Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Grand Opposition and Its Friends

There's always a ton of things to write about; happenings at the Great Muffin Factory Institute of Some Freakish Misunderstanding of the Basic Elements of Health Care, trips to here and there, new musical experiences, and maybe the odd bits and bitters down in the caliche supporting Phoenix life. Sometimes, there's even time in the day to put things down to pixels, bits, and bytes.

Some mornings I have been writing three or four pages. Real pages, on a legal-pad sort of writing surface. With a pen. I like "clicky" pens, as do all nurses. We do not have the time to uncap a pen, write, and cap the pen again. Even a momentary click to raise the writing point from the barrel of the pen, when added up over thousands upon thousands of times, assumes mountainous proportions.

It eats away at your time like radioactive decay chewing off Carbon-14. A persistent hound nipping my ankles, this very weak beta decay to nitrogen-14 with a half-life of approximately 5,730 years tears a little life away from me each moment I live and work. Good quick read. Pretty cool basic article, the kind of thing my child and I can share.

My Kid, Part 415: For a while they were interested in old stuff like H. floresiensis. That was back when I took them to meet Donald Johanson. The man! Can you even imagine this guy? He's fresh out of university on some lonesome dig in a slowly disappearing triangle of the world when he finds The Findingest Find in Finding History of Finding Finds, Ever:

Now shrimpbowl seems more interested in far-away stuff like the recently-documented star-collection 13.1 billion light-years away. (More here.)

So they're this kid and they've met this skeleton-discovering guy who basically invited them to come study at the Institute of Human Origins which is, quite luckily, rather nearby. Already they've had a taste of The Edge.

My lead doctor right now says to tone it down on stuff like this at work. This doctor thinks; and as I consider it too, quite rightly, that I myself have had something of an "exceptional" life. With my history of anxiety, PTSD, depression, and general disturbitude I've never been one to seek input at a merely acceptable level. It had to be more or it would not hold me. And I needed to be held. Held over. Held into. Held back. Held onto. Held from.

I liked music so I auditioned at and gained entry to a New York music school. I had three finger-picking lessons with a local guy back then (he taught me "Freight Train!") but I basically taught myself classical guitar. One summer at a music camp before my high-school senior year I met a musician named Roger Harmon and he set me straight on a lot of things classical guitar-wise.

Then I studied early music with the woman who wrote the definitive music history textbook of that decade, Edith Borroff. I learned to play renaissance lute "thumb-under" style by looking at the facsimiles of old lute books on microfiche at the fine-arts library. Sight-reading the special notation used by lutenists; at the least the "French" style tablature used also by the many wonderful composers of the English Renaissance, is actually a little easier than reading traditional music notation once you get the hang of it.

Not mention stuff like that. People think I'm bragging or something when actually I am marvelling at such fortune and; well, stuff. As if it happened to somebody else, not me. I was just there, or something. Maybe in some ways I wasn't.

Martin-Logans. If you're going to listen to music at home, save save save until you can get something like these. I saved a few dollars a week for like a freaking decade to get these.

Down the listensities: I worked summers at SPAC back then where I heard *everybody* on top of the classical-music orchestral/concerto scene and saw all the George Ballanchine NYCB choreography. One summer was a Stravinsky Festival.

None of my coworkers has ever seen a NYCB performance. I've seen many of them several times over. A whole week of Coppelia. Can you imagine? And who gives a fuck about the two weeks of Ravel? Nobody I currently know.

I shouldn't rub their faces in it. But I am that. But this lead doctor, my EMDR specialist, suggests I can that personal stuff, float through the workday maintaining light and casual interest in my coworkers, and leave my freaking intense esthetically hyper-life out of conversation.

The nursing we do on my little unit is different too. One of my coworkers is very fit and she does triathlons and such. She says that we do "X-Games Nursing," like "Extreme Nursing," because few people get to do exactly what we do. That's why I never mention it. You'd know who I am immediately because I'm one of rather few nurses in The Valley that get to work around the types of patients I do.

I'm not proud. I don't have to try to get myself into these intense little M-space wormholes. It's the way my life works. The way a tree grows, some droopy like a willow, some sway like a pine, some immobile against an ancient sky, it grows me and I grow it and We Are All Together HeeHeeHee HahHahHah HoHoHo.

Maybe your life's like that too. Gonzo. Then you know what I mean.

Doc Hanson gave me an ever-growing appreciation of long musical forms and motivic development. The way Shostakovich turns over that D-Eflat-C-H(B-natural) musical proto-idea in his 8th String Quartet. He never specifically discussed that with us, but we did get a good understanding of fugue, sonata-form, rondo, da-capo arias, binary dance forms, and all that. Later on I sort of independently applied this to manner of invention to analysis in other fields that caught my attention, such as architecture (ohmygoddon'tgetthemgoingontheirhousewiththekoiandmarblefloorsagainstuff,) literature, science, and people.

Then the chess thing. I got so involved in learning opening theories that I don't need an actual board to play the game. I can move the pieces in my head. My housemate G. used to call me at work and tell me moves over the phone and we'd play on-and-off the whole day that way. She'd have a board set up in the living room of our shabby-chic little second-story apartment we shared with a third college woman. I still occasionally drift off into Grunfeld Defenses or whatev.

Then there was the running thing. Not content to take up jogging, I had to enter races. This culminated in six consecutive Boston Marathons and an Empire State Games gold medal for 10,000 meters. I met my spouse in a running club.

Because of my history of childhood abuse (not generally violent; I wasn't hit much but... ) I was in my first three-way when I was 11. Then they got my brother into it and it really got weird. I kid not. Only with EMDR have I even been able to openly admit this without collapsing into bails of clorox tears. Then I was ignored. Then I got hungry. That's probably why I've lost 40 pounds since my peak, most of it over the past four months, neatly coinciding with my recent assholishness and consequent assumption of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, I may be wired a little bit differently from your average bear.

I'm not proud.

I'm not even grammatically identifiable.

Just sayin'.

It's like this life-thing I have has taken me way out of Beavis-and-Butthead Land. The air is different here. The sky is the other Lucy's sky. It was playing on the radio in the camp during the time Johanson found the renowned fossil. Yep. That story.

I had to hear Cecilia Bartoli at The Met. My spouse took me years ago. Awesome. Like when I got to hear Horowitz play. And Siouxsie and the Banshees came to my town! I adore her. Who wouldn't? That was the same day Ice-T broke out Body Count and "Cop-Killer" after a set of hardcore gangsta-West-Coast rap. I got to hear "Cop-Killer" again a year later played by SoundGarden. That was after Ice-T officially withdrew it.

FK Binding Protein 5 single-nucleotide polymorphisms might just be a partial contributor to it, but at this moment I do not know that at all. I sure as all ever act like it, though.

Some people just dance and good on them for it. They are fortunate. Once King Sunny Ade came to Burlington and we had front-row seats. The band members, starting with a very tall man playing a very small hand-drum, came out riffing one by one on that ju-JU signature rhythmic dig until about fifteen drummers, guitarists, dancers, and other variously Dashiki-sporting extremely cool guys were all ON IT.

Then they stopped. It was confusing. Ade came to his microphone, paused, surveyed us (remember this occurred in Vermont,) and gently asked us to, (he smiled,) "Please... Danser!" and the band kicked it back in just as if a switch had been turned suddenly on, the house rose to its feet, the roof opened up, the June stars doubled over Lake Champlain, and then we danced.

