Blowing Off Some Dust

I was reminiscing about some old things that I'd written that could never stand alone. Here's one of them - rescued before its ascii characters become brittle and its bits start to drop off. It doesn't work by itself without some background, so I'd better tell you what inspired it.

A certain EK member (who may wish to remain anonymous) posted a message about being freaked out by the crows that were gathering in the tree outside his home. He started wondering if they were an omen for some impending event, or perhaps a punishment for some past sins. He would have taken a picture of them, but lacked a camera.

As is usual in such Dining Room threads there were reply posts suggesting various ways to shoot, stun, roast and/or eat them. One post stated "I thought you said cows" creating some quite humorous cow-in-tree mental images.

A later post from the crow-haunted member noted that his younger sister had just shown signs of her developing womanhood. Based on Dining Room logic it was decided that there was a mystic connection between the "unnatural" appearance of the crows and this natural event.

The Cromen

In the tree the crows are staying, watching windows where I'm playing
"build your own imagined omen" using only wasted time.
Is this normal? Someone tell me. What if some strange curse befell me?
Will these sinister birds of hell become a Hitchcock pantomime?
Oh, to have a digi-camera! Surely that would be sublime.
Shooting crows is not a crime.

"Grab a gun then you can screw 'em. Juice 'em first then pluck and stew 'em.
Grab a sling-shot - that should strew 'em o'er the ground if you're inclined."
"Are those scavengers just seeking for some garbage that's been reeking?"
Yet I find my brain is freaking out and fear has left me blind.
'Tis an omen black and brooding, tightly in my fate entwined,
Forming in my fevered mind.

Dropping just one lonely letter, humour makes my mood much better,
"Cows in trees" my laughs unfetter in a comedy bovine.
Larson-esque cartoons surround me. Twisted tales of six dumfound me.
Thoughts of sins long past now hound me. Can these crows bear news divine?
Still the six stay cawing quietly. I must delve their dark design.
"Speak thy message, murder mine."

Crow the First, whose name was Sorrow, cawed "I envy much the swallow
Who brings summer, spring to follow. Thus his duty's always kind."
Joy, the second crow, responded "Storks with better tasks are bonded.
Bringing babies from beyond'd never, ever be a grind."
Girl, the third, croaked her agreement as she on a branch reclined.
So the sextet spoke its mind.

"Even ravens in the tower, keeping monarchy in power,
Play a role that seems less sour," Boy, the fourth crow, then opined.
Silver praised the bluebird's duty, bringing happiness acute. "The
Albatross," said Gold, "has beauty in the luck it seems to find.
But we crows with ragged voices mourn the task we've been assigned:
Bringing rags to women-kind."

Patently Absurd

Hey Mary-Lou! I got a invenshun. We kun teach them foreignahs ta eat propah insteadah muckin around with them k-nittin-needles. Looky here.

An idiot produced an invention
that showed up his short comprehension
of the way his new tool
made him look like a fool,
but it sated his patent pretention.

Thank you Nike. That's just what we were always needing - magnets stuck to our temples so that we can wear sunglasses without needing ears (see patent). I can see it now.

"We were just having a friendly hug when our temple magnets locked! It was okay for the first half hour, but then the earlier cups of coffee started to have their effect. It was getting uncomfortable. I slid my credit card between them to separate them - now the auto-teller won't read my card."

Now all we need is some perspective correcting sunglasses for Nike marketing executives.

Now, let me think. Where could I wear one of these lockable anti-eating masks?

This gorgeous new addition to our spring accessories range comes in all sizes from fashion model through to grossly obese fashion model.

I thought something like this should have been invented by someone named "Neil O'Reilly". (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.)

Did you realise that if you have ever teased a cat using a laser pointer, you could be guilty of patent infringement? Maybe you could avoid prosecution if you could show that your stated intent was for enjoyment and not for inducing aerobic exercise in an unrestrained cat.

What is claimed is:
1. A method of inducing aerobic exercise in an unrestrained cat comprising the steps of:
(a) directing an intense coherent beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus to produce a bright highly-focused pattern of light at the intersection of the beam and an opaque surface, said pattern being of visual interest to a cat; and
(b) selectively redirecting said beam out of the cat's immediate reach to induce said cat to run and chase said beam and pattern of light around an exercise area.

There are quite a few more at the Obsure Patents Gallery including:

  • A levitationarium for air flotation of humans,
  • An antenna for sending electromagnetic signals faster than the speed of light,
  • A mechanical arm simulating a 'high five' for the release of excitement,
  • A cloaking device for camouflage against a changing background.

Creative Exercises

My creative writing exercise for today was writing a humorous response to a creepy late-night incident. Since it relies very heavily on the material in the original account, I'll just point your browser to it here (requires EK membership).

My creative photography exercise was to try to capture the mood of the Williamstown RSL (Returned Servicemen's League) club where some of my friends were playing 60's hits (Rolling Stones, Beatles, Elvis, T-Rex etc) last night. The club's ex-president came up to have a chat with me later. He saw me taking photos and wanted to make sure I wasn't "up to no good".

