May 7th, 2008

Kero asleep

Fictionlet

Brigid put her enormous leather bag down on her desk and was just lowering herself slowly down into her chair when a perky voice said, "Hi, Brigid, good morning, hello!"

With enormous effort, Brigid swiveled her head around to see the new girl Tammy? Sandy? Mary? Jeanie! hovering at her cubicle entrance. Jeanie was just as eager and enthusiastic now as she'd been all day yesterday and especially at her "welcome buddy" lunch, for which Brigid had drawn duty. "Hi, Jeanie," Brigid croaked, then turned back to her computer and went through the heroic battle of willpower it took to push the damn button that turned the piece of crap on.

"You shoulda come with us last night!" said Jeanie. "A bunch of us all went over to El Guapo's for drinks after work. It was so much fun! Karen and Vivian kept hitting on the bartender, even though he was obviously totally gay, and I tried out this new drink they have that's kinda like a margarita, except it's made with wine coolers and shaved ice and stuff."

"Sounds great," said Brigid. "What do you need?"

"Huh? Oh nothing, I just came over to say hello. Did you see that scarf thing that Karen had? Well no, I guess you wouldn't, 'cause you weren't there, but Karen had this scarf thing that was so cute. I asked her how much it was and she was all, 'oh, I can't remember, I've had this forever,' but I was like, 'pssh, yeah right, come on Karen.'"

"Mmmph," said Brigid, using more effort than she had been hoping to expend on it.

"Vivian said that she saw a scarf just like it at Bloomie's for like $75, and I was all 'No way!' I mean yeah, it was cute, but it wasn't that cute, you know what I mean? Then she asked the bartender what he thought of it and he was all 'I think it's FABulous!' and then we knew he was gay. I mean, what kind of guy says a scarf is 'FABulous', especially like that? 'FABulous.' It was so hilarious, Karen turned about ten shades of red and we were all laughing so hard! Oh, and then there was this cute guy down at the other end of the bar. He was with a bunch of his pals, all losers of course, but Vivian decided to try to pry him away from them with a..."

What fresh new hell is this? Brigid groaned inwardly, and slid down into an inexorable faceplant on her keyboard.

-The Gneech

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Party Guy

Happy Birthday, film2edit!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk):

lick-up


A miserably small pittance of anything, as if it were no more than the cat can take up by one stroke of her tongue.
—Rev. Robert Forby's Vocabulary of East Anglia, 1830


Beware of May Cats


A certain unluckiness is held all England over to attend a May kitten as well as a May baby. The latter will be sickly and difficult to rear; the former must be drowned without mercy; no good would come of rearing it; it would only bring snakes and slowworms into the house, and never kill a rat. Nay, it is averred that it would suck the breath of children. On this point, Rev. Hugh Taylor writes: "My groom, a native of North Tyne, tells me no one would keep a May cat because it would lie in the children's faces and suffocate them. He said there were many cases of children in that neighborhood having lost their lives from that cause. He himself has a cat they obliged to watch. If it is left alone in the house for a few minutes it is found lying on the baby's face."
—William Henderson's Folklore of the Northern Counties of England, 1879

Maybe it's just trying to get revenge for the inexcusable treatment its kin have received at the hands of medieval-minded superstitious yokels.

Just a thought.

-The Gneech
Mad Red

Linkity Roundup

From book_reviews: Stone, Kelly L: Time to Write
Oh, don't worry, the phrases "Burning Desire to Write" and "Vision of Success" still make my inner cynic smirk, but there's a helluva lot of great advice in this book, and the best thing about it is that every bit of it is made with the acknowledgment that every writer is different and therefore has different needs and drives (save for the initial "Burning Desire to Write").

How does this work? Well, partially because Stone interviewed over a 100 different writers for this book, writers of all genres--fiction and non-fiction--which therefore provides us with a variety of viewpoints and work habits. But Stone goes a step farther: we don't just get one writer saying, "Mornings are the best time to write" and another saying "Evenings are the best time to write," we get reasons WHY these writers say the things they do and then SUGGESTIONS on how to create such a schedule in your OWN life.


And the rest today are from old reliable, Arts & Letters Daily...

Dissent Magazine: The "Duke" and Democracy: On John Wayne
It's inevitable that with nearly two hundred pictures to his credit (Wayne's 1939 breakthrough, John Ford's Stagecoach was his eightieth movie), some of Wayne's roles do fit the traditional macho hero mold. But the image that persists of him seems more reinforced by things like his public support of conservative causes, as well as by his directing and starring in the pro-Vietnam War picture The Green Berets. And it's been reinforced by the fact that Wayne worked primarily in Westerns, the most frequently, and often baselessly, stereotyped of movie genres.

