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“How very wet this water is.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

d_oh_posterWell … yeah.

A keen grasp of the obvious can be considered a skill, and often is by those who take pride in noticing something everyone notices, then bringing it to the attention of other noticers as if “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born” and such are revelations. (Quote attribution: Ronald Reagan. Yes. Really.)

Yes, it is hot and, yes, politicians lie and the earth is not flat and water is wet; film at 11 FFS!

“I figured something out. The future is unpredictable.”
John Green

It’s as plain as the nose on your face … but this is where the obvious gets tricky. No, not the future, but right here, right now.

Try this little exercise: Let’s assume you’re reading this post at the moment; pause after this line to think about what you see.

Words on the page? A glass of white wine? Some scenery? The covers of some books?

Okay. Now think about what you don’t see. Not the existential angst residing between the lines or possible motives for a woman to pass time so far up her own ass that she is compelled to write the shit down, but what you don’t SEE.

Your nose. You don’t see your nose, even though it’s right there in front of your organs of site, and depending on genetics could be blocking the view a bit, which is the reason the “Got Yer Nose” trick freaks little kids out.

This isn’t an ‘elephant in the room’ sort of thing, intentionally ignored for sake of convenience, but a part of your very own physical presence … and you miss it completely.

Despite the amazing resolution and sophistication the visual system has, what could be argued as one of its most interesting features is a mechanism of noise filtration in which the brain effectively ignores irrelevant information it receives, even resulting in features in the environment being completely deleted from the scene a person sees. One of the most familiar examples of this is that you can’t see your own nose when you look at a scene. The position of the nose means it should take a commanding, even blocking position in the visual field, and prevent us seeing objects in front of it. However, we never see the dark shadow of our nose when we look around. This is because the brain filters out the stimulus. Instead, it seems the scene is ‘filled in’ where the nose should be with what the brain ‘expects’ to see- the nose is there all the time, but rarely provides anything informative, so can usefully be ignored.

Which begs the question: What else are we missing?

Quite a lot, actually, and the more attention we pay, the more we miss through what is known as ‘inattentional blindness’:

One would imagine, that when a person is concentrating intensely on a task which involves vision, that they would be more observant. It seems, the opposite is the case, and they are in fact much more likely to miss obvious features in a scene presented right in front of their eyes. A famous example is what happens when subjects are shown a video of a basketball match, and are asked to count the number of passes that happen during a game sequence. During play, a person dressed in a gorilla costume crosses the shot. When asked to report on what they saw, a 1999 study showed subjects could report the number of passes observed, yet, incredibly did not report seeing the gorilla if asked whether they noticed anything unusual about the video. In fact, people appear flummoxed when they are told the gorilla featured, and are astounded when they watch the video back, knowing that it will appear.

Whether through inattentional blindness, preconceived notions or rose-tented specks, our capacity for a truly keen grasp of the obvious is greatly limited, and would serve us well to keep that in mind as we stumble more-than-half blindly through the world.

So, the next time you decide to point out that ‘it’s so feckin’ hot’ or ‘sitting in traffic sucks’ or ’Trump is a moron’, don’t worry too much about some Charlie Fletcher-like dude calling you “… the grand bloody panjandrum of the painfully bleeding obvious.”

Just give a smile that lets them know they might well have missed those bits. That’s my plan, so you who spend time in my company … you’re welcome.

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“if you will always give great ears to the cacophony of the masses instead of the solemn voice of your true purpose, you will never leave a distinctive footprint” ~` Ernest Agyemang Yeboah ~

A Truckload of Jingling Keys.

A Truckload of Jingling Keys.

With November on the horizon, many are making plans to encourage growth on their upper lip, or preparing purple or pink-and-blue or silver ribbons to replace the pink ones worn through October … all admirable endeavors.

I, however, having no desire for any more facial hair than I already spend too much time erasing and not a single straight pin in the house, am planning to put my nose to the grindstone, rather than use it to frame a statement, by accepting another November challenge … NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo), is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words (the minimum number of words for a novel) from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30.

I’ve had a number of novels percolating for years: a trilogy on the history of Africa as seen through the eyes of elephants; a completed, but as yet unpublished account about the gifts of terminal illness that needs a rewrite; the birth and life of a female messiah.

So many stories, so little time, motivation, energy, and far too much living and working and .. well … noise.

