Posted by toadstar on 4:23 PM

November in Houston:

The high today is eighty-seven degrees. The leaves are still green on the trees. Flowers are blooming. Yesterday I went outside to read on my lunch break and spent most of the time, not reading, but shooing away a mosquito.

This weekend we spent some time shopping and/or taking Lucas to the store and keeping him occupied so that mommy could clean the house, and Christmas is in full effect. It seems so wrong to wander through aisle after aisle filled full of snowmen (and snowwomen), trees covered in snow, cards of snow, signs that say “Let it Snow!” in my shorts and t-shirt.

December thirteenth will mark my fifteenth year here and I don’t think that I’m any closer to letting go of Colorado. It’s not that I regret moving here, I got some really great things out of it, up to and including my wife and kids, but for some reason my brain is wired for things the way that they were when I was a kid.



(photo © Michael Jastremski for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike)

October was my favorite month. The aspens would start to turn gold; everywhere you looked was a cornucopia of colour. Reds, yellows, greens and oranges. Everything looked so alive, so vibrant. The evening light always seemed to have so much more weight like it was a physical, tangible object.

As October dragged on the temperature would slowly start to fall, the cold bite of the morning air would let you that you were alive. Usually about the time Halloween rolled around the first snow of the season was happening. I don’t know how may Halloweens were spent freezing or were just canceled due to the weather. I remember one of our neighbors made the most amazing airplane costume. It was made out of wood, cardboard and papier-mâché. There was a hole in the middle and he attached to his son with suspenders. He never got to wear it.


(photo © Neal Singleton for openphoto.net CC:PublicDomain)

Christmas didn’t start until Santa made his official first appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now he shows up around August. August! That’s what five months. Almost half a year devoted to one day.

We are oversaturated with Christmas; it’s gotten to the point where our entire economy depends on one holiday. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 460 billion dollars is spent by consumers.

All the good toys, games, movies, and CD’s come out in December. If you go to a Best Buy in the middle of June or July you will notice empty shelf after empty shelf. A couple of years ago I spent the better part of that year looking for any album by Bardo Pond. I never found one. A week before Christmas, my wife walks into Best Buy and finds that and a whole bunch of other CD’s that I had been looking for.

And yes I know that I could have gone online and ordered it at any time, but to me it was more that just the CD, it was the journey. Going out with my friends and spending most of the day just looking, searching for that one must have disc. Each disc is a memory, a snapshot of a day spent with some of the greatest friends a guy could ask for and later the greatest girlfriend and then wife a guy could ask for.

Once my wife, then girlfriend, went to Holland to visit my family. On the way back we had a layover in London’s Heathrow airport. I remember having a hell of a time trying to find a place to smoke a cigarette (I have since quit, thank you very much). After getting yelled at for attempting to light up outside the building and told to go to a smoking lounge-something I though existed only in old movies, I had my cigarette and then wondered off to find my then girlfriend. She was sitting in the shopping area, so we decided to have a look around now that my urge to slowly kill myself with nicotine and other various and sundry toxins had been abated. We found a small CD shop and went in and had a look around. So whilst there I found and bought Ian Brown’s first two solo albums and the second from Embrace, so now I equate those albums with spending time with my then girlfriend in a strange and distant land.

Now it’s harder to gain these kinds of memories. All the little independent record stores are closing up shop and the big chains are only fully stocked at Christmas time. By then I’m a) broke b) spending what little money I have on other people and c) not really in the position to by anything for myself because all these albums are on my wishlists. And yes I do get the joy and shared memories of opening them at Christmas, but for the rest of the year I am cheated out of those memories that I hold so dear. Of course now I’m more likely to spend what little extra cash I have on books, the whole music buying, being treated like a criminal, being forced to by locked products, as well as the whole Christmasafication of it all has soured me on buying music.

All of this adds up to the Christmas blues. It’s hot outside, I just stepped out of my car and my retinas are being fried because of the summer sun reflecting off of the pavement and as I walk into the local Wal-Mart I am bombarded with images of snow and winter and of the kind of Christmas’s I had as a child and it saddens me. I want to take my kids up to the mountains and cut down a real Christmas tree, I want to build the same kinds of traditions with them that I had when I was young. I want them to experience magic and not the insanity that this holiday has become. I want it to be pure and wonderful just like they are.

