Playing with

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Jun 302013

Six second video’s, huh?

(This was taken in the Arnold Arboretum around 8:15 PM on 29-June-2013)

Prose Poetry

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Jun 292013

I ran into a reference to prose poetry today and got to wondering what it was. I’ve heard the phrase before, but I had always assumed it was an unofficial descriptor – actually it’s a recognized literary form. First things first, I went to see what Wikipedia had to say.

Prose poetry should be considered as neither primarily poetry nor prose but is essentially a hybrid or fusion of the two, and accounted a separate genre altogether. The argument for prose poetry belonging to the genre of poetry emphasizes its heightened attention to language and prominent use of metaphor. On the other hand, prose poetry can be identified primarily as prose for its reliance on prose’s association with narrative and on the expectation of an objective presentation of truth.

That’s all well and good, but I needed examples. So I followed some of the external references at the bottom of the page and came across this The Prose Poem: An International Journal. It’s no longer in print and not all of the print copies were digitized, but a lot were and they make excellent examples of the form. After reading several, this became one of my favorite:

The Sign by J. David Stevens


Wishing immortality, he built a sign bearing his name in the mountains of Montana. The sign stood over thirty feet tall, on four steel  pylons sunk into concrete beds. The name itself was made from small pieces of colored glass which he spent several months soldering carefully into place.

His hopes for the sign were great. After he died, he imagined, an unsuspecting hunter would stumble across the sign and throw the switch that ignited the several rows of alternating, multi-colored lights. Stunned by its beauty, the hunter would report back to people in town, who would spread the word to family and friends. Soon the sign would become a tourist spot. New roads would lead to its feet—or, far into the future, people would approach by hovercraft and wonder at the name emblazoned in crystal and light. Stories would circulate. The sign would become myth. And after the first representatives of the Zarnax Empire landed on Earth, they would carry across the galaxy stories of a learned people who had seen the name of their god written in the hills and thus been saved.

But things didn’t work out quite that way. After his death, the few hunters who happened by took pot shots at the sign, destroying whole sections of the intricately arranged glass. A new freeway drew travelers to the south, making area roads obsolete. And even the Zarnaxians never landed, deciding that Earth was worth neither friendship nor conquest.

Not that the sign went completely forgotten. Every now and then, on a crisp autumn night, a teenage boy would take his date into the hills to see the sign that his drunken uncle had once recalled on a hunting trip. He would throw the switch, and the rows of light would shine like a beacon, reflecting off the piecemeal shards of glass. There the boy and girl would share their first kiss, or something else. And eventually they would marry and move east to cities like Grand Forks or St. Paul, west to Boise or Seattle.

And years later, when people would ask how they came to choose one another, he would recall a drunken uncle who told legends about signs in the hills. And she would remember mesmerizing rows of splendid light, spreading beyond the mountains, beyond all spans of time and distance. The light, they agreed, symbolized their love—a jagged ember lodged intractably in their hearts, a surrender written in color for all eternity.

© Providence College 1999.
The author(s) permits users to copy, distribute, display, and perform this work under the following conditions: (1) the original author(s) must be given proper attribution; (2) this work may not be used for commercial purposes; (3) the users may not alter, transform, or build upon this work; (4) users must make the license terms of this work clearly known for any reuse or distribution of this work. Upon request, as holder of this work’s copyright, the author(s) may waive any or all of these conditions.

So it feels like a poem and addresses subjects (types of immortality, folly of hubris, etc.) that are traditional for poetry, but it has no lyrical or poetic structure. Obviously, having just stumbled across this whole topic today, I am in no way qualified to explain it. I can just point out what I like, and I like this! I’ll be keeping an eye out for more examples, and maybe I’ll try my hand at some later. Even poorly written, the best way to get a feel for something is to try it.

Today I Turned Forty-Three (43)

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Mar 042013

So, today was my birthday. Because of social media, I received many well wishers and felt a little special. Beyond that, and not related to it being my birthday – today was a really good day!

