Land of Dichotomies

FOREWORD: These thoughts are from a visit to Cairo, Giza, Alexandria and Saqqara. The author is well aware that defining the whole of Egypt based on only those four localities is cause for an unfair, poorly-based generalization. The reader is asked to consider the term "Egypt" to be applied only as if it were the aforementioned localities. The reader is also encouraged to point out (in the comments section) any inaccuracy that (s)he feels needs to be addressed.

At 4 am everything looks surreal. Cairo is no exception. We chose a hotel near the pyramids because it felt appropriate, but that meant that we needed to cross all Cairo and Giza to get to it from the airport; the cab took an hour, with little traffic. It was a blessing in disguise though, as that first hour set the tone for the whole trip. It started out with the sight of dirty streets and unkept temples, and finished out with a pristine hotel with a friendly staff and a perfect room.

Egypt is a land of dichotomies. Its outer shell may be rough and unwelcoming, but inside lies a gem that is eternally beautiful. Everything from the women, that are flirtatious even though they dress very conservatively, to their social culture, which is very religious but tolerant of others, all the way to the land itself, with Cairo being the very definition of an oasis with tropical fruits being grown in the middle of a dessert (by the way, the fruit juices, which are the drink of choice, are more like smoothies). I found Christian cemeteries beside Muslim ones, sandy dunes beside watery palm trees, and a palace beside a ghetto. Christmas is celebrated alongside Ramadan, and traffic in the streets is utter chaos but nobody seems to mind.

Emotions are bared on the flesh and anger is rampant; but Egyptians are a family. They pray together, joke together, and curse each other within literally seconds of a first meeting. They trust. They're a family. And if you're able to handle it, and show sensibility for their ways, they're quick to welcome you to it.

Their cities are not kept up to the standards that we as Mexicans are accustomed. Their museums and their streets are seemingly dirty. Most of Cairo and Alexandria seem like a rundown part of any Mexican city. But, considering that they are surrounded by sand, they're in fact pretty clean. Being at peace with that, you are given a treat when you actually step inside any house, which are mini temples focused on hospitality and warmth and, well, cleanliness.

Egyptians are known for their bargaining skill, instigated by suspicion of abusive prices, but when both parties settle on a deal, no receipt is given, a handshake is enough. Commerce is an art form, and even though we knew our driver directed us to shopping centers he had contact with and that he was being paid to do so, the products sold there were of high quality with good prices. In addition, in every one of them we were treated with the utmost respect and hospitality, giving us an explanation of their product beforehand. It is important to state that this was always done in our native tongue, which my mom greatly appreciated as she doesn't speak English. Maybe this was a ploy in their sale pitch, but it was very entertaining and played well in our visit.

I've read somewhere that most of the touristic part of Egypt is filled with con artists, scamming money out of tourists. We were perfect bait for this, as the trip was improvised and little research was done beforehand. So, if we were scammed, I didn't notice. At every step we wound up pretty happy with our acquisitions and their quality (my mom and me are very picky when it comes to shopping), and every price was negotiated (my mom is pretty good at that). Obviously, Mohammed and Ashref (both our drivers) and their local friends wound up happy as well. And there lies the ultimate dichotomy.

Egypt is ripe for misunderstanding. Horror stories abound of how foreigners are treated as gold pots. The fact of the matter is that, well, I am a gold pot, and the modus operandi is a back-and-forth of fixing prices. In Egypt, you are the money that you carry, and there's no disrespect intended in that; they're merchants, they want to make a deal, because that is what will make both parties happy.

Getting your head around that lets you see that in that process, you are being welcomed into the country, into the family, and that you are one of them, experiencing the real Egypt. It may sound too convenient, and that feeling may only be part of a sentiment-based process to get you to buy something, but, isn't that suspicion too paranoic? And even it it's true, why is it wrong? Considering me part of their family first, and a customer second, is a dream in other parts of the world. I know their names, I shook their hands, and I saw an honest smile while leaving their store every time. I actually felt good about shopping their products, where else does that happen? Isn't that worth the 5% off the bargain price?

Those horrors stories are from people that didn't get that, and felt scammed; of people who always look for a cheaper and cheaper fixed price to prevent feeling scammed. Unfortunately, in doing so, they become the scammer.

Me and them, that's the ultimate dichotomy; the foreigners and the locals. In Egypt, however, such a dichotomy does have a chance to coincide, if only the latter extends a hand of understanding to the former, and the former keeps doing what he has been doing for the last couple of millennia.


The word "away" sounds like such as a smooth, calm word. "Ah waayy", like a wave humming, mesmerized by its own beauty. Its connotation, however, is very passive aggressive. It implies absence of something, not from existence though, just from where it belongs. Surprisingly, and, ironically, it's full of hope: that 'something' is in fact somewhere, it just isn't where it is supposed to.

In fact, you could say that, all in all, the word "away" is a largely positive sentiment. If something is "away", it belongs somewhere, and in that "somewhere" its absence is being noticed, usually by the entity that is saying the word. "Being away" is beautifully bittersweet; there's hope in there of not only someday coming "back", but of having a place to come back to.

Lately, "being away" is mostly what I've been feeling, but I don't know from where anymore. I used to say it was from my hometown, but I'm not sure that it is still my home. In fact, the whole concept of "home" seems like just a vague pleasant memory. Now, it feels more like a base station, where I report to periodically of my apparently unending endeavors. It is this that seems the most sad, of being away, but without its sweet side.

I used to crave this feeling, of being a free vessel; no map, no direction, just wonders and notes. But I am a man of discord and contradiction, as, I suppose, most humans are. Everything comes with two slates, it seems, and for some reason, I haven't been able to let myself see the bitter one in many of them. And, I suppose, this is probably the reason of my recent slight agoraphobic behavior. I want my space, my land, my indestructible castle. Yes, I want to feel the sensation of home again, but I know it comes with a bitter side to it. No more free vessel, with a map and direction, always; coincidentally, that has always been my modus operandi. I wonder if, without knowing, I've been trying to pursue a weird combination of both? To be at home, wherever I may be. I've had plenty of practice, that's for sure, but this "away" feeling is new. Maybe this is me trying to settle down; what a weird way to do it... and I wouldn't have done it differently.

If that's the case, then, like when in love, I'll just have to wait and keep my eyes open. Maybe there is a place I am coming back to, it just hasn't presented itself yet.


My examiner told me to come in the room, the verdict of my PhD oral examination was up. I remember clearly how I entered that room as a puny student who felt the exam as the worst colonoscopy ever, with a clear indication of a non-pass. "We've decided to grant you the award, with some minor corrections of course," he said with a smile on his face.

I froze. The examiner, befuddled, grabbed my hand to shake it, "You're a Doctor, son. You seem disappointed." And I was. I stepped out of that room, and one of my professors, who I saw as a superior in every single way (and still do), asked how it went. When I told him, he stretched his hands in what he saw to be a level-playing field. But it isn't.

Now, everybody is calling me "Doctor", as if my knowledge in the field has suddenly sky-rocketed. It hasn't. I'm still that puny student with a bleeding anus. Only now, I can legally put a title before my name.

The concept of titles has always eluded me. It seems as the precursor of a black and white world where I am this and you are that, and there's nothing in between.

