*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

Tim welcomes any input that you, the dear reader, might have. Comments are very much appreciated, especially if you have a dissenting opinion. If you'd like to learn more about Tim, you might want to see his facebook or google+.

Also: Tim is a very avid consumer of various sorts of music. You may be interested in his playlists!

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I figured I'd keep a separate post for the progression of this thing. The colors are really starting to come out.


After the first washing:

Second washing:

Fifth washing:

Two-thirds done peeling:

Edit: My server has been down for over a year, so I popped a few photos on photobucket in the meantime.
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This is the post the you're going to read before you harass me with repetitive questions.

TATTOO?! Aren't you aware of what you're doing?!

Yes, I'm aware that tattoos are permanent. Yes, I'm aware that people change and minds change. Yes, I'm aware that skin gets old and wrinkly. Yes, I'm aware that not everyone likes tattoos. Yes, I'm aware that it hurts like all hell (obviously, at this point).

But I thought Tim was such a smart boy! What went wrong?

Nothing went wrong. You don't have to be a miscreant to get a tattoo, and they're not as uncommon as you think. If you're implying it's a foolish choice to get a tattoo, well, just about anyone that has a tattoo will disagree with you. The naysayers are rarely those with tattoos - and in general, those that regret their tattoos got them while completely blasted with their frat buddies. That's a fact.

Where would you get such a stupid idea from?

The same place anyone gets an idea from - other people. Nobody suggested it to me, but two people in my sociology class were discussing their tattoos, and I found myself intrigued and looked into it myself.

How did you decide you wanted a tattoo at all?

I can't really say, it was just something that really interested me. You don't know you want one until you find what you want.

What is that? A flaming wombat?

That's a phoenix.

That's gay. Why would you get a phoenix?

Traditionally, a phoenix represents immortality, regeneration, and rebirth. As I was reading Mere Christianity, it struck me that these are themes heavily carried within my faith, but ill-represented in popular culture and within the faith itself. The phoenix has been occasionally used in early church history, but never made its place as a standard symbol, given its stronger mythological nature that couldn't be altered towards Christianity's needs.

If you don't know, the general idea is that a phoenix will live for several hundred / thousand years (depending on where in the world you are), and at the end of its life cycle, will make itself a death nest (in some lore it would be a nest of cinnamon twigs) and its ashes will produce a phoenix egg, continuing the cycle.

Along with having some very nifty lore that, for whatever reason, manages to stay consistent across many cultures (and indeed it's bizarre that it exists in multiple, independant cultures at all), it also carries a lot of fantasy weight to it. I had considered a dragon, but really, they're overdone and don't represent much. It carries the imaginative weight that other mythological creatures do, but maintains a sense of meaning and purpose to it.

On top of all that, the colors are my favorite. I've had orange on black as my font coloring for years, now. My forum/IM avatars and desktop backgrounds are generally dark, and were for a very long time orange on black (in fact, the fractal I have right now is what I've been using for a very long time). It's just a color scheme I love, and it takes a really wicked and unique form in the shape of a phoenix.

Where'd you get the design?

For those that haven't seen it:

I found it after about three hours of searching the internet. I have no idea who made it, and I tried my best to find out, to no avail.

How much did it hurt, how long did it take?!

A shitload. But, no pain, no gain. If you want some kind of idea of what it feels like, imagine a very precise power sander, or the feeling of a dull knife quickly running across your skin. The artist noted that I chose a pretty intense spot. Portions of the design run across my sternum - which produced some pretty intense pain that I really can't describe, but it sucked major balls. It makes it very hard to breathe and it's impossible not to focus on it. The stuff closer to my armpit hurt more, and as well as the stuff near my collarbone.

Much of the pain was multiplied by the presence of shading. Though the picture makes it hard to see, there are no outlines in my tattoo - it's all done in shades, no hard-set lines anywhere. She did the black first, which wasn't so bad - because there were large amounts of it in each area, and it progressed fairly smoothly, there was something of a numbness to it all. However, when she ran across it in red, she started at the beginning - my skin had gone from numb to raw, and the sporadic nature of the coloring prevented any real numbness. The orange was equally bad. There wasn't too much yellow, thankfully.

I was in the studio for three and a half hours, but the time spent needling was one hour and fifty-five minutes. That's a lot, and I'm not sure I could have lasted much more than two and half hours. I started sweating like nobody's business the minute she started - it was REALLY nasty.

