Dale’s what??

So in my dream, the phrase DALE’S CLEATS flashed upon the screen.

I mean to say, what?

I felt vaguely that it might have something to do with the Backstreet Writers group that I am struggling to get off the ground down at Backstreet Arts, but how?  I’ve never owned a pair of cleats in my life, nor have I ever done anything remotely requiring cleats, even for a moment.

So… digging in?  Running fast?  Pivoting sharply?[1]

It didn’t end there.

A few moments later—in dreamtime, anyway—the phrase Christian auction salmon appeared.  (Both phrases seemed to be printed on the screen.  You know, the screen.)

Well OK then.  Now you’re just messing with me.  I’ll leave the guessing to the Lacanians in our midst and move on to what this phrase reminded me of: placement at a burn.

No, really, and it has nothing to do with Christians, auctions, or salmon. I already told you it was about a burn, remember?

Last fall when I was trying to wrangle a new piece of property into a proper burn, one of the banes of my existence was measuring the land accurately.  I bought a laser rangefinder and that helped, but things like exactly where the Effigy and Temple would go were driving me to distraction.

I had a couple of apps on my phone that claimed to help me pin down the latitude and longitude of wherever I was standing, and you might think that would be all I needed.  Hold that thought.

Anyway, after the burn was over, I discovered a new app: What3Words.  In theory it’s a cool concept: chop up the world into 3×3 meter squares, and assign three random English words to each square.  Why three and not two or even one?  Why not?

But here’s the thing: I already had apps that could pinpoint latitude and longitude down to four or five decimal places.  Why would What3Words be any more accurate?   It wasn’t, but hope springs eternal.

The problem, of course, is the technology I’m using: my phone.  It relies on cell towers and such to locate itself, and that system isn’t accurate enough.  At Alchemy, in Bowdon, GA, for example, we were so close to the Alabama border that some hippies’ cell phones kept switching to Central Daylight Savings time and back.  Consequently, the coordinates on my phone would change every time I went to the property.

The apps weren’t lying to me: they would tell me their accuracy was “within 14 m.,” for example.  Right now, I have one telling me that my location is 0.0005 miles from home while I am sitting in my study.  Not only that, a moment ago I was o.0002 miles from home, in another direction.  I haven’t moved.  You see the problem.

When I downloaded What3Words, I decided to test it out on the center of my labyrinth.  As usual, the results were disappointingly shapeshifty.  Just now, I got the four following combinations:[2]

  • sever.fits.amenity
  • endpoints.fade.bowling
  • relished.crucially.foraged
  • brisk.blackened.design

Not only that, but I don’t recognize any of those combinations as being any that I got on my first use a couple of months ago.

The actual location of the center of the labyrinth is 33.3760 N and -84.8035 W, and I know that because the satellite photo in Maps finally was taken in the winter and you can barely make out the labyrinth from space.  The what3words for that coordinate is perches.mermaid.pelting, which I do recognize as one of the options I got before.  The apps for latitude and longitude do not match those numbers.

So the phone and its attempts at geopositioning are the weak link in any system trying to map a space.  Of course, that’s usually not a problem. If I tell you that my labyrinth is at perches.mermaid.pelting, you’ll land close enough to find it.  (Or maybe not: see footnote 2.) But accurate?  No.

And here’s one pretty hysterical example: as I drove into Alchemy last October for early entry, I noticed that a bank of portapotties were in the middle of a camp’s marked area.  Hm, I thought, and then I rounded the bend and there was another set of portapotties smack dab in the middle of Camp Shameless.  They’re not that shameless, I thought.

When I tracked down the hippie in charge of portapotties, he said that when the portapottie company arrived earlier in the week, he used the latitude/longitude from the online map to show them where to place the banks of facilities.  Ah, I said, the map was visually accurate: if the portapotties were at the intersection of Boulevard One and Boulevard Four on the map, then that’s where they went.  But the coordinates, he kept insisting.  I finally got him to understand that while the coordinates might have been accurate, his phone was not.  He had to move every single bank of potties.

By the way, christian.auction.salmon is not on this planet.  However, curtain.auction.salmon is near Watson Lake, Yukon; chieftain.auction.salmon is near Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba; and friction.auction.salmon is near Fermont, Quebec.

—————

[1] Marc will no doubt have plenty to contribute on the subject.

[2] Those locations are, respectively, the Dancing Faun in the northwest corner of the labyrinth; near Thompson Falls, Montana (!); on the other side of the fence from the Dancing Faun; near Mount Isa, Queensland (!!)

Light blogging

I have other duties today, like prepping the labyrinth for a wedding this afternoon.  I’m performing the ceremony for an old friend and his long-time lady love, and either it’s been raining or we’ve been otherwise occupied.  So today, I have to do all the mowing and trimming and fixing up.

