Sunday, January 31, 2010

Surfin' The Net

Why does an old guy like me spend so much time hopping from one website to another, hour after hour, day after day? Perhaps it is merely to satisfy curiosity. Or possibly it is an effort to gain new knowledge. But if so, of what importance is this new information? Will it not simply be lost in just a short time? Lost with my death?

Not necessarily. For I blog, you see.

And conceivably my blog will survive after I am no more than burnt ash and bone dust. My blog entries will continue on in a fashion similar to the old way, the published book-in-print way, the method men and women once used to preserve their thoughts and ideas regarding the events and circumstances unique to their particular era.

I 'surf the net' and learn new things and then I record my own interpretation of formerly unfamiliar concepts: my scribbled squibs of personal thought, my jots & tittles as it were.

And who's to say that one of those squiggles will not be viewed at some future time by some evolved entity and act as a serendipitous stepping-stone across the mindless river of unconcerned happenstance and lead to some undiscovered land of hope and opportunity for the then prevailing race of thinking beings?

We may mourn the passing of the old and scorn the streamlined modes of the new but giving up in disgust is surely nothing more than emotion-driven foolishness.

One should use what is available.

So on and on I surf and learn and record the essence of that which is me.

Why not?

When I clicked on the link to an article at a well-known and highly respected online National Magazine, a large and colorful box 'flashed' onto the face of my monitor asking if I would mind taking a brief reader-feedback survey. Having often enjoyed some of the material in this publication, I figured I'd help them out with a thoughtful and deeply insightful response.

But the survey turned out to be one of those dumbed-down fill-in-the-circle multiple choice forms, one of those O Good, O Fair, O Poor, O Bad, O It-Really-Stinks type of things.

First question: How would you rate today's visit?

Good Lord!

Why would they ask me that question in a pop-up that completely concealed the first few paragraphs of the very first page? Before I'd had a chance to read a single word?

I decided not to take the survey after all, and also to skip reading the article. So in disgust I just clicked back to the Arts & Letters Daily icon on my desktop.

The next piece I turned to was a short biography of the noted writer, Philip K. Dick.What did I learn from this blog entry? Well, for one thing, this guy Dick was one of those Scientology nut-cases. And a practitioner of Zen and Buddhism. He was a frequent drug abuser, a poor excuse for a parent, had attempted suicide several times, and had once been reduced to eating horse meat.

Mr. Dick noted in an interview back in 1969 that he preferred to write Science Fiction because its "audience is not hamstrung by middle-class prejudices and will listen to genuinely new ideas."

"Horse meat!"

When I was young and on the road I once bummed a Camel and a light and then wheedled a quarter from a passing citizen on a narrow sidewalk in downtown Birmingham Alabama and took it into a hole-in-the-wall diner. On a cracked blackboard was scrawled, "Horse Meat Burgers, 3 For A Quarter." Since I had not eaten for two days, I ordered 3 burgers and a glass of water.

The food tasted swell. Three super-thick meat patties covered with mounds of steaming hot grease-grilled sweet onions between the halves of three gigantic fresh-baked buns. Delicious!

As I walked out the diner door I grinned and shrugged my shoulders in apology to the waitress, the one who had blue-gray smoke curling up into her squinty wrinkled eyes from the long Pall Mall cigarette that hung from her bottom lip... because I didn't have any money, not even a nickel, to leave her as a token tip.

I'm not sure what Philip K. Dick's biographer meant by saying he was "reduced to eating horse meat." There is nothing distasteful about horse meat. Not when one is truly hungry.

I stumbled across a Youtube X-Rated Parody of The Exorcist. Even though it made me laugh, many people will find it profane, vulgar, sacrilegious and not at all funny. You would be well advised to skip this one.

You have been warned.

Do not click this link.

Another new word has entered my vocabulary.

lucubration [look yoo brey shuhn]
1. laborious work, study, thought, etc., esp. at night.
2. the result of such activity, as a learned speech or dissertation.
3. Often, lucubrations. any literary effort, esp. of a pretentious or solemn nature.

