26 April, 2008

And when the larder's looted

A coward dies many times before his death. The valiant never taste of death but once.
–William Shakespeare
And when the larder’s looted
Or the jewel cases rifled
Or when the milk is missing
Or another Peke’s been stifled
Or the greenhouse glass is broken
And the trellis past repair
There’s the wonder of the thing:
Macavity’s not there!

Macavity: The mystery Cat, Andrew Lloyd Weber
My cat is such a pussy. I wish there was a pun intended, but really I just know of no other way to say it. She is a little pussy. What other creature does not protect its territory? I am fine that she is not aggressive, but anything should defend its domain when it is invaded by an intruder that is up to no good.
I suppose it is my fault, since I spoil her and we don’t play really really rough. I think she was separated from her family when she was too young, so she probably never had the benefit of rough-housing with her litter to learn to fight. And even when we do get rough, I always win (opposable thumb and all) so she usually retreats if it goes further than strong words.
Though I am a peaceful man, and I think violence solves nothing, it still nevertheless must sometimes be utilized. I am happy to share, but I will not be robbed. It is not a case of solving the situation at that point.
I have often wondered why she won’t eat while I am not there. I figured it was evolutionary; I figured it went back to where they needed someone else to watch their backs while they fed so they didn’t get attacked. I had hoped she would outgrow it when she learned that no one was going to steal her food here.
I learned yesterday I was wrong.
There has been a stray cat snooping around the house lately. It gets really bold when I leave the window open for her to go in and out, but I thought that no stray would dare enter a domicile. It was always too shy to let me get close to it when our paths crossed outside.
Yeah, and the Iraqis would greet us as liberators. Like I said, anything will defend its domain…
Yesterday I came home after a short jaunt to the store to gather some grub making essentials, and I noticed that Brenna’s food dish was already empty. I had just filled it a few hours before, and she nibbles all day on a bowl of food rather than woofing it down. (She’s dainty.)
I got suspicious that maybe the other cat had been coming in while I was gone and gobbling up her food. So I closed the screen so it could not get in. I had assumed the cat was already gone. Surely if it was still here then Brenna would be kicking its ass or at least alerting me to its location.
Wrong again.
Later that night, I noticed Brenna on point in the hallway by the bedroom. I walked into the bedroom and it smelled like cat piss. The stray had been in there marking its territory. If South Park was scientific, I should have been seeing major boobage, but my bedroom remained devoid of boobs both real and imaginary.
I opened the window and got the fan to air out the room, and then I heard a high pitched growl. I felt like Papa Bear when I realized that the Someone was still there.
I tried to coax the cat out, but he was having none of that. It was really a very pretty cat and I wanted to make friends. However he was, unlike Brenna, still fully equipped with front claws and seemed more than willing to use them. The only way I could even get close to him was to get down on my stomach and put my face on the same level and reach my arm way up under my bed. The cat would have had the advantage if he had attacked since my height and tool making abilities would not have come into play.
So, sadly, I had to resort to trying to chase the cat (bow wow wow yippie yie yippie yo) out of the house. Luckily, he only broke one lamp in his distress. It was actually a wall sconce in the bathroom when it tried to climb the walls. Poor fucker.
I won’t leave the window open for Brenna when I am gone any longer. Hopefully she won’t be terrorized at her water hole again. I am glad she is a hippie like me, but how do I teach her that sometimes you gotta fight to be a, er, cat?

03 April, 2008

It should be a TI-69, because math can blow me

I didn’t go to my Diff Eq class on Wednesday, which is always dangerous, because we have a quiz every Friday, and I am shooting myself in the foot if I don’t go to class. I tell myself that I can catch up by going over the teachers notes and teaching myself. Of course, I also tell myself that I am good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. Lately I seem to be wrong a lot.
The quiz was over the Volter Integral or some such, and I had never seen it at all. It looked about 75% like a standard inverse Laplace transform problem, with initial values for y and y prime, but for some reason one of my convoluted inverse Laplace transforms functions, my f(t), was showing up, not as a function I could transform from F(s) into f(t) and then solve for the initial values, but just as f(t-(tau)), which I had no idea what to do with, because it was already in the form I wanted to get it. I can’t transform one side without transforming the other, and I didn’t know how to take the second transform, if that was even possible. And, yes, I buy my commas at Costco cause they are cheaper in bulk.
(oh, and if any of that makes no sense whatsoever, you are not real far from where I stand. I struggle hard to keep up. Math is one of the many things I call ‘not my strong suit.’ I have a lot of those but I wear mostly jeans)
So, anyway, I decided to treat F(s) as if it equalled the variable of integration, t, which transformed into 1/s^2, but then with the rest of the inverse transforms that i calculated it left me with a horrendous partial fraction algebraic problem before I could solve for the final solution using the initial values. And I had ten minutes total for the quiz. Five were spent figuring out my strategy.
I did my best, but still barely got the partial fraction decomposition done before the ten minutes was up. And wasn’t close to solving the initial value problem. I figured I had done something wrong with the erroneous F(s); I thought it had been covered when I was skipping and so I humbled myself after class to ask the teacher what I had done wrong.
Turns out that he had made the mistake. The F(s) was not supposed to be there, so it was no wonder I had no idea how to transform it properly. So I got full credit for the quiz, even though it is not certain I would have known how to do it even if he had not made a mistake. I was still clueless about that particular integral. Just don’t seem like it should work out that way. I got off easy.
My favorite show in the world is Bing Bang Theory. I laugh and laugh and it makes everything better.

