This time when she woke up, she was not quite sure where she was, where she had been, nor from where she was coming. There is that moment of acclimation which gives the sleeper just enough time to come back, to reiterate, to reshuffle the confusion and try to make sense of it all. Most of the pieces fall together, but some do not. When her thoughts crystallized and finally became clear, she realized that she had been away again. It had happened for the third time that day, this last week with an increased frequency that was worrying her. Faster and faster like a blur appearing, that is what it seemed like. A little bit like dying a little again, and then at the very last minute being allowed to come back again. She found it confusing and did not dare tell anyone else about it. Just look at where she was at the moment! The last time she had confided this secret information, they just laughed and laughed and finally locked her up. At least they "tried" to lock her up. Surely it is a crazy world in which we live, but it was never meant to be like this, she thought and could not understand. The truth of the matter was that these excursions into the unknown did not happen during her sleep, that is not at night while she was lying in bed in deep slumber. No, they occurred completely randomly during the day, and only when it was light. Not even shadows were allowed. At the breakfast table, walking to school, running on the playground, sitting in front of the television, away from the shadows of the trees, not behind the lamp where there was no light. Whatever, so this is how it happened, she would think. Could not put it into words. Her physical body would just continue like an automated being while her mind went off elsewhere, some other doorway unseen but off to the side. The split was painless, like two clouds of nothingness blowing apart by a gentle breeze which forked. Time branched and she went this way while her body went that way. Out of the body to who knows where. This was not the usual day-dreaming episodes which are so typical of a young child of her age, bored in the classroom or just fantasizing games. It was something more serious, something much more magnificent than she could possibly explain. An amazing event, perhaps even a miracle. Often during the first few moments after the gentle split, there was a soft flash of electricity or the sound of static, like dry paper crackling. These were the warning signs, signals which she knew and she was always prepared to accept. Acceptance was the key, pure acceptance and surrender. Off she went, first to the side, then up high and then whisked away for good. Timelessness caught in the air, frozen ice cubes left behind on the table next to her chair. The chair creaked as that excess weight was lifted and the body stayed seated there. During the initial flight, she was always fully conscious, but when it was all over there was no recall at all. Just the feeling, an acute awareness of what had happened, but clearer than any physical thought could re-enact. At least not in the logical way where things make sense, and that is what got her locked up in the first place. They would never understand. And that was where she was now, the locked place of the now. She has been away again, so they were in the end unable to lock her up. Not even locked up in her body. Time crackled and then the flash and then the cycle continued. This time she decided that she would not come back. Not time to die but to live on and on. Not bad for an eight year old girl they would have to admit was right.
There are a number of important events in your life for which you might feel you are well prepared. Getting married, the births of your children, the deaths of loved ones, and so forth. Not to mention a few. Yet when a given event actually occurs, especially death, it is somewhat or even totally different than what you had always expected it to be like. No matter how mentally prepared you thought you might have been, the coming together of the random moments leading up to and coalescing into this one grand moment is an unexpected twist of fate that can slap you hard in your face. Before you realize it, just after that hard smack and the sound which disappears like a lost echo, it is all over with again. Again and again. You are expected to continue and that is what you do. Similar to beads on a broken chain which fall and shatter on the hard stone floor, scattering all over the place never to be found again. Just let the pieces and fragments lie where they may have ended up, shut the door behind you and continue on to the next leg of your journey to who knows where.
"Peace of mind and soul is never without its common sacrifices, for we are the ones who have been chosen to carry on as if nothing happened." - Sunday's late evening meditation.
