Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saturday Science

Saturday was Science! day.  I delivered posters from The Child's class to the UO Science Fair; which required being on campus around 10AM.   And reconfiguring the car.  And packing enough snacks and umbrellas and hats and coats to be prepared for the day.  Mark walked to campus and The Child and I drove everything to Willamette Hall, where the fair was.

We helped set up a little, and then looked at all the presentations.  The Child's project (he was the lead investigator) was about testing herbicides; he had control grass, and other hapless pots of grass that he or his team had poured salt or boiling water or vinegar on.   Other kids had exhibits like, what interferes most with WiFi signals, which car will go the fastest, and how much mechanical advantage do different ten-speed bike gears give.  Various groups--like the library--had demo booths.

The Grandparents and my sister came down and looked at everything.  Mom wasn't feeling so mobile, so we found some chairs and had a nice chat.  We managed to get pictures of The Child being grilled by the fair judges.  Other events called them back to Corvallis, and by then it was time for the Eugene March for Science.   I met up with Ray V. and all the other marchers in front of the Knight Library, and after the rally was finished, every turned and marched toward the student union building.  Mark and The Child were walking the other way to get some food, and briefly joined the march... but somehow we missed each other.   Ray and I chatted about writing and critique groups as we walked... neither of us is an actual bona-fide scientist, but we were marching anyway.

All day was a raining then sunny then raining again day, but during the march, it warmed up enough that I took off my coat.  About halfway through, I snuck out of the parade to get back to the Science Fair.  More friends of The Child had shown up, so they were running around looking at all the exhibits.  Around 3 PM there was a science demonstration and awards, and The Child's project managed to get first place (in the life-sciences devision, we think; there were so many participants this year that the judges created several divisions).  

Sunday I was tired.  Rain fell most of the day, and I think we all wanted to lie around the house, curled up with a book and hot cocoa by a fire.  Except all we really had were some books and the Internet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Monday Gym

Monday I went to the gym.  Someone was on my regular elliptical, so I hopped on another one and watched the news.  200 cal in about 20 minutes.  100 cal in 10 or so minutes on the rowing machine.  3X12X60lbs on the pec-fly.  3X12X70 on the lat pull-down.  3X12 curl-ups on the Roman Chair.  3X12X30lbs barbell curls.  2X12X30lbs barbell reverse pulls (or was that 3X12?).  2X12X20lb triceps pull-downs.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gym and Writing Reports

Gym Report:  Went to the gym last Monday and again Wednesday night.  Did the typical stuff.  200 cal on the elliptical, 100 cal on the rowing machine, 60 lbs on the pec-fly, 70 lbs on the lat pull-down, 3X12 Roman chair curl-ups, 30lbs bar-bell curls and reverse-pulls, 20lbs tricepcs pull-down.  Sadly (?) I've lost strength staying away from the gym in March, and a short-term goal is to get back to ten pounds heavier on all my weights (back to my January levels).

Writing:  The new work schedule has kind of thrown me for a loop, and I haven't mustered the discipline to write during the mornings or evenings when I actually have some time.  I have been snatching twenty to thirty minutes here and there.

Made the mistake of opening my e-mail Friday morning and found a 3AM story form rejection from a market I've been trying to break into and which I had a good feeling that the story I'd sent them was a good match.  It's frustrating.

Some markets are very competitive, and when I get rejected by them, I'm more likely to move on.  This one I'm going through the seven stages of manuscript rejection.

  1. Anger -- "Damn it, this story is perfect for you, why didn't you buy it?" 
  2. Envy -- "OMG, you published that string of dissociated vignettes? I mean really, I could..." (opens up web site, reads random story that just happens to be brilliant prose to spite me) "...ugh. 
  3. Loathing I --  "I suppose if I don't like the stories in this market all that much, I shouldn't be submitting there.
  4. Loathing II -- "Damn this stupid market system that sets editors against writers and writers against themselves.
  5. Loathing III -- "I'm just stupid and I can't write."  
  6. Singing-Sad-Musical-Numbers -- "Heeeeere's to the Ladies who Lunch; everybody laugh / Sitting in their caftans and planning a brunch on their own behalf."  
  7. Caffeine Abuse -- "...And one for Mahler!" (pops another chocolate-covered espresso bean)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Weekend 2017

Friday night was The Great Cleaning.  This made for a relaxed rest of the weekend.


