The stuff that spills out of my head. Half Journal, half Blog, half stream of consciousness, half meaningless blather, half....
My name is Cody Clark.
If you're interested, you can find out about me here and here. But this is the site where I am most at home. Please excuse the mess.
I love guests, like everybody else, so sign my Guestbook.
Oh and if you wish to shower me with gifts, here's my wish list.
United Future Organization
Bowling For Soup
The Constant Companion
by Eknath Easwaran
by Leonard Sweet
The Perennial Philosophy
by Aldous Huxley
Peace Like A River
by Leif Enger
by Bruce Sterling
An Intimate History of Humanity
by Theodore Zeldin
by Neil Gaiman
by Don Delillo
Creating Positive Futures
by James Ogilvy
Stuff To Do
Work on Waitt Foundation Community Site content
Finally learn how to use Paint Shop Pro
Put poetry on website
Finish friend's tshirt
Paint more tshirts
People to See
Fred from Floyd
Places to Go
Building Tomorrow's Communities
Arts & Letters Daily
SciTech Daily Review
Business Daily Review
Red Rock Eater
The Marriage Movement
Friday, February 28, 2003
This sounds like fun, especially when accompanied by alcohol (or massive quantities of caffeine): The One Thousand Blank White Cards game. (via Caterina)
Rules are simple: 1) Draw (literally) five cards to start, and then on each turn 2) Play a Card and then draw (literally) a card. The rest is left up to the imagination, including the object of the game.
Here's a pretty imaginative deck, just to give you and idea.
Anyone for a rousing game? Sounds like an evening of creative, useless fun.
Head in the Clouds
My current book I am using for Lectio Divinia is Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy. It's one of those dense books where one page inspires a full day's thought at minimum, so I may be talking about it for a few months hence.
It is an attempt to glean a "Perennial Philosophy," a term coined by mathematician, philosopher (and Catholic convert) Gottfried Leibnitz, from the writings of the world's mystical traditions. This is like the "common watertable" of spiritual truth I was referring to a few days ago. I am feeling a real draw toward the Unitive right now. Maybe it's because the world seems to be falling apart, I dunno.
Anyway, expect me to bore you with a few tidbits along the way. There's this one point about the natures of God that my mind is wrestling with -- about the possibly unpleasant side effects of worshipping only limited aspects of God -- that I want to write about, but I can barely grok the concepts themselves, much less find the words to describe my thoughts about them.
That is the benefit of spiritual blogging. Having to come up with concise words facilitates understanding. Not that I am particularly concise, but I am downright terse compared to Huxely.
I identify with Huxley in a way. It's evident that he was torn between the world of ideas and the "real" world he was "missing out" on by having his head in the clouds all the time. I'm so there. Here's a poem he wrote that I present as exhibit A:
The Life Theoretic
While I have been fumbling over books
And thinking about God and the Devil and all,
Other young men have been battling with the days
And others have been kissing the beautiful women.
They have brazen faces like batering-rams.
But I who think about books and such -
I crumble to impotent dust before the struggling,
And the women palsy me with fear.
But when it comes to fumbling over books
And thinking about God and the Devil and all,
Why, there I am.
But perhaps the battering-rams are in the right of it,
Perhaps, perhaps…God knows.
-- Aldous Huxley
Thursday, February 27, 2003
I can get coffee from Lola Savannah, Houston's best microroaster, without having to go downtown. You can too.
How to lose interest in a movie in the last ten minutes.
We went to see, for lack of more appealing options in the time slot we had available, "How to lose a guy in ten days" last night. Clever premise -- a lightweight snack of a romantic comedy that derails in the last ten minutes. Take my advice and catch it on cable or video.
In it, Kate Hudson's character drives her new boyfriend nuts by being clingy, showing up at his office, leaving 17 messages on his answering machine, talking incessantly about "the relationship," and not letting him watch sports.
Yes, you guessed it. It's a documentary.
You've Got Class (action, that is)
If you've ever, even once, purchased a pre-recorded Music product from a retail outlet in the years from 1995-2000, well surprise surprise, you've been screwed. However slightly.
Apparently the major music retailers got caught price-fixing, they've been successfully sued in a class action suit, and you're in the class.
You can identify yourself as a claimant in the class by going to musicsettlement.com and being counted. No actual proof of purchase is required. The deadline is this Monday, March 3rd. So, chop chop.
