Links of Recapitulation

My God, what have I done?

Much as I love sausage links, they have no place in a respectable venue such as this. They're greasy, which makes it even harder to read the words on the screen, and they aren't really very good for you anyway. So I've decided to use links of recapitulation instead, and make up the difference with chocolate donuts.

Whether gazing through windows or at navals, the aliens are among us, and only ask us to move toward the light. There, multicolored hair awaits, although bloggers will be punished for eternity, or until Spring, whichever comes first. This is no time for mediocrity; it is time for faith, and lingerie, and very long naps.

The cadence of the moon encourages our hatred of butterflies, but rethinking perception is the goal where pamcakes and meebus are concerned. In a relative sense, the loops and bounds of my spastic colon result in that sinking feeling: there's never enough money, no one understands me, and I have a novel to write.

My favorite colorit's the color I hate the mostis red, but I need other colors, too. The long weekend beckons, with its spots and dreams and rapid transit, just because I say so. Not that it's the fault of the windmill, but we must eat, and it's what's for dinner. We don't eat insects, though, or fish.

Separation anxietywhether it results from glue or dreams about saintsis better than politics, for even dogs know their lassos from their poetry. A fear of problem-solving doesn't require additional tableware, even when death and landfills take the place of dessert. At the seashore, we have no need of television. The moon is an adequate substitute.

Even before 2008 began, Nostrildamus told us what to expect from our children. They are enlightened already, and their only ambition is the truth, imperfect as it is. The irony of zombies dancing in the wind is a far better lesson than Rock Paper Scissors on a cloudy playground at Easter. Even Noah looked toward the next life with a faux pas in his throat, for coffee is a luxury when time is short. The moon has questions, too.

Pranks are for the young at heart, but soul food is ageless. Don't bother answering that; I'm in an awkward stage of life. Two years ago NASA might have done things differently, although they couldn't have anticipated the mucus of politicians with too much caffeine on their hands, and lofty dreams of the Labor Day weekend to come.

How did all this start in the first place? Oh. I see.


Nausea and Infinity

Even infinity gets nauseous sometimes.

When I contemplate infinity, the longness of it wears me out, and then I want to take a nap. I think that's why you always see ad nauseam and ad infinitum together. The whole idea of something going on forever is nauseating, which causes droopiness. When you're droopy, the last thing you want is someone telling you to put up a bunch of ads, or mile-markers.

I don't think there are any mile-markers on the road to infinity, because the Department of Transportation would run out of numbers halfway through the job, so it wouldn't make sense to even start something like that. Billboards wouldn't make sense, either, because you'd never know where to put them without any mile-markers to tell you where you are.

I think the road to infinity is paved with good intentions, but all the droopy people who stopped to take naps along the way make it look like it's paved with sleeping people. It isn't, though.


The Brakewater of Time

Sometimes water has too much braking power. That's why we don’t need a breakwater. See? Navel gazing can be a satisfying pastime, but when seconds count, I like to focus my gaze on the U.S. Naval Observatory instead. This will be especially important as the wee hours of Wednesday give way to Thursday, because that's when an extra second will be shoveled into the Furnace of Time, thereby providing just enough thrust to keep our planet from grinding to a halt before breakfast.

Although the International Earth Rotation Service is ultimately responsible for deciding whether or not to throw another second into the fire, it's Father Time who has to do the actual work. He lives on a small boat at the U.S. Naval Observatory, so that's where the sacrifice is performed. This way, he can paddle out onto the ocean at a moment's notice and tell Poseidon to quit slamming on the brakes, since that's what's slowing us down in the first place.

The Earth is constantly undergoing a deceleration caused by the braking action of the tides. Through the use of ancient observations of eclipses, it is possible to determine the average deceleration of the Earth to be roughly 1.4 milliseconds per day per century. This deceleration causes the Earth's rotational time to slow with respect to the atomic clock time.

The sacrifice will commence just before midnight (UTC) on New Year's Eve, and should be all but over by the time 2009 rolls around, give or take a couple seconds. If you happen to be watching, you'll see that the leap second is glued to the end of the last second of the old year, which isn't at all the same as grafting it to the first second of the new year.


Here, I'm reminded of the words of my great-uncle's niece, on my mother's side, who always seemed to have a way of making a long story short . . .

He who leaps first leaps loudest, but second fiddle can't hold a candle to Father Time.

. . . which, I think, simply means that Poseidon is a lousy driver.


