SKerwin: December 2003 Archives

Sean Is Sick

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And he isn't enjoying it very much.

It appears to be the same cold-ish thing that Dad's had since Christmas.

Updates shall resume once I stop praying for the sweet release of death.

Raw

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Let's be frank, shall we? It's just you and I, Dear Reader. I don't like sharing. It's not something I'm good at, and it's not something I enjoy. All the same, sometimes I need to scream, and this site, such as it is, is the wilderness in which I choose to do so. I try to stifle my screams; I try to use vague language to mask the truth, I try to avoid names. It's not quite as effective as a full-on shout to the heavens, though.

So here it is. No obtuse language, no absurd metaphors. Here's who I am, pure, undiluted Sean. If your browser melts, then so be it.

And as long as I'm in this sort of a mood, whoever the hell is googling "sean kerwin naples" from the Naples Bay area should be aware of two facts: first, that perfect anonymity is impossible so long as I have server logs, and second, that I don't like lurkers.

I was born in New Jersey.

After I was born my parents moved in with my Dad's parents. I called them Grandma and Pop. They're dead now.

Mom and Grandma never seemed to like each other much. I still don't know why. I think they thought I never noticed.

Eventually Mom and Dad built a house for us. It was next door to Grandma and Pop's house. I think Grandma and Pop gave Mom and Dad the land.

There weren't a lot of kids near us. I never met any. They went to public school. I went to private. Mom drove me there every school morning. I think it was about an hour, but I don't remember. I was little.

Grandma was a teacher at a public school. I think it hurt her feelings that I went to private school.

My only friend was Jeff. He started out going to the private school, but then he left. We never talked about why. We stayed friends for a long time. I haven't spoken to Jeff for a long time. Since Grandma died, I think.

In preschool I learned to read. In kindergarten I realized my name was spelled wrong. Sometimes other kids pronounced it wrong on purpose to hurt my feelings. I thought Mom and Dad had played a joke on me.

Mom's father lives in New York City. For a while I called him New York Pop. I think this was Mom's idea. He found out, and now I call him Poppa. It sounds funny to me when I say Poppa. He sends me a check every Christmas.

I used to wonder if Poppa sent the check himself, or if he had somebody who did it for him. One year he forgot to send checks, and now I know.

I never met Mom's mother. She was named Cynthia. She smoked and it killed her. Poppa and she divorced before Mom and Dad got married.

Poppa's wife is Betsy. I don't call her Grandma.

Grandma Lois used to be Poppa's wife until they got divorced. She lives on Long Island. I don't see her often. I call her Grandma. Her husband was Richard. I didn't know him well, but he was funny. He's dead now.

We always had cats. I don't remember Chairman Meow, but I do remember Spot, L.L. Bean, and Putty-Tat. Spot would chase after a stick if you threw it, but she wouldn't bring it back. They're all dead now.

Putty-Tat wasn't our name. Mom got him when her stepfather died. I think his name was Bill Robinson, and I think he married Grandma Cynthia after she and Poppa got divorced. I don't remember ever meeting him.

Pop smoked cigarettes. I think he said once he started in the army. We tried to get him to quit and eventually he did. We were all happy when he stopped.

When I was four my sister was born. Her name is Meaghan. This time I knew the spelling was a mean joke. Her middle name is Cynthia. I think Cynthia is a pretty name.

I remember the morning Meaghan was born. I woke up on the floor that morning. I had fallen out of bed while I slept.

My last teacher at the private school in New Jersey was Ms. Pace. She was really nice and really mean at the same time. She taught us algebra the first year, and geometry the second.

Ms. Pace was married, but she made us call her Miss instead of Missus. I didn't understand why. I still don't.

Mrs. Pace bought mechanical pencils for the entire class because she didn't like pencil sharpeners. I liked mechanical pencils. I still do. They're good pencils.

Eventually we moved to Florida. The town we moved to was called Naples. Mom and Dad bought a house in a place called Victoria Park.

I cried when we left New Jersey. Grandma cried too. Pop didn't cry, but I knew he was sad.

We drove both cars to Florida, with L.L Bean in one car and Putty-Tat in another. Putty-Tat died after we moved.

The new house was smaller than our old house. It was hot.

I went to public school in Florida. I hated it. I felt lost. I made a few friends, but not good ones. I haven't spoken to them since I left.

