There and back again

So, "aloha" as they say here... too often, methinks, but I guess it's their "thing". I like "mahalo", which simply means "thank you", but better, and find myself using that absent-mindedly. Aloha just seems so... I don't know, artificial. Like they're doing it on purpose to remind you you're in Hawaii.

(Random note: Happiness is spending an entire day naked.)

So, yesterday I celebrated my birthday by hiking 10 miles. Bear in mind this is in 85-90 degree, 90% humidity conditions with a lot of up-and-down-hills and a full backpack (tripod, water bottles, towel, water shoes, etc.). It was a lot of fun, but definitely work.

I went on three trails. The first is actually a little ways down the Hana highway in the north-east; it's a pretty popular trail called "Twin Falls". It's officially on private properpty, but the folks set up a fruit-and-donations stand at the trail head and are willing to let people go so long as you don't trash anything. The trail splits about a mile in, with about a half-mile either way to the two falls.

The second was a short thing in the Iao Valley to the "needle", which is this huge lava "spire" that's still standing in the old volcano. It's basically in the center of the western volcano, but it's so eroded the floor's not too high above sea level. However, lots of stairs as you hike around to the vantage point. Probably a mile or so round-trip.

By the time I got to the third one, it was about 2:30 p.m. This one, the Waihe'e Valley "swinging bridges" trail, is also on private land. The company that owns it also set up a booth and such at the trail head, but they close the parking at 5 pm (and tow everyone out). So, as I pull up, the lady manning the booth says, "You're about a half-hour late; most people take 3 hours for the 4-mile round trip. You think you can make it?"

I smirked a little and said, "I've done 6 miles already today - don't worry, I'll make it." So, she let me in, I paid the dues, and hiked the mostly-uphill trail along the river back to the dam and swimming spot at the end. Well, sortof at the end - the end of the valley is actually the Wall of Tears, and it's only possible to reach there by helicopter, really. (Note: both of those pictures were taken on my helicopter trip last year.)

Well, I got back to the damn in 45 minutes, spent about 15 minutes there taking pictures and relaxing, then hiked back out in another 45. As I was driving out, the lady at the booth just shook her head and smiled. "You're nuts." "Yep." We then chatted a little, she pointing out that I'd hiked 10 miles that day, and mentioning she'd paddled 15 miles over the weekend (which is an amazing feat).

Anyway, I'd intended to hit a few more trails, but by then 1) I was out of water 2) it was bloody hot and 3) I was fucked. So, I came back to the resort and relaxed.

Today, I was intending to go out and finish the hikes I wanted to take since my Hana trip got cancelled - but as I was getting ready to leave, the hiking company called and said they had enough people to go tomorrow. so, rather than push myself with 5 more miles today and another 5 tomorrow, I thought I'd just take it easy today.

Oddly enough, it's not my legs that are sore (though my calves are a little tight), it's my shoulders from the backpack. Oh well.

Still working on the pictures - most of the HDRs didn't really come out, but I've got plenty of normal shots.

Anyway, back to the deck for more sunbathing and hot tub time. Gotta relax these muscles for tomorrow morning. Aloha!


It's one of the keys to everything. You can't know everything about everything, or really everything about anything. Heisenberg proved that, and it threw everyone into chaos. Our models of the universe were reduced to games of chance.

You see, you can only plot the possibilities of something, the likelihood of it being at point A instead of point B. While you're pondering it in your head, it could have flown off to land at point ZZ3ZA, and you'll never know until you look.

Physicists came up with a way to describe them, however, regardless of where they are. They're called "wave functions": mathematical representations of all the possible outcomes for a single unit. Wave functions propagate everywhere, indefinitely, for as long as needed. Things only cease "being" wave functions and become definite "things" when they're observed, when someone finally peeks through his fingers and says "boo". That's when the wave function collapses into one single state, a state which can only be predicted by probability but never actually known until it's observed.

And that's life. We bounce around on a sea of probability, predicting and guessing what may come but never really knowing until it happens, until we change possibility into reality.

That's where you'll find me, on that event horizon - riding the crest of the collapsing wave function. Forever observing, watching things happen, enjoying the moment but always wondering... what's next?

