Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Avocado Memories

I was born in the mid 1950s, so I can especially identify with Wes Clark's Avocado Memories: Growing Up in Burbank, California in the Sixties and Seventies. This guy has tons of family photos— a meticulously documented childhood— and a colorful way of writing. You can spend hours at his site, wandering down Memory Lane.

(Hat tip to Steven)

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Christmas Decorations

Well, yesterday I put my Christmas decorations up.

Got the Christmas tree out of storage from the back porch. Got other boxes of stuff out of the closet. I unpacked the branches of the Christmas tree, sorted them out on the living room floor into piles by color-coded tags, and fit the branches into place one at a time. I was surprised how much easier it was this year than last. The top of the tree fit on all in one piece. Then I wrapped the string of Christmas tree lights around and around the tree.

Hanging the ornaments proved to be the hardest part of the task. I wanted to hang the ornaments so they were evenly spaced on the tree, and of course you also have to find the right branch to hold the ornament. Then I put the star on top, and done!

I also have a fiber-optic light-up poinsettia and a ceramic church with colored lights which I set up under the tree. Borrowed an extension cord from behind a bookcase in the upstairs hallway (no more vacuuming in the hall upstairs for the rest of this year) and I now have everything plugged into that extension cord in the living room.

I set up my nativity scene on top of one of my stereo speakers— wooden stable and porcelain figurines. My lava lamp and other knick knacks are displaced to the floor behind the speaker for the duration of the season. And that's it. Everything is set up.

By the way, the nativity scene has always been a very special part of Christmas for me. When I was a kid, my dad would set up a large nativity scene between the house and the church— large figures cut from sheets of wood and painted in bright colors— "the woodens," I called them. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; shepherds; Star of Bethlehem strung on a wire overhead, with a light bulb in it; and of course the Wise Men. Looking at the woodens as a kid, I somehow got the idea that the Wise Men were bringing baby Jesus not gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but a stick of butter, a coffee pot, and a sugar bowl.

Monday, November 29, 2004


Mandrake Linux 9.1, running Fluxbox
I'm waiting for the newest version of Mandrakelinux to arrive.

My main computer is a laptop— an IBM ThinkPad T20, Pentium III, 700 MHz, 384 megs of RAM, 11.2 gigabyte hard drive, running under Mandrake Linux 9.1. I've grown very much attached to the computer, and to Linux. You couldn't pay me to go back to Windows.

I jumped the track a year ago in September. Ordered a boxed set of CDs and manual from Mandrake— I could've ordered the disks cheaper from elsewhere, or downloaded them from Mandrake and burned my own CDs for free, but ordering a boxed set is my way of supporting the Open Source movement.

Installation was surprisingly easy— about 45 minutes, and there I was. I had to go in and edit one config file afterwards to cure the S3 Savage "scrolling hang." And of course with Linux you generally need an external modem (I got a Zoom Modem PC Card) instead of an internal winmodem. Also, I eventually got smart and cured several minor annoyances at once by disabling supermount. Apart from that, installation was easy and trouble-free.

It took me two or three months before I found my sea legs with Linux. It is different from Windows, after all. There's certainly a great deal about Linux that I haven't yet mastered. But I've long since reached the point where I can do everything I ordinarily need to do, easily and without thinking. And like I say, you couldn't pay me to go back to Windows.

Linux is all about choice. The two most widely used Linux desktops are KDE and GNOME. I use a third choice, the Fluxbox window manager (pictured above).

Now I'm waiting for Mandrakelinux 10.1 Official to arrive. (Note, now spelled as one word, due to legal wrangles regarding the name of a certain comic strip magician.) When it arrives, I'm going to do a full reinstall on my computer. Ah, this ought to be fun!


Saturday, November 27, 2004

Left Handed

I don't know why I'm left handed. I just am, that's all. The only left handed person in my family. Though if you know me, you know that I could hardly be anything but left handed: it just fits with my temperament, is all.

I write left handed. Couldn't write right handed to save my life; or at least if I try, it looks like I was holding the pen in my teeth; and writing right handed makes me feel like my nerves are jangling and about to explode. I don't write with my left hand all curled around like some lefties, either. I hold the pen normally, upright, only with my left hand. I do have to watch out for my hand smearing the ink, though.