I am a heterosexual, and you are a homosexual.
I am a capitalist, you are a communist.
I am a Professor, you are a student.
I am a christian, you are a muslim.
I am right, you are wrong.

I know it's useful in certain situations: you are a man that needs a liver transplant, and your blood is type A+. Period.

But it's limiting in all other cases. My identity is an array of shades of grey, which is in fact the reason of the infinity of possibilities that makes up my personality. This is me, and there's no one like me.

  • I'm very against the involvement of government in my day-to-day life (taxes, laws, the democratic process), but I believe that it must also ensure some sort of well-being to its citizens (national security, health care options).
  • I prefer women, but if the right guy came along, I would consider him as a life partner.
  • I enjoy watching pornography (which many consider misogynistic), and, what from female friends have told me, I'm way too in touch with my feminine side.
  • I'm very anti-religion, but I've seen the good it can do in people.
  • Some consider me an expert in some fields, but I don't enjoy reading about them.

Is there a title for that?

It always seems to be a personality that has been forced-upon when using a title. And, unfortunately, that personality usually implies prejudice upon other titled people. But, if you took the title away from something and really look at it, is it really the same thing as the title it was given?

  • I've heard many christians say that the Bible says that homosexuals are going to Hell, but they have nothing against their homosexual friends.
  • I've known of many capitalists denouncing communism (equating it to fascism and nazism), but want their government to provide all the solutions to their problems like Healthcare and Education.
  • Everybody hates that person called "boss", but wishes to be one.
  • The main argument of the proponents of making gay marriage illegal was that the word "marriage" applied only between a man and a woman. Most if not all of them didn't have any problems of providing the same rights to gay couples as if they were married, just didn't want to call them "married". The more surprising thing was that gays wanted to be called "married"; it was their right, apparently.
  • The Health Care reform currently in everybody's mind in the USA was delayed because the Democratic Party wanted to spend time in rebranding it to something else that wasn't called a "Public Option". It sounded like it came from Canada, and who wants that?
  • Israeli officials wanted to change the lay-man title of the "Swine Flu", because it wasn't kosher, to "Mexican Flu".

It's as if the problem is not the root issue of a cause, but the way the problem is called. Even the branding of "bad words" as taboo, when looked up closely, seems completely stupid.

As always, Georgy puts it best:

I think the whole reason we're encouraged in this country to think of ourselves as "black and white" (instead of "pink and brown," which is what we are) is that black and white are complete opposites that cannot be reconciled. Black and white can never come together. Pink and brown, on the other hand, might just stand a chance of being blended, might just come together.

If we took the time to go beyond the title, into the actual nitty gritty of our selves, we would be surprised that we are closer to each other than we thought. That the rounding errors of the black and white in this world are actually quite big, and that, even though we are all different, we are also pretty similar.


Light shined on his guitar while being accompanied by the raging horde that jumped in sync with the throb of his screeching solo. Anybody in that audience felt it was too long since the last time they saw him, and after the concert, everybody felt as if he had always been there. The stadium was full, and even the persons in the bleachers could feel the strength of the melodies conveyed by his fingers.

On stage, he hid well the feeling of a diluted performance. His bandmates were waiting for his usual abrupt ending: the unfinished solo, the storming off the stage, and the clapping they've grown to expect out of it. Behind the stage, they would endure two full hours of schoolyard tactics of ice treatment and evil glares of apathy. The night would have undoubtedly end with them trying to figure out what made him angry again, and apologising for it regardless if it was their fault or not. He'd look back at them with his usual condescending stare (which is the closest thing to redemption he can communicate), and they'd patch things up until the next gig.

This ritual had been going on for ten years, and the diluted feeling had been incorporated into his stage performance. The people were unaware of this: the standard of which they'd judged a performance had degraded so much, that anybody with a mediocre feel for the guitar could impress them. The bandmates wouldn't stop indulging him, as he was their only revenue stream. And he'd continue on, because, well, who wouldn't?

Every interviewer who dared ask him why did he always ended his performances so abruptly was rewarded with a smack in the face, and a ban of future face-time. His interviews brought ratings, and, thus, such question was then forgotten from all media. That resulted in that his abrupt endings were now his staple and audiences began brushing it off as only part of the show.

In this night, however, something was different. His bandmates noticed instantly. His stare was wide-eyed, as the one of an 8-year-old right before the first big drop of a roller coaster ride. He stepped back, seemingly frightened of the audience. He interrupted his solo, and he flaunted his guitar to the floor. He gasped for air, while his eyes begin tearing up. He was crying. His bandmates did what anyone would do in such a situation: they stopped playing.

He dropped to his knees, sobbing, and without no microphone, nobody could hear what later reports guessed as being a heartfelt apology. His bandmates turned to each other for symptoms of sanity, but none could concur. He stood up, and grabbed his guitar. Shaking, he struck a soft chord. And with tearful closed eyes, he begin playing what would later be dubbed as his "Gentle Cry".

He didn't ended it abruptly that night. He finished the setlist that had never been finished before, did two encores, and waved goodbye.

"Mellow, weird, but, hell, it's him, so it was good", an audience member said in an interview.

"Wow, he actually finished a set. I'm honoured!", a long-time listener said to his wife.

"I came here for kick ass solos, not winy-ass shit like that. Whatever, I hope he doesn't cry when he comes back, ruined it for me. The bassist was little off too, he should be replaced", a fan was heard saying after the show.

"Are you crazy? Best solo ever!", another fan screamed.

"I was kinda freaked out by the whole thing. I've listened to all of his records, and I haven't heard that solo before. Maybe it was one of his B Sides. The crying was too much I think", a radio host described it afterwards.

In an interview 30 years later, some old bandmates of his were asked, "What happened backstage after that show?" They responded, "We went back, and I asked him. He said something about a smell not being there anymore, and that he used to hate them before because they always looked the same, that they were indistinguishable."

"Yeah, indistinguishable. I never heard him talk like that before", another bandmate complemented. "He continued talking about how it used to be disgusting for him, that he couldn't bare looking at them for more than an hour. But that night, he said, he realised that he had it all wrong. That 'the smell went away' and that 'he saw them for what they really were'. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about."

After the tour was over, he financed what he called "The Never-Ending Sky Tour"; the title was not misleading. He didn't stop touring. Ever.

On his tombstone, the following was carved:

Each of you commands a single voice, bears a single face. When you're together, however, your faces blend with each other, and your chants become a prominent, beautiful whisper. A whisper from heaven that I can only hear through you. In this regard, each and every one of You is an angel, an indistinguishable messenger from God that accompanied me throughout my time in this planet. A better definition of angel does not exist.
To Michelu Terencius.

Using a Motorola L6 to Connect a MacBook Pro with 10.6 to the Internet by UK T-Mobile

I wrote something similar to this some time ago, but it was with my old PowerBook and it was running Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger).

I never actually took the time to make my Motorola L6 work as a Bluetooth Modem in 10.5 (Leopard), but, now that I've finished upgrading to 10.6 (Snow Leopard), I decided to have a stab at it again. It took a while, but the result was very satisfactory.

The problem with my previous post is that T-Mobile has probably disabled the telephone number that the mobile should dial-up to. However, this came as a blessing in disguise. It never occurred to me that both the Motorola L6 and the T-Mobile's network in the UK are GPRS-capable, which is faster and cheaper than straight-up dial-up.

