Sunday, June 1, 2014


It's been a long time since I've written ANYTHING for #ROW80, or really tried to start any kind of schedule, since the A-to-Z challenge, and it's really time I did. Without any kind of schedule or balance, I tend to zone for days, or just react to whatever is going on around me. Not much there to think about, and certainly not much of a way to live, when someone has gone through the hell I have. I could say I'm merely coasting, but that's not my style; now that JC has started to feel better and we seem to have put that behind us, and I've recovered from the “shock and awe” of A-to-Z, I feel it's time to start putting out some effort in the writerly part of my life once again. The viola part of it is never a problem, now that I have my e.t. (essential tremor) under control, but I do feel another chance has been tossed my way and I'd be stupid not to grab that brass ring, along with a mixed metaphor or two.

So, it's back to the beginning of “Music of the Spheres”, to untangle what is surely (or, maybe not) one of the more fucked-up ideas for a speculative-fiction, or sci-fi book in a long while and see if I can possibly straighten it out, do some editing mo-jo and make it something that people will want to read. To that end, I might try writing a few short stories, or something along the way, as I've never written fiction, so I might want to think “baby steps, baby steps” before attempting the Boston Marathon. Or not. Anybody who has ever told me “no” has had cause to regret it, although in this case, I might take the advice of much more seasoned authors than myself. I have a cute idea for #StoryDam; if nothing else, I get to hang with them on Twitter and they always throw a good party!

The only other thing(s) of note here recently, were these:

I do a butt-ton of work for SETI@home as a volunteer and Dan Werthimer lets us know what is going on with the project run at Cal Berkeley. He is Director of the SETI Research Center and he and Seth Shostak of SETI, along with countless and nameless others, have created open-source programming that have created spinoffs of the original SETI project. The full text of his speech to Congress last week can be found here.

I work on several different projects, but my primary team is located some 70 miles north of me, and is called “The ********”. I kid and tell everyone that my team are a bunch of retired Navy SEALS, spooks and people from the NSA, CIA and whatnot. Most of them aren't around and a 65-member team has 7 active members. But, between the 7 of us, we can crunch some numbers. Being a total numbers wonk, I go and look at our world-standings. We've been as high as number 462 on the charts globally; this week, in the U.S., we're number 71, ahead of U.C. Berkeley. We seem to be in a vicious winner-take-all war with the Iowa Hawkeyes, as we routinely swap 70th and 71st positions with them daily. This volunteer work is a stone-cold bitch! And this is just the USA! I haven't even mentioned the Russians!

I still can't believe we trounced MIT; they must have had finals. . .

Teams slap down challenges; I feel like they're holding Royal Flushes, and I'm stuck with a pair of 8s; the air is fraught with 18th century-style duels. Statistics are king and we have MIT huffing along in our rear-view mirror! Now, if only our errant spooks would return from their missions and do some heavy lifting, we could leave MIT in the dust; we've already buried “Get Off My Lawn”; it's time for us to take on “DigitalDingusBoinc” and sweep the field!

Is There Anybody Out There? Not just a cool Pink Floyd tune from "The Wall" but an existential and philosophical question. Math and Metaphysics are mapping the Milky Way.

But this is all in the BOINC realm of volunteers and people who believe that using their computers and their smarts to try and detect E. T. The spinoff from the original software is being used for everything from Breast Cancer research to mining Bitcoins. Metaphysically speaking, we have run the gamut from attempting to discover the origin of the universe to running what appears to be the selling of current-day Amway products, or possible Ponzi schemes. I may be misinformed, but at least it's misinformation I've parsed myself. Leave my shibboleths alone!

But that isn't even what sent me into an uproar last week. What happened last week was Dan Werthimer went and gave a nice little speech before Congress. I found out about it in the usual manner, which is a nag screen from my BOINC software, so I read the speech and thought, "Gee, wonderful things are happening up in the skies and all, and we're parsing and analyzing the data received from Areceibo just as fast as we can. Dan thinks it'd be a swell idea if Congress went along and helped on the funding". This isn't the first time in recent months that Congress has held a hearing on aliens. In December, the Science House Committee held a two-hour meeting about the ongoing search for extraterrestrial life. The publication, The Wire said at the time that the hearing was the “best thing Congress had done in months.” I tend to agree.

