Zelda's exercise, Oct 8

Posted on: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 16:38 By: Tom Swiss

A little Zelda's Inferno exercise: freewrite on the phrase "floating at the top of the arc"

floating at the top of the arc, weightless, like an astonaut training flight, to go up and hang in the sky, and be free of the grip of the ground. floating at the top of the arc, the sweet moment in between the work and the decay, between the crushing launch and the crushing fall. floating at the top of the arc, the one perfect moment, that can only be found mathematically, not in the actual experience, a single point of inflection. floating at the top of the arc, floating at the top of the arc, rising and falling and rising and falling actions of plots.

"Vonnegut's Apocalypse", Rolling Stone

Posted on: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 16:22 By: Tom Swiss

Rolling Stone talks with Kurt Vonnegut:

"I'm Jeremiah, and I'm not talking about God being mad at us," novelist Kurt Vonnegut says with a straight face, gazing out the parlor windows of his Manhattan brownstone. "I'm talking about us killing the planet as a life-support system with gasoline. What's going to happen is, very soon, we're going to run out of petroleum, and everything depends on petroleum. And there go the school buses. There go the fire engines. The food trucks will come to a halt. This is the end of the world. We've become far too dependent on hydrocarbons, and it's going to suddenly dry up. You talk about the gluttonous Roaring Twenties. That was nothing. We're crazy, going crazy, about petroleum. It's a drug like crack cocaine. Of course, the lunatic fringe of Christianity is welcoming the end of the world as the rapture. So I'm Jeremiah. It's going to have to stop. I'm sorry."

Sometimes two buttons is one too many

Posted on: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 12:56 By: Tom Swiss

Something I sent in to the RISKS Forum:

Yesterday I took a CPR class that featured training in the use of
Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs.

AEDs are truly remarkable devices. Early defibrillation raises the
probability of survival about an order of magnitude over CPR alone, and AEDs
are - supposedly - designed to be so easy to use that even child can
operate them. Watching the training video brought to mind memories of
science-fiction stories where the hero hooks his wounded buddy up to an
"autodoc" unit that monitors and medicates him, acting like a cybernetic
paramedic until their spaceship makes it back to base.

User interface confusion was never a problem in those stories.

just journaling: October already

Posted on: Sun, 10/08/2006 - 12:53 By: Tom Swiss

In the past few weeks I've heard two popular covers of songs that were big when I was in high school or my freshman year of college: "Land of Confusion", originally by Genesis, and "Gone Daddy Gone", originally by the Violent Femmes.

A new generation of musicians re-interpreting songs I grew up on. Ghods that makes me feel old.


Been on the chaos train again...this, that, and the other. Two weeks ago, I got Grandma Bert and Grandpop Len's piano moved from Mom and Dad's house to my place. Dad says he thinks the thing dates to the nineteen-teens. That evening, went to see Uncle Jeff and Aunt Cindy play music at an art gallery in Hampden...sort of a whole family music legacy day.

Zelda's exercise, Oct 1

Posted on: Mon, 10/02/2006 - 14:34 By: Tom Swiss

From Zelda's Inferno, another writing exercise. This time, the objective was to make up one-liners and puns (sort of along the lines of the Tom Swifty), using the following word list:

skating catch tackle boring balls base block dirt score play kick competiton fans field cheer watch

Silly, but kind of fun.

- the crackhead who should have never gotten to first base

- do you play soccer? ah, just for kicks.

- And now with the dirt on the O's new infield, here's sports reporter Heywood Yabuzzov

black and white names

Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2006 - 14:30 By: Tom Swiss

ABC reports on a test done by 20/20, where identical resumes were posted on the net, with "white-sounding" (such as Molly, Amy, Jake, Connor) or "black-sounding" (Imani, Ebony, DeShawn, DeAndre) names. The ones with the white-sounding names were downloaded 17 percent more.

Zelda's exercise, September 24

Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2006 - 14:01 By: Tom Swiss

Another exercise from Zelda's Inferno.

This one was inspired by a scene in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, where young John is talking with his brother, who is intently studying the Bible. His brother wants to be a preacher when he grows up, and says he has to study because if you want to help people, you have to know the right stories to tell them. This exercise: tell a story that helps.

a story from I don't know where, from I don't know when
that I come back to when I feel insignificant, inferior:

Once there was a stonecutter, who spent his days carving rocks from the side of a mountain with a hammer and chisel.

Nitrous oxide

Posted on: Thu, 09/21/2006 - 13:48 By: Tom Swiss

New Scientist reports on human activity's impact on another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide:

As a greenhouse gas, N2O is 296 times as powerful as carbon dioxide and accounts for 6 per cent of the greenhouse effect. To better understand the N2O output from forests, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl of the Karlsruhe Research Centre in Germany and team members Per Ambus and Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern studied N2O emissions from 11 European forests...

They found that nitrifying soil bacteria thrive on high nitrogen levels, producing mainly nitrates, which are turned into N2O by denitrifying bacteria. As human activity adds more nitrogen to the biosphere, the production of N2O by the bacteria looks set to grow.

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