Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Unique situations in life often become clear only afterwards, with hindsight reflection. What about death? Death is unique in the standard sense of being a "one off" -- an event a person only experiences once in their lives. It's also unique in a temporal sense of a "first time", perhaps something like losing one's virginity. There's a third uniqueness, unlike the other two: death's exclusion of subsequent reflection by the party it acts upon. People don't apparently receive a later opportunity to put their death event into perspective, to grow from it, etc. In this regard, death occupies its own subset within unique events. Intellectually, we understand this limitation before the event, but how do we decide what to do with this information? Suppose that death turns-out to be a journey afterwards so that, lacking prior knowledge, we aren't adequately prepared for the subsequent trip? What if we unwittingly hurt someone on the way out and would normally later, once realized, make an amends (but obviously can not after death)? These are frightening prospects. So, how can we die more perfectly or, perhaps, what is the most perfect way to die, as we understand it?
As my cancerous decline proceeds, who knows if I'll keep pace with its changes intellectually or emotionally1. It's been my experience that everyone is compromised at the end -- why should I expect to be different? I am probably going to make several mistakes, and will have no opportunity for amends, or even realizing them, which I would have done with reflection, when alive. My first thought is, "My sincere apologies right now for anything I'm not going to do well and might have done much better. I hope I don't step on anyone's toes."
A second element. In my life, unless I'm confident of dealing with a situation well, I search my memory for solutions to similar prior scenarios. In the case of impending death, I only have external examples, but I do have the opportunity to consider what's important to me while it's still an early process2. Currently, I have a lifetime's accumulated reservoir of no cancer and the feeling that death only happens to others. It's only been 6 days since I learned of my prognosis. Taken together, cancer currently has almost zero subjective power today.
So, from this still-healthy place, I should probably ask myself the question, "What have I, in the past, cared to hear from dying people?", for this is the only stuff I should bother propagating out into the healthy world (a world I will deeply miss) while I decline. The candid answer is, "not much" or, "what did I ever care what dying people said or thought?". But not entirely. There have been things here and there. For example, I recall that I valued my dying paternal grandmother's honest assessments of me, and of her assessments of the highlights and lowlights of her life; she had ultimate perspective at that point. Unfortunately, I don't have the relationship of a grandmother to the world, but I might be able to put something out there which helps.
New realizations are bound to come when, for example, they're draining me in a wheelchair and I'm too confused by physiological damage and metabolic inconsistency to think clearly, etc. But those ironies will be irrelevant to 99% of the people out there. It seems best to chart a course of relating to the world that is made during my current experience of health, and stick with that course going forward.
Hopefully I can add to this in the next two weeks before radiation and give myself guidelines for the best chance to to stay a contributor to the healthy world. After that, I suppose my attention will begin to be overtaken by timelines and physical realities.
PS: Hey God, please stop the cancer. Thanks.
1Whether I care about that later, we'll see.
2The only symptoms so far are cold-like. My immune system which, to anthropomorphize, has been a world class tactical team throughout my healthy life, has made early (of course!) enemy contact; mild night sweats are their telegraphs to me they've been fighting a fight for me. I've repaid their lifetime of good work by introducing them to a foe they cannot possible beat, and which they will fight to the death trying to save me from. How terrible. I've loved you, immune guys!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I recently read the book above, which is simply a transcript of a 1987 interview conducted in Belgrade by NIN correspondent Svetoslav Spasojevich. Spasojevich's subject, Patriarch German (photo above), was in 1987 the highest official of the Serbian Orthodox Church. German was considered a controversial patriarch; it was thought that, in his 1958 ascendancy to patriarch, German might have been complicit with Josip Broz (Tito). This perception subsequently led to a painful schism in the Serbian Orthodox Church, and to German's unflattering nickname "The Red Patriarch".
These are likely only arguably interesting topics for non-Serbian readers, but my impression was that most readers who enjoy the more general sweep of history should take the time to read the interview. The historical value of an interview conducted within the final three years of a Communist regime with the head of its second largest Church is obvious. There are additional insights for those who understand the manner in which religious organizations are exploited within Communist regimes. And the text also sparks reflection about how we as relatively free readers evaluate information from censored societies.
For example, we don't learn a great deal of facts around the central political points. Patriarch German's responses become significantly evasive, sometimes nearly unresponsive, when Spasojevich probes, 1) Patriarch German's elevation to patriarch and, 2) German's role in the controversial defrocking of Bishop Dionisije Milivojevich.
