Sunday, February 28, 2010
I turn around just in time to see the fireworks of expensive metal hitting expensive highway in the post dusk gloom. My throat constricts as Dave slams on the brakes and wheels over to the side of the northbound lanes of I-95. I don't even notice the seat belt as it digs in, I am already frantic in my search for the unfamiliar belt clasp in a vehicle I don't know.
Three doors open simultaneously and we jump out. Without any consideration of where we are, we all begin running down the center lane of I-95 northbound to save our cherished mounts from further indignities. Just as I reach the custom built Diamondback I spent too much time and money on, lights appear at the top of the rise south of us.
I look over at Mike standing over his trashed scoot. He looks over at me and we both look south. In that moment I know we are dead meat. Two travelers buzzing along at 65mph crest the hill and bear down on us.
There is no time to move. There is no escape. One car owns the slow lane. One car owns the lane we are in.
Grabbing my bike, I turn to run just as the first car reacts to our presence in the center of I-95 northbound. Wheels squeal and the car careens into the fast lane. Over correcting, it slides sideways some and heads for the grass in the center strip. Meanwhile, the car in the slow lane hits the brakes and off the road into the ditch they head. Both cars missing us standing there holding our broken bicycles frozen like deer in the headlights.
It seems like an eternity as we turn and follow the two cars that miss us. Neither car stops once they regain control. Both find the highway and continue their journey. We gather our bikes and our wits and head directly to the shoulder. Not one of the three us speak until we get back to Dave's car.
My blinged out bike is mangled. Mike's Cannondale looks bad also. But there, still on the trunk rack swinging in the breeze, is Dave's bike. I make a mental note for future road trips. Try to finagle my bike on the rack first next time.
Whenever I read a story about the stupid things people do that get them killed, I don't hold them in contempt anymore. Oh, I might for a moment or two. But those lucky moments on I-95 northbound just after dusk somewhere south of Portland always sneak in to humble any superiority I might have.
Image from The Frugal Yankee And yes, I know it is from the Movie "Christine".
Friday, February 26, 2010
On a blog I visit on an irregular basis, the blogger had posted commentary about an incident in a Maryland school that had caused them some inner conflict. Apparently a student refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and was not only dressed down harshly in front of the class by the teacher but dragged into the Principal's office.
Much hub bub ensued with the ACLU involved turning this local flare up into something more. The teacher was wrong. The school was wrong. Maryland law is quite clear about it.
The blogger understood the legality and agreed that the teacher and the school should apologize for what happened. But in their heart, felt the teacher had done the right thing. The Flag should never be disrespected but revered.
Naturally I had to put in my two cents worth. I said I saw no controversey. The student's rights had been violated. End of story.
Okay, so on another blog, Menopausal Stoners, I read an excellent piece by an admitted Lefty on the whacky-ness of the recent Tea Party phenomenon. In her piece, images of old folks wearing US Flag shirts were prominent. As she remembered the days when Hippies were castigated for their flag wear, she pointed out the obvious contradiction between then and now.
And then I remembered a house in the woods I saw on a ride last Sunday before I got sick. In front of this classic Maine shit box, a flag pole stood tall. From it's top a very sad and torn American Flag flew. It obviously had not been taken down in months, maybe years. I was reminded of rockets first glare and British storming Ft. McHenry. Only here in the woods of Maine, the only storming this house had seen was serious neglect.
American Flag purists have rules about how our flag is to be treated from when it comes out of the box right up to and including how to properly dispose of it. There are rules of when it should be flown. How it should be flown. And rules filling us in on what constitutes flag desecration. From what I have learned over the years, the old fart at the top decked out in the latest Tea Party wear is indeed desecrating the flag even as he prays to it.
Damn, I love this country. The contradictions, the idiocy, the absolute cluelessness of some of my fellow citizens somehow makes no dent. The boys who started this whole thing were indeed working some magic when they came up with our framework. For in spite of ourselves, somehow we continue to stumble on.
Note - Image poached from Meonpausal Stoners - Where she got it I haven't a clue.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Even though I told Cormac to enjoy his time off, he came up with a challenge after all. Thank you sir for the prompt.
Here we have another SciFi attempt. Or is it just another weak effort on my part to find God again? I also decided to attempt a dialog only piece. The process of metal protection mentioned actually exists, even though I am sure I have it all wrong as to how it works. It is just a story after all.
"Jones, I thought we were supposed to to be looking for a non-corrosive solution to this problem. Just look at the oxidation taking place under the lens of the microscope. This new material you came up with is corroding faster than the last batch we created."
"Patience Professor, patience. The alloy combination I came up with needs more time to congeal with the particulates and moisture in the air. Certainly some corrosion will take place. I warned you this would happen. But what looks like corrosion is actually the final phase in the transformation of man-made inorganic material into an organic material even Mother Nature would embrace.
"Right. More of your SciFi wizardry.....atom sized robots or something. What is it you call it again?"
"Nanotechnology. And it is not Science Fiction.........Look, you agreed to help us with this once you found out where I came from and what I had to offer. I can just pack up and leave you here stumbling around like the old fool you are. There are others with similar letters behind their name who would jump at this opportunity. I picked you to become the "famous Nobel Prize Winner" who will save the World for future generations. You will become the father of Nanotechnology. It is all part of the plan. But let's get something straight. This is not so much Nanotechnology, as it is a major step in it's development. Without this one innovation, Nanotechnology will not exist within the time frame we have set up. It is imperative that you understand it enough to bullshit your way through an explanation. So pay attention."
"Well then, carry on sir."
"Okay, so here we have what looks like a basic piece of steel. As you have just pointed out, it is beginning to corrode even faster than it normally would. Up until now, your approach has been to defeat corrosion by just mixing various metals in various ways without any real consideration to how corrosion works. My method and process takes corrosion and uses it against itself. Exposed to the elements, this piece of steel will form an outer layer of corrosion...what you people call rust. But only in the outer layer of molecules. Once this has happened, the corrosion will stop as the outer layer of rust forms an impervious protective cover to any further chemical breakdown of the alloys inside. It ain't pretty, but it works."
