Author Archives: Anony Mole

How was your day?

In as few words possible describe your day. Don’t mistreat it. Don’t embellish. Extract its essence and stream it into our minds.

~~~

Go.

~~~

Our world spun its circular return. I blinked and woke up here, barely moved. Is this today or tomorrow? The rain would know. Soon drops will drown the dry tracks of my children’s tears. Or are they my own?

Food and drink slurped as sustenance, its colorful countenance belying its eventual fate, ooze of an odiferous sort — like the stink of diesel, or the burning of tires along the highway.

I went, I wavered beneath florescent lights. I found the keys and tapped them murderously. To no avail — they remarked en masse that my words together failed to shift the opinions on all office topics lovingly pinned to the break-room wall.

The sun arced without my permission. When I dared look at its progress, glares from cubemates bent my neck back to my flickering screen. A screen that aches for silken sheets and glistening bodies but must suffice with sheets of tables and dull characters spelling out quarterlies and bottom lines.

My day is done. The dollar slotted, the handle pulled, the rollers flashed cherries and jokers and spades, it twirled and slowed, the last wheel clicked empty. I jangle my change, a few dollars more it seems.


Emailing the dead

Dear Janice,

Why haven’t you returned my emails? You don’t text me, nor twitter. What’s up?

Hello? Janice?

Google will never delete your account. It will continue to accumulate email long after you die. Consider all the accounts you will leave gathering correspondence years after your fingers have ceased to digitally transmit. The Archive of the Dead. Talk about a Dead Letter Queue.

Think of all the millions of accounts that, right now, continue to collect their penis enlargement, their Nigerian prince, their Russian wife emails. And consider all the languishing friends and ancient lovers seeking to reconnect. The forgotten business associates, the friends of friends who read your book, saw your paintings, wondered about your clever children — their communiques swallowed by the pit of an abandoned account.

Dear Mole,

I’m slumbering here, terra-incognita, considering your inquires as I softly chuckle at the thought of sharing your subterranean abode. Why the urgency? Do you sense the closing of doors? The drawing of curtains? Will our letters find each other in the Ether-space once you surrender your daily toils? Or will the silicon memory that embodies our digital personas petrify, become crystal quartz again as the eons enfold us?


Alita: Battle Angel – loved it

My son and I went to see this movie — during the day — and we had the entire theater to ourselves. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the story or the history of this film. It was a great way to see it.

We both loved it.

My son didn’t know about the concept of the Uncanny Valley so later I explained it to him. Alita’s character exposes this theme but it’s nuanced — the feeling wavers all throughout the movie. And I think that’s appropriate. The girl is NOT human. She is Other. And it shows. Yet she emits such expression, such engaging behavior that you can’t help but be attracted to her — despite her otherness.

I highly recommend this film.

https://www.engadget.com/2019/02/16/alita-battle-angel-review-uncanny-valley/

 

 


Why so many flavors?

Buffet

[Flickr: Commons Image]

Humans, in fact most animals, could survive given the bare essentials of nutrition: Some grains, some beans, some earthy greens and maybe a few eggs. Pretty basic, nearly tasteless stuff. So, why do we have such refined sensibilities with regards to taste (and smells)?

There are literally millions of ingredients, spices, recipes, mixtures, and cooking methods all producing exotic, intoxicating, alluring odors and flavors. It seems overkill. Thousands of culinary media stars (over the years) continue to entice us with the promise of just one more umami taste, one more Maillard enhanced sensation. Sheesh! Talk about the absurdity of The Excess.

If I were designing a brand new biological creature I’d focus on a binary eating process:

  • Will this kill me (or make me ill), or not?
  • Will this enhance my nutritional energy quotient, or not?

There, done.

With such a process, a vast swath of beneficial food stuffs now opens up for such a creature to leverage. Think: super goat. The whole concept of “squeamishness” would vanish.

“Oooh, I can’t eat that.”

“Well, sure you can. It won’t kill you, or make you sick, and it will keep you alive for another day and a half.”

Does today’s food culture seem excessive and absurd to you?


