a story from my childhood: a most deadly riff that you never, ever want to hear – especially like this

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This is a story from my childhood and one that I remember well.  This is a picture of me near my house in Florida which isn’t in the picture and one of my many beloved hand-me-down adult bikes that would have been taken within a few years of the time of the story I’m about to tell but unlike the story which happened at night this photo was taken in the day time.  As you may surmise from the photo, I grew up in a very rural area.   I spent a lot of time working on a farm and even though I went to school like every other kid there were many nights that I didn’t get home from the farm until late into the night.  The road I took in this story was less maintained than the one in the photo.  So let’s start shall we…

a story from my childhood: a farm kid, a bicycle and a pitch black night.

I was on a dark dirt road on this particular night when I was probably around 10 years old, part of the farm from where I had been working was to my back and had some dim lights which barely broke the firm grasp of the darkness.  Me and my bike were in a dark area pointing towards what looked like a dark swamp and to the untrained one wouldn’t have recognized it as a road.  Slightly to my left was the main road which was a wide well maintained dirt road but still pitch black except in the distance you could see dim lights of another part of the farm.  It’s the road I normally take home at night when I’m on my bike and forgot to bring a flashlight like on this night.  It would have been easy to take the main road even in pitch black darkness but it was a mile and a half home that way.  I was alone and it was late on a school night and I was exhausted and just wanted to get home to my warm comfy bed.  Through the dark swampy trail, it would have been around a 3/4 mile trek though much more challenging to navigate in the complete darkness with no stars or moonlight to speak of.

Decisions, decisions.  Standing in the dark on the road with my oversized bike, I contemplated the choice in front of me and I remember not being scared of anything as I made the careful necessary calculation.  Taking the swamp trail would be very challenging; I would have to rely purely off memory from where I took the trail countless times in the daytime but never at night.  It would be like taking the trail blindfolded or with my eyes closed but in the mind of my young 10 year-old self, “no problemo!”  It all boiled down to the time savings so off on my little journey into the darkness I went.

I had to build up speed and hit the ditch between me and the trail head.  The deep ditch was full of water and was muddy which could easily stop a bike and throw it’s rider right over the handle bars.  I had learned this the hard way one unsuspecting day.   But this night there were no magnificent handle bar acrobatics and bad physics experiments in store for me.  However, my bike hit the deep ditch full of water hard and bounced violently before I made it across to the other side.  I got soaked with water and mud but it was too dark to inventory the damage so I continued on having walk my bike up a steep embankment.  I knew the path ahead of me which I could not see in the total darkness was straight for about a quarter mile and made a hard right turn.  I knew there were always deep holes almost big enough and deep enough to swallow me and my bike about the distance of 20 bike lengths.  I couldnt see those either so I decided to push my bike until I passed those hazards.  The road, well if one could call it that, maybe a goat trail is a better name for it, was mostly grass and only about the width of an automobile tire or slightly wider was the dirt part of the trail.  It was easy to walk in the dark and feel the dirt under my old worn out shoes.  When I started venturing off the road which happened a couple of times, I could feel the rough grass and weeds under my shoes.  Each time I quickly corrected my direction to get back on the road.  Eventually, I stepped right into one of the deep holes and knew I was there.  Oddly the holes didn’t hold water long after storms so they were dry.  There were large hogs in this area so I always wondered if that was their little watering holes and they drank them dry.

Now, I knew I had a straight shot in the darkness until the road curved sharply to the right.  I knew the field past the curve would often get muddy with something I can only best describe as quicksand though rarely went deeper than waste deep and also tended to harbor a great briar patch which could slice up ones skin with all it’s barbs.  I surely need to avoid running into that field I thought to myself as  I got on my bike and began to pedal.  I ran off the road a few times but quickly corrected by just feeling the narrow but smooth road under my tires.  I picked up speed and tried to remember how far it was to the curve.  While I was pedaling, I noticed an eerie quietness in the cool night air.  Nights can sometimes be loud due to the magnificent orchestra of frogs and crickets and who knows what else in the wooded areas like this one.  But not on this night.  I made a mental note of it an continued onwards since by now I had gotten a little better at navigating the road and correcting course when needed to stay on the smooth dirt.

Then just as I got comfortable with my blind bike riding adventure, I ran through the curve into the field full of weeds.  My feet instinctively landed onto the soft muddy ground and kept me from falling and I paused a moment waiting for the strong sting of briars but it never came.  Wow, I thought I’m lucky these waste high weeds aren’t briars or I’d be shredded. I stood for a moment to see if I sank into the potential quicksand.  But tonight was my lucky night – no razor blade weeds and no quick sand.  Things are looking up for me so I by using nothing but the feel of the ground beneath my feet,  found the curved wannabe road that I had failed to recognize earlier on my bike and climbed back onto my bike.

