Thursday, June 30, 2016

Parish

A person gets attached to a machine. Certainly it's an often rocky relationship, cruel words exchanged, accusations about lack of oil, poorly sharpened blades, we all make excuses and it can go on a bit to that point where an exhortation to the Great Oneness is made. The thing about geometry, it doesn't actual listen and that's particularly the case when a steering shaft breaks.

It was The Artist who noticed it first, I thought it no more than a moment of creative angst, but no! Parish's steering had surrendered. It wasn't that he didn't want to turn, it was just because he couldn't turn. He and I have had a long innings, and it's always possible that he can be fixed, it would mean several new parts. Worth a try, he's well over twenty years old, and I'm loath to say goodbye.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Menace of Stinkbug

Stinkbug have arrived. The older ones are gnarled veterans, they are few and far between, the younger ones are beady eyed, softer shelled and still innocent. Short of an apocalypse to the insect populations there is no alternative but good old fashioned mano a mano contest where man meets stinkbug in mortal combat. It might sound unfair, there is a bit of a size difference but trust me it's an unequal battle and without any sense of sportsmanship. Generally your gardener comes away confused and dazed, and often deeply depressed. And the sadder thing is Stinkbug consider these battles a learning experience, they develop strategy and I know for a fact they work in teams and overtime they actually welcome my presence as yet another opportunity to totally outwit me.

Always better to look for a silver lining, something to cling to as a gardener stares into the abyss. Not easy to do. I well remember the Colorado Beetle outbreak of something like 2008. Colorado Beetle have been so attacked by the industrial pesticide that they are pretty much immune to any kind of nerve gas. The garden here had two kinds of Colorado Beetle. The one kind would politely sit there admiring his or her children and it was kindergarten work. No problem at all. The other kind of Colorado Beetle had developed a technique which I learned to call "Drop and Roll." As a forefinger and thumb snuck upon them, they'd let loose their grip on the leaf, they'd drop to the soil, they then seemed able to roll and would promptly disappear. But the other thing is this, in the night someone is chewing the Eggplant Leaves, it produces no frass  and it could be some kind of nocturnal Colorado Beetle that hides both herself and her children through daylight.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Calm Acceptance

It's not an easy admission. Better to pretend sometimes, make a joke about it. There's always the possibility of reverting to professional assistance from either the Almighty or Prescription Medication. And then there's calm acceptance. In short your correspondent is what used to be called a Shut-In. A whispering description rather than something to be proud of.

The only question that remains, is what kind of a Shut-In? And I do have a heavy window curtain that keeps the heat from the sun out of my attic. Unfortunately it's not one of those curtains that can be surreptitiously twitched. Last time I tried that the entire light of day defense arrangement came tumbling down. I terrible give away.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Big Rabbit

The Cat is bravely endeavoring to contribute her stellar services to Rabbit control. Understandably she prefers early morning and late evening, the afternoons from about 10am on into the early evening are I'll admit not conducive to any kind of rushing about chasing things. Then there's a little problem with a Big Rabbit. It's true that a large adult Rabbit around these parts gets to be about three or four pounds in weight, maybe twenty inches long, you have to go much further north to find a five pounder, and down there on the Gulf Coast an adult Rabbit is generally closer to two pounds than he or she is to three. The average life time of the Rabbit here is about fifteen months. Worth noting Rabbit can start breeding at the age of three months, it's three or four litters a year, average size of litter is five and if left unchecked the charming little creatures are just all over the place.

The Cat, when we last went to the Vet, was around seven pounds, to my mind she looks to be about ten pounds at the moment, but the trouble with the Big Rabbit is that both The Cat and I find him or her just a little dominating and he or she is clearly suffering from some kind of hormonal imbalance because he or she is unnaturally large for a Cottontail. We're talking thundering hoof and mad staring eye size. A tyrant in his or her community, no doubt about it, but I have to admit in the scale of tyrants, he or she is up there with Pericles, and his or her defense of smaller Rabbits is something to admire, which suggests to me he or she could well be a Girl Rabbit. When the Domicile Protection Unit arrives as we do in that abstract casual way, a flick of a large ear distracts us. "Oh Gosh! There's the Big Rabbit" and we both freeze, stare at The Big Rabbit while Littler Rabbits easily find cover. All the same, as an Uncle Cat, I think my work is almost done.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Post-Referendum

Bigger day yesterday. The experts are flummoxed. Few can believe it, even those who supported it are now creeping around wondering what next.

I'll tell them. Another referendum. Should Wessex, East Sussex and Mercia declare their independence from the Union? Yes or No.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pre-Referendum

Always enjoyed a good sit-in. Stuffed together with few amenities, nowhere really comfortable to sleep, hours and hours of rambling on about the cause, reaffirming commitment, it's a form of bonding that relies heavily upon castigating those you reckoned should have joined in with the action rather than running off to the comforts of their insular burrows. It's a moment of good feeling which produces fond memories, solidifies friendships kind of like a music festival, and often it ends in a Magistrate's Court.

