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I'm fascinated by all things self-referential and self-recursive, but especially the self-referencing ilk because they're paradoxical while at the same time conceptually small enough to fit inside your brain and conducive to your mind spinning them around in mindspace for examination. Take, for example, Tigger's song from Winnie the Pooh:

The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Way to go, Milne - you introduced me to the awe-inspiring concept of the self-referencing statement at an early age.
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is I'm the only one!
Yes, I'm the only one!
Well, Tigger, you may revel in your unfathomable uniqueness as a six year-old, but in another 20 years you'll realize that because you are the only one, there are no female Tiggers and bemoan your singularity. It's not without its advantages, though - you'll never, ever feel ordinary; although I can't be certain, I suspect self-referencing oneself as "ordinary" is one of the most demoralizing acts imaginable, if not utterly self-loathing.

What is the ordinary's purpose in life? It's like being a ceramic floor tile in a large bathroom. You just sort of blend in unnoticed with the other floor tiles, and if you're unlucky, you get grouted in an obscure corner, but if you're really unlucky, you'll find yourself underneath the toilet that never gets cleaned and always overflows.

For the unfathomably unique there's the prospect of being a hot tub, shiny brass faucet or pine green guest towel. Someone like Tigger never questions their purpose in life, for obviously, it is to add spice and variety to the mix, and it's a great way to be unless you're unlucky enough to be the neglected, perpetually overflowing toilet.

Most of the time, though, being a little strange or eccentric is great. You'll find yourself with the most peculiar hobbies. I've cooked steak on the exhaust manifold of my car, made wine from Welch's grape juice and yeast, frozen grasshoppers in the kitchen freezer to revive them later, and made silly putty out of cornstarch. Once I poured lye drain cleaner onto a sheet of aluminum foil, rolled it up like a reefer and dropped it in a bucket of water to make hydrogen gas. Considering how unstable hydrogen is, you can probably figure out how it was put to use. This was my childhood, folks; I got off to an early start.

Growing up out in the country in the middle of nowhere can be pure, hellatious boredom for 18 years unless you find novel ways to keep yourself occupied, which is why the teen smoking and pregnancy rates are so high in Kentucky. There is a stream called Plum Creek across the road from my childhood home, and one summer I convinced my brother and a few neighbors it would be fun to map out the creek and officially name the more prominent features like islands and waterfalls. We actually charted and named all the landmarks for a mile long stretch of Plum Creek.

I took a 10 minute break from writing this post to have happy reflections of my brief stint as a cartographer. Today there's a GPS in my car for driving and Geocaching; I guess some things never change, although technology does. I remember another time when I dug a huge hole in a small field next to the woods behind our house trying to reach the water table... so you can understand my embarrassment when I tell you we lived on top of a large hill and, as any geologist knows, the water table was nowhere inside the hill - I would have had much better luck digging around the creek. Just because someone has an active imagination doesn't necessarily mean they're the smartest cookie in the jar.

Case in point: A recently discovered hobby from which I derive great pleasure is making CD compilations. At first, my CD's were nothing more than the songs selected according to a common theme, but I've taken to making CD covers, too. This hobby is definitely Tigger-esque; there aren't many others out there doing it - we are a proud few. My first cover design is shamelessly hacked; my apologies and thanks to the unknown original designers:

F*CK-IT BUCKET: Front Cover | Back Cover

Track List:
1. Rodgers & Hammerstein: I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair
2. David Sedaris - You Can't Kill the Rooster
3. Sarah Harmer - Coffee Stain
4. Rufus Wainwright - Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
5. Susannah McCorkle - The People That You Never Love
6. Weird Al Yankovic - One More Minute
7. David Sedaris - Diary of a Smoker
8. Bonus Track
9. Elvis Costello & Paul McCartney - You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
10. Skeeter Davis - The End of the World
11. Al Green - How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
12. Roberta Flack - Killing Me Softly (With His Song)
13. Dionne Warwick - I'll Never Fall in Love Again
14. Doris Day - Que Sera Sera
15. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive
The CD title, F*CK-IT BUCKET, was inspired by track 2, David Sedaris' short story "You Can't Kill the Rooster." A "F*ck It Bucket" is a plastic pail filled with jawbreakers and bite-sized candy bars - a short (96KB) sound clip is available to provide some background.

"Dude! What's with that freaky back cover?" you ask? I created F*CK-IT BUCKET this past weekend for a friend going through a breakup because I thought she could really use such a bucket and benefit from its philosophy. Just for effect, and because a few Trick-or-Treaters might knock on my door this evening, I picked up 7 or 8 pounds of candy from the store to fill a large Rubbermaid container (it even had a handle - what a bonus!) and placed the CD under the lid. I filled the bucket with more candy than I could eat in 3 years and still had a bagful for the kiddies. Sometimes you have to get extreme and go over the edge - F*ck It Buckets are solemnly reserved for such occasions.

As for the cover art and musical selections, I reflected on how she described her feelings, stories she told, and what I knew about her. Then I sifted through my collections of Internet clip-art and 2,500 various and sundry MP3's, looking for those that best captured the essence of her emotions, personality, or portrayed an upbeat, positive, forward-thinking attitude. A preference was given to female performers. It was important to select music from her point of view and if a selection was a fit, to use it, even if it wasn't a particular favorite of my own - you won't find me listening to Rodgers & Hammerstein showtunes that often, for example (nor her, for that matter, but oh well...). Some, like "The People You Never Love," are poignant by virtue of a single line that hits home; others, like "Diary of a Smoker," have nothing to do with the situation, but match habits or personality (she smokes). Not to toot my own horn, but I was quite pleased with how it turned out.

Perhaps you're calling my bluff, saying to yourself, "There's gotta be more to this story," or maybe I'm just paranoid you are, because it's true... there is more. I suppose it would be fair to say I'm a hopeless case. If the CD had been about me, I would have included an entirely different mix: Aerosmith's "What It Takes", "There She Goes" by The LA's, "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee, or "I am a Man of Constant Sorrow" from O Brother, Where Art Thou, although I think that last one would be a touch melodramatic.

