June 9, 2002
Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my dad's death...I think I've said most of the things I needed to in what I wrote on the day when I had been without him for as long as I had been with him, but here are two things I'd like to post, a recent anecdote from my mom and an essay I wrote over ten years ago, that I just rekeyed in.
October 11, 2003
Anecdote of the Moment
"Had a funny incident too, that I think Dad would have enjoyed. I had my friend Wendy over for dinner last Saturday, and mentioned about Friday being the 15th anniversary of Dad's death. Wendy and I sit usually sit with a group of about eight for lunch in the canteen. On Friday the subject of October birthdays had come up, and Wendy just looked across the table at me, and in a very kind voice said, 'I really did mean to get you a card.' I knew what she was talking about, but the rest of the group immediately started wishing me 'Happy Birthday!'. Wendy look horrified for a moment, and then the two of us just burst out laughing. We did explain it once we got our breath back."
--Heheheh. That e-mailed anecdote from my mom is just a lovely bit of macabre humor.
On Strawberries and the Paths Taken
I walk down the dark path at my great uncle's farm with Dad. The path is deeply ridged with tractor treads and covered with armies of rocks. There is a storage building hugging a hill, and on the hill side the roof is so low I can climb to the top and survey the strawberry fields. I don't, though. Dad and I come to a small brook and cross the wooden bridge. A sign here reads "CAUTION - STEEP BANKS, DEEP WATER". Dad warns me not to get too close. We turn right and walk past the storage house, next to the now brown fields. We pause in the chilly November night and look west. An airplane is rising, though all we can see are the three lights on the bottom. To my hyperactive eight-year-old imagination, it's a UFO riding into the inky cold of space. I tell Dad that. We laugh, hug, and slowly walk back to the welcoming farmhouse.
I walked down the sterile path of the hospital corridor with m mom. She had prepared me for what was to come. Dad had experienced seizures, and he had been diagnosed as having spinal meningitis. My mom said we were lucky; it hadn't touched his mind. However, he had lost almost all of his hand-eye coordination. He couldn't even feed himself. He was almost blind. He couldn't really see me, or my mom, but he knew our voices. His speech was slurred, almost incomprehensible. We both struggled so that I could understand him. The shock of seeing him this way banged against my mind. I really didn't feel that this was my dad, this unshaven man who needed assistance in completing the most essential tasks of life.
When my dad's seizures had first started, I had visited him in the hospital, and he was still basically well. Then, reassured that everything was going to be right, I took my planned trip to New York to visit friends. But then, after the grand-mail seizures, I did not know how to act. I hugged him stiffly, and he hugged me back, as best he could. We began to cry. I did not know how to act. What he missed most, he explained through half-spoken words and rough hand motions, were the kinds of things his father had done for him that he wanted to do for me, like giving me money out of his wallet when I needed it, with no assistance. Only now do I realize what he meant. He felt so helpless, and I was so unable to do anything to make it better. After this first visit, I went to the waiting room, trying to forget and ignore.
Finally, my dad, though still essentially bed-ridden, was able to come back home. We moved his bed into the dining room, next to the kitchen. It was my habit to pick a path downstairs to the kitchen in the dark before school every morning. One morning, as I hunted for breakfast, my dad, a very light sleeper, asked me to make him a bologna sandwich (by this time his speech had become clearer and we had become more adept at understanding him). It was a simple task. Just toast the bread and get a piece of bologna out of the fridge. Dad, although he was now able to walk with a walker, still was not able to do this himself. So every morning for a few weeks, I would offer him a bologna sandwich, a favorite of his ever since he was a boy. And then, for a reason that I cannot fully remember, I stopped. I would try to be very quiet when making my breakfast and would not offer to make his. If he asked me to make his sandwich, I would, of course, but only if he asked. Maybe I was just so stupidly lazy that I thought I couldn't wait for the time it took to make the toast. Or maybe I didn't like the constant reminder of his vulnerability, and therefore my own. I wonder if he noticed the change.