In any case, to use your Motorola L6 as a GPRS Bluetooth Modem in Snow Leopard, start the process of setting a Bluetooth Device, which is pretty straightforward.

In the step in which Snow Leopard automatically detects the mobile as a possible Bluetooth Modem (Mac OS 10.6 rocks!), input the following:

Vendor: Motorola
Model: GPRS (GSM/3G)
Account Name: user
Password: wap

We're not done. At the end of this process, open System Preferences and go to the Network preference pane. You should see another option in the list of internet devices called "Bluetooth DUN". When selected, to its right, input:

Telephone Number: *99#

Apparently the mobile takes this as an init-string to connect to the GPRS network. That's it, click on "Connect" and you should be on your way.

The speed is better than dial-up in my opinion, although it's been long since I used the Motorola L6 for that. In any case, it's good to know that I again can be connected to Internet anywhere I need.

New Song: Sun

A short announcement:

There's a new song now. It's called name "Sun". You can download it here.

This is my vocal debut. Logic helped a lot fixing my flat notes, so, no, I can't really sing that well... yet.


Happily Ever After

The wedding was as beautiful as one could expect of a fairy tale. Her gown was as white as her skin, and the ballroom was filled with the biggest of banquets. Everybody looked up to her, and could only smile. "The dream of every young lady is now yours, my fair lady Snow," the former king whispered to her during the proceedings. She smiled, while her thoughts wandered of the future to be.

A peasant approached her. Humbly, he reached over her hand and kissed it, "Our hopes are with you, our gracious queen." The room turned dark, her eyes turned gazed, and her feet felt numb. A boulder was now at her shoulders, as the responsibility of her future kingdom weighted down on her. She realized that she didn't knew anything of politics, of diplomacy, and even less so of royal matters and etiquette. She stood up, and was about to flee off the floor, when a hand grabbed her arm, forcing her to sit down again. "My love, it is not polite to leave our guests unattended," said her prince, sitting down beside her.

He would not take his eyes off of her throughout the night. She felt being groped by his stare, as he rubbed the back of her neck. "Are you excited for tonight?", he sighed. "I... I don't know," she stumbled. She looked into his eyes, while the usual crystal beauty that emanated from them turned into red boiling anger. "You don't know? I rescued you from those seven monsters. I've enslaved them to prove my love for you. I've given you riches and power that no other woman before has garnered, and you don't know?!", he spoke in a low, irate voice.

"You've enslaved them? Why? They were protecting me!", she cried faintly. "They're tricksters! They had you imprisoned from your home. That bag of a queen kept them there for her own amusement. Why do you think she never killed them?", he replied. His gaze began moving down her body, "You're nervous, I get it. Don't worry. Once this moronic formality ends, and we formalise our marriage, you'll feel better, my luscious flower." His stare pierced her forehead, where her crown laid, "And tomorrow, we can start ruling this land like it should have when your mother was alive."

Snow glared into nothingness. She could see all the smiling faces, dancing in ignorance of her own ignorance. She looked back to her prince, grinning in his prompt take-over of power and lust. A familiar whisper came upon her ears, but now it made her cry powerless over her future, "The dream of every young lady is now yours, my fair lady Snow, and you shall live happily ever after."

Laconic Writing

When revising my thesis and articles (which I promise I'll begin doing promptly), a constant observation made by my supervisor is that I say too little with too many words. At first I thought it was just a conflict of style, and, coming from the side of storytelling, I enjoyed reading my academic writings as they were, so I didn't do much about it.

However, I just presented my fourth, and hopefully last draft of my thesis, and the same observation has come back. Other people have expressed the same opinion about my work as well: "The idea is very interesting, it's just too long-winded."

I'm worried about my storytelling antics in the academic side. My intention is for the reader to understand my work, and, thus, I reiterate, while trying to tell a story, to make the topic more comprehensible. However, I've uncovered something hidden behind this excuse. Bare with me while I digress...

Spartans were revered for their militaristic style of life, which was based on three virtues: equality, military fitness and austerity. They lived in minimalist settings, and their sentiments were expressed in the bare minimum of words. In fact, they were famous for their Laconic wit, and many philosophers, including Socrates, rejected the popular idea of the dumb Spartan: "[...] if you talk to any ordinary Spartan, he seems to be stupid, but eventually, like some expert marksman, he shoots in some brief remark that proves you to be only a child."

A good example of this is when Philip II threaten to invade Sparta. He stated "If I enter Laconia, I will level Sparta to the ground," to which the Spartans replied, "If." Another example is the beautiful comeback of Lycurgus, an important Spartan lawgiver, to a proposal to set up a democracy in Sparta: "Begin with your own family."

The more I've read about them, the more I've understood the beauty of austerity. Done properly, a bare minimum of words in a statement implies security, while being poetic. I envy them now, because I've realised that an important reason for the length of my writings is because of the use of vague statements like "I feel", "the majority of", "it is implied that", etc. that reek of insecurity.

I've talked to my supervisor about this, and it isn't really about the length of the text. In fact, oversimplification is dangerous, and there are topics that need lengthy explanations to be understood. What austerity is really about is making sure that every word in the text needs to be there: when the Samians went to ask the Spartans for their help, they did so with a long speech, to which the Spartans replied that they've forgotten the first half of the speech and "couldn't make nothing of the remainder". In a second hearing, the Samians came with just a bag and said "The bag wants flour." The Spartans answered that they didn't need to say "the bag", but still agreed to help.

I'll try my best from now on to not use "the bag", and texts will be long only when required. Just give me some slack once in a while; I'm a pompous ass and sometimes I want to show off.

It stopped.

I've always wondered about the random possibilities that we are brought to in day-to-day situations. For example, even though I could have been in any kind of position while sleeping, and my eyes kept in a location that could vary in the order of thousands, they were stroke by a single piercing ray of light braking free of my window shades that morning.

That seemed to be the motto of my life: me being at specific places at what could only be regarded as "interesting" times. I'm not complaining; it kind of verified that I was where I was supposed to be at any given moment in time. Still, it was sometimes annoying to know that I was supposed to be doing something without knowing what it was.

I got out of the shower and clothed myself. I stared at the watch that indicated that I was on schedule to catch my bus. I'm probably boring you with my life's predictability, but I assure you, predictable is far from describing that day. For starters, the bus didn't arrive... at all.

I worked at the Beijing Hotel, and my house was a good 30-minute walk from there. I usually took the 25-minute bus ride to the hotel, thinking that I rather get up a little early and arrive rested to my work. I am at that age that a 30-minute walk seems doable but not as an everyday thing, except, of course, for that day.

The day seemed pleasant enough, and the streets weren't as crowded as they usually were, which I found appealing as I don't dwell much with other people. I took good vigilance of the time, and I was ahead of schedule. I kept my pace, just in case. Around a kilometre away of the hotel, I found a couple of bags in the sidewalk. Knowing I had time, I decided to be a good samaritan. One was a purse, and the other a bag of groceries. The purse had an ID inside of a woman that lived nearby. I looked at my watch and saw that I had five minutes to spare. I felt a chill of pride in knowing I was going to make someone's day at the beginning of mine.

