The Off-line Musings

  • For a period of time in the fall of 2003, I worked an overnight shift at the Target store in Waukesha, then at Charter Communications (the cable company) in Fond du Lac. I jotted some notes at both intended for use in blogging. Here are those notes.

While working at Target
I think it’s a poor comment on society when they have to dumb down Trivial Pursuit.

I stood under a ladder at work last night – seven years bad luck, but after five and counting, I figure “why stop now?”

There’s this infomercial for “US Auto Credit” on the TV at Target every night at 1 AM. It’s one of those “you-went-bankrupt-but-we’ll-lend-you-money-at-90%-a-month” scams. You know it’s a superb organization when they repeatedly flash the graphic on the screen saying that, regardless of credit history, “Your Approved!” That’s a letter-for-letter quote.

Heard on a radio commercial, “I went to the Internet to find out the facts,” then proceeded to laugh my damn ass right off.

While “training” at Charter
Today at work, we “trained.” It was extremely boring, and I caught myself mostly proofreading the handouts. We had HR orientation in the afternoon. There were some forms that are apparently not at all HR-related, pertaining to HBO and Channel Guide incentive programs. These forms inexplicably require a social security number. No one in the class asked a question about that. However, we spent 25 minutes on the Q&A regarding the free cable. I felt bad for the bloke sitting next to me; he’s a smoker (heavy one I think) and there must be so much junk in his lungs, it sounds like he’s snoring when he takes normal breaths.

Why, on every electric hand dryer in America, the last two letters of “Step 1” (PUSH BUTTON) are scratched out? I could see if it were some sort of inhumanly and undeniably hilarious joke, but “PUSH BUTT?” That’s not even funny. Even “Step 2” (RUB TOGETHER GENTLY) doesn’t make it funny. Now if there were a “Step 3,” and that step was STICK FINGER IN THE CENTER CRACK, then it might get funnier.

Songs I couldn’t get out of my head today include:
“You Spin Me Round (like a record)” by Dead or Alive
“Everyday I Write the Book” by Elvis Costello

Songs That Got Stuck Today:
“Turning Japanese” by the Vapors
“Wild Wild Life” by Talking Heads

Used the computers at work for the first time today. Damn Compaqs.

This is mildly interesting, only to the extent that it demonstrates how “electronicified” our society can be: I’ve written fewer than 30 checks since February 1.

We got our “practicing” headsets today. My cousin Adam probably knows how I feel about that. I had the flashbacks.

This afternoon we talked about Lassie a little bit. It reminded me that our love is like taking Lassie to the desert, removing her teeth with a hunting knife; and shooting her in the head with a gun that you and she built together.

Songs That Wouldn’t Leave Today:
“Moving in Stereo” by the Cars
“Theme from The Black Adder” from the BBC television series

Stuck Songs:
“Rain King” by Counting Crows
“Call Me” by Blondie
“For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” by The Beatles

If you want to draw parallels to the major monotheisms, The Matrix is a reflection of the genesis of Christianity:
The humans in Zion are the pre-Christ Jews, awaiting a messiah to lead them in a great war where the final spoils will be the vanquishing of their enemies, and a utopian existence to follow. In the Hebrew tradition, the faithful await the triumphant coming of the messiah, who will banish the sinful and take the righteous to a “New Jerusalem.”

In The Matrix, the coming of The One (the messiah) is much like the birth of Jesus in the Christian tradition: the unheralded coming of Just A Man; one in whom some believe, but most do not. As Jesus performed miracles, so Neo is capable of extraordinary feats (witnessed by some, not by most). In the end, Jesus handed himself over to the Roman authorities to be judged, even though he was fully capable of escaping them. In kind, Neo willingly traveled to the Machine City. Jesus was crucified and died for the sins of all men, not to deliver them specifically into the grace of God and the New Jerusalem, but to give them a choice: the option to be saved.

Interestingly enough, as Neo was re-assimilated into the Matrix, his body was laid out as if on a cross. Neo went to the Machine City not to destroy them and lead humankind into glory, but to bring them peace, and the possibility of a choice. The humans in Zion (like Morpheus) might’ve thought the ultimate goal was the ultimate victory, much like the Hebrew messiah. Things turned out more like the Christian myth, so maybe the movie is kind of a kick in the teeth of Judaism? Or perhaps, those that are familiar with both traditions are meant to recognize the parallel, and to realize how much easier it is to favor the Hebrew story (a glorious coming, a decisive victory?