Surely this is a word I will never use. But it's an interesting word. It has many possibilities.

I have been working on an essay detailing my thoughts on fear. It is nearly finished but still needs something. I'm not sure what that is but as soon as I find out I'll wrap it all up and post it here first. As soon as I finish my lucubration. Maybe as soon as tomorrow. We'll see.

Until then . . .

This video clearly and concisely explains the brain

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Life Is One Scary Interlude

I do believe that I am destined to someday scare myself to death.

This wisp of insight has, just lately, finally become apparent to me.

My calculating shadow is ever-alert...for the slightest opportunity to pounce upon me, upon me its lifelong victim...its too-often otherwise-occupied and unwary prey. That dark entity's frighteningly sudden appearance from its doleful den of ever-night into the glare of the light of day, its incarnation as it leaps with extended tooth and claw... it simply terrifies me.

When I unwittingly knock-over a nearby object, this action starts a chain of events that sets alight and sends to flight a veritable skyrocket of blood-pressure and heightened pulse-rate. And sparks a sudden sense of instantaneous panic.

It is then a matter of long minutes before the streaming pressure of the blood coursing through my arteries and veins returns to a relatively normal rate of flow.

The innocent pen or pencil or magnifying glass or unopened resting checkbook falls...

And when it falls it then so pseudo-serendipitously and seemingly maliciously dislodges other objects lying there...below it at rest near my desk...and they too suddenly launch themselves through the air and into my hyper-alerted consciousness...

And reflexively I jump aside and dodge and then dislodge another of those hidden scurrilous demons in disguise.

But wait, now.


An idea for a story of horror has come this instant to the fore. And it's tapping at the entrance on my imagination's chamber door. An idea yes but with it also something more. An unwelcome visitor is insistently knocking, persistently mocking, deep within my psyche's quaking core.

Hmm . . .

No, not now. Maybe later . . .

First things first.

Back to work on the story I was crafting just before I paused to scribble down today's blog entry. Let me see now, where was I?

Oh yes . . .

A Somewhat True Recollection

by Charles Gene Chambers

One summer evening in 1955 when I was a 16-year-old sophomore and reluctant male-virgin I was as usual playing slap-and-tickle with one of the loud and rowdy females who hung out at Bazz's roller-skating rink out on the edge of town.

The snack bar appended to Bazz's with its booming jukebox was a destination the rock'n'rollin' teens of the town had found to be sufficiently permissive enough in which to nightly congregate. To have something to do, you know.

This night my teasing playmate (Note: prey-bait? primate? prime-mate?) was Lanky Lucy, real name Lucille Collins, who was 19 and had graduated high-school the year before.

Lucille had been flirting with me all evening. Even though she was not the prettiest girl in town, she was kinda cute in a slim boy-ish kind of way with her short-trimmed dark hair and faded men's work-jeans.

But her deep and dusky eyes, shadowed coal-black and her wide and cushiony crimson-colored lips were not at all boy-like. In the face-painting department Lucille was one-hundred percent female.

(break here: the following are plot notes)

Dickie, Lee, and Paul complain about nothing to do and horse-play, pitching pennies, punching each other on the shoulder, and then ranking on each others' mothers, etc.
(expand this) Lucille and I keep playing around, slapping at each other and ducking and running from each other until the other guys (hint that these 3 curiously-interesting characters: Dickie, Lee, and Paul, will have future roles to play) go inside and Lucille and I are alone.

When we are alone, she slowly reaches out and takes my hand and leads me down the adjoining alley into the darkness alongside the building and then wraps her arms around my neck and pulls my body against her own, and somehow she is no longer boyish or lean or hard.

She has become totally feminine. incredibly full-bodied, and achingly soft.