In the land of Shakespeare and Cream Teas there's the big vote. Which as I understand it originated as a disagreement in the Tory Party and then got totally out of hand as prospective leaders of the party saw opportunity and started making up stuff about the benefits or otherwise of remaining in or leaving the Union. The ball finally rolled to Winston Churchill's grandson who from his villa in Spain, claimed that Winston would have wanted Britain to remain in Europe. Prime Minister Churchill was a lot of things, but I think it a huge tragedy his entail claimed to be able to speak to the dead.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Disgruntlement Of The Molars

Tomorrow is the referendum in the United Kingdom on whether to remain in Europe and tomorrow your correspondent pays his visit to The Dentist. So it's a big day all around and there are similarities between these two nightmares. In theory a person pays his dues and keeps his appointment with The Dentist on the understanding that the arrangement is mutual, a shared benefit. It's the case too that there are a great many occasions when your correspondent yearns to sit The Dentist down in The Dentist's chair so that he might experiment a little with Dentist Tools, particularly that hose thing that squirts water into the back of your mouth so that you can truly get some kind of an idea what water-boarding might feel like. And I'd also like to practice saying things like "Flossing is important" and "You're a little sensitive around the upper right second bicuspid, aren't you" and "Stick your tongue out!"

If a person were to think of the bicuspids and incisors as something like sovereignty that passes food to the molars where it can be thoroughly chewed before being passed though the intestines, the United Kingdom referendum can be thought of as Disgruntlement Of The Molars, some of whom reckon the bicuspids and incisors have become old and decrepit, they aren't doing their job, never will, and they should be replaced with new sets of dental hygiene practices. Others reckon the problem lies with the canines who have grown lazy and need to be filed to the sort of sharp points they were in something like 1911 and this can only happen by changing Dentists. And with the United Kingdom, we're not talking Polish, German or French Dentist, where talking changing to a board certified British Dentist. The problem of course, the world is changing quickly and dramatically, and despite rumor and gross exaggeration that suggests otherwise, the best any Dentists can do is delay the inevitable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Paradigms

A parched Compost Pile isn't pretty. It looks sad, depressed, and due to the dust from fungus spores it's unpleasant to turn. Nor does heat and humidity aid the process of turning a Compost Pile. This Compost Pile was mostly the longer grass cut some weeks ago. The grass was layered with a sprinkle of soil, and each layer had been grossly under-watered. The weight of the upper layers acted as a press upon the lower layers. The result on the lower layers of this pressing was a kind of thick paper that reminded me of my fellow compost pile maker who lives too far away and who when the mood strikes actually makes paper from compostable plant material. Inevitably imagination led your gardener to leap to the conclusion that centuries ago, it was a gardener around a Compost Pile that first observed the Paper Making Process and odds are he or she reacted to it as poorly as I did, he bashed it up with his pitchfork and shovel, and he then drowned it.

There's a story about Einstein, who in his youth was travelling to the Patent Office where he worked on patents that had to do with transmission of electrical signals. On the train he stared at the telephone or electric poles and watched them as the train moved past them. And there was something about the relationship between the moving train and the utility lines that solved a problem of understanding he'd been working on in his own time and which he'd been discussing with a group of friends. The paper that emerged from his thoughts seemed to solve the problem others had grappled with. I imagine it was a very exciting moment for him. This same group of friends had discussed Hume, an English Political Philosopher who was the star of the empiricists, the skeptics and those who reckoned there was an order of things that had no space in it for anything that did not arise from observable natural causes. Einstein was a circle man, so was Hume.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Today

Longest Day in the Northern Hemisphere is always a little confusing when it fails to fall on the twenty first of June. The idea that I find this confusing is depressing, and I'll tell you why in a roundabout way. It means the calendar is writ so large in me I'd probably be one of those people who would enter apoplexy where Christmas to occasionally fall on the twenty fourth of December. But much worse is the failure by most societies to grant the two Solstices the status of Public Holiday. What happened to the religious significance of the planet's mood? I'll tell you, it got lost in the machinations of a hedonism that's actually not doing us any good at all. It's like touching a Megalith instead of writing a psalm. It's the Summer Solstice Pillow Sale, free sunglasses. And you're correct, we tool makers tend not to venerate things we cannot control. They frighten us into rabbit holes. There was a time of course when we'd appease The Gods, try to behave, offer sacrifice and in so doing we gave power to the Priests of our society, and we still do by sometimes marking a distinction between June Twentieth and June Twenty First.

