Nature vs Nurture

British child psychologist Lyn Fry, an expert on feral children, has travelled to Ukraine to meet a girl brought up by dogs.

23-year-old Oxana Malaya from a village in Ukraine is a feral child, one of only about 100 known in the world. When she was three, her alcoholic parents left her outside one night and she crawled into a hovel where they kept dogs. No one came to look for her or even seemed to notice she was gone, so she stayed where there was warmth and food.

Kerfuffle. Is that even a word?

I am reminded of two things today:

1. Misery loves company.  Misery should be more considerate.  Company might have enough on its plate that dealing with misery is a little too much.

2. I give people way too much credit sometimes.  I’ve noted repeatedly that I consistently expect the worst and hope for the best; I would like to be the hopeless idealist and keep the worst furthest from my mind, but time and again, people knock me back to my senses and remind me that the worst is a good thing to expect.

Yes, vague again.  Because something that is not my problem — not even peripherally — has become my problem.  And the reactions to said problem are so totally opposite of what I would do (and what I would hope any and all of my friends would do) that I am left speechless.

Sigh.  Cause and effect.  Actions and consequences.  Accountability.

Cherish that last quality when you find them in people, folks, because it is far rarer than I would wish.

It’s far easier to imagine and create scenarios in your head than to accept responsibility for your life, I know. But guess what?  It does you no good, in the short term or long.

This, too, shall pass.  But damn, did it have to come my way in the first place?

The Year of Living Dangermousely

You would not be completely out of place to question my sobriety, based purely on listening to the voices in my head that get heard on this site. Many of my actions seem hasty, brash, and unconsidered.

But I’ve not gotten this far in my life without learning a few tricks.  I’m adaptable, and my overly analytical side does have its benefits. If I was capable of long-term strategizing, I’d be a brilliant chess player; sadly, while I can run through the possibilities (what we computer programmers might think of as a tree search) faster and more completely than is apparent on the surface, I haven’t the patience to consider the statistical odds of a given board position eighteen moves down the lines.

When considering an action, I ponder the best and worst possible consequences, as well as the most likely (always somewhere in the middle).  Once you’ve realized the worst-case scenario, you simply decide: is the reward you gain from your action worth the highest potential cost to yourself? If so, take the action (with the caveat that you have to accept the outcome gracefully and graciously; do everything with dignity, even eating humble pie).

And I follow my gut, that feeling that simultaneously resides at the base of your skull and in the pit of your stomach.  Logic and reason are wonderful, and help in the measuring game outlined above, but all the animals that came before us on this earth have survived so much longer than us on instinct. It’s a powerful tool that we are too often wrongly taught to ignore.

It’s good that I am adaptable, because the specifics of my life introduce a lot of change.  I’m not complaining; after all, it’s largely by choice.  A simple twist here and there on my lifestyle, and I become just another fish caught up in the tide, floating wherever it takes me, sedentary and simple.

Sometimes the changes are spread out, considerate of the rest of the things on my mind.  Sometimes they come hard and fast, an onslaught, one after another with no end in sight.  When it rains, it pours.  But that’s life, and you do the best you can to roll with the punches while considering the best way out with as little damage to yourself as possible.  And that’s in the worst case scenario; I much prefer the situations where I am trying to maximize the good, as opposed to minimizing the negative.

Sitting on your hands and worrying, stressing, crying or screaming at the gods with shaking fists does nothing except make you feel worse.  It doesn’t stop the change, it doesn’t make things better, it doesn’t heal the wounds or fix what is broken.  You have to figure out what is within your realm of control and what is out of your hands, and then you have to accept that those things are what they are.  Clint Eastwood’s crusty Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge put it in my head in my teens: “Improvise.  Adapt.  Overcome.”

It always seemed honorable to me, and still does.

It’s not change that I have issues with; it’s the changing, often the initiation thereof, that is the worst.  My moments with CL are far better than I could ever have hoped for with a girlfriend, but I could never have gotten here without the divorce.  And yeah, the divorce process itself sucked, and there were a lot of moments of pain involved, but once the transition was done, I realized that Point B was no worse than Point A, and probably even better, in some ways.  Alternate (and far less poetic) analogy: I can’t wait to move, to be in my new apartment with hardwood floors and air-conditioning and bathroom light that works, but the packing and unpacking and address changing and utility switchover and seemingly infinite trips up and down stairs with boxes in hand may be my new least favorite activity ever.

Change is good.  It keeps life from becoming dull without introducing the need for drama or man-made excitement. And it’s a big part of life.  It pays to learn to deal with it, if not to enjoy it.  And, if all else fails, drinking heavily is both a good painkiller and scapegoat for your decisions.