Elbow Room


Narrow newspaper-style columns have their advantages, but I've decided to abandon them in favor of the increased real estate offered by the virtually identical layout you see here. It sure isn't Web 2.0 material, but it'll give the occasional photo a bit more breathing room, and the little graphics I like to put in the corners of my posts won't have to be reduced to 200-and-change pixel widths to keep the text from turning into three- or four-word columns.

Another good reason to widen the playing field is the common use of RSS feeds, which tend to do away with much of a Web site's formatting anyway; the content remains, but not the look and feel. Narrow columns, among other things, generally don't come along for the ride. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

In any case, that's what's behind the change, mostly. I think I'll also tack on one of my favorite graphics below, just to see how much of it will fit now. Can't be any worse than the 400 pixel limit I had to work with before, no?


Colors of the Season

Pretty colors are important. For some of us, the next 24 hours will bring the full range of human emotion. There will be joy as we rip the wrapping from that special gift we've been itching and begging for, and there will be heartbreakeven rageas we discover yet another pair of slippers, or mismatched socks in a used sandwich bag.

Amid the yips of uncontainable elation spewing from the good boys and girls there must also come anguished wails. Parents have feelings, too, and the 25th of December is payback time, little mister. And you, little missy-too-good-to-fix-the-plumbing. Have another liverwurst cookie, and let us know how you like the motel.

For the rest of us, the next 24 hours will bring the full range of human ingenuity into sharp focus as we gaze, lovingly, at the shiny new thermocouple Santa installed on the furnace this morning. There will be howls of delirium as ice turns to water, and thence to more water as frozen pipes begin to thaw. Like heat, water is an appropriate and thoughtful gift, especially when it's wrapped in the colors of the season.

"All I got for Christmas was a drink of water," My One True Love will say. "In a red cup." I'll smile a little smile and wink a little wink, and then we'll go out and make snow angles. After all, isn't that what Christmas is all about?


Shiftless Tinsel and the Lasso of Creativity

Now here this, not later there that, or no presents of mind for you! Some blog comments are nothing short of inspirational. The recent suggestion that creative lassitude might be what I'm after inspired a sequence of investigations that fell to earth nowhere near their original launch site, but produced an unexpected shower of inspiration-sparks in the relatedyet unrelatedarena of blog comments.

To wit, the Robertson Davies quote to which Gary refers is probably this . . .

Many a promising career has been wrecked by marrying the wrong sort of woman. The right sort of woman can distinguish between Creative Lassitude and plain shiftlessness.

. . . which led me to another Davies quote, which happens to refer to tinsel, which is poignant in light of this season of shiny tree ornaments.

Well, allow me to introduce myself to you as an advocate of Ornamental Knowledge. You like the mind to be a neat machine, equipped to work efficiently, if narrowly, and with no extra bits or useless parts. I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt. Shake the machine and it goes out of order; shake the dustbin and it adjusts itself beautifully to its new position.

Somewhere along the line it occurred to me that "lassitude" rhymes with "tattooed," sort of, which brings me back to the point I was going to make before, which is that blog comments ought to contain healthy dirt.

Some of the sparks that landed on me during the course of my investigation persuaded me that standard letter-templates are insufficient when it comes to blog comments. For this reason, I took the liberty of modifying one of the free templates one finds here and there on the Web, and include it here as a holiday gift for those who remain uncertain about the proper format for blog comments.

I have just finished reading the ______ you wrote on ______ published in the ______ post of ______. I want to tell you how much I appreciated your clearly written and thought-provoking ______.

While much has been written on this topic, your ______ expresses both the positive and negative aspects of this important topic, without taking an emotional stance on either side of the issue.

Thank you for your thorough research and clear writing.

Although it probably goes without saying, the template's blank spaces are intended for your editor's comments, or those of the blogger to whom your comments are addressed.


Canceling 08

Fast-forward to the end of 08 Nearly two weeks left before the new year, but '08 feels like a ghost. Maybe it's the weather, or the economic climate, or a combination of things that have nothing in common with either of those. Maybe it's the glimmer of hope for a better year aheadfor better years aheadthat's at the root of my restlessness. I just want 2008 to go. Now.

So before I lose my sense of humor over the whole thing, I've decided to take the high road and declare 2008 over, regardless of what the calendar might have to say about it. I'm just that desperate, and I don't care if it does cause a rift in the space-time continuum.

Maybe Santa can come next year.


Disfiguring the Alphabet of Eights

AnalemmaP, right where it should have been all along.

