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  • BrainStream

    A stream of consciousness from the brain of B.K. DeLong

    05/29/2001

    I’ve spent the last few

    Filed under: B.K. DeLong @ 12:36:35 am

    I’ve spent the last few days recreating a piece of my adolescence - a cassette tape of mixed music given to me by my friend
    Erica Quin (affectionately known as EJQ) on October 9, 1993. You see, Erica was mostly responsible for the type of music I
    spend most of my time listening to. (The other, of course, are influences from my mother of all people and the hours of href="http://www.greenlinnet.com/">Celtic and New href="http://www.narada.com/">Age music that wafted through the house during my childhood).

    “Why do that?” you might be asking yourself? Why live in the past? Well, this particular tape has phenomenal memories with
    it. When I’d get some new music as a kid (through college), I’d play the thing over and over until it was ingrained in my head
    and I was bored of it. One such “memory” of actually listening to the tape is when I was cleaning the garage one fine summer
    weekend at home. However each of the songs remind me of some of the most fun, intellectually stimulating, and “living life”
    times I’ve ever had - it reminds me of NoHo, Massachusetts (Northampton to you laypeople).

    I remember spending many an evening at the Iron Horse Music Hall listening to
    some great folk, Celtic, or singer-songwriter music. I can remember drinking bitter (but real) hot chocolate in the basement
    of The Haymarket Cafe - a
    used bookstore piled to the ceiling with old books with comfortable places to kick back. I remember looking at all the fun,
    useless stuff at Faces being sure to catch all the Polaroids of previous patrons on
    the wall before I headed out the door. I remember cruising through the shops in href="http://www.thornesmarketplace.com">Thornes Marketplace and stopping by the Northampton Ticket Office to see what
    musicians were coming through the area, picking up a calendar but never using it. I remember frequent visits to href="http://www.crocker.com/~pridnjoy/">Pride and Joy for wacky and off-the-wall buttons and bumper stickers while
    sneaking peaks at the toys in the back. I remember eating cold Sesame Noodles and Sesame Chicken with a cold Stewarts Root
    Beer at the Vermont Country Deli. I remember filling up a 3lb bag of candy at
    Sweeties. I remember it all and more.

    *shakes off fog of flashback* I have a very sensitive memory. Not that I can remember things down to the detail….and I
    even can have a lousy short-term memory. It’s just that certain smells, songs, and tastes will bring back a flood of memory
    that can sometimes go to when I was a toddler. Like there’s this Billy Joel song (can’t remember it off the top of my head)
    that I associate with this one Kings Dominion (Virginian Amusement Park) trip I
    took with a church group back in middle school.

    Anyway, putting this musical puzzle back together hasn’t been easy. At first, I figured I’d look for the tape….it
    couldn’t have strayed too far from the case it was given to me in. However the organizational state of my office (or lack
    thereof) made that a rather boring and tedious possibility. So I took to the Internet, hoping I could piece this fabulous mix
    back together through MP3s found on various P2P music trading sites. Since most of my waking daylight hours are spent glued to
    a computer screen with WinAMP playing my huge 20hr playlist of music, this seemed like the most logical decision.

    My task? To find these songs:

    Side A:
    Hole in the Bucket - Catie Curtis
    French Illumination - disappear fear
    (?) - Jane Siberry
    Only for a Little While - Heidi Berry
    Kill the Messenger - Shawn Colvin
    Into the Fire - Sarah McLachlan
    All Souls Night - Loreena McKinnett
    Dance Without Sleeping + Place Your Hand
    - Melissa Etheridge
    time after time - everything but the girl
    Witches - the Cowboy Junkies
    Side B:
    Thanksgiving + Fall Upon Me - Poi Dog Pondering
    This Eye + Circle - Edie Brickell
    Everything Possible - Fred Small
    Testimony + Ancient Mother - Justina and Joyce
    African Ivory - the Samples
    Disneyland - Dada
    Come a Long Way - Michelle Shocked
    Alright for Now - Tom Petty