Indeed, the interview qua interview seems overall uneven: leading questions, questions unrelated to previous comments, sections which seem scripted, and so forth. Additionally, when German's answers appear evasive, Spasojevich lacks what seem to be obvious follow-ups. But these types of flaws, which typically lead to throwing an interview down, do not divert our attention; we understand this interview was taken within a closed dictatorial society. In 1987, perhaps some of the text was removed or altered by a Yugoslavian agency. Perhaps Spasojevich was provided with a strict list of questions from censors, leaving follow-up questions only to be riskily considered, if at all. Perhaps Spasojevich lost his freedom or life --- others may have hastily or compromisingly assembled the published version. Of course, it's also possible Spasojevich was simply not a skillful interviewer, but what do we want to conclude without being certain?
Attempting to read between German's responses, I eventually had to ask myself, "What might be at stake for German in this interview?". In 1987, it seems reasonable German would still display prudent caution when responding to questions regarding Communism. In equal measure, it seems reasonable to picture German feeling comfortable with some candor and explanations about the Dionisije issue, ie, I would have guessed German's strategy, if he had one for his responses, as one which avoided Communist persecution but healed the Orthodox schism. Instead, German responded openly and negatively about Communism and elliptically at best about Dionisije. What does this mean?
One thought is that Patriarch German was 88 years old at the time of the interview. Did German feel his personal legacy (and-or the legacy of his Church) was more important than his own safety? Still, a strategy of evasiveness on the Dionisije matter is not one an intelligent man would select to solve the schism, and it's therefore just as unlikely that German's staff advised him to feign obtuseness. To me then, it appears German's evasiveness was likely reactive, spontaneous, and correspondingly revelatory of his underlying concerns.
If that's correct, what did German consider needed to remain hidden away? There is little question Patriarch German would have understood the significance of the Dionisije matter within his Church, how it had brought the taint of possible communist/Tito (a Roman Catholic Croat) involvement to his reputation, and led to a schism. These must have been painful impressions for German. Yet when considered against the possibility of healing the Church's schism and his own reputation, we'd expect German to speak more openly at age 88. He misses a significant opportunity in this interview.
So what was his concern? There was of course much stronger stuff than back room power brokering during Tito's era; significant persecution and loss of life. Many priests were killed outright during Tito's tenure. Had German's interview confirmed complicity with Tito, German would forever be despised by Serbian Orthodox leaders and members. I have my suspicions that German was a man feeling significant guilt, but whatever the real story may be, we can only guess. The book is worthy of reading for how one interprets such things.
Incidentally, the problem with Bishop Dionisije went so deeply in the Serbian Orthodox Church, that it spread to the courtrooms of America, (famously) landing in the US Supreme Court (SERBIAN ORTHODOX DIOCESE v. MILIVOJEVICH, 426 U.S. 696 (1976)). The case remains a landmark in the US for defining the separation of Church and State.
Posted by xbasket at 2:45 AM
Monday, July 12, 2010
Cockchafer beetle, your name is unfortunate for Sunday school. You're supposed to be here and gone by June, "May Bug". You never bite or sting; it's anyone's guess why you were once nearly extinct. And you arrived on the screen door this evening, buzzing and parading resplendent antennae, looking like a million bucks. Your presence, merely buzzing and peering-in for a half hour, relieved all the tedium of my Math homework. You left me happy.
On the other hand, your name suggests you are a g*d damned cockchafer. Your name seems to point to impossible, horrifying events insofar as beetles are concerned. Things that seem possible for beetles only in the context of a torture chamber or maybe a Turkish prison. I will simply wish you the best, and hope that I fail to learn how you were named.
But on yet another hand, perhaps I'm up to three hands by now, the apparent irony of your existence as a harmless, somewhat clumsy vegetarian, looking for a tree, but possessing a name that causes most to recoil, is not entirely wasted upon me. So roll on chafer, you're an interesting contradiction. And be safe out there.