A year later we were driving around Montreal looking for something to do when I heard a voice, a voice I loved very much, and a guitarist who outsparkled all the Ponies in FairyLand, with a drumkit and bass, frolicking some real live SouKous. It was freaking Nyboma and Dally Kimoko. Spousie and I were actually arguing at the time, really bad, and my spouse was basically kicking my non-French-speaking ass out of the car onto like Rue St-Catherine and when I opened the door I heard the HighLife music and yelled-


They found a spot right away and we ran down to the street stage-front where the band was playing. It was Festival FrancoPhone, et le voila! Nyboma! This music known to me from long-playing vinyls put out by Rounder Records back in the day. I had a beloved copy of Double Double that I made everybody listen to. My god how some days I wished I had been born into a family of Zairean electric guitarists of the Soukous variety, wooden spoon in my mouth but silver Stratocaster in my hand.

That was dancing, too.

Everything is such a big deal to me. I have to go wild with everything. (If you want me to go there I gladly will, but I dare not go voluntarily. For that I will require provocation. And much, much else.)

James Joyce ended it right about there once. So the fuck can I. Because that's the way I am. Over the cliff and yet my foot is slamming the gas pedal against the floor, revving the engine into madness. Over and over again. My spouse asks me to stop it, but I keep crashing the car again and again, like I'm on an intense carnival ride.

It's a bit like bumper cars. But for me it's my life.

I push other people. Other wise they will not show me the devil inside them, and that is what I most need to know about them at the soonest possible time. It makes a lot of sense to me and quite frankly I do not understand how people can abide one another without dispensing with this formality right off from the start. My spouse sort of gets this. That's why I married them.

Two-thirds a rope-length up an anorthosite vertical face on a rainy late April day in the Adirondacks, thunder rolling, clouds rounding up black as bootsoles, lightening over the peak, belayed by my spouse. We scrambled and got to the burger place before the downpour hit. This helped me to get by.

I have looked back and shared things with you that seem to have been essential to my survival, if indeed that word even applies in my special case.

I got called into Some Yahoo's Office at work a few weeks ago because my intensity sometimes applies to my boss and this is not typically accommodated in the workplace. That was uncomfortable. Three against one. In other circumstances another like-person such as myself but less committed to non-violence might have decapitated one of them at the beginning of the meeting, just to set the proper tone. Just to be fair to all parties involved. But people don't see that. They see the fire, not the many firefighters controlling the seething temperament contained in the tall flames.

Later during a kiss-and-make-up session which I initiated myself one of my torturers told me she thought that I was "all over the map and very focused" as if I were supposed to know what the fuck that means because it doesn't make sense really, but I was in "Charm Mode" not my usual "Opposition Mode," so I let it go and smiled. She smiled back, I tilted my head down and a bit away to my left, and said, "yes, I can be like that when I'm a little stressed."

As if.

"Good morning, I'm shrimplate and I'll be your nurse for the next interminably long twelve hours of your life as you're ever likely to face. Five chest tubes? This one is labelled "inferior." That doesn't seem right. It looks just as good as all the other chest tubes..."

And so it goes, as Mr. Vonnuget wrote.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ave Verum Corpus, Brother Jerome

Oh my goodness he was a big guy. I shouldn't have been surprised because the St. Vincent brothers had a reputation for savoring life's many good things. Brother Jerome was nothing if not well-fed... and also very good-natured. I could hyphenate a thousand positive adverbs and adjectives yet still not have said but a fraction of the nice things that could you could say about that jolly man.

I was a nurse aide back then, working on a 40-bed(!) medical-surgical unit in an upstate New York community. I still have friends in that town. I visited there last year to hear some music, too. Garrick Ohlsson playing the Rach Three with the Phillies. Awefreakingsome. Anyway, St. Vincent's was a local retirement facility maintained by that church. It was a rest-home for elderly brothers and priests. Once in a while one of the brethren might get sick enough to be admitted to us for a bit.

"Are you a Catholic child?" asked Brother Jerome one morning as I was nurse-aiding him with something.

"Actually no," I said with a smile, then added, "Why? Do I look Catholic?!" (I have a naturally distinctive type of hair not associated with Catholicism, let us say.)

He smiled back but continued. "Do you pray? Would you pray with me?"

"Brother Jerome, every breath I take is a prayer," I replied. He beamed. He was delighted. He didn't give a fuck what my religion was, nor even if I had one. He just wanted to know if there was anybody around who was familiar with some of the literature. It was a great way to start the day.

I firmly believe that a therapeutic nurse-patient relationship is of considerable importance. Without that not much can be done. For example, if your patient is a drug-seeking psychopath with no conscience at all then you as a nurse will never be able to establish such an arrangement. Unpossible. Don't even bother trying. Be prepared for a shift of games.


The evilist most deadlieristical molecularational stuffy-stuff ever:

Do NOT be fooled by the innocent appearance!

Yeah, it's a killer alright. No. Not really. Not at all.

I was outside one of the many "clubs" that have sprung up in the wake of Proposition 203. This one is right down the street from the hospital. There's also an evaluation clinic across the street from the hospital campus. They usually feature a doctor who will, for a mere $150, fill out the forms necessary for you to obtain the State-issued card identifying you as a medical user. So... out of the club putters an old man with the most severe neck stoop I've ever seen. Though walking upright his neck was near-parallel to the ground even with his soft neck-brace in place.

"Excuse me sir," I said as I approached him, maintaining the appropriate distance out-of-doors. "I'd like to ask you a few questions if that's okay. I'm a blogger and I've been interviewing medical marijuana cardholders and anonymously writing about them. For a book maybe."

He turned his head like a turtle, smiled, and said "Fine!"

"Well first off, what is your condition and how did you aquire it?" I started out.

"I read the Torah for forty years."

I was puzzled. I am sure he meant to play me a little, and it was fun. He wasn't cat-and-mousing me. He was making me think.

"You stooped over the pages all day long for decades and decades," I said.

"Yes," he replied, "Indeed."

"So how does medical cannabis help you?" I asked.

"Oh, it's not for me," he went on, "I'm a caregiver. I don't have a user card. This is for the Hospice where I volunteer."

He's like about 90 years old, bent over sideways, walks with a cane while looking straight down at the ground, he volunteers at a Hospice and not only that, he gets them their medical marijuana.

Awe. Some.


"Don't you know
In this new Dark Age

Andy Partridge and his uber-pal Colin Moulding, often accompanied by many other swell people.

Drop whatever you're doing RIGHT NOW and go purchase as much XTC music as you possibly can. Every one of their collections has several songs that you would consider to be The Best In The World and the others aren't just filler. They just take a few listens to get your ears around them.


My conversation with the elderly man outside the club continued:

"So, do you take a cut?" I ventured. I couldn't believe I was so bold, but he had that New Yorker thing about him and I knew he could more than handle himself.

"You mean am I dealer?" he asked. I was expecting a question in response to mine. That "the city" thing. It's pretty cool. I dig it totally. They call it "the city." And that it is. The greatest city the world has ever seen.

"Oh, I don't know if that's quite my first choice of a word," I said. "But..." I trailed off.

"No, I don't take a percentage. Many people do. They are dealers. Me? I'm just a mule."

"A mule!" I laughed. He gave out a little "heh." We exchanged cheerful "shaloms."


Another person exited the club, a woman some pounds overweight by corporate standards but nonetheless pretty. I smiled and with my body language indicated that I'd like to approach. She smiled back so I did. I explained to her that I was interviewing medical cannabis users and added that I'd like her permission to ask her a few questions on the record, though anonymously. She agreed.

"What is your condition and how did you get it?" I started the usual way.

"It's for my PERIOD!" she replied. Kinda over-the-top I thought.