How much did it cost?

$190. A $50 deposit was required when I handed her the design and made the appointment. She charge $100 an hour, but said she'd have capped it at $225. I also left a $20 tip.

Why's it all shiny and crap? It looks messed up.

Tattoos take approximately ten days to heal. Given that the process is essentially leaving a giant, pretty wound on your skin, the first thing that happens is you bleed. Colors will be distorted by the blood and by the irritated/rash appearance of your skin. There's also a lot of excess ink. My tattoo is currently raised off my skin from the excess ink, but as I continue to wash it, that will fade. At the same time, the tattoo will start to scab, as any wound would. This will create a glazed, dull, speckly appearance. Once the scabs fade, the dead skin needs to come off, which will make it appear flaky (and cause it to itch like nobody's business).

That whole process will eventually leave the tattoo looking like it should - but as is, it's a shadow of what it will be.

Where'd you get your tattoo? Why there?

Medusa tattoo, it's a little place run by a rather nice woman. I chose there because she had a really excellent portfolio - her work was pretty awesome, the place was clean, and I felt comfortable. Other places in town didn't look quite as good, and as I learned from guys at work, I made the right choice. Looking at the results has pretty much confirmed this.

What do your parents think?

I don't know. I didn't consult them before making this decision, but I did inform them I was getting one.
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I'll have tattoo pictures in about five hours.


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I've often wondered how I came to learn much of what I know. More specifically, I'm intrigued by the processes I use to learn, rather than where I've learned it all - as the sources didn't teach me how to seek knowledge, but instead just gave me the knowledge.

A standard practice of my learning is my utilization of a large variety of resources. It's fascinating how many people I can talk to that will never interact with each other, and thus I can safely approach without fear of overlap, but still receive a wide variety of thoughts and experiences outside my own. My long-standing tendency to befriend people older than myself helps a lot with this, too.

Some of these are friends, whom aid by walking ahead of me (as the majority of my friends have been older than me, since the beginning) and allowing me to watch as they make lots of stupid mistakes. A few are mentors - not necessarily teachers, but the handful of guys I looked up to and seek out for advice and clarification. The last group would be my 'audience'. The audience consists of all the people that get to experience the end product, and then supply feedback on where I am. These would be family, friends, acquaintances (peers and co-workers), and superiors (elders, teachers, bosses).

My process of learning begins before there's even a real problem to address. At the earliest hint or inkling of any new issue, I inflate whatever I experience to what feels reasonable to me, in order to justify a measurable reaction. Reasonable is traditionally defined by how I see those I respect handle similar conflict within their lives - but as time marches on, I move closer to perceptual independence. I know that realistically, my situation is often a far cry from what most people are truly experiencing, thus when I set out to learn more about what a whole situation is about and how to deal with it, I preface everything with the knowledge that I'm young and inexperienced. The boons from this are twofold: my chosen teachers are more inclined to share what they have to know due to this candid confidence in them, and they're also less likely to alter their translation in an attempt to appear more or less than what they truly are. If they know they're not being judged for their views, but instead being relied on, they're infinitely more willing to offer honest advice without consideration for bias. I can then make use of the availability of multiple extreme viewpoints, and taking them all into consideration, find the happy median, a balanced portion of everything I've heard.

Take a case example: for much of my early pubescence, I was entirely convinced of my need for some kind of romantic relationship. Some of the motivation for this could be cited towards bizarre parental relations (or lack thereof) in early youth, but looking back, it seems to me that I was attempting to tackle a problem that many men don't ever figure out how to address, even into their last years. Spawned out of the rather irrational fear that I may have to deal with it for the rest of my life, I felt rushed to exterminate a weakness that I saw plaguing men greater than myself.

This is the formula I concocted, as best I can tell.

Step one: Encounter a new feeling that, ultimately, is insignificant. Examine it and compare it with what I know I could and should be feeling, were I in enhanced circumstances.

Two: Consider existing evidence on the matter and start watching others live out the situations I'm imagining myself in. It's like living vicariously, but just taking notes on how other people are stupid and where I can afford to make mistakes. Once I've collected some concept of what's normal and healthy, I start making more active efforts at addressing my self-made problem.

