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Since I Never Get the Last Word

Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Tentative Obit

In my part of the world, many of us have wells. Because the desert gets very cold at night in the winter time, the pumps on these wells need protection. We built a little outhouse – it resembles one so much we carved a half moon in the doorway – to preserve and protect our well. The good news is that this protection has served us well for a dozen years. The bad news is that this protection is a really glorious nesting place for spiders, particularly black widow spiders.

There is a well inspector arriving tomorrow. Our neighbor is selling her house and she is joint occupant of the well. Part of the sales process is an affidavit to the buyer that the well is in proper condition. Except for the spider colony, I am not worried at what said inspector will discover. So, today is the day I get to open the door, with broom and insecticide in hand, and clean the little buggers out.

If you don’t hear from me again, the spiders won.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-08-08 09:07:33

Monday, August 7, 2006
Laws for Life or Writing, Whichever You’re Doing at the Moment

Law #1

Know the rules so that you can explain why you broke, are breaking, will break them

Law #2

Follow the rules except when you can’t.

Law #3

Listen to your critics so you know what other people think you’re doing.

Law #4

After whatever number of re-writes you want to endure, have someone do a sanity check on what’s left.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-08-07 09:17:03

Sunday, August 6, 2006
Today in History According to Nominal Historians

Historians continue to mystify me. Consider today’s important historical tidbits from The History Channel:

Today’s Lead Story:

1928 Any Warhol is Born; 7 paragraphs @ 700 words

Warhol was a major pioneer of the pop art movement of the 1960s but later outgrew that role to become a cultural icon.

Evidently, one can pioneer a school of art without achieving iconic status. Or maybe the determination for iconic status is that you exceed the fifteen minutes of fame Warhol predicted; say, 16 or 17 minutes.

No. 2 Story:

1787 First Draft of Constitution Debated; 7 paragraphs @ 470 words

During an intensive debate, the delegates devised a brilliant federal system characterized by an intricate system of checks and balances.

All true patriots know our system is ‘brilliant’, a trilateral system is ‘intricate, and we have achieved perfection of a federal system.’ Untrue patriots might concede the utility of the system but also acknowledge the difficulties inherent in the system.

No. 3 Story:

1890 First Execution by Electric Chair; 5 paragraphs @ 210 words

At Auburn Prison in New York, the first execution by electrocution in history is carried out against William Kemmler, who had been convicted of murdering his lover, Matilda Ziegler, with an axe.

The final paragraph of this article says it all: Dr. Southwick applauded Kemmler's execution with the declaration, "We live in a higher civilization from this day on," while American inventor George Westinghouse, an innovator of the use of electricity, remarked, "They would have done better with an axe."

Literary History Lesson:

1786 Burns Released From Marriage; 1 paragraph @ 175 words.

On this day, Robert Burns is released from a questionable marriage to Jean Armour, who he later married anyway.

This tidbit, which makes marriage sound like a prison sentence and don't you love the 'anyway', is offered as an excuse, I suppose, to remind everyone that Burns wrote “For Auld Lang Sysne” as in the last line of the article: “Burns fans around the world celebrate his birthday, January 25, with rowdy and ribald dinners of haggis and other Scottish delicacies, and his words resound every New Year's Eve, when his poem "For Auld Lang Syne" is sung.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-08-06 10:05:07

Friday, August 4, 2006
Apocalyptic Nightmares

When I was in high school in another age, I came across an intriguing little black book about the atomic bomb. How this book found its way into a small high school library in Phoenix, Arizona, I have no idea. The fact that I took away from the book was that the high altitude testing on Bikini - thus, the origin of the phrase: a bomb in a bikini – knocked out some of the power systems in Honolulu. For fifty years I’ve been concerned about the effect of EMP so that stories like TV’s Dark Angel resonated with me. Let a nuke explode 20m above Kansas and there goes U.S. civilization, such as it is. Turns out, that isn’t precisely true. It isn’t even mostly true. Oh, well, it was a really good nightmare while it lasted.

Fortunately, I was able to dream up a new nightmare: My former home now has more than 4 million people living there, most of them transplants from California and the East Coast, people who have no conception of what it means to live in a desert. These are the kind of people prone to utter such statements as “oh, we don’t have to worry about water; we have a well.”

I came across a very useful concept in Ervin Lazlo’s book Macroshift: a city’s footprint. A city’s footprint extends the number of square miles it takes to support its population. Most commonly, this would describe the number of acres of food required to keep the population alive. Less commonly but just as significantly this footprint can describe the distance to the water source. Now, with the Central Arizona Project, Phoenix sits more than 200 miles from its major water supply. Tucson sits another 120 miles from that water source with ITS water source traveling through Phoenix; it’s the same canal. That water source, the Colorado River, begins – not surprisingly – in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Quite a foot print with quite a few break points.

And then, consider the distance Los Angeles must go for its water.

Anyway, the nightmare is 5 million people with no homes because there is no water. Where do those people go and how do they survive? If I cannot go to the grocery store, living off the land is going to be a major learning experience for me. I can shoot my guns but I’ve never cleaned out a deer or rabbit in my life. Necessity can help me learn, I’m sure, but I’d rather not face the necessity.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-08-04 09:56:38

Thursday, August 3, 2006
The Upside and Down of Global Warming

The bad news is that the earth is warming up melting the icecaps and raising the level of the coeans of the world so that all those seaports are going to be under water. Boo, flooding!

The good news is that all that water will add lots more water to the atmosphere causing lots and lots of rain where there was not lots and lots of rain before, say the Sonoran desert. Yeah, rain; boo flooding!

The bad news is that all those people who used to live in seaports now must live somewhere else. Talk about your urban sprawl!

The good news is that all that rain is going to wash the atmosphere clean of all those bad carbons so we can go back to the regularly scheduled ice age. Then, everyone can move back into the seaports once they figure out how to cope with the mildew and stuff.

Gives us another couple hundred years and everything’s going to be okay.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-08-03 09:04:05

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