Saturday, September 12, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
In no particular order, here is my current 25 favorite children’s titles. Many of these books are fun to read even if you don’t have and don’t want children. Enjoy.
The Matzo Ball Boy
Anansi The Spider
all the Olivia books
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
all the Toot & Puddle books
Don’t let the
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night
Guess How Much I Love You
Kitten’s First Full Moon
The Happy Lion
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Blue Hat, Green Hat
I Love You, Little One
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
all the Little Critter books
all the Thomas the Tank Engine books
all the Richard Scarry books
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin
The Relatives Came
The Very Quiet Cricket
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
2020 Update. The construction time frame still orbits twenty-years in academic circles. Just letting you know as this post is almost as old as the pyramids. Carry on.
According to mainstream Egyptologists, the Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed roughly over a 20-year period starting in 2580 BCE. Probably on a Monday. It is comprised of approximately 2.3 million stone blocks with an average weight of 2.5 tons or 5000lbs.
Let’s do the math:
1. 20 years multiplied by 365 days a year = 7300 days
2. 2,300,000 blocks divided by 7300 days = 315 blocks a day (315.068493 to be exact)
3. 1 day = 24 hours
4. 315 blocks divided by 24 hours = 13 blocks an hour (13.125 to be exact)
5. 1 hour = 60 minutes
6. 60 minutes divided by 13 blocks = One 2.5 ton
block placed every 4.6 minutes (4.61538462 to be exact)
Really ponder that. For the Great Pyramid to have been built
in twenty years laborers situated a 5000-pound stone every 4.6 minutes 24 hours
a day for 7300 days straight despite errors, mishaps, or elevation. Plus, don’t
forget it hides elaborate interior chambers and shafts. The 4.6-minute speed
does NOT include these design features because no one knows how they were built
in the midst of everything else. Nor does it include the outer polished
limestone layer that was pilfered over the centuries.
Then we have the logistics of producing/distributing food, water,
beer, milk, and housing while disposing of...ahem...solid waste. My exhaustive
online research found an average human spawns 3-8 oz of stercore, as
they say in Latin, per day. Let’s call it 5.5 oz to keep it simple. While the
true size of the onsite workforce is unknown, estimates place it in the many thousands
depending on the time of year. 2500 humans in a single day, for example, could
grace Giza with 859.37 pounds of germ loving detritus requiring constant attention so
sickness didn't sweep away the labors. Or at best, get in the way.
Then we have the sourcing/crafting/replacing of thousands upon thousands of tools. Hammers. Chisels. Ropes. Ramps. Stone saws. Coffee makers. An entire industry all on its own. And what about replacing injured, old, or killed workers? Oh wait. I just remembered how to make more humans. Never mind.
Let your mind wander around a bit on this: the support systems needed to build the pyramids might rival, in some ways, the constructs themselves. And scholars wonder why us foolish, ignorant lay persons fancy outlandish theories about the lost and distant past on odd days. I’m not talking about supernatural or non-human forces here. I’m talking about the amazing weirdos we call humans. It gets a mind to wondering. Unless, of course, the ancients did have anti-gravity devices. The rotten slackers.
Be well, gentle reader.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Late August seemed cold that year. I mention it because my perpetually open window was closed the night something visited me in my room. It was about 1 A.M. and I was having trouble sleeping. Normally I fell asleep to the radio, so I got up and lowered the volume on the off chance it was too loud. The pale light from a passing car’s headlights caught my eye as I slipped back into bed. It flowed from right to left on the wall behind the radio, as its kind always did, and onto the wall adjacent to my bed before disappearing. A few quiet moments passed when my attention was again caught by a dim light, but this time it was coming from my overhead light fixture. Power surge? That is what I thought for the second it took me to realize the illumination was at least twelve inches to right of the fixture. The glow gradually grew in dimension and intensity until it was the size of an over-inflated football and its radiance reflected off the fixture glass and ceiling. The lower half was grayish while the upper half was the color of cream. Then, as slowly as it formed, it dimmed until it was no more. The room was dark and the moment was over. At no time did I feel shock or fright. Whatever had taken place over the prior ten to fifteen seconds left me calm and relaxed. It was the next twenty minutes that still bother me.
