Friday, September 18, 2009

When Asked Whether I'd the Chance to Read a River Runs Through It

As many chances as I have had moments;
the real question is have I taken them
or been taken by them
as they hurried on their way.

There's a desperate worry a daytimer holds
which a sun dial never knows.
Maybe no man discerns how his shadow grows
or marks its darkening stroll.

That a river runs through it should be the hope
to the weary unwatered at its brink.
how sad when, taken by the moment's flow,
they fail to stop and drink.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Is this thing on? Testing. Hmmm...Let me see now...Is this thing on?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Views Expressed Here

It was recently brought to my attention that some of the advertising on this blog has not been as understated as one might expect. When I checked back in on the site, I only saw the Obama/Biden ad which I found humorously ironic. But it was not the ad which my friend assured me has been prominently displayed for several days.

He said it was an ad promising introductions to (not double), (not tamale minus the ta) individuals of (neither high nor low) (neither nothern, nor western nor southern) extraction.

If you are wondering about the indirect description above, it is because you are not an algorithm driven ad bot (an ADAB). ADABs never wonder about such things. Specifically, you are not the ADAB which, acting on behalf of one of my relentless commercial promoters, has scoured my site for interesting, unique and marketable terms. So, one must be careful about the breadcrumbs one leaves behind. Consequently, were I to disclaim the ads tempting your clicking finger with sin**e mi*dl* **stern w*me* in explicit terms, I would merely be inviting more of such advertising.

So, if an ad seems a bit too unexpected, know that it is merely an inadvertent bump on the road to profound wealth from blogging. If you don't buy that, I'll spare you the truth which is that a script reviews your (the reader's) browsing history and selects appropriate ads. Feel free to shoot me an email with a description of the objectionable ad and your full name and address.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If Obama Caesar...

Few political speeches or snippets are as memorable as the deceptively provocative words of Antony at Julius Caesar's funeral: "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." But as the Democratic National Convention plows forward, one has to wonder if tonight's address by former President Bill Clinton will echo the party line or Shakespeare's. While the animosity between the Obama and Clinton camps has been entertaining, the party loyal are expecting everyone to behave. Behaving, however, is not one of Wild Bill's long suits. Yesterday's comments on a 'hypothetical' election contest between two candidates eerily similar to Obama and McCain should have the Dems nervous - to say the least.

My prophetic quote for Clinton tonight is as follows:
Friends, lovers and countrymen, I have come to praise Obama, not to bury him...But the more that I think about it...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Do you believe in magic?

Having supper with a few of my fellow dumbs and the conversation turned to the building of the pyramids. It was a detour to our main conversation (which was really just a series of detours in itself). The question was asked about the sort of labor used: slave, craftsmen, paid workers, mid-level project managers, or really, really outsourced labor. I decided to get to the bottom of it by spending six and a half minutes perusing the internets.

Path to Enlightenment in Minutes:

Time on the InternetsProposed ExplanationPlausibility Score
0-2 minutesThe pyramids were built by slaves. 4
2-4 minutesThe pyramids were built by craftsmen and farmers (otherwise idle during the flooding season). 4
4-5 minutesThe pyramids were built by craftsmen, farmers (otherwise idle during the flooding season) and hoards of slaves. 8
5-6 minutes The pyramids were built by aliens.* 99

*Hey, I was a doubter, too. But then I read this post in a “Mixed Martial Arts Forum” from a poster known as “The Tunisian Bullcrap Monkey.” Let’s just say, I didn’t have to read all the way through the list before I was a believer. Here is his post, the annotations (hover like a saucer over the highlit words) are mine.

Were The Pyramids Built By Aliens?

Over the years i have taken a keen intrest in the ancient civilisations of the world. None however so much so as the Egyptians. I am still baffled to this day, at the powerfull corelations the Pyramids present.

I cannot beilive that Human Hands actually made the Pyramids, i have yet to see them close up but many on lookers have been amazed at the precise cutting of each slab.

The Human race before the Egyptians were unparralled to Civilisations after it. It seems the Egyptions had an advance concept way beyond there time. Isnt this strange? Consider these facts.

There is NO record of the Pyramids being built, such wonders would surely have hordes of records attached to it .

The Egyptians had not even invented the wheel yet, but the blocks that they had to carry to build the pyramids weighed about 2 tons each? 4,000 lbs.? What did they do... use cement? In fact, they used so much stone, that if you took all of the stone they used and cut it into 1 foot square blocks, it would extend 2/3 of the way around the earth!!!

the fact that even though the sides of the base of the pyramid are some 757 feet long, it still forms an almost perfect square? Every angle in the base is exactly 90 degrees. In fact, the sides have a difference in length of something like two centimeters, which is an incredibly small amount.

