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{Monday, December 30, 2002}

A very late post for "Sooo, what'dja get"

"Sooooo, what'dja get?"

“I’m not sure. Every year Uncle Cid sends something kind of odd. I thought they were motorcycle goggles at first but when I put them on everything looked really weird.”

"Weird how?”

“Well, it’s kind of hard to describe, I mean, like, I guess, you know, more colorful, more intense. And, just cooler.”

“Huh uh. So what do you think they’re for?”

“Not sure. They might be for some sort of relaxation therapy or something. I certainly felt more relaxed after wearing them but at the same time kind of wired. In fact I’ve been on-line chatting with some guy in China for the past 18 hours. In Mandarin.”

“You speak Chinese?”

“No. No I don’t.”

“So what’d he send last year?”

“Um, I think it was some sort of futuristic hookah. Well, that’s what it looked like anyhow, we use it to water the plants but it also acts as some kind of GPS only more so.”

“What do you mean?”

“It has a range of about 6 light years.”

“Hee, okaaaay.”

“Yeah, Uncle Cid’s an odd one.”

“The year before that he sent me the complete works of Hesse. All first edition German versions. Signed. Dedicated to Cid personally.”

“The year before that he had the Gyuto Monks show up at our apartment and chant.”

“Wow, cool”

“For three days. Man, the neighbors were pissed.”

“Just what exactly does your Uncle Cid do for a living anyhow?”

“I’m not sure, he’s pretty vague about that.”

by Shawn 6:28 PM

{Thursday, December 26, 2002}


She was looking at me in that way. You know what I mean. That way. I could tell right away that she wanted to get to know me, and not the superficial me; the real me, the one who lurks just beneath the surface. Today, though, he was right on top. I woke up looking good. I don't know how else to put it. My hair looked good. My skin was clear. My usually wrinkled laugh-lines were strangely, welcomely absent. I felt like I'd lost ten pounds and had a solid, hard workout the day before. I looked good.
So I ambled over to her, she still staring at me. Dead at my chest, you know how women do. I put my purchase on the conveyor belt, way at the back. I am nothing if not flirtatious. I let them sit there for a second until the belt came on, and walked up slowly to the register, following the hand soap and nachos-in-a-box. A bachelor's groceries, clearly and unmistakably.
She was still staring at my chest, but lifted her delicate eyes momentarily to meet mine. She looked away quickly. Ahhh. Shy. I know the type. This should be fun. I leaned on the check-writing surface, and waited for her to scan my items.
"Eight-fif-tee." I didn't like her voice, but that didn't matter. You could always not listen to them. Even the funniest-sounding dame could be forgiven if she looked good enough and was interested enough. This girl had both. I handed her a ten, picked up my bag, and started for the door. Three, two, one.
"Excuse me, sir?" Bingo.
"Yes, little lady?"
"You forgot your change; hee hee hee." Bad laugh, too. Still, she was cute.
I nodded a thank you, and started to turn again. Two, one.
"Is that a real space pen in your pocket."
Damn. "Why, yes it is."
"Ooooh, i love them." She started off on some ramble about the pen. The pen. I should have known it wasn't me. I bowed out as soon as I could. No sense in sticking around there. I mean, she wasn't that cute, and she wasn't after me.
Next time, then.

by MisterNihil 11:59 PM

it started four weeks ago last monday. i was on my way to work after crunching through a government exam when my car overheated and died. actually, it started almost five weeks ago today. i was driving carelessly through the parmer lane HEB when a woman hit me on the side, forcing my seventeen-year-old car to limp home. you know, it started more than thirteen months before that. i was driving on i-35 in the middle of morning "rush" hour on the way to school when my 1994 red nissan pickup plowed into the back of a giant black ford truck, which careened into the ford fiesta in front of him. no.. it started nine months before that. the great ice storm of 2001. i dropped my sister off at school and was heading to school myself, after classes had been postponed until noon, when the car in front of me swerved to avoid an accident and i caused one. it was the first (but not the last) car i'd total. truly, it started five months before that, when i got my license. i suppose it's only fair to say that it all started exactly a year and a week before that, on my sixteenth birthday, when i proudly announced that i was not going to get my driver's license. this pride i had created for myself put me into a new field, one where i was superior to the common earth-hating driving masses. i had no need for the metal horses that others in my age group fawned over. i was better than they were. really, i wasn't.

i turned out to be an awful driver.

so when my third car in two years died, after seven accidents in those same two years, i was resigning myself to a life of mass transportation. for a month, i had ridden on my bike to everything i needed to do, save school. i had gotten rides wherever i needed to go, and was only occasionally inconvenienced. it suited me, but the siren song of those mobile autos called me, and (especially) my dad got tired of my shit. so i scoured the ads, called on cars, but nothing seemed to work for me. i would fall in and out of love with cars that had more than a few problems but were just my price. i thought it would go on like this forever, until i was riding my bike to the library and found a car less than a mile from my house. i called the number, test drove it that weekend, and bought it (with financial help from my grandparents) the day before christmas. i received a lot of awesome gifts the next day -- and i was happy, but i drove home in the best gift of all.

imagine: independence in a nice shiny package.

by rocketo 11:38 PM

Sooo... What'dja get?

by Sharon 1:44 PM

{Wednesday, December 25, 2002}

—Hey, Nick.

—Joe. Coffee?

—Two sugars, no milk. How's the back?

—Can't complain. Another year over, eh?

—Or just beginning. I think I gained some ground this year.

—That's sweet, Joe. Keep believing in the human spirit; it warms my heart.

—That's a good cup of coffee; thanks. No, really, people are nervous lately. They're looking for solace. The threat of war is good for spiritualism.

—So is a weak economy, I know. Still, you can't fight the American Dream: Consumerism!

—That's a little harsh.

—Harsher than what they do to each other? Harsher than fighting over land and misunderstandings and money? They're worthless, the whole lot of them.

—I know you better than that, Nick. You still love them.

—Deserve a big lump of coal, every one.

—I brought you a present.

—Me? Heh. Nobody gives me presents.

—I know. Open it.

—What is it?

—A small box with a shiny bow. Open it.

—But I didn't get you anything.

—That's okay; I'm Jewish. Open the box, Nick.

—What's this... "Hope"?

—Hang onto that a little longer, old friend. But don't forget.

—What, Joe?

