How My Computer Wound Up in the Toilet

How can you flush something that's already the same thing as the thing you want to flush? In theory, software upgrades and toilet cleaning are best left to others. In practice, most of us wind up doing these things ourselves, because IT departments and maids generally resent the idea of working for free. There are exceptions, I know, but then you'd need a lawyer.

The most important difference between the two activities is that, when your 754 MB download has been corrupted and won't install, it's easy to flush the computer down the toilet. This isn't possible with the toilet, because . . . well, because it's a toilet, and you can't flush something that's already the same thing as the thing you want to flush.

After the plumber has gone, I like to linger awhile and savor the glint of the shiny porcelain bowl. For some reason, it always reminds me of my hard disk before I began installing all the updates and patches required to patch and update the software that worked, sort of, before someone decided it needed cleaning. It was never really clean in the sense that you'd want to eat spaghetti out of it, but it worked.

I've always been fond of the old if it works don't fix it adage, so I have no explanation for attempting to clean something that wasn't entirely dirty to begin with. Now that the madness has passed, I understand the need for buying a new computer every six months, and a new toilet every four. Clean is good, and not everyone is handy with a pipe wrench.


Being Food

What's for lunch?Why is everyone looking at me that way? I can't put my finger [sic] on it, but there's a look in their eyes today. Everywhere I go it's the same. Something about the way they smile . . . but those aren't smiles . . . why is everyone smirking? It isn't natural. Why do I feel like a freak? Is there something in my teeth [sic]? Maybe my skirt [sic] is tucked in my underwear [sic] again?

No. It's something else . . . I can feel it . . . I know it. Here comes a little old lady. I'll ask her, because little old ladies are always . . . wait . . . she's smiling, too. That same gruesome, frightening not-a-smile . . . why is this happening? Run.

Safe. They can't see me here. I'll wait until dark, then hightail [sic] it out of here. Go south, where the weather suits my clothes [sic]. Maybe dye my hair [sic] before I stop at that little restaurant at the edge of town. No one will notice me then.

I wonder what's on the menu.


Static Cling

Static is static, no matter how you modulate it. Human perception is always fascinating, but it's especially intriguing when it goes terribly wrong and drifts off into the mudhole of misperception. Of course, since the whole business is entirely subjective to begin with, misperception is just as fishy, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't drill holes in our boats when all the lakes have dried up.

I believe sober judgment ought to dictate whose perception is valid, and whose is merely staggering about the room with spittle in the corners of its open mouth. Spastic concatenations of random thoughts shouldn't be allowed to dictate perceptual superiority, which is why the largest, loudest, and most profane among us ought to be the ones to decide what's what, and what's not.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it's all about amplitude, baby, and since the perception is the reality, it shouldn't take a broadcast engineer to figure out where all the static is coming from. If there's a lesson to be learned from talk radio, it's that every sinking ship sends out a distress call, but not everyone has the same idea about what's distressing, and what's not.


Howlin at the Moo

Uhowlin@mebwah? As a literary device, omitting portions of a wordthe portion at the end in particularis often used to denote rough language. This is generally implemented on the written page by an apostrophe in place of one or more missing letters in a word. Used to great effect when, for example, the writer wishes to give a colorful, rough-hewn character an air of gritty nonchalance and missing teeth, the practice is nevertheless tiring, and mundane.

For this reason, I'm starting a Movement to discourage it. Those who insist on seeing an apostrophe where letters used to be are welcome to do their own typing, but I think dialogue is every bit as readable, meaningful, and enjoyable without the blasted thing. In fact, as you can see from the example that follows, there's no good reason for the last letter in any word spoken by a colorful, rough-hewn character.

"I say, sir. Have you any sweet, hot mustard?"

"Wha? Ho do relis?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Yo wan ho do relis fo yo ho do?"

"Egad! What has happened to your teeth?"

"Wha? Ain nothin wron wit m teet."

