Sunday, November 04, 2007

decoding Cinnamon the Cat

A recent article on ScienceNow says that the cat genome has been about 80% deciphered. Interesting result: cats are more closely related to humans than any of our other common pets are (dogs, hamsters, etc).

Of course, "cat people" would not be surprised by this. Cats are like weird little children, with or without a genetic reason. Of course, I have one looking over my shoulder (sleeping on the chair behind me with one eye open) and one ready to claw my leg (wants to walk back & forth in front of my face as I try to type), so I have to say nice things about them, or else.

Funny how we think we domesticated all our pets and livestock, when they more likely domesticated themselves around us. We act like we're in control -- we train them and give the orders, right? In fact, they quietly train us to put up with their quirks and schedules and needs along the way. And this is never more obvious than with cats.

Of our three cats, one stares right into my eyes when I talk to her, like she's looking for answers. Oddly, wearing sunglasses doesn't seem to bother her one bit. She still looks right into my eyes.

My favorite cat mystery is why they seem completely oblivious to reflections -- shouldn't seeing themselves in a mirror be completely bizarre? Combine this with their notorious curiosity, and I expect SOME kind of reaction. I recall that as kittens they paid were startled a bit by seeing motion in mirrors, but now they can somehow be obsessed with the slightest scrap of string and ignore their own image completely. I'm guessing that reflections have no scent component, but still ...

... random reflections on cats.

link to the article:

Friday, November 02, 2007

jinxed the spider, try this comet instead

Well, 2 days after I said the spider was doing fine, it vanished completely. Probably starved. I sifted through the leaves beneath its lair, hoping for a closer look (I do have a cheap USB microscope), but it was gone.

On the fun side, there's a bright comet in Perseus now. About 2 weeks ago it was a faint 17th-magnitude thing, far off and easily forgotten. But then it got a million times brighter for no obvious reason, now it's easy to spot, even without binoculars. Just look for the fuzzy thing near Alpha Persei that doesn't belong there. Because it's fairly distant, it's not moving much from night to night. It's probably going to fade away soon, so check it out while you can.

Here's a finder chart & more info:

Friday, October 26, 2007

freaky spider for Halloween

We got smoked out by the firestorm, and evacuated for a day. But rather than focus on that, here's a bizarre naturalist note:

We have a big spider living in a classic circular web just outside my office window. It only eats bees, sometimes two a day. When it doesn't catch anything, its abdomen shrinks back down to where it looks like a huge tick. After eating a few bees, it balloons up again. Because of the smoke, the bees wouldn't come out, and the spider's web was destroyed by wind. It clung to one of our hanging baskets for a few days to weather out the storm, giving me a chance to finally get a good photo of its top side (which was previously facing the wall):

Oddly, its underside is black with yellow streaks:

After the fire, it had shrunk down to almost nothing and flapped around listlessly for a day or two, and I thought it had starved. But now it seems okay again -- the bees have come out and it caught one already.

Also strange: there were two different types of smaller spiders (both with the same weird habit of holding their legs together in pairs) which tried to mate with it about a month ago, but it hasn't had any eggs that we know of. One photo shows both intruders in the web, plus a closeup of each one. The big female let the tiny spider stay close to her for about two days (obviously a male), but the larger intruder was kept away (and a bit of a mystery).

According to a local spider collector, it's a Mexican orb weaver. Leg spread about 2 inches. Really a spectacular critter. We're glad she survived the fires. Makes me wonder about all the other creatures, great and small, that were wiped out.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

finding a plane in a haystack

Here's a "real life sci-fi" story worth sharing. You might have heard on the news that Steve Fossett (aviator, adventurer) is missing. His plane went down somewhere near Powell Canyon, Nevada and hasn't be found, after over a week of searching.

Well, you can actually help look for him online. A fresh satellite image of the area is available, and they set up a very easy-to-use site on Amazon where you can scan little areas of the image, looking for the plane.

