was my best friend growing up.   I just didn’t know it at the time.   Or I did know it, and used other methods (similar to the current laptop-technique) to shield myself from the risks of true intimacy.   Bill is a cop in the town where we grew up.   He is, like, a top cop; he outranks everybody but the Chief.   He should be Chief but he probably doesn’t want it.   Or maybe they do not want him; he has great integrity.   Sometimes integrity is not an asset.  

He was appropriately in uniform, as Colin was a former police officer.   And he was as self-possessed as always, though a little more direct now than when we were first learning how to handle the risks of friendship—he was always taking risks, and I was always avoiding them.  

Bill was one of the ‘others’; a significant from whom I never sought sex, who also never sought me to be anything but his friend.   There were not many like that for me.   In our late teens, Bill was one of a very few males I didn’t target for sex.  

Sex often works as a shield, effectively repelling intimacy in a deft sidestep that bypasses emotional contact in favor of genital games.   It almost always works.   And Bill was certainly not unattractive when I was 17, but it was clear to me then that he would not fall for that old trick.   All I could do to defend myself against his sincere friendship was to pretend I didn’t know how genuine his love for me was.  

I preferred the shallow boys.   I still do.  

I held court at Colin’s funeral, enjoying the attention of those whose attention I had judiciously avoided for thirty years.   (In reality they were simply saying hello, but I prefer my reality grandiose.)   They hadn’t seen me in ages, and probably didn’t expect me to show up.   They were just happy to see me.  

I had always kept the fact that I was gay a secret.   Or so I thought.   But ‘coming out’ is not the equivalent of merely acknowledging that you prefer the same sex, like admitting guilt when the evidence has become overwhelming.   Coming out is, like most truths, a bit of a non-sequitur.   It largely involves going in.   In, toward one’s own heart and soul where dwells your essence, behind the persona and beneath the facades, and there to embrace—without pity, condescension or reservation—your true self, in the acknowledgement that that embrace affirms everything about you, no matter what anyone, even you, might think.   Real coming out transcends intellectual justification.   It cannot be wrong, it can only be right.   No matter who you are, or what you have done, or what you might be likely to do.  

I’m not sure I have ever really ‘come out’.   At least, not like that.  

At one point at Colin’s funeral, having a conversation with a few old friends including Bill, I mused that they had all known forever that I was gay, long before I dared acknowledge it to anyone.   And without a second’s hesitation, Bill exclaimed, “I know!   And we loved you anyway!”  

Damn.   Bill understood me better when I was 17 than I had any right to hope.   Hell, he understood at 17 things which I am only discovering today, as a result of writing this blog post, right now.   That is probably what scared me then.   It still scares me.   It is called love, a pure and honest love that seeks nothing.   Not the love that includes sex, nor the love that accompanies obligation.   It is the love that comes from an unlimited source, generously, and for no reason other than it is seeks to be given.  

The truth is, the more we want to be loved, or the more desperate our need for love, then the more fervent becomes our hope for something less.   We fear risking the disappointment that love isn’t real, or is far less than we need.   We fear discovering that we have been right about everything, right that we are unlovable, right that we are alone, and right that there is no one for us, ever.   So we hedge our bets and hope for something reasonable—even though ‘reasonable’ cannot ever be enough.  

And it appears I may be only now starting to outgrow that childish fear.  

The truth is, we have been wrong about everything.   Love is real.   It indeed exists for us.   It is everything we need, which is not only everything we ever thought we needed, but infinitely more as well.   There always has been someone for us, and best of all, there always will be someone for us; specifically someone for me, and specifically someone for you.   We just have to get our heads out of our asses so we can see who the hell it is.    

It is all so incredibly unlikely that, even though I have just stated the facts, we may yet manage to ignore the truth, we may deny it, and we still might very possibly run away from it.  

But I think I may be lucky, nonetheless.   Because, as I have just learned, changes allow for the possibility of something completely and entirely new.  

The Nokia Takeover; It’s Not Just About Phones.