It has been eight years since we walked down the path at my great uncle's farm and two years since my dad's death. I think back to the year of slow recovery. He learned to walk with a walker, then a cane, and then unassisted. His speech was understandable, and his phone with the giant push-buttons was a prized possession. Near the end, he had relearned to read via large-print books and supermagnifying glasses. But then, tumor treatments plus pneumonia proved to be too much for him. Maybe it was too much for my mom and me, too.
At the farm, the dangerous brooks is still there. On my way down to it, I see the storage building with the low roof. Now I feel that I'm much too mature for climbing buildings. An interesting rock catches my attention. I dust it and put it in my pocket. After the bridge, I turn right instead of left and follow the brook to its other end, a small pond with ducks. Then I retrace the path we took that night eight years ago, and I squint at the setting sun. A lone strawberry lies waiting in the twilight covered path for me. On my way back, I'll throw it into the brook as a sacrifice for me and for Dad.
--An essay that I wrote during eleventh grade in high school, for Mrs. McLaughlin's class. (Later it was part of what got me recognition in the NCTE writing competition.) The writing seems clumsy to me now, but at least it is pretty forthright about what sometimes strikes me as one my bigger moral failings.
Kinda Feeble Fables of the Moment
October 19, 2004
In middle school and high school I entered some plays in the Marilyn Bianchi Kids' Playwriting Festival at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights...the first one, "Star Pox", was a fairly blatant ripoff of Douglas Adams. This one, "Kinda Feeble Fables", was a bit better, though it's still dorky as all get out. I'll be presenting one Scene a day for the next 5 days...and then an extra special bonus treat!
SETS: All five scenes use variations on the same set - a lot of rocks and really kind of dark. It's supposed to look like the inside of a cave.
Marcus: a regular type brave adventurer (male)
Valkyrie: Same, but female (a.k.a. Valk)
Bruno: Slow, almost stupid hack and slash 'em type
Wimpy looking Monster, armed with Photon slinger
NARRATOR: This play is a bunch of fables. Like most fables, they all have morals. However, the author of this play ain't Aesop, so don't expect miracles.
(The heroes are standing in the middle of the stage, looking lost.)
MARC: OK, here we are in the middle of a deep, dark, slimey cavern. There are ugly, icky creatures all over the floor, we are almost out of food, and Bruno the Wonder Nothing has lost our map.
BRUNO: Duh, no I didn't, Marc. I traded it for these three magical beans.
VALK: Real smart! And where are we gonna plant them in a cavern?
MARC: Forget that, Valk! How are we gonna get out of here?
BRUNO: I know, I know. I been leavin bread crumbs in our path.
VALK: You mean like the one that slimey scumsucking rock blob just ate?
BRUNO: (disappointed) Uh, yeah.
(Lights fade, curtain, etc. Narrator walks out.)
NARRATOR: Ok. Here's the moral of our first fable...Never let people who are likely to trade what you give them for magic beans carry the map. Simple, easy to remember, yet so practical. (Narrator exits.)
Stupid Internet connection was down yesterday...man that bugs the heck out of me. Electricity, Water, 'Net...it's really a close third.
October 20, 2004
Kinda Feeble Fable of the Moment
BRUNO: Like, why did we come to this cave?
VALK: Yeah, why?
MARCUS: Listen, you wanted the gold, right?
BRUNO AND VALK: Yeah.
MARCUS: And you wanted fun and wild adventure?
BRUNO AND VALK: Yeah.
MARCUS: And you were both bored out of your minds vegging out in front of TV which neither of you have because it hasn't been invented yet, right?
BRUNO AND VALK: Huh?
MARCUS: Never mind. Anyway, understand?
MARCUS: Good, cause neither do I.
(Blackout, enter Narrator)
NARRATOR: Ok, now time for another feeble moral: Slow and steady wins the race. (Exits, pauses, reenters)
NARRATOR: Ok, ok, it doesn't make much sense, but neither will a lot of this play.
--Those who can write, do. Those who can't, get self-referential.
I think that's a vague Hitchhiker's Guide "Excitement, adventure and really wild things" reference there
Coverup of the Moment
Looks like The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election. Nice. Too bad Bush isn't a democrat, maybe they'd sick Ken Starr on him.
