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Friday, April 30, 2004

Four Whole Fried Ducks -- And A Coke

Oh, yeah. There's an article too.

Posted byCOMTE on 8:40 AM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Blockin' Out The Scenery/Breakin' My Mind

Generally, I'm not subject to epiphanies or other similar revalatory insights, but every once in a blue moon a thought pops into my head that makes the old 100-watt above my noggin switch on.

Had one of those last night at exactly 3:01 a.m. (I know, because that's what time the clock read when I woke up out of a sound sleep). I'd been dreaming about being at an Annex Company meeting. John Galt (not his real name, but that's what we call him in the blogosphere) was diagramming something on an overhead projector. BenLau and SGNP were singing some sort of religious hymn, while I was trying to shush them up. Somewhere, the last strains of a live version of The 5 Man Electric Band's "Signs" was just winding down.

At some point I sat down on an extremely cushy white sofa, the kind that you sort of half sit, half recline in and big enough that your feet extend outward, but not really down toward the floor. Also sitting on the sofa was a young woman whom I didn't recognize. We sat there side-by-side for a while while John Galt continued talking, and then suddenly I reached out and put my arm around her, not in that stereotypical "I'll pretend I'm yawning and surreptitiously sneak my arm around my date's shoulder" way, but with quite innocent deliberation. Evidentally, this was okay by her, because she actually raised her head to allow my arm to slip in underneath it.

You know those kind of dreams where the physical sensation is so specific, so real that you can actually feel or smell something? It was definitely one of those I could feel the weight of her head as it pressed into the crook of my elbow, the boniness of her shoulder where my hand cupped around it, the tug of her fingers as she reached up to grasp my fingertips; it was as solid and specific as anything I've ever felt in my life.

And of course, that's when I woke up.

But, even that was unusual. Normally, if I'm awakened from a deep dream-state, I'll feel groggy, dazed and semi-coherent while my brain tries to cope with the sudden transition from sleep to consciousness. But, this was completely different. I was wide awake, totally alert and aware of my suroundings, all the tens of billions of neurons and synapses shifting effortlessly from one state of being to the next with nary a hint of disorientation.

And almost instantly I had THE IDEA: I know why people in this country are so fat! It's because we don't hug each other enough!

I should point out, that this "epiphany" such as it is, isn't actually a completely original thought. In fact, I can pin-point exactly where the germ of the idea originated. On Tuesday evening I attended a benefit performance of a short play called How To Be Cool done as a fundraiser for Union Garage. Near the end of the piece, the narrator describes an exhibit from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair that reproduced experiments done by Dr. Harry Harlow, a University of Wisconsin behavioral scientist, which demonstrated that the need for physical contact was so great in primate species that it could override even the desire for food.

In the experiment infant monkeys were removed from their mothers shortly after birth and placed in an environment with two "surrogate mothers", one made of wire mesh, but having the capacity to dispense nourishment, while the other was covered in soft cloth and kept warm, but without being able to provide food. Almost exclusively, the infants would cling to the soft, warm "mom" going only to the other when their hunger became so great that it overcame their need for contact. As soon as they were full, however, back to soft mom they went.

So, while that was obviously the source for my idea, what really hit me was the notion that: What if there isn't a soft/warm mom around, but ONLY one made of wire mesh dispensing food? If that's all you've got, then of course you're going to try to get as much comfort from it as possible!

Now, this probably won't strike most people as being a particularly profound idea, but at the time it sure seemed like one.

I guess what I'm saying is: do your pudgy friends a favor and give 'em a big hug today. It'll be better than a hot fudge sundae, and they'll probably apreciate it a whole lot more!

Posted byCOMTE on 12:06 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Clean Bill Of Health

Good news! The ENT specialist concurred with the "hairline fracture" diagnosis, so evidentally I won't be looking like W.C. Fields for the next several weeks -- just have to avoid bumping nose-first into anything for a while.

