Shadows of new dimensions

If you haven’t read FLATLAND by Edwin Abbot, it’s worth a read, especially from a physics/philosophical (philosophysical?) perspective.  This is the sort of thing that I love to have float through my headmeat when I’ve got time to ponder it.  You start thinking about things like this that are just too big to hold onto, and soon enough you start feeling like you’re on the edge of some bigger truth, just past the horizon.

And when stuck in these moments, it makes me sad that there is no more Carl Sagan around, to put it into words that the rest of us can understand and appreciate:


Send in the Clowns

or, Fun With Facebook and Twitter!


3:29 PM If I had kids, I would buy them lots of dolls to play with.


3:30 PM They would have so many dolls, they would be the envy of the neighborhood children.


3:33 PM One day, their dolls would rise up and kill us all (probably to the strains of Dokken in the background, to be all ironical and stuff).

* we’re talking Rottin’ With Dokken, y’all.


3:34 PM And then they would have to go live in an Orphanage in Spain. Because that’s what my will would say. The end. Thank you for quietly enjoying my storytime for damaged souls.

8140 3:57 PM For all those who have withdrawn previous unspoken offers of babysitting employment, I can only say one thing.

4:48 PM Now available for long term childcare and kid’s birthday parties.

Beautiful, beautiful! Magnificent desolation.

Why is it that we cling to horror (9/11: “Never Forget!”) but relinquish the victories? How many people understand the importance of 7/20? Sadly, I suspect, fewer every year.  Mine is possibly the last generation to appreciate the magnitude of the technological leap humankind made between the Orville Brothers’ first flight and July 20, 1969. For thousands of years, mankind dreamed of flight; finally discovered, it took only seven plus decades to extend that dream to a rock where no man had ever walked before.

Never before.

And sadly, very few times afterward.

Take a few minutes out of your day and educate yourselves on one of the few things in my lifetime (I know, a few years early) that we as a species have gotten right and can celebrate without regret.


Wikipedia entry on Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon

Apollo 11 facts often get twisted out of shape in the retelling

After 40 years, get the back story behind that ‘one small step’

Bring on the Haha

Today’s goal for you — and I don’t refer to Friday, July 17, as today, but rather whatever day you are reading this; and by you, I mean you and everyone you can manipulate through licit or not means — is to find some laughter on the web, share some of what you find with others, and maybe — just maybe — recommend something to make me laugh.

For instance:


This is Questionable Content. Much like PVP below, and below that Something Positive, it can be best to start from the very first one and move your way forward.  QC is sometimes hit and miss with me, but when it hits, it’s second only to…

If XKCD doesn’t make you laugh, then you really have no business reading anything I write, or listening to me.  I can spend hours once a month rereading the entire batch of comics.  His arc involving Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau from Firefly is quite possibly my favorite ever.

pvp20090619Nerd alert!!! PVP is another one that you really should take from the beginning and move forward.  There’s a lot of inside jokes and self-reference.  (And amazingly, for me especially, PVP is mostly innocent fun — especially compared to what I’m about to share with you)

Oh, wait. I lied.  There’s actually a tie for first place:

sp06122009Something Positive is awesomefuckingtastic. Go to the beginning and don’t stop reading until you’ve read all the way up to current day, or until your eyeballs have exploded from the strain of staring at a screen for days without rest. It’s so good that I was going to pick a favorite, and going back only a month had found eight that are worth sharing.  So I picked one at random.

Fun fact: my iPod just started transitioned from the snarky wit of Weezer to the soul-devouring crush of Dimmu Borgir.  And so I give you:

car2corsetAfter you’ve finished reading through the Cyanide and Happiness archives, you’ll be speechless, affectless, and probably broken, the same way that abused teenage runaway girls never really recover and have normal sex lives, no matter how much their boyfriends do right for them and treat them like queens and buy them everything they’ve ever wanted.  The weeks stretch on, and just when you think it’ll be okay to maybe try something a little new and exciting, you get blamed for wrecking years of therapy, and then her older brothers — who were also abused, you suspect — start threatening you, and you have to move to Alabama and assume a new identity.

You’ll have to show the judge on the little dolly where C&H touched you, is what I’m getting at.

