Fran pushed herself out of the chair and staggered to the doorway of the play room, relief flooding her system when she saw Eric and Sarah sitting next to each other, laughing and pointing at the screen as some animated mice turned a balloon into a zeppelin.

Ariadne came up behind Fran and put an arm around her waist, guiding her back to the chair. "C'mon, you're in no shape to be standing up just yet."

Once in the chair, Fran was given a glass of water, which she gulped down. Slamming the empty glass on the edge of the desk, she looked at Ariadne and croaked, "Oh, goddammit! He was in so much pain. He was so scared!"

Ariadne knelt in front of Fran, held her hands, and looked directly into her eyes. Her face showed no expression nor her voice any emotion as she said, "It will happen like this: Ted will get drunk one night when Eric's with him, maybe because Eric will be bugging him about going home to you, and Ted will lose control and knock Eric to the floor and kick him repeatedly, eventually rupturing his pancreas. He'll lock Eric in a dark room and leave the house and not come back until the next afternoon. It will take Eric sixteen hours to die, and he will be in unspeakable agony even in the final moments of his life. His last conscious thought will be of you, wondering why you didn't come and make it all better."

Fran sucked in air, her lungs suddenly feeling on the verge of collapse. "And you, you can prevent this from--"

"Yes. It's why I'm here. I will save as many children as I can from having to die at abusive, neglectful, violent hands." She rose from her knees and entered a series of commands on the computer, and the flesh-colored, three-dimensional copy of Eric's hand was restored to the screen. The image magnified to focus on the stars, then focused deeper, to a series of markings beneath the stars.

"Look closely, Fran. Do you see them?"

"They look like...like squares."

"They're called the 'Walls of Redress.' They're very faint on Eric's hand, but you can see that there are six of them, one for each of the stars, and that if they were more solid, each would hold a star inside of it. The Walls of Redress are the promise of protection. No matter what danger is marked on the hand, if there is a square near or around it, the person can escape the danger if the signs are read in time."

"Why are they so faint?"

"Because the part of the world in which they might or might not exist in still in flux; they can fully form or they can fade away. It depends on the decision you make."

Fran's eyes began to tear. "Ohgod...."

Ariadne grabbed Fran's shoulders. "It's all been arranged. When you leave here, take him around the fair once more, do whatever you want, but make certain that the last thing you do is ride the merry-go-round, and that you get off the ride before he does--who'll notice? A tired mother walking a few steps ahead of her kid when the ride's done?"

"Who will--?"

"Sarah will be there with some of her brothers or sisters and they'll bring him back to me."

"How can I--I mean, what am I going to tell him?"

"Nothing. If you try to explain it to him, you'll only frighten him more than is necessary. There are probably four thousand people here right now. Countless children disappear each year on fairgrounds, at carnivals or amusement parks. No one will suspect you of anything. To guarantee that, I'll make certain that Eric is seen by witnesses a few hours after you report him missing."

Fran gulped in more air, trying to staunch her sobs. "Can I come with you?"

Slowly, sadly, Ariadne shook her head.

Something inside Fran crumbled. "Why?"

"Because the place we're going is only for the children." A small, melancholy grin. "Think of it as the ultimate kids' clubhouse: No Grownups Allowed."

"Will I ever see him again? I don't know if I could live without--"

"Yes. It won't be soon, but you'll see him again. He'll--and I know this isn't much comfort--but he'll write to you. A letter a week, a phone call every two months, a videotaped message four times a year; that's my rule. Don't worry if you move because his letters will arrive wherever you are every Friday, even if it's a national holiday." A short, wind-chime laugh. "I sort of have my own private delivery service."

She touched Fran's cheek, lovingly. "I promise you, Fran, I swear he won't forget about you, he won't feel angry for your leaving him with me. He'll miss you because he loves you so very much, but it will get easier as time goes on. He'll never lose his love for you, and he'll grow up to be everything you hoped and more. You will have your son back, one day, and there will be no love lost.

"Shh, don't say anything right now. You've got a little while, so go on, take your son to the fair and make him laugh, make him smile, and be certain that you miss nothing--not a word, not a look, a touch, a whisper, nose-tweak, or kiss. The next few hours will have to last you for a good while. Waste no moment.

"Go on. I'll know your decision soon enough."

