Friday, October 28, 2005

Be Careful What You Search For, You Just Might Catch It

"Although users are constantly being told not to open attachments from unknown sources, some are likely to ignore these warnings because of their interest in the epidemic and potential threat to their own lives."
- from "Bird flue brings on PC virus," by John Blau.

The H5N1, avian flu, virus is no longer just an organic threat. Computer virus hackers coded e-mails with a new Trojan Horse virus with a subject line about the bird flu sweeping Asia and Eastern Europe.

Some pundits consider the media is responsible for starting a global panic. Maybe that panic has caused this new internet virus. Maybe people just like playing God to tear down our false plasma idols.

No amount of Homeland Security color spending can prevent natural disasters and pandemics. Preparation for before and after, can be and has been a stitch in this administration's side since Katrina hit nearly two months ago, followed by Rita and Wilma. We can't blaim the administration for this new computer virus outbreak, it's as good a time as any to start blaming the media again.

Alt+Tab Personality

I talk to myself. I like the sound of my voice from between my own ears. It's articulate and, unlike, actual speech, I can stop mid-sentence because I haven't through through the ending. Instead of tucking my tongue between my jaws and silencing my raspy voice, I can re-start and edit as I go an infinite number of times so long as I don't trip over a sidewalk or my perfectionist OCD - a mental hurdle that projects itself every time I try to sit down and write. Just because no one reads these is no reason for the hurdles to shorten.

Typing my thoughts on-screen is different from talking myself through LOST end-game scenarios: these are complete sentences. At least, most are. I do like to mix grammatical rules in with my morning hot oatmeal.

I focus on each word, most I leave alone because I just want to finish, and each sound around me. The clacking of the keys louder, even, than the Internet radio I always have playing like a soundtrack. This writing life is not unlike a 2-hour drama. Only, I'm no hero and must hear music rather than wait for an afterlife screening with music mixed in.

I'm typing these teeth out of my head in my FeedDemon screen. I have the links I want to include on the left, the blogger post screen taking up two-thirds of the screen on the right and numerous windows open in the background where only my attention can lose itself...a window for my Outlook Express, my Internet radio station, and my MySpace backdoor just in case I need to step outside after dark when all the world sleeps. An unemployed, college graduate in Journalism and English, Blogspot is where I work; MySpace is where I hang-out when I'm not working. (If I were collecting unemployment, I wouldn't say this, but since I'm not, I admit I lounge-around more than I work.)

I do blog on my MySpace profile. Usually, I blog there more often that I do here. The atmospheric difference is writing in a small-town coffee shop and writing behind a cubicle in a skyscraper. My "friends" are a click away and I'm not buried so deep in responsibility that I hunch to not be seen reading my e-mail. No, I am not getting paid for any of this.

Blogging is not my life just as an Internet RPG is not the life of a gamer. But, it is a lifestyle. It is a subculture of blending work and entertainment ideals. The Internet with its blogging and social "communities" is very much 1984's "Big Brother." We're still a few years away from innocents monitoring innocents and "Thought Police," but where mysterious disappearences still lie within Sci-Fi paperback covers, little is secret any longer. Just, now, we're leaving ourelves open, assuming our own life stories aren't being read and comfortable naievity opens us up further.

Why then, am I concerned with complete sentences and poetic grammar? Some secrets are best left unwritten; some are best re-written thousands of times and never published, I guess.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My iTunes Dependency

What I read is the stove and the dial-turning fingers. Music is not my fire; it is the stew in which I simmer. Lately, I've been a masochistic assortment of how we are all fucked - damaged goods, dog-eared and smoke-stained pages. To some these little defects are stories we tell our mirror personalities while we stand drunk, holding onto the bathroom counter waiting for our body to expunge itself of our liquid depressions. The prom date crying in the bathroom 20 years later.

The books remind me of this universal human suffering. Mixed with alcohol and iTunes, I type night after night chasing my own demons further into a forrest I cannot say for sure ever ends. From a rock atop a mountain, forrests are wonders best left unexplored - I, unfortunately, happen to like wallowing in the noon-time shadows.

It's depression, the chemical imbalance most Americans "suffer" according to CBS Cares. But, for a third-generation depressant, it's a weakness only if I shy away from it like human interraction. If I turn the music off, I still hear it. So, I update my iTunes regularly and turn it up. When I need to hear a certain apartment building of songs, I expect them to be at the address of this digital filing cabinet. When they are not here, I revert to hard-copy and put a secretarial personality in charge of updating the system.

This constant maintenance and upgrade is how I balace the chemicals. They say playing music for plants helps them grow - I say playing music for a depression keeps it controlled...Shawshank Redemption style.

Monday, October 03, 2005

What About Recreational Restroom Usage?

Yahoo tip-toes around the copyright laws Google belly-flopped into earlier this year, and digital music revenues triple those of 2004 (tell me again how P2P piracy is hurting the music industry). When newspapers stop clogging up the bathroom feux-recliner, it appears, it won't be long before CDs, books, and other hard-copy, physical forms of entertainment find their way lost in city sewers.

Okay, the CD part may be an exaggeration. I can see how rise in the digital music trend has spawned such physical devices as the iPod and other not-so-famous MP3 music boxes, but who listens to music in the bathroom anyway? I know some who focus only on the task-at-hand (eww) while they are in the bathroom, but it's a competitive world, and that daily, 5-minute missed opportunity is going to leave them trailing like the renegade toilet paper spy, hiding out, insconspicuously, on the bottom of their right loafer.

I was never one to take the Sports Pages into the bathroom; the pages are too large and make too much noise, not to mention the physical distraction of keeping the page straight-vertical rather than flopping down like an inverted toco shell. But, since I remember, listening to the voices in my head plan the rest of my day - those tend to echo in enclosed spaces and make for unwanted stall-to-stall conversation - was wasted time that could be better spent reading a magazine article or book chapter that I knew I'd never get around to reading so long as there was a working television, cell phone, or computer at my disposal. So, I set a book or a magazine out somewhere in my bedroom so it was easily located and grabbed when Nature, so unpolitely, called.

(Sometimes, I actually fool myself into believing I need the sit-down break just so I can simultaneously finish a book and cure a bad case of needing to write something but not really in the mood to.)

Maybe this information from Yahoo was intentionally released just after Banned-Book Week as a sort of "don't worry kids, all the books your teachers and parents say you shouldn't be reading will soon be available online, no library card required" supported back-slap. As ideal and revolutionary as that is, what happened to stealing a copy of A Wrinkle in Time from that one teacher that seemed to keep Wal-Mart-like stock of all the books the school library wouldn't carry? You stole the book, then, because it was cool to steal stuff from teachers, but, in truth, she wanted you to steal it becasue she wanted you to read it. Why else do you think the book always magically re-appeared in the following weeks.?

When Yahoo makes the digital library successful, it will be proof, yet again, that the internet might be making things too easy for us. But, it's no fun anymore. There's no risk, so there's no return feeling of accomplishment. When things cease to be fun, you see trends like the tripling of MP3 revenues and have to assume people are either too scared or too lazy to push the envelope on their freedoms. Music piracy is wrong, which is why so many people did it. But, with all the pay-for-music-you-want sites lowering rates, the risk isn't worth possible consequence, and big-business wins again. What about the book industry? It's more meaningful to give your personal dog-eared, marked-up copy of A Wrinkle in Time to someone than to give them a web address where they can scroll through it in black and white themselves. Besides, the battery on my laptop cannot withstand my bathroom adventures.