Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Still No Title


In celebration of Tim's new teaching position, Mike, JoAnn, Tim, Michelle, and I went out for dinner Sunday night at The Irish Pub and the food was delicious.

After a splendid appetizer of Irish Nachos (that tasted like a loaded baked Irish potato) I thoroughly enjoyed a main course of supposedly-authentic Fish & Chips (beer-battered cod) -- which is one of my favorite meals. The others shared stuffed jalapenos and shrimp cocktail for appetizers, but my aged stomach knows from experience that such spicy fare is a thing of the past for me.

. . .

Technological Marvels

Some Startling News from Japan, which seems obsessed with high-tech toilets: a toilet that displays a network-enabled health monitor version that checks blood sugar, BP, BMI, and urinalysis, all stored for a year for a family of four. Plans for the next version of the $5,000 marvel include communicating the measurements directly to physicians.

What next?
. . .

The Laying On Of Hands

In a video at Cleveland.com you can view nurses and other medical personnel receiving a blessing by the pastoral care team at MetroHealth Medical Center. Hands were washed, anointed with lavender oil, and participants also received a bookmark along with a lavender plant. Divine intervention? The placebo effect? Unexplained powers of the human mind?

Who knows? If it works and harms nobody, why not do it?

. . .

MIAMI, Aug 30 (Reuters) --
Hurricane Earl battered the Northern Leeward Islands in the Caribbean on Monday and was poised to become a major Category 3 hurricane that could swipe the U.S. East Coast in the next few days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Even though I no longer live in Florida, some members of my family are still there, so I try to keep abreast of the latest hurricane warnings. In fact, as soon as I upload this, I am going to check on Earl's progress.

Update: I saw a TV weather report that indicates the track for Earl is tending toward the Northeast which means that Florida is probably safe from the worst effects of this hurricane, but in the past it's been noticed that accompanying outlying hurricane winds sometime produce power outages and such irritants.

Remember . . . you should never discount Mother Nature.

. . .

Here is a photo I liked but neglected to display yesterday along with the others.


Notable Contrast of Industry with Nature
(Click the pic for a larger view)

. . .

Germany has very generous parental leave policies. Women get a full year of paid maternal leave, which they can extend to three years of “educational” leave. Employers are mandated to retake these working mothers in the same position after they leave.

So says The Daily Dish anyway.

. . .

I read a short, emotional moving essay about pets, copied it, and posted it on my website -- if you read it, please tell me what you thought of it. There is more about the author here in case you are interested.

. . .

President Obama says that he is a Christian



According to PZ Myers, "...you can't trust Christians ... because behind the polite and friendly mask ... is the brain of a drooling idiot." which seems to me to be a rather harsh and generalized judgment.

But, of course, "Who am I to refute the highly-esteemed PZ Myers?"


Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
--Unknown

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reading, Writing, and Other Stuff . . .


The reading and reading of stories and stories again and again over the multiple years has affected me and still affects me in a two-fold way, attracting me to the positive pole of inspired emulation to bask in sheer admiration and utter awe of such artful word conjunctions, while simultaneously repelling me from the negative pole of fearful failure where the unlettered lout is rightly left to quake alone in quotidian darkness at night enclosed in a shroud of lightless fright.

Considering, for example:

Here is a short excerpt taken from Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien:

So Paul Berlin winged it. Flat out through the Anatolian flatlands and down the townless, lightless country toward the sea, hell-bent for water, knowing now the full meaning of desperado.

Clear, direct, incomparable artistry.

And that's all I have to say about that.

. . .


Yesterday was Sunday, a day of rest, so I sent myself out for a relaxing walk along a sand-packed rocky desert path with my camera to seek out some substance in nature's abundance of such.


Below are samples of what I saw along the way:
(Click each picture to see a larger view)




















There are more, but . . .

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Again I Have No Title


While walking with me out on the back deck Eva suddenly scampered over to the swimming pool's edge and excitedly reached down to the surface and grabbed up a lashing-tailed six-inch long lizard that was swimming rapidly away. After much coaxing I persuaded Eva to drop the furiously writhing creature onto the graveled ground at the outer fence. I then later fetched the pool skimmer and launched the hapless invader out into the remorseless desert.

Case closed.

. . .

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."



. . .

Last night just before I fell asleep a seemingly profound thought occurred to me:

From the instant of The Big Bang's beginning until the instant of the universe reaching total entropy, many changes will have taken place, one of them being the emergence of biological life on Earth and its eventual demise long before the Earth's Sun will have unavoidably expired.

A day later, I still remember the thought. But I no longer am excited by it. Ho hum.

. . .

Chicago is . . .



. . .

YouTube has some video-recorded messages to Christopher Hitchens who is now suffering from esophageal cancer which can be viewed at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNARwNOTrMw&feature=player_embedded#!

. . .