Oh, winter, where is thy sting

Wind whispers softly
Springtime kisses Mother Earth
Winter, shunned, retreats
     -J.S. McAnarney

Mesopotamia, Babylon, Greece, Rome…all of these civilizations had their time of glory and all of them fell inexorably into decay. But following each of them, arguably, was a civilization which outshone each of her predecessors.
I wonder sometimes if it is necessary for the past to be destroyed before the future can be born. Usually I come to the conclusion that it is. My ancestors thought so, as well.
According to tradition, the Oak King would take His throne on Midsummer, the solar equinox, when the sun was at its full height and glory. He would gather the sun’s energy through the summer and throughout the gathering of harvests’ bounty. He would preside over the burning of the last sheaves of wheat or corn or barley at Mabon, a precursor for his act at Yule. At Yule, when the sun was at its weakest, the Holly King would return to claim the throne and the Oak King would return to the Earth. His stored energy would pour out into the Earth, sustaining Her until the sun returned in the Spring.
This restorative act is repeated in the mythology of almost all cultures in all of recorded history. I think it is because even the most primitive of our ancestors knew implicitly what so many of us have forgotten today: that one cannot take without giving back. Nature demands this, and if it is not given back willingly, it will be taken by force.
I was walking through the woods in Germany one summer and I came across the most beautiful sight. It was just a rotting deadfall, but it had the prettiest blue flowers growing on it, surrounded by some of the lushest green foliage and lichen I have ever seen. As I stayed still and looked closer, I saw that the little microcosm was teeming with life; spiders and ants and butterflies; I knew that if I dug into and under the rotting wood I would discover grubs and worms and maybe termites, all feasting on the bounty of Energy that the tree had stored up while living. I heard the song of the birds in the forest who assuredly dined either at the place I sat or at other establishments like it.
There was so much life in that one spot directly resulting from the death of that single tree. It would be many years yet before I read Speaker for the Dead, but I think understood that day.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust is a phrase I have heard too often lately, and I think it is misleading. Ashes and dust are lifeless and I know that the meaning is that we come from nothing and we go into nothing, but I don’t buy it.
I came from an act of passion and even if I die peacefully my body will be the source of life for many civilizations as it decomposes; not one bit of my existence, before birth or after death, is lifeless or without spirit. Ashes and dust? I think not.

02 April, 2008

Four Fundamentals of Marksmanship

I try hard not to get pissed at stuff; not so much because nothing ever pisses me off but because it rarely does any good to get flustered about shit. That is why it is easier to score expert on the range but a little more difficult when the fucker starts shooting back. It doesn’t help to get mad and start spraying bullets. It only increases collateral damage.
So I don’t like to get pissed, because I’d feel guilty at the inevitable collateral damage. I’m not so Zen I have never snapped at someone when they didn’t deserve it simply because I was pissed about something else; I make mistakes. I consider it a huge mistake to take out my frustrations on someone that doesn’t deserve it, because there is no justice in it. I am just being a bully.
So, though I have done it, I try to at least be self aware enough and humble enough to be able to go back and apologize when I realize I have been an ass to someone for no reason other than they were in the way. The more I do that, the less likely I am to fly off the handle at someone for nothing, because I hate humbling myself like that.
I am not against humility, but I don’t like having to apologize for something I knew better than to do in the first place. Too much effort; it would be easier just to never be an ass.
The last thing you do before you squeeze the trigger is stop breathing; preferably at the natural pause in respiration, but you don’t always have that extra microsecond to wait. The pause in breathing increases the steadiness of your aim, maybe not by much, but maybe enough to make it count.
I have found that if I do the same thing before I say something, consciously take a second to pause, I am less likely to cause collateral damage with my words.

01 April, 2008

Fuck Zeus

I try to write here about all the beauty that I saw in the world. But even though I try to write about beauty, drama always seems to find me. I am not totally innocent, of course. No one ever is.  I will keep trying.  It is all I can do.  I will probably fail. It is what I seem to be best at.
Every time I get something started, something seems to come along and pull the rug out from under me. It doesn’t matter if it is school, work, relationships, or financial success. I can count on it all going to shit in short order. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just be a hobo and quit trying to make something of this life.
Even a homeless person can go into the library and read a book, so what more do I really need? There are lots of things I want, but what more do I really need? Love and affection seem fleeting, anyway. Can’t take money with me. If I eat too much I just have to exercise more. What do I really want?
I know it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I think I am going to fail, I will. If I think things are going to go wrong, they are. But, still, sometimes I feel like Job, and it makes me angry. I do try. I try very hard. Why does it always go bad? What am I doing wrong? What can I do better?
I’ll keep trying. It is all I know how to do.