—Christmas Day is still mine.

by Sharon 10:39 AM

Christmas Day is mine!

by Sharon 2:00 AM

{Tuesday, December 24, 2002}


“We are the Most Extremist Supremest of Courts,” said the rat-faced man with the Teflon suit and the air of unapologetic hatred he wore proudly on his sleeve. “These are the times to fear nothing but what we can do for our country,” said he.

The others, white men all, even those that were women, black and Hispanic all shuffled their tiny feet, cleared their rusty throats and agreed with a cacophony of “hrmmphs” “amens” and “Hear, hears”.

“Ours are the laws that will try men’s souls, and try as we might we’ll try as we may,” offered the elderly southern gentleman from the great state of the Union.

A diplomat from the Kingdom of Assumed Risk smiled a yellowy innocent smile and handed out money with a hardy, “Well done, well done.” He smelled of smoke and advertising.

A gravitationally challenged man with bad hair and an attitude to match pounded his righteously indignant fist on his righteously indignant palm and insisted, “Rules are meant to be broken as long as guidelines are followed and money changes hands. Can I get an amend?”

“Amend,” yelled the unruly throng of lawmakers and carpetbaggers as they fired off a barrage of constitutionally protected gunfire. “2%, 2%, 2%,” they chanted as they chose the new king, a man of blurry eyes and morals as well.

[Ok, I really don’t have an ending for this. It’s just sort of a William S. Burroughs meets Lewis Carol moment.]

by Shawn 9:19 PM

Huzzah! Randomness!

Belligerent children with too much time.


by MisterNihil 9:09 AM

{Saturday, December 21, 2002}


We were just talking about elves. Actually in my line of work they come up more frequently than is healthy I’m sure. Still, we were watching one of the claymation holiday specials that have been rerunning since, oh, I dunno, the beginning of time maybe? Anyhow, I couldn’t help but think that these shows would’ve been far more interesting if Santa’s elves were in fact the elves from fellowship. And conversely had Lothlorian and Rivendell been peopled with Keebler Elves well, I dare say the books would’ve taken on an entirely different air.

For that matter having the armies of Sauron descending on the north pole instead of Minas Tirith and being met by a deadly force of pudgy, pointy hat wearing Santaland elves could be pretty cool. And what about the D&D sort of elves? You think there are Drow working in Santa’s workshop? If so they are no doubt the ones responsible for electronic toys with no instant shut off switches, Pokemon, and all of the too precious for words, pink, anti-imagination, mindless toys marketed towards girls. The next time I run an elf in a fantasy campaign I think I’ll make him a toy maker (or maybe show maker) just to annoy the GM.

None of this is going anywhere but it does make one wonder what went into Tolkien’s decision to pull Elves out of the realm of the traditional faerie tale and old world folk tale and make them a race to be reckoned with. He made elves cool.

by Shawn 10:40 PM

{Friday, December 20, 2002}

I'm sure this will post on the wrong day, but I'm off to PA in a few scant hours, not to return 'til the New Year, so if anyone's out there please fix it the timestamp? Much obliged. Happy holidays to all!

last-minute X

by Faith 11:58 PM


No one was that surprised when the kangaroos unionized. It seemed as though it was bound to happen sooner or later but I think we were all a little offended when they declared themselves a nation and started their own space program. I mean, it wasn’t as though we thought they didn’t have the same rights to explore space as any of the rest of us but when ever the subject of explore was raised they all glanced at one another knowingly and smirked.

By 2098 it was pretty clear that they had no intentions of ever coming back once they left. Their ships were huge and used a proprietary propulsion system that they refused to share with the rest of the world. To make matters worse their diplomats all spoke with an absurdly exaggerated Australian accent that sounded somehow condescending and was in fact so think that we decided they were mocking the human Australians.

By 2102 the last of them had left Earth for parts unknown (unknown to the rest of us that is) and to be honest we were all pretty much glad to see them go by that point. I think we all did our best to give them the benefit of the doubt since well, let’s face it, everyone likes, or at least liked kangaroos. Probably the last straw was when the kangaroo king insisted on being called the Great Roo and referred to his court as, well, a kangaroo court. He made all visiting dignitaries wear lime green jumpsuits and top hats and played Olivia Neuton John music at uncomfortable volumes.

Last week the UN was surprised by a group of representatives of the United Koala Confederacy. This will not end well.

by Shawn 11:23 PM

We already sort of did this one back in July, but it's late in the evening and I'm not sure if anyone else is out there anyway. So today's topic is:
Christmas, Middle Earth, or whatever. Take your pick. Anyone who wants to take my spot in the rotation next week (I think Friday) is free to do so. I'll be away from the computer for about seven days starting Sunday. Happy holidays, everyone. See you in (or just before) the new year!

by Fred 5:04 PM

{Thursday, December 19, 2002}

Lou Kangaroo and his friend Hugh the Gnu
Bid fond adieu to the Kalamazoo Zoo.
“We’re off to Peru,” said the Gnu-Kangaroo crew,
“To chew on bamboo and get Lou a tattoo.”
“I thought that you two were planning a coup,”
Cooed Stu, the true-blue next-door cockatoo.
“We knew a few of the crew of the Kalamazoo Zoo
Would see through the coup,” said Hugh to blue Stu.
“They might misconstrue and send the cops to pursue,
So after review, we choose tattoos in Peru.”

by Fred 11:59 PM


by Fred 2:32 PM

{Wednesday, December 18, 2002}


Today is the third shortest day of spring.
Day after tomorrow, the days will start to get longer and the weather might, given the miracles of the "Season" get colder. On the evening of the Solstice, the high should be about twenty degrees colder than the high today. On Friday, the sun will rise at 7:23. I should be well on my way to work at that time. That same sun will set at 5:35. I will be on my way home from work. There will be no sun on Friday for me, locked away in cube world.
I am walking in the sun, wondering at the warmth, knowing the day will come all too soon when I do not see sun.
I am wearing the shoes I wore the last time my previous car ran. One was lost in the mud and recovered.
I am puzzled by life.

by MisterNihil 1:36 PM

This is for "Winter" actually.

Ya know, nothing sprang immediately to mind as far as a winter-related story goes so I decided to just throw out some random thoughts on winter itself.

Like so many things an appreciation for winter is a very subjective thing. I’m living here in Texas where winter is basically a time when the temperatures drop enough that those so inclined can creep sheepishly out from their air conditioned, sealed environments to see if they dare brave the out of doors. Exposed and unprotected they risk such perilous undertakings as picnics, walks and even jogging. Weather-wise it’s actually quite pleasant but is certainly, to my way of seeing it, not winter.

