About evolution.

To me, evolution is a troubling theory. Not because of its theological ramifications, but mostly because of the anthropological repercussions, should it be proven true by a hyper-evolved human being (no, not me, silly).

Think about it for a second – Darwin, after having too many shots of tequila, came up with a theory that says that most “living” things aren’t living at all: in fact, there are only four truly “living” creatures. These are 1) The mosquito, 2) The frog, 3) The monkey, and 4) Most human beings. The mosquito evolved into the frog because it had body issues (bullemia, if I recall correctly) and also because it did nothing but sit around and collect welfare checks and drink Coors Light – or was it sucking the blood out of other beings? Well, that’s neither here nor there. The frog in its turn evolved into the monkey because bananas were on all the high trees and there really was no way for a frog to get a banana without becoming a monkey. The monkey evolved into a human so it could use the internet and not get banana guck between the keyboard keys.

I believe this is still a theory, this evolution thing, even though it’s almost certainly true. Let me ask you a question: have you ever seen an old monkey? Hah! No you haven’t – monkeys evolve into humans over their lifetime and that’s why you’ve never seen an old one.

Further proof is in the four categories of humans that exist on this world. Evolution must be true because there are people that act like the creatures they evolved from:

1) The bloodsucker sits around all day spending his or her welfare check on Coors Light and really bad American cigarettes. They prey off the stronger members of society, and they drink Coors Light. I know, I already said that several times, but I fell strongly the need to justify slapping these sorts of people against your arm really hard until there’s just a bloody smear.

2) There’s always this guy with a really loud muffler by my place trying to pick up chicks. There’s a law in there too: the intelligence of the girl you will pick up is inversely related to the decibel level and size of your muffler. And when I say “muffler”, I mean “muffler”. Go figure. These types are like a frog sitting on a lillypad going “hey watch me puff my neck sac out to gargantuan proportions!” while all the female frogs go “oh wow, like, look at that huge neck sac… it’s so saxy!” Of course, she’s going to look like his neck sac after having all his tadpoles, but no one has the grace to tell her that she’s going to end up sitting on the couch drinking Coor’s Light… no, wait, that creates a recursive devolution circuit and oh dear I just fried my brain.

3) Have you ever noticed that kid that always seems to be on the roof instead of on the floor? Well have you noticed how he still hasn’t grown out of that? Yeah. Funny. It’s my wedding; get out the cake already. Well, this guy acts like a clown until he gets old. Then he turns into a:

4) Human. Capable of using computers and surfing the InterWeb ™ and sending emails to people who are unfortunately suffering through AOL. (I am a “human”.)

But the problem I pose for you is this: what if monkeys decide to stop evolving into humans and instead evolve into computers? What will we do? Computers are clearly superior to humans (except Windows computers, which are superior to a candy bar as long as the candy bar doesn’t have nuts in it, in which case Windows starts crying like a small child that hasn’t been given a candy bar, unless it has nuts in it, in which case it doesn’t care, because it would just throw the nuts out the windows anyways), so what’s to stop a monkey from evolving into a computer?

Think about that for a second. This Darwin fellow, he was a troublemaker.

Dan (Um. Yeah. CAFFIENE!)

About New York: Day 3

Okay, so there’s an entire subway stop devoted just to the Museum of Natural History, right. That should give you a clue to the gigantic size of said museum. It encloses four entire city blocks, and has five floors, one of which is devoted to relieving you of your hard-earned cash. More on that later.

You’ll walk up these enormous steps to get into the building, past gargantuan stone pillars, into a massive rotunda where the poinant words of FDR are carved for time immorial. They’re somewhat trite, but they speak of duty to ones country – something we’ve largely forgotten in the intervening years – and they’re about three stories high.

We payed $13 to get in – even though we really didn’t need to pay anything at all – the securitty guards just let us walk right in withouth actually checking to see if our tickets were valid, much less in existance.

But oh. My. Goodness. What a trip that building was! Brain overload times seven – from the animals to the space “scale of the universe” exhibit to the giant model of a blue whale hanging inside the Marine Animals of the World to the stuffed lions and tigers of the Asian Mammals exhibit.