Writer’s Log: 2007 The Spiral

[REF: my comment on Zarah’s blog]

I’m of a mind that, like many endeavors, the process of learning to write is a spiral.
LearnApplyReview
Learn -> apply -> review …

Hopefully, at each loop, one expands the spiral outward with the assembled knowledge and skill from the inner circles.

For writing, the complexity of the inner circles is limited: use proper grammar and spelling, use active voice, reduce the use of adverbs and dialog tags.

The further one gets from the center, the more nuanced the rules become — more like guidelines. Although the lessons become less specific, they become more challenging. One of those is finding one’s own voice.

What I find compelling about this visualization is that a spiral never ends: around and around we go, ever outward.

Lately, I’ve hardly written a thing: I’m in a wide curve, rounding from Review through Learn, approximately two-thousand hours from the center. (2000 on my way to 10k.)

This lull, I tell myself, is me digesting some of the more nuanced guidelines — like that of finding my own voice. That, as well as focus on the refinement of the writing itself. Story, not so much. Plot? Nope. Just the writing. The sound, the flow, the cadence.

Here’s some random exercises I’ve used to inch my way around the pivot-point:


Point System: keeping score

We all live by and adhere to a bevy of social contracts.

One of those contracts is the equity of gift exchange. If I take you for lunch, you must, eventually, take me for lunch — or breakfast, or drinks or… Whatever it is, it must roughly equal the value offered in the original transaction. If you spring for a fancy dinner, the onus of return has now shifted back to my shoulders. And so we live, social debt flowing to and fro.

Until one side takes, the other side gives and an unbalanced ledger results. I borrowed your lawnmower, your shovel, your chainsaw and never repaid you in kind.

Without effort from my side, this slight will grow and fester. An unspoken feud may molder and spawn, like some fetid mushroom pushed up through rotting soil.

There is however, one system which lives for an unspoken unbalance: The Mormons.

The Mormons have a charity point system; they must do good deeds, in excess of those good deeds done back onto them. When we lived in Utah, we confounded them and their points-for-heaven tally sheet. We would be our neighborly, good-natured and giving selves; going out of our way to help and assist and donate whatever we could — simply because that’s how we were wired. They, in turn, would try and surpass normal social mores and attempt to double up in pious points.

Now, to be fair, I’m sure this equanimity generally stemmed from the aforementioned social contract. But, on occasion, we were well aware that we’d flummoxed a number of our neighbors with excessive kindness, a gift that tipped the scales in a way that no doubt confounded them no end. We were, after all, the infidels of the neighborhood. The score could not be left teetered so.

Eventually, the weight would shift and we would accept that to remain amicable, we must be a smidgen in arrears; they were headed to heaven, we realized, and the score must tip in their favor.

 


Hummingbird miracle

We feed hummingbirds.

It’s an easy thing to do and provides hours of viewing pleasure. I got to thinking about the mechanics of a hummingbird and had to wonder about some of the factors that go into allowing such a creature the ability to do what they do.

For reference, a human eye-blink takes about 1/3 of a second, ~300 milliseconds of time. And this, it turns out, is about the reaction time of a human. BANG! goes the starting gun and 1/3 second later we’re off the block.

hummingbird

(Creative Commons image)

For a hummingbird, this reaction time is cut by about 100 fold. Within three to five milliseconds, a hummingbird can interpret an oncoming obstacle, a branch say, process this image as a threat, send a signal to its wing muscles, adjust its flight and avert disaster.

There are a few aspects that make this possible. One is its brain and ocular processing. A hummingbird has special processing which is especially evolved to instantly identify oncoming threats. How a thing changes observable size — the closer the bigger — is the trick there. Another, more important, is the creature’s size. Electrical signals, traveling through neurons, takes time. The shorter the distance, the faster the reaction. If a hummingbird were the size of a crow or eagle, or human, the distance to send a “TURN RIGHT OR DIE!” command would grow and take a proportionally longer time. Additionally, its size constrains its weight which being slight, allows it to instantly change course — less weight, less inertia, easier vector changes.

We don’t often think about milliseconds in nature, but the hummingbird personifies such measurement. It’s truly a wonderment of evolution, a miraclulous biological machine.