In Oregon winter was defined less by the calendar as by when it rained. Well, specifically when it rained and rained and rained for months. In many parts of the world such a winter would keep all but the heartiest or desperate of souls inside. Not so in the Pacific NW where, were you not one to brave the wet, you’d never leave the house. Again, not exactly the Rockwellian, picturesque, hot chocolate by the fireplace image that springs to mind when one thinks of winter. But there’s the thing: that’s what springs to mind for me, but then, I grew up in northern Ohio where winter was very clearly marked by months of road-closing, snow ball fighting, tongue-stuck-to-the-pump-handle, cars in the ditch, snow flocked trees, ice skating, colder-than-hell, book-by-the-fireplace winter.

So, popular media would suggest that this is in fact the accepted image of what winter is all about only many of the kids my son goes to school with have never actually seen snow. Some never will. For much of the country sub-zero temperatures and snowmen are at best, extremely rare if not simply the stuff of movies and Penny’s commercials. So why do we collectively think of winter as this frozen wonderland of fun that harkens back to some idyllic place in New England that somehow escapes the power outages, stranded drivers and air port closings of the Midwest?

Um, this really wasn’t meant to be a downer or anything, just some frozen stream of consciousness thoughts that got away from me in time and intent.

by Shawn 11:12 AM

look out kid
youre gonna get hit

Time for some Dylan. No, not THAT Dylan

by Shawn 8:25 AM

{Tuesday, December 17, 2002}

Topic-schmopic. I wrote another song. (Homework for class tomorrow.)

Pink and mauve, standing tall,
With Spanish roofing tiles,
Optional ceiling fans, balconies in all
To see the view for miles.

The property value's on the rise.
Oh, the profits it will yield--
A tribute to modern enterprise,
But it used to be a field.

Luxury apartment homes,
So new, so quaint, so swank,
Sprucing up residential zones
To put them in the bank.


10,000 jewels on bending greens
Inviting those who braved it.
Paths to follow after dreams.
Good thing you went and paved it.


Rent was ripe for your collection
Before you even began to dig.
I'm sure you're proud of your erection.
You must feel so big.

The property value's on the rise.
Oh, the profits it will yield--
A tribute to modern enterprise,
But it used to be a field.

by Sharon 3:02 PM

first second third fourth

Allen's paracosm was well into winter when the trouble started. The sky was dark, the air cold. He had developed the concept of seasons almost immediately after the initial paracosmal framework was laid so many millenia ago. Sensing a need for his organisms to note the passage of time, he created a way for any nerve-bearing organism to detect such changes and imbued the idea into nature's need for death and rebirth.

By the time he was nine years old, Allen's world was the most studied paracosm ever witnessed by the Founders. The Founder known as Knepp had decided to fuse Allen's world with that of an unpredictable, Clara. Clara, he had reasoned before the Founders' Council, would speed the evolution and adaptability of Allen's world. The Founders had agreed to a temporary fusion lasting just five hundred of Allen's years.

The project went well for some time. Clara, the unseen diety, served as Allen's foil. The problems they faced together as co-creators of this world were easily dispatched. Clara developed resourcefulness among the people, and Allen strengthened their faith.

It was only when a bizarre plague began affecting the Founder's outer worlds that things changed. Instead of posing purely intellectual problems to their Breeders, the Founders began programming viruses within the paracosm that displayed the same symptoms. Many paracosms were eradicated by the virus, the Breeder itself going dark. In the coldness of Allen's paracosmal season, the plague had a devastating effect, wiping out huge sums of people. Clara tried everything. Her mind had been overclocking for two centuries, but the virus beat her scientists and great thinkers at every turn, much like the plague living in the Founders' real world continued to befuddle their scientists.

Allen's fight was similar. His people were losing hope faster than he could instill it. He tried everything, even uniting his world in one religion that strengthened their resolve. Precious little was known about the plague, except that once infected, the person had a life expectancy of ten agonizing years.

Which is why havoc was so swift the day Allen was infected.

by rocketo 2:15 PM

"It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere..."

by Fred 7:19 AM

{Monday, December 16, 2002}

“Coming up later on All Things Considered, renowned author and motivational speaker Nyarlathotep reads from his new book, ‘Chicken Soup for the Cthulhu Worshipper’s Soul’, which the New York Times recently hailed as the holiday season’s feel-good answer to the Necronomicon. ‘No home should be without one…’ writes reviewer Michiko Kakutani, ‘lest it suffer unspeakable consequences beyond all human imagining.’ And Maya Angelou will tell us what Christmas means to her. But first, the news…”

by Fred 9:02 PM


When I came home, I was shocked.
"This isn't how it looks, I can explain!" My wife was naked. My neighbor was naked. I had no idea what to make of it.
I ran out, crying, into the night. I spent the night at the office and came back the next morning when I was sure she'd be at work. She was there, though, and so was he. And so was that goddamn kettle.
I can't stand the smell of broth to this day. She fed me some lame excuse about the gas being out and a water shortage, but nothing will ever explain what I saw that day.
They had a fire in the middle of the kitchen and stood a giant kettle-pot-thing over it. Like a menudo pot, but probably sixty gallons. I smelled the broth, and there they were, naked and sitting in the pot. She was cutting carrots into the liquid.
I heard about these weird, kinky Chicken Soup things, but I never though my own wife...

Enough of that.

by MisterNihil 3:55 PM

Chicken Soup

by Remi 2:01 AM

{Sunday, December 15, 2002}

“This isn't how it looks. I can explain. You see, that reflects undiffused light; it forms an image of whatever object is placed in front of it. Where we come from, we call it a mirror.”

“I don’t think it’s working, Professor.”

“Nonsense. They’re highly intelligent. They simply need time to process the information.”

“Those look like weapons they’re pointing at us.”

“Where? Oh. Yes. Yes, those do look like weapons, don’t they? It’s hard to tell without my glasses. I thought you said you locked the shuttle armory.”

“I did. They may have bypassed the code. You said yourself they’re intelligent. And they’ve already proven they’re good with numbers.”


“Just not with mirrors apparently.”

“Well, in their defense, there’s not much naturally produced glass on the planet’s surface, now is there? They’re hardly in a position to be familiar with its properties.”

“Those are definitely the weapons from the shuttle armory.”

“Well, there’s a safety on each of them, isn’t there?”