As they were leaving the tent, Eric turned back to Madame Ariadne and flashed his palm. "You put my arm in a box!"

The fortune-teller smiled. "You are a strange and goofy kid, Eric McLachlan."

"Yes, I am!"

They stopped to play a few games (Eric won a small toy fire truck at the ring-toss booth), watched some clowns parade around, shared a soft pretzel, and then Fran McLachlan stood in the center of the midway holding her five-year-old son's hand and trying not to think about the way her life had gone wrong.

"Mommy," said Eric, "what's wrong? Did that lady say something bad to you?"

She told him no, and asked him what he wanted to do, and he chose the merry-go-round.

This time both of them rode on the tiger, and Eric's laughter, in his mother's ears, during those final moments of the ride, was the voice of forgiveness itself.

"Can I go again?" he asked as Fran climbed down.

"Sure, honey. Of course you can." The attendant was walking by at that moment, so Fran gave him the last ticket.

"You have fun," she said to Eric.

A happy bounce. "'Kay. You stand out there and watch me, okay?"

"Okay."

Steady.

"I'll wave at you when I go by."

Hang on.

"Have you had a good time today, honey?"

"Yeah! This was the best fun ever!"

Oh shit, don't let him see it.

"I'm glad." She leaned in and kissed his cheek. "I love you, Eric."

"Love you, too--better get off now, Mommy, so they can start the ride."

Not daring to look at her son's face, Fran McLachlan turned around and left, catching a peripheral glimpse of Sarah getting onto the ride with a two younger children whose hands she was holding: the protective big sister.

Fran looked down at her hand and wondered what secrets were hidden there in the lines within the lines, the hand beneath the hand.

Walking away from the merry-go-round, she was startled when a sudden, strong breeze whipped past, pulling the balloon-doll from her grip and sending it upward, soaring, free, rising on the wind toward a place where the children were safe and never wept or knew loneliness or fear.

Good-bye, she thought. Be happy.

She was surprised to feel a smile on her face.

And the touch of Eric's hidden hand deep within her soul.

Another entry in the annals of personal victory.

For months now I've been plagued with this odd sort of thing on my laptop computer. I don't know if it qualifies as a virus, Trojan Horse, ad-ware or worm, but it was there. For months, every time I turned on my laptop and fired up my Internet Explorer browser, I would get taken to a Hot-Search.Com search page.

My default web page is supposed to be local to my system.

I got a copy of HijackThis, a software that is supposed to fix such unathorized registry entries. It was a sort of temporary fix, though. I would turn off my laptop, turn it back on a week or so later and the same thing would happen again, despite the fix- Hot-Search.Com.

Tonight I found the javascript file, update12.js, which was causing the problem. I did this by doing a file search on my computer, with an eye towards finding files with "search.php" within their text. Five files came up with update12.js being one of them- the others were standard HTML pages that I approved of. I opened it up with Notepad and took a look at its code. It was filled with mentions of searchcentral.cc, hot-search.cc and others. I deleted it immediately. I guess I'll know, next time I fire up my laptop, if I permanently fixed the problem.

But I have high hopes that I have, indeed, fixed the phuqing problem. Buggered if I can figure out where it came from initially, but that really isn't important right now. What's important is that it is good and fucking GONE.


I am reminded of a thought I had recently, which was brought on by introspection of my youth. Specifically, riding my old Huffy bicycle around the backstreets of Hendersonville, Tennessee as a kid, usually along with a small pack- 3 to 10 other kids- like we were a sort of unconfirmed gang or something. We weren't marauders, we were just a bunch of kids who liked to feel the wind whip past us as we rounded curves or jumped small mounds. We liked the speed and freedom that our bikes provided to us. We liked being able to ride across town at will, imagining what it would eventually be like to make the trip in 5 minutes inside a car as opposed to 45 minutes on two pedal-powered wheels.

We were the original backstreet boys, us kids. That, my friends, is a funny and depressing thought.

And this memory spurned another, even older memory of my first bike as a child of 6, a Schwinn, blue-painted die-cast metal. It was bulky and very much like the old Studebaker of bicycles. I remember putting that old Schwinn through its paces. I ran into trees, curb sides, other bikes, dirt mounds... everything was an obstacle when I was first learning how to drive my bike- not ride, drive. Nevertheless, I had learned early on to be a safe driver, lest I want to earn myself more bumps and bruises on the Road of Life, where there is little forgiveness for foolhardiness.