One day I got into a fight with another kid. He was a lot bigger than me. He punched me in the face and I kneed him in the crotch. We both got punished, even though he had attacked me.

Then I went to see a private school for a day to decide if I wanted to change schools. I liked it a lot. I changed.

One day L.L. Bean diead, and we got two new kittens. They were black and white and we named them Spooky and Snowball. Snowball is dead now. We still have Spooky. He's sick now. He coughs and wheezes a lot. It makes me sad.

The private school was called CSN. I stayed there for the rest of middle school and all of high school.

The kid who was supposed to show me around my first day at CSN was sick, so everybody showed me around. He came back the next day. He's my friend now.

Math class was right after lunch at CSN. We would eat lunch outside the math classroom. We liked math a lot. Sometimes we would play games, like taping people's homework to the ceiling or hiding people pencils. One kid kept hiding my mechanical pencil. He stopped eventually, and now we're friends.

In eighth grade I was on the math team. It was fun. We went to the state competition.

One day in eighth grade I thought I saw an angel. I remember when it happened very well. I try not to think about it, though. I never talk about it. It makes me sad.

One day Mom said that one of her clients from work needed help with his computer. I helped him and he paid me. He told other people, and I helped some of them too. It was a fun job.

When I was in high school I asked a girl I like to a dance once. She said yes. Then I found out I was going to New York for Poppa's birthday party, and that I couldn't go to the dance. I think the girl thought I was playing a joke on her. I try not to think about it.

During high school there was a teacher who played U2 songs during class. He was cool and we all liked him. He taught programming, and later he started to teach us calculus. Then he left the school forever. I still don't know what happened. I'm a little afraid to ask.

During high school Pop got cancer. It was from the smoking. They took out his throat, and he had to hold a machine up to his chin to talk. I couldn't understand what he said. Neither could he. I was sad. He was sad.

Eventually Pop died. It was a heart attack.

We flew home for his funeral. I looked out the window of the plane and tried to see shapes in the clouds, but there weren't any there.

Grandma said that she and Pop had been planning to drive south to see us just before he died. She was sad when she said it. She wasn't thinking. She didn't mean to hurt me.

Grandma gave me Pop's watch. I don't have it anymore. It got ruined in a car accident. I wore it every day until then. Pop's watch was made of steel and had a stretching steel band. I had to wind it every day, but sometimes I forgot.

We went back to Florida. I wished I would die. Sometimes at school I would find a quiet place alone and close my eyes and try not to cry. One time I got to the history classroom early and did this. People started showing up. A friend put her hand on my back and I jerked away. I wish I hadn't.

I was on the math team in high school. I was good at it at first. During my last year I was the president of the math team. I ran against a friend and beat him. He deserved to win. I wished I hadn't run.

One day Grandma had a stroke. We went home to see her. She was still Grandma, but she was different. It made me a little sad. I wondered if it might be better if she had died, and that made me even more sad.

Then Grandma died. I remember riding in the limousine to the cemetery where they were going to bury her. People were making jokes. I wanted to kill them all for telling jokes when Grandma was dead. I wanted to die for laughing at them.

We went home.

I had friends at CSN. I still talk to a lot of them. I thought we were all happy, but I found out later they were just pretending. I found out they weren't really happy later on at a reunion. It made me sad to hear this.

One summer I went to a school up north to take a physics class. Two friends from CSN went too. It was mostly fun.

One time I asked a stupid question. I wish I hadn't asked it.

After high school I went to a school called CMU. I hated it there. I didn't think they were nice to their students. Later on a kid I knew from CSN committed suicide at CMU. I think CMU is a bad place.

I left CMU. I came home.

I was sad for a while, and then I got a job. The job wasn't much fun at first, then it got to be more fun, but then at the end it wasn't fun at all.

Sometimes the job would send me to San Francisco or New York City for shows. I lost my jacket in San Francisco.

One day I was in a car accident. My car was ruined. So was Pop's watch. I think the watch was worth a lot more than the car. I got a new car. I don't wear a watch anymore.

One day I quit the job and went to a new school.

I don't like the new school a lot, but I have a scholarship. It pays tuition. I don't want Mom and Dad to pay for this school, and I haven't let them so far.

They think I won't let them pay because I feel guilty. They think I feel like I wasted their money at CMU. I think I did. But that's not why I won't let them pay.