“Not anymore.”

“Oh. Well that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to kill us.”

“Well that depends, now don’t it, Professor? We are the evil space people who came here uninvited. And we do have mirrors with us, which they seem to think can steal their souls or something. So I’d have to say, from the evidence in front of me, that, yeah, they probably are going to kill us.”

“Oh bugger. I told you not to leave your damn shaving kit out.”

“Yeah, and I seem to remember suggesting more reconnaissance before going out to meet the natives.”

“They looked harmless.”

“Yeah, well, as you just tried pointing out to them, things often aren’t how they look.”

by Fred 11:59 PM

This isn't how it looks. I can explain.

by Sharon 2:03 AM

{Saturday, December 14, 2002}

Randomness Part 2:

Tropical Brain.


by MisterNihil 4:30 AM

{Friday, December 13, 2002}

There are dear memories from my childhood that, upon reflection, are awfully weird.

Every year, we had to visit the Lehigh Valley Mall to talk to the reindeer. They were large, animatronic deer heads poking out of a stable in the middle of the mall, and they would talk with us. This was a bit of Christmas magic that I simply could not do without.

(Last time I went, there were big talking teddy bears. Adequate, I suppose, but just not the same.)

As a result of this, reindeer were pretty important to me. They listened better than the creepy guy in red that you had to wait in line to talk to and then sit way too close to. The reindeer would address a gaggle of kids. You could kind of gather about them, and they would grant an audience to any who approached.

My inimitable best friend Tameka tells of going to see the reindeer one year. One of the reindeer asked, "And who is that pretty little girl?" Tameka, never at a loss for self-confidence, knew exactly whom they must be talking about and answered, "It's me, Tameka!"

At our house, on Christmas Eve-Eve (we were in Delaware at Grandma's by Christmas Eve, but Santa has a good personal assistant, and he knew to come to our place early), I'd put carrots and celery out on the front lawn for the reindeer. Everbody left cookies for the old boy, but nobody seemed to do anything special for those hard-working blokes, the reindeer. I always wanted to make sure they were well taken care of.

Looking out for the underdogs, that's me.

by Sharon 2:55 PM

Gdaddy2650 You have a chat invitation from GBaby01256:

GBaby01256: Hey Grandad!
Gdaddy2650: Happy birthday! How old are you now, six?
GBaby01256: Yep! Write me an original microfiction about Reindeer,
Gdaddy2650: OK. Is this your bedtime? I get so confused with the time difference.
GBaby01256: Yeah. Dad says you can write good microfictions, and he's tired.
Gdaddy2650: lol : )
Gdaddy2650: OK: Once upon a time there were reindeer they all died the end goodnight
GBaby01256: not SO micro!
Gdaddy2650: Fine, what do you want? That roudilf story again?
GBaby01256: No. its dum. I want original.
Gdaddy2650: Hmm. So like once upon a time there were reindeer they all died the end goodnight?
GBaby01256: NO
GBaby01256: more like a story. witha beginning and end and everything.
GBaby01256: dont be like that.
GBaby01256: I want a good story
Gdaddy2650: Fine. Once upon a time there was alittle red reindeer. it was different from the other reindeer because it was much redder than they were, all up its coat and fur and everything. It was sad sometimes cbecause it didn';t have any red friends to play with. it decided to go to albuquerque.
GBaby01256: whers that?
Gdaddy2650: when he got to albuquerque he was happy because there were lots of elves there and it never snowed. but there was a big bad sandmonster. it said it would eat any littlre reindeer it saw so he hid in the bushes and waited.
GBaby01256: whers that?
Gdaddy2650: its in arizona
Gdaddy2650: whent the sand monster walked past the reindeer he saw the deer hiding and said "NOW I GOT YOU" (cue scary noiz)
GBaby01256: OOH! Im scarred!
Gdaddy2650: the deer grabbed a rock and said "I have faith in Christmas and Satna, and he slung the rock at the sand monster and hit it right between the eyes
Gdaddy2650: the sand monster fell back and died and the reindeer was made king of the reindeer. then when the reindeer was bathing on th roof the queen of the reindeer saw it and fell in love and had the king reindeer sent off to war to lead the charge against the enemies and the king reindeer died
Gdaddy2650: and the queen reindeer was so sad she poked her eyes out with a brooch and was led through the wilderness for forty days and forty nights with nothing to eat or drink. then the devil took the queen reindeer up to a mountain top and said the world can be yours if you bow down to me andthe queen reindeer ate eight pomegranite seeds from a pine tree and the devil ran away and that
Gdaddy2650: s why at hannustmasaturnalia we light eight christmas trees and then give tops to eachother. because of the queen reindeer andt he top of the mountain and the eight seeds and the devil.
GBaby01256: Thanks grandad! youre the bets
GBaby01256: best
Gdaddy2650: Good night. shoot me an email next tiem youre in town and well go ice skating
GBaby01256: goodnight

GBaby01256 Has terminated chat session

Do you need to buy a chainsaw? click on Habbies House Of Chainsaws for Chainsaw Deals like you never saw!
Free email at www.bibbtasticemailzyo.com

Good bye.

by MisterNihil 1:36 PM


by Martha 8:27 AM

{Thursday, December 12, 2002}

He stumbled in, stinking of booze, and clearly with something unpleasant to say.
"I been meaninta tellyou sumthin," he started. He pointed violently with his finger at a point a few feet above my head, and glared angrily at the tip of the finger. Carefully, he lowered it to the level of my eyes, and continued. "I been meaninta tellyooh sumthin. You stink. You know what, you stink the wors'. I hate you."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I replied, not sure what to make of this.
"Doninnerup. You jus waitill I'm done an you lissen and you lissen good. I donlike you, an I won like you an I don wanna ever see you aroun here again. You got that?"
"I live here."
"I tolya doninnerup!" He flew into a rage, and kicked a mahogany table leg nearby, probably bruising his toes in the process. "Now lissen. 'F I see you again in my bar, I'monna havta ass youta step ousside. You gah'me?"
I waited, to make sure he was done.
"Well? You gah'me?" He yelled this, stamping his foot and wincing.
"Yes. I got you," I said.
"Fine! I'll be on my way."
I had never seen him before, nor did I ever, I am glad to report, see him again. Particularly not in 'his bar.' I have no idea how he got into my house, nor where he went when he left. The butler told me later that someone had left a puddle of suspicious yellow liquid by the door. I shudder to think.
Before he walked out of my life as unexpectedly as he walked into it, though, he walked to my wet-bar and did the oddest thing. He poured a perfectly ordinary drink, then reached under it for the cooking wine, and dropped several coins in. Thus tipping the cooking sherry, he was on his way.
That remains my favorite drinking story, perhaps because I had nothing to drink in the course of it.