In the lower grades they taught us some bland and unimaginative cursive script, which was posted on the wall above the blackboard. Starting in fifth grade, I chucked that style of writing, at least for personal use: the loops and curves of it induced that nerve-jangling feeling in me. Instead, I sat down and methodically figured out how I was going to write. By the time I was into seventh grade, I was "fluent" in my own style of handwriting. That style has continued to age and mellow over the years. Doesn't look like anything you ever saw in a cursive style manual, either. Something like the chrome lettering on an automobile. Though more chaotic and all-over-the-place.

Oddly enough, I continued up into my early twenties to use the standard cursive style I'd originally been taught, when I was writing for other people to read. Though I haven't used that standard style now in over twenty years— doubt I could write that way any more. In these latter days, it's my own style of handwriting, or nothing.

I do almost everything left handed. The only exceptions are punching the buttons on a calculator, dialing a phone number, or holding a baseball bat. Yes, I'm left handed, but I bat right handed. Though I'm left footed, as I remember well from setting up my starting blocks in track back when I was in high school.

I cut paper with scissors left handed, though I use regular right handed scissors, held in my left hand— and unlike some lefties, I have no trouble holding or using them. What I've never been able to use, with either hand, are those special "left handed" scissors.

It's a commonplace one-liner that left handed people are the only ones who are in their right mind. Truth is, I wonder if it isn't more nearly the other way around. The philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce was left handed, and he used to wonder if his left handedness impacted his way with words: Peirce could write passages of great beauty and power, but more often his words and thoughts tangled and clotted on the page. I find my own use of words sometimes flows, though it's woolly and disordered and very nonlinear. No doubt someone out there has studied the incidence of left handed people in writing, the arts, and sports: I may be mistaken to surmise that we southpaws are over-represented in these fields, but somehow I suspect not.

When I was ten, a friend of mine dropped a conundrum on me that I've never been able to solve. He told me that actually everyone experiences the world as if they're left handed: it's just that right handed people perceive the world around them in mirror image from the way left handed people perceive it.

I know that's plumb crazy, but I've never been able to refute it. :-)


First Snow

Well, we got our first snowfall of the season here today in northeasternmost Iowa. I'm just glad it came today, and not yesterday when I was driving back from visiting family over in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving.

First saw the snowflakes falling something past nine this morning. I popped over next door to the church, where some mothers were supervising kids putting frosting and decorations on cookies for after church tomorrow. I didn't really expect any accumulation at that point: medium-big fluffy flakes were falling and melting as they hit the ground.

But somehow, as of mid afternoon, the landscape has picked up a fair coat of white. I doubt it's an inch. You can still see the tops of blades of grass in some spots, and I don't see much snow right underneath the big spreading pines out back. But much of the ground here atop Wheatland Ridge is covered with white. It's well toward looking like Currier & Ives. A real snowfall, all right.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Pulverization Factories

Once several years ago I had this dream, as is recorded in my Book of Dreams:

Last night I had a dream... The gigantic, massive, rooklike towers on the hilltops... The pulverization factories... Devoted to the manufacture of powders. It was revealed to me, as if in a word of knowledge, that back in the early part of the last century, these pulverization factories had been the frequent target of angry mob attacks, often led by that sort of angry middle-aged woman, prohibitionist suffragette feminist vegetarian do-gooder, who deals with the emptiness of her middle-aged Angst by becoming a moral busybody who traffics in the angers of unease.

And so the crowds stormed the pulverization factories, massive crenelated brick cylinders like mediæval rook-castles atop the tall hills... Most people today, it was revealed to me, do not even know about this page in early twentieth-century American history...

And now, this time, I was to be working in one of the pulverization factories. And my job was to stand on a platform, right above a conveyor belt, holding a vacuum hose with nozzle. And powders that were brought in would be crushed to even finer powders, and these poured out onto the moving conveyor, and as they came toward me I would vacuum the powders up off the conveyor belt and into storage.

And then it was a question of whether I would accompany Steven and some other guys, on a weekend trip to the Holy Land, to see some of the pulverization factory towers over there, many of them dating back to the Crusades. But I put it off, as it seemed that their itinerary was rather elastic, and here I had to get to work.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Aquamobile

The Aquamobile
She's got 190,000 miles on her, and she still runs like a top. She very seldom needs anything more than routine maintenance. I drive a 1991 Chevy S-10 Blazer: 4x4, 2 door, 4.3 liter V6 engine.