I found the word naivety as I was reading in an informal journal and was delighted to learn that this word actually now exists in the English language. I looked it up in an online dictionary and found:

(nah-EVE-tee) Noun: the state or quality of being naive; ingenuousness; simplicity; gullibility Alternative spelling of naïveté. naivete, naiveté, naïvete, naivety

Now that is a word I can use, and will -- probably much too often.

. . .

Do you see the cube below as if you are on its left side looking up into it or as if you are on its right side looking down into it?

Necker Cube

Can you alternately realign your eyes and view the cube as if from each perspective?

Curious, eh? And thought provoking.


Also thought-provoking is a paragraph I read at The Buddha Is Not Serious blog:

Ninety percent of the thoughts spinning around in our heads have no essential reality. And we go from birth to death, unless we wake up, wasting most of our life with them. The gruesome part of sitting (and it is gruesome, believe me) is to begin to see what is really going on in our mind. It is a shocker for all of us. We see that we are violent, prejudiced, and selfish. We are all those things because a conditioned life based on false thinking leads to these states. Human beings are basically good, kind, and compassionate, but it takes hard digging to uncover that buried jewel.


And finally . . .

"As some people say" is one of the more perniciously lazy phrases in the English language.
--PZ Myers

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Last night and this morning I have been absorbed by reading (at Wikipedia, et. al) about Sturm und Drang (Storm and Urge, or, Storm and Stress) and I have also poked my overly-inquisitive nose into the dark and formidable entrance-hole to the perilous pit of Faust written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Also, this lead me to research The Enlightenment (The Age of Enlightenment or simply The Enlightenment is the era in Western philosophy and intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centered upon the eighteenth century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority.) to refresh my weakening memory.

Ha! And this from a simple, homespun and grizzled old curmudgeon who is much enamored of the works of Thomas Harris. How long this new endeavor will hold fascination for me is hard to tell.

. . .

On last night's Eva walk, Mike called my attention to a hawk perched on the stucco wall before the front entrance to a neighborhood home, and I quickly took a couple of pictures of it. Then Mike snapped two additional shots of it, with my camera. One of his snaps caught the bird in a wings-spread pose, but wouldn't you know that this was the one photo of the bunch that was not saved onto the camera's memory card. That happens sometimes with my little Canon Power Shot A510 and I don't know why.

As in life, sometimes unexplained things apparently just happen.


Best Photo Of Three


Tucson, AZ 8/27/2010

. . .

This website refurbishment is weighing on my mind to a somewhat frightening degree. Should I delete the entire site and start anew or merely add and subtract selected items? The long ignored Online Daily Journal has got to go. It will remain on my hard drive and on my Cruzer memory stick, but will no longer appear online. The brief bio will stay. The links page and the section wherein lie some of my unpublished (and quite badly written) stories and poems will remain, as will the link to the Writers Photo Album. But the rest will have to go.

Refurbishment is a time-consuming process. And I am seventy-one years old. Ah well, this can be a convenient excuse for not having time for authoring a novel or writing new short stories.

Hm. Self-analysis really sucks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Title, Title, Title . . .


I have not as yet started the renovation and refurbishment of my website http://www.genechambers.com/ -- and as usual, periodic bouts of self-chastisement keep nagging at my conscience. I am such a persistent procrastinator, hesitant of embarking upon happily imagined tasks as well as the tiresome chores, putting off even the most pleasurable pursuits which once begun are all too soon finally and sadly over and done.

Confession. I've heard, is good for the soul, but to whom might one confess with confidence? And what, pray tell, is a soul?

Oh no, I'll not go traipsing off on that all-too-tantalizing tottersome tangent. Not today.

. . .

Last night another creature of the desert surreptitiously crept into the garage. When I was notified of that event I managed to snap a shot of the elusive Arizona Scorpion lurking motionless on the hard concrete floor. After I had its picture safely stored in the digital camera the little beastie suddenly scurried hastily away, apparently in search of some concealment.

Denizen Of The Desert Discovered


And Its Image Duly Here Recorded

. . .


Too lazy to think of something else to write.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Things Are Funny - Some Are Not


I just invested a couple hours enjoying some of the late George Carlin's remarkable wit and wisdom by way of YouTube.

Here are links to a few of the best.

George Carlin's Tonight Show Performance featuring his take on modern words and expressions cracks me up.every time I view (and hear) it

Bet you can't get through that video without laughing.

Also, Global Warming is another Carlin diatribe that is worth hearing and thinking about.

Also, George Carlin's (extremely profane) Politically Incorrect revelation regarding Fat People

And finally, George Carlin's Greatest Moment

. . .

A short article about jam made with raspberries and sugar, nothing more, has prompted me to try my hand at cooking up a batch and finding out whether or not I can do it justice.




If I do prepare this tempting dish I will report on it here on this blog. If not, I probably won't.

. . .

Over at Rensselaer Adventures just below the picture of a bicyclist on a country highway, the blogger wrote: "There are so many interesting stories all around us and we hear so few of them."