Start here:

It's a fascinating demonstration of just how big the wilderness can be. Feel free to grab their Google Earth KML file of the area and zoom around. Millions of trees, thousands of ridges and hills, an endless stretch of wasteland.

And there was a weird estimate in a CNN article that there may be over 100 older crashed planes in this area, never found. So it's an area well worth exploring. We're used to being in safe homes and familiar streets -- but when a person gets lost the world is effectively infinite.

= scott

Friday, August 24, 2007

all paths diverge in the woods

If you noticed a gap in entries, it came from pondering things. One night I zoomed through and tried to update every site, and a few projects wove themselves together.

I launched an email newsletter called "Dark Windows." It is taking a book-length collection of dark poetry and stories and serializing it in 2,000-word chunks. With some extra features. You can find it here:

So, darker works and dreams will be moving over there. The new feature that entered the stream was a huge collection of quotes from old books, what I call "odd clips". There are so many great lines and strange moments and arguments, both silly and strange, scattered through a million volumes ... I've had fun finding them, and they add some spice and humor to these "streams of thought" of mine. Things to ponder. Fun to guess where they came from before checking the credits. Anyway, odd clips are going to start appearing, here, there and everywhere.

"Unfuture Chronicle" will continue as the venue for my sci-fi and futuristic works and ponderings.

Along the way, I have been forced to look at how the various genres interact and how I fit into them, while reading more genre history and classic works. Some fascinating stuff. My new, streamlined rationale is "order vs chaos." The darker genres are rooted in the chaos and unknowns of the world, mostly channeled from the distant past. Sci-fi and futurism are rooted in the order and knowns of the world, and look toward the future. The present day is caught in the middle, and that's why it makes no sense at all.

And now, a quick wrap up of my recent creative sales. Thanks for visiting.

=====> NEW SALES:

"swirling eyes" (poem) accepted at Not One of Us (Jan 08)

"what the spirits taught us" (poem) accepted at Tales of the Talisman (Jun 08)


"Quake Man" (flash fiction) accepted at Swimming Kangaroo Press

"At Ripley's" (poem: ode to the Ripley's Museum) accepted for Helix #6.

"Unusual Vampire Lore" (article) accepted at Hungur.

"Blue sky tentacles" (cover art) accepted by Beyond Centauri.

Poems accepted by Expressions newsletter, Sword Review, and the Verb.

"Harrod Runs his Mouth" (flash fiction) in Burst magazine.

A gruesome illustration has been accepted for the Hungur 2 anthology.

"Jane Doe Discovered" (Poetry chapbook) coming in late 2007 from

Saturday, August 11, 2007

what dreams have come

Strange how dreams come and go. Maybe one night a road rally, the next Elysian Fields, a plane crash or some kind of Westworld with the bald gunslinger chasing us across a broken desert. So real at the time, sometimes TOO real (where we have to get up and walk around the house at 4 a.m. wishing the images will go away), yet at the same time they're less than vapor, gone in the flash burn of our minds before they can make a lasting impression. Sometimes fun, sometimes horrifying, never fully explained.

Yet there is a line we can't cross, where we start to believe that they have a reality of their own, that the creatures we see actually live in the cracks and shadows of our world, that all waking people are living in denial. If we follow that path, we can start to deny our real lives, give the dreams more reality, and then we are lost in the greatest cover-up in history, the non-meaning of existence itself. From that lonely hilltop, we can see whatever we wish to see, but it can never touch us, and we can never leave a mark or bring back any kind of solid road to walk upon.

On the other hand, the alternative -- a complete drab explanation of dreams -- would spoil life itself.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

domeward bound

After seeing the Transformers movie just for fun, I figured I could expect some fairly odd dreams. In the movie, a teenager's car comes to life, turns into a giant robot, blah blah.

In the dream ...