    So I started with the songs I already had - which unfortunately only consisted of “Thanksgiving” from Poi Dog Pondering
    (which I downloaded a few months ago while I was reminiscing) and “Ancient Mother” from Justina & Joyce. I also had
    “Testimony” from their “So Strong” album but when I ripped that CD, I forgot to get the track info and lost the listing. So I
    finally looked on CDDB tonight to figure out which track “Testimony” was. I would have had “Into the Fire” from Sarah
    McLachlan but I haven’t seen my “Solace” CD for at least 6mo. I also thought I got “All Souls Night” off one of my mother’s
    Loreena McKinnett CDs when I ripped them a while ago. Also, I have most of Catie Curtis’ stuff but not the CD with “Hole in
    the Bucket".

    So I started a WinAmp playlist with 3 songs out of the 22 I needed. The next step was to hit the P2P music programs to see
    what I could dig up. So when I fired up Napster, I was incredibly disappointed to see how few files were currently being
    shared. Since all the Napster chaos hit, it all went downhill. I used to be able to find anything. So a few Google searches
    later, I came up with “Morpheus” from Music City. FABULOUS. Not only to they let you do MP3s, but video, images, documents,
    and software as well. I really didn’t care about the rest - I was more interested in my sound files. I also gave Gnutella and
    Aimster a shot but the former didn’t seem to connect to anything and the latter crashed several times before I uninstalled
    it.

    So simultaneously using Napster and Morpheus, I found “Kill the Messenger", “Into the Fire", “All Souls Night", both
    Melissa Etheridge songs, “time after time", “Witches", “Fall Upon Me", both Edie Brickell tunes, “African Ivory",
    “Disneyland", “Come a Long Way", and “Alright for Now".

    That left me without: “Hole in the Bucket", “French Illumination", some song by Jane Siberry that I had no title for, “Only
    for a Little While” from Heidi Berry, and “Everything Possible” from Fred Small.

    Let’s break this down….I had a lot of difficulty finding ANY early Catie Curtis and anything from Fred Small or disappear
    fear would not be found on either service. However there were tons of Siberry and Berry. The question was….am I looking for
    the right thing? So I started with Heidi Berry and quickly discovered there was no song titled “Only for a Little While” and a
    swift browse later at the lyrics for her albums resulted in finding “only for a little while” is the chorus for her song “The
    Moon and the Sun". That was easy to find and download.

    Next was Jane Siberry. How the hell was I going to find a song for an artist that I had no title for? I was doing this
    downloading on a dialup - not convenient if I had to download any song of hers that came up. So I hit her Web site. She was
    one of those rare artists that had short MP3 samples of ALL her recordings. Short enough for me to download in 20 seconds. So
    I started with her fifth album (the only one that would have been brand new when the mix came out). No luck - however one of
    her songs from that album showed up on another mix I received 5 months later. I tried the second album. BINGO! “The Life is
    the Red Wagon” started playing and my brain shot back into Northampton - this sone was definitely on the mix.

    Finally I got everything added to my WinAMP playlist and listened to it. Damn. The Tom Petty song was a live version…had
    to download the original recording from the album. Urg…."African Ivory” skipped during the ripping process - the Jane
    Siberry song had too many pops and gurgles. Need to find clean copies.

    So here I am, downloading a new copy of the Petty song while listening happily to the songs I did find and with just a
    short list of songs left to find:

    • Everything Possible - Fred Small
    • French Illumination - disappear fear
    • Hole in the Bucket - Catie Curtis
    • African Ivory - the Samples (clean copy)
    • Non Live copy of “Alright for Now” - Tom Petty
    • Clean copy of “Life is a Red Wagon” - Jane Siberry

    Not bad.

    05/15/2001

    One of the mailing lists

    Filed under: B.K. DeLong @ 12:07:56 pm

    One of the mailing lists I’m on had a recent thread about Bush and the energy crisis. (There’s a surprise). Anyway, one of
    the respondents couldn’t believe that Dubya suggested the tax cut needed to be passed right away href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/bal-te.tax12may12.story">so Americans could use the money to pay for rising power costs
    in this “energy crisis":

    “Give people more of their own money so they can meet their bills,” Bush said. “Give people money in order to be able to deal
    with this [fuel price] situation. If I had my way, I’d have it in place tomorrow.”