If you take the perimeter of the pyramid and divide it by two times the height, you get a number that is exactly equivalent to the number pi (3.14159...) up to the fifteenth digit. The chances of this phenomenon happening by sheer chance is remarkably small. Did the ancient Egyptians know what the number pi was? Not likely, seeing as it was a number not calculated accurately to the fourth digit until the 6th century, and the pyramids calculate it to the fifteenth.

Fungi found in King Tuts chamber was NEVER found on Earth before.

Chambers found recentlly show Humans offering food to some kind of Extra Terrestrial creature and there are drawings of Cylinder shaped discs.

there is tons more evidence, personally id like to think that some kind of Extra Terrestrial gave us Knowledge in the past, i belive so, but we as humans always try to find a rational answer.

Maybe that answer is in the stars.

I'm sure it is. A Tunisian Bullcrap Monkey said so.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Secret of Winning is Focus

I don't know why I haven't seen this before. I read a press release recently from which I learned that has secured (is anything in cyberspace, or elsewhere for that matter, ever secured?)a 22nd place result ranking for the search term "crappy Chrysler". Actually, as evidence of my unyielding diligence, I ran the search myself. I'm not clear whether VanPanMan's search was for the terms (crappy and chrysler) or the phrase "crappy Chrysler". When I searched the terms I found him in a number 2 and 10 position. When I searched the phrase, it was also at number 2. But things are fluid.

I started wondering what sort of search would lead one of my pithy missives to show up high on the hit parade. Here are my results.

Thematic Searches:
  1. Wittiest Blog - TC'sW didn't appear in the resuts - but I only checked the first 473,280 results.
  2. Handsomest Blogger - Google is an imperfect system...obviously.
Term Searches:
  1. Loon - The results were a cluttered jumble of fowl, idiots, and foul idiots...And the Workshop was not to be seen.
  2. Loon & Obama - The field was too crowded for obvious reasons.
  3. Loon & "Andre the Giant" - Rank 4.
  4. "Andre the Giant" & villanelle - Rank 3. We are getting warmer.
  5. Loon & "Andre the Giant" & villanelle - Rank 1. Nailed it.
As I probed and prodded The Index of Everything, as Google will soon be known, it occurred to me that the secret of winning is focus. Being number one is simply a function of choosing the right measuring stick(s). The Workshop, by nature if not design, is simply to eccentric and erratic to become your one-stop-shop for information on Andre the Giant or French poetic forms or loons. But if you happen to be interested in all three...come on in and pull up a chair. I've got your number.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You're In My Territory

A comment by Ms. Capps to the earlier post Hey, No Pushing included a link to an article connecting car bumper stickers to road rage and territorialism. Apparently, the admonition shown here is not intended as a joke.

Because of deficiencies, which I'm sure are entirely my own, I was unable to follow the link Ms. Capps provided. A presumably similar article is to be found here.

I'm not really surprised. Most of those folk make it pretty clear that they are territorial - if you follow my stream of thought.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hey, No Pushing!

In the Worthy of Mention column is a car I rolled up behind at a traffic light yesterday. I am fascinated by the stuff people put on the back of their cars. They are like little windows into the personalities of the owners.
So you get two messages - the text and the subtext. Mouseover the bumper stickers below for the subtext.

I'm seldom surprised by the content, on either level, of the bumper sticker. I'm always bemused by their willingness to share it or perhaps their obliviousness to what they reveal... Which brings us back to the traffic light and the car idling in front of us.

It was a Volkswagen jetta circa early 80's. On the right rear was a Free Tibet sticker. On the left rear were two bicycle related bumper stickers. The first with an admonition that cars don't own the road and/or that bicycles/bicyclists are people too. The second one looked sort of like this.

So far there is nothing particularly noteworthy or amusing, right? What a jetta with Free Tibet and bikey likes it bumper stickers? (Sure, that might be good for like a half smirk - if you love the environment what's with the gas burning vehicle...if you love bikes why aren't you riding one...) But, what really caught my eye was the juxtaposition of all that with the thing dangling from his rear view mirror.

Fuzzy Dice?
-- No. Roll again.
Christmas Tree Air Freshener?
-- No.
Faux(?) Native American Dream Catcher?
-- Bingo. And how.

I was just taken by this guy's ability to pick a contender.

Can you think of three groups you'd rather take to a property rights dispute?