My car didn't come to life, not like in the movies. Instead, the transmission got a mind of its own, kept switching gears at awkward moments, kept trying to crash me into things. It popped into low gear as I was trying to slow down at some stoplights, refused to get on the freeway entirely, and when I finally parked outside the UCSD BioDome (which was having an open house) it went into reverse, drove me up an embankment and wedged the car between two pine trees. I had to climb out the rear window.

I was deeper in the woods that I had thought, and when I came out I was somewhere on campus. I figured I should head for the top floor of the tallest building (about 15 stories up) and would be able to see the dome from there. The building was some kind of massive student lounge, or country club, judging from the lounging students and pop culture clone women walking around looking to score (with anyone but me).

The top floor was just a narrow hallway full of hair salons, with the stink of exotic creams and shampoos and burnt toenails. When I turned to get back on the elevator, it hiccuped, then there was an uninviting grinding sound. A wall section slid down over the elevator doors -- the new chunk of wall had a mock door that said "Janitor's Closet," (ha ha) and a little sign saying "STAIRS --->"

So I took the stairs. Some heavily painted clone girls were there, complaining about the exertion, how walking down stairs would make little wrinkles appear under their eyes some day. They went down only two floors, convinced that somehow the same elevator wouldn't be broken two floors down.

I jogged the rest of the way but ended up in just my underwear. When I ran through the crowded lobby, I was the entertainment of the hour, the thing everyone had to laugh at so they could puff up and feel important about themselves. I grabbed some clothes off the rack at the little Gap store in the lobby, flashed my credit card, gave Starbucks the finger, and stepped out into the fresh air (free at last!) only to run smack into Bill Clinton and some Secret Service dudes.

I was pretty frazzled by then. All I could do is scream, "What the hell are you guys looking at?"

Clinton laughed. We all laughed. It was pretty damn funny, but nobody knew why. I was thinking, "Bill Clinton visiting a tower full of clone girls." He was probably thinking, "Some nerd from the computer lab. I wonder if he can fix my toaster."

I told them to have a nice day, then ran off knowing I'd never be able to find my car.

Later on I was home, reading emails from the uncles I hadn't spoken to in 30 years, all about their families. I must have wasted an hour reading them and taking notes, updating phone numbers & contact info, only to wake up and find that the messages were not real, and the real uncles hadn't responded yet.

My car came home around 3 a.m., reeking of hydrogen & sulfur.

Friday, June 15, 2007

teddy bear rampage

I was looking for markets to send a new batch of stories and poems to, and stumbled across this classic story:
"Fluff and Buttons on the Teddy Bear Range"
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
published at Chiaroscuro

Check it out. It's the perfect blend of being dead serious about the absurd. It reminded me of my first sale to Analog -- "Last of the Soft Things," about how stuffed animals indirectly destroy civilization. Even if a premise is silly, true "speculative fiction" thinking means that we follow our "what ifs" to their logical conclusions, however illogical the results. That's how my current Analog tale ("Jimmy the Box") fits into a hard sci-fi magazine: the logic is pure science, and if the premise is not entirely serious, the results are still valid. Throw in the human element, and it makes the day. Regardless of genre or current story formulas, I think we should always be allowed to have fun with reality.

Okay, I know I should be promoting my own works on my blog. Really? Why talk and talk and never ask for money? Just kidding. I hate selling things, hate talking about money. I like to hear about people, and get tired of talking about me.

I hope you enjoy what I write and check out some of my books and other projects -- see the links at the right.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nowhere, Arizona

We got back to the hotel at midnight, and Carmen went to sleep in the first two minutes. But I couldn't shake the feeling that we'd forgot something. I hope we made it clear that we were going back to the hotel, not staying at the house. And now it was too late to call.

I couldn't sleep. It reminded me of other possible lapses. Not closing out magazines 100% right - someone out there would corner me and say I never gave him an answer on a poem. And if I ever went back to college there was a whole semester of incompletes, for weird classes I never would have chosen.

