Friday, December 27, 2013
2014 and Counting
Once upon a time in 1975, a young man joined the workforce.
Heaped with promises, he was of good cheer perforce.
Eagerly he went to work each night, not feeling any fright,
for company representatives said he would be treated right.
They would give him life insurance, health insurance,
dental insurance, pension and savings financial assurance.
He would have a credit union to save and borrow from,
store back some of his pay, buy a car, and never feel glum.
Diligently he worked night after night, third shift no graveyard,
rather an opportunity for him to succeed in the highest regard.
He learned intricate details and his methods were thorough,
They said to keep it up, promotion was coming on the morrow.
He finally did get promoted, was given more responsibility,
He learned new duties and carried them out with perspicacity.
Enduring the gossip and rumor mill, he persevered through all,
When he got another raise and promotion, he was walking tall.
Then one day at the ripe old age of twenty-nine,
The gibes and jabs clued him in: he was no longer fine.
The company power-brokers were under-cutting his walk,
needling so effectively with their underhanded cruel talk.
Over the hill at thirty, he took the hint and moved away,
to a magnificent city up north full of color, lively and gay.
No one would have him at his former occupation,
Was forced to take up menial work, with resignation.
His thirties went the same all of the way through,
he lived hand to mouth, with little left for new shoes.
Halcyon twenties faded in memory, as happiness ebbed.
He emptied trash and cleaned floors, and thus stayed fed.
The forties settled in with a stroke of good fortune,
Happy times returned at a time opportune –
The parties were grand, no lack for company,
succession of fun a reward for this progeny.
Then he took up writing and poetry,
and opened new vistas of possibility.
His goals in sight, mileposts knocked down,
received encouragement from many all around.
The old celebrations and soirees replaced
with the satisfaction of his literary place.
Traded one pleasure for another, ephemeral to permanent;
Hoped his writings would survive, etched in Net firmament.
Yet he realized millions of others held the same great hopes,
So on weekends he still sought good times and funny jokes.
Time passes and he still strives and struggles,
His house warm and cozy, his cat snuggles.
The job pays the bills and he stokes his willpower,
Someday it will pay off and greater fortunes flower.
In a dim corner of the city his keyboard clicks to this day,
Months, years, decades roll by, but to his task he will stay.
Worse fates have befallen an average Baby Boomer,
This one counts himself lucky, this “dedicated Homer.”
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Spacecraft probe deep into universal mysteries,
reveal secrets that amaze and titillate scientists;
Dimming stars yield up new planets' histories,
add to an expanding catalog of interstellar wonder.
An average person sees work faces, road surfaces,
windshield dirt, idiot drivers, dirty living quarters,
recalcitrant pets, spouses and kids – painful routine.
We tell ourselves we are lucky, it could be worse.
The lucky few glued to dim screens send corrections,
then much on pizza and await the slow reply transmissions
from a billion miles distant: Outwardly confident, inwardly uncertain.
On a good day history will be made, all the bad days forgotten.
You and I grind through weekdays, hoping our way to Saturday,
Then fighting lines and fatigue to get those errands run.
Sometimes it all seems worth it, even though the next problem lurks
just around the bend – they say attitudes are everything.
Someday NASA will send a probe to Alpha Centauri and it will
be wondrous, amazing people the world around.
Someday you and I will get what we want and be astounded,
thrilled if we are paying attention. For a little while we will be happy.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Now moves slow against the backdrop of years,
Instant by instant, a slog through heavy mud;
Hard to imagine the outcome of those aging fears,
Life burns bright within, the veins course with blood.
When one takes a measure of what has passed,
One day leads to another day to a weekend and back;
The sighs of “thank god it is Friday at last”
fade to complaints of black Monday’s attack.
If one never took stock or gauged distance of time,
Perhaps the lingering discontent would disappear;
Merely glide or travel down life’s blurred lines,
Only at the end would journey’s speed be clear.
Yet when one has seen enough loss and death close by,
one cannot avoid the rapid approach of the day we die.
You stood up to your church and fought for your rights,
Enhanced the lives of so many underprivileged;
Held venues for same-sex orientated adults,
empowering an entire generation of gay men.
Whether in a suit at the Thoreau Center,
holding court at some Pros Soiree;
Or in dress and helmet at the RRR,
Cooking a meal for fifty naturists at play...
You delivered your particular brand of love,
caring for many of us in so many little ways;
Entertained in secluded woods sunlit from above.
Hosted visitors from around the world, hetero or gay.
Somewhere up there in a fantastic inter-dimensional realm,
he is partying with otherworldly hosts – I wish him well!
In loving Memory of Harold Wells 1936 to 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013
Are we all prisoners? The cameras are always watching, and high schoolers are treated like criminals. Safety and security above all else, including any vestiges of freedom? We seem to keep moving the line in favor of security, and at cost of our human rights. How far must we be squeezed, how closely watched, how carefully monitored, before every single person feels “safe” ?
Just recently we saw in North Korea, a high-ranking leader taken down, jailed, convicted and executed. For reasons still unclear, but possibly related to a power struggle. North Korea is the most authoritarian state imaginable, and someone still did not feel “safe”, so had to jail and ultimately execute a rival.