Immediately after the event ended, a short shaft of light, like that cast by a flashlight, reached under my closed door. Back and forth, the shaft flashed under the door before rising toward the doorknob. There it paused and disappeared only to instantly reappear under the door that separated my room from my parent’s bedroom. It performed the same erratic dance near the door’s base for a few moments and then disappeared. But, as the door was painted shut, I had no way of knowing if it was truly gone. What I did know was it was in the same room as my slumbering parents. Adrenalin erased my calmness with one overwhelming thought: there was an intruder in the house. I grabbed my bat, crept into the hallway and into my parents’ room ready to swing first and ask questions later. I found nothing. My parents were sound asleep. I woke them and explained what had happened as best as I could in my frightened state. We spent the next twenty minutes searching the house for any signs of forced entry. Every window and door was intact. My father said it was a dream and that I should go back to bed. My mother tried to reassure me by adding if I did see odd lights they were probably from the drive-in theatre down the road. I knew both explanations were wrong, but without an alternative, I decided to let the matter go and try to make sense of it in the morning.
The next day brought no answers. I tried to wrap my head around it, but as I didn’t know what ‘it’ was, I was at a loss. I might have relegated the entire episode to a waking dream or perhaps cryptonesia had my mother not confessed several years later to seeing light coming out of my room from under my closed door while she was trying to calm me, though my room was dark when I opened my door.
Our house did not own the market on strangeness, however. The old asylum produced an odd assortment of half words and unrecognizable sounds on quiet nights. Occasionally we would see light behind its barred windows. I have no theories linking the two phenomena, but a few years after we moved away prison security discovered cult paraphernalia (teen wannabes most likely) in the asylum’s basement. That could obviously account for what we saw and heard, but what about my house? Why did I associate the second light with an intruder trying to get into my room? And, what does that say about the first light and how calm I felt? I’ve never been able to answer these questions and nothing like it ever transpired again. It was a singular event and those are often the hardest to explain. Even our cat, with all its vaunted feline senses and sensitivities, showed no change in behavior before or after; nor did she shy from any corner of the house. I’ve talked to others who have experienced odd circumstances and like them, I sometimes wish I had an explanation while other times I want to forget about it. Answers are not always pleasant.
Monday, March 9, 2009
*SPOILER ALERT* If you haven't watched the Watchmen film yet, read no further. If you haven’t read the graphic novel yet, ditto. Still with me? Good. Thousands of Watchmen reviews have already sprung up so I won't bother you with another one. You have (or will have) your own opinion which is as valid as the most erudite critic. This piece is about one of the changes made to the graphic novel in the film. The film’s final scene is set in the office of a less than mainstream, anti-Russian publisher called the Pioneer Publishing Inc. The editor belittles an employee for suggesting an article about an actor planning to run for President in '88. The editor replies, “Seymour, we do not dignify absurdities with coverage. This is still America, God damnit. Who wants to a cowboy actor in the White House?" Robert Redford is the aforementioned actor in the graphic novel. In the movie version, the actor is Ronald Reagan. Some supporters of Reagan may feel this is a slight as our charged political landscape is filled with thin-skinned partisans on both sides of the fence. For those I offer this theory: It may have been a nod to the former President and all the comic fans who knew the ending was changed. Dr. Manhattan, for those who haven't read the graphic novel, was never framed by Veidt. Veidt's plan involved fake ALIENS. Yup, an alien invasion gone bad and the murder of millions. THAT was the plot the Comedian uncovered. I don't want to spoil the specifics for those who haven't read it, but Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons presented it wonderfully. Back to Reagan. The movie's plot device was a number huge explosions killing millions. What's more believable to viewers, even a superhero movie audience, a plot to trick Earth into thinking we narrowly missed an alien invasion or a terrorist act? I think the answer is obvious. And yet...
Yes, that's Reagan speaking about the unifying force such an alien invasion might generate. So, my take on the Reagan reference is not a necessarily a jab, but perhaps the producers' acknowledgement of a HUGE change in the story. Maybe I'm wrong. I have been accused of reading too much into things before. Yes, that's Reagan speaking about the unifying force such an alien invasion might generate. So, my take on the Reagan reference is not a necessarily a jab, but perhaps the producers' acknowledgement of a HUGE change in the story. Maybe I'm wrong. I have been accused of reading too much into things before.