Tuesday, September 30, 2014

See ya September!

The most hectic month of the year for us – aside from December, June, July, April, November, February, May, October, January, March, and August – is now coming to a close.  The end of summer beach holiday, back-to-school, birthday bashes, and football.  A lot packed in to those thirty days, and, as usual, it flies by in a blur.

’Twas a good month here at the Hopper house.  The girls seemed satisfied with their parties and presents.  The bank wasn’t busted.  I have three new books – plus 28 old ones recently resurfaced – to read in the upcoming weeks.  I’m spiritually renewed (that’s the promised future post I keep, er, promising).  I’m healthy and have even lost a few pounds.  Work is bustling, and the demand for me is there, so all is well in the world, for now.

October … I have a wedding to attend.  I also want to delve deeper into my physics, as I mentioned in an earlier post.  Continue along the spiritual and better health paths I’ve started to carve out.  And begin some nifty Halloween reading, sometime, say, around the 24th or so.

So, in the spirit of a book review, let me give you my assessment of September 2014 –

Grade: A-minus.

Don't Be Stupid

Rules for a trouble-free life:

1) Stay away from stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things.


2) Don’t do anything stupid yourself. 

(Corollary 1: Alcohol makes you stupid.)

(Corollary 2, for the religious-minded: So does sin.)

The older I get, the more I obey these two rules.  When I was a teen, I was very, very, very stupid.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Physics on the Brain

Every couple of years the Physics bug bites me.  I loved the science as a kid, I wolfed down SF paperbacks – especially Asimov’s – like they were going outta style, I even majored in it in college (only for four semesters, about 32 or 36 credits if I recall correctly).  I enjoy all aspects of it, from quantum mechanics to astrophysics, to Einstein’s relativity to nuts-n-bolts stuff like the Periodic Table, the electromagnetic spectrum, and especially all those hieroglyphic equations.  Only thing that I don’t particularly dig is the electricity / electronics aspect of it.  I can barely hang a picture on a wall and they wanted me to design and build circuits in Electronics 102.  Yeesh.

Well, over the past few weeks I’ve become re-interested in the field.  Reading articles online, skimming library shelves, stuff like that.  Borrowed Asimov’s Atom, read it in six days, currently reading through his three-volume Understanding Physics tome.  Good times.

This past weekend I felt prodded to go through the books in the basement near the writing desk.  I have six large boxes of books, grouped roughly by subject, and ruffled through the “science” box.  Turns out I have 28 books on physics.  Light, almost fluffy stuff written for those who need a fainting couch when they see a plus sign, to dense, meaty treatises such as one written by Einstein himself.  Most fall in the middle.  Here’s a list, more for myself than you I suppose, of what I found and what I plan on re-reading and studying over the next few months:

My Physics 101 textbook

My Introduction to Modern Physics textbook

Basic Physics: A Self-Teaching Guide by Karl Kuhn

Relativity by Einstein

A 1940s textbook on Relativity Theory

Newton’s Principia

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene

Beyond Einstein by Michio Kaku

The First Three Minutes and Dreams of a Final Theory by Stephen Weinberg

The Dreaming Universe by Fred Alan Wolf

The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Fritjof Capra

The Story of Physics by Lloyd Motz

In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat and In Search of Superstrings by John Gribben

Cycles of Time by Roger Penrose

How to Build a Time Machine and Are We Alone? by Paul Davies

Black Holes by Clifford Pickover

Quantum Reality by Nick Herbert

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson (a biography)

Einstein’s Universe by Nigel Calder

Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything by F. Peat

The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot

The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch

The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss

and, of course,

The Wonders of Physics (though that’s a library book)

So I’m thinking if I can get through all these in six months, I’ll either be sick to death of physics or ready to do the Big Man on Campus thing at my local community college ...


Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
running down upon the beard,
upon the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life for evermore.

- Psalm 133, RSV

A nice, short, charming and refreshing simple little hymn to simple brotherly fraternity, something of which is lacking within our culture – indeed, something of which it utterly cannot comprehend. 

