After three years, my cell phone has died. I’ve replaced the antenna twice, the antenna cradle once, and the battery once, eking it as long as I could, through a hell of a lot of abuse (I don’t drop my phone, but I wouldn’t say I keep it pristine, either). It’s finally time to get a new one. I’m currently eyeing the Motorola 710. If I could wait another few months, Motorola will be releasing a CDMA capable RAZR V3 towards the end of 2005. Alas, not; the crackling and popping and occasional “echo” laden call, and the gravelly audio randomly that doesn’t go away until it restarts… this, I was able to deal with. But now it can’t even access digital signal anymore. It’s time. Requiescat in pace.

Rather than make a new post when I actually get the new phone, I’ll just update this post.

[UPDATE 7/2/2005:

I went with the Motorola v710, and have been very happy with it thus far. The reception is markedly better than my previous phone, and is giving me signal where I’ve previously had none. I’m annoyed to discover that Verizon crippled the bluetooth functionality, which means if I want a custom ringtone or to offload any pictures or videos(!) I take, I’ll have to use their system($). I’m going to explore non-warranty-voiding hackery to see what I can do to alleviate the situation (I already know of one way, involving a custom firmware update). I’ve already done the necessary modification to iSync to allow me to sync my contacts, and I’ve also played around with the bluetooth headset I picked up along with it. SLICK stuff, I’ve got it playing nicely with both my cellphone AND my desktop, which will tide me over for voice chat until I get up enough gumption to pick up an iSight.

If you are wondering if I have your current contact information, EMAIL or IM ME. Especially for those of you who aren’t local, I’d hate to be passing through your area and then discover I don’t have an up to date phone number or email to contact you with. ]

Stacking Saucers 1

It’s currently 75 degrees and raining large, heavy droplets here in Hanover. I’ve spent a fair amount of time the past few days hanging out here, doing a lot of thinking, and a fair bit of talking along with it. It may not all be coagulated enough to put down in written form, but I’m going to give it a shot, because it’s an important subject. Of course, the subject itself is somewhat amorphous, multifaceted, and subject to interpretation. You could call it living an authentic or genuine life, but I prefer calling it living a passionate life.

As some are aware, I define being a geek as being genuinely interested and engaged by a subject. Theater Geeks, Movie Geeks, Anime Geeks, Book Geeks, these are all valid descriptions, but likewise there are Sports Geeks, Fashion Geeks, Social Geeks (not an oxymoron!), and these are just as valid, though we generally give them other names, like “jock”, “fashion maven”, and “socialite”. It all comes down to the same thing, however: being passionate about a subject and having it interest you so much that you learn all you can about it. It becomes a part of your life. You grok your passion.

Everyone has something that they are passionate about. It can vary wildly, and can even be unexpected to those around you. I’ve met people who are fascinated by the process of sewage treatment and water purification in the same way that I might talk about games. You never know what people are passionate about, and that act of wondering is a way that we can connect with others. A case in point; yesterday, I got to rambling about this topic in front of Collis, and randomly asked the girls at a table nearby what they were passionate about. Once they decided I wasn’t a nut-job (or at least a harmless one), the results were quite fascinating. These were people I’d never spoken with before, and yet when asked to talk about their passions, their eyes lit up and the conversation became animated. That passion for a subject is infectious, it becomes interesting to those around you whether they themselves share that passion or not. This is the power of passion.

That’s all pretty straightforward. Where I get all ranty and foaming at the mouth is the question of what we do with those passions. How many people are we surrounded by who are enthralled by a subject or topic or medium, but is never willing to take the step outside the safety net to actually pursue that as a profession? We go to college because that’s what we’re supposed to do. We get jobs that we hate because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Our passions are naysayed as too difficult, unattainable, unlivable, not just by those around us, but by ourselves, because we’re so afraid of stretching ourselves outside of complacency. For the most of us, the annoyance of living in the box is outweighed by the pain and fear of breaking out, and being who we want to be. If you have a passion for writing, be a writer. Write every damn day. Read other writing, read about writing, write stories, your thoughts, how your day went, that dream you had, a story, a poem, write about writing, write about reading. Live it, breathe it, embrace your passion, and it will embrace you. If you’re worried about it not being good enough or that it’s hard, or that there isn’t enough time in the day or that you want to watch your favorite television show or you want to go to that party, then ask yourself why you’re worried, and DO something about it. Afraid of the quality? WRITE MORE. Want to watch that show? Write about it, make it a project. It’s not just writing, either, it’s ANY passion. If you want to make art, bleed ink and paint. Don’t relegate it to a wistful sigh and a hobby, MAKE ART. If you aren’t pursuing your passions, then you deserve any unhappiness you receive.