"I read your formulas. I read your explanations. I have listened to you and tried my best to understand, but ......."
"Don't panic Professor. All you have to do is be able to bull shit your way through this like you have the rest of your life. You were chosen just because of your almost magical ability to fool all the people all the time. Trust me. History will thank you and honor you. But only if you follow my directions."
"Control? Techfred Williams here. There seems to be a glitch occurring in Alternate Future number 4."
"Uh, Is that not Techfred Jones' mission?"
"Yes Control, he just arrived and was debriefed yesterday. But there is a spike in the viability index numbers that bothers me."
"Get him on the horn immediately."
"Yes Sir. Techfred Williams out."
"I prefer "Your Highness"."
"Uh okay. Well "Your Highness", you really screwed up this project. I laid out specific instructions and you tossed them as soon as I left the room. I will admit we never anticipated this omnipotent tendency of yours, but there it is. Five minutes after I have gone, you go all manic and start believing you are the World's Saviour. To your credit, you obviously have some talents we did not anticipate."
"Like controlling the World?"
"Yeah, like controlling the World."
"So what is it you want Jones?"
"Nothing Prof....uh Your Highness. Just stopped in to ask you if you remember the microscope and what you saw in there?"
"It is burned into my memory."
"And you do remember the instructions I left you?"
"Of course. All I had to do was alter them some and well, you are calling me "Your Highness" now."
"I see. I would have thought you were smart enough to remember some of the basics of scientific endeavor. When experimenting, stringent procedures must be followed in order to get reliable results. You wandered off the reservation Professor and I am just here as a courtesy to tell you we are pulling the plug on this experiment."
Until next time...............
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Rather than use this post to condemn the actions of others, I thought I would check out some other sites for hints and points to consider about my own behaviour. I googled "Blogging Etiquette" and of course Google took about a millisecond to pump up more sites than I could check in a week.
As I read through several blogging posts, online articles, and op/ed pieces about blogging etiquette, I decided that I was conducting myself within the parameters of what could be considered decent blogging behaviour. Some of the hints/rules caught me though as I remembered an occasion or two when I didn't do that, or did do that which was considered by the self appointed expert as being outside the accepted ranges of blogging etiquette.
The bottom line I think is I get what I give. If I want to be an asshole, then I should expect folks to be assholes back. If I want to make friends wherever I go, then I need to be very cautious about opening my mouth before I know the temperment of a particular blog.
The one thing I have decided is that once I have screwed up and angered or insulted someone, if I have done all I could to make amends, then I need to move on. They either get over it or they don't. They either accept my apology or they don't. If they have not responded to my efforts to make amends, then I assume all is not forgiven , but oh well, that's on them I guess.
The one thing I would ask of anyone whose nose I have tweaked, if you have a problem with my actions or inactions, please e-mail me. Having negativity hanging out there unresolved is never good for a healthy interaction. For either side.
For more on Blogging Etiquette here are some sites that I touched base with:
~ Suite 101.com
~ Blogging Without a Blog
~ Blogging Tips
If I have one major weakness, it is my failure to respond to the comments on my posts. I do it, but not consistently. I will try to do better. Note that I said try. That is all I can promise because until I prove that I will, trying is all I got.
Monday, February 22, 2010
When I cut n'pasted all the suggested lines onto the draft page of my blog, I stared at them for awhile. As I stared at them, I noticed a kind of mutuality (is that even a word?)or theme seemed to run through them. I figured I'd integrate all the lines and allow them to dictate the direction the story took.
So thanks to all who suggested. Even you Randal. You guys wrote this, not me.
CJT - "I felt like death warmed up."
David Barber - "The beer in front of me looked so good but I couldn't drink it, because the last time I had one I...."
Kulkiri - "This is Acadia Hospital in Bangor calling, may I speak with......"
Demeur - I could just barely make out the flashing blue lights and road flares as I drove...
sunshine - "As he read the letter in his hands, he wondered how things had become so bad".
Randal - Fiction? We don't need no stinkin' fiction.
Middle Ditch - On a dark and gloomy night ....
On a dark and gloomy night Mark Downey sat down at the bar over to Gus' Place. He ordered a draft and thought about what he had just been through. Gus slammed the draft down in front of him. Suds from his over filling it left a trail of white foam the length of the bar. Mark put both hands around the pilsner glass but didn't raise it to his lips. Gus wiped his hands on that damn nasty rag he always had over his shoulder.
"Mark, you look awful bub."
"Gus I feel awful....like death warmed up."
"Uh, don't you mean death warmed over?"
"Whatever". Mark was in no mood to be congenial, never mind worry whether he had a saying right or not. The last five hours had been the worst five hours of his life. Gus looked at him. Shrugging Mark off, Gus slung that nasty rag over his shoulder and headed back to the other end of the bar. After thirty years of tending bar, Gus knew when a man needed to be alone.
The beer in front of him looked so good but he couldn't drink it, because the last time he had one he didn't make it home that night. That was what, eight years ago Mark guessed. But something was needed to ease the pain, to drive the clear memory of that phone call five hours earlier from his brain.
"This is Acadia Hospital in Bangor calling, may I speak with...... uh, Mark Downey please?"
"Speaking. This is Mark."
"Sir, there is no good way to put this. So I will get right to it. It appears your wife and a child have been in a serious traffic accident. Do you have a son?"
Mark stood there with the phone clamped to his ear. He said nothing. He could not say anything.
"Sir? Are you there Mr Downey?"
Mark felt panic rising in his throat. His gut tightened convulsively. Yet he still could not speak. Another blank moment passed before he finally spoke. "An accident? What kind of traffic accident? Yes, I have a son. Joshua. Are they alright? What happened? Jesus Christ, Susan was just picking up Josh at the ice rink."
"Sir?...Sir?....Mark! I need you to collect yourself. We have questions and you are the only one who can answer them. Can you get down here soon?"