Posted by toadstar on 4:38 PM

“The Problem for Artists Isn’t Piracy, It’s Obscurity”

I live in obscurity. I work twelve hours a day, twelve hours away from my family, twelve hours away from my writing for near poverty wages. I have all these ideas for stories and no time to create them. I’m trapped in obscurity, and I’m about to loose my house. I need to break free. So I have decided to put one of my short stories online and see if anything happens. Maybe nothing, maybe something, who knows.

The story is one that I had written for the Machine of Death Anthology. The concept of the anthology is that there is a machine that can, with just a drop of blood, tell you how it is you will die. The problem is that the machine is rather vague in it's predictions. This is the story that I came up with, sadly it was not chosen, but I have been working on it for the past couple of weeks and I think that I now have a better story than the one that I submitted.

It's a love story about a young man who, when he lest expects it, finds true love and how the changes in society and the ghosts of his past affect that relationship. There were some scenes that were kind of difficult to write and took a lot out of me, but I think that in the end it was worth it. I hope that you all enjoy it.

The story can be found here in a variety of different formats and even an audio version (I'm not sure of the quality of that, but if enough people are interested I think that I can be persuaded to do a podcast of the story). Thank you very much for your time and feel free to leave any feedback in the comment section.

The house was dark; they had only the moon and the streetlight out front to guide them through the dark and empty house. They settled in the living room amongst the shadows and dust motes. They sat in awkward silence for a couple of minutes, while Jen and Sarah kept pm’ing each other, leaving Thom and Bran in the dark. Suddenly Jen suggested that they should play truth or dare. Everyone thought that it would be a good idea, everyone but Bran. They went ahead and started. Jen went first. She chose Bran and he asked for a truth.

“How are you going to die, Bran,” she asked.

Update: Sorry I had a problem uploading the files to scribd-it should be working now.

Posted by toadstar on 4:48 PM

Welcome to the World Logan:

Logan James was born on September the tenth at 5:44pm

He came in at a whopping 9 pounds 6 ounces and was 21 inches long with a 14 and a half inch head.

Heidi's labor began the day before at about nine pm. She was on the phone with her sister when her water broke. She spent most of the night relaxing and soaking in the bathtub. In fact she spent most of the day in the tub as well. She only pushed for about 15 minutes and I had the pleasure of catching my son. It was a most amazing experience. When he came through the birth canal his little hand was balled up in a little fist on his cheek then just shot that little arm up like he was superman after that his body just began to corkscrew all on it's own and before I knew it I was holding him. Within minutes he was nursing like a champ.

Posted by toadstar on 5:39 PM

LOLLucas:

Just feeling goofy and jumping on a meme.

Posted by toadstar on 5:41 PM

Pictures Of My Boy:

I took these pictures by placing the camera on the ground and just kind of shooting blindly. I like the way that they came out, especially the one below. They both have a kind of Shift-Tilt Effect going on which I rather like. Also the two of them make a nice diptych in the first one it shows him getting bigger and more independent, walking away from his daddy. The second one has him looking back and holding on to the pole like he's looking back at me to keep him grounded.

Ever since Lucas was born I have enjoyed taking pictures of him that emphasize his smallness. It's amazing how he can look both so small and so big in the blink of an eye. I'll watch him nurse and see how his body covers most of mommy and he looks so big and then in the next second I'll see him standing next to the table and marvel at how small he is. I guess that in the next couple of blinks he'll be grown and I'll wonder how he was ever so small.

Posted by toadstar on 5:20 PM
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I Wanna Hold Your Hand:

Lucas has come a long way since Christmas. I remember him seeing Heidi hold his new cousin for the first time. He just stopped what he was doing, looked at his momma and turned around and walked off, as if to say "I am not dealing with this, when I get back, that baby had better be out of your arms."

Needless to say, when we found out the next day that Heidi was pregnant, we were worried about how Lucas would handle another baby around the house.

Then Heidi's sister gave birth to twin girls, and Lucas was excited about it. He loves to touch them and kiss them and hug them. He was even okay with them sharing Heidi's lap.

To see him being sweet to his cousins, holding their little hands (see above) and seeing him patting momma's growing tummy, calling out to his brother and trying to share with him (apparently Logan can see through Heidi's belly button) makes me a whole lot less worried about this baby. I think that Lucas will be a good big brother.

