My life’s decades are the number of fingers on a well-formed human hand, not including the thumb. We could say the last five years ((half decade)) have been the thumb, half-a-thumb, anyway. I pretty much finished off the first four fingers and skipped to the next hand to use the index finger then jumped back to the thumb on the first hand as though an afterthought. These last five years have been opposable. Does that work in this context? Opposable? Do I need to explain? ((Too bad if I do.)) The details of what make this so are… what they are and don’t matter other than they make up something that is opposable.
One fifth of one hand standing opposite its fellow digits completes each of those digits and is useless without them. I don’t care that you know my age or not, so I’ll leave the math to you just for fun. The other odd finger, the index as we mentioned and the only finger counted on the other hand, makes an easier task of moving a few remaining peas with accompanying gravy onto any clumsily-held fork.
Lately I’ve been noticing more individuals without all their digits. I’m most impressed when they don’t try to hide it, but don’t make a big deal about it. No etiquette exists, officially, and why should it. I’ve shaken many hands, or partial hands, and I’m less shocked or taken aback each time a person presents his or her hand as a greeting. Extended stubs, knobs, gnarled and twisted hands and fingers, often result in warmer communications than from the fully-fingered. The stories they tell without saying a word, are epic. I am fascinated, dare I say, gripped.
I met two older gentlemen brothers. They were well older than I am now. Let’s just say I hadn’t quite finished the decade of my third finger. One of the brothers hands were some of the oddest hands I had shaken, had seen, and at which gestures I marveled. I’ve got pictures of these guys somewhere I’m sure I will never find under whatever papers in whatever boxes I may never unpack again. But the photos are there. A few were published along with the story I was writing that occasioned our meeting. The photos show two men with hands. As far as I remember, the brother with the deformed hands made no effort to conceal this difference. In so doing he exhibited confidence enough to offer no hint that anything was missing. And so, nothing was missing other than our perception of his missing hand.
His accident, I learned, was from chasing coyotes away from livestock, something he’d done most of his life without mangling his hands. That particular time he must have been distracted, probably overconfident. Long and short of it: he held onto the stick of dynamite a half or even a tenth of a second more than he should have before throwing it. I didn’t find out what happened to the pack of coyotes he was after. But by the time we got to this part of his story, it no longer mattered. Neither did it matter what happened to the livestock. Not to me, anyway. ((But I think it would have been pretty cool had he gone on telling the story including the fate of the coyotes. That’s pretty hardcore ranching. “Blew the suckers away,” he would snort. “Oh, yeah, and my hands, too. Hah, hah.”)) His thumb vanished into a pink spray, dissolving into what sure must have been a difficult time of life that squeezed him tightly.
An early childhood memory: playing with fire before the age of accountability. The twins who lived in the house behind my family’s house, would meet me at the back fence where our two yards joined. We would bring our plastic soldiers and model cars and whatever supply of flammable liquid (we could get our hands on) and a reasonable supply of matches. This was something we did as naturally and as predictably as the lawns getting mowed and meter readers jumping fence after fence with their clipboards.
The twins brought their older brother this time, and he had a new tool, very cool, very exciting. He pulled out a glass syringe. His father was diabetic. The syringe was an artifact of the day’s technology. The clear-glass syringe yellowed as it filled with gasoline. One of the twins scraped a match head and the brother squeezed the inner plunger stick with his thumb, holding the syringe between his middle and index fingers. The fuel, in its narrow and compressed piss-like stream, passed through the flame on that tiny match head and exploded into a fully formed miniature firestorm that would incinerate the little foxholes we’d set up. Plastic green snipers were still being hidden under the plastic army trucks, carefully being placed with my own two little hands. No procedure was in place for an all clear signal, no “fire in the hole!” shout-out.
I don’t remember seeing the match getting struck. I do remember seeing the brother dip the syringe into the jar of fuel and then pull back and the plunger. I remember thinking that the flame would probably squirt out of there so fast that it would knock over whatever it hit before it burned it. I also remember an unspoken but certain and urgent prompt to move my hands, to pull them toward my chest. And as though for what seemed no reason at all, I jerked my hands toward sternum as fast as I could. I cannot tell you how close the flames came to nearly landed on my hands. I would be interested in a high-speed film recording of that event. It was, terrifying. It was dramatic. The four of us burst out with unison “wow,” or something like that, each remarking how close that was and that we should be careful and all that. But within a minute our young brains had moved on to other distractions, still in need of further exploring, discovering limits we had long passed while looking for things that our two hands could do.
our architect firm pitched the idea of mounting a rotating head atop SCC HQ, proportionate to the size of the building so as to be “life-size.”
Makes your head spin just thinking about it. So, don’t.
Now this is the kind of off-the-grid-fifty-universes-over-from-the-next-parking-lot-from-the-warehouse-where-the-box-usually-is thinking we like to encourage around here. Following our company’s founding tenets of non-critical criticizing, we congratulated the firm and thanked them for their hard work and visionary insight. We especially liked the part about the giant head on top making the building a spitting image, at a distance, of a PEZ dispenser. Our legal team pointed out all kinds of potential legal problems. We were disappointed that our company did not at the time of this writing produce something that would come out of the dispenser’s mouth periodically. But that would be a horribly awkward delivery system owing to the highly trafficked streets below. No one mentioned anything about how PEZ heads don’t rotate. Still, big fat kudos for the thoughtfulness. The real problem is that we facade over the high-speed, hyper RPM sub-quantum warning system antenna. But we’ll get there.