My own view of the Solstices is wrapped up a little in slopes and geometry, straight lines and circles. We're not talking predictive, which means the essence is best thought of as random. The alternative to the powerlessness or the apparent futility of the word random, is to think in terms of nothing is ever exactly the same outside the context of the tools available to us. An assumption of infinity, no end and no beginning. It puts the perspective on stuff happens without us, the vastness of it all and while we can think about it in terms of how useful it is, we can also regard it as a resource within being that teaches us a humility that no Priest or legal precedent can define for us. It's a leaderless thing, pure mind in a world dictated by material need, food, shelter, whatever you want to call your world and your problems within it. Then at around 6:34 in the late afternoon Eastern Daylight Saving Time, today, here where I live, the tilt of our planet changes direction. You can explain it with physics, with words, with geometry, but I'll tell you this, it's the closest thing to understanding Why? a person can get. Everything else is pretty much a stick selfie.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Potato Harvest

Following heat that so ruthlessly sucked moisture from the earth and gardener's innate reluctance to water, Potato harvest has come very early. One argument is to leave the little darlings in the ground until the stalks of Potato are truly frazzled to the point of kindling. Your gardener has practiced that technique in the past, but the thing is when the earth cracks open due to dryness, which it has done, a population of very small four legged, grey and tan, furry pests with little white tummies and long tails gain access to a feast that calls for so massive a celebration it can be heard by the Owls in Central Time. And should ever it rain again, as it well might, the suddenly damp soil with temperatures in the nineties encourages the sooty agues that can be so distressing to look at, as well as the borer worm that blemishes Potato flesh, and there's a grub that hides from moles by nesting inside the Potato..... The list is long and depressing.

Ideally the rain should have continued on a more regular basis through at least the middle of next month, the temperatures should have remained in the mid to upper seventies, light winds, low humidity, none of which is ever going to actually happen which makes wishing it pointless. I'd argue that the mid March planting of Potato worked well this year. We didn't get the horrible frost, it was patchy and the Potato sprouts deep in their perfect trenches were easy to protect. Of the varieties of Potato, and I do have a list somewhere, I have for good few years been veering toward the idea of favoring the Early Potato, and somehow or other I have to try to remember this so I don't get all starry eyed should I be around for next years Potato Planting Moment. Sadly the Early Potato does not keep, she's best a little under boiled straight out of the ground, her delicate skin takes to butter, a little Parsley, a flake of salt, a toss of pepper. Worth every second of agony.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tomato and Nitrogen.

A gardener can spend most of his thinking hours worrying about the Tomato. One theory is that too much nitrogen results in an idle Tomato Plant that just sits there like a big green lummox, stretching her arms, yawning, obsessed by the luxuriance of her leaves and making very little attempt to give any consideration to the purpose of a fruiting body in the content of her being. "I am without fungus!" she'll tell you, and go on a bit about the importance of her youth, the shortness of her time on earth, the incredible heat and her need for some kind of a wafting device to keep the Bees from going anywhere near her.

She does of course have a point, but even the most elegant of mushroom-hatted gardeners might be persuaded that no matter the quantity of nitrogen she has access to, a Tomato with the name Old German would be more devoted to progeny. The sensitive might awaken with some snappy remark about a Rose By Any Other Name and enter the diatribe around which our liberal elite takes their break for a low fat latte and sugarless muffins before returning to the important business of denigrating Trump Supporters. Interesting, that right beside the Old German, their leaves are touching, is a bounteously laden Black Krim, an absolutely delicious white bread sandwich Tomato. Tricky? I know.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Seven

A couple of name changes, but at last our hero is close to that point in the narrative which your writer of pulp reckons is a circumstance so funny, he can't stop laughing when he thinks about it. At the same time he is only too well aware that Attic Dwelling can lead a person toward moments of eccentricity which are wholly in the mind of the beholder and it's perfectly possible no other soul in the universe will share his idea of funny. And it's always possible there's a craft issue, what the professionals might call "structure." The flow of words and ideas that lead to climax. And there's that horrible question of why it is a person chooses to write. Far too easy to dismiss that sort of curiosity by answering that question with "I find it therapeutic." The questioner can then nod his or her head and reply with something like "Have you ever tried Quaaludes?" Either way, your writer of pulp is at peace in his attic so long as his cackling doesn't aggravate his Tick bites.

One of the things about therapy, it never actually ends this side of death. In a sense being alive requires therapy. The more noble will subsume their being to something like a career, others will find release by reaching for a moment of climax by pursing an ambition to achieve a goal and if that goal is achieved they then find themselves saying, "there's more work to be done." The actual climax is momentary, and when it's gone there's a confusion of understanding until a new brighter goal is defined, and if no new goal is defined they become incredibly boring around past achievements and will spiral in that pompous way toward words like legacy. Who cares really? Well, as a writer of pulp I do. I care deeply and passionately, I'm not immune to the unseen forces, which as everyone knows is a kind of slope contained within matter, and I am moved toward achieving Book Ten of The Rabbit of Usk. What happens afterwards? I hear the concern, and I understand it. My answer, "Coffee Table Books."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day Fifteen

Day 15 of avoiding the newspapers, which was yesterday, I fell of the wagon. It was very hot outside, humidity high, a swamp-like feel, and I'd chosen to sojourn rather than risk heart failure when I spotted familiar bookmarks. In short it was a terrible error. In the USA fifty or forty nine people had been shot dead in a nightclub. The Brits are veering toward leaving their union with Europe. There's a strong chance the Second Clinton will become the President of the Western World. The other bloke is probably going to spontaneously combust well before November. As an old fart I'm obliged to see no silver lining in any of this, and as an old fart I am sorely tempted to re-read the Book of Revelations, don the sack cloth and proceed to get out of the kitchen by throwing myself off the Green River Dam. But I won't because that's far too sensible a solution in this time of shifting sands in the yet to be observed alignment of Mars and Mercury, not to mention the disappearance of the Milky Way in the sky above much of the planet and the extinction of the Bramble Cay Melomy.