Posted byCOMTE on 10:58 AM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Take Four Ibuprofen And Call Me In The Morning

Well, I guess I got lucky. As of this morning the minor swelling on my schnoz is all but gone, and the pain has subsided to a dull ache. I have an appointment with the ENT on Thursday, but my guess is at this point all he's going to be able to tell me is, "don't do that again!".

The way things have been going for me lately, I don't think I'm going to plan any trips to Vegas in the near future -- I feel like I'm pretty close to zeroing out my luck account for the next few months.

Posted byCOMTE on 4:49 PM

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Monday, April 26, 2004

(Tell Me Why) I Don't Like Mondays

I just broke my nose. By running into one of our vice presidents.

I'm thinking from now on, I should just stay in bed on Monday mornings.

On the plus side, the E/R nurse clued me into a nifty household tip: Hydrogen Peroxide is great for removing blood stains from clothing, especially whites!

And I didn't pass out when the nurse gave me a Tetanus booster!

Posted byCOMTE on 10:53 AM

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

And The Hits, They Just Keep Comin'

Well, now the Animaniacs theme song has been replaced by Van Morrison:

When it's not always raining there'll be days like this
When there's no one complaining there'll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this
When you don't need to worry there'll be days like this
When no one's in a hurry there'll be days like this
When you don't get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there'll be days like this

When you don't need an answer there'll be days like this
When you don't meet a chancer there'll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there'll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they're not playing tricks
When you don't have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it's nobody's business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there'll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there'll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there'll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this

-- Which, is sort of ironic given that the sentiments therein are directly in opposition to how my day is STILL going...

Posted byCOMTE on 1:35 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

It's Driving Me Insaney

I've had the theme song from Animaniacs stuck in my head since I woke up this morning --

-- which, given the way my day has gone so far, seems totally appropriate.

Posted byCOMTE on 10:12 AM

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004


A little payback for all those people who thought we were just a bunch of nerds:

How Star Trek Inspired Advances In Personal Technology

Posted byCOMTE on 2:52 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Leave The Light On

Nightmares are usually not something that bother me much. I don't recall ever having more than perhaps a handful of serious, hard-core, flat-out scary dreams during the entire course of my childhood; maybe one or two of the standard I'm-running-in-place-but-not-going-anywhere variety, and perhaps even a few truly terrifying nocturnal encounters. Dreaming for me has almost always been a pleasurable experience.

So, when one does come down the subconscious pipeline, I tend to take notice, and last night's was one that just doesn't seem to want to fade back into that place where most dreams usually retreat to after several hours of wakefulness. Possibly, the somewhat unique (at least for me) nature of the dream might have something to do with its lingering effect:

I'm doing a show, the style isn't terribly clear, but it seems to be some sort of "screwball comedy" (no doubt inspired by last night's viewing of the 1940 Howard Hawks classic His Girl Friday with some friends). I'm performing to a packed house, but the performance space seems unusual -- not a typical stage house, something more along the lines of an improvised space inside a store or some similar business establishment. People keep wandering in-and-out of the playing area, seemingly either oblivious to our performance, or just being stupid and rude.

At some point the play ends, and everyone except for a few people -- mostly the cast --leave. Then in one of those it-made-sense-at-the-time jumps, suddenly the entire building has been flung into the air, like Dorothy's shed in The Wizard Of Oz and I'm holding on for dear life! I can see clear blue sky out a window, but the ground below is spinning at incredible speed! Somehow I manage to gather together a mound of softgoods: pillows, blankets, chair pads and the like to hopefully cushion the inevitable impact, but it never comes. At some point I realize my friend Dawn is somewhere in the building, and I start yelling for her, and eventually she answers (in the dream the tornadoing building doesn't make any sound), but from somewhere distant, and although we can hear each other we don't seem to be able to find one another.

It's at about this point that I wake up. It's 4:35 a.m. by the glowing red LED's on my alarm clock. My heart is pounding and my breathing is shallow and rapid, like when you get a sudden surge of adrenalin. I lay in my berth staring up at the ceilind for probably 15 minutes or so, while my pulse and respiration return to normal, and eventually fall back asleep until the alarm goes off promptly at 6:30.

