Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Try Something!

"It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." – FDR

I like that. It really goes along with one of my favorite mantras to get up even when you can't.

I'm a bit down right now. The whole Christmas shopping thing has got me down. I mean you try to get the very best present, the one that really tells someone that you know them better than they know themselves, you know what their heart REALLY needs. That's a lot of work and pressure.

I recently went to a graduation party with some folks that really know their gift giving craft. I mean these people are master artists when it comes to gift giving. They aren't always big or expensive gifts either, but they're always the gifts that leave not a dry eye in the house. I swear there were four of them in a row (all relatives, sisters, brother-in-law, niece).

Right now I'm trying to figure out the exact present for Mrs. Prop that will do and say just that. It has to be perfect. I'm just a journeyman gift giver though so, where one of the aforementioned masters might just give a flick of the wrist to a present to make it perfect, like a Da Vinci adding just the right amount of smile to old Mona, I'm going to agonize over for days.

I guess I have to take Frank's advice and just do it. Wish me luck.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Guya Principal Chapter Delta

– Monday 28 October
The Goddess on the Mountaintop

Peggy dragged herself into work Monday morning. She wore an oversized brown sweater and a loose wool skirt that came to her knees. She wore brown flats and her hair in a ponytail tied with a rubber band. As soon as she came in she went straight to the coffee station.

Over the years the SETI budget had been shrinking like the polar icecap. The Seattle branch office had been reduced to moving in upstairs from a Starbucks. They ended up with so little money for computers that they had to buy seconds (usually missing the “P” key for some reason). More and more they had to deal with less and less.

In the old days they would have had a full cafeteria with seventeen different coffee drinks, pastries, bagels, hot and cold sandwiches and some other, mostly ignored beverages. The break room now consisted of several poorly balanced tables, mismatched chairs, a soda machine with no Pepsi or Coke products, a candy machine, an empty sandwich machine and a coffee machine that rationed the divine nectar out in four ounce paper cups. It was a sacrilege and nothing more or less than a slap in their faces.

The employees therefore set up their own coffee station. They took an unused cubical and put in a small refrigerator, a microwave, a two pot coffee maker, a cappuccino machine and a water cooler. They did manage to disguise the original purchases in the budget as OSHA required first aid and survival equipment. Still they were only afforded so little money that they had to buy the items at flea markets and garage sales. As time went on the equipment fell into disrepair. There was no money for replacements so the employees made due with whatever spare parts they could find or steal and make the repairs themselves, mostly with duct tape, aluminum foil and cardboard.

The “fridge” was a Styrofoam ice chest that actually had ice only in the winter when it was free. The microwave consisted of a cardboard box wrapped in aluminum foil with a windup egg timer. The water cooler was a wooden apple crate painted white and an empty Hinckley and Schmidt bottle was stuck on top. Everyone had saved his or her last paper cups from the day the water cooler gasped its last burble burp.

At least the coffee maker still worked; although it looked like a steampunk assembled rube-Goldberg that Peggy insisted was actually powered by two extremely exhausted mice. The only coffee that the office would purchase was the used grounds that the downstairs Starbucks gave away.

Still the coffee station was the place where everyone went to “get a cup of water or coffee.” They would stand around sipping at the moist air or coffee colored water in their flotsam paper cups and gossip.

“Is Jackie here?” Peggy asked the gossip crew.

“She’s in the break room. I think I still hear her beating on the sandwich machine,” John said. He was standing by the “microwave” with his hands on his hips. The egg timer alarm dinged and he opened the box. “Still cold, I’ll just put it in for another minute.”

Peggy found Jackie cursing at the sandwich machine. This was a daily ritual for her, but it usually occurred around lunchtime.

Jackie looked like a cross between a moa bird, a lily white King Kong and Angelica Huston’s Morticia Aadams who put on two hundred pounds of muscle and cut off all but enough hair to cover her neck muscles. Jackie always wore black ankle length skirts and oversized black sweaters, a feat since at more than six feet tall and heavy enough to compete as a heavyweight in men’s boxing very little could be called “over-sized.” The only attribute of her exceptional size that she didn’t camouflage was her height; in fact she accentuated it by wearing heavy, Cuban soled boots.

It was rumored that Jackie herself had eaten all the sandwiches in the machine and was enamored by the vending employee, because she liked small men in uniform with manual labor jobs and because she loved his sandwiches. The vendor had been so traumatized by this that he never even returned to collect the machine. Jackie’s daily assault on the machine therefore had a deeper and much more melancholy undertones than mere caloric intake.

"Jackie, is there anyway I can get some time on the Hubble?" Peggy asked.

"Peggy, you look like shit. Time on the Hubble? It would be easier to get you on the shuttle and put you physically on the Hubble than to get you on the schedule. Why? What do you have?"

"Just a hunch really."

"Where did this hunch come from?"

Peggy didn't answer. She just looked Jackie in the eye. She could have sworn that, out of the corner of her eye, while she and Jackie were having a staredown, the sandwich machine was trying to use the distraction to sidle away.

"Why do you need the visible spectrum? You may not have noticed, but we generally use radio around here. What are you looking for?"

Peggy sighed, "What are we all looking for?"

Jackie slammed her palm into the corner of the machine, just past Peggy's head adding another dent. Peggy was slightly amazed that although the metal body of the machine was littered with dents like the moon was littered with craters, the glass in the front was not only untouched, it was clean and free of any hand prints. She followed Jackie's massive arm up to her face.

"You know I'd do anything for you. You also know that it would exhaust every favor I have out and then some to get you what you're asking for, but you won't tell me anything about it. Why are you stone-walling me?"

Suddenly she laughed and shook the machine. The steel still in her grip groaned. "You're haggling. Ask for the moon when you really want something much smaller. What do you need, some time on the VLA or the VLBA?" Jackie asked, referring to the Very Large Array of radio telescopes and the Very Long Baseline Array system of radio telescopes. They would be able to provide the highest resolution possible for faint radio signals.

"I just need some time to crunch some of the numbers they probably already have on the VLBA."

"Crunch numbers? I'll bet you want time on a Cray too?"

Peggy nodded, "Not too long, probably only an hour or so."

"VLBA is no problem and I guess I'll have to let Gladys Freshbureaux feel me up. Oh well," she said striking a double biceps pose and letting her sleeves begin to tear before letting off, "she'll pass out from excitement before it gets too naughty." Jackie smiled.

"I'm going as She-Hulk for Halloween. What do you think?"

What Peggy thought was, "not again," but what she said was, "How could you top your performance last year. You've won first place for the past three years as She-Hulk."

"Well, the first year I won by sheer power. The second year I got a better outfit and gained ten pounds of muscle. The third year I got better body paint, a better wig and gained ten more pounds of muscle."

"Right, so what are you going to do this year?"

"I have a secret that I'm only going to tell you, there are two things. The first is that I gained twenty pounds of muscle. The second is that I grew a full inch taller."

Peggy's jaw dropped, "I didn't think a person about the age of twenty could grow any more."

Jackie shrugged her enormous shoulders, "I guess it was the supplements and the additional workout regiment I picked up this year. Most of it is done hanging by my feet."

"Wow," Peggy was truly impressed.

Jackie did a couple of poses ending with a pose that had her bent forward and crossing her forearms with her head down. She popped her head up and looked at Peggy, "Now will you tell me where this hunch came from?"

Peggy reached up and squeezed Jackie's arm. "Oo you are so strong." Actually, Peggy, who was no slouch in the athletics department couldn't compress the powerful muscles in the slightest. It was one thing to hear her talk about how big and strong she was and it was another thing to see her pose, but actually feeling the strength and power sent an involuntary shudder through Peggy's body. The original human warning and emergency response system was tripped like there was some small frightened girl in her mind, running and screaming past the breakers and tripping every one of them before her mother could overtake her and apologize endlessly to the management. Before the audible alarm was tripped Peggy slipped off to her cube muttering, "Gotta go."

Marsha was waiting by the entrance to her cube like an octopus on a coral reef. As soon as Peggy stepped into her cube, Marsha was on her with questions.