This morning I was supposed to give an important presentation. However, when I woke up, I realized that for some reason I had completely forgotten about it. Being totally unprepared, it was still necessary for me to accommodate the roomful of spectators I had invited, many of whom had traveled from afar in order to attend my important (perhaps even historical) speech. I was led down the hall by someone who was carrying the agenda rolled up in his fist, until I stood in front of the door with beads of sweat on my forehand. From behind the door, I could hear the buzz of heated conversations echoing inside. All of these educated philosopher-poets who were expectantly awaiting my many words of wisdom and various challenging insights into how it really was or was meant to be. For the life of me, I could not remember what the title of my presentation was nor what it was supposed to be about. No need to worry? I could admit that I had forgotten and was therefore ill-prepared, making a big joke about it before continuing on. Or I could also randomly select some so-called interesting topic as if it somehow was related to the original of which I was unaware. What would be the chances that the two were even remotely related? Or I could just admit the truth seriously, shake my shoulders and run away. Or just faint and hope it all went away. There was no way that I would let them down, my dedicated companions and followers. They were counting on me. I was pretty darn nervous but knew that the show would begin shortly. It would have to be an ad hoc presentation, but I felt confident that I could manage. At least I could always (hopefully) make myself wake up if anything went wrong.
Here are a three things to think about and consider seriously at least once a day:
What never ceases to amaze me is the fact that despite the human need for order most everything in nature is completely random. You might even call this a kind of dilemma. At the microscopic level with the zillions of atoms and molecules vibrating around endlessly up to the scale of light-years where zillions of stars and galaxies out there are twirling and expanding like there was nothing to stop them from acting so crazily. As if somehow there has to be some kind of order where it is not nor has never been meant to be. Thoughts are like that also. At the microscopic dimension inside of the brain, pseudo-thoughts and ideas are popping up all the time, like a bubbling foam on the surface of the subconscious sea where vast expanses of water meet the bluish skies of consciousness. Purely random under no control. In desperation we collect and analyze, trying to sketch some facsimile of sanity when it is not there. Who are we kidding? Multiply this attempt by the millions of individuals that interact and communicate, the endless permutations and variegated interweaving of experience, and it is a wonder that humanity is even functioning at all. Wars come and go to set things straight. For a moment. Then God decides to slap us around but we never wake up. Just for a moment. Between sleep and the wakened state. Bubbles and foam and ripples which spread out along the surface for our late night entertainment. The ripples are spreading, so watch out before they overcome you.
There is a story of a religious teacher who used to talk every morning to his disciples. One morning he got on the platform and was just about to begin when a little bird came and sat on the window sill and began to sing, and sang away with full heart. Then it stopped and flew away and the teacher said, "The sermon for this morning is over".
- Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known (Chapter XI: To look and to listen).
There are monkeys all over the place, and they are making a bunch of noise. Quite the party-makers they are. Have a look yourself and tell me what you think. Isn't it ironic how it is we who are behind the bars but do not realize it? The very first time that you told me about it, I refused to believe it. An emphatic no with my head shaking back and forth. The monkeys stopped for a second and watched me, imitating me with the same motion of their heads and a cackling sound to match. Just didn't make sense at all, and that was the period of my life when making sense of it all was the name of the game. A long period of denial (those monkeys are in the cage not us), followed by anger (those dirty bastard monkeys), followed by slow acceptance (yes but I guess it could possibly be true), and at last complete surrender (those monkeys are such beautiful creatures). You see, we have been torturing those innocent creatures for much too long and we must be taught a lesson. That is why you and I now find ourselves behind the bars. The law of retribution, no one will escape. Yes we are inside the cage, time to observe and learn from inferior beings with more soul-power than we can ever imagine. The bars are hard as steel and cold and there is nothing to do about it. Just sit back and wait for the next meal. You know, they are having a heck of a time, swinging and jumping and flying through the air never once colliding but instead slicing through upside-down water. Let's call it a day for now, sink back to where it is comfortable. Tomorrow is yet another day to watch all of the monkeys again and learn from them. Hopefully they will stop multiplying as quickly and stop growing before it is too late. What was it that you mentioned to me the other day? It was a deja vu within a deja vu. Yes, so you can remember the exact words? Alright, tell me them again and I shall gladly respond as spontaneously as I can. Go ahead and tell me. Pause. Pause and listen. Deja vu all over again.
