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Archive for the 'Pleased/Like' Category


2012.01.01 The king is dead… long live the king.

It has been a year and half since this site has seen a new post, and twice that long since brian has made his presence felt. I have been hanging on to bipolar, thinking that one day I would resume posting again, but now I believe its time has passed.

As with most things in which I've been involved online, I'll endeavour to keep bipolar up in perpetuity, as an archive of times past.

If you want to catch up with me, head over to MatthewRasnake.com, which is a window into just about every aspect of my online life.

Brian, bipolar, and friendly readers, thanks for the memories!

chicago road trip, 2000

brian and matt

2009.01.27 delivering resistance – a work of flash fiction:

Considering my recently renewed drive to become a productive writer, I decided, tonight, to write this piece of flash fiction—a super-short sub-1000 word complete story. It may not be terribly original, but I'm pleased with how it turned out. Also, i'm pleased I was able to knock out almost 1000 words in one two-hour stretch. Much better than the almost 1000 words I managed over the whole of the past weekend. Lastly, as you may guess from the above, this is probably roughly first-draft quality. I had the idea last night, wrote it between 10-ish pm and 12-ish am tonight, then did a 5 minute read-through and polish pass, and posted it here. I hope you enjoy it.

delivering resistance

My Pop–that's what I call my grandpa–was a mailman. Oh, he'd retired years before I was even born, but from the time I was able to sit up on my own, I'd sit at his feet and listen to him tell stories. It didn't matter what he was saying, of course, I just loved to hear him talk. As I got older, I kept asking him to tell me the same stories. I kept sitting, and he kept talking. It was always summer when we'd visit Pop, and i remember the warm tingly sun on my back as I'd sit there and listen, or lay there, playing with my toys.

About 10 years ago is when it started. I was 14, sitting at Pop's knee, listening to his stories, and Mom came in crying. She could hardly get words out.

"It's just awful!" She'd said, a look on her face like nothing I'd ever seen, like she was stuck, like she was trying to pop her ears at the top of a mountain. That was the day our government had declared martial law in the name of a foreign power. Just like that. No warning. Entire metropolitan police forces either complied and joined up, or were massacred on the spot. 15,000 officers died within 30 minutes on the eastern seaboard alone. Of course there was chaos, but the military and ex-cops detained or executed looters, protesters, and demonstrators by the hundreds, until no one who resisted was left. Or at least, no one who resisted openly.

I think that day was the last time I felt the sun.

My dad was a scientist, apparently a somewhat important one, not that I ever paid much attention. He was hardly around, and when he was, he always had his books or his papers, and a concerned look on his face. But on that day, he yanked me up from Pop's floor, and shuffled me, Mom, Pop, and my sis into our little 4-door, and drove way out in the middle of nowhere to some kind of run-down hunting cabin. There were some men inside, and they took us to a tiny little cave, which led to a series of caves, which lead to a great big cave filled to the stalactites with whirring machines blinking and steaming in the tepid air.

That night was the first night of the resistance, though plans had been in place for decades (scientists love to anticipate problems), and for the next five or six years, we lived right there in that cave. I'm not sure where the food came from, or how any of the rest of that place worked, all I know is that I hated it. Maybe that's a little too strong. I certainly liked the IDEA of living in a cave, and I loved being able to go exploring–especially once i got to go alone–but the only books we had were science books, and the only computers we had were dedicated to their specific tasks. The moms tried to setup a classroom, but we could pretty much only study math, science, and stuff they remembered or made up. There were no video games, very little music except what we could make, and not really even any girls. Well, there were three who were infants when they got there, and two who were a bit older than me, but one died of pneumonia our second year, and the other was just too annoying to be near for long. So there we were with nothing to do but schoolwork and make-believe. But Pop was there, so when he wasn't trying to make himself useful as a guinea pig or a button pusher for the scientists, he'd sit and tell me all those old stories over and over again. Sometimes, he'd make up new ones, just to keep it interesting, but I could always tell.

One day, we got word from the resistance, nothing special really, but it was one of those days I was making an effort to show interest in my dad's work, so I asked how exactly we were getting messages back and forth between groups of people who were trying as hard as we were to stay hidden.

That was when he told me about the mailmen.

