Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: Year in review (Or should I say 'My Head Was in the Clouds for 365 Freaking Days'?)

Tomorrow, 2006 is gone. Quite honestly, given the mess that took place in 2005 — not exclusively the 26 hurricanes, but the trouble I got in with PKMN.NET and the close realisation that it was silly to stay with such disagreeable people) — I thought this year would be better. Alas, it resulted in my deconstruction and forced me to look over the year with the hopes that all will be brighter when the little hand points to the twelve.

In the beginning of the year, we had the pleasure of watching Saddam storm out of the room (God rest his soul now). I, however, publish a sceptical review of the karma system adopted by PKMN.NET (and it's survived to this day). I also lose the last of my respect for when someone by the name of Ama but who masquerades as Encyclopika publishes a piece called Treehouse Saga, resulting in a scathing attack by this blog, which had seen darker days. Of course, four months later, the installation of a tracker (the little globe thing on the left) revealed that the author had published a retaliatory statement on her own blog. Thus led to a series of arguments between the two of us that made me decide that the site wasn't worth bothering with, except to sometimes laugh off the fact that it boasts that it's the best and latest while there remains a rocky and rough side to it. This is for you, Ama: I'm still prepared to have a go whenever I see something fishy.

Next, while PKMN.NET fades out of focus on my radar, the Pokémon Community zooms into clear view. After noticing the clash (which is no longer as perceptible) between the mods and old-time members over seniority that culminated in a defamatory Wikipedia article, I speak up, and two weeks later I'm a moderator. Of course, I have to try a second time before it really goes away, but in its place comes another splinter site or equivalent thereof, Shinou.

Finally, we had two youth summits, one hosted by the Elks Association and another by Youth2Youth International. The former gets me an admirer, while the latter gives me an opportunity to explain away the smoking problems at the arcade.

What's it all for now?

That's a good question.

I recount my mother telling me that I've had my head up too much, looking down on others. I have to say that she was right; the fact that I'd subconsciously resorted to all this in the lack of maturity probably made this year hell. I'll be honest here: You'll be happy to hear me admit that everything that incurred hatred from others, especially in school and on the forums, was my own doing some way or other.

The evidence of life going that way in school can be found on the tongues of those in my technology class. Our project required us to create a video yearbook to accompany the printed and bound one we were organising, but this yearbook would go solely to the seniors. Although I had been assigned to shot watch and editing, I, dwelling on how foolish I had made myself during the previous years, didn't do as the rubric told. Rather, I tapped away at the Macintosh computers without a single thought to the others, finally doing little more than stand guard during filming, but not before yelling at a student who had given me the role in reparation for lack of activity in shot watch. The teacher ended up marking me on par with the rest, but given the fact that I had done absolutely nothing to contribute to the film aside from a single hint at the cover art, I felt I didn't deserve a single point. If I'd foreseen this, I'd have asked to move to Mr Leitz's Java class, which I would have found of significantly more use. Even before that, I was under the delusion that I was, out of the blue, hated, but after a mediation session that knocked the reason for such hatred into my head, followed by a bungled session with another student and my sudden upsurge in work ethic in my uncle's class, I began to veer to the opposite end of the spectrum, turning from a person who demanded attention to one who had no answer to give and wanted nothing to do with the rest of the students. This went so far as a request to have my name extracted from the yearbook — at my parents' urging my picture would remain — on, as it turned out, the sole basis that I would have been labelled 'rudest'.

On the forums, my life started going up, but then it took a devastating downturn in the last few months. The restriction on teams on SuperCheats was gone on protest, I was falling out with even more people than before, and, it seems, I've lost almost all credibility as a moderator. The last few weeks were shaped by the failure of a rule that Scizz and I had fabricated to remedy tangent habits by a single member, after which I just sent Erica to announce the removal of the rule to hide my shame. Then fallouts with Kura and the Blue and Natsuki pair reveal more ignorance on my part that I hadn't squashed before. The truth in all cases here was that I was on the staff under the delusion that the forums couldn't survive without me, and in many cases I got everything horribly wrong. One time I would blame Super Cheats for not having a cohesive staff while the depression would really be rooted in my lack of professionalism as a Pokémon Community moderator. On another occasion I may have said that PC was supportive of me while Super Cheats put me down, while I in reality had flaws in both areas.