We dyed eggs this year for Easter.  I think my favorite one is the one that had leaves on it.  I punched out a leaf shape from painter's tape using a craft punch.  Then I put the leaf-shaped tape onto the egg and dyed it.  I moved the egg from dye to dye, and moved some of the tape-leaves around to create a layered effect.

Mark and I hid eggs for The Child (Mark was a better hider than I was)

Sunday friends and family came by for a brunch.  We had sauteed asperigas; baked parmisan zucchini; fruit salad; and a selection of savories:  sautéed mushrooms, sliced cucumber, dill and cream cheese and Grandma's Party Saving dip.  Mark made carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Mark got a pinaita (a purple elephant) and we had a few rounds of swinging at it.  

This year I think we were pretty good about not turning the day into a total chocolate orgy, so there were no 1:30 PM sugar crashes or anything.
  

One of this (Monday) morning's dreams involved nuns at Reed College extolling me not to fly around in my black purple cloak.  The Reed College setting isn't new; neither is flying around in my black cloak.  Nuns are a new motif.  Having other folks notice that I'm flying around and extolling me not to is a new motif, too.  

In writing news:  My story, "Dust to Smart Dust" is published at On The Premises, here: http://onthepremises.com/issues/issue-29/issue-29-honor1/ 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Gym Return

Gym:  After about six weeks (!) I made it back to the gym last Saturday.  I took it easy and eased into my usual routine, decreasing the weights by about 10 to 20 pounds.  Eliptical 20 minutes; rowing machine, about 10 minutes; pec-fly 3X12X50 lbs + 8X50lbx; lat pull-down 3X12X60lbs + 8X60lbs; Roman chair curls, 2X13; barbell curls 3X12X30lbs; reverse barbell curls 12X30lbs; uh, reverse row barbell pull 8X30lbs; triceps pulldown 3X12X20lbs.

I was pretty sore Sunday and Monday.  Tuesday after Wordos, I went in again.  Elliptical 20 minutes at about 210 calories; someone was on the rowing machine; pec-fly 3X12X60 lbs (and when my upper chest muscles snapped in a good way, I'm afraid I made a somewhat embarrassingly sensual noise -- luckily no one was around to wonder if I was having an intimate moment with the pec-fly machine); lat pull-down 3X12X70lbs; Roman chair curls, 3X13; barbell curls 3X12X30lbs;  barbell shoulder shrugs 3X8X10lbs; reverse row barbell pull 2X12X30lbs; triceps pulldown 3X12X20lbs.

Although I sort of wanted to slip into the local bar and grill where the Wordos may have been holding their post-critique gathering, I figures tequila on top of a workout probably wouldn't be doing me any favors.  I went home and had a virtuous bowl of low-fat yogurt with raspberries on top--and four squares of melted 70% dark chocolate drizzled over it. 

Thursday I was virtuous once again.  Elliptical 20 minutes at about 210 calories; someone was on the rowing machine (two people this time...); pec-fly 3X12X60 lbs; lat pull-down 3X12X70lbs; Roman chair curls, 3X13; barbell curls 3X12X30lbs;  barbell shoulder shrugs 2X8X12lbs; reverse row barbell pull 2X12X30lbs; triceps pulldown 3X12X20lbs.

Writing:  I'm working on a short story, and I'd like to use penises in it in a metaphoric way, but it's coming out like porn -- which is exactly what I don't want, because I'm trying to explore themes of holistic male-body-as-lens... maybe I'll just have my character wake up one morning and discover he's transformed into a giant penis.  Either that or press my naked paint-covered body up against plexi-glass along with a datura flower.

Monday, April 10, 2017

April Flowers

We're getting April blooms here.  The local Magnolia trees have opened, as have the (pleasantly pungent) narcissus along the side of the house and the tulips that Mark has in pots on the outside deck.  The grape hyacinth (which I particularly enjoy) are up and blooming, as is the rosemary (we have a hardy, two and a half high shrub).  The cherry tree has tight umber buds that I expect will open in a few weeks, and the irises are still only green swords.

Mark does the lions share of the yard work, and he's got foxglove, lilies, goldenrod, strawberries, and a raspberry cane going.  He's also done good things with various arbor vita trees, which give the yard a little more privacy than it had when we first moved in ten years ago.