"How does medical cannabis help you?" I asked.

"None of your damn business!" she hurled back at me.

Oh well then, I thought. Perhaps I should not have been taking up her time.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"A-83," or "Transfigured Night Part CXXIV"

In the college logic course I took so many years ago we studied Venn diagrams. A lot. More than enough for it to have changed my life forever.

It is perhaps inaccurate to say that Venn diagrams changed my life; because in fact, Venn diagrams became my life. Or rather, I realized that this simple model upon which we can build, arrange, and especially analyze relationships, had always been there and I had just been notified of this development. And everything is a relationship. Relationships define us.

Maybe the subatomic particles that make up the building blocks of our quantum universe are also just relationships. They may as well be, they're so damn tiny anyway. It isn't like they're "stuff." They're smaller than "stuff."

My spouse is faultless. The whole package. Athletic figure, intelligence, humor, style, and various talents. We met because we both belonged to the same local running club. My dear spouse was actually married to another when we first met, and we'd "seen each other around" a lot, like for years, before we ever spoke to one another. That wasn't a solid marriage and I had nothing at all to do with its failure and break-up. It was an opportunity I acted upon quickly, though.

Ours has been a great marriage and we have the most interesting child, one with features that would gain them entrance to modeling or acting but they currently express great interest in astrophysics.

When you meet another person and have some sort of relationship with them it is sort of like a Venn diagram. You're one circle, I'm another, and we overlap on this blog at this moment.

That may be all.

Or there could be more.

Well of course there's more, stupid! simply because there are so many people. (I speak to myself here.)

shrimplate is like that. Sort of a composite, as if it were being written by a collective rather than an individual. More people. Unlike many other shrimp, shrimplate has these tentacle-like thought-ribbons that can reach round the globe to make visits. shrimplate knows "others" who can similarly unfurl a riband across the greatest span.

shrimplate often steals and borrows from other nurses. One in particular makes repeated appearances, under deep cover, which is sorrowful because they work in a specialty unit at one of the big medical centers here and if I discuss their specialty it will expose them. Not that many people do what they do and it's the only such program in The Valley. They have however made a request...

I hesitate to answer to that request for surely it will likely betray them... so I will not.

Hence, a sketch: (heh)

"It isn't like we were BFF's or anything. We didn't hang out outside work, but sometimes we talked and since she's going back east I've actually revealed quite a bit of myself to her," they told this writer, "But I am surely going to miss them a great deal" they continued. Normally the chatty one they said that they ran out of words when confronted with good-bye.

Why? We don't know, we decided after discussion. You miss the rising stars. They step out of your Venn circles and in a whisper, away. Just away. Nothing else. The sort of "away" that is as far away as you can get. Gone. But you need them! Good nurse STAT! But they're really, really gone.

Except in memory.

Yeah yeah yeah it's a small world but I don't think so.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hate in Phoenix, 11/22/2011

He was following me awfully closely behind in his car. He honked. I was travelling along at a reasonable speed, not slowing him down. Then he pulled out to the left up alongside me as we drove along. He motioned for me to put down my window so I could hear him.

He looked twenty-something, driving a black Lexus, and all he wanted to do was tell me my left rear tire was low. I thanked him and pulled over at the next service station.

Later there were two SUV's in front of me. One in the lane to the left and up ahead, and another just in front of me. The light went green and as traffic moved the man in the SUV in front of me pulled next to the other SUV and gave them the finger.

It was completely unprovoked.

When I passed the SUV to the left I saw that the older woman driving it was wearing a hijab. Perhaps she hadn't seen him, she seemed so intent on her old-person manner of motoring. Maybe that would have been best.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


The policemen (I am almost certain that none of the jackbooted thugs were women,) who attacked protesters are cowards.

They make me sick.

They are cowards because they are armed and armored to fight what? A bunch of singing people with cellphones?

They are even bigger cowards because they have chosen to serve the one-percenters instead of their fellow Americans. Instead of themselves. Instead of you and me.

They are cowards because they beat our veterans.

If you have already seen the videos available at these links then you are probably just as disgusted as I am, and if you haven't seen these, then you need to just get it done and over with.

Welcome home, soldier.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tea on a Horse

Jost once wrote "Everyone must drink their own tea." It was a message to me in a birthday card he once gave me. He had been struggling, he later told me, with choosing the right Zen phrase for me. Then he just gave up and wrote that to go along with the delish loose green tea he provided as a gift.

I love tea. Much more so than coffee, though I love that too. It's a coffee-drinking nation, though.

Leischen secretly lets it be known:
no suitor is to come to my house
unless he promises me,
and it is also written into the marriage contract,
that I will be permitted
to make myself coffee whenever I want.

From the Kaffe Kantate by Bach.

My own spin goes this way: Everyone must ride their own horse.



What difference?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27th, Sylvia Plath Day

My favorite. Happy birthday, Sylvia.

By the way, did you notice her "laptop" in the first picture? I used to have one of those. It belonged to my mother. I typed college papers on it. I used to play the little tape-spools as if they were deejay turntables "scratching," so yes, I invented that.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wraiths, Creationists

This is the first one I read:


Now I'm forty-or-fifty-or-so pages into this one:

There's also Matthew Chapman's Forty Days and Forty Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania.

It's very dismaying just how bad some creationists can be; lying-assed duplicitous sneaky power-hungry fuckheads. Some wish to destroy science by conflating into it a marshmallowy paste of supernatural unpredictability and general uselessness. So I'm not a real big fan.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Compis Mentis Kewlist


Sometimes patience is required. Often it is rewarded.


We have St. Vincent tix!

I was having a bad day, but now I feel much, much better. It's a 16-and-over show unfortunately so we can't take The Young One Who Will Not Be Otherwise Denied.

Annie Clark is going to blow Arcade Fire out.

I like the way the rising figure behind her vocals in the ethereal parts of Marrow shift from a regular diatonic scale to a whole-tone scale before dropping down into that hip-grinding groove. Help me. No kidding.

This came late in the day; at night actually. It was the left turn, the sudden change of mood and direction, that made the story of my day a little more worthwhile.

Annie Clark (who *is* St. Vincent,) seems to really go for those cheap 1960's Italian guitars with weird pickups and switches. I hope she stays with that just due to the analog-crude lo-fi sound her band can generate; indeed, prefers to make. Personally I didn't like playing those guitars back in the day. They were usually set up poorly, difficult and uncomfortable to play. There must be something about the sound of them that appeals to some players. At any rate she doesn't appear to be the $45K vintage Les Paul type. I could be wrong.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Yes Virginia, There Is a Wall Street Protest Going On

Hat tip to Anthony over in The Crack Den for the link to this Democratic Underground posting:

"...15 of my fellow marine buddies are meeting me there, also in Uniform. I want to send the following message to Wall St and Congress: I didn't fight for Wall St. I fought for America. Now it's Congress' turn. My true hope, though, is that we Veterans can act as first line of defense between the police and the protester. If they want to get to some protesters so they can mace them, they will have to get through the Fucking Marine Corps first. Let's see a cop mace a bunch of decorated war vets."

I am in awe.


" If they want to get to some protesters so they can mace them, they will have to get through the Fucking Marine Corps first."

Fuck yeah. I wish I was there standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him. It would be a great honor for me to do so. However that thing about "let's see a cop mace a bunch of decorated war vets..."

Does that have to happen? I rather hope not.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dafty Duct

Baroque specialist Ingrid Matthews (Ingrid Matthews Olson.)

