Sunday, February 24, 2008


I eat a lot of them. They're good for many things. But that didn't stop my glasses from breaking the other day. Yes, they just snapped right the hell in half. Terrible business, really. They were broke like a 1932 Oklahoma wheat farmer. Oooh...too soon? Naturally, I was miles away from home, without contacts, with a bus to catch, during a snowstorm.

OK, the snowstorm was made up, but the rest is real. One of the people at the Potluck looked at my broken specs and said:

Did that just really happen?

I responded in the affirmative, and I added that now, without the benefit of 20/20 vision, I wouldn't be able to defend against knife attacks. To which this same person responded:

I don't wear glasses, and I still can't defend against knife attacks.

It led me to think about how my glasses have defined me since 1993. Surely, the advent of contact lenses almost a year ago changed many things. I can wear sunglasses now without looking like I belong in some dystopian future in a bad B-movie. I hope the new vision-aids come in soon, or I may be left unable to see clearly.

Or worse, unable to defend against knife attacks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Yeah! إيمينيم

التفاح يقاوم الغازات والامساك وحامض البول, اما قشوره فانها تقاوم النقرس والروماتيزم المزمن والحصاة في الكلى والمرارة لذا يجب اكله طريا او مطبوخا بقشوره. وهو مرطب ومسهل ونقيعه يفيد في الامراض الحادة والالتهابية ويخفف من الام الحمى ومفعوله مفيد في الكبد والكليتين والمثانة وضد التهاب الامعاء بغليه مدة عشرة دقائق مع قليل من جذر العرقسوس . والتفاح مفيد ايضا في تهدئة السعال وتسهيل افرازات البلغم كما هو مفيد قبل وبعد العمليات الجراحية, وفي حالة التهاب الاعصاب الحاد والمزمن والوهن القلبي وصيانة الاوعية الدموية وهو ضد نخر الاسنان ، وهو مفيد للتغلب على الحموضات التي تهاجم الجسم بعد سن الاربعين وذلك بأكل ثلاث تفاحات في اليوم ، كما يقضي على التسمم الشتوي الناتج عن الاكل الثقيل الدسم من لحم وشحم وغيره.


I felt that my beard was becoming a liability so I removed a bunch of it. Face looks real trim now; I'm a fan again. Once my new goggles show up in the mail, I'll have a much better idea of how to remember what I used to look like before I got attacked by an evil Senator's goons and stuck in a coma for years before waking up with cybernetic implants and stuff and then get boosted from the hospital before the goons come back to finish the job and get taken to a farm out in the country where I'll slowly retrain not only my latent kung-fu abilities, but also my shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and super-human strength and acupuncture myself so I know where all my new circuits are and then come back and explode all the goons and then make it to the bad Senator guy and probably explode him, too, although that would make me just as bad as him, so maybe I'll just let him live in jail for the rest of his life and then join the police force and kick major ass as a kung-fu cyborg.

We'll call it Hard to Kill: The RoboCop Story, or something like that. Please treat this post as an homage to Steven Seagal and Peter Weller. Weller I like because he actually teaches at Syracuse; he's a smart cookie. And I'll say that the actual Hard to Kill is one of the few movies that I've seen more than 5 times. Due the the repeated watchings, it has grown on me. Although I haven't checked it out in years, I'm sure it's still good. And as for Robocop, come one, it's Robocop.

Peter Weller was also a terrible man in 24.
Steven Seagal is... pretty much an American institution.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Solar Energy and My Photosynthetic Shirt

When I was a wee lad, definitely older than 8 but definitely younger than 13, I was at the local state park with my brothers and my dad. It was a bright, sunny day. My dad was doing something with my brothers, and I was just ambling about aimlessly. The sun must have felt very inviting, so I got down on the cement and let it shine on me. I was wearing a black shirt, or at least it was once black. At this point in its life it was more of a dark grey. It had been tie-dyed at some point in its long life, and there was one long streak of white shooting across the front of it like a lightning bolt. In fact, before my mom explained what tie-dye was, I just naturally assumed that it was a depiction of one of Zeus' messages.

Not the real shirt.

