Archive for May, 2013



Here is another new poem! Even though it is no longer NaPoWriMo!


Bright sunshine and cool air,
Full belly.
One misstep on the curb
And that punch in the face
From the grill of a parked car
Is a gentle reminder
Of perfection.

It wasn’t actually the grill, since these shiny modern cars don’t actually have grills, but it was that general area of the car.

A rare picture of me with (even rarer) bodily injuries! (I was going to post a thumbnail of it here, but owch.)

This was on the way home, where, just to add to the airline excitement, my original plane was canceled and replaced with another one at 6:05am the next day, so I got to spend an unexpected extra night in a (different) hotel, and had plenty of time on the way there to slip in a parking lot after a nice lunch and bash my face against things!

That flight was then, at like 11pm the night before when I was already asleep, rescheduled to 8:10am instead.

I fell asleep immediately upon getting home when I finally did. :)

Adventures everywhere!


More things which have occurred over time

(From the lack of international fame after the giant rubber duck joke, I suspect it may have been a bit obscure. Axoim of Choice? Banach-Tarski Paradox? Giant duck? Maybe you had to be there. Although I wasn’t.)

Lesson about Boarding Passes

Normally it takes about an hour to get from home to LGA. I left myself two and a half hours to get there on Sunday.

It was raining, and everyone was driving slowly, and there were a whole lot of everyones. And then somewhere on the ubiquitous Bronx River Sprain Brook Cross County Parkway everyone came to a complete stop for at least half an hour, for no apparent reason.

I had good luck with the airport and parking and stuff, though, and I had probably twenty minutes to get to the plane from the terminal door. Passing security on the way to the devices that give you boarding passes, I saw that security was pretty much idle, which gave me hope.

There are many pictures of capybaras on the Web; this is one of them.The device told me that the time-window for it to give me a boarding pass had closed, and I would have to talk to a ticket agent. The nearest official-looking person waved me toward three counters each with one agent in back and one customer in front, and no line, and I figured that would not be too bad.

Ten or fifteen minutes later one of the three customers finally finished their complex transaction involving purchasing airline tickets using Peruvian stock-market derivatives or whatever, and slowly wandered off. The person behind the counter punched buttons on their console for a long minute, and told me that the time-window for getting a boarding pass had expired. And there were no more flights to my destination that day. I said, perhaps rather testily, that I could probably still make this flight if she would just give me a boarding pass. “It isn’t giving me one,” she said, and uninterestedly handed me back my documents.


(So here is a rule: even though it seems weird, always either print out your boarding pass before leaving home, or cause one to exist electronically on some device, rather than depending on the usually-but-not-always-friendly kiosks.)

Also I am now rather baffled about the threat model, or other constraint, that is behind the thirty-minute time-window in which boarding passes are not handed out, even when one is standing right there with one’s government-issued photo-id and all.

Plan B

American Express Travel Services kept me on hold for some time, but my cellphone battery did not quite run out, and when they answered the person was quick and helpful and clued, as usual. At first she said there didn’t seem to be any flights anywhere that would get me there that night, but then oh wait here is one that has just opened up, I’ll grab it for you. It has a stop in Chicago. Ick, but better than being stranded entire. Oh, and these seats are free first class upgrades. Well, okay!

I still needed a boarding pass, and the flight to Chicago was already less than half an hour in the future.

The kiosk device again regretted that the time window in which it could give me a boarding pass had closed. I moaned softly to myself, walked boldly up to a ticket agent in a red jacket who didn’t seem to be strictly-speaking open for business, but he nodded and punched some buttons and gave me a boarding pass (maybe if I’d just snuck over to him the first time, I would have gotten that first flight).

Security was still idle and I went through pretty quickly (although the guy on the carry-on scanner did wonder in a leisurely way what that was in my bag; a computer power adapter, I said, and he didn’t say anything, and let me take the bag and proceed).

Flight to Chicago was just boarding, and my First Class ticket let me slip right in between the Zone 1 and Zone 2 people. The flight proper was very nice, wide first-class seat, not-bad food, frequent offers of water and even a hot face-towel.