"Did he say anything else? What did he say? What'd you find out? Why do you look like hell? Did you get a hold of your friend at VLA? What did she say? What did the VLA data say? What are you doing for lunch?"

"Yes; more of the same; not sure; I worked all weekend; Yes; Yes; inconclusive; probably dieing so keep the electric paddles handy, okay," Peggy offered a wan smile.

Marsha tried to keep track of which question went with which answer on her fingers, but gave up. Instead she sat down on the spare chair, really a stack of paper boxes (really a stack of paperboxes that no longer contained blank paper, but were stuffed with the flotsam of all the previous occupants of that cube). "Start from the beginning."

"I took Birdy home and he wouldn't shut up. He got worse and worse. At first he was saying coordinates every so often, but it eventually got so bad Sunday morning that I had to give him sleeping pills. He was still navigating in his sleep. Some of the coordinates are to real things and others aren't. The only way that the numbers made sense is if they were coming from something moving and it was using the coordinates to plot a course. I hobbled together a program to see if I could figure out where that thing could be and where it could be heading.

"If something is adjusting course, wouldn't it have to have some sort of propulsion system?"

"As far as I know."

"Oo, do you think this could really be extra-terrestrial?" Marsha asked, so excited that she nearly spilled her brown coffee-water.

"I can't find any sort of source. If it's ET then we should see some sign of that, right, some indication of the point of origin? If we don't find where the signal is coming from we should at least be able to see some signature of the propulsion system. I don't see anything on the data I could get from the VLA. I also can't figure out how my pet bird is getting signals that can't be detected by any of our equipment."

Marsha seemed deflated. "So you don't think it's ET?"

"I don't know what it is, but I'm not willing to give up on the ET angle yet. Heck, none of us would be here if we didn't have a blind, walk-off-a-cliff-in-embarrassing-underwear faith that there is something out there and we're willing to push our own grandmothers' down a flight of stairs in a box of broken glass and knives in the path of an oncoming train, to be the first ones to prove it."

"Graphic. So your still maintaining your theory that your pet bird is getting some, otherwise undetectable signals from some undetectable, moving intelligent source not of this earth?"


"No wonder you look like hell. So what can you do to prove your theory now?"

"I got Jackie to get me data from the VLBA and some time on a Cray to analyze it for patterns."

"Still looking for the ship?"

"If I design the program right I'm planning on looking for the ship and confirming the course that Birdy has been plotting. I wanted to actually look with the Hubble, but Jackie shot that down. I think that if I can show that Birdy is actually giving coordinates for a path through space we could show that he must be getting signals from something out there. And then she'd have to let me look in the place I think the signal is from."

They both looked out the window at the sky.

"So, is this work related? I mean can we work on your program here, now?"

"It's not strictly work. I'm supposed to analyze some data from some spectrographs and design a database for some data Gary developed. Work is mundane, pedestrian, routine…"

"Work is work."


"Okay, so we'll meet at your place tonight. My car's in the shop so I'll need a ride, but if you stop at a store I'll buy the margaritas."


Marsha left and Peggy suddenly realized that she had never had anyone from work over to her apartment. This was the most social event of her career, and she owed it all to Birdy.

Marsha and Peggy rode directly to Peggy's apartment. By 'directly' it of course meant stopping by a liquor store for margarita mix, tequila and ice.

When they got to the apartment Peggy grabbed the mail and started going through it.

"Where's Birdy?" Marsha asked.

"He's in his room. He may still be sedated. If he's awake and hears us he'll let us know."

Marsha went to the kitchen to start making some margaritas. The apartment was sparse and Scandinavian like a page out of an Ikea catalog. In fact it was exactly the items off a page in the Ikea catalog. When Peggy rented the apartment she had simply gone to Ikea and pointed to the pages of the rooms she wanted, the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom and one of the bedrooms. Delightfully it had all come in flat boxes and she was able to put all the furniture for a two bedroom apartment in the bed of her pickup truck.

"Jesus, it looks just like a page out of an Ikea catalog in here," Marsha said.

Peggy opened her cable bill and noticed something odd. She was paying extra for a channel.

"Hey, you have a lot of vodka in here," Marsha said as she looked for a blender.

"That's Birdy's." Peggy walked toward Birdy's room.

The room was actually half Birdy's. Peggy had built a cage wall running through the center of the room. On one side were a bowflex machine, an exercise bike and a television. The television was actually Birdy's and he had the remote.

On the other half of the room the floor was covered in an easily replaceable tarp, there were several perches, a couple of food and water dishes, a hammock and the closet. The closet was Birdy's bedroom and he was free to open and close the door when he wanted. It had a very nice dog bed on a shelf in there. It very closely resembled his wild habitat.

Peggy was sure Birdy knew how to open the cage, but it made them both feel better to have it there. It defined his space and made guests, if there had been any, feel more comfortable.

Birdy was in his bedroom still asleep from the sleeping pills she had given him, but she could hear him mumbling coordinates and guidance. She walked into the cage and picked up the remote. She turned it on.

Peggy didn't watch television, not at all. She didn't even watch when she was riding the exercise bike. Birdy had asked her about it a few times. It seemed to annoy him, since he clearly got so much of his social skills from television. It was his window to the world.

When she turned it on Telemundo came on with a soccer game. She pressed the "Recall" button and the NASA channel popped up.

"How long has he been watching this?" She asked herself.

She looked at the bill and was stunned. She wasn't sure which was more shocking, that Birdy had started watching the NASA channel since the day before he started spouting space coordinates like a jailhouse rat sings or that the bill through the end of October came three days before the end of the month.

"What's going on?" Marsha asked as she walked into the room with two pitchers of margaritas. "Wow, would you look at this room."

"I thought I should give him enough room for his own space," Peggy said.

"No, I mean, finally a room with character. Did Birdy decorate this himself?"

"Yes, especially the Jackson Pollack flooring. Look at this."

She showed Marsha the bill and the channel.

"So he started watching NASA channel and then he started saying coordinates. What does that mean?"

"It means I have to reevaluate all my work so far. He could be just delusional and repeating things he heard on this channel."

"Well, my mother always said, 'the best thing for going over old numbers is a good, big margarita,'" she handed Peggy her drink.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Guya Principal Chapter Gamma

– Monday Morning 28 October
"There Is Unrest in the Forest, There is Trouble with the Trees" – Treebeard Fangorn

"Jared, you're late. Seth's going to be all over your ass like black on asphalt," Todd spoke over his cubical wall.

"Thanks for worrying about me Todd," Jared smiled. He always smiled. He was a big man, a huge, hulk of a man. What wasn't clear was how much of it was muscle and how much fat. The women of the office never tired of the debate. His head was large and square, but his cheeks were sunken and the skin seemed to be tight on his face. But his jacket and vest could never be stuffed with that much muscle. Could they?

The fact was that Jared Sharpfield was square all over. There was nothing round about him. He was square, square and solid like machine steel. He was far heavier than anyone would guess.

As a young farm boy he made money by going to carnivals and having the man grossly miss-guess his weight. Once the man insisted that Jared must have been smuggling an additional person onto the scale, inside his coat. It was one of the rare times Jared took his coat and shirt off in public. The man banned him from ever returning. He was similarly banned from the ring the bell booth and any other strength challenges.

At the time his small hometown of Barrensoil Flats was going through a depression that had pretty much started when it's founder Cyrus Blackthumb founded the town on history's first ever toxic waste dump. Of course they didn't know it back then. Young Jared knew that he had to get out of town to seek his fortune so he convinced one of the carnivals to take him with by suggesting a bear-wrestling booth.

This was surprisingly lucrative because rather than having a real bear, Jared dressed up in a bear costume. No one ever managed to take the "bear." It made so much money that sometimes they stayed in one town for weeks. They only had to leave when a town figured out it was just Jared in a suit. The surprising thing to Jared was that they often hit the same towns year after year.

He eventually had to quit because he outgrew the suit. He moved on to rodeo. Fortunately he never passed as a horse or bull. He was too big to ride in any of the speed events and it didn't take him long to figure out how to stay on any horse or bull for as long as he wanted. He ended up as a clown, but that only lasted a year. The bulls caught on faster than the carnival attendees that it was Jared in the suit and whenever he was out there they were on their best behavior. This made the bull riding less than exciting.