I was astonished. Pop's mailmen had been gone since before i was born, a casualty of the new global economy, the internet, and the fact that, in the end, the only things being mailed were things that nobody wanted. There were still a couple major consumer-oriented package shippers, but the day of the mailman was long over. Nobody had paid to deliver something as simple as a paper-stuffed envelope in 20 years! But dad assured me that encrypted messages were being carried back and forth from enclave to enclave every night. There was a clandestine resistance postal service.

Pop's been gone now for 4 years, and the cave was apparently raided a couple years ago leaving no survivors. But since that night when I learned of the mailmen, i have been training and moving, carrying the messages of hope and news of the resistance. I know that my Pop was proud of me, 'cause he told me as much in the last letter he would ever write. And when I set out each night, to my next destination, his stories echo in my head, and I know that I will have the strength to go on, no matter the circumstance or weather–as Pop said "in snow, in rain, in heat, or gloom of night"–but never in sunlight. No, I suppose I won't ever feel that warmth again.

- 01:55 am - PL ::
categories ::  Personal Projects - Pleased/Like - Pop Culture - Writing

 

2009.01.09 concentrate:

Aside from my preternatural skills of procrastination, one of my biggest obstacles to writing is focus. Sometimes, you run across a piece of advice that speaks directly to you, and this is one of those times.

Don't research
Researching isn't writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don't. Don't give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day's idyll through the web. Instead, do what journalists do: type "TK" where your fact should go, as in "The Brooklyn bridge, all TK feet of it, sailed into the air like a kite." "TK" appears in very few English words (the one I get tripped up on is "Atkins") so a quick search through your document for "TK" will tell you whether you have any fact-checking to do afterwards. And your editor and copyeditor will recognize it if you miss it and bring it to your attention.

from a post by Cory Doctorow

I've not done much actual writing (mostly outlining and, more often, NOT outlining—see procrastination, above) but when I was attempting to write that sci-fi novel I started in 2005, I was horribly horribly derailed by researching the position of mars in the night sky, from the mountains of northern california. In my defense, it gave me dialogue i might not have otherwise had, but still… distracted! The above is great advice for countering this, which I hope I can actually put into practice.

- 04:30 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Cool Links - NaNoWriMo - Personal Projects - Pleased/Like - Writing

 

2009.01.03 windblown review:

Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 by Jack Kerouac


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
It was always somewhat unclear, in the works dealing with Kerouac's life and methods, just how much he was beholden to classic literature and literary theory. The most famous story, of course, was always about the benzedrine, caffeine, and nicotine fueled three-day writing binge that resulted in "On The Road." And Kerouac himself, with his later works, and his articles and essays about writing, became a vocal proponent of "automatic" or "stream of consciousness" writing, further muddying the waters of his influences. In reading many of the biographies about Kerouac, we can get something of a feel for his abiding love of literature, and his almost reverent regard for certain writers who most inspired him.

In this book, a collection of journals–in whole and in part–taking the form of a mixture of working writing journals, and personal diary-type entries, his interests and desires are made clear.

Especially in regards to his first novel, Kerouac is keenly interested in creating a work of import and gravity, to be held among the works of his admired influences. He discusses the great efforts to maintain his momentum, and to edit and re-arrange his work. His fluctuating emotional connection to his own work sees him moving from the depths of despair that he will never be able to finish to his satisfaction, to the height of narcissistic belief that it will be a greater work than anything else in his time. This journal enlightens us to his struggles just to *be* a writer–which is a far cry from that image of Kerouac as the mindless typist cranking out words in a drug-fueled haze.

Later entries shine a light on his most famous novel "On The Road" that it rarely receives–showing "On The Road" as a careful work, which goes through several conceptual changes, not to mention numerous drafts.

Much of these journals are also notes from the journeys that actually appear in the finished novel, so we are able to see, in a way, how Kerouac captures his raw material.

These journals are a fantastic opportunity for Kerouac fans to get an internal glipmse at the reality behind the fiction we've come to love. For those who aren't fans, but who are interested in the act and art of writing–and of *creating*, in general–it is a window on the extraordinary struggles of a man attempting to leave his mark.

View all my reviews.