Yesterday (Sunday)I planted some poppy and borage seeds in our yard.  I like poppies; we had a few growing last year, and I very much enjoyed their orange blossoms.  Mark doesn't care for borage much, but I like borage flowers because they are blue and purple and they attract bees.  The bees added an extra puzzle as to where to plant borage.  I think the plants would like the south facing side of our house, but I'm pretty sure The Child would object to bees being too close to various backyard activities.

On the writing front:  I'd been writing up a lecture proposal Saturday.  The way home machine availability worked out, I ended up doing a lot of it on my iPad.  This probably wasn't the best thing, because I managed to get a pretty bad headache by the end of the session.  I think it was caused by a combination of bad table ergonomics and wearing the wrong set of glasses (if I wear my old glasses, the correction is a little old; if I wear my progressive glasses, I have to tilt my head back to focus).  Thinking about it more, even though I'd propped up the iPad on an easel, it was too low.  



Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Submission Errors

Ugh. I've been wanting to submit to a market that's been closed to short fiction.  Just before turning out the light Monday night, I was looking at their website, and I could have sworn that they'd closed their poetry and opened their prose submissions.  Tuesday (today) I forced myself to get up a little early and I got everything ready for submitting to them -- I checked my word count, composed a cover letter, made sure that I'd used the proper subject line in the e-mail submission, and sent it out... only to have an auto "we're closed" reply.  When I went back to the web page, I saw that no, both prose and poetry submissions were closed.

In a fantasy, I might receive  an e-mail that said, "Dear Mr. Burridge, normally we'd think that somene who can't follow simple instructions is a boob, but the deathless prose that an author of your calibur writes transcends rules for mere mortals, and we'd like to pay you for your story twice."  Oh, I left out the getting a unicorn part.  Oh well.  I wish I could find when they're open for prose submissions, but I'm not finding the information, so I guess I'll have to re-visit their web site.  When I'm more awake.

The tree pollen count was over 500 yesterday, and I've been slightly conjested for the last week.  I don't mind the eye-goop in the corners of my eyes when I wake up, but the tickly throat is tiresome.  


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

First New Moon of Spring

Writing:  managed to get to one of the short manuscripts; I'd lost track of the edits, and had already spruced up the manuscript.  Found a missing word when I printed it out.  I decided that it was kid-friendly enough for The Child to read and he seemed to think it was funny.

Reading:  Going back and forth between "Camera Obscura" and various medieval research books.  Camera Obscura is a fun quick read, with lots of Easter eggs in it for the well read.  It's a little tropey, but that's part of it's appeal.  

(In the parking lot)  OMG, KWAX is playing some Anonymous madrigal, and the woman (?) singing Fa-la-la sounds like an honest-to-God crumhorn; I had to listen closely to be sure she wasn't doubled-up with one.  (Sung by ? El Musical Reservata ?)

The medieval books includes "The Book of Contemplation," an autobiography by  Usama ibn Munqidh, written in the 1100's (or 500's in Muslim reckoning),  the translator has left in all the instances of "may God grant him mercy" and "may God forsake him" and I think my new favorite for driving, "may God confound them". Other books include an analysis of Medieval French Romance Prose stories about giants, which includes a side section on Sir Palamedes.  

The Gym:  Any day now...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Music and Writing

Happy Spring!  It's that time of year when the mystery of new beginnings is upon us.  Or something.

I finally feel like I've got my brain back from this cold and sinus infection.  Now all I have to do is wait for the antibiotics to flush out of my system so that I can go out into the sun without worrying about being too photosensitive -- at least with all the rain we're getting, overexposure to sunlight hasn't been much of an issue.  I plan to hit the gym for the first time in about two and a half weeks.  It's funny how quickly the bicycle tire returns.

In my wanderings around Spotify, I've discovered a Danish band, called Heilung which is apparently pigeon holed into the Neofolk (folk-inspired dark ambient music) genre.  After listening to Alfadirhaiti , which I like, I decided I needed to make sure that I understood what the lyrics meant.   Because the title starts with "Alf", I thought it might have something to do with Scandinavian Elves.  But a quick perusal of a lyric site revealed that it was a hymn to Odin.  "Alfadir" probably translates to "All-Father."   Quickly zipping through their site, they have an artists' statement saying they are setting pre-Christian inscriptions to music and disavowing modern attempts to link their work to current political or religious movements (i.e. "we're not Neo-pagan Nazis, we're just using old Viking texts").   Whew.

