Monday, December 28, 2020

 Tencil was a writing app that I was a beta tester for (2016-17 or so). I don't think it was ever released.

The stories tagged "Tencil" here were things I wrote for it. There was no way to actually export these stories for reposting, so  read them aloud and transcribed them. 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/769855941/tencil-share-your-imagination?ref=discovery&term=tencil

It had a very simple idea: you pick or make up a starting sentence and then you got ten minutes to write something based on it. Then you got, I think, 100  characters worth of editing cleanup. After that , you'd tag it and put it in their repository of stories. There was a little comment & rating system.

My writing style is obviously aping Italo Calvino and James Tate and George Saunders. 


Paperwhites

The garden was completely overgrown. Paperwhites, having somehow escaped from the vase in the kitchen, were encouraging the more reluctant potted plants, like the domesticated herbs in the kitchen, to break the chains of domesticity and join their brethren in their true natural environment, free from the dependencies of household living, fraught, as it was, with  the chance of dehydration, or predation from the ravenous feline Minx, and occasional disruptions brought on by the children, who love flowers, and bend and twist them - often with fatal consequences -  into spring garlands, and these forthright vegetable rebels joined the tougher outdoor species - the plantains, the clovers, garlic mustards, and a host of tiny maple saplings. 


Their aim? To cover the garden, to cover the lawn, to cover the neighborhood, to cover the town, to cover the watershed, the natural domain of the vegetable kingdom!
- - - - - -
Overgrown? I thought it said Overthrown!

Yup! Uh-huhn! Ok! After you!

Yup! Uh-huhn! Ok! After you!

I go first, but I think my boot is too loose. I'll just sit here and tighten it for a few minutes. You just go ahead. Go. I'll catch up. Here's some snacks in your backpack in the phone service is working when you get around that curve. These boots were bad purchase. I thought by getting something a little more expensive they'd last longer and look better.

But here it is, April, and they're not broken in, and my old comfortable leaky boots seem better to me every day. I wonder if I can get them back from Branford - he was going to give him to his daughter.  The sky looks bad now, but I think I can fix this boot and catch up and get out of here by 4:30 or so. The view off the ridge is great today. It was like this two years ago before the big snow: the fog rolled in, the world disappeared, around the corner fog was just sitting in the valley.


I think I'm ready. Now, I don't want to slow us down anymore. I'll just deal with the discomfort. Not the best way to end the day, but I'll be fine later. Hey are you there? Wait up! I don't see you. Hey!

I never saw a bird with such a bill.

I've never seen a bird with such a bill. It's not like birds with bills like that are rare, but in this town, where sandpaper is made, the native fowl tend not to have long bills. It comes from their incessant sharpening, which they must use to poke out bugs from trees.


Our bird feeder has little piles of sand that birds drop when they open up their beaks. So why did this bird show up on my fence ? What kind of bird came here? From out of town? Escaped a zoo or hoarding bird collector?  I think I see a tag clamp on her leg. I think the bird's female from her skull. No flamboyant crest or spurs or wattles.


So with my camera I can get a glimpse of what is written on that tag, and then perhaps I can report it to a shelter. Or a sanctuary where they have some records. As I approach, the bird drops off the fence,  and flies off as I vainly tried to capture something that I can't have or even know.

We've done it this way for years.

You don't start with the sugar, you start with the eggs. Although you can mix the dry ingredients first, it really takes no time, and while you're doing it, you can get so distracted watching the oven, it gets pretty close to 270 degrees when you put the batter in and well, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My phone is ringing wait up. Yeah, uh-huh. Okay, you first. See you!


Where was I ? Cinnamon!  You have to scrape a little off the bark and crush it into the sugar. If you have a nutmeg, you also have to scrape it with a nutmeg grinder.


You can put these in last to taste.


Now with the egg white. Oh wait, I forgot  to tell you to separate the eggs and whip up the whites. With the whites, you make it kind of gooey batter adding cornstarch and sesame seeds, although you can use hemp or chia. Now you get the fish out of the fridge and batter it, and roll it in  the crushed corn flakes and a little of the spices and fill up the pan with it and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes.


Perhaps it's done now.  I don't know why it tastes like this -  we've done it this way this way for years.

My decision was based on years of experience.

My decision was based on seconds of experience. I decided to cross the street. These days crossing the street is immediately associated with risk. There is no risk - a street is a wider sidewalk. Vehicles in motion are not a risk, because they cannot move fast enough to be a danger. 


Bad air, though, that's a risk. If you follow a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine, you might get a lung full of exhaust and you will feel exhausted.  I don't think I need to think about this long or do I? Street crossing involves a certain amount of premeditation. I have to think hard and not make a mistake. I have to remember the goal and not be distracted.


This decision is now taking minutes to make. I try to recall previous cross street trips. There was that one about a month ago. That was very pleasant. So was the return trip.  I chalk it up to remembering to bring enough food and to charge my phone. It was warm when I started, with a hint of rain. 

 

But earlier, I remember I had some trouble. I couldn't remember what direction to walk and started up the road instead of crossing it.


I turned my head to the side when watching for vehicles, but because I didn't want to breathe the exhaust, I was tired when I arrived and took a few days to recover.  In fact, I needed to renew my Visa.  That comes of experience - years of it.

The difficulty lies in getting past the doorman.

The difficulty lies in getting past the doorman.  