Again, nice.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Little One!

She’s ten years old today!  TEN!!  Double-digits!!!  Where, O where does the time go?

Ten years ago today I became a father.  6:12 pm to be precise.  It was a cool, rainy day, a Tuesday if I remember correctly.  The first child for me and my wife, both of us in our 30s by then, most of our friends already with children at this point.  It was an exciting day, and my wife, in the thrall of induced childbirth, didn’t beat me up too bad.  Plus we had the best doctor in the state of New Jersey, so though there were a couple of jittery moments here and there (trouble with the wife’s epidural, the baby not getting enough O2 at one point), I had no doubts that we would have a healthy, wonderful child.

And we do!

She is awesome, a perfect combination of my wife’s best qualities with mine.  I love pal’ing around with her, reading side by side, watching weird spooky things on teevee together, talking about goofy stuff on long car rides.  She is my inspiration, and I fell in love with her the first time I held her, 3,650 days ago.

Happy 10th Birthday Little One!

Then (at seven months):

And now (apple picking today):

Friday, September 26, 2014


How dependent we are on technology! 

Either some dude hit a telephone pole or there was a brushfire a block away from my company’s building (or both, reports were sketchy and varied).  Happened a little after 2:30 today.  An ominous, omnipresent sputter belched from every vent in the place, and, with a sound like a cross between an M80 attached to a silencer and a 1940s vacuum cleaner rattling death knell – no power.

Oh, the emergency generator kicked in.  So half the place had light.

But not my office.  In fact, if it wasn’t for a ceiling window twenty-feet away, I’d be utter darkness.

Computer worked, after rebooting and cycling through all that nonsense, wrestling to retrieve open files in various stages of Save.  But no internet.  And because no internet, none of the various half-dozen pieces of software I deal with dozens of times a day to do my job.

I had a new hire in the building filling out start-up forms.  So I went downstairs and sat with him near some bright windows.  Did the interview and orientation and all that fun stuff, but couldn’t finish the on-boarding process (those aforementioned internet software thingies).  That’ll have to be one more thing for me to do Monday.  Plus, what a fine introduction of our company to this eager young man.  I made sure to work in the downed telephone pole and brush fire several times in our conversation.

So I’m writing this here at work (to be printed out and posted later) because there is really nothing else I can do, until we get lights and connectivity back.  Maybe I’ll head out early.  It’s Little One’s birthday weekend celebration.  My wife is taking her and her friends out to Shake Shack and a movie (Dolphin Tale Two), along with Patch, so I’ll have the evening to myself.  Might hit B&N.  Might just go home and read, enjoying the blissful silence. 

In any event, technological breakdown just extended my weekend by 90 minutes or so.  Unfortunately, that’s on my dime.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Planet of the Apes

Well, the universe aligned today and I was able to take a mental health day from work guilt-free to watch the little ones, off from school due to the holiday.  So what’d we do?

Watched Charlton Heston is the 1968 classic The Planet of the Apes.

Best reaction:

from Patch, just-turned-six.

(If you can’t make it out, her note says, “this Movie has lots of vilins”)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

God Give Us Men

By Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881) God, give us men

A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land, and waiting
Justice sleeps. 

Experiment: This Tuesday, November 4, print out this poem, stand outside facing east (where the sun rises, i.e., hope – not hopey-changey hope, but real hope), recite three times, striking your breast between recitals, then hang your head low for a moment of silence, and return inside.

We’ll see what the electorate gives us in six weeks.

It's Still a Planet in My House

Perhaps Santa will bring me this so I can bring it to the masses:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Shocking and Shameful Reality

“Abortion will remain legal until Catholic Democrats come to love the unborn more than they hate the GOP.”

– shockingly true observation from an anonymous commentator on a Catholic forum I periodically peruse

Note: I do regretfully acknowledge that an ever-growing percentage of the above mentioned GOP pays lip service to pro-life voters the 2-3 months before the first Tuesday every November.  That acknowledged, the quoted prior statement still carries a greater degree of shame.