Sci-Fi Thought of the Moment
If any wants a recommendation for some good...nay, terrific short sci-fi, I heartily recommend "The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge", currently being lent to me by the EB. I'm only about halfway through but MAN is that good some stuff.
I don't have time to think about it now, and I'm sure cleverer minds than mine have thought about this, but one throwaway line in one of the stories, "That [image is] from a camera aboard the Vengeance. It's transmitting by gravitic means, so we'll be able to see everything up to the detonation" made me think about the idea of somehow using Gravity as a form of communication, and what the speed of that communication could be. I probably should read this paper, which seems to indicate the answer to "what's the speed of gravity?" is somewhere between "lightspeed" and "instanteous", inclusive, so the next question is, could we make a communications device from that? I suppose one problem is that gravity is blunt...I think that it tends to be a single vector at any point, the "sum" of all the gravitation forces at that point. But still, if you could move a mass around quickly enough, a sensitive and highly tuned meter might be able to detect it's movement from an arbitrary distance away? I dunno. There's got a be a reason why you can't do this, or why if you could do this it wouldn't violate the idea in relativity that information can't travel faster than the speed of light... (is that the case? Man, it's been why too long since I've read up on and thought about this stuff.)
People less muddle-headed about these high-falutin' ideas, feel free to chime in...
Headline of the Moment
October 21, 2004
"Yankees chip away at Sox in seventh"
--Yankees.com last night, well after the Red Sox's lovely, lovely win. This morning the guys on the radio pointed out a cool detail - for YEARS, whenever a baseball team is up 3-0 in a 7-game series, the announcer is going to say either that no team has come back from that besides the 2004 Red Sox, or that no team has dropped a 3-0 lead except for the 2004 Yankees...
Kinda Feeble Fable of the Moment
VALK: Hey-look! An ugly slimey monster with a pot of gold!
BRUNO: Kill it!
MARCUS: Smash it!
VALK: Hack it into small bloody pieces!
MONSTER: You can't kill me.
VALK: And why not?
MONSTER: I'm on strike. (Holds up sign so audience can read it.)
MARCUS, VALK, AND BRUNO: Why?
MONSTER: Think about it. What do we monsters get out of this adventure type stuff? Parties of brave adventurers outnumber us, hack us into small bloody pieces and take our gold while we die and get diddly-squat.
BRUNO: So what. Kill it!
MONSTER: Do you really want to cross a picket line?
BRUNO: Ahhhhhhhh, no...but I, I, I...
MONSTER: Listen, if I take my gold and run away fast, will you leave me alone?
MARCUS: OK, it's about time to end this fable anyway.
(Monster picks up gold and runs away, screaming. Blackout)
NARRATOR: This time the author didn't even try to think of a suitable moral. He just kind of abandoned this scene.
--The group performing this play at the Dobama theater added one greatly clever detail: they turned the Monster's "Pot of Gold" into a great golden potbelly...
Also, I'm not sure what the adventurer's reluctance to cross a picketline says about my early views on labor vs. management.
Joke of the Moment
October 22, 2004
Q. What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?
A. George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.
--Mirek Kotisa, rec.humor.funny. Tell your friends!
Feeble Fable of the Moment
MARCUS: You know, this is a thought I like to think whenever I get depressed and ready to give up and just let death take over. It gives me encouragement to keep fighting.
VALK: Well, what is it?
MARCUS: You only can die once.
BRUNO: I don't get it.
VALK: Yeah. How is that supposed to give you encouragement?
MARCUS: Cause then I think I want to keep that moment as far away as possible.
BRUNO: Well, you know whud I say?
MARCUS AND VALK: No, what?
BRUNO: Rats, I forgot it, too.
MARCUS: Oh no.
MARCUS: I really have to go to the bathroom.
(Blackout. Enter narrator)
NARRATOR: The simple moral to this, the second to the last fable, is this: always go to the bathroom before starting out on a long and perilous journey.
--For some reason I like the simple declarative nature of "I am becoming depressed".
