I still have the bricklayer's tape measure. And the trowel. and the hat. There are other bits of odds and ends of yours that I have -- a handkerchief, your father's railroad horn, just to mention a few.
But more importantly, I have what you taught me. Or at least I'm working toward having it:
Compassion. You saw a lot in your life, many things that have made people hateful and bitter. You saw your homeland taken in war. You saw prisoners of war and refugees. You knew hunger and fear. But they never drove you. You came out of your experiences the better, wanting to help those in need, even when you didn't have much yourself. I'm sure I don't know all the sacrifices you made providing for eight children. I have only three, but I know what I've done for them. And I know what I have done for them, I learned from you and Mom.
Desire. I look at my own kids reading, learning, growing, and sometimes, it's frustrating. Especially the reading -- they get so buried in books I can't get their attention when I need help. I was probably like that as a kid. Buried in books. Always wanting to learn something new. Because you did. One of the things you provided in our home was books and a desire to learn. I hope I pass that desire on to my children, because in them I see reflected the upbrining I had, and that is a monument, I hope, you enjoy seeing.
Faith. I know you grew up in a different religion, and even after you joined the Mormon church, had many things to say about the furvalente Mormonjes. But I recall that day in the temple when we were there with you -- your four sons. What a fine day that was. Ad I recall you saying that you felt like church was the only place where the devil couldn't get you. I remember that, sitting in the chapel, walking the halls, seeing all the familiar faces. I feel like I'm at home. And I know it's my job to bring that feeling home to my own family. Just like you did.
Love. You never gave me reason to doubt you loved me, my brothers and sisters, or my mother, no matter what inventions my teenage mind might have come up with. Maybe I look back with rose-colored glasses -- but that's as it should be. Because maybe there were times you thought I was a real pain in the butt. But I never heard you say it. And I don't think I ever felt it.
Patience. What goes for love goes for patience. I wish I had your patience. That's one I'm still working on the most -- maybe it's the one I lack the most. But I have wonderful role models in patience in you and Mom.
Hard Work. Yes, I moaned a lot about work as a teenager, working with you and then Al in construction. You put up with me far longer than you should have. And even after I left construction for what I thought I wanted to do, it took me ten years to figure out that even work I enjoyed doing is work if I go at it with the wrong attitude. You worked at a job you knew you could do and that kept us in a house and in clothes and food and books and pretty much everything we wanted, and I rarely heard you complain about it. You probably complained a lot on the inside, as I do now, but you rarely said it aloud. And that left an impression on me. And it's something I hope I can pass on to my kids. I'm grateful now for the boxes and buckets of nails and screws and other bits that I keep, following your lead. I'm grateful for the tools you left me, but I'm far more grateful for the opportunities you gave me to use them and to learn from you. I'd be far less handy around the house, in my own bumbling way, if you hadn't caught me by the neck and taught me a few things when I probably wanted to do anything else in the world but be there.
Parents put up with a lot. Maybe they think that if they can thump the skulls of their thick children long enough, they might learn something. I know that's the attitude you had. And you were right.
(Def. 4) A user response to published content on the Internet, written in a designated comments section, often below the published content.
Folks, if you’re making comments on the Internet, you’re a commenter. If you’re the paid professional announcer, news anchor, host, essayist, unpaid amateur blogger or what have you, you’re a commentator. Comments, made by commenters, follow what is said by the commentator. If the commentator follows up by making a comment on his or her content, then he or she is a commenter in the comments on his or her own work, for which he or she is the commentator.
Just another public service from the Grammar Nazi. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.
I’ve been listening to some old Clay Shirky videos on
YouTube, and have stumbled across something I’m sure I’d heard before but now
has great implications for me as I want to write and publish books.
He says the following in a presentation he gives on
cognitive surplus, arguing that the Internet is leading people to use their
surplus time and brain power to share, create, and collaborate in ways we’ve
never seen before.
First, there’s this:
Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not
be worth sitting still for.
So, how to include readers in the worlds I write about? I
Then he says this:
We’re going to look at every place that a user or a reader
or a listener or a viewer has been locked out, has been served up a passive or
fixed or canned experience and ask ourselves: If we carved out a little bit of
the cognitive surplus we now recognize we can deploy, could we make a good
thing happen? And I’m betting the answer is yes.
Again, reinforcing that a shared, collaborative environment
is going to be part of any creative endeavor.
But not any creative endeavor.
First, I think a creative endeavor has to have a critical
mass of followers. Until that mass is achieved, writers can get by easily with
Amazon and GoodReads reviews, occasional presence there, as well as presence on
blogs and social media. When the audience reaches a critical mass – and I have
no idea what that mass might look like – the writer has to create his or her own
space for the mass to congregate. Creating Rivendell will have to wait until
there are many elves to populate it. And if they ever come at all.
