Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Joys of Home Ownership

I should have known that our heater/boiler would choose the coldest weather in three years to attempt suicide. And it would be an "advanced, high efficiency" Hydropulse unit that almost no one knows how to fix. And the one service technician in this area who knows how would be so pissed off at me that he won't come and fix it--supposedly because I wasn't home when he came the last time, though he came two hours after he said he would. So it's cosy up to the space heater while I search for another company that can cope with the thing. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on . . . .

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

More Poetry Outtakes


A previous incarnation lurks on the stairway.
Touches you gently
For the first time in ages.
And you don't seem to mind much
As long as it's dark.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Monday, January 27, 2003

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes a single recollected moment lights up the sky of memory and brings it all back. The mind's eye fills with broken sunlight and soiled rain. Pieces of time assemble, counting off, strung along the pulse, in breaths in heartbeats. It's all burned in; the dream's inseparable from the dreamer."

--by Robert Stone, From the "Introduction" to Bruce Weigl's Song of Napalm

Friday, January 24, 2003

Rules for Writing

I've learned a few things as a writer (a list from Usenet):

1... Avoid alliteration. Always.
2... Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3... Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat.)
4... Employ the vernacular.
5... Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6... Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7... It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
8... Contractions aren't necessary
9... Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
10.. One should never generalize.
11.. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
12.. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
13.. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary;
it's highly superfluous.
14.. Profanity sucks.
15.. Be more or less specific.
16.. Understatement is always best.
17.. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
18.. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19.. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20.. The passive voice is to be avoided.
21.. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
22.. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
23.. Who needs rhetorical questions?

Another thing I've learned: rules were made to be broken (if you have a good enough reason).

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Quote of the Day

My cousin just died. He was only 19. He got stung by a bee, the natural enemy of a tightrope walker.
--Dan Rather

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Hollyweird's Small World

No doubt you've heard of "six degrees of separation," the notion that any person in the world can be linked to any other through a chain of--at most--six acquaintances. Hollywood is a much smaller domain, of course. According to The Oracle of Bacon, almost any actor who has appeared in a feature film can be linked to any other via only two or three connections--one of which is Kevin Bacon. Don't believe me? Go to the site and type in the name of the most obscure film actor you can think of.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Conspiracy or coincidence?

There's something strange about the prevalence of the number 37 throughout history.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Quote of the Day

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction . . . . The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Walking uphill

In the 1970s, I had a pair of "earth shoes." Remember them? They were shoes with negative heels that were supposedly better for your feet and posture. If I recall correctly, they were comfortable--but took some getting used to and were weird looking. (Though they weren't nearly as far-out as some 70s fashions.) Take a look at The (Unofficial) Earth Shoe Page if you want to know more. Apparently, you can still find them for sale if you look hard enough.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Mind your ABCs

Omniglot - a guide to written language showcases alphabets from languages around the world--some of which are stunningly beautiful. I've been doing a lot of handwriting in my journal lately, and I wish my chicken scratches looked half as good (and legible) as the letters, hieroglyphs, kanji and runes displayed on this site. You can download free fonts, too.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Nice work if you can get it

Here's the story of Leif Ueland, a self-described "sensitive male" with feminist leanings, who was hired to write a book called Accidental Playboy--all about a six-month bus trip he took while documenting Playboy's search for the "Playmate of the Millennium." (He ended up sleeping with two of the contenders.)

A Feminist's Arduous Task

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

More poetry outtakes


You imagine a knock at the door

The nowhere man
Just wants a few moments of your time
Even if you aren't
quite sure who you are . . . .
And it doesn't have to make sense

This could be the start of something big

Monday, January 13, 2003

Strange days indeed . . .

Old question: What did you do in the war, Daddy?

New answer: I pocketed a large tax cut, honey.


And then I passed the bill for the war onto you.

The above is from a Los Angeles Times article about the, shall we say, novel idea of cutting taxes in wartime.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Quote of the Day

Causa Belli

They read good books, and quote, but never learn
a language other than the scream of rocket-burn.
Our straighter talk is drowned but ironclad:
elections, money, empire, oil and Dad.

--Andrew Motion

Motion is Britain's poet laureate. "Causa belli" is latin for "causes, motives or pretexts of war." Quoted in Guardian Unlimited, Motion said, "I do believe that, if there are weapons of mass destruction discovered in Iraq, something needs to be done. There is no compelling evidence yet. It may still come to light, in which case the picture changes. This is not a poem about whether we should go to war. We can't decide that because we don't yet know whether there are weapons. It's a poem about wishing to be more candid."

Friday, January 10, 2003

Quote of the Day

Easy reading is damn hard writing.
--Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Messy desk, messy mind? No.

If you're a "knowledge worker" feeling guilty about all the clutter on your desk, you can stop now. Psychologists say the "mess" actually constitutes a useful "mental map" of what's going on in that busy little head of yours. At least that's what this article claims:

In praise of clutter

Monday, January 06, 2003

Quote of the Day

Forgive me my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense
of those who think they talk sense. -- Robert Frost

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Are they here or not?

All the talk of cloning and "Raelians" (R-rated aliens?) lately has once again raised the mysterious subject of UFOs. (It never entirely goes away, of course.) This extrordinarily perplexing topic is made more extraordinarily perplexing by being monopolized by believers and unbelievers. If only some disinterested parties--scientists and (perhaps) philosophers--who are neither threatened by the idea of superior "aliens" nor desperate to prove they exist would look into the phenomenon, maybe we'd learn something surprising. Unfortunately, the whole subject has been so mired in media ridicule and ignorance that any objective person who looks into it risks career suicide. Greg Sandow, a journalist who doesn't specialize in this topic, seems to be one of the brave few who is willing to do so. His website makes for some fascinating reading:

Greg Sandow -- UFO Site

Friday, January 03, 2003

The Good Virus?

As a recent victim of the Klez pest, it surprised me to read the following article: The gift of virus.

It seems that viruses--in addition to propagating like cancers and destroying software--can bring people together. Unfortunately, I didn't have such a happy experience with Klez. (I'm cured but still cleaning up the mess.)

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Quote of the Day

" need to stop, sit down, think, question yourself, look at your actions and ponder what you've become. And how somehow love for your side in the fight became hatred for the other.

"Let me be very candidly specific. ...You need to get a good psychologist and a good holy man or woman, a priest or rabbi or minister--or how about all three--and figure out why you're turning everything in your life into politics. Because I have to tell you what I know: Politics is the biggest, easiest way in all of America to avoid looking at yourself, and who you are, and what fence needs fixing on your own homestead."
--Peggy Noonan (not someone I'd ordinarily quote; I wonder if she takes her own advice.)
Thanks to Hullabaloo.