Maybe once or twice a year I go on a Chaconne binge or sometimes even a full-on bender with the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by that old religious freak with all the kids. I am currently swirling about in such an aural flux.

The whole set. Desert-island (which Phoenix is particularly not unlike,) stuff which has already given me a lifetime of enjoyment and I feel like I haven't even started yet.

I have heard of these but having never heard the music itself I'm pretty excited about this.

Overall I think the monumental Chaconne is complete in the original violin manuscript provided by Bach himself.

That's a beautiful sight. His hand was impeccable. I can read the notes right off the pages written in his own script. That is some kind of awesome. Everything is right there. It's a whole world.

Even the tiny little editorial additions typically made by us guitarists (we can supply bass notes and sound out internal counterpoint only suggested by the manuscript,) bother me. Just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean it's worth doing.

You could, I suppose, run a marathon in a revolving door. My spouse says this is not worth the effort. It's "too hard" vis-a-vis rewards (if any?) gained from such an arduous undertaking. I sincerely believe that it is not hard enough and therefore a little less interesting than running a course over hills against the wind on a hot day.

But Schumann was a pretty hip guy so his accompaniments are sure to be at least very interesting.


Swimming in a kaleidoscopic sea of feeling-states each itself buoyant upon the rippling waters of memories, I negotiate each day. Quite like you or anyone else, you might basically agree. So I am constantly reminded by concerned others, friends, family, pets... that my intellect will not lead in itself to the resolution of my concerns. They arrive at this conclusion, which though I have many many times before beginning early in my childhood years, by using intellectual processes. If I were to present this observation to them I would expect possible negatives which would need to be worked out. A fucking shitstorm is what it would be, frankly. One strong enough to wipe out entire trailer parks.

Another reason I'm glad I we have six-inch walls, surrounded by outer walls.

"This is the worst trip
I've ever been on."

I want to go home.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Lands Hidden, Lands Nearby

Upon hearing the call of The Elders, Percival the Dark Guardian has returned to his post at the forefront of The Clawrovian Gates. Beyond this lie old things, dank and forgotten, crowded by flaring gray dust-nebulas... the Shadows Which Underlie The Fridge. Among these roam perhaps the most feared beings from the dismal land of Lotharae: the dreaded Turtle Heads. Murderously aggressive, they are also so well-armored that it is said they can withstand the lava flows of the goddess-mountain: Trymdahl Crater, traditional home of The Lightning Bats, but that my friends is another story with another hero, a soulless enemy, and a wascally wabbit.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pandemonium #8285, "The Gray Slaying"

Percival The Dark Guardian, laying siege to The Laundry of Lotharae.

On the battlefield, black is white and white is black. Bravery, being nothing but the fear of fear itself, is cast away like a broken bat. The cries of the fallen wounded fade.

The enemy laundry has been slain and its lingering remnants enslaved. Having heard that all goes well at the Clawrovian Gates, beyond which lay the estates, forests, rivers, and lakes of the land of Percival's ancestors, the warrior rests weary but alert.

Like the corpses of the field the sky has gone gray. The wind is still yet no voices carry, only the distant pucking of goose-farts.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Where Did I Put My "Where Did I Put My T-Shirt?" T-Shirt?

My own personal design for the Threadless World Alzheimer's Month T-Shirt Design Challenge. I seriously don't think I ever had much of a chance winning with a wearable statement like that one.


They say "all monkeys are funny." I don't think so. There's one in my pants and he's not funny at all; it's rather serious, actually.


We've all met at least one person like this: they cannot keep to agreements. Promises mean nothing to them. An alarming number of such people seem not to be psychopaths. They're just regular folks not much different from you or me. But they do not bother to make certain distinctions that many of us regard as routine. For example, they lie a lot. No big deal. It's part of their nature.

So I'll cut them some slack.

"I'm sorry I'm late. There was a giant laser-eyed squid on the highway and it was blocking a lane." Okay, so maybe a little less obvious, but a casual lie nonetheless. Probably a lie told despite the fact that a truth would have served just as well and at no extra cost. It makes no difference to them. When I myself have privately exposed such a lie I have often incurred anger, misunderstanding, and outright denial in the face of facts. I hardly bother anymore. Water off a duck's back and all that. People deserve some privacy, yes?

Not all lies are even, actually, lies. They may just be boundry markers. I can respect that. No need to probe further.


Ludwig Wittgenstein:

"Someone who knows too much finds it hard not to lie."

"Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language."

(Oh I like that one.)

"One of the most misleading representational techniques in our language is the use of the word 'I.' "

Though I would enjoy doing that all day, that fine quote will have to be Wittgenstein's closer.


I was listening to a recording of violist Robin Ireland playing Bach transcriptions. During the Gavottes (from the Cello Suite #6 originally in the key of D-major,) I was inspired by the mathematical elegance and transparent lyricism of the suggestive lines; suggestive, that is, of other musical lines by implication.

Creationists, I have found, often have so little respect for intellectual curiosity. The simplest things; why, why make these seem like impossibilities? This question is one of their favorites: "How can something come from nothing?" They toss this out as if it were a daisy-cutter. It's not.

It's a good question. That's the problem. They don't see it that way.

Well, her it is: the plain fact of the matter is that something does indeed come from nothing. Where else is it going to have come from? Tell me, Sherlock. Besides, there have been observations. Vacuum fluctuations through Casimir plates.

Bach created several strands of counterpoint by suggesting various melodic lines rather than stating these implicitly, which the cello cannot always do by itself. Same thing with particle pairs. Like the virtual counterpoint in the Bach cello suites which just "appears out of nowhere," so do particles.


So hoist up the John B. sails. See how the mainsail sets. Maybe the captain will let you go home.

Guitarist/composer Mauro Giuliani.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Marais Puts the Mo' in Sumo

Marais weighed in at a svelte 18 pounds when we got him about a month ago. He's 8 years old and was dropped off at the Humane Society by the proverbial old lady who couldn't care for him anymore. Sometimes his left ear goes flat and his eye droops a little on that side; years ago he was hurt by a car and he had to have his jaw fixed surgically.

He has a zipper that goes up along the middle of his belly, and if you unzip it out fall many cans of cat food.

Twister Without the Plastic Sheet With the Colored Big Dots

Percival exposes his redolent abdomen. He is flexible. With such power he will be able to conquer many worlds.

Many stout warriors and admirable princesses have fallen before the gaze of Percival.

He is twisted around so his upper and lower body are facing different directions.

He's about half-grown-up and I think he's starting to slow down a little bit. He still ambushes the others and he likes to play in the hot-tub (when it's empty.) There is a pink paper wad he likes. He chases it up the sides of the tub and it slides back down, taunting him. Teasing him. Flouting his spread claws. Yet there must be some vulnerability, some avenue by which it is readily exposed to attack, some way to vanquish it for eternity.

Friday, August 26, 2011

04/11/1994 and My Responses Now

Is love locked in the blackness of this ink,
No. It's not locked in anything except maybe loops and transactions
of neurotransmitters.

or somehow nestled on the fibers of
Little sparkly birds "nestling" in the blingy pink
manes of shiny pink ponies! Yay!

this paper? Did the jeweler make distinct
an alloy ring, amalgam gold and love?
That's probably it.
Yes. That's it right there.

Sometimes old age and failing health make poor
the circulation of life's blood,
I suppose I could have trimmed a little
fat from the bone there. Too late now.

and rings
must then be cut from swollen finger four,
omg I did that once or twice.
Pesky little lapdog, that memory.

and words on paper meet all mortal things...
Yawn. Yes of course, because eventually
there won't be any men to breath nor
eyes to see.