If you think that’s unfair, then I have to ask what you’re so afraid of that you would deny your passion, your potential for the delusion of safety. That’s not contentment, and it’s certainly not happiness; it’s complacency. It is one thing to let that which does not matter slide. This is not such a case, however. It matters. It’s your passion, it’s your interest, it’s a part of your LIFE, and to deny it, to relegate it to the sidelines is denying a part of yourself. I do not see how that could be driven by anything but fear, or some form of self-destruction. Complacency is the antithesis of passion. Care to see what complacency and fear do? Here’s a social experiment for you to do: sit on a bench on a street and look at people. Look them in the eye, and see the reactions. It doesn’t matter if you’re well dressed or in rags, angry looking or with a smile on your face, nine times out of ten, the other individual will look away. Some can be explained away by conversations or other distractions, but that sort of ratio is simply too large to argue away. (For the record, out of roughly 100 people I tried this with last night, only 3 actually acknowledged the eye contact, all others looked away. Your mileage may vary.)

What drives that sort of behavior, that shrinking away from the possibility of contact or acknowledgment? My belief is that we shrink away from contact because we are afraid of having our world view shaken, of being stretched beyond the bounds of whatever box we’ve chosen for ourselves. To communicate with others inherently holds the potential of being challenged, and that scares people. We mitigate this as much as we can by surrounding ourselves with the like-minded, in classes, conferences, workplaces, social gatherings. How often do we just stop and ask someone on the street how they’re doing, what they’re interested in? Why not? Are we afraid that we might be judged? Why does it matter if we are? It’s just someone on the street, there is no illusory status lost from a conversation not panning out. It is, at worst, a missed chance at enrichment and engagement. You have not LOST anything. Those who talk to strangers live the fullest lives.


As mentioned in an earlier post, my grandmother passed away on June 17th, 2005. It seems that my grandfather held on for another week, then passed away in his sleep during the night between June 22nd and June 23rd, 2005. While abrupt and unfortunate, it wasn’t entirely unexpected, and it’s a blessing that both were able to go peacefully. I feel privileged to have known them, and will miss them both.

Memorial services will be held on or around July 8th in Lyme, NH.

Daylit Moon

The weather has finally begun to warm back up from the past week of rain and lower temperatures. The wind is calm, and the sun is setting here in Hanover, and I can see the warm evening light illuminating the building across the street from here. Above that building, the moon sits against a bright blue sky, one edge fading out — not yet full, but nearly so. The streets are busy with cars, alumni departing after reunion weekend, and the sidewalks have quieted into their summer slumber, the occasional sleepy stroller meandering from one destination to the next without the purpose and quickstep of the mid-semester streets.

I like it at this time of day, this time of year. It’s quiet and calm and drenched with life all around, muting what little traffic there is. I can hear the birds quieting for the night, singing goodnight to each other in the trees. The Green is emerald, verdant from the recent rains, crossed by sandy pebbled paths creating a patchwork of shapes and contrasts for the eye in the dwindling light.

Does this truly need any context to be placed? Is this not worthwhile on its own, sans personal reflection? Not all moments must be marred by the memories of times past. It need not be spoken to be made apparent. Nor, sometimes, should it.

My Grandmother

Mary Sharples Bowden Olmsted, my grandmother, passed away today. I’ll update more when I have information on where to send condolences and well wishes.

[Update 6/19/2005: The memorial service will be at the church in Lyme on July 8th. There is an organization that will be accepting donations in lieu of flowers, but I’m waiting to get that information.]