You won't get rich. Chances are you won't get a check large enough to merit a trip to the bank. Awards are to be no more than $20/person. And that is reduced as the number of claimants increases. So don't tell anyone, okay? ;)
This reminds me of Douglas Hofstadter's Luring Lottery, where the prize was $1,000,000 divided by the number of entrants. It's an exercise in social cooperation, because the rules said that you contribute as many entries (free) as you want, so you can improve your own chances by reducing the payoff for (yourself and) others. A truly altruistic person would either enter only once or not at all to keep the overall benefit of the game high. Hofstadter was betting that peoples' greed would override their collective altruism. Hofstadter won his bet -- the winner was awarded a few thousandths of a penny.
This settlement is a bit like that except for one key difference. Yes, you can only "enter" once, but the biggest difference is that if the individual payoff gets low enough (less than $5), the whole pot goes to charity. That's the outcome I'm hoping for. I'd rather see the money go to charity than get a check for $5.13 in the mail. But, still, $5.13 is $5.13.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Praise the wet snow
Praise the shadow
my neighor's chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
the invisible sun burning beyond
the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney's shadow.
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our murderous hand,
and gives us
in the shadow of death,
our daily life,
and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.
-- Denise Levertov
In a kind of un-catalog, Chris provides a portal page of 40 meditation practices in four postures -- walking, standing, sitting, laying.
Besides the ability to link people, my other favorite thing about the Internet is its tendency to provide useful aggregations of existing information. Like Chris' new page that collects the poems of Denise Levertov.
This is so cool. Somewhere between fandom and "too much free time" this guy has put together a bang-up tribute site to Richard Linklater's Waking Life. An animated movie that, upon repeated viewings, is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites. He's got the script from all of the philosophical ramblings organized by character. So now you can read the movie. Very cool indeed.
Here's my favorite quote from the movie, from the animated character played by Linklater himself:
"There's only one instant, and it's right now, and it's eternity. And, it's an instant in which God is posing a question, and that question is basically, "Do you wanna be one with eternity, do you want to be in heaven?" And, we're all saying, "Nooo thank you, not just yet." And so time is actually just this constant saying "No" to God's invitation. I mean, that's what time is. It's no more 50 A.D. than it's 2001. There's just this one instant, and that's what we're always in. ...This is the narrative of everyone's life. Behind the phenomenal difference there is but one story, and that's the story of moving from the "No" to the "Yes." All of life is like, "No thank you, No thank you, No thank you." And then, ultimately, it's, "Yes I give in, Yes I accept, Yes I embrace." I mean, that's the journey. Everyone gets to the "Yes" in the end, right?"
At the end of this conference sponsored by Time Magazine, Ray Kurzweil, everybody's favorite positive extrapolist, predicts that coming biotech advances will allow him to live to be 1,000 years old.
This reminds me of what Ian Pearson, British Telecom's in-house futurologist, told me a coupla years back. It went something like, "We may be the last generation that has to die. I can't tell you how much that annoys me."
Such speculations leave me wondering how long I really *want* to live. How long, as a faithful Christian, *should* I live? Are we made to cling to this life? Remember that whole "dying to self" thing? Will we have to actually *choose* to go to heaven?
Part of my life goals, though, has been to live into the upper quadrant of whatever the life expectancy bell curve is for my demographic when I am old. I don't want my survivors to feel cheated. I want them to be assured by my long life and that it was "my time" to go. But what do we do when faced with the freedom to indefinitely delay our "time to go," our own natural demise?
And, as a matter of social justice, just how large should we let the "Longevity Gap" get? How much longer should the faithful Christian seek to live than the poorest in our world? We Americans already enjoy a lifespan longer than those in the developing world. The world's poorest people, many children actually, die young for lack of access to the most basic medical technology such as $.80 measles vaccinations and basic nutrients. How much worse will this gap get when we among the richest populations have access to new life-extending technologies?
Granted, Kurzweil, as usual, is being wildly optimistic. And, as usual, the press seizes on the wildest and most sensationalistic prediction at the conference. But it's a possibility that we ought to consider. When we start mucking with life and death, we are also mucking with our concepts of redemption, judgement, and the afterlife. What would Jesus do?
