Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Earth sheltering

I am so living in a cob house with an extensive green roof, and no one can stop me. The icelanders have the right idea.

I am psyched. Now of course I need land. Land with lots of dirt on it.

This is not just for hippie reasons, it just seems like it would be so much cozier and right to live in the dirt. Like a hobbit. I think the neo-hippies will have to live in some kind of earth shelter, or perhaps an earthship. I can even see a transhumanist overlap there.

Monday, November 26, 2007

bouncy balls and synaesthesia

Yaaaaay, this game is fun.

Balls and physics. And it has science trivia. Reminds me of the nerdier version of that Rube Goldberg computer game I remember playing in grade school. If anyone can somehow hook me up with that I will be really happy.

Also, synaesthesia.

not like THOSE morons

"We don't subscribe to this idea of the 'God of gaps,' meaning if you can't explain something, then blame God," Whitmore told me before describing a method that hardly seemed more scientific. "Instead, we think: 'Here's what the Bible says. Now let's go to the rocks and see if we find the evidence for it.'"
Allow me to translate: "Pssh. We don't adhere to the ludicrous logical fallacies of certain creationist morons. We've got completely different logical fallacies! Their dark-age, backwards method, you see, is founded upon ignorantly dismissing all problems and uncertainties with their theories, whereas ours is all about cherry-picking the evidence, and then ignorantly dismissing all the evidence that doesn't fit! See, evidence people! It's what science is all about!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

facial prosthetics

Oh my god oh my god oh my god

Snap-on face parts.

You heard me.

So, that's what the sinuses look like.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hipster motifs

What is up with hipsters and the following:

--ice cream cones
--keys and locks

(See: " Panda vs Robot wallet," for an example of several conglomerated hipster motifs. Also has a dragon on it.)

--stuff like hearts, stars, and even rainbows I understand more, if only because those seem like more generic motifs, albeit twee ones.

Of course it's interesting why/how those might have become decorative motifs, through various processes of abstraction, symbology, cultural permeation, repeat, etc.

Reminds me a bit of Egyptian hieroglyphs. How much does the heart-shape, and what it represents--love, romance, innocence, five-year-old girls, tweeness--actually resemble the tough, hardworking muscle in our chests? There have been multiple transmutations of both the symbol and its meaning, since then, whenever Then is. Similarly, some abstruse Egyptian hieroglyph might once have indicated--what, a trachea and lungs? Some sort of hoeing tool?--but they have become their universally understood symbol for something else, in a way that seems to us random and inexplicable.

But hey, if ancient dead saurians can evoke the whimsy and imagination of childhood.

(I'm not sure I want to mention octopuses or dinosaurs, because although those are also hipster motifs, the interest and value of those two seem self-evidenced to me, because I am biased. But presumably the appeal of dinosaurs is the same for us all: that lots of kids were obsessed with dinosaurs in childhood, so there's that nostalgia flavor as well as the fact that dinosaurs are just cool.)

I would also like to complain about the limited palette of insect motifs available. There seem to be basically: butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies, and bees. But usually stylized bees that look more like smiling, striped blimps, possibly because something actually bee-looking would be too scary.

I am okay with butterflies, and I like dragonflies a lot, and bees. It's just that they are all overused. I would like to see more ants, non-ladybug coleopterans, wasps, realistic bees, and mantises, for starters.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

word illusions

Word illusions. This is pretty cool. I want to figure out how to do ambigrams.

Littlewood's law

Littlewood's Law states that individuals can expect a miracle to happen to them at the rate of about one per month.

The law was framed by Cambridge University Professor J. E. Littlewood, and published in a collection of his work, A Mathematician's Miscellany; it seeks (among other things) to debunk one element of supposed supernatural phenomenology and is related to the more general Law of Truly Large Numbers, which states that with a sample size large enough, any outrageous thing is likely to happen.

I like this.

If only you could control what outrageous thing happened. A miracle quota, maybe. You could save up your smaller miracles for a larger one.



Hazard symbols. This is awesome. I have been thinking about sign symbols and aesthetics and etc. lately, having long been entertained by the unintentional hilariousness of cautionary signs.

Asemic writing. OMG.

DOT pictograms and "Helvetica man."

Red and Yellow Kills a Fellow.

(legal) street sign and traffic light collection.

"ing" implying diminuitive in English.

Street furniture.

Portugese pavement. Cool.

Links page of the sign museum.

We are such signy creatures. I am excited about this. Much more thought should go into this. Patterns, significance of specific concrete things to concepts, language, but so much more than spoken language; symbols as a basic aspect of human thought.

When I was little, I was really into the Smurfs. Often a smurf would read a letter out loud, and they would always say, e.g., "Signed, Papa Smurf."

So I thought that when writing a letter, you were actually supposed to write,


What do you call those little sign-off things? Yours truly, Sincerely, etc.?

Wikipedia's list of unusual deaths

Wikipedia list here. Some ones that stood out to me, organized by category. I was trying to have there be a cut after each section, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. Stupid tricksy blogger; I need something that works like lj-cut in livejournal. Ah well, you can still see what the categories are.

Lame Deaths:

1884: Allan Pinkerton, detective, died of gangrene resulting from having bitten his tongue after stumbling on the sidewalk.

1911: Jack Daniel, founder of the Tennessee whiskey distillery, died of blood poisoning six years after receiving a toe injury when he kicked his safe in anger at being unable to remember its combination.

1923: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon became the first to die from the alleged King Tut's Curse after a mosquito bite on his face became seriously infected.

1941: Sherwood Anderson, writer, swallowed a toothpick at a party and then died of peritonitis.

1945: Anton Webern, the Austrian composer, was accidentally shot dead by an American Army soldier on 15 Sept. 1945, during the Allied occupation of Austria. Despite the curfew in effect, he stepped outside the house to enjoy a cigar without disturbing his sleeping grandchildren.

Ultra lame:

1947: The Collyer brothers, extreme cases of compulsive hoarders were found dead in their home in New York. The younger brother, Langley, died by falling victim to a booby trap he had set up, causing a mountain of objects, books, and newspapers to fall on him crushing him to death. His blind brother, Homer, who had depended on Langley for care, died of starvation some days later. Their bodies were recovered after massive efforts in removing many tons of debris from their home.

And The Lesson Is:

Hypatia was cool. Too bad she was killed by a Christian mob.

1277: Pope John XXI was killed in the collapse of his scientific laboratory.

Jesus is clearly not a fan of math or science.

1559: King Henry II of France was killed during a stunt knight's jousting match, when his helmet's soft golden grille gave way to a broken lancetip which pierced his eye and entered his brain.

Do not use golden armor, no matter how good it may look.

Kind of Cool Deaths:

1923: Frank Hayes, jockey, suffered a heart attack during a horse race. The horse, Sweet Kiss, went on to finish first, making Hayes the only deceased jockey to win a race.

1967: On Dec. 17 Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, went for a swim at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, Australia. He was never seen again. Rumors and theories include suicide, kidnapping by submarine, and shark attack; the true cause remains unknown.

Kidnapping by submarine. :D Awesome.

1975: On 24 March 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King's Lynn literally died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. According to his wife, who was a witness, Mitchell was unable to stop laughing while watching a sketch in the episode "Kung Fu Kapers" in which Tim Brooke-Taylor, dressed as a kilted Scotsman, used a set of bagpipes to defend himself from a psychopathic black pudding in a demonstration of the Lancashire martial art of Ecky-thump. After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter Mitchell finally slumped on the sofa and expired from heart failure.


4 BC: Herod the Great suffered from fever, intense rashes, colon pains, foot drop, inflammation of the abdomen, a putrefaction of his genitals that produced worms, convulsions, and difficulty breathing before he finally gave up. Similar symptoms-- abdominal pains and worms-- accompanied the death of his grandson Herod Agrippa in 44 AD, after he had imprisoned St Peter. At various times, each of these deaths has been considered divine retribution.

Oh ew wtf. What would produce that, just rot in the genital area w/ maggots?

1983: A diver on the Byford Dolphin oil exploration rig was violently dismembered and pulled through a narrowly opened hatch when the decompression chamber was accidentally opened, causing explosive decompression.

Food and Drink:

1135: Henry I of England died after gorging on lampreys, his favourite food.

Are those eels, or is it different?

1478: George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence reportedly was executed by drowning in a barrel of Malmsey wine at his own request.

That's style. If you could choose your method of execution, what would it be?

1771: King of Sweden, Adolf Frederick, died of digestion problems on February 12, 1771 after having consumed a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off with 14 servings of his favourite dessert: semla served in a bowl of hot milk. [citation needed] He is thus remembered by Swedish schoolchildren as "the king who ate himself to death."

Just posting this because semla sound really delicious. Mmmm.


1687: Jean-Baptiste Lully, composer, died of a gangrenous abscess after piercing his foot with a staff while he was vigorously conducting a Te Deum, as it was customary at that time to conduct by banging a staff on the floor. The performance was to celebrate the king's recovery from an illness.

1978: Janet Parker, a British medical photographer, died of smallpox in 1978, ten months after the disease was eradicated in the wild, when a researcher at the laboratory Parker worked at accidentally released some virus into the air of the building. She is believed to be the last smallpox fatality in history.

1981: Carl McCunn, in March 1981, paid a bush pilot to drop him at a remote lake near the Coleen River in Alaska to photograph wildlife, but had not arranged for the pilot to pick him up again in August. Rather than starve, McCunn shot himself in the head. His body was found in February 1982.


270 BC: The poet and grammarian Philitas of Cos reportedly wasted away and died of insomnia while brooding about the Liar paradox.

69: The short-time Roman emperor Galba was killed after becoming extremely unpopular with both the Roman people and the Praetorian guard-- however, 120 different people claimed credit for having killed him. All of these names were recorded in a list and they all were later themselves executed by the emperor Vitellius.

260: According to an ancient account, Roman emperor Valerian, after being defeated in battle and captured by the Persians, was used as a footstool by the King Shapur I. After a long period of punishment and humiliation, he offered Shapur a huge ransom for his release. In reply, Shapur had the unfortunate emperor skinned alive and his skin stuffed with straw or dung and preserved as a trophy.

Holy shit. I can't decide whether to say that people took their conquests more seriously back then, or that they took them less seriously. I mean, using a guy as a footstool, then skinning him and keeping him as a trophy? These days it would be all speeches and platitudes.

869: Al-Jahiz, an Arab scholar from Basra and author of works on literature, history, biology, zoology, Mu'tazili philosophy and theology, and politico-religious polemics is reputed to have been killed by his own library when shelves fell over on him.

1753: Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, of Saint Petersburg, Russia, was struck and killed by a globe of ball lightning while observing a storm.

Man, ball lightning is fucking sweet.

2002: Richard Sumner, a British artist suffering from schizophrenia, disappeared and was not located again until three years later when his skeleton was discovered handcuffed to a tree in a remote forest in Wales. Police investigators determined the death was a suicide, with Sumner securing himself in the handcuffs and throwing the keys out of reach.


Bears in playground 2

More bears on a playground. This time they are pandas. They are like fat little torpedoes.

When I originally posted this it inadvertently said "penguins" instead of "pandas." Whatever that says about me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Sapphire

Oh, and this story about a fist-sized sapphire worth 2 million dollars--or is it only good as a paperweight?--reminds me of Steinbeck's "The Pearl."

Bears, light, and sleep

In less disgusting news, bears on a playground! I wonder if they're siblings; four would be an unusually big litter, I think, and yet I don't know why else 4 bears of the same age would be playing together.

Makes me want to go to Alaska. During the summer. God, how many hours of darkness do they get at whatever the hell parallel that's at, and how do they stand it?

I've occasionally wondered if the ability to physically and/or psychologically tolerate longer and shorter days might be inherited. That is, people whose ancestors are Inuits are less likely to go fucking crazy from Seasonal Affective Disorder than people whose ancestors hail from the Amazon. But as far as I know, none of my ancestors are from below like, the 45th parallel, so who the hell knows. I need one of those ludicrously expensive sun-visor things, to further my delusion accurate perception of the true climate, which sees past the accident and through to the substance.

Maybe my ancestors were bats. It would explain my delayed sleep phase syndrome (not officially diagnosed; I should get my ass to the sleep clinic they have here), as well as my interest in insects.

Ugh, I got up at like 8 pm last night and stayed up until 8 am or so, got a few hours of sleep, then was off to class. Then, at like 5:30 or 6, I came home and slept as was wide fucking awake at 9:30 p.m. I just don't know what the hell to do. I feel awake and jittery, and yet... it's dark. I don't want to do anything.

Jenkem, or: The Kid Who Huffed Poop Gas

Oh my god, I can't believe this.

Some excerpts:
Jenkem (also jekem) is a narcotic recreational drug composed of noxious gas formed from fermented human sewage...The raw materials are plentiful and freely available in the form of fecal matter from the open sewers of Lusaka. This is then fermented in plastic bottles and the fumes are inhaled. John C. Zulu, director of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development in Zambia informs Salon.com in November 2007 that Jenkem usage is less common than glue-sniffing and, "Initially, they used to get it from the sewer, but they make it anywhere [...] They say it keeps them warm and makes them fearless."
So disgusting.
The effects of Jenkem inhalation last for around an hour and consist of auditory and visual hallucinations. A fifth-grader in Lusaka said of Jenkem to an IPS reporter... in 1995, "Old man, this is more potent than cannabis." In a BBC report four years later, a 16-year-old boy described his preference for jenkem over other inhalants, "With glue, I just hear voices in my head. But with Jenkem, I see visions. I see my mother who is dead and I forget about the problems in my life."

"Human excreta is scooped up from the edges of the sewer ponds in old cans and containers which are covered with a polyethylene bag and left to stew or ferment for a week." In the BBC 1999 article the process is described as, "...the dark brown sludge, gathering up fistfuls and stuffing it into small plastic bottles. They tap the bottles on the ground, taking care to leave enough room for methane to form at the top."

It has been noted that Jenkem usage will leave a taste of sewage in the mouth lasting for several days.
I'm gonna barf.

Anyway, apparently the American media picked up on this and people thought it was taking off here. An amazing cautionary bulletin, here.

Apparently though, it's not actually a problem here, though as far as I can tell it's a real phenomenon in Africa. The creator of the hoax comes clean:
Internet pundits were quick to jump on the [sheriff's] intelligence briefing, noting that the photos and descriptions of the high jenkem produced came from "Pickwick," a contributor to the Web site Totse.com, who later admitted his "use" of jenkem was faked using flour, water, beer, and Nutella.

"I never inhaled any poop gas and I never got high off it," he wrote on Sept. 24. "I have deleted the pictures, hopefully no weirdo saved them to his computer. I just don't want people to ever recognize me as the kid who huffed poop gas."

Perhaps I shouldn't laugh, though. I mean, sure, "huffing poop gas," that's funny. But how awful would these kids' lives have to be, where a brief hallucinatory escape from reality is worth days of the lingering taste of raw sewage in your mouth?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Goat Gland Doctor and Mikhail Bulgakov

The Goat Gland Doctor: The Story of John R. Brinkley.
Brinkley, therefore, had all he needed to capitalize on the farmer's idea of goat-gland transplants: he was unethical, he had a wobbly knowledge of medicine, and he had witnessed the rambunctious behavior of goats. And he possessed one more thing: knowledge of experiments carried out in Europe beginning in the late 1800s.
These experiments must be the inspiration for the Mikhail Bulgakov novel, Heart of a Dog! I really need to reread that book. <3 And apparently there's a film of it, which I also need to see!
Brinkley went to work, implanting a bit of goat gonad in Stittsworth's testicle. Within weeks the farmer was back to thank the doctor for giving him back his libido. And when his wife gave birth to a boy, whom they appropriately named Billy, Stittsworth spread the word about Brinkley.
Haha. This guy is a little bit Dr. Nick, a little bit Dr. Moreau, and a little bit those-dudes-who-duped-the-emperor in The Emperor's New Clothes:
Brinkley was charging $750 per transplant, and he couldn't keep up with the demand. All men needed the Brinkley operation, he declared, but the procedure was most suited to the intelligent and least suited to the "stupid type." This, of course, ensured that few of his patients would admit that they had not benefited from the operation.
There were a few problems. Like when Brinkley decided to use angora goat testicles instead of those from the more common Toggenberg goat. Recipients of the angora testicles were decidedly unhappy—Brinkley himself noted that they reeked like a steamy barn in midsummer.
Presumably Toggenberg goat testicles don't make you reek?
The "doctor" then decided that the only way to get his license back was to become governor. So in 1930 he organized a massive write-in campaign, and he almost won.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Immense Japanese underground architecture


Apparently it's the flood-control system, not the sewer system, as the title indicated.

Snakes can fly.

See? The videos you can find are pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

sorrow's springs

I did my little presentation on poetry and imperfection today. I hope L wasn't... offended or off-put. Because I just don't really know how I can engage with the idea of the perfect poem, or of what is beautiful to me--which was really the point, right?--without dealing w/ imperfection, temporariness, ephemerality, etc.

I felt like crying while reading the poems (not mine, 2 auden and 1 roethke. maybe I will post them) and pretty much couldn't even get thru the last line of my paper. then i went into my office and cried, for what (i agree with hopkins) is really the best and only reason: that everything i love and everything that is beautiful will pass away.

sorrow's springs are the same--yes. Loss is loss, over and over again, in different forms. I don't know about it being myself I mourn for--because I am very concerned over my own mortality, of course. And if I could live for a million years that would take a lot of the sting out of losing things, because I'd like to see what would happen. But I don't know, I think I could die in more peace knowing or believing that the things I loved would persist after me; that might be enough of a comfort.

Thinking of that James Dickey poem... while the notion of ceasing to exist, being unable to perceive anything, and moreover, unaware that you are unable to perceive anything--the idea of say, actually being killed and eaten by a wild animal holds no terror. I think I would be comfortable with going like that, actually. Not literally comfortable, because being chewed up is no doubt painful. But I could accept my end if it was at the hands of something beautiful that I respected, that overpowered me, and that I could help to go on.

Because I think of "immortality," persistence w.r.t. art--I have been terribly ambitious. I have burned to add something huge and lasting to stories, literature, etc. (I don't know how ambitious I am now, because I guess I feel like I have to do this, and will do this, regardless of the "rewards"). But I think I'd be okay with people not knowing it was *me,* or thinking someone else had done it, so long as something I created could persist.

Maybe this is just a translation of the reproductive urge, which thankfully I don't feel in a literal sense, or maybe, too, it's something less selfish--a desire to give something, a thing that will live and give back and exist outside yourself, for others besides yourself--that your life does not end when your life does, that you can affect things in a positive way beyond the span of your life.

Anyway, shit, I basically pulled a Margaret. Story of my childhood, if not my whole life. I meant the "sensitive poet" thing facetiously, but...shit, man.

Lyre bird

Awesome bird.

It woos by imitating as many sounds as possible. Usually this is other bird calls, but it can also imitate a camera shutter and a chainsaw, really well!

Also, I need the really expensive one that lights up a whole room.

Cladogram of extant sauria

Huh, I did not realize the relationships were like that, with crocodiles being much more closely related to birds than they are to say, lizards or snakes. I guess the layman categorization of "reptile" is really pretty iffy :)

Yep. Birds are sort of arbitrarily scooped out, because uh, they're birds, dammit, not reptiles!

This chart is really cool. Look at how us mammals branch off from our fellow vertebrates after amphibians but BEFORE reptiles and birds! We are strange creatures.

Eurypterids, P-T extinction

Also, yay! I think it's a eurypterid. I want to ride around on one at the bottom of the sea. It could be my best friend. What should I name it?

Let's see what wikipedia says.

They could be up to 2 meters long!

Only the earlier ones were marine, so most lived in brackish or fresh water. Which means we could frolic in rivers and ponds.

A eurypterid is the state fossil of New York! I wonder if they have been found in Washington, or Michigan.
Although many eurypterids had legs too tiny to do more than allow them to crawl over the sea bottom, a number of forms had large stout legs, and were clearly capable of terrestrial locomotion (like land crabs today)...Some species may have been amphibious, emerging onto land for at least part of their life cycle. They may have been capable of breathing both in water and in air.
So we could frolic on land too!

They went extinct during the "Great Dying," i.e. the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, which as far as we know was the most drastic mass extinction that has ever happened on Earth, with up to 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial species dying, and needless to say many higher taxa being totally wiped out.

Other cool animals that bit the dust:
*Blastoids, which I have always liked. Well, "always" since I found out they existed. Warning: the image is huge for some reason.
*Trilobites (which were a whole class. Their extinction would be equivalent to all insects dying, or all crustaceans.)
*Acanthodians, and placoderms! I love placoderms. There is a cool on in the Ruthven natural history museum.
The Permian was a time of great diversity for insects and other invertebrates, and the largest insects ever to have lived existed during this era. The end-Permian is the only known mass extinction of insects.

Huh, somehow I didn't realize that it was that mass extinction which killed all those animals I liked off. Oh wait, that's because it DIDN'T. Other info says that the placoderms went extinct by the end of the Devonian. Tsk, Wikipedia.

But still, worst mass extinction ever, besides the one I'm living in :( It is my goal to one day write (more) about the Holocene mass extinction.

Okay, now I'm sad/mad.

But anyway, what should I name my imaginary pet Eurypterid? I like "Sherlock."
Weird fortune cookie fortunes.

I want to write fortunes for fortune cookies now. I wonder if that is a lucrative career.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I <3 John Donne.

I should read this after putting it into a format that doesn't hurt my eyes. And this.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Heaven of Animals

The Business of Death.

When I die I would like my body to be consumed by wild animals. I'm not sure how legally possible this is. The second most preferred option would be to be buried in a nice natural area in a thoroughly biodegradable manner.

Speaking of being consumed by wild animals, here's a James Dickey poem on the subject, The Heaven of Animals, courtesy of Carly's blog (hi Carly).

Sticker Shock, Shopping Penguin(!!!), Food 2.0

Okay, first to unload these links:

Sticker Shock. My favorites:

Sticker in Earth Science: "You are free to exercise your First Amendment rights in this class and to identify all stratigraphic layers as being 6,000 years old. We are free to flunk you."

Sticker in Collegiate Chemistry: "Electrons. They're like little tiny ball bearings that fly around the atomic nucleus like planets orbit the sun. Except that they're actually waves. Only what they really are are probability waves. But they do make your MP3 player run, seriously."

Sticker in Creationism for Dummies: "Religious belief rests on a foundation of faith. Seeking empirical evidence for support of one's faith-based beliefs therefore could be considered pointless. Or even blasphemous."
Especially the last one. I love it (read: don't love it) when religious fundamentalists try to have it both ways. Sometimes, science and empirical evidence really does validate every claim made by their 4,000 year old book written by nomadic near-eastern shepherds. Except when it doesn't, in which case science is full of shit anyway, as well as probably evil, and all we need to know is the words in the 4,000 year old book written by nomadic near-eastern shepherds.

The next thing is the most ridiculously adorable thing ever, and apparently it's real. As the opening says, "Meet Lala, a fourteen-year-old king penguin, who likes nothing more than wearing his backpack [shaped like a fucking penguin!!!] and going food-shopping for his family in Japan!" Watch him wobble down the road and load up with fish from the fish store! He lives in a refrigerated room!

Finally, Food 2.0: Chefs as Chemists.

I don't know how/why one would cook with lasers and liquid nitrogen, but... well, let's just say if I had a ludicrous amount of disposable income, I would like to buy large quantities of liquid nitrogen and play with it.

Also, apparently xanthan gum is dried slime, which was fermented by bacteria. I never knew that.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Art vs. Craft

I think I respect craft more than art. I guess to me craft = art + utility, and I suppose there are class connotations as well. Like "art," being "quite useless," is more of an upper-class thing, whereas craft is often denigrated as being inferior to "art." I will have to think about this more though. And look up definitions of art vs. craft. I still need to get myself that dictionary.

Oh, and I should reread that Oscar Wilde essay again. And reread Dorian Gray because it's so awesome. Oh man I really wish he'd written more novels.

Bathtime in Clerkenwell

I don't understand what's going on here, but I think I like it.

I may be biased by the fact that it's full of birds.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007



The stone money thing, and the inter-village caste shifts with imposed dietary taboos is interesting to me.

I want to lie shipwrecked and comatose

lasjlskfjaslkfjalsfjk I just want to move to the tropics. Fuck this. I will eat mangoes and write. Goldfish shoals nibbling at my toes. Fun fun fun in the sun sun sun. alksjflaskjflasjflkj I hate winter. I don't mind cold but I really really mind the short days. And it is




It will not even be fucking WINTER for like another 6 weeks.

I really need to find some snow-related sports to do so that I don't resent winter so hard I kill myself/flip out and quit the program and move to Costa Rica.