- 07:33 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Cool Links - Pleased/Like - Writing

 

2008.06.27 a nutshell:

so, i've had this problem for a while now… i say problem but really… i've had this annoyance for a while now. y'know how people ask if you have a website, or you sign up for thousands of profiles on thousands of different sites online and they all have a place for you to put your web address, right? well, me, being the guy i am, i pretty much always fill that bit in… and i pretty much always use bipolar. that's fine, but it's always kind of bothered me. i mean obviously i like brian and all, but it's always just seemed a little weird that my go-to site, my site that is kind of the champion of my online identity, is one that i share with another guy.

i think originally the idea was sparked in my head by the inimitable merlin mann with a 43folders.com post about personal status pages. then a couple months ago, my daily web travels brought me to something that got me thinking about it again, in a slightly different light. here're some links in roughly chronological order:

obviously, these guys are talking about something much bigger than a personal status page, tossing around words like ownership and portability. still, this fueled the fire, and got me working.

i think it was about two weeks later (which is like superman speed for me), i'd thrown together a design and finished the page—matthewrasnake.com.

this is a one-page site, which is basically just an overview of my entire web-world. a centralized me. all the data still lives on my various decentralized profiles, so this doesn't address—or even consider, really—data portability, but instead relies on RSS feeds and APIs from and through which i can gather together my various bits.

so, if you're looking for me online, or wondering what i've been up to, now there's a quick easy place to go. also, probably more importantly, now i have something to enter in all those form fields without feeling weird about it.

here's a couple other links that are related, but didn't really fit in with those above…

2007.04.04 slow news day:

don't have a lot to talk about today, so it seems like a great time to work in a mention of the puffin's latest blogging co-venture (now with his lovely wife, Allison), wherein he waxes poetic about the latest inspiring (and uninspiring) works in the comic book industry, she waxes poetic about high-falutin' sciency stuff, and they both entreat you with their occasional musings on the music scene and their own interesting undertakings.

appropriately enough, they've called it nerd [heart] geek.

oh, and in other news, i've just switched over from bloglines to our benevolent information overlords' "Reader" thingy. thanks to a conversation i was having with neil this afternoon where i was telling him about the two online feed readers, and where i convinced myself to go ahead and make the google plunge.

like my buddy Charlie has said… i wouldn't bow to our great and glorious overlords, except that they make such darned useful, usable stuff!

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- 11:39 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Cool Links - Friends - Local/Louisville - Pleased/Like - Pop Culture

 

2007.04.01 it's official:

i have stripped the new laptop of the shackles of oppression, by installing the new ubuntu 7.04 beta release. thus far, the beta is performing admirably, though we did have to undo the stupid Firefox "use Linux backspace convention" (i.e. an intentionally added firefox bug where backspace does not equal browser "back" button) breakage. i haven't yet attempted a SMB connection to my desktop windows shares, and i haven't done much beyond launching open office and surfing the web. the only serious OS/driver problem i've run into is that it refuses to drive the laptop display at its native resolution (1280 x 800). there seems to be some chatter on some forums about ways to fix this, so hopefully i'll get this addressed in the near future.

bottom line is that i am now officially a linux geek—my primary machine at home is exclusively running linux… at least until i can get a chance to figure out how to install Mac OSX on there…

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- 12:45 pm - PL :: 1 Comment
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Pleased/Like

 

2007.03.29 y'know how people say…:

extended warranties on electronics and household whatchamacalits, y'know how people often say that they're not worth paying for? well, let me tell you, i just totally got my money's worth today.

a couple and a half years ago, i bought my shiny new lappy from Best Buy. it was an eMachines model—a company who'd fairly recently been purchased by Gateway—and it was the only thing Best Buy had (that was decent) that had the swanktacular new Athlon x64 mobile chip. and it was a decent computer for about a year, with hardly a problem except for the always janky trackpad and the crack prone hinges.

since i had purchased the 3 year super-duper warranty, i sent it in for service (hinges, trackpad). well, after that it was in a pretty much constant state of fucked-uppedness. it would work, but there were always little weird things going on with it. so i sent it back, picked it up, sent it back, picked it up, etc. at least six times in two years.

the beauty of it is, that the extended warranty comes with a "no lemon" policy, where after doing four hardware replacements, they'll give you a new laptop. rumor mill had it that they would do a dollar for dollar replacement, in other words, i could get a brand new lappy that cost up to the same price as my old one. this, understandably, had me a bit excited.

well, after heading out to the store to fact-check the rumors and see a) what they had, and b) what i needed to do/what the process entailed, i discovered that really they just do spec-for-spec replacements. so, i would get a replacement that was closest in features to the old one. of course, since 2.5 years have passed, there are no exactly feature-equivalent laptops available, so i would end up with at least a small upgrade.

