Thursday, June 29, 2006

Yesterday afternoon, I played tennis for the first time in over twelve years. It was delightful. I especially enjoyed rolling my right ankle every few minutes. Today, I am basking in the severe knee pain and elbow tightness of Physical Fitness. I shan't move from my desk without a bottle of pain killers.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Yesterday, as I paddled furiously toward shore amid the thunder and gale of a genuine prairie tempest, two of my most irrational fears faced off in what sportswriters often call "a battle to the death featuring spiders and lightning."

At the initial post-decisive moment, I sat hunched in an aluminum canoe on open water screaming incoherently as solid white bolts flickered and cracked all around us. The rain, which moments before had been coming down at a medium drizzle, doubled, tripled in force, until now the angry droplets fell in sheets and hit my neck with the force of cold coins.

We only endeavored to cross the river after I insisted we cower for several minutes in the relative safety of a spacious limestone nook opposite. Coaxed out by fellow captains, we made for the group, seeking the traditional safety of numbers (unaware in my frantic state that the statistical probability of being struck by lightning could only increase by surrounding myself with dozens of half-vertical humans).

A family of three wisely cowered amid the cage-like root structure of a shoreline oak. Disoriented and fearful in the open water, I gave chase, slapping at the river with my paddle — left side, right side — and doing little, if anything, to affect an increase in knottage. (In point of fact, I did actually decrease overall canoe efficiency by inadvertently splashing cold river water into the face of my companion at the stern [the one person in a position to help me, as said companion did have, I found, a glowing résumé of canoeing skills that were, for the most part, counterweighted by my utter lack thereof], causing both of us to spend much more time exposed to all manner of stormy peril than was absolutely necessary.)

When at last we joined the family of three under the thick roots of oak on the opposite bank, my arms were burning and weak at the energy I'd just expended (for naught, mostly). Hands reduced to useless noodles, I grasped and fumbled for purchase among the weeds and mud, all the while certain that this tree — above all others — would be struck by lightning, its root structure illuminated by extraordinary heat, and the five poor souls clamoring for shelter therein melted beyond all recognition.

And but so upon finally wedging the canoe against the shore, I at last had occasion to inspect our canopy and there did see — horror of horrors — that every single square inch of it was covered in thick, creamy webs, and that within those thick creamy webs lurked what surely must be the largest, most vile arachnids ever to crawl the lower forty-eight.

It was then that my two most irrational fears faced off. Because it was then that I had to chose to either abandon my sinking bark and hunker down with millions of fanged critters, or soldier forth, paddling along the banks, exposed to the high-voltage fingers of fate. I opted to hunker down, my fear of rogue electrics winning out over that of deadly spiders with a taste for human flesh.

I planted my feet in the mud and squatted on my hams until the storm passed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Watch Frontline tonight. Scuttlebutt around the precinct is that this'll be a good one.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I could sit here and attempt to describe my favorite thing about Andersonville Midsommarfest, but it will mean more if you find out for yourself.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Currently, I'm reading Kafka and the first story of the Complete Frickin' Works, "Description of a Struggle," has imparted to me a strange sense of clarity, because I'd forgotten or lost my voice and — and I don't mean to sound all writerly — that right there signals the brutal death of whatever I'm trying to accomplish which, in this case, is the same short story about an odd young couple that every creative writing student this side of the Prime Meridian wrote in his first year workshop. So how did this clarity come about? It's hard for me to say, but it has something to do with the way Kafka's personal neurosis and self-awareness hides within his characters — but then doesn't hide. There's always a limb showing. A piece of himself. The way this playful, gradual revelation manages to shine through an oft-clunky translation struck me and I achieved the aforementioned clarity and was able to digest my dinner and get a good night's sleep for a change. Of course, I know that all writers lurk somewhere in their prose. I know that. It's impossible for them not to (no?). But without getting too mired in literary theory, let me leave it at this: I see where I'm going. So let's go.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I went to the Printer's Row Book Supernova on Sunday. It was a blast. If you've never tried negotiating throngs of dorks toting twice their body weight in obscure science fiction hardcovers while trying to keep track of your seven-person browsing party, you've not yet lived. The exhilaration washed over me like an ocean wave. An ocean wave made of dorks. Dorks who my browsing party insisted all looked exactly like me.


I meandered from booth to booth, careful not to blow my budget on a rare vegetarian cookbook or platinum Bible. And then, because I enjoy being the most predictable person on the face of the earth, I lost all fiscal control when I saw a first edition hardcover of "Infinite Jest."

"The library, and step on it!"

If there were an occupation that comprised sitting atop a mountain of books and sliding down its slope on my stomach, I would be the best there ever was. I want to rub books all over myself. Then pour coffee on my head. And wrap myself in cheeseburgers.

I have passion, after all.

Monday, June 05, 2006

My short review of "An Inconvenient Truth":

Basically an adapted version of the slide show Gore has been presenting to audiences throughout the world (one of his presentations comprises much of the footage), "An Inconvenient Truth" provides a basic explanation of the science behind global warming — which explanation boils down to: the burning of fossil fuels creates a glut of atmospheric CO2 which in turn traps an increasing percentage of heat from the sun which in turn leads to higher temperatures — and the consequences both of current warming and that which climatologists project will occur over the next ten years and beyond.

It's compelling stuff.

Throughout the film there are interspersed several intercalary segments in which Gore talks about his childhood on a farm, about his love of the land, and about some personal experiences that have lead him to undertake the global warming slide show tour. Some of it seemed a bit like a campaign commercial, which I found annoying; however, some of it was interesting. If nothing else, it works to convince you that Gore is genuinely concerned about global warming, and that he'll continue to educate people about it.

Some of the most interesting portions of the film deal with the well-organized (and well-funded) campaign to manufacture doubt about global warming. There are some hilarious examples of how similar the current campaign is to the one waged by the cigarette industry when scientists began to find that smoking caused lung cancer. In one segment, Gore points out that in their internal memos cigarette manufacturers agreed that they could delay regulations by creating doubt in the minds of the public. It worked for years. And the oil companies and energy companies know that it worked.

At about this point in the film, Gore points out that of the last 950 studies published in peer-reviewed science journals, all concluded that global warming exists and that human activity plays a significant role in it. He then says that despite this fact, 56% of news articles in major newspapers during the same period have claimed that there is disagreement in the scientific community about the human impact and even about the existence of global warming. It's mind-boggling stuff. Why are people willing to believe "scientists" who are bankrolled by the very corporations that profit off of public confusion and whose scholarship quickly withers under the scrutiny of peer review? Meanwhile, corporations accuse actual scientists of inventing global warming to reap the windfall of research dollars so that they can continue to study global warming. (Seriously. Some people actually believe this.)

In the end, Gore outlines some common-sense solutions to the current crisis that can help reduce global warming.

You can get most of the information HERE. I encourage everyone to look into it.