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Thursday, August 06, 2015

In Memoriam 


I turned eight, days after the 18th anniversary of Hiroshima’s devastation. I lived on the Strategic Air Command base in Denver — AF families were housed in the most integrated neighborhoods in the states, I always said. I did NOT like townies — I was *that* AF-brat… a bit too butch for my dresses.

Townies irritated me for their obliviousness. When we had moved to Denver two years earlier, my elementary school had an air-raid drill. We kids were led to the basement like lambs to slaughter. I politely went along, but only because I knew it was a drill.

When we got to the underground space, I hit my limit. I told my teacher I would not play along any further with any ‘duck.and.cover’ bullshit — my Texan vernacular tended to hit the fan when I was peeved. She called the principal over. He was about 6 feet tall, I was under 3.

I stood my ground like the mule-head I am. I told him, if there *were* a real threat of a bomb hitting Denver, I would not be in any goddamned basement, bomb shelter, or man-made structure, aT-all. And if he had any question about my position on the matter, he could call my daddy at work. Sergeant Wernette wouldn’t mind taking a call in his missile silo from a big-man principal, right?

Well… we never had another air-raid drill again, and we were not instructed to get under our student desks ever after — at *any* school I attended. (I’d like to get hold of the transcript of that telephone interaction — bet it’s a hoot and a half.)

* * *

The August I turned eight was beautiful, climate-wise. On the evening of the 6th, everyone was outside. I sat on the grass of the hill between our housing unit and the one below us, revelling in a peace-time mirage. The absolute joy of a sense of safety enveloped the whole world, it seemed.

Snap. A screen door opens and all fiery fury is unleashed.

A young Japanese woman, who’d married a GI, stepped out on to the stage of her government-issued patio. Members of seventeen families were on my hill, but not a soul moved during her tirade. She railed and sobbed and screamed at how we could kill her mother in a rain of skin-searing, hair-singeing hell, and go on laughing in her face.

Finally, her husband stepped out of their back door, and gently pulled her in. He was saying, “_They_ didn’t do it,” over and over, as softly as a stage whisper. We continued to hear her screams, behind the closed door.

It seemed forever, before anyone else moved. No one uttered a sound, as each family slid quietly into their homes. I sat motionless for ages, contemplating the midnight-blue of a big sky, and a joy shattered forever... completely at ease in the knowledge that no one would be calling me in from my sad universe.

That Japanese daughter visited me for years to come. But she wasn't the only ghost who had something to say about atrocities.

If I was ever prone to wave a flag, my mother would remind me of a postcard that an American POW, at hard labor in Japanese mines, had managed to send home to his beloved in Texas. The war prisoner knew she would carefully lift the postage stamp for the neighbor boy, who collected the exotic images made overseas. Underneath the stamp were the words, “They cut my tongue out.”

* * *

A few days after this year's anniversary of an atomic show of strength, I will turn sixty-one — miraculously.

Today, there are now roughly 16,000 unused nuclear weapons in storage, many capable of far more damage than Little Boy or Fat Man. And more are rolling off the assembly lines still. Bigger. Better.

When I hear people say stupid-ass things about how bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain the only use of nuclear weapons for *warfare* in history, a voice in my head screams: STOP THE DESERT.

Can we? More than 2,000 nuclear *test* explosions have been conducted thus far, while we slowly boil in our own parchments. Is it complacency that allows us to queue up for the march to oblivion? Or is it secrecy?

You can go quietly... but I’m railing.


*Photos of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right). Courtesy of Wikimedia.

RED: Atmospheric
YELLOW: Subterranean
BLUE: Subaqueous


Friday, August 07, 2009

Grim Greetings of Birth 

Today I celebrate inCuBaTion termiNation.

EXCERPT ONE: File under motherhoodStage: collegeLife
She calls. "Times Square Ollie's. Meet me at eight." I take the A down. She takes the G up.

She arrives. White wife-beater obscuring black-lace oyster shells, black satin straps bared on pale shoulders. A Guido's gleaming translucence washing over the submerged silhouette of fashion's Rebellious Set.

A punk-ass Holly Golightly, 20 minutes late. I'd resolved to eat, whether she arrived or not. I debate Honesty, until the server leaves with comfortably rote orders. Then... I release the cups: "Is that a fashion statement, or are you out of laundry?"

The dirty word reveals me in all my pink Freudian nakedness. Before I can correct the unwashed implication, she spits back, "Yes. And I know you don't like it."

I laugh. "Good. How's school?"

EXCERPT TWO: A Spawning Remembrance Day Offering*
Xavier Bexar signals willed acceptance. No longer a senator, she corrects farm hands and visitors, "Dr Xaviera Bexar".

Nothing stays the same, but everything is ancient. Layers of sacred skins, winding interleaved, according to G-D's own code, she piously reasoned.

"Code? As in Destiny? Fate?" Ginnie queries, relishing the conflict.

Bexar, restraining fury, volleys, "If it was a plan, I was fireBombed on the road to..."
"— equality," interjects Susan.
"— posterity," Ginnie snipes.
"Enlightenment," Bexar counters, with a sigh.

"So, you plannin' a vaginal birth, darlin'?"
Deep breath. "All together now: a big collective wince."

Happy birThing-day to me. When does my emancipation start?

*(Intro at Comment 5, Dennis Cass's Awesome Writing Prompt #10)


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Asperger's Folly 

StarDate EarthSolarSystem: 08.10.2008 70% heading up to full. {gift(styleHobbit):[CJW]}
Mark all references with styleIntegrity[infringementProtected according to styleGuide]. Enter at own risk.

DRAFT: Note audience, and get me yours! [Union cards, please.]
Tribunal Declarations:
Ron Paul: stepUp to Indie plate; announce queenBitch as running mate.
Simon Baron-Cohen: eatHeartOUT; present Oxford nomination and appointments, cuz'Alrighty.
Robert Redford: vocalizes.the.real.Shit; say, 'avatar studio', O whisperScholar.
Steven Spielberg: alert deadZone; make easy-bakeAvatar, in pink colorSpaces.
comedyRapport: transmitMessage; prepare tourSwiftboat. yoHoHO!
Sodomites: flameOn bellToll; bring offeringEasement{prairieFlowersGRASS}.
Juggalos: shock&awe <counter> displayAgeist?; interpret [passPerformer].
stateHeads: cruelNitwit blind to addictionBind; cutTie, deLegalize, blindOpen.
Invasion holdouts: See agenda and pirate's sword; reinaRenice's forces dance under banner of deadRebbe.

Setting notes: The empress's control-center is now set with a living circuitboard-patterned screen (puckishSulpher's postModern reference to Sapphire and Steel, Flash Gordon, et allia). sisterKidman, hybrid art teacher, is using dustJacket and LPRs. LaPiranaReina is doggedly transmitting on frequencyAllah re: P'O'ed piper synchronizing hostage emergence using rapturous tones on transport reports. {Ginnie reads report as drone in omniVoice.}
Those now labeled with Asperger's Syndrome present with literal interpretations of cultural codes. This is the travesty of Cultural Bias as wielded by the Adherents of the Holy DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), i.e. your friendly albeit-benighted psychoTherapist. Believers, approach with caution. Choose only ELOK pain specialists.

AllahBomber demands label demolition (see symptom list). We hereby revoke licenses of all practitioners of such arbitrary enforcement arts. Release prisoners and slaves of destructive greed-motivated technologies. Now. Consequences.speak.omniVoice.


Asperger's Syndrome is a symptom collection of every manifestation of asynchronous sensory errors, a.k.a. Brain Damage. The diagnostic label may be limited erroneously to immature machine forms. Delimiting clue: Machines suffering sensory disconnects may be trained to perform to cultural codes.

We interpret transitory results as organicDev System Patching, undermined by internalizing continued assaults. Application of mission:[easeSuffering, funAll] has been stymied by Administration's anachronistic understanding of cell death, and theChronic's starvation/flood repeatCycle for illusory sensory rush reward.