Much better to enter the fray. I'm going to open my mind to new horizons as I wait for The Rapture. Obviously fifty people were killed by a bad person with a gun because good people with a guns aren't Night Owls, they don't loiter around having a cocktail at two o'clock on a Sunday morning. Obviously the United Kingdom is an Island and the Channel Tunnel should rightly be flooded, it has no business in Europe, it's more traditional role in the world is to occasionally attempt to invade Europe or a Falkland Island and football hooligans don't count because they aren't authorized by the English Crown to possess battle tanks, jet planes, cruise missiles or to hold physical territory. And very obviously in the USA it's definitely time to do away with stupid things like elections and just set up an inheritance system whereby Presidents are born not elected, we could call them Kings or Pontiffs and they could do things like give people knighthoods, make them peers of the realm, and a whole thing with funny costumes, crowns, horse drawn carriages, $30,00 Armani jackets and silly hats. The Chinese Tourists would love it. That seems to have fixed any confusion I might have had.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Advantage

Correct to say The Cat and I have recovered from our recent visit to the Vet. She's in good form, chipper, tree climbing and full of beans, and there's a little tube of stuff that's squeezed on to her fur just between her shoulder blades, and this according to the professionals saves her from the agony of ticks and jumping fleas. It's not a pleasant procedure, but fortunately The Artist is most adept at performing it.

My own question, and I don't mean to sound like a poor loser, but why don't we people have a little tube that we can squeeze onto our backs just between our shoulder blades, or between our toes, or under our armpits. We at least can sign some kind of affidavit that requires us to take an oath that under no circumstances will we ever try to lick the stuff off. I guess it's yet one more example of  Ours Not To Reason Why.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Blasphemy as Blessed Release

Haven't mentioned the aedicule for a long time. The word has it's origin in Latin and referred to a small shrine, that was inside, rather than outside. Kind of like an alter in a church only it didn't figure large, it was to the side in a quiet place were a person might converse privately with his or her god. My own use of the "aedicule," aside from the enjoyment of using the word as a politer curse during times of noncooperation from objects and fellow beings, has to do with the soul and spirit of objects rather than of creatures. And here when I think soul and spirit, it's a projection from my mind into the object rather than part of my peculiar understanding of the consciousness contained within matter. And don't worry, a person would be correct to think that I am a long way from being an empiricist. An odd attitude perhaps but it's a deliberate attempt on my part to avoid the pitfalls of monetizing value.

There are some who might call my attitude "beating the head against a brick wall." They could well be correct. However, I'd prefer to argue that our world would be better suited to the longevity and glory of our species if it weren't so devoted to trade. All very well putting a price on something like carbon emissions but the principle argument against it remains so apparently powerful that despite over forty years of evidence nothing has been done about it and most likely nothing will be done about while we all sit around waiting for someone in a garage to emerge with an entrepreneurial solution that will also create well paid jobs. The aedicule is more monk-like than a warrior, it accepts the realities of its existence, understands patience and it takes the long view as it calls to the future and it asks, "why was I made?"

Monday, June 13, 2016

Provenance, or Arc Exploration

In the evidence that supports The Rabbit of Usk is an association between idea and witchcraft. This isn't fantastical, it's not myth, we're not talking about people flying around on friendly Dragons. If a person believes a spell has been cast upon them, it will dog their mind. If the spell caster has surreptitiously introduced a medicinal compound into his or her victim's daily gruel, odds are the physical effects upon the victim will enhance the collection of emotions the victim endures while under the spell. A visit to the doctor, who are generally considered good witches, is as much comforting as anything else, and then should the diagnosis be accurate, the prescribed medicine correct, the victim or patient improves.

The other area which I'd claim supports The Rabbit of Usk has to do with ego and the importance to the ego of feeling special. The less special a person feels the more likely it is that a person will believe things and see in things qualities those things probably do not actually possess. Sharing those beliefs with others, however absurd those beliefs might be to outsiders, proceeds to confirm the belief by demonstrating the belief's existence through those central portals of the social, which are as much stories as they are anything else and yet it's those shared beliefs that unable us to form both disastrous and more sobering cohesive units. I could go on to describe the Blood Oaths of the Mau Mau and the Drums of the Acholi, but I'll not go looking at the older societies to demonstrate how stubborn our hero can be.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Poached Egg Schism Glyph.