A little later as we creep hand-in-hand into the high grass behind the
Wolfitz Lumber Yard down near the railroad tracks, we are joined by Lucille's best friend, Susie Ritter, who REALLY joins us as we become intimate in 'heavy-petting' (remember, this is the 1950s)

From behind me, Susie exhales a puff of warmth on my neck and then lingeringly kisses my neck and runs the tip of her tongue up and down and around on my flesh and presses her tiny pointed breasts into my back.

(End of Story Notes:)

Oh Good Lord! Such insipid mush. Perhaps I could introduce a fictional villain hiding in a nearby railroad boxcar, a mysterious character who...

No! No, dammit. Get back to work.

(grumble, grumble)

Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D. Salinger Dead At 91

J.D. Salinger

I read J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye a few times many years ago. And then I read it again last year.

As a youthful reader I liked the story and completely agreed with heroic young Holden Caulfield's every thought and action.

As a more judicious and experienced older man I found the story to be an excellent (but at the same time a mildly ho-hum) description of how the undeveloped mind of an American man-child can be (and usually is) so overwhelmingly wrong... and yet be so absolutely positive that he (and he alone) is intuitively right about so many things.

According to an EW news brief J.D. Salinger once said:

"There's a marvelous peace in not publishing, Publishing is a terrible invasion of privacy...I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure."

Like Salinger, I too love to write and am fearful about the fame and fortune that successful authorship might bring along with it. But unlike Salinger I write not just for myself...I feel the need to know that others are reading what I write.

Here's what Stephen King had to say about J.D. Salinger, just after Salinger's death.

That's really about all I want to say about this subject at this time.

"What a wonderful life I've had!

I only wish I'd realized it sooner.:


Thursday, January 28, 2010

State Of The Union, et cetera

I did not watch President Obama deliver The State Of The Union speech on TV last night. Nor did I listen to it on the radio while working at the computer as I had planned. It seems that a fortunate circumstance beyond my control intervened at the last moment to alter the course of my evening.


Yes, I fell asleep in my easy-chair at just after 8:30. It seems that I have easily assumed the role of the traditional doddering old codger who habitually nods off during even the most momentous of occasions.

Ah well, that's life, as the saying goes.

And speaking of momentous occasions . . . all at once yesterday afternoon I found myself unable to FTP files to my website, and no matter what I tried, that same error-notice pop-up just kept announcing that my ID or Password was incorrect.

My password was saved on my computer and was also printed on a sheet of paper beside my computer. But every time I re-entered it, up popped that same "Incorrect Password" declaration. Again and again. Admittedly my language within that specific half-hour time frame became somewhat less than pious

Eventually I decided to hasten over to the Network Solutions website (my long-time web-host) and use the Manage My Account page to see what I could find out.

Problem solved!

The Web Host had changed my password. Just at the instant I found that out, I remembered an email notification I'd received last month informing me that, for enhanced security, this change would soon be enacted.

But I had forgotten.

Imagine that.

My son told me of a clever saying he'd worked up while walking his dog early yesterday morning. Since he did not give me permission to repeat it (and I neglected to ask) I won't include it here. But I'm still chuckling in appreciation.

According to the latest AWAD pronouncement, the word heliolatry means "worship of the sun" and I most certainly count myself a member of the congregation of these worshipers. Even though I will soon be leaving the state of Florida, my new home will be located beneath the same warming glow of the blessed and most divine old Sol himself.

If one must idolize an object, one could do worse than to choose the very source of biological life, the Great and Glorious Golden GOD . . .

But, enough of such silliness . . . for now.

A cartoon regarding Noah's Ark over on Language Log made me laugh out loud. (Not really, but I did chuckle under my breath)

It takes a certain kind of humorist to make me burst out in audible mirth. Jackie Gleason could do it. So could Red Skelton. And good ol' Johnny Carson.

In The New Yorker online I read a piece written by Woody Allen titled Udder Madness and I found it hilarious. Well, hilarious is perhaps a bit overstated. It was pretty funny though. If one uses one's imagination. In my opinion.