In the doppelganging scheme of things, the leaks and dribbles of ordinary awareness often confound the unwary, leading to goosechases in the wilderness of perception. Although it's been said that heightened awareness is its own reward, the Pavlovian ideal of celebratory salivation repays patience and fortitude in a more useful currency.

A distinguished citizen of our unparalleled multiverse, Craig Conley immediately spied the true nature of the Alphabet of Eights recently outlined in or near this space, effectively smithereening prior misconceptions, misperceptions, and dumb luck associated with any myopic analysis that disfigured the figure eight previously thought to be an acceptable representation of Sideways Infinity, among other things.

In a note forwarded to me via teletype, Mr. Conley drills through the enamel and past its pulp, eventually arriving at a root-mean-square approximation of the solution to this problem, which follows.

The Alphabet of Eights has 22 letters. The letter "Analemma P" is the junction point. Ptolemy considered "Analemma" and "P" to be two letters, but a binary star had him seeing double.

Clearly, this new concatenation calls for further study, for if analemmap is to be considered a letter of the alphabet, the Möbius Dilemma must also be taken into account, along with the gravitational lensing perpetrated by the anonymous binary to which Mr. Conley refers. How this might affect the alphabets of others is a question best left for the left-brained, the harebrained, and their next of kin.


Alphabet of Eights

Analemma Moebius eight your baby?

In the alphabet of eights h i j k analemma p form follows function: Möbius against a daytime sky.

In the alphabet of eights, down is sideways and sideways up, but iSun always smiles on USB.


Three Poems

Up the funny stairs

Some Life

Bus fares
Climbing stairs
Silhouettes of broken chairs

Blank stares
Music blares
No one lives here; no one dares

Jesus cares
Only he who dreams despairs

Rotten pears
Worried over small affairs

Grey hairs
Solar flares
Melting icecaps; drowning bears.

Home sweet hovel


The clock strikes three
And we run and we hustle
For the busses and the cars
And the train runs late
To our homes and our hovels
By the lake, by the depot
Under water
Drowning slowly
While the clock strikes eight.

The rock feels no pain

The Last Poem

I will be the first to learn
The hows and whys
The making of ignorance.

I will be the first to learn
The pitfalls and traps
The solitude of arrogance.

I will be the last to learn
The agony of irreversibility.

              Circa 1978

I Hate to Solve for X

The evil of X

It only took a little while
To find the root of Y
Quadratics only made me smile
But X just made me cry.

I solve for N or P or Q
And sometimes even Z
But work with X is never through
It's all mixed up to me.

Binomials just cancel out
It's not at all complex
I know what Trig is all about
But I hate to solve for X.

           Circa 1978

Regarding Tableware

Don't eat with your hands. Every once in a while, an eclectic blend of influences conspire to design and manufacture words that might otherwise have been discarded in favor of a more reasoned approach to communication. Influences of this sort are often mistaken for chaos; they seem geared toward subversion; they want to throw reason and logic from the train. But the creative process isn't rationalnot in the way mathematics or computer programming are rationaland it often withers when linearity is imposed.

In a similar way, the rarified atmosphere at the outer fringes of creative writing is often mistaken for a vacuum. While the oxygen-starved brain is certainly capable of producing particularly heinous prose, a vacuum almost always causes the brain to explode. Although the resulting differences in style and substance can be difficult to quantify, a simple test will quickly separate the merely brain-damaged from the brain-absent.

For the first example, I held my breath while my assistant inserted her fingertips in my nostrils to eliminate any stray air-puffs that might compromise the experiment. This resulted in only minor brain damage, as you can see from the holiday poem I executed after regaining consciousness.

iHerds of hoofed antlers on iCrusted snow
iDonner, iBlitzen, iPanzer & schnitzen
The howls of the vowels from Alphabet's shore
"Cast off!" cried the captain, "iCan't take it no more!"

For the second example, I stowed away in the starboard wingtip of the space shuttle while my assistant inserted her fingertips in my throat to eliminate any stray screams that might alert NASA to my presence. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to hold herself together in the vacuum of space, while my training allowed me to maintain my presence of mind long after it had disappeared from view.

I'm sorry, said iDolph
This "Jeff" has to go
iAye said the captain
And then he ate some beans.

As you can see, the differences are subtle, but not impossible to distinguish once you know where to look. To the layperson, the absence of quotes to indicate dialogue is probably the most glaring, while the fastidious eye will immediately note the absence of proper tableware, thus forcing the captain to eat with his hands.