Oh yeah, one other little peculiarity: she's painted public swimming pool aqua. I call her the Aquamobile. Hard to mistake a vehicle like that. When people round here see me coming, they know who it is.

I live out in the country on a gravel road, five or six miles from the nearest state highway. Moreover, this corner of Iowa is filled with hills and bluffs and deep valleys— it is anything but flat. Winter driving weather isn't upon us yet, but I'm sure it'll be here soon.

In my line of work, I have to do much of my driving on these winding and often steep gravel roads. I have received emergency calls in the middle of the night: I have to be ready to go, no matter what the weather, no matter what the roads are like.

My first winter here, I drove a wimpy little Buick. It just wasn't up to the job. When I went shopping for a new vehicle, what I was looking for was something sturdy and reliable with four wheel drive. What I wasn't looking for was an SUV painted public swimming pool aqua! But the price was right (As the dealer put it, "If it was red, I could've sold it a long time ago"). And the Aquamobile has proven indispensable in more than one winter snowstorm. Or you should see in the spring, when the frost comes out of the ground and the gravel roads here turn into an impassable gumbo!

I know SUVs get a lot of supercilious bad press from the Gucci "blue state" crowd, as if you need a Hummer to drive to the mall. But I very seldom visit the mall, which is purner an hour's drive from here in any event. I just need a vehicle that gets me where I need to go, out here in a pretty rugged and largely unpaved rural area.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Music in the Noise

The other morning after breakfast, I lay down on the couch with a cup of coffee. I was lying there, more or less just drifting in and out, when I heard it again. That music.

Just within the past week, you see, I've begun running my humidifier, as I do during the colder months of the year. The humidifier fan motor was going thrummm, thrummm, thrummmmm in the early morning living room. And in the thrumming of the fan, I heard that music. Distant, faint, but distinct and unmistakable. Sounded like some band jamming on the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas.

This is a phenomenon— this "music in the noise"— which I first noticed when I was nine or ten, and on hot summer nights I would have a window fan running in my bedroom. And in the thrumming of the window fan, I would hear distant music. Faint but distinct. If I hadn't known better, I would've thought someone was playing a radio in a far distant room of the house.

The music in the noise. I've mentioned it to other people over the years, and I've discovered that I'm not alone. Several other folks have responded that they too have experienced this phenomenon. "Not just like music in your head, but like a radio playing softly far off." Distinct and detailed, perhaps somewhat more repetitive than regular music.

In his novel Desolation Angels, Jack Kerouac mentions it, too:
We know it all, we heard the heavenly music one night driving along in the car, "Did you hear that?" I had just heard clangor of music suddenly in the motor-humming room of the car— "Yes" says Cody, "what is it?" He'd heard.

I'm sure somebody out there who's versed in the psychology of perception could enlighten us on the how and what of this "music in the noise." It seems to me sort of like an aural analogue to the patterns you see in floor tiles, even when the floor tiles are all identical and the same color. (What? You mean you don't see patterns in the floor tiles? But surely everybody does... ;-)

Thrumm, thrummm, thrummmm... Buried in the noise of the fan motor are guitar twang, and piano, and tinny muffled brass... "All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres..."


Monday, November 22, 2004


And when you call me "Godthåb"— for "Greenland"— both to be drawn out long and low, as if an electronic voice through a loudspeaker— it is as if you were to call me "crown of the head"— in place of my proper given name— both to be spoken in that electric loudspeaker voice— as if expecting me to react just because it is in the same tone of voice as the sound of my name...


Sunday, November 21, 2004

Paranoid Apocalyptic Short Story

He was sitting in the mountain hut he called his home, his mind focused to boil water for tea, when he heard the echoes of distant battle. When he diverted his attention from the water, it ceased boiling. Up here in the Cascade Mountains, southern Washington, 60 miles upriver from Portland, such sounds of battle could mean only one thing. Only one thing, and it was not good.

