Playful Indulgence

Toys 'r' Me I fear I have become a cat toy.

She reeled me in slowly, like a fish. Indulgent, I became a plaything; now she requires it even as I sleep. Sleep? My toes are exposed, and there is no sleep.

I stagger toward the morning coffee, like a toy to the slaughter. She wraps herself around my legs, trying to bring me down. Playful.

Dusk. Her eyes are glowing saucers as she hurtles through the room, then she is gone. Lurking, ears flat against her predator's head. Targeting.

Dawn. Youthful feline energy, wide awake. I am the toy.


The Duality of Salad

Digestible in any sense of the word. I love the word salad.

Green with enviable chlorophyll, to dig we must use the implements at hand, for the root of the repast lies within.

I love the word-salad.

No mere pasta, this, it agrees with me wholeheartedly as it digests, then stows away, for archival quality is the root of the future.


Polyester's Ignoble Pedigree

Take my polyester. Please. For those who endure tepid climates, it may be a stretch to say that polyester is the only fabric that holds its shape no matter how many dewpoints it's forced to endure, and quite aside from the relative altitude of mercury in the graduated beaker below the stairs.

Certainly, cotton has its place, whether that's poolside, dark side, or actively displacing volume in the kidney-shaped receptacles we fall for, headlong and fully clothed, at the end of a hot and bothersome day.

Should polyester be allowed in the jean pool? Don't make me laugh. I'll give up my soulful threads of shrinking violet when pigs fly out of my lipstick, in formation, and on a heading of 29° 12' north by 70° 10' west.


Climate Change, Cloud Computing, and Your Mother

Cloud computing in the face of climate change: an explosive concept. If recent soundings are any indication, most people have now boarded the good ship Climate Change for its historic voyage to the bottom of the sea. Propelled by the irreversible thrust of its narcoleptic crew, it promises the scenic wonders of a submersible with none of the pesky accoutrementsportholes for examplethat only obscure the view.

Very well, but where does that leave the rest of us? Perched, high and dry, above our keyboards and smartphones, we who understand that cyberlife goes on have little to gain by jumping ship. Even as our roofs are torn away by tornadic winds, we bask in the promise of cloud computing, and all the sunshine that comes in the 120-degree aftermath of the storm.

I'm only joking, of course. Cloud computing in the face of climate change? What if there are no clouds, or worse yet, what if all we have to work with are stratospheric nacreous clouds? You know, those nitric- and sulfuric-laden clouds that turn data to goo. And what about a cloud with a name like cumulus congestus? I don't want to rely on a decongestant every time I need more storage space. Do you?

Of course not. And if your photos happen to be stored in a cirrus duplicatus cloud, how can you be sure that the duplicates haven't fallen into the hands of the enemy? I won't even get you started on cirrocumulus undulatus clouds. It goes without saying that undulating data are unstable data, unstable data aren't happy data, and unhappy data are unstable data.

In other words, if you're unable to sleep amid the pitiful wails of data languishing in the nebulous computing-clouds known as cirrostratus nebulosus, you will know in your heartand in my spleenthat mammatus lacunosus does, in fact, mean exactly what you had feared. Yes, mama is full of holes, and no, she won't be swaddling your pwecious data anymore, you little punk.


The Music of the Sphere

Recently, while nitpicking over the flaring nostrils of the bull I so foolishly antagonized while picnicking in a posted meadow, I was reminded of a post that agonized over the silence of solar flares versus the gut-numbing blasts perpetrated by the moon's many organists.

The reminder came just as a graphic representation of the same reminder was arriving in my inbox, thereby forcing me to sit up and take notice. At first, it seemed that Craig Conley had at once illuminated and amplified the sonic tendrils issuing from the aforementioned lunar organs, while the second and third glances corroborated what I had just heard and seen.

Nine organists. Nine organs. Nine fundamental frequencies. Assuming an SPF of 32, how many harmonics inhabit the average lunar flare? You do the math.

Courtesy of Craig Conley at

Regarding Bad Words

Ever mindful of the finer points, Craig Conley has come through with a graphic representation of what I had in mind yesterday when I attempted to reduce his graphic, pictured below, to 1000 words or less.

When you think about it, the mere fact that the graphic didn't yet exist is reason enough to doubt time's linear nature and its deleterious effect on my moustache, which is not to scale.

Bad Words

Bad in a no-good, dysfunctional sense. Speaking as a guy who likes words for their own sake, the idea of turning good words into bad holds an undeniably corpulent appeal. I don't mean bad words in the sense that I'll be made to eat soap; I mean bad in the no-good, dysfunctional sense, like hippodermis, or quasimofo.

Writing as a bloke whose perverse ambition is fleshed out in the sentences above, the idea of using quotes to frame a question bubbles to the top of the stack. "What is wrong with you?" comes to mind, though the exact location within the mind has now shifted from point B to point A.

Simply put, this is nature's way of separating the audio cortex from the video lobe, thus avoiding the sensations of vertigo and ick that come from asking a guy to do a bloke's job, or vice versum. If Mother Nature had wanted us to use the same part of the brain for speech and hardcopy, she would have said so in writing.