We started home the next day, my nerves frazzled. The car sounded funny. We ended up seventy miles from anywhere in a small town baking in the sun. A friendly general store, a truckstop, and though there was no hotel, there was a guy who followed us around and begged us to stay upstairs. When the car exploded after dinner, we had no choice but to stay upstairs from the video store. All night Carmen slept and I heard the ch-ching of the cash registers, as the small town of eighty people dished out a thousand videos. In the morning the car was fine, but the town was made out of barbed wire, the townsfolk were plastic bags caught on the barbs, crying in the wind.

Time to go. But when I checked the map, we were in no known state, no known country. There were red roads and blue rivers, and glyphs that looked like eyeballs. I knew we lived west, but halfway home we were in the ocean, far from land, and the last of the air was gone.

= dream 5/27/07

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

feel the buzz

Studying bees. Cages, hives, mazes and transmitters, and the everpresent smell of honey. Yummy research, really. But still, I couldn't eat my peanut butter and honey sandwiches instead of the little critters. But one night as I was turning off the lights, and there was a plastic crash, and I was quickly surrounded by a buzzing swarm. They went down my shirt, and stopped, stingers ready ... while a hand of bees flipped the light switch back up. Lights came on, and a line of bees lined up on the table, in groups of seven: three horizontal, four vertical, forming a bunch of number eights like on an old calculator. It was something we had tried to teach them, but they had pretended not to learn.

Now they formed words, but flipping bodies up or down, like a furry LED display:


We had been studying the effects of cell phones on the hive. So I knew which hum they were talking about. I turned on the jamming system, which canceled out the cell tower signals from around the lab.


"I can't change the world."

"OR ELSE ..."

"Well, I can't change it YET. We're learning what the problem is."


They all stung at once. I swelled up and the world went red, but I saw their last message.


a dream 5/27/07
And I wrote another tale about bees just yesterday ...

Monday, May 14, 2007

face factory

I had no trouble parking my boat. My friends all brought
theirs. We took over Ridge 30 and overflowed into 29. I jumped
to the pier and let the mooring boy do the rest. But none of my
friends got off their boats. I waited for hours, until morning,
when all the boats were gone, including mine.

In a state of great displeasure, I set out across town to
find the one guy I did know. After a short while, I came to his
address, but there was a huge looming factory there instead of a
home. Then I recalled that he lived and worked there, and even
the factory name seemed familiar. Crimson Faces, Inc. I sought

The foreman was seated at a strangely garbled control panel,
half machine, half gadget, breathing in places and covered with
faces. I asked for Guy, and the foreman said he'd try to page
him, but no guarantees. He cranked the phone for a moment, then
took a carton of milk out of his coat pocket and poured it into a
wet place at the top of the panel. "Hell, it gets me a dial
tone," he joked. His phone wasn't plugged into anything, so he
quickly gave up. He picked up this open-ended TV from the ground
and tried to get a bearing on my friend, but succeeded only in
giving himself a nasty shock.

"Look," he said, finally. "Here's where he sleeps. I
suggest you wait here." He took a handful of white-red sand from
one of the bins over the door, and sprinkled it over the yellow
sand that filled the coffin. He trailed a sand-pattern on the
floor and pronounced the place fit to be visited.

There was no decor, everything was pipes and bits of faces.
Guy never did show up. The foreman came back later to say that
he had been absorbed by the input manifestor, and that I had been
sent by God to replace him. He congratulated me on my fine work
building that LILCO plant on the Island (which I didn't do), then
he said that there were no longer any doors in the place, so I
might as well get comfortable.

My sandcolor was light brown, and I could start sorting the
facebin first thing in the morning.

==== dream from old journal - 3/19/86

Friday, May 11, 2007

Analog, coming soon

Looks like my tale "Jimmy the Box" will be in the July issue of Analog. Complete contents here:

I hope you'll check it out -- it's a fun little romp.