I have been reading about Cuba, and about Jose Marti. My
Spanish has deteriorated over the last few years from lack
of usage. But I can still follow some of it.

Who needs written language when one can listen to music?

Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a
needle and discovering a farmer's daughter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Censorship and the Banning of Books

The mother of a student in Menifee, California complained that the 10th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary contained inappropriate material regarding Oral Sex, to which district officials over-reacted a bit, proposing to ban the dictionary from the school's library shelves.

Here is the supposedly offensive definition:

A district official that stoops to removing books from a school library has merely done his job in a manner he believes right and proper, even if only to further enhance his own eminence in the eyes of a deplorably ignorant electorate.

But a community that condones such actions has injured only itself. Students will mature and self-educate and move on. The village, if ignored by a wiser external society, will stagnate and eventually choke to death on its own vitriolic vomit.

Here are some books that have been banned in the United States.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was outlawed in Alabama schools due to "sexually offensive" passages. Adding to this, four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of this book because it is a 'real downer.'

Alice Walker's The Color Purple, where parents and school leaders in Jackson County West Virginia banned the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel due to its sexually and socially explicit nature, in addition to the book's "Troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality."

The Grapes of Wrath, a novel by John Steinbeck. Banned in many places in the US. In the region of California in which it was partially set, it was banned because it made the residents of this region look bad.

Howl a poem by Allen Ginsberg. Copies of the first edition were seized by San Francisco Customs for obscenity in March 1957; after trial, obscenity charges were dismissed.

Lady Chatterley's Lover a novel by D.H. Lawrence. Temporarily banned for obscenity in the U.S. but the ban was lifted in 1959.

Tropic of Cancer a novel by Henry Miller. Banned in the US in the 1930s until the early 1960s, seized by US customs for sexually explicit content and vulgarity. The rest of Miller's work was also banned by the United States

Ulysses by James Joyce. Challenged and temporarily banned in the US for its sexual content. In 1933 the ban was overturned.

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Banned in the Southern States due to its anti-slavery content.

United States-Vietnam Relations: 1945-1967. A government study by Robert McNamara and the United States Department of Defense. Also known as the Pentagon Papers. US President Nixon attempted to suspend publication of classified information. The restraint was lifted by the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision.

Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland. Banned in the USA in 1821 for obscenity, then again in 1963. This was the last book ever banned in the USA.

That's just a few. A list of the most often challenged books can be found on a page of The American Library Association.

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

September 25-October 2, 2010 is hailed by the ALA. as Banned Books Week

(BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Banning books, indeed censorship in all its multi-cloaked disguises is inherently damaging (often lethal) to the citizens of any supposedly Free State. Any government eventually will, and must, demand the power to regulate the distribution of information to its subjects.

Thinking individuals should always keep that principle in mind. When a government acts (or seeks to make laws) to suppress the free flow of information on grounds of religion, morality, or simply that it knows "what is best for you" or that it
"NEEDS YOU" -- Watch out!

. . . 'nuff said?

Laughter is God's most soothing balm.
--Gene Chambers

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thoughts On Reading Preferences

An article The Death Of Fiction in the January/February 2010 issue of Mother Jones first states, "Lit mags were once launching pads for great writers and big ideas." and then asks, "Is it time to write them off?"

Illustration: Frank Stockton

While I found the article interesting, I have to admit that it brought my mind back to those seemingly heretical thoughts I have been harboring and musing upon for a long time: my own thoughts on the subject of popular writing versus literary writing.

Not thoughts engendered and shaped and refined by learned teachers and professors of literature.

Not echoed second-hand opinions, but my own intuitive thoughts which, when revealed, so often transform bosom buddies into hostile antagonists.

My thoughts are based on my observations of simple common-folk, the general run of middle-class American citizens with which I (being one of them) usually associate.

For example:

The writings attributed to William Shakespeare were neither obscure nor elitist: at that time. In the 1500s. Around 500 years ago. Those popular works used words the people of the time understood and used themselves. Understandable words that were arranged to bring about an enlightenment of sorts, but known words, notwithstanding.