Monday, February 24, 2003
Hera Fan Club
Gwen wanted to be an Aphrodite but is a Hera instead. She waxes poetic on the Hera archetype:
"I walk through the playground and little kids I don't even know slide over towards my legs like little flesh magnets, my big hips their umbrella. Stray cats see me and meow for scraps. Dumb dogs lick my hands. If you know me in real life, you know I'm followed around by a single word, repeated over and over. "Mom. Mom. Mom.".... Sometimes Hera longs to venture from her hearth for a moment -- to go to a movie or maybe even to a bar. She glares at Aprhodite on the television screen. Sighs and flips through a magazine. Skims through a story about some asshole turning some girl to a swan, a lute, or a damned linden tree. Hey, Target's having a sale on bed sheets tomorrow.
Hera yawns and falls asleep against her throw pillows that smell like the shoes of little boys."
I know first hand that there are men who adore Hera. Mortal men who think Aphrodite to be as unattainable and insubstantial as a wisp of steam. Who want their goddesses to have substance, gravitas, and hips to rest their eyes on. Who wonder why Hera puts up with Zeus' antics. Who wish Hera would give a mere mortal a chance. We should form a fan club.
Saturday, February 22, 2003
Not that I've been following the show, but the finale of the Bachelorette shows that you don't have to be very good to get some benefit out of writing poetry. Good for him.
And a nice poem:
One thought of integrity
wants it to be
an intrinsic, indestructible me, a one and only--
but misses it's one
into which all has gone
and from which all has come--
cannot look back,
see the star's, the square's lack,
the interminable circle surrounds the fact.
-- Robert Creeley
Many Roads, One Path
"Make every act an offering to me; regard me as your only protector. Relying on interior discipline, meditate on me always. Remembering me, you shall overcome all difficulties through my grace. But if you will not heed me in your self-will, nothing will avail you."
-Bhagavad Gita 18:57-58
Which reminds me of this:
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6
And confirms for me once again that, deep beneath the cultural vagaries of religious practices, there is a common watertable of spiritual truth from whence is drawn "Living Water." The same kind Jesus spoke of at the well.
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Lest ye have to answer to this totally righteous dude. Go read it. It's the best preachin' I've read or heard in a while. (thanks Kurt)
Me - "What are you thinking?"
Her - "Oh, nothing really."
Your breath gathers time
between bites. I chew,
noting that Nothing invites
both assurance and anxiety
as if there should be
Some words to fill the spaces
between our lips.
Silence is our uneasy friend
Our third wheel, but still a friend.
Our void is not a vacuum.
In your deliberate distinctness, You,
Whom I love,
Whom I would gladly walk blindly into the night with,
Stare quietly over your plate, consuming --
as I am also consuming --
Our Blessed Space;
All we think about when we stop thinking
All we say when we stop talking
All we dream about when we stop wishing
All our spirits hold when we stop praying
Not empty, this Nothing.
And, still chewing, I smile
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
To Hell in a basket
And hawkish Washington idiots are packing the sandwiches.
"A leaked document suggests that Washington is beginning detailed planning for a new generation of smaller nuclear weapons.
The document - published by an anti-proliferation watchdog and confirmed as genuine by US officials - indicates the weapons could be used against targets like deep bunkers that contain chemical or biological agents..."
So now we might violate anti-proliferation rules to enforce anti-proliferation rules? We are living in a truly insane time.
Bowen Island Reverie, part 2: Island of the Cultural Creatives
(This is the last post about Bowen Island. I'll move on after this, I promise.)
When Chris and I met at the coffee house in Snug Cove Sunday morning, I realized that my vacation to Bowen Island was really God's way of giving me a glimpse into my preferred future. She may have been setting before me an agenda of sorts that dovetails well with my current work on the future of community building. Some sort of mandate maybe, but I'll have to pray more about that.
Chris launched into his description of the commmunity's vision and planning effort -- Bowen 2042. Apparently he's facilitating the process using Open Space technology in conjunction with an outfit called the Sustainable Development Research Institute. They apparently have adopted Bowen as a pilot project for an innovative simulation game called QUEST which allows people to make choices about their desired future and then map out a strategy to get started making those choices happen. The Bowen/SDRI project has even been featured in Utne Online. It looks pretty impressive.
But what really impressed me is where Chris and his compadres were taking this beyond mere sustainability into creating an "Inviting Community." You see, they think sustainability is well and good, but not an end in itself. By itself, sustainability tends to turn toward limiting or restrictive modes of thinking -- restricting use of limited resources, opposing new development, limiting growth, etc. The Bowen planners are fitting the sustainabilty help from SDRI into a larger model of an "Inviting Community." In an age where some of the more progressive communities are just waking up to the possibilities of doing some sustainability practices, Bowen is already looking beyond that to something broader.