I've been working on some new tales, and a series of nonfiction -- mock science articles on seemingly pointless topics. Hard to explain. I hope to get them "out there" soon. I will avoid littering this blog with nonfiction in the future, but sometimes a news item is just worth shouting about.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Writing news - April 2007

Hi again,

I hope everyone's doing well out there. Seems like most of my writing these days is describing things I'm selling on eBay, but I've managed a bit of real writing, including selling another offbeat story to Analog and posting some of my short films and outtakes on YouTube.


Poetry chapbook "Peripheral Visions" (NEW) now available from Assume Nothing Press for $6.
Here's the link:

Poetry collection "Appalling Limericks" now available from -- I was the editor of this one, and it's a lot of fun.

My new story collection ("Blank Spaces & other dangers") is currently offline.
I'm working to get it setup again soon.

I still have a few copies of "Afterlife 9" and "the Other secret house" available for $5 postpaid in the USA.


Recent works of mine can be found in Appalling Limericks, SciFan, Late Late Show, Star*Line FlashShot, Between Kisses, Sage of Consciousness, and Amaze.

My latest art pieces were: cover art & design for Ecotastrophe anthology, and cover design for Wondrous Web Worlds 6.

I wrote most of the game mechanics and character dialog for the video game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces", which was a fairly major release. But most of my contributions were replaced in the last year of production.

=====> NEW SALES:

An offbeat story "Jimmy the Box" will be appearing in Analog soon.

Poems accepted by Hahaku, SamsDot Publishing, and a few others.

Poetry chapbook "Jane Doe Discovered" coming in 2007 from

A gruesome illustration has been accepted for the Hungur 2 anthology.

=====> MY SITES:

My active blogs:
"writer's life" blog ...
Unfuture Chronicle ...

Thanks for your interest. Drop a line if you have any questions, or want to chat. Have a nice day.

= scott

Thursday, April 26, 2007

armed and maybe controlled

The Unfuture quote of the week comes from the show "Futureweapons:"

"Anything can happen when you give a machine gun to a robot."

I have to agree with the military guys who want little combat robots they can run by remote control. Never send men into a crossfire or a building full of hostile forces when you can send a little metal thing loaded with weapons. We're already programmed to play video games. How would it be any different to set a few thousand bots loose and let people go down to the local arcade and strike a few blows for their country?

Personally, I'd prefer a world where there was no fighting at all. But apparently, I was delusional all those years. It now looks like we will be at war forever. We can never let our guard down, because we would be trampled in an instant by all the people who want what they want, for whatever reason. Self-interest is our guiding principal, and apparently we all want to see how much we can get away with, from top to bottom. There are pressure systems, just like in the atmosphere, with all goods flowing from place to place driven by unseen forces.

I'd like to see a news service that only shows good news. Where we can see that people are still giving, caring ... but this doesn't sell, so it has been largely wiped from the big screen. I wonder if there's any good news at all, and hope like hell there is. Left to themselves, I've found people to be decent, and interesting. But as soon as they start to get together, they can destroy anything in their path.

So here we are, giving machine guns to robots and hoping they can clean up today's mess without screwing up tomorrow too badly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the buzz about dying bees

Right now there are bees dying. They go out from their nests but never come back. There seems to be an outbreak of what entomologists are calling "colony collapse disorder," and a growing buzz over what's causing it. Possible culprits are cell phone signals, disease, and pesticides. We've got a definite "unfuture" coming if the problem gets out of control. After all, without bees, plants will stop producing seeds, including most major agricultural crops.

It's sobering to think that our actions or creations could have such a subtle, unpredictable effect on the world around us, and that the effect is hardly noticed until it becomes too vast to ignore. Or is that just the way we do things? All flowering plants could be wiped out, and the pine trees and ferns would return to carpet our dead cities. I'm just speculating, because that's my role. But let's keep an eye on this story. It will be interesting to see what's behind it all.