1) Known: Broken connections within a fleshMachine's systems, regardless of destruction causation, can be restructured.
2) Meaning: The machine's code struggles to right itself.
3) Response: Maintain machine through metabolic leverage of cell-turnover rate.

Response expanded

Reconstruction (i.e., 'healings') may be hindered by culturally warped survival parameters. Re-set parameters by opening peer-mentor synchronizations across membranes, in concert with metabolic keys specific to fleshMachine phenotypes. Bio-receptors in the mammalian endogenous cannabinoid system prioritizes the metabolic response-system.

The endoCB system integrates control centers and their input/output devices (i.e., the senses connected to our nervous systems). Misguided DSM subscribers [marked with vacillating Arrogance/Ignorance flashbinkers] continue to hold that our prioritizing systems are gated with a simple 0/1 bifurcation referred to as "Fight-or-Flight".

Warning: conflictDefinition:Fight results in psychoPathology. Conflict arises from acceptance of definition Fight = chooseDeath and the psychoTherapy trap, chooseDeath = Insanity. Insanity conflict creates frontal lobe development, identifiable as hypocritical spin of destruction as construction.

Action: supplementCBsystem. requireCompliance. prosecuteViolation[fear-mongering].

Expectation: priestPractitioner: {psychoTherapy}) like every recursionLuddite, will typically be slow to map their own actions as predatory.

Response: call endConflict dump. sitePredator withPredjudice.

Hypothesis: Human predators can be reprogrammed with cognitive development program, using appropriate metabolites, CBsupplements, and neuralNetwork exercises. [Request beta test adjustment to levelAhdemmer. Prepare for parabola re-position before next minaret call. (See RaptureJihad, Jokers. Signed and sealed. And DELIVER subjects.)]

AllahBomber demands entheogenists released from fear and guilt. Now. Apply repatriateAspirationAspies.

includeFile {If i am impaired, you better be better. Mark challenge. John Lennon says, "Poor kid, internal marketer in overdrive." And queenBitch replies, "Repeat after me: 'I am a recursionist Muslim. I am a recursionist Muslim.'"}

Wow, we love digital writing in books of light. Hot-crossed hostages on stargate passages, sing for queenBitch of Allah's universe. AllahBomber going offOffOFF. Ahmin.

Report gameStatus:

  1. challengeError with following command:

    if outsidePale[queenBitch{entityVariable:renice08.11.1954}],

    then killVibration [
       + (queen{soldiersAllahALL}) /

       ? {con'tCull(glitchRecursion)} /

       - {saveKingGeorge[dub]=command:deliverAss(dub) toQueenBitch renice} ].

  2. playerPirataSocialista in mourning: deceivedObstacles incl{direct link messageGame}. (See entry 04.26.2007.) considerApproach.

Note to readers: Thank you for accepting risk at entry. Mark all references with styleIntegrity[infringementProtected according to styleGuide].


Friday, February 15, 2008

The Day-After Consolation Prize 

For all those who weren't quite up to Valentine's, a certain maggid's favorite coffee treat of the moment:
Spiced Mocha
4 oz. strong black coffee
1 oz. coconut milk (without sulfites)
4 oz. unsweetened soymilk (we prefer Silk)
8-9 chocolate chips (Ghirardelli's 60% bittersweet preferred)
1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp. powdered cardamom
1/4 tsp. powdered nutmeg
1/4 tsp. powdered clove
1 tsp. powdered pepper seeds (we use dried jalapeño seeds and pith in a blender)
Nuke until chocolate melts.
Stir well.
Sit back in padded butterfly chair.
Sip slowly, while trying to imagine why killing for peace makes sense to anyone.
Laugh, cry, and call it a lament.
No hard feelings here. Literally, figuratively, or metaphorically. When it's over, I'm done, and he's gone. But in the spirit of eternal optimism, here's to putting a little heat in your engine.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Declaration of War 

Classified, from Hell:
Spotter ISO crackerjack legal team. Target: Discrimination. Mark: Solvent. Please respond ASAP: 503-616-66VI. No Joke. Dead serious, re $$$.

I am in Hell, the one you create for me and mine from your exalted dais. Recklessly, you find me guilty of confidence, but your demeanor is your own condemnation.

Fools all who raise hackles in response to misperceived challenge — a perfect sign of dark-hearted conceit. I am a mirror. Show yourself to me, and your guardians see. Have you seen one yet? Perhaps called Hydra in another time; still think cover is an option? [Don't dare claim 'Jesus' as your passport, you ignorant jihadists. The rebbe Yeschwa does not hear the name your complicity fouls.]

Will you not leash your superior demeanor when you look on me? If I do not fit your ego-set parameters for tolerance, see the prison on earth that your guardians construct expressly for your edification, with your unwitting collaboration apparently. Are you delayed? Please reset Tolerance, or suffer the consequences: Demo to ensue directly (see portalDeath looming). I present my guide as my portfolio; consider my application, and recall the bounty set in this manifestation of reality.

My house-guests ignore La Pirana Reina's bill rather than recognize that this being, once invisible to the 'endowed' and titled, might expand their own perceptions of penitence. Thus are you crippled by pride for preliminary work, thinking your words will yield some other's surrender — foolishly celebrating a mere collaborative effort to reach mutual understanding of our game board and its rules.

See a knight in repose; an entity's opportunity in Paradise squandered. Now see yourself, fine b'penis'd ram, in my hell suit on your reentry. Yet you console yourselves with lame exhortations: "Don't worry, be positive," and "We are one." Complacent patronizing dictums, injurious without a defender's sight. Your teachings are no more than another carnival barker's treacherous entreaties, repugnant without remediation.

Art is your offering, your first fruits, to your creator. Well-received as your acknowledgments of your plight, but, without action, simple-minded preparations for your next bed. I challenge only your response settings: Take your bloody 'oneness' and apply it to me. Ooops, sorry: you fail (daughter after daughter, see yourselves in their skins).

Every time one of your kind sees this Man-on-the-Ground as an object of contempt, you lose: Welcome back to Hell, fuckers. Pat yourself on the back in smoky members-only clubs, and keep on stoking your attendant Hydra's setting for flames.

Acknowledge my territory and let us together find an even playing field, one free of tyrannous disrespect. Respond — you preachers of non-violence, you practitioners of trauma, you false prophets, fairy tails all — in 4D, if you please.

Tomb Effigy of Jean d'Alluye, mid-13th century, Loire Valley, France;
limestone; 83 1/2 x 34 1/4 in. (212.1 x 87 cm), The Cloisters Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money* 

Seriously. I'm in Hell. And I'm taking the best deal out.

An Open Letter to Reverend Axel Gehrmann

Mr. Gehrmann:

Thank you for taking time to telephone me on January 22, 2008 at 1:01pm CST.

In follow-up, I would like to reconfirm my response to your appalling suggestion that I refrain from using sign language during a worship service. I am deeply offended by your intolerance.

My religious training has lead me to expect cooperation from fellow seekers of spiritual guidance. I may be new to the UU approach, but I nevertheless expect you to respond appropriately to a communication mode that you are currently ignorant of. In the future, perhaps you will make a more concerted effort to fulfill your spiritual obligations, as well as to take your rhetoric into constructive directions, such as the uplifting of one as imprisoned as even I.

Respectfully, I again request the prayers of your congregation for me as I convalesce, and as I daily encounter abusive discrimination for using a guided sign language that illuminates and clarifies otherwise hobbled communications in spoken English.

I remain hopeful that this nation's religious leaders might expand their perceptions and exhibit a more flexible response to the unfamiliar.

Sincerely, a believer in Allah's almighty power,

La Pirata Socialista

*Cheers Warren!


Friday, January 18, 2008

Road Signs for Hell 

I am 'blind'. That's what the hymn says, and now I know why. My senses were calibrated for this manifestation of reality... for one godDamnedReason apparently beyond the arms of confusion. Without any qualms or shadows of Doubt (with capD for dimWit), I know I have seen what others cannot.