Steven Tyler asks a profound question as only his lips can - what does it take to let 'em go? How do you shake the sense of having made a fatal mistake, forgive yourself, let go and move on? If the wind refuses to blow, how does the captain turn the sails to leave the harbor? It's like counting the licks to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop - so frustrating!

As for reasons why? Well, frankly, somewhere in me lives persistent, stubborn hope, and that's why I haven't moved on, don't want to move on. Hope comes in two flavors: the kind that gives the courage to keep on going, and the pointless, please-answer-the-clue-phone kind, and I think it's safe to say mine leaves a decidedly clueless flavor in the mouth. A F*ck It Bucket doubtless would have been better received by almost anyone else - someone willing to reciprocate, much less capable of it. Nevertheless, I forge ahead.

On the other hand, my friend has been dealt a blow to her ego, and I know it hurts. The bucket says "you have a friend." It's true - above all, she does.

And so it goes.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/31/2001 @ 20:25 :: [link] ::

A Monster or a Man?
Yo! Yo! Yo! Way down below Where all the little tree plants grow, A man fell in love with some little dove, And when he woke up, the dove was above. He said, "Please, please, baby, please don't go, 'Cause a heartbreak is a deep 'ole hole!" The little dove looked way down below And said, "I'm sorry, babe, but I gotta go."

I wrote that when I was 14, the first poem I wrote and kept. It's a lighthearted little diddly, and the "Yo! Yo! Yo!" leads off as if to say that when reading, only a quick beat will do.

It may be my first poem and it may not be all that "poetic," but brevity and unconventionalness makes it one of my favorites. In 65 words, it tells the painfully familiar story of a relationship that didn't work out, ending as the dove flies away. The aftermath for our friend suddenly awakening to find his love leaving him isn't told - it's left to the reader's imagination. It's not hard to ponder - the theme isn't unique to men who take avian lovers.

Something similar recently happened to a significant friend, and I find it difficult to have an objective opinion. Not that my impressions or feelings matter to anyone but me, but I've been watching this situation for 6 months never knowing what to feel because I can't remove myself from the equation. Anxiously awaiting a time when I could cancel myself out, no press release announcing my official opinion has yet been released - just for the record.

As for my friend, she's hurting. Bit of heartache, some angst and frustration, lot of anger... however you toss words around to describe it, she's in pain. I wished the best for her and thought she had found it, so no sir, I didn't see this one coming. As she talked about it on the phone, her emotional state cycled through nonchalant, melancholy, regretful, confused, angry and sorrowful, then back again.

My own inner dialogue went something like this: "The irony! It wasn't so long ago that I was going through the same emotional montage, a tempest of ever-changing feelings smashing into me like so many waves crashing over a rocky beach. And now the tempest has overcome her." I had no idea what to say, how to convey to her that, yes, I understood what she felt, so I babbled on about many somethings or many others. But yeah, I understood her, and no, I wasn't happy to hear her like this, and no, I didn't think Karma had finally avenged me.

So far, so good, but this is where it gets complex. Before, talking to her was too painful for me, and that was precisely because I thought she had finally found something good for her, therefore meaning I was not. I was toxic to her, and this was something I could admit, but talking to her meant I had to stare the realization in the face, which I couldn't bring myself to do. Yeah, that's my foolish self-pride getting in the way - me bad! me bad! - I freely admit it.

Now I can talk to her and it isn't as painful, and I'm happy about that, but then I consider what happened to her. Am I also happy about that? Honestly, I don't know - that's the part I can't figure out. The truthful answer is probably something along the lines of "yes and no." To have these mixed feelings is completely natural, but which is the greater of the two?

Who is it I see in the mirror, a monster or a man?

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/28/2001 @ 17:19 :: [link] ::

This Post Courtesy of Movable Type

Three hours. That wasn't so bad, and for Great Justice(tm), I added the Weblogs.com XML-RPC Ping hack the authors quickly provided. It would have been nice if I had included a site redesign within the scope of tonight's content management system migration (because I'm still using a Blogger "no-bake weblog" template), but I'm beginning to doubt if the elusive site redesign is ever going to happen.

It's 4:00am and I'm about to go to sleep; let's not dwell on my inadequacies, let's celebrate successes in hopes of pleasant dreams. Blogger, it was fun - you helped me discover my Zen, and for that I will be forever thankful.

Well, I'm spent, and even my nocturnal cat has gone to bed. I think he has the right idea.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/25/2001 @ 04:08 :: [link] ::

Hear ye, hear ye...

Hear ye, hear ye... This weblog is converting to Movable Type - aggressively. That means when you read the next post, rest assured it will be from Moveable Type. No posts until it's done. Start your watches.


:: Bryan Travis :: 10/25/2001 @ 00:44 :: [link] ::


I've said before I'm not the neatest person you'll ever meet, because I'm a victim of my own clutter, although I draw the line at messes capable of supporting their own ecosystems, which is why I don't leave dirty dishes stacked in the sink - messes are okay, but dirty messes stink. I vacuum regularly, too, but only because my allergies require it; specifically, I vacuum because I live in the Ohio Valley, own a cat and am allergic to pollen, mold spores, cat dander and the poop of semi-microscopic arachnids known as dust mites.

I don't always use the vacuum cleaner's hose attachments to clean out every nook and cranny in my abode, especially on the vinyl flooring in the bathrooms and kitchen. That is, I didn't before tonight, because it was this evening I discovered what lurks in unvacuumed and unswept nooks and crannies when the weather outside starts turning cold. Spiders.