    What the HELL is he talking about?

    <rant emotion="bitter” length="long” detail="verbose">

    The only reason energy prices are so high is because the unregulated producers of said energy have marked up the price
    almost 1900% during peak usage times [1] and the only reason there is
    an energy shortage is because the utilities cannot afford to purchase as much energy from said producers due to this
    unregulated price gouging…hence, there is no energy shortage and both Dubya and Cheney (the latter of whom declared $36M name="backnote2″ id="backnote2″ href="#backnote2″>[2] on last year’s taxes, most of which came from his exercising of
    stock options from Halliburton Co a *surprise* energy company that boasts it helped
    stimulate the most prolific producing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico) have no plans to step in and intervene with the energy
    companies. Hey, Bush and Cheney are oil men and many of the key people involved in the raping of California with regards to
    power are the very people who made contributions and helped get them elected.

    The point? Of course they’d recommend we use our tax cuts towards paying increased energy costs. Of course Cheney would
    make the absolute ridiculous claim that “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a
    sound, comprehensive energy policy” [3] while Bush is running
    around trying to use eminent domain[4] at the Federal level to put up
    as many power lines as he can. They’re primary supporters are making loads of money! What’s even funnier is that we have no
    shortage of energy [5] and even the Federal government’s own
    scientists have produced research [6] at odds with the Bush
    administration.

    It’s just something Cheney and Bush are pushing, I’m guessing, because since two oilmen hold the top two positions in the
    country, they want to do everything they can to give the environmental movement the finger, pay back all their supporters,
    destroy the environment in as many ways as possible that they previously weren’t allowed to, and pave the way for good jobs at
    energy companies before they are kicked out of office and the Democrats are brought back in to clean things up.

    FOOTNOTES:

    [1] According to a June 2000 article href="http://www.sjmercury.com">from SJM, prices were spiking as high as $750 per megawatt hour until the href="http://www.caiso.com/docs/09003a6080/06/59/09003a6080065963.pdf">ISO board lowered the cap to $500.
    Normally, the price of a megawatt hour – which is enough to power 1,000 homes for an hour – ranges between $25 and
    $40.

    [2] href="http://chooseorlose.excite.com/news/ap/010414/01/news-bush-cheney-taxes">According to an April 14th AP article,
    “Vice President Dick Cheney took in $36 million, according to income-tax documents released Friday.” … “Most of Cheney’s
    income came when he exercised stock options and sold stock in Halliburton Co., the Dallas-based energy services firm he headed
    until late in the presidential campaign. The vice president received $4.3 million in deferred compensation and bonuses. He
    reported $806,332 in salary and $823,509 in capital gains.” … “Cheney’s tax total put him in the href="http://www.latimes.com/business/reports/taxes/brackets00.htm">rarified realm of the top 39.6 percent tax bracket,
    which Bush wants to eventually reduce to 33 percent.” … “Using the small standard deduction of $7,350, the calculator
    estimates Cheney’s tax cut under the Bush plan at more than $2.3 million, a 16.1 percent cut. ”

    [3] href="http://channel.nytimes.com/2001/05/01/politics/01CHEN.html">Source for quote and hideous pro-resource consumption
    rhetoric.

    [4] “‘We need more electricity wires carrying product across the
    country,’ the president said Tuesday night at a speech to the Electronic Industries Alliance
    in Washington. One of the ways Bush intends to achieve that goal href="http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/Electricity_Bush010509.html">is by asking Congress to pass legislation
    that substantially expands the government’s eminent domain authority.”

    [5] href="http://www.forbes.com/2001/05/02/0502nocrisis.html">Forbes says there is no energy crisis and that not even the
    whole state of California is effected - LA has it’s own municipal power service.
    Oil and Natural Gas reserves are at an all-time high.