In Chicago, there was a reasonable amount of time to my next flight, and while many of the outgoing flights out into tornado country were being delayed, mine wasn’t. The flight that was supposed to leave from the same gate a bit before mine slipped slowly later in time, and eventually pushed into mine, and we got a gate-change and were sent into a little basement with gates in it.

At what should have been boarding time, it turned out that we had an airplane, but the crew to fly it was still an hour away, since they were coming in from tornado country, and everything out there was naturally all messed up. An hour or so later, though, they did show up, and while first class on this leg wasn’t nearly as nice (a tiny plane is still a tiny plane), it was still first class.

So anyway, I got into the hotel around 2 or 3 am (I’m a little unclear on the actual time, especially considering timezones). And gave a day of Educational Presentations on four hours’ sleep yesterday. Apparently I was quite coherent, although I don’t remember much about it.


Highly recommended for popcorn and burgers and ambiance in Rochester, Minnesota (United States of America, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, the Mind of God) is Newt’s. And for having the energy and mental acuity to find Newt’s and eat food after presenting a day of modules on four hours’ sleep, highly recommended is a nice nap.

Also, Rochester, Minnesota is apparently a bastion of honesty and virtue. Getting my bags out of the car in a semi-coherent before-nap state on Monday afternoon, I left the rental car keys dangling out of the trunk lock. This morning, in the parking garage, feeling all my pockets in a bit of a panic due to a lack of rental-car keys, I looked down the line of cars toward mine, and there they were still dangling from the lock.

I said a heartfelt silent prayer to the Goddess (wow, that page is hard to read, isn’t it?) and the good citizens and residents of Rochester.

So that is all that! And I now have an app for electronic boarding passes, at least for American Airlines, on my i-Pad. As well as a bunch of Atari video games! Naturally…

Also I am just about finished reading Charlotte Joko Beck’s “Everyday Zen: Love and Work”; it is interesting in various ways, and perhaps someday I will post about it here.


Empirical Evidence for the Axiom of Choice!

Banach-Tarski Duck

(original photo)



Greenish and Fibrous - first hit on Google ImagesBack in the day we would regularly post fun things that came in the mail in spam (some of them even featured in the 2004 NaNoWriMo novel, including as the source for the title, come to think of it).

Lately either the quality of the spam has been going down, the quality of the spam filters has been going up (I think that’s mostly it; gmail is darn good), or I’ve just gotten a bit jaded (probably part of it also), but we got a good one today (boy howdy!).

The subject is “Show this to your girlfriend so she knows how to make you exxxcited” (except that there are various blanks and letters from random obscure bits of the Unicode space scattered about, presumably to defeat spam filters), and the content is delightful:

We clenched. More stunned than stagnant, we stood greenish and fibrous.

He guessed every dismay, and did not reckon it hazy to outlive merely in his memory theorem he would look.

Isn’t that noteworthy?

(Where I’ve put the ellipsis, there are some more odd symbols that appear to have no function or content, but you never know.)

This is good spam both because of the wonderful imagery (and note that there are currently no hits in Google on “we stood greenish and fibrous”, in quotes and all (although there will be one shortly)), and because it appears to be totally beneficent and selfless; there is no phishing URL to click on, no embedded iframe trying to phone home to some spammer to confirm my address exists, no nothing.

Just them standing, clenching, more stunned than stangant, greenish, and fibrous. He guessed every dismay!

Oh, and it’s from one Orlando Albrecht.

Thanks, Orlando!


Stuff Which I Do

I write poems! Very rarely! Except lately. I am telling myself maybe I will make a PDF book of those 30. Maybe even make an eBook out of them! Get an ISBN number! Put it on Amazon! But probably I will be too distracted. :)

I do Second Life! Which is to say, I build things and write scripts and go listen to live music and poetry, and dance and fly and explore and decorate and just sort of lie about. I even have a whole nother (secret) weblog about this activity. I think virtual worlds are likely to eventually become Extremely Significant, but until then and even if not, they are (Second Life is) incredibly fun.