On the writing front, I went through and collected a stack of  unfinished manuscripts.  Some simply need minor tweaks and then I  can send them out.  One is a fairy tale I need to look at  and cut out the excessive gingerbread and up some  stakes.   One is an  Arthurian romance  that loses steam and I need to up  the stakes; since I chose Sir Palamedes as a main character, I have to address his status as a Saracen (in the original stories, he's a virtuous Pagan knight who eventually converts), which means I have to be careful as a white-bread-Corvallis-boy, raised-Episcopal-turned-NeoPagan, Oregonian writer.   The more I research Sir Palamedes, the more I'm realizing that he's a complex character, and I'm not at the place where I can write from his point of view.

In other writing news, one of my stories placed in the "Space" edition of On The Premiss, so I took the family out for celebratory pizza.  Yay!  


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Designing for the March For Science

I want to be in the local March for Science in April, and I'm thinking about a poster.

I started working on a Jupiter-based one with the thought that Galileo was forced to recant what he'd seen in the telescope (and I was so intent on the layout that I spelled science "sciece").  But I'd gotten the story mixed up:  he hadn't been forced to recant that he'd seen  moons orbiting around Jupiter. Instead, he'd recanted that the Earth orbited around the sun in a heliocentric system.  His inquisition was possibly brought on as a result of churchmen seeing themselves cast as the Simpleton in Galileo's "Dialogue" between a Simpleton, a Student and a Sage.  So my design with a telescope  and Jupiter wasn't so good.

Then I thought that I'd try to make a poster about the Burning of the Library of Alexandria, except that it might not have been burnt down so much as defunded.  There are parallels between defunding the Library and defunding NOAA, but I'm not sure how to make that a poster, much less a poster with cool-looking flames on it.

I wish we still had the Art Nouveau and Art Deco gods and goddesses of industry:  the burly men holding lightning bolts and gears, and women with wind-swept hair holding wheat and fish.  Maybe I could fashion an image of science and science funding with that style.  This line of thinking led me to images of industry and recruitment posters from the two world wars.

From there I recalled the Homeric story of how Hephaestus--or Vulcan, to use his Roman name--made a shield for Achilles, showing the good life.  Would my March for Science poster show the lame god at his forge, fashioning the circular shield and showing tools of science along the rings?  I could have flames curling out of the forge!

But the martial nature of the image --a war poem about the forging of tools of war --bothered me.  I'm marching for science, and peaceful applications of science.  Should the story be retold, with a shield of war, a shield of commerce, and a shield for the rest of us?  Maybe I should turn to the goddess Athena -- didn't she create a mechanical owl?  Oh, wait, no, that was the original "Clash of the Titans."

I was coming to the conclusion that I didn't have a good narrative, something that would make a good visual image, like Prometheus bound.  Er...  Albert Einstein working out relativity?  Richard Feynman's quantum mechanics notation?  Robert Oppenheimer and the work on the atomic bomb?  Mr. Spock deciphering glyphs on an alien obelisk?  Commander Data learning the Vulcan nerve pinch?  Frankenstein and his monster?

I think it's a misstep to focus on one specific scientist, not because I don't want to celebrate particular scientist, but because I'm marching to show that I think science should be funded on a national level and data and the scientific interpretation of data should inform long-term national policy.



I went to the library to try to find mythical figures in science which would suggest a strong graphic to use on a poster.  There were a lot of books on the science of mythology, or the science behind magical beliefs, or the "Mythbusters" series.  But not a lot on the mythic meaning of science, or stories we share as a culture about how to do science.

There are some misconceptions about how science works:  the apple falling on Newton's head, or the idea of a rebel scientist working alone to make a breakthrough.  But these aren't myths in the sense of a story or symbol that explains.

I'm coming to the conclusion that science -- or at least science funding -- doesn't have gods and goddesses.  We have a toolkit:  measurement, rigorous observation, deductive reasoning, and disproving the null hypothesis.  And Bunsen burners.

So how do we keep our signs and march from eliciting the response, "So what?  The elites are crying because their toys got taken away," or "You guys sure spent a lot of money to put a remote control dune buggy on Mars."

