Terminal Capsule

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Mom sent pics of my last visit home. It reminded me of HNL and that feeling I get when I march towards the baggage claim. Trips home seem like a habit almost — until I see the faces of the people I love, then it all hits me at once — every time is special.

Long drives to PDX are routine. Check-in, security crap, sit, wait, look at the people pass. I usually remove one headphone to hear the boarding announcement. Then I watch everyone rush to wait in line even if their row isn’t called, and watch empathetically as people look frustrated as they talk to the counter about their standby status. The plane doesn’t leave without its passengers. Seems like a simple concept, but not to most.

Plane rides are mundane. I used to talk to the people who sat next to me about what they did for a living, their ambitions, sports, whatever. At some point I stopped caring. Life is too short for single-serving friends.

Books keep me occupied in spurts. I attentively watch movies I can’t hear or feel, carts either bump my arm or I can’t find the nook in the wall of the plane that fits my head. I manage to sleep — some.

I think about what I left behind today. I weigh it against what I leave behind everyday. People grow, they go away, they live their own life — that is how it works. It’s okay, right? Yeah, it’s okay.

The plane lands. I worry for 3 seconds about a crash landing but decide to trust the pilots. I am the last person to stand, I realize that if I stand immedeately I still won’t be going anywhere. I grab my trash from the magazine pouch, put it into my fist and keep reading.

When the line starts to move, I glance into the eyes of the person standing behind my row. They nod and I grab my bag from the overhead compartment. I put my trash into the outer pocket and march forward as quickly as I can while thanking the person behind me for waiting.

I thank the stewards and pilots as I exit and wish them a nice day. I smell home in the carpet of the gate. The humidity fills my lungs and the heat tugs at my memory. I’m home.

Passing JAL tour guides with their signposts I walk briskly. I pass people I recognize from the plane on my way to baggage claim. I take the long way so I can see the mountains from the terminal walkway. Most people take the bus.

I pass the Duty Free booth that sells super-sized cartons of cigarettes to tourists. I don’t recognize the brands.

I look at myself in the mirror as I descend towards the Hawaiian Airlines baggage claim area. I’m older. I smile anyway.

Kelly, Mom and Dad are beyond the sliding glass door. I pass through. Plumeria, pikake and ginger linger in the air. I hug them, eyes closed, frozen in time.

You never really leave home, but you sure as hell know when you get back.

Ethical Computing

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So 8 months ago I helped someone with getting their hands on the 2nd disc of the Gentoo LiveCD set. Someone in IRC needed a copy of it but didn’t have access to a burner or a CD-R so I felt bad for them and made it myself while I was working overtime on a Saturday.

I met them outside work, and gave it to them — seemed harmless enough. On my way home I got some good marks for helping a lady cross the street, got someone’s stolen purse, and sold some girl scout cookies. It was good to help out.

Flash to the now – same person got caught running versions of Knoppix and some accompanying software to scan a university network and distribute some nasty messages to the public on opening day. To say the least I was disappointed.

For one, it was contrary to my original impression of the person. I felt they were young and inexperienced and needed some help getting their feet on the ground. And they did — because they are bright and talented — and unfortunately they took a turn in the wrong direction and misused their talents to do some mischief.

Ok, so maybe at some point in their lives the best artists spray graffiti out of boredom or lack of a proper canvas. An even more probable cause is the theory that those who are good at rare arts or have special talents often lack the resources and direction needed to nurture those abilities.

So while most would probably pawn a handful of negative actions off as criminal mischief, I instead place blame on our schools, our leaders, our community for forcing this young adult into what pretty much seems like an act of pure boredom more than anything else.

It’s my hope that this person will learn from this experience, maybe seek a more honorable canvas and paint pictures with better paints and the finest brushes — and not be deprived of their right to creatively exhale.

Pressure and time lead to good things; they can also destroy youthful dreams and ambition.

Crime 0.8 Alpha

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After the introduction of new technology, society goes through a recognizeable cycle. At first we experiment — everything is new and the sky is the limit. Then something arbitrarily bad happens and society creates countless laws as a result. Over-regulation becomes so hindering that movements are made against the authorities to slacken the rules because they are not reasonable once the paranoia subsides. Sooner or later democracy prevails and a middle ground is reached.

Right now I can spot many areas where we are in a period of over-regulation:

  • Arguably, (and don’t judge me for this) affirmative action will at some point be unnecessary. I don’t think it has reached the point where it is over-regulation, however.
  • Rape, sexual assault, and stalker laws are heavily weighted against males in reaction to years of neglect towards women.
  • The nuclear power industry was crippled due to over-regulation during the 70s and 80s that made it virtually impossible to make money at it. Only now is the industry recovering from the effects.
  • Hacker penalties for somewhat inconsequential tampering are greater than what would appear to be much more violent and disruptive crimes.

I can certainly understand why things are the way they are today in America. It is not at all surprising that years of neglect induce equal and opposite reactions by the government and community. In a way, it is like a societal immune system where you need to have a flare-up in order to preserve the greater whole. And while the flare-ups suck, these controlled fires are necessary for self-preservation.

On the other hand, our own immune system and natural flora can also be harmful when misused or misdirected. Bacteria that help us can easily kill us. Laws and regulations that protect some can also destroy others unjustly.

I hope societal judgement improves over time, so medium ground may be reached before any of the innocent pay the price.