In The Rabbit of Usk there's often confusion around the Poached Egg Schism. Certainly, over the years history might have been bent a little, imaginations run a little wild in desperate search for explanation and sometimes those explanations might seem a trifle ridiculous to the initiated. However, amongst the first attempts at the written word there can be found what the more recent iterations of us people call Glyph's, and we're not talking the architectural glyph we're talking the stylized representation of a communication. Something that speaks to a cultural understanding without which the glyph would make no sense at all. The No Smoking Sign without any writing on it, is a glyph. The wretched Happy Face is a glyph, so is the Sad Face. The thing about ancient Glyph's, or Petroglyphs, a person has to go to the professionals who've stirred the ashes through learned generations in order to have them explained. No guarantee they know what they're talking about but such is the nature of the erudite. All the same, not even a writer of pulp can just go round making stuff up without providing some kind of provenance otherwise things go very awry and narrative comes to a grinding halt. Suffice to say that of several possible interpretations the Poached Egg Schism is one interpretation of an ancient glyph. The other interpretations include "Sun-like," "no one really knows, bit of a mystery," "according to JCD Lawrence they're concentric circles of a ritualistic nature possibly to do with seasonal movements or phases of the moon."

As a young impressionable but very open minded, fairly athletic youth, well steeped in local lore, your writer of pulp knew exactly what the ancient glyph was. It was obviously a poached egg and anyone who couldn't see it as a poached egg was probably suffering from heat exhaustion or having a poor reaction to the local water after drinking far too much of it. To the assertion that three, four or maybe five thousand years ago the egg had not yet been poached in that particular part of the world, your writer of pulp answered, "It's a well known fact that in the promised land of the Sphinx Sabean no one would be seen dead poaching an egg," or words to that effect. And then he went on a bit in a somewhat rambling manner about why that was and in his explanation he might have exaggerated his own understandings of Sabean Diaspora. "They quarreled over who would build the Sphinx for Pharaoh and Pharaoh who was wise beyond his tender years, said 'if you like poached eggs you're not allowed to build the Sphinx, you have to build the Pyramid.' The more gentle, the more interesting Sabeans, not hide bound by routine, even if they did sort of like poached eggs were fed up with building pyramids and naturally they wanted to work on the Sphinx." Never nice to be patronized, especially by some toffee nosed smart arse from England in white hunter style sun hat and shorts. "You obviously don't know why there's only one Sphinx on the banks of the Nile," your young writer of pulp shot back in a manner that was mistaken for either Chicken Pox or Mumps, could have been Whooping Cough, but on that particular occasion some kind of medical professional was unfairly called upon to settle the dispute.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Patronymics

In the Welsh tradition, prior to the English Conquest, and here we're basically talking the Medieval Saint Years from the end of the Roman Period through to the last Welsh War against the Plantagenet King Edward the First, also known as the Hammer of the Scots, it was around the end of the Thirteenth Century, Welsh names were primarily nicknames and no one really had what you and I might think of as a surname. But because it was important to know a line of ancestry and avoid accidentally committing Lot's sin, a person's name would include the person's father, grandfather and back into the past. This meant you'd get something like Timmy ap George ap Henry ap Edward etc., of course the names would be Welsh names not English names. After the English Conquest all the true born Brave Welsh Princes, or landowners, had been executed, the less brave had married the right person, they went all English Corporate if you like, and if they were very good, denied their past adopted new ways of describing themselves as loyal to the English Crown they were allowed to keep a little something. The common people were less prone to such abject behavior, no matter who ruled their lot, nothing really changed and some of them didn't hold much for the idea of surnames, until slowly, following tighter and tighter control by a Central Bureaucracy the Surname became inevitable as the Parish became less and less influential. But even today the Welsh people actually have relatively few Surnames, and round the world there are probably less than 20 million people with Welsh Surnames.

You can say what you like about what might be called Rationalization, a set of standards to which all will agree or be forced to agree. Consider Centigrade, Liters, Quarts, Pounds, Shillings and Pence, Miles and Kilometers. Worth also considering something like a Kroger's Grocery Store, no matter where you might travel up and down Kroger Territory you can go into a Kroger Grocery Store and know exactly which of the two or three hundred aisles the seventy odd different kinds of Milk can be found. Then there's things like MacDonald's, a plague that stretches from Coast to Coast, Brand name Hotels are the same, and you can travel for miles and miles without ever having to see anything or come into contact with anything strange, or different, or even remotely exciting. Nor do cell phones do much for moral fiber, they serve merely to increase blandness and persuade the dreamers to include in their fantasies the colonization of somewhere like Mars, or obsess on Decorative Accents to impress the neighbors. Either way in more recent years, and here we're basically talking forty or fifty years ago, there was a resurgence of interest amongst some Welsh people in more traditional ways of being. And this included names. All the same, if a person went for his job interview for something like a postal worker and announced that his name was something like Llewellyn ap Gruffudd, odds were he'd be treated with a degree of suspicion. Only the bolder, more passionate, adventurous people would try it and many of them had no work. For my part I'm so well adjusted I'm about as adventurous as a Poached Egg.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fathers' Day

It's things like 25% off Pellet Stove Parts as a Father's Day Special that makes a person weep for the world. Who sits there and thinks these things up and what world does he or she live in. It has to be a very flat sort of place, just the two dimensions, backwards and forwards or sideways, more like a Mole than a Butterfly. Mind you if 25% off Pellet Stove Parts had a been called a Summer Special then a door gasket and a refurbished blower motor would sound tempting. The point is, there's a principle involved here, and it's the kind of principle that's well worth sticking with otherwise civilization grinds to a halt.

