Travelin’ cyber man

Up with the sun, gone with the wind
She always said I was lazy
Leavin’ my home, leavin’ my friends
Runnin’ when things get too crazy
Out to the road, out ‘neath the stars
Feelin’ the breeze, passin’ the cars
-”Travelin’ Man”, Bob Seger

In spite of itself, cyberspace does a fair job of representing Real Life, for the most part.

For instance, I seem to flit about, neighborhood to neighborhood, acquainting myself with various fringes of the blogosphere, while never bothering to stay for long or invest myself too heavily in any group.

That is also my nature in real life. I’m a wanderer at heart.

Not a wanderer in the physical, hobo embodiment, hitching rides on trains and carrying a stick with my belongings stuffed in a bag attached. No, no, not that kind of wanderer. I have a job, a family…I have some roots. I am a wanderer of the soul and what better place to live that out than in the cybercommunity.

Only in cyberspace can I act out my sense of aloofness and wanderlust without ever having to leave my apartment. I can dabble a little here, a little there…wherever the mood strikes.

I’m amazed (not in a harsh way) at how much some people invest in the workings and social structure of the their cyberhood. I think it’s great (for them). I suppose I could somehow work and twist this into a state of misery tormenting my own existence.

Maturity. One aspect of maturity, a building block of it, is the ability to recognize what you are and what you aren’t.

And what I’m not: a “joiner.” A “belonger.”

I’m content to pass through, make some very superficial acquaintances, and watch as other “normal-minded” people indulge in their social and community-minded endeavors. I watch in awe as each distinct community glows with a vibrant bustle while its “members” chat and laugh and trade experiences and stories, squabble, argue, offend, defend.

What is it. Fear? Avoidance?
I’m not shy, not in the least. I’m a shameless flirt and I’m able to entertain people and make them laugh. I simply can’t take too much of them. And in order to live out that requirement, I pick and choose when I immerse myself in social life. In small doses and when I’m in the mood. My filters are set on fine and I let very, very few people through. It’s an awfully selfish and self-absorbed manner of living, I will admit. But it’s me.

The sense I wish to impart is that I do not look on others with scorn. I am very happy with my life. Only the unhappy and bitter and envious are capable of scorn. I am not. I accept that there are segments of society who do not share my values and I can also accept that contrasting values can co-exist in an environment of openness and non-judgementality. On my part that is. My part is the only one that counts. For myself. I can’t worry about other’s views of my behavior. And I don’t. I’m the ruler of my world and only my world. I have no say in other worlds, and other worlds have no say in my own.

And until the day I finally have the ability and freedom to rip my roots from the ground and wander the physical countryside as befits my restless soul, I will find contentment in traipsing along the cyberrailroad.

This is what a cyber cluster phuk looks like

Did you hear about it?
Did you see it on the news?
The big blog blowup, you know?

You didn’t?
Of course not.

One of the pitfalls of blogging is the tendency to copy and paste your small portion of the blogosphere right over the span of its global reach when in fact no one has heard of you, no one really cares much, and they sure as hell haven’t heard of your little blog community.

The prattle, the gossip, man it’s everywhere in the blogosphere. Ego, power games, vindictiveness, devastation of personhood. Just like high school.

This is the future of your internet, son.

Mankind, see, we stumble onto some really great shit occasionally. We make or develop something awesome; a discovery, invention, technology…anything which promises the perfect opportunity for the human race to fast forward the frame rate of evolution, but inevitably, we bring our garbage, our trash, our lowest common denominator mentality, and splash cold water on any great advancement handed us.

Cyberspace is no exception.

Cyberspace, the vast and random collection of servers and URLs and forums, is bound by that ultimate form of global connectedness and community called the blogosphere. The blogosphere parcels out the internet into neighborhoods and towns and libraries where similar-minded people can congregate and exchange info and threaten each other’s life. The internet!

So you didn’t hear about it? The meltdown over the holidays? Damnit, this is the internet. Everyone should have heard.

I’ll refrain from intricate detail because I assume anyone who can read this post has the wherewithal to string together the right combination of focused clicks in order to find the path to that which I speak of. But some shit hit the fan over the past month in a portion of the blogosphere I somehow landed in when I kicked Phoenixism off last August.

Where did I land?

The first site I encountered was a blog run by a fellow out of DC who uses a pseudonym. The blog deals with the superficial details of “Game” and “PUA,” something I find interesting from a psychological and evolutionary perspective. I have very little use for “game” itself. I’ll leave that to the the 22-year-old guys who are just now getting over their awkward teenaged years and middle-aged men who suddenly realize life has passed them by with only a fraction of the notches on their bedposts they fantasized about as boys.

Nah, I’m no Casanova but I have no problems turning on the charm and getting along with women (in spite of myself). I’m all about the evolutionary psychology of gender relations and the field of PUA ties in nicely with this field. I read the blog, found the material mildly amusing but not greatly magnetic. Thing is, once you get men started on the subject of women and PUA, you will draw some of the of older individuals who, unable to calmly accept the passing fancy of women (who for the most part don’t even look at them), lash out and grasp for a sense of lost power by gathering with other similar men and bonding through common antipathies and their distaste for modern society and womanhood.