Posted by toadstar on 4:26 PM

Caution: Some soft drinks may seriously harm your health:

I just found this article over at The Independent. Which at first made me say to myself, OMGWTFWEREALLGOINGTODIE!!1!! Then I noticed phrases like "Research from a British university suggests a common preservative found in drinks such as Fanta and Pepsi Max has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA." Which British university? And"...when mixed with the additive vitamin C in soft drinks, it causes benzene, a carcinogenic substance." First I thought, there's vitamin C in soft drinks?!? Then the thing that really caught my eye was causes, it causes benzene. That doesn't seem right to me, are they saying that vitamin C causes benzene? or are they saying that when vitamin C and sodium benzoate mix then they create benzene? And/or am I looking too much into a simple typo?

Then there was the name of the Professor, one Peter Piper? Really? Yes really. No seriously, I googled him there really is a Professor Peter Piper. Here's his web page.

So then I'm back to my original thought, OMGWTFWEREALLGOINGTODIE!!!1! Then I remembered that I quit drinking soda's about a year ago and thanked my wife for encouraging me to do so (translation: forcefully compelled-just kidding).

Posted by toadstar on 1:17 PM

My Little Ladies Man:

Last night for Mother's Day, Lucas and I went out to dinner with Mommy, Mimi, Papa and some of Heidi's siblings and their kids. We went to this place called Texas Borders. It's basically a bar with a patio and playground added on as an afterthought. Great combination, isn't it. You have the parents ignoring their kids and getting hammered and then you have the Lord of the Flies happening over in the playground.

When we first got there some of the older kids were acting like they were in WWE and not a restaurant, I was kind of worried about Lucas. But soon enough someone had the good sense to tell those kids to take it down a few notches.

I let one of Luke's older cousins take him onto the playground, but I kept a close eye on him and it's a good thing that I did. The playground area is one big square with two different jungle gyms one for toddlers and the other for big kids. The toddler one is offset by a little wooden fence and next to it is a big open sand pit. I looked back and I saw some strange girl helping to hoist my son up onto the platform of the big kids jungle gym. I went over to investigate and to fire his cousin. I got there just in time to see Lucas get on his belly and make to get back down off of the platform that he's on. There is only one problem. The place where he has chosen to exit is a five foot drop to the ground. I managed to get to him just in the nick of time. Thank the maker.

His First Kiss:

Warning the above image belongs to the walt disney corp, I should be half drawn and quartered for using it.

Now here is the part where I get to tell the story of my son's first kiss. Yea my son lived up to the title on his shirt that he was wearing that night: Ladies Man. Since the wee one is only twenty-two months old, I fear that he will not remember this momentous occasion, so I shall write it down so that when he his older he can at least have this.

So we are at the aforementioned bar and grill and dinner has just been served and Lucas would rather play than sit down and eat a meal. So he's been stopping by and eating a bit here and a bite there, then running off and playing. For some reason unknown to me I decided to check on the lad, only to see him standing behind the little wooden fence with his eyes closed and his lips all puckered up. That is when I noticed an older girl standing next to him, she was maybe three years old. She had long brown hair with bangs cut straight across, and brown eyes, she looked a lot like Lilo (hence the image above). She too had her lips pursed and her eyes closed and somehow their lips found each other.

I quickly elbowed my wife in the ribs and told her to look at our little playa. Under the moon and the stars, with a myriad of bugs circling the over head lamp he leaned in and kissed her again.

Then he walked off as if nothing had happened. And he came and he sat down next to us and ate a piece of chicken.

Posted by toadstar on 3:20 PM
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Happy Mother's Day!:

To the mother of my children I just want to say thank you. I know that the past couple of years have been hard, but we have made it through it stronger than ever. You are a sweet caring loving Mother and you put Luke's needs ahead of your own, and I know that you will do the same for Logan. You love my boys so much and you take such good care of them, I just want to thank you so much for helping to raise such a wonderful boy. You are the greatest! Happy Mother's Day! I Love You Sweetie!