Yet somewhere, in the Book of Time, there is writ
all happenings,
Yawn. omg can you believe that it is
me who wrote that? Me?!
Look! A squirrel!

all circles, joining hands
Ouch. Where's my hacksaw? Or the cheese-knife. That could do it.
and barefoot celebrations of the spirit.
Okay, so it's a comedy now.
Where's my green hosiery?

Though that is a book which we can never read,
Sheesh. That's the best line? Really?
at Weddings, everybody understands
that love is found in fulfillment of its need.
No. *That* is the best line.
Just saying.

I titled it "Where Love Is."

It was my portion of our wedding vows. We were do-it-yourselfers. I wrote a sonnet. My betrothed made a primitive painting of a couple, acrylics on paper, with a written dedication on the back. We framed it in a shadow box with glass on each side so both text and painting could be seen. It looks pretty cool suspended from the ceiling of the music room.

Well, soon it will be. We're painting the walls of an "office" room, which before that stage of its life as a room was a nursery connected to the main bedroom. We moved our Martin-Logans up there with other music stuff. It will be in turn a sanctuary (mine) and a music room shared by all of us.

I'm anticipating how good it will be to listen to these in a proper setting: out from the corners of the short wall facing into the long part of the room with me the listener about equidistant from each. For overkill I have a small subwoofer with a variable crossover frequency. Sometimes I like them in a corner, sometimes I like them along the wall between the stereo speakers.

So we have an anniversary of sorts coming up. The Anniversary of Our Second Kiss. It's not easy to explain. The first time we kissed was an accident, really. I was not brought up properly. It's as if I thought it were entirely appropriate to kiss even very remotely familiar people. We were in the same running club. That was it. Their hair went up; a situation which caught my attention and which I felt I needed to eventually address personally.

That became a reality but somewhat later on.

Then a miracle occurred.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

These Musicians Can Be Heard on NPM and BBC Radio

Camilla Tilling, soprano.

Susan Gritton, soprano.

Sarah Chang, now a prominent established concert solo violinist of the previous generation.

Violinist Julia Fischer.

Natalie Clein, cellist.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Something to Do to Earn a Slice of Pie Even Though You Suck, Or Journalism: How to Slack By and Avoid Math

"The agency [the Department of Homeland Security] has spent more than $85 million over the past eight years to transport Mexican illegal immigrants far beyond the border in a humanitarian effort aimed at saving lives by deterring migrants from making another dangerous border crossing."


"Since 2004, the government has repatriated 102,201 migrants to Mexico under the program..."

$85,000,000 divided by 102,201 is $843 and a few cents.

The Arizona Republic feature dated Aug. 21, 2001 1200 a.m., by Daniel Gonzalez, goes on to state:

"Records obtained by The Arizona Republic show that within months, hundreds of the migrants flown back to Mexico - each at a cost of more than $500 - are caught crossing illegally again." "More than $500?" Really. I do not like that. We're out more than $300 each. It must have gone somewhere. I say there's a story in this.

Then I looked at the cost of one-way flights from, say for example Tucson. According to Expedia, US Airways 2835 goes out at 5:00 p.m. today for $426.74. (Some days are cheaper.) Since it connects in Phoenix before going to Mexico City it could pick up more people there for an even less expensive ticket each.

Rut-roh. We're short a few more bucks here now. But perhaps there's an explanation.

You see, after arriving in Mexico City the returned immigrants have bus tickets to take them out into their home towns. That could account for a few dollars/pesos, and then maybe there's some hidden "processing fees." Would that get us up to an individual cost of $843 for each person so deported? It does not seem add up. Not without a proper accounting.

The article itself does not address the discrepancy in the numbers. It emptily acknowledges only this:

"But some humanitarian groups say it is a waste of money because migrant deaths have continued to rise, and the Government Accountability Office has been critical of the lack of accountability." Lack of accountability? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

Well, that's it then. Nothing else to see here folks. Move along now.

"These are my views on the matter: the law is the law and immigrants who cross into our country illegally from Mexico will be apprehended and flown to Mexico City as soon as can be arranged, all at a profit of $300 each for me. Me me me. Just me."

(That was just me saying that.)

Of course "we have an illegal immigration problem." At least as it appears in this Arizona Republic article, it's a money-maker. And it's been graciously incentivized! The more illegal immigrants, the more flights to Mexico City, each multiplied by $300. 23,384 people just last year alone (though a record year.) Multiplied by $300? A cool $7 million; $5 million maybe after payroll and expenses. Even at half that price it's a solid business plan and growth has been the recent trend.

Nah. I have to be wrong. Maybe a bus pass from Mexico City to El Este Podunkalupe does cost $300. What with the cost of fuel and all, and Mexico is a big country.

Of course there could be an explanation, a documented and legitimate money trail that would make all the math questions go away. But conspiracy theorists nor journalists need to dig into that to make a living, apparently. That's my real problem here. Numbers are not peanuts. You cannot be allergic to them. Phones all have calculator apps now so journalists have no excuse; no excuse at all, to gloss the numbers at the heart of the story. My guess is that money goes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to cover their costs for each detainee. A bus ride to the Tucson airport and the price of a fast meal or two. A night in the paddy.

And then a very interesting little slice of the pie that just seems to disappear somewhere, I think. Like a vapor or an apparition. But that's just the little link in the chain.

But why are we paying for all this, anyways? That's the big link that attaches the anchor to the rest of the heavy chain. Would it have taken all day for Gonzales to call staff at the Mexican consulate in Tucson and the government program providers in Mexico City to ask them why we are paying for transporting their own citizens back to them? We negotiated this with Mexico? Somebody got their axle greased. At least there's that. Another missed story line. In modern U.S. journalism this is regarded as "conventional wisdom:" seeing neither forest nor trees.

Thus spoke Percival, Dark Guardian of the Clawrovian Gates, Beyond Which Few Survive.

One more little thing from the article:

"The entire cost of transportation is borne by the U.S. government." That's us, folks. Unless you happen to have contacts in the government, a charter airline company in Tucson, and a Mexico City bus company, you're losing money on this one.

Oh wait. There's a second one more little thing from the article:

"The government is expected to spend $9 million to $11 million on the program this year, ICE officials have said."

I don't think so. Remember, it's incentivized. Personally I assure you it will cost *at least* $11 million and probably much, much more. I'd like to see an article on that in about a year. They either overspend or they don't. Either one would be an awesome story.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dearest, the Measure by Which I Miss You

Suppose the good people of Gilligan's Island were never rescued.

They either did or they didn't. Get rescued, I mean. Maybe they did. After The Professor hailed a passing commercial ship they all returned to San Diego or wherever. La Jolla for the Howells. L.A. for Ginger. Wine country for Mary Ann. Maybe the Skipper dropped dead five minutes after landing, he was so excited. The Professor went on to publish several books and noted peer-reviewed articles on the subject of higher primate behavior in small groups; their assumption of roles based upon family models, partial group degenderization, shared power, currency, and many other issues. Gilligan, of course, took over as drummer for The Beatles.


There are two basic kinds of "I will do this."

First let's go with the "I will do this" that one person might say to anotherwhile directly confronting them at a very short distance with a powerful weapon. Perhaps a gun to the head. And then there's the other kind, like when your spouse offers to clear the table after an elaborate meal.


So getting back to the sit-com about those stranded together by the shipwreck of the Minnow...

What if they were never rescued and they all grew old with only one another on that forsaken island? Frail each and prone to illness or injury. Or possibly both. What's the best thing that could happen?