I detoured into the residential streets and wondered a bit to find the address. I thought that during this time in the morning, I could go walk around the vicinity of where I thought the house would be, and just ask passer-byers for specifics, but nobody was out. Was today a holiday that I forgot about? Not a soul to be seen. I knocked on a random house, but no answer. It was troubling, as two cars were parked outside; someone was definitely inside. Shy neighbourhood, I supposed. I looked at my watch, and my little adventure had already taken the time that I had to spare. Being a good samaritan was good and all, but my job took precedent. However, in my way out of the neighbourhood, I stumbled upon the address.

I could've returned the bags later, when coming back from work. I could've left the bags under their door. Hell, I could've just kept the money, groceries, and sold the purse for petty cash. But I was there, in the moment I apparently needed to be, so I knocked. On the third knock, the door swayed open. The discovered scene was not for the faint of heart, and I suffer from heart-faintness. To save you from the description, I'll leave you with the thought of a rug that should have been light beige, now soaked of blood of three bodies laying beside each other. I wanted to scream, to cry, to fall to my knees of the horror that presented itself in front of me, but the only thing I could do was run.

I arrived back to the street where I have found the purses. I looked at my watch, and felt guilty of still caring of getting to work on time. I felt relief when I realised that the sprint from the blood-filled house actually shorten my tardiness by only just one minute. I felt even more guilty right after.

I still had the bags with me. Maybe it was guilt combined with the fact that no one was around, but a compelling sensation came upon me to see what more was inside the bags. I sat down. And started with the purse. Her name was Chi Jie, a mother of two, married to a Post-Doctoral Academic in Peking University, Wen Jie. His name sounded familiar. The groceries weren't even a day old: eggs, cereal, milk... cookies. They were going to have breakfast.

I started to cry.

The street started rumbling. Rusty metal screeching sounded off in the distance. Tanks, I thought. Wen Jie; the name sounded too familiar. I suddenly realised what was happening. The news reported some students protesting the last few days; they must've escalated. More people were going to get killed... like Wen Jie, his wife, Chi, and their two children.

The screeching sounded closer; they were coming this way. Of course they were, the street that I was on leads off directly to Tiananmen Square. I was there, like always, on a specific place at what could only be regarded as an "interesting" time. But, what could I do? I was only a person, and I've heard of people getting killed by just seeing those enormous, hideous things. But I was there, with those two bags.

I could see them. Slowly making their way. My mind went blank as my right foot stepped out of the curve, and my left foot proceeded accordingly.

I was there, and I was supposed to be there.

Without knowing, I was standing in the middle of the street, with the metal screeching in front of me. You killed them, I thought, and you're going to kill more, it might as well be me. I stood there, waiting for the end.

The tank was ten metres away from me. I shouted: "You killed them! Why? Go away!" I knew it was pointless, but what had a point in that moment? I was there, and that was the only thing that I could do. "Go ahead, then, crush me! Like you did to Wen Jie and his family! Continue your route of destruction and see where it leads. There will be more that will follow, more that'll put themselves in your way. You think you can crush all of them? You think you have the endurance to kill the whole world? You keep on going, and see how far you get. Come, keep on going, and see how far the fuck you get!"

The tank was a metre away from me and I was ready. I was there, and was doing what I was suppose to do. The predictability and situationalism of my life finally shined through to clarity. My whole life was made for this moment, and it was happening. I was happy as I stood there to receive my end.

Then, the tank stopped. A ton of scrap metal built for destruction of buildings, of armies, that could reduce me to a pile of guts and blood without as much as switching gears, stopped. An unswayable force of habitual murder, a heavy killing machine that uses blood for fuel, stopped. The drums of death rumbling the streets, the determined march of the self-proclaimed horseman of the apocalypse whose sole purpose is to crumble every peasant of insubordination, stopped.

I was there and the tank stopped.

Quotes and Acknowledgements in my Thesis

I finally finished the first draft of my PhD thesis. I did one page with a couple quotes that seemed appropriate for the work:

We believe nut things because it is part of our little monkey brains to try desperately to make patterns. That is the genius of humans, the quality that lets us learn. Pattern recognition has moved us off the hostile savanna and into the much safer condominiums. When you see your cavemate die shortly after a snake bite, it is probably a good idea to avoid all snakes. Of course, this over-simplification also leads to racism, religion, and all kinds of magical thinking.

Penn Jillette: magician, actor, political commentarist, all-around nice guy.

You are me, and I am you, and you are listening to our song right this instant, but you don't know it. Whatever you think you're hearing isn't there right now, it was prefabricated and melted into your ear a long time ago... try to go beyond the frequencies, beyond the sound of your surroundings and listen to whatever is coming out.
You'll found out that I'm waiting for you on the other side, being you, being me, and our song, our real song, was playing all along.


The only place I can have fun is in the acknowledgements part. I am kind of proud of it.


First and foremost, I would like to thank my greatest teacher of all: God. I know that I am here and that I am able to write all of this for a reason. I will do my best in never forgetting what a great fortune I have had in just being here, and that it comes with a lesson and a responsibility. I hope I am doing the work you have planned me to do.

I would like to thank the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT). Without their grant, this PhD would not have been possible.

I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Barry Lennox, for putting in me the idea of shooting directly for a PhD and for creating an environment of humour around this whole ordeal. Whilst the sensation of doing something that would impress everybody was short-lived, those first few days of uncertainty that you pulled with me are ones that I will not ever forget. Whatever the reason of why you offered me this opportunity, may that have been my good looks or my impossible-to-ignore charm: thank you for believing in me, even if it only was for just a few moments. Oh, and I will hunt you down, wherever you are, for making me suffer; I will leave a tip though.

I would like to thank my friends and colleagues that I have met in this my home far away from home called Manchester. Specially Oskar and Marisa, who, even though have reduced me to a third wheel in our relationship, have blossomed into a partnership that will not be forgotten. Whatever happens with you two, do know that, throughout these last couple of years, your relationship has provided me with an impressively beautiful site to see, as it is when two friends fall in love with each other.

I would like to acknowledge Nihil and NihilBack, my two Apple laptops. NihilBack is a PowerBook G4 with a 17'' screen, 1.67 Ghz, 1 Gb RAM. Nihil is a MacBook Pro with a 17'' screen, 2.5 Ghz, 4 Gb RAM. I want to thank you for your essential support in this project, as, without it, all of my work, from the thought process, to the simulations, to the actual writing up, would not have been possible. Both of you have granted me the possibility to do whatever I want, to experiment on my thoughts, to write my ideas down, and to share them with the world. You are the bridge to my loved ones, and my wings to my endeavours. I know you are just pieces of hardware to anybody else, but to me, you are an extension of my being, and without you, it is hard to be me. Thank you.

I would like to thank my beloved, Maria del Carmen Valle Lira. Our relationship was born in a very odd way, but I would not have expected otherwise, as both of us are odd in our own beautifully weird world. You portray the symptoms of my shortcomings, and the celebration of my virtues. I have become a better man because of the mirror you hold up for me. Thank you and I love you.

Finally, my parents: Luis Antonio Rascon Mendoza and Virginia Estebane Ortega. They gave me my name, they gave me my life, and everything else in between. I pride myself in having words for everything, but they truly shut me up when it comes down to describing how much I love them and appreciate the efforts they have put into giving me the life I have now. They are the reason I did this; they are the reason I thrive to be better. Their pride for me is my main goal in life. As I have said many times before, the only thing I aspire for is that when they lay in their deathbed they would think, "I am proud of my son." Thank you, thank you, thank you.