The truth is, I'm more or less a fraud. I probably shouldn't have Brigantine's school system (which I was in until 2003) shoulder the blame for it, as I had liberal psychological help while the students would be tricked into thinking I was the greatest. As I may or may not have mentioned before, I had people walking up to me asking 'Who was the sixth president?' or 'What's the square root of 7895778?' and waiting in the hopes of either a prompt answer or, more to the comedian tune, a sputter of failure to conjure an answer. This carried over into high school and PKMN.NET, where fights with the staff would lead to TPL. Soon enough, I find myself on the staff of a prominent Pokémon forum when, as was more or less demonstrated by my failure in TPL, I probably didn't have the competence. Moreover, the board I was assigned to had so few instances of infraction out of which so few occurred whilst I was online that other staff would race to it and resolve it. Not even an internal restriction of superior moderation of that board helped; I just looked for technical issues while other things could have gone on. The same, interestingly, may hold true for my supermarket job, although many have said that it was for the best; I'll have to analyse that later.

As a result, I went around asking for resolution ideas. All I wanted was someone in my age group who I could call on in real life and who could relate to me and point out what I was doing wrong. All I had was a group of girls with whom I would sit at lunch and laugh gaily for thirty minutes, and I was innately afraid of bringing anything up with them. It's no matter, though; I probably will not see them again until 29 January, when internships end. As for the seniors, I may have just seen the last of them; they're going to remote locales for internships and either going to the ACCC campus for the rest of the semester or working at those locales. If not for the decision to take online courses, I'd have opted just to stay off campus and work full-time at the supermarket. I suppose it's too late now, unless I reimburse the school for $300 for failure by default.

Then again, I hope to attend a college far away from home, so I can start anew without any of these problems chewing my back. The next step will be applying, and by now they've all gone into rolling basis mode. I'm screwed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

To the AAMAYL searchers....

I'm noticing that lots of people have turned up this blog looking for the fan fiction piece 'A Day Inside May'. This fan fiction has been removed in's pruning process.

The closest you can get is this.

...Let's not do the 'part' scheme, let's just get around to the summary of the past three days

As suggested by the previous entry, I have spent two hours out of each of the previous two days as well as today learning to drive. Submitting to my request that we get an independent instructor, we hired out of Safety First and out came a lad named Justin at 6.15pm yesterday.

As soon as I got into the car, my heart started to race. I was on a road restricted to 15 miles per hour (due to a few people down the road). I decided to tap the accelerator when I was told that we were still in park. I moved to drive position and started slowly down the road until we came to the stop sign, at which point I felt my arms lock. For the first day, my steering and method thereof generally was wanting — whereas I would witness quick motion of the arms crossing over as others turned, I remained to shuffling shyly around the steering wheel. This ended up dogging me the entire night, during which we cruised around Galloway Township and Port Republic. The instructor seemed to know the parts, although I was merely familiar with the route numbers. After a few juggles with the wheel whilst trying to remain in the lane and braving a six-way junction in Absecon (my classmates know the one), I finally managed to drop off a previous student and make my way back to Brigantine. I didn't want to share my experiences in public that day; I'm lucky the entry below is here.

The second day, following some words of confidence from table friends*, I met the instructor yet again, this time waiting in the roundabout in front of the school. I cautiously made my way out and we headed for Galloway yet again. This time glare, not curves, posed the problem, although it was only when we retreated into Linwood that I finally managed, painstakingly, to execute a proper, non-shuffling turn in a work zone of all places. The highlight, though, was parallel parking: We made our way to a park and the instructor took a few cones and poles out of the boot. My objective would be to scoot by the cones until the smudge on the back starboard of the car lined up with the forward pole facing the street, reverse, turn the wheel full right, and back up until anothe smudge lined up, and so on as many of my driving friends would know. I'll leave it to them to explain the 'K' turn. Nevertheless, this continued for ten trials or so until it came time to pick up the next client.