My youngest boy Maarten decided to use the mini-tower of his computer as a type of ladder to climb on in order to reach some item of interest at the top of his bookshelf. My very first computer it was, so I am pretty sentimental about it. Darn it those kids these days, so careless and disrespectful of property. While it is an old 486 PC, it is still pretty nice for the millions of old-fashioned games on it. As he stepped on it, I guess he slipped and the cables and connectors on the back of the machine got pretty messed up. So I fixed it all by reattaching everything, but the hard disk was a goner. "Cannot find operating system." Well, that's all for now folks, all the games I had meticulously installed and tweaked over the years are gone in an instant.
No less than three times I woke up with an intense cold sweat in the middle of the night. Not your usual cold sweat, but I was "completely" drenched from head to toe, including my clothes and the sheets. Made my skin all clammy. Very strange experience and one which confuses you the moment you wake up (again) trying to figure things out. My pajama shirt felt like a cold dry rag, and not only did I have to put on a clean dry one, but I also had to walk around the house to try to shake off whatever demons had been haunting me in my sleep. Not true that night sweats only occur to aging women going through menopause, unless I am reliving a previous life as a female in some distant time and place. That could very well be. It is sometimes said that these intense sweating episodes could be related to the neurotransmitter called serotonin, either the release of too much, the inefficient re-uptake mechanisms or a combination of the two. Could even be triggered by an emotional imbalance rising in the depths of the dream world where things are often more real and less repressed than in the real world. Doesn't serotonin also have something to do with depression? That might be. I have not experienced this nocturnal sweating stuff for quite some time now. The last time I think was when I first met Thea and started living in Holland. Not the easiest of times. Back then weeks on end drenching my sleeping attire, the bed and my mind. Night after night. I wonder what causes it. When I wake up, I cannot for the life of me remember what I was dreaming. Something frightening? No I think not. Just an overly frustrating dream with some aggravating twist which I cannot control and have to learn to accept as if that were ever possible.
Sometimes it is better to look at things as if they were inside-out. Sometimes it is better to believe that things should have turned out the other way around but they did not. And other times it is better to stand motionless in awe of the becoming and the changes and the events which swing on by at the speed of light leaving you back there in the dust to figure it all out. Most of the time it really does not matter, because your perception of things and wishful thinking does not matter at all. Some of the so-called wise folks out there claim that it is better to forget about the past and to live in the now. I say that it is the next day that counts, and the next and the next and the next after that, the whole process of preparation means you cannot stand still in the now and remain worthy of your true purpose. Inside-out that is.
Walking along the endless hospital corridors, there was no end in sight. Where is it now? Where are we going? What will we see when we get there? As far as the eyes could see, the left and right sides kept converging along with the floor which just recently having been mopped and waxed shone like an elongated dagger at our feet, going off into infinity. This place was huge, like an enclosed city or something underground and very deep. An underground labyrinth. Half way to the center of this planet we call Earth, within the deep-set womb of our only mother, where silence was everything. Lots of doors on the right and just as many (if not exactly the same amount) on the left. A thin line of lights along the exact midpoint of the ceiling sliding past and behind our heads. Perpendicular to the point where the top of my head would have struck the surface had an earthquake caused it to drop down on me. The pointed end of these lights way off in the distance was blurred, but we knew it was out there somewhere. Somewhere and sometime. The further we walked the less familiar it all seemed, although because of the perfect symmetry of the situation nothing really changed visibly. Despite walking for who knows how long, the walls and the floor and the whole imaginary scene had not changed. Had not changed one tiny bit. We were frozen in time and though in constant motion also frozen at the spot where we had begun, or it seemed. We were in a hurry because it was nearly too late. The time was running out. Someone was dying and they had called us up early in the morning to come quickly. Come quickly, please hurry. There was barely enough time left to get out of bed, put on your clothes and dash to the place. How we had found it was not clear, but the energy pulled us to where we had to be. So we let this energy pull us down the endless corridors. They had told us that it would be all over in ten minutes, but certainly we had already been walking (been pulled) down that endless corridor for longer than that? Would we be too late or just in time? There was no definite answer to this except that we had to keep on going since we had gone too far now to turn back. No chance giving up now. Though the urge was certainly there, and this urge to quit was very powerful indeed, it would be senseless if we heeded to it. We would regret it for the rest of our lives, too painful a burden to carry. Imagine that we had taken the wrong turn and we would never arrive in time? We could run, but that would be inappropriate in such a surreal and peaceful surroundings. Too obvious, though no one was around. Not a soul in sight, only elongated and obtuse angles pulling at us, to where we should have been much earlier. Finally to the right, around the corner, leading to the next endless corridor, over there, the same picture, pulling at us to continue. Alright, we are almost there, almost.