I think I need that seasonal denial party NOW, and every day of my life for the next 5 months. Maybe I will just go into seasonal denial mode right now.

It is fucking summer. It might not "look" like that or "feel" like that, but that is just an optical illusion. I am going to drink daiquiris and buy some shorts and make that mango recipe thing before the fruit flies have too much more fun with the mangoes. And wear sunglasses because it is SO BRIGHT OUTSIDE and glance with disdain upon anyone who looks at me funny for it, because they are clearly under the DELUSIONAL impression that it is not sunglasses weather.

La la la, flowers and sunshine everywhere. I will go to the store and rig up a shitload of lights in my apartment and ultraviolet myself like a hothouse plant.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Scary Basement

I think "Scary Basement" would be a good title for a book of poems, or maybe a TV show.

Also, "smew" is a good word.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Wikipedia tells me lots of things about spitting. I learned, from the article on expectorants, that I probably shouldn't bother with cough syrup, and that I definitely shouldn't combine antihistamines with expectorants.

Dammit, I want some decongestants, though. I'm not sure if I should use them or not. I feel the great desire to hack stuff up out of my lungs, but can't quite. I should probably just stop it, drink plenty, and rest.

"In London, transport workers who deal with the public have recently been given equipment to collect saliva when they are spat upon by irate passengers. The police can then analyse the DNA of the offender."

I wonder if they send them a ticket or something.

"Social attitudes towards spitting have changed greatly in western Europe since the Middle Ages. Then, frequent spitting was part of everyday life, and at all levels of society, it was thought ill-mannered to suck back saliva to avoid spitting."

Suck back saliva? Is that the same as swallowing your spit? Were you expected to spit constantly, every time your mouth filled up?

No wonder there were plagues.

That, and people must have gotten dehydrated way more easily.

This sentence, in isolation (actually, even in context) is great:

"Many people in the world spit for different reasons."

"Kudu dung spitting (Bokdrol Spoeg in Afrikaans) is a sport in some parts of Africa. In the competition small, hard pellets of dung from the Kudu (a type of Antelope) are spat, with the furthest distance reached being the winner.

Kudu dung spitting is popular enough to have an annual world championship competition, with the formal sport beginning in 1994. Unlike many similar sports, the distance is measured from the marker to the place the dung pellet comes to rest, rather than where it initially hit the ground."

"Spitting (or "gobbing") was a common practise among English punks in the 1970's. When the punk bands played live, it was seen as part of the punk ritual to spit on them."

That is disgusting.

LOL. I don't know why I find gleeking so amusing. Maybe it's the name. I cannot do it on command.

Children's Street Culture.

Oh, awesome: "Phlegm may be a carrier of larvae of intestinal parasites."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

moonwalking bird, hagfish scones

Okay, I think wtf_nature is my new favorite livejournal community.

Check out this video of an amazing bird doing the fucking moonwalk. This bird has insane moves. I really don't understand how he glides backwards on the branch like that.

God, am I going to need a "dancing birds" tag?

Oh, and holy shit: Scones made with hagfish slime.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween costumes

Oscar the Dismayed Cake
To digress further (from here), I was once Bunnicula for Halloween at about that age (7). I had bunny ears and a tail, and vampire fangs. And a long, thin parsnip with a couple of holes in it (meant to resemble a drained carrot).

That was actually a pretty sweet Halloween costume. I was going to be Medusa this year but instead I was nothing, because I was sick.

I always had a penchant for obscure and sometimes difficult-or-impossible-to-make Halloween costumes. Like once I wanted to be that venus fly trap thing that comes out of the pipe in Super Mario Brothers and spits fireballs at you.

So my mother, bless her, stayed up late sewing this costume for me.

Some people actually got that I was a plant, and assumed I was "Lizzie" from Little Shop of Horrors. I think everyone else thought I was a crappy Oscar the Grouch. (If it was meant to be Oscar, it would have been the worst fucking Oscar the Grouch ever, really.)

I think I had a tassel or a fire-colored koosh ball on a string that I was going to throw out my mouth-opening as the "fireball."

I think that was the most unusual Halloween costume of mine that actually came into being, albeit in a crude form. None of that witch or princess crap.