by MisterNihil 11:11 PM

tipping the cooking sherry

soon, my pretties. soon.

by rocketo 10:11 AM

{Wednesday, December 11, 2002}

a hush filled the darkened auditorium as the large double doors opened at one end, spilling light onto the aqueous arena. a small but impressive-looking bacteria entered and made his way across the room. he was decorated with smaller bacteria, studded with ribosomes and had a short crop of pilli atop what we would consider his head. When he stopped, a single light produced by thousands of tiny fluorescing bacteria illuminated him. he stood proudly at attention and the entire room followed suit. those that did not were stimulated by the release of ATP- energy for these small beings- and elongated rapidly.

"Prokaryotes! This is an emergency!" the bacteria known as the General said to his fellow non-nucleated organisms. "Some of you may have heard the as-yet-unproven rumor that a small group of our kind has evolved. This new segment of our unicellular world is increasingly advanced. Their DNA, their very heredity, is being enclosed in some kind of protective covering within their cell boundaries. They have enlisted smaller prokaryotes, our mitochondrial brothers and sisters, to break down large chains of sugar and use it as energy. Some of them have even engulfed chloroplasts, and are making their own food AS WE MUTATE! And worse yet, there are talks that these new organisms may band together and specialize in various aspects of survival. Androgynates, we may be outdated germs in a eukaryotic world." He dramatically raised his flagella to point at a diagram composed of small bacteria, all grouped into a crude picture of this new cell. "I'm asking all of you to think of ideas, ways we can combat this nucleated threat."

There was an extended silence, then a voice piped up, "What about the viruses?"
The General shook his head, "No good. So far, they have not taken sides in this conflict. They seem to hate us both, equally."
Another voice, "How quickly can they reproduce?"
"Good question," replied the General, "Our reports indicate that they have a reproduction rate similar to ours. However, their mutations currently appear to be in leaps and bounds for a select number of them, while we adapt more slowly but in greater numbers."
"When they enter multicellular coalitions, we can invade them. Digest their leftovers and spew toxins!" another prokaryote shouted.
"Granted, some of us will be asked to join them. Some will enter in symbiotic or (hopefully) parasitic relationships with these organisms. But we will not live together peacefully forever."
"They will try to kill us," the Thinker murmured. The audience -even, briefly, the General- gasped. The Thinker cleared her intercellular fluid. "Over the time they evolve, they will eventually know of us. Their DNA will increase in complexity, their cell components will take on more specific roles. They may even try to band together in search of food, one day forming a basic nutrient collection and waste expulsion duct. No one knows what could happen after that. But we must act now."
"My sentiments exactly, Thinker," the General nodded in approval, "but how?"
"First, we must not let them know of us. They will forget our ways, and when they are larger they will hardly notice us. All of us, now, must no longer refer to our genetic structure as DNA. We must call our nucleotide sequence... lights. Do we have any inside germs, any saboteurs among their ranks?"
"We have spies in their loose organization. What are you planning?"
"Their current mode of replication is much too fast. If they reproduce at this rate, they will be sentient in no time. We must knot their DNA, before they become multicellular. For ourselves, we must create thick gelatinous armor to protect us against viruses. We must protect our original DNA, and only mutate through secondary loops that float within us. Our adaptation will take longer, but we will survive many more attacks than we are susceptible to now."
"Thinker, you are truly brilliant," the General gravely said, "our kind will remember you for eons to come." He steeled his gaze, "Quickly! Send a chemical signal to our operatives! Knot and twist their DNA!"
The Thinker shook her head, "Lights, General. Lights."
"Yes, of course. We will have it done within the microsecond."

Three hundred years from our now, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchild will look up from his or her pocket-sized scanning quantum microscope, where his or her Miniature Vertebrate Zoo 2300 is busy growing, and ask his or her parent, "Lubba? Who tangles the lights?"

i was in a mood... evocative topic. biology test in twelve hours! (as if you didn't notice)

by rocketo 10:30 PM

They always call me some time between Thanksgiving and mid-December. It's when I get most of my cases. And even those tend to shy away when I tell them there's a minimum of a year of case time and a minimum cost of ten thousand, up front.
But it helps that I know the answer to their question before they call.
I'm not psychic. I'm just good at what I do. They want to know who tangles the lights. I want to keep their lights from getting tangled.
I'm a private dick, specializing in yuletide mischief. It means I tend to get asked the same question over and over. And I know the answer.
His name isn't pronouncable in our language, and sounds like a series of clicks and whistles to the human ear. He works in June; I gave up trying to catch him years ago. Now I just go around to the houses in May and leave cookies and milk in their Christmas boxes in their attics. It keeps him from tangling the lights; it's why he won't come within two months of Christmas. You don't leave them to attract the fat elf, they're to keep away the skinny one.
So I keep a bag of oreos around, and a couple of gallons of moo juice and I wait for them to call. They always call. Eventually it gets bad enough, and they have to throw away the lights.
That's where I come in.

(Yeah, I dunno. I'm rushed today.)

by MisterNihil 12:39 PM

Who tangles the lights?

by Faith 10:21 AM

{Tuesday, December 10, 2002}

They tell me that I am sorry for what I did. I do not remember it, or much of anything before I came to be in this place, but I am glad to know that I have made my peace with it and that I have been forgiven for what I have done. It is good to be among those who know what is best for me. I am in no position to make decisions for myself. They tell me that very few are ever offered this chance. They tell me that I should be grateful. They cannot tell me my crime, but only because it is too horrible for words. This much I know. They would not lie to me. I am an enemy of the state, naturally, and they have simply been kind enough to spare me the awful details. They have forgiven me, allowed me to forget, and they ask only that I tell others of their generosity as penance for my crime. They have asked that I inform them when others would speak out and do something they would later regret. How can I refuse them this request? They have offered me so much. They will show the others kindness, I am sure, and the others, too, will learn to be sorry for the crimes. I am sorry for what I have done. I do not know what it was, but it must have been awful for them to put me here in the dark.