Now the man opened the door of his hut a crack. He glanced out over the Columbia River. Combat, all right. He counted at least eight flying pancakes weaving in the air above the river. Homeland Security, no doubt. They were firing down into the Gorge, firing on a position just downriver from Home Valley, not as far downriver as Carson and Stevenson. A surface-to-air missile lifted out of the Gorge toward one of the pancakes, went wide of its mark, spun off harmlessly toward the Oregon side.

The man stepped outside, walked shod in deerskin amidst the pines. Down a hundred yards toward the brink of the bluff. He felt outward gently with his mind, testing. Gently: a tripwire was unlikely, but not beyond the realm of possibility.

Up in the air, eight flying pancakes. Down there on Highway 14, along the Washington side of the River, a band of local boys. They had armored vehicles, they had ordnance, salted away no doubt back in the waning years of the last century. But they were outmanned and outgunned.

The man paused and pondered. He had once, several years ago, taken considerable pains to go in quietly and erase every last trace of his identity— birth records, Social Security, IRS, national identity card— erase every trace of evidence that he had ever even existed. Not only did he not want the feds to know any longer that he existed, he didn't want the feds to know that a man like him existed. That was back in the days when Homeland Security was trying to close every last loophole. Had he been an ordinary human being, he could not have squeezed through a loophole and vanished off the charts as he did.

Since then, he had lived up in the mountains, only rarely daring to venture in to civilization. Hood River, over on the Oregon side, when he must. Once to Portland. He wanted to stay very thoroughly hidden.

But now those boys down below were taking a beating from the flying pancakes overhead. Those boys down below... they no doubt belonged, like him, to the dwindling minority of Americans who refused to take an RFID chip in their hand or forehead.

The man looked up in the blue, at the flying pancakes. He furrowed his brow. One of the pancakes shuddered and bloomed into white fire.

Now he raised two fingers of his right hand, as if in a gesture of blessing. One, two, three, four, five of the pancakes crumpled like tinfoil, and dropped like burning raisins toward the dammed waters of the Columbia below. The man remembered a time, years ago, when he discovered what horrific vengeance he could wreak on a late-night mugger. The man remembered a time, shortly before he dropped out, when he was learning how he could lay his hands in healing on those who were sick. But in these quiet years alone up in the mountains, he had grown and matured. He had become a quiet pool of glacial water.

The river rose here and there, slow and majestic and white, where the downed craft struck. One of the two remaining flying pancakes turned and fled downriver. It was now beyond the range of physical sight, but it was no problem for the man to ignite its fuel tanks and bring it down.

Now the last of the pancakes turned toward the bluff... Could it have sighted him? Impossible! But... The man raised both hands and tore the craft apart, but not before it got a smart missile off in his direction.

He let the missile strike him full on, the explosion washing over him like colored tissue paper and lukewarm water, as his mind abstracted from the phenomenal world to a level where the flow of information manifested as visible wavefronts. More important than stopping the missile was tracking down and expunging every last trace of data it might be transmitting. There... and there... and there! Five hard drives from Seattle to San Mateo were instantaneously slagged, reduced to white-hot molten metal. Quick and dirty, no way to do it without leaving a trace. They would know that something out there was afoot, but they would have no way of knowing who or what. And by the time they began to figure out where, he would be long gone.

He looked back up the slope at the hut which had been his home. He felt a pang of regret: suddenly the hut was out at sea, five hundred miles off the Pacific coast, sinking, sinking. The man turned and started walking up Dog Leg Mountain, toward the old Pacific Crest trail. He walked several feet off the ground, so as to leave neither scent nor footprint. He would have to find another retreat, much deeper within the mountains.

The lava beds, perhaps, up toward Indian Heaven? Acre after acre of boxcar-sized chunks of lava. Ideal hiding place... but no, there was a colony of Paranthropus up there, he didn't dare endanger them.

For a moment, the man almost regretted having intervened. From now on he would have to live with the fear of the hunt, the fear that some night while he slept they would come and shoot a tranquilizer dart into him and take him away, take him away to be probed and tested and analyzed and ultimately used. Or if they tried to take him by day, he would see how many battalions he could take on at once, singlehanded.

He almost regretted having intervened. But there comes a day when a man's got to do what a man's got to do. He'd known that, ever since the decree of a state of national emergency came down. Ever since the Director came on TV to announce that Congress was dissolved and the President was in custody with a sudden case of "high blood pressure."