Dudes, let's be clear on one thing: I HATE SPIDERS - (but you have to admire the audaciousness of this guy). Not so much hate as fear: this bold jumper held my dragon tree hostage so I couldn't bring it inside during the first frost of autumn - it and the rest of my houseplants spent the night in the marginally warmer garage. A long time ago I even wrote a poem about it. Recently a spider empress shared her own experience. I know, I know, spiders come in all shapes and sizes - believe me, I know - and they have from six to eight eyes. With so much variation in the spiders of the world, is it really possible for me to fear all of them? Yes. Unpredictable, bold jumper spiders? Yes. Big, hairy wolf spiders? Yes. Garden spiders? Yes. Little, harmless spiders that build webs in the windowsill? Yes! Even daddy-longlegs? Yes, even! How is such irrational fear possible? Because it's a phobia, Sherlock, a genuine phobia!!! Spider mites? No - they're not really spiders. Dust mites? No - they're arachnids, but not spiders, thank God - I'm just allergic to their fecal pellets.

As far as I'm aware, arachnophobia is the only phobia I have. I am rather afraid of heights and of becoming a lonely old man, but neither causes the sort of intense panic and terror spiders do. Before I started taking allergy shots again a couple years ago, my allergies would intensify after exposure to an allergen. It was a vicious circle, as each exposure primed my allergies, making them more sensitive for the next exposure. My fear of spiders is much the same. Tonight the fear response was primed after I discovered and disposed of spiders in the nooks and crannies of my home. Then I stepped outside to water my plants and saw two spiders - the first a wolf spider, the second a sac spider. It pays to know your enemy!

The rest of the evening was a massive paranoia attack. While outside, a bit of fluff catches in the wind and tumbles across the porch - that looked like a spider! Did the spider I killed earlier just move? Is the brown speck in the corner of my eye... yes, a spider! And each false alarm intensifies the paranoia nearly as much as a real sighting would. I know that every spider I kill allows another spider to eat more insects and grow larger, but I'm still going to kill them. I know there are a million spiders in an acre of undeveloped land, and that's fine by me, because I won't intrude into their territory; I only ask the same of them in my territory.

However, spiders will always invade our homes when the weather starts to turn cold, and when they do, I have two capable weapons in my arsenal waiting for them, always on the ready to keep the frontline on the other side of the door. My philosophy is it's better to clean guts off the wall than allow a spider to escape alive under a sofa or under a door into a closet.

How can anything with eight legs and six to eight eyes that moves by pumping body fluids into its legs be from this planet? Spiders are not of this earth. They're aliens who arrived here over 400 million years ago in the Devonian Era to harass other arthropods and terrorize the mammals of the future, and they must die, die, die!

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/24/2001 @ 09:04 :: [link] ::

The Musical Fetish Strikes Again: French Accordion Classics

Two weeks ago I was suffering from a craving for Bach's Cantata 140 and extolling the virtues of being geek. This weekend's post is about music, but not geek. Well, not unless you consider accordion music geeky in a negative way, but I'm here to tell you not all accordion music is polka. Our story unfolds...

This evening a friend called to return a bottle of honey borrowed from another friend whom I'm visiting tomorrow. The friend delivered said honey, and as we were sitting outside on the porch and she was getting ready to leave, I looked at her with a serious face and said, "I have a craving for accordion music like you wouldn't believe. I'm going to fire up LimeWire and download some right now." The look on her face was as serious as mine, except her expression was one of pained pity. I might as well have told her I had a terminal illness.

I get that a lot - no one seems to understand me very well. I'm also told it's hard to get a read on what I'm thinking or feeling. Too bad I'm not a card shark, because I'd have one hell of a poker face.

And although she had one hell of a horrified face, she stayed long enough to hear the first downloaded song, laughed and went home. Not surprisingly, the first song was a polka, but a few minutes of searching uncovered a most excellent album of non-Polka accordion music, one of wholesome French accordion goodness: Cafe de Paris: 18 French Accordion Classics. No joke, folks - that's really what it's called. Laugh at the name if you will, but a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, and I'm in love!

I don't think you can be convinced until you hear what I'm talking about. This is a sample of Enivrante. It's positively so "General Foods International Coffees" commercial-ish you'll swear you've been whisked off to a Parisian cafe blanketed in rich espresso aromas with a waiter in a French sailor shirt with red and white horizontal stripes named Jean-luc.

I bet I could score lots of chicks with my very own accordion.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/21/2001 @ 04:22 :: [link] ::

New Respect For My Fellow Corporate Co-workers


Have You Urinated on a Suspected Terrorist Today?

These are too good to miss, and with any luck, they'll absolutely make your day. If your day has been dismal. Maybe. I'm no good at marketing. Well, I think they're incredibly great. So great, in fact, I almost broke my layout standard of no inline graphics in the weblog... but... well, the sanctity of some institutions is unviolable, even by...

Great Pieces of Work Such As This
(Can you spot the pubic hairs? Hint: second picture on the lip)

This was in a men's restroom at my place of employment, folks. Yes, a dark horse rode into in the lackadaisical offices of corporate America on Tuesday, and that great steed was called Creativity! My faith in the indomitable human spirit is restored. Partially. Well, no... mostly restored: the revered urinal prankster combined wacky creativity with attention to fine detail by carefully punching holes in the picture to match those in the rubber mat. That's dedication, folks, because it's hard not to get your hands dirty doing that kind of work. Did I mention he (I assume this was someone of the male persuasion) put a picture in both urinals? That's worth double points!

One of the advantages of being male is that you can aim your urine stream with great precision, kind of like a guided missile. Well, what do you expect from a 4am post? Profundity? Humor in good taste? Get real. I'm going back to bed.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/18/2001 @ 03:54 :: [link] ::

Bona Fide!

A sudden, overwhelming sense of panic overcomes me as I realize what a true geek I am. "He's bona fide!" as the Wharvey-McGill girls might say. Witness this AIM conversation a co-worker and I had as we debated statistical terminology (I'm taylorhurst, and to clarify because I've already been asked, YoExalted1 and I aren't interviewing - we're talking about someone else):

YoExalted1 (21:47:17): the law of averages dude

YoExalted1 (21:47:27): the more you interview the higher your chances

taylorhurst (21:48:17): actually, i think it's just a matter of simple probabilities... if you buy enough lottery tickets, you'll win every week

taylorhurst (21:49:38): doesn't the law of averages explain why there's a bell curve? i think you're starting to spout bullshite in your old age.

or maybe you're a genuine blackbelt now. i dunno.