Every writer has his or her own tick. Yours might be the
run-on sentence. The one-word paragraph. Mine tends to be dashes – I love
But what about if someone doesn’t like your tick? Up until
now, they could rail against the machine futilely, seeing as your books went
through professional editing and were printed and unless it’s a non-fiction
book you made up entirely, there’s almost nothing that’s going to get your book
pulled from the shelves.
Yes, I said until now.
Per this blog post (warning, naughty words ahead) UK author
Graeme Reynolds’ book “High Moor 2: Moonstruck” was pulled from Amazon after
the company received a complaint from a reader that too many words in the book
were – gasp – hyphenated.
Apparently Amazon had received a complaint from a reader
about the fact that some of the words in the book were hyphenated. And when
they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over
100 words in the 90,000 word novel contained that dreaded little line. This,
apparently “significantly impacts the readability of your book” and, as a
result “We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to
Reynolds seems to think everything was entirely automated,
from complaint processing to hyphen-counting, if I’m reading his post
correctly. Or some of it comes from humans reading from scripts. Nevertheless,
through a thicket of f-bombs Reynolds outlines his understandable frustration
about having to explain basic English punctuation rules to someone relying on a
complaint, an algorithm, and a script to resolve the issue, all rolled in with
a polemic about the questionable writing that Amazon doesn’t seem to bother
about in the Kindle universe.
Reynolds’ plight (the book was eventually restored for sale
on Amazon, hyphens intact) has attracted someattention.
And that attention’s a good thing, as it helped get his book
back on track – though it’s unclear if the eggheads at Amazon finally
recognized their part of the confusion and just fixed things; though you’d
think they’d be bragging about it/apologizing for it if that were the case.
So there’s something else to think about. That a big meanie
faceless corporation run by a bald man messed with the livelihood of a writer
is only part of the story – the bigger part is that one complaint from who
knows who got a book derailed and that derailler seems to have walked off
anonymously. Was it a sincere, if punctuationally-inept reader, or a competitor
to Reynolds? Do grammar Nazis wield such power in this new publishing landscape?
Apparently, we don’t get to know. Reviews at Amazon only mention the hyphen
situation in high-ranking reviews, so there’s no good going there.
But unmasking the culprit isn’t the end game here – that one
person had such power is, however, amazing and a bit creepy. What other
complaints are slouching toward Bethlehem, set to derail the progress of
another book? I live in fear of dash-haters.
For the last few years, we’ve heard report after report that
Voyager 1, launched from Earth in 1977 to explore the Solar System, had left
the heliosphere, the invisible magnetic and charged particle bubble in space
dominated by the Sun, and had encountered the heliopause, the point in space
where the Sun’s influence ends and interstellar space begins.
That may have finally actually happened, thanks to data
recorded by the probe in 2012 and 2013:
The density of the particles around Voyager 1 was 40 times
higher than scientists had previously observed when the space probe was still
in the outer layers of the heliosphere, the giant bubble of charged particles
and magnetic fields that surrounds the sun and the planets in our solar system.
Voyager 1 team members concluded that the spacecraft had exited the heliosphere
and entered a new cosmic realm. After researchers went back and looked at old
data, they concluded that Voyager 1 crossed into interstellar space on August
Also, consider this: The data coming back to us from Voyager
1 is recorded on old-fashioned magnetic tape, then relayed to Earth. Magnetic
tape, capable of recording up to 64 megabytes of data. How robust must that
little probe be? Damn robust. The recorder is set to shut down in 2015, leaving
only direct communication with Earth possible – until the probe’s plutonium
power source dies out in about 2025.
It’s part of a small club of man-made objects that have
either left the Solar System or will within my lifetime.
Sony has been hacked. And not that North Korea is suspected in the hacking.
confuses me is the reaction:
something I’m missing? Yes, these hackers have made allusions to 9/11 if the
Sony film “The Interview” is released – and it appears Sony has pulled the film
from release after three major cinema chains in the United States said they
would not play the film on is proposed Christmas Day release.
reading everywhere that these guys are terrorists. Here’s what David Auerbach
is saying at Slate:
attack is particularly damaging to Sony’s rank and file, the hack itself poses
no threat to people’s lives or critical infrastructure. But by so effectively
creating a climate of fear and making threats of actual violence, the Guardians
of Peace have raised the specter of genuine cyberterroristic acts to come.
These acts aren’t scary because they’re ingenious, but because they could be
easily replicated by anyone with the right resources and enough malice.
Willmore, writing at Buzzfeed, has the most ludicrous things to say about the
engages with how ludicrous it can be that pop culture can bridge such enormous
gaps between people as well as how unstable it can be as common ground, but it
still ultimately has faith in pop culture’s inclusiveness and ability to shake
the world. And in this case, it kind of has, though not in the way anyone might
have guessed. “You know what’s more destructive than a nuclear bomb?” Kim asks
quavery sincerity in the movie. “Words.” Not to mention jokes.
mistaken, the film isn’t meant to bridge cultures – it’s just entertainment. A
paranoid hermit state may not see it that way, granted. But it’s no worse than
North Korean propaganda out there depicting the United States as a vast Detroit
landscape of shattered houses and factories where the beneficent North Koreans
are there to pass out cakes to the starving masses.
ought to laugh it off. That’s our nature. But then again, our nature is also to
use predator drones on Muslim weddings, spy on every last person in the world
and endorse torture. (And we’re also not above conducting cyber attacks of our
own. Stuxnet, anyone?) So maybe I understand the North Korean paranoia. I just
don’t understand the paranoia I’m seeing here.
wants hacked material from Sony not to be published in the United States by
media outlets who would publish any hacked material if it came from, say,
Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning – but they want to draw a line here. Why?