    [6] “Most of the savings came from installing href="http://www.eren.doe.gov/RE/geo_heat_pumps.html">geothermal heat pumps, an efficient home-heating and cooling system
    that circulates fluids through underground coils but otherwise uses conventional technologies.” … “The heat pumps, though
    still something of a novelty, are proven and save so much money that President Bush installed a system at his new ranch home
    in Crawford, Texas. Cheney’s official home, the Naval Observatory in Washington, also
    uses geothermal heat pumps to cut down on its energy bill.” href="http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134292670_power06.html">This article has many more reports from
    Federal scientists showing cost-effective conservation methods.

    </rant>

    05/14/2001

    I had fun spending Mother’s

    Filed under: B.K. DeLong @ 4:35:22 pm

    I had fun spending Mother’s Day with my mom. Saturday, my brother (whom I was visiting) said he had to stop over at Mom’s
    to plant some plants for her. I had originally intended to hang out as his place and get some work done but she had just gone
    through surgery so we offered to go with him and our younger brother followed since he had a few hours before he had to go to
    work. Lead by Kirky and constantly having to tell my mother to sit down and put her leg up, we wandered around the front and
    back yards based on a well-drawn map on graph paper checking in with Mom for where plants should be placed. About an hour and
    a half into it my one brother heads to work while the other disappeared downstairs to fix Mom’s doorbell and extend the cable
    wiring throughout the house leaving Kirky and I out in the 90 degree weather to finish the planting. In retrospect we should
    have planted in the morning or late afternoon.

    Anyway, the heat gets the better of us and we quit after finishing all but a handful of the plants. Jon and Nate were going
    to finish for her Sunday. I have to tell you - it’s times like that that I really notice how overweight I am. I used to be
    able to deal with the heat, no problem. I remember as a teen living in a 9x9 tent for 9 weeks at a Boy Scout camp in the West
    Virginian mountains where I was staff. The heat used to get unbearable but I never seemed to sweat and got used to regulating
    it. Now I start huffing and puffing, get all chaffed, and the only way I can cool off is by taking a warm shower to clean all
    the sweat off and then sit under cold water for another 20min.

    My body has always been weird like that - retaining heat. I remember walking around with a girlfriend on a cold fall day in
    HS. She was shivering and I was in short sleeves. We held hands and mine must have been on fire because she noticed it. When I
    did my Eagle Project for Boy Scouts, I spent 30min at a time putting 9 signs I had hand chiseled out of wood at various town
    conservation sites - it was 30 degrees and starting to snow. I got so hot, I took off my gloves and my hands were literally
    steaming putting off more white mist then my warm breath to the cold air. So that combined with the extra weight is going to
    be a real problem this summer. I’m guessing I’ll get sick of all the extra showers and will resign myself to loosing as much
    as I can - I have to. There’s no way I can survive having a kid at this point with my complete lack of energy.

    Where was I? Oh yes. Mother’s Day. I decided that since my mom was recovering from her recent surgery, that I’d cook her
    breakfast and invite my two brothers to attend as well. Of course, when I say “I’d cook her breakfast” I mean “Kirky would
    cook her breakfast and I’d do as much as I could to make sure she didn’t think she had to do all the work.” She had a fabulous
    menu and cooked an omlette with eggs, cheese, mushrooms and tomato for my mother, a hamd and cheese omlette for my youngest
    brother, scrambled eggs with cheese for my other brother and I, and she managed to whip herself up an egg-white omlette after
    she served everybody else and told us to eat while it was hot. We also had bacon, which I prepared via the microwave, fabulous
    red potato homefries with a little onion, corn beef hash, Pillsbury dinner roll croisants, and fresh OJ. Absolutely amazing.
    Afterwards, I did my part and cleaned the kitchen before we left since mother was not supposed to be on her feet.

    One of the things I’ve noticed is that when we’re cooking for other people, Kirky and I make an excellent team. Sure we
    play-bicker all the time and at home, Kirky will cook while I watch TV or work in my office and then she’ll watch her shows
    while I clean up but there’s something about tag-teaming whe making a meal for family. It wasn’t just Mother’s Day breakfast
    that I noticed it. Two weeks ago we were at mom’s for a visit and decided to have some grilled seafood for lunch. I went
    shopping and came back with tons of food. While Kirky grilled the scallops, salmon, summer squash and some asperigus, I
    blanched the rest of the asparigus, de-veined the shrimp and boiled it. And cleanup wasn’t just me - I washed while Kirky
    dried. A duet only a great marriage could produce.