Jared moved onto lumberjacking. There was a rumor that he found a huge ox frozen in ice that turned out to be blue after he thawed it out and named it Babe. When questioned about it Jared just smiles. Since Jared is a quiet man you can take that to mean whatever you want.

Lumberjacking did get Jared involved with the USDA Forest Service, which in actual fact is in charge of regulating the lumber industry. They are the ones who tell lumber companies that it's okay to cut down trees. They also have a scholarship program as a way of silencing young lumberjacks who become too nosey about how they decide which bits of National Forests come under the axe. Jared won a scholarship.

While in school he fell in with two groups of undesirables. The first group was convinced that civilization was on the brink of collapse and they'd better be ready with lots of guns and the second was concerned about the environment. Jared got along fairly well with both groups because he too was concerned about the environment and the gun people wanted to him to be on their volleyball team. He liked blocking and spiking.

In college he developed his own philosophy on survivalism, a balanced, realistic and holistic love of the environment and a killer jump serve. He was quickly on is way to earning a PhD in Forestry and talking to Todd that Monday morning. His one regret about his most recent promotion was that it brought him to Washington and put him back in a suit. At least his business suits weren't as itchy as the bear suit had been.

"Why are you late anyway?" Todd asked. "Out with your buddies building a compound or loading shotgun shells?"

Actually Jared had been harvesting corn on his small farm. He grew the corn to make ethanol for his pickup and the generator he used on his house. To Todd's question he smiled and said, "no."

He made his way to his own office and sat down to read his email and listen to his voicemail. The phone rang.

"Jared, this is Seth, please come to my office."

Jared got up and stepped out of his office. Todd gophered up in his cube.

"Told you," he winked. "Seth is going to load shotgun shells all over your butt."

"How did you know…"

Seth stuck his head out of his office, ten feet away and said, "and bring Todd with you."

Jared turned to Todd. "Seth wants you."

Jared waited for him and they walked the length of two cubicles to Seth's office together. Todd was just as tall as Jared, but where Jared was square Todd was rounded. From the top of his coppery hair to the soles of his sensible shoes he was fluffy with no sharp angles.

"I don't know how we're ever going to afford everything this year," Seth began almost before they were in the door. "I wish there was a god so I could pray to it, but I don't even have that consolation. Sit."

Seth had been sitting himself and when the two others sat he stood up. Only when they were sitting was he actually as tall as they were. Not only was he short, but he probably only weighted as much as Jared's right arm and was prematurely gray. He looked like an old, disillusioned Gary Coleman who had had his stomach stapled and forgot which doctor had done it so he could get it removed, and oh what was the use of getting it removed anyway, might as well just wither and die.

Seth handed Jared a plane ticket. "There's a conference in Florida on the everglades and I need you to go. Never mind that you're so big that I had to get you business class and still you're too heavy so I had to get you two tickets. We'll never make budget this year."

"Didn't we just start a new fiscal year, and didn't we have money left over from last year?" Todd asked.

"Exactly. We didn't use it so this year we don't have it. If this conference had just been three weeks earlier we would have been able to book you two first class tickets," he shook his head.

"Florida in October big guy. You'll get to keep that tan that much longer," Todd said.

"I'm not a wetlands expert," Jared said.

"You're the best tree-man I have and it looks like it's going to be mostly cypress talk anyway."

"Any particular stance I need to take?"

"Same as always, 'say no and deny everything,'" Todd said and punched Jared playfully. It hurt his hand.

"Exactly. Todd you deserve a gold star today, here." Seth handed him a ticket. "You can work on keeping your tan too."

"I burn. Why am I going?"

"Besides trees they're going to talk bacterial contamination and mutation with the rising water levels due to global warming."

"Rising water levels? Florida is trying to come up to meet us," Todd said.

"Exactly. You leave tomorrow and the conference lasts until Sunday. I suppose you'll need the rest of the day off to pack."

"Yes please," Todd said.

"You can take off at noon, and I'll expect you to do all your work that you owe here by remote while you're gone."

"Hey, big guy, we're going to be there for Halloween. What are you going as?" Todd asked Jared.

"Hadn't thought about it."

Todd was looking at his tickets anyway, "Hey, how come I don't get two seats, I'm just as tall as Jared?"

"Have you ever been camping?"

"Yes of course."

"Did you use a sleeping bag?"


"A down one or polyfill?"

"A really nice down one, my wife bought me."

"And when you packed it you stuffed it into the bag into a tiny space, right?"

"Oh yeah, it came with this little stuff sack about this big and that big bag fit right in,” he held up his hand as if he were holding a newborn puppy.

"Do you think you could have fit two bricks in that stuff sack?"

"No, they'd never fit and they'd tear right through the bag. It was very thin nylon, I think it was nylon. What does this have to do with airline seats?"

"Jared is a brick sleeping bag."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dude! Martian Surf's Up!

Hey, I just heard that they found the best evidence that water was on Mars as recently as a few years ago.


You know, the morning the Challenger blew up I had told my Dad, "They'll never get the space program to work unless they can make it profitable and in order to make it profitable they need to take risks. They should just launch that thing." Ironic huh?

Well, I still think I was right. Now we have a golden oppurtunity. I want to be the first to surf Mars. You coming?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Guya Principal Chapter Beta

– Saturday Morning 26 October
"I Had It Made Like a Mountain Range"
-Slartibartfast (or Peter Gaberiel, I Can't Remember Which)

"Don't talk to me woman." Daryl "Splendid Animal" Trofimuk shuffled through the kitchen on Saturday morning. He was already dressed, but he still wore his slippers. His gold-rimmed glasses were very fashionable. He wore a dark green dress shirt under a multi-colored, Bill Cosby cardigan. He wore Dockers with cuffs to match.

"But Daryl…” his young wife Lynn began, pointing to the table full of breakfast.

"Ap!" He said showing her his wide palm, soft, dark fingers splayed. He shuffled past and into the large "music" room.

Lynn Trofimuk was a beautiful blonde woman, forty years his junior. She wore a pink teddy under a sheer pink robe. As soon as Daryl walked out of the kitchen his mistress, Shara walked in. She was twenty years Lynn's junior, six inches shorter and just as beautiful, but her chocolate skin was completely covered by a long terrycloth robe.

Organ music started coming from the other room as "Splendid" began a Bach sonata.

"You know I'm supposed to get him in the morning." Lynn protested to the younger woman.

"Listen honey, you're lucky he makes time with you at all."

"Listen 'honey,' you're lucky I don't kick your sorry ass right out of this house." Lynn stood.

"He'd never let you." Shara swiveled her neck.

"Oh, he'd have no choice, seeing as he'd have nothing to do with you if I took away all his Viagra." She was stood over Shara with a full pot of coffee.

Both women started laughing.

"Coffee?" Lynn asked.

"Yes please, with cream, sugar,” Shara ran a finger down the opening of Lynn's robe, "and you."

"I knew there was a reason I kept you around." Lynn put the coffee pot down and her lips descended on Shara's full lips.

Splendid stood up from his organ and heard the soft moans of his women in the other room. He shook his head and smiled. "So good those two are getting on so well."

He shuffled over to the stereo and selected a play along cd. He had actually made it a few years ago. It included him playing bass, piano and drums.
A dish crashed in the other room as the women began using the table like a bed.

"Hey! Don't be breaking my dishes in there. Go in the bedroom if you're getting too energetic." He yelled to them.

"Yes Splendid." The women chorused.

He shook his head. At least they weren't on the floor. That was dirty.

The opened the door and poked their heads through.

"You want to join us?"

He looked down at his instruments. "You know, as a child my daddy never allowed me to play music. He always said, 'now son that ain't work, learnin's real work.' He made me study and read all day. When I got older he made me go to college. He said I had to be a doctor. He said there wasn't anybody else in the county smart enough to be a doctor and that folks needed a doctor and it kept me out of Korea too. So I went. I was a damn good doctor too, but all the while I never got to play music. Now, five years ago I retired, learned every instrument I wanted and built this beautiful studio full of instruments. I can finally play music all day if I want."

