Back from Pennsylvania and playing with my toys.

The down-low on Hussein's execution.

My new USB audio recorder rocks all known sheep. I'm currently recording the third tape of.. who knows.. and the damage done to the tapes from listening to them so much over the years aside, the recordings are very clear and clean.

Well, there are slightly more than twenty-four hours left in the year 2006 of the common era, and I am still figuring out what in the hell happened to my vacation. No, seriously. I'm not complaining about not getting a vacation or anything like that, I'm really wondering what happened to it. At some point in the first three days off, I lost track of what day of the week it was. When I last knew for sure it was Saturday, and Lyssa and I were headed back to Pennsylvania to see our folks. Things got a little weird after that, and then I was only sure of calendar days.. sort of. I stopped keeping track around Christmas Day and wound up thoroughly screwing my chronolocative senses.

Yesterday Lyssa and I spent the day cleaning up around the house. The kitchen was completely stripped down and cleaned up, and I threw a couple of loads of laundry in between jaunts to run errands. I've been making breakfast in the mornings, too, which is something that I quite enjoy.

I'm still recording cassette tapes using my new USB converter. I'm in love with new tech. I should listen to what I've been recording soon so that I can be sure that they actually took, and then I can get rid of the tapes to reclaim space.

Last night, Lyssa, Hasufin, Mika, and I decided to head back to the Galleria to go to the Lebanese Taverna in northern Virginia near the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Finding the Galleria wasn't too difficult, seeing as how we've been there before. Actually finding the restaurant inside of the Galleria was a comedy of errors on my part. Not only do I have a hard time navigating the highways, but I'm not so good with multi-level shopping complexes, either. It took Lyssa to find the restaurant,
I'm ashamed to admit.

This ties in with the whole "what day is it, anyway?" effect I've been dealing with all week. I didn't realise that it was Friday night in NOVA, which meant that the Lebanese Taverna (1840-G International Drive; McLean, VA; 703-847-5244) was going to be packed, practically to standing room only.

Unfortunately, this meant that the quality of the food and the quality of the service would have a inversely proportional relationship. Or, in other words, I've got to give it a rating of three and one-half flareguns - good food, but I almost had to resort to pyrotechnics to get any service. It took far too long to even get our water refilled, let alone our meals. They also messed up Mika's order pretty badly, given her dietary restrictions since having her gallbladder removed a while back. Part of this can be chalked up to how busy they were, but that excuse only goes so far.

I don't think we'll be going back there anytime soon.

More on the death of Saddam Hussein.. I don't know if this is real or not, but I've looked at it and the faces are consistent with what I've seen in the BBC and CNN news morgues, so I'm willing to suspend judgement of this video, which appears to show the last few seconds of Hussein's life.

I don't know why I'm following this... it's not my usual morbid fascination at work here, nor is it because I am particularly interested in the politics of the Middle East. It's not because I particularly had a hate-on for Hussein; as a rule, I don't let myself succumb to hatred of any kind, because of the pain it inflicts upon the rest of the universe.

Wait, I do know why.

In the US, executions are performed in the depths of state and federal prisons, and the most the public will hear of them are press releases that such-and-such were put to death at midnight on this-day. Rarely are photographs allowed to be taken, and video footage is, so far as I know, never permitted. You already know how I feel about capital punishment, so I won't cover that again. Videos like this, assuming that they're real and not clever mockups, drive the point home. Execution is murder, pure and simple. Murder of the one as revenge on the part of the many, dead and alive. This isn't hidden behind concrete and steel walls. This isn't black text on dirty white newsprint, nor is it ASCII on a screen. It's video footage of someone being killed for their crimes.

This is what it looks like. It's scary. It's nasty. It's a loud "Snap!" as the rope goes taut and the neck breaks. It's the rustling of fabric as the now uncontrolled body spasms as it tries to act on the last commands from a swiftly dying brain. It might even be the dripping of urine on the floor from a height of about ten feet as the sphincters relax.

This is death.

Remember it well. Remember why it was inflicted, and upon whom it was inflicted.

As for what it does to the balance of karma, it's not my place to say, because I simply don't know. What I do know is that there is symmetry to all things, including life (and what one does with it) and death (and how one reaches it).