So Bowen Island, a municipality of less than 4,000 people that nevertheless has a "Sustainability Task Force" and a "Lifelong Learning Society" and a community theatre and a community choir, is a model of community to learn from. It's what I call "The Island of the Cultural Creatives" (They came! They conquered! They established "Learning Circles!"...)
When I say I'd like to retire to Bowen, I mean I'd like to retire to *a* Bowen, not just *the* Bowen I visited this last week. I want to live out my years in a place that is that self-aware, that inviting, that diverse and creative. I want to be a part of a community that is intimately tied to its geography. A community that has a common vision and strives to make it real.
So I gush about Bowen not because I think it's the best darn vacation spot in the world and eveyone should go there. I just think that Bowen Island may be on the right track toward being a truly inviting community. And that's a track I want to be on. Even if I have to be a change driver to help make it happen wherever I end up.
And that may be part of the agenda that God's laying before me. Who knows...
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Bowen Island reverie, part 1
Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but I think I found a piece of my soul on Bowen Island. Or at least a vision of my preferred future.
Yes, we had a wonderful time.
On Bowen Island we felt like guests, not tourists. Unlike some vacation destinations of the "resort" variety, Bowen Island felt real, not like a facade erected for the purpose of entertaining me in exchange for my tourist dollars.
Heidi and I were, for a few days, guests in a home, guests in a small community. Sure, we spent our weighty American tourist dollars, but we had the satisfaction of knowing that each dollar we spent went directly to real flesh and blood people. People who are trying to make enough to enable them to stay on an idyllic island far from the security of the large-employer paychecks available to those who attempt the lengthy commutes to the mainland.
Bowen is a hard place to make a living. No large employers. It's a long commute to Vancouver that involves a not-too-cheap ferry ride which makes commuting by car problematic if not impractical. It's not much of a suburban bedroom community. As a result, people on the island get creative filling niches in the local economy to support their "Bowen Habit" (as I came to think of it.) I was happy my money went to support someone else's alternative to the mainstream nine-to-five drudgery.
In Bowen, we were among the locals. So much so that my mind couldn't help entertaining the future possibility of residing there myself. I even went through the mental exercise of figuring out what'd be my biggest gripe if I were a local -- which was how much of the beautiful coastal vistas were privately owned -- and figuring out what my niche would be if I were to try to support myself there. It's a nice place to visit, but I'd really like to live there.
There are lots of beautiful places in the world to live, but Bowen Island is a rare combination that I want for my own retirement place. Small, bucolic community with a cozy feel and breathtaking natural beauty. Artsy quirky local culture. Not too far from a major urban area to get my "city boy" fixes. And cool, temperate climate. Sure I could probably find a "Bowen" elsewhere in the country, maybe even in Texas. But it was nice to take the concept for a test drive.
But what really makes Bowen a rare jewel, one that'll be hard to match elsewhere, is the unique community dynamic. But that's another post, and it involves my coincidental acquaintance, Chris Corrigan, and our meeting about the work he does.
Monday, February 17, 2003
Back From Vacation
"Back from vacation", the barber announces,
or the postman, or the girl at the drugstore, now tan.
They are amazed to find the workaday world
still in place, their absence having slipped no cogs,
their customers having hardly missed them, and
there being so sparse an audience to tell of the wonders,
the pyramids they have seen, the silken warm seas,
the nighttimes of marimbas, the purchases achieved
in foreign languages, the beggars, the flies,
the hotel luxury, the grandeur of marble cities.
But at Customs the humdrum pressed its claims.
Gray days clicked shut around them; the yoke still fit,
warm as if never shucked. The world is still so small,
the evidence says, though their hearts cry, "Not so!"
-- John Updike
Back from Bowen Island, a hidden gem of beautiful British Columbia. I expect to make several posts on my vacation before the yoke of gray days clicks shut on me. Since routine is the sly enemy of any renewal experience, there are some things I'll want to write down before the humdrum claims that space on my plate.
My general impression is that it was every bit the relaxing getaway we'd hoped for. But we stayed a day too long. We spent the last day in a funk, missing home terribly, and feeling a bit satiated on unstructured free time. Kind of how you would feel while eating your fifth bananna split -- it was too much.