Three: Start discussing. Highly depending on the nature and sensitivity of the situation, but in general, I'll find five different people I can trust to provide varied opinions on how reasonable my feelings are (remember that I've exaggerated everything in my head - what comes out to other people will sound significantly more realistic and reasonable than what I'm truly experiencing). A rough number, but I'll keep talking until I feel satiated in the amount of information I've collected and the perspectives I've both assumed and received on the situation. I'll process the information over (most typically) a week.

Four: Settle on one person to bring all my findings to that I haven't talked to yet and present my situation and conclusions, but offered in the same manner as with my other friends - a dire need for advice, regardless of what I've learned thus far.

Five: Adjust, adapt, and record. I've successfully learned how to solve a problem that I haven't experienced. By amplifying all my feelings in the situation and imagining myself in more epic circumstances than exist in reality, I push my perspective to a place that it won't otherwise go.

People do a lot of things that they never realize.

I think too much.
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If you go back a few days, I wished life were as easy to win as the internet.

I'm not so sure it isn't.

Examining the elements of interaction is all it takes to see that dominating the way I communicate is merely a matter of adaptation and methodology. The formula increases in complexity when you bring it into real-life situations, and demands a much higher reaction time and capability to think on your feet, but the process is the same, in the end. Bear with me, here.

In any internet interaction, it's always a matter of reading comprehension, followed by finding the pressure points in what another person's saying. If you know what you're doing, you can identify these sensitive spots just based on simple pattern recognition, with enough experience. Identifying familiar patterns goes a long way in saving your words for when it matters, which is necessary to preserve your own sanity, as well as the perception that will be drawn around you. It all comes down to what kind of persona you're trying to emit, and how that persona is to counter the persona of your victims (or potential allies). So, I suppose the key tenets would be:

1) Don't waste words. That doesn't mean be reclusive, but save a response for when a response is both called for and productive. If you're doing it right, you'll be impossible to trap into circular or never-ending arguments (which degrade your image and sap your energy), and your words will be seen as something that shouldn't be ignored.

2) Know your target. Identify your subject of communication, but more importantly, know your subject's tendencies and qualifications. This is necessary to ensure that you aren't trying to bullshit someone that knows more than you do, but also for stocking your bag of tricks. Watching how others communicate with your target is the best method for collecting knowledge on your target; approaching unknown entities is not advisable. Lurkers are dangerous for this same reason, as they rarely reveal enough to grant an understanding of their patterns, but often have the patience and the know-how to cripple any discussion on the table, and thus must be avoided, and confronted with caution.

The best knowledge will be in the form of key phrases and buzzwords that they react positively AND negatively to (depending on how you want them to react), an understanding of their favorite topics and the topics with which they have the most experience, a smattering of personal information (primarily gender, political affiliations, marital/child status, and location), and an understanding of their true personality. Their true personality is not what will be displayed at all times, but the causality behind everything they say.

3) Know your goals. Every interaction has a goal. Generally, you're either looking to corner them as efficiently as possible, or you're looking to generate a positive response (via humor, a thoughtful post, encouragement, or sharing interests). You can do both, of course, and it's the best words that do just that. You have to know what you're aiming to do. Aim for a simple goal (produce a quality counter-flame), and then work up. Not every encounter will be a supreme victory. To dominate, sitting on the sidelines to wait for the opportunity to rip face will just not do. Sometimes you have to settle for mediocre, to build up towards the truly winner moments.

4) Know your available methods, AKA know yourself. Knowing what you're good at is what it's all about. Focusing your strengths on the vulnerabilities of your target is what's it all about, and unless you know what your strengths are, you can't even begin to do that. That's why arrogant newbies suck.

My point in writing all this is that if you're careful in examining all of that, it's pretty easy to realize that all of that transfers perfectly over to real-life interaction. The way I write about it sounds incredibly manipulative and subversive, but I'm inclined to think it's just a realistic look at how people interact in a semi-anonymous manner. The rules and boundaries change when you bring it into the real world. The taboos change and what's effective here isn't worth a thing there. It's all a matter of pattern recognition in general interaction, and then identifying what's most effective for communication on an individual basis.

My preliminary tests suggest that I'm not off target.
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For some reason, I feel like posting this here. It's an email that I doubt any of you will find meaningful.

date: Sep 23, 2007 10:26 PM
subject: Communication & Moderation


I have no real way of knowing how interested you are in the workings of the communities outside of If you aren't at all, then I can safely say this email won't interest you. If you are, I'd like to ensure another player-run forum doesn't blow up in the face of the game.