MTV Video Example

YouTube Video Example

The Daily Show Video Example

If you're able to watch the videos inside those sites, you're in luck: you live in the US or your Internet is provided by an US-based company. If you're not, like me, you probably was welcomed by a notice that says that you are not allowed to watch the videos. Why is this so? Copyright.

It has been one of the topics most frequently talked about in the Technological section of the news these past few months, particularly because of the Pirate Bay trial that took place. I won't go into detail about the proceedings, but it has been an interesting ride.

I understand why an author/artist/inventor wants to protect what he or she has created, and not allow anybody else to take credit or make profit out of his or her creation. But, to what lengths? As an inventor, I want people to see and use my creation, and the more the better. I'll get feedback, and make my product better for people that aren't in my vicinity, making it applicable for an even greater amount of people. I thought that this was the ultimate goal of Copyright: by nominating the original creator and setting in stone who gets to decide what happens to the product, it is free to be shared among the users without fear of another person taking credit for others' work. How is it that it has turned into the complete opposite? Today, whenever I hear "copyright protected", the words "limited usage" come to mind, instead of "Oh, so that guy/gal did this?".

It is more than annoying, it borders at stupidity. I'm right now in the UK, and I can't see the YouTube video that I linked earlier. Ironically, the video is about a live performance of an UK band, People in Planes, but, because they signed with an US label, it can, by "enforcing copyright", not allow the video to show outside the US. Meaning that fans that live right around the corner from where they grew up can't see the band's videos.

(However, I did manage to get to see the video from somewhere else.)

Copyright is now being used as a limiting tool, instead of as a vehicle of sharing, which it can definitely be. Take the GPL licensing system, used in software development. Without the need of any lawyers or any copyright institutions, I can create a piece of software and license it to anybody that wants to use it, even to the point of providing my code to the user, and the credit of my work will be protected. The user gets this privilege, as well as that of sharing and even changing my code, with the obligation of passing on my name with it. If the user wishes so, I can incorporate his or her changes into the original code, and turn the project into a collaboration. And it works, the whole Open Source movement is based on it. So well in fact that the Internet wouldn't exist as it does today if it weren't for it. The majority of DNS servers, Web servers, and many of the more popular Website development tools are licensed using GPL.

However, I also understand that this is how I like to share my creations. Others would rather share them in different ways, such as the ones used by some music labels and movie studios. If an artist/inventor chooses that route, I can't do anything about it; it is their creation to protect in whatever means they feel necessary.


Still, that doesn't mean that I can't have an opinion about it:

I've had it with their completely moronic choices to "protect" the artist's work. They're dumb, counter-productive, and reek of greed. The fact of the matter is that copyright institutions are only protecting their bank accounts, not the artist's rights, which are reduced to poster children to be used as martyrs for the sake of the studio. It is a failing system that is only being kept alive by exploiting the artist's paranoia over their work being stolen. Screw the studios and their poor excuse of artistic intentions: if they keep overprotecting the artist's work, I won't spend my money on it. Simple as that.

EDIT: The People in Planes videos can't be viewed anymore in the link provided.

Email: Apple Tax

I just hate it when people fudge numbers for their own purposes. I am going to be complete Mac fanboy on this one, I'm sorry. As a disclaimer, however, it's not that I dislike the Windows environment, many of my dear friends use it with very good results; if you like it, go for it. What I don't like is when people try to convince others by showing numbers that aren't trustworthy.

Subject: Apple Tax Redux
Date: 12 April 2009 01:55:45 BST
To: <- (yeah, that's his real e-mail address)

Dear Roger Kay,

I've read your paper titled "What Price Cool?" in which you describe your observations of what you call "Apple Tax" and describe a situation of a family projecting their costs in a 5-year term towards switching to the Mac platform. Interesting read, but I've encountered several issues with the document.

Assuming that the next instalment of the Windows operating system, System 7, will "close the gap" and be a step forward towards the infamous "cool" factor you describe (an assumption which many of us that have already used System 7 may not agree with), it seems to be contradicting the overall objective of your paper. Aren't you touting "cool", which is subject to a product's brand, to be unnecessary? IBM, considered to be THE computer brand when the first version of Windows launched, placed it at the hands of millions of users that already heard of the company in the Industry setting. Microsoft reached all of these users because of IBM's brand marketing, giving it the market share that it has now. I'm obligated to state that, to the contrary of what you may think, there's no "conspiracy theory" here.

For the normal consumer, at first, there was no other better alternative, IBM was it; others came and went, until the IBM clones entered into the picture. Because people didn't need to change much of their workflow when switching to IBM clones, companies, such as Compaq and HP, who offered cheaper alternatives thrived. However, acquiring a machine still needed an initial investment, and many consumers and specially businesses, who are not accustomed to and frankly dislike change, stayed with IBM and Windows.

This is where I found the situation of the theoretical family you've described in the paper a bit confusing. At first I understood that the head of the family was considering either upgrading the family's current hardware or switching to the Mac side with new equipment, which explains why no Office, Quicken, and other software licenses are not shown in the PC side of the spreadsheet. However, the cost of new equipment in the PC side hinted that the head of the family was in fact considering buying new hardware altogether.

Re-reading your paper, various times actually, did not clear up which type of course is the father considering, but the majority of the points describe a situation of acquiring new equipment. If it is this situation, there are some observations that need to be considered which weren't:

- An Office License must also be bought for the two new computers, as well as a Quicken License, which I'm guessing is going to be installed in the main desktop.

- Antivirus and anti-adware software and their respective subscription must also be acquired, as well as registry clean up tools. These are not optional in the windows environment you're describing.

- The Windows PCs also need a 2 hour monthly maintenance, which factors in as time spent with both computers. Two hours on a Sunday is time away from the kids, from the wife, from rest; it does matter. Another, more expensive option is to not do any maintenance whatsoever, and require IT support every so often to re-install everything from scratch.

- There is a great amount of software (mainly iLife) that is included inside Apple computers, which are not considered in the PC side of the spreadsheet. This software is helpful in the already established workflow of a family such as the one you've described. A set of substitute software must also be added in the PC side, as well as their upgrade in the 3-year time, if an honest comparison is to be made. Also, two licenses of each of these substitutes should be bought and upgraded for each computer, as the iLife family package already accounts for the whole family.

It can be argued that the iLife software should not be factored in, as it is probable that some software may not be actively used, however, as you've added the MobileMe subscription (which many Apple users don't actively use), it seems only fair to consider EVERYTHING that the user is investing in when buying the hardware.

I've attached a recalculation of your projections having all of what I described in mind. I don't think you'll be surprised how the overall costs of ownership changes when you do an honest comparison.

Thank you for your time.

PS. The fact that Microsoft sponsored your analysis did not surprised me in the least.

Caleb Rascon
Software Developer
Makko Solutions, Co-founder

PhD Student

Click here to download the PDF file with the new projections I attached to the e-mail.

Creatively Wrong

This post was inspired by Sir Ken Robinson's conference at the 2007 TED Talks.