Words that were an illumination of a higher truth than that which the members of the audience were accustomed to ponder. Words presented not so much in written form to be read as is done today, but in poems to be declaimed and voiced in performed plays, words to be spoken aloud by actors.

When I speak of or write about my opinion as to what constitutes enjoyable reading, preferring Stephen King to Shakespeare, I am immediately characterized (loudly and scornfully) as being an uneducated lout. Which I am. Without a doubt.

Do I in turn step up and call out in derision, labeling my accuser an elitist snob? No. I merely sit back and wonder why these highly educated yet unreasonably-incensed castigators cannot simply continue to read whatever they want to read and, in turn, allow me to read what I want to read?

Another example:
From Beowulf:

Hwat! we Gar-Dena in gear-dagum
beod-cyninga prym gefrunon,
hu ba aoelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaoena preatum.

Lo! the Spear-Danes' glory through splendid achievements
The folk-kings' former fame we have heard of,
How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.
Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers...

Ever will be
the Morlocks
and the Eloi.

No further elaboration needed.

Loyalty to a petrified opinion
never yet broke a chain or
freed a human soul.
--Mark Twain

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Little of This, A Little of That

While skimming the blogs I noticed this somewhat cryptic observation: It's worth pointing out that "X is true" and "People exist who believe X is true" are not actually the same statement.

Equally applicable to cultists and atheists.

My Unfamiliar Word Section

mutable [myoo-tuh-buhl]
1. liable or subject to change or alteration.
2. given to changing; constantly changing; fickle or inconstant:

Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently read an interesting (to me) article in The Independent titled "Read 'em and weep: The literary masters of misery who delight in desolation." It will surely be of interest to both aspiring writers and intelligent readers.

After a modicum of deliberation and much procrastination I have finally given in to a curious inclination to learn to use the Linux operating system. I don't know why. Instead of downloading the free set of files, I opted to pay $4 (most of that for shipping and handling) for a certified copy on disk. I've had some bad experiences lately with downloads.

This is what's called a "Live Disk" and will allow the user to use Linux from the disk itself instead of installing it on a computer. That way one can try out and learn about Linux without disturbing the computer's existing system.

When the disk arrives I intend to also use it to try booting up my finicky old laptop which has decided that it can no longer find the (Windows 98) operating system.

What the heck, it's a new challenge of sorts.

I was at a loss as to the proper spelling of the medium. Is it "disk" or "disc" or both or neither?

At WiseGeek I found: For the most part, disc and disk can be used interchangeably to describe flat, round objects such as saucers or Frisbees. The British as a whole tend to prefer disc, while Americans generally use disk as their default spelling. Historically, the word disk entered the popular vernacular first, sometime during the 17th century. Many English words were formed from Germanic roots, which explains the use of a final hard K sound in words such as desk, whisk, task and disk.

WiseGeek's concluding paragraph begins with the sentence, "While there is nothing inherently wrong with either spelling, there are times when one is preferable to the other." and then it elaborates a bit.

A friend sent me a quiz that had been sent to him:

2 + 3 = 10
7 + 2 = 63
6 + 5 = 66
8 + 4 = 96
9 + 7 = ?

I puzzled out what seemed correct to me and then sent him my answer, which was 144. He replied that both he and his wife had independently come up with that same answer.

I have no idea if they and I are right or wrong.

"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Surreal Is As Surreal Does

The Wondrous Jots & Tittles I Have Seen,
Glimpsed As Through A Darkened Pane,
Reveal A World That Might Have Been,
Snapshots Of A Higher Happier Plane.

The perpetrator of the above was me, Gene Chambers. I alone am responsible for it. If anyone should be ashamed of having created such a curious piece of work, it is I, and I alone.


Just now, I saw out my window a flock of brightly colored parakeets. They appeared before my eyes as if they'd blossomed forth from some other dimension, 8 or 10 of them, hopping around in the grass, no kidding, out on my front lawn, a blue one, two green & yellow ones, and several darker-feathered ones.