Tiny stars via NASA

Being by their nature smaller
And looked down on by the taller
Is it any wonder, then
That the Pygmies rise again?

Robbing, looting, burning all
Making up for size that's small
They are on a mad rampage
Tiny hearts filled up with rage.

Everybody tries to flee
Pygmies must have gotten free!
But they never get too far
Anywhere the Pygmies are.

Now the Pygmies run the world
All their flags have been unfurled
Tiny houses, tiny cars
Lying 'neath the tiny stars.

               Circa 1978


Like the Windmills of my Beard

A subject near, and deer, and altogether beardful. This beard is your beard. A North American marvel of engineering, the USGS, aghast, once measured the longest strand at 1241 miles, as the crow flies.

But crows don't know ether. They rely on tradition and warm currents to obtain the lift required for a journey of this magnitude, for their beards are not lichen, and rarely grow on trees.

But the reindeer has a beard. Greyer and less manageable than the deer we used to know, its hoofbeats remind us less of thunder than the softer foods we hunt and kill, now that winter's teeth are bare.

Incoming . . . are those choppers I hear? My beard is your beard, growing from the ears of corn I saw in a movie once; row after row after row of popcorn in my teeth, but what need have we of teeth, or antlers, or beards?

Windmills, maybe, to fluff the breeze.


Death and Landfills

Calling this a hearse is like calling your uncle in Florida. Monday is the perfect time to contemplate things I might have buried in the landfill of my mind during the weekend, such as morbidity. Although the theory is that the bulk of my organic self will eventually take a long dirt nap, the fact is I've been doing exactly that for the better part of a lifetime. This brings up two important questions.

1) What's the difference between death and whiskers?

2) Have I spent the best years of my life in a landfill?

Here, I may as well point out that most men have whiskers, and they don't just disappear into thin air after they're shaved off. It's been said that most females don't have whiskers, but there's no law that says whiskers can't grow on legs, or underarms, or pretty much anywhere there's a fertile follicle environment. A whisker by any other name is still a whisker.

Anyway, the point is that my hair has been accumulating in landfills all this time, and so has yours. Since a landfill is essentially a graveyard for whiskers, the idea of a final resting place is absurd. My whiskers have been "resting" since puberty, give or take, hence my DNA has been "resting," and hence, I must now point out, the answer to both questions, above, can only be yes.


The Gelatin Poem

My love. My life. My Jello.

Notice my smile
How do I love my Jello?
Happy you asked
Let me count the ways.

Behold my love
My Jello in the moonlight
I go to her
Too soon she is gone.

What have I done?
Commence regurgitation
Jello must live
Jello cannot die.

I throw the switch
Reanimated Jello
She lives forever.

Mr. Sunshine

Mr. Sunshine draws the blind
To keep the laughing voices out
His angry eyes can't bear the sound
This day is made for sleeping.

Don't wake Mr. Sunshine
He hasn't slept a wink
Don't wake Mr. Sunshine
He hasn't had a drink.

Darkness fills the empty space
Where nightmares shout into the room
His ruined mind no longer plans
A day that's made for sleeping.

Don't wake Mr. Sunshine
He hasn't had a drink
Don't wake Mr. Sunshine
He isn't who you think.

Television's flickered light
Escapes into polluted air
His eyes roll back into his head
A head that's made for sleeping.

Don't wake Mr. Sunshine
He isn't who you think
Don't wake Mr. Sunshine
He's drowning in your sink.

Static from the radio
Invokes the special phrase again
His shadow leaves no mark upon
A world that's made for sleeping.

The Wisdom of Seagulls

Among the rocks that edge the shore
She sits to tend the ebb and flow
As if by wish the tide returns
As if by calling slows.

On moonless nights she scans the waves
And listens for the distant horn
As if by sight the lost return
As if by ear they're found.

No seagull breaks the air with wing
Nor silence with its mournful call
As if by flight the chain is rent
As if by sound released.

Opiate of the Masses

Readin' rots the mind.
Your slaves were never given books, for that is how the mind is made to sift the reason from the noise that flickers now, like candlelight, from every window of the house where all your slaves lie sleeping.


Beneath the Blue Moon Hiding

This Blue Moon

This blue moon becomes us now: She floats below the brighter stars (as if we ever needed stars) to mark the places where we strayed. We stayed too long, and slept too long, and yawning woke to find the sky had found a new face in the moon. A harsher face, an older face, and bluer than we felt before, we rode into another town, beneath the blue moon hiding.