Today, I started at 4.00pm. We made our way out once more and took the previous client home in Egg hrabour Township. Once that was done, we took the promised shot at the city, Ocean City. Once we had covered a few blocks in the city and my turning had improved, we outed and went to the Linwood client again. When we parked outside a pub in Brigantine, the instructor filled out a few forms for me to deliver and I walked off, realising only a few seconds later that the pub was closed on Wednesdays.

* I don't sit with the seniors, due to irreconciliable differences. Rather, I now sit a table with five nursing juniors, a culinary student, and one senior. They're all female, and are interestingly enough those I didn't like in the beginning due to their social mischief. I've settled down with them now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Driving school: Part I

A pot binge downs the Ski Club. A girl's given birth and one junior is already pregnant to the rumour. That's in school, whilst I'm in the car. For the first time, I'm on the driver's side.

This isn't pushing them as a kid. This is driving school. Real pedals, real gas, nothing to stop you except counters from your instructor. Today was day one, starting at 6pm outside the house. The objective would be to drop off a kid in Galloway and then tour Port Republic.

  • I need to make sure the lever is in the right position before I push the gas.
  • Due to nerves, my arms are always locking. When I turn, I find it hard to execute a decent one due to these arms. I guess I'll get over that.
  • I need to look on my right. I have a map at home that requires you to drive on the left, so that's somehow influenced my thinking for the past few years.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vote for your favourite member!

...not elected officials, as I missed doing as my birthday was on Election Day.

Rather, I'm talking about class superlatives. As seniors, we're involved in the creation of a student yearbook, printed and bound as well as video. on Thursday, we were handed out leaflets polling us on whom would fit for superlative categories. A few weeks earlier, though, I had approached the head of the yearbook development department and made a decision that shattered everyone: I asked her to omit and substitute my name if it were listed as a superlative. Only two weeks ago I had fought with my parents to not have my pictures taken, which I found to be extremely stupid in retrospect (I ended up getting them taken in the end). While the latter turned out to be calamitous for me, the former decision both surprised and infuriated the seniors. As people ticked off the leaflets, I found that my motive could have been justified by two details:

  • Two members short-listed me as 'rudest'.
  • I had, as I told Brandon on PC, done a right job of deceiving and berating people in a daze of thought of my own academic prowess. In reality, though, my grades were standard and I had been found to be unfairly advantaged by my middle school in the conclusion of a peer mediation session. I even found myself to be an entity apart from the rest of the class at times. Finding it hard to admit this, I simply wrote a short Word document and printed it to hand to my homeroom teacher in what was probably cowardice.
Not a decisive detail, though, was the declining respect I had for such a system. Back in middle school, when I was voted to be the most intelligent and artistic male, I saved face simply by not voting for myself or even skipping categories. These days, though, the desire to have a photo in the section became more and more compelling. One of the guys went around as we typed up paragraphs in the library and asked people to vote for him as the most attractive male; in reality, he was good-looking, but a pregnancy by him as well as his ostentation, which annoyed me chronically but not severely, beset him. One of the girls even shouted in response, 'If you go around asking people they won't vote for you!'

Point well made. Then, however, I realised that this was exactly what happened on forums, or could happen. As many readers know, the Pokémon Community manages to get away with Member of the Month threads without a mass of hype that would come as it did with the yearbook, even considering that there are less than 60 people in the graduating class. Some months, though, this is due to lack of interest or a narrowed field of acquaintance. Elsewhere, and I'm sure PKMN.NET has experienced this, such threads start generating 'VOTE FOR ME!' spam. Although such resorts indicate that the person behind it isn't nearly as qualified as those that would naturally be voted for (and it's a proven fact — do you see Forest Grovyle trying to champion her work?), they still do it, and the threads are eventually canned.