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

This is the company that brought cell phones to the Third World.  This is the company from whom I got the most basic cellphone 7 years ago, a phone which continued to surprise me with capabilities which I only expect on a smart phone today.  Tethering.  Nowhere in the marketing material had tethering been mentioned.  And not just tethering via USB, but bluetooth tethering.  Nobody spent any time upselling that feature, but some firmware developer (probably many, and Symbian firmware, no less) had obviously spent a lot of time getting it to work, and work superbly.  Music.  It wasn’t supposed to have a music player, or so I thought.  But it did.  And it sounded amazing.  The best speaker I have ever encountered on cellphone.  Except for the two Nokia’s I’ve had since then.  That cheap little dumbphone was dripping quality out of everywhere.

Nokia built things with a presumption of usability beyond expectations.  All other products I have encountered–certainly true of my experience with cell phones, and overwhelmingly true for all products I have encountered in the American market–never provided more than I expected them to, and almost always less.  That is how manufacturers carve more profit from a sale, by packing as few features into a product as possible while still technically meeting the minimum specs necessary to sell it.  Nokia did more than the minimum.

The Google motto is “Don’t be evil.”   Commendable.  But such a statement would have not made any sense to a company like Nokia.  I don’t believe the possibility of being evil would ever even occur to them.  Only in America is it necessary to admonish against evilness, since it is so often used here for political, financial and personal gains.  But that is not so in Finland.  Theirs is a humane society.  For no reason other than it is good; for people it is good.

No one seems to grasp the implications of this takeover of Nokia by the evil empire.  Or maybe they are smart, and just keep their mouths shut about it.  But I don’t really think Microsoft went to Espoo because they want a place to peddle Windows Phone.  I also don’t think they have not been vying for this takeover for years.  In fact, I would venture to guess that some very big money in this country has been maneuvering for a very long time to destabilize Nokia, both internally and externally, probably through manipulation of various investment channels, and other methods we just do not want to think about.  The best cover for evil deeds is the reluctance of good people to contemplate the depths to which evil people will stoop.  Sadly, nothing would surprise me.

Nokia is not precious to Microsoft for its failing, misguided, start-and-stop software strategies.  I don’t even think that Microsoft is the primary player here.  They are a more than willing player to be sure.  But something tells me there are bigger things moving Microsoft.  And probably bigger money than even Microsoft has.  What is precious about Nokia is something other than phones.  It has a global presence that any power broker would envy.  Microsoft may shadow Nokia’s presence in many places, but not everywhere.  And nowhere with the depth and expertise of Nokia’s global presence.  In one fell swoop they have doubled–nay, tripled–their influence on this planet.  But this is only supposed to be about finding a home for Windows Phone, right? 

Nokia is not restricted to the manufacture of handsets either.  They have hardware and assets extant in some very significant areas, like telecommunications equipment deployed throughout the nations of the Middle-East, specifically, telecommunications monitoring equipment.  Racks and racks of bugging hardware, for every regime that could afford the best.  Not what the “connecting people” company wanted you to know about.  But they have it.  Or they had it.  Now Microsoft has it.  Or rather, the US has it.  Precious.  Well worth everything I suspect they have invested in this takeover.  Certainly such a prize would justify years of planning, extensive subterfuge, and industrial espionage on a scale unheard of before; all of this and then some to have unfettered direct access to all the intelligence one’s black heart could desire.

And none of this even addresses the value of having access to every single Nokia cellphone all over the planet.  That’s almost all of them, Androids notwithstanding.  Beyond priceless.

Sound crazy?  It is.  And don’t believe a word of it.  Because you are not supposed to.  But it does possibly explain some things.  Why else would one turkey want to takeover another turkey?  And it inspires some very unpleasant dreams.

But this is only supposed to be about Windows Phone, right?  Right.  Go back to sleep.  It was just a bad dream.

I’d overlook his dying, if only he’d stay.

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Then he became just a memory once again, like a photograph tacked on that cluttered bulletin board in the back-hallway of my mind. “I’ll see you soon,” I said, and kissed the paper face.

He returned to me in a dream. He was alone driving a big car, and he was being playful. He made the car bend as he drove past so he could get a better look at me. In dreams anything can happen. He waved. He was always the first one to wave. I really liked that about him, he never let people just pass, un-acknowledged. He would always engage people he met with a wink or a nod. Or an affair.

Bobby made the pliable car do a side-step up onto the curb. He made a show of looking at me in the mirror. Then he climbed around inside the car like an unrestrained child, and hung out of a side window to wave at me some more, and smile.