I was on my way home a couple of days ago, riding a half-full bus near a mother with her (I'm guessing) less-than-a-year-old daughter. Sitting beside them was a man in his early thirties. The child was given a piece of paper to play with and dropped it. The man picked it up and handed it to the child. The child at first was suspicious. She looked back at her mum who smiled acceptedly, and grabbed the piece of paper back. Then, the kid surprised me when she dropped it again, but this time to experiment if the man would do it again; he did. This was the game the lad played all the way to my bus stop. That's all she needed: a piece of paper, and somebody to pick it up.

I remember when I was a kid and the teachers made us work in the classroom. Not to brag, but I regularly finished working before almost everybody, partly because I liked to play with my pencils and erasers afterwards. I imagined that they were spaceships, or cars in a race, or martial arts experts, or super-powered humans with awesome abilities like flying or laser-beam controlled rockets that were shot from their arms. Other than when I was working, I don't remember a moment in which I imagined they were actually pencils and erasers.

I miss that sensation of living in my head, of not caring to do wrong. I've always wondered what happened to it. Hearing Sir Robinson made me realise where it went: the teachers took it away from me. Not the actual persons, mind you, but the academic process. It's a bottleneck of sorts. The persons that are good at math get good grades and are expected to excel in life, whilst the artistic types are left behind to fend for themselves. Sir Robinson's right, the current school model aims to form academic professors, which are built to keep the model alive. By its own definition, no creative process to improve the model is allowed.

Kids are born without the adult's reservation of doing something out of precaution of getting it wrong; frankly, they couldn't care less. In fact, many of the kids I remember talking to when I was a teenager even craved being shown wrong. Is as if they knew insticintively that "if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original" (Sir Ken Robinson). Their questions drowned my senses when, knowing they can do anything they wanted, wanted to know everything about everything.

Do the following experiment: walk into a kinder-garden classroom and ask the kids there if anybody knows how to dance, sing, or paint. Everybody will say that they know how to. Now try to do the same in a college classroom...

It's like the academic model is built to suck the creativity out of us, producing future parents that will suck even more creativity out of their children, turning all of this into a spiral of numbness and unidirectional boredom. To think I picked up a guitar until the age of sixteen, to think I knew how to create a whole universe from a stain of ink, to think... to imagine.

I guess this is my objective for the next year: to crave moments of imagination, to not care of my wrongdoing, and to believe, wholeheartedly, that I can do anything. To be a child again and, in the purest sense, have fun.

How ironic that now, after all this time of seeing and knowing and experiencing life, it sounds like probably the hardest thing I'll ever do.

A six-year-old little girl, who hardly ever paid attention, was in her drawing lesson. This time, however, she was deeply concentrated in her work. The teacher, surprised by her conviction, came close to the child and asked, "What are you drawing?" "I'm drawing a picture of God", the little girl replied. The teacher, puzzled, exclaimed back, "But nobody knows what God looks like!" The little girl, with that cute smile prevalent during that age, answered, "They will in a minute."

New song: Bkp

This is a short one.

Just to let you know that there's a new song to download:

Click here for my share of Bkp.

There's room for more (a bass harmony, and maybe voice) but I like it. This is the first song I've recorded from scratch using Logic and my Guitar Rig, so I'm stoked by how it came out.

Comment away.

Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church

If you don't know about the Westboro Baptist Church, I envy you. In my opinion they are to Christianity as what the Al-Qaeda are to Islam; although the former may be more law abiding than the latter. Their message is about hate, and I just couldn't take it anymore.

They have a website, which I'm not going to link here (they have all the publicity they need, believe me), in which they have a contact form. The following is an email I've just sent to the Westboro Baptist Church. I hope you can grasp the severe amount of sarcasm in there, and the fact that I needed to get their trust in the first paragraphs so they get to the good part in the middle.

Subject: Thank you. Ideas to save the USA from damnation.


Hello my brethren,

I do hope you don't trash this email with the rest of the scum that I'm sure floods your inboxes. I have heard your words, and read your message, and I'm intrigued. In fact, I'm disappointed. You see, I think you're doing too little in favour of God and the USA.

You say God hates Fags, and point to several parts of the Bible, word of God, that asserts it. There's no denying that, of course, we know that their decadent, filthy ways are the reason the USA is seen as only beast in the eyes of our Lord. How else can God see the USA if they fornicate and blaspheme as only dirty dogs do?

However, I think there are other things that you need to add to your holy message. Here's a humble list of what else I think can be done/said in the name of our God:

-God hates Family:
.Matthew 19:29. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

-God hates Children:
.Exodus 12:29. And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
.Leviticus 26:30. And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

-The latter also works for "God loves Cannibalism", which is confirmed by the Holy Communion where we eat the body of our Lord.

-God hates Jesus:
.Matthew 1:23. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel [Isaiah]—which means, "God with us".
(That's not the name of Jesus)
.Romans 1:3. regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David
(The only descendant of Jesus is the Virgin Mary, not Joseph who is a descendant of David)
.Isaiah 7:16. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
(This never happened during the life of Jesus)

This proves that Jesus is not the true messiah, only a blasphemer portraying as the God's ONLY son, when we know all of us who have been baptised are His sons.

Hope that this helps in your quest for righting the USA out of damnation with all that damn tolerance towards family, children, and Jesus (and no support for cannibals) which the Bible, word of God, clearly shows as the reason that the USA is going to Hell.

Thank you,


I think it's time I write about someone I lost some time ago. Like any other death that I've experienced from afar, the feeling that I have for it doesn't come out until some time after. However, this time it's a little a different, as I've never met the man. I'm talking about George Carlin.

Those who know me know that most of the thoughts and positions that I waffle about have been brought up by comedians. Comedy is a wonderful, wondrous and wooing way to communicate. It disarms you, leaving you open for new thought. However, it is also tricky, troublesome and tormentful, as if it's done wrong, the message that was meant to be communicated may be misunderstood. And it is in this way that comedy strikes me as a very important medium: you need to be ready to be hit, you need to prepare yourself to open up. It is a bit like anal sex: you need to relax before it goes in, if not it's probably going to hurt (this one's for you Georgy).

It's on that regard that Mr. Carlin shines. He manages to convey his message beautifully arranged and perfectly portrayed, making it very difficult not to listen. He's going to kick you in the balls, and if you don't open up, he makes certain that it hurts. And in that exquisite pain, you start thinking about what he just said, and why it pains you. You start yelling back, trying to make some sense of your past knowledge about the subject, and at that moment it hits you: you don't know anything about the subject, just bits and pieces. So you research about it, you look into yourself for a new explanation, and you come out at the end with a new point. And then you realise that the new point is not so different from your starting point, and that in fact the slight differences between the old and the new are completely ridiculous. And in that ridicule you start laughing. You can't believe how important you thought those differences were, which now seem so insignificant. You listen to him again, and smile, and laugh... and an epiphany comes: You've just come to a conclusion about a subject with your own self, and with a smile in your face to top it off.

He's been my main tool for new thought since I knew about him. Even in his death he's helped me to know myself, as I've noticed that his death (being of a person I've never met) has hit me exactly the same way as any other death in my family. This suggested that I'm not particularly devoted to persons close to me, which I need to address. Either that, or I have unknowingly welcomed him as part of my family.

