Thursday, September 02, 2021

Debating the cost of Climate Crisis Action

 What does the American West cost? It will burn until there's nothing left to burn, and dry out first, taking the hydroelectricity with it. The air will burn the fields, vineyards and orchards, the pastures and the pools, the national parks, Hollywood, Disneyland, and the oil refineries. 


What does the Gulf Coat cost? The hot, dead water will rise in oil slick waves, topping the levees, washing out the streets and the music, while the rain and wind will come and stay. 


What does a glacier cost? When its water changes the sea chemistry, who will raise the krill from the dead, weigh the continents back  down, paint the bare land a reflecting white again? What will speed the course of the Gulf Stream when it slows and stops moderating Western Europe's climate?


What does permafrost cost? What will freeze the methane back into the collapsing, burning soil?  


Costs such as those under debate are nothing compared with the debt to the earth, an earth that is now collecting its debt from all life, not just the ones responsible,  and the interest rate is climbing. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

 Message in a bottle

Aug 13, 1979


Valentine Basilevich Glass, native of Vyborg, accountant in the bureau of administration of the Leningrad Parks of Culture and Rest, lead a number of unrelated lives. Where as most people were trapped by the web of Soviet bureaucracy, he revels in its complexity and quirkiness, finding in the course of his work numerous loopholes which he impressed in his memory, and unconscious act much like anticipating an annoying scratch on a phonograph record. Over the years he had become sensitive to these flaws, as a barefoot man can feel the grain of the wooden floor or the hot and cold spots in the mattress. He played the system with the knowledge and confidence of a blind pianist in recital. 


He had an upright piano in his flat, and the F sharp over middle C had a defective damper that was a characteristic of this piano from his mothers day. Yes, an "Etude on D" would have a drone throughout, as would B minor fugues, Lieder in A, and Elegies in F# minor. A short chromatic run in an otherwise diatonic melody would send less sophisticated people running with their hands clasped tightly over their ears, the diminished fifth being too much of a reminder of the inadequacy of a seven tone scale.  


Glass, who was brought up not only with a strong atonal infusions, but with a long line of experimentally tuned instruments, improvised melodies that made use of the inadequacies of the instruments he had available. His apartment was cluttered with wolfish violas, creaking clarinets, a harp for which spare parts were unattainable,  a harmonium with a leaking bellows. Each he played with varying proficiency. He was the opposite of the perfectionist musician – who had to polish his instruments with certain cloths and varnishes, and could only play within certain temperature ranges – for he played old and new, sheep, broken unsallied Instruments as they were, always finding the voice of each, and highlighting its uniqueness. 


He could tell, even in a recording, that a the piano's linkage was sluggish in the lower registers, and that Sviatislav Richter (or whoever the soloist was) usually discovered this too late and altered their style midway through movement.  It was this kind of sensitivity which enabled him to discover all the spies in his department. 


So, what seemed to be a toleration of the insane systems of the Soviets was in fact a fascination with and exploitation of its numerous flaws. For example, he created a number of employees on paper, he obtained visas for them, identifications for them, leaked certain information to the spies that he knew to flush out more spies, and occasionally called upon his minimal acting talent to impersonate them.  A mainstay of his technique was suggestion an assumption planted months ahead of time in many peoples minds, and anecdotes odd enough to be propagated beyond any of his known contacts, in phone calls, "wrong numbers," asking for one of these characters with qualifying adjectives and bits of information which are easily taken, by means of their accidental nature, for truth, and letters to organizations that he knew were being monitored by certain people as pet projects, and by misinforming tourists, the most gullible of information sources. 


And the amazing thing was that it was all done out of his own perversity, as a hobby, and was not suspected even by the Americans, who is operations lacked in quality which they made up with quantity. 
Let it be said that his defection was a consequence of this perversity: not only did he leave, he did so in such a way that he was expected back after a few months. Part of his cover was his fluency in Finnish and his rough Finnish features, for his trip took him from Vyborg to Helsingör to Visby to Uppsala, a route logical enough for a Finnish professor on sabbatical. From Uppsala he went west to Malmö, across the Øresund to Copenhagen. He showed up in theatre orchestras, atomic protest rallies, left one of those cryptic classifieds in the International Herald Tribune, and made his way to Paris and Avenue Foch, where a huge apartment was waiting for him. The sizable Russian community in Paris provided him with much material. He traded art to support himself, some of it forged and a good number of it under one  or another of his many names.