    I think I’m ready to get back in the swing of things house-wise. The last week, I let the laundry, kitchen and cleaning go
    until Friday when I ran around trying to pick up before we left. I really got into keeping the house clean when Kirky was gone
    in CA for a week and when she got back I managed to keep it up for 2 more weeks. However a complaint of hers was that I turned
    into a mother, complaining when she dropped the envelopes from open mail right onto the living room floor or left laundry on
    her side of the bedroom for me to pick up. So I’m intent on getting the cleaning back into order, this time leaving her be.
    :)

    This week will be spent catching up on Attrition, working on the database for the online Artemisia Botanicals store, and
    looking for healthful alternatives for me to loose weight this summer. This weekend we’re off to Maine to do a “walk for
    Hunger” with a HS friend of mine who’s organization is coordinating the charity event.

    05/13/2001

    I spent a majority of

    Filed under: B.K. DeLong @ 10:23:03 pm

    I spent a majority of the weekend at my brother’s house in WMass and took some time on both Saturday and Sunday to visit my
    mother who is recovering from foot surgery. It’s weird going to my brother’s house…he bought it when he turned 21 on his own
    and living with him is his best friend and my youngest brother. It’s a small house and definitely says “Bachelor Pad” when you
    walk into it though all 3 men are currently in exclusive relationships. Most of the current look is due to the previous owner
    who had some weird tastes and definitely contributed to the bachelor image. Walking through the place you can find walls down
    everywhere and quite a few projects are mid-construction. I have to respect my brother because I’d freak out if I had that
    many unfinished projects. Not that it’s his fault or anything, he works very hard during the week and needs his weekend for
    downtime. Plus it’s usually just him with some help from his two housemates - while I boast the assistance of phenomenal
    in-laws.

    Mostly I like to go visit him when I need to goof off. He’s got an impressive entertainment system and because his house is
    a lot more recent than our house in 1885, he’s completely wired the house for CAT5 Ethernet (Internet access) in every room.
    So with his friend living in the basement, brother on the first floor and he upstairs, they can all play networked games or
    just do their own thing. I’m pretty impressed by it - if I wasn’t currently jobless, my plan was to get a cable modem and
    access through my local provider and then set up a wireless hub.

    He also has a Playstation and plus various emulators on his PC for systems like Super Nintendo, N64, and even Atari. It’s
    not unheard of for us to rent a view DVDs and some pizza and stay up late nights. This weekend we rented a few movies
    including Baseketball, Romeo Must
    Die
    and Dogma. We also rented href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0113749″>Mallrats (I was on a Kevin Smith kick after href="http://www.moviepoopshoot.com/trailer.html">downloading the trailer to his new movie last week). Baseketball was
    funny in a South Park/Bevis & Butthead/Simpsons sort of way. NOT something I can watch with Kirky and luckily she was in the
    other room playing EverQuest.

    I’ve seen Romeo Must Die before - when I arrived in Vegas last year for the Def Con and Black Hat security conferences I
    went to another hotel to hook up with some of the Attrition guys and caught the tail end of this movie. It’s pretty impressive
    with it’s Matrix-style martial arts and the sound on my brother’s home theatre system rocked.

    Dogma. What can I say about Kevin Smith’s Dogma? If you can see past the potty-mouth swearing, Dogma is an absolutely
    phenomenal movie - Kevin Smith is a genius. Dogma is a look at Christianity from the point of view of a jadedCatholic who
    works in an abortion clinic. She has a “vision” and is sent on a quest with Smith regulars Silent Bob & Jay to a church in Red
    Bank, New Jersey to stop a bunch of fallen angels from re-entering heaven.