Channeling the Muse

Der Herbst (Die Muse Polyhymnia) - Francesco del Cossa - from is best done in the morning, after the second pot and well before the third has been given the chance to detune the limbic system. As you know, the limbus is easily overdriven, leaving pantomime as the only reliable means of communication. Used as gestures of good faith, hand signals and grimaces have their place at the dinner table, but in the morning, a mime is a terrible thing to waste.

In the morning, you also don't want the babbling of someone else's muse bleeding in from an adjacent channel. Channeling the correct muse first requires a stable frequency reference, which can be found in the surplus aisle of your favorite vintage outlet, and in spades at your local hardware store. Thus stabilized, the muse is free to impart wisdom, eloquence, and the local agriculture report, all delivered in the classic style of artists such as Francesco del Cossa, who is dead.

Not all muses share the same channel, so to avoid abusing a musical muse or misusing the muse of delirious writing, knowing the frequency of the desired muse before channeling will avoid the embarrassment of a quarter note where a word should have been, a whole note in place of four, or the humdrum cadence of words intended for mere communication. Tuning to 11.780 Hz brings the heartbeat of the world, but sometimes 145.800 MHz provides all the amusement I really need. 


Life Rebooted

Is there life after near-death?During the past 13 months, death has become one of the principal hallmarks of life. I don't mean my own death so much as the deaths of others, in particular those who continue to walk around as they always have, only with considerably reduced levels of enthusiasm.

I met such a man several months ago while travelling. He had recently returned from a business trip to Japan, where his circadian clock had been damaged by the time difference between here and there, there and here, and points in between. But after a period of day-sleeping interspersed with alarming doses of caffeine, he began to feel like himself again, for which I took him at his word, not knowing precisely what he felt like before we met, or after.

As he told me his story, this not-knowing gave way to maybe-knowing, followed by the familiar knowing-but-not-really sensation I've come to associate with having walked a mile in my own shoes, which isn't at all the same as lurching about in someone else's. Perhaps this lurching action was to blame for the uneasy feeling that began to take hold as he told me that, at some point in the past, he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, which had in turn prompted his decision to live life to its fullest before committing suicide. Considering he was the one telling the story, I could only assume that this hadn't worked out entirely as planned.

I was right about that, of course. He tried, twice, but the powers that be had other plans, prompting him to go to South America for non-traditional treatment, which apparently did away with the tumor. All's well that ends well, tragedy narrowly averted, and all that.

Not exactly. I've heard and read other stories along the same linesnear-death experiences, mostlyand the common thread is what happens afterward. It seems that life's trajectory is altered, but the exact direction is by no means clear. Whether this has to do with forgetting what was made obvious on the other side or a more fundamental shift in the individual's core, the result doesn't necessarily have a positive feel for the person involved.

In fact, it seems the end result may have more in common with a wandering, disembodied spirit than the joy one might expect from a second chance at life. Maybe it's just the predictable result of trying to return to old ways that seemed to work before, but will never work again.

Maybe it's just another ghost story.


The Muttering of Pigeons

Quote unquoteYou may have heard it said that there's no fool like an old fool, which is really nothing but a play on words designed to torment those of us who know a thing or two about progressive hearing loss. To my ear, the phrase sounds like the muttering of pigeons, or the secretive undertones created by the shifting of tectonic plates. To my other ear, it has more in common with the coded signals used by agents of foreign governments when they don't want me to know what they're doing. But I do know, and the message is always the same: Deh Oh Foo Ike Uh Oh Foo.

The first time I heard those words, I was left with a sense of déjà vu similar to what I experience every day when Jack wishes me a good morning, which to me sounds more like "groo roo," but not everyone understands Jack the way I do. I believe this understanding is the result of countless hours spent peering into Jack's mouth, searching for consonants, but only a new fool would hear everything he believes.

Speaking as an Akita, Jack simply prefers the direct approach to the roundabout, leaving it to other breeds to mince words. Having taken the time to look an Akita in the mouth, I'm left with the overwhelming conviction that brevity is in the ear of the beholder, and never the other way around.


Hawking's Alchemy

While I'm waiting for my sense of humor to return from its most recent journey to Outer Darkness, I thought it would be a good idea to use this space for something, by which I mean the absence of nothing. Now that I think about it, the idea wasn't really mine in the first place, so I wasn't thinking about the good idea so much as waiting for someone else to have it for me. This idea-by-proxy came to me by way of Peter Kim over at Online PhD, who was kind enough to make me aware of the graphic you see below, assuming your eyes aren't swollen shut.

Like smoke, lemonade gets in your eyes. This is especially true if you forget to put the lid on the blender, which isn't the sort of thing you would expect from Stephen Hawking. Where others might be content with the idea of making lemonade from the pile of lemons set before them by the hands of angry gods, the illustrious Mr. Hawking chose alchemy instead, turning lemons to gold and gold to more gold, until he had so much gold piled up in his kitchen that there wasn't any room left for the blender, or the margarine. I think that's where he decided to put all the gold down the disposal and pursue more important things, like Physics.

I'm only guessing about that, of course. My own experiences with lemons have been considerably more perverse, but when the ordinary household blender is plugged into a 220 volt line, there's going to be smoke. I know that now.

Stephen Hawking