And that statement is so true. As I daily walk along the roads here in East Tucson many men, women, children, animals, and many trees and rocks, and distant mountains all fall within my view, and each one of them is a character existing within a specific scene in a unique personal story. And those particular stories will never be heard or read unless I decide to tell or write them.

That is one monstrous responsibility.

. . .

I don't feel much like blogging today. Feel like reading.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Titles Are For Suckers...


Announcement --

John McCain Defeated J.D. Hayworth in yesterday's Arizona GOP Senate Primary election.

. . .

Howard Zinn was born August 24, 1922 and died January 27, 2010. Among a multitude of published writings, he wrote the following:

"I think it's very important to bring back the idea of socialism into the national discussion to where it was at the turn of the [last] century before the Soviet Union gave it a bad name. Socialism had a good name in this country. Socialism had Eugene Debs. It had Clarence Darrow. It had Mother Jones. It had Emma Goldman. It had several million people reading socialist newspapers around the country. Socialism basically said, hey, let's have a kinder, gentler society. Let's share things. Let's have an economic system that produces things not because they're profitable for some corporation, but produces things that people need. People should not be retreating from the word socialism because you have to go beyond capitalism."

Yes, Howard Zinn wrote that.

Okay. While I applaud those who would grant 'power to the people' one cannot help but take into account the instinctual nature of the human animal, which is first and foremost survival -- continuation of self, family, tribe, nation, and species. Socialism, as I understand it, is loosely defined as authority-enforced absolute equality for all citizens,and so is not amenable to the above mentioned self-perpetuating basic force of nature.

And that is my short and succinct opinion on the subject.

. . .

It seems impossible for one human being to communicate an imaginative and speculative radical 'concept' to another human being. For example: it is hilarious to watch the confused incredulity appear on the face of a scientist or an engineer when I say, "What if mathematics turns out to be a dead end? What if math is nothing more than the result of Emergent Thinking Man taking an initial mental 'wrong turn' in the formulation of human understanding?"

Well, to tell the truth, I have seen more than one well-educated and recognizably intelligent person shake his head in perplexity and walk away, seemingly astounded at how I could possibly ask such a ludicrous question.

But I have often mused upon the possibility that the entire field of mathematics is a flawed and limited discipline, and will eventually be abandoned and replaced by an alternative and more reliable method of arriving at workable conclusions (such as astronomical inter-dimensional navigation) -- a method based neither on numbers (calculational symbols) nor on words (communicational symbols) but instead upon absolutes gained from using intuition-derived unmistakable certainties.

That is how I see it.

And no, I can't express the thought in simpler terms.

. . .

Ray Bradbury is 90 years old

Click PZ Myers' blog if you are not prudish and then you can view both the above picture and a naughty YouTube video (you've been warned) plus a great many comments regarding same.

. . .

In an article about planting potatoes (enclosed in a cocoon of leaf mulch for warmth) in the fall instead of in the spring, I noticed the following: "...noted that the tops of the plant were dieing and so it was time to harvest!"

The spelling of "dieing" stopped me. Is not 'dying' the correct spelling of that word? Dying, as in approaching death? Or is this one of those instances in which either way is correct?

Growing curiouser and curiouser, I did a little research. According to an online forum wherein students asked teachers questions and the teacher posts an answer, I found the following. . .

Question: I saw that both "dieing" and "dying" can be used as the present continuous of "to die". What is the most common one ? And why is "dying" also correct?

Answer: There is no such word as "dieing". www.websters.com which is a great source for spelling of English words returned no word with the "dieing" spelling entered. The correct spelling is "dying" which is 100% used.

That satisfied me and I searched no more.

. . .

__________

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
--Oscar Wilde, writer (1854-1900)


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Time Heals ALL Wounds?


There are Excessive Heat warnings out today here in Arizona with a forecast of late-afternoon temperatures reaching 112 degrees (in some areas) accompanied by dangerously high humidity.

I will be skipping a long walk today.

. . .

The primary elections are underway in Tucson today. John McCain and J.D. Hayworth are candidates in the race for United States Senator.

Hayworth was once a promoter of a Get Free Government Money scam on a TV infomercial, and when asked by a news reporter about defrauding the public, he said, "Caveat Emptor"

I doubt if that unscrupulous huckster will defeat John McCain, but then again, one is often advised to never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter.

. . .

Rush Limbaugh has temporarily flown his coop, off on some side venture, and one of his second-string guest hosts is again failing to entertain by spouting great gushing gouts of attempted copycat conservative drivel. So, no radio at this time is available to accompany my scribblings -- What, oh what am I to do?

. . .

I have heard that Rosetta Stone's total immersion system is quite effective in helping learn a new language. Having once been fairly fluent in Spanish, I am appalled at how much of this ability I have lost from many years of non-use of the language. I can still read written Spanish, laboriously and with the aid of a good Spanish/English dictionary but unfortunately I can no longer easily understand or speak it with any fluency at all. And I would like to re-learn the language.