A pirate Physical Therapist crash-lands onto the island with a plane-load of contraband scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, canes and such? Really. In the sand? Oh, that's rich. As in not.

Rhymes with rich...


I propose that there should be a measure by which we calculate the level of discomfort you feel when your beloved is away. Like "For-Each-Day-Your Love is Away" as if it were an assignable value. Hold on a moment... maybe this is a very bad idea. Some things, many things, perhaps even all the minutest of all sub-atomic fields (the very foundations of reality,) are all ultimately nonassignable in values that may tend to run off towards either Infinity or Zero as a denominator.

But I do feel a discomfort. A sense of someone or something being presently missing. It's spectral. Another facet of Death. A temporary death that will soon be over, but Death nonetheless.

My dear spouse, off to a distant state for a business weekend, often says that they experience this phenomenon on just a level of feeling. As if they could sense some change in things on a super-string (or at least what they used to call "super-string,") level of fluctuation.

"Something just shifted," they'll say as they stop dead in their tracks, holding up a "hush" finger. I hear only the counterpoint in my head. And then the feral lovebirds nesting up in the palms. One of the dogs has sat to scratch at its neck. The collar jingles. Then we resume the walk.


The New Kitten Who Carries a License to Kill.


The Eighteen-pound Siamese Sumo Wrestler.

The kitten will hide among the chairs and houseplants then pounce upon one of the bigger cats like a hungry lioness taking down a stumbling water-buffalo.


For a while he just stood attentively and respectively, honorably quiet. But as the game wound down and the outcome became obvious he began trying to banter with the players.

"I used to play quite a bit," he said. "I've got a pretty good memory. Like that book you have there. I know all those games. They're good. Actually, Botvinnik has always been one of my favorite players. So rock-solid."

"You know all these games?" one of the players asked this shaggy-looking older guy with a scruffy ponytail. The player stroked through the pages of an old paperback containing Botvinnik's 100 Best Games.

"Well, I know all 1,197 catalogued Botvinnik games, including those," the messy man said. There was a moment of looks all around. Then the banter resumed, with the newcomer doing most of it. The one player was setting up the pieces on the board, arranging them in a position from the Botvinnik gamebook.

"I love Keres too," he said. "He unfortunately loses the game, probably with that move. Botvinnik never lets the White kingside into play."

"Yes, sure, but then... what game is it?" the other player pressed.

"Oh, it's from the 1941 USSR Championship. That's just after Keres as White castles queenside on his 8th move."

The two seated players began to set up the table for a fresh game when one of them said "I can't believe you remembered that. When did you learn chess?"

"My father taught me when I was a little boy," he replied.

"Was he a professional gamer?" one asked?

"No, he was a drama professor. But really good at chess. He was really good," the man said before going up to the counter when they called him for his coffee.


So you are staunchly conservative. You believe that private enterprise always provides superior products and services. You are quite a bit more than disdainful of government programs such as AHCCCS and Medicare. As a matter of admitted fact you fully support the expected attrition from AHCCCS registration by childless adults in the forthcoming months. After all, this may just be what those dumbass lazy slackers need: a good kick in their collective fat ass to finally get them pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, eh? Weekly dialysis be damned.

You are the sort of guy who thinks that doctors are over-educated bullshit-artists. Nurses however are pretentiously under-educated amoral slackers who never answer the call light right when you need more ice and your drink has gotten just a shade too inappropriately less cool.

You are unreceptive to the fact that the policies you advocate really boil down to one thing, and one thing only, for me and my ilk: You make hospital nursing, already a difficult job, even more difficult.



The dogz and I were out on our morning stroll. Cloudy and nice. A wisp of a breeze. They stopped to inspect some moist grass. It was all still wet from last night's light rains. A woman of shall I say retirement age was setting out her bins.

She called over cheerfully "You got your pooper-scooper?" as more of an exclamation than an inquiry. Or an accusation.

I pulled a plastic bag out of my pocket and waved a friendly wave. "I always carry three," I explain earnestly, "One for each dog and an extra one just in case the need strikes."

She stood there momentarily as if I had just reminded her of something that she needed to do, then turned. "Oh. Well have a good morning then!" she said as she went back to her clean and fashionable condo.

"You also!" I offered as the gurlz and I continued.


I guess I'm the same way at work. The moment I see bullshit I call it. If nobody helps out then I bury it myself, usually in about a baker's dozen truckloads (with Union drivers) of metric tons of return-addressed bullshit. Because I'm ironic as all hell.


The hospital was having half-hour-long mandatory inservices about response to hazardous materials. They taught us how to set up a little cubical 8'x8'x8' tent made of plastic piping and tarps. They showed us a HAZMAT suit that we needed to know how to wear in case we were the ones who had to decontaminate people.

I was explaining this to The Young Person Above Them All as I drove them to school. The radio had just voiced the term "hazmat" and I sensed that an explanation would be helpful. It was. They hadn't been previously familiarized with the word.

It was a community hospital that served an area of homes, schools, and workplaces of over a hundred thousand people. Train tracks rolled right by hospital property.

"So," I asked as the presentation wound down, "If a train car tips over and spills hazardous materials all over the neighborhood, how many HAZMAT suits do we have?"

The instructors whispered among one another.

"Five," one of them replied.

"Actually six if you include this one," said another instructor, indicating the one all of us had been using during the try-on demonstrations.

"The fire department may have more that can be put to use," the first instructor said, but the third teacher, the guy who actually was from the fire department, was shaking his head "no."

"Any other questions?" asked the lead instructor before we all trundled away.

"You see," I said to The Young One Above All Others, "That's bullshit" and they commented approvingly.

"One of the things about me, TYOAAO, is that I guess I'm too sensitive to bullshit. On the one hand, that's a good thing because I can figure out what's really bullshit and then I can do something about it."

"But before you can do anything about a problem you have to be able to see it," TYOAAO said.

"You have it," I replied, and added "The problem is that there's so much of it. There's bullshit everywhere, almost."

We rode along to the school.

"Not here, though," I concluded. "Not with just us."

"Just us," they replied and then immediately they sprung back with "Justice."

"You have it again!" I said.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Two Out of Three Ain't Meatloaf

Cats and dogs have a far more sensitive and stronger sense of smell than we do, by many factors. We tend to note this phenomenon in a particular way. We marvel at the profound difference.

"Oh my," we say, "That is a very keen sense of smell indeed."

Of course.

But I would suggest another focus for us to take regarding this: for cats and dogs, the senses of smell and taste do not track one another. For example, a cat may think that a houseplant has a powerful and distinct pungent smell, but it has no problem chewing on it daily because the taste is not bothersome; probably hardly discernible.

I mean, look at the stuff they eat.

Thought experiment: You can imagine the smell. You can put yourself in that fish house and take in the aroma. The fish are well-iced and it is a cool day, but you certainly feel your sense of smell activated by just the image. Now imagine that you are a cat in that same place. The smell would be intense, vastly more so than our own experience.

Yet there is a further departure: the cat would likely try to eat some of the raw fish right then and there.

Okay, so it's a subtle point.

It seems we humans have a strong sense of taste and many of us are quite willing to invest heavily in this.


What is it called when you have conversations going on in your head but you are a non-participating mere spectator of these?

What if one of the "conversations" you are listening to is music? Just the counterpoint of that itself is pleasing to my ears.

I was going to go for a joke with that but it turned all serious/deep on me.


If the U.S. Dollar were to collapse on the world market, the first thing I'd do would be to obtain a patent and copyrights to a kind of local currency which could be used in many of the most common daily transactions. I would be The Mint. This would require a complete change of wardrobe for my part.

