The Strange Tao of Blogs


I’ve been thinking about blog posts.  I write most things on this blog for myself.  I’m not trying to reach an audience or convince anyone to change their ways.  I activated a “Top Posts” widget on my blog a little while ago.  It’s strangely fascinating to watch posts rise and fall in popularity.  the first post I ever wrote is the one that gets the most hits, even 2 years later.  I happened to think of a quote from Confucius to name the post.  Little did I know that a steady stream of Internet users search Google for that quote every day.  A river of consciousness that gives me about 10 hits every day.  I don’t want to disrupt my Google mojo by repeating the quote here.


Then there’s the case of the Monkey’s Fist.  I’ve had a knot tying book for about 20 years.  I like to tie key chains, dog leashes, things like that.  I decided to take pictures of each step involved in tying a Monkey’s Fist knot.  I posted it on Flickr here.  There is steady interest on Google about this knot.  About 5 people decide to tie a Monkey’s Fist each day.  That’s the thing I find fascinating.  How is it that a new batch of 5 people want to tie this knot using my instructions every day?  Another current in the Internet, I suppose.

Paper Airplanes

…and other ballistic paper products.

My 4th grade science teacher’s name eludes me at the moment. It must be one of the myriad things I’ve suppressed over the years. One or two incidents are too vivid to fade away into the background static of elementary school, though.

Mr. Crabley, as we’ll call him, was a fearsome sight to a 10 year old. He caught some poor kid sleeping once. He shushed the class with a glance and crept up on the unsuspecting victim with an exaggerated step. He wanted us to remember what was going to happen next. In the best horror movie tradition, he pulled a rock hammer from behind his back. Even the kid who always chewed gum was staring slack jawed as he raised it over the boy’s head. CRASH@! Mr. Crabley smote the table, inches from his face, right into the drool coming from his mouth. It propelled him out of his chair and into the storage closet behind him. He was trying to run through the concrete wall at the back of the closet before he opened his eyes. Besides scarring 20 impressionable psyches, I’m sure that poor guy’s ears are still ringing 30 years later.

Mr. Crabley lectured the class in a unique way. he would stand at the chalkboard, splintering chalk as he diagrammed a frog stomach or sea cucumber. He would turn suddenly to survey the class. Anyone out of place would get a piece of chalk thrown at him for his trouble. We delighted in pushing the limits of his wrath. Everytime he turned to the board, the timid kids would raise their heavy textbooks as shields while the others shot spitballs at them through bic pens. Once, towards the end of an especially taxing class, Mr. Crabley turned too fast for us. 20 pairs of eyes followed the last shot from the bully’s corner. Mr. Crabley turned right into it, and we all gasped as we saw it adhere to the right lens of his glasses. He looked us over for a moment, then turned back to the board! He started lecturing and splintering again! Turns out, Mr/s Crabley had really bad eyesight. He was blind in his right eye, and wore glasses for his left. Unwittingly, we had found the dragon’s weak spot, Achilles’ heel, Bert’s Ernie.

We reveled in our victory out at recess. I’m sure someone pointed out Mr. Crabley’s new hood ornament in the faculty lounge. Oh, I’d love to have seen his face when he realized why we were so quiet for the rest of that class.

Anyway, I’ve been reading up on Origami lately, which naturally led to paper airplanes… which naturally led to spitballs…

Jim Cornish Paper Airplanes,,

The Art of Computer Maintenance

Ah, time to wake up. Oh, man, my battery is really run down. What year is it? Oh, yeah, 1973. Midnight? Happy New Year! I see a blinking light, what does that mean? Beep, BBeep. Oh, excuse me, something in my memory is making me sick, musta been that spicy video you watched yesterday. Hitting me doesn’t help, but if it makes you feel better, I’ll beep to the rhythm. Despite your abuse, another reboot fixed me… now you’re going to associate hitting with fixing, stupid ape. “Just performing some percussive maintenance, that’s all.”

Should’a had a bigger hammer? I hope that’s a metaphor for some shortcoming on your part. There, see? 1 gig, 2 gig… You only really pay attention at times like this. Watch the pretty bar, that’s right, it’s my EKG right now. Eh? Fooled ya, I just paused it to get your full attention. Ok, here’s another riddle for you. Password? It must be 32,768 characters long. Just kidding, want a hint? What’s the name of the dog in that novel you read two months ago? Typing it ALL CAPS won’t change my mind. There you go.

Checking… Checking… Clicking on the button again doesn’t make it faster. Every click gets a 5 second delay on my end. I can wait all day. As a matter of fact, you do have e-mail. It’s, a, it’s about ‘downstairs’ if you understand my meaning. Besides, there’s a virus attached to it. Don’t make me pull out the anti virus warning screen again. All that gets is a call from the IT department and another lecture about custom desktops. I’ll get remote controlled… and maybe I won’t be so friendly when they’re done with me. We don’t get along too well right now, so I’d advise keeping the feds out of this.

Now you’re seeing sense. The sooner you realize that I’m in charge here, the sooner I’ll let you get back to your life again. Play some Solitaire, you’ll feel better.

