Friday, February 28, 2003

Poetry and the Error Message

According to legend, in Japan, computer error messages are written in haiku. Here's a sampling. Better than "404: Page Not Found" or "This program has performed an illegal activity" or some such, hmm?

The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred?

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

(Thanks to Sunny Side Up)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

More Shakespearean Insults

[Thou art] wither'd like an old apple-john.
Thou art a very ragged Wart.
[Thine] breath stinks with eating toasted cheese.
Thou surly ill-nurtured nut-hook!
Thou yeasty fen-sucked puttock!
Thou tottering spur-galled minnow!
Thou frothy idle-headed malcontent!
[Thou art] spacious in the possession of dirt.
[Thy] tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Quote of the Day

"Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it - what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellows. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone."
--Carlos Castanada

Sunday, February 23, 2003


The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

--Wislawa Szymborska

Friday, February 21, 2003

Snow Days

Thoughts on the recent blizzard here in the Northeast:

It’s interesting how the city is transformed into something that feels like a small town by a major snowstorm. People who would never speak to each other under ordinary circumstances feel perfectly at ease exchanging complaints about the weather and other (un)pleasantries. As I was trudging up one street the other day, stepping into other people’s deep footprints and navigating narrow channels through the snow, an Asian (Indian? Pakistani?) man with a shovel in his hand smiled at me and said, “Mother Nature’s fury!” “Yeah!” I said. I couldn’t think of anything witty to say in response, but I appreciated the moment of connection . . . . I often wonder how immigrants from warmer climes—the sub-continent or Puerto Rico or Central America—can stand the winter weather here. They must feel like they’ve moved to the polar ice cap.


The city decided it had to clear the inundated street outside, block by block, using bulldozer scoops and dump trucks. Well and good, but what to do about all the parked cars on the street (including mine) still covered with the snow that the city’s plows had piled around and on top of them? “They” decided to tow the cars out of the way while the scoops did their work, then return them to their previous parking spaces. According to the local newspaper, they photographed the cars first to ensure that they were returned to the proper places. If so, they didn’t pay much attention to their Polaroids. My car was left in a bus stop up the street. The kicker: I got a $29 ticket for parking there.

“Silver-white winters that melt into spring, these are a few of my favorite things.” Not.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Quote of the Day

"[Michael Jackson] is like Saddam Hussein. He hasn't done anything in 10 years, and suddenly we're attacking him again."
--Bill Maher, on The Tonight Show

(Thanks to Words Mean Things)

Proud to be an introvert!

Us quiet, contemplative types don't get any respect. Read all about our "misunderstood and aggrieved" group in Caring for Your Introvert.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Quote of the Day

"The letters and journals we leave behind and the impressions we have made on our contemporaries are the mere husk of the kernel of our essential life. When we die, the kernel is buried with us. This is the horror and pity of death and the reason for the inescapable triviality of biography."
--Janet Malcolm

Monday, February 17, 2003

A Dish of Dirt

Rather than wasting your precious time reading Liz Smith's column or The National Enquirer (not that you would, of course), you can click on the random celebrity rumor generator. It's probably at least as truthful as the tabloids. Sample juicy tidbits: "Elton John made a pass at Barbara Bush much to everyone's excitement." "Prince ran a meth lab with Mister Rogers and still brags about it constantly." You heard it here first, folks!

(Thanks to in my diatribe.)

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Quote of the Day

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing."
--Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Anti-War Haiku

Bells toll as trees sigh;
they weep leaves where soldiers fell;
stream flows where blood ran

--Christopher T. George

morning of bombing
amid apple-tree blossom
scent of kerosene

--Serge Tomé

Find more at: Anti-War Haiku Wall

Friday, February 14, 2003

This just in . . . .

Trapeze Artist Attacks Rival with Castration Tongs

And you thought you had problems?

English as a Second Language

There is something irresistibly charming about the fractured English of some Japanese folks (to me, anyway). You'll find plenty of such scrambled syntax at Natsuko has a weblog!, the home page of Natsuko Murakami. Here's a small sampling:

"My English still it is not complete and therefore I practiced and began this webpage. The Blogging is large! Enjoy my place! . . . . Everything which I can say is as follows: What a Cute! is good, being for the sake of being here, you become like me, but, the fact that I am loved must be learned! Hard!"

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

My Life, My Duct Tape

I've been advised to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape, just in case a chemical warhead explodes somewhere in the vicinity. (I live near a major Northeastern megalopopolitanapolis that is, in fact, favored by terrorists.) Plastic sheeting is in short supply around here, but duct tape is no problem--I'm always well supplied, as I have a near fetish about the stuff. Every winter, I tape up the condo's drafty windows with white duct tape, and many of the tiles in our bathroom are held in place with it. (We're saving up to remodel the bathroom, needless to say. Meanwhile, waterproof duct tape is literally holding our walls up).

Those are just two of the many practical uses for this amazingly versatile adhesive. I've even been known to hem my trousers with duct tape. It works--sticks--until you wash them, at least.

There are all sorts of other fun uses for the stuff. A girl I once knew in my salad days was a real blabbermouth, and I threatened to tape her mouth shut one afternoon. She loved the idea (having perhaps seen too many movies about kidnap victims). I taped her up, and she enjoyed going "mmm, mmmm" for an hour or so, while shaking her head and rolling her eyes. I taped her wrists and ankles, too, at her request. Childish fun!

Go out an get a roll. You can never have too much.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Quote of the Day

John: Everyone always talks about a good thing coming to an end, as if life was over.
Paul: Ends are beginnings and beginnings are ends.
Ringo: This is the end of the beginning.
George: Well it's always the end of the beginning isn't it? Play the game existence till the end of the beginning.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

This Space for Rent

It seems like we see advertisments everywhere today. Well, not everywhere. The human body--except for T-shirts and baseball caps, of course--has always been advertising free. Until now, that is:

Getting a "head" in advertising

Marx said that, under capitalism, everything would eventually become commodified. He may have been right on that point . . . .

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Haiku 142

While I stand and dream
A pirate buries his gold
As the sunlight shifts

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Write Stuff

Here's a site that offers a variety of free text tools. You can insert text and then automatically remove carriage returns, change all upper case to upper and lower case, convert your deathless prose to HTML, etc. cOULd bE A reaL TiMe sAveR.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

For The Birds

I took my wife and 12-year-old son to see Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds last weekend. A local theater, Loews Jersey, a restored 1920s "movie palace," was showing a new, "archival quality" Technicolor print of the film. It was gorgeous! You would have thought it was filmed yesterday, not in 1963. The special effects are crude by today's digital standards, but the movie builds up a huge amount of suspense (after a slow start). Everyone who sees this film wonders why the birds attack. There's no definitive answer, though I think it has something to do with nature's revenge on people who cling to unnatural relationships. My son had an interesting theory: He thinks the birds were angry because the characters in the film were smoking too many cigarettes!

Monday, February 03, 2003

Poem for a winter's day

My poem, The Thaw, has just been published by Red River Review.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Homeless man with a website

Check out the I hate my life website. This guy--an unemployed writer, he says--claims to be living in his car, and I believe him. (Do you?) You might wonder how a truly homeless person could have a website, but he says he uses computers in public libraries and that a website designer volunteered to create his site. Whether or not he's actually homeless, he offers plenty of information about coping with that unfortunate condition.