I have absolutely no idea what caused it (aside from the reference above), but whatever it was I hope I don't get another dose of it tonight!

Posted byCOMTE on 2:19 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Monday, April 12, 2004

It's A Space Geek Party!

Happy Yuri's Night. See you at The Space Needle?

Posted byCOMTE on 4:30 PM

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Friday, April 09, 2004

Water Flowing Underground

I don’t know why exactly, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dying. Not in a morbid sense, but simply from the perspective of someone who is struggling with the realization that – statistically speaking – my life is for all intents-and-purposes roughly half over. Although I have a reasonable expectation of living another 35 – 40 years or so, perhaps a bit longer, it’s still pretty clear to me that with each passing day more of my life is now behind me than ahead.

Part of this funk I suppose is a direct result of nearly being killed recently. Granted, all I have to show for the experience is a scabby knee and a bruise on my side, but at the same time I realize how extremely lucky I was not to have been more seriously injured – perhaps even dead. It wouldn’t have taken much more speed on the part of the hapless Fed-Ex driver to turn a little nudge into a substantial impact; it’s all a matter of physics. A slight change in the delta for velocity gets factored into the equation; a little more speed translates into a corresponding increase in kinetic energy and – whamo! I go from being knocked over to being thrown out into oncoming traffic or crushed beneath the wheels of a larger delivery truck. How often is it possible to calculate the difference between living and dying down to a few decimal points?

As a result, recently I’ve found my mind occasionally drifting off into speculation about where I am today versus where I thought I’d be back when I was 20 or 25, when the whole adventure of adulthood was still a relatively new concept for me. Like most people, I probably had a lot of the same expectations about what moving out into the “real world” entailed. Honestly, even though I always knew that art would be a big part of my life, and perhaps if I was lucky even my vocation, I still envisioned it in more-or-less conventional terms; I’d be married, probably have a couple of kids, live in a house, own a dog, and basically live the kind of life that I’d always been told was the norm.

The problem is, I never really lived the kind of textbook existence most people think of when they picture the standard nuclear family. So, it might be said my current lifestyle is in some sense a reaction to (or perhaps against?) a pattern of normalcy that never actually existed for me. It doesn’t take paying a shrink $80 an hour to figure out that anybody who hasn’t married by the age of 40 probably has some commitment issues to contend with, and looking back it’s pretty easy for me to understand why that might be the case. Still, there are days when I wake up, stare at the “ceiling” (only inches above my head) and wonder, in the manner of David Byrne: “How did I get here?”

It’s not an easy question to answer, and at this stage in my life I’m not even sure if it’s all that relevant. Besides, it begs another question that is perhaps more to the point, namely: “Where am I going?” From where I lie, sit or stand right now, that’s anybody’s guess. I’d like to think that by the time I take my final breath, kicking and squalling out of life in pretty much the same manner that I entered, I could at least be content with the knowledge of having left things just a little bit better than how I found them. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, adolescent fantasies to the contrary, I’m most likely never going to be rich, famous or adored by millions, but I still have enough optimism to believe that I can have some modest influence on things, if not on a large scale, then at least within the small sphere of space-time in which I live day-to-day.

Now, all I have to do is figure out what that might be and hopefully, I’ll have an answer sometime before the end of the second half – assuming it doesn’t come any sooner than expected.

Posted byCOMTE on 1:48 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Throw Off Your Chains!

Woo Hoo!

My office just went "business casual" five days a week!

Posted byCOMTE on 11:30 AM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Liberal Media

Air America, the new liberal talk-radio network went on the air yesterday in a number of markets, although strangely not currently here in Seattle. However, most of the affiliates have streaming content at their websites -- unfortunately mostly in Real Audio format.

Luckily, Portland's KPOJ AM 620 is offering it in an MS compatible format, which works through firewalls. So, if you're at work and want to listen in, this is the place to go.

Posted byCOMTE on 9:45 AM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

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