But the most remarkable exhibit of the day had nothing to do with history – it was the cafeteria in the basement, which exists, I’m pretty sure, to remind people of just how much cheaper it would be to forage for roots and roast small animals on a spit. I bought one lousy cup of coffee and one lousy tasting cup cake and it ran me $5 American. That’s like… $21.66 Canadian, or the price of small car in several South American countries! Then, to add insult to injury , the girl that was cashing people out was so slow that they should have tattooed “Great Glaciers of America” on her forehead so we could at least feel like we were learning something.

But – away from that subject – it’s making me too uptight. Nick and I headed off to Chinatown where all the Asian people of New York city apparently live and don’t venture far from: I remarked to Nick on the first day that we were there that there seemed a lack of them in the rest of the city – but I guess I found out where they all went. We ate at a restaurant called the Lucky Unicorn – which was indeed lucky, though not very much like a unicorn. Nick sort of picked it at random (okay – it was the only sign we could read), and the food was amazing! I had this curry chicken with rice and it was just crazy good – also some Sake, Japanese rice wine, which tastes like regular wine mixed with fish guts and has a bouquet of subtle sweatsocks and spoiled milk. I choked it down by holding my nose and imagining that feet were burning, but all for naught, the flavour haunts me still.

Then we went back to the hostel and crashed – except that I could crash because some moron had decided to turn the air conditioner off. Sleep had escaped me so I sat on the roof in the darkness listening to a troupe of french youths gabbing in their native tongue. This put me in an unfortunately romantic mood which I quickly cured by howling desparately at the moon. Alright I may have made that up.

I went back to my room and rolled into bed. And that was day #3.

Dan (In New York and in a very very very strange mood…)

About New York: Day 2

So here I am. You’re never going to guess where (and if you guessed “New York”, leave. Now). Okay, I’ll tell you. I’m looking at Staten Island from the shores of Manhatten. At least that’s where I think I am.

We haven’t done too much of anything today: to be honest, we’ve really flaked out a lot and just bummed around town (something that involves altogether too much walking imho). Let me tell you – if you’re out of shape and you live in NY, I have no idea how you do it, especially in a heat wave. If you don’t own a car – and why would you? – you have to walk everywhere. And if you don’t walk, you have to take transit, which you also have to walk to. Not to mention that food and just about everything costs an arm and a leg – well, it’s got to be a lot cheaper to be in shape.

You know, I’ve done a lot of walking around Toronto, and I’ve come to realize how different the two cities are and how they feel. First off, there are yellow taxies everywhere here. And I do mean everywhere. Not only are they everywhere but there’s about seven million of them, and they do things that cars are not supposed to be physically able to do.

Second, the city is so dirty! I mean, Toronto’s not exactly Toronto the Clean – but it’s got a few people going around picking up trash, and they do a pretty good job of it. There’s garbage just about everywhere except where I am right now.

Not to mention that the people that work in the brand name restaurants are all, without exception, rude and unprofessional. Every Starbuck’s I’ve been to has treated me like they were doing a favour serving me coffee – not something positive to wash the grande bold down if you know what I mean.

And there’s graffiti everywhere. On every surface you can imagine except near people holding guns.

Which, I might add, there are a lot of. In all the larger subway stations stand armed US guards with very large rifles looking not at all impressed that you’re in their subway station with that knapsack, sucka!

Anyways, apart from all that, the heatwave rolls on like a cannibal devouring a human corpse – and it’s record temperatures here. We walk around drenched in sweat and full of water, something that is quite literally worth its weight in gold around here.

Jazz in the Park is treating us well – it’s full of young people maybe my age or younger, and although some of the staff is rude and obviously want to be working in garbage collection or gas pumping instead of at a hostel, everything works, the people staying there are mostly nice and European, and the free breakfast is a bagel, a piece of fruit, and some tea. Because the coffee machine is broken – me not impressed. I’m almost at the point of going out and buying a personal coffee maker so I can do it myself just for kicks. I mean, morning is not morning without coffee. And morning is not morning while drinking diet coke: I will not turn into my father, washing down my breakfast with a carbonated beverage!

Also, churches in New York are remarkably hard to find – and when you do find them, they’re all about being inclusive of people like, oh, say, homosexuals.

Um, yeah. Keep reading them Bibles, guys.