Hey: Thank WW.

Today was the last day of “training” at my new job @ Charter Communications. There was a 100-question multiple choice/true-false “exam” at the end. The results of the scoring have no affect whatsoever on employment status, and come into play only in circumstances where two people from the same training class score exactly equally on a long list of other criteria when schedules are changed. More simply, the exam means nothing. It basically serves as a self-eval of the training program.

I think I finished it first; at least I don’t recall anyone getting up before me. The exam’s inherent unimportance factored significantly into the time I devoted to thinking about each answer.

Good lord and I haven’t written for a while! I was implored by Joe Mundschau yesterday to get back to the blogging, and I’d have to agree that I’m guilty of “link rot.” I jotted some notes and things see above in the early days of the training that I thought might be bloggable. If you were at all entertained by the Hunt Log of 2001, you may be interested in this one.

Anyway, this is the first chance I’ve had in a while to write, and that is a blatant and complete lie. I’ve had time, but I’ve filled it with arranging furniture in my room, watching TV, drinking beer, and playing Madden 2004.

The One Thing That Made Me Choose Today to Get Back Was:
Joe’s email
and Wil’s—

The TWO THINGS That Got Me Blogging Today Were:
Joe’s email
Wil Wheaton’s blog
and the arti—

The Onion
and Ti—

-Joe’s email
– Wil’s blog
– The Onion article
– Time

Today is the first day I’ve had this quiet time at my desk where I feel no guilt in doing some of my own business while the room sits in silence. Sometimes I really need this to get juices moving: I need a captive environment with no outside information or entertainment sources. I should go to the library more and tell the nice people who work there to not let me leave, read, or surf the web, or talk to anyone for a period of no less than four hours.

Nah, that never works; I’ve tried it. If you go forcing yourself, you can get things done for a little while, but in my case, you get to thinking about all the stuff that’s distracted you recently, and that starts distracting you again.

I wonder if that episode of Smallville got done downloading.

Then, I’m writing this by hand, cuz I can go a lot faster than on the PDA, but I’m looking at my handwriting and realizing that if I wanted to have someone else type this up for me, they’d take a glance and politely request that I go straight to hell.

And then there’s the way that I grip the pen (very tightly), compounded by the pressure that I apply to the page (very hard) and I have to “crack” all the bones in my fingers. It’s gotten to be a terrible, and, no doubt, physically degenerative habit, one that I will likely pay for with either the eventual inability to use my hands, or millions of dollars in pain medication. I wonder if my future self is berating me (God, damn my 24-yr-old self for what he’s done!) for making his tactile abilities suffer.

That’s right, I said is, because I’ve decided to stop thinking about time as a flat, linear dimension, and instead as a dynamic 4th dimension that our species has only found one way to navigate through (forward). This gets complex, though, if you want to start thinking about “free will,” “choice,” “destiny,” etc, because it implies that, like the spatial dimensions, all points in time ALSO already exist, so every choice you’ll ever make is already made and every thought you’ll ever think is already thunk.

But upon further review, maybe it doesn’t imply that at all, because if you create an analogy between time and a spatial dimension, like height, these things appear to be true:
– You cannot occupy two heights at the same time (IE, can’t be 100ft and 200ft above sea level simultaneously).
– If time is similar to height, you can’t occupy two “moments” at the same time.

This second apparent truth really throws a monkey wrench into every time-travel story you’ve ever seen, read, or heard where Person 2003 meets Person 1983 upon traveling to a point in the past, or Person 2013 in the future. It would stand to reason (along these lines) that if you leave a place (Oshkosh), it no longer experiences your presence, and so if you “went to the future,” you, and not some Future You, would occupy that moment. Working on this line of reasoning, if could be said that we’re all “traveling through time” constantly, at the same rate, covering the same distance, etc.

I think Einstein’s theories regarding “time travel” and the speed of light could come into play here, but I don’t really recall how.