Hey, I never said I wasn’t drunk.

I’m not waving, just drowning…

Words may be light from me this week.  I’m under a real-world deadline, a freelance deadline or three, and I’m trying to finish packing and start moving.  But you can take small solace in the fact that I have lots of funny stories to tell, one day.



Past bleeding into eye (scabrilogue)

Getting ready for my upcoming move, I ran across a bunch of old journals that I’ve kept over the years.  I had picked them up with the intention of finding old story ideas and lyrical abortions that I know I wrote down off and on (but still can’t find, damn it).

What I got was a good couple of laughs at my own expense and a miniature bonfire.

I dig around here on the site occasionally, doing random keyword searches, and I have little twinges of horror at my own thoughts; I find that this sort of honesty, out here for the whole world to see, forces a stronger sense of self-examination.  Knowing that anyone can call bullshit on me for whatever goes on in my head gives me no choice but to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate not only my actions but the thought processes behind them.

The casual discomfort I sometimes feel reading over my old stuff on here is utterly incomparable to what I felt reading those journals.  Analogous to watching Scary Movie with the lights on, and then living through The Exorcist and The Shining.

Sensory crossover

The idea of synaesthesia has always fascinated me — the very real and quantifiable experiencing of sensory crossover. Sounds experienced as colors, colors experienced as varying degrees of hot and cold, shapes carrying different scents.

There is a little synaesthesia in each of us, even the ones without synaptic misfirings. Or perhaps there is simply a natural bleed across our senses; we have all experienced sensations that are too intense (bright lights, loud noises, or even touches or tastes that are overwhelmingly strong).  We describe both sounds and touch as soft, tastes and touches as light and delicate, sights and sounds as loud.

This doesn’t even touch on the idea that I have that there are other senses that aren’t counted in the common five, like empathy, or perhaps even (if you are willing to consider outside alternatives) telepathy.  And those, too, can be considered similar to the other senses in that they are tickled by outside stimuli, and that it is through them that we experience and receive messages about the world around us.

Why shouldn’t there be alternates?  We don’t possess sonar, which is an alien translation of sound into sight.  We don’t possess the ability to distinguish between scents like animals, leaving us unable to smell fear and even pheromones.

The ascription of only human traits to the entire realm of possibility is small-minded, and a large part of the reason that science-fiction is mostly dull to me.

This idea of synaesthesia has occasionally crept into my mind when poking around with a creative process.  I’m particularly intrigued with the concept of opening up new avenues in one medium by applying techniques from another (in my case, one with which I’m more familiar).

For instance, I’ve got plenty of experience with audio, and can understand the underpinnings of audio effects like delay, chorusing, phasing (both of the latter are just shortened extensions of the first), distortion, fitering, etc.   And all of these are present in some way in video — there is echoing, creating ghost trails of what you’ve seen, and noise filtering, and tweaking the color balance.  For someone who doesn’t have a thorough knowledge of the theory that underlies one or the other, though (my visual academic background lags far behind my aural), it seems like this approach might unlock some creative barriers, at least for those seeking a new and fresh perspective.

If you were listening to me say all this, my words would probably carry the distinctive odor of insanity. Or shit; I’m not sure how different the two are, but I imagine they’re at least distinct.

Happy Burpday Little One


Dear Kate,

20 years ago today, I held your tiny little body in my arms.

Okay, that’s a blantant lie. I was at summer camp at Duke being smart and making out with a hot blonde nerd girl on the day you were born. But a week later, I did come home and poke at your fontanel to see if I could feel the ridges of your tiny postfetal headmeat.

I don’t think it had any permanaent effects. Do you?

Happy burpday, little one. I love you and miss you, and hope that Kansas is treating you well.

P.S. I know she acts all innocent and mature, but Mandy’s the one who told me about fontanels in the first place, and threatened to slit my throat in my sleep if I didn’t poke your soft spots repeatedly. So there.

Litterbug? Litterinsect? Litterarachnid?

Brilliant little piece of satire from our friends at

You get about the city by means of the aforementioned “webslinging.” And it’s fantastic to watch. It always amazes me when I hear nearby police sirens and there’s an audible gasp from everyone on the sidewalk. I look up and there you are swinging away. Used to take my breath away, Spiderman. But then one day, about a week into my tenure as a sanitation worker, I started asking myself all these crazy questions, like, “What happens to those web lines of his? Do they dissolve right away? Are they dangerous if left alone? Who has to clean them up?” It turns out I do…