Kafka had a rather well-known short parable and tired entitled "Vor dem Gesetz", about a guy who spends his whole life trying to get through a door blocked by a bureaucratic and frustrating doorman who whispered in his ear at the moment of his death,  "This door was meant for you alone."


I have a doorman like that. No amount of Christmas tipping will convince him that the purpose of a doorman is in fact to maintain the door, open it, and close it. I fed him, I've given him jewels, expose myself seductively to him, I have paid his medical bills. I have even hired a doorman for him. And a doorman for that doorman too. 


The landlord is thinking of adding another door. If that happens, I may have to move, but it would involve going out of the door.  


My neighbor in 8F has no problem getting around town. I asked him what his secret was, but he looked at me as if I were asking a personal question. 8F must have some connections I lack, for he figured out how to get the window grate off, which is too difficult for me.


I mean, if you think the government is bad, the super is worse. If you want to get the super to do something, you need to fill out a work order slip and leave it on his cork board, and the cork board is already filled with work orders. At least I'm withholding my rent. Maybe that's why I got such lousy service.

We've done it this way for years.

It's 8:34 a.m. , and it's time to feed the turtles. Every day, I pick up a coin and flip it to see if they get Turtle Chow, getting stale in a big bag that I bought when there were more of them, or some fresh food: the day's remains from the bug zapper.  Food in hand, they approached me.


I hot glued LEDs on their shells, so it's quite a display at night.  Alf is easy to recognize by his trot. There's a little skittle in his left hind leg, due to an accident that took place hundred and thirteen years ago. Dr. Penrose documented it - an earthquake had collapsed a wall on him! He was lucky only his leg was fractured a little. No other Turtles feel like coming out of the water. They are sitting in a row ignoring me, and so it continues. Turtle feeding is a ritual passed down from my predecessors. It's really all I know how to do. 

The basement had a mind of its own.

The basement had a mind of its own, so did the conservatory and the vestibule. The attic was a lot more conformist - you would never guess that!  The front hall closet choked with winter coats in the summer is too satisfied to put up a fight.

First floor bathroom was also very satisfied with its new tiling job, so it was going to vote for the incumbent.  So all the political action was coming from the basement, this field kitchen, with some cooperation from the bedrooms, with me vacuuming badly, and didn't have a dog in this fight.


The primary vote was coming, and the curtains refused to be drawn. It was a simple but effective gesture of protest. All through the night, the toilet gurgled and the garbage disposal in the kitchen spontaneously would grind.

In the silver morning after the election we stumbled downstairs to pick up the pieces. It's no wonder things never improve around here. There are too many entrenched factions, no compromise, and voter apathy is no longer frowned upon. We have a lot of work to do to get the house in order.

She was like a ghost chili.

She was like a ghost chili.


That is to say from the sound of it, she would be spectral, damp, aloof and chilly, but in fact she was more of a fiery personality, one that required great mouthfuls of rice to subdue and vanquish. So, I would never go over to her place without a crock pot full of rice.


It was that one time she was out in the garden, withering the weeds, when I saw a neighbor's cat approaching her, or something behind her, and she reached over to grab an oxalis. The cat proffered a fully armed claw at her hand and glanced it. When the animal pulled it back to lick it,  its ears shot back, its fur erected, and it shot off into the woods with an understandably pitiful caterwaul. Her very blood was thick with capsaicin.


Yet, there was much to recommend her. At a school board meeting, it was difficult to oppose her motions. There's an annual contest of badminton, and she was a very safe bet.  And like a pepper, she was most spicy in her seeds, in this case her progeny and her thoughts.

I've never ridden a horse until today.

 I've never ridden a horse until today. 

 I first picked out a stable that I could entrust with my first horse ride.  The lonely pasture is about 30 miles from my house, but with a combination of public transit and hitchhiking I made over there. They were a little surprised. I had not made a reservation at all, I just showed up and laid down in the stable. I took in the smell of hay, leather, and road apples. Strands of mane were scattered about.  Old magazine articles and prizes were under glass on the opposite wall. Tack was hanging on hooks.  After about 2 hours, a thin, helmeted woman came in. She had keys, and knew how to use them. After taking a short phone call, she unlocked the gate and let a tired brown mare out.  Currying brushes were taken off the. shelf, and I watched her work over the mare's hide until the bits of straw, dust, and insects were cleaned off.  


Up until this point, she had been ignoring me.  I made a few croaking noises as I do when I haven't spoken for a while.

She gave resigned look. She looked away thinking. She turned her gaze back.  With one hand she lifted me and placed me on the mare's back. The steed took a single step. Then she removed me. I took off out the door and hitched back.

If you have to ask that, I don't want to tell you.

Okay, three guesses, but first my drum is broken. Nurse!

Your drum is not broken.

It is, it's broken. Listen to that! You call that a bump? That's a  plump, a clump! I can't play a drum like this!
The drum is not broken. It sounds fine.
Wrong! I'm going to call over Sylvia. She knows.
Sylvia isn't here today and the drum is fine. 

Where's Sylvia?

Today's her day off, remember? She's in Atlanta.

What's in Atlanta? 

She went to pick up some peaches. 

That's not what she told me. She said there was somebody there. 

I don't know about that. I only know about the peaches. 

Suit yourself, but the drum is busted. I can't play this drum. 