[Update 6/28/2005: Donations in lieu of flowers on behalf of Mary Bowden Olmsted should be sent to:
The Utility Club
PO Box 323
Lyme, NH 03768 ]

The Time for Pain has Passed; Now it is Time for Healing

Sitting around at the coffee shop in Bellevue, killing time until I need to go to the airport. The sun is out, it’s 65 degrees, a light breeze is keeping the air fresh, and the leaves on the tree outside are wafting in the wind in a general state of being alive. All in all, not a bad final day in Seattle. It was weird this morning, leaving my keys to the house and Mickey’s car on the kitchen table, and realizing — REALLY realizing — that this was most probably the last time I would be in that house. Our house, the house we bought, the house we owned, the house we lived in. I am a sentimentalist, and perhaps that is why leaving has made such an impact. In either case, it’s left a definite weird vibe this morning.

I was thinking about it all on the drive up to town to drop off the rental car. That’s where the title of this post came from. Whether or not others feel I’ve let all the angst and anguish out, I feel like it’s done, and continuing that path would simply lead to [self]destruction. The time for pain has passed; now it is time for healing. It is time to embrace my feelings, to embrace my memories — the good and the bad, and appreciate each and every moment I can for what it is: an experience unutterably unique and inextricably linked to all other moments in my, or anyone’s life.

I’ve been trying to understand the world around me, and how I fit into it, what my role in the Grand Scheme of Things™ is. I still don’t know. I know that I do not wish to be a cog. I do not want the 9 to 5 life. I don’t want the fucking suburbs. I know that if I’m going to get what I want, I need to get out of my own damn way. I have carried myself as far as introspection can go, and now it’s time to burst out of my shell and take the steps that I have been afraid to make. It is time to truly grok myself.

Last Day in Town

So much to say. Tomorrow evening, I get on a plane and fly back to Vermont. I am looking forward to going home, but at the same time, I’m not sure what’s really going to change beyond the location. My physical state may change, but my mental state I am less sure of. Not that my mental state is all that bad given the circumstances, so much as it is still fixated on the divorce. I’ve tried accepting, I’ve tried letting things slide, but it remains there. It’s like a splinter that you can’t get out; you just have to wait until it leaves on its own.

I moved all my files off Mickey’s computer (which had been formerly mine; we upgraded her to it when we moved out to Seattle) today, then deleted the user account. In the process, I saw things I probably shouldn’t have, and really have no one to blame but myself for looking at. It’s like a train wreck: you know you’re not going to like what you see, but you can’t bring yourself to look away. It left me feeling in a sour funk, so I went up to Bellevue, and discovered that the coffee shop was closed. The owner happened to be there, and he let me hang out for a little while, even gave me a free drink, which was very cool of him. Uri called, and then swung by, and we went to lunch, followed by Episode III (which he had not yet seen, and I’d seen once). I wouldn’t call it the best of the series, but it was CERTAINLY the best of the prequels. By far.

After the movie, I had dinner with Mickey, and I talked to her about the stuff I found, and we managed to get back to a reasonably good spot, which is definitely a nice place to be when I’m leaving the following day. The details are irrelevant, and actually relatively harmless taken in context, but it left me questioning our interaction, and how much of what she had been saying was placation, and how much was reality. Suffice it to say, we’re still talking to each other and parting friends. I wouldn’t say “best” friends, but I hope things can continue to improve over time, and as our comfort grows and pain lessens.

The plan for tomorrow is to pack up the last of my things (shaving kit, toothbrush, stuff like that), drop off the car, and then go do one last coffee. Then I get dropped off, and wait around for my red eye flight back east. Should be jolly good fun: fly out around 10:30pm, arrive in DC (Dulles) shortly before 7am, get on my next plane a little after 8am, and get into Manchester around 9:45am. All in all, that’s less than a 9 hour trip, given the time zone difference, so that’s not too bad. I plan to sleep most of the day, do dinner with the folks, and then go out and see people Tuesday evening. (Yes, that’s a hint. I’ll have been gone for 3 weeks, you can put up with my sorry ass for an evening, eh?)

This used to be a much different post. I started writing it before having dinner with Mickey, and got up to about 3 pages of writing about the details of what happened. I deleted it all and wrote what you see. Sometimes it feels like a really good idea to get it all out there, for commiseration if not validation. Then you realize who you’d hurt in the process, and think better of it. At least, I hope you do.