And I remember the wheels upon which my old Schwinn made contact with the ground. They weren't the inflatable kind. They were solid rubber, through and through. The idea of getting a flat tire on that bike was alien to me, then. I didn't learn how to deal with my first flat tire until I was 12 years old. During my times with my Huffy, I was more enraptured by owning the name-brand bike and hadn't a clue that a flat tire could be costly or time-consuming. But I learned that lesson, too, even though a deeper lesson had escaped me at that young age.

Now that I think about it, though, I realize that there had been a revolution in the biking industry, and the business community as a whole, in the intervening years between 6 and 12. By the time I had my Huffy, I would have been hard-pressed to find a bike with solid-rubber tires. I thought that an annoyance, then, but didn't give it much thought until now.

We are now living in a throw-away society, I have realized. When something is broken, we throw it away and replace it with another, exact product whose durability is just as precarious as its predecessor. Bike tires are made to get flat, eventually, so that the tire and inner-tube producers can make money. They aren't concerned with kids falling and getting scraped knees and hands anymore. They aren't worried about the safety of children. They don't care what a flat tire could mean to a child who is five miles away from home, perhaps in a questionable area of town, where a child should not, would not want to be stranded or on-foot alone and laden with a bike.

Fifty years ago, though, they were. Fifty years ago, when the business world was still relatively noble, kids were looked after and their safety was at least partially considered instead of given a bare second thought. They made tube-less, solid-rubber tires for the sake of the nation's children and their families. They made things to last and to stand up to the test of time and youthful abuse.

No more. Gotta watch that bottom line and make a higher profit. Gotta bring home the bacon, at all costs.

It's a metaphor for something, I tell you, and it ain't good.


Another personal victory for today:

I was exposed to the YetiSports Games website a few months ago. Y'know- the penguin game? The latest edition of it is called "Albatross Overload." The Yeti throws the penguin up in the air, where it is caught by a seagull (one of many) which is flying by. Once the penguin is caught, you must click your mouse button to keep the wings a-flapping in order to keep the penguin-laden seagull airborne. The object is to get the penguin as far as possible before the seagull's power-meter finally peters out and the penguin/seagull duo crash-land on the Australian beach. You get three rounds to do this and at the end of the final round your three scores are combined for an overall score.

This is not an easy thing to do. High scores are upwards of 5100, with individual rounds up to and beyond 1700. My personal best long-distance ROUND is roughly 1720. I haven't been able to come close to that yet, let alone beat it- I have forgotten what technique I used to attain such a high score, alas. But I've developed some new patterns and timing techniques which have allowed me to get consistent single-round scores above 1650. My goal is to break the 5000-mark. I just got a score of 4970, which places me at the very bottom of the Top 100.

I find that very gratifying, to get on the Top 100 leader board. Now I just gotta concentrate on breaking 5000 and I'll be a happy camper.

Damn, it's addicting.

Never will come for us.

And I had forgotten the joy of being so close to that dirty checkered floor.

Eye-level with their cigarettes, flickering, and leg tattoos and pants cut off to be not at all shorts. You can tell how cool someone is by their shoes, really. Are you dressed up for tonight, for this punk show, or are you for real real real? The ones with Xs on their hands are fond of the flip-flops. Thanks, Old Navy.

It has only been one season since I was last here, hand-stamped and waiting to sing along. But one season is enough to Hello, 80s. I feel like I am at teen club, 1986, with all the short shirts and layered tank tops and chunky jewelry. I am now officially old enough to have lived through the fashions that are now retro. I loved it when the 70s made a comeback because I was young enough to want to be fashionable and I loved dressing like I did when I was 5. I wonder if my fifth year was really as good as I revise it to be. Was it my best year? No, this is.

This was our favorite band like 6 years ago and so my sense of time travel continues. Hello reunion. Watching them play, you wonder why they named the band, Braid. I move around too much… extra energy waiting to hop hop out. You ask me if I am ok, and I say, I am a peach. I am peachy. I am a peach. Peaches are soft and pretty and smell good. So, I may be exaggerating.

"There are more cell phones in this room than cigarettes,” I say. That should be on a shirt, a friend says. Yes, it should. The first time I went to the Black Cat, the other Black Cat, I don’t even think cell phones existed. I am old, but not as old as I should be or am? My shirt says, Time is an Invention". I agree with this.

Time is an invention. We invent things to make life easier, faster, more structured. We love our inventions.

So about a year ago my dad got these solid tyres for an old bike which belonged to his dad. They were smaller than the wheels, which we thought was a good thing. What with no air pressure to keep them on, they'd need to be nice and tight so as not to keep slipping around the rim whenever you brake. Using the supplied plastic tyre levers, I helped my dad fit one of the tyres... which snapped the levers. We tried metal levers, but still the tyre was so tight that it bent them. We tried warming the tyres to make them more pliable, but to no effect. We tried putting the tyre on as far as it would go, tying it to the rim at the bottom then clamping it at the top with adjustable pliers and levering it on inch by inch with a screwdriver, clamping it as it went. This resulted in the pliers shooting off into my face and giving me a huge fat lip.

Just like something out of one of my stories, my dad spent several days hammering and welding bits of metal in the back garden just outside the garage, subsequently announcing that this was to be a new tool which would help force the tyre onto the rim.

While I was sitting here fiddling with Visual C++ my dad called from the garden to give him a hand, so out I went, only to be confronted with this "new tool" attached to one of the bike's wheels - a metal bar affixed to the spindle, with a sort of hook over the top of the tyre. The idea was evidently to move the bar around the wheel so that the hook would pull the tyre onto the rim.

The tyre was once again tied to the rim at the bottom of the wheel, then the special tyre-putter-onner was pushed around as far as it would go... which really was nowhere near far enough. We should have given up, but we'd come this far, so my dad got the trusty screwdriver and began levering the tyre on bit by bit while I pushed the tool around to hold it on. It got tougher and tougher, until my arms were aching and my dad's hands had screwdriver-shaped dents in them, and it wasn't budging one bit. He put margarine on the tyre, but still no good. "In all the time I've spent on this I could have repaired twenty punctures," he remarked.

We wavered about giving up, but decided to give it one last-ditch effort. The screwdriver just about levered it up that little bit more, and as I strained to move it around those extra few millimitres, there was a muted "thunk" as the tyre ripped in half. "I think it's gone," I said, helpfully.

We had to admit that they were, after all, too small.

Another Uberman's Sleep Schedule Blog. (cont.)

Back

3:50 PM Thursday June 10, 2004 - I give up. I put up a good effort, but I just can't do it anymore. I've had headaches, throat-burn, and fatigue all week. I've been oversleeping everyday. I'll definitely try it again in the future. Hopefully the near future. But not now.

There was a sparrow in my parents' bedroom.

This is, by and large, not what one expects to find in a bedroom of any person, be they parents or not. (Come to think of it, my mum wasn't entirely expecting it herself)

Part the First
I walk into my parents' room to say my goodnights, perhaps hoping to sneak a cup of tea before heading on to bed. As I enter, I find my mum sitting straight up with a look of sheer disbelief on her face.

"I just woke up, and saw a sparrow on the dressing table..." she offers; after a brief discussion, I agree to perform a hasty (albiet silent, there are children sleeping) search of the upstairs, whilst my dad (ever the keen ornithologist) searches the ground floor. This failing to discover any birds, sparrow or otherwise, the three of us decide it was, more than likely, a "corner-of-the-eye"-type illusion.

Saying my goodnights, I head to the bathroom, brush my teeth, the usual, only to find upon leaving my father creeping out of the bedroom with a very excited look upon his face...

"Get the nets."

Thus begins a rather desperate attempt to corner the poor bewildered bird, and relocate it to a more suitable outdoors environment. (I would like to stress that we did this with utmost care, and did everything in our power to prevent injury to the poor thing.) Eventually, it (more from accident than skill) flies into a lever-arch file, and is taken downstairs to be released.

Part the Second
Having forgotten to close the front door behind us in our attempt to release the sparrow, we are now faced with a dilemma. How does one retreive a bird from behind the kitchen cabinets?

Thankfully, it was rather easier than before to coax the bird towards us, and it was gently lured into a net, whereupon it was taken outside and released into the garden. Making its way past the guinea pigs, it eventually settled amongst the rushes, and we bid it adieu.

What an eventful evening this was.

The 2004 Design Automation Conference, San Diego, California.



Broadway, the night club.