YoExalted1 (21:50:31): I don't know what you are talking about again

YoExalted1 (21:50:48): the bell curve is a distribution of probabilities

taylorhurst (21:51:21): but the law of averages states values accumulate around a central mean

YoExalted1 (21:51:48): ok

YoExalted1 (21:52:15): the bell curve is a distribution

taylorhurst (21:53:14): and in a unimodal distribution of probabilities forming a bell curve, the mean tends to be near the mode.

Yeah, that's how I enjoy spend my Sunday evenings. Isn't it sad?

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/14/2001 @ 23:17 :: [link] ::

Random Thoughts after a weekend of MBA burnout
  • This shirt is cool, and I wholeheartedly agree with its message. If want to get a Christmas gift for me, but aren't sure what, then might I suggest this shirt, because it is the coolest friggin' thing since dry ice and liquid nitrogen cocktails. M or L, please.

  • Ah, yes... and here's the dwebb joke from an earlier blog post, but now on a shirt. Nice. Not that I'm pro-violence, or anything, but I've always been a proponent of efficient and forceful file system management. ;-)

  • I'm thinking about getting this shirt from Chickenhead. Yum... meat!!!

  • Linux + Billy Mouth Bass = This (and remember, folks, these are not just normal MPEG-1 files, they are VCD ready!!!)

  • An excellent, witty article from The Register (but don't most of their articles have a certain amount of sarcastic wit?) debunking all the urban legend email crap going around after the World Trade Center destruction. That's something I should add to my about page: Pet Peeve #1 - forwarding obvious hoaxes and urban legends without checking their veracity. I have a friend from college who does that all the friggin' time. I wish I could redirect the "Send" button for said friend's Hotmail account to Snopes to encourage checking the facts first. I used to get all frustrated and would write reply-all's with the necessary debunking facts, but judging from the responses I received, several of them were happy being entangled in a world of urban legends and thinking Hillary Clinton was in cahoots with the Black Panthers (incidentally, it was my debunking of the Hillary Clinton/Black Panther urban legend that finally led to an email war and resulted in me not receiving any more militant Christian, ultra-conservative mass mails). Oh well... I guess ignorance really is bliss. After being removed from the religious-militant mailing list, I was only receiving about one-fifth the emails I used to from my friend, so I called it even, gave up my debunking crusades and created an Inbox Rule for the remaining emails, instead.

    Speaking of Inbox Rules, drop me a line if you have a problem with spam email and use Outlook or Outlook Express. Over the past three years, I've created a few Outlook Inbox Rules that are ~90% effective at filtering the insidious stuff so you aren't bothered with it. The rules parse the subject line, body text and email header and move suspected email to a folder called "_Junk" you should review every week or two to check for "real" email and purge the unwanted junk. I'd rather see a few spam messages in my Inbox than miss a few legitimate emails, so I designed the rules with conservative filtering in mind. Outlook can export/import rules as files, and I'd be happy to share what I have... unless you compose that shite, of course, which is why I don't do the simplest thing and post a link.

  • mighty girl - she specializes in reflections on life's subtleties. You have to admire someone who takes the time to peek under the surface in today's fast-paced world. A friend is having her wisdom teeth cut out Monday, which is how I ended up there, as if I have to explain my surfing habits. Apparently, mighty girl's wisdom teeth were removed earlier this month. I had mine removed in 1992, my senior year of high school. I asked if I could keep them, and the oral surgeon gave them to me as I stood up from the chair to leave. So there I was in the waiting room, waiting for my mom to finish her errands and take me home, with a mouthful of bloody gauze and four wisdom teeth in a pill bottle. Keep in mind I wanted to be a physician at the time. I opened the pill bottle, peered inside, couldn't see that well, turned the bottle upside down and dumped the teeth into my palm. You might suspect the surgical attendants would have rinsed them a little better. Maybe they didn't because the general anesthesia wore off as the surgeon was cutting out the last tooth and suturing, and having the patient regain consciousness before the procedure was complete distracted their attention from my excised teeth. Who knows? But the fact of the matter is I was sitting in the waiting room, gum sockets freshly sutured, repacking the gauze every 5 minutes, and looking at my wisdom teeth still moist with blood in the palm of my hand. The cells in the tooth pulp were probably still alive, doing for the very last time whatever it is connective tissue in tooth pulp does, but I wasn't thinking about my dying tooth pulp in the waiting room. I was staring in horror at the bits of spongy bone tissue attached to the roots of my excised teeth; as with the tooth pulp, those bone cells were probably still alive, but I wasn't thinking about their imminent death, either. "Good Lord," I thought, "I've never seen a piece of my skeleton before!" Naturally, my jaw obligingly began to pulse in pain.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/14/2001 @ 21:08 :: [link] ::

felines pictures in shower

I bet that title caught your attention. It certainly caught mine whilst looking through a batch of referral logs last week. That was someone's search query in Google, and let me be the first to say I don't get it.

I don't get it.
All four words are in the August weblog archive, so that part makes sense, but like so many other puzzles in life, the science is the easy part - the human element is what's so hard to figure out. Try for a moment, if you will, to conceptualize what this person was looking for, what they hoped to find, and what they really expected to find. Not even my perverse mind can wrap itself around the intended result, although I could venture guesses.

The first interpretation to come to mind is some form of bestiality. Hmm... considering where this post is quickly going, it just occurred to me it will probably generate more hits for obscure searches than all other material on this website combined. But bestiality is so passe that it can't be allowed to suffice. Perhaps this person is on the SPCA's most wanted list for locking cats in the shower and turning on the showerhead, and the request is indeed innocent - no animal sex is involved. Another possibility is that the use of felines is a metaphor for young women, and though the search query will likely sound bizarre and fringe no matter how we try to explain it away, this is a rational explanation and likely the correct one. When considering the British term for "housecat" is "pussycat," the metaphorical link becomes even more apparent, although there were indeed several animal love links returned when I ran the search.