Lynn and Shara both leaned through the door opening a little more, pulled their robes open and flashed augmented mammaries at him. "You could play us."

"Right, get me another one of those pills and give me twenty minutes."

"Why does he always tell us that when we cut into 'music time'?" Shara asked.

"Just get him the pill. I have to go up stairs and warm myself up,” Lynn looked down at her cleavage. "Maybe you better make that a double."

Shara gave Splendid his pill with a tall glass of mimosa.

"Thank you baby," he said. He picked up his guitar and strummed it. "Got my mojo working."

"It's sure working on me," she smiled and pranced out of the room. "Don't be long or we may just finish without you.

He nodded and kept playing. Slowly he could feel the drugs acting on his body, making it do what his mind wanted, but it wouldn't have been able to before. Some day he wouldn't even be able to rely on the drug as a crutch. Then the music would have him all to itself. He strummed one last time. Not today though. He got up and walked lively to the stairs.

Another Accomplishment

I wrote the entire previous post while I was at Guard on my PDA!

I wanted to do that last drill, but I was too busy. This drill I made time by not going to the family Christmas party, which my family couldn't attend, I was excused from because I was involved in a 24 hour exercise that ended at 0900 and I just think that those type of activities steal valuable time that we need for training.

Training like doing your blog at drill on your PDA.

I did have a scare today and a problem has developed. My PDA has been giving me problems when I try to sync my calendar with my home computer. That's no biggie since that isn't my primary anyway. Now I can't sync with my work computer and it looked for a few hours there like I had caused the PC to crash. Oops , that would have been bad.

Well, anyway, right now I can't sync my PDA calendar with my work PC. I'll let you know when and if I get that fixed. If I don't it isn't any different really than when I was using a paper planner.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Last Thursday I finished my SECOND NaNoWriMo book!

On November 1st I started with an idea and a blank screen. At 2330 (11:30 PM I tend to use
"Military'' time or the 24 hour clock because for some reason however I write am or PM the computer tells me I'm wrong and because I can) on November 30th I sent my 50,000 word book (sort of a novella by word count standards) to the website for National Novel Writing Month.

My book is called Guya Principal and it's a comedy. The story is about a moon-sized blob of dark matter that rubs up against the Earth and because the blob has an intelligence, it forms its own kind of Earth.

I really have to stress how impressive this is. For two years in a row I managed to put together a completely original novel in one month. This year was harder than last. I woke up at 0400 each morning after working my shift at work 1000-1900 and going home and trying to spend quality time with my family until about 2200 and also going to National Guard.

I'll post the first couple chapters on this blog later. I'll also send the whole thing out to some very select people.

If you'd like a copy of the whole kit and caboodle please let me know so I can send it to you. I only ask that you let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Caveman Nonsense

Maybe it's because this is a CNN sum-up of the real article, but this article doesn't show any causality between larger brains and interbreeding with Neanderthals.

This article says that a scientific team from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of Chicago claims that a certain allele causes larger brains and that it developed in humans just before Neanderthals died out. Therefore humans and Neanderthals interbred.


1. Neanderthals did have LARGER brains than modern humans. We assume their brains must have been less efficient.

2. The article even explains that it isn't clear if this causes brains to be larger. It postulates that allele D may only make brains more efficient. 1+2 is not equaling 3 here.

3. It has been shown through mitochondrial DNA that Neanderthals did NOT interbreed with humans while they were cohabitating Europe.

So circumstantial evidence is going to topple DNA evidence? I don't think so.

I expected more from the U of Chicago, but hey, they couldn't even be bothered to do the math for their USNews ranking.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In honor of the election that's taking place all across this great land of the United States I thought I would use Churchill's famous quote:

"Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

Instead I decided to use a quote from a Victorian PM Benjamin Disraeli (actually Queen Victoria's favorite, I'm partial to Bobby Peal cuz he was the one who basically invented police officers and I even like Bill Gladstone better than old Ben, but who's to argue with the Emperess of India and Queen of the United Kingdoms).

Anyways, Benjamin Disraeli said:

"In a progressive country change is constant;…change…is inevitable."

I usually vote a system rather than for individuals.

Maybe it's irresponsible of me not to thouroughly research all of the candidates, but that's the risk we take living in a democratic society: the ignorant and stupid get a say.

Anyway, my system this time was Vote Green, Greek and vote out all incumbents. I try not to vote for anybody that's unapposed either.

Why green you ask. Our gubernatorial race has a democrat I have no respect for, a republican that has shady connections to an administration that has folks that are actually doing time for their parts. I don't want any part of that. So I went green. It ain't easy, but I did it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Guya Principal

Chapter Alpha –
"There'll be no locks or bolts between us, Mary Kate... except those in your own mercenary little heart!"

"I don't think Springer is educational." The big bird shook his head to clear it and took another sip of beer.

"Peggy, your parrot doesn't look right," Marsha called from the break room where she, with all the other SETI employees stood around Peggy's pet bird, Birdy.

It was a typical Friday happy hour. Everyone gathered in the break room to try to get everyone else drunk and laugh at them. Very few even realized the dating and / or reproductive potential alcohol catalyzed. Fewer still were willing to make use of it that way.

Like every other Friday Birdy was the center of attention and the font of wit. The humans fed the bird drinks like it was a busty stripper at a role playing gamers' convention.

"He's not a parrot, he's a Chillian Sea Bird." Peggy called over her shoulder from her desk. She buried her thoughts in her computer readouts.

"He's a riot," someone called.

Like every Friday Peggy didn't participate in the festivities. She had tried when she first got there, but she seemed to deaden the party. All the women gave her dirty looks and all the men stared at her with their mouths open. Every one except Tami, Rus and Timmy. It took time away from work anyway.

She had had the same problem since she was fourteen. Until that age she hadn't had even the slightest hint at puberty. She was brilliant, a certified genius, but her body had not developed with her mind. Having skipped two grades she was a fourteen yearold pole among sixteen yearold hourglasses. She couldn't wear a skirt because she had not hips to keep it up. It didn't bother her so much since her nose was always buried. What she was disappointed about was not being physical enough to join any sports teams.

Senior year Spring Break everything changed. Her parents took her to Idaho on a ski trip. Because of all the insulation they didn't even notice the change until the first day back to school and Peggy came down wearing her older sister's sundress. It was too tight in the top and too short and it looked great. It didn't improve her status at school.

Overnight she had gone from looking fourteen and flat to twenty and something else starting with a "T." She blew everyone out of the water and they got their towels, dried off, got in their cars and drove home. It was too late to join any teams even if the other girls hadn't been too jealous of her to let her on.

In college she stuck to individual sports, dating rarely. She was finally physically developed enough to do all the backpacking, skiing, tennis and swimming she loved. She would often go on weekend long backpacking trips to stargaze.

In the break room Birdy took another sip from an offered plastic cup. He preferred vodka, but beer would do. It was free.

"John, you know I need that report by the COB." He imitated Jackie, the supervisor, who convienently wasn't there. The room erupted into gafaws and snorts. Beer flew through noses.

Birdy was on fire tonight. He took another sip and preened his kelidascope feathers. He was a big bird with a long neck and a bulbous head. His long, conical beak made his Jimmy Durante jokes work even better. As a matter of fact it helped his Jackie jokes too.

He was standing on one of the break room tables and took up most of the space. He shrugged his shoulders, got his wings into place and readied himself for another joke when suddenly he went glassy eyed and staggered around the poorly balanced table again.

"Eleven hours, fifty-seven minutes, twelve seconds right assencion; minus forty-two degrees six minutes, seven seconds declination. Five hours, thirty-one point five minutes right ascension; twenty-one degrees fifty-nine minutes declination. Acceleration fifteen seconds per second," Birdy's voice didn't sound like anyone in the office.

"That's not funny. Is that funny?" John asked. Birdy wasn't known for his subtle humor or his knowledge of astronomical data.