Shut Not Your Doors

SHUT not your doors to me, proud libraries,  

For that which was lacking on all your well-fill’d shelves, yet needed most, I bring;  

Forth from the army, the war emerging – a book I have made,  

The words of my book nothing – the drift of it everything;

A book separate, not link’d with the rest, nor felt by the intellect,

But you, ye untold latencies, will thrill to every page;  

Through Space and Time fused in a chant, and the flowing, eternal Identity,  

To Nature, encompassing these, encompassing God – to the joyous, electric All,  

To the sense of Death – and accepting, exulting in Death, in its turn, the same as life,  

The entrance of Man I sing.

Posted without comment, save one:


(Note: Need to read more Whitman, more often.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Strange Dreams

Little One was up every 90 minutes last night with coughing fits.  As a result, so was I, even though I was sleeping on the living room couch (planned on getting up at 6 am for a brisk walk).  Every time I would doze back off, I would have weird, sporadic, wildly unrelated dreams segue-ing into one another.

We tend to forget most of our dreams by the time we’re out of the shower.  I’m no exception.  But I want to set down in the record some of these unusual, vivid items, since I don’t recall ever dreaming about them before:

1. I had an incredible skill as a tightrope artist, and decided to chuck it all and make a living at it.  Over the crowded streets of some sweltering Asian city, over canals of brown water, I strung my wire and began my barefoot balanced strolls.  The unexpected ease of it was quite pleasant, I must say.  Like a dream where you can fly.

2. Me and some stranger found ourselves in front of a plaque, embedded in the earth, extolling the virtues of a great Buddhist saint many centuries ago.  We argued about the historical figure but soon realized we were actually in agreement in admiration of him.  Then a turn for the weird – a stack of coffins lay against a stone wall beyond the plaque, and I crawled into one and decided to make it my home.  But when I pulled the cover closed, intense claustrophobia washed over me –

(cough, cough – Little One)

3. Aboard an abandoned ocean liner – abandoned except for some partyin’ twentysomethings straight out of an iPhone commercial.  We were all hanging about a pool filled with water, but the tiles and concrete showed signs of crusty wear, like it had rested on the bottom of the ocean for a month and was just raised.  They were drinking all the latest hip and trendy alcoholic drinks, but I kept getting more and more nervous that something bad was going to happen.  A feeling of dread overwhelmed me.  Then, I ran out on to the deck, climbed up on to some railed passageways, one beat ahead of general panic.  Was it the Titanic?  Was it Spielberg’s War of the Worlds?  Suddenly –

(cough, cough).

Ah, my sick Little One.  Saved me from my strange dreams.  How can I comfort you today!

(Though I wouldn’t mind another tightrope dream …)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Monsterfest 2014

Got off to a lame start this afternoon.

Every September-October I like to DVR some age-appropriate spooky stuff to watch with the little ones.  And – to be honest – teevee has been failing me somewhat of late.  Only thing I’ve recorded since mid-summer has been Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman and The Planet of the Apes.  That’s it, and that’s what’s called slim pickin’s. 

So we watched 1943’s Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman, and it was even more mediocre than I remembered from when I was a kid.  Yeah, the girls like it, sorta.  Not as scary as a Vincent Price vehicle, but it surprisingly held their interest for such a boring flick.

Apes is not really spooky / scary; it kinda falls in the rich “classic Sci-Fi” vein I want to mine with my children.  Stuff I enjoyed as a youngling, that they might appreciate.  So we’ll get to that one of these days.  The wife is insisting Patch won’t be able to handle it as a six-year-old, but I think she could.  (Note: she’s been sleeping through the night without them nightmares for two or three weeks now.)

Little One herself (turning 10 in a week) has expressed interest in Hitchcock’s The Birds.  The movie came up in a show we were watching earlier today, and I happen to have it as part of a Hitchcock collection I received as a birthday gift one year.  I might just allow her to see that with me.  Definitely off-limits for Patch, but Birds might be a worthy Monsterfest 2014 headliner for this year.