This slow devolution from young, horny guys looking to hook up with young chicks, to older guys who really want to hook up with young chicks, is called MRA (men’s rights activism).

MRA is centered around the modern-day legally sanctioned usurpation of the human male. I think they bring up many excellent points. Divorce, sexual harassment, child support…among many other aspects of society, the judiciary has become neutered and feminized and the result is a milquetoast-y sort of paradigm which punishes those who detract from the very specific Book of Rules.

So yeah, these guys have a rightful ax to grind.

However, I think many of them have a problem when it comes to perspective and sorting the macro from the micro. Yes, I think it’s fair to say that women are a mess these days. However, I also think it’s extremely fair to say that men are a mess as well.

These guys are very content to complain about the state of womanhood while neglecting to consider the possibility that it has become thus because man has become less of a…man. I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again. In the human entanglement that is man and woman, man has always controlled the table. Man has always steered the ship. And if we have arrived at the pitiful state the MRA allege, it is only owing to the fact that Man has lost the ability to steer. Are we going to blame women for that?

Enter party B in the holiday blog skirmish.

Another poster, a female poster, coming from the psychological, maybe behavioral perspective. She first commented on the dude’s blog and the antagonism didn’t wait long. It was oil and water. I don’t know too many details, because frankly, I can only put up with the soap opera bullshit up to a point. The two hit the ground feuding. Each side had its own army of true believers squaring off against each other in the battle to end all blog battles.

Idealogical debate is one thing, as long as it stays that.

Then it got nasty.
Everything is murky and facts are hard to come by. But everyone can agree:

The male blogger ripped some pictures of the female blogger’s 5-year-old son off her Myspace page and posted them on his blog in an attack he directed at her. In return, the female blogger posted residential address and employer info of the male blogger on her site.

All shit hit the fan.
The male blogger did not post for a couple of weeks and rumors abounded.

Both bloggers committed the unpardonable, in my opinion.
Children and residential addresses.

We might have risen to the internet’s potential level; we don’t seem to be able to resist the urge to drag it down to ours.

Add this to the amusing downslide of the modern male

I have a few stringent  strict rules in life I loosely abide by.

One is that I don’t post more than once a day on this blog. But rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?

Well, in this case the rule begged to be broken.

During the process of preparing to post my Makeover video, I glanced at the news items on MSN and this link in the Lifestyle section caught my eye: Man Corsets.

How could I not look? You tell me that.

They spoke to a woman from an online retailer that is pushing a new men’s “shapewear” garment. The man can slide the sheer and feminine “He Corset” over his flabby paunch and instantly be transformed into a muscular and lean hunk of meat. It reminds me of the infamous “Bro” (a male bra for manboobs) from Seinfeld.

(I must have trampled on some copyrights, the video was removed from Youtube. Follow the link if you’d like to witness the trainwreck. Here is a screenshot.)

This strikes me as incredibly anti-masculine on a deeply instinctual level. I realize that men have every right to use any means available to make themselves look better but I don’t have much tolerance for lazy and cosmetic falsity for appearance’s sake.

That is a woman’s game…if you’re an able-bodied man, you are genetically required to earn your physique and your toughness. You can’t don silly masks in order to fool others. Life is not Halloween.

Rant off

Obviously, a bit of self-examination clearly tells me why I find things like this annoying…

A symbolic update for East L.A. Makeover’s stage 3 and 4

Yeah, yeah, before you start nagging at me, let me just say it’s been a very busy month.

Between the holidays and some serious busy-ness at work, I haven’t had much time or motivation to take on any major housecleaning since November. Now that it’s a new year and things are simmering down, I can’t hide my laziness and procrastination behind convenient excuses any longer.

This video, while not much of an update in the truest sense, is merely a reminder, a wake-up call, for me to get my butt moving.

The kitchen (stage 3) and the dining room (stage 4) are nearly complete. The major remaining obstacles for the completion of both is a little shopping. I had my fill of department stores and malls last month…I was not about to shop for any damn household furniture until after the New Years anyway.

I’ve got your Swine flu right *here*

Have you had the swine flu?

Know anyone who did (or has it)?

In retrospect, it’s easy to see the whole of N1H1’s public lifespan and observe how our public attitude has evolved to accept the “terrible” new virus.

When Swine flu cases were first spit up by the news in March of last year, exaggerated panic flooded the airwaves and reports would have you believe we were living out Chapter 1 of Stephen King’s “The Stand.” The sky was falling. At first it was the “hybrid” flu, a really messed up name which sounded insanely ominous.

A flu is one thing; once the public begins to learn about the genetic and scientific background of the influenza virus and its transmission venues, all hell is bound to break loose. And it did.