I know he would slap me on the face if I kept writing as if I was putting him on some sort of pedestal. He's not a saint (that specifically would infuriate him), and he's certainly not in heaven. But he's probably not in hell either. In his interview with Jesus in one of his books, there was a mention of the existence of a heck, which is not as bad as hell; who knows, he's probably there right now, playing poker with some friends of his. I suppose that now that he's dead he would enjoy the act of me writing shit about him. However, I tried, I really tried, but I can't come up with any bad things to write about him, other than he's white (which many people find offensive nowadays), and his idiotic quirk when he mimes fucking someone on stage.

Even his position in religion I always thought has been spot on:

If it's true that we're all from the center of a star, every atom on each of us from the center of a star, then we’re all the same thing. Even a Coke machine or a cigarette butt in the street in buffalo is made out of atoms that came from a star. They've all been recycled thousands of times, as have you and I. And therefore, it's only me out there. So what is there to be afraid of? What is there that needs solace seeking? Nothing. There's nothing to be afraid of because it's all us.

The trouble is we have been separated by being born and given a name and an identity and being individuated. We've been separated from the oneness, and that's what religion exploits. That people have this yearning to be part of the overall one again. So they exploit that. They call it god, they say he has rules, and I think it's cruel. I think you can do it absent religion.

For people who read this blog periodically (which I'm pretty sure I can count with the fingers of my left hand... the right hand is busy right now), you've probably noticed my unprecedented use of "foul" language in this post. Get used to it:

It's not a need [to use the F-word]. It's a choice. [...] It's a form of spice in my stew.

I've always tried to stop myself from using it when writing for this blog, but I don't think I will anymore. There's no such thing as "foul" language, they're just words, and damn it, I'm going to use every one that I deem necessary. In honour of Mr. Carlin, if it feels right, it's going in... that's what she said, I know.

I don't want to end without giving you what I think are his best two quotes:

In our school we didn't have grades. We didn't have A's, B's, C's and D's. The only A's I got -and this is a little corny- I got their Attention, I got their Approval, their Admiration, their Approbation, and their Applause. And those were the only A's I wanted, and I got'em.

As the answer for the question: If there was a Heaven, what would you like God to say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Now we're going to have some fun!


Right Writer

Almost a year and a half ago I sat in front of this screen and pleaded for an unknown but familiar energy to move my fingers through the keyboard to begin writing. It worked like I knew it would.

I sat here and began the process of talking in my head, and then simply writing it down: think, write, think, write. I accustomed myself to the thought of seeing the writer in me emerge like it always has after what some may describe as a ritual: my plea to a god (in the latter case, Paz) in the form in which I needed to do. It's appropriate, as doing the plea involves the presence of the energy that I want the presence of.

It's a nice, illogical, but powerful circle that can't be defined, but somehow it works. I don't remember how it started to work, or how did I began understanding it. I'm pretty sure even now that I don't know how it works, but as with any rituals, it is not the inner mechanisms that we care about, but of their products; still, my rationale tempted me.

It's been long since I really delved into this being, into this ability again. However, this time, I'm frightful. My fear stems from not knowing what do I become when I write, is it me who is writing or is it this energy? And then I start to wonder if I'm the right vessel for such energy.

I read from others and sit in awe of their wondrous mastery over the word, and realise that I'm not a writer. I obviously don't think like one. The structure of my essays can't stand the rigour in which an essay needs to be written with. My stories don't hold the intense sway that I've read in others'. And the technique with which I write has been extensively criticised by superiors and colleagues as being plain "not good".

Still, I wonder: do these other writers, with their structural essays, swaying stories, "good" writing, have similar rituals as I do? Maybe not in the same manner as mine (a thought that not only saves their sane stature, but also my out-of-ordinary reputation), but with at least the same intent. They must have; even seeing a blank piece of paper (or word-processor screen) and imagining what to write about may be enough for this energy to come onto them. If this true, then an interesting concept creeps up:

Is it them who are writing or is it this energy? And then I start to wonder if they're the right vessel for such energy. The only difference between me and them in this respect would be my poetic attempts to make something more out of the seemingly ordinary event of starting to write something long. Nice little thought, but I won't go into it too much: I know I'm not a writer, I don't feel like writing everyday (thus, the rituals) and it is usually more what I say then what I write that feels more, you know, me.

Still, writers have always being mythical figures. They record history, communicate wisdom as well as help misinformation tactics, and even wind up being considered artists in the process. Of all the things that were considered historically significant in the last century, can you remember one that wasn't adhered to an impressive speech or important quote? And yet, borrowing a bit from a great writer/comedian (Lewis Black), to become a writer the only thing you need to do is to say "I am a writer" and you're done. Oh, and by his accounts, you also need to be full of shit.

As I'm staring at the end of this piece it has occurred to me that this is in fact the ritual that I just described (this time it was Lewis Black, who knew?), and, as I already know that I'm full of shit, there is only one thing left:

I AM A WRITER... so let it begin (hope Mr. Black was right).

EDIT: I tend to avoid editing a post after publishing it, unless I find some grammar mistakes or I know of something afterwards that needs to be added to the post. This is the latter. I just heard from Lewis Black in an interview:

If you want to write, sit down and start writing; that's what a writer is. Even if you're not writing anything of importance. Uhmm... THAT DOESN'T MEAN BLOGGING. Doesn't mean blogging. I don't care, it doesn't fuck count to me. It doesn't, [...] I get so upset by it I don't even... I really literally cannot form an opinion because when I say the word I just get enraged. It sounds like something... it sounds like fatty tissue. "I was doing very well, until I got this blog."

For those of you, like me, who doesn't know what fatty tissue is: it's the lump on the side of women's breast that signifies possible breast cancer. Here is the interview.

My opinion? I just laughed hysterically for about two minutes.


He came into being with a bright light surrounding him and vanishing. He felt weak, and unknowing. He began moving and noticed others coming into being behind him. A voice came from a distance, "Welcome to Shadowglen. Young... young..." an unnerving pause shook the wind around him, "what are you?"

Another voices greeted the others behind him:

"Welcome to Shadowglen, young druid."
"Welcome to Shadowglen, young warrior."
"Welcome to Shadowglen, young rogue."

The voice that greeted him evolved from warm to chilling: "What are you?! What's your name?! Answer!" He searched his mind for an answer, "I don't know..." The voice retorted, "No newcomer is born without a name. Tenaron! Trespasser!"

Three dark birds came flying down quickly, and in mid-flight one turned into a bear, another into a cat, the other into a night elf. They all surrounded him, while a beautiful violet bird landed in front of him and turned into a night elf with a warm presence. "I am Tenaron", he explained, while looking him up and down. "You'll have to excuse our greeter. Although his main duty is to greet, he is also a lookout for Horde. It is very rare for Horde to even reach Teldrassil, even less probable for them to reach Shadowglen, but we never can be too safe."

"Horde? Teldrassil?", he said, searching for answers.

Tenaron, still looking him up, "Greeter, no cause for alarm. He is not of the Horde and does not wish us harm", turning to the spirit behind him, "but... he's not human, nor dwarf. Not even draenei."

"I am not of this world, it appears", he concluded. "The hostile greeting I've received makes me believe this Horde stands in poor graces with your kind... these humans, dwarves, and draenei."

"and night elves. We are Alliance, and you believe correctly. It is of long-stance this conflict. They have hunted and killed our kind for ages now. They are beasts that bear no reason, their society has no room for civility and understanding, such as we do." Tenaron proudly explained.