"Increase acceleration point one one five. Point seven degrees pitch adjustment," Birdy said in the strange voice as he reeled on the table. It flopped back and forth on uneven legs.

"For the love of god, someone get a folded napkin!" John cried.

"Peggy! Something's really wrong with your bird," Marsha called.

"Twenty hours, seven minutes right ascension; minus one degree, point four seconds declination."

Peggy sighed. It was like this every Friday. She mumbled to herself, "Please bring Birdy to the party. Oh Birdy is so funny. Your pet bird is just the best." Peggy was sick of it.

She swiveled in her chair and swung her long legs out from under the desk. He threw back her head and ran a hand through her ringlets of long, thick brown hair. She stood up and straightened the bottom of her tight blouse and the top of her mini skirt. She couldn't see her midsection past her jutting bust, but she knew her clothing probably needed to be straightened over her washboard abs. She strutted into the break room on four inch pumps.

Birdy spread his enormous wings, knocking Marsha over. She landed in Chuck's lap, something he had been secretly hopping would happen all night.

Birdy swung his fat head toward Peggy as she strode into the room, but his eyes looked right through her.

"Must get better reception. Must get closer," he mumbled, flapped and lept from the table to fly right at Peggy's face. Unfortunately his pin feathers had been cut and all he managed was a half lutz off the table onto the floor.

The men laughed and all but the drunkest of the women gasped. The party was over. It was a silent rule that when the bird got drunk it was time to leave. It was much earlier than usual this time though.

Marsha and Chuck helped Peggy get Birdy back to her desk.

"I'm all right," Birdy said in his best Gary imitation. Gary self-conciously pushed up his heavy glasses and nearly fell off his chair.

"Chuck, get some coffee please," Peggy said.

"No really. I'm alright," Birdy said in Gary's voice again.

"What's he been saying?" Peggy asked. Marsha shrugged.

"I dunno. It sounded a lot like astronomical coordinates and spacecraft guidance instructions. Has Birdy been watching the NASA channel at home while you're at work?"

"How would I know?"

Chuck returned with a mug of coffee. It said, "work is for the birds."

"I thought this would be appropriate," Chuck handed it to Peggy who held it out for Birdy to drink. He was just getting a good buzz from the beer, but he reluctantly sipped the coffee. He pulled back suddenly and made a hacking sound.

"He's starting again," Chuck said.

"No, he just doesn't like cream and sugar. He takes it black," Peggy said and offered the mug again. Birdy took it in one foot and downed the brew.

"What's wrong big guy?" Peggy stroked his head.

"Insufficient data," Birdy said with the voice of K9 from Dr. Who.

"Is something bothering you?"

"You are correct sir."

"Was it something you ate?"

"Oo sorry, sorry," Birdy said as Alex Tribeck.

"Something you drank?" Chuck asked.

"Thank you for playing," Birdy said in what could have been the voice of one of many gameshow hosts. Then he shook. He seemed to be fighting something off, but then he went slack jawed.

"Sixteen hours, twenty-nine point seven minutes right ascension…"

Peggy grabbed a pen and started writing.

"Adjust seven degrees yaw, point zero zero zero one degrees pitch," Birdy finished speaking by shaking his head as if pulling free from a wrestler.

Peggy chewed her lip.

"What is it?" Marsha asked.

"I don't know off the top of my head. The coordinates and guidance corrections sound authentic, but where is he getting them from? It's like a radio picking up an unintended signal."

"He doesn't have fillings does he, or no wait, I had a cousin who could pick up radio on his braces. He doesn't have braces or a retainer maybe that we can't see?" Chuck said.

Peggy stared at him a long moment before simply saying, "he's a bird."

Marsha had pulled the paper away from Peggy and was reading it. "I think I know some of these coordinates. This one is Messier Object one-oh-seven, that's General Catalog Number sixty-one seventy-one."

"I love you," Chuck blurted out in admiration.

"What?" Marsha said.

"Nothing," Chuck looked off down at the paper quickly. "What are these others?"

"It's like the coordinates are being used to triangulate a position. This one isn't to anything I know," Peggy handed it to Marsha.

"Me neither. Oh, and this one he said earlier, ' Eleven hours, fifty-seven minutes, twelve seconds right assencion; minus forty-two degrees six minutes, seven seconds declination.' There's nothing there either."

"Well," Peggy said, taking the sheet back, "I'm going to keep track of what he says and send it to a friend of mine who works at the VLA. Maybe she can sneak some time on the system or pull some data off someone else's studies and let us know if there is something at these coordinates and maybe we can figure out where someone following these course adjustments is heading.

"Hey, did you guys ever think that maybe this could be a signal from aliens and the coordinates are from not on earth and the guidance controls are for a ship on it's way here?" Chuck said.

Peggy and Marsha looked at him.

"Well, this is SETI, right? That's what we do, right?"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Palm-y Days Ahead

Recently I accidentally left my dayplanner at my in-laws house for a week.

I had to dig out the PalmOne Tungsten T5 that the Army (ie. MSG Santa our supply NCO) gave me just before we left Afghanistan (only hours before we left in fact).

So I've been using it for going on two weeks now. It's okay. I'm still getting used to it, but I'm being hit by the gadget bug. Now my Christmas wishlist is complete.

What do you guys think of PDAs in general, T5 and PalmOne in specific?

Any advice?

Cthulhu of the Day V

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cthulhu IV – All Saint's Cthulhu

I think the white one looks saintly, don't you? Well, what would he do?

Saucer Crash

It was reported earlier by MAJ I. Prop that the Donut Air Corps recovered the crashed remains of a flying saucer or disc.

In a report released today the DAC retracts the previous statement and issues the following statement: "Oops!"

This is reminiscent of an earlier report by the US Army Air Corps.

[Out of character. I'm really TOed that someone did this to my "UFO" the day before Halloween. We suspect sabotage. Luckily it was designed to be able to dismantle so we can and will rebuild.]

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween Everybody

One of the little girly Props went as an Illini cheerleader today. Here's an approximation of what she looked like:

Hey, she does look an awful lot like me.

Cthulhu of the Day III – Are You Ready Kids?

"In his pineaple at Bikini Bottom dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."

Well, because of several reasons (technical, personal, duty…) I was unable to post many of these so I will continue through the week.

Here's one that Major John will like.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cthulhu of the Day II - Hello

In honor of our OVER ONE THOUSAND VISITORS I want to send a hearty

Thought for the Day V – Thoreau

I'm not too keen on Thoreau, but I like this one:

"When a dog runs at you, whistle for him." – Henry David Thoreau

I dig that. It smacks of Lincoln's never look a gift horse in the mouth. I haven't seen any dogs lately, but if I see one I know what I'm gonna do.

"Excuses don't give reason and reasons don't excuse." I don't know who said this, but I heard it on a Flipping show that my wife was watching (I don't mean "flipping" as a euphemism for another "f" word, but try it like that and see what you think). It's been a crazy week. I forgot my dayplanner at my in-laws' house and I'm really out of sorts. I'll try to get back on track. I've got a lot to tell you about NaNoWriMo.

Hey how did we get to 1,000 visitors? Wow. Congrats everybody and thanks!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Cthulhu of the Day I

As Halloween approaches I want to try a new feature, Cthulhu of the Day. I'll post a new image of the Great Cthulhu daily.

Since it's Friday I'm posting Apathulhu

Thought for the Day IV – Toynbee Civilization

"Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor." – Arnold Toynbee

I have a BA in Anthropology so culture and civilization are very interesting to me. I stated in an earlier post that I believe we now live in a worldwide civilization with many facets.

I think I like this definition. It may explain why all civilizations have fallen in the past. When they reach harbor they stop. They cease being a civilization.

I'm also interested in creating civilizations. In Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors often create what is referred to as their fictional Universe or World. I'm a member of a web group called Conculture that discusses constructed cultures. I think I'll share with you in this blog some of my ideas for some of my Concivilizations.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thought for the Day III – Vince Lombardi

"It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it." – Vince Lombardi

After last night's thievery of a win for the Bears against the Arizona Cardinals the only "Doer" I can think of is Brian Urlacher.

