I can understand why people around here might want to put outdoor Christmas decorations up in October...if you get a heavy Election Day blizzard, you might not see green grass till Easter. Just don't turn them on. I can even see Halloween advertisements for Christmas where it says "please allow six to eight weeks for delivery" (but I don't see why it takes six to eight weeks to make a delivery). But I was once in a store the day before the autumnal equinox, and they were putting up Christmas decorations when it was still summer! At least wait till the leaves turn, OK people? **************************************************************************** Don't be so quick to complain about growing old...it's better than the alternative! **************************************************************************** I well remember trying to learn Latin in High School and Esperanto on my own. If we are going to take a few hours a week out of children's learning, let's at least do it right. First, do it in the first four years of a student's learning, not in the last four. The earlier a child starts to learn a second language, the better that child will do, all else being equal. Second, pick a language that the child will have a reasonable opportunity to remain proficient in, one with at least a few cable channels and an occasional piece of written material coming one's way. In Canada, this would be French, in the United States, it would be Spanish. In most of the world, it would be English. Maybe then children would retain enough of their second language to use it in adulthood. **************************************************************************** Those traffic lights look like little Lego (TM) building blocks, hanging up there above the street, but they sure are big if you see them up close! **************************************************************************** Of the "fringe" sciences, cryptozoology has the best chance of coming up with an actual contribution to science from its subject matter, as opposed to some new explanation. There is a chance of some sizeable land animals still to be discovered, and a very good chance for sea animals to remain hidden in 2003. Ufology has quite a number of sightings, but I would be flabbergasted if an extraterrestrial spacecraft turned out to be a large part of it. Probably there are new discoveries in physics and psychology to be made in this field, however. Parapsychology is likely just people fooling themselves about ESP, PK, ghosts and other such topics. I also hope that other borderline science areas have a few genuine nuggets of gold among the dross. **************************************************************************** In 1831 Cleaveland changed its name to Cleveland to fit it on a newspaper masthead (or because the paper ran out of type). If Pittsburgh changed its name to Pitsburgh or Pittsburg for the same reason, I would probably be laughing about it for a decade. **************************************************************************** "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" Now that we are a few years into the 21st Century, we are already a couple decades after the birth of cyberpunk. What will determine when cyberpunk is "real"? Will it be a certain date, like the game Cyberpunk 2020? Or the invention of a certain technology, like direct brain-computer connections? Or when Steve Jackson says so? I am in my mid-40s. If someone had told me when I started college in our Bicentennial Year how I would now be spending my spare time, I would have thought that they were smoking the wrong type of cigarette. And I was a science fiction lover! All my life, I have had intermittant night dreams of paper on which the text changes. In every dream, it is like I am seeing something new for the first time, something I had heard of recently but was just now encountering. It now looks like my dream could come true as soon as late next year, or the following year at the latest. When I learned programming (on punch cards!) owning your own computer would be like owning your own space rocket. I now own one that is probably more powerful than any in the world at that time. That is the cyber part. The punk part can be seen in almost any newpaper, or look on a downtown street. There are more impoverished people than ever before in the world...some end up in the group home at which I work. The neighborhoods I live and work in are not like they were when I was growing up, either. Drugs seem to be as common as at the heyday of the psychedelic movement. Computer crime and identity theft are the fastest growing criminal activities. Is it soup...er, cyberpunk? **************************************************************************** In the town where I work (Garfield Hts.), we just had a huge magnesium fire. I was heading for work just after it got really started. It was raining lightly, but the sky in front of me was so dark I thought "Boy, they are really getting soaked down at work!" I arrived, however, and it was just drizzling. I started work and, a bit later, happened to look outside. The horizon featured boiling black smoke covering almost a quarter of the sky. I called the Plain Dealer newspaper and asked what was going on with all the smoke. The person did not know, but she connected me to someone who told me about the fire. As it got dark, the sky there looked like sunset. Then a co-worker heard from a phone call about an explosion that had just occurred. I thought she was talking about another incident and thought "TERRORISTS!" She had heard the blast and thought it was me doing something, but I was vacumning and did not hear it. I heard it a bit later, however. The sky all night long looked like it was a lightning storm, and it sounded like fireworks or a warzone. My boss was with her mother even closer, and when she got back she said the blasts shook the windows and were too bright to look at. When I got home to Maple Hts., I could still hear and see it. I thought the big gas fire in my hometown a couple years ago was gigantic...this made it look like a lit match. Miraculously, in both cases, no one was hurt. ****************************************************************** In early July of 2004, I was out with a workman preparing my house for sale by installing patio railings. I heard a car come screaming and turned to look. The car was streaking like a meteor and failed to make a turn, crashing into a tree. The man got out and ran into a house. In seconds the police had my street closed off. I had to call my boss and say I might be late. The man came out just in time for me to get to work. I had heard of high speed chases and police standoffs, but had never expected to see one on my quiet little suburban street. ****************************************************************** Took a walk in mid-March. Counted a dozen houses with Xmas decorations. ****************************************************************** I have just become a notaphilist, a collector of banknotes. I have an idea for the future of the hobby..."tourist certificates". You have your picture taken at a tourist destination, sign your name on a screen, and type in your name. The booth prints out a bill of one dollar quality, with your portrait and a message "On this date 07-14-2029 Tom Mazanec visited Yellowstone National Park". The serial number for that date might be YS0143, and my signature would complete the obverse. On the reverse would be a picure of Old Faithful erupting. It would have filigree, curlicues and moire patterns just like a currency bill. With scores of tourist sites, these could be good souveniers and even collecibles. ****************************************************************** Ferrets for Dummies by Kim Schilling pg 45 "Mischief was very docile and passive, but none of the other ferrets liked her or allowed her to join in ferret games...was so happy playing by herself or with me." pg 88 "...a lot of disagreements arise from one fert not liking another fert's special smell..." You know Boober and Gobo and Einstein and Pascal Casper and Spooky and Bandit and Rascal But do you recall The most fragrant ferret of all? Mischief the stinky ferret Had a smell rather rank And if you ever smelled her You would even say she stank All of the other ferrets Used to laugh and call her names They never let poor Mischief Join in any ferret games Then one sunny Saturday Schilling came to say "Mischief with your stench so foul Won't you be my special pal?" Then were the ferrets jealous As they cried out in dismay "Mischief the stinky ferret You are getting half the play!" **************************************************************** Once there was a little space gun Thought it would supernova a sun All the other space guns made fun Of the little space gun But it had high hopes It had high hopes It had high apple pie in the sky hopes So when things are going slow And you're feeling low Just remember that gun Oops there goes a billion exawatt Oops there goes a billion exawatt Oops there goes a billion exawatt sun! ************************************************************ I am still having my "animated picture on paper" dream a few times a year. In recent years it has changed. Now I am reading the paper, usually the comics, and I notice a moving picture in one of the strips. It is like something I have always seen, but now I ask someone "How does this work?" I still haven't seen it in real life, but with progress in epaper and flexible electronics, I'm still hopeful.