Posted by toadstar on 10:55 PM

Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man:

I turned 33 today. As a nice little blast from the past, my cousin Cissy sent me this picture. I think that it was taken in Marken and I was maybe 4 or 5 at the time. I asked my mother and she's not sure of the age either. But she did say that I had gotten upset and I walked outside. I wasn't allowed to go outside, because the outfit was rented, but hey, it got us this cute picture. The strangest thing is how much of Lucas I see in that picture. There were a couple of times where I just glanced at it and I swear I thought that it was Lucas. That's one of the strange things about being a parent, you see so much of yourself in your child (or at least I do), and you see in him all the potential that you had and you hope that he ends up using that potential and becoming a better person than you are.

Posted by toadstar on 1:13 PM

Finished!:

After taking way to long, I finally finished my short story for the Machine of Death anthology. It was an interesting journey. There were some scenes that were kind of hard to write from an emotional standpoint, so I was rather apprehensive going into them, so much so that I had found myself staring at the computer screen. But when I started to write them, the characters came through and started writing it themselves. I was like Neil Gaiman and Stephen King say, your just along for the ride and your just as anxious to see where there going as the audience is (at least I think that they have both said something along those lines). My beautiful wife and wonderful editor said that I write good dialog, which made me feel good about it. I also made her mist up, which made me immensely proud.

Hopefully I will hear something between now and June 15 and I will post the news when/if it comes in. Then I will post the where, when and how it will be found. And if worse comes to worse I'll just post it here. I am beyond tired right now. It took me forever to write, I finally finished it last Saturday, then Heidi and I finished editing it last night. I managed to email it in an hour before the deadline. Procrastinate? Me? Never.

Posted by toadstar on 1:58 PM
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Baby Update:

We finally went ahead and got the ultrasound. We had been waiting for Medicad to approve Heidi, but we just couldn't wait any longer so we just went ahead and had it done. So it's a boy and he's healthy, he has ten fingers and ten toes and while we were watching him, we saw him take a drink and then stick out his tongue. He has long skinny arms and legs, so we're thinking that this might be our little Dutch boy.

My Boys, that sounds so cool. Now I can do like my father would do whenever one of us (me or my brother) would get into trouble, he would just yell-BOOOYS!! and one would stop and the other would say with great indignity-I didn't do anything! So now I get to drive my kids crazy like that. No really I wouldn't do that to my boys. Okay not too often, I promise.

So far I think that we have settled on the name Logan James, so yea we're going to be one of those families with the kids with the same first letter and stuff. My cousins were named Kristy, Kourtney, and Kerry. It drove me crazy, I could never keep their names straight. I use to say that I would NEVER do that, but here I go. Besides, Logan just feels right. It was like with Lucas, I knew that I liked the name, I just couldn't sell Heidi on it. She liked it alright, but we couldn't find a middle name to clinch the deal. We tried everything. Then one day I was thinking of my friend Brian and I remembered his middle name was Alexander and I thought, Lucas Alexander, wow, I really like that. So I called Heidi and told her and then she just knew-Lucas Alexander was just meant to be his name. So I'm guessing the same will hold true for Logan, although I wouldn't put it past us to change it again....

Anyroads, I was just popping up to share the good news, but I have a story to attempt to finish. Wish me luck.

Spring Is Springing Up All Over The Place:


Story:
It's been an interesting week so far. I wasn't able to finish my short story by the 31st, but I still have until the end of this month to get it done. I was hoping to finish early and have plenty of time to edit and have it looked over before turning it in. It's been a hard story to write so far, I keep on thinking of new ways to make it better and end up having to rewrite entire sections of it. The hardest part so far has been writing in the third person, especially since some of it is based on true life events so I keep on going back and reading what it is I wrote only to find pronoun problems, I for he, etc. I hope it will turn out okay in the end though.

Flood:
Monday morning I came in to work to find out that a pipe under the bathroom sink had gone boom and flooded my department and the department next to us. There was a good inch to inch and a half of water. So most of the day was spent bailing out water and cleaning up. The rest of my department left early, but I stayed late because I desperately need the hours.

Upper management spent most of the day trying to figure out who was going to pay to clean up the mess so nothing was done about the wet carpet until Tuesday, which means that my office is now a complete and total stink-a-rama. The solution that they came up with to clean the wet carpet was to hire a wet carpet cleaner, so now the carpet smells like mold and chemicals, which is doing wonders for my head, not to mention the fact that the have these uber floor fans that loud as a boing 747. Thank the maker I'm off tomorrow, my head can't take anymore of this.