"Uh, Sure. On my way." Mark slammed down the phone. His aim was off and it fell from the cradle to the floor. He considered leaving it, but knew Susan would give him Hell for it. She ran a tight ship and of late, he had been trying his best to help. Bending down, his eyes came level with the small table top that held the hall way phone. Leaning up neatly against the wall on the top next to the base of the phone, an envelope sat. "Mark" was written on it.
Mark's gut twisted some more. His wife never left him notes in envelopes. Usually he would find her "post its" stuck to the kitchen table informing, dictating, or apprising him of recent events or chores he was slacking on. An envelope indicated serious stuff inside. Mark found the phone and slowly straightened up.
Grabbing the envelope, he headed to the hall closet for his jacket. He considered opening the letter but thought he better not. He needed to focus. The envelope could wait. He stuffed it in his jacket pocket and headed out into the bitter cold January night.
Mark pushed the old 87 GMC pick up to it's limit. The six cylinder engine tapped out, the ancient Fisher plow bouncing and swaying from the frost heaves that always show up in late January. The one working light on the plow cast a dim path, but he didn't need any light. I-95 was clear of snow and ice creating a dark dual ribbon laid down on the all white landscape. Mark kept his foot planted hard on the accelerator.
Near the Hermon exit, Mark could just barely make out the flashing blue lights and road flares of a traffic accident. As he drove up the short incline towards the exit, he just caught sight of a figure waving a flashlight in time to miss them and careen into the breakdown lane. A logging truck was tipped on it's side and what looked like might have been a car lay crumpled in front of it. Instantly Mark knew that crumpled clump of blue metal was their Jeep. Unconsciously, Mark pressed harder on the accelerator, hoping to squeeze even more miles per hour out of the tired six cylinder.
Mark sat in the small waiting room outside the critical care unit. Numb to all the emergency care that swirled around him, he barely noticed when one of the human shapes dressed in white broke ranks and approached him. "Mr Downey?"
Mark looked up. The doctor could tell Mark was not home. Mark had the Thousand Yard Stare. "Mr Downey". The doctor placed his hand on Mark's shoulder. "Please Mr Downey, I need your attention."
Mark blinked once. He blinked again. In a low clear voice, "Susan was just picking Josh up at the rink. How could this have happened?"
"Mr Downey, you have my condolences. Losing a family member is traumatic. Losing two in one incident, well, words fail me sir. I truly wish we could have saved them both, but well, Dr Simpson has already told you why........Mr Downey, unfortunately we need you to answer some questions, but they can wait. Our staff grief counselor is in her office if you would like to see her now. She can help guide you and counsel you on where you might go from here. Here is her card. She is on the first floor. Take your time."
Mark did not hear the man. The doctor placed the card in his hand. Mark continued to stare at the double drinking fountain out in the hallway. One at a height perfect for his wife and the other just right so Josh wouldn't have to stand on his tip toes. "How could this happen? She was picking him at the rink?
Unconsciously, Mark took the card and began to place it in his jacket pocket. Leaving the grief counselor's card, his hand came out of his pocket clutching the letter from Susan he had stuffed in there after the phone call from the hospital. It's appearance seemed to bring him back from wherever it was he had gone. He once again studied the envelope. The classic neat tight hand Susan used when she wrote cut through his grief stricken fog. Turning it over, Mark tore open the flap.
I know you have done your best to pull yourself together for Josh and me but I am not able to deal with the life we have made for ourselves these last few years. You are stronger than I am. I have failed in all ways as your wife, your lover, your friend. Because of this, I am taking Josh and moving back home to West Virginia. Please do not follow us. I will contact you when we get settled in.
As he read the letter in his hands, he wondered how things had become so bad.Not only was his family dead now, they were dead because of him. It was his fault they left. His fault Susan felt the need to leave him. Mark dropped the letter and the envelope on the floor and staggered out of the Critical Care waiting room. Two hours later after driving aimlessly around the snow laden night of central Maine he was seated at Gus' Place deciding whether to have this beer or not all based on what his dead wife might think.
On the new wide screen Gus had just purchased and was so proud of, the late night news began a segment on Susan's accident. Mark looked up from his beer to see once again the blue lights and the crumpled Jeep. Taking the beer in hand he raised it to the screen and screamed,
"Fiction? We don't need no stinkin' fiction."
Every eye in the place turned on him. But Mark was busy draining the last drop out of that pilsner glass and then slamming it down on the bar.
"Yo Gus, another beer here!"
I had tried to use the lines exactly as written. But then I ran into the problem of mixing point of views. I hear it is possible to make that work, but well, I had my pants full just telling it the way it came out. Some slight changes in a couple of them solved my problem.
I have to admit that when I began this story I was hot to trot. But events of the last few days caused my enthusiasm for it to fall dramatically. However, since I started it, I figured I would finish it.
As usual, I am off on another tangent. See ya..........................
Once I got into the busy beaver routine and it felt comfortable again, I decided to try and give my blogging fix some attention. I figured to get up each morning and write something before I stepped out into my role as Fix it up Freddy or Bike Shop Bozo. I even kinda, sorta came up with a plan of how many hours I would try to dedicate to the blog or writing just so I wouldn't lose whatever edge I had managed to find to this point.
Saturday, it all went to shit. My attitude that is.
Funny/odd how these words we write so carelessly and without regard to how others may view them have more potential to damage than I ever realized.
First thing I noticed was something I did that I thought was no big deal caused I think someone some stress at their end of the blogoshere. I had no intention of hurting someones feelings, but I think I did. Okay, even if I didn't, just thinking I did caused me some stress.
Then some cantankerous fellow commented on my blog and stepped way over the line of what I consider civil discourse. That was Saturday. I did lash back, but only after I had calmed down.
And even worse, a blogging friend contacted me and indicated they may just delete their blog because of cyber bullying. Not bullying by me, but by a mutual commenter we both have to deal with.
What the Hell? This set me back on my heels. It finally dawned on me that not everyone has skin as thick as mine. It occurred to me I may want to be more careful about what I say in the various comment sections of the blogs I visit.
Which brings me to why I may decide to take a break. This blogging shit is supposed to fun. Right now, it is not. And rather than walk away for good, I would prefer to step back for a day or two and cool my jets. I might not, but if I don't calm down, I am taking a vacation.