I actually have a checklist for “prepping the labyrinth” on my phone’s to-do app.  It has no date assigned to it; I just duplicate it and give the duplicate a date.  And that date is today.

So maybe a leisurely blogpost tonight, around the fire, after a simple ritual.

Oh, and also I have to create an invoice for the Moscow Charter School, in Moscow, ID, which is performing as much of William Blake’s Inn as they can manage in May.  So there’s that.

Clearing out: a series

We have begun the process of THROWING AWAY ALL THE THINGS, KENNETH!

Actually, we’ve been doing it for a couple of months now, but this past week I was instructed to go to the storage unit and bring back all the boxes of papers from our various careers that for some reason we thought were worth storing.  For some reason.  So off I went and returned with fourteen banker’s boxes of folders, notebooks, and books.

All that remains out of six boxes. Need folders or notebooks? Hit me up.

The immediate impetus for this was the city’s shredding day last Saturday; we wanted to have everything ready to dump into the chopper.  The secondary impetus was an eventual clearing out of the storage unit so that we’re not paying $100/month to keep stuff that apparently we don’t need and never see.

But the overarching impetus is our old friend death-nesting: making those final adjustments to one’s nest and then sliding towards sweet, sweet decay.

I have to say that I was very impressed with my collections.  I had lesson plans and research materials from both East Coweta High School and Newnan Crossing Elementary.  I had directorial prompt scripts from my entire career. I had the complete collection of the The Line Creek Review, ECHS’s literary magazine that was shoved onto my plate and which I revamped from an annual mausoleum of teen angst poetry into a monthly award-winning magazine.[1]

I had a ton of old music, some of which has never been transferred to actual music files.  There were all kinds of News from the Media Center things from Newnan Crossing—my attempts to market my services to the excellent staff of teachers there who were naturally suspicious of this high school guy.  There were tons of printouts from Usenet articles on all those new technologies (1993, so you know the fossils I’m talking about).

There were the training presentations for both the Curriculum Liberation Front (ECHS) and the Enriched Thinking Curriculum (NX), my attempts to implement all the current research on brain-based learning, active learning, authentic and performance assessment: all those things that “leaders” have said they want in their schools and in their graduates, yet somehow have legislated against.

Lots and lots of stuff.

And most of it went to the shredder.  I have kept some sample lesson plans, the CLF and ETC materials, and a couple of files of memorabilia, but almost all of it was trash.  Sic transit gloria mundi and all that.

It was with more curiosity than rue that I went through all those papers.  This was not a heart-wrenching ordeal.  Mostly I felt affirmed: I was good at this stuff.  I still am.[2]

Anyway, I figured I could wring a series of blog posts out of what I found and what I kept.  Stay tuned.

—————

[1] The April editions—in which we parodied some other publication—are still hysterical.

[2] If your school or school system needs a consultant to kickstart a critical thinking skills component to your curriculum, or help integrate your media center in a more meaningful way, I work cheap.  Call me.

Lost and found

Back in 2010, my Lovely First Wife and I found ourselves in Seattle, where we were staying with inlaws-to-be and attending the Winter Olympics across the way in Vancouver. While there I purchased a little charm, as in charm bracelet/pendant thingie, an old typewriter key: MARGIN RELEASE.

I blogged about it here.

tl;dr: on old typewriters, margins were set by physical metal “tabs,” and if the word you were typing at the end of the line were only going to go past the margin by one or two letters, you could press this key and it would allow you past that boundary.

I bought it to be a talisman on the new Utilikilt I purchased there in Seattle at the flagship store, and I wore it on a little chain attached to a belt loop, along with a little clay talisman of the Man-in-the-Maze design that I got in Jerome, AZ.  The effect was trés woo.

Alas, it has vanished.  I’m thinking that it was last week when I was vacuuming/mulching all the leaves from the labyrinth for an evening out there.  If so, then I might still come across it somewhere.

However, it just as easily could have vanished at any point in the last four or five months.  If it fell off at Alchemy, then I know it’s gone—although I have repeatedly stumbled across items there that I thought were gone forever. Still, I’ve ordered a new one from Etsy, all the way from Australia.  That’s the one in the picture, actually.  I’m prepared to face the margins again.  If the old one shows up, I can gift the new one.

In preparing to write this post, I did a quick search for the original post and realized with something of a shock that it was written at about this time in 2010—seven years ago.  This was before getting and losing the directorship of GHP; before retiring; before becoming ordained by the Universal Life Church so I could perform wedding ceremonies; before I even thought seriously about attending Burning Man or indeed knowing that there was a regional burn here in GA; before formulating the Nine Precepts of Lichtenbergianism and beginning my crusade for world domination.

I have pushed past a lot of margins since then.