    The cast is amazing. Kevin manages to bring together Linda Fiorentino, George Carlin (ironically playing a Catholic
    priest), Salma Hayek, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock and Janeane Garofalo not to mention Ben Affleck and Matt Damon playing the
    fallen. Smith also sneaks in people who appeared in his previous movies with bit parts - Brian O’Halloran who played Dante
    Hicks in Smith’s first (Clerks) and Gil Hicks, a contestant in a gameshow
    (Mallrats) shows up as a New Jersey reporter named Grant Hicks. Jeff Anderson who played Randal Graves in Clerks shows up a a
    Gun Salesman in the movie.

    If you haven’t gathered based on my previous post, one of the primary reasons I like Dogma is because of its critical look
    at how practioners of Christianity treat their religion and beliefs. My favorite quote comes from Hayek’s character,
    Serendipity: “I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You don’t celebrate your faith –
    you mourn it.”

    05/11/2001

    Life is good. I took

    Filed under: B.K. DeLong @ 12:07:31 pm

    Life is good. I took a nice little break this afternoon and for once in my life had dinner with my wife and stayed
    downstairs with her to watch a bevy of our favorite shows - Gilmore Girls, Charmed and CSI. Though the later two are at
    competing times so we only get the jist of either. But we’ve been watching Charmed for longer….so it tends to win.

    I’ve been a bit unfocused these past 2 weeks. Mostly because the Chinese vs. US hackathon caught me offguard and kept me
    extremely busy. I got to do my first live BBC interview at 11:30 at
    night and got back in the swing of things. When ZOT was beginning to hurt, I gave up href="http://www.attrition.org">Attrition to concentrate on my Harry Potter
    fan site
    , and to concentrate on my classes. I’m glad I’ve had some time
    to return to the fray.

    Well, I’ve filed for unemployment. Tomorrow I send in my first “claim” form for the last 2 weeks. I’ve always thought
    unemployment had such a stigma until I realized companies pay unemployment insurance specifically for this purpose when you
    get laid off. So I’ve been going back and forth between these 3 really great job opportunities, all of which have been “hurry
    up and wait". At least with an unemployment buffer, I can concentrate on trying to get some book contracts and not have to
    rush out and get the first job offered to me. I had the same opportunity with ZOT and was very lucky but let me be the first
    to say the only thing harder then sucking it up and filing for unemployment is not having any income at all and having to rush
    out and take the first job you find. I live in fear of having to join the rat race rather then put my talents to good use at
    an organization I want to work for.

    Speaking of my classes, I believe I had mentioned that I was continuing with my courses at Artemisia Botanicals and have
    currently finished 3 weeks of a 6 week course in Witchcraft. No, not the flashy “ href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0094332″>Witches of Eastwick” or “Charmed
    or “The Craft” but the Earth-centric religion of Wicca.

    I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my search for spirituality and up until a few years ago, I wasn’t really looking. As a
    child, I was raised Methodist. I went to a great little church in a small Southern Maryland town where in Sunday School I was
    at the top of my class and in pageants I always played the lead. Then a shakeup in my family caused everything to go sour and
    I had some real bad experiences in a family member’s church.

    Every time I attended it seemed more and more like I was sucked into a televangelist’s show - the pews had been replaced by
    an auditorium with theatre-style seating. There was a stage instead of an altar and pulpit with a five piece band on risers
    behind it. The singers….ugg the SINGERS sounded exactly like what you’d expect from a televangelist’s show - cheesy, sappy,
    and superficial.

    Then one holiday, (I think it was Thanksgiving), the pastor asked everyone in the audience to give thanks for what god had
    given them and that’s when the disgust (and revulsion - as one of my brothers put it) set in. People began to stand up and
    give thanks for “god forgiving me for cheating on my wife” and “god helping me through my nasty divorce” and “gods help to get
    me off drugs". It was ridiculous. My middle brother just looked at me with an expression that said exactly what I was
    thinking. Rather than staying and mingling after the service, all 3 of us retreated to the car to wait and discussed how
    situations like this made us embrace atheism and agnosticism.

    That was just one reason I choose to move towards Pagan religions and definitely not a deciding factor. As I mentioned
    before, there are many good things about christianity as there are with all religions. It was the beginning though, and after
    that everything bad about christianity seemed to stack up over the years.