resigned to this, i chose one of the lowest featured gateway lappys they had (online), and headed back in to pick it up. the guy i talked to this time was a bit more lenient with the spec-for-spec policy, reading it as a "functional equivalence" kind of thing. he pointed me to a couple laptops—one lesser than the one i'd picked out, and one slightly upgraded—and i of course said i'd take the upgrade.

so now i've got a brand new lappy running one of those fancy intel core 2 duo chips (yeah, i'm back in evil intel land), but now maybe i can get a little mac osx installed on the beast. if not, i'm probably going the ubuntu route (of some flavor), because i had barely gotten Vista booted up before it crashed. in the 45-75 minutes i've been running vista, i've already decided that it may be pretty, but it's slow. you can put a dress on a dog, but in the end, it's still a dog.

oh, and to cap off the good parts of the story, after doing the whole exchange thing and signing up for a new 3-year extended warranty, paris hilton handed me a store credit for the price difference between the old machine and the new one (minus the price of the new warranty). i didn't expect it, but i'm not complaining.

so, don't listen to those people who say the extended warranties aren't worth it. if you need 'em, they can be like gold.

- 01:13 am - PL ::
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Pleased/Like

 

2006.09.16 well now, that's a little weird:

so, i was in college, right? i'm sure some of you know what that's like. in college i had a job—a couple jobs, in fact—that involved me mostly sitting around on my ass watching people not know how to work simple devices. during my ample free time, bored off my nut, i would occasionally write stories or little anecdotes to humor myself. once we actually got campus "internet," i would occasionally write these stories for a buddy of mine to give us both a little amusement. i hired him into the computer lab i managed for a semester, and he stayed put after i moved on, so i wrote little parodies about life in the lab after I left, and i wrote them in the style of a screenplay (more or less). in the midst of one of these stories, i wrote a parody commercial-break, for a product I assumed would never exist. i have just found out today just how wrong i was.

but first, a word from our sponsors… (a parody commercial written in the heady year of 1994)

warning, the rest of this post is probably NSFW

Scene:
Dark, misty jungle. Camera pans slightly to find a naked woman, lying on the ground, legs parted slightly, suggestively.

Voice Over:
A scent of a thousand years… a scent which commands and humiliates all who catch it.

Scene:
Full body profile view of woman on ground, her right leg slightly bent at the knee, foot on the ground.

VO:
A scent of love, passion, desire.

Scene:
Full body profile view, pulled back. Wolf walks up to inside of woman's right thigh, appears to sniff as woman bends knee further and camera pushes in towards woman.

VO:
A scent of magic, and mystery.

Scene:
Profile view, encompassing the woman from head to thigh. A man's head emerges from behind her thigh, he raises his head to gaze at her, and they smile knowingly.

VO:
The scent of… VeHina.

VeHina, the newest fragrance from the makers of Giorgio, Channel No. 5, and other fragrances. Available at your nearest Sears/Roebuck location.

And now, back to your irregularly scheduled blog.

so, yeah, that was weird. but it gets better. apparently, a company in Cologne, Germany is producing a fragrance called—oh yeah, i'm not even kidding—VULVA. this, people, is what we call not mincing words. it is a bit amusing to me that they use "flavour" instead of "scent" in a few places… especially since their FAQs specifically recommend against "drinking" Vulva.

perhaps more frightening is the fact that they have "other fragrances" in development, including "Vulva – Eighteen," and "Vulva – Exotic." the "Eighteen" version is inexplicably packaged in white, and I have to wonder what they mean by exotic… do the vulvas of different races or cultures have different scents, or are they just "spicing it up?"

and to take it one more step further into the absurd, they also mention that they're working on a scent for women (as obviously, with women already having vulvas, they won't need to carry around a vial of the scent of one). one might wonder just what masculine fragrance they might attempt to capture. perhaps their next product will be called "Balls," "Shaft," or something "edgy" like "Foreskin."

this icky-dirty-need-a-shower bipolar experience has been brought to you by the letters "V," "J," and, uh… "J."

- 01:14 am - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  Girls - Nostalgia - Pleased/Like

 

2006.09.07 blast from the link-blog past:

not that bipolar was ever really a "link-blog," but I compiled this little list for my best gal earlier today, and thought it wouldn't be totally imprudent to post it here for you guys. i have a couple post ideas brewing, but really i just need to get off my ass and post my usual off-the-cuff b.s. like i used to.

anyway, here's the list o' links:


Archives:


 
bipolar
raloqid

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