Friday, December 31, 2010

I'll Be Awake

Some choose to sleep through the arrival of the new year.

And why not slumber?
It's only a number.

"Weird Perversion"

Matthew Yglesias, prominent liberal blogger, tweets:
I know they see it the other way, but I see myself as a liberal and "libertarianism" is a weird perversion of the idea.
You don't hear liberals speak publicly about "perversion" much anymore. We are now officially accepting of most statistical variation in sexual preferences.

Thank goodness there is still one area of life where "perversion" can be applied!

Much that was perverse,
seen as weird or worse,
in matters that were sexual,
now is strictly contextual.

But when it comes to politics,
and what is normal in the mix,
"freedom-fetishists" seem so weird,
wild, wacky, much to be feared.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Costume for Doc

I found a thrift-store summer-weight beige suit, that seems perfect - to me at least - for my role as Doc Baugh.

I found it today through dumb luck.
and it only cost me ten bucks.

We're supposed to bring costumes tonight
to see how they look in the light.

I had a suit of my own that might have been okay, light-weight grey plaid, but when I'm in character I like wearing something that's not really mine.

It may seem a bit of a quirk
but it helps me with this sort of work.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


For better or worse, 2010
Won't be coming back again.

My mind understands that, but I expect
My fingers will slip when I first sign a check.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Daze in NYC

I was living in Queens when New York City got heavy snows in the late 70s... and it wasn't pretty. Well, like all snow, it was pretty at first. Then it got pretty ugly.

Anyway, I found this video pretty amusing. The commentary involves cursing - from the guy filming it out his window - so be forewarned. The commentary itself asks a classic New York question. "Are you out of your mind?!"

The Explorer may not be totally destroyed,
but if I were the owner, I'd be pretty annoyed.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Snow socked the Eastern U.S. yesterday, but my 2 children waited until today to fly out of the frigid sunny skies of Chicago.

The East was submersed
by a wintry burst.

I hope, at least, they missed the worst

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Voluntary Advance Care Planning

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.
Who needs legislation
when you've got regulation?

Anyway, there won't be death panels. There may be some end-of-life panels, I suppose.

Ann Althouse has a lawyerly analysis here.

Sign the piece of paper,
so when life begins to taper
and you are not thinking straight...
well, you won't have long to wait.

Procrastinator's Perspective

The Trib ran a story about last minute shoppers.

I love this quote:
“I tried to avoid last-minute shopping, but it just crept upon me,” said Homrich, a mother of two who still had another stop to make, at Williams-Sonoma.
Christmas is like that.

It creeps
and it leaps
and it's suddenly HERE!

Then it's gone
until Next Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

White Christmas, Colorized

but glowy.

When the Yuletide rolls around
and even somewhat after,
I hope that you will hear the sound
of warm and loving laughter.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Don We Now Our Darth Apparel

Apparently this item is for sale.

Santa Vader plays in the snow,
taking a break from his work of woe.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sad Event

Two Chicago firefighters died today when a roof collapsed at a fire. I know a few firefighters but I didn't know these guys.

Generally, it's a safer job than it used to be. But, as today's disaster proves, it's still hazardous duty. It's not for the faint of heart.

Walking into a fire, when all are running out,
that's the kind of job we're talking about.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Day of Living Dangerously

Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security, tries to reassure us:
What I say to the American people is that… thousands of people are working 24/7, 364 days a year to keep the American people safe.
Don't scoff.
Everyone deserves a day off.

Which day did they decide?
Hopefully that's classified.

Christmas Platypus

The Christmas Platypus
says be of good cheer,
but something funny
is going on here.

His fur and his bill
made me a believer,
but he's really a duck
combined with a beaver.

(Sewing and design, courtesy of Anna Weiler Menekseoglu.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Icicle Salutation

I went to my yoga class this morning. It was a beautiful sunny day, but with a temperature well under freezing.

Alas, the yoga center's heat was out, so I had to turn around and head home.

It's hard to get in the pose
when your body is froze.

Friday, December 17, 2010

L.A. Tan Hero

The excitement starts at 3:40, when an actual customer walks in the door. Within a minute he has taken the robber's gun, and soon after that he shoots and kills the robber. The shooting takes place off camera.

You have to watch closely, but the robber puts his gun down on the counter, gets a piece of rope to tie up the customer, drops something on the floor, goes to pick it up... and the customer makes his move.

The robber turns out to be a very bad dude known as the honeybee killer.