Gary has the presence of a man who just got off a horse after a long ride. He starts every sentence by exhaling half his lungs and smiling. There's money to burn so he doesn't need to breathe like the rest of us.

A two-thousand dollar Italian suit hangs from his shoulders like a tarp over a damp pitcher's mound. He nearly trips over the laces trailing his ratty New Balance 998s. He's lost some hair since the last time I've seen him. No matter what he tells me I'll have the pleasure of knowing that when he's as old as me I'll still have my hair.

"Check out the HDI booth?" he asks, then sucks on the atmosphere. There's a blast of feedback that feels like knitting needles poked through the eardrums. We only have a couple minutes to talk civilly before they start the music. Then we'll be screaming.

"The HDI booth?" I ask. Actually I couldn't miss it. Our booth is right next to theirs on the conference room floor. They're showcasing a Harley Davidson V-Rod. It 's going to be one of those: sit through our demo, give us your biz card so our salesman will have your number, and we'll enter you in the drawing for the bike.

We're giving our prospects pocket-sized tins of breath mints.

"What about it?" I say to him, trying hard to keep the conversation mundane. But it can't be that way.

"They'll be changing the name of the company, tomorrow," he says, grinning. The importance of the comment is lost on me. He reads my lack of enthusiasm for the cluelessness it belies. "I'm on the board so I can't say much more. Yeah. That was a good one. Put in a couple mil, get ten back."

To the NPR listening audience, what's just happened would be considered illegal. Were it not for the fact it's a couple minutes past the market close in New York, we'd be making plans for retirement in Folsom. But Gary knows that, and he doesn't make those mistakes. I've known this guy since he was 20. That's 18 years. He's worth about a hundred mil now. He makes more money on daily interest than I do all year.

"Gary, soon we're going to have a conference just for your companies. Fuck the rest of these bastards. How many do you have now?"

"Five if you include the slots business in Vegas," he says. "Soon it will be three, though. I got offers I may not be able to refuse."

And so on.

Raj, I've known since he was a student and I was a young buck working my way up the corporate ladder at the big "C" company. No matter how rich he gets he still makes time for me. Gotta love that about the guy.

He holds his Bombay and tonic against his lower lip, sipping from a black stirrer, grinning like a cat with a gut full of bird. Beyond his scratched wire-rims and uncombed hair I'm watching a woman about the age of my daughter undulate on a pedestal. She's wearing nothing but bikini bottoms and a T-shirt cut off barely below the underside of her breasts.

It's hard to hear Raj with all this sex around and UV strobes make me feel like I'm reliving the time in my freshman year Chris Wiener accidentally dropped a tab of blotter acid in my soda can.

"Did you make it to—" he yells over the booming house music. I have just learned this is the name for the runaway drum machine noise that's fucking the air around my head. There's no way to tell what he's asking. Did he just ask if I went to Midway? What's that? The airport in Chicago?

We get to somewhere quieter. A couple of EDA professionals are standing in a corner. The guy's got his foot up on a bar stool rail and the woman has her leg wedged between his, pressing against his thigh with her's. She's sucking on a sixteen-inch tumbler full of cosmo juice. Someone's gonna get laid tonight.

"The Midway. The aircraft carrier," Raj says. He's giggling. He's the first civilian to rent the U.S.S. Midway from the federal government for any use.

"Did you get John Wayne to introduce you?" I ask.

"His publicist said he's a little tied up," Raj answers, and he giggles again. His use was a party for the customers of his company. I am not his customer. He doesn't realize I wasn't invited because his minions handle all the party arrangements. He's not a part of the process and I don't want to put him in the position of having to mock a rampage on my behalf.

"Wish I could have been there. I was tied up with customers," I say. Look off to the right. You're not lying if you look to the right after you tell a lie.

Raj has half a billion in assets in bank accounts all around the world. He's thirty four. When I first met him he was a student fresh out of Waterloo, living in an apartment, driving one of the few remaining Chrysler K cars that hadn't dissolved to rust.

Every now and then he offers to make me rich by giving me a job in one of his many EDA companies. I always say no for some reason.

I should probably try to nail one of the go-go dancers. A PR lady I met last year is on the dance floor yanking suggestively on the neckline of her top, threatening to show all of us some nipple, knowing full well its trouble none of us are going to get into. It's business. Too much to lose. Too much willingness to litigate. I can probably be sued for seeing the top edge of her areola. This is why women have breasts. To remind men they need million-dollar substitutes for their wet nurses.

