Cleo's Patra
Read A Little Dream For Me

Reading literature takes you to a place where you can dream of the possible…… reading dull manuals puts you to sleep and teaches you nothing.

Like most parents and grandparents, I walk the fine line. Teaching the kids useful skills and how things work without crushing their creativity and sense of wonder about this most amazing universe we share. It gets difficult at times. Throwing something into the air and watching it fall to the ground is an endless source of amusement to a one year old.

[center][img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Newtons_cradle_animation_book_2.gif[/img]
[size=8pt] A Newton’s Cradle is proof that Mommy or Daddy is a wizard, and is handy for enforcing bed times.[/size][/center]

But, by the time they are three, they want to know why. Not only want to know, but demand to know. You are on the spot now. Your kid thinks you know absolutely everything about everything and trusts you completely when you explain things. Think work pressure is bad? Try the sad look on their little faces when you say those three words, terrifying to a child: “I don’t know.” It is a crisis of faith, worse than any monk or nun has suffered, since their all knowing God is right there in front of them. The person they rely on for food, tickles, silly songs at bath time, and to deal with the monsters under the bed is no longer perfect.
It’s harsh. Tempting to put it off or brush it off. “You’ll understand when you are older” has prompted more than one child to to invent a [url=http://riteshjsr.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/recurring-motifs-in-calvin-hobbes-the-cardboard-box-2/]time machine out of a cardboard box[/url] and various toys in order to get to the magic age where they understand all things.

You got a choice here. You can lie. You can study all night and work out how to explain infinity to a three year old. Or you can teach them magic.

[center][img]http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~chaki/magic/magic.gif[/img]
[size=8pt]Not this type[/size][/center]

If you think about it, reading is a form of practical magic. Depending on the book you pick, a person’s hopes, knowledge, dreams or nightmares is piped directly into your brain. No speaking needed. It is right there, their voice in your head from miles away and years past. Ink squiggles on pounded wood have the ability to whisper to you. Tell you things you never knew, take you places you have never seen, show you emotions you will hopefully never feel. You breath a sigh of relief. Your kid can read, and beyond asking what the odd word means, you are free and clear. No more worries about explaining things.

Yeah, right.

The “why” trickle just became a fire hose, blasting questions at you mercilessly. Kids don’t have filters. The idea that the sun is a big ball of nuclear explosions and the idea there are sharks that can fly are both equally valid in their eyes. Sure, you can flat out tell them “This book is real, this book is for fun and not real.” Do that, you may as well park them in front of the TV for all the good it will do.

One of the favorite games we have is to read something out loud. The person reading is terribly proud of themselves. Sometimes they stumble on the big words and get prompted with a quiet whisper, but everyone listens. It can be absolutely anything. A fairy tale, a local newspaper article, a chapter on grafting fruit trees - anything. Then the paper, pens and crayons come out. The only rule is it has to be related to what they just read or heard. It can be writing, drawings, blueprints. Whatever they want. Just to keep the balance between creativity and information alive.

The Case Against Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design (ID) crops up from time to time, as a sort of middle ground between Evolution and Creation. Like a red headed stepchild, it is rightly despised by both sides.

A moment’s thought can prove that ID simply cannot exist.

Since ladies come first is the only polite way of dealing with things, we will look at them first. They seem to have it good on the surface. Far more visual acuity than men, a much broader range of hearing, more sensory nerves per square centimeter of skin, faster reflexes, and a higher pain tolerance.
Sounds great, doesn’t it. Scratch a woman and find a super soldier. Except for certain times of the month, when the charming, witty, sarcastic person sitting next to you is suddenly subject to crying fits and insta-rage. Sure, you get used to it, but it’s a poor design if looked at from an efficiency standpoint. At the time a woman is most vulnerable, with a nice blood scent to attract every carnivore in the area, she goes nuts. “Body not pregnant? Defcon 3.”
It is far worse though when she does get pregnant. Hot and cold at the same time, willing to eat things that would make a goat puke and culminating in squeezing a large living being out through a rather small opening.

That is an intelligent design?

Of course, women have it easy compared to men. Any God that designs “in his own image” such that the simple action of crossing your legs too fast leads to instant and paralyzing agony is less a merciful God and more one vindictive SOB. Maybe he’s a civil engineer. Only they would combine a waste system with a recreational area. And don’t get me started on the prostate. Take a vital part of the reproductive system - something we are supposed to use constantly, according to both command and the vagaries of women’s hormones - and wrap it around the bowels. No sex? You are also not going to have a decent crap.

In more general terms, your spine has a 50 year lifespan. Your knees, somewhat important for doing basic tasks such as moving, have a similar lifespan, substantially shorter than the threescore and 10 we are told is the norm. An organ we don’t even use can explode at random and kill you.

Taking this evidence, we may draw one of three conclusions.

Evolution is imperfect.
ID does not exist.
ID does exist, but the designer is a bit of a dick and really doesn’t like us much.

Anniversary

According to tumblr, this blog, intermittently updated and inexplicably followed by several people, turned 3 today.