I could spend the rest of the night coming up with quippy hypotheses seeking to explain what is in all probability no more than a poorly designed query. But I'm not, because it's almost 3:30am, my laundry is nearly finished, I was in class all day, which was also Zehnder's last lecture, I haven't had time to play Gran Turismo 3 or even turn on the PS2 in nearly a month, but more than all these things, I'm just plum tired, as we say in Kentucky. And I need a haircut in the worst way - have to keep the hair looking good while I still have it, you know, because nothing does more for a man's appearance than a well-groomed pompadour.

So it's time to get on with the show, already!

No, I don't plan to post it to Disturbing Search Requests. But what I do plan to do is give my unknown searcher/viewer exactly what she or he was looking for. So here it is, what I thought a hit for this search should return:

felines pictures in shower
(by funtongue scatterplot)


Oh, but wait, there's more: "background of the blackberry cobbler in the 1600's" You think there might be some American Pie overtones here? Oddly enough, mine was the first of two sites returned by Google, and I doubt the restaurant review gave the great cobbler what she/he was looking for, either. Ah, another dissatisfied customer!

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/14/2001 @ 03:53 :: [link] ::

Déjà Vu!

Okay, all you peoples out there, get it up and put your keyboards together for my androgenous blog twin, Billegible. She's getting her own domain! Why, just over a month ago I was trekking out into the brave, new world of domain registration with an announcement of my own. They don't call us twins for nothing, you know. This week I've been thinking about officially changing my name to Brittany or Eunice... you know, for effect. Within the next 12 hours (methinks that's the typical TTL for DNS updates), you'll be able to check out an organized sort of Billegible.

Congratulations, Bill! By damn, that calls for a Guinness!

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/10/2001 @ 23:33 :: [link] ::

St. James Art Show

Ooooo... what a large meal, and even after the latte, I'm sooo sleepy.

My father's birthday was yesterday, October 6, lest you be fooled by the post date since this won't go out until after midnight. I'm so chronically anal and discriminate about my posts that I couldn't write one from start to publish in less than 15 minutes if my life depended on it. Hmmm - peculiar, that. I'm so laid back about running the dishwasher, clearing junk mail from the kitchen table, donating that old loveseat to the Volunteers of America and uncluttering my desk at work. I never considered those tasks critical to serenity. If a foul, horrible odor invaded my kitchen, that would impede my serenity, and I would stop at nothing to hunt it down and attack it at the source. On the other hand, junk mail and magazines can sit on the kitchen table for months, and as long as the bills get moved to a separate stack once a week so they get paid on time, my serenity is not threatened. Junk mail does not a foul odor make. Meals eaten at home are rarely large or complicated enough to require use of the kitchen table. The kitchen has limited usefulness, limited to eating cereal, keeping my Guinness chilled and making latte; it's the least used room in the house.

The point of this exercise was to show I'm so Type A it should come as no surprise that I wonder if I'm OCD (but maybe I'm not), and that you'd never suspect it solely by my physical environment. In fact, my living and work spaces are cluttered precisely because I am so Type A. In the happy little worldview of Bryan, ideas, methods and an uncluttered mind are far more important than all else. Therefore, sorting junk mail and uncluttering my condo and desk at work are relatively unimportant, and my Type A complex generates much frustration and discontent if I do these things daily. It just feels wrong. Something inside me screams it is a waste of time, and that I should be focusing my mind on something that would "really make a difference." The kitchen table is functional. Oh, sure, I put candlesticks and a handcrafted chess set on it for decoration and to remind myself chess is the coolest friggin' game ever conceived and I should play it more often, but the table's first priority is to provide a surface for holding things. So it holds my junk mail until I feel like throwing it away. However, should that offensive odor invade, you'd find me unable to think about anything else and unable to concentrate on the task at hand, be it a case study for grad school, the Discovery Channel or posting to this blog - deodorizing would be priority one.

So, the take home lesson is I fanatically obsess about things which are important to me, which are knowledge, ideas, processes and understanding interactions. All else is extraneous and of little consequence, so if I can tune it out, I neglect it. If I'm unable to tune it out, it's an annoyance, and neutralizing the source of the annoyance becomes a temporary obsession.

Wow, that was relieving! After deconstructing Zehnder not once but twice, I finally pointed the Great Raygun of Deconstruction™ at my own brain and deconstructed myself. Well, I always said I was an eccentric loner, and deconstruction has revealed the reasons why - not only to you, but to me, as well. This sort of soul-searching makes me think it would be wise to abandon searching for a soulmate because I'm just too freakishly eccentric. For the record, I'd like to say this weblog has been an amazing path to self-discovery for me. When shining the flashlight of introspection into the darkness of our mind and soul, what we find is not always pleasant (case in point), but there is nothing in ourselves more powerful than the truth.

Okay! Now that's out of the way, let's go back to my father's birthday, which was October 6. He's 51 years old, which means, as I explained to him, he's turned 17 three times. Ain't that sobering! I've only turned 17 one and a half times. Whenever I get cheeky like that, he's quick to remind me I'll be his age one day. And I counter by saying he'll be 76 when that happens. Though it's endearing and strengthens our bond, this bantering goes nowhere fast.

This year my father's birthday fell in the first full weekend of October, which is the weekend of the St. James Art Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. Dad and a neighbor used to do woodworking and setup a booth. The start of St. James coincided perfectly with the time school dismissed, so I was drafted to help setup the booth every year. I usually had nothing better to do on St. James Saturday, so I was drafted to help out with the booth all day. The show ended early Sunday evening, and I was drafted to help out with the booth all day and tear it down in the evening. From my use of the word "drafted," one might surmise I didn't fancy St. James. Damn rootin-tootin! It always seemed to rain during the show, and the ground was covered with hay so all the pedestrian traffic wouldn't create a muddy mess. The real reason I hated St. James was not so much the long hours as it was the hay, which would throw my allergies and asthma out of whack, especially if it rained and turned chilly, and I would be miserable for the next two or three weeks.

