the aurora borealis

[Superintendant Chalmers sees Principal Skinner's kitchen on fire]

Superintendant Chalmers: Good Lord, what is happening in there?

Principal Skinner: The Aurora Borealis?

Superintendant Chalmers: The Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?

Principal Skinner: Yes.

Superintendant Chalmers: May I see it?

Principal Skinner: No.

aurora

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Dettifoss

Yes, I have that kind of camera that people make music videos out of these days; and yet I instead went ahead and utilized 1989 technology to create a shorter, grainier video without sound. I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Ladies and gentlemen, the mighty Dettifoss:

dettifoss

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318

I’ve been doing some quick calculations. As of this moment, I have read 318 books. I’ve actually read many more than that, but I’m only counting novels. No disrespect to Dr. Seus or Clifford (the BIG red dog), but I’m not sure that they count so much as “reading” a book as they do as “observing” one.

My mother being a reading teacher, I started reading at an early age, pre-kindergarten in fact. It is this single characteristic to which I attribute entirely and academic success I’ve ever had. Not necessarily because I read and retained anything erudite, but more because I feel like the act of reading helped mold my brain into a semi-sharp instrument. Be it comic books or Melville, reading is always positive. It requires imagination, it improves your vocabulary…it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

At any rate, I started reading early. I’m not sure when I started reading real novels (the kinds I’d count on my list…which is here by the way), but I’m going to assume that I was about 12. Doing the math, that means I’m reading 12 books a year, a book a month on average. And it’s definitely an average not a reflection of reality. For whatever reason, I’ve been reading a lot over the last 30 days, and I’ve so far read 7 books within the last month.

I wonder how high my tally will get?

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wheels

The more into the technology of our day and age I get, the more I seem to enjoy the moments without it. Between my iPhone, iPad, 3 laptops, smart tv, xbox, wii, and on and on, I’m very technically connected…but increasingly feel more and more separated.

The irony of typing this post out on my iPhone does not escape me.

I went camping for the first time in a long time, recently. It wasn’t as smooth as my days as a Boy Scout, but it was interesting how quickly the needle fell back into the grooves. I had no cell service of any kind while out there and I saw stars that I’ve not only not seen forever, but maybe have never seen. And it was there, miles and miles away from what was usually deemed “important” on a day to basis, with no ability to post anything, call anyone, or look up something anyhow, I felt more connected than I had in a long time.

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g(ro)un(d) control

I like shooting.

It’s fun, and, in the best possible way in that it’s challenging as well. Not having grown up in a gun house, I found out that I was naturally pretty good at shooting through the Boy Scouts. Skeet shooting was pretty easy and target shooting quickly became so.

I always really liked target shooting over skeet. Shotguns were too loud and dumb and inaccurate. Target rifles were stealthy and temperamental and smart. You needed patience. You needed control. Even after earning my rifle merit badge I would spend hours in our backyard with my little pellet gun, laying in the prone position and slowly squeezing off rounds into a target 25yds away. I saved the best ones…the ones with 5 shots within a quarter-sized area and always tried to better my score.

As I got older, my Dad would take me to the shooting range every once and a while. We’d rent Glocks and 45’s and spend an hour shooting at man-shaped targets. It’s funny that how odd that was never occurred to me…to be clearly training how to shoot a guy. Maximum damage in the chest where there’s the biggest area and most possibility for damage. Headshots are impressive but not tactically advantageous.

In recent years, a lot of people, with a lot of guns, that are short on sanity, have killed a lot of people. There are the philosophical arguments as to whether these people would still kill people regardless of if guns were around to help them. Would they go on a massive wooden club spree? Would they bludgeon people with frying pans if AR-15’s weren’t available? And that argument is used to (usually) attempt to prove that guns don’t kill people, people do. I don’t want to get in a debate on this, but there’s one thing for sure: if people kill people or guns do, guns sure make it a whole hell of a lot easier.

I stopped by a large magazine rack over the weekend. The kind that has every US magazine you could think of plus several imported from around the globe. I was looking for guitar magazines, and was having a very difficult time of it, and eventually found two buried behind some non-related teen magazines. What I had no trouble finding, however, were the 10 gun magazines, all at eye level, front and center. The one with the the “defense for housewives” article that features a triple-barreled semi-automatic tactical shotgun. For the little lady who just needs to feel a little safer.

I like shooting. But I don’t like it enough not to give it up completely.

More on the AR-15

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famous among no one

For the amount of times I post these days (infrequently), and the number of readers I have (one. me), I still seem to retain a level of loyalty for this site not in keeping with its apparent importance.

I do, at least, find use in the reading list…

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in a conversation about accents


Mom: You know we’re good friends with the dry cleaners, I mean, we’ve been going there for years and we know the father very well.

Me: The father?

Mom: Yes, the father ran the dry cleaners for a long time and now his son, Anthony, does.

Me: And they’re Latino? [ed. we were at a Mexican restaurant and I had to keep translating what the waiter was saying...even though he was speaking English]

Mom: What?

Me: Latino?

Mom: No, they’re Asian. Anyway, I think what they do is that they get each other jobs because when you come to this country you have to have a job to stay. And then they stay for a little bit and then move on somewhere. At least I think that’s what happens, there’s some people I just never see again…

Me: Helping out their people.

Mom: Right. Anyway, some of these people I can’t understand. at. all. I usually just stand there and smile while I try and decode what my choices are [makes motions with hands like machinery in motion]. Or sometimes I just can’t figure it out and start laughing. Don’t I Jerry? [turns to Dad]

Dad: huh?