I won't let them pay because I can't. I need to do this myself. Sometimes they get angry at me because they don't understand. Sometimes I get angry at them because they don't understand.

I have a web page where I write things sometimes. I haven't told anybody about it, and nobody reads it. It's like screaming in the woods.

I feel like screaming a lot, but mostly I don't.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a bad person. I don't want to be.

Sean Explains Buddhism

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As promised:

So this prince named Siddhartha was born, and a fortune teller of some sort prophesied he would be either a powerful king or the saviour of all humanity. Siddhartha's father, being the rather shortsighted type, decided to go with option one and showered his son with material wealth such as royalty typically enjoyed in those great days before there were tabloids.

Because kids basically always end up doing the opposite of what their fathers want (except for that one guy with the long hair), Siddhartha ended up sick to death of all the toys and desired a spiritual life. The problem was, he thought that all the popular religions were silly and so he set out to come up with his own. So he thought for awhile, came up with nothing, and then decided to just rip off the more existential aspects of existing religions and change his name to Buddha, because Siddharthism just doesn't sound very friendly.

Buddha decided that there were four truths governing the world, which are that (1) life sucks, (2) that it sucks because we want stuff, (3) that if we stop wanting stuff it'll stop sucking so hard, and finally that (4) Buddha's 8-step program will make the sucking stop now.

Buddha's 8-step program, which his marketing department wisely insisted he call the Noble Eightfold Path, basically boils down to being nice to each other (a philosophy later supported by that guy with the sandals), but he fleshed that out into eight points because his professor wanted an eight-page paper.

After coming up with all this, Buddha started to seriously put on weight, and eventually passed on at a relatively old age. Afterwards his followers journeyed around the countryside in yellow robes, not really accomplishing anything other than ticking off people they met, until one of them got lucky and converted a king of some sort about two hundred years later. Because kings were really popular in those days, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and converted, and then later some people jumped on a boat and went elsewhere, bringing yellow robes and statues of the morbidly-obese Buddha with them.

There was also some stuff in there about something called karma, which basically means somebody's counting how often you act like an asshole, and transcendence, which basically means that if you ever stop wanting things entirely life will stop sucking entirely but you'll also effectively cease to exist, but you won't mind 'cause your life, such as it is, will totally kick ass. But frankly I don't really understand all that, I'm really stuck way back on the part where the ascetic who condemned indulgence became extremely fat.


And now I think I'm done. I really have no arguments with Judaism (though like Stewie I'm really not a hat person), and making fun of Muslims is like making fun of fish; it's easy as hell, but the fact that they don't seem to care makes it a good deal less satisfying. Then again, fish don't kill you for disagreeing with them, so perhaps I should shut the hell up.

Sean Explains Christianity

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So a long, long, time ago a long-haired man in sandals decided that everybody should be nice to each other. Most people to whom he explained this idea thought it was a pretty interesting idea with a lot going for it, and that it beat the hell out of the current system of being assholes all the time.

Then he decided to commit suicide by pissing off the governing authority, and in doing so he screwed over his best friend Judas, a hapless bureaucrat named Pilate, and (as history turned out) basically his entire religion.

But then his friends who he hadn't messed with decided he was the son of God, so they started a new religion and started building churches on rocks and drawing tiny little fishes on doors, and as time went by there were Popes in Rome and schisms all over and theses nailed to doors and eventually crazy guys claiming native Americans came from Jerusalem.

So now it's 2000 years later, and we celebrate this man by putting shiny crap on plastic trees, pretending that rabbits lay eggs, and putting enormous gold fish logos on the back of our SUVs. And listening to Creed.

Anyway, the point of this is that there was a man, some people believe he was a magic man, but most people agree he was at least a pretty nice man, except for that whole thing where he wanted to die and fucked his friends, and a long time ago he got himself nailed to a tree somehow and for some reason that's important to a whole lot of people.

And this man's name? I forgot.

Coming tomorrow on Neutiquam Erro: Sean explains Buddhism!

Ping

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Every time I see 'ROTK' (The Return of the King) I misread it as 'ROTJ'.

Which gets me even more confused, because 'ROTJ' can be either Return of the Jedi or Return of the Joker, depending on the context (mostly the first though).

This really has no bearing on anything, but as I find myself saying far too often, I hadn't said anything for a while.