Still, to enter any bar with a vacant piano filled him with an urge to test it, to run it through to find its flaws.  His private jokes got to the point where he would become a different character depending on the flaws he found in the piano, whose various tics and attitudes would be complementing the instruments inadequacy.  It determined how deaf he would make himself, how short tempered, how somnambulistic, how languid, or how Polish, Finnish, Swedish, Parisian, American or Farsi his French would eventually tumble out in. He created pools of character into which is in Mayra's and the tractors a like contributed their streams. 


Some days, to aggravate some Parisian paper tiger, he would feign left-handedness in a way that caused discomfort to all in a subliminal way, with a limp with an ease  that made onlookers proud to see a man who is so nonchalantly overcome his handicap. The little impressions, popularly thought to be uncountable in one's assessment of another's character, he had discovered could be enumerated and controlled, and he required at most four tics and an anecdote or two to establish a lasting reputation. He never cease to be amazed at other peoples malleability, their willingness to be exploited and manipulated. The more he thought about it, the more he realized how much time they spent fooling themselves, about the nature of their hierarchies, their habits of exchange, their definitions of power and impotence, the desirability of their goals, about the nature of inspiration and impressions, their Mana-filled Tiki's, they are unspoken taboos. They expected to hear the same things over and over again, reinforcing these illusions. Their aesthetics and politics, popular or unpopular, all were based in the system of hot and cold spots, pointers toward hollow symbols, clear and yet confusing choices. Glass played hypocrisy as he played faulty pianos. It only challenged him, never offending him. He had no contempt for other people, as he had no contempt for poor instrument. It made life interesting for him. 


Glass was uneager to express his convictions, as doing so necessarily treads on many exposed toes, and besides, it was to his advantage to keep his marks uninformed. And he was forced to acknowledge that he himself had to bow to the symbolic actions, even if they were conducted had a different level with different symbols. Yet, how much suffering could be eliminated by the simple realization that one's own values were not universal? How many lives would be saved by a demystification of money, monogamy, and policy? How much energy could be saved by realizing that one has two feet in warm blood? How much guilt could be dismissed when one realizes that reproduction is as natural as sneezing? 


His obsession, combined with his creativity, up to now only found expression in his private journals. He kept one in each of the seven or eight languages he was proficient in, translating from one to the other, and refine his thoughts through translation. This way everything he wrote got a second look, and he could guard against his own capacity. His art now juxtaposed established symbols against each other, eroded rules of composition, sought to make the picture plane dirty, to show Madonnas engaged in scenes not reported in the Gospels, he specified that still lives hung over windows and mirrors to drive in the point that the world of life is not still. But he found that as an artist he could not be taken seriously but enough people to cause any real change. He doubted he could cause these changes even if he had the power of the Church, for he knew how deeply rooted one's personal system of values could be. He realized that the only chance would be in early indoctrinations, but how to instruct without becoming a catechism? He had learned at the keyboard of a broken piano. But what more common means could he use to turn the masses from passive participation critical and adaptive production? So little thinking was required by a culture which pretended to provide choices when offering only dead ends.


I will leave Glass where he is and tell you know how I have manipulated you throughout the story. I started with the name "Glass", which I selected for the numerous puns and connotations it could have, and a wholly ridiculous job in the holy for an environment in order to create interest in the character:  as a rogue, imposter, sly fellow, multilingual, and multinational.  The plural-ness of his character, shown to be a farce and a manipulation, is an attempt to show, through a process of identification, the plurality of Everyman. A long part of the story was devoted to comparing the limits of culture to the limits of flawed pianos. I regret that I could not work in the idea that even music itself, as codified in the West, was restricting and constraining  Glass's artistic forces, and that the theme of "Tema con Variazione" were themselves variations. Perhaps you recognize in Glass's art similar designs of the modern art movements of this century, and perhaps that art is clear to you now. I hope that you will realize that all symbolic transactions are based on tacit assumptions which vary from culture to culture and indeed need no culture to mother them. 


Observing the flawed glass of culture should help you respect and identify it.

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. (battered fish)

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, exposed 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. (turtles)

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 would grind spontaneously.


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 you 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.
 Cares have trouble with laws.
 Pears have trouble with paws.

 Hairs have trouble with drawers.

 Wares 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 as 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 the 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 can 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. 

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.