As I lay there upon the cement, I could feel the warmth of the sun entering me, mostly through my shirt. I started to think that I would be able to absorb the energy coming from the sun in the same manner as a solar panel. Granted, my understanding of photovoltaic power back then (as now) was fairly limited. But it was different than that. I knew that my black(ish) shirt would tend to absorb more visible light and, concordantly, heat. The cement was very light, so I would essentially become a tiny island of energy. It made me feel better, and as I played that day in the park, I could swear that I was running on solar.

There's a lot of sun in Colorado; perhaps some of my polos are photosynthetic, too. Maybe then I would have a basis for feeling so damn good.

Now if only I could manage energy output. I really need to recharge my iPod.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Santa Claus

It's quite possible that I have no idea what is going on here:

Or it might be just what I think it is. A study by the Swedish consulting firm SWECO late last year determined that for Kris Kringle to maximize his gift-delivering to all the billions of young people across the world, he should be based in Kyrgyzstan.

The rest is at the BBC. What it boils down to is that the Kyrgyz government hosted a big celebration full of Santa Clauses and Ayaz Atas (Snow Father) and Ded Morozes (Grandfather Frost) and planned to name a mountain between the Osh and Naryn Oblasts as Santa's "new" home. RFE/RL also ran a big story about it.

While discussing the story with a friend in Kyrgyzstan, he lamented that this was just the sort of problem that the Central Asian Republics are trying to deal with: the question of identity in the wake of the collapse of the USSR. I suspect that the celebration and the naming of the mountain, just like the study that preceded them both, was slightly more benign than that, but the thought was now officially out. That friend and I, as well as two other people, are collaborating to research questions of identity just like this. We feel that it is important for some reason. Watch this space.

For me, though, the story illustrated an important point about religious identity, which just happens to be one of my research interests. In a nation whose population is probably 75% Muslim, this seems to be a cute little interfaith excursion. Of course, Kyrgyzstan is close to 20% Orthodox Christian, too, and even the Muslims there are mostly adherents of the Hanafi school, which distinguishes them from other, more strict denominations. Still, that Father Christmas can be revered in a Central Asian country is a good indicator that all hope is not lost, and that there are still options for getting along.

Or something slightly less sappy, but equally useful.

Par for the Course

These discs are just begging to get thrown in a lake

If there is most assuredly one thing that is missing in this Colorado life, it would be disc golf. Yes, it’s golf, but with Frisbees. Now granted, these Frisbees (or discs, as we call them) weigh upwards of 170 grams and can seriously bust you up if you get hit by them, but the basic premise is the same. Naturally, you can understand more by following this link to a ridiculously underdeveloped Wikipedia page about the sport. DISC GOLF

There was a time where multiple hours every day were spent out on the disc golf course in Aurora, IL. It was usually Jason and I heading out there after work. It presented a perfect opportunity to blow off steam about the day or week, and to plan things like our newspaper. Or, for that matter, all the millions of other outrageous plans that we discussed.

When Captain Ahab was around, he’d come out, too, and we’d laugh and laugh and have REALLY HIGH-LEVEL CONVERSATIONS. I remember the last time that I disced with Ahab, as well as the last time that Jason and I went out to the Lake to throw. It was a week or two before he took off for Central Asia. On both occasions, my game sucked. My discs must have known that they would soon be “put up” for a while. With Jason and Ahab gone, I didn’t have many folks to disc with. I was working for the university, and I knew a bunch of undergrads who played, but of course, they were undergrads.

There was no discing at all during the fall semester; I was actually very busy, so it’s understandable. Drew convinced me to come out a handful of times in the spring, though, and they were mucho rewarding. Again, the golf course served its purpose as a fertile ground for discussion. In those days, it was trying to figure out what would happen in August. (In case you haven’t caught on, I moved to Denver.) And of course there was the blowing off of steam. The course that Drew took me to was in the suburbs a few minutes north along Randall. It was basically cut out of a forest. It did look like they had designed it to do the least amount of damage to the local FOLIAGE, but it must suck to be a tree on a disc golf course. You tend to get smacked...a lot!

Those were great times out there. Sadly, the nearest courses out here are quite far away, even by bike. Once the weather heats up a bit and the ground dries, I’ll make an expedition out to a nearby course. It will be good to get back out there. Maybe I’ll be alone, maybe I’ll have someone to share my thoughts with; it doesn’t matter. I’ll pull out my Champion Firebird chartreuse disc, wind up, and let fly.