“Safety” is to a large degree in the mind of the beholder. One can feel threatened in a neighborhood statistically free of violence and robbery. By the same token, someone else might feel “Safe” in a 'hood with a high crime rate. It is an individual state of mind at work. A gunman takes a shot at a teacher, and then 2,000 students get treated like criminals and get searched. They finally find the perpetrator dead of a self-inflicted gunshot. The fanatic adherence to consistency makes sure that the wrong people get scrutinized, every single time. This can breed resentment, and that can breed more troublemakers of all kinds.
I am all for a reasonable level of safety. Traffic signals, Railroad crossing arms, this sort of thing. But the evening TV is studded with the cops taking down all kinds of bad guys, and the news is rife with school shootings. People are becoming afraid of their neighbors, looking with suspicion at each other all the time. This kind of thing used to be an eastern European state of mind during the cold war, with neighbor tattling on neighbor to gain brownie points with the Stazi or other police force.
In our democracy, we have the right of peaceful assembly – we have the right to disagree with our elected officials. We the people are the government. Within reason (meaning without violent acts) we have the right to disagree. I fear that in the present hyper-policed atmosphere, we may lose our most precious asset here in the US – our sense of freedom.
If there is any point to this ramble, it is this: We need to make a hard turn to the Left, and liberalize the general atmosphere. Emphasize the people's right of self-determination, without looking over their shoulder at cameras or swat teams, or being spied on at every turn in their computers or in brick-and-mortar stores. That sweeping spirit of the 1960's that said in effect, the individual does have rights, does have power, and can bring about change for the better. The kind of spirit exemplified by Nelson Mandela, for example. Thanks for reading.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The news came out December 11,2013. Mars One has contracted with Lockheed Martin Space division for feasibility studies for their first Mars Mission. Although this is an unmanned test, it is still very significant. It means that a private entity, having solicited funds from thousands of Mars Colony believers, has paid an aerospace corporation for flight hardware. Dreams are becoming reality.
The faithful are getting their wish – a shot at Mars. And the overall economy is getting a shot of capital, to fund Outer Space activities. Of course, Lockheed-Martin is well positioned in this field, having flown many space missions already. But it is the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many opportunities looming for other aerospace companies, subcontractors, design firms, study groups, even architectural firms. The market for space habitation, entertainment and the like is just getting started.
So if you run a company with any relevance at all to the huge, looming market for Inner Solar System exploration and development, you may want to ask yourself, 'Is it time to get in now?' Perhaps it is at least time to get ready.
A lot of people want to go out there, to live on other planets. Evidence is as close as the sign-up list for Mars One. Some Billionaires are on board, most notably Dennis Tito, who wants to fund a human-crewed Mars shot as early as 2018. Prudent companies may want to prepare with research and design studies. It is coming, and one wouldn't want to miss the boat, so to speak. See you out there someday!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Cinquain is a poetry form pioneered by Adelaide Crapsey and others. There are many types, but I used the one with nouns and adjectives in the one that follows. Thanks for reading it, and perhaps you might like to try your own. Short and expressive, a fun poetic form.
gleaming, costing, leapfrogging
Buy the latest computers
lagging, fading, missing
last years' computers
supporting, enabling, networking
Tablets are all the rage
opening, flapping, lacking
My money is all spent
Monday, December 09, 2013
The first time a gal told you about a Ferret,
The first time you saw tropical fish,
The first kitten, or puppy.
The first time driving a car
The first time making love.
The fresh experiences:
Uncertainty, wonder, exhilaration.
We each get so many of these in life.
If only you could draw that freshness off,
put it in a bottle,
take a swig every morning...
New hope for a new day.
Grim sameness splashed with new light,
Bright colored hopes promising you
another whole unknown future,
loaded with possibilities,
where you might still do anything –
And no one can take it away from you,
no matter how hard they try,
how loud they yell.
The only bottle of experience-freshener
I know of is memory, and that is a
very leaky vessel. Still, it is
all we have.
Get some rest,
take a long walk,
tap that container for what you will,
enjoy young newness again!
You have certainly earned it.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Everything is now. Gleaming toys from various years co-exist in my mind. The walkie-talkies or transistor radios received at Christmastime (1960s) when I was a kid. The TRS-80 color computer. The Lazer PC compatible. The Packard-Bell 100 Mhz. The Cyrix 166, the DIT 200. The Gateway 300. The Emachines with Windows ME – gaack! The Dell XPS 3 Ghz. And on and on, up to and including the many-cored machines present today in 2013.
Perhaps the future ones are there, too. The holographic brain-cap models. You know, the ones with all neural interface, no keyboard or mouse required. I can think, see, or “remember” inputs and outputs. The cerebral dust that networks and interfaces with the world around me. Now I have two physical eyes, and many, many remotes networked into myself. Humans have become an electronic hive-mind. Look out, universe, here comes the swarm, and it is us. Too much to comprehend for now. Sure thankful for the AMD 6 Gig model on my desk on this discrete, not-yet-implanted Sunday.
When the Wetware works well, everything is now, fresh, before the mind's eye. It is a wonder to behold the differences manifesting this last thirty or so years. Party on, cyber dudes, and keep on interfacing.