I'm sure you know by now that has now sunk, being the replacement. While it is self-described as not being focused on SK, it does have a section devoted to SK. With that, it has the potential to enrich or degrade SK, just as SKLogs did. Communication goes a long ways towards ensuring that history doesn't repeat itself. That might sound cliche, but there's a lot we can learn from SKLogs.

The relationship between and SKLogs was abysmal, at best. Its origins were humble enough, but time saw a massive schism between the two, when really, they're both working to try and make the game more fun for everybody. I don't need to describe SKLogs' devolution; we both know what the problems were and why they were so bad. But, I think it was a necessary problem for the community to face. SKLogs made mainstream what supamang and Chemhound did in the pseudo-underground. It forced the players and the staff to make a very conscious choice about how they played the game from an OOC perspective. Not visiting SKLogs meant sacrificing a huge wealth of information as well as a very large social connection to the other players. That wasn't the case, before. Additionally, the wealth of information created an illusion of necessity - players seeking to maintain their status as knowledgeable and elite felt required to read and participate in order to stay on the "bleeding edge" of competition inside the game.

While it is easy to decry such an obviously weak attitude towards the game, most players don't, even now, realize that they were so immersed in the cycle. History seems to indicate that there's no way to change these trends - which is why a place without moderation became such a powder keg, self-destructing in a pile of chaos and flames. With this, we're presented with the same situation, but with fresh experience and knowledge to learn from. A player-run site is a necessity for SK. As one forum passerby, Joebones notes: a strong player-run forum is a sign of good health in and outside of the game. There has to be a place where players can go to be moderated less strictly - otherwise they'll get fed up, and something on the extreme will appear, like another SKLogs.

I am (for the time being) moderating the SK section of Java's site. Her goal (as well as mine) is to eliminate the presence of information that detracts from the game - working out what kind of information that is, exactly, isn't easy. That's why I'm writing this. A successful player-run SK forum (or subsection of a forum, as they case may be) should be focused on complementing existing structures and material without fighting against the ideals of the game. I think I need your help to do that - if you're willing to provide it.

From what I can tell, a major portion of SKLogs' failure was derived from a lack of communication. What would you like to see in this player-run community? Where should it differ from How can I make sure the two aren't working against each other? How comfortable are you with any of this?

Thanks for your time and consideration. I hope I'm not too long-winded, but I thought I should be thorough about all this.

Salandarin / Tim
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I wish real life was as easy to win as the internet.


If all it took to succeed was a keen command of the English language and the ability to think ahead of a large group of douchebags, I'd have things pretty well taken care of.

I think I might have to write a book about this.
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My car just died.

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oh, yes.
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Working on a new design, again. My creativity's rusty.
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As children, the primary goal for our elders is to show us, by whatever means necessary, that the world does not revolve around us. Cultural nuances are what these people are attempting to instill within us: standards of common courtesy & manners, tradition, honor & respect. These form the foundation necessary for normal interaction within one's world. How one creates and defines one's world is another ocean of intrigue entirely - today, I ponder upon the evolution of our idea of self, among a sea of other selfs.

Generally, we define assholes by their sense of self versus our own and/or those we care for. How dare he let his dog shit on your lawn? What did his mother ever teach him? Probably nothing, lol.

I'm more and more convinced that personality is a matter of how well one can alter one's perspective at will. This ability is more commonly known as keeping an open mind - but so many are convinced that the expansion of the mind is more related to politics, than to every day interactions, that few even ponder the true depth of such a concept. The open-minded person is capable of empathizing and sympathizing with every person and every situation with the fullest extent of his or her heart. This is an ability most often attributed and reserved for therapists, yet why would we try and treat such a fantastic trait with such aloof disdain by quarantining it to something so limited as a counseling session?