Maybe a long white mink coat and a flashy broad-brimmed hat.

But this is Phoenix, so scratch the mink. I wouldn't wear fur anyway. Faux fur is a hundred times more stylish, if worn in the appropriate setting. (If you do a web search for "faux fur nurse scrubs," for example, you get nothing.)

I can't believe I googled that. And my spouse came in with the dogz just as I did so. Busted.

"So, what are you googling?" they asked.


"Faux fur nurse scrubs," I timidly replied.

"Why?" my spouse above all others continued, "Do you want some?"

"Well," I pondered, "No. But I guess what I'm asking is do you think there's some kind of market for "hot nurse uniforms" even on just a costume market? Halloween and holidays? Or maybe for pornography? Aren't people doing this already?"

"Oh I'd bet," spouse above all others said, "And isn't that a wonderful thought."

"Then how would you google it?" I further asked.

Lots of unnaturally blond hair and vinyl here for example but no faux fur. Maybe there is indeed a buck to be made on this.

Christmas Nurse with red faux fur trim on their uniform. Transvestite Nurse with pastels or bolds, depending. Your call on that one. Easter Playboy Bunny Nurse could wear tight satin with faux fur. That worked once, didn't it? Isn't there a new television show coming up which reincarnates this archetype? Valentine's Day Nurse with red white and pink.

"Furry" costumes. I mean, not everyone has the time and skill to fashion their own by themselves.

"Wouldn't faux feathers and boas be a lot easier?" asked my spouse.


Friday, July 29, 2011


Oh my god the drama. A whole lot of cat drama. As in Felis catus.

First came The Arrival of The Kitten. (Cue the recording of Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.)

Simon Mayor - Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba by pattynan

Who came not just to be cute but to conquer. A week or so later one of our beloved old cats passed away quickly but not entirely suddenly. The young person above them all took the loss pretty hard. They had also decided in their own mind that the immediate acquisition of another cat, an adult instead of just a kitten like the one we got a week ago, would be just the thing to do to parlay the sadness of our recent loss. I conceded that when the right cat comes along at the right time, I would make a decision.

A few minutes later my child above them all came running to me with their laptop and plopped it in front of me asking "How about this one?" and I'd shake my head and then they'd skim to another and ask "This one maybe?" and I said that this was happening a little quickly and then they showed me one whose "thirty days were all up tomorrow."


So then came The 18-Pound Siamese Sumo-Cat.

Wow. So the clock was ticking for that one. It turns out that the shelter is "no-kill" so that didn't mean what I thought it meant. Anyways, he's a big, affectionate, loquacious, morbidly obese, swirl-around-your-legs Seal-Point; eight years old. Elderly owners couldn't care for him anymore. He rapidly approaches any human who happens into proximity.

While these adoptions were ongoing I became rather ill-feeling and I missed several days of work. I kept thinking that I was "over it" when another little aspect of sickness would rear up: lower digestive tract, upper, nausea all the while... I went to work more of those days off than not, only to beg off to go back home. Missing work also has this affect on me: it rattles me. I get nerved out about it. Beyond the circumspect loss of time on the job and the absence from possible learning experiences, there is also a formidable feeling of estrangement from the workplace. For me this is not an entirely relaxing emotional position.

Then came another cat issue: The Great Neutering. While fully cognitively accepting the policy of spaying and neutering pets unless you plan on raising them yourself or selling them to other boutique breeders and owners, the child above them all still was emotionally distraught with empathy for the cat's physical suffering after the operation. We would try to allay this for the kitten by asking the veterinarian for a pain medicine we could give the cat at home.

"Then what do they do with them?" the child above them all asked me.

"With what?" I asked.

"With, you know," they said, "Them."

"Oh," I said. "Now I get it. Well, if you want we could give them a decent christian burial," to which I got a scowl in response.

"You're an idiot," my child above them all said before they stomped away.


"So," I asked my spouse, the clever one, "If you were going to take over the entire world, where would you start?"

"Bismarck" they immediately replied.

"You mean Bismarck North Dakota?" I quizzed.

"Yes, that one," the spouse above them all said, as if there were other sorts of Bismarckian geological Earthly planetary surface areas which might be under consideration.

That was the one. The one with the sign and the big yard.

So what followed was an explanation of why Bismarck would be such a great place at which to begin domination of the globe: It's a pushover. Nobody would fight us for it.

"Not even the people that live there?" I asked.

"Nope" my spouse replied, adding "And we won't have to worry about it while we're off taking over the rest of this great green orb."



We were trying to get our heads around it. I pointed out a diagram in a book and said "If space were just two-dimensional, like a plane," I indicated, "Then gravity created by mass would bend the space the way a bowling ball in the middle bends a trampoline surface."

"I'm having a little trouble trying to picture that in three-dimensional space," the child above all others said. I couldn't help much after that.

"Fossils I get," I said.

"Me too," they replied, "You and me and Lucy."


By four-year-old son Julian Lennon.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

For Suddenly

One of my favorite games goes something like this: A Person says Something Wildly Obscure, and then Everybody Else has to Guess What They Really Mean.

It would happen during one of those fleeting moments when a bunch of us have congregated around a focal point. It's at times like that in which I have become accustomed to expect to hear something like this:

"I Am a Wild Bird."

That could go either way. It might flash by in an instant releasing all its energy at once gaining no attraction. Or perhaps it would find a seat on the merry-go-round. (Much more about things like that here.)

Compact Muon Solenoid

Apple should be coming out with a 4G version soon, before the year-end holidays.

"Only 168 days and 12 hours until Christmas!" somebody will say as they stride by while already talking to another person on their cell. Or cells.

At work we nurses generally all carry two phones. That way if one of us is busy on the phone you can still get through to them on their other phone. Sometimes a nurse is walking down the hallway with their hands full of medications and paperwork and both of the nurse's phones ring simultaneously.

This is a common enough occurrence that it no longer attracts sympathy from others. It's part of the air.

After work Thursday night I didn't go home. Spousie had booked a couple of rooms at this lovely local time-machine, the Clarendon Hotel. One for the kid and friends, one room for us. It was a breezy night. The views from the SkyDeck were awesome and the less-intense night air allowed for some outdoor comfort. It was a nice little "staycation." After we checked out we all stayed for breakfast at their groovy little restaurant, Gallo Blanco.

The kidz wolfed down breakfast burritos and pancakes. I had crepas. Which are more-or-less circular.

Circular but somewhat smaller than the Large Hadron Collider.

"When protons arrive in the LHC they are travelling at 0.999997828 times the speed of light. Each proton goes around the 27km ring over 11,000 times a second.

A nominal proton beam in the LHC will have an energy equivalent to a person in a Subaru driving at 1,700 kph."

My spouse drives an Outback with a luggage pod on top.

Apparently we would need to build a somewhat larger particle collider in order to sufficiently expand our testing ability.

"Obviously when we talk about the utility of a particle accelerator for discovering new phenomena, the important quantity is the energy of the beam, not the physical size. But do the two scale together? Roughly, yes." This website spells it all out pretty nicely for interested people like myself who have no formal education in these matters.

"Running a trend line through the data gives us the average relationship between the two parameters, which in this case tells us:

Beam energy = 280.14 x Track length - 652.46

So if the LHC is capable of 7000 GeV and we want 10^15 times that, we're up to 7 x 10^18 GeV. (That's 7000 yotta electron-volts, for those of you keeping track.) Then we just solve the above equation for track length, and the result is roughly 2.5 x 10^16 km, or about 2600 lightyears."