My disorders love abbreviations

I’ve never been officially diagnosed with it, but a doctor acquaintance of mine pointed this out to me, suggestioning that there’s a strong probability that I have delayed sleep phase syndrome (Make some room, CIDP, for DSPS).  All my adult life, I’ve lived about six hours off from the normal world, going to sleep about 4 AM and waking around noon (left to my own devices, I should note — I currently go to bed around 3 AM and wake around 6:45 or 7 AM during the week).   Wives and relatives would insist that I could fix that (and I did notice that there are treatments, by the way), as though it was a conscious decision.  But I’ve always felt at my mental peak around 10 or 11 PM — at least, creatively — so it seemed to me that it was much less in my control than everyone else thought.

And now I know that, like 3 out of every 2000 people, I’m another kind of freak, probably.  But vindication feels good, so I’ll savor that for a while, while the rest of you are dreaming of sugarplums and clowns with big pointy teeth.

Maybe one day, when I’m old and gray (god, I wish I had more gray hair than I do…), and can no longer function on 3-4 hours of sleep a ‘night’, I’ll look into some of those treatments.  For now, though, I’ll keep on, if only to point more people to Wikipedia so I can do my Good Lord You So Wrong dance.

I should patent that, now that I think about it.  Especially since I can’t dance.

The dying days of a vacation

Last week’s vacation started well enough.  CL and I went to North Carolina for a few days  to visit my parents (and help finish the basement by installing base boards so the carpet could be installed), and then I managed to spend the last part of last week (proper) catching up on a ton of freelance work for friends and clients.

Then Friday came.

It started as well as could be expected, but around 9 PM I started receiving texts that a friend was missing from work and not answering his phone.  His boss and I headed over to his place — fortunately, we were slow enough at the bar that I could leave for an hour, since I’m apparently the only person outside of his family that can find his house — where we found him passed out.  From, it was no surprise, taking a lot of pills.

I’ll skip further details, to protect the guilty and somewhat stupid.  Suffice to say that we — the boss and I — saved his life, and he’s now resting in a hospital nearby.

Maybe that whole thing made me just angry enough to cope with Saturday, though. I awoke to CL’s 24,000 year old dog making yelps of pain that — at least in the Hangover Chamber that was filling in for my skull — didn’t seem to end.  24,000 is, of course, an exagerration; Woody was only 24, as best as we can figure (he was rescued from the side of the road, and according to the vets then, he was between 4 and 6 years old — that was 18 years ago).  After checking email, drinking a soda and smoking a cigarette — I may be wrong about the time slots and what filled them, as my brain doesn’t function fully for the first hour or two of being awake — CL decided that maybe it was time to let Woody go, that he was suffering and needed to be put to sleep. She wasn’t comfortable at all with the idea of losing him, much less being responsible for it, so I volunteered to take him to the vet. I promised her too that I would stay with him through the process.

Two things stand out about the next hour: one was how absolutely terrible Woody smelled.  I’ve noticed this for the past year, but seriously, I can’t do justice to how bad it had gotten (mostly because I knew better than to get too near him and breathe).  Carrying him in to the vet, though, I couldn’t avoid being breathed on.

And I know I’m not spupposed to speak ill of the dead, but really, it’s just fact that when your dog is a zombie, or has been buried in a Pet Semetary, there’s gonna be some stink.  Just saying.

But, having never had a pet put to sleep, I wasn’t prepared for what came next.  In my past, all animals die horrible, violent deaths, complete with death rattle (it’s a real thing, and something I hope none of you ever has to witness).  This, though, was sort of enviable: a simple shot of sedative, that put Woody to sleep, followed by a replaced syringe of something (potassium, my guess) that stopped his heart.  No pain, no anguish, just a release from whatever pain was wracking his 106 year old (converted, of course) body.

I remember thinking that by choosing the time and releasing him from suffering, I had somehow beaten God.  Which is funny, since I don’t believe in God.

And so I include in my How I Spent My Summer Vacation saving one life and taking responsibility for ending another. Talk about balance.

It’s probably fortunate (and karmic) that CL takes all this so much harder than me.  I’m really okay with all of it and more — the universe unfolds as it should.  But that line of thought draws funny looks from people who are probably thinking about the progression from killing pets to starting fires to Jeffrey Dahmer, so I can just let CL talk and hide in the background.

And for the record, I’m still freaked out by dead bodies.  Once I released that I was still petting Woody (even after his heart had stopped beating), I had a moment of pure panic that somehow got restrained.  Not sure how, but also not questioning it.

Just to be on the safe side, anyone who knows me might want to be really careful over the next few days, though.  I’m apparently carrying a bit of the anti-Midas touch these days…