"Science is hard," plays back into the idea of elites with toys, too.  Why is it that athlete-elites command so much respect, and science-elites less so?  It takes athletes a lot of practice to get to the Olympics, and some experiments can take as much time and effort, but do we have cities bidding against each other for "science Olympics"?




In the original Disney movie, Tron, there's a scene between Dr. Walter Gibbs, the original founder of a corporation, and Ed Dillinger, its current CEO.  "User requests are what computing is about," says Dr, Gibbs.  "Making money is what computing is about," says Dillinger.

Perhaps I should adopt a different narrative:  funding science will avoid a future Midas story, where plutocrats turn everything they touch into robots; a story not with serfs serving plutocrats, but with drones serving modern-day Borg-ias.  Maybe this isn't so much about de-funding science so much as it is about keeping a serf class uneducated, or industry unregulated.

Somewhere in the back of my mind was an early American quote about a well educated public. I did some searching and found this quote from Thomas Jefferson: 
"The value of science to a republican people, the security it gives to liberty by enlightening the minds of its citizens, the protection it affords against foreign power, the virtue it inculcates, the just emulation of the distinction it confers on nations foremost in it; in short, its identification with power, morals, order and happiness (which merits to it premiums of encouragement rather than repressive taxes), are considerations [that should] always [be] present and [bear] with their just weight." --Thomas Jefferson: On the Book Duty, 1821.

and also

"The most effectual means of preventing [the perversion of power into tyranny are] to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts which history exhibits, that possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes." --Thomas Jefferson: Diffusion of Knowledge Bill, 1779. FE 2:221, Papers 2:526


At this point, it seems like I need Lady Liberty arm-in-arm with the all Nine Muses...  And to think all this started with me wanting to make a sign to carry on a protest march.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Why I Don't Write in Coffee Shops

The other day, Mark wasn't feeling so well when I got home, so I went to a cafe to write.  It was nice enough, I guess, but it only confirmed what I think about writing in cafes:  it's really distracting and not conducive to writing or the writing mystique.  I think what I want in a cafe is more like a PG Wodehouse club, or something I imagine from Masterpiece Theatre to be a club; small tables for three or four, simply but nicely furnished with plush chairs.  Sort of like an elegant library reading room.  Only with tea and little, simple scones.

Luckily, in the real cafe I ended up at, the stereo was playing fairly bland, jazzy odes to New York, which I could tune out.  I was able to sit far enough away from the woman who was on a cell phone, using the place as if it were her own office--but that meant that I needed to share a long table with this guy who was sneezing and sniffing and snorting and talking to himself as he worked on what I thought was a sociology paper, but apparently was a music video.  There were the obligatory young women oversharing their personal lives with the crowd, but they managed to mostly speak below the ambient sound of crooners crooning New York arias.  The counter staff were very nice; the hot chocolate was OK, and the scone OK in an industrial kind of way; I really just wanted a poppyseed bagel, but they were out--next time I will have to see if they have any grapes or cheese.  

I managed to clean up some scenes and do some story maintenance in the thin hour I had before I had to go pick up The Child, who said that I smelled like coffee when he hopped into the car.  



Post cold recovery continues.  Mark decided that Saturday would be cleaning day, so he moved most of the furniture around and I mopped our floors.  And then we napped.  We didn't do a whole lot this weekend except read and nap at the house.  The big excitement was the light snowfall we got Sunday (and again this Monday), which The Child hoped would cancel school, but it melted by 10:30.  Lots of snow fell Monday morning in the hills (I guess the snow line must be about 300 feet), which made for some picturesque tree lines, but we had maybe a quarter of an inch of mostly slush.  



Saturday, March 04, 2017

Post February Cold Dream

Coming out of a twelve-day cold that's been going around town.  I had a fever last week for a few days, and I've spent most of the time congested and not really able to focus on things.  If I get enough sleep, I'm hoping that I'll be able to beat this thing without it moving down into my chest, which apparently is what happens for some folks.

I was struggling to finish a story in time for a deadline.  I was disparing of being able send something in when I recalled I had a free -- and finished -- manuscript that would fit the bill, so I've sent that manuscript in (3/2/17) with crossed fingers.  I had one of those ambigious moments reviewing the older manuscript (corrected a typo), where I really liked the story, and it was something I wrote mostly three years ago, so I had a "gee, I used to be able to write" moment.