I tried to make sure I was oriented in the right direction and not go back in the direction from which I had came and get well positioned on the road before I started pedaling.  This entire area was surrounded by thick forests so I couldn’t use any lights from the farm or from my house to help guide me.  I took another moment to calculate the distance of this leg of the obstacle course.  I knew the path ahead of me was straight for a little over a quarter mile and then veered left into a very swampy and wet area of the road that was usually under water.  I dreaded the thought of having to navigate that area as I’d likely have to travel through water on my bike.  I figured I’d wind up wading water on foot which didn’t sound at all pleasant to me.  I was still wet from the ditch encounter earlier.

I then paused and once again briefly noted how strange it was that it was so quiet on this night.  I don’t recall that ever happening before so it kind of creeped me out.  Other than that creepy feeling I remember not being scared of anything.  I got on my bike and continued on and by now I was pretty good at navigating this road in the darkness.  The road felt smooth under my tires and by now I rarely even ventured off the road into the grass.  So for a while I felt at ease in the quiet total darkness on my bike feeling the cool damp night air pass across my face.  With more speed I could hear the air passing by my ears slightly breaking the silence and the quiet pitter patter of mud from the tires hitting me in the back of the head and back of my shirt from where I ran into the muddy field and none of the adult bikes I inherited as a child had fenders to block the dirt and mud.  I continued on without many cares or concerns of what may or may not go wrong.  Little kid minds like mine at the time just don’t think of those things in great detail it’s more like as a kid we live minute by minute or second by second and don’t really ponder how a bad quick decision could go wrong and potentially affect you for the rest of your life.  A quick bad decision like I made on this particular pitch black night to take a narrow trail without a flashlight through a swampy area.  Anyway things were about to go very bad for me and I don’t remember what came first whether it was running over something big in the road or the sound, the piercing sound that I knew so, so well.  It was a natural riff played by one of the most deadly creatures in an arsenal of bad creatures also known as venomous snakes.  I could see nothing and all I had to go on was feeling something very evil under the tires of my bike and the piercing sound that now echoed against all the big trees that I couldn’t see.  And obviously by now a whole lot of adrenaline for a little kids body.  I heard this sound often in the daytime for which I never had a healthy enough dose of fear from it but in the day time I always knew where it was.  But tonight as I heard the loud dire warning, I had no idea where its lethal head was and for once in my little invincible kid mind, I was scared.  I think anyone can recognize the fear inducing sound of a very large rattlesnake, it’s almost like the fear response is coded into our very DNA.

Anyway, in the split second from the time I ran over the large creature and the instant warning sound, I instinctually pulled up on the handle bars to keep the bike from stalling out the forward speed and falling directly on top of or at least near whatever the offending object was.  Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, however you look at it, I had well rehearsed this response after some very nasty accidents in the past including some that irreparably damaged some earlier bikes.  I learned physics at an early age I suppose. So back to our story where at this moment the snake would have  been between my front and back tires and well within striking distance of my little legs and feet.  I pedaled hard knowing I had to make sure the back tire of the bike made it over the large lethal venomous snake that  I could not see but I could hear and sense quite well.  Imagining back I’m surprised I didn’t pedal with enough force to throw the snake backwards at least a 100 feet.  But I felt every bit of the creature under the back wheel and I was never happier to feel the bounce of the bike and continued forward motion.  I don’t remember taking inventory of my legs to see if I felt any large puncture wounds but for the 2nd half of the trail including the part of the road that was under water took no time at all to finish up.  I got home and as usual no one was waiting on me and no one would have missed me at least until the next day probably if I hadn’t have made it through the field that night.  I had a strange childhood with almost no rules, no curfew, and no supervision.  But I made it home that night without getting bit or breaking any limbs and without a flash light.  I don’t think I ever took that short-cut again in the dark without a flashlight and I’ve never forgot that night even though it was so many years ago.  I don’t know how I survived my childhood because this is only one of many stories just as bad as this one.  But I did survive it and I’m glad I’m able to write about it and laugh about it now.

 

 

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halo gingerly world! simple doodling with plumbago and paint 3d

I just upgraded my pc to windows 10 creators update which has Microsoft Paint 3d.  I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with it so I just did a simple doodle to test it out along with another free app called plumbago which is a notebook writing sketching app.  The first image below I did with plumbago and a stylus.