You can, here. Listen. Give me that other stick.
What are you doing?
Here, listen to this paradiddle. 

Ba-da ba-da ba-da ba-da.

Do that again!
Ba-da ba-da ba-da ba-da. 
You must have fixed it. It sounds fine now.
I did not, it wasn't broken the first place.
Well, thanks for fixing it anyway! 

Don't mention it.

I had not climbed a tree in years.


 I had not climbed a tree in years, but it was part of one of those insane company bonding games that Wendy, the expensive team-building consultant, was putting us through in this morning seminar. The idea is that to climb a tree looks like the job of a rugged individual, but in fact involves team work, especially if the climber in question abhors being arboreal. 

Nevertheless, I had to go up there, and I was dressed in office casual, but was not interested in just trying the obvious, so I swapped to my commuter shoes, and up I went. It was not too difficult. After all, I was raised in the rainforest spearing howler monkeys from neighboring trees myself until I was 11. Then they cut down the forest and sent me to Catholic school where we girls got reprimanded and the boys got molested. That was a real team building exercise, I'm telling you.


So here I am in the tree and Charles starts making monkey noises. That's pretty offensive! When I wasn't eating them, they were my best friends!


So Wendy was trying to calm down the situation and turn it into a learning experience. It was not a big help that others were stuck and were having difficulty with their trees. I just kept climbing.  "Go on, you little brown monkey!" taunted Charles. He's an important middle manager, and clearly proof of the Peter Principle.


What was that sound?

It was the quietest sound I have ever perceived. It can only have been heard in the pause between sentences, between paragraphs, and not aloud at all. It was a sound between the words of the voice in your head reading these sentences. In order to hear it, you have to both listen and not listen to make a space between the chatter of reading and thinking and to recognize it, fish and water style.

The very faintness of it makes you wonder, "what is making the quietest sound ever heard? Can even be sure it is even sound at all? How do you know you're hearing and not just thinking?"  


Thinking. It's often imagined as a single stream of speech or sound. But how can that be? Thoughts do not arise serially, so the voice in your head is editing your thoughts so that other parts of the brain, parts used to language, can respond to it.


Meanwhile the Unspeakable and Unspoken thoughts clamor silently to be expressed. They cry to be realized in articulate speech in the silences between already expressed thoughts.  


Dedicated to my friend Dr. Pauline Oliveros. Author's Note: I have tinnitus, a constant tone at about 10,600 Hz, and can't hear silence anymore.

The news anchor was not concerned about the news.

At this point, there was so little news that could be credibly reported that the whole idea of actually pronouncing the words on the nearly blank teleprompters seems pointless.  In fact, even the usual anchor habit of teasing some upcoming story was not in the cards today.


So she sat in front of the camera and caught up on her Twitter feed. This was fine because it was, in fact,  what her audience was doing.  It would be 4 long minutes before the commercial break and the weather. In the control Booth, the director looked up from his Twitter feed to see that she was similarly engaged. He checked in for about 30 seconds, but decided to perhaps it was time to haul anchor.


Placing the spars in the capstan, the director and the A.D. set to work, singing this chant as the chain tightened around her ankles and lifted her out of her chair:


We work all day for our meager pay 

Heave away, haul away!
We tweet and retweet as we LOL away!
LOL away, LOL away. 

But tags are hashed and our checks are cashed. 

Man the post, me mateys!


As she rose into the flies, the lighting and the cameras following her up,  a new recruit was selected from steerage.

Bears have trouble with straws.

 Bears have trouble with straws. 

 Hares have trouble with bras.

 Snares have trouble with draws.

 Chairs have trouble with claws.

 Lairs have trouble with flaws.

 Mayor's have trouble with saws.

 Fairs have trouble with Awes.
 Tears have trouble with jaws.
 Tears have trouble with laws.
 Pears have trouble with paws.

 Hairs have trouble with drawers.

 Wares is have trouble with craws.

 Queers have trouble with cause.
 Heirs is have trouble with gnaws.
 Flares have trouble with yaws.
 Dares have trouble with pause.

Reassign the subjects and objects of these phrases, so they make more sense. You have 10 minutes and this will count for ten percent of the test.

The air in here seems strange.

I can't really breathe. The way toward the door is locked, and my feet don't want to move from where they were planted. In fact I don't even know if I have feet. Maybe I should take a look.  But breathing is important. I think I learned that in school. It has something to do with the diaphragm: moving it in and out.


I think I remember an experiment.  I think there's a way to do this that is actually breathing.  


There seems to be a tube stuck in my arm. Maybe there's a way to breathe through this tube!
I see - it's not really turned on, it's not really connected to anything. Let's see what else is in the room.


I think I remember breathing.


There have been times when I have breathed. In fact, I actually had friends who knew how.  It's been a long time, but I think I remember having problems. For example, coughing. I think that's similar to sneezing. Nevertheless, coughing is something like breathing.  Coughing - yes - and laughing! Guffawing in fact! I remember someone mentioning "Laughing out loud."


I don't know what that means. Maybe you can laugh "in soft" also? What possibilities. 


 I'm starting to get uncomfortable. I guess it has to do with my not breathing. How long have I been holding my breath?  And when was the last time I could whistle? If I try hard, I bet I could stub my toe. Then, I would inhale violently, and that would be the start of breathing.