I do World of Warcraft. My main is Spennix (some flickr pictures, web profile), a gnome rogue, currently level 90, ilevel 477, working vaguely on Isle of Thunder dailies and various achievements and pickup raids and stuff, but mostly just sitting around feeling heroic. :) See also Spennatrix, my Night Elf Priest healer, and Spaenorus the spacegoat Paladin Tank, both still leveling when I get around to it, which isn’t all that often. And a bunch of other characters that get played even less often.

I play WoW when I am feeling too antisocial to go into SL, generally. :)

I read books! And I used to occasionally write them up for my website or Amazon. I don’t do that very much anymore ’cause of all the other things I do. Also I think the homegrown Content Management System behind the former is broken. Amazon still works, though!

Some of the books that I read now are on my iPad. And I think I don’t read as many as I used to; I don’t have much patience with things that aren’t interactive. Still love them, though.

I play Real Racing 3. Vroom vroom! It is fun! I have like 9 or 10 cars now!

I no longer play (what was that called?) Eternity Warriors 2, because it got boring. And also wanted me to spend money all the time, as previously noted.

I no longer play Diablo III either. I’d forgotten entirely about it, actually, until I started writing this here weblog entry describing stuff which I do.

I make system software for supercomputers! Or I lead a team that does that. Not the inside parts that make the computers super, so much, as the outside parts that adjust the cooling flow and make sure that they don’t blow the circuit breakers, and dispatches the jobs in the right order. Still, it’s interesting. And I get to program (sometimes). And I get paid for it!

I write novels! In a month! Or at least I have a few times. The last time I tried I sort of tailed off and didn’t finish. Some of the earlier ones I like quite a bit though!

I bake bread, again not often enough. Let’s see, here’s a recipe. You can make that, too!

I sit. Sit in order to liberate all creatures, while realizing that there is no liberation and no creatures. Sit zazen. Maybe even shikantaza. Or just sitting.

I hike. Ha ha, no I don’t! Too busy typing on keyboards. But I did, now and then, years ago. And it’s still part of my self-image. Which is interesting. But I should really do it again sometime. Up Turkey Mountain, or down in the Glens.

I watch old Buffy episodes! Although since I’ve just ended Season 5, so Buffy is dead at the moment, and although I am sort of looking forward to seeing Dark Willow, Season 6 sounds kind of intense, so I’m not doing that at the moment.

I watch old Firefly episodes! Although since there are so few of them I’m doing it very slowly, so as not to run out. Firefly is very cool.

I watch old Babylon 5 episodes! Haha I’d forgotten all about this one, too. I have these on DVD (Buffy and Firefly are on Netflix streaming). I’ve watched up to, let’s see, Season 4 Episode 8 or so, when the Big Cosmic War Question has been revealed and resolved by Sheridan telling all the Big Cosmic Forces to bugger off, and now it’s going to be more about mere human politics, so I sort of stopped there and haven’t watched the next one for probably years now. How the time speeds by!

I sort mail. Lots of mail! Gad, look at all this mail! Piles of paper publications that want me to read them (I need to figure out how to transform at least the New York Times Book Review to iPad form; then I might get around to reading through it now and then). Piles of appeals for money (one year we organized them all and picked a set to give a certain amount to every month and resolved to throw all the rest away instantly, and then never actually did that, mostly my fault). Piles of ads and coupons and catalogs and things (and that’s after immediately recycling 90% of them). And then piles of “other” and strange things and things that I ought to do something about, someday, maybe.

Thanks to M for taking care of the actual bills that come in the mail. :)

What else do I do? I often have a bagel for breakfast. I try to go to the gym and pretend to walk or bicycle, and lift heavy things, about three times a week, and sometimes actually do that. I sleep! Not enough. I like sleeping! But I like other things too. I eat all sorts of things; chocolate is good. I take various medicines in the morning, including an SNRI, a multivitamin, fish oil, Crestor (although I suspect it’s evil) and something or other else. Often at work I go down to the little “Grab and Go” or whatever it’s called next to the real cafeteria, and bring food back to my office to eat while working (and work while eating).

Anyway, that’s what I recall tonight! :) Now for some of the sleeping stuff…


NaPoWriMo 30


A stone
A smell
Light through a window
A half-heard phrase
One line of a poem
opening some long-neglected vista in memory

We are so often surprised by bliss.

What could be sweeter?