Reading back, it’s an odd mix. Bad philosophy. Bad advice. Memories. Pop culture deconstruction.

It’s been fun. On to the next year!

Work in Progress

Been working on a thing. A series of interconnected stories. Some of them are 6k words, some are 1500 words. Length doesn’t really matter, it takes what it takes to write the tale.

Confident enough in it that I’ll finish it and it may even find a publisher. If not, I’ll put it out on my own. It’s stories worth telling.

Appetite for Destruction

Been a while. Been busy and any precious writing time has gone to the works in progress. It happens.

Tonight, I was woken to the shrill squeeeeee of the smoke alarm. Check the baby’s room first, wife grabs her and wraps her in case we need to run, then the bathroom. The boiler is in there, so it is a candidate. Nothing. Run downstairs and smoke is billowing out of the kitchen.

A casserole. Burnt to a cinder in the oven. There is a hell of a mess to clean up, and my favorite pot will most likely need to be thrown out, but at least there was no actual fire.

Don’t go blaming me - I were asleep when it was put on. No idea it was even in there. Yet - who picked up the blame for this? A screaming row over a screaming child is NOT what you need at 2 AM.

A Musing Thoughts

Remember the cartoons with a little angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other? Writing is a lot like that.

The angel is easy. I call her Mel, after one of the 9 original muses, and she will sporadically plonk herself down on my shoulder and ram a tale into my ear. Sometimes she whispers, sometimes she screams loud enough to wake the dead. Sometimes it is a short burst of inspiration, sometimes she won’t shut up for weeks. Sometimes she’ll give a snort of disgust and disappear again since the last tale has not been finished. Her visits are nearly always welcome though.

The devil though, he’s a fucker. He never appears straight away. He waits for a couple of days then settles on my shoulder in a comfortable glow of brimstone and says “This is fucking terrible. You should scrap it.” I dread his visits. Sometimes he is right. It is fucking terrible.

winkatthemoontonight:

I once read the story of Deke Slayton, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts. He was kept from flying in space on a Mercury mission due to a heart murmur. The Apollo 1 crew of Gus, Ed, and Roger wanted to give him something he wouldn’t get officially from NASA: astronaut wings. The men had a pin made for Deke that they planned to take to space with them on their flight, but on January 27th, 1967 the men were killed in a fire during the testing of their Saturn V rocket. The widows of Apollo 1 gave Deke the pin, saying that the men had gotten it for him because he exemplified everything they thought a good astronaut should be. He wore that pin for the rest of his life, even after he got his “real” wings after being medically cleared and flew to space in July, 1975. I’ve met the modern-age Deke. His name is Brian and he is the strongest man I know. He is a member of the United States Navy and has served as an ordnance man and is now attending the University of Michigan to become an officer. His dream is to become a Naval pilot and then go on to do flight test work, then onward to become an astronaut. 
Brian is now battling thyroid cancer for the second time. His first bout with it ended with surgery to remove his thyroid. This past fall he went to get a physical given to him by the Navy and they confirmed what he had feared: they would not allow him to fly due to the removal of his thyroid. A man who’s life has been about becoming an astronaut is now told he cannot fly because he has SURVIVED cancer. What comfort can you give to someone in such a situation? One month later he was re-diagnosed with the cancer.
Next Saturday Brian is graduating from the University of Michigan with high academic standing, an officer position in the NROTC, and a smile on his face. Immediately following graduation he will be completing another round of cancer treatment. Following his treatment he will see if the Navy will keep him on in the officer position he has earned. If not, he plans on going to grad school for engineering, then applying for a job at SpaceX.
Why is Brian like Deke? Because they both embody everything a good astronaut should be: strong, courageous, smart, calm, a team player with impeccable leadership skills. Brian would be THE perfect astronaut if he were given the chance.
So it may not be the gold pin from the crew of Apollo 1 but I thought I would do my best to replicate that gift. Pictured is my graduation present to Brian as he starts the next leg in his journey. My hope is that he will always remember that the world would be extremely lucky to have him in the astronaut corps, remember that even if the Navy doesn’t believe in him, everyone else does, and remember that Deke eventually flew in space after much perseverance and he can too. 
Here’s to the people in our lives that fight every single day for their dreams, no matter how many obstacles they may face. Here’s to the cancer survivors who have come through so much to be here today. Here’s to the people not given the opportunities they have earned. 
Here’s to Brian. 

Some shit just makes you cry.

winkatthemoontonight:

I once read the story of Deke Slayton, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts. He was kept from flying in space on a Mercury mission due to a heart murmur. The Apollo 1 crew of Gus, Ed, and Roger wanted to give him something he wouldn’t get officially from NASA: astronaut wings. The men had a pin made for Deke that they planned to take to space with them on their flight, but on January 27th, 1967 the men were killed in a fire during the testing of their Saturn V rocket. The widows of Apollo 1 gave Deke the pin, saying that the men had gotten it for him because he exemplified everything they thought a good astronaut should be. He wore that pin for the rest of his life, even after he got his “real” wings after being medically cleared and flew to space in July, 1975. 

