June 20, 2011
Our friends at Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure recently asked for contributions based on public-domain Flickr images posted by the Smithsonian Institution. They’ll be posting some of my work soon, but there’s one that they felt they couldn’t post “for fear of litigation or at least ill will”.
Here it is
“After I defeated Voldemort, I knew things would have to change. All my life, I’d been “Harry, the Chosen One”, defined by the forces pitted against me and trapped by my responsibility to those who protected me. Once I was free to find who I really was, I looked deep inside. There I found Harriet, waiting to be emancipated.”
(Click on the image to access the Smithsonian photostream)
March 13, 2009
“I don’t know why adults are so unhappy all the time. It’s up to me whether I’m going to be happy or not. Take my red ball for example. The reality is that it’s a red plastic ball. It’s been constructed so it has a certain weight, color, and elasticity. It feels a specific way when I run my hands over its surface. Whether I see that particular group of physical characteristics as beautiful or ugly, useful or useless, that’s all just perception. My perception. Since that’s all in my head, I have control over that. I can choose to see everything as beautiful. Why does anyone choose otherwise?
“Now, let’s play!”
March 12, 2009
The cars cover the sky in a riot of color and rust. I buzz around them with my jetpack as they relentlessly float by. Vans and SUVs drift sedately, hewing a steady course in spite of the wind. Econo boxes flutter about like butterflies, tossed by each random change in breeze direction. Trucks and buses plow along inches above the ground.
The vehicles all have glowing auras surrounding them. The colors vary to indicate how well each one is running. Most auras are some shade of blue, showing that the vehicle is running well. I keep a close eye on the auras, watching for problems as they drift through my sector.
Regularly, something wears out or breaks down, and a car or truck edges into the violet. As the vehicle begins to drift earthward, I jet towards the violet glow, zooming around the other cars so I reach the problem in time to give the car the help it needs to keep going. When I’ve fixed the issue, the healthy blue aura returns, and the car resumes its course.
I get busier. More cars start to fail, and I start to fall behind. Auras start to drift into the red before I can get to them. As more problems occur, and more vehicles slow and sink, it gets harder for me to get to each one in time. Cars get lower, slower, and redder and I start to panic, bumping into vehicles as I rush from one to another, which slows me more, making things worse.
A truck’s aura flares bright red, then the truck crashes into the ground. The aura goes black as the truck tumbles along, tossing parts in the air that collide with other vehicles. Each collision creates more red in the sky and I can no longer keep up. Soon vehicles are plummeting out of the sky all around. Black auras and grinding metal are everywhere. I can’t dodge the debris and an engine block hits my jetpack, knocking it out. I fall from the sky, tumbling towards the enormous black aura cast by a ruined oil tanker…
March 11, 2009
“I can’t figure out a way to show Miguel how to do fractions that helps him. It’s been so long since I had to think about how I did arithmetic, instead of just doing it. “Can’t you just see the answer is 8″ doesn’t work at all. I’m going to have to learn them from scratch again myself, so I can figure out how they do it these days.
“When I watch Miguel do math, his thought process is so different from mine that I don’t know where to start. I’m not sure how much of that is because he’s still learning and how much is because they teach differently. The last thing I want to do is make math even more confusing for him by telling him new things that don’t fit with what his teacher tells him. He loses interest too quickly as it is.
“But I have to wonder. Miguel does simple multiplication by adding numbers. He does “9 times 9″ by adding 9 together nine times. Don’t they even have kids memorize multiplication tables anymore? If you don’t “just know” the basic stuff, how can you build on it?”
March 10, 2009
“Ain’t been a politician lookin’ out for the regular guy since old Harry Truman back in the 50′s. And they hated him for it, calling him a commie and all that, just because he didn’t want to start World War III with the Red Chinese. Harry knew that he didn’t want the boys dyin’ for nothin’, especially not to line the pockets of the red baitin’ industrialists.
“Ol’ FDR before him, he was one of the rich guys hisself, but he still knew what it was that made this country great, everybody lookin’ out for each other, and he did what he could to keep things open for a man who was willin’ to work.
“Then we got Ike, who liked bein’ President, but not enough to work at it. That’s when the war machine really started to get ahold of things. After that, we had that rich Kennedy boy, ol’ Lyndon, who did some good things but got tied up in ‘Nam, and that crook Nixon. Carter was a nice guy, but he screwed things up so much that the poor folks bought into Regan’s bullshit instead of lookin’ out for themselves. Not that the other choices were so great. Since then, the pigs feedin’ have really gotten out of hand.