The influenza virus has been the subject of mystery and mortal darkness for ages, but most people simply don’t pay attention or bother to learn anything about it other than dealing with it when they are struck down. Not until then do we give it any thought and instead prefer at that point to shovel medicine into our mouths and pass out for a few days before limping back to rehabilitation. We don’t give the virus another thought.

The Swine flu has undergone a rough evolution in the public perception since last year. Initially it was the biblical plague come to lay waste to the human race. We saw photographs of people wearing masks. Mexico City looked like one big smoggy ER ward. I saw a few people here in L.A. wearing large surgical masks as well, right about the time I read that they might do nothing to stave off the tiny virus.

Little by little the clinical blandness of its attack became more commonly known.

Now it was “N1H1” and we learned all about its genetic heritage which spanned across several unrelated species. The virus underwent more name changes than Prince. And it attacked in waves. At first, an outbreak, then an epidemic, now a pandemic. When can we officially call it a pestilence?

We even went through a period where the Swine flu was stigmatized and people seemed reluctant to admit they or someone they knew might have it. And pigs, the poor little piggies. Vilified and ruthlessly blamed for the Apocalypse. For a while it seemed everyone was Jewish or Muslim.

Just recently I’ve learned (second-hand, of course) of 3 Swine flu cases within a relatively small circle I’m loosely connected to. Ladies and gentlemen, the swine flu virus is ready for you.

At work they’ve been offering an H1N1 flu vaccination. Notices are posted everywhere about washing your hands. In the Metro stations the television screens occasionally flash PSA public health pointers about curtailing the spread of illness. Even buses are boasting posters imploring us to stay home if sick. Yeah man, if anyone should be warning the public about microbial contamination, it’s public transportation agencies. Some of the shit I’ve seen on buses and trains is is downright scary. Hell, well before the swine flu I would wash my hands with the fastidious care of a pre-surgical rub down the minute I stepped off any bus. Those are germ farms on wheels (or rails).

A couple of years I ago I saw some sick fuck on the bus literally pick his nose, study his little prize, and rub it on the empty seat next to him. Not pretty.

Well, anyways my point being that I believe we’re reached the point in N1H1’s PR campaign where we can safely say its “de-stigmatization” has begun. H1N1 “victims” themselves and relatives, acquaintances, neighbors are now testifying to their viral exposure enmasse, and while not announcing it at the public square, are nevertheless willing to share the information. Typhoid Mary has become Typhoid Joe Blow. Swine flu is yours and mine.

I just don’t want to catch it.
The swine flu or any flu for that matter.

True influenza is a glimpse into the maw of death. It bends you over the log and butt rapes the hell out of you. While a banjo plays in the background and you just want it to stop.

I say “true influenza” because I notice a lot of people don’t seem to grasp what the flu is. It’s as if they never had it. How can that be? Don’t they remember the experience? Maybe they aren’t in touch with their bodies. I think a lot of folk suffer a disjunction with their physical being. Even when they are very sick they don’t feel it, experience it. And thus have no memory of the vile illness.

I’ve had the flu less than a handful of times in my life. And I remember every damn one of them.

The last time was February, 2008. I wonder if that might have been a very early case of N1H1. I doubt it. That’s wishful thinking…for if it was, I should have some degree of immunity now.

According to Wikipedia,

While it is not known precisely where or when the virus originated, analyses in scientific journals have suggested that the H1N1 strain responsible for the current outbreak first evolved in September 2008 and circulated amongst humans for several months before being formally recognized and identified as a novel strain of influenza.

Damn, missed it by about 7 months.

The only thing I can say about my 2008 flu was that it did affect my gastric system unlike previous bouts. I remember clearly, the Monday after the Super Bowl, I came down with a dry cough while at work. Felt sorta crappy. By bedtime I was feeling worse and I crashed earlier than normal.

The next morning I literally had to drag myself out of bed. I tried to lift weights and I just gave up. I lift weights through anything, so this was unusual. Over the next couple of days I slept about 18-20 hours each day. I had a severe fever and I felt weak and shitty beyond description. I had the chills, the kind that strike you to the bone.

On Thursday morning I thought I could do it. I tried to lift weights and was able to push some weight but it was an absolute joke. During some .25M deadlifts (25% of my max) I felt like I was going to faint. NO kidding, just pass out there in my dining room. I drank some water and it nearly came right back up. I had no appetite and at the expense of being too graphic…I was sitting on the can a lot. The world felt disconnected…I felt like a foreigner in this reality. That is feverish malaise. The brain, subjected to unusually high temperatures, defaults to delusion. Fever dreams.

Just thinking of the ordeal makes me feel sick again. Makes the latent antibodies in my body start to rev up in anticipation of my recollections becoming reality.

That’s why I laugh when I hear people complain of the flu at the first sign of sniffles. Flu’s begin with dry coughs, not sniffles. That’s a cold, my friend. If the common cold is a fender bender, the flu is head-on collision.

Yup, the flu sucks, but it’s not all bad. We can thank it in part for some splendid artwork, courtesy of Halls cough drops and a winter marketing campaign. These posters have been showing up on some MTA Red Line cars: