Friday, December 12, 2014

When Your Own Writing Comes Back To You

I was emailing an acquaintance today and she attached this image, that was made up by her daughter.
"Have you read this quote?" She asked.

As it turns out, the quote is from my own unpublished S/F/Fantasy novel, THE GODS OF THE GIFT. It's from the page after the title page, where I have set quotes by two fictional writers. Of course I told her of this quote's provenance.  It's weird and ironic, though, to find that something of my writing worked its way via osmosis into the outside world.  No one has ever read this book in its entirety.  Only my partner knows the gist of it.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Comet Hale-Bopp


Until recently astrophotography demanded the use of film. Today's DSLRs have sufficient control of high ISO noise so it's possible to take a shot like this and have it work  When Comet Hale-Bopp (named after two discoverers who spotted the comet independently) reached perihelion in 1997 I reached for my trusty Nikon F2 and loaded it with Fujifilm 400 print film.  The stars are not blurred through this five minute exposure because I mounted the camera atop an aligned telescope drive. Astronomers call the practice Piggyback photography. On this one night in late spring of '97 I was able to get to a dark-sky site in Oriental, CA.  I got half dozen useful exposures of this body that was called The Great Comet of 97.  It remains in my memory as the brightest comet of my life.  It stayed visible for much of 97 before it rounded the sun and vanished into the southern skies. I used this image for the cover of my music CD, OUT OF THIS WORLD Art's CD on Youtube

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Great Con




or
internet and corporate liars, tricksters and thieves




            How could I be so stupid?
            It's a question I ask myself with regularity. 
            Today, the question had its origin in making a rookie mistake while shopping online for car insurance.  I was filling out a questionnaire.  I knew I was letting myself in for trouble.  I hesitated...but I put aside my intuition and answered the questions: what kind of car do I have, what make and model, what year?  How many miles do I drive in a month?  Name, date of birth, etc etc.
            We're with Triple A, and we're not getting mugged.  I guess I crumbled under the accumulating pressure of all those commercials, you know, the ones that tell you how much money you can save in less than fifteen seconds?
            How could I be so stupid?  I wasn't even finished filling out the form when my new smartphone played its cheerful marimba melody.  It was a caller from my own area code, so I answered.
            It was an insurance sales-person.  I had just pressed "SUBMIT" on the internet form, no more than half a second had passed.  The calls began.  In five minutes I had five calls.  The computer server that acts as Uber- flypaper for naive shoppers had relayed the fact that I was price-comparing automobile insurance via the internet.
            Listen to me...we live in a world of slick cons, tricky subterfuges, hidden fees and marketing mendacity.  The Internet has enabled an army of predatory sales-drones to gather in one mighty fortress.  Their armies sally forth to lay siege to our fragile world of shrinking incomes.  These lies, exaggerations and slick tricks are aimed and ready.  They rain down upon us like a hail of arrows. The only shield we have is common sense, vigilance and experience. 
            I just had an experience.  Henceforth I will treat internet information forms like Ebola bacilli.  They're not here to make us wiser, wealthier or healthier.  They're here to strip us to our last dime..
            I've noticed that the button on my new smartphone, the "REJECT CALL" button, is harder to activate than the green button that accepts the incoming projectile. I swipe in five directions, I tap it once, twice, three times.  I tap-and-swipe and the ring-tone continues its maddening marimba until finally I locate, purely by accident, that "move" that rejects an incoming missile qua sales-call.
            Excuse me for just a second, my smartphone is burbling again with its default ring-tone.  I've had the thing a week.  I've figured out a fraction of its capabilities.  I turned off the Data icon. I don't need a phone to hook me up to the internet.  I don't need my email on my phone. I've got it right here in a high speed Broad Band-equipped desktop computer. My email is 99 percent junk, anyway.
            I got this phone to save money.  I've been getting robbed blind by AT&T.  I use my phone two or three times a week.  I don't text.  So I purchased a Tracfone, a prepaid
deal at a fixed price.  Phone minutes, text minutes and data minutes, all at a fixed price.  I am not APP-CRAZY.  I installed one APP, a gizmo that reports and analyzes my minutes, text and data.  Guess what?  My data was getting used up faster than its brothers and sisters.  So I must research a fundamental question: what IS data?
It's inernet stuff.  It's email, videos, chat, it's....it's Google!  Omygod, Google is in control of my smartphone!  Google is an empire, it's like the oncoming Janissaries of the Ottoman juggernaut but it's today! and it's in control of everything.  It beams Data through my App, whether or not I want it!
            I don't fucking trust my phone.  What kind of world are we living in?  Everywhere I go, people are umbilically attached to these plastic rectangles.  They're either looking down at it adoringly, or they have it pressed to their ear as if it's a lover bestowing a kiss.  This is crazy shit, amigos!
            I don't trust my phone.  And neither should you.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Notes On Feeling Fat