And then with the taste of air on my tongue, I could remember what it felt like to breathe, and then I wouldn't think the air in here was something strange.

I should have known.

I should have known from the smell of it. I should have known by the taste of it. It had gone bad, very, very bad. I'm told that the sacrifices that have sat around too long before being offered are not likely to be accepted by the gods, and I was really behind on sacrificing, and  face it, nobody in this town will hire me if I don't go through the proper rituals.

Year after year of seasonal ritual has done nothing toward raising my standard of living. Housing is still expensive, and servants must be fed and we are one drought away from ruin. My debtors are stiffing me.


Yet, the prevailing narrative is "Appease the gods, damp their internecine rivalries, let them turn their attention to us who live in the world they control," but nothing seems to raise their consciousness! Should a god or goddess feel the urge to abduct a mortal and breed demigods, that seems the only time we mortals can influence fate. So it boils down to how seductive you can be to them and how good the sacrifice is. Sacrifice your dignity - which smells bad.

The odds of all of this coming back were small.

But I decided that anyway, here we were on our way to Cleveland when the Suburban got a flat tire. Walking out to inspect the damage, I saw it was worse than a flat tire. We'd run over some dice - the sharp kind. They were stuck deep in the tread, so I got out a lottery card, scratched it, lost, and then tried to use it to pry out the dice.

They were crusty with asphalt and gravel. I looked up and sure enough, there was a Grove of dice trees right by the highway. There ought to be a law! Oh wait, there was a law until two years ago, when I repealed it because of some persuasive convincing by the dice growers lobby. So I'm stuck here, with an SUV full of poker players, and I can't bluff off my way out of a situation.


I was wondering where the spare tire could be hiding. I opened up the door and the Gang were using it to prop up their steel poker table. Large piles of magnetically stabilized chips were stuck to the table. A smoke machine provided the atmosphere forbidden by health regulations.  I was hoping I can entice some players - the losers -  to come out and help change the tire.


But there wasn't much point to it. So I look for the roulette wheel and use that instead. What were the odds that would happen?

Thoughts?

Thoughts? Not one moment goes by when you're not thinking "thoughts," as you put it, "thinking". It's not "thinking" you're doing, your brain is bubbling with indigestion. How do I know? I don't have to be a mind reader. Wouldn't work in your case anyway, I can hear the gurgling, even though my hearing is not what it was.


So let's talk about these so-called "thoughts." First of all, are you positive that you understand some kind of "language."  It's clear that you know nothing of the kind. Noises tumble from your open maw, but I wouldn't call that "language." You can hardly even get breathing right.


It's all because you're nothing like me.


I have two eyes. You may also have two eyes, I just can't see them too well, but I can smell you. I smell tobacco. I know tobacco. I've been smoking for 45 years. Honestly, it's all I can smell. So this is why I'm an expert.  I think you may also be able to sweat, but I always take care to wear gloves in case I get a splinter. You can't be too careful these days.

So, enough about this "thinking" as you claim to do. My evidence is solid against it.

Why does this red wine look green?

The answer is a simple application of physics.  It's approaching at a rate fast enough so that the Doppler shift has turned the red wine to Green. Either that or some other color, and it's receding fast enough to become another red. Because we are observing the wine with the rather antique but still impressive 200-inch lens at Mount Palomar, we can take a few ancillary measurements and see what they can tell us.

For instance, we can compare the size and color of the wine is it was on April 7 1972 to see if it's approaching or receding. Other records may reveal if it is accelerating or under the influence of other celestial bodies.

 I read once it was considered  inadvisable to pour the contents of a red wine bottle in the presence of a black hole As the molecules in the liquid compress, It goes through an unwanted phase change, ruining its distinctive nose. Since then, wine is reduced to a fluid of electrons . It's not much use in making a sauce or providing refreshment. It's probably best to keep the wine moving at a relatively congruent velocity for purposes of consumption.

I couldn't help but notice each stair had a different rise.

It was actually quite obvious, because mounting a staircase is like a dance. There is a rhythm reenforced by the spacing of the risers which results in the pacing of the ascent and descent. So should a rise's metrics act inconsistently, a step literally results in mis-step.

As I write this I'm accelerating toward one of those oddly paced steps. I have reached for the banister. I've slid betwixt the balusters. I twist, I tumble, but I have technically not fallen yet.

My toes are pointed downward. My nose is arcing skyward, my arms unfurl my coat like membranes of a flying squirrel. And then: the finial, heavy and oaken, was loosed from its newell. It was roughly the size of my head. In fact, it was making an attempt to replace my head.  

I think I will just rest here a while and think a little. Just rest. Like treading water only treading treads.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Innumeracy, continued.

Here's a reminder of what one million is.

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 


Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, 

Thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand,  thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand.


If it takes 6 seconds for you to say each line (reasonable), that's 10 minutes just for you to say what a million is in thousands. 

It's the same amount of time with millions for a billion. Millions.

If you were still reading it in thousands, that's 16 2/3 hours.

=====

America is not the richest country in the world, it a poor and struggling country with a few 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 


very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, 

very, very, very, very, very,  very, very, very, very, very, rich people.



 


Monday, April 20, 2020

Found among things, probably from 1994 or so:

After
Being
Carried
Down
Eight
Flights,
Groggy,
Hair
In
Jumble,
Katherine
Looked
Menacingly
Near
Our
Poodle,
Quietly
Retreating,
Seeing
Things
Undone,
Very
Well -
Xerox
Your
Zodiac!

