Saturday, June 30, 2007

tough/weak

This is the time period I was worrying about. Funeral's over. Wake's over. No planning, cleaning, note-writing, socializing left to do, and I have to get back into something resembling normal life. It's real quiet right now: the bird is up for the molt, work is leisurely, and there's just empty time. Too much of it.

And in that empty time the pain slips in and drives a rotary hoe over me. This week hasn't been good. It's the "never again" part that's the worst.

Everything I'm going through is perfectly normal, I'm sure, and possibly even fast-tracked. I guess this is the acceptance stage but I'm dragging my feet all the way.

Kubler-Ross's experiences with the temporarily dead led her to believe there is an afterlife, that we are met by predeceased friends and family and even pets. What we consider life is the stage before another life, and she describes it as a cocoon to butterfly transformation. I've never been much of a believer in afterlife; I'd consider it a two-edged sword. But I certainly can't prove it doesn't exist, and she has circumstantial evidence that it does. When I read that, I felt very emotional, like I'd like to believe it. Hopeful but uncertain.

If the mate is up there plucking a harp or floating around the ether I hope she's having a good time. I'd like her to. There's no way to know; you have to take it on faith and belief, of which I have never had a lot. I have to ask, is the concept of a guaranteed-pleasant afterlife of more use to the living? Is it a vehicle to get us back to feeling good, to allow us to forget what is now the past? Have you heard a widow/er utter with enviable confidence "I know s/he's in heaven now" when the subject was not all that great a human being, or even pretty much an asshole?

If you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him, for he is not the true Buddha. Never be complacent, and you'll become a better person. Not necessarily happier, but better.

Belief in afterlife leads to all sorts of nonsense (hem... rituals) for the living. Catholics burn candles and pray, Protestants and Muslims and Hindus pray, Asians sacrifice food and drink and paper cell phones and pray. We want to have some effect on the deceased soul's condition. I think that these would have very little effect on someone who is in a completely different state of being, a state we living persons cannot comprehend or conceive. However, I think that keeping a person in your heart and mind gives him/her sustenance, and prayer is just formalization of that.

If anything, I don't want to "get over" the mate. She'll always be part of my life, I will always miss her even if I find someone else. No one person can substitute for another because we're all different, we're all unique. And she was more unique than most: exceptionally intelligent, good-looking, fairly modest, silly-fun, and kind and thoughtful to boot. She had some hang-ups, depressions, there were ways in which I wished she'd been different, but overall she was the best human being I've known.

And I can only talk with her in my mind now, remember how she felt, skin muscles bone, remember her habits and tastes. I've started programming project, something that could give me a lot of kudos at work, and though I'm pretty unmotivated, I don't think I'm seriously depressed. I've been touched by it occasionally and it's a bit more frequent in this empty time. I need to go through the misery, go through the aloneness and just trust that it will ease up sometime.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

photos

Over the years I've been given a number of photo frames. A few weeks ago I dug up as many photos of the mate as I could find, and printed up a bunch. One of the frames is a 9x12 with spaces for 9 small pictures, another will take 3 4x6s, and the last is a normal 6x8 or thereabouts. So 14 pictures, and I spend a lot of time looking at them.

One of them is the very first picture I ever took of her. She's one of those people who stay looking much the same. Her hair got a little darker from not being outside as much, and a little grey at the edges, but other than that, not much change. Small photos erase a lot of detail, meaning wrinkles, but her terrific smile and impish look always blasted away these minor flaws, making her ageless, infinite...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

something strange

Throughout my life I've been occasionally touched by good luck and interesting synchronicities. For example, on our vacation to Old Europe, our chance stumbling upon the temple of the great Rabbi Low, as well as a falconer's wife who brought us to meet her husband and see his breeding project.

About four years ago I finished writing a novel. I'd written it in various forms over the course of 12 years, but the final version was completed four years ago. In it, the protagonist is lying in a coma but in his dreams is living in another world. In it he has no need for food or drink, it has superficial delights, it's peaceful, but it is a closed loop from which he cannot escape.

In the real world, he's in a hospital in San Francisco, in a room with a slightly cheesy landscape mural and a stellar view of the Marin Headlands.