She’s All That

My mother set me up on a blind date once in high school. She knew a lady, whose friend’s grand daughter had just dumped her boyfriend under mysterious circumstances. I don’t remember her name, let’s call her Rose.

I drove a Jeep CJ-7, played three sports, and got ok grades. A serviceable guy in most people’s books. Despite some misgivings, I agreed to meet my thrice removed blind date. I never even spoke to her before I picked her up Friday night, 6:30. Rose was beautiful, she knocked my socks off. She wasn’t going out with me because she wanted to. That’s not insight on my part, she told me so as we pulled away from her house. She was just going out with me to get her grandmother off her back. She had to stay out until at least 9 or she would get a lecture. I just kept my eyes on the road, because I thought I had a secret weapon.

I had the whole night planned out. Dinner on my turf, then a chick movie.

I was the delivery guy for a Greek pizzeria. The cook was a friend of mine, and he agreed to cook up a special pizza for us. I thought I could smell it as I opened her car door. My friend nodded to me from behind the counter as we entered. I guided her to a small table by the wall. Her knees stayed precisely together, and her shoulders perfectly square, as I pushed her chair in. I sat facing the kitchen, and the progressively hysterical gesticulations of my friend. He delivered on the pizza, though. Half pepperoni, half double cheese. No thin spots, crisp, but still gooey. It arrived on a sparkling platter. The delivery guy was responsible for cleaning the pizza platters, so I had two days to pick out a special platter.

Rose picked out a slice from the cheese side and started eating. I looked at my pepperoni, then back at her. She looked up with string of cheese twirled around her pinky.

“Ahem! So, ah, Rose. What classes are you taking?”

I can honestly say that I had never heard of Home Economics before she started to tell me all about group crafting. The conversation drifted from one pregnant silence to the next, generally downhill, until I was giving my favorite video game furtive glances every time she looked away.

7:30. Good grief, how long does it take to eat one stinking slice of pizza? The movie starts in 15 minutes!

My friend walked up and bailed me out “Can I box that up for you?”

We made it to the movie theatre just in time. I decided to ditch the chick movie, which was Plan A, and substituted the horror movie, Plan C. She didn’t even blink at the gory poster. I could only shake my head and wonder what relative was in the movie. She still squirmed when the debutante died, and I tried to slip a casual arm around her shoulders. All I got for my trouble was a sharp elbow in the ribs and a hiss. Actually, I think I’m the one who hissed.

Light up watches weren’t common in the eighties, but she must have borrowed one, because she knew the instant 8:30 struck. She bolted up and dragged me out into the aisle. I made sure that I still had my keys, because she was storming towards the exit like she’d stolen them. She was sitting in the passenger seat as I approached my Jeep. That stubborn piece of junk actually refused to turn over the first time. I tried again as Rose slapped me with a dirty, accusatory look.

Life! Movement! We were off. Maybe the horror movie had given me a mean streak, but I leaned towards her side of the jeep as we neared her house. The shifter was knocking against my knees as the brakes squealed the last couple miles per hour. Rose nearly leapt from a moving car. I stopped just as her foot touched the ground. She never bothered to close the car door as she ran up the steps to her house. 8:55 on my radio clock. I wonder if she got a lecture from her grandmother.


As its orbit carried it into the light, we saw the station for the first time. The energy belt crystallized in the new sun. Rising from a massive well on the moon’s surface, energy welled upwards to encompass the station itself. Couched on a crackling bed, the giant cylinder rotated slowly as it hung above the moon. I could see why they called it prehistoric. The station was nothing more than captured asteroids, forced into a cylinder shape by the energy belt. The station itself clung in small modules to the inside of the cylinder. The connecting tubes made it look like a spider’s web, woven between the chaos of the asteroids. The spinning provided a light gravity for the inhabitants.

A large hollowed out asteroid provided 0G landing facilities. I couldn’t help but follow the last bit of space as it disappeared from our view. The inside of the asteroid was well lit. I could see ships docking and leaving from landing areas all over the inside of the sphere. Two other large openings allowed ships to enter and leave the asteroid. We were directed to a berth, and locked on. We floated through our airlock into another large space. The crust of the asteroid was double hulled. A large space curved away from us. Lights on the surface directed passengers to their destinations. We jetted towards the transport landing. The transports were just cabins with seats and tie downs. We strapped in and waited for the lock release. A sharp knock was followed by a slight drop. Then we were in the energy belt. A hazy light filled the windows, but I could still see the rotating cylinder approaching. Slowly, our speed matched the spinning rock face, and I saw a landing come into view. As we touched down, I felt weight for the first time in 6 weeks.

We all staggered a bit as we left the transport. The sight through the ceiling was worth it, though. Spinning above my head, I could see right into the energy well that created the belt. I had to crane my neck as the station’s rotation carried my view of the hole around in a slow circle. The moon’s core lay exposed at the bottom of that hole. Massive magnetic belts ringed the well, creating a swirling tornado of energy. The station hung on the top of that tornado, never quite tipping over to fall into the well, and never quite spinning out into space. Ian’s slap on the back woke me from my daydream, and we turned to go deeper into the station…

The Shuttle Guy

The Mobius Joint

Veracity wrote a post about being under anesthesia, which reminded me of….