Great news! We have found 1238 new jobs based on your job search agent criteria!I have signed up with a number of these so-called job search sites on the Internet, and this is taken from a typical email that I receive on a daily basis. The twenty or so wonderful services for which I have signed up include such notables as: Monsterboard, Dice, CareerBuilder, TelecomCareers, and so forth and so forth. Each day I receive a bunch of emails congratulating me on the thousand and one new possibilities that could and will change my life. For the last couple of months, I have been responding with enthusiastic grace to enumerable possibilities with zero result. Lots and lots of work researching the companies, composing true masterpieces of cover letters, adapting and updating my resume, etc. I feel like cussing and complaining and throwing my computer out the window, but I won't. At least not this week. You see, this week I will take a break from this insane and useless activity, for it is just too frustrating and not really an efficient way to spend my time and energy. Last week has not been that fun at all, and I need a break. In order to recollect myself and figure out a more effective approach to keeping my two feet firmly settled on our mother Earth, silent recovery and contemplation is a much better path to follow.
The coming week I will concentrate on four activities, asides the standard activities of being a father and husband. These are, in no particular order, the following: finish off my most recent Krishnamurti book, study JBuilder and improve my Java expertise, and become even more and more adept at Medieval Total War.
We are proud to present the search statistics for the Cyber-Gish Homepage. There were a grand total of 20 searches for the week ending 11/09/02.
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Thanks alot Atomz for a fine service which provides me with this interesting insight into the minds of those visitors searching for gold nuggets on my homepage. Hard to imagine, but it is true. Why cage?
Decided to do something really productive today, so I added a fancy menubar to my Cyber-Gish Homepage. If you look carefully you will see just under the header at the top of the page, a thin horizontal menu bar which is gray and extends across the width of the window. Run your cursor over the items and the "«" character will appear to the right of the selection. As if that were not fancy enough, if you scroll the page down, this horizontal bar floats along so that it stays at the top of the viewport. Pretty productive day, huh?
Check it out for your late evening entertainment and (optionally) tell me what you think about it. Does it actually work on your browser or is something going terribly wrong? Is the page refreshing as fast as it used to or do things seem like they have gotten slower? Can you read the text or is it too small? I would be curious to hear.
Like I said, I am NOT crazy. According to the experts, if you really think that you are crazy then you are NOT. This is because you have the mental capacity to make such a hypothesis, and therefore you are by definition of sound mind, eg. NOT crazy. However, if you do NOT think that you are crazy then you really are. Out of your mind that is (or is NOT). So what does that mean for me now?
This may sound pretty unusual, but tomorrow afternoon will be the very first funeral in my whole life that I have ever attended in person. Can you believe that? It will be a good old traditional Dutch funeral with black limousines, a mass with a sermon, some hand-shaking and all that kind of stuff. In fact, until a week ago I had never even seen a deceased person before. Seeing a loved one you have known up close and personal lying like that is no fun. Just a discarded life form which has become discolored and gone away, far far away. To think that I have been spared such a ceremony for more than forty-five years is hard to believe, but it is true. That's part of life you might say, but not yet part of mine. In the distant past when the opportunity had arisen, my parents chose to shelter me from the so-called psychological trauma and distress of having to witness such an event. A learning experience which has been missed? Part of growing up? With so much death and suffering in the world, it has finally caught up with me. It is my turn to be normal like all of the other survivors. I am not looking forward to tomorrow afternoon, but I will go through it anyway with a strong heart and determined outlook for the future.