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Paragraphical preface

The thirty or so recent posts in here were written as a paragraph-a-day writing exercise in September 2019. Sometimes, there were more paragraphs than one in a day!

Thanks to Prof. Teresa Senft! http://www.terrisenft.net/119-2/

Miami

I recently read a listicle article about best places to retire, and the top choice was Miami and Florida in general. This article seems to ignore the fact that Miami and Florida in general is going to be one of the hardest places to live in coming years. Its not just that it's in the direct path of more frequent, slow moving hurricanes, but these storms don't even have to make landfall to cause tremendous damage, damage that will not be able to be repaired before the next hurricane. The earth itself is porous, and higher amounts of water, both from the ocean and the rains, work to undermine the strength of these ground itself. Similar, earlier disasters in the Caribbean will force emigration to Florida as the logical place to go for those displaced people. 

Social services will be strained. Retirees expecting a comfortable,  improving economy will instead find an exasperated municipality dealing with infrastructure failure and social upheaval.

Foam

A bubble is a visualization of the tension of the difference between the air pressure inside it and the air pressure outside it. It's in an uneasy balance. The wobble and shimmer of a bubble  demonstrates the equalization of the forces. The bubble skin thins out unequally as well, making ephemeral lenses that bend light into swaths of color.  After some time, the bubble stabilizes. Heating it slightly will make the bubble float, as the density of the air inside it is less than that outside it. And so the bubble floats off. The action of movement disrupts the equilibrium, sending ripples of air currents internal to the bubble which need to be stabilized again. The skin defines the bubble, but also visualizes the struggle of forces both internal and external. When two or bubbles collide, the equation changes, and a flat surface appears between them as they merge, which is bent toward the bubble with the lower internal pressure. The act of merging sets off another chain of wobbly motion. Clusters of conjoined bubbles form a foam, which as a byproduct of the forces previously mentioned, and builds a highly resilient structure where all the forces strive toward balance. It is said that the structure of the universe, the placement of galaxies, is that of a foam. This would be the side effect of simultaneous gravitational forces acting as air pressure does. 

Building a school

It's the day before the first day of school, so it's a good thing I closed on the property yesterday. I walked out this morning at 5:30 and started building it. Digging the foundation took unto 9:00. I poured concrete and framed the first floor by 10:00. Next I set the central rafter and roughed out the roof. I took a half-hour break at noon for lunch. Then, feeling rain in the air, I finished up the roof. Back on the ground at 2:30, I wrapped the sides and brought in the window casements. With a little bit of protection, I went in and installed the plumbing and electrical wiring. By 4:00, I was done with the doors and and had almost finished the shingle siding. At 5:00, I started paving the driveway so the truck with the desks and books could get in at 5:15. I power washed the whole place and  was done at 6:30. Students and teachers should start coming tomorrow at 8:30.

How to force laughter

I remember learning how to force a laugh. The first part of that lesson is to determine when a forced laugh is appropriate. It's something you can actually practice by yourself. If you see something during your day that seems a little funny, but not really, you can vocalize an exasperated nose snort into a nasalized "hmpf."  Start doing this often. Soon, you'll be opening your mouth a little, and trilling your vocal chords, working up the a cautious laugh, the progenitor of the fake laugh. 
With this technique firmly established, you now need to take it into the public sphere. The best place is away from friends, because strangers often need to be laughed with.  You will note that many of these strangers will themselves be fake laughing around what is known in social media as "an influencer".  An influencer can laugh about anything, usually, animals' or other peoples' misfortunes. They especially enjoy a laugh when they are the witting cause of this misfortune. So as you see, a fake laugh is easy to practice as a complement to an evil laugh. As you express your fake assent for the miserable state of the world, you can at least enjoy a drink or two for a few hours. I know I did.

Where is my food?

Every once in a while, I undergo a ritual I name "Voyage to the Bottom of the Fridge". This cooled pantry device is nearly unorganizable, and having a vague memory of an item placed therein turns into a treasure hunt. Last month, I knew there was a leftover eggplant that I had put in there the week before. After my unsuccessful search, and the purging of other foods way past their sell-by dates -  now food for microbes -  I gave up in my search, and subsequent to doing so, I bonked my head on the freezer door, which I had left open in an ancillary search operation. Blood was drawn, pain incurred. I hied to the emergency room, and after only a few hours of waiting, had the wound repaired with some dissolving stitches.  And that's where my story truly begins.



The stitches did their job well enough, and after about a week, they stopped itching. The area around them was still tender, which is what I expected.  Soft, like an inflatable pool toy. I thought little of it, but a week later, the stitches were as tight as ever, while the area near them was much softer, and flexible like a fontanelle. The plates of my skull were softening and separating. It was getting hard to keep my eyes open, and the skin started getting smooth and saggy. Still, with a hat on, I could go through the actions of the day. This morning, though, I had crossed a threshold. The hat now squeezed my head into something of a peanut shape, and it was clear it was not the stitches that were dissolving, but my skull. It's a little grotesque. I hope my face still matches my driver's license. 