I’m expecting to double-bogey every damn hole. And that’s just fine by me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I had a chat with Mike today. It’s always good to talk to him for a long time. It gives me a chance to type lots of crazy things and such. He mentioned that his cousin and sister were both twenty-one now. That blew me away. It seems that every week I see or hear something that reminds me how old I really am.

And I know I’m still very young, but I’ve come quite a long way. We’ll see in another year or two how many are left from my class who haven’t “settled” at least a bit. Weird.

The Old Days were, of course, good, but I’m convinced that these days are 1000s of times better. It’s Tim’s theory of XAll days previous + XToday = XAll days previous + 1. It basically states that in terms of happiness and experience, each day equals all other days plus one extra unit of something (not sure what). In this fashion, each day we live is just a little more than the aggregate of what we’ve already lived. Sweet, I guess.

But for now, it’s a question of figuring out how to chart the progress of the 1978 Communist Revolution in Afghanistan. This is not at all easy.

Additionally, things are just peachy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Since They Wanna Know

In case it hasn't been gazed upon: - Yes, it's that good, and it just gets better.

It occurred to me that I should really be listening to more rap. This is, of course, difficult given the recent loss of the ENTIRE COLLECTION of my music. I just happened to hear a few tracks from Obie Trice's last CD, and it reminded me of just how good he might be. Of course, Eminem tends to attract people like that to him.

I have a thing for underground hip-hop stuff like Bus Driver and many of the Chicago groups, but even mainstream acts tend to surprise. Take Clipse, for instance. "Hell Hath No Fury" was a tour-de-force, and the fact that I heard NPR reviewing it favorably only lends credence to the abilities of Pusha-T and Malice. I present "Ain't Cha," which besides making me want to rock back and forth in my seat, also contains this wondrous first verse:

Rugers spare I drapes, baking pies, baking cake
Hustling them E's and that C's and that H
While you probably talking frantic on the tape
N***az in the hood ain't tryna to hear "Man it was a mistake"
To call you a bitch, not a bandit at ya wake
Epitaph reading how much damage you could take
While I'm on the boat with ya bitch, salmon on the plate
I know why you liked her, the head it was great
Loving these bezels sets, change with no space
86 karats, you know how much digging in the planet this could take?
Patent leather BAPEs...Uh, uh! Closet like planet of the BAPE!
Monkey see, monkey do, monkeys following in place
Like I'm living in an episode of Planet of the Apes
You're watching the evolution of one of rap's greats
You n***az tryna take my place? Neva happen...

Naturally, some of this might not be exactly as it was meant to be seen, but these lyrics-sets are often heard rather than straight from the group. If you look closely, you can see what I'm talking about. Pusha-T actually raps from the end of the line. And it's all about the long a sound, of course, but I point special attention to the line about digging. Wow.

Anywho, I'm sure that this track (just like every Clipse song) has something to do with hustling coke. But seriously, this is some good stuff. I end this with a little bit of one of my faves, who managed to absolutely slay one of my other faves on his own track:

Since I'm in a position to talk to these kids and they listen
I ain't no politician but I'll kick it with 'em a minute
Cause see they call me a menace; and if the shoe fits I'll wear it
But if it don't, then y'all'll swallow the truth grin and bear it
Now who's these king of these rude ludicrous lucrative lyrics
Who could inherit the title, put the youth in hysterics
Usin his music to steer it, sharin his views and his merits
But there's a huge interference - they're sayin you shouldn't hear it
Maybe it's hatred I spew, maybe it's food for the spirit
Maybe it's beautiful music I made for you to just cherish
But I'm debated disputed hated and viewed in America
as a motherfuckin drug addict - like you didn't experiment?
Now now, that's when you start to stare at who's in the mirror
and see yourself as a kid again, and you get embarrased
And I got nothin to do but make you look stupid as parents
You fuckin do-gooders - too bad you couldn't do good at marriage!
(Ha ha!) And do you have any clue what I had to do to get here I don't
think you do so stay tuned and keep your ears glued to the stereo
Cause here we go - he's {*Jigga joint Jigga-chk-Jigga*}
And I'm the sinister, Mr. Kiss-My-Ass it's just a RENEGADE!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I remember one night when we still had the dining room table set up. This was, of course, before the dining room became the study and the study became the bedroom. We were playing a game of Gin. I like this game; it's got just enough capacity for aggravation to make it really interesting.