-Later-

Back on the metro again heading uptown; I have a length of “caution” tape from near Ground Zero wrapped around my arm. It’s a warning to women everywhere. I am a danger to you. Be cautious around me. Not only is my personality contagious, but accidental inflation of your self-esteem, and also random acts of danger may happen when you are near my person. Yes, that’s right. Avoid me! Avoid me!

Oh the sweetness of having an iBook! I may not like Macs very much, and I may have no special respect for Steve Jobs and the reality distortion field, and I may never own an iPod, but this machine is a thing of undeniable beauty and utility: I think that if Nick wouldn’t notice it missing I might “borrow” it for a while. That, however, is as likely to happen as this subway train morphing into a dragon and flying us off on its back into the sunset. That is to say, not very likely.

And to all my friends out there, special or otherwise, hugs and kisses. I love you all and miss you greatly.

About New York: Day 1

So here I am in New York, New York. Yes, over the border in the land of the free and the home of the brave – where the subways are patrolled by men with shiny boots and dull metal guns. But let me begin this story from the beginning.

I left my home on Friday afternoon to find traffic much lighter than usual – I practically sailed all the way to Hamilton where I said goodbye to Kevin even though he wasn’t home (obsessive workaholic!). I would have said goodbye to more people, but hey, I’m not superman. So if I die, let this post be me saying goodbye. If I don’t die, let it be me saying “see you soon”.

I got to Nick’s house and we packed our stuff away in the car – my one tiny little bag and Nick’s three sacks of crap. At that point I was like “you’re not taking that all with you, are you?” and he was like, yeeeaaaaah. So I pretty much told him he was crazy. He pooh-poohed me. I was, however, right – but we’ll get to that later.

We crossed the border at some little tiny bridge. The American border guard was a little brisk, firing off some questions like, “Do you have anything that is going to stay in the trunk?” and we were like, “Just a small amount of uranium, but don’t you worry your pretty little head about that!” So he waved us through.

The I-90 is a very long and scenic highway – I’m sure it would be better in the daytime – and we stayed on it for the longest time. I eventually took over driving for Nick who was looking like he’d just smoked a pound of hash. I hasten to say that Nick had smoked no hash whatsoever, nor has he to my knowledge ever smoked hash. Or pot. Or tea leaves.

I drove all through the night until about 4:00 AM, when stuff started looking like things they weren’t and optical illusions started poking out of any and everywhere. I pulled over into what the Americans so quaintly call a “rest stop” and me and Nick rested.

BUT ONLY FOR TWO HOURS when he decided to wake up with a loud snort and wake me up too. I had a delightfully horrible cup of vending machine coffee which upset my stomach – and then the last leg of the little adventure I call “getting lost all the time on the way to New York. Okay – it wasn’t that bad, but it was bad enough that I can say with all sorts of certainty that Nick is horrible with reading roadsigns, and I am horrible at following directions. Plus those roadsigns in New York are so darn hard to see! I don’t know what they make them out of, but Ontario could teach them a thing or two about what exactly it means to create a visible sign.

So it was that we arrived at the airport where we parked our car (and where I will eventually sell my soul to get it out of hock), took the “AirTrain” to a certain Newark train station, which took us directly into the subways of NY.

From there we proceeded to take every wrong subway in the city – although we finally got it right and arrived at Jazz in the Park with the help of a friendly bum. I mean homeless person. I’m so PC. Oh so PC.

We check in which takes approximately a billion and five minutes while the lone desk clerk is interrupted by about seventeen phone calls. He’s a quiet guy and says only what’s absolutely necessary. He takes our money, gives us an invoice, and tells us to come back at 1:00 PM. Which of course we are more than happy to do; we are going to go warwalking for open hotspots – if you happen to read this before something like Tuesday, you know we found someone with an unprotected wireless network.

About this cold.

Yeah so here I am with a cold. It was there a little yesterday, but today it’s making me sneeze. And if there’s one thing I hate it’s sneezing.

Last night was one of those interesting nights. I got to bed late, met with some old aquaintance, that sort of thing. I’ve also got a computer with a bad graphics card; I want to rip one out of another computer, intall it, boot the baby up in Linux, and try creating my own web server there. Just for fun, mind you, although of course we will be running Apache here one day, such is my hope. There’s a question for the masses – can one run a LAMP box with something like .NET? Would that mean a Mono implimentation?