    It’s little things here or there - specifically the religious right’s infringement upon the freedom of choice (abortion)
    and same-sex rights (including the right to marry). Both the Anti-Abortion movement and the concept of homosexuality as a sin
    has its roots in christianity and as a result, it has effected and socialized our entire society. It’s also the fact that some
    people point to passages in the bible and recite them in order to show how something is a sin or something is wrong. Because
    god said so. Maybe your god….but no deity I worship would condone things like murder and violence.

    There are many reasons I’ve been drawn to Wicca. The first is personal responsibility. I want a religion where I am
    responsible for my actions and where accountability is key. I don’t want to deal with a god who’s son died for me so I can do
    whatever the hell I want and as long as I confess my “sins” I’ll go to a nice place when I die. The Wiccan religion has 2
    primary rules - And ye harm none, do what ye will (also known as the Wiccan Rede) and Anything you do, will come back 3 fold
    (also known as the “3-Fold Law” and more commonly as karma).

    I love it! Do anything you want, just don’t hurt anyone (including yourself) and be careful what you do because both good
    and bad things performed by you will come back 3 times as evil….or wonderful depending. The fact that there are these 2
    rules is also nice because there’s no one to stick this big old book in your face that has probably lost a lot in the
    translations in the past…oh say 2000 years and show you everything you’re doing wrong.

    The second reason is that Wicca is a religion closely tied with the Earth and nature. As no doubt you’ve seen, I have
    become incredibly environmentally conscious over the past year mostly due in part to the election of a President intent on
    destroying our Earth simply to make his fossil fuel generating, polluting contributors happy for his 4 years.

    As a child, I lived for almost 13 years in Southern Maryland on almost 10 acres of land. We had trees as far as the eye
    could see, gullies, ditches, streams, creeks, marshes, cliffs and lots and lots of wildlife. It was all beautiful and I miss
    it a lot. Later, I joined the Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle all the while spending many a weekend camping and
    enjoying the wild and even spending 9 weeks for 4 years in a row working at a summer camp in the gorgeous rolling mountains
    and lakes in West Virginia. Wicca is a religion that reveres nature and worships all the Earth….and that’s something that is
    a close part of me. I’ve been suffering a bit in Salem without having many luscious green areas to play in.

    The third and fourth reasons are, of course, the magic and multiple deities. As a teen I can always remember being
    fascinated by mythology. I use to read as many books in the library as I could. Greek, Roman and even Norse mythology kept me
    busy for hours at a time and filled my mind of a grand polytheistic landscape. It was so hard for me to believe that one god
    rules over so many things - they’d have to be schizophrenic. In the Wiccan religion, you can call upon any goddess or god you
    wish depending on your specific need. But the best thing is you have a whole pantheon to choose from - Hawaiian, Egyptian,
    Norse, Roman, Greek, or Celtic. Pagan means non-Christian and Wicca is a pagan religion that is not limited to any one or
    small group of deities. If you are doing a spell where you need to call upon a fire deity call upon the Roman god Mars or the
    Celtic god Lugh, or even the Hawaiian goddess Pele.

    And magic….who wouldn’t want to do magic? While magic often conjures up the thoughts of Harry Potter or the mutants on
    X-Men or even references to some of the movies I mention above, that’s far from what magic is. Rituals and magic are prayers
    for something that you put all your spiritual energy into performing.

    You have a need. Visualize that need as well as the solution to that need. Now close your eyes and act as if that need will
    happen. You’ve performed a simple spell. Now, add more parts to it. What exactly is your need? What deity would fulfill that
    need or rules over that particular aspect in your life. Choose a deity to call upon and ask for that need to be met. Next,
    think carefully about what your need specifically is. How do you want that need to be met? Keep in mind there are many ways to
    come to a solution for a problem - you want the best ending possible.

    Take that “perfect solution” and put it into words. Make sure your words rhyme to have more of an effect and call upon
    your chosen deity asking for their assistance in coming to your solution. You have the beginnings to a Wiccan ritual. Add a
    little music, some drums and begin to dance. Light a candle, ring a bell, “cast a circle” or do several other things that will
    help bring you closer to your chosen deity and you have just cast a spell and performed a ritual.