Sportsball? Have some cocktails.

I am given to understand that there is some kind of sportsball thing this weekend, and that at least one of the “squads”—I think that’s the correct term—prefers dressing up in red- and black-colored clothing items.

I was also told that acquaintances of my Lovely First Wife were hoping to avail themselves of my cocktail expertise to create a cocktail for this event.  Since I was not available, I offer instead two cocktails that are red and black, created for another concern that prefers red and black.

The first one is a champagne cocktail; the second is a margarita.

Ms. Dawg

  • 1 oz. orange brandy, e.g., Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz. cranberry/pomegranate juice
  • 1 tsp. blood orange bitters
  • champagne/prosecco
  • lime
  • black sugar

Take a small slice of lime and juice the rim of a champagne flute.  Rim with black sugar.  Drop the lime slice into the flute.  Add the first three ingredients, then top off with champagne or prosecco.

Some helpful tips: Make your own Grand Marnier. (This is also useful.)  The blood orange bitters is amazingly available at Publix in the mixer section.  I haven’t checked locally, but both Michael’s and Hobby Lobby should carry Wilton Black Sugar.

Srta. Dawg

  • 1-1/2 oz. tequila, your choice, but for the love of Dionysus, don’t use cheap stuff
  • 1 oz. orange brandy, e.g., Grand Marnier
  • 3 oz. cranberry/pomegranate juice
  • black salt
  • lime wedge

Rim the glass with the lime wedge and black salt; dump the wedge into the glass with ice.  Pour all the other stuff into the glass.  Drink.

The combination of the salt and the sweetness of the juice is a very nice touch.

So there you go, cocktails for your sportsball event party thing.  Enjoy.

The Labyrinth ::sigh::

I was all prepared to rant about that idiot Gregg Phillips, who has been the source of the fable that “3 million illegals voted”[1] in the last election.  I was going to advise Chris Cuomo and other denizens of cable news to confront him, call him a charlatan—A CHARLATAN, SIRRAH— and eject him from the studio.

But I’ve decided to blog about my labyrinth instead.  I’m going to eschew the righteous bitterness of our time and instead radiate hope and light.[2]

Last night, I and several people I like had the chance to sit by the fire in the labyrinth, and we took it.  Since the new iPhone is supposed to be able to take better low-light photos, I put it to work.

This is my favorite place in the worlds.

Isn’t this beautiful?

The new corner (above) is shaping up very nicely.  I have a new stone slab that will be a bench there; stay tuned for updates.

The bowl at the west point.

Either your daily reminder of your mortality or your daily swig of vodka.  It’s all about choices, innit?

My friend Dionysus was in fine fettle last night, broken arm and all.

There, don’t you feel better?  I do.

—————

[1] And yet, somehow, failed to swing the election to Hillary Clinton, for whom they all voted.

[2] Shut up, I am too.

A new cocktail: The Viola Nouveau

I’ve already blogged about the creation of this drink over at Lichtenbergianism.com, but for the sake of completeness I’m adding it here.

The Viola Nouveau

Stir with ice, pour into coupe, twist lemon peel and toss it in, and finish with 3–4 drops more of the bitters.


Violette Syrup (Regarding Cocktails, p. 20)

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz violet syrup, such as Monin Violet Syrup
  • 1 oz simple syrup

It is quite tasty, with a lovely floral/citrus bouquet finishing with the slight bitterness of the gentian in the Suze.

—————

[1] The owners of 18•21 Bitters suggested (via Twitter) naming it The Morning After because it starts sweet and ends in bitter regret or something, but then admitted they weren’t good at naming cocktails.

A meditation on the locker room

You should know that last week I joined the gym.  Ugh.  But especially during the winter months I become more and more sedentary, and it’s just not healthy.

The problem is that the only—and I mean the only—form of exercise I can stand for more than five minutes is swimming.  Yes, I can walk around my lovely neighborhood and downtown (risking that I’ll become the next ‘character’ out there), and yes, we have an elliptical downstairs, but OH MY GOD THE TEDIUM.

Why swimming is any less tedious is just one of those weird mental glitches, I suppose.

So I joined up out at OneLife Fitness, gaining a student rate because of my steely-eyed insistence that I would never, not once, use any machine, take any class, and in general not even look at any part of the facility other than the pool.  Which is both saline and heated, thank you.

I used to swim regularly back when the old Racquetball Club was open on Bullsboro Drive. I would leave school and go straight there every day.  But then it closed and I just never got back into the habit, possibly because the alternative gyms were not on my way home.

It is important to understand that I was never an athletic child.  On the contrary, I was a stick-thin weakling.  Super thin.  Starvation-level thin.  All the other boys grew chests and biceps; I never did, so that’s been a point of envy for a very long time here.