Me: So what do you do?

Mom: Usually I just smile for a little while and then just say ‘yes’ [laughing]

Me: [laughing] Well how bad could it be, right? It’s laundry.

Mom: [still laughing] Right! [Turns to Dad] That’s why sometimes your shirts have starch in them!

Me: [uproarious laughter]

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me fail english? that’s unpossible!

I was always good at english in school…whereby “English” I really mean all of the classes that weren’t math or the sciences. I was also really good at those classes, if I’m allowed to boast, but I was less good. Or, at least, they came with a bit more effort than did the literature-based classes, which required no effort at all. My mother always thought I should do something word-related…like be a writer or a lawyer.

Instead, I chose the hard route. I went into Engineering, which is a subject heavily-dependent on the subjects that I had to work at to be good at. And I did this on purpose…the English stuff seemed like cheating to me. I mean, if it was so easy to come by, could I have really earned it honestly?

This short little story should prove to illustrate why, when re-counting my book list of read books, I discovered that I had mis-counted by two. Good at literature, not quite so much at math.

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mortality creeping in

The weird thing about not knowing exactly what’s wrong with you is that you become absolutely certain that whatever it is threatens your mortality. Every now and again between the day I last saw my doctor and the tomorrow of our next appointment, I’ve watched the swollen infection on my leg change colors and attitude, though not size, and for the most part seemingly not react at all to the two kinds of antibiotics I’m on. I conveniently choose to ignore that I can passably walk on my leg now (a first) and that it would appear that the infection hasn’t spread further or gotten larger. I’ve already started thinking about how I would react to amputation (with horror) and the hardship not so much physically but psychically. I can already feel the dooming depression of having to experience that and it’s given me a new appreciation of those who actually have. It seems so obvious in retrospect, how horrible it would be, and I think the only missing detail between my epiphany of today and my ignorance of yesterday is the taking of time to actually think about it.

Which leads me to my next thought: that feeling of invincible youth? It’s not invincibility in retrospect. I don’t remember thinking that I couldn’t die when I would climb out the windows of a moving car, jump off of roofs, or the like…I just didn’t think about it. I was a fairly smart kid…I have to imagine that, if forced to consider the potential ramifications of, for instance, leaping between two unstable boulders on the side of a mountain with 100’s of feet of freefall between them and missing, I’m sure that I would come to the conclusion that I would be either horribly injured or dead. I doubt I would have thought that I’d just walk away. Therefore, not invincible just not thinking.

But I digress. Or at least I now carry on down another lane of my local’s backroad way to the point. Beyond the amputation or at least horrible scarring from where they cut this infection out of me, lies the spectre of death. And it looms. Almost menacingly and almost real enough to actual feel the breath of. Frankly, it’s terrifying as I again, really think about it. I don’t want the oblivion, and at this point of my life, don’t understand how anyone could ever be at peace with that idea. The waste, the loss, the erasure of something so incredible (meaning Life not me personally), just feels unspeakably sad.

I should probably go wash this wound out, no?

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keep on crutchin’

I have been on crutches 3 times in my life (so far).

The first was in High School when in a fairly bad accident. My girlfriend, Missa, was driving us back to school from lunch? band practice? making out? I can’t remember. We were in her red Fiero, which I know now to be an absolutely horrible car; but, I must admit was fun to drive back in the day. Plus she looked hot in it. We were turning left with a green arrow when a lifted, white, Nissan pickup truck went around a car stopped at the opposing light, into the opposite left hand turn lane, proceeded to instead pass straight through the intersection and right into…me, basically, in the passenger seat. I remember how the bottom of the truck’s grill was in-line with the top of my head right before impact.

At any rate, the impact crumpled the passenger door and threw it into my knee, which would later swell alarmingly. I had to climb out of my luckily open window to get out and physically lift my screaming and crying girlfriend out of the driver’s seat who was, miraculously, completely uninjured. The Fiero was totaled and the pickup truck was apparently drivable because it was a hit and run.

Crutches for about a week.

The second was when I was living in the Bay Area and playing basketball in an all-asian league (except for me). I spent a lot of free time at a local school shooting baskets alone and I noticed how some people played games in the gym. One time they were playing on the outside courts for some reason or another and they needed an extra guy. Enter the white man. I played a few more pick-up games with them until one day one of the few english speakers told me it was $25/month for the rental of the gym. I took this as being accepted into their circle. I wasn’t the best player on the team, but I also wasn’t the worst and it felt good to have “friends” even though I didn’t know more than two of their names and no one ever spoke to me (or perhaps could speak to me.

One day, I chased down a player on a fast break, went up to block his lay-up, and destroyed my ankle on the way down. I iced it with peas that night and went to bed with my leg propped up on pillows thinking that that was the worst of it. The next morning, I lightly placed my now purple, zeppelin-shaped foot on the floor and screamed in pain. I crawled on all fours to the bathroom and washed my face leaning into the tub, went to urgent care, and was told that it would have been better if I’d just broken my ankle, because this was as bad a sprain as I could possibly get and it would probably never heal to full strength (which has so far proven to be true).

Crutches for about two weeks. Special prize for also being on said crutches when I was laid-off…which made for a particularly pathetic figure as I struggled to hold my box of belongings and crutch my way to my car.

And the third is right now. A large half-baseball sized pus-filled swelling appeared on the back of my knee two days ago which has since been diagnosed (at the ER) as a staph infection. It hurts, I can’t straighten (or really bend) my leg, and walking is extremely difficult at best without crutches.

Crutches for two days and counting…

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