"No, not teat. Teeth! Teeth!"

"Ain dea. Kno wha yo sai th firs tim."

"Tim? The name is Keith!"

"Bo. Gla t kno yo."


Obviously, dialogue like this is more authenticand much easier to followwithout all those infernal punctuation marks cluttering things up.


What I Learned from Insects

Actual size. I enter the room.
There is a fly on the windowpane.
I open the window and the fly flies out.
A wasp flies in.
I close the window.
The wasp remains.
I ask the wasp what it wants.
The wasp remains silent.
I ask again.
Same result.
I open the window and the wasp flies out.
A fly flies in.
I close the window.
The fly remains.
I ask the fly what it wants.
The fly remains silent.
I ask again.
Same result.
I leave the room.
Insects are poor conversationalists.

Touching Aurora

Above . . .

I dreamed I was a cold fish in a warm solar wind. Inhabiting four states of matter, I swam in blue northern water below winter's trees, quiescent in the frosty atmosphere where Aurora lives.

and below.



Happy as a clam in a Dali painting. After long moments spent hewing and honing a blogologue, it's truly gratifying to hear the three magic words that make it all seem worthwhile. When I hear, "that's really stupid," I always swell up just a little, because I know I've accomplished what I set out to do.

Leaving comments on others' blogs is less rewarding, because I generally don't get the negative attention that propels and perpetuates the demented language I've left strewn about here. It's a bit like standing on the roof, naked, holding a metal pole and daring the thunder gods to send all the amperes they have at their disposal, except it's a perfectly clear day with no storms in sight, so nothing magical happens at all.

Imagine my delight, then, to receive the ultimate recognition for comments I had left on someone else's blog. Although I would have been perfectly happy with "that's really stupid," and out-of-my-skull thrilled with "that's really, really stupid," a dear friend handed me the mother of all complimentary words, which is, of course, "delirious."

Yes! He couldn't have done any better, because that's exactly the word once used to describe my number one hero, Salvadore Dali. I believe it was Phyllis McGinley who honored him, circa 1960.

Señor Dali, born delirious,
Considers it folly to be serious.

Although I'm certainly no Salvadore Dali, I believe I could be. I'd only need a canvas, some brushes, a little moustache wax, and a heat gun for melting clocks and stuff. The rest would be child's play.


Separation Anxiety

How do we learn to disintegrate? Hope and Fear present two faces to the world; in secret they confess their unity.

Janus watches from afar.

Hope's countenance betrays her; it is the face of uncertainty. Fear is never far behind.

Hope knows how things will go. The blade comes down between them, and then they wait.

Hope pours out amid the shards; Fear consoles and protects. No more, he says.

Practice makes perfect the stranger within.

Now they confess their unity to the world.

Janus smiles.

Why We Shouldn't Sniff Glue

Maybe the Beatles were aliens, too.

Last weekend's archeological dig turned up more than I could have hoped for. Right here in my own backyard, I unearthed pieces of a mysterious silver platter that converts ordinary sunlight to every scintillating color, and more mysterious still, there is music (!) in the thing. This, I think, is the clearest indication of its intended use as a vessel of communication between Us and Them.

Only an alien intelligence would have the wisdom to design such an elegant device, and only an alien intelligence would possess the foresight to leave it exactly where it ought to be found, at exactly the right moment, by exactly the sort of person suited for the task of communicating such news to the world.

With the help of a few pieces of tape, the shards rested perfectly in the tray of my CD player. This is how I learned of the music and the alien message imbedded in it. The message seemed cryptic at first, but became increasingly meaningful with each replay.

Here's what I've been able to decipher so far.

Glove Glove

Me Too


I Love



Sew Please

Love [unintelligible]


The reference to Alaska is particularly intriguing in light of the recent election; it confirms the aliens' mastery of space and time. The repeated mention of gloves corroborates it.