I then saved it as a png and loaded paint 3d and created a simple blue 3d sphere.   The eyes, mouth, and north pole err I mean hair are called stickers and you can place them on the 3d objects.  Finally, I loaded the first image as a custom sticker and stretched it over the sphere.  It also supports 3d text which is what I did the date in.  Lastly, I used a yellow light source on the first and red light source on the second and exported them to standard jpg format.

My main problem with plumbago is I couldn’t figure out how to lasso some of the image and enlarge or shrink it.  I figure it must be possible but with the ruled lines maybe it disallows it.  All in all both programs are pretty neat.  I’m sure I’ll try them out again when I have more time so I can gingerly doodle more and hopefully better images.  🙂

 

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zeitgeist, loyalty feigned and real, and a talking blond wig named womp

zeitgeist, loyalty feigned and real, and a talking blond wig named womp

Stream of consciousness can be a funny thing if you just sit back and let it.  If I can ever be disciplined and loyal enough to write in the mornings (morning pages), I think I would write better blog posts but here I am at 10 PM tired from a long day and a 2.5 hours commute time and trying to rely on SoC to help me write a decent post before another restless night of what some people call sleep.

I was listening to a new podcast tonight, sitting in the back yard swing after dark enjoying the cooler night air when the podcast, called It Makes a Sound, used the word zeitgeist which I haven’t heard in a long time; okay and they used it in a particularly entertaining way – at least to my silly sense of humor.  I thought to myself now there is a word to go in the title of a tired sleep blog entry so here we are.  LOL.  Not that we shouldn’t worry about the implications of that word…

And then there is loyalty or lack thereof.  In politics and the rat race everyone expects it even though it almost never exists in the wild.  I was going to look up some recent research on the topic which suggests people are almost always looking out for themselves but I’ll save it for later.  Also somewhat related, I was listening to a podcast of 60 minutes (Episode of ~10/8/2017) on the way home after work this evening and they ended it with a quote from Nixon about six years before he resigned, I know they are real subtle right? And it went something like this from the original 60 minutes interview by Mike Wallace

“When style and charisma connotes the idea of contriving of public relations, I don’t buy it at all…” Nixon told Wallace. “Some public men are destined to be loved and other public men are destined to be disliked, but the most important thing about a public man is not whether he’s loved or disliked, but whether he’s respected. And I hope to restore respect to the presidency at all levels by my conduct.”

The 60 minutes episode, however, did have a good report on how Trump’s team leveraged facebook with a dedicated team of facebook republican employees (wow such a thing exists?), and a sad report on the vegas shooting, and an interesting report on shake shack.

And last and maybe I dare say least to some people that is we have a talking blond wig.  OK my goal so far with the blog is to mostly avoid politics so I’m not going to go too far out on this shaky limb but I listen and read quite a bit of news and everywhere you look is well, you know.  I remember a few years ago talking to my mom about an encounter she had with a family member and I asked her what she thought of him (the family member) and she responded she thought he was the loch ness monster.  Now I actually like the vulgar South Park cartoon series sometimes but I knew my mom who is old fashioned had never watched it so she had obviously just single handedly created out of thin air one of the funniest parts of South Park but I couldn’t bring myself to ask her how in the world she came up with that or if my cousin err umm the loch ness monster asked her for about tree fiddy.  So today I decided to think of how my mom might describe our current prez and I came up with talking blond wig.  Naming the blond wig womp just seemed natural and when I read the definition of womp, I figured putting a blond wig on the old rabbit ears tv antenna we used to have would surely improve the signal quality – ok I know I’m grasping at straws or fake wig hairs here but it’s late and I’m tired so that’s all for now.  🙂

the hurdy gurdy, an exceptional folk music instrument

 

the hurdy gurdy, an exceptional folk music instrument

Not sure how many of you are familiar with this instrument but it’s pretty interesting.  Thought I would share some of the cool videos I found related to this unique instrument.

 

I always like including links to TED whenever possible so here is one specifically for the instrument:

 

Are you a gadget geek?  Kickstarter which is a site for people to try to raise money for ideas and products, etc.  even has a gurdy kit you can build yourself and also some very cool wooden trains.

 

Though not technically a gurdy i suppose but cool nonetheless, the marble machine.  Kind of like a rube goldberg music machine…

 

Still not buying it all this ruckus about HG.  You may have heard the words hurdy-gurdy in the past and just forgotten. 🙂  Catchy song from the old days.

 

Want to know more check out Patty’s link and peruse her vids.