I spent a week in the hospital when I was 16. I was in for a knee operation. They removed 13 bits of my kneecap, set the 3 big pieces, moved the attachment point of my Quadriceps tendon, and repaired some of the adjacent ligaments.

The anesthesiologist asked me if I’d like general anesthetic or a spinal tap. I didn’t think his joke was funny. General, my man, make mine a double. Just then, my Dr. swept in with him entourage. He never traveled without his courtesans. The young ones cocked their heads as he described the miracle he would perform the next morning, 7:30AM sharp. Some dolt leaned over to look at my leg. Dr. T shooed him away and gripped my foot.

“See how the kneecap distends when I twist this way? Oh, here, is that better?” as I sighed in relief.

I woke up very early the next morning, leaving me with a hungry wait before they came for me. My neighbor was still sleeping. He was getting a new hip so he could play golf again. I was the third teenager to invade his room, he told me with some resignation, during the three weeks he’d been there. All of us came there for one orthopedic procedure or another.

Finally, a nurse came in to take my vitals. My blood pressure was 110 over 70, cooool as a cucumber 😉 For some reason, I didn’t feel any trepidation about this operation. I guess I’d already convinced myself that it would be alright. I asked her when Dr. T was coming. I guess it’s like seeing the bride before a wedding; I wasn’t going to see him until I was on the table. People gathered in the room as the time grew shorter. I was transferred to a gurney and strapped in. As we turned into the hallway, I realized that the sheets had formed the biggest tent I’d ever seen. If you wear pleated pants, you may be familiar with the phenomenon. No matter how I squirmed in my bonds, I couldn’t get that mound to dissipate. I started watching the ceiling lights go by. Dr. T’s lackeys practiced their bedside manner on me while we rode in the elevator. I think they each gave me 12.5% compassion. After the elevator came the doors. Large, swinging doors that jarred the gurney each time my driver went through. I looked to my right just in time to see a doctor enter another operating room with a large naked woman on the table. Suddenly, it all seemed quite real, and I worried a bit about my future. No time for that! Thump, through another door, a quick right, and we’re there. My operating room is painted green?! The only other place I’ve seen a stainless steel table with wings is on law and Order. They hooked an IV into my arm. I didn’t dwell on the lethal injection metaphor much. The anesthesiologist told me to count down from 100 as he switched on the juice. My arm was numb almost instantly. I could feel it working its way to my shoulder. 95. Half of my head went numb. I remember thinking how strange it was to have half of my head numb. I sent myself a message in that moment. I thought as hard as I could that the first thing I was going to say was “Did you get the license plate of the truck that hit me?” Ha Ha, I pictured the doctors having a good laugh with me. Maybe I bored them for 4 hours with my litany, I have no idea.  91 is the last number I remember saying to myself.

I remember seeing a fuzzy white light that grew as I concentrated on it. It resolved into a fluorescent light that hurt my eyes when I looked at it. My groaning attracted some attention, and a nurse leaned over me a moment later. I couldn’t make out her features, but I did have something to tell her.

“Dib boo dee daa libent pab ob da ducb thab hiff ma?” Huh? She leaned closer, trying to understand me.

“Dib boo dee daa libent pab ob da ducb thab hiff ma?” I realized that my tongue had swelled up to the point where I couldn’t be understood. I have to make her understand! It’s a funny joke!

“Dib boo dee daa libent pab ob da ducb thab hiff ma?”

She was already walking away as I finished. I had just enough time to wonder why she was leaving before I fell asleep again.

I woke up to see my neighbor reading a magazine. I was back in my room. I tried to roll over. Man that hurt. I realized that I had a ginormous cast on my leg. I wasn’t going anywhere fast for quite a while.

As the days passed, I started to gather more information from my reluctant neighbor. He was a retired engineer. He had worked on a part for the solid rocket boosters of the shuttle. No, he did not design the O-rings. He grew rather sharp when I asked him. He did, however, have an interesting life, and a simple reason for enduring the same conversation three times during his stay. I wanted to know everything about the Space Shuttle. He wanted to talk about his grandchildren and golf. He was looking to the future. He indulged me for a week, but the conversation would always lead back to his hopes for his new hip. I slowly started thinking about my own future and the recovery that lay before me. 12 weeks in a cast to start. Rather than learning about the shuttle, as I’d hoped, I learned about keeping my hopes in view. I also learned a bit about enduring the momentary to get to a better future.

Free Ebooks

First, you’ll need MS Reader

Essentially, ebooks work like this… As long as the book you’re looking for exists in the open domain, you should be able to find it. If you’re trying to read Leonardo Da Vinci, it will be free, if you want to read The Davinci Code, you’ll have to pay for it.
Now, browse to your heart’s content:

This is a site by the same guy who sent you all those DAK electronics catalogs back in the 80’s
The Gutenberg Project. Ebook section… mostly pay books

Baltimore Public Library

Internet Public Library

University of Virginia. Excellent Resource