No gym (because I've been napping and trying to write), although I actually managed to plank while I was waiting for a computer reboot, so that's something.



The other day I had a very long dream.  It started out with The Child going on a walk across the nation and ending up in Conneticuit or Maine.  He walked into a school play being put on by fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.  I was sort of there, sort of not, in a dream-narrator-participator way... I might have been overseeing his journey like some Greek diety overseeing a hero... anyway... I don't remember what the play was about, but The Child unrolled a kind of kite that was navy, purple, and yellow, and turned out to be a dog-sized dragon named Elliot.  

There was a scene shift, and I was a wandering bohemian.  Actually, there was something about an open library night, and a group of us--who all seemed to be in our early twenties--were wandering in a labyrinthine collection of rooms; each room was a different part of the Dewey system, so there was the Religions Room, and the Sculptures Room, and the Astronomy Room, (only it was the 300's room, the 600's and the 700's rooms). 

The dream became more Moulin Rouge technicolor, sort of like Clue, now that I think about it, because everyone had their signature color.  I was popping in and out of third-person omniscient and various characters' points-of-view.   

There was a scene in a kind of common hall or study.  A young woman in a white, knee-length crinoline dress sat on a red couch in a used-to-shabby room with no carpet on the hardwood floors.  There were bookshevles of some dark wood. 

There was more, but I should have written it down when I had the dream, because the recall is poor.  A group of us--we were all twenty-something and in signature colors--decided to stage a protest and prank.  It ended up me (as a purple-clad twenty-something) shooting a policeman or security guard with a shotgun (which wasn't supposed to be loaded).  I had a moment where I was directing the dream from a short distance, and I muttered "Poof! And you're shot," under my breath.  The actor playing the shot person took my utterance the either as an accusation about being a poof or else as being very dismissive of his dying scene.  I leaned against square column in a train station like area and watched him angrily walk away (he was wearing a long rain coat, which reminds me vaguely of Sherlock Holmes).

There was another scene--I have a vague notion of being on the lam-- which ended in some kind of reality dancing show; and as the camera panned out on the judge, there was a black bar across the face of the dancer in purple, to protect his identity from the police.




Monday, February 20, 2017

Weekend Gym Report

Saturday (2/19) The Child and I went to the Asian Celebration.  I wish we had gone a little earlier, because I like the performances.  The Child was mostly interested in the food... which was difficult because the food area was very congested and food purchases required standing in a long line to get vouchers (one per dollar) and another long line to actually purchase food.   We saw our Kung Fu friends perform, and they did a really nice job.  

Then we drove up to Corvallis to have a Very Last Minute, Hastily Arranged Birthday Gathering for my sister, Julie.  The gathering was very laid back and it was a nice time to visit.  

Sunday (2/20):  Went to the gym.  20 minutes on the rowing machine for about 200 calories at about 650 cal/hr.  3x13x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x13x70lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman chiar curl-ups.  3x13x35lbs barbell curls.  2x8x35lb reverse barbell pulls (or whatever they're called).  Some dumbbell tricepts curls.

I'm fighting off some congestion, so I felt a little tired in the gym.  I've had some dreams, but I don't recall them very well.  

Writing:  This week in writing I'm working on a 3000 word short for On the Premises.  I've won their contest twice in the past, and I'm trying to keep in mind what worked in those pieces in terms of world building and punchiness as I write the current piece.  I've got the story's outline, and various scenes, and I need to finish fleshing things in while focusing on the stakes and not getting bogged down in details.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rainy Dreams

Thursday Morning:  Lots and lots of rain in the middle of the night.  I woke up several times to rain against the window and the ticking of the baseboard heater.

Dream Segment One:  My mother, father, sister's family and my family had gone to a park, sort of like Disney, but not.  We were on a rollercoster, which had a lot of sharp turns and loops in it, and a very sarcastic song about how roleercosters make you want to throw up, and how all the cheap candy you've eaten isn't sitting so well, and how theme parks in general are over-priced and hokey.  Sort of "Be Our Guest" meets the second Willy Wonka movie scene where the chocolate factory automatons catch on fire.

Dream Segment Two:  The rollercoaster may have come to a stop at the edge of a building loosely based on the Hult Center.  There were lots of blocky, blue and turquoise glazed walkways, and blocks of laurels or azaleas or possibly tea plants.  The plants and raised walkways jutted out at a few points, and made a narrow amphitheater area.