Dunno what else to see with them.  Since TCM seems classic-horror-adverse of late, might have to rely on oldies-but-goodies at one of the local libraries.  I’ll have to see.  Maybe research some more Vincent Price online to see what flicks of his we haven’t seen yet (and we’ve seen about half-dozen).

And as far as Frankenstein vs. the Wolfman goes, Bela Lugosi’s monster was a far, far cry from Karloff’s classic portrayal (short, fat, and myopic vs. tall, scary, and menacing) and what the heck was with that musical number in the middle of the flick???

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Physics is Sacramental

“A sacrament in the Catholic Church is an outward sign that points to something more.  These signs of grace connect us with divine life.”  (Page 26, You Are Loved, by Father Cedric Pisegna.)

I began my study of physics as a ten or eleven year old boy because it was cool. 

I continued as a twenty-something in college because it seemed the best way to “fisk” the universe.  Plus, it was still cool.

I return to physics now because it is, to me, a lower-case s sacrament.

(And it’s still cool …)

Birthday Book Bash

Well, not exactly a bash in the classic definition of the term.  I got three books this year, but they look like a trio of real good ones.

The main gift, from my wife, was G. H. Hardy’s A Mathematician’s Apology, the classic math tome published by a classic mathematician, written about 75 years ago.  Don’t know much about it save that it is a must-read for those In The Know, and that Hardy himself was a (typical?) math weirdo.  If “weirdo” is a little harsh, then how about this: Hardy sounds like, from everything I’ve read about him, to be about a 9 out of 10 on the Sheldon Cooper scale.

That’s the book I’m going to smuggle in to my sister-in-law’s wedding in three weeks.  (Disclaimer: While I can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t stand weddings – I have a fundamental personality flaw in the inability to mingle – I wish everyone involved in said weddings all the blessings and happiness they need and more.)  I will find a quiet, out-of-the way nook, and dissolve myself into Hardy’s hearty prose.

The book the little ones gave me is this one:

Think they’re trying to subtly tell me something?  But I know they have boundless love for me because I’ve told them about Gaffigan, how me and their mother caught his act a few years back and it was utterly hilarious, and how I said offhand I’d love to read it as we passed it by as it sat on a display table at B&N.  Read the first two pages before bed on Wednesday and laughed out loud twice.

The third book will remain a mystery for now, because it is part of a post I am working on for the near future …

Good reading!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Best Work Day Ever

Happened about a year ago.  Out of the blue, my manager stands up in front of all of us in the office and says, “I need you all to email me each three things that would make your job easier.”



That had never happened to me before.  In 30+ years of working, no one had ever come to me, on their own initiative, without prompting, asking me how they can help or what they can do to make my job easier. So, pleasantly surprised, I composed an email in under five minutes of three nagging never-ending problems I had to deal with on a regular basis.

And you know what?

By the end of the week, two of them were resolved.  One was a computer issue, one a procedural issue.  (And no, I didn’t call for Fatty Fat Fat’s termination as one of my three items.)  The third was, well, asking to revise an incredibly complex and divisive pay plan issue for certain high earners that the company was aware of but that affected bottom line.  Over the next couple of months they considered options, but nothing could make everyone happy.  A year later, though, I no longer have to deal with the time-consuming, lose-lose issue, as my boss now does the calculations in consultation with the owners.

As I reflect back, I think the “name-three-things-that-can-make-your-job-better” should be an annual thing in Business America.  Or better yet, a quarterly activity.  Unlike the complex pay plan for high earners here at my job, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Best. Work. Day. Ever.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Y No Posts?

Ay caramba!  Cuz I’ve been busy!  It’s the Hopper family annual birthday week!