My Boy:
It's amazing to watch my son grow. And he's growing so fast I can hardly believe it. Things that he couldn't do a week ago, he now does with ease. A week ago he had to crawl up over the curb onto the sidewalk, and just the other day he just put his little foot up and stepped right on up to that sidewalk like he'd been doing it all his life.

I watch Lucas getting bigger and bigger and I want to just put my hands on top of his head and tell him to stop growing so fast just like my sister-in-law said that I would. Don't get me wrong I love watching him grow up, and I'm excited to share each day with him, but I feel like I just watched him be born and in the blink of an eye, he's a toddler, a few more blinks and he'll be grown. I just want to enjoy these days before they are gone.

I love these little hands, how they explore the world, the gentle way in which he uses them. Ever since he was born, his hands have always been so expressive. Now that he's older we have been teaching him sign language, little things like milk, water, Mommy, Daddy, more, sleep. We've taught him how to sign the names of animals and trees, cars and trucks, and he uses the sign pretty much until he can say it, or comes up with a way to say it. Duck is now quack quack! I've always wondered what his voice would sound like, but I'm afraid that I'll miss the gentle way that he puts his index fingers and thumbs together to tell me that he wants more. I'll miss the careful way he moves his wrist to tell me that he wants to play. But I do love his voice, it's everything that my voice lacks.

Gift:
by Czeslaw Milosz.
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over huneysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.
-Berkley, 1971

Human Computer Interaction in Sci-Fi Movies.
Here's an interesting article about human computer interaction in Science Fiction movies. I've been wanting to write about computing and human interaction lately, but I haven't had the time. Hopefully I'll have a little time this weekend and devote a post to that, so in the mean time I'll give you that article to wet your whistle.

A Quick Bit of Good News:
"After a record seven and a half months behind bars, San Francisco video blogger Josh Wolf has been released. Wolf walked out of a federal prison in Dublin, California Tuesday after prosecutors dropped a key demand that had made him the longest-jailed journalist for protecting a source in US history. Wolf was jailed on August 1st of last year when he refused to turn over video that he had shot of an anti-G8 demonstration in San Francisco."

Cherie Priest:
I just finished reading 'Four and Twenty Blackbirds' by Cherie Priest and I must say I was impressed. I first found her a couple of weeks ago on John Scalzi's Whatever blog, and I started to read the first part of her new book 'Dreadful Skin' on the Subterranean Press site, after about a page I was hooked, so of course I have to read all of her stuff now, so I started at the beginning, with Four and Twenty. There was something instantly familiar about the narrator
, I felt as knew her, in fact she reminded me of my friend Brandi. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

The above picture was taken using my advanced new photo taking method. Step one, set your camera on timer, a two second delay is good. Step two, press the shutter button, wait a second, then throw the camera into the air. Step three, and the most important step, catch the camera. Step four, provided you didn't drop your camera, admire your new picture.

I got the idea from this website and thought that it might be kind of fun, so I gave it a whirl, and I think I like the way that it turned out there is a movement to it that's just dizzying.

I take no responsibility for you attempting this form of extreme photography and breaking your camera, your on your own with this. If you do try it though, I'd be interested to see the results.

Posted by toadstar on 3:59 PM

Apparently He Gets This From His Father:

Last Saturday Lucas and Heidi were invited to a birthday party. I stayed home and tried to clean up the house a bit. I turned on the TV for company, and I ended up watching ALIAS. Alias is one of those shows that popped in under my radar and by the time that I heard of it, it had been going for a while, so I never really got into it. But Saturday it was on the telly, so I figured that I'd check it out for a minute or two.
There was this scene that took place in a lot in Burbank, I mean Berlin, and not a lot, but a club and like all clubs in Berlin it was a goth-industrial club, because really, that's what all of Berlin's youth are, industrial goths. Well at least that's what the tv writers would lead you to believe. Any roads, the first few minutes of the scene is spent people watching, before Ms. Sydney Bristow makes her entrance. The people watching is great, a sea of kool-aid colored hair, piercings in every visible hole, menacing looks, and wall to wall PVC and leather, all of it black. And of course it had to have heavy industrial music, blaring in the background, because what scene of Berlin is complete without industrial music, from what sounded like a bad rip off of Rammstein.
The other day when I told Heidi about this she didn't seem to recognize the name Rammstein, so I went to youtube and started playing Du Hast to give her a taste and as soon as the guitar kicks in-with a rif that would make Beavis and Butthead throw up the goat, squee with delight and start furiously banging their heads and yelling that Rammstein kick ass-I see my son start bobbing his head to the music, squee with delight and start jumping up and down, like it's the greatest thing he's ever heard.
I wonder where he get that kind of behavior from.......