That said, I guess I will finish with advice. Remembering what you pay for it, please realize this is just one man's opinion.
Human communities exist in all sorts of forms. In order for them to exist and prosper, a certain level of civility must exist. A certain amount of consideration must exist. And a certain amount of honesty must exist.
Be civil. Be honest. And be considerate. Find out the rhythm and mood of a blog before going in with guns blazing. Beating people up in Cyber Space is just being a coward.
Keep it 'tween the ditches.....................
Friday, February 19, 2010
Sons are a pain in the ass. I know. I was one. Since I had never had a sister that lived with us (have a half sister down in Texas, but we have only met a few times over the years), I figured a daughter would be a cake walk compared to raising a bonehead boy.
Turns out I was right but not for the reason I thought. As I found out from the child raising experiences of my peers, daughters can drive you mad also. They just use different techniques than boys. Lis(Liz) had her moments, but they were brief phases from which she always emerged more mature and ready for what came next. By age 12, she had surpassed me on the maturity scale. And once again I became the child of the family.
Seems the stereotype of the American Girl has changed. The girls of my youth for the most part did not participate in physical activities of the contact sport kind. All the girlie versions of the guy sports where physical contact might happen had special rules so the ladies wouldn't have to worry about those unsightly bruises or mussed doos. As a young lad who had suffered more than a few times from unwarranted physical abuse from some of these same "young ladies", I knew they were every bit as rugged as I was. Some, way more rugged. I always resented that rule, "never hit a girl". Especially when I was on the ground just after being knocked down by one of those delicate flowers.
Lis grew up a jock. She had her stint with dance class. We even have some very cute but probably embarrassing shots of her in her outfits. Apparently though she preferred the swimming pool and the soccer field. From about age 7, she seemed to always be involved in some sport or another. Naturally, my proudest moments were when she pedaled training wheel free and several years later sat on her first real mountain bike. And yes, she became an excellent rider who cruised downhills with no fear most days. Club sports, school sports right up to and including college, my daughter's life was all about athletic endeavor. That she decided to become an Athletic Trainer out of Grad school seemed the logical next step.
So she is now working at the University of Richmond babysitting D-1 prima donnas and liking it most days. But fixing up other athlete's sprains, tweaks, and bruises doesn't give her that fix she became used to growing up. So what does she do? She joins a Roller Derby club.
The Roller Derby of today is a far cry from the Roller Derby of my youth apparently. The brassy scary lookin women with "big hair" of yesteryear have been replaced by less scary lookin but more intense young women today. The young women of today are as serious about their recreational sports as the men are. And I think that is just so very cool. I always knew they were as good as us loser men. Ask any one of them. You better believe em too, or they might just knock you on your ass.
Right On Ladies. Kick some ass.
For more on this go to:
Mother State Facebook page
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Or Cormac is an evil genius himself and is holding back my fix just to see me twist and contort.
Regardless, since it's all about me anyway, I figure I will try for a fix myself.
This story telling gets easier the more I do it. If I take a break and then come back, it always seems like I have taken a few steps back and need to work harder to regain that right frame of mind. That writing advice I have read in too many places to count is right on. Write everyday and I will get better.
So this is my idea. In keeping with the Starter Sentence premise of FFF, I am looking for comments containing suggested Starter Sentences. Should the unlikely event that more than one suggestion show up in the comment section, I will pick one and hopefully post it by Tuesday, West Coast time.
I am not sure why I am going through these gyrations. Just write a story if that is what puffs up my pouch, right? Yeah I guess it could be that simple. But I have never been an advocate of simplicity when convoluted is waiting in the wings.
Looking forward to whatever you come up with...............
Reincarnation I am not supposed to remember any of this. Signs posted everywhere around The Interim tell me it is not possible. Yet, every conversation, every debriefing, every moment I spent in labs, classes, or hanging out in the Great Hall waiting for my number to come up has stayed with me when I woke up to this next assignment.
An expanding Universe needs to be watched over and tweaked as necessary. Delivered to the job sites via high outbursts of pure energy, M-Tees are the tools Controllers use to keep the Expansions dynamic and healthy. Because cross pollination could mean disaster, M-Tees are sent with no memories of previous assignments. We are provided physical substance (Existence Frames) through the biology of the local DNA pools. Only Controllers and the Board are aware of what we will be doing while they manipulate the various corporeal Realities.
Without M-Tees to offset the rigid unbending rules set down by the Predictability Guild, another Universe 14K might happen. The rumor floating around The Interim the last time I was there was Universe 14K was still out of control. It had gone Ballistic. Future deployments had been put on hold or were going to be. There was talk Terminal measures might be instituted. That’s what the Prep-Tech hooking me up for this trip told me. And even though Prep-techs were only marginally smarter than a box of nano seconds, I figure there had to be some truth to it if the story had gotten this far down the food chain.
What I do know that I am not supposed to know is - I am here, I am fully aware of where I came from and what the broad goals of our mission are. I even know which Controller I am working under. I worked with her a few assignments ago. Hard as nails and unforgiving. This trip was going to be no cake walk. I am already looking forward to being re-called.
No M-Tee, no matter their status, has a set time to serve. It is totally random. If every M-Tee stayed the same length of time, Chaos would not be able to function at the level necessary to keep those flounders over to Predictability at bay. There was no worse enemy to a successful Universe than Predictability. Let Predictability get more than one foot in the door of a Universe and before you can say Big Bang, another cookie cutter cosmos lines up neatly in the astral suburbs. You’d think they would be get bored with perfection. Perfect Universes never last. Eventually they all self destruct prematurely.
It seems I am about to meet my Controller. I know it is her. Her frequency hum is one I will never forget. Again I am puzzled. This is more information that should not be mine to have. The white clad M-Tee who is carrying me, hands me over to her. My Controller smiles as she takes me. Because I have not developed enough within the confines of this Existence Frame to process the local dialect, Controller’s words are unintelligible to me. But the message in those words is not. It comes through loud and clear through her eyes and the uptick in the Antag frequency of her signature wave length.