Seriously, it’s been nonstop party and party-related activities and action since Saturday.  Cleaning the house, inside and outside, top to bottom.  Family and family friends outdoor bash on Sunday.  Patch’s school friends party at Bounce U on Monday.  Patch’s family party (that’s me, the Mrs, and Little One) on Tuesday.  My birthday party on Wednesday.  Mix in two soccer practices, three mission retreats at my Church, and a whole slew of end-of-month accounting tasks at work (where I’ve been going in an hour earlier each day), you have a very, very, very busy blog host.  Also managed to fit a trip to the Confessional in there somewhere.

But – lots of fodder for near-future posts.  Notes and observations of my first mission / retreat in over ten years.  My birthday book score.  Random other thoughts about the public events of the day.  Time to saddle up and get back on the horse.

So, see ya tomorrow!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Generals ...

All along, the problem with the army had been the generals.  It’s sometimes difficult to remember them all.  McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, McDowell, Smith, even Meade – and dozens more with lesser responsibility – all had shied away when confronted with the test of fire.  As a result, tens of thousands died needlessly.”

- If not necessarily the main thrust of the historical novel, at least the the underlying spirit of Grant’s War by Ted Jones.  (Quote from page 284 of my hardcover edition.)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Soldier of Sidon

© 2006 by Gene Wolfe

Latro – or is it Lewqys? or Lucius? – lives his life in limbo.  Upon waking every morning he finds he has absolutely no memory of what came before.  The only object that gives him a link to a past existence, for the faces he sees he must relearn day after day, is a scroll labeled READ THIS he finds always at his side, which holds an unfailing imperative to record the day’s events before sleep.  And how even does one view “a life” when one never has that essential part of one’s mind, memory?

Our flawed hero does have an natural affinity with the sword.  And a group of companions who know him, his name, his past as a mercenary.  Some even care for him: the captain of the vessel he sails upon, a burly fellow name of Muslak, and a woman, his “wife” as she claims, Myt-ser’eu, a native of the exotic land Latro finds himself in every morning, Kemet.

Kemet is the name Egypt knew itself in antiquity.  The land of countless gods and goddesses, of temples and pyramids and obelisks, of crocodiles, panthers and dreaded “water horses.”  Desert, but not quite the desert we think of when we think of Egypt today; no, it is often a lush garden paradise of unspeakable beauty, at least the miles-wide strip of land girdling the majestic color-changing waters of the great Nile, running up and down Kemet like a spine.

Muslak’s boat is pressed into service by the local autarch to seek what lies south of the southernmost boundaries of the kingdom, where the Nile snakes down into the more desolate regions of sub-Saharan Africa: the mythical lands of Punt and Kush.  On board is a whole host of characters of shifting allegiances and motivations: a wizard, a woman made of wax, a young monk with shaven head, an older aristocrat, a Greek merchant (a “Hellene”), Latro’s own sneaking snakelike slave, and a handful of Persian and Egyptian soldiers, ostensibly under our hero’s command, uneasily sharing close quarters together.  Due to Latro’s unfortunate disability, we never know who is friend or who is foe from day to day to day.  Nor do we know, for certain, the true purpose of the voyage – to find legendary gold mines, or a fables lost temple of the last god, or – ?

Even more interesting, Latro has another talent: an ability that counters his disability (or perhaps, entirely the result of it), one he slowly comes to understand: He can see things that others can’t.  Things such as the gods themselves.  Their familiars, their shape-shifting animal forms.  And he can speak, converse, barter and argue with them.  And if not due to his broken memory, perhaps this “sight” was brought on by a near-death experience, his life was weighed in the scales of the courtroom of the hereafter, the forty-two gods of judgment? For though the gods guide him (but to whose aims?), his human mind often betrays him.

A very entertaining read, quick and absorbing, and I intend to make my way through Wolfe’s two earlier books featuring Latro.  I must confess to wearying of the repetitive amnesia plot contrivance about two-thirds of the way through, especially since I felt it weakened considerably the heavy-duty action that occurs at that point.  But this was easily overshadowed by experiencing the spiritual side of Egypt come-to-life – fascinating, fantastical, unnerving and exciting all at once.  Many of the mysteries are not revealed at novel’s end, though Wolfe does leave the possibility of a fourth Latro novel a better than good bet.