Posted by toadstar on 3:26 PM

Writing:
I seem to have misplaced my internet connection this weekend, which turned out to be a good thing because I actually ended up working on my short story for the Machine of Death Collection of Short Stories. Early submissions are due on the 31st, which I was hoping to make and I think that I may have the story finished by then, I just don't know if I can have it edited by then. Tonight my wife and son are off to their monthly La Leche League meeting, so I can sit and type until my fingers turn blue.

Link dump:
Here is an interesting article by Jonathan Lethem. I like his ideas regarding Creative Commons Licenses.

I've been following this new clockpunk movement over at Da Vinci Automata. They are toying with the idea of an anthology here is the first submission On Deep History by Jim Rossignol.

Ernest Hemingway once said his best work was a story he wrote in just six words: 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.' These six words have sparked a meme with this two articles here and here. Here are some of my favorites:

Internet “wakes up?” Ridicu -
no carrier.
- Charles Stross

It cost too much, staying human.
- Bruce Sterling

I’m dead. I’ve missed you. Kiss … ?
- Neil Gaiman

The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.
- Orson Scott Card

The last one goes nicely with this bit of news.



Posted by toadstar on 4:26 PM

Random Thoughts and Links:
As kind of an afterthought to yesterdays post, I found this article about creating your own universe:

Also, the baby universe has its own space-time and, as this inflates, the pressure from the true vacuum outside its walls continues to constrain it. As these forces compete, the growing baby universe is forced to bubble out from our space-time until its only connection to us is through a narrow space-time tunnel called a wormhole [...].

Sitting inside the monopole, you would see space expanding in every direction
In the end, space-time becomes so distorted that even this umbilical cord is severed. The baby universe's space-time is left entirely divorced from our own.
____________



NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day

I saw this picture of John Edwards this morning and I was reminded of the roll that the media can play in an election. How a candidate is portrayed in the media can make or break an election. I remember in 1992 when Clinton ran against H.W. Bush there on the front page of the Denver Post, were the two candidates the top picture showed Clinton, he was smiling, giving the thumbs up and standing in front of cherry trees blossoming in the early spring. Then I looked down at bush, the picture was half the size of Clinton's and he had a look on his face that made him look as though he were about to throw up (and no it wasn't a picture from the famous Japan incident). I knew right then who was going to win the election.

Now look at the above image. Edwards is standing there, looking like a real human being, and next to him is the coup de grace, the road sign. How is this a coup de grace you may ask? The message, road work ahead, that is precisely what will lie ahead, should he win.

Later on in the day I was reading this article about how the FBI may have violated the law or government policies as many as 3,000 times since 2003 as agents secretly collected the telephone, bank and credit card records of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals residing here. When I just happened to glance at the sidebar and I read: "Today In Slate: Why Obama is like a serial killer" so I had to click on that and I found this article, which I'm sorry, I think is a bit ridiculous. Yes when you find out that your neighbour is some kind of serial killer or that someone that you grew up with is running for president, it's going to change the way that you think about them. Your brain is going to take this information and process it with the old information and then look for patterns, but I don't think that a presidential candidate and a serial killer are that much alike-well most at least. More importantly, it feeds into the whole perception thing. They are portraying Obama as something he isn't and purposefully or not affecting the potential outcome.

___________

Finally I just wanted to comment on the potential showdown between Congress and President Bush over authorizing subpoenas for White House political adviser Karl Rove and other top aides involved in the firing of federal prosecutors.

Democrats angrily rejected Bush's offer to grant a limited number of lawmakers private interviews with the aides with no transcript and without swearing them in.

What would be the point otherwise?
Congressman: Yesterday during our closed door meeting with Carl Rove he confessed to ordering the firings of federal prosecutors...
Rove: No I didn't.
Congressman: Yes you did.
Rove: No
Congressman: Yes, yes, yes.
Rove: Do you have a transcript? Or perhaps sworn testimony?
Congressman: No....
Rove: Then no I didn't.