"John Wayne represents more force, more power than anyone else on the screen," his frequent director Howard Hawks once said. A performer who wields that kind of force, and has a physical presence to match, does not provide nuanced pleasure. But only the crudest reading would reduce the overwhelming force of Wayne's persona to gung-ho cheerleading for American right and American might. To be true to the contradictions and moral ambiguities of Wayne's best performances —
Stagecoach, Red River, The Searchers, True Grit, El Dorado — you'd have to say he stands not so much for American power as for the American experiment — and thus for the possibility that it could all go wrong.


Chronicle Review: The New Paternalism
What does a peculiar pattern on the road have to do with fixing the nation's health-care woes, protecting the environment, resolving the thorny issue of gay marriage, and increasing donations to charity? Everything, according to Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, a professor of law and political science at the University of Chicago. They are authors of a new book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Yale University Press), in which they articulate an approach to designing social and economic policies that incorporates an understanding of people's cognitive limitations.

They call this governing philosophy "libertarian paternalism." That is not an oxymoron, they insist in their book. Rather it is a corrective to the longstanding assumption of policy makers that the average person is capable of thinking like Albert Einstein, storing as much memory as IBM's Big Blue, and exercising the willpower of Mahatma Gandhi. That is simply not how people are, they say. In reality human beings are lazy, busy, impulsive, inert, and irrational creatures highly susceptible to predictable biases and errors. That's why they can be nudged in socially desirable directions.


Los Angeles Times: Does Your Brain Have a Mind of its Own?
What gives? Why are we as a species so often so desperately poor at achieving our goals? If we are, as the selfish-gene theory would have it, organisms that exist only to serve the interests of our genes, why do we waste so much of our time doing things that are not, in any obvious way, remotely in the interest of our genes? How can one explain, for example, why a busy undergraduate would spend four weeks playing "Halo 3" rather than studying for his exams?

The selfish-gene theory doesn't, in itself, answer these questions, but there is another facet of evolution that can: The fact that evolution is entirely blind, unable to look forward, backward or to the side. As Charles Darwin observed, evolution invariably proceeds through a process called "descent with modification." In lay language, this means that Mother Nature never starts from scratch, no matter how useful an overhaul might be. Everything that evolves necessarily builds on that which came before. Our arms, to take one simple example, are adaptations of the front legs of our primate ancestors.


-The Gneech
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Kero asleep

'sup, Snuffy?

Wow, my LJ friends list suddenly turned into the anti-Hillary zone. Considering how my friends list tends to skew to the left, I think I detect a waveform collapsing.

Anyway! That's not what I'm posting about. I am, in point of fact, talking about your friend and mine, the sexy, sexy CPAP machine. Those who would rather not delve into this fascinating topic, might want to scroll on by.

I didn't want to mention it last week, 'cause there was already enough crud going on and I sounded like a whinyboy as it was, but sometime in late April the mask on my CPAP machine broke, leading to ~18 days of sleeping the old-fashioned way ("zzzzZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz*SNORK*zzzzz*roll over*zzzZZZZZZ"). Among other things, this showed me just how much effect it was really having — within a matter of days I was back to noisy dreams and constantly feeling run down.

So yesterday, I went back over to Apria and picked up a new one. In some ways, I was glad to replace the old one anyway because I'd for some time been coming to the conclusion that I had the wrong size. At the sleep study, I was fitted for a medium, but the tech at Apria in January was of the opinion that everybody, right down to little Cindy Lou Who, was just the right size for a large. Large for me, large for the enormous burly guy with the beard you could sink a ship in, large for the little wiry dude with the little wiry glasses. So I had come away with a large. And while it worked, it had a tendency to leak air out the sides and at every corner because it didn't moosh properly against my face. In order to minimize this, I had the straps pulled so tight that they constricted blood flow to my lips and left me with indents on my face in the morning — which may have been why the thing broke.

So last night was the first night with the new, proper-sized mask, and the machine back on duty — and sure enough, I went right back to the silent and (mostly) dreamless, which I'm sure was even more of a relief to laurie_robey than it was to me. Strangely enough, I woke up in some ways even more tired than I had been the days before, but only on the surface, if you see what I mean. Instead of the aching bone-weariness that the previous week's fitful slumber had left me, this morning I felt like I was simply awake too soon and would be fine if I could just go back and get another 3-4 hours of sleep.

Which I couldn't, of course, but it's a start.

So hopefully a few more nights of sleep like that, and I'll be back on the bounce. :) At least now I just feel sleepy, instead of like the shambling dead.

-The Gneech