Something to think about.

. . .

Again a request to become a Facebook Friend of a former classmate has invaded my computer. This request is from a man who will never again be a 'friend' of any kind to me. This I know, and this sure knowledge is due to a shameful act he performed, at my expense, back in the 1960s, one that I still shudder at with extreme loathing when I remember it. Of course, he does not know that I know of his horribly invasive transgression. He thinks I am in the dark as to his crime.

Some things are unforgivable.

As far as I'm concerned.

(time is passing)


Okay, I have calmed down now. But I have nothing more to say at the moment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Commaless Musings And 'ly' Adverbs


Sometimes (more-so now than in earlier years) the serendipitously implanted idea of my being a 'talented' writer appears to me to be nothing more than a persistent fantasy floating on the surface of my consciousness somewhere above that wholly submerged and temporarily preserved myriad of flotsam and jetsam that imaginatively claims to be my unified and biologically human... self.

It is true that I am able to select from an apparently disintegrating plethora of weakly remembered words and arrange them into cohesive sentences and insert these symbolic indicators into seemingly sensible paragraphs that eventually form themselves into a semblance of some sort of sequential and ostensibly substantial story. I have done so too many times within my overly extended span of wasted years.

And one long-harbored and significant suspicion has now become a solid and clear and definite fact.

To me.

I have nothing worthwhile to say.

So . . .

Each of my attempts to construct a substantial poem or a consequential short story is fated to be a futile (empty) effort.

And the dream of my writing an original full-length novel is ludicrous.

Without a valid talent personal failure is assured.


But yet I can still blog. And therein without the interference of editorial fiat I can without guilt eschew unnecessary commas and employ as many ly adverbs as I please.

Right?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Writing . . .


This morning's email contained a suggestion from tink, (Mike Barker) who is the list owner, the head honcho, the venerated and much revered techno-guru of my Writers group. Mike pointed us to the SF Novelists blog and a specific article The Skill List Project by James Alan Gardner.

I read the article and found some things with which I agree and some things with which I disagree. That happens quite often.

Here is one of the questions Mr. Gardner ask: What’s the most important skill for a writer to have or develop?

The most important skill? In my opinion, all writing-related skills are equally important and are best developed, not by reading about how to write but by the basic act of actual day-in and day-out writing, always being aware of and paying strict attention to applying all the skills a writer has acquired from a lifetime of writing.

. . .

I just finished reading How the internet is changing language a BBC article regarding internet-inspired terminology and recently coined words that are unknown to those who are not at all internet savvy. The article is subtitled: 'To Google' has become a universally understood verb and many countries are developing their own internet slang. But is the web changing language and is everyone up to speed?

It's an interesting piece and it's short. So you might want to read it.

Or you might not.

. . .

The Oxford Dictionary of English has added more than 2,000 words to its latest version. Among them are cheeseball, which refers to someone or something lacking taste, style or originality -- and a new word from the Japanese: hikikomori -- which roughly means acute social withdrawal.

Wikipedia states: The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare defines hikikomori as people who refuse to leave their house, and isolate themselves from society in their homes for a period exceeding six months. While the degree of the phenomenon varies on an individual basis, in the most extreme cases, some people remain in isolation for years or even decades.

I'll probably never use either of those word. But then again, I just might.

. . .

While reading a short piece about . . .

Annie Proulx
(author of Brokeback Mountain)

I noticed my eyes squinting and my nose curling up in distaste and bewilderment when I read:

She firmly disagrees with the advice "write what you know." She says it produces "tiresome middle-class novels of people who I think are writing about things they know, but you wish to God they didn't. My thing is, learn what you want to write about. Find out about it."

She said, "I believe if you get the landscape right, the characters will step out of it, and they'll be in the right place. The story will come from the landscape."

What? The 'landscape"?

Now that is something I do not understand. Not at all. And I have tried to understand it. But so far have been unable to do so. I am not disagreeing with this published author; I am merely expressing a sense of personal perplexity.

Landscape?

Hmph!


I try to leave out the parts that people skip.
--Elmore Leonard

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Yet Another Weak End


Saturday, if I remember correctly was, in olden times before my 1991 retirement, a welcome day of freedom, a happy surcease from the workaday routine of mindlessly slogging through seemingly endless hours of forced labor or of circumstance-necessitated torturous toil. Is Saturday still, in this modern era, a day of relief from tension? A day spent openly in much needed rest and relaxation that it once was?

I wonder.

Of course, my thoughts on this matter run deeper than the mere mention appearing in the above opening paragraph. But this is not the proper venue for elaboration. In fact, there is only one form of expression that I know of that is suitable for this potentially embarrassing or possibly hurtful bit of questionable exposition, and that is within a supposedly fictional narrative.

Oh for pity's sake!

I do indeed whine and whimper my coward's way through this temporary term of biological life. A writer? An author? Me?

Hah!

. . .