Hermas

As a kid, I grew up in a small city sacred to the god Hermes. The major industries there were tourism, messaging, health care, sports equipment, and a suitcase factory. Scattered around town were a number of hermas, which were just part of our landscape. Once in a while, we'd remember to place a sacrifice by them, usually something simple like fresh cut wild flowers or some baseball cards, or a plastic, candy filled caduceus from a nearby bodega.  Each herma was sculpted by a different artist, and they were erected and maintained over a series of hundreds of years. We got familiar with them, assigning each an epithet, like "Hermes, speedy trickster", "Hermes the Border Guard", "Hermes,  3 and 2 in the 7th inning", and so on, based on the style and facial expression each displayed. Over time, many of their erect phalluses had been broken off, and sometimes there was an offering of dildos at their bases. Their noses also suffered, especially during Christian administrations, so some were given nose jobs with pug noses. The hermas are still there today, protected in tiny local historic districts, so, for instance, when the Mall was built, some of them were emasculated and incorporated into its walls as atlantes. Having so many iconic phalluses in daily consciousness made our town a little more "dress casual" or "dress optional" than neighboring towns. Since we were a seaside resort as well, this helped immensely with tourism. Hermas figure prominently in local industry branding, and every fourth day of the month, we'd have a little fest where we'd dress up as Hermes or a herma and hang out in the town square gazebo. There are a few other towns this devoted to their patron god or goddess (Apollo in Delphi comes to mind), but none quite so charming as ours.

Reweaving

Yesterday's clothing typically gets unwoven at night, cleaned, and rewoven by morning. This is because modern clothing is created out of a few continuous carbon fibers. Carbon fibers are immensely strong, light, and flexible. The fabric created by weaving it can have different properties of lightness, stiffness, air and water permeability, continuously variable within the same garment. Coloring it can be done by manipulating nano scale microgrooves, the same way butterfly wings are colored. Some clothing companies have agreed to international standards, allowing interoperability between home reweaving machines optimized for particular garments from different manufacturers. This technology allows for perfectly fitting clothing for different purposes: layered, quilted clothing for the winter, loose and light clothing for the summer. People's bodies change every day and freshly woven clothes insure a perfect fit every time. Design elements not previously possible, for instance, feather-like textures, micro pleating, air-filled pockets for cushioning, are new kinds of fashion vocabulary that can now be exploited.  

Leather

I like leathercraft. You prepare the piece of skin and lightly sketch in the design. With specialized knives, you carve the skin into calligraphic lines and geometric shapes. You can then color it with dyes and further accessorize it with grommets and brads. You can join pieces of leather with strong thread or long laces of leather itself. Skin is surprisingly strong and flexible. It's naturally stiff after the host animal has died. Inuit women spend days chewing on reindeer and seal skins to soften them enough to be used for clothing, shoes,  and kayaks. It's something that we do by machine now: giant steel jaws equipped with salivary glands emitting tanning fluids massage the skins of recently living ungulates. Some of these machines are integrated in the slaughterhouses directly: Cattle in this end, hamburger, gelatin, horn products and leather out the other end. 

Alarmed

I'm just going to sit here and find out how long I can listen to the phone buzz and ring without looking at it. Message alarms are now filling my life. A single text rings on four devices in my proximity, and were It set up, it would flash the lights and vibrate my chair. One of my phones is now dedicated to receiving calls from script reading agents in a call center, so that one is definitely not getting answered. The phone's message center is filled with expired one-time codes. 

My doorbell is idle. I hear the insistent buzz and bump of a wasp at the window, perplexed by the glass preventing her from escaping the room. And on the stove, a tea kettle has reached whistling temperature. The smoke detector is more of a toast detector, and thank goodness, I've not heard from the geiger counter lately. My radio regularly burps a tattoo representing an emergency signal. Outside, whoops of an EMS truck shift in accordance to the Doppler effect. And beneath it all, the cicadas, in synch and out of synch in the August night air. 

Charm

A goldfinch just flew by, followed closely by another goldfinch. Following those goldfinches are three more goldfinches. They fly swiftly, and seem to bounce off the field grasses like flying fish. They are headed for a small tree, where they  evidently are nesting. From the eastern corner of the field, eight more goldfinches are approaching. I would say there's enough collected in that tree now to call them a "charm." Wherever a charm congregates, there is sure to be a lot of chattering and flashes of gold. Their late-hatching fledgelings just add to the charm. They perch and circle, making a living mist. In the neighboring trees, other charms are now gathering. Approaching the equinox, the birds are stocking up on seeds, building strength, and training for their migration south. 

The Story of the Earth

All our concerns disappear just a few hundred feet below the surface of the earth. The variety of life, the interactions of wind, earth, and water, glorious rainforests, continents of ice, burned desert soil, all are confined to a tiny skin atop the 4000 mile deep depth of the earth. Today, we venture below the surface, deeper than the wells and experimental Mohorovičić discontinuity explorations, to get to the mantle, where the Earth is molten. In the unimaginably deep sea of liquid rock, the petty concerns of nations, rainforests, and glaciers  burn off and are dispersed in to the underlying flow. There they push against the surface, breaking though rarely, but pushing the continents around like the skin on boiled milk. The surface, even the atmosphere, complex as it is,  is not the story of the Earth. 

What is probability?