My personal odyssey, unlike Homer‘s, has not had me stumbling across any muse that might infuse inspiration. She could be avoiding me in deference to my lack of belief in inspiration getting work done or light-bubbles-of-creativity putting words on a page, paint on a canvas or notes on a score.

Nope. The only calliope following me around emits a continuous, cacophonous clamor, comes complete with shiny objects and has the ominous distinction of being known as Distraction.

Ambient sounds, especially with words, occupy about 5-10% of your intellectual bandwidth.” ~ Peter Rogers ~

charles-payne-quote-that-may-be-a-distractionAs Halloween draws near, ghosts of unformed prose haunt me. Throughout the day, they sneak in from corners of my mind … not good when driving … and by night come oh-so-close to materializing, then vanish to mist leaving me whimpering in my sleep to wake grasping at jingling keys as dogs bark and the phone rings and the need to pee drives the dregs of plot points and dialog fragments out of my head.

Closing in on the Oct/Nov cusp I’m buckling down, warming up, preparing to ignore all that can safely be ignored, focusing, organizing, finding voice, plotting direction, knowing characters, and …

… writing a blog post!

Fuckin’ shiny objects!

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According to T.L. Squeeze, there’s a ranch for sale near ’bouts Red Bluff, California, and I’m thinkin’ I want it.

No, I have no real wish to move back to the stifling little cow town I escaped from ASAP so many years ago, although it would be nice to have more time with my mother and she still lives there. I don’t miss those 115 degree summer days that left so much of my flesh stuck to steering wheels or the sight of tobacco juice dribbling from the lips of good ole boys; most of my memories of the place are prosaic and fraught.

There are good people there and may still be the possibility of getting a decent margarita at the Iron Horse or the Palomino Room, hopefully without the strains of “Gloria” blaring, and as pleasant as those peeps and drinks and atmosphere might be I have no interest in living their again.

It’s the ranch idea that has me going this morning, but maybe not for reasons others would understand.

I could just as easily … read: it’s impossible anyway, so why the hell not dwell on the images for a while … do some ranching in Africa, although it would be called a “farm”. (As in, “I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills … “)

I’d like that, actually, being steeped for so many years in the lives of women who carved places on the continent for themselves in the early days of the last century and wrote eloquently about how bloody hard that was.

I could maybe even call this one-acre-plus bit of African island I already have a ranch if pressed, but there’s not enough room for more than maybe one cow, and it’s cows I need, you see.

Cows, and that whole “ranch” thing because it’s a brand I’d be going for, and I’m not after leather on the hoof stamped “Prada”, if that’s what you’re thinking.

Nope.

I want to drive on to my place under a sign that reads: But Bar None Ranch.

Why?

Because I want to drive by cattle branded thusly:

:-0

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Mornings are weird

WTF ... On with the show ...

Mornings are weird. Or at least my mornings are weird.

I do wake up to an amazing view of the Indian Ocean sparkling back at me the first rays of the rising sun … most certainly not what a great deal of the world sees upon opening eyes … but this can hardly be the reason I so often have the most ridiculous collection of words in my head.

This morning’s offering:

Harry Potter to Voldemort :
Your eventual demise is as plain as the nose on your face.

Huh?

Sure, I got a bit of a giggle out of that one, but I do wonder where this shit comes from.

I recall just waking from a dream in which I was packing to either move or travel with the aid of a conveyance that was some combination of very long planks attached to things much like skateboards upon which I precariously loaded cases and boxes and … oh … a couple of dogs and Helmut, our giant tortoise. What this has to do with bad jokes of computer generated images of a fictional character I have no idea.

This happens often, waking with words. Occasionally I’ll write them down. This, for example, popped out fully formed a few years ago and amused me enough to prompt a jotting:

A Sir road in on a sorrel stallion
(Or was it a Rogue on a roan?
A boy on a bay … ?
A charmer on a chestnut … ?
A girl on a gelding …?
Light wasn’t good and
a brown one is a brown one is a brown one … )
and shouted:
The devil is in the details!
Pay attention!

It has occurred to me to try to examine these bursts of whatever the hell they are for some sort of meaning or root or cause or greater significance, but end up rejecting the thought. Like a theater critic must interrupt enjoyment of a performance to note technical aspects, picking apart what’s happening in my subconscious mind smacks of unnecessary breaking of flow and I’d rather just enjoy the show, especially those that leave behind a Playbill.