In my hand is a drink called a something-breeze. It's cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and vodka. It's one of those kids' drinks packing a hydrochloric acid hangover that chars the head from the inside out. One of my coworkers handed it to me and the only reason I'm still holding it is I can't find somewhere to put it down and forget it for the rest of my life. I would like to be a whole lot drunker, but I can't seem to find the bar.

"Why don't you leave?" he asks me. "You stay, what are you gonna get? When you get down to it, you're gonna clear about as much as if you just worked for me for a couple years. So you get it over time instead of in one big lump."

Millionaires. They have answers to every known question.

I dance with a couple of our people. I'm a lousy dancer. Most engineers are. But at these big convention parties it makes as much sense to be self-conscious as it does to cut off your arms at a free money hand-out session.

A woman I've never seen before grinds herself against my backside. I'm not participating. I'm the closest nearly vertical object. After a couple seconds where I consider turning around and dry-humping her on the dance floor, I walk away without looking back.

Think--two years ago the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen in my life offered me a blow job, screaming the invitation diagonally across a table of 12 in the middle of a dinner, stopping everyone's esophaguses in mid-food-blob-peristalsis. (A noder was there, in fact.)

I did the professional thing and turned her down politely thus incrementing the number of blow-jobs I've refused by one. That makes two, now.

Chuck grabs me by the arm as I almost pass him without seeing him. He yells, "Did you hear about Jackson?"

I save my voice. Shake my head.

"Brain infection, coma," he says about a man who just made a couple million bucks selling his software technology to a huge electronic company. So now he's rich and unconscious.

"Fuck," I say.

"You hear about John?"

"John who?"

He tells me the last name. "Leukemia. He passed away yesterday."

Double fuck. We're getting rich and dying faster than I can keep track.

Chuck's 85-years old and still working full-time for a living. Doesn't look a day over 50. He's heading for the door like he came to the nightclub just to tell me about the dead and dying. I chalk it up to male moth phenomenon. Seems to me that after a man stops thinking about fucking every warm female he comes across, his mind turns to death. Procreate and head for the flames.

Eric asks how my wife Franny is doing. He's the only one on the planet who calls her that. His company was bought by the big "C" where we worked together for nearly ten years before we bailed to seek separate fortunes. I've been all over the earth with Eric. I've seen women fire darts from their vaginas at him. Few indeed are people who can say that about someone.

Our products are in fierce competition. On the street, we're avowed enemies. Here at the biggest party of the year for people in our business, we go back to being human beings.

"I don't know how the hell Franny lets you go to Antarctica. What are you doing to that poor woman?" he asks, and I shrug.

"Hear about Paul?" he says about a mutual friend. "They got picked up by the "M" company. Hear it wasn't such a great deal, but it was better than going belly up. At least he'll get a couple hundred k out of it."

At least.

"At least he won't have to go through the agony of defeat," I say. "Like I did."

He holds out his hand. Ticks off the failed startups he's lived through. Gets to five, the one that worked.

"I did pretty well," he said. "But it was time." Then he tells me about rebuilding the house on the peninsula and the one he's buying in Europe just to let me know exactly how good.

It's getting hard for me to not be so depressed I want to go find Anna and collect my blow job. (Yes, her name is Anna.) But as far as I can tell, she didn't make it to the conference this year. I'm heading back to the Gaslamp District Quality Inn to stare at the ceiling and enjoy the humidity.

Eric hits me on the bicep. "This one looks good for you," he says. That maybe he's right flashes through my skull. I worked hard. We wouldn't be here at the biggest Design Automation show of the year if it wasn't for me getting things focused. I let myself believe that's why these guys are seeking me out to bullshit.

"It's a real product," I say to Eric.

"You don't have to tell me," he replies. Sees someone he knows. Says, "You're due." Smiles and takes off.

I haven't seen Norb for three years. Last time was when he came down from his house in Whistler for a quadruple bypass. He's looking decent now. All pink. Not gray and nearly dead like last time. The wife and kid are doing well. He's had angioplasty to clear another artery. He's self-destructing. He's four years younger than me.

"Know what I learned coming close to death?" he asks me, then answers himself. "I don't wait to tell people I care about them anymore."