And, always finding out.


Nothing true is ever true forever,
Nothing new is new more than a day.
If all we got was all we ever wanted,
Would all we ever wanted stay that way?

If now's the only moment that existed,
And then is just a memory or a dream,
If time is there for being, not for having,
Can anything more precious ever seem?

If everything results from innovation,
And change is how the present came to be
Why should we stop the world from moving forward
In the fear of things we can't foresee?

And, in the end, if nothing is eternal,
If everything recedes into the black,
Then isn't what we are far more important
Than all the things eventually we'll lack?

Nothing true is ever true forever,
Nothing new is new more than a day.
If all we'll have is all we ever wanted,
Why would we want it any other way?

Out to lunch

I am so not getting anything done this week.

(Random note - a game I used to call Cross Sums 30 years ago is now resurfacing as "Kakuro".  just like Sudoku was something else when I used to play it.)

So, we've been having some minor issues with the DSL at the house lately.  Mostly related to the router, a WRT610N, which apparently has a minor problem with upnp configurations.  I had to turn that off.  But while troubleshooting, I discovered that the speed was only 1.5 Mbsp download.  I thought it was faster.

After talking to Earthlink, I found out that we could upgrade from 1.5Mbps to 6 Mbps for just $5 a month - since we'd signed up years ago, the prices and offerings have, obviously changed.  You'd think they'd call up and notify you or something.  Oh well.

Anyway, net result is that, some time today or tomorrow, the bandwidth on the line goes up 4x.  Should make for fewer saturation issues.

I also updated the firmware on the modem and made some network configuration changes that should improve the stability of the environment.  The fun part is that this involved telnetting into the modem, changing some moderately advanced network settings, and reconfiguring the router.  How the hell do non-technies even know to do this sort of thing?

If you make a system so complex that to set it up properly requires moderately uncommon technical knowledge (I don't know that many CCNAs), you have to expect that the majority of the time it will *not* be set up correctly.  The result is the huge problem with hacking and spam that we seem to have in the modern world.  If you want to stop all that, make this shit more intuitive.

On a separate note - yeah, so not going to reach my visual physique goal for Maui.  I'm at 149ish right now, which is great (and means I'm net down 30 lbs over 7 months), so I'm certainly not complaining.  And I'm going to keep it up and see if I can't get it by Blizzcon.  But I'm a little bummed.  Ah, well, no sexy time for me yet.

I also haven't gotten confirmation of my Hana hike yet, which is a little unsettling.  If they don't get at least 3 people to hike on the 28th, 29th, or 30th, I'm like not going to be able to go.  Which means driving there myself and seeing what I can do.  I've got a book on hikes now, so I know where to go - but damn, that's 5 hours of driving just to get there and back.


Today's my last Friday before my vacation.  Next week is when everyone starts to panic.  It'll be great.

(Random note: I buy 6 asiago, 2 plain, one "everything", one sesame, one cinnamon/raisin, and one chocolate chip bagel every Friday for the office.)

My water shoes arrived last night; they're kind of odd.  For those who don't know, water shoes are footware designed to be worn in the water (obviously), specifically in areas where you could hurt your feet otherwise.  In particular, they're great for hiking in/through streams, walking around in tide pools, or non-sand beaches.  The weird part is that they're made both to let water through and dry fast, but also to look sortof shoe-ish.  So, they're made of this weird mesh that *looks* like a normal shoe (albeit with more little holes) but feel strange, almost like those plastic jelly shoes you see kids have.  Here's hoping they work.

I've also (sortof) got confirmation on my two hiking trips in Maui; the dates are still subject to change depending on how many other people sign up, so we'll see what happens.

On the local front - the Unnamed Alpha ends officially this Saturday.  So, that means I only really got two play dates, but what I've seen so far is pretty good.  Beta's supposed to be starting within a month - hopefully not before I get back from Maui.

I have no idea what to get my step-dad for Father's Day - doesn't have to be much, but something.  A card, certainly.  Maybe I'll find some video game he doesn't have.  I have to go shopping for that on Saturday, as well as pay my registration.