We were drinking pre-mixed Cosmopolitans with SKYY vodka. They were OK, I guess. Jets to Brazil was probably playing in the background, and I know there was some form of incense at work in the air.

Fast forward two years: I'm waking up at 4:40 a.m. and hopping in the shower. After having some toast, a banana, my vitamins, and a glass of tomato juice, I sit down where that dining room table used to be. I spend about half an hour browsing the morning's news, then slip on a shirt and tie and head out the door to go to the office. It's cold outside, and my footfalls are a steady clip-clap on the cement leading up to my building.

As I reach the third floor, I pause outside of Room 320. That's where it all started; where we trace it back.

And nowadays, I think of my times in that building, and the good (and bad) work that I did there. I think of warm nights back on the balcony at the apartment, and of the various move-ins and move-outs that accompanied my time there.

And I smile.

Nunc ubi Regulus aut ubi Romulus aut ubi Remus? Stat Roma pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.

Regulations Are Important


That's enough to make two hamburgers for every living person in the United States. This is the beef that goes into school lunches - lunches that are eaten by little kids. Am I a vegetarian? Yes. Am I a militant vegetarian who pushes my beliefs on others? Not usually, but it's stories like this that make me want to outlaw cheap meat. Maybe if we were made to pay what meat really costs, in terms of energy, our environment, and our health system, we wouldn't be so cavalier about eating it all the time.

This is the largest beef recall in U.S. history.

You can't mistreat broccoli.

How Close We've Come

I stumbled (again) upon the story of Stanislov Petrov, the Russian officer who didn't press the Big Red Button back in 1983.

Full story here.

Little things like this usually make us wipe our forehead and shout "Whew! That was close!" The funny thing is, both the Russian and American arsenals are still on hair-trigger alert. My guess is (and I don't know about our Russian friends) that we're using Microsoft Windows to power our systems; I expect full nuclear catastrophe at any time. This winter might be colder than most, but nuclear winter is way, way cold.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Gin Game...and Beefeaters, Anyway

Went and saw Paragon Theatre's production of The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn tonight. I caught the #7 north to 24th and Downing, then just walked over a few blocks. Stopped in to the coffee/ice cream shop to get a cappuccino.

As I sat in the Crossroads Theatre before the show admiring the set (it was really cool), I was struck by a very, very strong wave of something. I'm not sure what it was, but it made me want to rush out to DIA and get on the first flight to Heathrow. I haven't heard the London Calling for a time, and I guess I just forgot what it felt like. I could feel the sunlight in Kensington Park and the light rain that fell on me in Maida Vale. There was an urge for Strongbow Cider and shawarmas. And for that smiling Romanian girl who worked the Italian Restaurant on Queensway.

As much as I want to go traipsing about the ruins of Persepolis or climbing through the underground cities of Central Anatolia, there's still that magnetic something calling to me (screaming to me) to come back to the Square Mile, to Portobello Road, to Marble Arch, to Blackfriars, to the Tower, and back to late nights with Adam, Melissa, Matt and all the others.

Quando hominem taedet Londinii, eum taedet vitae.

There's Whiskey in the Jar

I quite accidentally ended up at Whole Foods this morning; just woke up in the Bulk Foods aisle. Weird, right? Anywho, I roamed about the place and picked up some sodium-free Nu-Salt. Apparently, it uses potassium chloride instead of the NaCl version. Picked up a bottle of High Country ginger kombucha, and finally bought a bag of mate. I'd put the accent on the final letter, but I still don't know how to do it with the keyboard.

For this I am eternally sorry.

Since I had some free time, I traipsed through the bakery/deli section, which has never been done. They sell Field Roast stuff! There was lots of bread. As I walked to the registers, I caught a wave of nirvana from somewhere. My guess is that it came from the bakery, but there's really no certainty.

I checked out and hopped onto the patio to drink the kombucha in the bright, bright sun.

Almost two hours later, I bought new blue jeans. As they say in Wigan...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Northern Illinois University

On an unrelated note: The horrifying news today out of Northern Illinois University. A gunman walked into a lecture hall and shot 21 people, killing 5 of them, before turning the gun on himself. I first heard about it after reading a Facebook status update from a friend of mine who is a student at NIU. It read "Mike : GUNMAN AT NORTHERN, GET TO SAFETY."