I mean seriously.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The VanPan Man Can

To the tune of The Candy Man
Who can take a happy meal,
tear it all to bits,
leave it in the car so mold can grow on it?
Your kids can, your kids can,
They'll turn your minivan into their trash can
cause that's the way they ride...

Who can take a messy van,
make it nice and clean,
keep it so that it is always pristine?

I have no idea.

But I do know who can take pictures of it, post them with hilarious descriptions and leave you feeling a little better with the knowledge that you aren't the only one.

We just call him the Van Pan Man

The crying indian has a tear in his eye because "Your minivan is so messy."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Digging Through the Hopper

It has been brought to my attention that several comments, pithy and insightful, have been trapped in that limbo of submitted but unmoderated. For this, I apologize. Worse yet, some comments have been published but not responded to. Most have centered on the desire for loons - or as an easier to please anonymous commenter wrote - Loons or Bust. To that end, I will give you, dear reader, the choice.


Huge Bust

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For my friend who is not jaundiced

For my friend who is
not jaundiced, but sees the world
and wants to yell, "aagh".

Villanelle at Sundown

Turn your head. Look. The light is turning yellow.
The river seems enriched thereby, not to say deepened.
Why this is, I'll never be able to tell you.

Or are Americans half in love with failure?
One used to say so, reading Fitzgerald, as it happened.
(That Viking Portable, all water spotted and yellow--

remember?) Or does mere distance lend a value
to things? --false, it may be, but the view is hardly cheapened.
Why this is, I'll never be able to tell you.

The smoke, those tiny cars, the whole urban millieu--
One can like anything diminishment has sharpened.
Our painter friend, Lang, might show the whole thing yellow

and not be much off. It's nuance that counts, not color--
As in some late James novel, saved up for the long weekend
and vivid with all the Master simply won't tell you.

How frail our generation has got, how sallow
and pinched with just surviving! We all go off the deep end
finally, gold beaten thinly out to yellow.
And why this is, I'll never be able to tell you.

Donald Justice

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Obama's Posse Led by Fairey

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But Shepard Fairey, the creator of the OBEY GIANT street art campaign has produced a limited printing to illustrate his support for the Democratic nominee. It is the antithesis of his original artistic mission via the Andre the Giant has a Posse stickers and posters which Fairey described as an experiment in phenomenology. Seeing the black and white sticker of Andre the Giant on a stop sign with the enigmatic declarative that he has a posse was intended to make you stop and say "What does that mean?"
And I can remember just that feeling of seeing the sticker from a distance, staring at it, wondering about it, knowing that there was something to it that I just wasn't getting. It was an interesting, albeit rather trivial experience. Fast forward a decade and a half, and, as with so many things which rattle around in the disorganized warehouse of memory, the image of Andre or a later more abstracted one with the mandate "OBEY" comes to mind. But now it comes to mind within reach of a computer which reaches an internet indexed by Google. Moments later, the man behind the curtain is revealed as a Shepard Fairey.

Since the days of being an art student with a street art bent, he has now become an established part of the anti-establishment. He still illustrates the walls of warehouses and signposts, but he also shows in galleries and has a slick website that is happy to sell you this or that. You can join him in thumbing your nose at the man (now will that be visa or mastercard?).

Now picking up the nation's palette (red, white and muted cyan (remember it's still art)), he shows Obama and the word Progress. From an oblique subcultural reference with an ambiguous statement to a national figure with an explicit branding - so goes the way of Fairey from art to politics. Maybe I shouldn't have looked to see the man behind the curtain. For the mysterious vagueness and ambiguity, you'll have to look to his candidate.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

For the Good of the Order (FTGOTO)

With two traffic driven server crashes and the time involved in reading and appropriately responding to your comments, a couple of months have slipped by without a posting. But now, dear reader (this is an expression - not just an accurate numerical count of this blog's audience), you can breathe.

That sounds like something that Cecil Adams would say - except for the self deprecating (which Cecil never is nor should be) comment about audience size. If you are unfamiliar with Cecil or his mission to rid the world of ignorance, hasten to his electronic academy here. You should, of course, use the "open link in a new tab" option so that you don't lose your place here and miss the good stuff below.

The good stuff below:

While a thoughtful entry which shines the light on deep existential truths is good reading for the commercial breaks in an episode of Lost. Entries labeled FTGOTO are for nuggets of virtual goodness; links to sites of interest, amusement or revelation.

Do not go to this site unless you have at least 37 minutes to kill.
Bringing math to the masses, sort of: GraphJam.

