Tuesday, May 22, 2018


by George Gordon Byron


"Adieu, adieu! my native shore
⁠Fades o'er the waters blue;
The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
⁠And shrieks the wild sea-mew.
Yon Sun that sets upon the sea
⁠We follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
⁠My native Land—Good Night!


"A few short hours and He will rise
⁠To give the Morrow birth;
And I shall hail the main and skies,
⁠But not my mother Earth.
Deserted is my own good Hall,
⁠Its hearth is desolate;
Wild weeds are gathering on the wall;
⁠My Dog howls at the gate.


"Come hither, hither, my little page![1]
⁠Why dost thou weep and wail?
Or dost thou dread the billows' rage,
⁠Or tremble at the gale?
But dash the tear-drop from thine eye;
⁠Our ship is swift and strong:
Our fleetest falcon scarce can fly[2]
⁠More merrily along."[3]


"Let winds be shrill, let waves roll high,[4]
⁠I fear not wave nor wind:
Yet marvel not, Sir Childe, that I
⁠Am sorrowful in mind;[5]
For I have from my father gone,
⁠A mother whom I love,
And have no friend, save these alone,
⁠But thee—and One above.


'My father blessed me fervently,
⁠Yet did not much complain;
But sorely will my mother sigh
⁠Till I come back again.'—
"Enough, enough, my little lad!
⁠Such tears become thine eye;
If I thy guileless bosom had,
⁠Mine own would not be dry.


"Come hither, hither, my staunch yeoman,[6]
⁠Why dost thou look so pale?
Or dost thou dread a French foeman?
⁠Or shiver at the gale?"—
'Deem'st thou I tremble for my life?
⁠Sir Childe, I'm not so weak;
But thinking on an absent wife
⁠Will blanch a faithful cheek.


'My spouse and boys dwell near thy hall,
⁠Along the bordering Lake,
And when they on their father call,
⁠What answer shall she make?'—
"Enough, enough, my yeoman good,[7]
⁠Thy grief let none gainsay;
But I, who am of lighter mood,
⁠Will laugh to flee away.


"For who would trust the seeming sighs[8]
⁠Of wife or paramour?
Fresh feeres will dry the bright blue eyes
⁠We late saw streaming o'er.
For pleasures past I do not grieve,
⁠Nor perils gathering near;
My greatest grief is that I leave
⁠No thing that claims a tear.[9]


"And now I'm in the world alone,
⁠Upon the wide, wide sea:
But why should I for others groan,
⁠When none will sigh for me?
Perchance my Dog will whine in vain,
⁠Till fed by stranger hands;
But long ere I come back again,
⁠He'd tear me where he stands.[10][11]


"With thee, my bark, I'll swiftly go
⁠Athwart the foaming brine;
Nor care what land thou bear'st me to,
⁠So not again to mine.
Welcome, welcome, ye dark-blue waves!
⁠And when you fail my sight,
Welcome, ye deserts, and ye caves!
⁠My native Land—Good Night!"

Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Review

Infinite JestInfinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Opening the cover of Infinite Jest and starting to read is like opening your eyes at the bottom of a rabbit hole several levels below Alice's rabbit hole without having Alice's advantage of knowing she fell down a rabbit hole. Where are you? You're in the O.N.A.N. When are you? It's the Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment. Everything looks mostly familiar, but everything is, somehow, ... off.

Most authors follow the rules of Rhetoric 101; tell the reader what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell the reader what you just told them. David Foster Wallace does not follow the rules. Like waking up at the bottom of a rabbit hole, like life, you are left to learn the rules from contextual clues; obscure contextual clues. This is not an easy read. This requires you to actively participate, to willingly follow the rabbit down into the dark. And be left there.

SparkNotes had just started to build their Infinite Jest page when I started the book. There are a myriad of websites and blogs about the book. I found the Infinite Jest Wiki, infinitejest.wallacewiki.com, most helpful for guideposts along the way. Or you can just dive in head first and find your own way without the burden of anybody else's impressions. Either way offers rich intellectual, mind expanding rewards. And if that's your plan, if that's the approach you want to take, then go now and good luck. The rest of what I have to say will mar your virgin experience.

An early reviewer of Neil Gaiman's had dismissed a story of his as "facetious nonsense." Oh, but what delicious nonsense it is. Infinite Jest is kind of like that; satire that may leave you scratching your head wondering what's the point. But the trip is so much fun. The point is to enjoy the ride.

