Re: [VOID] S.F. -- also YML and FORMs references.

I Find Karma (
Tue, 5 May 1998 18:58:48 -0700

[Warning: delete now if you don't want to read my dirty laundry.
This post contains no bits, no clue, and no vision whatsoever.
But I couldn't let this [VOID]post sit and spin without my two cents.]

Once upon a time (1/t) in

Lisa wrote:
> Isn't this all pretty horrible? Where's the angst, the deep feelings
> that I used to have which drove me to write some (pretty good) short
> stories and poems in high school and university?

Believe me, if I could get rid of my angst, I would.

> Where's the deep emotion to fuel my artistic urges? I used to dread
> being old and boring. Why is it so damn satisfying to be old and
> boring?

Beats me, but I've been enjoying it for about 8 years now.

> Where's the danger, the excitement, and also the fear and
> disappointment that sometimes go along with that?

Excitement and danger cause death. You "killed" the dangerseeker
with one too many dangerous situations.

Of course that's my opinion, I could be wrong.
That's what I get for answering rhetorical questions.

> Why is it that the things which were important to me a few years ago
> just aren't as important to me now? I used to say I'd never have kids,
> that I'd be a wildly successful career woman.

I'll never have kids, and I'd like to one day end all thoughts of having
a career. Not yet, though; I'm not quite ready to kill that dream.

> I also wanted to be famous (now I don't).

I never, ever, ever want to be famous. Ever.

> But people change. Desires change. There's no use hanging on to old
> goals/desires just for consistency.

Wow. We here at FoRK really are glad when one of us (such as you)
breaks free from the immature calculating world in which we live, and
actually grows as a person enough to realize that this is life, and
there is no dress rehearsal. Good for you.

And you're right, I had the "foolish consistency" quote:

| A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by
| little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a
| great soul has simply nothing to do.
| -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, _Essays: First Series_ (1841), "Self-Reliance"

Self-reliance. Ah yes. When I get to the Rohit part of this longwinded
FoRKpost full of sound and fury, I'll return to that theme. But for now,
back to Lisa's post...

> I'm sure [Rohit] complains about not achieving as much as he wanted
> to, or as much as Newton allegedly did, but that's part of Rohit's
> odd half-humility. Really, he thinks he's pretty damn smart, but has
> realized that bragging is rarely popular. On the other hand, comparing
> oneself to high ideals and stating that one falls short is quite
> socially acceptable.

True, except when it comes across as bitching at me, as Rohit did
a few hours ago in

in which Rohit wrote:

> Realize I am completely right (in my frame of reference) when I
> believe the universe is out to get me.

I thought the number one rule of egocentricity is that


If Rohit's universe does truly revolve around Rohit,
then the only reason the universe is out to get Rohit is
because Rohit has constructed it to do so.

You want things to be different? Well, only you have the power to
reconstruct your universe. It just takes some serious work on your part.

> I, personally, am among those people slated
> never to get away with one. Always strings attached.

Cosmically, none of us can get away with anything.
That's karma, dude.

> A series of incidents in childhood, all vague now, inculcated me with a
> realization that while others may get away with it, I will always be
> caught.

Maybe you just don't see how others are always paying for their mistakes.

But this "paranoid messiah" complex of yours has GOT to go.

> It continued all the way through to freshman year, BOC'd over
> knowing the Fourier transform too well.

That's a very superficial explanation, and you know it.

> On our first 'round-the-world, when I almost got swept away into the
> Pacific.

Again, ask yourself why. It was your own hubris that put you there.

> When I filed my first patent, I had my first date, a fabulous weekend,
> and a crushing rejection in less time than it took Schwarzkopf to
> conquer Iraq.

YOU were the one who accelerated the pace. Once again it was YOU who
put yourself on that path. I'm sure you hate me preaching personal
responsibility and self-reliance when you're looking for sympathy and/or

I have a great deal of love for you, Rohit. I just want you to realize
that this isn't some Grand Divine Punishment. This is cause-and-effect.
You create the causes, and you reap the effects.

> I am convinced I cannot be lusted after (and believe me, Beltane is in
> no small measure about lust).

Attitude is everything. You CAN be lusted after, but if you don't
believe it, no one will. And IF you want to be lusted after, THEN
you should take some steps to make it so.

That said, let me get on my high horse. Lust is such a base emotion as
to not even be worth appearing on your radar of wants. It confuses your
mind and betrays you from focusing on what you REALLY want. Along with
greed and sleeplessness, it is one of the three worst frames of mind in
the human condition (Hao-Shan's words, though I wish I had said it),
because it makes you do extraordinarily irrational things. And I don't
mean compute radical two.

> {That's why I was so moved by what happened that night in Brisbane --
> I seduced a woman off another man's arms by force of wit alone.}

Manipulation of other people is not something to be proud of, you know.

> This ain't charity, life; and no one is responsible for someone else's
> happiness (love is a choice, not an obligation, and definitely a directed
> edge.)