More reading ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

tuna guitar & the origami troupe

First there was a guy who tried to tune his guitar using the Doppler Effect. He figured that at some delta velocity the thing would sound right. Trouble is, he would never know. It sounded different to everyone he passed on the freeway, always different from the way he himself heard it, standing still with respect to the thnig in his hand. Still, he played in the half-shell house on the tractor trailer bad -- CAUTION: WIDE LOAD -- and people whizzed past and gave him the finger.

Then I was at an odd stage play. The crew came out and setup a man-sized wooden dog, then walked off stage. The planks that made up the dog began to unfold and twist in slow-motion transformations, soon becoming a lion in a classic stalking pose. Then the gears turned again, and the wooden surfaces moved, and it was a caribou. Someone began to chant "Hakuna Matata," and when the whole crowd was spouting that vibe, the production had to fight back. Someone slapped on "Animal Magnetism" by the Scorpions. The guitar crunched out the chords, then the cast came out and began to frolic and devour each other.

Of course, that's when my cell phone rang, which was surprising since I don't have one. But there it was in my pocket, ringing. I picked it up, covered one ear. "Dammit, I told you I'm trying to get out of building websites for people. Right now I'm at some kind of off-off-broadway cannibal party, gotta run."

But by then the feast was over. Later I was told that the blood was symbolic, but there wouldn't be a repeat performance.

--- dream 4/18/07

Friday, April 20, 2007

getting into 9th gear

Lots of vivid dreams lately...

I had a car with a 9-speed stick shift, where the very last gear will teleport the car up to a mile away in a random direction. The non-space bubble would float up or down to the surface of the earth before collapsing and bringing the car back to reality. Someone stole the car when I was in the city looking for clues ... I saw her go around a corner, engine sputtering. She obviously wasn't used to a stick. Then she vanished.

Nobody in their right mind would do a random teleport inside a city. It was made for places like Kansas with long straight roads and square miles of corn to hide in. I took out my keys and pressed the emergency button, hoping I wasn't too late. The car should have teleported back to the dealership and sprayed knock-out gas on the driver. Fun times. My phone rang less than a minute later.

On a good day, technology does work as advertised.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a final fire

day after day of pushing buttons. never knowing which one will start the reaction, the mixing of fuel, the runaway implosion that forces the core inwards. he sees the gauges behind closed eyes, glowing. they will not let him sleep. the stress in unbearable. alarms go off. temperatures rise, the damned gauges react, the all-or-nothing pressure reaches ALL then releases its rage reducing the world to NOTHING.

but not today.

another day, no faces, run and hide. shift after shift, shifting but never changing. wars imagined, made real, fought to the death. the banks win every time, quietly behind the scenes, laughing between piles of infusible irrefutable gold. the buttons, pushed. hidden codes shuffle. thunderstorms pass far overhead. what if the power fails? all the codes would fall to the floor like last week's rose petals. and without the codes there is nothing to stop the irrational, irreversible reaction.

the end of 10,000 years of arts and invention. maybe plants will survive and inhabit our bones when we're gone. things will scurry and tunnel and dine on our silted-over credit cards, take a bite, spit it out, inedible garbage. the sun will continue to pump energy into the earth. we were just a side effect of that energy. may the next creatures rise and be all we wanted to be, and more.

--- daydream at 1am, 4/17/07

felons in limbo

I just saw a short piece on CNN about some sex offenders in Miami who are forced to live under a bridge and actually had a parole officer who went under the bridge at 5 a.m. every morning to check up on them. The laws which said they couldn't live within half a mile of any place that "children might congregate" meant there was no place left for them to go.

Link here:

Obviously, these are dangerous people, and there's no good way to know which ones will repeat their crimes. It's a strange situation where the people can't be held in prison forever, but can't be set free either. New legislation may result in tagging the felons with radio transmitters, and one can picture a scenario where computers track them and sound alarms if they leave their prescribed area or enter some forbidden zone. It's almost a scenario for shared computing -- I'm sure there are people who would sit around all day watching little blips on a map and firing buzzers every time they saw something they thought was suspicious. Even easier, why not just tag everyone, and then we can zap each other and penalize each other for fun, or send anonymous drug tips about ex-boyfriends just for kicks.