The Seattle Times described it as: "... most thorough dissection of America’s addiction to just about everything, including treatment itself .… a high-energy satire of ’90s America." Kirkus Reviews said it's: "a raucous Falstaffian, deadly serious vision of a cartwheeling culture in the selfpleasuring throes of self-destruction.…"

Taking place, in part, in a junior tennis academy it's part Zen guide to the sport:
"Nets and fences can be mirrors. And between the nets and fences, opponents are also mirrors. This is why the whole thing is scary. This is why all opponents are scary and weaker opponents are especially scary."

Down the hill from the tennis academy is an addiction recovery and treatment center. Here we get long meditations on the nature of addiction, recovery, spiritualism, psychotic depression, and suicide. Having been a junior tennis prodigy, an addict, an addict in recovery, and a sufferer of depression that ultimately proved fatal, these glimpses of a world most of us will never see are told by an insider, by someone embedded with the troops on the front lines of trying to survive our society's failures.

On a hill, a cliff, outside Tucson two men spend the night discussing current events, acting like something of a Greek Chorus making comments on the sociopolitical environment, mocking intelligence agencies and covert operatives in the process.

In the middle of it all is a woman so beautiful she's Hideously Deformed making us realize that we treat extreme beauty not that much differently than we treat extreme ugliness; looking only at the surface without seeing past to what's within.

The narration is stream-of-consciousness and casts a wide net, but read it all, including the endnotes, because buried in all of it are the contextual clues you're going to need later. Have patience. Keep reading. It may take several hundred pages, but eventually it all gets explained. Along the way you'll get treated to some really delicious dialogue and prose, the author using the same syntax for the narration as his characters bringing the whole thing to breathing, heaving, throbbing life. Like his junior intellectuals, he free associates meanings, uses words in new contexts, uses obscure words, misspells words, and sometimes just makes stuff up.

Published in 1996 it takes place at some unspecified point in the near future. Best guesses are around 2008, but considering Canada has a handsome Prime Minister and the US has a celebrity president making a mess of things it feels very current. As speculative science-fiction, it's a bit like reading Orwell's 1984 in the '90s; if 1984 was satire. Good luck.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Selfie: Favorite Colors

I took this a couple of months ago in February. Purple and green have become my favorite colors, specifically that shade of purple and that shade of green. And I love those shirts and that pair of shorts. It's just that Instagram wouldn't let me post the photo the way I cropped it; too vertical. And I didn't want to put it on Facebook: it'd just get a ridiculous number of likes. So here it is. I am kind of proud of the work I've been doing at the gym and watching what I eat and I like how this photo shows the results.

A Celebration of Life

I went to the Celebration of Life for my friend Anna Lucia today. I'm just posting this here and not on Intagram and Facebook because it would just get all kinds of likes for me and messages of sorrow for me, which would all be sweet and well-intentioned, but I'm not the one that deserves the likes. Those should go to Anna Lucia. And I'm not the one who needs the sympathy. That should go to Anna Lucia's family, boyfriend, and closest friend Nichole. 

It was a nice service and I'm really glad I went. Even though I didn't know anyone there except Nichole I'm glad I pushed through my awkwardness in unfamiliar surroundings. Everyone was really nice, of course. The singer's voice was weak but her heart was in the right place.

I met Anna at GEICO where our cubicles were right next to each other. After I left we kept in touch and not too much time passed before she also switched to Wawanesa. She was only there 9 months when she got the position at the Art Institute. We kept in touch at first and she did come to see me up at Scripps Green when I was in the hospital there. She came on the day after my surgery so I wasn't in the best shape. After that we mostly kept track of each other through Facebook. 

I loved seeing that she got a position with the San Marcos School District, a job that she loved. I loved reading about all of her activities and events with friends and family. I loved seeing her baked creations. I really loved learning about her new boyfriend. So I was shocked and upset when I read Nichole's words that she had suddenly left us.

Anna was sweet and sensitive and super smart. Not conventionally pretty she stressed about all of the mixed signals and expectations that fall heaviest on women in our culture. But her guiding star was to stay true to herself and to know that she was fabulous and she didn't have to be anything else. And that's what she passed on to all of us who knew her. She saw us as fabulous and we didn't have to be anything else but ourselves for her. 