“I know you know because I made it so.”
I open the communication device my current Existence Frame has in order to reply. Nothing but a god awful screeching emits. Damn! This no wiggle room rule about following the natural order of things is cramping my style.
To fit in I must not be cognizant, mentally or physically upon initial deployment. A slow purposeful evolution in my development is necessary to dovetail cleanly with The Plan. Or so I am told just prior to each deployment. Unfortunately I am mentally aware but nothing physical seems to be working properly or is of a size to be useful in the first place.
The white clad native who just handed me over opens her communication device, “Oh look at the little rascal. Waving his arms, kicking his feet, and what a set of lungs the little bugger has.”
Still smiling, my controller looks at me with hard eyes. The native attending us continues, “Mom, you must be tired. 10 hours of labor is no walk in the park. I’ll leave you two now to get acquainted.”
The white clad native leaves me to the unknown whims and desires of my hard nosed Controller. Once we are alone, my Controller brings me face to face with what I assume is a direct link to her wavelength. Hmm. It appears there are two links, but she has chosen the left one. Okay.
As soon as I latch onto the external plug, information flows immediately. “Listen up asshole. I will go through this one time and one time only. Burp once if you understand, twice if you don’t.”
I burp once. An odd sensation of pleasure rushes through me.
“Okay then. Let’s get to it..........I noticed your hard work on our last assignment together. You showed me you had what it takes to make it to the next level. When we were done on Delpha Fuego Six I petitioned the Board to have you raised to Con Apprentice. You do as you are told by following orders and your next assignment might just be as a Controller. ….. With me so far? Burp once for yes or twice for no. “
I comply with another satisfying expulsion of gas. Only this time it comes from an area of my Existence Frame I cannot see. My Controller’s face twists and contorts as if she is in pain. “Okay, quit clowning around Jerk Off and acting like you are an unaware M-Tee. My current Existence Frame does not appreciate that type of communication. When I say burp, I mean burp.” I burp once.
Suddenly she disconnects me from the link. She shifts her covering and exposes the other link and plugs me in. Another rush of information flows. “You already know our plans for this mission. Just some more random existence to help fill in the details for the Expansion. However, you do not know what my plan is. I have a little side project I want us both to work on. It is not sanctioned by the board,……..Call it a self designed volunteer enhancement of the plan for this existence. A small detour if you will. Understand?“
I understood alright. She was going Rogue. I had heard of this happening from time to time, but had never been in existence when it did. And suddenly I knew what to do.
Apparently I was unaware of some top secret directives implanted prior to being jettisoned into this existence. Directives meant for me and me alone. The internal memo opened and in seconds I knew I would have to destroy her. And because the honchos who lead these Rogue investigations were never sure who was involved in Rogue plots, I would have to destroy all of her inner circle as well.
Shit. This was going to be a short deployment. 14 years local time was my time frame. At the end of this time, I was tasked with instituting the termination sequence and then pulling my own plug by means of some locally acceptable self destruction technique.
The directive also called for permanent termination of the Controller. Jeez, she must have really pissed off the wrong Board Honch. Until then I was to burp when told to.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Funny, but I used to consider myself a centrist Republican. Then when Ronnie ruined the Republican Party, I became a centrist Democrat. The spineless wimps from the Left proved they did not, could not, would not stand up and govern. So now I am just a centrist Independent who will dance on both Party's graves if the chance ever comes up.
I have given up thinking that the leaders of either the Democrats or the Republicans are interested in actually leading this country. They have both decided that their own political interests are more important than mine or the other citizens of this country. Both of them can go to Hell for all I care.
Monday, February 15, 2010
In matters of life and death, one could not forever rely on the judgment of his fellow man. Those who did, deserved what came their way. For this reason and several others, Murphy had no respect for the western culture he existed in and dealt with every day. Westerners were soft, fat, and useless. They looked to their various governments or churches for sustenance, protection, and direction. Murphy hated them for their neediness.
Murphy dropped the drained, lifeless carcass to the ground. He stood over it and gazed into its dead eyes. Feeling nothing but contempt for this member of the herd he had just culled, he wiped his mouth and then rubbed his blood soaked hand on his victim's Brooks Brother lapel. He ran his eyes from the torn neck down the crumpled and now bloody lines of the finely tailored coat.
"Nice shoes", Murphy said and he walked away.
Phillip Hendricks sat in his 8x8 cubicle and pored over the stats from the recent controlled hunt. His hope was that after eight months of this new program, tangible data could be gleaned, filtered, collated, and presented to his G-14 boss for positive evaluation. Since he had been an early proponent of this controversial population control program, his career might not be on the line, but failure here could affect his movement upward.
Hendricks pushed back from his cluttered desk. Sighing loudly he looked again at the screen of his PC. One thing he had learned to rely on in this life was data. Data did not lie. It could be made into lies, but raw unfiltered data was truth without any baggage. And the data he was looking at did not make him happy. The targeted populations were still growing faster than the agency's efforts to control them. The Balston Stockyard area was the exception. Oddly, there appeared to be net zero growth in that one area.
Why was only one area supporting the initial goals of the program? Or was it why are all the others failing to do so? This conundrum ate at him as he stood, grabbed his coat and left the building for the day. Once on the subway headed home, he switched gears and was now worrying about his sump pump problem at home. After fifteen years with the Population Oversight Agency, Phillip Hendricks had mastered his profession. He learned early the only way to stay sane was to leave his job on the 12th floor when he went home at night.
"Senator Hewlet, is there any truth to the rumor of a federally sanctioned and supported controlled hunt in progress? And to follow up, would you or do you support such an effort to trim the over population problem?"
Murphy watched the press conference and smiled.
"Let's see you dance around that question Senator", Murphy shouted at the TV.
Senator Hewlet looked perturbed. He smiled though. A greasy smile.
