Thank you for visiting!

You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Strange Ideas-

The other day I was in the supermarket with my daughter Beth and the grand kids. Three active young children can be a challenge in a place like a supermarket. All of those inviting objects on the shelves, especially the ones contained in glass. Colorful boxes containing delicious delicacies. Yep, quite challenging.

Beth is pretty easy going with the kids. She did daycare for years before getting married and having children. She has an admirable sense of humor and patience when it comes to children.

Up to a point.

Wyatt, my grandson, went past that point. His discipline? He had to keep his hand on the cart. A challenge made more complicated by his brother and sister bumping up and down the aisle in comparative freedom. The torment of just a few minutes of being attached to the cart was enough to solicit a promise of better behavior.

That image. Children attached to shopping carts. A disciplinary tool. Kids Kuffs! I was just counting up the millions I would make with this idea when I realized that it might just have a public relations problem. Hmmm. Yep. The picture was not pretty.

Sometimes I have strange ideas.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Thin Man-

Several years ago I happened upon one of The Thin Man movies on television. I enjoyed the fast paced banter between the lead characters, and the light hearted comedy that was laced through a reasonably good mystery story. Murder mystery, of course. There are few movies about misplaced socks or keys or such, which are the stuff of most of our real life mysteries.

Some time later and along comes Netflix. Movies just a few keystrokes away, coming constantly through the mail. So, building my list of movies to see I add The Thin Man movies. William Powell and Myrna Loy, drinking and bantering and solving crimes. Murder, of course. Nothing about socks or keys that I can recall.

There are six movies in the series, which began in 1934 and was completed in 1947. Solving murders is just plain fun with Nick and Nora, as played by Powell and Loy. In the context of the years in which the series was produced it is obvious that these films provided a much needed respite from difficult times. A great depression and a world war can take a lot out of a nation. Films like these were there to help get the people back on their feet.

If you find solving the mystery of your missing keys less than satisfying, let me recommend a visit with The Thin Man. Much more fun than matching socks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Grandpa's Book-

Many years ago I was a boy and my Grandpa Laatz was alive. From my perspective at that time we were both going to live forever. My Grandpa proved me wrong on that point, and I miss him very much. However, much of my Grandpa lives still in me.

Now I am the Grandpa, though my title happens to be Papa. My little ones are growing up and much a part of my life. I hope that I can add to their lives like my grandfathers added to mine. I mostly have memories, and those are wonderful.

I also have my Grandpa Laatz's book. I remember when he received it, a book in the mail. Complete Book of Outdoor Lore, by Clyde Ormond. He did not have it long. I found it fascinating, and one day he gave it to me. I could tell he really didn't want to part with it, yet it became mine. I have had it since.

The copyright date is 1964, and it was hot off the press when he got it. It must have been shortly after that when it came into my possession. Though I looked at it often, I never read it through. Now it is dated, and more of a treasure than a source of contemporary information regarding hiking and camping and the like.

The dust cover is torn and frayed. It has old book smell, which is not a bad smell to a lover of books. It has dated information, much of which is timeless if survival is the issue. It also has a bit of my Grandpa Laatz infused in between the lines of print.

I remember walking in the woods quite a bit with my Grandpa. Not so much when I was particularly little. We lived in the sprawl of Los Angeles in those days, and the outings I remember were to a park in Irvine and occasionally to Knotts Berry Farm. No, the woods came later, starting when I was ten years old and for a precious hand full of years to follow.

I recall finding old cabins and gold mines in the woods with my Grandpa Laatz. I remember one time being with him in a dry creek bed when we heard a crashing from down the hill. Crash, crash, crash! A doe burst from the covering scrub and jumped right over the depression in which we stood!

We fished rivers and streams together. We climbed a tall mountain so high that I could see the curvature of the Earth, or at least so it seemed to me. We found leaves pierced by porcupine quills with two quills still in them. We saw grouse and pheasant and squirrels in great numbers. We shot dead tree stumps with pistols. We hunted memories and made them our own.

Now I am reading through my Grandpa's book. Between the lines he walks again with me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tetranychus urticae-

I was sitting outside of my tent this afternoon when I noticed a little arachnid crawling on my sleeve. It caught my eye due to a vibrant orange color. The whole creature was orange, which is not to say much due to its extremely small size. I only had my phone camera with me, and this thing was just too small to capture that way.

I don't think I have seen anything else in nature that color. It was so small, and quite beautiful. Lacking capture equipment and a field microscope I was unable to capture and view it closely. Trying to move it led to its demise. I do not like needless death, even in something so small. It made me sad.

Looking for it on the Internet, I found the name that is the title of this blog. It is not a positive identification, but quite probable. None of the photos I found on the Internet were as vibrantly orange as this little creature.

The child scientist that has always resided within me longs to acquire capture tools, a field microscope, and suitable photographic equipment to always be ready to safely gather records of such encounters. All without damaging such delightful little creatures.

Considering that I willingly engage in the joint slaughter of the multitudes of cows, pigs, chickens and the like just to feed my face, such sensitivity seem ludicrous. Still, I do not willingly destroy the creatures with which I share my world, recognizing that many contribute to a better life for me and my family. Few are damaging, and even those only need to be destroyed when they encroach on our lives in a destructive fashion.

Such a lovely orange. For those few moments I was able to observe the Tetranychus urticae, my life was enhanced.

Perhaps I should indulge that child scientist. My life may be just a bit richer for the investment.

The Trappings of Science and Learning-

As a child (and even young adult) I had a hunger for knowledge. Sometimes I confused the trappings of science and learning for the real thing. Trappings, such as books, and blackboards, and scientific instruments.

I confused the tools for the task. I wanted microscopes, and telescopes, and oscilloscopes. I even had those things, at various times. I don't know that I used them to learn with. I don't recall doing as much as having. Even books became possessions more than vehicles of learning.

There seemed to always be so much to learn that I failed to focus on what was at hand.

I still do this. Wikipedia, for instance. I read an article on an area of interest. I know that a Wiki article is just a small taste of what one would need to learn on any given subject. It is a good starting place, but not sufficient by itself.

Oh, there are hyperlinks and bibliographies. I follow some links, and am challenged by a whole new field of learning. That, and a lot more listed books. And more hyperlinks to more articles and more listed books.

Always I see all of that knowledge spread before me, and the sense of not having enough time to absorb more than a fraction of all that is there. I think that the frustration of my mortality in relationship to all that might be learned has been the root of a life-long depression. Not a profound depression, or a debilitating depression. Just a depressive tendency that led to depressive episodes throughout my life.

Even before the Internet and Wiki I sensed the vastness of potential learning, and my limitations in time and space in relationship to all that I might learn. From my childhood I sensed the impossibility of consuming even a fraction of that knowledge in the course of one lifetime.

It has gotten better over time.

I still have an affection for books, and instruments of measurement and learning. I no longer confuse having such things (and even knowing how to use them) for the knowledge they might impart. The are objects of beauty, and part of that beauty is the promise of knowledge. They are not that knowledge, and never could be.

Wandering through life and gathering bits of learning has been good. Sensing and thinking and sharing. Perhaps I might have done more. Perhaps my temperament is more of the intellectual vagabond than the hard working scholar or scientist. It might be that I have done as much as I can.

That is just one more thing to think about, to learn about.