kaika_sk: I guess it is because of my interest in psychology that I love learning about people.
salandarin: exaaaactly
kaika_sk: Its kind of a hobby, I observe people everywhere I go.
kaika_sk: Probably why I tend to troll the forums instead of posting.
salandarin: i enjoy both sides of the equation. observing other people as they react to me allows me to observe myself in a more objective manner, but i get to learn about other people and myself at the same time
salandarin: i like to think of each interaction as a chance to improve on the last one
salandarin: constant state of improvement!
kaika_sk: *nods* That makes sense.
salandarin: it's kind of like the real-life RPG ;)
salandarin: i wish more people thought of life like that.
salandarin: which might sound kind of conceited, but a lot of people have given up on improvement and growth
salandarin: and instead are just gunning for breaking even, survival
kaika_sk: I agree, I mean, I think too many people are not really seeing the bigger picture.
salandarin: i sort of understand - experiencing just two weeks of constant work work work work gave me a real case of tunnel-vision, it's so easy just to get lost in the details of life
salandarin: life can be lonely and embittering if you don't keep perspective
kaika_sk: Well, I think right now for myself, I am in the survival mode, but more so because of my financial situation, I just don't have the time or energy for more.

This is my point. Why do we lose sight of self-improvement? The primary focus of our social education in youth is how to play nice with others. Yet once that eighteen or so years of learning are done, we somehow come to accept that "people are the way they are", that who we've become by the time we have our degree is who we'll be, for the most part, to our death-beds. It's a state of docile acceptance: we treat our personalities and our perspectives as concrete, immovable objects that cannot be improved or harmed. Our environments and circumstances only "unlock" certain aspects of ourselves, good and bad (such as depression or contentment). Why are we content with what's enough to make it through life, when we could be emotional and social giants, building each other up with even the most minute interactions?

Idealism sucks balls.
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"Hey, Kyle, hold up a second."
» "Yeah, buddy, what's up?"
"This really isn't working out."
» "How's that?"
"I'm going bat-shit; I'm double scheduled two nights this week. I miss a day at the restaurant, my ass is totally fired. I make more on a slow night there than I do during a full day here."
» "So you're quitting?"
"What other choice do I have? I fucked up planning ahead, and here I am. I figured if I could make it through this week I'd be fine, but this was the breaking point. And the planograms. Ugh, the planograms. I'm sorry, man."
» "Nah, don't worry about it. I saw it coming anyways."
» "I figured it'd be some time this week. You're really good at this, you did a great job, but I totally understand."
"Thanks. It sucks balls, but what the hell else am I gonna do? I mean, shit, I promised myself I wouldn't get caught working Sundays, yet here I am. I missed a friend's funeral yesterday for work, I'm at my wit's end."
» "So what're you gonna do?"
"Find a job that's okay with me working two days in the week? I don't know where the hell I could do that, but I'm sure there's something."
» "Not likely."
"I can't take doing the corporate crap. I'm serious about the planograms. You know how long I spent moving shredder lubricant yesterday? Damn, talk about a lifeless task. How do you put up with it?"
» "Working at Borders wasn't so bad, it was a little more free-form, but it's all the same in the end. You put shit on a shelf, sometimes it's more specific than others. Management isn't so bad, there's some thought to it, but it's a job like any other."
"I guess so, but I don't think I could handle that, either. The bureaucracy of quotas..."
» "You'll never get away from that, don't even try. It's just the way any business works."
"Maybe retail's not for me, then."
» "The quotas are always there, even if they aren't called that. You go to a law firm, you better be damn sure you have enough clients, win enough cases, it's the same anywhere you go."
"I'll find something."
» "Hah. Don't be a stranger, man. Stop by. I'm not mailing your paycheck, either, you gotta come pick that shit up."
"Yeah, alright."
» "My first trainee quits after three weeks. Fucker."
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After dumping forty hours of my skilled-ass labor into America's economy, I realized that my dignity comes at a higher price than a retail store has to offer. I'm flipping Office Depot the bird, as it were, and saying NO to shit like planograms and rewards cards. Quotas just aren't my thing.

You've probably never seen a planogram - it's just a diagram for where crap goes in the store, and they get updated based on the whim of some executive with ADD. I have never felt more useless in my life when I spent thirty minutes moving shredder lubricant from one side of the store to the other. It's a glorified version of running in circles.

It also feels (morally) wrong to encourage people to spend money on stuff they don't need. It feels brainwashing to go through powerpoint after powerpoint of training exercises so that I can complete quizlets to show I understand what Office Depot is about. Nothing disgusts me more than corporate blather. Sure, they have a purpose; they want their employees to feel alright about who they're working for, they want to make sure everyone's on the same page.

Besides, I just don't work Sundays. I'm not sure where along the line I figured I would be okay with sacrificing that.
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I wonder how this phoenix will turn out.

I wonder what Colorado will be like in four months.
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