He took it upon himself to lead that team out of ignominious defeat. I really didn't think they would win, but when it was 23 – 17 I thought they had at least made it a game. Urlacher said that they even felt confident that they'd block the field goal. They didn't, but I'm sure the fear of the Bears is what made the miss.

I hate saying that sports figures are heroes based only on what they do on the field. Roberto Garza, a Bears rookie, is involved in a housing development project called Hometown Huddle. That heroism and being a "Doer" in my book, but dang it was nice to see the defense say, "enough of this nonsense" and straighten things out.

Let's stand up and cheer a "Doer" today.

Who's your "Doer?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thought for the Day II – Calvin Coolidge

"Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped." – Calvin Coolidge

So says a man who had a whole orchestra full of instruments at a time when most folks didn't have two spoons to slap together. I'm not sure when he said this, but if it was during the Great Depression then it smacks of Marie Antoinette telling her poor to eat cake.

A shovel is only an instrument to help gain prosperity, but if you don't have one it doesn't matter what marvelous ditches you would have dug, you're not going to put food in your children's mouths.

On the other hand, it looks like a good Protestant work ethic, and I like it (despite my being a good papist).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thought for the Day I

I'm going to try something. I know I've kept a roman numeral day count before, and I promised a weekly story serial, but this should be shorter and simplier.

I have a Franklin-Covey day planner that has quotes each day. Some of them are really good and profound, and short. I'm going to start with them and see if I can't give you all a thought for the day from quotes and my take on them.

"We must remember that any opperession, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization." - FDR

I agree with this and I think that everybody along the spectrium from Left to Right would agree to it. What I don't think they'd agree to is what to do about it.

I say fight. Don't stand for it and sacrifice everything for our civilization.

What is our civilization? In light of the interconnectedness of the world today I'd say that there is only one civilization today and we are all a part. Therefore if you attack our civilization you are attacking all of humanity.

All civilizations throughout history have eventually fallen. We cannot afford to let this one fall, because it is everybody, everywhere. It's all we have.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Army Strong

Wow! I like this new Army ad campaign. This is powerful stuff.

Army Strong, dang straight. "There is nothing on this green earth that is stronger than the US Army."

I hate Hooah, but, well, HOOAH!

This reminds me of this poster:

It also has a little Bernini's David in it:

And also a little Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, "A strength to get yourself over, a strength to GET OVER YOURSELF." (Stick that up your butt Army of One!)

The music is epic too.

It has a sense of history too. It reminds me about an email going around a while back on Veteran's Day with this photo.

The official campaign begins 9 Nov 06 I wonder why they aren't waiting until the 11th? I guess it can't be perfect.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pseudo Football

I entered a contest at Mirable Visu and lost (this after my startling, come from behind victory, in the last contest). It's a comedy so you may be inclined to laugh. That's okay.

If you're inclined to comment that's okay too.

Here's how the entry ran:


SUBJECTS – Play and Football
OPTIONAL CHALLENGES b) Use both subjects in a comedy set on/in another world.

TITLE: False Foot Ball

“Did you hear about the emergency staff meeting, Amy?”

“No, Bill.”

“It’s right now in the Bored room. I think it’s about restructuring.”

Amy groaned. She and Bill made their way through the starship to the crowded Bored room. Chris and Dan were standing in the front.

“Now that we’re all here I want to take this time to thank Chris for the wonderful job she’s done as Captain.”

There was light applause. Dan whispered something to Chris, got a frowned answer and then addressed the room again.

“Chris has been gracious enough to let me announce her promotion. She is going to be the new head of Sector Vending Management. Let’s give Chris a round of applause and wish her good luck.”

Before the weak applause could begin again Ernie spoke out, “Isn’t this the only ship in this sector?”

“Yes, that’s right,” Dan said. “What’s your position now Ernie?”

“Ship’s Vending Officer.”

Before the moment could get too awkward Bill mercifully led the applause for Chris’ promotion.

“There had to be some restructuring of the crew because of Chris’ promotion and I will be the new Captain,” Dan said. “My old position of Coordination Coordinator will be filled by Frank and Frank’s old position of Ship’s Engineer will be left vacant for the time being.”

Frank stood to receive the undeserved applause.

“Since we’re all here I thought we could just go into the daily shift briefing. It’s okay that you don’t have your PowerSpot slides. Just make sure you get them to my secretary Sue within thirty seconds of the end of the meeting, okay? Who’s first?”

Gus stood. “We just got the marketing report for the planet name and Mongo was considered most favorable.”

“Mongo?” Dan asked.

“They feel that the planet should have a name that’s easy to pronounce with an other worldly, yet familiar sound. Also it’s very small with a fast rotation so that it tends to have only one weather pattern at a time.”

“How small is it?”

“Land area equivalent to the size of an average suburb.”


“Earth equivalent. It’s very dense.”

“Good. That’ll make the population that much easier to exploit.”

“The planet itself is dense sir.”

“Well, we can always exploit the natural resources, and call me Dan. We’re all friends here. Next.”

Henry stood. “Captain Dan, we might be too late to exploit anything. Sensors show that the Soccer Missionaries are already on the planet and have made in-roads with the population who have already formed youth leagues, teams and recently invented the mini-van and Soccer Mom stickers.”

“That’s some sensor,” Dan said tapping his chin in thought.

“Thank you sir,” Henry beamed.

“Call me Dan. This could be hairy.”

“Henry sir.”

“Dan Henry.” Dan threw his arms wide and addressed the room, “Fine. Put us down right next to their ship. Which one is it?”

“SS Wembley.”

Later, as the M$$ Chaching descended, everyone who was not busy looking busy or actually being busy was at the windows.

The Wembley was an impressive site. She was an exact replica of the stadium in London, complete with robotic fans, players and support crew. She was powered by the most advanced improbability drive. The movements of the robots were actually calculated exactly to produce the probability that the stadium would actually lift off the ground and fly through space at superluminal speeds. Surprisingly this was often achieved simply by having the robotic teams actually score more than two goals apiece.

The stadium seats were actually empty and the ship was idling with the robotic grounds crew maintaining the field.

The Chaching set down gently beside the Wembley, just as you would expect a beige, multistory office building not to land if thrown across billions of miles of vacuum. Undersized pitches filled with children in bright uniforms and disgruntled adults screaming alternately at the referees, their children, other people’s children, other parents, the coach and at whatever passed as a divinity on that planet surrounded them.

Amy, Chris, Dan and Henry walked out of the Chaching and took a look around. Dan seemed to notice Chris for the first time.

“Why are you here Chris?”

“There may be vending opportunities here.”

Dan laughed; “You actually think that that position is re-” he stopped himself. “Right. Good idea Sector Vending Manager.”

Henry typed into his Boysenberry. Amy pulled hers out and read it. “There appears to be no intelligent life here anywhere.”

Dan looked around, confused. “Hardly.”

“Henry sir.”

“Look,” Amy said, “the crew from the Wembley must be under that canopy.”

They walked over and knew she was right when they saw the elaborate paperwork and the multitude of golf shirts with logos from various positions and previous years.

A native, alien woman was at the table trying to fill out a form. She looked exactly like a human woman in early middle age, except she had a mole on her nose.

"Um, I'm not sure what's on my son's third allele of his tenth chromosome."

"Just put 'yes,'" said a woman who wore a shirt embroidered with the name "Ida."

"Excuse me. Are you Soccer Missionaries?" Dan said, standing in a classic starship Captain's stance.

"We prefer Association Football Proselytizers." Ida said. Clearly she was the bossiest.

"We're from the Corporation ship Chaching," Dan jerked his thumb back toward their ship.

"If you're from a Corporation ship, what's your Prime Directive?" The Proselytizer asked.

"To make money for the stockholders," Dan said.

"Well, we demand the right to spread the word of 'The Beautiful Game' to the dominant life form of this planet." A man wearing John's shirt said.

"There are no ri-" Dan began, but at that very moment all the Chaching crew's Boysenberries and the cell phones of the Proselytizers rang. At the same time three "creatures" approached them as gracefully and stealthily as three giant mechanical geese with malfunctioning necks, one leg too short, dragging their mufflers and with desiel engines that weren't tuned properly.

Not that they looked at all like giant mechanical geese.

The creatures looked like ceramic bathtubs on ceramic tank treads. The "tubs" were topped by what looked like a stand-alone shower curtain that tightly ringed the tub. Out from under each curtain poked two snail-like eyestalks.

Henry read his text message aloud. "Excuse us. You are mistaken. These creatures are not the dominant life forms on this planet, we are."

"Who are you and how are you texting us?" Dan demanded.

The text flowed again. Henry continued to act as translator by reading. "We are what you humans don't have a word for yet. You may call us 'Snails' since they are the creatures most similar to ourselves from your planet. We extrude these shells that you see and we wear these curtains on our radio antenna which we also extrude naturally. We are texting you because we communicate through natural radio transmissions. We're WiFi compatible."

"We may seem like cold, hard, unfeeling bathtubs on the outside, but on the inside we're really soft and vulnerable."

"Way to expose our fatal weakness Jack."

One of the snails clanked into the flank of another.

"Ouch," Henry read.

"How do you know about our planet?"

"We've been watching and listening to your broadcasts for decades. We were most intrigued by your World Cups and thought Soccer would be a good pastime for our pets."

"Pets? Do you mean that these people are your pets?" Amy asked.

"Do they like snack food?" Chris asked.

"You mean you were the ones who invited us here and you only want us to teach 'The Beautiful Game' to your slaves?" John the Proselytizer asked.

"Pets yes. Yes they do. Pets. Yes." Henry read the answers to all the questions.

"Don’t you want to learn 'The Beautiful Game' too?" One of the younger Proselytizers asked plaintively.

"We have no feet, therefore we have no use for your Soccer, but the crew of the M$$ Chaching may be able to help us with a different sport. One better suited to our strengths."

What looked like a loofah brush and a chrome soap caddy stuck out from under one of the Snail's curtains. "We have hands as you can see. We also have brilliant minds and armor."

"Of course!" Dan exclaimed with a pronounced American accent, "The best game for you would be-"

Henry interrupted with his reading of the text, "Office politics."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Prop on Iraq

Er, I mean Prop on A ROCK!

I found him.

Yep. I was climbing around in the Pakistani part of the Hindu Kush and guess who I bumped into? UBL, OBL himself. This is how it happened:

Me, "Osama! Dude. WHASUP!"

OBL, nothing.

"Hey buddy, there's a lot of people out looking for your sorry butt. What's you got to say?"

UBL, nothing again.

"Hey?" Prop prods the criminal with a blunt stick. A sad, See-N-Say voice says, "Kill all Americans."

"Huh?" I prod him again. He falls over and that voice says, "See I got away."

Then I figured it out. They stuffed him and stuck a pull-string recording up his butt.

Here's a pic:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Three Things Found Floating Around the Shuttle

Scientists have found three more things floating around the shuttle. It won't delay the landing and they refuse to show photos of what the objects are.

In another Illini6 exclusive we bring you the only photo you'll see (on this blog) of the three things floating just outside the shuttle cargo bay.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Prop Reads Pope!

Well, I've actually read the text of Pope Benedict XVI's speech 12 Sep 06.

First I have to say, if it's a rallying cry and a slap in the face for Muslims there are darn few who would or could actually read through the dense language to find it. If there was any doubt that the Holy Father was a professor one only has to try to read this.

Okay. If I read this correctly, there was this Eastern Roman Emperor (Manuel II Paleologos) who was talking with a Muslim while the Muslims were besieging Constantinople.

The Emperor was arguing against forcing conversion by violence. In his argument he said that you must use logic along with your faith to understand the will of God.

Muslims are not required to do that (Islam didn't develop with as strong a Greek (and therefore Socratic) influence and thus to a Muslim God is above and not constrained by logic).

I think the Pope was trying to say that to Christians it is just presumed that logic and faith go hand in hand (although there have been movements to separate logic from theology). It is natural for us. It isn't for other faiths.

The really radical thing that he said (IMHO) is the faiths that do not use logic and faith to understand the will of God are wrong (i.e. Islam).

I can't say I disagree.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

That Noise

That noise you heard late this morning (it may have actually been audible on the ISS (I know there is no sound in space, but that’s only because there is no media by which to transmit the sound waves, but if you had some piece of the atmosphere blown off the earth by a very loud sound that air WOULD carry the wave and you COULD hear it)) was the sound of millions of suburban American men mowing their lawns before the game.

My wife makes me BAG it. I hate that. Men don’t want to BAG (that’s a tinny sort of word). We want to MULCH! That’s a manly sort of word. It reminds us of what we want our team to do to their opponents. Mulch, slice, dice, shred, mince (well, that’s not too manly either, scratch that), rend, obliterate, ANNIHILATE!

On the other hand, bag is like sack and that’s okay. Yeah, honey, I ain’t gunna bag anymore. From now on I’m gunna SACK the clippings.

Yep, it doesn’t matter what team they support. In fall, on Sundays, when the grass is long and the wife is na- er, I mean reminding lovingly, the boys go out and fire up the Toros, Hondas and Lawnboys. It may not be cut well, but it’s cut, and it’s cut before the game starts. That’s what counts.

Sometimes testosterone can be deafening.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Illini6 Exclusive!

The Fighting Illini lost this Saturday to Rutgers 33-0. That's sad, but something else happened Sunday with another team that wears orange and blue (NO, not Florida! We were Orange and Blue before they were so go someplace else!)

Da Bears shutout Green Bay. That's right. The Packers had the second longest active non-shutout streak in the NFL and Da Bears shut them out (pass the beef). Guess who the last team to shut out the Pack was? That's right; Da Bears back in 1991 (with Da Coach)!

Here's something even more amazing. That number 4 of theirs, the guy who doesn't even know how to pronounce his own name (but I've heard he's a pretty good football player), can't remember the last time HE was shutout.

He can't remember the last time he was shutout, not because he's so old he has Alzheimer's, not because his bell was rung yesterday, no, because it was so long ago.

Well, I had to dig long and hard to find this, but here it is, an Illini6 exclusive. A photo of Brett Favre (pronounced Fav-Ray) the last time he was shutout.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Oh Yeah! I'm Back Baby!

I won! I won the latest Mirable Visu SSIW (Short Sharp Intuitive Writing) contest!

I can't believe it. I'm so happy. It's been a very long time since I've won a writing contest and I was very surprised. I had to read it over and over again!

You can go here and read my story. Just scroll down and look for "Faun-O-Matic" posted by Inner Prop.

Good day, good day!

Oh, and I figured out a better way to manip photos. Watch out!

EDITOR'S NOTE: MV dumps the stories as soon as the next contest starts so I'm going to post my winning story here for you to read.


Initiate Bacchanalia

"How 'bout some of that vino, buddy?" I asked the man with the bottle.

The party was young; the night beautiful; everyone was well dressed and everything, the deck, the house, the whole subdivision, was new.

I spotted a man offering another a cigar.

"Got one for me, pal?"

The men were so startled by my appearance they complied unquestioningly. Thus provisioned, I went in search of the hostess.

Half the guests were on the deck. The rest were taking a tour of the house or gathered around the food in the dining room. I went inside to the hostess: a beautiful young woman in a short, red dress showing long, shapely legs.

Initiate Social Intercourse

She smelled my cigar.

"No cigars in the house," she turned and her jaw dropped.

"Who, WHAT are you?"

"A satyr," a man stated, looking over his glasses.

"Similar, only more FAUN. Get it." I nudged a woman's knee near me.

"A faun?"

Initiate Self Analysis

I looked down at my hairy, vest-covered chest; fur covered groin and legs; and my hooves.

Identity Confirmed.

"Yup. I'm a faun, actually a faundroid," I hopped onto a chair to be eye level with the guests, and look down the dresses.

"Dan!" Hostess screeched, then asked me, "How did you get here, where did you come from, what do you want?"

I took a drag from my cigar. Everyone leaned in closely.

