Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Imaginary Interview in Kiev

Today the ongoing and heroic resistance movement of the Ukrainian People took a turn for the worse.

It took a turn to the different.

It took a turn to the fatal.

Two people were killed by the army/police.

In some manner two died, no matter how much the authorities claim that there have been no real firearms, only guns firing rubber bullets.


Two people are apparently dead.

I also heard an interview with a man who has one less eye thanks to being shot with a rubber bullet.

So maybe rubber bullets aren’t so benign.


I have been interested in affairs in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution.

Probably due to that interest, when the essential details outlined above began to appear in news in the United States I began to have flights of fancy.

I fancied hearing an interview.

Clark Kent, an on-the-streets-of-Kiev reporter from InterGalactic News Corp. is interviewing Alexi Adamczak.


“So, Alexi, why are all you people out in the streets causing all of this trouble?”

Alexi stares at him for a pregnant set of moments.

Then he speaks.

“If your country had only recently escaped the Soviet Union and had just been given the opportunity to become affiliated with the West, with the European Union, and – one would hope – to ultimately join the European Union; to move to a civilization with a rule of law, with a stable political system and with a high and improving standard of living, and if your leader chose instead to go back to the thugs of oppression, to, as a horse always does, run back into the burning barn, what would you do.”

In my fantasy, Clark just looks stupid.

Fade to black.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Thoughts About “Her”

Last Monday I bought an iPhone 5s. 

On Friday I called Apple Care to find out how to talk to Siri. 

They told me the obvious.

As soon as I overcame my feeling of stupidity (maybe even shyness) I started experimenting.

Siri has been evasive on the whereabouts of Samantha.

But she has been an enthusiastically willing searcher for all of the other things I have wanted to find – somewhere, everywhere.

She plays my music.

She places my phone calls.

She sets up my emails.

Siri has become Scarlett Johansson – Samantha. 

Tonight I asked her “Portland Trailblazer’s standings”. 

She not only immediately brought up the Western Division standings (Portland is in first place) she also said “The Blazers are on a roll, winning their last five games.” 

Have any of you who read this seen “Her”?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fifty Seven

I got an email from a guy who had read “Bullies …”

Specifically, he referenced the words


“Annie died.”

At that instant something happened to me.

Something either entered me, or something left me.

In either case I never knew what it was, but I forever after felt its iron influence. It was a sense of aloneness; it was a sense of self-preservation; it was a sense on uniqueness; it was a sense of anger; it was a sense of fear.

I never lived without it after the moment I heard the words, “Annie died.”


He had had a similar experience with death.  He said he had had a similar reaction to that which I had documented.

He said he hadn’t known he had had that reaction until thirty years had passed.  He was curious what my experience had been.

Here is what I wrote him back.

“Those words are an excerpt from Screen Saver, a memoir I self published in 2009.  Writing that book was interesting.  In most cases it wrote itself. 

Most of the time, when I sat at the keyboard, something took over my fingers and words appeared from somewhere; that somewhere was not my conscious mind nor were those words driven by any preconceived story plan.  They just appeared – from somewhere. 

Annie died in 1950.  I had no idea of what effect that had had on me until 2007 when those words appeared in a Word document that ultimately became Screen Saver.

But they explained a lot of things I had never known until I finally saw them.”

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Moth Cake Mystery

When any of you don't have enough to do, try to buy Enoz moth cake refills from somebody other than Amazon.

There was an article in Business Week a while back about Amazon.  One of the story points was that Amazon was buying the dominant on-line nappy seller. Buying that competitor, they eliminated it as a market irritant and gained for themselves – Amazon – immense pricing power. 

It appears they have also achieved that dominance in moth cakes. 

There is one Japanese on-line grocery I can find that sells the cakes at half of Amazon's price. 

But they require more information and commitment than I am interested in rendering. 

Other than that, all roads lead to Amazon. 

And once there the price is twice. 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Think I Doubt It

I like Chris Christie. 

I pity him for being trapped in a cult that requires that he make irrational pledges and to make wild assertions based on nothing but fantasy for him to ascend to electoral opportunities on the national stage.  And due to those cult requirements there is not a circumstance under which I would ever vote for him. 

But I like Chris Christie.