But the overall efect was a good one. We left feeling more than satistfied, renewed, and oh so appreciative of our Home. Ah, our Home. And since so much about Bowen Island and its remarkable community culture is about cultivating a sense of Home, it is a fitting way to leave.
I'd write more, but we got home late and I have to get up early. So much to tell...
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Turns out I am sick. Heretofore unidentified bugs are attacking my ears and throat. I'm sending more bugs, albeit the trained kind, in after them. My head is a battlefield. I hope my family, especially my kids, don't get this.
That's because we're supposed to be going on vacation -- a fifteenth anniversary getaway to British Columbia -- starting tomorrow. Sick kids could ground us. But other concerns like the latest terrorist threats, straining finances, and my health are not going to stop us. We're going whether it makes sense or not, dammit.
That's 'cause Heidi and I have a history of putting off that "just us" getaway, every time we seriously consider it, because it's not "sensible." A few years back, a mere day before a romantic bed and breakfast weekend getaway we'd planned, we decided to just have a kidless weekend at home (We'd never turn down free babysitting. We're not crazy.) and we -- I am kidding you not -- bought a couch instead.
Heidi and I are great about making time for our marriage in the form of dates, volunteer time, and even retreats. But to spend money on plane tickets and a hotel and adult food and adult activities and go somewhere and just chill in luxury does not seem "sensible."
So this weekend we are going to break the "sensible" barrier and do something that goes against our prudent instincts. We're going to be nonsensible.
Alas one of the many things that will be left to founder while we're off galavanting around being irresponsible is Overflow. I'll post again sometime mid-next-week. Pray for us that we don't run out of money, kids don't get sick, or we don't get blown up by terrorists. That'd be such an "I told you so" kind of thing if we get blown up by terrorists on our nonsensible weekend getaway. The stuff cautionary tales are made of. We don't want a cautionary tale, just a nice vacation.
It is a beautiful morning...
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
And if your spirit
carries within it
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
---- Mary Oliver
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Lacking time to post before my doctor's appointment this morning (Ack. I'm getting sick.) and lacking any idea of what to say for myself anyway, I'll post this delightful poem by Brian Patten. It captures my mood lately better than I can:
"The Minister for Exams"
When I was a child I sat an exam.
The test was so simple
There was no way I could fail.
Q1. Describe the taste of the moon.
It tastes like Creation I wrote,
it has the flavour of starlight.
Q2. What colour is Love?
Love is the colour of the water a man
lost in the desert finds, I wrote.
Q3. Why do snowflakes melt?
I wrote, they melt because they fall
onto the warm tongue of God.
There were other questions.
They were as simple.
I described the grief of Adam when he was expelled from Eden.
I wrote down the exact weight of an elephant's dream.
Yet today, many years later,
For my living I sweep the streets
or clean out the toilets of the fat hotels.
Why? Because I constantly failed my exams.
Why? Well, let me set a test.
Q1. How large is a child's imagination?
Q2. How shallow is the soul of the Minister for Exams?
Saturday, February 08, 2003
A few weeks ago I downloaded a number of songs by groups like p'tahh, fizzarum, and deadalus, experimental music that fused funky hip-hop beats, chillout style melodies, and a smattering of ambient machine noise, just enough to give the music a geeky funky feel. Kind of like circa 1970's Kraftwerk meets Tricky-era Massive Attack. Chillout music for cyborgs.
What to call my mix? Glitch Funk? Geek Hop? I settle on writing "Ambient Noise Funk" in sharpie on my new mix CD. Turns out that there's a name for this type of "emerging music" and I just didn't know it -- Blip Hop.
David Byrne, who was into World Music back in the early nineties before World Music was cool, in collaboration with the International Center for Comparative Sound, has put together a compilation of the early Blip Hop standouts. Reviews are mixed, as I'd expect them to be for any edgy offering. Mostly just to prove the RIAA wrong, I bought myself a copy. My reviews are mixed too. So far.
But it's always fun to learn a new word. Be the "first on my block." Yadda Yadda. Blip Hop. I wanna be an "early adapter" when I grow up.
