April 25th, 2008


[links] Link salad for a travel day

All 120 Crayon Names, Color Codes and Fun Facts — Mmm. Art. Which flavor tasted best? (Thanks to lt260.)

A crusade to edit America — The Editing Guy strikes. Prescriptivists 'r us. Though I certainly share the twitch. (Thanks to garyomaha.)

The future of books — The interface on this site is confusing and annoying, but click on the second image. The little slide show which follows is pretty cool. (Thanks to willyumtx.)

Taking Apart the Livescribe PulseTechnology Review on a very smart pen. Though my favorite bit was this comment about the special, patterned paper: "Each printed page has its own unique pattern — actually, a unique portion of a single, non-repeating pattern big enough to cover Europe and Asia."

How Hillary Can Still Win — A short video about the mathematics of electability, which nicely explains the Clinton campaign strategy. (Thanks to willyumtx.)

Limbaugh on Republicans — "We don't riot. We don't burn our cars. We don't burn down our houses. We don't kill our children. We don't do half the things the American left does." Speaking as a member of the American left, I can tell you it's just not a Saturday night if I don't set fire to Nuevo Rancho Lake and threaten the_child with grievous bodily harm. I have to ask my conservative friends: when the most visible conservative in the American media says stuff like this, how can the rest of us not think conservatives are simply crazy?

Time in saddle: 0 minutes (travel day)
Last night's weigh-out: n/a
This morning's weigh-in: n/a
Currently reading: The Houses of Time by Jamil NasirPowell's | Amazon ]


[travel] Leaving Las Omaha

At the airport. Slightly later flight today than normal. A woman behind me is arguing nastily with the gate agent.

Rule one of traveling by airline, never argue with the gate agent. Especially when you (ie, her) missed your flight through arriving at the gate a couple of minutes before departure. They're quite clear about that sort of thing.

Anyway, home this afternoon.

[fiction] "Shard"


by Jay Lake

A fragment catches your eye: a shard of sea-green glass embedded in the sidewalk. The old concrete is spotted with age, moss, oil stains; all the myriad ills to which the bones of any city are subject. Neither birthmarks nor cancers, such things are simply part of a place built by men, used by men.

Glass, though. This is different. Some jest on the part of the skimmer whose wide, narrow board smoothed this portion of sidewalk before your grandfather was born? They must have worked rain or shine, those laborers of old, back when horse rings were still set in the curbs and the city fathers argued over whether a streetlight was an expensive nuisance or a necessary luxury. They poured the walkways of half this city, set those old street names in concrete though so many of those changed back when a man named Truman was president.

Here in Stumptown history truly is written in stone.

You bend to examine the glass more closely. If it were loose on the street, or this were a much newer sidewalk, you might imagine the shard to be a windshield fragment from one of those 1970s land barges, the family station wagon before the first energy crisis and the rise of the SUV. There was a vogue then for dark green windshield glass with the radio antenna cast cat-whisker thin through the middle.

Perhaps it is a fragment of a Coke bottle, some workingman's lunch brought on a horse-drawn wagon in a bucket with a bit of the previous night's bar ice sloshing at the bottom. Did they take their break at the base of a Douglas fir and laugh about someone's dog, until one dropped his drink?

The glass winks at you, a sly hint from the mysteries of time. It is glass, after all, cast from sand and so inextricably linked to the sea by both its own personal genealogy and the greenish color which infuses it. Symbolism writ twice in a fragment beneath your feet. You like that idea, imagining this to be a chip off some ocean wave. It would have been imported from some distant, pale-sanded shore, though. The ocean here in the Northwest is almost always slate gray or sullen blue, colors that give lie to the name Pacific and make fishermen think about staying home with a hot cup of tea. The northern Pacific is the sort of ocean you can imagine the first land-walker fleeing, primer for the endless, spewing pump of evolution.

Or perhaps this is just a shard of glass beneath your feet. Twisted and broken, obsidian from the volcanic flows of culture, a meaningless signal from a century before when this city was birthing its own bones.

In any case you bend down, brush your fingers on the damp sidewalk, and feel the sharp, sad spark of time pass beneath your touch. Then you walk on, past glass windows and windshields and headlights and stoplights into a silicon future far from the sullen sea which first gave you birth.

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© 2008, Joseph E. Lake Jr.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.


[personal] Life imitates a Brady Bunch episode

In this week's episode, Mike Brady (played by jaylake) confronts a financial problem when one of his credit card numbers is stolen to charge over $2,000 worth of goods on the Internet. Thanks to a helpful fraud agent at his issuing bank, Mike is able to stop the damage before it gets out of control.

Meanwhile, back at the house (played by Nuevo Rancho Lake), Cindy (played by the_child) is bullied by Buddy Hinton (played by some neighborhood kid) on the playground. A life lesson is learned, drawing from Mike, Carol (played by Mother of the Child), a scene in the book Cindy is currently reading, as well as Cindy's best friend D—. (played by D—.).

Mike is now going to get on another airplane and wonder what the hell else can happen today.

[process] Paging Fred to the front office

So I wrote (or revised) just about every single day between 12/10 and 3/31. Drafted Green, wrote (then revised) "The Baby Killers", revised Madness of Flowers, revised Green, knocked out a handful of other short stories.

I gave myself April off from writing. I mean, I've done an article and a flash piece, "The Inertia of Corpses", and several substantial pieces of critical reading, but that hardly counts. I told Fred he could skive off, and I've spent the month largely reading, both unpublished stuff for critique, and actual books with bindings and stuff. (Just today finished The Houses of Time by Jamil NasirPowell's | Amazon ].)

Meanwhile, because Not Writing was starting to make me twitchy, last week I began a short story called "The Speed of Time." After a page and half, I stopped. Three times since then I came back to it. Nada.

I was blocked. As the_flea_king said tonight in chat, Fred was fishing somewhere. I mean, I had given him the month off. Still, this was freaky.

So this morning I wrote another flash, "Shard". That seemed to clear the pipes a bit, so I went back and put about 2,000 more words into "The Speed of Time," and lo, I had a complete short story draft.

I'm telling you, giving Fred a vacation is spooky. Having him back is heaven.