Clutter

Yesterday afternoon I was going through some papers, the massive mess of papers that has accumulated on the shelf underneath our glass topped living room table that stares at me constantly as a reminder of what a disorganized pack rot of a slob I am, and I came across a poem, and I wasn’t sure if it was a completed poem, one I’d actually performed somewhere or included in a book or presented in any way for public consumption.
So, I resolved to look into that but had, at the moment, places I had to go.  Last evening I looked for it again and couldn’t find it.  Went through all my old notebooks, found a great many things that needed to be thrown away, but I didn’t find that and went to bed with the feeling that maybe I was losing my mind a little bit.  (just a little bit.  Actually, I’m quite used to losing things and slept quite pleasantly)
Now, we have to leave in about 10 minutes to go to the cottage but I decided to have another search.  Still didn’t find it because I’m pretty sure the thing I was looking for was written in pen and ink (what a silly, redundant phrase) and that’s part of the reason I don’t know if it was ever completed, but I did find another very long poem, along with two or three short ones, all good, and checked my last two books and didn’t find them in there so either they are very old, like over two years, or I’ve never published them, so that’s cool, a little hidden treasure found among the clutter, but the other one is still out there.

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Off to the Cottage

I think I’ve figured out why Donald Trump didn’t pick Chris Christie for his running mate.  It’s because Chris Christie is a fat pig.  Think about it.

Tomorrow morning we’re headed up to the cottage.  We means me and Sam, Isabel and Helena left this morning.  I think I’ve just about got it down to my ideal, which is 4 cottage visits a year – one  in Spring, one in Summer, one in Autumn, one in Winter.  Actually, might wind up doing two this autumn, because this trip is for my father-in-law’s 70th birthday, and we usually go up for Halloween.

It’s a beautiful place, I just get bored.  You’ve got  so much outdoor natural beauty all around, and everyone sits around and  watches T.V.  Which I shouldn’t bitch, it’s what I do at home, but it’s a language thing.  Maybe partly a cultural  thing, too, I’ve just never developed an appreciation for Czech T.V.
Right now I’m watching ‘Strip the Cosmos’ and they’re talking about Martian geology, which I guess would be Areology, technically.  I don’t know how they know some of the stuff they know, like what’s below the surface of Mars.  Sure, we’ve got little robot rovers roving around, and they may have taken soil samples and stuff, but I’m sure they haven’t gone more than a meter or so down, tops, and here they are talking about lava tubes under the  surface and, while there might be some evidence, we can’t really know that.
I’ll write a quick blog tomorrow  morning before we leave so I don’t miss a day of blogging, and then I’ll be back Sunday afternoon.

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Doomed

I’m not an environmental optimist but I am hesitant to accept today’s news that  we have pumped so much carbon into the air that global warming  is  not irreversible and the human  race and life on earthas we know it is basically fucked, but my  objections amount to wishful thinking:  the  scientific word on the street  is that we are, indeed, well  and truly fucked.

However, the  human capacity for invention is  damned near infinite, and we are inventing computers that are even smarter  than we  are, so there’s that.  The main problem, of course, is that there are just too many people but, there is some evidence that mankind’s obsession with computer games may actually be reducing the birthrate – whether this is radiation sterilization, the inability of gamer geeks to form relationships (nothing really new there) or what, I don’t know, but I see it as a positive trend.

Obviously, we need to reduce the number of cars on the roads, but  this could be accomplished by driverless cars, better public transportation (trains, mostly), electric cars, and better city planning.

We need new devices to suck the carbon out of the air, and a revival of the old classic, i.e. trees.  A few hundred billion more of those guys planted here and there and it just might reverse the trend.  Also, we need to stop cutting them down, like immediately.  Nobody needs wooden furniture, or even wooden homes.  I understand the aesthetic, wood is beautiful, no doubt about it, but if a hundred year moratorium is needed in order for the human race to survive, I think we can learn to live in brick and concrete buildings and eat off of metal tables.
Paper?  Hemp makes really great paper.

The problem is that, even with today’s news, we aren’t  even starting to move in the right  direction, and probably won’t  until we’re choking to death, or the ocean swallows Florida, whichever comes first (I’m rotting for the ocean in this contest , by the way)
I hope  it won’t be  too late.

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Alternate Universes Skeptic

I am a fan  of Michio Kaku, in  the same way  that I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Phil  Plait, Michelle Thaller and  many others of that  type.  Once upon  a time there  was Carl Sagan, and people pointed to him as a rare phenomenon, a scientist who could actually talk to people normally, but now  that is rather a common breed.
But, tonight’s blog is  about Michio Kaku.  He seems a bit more broad based than  some of the others, and speaks  of  robotics as easily  as  of astrophysics but, to tell you the  truth, I have no  way  of knowing which of these guys are really  ground breaking scientists, which are flakes, and  which are considered flakes by  the scientific community but will turn out to be the  true cutting edge scientists in the end, because  I don’t really know that much about  science.  I’m just a fan.