I'm not trying to be facetious. We all should have our freedoms and rights, and each type of crime may properly result in loss of certain freedoms for the safety of the society. I'm just trying to point out one of those futuristic-seeming scenarios we never could have predicted, that doesn't appear to have a solution, now that Australia is off limits for all our riff-raff. Don't laugh just yet -- European nations used to send their convicts to remote islands, or the persecuted people could sail off to new lands, but the world is flooded with people now. Some of them even end up under bridges ...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

welcome to my sandstorm

I was hiking somewhere near Globe, AZ and got caught in a sudden sandstorm. Any building looked good through dirt-crusted eyes. I felt my way around the corrugated structure, found an opening and slipped inside.

It was pitch black and there was a giant cartoon dog on the wall. At first I thought it was talking to me, but then I saw the three children sitting on the couch in the darkness, lit only by cartoon-dog-light. I kept to the shadows, found another door, then a black hallway.

A group of commandos came pounding up the hall after me. As they approached, images appeared on the walls around them. I pressed my body up against a tall curtain and they rushed right past me, barking orders and cusswords at each other. They went into a room up ahead and started shooting and shouting. I sneaked a peek through the door, and saw they were in a cave full of demons. Things rushed at them, they fired, things burst, but I could see it was all on the walls. None of it real. Of all the places I could have found shelter, I chose some crazy VR gallery, and unless the system knew I was there, I couldn't participate in any of the games.

I rushed to find the front desk, to buy a ticket. One of the games on the list was Sandstorm, which I thought ironic at first, but then I rushed outside and found that the storm was made of pixels about an inch wide. I wondered why I hadn't noticed that earlier. Maybe the reality server was having a glitch. I turned around to get a refund but the arcade was just a gaping maw in the earth.

I checked and double-checked my firewalls, then dove down into the emptiness.

--- from a dream 4/10/07

Friday, April 13, 2007

invitation to crime

Craiglist hoax

Here's a strange technology hoax ... someone posted on CraigsList that everything in a certain house in Washington was up for grabs. You could go take whatever you wanted for free. So people showed up, stole everything and gutted the place. They ripped out the water heater, sinks, even light fixtures, probably leaving dangerous bare wires sticking out. Some visitors filled up whole carloads, some even stopped to spray graffiti on the wall. I doubt the posting said that vandalism was okay, but you just don't invite strangers to a party.

How insane is that? It's wrong in every possible way: that someone could post such an invitation and have it go live; then that people would find the posting and think it was okay; then that people would show up and still think it was okay to grab whatever they want; that people are so desperate to make a buck any way they can; that the ransacking went on for hours before someone called the police; that people would leave trails of garbage all over the lawn ... apparently the posting was soon flagged as a violation, but the damage was done.

Disgusting behavior. This is what we get for giving the masses access to the internet, huh? We try to give everyone access to information, and instead we see a proliferation in crime, and whole new categories of crime being invented.

There was a clip on CNN of the investigating officer essentially saying that they're used to tracking down crap from craigslist, but this was a whole new kind of thing. Craigslist was reported as saying that they would not release any information about the offender(s) without a proper warrant, which is technically the correct response, but only if they're proud about sponsoring crime and scams. If I was running an online community, I'd certainly care about whether I was contributing to illegal activity, or at least becoming the laughing stock of the town. Craig himself always seemed like a pioneer, an underdog we could all cheer for, but you just can't hand technology to people these days without criminals and screaming heads finding a way to corrupt it.

I guess there will be a bunch of copycat revenges against ex-spouses now. More invitations to destruction and theft. Because there is no shortage of desperate people looking to get in on any action in an otherwise miserable world. Maybe the days of unmoderated forums and listing services are over, and clinging to the hope that people will use them honestly is just another Grimm fairy tale. On the bright side, the police could probably use similar invitations as a sting operation for petty thieves.