The references to glue are more puzzling. While aliens aren't completely above suspicion with their swollen brains and marblelike eyes, sniffing glue does seem a bit out of character when you consider their aviation-safety record at major airports worldwide. More likely, it's simply a good-natured jab at one or more unelectable citizens of our northernmost state.


Do You Read Me?

I read you like a book. Once the province of stage magicand, some say, clandestine remote-viewing operationsthe ability to read the minds of others is now one step closer to commonplace, thanks to the efforts of researchers at Maastricht University. An article in yesterday's ScienceDaily convinces me that the neuroimaging techniques used in the study now encourage a rather literal interpretation of what's mind-reading, and what isn't.

Scientists from Maastricht University have developed a method to look into the brain of a person and read out who has spoken to him or her and what was said. With the help of neuroimaging and data mining techniques the researchers mapped the brain activity associated with the recognition of speech sounds and voices.

Are the three remaining pieces of the puzzlewhen, where, and whylurking in there, too? Sorry, I have no galvanic response to that question.


Prefabricated Dream Saints

Saint Egolatría doesn't like you. It certainly isn't the first time I've been inspired by Craig Conley's unparalleled handiwork, but I don't recall ever having been inspired in such parallel fashion. Imaginary saints are one thing; strange dreams make it two.

Last night I dreamt about Saint Egolatría, patron of poorly planned head trips. In my dream, she held the map I had so carelessly left on my dresser while she chided me for being self-absorbed, and arrogant. She said my deeply flawed personality was at the root of many fiascos, and hoped I might get lost in a bad neighborhood, after dark, with an empty gas tank and no cell phone.

The night before, a series of dreams culminated in a pastiche of patrons, each wearing a color-coded robe to indicate his or her mood. Saint Añoranza seemed petulant at first, but this later turned out to be due to a wardrobe malfunction. For their grand finale, all the patron saints locked arms for a rousing rendition of Hey Bulldog.

Three encores later, a bikini-clad penguin brought the curtain down.


Why I'd Make a Fine Pundit

Here's lookin' at ya, Pundit Boy! Punditry suits me. From the fresher vantage point of the morning after, yesterday's incursion into the realm of insightful political commentary was brief, but edifying. I detect, now, a peculiar facility with exactly the sort of in-depth analysis required to quantify the qualifiable, and vice versa. I will demonstrate.

In a nutshell, our political system's minima and maxima have yet to define the boundaries of incommunicado elements derived, certainly, from an era of unbridled grit. Circumstances beyond the pomp of pitch and yawe.g. economic stability in the swing statesmake this feasible, not only in terms of prosperity, but in the larger sense of provincialism bound and gagged by the force of law.

Aloof and alone, these are the little people of whom it was written that neither the old New Deal nor the newer Big Deal might assuage their hunger, for a chicken in every pot only levels the boiling point. The winds of change blow hot and cold, fast and slow, up and down the great divide that separates one delineation from the next, leaving the huddled masses to the clergy, who may not even feel the draft beneath their robes.

Political elasticity, then, may indeed require the full cooperation of voters in the autonomous districts. As a solution to the troubling issues that coalesce during an election year, this form of lapidary cannot be easily dismissed without first examining the trends responsible for the fissures and cracks that threaten the very foundation of hyperbole.

Therein lies the rub.


Super Duper Tuesday

Hungry for knowledge?

Here in the midriff of the United States, people are a little bit excited about today's unprecedented presidential election. Elsewhere, emotions vary from apathy to rage, with raw fear filling the cracks between. But while those of us in the torso are doing a fair job of holding it together, othersnotably those who call the kneecaps homeseem to be struggling to put the whole thing into words.

As you might expect, the blogosphere is atwitter with insightful analysis and commentary, the best of which I will attempt to pass along as the day progresses. It's the least I can do, and you deserve no less.

As you can see from the following example, some bloggers even go beyond the presidential election, and squarely into the realm of The Other Election.