Ever since he covered his tracks and fled, rather than submit.

The man now walked on the air atop the mountain crest, under cover of the trees. Sunlight glinted and flickered through the branches. For the time being, he remained a free man.

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Friday, November 19, 2004

The Old Mays Prairie Church

She was already in ruins when I first saw her.

Mays Prairie Church

The old Mays Prairie Church stood atop a hill far out into the countryside. Mays Prairie Road is a gravel road which winds through a remote rural area of our county. I sometimes will drive this road as a shortcut down to Lansing. Though other than that, it's not a route we locals drive that much. Like I say, remote.

When I would drive Mays Prairie Road, I often would slow down and stop when I came to that hill, and I'd sit there and look at the old stone church. The roof sagged. The steeple canted at a crazy angle. The back wall, where the altar once stood, was fallen in. Window and door were empty, wide open to the wind. And I would try to see inside, to get a glimpse of the empty deserted interior.

The Mays Prairie Church closed long ago, back in the 1930s. That's what I've heard from folks round here, and read in an old Allamakee County Atlas. When they ran the power lines through, they ran them across the hilltop right by the church. I took that picture a couple of years ago. Since then, every time I drove by, it seemed the church looked a little more ramshackle than before. The steeple leaning over farther. Part of the wall on the far side collapsed.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I was driving back from down below Lansing, and I decided to come back by way of Mays Prairie. I rounded the curve on the gravel road: something about that hill up ahead didn't look right. I got closer. I drove real slow. I stopped.

The old Mays Prairie Church is gone. Nothing but a loose pile of stones now stands atop the hill, alongside the power lines. Evidently it's been torn down, and recently. I asked some of my parishioners; they hadn't heard anything about it.

I'm gonna miss that old stone church. I'm gonna miss her.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Anagram You

Have you ever tried to form anagrams by rearranging the letters in your name? Well, now it's easy, thanks to Wordsmith.org's anagram server.

Some years back, I was idly struck with this cool idea: what if someone wrote a series of novels, with the title of each novel an anagram of the author's name? Let's see, "Paul Burgess"... Well, if I knew anything about music and musicians (which I don't) I might attempt a trilogy about the life and career of a bluegrass musician...

First volume would trace the musician's rise from humble beginnings... it could be titled (anagram of "Paul Burgess") Bluegrass Up.

Second volume would follow his meteoric flight through the stratosphere of fame... title (anagram of "Paul Burgess"), Pegasus Blur.

And the third volume would chronicle the musician's messy affair with a barmaid, and his ensuing sad decline and fall. It would have the Clintonian title of (anagram of "Paul Burgess") Pub Lass Urge.

Try it out. Anagram yourself. Anagram your friends. Anagram your enemies. Do you have any novels, or trilogies, in you?

(Tip of the hat to Blackboar)


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

R.D. Laing and the Voodoo Doll

There are so many bizarre stories about the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing. They say one reason he was so good with patients is that he came from such an unhinged family background, that he was more than a little cracked himself.

One of my favorite stories is about how rumors leaked back to Laing that his mother had made a voodoo doll of him, and was sticking pins in it. Laing didn't know quite how to deal with this news, but one day while he was visiting his mother he decided to delicately broach the topic. He said he knew it sounded ridiculous, but someone had said she made a voodoo doll of him and was sticking pins in it.

Whereupon Laing's mother looked up from her cup of tea, and said with great indignance, "Ronald, there are certain things we do not discuss."

In other words, yeah, she had a voodoo doll of him and was sticking pins in it all right, but that's not the sort of subject we bring up in polite company...

Strangely Apt Misreadings

Do you ever find yourself misreading a sign, purely by accident? Yesterday on the way back from La Crosse I stopped off at a Kwik Trip for gas. And here's how, at first glance, I read the sign on the gas pump:
WARNING— It is unnatural and dangerous to dispense gasoline into disapproved containers.

Of course, on second glance, actually that read:
WARNING— It is illegal and dangerous to dispense gasoline into unapproved containers.

I like my misreading better. The novelist Walker Percy wrote an interesting essay on "metaphor as mistake." Someone mistold him that a certain bird was a "blue-dollar hawk." Percy was disappointed when he learned the bird was actually called a "blue-darter hawk": "blue-dollar" seemed so much more apt than "blue-darter."