I started following the news at that point.

I must say, when Seung-Hui Cho undertook whatever grisly mission it was that he had in his head at Virginia Tech, my reaction was quite different. I have friends at NIU. I've spent time there. I have family connections there.

Let those who passed requiescat in pace, and peace upon the familes and friends of the wounded and shell-shocked.

Well It's 50 Cups of Coffee and You Know It's On

I was reading a blog earlier today; something chronicling the Long War.
There was an Iraqi flag on the sidebar linking to somewhere else.
I read the words in the middle; it was the takbir (Allahu akbar).
After a second or two, my mind registered the fact that I had read the Arabic script.
Martin had told me that learning to read Arabic is like riding a bike.
I think he was right, because it felt just like the first time I took off without training wheels.
Granted, I've still got half of the alphabet and all of the diacriticals to learn, but this is a start.
Once I finish that, I'll be functionally illiterate in a handful of languages.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Old Smells p.2

The Campus Bank today smelled like the home of my Aunt and Uncle in the suburbs back in Illinois. I like that smell; it comes to me far more often than the other old ones. It's not that it's particularly comforting or anything, no more so than the others. I just like the thought of the location that the smell evokes, and the knowledge that someday I will return to that house to eat dinner with my Aunt and Uncle and two cousins. They will ask about what I've been up to, I will tell them, and then ask them the same. It will be a pleasing time for all involved, I feel.

Homesickness, or for some people, homes-sickness, is a terrible disease. It is best combated by fulfilling the desires that it evokes. Someday I'll stop a scientist from inventing a drug to cure homesickness. He'll be like, "This is for the good of humanity!"

And I'll grab the collar of his lab-coat (while his research minions look on in terror, or confusion) and say, "Mister, maybe you and I might have different ideas of what is 'good', but I'm damn sure that humanity would be better off holding on to those feelings."

Then I'll roundhouse kick all his test tubes. It's gonna be awesome. And expensive, because someone's going to have to replace all the lab equipment, and it is not cheap at all.

Maybe I'll just stay home that day. It's not like he's forcing me to take the pills, right?

Identity (Iteration 1)

What are we to make of intersecting identities? I relate this to a very old Values Council discussion (it happened to be our first in the virtual world, actually). The question was posited, "Why is religious identity such a big damn deal now?" I suppose this ignores questions like, "Has it always been?" or "OH IS IT? I HADN'T NOTICED!"

Anywho, we decided that perhaps the autumn of 1989 provided the fertile ground for its "resurgence," since when "the Wall fell," the world ceased to be discussable in terms of Soviet and Free World. Of course, people had been religious during the Cold War, and for thousands of years before that. Probably since forever.

Of course, identity is far more than just one's vision of ultimate reality. There is tribal allegiance, gender, nationality, some construction of ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, location, socioeconomic background, height, weight, preferred brand of cigarette, language, history (both personal and otherwise), cat-lover or dog-lover or dog-lover-cat-hater, pasta fanatic or gluten-allergic, handicapped or able-bodied or somewhere-in-between, vegan or not, and a whole slew of hyphenated, tongue-in-cheek bits of what constitutes a person.

So what does identity mean nowadays? Can we be sure? Why does it seem important to the level of life-and-death at some times and completely inconsequential at others? Why doesn't one act as a militant whatever until that point at which being a whatever comes under attack by someone who is explicitly or implicitly not whatever? What does identity mean for us? What does identity mean for me?

As a young undergraduate, I wrote a paper on linguistic diversity wherein I claimed that discourse communities could be both as broad and as narrow as we could possibly conceive, since one's linguistic identity was a combination of many factors, a handful of which are listed above. Perhaps I was looking too specifically at the subject. Perhaps identity as identity is a worthy topic of discussion. The meta-identifiable bits of what makes humans interesting are what I concern myself with.

That, and what how I'm going to get all my schoolwork done this term without suffering a nervous breakdown.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Statistically Significant

Woke this morning with the phone not answering my commands.

Went south. Forgot my Stats notebook. Laptop screen died. Pen ran out of ink. Class took a long time.

Lots of other mostly terrible stuff, but at least my head wasn't aching like yesterday

Came home. Lots of boxes in the mail. Ran to store to buy vegetables. Came home, finished the cabbage.