Yesterday's mail yielded up to me a book I had ordered five days ago from one of Amazon.com's used book vendors, a soft-cover novel that I had purchased online for three dollars plus shipping and handling. The book's title is Going After Cacciato, written by Tim O'Brien and (endorsed?) suggested in passing by my friend Anthony V. Toscano --and thus became a must-read in my own mind.

Since I finished a re-reading of Cormac McCarthy's Child of God last night I will begin my first reading of Going After Cacciato tonight in bed before going to sleep.

. . .

Mike and JoAnn, those two beloved workaholics, are out playing golf, finally relaxing on this beautiful early Saturday morning in Tucson and Eva is sleeping in boneless repose on the carpet in the front parlor so I am alone here in front of my computer terminal with my always roiling thoughts tumbling madly around inside the mysterious something that I choose to call my mind.

Is it apparent to you that I am typing down words as they occur to me without benefit of a censor? A first draft, as it were? That's exactly what I am doing. Believe it or not.

"So what?" you might ask.

Good question.

I have no answer.

None is needed.

(Am I really going to post this piece of drivel?)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Lackluster Writer's Plight


Sadly, I must report than my interest in writing that too-often mentioned but as-yet non-existent novel has flagged once again, and its soul now languishes in that particularly hellish purgatory so well-known to the hordes of overly sensitive failed authors perpetually wallowing in their pitiful self-constructed troughs of apathy, the same unnoticed prelude to hell that is so blithely (sometimes pointedly) ignored by multitudes of non-aware sluggards and slackers inhabiting this mad, mad realm of meaningless biological life.

But, take heart . . .

One can console one's self by repeating the soothing mantra, "Oh well... no matter... five hundred years from now nobody will remember either the failer or the failure."

And that makes it all better.

Right?

. . .

A few days ago I wrote a couple of short pieces that I hesitate to call poems but cannot come up with a more fitting label for them. I submitted them to my Writers Group and was surprised to receive some favorable critiques and some excellent suggestions for improvement. Here (revised to incorporate one of those suggestions) is the first piece.

shades

I did not know
it takes at least
seventy years
to penetrate
dark matter
sultry smoke
to see
in sane simplicity
on this familiar plane
separated by energy
from the darker side

. . .

This morning just before going out for my daily fitness walk I happened upon this comic book (excuse me... graphic novel) professionally composed and entertainingly presented, although with an immediately obvious commercial purpose. And I found it to be both charming and informative, not to mention provocative.

Again, here is the link:

http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Drawn-to-Read/Common-as-Air/ba-p/3167

. . .

Informed by my Web Host that my annual domain registration and my web-hosting fee were both due at the end of this month, I paid them this week even though the hosting free was more than double last year's fee. So now I have vowed to go back and refurbish all the pages on my genechambers.com website.

It certainly needs refurbishing.

Now all I have to do is to come up with a fresh and original idea for transforming it from a ho-hum distant planetoid at the edge of the galaxy into a blazing and spectacular hub of teeming and exciting activity at the center of the universe.

Oh wait . . . I forgot, the universe has neither edges nor a center.

Bad metaphor.

Damn!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Underneath The Western Sky



Last night we had another unexpected visitor. A small tarantula spider was crouched, at just about head-height, on the side of the wood frame of the back door leading out to the swimming pool deck. I did not take a picture of it, and we just came back inside and left it to its own devices. It was gone this morning when I took Eva out to take care of her business.

. . .

The most often used exclamation of displeasure used around the house is, "These pretzels are making me thirsty!" If you don't understand, it might help if you watch this short YouTube video.


. . .

My daily walk down to the Circle-K convenience store (1.7 miles) and back this morning began a bit later than usual and the sun was out and casting down its fierce force of perspiration production -- which means that it was pretty darned hot out there and my clothes were spottily soaked and sodden with sweat when I got back home. According to the TV weather report, the afternoon temperature here in Tucson was 106 degrees and tomorrow it will reach 107 degrees. Oh... and the humidity is high at this time of year.

View of today's deep blue sky above Tucson
8/19/2010

Now, above my computer-desk chair, the ceiling fan, set to medium speed, is spinning around and its cooling breeze feels quite pleasant to me as I sit composing this compilation of disparate doggerel gleaned from a slippery series of random and unrelated thoughts, sitting here in this spacious and comfortable air-conditioned room.


Here is another view of the sky that I am granted to see and enjoy, this shot taken the day before yesterday.

August Sky Above Tucson, AZ
8/17/2010

That's all I have at the moment.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010




I stumbled across a glossary, a useful list of botanical/medical words that could prove useful to a writer.

One word I learned from browsing the list was, for example:

Gleet: A urethral discharge, either of mucus or pus; commonly seen in the chronic form of gonorrheal urethritis.


This word might be a valuable addition to my vocabulary, eventually. One never can tell.

. . .

I recently discovered a delicious snack -- just what a guy with an addictive personality like mine needs.

Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips


In a compostable bag

Mmmmmmmm... Good!

Bet you can't eat just one.

. . .


Yesterday morning while listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio, I read an interesting piece by Tim O'Brien in the Atlantic titled Telling Tales. Here is a brief excerpt:

The problem with unsuccessful stories is usually simple: they are boring, a consequence of the failure of imagination. To vividly imagine and to vividly render extraordinary human events, or sequences of events, is the hard-lifting, heavy-duty, day-by-day, unending labor of a fiction writer.

The link is:
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/08/telling-tails/7533/

This is an informative article by the author of "What They Carried" and could be of much value to anyone who wishes to improve his (or her, of course) chances of writing and publishing fiction.

. . .

Do Christians really believe that God watches over and protects those who believe in him? Think about it. Watch the following short YouTube video, then think some more about it. Just use you head, and simply think about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m12mZiiaWuw&feature=player_embedded

. . .

This morning I read the following rather startling statement: Because Genghis Khan fathered so many children over such a huge expanse of land, a few years ago a team of geneticists did a DNA study and concluded that about 16 million men alive today are descendants of Genghis Khan — about half a percent of the male population.


Genghis Khan



Well. I must say that I find that to be beyond the ken of my belief. What kind of 'study' could produce such a conclusion? Were each one of those 16,000,000 individual men, these descendants, given a personal DNA test? If not, then the results are probably based on what is termed educated guesswork. No, I have little or no faith in such studies.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To Heck With Titles

I managed to retain a few sentences from the mixed bag of pseudo-sensible nonsense that clicked and clacked from my keyboard at various intervals yesterday. Just exactly how long they will remain intact in my 'current' file is questionable, but my avowed intention is to keep (and not delete) the entire contents of this file until selected items can be incorporated into what--for lack of a better name--I have been calling my novel.

Here is one of those sentences:

Of course one man can make a difference; Adolph Hitler made a difference.

Here is another:

Sometimes as a last resort you just have to split yourself into two distinct entities and become both Strong Guy and Weak Guy; Strong Guy constantly reassures Weak Guy that Strong Guy will always watch out for, care for, and sustain Weak Guy.

. . .

Last night on the Writer's Almanac website I read a poem that I really liked, titled:
two nights before my 72nd birthday
by Charles Bukowski

It's the last link on the above marked site's list of his poems.

Maybe the reason that I liked it is because next year my own 72nd birthday will occur.

Maybe.

Another poem on that list -- a place in Philly -- might be of interest to at least one of my readers.

Or not.


Charles Bukowski reportedly said (or wrote). "The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn't interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative."

Imagine that.

. . .

The lyrics of an old song titled Don't Fence Me In have been bouncing in and out of my consciousness for the last couple of weeks. If my memory is correct, this song was the very first one I ever heard, from the very first record, played on the first record player my parents ever owned, back in the early 1940s. Here are those maddeningly-repeating lyrics:

“Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in."

--Cole Porter

Click HERE to hear Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters sing the complete song.

Or, if you prefer, Willy Nelson sings it HERE.

And Ella Fitzgerald sings it HERE.

Additionally, Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars perform it HERE.

I heartily recommend that you listen to all of these, especially those of you who are under 21 years old and not yet overly cynical, and also those older than 50. who have probably progressed beyond the bonds of pompous cynicism.

. . .

You have a great day now... ya' hear?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Morning Blues...

During a noisy thunderstorm last night, the electric power went off, and so we went to bed a little earlier than usual, sometime between 8 and 9 o'clock. When we woke up this morning it was back on... so life was back to normal.

This morning I went out for my customary 3.4 mile walk. When I returned at just before 11:30 I found that once again the power was off. And remained that way until 12:21 P.M. But I didn't let this stop me from having lunch: a plate of mild Cheddar cheese and a couple dozen Keebler Club Crackers, or 'biscuits' as they say in the United Kingdom.

A friend sent me a picture, one that was mischievously titled:

Tragic Effect of Global Warming a.k.a. Climate Change

"Egad!"


Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Nocturnal Visitor

Last night just before sunset we discovered an unwelcome visitor out on the front lawn.


Yes, It Was A Rattlesnake



Another shot of the visitor


'nuff said?



Friday, August 13, 2010

friggatriskaidekaphobia


Here is a link to a Denver Post archive of 70 photos taken from 1939 (the year I was born) through 1943.
America as it really was.
Absolutely awesome . . .


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Still Nothing

I could think of nothing to enter yesterday or today.

Maybe tomorrow . . .

Monday, August 9, 2010

Nothing today

No entry today . . .

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some Notes...

Pulled two drowned squirrels from the water this last week, one from the main pool on Wednesday and one from the filter basket Thursday. Pesky critters. Also several (live) frogs, at least one a day.

Eva decided she wanted to swim, which surprised me, so I attached the long rope to her collar and let her paddle around for three laps. Afterward she wanted to come inside right away, but I dried her off with her towel and then made her stay outside until she was completely dry.