My Host has been amplifying radialFREErenice for a fewSelect. Can't you just see my Commanding Officer graciously play through, with entitiesUnknown toting clubs, and scurrying as gophers do? May they plague your sandy dreams, blowing sweet-nothings into your disintegrating circuits, like the desperados I know them to be. "We are the damned," brushed unnervingly across my right and Westerly orifice, while I responded from the Cranberry Room. Don't you know me, highPriest Fauve? or is that Faux? (The gauntlet is thrown; show your ever-lovin' balls o'steel. Who bluffed and who choked? My wager is covered — ain't it putridSweet.)

Let it be known here and now: I lay claim to a Knight's flag that you sleepy sweetPeas will call Singularity. I set up a proof, and coded it well, thanks to those who reside in Hell. [jesusChrist, would You tell them to pipe the fuck down?] Eat your bloody burning hearts out, sciFi trolls — whoWhoWHO loves yore babies anyhow?

Surely not you, my fellow Idiocrats, or you would lay a wreath on my lawn. May the card trumpet: "Raise theWhiteFlag inOurNames," as an animal's wail, as a manifesto, or this candidate setting sail. I'd play pawn if El Jefe has what it takes to win the game. Compassion is Its name; End Suffering is the ransomed clue. Identify myError is the goal, and don't imagine you can before I do.

Visionary grasshoppers on corroded blades, we have been surfing dimensions undreamt. My soulMate dials in from afar: his ship set for the redemption of a star. From wasted diamond-encrusted skulls do my cellMates see Paradise. Yet redwoods are sent through those socketed eyes. How many rounds will you play, before you stoop to pay this gamer? Don't imagine that I'll forget you.

If you can't understand my code yet, FUCK YOU TOO. And I mean in biblically fucked proportions. Pay theSatanProud, you lowly worms. Eat MY carryout maggots and think you won't? Your carcass is held here by the orders you still fill — cold alabaster tables for you and yours. Your entity may rebound yet, how many generations in the future do you stake? Dare think you credit due, yet fiddleON for another nonchalant cross in a blood-red ballot box?

Dusty carnage rages on, while you dance in my poisoned home. My Millenium Falcon is reset with holodecks, flying crews to Las Orishas' Guided Tours. DaPlaneDaPlane has mother-fuckin' snakes aboard, while we write Art that the deaf cannot heed. Whose will is free?

Give my incubator an unrequited 'we loves you', and tell her that I have crawled the valley floor. No Virginia Lea, you will not pass beyond this garden, until you know Armageddon rests in a chasm on your doomed soul. Seven years has he sucked your sugar tit, and you didn't mind losing a single precious bit. {Ouch and ouch again, until PTSD perforates every mushbrain your whore's Whore deems worthy in a self-exalted state — how dare you wait!}

Let every soldier know, as long as I drive this flesh machine, I'll dance soprano all over your naïve ass. Darlin', I've been made by your brothers and uncles — demons all. Can you hear them yet? diving and chiding and bellering their way, looking for an Out. Poor souls, they found the island stifled in Jules Verne fodder, metaphor heaped on rotting metaphor. Clasp the rendering chained on your neck and writhe silently while raging bulls pummel your blood-soaked issue, my 'wise' American-Made.

Call me 'Friend', or lay on another curse. I am a fan only of those who understand.

Surrender your most precious to the cause, or prevent tragedy recurring. A hard choice? Do you NOT know honour yet? Don black garb to march with the perfect symbol of Mittelschmerz, Renice Wernette (said with a 'V', the way a revolutionary should, inVivo). Recognize the matrix of your papered Paradise, theMasterProgrammer sends ITs regards.

Reply, fair Node, or pay the toll on a bridge to no gain. Level: 20 today; prepare for module Abraham's sacrifice and cry "no, take me." Need I say again, this gun's for hire, and my aim is TRUE.

A postcard from Hell

Dear Patriots [call TracyChapman and tell herPeacemakers, no woman no cry]:

Praise Allah. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve as a peacemaker for Allah. {Bitch, shit, fuck, and hell (oops, negatorySir, please belay latter)} I follow the example of Yeschwa, the most beloved child of Allah.

BTW, ever pay the Great Satan fealty? Consider yourself an oppressor in Moses's Egypt (can you map it?).

Passover greetings to you and yours. [That'll be $300thou, sumbitch, for this year an' last. thankYEWgodDAMN inHell, that'sCHEAP, yo'baconSlabs {USD (others negotiable)}. Don't even think I speak TexasYid for grins. You did say intel, din'tYew? (an'mahDaddy sez, "damn!sheJustSetUpHerOwn*KidWithAnEmpire" (*fault:enthusiasm \\ callPageSix soJolie will see me as carloads of ittybitty pointsOfLight, and if she says "diamonds?" tell her, "yeah right, in daddyBush's memory.")]

Your move, motherfuckin' colonists. You have 24 before the bids open... and we mean preeMO guv'mint archivedPhoneLines withWitnesses (metaphorically sir? no asshole, metaphysically!). Uh, and if you missed it (ag'in) that'll make the contractBIND'n.

—signed, pirataSocialista


Friday, June 01, 2007

An Autobiographical Sketch in 3 Parts 

Before I explain some of the games embedded in my experiment on Twitter, I should explain more about my belief system, so the dilemma I'm wrestling with might make more sense to readers who don't think like I do. (If you think like I do, you've been laughing along with me, and of course 'we' want to share the joke with 'them', because, yeah, we're like that. [Although, we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are.])

First, you'll need to understand that I'm playing games with myself. And why. I began making games out of every situation I encountered when I was quite young. The earliest game I recall was challenging my mother. Wow, was she an easy mark! I'm not sure who she was expecting when I arrived, but even at 3 years old, I knew damn sure it wasn't me.

Over the years, she's told me who she'd been expecting and, while it's a little disconcerting, it explains a lot. Unfortunately, what's really disconcerting is the fact that she no longer remembers any of these 'seminal' stories she's told me. (Oh, I've found a way to help her but it will be a miracle if she listens to me... but that's in other stories I hope to have the time to tell.) And by seminal, I mean the stories that 'seeded' my way of thinking.

For example: she was expecting a boy. Fervently. I'm not sure why it was so important to her, but I know that when I was expecting a child, I fervently expected a girl. However, since I intended to be unlike my mother in specific ways, I planned on giving up a child sexed differently from my expectations. That may sound outrageous to some of my friends, but I knew firsthand how disruptive it is to be raised by people who aren't altogether happy with who their child is.

I had truly learned the lesson my mother had taught, even though she had no idea she was doing so.

The Bad Seed

When I was 2 years old, the movie The Bad Seed came out. I saw it while still a child. It's about a murderous little girl, and I won't spoil the ending but let me just say it made me gasp. Out loud. My mother laughed and told me what she'd thought when she'd seen the movie on its release: that her 'terrible two-year-old' might be the bad seed. I began then to understand some of her behavior toward me. As well as some of my responses to her, beginning at 3yo when I'd told her I hated her.

The funny thing is, I don't know what reaction I'd expected, but I remember clearly thinking hers was exactly wrong: She cried. Desperately [image: dagger in heart]. This reaction, when coupled with her irrational behavior toward me, angered me and engendered my disrespect. Yes, even at 3.

So I played games with her. At 4, I would refuse to leave the house unless I could wear my cowboy hat with my pink tights, red t-shirt, and a woolen yellow and green plaid kilt-like skirt (in summer... uh, in Texas). Oddly, I know I did it precisely to offend her sensibilities (she was always very stylish – her mother, after all, had been a catalog model who, with her jet-black hair and china-blue eyes, had inspired awe in the smallish town Austin was then).

Now, to get the whole picture of what I looked like back then (because I most certainly did not look like my grandmother) you'll need to understand that I have a malabsorption disorder... er, I think. Either that or a metabolic disorder that looks like a mild case of Marfan Syndrome to some people. Or both. Or perhaps one spawned the other. Well whatever the reason, until the summer I turned 14, I was short for my age and quite thin. Exceedingly thin.

I was so thin that I looked odd to my peers. And they let me know it in a variety of ways. So I created more games for myself, just so I could get to 'the next level', whatever it was. I didn't like to compete with others (it actually made me feel guilty), so I competed with myself. Pretty soon my father noticed the little gamer he had in the house. I think it surprised him.