I miss you, Anna Lucia.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Book Review

The Thief of AlwaysThe Thief of Always by Clive Barker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started reading this book when a friend, acquaintance really, recommended it and I, being in the middle of the marathon that is Infinite Jest, thought it'd be a nice change of pace. Young Adults novels are often great tales and a fun read. Since the hero in this book is 10 years old and the reading level is about that I'd say this book is for children younger than YA. It's definitely easier to read than Harry Potter.

Harvey is bored, looking for a distraction, and open to temptation. He follows someone to a place where his every wish is granted. Everything is great at first, but he soon discovers it's all a sham and a trap. The story is creative and imaginative. The premise may not be original but the details are. There were times I thought it'd be better as a fully realized illustrated novel instead of a classic prose book and the gender roles are stereotypical with the 2 female supporting characters relegated to passive roles, but the pace picks up in the last section and the ending is very satisfying and well done. A good read.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review

When Sorry Isn't Enough: Making Things Right with Those You LoveWhen Sorry Isn't Enough: Making Things Right with Those You Love by Gary Chapman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

25 plus years ago when I officially started working in my company's customer service department I found myself tripping over the words "I'm sorry", as if they were stuck in my throat. That's just not something most of us are used to saying. I certainly hadn't had it said to me very often and never in any meaningful way. Realizing apologizing was part of the job description, that night, at home while taking a shower, I practiced saying "I'm sorry" over and over again as many different ways as I could think to say it; not to fake it, I've meant it every time I've said it, but to unstick it from my throat so it would be understood to be sincere by my customers and everyone I owe an apology to.

I'd read, and highly recommend, Gary Chapman's "The 5 Love Languages". After spending so much time learning what people need in an apology on the job, I was interested to get more information about apologies, especially on a personal level.

So many good relationships go bad because neither party know how to communicate their own or the other's love language, which is why the first book is so important. Lots of relationships go from bad to worse because one or both people refuse to admit that they're human and make mistakes. Even if someone is willing to apologize they don't know how to do it in a way that's meaningful to the other person. Remember, apologies are not about what you're comfortable saying. Apologies are what the other person needs to hear.

Which is where this book comes in. It does a great job of breaking down an apology into its component parts and explains how certain parts may be more important to the person you're apologizing to and what needs to be said so they'll understand you're sincere. The most important chapter may be the chapter on forgiving ourselves.

My main objection is it's use of Christian scriptures and values to justify many of the concepts discussed. This may put off non-Christians or people who've been demonized by misguided Christians. But the language of apology is such a basic need to getting through this life without leaving behind a lot of burnt bridges that I advise everyone to read this book, take the good information and don't be put off by what doesn't resonate with you.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Book Review

Living to Tell the TaleLiving to Tell the Tale by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"...novels do not begin the way you want them to, but the way they want to."

I was prompted to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography by his formative reading list put together by Maria Popova and her assertion that: "Living to Tell the Tale is a glorious read in its entirety — the humbling and infinitely heartening life-story of one of the greatest writers humanity ever produced." https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/04...

It is indeed a glorious read in its entirety. A master at the end of his life writing about the things he most loved and lived is kind of magical. This book is like a portal into another time and place and culture, a different way of being in world. In recounting the stories of his life and family he reveals the incidents and people that inspired events in his novels. My favorite: the Colonel who finds a different woman in his bed each night of the war resulting in the 17 Aurelianos in "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is based on his own Grandfather and all these Uncles he didn't know about showing up at their house with crosses on their foreheads one year on Ash Wednesday.

There are a lot of names in the book, but instead of being confusing they impart meaning and importance to each individual. This book is only the first half of his life. I'm very much hoping he wrote a 2nd part before he died in 2014. I was hoping it would give me an idea of which book of his to read next; I've only read the one, but most of his books were written later. Anyone have a recommendation?

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Death is Nothing at All

By Henry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all. 
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity of sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, 
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Book Review

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"I have been very fortunate in my profession. I have made enough money to satisfy both my needs and my caprices." Hercule Poirot

First I came across Steve Hayes' fun review of the 1974 movie 'Murder on the Orient Express'(https://youtu.be/segmFF7WQrc). The film is every bit as fun as his review; all 1940s glamour and fluff. Still glowing from the movie I started reading Agatha Christie's book.

The book is very good, of course, but not quite as much fun as the 1974 film(I haven't seen the 2017 film version yet). However, I've learned I'm no great fan of mystery novels. I enjoy the movies and TV shows made from them but the reading not as much. I did read 'And Then There Were None' and liked it a little bit better.

But Agatha Christie fans will love this. It's Hercule Poirot in all of his fastidious glory.

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