Posted by xbasket at 12:34 AM
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Posted by Eternal Pamnation at 2:11 PM
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Note: this is just a repost of something I put up recently at TaBB or Misanthropy Today. It sucks, but it's a post with Thanksgiving spirit. --crackpipe (xbasket)
In 2007 I was being driven to the airport in Zürich. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and I thought, what can possibly go wrong on this beautiful day? The pharmaceutical deal had gone through perfectly in Kraków ("crack?how!", we call it), there was an early winter föhn dancing through the open limousine roof, and an electrical engineer with fabulous cleavage was telling me an interesting story of her brothers selling her into imprisonment in a Thailand whorehouse, and how it had ultimately led to a Fulbright scholarship and to collecting butterflies as a hobby. As she spoke, I recalled that my wife Sophie and our kids were happily expecting me in our San Juan Islands house, and that my mistress in Hong Kong was coming to Europe to spend a weekend in London. Due to the Kraków deal, funds were finally in place to go forward with the World Peace festival, so much so that all I would have to do is gather a few spread sheets and then pass the details off to an assistant to do the telephone calls. The road was filled with traffic and I was able to people-watch through the window as I listened to Koy's nightmarish childhood story. She had been beaten and whipped, of course. But outside on the sidewalks, happy faces enjoyed the winter sunshine and warm-front winds. My thoughts wandered. And just then, I recalled that chef Ricardo had neglected to put the small marshmallows on the sweet potatoes at last night's dinner! It was an outrage. Had he forgotten our deal to pay for his wife's cancer medication? Did he imagine that he could decide the manner in which sweet potatoes should be prepared? Whatever the reasons, hanging would be too good for such a scoundrel. Ricardo must be beaten and whipped thoroughly, I thought. In front of our staff. And then sent packing with half his pay and a dying wife, in the snow. "Serves him right", I thought, "I'll have it done on Christmas Eve". I had a swallow of mineral water, laughed to myself in satisfaction, and returned to gazing at Koy's generous chest. With irresponsible scoundrels such as Ricardo running free in this world, there can be no peace. We must learn to fight back against them. When evil rears its ugly head, and if it's within our zone of influence, we must fight back against evil, each and every time, and even if it costs us 5 or 10 minutes. Shall we all be prisoners like Koy was?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Ich fand gerade etwas mehr Vorahnung in der Werkstatt. Ich möchte zu teilen. Gehen wir zurück in die Zeit eines Jahres. Dies ist reich:
Dies ist der Jahrestag, wenn wir versehentlich getötet David Foster Wallace mit unseren Respektlosigkeit, aber wir waren so abgefuckt auf Sentimentalität und Chantix wir dachten, "Gott sei Dank" wenigstens etwas Wichtigeres.
Jetzt sind wir abgefuckt auf Coreg. D.B. - Er diagnostiziert Takotsubo. Wenn wir ihm versagt ein Taxi. Und er hatte Recht. ER HATTE RECHT!
Das Konzept des Tages ist Vorahnung. Nicht der fiktionalen Art, aber die Art Sie stolpern im wirklichen Leben. Es ist das Gegenteil, zeit-weise, der real-vous.
Oh, und der König der Bälle, war er Vorahnung KISS König der Bälle, und dass die tatsächlichen Reisen ins Land der KISS König der Bälle Vorahnung war.
Der Professor steht Vorahnung und könnte bald beitragen mehr, um sich wichtig fühlen.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I just found some more foreshadowing in the workshop. I want to share. Let's travel back in time one year. This is rich:
This is the anniversary of when we accidentally killed David Foster Wallace with our irreverence but we were so fucked-up on sentimentality and Chantix we thought "Thank God" at least something important matters.
Now we're fucked-up on Coreg. D.B. - He diagnosed takotsubo. When we denied him a cab. And he was right. HE WAS RIGHT!
The concept of the day is foreshadowing. Not the fictional kind, but the kind you stumble upon in real life. It's the opposite, time-wise, of real vous.
Oh, and King of Balls, he was foreshadowing KISS King of Balls, and that was foreshadowing actual trips to the land of KISS King of Balls.
The Professor likes foreshadowing and might post more soon in order to feel important.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
There was a malfunction in the large-screen LCD and we stopped in Las Vegas to replace the thing. I was annoyed with the pilot, Armando. Luxury items are supposed to be checked-out prior to take-off! Eventually, the LCD was replaced and Armando had us back in the air searching for topless citizens lounging by Vegas pools to photograph. Since I was annoyed with the stop in Vegas, and annoyed with an earlier call from my mechanic explaining Sylvie's car would not be ready until Monday, I turned away from poolside loungers and turned toward champagne and film to soothe my jangled nerves. The film? Steven Blütbergen's "DSM-IV".