by Fred 10:21 PM

"I'm Sorry."
"Not Good enough."
"I'm Very sorry?"
"Still not close."
"I'm extremely sorry, and I will take pains every second of every day to make sure it doesn't happen again?"
"Actually worse.
"I'm as sorry as a person who knows he has done nothing wrong can be."
"You ass."
"Ooh. Profanity. The last resort of the jerk-off."
"I hate you."
"You're welcome to hate, and you're welcome to keep dangling there."
"If I ever get loose, you'll be sorry."
"And there you go on the 'sorry' thing again. First, I'll be sorry, and I admit, I am not particularly sorry. Now I'll be sorry again. You need a new catch phrase."
"Sorry. It's what you'll be."
"I see you struggling there with the rope. I assure you, when you finally, struggling, manage to break free, you will fall into the pool below you. You have plans to swim to shore before whatever horrible fish I've put there comes to the surface and eats you, don't you?"
"I might."
"Well, the pool isn't full of water. Smell that awful odor? That's acid. Strong acid. You wouldn't make it to the surface after you fell, much less to the edge of the pool."
"You're bluffing. I'll make you sorry."
"Sorry, sorry sorry. I know that's the code word that's supposed to bring your backup running, and it would, if I hadn't pulled your wire off when you were unconscious. Sorry to ruin your fun. I tossed it into the pool, just for grins."
"You bastard."
"And again, back to the big guns. You poor, poor dear, dangling helpless while your backup wait. That's OK, you won't have to dangle long. I have a devious plan."
"Enlighten me."
"Of Course. Here's the plan: You dangle helpless there, and I'll shoot you." (bang) "See? Then I go off and do whatever villainous thing I was up to just hours ago... Ah yes; world domination."
"Oh, don't bother."

-with a nod to Ian Flemming-

by MisterNihil 4:35 PM

An Apology

Like: Sorry I've been missing. I've been in a, "don't want to write," rut. Hopefully this is a sign of things getting better...

by jal 1:31 PM

{Monday, December 09, 2002}

I am a mechanic.
I am a mechanic because I have special training.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating because of a large hole in the air lock.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating because of a large hole in the air lock which I made.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating because of a large hole in the air lock which I made while trying to do the taxes for this crew.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating because of a large hole in the air lock which I made while trying to do the taxes for this crew under heavy fire from the IRS.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating because of a large hole in the air lock which I made while trying to do the taxes for this crew under heavy fire from the IRS because of a return filed a thousand years too late.
I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating because of a large hole in the air lock which I made while trying to do the taxes for this crew under heavy fire from the IRS because of a return filed a thousand years too late due to an unexpected jump to lighspeed.

I am a mechanic because I have special training in accounting and the real mechanic was sucked out the airlock because of something I did while doing the books for this crew of losers, under whose employ I am asphyxiating because of a large hole in the air lock which I made while trying to do the taxes for this crew under heavy fire from the IRS because of a return filed a thousand years too late due to an unexpected jump to lighspeed.

by MisterNihil 2:46 PM

Until Jonathan posts a topic:


It'll serve in the time being.

by MisterNihil 2:40 PM

{Sunday, December 08, 2002}

Maya shuffled the papers and tamped them on the table, in the hopes that straightening them might improve the information they ruthlessly reported. She laid the stack in front of her on the polished mahogany table and wondered if she might be able to seep into the rich, golden grain and get lost.

Crisp, white, rectangular edges demarcated their territory on the conference table. Maya could see them burning and singeing, becoming suddenly much heavier and causing the table to cave in after them. But they sat, clean, white, terrible.

A thin blue line insinuated itself into the northeast corner of a graph. Numbers were rising. Solutions were few. As the censuses called in their numbers from the districts, the temperature in the war room grew progressively colder. Maya tracked more numbers on the graph. In her head she used with comfort the term that had started as a morbid joke: The dead line climbed higher.

by Sharon 11:59 PM


“You see that up ahead? That’s the dead line. Everything after that belongs to zombies.”

“And the fence?”

“It’s there to protect us. It keeps them out, keeps us safe. We’d all be dead in a week if it wasn’t there.”

“And do they really eat brains?”

“Only when they’re hungry. And only those of little kids who don’t behave.”

“Very funny. I’m not a kid, you know. I can take care of myself.”

“I don’t think so, sport. We don’t do that around here. Everybody here needs everybody else. We protect each other.”

“They’re just zombies. They don’t frighten me.”

“They should. They’re dangerous. Look, I know you’re the Ambassador’s daughter, kid, but this isn’t like the other planets in the Alliance. I don’t care what they told you. Things went bad here a long time ago. We survived, but there are things worse than death still on the other side of that fence, and you need to be careful.”

“My father says they’re intelligent. They’re going to try and sign a treaty with them.”

“Uh huh, yeah, I know. And I still say that’s a mistake. But who am I to argue with company policy?”

by Fred 11:59 PM

Have we done this one? A topic near and dear to me and the reason I've not been posting much. Feel like something a little more abstract? How
about "Liquid Light"?

by Shawn 11:51 AM

{Friday, December 06, 2002}

ohrwurm —German, "earworm," a tune which infects a population rapidly. From the Memetic Lexicon, something I shall certainly have to blog shortly.

My friend's little brother writes songs that get stuck in my head. For days at a time. Worse yet, my friend's little brother writes songs that I catch myself singing out loud. The clincher is that my friend's little brother writes songs that are really inappropriate in grocery stores, movie theaters, business meetings...

Previously, the most persistent earworm from Seth had been "Drop the Bombs." In addition to being catchy and imminently singable, it is an anthem for a generation tired of being marginalized by the establishment. The only thing that distinguishes it as more "his generation" than "my generation" is the plural. We would have said "The Bomb."

Here's a bit of the lyrics:
I'm so tired of waiting.
Drop the bombs, drop the bombs.
Tired of hearing them saying,
"Here it comes."
Drop the bombs.
When it's time to die, I'll be ready.
How 'bout you?
Copyright 2002 Brother Machine
It gets you weird looks in the grocery store, but boy, does it make you feel better about being there.