The birds arrived in a flash and left in a flash. I had only a brief but delightful glimpse of them.


What exactly is sensation?

Is it related to an epiphany?

I should think not.

The former is only a flash, a glimpse of a potential idea or concept, lacking the concreteness produced by weighty
pondering and yet somehow excitingly memorable: a sudden stab of inspired feeling.

The latter is a seemingly instantaneous conclusion drawn from extended subconscious musings upon the former.

Or so it seems to me.

Jocular Jots and Titillating Tittles? Oh yes. Oh yes, indeed.

I found an old picture of the church I joined and attended in the early and mid-1950s. Being a member of the town's recognized in-group (doctors, lawyers, educators) seemed at the time a judicious and wise decision.

And there was a ping-pong table in a back room.

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rensselaer, Indiana

The minister was Joe Fitch. Most of the more pious members of the church called him Reverend Fitch, but I called him Joe. He didn't seem to mind. Not only was he my pastor, he was the father of a saucy young girl (a school classmate) that I admired from afar. And he was at one point (during my teenage hoodlum years) an understanding and lenient probation officer.

On a completely different note . . .

While searching for appropriate pictures to insert into this posting, I happened upon one of West Washington Street (the main drag) taken in Rensselaer back in 1910. There seems to be an electric light hanging from a wire above the intersection. Could be a traffic signal. Did they have traffic lights back then?

Notice the pounded-dirt surface of the road.

Speaking of roads . . .

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

Looking back I now can see that I did that too; instead of the brightly lighted path I took the shadowed weed-grown road, the crooked, twisted secluded way, that winding back-road that is most often shunned. Because it seemed the right one, the only one, the one created surely just for me.

And from time's penultimate perspective I can see that, indeed, it has made all the difference.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nearly Time To Move On

For the last couple of weeks I have been emptying my three closets in preparation for an upcoming move from Florida to another state. It is not a pleasant experience to realize that the biggest portion of my possessions are nothing more than mere baubles. The various familiar objects, commonly characterized as 'one-man's-treasure' are indeed another man's junk.

One closet contains mostly clothing, much packed in boxes but some on hangers, hanging in open view though not worn for years, lonesome reminders of bygone days when this raiment's purpose was not to hide but to enhance a body that then was hard and large and meaningful with its properly balanced and socially-acceptable distribution of muscle and fat. No longer of any use. The clothing, I mean. Not even suitable for the Salvation Army resale shops.

Another closet yields a trove of electronics parts: circuit boards, loudspeakers, microphones, plugs & receptacles & connectors & non-compartmented and uncategorized components. At least a thousand of them. Or so it seems.

And electronics books and manuals. And floppy-discs and software and blank CDs. And old radios, one with a pair of huge detached speakers and a built-in 8-track player with several 8-track cartridges.

Also four old computers, one that still works in its ancient Windows 98 mode and one that works most of the time, when it feels like booting up. Two that are dead but would work fine if only a person would take the time to do a component-level repair. And two old CB radios, one with 23 channels and another one so old that it is tunable through a vast spectrum of long-forgotten frequencies.

A third closet, supposedly a linen closet that contains nine towels, two wash cloths, a pile of old rags, and hundreds of boxed-up small hand-tools.

The guest bedroom which is a combination computer-room and Ham Shack, with its HP Pavilion PC with a 21 inch monitor and HP LaserJet 1000 printer and DeskJet 895C printer and 2 HP flat-bed scanners.

Two working transceivers, 2-meters & 10-meters. Scattered remnants of old rigs. My framed FCC issued Amateur Radio license, KA9CWJ. Probably 50 assorted connecting cables and page-packaged displays of many, many QSL cards received from Hams from all over the world with whom I've conversed in both words and via Morse Code throughout the years.

And my framed but fading Associate in Engineering Electronics degree from (now defunct) Valparaiso Technical Institute.