 

 

 

“All creatures are capable of darkness, but not all choose to succumb to it.” ― Sara Humphreys

“All creatures are capable of darkness, but not all choose to succumb to it.”
Sara Humphreys

Sometimes I find a quote that I like that doesn’t necessarily match the topic that I wanted to talk about.  Of course the quote is usually based on the daily prompt word of the day which today is succumb.  I’m also not against borrowing quotes from Romance Book authors either so if that is a genre that interests you the quote is from this book, vampire troubles.  I’ve never read anything in the genre yet which with their liberal use of book covers with pecs reminds me of college Anatomy books.  I mean how many different ways can you illustrate books with close-up massive pecs pics – TBD.

What I really wanted to briefly talk about today was the good reads 2017 challenge for which i pledged to read 48 books this year.  And umm I’m only at 15 books :S

Therefore, I’ve decided to cheat.  Kind of.  I’ve decided to read shorter books like comics to try to catch back up.  I guess if i reached far enough I could connect three of the recent comic titles to darkness in the quote i used for this post.  And not that readers who would be interested in romance novels would likely be interested in comics but here goes:

Batman

Halloween Comic Fest 2014 - Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Special Edition (2014-) #1

And Batman’s sidekick Robin’s new gig:

Nightwing

Nightwing 201 Booklet

and Scooby-Doo

Scooby-Doo Team-Up Vol. 1

And if you’re like me and like free, all of these comics just happen to be free on google play books:  Batman, Nightwing 201, and Scooby-Do Team-Up and all yes, just coincidentally are related to Halloween (I think) – this month’s holiday for some in the big wild world.  I hyperlinked those in case you use google play books and wanted to check them out and no I don’t get a percentage of your “free” purchase price if you go through with it.  🙂

 

the constant struggle, athletics vs creativity

the constant struggle, athletics vs creativity

Well, I finally painted my first rock this evening which because of the rock’s shape i decided to do a great white shark.  I traced the rock outline with a pencil and sketched out a design in pencil first which turned out great because I could have never came up with that on the rock first due to how difficult it is to paint on an uneven rock.  I used metallic acrylic paint which turned out better than I expected.

However, as the 2nd photo indicates, my creative project came at the expense of my fitbit goal of 10,000 steps or roughly 5 miles.  The neon circle should go all the way around but stops at just past the 3/4 mark.  😦  An unfortunate reminder of how difficult it is sometimes to juggle those little creative tasks with meeting daily exercise goals.

The 3rd photo bottom right is the shark rock before image.  I was thinking of making the little white rock in the bottom middle a rattle snake head.  The egg shaped rock I may make into a little dino egg with a t-rex head sticking out.

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our tethered life

our tethered life

What is it about the moon and the stars that captivate us?  Is it because we are tethered here and it makes us think about being there where ever there is?  Maybe we’re kind of like the fish in the fish bowl peering out possibly wanting to be somewhere else.

I snapped this picture of the moon and Venus and Mercury (I think).  The sky was actually dark when I took this.

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Earlier today I was walking around a park in Bristol, FL and walked up on this.  When I found myself tonight trying (not succeeding) to get a good picture of the moon I thought of this picture and the related theme.  LOL.

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I was just glad i didn’t run into this guy.  LOL.  I’ve been watching original Twilight Zone episodes lately and getting a good laugh.

This was my view earlier this evening from my new wooden swing that I recently bought.  I thought the patterns of the clouds overlapping the moon was kind of interesting so naturally i had to go grab my camera.

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For now the moon wins.  I guess I’ll have to invest in a tripod and finally read some of the advanced photography books I’ve had forever if I want to ever get a good picture of the moon. 🙂

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the nebulous precipice of dreamy snow-capped peaks

the nebulous precipice of dreamy snow-capped peaks

I’ve been thinking about painting lately but not with acrylic or oil but with words.  I had been toying around with the idea for sometime already when I started reading a book titled H.P. Lovecraft’s Book of the Supernatural: 20 Classic Tales of the Macabre, Chosen by the Master of Horror Himself. How is that for a long book title.  To be honest, horror has always been one of my least read genres.  However, my goal as a wannabe writer is to read everything especially genres I don’t care for as much.

As I read the book, it dawned on me that the part I loved most about it wasn’t the stories although they were good too but the essay at the beginning of the book written by Howard Phillips himself called Notes on Writing Weird Fiction which you can read by clicking on the hyper-link.  I could read that essay over and over and enjoy it anew each time even though it is extremely condensed.  Here is the first sentence from his essay:

My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature.

I’m speechless and in my mind’s eye, I can hear George Takei, saying “OH, MY!” right now.  And yes I do hear with my mind’s eye… sometimes.  LOL.  I’ve known for a long time that one of the horror genre’s strengths is incredible imagery and scenery but I’ve never been able to articulate it anywhere near the level that HP Lovecraft does in his essay.  And one final note, what he says or implies about using writing to understand something in your own mind with extreme clarity is another reason I choose to dabble with writing though I’m not naive enough to think I’ll ever be a writer on par with HP Lovecraft.