Grade: A-minus / B-plus.

Thursday, September 11, 2014



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Laying Down the Law

For the little ones on school nights this year:

The Twelve Steps of the School Year

At 6 pm when we walk through the door:

1. Put lunchboxes on the counter for inspection
2. Put homework folders on the dining room table for inspection
3. Put backpacks, shoes, jackets away
4. Shower while Dad/Mom inspect lunchbox and homework folders
5. Finish any unfinished homework
6. Read or study
7. No TV
8. No snacks
9. Set the table
10. Clean the table
11. Brush, floss, rinse
12. Lights out at 8 pm



Own it baby!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bottle of Body Wash

When I was a kid, I remember one of my dad’s pet peeves.  Boy, do I remember it.  The tube of toothpaste.  Always had to squeeze from the end up to the opening.  Always.  That was the rule.  In fact, we even had some plastic doohickey thingie that helped roll up the tube of toothpaste from the end up to the opening.

Lord help us if we forgot to squeeze from the end up to the opening.

Me and my brother, two years younger, both of us in single digits of age, well, let me just say we’d remember my father’s rule for about five minutes after he would sit us down and lecture us on it.  Five minutes, and then it would be forgotten.  Completely.  Until he’d lecture us again the next day, or a few days later when he got around to it.  Again and again, sometimes in frustration, sometimes keeping his annoyance in check.

It was his pet peeve.  We didn’t purposefully squeeze from wherever we grabbed the tube.  It just happened.  We were kids.  Not even ten.  And as pre-tweens, we had no real memory retention for those things adults held in importance.

Flash forward forty years.

I am in the shower, rushing to get out of the house to get to work.  I grab the bottle of body wash – and it’s empty.

Oh, there might be a smidgen left at the bottom.  But since it was sitting right-side up (with the cap open, mind you), it will take five minutes for whatever body wash coagulated on the bottom syruply make its way to the bottle opening.  Maybe four minutes if I slam it against the tiles upside down a hundred times.

This is my fatherly pet peeve.

When you use something up in the shower, let an adult know.  And when you are done using the body wash (or shampoo, or conditioner), close the cap securely and put it back upside down.

Is that so much to ask?

I have myself lectured my two girls on this on more than one occasion.  More than two, even.  Possibly a half-dozen or more times.  And they retain it while I am lecturing them, and then, five minutes later I am sure, they completely forget Dad’s Rule of the Body Wash Bottle.

Just like I forget my Dad’s Rule of the Tube of Toothpaste.

And thus goeth the cycle of life …

Monday, September 8, 2014

Halloween Reading

Okay, September’s over a week old and we’ve had some of the hottest summer temps this year.  The humidity has bullied away that little crisp nip in the air that rekindles my annual love affair with autumn.  Perhaps the crisp will be here next week when the girls and I have our birthday parties.  Regardless of the unseasonability of the season, I am musing on what will be my Great Halloween Reading this year.

Cool October always brings the urge in me to read something scary, something eerie, something odd and unnerving.  In the past I’ve read short stories and novellas by Poe.  I’ve read The Haunting of Hill House, The Amityville Horror, Magic, and A Voyage to Arcturus.  I’ve read “nonfiction” on “monsters,” both historical and legendary.  Coming from a heavy background in horror literature reading I don’t necessarily want to revisit, it is a fun way of connecting with both my past and the current seasonal atmosphere.

So – what to read this Halloween, a scant six weeks away?

I’ve narrowed it down to two options, two books long sitting on the shelf awaiting (re)reading. 

A) The Quest for Cthulhu, an anthology of Lovecraftian short stories by August Derleth

I bought a huge omnibus of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu” tales at the beginning of the year and spent two whole months slogging through it.  Some good, some eh, but it was the Mythos as opposed to the mechanics, the substance over the style, that interested me in those 75-year old tales of long-sleeping evil in the deadwoods of Massachusetts, the fang-shaped glaciers of Antarctica, the hot swampy lost islands out at sea.  Derleth, a combination Lovecraft contemporary and groupie, continued the mythology after H.P.’s untimely death, and I have a 400-page omnibus of his stories long-sleeping on my bookshelf to read.