Anyway,  I was watching Kaku’s show the other day, I believe it’s called “Science of the Impossible” and he talks about some interesting stuff, but I kind of hate the format.  He’ll take some impossible task, like say time travel, or building a faster than light ship, and  spend the hour explaining the physics of  it and then come out to a studio audience of whom have are  dressed like Darth Vader or some shit, and say “Today, I invented Time Travel” and give  like  a 5 minute explanation and then they’ll interview audience members who all say “Wow, dude, that was like so awesome.”  Really, they should leave the audience out of it.  I  don’t watch those shows to hear what a bunch of goobers, who aren’t any smarter than I am, think.
Anyway, the topic the  other day was portals into alternate universes.  Both Michio Kaku and the audience members said the same bullshit thing, which strikes me as indicative of  not knowing what the word ‘alternative’ means.  “Maybe in an alternate universe I would be a huge rock star, or married to Miss Universe, or  have billions of dollars.”  Well, no, because  the you in an alternate universe isn’t you.  You are the you who is right here in  this  universe, reading this blog, right now.  There might  be somebody who sort of looks  like you, has similar parents and  siblings and back  story, but it is still someone different.  You don’t feel  what’s going on inside them, you don’t share  their emotions, because  you just  don’t.  You’d know it if  you did.

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The Crazy Class

The phrase that keeps running through my mind, the phrase that best describes my day, the  cliche that best fits the moment is “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

I started 3 classes today, and  it was a very last minute deal, like I did not know when I woke up this morning that this would  happen.  That’s life in the fast paced world of teaching English in Prague.  It was at an elementary school in Chodov, and the first class was pretty  good.  Cute kids for the most part, but as I was trying to introduce myself to the kids on one side of the room, the chatter was rising on the other.  I tried to keep it pretty fast paced, not to freeze the class out while talking to any one individual, but then you always have the one kid who freezes up on a question like “how old are you?” and you tell him it’s O.K. to answer in Czech and he’s still silent and the other kids are coming over and telling him what  to say and he’s completely gone catatonic so you have to just move on.
The  hardest part was between classes, though.  The school has this insane system that I have to go classroom to classroom looking for the kids that  are in the English group and then shepherd them through the hallways to ‘my’ classroom.  A teacher went with me today, but this  is going  to be confusing as hell for a few weeks until I get all my students memorized.
The second class was older, and also for the most part well behaved, except for one little boy who seemed to take great pride in  ignoring all my questions and getting the rest of the class to laugh about it.
It was the 3rd class where all hell broke loose.  They just came in determined to raise hell, a bunch of crazed 8 and 9 year olds, putting tape on my back, lying to me about their names, refusing to sit down or be quiet, fighting with each other, pleading to go to the bathroom, I know all those damned kids didn’t need to pee at once.
By the end of it I was whacked, drained emotionally and physically.  But I’m looking forward to next week.

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An Accidental Discovery

Sometimes you screw up and sometimes it’s O.K., and I don’t feel bad because it wasn’t my screw up and we erred on the positive side, at least.
I was at home, it  was about 4 o’clock and, as Sam left for  football practice, he asked “What about Isabel?”  I thought ‘Yeah, that’s right, she should  be home by now but, whatever, she’s always got some after school activity or another or might be over at a friend’s house, it’s at least an hour, maybe two, before I start worrying,’ but I said “What about Isabel?” and he said “Aren’t you supposed to go with her to dance lessons today?”

Well, nobody’s said anything to me and, to be sure, I’m not clear yet on what her permanent dance schedule is going to be (its’ street dance), she’s only been to two lessons and one  was introductory.  But, I called Helena to check and she  said yes, you’re supposed to meet her in front of school at 5.  No problem, it’s only about a half hour to the school.  Isabel called me just as I was on my way out  the door, very good of her (I’m being sarcastic).

Anyway, on the  way there she told me she wasn’t sure if the lesson started at 5:30 or 6:30.  We got there about  5:15 and 6:30 proved to be correct.  So, we went out and  walked around the neighborhood a bit and discovered an absolutely delightful park.  Lots of  little  fountains which were like science projects, water wheels and screws and stuff; a windmill; lots of  adult  exercise equipment and some traditional kids stuff, too.  Plenty  of benches and a very high roofed, like 4 or 5 meters, light brown, wooden shelter.
From now on, I’ll probably wait there during her lessons, weather permitting, but we would not have discovered it if we hadn’t screwed up on the schedule.

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An O.K. Sunday

Today was a pretty good day.  Of course, I spent  a  bit of time arguing  politics  with  people on Facebook, because  it is a day which ends in Y, but then about 10:30 I got drafted to take Isabel and  her two friends to a toy store.  Not just any toy store, they weren’t actually shopping.
Since I have been in Prague, nearly two decades, the biggest toy store has been Sparky’s, but this place puts it  in the shade, makes it look like  just a store (which, of course, it is)  Henleys, or Hemleys, or something like that, is  more like  a funfair that happens to sell toys.  There is a big slide from the second floor down  to the first, a full sized merry-go-round, a rally pit for remote controlled cars, drones flying around, and a huge statue, like two stories tall,  of some  comic book superhero I didn’t recognize, that’s how old  and out of  the loop I  am.
As soon as we got into the  shop, Isabel gave me directions to the  cafe, in away that made it  clear she  didn’t want me hovering over them, after all, she’s no longer 8 years old (she’s 9),  so I went to the cafe and had a seat and started a book I’d borrowed from Helena.  Really, we do not have the same taste in books at all, but at least it  wasn’t  Nicolas Sparks.  It  was John Green, Paper Towns.
Well, after about an  hour we went home, had burritos for lunch, I read a bit more, did a bit more Facebooking, and then went to Sam’s football game.  It was a bright, sunny day so I was very glad they played on the field where the bleachers are.  Kept half an eye on the game and got a bit further in the book.  No loss, I mean no loss for me not seeing every second of action in the game, the game was a loss, 7-1.
Came home, a friend was over for  dinner, and after he left I finished the book but it is now after midnight.  So, I guess that’s a sign of a good book, and although maybe it’s not actually intended for adults, I enjoyed it.

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