“This Obama guy looks like he might be tryin’ to change things, and what with his bein’ a community organizer and all, maybe he really does want to look out for us folks. It’s gonna be a tough job getting’ the money out of politics, what with 50 years of selling votes to the highest bidder. I hope I lives to see it.”
March 9, 2009
“Yuck. There’s that salt taste again. Nothing like knowing for sure you’re eating crap kicked up by the cars that drive by.
“I’m so sick of winter running. It’s so much more of a hassle. It’ll be nice to plan a training schedule without having to worry about whether there’ll be a snowstorm the day I want to do a long run. I’m tired of worrying about the lazy jerks who don’t shovel their sidewalks. It’ll be great to be able to run anywhere, on trails or side streets, instead of always using wide busy roads, just because they’re plowed and the traffic melts the snow quicker.
“I hate being bundled up all the time. I can’t wait until I can run in shorts and a singlet again. Even when I’m all bundled up, the cold air makes it harder to run as fast. And I turn into a snot factory. I’m always hacking pleghm out of my throat. Yuck.
“Once it warms up, it’ll be easier to keep up with housework. Without all these the winter clothes, I can go back to doing laundry once a week. My floors won’t be as gritty once I’m not tracking wet sand in from the roads after every run.
“Oh well. Soon enough, I’ll be able to go for a run without worrying about whether my water will freeze.”
March 6, 2009
“I told the senator that he was pushing too hard. $5000 was enough for that job. But the greedy bastard wanted every last penny he could get before he’d put the permit through. When I had to tell them $10,000 or no deal, I could see that they didn’t like it one bit. I think that’s when they called in the feds.
“Now the senator wants me to be “a stand-up guy” and take the heat. Tell everyone that I was taking the bribes on my own, promising things I couldn’t deliver. That moron. Everybody knows I may be a crook, but I’m an honest crook. If I say something will happen, I mean it. I don’t have a vote to sell. My word is the only thing I have, so if I’m not sure I can back up my deals, I don’t make ‘em.
“Even if I wanted to take the fall, the feds won’t let me. They know who I work for. They don’t want me, they want the senator. Well, they’re going to get him. I just have to figure out what’s the best deal I can get for me first.”
March 5, 2009
“I wish I was at Jeremy’s house. It’s Saturday morning. I’m supposed to be out of school. This is my free time. Everybody else is out playing. But no, my mom makes me go to music lessons. And nothing cool, like guitar or drums. I have to learn violin.
“It’s been months, and I’ve been trying, but I can barely even rosin my bow correctly. My shoulder, neck, and hands hurt all the time, and Mr. Ames is always yelling at me about how I hold the violin wrong. I don’t know any songs. Every once in awhile, I get lucky and play something that almost sounds like music, but usually, all that comes out are squawks.
“The snow’s melting. I could be out playing catch with Dad. He knows I need to get ready for baseball. I though he’d understand how much this sucks, but he just says I have to do this to make Mom happy. I’ll never make the team if I waste my time with violin. And I’ve never heard of any famous violin players.
“Here’s the bus. Maybe I can get my violin caught in the door?”
March 4, 2009
“It’s almost time for me to go back. Too bad. I’ll miss these humans, the way they bustle around, striving to improve their lives like those lives actually matter. It’s quite charming, and yet sort of sad. They have so little time left. I almost wish that we didn’t need to take Earth, and we could leave the humans alone.
“I wonder how they’ll react when the ships come to take their planet? By then, the virus I’ve released will have spread worldwide, and the human birthrate will have dropped to zero.
“There’ll be violence when the humans realize what’s happening. There always is. I feel pretty good about my bet. From what I’ve seen of humans, it’s likely that more will die by the hand of another human than from suicide. That’s not how it usually goes, but these humans are pretty vicious, even for a young species. I should get good odds.
“Maybe enough humans will die so there won’t be a bloodbath when we arrive?”
March 3, 2009
“I wish there was some way to get all my thoughts down on paper. When I try to write, the ideas continually spin off on tangents, out of control. It feels like whenever I stop to write one down, I lose three others that might be even better. I catch up with some of the lost ideas later, but I never recapture all of them.
“It’s like there’s this annoying static in my head all the time. It keeps bothering me until I corral all the noise, get it written down, and edit the noise into something that makes sense. Sense to me at least, but hopefully to other people too.
“Maybe someday voice recognition software will help. Right now it’s OK, but not quite good enough. Stopping to fix the errors breaks my train of thought, but I can’t let the mistakes go until later. They distract me until they’re fixed. Anyhow, talking in a mic doesn’t go over well in coffee shops, and I can’t stand to hide in my room all the time.
“Love the feeling I get when it’s all finally organized. I wish that relief came in a pill. The ones I’ve tried don’t work.”