A personal favorite. I was only three, but even then, my Kung Fu was strong.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

For Service, Press Here

I am frequently astounded by my capacity for inaction. If I had a dime for every good idea/ invention/story/ song/drawing/ etc that ever came into my mind and never received fuller realization, I'd have a lot of dimes. Of course, this is why all creative endeavors benefit from a measure of discipline. In fact, the very act of being creative is fostered by disciplined opportunities for creation. I have recently been reminded of this truth.

I have two friends who are not quite right (actually to the extent that they are bent, they are bent like me - which is why I enjoy their company). One of them, for reasons known only to him, emailed a few haiku touching on the joy of his work life. By the time I read his email, our other friend had already responded with a few of his own. I wanted to and did respond in kind. Had it not been for the prompting and the challenge, I would have written no haiku that week. But pressed a bit, that part of me which needs creative outlet took what it could get and went to the task of composing seventeen syllable poems.

Such opportunities and the sort of companions who foster them are not to be passed up. The haiku are here.

p.s. I feel obligated to clarify that I actually have a good number more than two of friends who are not quite right. But only these particular two are relevant to this observation.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Loon's Cry

A friend mentioned to me his interest in Wordsworth. He suggested I read Intimations of Immortality. As I read through the poem, my mind immediately jumped forward in time to Howard Nemerov's poem, "The Loon's Cry". There are similar images and themes - that common objects have seemed suffused with internal light and meaning - and that it has been lost. Wordsworth, of course, finds a hopeful resolution; not so much so.
Ever since finding Nemerov's poetry I have connected with his disappointed realization that he has 'fallen from the symboled world" and that our modern knowing exhausts things of their truth. It is a difficult place to come to. There is simultaneously the knowing that while this end can't be right that it wasn't wrong to come to it. So how do your regain a symboled and illumined world? I think Nemerov didn't see a way, and instead just tried to make the best of where he was. Wordsworth claimed to have made it back or nearly enough. But the romantic resolution feels a bit thin and affected to me.
While Intimations is readily available on the web, I couldn't find the Loon's Cry. So I've added it here.

The Loon's Cry

On a cold evening, summer almost gone,
I walked alone down where the railroad bridge
Divides the river from the estuary.
There was a silence over both the waters,
The river's concentrated reach, the wide
Diffusion of the delta, marsh and sea,
Which in the distance misted out of sight.

As on the seaward side the sun went down,
The river answered with the rising moon,
Full moon, its craters, mountains and still seas
Shining like snow and shadows on the snow.
The balanced silence centered where I stood,
The fulcrum of two poised immensities,
Which offered to be weighed at either hand.

But I could think only, Red sun, white moon,
This is a natural beauty, it is not
Theology. For I had fallen from
The symboled world, where I in earlier days
Found mysteries of meaning, form, and fate
Signed on the sky, and now stood but between
A swamp of fire and a reflecting rock.

I envied those past ages of the world
When, as I thought, the energy in things
Shone through their shapes, when sun and moon no less
Than tree or stone or star or juman face
Were seen bu as fantastic Japanese
Lanterns are seen, sullen or gray colors
And lines revealing the light that they conceal.

The world a stage, its people maskers all
In actions largely framed to imitate
God and His Lucifer's lond debate, a trunk
From which, complex and clear, the eoisodes
Spread out their branches. Each life played a part,
And every part consumed a life, nor dreams
After remained to mock accomplishment.

Under the austere power of the scene,
The moon standing balanced against the sun,
I simplified still more, and though that now
We'd traded all those mysteries in for things,
For essences in things, not understood-
Reality in things! and now we saw
Reality exhausted all their truth.

As answering my thought a loon cried out
Laughter of desolation on the river,
A savage cry, now that the moon went up
And the sun down--yet when I hear him cry
Again, his voice seemed emptied of that sense
or any other, and Adam I became,
Hearing the first loon cry in paradise.

For sometimes, when the world is not our home
Nor have we any home elsewhere, but all
Things look to leave us naked, hungry, cold,
We suddenly may seem in paradise
Again, in ignorance and emptiness
Blessed beyond all that we thought to know:
Then on sweet waters echoes the loon's cry.

I thought I understood what that cry meant,
That its contempt was for the forms of things,
Their doctrines, which decayed--the nouns of stone
and adjectives of glass--not for the verb
Which surged in power properly eternal
Against the seawall of the solid world,
Battering and undermining what it built,

And whose respeaking was the poet's act,
Only and always, in whatever time
Stripped by uncertainty, despair, and ruin,
Time readying to die, unable to die
But damned to life again, and the loon's cry.
And now the sun was sunken in the sea,
The full moon high, and stars began to shine.
The moon, I though, might have been such a world
As this one is, till it went cold inside,
Nor any strength of sun could keep its people
Warm in their palaces of glass and stone.
Now all its craters, mountains and still seas,
Shining like snow and shadows on the snow,
Orbit this world in envy and late love.