Yeah, I know, cry me a river, but this is my weblog, and I'll cry if I want to.

My dad and our neighbor went to several shows a year in Louisville. I've likened arts and crafts shows to the circus. The circus has two realities, or worlds. The first is the spectators' reality, what goes on in the main tent inside the circus ring. The second reality is the world of the circus performers and the relationships they have with one another, which is completely different from the reality presented to the spectators. There is the same dichotomy at arts and crafts shows; there is the customers' world and the vendors' world. It wasn't long before my dad started seeing some of the same people at various shows and started talking to them. We got to know Shirley and her friend Jill because Dad's booth was next to hers at several shows. Shirley is an emotionally deep person, not in an unstable wishy-washy sense, but in a fully aware sense of her own emotions and those of others. People like me need someone like Shirley in our lives, because they remind us to be aware of our emotional and spiritual selves, but that's getting ahead of the story. When I was a 10 year old kid, she was a fun person to pass the long hours with, and I loved pestering her. She must have found it entertaining in her own way, because I don't remember ever being "sent home" to my own booth. In the years that followed, we began having thought-provoking conversations and discussed religion, emotions, science and philosophy as customers browsed the booths, buying merchandise.

When I went off to college I didn't see Shirley often, and my dad got out of the arts and crafts show scene. I graduated from college four years ago, and saw Shirley once or twice a year during that time. The four of us (Dad, Shirley, Jill and myself) quickly find the "groove," as true friends who are separated do when reunited, and then we went our own ways, although email helps keep in touch. This year has been different for me, though. I saw Shirley in August at the state fair and today at St. James, and the bond feels different... strengthened. Maybe it's because my life is topsy-turvy and in a period of transition, and as a teenager whose life and outlook were always topsy-turvy and changing, her perspective was wise and enlightening for me. Maybe I've realized Shirley wasn't just a childhood friend, but is my friend as an adult, too. Often when we meet a friend from high school or college, we get the sense the friendship was bounded by our common environment (school), but now that the environment is no longer common, the foundation of the friendship is gone, and we reminisce about old times instead of catching up with one another's lives. But when we meet an old friend, establish that same rapport and start talking as if never separated, we know the friend is lifelong. That's how I think of Shirley.

Before I get all teary-eyed, let's move the story along. Not only was it my father's birthday, but after he quit running a booth at St. James and I graduated from college, we made it a tradition to visit Shirley and Jill Sunday afternoon. My dad usually goes on Friday, too, but it's the only time I have to peruse the show and find anything I'd like to buy. At 5pm, we help them tear down. My dad sold wooden bookshelves, cut-outs, chairs, tables and coatracks; these were heavy and required a sturdy, heavy booth to support them. Shirley sells wreaths, small paintings, candles and jewelry, so her booth is much lighter and easier to pack. Tonight four of us finished by 6:30pm. It took three of us until 10:00pm to tear down my dad's booth. Dude, I really hated having our own booth!

After leaving St. James, we celebrated my dad's birthday at Club Grotto, which is another of the unique and eclectic restaurants in Louisville I've been wanting to visit for some time. It was most excellent! In fact, I give it a coveted platinum star because they serve carpaccio as an appetizer; I just love the way it slithers down, and you can imagine my glee as my unsuspecting fellow diners experienced it for the first time! My fondness of carpaccio is a story for another post. We had a bottle of wine, Shirley and Jill had filet mignon, dad had New York strip and I had swordfish. Although I savor carpaccio for its novelty value, I prefer seafood for its health benefits, even if swordfish does contain high levels of mercury. After dinner we were stuffed, but dessert was irresistable. I am a chocolate fiend - the more bitter, the better - and had the chocolate torte. They had carrot cake and key lime pie, then there was coffee for them and latte for me. How we made it out of the restaurant and to the car is anyone's guess...

... which explains the first line of this post and brings us full circle. If you held in there like a true trooper and read the whole thing, my nod of great approval goes out to you. As for me, writing this post and doing miscellaneous chores around the condo in preparation for the upcoming week has kept me awake for four hours, despite that large meal. If I always had something to write about, I'd never sleep. I think it was daVinci who said sleep is a great waste of time. Hear, hear!

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/08/2001 @ 04:00 :: [link] ::

Full Frontal Assault

A Question for the Biochemists and disciples of Neurology amongst you: What do you get when you mix a triple shot latte, 750ml of the mid-grade variety of a popular Belgian ale (Chimay Triple), Jalapeño pretzel "pieces," not a lot of potable water and a late night viewing of Tora! Tora! Tora! in the constitution of a 26 year-old lump of biomass?

Answer: A Denial of Service Attack of immense proportions.

Okay, okay, okay! So I didn't spew my chum - I would never do that at a friend's house - and admit to hyperbole abuse - it wasn't that truly immense, but the honest truth is pings weren't being returned for 8 hours! An undeniably pukka account of the episode would be "core dump occurred shortly before 1:00am, partial system integrity was restored at 9:15am, but normal operation was not resumed until 2:00pm."

I love geek humor. The Information Age is a beautiful thing, a niche, a landscape overflowing with goodness and providing a common ground for geeks everywhere to unite, and I'm not talking people who bite the heads off chickens at the circus, folks. Consider systems design. Computer hardware and operating systems were modeled after the human brain and biological systems, be it intentional or not. Geeks were quick to notice this, and computer jargon assumed equivocal properties as computer concepts were humorously reverse anthropomorphized. Examples include the aforementioned core dump, sharing violation, puns on El Camino Rael in the Silicon Valley, and the Unix command sequence once popular in email and Usenet signatures:

What's this script do?

unzip ; touch ; finger ; mount ; gasp ; yes ; umount ; sleep

Hint for the answer: not everything is computer-oriented. Sometimes you're in a sleeping bag, camping out.