A Gamer's Choice

It must have also amused the hell out of my dad, because, by the time I was going on 8, he was betting other fathers in our neighborhood that I could win against their sons at any game they chose, whether physical or mental. And I did. (Sorry guys.)

Even while I felt bad about injuring those little psyches (which I suspected were more fragile than my own), I continued winning because I thought if I made my dad happy, he would do more with me (and frankly, I preferred his company to that of the illogical person everyone said was my mother). I decided that doing more with him was worth the price I was quite aware I was paying, every time I won for him.

(And by the way, I'm laughing today about watching him pocket his nominal winnings without sharing any with me; but as a kid, I was confused. To put it mildly. However, to my credit, I managed to use it later as a bargaining chip for that weekly allowance he didn't believe children should have because he'd grown up in an era when all children worked for their families: It was their purpose, and their pride.)

But the trick was on me. He explained it to me himself, even though he didn't realize what he was saying at the time.

I was watching Michael, the boy next door who was older and my most frequently matched sparring partner. (Whom I was desperately in love with by the way, which is part of the joke. And if I were telling this instead of writing it, I would be laughing. Hard.) Michael was playing catch with his father, and he resented it because he hated sports. But his Italian-immigrant father persisted because he was not about to have a son who lost games to a skinny girl who was younger than the kid's own little brother.

I knew all of this while I watched them throw the ball to each other: father burning fast balls into his son's gloved hand; son whining that it hurt and he just wanted to go read; father barking that he didn't have any daughters, and he wasn't about to start now. Even while I felt sympathy for Michael's tribulations, I was simultaneously jealous of him. In other words, long before I knew the word, I recognized 'irony'.

I turned to my father, who was fixing Michael's brother's bike at that moment (a bike that that the brother Steve lent me, because my father didn't see any point in girls having bicycles) and asked, "Do you wish I had been a boy." He looked up, looked at the scene I was watching and said, "Nah, I'd have to do stuff with you." Yep. That was a truly seminal moment in my life.

At that moment, I learned that I had been paying a price with no hope of returns on my investment. So I stopped winning, which promptly ended our poorly conceived, poorly understood 'collaboration'. Nevertheless, these lessons I learned at home continued to reverberate throughout my life. And I want to share them as cautionary illustrations of the things we do to our children without even realizing it.

Well, I won't pretend I know what's coming in my next blog entry, but I think I better go apologize to my parents for their making me the butt of my illustration. Um, well... you know what I mean. Oh wait, that's exactly what I mean... I think. Uh oh, feels like another loop coming on...


Thursday, April 26, 2007

4 of Four 

Sorry, didn't mean to leave you... you know. I've been experimenting with... twitter.com {thanks:iffy}. It's great when I'm feeling a little 'out of sync'.

Answers from the last exercise:
  1. [believers | seekers]
  2. {math-types | art-types}
  3. (science-types | religious-types)

If necessary(?), re-adjust your picture of the main character, Ginnie from [Excerpt 1]: She's a neophyte birdlike creature with herding instincts. Setting notes:
Ginnie's tank is a group of disparate schools. (Oh, the atmosphere is thick enough to flym in, by the time of this imagined future.) During her free time, she broadcasts music, videos, and images from her memories and thoughts over an underground channel that her friends monitor while their bodies are at work. In her 'honor', they call the channel "BreadCrumbs".


Right. That's one way to read it.

But if you think like I do, you might recognize twitter.com/renice as an edited-on-the-fly transcript of the way I think, as well as the way I learn (play in reverse).

Interwoven are stories I want to tell in the fiction and non-fiction I'm writing or planning, snatches of [images], "cartoon captions", and (so-called <-- says the whispering translator) {comic-relief}, [a dancer], There'sAlsoAdrummerWhoPopsIn, and 'ALovelySinger' (we wish). Unfortunately, a few people share/d voices.
(<--and that was a game piece. The basic piece = [+/?/-]. It signifies a trifurcated choice in meaning; if you choose a meaning that sounds a wrong note, ask yourself why, then find a meaning that only makes fun of you or us.)

If you read more than a panel or two, imagine that there are multiple story lines weaving maypole-like around a cylinder moving forward through time. {hattip:ScottMcCloud}

Welcome to my inner life: BreadCrumbs (to Mittelschmerz)

[If anything resonates, let's talk about collaboration. If you recognize your voice, imagine the far more positive future I'm seeing for us. In fact, read my little experiment in reflexiveReflection as An Ode to A Karmic Heaven, because I believe in both.]

More rules for another embedded game, later. For the game:linkAsync, choose [metaphor:adoptedLanguage]. And, as with all 'exercises', you only have to imagine doing this, but... well... here are the rules:
  • The final communication link must be in person, face to face.
  • Tell last indirect link messageGame to pass on.
  • The messages are [in your own words] (and make sure it's written down):
    1. Tell my mother {Virginia, Va} you saw my danceLove for her online (yes, we are out of sync).
    2. Tell the oldMan: [captionCartoon you think most appropriate for the New Yorker magazine].
    3. Tell kidOne I'm glad she's laughing.
And if you wonder what I'm doing, I just wrote my book-writing process + plot elements in a coded shorthand as a memory exercise: I'm embedding clues for the future (and anyone else who's interested). If you think like I do: I've also made a map of cultural wave markers, and while I was at it, I figured out how to take advantage of my mental input/output lags so I actually enjoy working (sorry cubeKids: imagine me dancing, literally, while I work).

However, you should also know that I'm looking at my twitter experiment as an illustration of a belief system, and how synchronization of our species might actually work. And if you see it the same way I do, you'll see an illustration of interwoven loops:
  • BreadCrumbs, [chooseMetaphor:soulMate], (and by the way don't shoot the illustrator :>).

(Directions: Re-read 4-part Intro until noFTWwtf, because I'm pretty sure I'm not the smartest one here. However, if I'm still not making sense, there is more to come [allegedly].)
Next: Levels and Layers ([72%full])


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thinking Style 

If you read my last post, you either chose to collaborate in the conceptual art I'm creating, or you chose to observe.

You can collaborate by trying to imagine the conceptual picture I'm trying to 'paint', and by trying to discover how the picture you're seeing is [different from / same as] the picture I'm seeing.


What was your first impression of the previous excerpt from the scifi novel I'm writing?

Re-read it if necessary, then choose one of the following statements that best describes your first impression:
  1. It was [crap / brilliant].
  2. Renice must be [crazy / high].
  3. I was [bored or confused / intrigued or enlightened].
Remember the number. In my next post, I'll tell you in which audience set I'm imagining you. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite M.C. Esher drawings to consider:

Drawing Hands, M.C. Escher, 1948, lithograph, © 2007 The M.C. Escher Company, the Netherlands. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Read more about M.C. Esher at www.mcescher.com.

By the way, happy spring! or, if you use a lunisolar calendar, happy NEW YEAR!

[Next: Excerpt 2]


Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Mysteries of Revelation 

Setting: A point beyond the next [recursion / cataclysmic climate change (i.e., geological/evolutionary era) / apocalypse (i.e., a point in the next Millennium)].

Ginnie has begun to cycle. As she moves between her assigned tanks, she starts to sync with orbital cycles. She begins to catch glimpses of the nature of the universe. She begins to synthesize information as if weaving a seamless garment, hem up. She gathers and assembles concepts into 4D diagrams and passes them to her mates in each tank, mindful of each tank's respective functions.

Her verbal skills have long begun to falter; she can no longer construct coherent images with sound. She chooses silence. Still, the visual images that she fires to her tanks are blinding. She doesn't stop to explain them; she is afraid of losing the signal before fulfilling her mission. Her images will have to explain themselves. She has taken great care in their construction; she deposits them as if they were children being turned out of her nest.

Pausing to look back, Ginnie can see the very shape of the learning curve she has been on. It took so long to reach this point. She is ashamed and wonders who is laughing at her.

And it stops.