One thing is certain. While there is life, while there is movement and feeling, you should appreciate it as much as possible, be thankful and make the best of it. Perhaps even treating life as if tomorrow it may be gone altogether, like a cloudy wisp in the sky that will be blown away before you realize it. Appreciate it while it is there, notice it while it is changing, and accept it when it is gone forever and forever. A wisp of a smile becomes no more, a something that misleads or deludes, an illusion outside of time.
"A monk set off on a long pilgrimage to find the Buddha. He devoted many years to his search until he finally reached the land where the Buddha was said to live. While crossing the river to this country, the monk looked around as the boatman rowed. He noticed something floating towards them. As it got closer, he realized that it was the corpse of a person. When it drifted so close that he could almost touch it, he suddenly recognized the dead body - it was his own! He lost all control and wailed at the sight of himself, still and lifeless, drifting along the river's currents. That moment was the beginning of his liberation."
Taken from Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors.
Everyone has heard of spring-cleaning (a thorough cleaning, especially of a residence when winter is over), but what about winter-cleaning? Well, that's exactly how I spent my time today. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but not for me. Just had an urge, and since I had been putting it all off for so long now that it was high time to do something about it at last. All that dust collecting all over the place. Cleaning is a kind of catharsis, a way of releasing the soul of its many past sins, and (supposedly) you feel pretty good afterward, kind of relieved they say. Most of the winter-cleaning time was spent dusting off my extensive collection of books and sopping off the many shelves in the attic room. So much dust has collected on the surface of my beloved books that I could not believe it. Fondling every single one of my cherished books (most of which I had read) was a special treat. With loving care and adoration I dusted each one individually before returning it to its place in alphabetical order from left to right. Each title brought back a different memory: vacation in Greece, meeting Thea for the first time, university days, working in the bookstore, preparing for exams, the birth of my children, etc. I was also a bit surprised how many books I have that I still have not read yet. Just think how much money I could have saved. I only read brand-new books which I purchase personally, as I have a phobic aversion to any second-hand books which have been handled and breathed on by other fellow human beings. The books have been placed back in an orderly fashion and aligned perfectly parallel along the outer edge of the shelf. Not pushed back slightly so that there is a elongated space of bare shelf running at one point five five centimeters like before, but rather right flush up to the edge and producing an interested and esoteric affect. Pretty neat. I used a long ruler and a magnifying glass to verify this. Within a plus minus tenth of a millimeter margin of error that is. So now the attic has become spotless, dust-free and disinfected for future habitation the rest of the winter. Not that by looking at it nor even inspecting it closely anyone would or could even notice, but it is the idea that counts. I can now breathe freely and feel good being surrounded with spic-and-span walls, floor and ceiling. What a relief.
|"Ik zie een poort wijd open staan|
waardoor het licht komt stromen,
een poort waar 'k vrijelijk in mag gaan
om vrede te bekomen."
|"I see a gate which is wide open|
through which the light is shining,
a gate I may enter freely
to receive lasting peace."
- Johannes de Heer (1866-1961), Zangbundel nr. 140
"You haven't got anything to do anyway..." I hate it when my wife tells me that for the hundredth time this week. Whenever she asks me to do yet another chore, and maybe I perhaps do not react super positively about it, volunteering to do it with pizazz, the comment above is her natural reaction. Just another way to make me feel worse, to jab at me so that I will be forced into the activity no matter how I might feel. No healthy man in his right mind likes to admit that he is unemployed (eg. useless), for our sense of masculinity is still strongly based on such things as working hard and bringing home the bacon. Know what I mean? So I have kindly requested that she not use this impolite phrase again, but it still nonetheless keeps slipping out of her to this very day. Is she doing it on purpose? I guess it's a woman's thing to say.
Alright, so I finally have gotten so overly fed up with those droves of spam emails the flood my in-box everyday that it is time to do something about them. After having read the article Spam-Proofing Your Website, I have taken some of their suggestions at heart and have begun to cloak all email addresses displayed on my homepage and blog. You see, there are millions of so-called spam harvesters crawling all over the Internet, consuming page after page and extracting all the discovered emails. To be used for junk email, those jerks. I am curious if I will now be getting less junk email (about 60 per day and growing).