I can see why the democrats don't want that.

What if uhh... C-A-T, really spelled dog?:

From an interview with novelist Zadie Smith on KCRW's Bookworm program:

"But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, 'I should sit here and I should be entertained.' And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true."

I would add that talented writers begin as talent readers, though I've scarcely heard it remarked upon.

The two activities are not only fundamentally similar, they're the necessary halves of a single human activity.

The reader completes the arc.

If there is no reader, there is no text.

I never really gave this that much thought, what is the model of a reader? I read a lot, in fact I'm rarely without a book nearby, so do I read as I were watching a movie? Do I read more like a pianist playing a piece of music? Today I kind of found out which one it is.

I was sitting outside, under the tree again, inhaling massive amounts of pollen (something I'm beginning to regret currently), and still trying to finish my book (I had hoped to finish last night, but time slipped past me). Suddenly I found myself in the zone, so to speak. I was rushing along reading as fast as I could, not because I wanted to be finished, but because I wanted to know what happens, how does this all tie together? My eyes drank in each word like they were nectar.
"Kearney fell to his knees and pushed his face into the beach, where he perceived with clarity and suddenness not just the individual grains of wet sand but the shapes between them. They looked so distinct and detailed that he did, briefly, feel like a child again. He wept for the sheer loss of this: the loss of himself."

I read these words, and as I did another part of my brain started to think of infinite smallness and how to something almost microscopic, looking up from a grain of wet sand, it could look like an entire universe, spanning to infinity. We would only see a beach spanning from point A to point B. Reality is perception.

I sit up, straighten my back, and lean into the book like I'm trying to fall into and become the book just as Seria Mau Genlicher was her spaceship, the White Cat, I read on:
"Everywhere you look it unpacks to infinity. What you look for, you find. And you people can have it. All of it."

In my mind I'm microscopic, standing on a grain of wet sand, I see it grow and expand, like a camera in a movie, pulling out further and further. The grains of sand spread out like some sort of explosion, they zoom out then suddenly stop. They are no longer grains of sand, but stars. The universe unpacks to infinity.

I have to wonder though, am I just like the micro-organism? Is the this infinite universe actually a beach? Are we just a smaller part of something greater like at the end of Men in Black?

My lunch ended and I still didn't finish my book (fifteen
pages left!). As I walked back to my office, I remembered the above quote from Zadie Smith and I thought to myself that I was the pianist using M. John Harrison's words as my music and I wondered if I got the notes right.



In Which the Author Walks Into the Room, Turns on the Light, Sweeps Out the Cobwebs, Walks Up To the Mic, Taps Twice, and Says-Hello, Is This Thing Still On?:

Sorry for the dearth of posts here, but life got in the way. The mysterious red lump on Lucas' neck caused him to be hospitalized for a week. I have uploaded some pictures and saved them as Drafts, so as soon as I finish adding witty commentary to them, you will be getting posts from Christmas past.

I have made a few changes around here, most notably I combined my two blogs. I was having a heck of a time keeping the fatherhood posts separate from the rest. Lucas and my on the way child are just too big a part of me to separate out, so I combined them. All the posts from the old blog have been moved over here, so if you look back you can find them.

This afternoon, whilst on my lunch break, I went outside, sat amongst the trees and tried to finish my book. I had just stopped to look up at the tree above me and and watch the wind rustle both the new spring leaves and the old fall leaves, the latter of which would finally find their way loose and flutter to the ground, when I heard a bird singing his song to the wind. It took a while before I found him, he was a little house finch, hard to find amongst the leaves and branches of the tree. I watched him as he flitted from branch to branch, all the while his song became more frantic. I wondered what was wrong with him, was he lost, looking for someone. Instantly an image popped into my head, that he had lost his love, and was franticly looking for her, all the while singing louder and louder, calling out her name. Where are you my love, where are you.
The noise of a lawn mower drowned out the birds song and woke me from my imaginings and I returned to my book. Right as I was getting ready to return to the office, the lawn mower stopped and before I made it back to the door, I heard him sing again, but this time he was not alone, which made me happy.

The above images are some that I created using some of our honeymoon pictures. We drove from Houston to Colorado and then back down through Roswell. These are some of my favorite images that I have created over the past couple of years for some reason they also made me very happy. I guess that I'm just easily happy today.