"Congress Debates the Finer Points of Aliens" I suggest each member just look across the aisle; or better yet, in a mirror. Here is the HuffPo article.

What I got a bit pissed off about was HuffPo's coverage of Dan's speech. Understand that I exist in a culture where the idea of E.T. being here is taken for granted, and even though that is the text of Dan's speech boiled down, it's not that simple, and the wording of HuffPo's Headline sounds as though this is not a serious undertaking. We operate under the assumption that E. T. and friends have been here, (wherever “here” is; it doesn't necessarily have to be boots on the ground) for some time, and this is nothing new for us. We're crunching numbers fed to us from satellite arrays like crazy to prove uncategorically, that YES, THERE IS INTELLIGENT LIFE THAT DID NOT ARISE FROM THE PLANET EARTH. I have a scientist uncle who based a whole set of mathematical equations on his observations of flying unidentified craft and their motions that defied E=MC2 and the math works; you can't get much more truthier than that. He, for reasons obvious to anyone who's been around the naysayers for any length of time, disappeared off the grid several decades ago, not because he felt he was in any danger, but because he was tired of having his bona fides questioned. Who can blame him? If I had to play a four-octave scale and 50 etudes before every concert I ever performed in, I would have packed it in early, too.

But, as long as knowledge is used as a form of currency and it matters so in certain circles and in politics and in the establishment of world hegemony, there will never be a reckoning about many ideas and past events. Black helicopters and men in black will be talked about in whispers. It doesn't matter whether they exist or they don't; the IDEA of them does, because we see these things as a symbol of power and manipulators of populations, with the ability to either sway or silence us via covert means, and they are powerful indeed. So, when HuffPo (who should know better) posts an idiotic headline like the one above, I get a bit. . . cra-zy. Not in the sense of haul-off-to-the-Loony-Bin-Baker-Act cra-zy. Been there, done that. But cra-zy in the sense that, the journalism is irresponsible, and to me, that is unconscionable.

Although people who read HuffPo, are by and large, much better informed than the eejits who watch any type of broadcast or cable news, with the exception of BBC or Al-Jazeera, there are still a goodly number of people who are not well-informed and do not think critically at all who read the HuffPo. Just try reading the comments on a story that is not all that complex, and you'll see what I mean. Without any kind of epistemological imperative to seek the truth, they are more than willing to swallow any old guff handed to them. Maybe I am the one who is lacking here. I ferret out facts and snuffle up data to buttress my arguments, because I believe in the truth and I have no platform or agenda of any kind that I am trying to push onto someone else. I expected better of HuffPo. They're not Politico, nor are they WaPo; they usually try to gather news from many different sources, as well as using their own journalists, rather than rely on stringers, or feeds from other news agencies.

Or, maybe because the story comes out of Washington D. C.'s hallowed grounds, HuffPo just can't help themselves and they're caught up in the Never-Never Land world of Brobdingnagian shenanigans, or may have contracted the peculiar disease that seems to afflict all and sundry who end up in Foggy Bottom, although my Twitter pal, Jason Linkins, who writes for HuffPo and is a cracker-jack political analyst seems to have no trouble discerning the make-believe and wish-it-was from the slap-in-your face reality. But, I have really, really digressed. Color me pissed.

No doubt, SETI@home will survive on a shoestring and we'll all cobble together some wild financing and up our donations. I understand Bitcoin is in on this; oh, yay! A brand name that is better-associated with drug-trafficking and probably arms-dealing will bail out the SETI@home while taking a hefty chunk of BITCOINage for themselves. But that's alright; we're all one in this together on this big, enormous project that involves the entire world. Right?

About the only other thing that is newsworthy on this here home front is that no one has died here on Nebraska Avenue in a while. That's a good thing. That's not to say, we haven't had to run out in the middle of the street to make sure Señor Cerveza didn't get run over, when he fell down, but he'll live to annoy us another day. And that's all right.

Mama has a new thing. For those following along at home, Mama is the stray cat that adopted JC a few years ago, when she was pregnant and had been thrown away. We lost the kitten, and JC had Mama spayed and she's been with us ever since. When JC had his heart attack in February, he was in the hospital for several days. Mama is used to having the front door left open and coming and going as she pleases, but with JC gone, I couldn't take the risk of leaving it open, at all; day or night, so Mama had to become an indoor kitty, while he was gone.