// Try and spoof those nasty spambots!
document.write('<a href="' + 'ma' + 'ilto:k');
document.write('iffin' + '@' + 'cyber-gi');
document.write('sh.com' + '">' + 'kiffin (at) ');
document.write('cyber-gish' + '</a>');
And this is what all that mumbo-jumbo code (hopefully) looks like after it has been parsed by your internet browser and presented in readable form: [ ]
This is my very first state-of-the-art pretty-dang-advanced Java applet I have ever created in my whole life:
Just click anywhere within the empty white rectangle above to see what happens. Are you impressed or what? Not too bad for a middle-aged nerd who has nothing better to do at the moment than create pseudo computer art and fluff his feathers about it. Let's just say that I never cease to amaze myself. Some day they will have to lock me up in a cell full off random colors.
Sorry, but this will only work on Java-enabled browsers. Better luck next time, and in the meantime do us all a favor and upgrade your old-fashioned Internet browser please.
Alright so I decided to grow a ringbaard this time around. For those of you unfamiliar with the Dutch language, this can best be translated as a ring-beard. I am not quite sure what the proper English translation is. Everyone in the family thinks it looks terribly ugly, and they will not hesitate to remind me how awful it looks several times a day. Fine, they are entitled to their own beliefs, I can deal with that. As if so much coercion would change my mind. Sticks and stones may break my bones. Personally, I think it looks pretty cool. Really, really cool. The pseudo-chameleon affect of my visage makes me look more distinguished and assertive, smarter, as if I know what I am doing. Could it be that I prefer hiding behind a mask? A mask of facial hair growth and all that kind of stuff. At least that is my perception (not the others). You know, I think I will keep it. Not to bug the others, but because I like it. Mostly because it is time yet again to change my image. Am I trying to kid anyone but myself? I think not. Change is often a refreshing way to reinvigorate your urge to enjoy life again, pretend for a day that you are someone else.
Isn't it funny how it is our thoughts about thoughts which in the end create the world around us and how we experience it?
I am so very proud of my oldest son Lennart. Even though he is quickly turning into quite the hooligan, I think I will still keep him.
Actually there is a short story behind all of this. As is the case every weekend, Lennart got out of bed really late this morning. He walked around the house in slow motion like a zombie wearing his pyjamas, until around noon or even later. Nothing unusual about that, but you all know how it goes. Of course, as a proud father who expects so much from his oldest son, I kept complaining and bugging him to get dressed, to go and do something with his life, accusing him of being just another hooligan. "You look just like a hooligan," I kept telling him in an angry impatient tone of voice. Sorry for being such a boring and predictable father.
So rather than get all mad and cuss at me like I am sure many teenage sons his age do malisciously to their fathers these days, he just disappeared behind the computer (again). He felt inspired by my many words of wisdom, and with the help of the creative mind of his genius, which of course he inherited from me, he produced the wonderful piece of art shown above. An interesting way to express yourself I would have to say. Perhaps the computer is good for him in more ways than one.
I am so very impressed. Even if my son is turning into a regular hooligan.
Lately I have been dividing my time between four major activities (not counting the default father and husband roles): job hunting, learning Java, following a strict fitness program and playing Medieval Total War. Now to be perfectly honest with you, the last (gaming) activity has gotten me addicted completely. What an amazing game this is, very complicated with millions of statistics and rules to figure out. To think that here is this so-called grown man, and what is he doing with his life? You guessed it. No less than conquering Europe in the Middle Ages, pretending to be the ruler of the Almohads, a Muslim faction situated in Northern Africa and part of the Spanish Peninsula. I made the following screen-shot while in campaign mode in order to give you kind folks a better idea of my fantastic escapades and other digital adventures:
As you can see, I have successfully expanded my empire from a measly hodge-podge of ragged provinces starting in 1087 to an impressive collection of countries forking out thousands of florins every year. In addition, I have cleverly established a number of important trading routes around the Mediterranean which increases my annual revenue greatly. While I might not be the most powerful faction in terms of military might, I am by far the richest and most cherished by my citizens. In fact, I bask in the adoration of my subjects, and there is no one else who has such dedicated support from the populace. This is true entertainment at its very best, and this simple computer game offers me a pleasant escape from the less than optimal situation in which I now find myself. Even if it is some inanimate software program with pseudo-intelligence giving me the impression that I have traveled back in time in order to redeem myself. There is nothing wrong with that is there?