Image of the Moment
|--via Bill the Splut, this great image from a fark contest "Chihuahua recruits cat army to combat rat hordes. Create some propaganda for either side"|
Article of the Moment
I don't usually checkout msn.com (though I do like Slate.com which has some kind of relation to it) but it's the default homepage on some of the server machines I'm working on at work, and I found this nifty little article, 10 Worthwhile Luxuries. I'm a big believer in that kind of thing. If you can afford, then not shelling out for the things that make your life distinctly better can be a false economy. Like everything else, you need to take this principle in moderation, but still...
Final Feeble Fable of the Moment
October 23, 2004
VALK: Forget it...it's on strike.
MONSTER: Away with you, foul adventurers out to plunder me of my great riches!
BRUNO: Ain't you on strike or something?
MONSTER: Uh uh. I'm a replacement.
VALK: Oh, a scab monster, huh?
MONSTER: Uhhh, yeah. But they did give me a photonslinger. Heeheeheehee.
VALK: Got a lot of gold?
MONSTER: Oh, of course! Huge piles of it! But try to lift it...
BRUNO: Get 'im!
MONSTER: I'll shoot!
VALK: SO WHAT! We're the heroes of these fables. We always survive.
(All 3 charge with weapons raised. Monster calmly takes out huge gun and shoots them all down. He then lifts barrels to his mouth and blows, western style. They all die.)
VALK, MARK & BRUNO: Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!
NARRATOR: Ok. One more moral for our feeble fables: never mess with any monster armed with a photonslinger, or for that matter, any weapon capable of laying waste to a small building. That about wraps it up for the three heroes and, fortunately, for our play.
--A few comments on the "photonslinger", my attempt at a cool scifi sounding weapon...one is, it's a lame name. If I ever pull a Lucas and rewrite this, it's going to be way upgraded, to something like "Mazatronic Warptech Particle Vortex Blaster". Heck...I think technically, a frickin' flashlight might do what the name "photonslinger" implies. Secondly, though, the prop for the "photonslinger" was this way cool oversized Star Wars "Laser Rifle Carry Case" I had picked up somewhere and let them use:
(The only pictures I could find online were by collector nerds who keep it in the original packaging) Anyway, I neglected to retrieve the gun after the performance, which is too bad, it was really nifty.
Come back tomorrow for a Kinda Feeble Fables surprise bonus!
Movie of the Moment
NASA posted some spooky footage of a "Crash Impact Demonstration" they had done involving a passenger plane and the ground, including shots of the crashtest dummies inside the plane. There was a contest to assemble the footage to music, and the winner is pretty cool indeed.
Also in the flying-things-music-videos department, this flying lawnmower is kind of neat. Maybe one of these years I should get into remote control planes, they've always held an appeal for me...
February 9, 2012
He is brilliant, yes, but evil. So evil I despair of comprehending him. This man doesn't want to murder his father and possess his mother: he wants to murder God and possess the cosmos. He would tear the earth from its foundations and throw the oceans from their beds, pausing only to lick the salt from his fingers. His strength is the strength that extends beyond sanity. I know not the origin of these desires. As a child he would dream of shaping the hills by the clapping of his hands, the nodding of his head. Entire nations would be his plaything, all of literature a decoration for his room. As he grew, so did his imaginings. He saw himself capturing souls in glass bottles, of folding the sky into quarters and using it to wipe the sweat from his forehead. He planned to suck the atmosphere into his lungs in one breath, to still storms with a word. He studied to distill a dream that could cause a nightmare to bolt from its sleep. He searched to make the atoms cry out in pain. And now, what more is to be said? His rage grow every day. I knew him once, he recognizes me no longer. I will gaze at him, and tremble.--I wrote this in college. The first stanza (up to "cosmos") is from the "Illuminatus!" trilogy, which I have just read for the first time.
The whole thing is not as good as the original passage, but hey.
Definitely digging workflowy.com/ - its core is just hierarchical bullet lists w/ zoom-and-breadcrumbs but it nails focus vs "forget me not"s
Ironically enough, "The Illuminatus! Trilogy" is the first Kindle book I run into with "Due to publisher restrictions, copy is not allowed for this title." when I go to copy and paste a sentence or two.
"If there were more bloody noses, there'd be fewer wars." --Hagbard Celine, "Illuminatus!"
"I Seem to Be a Verb."
--R. Buckminster Fuller