"Well,in the ten years since the sub species Vrykolakas was identified, documented, and collected into internment camps, there has been pressure growing to re-introduce them back into Society. Some pilot programs have been discussed, but at this time, to my knowledge there is no federally backed effort to use the Vrykolakas to augment our attempts to rein in the population growth. Any uptick or surge in blood lettings is most likely the result of the few Vrykolakas never caught pushing back against our containment efforts........Next question.... Yes you there on the left........"
Murphy was impressed. That bastard managed to answer but not answer. To the screen he raised his hand in mock salute. "You sir have my respect. Even if you are a politician."
Murphy found the remote and clicked off the TV. His work day was not over yet. He still had to log in his kill count for the week. Failure to log in a kill count or meet the weekly quota meant back to the camp in a heartbeat. Mankind did not trust the Kindred. Murphy rubbed the spot on his neck where the tracking probe had been implanted. "Damn them and their technology."
Phillip Hendricks had a fitful night. His dreams were of numbers that did not add up, hordes of people spilling over cliffs, and subway cars bulging obscenely from the mass of Humanity crammed inside. He awoke on Thursday morning determined to figure it out. He would take a field trip on his way home that night. As he donned his jacket and hat, he turned to his live in love and said, "Don't wait up Frank. I'm heading over to the Stockyards for the night. I need to check on a pilot program we have going there."
Frank looked up from his handheld stock ticker. "Uh okay Phil. Be careful out there. Balston is a tough neighborhood. Don't wear anything expensive..........Oh yeah, that's right, you work for the Feds. You don't own anything expensive." Phil grimaced, flipped Frank the finger and headed for the subway.
Murphy was awakened earlier than he was used to. This always put him off. Whoever was pounding on his door at.......Jeez, 6:00 PM better have a damn good reason.
"Who is it and what do you want?"
Phillip Hendricks had no problem hearing this question through the closed door. The nervous jitters he walked up the four flights of stairs with spiked. He was now close to piss his pants scared. But he pressed forward and with a cracking voice, "Is this Mr. Murphy's apartment? My name is Phillip Hendricks. I run the program Mr. Murphy is part of."
The door opened a few inches. Hendricks stood there some moments. Gathering what courage he still had, he pushed it open and entered the apartment. The dim light inside could not hide the neatness and order of the place. Impressed, Phillip Hendricks began to relax some. Leaning against the back of the couch, Murphy lit a cigarette and took a pull. He did not say anything.
"Just Murphy is fine", interrupted Murphy. "I lost the use of "Mister" many years ago.........Uh, You are not my handler. Where's Samson? I was told any visit would include him. Am I in trouble? My kill count has been meeting quota, so what's up Mr Fed?"
"No, on the contrary Mr. ....uh Murphy. You have been exceeding my expectations. I am here to ask you how you do it? The other test sites are showing no progress. Yet here in Balston, you have met all projections perfectly."
Murphy took another drag off his cigarette. He studied the man standing uneasily at the entrance to his living room. The man's fear was obvious. Still staring at Hendricks, Murphy held out his hand and snuffed the cigarette out in the palm. Phil almost jumped out of his skin. Suddenly he felt his bladder weaken.
"Uh, That's Hendricks"
"Okay, Mr Hendricks. Relax guy. I can smell your fear way over here. Your program is the only thing keeping me out of internment. I plan to stay out of internment. So tell me what I can do and I will try to do it. But as to how I do it, well that's my business. You set up the rules, I follow them to the letter. I provide you dead people. And I do it here in Balston just like you wanted. Other than that I have nothing more to say except..........I like your shoes."
Again I would like to thank Cormac for his continued efforts to provide us hacks and hackettes a venue to display our various writing efforts.
Back to the grind............................
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Seems during the 1800's while all good British men were toiling away re-making the World into a proper Colony, the ladies sat on the White Cliffs of Dover and pined their British Hearts away. Since labor that was actually productive was not hip among the upper circles, the ladies came up with this card thing. They would toil for hours on handmade cards and send them to their husbands, lovers, and each other. One enterprising young woman was so good and prolific, she turned it into a business. I am sure some man took over from there.
Grassroots to crass commercialization in less than 50 years. Now days, it takes about 2 minutes to do this. And today, some man is less likely to take over than ever before. Which points up a fine example of what's good with today's reality and what is bad about today's reality. True equality does not exist just yet, but we are closer than we have ever been.
But what about this guy Valentine. It appears there is more than one Valentine that has been Sainted by the Guys in fancy robes and ridiculous hats. Back in the days when Rome fed Christians to the lions daily, there were potential Saints I guess on every street corner. Seems a heavy charge of the Saint population was created by these early believers. Boy am I glad those days are over. I mean being killed just for what you believe.......................uh, wait a minute. Never mind. Maybe we haven't come as far I indicated earlier.
Regardless, Happy Valentines Day. If you can't squeeze the one you want, squeeze the one you're with. (sorry Stephen, just couldn't resist)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Just as these words passed my lips, I busted out laughing at the thought of what someone might think or say should they have heard me. On the face of the words alone, eyebrows would most likely raise. Fernando of course just looked at me, rubbed his head on my leg and scooted away before I could complete the butt inspection. Damn cat just knows when it's business petting and when it's pleasure petting. Little bastard has been digging again.
So of course, I thought of Alfred Hitchcock and an anecdote.
Seems Al and a buddy were in some busy high rise building in some city somewhere. They stepped onto an elevator deep into what appeared a serious conversation. In front of the crowd in the elevator, Al was, in great detail, describing a grisly murder. Their floor came up, the two got off just as Al was saying, "And I placed my hands around her neck....." The elevator doors closed. Man, I would have loved to have been on that elevator.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
In recent months , days, minutes I have had the joy of feeling guilty for no good reason. To me there is a huge difference between justified guilt and unjustified guilt even though both often illicit the same feeling. Thankfully my recent pangs of remorse are for stupid shit and mean nothing in the grand scheme. And this makes me happy. It is much better to feel guilty over nothing than living with guilt that has substance.