The mate's room at CPMC has a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Headlands are just beyond it. While she was there, I even remarked on its similarity to the room in my story. (When I wrote it, I didn't know there was a hospital there at all; I had placed mine further down the hill, in the Marina district.) It was formerly the maternity ward, and the walls were painted peachy-pink: presumably a nesting color to encourage new mothers. Down in the basement there are two landscape murals, one in emergency's ambulance park, the other in the loading dock. They're a little bit cheesy but mostly charming: classic California mountains, redwood forests, lots of birds (including hawks), and little emergency vehicles trekking through it.

It didn't occur to me until this moment just how weird this is.

At the end of the novel, in his dream world, the protagonist decides that the only way to break out of the loop is death. He knows nothing of his situation in real life; he believes himself dead and only wants freedom from what is pleasant but still a prison. The chapter ends with him throwing himself off a cliff. And in the final chapter, his girlfriend receives a phone call from the hospital: he is conscious.

And my girlfriend, I hope, has come to in a better world, free from her own prison.

a good enough party

Which actually ran from more like 3 till 10 rather than 12 till 6, but that's never a problem.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

coming along

One of the problems I'd been having with P is him leaving the glove too early. Crows get going pretty fast, and they have a lot of sly moves. The more time the bird is in the air, the more time they have to react. After we went hawking last, my buddy R gave me some advice: keep the bird down -- ideally so he can't see the crows at all -- and pitch him out when you're where you want to be.

Works like a charm.

for my next trick

Did the family, now the friends. I'm gonna cook a few things and buy a few pre-made things for Saturday. The medical people are invited but I'm not sure how many are coming. Falconers, some people at work, and a few other friends will be there. I'm expecting maybe 20 - 25. Real hard to say.

I'd received an invitation to a party to be held the evening of the same day as the scattering. I didn't go, it just felt wrong. Sunday I meant to go hawking but blew it off cos the friend I was going to go with didn't return my call, the bastard. I was lonely and depressed cos she felt further away.

Five weeks she's been gone. It's not full-blown depression but I can feel its fingers poking at me. When this party is done I'm going to check out Kubler-Ross and see if I can find any insight there. I know all this is normal...but it doesn't feel any better for it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

the hosts file

I've usually considered the HOSTS file (\windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS) to be a fairly foolproof method of blocking websites from giving you the nasties - viruses, spyware, dialers. It's like your computer can't even see these sites. There are a few websites around that maintain lists for download. HPGuru and MVPS are two recommended sites.

However, I think I've just found out that it's not good to have a huge number of entries in your HOSTS file.

A couple weeks ago I consolidated the HPGuru and MVPS entries into my HOSTS file. This brought it to 70-75,000 entries.

Around the same time I started having problems. My machine slowed down and started getting freeze-up errors with Windows Explorer, forcing me to reboot daily and sometimes more often. I have wireless, and dialup as backup. With the wireless, my ability to connect got bad. With the dialup, the modem would connect fine, but it would take six to ten minutes before any data transfer, and occasionally it would not transfer at all.

Something else I've been running on my computer for ages is DNSKong. This is a free program that also blocks sites. Here's the main difference between using the HOSTS file and using DNSKong:

In HOSTS, you have to name the specific, full name of the site you want to block. To block all the sites from spammer.com, you have to have separate entries for every one of their names. Some of these adsites own dozens of subdomains, e.g. spamserver1.spammer.com, spamserver2.spammer.com, spamserver3.spammer.com, etc. Each of these needs a separate entry in HOSTS. Hence, your HOSTS file fills up fast. Real fast.

With DNSKong, all you do is put in spammer into the Named.txt file. This covers all the above servernames, as well as spammer.biz, spammer.net, spammer.org, etc. It covers any new additions the owner of said website might add, so long as it includes spammer as a single dotted portion of the domain name. (i.e. spammer will not cover www.spammersite.com or buy.from.a.viagraspammer.com, these would need to be added as spammersite and viagraspammer.)

Today I uploaded the contents of my HOSTS file into FoxPro, did a little mishmashing on all the .com, .biz, .org, .info and .net entries, consolidated a unique list from that, and moved them out of HOSTS and into DNSKong, bringing HOSTS down to 4300 entries.