Rambling, Singing, Forgetting, Gaming

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I read Penny Arcade every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I check in for non-update posts occasionally in the time between. I know it's amazing that they're able to produce a comic on that schedule, but I also have a hard time appreciating the difficulty because, well, I can't draw. I am, however, able to write, and so the fact that they have a new news post three times a week is an achievement I'm able to appreciate in a slightly-fuller-but-still-not-full fashion.

Which is really a long-winded way of saying that I haven't posted in a few days.

If anybody besides Her Highness (and the three anonymous users I've noted in my logs) ever visited here I might even feel guilty. Instead I just feel lazy.

Something, I might add, to which I am fully accustomed.

Anyway.

Simon and Garfunkel are probably the most rocking sexagenarians (it sounds dirty, but it's not) around. The immediate family went to a the recent concert in Sunrise (at the peculiarly-named Office Depot Center) and I was quite impressed. The concert featured a 'surprise' appearance by the Everly brothers, who are also remarkably well-preserved.

Really, the only disappointment is that they never played Kodachrome, but I guess I really have no right to expect something from Simon's solo years to show up at a reunion tour. Ah well.

CSN reunion last night. As was the case during the time I actually attended the school, I only recognized a fraction of those present. A fraction with a denominator rather significantly larger than its numerator, I must add. Noticed something odd today, though; with a single exception, all my friends from HS have four-letter appellations available (I say available because C_ was originally introduced to me under quadra-charactered nomenclature - it's a long story).

Went back to Casa Del P_ later for Catan and videogames. I won my first game of Catan ever.

Happy dance!

Is HeretiCorp Hiring?

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So I'm back to being a freelance bum.

It's just as well, I was planning on quitting Wednesday anyway. I'll admit to being a bit miffed about not being able to resign, though.

In my view, if you hire someone to do X, then they should mostly be doing X. None of this hey-let's-call-him-an-engineer-and-then-make-him-a-fucking-courier crap. Not that I'm bitter.

Small Victory, Mildly Pyrrhic

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Just played some CSS games. Current site status:

  • Readable with Safari, Mozilla, IE5 Mac
  • Unreadable in IE6 Win (content area underlaps sidebar)
  • Dark sigil appears on Safari, Mozilla, IE6 Win
  • Light sigil appears on Safari, Mozilla, IE5 Mac, IE6 Win

So I've got things working perfectly in Safari and Mozilla, nearly perfectly in IE5 Mac, and horribly in IE6 Win. Ironically, the change that fixed IE5 Mac is what broke IE6 Win.

I'm getting really sick of Microsoft.

Sad note: Apparently Safari won't animate background GIFs. I can understand the decision, but it's still disappointing. Switch temporarily to another browser if you want to marvel at the splendour of my flickering Christmas lights. Or I guess you could just view them directly. They look better in context, though.

So at the moment, only Mozilla is rendering everything correctly. Rah-rah open source, I suppose.

A Brief History...

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...of something funny but not too useful.

So Her Highness was initially a bit miffed about the Carthage line at the end of my earlier post. Her reasoning was that I was saying something about her that she didn't understand, and thus it was likely an insult. Sharp girl, n'est pas?

The real story is as follows: for a variety of reasons, far beyond the scope of this blurb, a number of Romans felt a great deal of hostility towards Carthage in the period around 200 BC. The hostility actually extended quite a ways on either side of 200 BC, but it's around 200 BC that's important here.

Right around the time period in question, Cato the Elder was a Roman statesman, a senator I think, who held a particular grudge against Carthage. And so, to ensure the issue wouldn't be forgotten, he would end every speech by saying, "ceterum censeo Carthago delenda est". Which, loosely translated, means, "and furthermore, I think that Carthage should be destroyed".

Or more literally, "and furthermore, I think Carthage is {fated / destined / required / needed} to be destroyed". It's almost a sort of fulfilling-fate, doing-the-gods'-will sort of tone.

It's kind-a like the French exiger in that the concept is very clear, very simple, and very nearly impossible to cleanly translate to English.

Anyway, Cato would always end his speeches with this. He could be talking about foreign affairs or simply leading a toast - it didn't matter to him. So it makes a good funny ending to long rants that may seem too serious. It's kind-a like saying 'Burma Shave' after a particularly dreadful piece of poetry. Not that I imagine a whole lot of people will be getting that reference either.