"Several very rich men with access to very high technology had daughters who were playmates. When these daughters became fascinated with fantasy worlds their fathers built them an enchanted forest, with electronic fauns, nymphs, unicorns and dragons. Unfortunately, by the time the forest was built, the girls had discovered boys and wanted no part of it. They sold it off to real estate developers and it became your lovely homes."

I drank.

"They rounded the dragons and unicorns up for private zoos. There are just a few fauns and nymphs left, mostly in the stand of trees between the back-yards."

The crowd gasped and looked out to the back of the property.

"As for what I want - to enjoy the party for Dionysus' sake. Oo, are those stuffed mushrooms?" I leaned over, but a male hand grabbed my wrist.

"Why aren't you out there?" Host Dan demanded.

Initiate Internal Pain Abatement

"I was kicking it with this knock-out hamadryad when the forest was 'developed.' We 'droids are so small we're radio controlled by our main computers in large, stationary objects. When they bulldozed my Meliae's tree she died, leaving me alone."

"Alone?" Hostess asked quietly.

"You can't go too far from your 'brain.' Mine's that ornamental boulder near your deck. If I went as far as the back of your property I 'd shut off, die."

There was silence.

"But, hey!" I pulled out a harmonica. "This is a party."

As I started playing I noticed my glass.

"How 'bout some of that vino, buddy?" I asked the man with the bottle.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Opening the Closing

Ms. Katie Couric began a new stage in her carreer last night. Now it isn't my place to question so eminent a citizen, but you'da thunk she'd have figured out her closing line.

Anywho, apparently you can email her and let her know what you think her closing line, or sign off should be. I have several suggestions:

1. Truth - that's not a suggestion for the closing, but a suggestion for the whole broadcast.

2. It's my news, you're just living it

And my favorite, in a partial reprise of her role in Undercover Brother:

3. Solid!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Greeks and Persians

In honor of Labor Day this weekend, we took my In-Laws to O'Hare to go to Greece for a couple of months.

Then we rewarded ourselves by going to Noon-O-Kabab, a Persian resturant in Chicago that Mrs. Prop had seen on Check Please several months ago. We had been looking for the place each time we went through the city.

The kids loved it and the waitress was great.

Then we drove home via Sheridan Road cuz we love driving through the North Shore (think Cameron's house in Ferris Bueller's Day Off).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Day XLII - I'm a Lumberjack

My In-Laws had a tree
The tree was dead
it had to be cut down
If I dropped it on my head
I'd look like a clown

They really did have a cherry tree that was threatening to fall on the power wires for the house. We cut it down and I feel, well, I feel like...

I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Day XLI - Springtime for Hitler

Today is the 67th anniversary of the day the Germans invaded Poland.

How's that for upbeat.

I suppose Illinois is next.

Oh oh, too late.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day Extra Large! - Am I Too Late?

I just found out that in 2002 (after I had started working on The Larch) Rachel Pollack published a book called A Secret Woman about A TRANSSEXUAL POLICE DETECTIVE!

Aw man. I had looked for such books when I started The Larch, but at that time there were none. I fugured I have a better chance with it if it were the first and only. Now whatever I do must be complared with a preeminent author who's won REAL awards.

Anyway, the hero in The Larch wants a new name. For now we'll call her X.

So I'm thinking that X's last name should be Pinkerton (after the famous Chicago detective). What I'm not so sure about is her first name. I want it to be something tied to Chicago so I have as role models:

1. Jane Addams (of Hull House fame)

2. Daryl Hannah (tall, blond Chicagoan, but too male a name (?))

3. Sophonisba Breckinridge (first Dean of the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Admin and shares a last name with Myra Breckinridge)

4. Jane Byrne (first woman mayor of Chicago and another Jane)

5. Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini (first North American Saint, but could be thought that I named the character after the housing project that shares the Saint's name)

6. Ida B. Wells (civil rights activist)

There they are, who do you want?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Blogger won't let me post photos of Jane Byrne, Mother Cabrini and Ida Wells.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day XXXIX – Conspiracy

I think Blogger and YouTube are conspiring against me. I tried to post a video to the blog from YouTube and

Nothing. I got nothing!

But, more importantly dear reader you got nothing. So, here's the deal:

1. Alison Brickhouse (of The Larch, "Surf's Down" and The Ash) is changing her name. You will get to vote on her new name tomorrow.

2. I've only gotten two, hanging chad, votes somewhat for "The Mystery Magic of Fish Island" to be serialized. I will let the voting ride until next week at least.

3. Unless there is a tremendous public protest I'm cutting out the Lockin business. It doesn't seem to be amusing or even interesting to ANYONE except me (in case you didn't know, it was all me).

4. Here's a story (the one I entered in the last Mirable Visu contest):

Can now be found here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Day XXXVII – At Least the Trains Ran on Time

Well, look what the revolution got you, no posts for two days. That’s because comrade Lockin can't think of anything to say.

Lies and PROPaganda! Day III and IV of the Revolution were Official Rest-Your-Eyes Days. The Party is thinking only of your health.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Day II of the Revolution – UN Plea

New York – The Illini 6 ambassador to the UN today made an impassioned plea to the general assembly.

"I am begging the representatives here to consider our plight. Those of us who are trying to follow the Atkin's Diet need Splenda for our coffee, to sprinkle over our morning grapefruit, to mix into our ice tea. I call for a vote to make Splenda packets available in the UN cafeteria. Oh, and also for military aid to help us take back our country from radical, er, radicals."

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan had this to say, "if you're on Atkin's how can you eat grapefruit, doesn't that have carbs?"

Ambassador Nowwiththirtypercentmore held up his copy of the Atkin's Diet, but didn't say anything.

The Ambassador from Munchkinland said, "What about the wicked witch, er, radical Radicals?"

Mr. Annan complained about having a headache, but Governor Schwartzennger assured him that it wasn't a tumor.

Then they all took a two-hour lunch.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Day XXXII - NO! Day I of the Revolution

I am pleased to announce the new chairman of the blog, our beloved comrade Lockin!

[sound of canned applause]

Thank you comrades. Today is the dawning of a new age, an age of freedom, an age of height and strength, an age of hands soaring to the sky.

[more canned applause]

Henceforth this blog will be known as the Free Union of Liberal Locks of Internet Teamwork or FULL of IT!

Oh no you don’t! I won’t give up this blog without a fight.

[sound of a scuffle]

The people will not give up the struggle.

[scuffle, scuffle, slap, slap]


The revolution will be digitized!

[further struggle sounds]

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day XXXI – Fun with Days

Hey, I thought it might be fun to do something like they used to do on the old Mickey Mouse Club. I mean the "Original" MMC, not the one for seniors. Can you see it? M-I-C See? Not with out my glasses; K-E-Y why? I can't remember who, let alone why…

Anyway, now that I've p###ed off the bloggers with the most milage here's my idea. The Original MMC had different themes for each day. They were:

Monday: Fun with Music Day
Tuesday: Guest Star Day
Wednesday: Anything Can Happen Day
Thursday: Circus Day and
Friday: Talent Round-Up Day

Whell, I'll have to make some modifications since:

Tuesday: Guest Stars are HIGHLY unlikely
Thursday: I don't much like the circus, especially c-c-clowns
Friday: well, I've already rounded up as much talent as I can muster here at the old blog.

This is what I propose the themes for each day be:

Monday: Fun with Music

Alright, We’ve had enough! The people won’t stand for this!

In the name of freedom I’m taking over this blog!

Now you, turn this thing around,

We’re going to Cuba!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day XXX - Let the Voting Begin

Well, they're all here. Let me recap:

Story 1: The Mystery Magic of Fish Island – fantasy comedy
Story 2: Release the Super-Strong, Crazed, Genetically-Engineered Sloths – SF comedy
Story 3: Princess Galechien Decides to Marry – children's fantasy
Story 4: The Ash – transgendered mystery
Story 5: Won't Get Fooled Again (represented by Bellwether's Asteroid) – Lovecraftian (sort of) horror

Let the voting begin.

BTW – the blog seems to be surrounded by protestors. I don't know what they want, but maybe they'll leave comments.