YOU are responsible for YOUR happiness. Lather, rinse, and repeat as needed.

> {You know, I always said "I want to be needed" -- to be a critical part of
> someone else's life.

YOU are a critical part of MY life.

> The way I need Adam, for example. The deeper truth is
> "I want to be wanted".

I don't NEED you, but I WANT your friendship, your opinions, your love.

> I have learned too well how to make people need me; I
> have dozens of people I work with at any one time needing something from
> me. And I do it to friends, too, like my date from two weeks ago, who want
> to contact me and I let fall on the floor.

We can't all be 100% responsible 100% of the time. But we have to be
willing to live with the consequences when we do fail in our
responsibilities instead of making claims of the universe being out to
get us.

> I know how to tease people into knowing what good work I can do,
> getting them to need me and leaving them stretched out like taffy for
> a hit of rohit.

Sounds dangerously close to the attitude prostitutes adopt to make
themselves feel better about what they believe they have to do.

> [Aside: across the ballroom from our HTML-future meeting today, the SF
> 49ers were holding auditions for their cheerleading squad. Nearly a hundred
> drop-dead gorgeous women dressed to kill have been prowling around this
> hotel all night.

Bzzzt. Superficial judgments of beauty, that's a 15-yard penalty, first down.

> Sunday, the real world came crashing back down reminding me I hadn't
> disposed of my responsibilities.

That's because responsibilities DON'T go away. You can defer them at
some cost, but (at the risk of sounding circular) the only way to finish
them is to finish them.

> I called Adam, and I called Adam, and I called, and he wasn't there, just as
> he wasn't the Friday before when he called with devastating news about the
> crappiness of his overall work situation and an emergency retreat to SLO
> for the weekend and I was stuck on a cold, freezing mountaintop utterly
> alone by a roadside pay phone for half an hour from 3:30 to 4AM desperately
> wanting him to come back in range.

Yes, I blew it, I made a judgment call and made a decision based on my
assessment of the situation as to what was important to me, and I left
you hanging. I apologize, and I'm willing to work with you now on it.
But you have to believe me that I did what I had to do, and I hope you
respect my judgment to know that I do not take my choices lightly.

> I arrived at the meeting, hoping against hope it would be a dynamic forum
> where all kinds of insights on reconstituting HTML as a set of XML DTDs
> would emerge, but as I took on my appointed job of scribing minutes, it
> delivered less than hoped. At this moment, it's genuinely true no one knows
> the future of HTML.

Frankly, I find this much more frightening than any of your

> Adam called at 10:20 to say he'd just arrived back; he spent an extra day
> of connubial bliss in SLO and cursed himself for expecting unalloyed
> happiness to paper over his work challenges without a cost.

Interesting how you call my working on my relationship with my future
wife as "connubial bliss." I call it "hard work," which I define as
anything past the infatuation stage that is required to keep the
involved parties from drifting apart.

> About $300 in this case, the cost of waiting, hoping he'd show up
> Sunday night to help me.

The $300 is only money. I'll write you a check right now.

More important is the fact that I didn't make it there to help you.
I wholeheartedly apologize for that. But again, I didn't just fall
into that decision -- I consciously made it with my free will.
And now I'll have to live with the consequence that you trust me
less. Do I want this situation? No. But life is about choices,
and I made a choice after carefully weighing the situation.
I was engaged in the hard work of relationship maintenance, and
I didn't want to ruin the good work I'd done.

Relationships are like gossamer, and you cannot dissect gossamer to see
what makes them tick and see what keeps them going. No two situations
are alike, and if you're going for the long-distance run, you need to
learn to adapt to whatever comes next. I am still learning how to adapt
to a situation when an immovable object meets an irresistible force,
because this seems to happen a whole lot more than I think it should.

> (yes, I know precisely how pathetic that makes me sound -- I *am*)

You're not pathetic. And you're not being punished.
There's nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.

> although everyone commented on one half (FORMs) and
> no one on the half I really cared about (YML).

That's a shame. Here on FoRK it seems to be the other way around.
A comment springs up every now and then about YML -- a fascinating
thing to return to 3 months later...

But nothing on FORMs after your original bile-laden post:

Maybe it's not what you say but how you say it?

> Racing, racing, I neglected to make a reservation so early in the
> evening, that I was horrified at the half-hour wait when we got there...

I forget... isn't this why you bought a cell phone?

> That's OK, I'll call Adam and he can pick me up at BUR or LAX and we can
> continue working.

My bad -- my body started celebrating Cinco de Mayo a day early...

In the last couple of years, Lisa graduated from a tough Engineering
program, moved across the continent, bought a house, got a cat, learned
to juggle, learned to quilt, learned to sail, got engaged, made a bunch
of close friends, played in orchestras, played softball, sang in choirs,
read a lot, wrote philosophical email, cooked lots of food, and got a
job that involves technical design and going to the IETF.