Anyway, now that you know, go use it in a history paper. If your teacher gets the reference, s/he will be pretty bloody impressed.

Doesn't Take Much

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(Sung to a Conga beat)
Sean is get-ting Zel-da!
Sean is get-ting Zel-da!
Sean is get-ting Zel-da!

Having successfully spent way too much money on Nintendo products, my inconspicuous consumption will shortly (~2 weeks) be rewarded with the greatest of all possible treasures: Zelda: Collector's Edition.

And Sean said, "I gots to get my Zelda on". And Sean visited the site, and Sean entered the various codes. And Sean saw that it was good.

Then Sean said, "come on, come one, come on!" And Sean knew he must now play the waiting game. And it was so.

And Sean did play the waiting game, and then Sean said, "oh, the waiting game sucks!" And Sean did play Hungry Hungry Hippoes. And Sean saw that it was good.

But then his email did Sean check, and there the confirmation message he did see. And Sean said, "this is great!" And it was so.

And-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after-the-end.

People who go to college are mostly idiots. They sleep through classes. They buy books and don't read them, fail tests, and learn nothing. The only sleep they get is after passing out. They drink anything that might cause brain damage. They smoke anything flammable. Their lungs look like a charcoal grill. They are infested with a variety of transmissible diseases. They never quit bitching. They are dangerously codependent. They don't know when a joke has gone too far. They take and they take and they take without giving, but nobody minds because nobody's paying any attention. They romanticize their childhood as an escape mechanism. Eventually they drink enough that they forget even this. They labor under the false impression that they were once human. They are now walking through an entirely new meat grinder while building the same old wall, and they think they're someplace new. They are collectively deceived into thinking that this is the way of things, and their herd mentality keeps them in check. They hasten death. They eat crap, often in unsanitary conditions. They think they look to the future, but they only see the present or the past. They are more scared than they will admit and more confused than they will ever understand. They routinely grasp at straws. Their minds are derelict castles in which only ghosts reside. They search for happiness in transient relationships and meaningless sex, never stopping to realize that they've found none. They hide their pain from others and from themselves. They are driven by dreams of escape. Their dreams only drive them deeper in. All they can do is hold on to their delusions, close their eyes, and plug their ears.

And furthermore, I think Carthage should be destroyed.

Funny Aside

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I changed the page a few days back (at the same time as I added the dazzling example of my non-photogenic nature, as a matter of fact) to add little sigils at the lower-right corner of each post. There are actually two sigils there; a light gray watermark on the body itself, and a darker gray foreground image appended to the caption line. On Safari they display atop one another, giving a rather nifty shadow effect. On IE6 Win, you only get the dark one. On Mozilla you only get the light one. Pretty nifty, eh?

I'm going to pretend I planned it that way.

My Big Fat Greek Aether

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Just had the last meeting of the obnoxious-hippy-treehugger class. It's rather confusing to realize that I think I might actually miss it. It's a dumb class, don't get me wrong, but it was nice to have an open venue for argument once a week. Brings back fond memories of CSN English classes.

Last meeting of stupid-idiotic-dumb-business class was last night, but I've still got the final left for that. I can't wait for this semester to end, but then again, I can wait for next semester to start. Sigh.

Apparently they're firing all adjuncts for next semester. It's distressing that at least one decent teacher will be thrown out with the bathwater, but in a more general sense it's probably a good thing, all things considered. Dad will do a happy-dance, at any rate.

Domeign is continuing to solidify in my mind. All objects are enclosed another object, all Philotes have a parent Philote... Except of course for the architects, who encloses himself and is his own parent. I think. It's complicated. I suppose I'll just make traversing the hierarchy a prohibitive energy drain, and hope nobody probes the universe quite so deeply. Either way, I think I can make all the neat things I want to make; body tranplants, trained pets, evolving animals, Smiths, Fanan's Automated Region of Trouble, little bald doctors, Roland, Frodo...

The only major open question I have at this point is synthesis and decay. There obviously needs to be a way to create an object from constituient elements, but where do you get the blueprints? My current idea is an (Aristotelian? Platonic? Who was that?) aether in which the ideal forms of all objects exist, which can then be probed, indexed, and if the wizard in question is sufficiently skilled, memorized. I like this idea because it allows me to quote Greek philosophers in explaining it, but I'm still working out the details of how exactly it could work.

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