Dan (Not so much a Linux guru… although he has compiled one or two things in his day.)

About the internet.

There sure is some interesting stuff on the good ole interweb. Yessir. Sure is. Like for instance I went over to one of my friends’ house to find him perched behind his computer reading a pirated copy of the latest Harry Potter novel. Someone had actually taken the book and OCRed the entire thing and distributed the digital copy. I prefer to believe that they didn’t OCR the book itself, because that would be just ridiculous (to do it right you’d probably have to de-bind it), but OCRed some mutant manuscript or maybe just poached JK Rowling’s own copy on a CDR or something.

It’s interesting how much pirated stuff it out there. A-maz-ing. And it brings out an ethical question that has nothing at all to do with the law itself: if I download and watch a movie that I never would have watched otherwise, have I stolen something? After all, if something exists in a digital format that facilitated copying it, how can copying be stealing? It’s a very good question. In fact, in the one I posed before, neither the author nor the producer actually lose any real potential profit, because I would never have seen the movie anyways, and my copying it cost them nothing all. Of course the law – and goodness knows how much the law is in the pockets of the “content producers” – defines copying a copyrighted work as stealing regardless of format.

But let’s try a third way: make your digital works available to me at a price that matches what I’m actually getting. A 750mb DivX or XviD movie isn’t worth the eight bucks I’d pay at the theatre. To me, the entry level price for such a thing would be about $3 or $4. You know what? I’d pay that much money for a movie. I’d probably watch more movies if I could get them for a price like that. It’s not like a movie has the replayability that a music file does.

Just some thoughts.

Dan (Doesn’t like the RIAA, MPAA, and well, screw them.)

About the weekend.

Because I know how you all love hearing about my weekend, this post. Friday I spent at home doing stuff like cleaning up and reading. Saturday morning I woke to find my alarm clock on the blink, having overslept for a few hours. I got a call from Bethany of all people, shouting at me for not going to the outreach carwash. I watched Mr and Mrs Smith – an interesting movie – and then headed off to Hamilton and came back to the house sopping wet. Dried off my clothes while wearing a pair of gargantuan jean shorts with a belt of my own, thank you very much. I was also wearing a shirt. Slept at Nick’s house.

Sunday, I went to church twice and the old age home to sing for the old age people. It went well. Cooled my heels on the front porch of a friend’s house. Ate salsa and chips and Mr Noodles and fries – and I weigh about a thousand pounds right now – and then said goodbye. Tried to steal an entire week’s worth of woman’s suits, but didn’t get away with it. Darn sneaky girls that steal stuff back. Didn’t even get the shoes. Said goodbye again and left. Got gas, got home, hit the hay.

And right now you’re thinking to yourself, “What a boring weekend.” Yep. Boring. Y-A-W-N. Boring boring boring. If I have any more weekends like that my head might explode.

Also, sorry for all the movie references. I swear, I don’t usually watch that many in a weekend. I won’t talk about them ever again. Ever. Until tomorrow.

About this and that.

It’s all about circles. Well, it’s not all about circles. The title of this blog is, after all, something do with getting somewhere, and yeah, I’ve gotten somewhere. Just not far enough. Ever have that feeling? I got it right now.

I was writing in my journal a few minutes ago, jotting down some rather random notes about this and that, and it occured to me that maybe Jesus has won the war, but I keep fighting and losing the same battles over and over again. I may be a more well-rounded person (no, not just my figure) and more mature and able to deal with a whole bunch more situations and more receptive to other people’s thoughts and feeling and more sensitive and less afraid and all sorts of other things that would make this run-on stretch to the moon and back. Those things I may be, but those basic battles against my instincts and my own mind – that’s where it gets tough. Maybe I just haven’t been honest enough with enough people to actually have anyone stand with me and keep me in community and all that. Maybe I haven’t been close enough to God. Whatever the reason, it’s frustrating.