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During a long and pleasant conversation with Tom yesterday, we covered a bit of the territory involving the latest palaver over the … dumb da dumb doomend of the world, which according to some nut case in Oakland should be rolling around a week from Saturday.

May 21, 2011, is the latest attempt to get a jump on Judgment Day, courtesy of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio, a nonprofit evangelical Christian group.

Apparently, this particular flavor of nut has cracked before, but this time is really sure.

Family Radio, whose president, Harold Camping, predicted the End of Days before: Sept. 6, 1994. Camping had been “thrown off a correct calculation because of some verses in Matthew 24,” a company spokesman told ABC News this month.

The Christian radio broadcaster is apparently more confident this time around, spending big bucks on 5,000 billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.

And why not? Spend, spend and spend some more, I say, as what the hell else would one do on the last days?

Really. What?

Say the end really is nigh, there’s a week or a month or a year left before the planet explodes, implodes, offloads … whatever … and we somehow know this to be fact.

What?

What do we do differently?

Okay, we spend time with our loved ones, touch all the bases that need touching, convey all the emotions as best we can. Depending on the time allowed, perhaps we watch the sunset from a pyramid or ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower or swim the English Channel or otherwise check off bucket-list items.

Some might choose to get in all the get-backs they’ve been venomizing over for years. but the idea of taking an enemy out loses impact when we’re all in for it, dunnit? Why do some asshole the favor of an early checkout?

And there’s the point … we ARE all in for it. Sure, probably not at the same time under the same circumstances in the same conflagration or whatever, but the fact o’ the matter is, none of us get out of this alive so we might as well live as if we’ll die someday, somehow, somewhere.

That, of course, is hardly the point of the predictors of pending extinction, however, and maybe … just maybe … they’ve got the better handle on the big picture: End of the World = money in the bank.

Those who buy into the idea might very well run up their credit cards in what they are convinced is a “live for today” frenzy, but there’s hell to pay if they’ve been sold a bill of goods that doesn’t deliver.

For some, though, it delivers well enough …

Edgar Whisenant didn’t get it right the first time, either, when he predicted a mid-September 1988 Rapture, even publishing the books “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988” and “On Borrowed Time.” No Apocalypse, no problem. The former NASA engineer simply pushed his predictions off to three subsequent years and wrote books along the way, none of which reportedly sold as well as the first two.

Interestingly, there’s no little advice on stuff you should have on hand to … and this I so don’t get … survive the end of the world.

Here’s just one list:

# Canned food something that does not need refrigeration
# Canned meats, spam , chicken, tuna etc you need at least 3 ounces of protein per person per day.
# Water can be stored in the 2 ½ gallon containers with the pour spout which are sturdy and easily stackable. Other sources of emergency water are discussed in the water section.
# Blankets should be available for all
# Water filter Brita or pump type
# Sugar cubes for energy, breakfast bars
# Small grill , propane barbeque or camping grill ( power is likely to be out)
# Cash for purchases if the power is out using small bills because change may not be possible.
# Parachute cord 100ft 550 pound test
# Duct tape one roll to seal around doors and window, tape bags together for emergency shelter or rain gear, and general mending.
# Needles and thread just sturdy thread clothes will need to be mended and occasionly a cut will need to be sewn shut as well
# Survival manual one that has a lot of pictures and information in it several are recommended on this site
# Plastic tarps with grommets at least 2 of 10 ft x 10ft each.
# Plastic coated playing cards
# Battery operated radio preferably crank type rechargeable and two changes of batteries
# Dishwashing soap and clean dish towels 2 or paper towels water can be scarce
# Manual can opener either the ecko hand crank type or the smaller survival type
# Trash bags 30 gallon or larger two for each person with twist ties. They can be used as emergency ponchos, trash bags, emergency toilets ( the plumbing may not work)
# Buy a 3 gallon paint bucket, one cheap toilet seat $5 and use the seat on the bucket and deodorise with aqua chem, an RV tank sanitizer to control the smell. Otherwise twist tie the bag closed it will smell bad in a confined area.
# Some sturdy dishes metal plates work fine and can be found at camping stores. A family sized mess kit will have pots plates and cups inside along with some silverware usually but check it.
# One or more really good flashlights. The new LED lights use a lot less power and last longer than regular bulbs.
# Bug repellent larger size since bugs will come in out of the rain as well
# General medications like aspirin ibuprophen, pepto bismol, mouthwash,
# Deodorant you may be living cramped for quite a while and a couple of washcloths and towels.
# Air matteresses are good but blankets and bedding are a must for sleeping.
# Candles the power is likely to be out a long time and it gets real dark without it.
# Box of wooden matches in plastic with the striker so they do not get wet
# Butane lighter at least one more is better one of the long ones to light the candles and stoves
# Coleman lantern and Coleman stove
# Two gallons of the liquid fuel they are interchangeable and it can be used to start a barbeque pit or wood fire later if the wood is wet.
# Prescription medications at least enough for two weeks lots of times you can get a 30 day supply for travel etc and just rotate it out to keep it fresh.
# Towels and wash cloths with a bar of soap
# Diapers and extra trash bags if you have infant children any lotions or powders you may need and dry or canned formula.
# Several changes of clothing which are comfortable and right for the season
# Tooth paste and brushes
# A portable toilet seat and extra 20 gallon size trash bags with wire ties for your shelter if indoors.
# Handy wipes or baby wipes, water may make cleaning up difficult.
# Sanitary napkins for any women likely.