So I received a new Brother Machine album last night. I've been playing it in the car. It contains a new earworm. This earworm ran through my head all during this afternoon's "New Quality Assurance Process Rollout" meeting.
Fuck you.
Fuck you.
Fuck you and you and you.
But it's got such a catchy tune.

by Sharon 5:32 PM

Old Frank Herbert had a world
And on this world he had a worm
With a big worm here and a big worm there
Ear-a-worm, there-a-worm
Everywhere a big worm
Old Frank Herbert had a world

by Martha 2:12 PM


by Sharon 12:57 PM

{Thursday, December 05, 2002}

Independent of this, I wrote song lyrics, but I wrote them all on my own, and they took some number of seconds (though a fair bit more than 600), so anyway, writing:

I believe in a flat earth
and a round sky
Chasing down the highway
With nothing to stand in our way,
Making big schemes, scheming big dreams,
While the radio sings along.
There's nothing I want to do
but drive in Texas with you.

I believe that chores are fun
and work is light
Chasing down the aisles
With produce stands in our way,
Making a home, setting up house,
While riding on shopping carts.
There's nothing I want to do
but shop for groceries with you.

I believe I like broccoli
and maybe squash
Chasing with soda
Or milk or juice or tea or water or lemonade or beer,
Trying a bite, because I should,
While you take the stems off my plate.
There's nothing I want to do
but eat my veggies with you.

I believe in today
And a bright promised tomorrow,
With you, my friend, my heart,
To split my joy, my sorrow,
To hold my hand and laugh with me,
To let me hold yours, too.
This life we build, this here, this now,
Is all I want to do.

I believe that we have a chance
if we try
Chasing down peace
With hope to find some way,
Making a wish for a reprieve,
When saner heads hold the reigns.
There's nothing I want to do
but fight for freedom with you.

[Repeat Bridge]

I believe in the sun in the sky
orbiting us
Chasing down meteors
With nothing to stand in our way,
Making big plans, built with our hands,
While wishes streak through the sky.
There's nothing I want to do
but spend my whole life with you.

by Sharon 2:00 PM

They're yelling at me on the phone again.
Every time I pick it up, there's somebody there, yelling. No dial tone, no ringing, just a voice that screams about my incompetence, about how useless I am. There aren't any reasons, I just hear the voice.
I tried to turn on the computer, but it just displayed an error message that ended with "Fatal Exception at 1624.72-6 to your Body Odor/Try later when you don't suck."
I have tasks to do. I have things that need to be completed. I know there are, somewhere, people who are counting on me to do my job. I stood up to look for help. The rest of the office is dark.
I got my quick tutorial, and they said "You can manage. All on your own. It's a simple job; a monkey could do it. Just go ahead and get started."
I don't remember anything useful from the tutorial. It was done very quickly by a small mumbly man with something else to do. He kept getting calls, but going on with the tutorial without explanation of what he was doing. Every so often, he'd say "See? Easy," which I assume was directed at me.
I found a help manual, but every page says "Access denied - security level too low."
I apparently don't even rate help.
I tried calling random extensions for help, but that voice just kept berating me. I tried going to another cubicle, but there was a memo pasted outside mine that said any employee caught outside of his/her cube will be executed, and that there was a $600 reward for reporting your coworkers. So I stayed here, and sat at my desk, trying not to mess up anything else.
I tried playing with paperclips, but every time I reach for the box a buzzer somewhere in the dark depths of the ceiling sounds, and I have to pull back. There's nothing to do.
I'm afraid I'll get fired, but first I have to do the job, right?
At least I'm alone.

by MisterNihil 11:18 AM

all on your own

by Sharon 2:02 AM

{Wednesday, December 04, 2002}

I must have passed out. The only thing I remember is the sound of one of those rain sticks -- the ones they sell in all the hippy nature shops -- echoing in my head. When I came to, I was on the floor. I distinctly remember, before the rain in my head, that I had been taking a test of some sort. I wonder if this means that I failed?

Sound returned before vision, so for some time I waited silently on the floor, listening to my surroundings. Feet scurrying, chairs scraping, whispers in the hallway. Where was I? What did it mean?

And there -- a splash of color. Vision was returning in a slowly-widening circle. Orange? Orange and ... hairy. Scratchy? Ah. That would be the carpet. The circle widened a bit more, and I located a yellow twig. Er, pencil. Further evidence of the testing that had been in progress.

Oh, what's this? Brown, curly, little strands of white ... and a smell. Warm, musky, familiar. The eyes, ears, and nose are not yet working together to resolve this new data; the overload of vision and smell have tuned out the ears. Struggling to focus, I faintly hear my name being called far off in the distance.

Aaagh! I am being lifted, carried, dragged. Out into a cold hallway, and plopped onto a hard plastic chair. All of a sudden, I place the smell. My mother. Taking me home.

True story. I passed out during a final at Penn State. While the sights and sounds remained vivid, I don't remember anything else about it. Apparently I didn't remember much from the class, either; the grades that semester were less than exemplary!

by Faith 5:17 PM

When you're lost in the rain, in Juarez, and it's Eastertime too
When your gravity fails, and negativity don't pull you through
Don't put on any airs when you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They've got some hungry women there and they'll really make a mess out of you
- Bob Dylan, “Just Like Tom Thumb Blues”

It ‘d been raining in my head for days, but outside the city was still weeping from its second week of drought. The local weatherman was predicting rain for Thursday afternoon, a storm front rolling in along the coast, but if it was dark clouds they wanted they were looking in the wrong place. I’d had plenty to spare ever since she walked into my office last Friday, and I was more than happy to spread them around. I was tired of tripping over the puddles.

I’d just finished another big case, and I was dotting the i's and crossing the t’s on the paperwork when she knocked on my door. She was the kind of girl you read about in magazines, and I don’t mean Ladies’ Home Journal either, a leggy redhead in a dress that left little to the imagination and was like a refresher course in human anatomy. I was thanking the stars I’d worn my good rumpled trenchcoat to work that morning.

“I’ve lost my umbrella,” she said in a voice that was like melted butter in all the right ways, “and I hear you’re the sort of man who can help me find it.”

“Maybe I am,” I said, playing it cool. “Have a seat.”

She poured herself into the chair opposite my desk and leaned close.

“It’s my favorite umbrella,” she sighed. “I just don’t know what I’ll do if it rains.”

Not much chance of that, I thought. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

“Well then sure, I’ll take the case then,” I said. After all, how tough could it be to find one lonely umbrella?

If only I’d known what I was getting myself into…

by Fred 3:22 PM

"The experiment was a success, Doctor!"

Hearing those words creep into my consciousness from the other end of a trans-Atlantic phone call brought my surroundings into focus. I gave an experimental tug with each of my limbs and found them still strapped down to the operating table. The voices in the lab gained volume and color like an old radio warming up.

"Test her reflexes, David."