(And it seems Slate, in publishing this piece by Jacob Weisberg, wants to have
its cake and eat it too. Justin Peters, writing at Slate, seems to think the provenance of the hack shouldn't proclude publishing if there is real news interest present.
decision to desist from publishing this stuff should be based on ethics and
respect for the right of free expression, not legal pressure. News outlets
should obviously cover the story of the hack itself, the effect on Sony, the
question of how it happened, and who’s responsible. This is a big and
legitimate news story. But when it comes to exploiting the fruits of the
digital break-in, journalists should voluntarily withhold publication. They
shouldn’t hold back because they’re legally obligated to—I don’t believe they
are—but because there’s no ethical justification for publishing this damaging,
stolen material. (I am articulating my opinion here, not Slate’s policy. While
the magazine has been judicious in its coverage of the emails, it did publish
this article about indications of a gender pay gap among Sony executives and
the editors will continue to apply their own judgment about when and whether to
cover stories arising from the hack as they emerge.)
wouldn’t be saying this if the information was being leaked from, say a big oil
company or the Koch brothers.
Macavoy says in The Newsroom, we as a nation didn’t used to scare so easily.
Why be scared now?
First of all, I had no idea Percy Grainger wrote a piece of
music called “Spoon River,” dedicated to Edgar Lee Masters. Obviously, Masters’
anthology struck a chord with the famed composer.
I’ve written a fewposts on my recent reading of Masters’
New Spoon River, so I won’t re-hash them here. I will go on to say that with
Sinclair Lewis, Masters has done his part to preserve the times and seasons of
the United States in the early 20th century, probably moreso than F.
Scott Fitzgerald, who portrayed the new United States that the people in Lewis’
and Masters’ novels were fleeing to.
I’m fascinated by this kind of slice-of-life writing, which
was evidently very popular back then. Sinclair Lewis originally intended to
write his famous novel Babbitt as 24 hours in the life of one George Babbitt of
Zenith, but that went on to different ends. Also, there is Thornton Wilder’s
Our Town that paints a pleasant if melancholy picture of small-town life in the
What would we write today if we were writing slice of life?
We’ve seen it all – but what could be done unique to the age? Maybe the telling
of tales of a group of Facebook friends, or friends on some other social
network? I’m afraid it’s been done. But something. Something.
I often wish Edgar Lee Masters had continued writing an
anthology every decade, with others taking up the torch as he passed on and as
time passed. What would the inhabitants of Spoon River be saying, say, in the
1960s, as Chicago enveloped them, and as time passed, and as the inner city and
even some of the suburbs slipped into the control of the Mafia and crumbled
into crime. Would the characters of the 1910s still have descendants there, or
would they all have moved on? What would the new inhabitants of Spoon River
say, not knowing the town’s history but feeling oddly connected to it or
disconnected to it through their own eyes and through the lives of their
They say long ago there was a village here
With green lawns and apple orchards
Where people rode in buggies
And sniped at their neighbors.
Spoon River, they called it
Surrounded by farms and farmers
Home to the banks and the general stores and the churches
All I see is asphalt
And concrete and crumbing red-brick buildings
Where are the orchards?
Where are the trees?
The sniping, I knew that well, killed as I was by a stray
Someone fired from somewhere at someone else.
Where are the apple trees in Spoon River?
Passer-by, I lie underneath them.
Never having tasted their apples.
Or something like that. Sustained for three hundred or so
It could be done. By someone who knows a Spoon River,
subsumed by concrete and time.
Making of the President 1960, The; by Theodore White.
Read in 2017
Asterix Chez les Helvetes, by Uderzo and Goscinny. 48 pages.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Double Down, by Jeff Kinney. 218 pages.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Old School. By Jeff Kinney, 217 pages.
Essential C.S. Lewis, The; edited by Lyle W. Dorsett. 536 pages.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. 184 pages.
Good Intentions, by Ogden Nash. 180 pages.
Le Bouclier Arverne, by Uderzo and Goscinny. 48 pages.
Non Campus Mentis, by Anders Henriksson. 150 pages.
Up the Down Staircase, by Bel Kaufman. 340 pages.
Ze page total: 1,921 pages.
The Best Part
Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
"In my experience Miss Crisplock tends to write down exactly what one says," Vetinari observed. "It's a terrible thing when jouralists do that. It spoils the fun. One feels instinctively that it's cheating somehow."