In one of his better-known poems, Dylan Thomas wrote:
Altarwise by owl-light in the half-way house
The gentleman lay graveward with his furies;
Abaddon in the hangnail cracked from Adam,
And, from his fork, a dog among the fairies,
The atlas-eater with a jaw for news,
Bit out the mandrake with to-morrow's scream.

But what was Thomas saying? A poet has to hit the bullseye only a handful of times in his career, to be considered a great poet. But what sort of bullseye is it, that is characterized by what we would ordinarily call missing the target altogether? There is a certain kind of poetry (some people don't care for it, but I'm not one of them) which works, and succeeds, by trafficking heavily in "metaphor as mistake." What in the world is going on here?

Meanwhile, remember, It is unnatural and dangerous to dispense gasoline into disapproved containers.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Monday Is Brown, Tuesday Is Violet...

Here's something odd. Yeah, I know, the name of the game is "synaesthesia," but still, it's odd. You see, I've always known which color each day of the week is.

All my life, I've always known that:
  • Monday is light brown

  • Tuesday is violet

  • Wednesday is red

  • Thursday is moss green

  • Friday is yellow

  • Saturday is luminous red

  • Sunday is white

You notice, under this reckoning, Monday is the first day of the week. "Moss green" is a variegated mix of greens. And "luminous red" is red lit up with light from within.

There's also a certain burnt smell, sort of like burnt toast, which I've always experienced as a green smell.

Any other synaesthetes out there who can testify to stuff like this, first-hand?


A Throwback to the Age of Mammals

Once several years ago I had this dream, as is recorded in my Book of Dreams:

And this may have been the dream, too, where I was watching out the window, looking out on the deserted street, where P. had a manhole cover off, and crouched over he was bent double with his head down in the manhole. And then getting up he touched his head against the rim of the manhole, and instantly he came up, dancing and lurching in the street as if "Hit my head!", arms up and holding his head, capering bent back all childish and clowny, like some pure, simple child of the earth that he is.

And then in a dream Saturday night, I was going to go back and explore that labyrinth of rooms "in the back of my apartment," so seldom visited and now oft a site of terror, and then people were fleeing in terror, a girl sitting at a desk as if a nurse's desk told me that there were animals back there in those rooms.

And I went back, the hero into the maw of fear, and sure enough, one animal was as big as a hippopotamus, but different looking, with a knobbed head, uintatheric, as if a throwback to the Age of Mammals. And the other animal was even bigger, the size of a house, with a snout like a long, thin elephant's trunk, and the thing was, this animal would shove its trunk right up your ass and suck your internal organs out. And then this creature shoved its snout up the hippo-sized animal's ass, and was going to suck its organs out.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Royal Crown Rules

When it comes to cola, I'm one of those oddballs.

Coke or Pepsi? Neither, please: I much prefer RC Cola. Or as I persist in sometimes calling it, Royal Crown Cola.

I first really got into RC back when I was living in Dubuque. We're talking the fall of 1982 or thereabouts. And I've been drinking it ever since.

When I was a kid, Milo's neighborhood grocery store in my home town in Wisconsin used to carry all sorts of pop. Coke. Pepsi. RC Cola. Home-Ade Cola. Double Cola. Patio Diet Cola. Cola. Nehi Root Beer. Hires Root Beer. Dad's Root Beer. Mason's Root Beer. Bon-Ton Root Beer. Fauerbach Root Beer. Root Beer. Mason's Strawberry Soda. Nehi Strawberry Soda. Fauerbach Strawberry Soda. Strawberry Soda. Mason's Orange Soda. Sun-Rise Orange Soda. Fanta Imitation Orange Soda. Nesbitt's Orange Soda. Graf's Orange Soda. Orange Soda. Nehi Grape Soda. Sun-Rise Grape Soda. White Soda. Black Cherry Soda. Cherry Soda. Black Cherry Blossoms Soda. 7-Up. Ski. 50|50. Cheer Up. Upper 10. Bubble-Up. Sprite. Fresca. Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Bon-Ton Ginger Ale. Roxo Ginger Ale. Par-T-Pak Pale Dry Ginger Ale. Mountain Dew (with a hillbilly— "Yahoo! Mountain Dew! It's goo-ood!"). I'm reading most of these names off my old bottlecap collection, which I still have.