Yesterday's FFF story "Martha" was an interesting experience. Now that I have 19 of the FFF stories under my belt, I am beginning to understand when a story is right and when I am forcing one. I am also beginning to understand my best writing mood. I seem to do best when I just sit down and don't think too hard about it. Just relax and let it flow. Creating some rigid ritual as a prelude to writing like sharpening pencils, having that neat stack of foolscap at the ready and a coffee cup full of hot Joe steaming ready to keep the juices flowing is not my style. I have lived my life as a loose dog and I guess I need to write that way also.
And then there is this
In some ways related to both of the above paragraphs, I have to say I feel bad for not being as involved with all the bloggers I know in recent weeks. But it is a fact of my life that there are more important things going on around me that need my attention.
We all have lists, goals, etc. Live to be 57 and the lists can become overwhelming. Well, I made a small dent, call it a small step in the right direction and it feels good to see stuff on that list checked off. And though my head of steam is small in relation to the mountain I must move, I at least have a head of steam fired up. So bear with me here, but my primary focus from now until further notice will not be Blogging.
Gasp!!! What's That You say? Giving up Blogging?
Calm down. No. I'm still hooked on this wacky activity. I will just need to find ways to squeeze it in around my Life instead of finding ways to squeeze my Life in around the Blogging. Like right now. I got up at 4 AM. Instead of sitting around scratching myself while the coffee perked, I sat down here.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
FFF#20 - Working titles - "No Sense of History" or "Shit, I had another one but it's gone now" - So I settled on "Martha"
"His life would have been a lot simpler if he'd just said no." Starter sentence from David Barber
His life would have been a lot simpler if he'd just said no.
It all started with the phone call from a friend needing his expertise and hopefully his tools to jack up and rebuild some timber framing of an old Cape his friend had bought at a Public Auction.
"Shit John, we should have that ole Cape jacked up and beams replaced in less than a week. What else you got going on? Not much is my guess."
John hung up the phone angry. His friend knew him too well. He had nothing else going on other than staying warm, feeding critters and watching infomercials. His wife had left him months ago just as his construction business fizzled and died when the real estate market flipped upside down.
John was early. He was always early. He liked those quiet moments before equipment was unloaded and before other nail bangers showed up to run through his strategy for the day.
He walked around the classic old New England farm house linked haphazardly by a series of small outbuildings to the barn. His eye followed the roof line of the mish mash of structures. It dipped and doodled, following some undulating path of it's own making. If he had his way, he'd tear it all down and build new. John hated this type of construction. Rehabs were a pain in his ass. They never went smoothly and often times he ended up chasing money that did not exist.
"Okay Bill. Let's see the inside."
Bill turned the key and pushed in the back door. The usual dusty and moldy bad air of a house buttoned up for too long came blasting out. They both stood back for some moments to allow fresh air to find it's way inside.
"So Bill, when did Old Man Bean die?"
"He didn't. He's up to Augusta at some Alzhiemer's retirement home. Bank sold his house and land for him so the last days of his life are covered. Seems a shame to see an old family die out like this. But you know Life goes on and I am always there to take advantage of what it offers up. I grabbed this place and all the acreage for under $250 K. Shit, even if I tore it down and subdivided the land, I could make a killing. Bad market or not."
"Then why not tear it down?"
"John, you have no appreciation or sense of historical significance. This is the second oldest home still standing in town. Dates back to at least 1810. It's a plank house. Has slots cut in the vertical planks so the early settlers could stick their muskets out and fight off Indian attacks. The pit sawn planks have to be three/four inches thick and some are almost four feet wide. I restore this place and find the right buyer, I could pocket a couple of hundred grand. You know those rich folks from away, they just love antiques."
John was not convinced. This place needed huge dollars thrown at it to bring it back. Replacing the rotted sills and joists had to be just the tip of this nasty ice berg. But Bill always paid in cash and it had been a long time since his last pay day.
Bill helped John get the screw jacks out of the truck and down into the dirt basement. When faced with hauling over a hundred pieces of oak cribbing, he suddenly needed to fetch coffee for them both. John smiled as Bill drove off toward Penny's Stop n Go. Shrugging, he became a machine and mindlessly hauled two at a time down. It felt good to use his muscles again without the baggage of his brain getting in the way.
Bill showed his usual good timing by wheeling in the dooryard with coffee just as John picked up the last two pieces of cribbing.
"How the Hell you do this every time I'll never know Bill. You always show up when the last board is off the truck, the last bundle of shingles is on the roof, Shit man, you have laziness down to a science."
Bill put on on his hurt face. " Aw man, come on. I pull my weight. Someone has to fetch the coffee....... And by the way, Penny says she never sees you anymore. You know that woman is single again. You could do a lot worse bub."
"Right....I'll be sure to rush over there. Just what I need in my life right now. Another woman to fuck it up."
Bill hung around long enough to help set the cribbing and jack up the first section. He made a big show of looking at his watch. "You got things covered here? I have an appointment with that witch at the Historical Society. You know how she is. Has to okay all the materials we use if I want this house to be considered for the Registry."
John smiled again. Working in a 5 foot dirt basement was no picnic for either of them. "Yeah okay , I have it under control. But you keep prancing off like this and my bill will grow appropriately."
"Shit John. You gonna charge me? I thought friends helped out friends with no notion of compensation. I mean if they are friends in the first place."
"Get the fuck out of here asshole. Go suck up to your Hysterical Society buddies. But yeah, I will be pickin your pocket. Might just charge you twice the going rate just cuz you are such an asshole."
Hunched over in that low basement, they looked at each other and grinned. Their friendship would never be in question and they both knew it. Bill brushed off his legs and turned towards the bulkhead. "Be back in a few."
John settled in to the job at hand. Moving quickly, he set up to more sets of cribbing and a couple of screw jacks. Just as he began to take the weight off with the first jack..............
"I thought that bonehead would never leave. He'll be gone til tomorrow. But you knew that."
John jerked up and caught a joist on his noggin. Turning around he was confronted by what appeared to be someones Grandma wearing a billowed out ankle length dress and a 3/4 length white apron with fancy fillgree along it's edges. Her hair was tightly wound up in one of those silver Grandma buns. She appeared to only be half there. He could see right through her to the granite foundation behind her. He said nothing. Just stood there hunched over and rubbed his head.