Note to others: buying a new car as a birthday present for yourself is great, but having to pay the registration fees around your birthday every year after is annoying.

A thousand words

9 days 'til I fly to Maui.  Today, I spent money I probably shouldn't have, but that's pretty much true of this whole trip now isn't it?  I booked two "tourist" functions: one is a full guided day on Lanai in a 4x4, and the other is a drive to (and hike through) a rain forest in Hana, which is supposed to be *the* most beautiful spot in Maui.  I'll get lots of amazing pictures and enjoy myself, and start being financially responsible when I get back.  Probably.

(Random note: today is the first time I've worn underwear in a 18 months.)
Speaking of pictures, Patrick asked if we could do a "photo trip" last weekend: a friend of his had lent him a D50 and a few lenses.  So, I grabbed my D300 and we went to the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys.  It was actually kind of nice if a bit - well, stark.  I suppose the heat doesn't allow a lot of lush vegetation, and to be honest there were parts that had enough shade for it to get going.  Most of it, though, was just a well-manicured lawn.  Anyway, that didn't stop me from taking pictures.  For some reason, I really like this one:
shadow painting tonemapped

I also got to play the Unnamed Alpha (for NDA reasons) last night.  There are obviously some control and functionality issues, but I still had a lot of fun.  Once things get ironed out and it rolls into beta, it should be great.  My only real complaints are that the alpha tests so far are mostly on nights where I have prior commitments so I can't play, and that it doesn't run on my notebook (so no playing in Maui).  Aside from that, though, it's going to give me a reason to start upgrading my computer (mainly, my video card and motherboard/chip/RAM) when I get back, since the damned game's a resource hog.  I love my lilttle 8800 GTX, but it's getting grey hair now.

See, I can't even finish a post, and I'm already planning on spending more money.  *sigh*


Random stuff:

Worked over the weekend.  I had an upgrade to do, put in about 8 hours on Saturday and another 6 or 7 on Sunday.  I'm tired.  I need a break; maybe the boss'll let me take Wednesday off of something.

Less than 3 weeks until Maui.  I haven't booked any excusrions yet.  I need to look into that.  I want to do at least one hike and maybe a trip to Lanai.

With less than 3 weeks to go, I've still got a ways to go to lose weight.  I've pretty much accepted that I won't be in the shape I want to be by my birthday, but I've got a secondary target that's far more reasonable - in late October I'll be going to Blizzcon.  So, that's my second goal: in shape by late October.  I'm still going to "behave" for the next few weeks, because better is better, but I'm not going to stress when it's not a major improvement.

Oh, and I got my ticket to Blizzcon in October.  5th year in a row.  And likely the last, unless FFXIV turns out to be crap and Cataclysm is great.

Oh, I'm also in the FFXIV beta - I think.  I got a notification that I was selected, and now I'm getting notices about the *alpha*, but I can't actually log in and get a download or anything.  It's odd.

Less of me

Until age 15, I was average height for my class.  Summer of 1992, I left school at 5'8" or so, pretty typical for people in my grade.  Coming back after summer, I was 5'11" - I grew 3 inches in 3 months.  I also hadn't put on any weight at the time, and really didn't for years (at age 17 I was 6'1" and 117 lbs).  I eventually capped out at my current 6'2" and settled around 135 lbs for a few years.  That probably sounds really thin, but I have a very small build and it looks a little light but otherwise healthy.

Then, like most men, I hit the stress of work and late-20's body changes.  I didn't really pay much attention, but in 2007 (I was 29 at the time) I noticed - really noticed, because I saw a photograph of myself - that I was chunky.  Not fat, but definitely overweight.  Buying a scale it turned out I was 196 lbs.  That freaked me out a substantial bit - the idea of being over 200 lbs was anathema.  Plus, it just looked bad.  I mean horrible.  I no longer physically looked how I felt in my head, and I decided to do something about it.

The first thing I did was go from multiple cans of pepsi a day to none (and eventually to a single diet pepsi a day if I wanted).  That was March 2007; by April, I noticed I'd started to lose a little weight, was feeling healthier and sleeping better, so I decided to actually change my habits and lose weight.