This morning, when I did my coin flipping, I got 49 heads and one edge. While this is not impossible, it's very improbable. There's always a struggle to interpret the fall of the coins accurately. So many decisions. The edge flip was particularly disturbing, in that it rolled for quite a while before stopping, neither falling to the head or to the tail. Usually, in unusual situations like this, the explanation is simple: obviously the coin isn't fair, or something is amiss with the surface it's being flipped onto, or the flipping process itself is biased, like a pitcher choosing what kind of fastball to throw. Moreover, there's an implicit trust in the laws of probability - is there a way they could have been suspended? Can we be sure the head and tail side of the coin remained so between the flip and the fall? Was I misreading the side it fell on when I recorded the state of the flip, adding a consciousness of Heisenbergian uncertainty in the measuring process? 49  heads - what if I had kept going ? Would tails have come up or were they impossible? Or were they replaced with another head - magic shops sell two-headed coins after all. This isn't one of them, I checked. I'll check again. 

Tree climbing class

Today's tree climb is going to be exceptionally difficult. We've covered basic aspects or arboreal assessment and hugging techniques, but this particular assignment has an unique twist. In my hand is a maple seed. Today we are going to plant that seed and wait for the tree to grow to its full height before scaling it. This way, we'll be able to experience the progression of its life, see its context in the soil and companion plants, fungi, and animals that  contribute to that growth. Today's lesson is patience. We'll do the best we can, as we're only assigned an 80-year slot for this class, but there is a lot to learn and see. Three essays will account for 75% of your grade, and a successful ascent and descent at the end of the term will count as the final quarter. 

Change of Seasons

 I turned on the tap this morning and was greeted with a coughing stream of brown and rust specked water. "Ahh!" I thought "Fall is approaching!" It's that exciting time of the year when change overtakes the environment. Grasses burst and brown, leaves take on color and drop with the first cold night. And it's also the time when my pipes shed their summer linings and prepare for the winter. It may take a few hours for the water to run clear again, but it brings to mind the season of hibernation and rebirth. Swarms of ladybugs will appear soon, replacing the cicadas of summer. All leading to the day when winter will truly begin, the first spurts of air from my bleeding radiator. 

Life documents

Nobody's life had ever been so completely documented: A sheaf of legal documents and contracts at the fertility clinic, receipts from the day of insemination and follow up visits, video leading up to and upon the day of birth, a vial containing the umbilical stump and some vernix, a lock of natal hair, blood, colostrum-laced sputum, the birth certificate with its footprint, the hospital-issued striped baby blanket, videos and diaries of a few days of recovery, continuous monitoring during breast feeding and diaper changing, sleep monitors recordings, notes from doctors and followup midwife visits. One week, so far. So much time to go!

Shoe boiling

Do you boil your shoes every morning to get the bugs out? You probably shouldn't! This is an old wives' tale from 17th century Italy. Shoes back then were much more edible, unlike the steel and plastic shoes of today. Boiling them made them softer in the morning, and helped them break in. Unlike today, when people change shoes every hour, those unfortunates had to wear them all day. Imaging wearing your 11 o'clock shoes at tea time! Boiling your shoes is an unnecessary time waster in today's world. Besides, many of us have figured out that a microwave does the job faster. 

ESP test

First, make sure there is plenty of room available, then tie a string to a beam or pipe up near the ceiling. About six inches from the floor, tie a weight, like a coffee mug, to the string and cut it off so it just hangs there. The mug should not be moving at all. Concentrate on the mug. The nature of a pendulum is that small movements will phase correlate and work to increase the amplitude of the swing. If there's anything to this "telekinesis", this simple device will pick it up. Just keep concentrating, observing closely. Is that a little movement? Does it work better when you get closer? What about if you think of different ways for it to move, like twisting? Have you compensated for crosswinds, the shaking of the building from passing trucks,  and other environmental sources of movement? Is it swinging now? How about now? Nothing? Maybe reading this paragraph is keeping it from working.

Molar

I'm here to complain about my dentist. Last week I had a little twinge in the back of my mouth, so I thought I'd better take care of it. I booked an emergency visit to Dr. Frost, who is usually really hard to get an appointment with, so I was surprised to find there was one open right that afternoon. I went in on Tuesday, and he saw me right away and told me I had to get a molar out. "Fine," I thought. So he went into the next room and came back with two hygienists as assistance. "Hey where's Ruth?" I asked. "Ruth left in May," he said. "I'm Sally Ann" said the one on the right. The one on the left didn't introduce herself. She didn't even have a name pin on.  All this time, I was wondering where the other patients were. He gave me a shot and talked about golf for about five minutes because, as you know, last week was the PGA. He got out his tools and the unnamed hygienist held me down as he grabbed onto something inside my mouth. He pulled. It was not forthcoming. Ruth grabbed onto my head and held it back while Dr. Frost yanked away. I felt a loosening. He pulled some more and I saw the pliers come out of my mouth, but in its jaws was a small, beating bloody blob. It looked like a tadpole. It squirmed and wriggled and wrapped itself around the jaw of the pliers. Dr. Frost handed the pliers to the unnamed hygienist who actually had a jar ready for it. He took out a sprayer and rinsed out my mouth. "All done," he said. "What about my molar?" I asked. "It's fine. This little guy", he shook the glass jar, "ate it."  So, I'm wondering if this is legal, and what's going on in that office. Also, if this is covered by my dental insurance.