But there's one brand that bothers me, because I can't remember if it ever actually existed, or if it's just something I had a dream about, many years ago. It was a creme soda called Canadian Creme. Clear glass bottle, with a scene on it of ducks flying over a cat-tail marsh. And both scene and brand name were printed on the bottle in a mirror-reflective gold. I wonder if I dreamed that one.

Lombardi Wannabe

The other day, I headed out to see a confirmand of mine playing in a junior high girls' basketball game. There was one guy there in the bleachers— seems I see one like him at any sports event I attend— grey grizzled grimjaw, short grey-peppered crewcut, harsh joyless expression, grizzlejaw, wearing a black nylon jacket, and constantly all through the game barking a nonstop stream of SportSpeak™ cliches at the girls:

"Whad ya doin', whad ya DOIN', MOVE it LAY-deeez, c'mon move it UP, free shot free shot free shot free shot LEEE-shah free shot... eeem emmm BING bang veh-SPAHSS, c'mon purple, talk to each other, two-ONE ya gotta move it UP for a shot, c'mon TALK to the BAWW, ezzit ribbock REbound reBOUND!"

Meanwhile, a bunch of eighth grade girls are weaving and bobbling around out there on the court. And grizzled harshjaw keeps barking at them, the Vince Lombardi of the sidelines, as if victory would be theirs if only they'd listen and instantly respond to his nonstop diarrhea-stream of sports commentary.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

What in the World Have I Gone and Done Now?!

Registering to post a comment on somebody's blog, I seem to have accidentally created a blog of my own. Believe me, it was unintentional. Honestly.

I stumbled across the blogosphere entirely by accident two years ago, when a stray Google search landed me at Dean's World. I lurked for a couple of weeks, then started commenting, and I've been a regular commenter at Dean's World ever since. Also an occasional commenter on other blogs which are cyber-propinquitous thereto.

I also have a personal website, paulburgess.org, which in fact I've had now for several years.

But I've steadfastly resisted becoming a blogger. Until now. Like I say, honestly, it happened completely by accident! (And in case you're curious, said accident befell me on Caltechgirl's blog.)

So what shall I do now with this blog of mine? Every reason I ever had for not blogging still stands:
  1. I'm too busy, I don't have the time.

  2. I detest the angry, vindictive mud wrestling I see on some blogs.

  3. I dread becoming a slave to regular posting, so as to hang on to my audience.

  4. I don't have the time.

  5. I have no desire to become a magnet for the various wackos, psychos, and emotionally needy sad sacks I see on some blogs.

  6. I've always commented under my own name, and made no secret of who I am, where I live, or what my line of work is. I've sometimes wondered if this will one day come back to haunt me, and see no need to aggravate the situation via my own blog.

  7. I have a number of very colorful interests, but once we get past those (give it three or four months) either I run dry, or else I start repeating myself: either way, no thanks!

  8. My personal website gets a modest but fair amount of traffic, and it's nicely situated in Google (hey, I'm #1 in Google for a search on yellowstripes). I see no good reason to divide my energies.

  9. I've met a lot of great people and made some good friends in the blogosphere, but I don't know if I meet the entry requirements to be a blogger, since I fit in none of the following categories: (a) Libertarian; (b) Randian Objectivist; (c) vegetarian; (d) gay/lesbian; (e) Kevorkian right-to-die-er; (f) neo-pagan; (g) owner of automatic weapons; (h) genius-level high-school dropout; (i) person who has no TV set in the house; (j) atheist/agnostic; or (k) follower of the Atkins low-carb diet.

  10. Did I mention, I just don't have the time??!

Well. I've got to sit and ponder this one a while. Though not until Monday, which happens to be my day off.

Oh, as for the title of my blog ("my blog"?! chills run up my spine at those words)... Let the Finder Beware was the title of the original, shorter version of James Blish's amazing science-fiction novel, Jack of Eagles. Somewhere along the line, it became part of my unofficial intellectual motto, "Think for yourself, and let the finder beware!"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go and pretend (at least until Monday) that I still have no blog...