Another one dwebb told me at work yesterday: rm -rf /bin/laden. That's great shite! No wonder I don't keep up with sports. Sports culture is utterly devoid of wit and applicable knowledge, making it a vast wasteland for the true geek, who wonders how their fellow extroverted sensate peers can achieve the inertial states necessary to sit in front of the television for an entire Sunday afternoon flipping between football and auto racing whilst drinking domestic light beer. Trying to solve that mystery won't cause a core dump, but it's certainly worthy of eliciting a segmentation fault.

On to another (ever so slighly) less geeky topic, it's been a Herculean task trying to find Bach's "Cantata Number 140" on GnuTella. All my searches kept coming up with a version by the "Swingle Singers," an a cappella-ish group with a "bum ba da dum dum" style in lieu of the traditional orchestra. Ummm, no. Call me a snobbish purist, but the "fa la la la" and "ba da la la dum dum" was simply too "Deck the Halls" for my tastes. After claiming T3 bandwidth to force LimeWire to connect with 15 other hosts, I was able to find a traditional version only after LimeWire could see 40 TB of the network. Jeez! Doesn't anyone listen to classical music anymore? I don't listen to it that often, either, but classical music is like White Castle's - sometimes you get this unexplainable craving, and thank God they're open all night.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/06/2001 @ 18:36 :: [link] ::

The Blog Twinning Project Pronounces Me Twinned

The Blog Twinning Project says I have a twin: Billegible. The owner is a bit of an enigma. After reading the lion's share of the posts, I'm almost certain the mastermind behind Billegible is female; therefore, "she" will be the third person pronoun of choice hereon out.

Reading further, she self-references herself several times as "Bill." Egads! My sincerest apologies. "He" will be the third person pronoun of choice hereon out.

Winamp is playing Strauss' The Blue Danube. Have you ever noticed the orchestra plays a measure in a high key, then repeats it in a lower key, then in the higher key again? It's the lengthy undulating from high key to low key that made it perfect for the space station docking scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey - the 10 minutes of back and forth keys gradually building to a crescendo make the scene. It's ironic The Blue Danube is playing right now, because you're not going to believe this, folks. I found this SGML comment nestled in Billegible's HTML: <--Home of Billegible and cleavage-->, and this quote in an August 2001 post:

I'll always remember the time when I was saying something about my breasts to a male friend, and he grimaced and said "Bill, you're one of the guys - you're not supposed to have those!".
Now I'm confused. For an encore, Billegible refers to the significant other as "the consort," a decidedly nonsexual term. As The Blue Danube nears the end, it's time to conclude. In light of these various and sundry clue nuggets, there is no appropriate third person pronoun for Billegible, and "my androgenoid twin" will be the appellation of choice hereon out.

All this being said, my blog twin is a fascinating... hmmm... creature, whom is definitely worth visiting.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/05/2001 @ 08:45 :: [link] ::

Do the Needful with Bela Fleck

Someone at work convinced me to check out Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. They mix fusion and bluegrass. "A Celtic Medley" didn't immediately strike me as Celtic - it's alto saxophone, bango and electric bass. Then I heard the subtle Celtic tune from the alto saxophone... oh, duh, it's a medley! What a funky mix. Hey, you know, Bela Fleck and their bluegrass sound isn't ain't half bad. Gid it on, Cletus! Yee-haw! etc, etc, etc.

Random Fact: I know someone named Cletus.
Corollary: This could be because I'm from Kentucky.

Maybe this groovy tunage will help me get to work and "do the needful." That's a phrase the Indian contractors frequently say where I work. Whenever I'm reading email and see "please do the needful" in the closing, it puts a smile on my face and makes my day. *wistful smile*

Okay, there's a whole lotta needful waiting to be done.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/04/2001 @ 22:21 :: [link] ::

All or Nothing

On my other website, Menu del Dia, which simply is funtongue scatterplot sans scatterplot, is the "Infamous Girlfriends Page." It gets more hits than any of the other pages because it's in the search results everytime an amateur porn fan searches for "ex girlfriend picture" on Google. Or, when someone searches for "pictures of Alaska," the more curious surfers can't help clicking the "Infamous Girlfriends" hyperlink.

The point is, however visitors come to my website, a lot of them visit the "Infamous Girlfriends" page, many of them read "The Story of Rachel," a handful send an email, a few of which are to ask why I'm sharing those 12 pages about a breakup with the whole world. They just don't get it, and their befuddlement is understandable. If I had done something pride-worthy, like climbing Mt. Everest or designing a better mousetrap, and created a webpage or two to let everyone know about it, no one would ask why. But telling the world about a time I loved and lost because I had brought it upon myself? Well, that just doesn't make sense. It's not the "interesting fact about yourself" you'd want to use as the theme of your speech at this month's Toastmasters meeting.

A few days ago, the question was raised again, but this time it was on a message group, not an email. The tone of the post wasn't derisive, merely curious and thoughtful, so I wrote a thoughtful response. The most positive outcome of this breakup was a realization of self, largely thanks to rediscovering a love of writing. This weblog was a direct result of those events. If it hadn't been for this weblog and the fondness I've developed for it (or is it an obsession?), there would be no www.funtongue.org and I wouldn't have the inner tranquility I've found with it. The second most positive outcome of the breakup was going back to school for an MBA, and it's fortunate I have this weblog, because the compounded stress from adding school to a full-time job approximately equals the newfound serenity from this weblog and other Zen-ful hobbies I took up over the summer.

I nearly forgot to paste the reply I wrote, the reason for this post:

Subject: Response from "that funtongue guy"

Why does one put a letter in a bottle and cast it into the ocean? Or better yet, why does one write a letter and never send it?