That was the doctor. His thug shuffled over to my table and stood on tiptoes to peer, too closely, into my face. His teeth were scummy.

The volume was all the way up now, but the static and pops remained. Probably time to get a new radio. It was raining in my head. I shook it to clear it, but Igor took it as an attempt to communicate. He leaned in closer, and his breath smelled of dead things.

"Oh, but yes. Yes, my darling."

My muscles were still too sluggish to make a response. I gurgled derisively. The rain continued to beat against my brain pan, and it was starting to make me mad. The lab assistant, with his mossy teeth, picked up an implement and began to tap against joints, working around the leather restraints. It didn't have much effect, except to make me angrier.

I clenched my jaw. I clenched my fists. And then, and this was surprising, I found a new muscle to clench. I tried it experimentally, and the rain in my head became thunderous. Yes, this was new. I liked it.

I took a deep breath, set my teeth, clenched, and stood up.

by Sharon 1:42 PM

Found a good random topic generator. Here's the first topic it spit out:
Raining in my head


by MisterNihil 3:32 AM

{Tuesday, December 03, 2002}

Purple. Purple Haze. There was a song once with that name. Tupten was too young to remember ever hearing it but some of the refugees to the temple use to sing it. It was, so they said, a bit of “dark humor”, irony, a tragic foretelling of things to come. Tupten had no idea what the song meant or why the tired, joyless men and women with soulless eyes found a sort of comfort in it. Nor did he entirely understand why the sun now set on a hazy, purple horizon and why the few poor unfortunates from the outside world who managed the trek to this most remote of places died to the last man.

The monks once explained to him, as best they could, that here at the roof of the world they seemed safe for a time from the disease that devoured the world outside. And further that it was their duty to take in and comfort those they could and to pray for those beyond their reach. It had been some years since the purple fog that had reportedly blanketed the world had at last reached the valleys below the temple.

Sonam explained that somewhere in the west a flying machine from a distant world had been brought up from beneath the ocean and learned men had opened it to learn its secrets. The “space ship” had rested beneath the waters for millions of years and it seemed that opening it had released something Sonam described as an air borne virus that was never meant to be a part of this world. The effect was catastrophic. Plants and trees the world over died within but a few short years and as they decayed a purplish fog rose that was deadly to men and animals alike.

Now, as Tupten, the last of his temple, walked among the deserted buildings his mind’s eye looked out towards the distant horizon. The sun seemed to sit expectantly on the dull, purple band of haze and for the first time the young monk longed to know of the world outside these walls. A

by Shawn 10:00 PM

They say that nothing in the world rhymes with purple,
Unless of course you're maybe thinking gerbil.
It's not a perfect rhyme,
But then when did that become a crime?
I mean, would a purple gerbil really be that t'rrible?

by Fred 5:02 PM

Searching her face for a long minute, I could see that I was gone. Deep in her eyes, she was finally over me.

It's cliche, but I don't understand women. Why throw away the one who loved you best, the one who would love you truest and longest, even after your perfect beauty had faded? Why spit on his love? Why rip out his heart and stomp on it?


But I'm being melodramatic. She did love me. For quite a while, even, she returned my affections. It was bliss. We were perfect, together. But you can't own perfection, can't hold onto it. She was a soap bubble that burst when I grasped it.

I have set her free now. I can see in her eyes that she is free. Free of me and all the misery I apparently brought her. Free of the misery of my kisses and my letters and my flowers and my conversation. Free. That bitch.

She doesn't look troubled now. She looks calm, relieved, maybe even happy to be rid of me. She definitely looks over me. Which is funny, since I am over her.

The purple bruises, developing like a Polaroid, look almost lovely, on her sweet, white neck. Her lips are purple now, too, and they beckon ever so subtly, though she would never admit it.

Perhaps I shall steal one last kiss.

by Sharon 4:19 PM

Hmm...if one person writes, maybe more people will write...

by Fred 3:42 PM

{Monday, December 02, 2002}

It started as a long sigh, welling up from the depths of the Trench and climbing towards the sunlight. Eldritch gasses trapped in bubbles marked the end of an era.

And the beginning of the next.

I was there to see it happen. I was one of the divers. I helped place the final puzzle stones in the positions calculated by the eggheads topside, maneuvering cranes and robotics to slide millennia-old markers into their intended crevasses.

Armored in our deep-sea diving suits, equipped with high-pressure breathing apparati, and squired by a Polymer Age diving bell, we felt big. Masterful. Tough. Space was easy--no pressure--compared with the depths. And we had pierced them. Visited, seen the tourist attractions, collected the pamphlets and moved in. Here we were, on the inside of the world, feeling big.

And then we opened the Gate, and "big" became a relative term.

The exhalation that started the tsunami of '31 was simply a calling card. An introductory belch. A "howdy, neighbors," to warn us to start preparing for a new world order.

Global priorities changed, once the dwellers of the Trench introduced themselves to us. United Nations meetings are almost unrecognizable. Petty squabbles that had launched wars have become the differences that unite us. We hadn't expected peace to come at a price so dear.

So I am back into my diving suit, after all these decades. There is a Crust Rights rally this afternoon that I'm not going to miss.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

I figure, somebody's gotta write something eventually...

by Fred 3:26 PM

{Sunday, December 01, 2002}

They kept him in the hospital for thirty days. They tied him to a bed and fed him through a tube. Doctors would look in on him from time to time, shake their heads, make adjustments to their clipboard. They talked shop with the nurses in the hallway, traded stories. There was nothing they could tell the family. At the end of a month, they let him go home. Sometimes people just die, they said, although this, too, they did not tell the family. His wife and children were encouraged to make him comfortable: his own bed, familiar faces. He was not expected to survive another month. The doctors prescribed drugs, pills to dull the pain, and they said call anytime if you have any questions, if there's anything we can do. They were in an unenviable position. They could offer no answers. They were no better than anyone else. A disease you can understand but cannot conquer, they said, is still preferable to no disease at all. Symptoms without apparent cause, and therefore without cure, are a terrible thing to come across, because to tell a man he is going to die is bad enough without the knowledge that you cannot tell him why this is happening, that you cannot put a name to his suffering. They sent him home to die in his own bed, and they adjusted their clipboard, but they could tell the family nothing.

by Fred 11:59 PM

I know that it is very late in the day, but just in case...

The theme for my holiday weekend was:

by Faith 5:14 PM


<blockquote class="topic">your topic</blockquote>