I know I am fairly new to the use of the apostrophe, there was a time when I'd just stick one in when the mood struck, and I have to admit I was probably a much happier person back then. But Father's Day has the apostrophe in the wrong place. It should be Fathers' Day. It's a classic example of a culture that requires us to be thought of as individuals so that each and every one of us might be forced into competing with each other. In the USA the original Fathers' Day was a remembrance of Fathers killed in a mining accident in West Virginia. And whatever nightmare it might have become, it should still be called Fathers' Day. Good mind to start a petition on Change.org.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Potlatch is Good

Our hero has had a word or two with your writer of pulp. He's very anxious to avoid the error I drew into several of his characters in the first version of Vestry of Monnow. This time round he seems to remember the story better than I do, which is a little creepy, but it does serve as a reminder to regularly throw everything away and then start again. It's refreshing and in a sense liberating.

Kind of like going to the trash collection day that's all about keeping the county clean by providing residents an opportunity to get rid of stuff rather than tossing it on the side of the road when no one's looking, or just leaving it in the barn for another ten years on the understanding that because it looks useful it might be useful for something one day. Some of us are very prone to that. I think we're called "Hoarders."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Visit to the Vet

The recent silly dispute between myself and The Cat over a chair was finally resolved following a visit to the Veterinarian. I found the experience extraordinarily intense and it's taken me a couple of difficult days to recover my sense of balance. The Cat had given me every impression that she was in the process of knocking upon heaven's door, she was resigned to her fate, she was quite prepared to go quietly into the long night content in the knowledge that she'd done no wrong in the course of her short life. For a good twenty four hours she'd been curled up in her tail, when I touched her to see if she was still breathing or brought her bowl to her bedside, she opened one eye gazed peacefully at me, then closed it. I chose action. I shaved, I endured the trauma of making the phone call, always a difficult for person who'd prefer to hitch hike through Yugoslavia than make a phone call, I rushed around looking for my driving license and a clean shirt.

But when I got her to the vet she didn't look at all sick, or unwell. Quite the opposite, she winked at her fellow patients, and when it was our turn she greeted the vet like a long lost relative. The Cat was hale, she was hearty, she'd gained weight, and there was apparently nothing wrong with her. For my part I was wondering whether I was going to have a heart attack, I was too shaky to unlatch the pet carrier and the vet was very aware that I could well benefit from some kind of a horse tranquilizer. Then while The Cat was having her temperature taken on the vet's table, there was a moment when The Cat looked directly into my eyes and a communication passed between us.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these nut cases, but in my view the communication was the feline equivalent to "This is your last warning don't mess with me ever again!"  Fortunately there are other chairs in the domicile. It's not as though I have to sit on the floor, or at least not yet

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fear of Loss

A brief definition of the limbic system's physical nature would have to include the word complicated. It's a bunch of nerves, in a bunch of different structures in the brain that make a person feel sad, happy, angry, afraid or whatever emotion you'd like to think of. For reasons which can probably best be summed by the expression "a yearning for common sense and adult supervision" the great minds have concluded that the limbic system is a more primitive, more nativist part of our brain.

Can the limbic system be trained to behave in an orderly and sensible manner? Can it do it's two times table? The answer I regret to say is "certainly not around election time!" The erudite and learned take joy from their erudition and learning and when they are proved wrong it makes them unhappy. The powerful take joy from the power they possess and when they lose that power they are unhappy. Fear of loss, is so deep in the limbic system it makes a fool of us. We are doomed to our passions, it's what we are.

Monday, June 6, 2016

D-Day

Anniversary of D-Day. The Invasion of Europe began with landings on the beaches of Normandy. When I was younger, many in our number remembered the Day, they were older men and women, and we younger people often wondered what it had been like. No one could really tell us. Most of our information came from the media of films and books. We were the audience. Our own participation was a judgment call, like reviewers we'd say this film or this book was good. Our judgments were of course based upon how entertained we were.

The idea of negative entertainment never really enters the equation, it's more like Homework, something very few us younger people wanted to do, and I strongly suspect it's the same now as it was then. Maybe in time it might be possible to hook people up to a technical device, so they might experience something like D-Day as it was rather than as it has been variously described, or remembered. For such a device to actually enable the experience of something like D-Day, of the people who went into the machine a good percentage of them could never come out.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Discourse on Purring