Posted by toadstar on 12:00 PM

In Which the Author Waxes Philosophically on Comic Books:

When I was a kid, I remember finding an old copy of Tintin. It was an old Dutch version set in the American old west. I was never able to read Dutch, but I remember looking at the pictures and trying to sus out what was happening. I always kept on coming back to that book and since I only had the pictures to guide me, the story was different each time. That's one of the wonderful things about comic books, the way that they work on different levels.
Take for example Can't Get No, by Rick Veitch. The book is one long-form poem, but the images tell another story. One story being totally visual, leaving what was being said entirely up to the reader. Each time you come back to it the story is different, the poem adds more depth and feeling to the story, but could easily be read with out it (although I wouldn't recommend it).
That's one of the things that is so amazing to me about comics, the fact that as a story telling device it has so much potential to tell the whole of the human experience. We are not just visceral creatures, we are visual and intellect and sensual and comic books can explore all of this that makes us so unique.

Posted by toadstar on 10:46 PM
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Winter Comes to Houston:

After several days of, will it or won't it snow we finally got our answer, no. It did, however, rain then the rain froze leaving behind a world that looks like Batman's Mr. Freeze had run amok throughout the city.

It's amazing how much a little ice can change the way that you look at thinks. Little things like the leaves on the bush that I walk past at least twice a day, add a little ice and it looks like a sculpture or something. A simple everyday thing that you take for granted suddenly becomes beautiful.

I'll just shut up now and let the images speak for themselves.








Posted by toadstar on 10:42 PM
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A Little Taste of Winter:

We've actually gotten a bit of a cold spell. Two days ago it was in the seventies and now it's just hovering above freezing. They have been predicting sleet and ice for days now, but so far all we have is cold. I spent the ladder part of my lunch walking around near where I work. I love the way the cold makes your face tingle, it just makes you feel alive.

I remember before I moved down here my friend had stopped by to say goodbye to me. I didn't know when or if I would ever see her again. She came by early in the morning, there was still snow on the ground and the cold was as bitter as our goodbye. She has surprised me with this visit, so I had just walked out in whatever I was wearing. I don't even think that I had socks on.
Today whilst walking through the freezing cold I am reminded of that day, that bittersweet moment when we held each other and said goodbye. It was hard at the time to leave, but looking back on it now it pushed me on the path to where I am now and if I hadn't gone through that I wouldn't have my beautiful wife and son now. I miss Colorado, and the occasional blasts of cold air that we get down remind me of the path that I followed to get to this point, and I wouldn't waiver, not even for an instant if I had to do it over again.

Posted by toadstar on 12:28 PM
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On Trees:

I was off this past Monday for Martin Luther Kings Birthday, so I got to spend the day with my wife and son. We went to a resale shop to get Lucas some more cloth diapers. His recent stint with antibiotics coupled with his new found love of oranges has turned the lad into a bit of a fountain, so we are hoping that he will consent to wear them until his incontinence passes.

On the drive there, Lucas fell asleep in his car seat. I didn't have the heart to wake him, so I let my wife go in while I waited with Lucas in the nice warm car. While in the car I listened to the radio and stared out the window, mostly at these trees. I love looking at the intricate patterns that the branches make against the grey sky. Something about that speaks to me. I also love the phone lines behind them-it gives it this whole man v. nature thing and there is just something about the contrast between the straight geometric patterns of the man made against the free form patterns of nature.

Posted by toadstar on 11:50 AM

Birds and Silliness:

When I was in elementary school one of my teachers would reward us, for attendance, or good grades or whatever with a book. She had a big pile of them and we could pick whichever one we wanted. When it was my turn I excitedly went up to the front of the room and looked at the books. Right away I knew which one I was going to pick, it was a field guide for birds in North America. What little knowledge I have of birds today I gleaned from that book. I'm always looking out the window at the birds in my back yard, this Sunday I glanced outside and saw this cardinal hopping around the back yard. I immediately ran and got my camera and attempted to capture the little guy. Unfortunately I was too far away and had to use the digital zoom, which made the image fuzzy, but for some reason I still like the picture.

A portrait of young Harry shortly after moving to the Dursley's house. He had just gotten his first and only pair of glasses, which, when he was older were held together with tape until he met Hermione Granger and she fixed them for him. My apologizes to Mrs. Rowling for this.

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas

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