The Thing with Feathering

Let's go for a paddle in a canoe. The canoe is placed in the water, and you pick up the paddle, and steady yourself as you sit down. A canoe in the water weighs less than the water it displaces, and a canoe with a person in it still weighs less than the water it displaces. Nevertheless, it's a good idea not to stand in a canoe. Once comfortably settled into the canoe, perhaps sitting on a rush woven seat, you can push off from the shore with the paddle. This will send you forward in an uncertain direction. This is the time to start paddling.

 A paddle is an excellent piece of technology. It's designed to cut into the water easily in two directions, but be more or less stagnant in the other orientation. It actually is negotiating two liquids: water and air. The alteration between the ease of its movement and the stability used to add energy is the same in air and water. But paddling in air - which is what wings do, is not as effective as paddling in water. Furthermore, the air provides not a little resistance to the strokes in it as one seeks to reposition the paddle for another pull in the water. Therefore, on exiting the water, a paddle is quickly turned, a move called feathering, so that it may glide unencumbered through the air and then be turned as it enters the water again. It's much more efficient to turn the paddle than it is to overcome the air resistance.

Feathering as a philosophy is something you can apply to life: resisting in situations where you need the power and gliding transparently where you need to pass through it in order to get back into the powered mode. 

Sea Vegetable Fantasy

Sea Vegetable Fuels have just enough energy to power a small car for medium ranges. Typically, processed Sea Vegetable Fuels are delivered dried and whole and pulverized at the filling station. Sea Vegetable Fuels then use a system of hydration to keep them in a near liquid state. Although its's a plentiful and sustainable source of energy, it does tend to cost more further from where its harvested, because wildcat operations can undercut the retail price, set by the S. V. Fuel Board.  People's main complaints are that it's fragile and gooey, and dries out too quickly, making it hard to clean in a spill.  When the hydrator runs out of water, you can wait for rain or you can illegally siphon some from neighboring cars. 

The good thing is that people can grow their own fuel, if they are coastal. The bad thing is that the coast is moving. Rising coastlines are changing the ecosystem for these important fuels, creating new sets of "winners" and "losers" among Sea Vegetable harvesting and processing companies. Experts predict that without consolidation, by 1986, the Sea Vegetable Fuels industry will be in disarray, with consequent chaos on the Stock Market. 

Automatic writing about ideas about artificial thought

Human thought is carried out by associating elements of reality to corresponding parts of narratives. When people, things and actions are plugged in, the narrative provides a predictive model that asserts its premises as certainly as a syllogism. This is an act of faith: the binding of elements of reality to a story with a definite arc. There is no reason for that narrative to be grounded in reality or to be provable by logic, although many are. The selection of a narrative itself is result of more basic identifications in more abstract narratives. The establishment of a core set of narratives to identify with provides the core of personality, that is, how an intelligence frames reality that results in behaviors. Thought proceeds via metaphor.


Steering from one framing narrative to another is the point of influence and education. Narrative choices can easily complement or oppose each other, and be reevaluated while acting on them. Professing loyalty to a certain group of narratives allows others to predict your behavioral choices. Scientific narratives can be verified by independent measurement narratives which have implicit context. They get refined as that context is recognized. The same is true of more fragile, faith based narratives. There is an active ecosystem of competing ideas that are applied to  frame reality. Like any evolutionary system, the ideas complement and fit with other ideas, they mate and predate upon each other, and while they rely on external components of reality, surviving with random associative elements is also a possibility. 

Gummed

Chewing gum was originally a local treat made from chicle. It sated the oral fixations of indigenous Central American workers for centuries. It was adopted and adapted by North American candy makers , augmenting it with more sugar and flavorings, and occasional collectable cards, comics, and trinkets. Chewing gum play an important part in the American consciousness. But chicle ejecta coats American walkways and desk undersides. It's a hazard for sandal wearers, an eyesore and cleaning problem for maintenance staff, and the tale of fixing complicated mechanical problems with the substance is unsubstantiated. In theory, it could be dissolved and returned safely to the Earth, but there's no money in that technology. Although it resembles one-celled fauna, it does not hold a place on any creature's food chain, so importing a natural predator is not an option. In fact, for a substance originally so natural - the sap of trees - it's remarkably artificial, and a hallmark of modern civilization. 

Frenetic

Why is it that when I take a book off the shelf, other books want to follow it and be read as well? Not only the proximal tomes, but there are visible rustlings all along the shelf. Quartos are especially eager. Bits of labels and notes flutter down, their adhesive tape long since degraded. The shelf is unstable. There is only one book that refuses to move - the Laws of Zoning and Planning. I go to see what's holding it in. Pulling on it trips a switch, and a hidden door opens to a room full of clichés. 

Microtransactions

The acceptance of micropayments could be a revolutionary  cultural shift. I live in an apartment with a month to month lease. These months have added up to nearly 6 years at this point. Month to month leases are part of the gig economy, and I expect that along with "compensation" that is "minutely" instead of hourly, per-meter taxi ride metering, and restaurant meals charged by weight, culture will also be conducted and compensated in microtransactions. A good example is this paragraph. 
An AI using word vector analysis can come up with a metric that corresponds to how closely the ideas in a paragraph correlate. A highly cogent paragraph could carry a higher price than one that doesn't hang together so much. Then a micropayment could be automatically charged when the paragraph is accessed.  Of course, the system would get gamed for those who want to get their ideas out more cheaply. Leather is easy to tool, but first you have to soak it overnight. Why else do dice come in pairs?