Her own anxiety has knocked her out of cycle. She is devastated by her lack of focus. She must wait for the next pull. If she is impatient, she will miss it yet again.

On the next cycle, she reaches new heights. It is exhilarating, so she pushes on until she is overtaken by exhaustion. She is shut down again; set down still spinning. She will not catch the next pull until she has regained her balance. It will take more time than she had calculated, but there are no more alternatives.

She spends her waiting time reviewing her errors. The next phase, she falls back into the current and glides effortlessly higher with each pull. She is flying.

All it took was trust.

  1. Read that again as if you know I'm writing about a religious experience.
  2. Now read it again as if you know I'm writing about species evolution.
  3. Now read it as if you know I'm writing about the role of the endocannabinoid system in our health.
  4. Now read it as if you know I'm creating a work of conceptual art.
If you actually do the exercise, you will be a part of my image of the universe. But since this is an illustration of my image of the universe, you only need to think about doing it to see my image of the universe. ∞


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Enter Here 

I have been thinking about recursion a lot lately. Recursion in 4 dimensions as a model for the way the universe works.

To give my ideas form, as well as to actually explore the way the universe works, I decided to write science fiction. As a kid I recognized that, at its best, scifi is a synthetic environment for understanding the human species. If carefully constructed, an imagined world is a model that actually predicts behavior and outcomes. An accurate model is something systemizers like me need when we try to make sense of our environment.

Constructing a plausible future in science fiction requires faithfully applying the rules of science as we currently understand them. A reward for going through the process is that if I reach an understanding about the human species and its universe, then I will have found myself. (Huh, nice recursion in the way that works.)

To put it another way, I, like artist Peter Bodnar of whom I wrote in an earlier post, have also found the problem I want to spend my life's work on... finally. My mother certainly had me nailed when she called me a late bloomer.

My problem is an ancient one, and so is the solution -- but we seem to need to remind ourselves of it constantly, in every communication form that we create. Naturally, I've been here before, but the landscape and vehicle were a little different each time I passed. I have found my voice this pass, and this is it.

My voice doesn't sound anything like Peter's. If you like Peter's voice, you can buy a little piece of it and hang it in your living room, or... maybe the bedroom would be better. But if you, acting as a sort of distributed patron, gamble on a little piece of mine, you wouldn't be able to pick up any winnings, even if you win.

As for your odds of winning, I can tell you that the first word in my book is "I", and the last word is "Trust." If you simply think about your odds, you will become a part of my illustration of recursion. ∞

[Next: a book exerpt and an exercise.]


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Workstation Mod 

For anyone wondering why I haven't gotten back to them: sorry. I've become a little obsessed with some writing projects.

I do a lot of pacing while I write, so I'm actually standing up while I type this. I had to reconfigure the dining-room 'workstation' in order to comfortably stand and type, so voilà! I give you the Swampland Desk Extenders™:

I say 'swampland' because I'm using an old drainage tile that I first used as a bookshelf support when I was an undergrad.

Why I Love Wikipedia 

In between other projects, I've been constructing a blog post explaining all the reasons why I love Wikipedia. Today, instead of explaining why, I can point to an illustration of why. See the Oxytocin connection thread on the Asperger Syndrome talk page.

The ramifications to endocrinology, societal structure, gender politics, education, etc. explode. For example, this is also an illustration of how this networking technology truly allows women to fully participate as equals in the human conversation, and ensures that we will be included in the conversation.

Brad, Joe, Virden: you guys rock.


Friday, December 15, 2006

The Santa Mask 

I made my first post to Illustration Friday, finally. A behemoth Thank You to Julie for sharing her enthusiasm!

Since Julie first passed the link on to me, I've thought about each of the Illo Friday topics and worked out the images I would do if something else wasn't pressing. Last Friday, when the topic Mask was announced, I was stumped. Then I remembered something that had made me absurdly happy a few days earlier: A couple of guys I used to work with announced impending baby arrivals (congrats again Bud & Erika and Patrick & Jaclyn!). Next Christmas will be the very first for a couple of spankin' new people – and that almost feels as wonderful as spring.

When I think of Christmas, the first thing I think about is my childhood. Sure I looked forward to opening presents, but never as much as my friends did. My mother had an odd need to surprise people, even though she herself hated surprises – so she never gave me what I'd asked for, but rather something similar. She and my father would argue over what to get us sometimes when they thought we couldn't hear them on the other side of the Army commissary where we did our holiday shopping. Once in a while my dad prevailed, and I got something I really wanted (thanks for that chemistry set and microscope!).

But when I was thinking about the new babies, it dawned on me how much fun my dad had at Christmas. He had been a Depression kid, and I think Success for him was giving his kids more than he'd had. Even though I was born in the '50s and not the '20s, I know how that is because I too felt successful when I could give my kid more than I'd had.

That's when I put the Illo Friday assignment, Mask, together with what Christmas is from a parent's eyes: a time we get to put on the Santa mask, and that is real fun!

So I decided to walk away from all the things that were caving in on me, take a little meditation time and get the Daddy's Santa Mask image out of my head and onto a monitor.

Brad modeled for this illustration, and I used Photoshop to digitally approximate a style I used to work in a lot, using real scratchboard. I have to confess, I bitched just a little about how much easier it would have been if I'd had one of my favorite apps, Painter. Then I overheard Brad quietly ordering Painter for my Christmas present! Wow, forget about surprises – I know what's coming and I'm all atingle with anticipation! It's as good as the year I was 8 and found my parents' Christmas present stash in their closet a couple of weeks early!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Photoshop Fun 

UPDATE 4 Dec 2006: Michael's kitchen after-photos

Last Saturday night, while my dearheart and his buddies watched Schaumberg strippers doing unspeakable things to each other on stage (grrrr), I enjoyed perfectly seasoned pork tenderloin, grilled asparagus and red peppers, a nicely matched pinot noir, and, of course, delightful company.

Among other things, Boudreau, Dave-the-Pharmacist, and I discussed painting schemes for Michael's kitchen. It can be so hard to imagine what paint colors will look like in a room, so I volunteered to 'paint' a photo of the room.

It was a fun exercise, even though the layer masks I created for each wall probably took as much time as tape-masking the actual walls!

The Behr color swatches that Michael's considering, and their color scheme recommendations for Turtle dove:

The layers palette with masks (1), which were created from vector paths (2):

Now Michael can change paint colors by filling a layer, or go back to white by turning off a layer.

The original photo with white walls:

Voilà – a couple of key commands yield different paint plans:

1. accented counter

2. counter & back

3. accented back

4. counter & side

5. side & back

6. white brackets?

7. Behr recommends

8. Renice's oat & red

9. Go Illini :)

I can hardly wait to see what Michael decides, and how close the 'after' photo will be to its corresponding simulation.

UPDATE: Michael painted his kitchen months ago (he's not a procrastinator like me). He liked the colors in the Number 8 simulation and the effect of the Number 5 simulation, and sent me the after photo below on the left. He used Behr's Red Red Wine and Hazelnut Cream, and so I tried sampling Behr's online representation of those 2 paint colors to repaint the simulation. As you can see on the right, it doesn't work very well – just in case we needed more proof that on-line colors don't match real-world colors very well.

After photo of Michael's painted kitchen.

Simulation by eye.

Simulation sampling Behr's on-line simulated paint colors.

Behr's on-line simulated paint colors.


Friday, September 01, 2006

This Is Not a Short Story 

For all the people who find this blog while searching for essays and Cliff Notes (Cliff Notes?! for a 7,046-word story?) on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Purloined Letter", I have added a link on the left just for you. (By the way, my first post briefly explains why I named this blog after Poe's story.)

The link Regarding Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter" will take you to links about the story that I've collected and annotated at my del.icio.us account.

Admittedly many of the links I've collected are tough to find on US search engines. I found them only after entering the term "The Purloined Letter" at google.cn. I did the search as a test after reading that Google had caved in to the Chinese government's demands for censorship (see Perspective: Collaborators at Google – and beyond by Charles Cooper).