 

A final final note, the title I almost used tonight was the nebulous precipice of the xenopus which by the way is an African clawed frog.

a qualm and stormy night

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You ever look at a picture and try to imagine what it must be like if you were in that place?  For instance, when i look at the picture above I wonder what it must be like to be a homeless person looking for somewhere to sleep.  I first thought the far tree line may be ok but then it looks like it might rain so maybe it’s better to walk to the other side and sleep under the bridge.  Kind of like a troll…  I mean most trolls are homeless, right?


I read the definition of qualm several times to try to figure out if the title was grammatically correct, but then i stopped and thought, who cares.  I have no qualm about writing grammatically incorrect blog posts.  It’s the thought that counts.  At least in cases where thought exists, unlike internet trolls…


And for a quote with qualm in it…

If a mosquito has a soul, it is mostly evil. So I don’t have too many qualms about putting a mosquito out of its misery. I’m a little more respectful of ants.

Douglas Hofstadter

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/douglashof508383.html


And some documentaries I’ve watched on the topic of homelessness

Dark Days
Tent City USA

Always remember to support charity if you can.  You never know when you or someone you know may be the ones in need of help.

boltzmann’s brains final paradox and his late cat freckles

Warning.  This post may venture out a little farther than normal into the weeds of obscurity and geekiness.

Ok just in the unlikely case that any physicist or philosophical purist happens across this blog entry I hope freckles demonstrates (wow I had to think about subject/verb agreement there 2nd time in this sentence) that I’m being silly and playful with mixing ideas.

Lately, as a result of my OCDness and maybe having too many hobbies, I’ve been thinking about efficiency and as I often do how I can take it to the extreme or if you like Latin or you too are OCD you can read that as ad nauseam or ad infinitum or if you really hate the direction this is going, reductio ad absurdum.  So as an exercise of all those at once and hopefully to help illustrate my point, I often try to get two birds (or more) with one stone (or in my case words).    The bird thing is an example of an idiom and often leads me down the path of trying to remember the difference in a metaphor, idiom, cliché, euphemism, and trope to name a few.  All those words link to http://www. merriam-webster.com which is one of the better dictionary sites because it has a lot of extra information such as word origin, etymology, thesaurus and a rhymes with list (useful if you like writing poetry).  So before you get the idea I’m gaslighting, I’ll move on but only slightly.  🙂

So thoughts on why I blog?  Here is the short list of birds umm err words:

  1. to share a story often personal which hopefully at least some people will find interesting.  Teh internets is a big crazy place so maybe.
  2. to practice writing – grammar and content.  I know I often get the former wrong.
  3. to document words and ideas that I have learned that I can share with others who are interested.  I do this with many hyperlinks in my blog posts.
  4. to share useful tech-tips – tools and websites, etc.
  5. to explore ideas or thought experiments that I think of sometimes that don’t fit into my fiction writing.
  6. I’m sure there are many others that I can’t think of right now.  🙂

So why the title other than the word “final” being required to participate in the wordpress daily prompt?  So I have a long commute to work each day and I often play this recall game in my mind while I drive.  It may be that I hear something on the radio or an audio book or college lecture audio that I’m listening to and it reminds me of a word or concept that I’ve encountered in the past.  So on this one past day I was trying to remember Boltzmann Brain and all I could picture in my head was this image:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e6/Boltzmann_(427167382).jpg

I know disturbing, right? LOL.  Well I kept forgetting to look it up when I got home or to the office but I would keep remembering it (the game not the words I was looking for) when i got in the car and started my daily commute.  So I spent days in agony trying to remember the words “Boltzman Brain.”  Now that I’ve mentioned it here, I’ll never forget it again – it has been etched in the halls of immortality on the Internet.  🙂

So I used the word “final” because I don’t really plan on writing about Boltzmann again (although it is possible) and if I actually believed (I don’t) as part of the theory goes that I and my brain are nothing more than a Boltzman Brain then it would be my last paradox on that subject.  And what about poor freckles?  Well obviously a reference to Schrodinger’s Cat (yet another paradox) since we were on the topic of physics and paradoxes and let’s just say I opened the box the cat was in (metaphorically) or was it Pandora’s? .  LOL.  I guess that depends on whether or not someone clicked this link expecting a serious discussion on physics.  Well I warned them early on.  🙂  I’ll have to save that discussion for another day.