Well, that could push the edges of the credit envelope, but if the 22 of May dawns there’s always next year … Yikes! 2012! … to fall back on if MasterCard comes a knocking.

Think I might just put together a series of eBooks on fun stuff to do in those last 48 hours of Earth …

Amorous Armageddon: End of the World Sex That’s Out of This World ($9.99)

Ashes, Ashes All Fall Down: Entertaining Kids In the Final Hours ($9.99)

Sudden Death: Fun Games for Judgment Day($9.99)

… and an iPhone app that will send and manage goodbyes, last wishes, apologies and excuses in 4,000 languages. ($1.99)

Better get on this before the world ends, or I do …

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Bill Tabb with this comment:

That first link…it’s the butterfly effect. Or perhaps it’s Heisenberg. Either way, you cannot use the energy without somehow affecting it. The wind blows, the turbine turns, the turbulence created causes a drop of rain to fall in Mali, a seed germinates……

And lets keep religion out of it. That just throws a spanner in the works.

As for Oxford, let us not forget that while Newton made incredible contributions to our knowledge of how the solar system and the universe works and why stuff falls down, he was also one of the preeminent alchemists of his day.

You now owe me a letter, Bill!

I started writing this blog in an effort to build a place I could vent all that didn’t fit on the professional sites I wrote for and as a way to keep in touch before facebook made that so easy. Through it I have met the most wonderful people, reconnected with many I’d worried I’d lost and learned much from all.

To say I’m grateful for every click and comment is understating how blessed I am, but I am truly at a loss when it comes to conveying my thankfulness.

I will occasionally read back through posts, relive moments, and each time I do I realize how much sharing small bits of my world has brought me in return. In joy and grief, in rage and in praise, through celebrations and solitude, I have not been alone.

Yes, I live on this tiny island in the middle of a huge sea, but by connecting as I can … and having you connect back … I feel the threads that bind me to the greater fabric, and I love the tug that comes with being part of the weave.

Thank you.

Thank you.

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A post on a blog sent by a friend inspired mine today. Titled Musings on the Craft: Eloquence, I’m in complete agreement, but my mind took a wander.

What follows is the comment I submitted for moderation:

In my preteen years, my father handed me his copy of The Elements of Style with an admonishment to learn it all, but at my peril. Himself a slave to the rules for far too much of his adult life, his hope was that I would incorporate the niggley bits well enough to have them second nature and familiar to the point of contempt when appropriate.

Although driven to the destination called Distraction by the all-too-frequently cavalier typist-cum-writer — how many high school teachers dreaded my blue pencil — years of editing the work of others and multitudinous hours online harvesting info for fodder have honed my double-edged sword allowing swift cutting through crap even while noting a less-than-passing nod toward the convenient signposts of grammar and spelling.

Language as a living thing is a creature dear to my heart, and as it evolves, even through such bizarre mutations as text talk and mass rule, I’m comfy enough in the knowledge that the end of this road is beyond my alloted travel time to follow the bouncing ball when there’s enough to let me sing along.

Am I saying rules don’t matter? Nope. They do, and when I rule the world Strunk and White will be served up more often than Big Macs and the ubiquitous doyouwantfrieswiththat will come with punctuation.

In the meantime, however, I’m embracing the ease of communicating in writing that is opening channels and has peeps who had never contemplated what words look like punching in messages left and right.

As I have typed many times: No prob. This is chat, not lit.

So …

thx urgr8

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