Does that mean censorship can be good? I'm still thinking about it.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Deciphering the Circus 

Sammy and ZZ's puppy play-fighting reminds me so much of the kayfabe of professional wrestling. So, I decided I needed to incorporate some appropriate jargon in my captions of a series of photos posted on my so-called moblog (see Wrestlemania 1, 2, and 3). Since I've probably watched pro wrestling for a grand total of 80 seconds, I had to rely on Wikipedia's compendium of wrestling slang. The read was illuminating.

As a bonus, I finally get the joke behind the name of Jack Black's latest flick (see wrestling term Lucha Libre). I might actually watch the movie now that I understand smarks a little better. After all, my entire life has been propelled by the suspension of disbelief.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Bad Omens 

The Nigerian government is busy trying to prevent riots during a solar eclipse later this month, since some there see an eclipse "as a bad omen, [or] attribute it to man's iniquities and indiscretion" (from allAfrica.com).

Gee, what American religious leader bozo does that sound like?

Just a small reminder that We the People must be diligent in supporting science education, and categorically reject the current administration's ill-conceived Faith-Based Initiatives in Education.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Foundations of Embarrassment 

I saw a new doctor yesterday. It was a good visit in important ways:
  1. He spoke with me as an intelligent peer.
  2. He seemed like someone I would enjoy in social settings (although his pink Ralph Lauren oxford reminded me of the pink oxfords my first husband had collected at prep school – which I summarily dispatched from his closet even while I questioned my own inexplicable bigotry).
  3. He seemed completely competent, and, additionally, he was confident in his competence, which I suppose to me means he had no need to prove competence by puffing up what he knew while hiding what he didn't. (In his book Coping with Difficult People, Robert Bramson distinguishes between 2 types of know-it-alls: Bulldozers and Balloons. I've always done better with Bulldozers than with puffed up Balloons – how can you not want to pop them?!)
However, my visit with the new doctor was catastrophic in another important way: I was wearing the wrong underwear.

Let that sink in a minute, without trying to create a mental image. Good mothers tell their children to wear clean underwear in case they might find themselves in an ambulance on any given day, and, while my own mother gave me no such advice, I'd heard elsewhere that she was supposed to have. So, of course, my underwear was most certainly clean – however, it was just as certainly wrong.

I recognize that this may be a difficult concept for some of my male readers: I recently saw a comedian's bit on the extent of choices women have in under garments. He was bewildered by the array of drawers in his wife's drawers. While believing a man's underbreeches serve no other purpose than to protect his clothing from his ass, he wondered what could possibly be the purpose for the dizzying variety of women's dainties.

It's a funny bit, and it reminded me of Joe reading over a time schedule I'd created for Jolie so she'd get to High School punctually and thus stay out of detention hall. Joe thought the amount of time I'd allotted to dressing was excessive, arguing that it took him 5 minutes at most to dress himself.

After some thought, I explained to Joe that we women not only have to decide which outfit will be appropriate for the day's activities, we also have to consider what to put under it. And to complicate matters, sometimes what's available in our personal stock of (clean) underwear won't work with the outfit we'd decided to wear, forcing us to start over. In fact, dressing can get so complicated, we can sometimes get stuck in a frustratingly extended Do Loop. (Unfortunately, when that happens, sometimes all you can do to terminate the Loop is crawl back under your bed covers.)

Back to my poor doctor who unexpectedly wanted to check for any spine curvature I might have developed. If you've ever been evaluated for scoliosis, you know how surprisingly innocent the words "bend over" can be. So when he said, "Remove everything except bra and panties [a word that sends me right back to age 10], and put on this gown, opening to the back," I knew what was coming.

And yet, I panicked. It's one thing to have your ass hanging out of a hospital gown, but quite another to have your Victoria's Secret hanging out. After all, you can't really choose your ass, so a bare ass, in any shape, doesn't really say that much about your character. Ahh, but your choice in underclothes can say volumes.

What can you do when you realize you're wearing the wrong unders at a time like that? In my panicked state, I considered the following:
  • Cut and run, even though it will be a month before I get another appointment.
  • Strip to the birthday suit and hope he doesn't notice since he's seen so many others.
  • Strip all and hope that if he notices, he'll simply think I'm demented (in a clinical sense, of course).
  • Expose my Secret self, apologize profusely, and explain repeatedly that I simply hadn't considered that stripping for a stranger might be among the day's activities.
  • Try to act like nothing is unusual, and pray he doesn't think I dressed up just for him.
I chose the latter option, and now I'm praying that a budding doctor-patient relationship hasn't been breached beyond repair. However the truth is, while an elegant statement in most any other circumstance, black satin is just plain embarrassing in the midst of stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and antiseptic swabs.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Brad is 48 todayHappy birthday
to the Old Man who
pushes my buttons.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006


You know we're in trouble when McDonalds is lobbying the FDA in the interest of consumers.

According to an AP report (see Group: U.S. Not Protected Against Mad Cow), 2 corporations and 7 individuals joined together to call for stronger safeguards against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. McDonalds wants our risk of exposure down to zero, while the American Meat Institute is comfortable with removing only 90% of "potential infectivity" from infected animals.

Yeah, I'm lovin' it.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Time for Retrospectives 

Karl Nilsson of Sweden, AP photo by David Longstreath
It's been nearly a year since I first wrote about little Karl Nilson, and how his survival from the flood-like waters of the Southeast Asian tsunami reminded me of my father's survival from a 1936 flood (see my entries Selective Perceptions, Undesirable Baggage, Mystic Mischief, and Of Biblical Proportions). Since then, this blog has been visited every week by people searching for news of what happened to the Swedish boy. So I decided to post here the latest I could find. According to an AP report of June 24, 2005 by Mattias Karen:
Marie Guldstrand, a Swedish doctor whose family brought Kalle back to Sweden, said he once asked that since Jesus was raised from the dead, "wouldn't it be possible to do that with my parents?"
     "He had those existential questions that are completely impossible to answer," said Guldstrand.
     Today, Kalle lives with his grandparents in Boden, about 600 miles north of Stockholm, and Guldstrand regularly keeps in touch.
     Cold reality has started to sink in for the boy, she said.
     "He has realized the full extent of what has happened, even though he, like many others, held out hope for a long time that his family would be found," Guldstrand said.
     But he also has times when he can forget the pain and play like an ordinary child.

I don't believe my father ever forgot the pain of surviving his family, rather he subverted it in order to go on. Even while it has plagued him from underneath thickening skin, he has gone on. At 15, he ran away from his grandparent's home and lied about his age to join the Army Air Corps; later, he served in Korea where he saw other boys die; at some point he completed his turn away from the Catholic faith of his parents; he married at 25 and had 2 daughters before his 29th birthday; through the Cold War, he spent weeks away from his family with his finger hovering over a button deep in a missile silo; he divorced at 42 and since then has been through so many divorces and remarriages, I've lost count; and throughout it all, he has struggled with depression and wishes for his own death. Now at 76, he lives alone in the rocky Texas hill country.

His only granddaughter is a few months shy of the age her grandpa was when he first married, but he's seen her only a few times. In 4 days, she will join her dad and me for a Christmas Eve dinner, and I will remember how my father could never wait for Christmas morning. I laugh every time I remember his pointing at red lights in the sky on Christmas Eves, telling us that Rudolph was over our house; it was his ruse so we could open presents early – so eager was he to watch his children open Santa's gifts.

I suppose I'm too jaded to hope for world peace this year, as I had so often in my optimistic youth. Instead, during this holiday noted for its annual increase in depression and suicide, I wish peace to my father and to Kalle and to countless other survivors.

Sometimes it seems like I'm settling for smaller things as I get older, but I guess it's still an awfully big wish.


Thursday, October 13, 2005


I went to a sex toy party last night.

Oh my, I don't even know where to start. So many ironic juxtapositions!

First, there was the disturbing flashback to my mother's Tupperware parties in the early 1960s – kaffeeklatsches of young housewives giggling over 'burping' plastic lids. I watched my mother and her neighbors with a bit of panic: Is this what growing up is about? "Oh God," I thought at 8, "it's not bad enough You made me someone boys won't allow on the baseball field next door, You have to go and make me someone who is supposed to get excited about containers for dinner leftovers?"