"You can close your mouth John. Yeah, we really do exist."
John's mouth closed and then opened as if ready to speak, then it closed again. He turned and found some cribbing to sit on and parked his butt hard. He looked at this spirit and again his mouth opened as if about to speak.
"Come on John, get it together. Accept this sooner than later and we will both save ourselves much time and aggravation"
"Uh, well jeezum, I guess I just never gave ghosts much thought........." And again he seemed to be at a loss for words.
"Well, I'll give you points for having some sand anyway. You haven't run screaming out of here. That's the usual response. Lordy, you should have seen the gyrations Old Man Bean went through the first time we met. Took a vacation. Didn't see his skinny butt for 2 months."
John began to compose himself. He was sober. He had not smoked dope for years. And being the go with the flow kind of guy he was, he always tended to accept most things on face value. But this was pushing even his abilities to accept.
"Uh I guess I oughta know if you have a name. And then maybe how and why are you here?"
"All good and reasonable requests John. Basic and to the point. My names is Martha Bean. I was married to Ezekiel Bean and bore him 4 sons, one of whom was the father of the man you local time folks call Old Man Bean."
Martha moved closer to John. "Mind if I set down? These ole bones still ache." She gathered her generous dress at her fanny and parked next to John. "There now. Better?"
John was busy trying to calculate the arithmetic of how old Martha was. She looked at him and with the beginnings of a grin, "I was born 150 years ago. I died 80 years ago, just after Old Man Bean pissed in his first diaper."
"You can read minds?"
"Some of you live ones come in clear. But I didn't read your mind, it was you counting your fingers that clued me in."
John quickly clasped his hands together. He had never lost that unconscious tendency to use his fingers when running figures or lists through his head. It used to embarrass him in school, but not enough to stop doing it.
"So what is it you want from me Martha?"
"John, it ain't what you can do for me, but what I can do for you. Of course I do have some requirements before we can begin our relationship."
"Well duh John, ain't nothing free. You should know that what with your failed marriage and business going belly up."
"Ah, you know about that. Seems you know a lot about me. I know next to nothing about you.........................But let's get to it. What is it you can do for me? This ain't' going to be some kind of Ghost and Mrs Muir thing is it?"
"Well now that you mention it, yeah, just like that. Although the author of that tale never really got it right. Or maybe he was just afraid of having the book banned."
John was getting suspicious. This arrangement was beginning to look like a one way benefit. "I dunno, maybe I don't want anything to do with you. You are a ghost after all. Never seems happy things happen around ghosts."
"John, John, John. You know that blow up doll you've had stashed in the bedroom closet? Well dear, you can throw that plastic bitch out. I know how to keep a man happy between the sheets."
John was flabbergasted. This kindly ole lady was talking about sex. "But you're old and wrinkled and shit."
"Oh really. Well how's this?"
The air seemed to move and a blank silhouette formed where Martha had existed a moment ago. John stared at the apparition as it changed into a carbon copy of the plastic bitch he had stashed in his closet. Only her mouth was not frozen open, it was speaking.
"John I can be whatever you want. I just can't do it here. This place is done for me. Old Man Bean is gone and who knows who will move in next? I need new digs. Your digs."
John and Martha settled in over to John's house. Life was wonderful at first. John went to bed every night knowing he would wake up with a grin every morning. But several months into the relationship things changed. John had bedded every fantasy woman he could imagine. Every night was spent in sexual ecstasy. Then one night he turned to Martha. "Martha, I need a break. I just want some shut eye tonight."
Martha looked peeved. "John, you remember what I said about "having some requirements"? Well, you are about to break our agreement. Roll your ass over and let's have some fun. You don't want to end up like Old Man Bean, do you?"
I rushed this one and did little editing. I know it can be trimmed and/or expanded. But I had to get-er done cuz I just enjoy this too much.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Might as well clear up one thing. Why I thought that after many years of getting the same result from the same actions, I would think I might come through my last night's shot fest unscathed - well it is beyond my comprehension how stupid I can still be.
"Drink too much dumbass and tomorrow you will pay."
As predicted, I was but maybe 3 miles into what turned out to be a 17 plus mile endurance event when my stomach told me I was not doing it any favors. The only plus here is that I may have matured some after all. When I was twenty something I would have punched through the throbbing head, ignored the nausea and punished myself trying to prove to someone how much of a man I was by toughing the hangover out. This morning when I finally caught the group at the top of Shaw's Ridge, I smiled, admitted my previous nights stupidity and then turned around and rode back to the bike shop. They continued probably just as happy to be rid of me as I was to be rid of them. On a good day I am the slow poke. This morning I was an anchor.
The Rebel Yell Whiskey is safely tucked away again. The pleasant memory of sweet liquor has been replaced by a days worth of sour stomach. I am once again sober and hopefully this time a tad wiser.
Some of the Why I Have Been MIA of Late
This little project started when the wall you see had collapsed dropping the living room floor about 3 inches. I jacked it up, replaced the rotted plate with PT and then set the whole thing on concrete bricks.
Okay, problem solved. It's never that easy. Before I could rebuild the wall, I had to tear out the work bench that had been there for 50 years. Naturally I had to replace it. So I made it a challenge. I had to use recycled materials as much as possible.
With the exception of the bench vise and the two new ceiling lights, the whole bench and almost all the wiring is recycled. Excluding the vise and lights, cost to me was under $20. All for fasteners and a couple of electrical boxes.
I just cannot believe the amount of material I had kickin around the yard piled hither and yon. Light fixtures, old tables, brackets, plywood, ancient wood, Shit, I just don't know what I will find next. Even the Ghetto Blaster and the Univega clock are recycled. I found the blaster back in the 1980s. It rocks. Pulls in radio stations the high falutin stereo upstairs doesn't even have a clue of. The clock came with some merchandising stuff when I sold Univega bikes back in the day.
It is not completed yet. But soon I hope to find more material in the piles that will inspire the next improvement. At the moment, re-wiring as much of the house as I can is what I am into.