In the last couple of years, I've sent my brain into shock regularly
with lots of alcohol and sociopathic behavior.

No wonder I sleep so much. I need to get some better goals. I've
enjoyed my 28 years, but what do I have to show for them? Then again,
I'm not under any obligation to make the world a better place.

[Aside because that line reminds me of a song I've been looking for.
Anyone know where I can find a copy of the single "You Don't Know Me" by
Dubcheck and Sarah Shannon?]

> I waited and waited and hung on tenterhooks until I gave up on Adam.

I'll grant you your melodrama. I should have woken up from my passed-out
stupor, and I didn't. *My* fault, *my* bad.

> "I refuse to be responsible for your happiness; I spent many years before
> realizing it's wrong to depend on someone else's happiness for your own."

She's right, you know.

> I'm responsible, responsible, responsible, even where I'm clearly not (the
> future of HTML?! As though it needed Rohit's advice!), from not upsetting
> UCI's travel budget to mortification at dinner delays and silence to
> finishing a column not even IEEE cares about getting on time.

You still miss the point -- you're still looking for people other than
yourself to blame.

If you want someone to blame, blame me. I'll do it willingly.

But if you want to take responsibility, you can't go sticking in clauses
like "even where clearly I'm not." Because responsibility isn't just
about who caused something to happen; it's also about who's willing to
clean up the mess once it HAS happened. "Even where clearly I'm not"
indicates you're still looking for someone else to blame...
responsibility means finishing something regardless of who started it.

> Meanwhile, I rightly condemn myself to the rack for failing to
> complete the simplest tasks and working day and night -- and now,
> going out, too.

Steven Wright has this joke: "You can't have everything; where would you put it?"

So to you I respond: "You can't DO everything; when would you do it?"

> It is my duty to be responsible, my character to be overcommitted, and my
> fate to be hurt as often as healed.

As I see it, you have three choices:

1. Resolve yourself to your fate and stop complaining about it.
I don't recommend you do this, however, because you're clearly on a
oneway path to a nervous breakdown.


2. Change your duty so you aren't responsible. I don't recommend
you do this either, because I'm a great fan of personal responsibility.

Which leaves us with:

3. Change your character so you don't overcommit. You cannot be loved
by everyone, you cannot do everything, you cannot be everywhere, and you
cannot endear yourself to anyone by committing to something and then
blowing them off. How hurt were you when I slept through you calling
me? Think about the number of people you hurt who were expecting you to
do things with them... it's the same kind of thing. DON'T OVERCOMMIT.
Figure out what's most important, and do that. Then figure out what's
next important, and if there's time, do that. And so forth.
Prioritize. Time is the only finite resource. Save it for the most
important things.

Changing is hard, but it is doable. Look at Hao-Shan: he assessed his
life and was willing to take the steps necessary to make the changes he
believes will help him to grow. Will this be easy? Probably not. But
is it doable? Almost certainly.

> PPS: this note was written in a single pass, in one hour and twenty
> minutes, and is fifty percent longer than my IEEE column has to be. I have
> been noodling over the latter for three weeks. You do the math.

Doing the math on the back of an envelope, I'd say you are an
overcommitted person who likes to procrastinate. Not a very good
formula for changing the world, if you know what I mean.

Then again, I don't WANT to change the world, you do.
I believe that anything I deliberately do to try to make the world
better will actually only make it worse.

YOU want to change the world. So change it.

> Fine, plunk down *$11* on a taxi for the one
> mile to the airport (this hurts a lot more, it's my personal funds).

It's only $11. I find your cheapness astounding. Rob's dad says price
is based on WHAT you want WHEN you want it. $11 seems perfectly
reasonable given your constraints.

> No comment. 'cept that Adam still hasn't called.

And did my calling really help you? Or am I just a convenient excuse?
Don't get me wrong, I like being a convenient excuse.
But Mr. Pot, this is Mr. Kettle speaking and, you're black.

> I never went front-cabin as a kid, and no one else below high-school age
> should, either.

Although I agree with you, I want to point out to you how terribly
judgmental we are for making such a statement. Who are we to tell
other people what they should do with their kids? And where's duck
to argue with me?

> Rest easy, johnboy -- if I ever did get laid, I'd probably contract a
> lingering and enervating disease that destroyed my ability to work.

Thank you, George Costanza.

> I have a healthy fear of pleasure, and with good reason.

Sex does not equal death, and you're building pleasure up to be the
be-all and end-all of human existence, which it is not.

The main problem as I see it? That you cannot relax without some kind
of externality (be it woman or wine or song or whatever). Maybe the
right time to seek professional help is now, dude. In all seriousness...


I can't spend the rest of my life coming into this stinking apartment
every 10 minutes to pore over the excruciating minutiae of every single
daily event!
-- Elaine Benes to Jerry Seinfeld, 8 years into the show "Seinfeld"