This page is mainly for Eva's owners, that busy, busy pair of workaholics who are roaming around somewhere out there in the world this week.

All's well here . . .

Saturday, August 7, 2010

So It Goes . . .

I woke up at 1:30 this morning and could not get back to sleep. So I read some more from Hannibal.

Then I opened my current.txt file and wrote about two thousand words describing one of the characters in my novel: Micah Malachai (haven't decided on his last name yet) and then, after feeding Eva and taking her out for a short stroll around the pool, I drank a cup of green tea while reading what I had earlier written. It seemed to be an adequate description.

After a late breakfast of an orange, a banana, and a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch I watched Fox and Friends (Saturday Edition) for a short time, wondering if the sexy smiling blond female news-person could possibly wear a shorter yellow dress and shaking my head in disbelief at the laughingly reported antics and monkeyshines being perpetrated on the good conservative citizenry by the everlastingly corrupt political congregation of know-nothing liberals currently in power.

Much later, after digging up a dead shrub and pulling some weeds around the pool, I came back inside and had a chicken sandwich, some chips, and a glass of Pepsi. Then I played some tug-o-war with Eva and eventually returned to the computer and again read what I had written earlier.

It was bland, uninspired, and downright disgusting, and I deleted the entire file.

So it goes . . .

Friday, August 6, 2010

And Habitual Laziness, Perhaps...

The reasons as to why I neglected to write an entry in yesterday's blog are two-fold: first because I simply did not feel adequate to the task of investing the necessary mental effort to compose any profound or even vaguely rational text, and second because I spent the allotted time in a much more pleasant pursuit, that being the continued re-reading and careful examination of the style and craftsmanship (not mere artistry) of Thomas Harris novel: Hannibal.

More about that later . . .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Social Security News Release


SOCIAL SECURITY News Release

(See NOTE at bottom of this page)

Social Security Board of Trustees: Long-Range Financing Outlook Remains Unchanged

The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds and the long-range outlook remains unchanged. The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2037, the same as projected last year. The Trustees also project that program costs will exceed tax revenues in 2010 and 2011, be less than tax revenues in 2012 through 2014, and then permanently exceed tax revenues beginning 2015, one year earlier than estimated in last year’s report. The worsening of the short-range outlook for the Social Security Trust Funds is due in large part to the recent economic downturn.

In the 2010 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

* The projected point at which the combined Trust Funds will be exhausted comes in 2037 – the same as the estimate in last year’s report. At that time, there will be sufficient tax revenue coming in to pay about 78 percent of benefits.

* The projected point at which tax revenues will fall below program costs comes in 2010. Tax revenues will again exceed program costs in 2012 through 2014 before permanently falling below program costs in 2015 -- one year sooner than the estimate in last year’s report.

* The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 1.92 percent of taxable payroll -- 0.08 percentage point smaller than in last year’s report.

* Over the 75-year period, the Trust Funds would require additional revenue equivalent to $5.4 trillion in present value dollars to pay all scheduled benefits.

“The impact of the current economic downturn continues to be felt by the Social Security Trust Funds,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “The fact that the costs for the program will likely exceed tax revenue this year is not a cause for panic but it does send a strong message that it’s time for us to make the tough choices that we know we need to make. I applaud President Obama for his creation of the Deficit Commission so we can start the national discussion needed to ensure that Social Security remains a foundation of economic security for our children and grandchildren.”

Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

* Income including interest to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $807 billion ($667 billion in net contributions, $22 billion from taxation of benefits and $118 billion in interest) in 2009.

* Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $686 billion in 2009.

* The assets of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by about $122 billion in 2009 to a total of $2.5 trillion.

* During 2009, an estimated 156 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.

* Social Security paid benefits of $675 billion in calendar year 2009. There were about 53 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.

* The cost of $6.2 billion to administer the program in 2009 was a very low 0.9 percent of total expenditures.

* The combined Trust Fund assets earned interest at an effective annual rate of 4.9 percent in 2009.

The Board of Trustees is comprised of six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security; Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustee positions are currently vacant. President Obama nominated two individuals to serve as public trustees, and the Senate Finance Committee held hearings on July 29 for both trustee nominees. Their confirmations are pending.

The 2010 Trustees Report will be posted at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2010/ by Thursday afternoon.

Note:
The first sentence of the penultimate paragraph stating "The Board of Trustees is comprised of six members" is incorrect. The term "comprised of" is incorrect grammar.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mostly Photos Today

While walking Eva in last night's early evening hours we spied a hole alongside the path that housed a furry resident... a tarantula. I had my camera in my pocket so I snapped a quick shot, but only caught a couple of the spider's legs. Didn't want to get too close to the hole's entrance because I was told that tarantulas are able to jump pretty high. I'm getting more cautious in my old age.