His driving used to make me anxious; while his attention was on every detail of me, my attention was on every detail of the road, as if it mattered. I was always nervous and he was always reckless. And now I wish I stayed with him for the rest of the trip. He was small, and had a childlike frame, yet he was 28. I liked that. Also, he had a huge dick, so big it seemed to belong on a much bigger body, and I liked that, too. Bobby had long hair and looked like Rod Stewart, only Bobby was cute.

Of course in this dream he wasn’t just waving and driving on; he was out of the car and running back to say hello, and maybe give a hug and a kiss. Certainly a touch.

Another car stopped to say hello. It was Jay trying to interrupt with greetings profuse, only I postponed him. After all, I could see Jay whenever I wanted, but Bobby died a year ago. I kept my attention on Bobby.

I thought about saying, “You’re supposed to be dead!” But like most things I think about saying, it just didn’t come out. “Where were you?” is gently what came out. I meant where was he before he died; we never finished our affair and he never said goodbye. I was feeling some regret and maybe anger; mostly love. He just smiled that little-boy smile of his, and shrugged his shoulders. I didn’t ask again. I’d overlook his dying, if only he’d stay.

We strolled, me and my dead young lover, while Jay hovered nearby, patiently alive. We talked about nothing; it was just a visit. And when I realized he wasn’t really back, he became a photograph. “I’ll see you soon.” I kissed the paper face.

From an old posting, life.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Tell me a story and make it quick. I cannot hang on much longer. Tell me a story to lift me away, to make wings of my leaden limbs, and to make, of my stinging tears, a single trembling summer star. Oh give me, please, a sentinel of love; a guide for this poor heart to find its home, a light to lead the lover out of hate and call the tender out from hiding behind the rocks and thorns. Under such a star—on a beach, perhaps, or even just outside a rowdy bar—lightly touch my lips again, as you once did, with a given kiss, not stolen, and this time I will not run away. Let me finally see the joy for which I came so far.


Maybe it is time to review this beast.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

I used to use a calendar.  Now I use an N900.

As part of the excitement of getting the N900, way back in February 2010, I discovered that had a very cool online calendar feature; or maybe I discovered that in May, after I resumed using my beloved E71, rebounding from the initial heartbreak of the N900.  In any case, on returning to the N900–the un-recovered abuse victim inevitably returns to the abuser–I discovered that does not sync with the N900.  !  Well, nevermind, thought I, we will make do.  Except then there is this other issue with the so-called complex recurring entries in the calendar.  Don’t look here for detail on how to remedy that issue.  Come here only to abandon hope. 

In a nutshell, let’s say someone wants to enter all their regular work shifts as recurring entries, but then wants to change one–only one–of those future entries, for a day off let’s say.  Not on the N900.  Can’t be done.  Recurring entries can only exist on the N900 if they are all identical.  Welcome to my nightmare.  And if you want something as exotic as editing each day as it passes to keep a record of events (like, to record the actual hours that you worked?) give up.  There are alternatives; for example you could enter everything individually.  One.  By.  One.  But the best workaround I found was just going back to my E71. 

The failure of the calendar on the N900 is so dismal–it wouldn’t even pass muster as a programming project for school–that it overshadows some of the device’s other failures.  No MMS (except via the hack of fMMS, which does work, I guess, but only after tons of tweaking and arcane configuration, and even then never works in an integrated way with the phone).  Or spluttering MfE (Mail for Exchange) performance.  I got it to work.  A couple times.  And only for calendar synchronization.  And when MfE did work, it wasn’t of much use.  I’m not sure if this is because a synchronized crippled calendar, is still a crippled calendar, or because MfE sync with Google is unreliable; apparently Google chooses to work poorly with Open Source products.  (Unless they are Open Source in name only, like Android.)  😉

The camera is good.  The camera software is not.  This may change with the now-extant PR1.3 upgrade, but that appears unlikely from early reports from those who have succeeded in upgrading–I can’t upgrade right now, but we’ll get to that.  The hardware for the camera, and for the whole phone for that matter, is really very good.  The software chooses to focus using the entire frame, which is good for some types of pictures, but not for all, and makes it almost unusable for macros (for which the phone has a specific setting).  For macros the software should reduce the focus area to the center of the frame only–in fact it should do this for all images, since that would work as well for landscapes as for close-ups, and the N900 team does seem to have a deep aversion for making such things selectable. 