"Calling another an unreasonable beast is a sign of poor civility and understanding, Tenaron", he declared, looking straight into Tenaron's eyes.

"How... dare you?" a shocked Tenaron exclaimed, while a cat hissed, a bear growled, and night elf's hand started to glow. "We welcome you into our sacred land, and you answer with this pomposity!"

"My dear Tenaron, you judge me as pompous, while here you stand with three of your highly-trained guards preparing to kill a newcomer with no training whatsoever." He smiled to himself, "New... comer. New... Niu. Yes, that will be my name then: Niu."

Tenaron reacquired his posture. "I will not apologise for our ways to secure our home, young... whatever you are. Niu, is it? As our greeter has stated, no newcomer comes without name, appointed by the gods. The gods that have protected us and helped us fight the Horde. You are welcome to join us, Niu. I see potential in you, that will be of great benefit for our cause."

"These gods of yours did not appoint me my name. I have. I'm relieved of this, as it appears these gods crave for war and I don't want to be linked to them in any way." Niu shouted.

"Our gods don't crave for war, it is the Horde's gods that do!" Tenaron defending his creed.

"I'll figure that for myself." Niu, walking towards the outskirts of Shadowglen. The cat behind him stepped aside unknowingly.

"Very well. I should pray to our gods for your death to be swift. Although, if it's by a Horde's claw, I truly doubt that this will be the case." Tenaron shouted back.

After passing through Shadowglen's entrance gate, he felt an impenetrable presence surrounding him, making him unable to move. A strong and reverberating voice made itself present, "I thought I would never see the day. It was true. You were born. Niu: wondrous name. Elegant, cunning, sincere."

"Who are you?" Niu asking without fear.

"My name is irrelevant, but I am of the Gee Em, and we've been expecting you. The story of this land is long, and, although Alliance and Horde bear many differences, such hatred can be contemplated as ironic: they are destined to share this land forever," the voice whispered.

"How would you know this?" Niu grinned, as he knew the answer to his question.

"We wrote that destiny, young Niu", the voice warmly responded, "however, we didn't write how would they be sharing this land."

"This is where I come in," Niu interrupted. "Yes, Niu," the voice, seemingly impressed, "and your timing could not have been better. As we speak, the night elf who just spoke to you is receiving a warning of an incoming attack from the Horde, and..."

Niu smiled, "it is up to me. It rests in me. I come with a new age to this land. In me lies the possibility for them to live peacefully, for one of them to enslave the other, or..."

The Gee Em grievingly answered, "for both of them to destroy each other. Yes, Niu, your presence may come with their extermination, making them share this land in spirit... It is your choice."

Niu glared at the horizon. He looked at his transparent hands and body. He looked up at the sky. He closed his eyes, and smiled again. "Their hatred is the origin of their destruction. Me doing nothing will get them there. I am here, thus, their destruction is mine as well," He paused, "Slavery starts a never-ending cycle of animosity, that is probably the reason of why things are as they are now." The Gee Em's smile was felt throughout the land. "Ok. I have made a decision."

The floor trembled. The sky was flooded by mounted dragons, birds and planes, heading towards "Darnassus! Our capital city is being raided by the Horde!", a night elf shrieked.

"Take me there, wise Gee Em," ordered Niu. In a flash, he was standing in the portal towards the dock of Teldrassil. A moment later, he was seeing a figure appearing in front of him. It was Thrall, an intimidating orc, a leader of the Horde that has broken many Allies' necks with his powerful hammer. Behind Niu stood Tyrande Whisperwind, a fare night elf, a leader of the Alliance that has burned to death many Horde with her uncanny use of magic. All stood still, as if they were in the centre of a hurricane. "I gather you're here to kill them," Niu spoke to Thrall while a massive amount of orcs, trolls, undead and blood elves began to gather.

"Yes," answered Thrall, pondering who was he speaking to. "Are you with the Alliance?", he asked.

"No," responded Niu. "Then you must be Horde. You seem weak, but that shouldn't stop you from gathering yourself to attack these self-righteous scumbags," growled Thrall.

"I'm not Horde either," responded Niu. Thrall moulded a question in his mind that couldn't be put into words.

Niu turned to Tyrande, "I gather you're here to defend this land from the Horde." "Yes, these beasts have threatened us before. We're ready to finish them once and for all," answered Tyrande while the city began filling up with dwarves, humans, night elves and draenei.

"Threat?! You speak of threat when you're people enslaved mine for ages! How else are we going to be safe while your hands, feet, and bodies are still breathing the life my kind gave you?", Thrall shouted.

"You call it slavery, we call it protection from the lack of reason of your kind. The humans had no other choice than to put you in cages after your decent in helping for our destruction in the First War," Tyrande answered.

"We were brought here to prosper. We were promised land. A land of welcoming, but we were betrayed. Our elders tried to reason afterwards, but your fathers wouldn't listen," Thrall almost crying.

"Reason? What kind of reason lies in such beasts? Your elders would have betrayed us. Our fathers couldn't risk that to happen," Tyrande sniffing away Thralls tears.

Niu looked at the sky, took a small breath, and said: "You are both here to prevent your deaths by the hand of the other, but you wish to do so by killing each other. You seem both to me breeds of great reason, but of little understanding. And such misunderstanding has led both of you to think of the other as either mindless beasts or self-centered elitists. Allies, Horde: this is not your land. It is of itself; in fact, we are of the land. And we shall return to it one day, but not at the hand of each other, but at the words of the destiny writers. There is great power in both your lines of breed, but it can reach greater heights if you come to realise that your past is not your present, and that the acts of the dead cannot speak for the acts of the living. I see a great deal of both of you in the other, but you can't see that because pride has blinded you. A pride that has been bestowed upon you through a simple whim of destiny: you were born either Alliance or Horde, a decision which wasn't your own, but still you wave your flags, shouting words of pride for being an Ally or a Horde as if you had something to do with the fact that you are one. I am here, and didn't ask to be here, but it has been my choice to remain here and say this to you, and for that I'm proud, because it was my choice. Don't be proud for what your breed has done, be proud for what you personally have done and what are going to do. Look into your hearts, and see that the thing that will bring the most pride to each of your kind is to you see yourselves as children of these lands... as brothers."

Niu felt a small breeze through his body and he closed his eyes as his being was coming to an end. Everybody stood by as the essence of Niu evaporated. A Gee Em whispered to him, "Come back to us, son. You have done well."

Thrall and Tyrande looked at each other and gave a simple nod. Thrall walked towards Tyrande, and mid-way stopped and laid his hammer in the ground. Tyrande began levitating her staff and laid it on Thralls feet; she then casted a spell onto Thrall, making him feel stronger. "You bear now a mark that before only an Ally was able to bear: the Gift of the Wild. It should endure your entire life," Tyrande warmly remarked. Thrall picked up Tyrande's staff and ordered, "Horde, back to your cities and villages. We shall leave our brothers in peace."


For personal reasons, I have decided to stop playing World of Warcraft until an undefined date. These reasons will surely be explained in later posts. However, I want to mention that I have met a wonderful group people while playing the game, both Horde and Allies, to which I dedicate this story:

Thank you for fighting with me, healing me, and making me feel needed and good at what I was doing. I will come back a better man, and a better feral druid.

My armory page.