Legs of a Tarantula hidden in a hole


Then later, after dark, Mike got a picture of another tarantula, this one out on the deck of the swimming pool. I don't yet have a copy of that photo but I will try to post it in an upcoming blog entry.


This morning I again marveled at the subtle gradations of light and color on the Santa Catalina mountain tops to the North. Sadly, I have been unable to capture the feeling of grandeur that I sometimes feel when observing this constantly changing panorama in the early morning hours.

Here are six attempts to do so.
(Click the pic to enlarge it)













More later . . . maybe.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Does The Why Really Matter?

Internet service in this area went down last night just before eight o'clock and is still down at this time (6:30) this morning. So I don't know if I will be able to post this entry or not as soon as I finish writing it. If not, my hordes of disappointed readers will just have to grin and bear it.

This thing of not having a Internet connection doesn't stop me from composing this blog entry, of course. I write, edit, and finalize each day's entry using Notepad, then when I feel it's ready. I copy it and paste it into the new page at blogspot.

No problem, unless the outage continues for an unreasonable length of time.

. . .

Why I blog is the title of a piece I read last night in The Atlantic, and it is an interesting answer to the question I am often asked, "Why do you blog?"

I have given my reasons for blogging more than once and will probably do so again, perhaps each time I am again asked. But you can click the above link if your are at all interested in reading why Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Dish) blogs.

. . .

Photo of a plant that lives on a shelf above the TV


The red (crimson? scarlet?) flowers have just recently sprung forth from the (purple?) flutes (or whatever they're called) and I thought a picture of them might brighten up this page.


Here is a close-up of the tiny flowers

. . .

I read at The Writer's Almanac that yesterday was the birthday of Jerry Garcia guitarist for the Grateful Dead.

Jerry Garcia


Although I was never one of those radical 'Dead Heads' I was (and still am) an enthusiastic fan of the ice cream named after the late Jerry Garcia... namely Ben & Jerry's popular flavor, Cherry Garcia.

"Yum!"

. . .

Yesterday I complained about a tiny grammar error at Science-Based Medicine and after I thought about it I wished that I had not done so. It was merely an innocent typo in which the word 'an' was used when it should have been 'a' -- shame on me. But I revisited the site later and noticed that the mistake has now been corrected.

Someone must have read my blog and reported the mistake.

(Yeah... right!)

. . .

I did not go out for my daily 3.4 mile walk yesterday but I certainly intend to go this morning. Hope I can do so before the daily monsoon rain makes an appearance. The sun is brightly shining out over the mountains at this moment, so it appears that my prospects are good.


My Internet connection is working again now. So I will post this immediately in case it fails again, and go out for that walk.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brief, Mild, And Ho-Hum

After Friday night's drenching rain, I happened to see (yesterday morning) a section of Fort Lowell Road where the Auga Caliente Wash crosses it. And this narrow section was awash with flowing water.

Agua Caliente Wash crossing Fort Lowell Road


While walking past this scene, I was fortunate enough to snap a quick pic of an intrepid driver ignoring the warning signs.

There's one in every crowd



The local TV newscasters frequently warn drivers that as little as six inches of rapidly flowing water can wash a vehicle off the road. Some people will never learn.

. . .

Science-Based Medicine has an article titled Risibility. The Superior Therapeutic Intervention? That seemed to me to be a clever play-on-words type of title (reminiscent of Laughter The Best Medicine) for a serious medical publication and so I decided to read on. Until I was stopped by a grammar mistake in the first sentence.

Which was: "We have a saying in medicine that you can't kill an jerk."

What? -- ...you can't kill 'an' jerk? And I wondered if this was merely an editing typo or if perhaps the writer himself had used 'an' instead of 'a' in the sentence.

Yes, I know that I am nit-picking again, but that's just me and there's no use denying it. After three or four more paragraphs it was bothering me so badly that I gave up on what was probably a quite insightful and entertaining piece, and moved on to the next blog on my list. After all, I am free to select or reject anything I please, for whatever reason, in the privacy of my own computer room. Right? Even if I am 'cutting of my nose to spite my face' -- right?

Right!
. . .

Mike borrowed from the library one of the old Richard Bachman (Stephen King's pseudonym) books titled Blaze -- and since it is one of the few titles that I have not previously read I intend to read it in the near future, perhaps beginning as soon as tonight. I always liked reading Stephen King's stories.

. . .

I read a blog entry titled Stop Following Me and chuckled over the following observation: "The creature that can see with equal clarity from either end is a blind horse."-- and even though this statement was confusing to a certain someone that I repeated it to... I'm still glad that I read it and remembered it.

Why? Who knows?

. . .

My new word for today is puissant
(PWISS-uhnt) Adjective
According to an online dictionary:
puissant is defined as: powerful, mighty, having authority

. . .

Once again I have been notified by a certain reader that my blog entries have lately been too brief, overly mild, and lukewarm to the point of ho-hum... and lacking any useful or entertaining content. All I can say to that provocative comment is:

"Oh yeah?"