B) Weaveworld, a fantasy/horror novel by Clive Barker.

I read this book – quite a riveting read it was! – overlooking the barren October / November moonscapes of the three acres of my parents’ weekend home outside of Lake George, NY, in 1988.  Spooky, weird, pseudo-occultish, it left me feeling as if I was reading something forbidden.  Yet what a climactic ending!  Always love when the baddies get their comeuppance via the clever intelligence of the heroes, rather than via blunt brute force.  And if I chose this to re-read, it would tie in nicely (Barker being a modern horror writer) with my plan to read Stephen King’s 11/22/63 this November.

Which one to read?  Hmm?

Might come down to a coin toss, or a simple inexplicable nudge for one over the other …

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Seeking a Strategy, Part II

Just a quote, without commentary:

An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.”

- Alexander the Great (disputed).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Equation of the Day

Brutal heat and humidity


Soccer all morning


Painting dining room all afternoon (and evening)


Nagging, splitting, throbbing headache

= / =

Blog post of note.

But you are on my mind …

Friday, September 5, 2014

Coming Soon to a Town Near You

... maybe even your own!

And sooner than you think!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers

Uh, not really a big fan of hers.  Some things she said made me laugh.  Some things not so much so.  Some of her social positions turned me off, and I don’t have a fashion bone in my body, so I can’t speak to all that red carpet and fashion police stuff.  But her death today was very tragic.  81 is still kinda young, especially when you have the energy of someone thirty or forty years younger.

But my wife is a huge fan.  Huuuuuuuge.  Met and chatted with Joan once on the streets of New York.  Watched all her shows religiously, the reality shows, the E! shows, the QVC stuff.  My wife’s fantasy job – which she’d readily admit to – would be Joan’s personal assistant.  A strong second-place would be national VP of sales for her jewelry line.

Anyway, via my wife, I did see and hear a lot of her and I appreciated her guts.  A very, very, very rare public figue it is indeed, today, not to be intimidated by political correctness.  Her humor was an acquired taste, and (at least to me) failed more than it scored.  But when she did say something funny, often about someone in the public eye we’re not allowed to poke fun at, it was hilarious.  I also read somewhere that one recent year she donated six times more to stupid party candidates than evil party candidates, so that’s something.  But even more noteworthy was her business / work ethic – something tremendous and exceptional and should be taught to our children.  My wife plans on doing so.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Heartfelt Plea

In 1752, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Frederick Worth Spendley, an accountant for the import-export firm of Chadwicke-Fortwright out of Liverpool, England, was killed in the port city of Kingston, Jamaica.  His main duty was overseeing Caribbean imports, mostly in nearby Wirral, but on occasion he would travel abroad to untangle and unwind the company’s far-reaching affairs.  In this instance, he was 4,500 miles away from his family and his home on an eight-month tour of duty to negotiate a rum (what else?) importing contract with one of the island’s largest brewers.  He could expect to have four month’s paid leave upon returning to his native country.

Unfortunately, that was not to pass. 

On the night of May 7, three sails under the command of the notorious brigand Charles Lowe (“Black-hearted Charlie”) drifted silently into Kingston Bay.  Over fifty of Charlie’s marauders fell upon the docks in the dark with money, murder, and mayhem on their minds.  Nearly half would fall, thanks to a quick response from the local guardhouse.  But not before the HMS Silverrod was ransacked, put to the flame, and sunk.  My great-great-great-great-great grandfather was among the lost.

Now, as a descendent of a victim of a pirate attack, I demand that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders change their insensitive, hurtful names!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

For Those Seeking a Strategy ...

A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

- General George S. Patton, Jr.

Just something someone should whisper in the ear of our Commander-in-Chief regarding a certain cancer spreading in the Middle East.

Monday, September 1, 2014