The boxes contained the leftover stuff that I had been unable to take with me back to the mountains after Christmas, so I now sit surrounded by spoils. My new saucepan is among them, and many books. And a boot dryer.

Balance in all things...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Empire Strikes Back

Empire (specifically the American blend), as we conceive of it today, is no longer the globe-spanning economic/linguistic political structure that we knew from the days when the Union Jack flew highly and proudly from many corners of the world. Nor is it as simple as America's enormous overseas military presence. No, today's Empire is far different. It's not as simple as drawing a line between hegemony and empire, or coercion and cooperation. The Empire, which has a distinctively American flavor, is a super-structure that floats above everything that we know. It encompasses, of course, linguistic, economic, and legal concerns, but at the super-systems level, the very idea seems to lose its nebulousness and fall back to earth.

In doing so, we see today's Empire as its own sort of regime, much like arms control. States are party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in many cases because the benefits and legitimacy that membership bestows far outweigh the costs associated with not being involved, or leaving.

The Empire, since I believe it deserves the definite article preceding it, is simply the world-wide regime that encourages participation, because staying out of things and not "playing by the rules" is nowadays both unfeasible and irresponsible.

So whose Empire is it? It's everyone's, really; a hyperdemocracy gone supernova. But in reality, it belongs to no one. It is simply a byproduct of our development in a globalizing era. And I, ever the optimist, also feel that it might have something to do with our development as people.

Everything is always on its way to somewhere.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hay Mow

A hay mow, in case you weren't aware, is where you store hay.

You pronounce it like "hey now."

I've always had a hay mow where I've lived. Not so much in the last few years; no room in apartments for hay and such. There are many fond memories related to hay mows in my life. I miss my hay mows.

At our house near Oglesby, the hay mow was where I brain-wrote my first play. From what I recall, there was a Princess and possible some sort of "White Knight" figure. The plan was to stack bales of hay into some rudimentary "castle" structure, from where the main action could occur. The whole thing fell apart, of course, without the appropriate strength (I was 4 or 5), and a clear dearth of engineering experience. That, and it was difficult to find actors, given the lack of a script, costumes, and money (or cookies).

Someday, I'll finish writing the damn thing and I'll hire some actors and it'll be made into a really cute indie film.

We're gonna need a lot of hay.

Old smells

The stairwell in my building smelled today. It probably wasn't different than it's ever smelled, but for some reason, today's stairwell aroma reminded me of Mike's old house. So as I carried my load of laundry down to the washers, I did that old "let the memories wash over me" thing. It was pleasing.

Went to S. Broadway today to check out the thrifting. Finally found a pair of second-hand black wingtips. Picked up a nice blazer and some brown pennyloafers, too. The shoes, especially, smell old, but that's probably because they are leather. Ended up a few blocks north for our Winter bar crawl some hours later. There, too, I encountered a smell that took me back, although I have no idea where back is.

Scent is very strongly tied to memory, and for as long as I can remember, I've been a "smeller."

I've created scent profiles for the homes of my friends and family, and compared them to other locations. I'll occasionally walk into a room somewhere and think, "Gods, this smells exactly like Bob and Kathy's house!"

Naturally, all of this leads me to the obvious question: Do I, and my lodgings, possess a certain je ne sais quoi?

Further research will be needed.

Friday, February 8, 2008


I went to Sidney’s this morning for coffee in the usual manner. Ordered a “Shot in the Dark,” which is basically their Peruvian blend with espresso. I explained that I had been born in Peru. This elicited some interested hoots from the wonderful coffee-ladies. Naturally, full disclosure necessitated that the truth be explained, and it was.

“Not really. It’s a small town in Illinois.”

But it became interesting again, right.

“Mom’s a soil scientist, dad’s a forester.”

Got my coffee and went my way. As I was crossing 14th Street, sans WALK signal, I was almost creamed by a pickup truck. This is no joke: if the driver hadn’t been paying attention, he would have turned me into a road-pie. It certainly didn’t help that I was wearing the following in brown: shoes, socks, pants, shirt, and tie. It wasn’t so much getting plowed-up by a truck that would have been embarrassing, it would have been that I was spending my time crossing the street thinking about stopping in at Sidney’s for coffee on a weekend. Maybe if the coffee-ladies weren’t so cool, I wouldn’t have almost got crushed.