The film was panned by most critics. No, really. So I'm here to point out there is nothing wrong with a BMW car crash on the Autobahn, gratuitously filmed in high speed for slow motion playback, in which the lead character and her favorite male prostitute are killed driving at 160KPH, high on Ecstasy and mood enhancers. There is nothing wrong with slow-paced scenes depicting technical details of tricyclic pharmaceutical sales in Leipzig, in which forms are signed without translation, and in which long and confusing glances are exchanged without background music between three doctors and a wonderfully busty lead (Elsa Küchen plays "Besos" - marvelously large aureolas too). There is little to criticize with the scene in which an apparently disturbed ex-con biker dude (Dick Cheney plays "Mon") shaves his goatee, flushes his steroids, waggles his shriveled penis, inserts a butt-plug, mounts a Harley Davidson, sets himself on fire, and drives directly through the plate glass window of a woman's clothing store in downtown Modesto, California. Seemingly incongruous events such as these are connected by themes of anger, IBS, and mood enhancers. But there is a problem. And the problem with this film is in its inappropriateness and offensiveness to reasonable people such as myself who are educated and who have more refined tastes than prurient trash such as this film can address. Nobody, and I mean *nobody*, is going to take my money at the box office, when I can have custom shirts made to order, fly around Vegas in a helicopter looking for topless sunbathers, or have my chef create sweet potato masterpieces.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Who here can scratch an itch anywhere on their own back without assistance?
This is not a trick question. The Professor is not interested in your ability to use tools. The professor is concerned about whether you can satisfyingly scratch an itch anywhere your own back without the use of anything but your hands, e.g. without a back scratcher or a wall or a stick or the power of your mind.
Please vote, and please even forward a link to those unfamiliar with the workshop so that they may vote as well.
If you have a shoulder injury, but are absolutely sure that you could do this before the injury, please vote yes. Similarly for massive weight gain.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Preparations are beginning....
I am the King of Balls.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
In Greek: γιαούρτι, pronounced yee-ah-OOR-tee
This is a basic recipe for homemade yogurt using commercial full fat milk.
* 1 quart of full fat sheep or cow's milk (pasteurized)
* 2 tablespoons of previously homemade yogurt or plain unflavored yogurt at room temperature
* 2 tablespoons of full fat milk (same type) at room temperature
1. Heat the milk just to the boiling point and pour into a non-metal container.
2. Let cool to lukewarm (100-105F). A skin will form on top.
3. Mix the 2 tablespoons of yogurt (homemade or commercial) with 2 tablespoons of milk.
4. Add to the lukewarm mixture, carefully pouring down the side so that any skin that may have formed on top is not disturbed.
5. Cover with a clean dishtowel and place on another towel in a warm, dry place for at least 8 hours (or overnight) until it thickens.
Note: 8 to 12 hours is best. The longer the yogurt coagulates beyond that time, the more sour the taste becomes.
6. Carefully drain any excess liquid.
7. Refrigerate for 4 hours before using.
8. Store in the refrigerator and use within 4-5 days.
9. Don't forget to save a small amount to make the next batch!
The yogurt can be eaten as is, along with the creamy skin on top.
To make the thick yogurt used in many Greek recipes, follow these directions after step 6.
# Dump a container of plain (unflavored), yogurt into the center of the cloth.
# Bring the four corners of the cloth together and lift the yogurt.
# Over the bowl or sink, twist the corners to squeeze out the liquid (it will drain through the cloth).
# Continue squeezing, putting the yogurt under pressure, to force the liquid out.
# When the majority of the surface liquid has been drained, it will start to drip more slowly. Tie off the top of the cloth just above the mass of yogurt with string.
# Place the cloth containing the yogurt in a strainer or colander, and place the strainer or colander in a bowl where it doesn't touch the bottom (so that the liquid can continue to drain).
# Place the bowl containing the strainer/colander in the refrigerator and allow to drain for 2-3 hours.
# After draining, take the cloth containing the yogurt and put it in the sink (do not remove the string).
# Place the palms of your hands on the bag and press down to force out any remaining liquid.
# Remove the string, open the cloth, and using a spatula, put the yogurt in a bowl for use.
# Note: How thick is thick? The yogurt should be at least as thick as sour cream.
Great ideas from site visitors:
* Use a coffee filter to strain (forum discussion)
Sweet Potato Preserve
* Peel sweet potato and cut into desired size and shape.
* Soak in lime water (one tablespoonful lime to one gallon water) overnight.
* Wash thoroughly and drain.
* Prepare syrup made up of two parts sugar and one part water. Cook sweet potato in this syrup for 15 minutes. Let stand overnight.
* Boil syrup again until it gets thick. Drain.
* Pack sweet potato in 12-ounces jars, fill with syrup and half-seal.
* Sterilize for 25 minutes in boiling water.