My car is a great example of me. Right now, it’s a mess. But it’s a mess I’m darn sick of. Every time I get into it I’m like, “Wow, any day now I’m just going to clean this thing all the way up!” And tonight I did a little bit of that. But what worries me is the two months I spent looking at it and throwing up a little in the back of my throat. That’s me, right there. I value my car – I do. It gets oil changes when it needs it (mostly) and maintenance and all that pretty stuff. But what if I treat everything I value that way? What happens if one day I get the girl and after the conquest is all over and a new chapter opens things start getting messy and I go, “Wow, any day now, I’m going to make this thing better,” and then wait for a few months until it’s almost too hard to clean it up? That scares me. I scare myself.

Something tells me you’re in the same boat. I mean, this isn’t just me, right? I know a lot of people like that, last minute people and people who are just bad at maintenance. Then again, a lot of those people lead pretty good lives and don’t seem to mess up all that often. Key word: seem. I’ve always been the kid that spills coffee on my face and shirt and just about everything else the very moment before the beautiful woman shows up and looks at me like, “Okay, you’re nice, but learn how to drink already!” I’m the guy that gets the frisbee in the face. I’m the guy that routinely falls down my steps in the wintertime because I ran out of salt again.

On the other hand, Kirk may not like Derek that much these days, but I still like the words:

This day’s been crazy
but everything’s happened on schedule,
from the rain and the cold
to the drink that I spilled on my shirt,
but you knew this day
long before I fell dead in the garden
and you knew this day
long before you made me out of dirt.

About routers.

So at my work we have three wireless-g routers that are locked down and encrypted and all that jazz. Impossible to break into. Usernames changed, a random 13-letter access code WEP encrypted. But there’s always this other router somewhere nearby (we’re in four units of our building) called “DOD” that shows up on my list. It’s a wireless-b router, and the signal is weak. That didn’t stop, today, my father’s laptop from autoconnecting to the router and leaching internet access from it. So I was thinking, if this person doesn’t have some sort of access restriction, I can probably just connect to the firmware using the default password because he hasn’t changed that either, has he? So I try connecting to 192.168.1.1 and lo and behold, the password dialogue! I type “admin” as the password and I am in. I am controlling this man’s firmware. Thankfully, his access to Bell Sympatico is also his email addy, so I’m going to fire him off an email. But first, I think I might do a port scan and see what else is going on there… send some malformed packets and whatnot. Maybe he’s running a 95 or 98 box and I’ll be able to politely ask the computer for its username and password. Or maybe he’s just running as an admin without a password on his XP box.

Okay, I lied. I won’t do any of that. However, I could, and that’s a scary thing. Don’t let people without any technical knowlege broadcast their router info all over, alright? Geez, isn’t this stuff obvious? But that’s my interesting story for the day.

Work has been a bit slower these days, but that didn’t stop me from working some crazy hours last week and getting that crazy cheque this week. Good finances all around! I also happen to be on a financial “diet” where I don’t buy stuff. Any stuff. In fact, I haven’t eaten any expensive junk food in close to two weeks now, opting intead for those inexpensive grocery store foods such as bagels and free pizza from work. It’s good to see the debt shrinking more rapidly.

In other news, I’m going to New York! Yes! Nick and I are going on a road trip to the Big Apple or whatever they call it these days. Hit all the sights, see Ground Zero, drink massive amounts of coffee and generally goof off on his iBook while wardriving or warwalking. Either way. It’s going to be a blast.

About Eccelsiastes

I love this book of the Bible – it’s probably my favorite book ever (which is quite a statement considering what’s going on between those two covers). Ecclesiastes is filled with balanced despair and hope, seemingly random threads of pessimism and optimism, and finally at the climax of it all, an exhortation to follow God while you’re young. After all, the preacher guy already went through all the crap and figured out that it wasn’t a very good plan.

On the other hand, there’s this: “Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time?” Chapter 7:16. I know I’ve probably asked this before, but what exactly is that saying? That’s probably one of the most shocking passages I’ve read in the Bible, ever. If it means what it looks like it means at first glance, it’s basically saying not to go crazy being righteous (because after all you’re going to die anways). Alternately – as the Jews would have you believe – it means don’t try to be more righteous than the Torah itself says. That would be a nice shot in the arm to the Pharisees of days past. Or maybe it means that you shouldn’t invent your own righteousness.

But still, gotta love that book.