I've just finished off reading Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio and started reading PTerry's Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. After the heavy biology lesson I needed some light humour. Darwin's Radio was not a literary masterpiece, but a plausible extrapolation of the mysteries of human genetics developed into a satisfying story. He has kept himself abreast of the very recent moves against gradualism and postulated some fairly radical evolutionary punctuation. His pictures of the politics of science and the mass hysteria of world-wide disease epidemics were disturbing, considering he wrote it all before the SARS outbreak.

Predictions of Future Fantasy

PTerry news -- the blurb about "Monstrous Regiment" on the cover of the uncorrected book proof ('not for distribution or resale') reads:

"It began as a sudden strange fancy...
"Polly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry. Cutting off her hair and wearing trousers was easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape took more time... " And now she's enlisted in the army, and searching for her lost brother. But there's a war on. There's always a war on. And Polly and her fellow recruits are suddenly in the thick of it, without any training, and the enemy is hunting them. "All they have on their side is the most artful sergeant in the army and a vampire with a lust for coffee. Well ... they have the Secret. And as they take the war to the heart of the enemy, they have to use all the resources of ... the Monstrous Regiment."
(Source: Letter by Colin Smythe to Discworld Monthly)
Sounds fun.


Will we see Sauron in the movies?
Some interesting notes on creating a brilliant uber-baddy.

I take back what I said about Yahoo Geocities back on 28th July. It must have been some temporary glitches they were dealing with over about a week. Logins and uploads are back to flawless.

Changing the topic

This journal is all about me, me, me - and I know you would prefer it if was about you. Ok, let's talk about you for a while. I'm feeling a bit drained so you'll have to help me here. Yes I know you've been trying to help but I just don't seem to follow the thread of your conversation. What do you mean you don't like it when I try to second guess your responses? No, it's exactly what you said - or what you were about to say. That's not true!. I've never tried to put words in your mouth. Well, thank you very much! Who's journal is this anyway?

I think I'll change the topic.

Here's a fun site: Insultmonger
It has quotes like:

If all the world's a stage, I want to operate the trap door.
- Paul Beatty

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
- George Bernard Shaw

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
- H. L. Mencken

My pessimism extends to the point of even suspecting the sincerity of the pessimists.
- Jean Rostand

Some people have told me they don't think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen a angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph. They'd be a lot more careful about what they say if they had.
- Linus Torvalds

There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
- Dave Barry

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
- John Kenneth Galbraith

She plunged into a sea of platitudes, and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer, made her confident way towards the white cliffs of the obvious.
- W. Somerset Maugham

Self Reference

Virge: "Welcome to my public journal. This is where I post all sorts of rumblings, ramblings and rhymes. Some of the stuff in here will be verging on sanity. Most of it will go nowhere near."
Reader: "Do I really have to be insane to read this?"
Virge: "Not to read it - but to understand it."

The written word

I tried.


So I very carefully composed an (ultra-polite, politically correct, sensitive, supportive, positive, pro-active, open-door policy, win-win situation, opportunity-not-a-problem) email offering suggestions for ways to communicate the state of the business without inducing a mass brain-exodus or a paralysing depression. I can only hope that he reads it.


I am going to have to have words with the managing director. After his monthly motivational speech half my team need suicide counselling. He gets worse with every speech he delivers despite the fact that our company is running with growth and profit figures that are as good or better than any of our competitors. His speech this afternoon could best be summarised:

Our growth is below target. Our profit is below target. Here are the major factors that influenced it (almost all outside the control of this audience). Other companies in the same market position have moved to South-East Asia. If we don't improve we'll sack more people.

Now some background context: We have a number of new products almost ready for release that should significantly boost both growth and profitability. These are products that the people here have been working on for the past couple of years. Releasing these products to the marketplace is within our control. Do you think we could have a message of encouragement or acknowledgement of the work done and the impact it will have on our future? How can people get motivated about their work when what they actually do doesn't get a mention, but the things they can't control get held up as sticks to club them to death with?


I added some extra's to my web pages last night - Pantomime and the set of limericks about writing limericks. The process served to remind me of my limited multitasking ability as I tried to simultaneously download some files, upload others, listen to music, edit my web pages and chat. I think my brain bandwidth for chatting must have been pretty feeble.

I've started to get my thoughts back to my Ricky project (arising from a concept I alluded to in the May 16th journal). The diversion to sub-2000-word short stories was not so much a set-back as a useful exercise. It gave me some more writing practice and resulted in some interesting story ideas to be followed up later.

I'm starting to identify areas where I have difficulties in putting stories together (apart from the difficulty of actually writing the detailed text). I have one story with a good concept, characters and motives, but lacking in a coherent plot. It would make a decent short story. I have two others with reasonable concepts, characters, environments and plots, but need decent length novels in which to render them - and I'm daunted by the challenge. I have another even bigger concept (of which Pig is only the introduction) that I'm not even prepared to think about starting. My Ricky project has a strong concept, some of the characters, an environment and a plot, but is challenging me as I try to work through the details of the plot and characters.

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