    Now mind you, what I have just said is more of an oversimplification of Wiccan magic but hopefully you get the point. I
    still talk to so many people who believe Wicca is hocus pocus or devil worshipping (mind you Wicca is a Pagan religion, Pagan
    means “non christian") and our President doesn’t even believe it’s a religion.

    I have been researching Wicca now for almost 10 years. I came across it when I had my first connection to an Internet-like
    environment through Prodigy, where there was a religion news group all about Wicca. I can remember printing out reams of paper
    on the subject and reading voraciously. Later at Summer Camp, I bought my first witch book - Gypsy Love Magic by Ray Buckland.
    It was a cute book probably meant to appeal to young people investigating the craft like myself at the time. I can remember
    taking a staff I had found one summer (a perfect piece of ironwood found leaning against a tree in the woods - never carved)
    and leaving out in a thunderstorm to “charge it". I had no clue what I was doing…but it sounded cool.

    As time went by, I became interested in several other things and occasionally Wicca would cross my path again and catch my
    interest. I visited and read a lot of Web sites during that time and learned that like the computer security community, many
    “newbies” were looked at with disdain. I speak, of course, of all the teens who dress in black and call themselves “goths”
    angsting their way through high school with black makeup, sour dispositions, and several piercings. I’m also talking about
    adults with too much time on their hands who need a hobby and choose Wicca to dabble in and point out where everyone else is
    wrong.

    I learned the hard way how embarrassing it is to jump into the fray claiming to be an expert on something you’re not when I
    made a big deal about “tracking” the kids who defaced the NCAA Web site back in 1997 and got flayed by the computer security
    and hacker communities for being a media whore and a fraud. Years later, I am on the other side of that often exposing frauds
    and pointing out loudly when the media badly reports on computer security. I was careful to apply this same practice when
    researching about Wicca - read a lot and keep my mouth shut unless it’s to ask carefully thought-out questions. So that’s what
    I did.

    Little did I know that I would end up in a town known for its Wiccan practioners and witch community. So when I got here,
    my instinct was to take advantage of it. I subscribed to a lot of email list and upped my studies purchasing books and reading
    Web sites. I learned about all the basics and much about the different practices of various sects. The next logical step was
    to take classes.

    So here I am, taking classes with Teri Kalgren at Artemisia Botanicals. I know what I want out of Wicca and am slowly
    learning how to make it a part of my spirituality and who I am. I spent a lot of time thinking and talking to my wife, to make
    sure she’s comfortable with it. As long as I don’t start dressing in black and walking around in public in weird clothes,
    she’s fine. Sound familiar? To me, that’s not part of what Wicca is (which I explained) and the only reason I’d be dressing up
    would be for a personal ritual or joining a coven for circle. I have no intention on flaunting my religion. I dislike it when
    christians do it…why would I?

    I’m not ready to call myself a witch yet. I still have at least 3 classes in my current course and I need to feel
    comfortable performing rituals and merging Wiccan spirituality into my life before I’ll consider myself part of the others.
    But that day will come, and I’m looking forward to it.

    05/2/2001

    *GASP* As I thrust my

    Filed under: B.K. DeLong @ 4:19:54 pm

    *GASP* As I thrust my head out of the churning ocean that is Attrition. As you may have href="http://www.attrition.org/security/commentary/cn-us-war.html">gathered Chinese, US and other English-speaking script
    kiddies (read: hacker-wannabees) are having a pissing match. Jericho is out of town, Null is busy with work….as is Munge
    which leaves little ole’ unemployed me to tackle the mirrors. I do
    live! Really! In fact, I turned 25 on Monday!!

    More to come.

    Do your part today -

    Filed under: B.K. DeLong @ 4:15:24 pm

    Do your part today - tell the Bush administration you
    want Arsenic out of our drinking water. Otherwise, they’ll keep arsenic at current levels. (What I want to know is what the
    hell arsenic is doing in our water AT ALL.)

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