Friday, February 07, 2003
Baby Umbrella and Baby Boogie
Petunia likes a game I call "Baby Hat" -- I hold her on top of my head (with both hands, don't worry) and say "Baby haaaaat!" while she laughs and squeals. So yesterday it was raining lightly and she had her coat on and I had nothing, so I invented "Baby Umbreeeeeelllaa!" Which she liked even more. She laughed so hard that Heidi, the one responsible adult in the family, didn't even scold me.
We probably won't get many chances to play that one, but it's a new game in the Clark Family repertoire. Here in the Clark Household we're always looking to innovate, seeking to create new kid games and teases to replace the old tired standards like "Pull my finger." and "Got your nose."
I think Mr. Freshpants senses this inventive spirit because he came up with an innovation of his own -- something I call Blanket Boogie. He had his beloved blankie -- "Night Night" he calls it -- spread out on the floor and, while he was distracted, Petunia crawled on top of it. Because she can neither read nor write, Petunia is not aware of the decree that says Petunia cannot touch anything that belongs to Mr. Freshpants. Ever. So naturally Mr. Freshpants went to enforce the decree by doing the toddler equivalent of the old tablecloth trick. Except he wasn't quite strong enough to pull the blanket out from under her, so he just pulled her around the tile floor. Petunia so enjoyed the ride that Mr. Freshpants got into it too. So now Mr. Freshpants is a bona fide Clark Family innovator and Baby Boogie was born. (Yes, we supervise that one. Duh.)
Petunia is showing promise. We've been trying to develop her fine motor skills by getting her to eat her meal from a bowl with a baby spoon instead of putting her food on the tray and letting her shovel it into her mouth (and ears, and hair...) like a barbarian.. So she quickly invented the game called "What's on the bottom side of this bowl? Ooops." Then, seeing how Mom and Dad reacted to "WOTBOTB? O." with such, um, energy, she invented a new game. This is where she pretends to eat from the bowl, waits until Mom or Dad are halfway across the kitchen, and then holds the bowl in the air tilted just so that it's about to spill. Usually she'll look at us and smile. That game is called "How fast can I make Mommy run?" And she thought of it all on her own.
We're so proud
Thursday, February 06, 2003
Community as Superhero. Are you on(to) the Global Frequency?
I had a Serious Geek Moment yesterday. I was standing in a comic book store talking with the clerk who had way too much knowledge of comic books, even for a clerk in a comic book store, talking about Warren Ellis' new series called Global Frequency. I was recounting how I'd read about the comic series in MIT Technology Review and how Ellis' idea is the first pop-cultural application I had seen of the compelling new theory about political power and social affiliation in Howard Rheingold book Smart Mobs. Good futurists know that one can find emerging cultural memes in the comic books and video games of the emerging generation.
Then I thought to myself, "Cody, listen to yourself. You are such a total, serious nerd. It's a good thing you're aready married."
Anyway, my interest was piqued because I am studying and scanning for tidbits on the future of community and this was an inteteresting cultural idea -- community as superhero. In Global Frequency, when the world is threatened, it's not Superman or even the Justice League that comes swooping out of the sky to save the planet. It's this loose network of "everyday people" that come together to meet the threat. Kind of like a volunteer fire department on steroids.
Granted, the "everyday people" are not so "everyday" -- ex special forces operatives, intelligence specialists, helicopter pilots, hackers, ex-cops, etc.-- and the action is still very... Let's say it's still written with the rippling muscles, gore, and explosions that a medium that caters to young males demands.
But it's the *idea* that superheroes can be replaced by people banding together and helping out of a sense of altruism that's a novel idea. And it's one that I like the idea of exposing to the young men (and yes, some women) who read sci-fi comic books. They are, most likely, the technocrats who will be making decisions about the world when I'm in my golden years.
The Music of Strangers
I saw a good movie last night called The Business of Strangers. Typical indy film fare. Well-written and well-acted. Dialogue and character heavy, light on the plot and action. It was a three star movie.
But what struck me most -- what sent me immediately to the Internet -- was the haunting, percussive, minimalist score by Alexander Lasarenko. But I couldn't find him anywhere -- that is I couldn't find any place to get his music, a bio, or any info about his non-film work.
So if you happen by my site -- and I know this happens from time to time -- and you know about this guy and where to possibly get some of his charming music, drop me a line.
Back To Life, Back To Reality
I'm reading my last few posts and realizing how morose I sound. Let me assure you it's not all tears and black armbands down here. I am back to work. Life goes on, as it always does.