I’ve met the modern-age Deke. His name is Brian and he is the strongest man I know. He is a member of the United States Navy and has served as an ordnance man and is now attending the University of Michigan to become an officer. His dream is to become a Naval pilot and then go on to do flight test work, then onward to become an astronaut. 

Brian is now battling thyroid cancer for the second time. His first bout with it ended with surgery to remove his thyroid. This past fall he went to get a physical given to him by the Navy and they confirmed what he had feared: they would not allow him to fly due to the removal of his thyroid. A man who’s life has been about becoming an astronaut is now told he cannot fly because he has SURVIVED cancer. What comfort can you give to someone in such a situation? One month later he was re-diagnosed with the cancer.

Next Saturday Brian is graduating from the University of Michigan with high academic standing, an officer position in the NROTC, and a smile on his face. Immediately following graduation he will be completing another round of cancer treatment. Following his treatment he will see if the Navy will keep him on in the officer position he has earned. If not, he plans on going to grad school for engineering, then applying for a job at SpaceX.

Why is Brian like Deke? Because they both embody everything a good astronaut should be: strong, courageous, smart, calm, a team player with impeccable leadership skills. Brian would be THE perfect astronaut if he were given the chance.

So it may not be the gold pin from the crew of Apollo 1 but I thought I would do my best to replicate that gift. Pictured is my graduation present to Brian as he starts the next leg in his journey. My hope is that he will always remember that the world would be extremely lucky to have him in the astronaut corps, remember that even if the Navy doesn’t believe in him, everyone else does, and remember that Deke eventually flew in space after much perseverance and he can too. 

Here’s to the people in our lives that fight every single day for their dreams, no matter how many obstacles they may face. Here’s to the cancer survivors who have come through so much to be here today. Here’s to the people not given the opportunities they have earned. 

Here’s to Brian. 

Some shit just makes you cry.

It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.

L.R.Knost (via hopefullyraw)

Doing both is infinitely better.

Joy

One of the things I love is watching people take joy in what they are doing. It doesn’t really matter what: painting, singing, writing, just walking down the street. The joy in doing is the key.

It is rare. Possibly one of the reasons I have never really been a fan of porn and only a casual watcher of movies - how many times have you seen actors just having fucking fun? I mean, real fun.

For example, click here. If you have ever seen someone having as much fun with her clothes on, you are a lucky person. 2 minutes 30 in, when she says basically “fuck it” and cranks it up, the smile on her face is huge. No idea who she is, it is just a random vid on YouTube of a song I like. I like it more now. Important enough to me to go in a separate bookmark folder for things to turn the dark away for a short time.

Another friend takes an absolutely irrepressible joy in life. All of it, not just the good bits. You simply can not talk to her or read her posts without smiling. The humor, fondness and happiness shines through everything she says and writes.

Once said that some of us walk in the shadows so that people can walk in the sun. Seeing them enjoy it - that is it’s own reward. Go forth and love life.

Boycott or Buycott, Which Is It?

Had a strange experience this morning.

It started with a phone call yesterday from my supernaturally organised foreman. A couple were coming in to commission some custom furniture for their new home and they insisted on talking to me. She wasn’t good enough to take the specs, they wanted my presence. Normally I’d say “Tell them to fuck off” and hang up, but we have been damned short on work recently so I quashed my natural bad temper and said OK, I’d meet them this morning at 7.

Get in about 6 AM, check the work orders and the progress on things then start to work on a pulpit we are restoring for a semi local church. Mostly retired from the sharp end of the business now, but I like to keep my hand in from time to time. Besides, it is peaceful.

Tommy, our delivery driver and my foreman’s son is the sweeper and human forklift. He arrives about 6:30 and puts the coffee on. He is a wonderful young man - not exactly all there mentally, we’d have called him slow back in the day - but what he does understand he takes very seriously indeed. There is nothing more serious than making sure I get my coffee in the morning.

7 AM arrives and with it, no clients. Clients are always late, you get used to that fast and don’t let it bother you. The smart ones wait for high tide. We are right on the river and it can get somewhat odorous at low tide. Shrug and carry on working. Vonny (Yvonne to the rest of the world) shows up and starts working out the day’s work schedule. I carry on working on this pulpit.

Finally the clients show up. Normally they ring the bell at the office door and are let in, but these two walked through the open loading door onto the shop floor instead. Tommy greeted them, got my attention, took them through to the office and sorted them with a brew while I cleaned up. All normal. Steve rolled up to start work. Like everyone else, he works a 40 hour week with hours of his choosing.

They looked uncomfortable. There is a lot of small talk involved in doing a design - you design for the people, not what they say. Eventually they stood up and said “We’ll get back to you.” in that tone that you just know you will never see these people again.

I have no idea why. It wasn’t the designs, we had not even got on to that. So it was either the coffee, the work I was doing when they came in, or the people who work there. If it was the coffee, fuck em. Best damned coffee in all of London. If it was me working on a pulpit, fuck em twice as hard. We take commissions from anyone. If it was my staff, I better never see them again.