The Election's has began and will end soon. The most awaited results of the election concerns the Presidential Results and Vice Presidential Results. Who will win Obama or McCain? Who will become the Vice President, Biden or Palin? Who will be the winner in the final tally of votes..

I will post the Presidential Election Results here as well the Vice Presidential Election Results for 2008 US Election..

And the new President of the United States is..... (oh am excited)

And the new Vice President of the United States is.... (come back later for the update)

Interestingly, it also turns out that not everyone is "real crazy." Some are only halfway there, if this ABC News blog is any indication.

Singer Hank Williams, Jr., who has become a regular warm-up act on the campaign trail for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said that Sen. Barack Obama is "not real crazy about" the national anthem before singing the Star-Spangled Banner at a rally in Colorado Springs, CO this evening.

Of course, if you're too busy to follow the day's developments, there are blog oracles that will confirm what you already knew anyway.

Here is the 2008 presidential election open thread for John McCain supporters. In your optimistic world, he defeats Barack Obama in a historic upset, becoming the Harry Truman of our generation and the 44th president of the United States. So do not ask who won the presidential election. You already know the answer.

Amazing, no?

I'll be back with more fascinating election-day coverage, but first I need more sardines.


This just in, from the Early Childhood/Parenting section of the Examiner.

Everyone's going to be talking about pretty much one thing all day today - the presidential election.

Get your kids involved in the discussions (even if they're toddlers) by printing out a free map of the US to color in red and blue as the states are called.

I wish someone had mentioned this before, because my child is out there voting today without any crayons. However, the author makes another excellent point before signing off.

A good resource for voting results and early voting exit polls is, they're the company that is famous for its polling and have a tin of info.

Also from the Examiner, how to "get patriotic and pumped" on election day by stuffing your face with politically-themed treats. My favorite? The veggies, of course.

Voter veggies - Add some blue food color to water and add sliced celery sticks. The celery will soak up the water and become blue. Kids will think you to be magical if you let them help with this! Then add some cream cheese and sliced tomatoes.


I'll be back.need more sardines.


This just in. According to Google's election results page, as of 7:05 PM GMT the two presidential candidates are hopelessly tied in a 0 to 0 Electoral College vote.

Only 270 votes to go. I need more sardines.


In the spirit of in-depth political analysis, I might mention that when Jimmy Carter was president, I sometimes thought it would be nice to have dinner at the Whitehouse. But now I think it would be even better to have dinner at the Whitehouse with the Obama family.

After Mr. Obama is elected, I hope they invite me to dinner. I hope they have sardines.


Unfortunately, my insightful political commentary was interrupted by an unexpected electrical problem, but after extinguishing my shirt and smashing the offending wall outlet, I'm ready to continue.

One especially poignant political question came to me as I was attempting to restart my heart: If a wall outlet in the Whitehouse laundry room shorted out, resulting in a blue flame and the subsequent melting of a clothes dryer, which presidential candidate would do a better job of fixing the problem?


Well, I'm really bored with being an insightful political commentator, so I think I'll just declare Mr. Obama the winner and go to sleep now.


Watching You Watching Me: Tails from the Cold War

An impasse. "I'm watching you, squirrel," said the dog.

"Not at all," replied the squirrel, "for it is I who watches you!"

"I see we have a misunderstanding," said the dog, smiling.

"Yes," said the squirrel, who did not smile. "Your misunderstanding is legend. You are a dog."

The dog's smile was gone. "If you would be so kind, squirrel, as to come down from your perch . . . "

"You are always welcome up here, dog," yawned the squirrel.

The dog responded with a low growl.

"My," said the squirrel, glancing at the sun. "I would so love to chat, but . . . "

The dog watched as the squirrel disappeared into the golden canopy above, but only for a moment. A cat had appeared on the stone wall that marked the edge of the yard.

"I'm watching you, cat," said the dog.