The civilian who killed the killer was a 29 year old man named Jason McDaniel, who says he doesn't want to be thought of as a hero:
"A hero is a police officer, a fireman, the troops that do this every day. Me, I'm just a father. A new father, wanting to come home to his child," McDaniel said.
You hear stuff like that from heroes. A lot.

You and I may think he was brave
to grab away the robber's gun
but he just sees it as
doing what had to be done.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chicago Crawlspace

The strange case of Rahm Emanuel's Residency drags on, with today's hearing focused on... crawlspace.

He's running for mayor of Chicago. Illinois law requires that he be a Chicago resident during the year before the election.

His position is that he was a Chicago resident all along, even when he was living in Washington.

He filed Illinois tax returns, even if he mistakenly described himself on one as part-time resident. He voted here, even if he used an absentee ballot. He had a house here, even if it was rented out.

And... he left boxes of valuable stuff in his Chicago basement.

But... one of the current tenants testified that she had never seen these boxes.

So lawyers with cameras were sent to the house, and photos were introduced into evidence. The boxes were in a locked basement crawlspace... that the tenant didn't know about.

So the crawlspace mystery, at least, was cracked.

But was he, legally, a local resident
while in DC, working for the president?

Soon the hearing officer's decision will be revealed,
and then, by the loser, appealed.


How did this happen?
For the second consecutive year "whatever' topped a Marist poll as the most annoying word or phrase in the English language.
Actually, it was a perfectly useful and innocuous adjective. And then it morphed into an interjection... and swept the nation as a short form of "I couldn't care less about what you are saying".

So never
say "Whatever!"
unless you enjoy
your power to annoy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Caught in a maze
of his own design
he wandered its ways
awaiting a sign.

Update: I was thinking about Borges, and the way his tendency to Berkeleyan subjectivism cuts him off from feeling in touch with reality. At least, that's how I read the collection called Labyrinths.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tannenbaum in Progress

I put the lights up, so my work here is almost done. Marsha usually does the ornaments - except for one.

The ornament on top of the tree
gets placed by me.

Chips Ahoy

A crime both spectacular and poorly thought out:
An armed bandit escaped Tuesday on a motorcycle after stealing at least $1.5 million in casino chips from the posh Bellagio resort...
Some of the chips are worth 25 thousand each.

The number one problem is that those chips are only good at the Bellagio.

He stole a stash
and gave them the slip
but can he safely cash
a 25k chip?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Non Equivalence

The First Lady:
Childhood obesity isn’t just a public health issue, it’s not just an economic threat, it’s a national security threat as well.
A national security threat! Really?

Let's not involve the NSA
in what American children weigh.

Waxing Poetic

A haiku, not a rhyme, about something I saw / imagined in the sky recently:

Lowering its horns,
charging the dark horizon,
untamed crescent moon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dome Deflation

A lot of snow came down in Minnesota, and something else came down with it:
In Minneapolis, the roof of the city's 64,000-seat football stadium caved in, its iconic dome no longer visible after more than 17 inches of snow blanketed the Twin Cities since Friday.
Of course the people who designed and built this stadium must have know that it snows a lot in Minneapolis. But something went wrong. Maybe it will turn out to be a maintenance problem. The roof is covered with Teflon. Was that to make the snow slide off? Maybe it needed a new coat of Teflon!

It's a sorry tale.
The snow exceeded its quota,
leading to Metrodome Fail
in Minnesota.

Update: The roof, which is inflated to stay up, has collapsed before. Kevin Seifert of ESPN writes:
For those who are interested, the roof is kept inflated by fans at the top of the structure. When it snows, Metrodome operators heat the building to more than 80 degrees to melt away any accumulation. In extreme situations, workers are stationed on the roof to remove snow with fire hoses and hot water. (I’m not making this up.)
Maybe they simply blundered
by not cranking the heat to one hundred.

Update: Video of collapse from inside here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In The Headlines

William Zinsser has an amusing but depressing piece on the tendency of the New York Times to feature headlines of the "Yes, But" format.

The pattern is:

Positive Trend
Faces Unhappy End

You see it all over the press, but I suspect the Times does it the most. He has lots of real examples.

But then he imagines how the Times would have spun the events of 1776:
Are their headline writers simply hedging their bets?
Must every announcement come with regrets?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Extreme Language Games

Roll Call describes a raucous Democratic Caucus:
One unidentified lawmaker went so far as to mutter “f--- the president” while Rep. Shelley Berkley was defending the package the president negotiated with Republicans.
Since it was a Democrat,
perhaps there's nothing wrong with that.