The story of Rachel happened nearly 5 months ago, and though the pain is gone, I'm not going to remove the webpages. It's a part of me, that website is about me - it belongs there. As Erin said, I found it therapeutic. You know... for Zen. And the reason we're so "fascinated" (although I would use "ardent"), or at least my reason, is because the person becomes such a large part of our life over a long period of time. We share our happiest and saddest moments with them. They see us triumph and fail and still accept and love us. I'm not into co-dependency - far from it, I'm fiercely independent, but we come to rely on our significant other for their acceptance and emotional support. If they're suddenly gone one day, we suffer a huge loss and a lot of pain. We all deal with it in our own way.

Like I say on my site, I believe we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. Finding a way to joke about it helps wounds heal. It helps remind me it isn't the end of the world.

And you know what? That's the most important thing I needed to realize, and the only purpose the Rachel pages needed to fulfill.

Be well.
funtongue (Bryan)

I've always remained friends with ex's, and it could have been the same with this one. However, I asked for a time of no communication, which is a first for me. There's usually a separation period after relationships end, but I've never formally asked for one, and somewhere deep inside I knew it wasn't going to be temporary. It's like drawing a line - nay, a trench - in the sand, a point of no return, and then crossing over it. Which is why I don't think I'm going to stay in touch with Rachel. Wow. There's such finality in stating that. It almost seems wrong, but given the circumstances and the way things stand today, the question should be, "Why should I?" I'd like to maintain contact, but if it means continually facing the person who bested me, then it's just too damned awkward - more to the point, it's self-abusive. It's like he's a bright, shining light and I need to stand in the shade if I'm to maintain a friendship with her or I'll get burned. I know she's happier, and I'm happy for her. But isn't it enough to acknowledge my guilt, work through it, accept it and move on? Must I also be constantly reminded of it? I made mistakes, I admitted them, I accepted the consequences of them. But as long as he's around, even casual conversation with her will mean hearing the name when least expected. It reminds me of a quote from ST2: The Wrath of Khan; McCoy made a snide remark to Kirk about his old flame, who retorted, "As a doctor, you of all people should appreciate the danger of re-opening old wounds." This isn't a matter of pride, it's one of self-respect. I'm not the kind of guy who insists everything is black or white. I see the world in shades of gray, but it's a completely different game in this arena. It's all or nothing.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/03/2001 @ 03:18 :: [link] ::

Until Them a Child is Born (Fa La La La La)

Jeff, a friend from work (whom I usually call by his last name, but am calling by his first name here for security reasons because I get the impression he's "wanted"), and his wife had their second baby Monday afternoon. Let's be fair here - his wife actually all the hard work, so bravo for her. He called to say everything went well, but was strangely silent after his newborn daughter's picture appeared on the hospital's website. I copied the webpage for your viewing enjoyment.

Oh, look... she has her father's hands; how adorable - they're learning sign language so early these days! She's going to be just like her daddy.

Congrats, Jeff!

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/03/2001 @ 00:57 :: [link] ::

Web Surfs

I haven't read much news lately, so...

  • Disturbing... note how much he drank first. As if that weren't bad enough: given the drink is opaque, you do realize the most likely way he "found" it, right? Now that this mental image will haunt you for the rest of the day, my mission is accomplished. Thank you.
    by way of 3 Bruces

  • This is the funniest thing I've seen in a while: How To Be a Cyber-Lovah... I wouldn't attempt watching the video on dialup, but the Flash intro by itself is funny enough.
    by way of 3 Bruces

  • Nuclear Blast Mapper - detonate the big one over your home.

  • I'll close with this - FTC Shuts Thousands of Deceptive Web Sites. Free speech or no? I'm not sure, but in this particular case, I say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/02/2001 @ 08:49 :: [link] ::

My Token Rant on Religion and Spirituality

Jerrod describes some of the issues he has with his church. He discusses the intolerance often found in the church, which is a major issue I have with organized religion. It took me years to reverse the thought-shaping I received in my childhood church. By that I mean being told non-Christians, homosexuals, scientists and the like were blasphemous and evil. If you want to play strictly by the rules, a sin is a sin is a sin. If we have all fallen short of the glory of God and if it is by grace alone that we are saved, then debating who is more sinful than who is pointless; it's the pot calling the kettle black, to invoke a cliché for "hypocrisy."

Great. I've done gone off and gotten myself all stirred up, so here we go. This isn't the most convenient time to get into this, but life isn't always convenient... perhaps it will keep me succinct.

Okay, look, folks. I don't think Christianity as a belief system is bad. Quite the contrary. I study Mahayana Buddhism because its moral code is elegantly straightforward, but when I need a context in which to frame my thoughts on supernatural and spiritual matters, I almost always turn to Christianity. My issue is with how people use it:

  • To justify taking human life.
  • To place oneself on a pedestal, and conversely,
  • To denigrate others when they are different from us or we do not understand them.
  • To deny other human beings protection from violence, prejudice and all other forms of endangerment and injustice.
For non-Christians, what follows is an FYI; for Christians, it's a reminder: as the name implies, the mission statement of Christianity is striving to be more like Christ. Whip out your Bibles, folks, and show me where Jesus did one of those bulleted items above. The only time he ever put others in their place is when they got cocky, when they stood on that proverbial pedestal and glorified themselves or made others look something less than human. Jesus accepted others, Jesus loved them despite their shortcomings whether or not they shared his views on God. When I began studying Buddhism, a common theme between Jesus and the primary tenet of Buddhism became immediately apparent: Jesus was all about helping others eliminate needless suffering in their lives.

So, please, when you chose to succumb to the human foibles that occasionally get the best of us all (much like I'm doing now by stereotyping and criticizing "certain Christians"), don't compound the infraction by saying it's in the name of God. If blasphemy is truly "an indignity offered to God in words, writing, or signs" or "the act of claiming the attributes or prerogatives of deity" as Webster claims, then I can find no better examples of it than those above. Be an adult and admit your imperfections.

Well, I think my peace has been spoken. I'm all flustered out. So there. Thanks, Jerrod.

:: Bryan Travis :: 10/01/2001 @ 22:44 :: [link] ::