JUST REALIZED: the TV show Quantum Leap was, in a way, based on this very idea about the dimension of time: Sam Beckett “leaped” from one point in time to another, replacing a person existing in that moment until he moved through to a different point. It makes sense, I guess, that one would only be able to travel backward? Well, that I’m not sure about, but I AM thinking that you wouldn’t be able to bump out other people, only yourself (because you are still you).

Then there are the questions with regard to the Quantum Leap “string theory”:

BIRTH———————-(your life)———————————-DEATH

A) How do you tie the ends together, and
B) ball up the loop

and I guess that’s the question of time travel.

OOOOHH! Of COURSE you can’t travel outside your own lifetime! Who would you replace? You could go to the future within this theory, though, up until the moment of your death. You wouldn’t want to reach that moment, though, because then you’d die. Dave later pointed out that if the string were tied together at the ends, it wouldn’t matter, because at death you’d just go back to birth. I thought about it more later on, and decided that still wouldn’t be the ideal situation to be in, because what the hell are you gonna do to get back to your correct time as a baby?? So theoretically, you could cheat death by leaping to a different moment in the past every time you travel close to the moment of death.

In any case, the whole thing is really complicated by the simple fact that the way we experience each dimension is the only way we experience it.

But anyway, I digress. What I meant to talk about were the things that motivated the blog and the experiences I’ve gathered over the last four weeks or so. Now to carry on with that.

I’d say that one of the leading reasons I’m not very good in normal human conversation is that I look to “write” in talk, which is rather put-offish.

Well, the things that motivated – Joe’s email: pretty simple, it was the proverbial torch below my posterior that was needed.

Wil’s site, which, upon reading his blog, reminded me that I like writing and I should really be doing it all the time. And he’s done some really good stuff lately; I have to get his book.

Time – just had some.

Then there was The Onion article, titled:
“Working Man Proud of Job He Hates”
I hate pretty much any job (at least the ones I’ve had since college) and I always want to have something else that I can be really proud of. (Not to say a person shouldn’t be proud of their work, provided they enjoy it. That’s kind of what the whole grad school thing is about.) Yeah, so basically, I need to make my brain work a little more again, and the writing will come. God, like that temporal-theoretical tangent? That was the most excited I’ve been in weeks.

Speaking of weeks!
It’s been four weeks now that I’ve lived back in Oshkosh and worked here in Fondie. Dave’s apartment is a helluva nice place, and I kind of wonder if, provided we get along well, it won’t become a more long-term residence. Rather than fight that eventuality, I think I’m going to let myself settle in, and just see how things progress. I haven’t talked to Dave about this yet, and I hope he’s not shocked in reading those comments.

If you are interested in seeing photos of the crib (which would be understandable), rest assured they’ll be here in a few days. I guess that’s about all I have to say without a visual.

Well, wait, that’s not true: I’m a writer, for chrissakes, I can describe ’til doomsday if you like. Let’s see…

It’s a 2-bedroom townhouse, brand-spankin-new, and if you know Oshkosh it’s on Dickinson Ave, just off the west frontage road (Washburn), less than half a mile south of 9th Ave. The building is basically right behind McCrory’s? Furniture, next door to Henri’s Music. If you know zero about Oshkosh, here’s a map. You can zoom in or out until you relate.

The house itself has an attached garage, 1.5 bath, all new appliances, a washer & dryer, and just slightly less than adequate cabinet space in the kitchen. Off the living room, there’s a patio door that leads out onto a concrete slab (about 8’x4′), and we’re the only unit with a tree outside.

You have to climb the stairs to get to the bedrooms, washer/dryer, and full bathroom. The upstairs bath has the two-door scheme going on, with the shower and toilet segregated from the sink. Personally, I thought it would make MORE sense to make like Dave’s old studio downtown, where the door separated shower and toilet (which is pretty weird in a studio, if you think about it). Both Dave and I have these extraordinary, large closets, and both of us have filled them effortlessly.

Let’s see, what else? I think the place is nicely decorate; Dave’s got a buncha cool old newspapers from major historical events in frames, buncha photos as well. I still have some pictures to hang and I’m going to do the X-Mas? decorating next week… I also need some ink for my printer so as to blast some photos out.

But right now, my hand is bloody spent and everyone else is done with their test. Back to the “grind,” as it were.