I'm thinking that news stories which suggest we're "living in a weird future" can find a home here from time to time.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

at your disposal

I was on a ferry, working as the disposal guy. I tried for the cushy disposal job, the one where I could bale together all the plastic jugs and stomp the aluminum cans, but that didn't work out. My boss said that job was for newbies, and he had a related job that got much better tips. That's how I became the dead body disposal guy. Whatever dead bodies people brought me, I would wrap in black trash bags, then grab some ballast from belowdecks and shove the whole package overboard under cover of darkness. Strangely, the ship's ballast was almost entirely made up of old manual typewriters, the kind that an old Harlan Ellison novel said were by far the best things for weighting down a corpse.

It was steady work. Every night we'd do five runs across the harbor, and on every run, at least one group of shady, jittery bad guys came to my tiny office dragging a dead goon by the hair. No paperwork, no questions, just my life on the ship of ghouls. The downside was not being able to tell my friends what I did for a living, so I had to say I was a bartender. Still, it put me through college, and then the ferry conveniently sailed into a fog bank and never came out. I had nothing to do with that, by the way. I heard the boss just got burned out and one night he called the disposal guy who made whole ships go away, not questions asked.

Fair enough, I guess.

--- from a dream March 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

short-lived heroes

I think I killed all those annoying characters from "Heroes" last night. I tipped them off to a secret lab underneath an old brick building in Newark. They showed up in their usual ways, and spent hours talking about how they were feeling. Then they finally got their asses moving and went inside.

I wasn't planning on killing them. It was more of a "candid camera" setup, I just wanted to see the looks on their faces when they walked through the fire and did the puzzles and traveled through time and whatever else to get to the safe with all the secrets in it. Confetti was supposed to pop out, along with a note saying "Smile, you're on YouTube!"

But apparently one of them was allergic to confetti, and when he sneezed it caused earthquakes. Heck, I don't think he even knew it, because they're all such lame characters (except for the blond with the two personalities). All I know was, I was a few blocks away in my SUV, watching the video feeds, when he sneezed and the ground started shaking. A few minutes later the building did a perfect Hollywood implosion, and nothing was left but a roiling cloud of dust.

I stared at the wreckage for a moment. Various shades of Oops crossed my mind. Then I drove off slowly, thinking, "They're coming to take me away, ha ha, hee hee, ho ho ..."

But they never did come.


a fun fever dream - 3/15/07
Apparently, I just don't like that show.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

deserts of the mind

We did some driving in northwest Arizona in January. Our usual quick zip through a few too many places, not much time to stop. Still, there are moments. Like when we were in Chloride and ran into a guy walking his dog with a rifle slung over his shoulder. That's when I discovered that a few types of people should always get a friendly hello -- women with little kids, older folks, and people with guns. Road trips lead to odd discoveries. Almost every time we got out of the car there was a cold biting wind, up to 40 mph. The reality of January. But the cold part wasn't so bad for me, but the constant wind was like having someone following us around babbling; it got old after a while.

Cold midnight with stars, and the the sound of fine sand rushing across the pavement. There were probably tumbleweeds circling us, sizing us up, looking for the right moment to leap under the tires like scratchy lemmings.

Whoever planned out Route 66 was not in his right mind. It's fun trying to follow the thing. Almost any time there's a clear route ahead, it veers off in some direction or other, looking for obstacles to overcome. Interesting, though. The full spectrum of "historic" from run down rusty nothings to well-kept diners and hotels.

A funny moment when we walked up to a Sonic and couldn't figure out how to order, and the wind drove us to the diner next door instead. Now in their TV commercials they tell you how the weird machine works, and what credit cards it takes. Little too late.

No new writing of any kind in January, just these reflections on old roads and sandy wastes. Our roasted almonds from Oatman only lasted so long, but all the funny photos of us with the burros ... priceless.