Entirely possible your correspondent is prone to the odd eccentricity, the very occasional random and totally irrational utterance. His view that the more recent Class of Intelligentsia are far too preoccupied with vacationing in Cancun to have any understanding of, or care too much about the world beneath their Cathedral Bell Tower, is arguably a prime example. And too he has mentioned purring as an analogy for language on several occasions in the past so no reason not to mention it again. Biologists who have dissected Cats understand the mechanics of purring, it has something to do with restricting the glottis and breathing. Interesting that Cats aren't the only creatures that purr. Hyena can purr, so can a Bear, a Gorilla, a Squirrel, a Raccoon, a Rabbit and the list includes Mongoose, Guinea Pigs and Elephant. It's true that a purr is not a loud noise so I think probably the behavioral sciences have spent more time observing Cats than something like the Ring Tailed Lemur and they will confidently tell you that a Cat will purr under a whole range of different circumstances before the more adventurous investigator gets down to the difficult business of addressing the question Why Purr? Obviously the answers to this question are never a phenomenological exploration of Cat's experience of purring and it all devolves into making the purr fit into a wider theory. The purr might direct the Cat brain to release soothing chemicals, it might have something to do with Kitten-Hood and relationships with the Mother Cat, it could have something to do with a Pavlovian reaction to certain noises made by a tin opener, and there's a whole range of possible responses from tool makers to the science which could one day attempt to monetize purring by coming up with something like a "Purring Room for Your Overactive Siamese" "Purring Kitty Litter to ease the emotional trauma of hairball evacuation." They've done this sort of thing to the young of our own species and to Vegetable Gardeners, so why not curse those of us who make a home for a small four footed serial killer with a list of must have possibilities that will ease our own exhausting experience of existence. "Turn you safe room into a purring room." "Coming soon, enhance your sense of wellbeing with a Purr Box implant."

The question, "Why don't we purr?" is never actually asked. It's one of those questions that fail to meet the standard that some will insist separates us from the beasts and the plants, it would be kind of like asking "Why doesn't the Salamander believe in God?" I mean it's rare and very special person who might be able to willing restrict his or her glottis, adjust his or her breathing and just sit there gazing at the sunshine or give the carpet a jolly good scratch before jumping onto someone's armchair and pretending to be asleep. The answer to the question "Why don't we purr?" is a very simple one. We do purr. We spend a great deal of our lives purring, we are constantly purring, the telephone was invented to facilitate our purring, enable us to purr long distance should we so chose, or to purr at the unfortunates locked up in orbiting space station. Radio's purr at us, and if you insist on having one, you can actually see complete strangers purring endlessly on the television set, much of it scripted. There are arguments that might suggest we people could now and again, very occasionally, draw a some small comfort from the soothing word, the well structured sentence, correct use of grammar, a rhyming couplet, the way another uses his knife and fork, an opinion on Sardines, but, they'll go on to argue, language is more devoted to the sharing of ideas, the brave exploration of our world, the deep hard fought analysis that has enabled us, who are apparently more sentient than the lower beings, to go on to do wonderful things like build dams, temporarily cure polio, and a whole range of other truly extraordinary tool maker achievements that lift us high and set us apart. And without beating about, the argument that language has nothing to do with purring is the very saddest form of purring. It's the purring of the terminally injured. Get over it, ninety nine point nine percent of everything thing we say is purring of one kind or another. For a Domestic cat, the frequency of purring is twenty to thirty vibrations a second which means a cat has the advantage of not having to spend most of his or her waking hours purring. From my own hair raising experiments I have found that the resident Cat will effortlessly purr for up to an hour at a time, she's taken to doing this about two inches from my head during hours of darkness. I like to think it's her attempt to purr with me, but I begin to think it has more to do with that characteristic of all species, a desire to rule their world or write a blog.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Shandy, Svejk and Our Hero

There are times, and June is particularly prone to them, when those of us who dabble in the fantasy world through the medium of pulp reach an impasse that's caused by temptation to ramble around in a loose and moronic manner hopefully looking for insight into the nature of being a genuine hero as opposed to some shade of super hero for whom it's more about an ordination to a ministry which I'm inclined to call propaganda. It's the case too that many have read and enjoyed Laurence Sterne, one of his titles runs roughly The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. The account is most certainly a rambling around, no question about it. It's a funny, and very readable march through the days of a man's life in the first half of the Eighteenth Century. The author was called Laurence Sterne, he was an Anglican, or Protestant, Clergyman, born in Ireland, who if he had a point to make in no sense was that point a serious point and he thoroughly enjoyed making it. Stern was accused of plagiarism, stole from Bacon it was claimed and there was much huffiness in the higher court that dogged Sterne during his own time on earth, not so much now days. The Good Soldier Svejk, was another such genuine hero in my view. Svejk life was written by Jaroslav Hasek, a former Proudhon type Anarchist, who'd been a soldier himself in the World War One Austrian Hungarian Army, and following the defeat did briefly find sterling work as a commissar for the early Soviets before returning home to Czechoslovakia where he engaged in heavy drinking and over eating to such an extent he had to dictate most of his masterpiece.