Although I don't like the system, I still go to the Member of the Month threads and vote. Over there, the honours are temporary and are unlikely to reflect the real person as known by real-life friends. In the yearbook, though, it'll be accessible to those in the family who want to inquire about the past, especially the kids. If it's seen in the yearbook that you were recognised as the rudest, it will reflect off anyone voting it. If it's seen that you were the most intelligent or artistic, they'll probably challenge it — and all they'll get is a subway or alley map. For that matter, they'll challenge you on your intelligence — Stephen Hawking, regardless of whether he had the honour in his yearbook, is probably challenged so many times. For me, the fact that I had made such a big point of my intelligence makes me cringe even today — I'm bombarded by questions even at the register, there are girls who appear to like me on the grounds of my supposed intelligence, and there are the guys at the corner who try to make me recall an image with my eyes shut or prophesy something. And I've done it for so long, sometimes arrogantly. And it needs to stop. But the cost of leaving it behind will probably mean the loss of many admirers, but maybe it is worth it if they're there to challenge me....

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The people upstairs

I am terribly sorry I didn't blog this, but it took place on the day of my previous entry and was followed by an actual day at work.

In order to graduate, we're required to undergo interships — two weeks if you're taking a college course during the second semestre, four weeks otherwise — with a potential employer in the field of our major (in my case computer science). Last Tuesday we were given a series of seminars about presentation in a job interview in order to prepare us for the following day, when interviews would take place. The first was the course director discussing how to dress and present in an interview, which basically meant many of us would have to borrow blazers from her the following day.

The second, though, subjected us to the treatment: the senior cosmetology class. We filed in and sat down to have our fingernails manicured and hands washed at the first layer, and then they sent us up to dip our hands in some container. When I neared the container and viewed the prohibitive orange contents before turning toward the hands in mitts and plastic bags, I was slightly apprehensive. I was then to learn that it was a deep wax, which was supposed to clean out the lower layers of the hand skin. I still had the mitts on and my fingers were held together by this solution when the fire alarm sounded. Once everyone was outside, one other student's hands became cold and asked for a mitt, so one cosmetology student took mine off and massaged the wax, which had now hardened, off my hands. How great to have my fingers move again!

Once that was over, it was a job application course hosted by a recruiter for the Harrah's properties. That ended the interview courses, leaving us to wait the following day to forage for dress shirts and pants to dress in for the interviews. I was the only one staying at the school to complete the internship, so I went upstairs and spoke to the head of the IT department.

As I explained earlier, people had been using proxy addresses to gain access to MySpace (for the most part). The man I was going to talk to that Wednesday morning was the guy who made sure it didn't happen. I sat down and picked up my course description and we began to talk. After I asked him about the environment of the rooms upstairs, we lapsed right into a talk of how bad the video game console war and then how calls from downstairs turned out to be very funny causes such as stray plugs. Then, he told me something shocking: The whole network had to be refitted. The old Dells had to come out last year since many programmes such as the NCLEX courses refused to work on the old Dells, so in came the flatscreens at bargains from Dell due to the educational cause. The old laptops were being phased out as they required external NICs, which would be bumped against stack pallets, damaging the hardware. There were even some Inspirons bought five years ago that had succumbed to damage one way or other (he noted that it had become cheaper to buy a new computer than to replace the LCD screen) and would no longer boot up. That explained the introduction of the WiFi-optimised Latitudes.

The most shocking thing of all was that Novell was going to go as well. It turned out that NetWare 6 would be the last proprietary operating system Novell was to produce before it would build verything in Linux. (It had bought SUSE, making this possible.) While this wasn't a concern for the school (although it was a lamentation as NetWare could not be hacked due to the use of its IPX protocol), course programs would also reject NetWare. On top of that, Novell was not lenient with pricing for eductaional purposes. This meant that the system was going right over to Windows Server 2003. (Whether it'll allow ESS to affect Macs this time around, as BorderManager had a little ground there, remains to be seen.)

Shocked by the new development, we concluded our interview. It was fun talking to him, as we managed to laugh throughout at how the developments came to be, but the fact remined that if things weren't to get done with the system by end of break, I'd have a lot of work on my own hands. But it's an intership, and we're putting this on our résumé, so I'm personally ready.