Just finished the latest novel by Michael Frayn called "Spies" and it was pretty darn good. I find the way that Mr. Frayn writes very refreshing, with an interesting mix of artistic prose balanced with a solid storyline which always keeps the reader on his toes. This book is about an older man who finally returns to the neighborhood of his youth, in England where he grew up during World War II, in order to deal with some obscure thoughts and feelings about a certain event he has been carrying with him his whole life. Seems he and his friend Keith have gotten a little carried away in playing the adventure where Keith's mother is a supposed German spy. Playful enough and well written through the eyes of an adult as seen through the eyes of a child, at least how the man remembers it within the limited perception of childhood memories. The way the story matures and the plot which is woven into the thread of the novel will keep you occupied. The unexpected ending makes the whole read worthwhile, and it will certainly keep you thinking about human ideals, the pains of war and the often forgotten personal stories of the true sufferers of that awful episode in European history. Yes, I recommend this book very very highly. Here is a quote to give you a better idea.
"I feel more strongly than ever the honour of my association with Keith. His family have taken on the heroic proportions of characters in a legend - noble father and traitorous mother playing the never-ending conflict between good and evil, between light and dark. Now Keith himself is charged by fate with taking his place beside them, upholding the honour of the one by punishing the dishonour of the other. And I have been granted a modest foothold of my own in the story, as the loyal squire and sword-bearer that a hero requires."
If I could hold on to just one thought
For long enough to know
Why my mind is moving so fast
And the conversation is slow.
Burn off all the fog
And let the sun through to the snow
Let me see your face again
Before I have to go
I have seen you in the movies
And those magazines at night
I saw you on the barstool when
You held that glass so tight.
And I saw you in my nightmares
But I'll see you in my dreams
And I might live a thousand years
Before I know what that means
Once there was a friend of mine
Who died a thousand deaths
His life was filled with parasites
And countless idle threats
He trusted in a woman
And on her he made his bets
Once there was a friend of mine
Who died a thousand deaths
One can easily imagine how disheartening it is to wake up in the early morning only to discover that there is blood inside of your mouth. That is exactly what happened to me this morning. I felt some slimy substance sliding around between the inside of my left cheek and my gums, and when I put the tip of my tongue in there, it was clearly the familiar taste of acrid and stale blood. When I spit out this substance, it was reddish in color and looked like pseudo-death. That is a shocking experience to say the least. When you get to be my age, you are constantly on the guard for anomalies, eg. bumps, itchy spots, cramps, headaches, minor heart fibrillations and other potential symptoms and warning signs of some terrible disease which could mean a premature death. How utterly unfair that would be when I still have so much to do in life! Don't want that to happen now, do we? Actually, this bloody episode of the mouth turns out not to be that bad at all, as it is a natural consequence of my night time chewing motions. For a couple of years now I have been grinding my teeth together and thereby chewing the inside of my left cheek, some dreams or whatever causing me to do this. The worse part is that once you start and a slight bump appears, the chances of chewing get even more. As if subconsciously by feeling this growing obstruction you are triggered by nature to bite at it even more. During the day I press my tongue against the long gash inside my mouth which never seems to heal. When I pry open my mouth and peer into the darkened depths to the left, I can see the whitish streak of what appears to be some kind of scar tissue building up. These are the results of grinding teeth at night who have their own lives to live, and there is no stopping them. Unless of course I think up something to stop all of this craziness. What could that be? Swabs of cotton in the side of my mouth, a metal plate affixed to my lower jaw, electrical shocks connected to the chewing motions to wake me up when it happens, shock treatment in general to my frontal lobes, adapting my diet and taking more vitamins, improving my mental frame of mind, adapting the direction I lie down in bed and its orientation to the earth's magnetic fields, removing and/or replacing something under my bed, what else? Actually it does not matter that much, and I do not know why I have spent so much energy detailing this trivial infraction to my nightly slumber which takes me away from all of this.