If a Republican had said it,
I think the press would make him regret it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Re-Enter the Dragon

Human space travel news:
For the first time, a commercial spacecraft gently returned to Earth from orbit on Wednesday.
There wasn't anyone inside. It was a test. NASA wants someone to build a way for their astronauts to visit the Space Station, and this is one of the entries. The cabin was pressurized, and everything went well.
“If there were people sitting in the Dragon capsule today, they would have had a very nice ride,” Mr. Musk said.
Very sweet.
Save me a seat.

How Convenient

Ted Turner is calling for the entire world to implement China's one-child policy.

Even though he has 5 kids.

But he's got a way to justify that:
Turner went on to suggest that fertility rights could be sold so that poor people could profit from their decision not to reproduce.
Ted's loaded. He can purchase from the poor
the rights to have another four.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Altruism as Appeasement, Revisited

Social scientists keep trying to devise experiments to prove things many of us already thought we knew.
In situations where people were given awards they did nothing to earn the sense of getting an unjustified advantage caused people to act more altruistic. They probably wanted to dampen down the feeling of malicious envy in others.
The article distinguishes 2 types of envy. Malicious envy motivates you to attack the recipient of an unearned award. Benign envy motivates you to emulate someone who has earned their award.

Those who feel their prizes were unearned
fear being envy-burned
and try more to please
as a way to appease.

Those who feel their victory was fair,
don't so much care.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Doc on a Hot Tin Roof

I've been studying my part - the doctor in Cat.

Based on the play alone, you would guess that Tennessee Williams did not exude trust toward doctors. And his biography suggests reasons why:
Tennessee was close to his sister Rose, a slim beauty who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age... Williams' parents authorized a prefrontal lobotomy. ...the operation incapacitated Rose for the rest of her life.

Her surgery may have contributed to his alcoholism and his dependence on various combinations of amphetamines and barbiturates often prescribed by Dr. Max (Feelgood) Jacobson.
The real life Dr. Feelgood was quite the character:
...Jacobson was known for his "miracle tissue regenerator" shots which consisted of amphetamines, vitamins, painkillers, and human placenta.
One doctor wrecked his sister's brain.
One shot him up with dubious stuff.

If it's distrust that you want to explain,
that's explanation enough.

Mean Misdemeanor

Is this the face of a serial baby scratcher?
She did it in front of the parents, which made it easy to catch her.

Her name is Lisa Hench. She's a prominent real-estate agent in La Jolla, CA. But I don't think we can blame this on the housing market.
The parents say Hench would make friends with the mother's of the children at a La Jolla school. They say she then would ask to hold them or play with them. When she got them in her arms, the parents say, she would shake them and scratch them, in front of the parents.
She has plead guilty to 8 misdemeanor counts.

She has 3 children of her own.

is no guarantee of goodness.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Unofficial Arrival of Winter

We have fluffy, crystalline H2O,
otherwise known as snow.

(I added a photo of the first snow-person I've seen this season.)

Tom Swift Jr.

A couple of friends tagged me with a Facebook meme where you're supposed to list 15 fictional characters who will always be with you.

Well, as one friend wrote, "15 is a lot". But one character who affected me deeply, perhaps the first chronologically, was Tom Swift Jr., boy genius-inventor. 

This was when I was in elementary school, when I wanted to be an inventor, before I became deeply intrigued by creative writing.

Sometimes people ask me how I can enjoy computer programming. Wouldn't I rather be writing poems full time, they wonder. But, to me, writing programs feels like inventing things. So, in its way, it feels like the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

I suppose writing poems also feels like inventing things.

There's more than one dimension
to the world of invention.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Interpretation or Bust

In Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams, there's a line about a medicine for heavy drinkers, said to be called "Annie Bust" tablets.

The actual pill is called Antabuse, which was relatively new at the time the play was written.

Why did he include this pun?
Did he do it just for fun?
And was that his whole intent?
Just what was it that he meant?

Kill or Capture

Some CIA guy asks:
"Have we made detention and interrogation so legally difficult and politically risky that our default option is to kill our adversaries rather than capture and interrogate them?"
He neglects to mention that to capture people, you have to get close to them. Which is a physical risk.

I also think that for most Americans it feels cleaner to kill an enemy combatant on the field than to torture him in a room.

We have various rules
against being cruel,
but when you get blown
apart by a drone,
it's common belief
that the pain will be brief.

Berserker Heritage

We watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

We watched with subtitles, but it was fun listening to the Swedish. Every sentence or two you heard cognates - words that you recognized as sounding like an English equivalent.

Like when they say God Jul, which sounds like Good Yule, but which was subtitled as Merry Christmas.

The story is gruesome,
portraying Sweden
as very unlike
the Garden of Eden.