the Musings of the Gushome | musings index | feedback | other journals
June 1998 index
previous | next                 page bottom

June 24 1998, Wednesday

Sorry about the slow download guys, but I figured I should give you a tour of the farmyard at some point, and to really get something resembling a genuine rustic experience, you're going to need to see big pictures at the very minimum. You see, there's no way I can give you the feeling of stepping in chicken shit at this early stage of the web's development. First of all, here I am sporting my soon-to-disappear beard, or what I can grow of a beard in a week and a half.

Behind me is a large White Ash tree; its bark is featured in the background of this page.

I don't like the way this beard looks or feels. It has seized an opportunity to prosper during a short period of hygienic negligence on my part. But like maggots in interstate roadkill, it will surely be destroyed in its infancy.

One of the fresh new hens my parents bought recently to replenish the chicken flock, which had consisted exclusively of geriatric post-menopausal mix-breed hennies. I forget the name of the breed, but it looks to contain Leghorn and Rhode Island Red strains. The roosters are always white and the hens are always brown, much like the J.J. Warren hens we bought back in the late 70s (the ancestors of some of the geriatric mongrels). In the background is the barn (to the right) and chicken house (to the left). These old buildings are in terrible shape. A quarter of the barn has already collapsed.

The little boxes on the front of the barn are two different kinds of bat houses, designed to shelter bats during the day. My parents are big bat fans, and if you're a bat fan too and would like to have more bats flying around your house at night, you can order a bat house from Bat Conservation International. Whoah, next thing you know I'll be prostituting my musings hocking books and CDs Now CDs.

These are a couple of the older chickens in front of a simple gate designed to allow goats through but not horses. These older chickens are hybrids of bantam and J.J. Warren. Interestingly, among the offspring of J.J. Warrens, the hens are mostly white and the roosters are orange.

This is Fred the Dog. He's some kind of Australian Shepherd-mut hybrid. His colour is considered "merle blue" and he has a distinctly asymmetrical pattern on his back. His eyes have large pigment-free tracts of white running well into his irises, giving him a frightening appearance, and to the turtles he terrorizes, perhaps this fright is entirely warranted.

Of late, Fred's most outstanding feature has been his incredibly bad body odour. He can frequently be smelled before he can be seen. It's just an accumulation of doggy grease in his thick winter coat (which he never seems to shed until September).

Today I decided to give Fred a bath, his first in several years. I took him down to the stream and splashed him until he was soaked, then sudsed him up with ancient organic hair conditioner stolen years and years ago from Harkness Co-op in Oberlin. It may surprise some of my readers to learn there's no shampoo at my house at all!

Fred was very cooperative with the whole thing. In the past, I remember he used to struggle to get away. But he's an old dog now, and I barely needed to hold him at all. He seemed to like the cold water on this hot day, along with the windfall of attention he was getting. After I was done, I shouted "okay!" and he hopped up on the bank, gave a good shake, walked a few feet, shook again, and then frisked away like a dog half his age.

Here are a couple of the four old goats that live on the farm, standing in front of the barn. The yellowish goat is referred to as "The Yellow Goat" or "The Friendly Goat" because she usually will walk right up to you to see if you have some food for her. She also likes to be scratched on her head in the place where her horns were burnt off as a kid. She's old and scruffy now, as you can plainly see, though she still makes her share of mischief. I had to chase the goats out of my Dad's garden today, though they weren't really bothering his crops. Mostly they stuck with browsing the bushes above the garden near a row of beehives, another legacy of our "back to the land" phase.

...but this ain't no picture show

Yes, show & tell is over. Hoagie, my mother, noted today that I never seem to get out, that I seem perfectly content here at the farm, with no friends, no life. She wondered if the Internet was substituting for a social life. It wasn't as if she was concerned; it was more like she was intrigued. I basically told her that the Internet is all I need. It's got all of the drama of real life without any of the drawbacks. I can interact only as much as I want to, and I can always stop it all and change channels. It's sick perhaps, but it sure is a relief from the hectic business of meatspace socializing, which only a few short weeks ago I found almost inescapeable.
When I wasn't doing other things, I spent much of the day tracking down the facts behind the latest wave of social chaos sweeping the online journal world. This sort of thing always starts as friction between two people, then other people choose sides and alliances are forged. There are reactions and counter-reactions. Tensions build to a certain point and then they dwindle away to nothing in successive waves. Most people realize they're in it for the long haul and don't want to be caught up in the inherent irrationality of such disputes. For example, though Nancy Firedrake is generally sympathetic to Ginkgo, she labels as "misguided" the "pity party" organized by Ginkgo's friends in a completely non-ironic show of support.
I corresponded with one of the parties involved in this dispute, and it seems, at its root, to be the usual Junior High School-level social power game, complete with all the familiar online trappings (anonymous email tracked nonetheless back to the sender, lots of backstabbing email, secret web pages, jealousies, rivalries, incapacities to gracefully accept criticism, and unbelievably crippling low self-esteem). Something about interacting online forces many people to regress to the social capacities of thirteen year olds. I know I've regressed online, and I've seen brilliant minds do it time and time again.
More interesting than this online fight, however, is the reaction of the Ginkgo supporters, a reaction I characterized yesterday as "very surreal." As was pointed out by one of the especially verdephillic members of the new Bastard-l mailing list:

If I were going to satirize someone overly concerned with their
public image, I might do it by declaring a holiday in their
honor, and making a webpage and set of banners dedicated to them.

I can't agree more. It's difficult for me to understand how people I know and respect could have banded together on such a ludicrous project. Again, the medium (various forms of the Internet) makes people do things they'd never consider doing in the real world.

I did get a call from my childhood buddy Nathan VanHooser today. In fact, that's how I woke up this morning (or afternoon; I've been missing the worm a lot lately). He told me he's been reading the musings, and this led to a discussion of my various adventures of late. Then we discussed geeky things like the relative performance of Windows 95 and Macintosh. I told him I've never been impressed by a Mac like I was impressed the first time I used a 16 MHz Mac IIcx running System 6.03 (after having used Max SEs).
I went on to tell Nathan I haven't drunk any alcohol in an entire week. (It's also been one of the least healthy weeks of my adult life.) Nathan said that was all well and good, but the moment I got around my friends again, I'd be drunk like the good old days. Sure as shit. I got $12.34 in the mail the other day from a musings reader. His preference is that I spend it on malt liquor.

Then there are things in life that are just plain sad. There are a million ways that the Universe proves its inherent injustice and one of these ways is with love. We fall in love, we fall out of love, we make pledges of eternal union because it seems like the thing to do, and then someone comes along and we decide that our choices and pledges were perhaps just a little bit hasty. And this whole series of phases serves only to damage all the parties involved. Why does this even happen? I know why, but it destroys the existential poetry of the riddle to analyze it further.
But anyway, tonight I was sad, and I never even had to get off my ass to get that way.

one year ago
back to the top
previous | next