  • Had an All Hands Meeting – Planning Meeting go so much better than I even hoped and now I’m really glad I volunteered to join this committee.
  • Encountered an emergency at work that played right into my underused web development strengths, which let me really get into my element and have some fun with code.
  • Had a solid finish to my “Toypocalypse” mini-campaign, and was so happy with how well the Natick group received it.
  • Got a birthday call from my father, Adel, in Michigan.[I think it struck us both that he was talking to his 43 year old son, and how lucky we both were to be alive and talking today!]
  • Received a very touching, heartfelt card from Lisa – and some chocolate!

Like I said, it was a very good day! 🙂

News. Not all mine.

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Feb 262013

I haven’t posted in while, not because there was no news – but because it was not really mine to tell.

Lisa’s uncle Francis (everyone called him Frannie) passed away. He died in a hospital bed with complications from pneumonia. He was fairly fit and mobile until he fell last year, breaking his hip. He never fully recovered, and the months spent on the hospital with a respirator tube, made him much weaker; frailer. Watching the downward spiral was sobering and sad, and illustrated something I hadn’t known before. When people “die of old age” it seems more a matter of not being able to recover quickly or completely after an illness or injury.

I believe he was 82 years old, and we consider that pretty good for a human lifespan, but Frannie didn’t want to go. Eight decades, with everything he saw and all of the people he knew, and if he had been given a choice, he would have went on with his life as best he could.

My German friends just had their baby. That was a refreshingly bright spot in what is often my litany of woe. Mother and child are doing fine and went home around six hours after the birth. I’m sincerely happy for them; this is what you hope for your young friends!

[I’ll ask his permission to post a photo, here.]

That’s enough life and death for one day.

Winter Storm Nemo, pt 4

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Feb 102013

Well, we had good news today. With a lot of help from our neighbors, we got Lisa’s car started, Marilyn’s car unburied and moved, and even our wayward snowblower started! Between our snowblower and our neighbor’s, everything got cleared for us and the old folks that live right next to us.

I didn’t end up doing any shoveling or snow removal, so I can’t take credit for it. I’m just glad for the folks who did!

Everything should be, mostly, back to normal. Back to work tomorrow, etc. Here’s some photo’s of the successful “Big Dig on Business Street.”





Winter Storm Nemo, pt 3

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Feb 092013

I suppose I could subtitle this post, “The Big Dig.” Marilyn had two guys come over to help us clear our walk and driveway, Paul and Bill. Lisa woke me up to go help them, around 11am. I was in full on ‘bear’ mode, namely I had eaten a lot of calories yesterday and wanted to keep hibernating until this whole thing was over!

Instead, I got up and put on my snow gear, then trudged through snow that was higher than my knees, to get to our snowblower. We’ve kept it out and covered with a tarp all winter, just waiting for the day we’d need it – today was that day!

It wouldn’t start. 🙁

In retrospect, we should have tried to start it a week or two ago and made sure it would. We could have had it serviced then, before the big day. In any case, it wasn’t helping us today!

I did some shoveling with Paul and Bill, and then some of our neighbors came over with a snowblower to help clear the front of our driveway. Even with all of these people working on it, it’s not finished. Everyone got exhausted and had to call it for the day. Paul will be back tomorrow, and hopefully the sun will melt some of this by then.

We also couldn’t get Lisa car started, and we have no idea what that’s about. I’ll try again tomorrow and jump it; if that doesn’t work we’ll have to get it towed to the service station at the end of our street.

Though we’ve had these two cases of equipment failure, at least we’re not among the 500,000 without power! We haven’t lost our satellite signal (thanks to occasional extend-o-broom sweeping) and even our broadband Internet connection has stayed solid throughout. So, we really don’t have much to complain about at all!





Winter Storm Nemo, pt 2

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Feb 082013

The build up of wet, sticky a ow on our satellite dish blocked the signal. Over dinner we discussed how we could clear the dish, and it turns out it’s only about 10 or 12 feet from a second floor bedroom window. So, we taped three (3) broom handles together and then I reached out of the window with my extend-o-broom and brushed the snow off. It worked like a charm, the signal was back!

We’ve already had to brush the dish off twice more to keep our receivers from losing signal. On top of that, we’ve had to shovel snow out from in front of doors so that we’ll be able to open them tomorrow!