That suggests design difficulties.

From the Iliad:

"For suddenly, just as the men tried to cross,
A fatal bird sign flashed before their eyes,
An eagle clutching a monstrous bloody serpent in both talons,
Still alive, still struggling - it had not lost its fight,
Writhing back to strike it fanged the chest of its captor
Right beside the throat - and agonized by the bites
The eagle flung it away to earth, dashed it down
Amidst the milling fighters, loosed a shriek
And the bird veered off along the gusting wind."

Book 12, lines 230-239

A wounded venomous snake, fangs dripping with the fresh blood of an eagle, falls from the sky and lands among Trojans already at furious battle against the wall which defends the Achaeans' ships.

Yeah, I know; as if things weren't bad enough.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Docendo Discimus

Okay, here's my rant:

I am the oldest and most experienced nurse on my unit. I have myself precepted the vast majority of them. I have a pair of shoes (a nice old set of classic black leather Italians,) that are older than some of the nurses I work with. I have experienced more years of this kind of stress. I have worked in hospitals (not always as a nurse because I was a nurse-aide/unit-secretary/monitor-tech for a while as I plodded through nursing school,) for about 28 years and I work with many nurses who are younger than that.

"Experience" just means I've been down that road before. It may or may have not gone well.

We are a band of about two dozen nurses, "core" staff, who steadily do what we do within our urban area of 3.6 million people.

Most people do not care what we do. I don't take that personally. It's just that it's not my fault if they do not care. So don't blame me because a bunch of assholes decided that it was a good idea to offset tax cuts for the rich by eliminating 200K people from Arizona's AHCCCS rolls.

To the Major Offenders, and you know who you are:

I am paying every kid within three neighborhoods around you to spit their chewed gum into your precious yards. Cash bonuses for those who can lob one farthest.

Now there's a market for that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Nurses Have Said in Pre- and Post-Roosevelt Eras


"You have to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps," and then they would add "Here's some boots. Now get out of here."

In my almost three decades of hospital work I have never heard this spoken by a nurse. It's too raw and essential. So please just consider it as maybe an extract of something that underlies what we find ourselves saying over the course of a typical 13-hour shift. Perhaps one of the many in-the-know technicians we interact with may have overheard something we let slip out.

Some good-natured snark let out at one of the doctors:

"You know what was in that Phoenix Magazine yearly write-up about the best physicians in the valley? Well, Dr. BigSmileySquareHead was listed as one of the best hospitalists."

And the nurse speaking would go on to say "I approached him here about this and asked him how that happened? Like, what universe were the results derived from? Seriously!"

But they would not prevail. Dr. BigSmileySquareHead always has the last word. He isn't just too clever by half. He's two powers many times over of that. (See what I mean?)

OMG I have such a migraine as I write this. The loud-wringing half-a-helmet kind. But I'm almost to the end of Maggie Cole's Goldberg's. Then maybe I can listen to something a little gentler. I generally really like her recordings but the harpsichord sound she derives, however beautifully rhythmically sculptured, on this one is less sweet than is my preference. Maybe it's just the instrument itself, a 1988 Andrew Garlick built in the manner of J.C. Goujon. Two of Goujon's instruments are at the Musee Instrumental Paris, including a double-manual harpsichord.

On the companion disc she puts on display a 1612 Jan Ruckers. I wish I could listen to it immediately but until this headache subsides I just don't have the ears for it.

Oh heck. The Ruckers (perhaps one like this) she plays is a little less jangly. Not treacly though.

Maybe it's the recording itself. It seems to lack some bottom end weight, maybe allowing for the sake of good clarity overall. Then again maybe it's just my head today.

Is there something going on with cigarettes, or rather the control of cigarette advertising? Like pictures on packs? Do you really think that it is worldly possible to contemplate anything that could make smoking seem even more disgusting than it already appears now?


I didn't think so.

Though as a hospital nurse I must declare that I often work with patients with lung disease. So smoke up, people. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

I wish Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, and Bono, to say nothing of Mick Jagger, would all just give it up. Buy homes somewhere where the weather is nice. Urban, but a quiet corner. Maybe in the same Texas subdivision at the end of their own turnaround.

They'd see one another out there with a hose watering their front lawns.

"Hey mate," Bono would say to Bruce,"I'm dashing out in a bit to pick up something for the grill. Can I make it a run for you too?"

"What are you having?" Bruce would ask in reply.

"Danny's cousin's grandmother slaughtered a lamb. He's got it in his store."

"You've had it before?" asks Bruce.

"Yes. You remember, a few months back?" replies Bono.

"Right. That was great stuff. Put me in. I'll get you a few bottles of the stash."

Then they'd each finish watering down the daisies. Except maybe Mick. He'd be snoozing among the blossoms, face down in Keith Richards' vomit.

Am I at the crux of some complex but controlling Wall Street interest upon which swings the balance of profitability and loss? Probably not. I cannot fancy that being so. Yet there seems to be developing some political movement to muffle the voice of many workers. Teachers have been condemned. Firefighters, police, and social workers have also been excoriated. As if any of them as a group or individually had anything at all to do with the recent mortgage-meltdown fandango. In a way, nurses have always been party to this; maybe just because of sexism.

It was a different thing, nursing, back in New York. We were unionized, if only because the New York State Nurses Association itself gave us access to legal representation if we required. That tended to be just a formal process because generally the management genuinely cooperated with the Union.

They even presented this to us during one of the three-year contract renegotiations: Some of our nurses had worked there so long that their yearly pay increases had maxed out. The hospital was in a bit of a budget crunch as usual but they offered us this compromise: The top-tier nurses would begin to receive commensurate yearly pay and benefit increases, but for this year and this year only, by contract, the rest of us would limit our own yearly increases to just two percent.

At that time this may have been considered to be a concession made by the staff nurses. We could have said no.

Our Nursing Administrator told us that she herself was completely foregoing any yearly increase this time around. That was the deal right there. Good move.

I really liked her. I knew her from working at a different hospital. She was a department manager then and I was still working as a hospital nurse aide while finishing up nursing school. It was interesting that we both ended up at the same hospital again, though a different one and in a quite rural setting. There was an X-Ray nurse who also worked with us back then at the same previous hospital, and then an ICU nurse that I worked with there and again.

I honor those people in my own ongoing work.

Funny, the people who move from a college-town styled small city to remote villages north in the mountains. Some just liked outdoor sports. Hikers, rock-climbers, people who hunted and fished, nature photographers, and others whose personal businesses ran upon the influx of tourist money; tourists who came from other regions.

Steven Reich's Different Trains from 1988. I am rather of the highway generation and I have rarely been on trains. At least I do not have any fond or profound memories of being on them. Maybe very long ago.

Every once in a while, no matter the season, we spend a weekend or a long weekend at Juniper Well Ranch. The cabins are within earshot if not all within direct sight of a freight railroad. It's the best Doppler effect; with an almost rainbow-like tonal range, especially at night.

Yet for me (and I suspect many of my generation) trains aren't much more than images and sounds from old movies. Now they're not even that.

My god we got the coolest plants. Six-feet tall; palms. Just two, one on each side of the sliding-glass back door. I love it here. They've always helped us out. I like being around plants. It's as if they make the air appreciably better (which of course they do.)

"I'm not stupid," you'd hear someone say. But it doesn't pick up steam (old metaphor) with enough interest to be introduced into mainstream common workspeak. Maybe just an in-family thing. Or maybe it received an honorable mention on some old sit-com. Steam-stream. Shrimplate! Or stream of steam.



Nursing is often a way of seeing.