I dialed up. Connected. Went to a bookmarked website. Got in right away, BANG.

Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

yesterday

It went well. Pretty. Flower petals float a lot better than flowers. (Thanks, mom.)

I gave her flowers that she planted in our yard, and sprigs from the bay tree and the lemon verbena. I also tossed in one of S's tail feathers. It floated on the air, spiralling, for several seconds before touching the water.

Maybe they'll go hawking in the afterlife. She'll be mugging the sea otters for their abalones for sure.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm blown away

The people at work decided to "do something for me," as it is often generically put, and my boss asked me if I had any preferences. Flowers for the ash scattering, I said. I expected a bouquet.

They showed up today. Three buckets full of about 5 dozen red roses, daisies, carnations, irises, lilies, mums, the little white things that come with roses, various greenery, and all sorts of flowers I can't name. And as if that wasn't enough, a hundred-dollar gift check.

It was amazing. I had no idea people liked me this much. I know I have a real white-hat job, but I have my annoyed days like everyone else. It was totally unexpected.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

success makes me sad

Even though P and I are having fun and excitement whomping them, there's an terrible emptiness to it, so much that even with P tearing at today's catch on my glove, I had a sudden desire to give him away and hang it all up, not just for the season but forever.

She would have gotten a kick out of it, the misses, the hits, even the scary driving. But she's not with me to share it. She would have run the camcorder, as she did quite a lot with S -- she was quite steady and could sense when the bird was really going to leave the glove or T-perch. She would have tossed the bird out the passenger window for me. In some ways she had a better sense for falconry than did I because she'd had "real" pets, like dogs and cats, as a kid. (I got stuck with goldfish, hamsters and parakeets because my parents didn't want anything bigger.)

We learned it together. She didn't want the license or the responsibility of her own bird, and was happy to enjoy it vicariously. It wasn't really vicarious, anyway; she interacted with the hawks just as much as did I. The hunting part was less interesting to her, but we made a pair that could give a hawk a good time.

Man, I miss her.

the study shows...

Recent research from the University of Vienna indicates that dogs are capable of thinking like humans. I always known they're capable of this. And that they choose not to.

Monday, June 04, 2007

driving in one piece

We caught a young and obviously sick one today. It didn't even try to fly -- P was holding it for not even 10 seconds, and it was dead. They usually have tons more fight than that. The one I'd set up as a baggie last week had rougher treatment but was trying to stand up while zipped inside my vest, growling the whole time. Today's quarry just gave up the ghost, which means it won't get fed to my bird. Could be West Nile or any manner of diseases. Bird quarry is more dangerous to a hawk than mammals since mammalian parasites don't cross over to birds.

You have to be careful driving while carhawking. I have not had anything remotely resembling a near-hit because in the quarry situation I do get extra cautious. However, I stopped at a light today, intending to check out the area beyond. There was no cross traffic, and I simply started moving, blowing right through this red light. A third of the way through the intersection I realized what I was doing and kept going, but I was pretty surprised at how distracted I'd been, simply acting on an intention without regard to other very important factors.

And carhawking *is* fun. That's another thing that makes it a bit hazardous, when you're having too much of a good time you forget things.

I think I'd better stick to the industrial parks without lights from here on. If they don't have lights, they must not have enough traffic to merit them. Therefore, safe...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

prep

Things are slowly coming along. The house has been hosed down ;) and the yards weeded and raked, the jungle has been mostly tamed. I have an idea of what I want to say when we scatter the stuff, I lost my tie and found it again, feathers of certain relatives that had gotten ruffled are now smooth. I've made lucky envelopes to hand out (Chinese tradition - a white envelope containing an odd denomination of money and a piece of candy. There should also be a white handkerchief, but that info came a little too late. It's okay, it's optional.)

And now I have nothing to do but confront my aloneness. Which is okay, it's been ongoing. This weekend are the relatives, next weekend are the friends, and after that I can relax and go back to being my usual self, and think about the future. But I really have to stop talking to myself out loud. It's a scary habit I've picked up.

I still stop short every once in a while and realize she's not there to enjoy X or give me her opinion or advice on Y, and that she'll never again. Every once in a while I can see her corpse in those early hours of the morning and remember how she was still warm. In my dreams she talks to me, which is really nice.