Notes On Feeling Fat






            I did something that took some nerve yesterday.  I looked at myself naked in a full length mirror.  Frontal and side view.  I’ve avoided doing it for years and I finally got tired of being such a coward and did the deed.  I looked.
            It was disturbing but also liberating.  I’m sixty five years old; age is happening to my body. I won't be one of those people who cling to youth with frantic denial. I want to enjoy being a cranky old man who groans and says "Fech!" Things could be much worse.  All the flab has settled around my mid-section, leaving my shoulders, arms and legs looking okay..  I weigh two
hundred and stand five foot eight.  I “carry my weight well”, so I’ve been told.  I’m not a waddling fire plug.  I’m more like a bear or a gorilla.  These creatures don’t have tapering waistlines.
        It’s the fault of the medications.  That’s what I tell myself.  The medicines changed my metabolism.  I got heavy after I started taking the medications for my leg neuropathy and ...all those other things.
Forget the compulsive bed-time eating, the appetite for Reese’s Pieces and
Nestle’s Crunch.  Never mind the yum yum indulgence of putting peanut butter on Ritz Crackers and tossing down half a roll.  I ride a bicycle every day, three sixty five.  I know, you hate me.  I also do a daily yoga practice.  I know, you hate me even more.
            It’s a case of good disciplines counteracting bad habits.
            I am a disciplined compulsive.  Is that a paradox?  Try living with it.
Is anyone else like this?  Is anyone locked in a struggle between the rational and irrational parts of themselves?  I’m killing myself while saving my life.  I’m a suicidal yogi health food candy addict.  
            I practice aerobic “spinning”.  I sweat hard and push myself until I’m panting .
            My treadmill test indicated that I am free of heart disease.
            How do I live with myself?
            Tolerantly.  Very tolerantly.
            Am I the only baby boomer with a past full of addictions and recoveries?
Am I the only sixty-something with chronic pain in at least two parts of my body?
Am I the only man who feels conned and imprisoned by the pharmaceutical companies because I have to take meds for blood pressure, depression and physical pain?  These meds have saved and restored my quality of life.  They’ve also made me a prisoner.
            I feel as if I’ve loaned out my body as a lab rat and everything will stay cool as long as I keep running on the treadmill.
            My belly’s been large for twenty years.  I’m a husky strong man.  What will body shame get me?  Nothing.  Avoiding my reflection in the mirror is absurd., I don’t know what I really look like.  Each gaze into my reflected image is so loaded with ingrained value judgments, fantasies and delusions that it’s pointless to obsess on my appearance.  I just don’t know and never will know what I look like.  Furthermore, I don’t look the same to any two people.  Nothing does!  So what the fuck?
            I’ve made a deal with my belly.  I talk to it.  Belly, I say, you are a part of me, you are a product of genetics, lifestyle and a thousand other factors.  You and I will have have to get along.  Let’s be friends.  It’s obvious you’re not going anywhere.
            So, belly, how ya doin’ today?  No pain?  That’s good.  Let’s go for a ride.