He regretted not having known about it earlier for it would have saved him much trouble and energy, making his life much easier than it had been. However, not until he had become older could he have known about it at all.
Not unless his mother had happened to have seen it, while giving him a bath as a baby, registering this unique object in her head, and remembering it for later to tell him when he was old enough to understand. Not what one could call a coincidence that the average mother would even notice. Nothing in comparison to the miracle child splashing water and giggling with untouched happiness. But this had never happened and unfortunately it was never meant to happen. His mother was not interested in seemingly trivial things like spots or beauty marks or other blemishes on his pristine body.
Strange how things turn out that way.
You see, his discovery was totally random and took place early one morning in the bathroom after having taken his daily shower. Seventy-four years and getting younger, he would tell everyone with a comical though somewhat cynical smirk on his face. He could have never seen it unless he had had the significant hair loss, the balding scalp to which until now he had never paid that much attention. As he bent down to apply the shaving cream to his face, the mark came to life in the random and unique way the light-rays from the row of lamps above fell upon the top of his scalp, scattered and reflected.
What is that?
Upon closer inspection and with the help of a second smaller mirror he could inspect it more closely. And what did he see? It was a small brown mole perfectly round and perfectly positioned at the top of his head. What was it doing there? And to think of the miracle of having this message from God positioned at the exact topmost point of his head pointing upwards and a perfectly round disc with a radius equal to one.
Upwards to heaven and a direct connection.
He decided to inspect the reality of the situation more closely, taking measurements, writing facts and values and correlations down on paper. And these were his conclusions. Yes, if he stood up straight, God's mole lay proudly at the topmost curvature, the very top, perpendicular and proud. In fact, placing a flat surface at the exact tangent of this point on the spherical surface resulted in a so-called vector.
This vector pointed straight up, everywhere he walked, every day of his life, and it was a miracle no less. Straight up to heaven, his one and only connection, a channel through which to communicate, allowing the thoughts to enter and the resulting thoughts to emanate upwards again after they had been collected, processed and transformed.
A couple days after this wonderful discovery, the old man was getting used to the infinite possibilities that had been opened up to him, the new medium, the long-drawn thread of awareness strung tightly between the here and the now. At first he had to concentrate with all his energy, in order to aim and direct, as if this were necessary when it was not. He had four years to go, but he would make the best of it. Too bad he had found this out so late in his life, but that was the way it was meant to be. Might as well make the best of things now. See what he could get out of it these last few years, maybe even accelerate the path and go on more quickly.
This was indeed a gift from God, a unique and heavenly vector.
Speaking of usability, in the latest issue of the Digital Web Magazine you can check up on an interesting article in the "Keep it Simple" column series called Simplicity vs. Innovation. I would say that this is a must read for those folks out there who are seriously into fine-tuning their sites with minimal though effective web design. The great thing about the definition of usability is that there is none and the concept is so vague that it is open to tons of interesting discussions that go on forever. Maybe some day I will put my ideas down on paper in an attempt to make this ethereal idea more concrete.
"Conducting is when you draw designs in the nowhere -- with your stick, or with your hands -- which are interpreted as instructional messages by guys wearing bow ties who wish they were fishing."
I was only six years old on the infamous day when our dear and beloved President Kennedy was assassinated, but I can remember it very well to this very day. At the time I was in first grade sitting behind my desk at Montezuma Elementary School in Redding, California. All of a sudden, the school principal came on the PR-system to make an important announcement. In a somber tone of voice which was monotone and sounded very distant with lots of static, he simply said "the president has been shot." Short and to the point and nothing more. We were all stunned to the hilt and if my memory serves me correctly, my teacher started to cry. Afterwards we were all sent home, and I remember watching the news the rest of the day on our black-and-white television set downstairs. In fact alot of the memories of that week are monochrome and with color. Up to and including the funeral with the horse-drawn carriage with the flag-draped casket on it. This was my first recollection of being confronted with the hard facts of reality.