Sweet Moses on a buttered cracker, I hope to never go through that again. It's supposed to be, if not easy, at least do-able, to turn an outdoor cat into an indoor one. Not so with Mama. She didn't tear anything up, or do anything bad, or not use her litter box. She's very clean, in all aspects. But, she became depressed, when she couldn't find a way out of the house. Oh. My. God. I took this sweet, little animal, who was already missing JC (at one point, she thought I'd stuffed him in the cupboards, I think) and made her become something sad and miserable. It was awful and it broke my heart. As soon as JC came home, I let her out and she ran off; I went in the backyard and cried and cried. She had run off and I was sure we had lost her. I cried more for the harm I had done this sweet animal, who had never done anything to anyone, than for what I thought was her loss, although it would have broken JC's heart.

Well, she came back, within half a day as if nothing had happened. She was so happy to see JC and is back to her normal self. She's pretty spoiled, but she deserves it. She'd been abused before, and bears the scars of either a beating, or a horrible cat fight and is blind in her right eye. The only thing that has changed from her sojourn inside the house, is that she comes inside to use her litter box. No more pooping out in the backyard for her. There's one other thing she does, that I have never had any other cat in my life do and this is really something.

The other evening, I was on my computer and Mama had been running in and out of the house all day. Generally, she's a stealth cat; you don't know she's around, unless she's hungry, and I usually feed her between 7 and 8 pm. JC feeds her in the morning, and I feed her in the evening. Cats are hardwired and if you mess with their routine it really confuses them. Mama is so hardwired, that for a long time, I had to sit in my chair on the porch; it was the only way she'd approach me. Now, she expects me to be in my computer chair. If I'm sitting on the couch, she's not too sure who I am, I suspect, until she gets close enough to smell me, then she's fine.

Anyway, this particular evening, I didn't have my headphones on, for a change, so I was conscious of the ambient sounds around me. My hearing began to register from a distance, a small “eeeeeeeeee” that was coming closer, but there was no cessation in the “eeeeeeeeee”, it just kept coming closer and getting louder. Now, it was “EEEEEE” but wasn't stopping, it just kept coming closer, and still, getting louder. Now, it was “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!” and Mama came through the room at a brisk trot, on her way to the kitchen, where JC was making tea, or Ramen Noodles, or brownies; I can't remember. I was just astounded; I had never heard a cat do that. As she passed by, the “EEEEEE!!” gained it's apex, much like a Doppler effect, and then began to retreat in the distance, now “eeeeeeeeeee” once again, and then fainter, “eeeeeeeee”, as she arrived in the kitchen to beg from JC. A drive-by MEOW, without the M and the OW. Cats are a wonder; as da Vinci said, “The smallest of the felines is a Masterpiece!”

Mama, beside my leg, enjoying a siesta on the porch.

Sorry for the length of the post, and my apologies for my lengthy absence, between Mother's Day and now. This week is #IWSG, along with #ROW80 check in for Wednesday. I hope to have something to report regarding editing of both “Music of the Spheres” and the material I have planned for my e-book on my life. I have enough material that covers my early life and school, careers in music and computers, my days in the homeless shelter, up to the present.


D Biswas said...

Mama looks like a sweetheart-- great to know what you've been up to, Mary, and wishing you well.

Viola Fury said...

@Dearest D,

Up to my usual shenanigans; fixing a sick computer right now, that is turning out to be sicker than I thought! We're well, happy, and ticking along. Sometimes, life is just THAT good. Always so nice to hear from you. More writing ahead; I can't justify not using my lesser talent in composing the written word.

I did get a 2nd (or 3rd chance) and the viola is always there, rather like Holmes, to be picked up and sawed away on, when I've written myself into a corner!

As for Mama, she does her best to help, or perhaps "hamper" is the more apt term. If someone is doing something in the house, she feels a need to be in on the action!

Always a delight to hear from you, and I am enjoying "Doing Max Vinyl"; I enjoy this kind of noir-ish writing. There's a fellow in Tampa, named Tim Dorsey, who writes about the crazy stuff in this town. I'll find one of my favorites for you. And yes, Tampa and Florida in general is as screwed up as he portrays them!

Thanks again for everything; I hope you too are doing well, and I hope you have some measure of calm in your life, before the next round of challenges/blog craziness begins! Mary <3