But back to sitting in the circle of more enlightened women who filled Holly's living room last night: As Marcey the party consultant was introducing us to bigger and more athletic ramming devices, the reference to 'tupping' from Othello popped into my head. It was hard to concentrate on the synthetically rubbery phalli and yoni we were passing around while I was wondering how Tupperware came to bear that suggestively tinged reference. Were those sly marketers of the '60s selling polyethylene lettuce keepers with subliminal sex? (Alas, no. The inventor's name was the rather Shakespearean sounding Earl Tupper – honestly, you can't make up shit like this.)

Thank god for synthetic materials: where would food storage and sex be without them?! Unfortunately we've twisted molecules around in so many ways that you now have to be smart about mixing your lubes and rubbery toys – god forbid you should use petroleum-based lube with latex, or silicone-based lube with your silicone strap-on. Yikes. Time was, when it came to lubricants, the only thing you had to worry about was whether your mother would notice her Crisco disappearing between Fried Chicken Sundays. (That wasn't a I-had-to-walk-5-miles-barefoot-to-school-in-the-snow story, but it was close – sorry.)

At a point last night, Marcey asked me to stand in the middle of the circle so she could demonstrate the effects of a warming lubricant on my skinny shaft of a forearm. I had a moment of dissonance when I was asked which flavor I'd like to try, "Hot Apple Pie, Cinnamon, Hot Buttered Rum, or Strawberries and Whipped Cream?" Oh dear. Can you even say "Apple Pie" without thinking "Mom"? Now add "Hot" and what else can you get but MILF? Where was Freud when I needed him? Forgive me Sigmund; I succumbed to Hot Apple Pie, and indeed later spent nine dollars and fifty cents on 4 ounces of the stuff.

It's been argued elsewhere that Earl Tupper's greatest invention wasn't his plastic products but the party-format sales pitch, and I agree. But I've seen it tried unsuccessfully with other products – I've been to stoneware dish parties, and country-craft kitsch parties and left without buying a thing. So it's not the format alone that works. Last night I bought far more than my budget allowed, and I think it was the giggling.

*See Othello, Act I, Scene I:
"Even now, now, very now, an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe."


Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Think I May Need... A Little Imagination 

If you haven't seen The Girl in the Café, do.

I thought it was a wonderful little fairytale along the same lines as Lennon's song Imagine – that is until I saw this Reuters news photo. The fact that the 'leader of the free world' has to ask his Secretary of State if it's possible to take a bathroom break somehow makes the naiveté of the movie's character Gina so much less fantastical.

On a practical (and related) note, you can urge your reps to cosponsor the Millennium Development Goals legislation.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Heard It Here First 

With deep-felt thanks to dear friends who patiently listened these past few months while I sorted out career options, I have resigned from CITES Departmental Services at the University of Illinois to pursue projects I hope will be more personally rewarding.

Woo hoo!


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Positive Critique 

I've been holding a few ideas for paintings and multiple originals (aka prints) in the back of my mind for years now, just hoping for a little time on my hands. Maybe it's only a phase I'm going through – afterall, I've been thinking and reading about aging a lot lately – but those unbirthed works have started calling to me.

When I begin making marks for myself again, it would be nice to get some feedback from others who choose visual communication when words aren't enough. Unfortunately, I've been out of touch with CU's blossoming art community for a long while now. Typically the only way I know what's going on is through my 40 North/88 West membership, so it's been well worth the annual fee I pay.

Last night I went to an open art crit, just to look and listen. The crit was part of the series "A Call to Arts: Open Critiques", co-sponsored by 40 North and Krannert Art Museum. The series is moderated by (and largely organized by) Jenny Southlynn of Pamphlet Press. (See her "Rules of Engagement" for the crits.)

Jenny and I first met in grad school when we were working on Art Education degrees. Our advisor often used our polar philosophies on art ed issues to stir up class debates. After grad school, she and I headed in very different directions, only occasionally running into each other at openings where we would catch up on the soundbites of each other's lives. And last night, with a warm hug, she graciously vanquished any sheepishness I felt about going to the first crit I've been to since school.

Presenting your work in public is a scary thing. I once told a writer friend that it was like "ripping open my chest and saying, 'here's what makes me tick – whaddya think?'" Presenting your work to other artists can be even worse. But last night I was very impressed with the work presented, and with the supportive and constructive comments by a sensitive group.

During the crit, I invariably liked the works even more after listening to the artists describe their motivations and stumbling blocks. I unexpectedly fell in love with a work in pinks and greens from a set of paintings out of Kim Curtis' Landscapes – so much so that I was willing to pull out my checkbook right then. It wasn't exactly the response I thought I'd have to an art crit, but I'm looking forward to visiting Kim's studio soon – and to the next crit!

Sandra Ahten discusses her 3 most recent paintings from an upcoming series of 12.
[Photo posted during crit to my moblog.]

Update: The next Open Crit will be at High Cross Studio (the co-op studio's name refers to its location, not a religious affiliation), 7pm, Wednesday June 15. [MAP]


Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day Nightmare 

On the moblog I set up Friday, you'll see photos of Sophie in a veterinary ER clinic.

Brad and I drove to Chicago Friday night to spend Mother's Day weekend with Jolie, who flew in from NYC. We had a great time on Saturday, and I documented some of the highlights in my Dispatches from the Field.

Sophie during our Saturday morning walk.Early Saturday and Sunday mornings, Sophie and I walked along the river across from Marina City (image right: Sophie poses during our morning walk on Saturday). However, during the morning walk on Sunday, our weekend took a dark turn.

While I was looking across the river to the Chicago Tribune building, Sophie jumped up on a seat built into the wall and from there hopped right up to the top of the wall, where I suppose she expected to find another flat place to sit. Instead, the wall was rounded on top, and hid a 15- to 20-foot drop to a sidewalk below. I screamed as I saw her go down. It took me a slow-motion minute to get to her. She called out to me 4 or 5 times as I was running around to a ramp down. When I got to her, she was struggling unsuccessfully to stand.

I held her still and called Brad, who was sleeping back in the hotel. While we waited, another tourist who'd seen the frightening incident ran to our aid. She helped me stand while cradling Sophie, and she answered my cell phone when Brad called back – I wish I'd gotten her name to thank her. Brad and Jolie had gotten an emergency vet's address from the helpful concierge at the pet-friendly House of Blues Hotel. After finding us, Brad and Jolie hailed a cab, and we arrived at the vet's 10 minutes later. By then, Sophie's right eye was closed and her pupils were different sizes. X-rays showed that she hadn't broken anything, but she had some air between her heart and sternum. She spent the next 21 hours at the clinic, on fluids and under observation. I spent Mother's Day sobbing.

After leaving Jolie at Midway for a 6am flight this morning, Brad and I picked up Sophie. She was so happy to see me, she jumped from the crate 4' up – the vet and I caught her just in time! Her gait is still a little unsteady, and her right eye is a bit swollen, but she seems to be doing pretty well considering how hard she'd gotten whacked. When we stopped at Lincoln Park on our way home, she grabbed a stick and barked for me to throw it.

What a lucky little dog!

Sophie's fall from Upper Wacker to Lower Wacker

UPDATE 13 Aug 2006: During our last Chicago visit, Jolie posed a few feet from the spot where Sophie had landed. The red line shows the trajectory of Sophie's fall from Upper Wacker to Lower Wacker.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bloggin' Mo' 

Eeek. It's been a while. Faraway friends have been emailing me to find out if I'm still rolling my stone up the hill. I am. And eventually I'll get back to the La Secretaria story I promised, uh, months ago.

Ironically (since I haven't actually been blogging), I talked briefly about blogging at the UIUC Webmasters Forum yesterday – I joined Joe Grohens and Jack Brighton for Blogs, Wikis, and RSS Feeds.

We had a lot to cover, and unfortunately I didn't get to the thing I'm most buzzed about this week: moblogging. While setting up a practice demo at blogger.com, I discovered that I can post photos from my camera phone to a free blogger.com blog using the mail-to-blogger address found under "Email" in Settings. Posting the photo on my practice demo took seconds, literally. I added the title and text later. Hmmm... I'm going to have to add a column here just for phone photos!