He gives me a hug. Typical guy thing. Pats on the back.

I've been doing this crap for twenty-three years. Analyze my life and realize that I'm not an Antarctic explorer or a writer. I'm an EDA guy. I build teams that build the software people use to create all the world's cool electronic stuff.

My business is the same size as the American legitimate film industry.

In this world people know me. I have a history. I have friends.

I do this.

Travels with Bonesy, being a continuation of June 9, 2004

It was a late night and none of us were at our best till nearly noon the next morning.  I managed to get the boss and his lady settled in at the cottage around two in the morning and after toasting their arrival with a glass of Pear Wine(!) from Papa Bear's roadtrip, I set the autopilot for home and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Happily, the agenda for today was a modest one, I wanted to give my visitors a orientation tour of the town, show off the high points and give us all a little time to get to know each other.  I picked them up about noon and we wandered through the narrow twisty neighborhood streets of New Silver Beach and down Highway 28A to West Falmouth and Chappaquoit Beach.  I wanted to stop somewhere and give them the lay of the land. We pulled into the parking lot and before us lay the broad expanse of Buzzards Bay with Woods Hole and the Elizabethan Islands on our left and New Bedford, Providence and Rhode Island on our right.  Beyond it all is the southern Atlantic Ocean fading into a misty distance.

I really want to convey to these folks the things I find so special about my hometown.  It's a place I've really come to love and I guess that comes across in the windy monologue that my esteemed guests are treated to as we slowly wend our way down the back roads towards Woods Hole.  It turns out that Coby was a competitive sailor in college and her team used to come to Falmouth to race now and again.  So when we drive down the hill into Quissett Harbor, everything suddenly comes into focus and she remembers being there before, and how elegant the fleet of Herreshoff 12's look out on the water.  Now we've got her stories to build upon my own and suddenly it's just a love fest.  We're happy like old friends and we've got this beautiful place to explore and the simple soothing luxury of time to do it in.  Very nice.

Our next stop was the Woods Hole Yacht Club, which looks small and shabby compared to Quissett.  Coby came to my aid with stories of the legendary expertise of our own sailing teams.  The Woods Hole area is notoriously tricky due to its fickle winds and strong currents, so the fleet of young racers who come up through the ranks here really earn their stripes.  Nestled in the protective elbow of Penzance Point is Great Harbor where we can just see my boat South Swell in the distance.  Across Woods Hole Passage we can see Naushon, one of several islands owned by the Forbes family.    

We've been in the car too long, so I suggest a walk into Woods Hole Village.  Our first stop is the Marine Biology Lab Aquarium where we watch the two lazy harbor seals basking like an old married couple in their outdoor pool. It's fascinating to watch the way they use their flippers like hands, complete with expressive sign language as if to emphasize their rhetorical barks.  We intended to take a quick walk through the aquarium itself, but we stopped at the door because nobody but Papa Bear had a picture ID.  I tried to schmooze the desk jockey into letting us by but he just made a scrunch face and said, "sorry, this is a Federal Building."  Sobering thought, the Aquarium is on high alert, imagine that!

Walking past the old stone buildings of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Bones and I fall easily into the E2 Rabbit Hole, while Coby and her Dad trail behind.  There's so many things I'd like to ask him, but most important of all is this: "How do you keep this crazy place running so well?"  He laughs with that sonorous voice of his and I can't help but laugh too.  After all, it's not really a place is it? And 'running well' is not a particularly perspicacious description of our daily operations either.  But you know what I mean, and so does he.  He's too self-effacing to take much credit for himself, and when pressed, he says that he cares really deeply about the writing, and focuses on that aspect, letting the rest of the sound and fury sort itself out in the fullness of time and a gently benign neglect.  There you have it, the central mystery revealed: The boss likes great writing and doesn't give a hoot about our petty squabblings.  You heard it here first!

One of the plans we're considering for Saturday is a trip to the picturesque town of Oak Bluffs out on the Vineyard so we stop by the Steamship Authority to pick up a schedule for the Martha's Vineyard ferry before heading back to the car.  I take them out to the Nobska Lighthouse and along Surf Drive where the 'famous' Battle of Falmouth was fought back in 1779.  On Main Street in Falmouth we find ourselves in a Norman Rockwell vision of small town America. There's a big library, and a small town hall and a statue of Katharine Lee Bates, the home town girl who wrote America the Beautiful  back in a kinder gentler era. 