This is pretty crazy; some areas are getting 5 to 6 inches if snow … an hour!

Winter Storm Nemo, pt 1

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Feb 082013

So today is the beginning of Winter Storm Nemo, with an estimated precipitation of 24 to 36 inches of snow.

My M-i-L has been shopping for days to make sure we have enough food. Lisa and I were short on a couple “nice to have’s” like breakfast cereal and Ovaltine. The closest grocery store, Shaw’s, was packed out and every single shopping cart was being used! I’ve never seen that before, and this was after a week of warnings about the impending storm. So, I drove down to the next grocery store, Stop & Shop, and while busy, they had carts and were processing people at a steady clip.

As of right now, there’s just a light, wet dusting of snow. But, starting around 7pm tonight, it’s going to start coming down very, very hard. I’ll update (as I can) while this unique storm progresses.


Temple of Books

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Dec 272012

I’m in the middle of my exile. That’s what this long holiday break from work feels like, anyway. Lisa’s on her second day back to work, but I don’t return until 2-Jan-2013. Until then, I hang around the house with our old, sleeping dog (Patches), a list of low-key chores, and a lot of time to cast about.

Today is the first time I’ve even left the house in three days! I went out for lunch, listened to the podcasts “Galactic Watercooler” and “The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast,” and thought hard about visiting one of my favorite used bookstores, Seek Books. The problem, is that I already own more books than I am likely to read in my lifetime; physical and otherwise. I’m tired of buying things. $10 here and $20 there adds up, and for what? Because I’m a little bored?

But if I want to be in a place full of books, without having to spend any money, then what about the library? We have a large, beautiful, historic library right next to our house, and I haven’t visited it in over a year. Todays windy, rainy, quiet day is a good time to rectify that.

One of the things I especially love about the Hyde Park Branch of the Boston Public Library, is that it is both historic and quite modern. There is the historic building in the front with its large wooden tables (great for spreading out your research materials, or writing in your journal) and the huge marble fireplace with the clock mantle. In the back is the hyper modern “glass cube” of the addition. It houses rows and rows of book cases on two floors, and beneath is the new children and young adult room. As a whole, this building and what it contains seems to represent the American Public Library, past-present-future. It keeps re-imagining itself, what services it offers (like free wi-fi and digital media) and its place in the community (anime/manga discussions in the afternoon, homework help after school, resume writing resources for those looking for work) and what roles it will fill in the evolving future of education, informational resources, and persistence of place.

It’s that last that is often overlooked, when discussing the “information revolution” and what the Internet ‘really means’. Because, while virtualizing everything seems like a fantastic 21st century goal, we are still fully embodied and local. Which means, at least until we have mind-upload capabilities, that we’ll need to have places to sit quietly for a while. To read and write and think. To find someone you can ask for help, or a place to gather to learn and discuss with your neighbors.

So, at least for now, public libraries remain public buildings dedicated to knowledge-self-discovery and community, and that remains a critical piece available so few other places.





Very hard to be Merry

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Dec 162012

My personal loss of Pouncer is nothing next to Newtown, CT. And while I’ve never been very susceptible to the forced cheer of Christmas, I do understand why people need a time set aside for family, friends, generosity, and socializing. But in the face of this school shooting, how do we even try to make merry?

I watched the Presidents speech tonight, from the auditorium in Newtown. He seemed saddened, angry, and resolved – something must change. I have to agree with him. Maybe it’s not enough to evaluate new gun owners, but also who has access to their guns. Why do these angry, often mentally ill, people get a hold of guns purchased legally by relatives, parents and others? Doesn’t the gun owner have an obligation to keep their guns out of the hands of these young men? Or, have we long since crossed a threshold in which we will never be free of mass shootings and senseless slaughter? Perhaps we should treat it like an anti-lottery, “someone’s going to be murdered at work, school, or a restaurant – let’s just hope it isn’t us!”

That’s a miserable way to live and it casts a pallor of despair over everything we do. The President said it right, we need to do much better than this.


Here’s a preliminary photo of our Christmas Tree. Lisa is not done decorating it yet; we’re very happy with its size and shape, for our little living room. Even during this national morning, we try to make merry.