Moral of the story: I didn’t have an adrenaline rush; no emotional response whatsoever besides humor. There was a mad smirk on my face as I made it across the street, though. Weird.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Balcony

Scented footsteps lead me to the balcony where she
stands replanting my lavender that the squirrels
dug up to hide winter-food. Smiles, a breath, she
leaves to clean the earth from her nails.

I bring myself down to the chair, the air wants to
carry the last seven weeks of summer with it. I am
accompanied by a text about bees and a chablis.

She returns to un-empty the chair across from me
to read Colbert. It is our favorite time
of day, this stasis. There is all time.

Can’t put a color to the sky I say looking past her
and over the beech tree with birdfeeders. She’ll
agree; even the clouds aren’t quite white.

I’ve run out of wine I say and set down my text to
retreat indoors and fetch a new glass and one for
you too my dear and she nods. Pouring is
impossible when she tilts her head back to laugh at
a particularly outrageous passage. My bees are not
that funny.

Returning with the wine, she sighs and stretches.
The best part of being awake– we can’t tell if the sun
will stay for three hours or thirty minutes but it
certainly smells like the end of a day.

And so we read until the light fails in its duty to
illuminate the page and we fall indoors again;
clockworks keeping time with the heart.

She’ll sing. I’ll ponder. We’ll collide.

Breezes from the balcony now that fill the house
with promise of night. Candles, light houses.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An Ash Wednesday Post

An excerpt from the soon-to-be-released memoirs of Jesus Christ "Just Do It: In Memory of Me":

So Jesus the Christ and the Twelve Apostles (or maybe there were five, or thirty-two; who knows?) are lounging around having dinner after a long day spent trying to convince the people of Israel that it is totally cool to be kind to other folks. Peter turns to Jesus and says, “Hey, Yeshua! What’s the difference between a Pharisee and a bucket of donkey shit?”

Jesus looks at Peter and says, “I don’t know: what?”

Peter says, “The bucket!”

And Jesus the Christ let out a big ‘ol belly laugh and slapped Peter on the back. Oh, he was laughin’ so hard that he was cryin’ and his nose started runnin’. Of course the other apostles couldn’t help but laugh, too. Now this went on for minutes; there would be points of silence where they tried to catch their breath only to blow it out explosively in yet another round of gut-pain-inducing giggles. And when they were all done laughing and had finished drying their eyes, Jesus the Christ looked upon them and said, “You guys are great.”

"Just Do It: In Memory of Me" will be released May 2008 by Harper/Collins. It details the life and times of Jesus (Savior of the World, Who Takes Away the Sins of the World, Happy Are Those Who Are Called To His Supper), his family, his friends, and especially his time in India. Available for pre-order at

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Sudden Lack of Knowledge to the Heart

Sitting here doing lots of schoolwork; trying to figure out the true character of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This is not easy.

It came back to me again that I never knew my maternal grandfather. I only barely knew my maternal grandmother; I was too young to even realize what was happening when she passed on.

And even though both my paternal grandparents were still around up to my sophomore year in college, I never made a coordinated effort to sit them down and learn everything that I could. I did it passively, not actively.

So there are for sure two whole datasets and two partial datasets that are completely absent from my processing capacity. I'm not too pleased about this. I suppose I'll have to invent some sort of machine to fix this problem, eh?

Tinker, tinker, tinker.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I recently received a text late one evening from a friend in Chicago. She mentioned a terrible headache and the fear that accompanied it. We talked about headaches, checklisting the various alternative therapies that could possibly relieve some of the pain. I made a passing remark about driving her to the hospital if she really needed it.

Note: We are 914 miles apart (I Google-mapped it) and I don't have a car out here in Denver.

It brought to mind other times when I've made such offers. When I lived in the suburbs, saying something like that was merely unreasonable. Now it's impossible. I feel strangely disconnected from all those people and places back in Illinois. The nature of my existence is such that I really only recognize the sheer physical distance between me and there, but it is still a very wide gulf. These people are a mere phone call away, and with Facebook and Myspace, I'm never really disconnected.

I talk to friends back at Aurora, and they recount the occasional banal details of college life. I know that people still climb the stairs in Eckhart Hall. I know that they still travel north (the term is "head up Randall") to shop. All of this occurs, as it did before, as it will in the future, without me there.

As Tony Prima would say, "Life goes on without me."

Keep going, life.