While Professor Marvel did an excellent job of posting the beautiful lusty photographs of the fried potato ball and the fried pork, the good professor did not write about the preparation of the food.
What preparation is necessary, given that the food is pre-prepared? Well, there's two crucial parts:
1) The person at the counter takes the order.
2) Somebody plates the food.
Item 1: The person at the counter takes the order.
It turns out that really the person at the counter of Cuchifrito does not take the order so much as decide what the customers need to eat. The professor and I agreed that this is the right procedure and that all other dining establishments have it wrong. How could we disagree with the beautiful fried potato ball and fried pork ribs placed in front of us? Imagine how badly our meal could have gone if we had received what we had unwittingly ordered.
Item 2: Somebody plates the food.
All dining establishments would be more enjoyable if it involved a counterperson taking a fried pork rib and whacking (very loudly whacking with deft up and down movements of the right arm) of the said rib with a cleaver. I am a proud owner of a cleaver that has seen excellent use, and I endorse this message for cleaver use in America. (Well, I am not running for an office, but it's fun to endorse something. Try it.)
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The Professor wanted to show you loyal readers something shiny. While the Professor is normally a stunning photographer, something was amiss, and the shiny object remained elusive.
The Professor, who puts on the ill-fitting Philosopher Hat at times, tries to extract meaning out of this. Does it mean sometimes you'll get what you want if you just stop trying? Does it mean that if you want them enough, God will give you shiny things? Does it represent the fact that all we are ever really left with are accidentally captured semi-accurate reflections, even of things that seem blindingly important at the time? Let's squeeze every last possible bit of meaning out of it, Readers, until all that remains is a small blurry bit of a photo of a reflection of something that was really shiny in person, at one time, somewhere.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We were talking about bamboo in the warehouse today.
I recently mistook sugarcane for bamboo. My neural connections are being pruned at a rapid rate--to use a metaphor sometimes applied to the developing mind of an infant--and the sugarcane mistake was yet another example of this "pruning" and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to share the bamboo mistake with the others participating in the bamboo discussion. But I kept silent. Just sniffled, felt my nose itch and rubbed at it as I considered again whether I was experiencing a cold or allergies. It mattered for several reasons, but the symptoms were confounding the damn diagnosis. Rule out Common Cold. Rule out Allergies.
We ruled out bamboo as a material that could improve the warehouse in both function and design. Unfunc means unfunctional, in made-up design idiom. What means ugly and unfunctional again? Ugunfunc? unfuncug?
The reasons why bamboo wouldn't work out in the warehouse were elusive to me, yet obvious. But unexplainable. I doubted myself as my fingers ached. I am frequently confused, forgetful. The obvious isn't as reliable as I used to believe it to be. I was flailing a bit. I occasionally or often flail a bit, as I have developed no system for remembering things beyond relying on the now elusive yet once-perceived-as-highly-functional neural connections.
Writing things down seemed like the only way, in the limited universe of my limited brain. Put a system in place now, I told myself, before it gets worse. And stick to it. I know you don't believe it on some level, I said to myself, because the ability to remember correctly has been a part of your experience of the world for so long. Now you have to doubt yourself. Get used to it. It may be your salvation.
I thought of some benefits to the loss of cognitive reliability, and the recognition and acceptance of it:
1. Self-doubt can lead to considering more possibilities--and considering other possiblities can create new cognitive connections; although, it seems, those connections are often not as strong as one expects them to be, based on past experiences of the strength of connections. By "one" I mean "me" and by "me" I mean the King of Balls.
2. For individuals lucky enough to have their self-concept not inextricably wrapped up with their perceived memory and "sharpness," it can lead to asking other people or the internet for information and occasionally widening one's scope of knowledge by acquiring information--again, probably with a weaker ability to remember the connection than once was readily available to the now inadequate mind. Or not inadequate, but better at different things? Who knows? Let's come up with some possibilities to make ourselves feel better, shall we?
Other people know things I don't. But the bamboo--what of it? Who thought it would work in the warehouse and is it there yet? Why is it a topic, and where did it come from?
I am the King of Balls.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Nobody likes the sadness poll, and nobody is voting in it, and nobody has visited the workshop since the Professor opened the voting. Please forget it ever existed. Don't be sad.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I am the King of Balls.
They love me in the Philippines. Little carts with green signs order people to kiss me.
I must experience this in person. I will travel to Manila in the coming months where I hope to get kisses, and balls, and hope not to get hepatitis. I may even invest.
I am not kidding. I am the King of balls.