It worked pretty well - too well, perhaps.  By August, I was down to 160 lbs and had a few people asking if I was "sick" because I'd lost the weight so thoroughly.  In late August, I noticed an odd bit of tissue in my goin, at the top of my scrotum, and figured out pretty quickly that it was an inguinal hernia; my best friend had had one a few months earlier and described it, so I knew what I was looking at and what to expect.  An appointment with the doctor, then a specialist, confirmed it, and a corrective outpatient operation was scheduled for early October.

I was still losing weight in September, and by the time the surger rolled around, I was down to about 150 lbs.  However, I hadn't been working out at all, and while I'd obviously lost a lot of fat, I'd lost a fair bit of lean mass as well (and I didn't have that much to start with).  My doctor was somewhat concerned, but said we'd talk about it after the surgery.  The day I went in, I was 151 lbs and about 15% body fat.

The operation was on a Tuesday.  By Friday, between the drugs, discomfort, trauma, and lack of eating, I was down to about 143.  When I went in for a checkup on the status, my doctor obviously freaked.  So, I was told in no uncertain terms to 1) stop the "diet" 2) start eating more and 3) get to a weight around 170 and stay there for a while.

So I did.  By February 2008, I was back up to 172ish and stayed in the 170s until last November, when I was finally told I could start again - but carefully this time, and with a workout routine to maintain lean mass (if not build it).

So, I started an easy workout routine along with limted calorie restriction and eating at different times, with the goal of losing about a pound  week but maintaining 135 lbs or more of lean mass.  Today, about 7 months later, I'm 151 lbs and 10% body fat, so I'm keeping my target.  I've also got more muscle definition and more stamina, especially with upper-body exertion (my chest and arms have always been crappy).  I'm up to 29 pushups every morning, which is better than the 10 I used to barely be able to pull off.

I'm still not where I want to be - even with only 10% body fat, most of it's around my lower abdomen and looks pretty bad.  So, I'm still continuing, slowly and carefully.  But I'll get there eventually, even if it isn't by my trip to Maui.

The good thing is, there isn't anything I'm doing that I can't keep up for the rest of my life.  And that's the goal - life changes, not diet.

Great memories in music

I don't "do" concerts.  That isn't to say I haven't been to what probably amount to concerts, but they're usually disguised as something else.  But the few "performances" I've been to have been pretty good.

(Random thought: Airports have personalities, just like the cities they're in.  L.A. is for arriving or leaving, not passing through; Reno is small, slow, and full of people who are going nowhere while travelling.)

Years ago, I met a guy at a small restaurant in West Hollywood where a friend and I would go to dinner periodically.  This guy was undeniably straight but a very nice guy - and also a musician.  Once, after we got "friendly", we showed up at the restaurant - really just a small bar with a few tables - when the place was basically empty.  This guy - Marcel - got us our food, and then spent most of an hour sitting on the bar, playing and singing songs he'd written himself on the guitar.  I still have MP3s of some of them, and I love listening to them.  I wish he'd release them officially, but, well, he's been busy and probably doesn't even remember who I am.  All the better, probably.  One song I loved had this chorus:
Don't be so scared, you're not alone
I'll be alright on my own.
I'll be your best friend, it'll be okay
Know that inside, you belong
Here, tonight, safe in my arms...

... I went to Cancun the first time out of frustration.  Odd, I know.  I'd never taken a real vacation before, and always wanted to, but could never talk myself into letting "work" just deal with my absence.  A series of events over Thanksgiving week 2007 ended with me being completely pissed off and frustrated in Hollywood on a Saturday night.  I resolved then and there that, if they weren't going to respect me when I tried to be nice, fuck 'em.  The next week I bought a personal cell phone and booked the first vacation I found that looked fun - and it ended up being an Atlantis resort vacation at Club Med Cancun.

The resort itself is great, and I did a lot of really fun things there (sailing, swimming in water that deserves the name "caribbean blue", hiking around an active archeological dig), not to mention seeing lots of attractive guys and making a few friends.  One thing that stands out, though, is something I didn't really plan on (amazing how that works out).  Shoshana Bean was scheduled to give a small concert for us at the resort (she was staying there with us gays and having a blast, apparently); I'd never heard of her but had nothing else to do that night, so I went.