My emotional response to the Columbia tragedy is not a constant thing. It is a thing that apparently bubbles up from time to time when I hit certain triggers. And as time passes the triggers are farther apart. I do plan to find and buy an STS-107 mission shirt. Not the ones that are being designed now that look more like souvenirs than anything. Just a simple shirt with an STS-107 mission patch. I'll wear my STS-107 pin. And I'll do my job with a redoubled focus and sense of urgency, just like everyone else around me.
Thanks to those of you who sent me emails of support. I love the Internet.
I am also back to Overflow. More mindful meanderings to come.
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
This time it's personal
Saturday morning was pretty traumatic for me and a lot of people. But by Saturday night, I thought I had a handle on my emotions. Our good friends brought us dinner Saturday evening and kept us company, and by the time I went to bed that night I was feeling thankful for having such supportive family and friends.
And then Sunday morning I couldn't make it through the front section of the paper without crying. I had to read the sports section. Nope, not over it yet.
Then Monday morning, going to work, I made the sign of the cross while passing the front gates at JSC and burst into tears in my car. Nope, not yet.
Today, watching the memorial ceremony, each ring of that bell was like a shot through my heart as my coworkers and I wept for the families.
It'll be along time before I'm over this.
We take a lot of pride in the seriousness with which we take our jobs. We work as a team to ensure the safety of a crew in an environment they could not otherwise survive. We take it very personally.
And somehow, despite all of our efforts, at the end of what looked like a picture perfect fight, something about the job our team does went wrong and the crew died. We take that very personally.
And I was unrealistic to believe that a few days of grieving would get me over what I experienced Saturday morning in the Mission Control Center. I take it too personally.
Sunday, February 02, 2003
"Almighty ruler of the all
Whose power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe -
Oh grant Thy mercy and Thy grace
To those who venture into space."
-- Robert A. Heinlein
"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sunsplit clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of....
Wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along
And flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And while with silent, lifting mind
I've trod the high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
--John Gillespie Magee, Jr."
Just some comforting poetry. Words, writing them and reading them, are my particular comfort when I'm sad.
Saturday, February 01, 2003
As the NASA folks on TV were saying, "We will find out what caused this. We will fix it. And we will move on." Petunia took her first step.
Move on indeed.
Out of the Blue
Nobody had any idea. It was a freaking picture perfect flight. Trajectory was spot-on nominal. Until it just stopped.
I was sitting in Mission Control with the usual cast of characters who support the Shuttle's critical flight phases for the various flight critical systems, watching a perfect ground track and watching two clocks -- the countdown to AOS for the C-band tracking station MILA, and the countdown to touchdown itself. When the first clock counted up to zero and went positive, we worried that the C-band radar at MILA was bad somehow, because it couldn't lock onto a signal. We didn't register that the loop chatter about hydraulics and tire pressure were connected to the fact that the groundtrack had stopped over Texas. There was a horrible, confused, minute while each of us, sitting in stunned silence put two and two together in our heads. The touchdown clock counted up to zero and then went positive. No Columbia.
And then the contingency procedures kicked in.
If had any doubts about the dedication and consummate professionalism of the people I work with in the space program, they're gone now. Everyone went into the procedures they had trained for and drilled over and simultaneously dreaded and had faith they'd never have to do. They worked the contingency checklist with the utmost efficiency, all the while wiping tears from their eyes. I could feel the shock and stunned sadness in the air. But I could also feel the hardening resolve and the pulling together.
From the cafeteria people who started churning out free food to the Control Center personnel who had been up all night and were suddenly facing a very long day, to those of us who came in to babysit systems that worked so flawlessly that they hardly ever needed babysitting, everybody sprang up to do whatever they could to help. And for most of us, helping meant staying out of the way of the people in the headsets, who were rushing around with moist eyes, set jaws, and resolute stares. Paying attention in case our little part of this mountain of Shuttle technical support is needed for something -- anything that could help.
But all most of us could do was watch and pray. I poked my head in on the NAV console a few times. Nope, Trajectory Server was working great. One of the controllers told me that my tracking data table had logged over a thousand batches of data and rolled over succesfully for the second time in the Shuttle Program's history. (When the shuttle passes over a tracking station or within reach of a tracking sattelite, it produces a "batch" of data that navigators use.) I told him, "That's great, but I'd give anything to have that last goddamned batch." That C-band batch that was supposed to be over MILA.
I still can't believe it. I'm still in shock.