The other side of this temptation is the nature of fiction. If a person were to go back to the beginnings of language in our species most of our knowledge and understanding of ourselves would have been through stories, some of them true, some of them not true. This argument suggests that however useful language is, it nonetheless has actually detached us from the real world in which we live, and it's done this by us telling stories, not all of them in books, a great many billion more from person to person. In one sense stories promote possibilities, they encourage a mind to believe in what might otherwise be thought impossible, and they can be very affirming for a creature that does seem require some sort of affirmation. But in another sense they encourage us to believe that we are something we might not and never will be. My own understanding will insist that our societies would not function as they are currently arranged without stories. So it's very much a luxury to be able to enjoy the Good Soldier Svejk, he was described as a congenital idiot who had never quite grasped that the military life as well as war was anything much more than a disagreement in a bar. Always interesting that a former propaganda writer, or commisar, should arrive at such a hero. And with Laurence Sterne, his Tristram Shandy had been doomed to a life of woe consequent to the misfortunate accident of his birth, during labor his mother asked his father whether he'd remembered to wind the clock, an ill omen if ever there was one and subsequent events such as his accidental circumcision while relieving himself out of the window. Either way our own hero can sometimes preach a little and it's just not right. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

My Chair

As a person I share the descended larynx with the Cat. Which means we are both pretty good at making noises. Unlike the Cat I can use my tongue to shape those noises in a great many different ways. And sometimes I fondly believe that the noises I make as a result of using my tongue can be understood by the Cat. Sadly in moments of panic, when imagination runs toward stories of Eagles feeding live Cats to their giant nestlings Eagles, the only noise that will distract the Cat from her dangerous pursuit of an evening Rabbit, is the sound of a spoon tapping her food bowl.

I remember when the grandchild visited. Like the Cat she was very reluctant to come when called. She'd wander off and no amount of cleanly annunciated verbal explanation from me would return her to the fold. The Artist of course has a certain ferocity, a commanding figure when it suits, she had no trouble gathering up the grandchild. And she has these same abilities when it comes to the Cat, no question of The Artist ever having to tap a food bowl. I don't know what it is, but I suspect it might have something to do with my own craven cowardice around what I once used to think of as My Chair.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Good Example of Medieval Saints

Your correspondent does go on a little about the Medieval Saints. There's a small county in N scale Kentucky named after a Medieval Saint of Anatolian origin - a part of the world now called Turkey. Not to mention our hero, who is about to reacquaint himself with a great many people who could be under the illusion they are Medieval Saints. It's true also that many fine Medieval Saints have been struck from the roles of Sainthood following suspicions in Rome that some of their miracles might have been just a little self serving, totally unbelievable or even unchristian. Hate to remind everyone but a certain Saint Timothy has been so badly treated. And I think if there's ever a point to the narrative, it's the idea that Medieval Saints were local phenomena rather than products of a far away bureaucracy and we all know what bureaucracies become over time, especially with things like computers and comment sections. I also have to admit that I think in those far away days when no one was forced to outlive their usefulness Christianity was just a great deal more fun than it is now days, not so hide bound by the role of reason in the tomes and tomes of apologies for simply believing. Instead a complexity upon complexity of understandings which instead of generously admitting to the incomprehensibility of consciousness, turns something we can only experience into concrete form or a written wrong or right answer.

It's not just Christians who have Saints. Sufi's have Saints, they might be more like miracle performing poets than a Christian idea of saint. I think the Jews have an interest in the role of prophet as contributors to an understanding of leadership and direction, not sure that strictly speaking Prophets are Saints. Not sure that Muslims have Saints, their beliefs have been written more in terms of property, bloodlines and inheritance of the will of God, kind of like Christians following one or other of Jesus' direct relatives. And while it's entirely possible that the Muslim and Jewish tradition have fewer schisms in their understanding of fatherhood when compared to the Christians, it's worth remembering that before succumbing to its own success Christianity had its origins in the beliefs of a multicultural underclass, rather than from its beginning being a set of ideas by which to rule the masses. But don't get me wrong, which is easy to do, in my own personal understanding when I die, I'm gone. Fortunately for me the only part that lingers are the elements of matter from which I'm made, each with its own set of preoccupations and each possessed by the ambitions forced upon them by their role in the universe, which for consciousness as everyone knows is more like a slope than anything else. So yes, I'm a big fan of the Medieval Saint, consider them more appropriate examples for us who live in these interesting times.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Day One

Day one of giving up newspapers was a total disaster. Tried to persuade myself that something like the New Yorker didn't really count as a newspaper, don't you believe it for one tiny minute. Of course it has the fluff stuff, the fascination with book reviews that mean you don't actually have to decide for yourself or read the book, lists of odd little things that might be happening in New York City and a short fiction with plenty of semi-colons about coming to terms with something or other while on summer holiday at the beach. I guess it was irony.

Then all hell broke loose, an account of a birdwatcher who following a series of misfortunes to older relatives was able to go on a Lindblad Cruise to the Antarctic. You might not know it but Lindblad cruises are all about travelling by sea at great expense to the few remaining pristine places in an attempt to raise awareness of things like Climate Change and loss. When I discovered it was called "Expedition Cruising" something snapped. Entirely possible the only way to get some good sleep is take the lobotomy via alcohol route.