Two men (I think) came out and stood on blocks to my left.  A woman in Asian attire stood out on our left and started some sort of tea ceremony.  (Someone shared a video about a Kung Fu tea ceremony, which I'm guessing this is where this came from.)

A teen girl came out and indicated that she was ready to do her part, which turned into a teen angst show about a girl (her) getting a part in a play (the play we were watching).  In a dream-shift, a tent or awning appeared.   The play moved forward, and I scurried forward and stood next to a tent pole.  An ensemble cast of teens came out and half-heartedly sang, and then backed up; I found myself suddenly in the performance area, trying to hide behind teens and pretending to sing as if I were a cast member.

There was a little more, but the most interesting part was the credits at the end, which were projected from a small iPad-like device sitting behind a box onto a paper screen on the top of the box.

Dream Segment Three:  I'm not sure how long this had been going on; I was an omniscient, third person observer.  The setting was a wildlife park, or  zoo, or jungle.   A burly man, clean-shaven, with curly brown hair, was in a rocky-edged pool (I'm pretty sure the dream borrowed the otter's pen or the aviary from the Oregon aquarium, only with football sized basalt embedded in the sides) with a tiger, leading the tiger along the edge of the pool.  "Come on Tony," the man said.  "Let's go, you can do it."

The focus moved in to sharp focus on the man, whose arm was underneath the tiger's front legs, helping the tiger to wade out of the pool.  Another tiger paw reached over the man, and rested on the first  tiger's head.  The focus widened out to include all three of them.

"Simon!" (Or maybe Sampson or Simba, I'm guessing on the tigers' names) "It's time for Tony to leave."  Tony was going to be re-released into the wild.  A set of muscles on the mans neck and upper back writhed and bristled as he stared down Simon.  Slow, Simon let go of Tony.

Dream Segment Four:  I have the sense that I was on some sort of family vacation, and we were staying at a resort.  The recall is fuzzy here, but I think we were watching someone's pet hippo.  Or maybe cow... or pig...  but I'm pretty sure it was a dark brown hippo.  The hippo was about the size of a pony or very large dog.  And fat.  And muddy.  Somehow, I found myself in the muddy trough where the hippo lived, giving it a hug and scratching it's ears.



Working Out:  Had a quick trip to the gym:  3x13x60lbs on the pec fly; 3x13x70lbs lat pull-down; 3x14 Roman-chair curl-ups; 3x13x35lbs bar-bell curls.  Then ran upstairs for a five minute, 52 calorie run on the elliptical.


Norse Locker Room

I purchased and read Neil Gaiman's "Norse Mythology" over the weekend.

While it was fun to read some of the stories that I remember reading when I was in second grade, the tribal, clannish, cattle-raiding values of the myths depressed me more than I expected.   In some ways reading them was like hearing stories told by jocks in a locker room, or boys trading boasts about how they had bested their younger brothers.

I think the tales that resonated with me the most was the building of the wall around Asgard, and the Binding of Fenris.   The wall is culturally apropos, and Gaiman's best tragic characterization is with the god Tyr giving his right hand as blood money for Fenris's betrayal.  I was hoping that there would be more characterization; generally Gaiman's most interesting characters in "Norse Mythology" are the gods -- and frequently goddesses -- who are side-players in stories which typically focus on Loki, Thor, and Odin.

The Norse gods -- at least Odin -- are supposed to be aware of Ragnarock, and this is supposed to inform their decisions, but I'm not seeing how this makes them doomed tragic heroes.  There isn't a sense of, "I'm going to do the best that I can in this situation, even if things are predestined, because it's the right thing to do in this moment," which gives the impression of the excuse of "the world's going to end anyway, so who cares?"

I read along, trying to reconcile the feeling that I shouldn't judge another culture's stories, trying not to justify the stories with a "well, if the Norse people were trying to explain natural phenomenon as by personifying them as Ice Giants..."  and at the same time looking for some cultural message to apply to the present day.

In the book, Gaiman encourages his readers to re-imagine the stories.  Thinking more, my tech-boyness is showing, because if it were me, I would focus more on the runes and the craftsmanship of the wonderful treasures and less on the god's guile and treachery.  I would focus more on the choices between and the conflicts between choosing what one wants, what is the right thing to do, and personal wyrd.