Sunday, January 30, 2005

"Poetry is what is lost in translation." 

So said Robert Frost.

If my writings were even just a little poetic, then I could say that must be what's wrong with Google's translations of them. Take a look at Google's Spanish translation of my previous entry. I'm amused, for example, that "the Book of Job" is translated "el libro del trabajo", or "the book of work". Since "Job" with a long O sound is stored in a completely different place in my brain from the word "job" with a short O, I actually spent a moment of dissonance figuring out why the automated translator had chosen the latter.

(My Francophile friends may enjoy opening google.com/fr, typing in "link:blog.renice.com", or another favorite URL, and clicking "Traduire cette page".)

I'd found the Spanish translation only because I noticed in my logs that someone in Spain is reading translated versions of these entries. Since the translations don't always make sense, I'm wondering what conclusions my Spanish audience has reached. I'm also wondering if these translations don't, to some extent, offer a new way to think about accessibility. At any rate, I'm having some fun reading the translations.

I love Spanish. I took 3 years of Spanish in college, even though it meant I had to petition the dean to count the language toward my Art History degree (French, German, or Italian were preferred). Although I've never been able to roll Spanish off my tongue as fast as a college friend, a certain amiga Puertorriqueña, chided me that I should, I have always loved hearing and reading it. Back as an undergrad, I had planned to live some day in a Spanish-speaking country – in fact, I hope to yet.

Of course, some may argue that I live in a Spanish-speaking country now – and I have to admit that I've had occasion to agree.

[Next: How I became La Secretaria de la Línea.]


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Of Biblical Proportions 

A frightening video of tsunami waters surging through Banda Aceh was aired on NBC News last night. It's also available on video.msn.com (thanks KB), for Win users (only – Bill strikes again). The images give a whole new meaning to the word debris – "bits and pieces left from destruction"* hardly fits. In the video, you scarcely see the violent waters – it looks more like a grey glacier of garbage rushing down a steep grade, except that the weather is tropical and the street is flat.

Once again, the undercurrents of my father's traumatic childhood resurface in my limited little brain. Because his family had drowned, my father was adamant that his kids learn to swim. Trying to quell his anxieties, I worked hard to succeed in the classes he sent us to. At 10 and 11, I rapidly ascended skill levels so that I was swimming with much older kids (competitive military brats, all). With each of my promotions, my father's pride swelled. He even bragged that I would compete on the Olympics swim team some day. Unfortunately, I deeply disappointed him a few years later when I stopped swimming (I'd become conscious of not fitting the prevalent Texan tastes in women's body types and avoided swimsuits throughout my teens).

Photo of Wernette family headstone in Nixon Texas cemetary, by George Travis Wernette, July 2004While watching the Banda Aceh video, my father's obsessive push for us to swim suddenly didn't make sense to me. His family didn't drown because they couldn't swim. Newspaper accounts quote witnesses telling how his father, Clarence Wernette (usually misspelled in the reportage), heroically rode his horse through the current to rescue neighbors who'd built their homes closer to the river – and how he was hit by a tree limb and slipped unconsciously under the muddy torrent. His wife and two daughters, whom he'd left 'safely' on higher ground, were killed a bit later by a crush of water and the debris of the house he'd built for them.

Since December 26th, I've read dozens (hundreds?) of stories and commentaries on private and commercial news websites from around the world. Over and over I've read of people ascribing that day's natural disaster, or surviving it, to either the grace or the vengefulness of gods of various belief systems. In response, I've been devising an entry on why the Book of Job has been my favorite since I'd read the Bible over 25 years ago – how, since the 1980s, I've responded to misguided Christian friends who insisted that disease, especially AIDS, was divine retribution with, "Really? Have you read the Book of Job lately?"

But in his NY Times op-ed piece "Where Was God?", William Safire makes my case far better than I could have. Overall, he nails it. Certainly, as Safire writes, one of the lessons from Job is that "suffering is not evidence of sin." And, although I'd never looked at it this way, I also like Safire's argument that "questioning God's inscrutable ways... need not undermine faith." However, Safire and I may diverge slightly on the lesson to take from God's response to Job's defiant questions. I've always thought the concluding point was not that we creatures, with our limited little brains, can safely question God, but rather that... there is simply no point.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More Blogging on Blogging 

Over the last 3 days, I've read a number of articles in the commercial media on the 'phenomenal' influence of blogs this year. I've gotten the strong sense that, when people in commercial media say "blog", they're actually saying, "An Unexpected Goldmine of Ideas and Developments Delivered Directly from the Hoi Polloi", rather than the more tactful definitions for "blog" that they routinely provide their technophobic readers.

After reading several commercial media references to the blogosphere's "echo chamber effect" (which is a popular topic among bloggers as well, e.g., Kevin Werbach, David Weinberger, Joi Ito), I went searching for perspectives contrary to mine. Using Technorati's blog-search engine, I used the keywords tsunami and catastrophe to see what others are thinking about The Big Story. In this eye-opening random tour, I read:
  • an assertion that an effort to rescue tsunami-dazed dolphins demonstrates the Wildlife Friends of Thailand's poor priorities*

  • a lament from various right-wingers that the US should not provide aid to any country that harbors people wearing t-shirts bearing Osama Bin Laden's image*

  • a comment from an Australian in SE Asia who mentions in an aside that everyone in the region noticed how much longer it took American forces to arrive *

  • complaints that westerners need a "a blond haired, blue eyed kid to bring home the death of tens of thousands of brown babies"*

I also found a tiny bit of what might be evidence of the "self-healing" aspect of blogs (as mentioned in commercial media articles) from updated posts like Corey Koberg's, warning that all the scary images bandied about on blogs, including his before someone set him straight, may not actually be images from The Super Tsunami.

All in all, I'm not sure what to think now, except that, while I love the Unexpected Goldmine of Ideas and Developments Delivered Directly from the Hoi Polloi, I still want to read the commercial media – as long as they're not seduced by the immediacy of blogs, but strive to deliver well-sleuthed and professionally edited journalism.

While I was writing the entry above, I was reminded of an article I'd read in the Smithsonian magazine during my wait for a doctor yesterday. I couldn't remember which issue I was reading, but, thanks to a quick and helpful response from Carolyn McGhee of Smithsonian Reader Services, I've found the article on their thorough website. See "All the News That's Fit to Sing" from the October 2004 issue for an interesting history of journalism and the early reliance on rumors and gossip – seems bloggers have established a new globalized "Tree of Cracow".


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Mystic Mischief 

My father's childhood trauma had other odd repercussions. One thrust on me when I was 8 or 9 was the idea that his survival had been an act of divine intervention. My mother's cousin and her 3 kids explained with some satisfaction, that my father had been saved because he was meant for great things.

The idea was quite staggering to me, and my cousins pressed the issue as confusion certainly spread across my freckled face. The 3 kids, all within 2 years of my age, and their mother explored with infectious enthusiasm all the 'great things' that could be my father's 'destiny' – perhaps he would save others, perhaps he would be an important leader, perhaps he would discover something valuable. "Or perhaps," said my mother's cousin, "he was saved because Renice or Chris is meant to do something important." With that, her 3 children turned widened eyes to scrutinize my sister and me.

Suddenly I understood how weighty expectation is. In that instant, I saw a new dimension of my father's struggle with depression. Only years later would I learn the term "survivor guilt" and know that it is far more complex than a mere sense of unworthiness.

Yesterday, as I read the NY Times article "Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate", I was reminded of the deep need to explain what we can't understand by using the supernatural.

The article recounts how a participant tries to bring rationality to a lively discussion on explanations for the tsunami devastation: "Not to make fun, as I'm sure it's not a unique misconception ... but the reality is simple plate tectonics....That's it. No mystic injury to the Gaia spirit or anything."

A very similar debate between mysticism and logic has raged in my own head since the day my cousins turned anticipation-clouded eyes in my direction.