Holistic Imagery

The title of this post is drawn from a conversation I just had with Dallas, another regular here at the coffee shop. He’s working on something called Form Syntax, which is basically creating a linguistic reference for visual concepts. It’s pretty cool stuff, from what I could see — complex in concept, but the idea is a good one. It was an interesting discussion to say the least, and the best way that I was able to encapsulate the concept is to call it holistic imagery — showing the interconnectedness of form, function, and emotion within design.

Earlier in the day, I went and had lunch with Robert, which was good. We ended up going to this strange little Hawaiian place near his office, which was odd but fun. I hadn’t seen Robert in a while, so it was nice to catch up with him a bit, see what’s new. He’s apparently gotten serious with a ladyfriend, kudos to him on that, and has also picked up a new car (Penny Arcade is doing well). It’s an Audi Quattro convertible, leather interior, climate control, all the bells and whistles (yes, Penny Arcade is doing THAT well), and I was quite envious. When I finally get back into town (who knows when), he told me to look him up and we’d hang out more.

Last night, I discovered to my joy that Muppets Season 1 will be available on DVD August 9th. I have been spreading the gospel ever since. Also, they’re doing a sequel Dark Crystal, and other fun projects, and that makes me happy — it’s always nice to see Hensons doing cool things, though I must say I still miss Jim.

Yesterday was… odd. I ended up not leaving the house all day, and just sat around online, looking at movie trailers and reading comics and chatting. I was feeling pretty isolated, but unable to bring myself to change my situation to fix that. I’m ready to head home (3ish more days, I fly home on Monday, arrive Tuesday), and am mostly just killing time until then. It just feels weird to be where I am, I suppose. Mickey’s coming down tomorrow to move shelves and stuff to the garage to be craigslisted. Then comes the weekend, and we may go do something, or do some more cleaning if needs be. We’re still friends, and even marginally functional, just getting divorced is all.

Yeah, this is a bit of an amalgam post, but such is life sometimes. I’ve been thinking about what steps I want to take this summer, and I think I have a regimen that should work:

  1. Wake up
  2. Go hiking or swimming
  3. lunch
  4. study programming, game design, writing

Dinner onward is variable, depending on what friends and family are doing. But that’s the routine I’d like to get into, and I think it’s a reasonable (and simple) regimen, one that I think I can maintain. By the end of the summer, my goal is to have at least 8 books from my bibliography read and hopefully annotated, and to have a solid grounding in Objective-C and the new features in OS X 10.4, and to be in better shape than I currently am. These three goals are accomplishable and worthwhile towards my goals. Comments, concerns, anyone want to join in?

Sometime Again

Looking around at various “aboriginal” cultures, I’ve noticed something: very few place much emphasis on goodbye, and some don’t even have a word for it. I remember reading in Glory Road (Heinlein), about a tribe the character visits up in Alaska, above the Arctic circle, and that the closest they came to goodbye was “sometime again.” In Hawaiian, hello and goodbye is the same word, “Aloha”.

There’s something to that, I think, something really worthwhile. Our culture is so afraid of letting go, of saying goodbye, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because the concept of goodbye is artificial, something that has grown out of a culture of possession. We say goodbye because we’re giving up the possession of someone’s time or presence. “Goodbye” is separation, it is permanence, it is loss. It completely misses the point that all things are connected, and that nothing, not even death if we’re to believe in an afterlife, is truly gone. It is simply somewhere else, and all things will reconnect in time.

The saying goes that if you stand in one place, the world will pass before you. I think it’s true, in one fashion or another. With the 7 billion people living on this planet parade in front of you? No, and that’s not to mention the animals and plants and assorted life that exists out there, either. It is a matter of interconnectedness, the holism of life, and that ultimately everything will come back around.

I don’t know why exactly I decided to write about all this. I’ve been thinking about it, thinking about the process of saying goodbye to my life as it was, and realizing that my life is still there, it’s just different. Where I go and what I do is still up to me, now more than ever. So why say goodbye? Regardless of whether it is the same, or even similar, that which matters will come back around. Instead of goodbye, “Sometime Again.”