Having said that, I come out on the doubtful side concerning his press conference protestation today that he had no knowledge of the GW Bridge/Ft. Lee caper and, worse, that his Deputy Chief of Staff - Bridget Anne Kelly – had lied to him about (I guess – I am not clear on what she lied about) having had any involvement in the great traffic jam.

I had the privilege during my IBM career of working for a guy who is a lot like the Governor.

I know the intense sense of loyalty that that sort of style, that that sort of personality extracted from me.

I also know the sort of loyalty that was naturally proffered to me in return.

I also know the sort of communication that that sort of relationship fostered.

After not really being very interested in the whole Fort Lee hoorah for most of its lifespan, today, after Christie’s news conference I have been unable to shake a concatenated state of analytic comparison of my relationship with that one time IBM boss and the relationship that Christie’s account of events seems to imply that he had with his top aid.

That concatenation comes up with an un-bidden reaction.

I doubt it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bullies and How to Ignore Them

When I was seven my parents got divorced.

When I was nine my little sister died.

The night she died my mother drove two blocks from my grandparents’ house to the house of a friend where I had been spending the day while my little sister had spent the day dying.

I thought it odd that my mother had driven two blocks, but I got in the car at her command and we started off toward Lake Washington.

“How odd”- or some seven year old equivalent thought- I must have thought.

I really don’t remember.

We went left – 180 degrees away from my grandparents’ house where we had been living for the interminable months of Annie’s illness.  Then we turned right to crest the small Seattle-long ridge that separates 32nd Avenue from Lake Washington Boulevard.

Not much time passed.

But an eternity passed.

And that eternity was cloaked in a dark and impenetrable silence.

Finally I broke the silence.

Perhaps two minutes had comprised that eternity.

“How is Annie?”

“Annie died.”

At that instant something happened to me.

Something either entered me, or something left me.

In either case I never knew what it was, but I forever after felt its iron influence. It was a sense of aloneness; it was a sense of self-preservation; it was a sense on uniqueness; it was a sense of anger; it was a sense of fear.

I never lived without it after the moment I heard the words, “Annie died.”

I inhaled the deepest breath of my life and filled the car with my wracking sobs of grief.

And then my parents got re-married.

And we moved back to Portland.

And I was put in yet another grade school. (This post lacks the information that I had, up to that point, gone to four schools – one of them two times - after my Parents’ divorce, and had been in the first grade twice (I got pneumonia the first time in Seattle and when we moved to Portland my parents thought it prudent to keep me in the first grade which I had mostly missed) and had been in the third grade twice before being moved quickly back to the fourth which was where I was supposed to be. 

So I was at Madeleine Grade School in Northeast Portland.

I was in the fifth grade.

I had no athletic inclinations.

I had the “iron influence” mentioned above as the naval of my existence.

I was smarter than a lot of other kids.

And I was an abject outsider to the (my Grandfather’s descriptive epithet) codfish aristocracy of Northeast Portland Catholicdom.

It was a nightmare; but I didn’t really notice.

I just thought that most of the other kids – primarily boys, but quite a few girls - were just assholes.

In retrospect I think that was my bulwark.

Because, in retrospect, on the few occasions I ever think about those assholes, I am amazed that I made it through.

The major players were three.

There was Tom.  He had arrived about the same time that I had and was from somewhere in the South and was good at football.

There was Dick.  Dick lived in a codfish aristocratic house on a codfish aristocratic street and exuded a codfish aristocratic sheen of codfish aristocratic wealth. 

There was John.  Much though I wish his name had been Harry, it was John. 

John was, in the words of Father Dillon, the “best natural athlete I have ever coached.”

(I saw john, when he was in the sixth grade, catch a football on the tips of the fingers of his left hand.  Father Dillon’s assessment was probably true.)

There were others, but compared to these they were minor players.

These three – Tom in particular – made my life a daily misery.

My lack of athletic inclination, or ability, was made the basis for the fact that I was a form of life below the slime at the edge of the pond.

My interest in things not physical made me the punch line of muttered jokes and snide asides.

And for four years I lived at the bottom of the asshole’s totem pole.

When I replay this set of scenes from the movie of my life I wonder how I got through it.

When I hear about bullying I always think I understand what the victims of that newly discovered phenomenon are talking about.

And I pity them for not having had to hear the words “Annie died”.