Last year I was the pallid bust of Pallas. One person at the party actually got it, thankfully. But the raven kept falling off my shoulder, so I set him aside for the night. Well-executed, I think that costume could be awesome, but of course it was crude and last-minute, so it consisted mostly of said raven, a bedsheet, and a laurel-crown made of pipecleaners.

digression, qualms about SDN

Ok, yesterday I attended a really interesting lecture by Steven Millhauser (why must there be 2 legitimate ways of spelling Steven/Stephen? One is sure to get it wrong. What are other names like that? The only other one I can think of now is Eric/Erik.), which reminded me of a story idea I had in a hypnogogic/hypnopompic state (I always get those confused as well), and also made me think I had to really re-evaluate the terms of my novel or its overall aesthetics or something.

So at the reception I got to talk to him about this and explain my idea, and his advice was very helpful, as were the suggestions of others in the conversation... so I now have a few books to possibly look at. I think the most important things might be:

a) keeping the momentum of the story, the continual narrative thrust that the SDC creates (it does give it a pretty specific structure, fortunately, with a ramping-up of stakes, a beginning and end, etc.)

b) making the digressions seem ultimately "relevant," ultimately seeming to cohere, as opposed to just "now let me go off on a tangent."

Been thinking about the BM character and what he might be. I feel like he's not an only child, but can't decide what the sister (because it would be a younger sister) ought to be like.

Though I was feeling sick I still ended up writing like 1500 words yesterday. I think I'm in the mid-8000s, which is like 25 doublespaced MS word pages or so. A bunch of that is the brainstorming/overall gist of where I want things to go rather than specific portions that would end up in the novel itself. But it's all good.

Oh, another thing I'm worried about is... it's going to start off small and pastoral and end up big and crazy. And I guess I'm afraid that the tone would morph too much throughout the novel. Not that that's a bad thing per se, but like, I'm afraid that the readers who would be into the later parts of the book might not be into the earlier parts, and vice versa, or at least that the terms would have changed. Hm. I think maybe I can keep the H and M story as a tone-and-content-consistent thing throughout? I dunno. I just feel like the people who will be into alien fashion protocol and transhumanist intrigues might not be the same people who are also interested in, say, the Tuffy story or the uh, more normal domestic fiction. And vice versa.

But I could argue that that's the idea, that many tones/genres/forms can all be interconnected, blah blah blah. There's a problem with that, though. You CAN argue in favor of all sorts of shit on a theoretical-aesthetic level, but that's pretty meaningless if it's not a solid work of art, which coheres intuitively to the reader.

Television Tropes and Idioms

Nightmare Fuel. I think this will be a useful wiki.

And here's one video, Balloon Land, which was linked off it. It's way fucked, and the pincushion man is INCREDIBLY PHALLIC. His body resembles a safety pin around which is a pincushion. And the safety pin is unhooked, so you've got this big quivering metal erection coming up out of his lower abdomen. Which, at one point, he thrusts at a couple of characters in an attempt to pop them.

The first site reminded me of one of my own "nightmare fuel" moments, which was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I saw in the theater when I was about... seven? I remember myself as being seven, at least. The part where the bad guy dips the shoe in the uh, "dip," and he melts and dissolves. That disturbed me so much that we left the theater.

I always have had a sympathy for inanimate objects. Admittedly, this one was anthropomorphized, with eyes and movement and emotions and such. But I also remember crying over a leaf. A crushed leaf. A fictional crushed leaf. (Margaret, eat your heart out.) It was in Howliday Inn, part of the Bunnicula series. A rambunctious cat plays with a leaf and "crushes it to powder" or something, and I cried, thinking about that poor leaf.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cloud Appreciation Society

Hehe, there's a Cloud Appreciation Society.

From their manifesto:

WE BELIEVE that clouds are unjustly maligned
and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.

We think that they are Nature’s poetry,
and the most egalitarian of her displays, since
everyone can have a fantastic view of them.

We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it.
Life would be dull if we had to look up at
cloudless monotony day after day.

We seek to remind people that clouds are expressions of the
atmosphere’s moods, and can be read like those of
a person’s countenance.

Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked.
They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul.
Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save
on psychoanalysis bills.

There's a cloud-shaped thing in between these manifesto-points, and when I copy and paste it it just says "cloud." And I am confused and want to know how to make it a cloud shape.

Also, this puts things in perspective.