Okay. Seriously, I don’t know what you think I do all days long here atop this this ivory tower made of ACME Brick, pressure-treated wood, gypsum and other stuff. These are cramped quarters with little or no redeeming qualities other than a supposedly high-speed Internet connection, most of my books and an adequate stereo hosting a far less-than-adequate turntable with which I can listen to some of the best music recorded and mass-distributed on vinyl, conceived and performed at tremendous abandon and funk significantly pre-dating the artist formerly known as prince’s high-heeled blister infection, foil-lined bedroom, pantie-lined tight-jeaned nonexistent buttocks, back when, even before he was known as “Skippy,” alienating high-school peers as though such behavior were brainstem activity, youthfully clueless to what we now know as truth: that such actions occur out of sense of fashion, the desire to be different that makes one so much like everyone else. But forget him. He’s overrated. He does not concern me other than his introduction into popular culture serves as a smudge mark on the linear time ruler. Far more interesting is Rapunzel. Beautiful, magnificent Rapunzel. Absent. I hired her on the spot. She liked the terms. Seemed pleased with the arrangements, haggled a bit on the salary, but I would have been disappointed had she not. Perhaps she had second thoughts about the modest but highly-flexible benefit package. I don’t have time to train her now. And I don’t have time to replace her. Until I hired her, I never understood how glaringly inadequate my organizational and time-management skills. Nearing the end of this workday, I ignore the messages. Surely they do not include one from her. Today’s mail remains on the hallway floor, a study in entropy to which her absence pays tribute. She does not accompany me, tie me up or down or spin me yarns with her flaxen locks coiled into labyrinthine pin curls. She does not nuzzle my side, lovingly, affectionately, unaware that she derives far less comfort from her casual and innocent embrace than the balmy encouragement it provides her timid companion who wants nothing more than to create a life with her, lives with her, many lives. She is not here to throw down her hair should someone want to come visit, as if I would allow such a thing. No. I would not allow any such thing. Please understand that this does not in anyway conflict with my long-standing yet rarely availed open invitation to drop by the studio at anytime. I’ve got an opened-door policy. You don’t even have to knock. However, all I ask is that you first call Rapunzel and arrange an appointment. Oh, Rapunzel. I am not your hair. But you have let me down.
and so, why not invest in your new possible ocean-front property. This amounts to some seriously aggressive real estate speculation, certainly. So far, we’ve got a 36-mile-long crack, 20-feet-wide at its broadest, opening from seismic activity in 2005. This is the stuff of doomsday movies. Afar, Ethiopia, the Red Sea, parting without Noah’s request ((though a case could be made, I’m sure, and it was Moses, anyway)) leading to who knows what and the kicker, who knows when. Projected time-lines strongly suggest the ocean formation will occur “eventually.”
Thanks for the heads up, guys. Exactly how eventual are we talking? Couldn’t some enterprising government real estate tycoon, dictator, tyrant, benevolent tribal entity entrepreneur type come up with a plan to market this stuff… futures? Nah, couldn’t be legal in any part of the world. Surely someone could develop an industry toward touring this amazing geological site. Its newness is its novelty. The Grand Canyon is how old? This thing, this new hole, is spanking brand shiny smelling of plastic new by any measurable geological terms.
I want to see it. I would pay good money to see it. Could I please have a show of hands from all who witnessed the birth of any other oceans of which we might be aware? That’s what I thought.
Okay, let’s charter the flights. Let’s get our passports ready. Let’s take a look at this hole while it’s still so tiny we can tell our grandchildren and they won’t believe a word.
First saw this on Twitter about 12 hours after the fact. One must wonder what is up with that. And so I do. First one tweet, then another…. TigerWoods had a wreck, he’s in the hospital… links to some news sources… most news sources fragmentary at best. Word is that his injuries are serious.. that it is a single-vehicle accident. Who knows, at this point. U.S. News – Headlines, Stories and Video from CNN.com. No matter. I’m amazed, absolutely astonished at the instant out pouring of concern, sympathy and acknowledgement of prayer on his behalf. No mention of the family. But, hey, they are not Tiger Wood. To other amazement, his name is not showing up in Google Trends as of this writing. Give it a few minutes. Wow.
Now here’s something you don’t see every day, every year or even every century. North America gets to view a total lunar eclipse as Fall passes the seasonal baton to Winter.
It is the day planet Earth groans and grunts because she can’t turn her South Pole toward the Sun any more than she already has. She resigns and begins turning her North Pole toward the Sun.
The winter solstice comes but once a year, December 21, every year. That’s just how it is. When inhabitants of Earth figured out we’d been thrown the cosmic curve ball of a leap year, calendars began to make more sense. Simply put, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. That’s the confusing explanation, because every day is 24-hours long. Daylight hours, however, vary depending on how far north or south one lives from the Equator. Summer solstice is just the opposite, June 21, most daylight of any day, and marks the beginning of summer.
Lunar eclipses are another matter, occurring when the Earth casts its shadow upon the moon as it passes between it and the sun. Total eclipses totally cover the moon with the earth’s shadow, blacking it out, darkening the sky until for a few moments until it reappears as a sliver facing the one that disappeared. Tonight’s moments of complete blackness, technically referred to as ‘totality,’ will be more than a few at around 72 minutes, during which “an amber light will play across the snows of North America, throwing landscapes into an unusual state of ruddy shadow.” Every bit as predictable as solstices if you know the math, lunar eclipses occur irregularly. True, not all lunar eclipses occur at night. But the ones that do when they are dazzling.
This cosmic triple play of a full moon at total eclipse during the winter solstice has not occurred in more than 600 years. “Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21,” says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory, who inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years. The next one happens near the end of this century in 2094.