Also, the camera software tries too hard with dark images; it over-amplifies dark pixels, creating low-light images that are very noisy.  This works if you want to record your trip (the drug-induced kind) but only if you see a purple haze when the lights go down.  It doesn’t do rainbows or kaleidoscopes.  Only purple haze. 

One other small complaint with the camera software.  When a picture is taken, the phone allows you to share it right from the camera app.  Unless you close the lens cover.  And when I want to share a picture, I stop treating the phone like a camera (taking care not to smudge–or heaven forbid! scratch–the lens) and I start treating the phone like a keyboard, since I am going to type some things about the photo I want to share.  Holding the phone like a keyboard, but not touching the camera lens, are mutually unlikely, if not exclusive.  So when I start to type, I close the lens cover.  But then the camera app closes, taking with it that intended-to-be-convenient feature of sharing right from the camera app!  Jeesh. 

I keep the E71 close.  One of these days I am going to fling the N900 with great vigor against a hard surface.  I won’t enjoy seeing it in pieces (though that will be interesting).  And I won’t be happy to lose its lovely screen, along with its sometimes-fabulous camera.  But then I can start keeping an accurate calendar again.  One thing the N900 has taught me though; I don’t really need an accurate calendar.  It has also taught me that I don’t really need it or the E71. 

I almost forgot.  I did mention the PR1.3 upgrade.  Which I can’t get. 

One of the things I do really like about the N900 is my ability to interact with it through Linux-based programs, like ssh and sftp.  One thing which unlocked Nokia devices have always been good about is not corralling you into a limited feature set; they have always allowed wide latitude in accessing their devices’ many capabilities, most of those capabilities under-promoted.  Or not promoted at all, like the streaming radio app on the E71.  I don’t think Nokia ever promoted it.  And it was separate from the media player, a detail which made it possible to listen to the local police radio stream, while simultaneously listening to The Doors.  But I digress. 

I often ssh into the N900, which is more preferable than using the onerous Application Manager on the phone.  And, it seems, different at times.  The AppManager will often not tell me of upgrades which are available via “apt-get upgrade”.  And using apt-get tells me more on the command line.  I sometimes need to know the things apt-get tells me because Nokia has chosen with the N900 to keep the most useful apps in the extras-devel repository.  I know all the very cautious reasons for this, and all the horror stories of all the bricks (that from some dire reports seem to be raining down on us) as a result of people recklessly enabling extras-devel.  My point is that Nokia could themselves have developed some of these essential programs instead of leaving them for independent developers to produce, sometimes poorly, and always slowly.  As a result, most of the people pursuing the promise that the N900 holds, will inevitably enable the extras-devel (and the -testing) repositories. 

This has had a side effect, at least in my experience.  AppManager knew nothing of yesterday’s PR1.3 release, and still knows nothing of it today.  Apt-get however told a very different story, and led me along a very different path, the painful details of which I will omit here.  I discovered that apt-get will fail to do a dist-upgrade on my phone with the extras-devel repository enabled.  It will not fail if extras-devel is disabled.  But there is no upgrade available right now on my phone via apt-get dist-upgrade!  What is interesting, however, is that yesterday, when everyone else was “upgrading flawlessly”, my phone did a HUGE regular upgrade (a plain “apt-get upgrade” not “dist-upgrade”), and by huge I mean close to if not over a thousand packages upgraded.  As far as I can tell, my phone now has all of the meager improvements that PR1.3 offers, yet my “About Product” applet in Settings manager still says, “version 10.2010.19-1.002,” which is the PR1.2 version. 

But this is all speculation.  For all I know, if I ever get it, the PR1.3 upgrade may make of my N900 the perfect companion for which I have always pined.  Ha!  I just can’t get the upgrade because I made the phone do (by enabling extras-devel and -testing) what they promised it would do when I bought it.  😐

So that is my story with the N900.  I love it and I hate it.  I am not sure I even want to be bothered with tracking down why it won’t “oficially” upgrade.  That is just another example of the tedious arabesque odysseys this phone forces me to take all the time.  I do so miss the completeness of the non-touch Symbian operating system.  The N900 was the best thing that ever happened to my E71. 

But I do like the camera.  Kinda.  I’m going to go take some drugs now.