At the time, my life's greatest obstacles were parenthood, financial anxiety, and terminal boredom. Andy's included human rights violations, imminent social chaos, and the looming spectre of economic collapse. Needless to say, every parallel he drew was similarly unbalanced and disproportionate. Over the five years that we stayed in touch, I gained more perspective from this affable young Siberian than any friend who preceded him. We lost contact over the years, but nary a day will pass when I don't think of our many e-mail sessions. We used to refer to them as "mental defecation rituals", and it remains an appropriate metaphor.
In Andy's absence, I've decided to throw my continually recycling detritus (i.e., thoughts and experiences) onto a computer screen for the perusal of a wider audience. Many (if not all) of the posts will seem pessimistic, cynical, and/or nihilistic, with a touch of misanthropy thrown in for good measure. But keep in mind that this is my venting space, so you're not going to hear much about what is good in my life (which is a lot). Consider yourself warned... :)