She was great - a lot of fun as well as really talented.  Half-way through, I discovered she'd played Elfeba in "Wicked!" when she broke out into a rendition of "Popular" that was hilarious.  The evening would have been well-spent no matter what, but her last piece...  She started out with, "I think that if I didn't bring this number, they wouldn't let me on the island."  She then paused as the crowd giggled.  "... This isn't an island, is it... Nevermind."  And then she started singing.

Now, imagine my position.  I've recently made a decision to change my life, to stop letting myself be run by other's needs and start doing things I wanted to do.  The vacation and everything about it was an exemplification of that.  And then this woman with a beautiful voice and amazing personality gets on stage and sings:
Something has changed within me,
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by
The rules of someone else's game...
And as I listen to the song for the first time, in tears from the aptness of it as well as my own sentiment, I heard the lines that - to a man who lives his life alone in his own head, who is never at home anywhere - still get me misty-eyed:
... and if I'm flying solo,
At least I'm flying free...

... I'm thinking of all of this for a particular reason.  The second time I went on the Atlantis Club Med Cancun trip, another Wicked star - Megan Hilty - performed a different song.  That song was in tribute to someone who had recently died, and everyone in the audience sang along with her.  The tribute was to Bea Arthur, and the song was, of course, "Thank You For Being a Friend".  It was oddly moving, in that crowd and at that time, and I can't help but think of it today.
And when we die and float away,
Into the night, the Milky Way,
You'll hear me call as we ascend,
I'll say your name, then once again...
Thank you for being a friend.

In Transit

I'm sitting in an airport, waiting for Horizon to start boarding the flight to Reno.  (Odd fact: Reno, NV, is actually further west than Los Angeles, CA.)  I'm just going there for a day - well, an afternoon, really - and flying back tonight.  I might drop $20 in a slot machine or something if there's one convenient - having never done it in my life, it might be an experience worth having.

Tickets to Blizzcon went on sale last night - and effectively sold out in less than 2 seconds.  That's absurd.  Going to try again on Saturday to see if I can get one (and one for my best friend, who's also trying), but I'm actually not upset at the idea of not going.  We'll see.

Also made a slightly different purchase.  I'm going to Maui on vacation at the end of the month, and the last time I was there I got propositioned more than once.  I didn't take anyone up on it, but just in case I decide to this time, I figured I'd be prepared.  As such, I decided to try these custom-fit condoms.

Now, I'm hardly huge - if anything, I'm probably slightly smaller than the average guy, but I think I'm about average.  Still, I could see a condom fitting better (or more comfortably anyway).  The way these work is that you get a sizing tool (two, actually, one for length and one for girth) and use the measurements to order your size.  I'm S11 according to this, which I assume is about average.  Just means I get to "test" them when they arrive next week.  Now to find someone to test with...

I'm definitely getting anxious for Maui, even if it is still 3 weeks away.  This weekend, though, I'm working through an upgrade for one of our system.  Yay for working weekends without compensation!  Oh well.

Anyway, flight's going to start boarding soon, so I should probably get ready.


I already have a blog, Out Not Up, where I post alternative perspectives.  I've deliberately kept that relatively sterile, devoid of personal data or details.  Frankly, those aren't appropriate there.

However, I find myself wanted to spout nonsense, hyperbole, or sheer randomness periodically.  Life is chaotic, an infinite series of potentialities that don't resolve themselves into a here and now until, well, here and now.  We never know what's going to happen, often even after it already has, without more than a brief glimpse at the structure and a few irrational hopes that somewhere, somewhen, it'll all make sense.

Abandoning those hopes, this is where it happens.  This the point where tomorrow becomes today, where the wave function collapses and what could be becomes what is.  So, there's no telling what may come - abandon all pretext ye who here enter.

In more practical terms, this is likely to end up just being random comments, photos, or musings.  No guarantees, though: something serious may slip in periodically.  According to multiverse theory, everything happens somewhere, so why not here?  But it takes observation to collapse the wave, so you're partly to blame for anything that happens.

Keep that in mind, and we should be fine while we're lost out here.