The more than 100 hard-bound and that same number of soft-cover novels and texts on my living-room's large wooden book-shelf are of little intrinsic value, most having been purchased at yard sales, discount stores, or on eBay for a fraction of their displayed retail price. A few are quite old, but not collectibles by any means. All have been read and therefore are drained of their novelty, useless except as nostalgic reminders of what was once perused, absorbed, and is now mostly forgotten.

Almost all of this is to be sold, given away, or discarded at the curb for rubbish pickup. Another phase of my life is ending.

I am taking no pictures of any of it.


None is necessary.


I have read that in his later years Pablo Picasso was not allowed to roam an art gallery unattended, for he had previously been discovered in the act of trying to improve on one of his old masterpieces.

. . . 'nuff said?

Friday, January 22, 2010

This Is Not My Most Favorite Day

As I attempted to begin today's posting I was horrified to find that my mind kept blanking instead of opening up to its usual panorama of brilliant thoughts, original ideas, and miscellaneous memoranda stored in long-term memory for use at times like these.

So I visited some of my usual haunts, Language Log, - Rensselaer Adventures,- Delancey Place, etc. But even these old favorites yielded none of their normal inspirations to stimulate me to remark upon, or enhance, or bring to mind a personal memory to shamelessly reveal.

What was I to do?

Then it struck me that I could use Blogger's "Next Blog" feature and visit some brand new sites. Surely that would solve my dilemma of mindlessly drifting through the doldrums and melancholy humdrums.

But, no. After clicking through more than 20 blogs I gave up in bleak despair. Not a one of them stirred my emotions nor my imagination. Most were a lot like this blog of mine: stiff, stilted, overly-personalized and boring as all-get-out.

Then I turned to poetry. A last resort.

I read By Dark a poem by W.S. Merwin in today's Writer's Almanack that did a good job of scaring the Be-Jesus out of me, although I don't think that was the poet's intention. It reinforced my belief that a poem has multitudes of meanings more than was perhaps visualized by its creator.

A reader can analyze only the skeletal structure of a poem through intellect, not its essence which is somehow absorbed by some mysterious emotional connection, and this absorption is colored by the total life-to-date of the hearer or reader of the poem.

That's how I see it, anyway.

Why am I now so sadly fallen down here into the depths of the dumps?

Ah well . . .

Not all of my days can be filled with wonderment and the thrill of discovery.

It is such a secret place,
the land of tears.
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck?

While walking by a quadraplex on San Jose Manor Drive I saw this huge stack of trimmed tree trunks and since I had my camera handy I snapped a quick shot.

After a few more steps, I heard a man shout and I turned around to look in his direction. He had a chain saw in his hand and was walking toward one of the remaining trees. Since he was obviously going to cut down another tree in that same front lawn I paused long enough to take a picture of the tree falling. I snapped the shutter a bit too soon, but it is the one that has just started to fall, the one in the middle, the one that is no longer standing straight and tall.

I tried to snap another one immediately but it takes too long for the digital camera to recover and so I was too late to catch the landing with its resounding "Crash!" and the resulting creation of a terrific cloud of dirt and dust.

I wondered what was to be the fate of those logs. Would they be hewn and shaped into building lumber, cut up as fireplace wood, run through a chipper and scattered about as mulch, to eventually return to the land in elemental form? I sometimes ponder things like that.

Clearing off the land
Getting rid of the trees.
"Make room, make room."
"Oh, Beautiful . . .
For Spacious Skies . . ."

Here is another picture (not mine) of
land clearing, at a different location.

And here is another Land Clearing picture.
From the history books.

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree . . ."

Here's a pair of questions worth asking:

Do you suppose that mankind will someday discover another world where trees in forests grow?

In that far future time, will even a single pine or cedar survive here on planet Earth?

Questions worth asking and deserving of an answer.

And while on the subject of trees . . .

Rensselaer Adventures today features a retail shop dedicated to craftsmanship in woodworking. Take a look when you have time.