We swing by my home on the way back to the Cottage so they can meet my family and see the bountiful harvest ripening on the branches of my Apple Orchard.  Basically I'm swollen with pleasure at having had a chance to display my life to an appreciative audience.  This is odd behavior for me actually because in 'Real Life' TM  I actually am sort of a grouchy recluse, and not overly prone to pouring my heart out to new acquaintances.  Chalk it up as just one more quirk of the E2 paradox.

They're on their own recognizance tonight and perhaps they'll tell you about it when they get back.  In the meantime tho, I can verify that the Mighty Bones is connectionless and unable to jack into the cyberspew to smite wrongdoers.  He told me to tell you all to behave yourselves!

Tomorrow we go Boating.


***Being a continuation of the debunking of GrouchyOldMan's Journal of Lies, in which it is made clear that neither honor nor justice have ever crossed the mind of a sailor-pirate on a smear campaign. (continued, like I said before)***


Thursday dawned ugly, at dawn, like a baby being born to a bitch in the back of a barn. There was lots of screaming. The night before Bill had gotten us pretty blasted saluting his Neoconservative Brotherhood of Grim and we hadn't really passed out until almost 6am, which is about when that whole Dawn thing I was talking about got started. It was early. The neighborhood surrounding the cottage was apparently filled with retirees with one foot in the grave who were hell bent on gardening. The lawnmowers and leaf-blowers got fired up around 7 and were soon backed up by power washers and one guy with a motorcycle that seemed to be running his vacuum cleaner. By 9am there was no point, we braced ourselves for another day - secured in the promise of our return flight and that there was always alcohol.

Bill arrived at noon, he was still driving the same whatever car. Maybe a Kia or something from Europe, but not the parts of Europe where they speak English if you know what I mean. We tried to keep straight faces and piled in for the inevitable tour of the irrelevant surrounding area.

It was about what we expected, really. There were trees and houses and dogs and the usual. Bill seemed to still be drunk and that was fine with us. Dr. Berens dozed off in the back seat, Sally sat next to him and carefully slipped earphones in and listened to her mp3 player. I had to sit in front with Bill. Guest of Honor yea right.

Four hours later we were still less than three miles from the cottage. Between back-streets, sidewalks and every quarter-mile gravel path that dead-ended into the Ocean we'd seen it all ... and heard it all. Apparently three thousand years ago somebody had fought a war somewhere around here and somebody else still cared. Bill also kept pointing at the sailboats in the ocean and harbor. I guess he'd never noticed them before or something. I played along for the most part, trying to keep track of whether this was the beginning or the end of a story and in my head began planning what I would do first when I got back home Sunday night.

Bill dropped us off at the cottage around 5pm. He had to go to a meeting to stop poor people from voting or maybe he wanted to go back and give those boats a closer look. Whatever. We immediately packed our bags and drove to Boston. We stayed at the W there, a pretty ritzy downtown joint. We let the day melt away. We didn't have to be back at Bill's until 10:30am, for some kind of 'aqua-experience' he kept hinting at.

I think seeing those boats really fucked him up.

-still Ryan



PS Sally says she wants you guys to know this is not her version of the story. She seems pissed, reading this. I think she might really let Bill have it later.

This was the year I think I finally had to come to terms with the fact that birthdays simply lose their luster. I want more from life and less superficially. I want to remember what I did and not what I received. I want to have a good time and not have to remind myself it’s my birthday. I wanted basically what happened this year.

I awoke to my 25th birthday in Ohio, staying at my cousin’s house a mere hour from Cedar Point and twenty minutes from Lake Geauga. I stayed there as a place of lodging with a few friends for our yearly Cedar Point multi-day vacation. We woke up around 10ish. I laughed at the alarm. Wynn rolled over and ignored it. Tim laughed… and then said the most shocking thing all day, “Happy Birthday”. It wasn’t the words but the timing: I didn’t realize it was my birthday. I was so engrossed in enjoying myself (both before and after this moment) that I never had to remind myself it was my birthday. It simply was. It simply evolved into an awesome day.

I’m not sure the point of birthdays but I’m certain if you get through it without bitching about “what a shitty birthday this is” then that had to be a good year.

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