And the stars too? Worlds, as the scholars taught
So long ago? Chaos of beauty, void,
O burning cold, against which we define
Both wretchedness and love. For signatures
In all things are, which leave us not alone
Even in the though of death, and may by arts
Contemplative be found and named again.

The loon again? Or else a whistling train,
Whose far thunders began to shake the bridge.
And it came on, a loud bulk under smoke,
Changing the signals on the bridge, the bright
Rubies and emeralds, rubies and emeralds
Signing the cold night as I turned for home,
Hearing the train cry once more, like a loon.

Howard Nemerov
from Mirrors and Windows (1958)

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Distance From Macro to Me & You

I'm not sure yet how this idea evolves. But I am increasingly suspicious of the relevance of macro information to me as an individual. The media report daily on the minutia of financial indications and reports which might shed light on the overarching question of whether the U.S. economy is in a recession. Through it all, I what? If I am told that the last two quarters of economic data dispositively indicate a recession, it's not as if my salary will be changed. If six weeks later the economic data is revised and the label, recession, is removed, will I ever feel the difference?

The macro and the micro may well be connected. But how long and tortured a path is it from the one to the other - and how many butterfly effect/tipping point branches are there from my micro to yours? The relevance of these questions isn't restricted to economics, of course. But that does seem to be getting the most airplay on the news.

By the way, the weatherman said that there is a 52.3% chance of rain in the United States today. Remember your umbrella.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Counting the Psychic Cost of Crap

I'd love to know whether anyone has ever come up with a Psychic Cost of Crap Calculator. The PCCC, which should be small enough to carry with you and perhaps have a built in scanner, could provide you with real time calculations of the value of stuff. It would be like a pocket sized version of those Check Price scanners in Kmart or Target. The difference ... it would be honest. The PCCC would be to give an estimate of the value of something based on a time horizon more distant than the nearest cash register.

I can see by your muddled expression that I need to be more detailed. As any suburban father can tell you, the already paltry variety of fast food narrows further when there are three children in the back seat who have seen golden arches. They want to go where they can get a happy meal (more on the biting irony of that moniker in a later installment). The reason they want the happy meal isn't because of their craving for parts is parts nuggets of chicken or deep fried fries. No. They crave the plastic wrapped toy dropped in each bag.

Hang with me. What is the cost of that toy? Let's say it happens to be a squashed version of Darth Vader. It is a plastic extruded, painted object two inches tall with no moving parts. In fact, it is only a toy in the sense that the meal it comes with is happy. The lady at the drive thru window will be quick to tell you that the toy is free. If you don't believe me, tell them to keep the diminished dark jedi and deduct it from your bill. But while she tells you its free, as if that's a good thing, it's also a lie. The PCCC would scan the toy faster than mini-DV could slip to the dark side and reveal on its led screen "Happy Meal Toy Value is -$122."

But how could that be? Because once that little sith lord gets into the paws of one of your children, it becomes a part of your collection of crap. Lest I be accused of being crude, I am using the word "crap" for its technical definition of something with a net worth less than zero. It may have some postive value, unfortunately it is outweighed by its negative value. I'm pretty sure that that's the definition for crap in the Wikipedia - or it will be about five minutes after I finish this entry.

That toy once it gets into you car is something you have to get out of the car at some point. Even if you are just scooping it up to throw it away, it has already crossed the line into crapdom. More likely your child, in the shallowest resemblance of responsbility, will get the toy out of the car with them. Unfortunately, the thin veil will be torn the second anything else remotely interesting appears within your child's field of view. Then the toy will be dropped, kicked or thrown to the side. From wherever it lands, the negative value will only grow. If it just lays there it contributes to the disorder in the room (It craps the room up). If you wind up picking it up to put away (and is there really any place for it other than the trash), more time wasted on crap. Finally, if left on the floor, you manage to step on it barefooted later in the evening...well nobody likes stepping on crap.

The PCCC could have told you up front that you would be upside down on the happy meal deal before you left the drive thru window. And holding the display screen so they can see the evil they are doing, you could tell them - "No, actually I don't owe you $9.53. If you want me to take out your crap, you'll be paying me $190.47." I mean, isn't that the way it should be?