Also, because I was not athletic I was not a habitué of the locker room.  I vividly remember the first time I entered the locker room at Stegeman Hall at UGA for a required PE course.  Merciful heavens, all these creatures walking around stark naked, all bigger and burlier and sleeker than I would ever be.  I was daunted, if that’s the word I’m looking for.

So when I joined the Racquetball Club, I was surprised at how quickly I got over all that.  Trotting from the locker to the sauna to the shower without bothering with a towel just became second nature.  I was not even abashed when one day a member of the church choir I directed at the time inquired about a tattoo that otherwise he would have never seen. Part of that was being 40-something instead of 16, of course, but part of it also was coming to terms with my own body and what it was.

I was therefore not concerned about this new venture, other than the usual uncertainty about the culture therein.  (For the record, out-and-out nudity doesn’t seem to be the thing there.)  It’s a very nice locker room, all wood and tile and luxurious appointments.  There’s a flatscreen TV. Tuned to Fox.

So why am I writing about this at all?  This gym is a much bigger, much busier place than the Racquetball Club, and fitness culture has likewise ballooned since the last time I swam, so there are a lot more men in the locker room than the old place, and more than a few of those men are beautifully put together, prime examples of young manhood.  It’s kind of thing that you would be lying if you said you didn’t notice.

And I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me aware of my now-60-something body in comparison.  But you know what?  Because of what I’ve done in thinking through, planning for, and participating in 3 Old Men—my theme camp for burns—all that happens when I see a nicely built younger man is that I think, “Yep.  My body doesn’t look like that, because I am an Old Man.  I have the body I have because of who I am, of what I’ve lived through and experienced. Cool.”

Plus the godawful amount of work they have to put into maintaining that physique.  OH MY GOD THE TEDIUM.  Ugh.

To see what my thinking was that led to 3 Old Men, at least about the physicality of our bodies, see here and here.

New toys!

So I did a thing.  In an effort to reduce costs around here, we went to the AT&T place to see about getting all our devices onto one account.  In the process, we ended up with new phones, of course.

We were overdue.  Both of us had iPhone 4’s, and that’s pretty antique.  Both were completely functional, but it’s always a matter of time before Apple leaves us behind and we can no longer update the phone or the apps on it.  Better to make the jump to a phone that behaves completely differently than the one you’ve carried for years.

That’s what happened to the Lovely First Wife’s laptop: a little MacBook from years ago, it was still running Mountain Lion or some such as the operating system, and she could no longer update the browser, which threw monkey wrenches into her online payments.  So she got a MacBook Air last month and is humming along.

Meanwhile, upstairs, my old 2012 MacBook Pro was beginning to hiccup.  The battery has been corrupt for a couple of years now; the trackpad no longer allowed me to click and drag; the hard drive was uncomfortably full.

And then last week, I was working on a blog post for lichtenbergianism.com, and suddenly the screen went black, and I found myself looking at the log in screen.  The computer had logged me out without warning.

This has never happened to me, not once in over 30 years of Mac ownership, so I knew it was time to start shopping.

I am now the owner of a brand new MacBook Pro, the spiffy one with the new Touch Bar and Touch ID, which is going to take some getting used to.

I haven’t transferred All The Things from my old laptop yet; the cable I needed to do that was not the cable that ended up in my shopping bag yesterday.  (I’m not going to say that the helpful young salesperson grabbed the wrong box, but the helpful young salesperson grabbed the wrong box.). I know I could do it via wifi, but I can’t imagine how slow and painful that would be.

So after the store opens in another 30 minutes, I’ll be off to correct that error, and then I’ll probably be stuck shepherding my apps and documents onto this new machine.

Light a candle for me.

Irrefutable!

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Here, have a video:

(The actual, irrefutable [!] proof is at 2:38 in the video.)

Those who have been around here for a while may remember my take on the flat earth theory, both the book Flat Earth and my own musings about the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter two years ago.  I mean, bless they hearts.

To recap for those of you too lazy to watch this nice man’s video:

Here we see the set up: the god-fearing flat earth Person, standing on the Actual Earth, with his Globe* and his Airplane.

If you fly a plane from the north pole to the south pole, he says, look what happens.  First…

… you have to start tilting your Airplane down in order to keep your plane level with the Earth.  LEVEL WITH THE EARTH, KENNETH!  This continues without let until…

you are forced to fly your Airplane upside down before you can even land.  This is clearly unpossible, and therefore it is irrefutable proof that the earth cannot be a sphere.

Okay.  Let’s rewind the tape and insert a play by play here.

First we start at the north pole.

Pay attention to the little arrows.  The little blue one shows the tiny Airplane in relation to the Globe*.  The longer green one shows the Airplane in relation to the Actual Earth, which is where our irrefutable Person is, in fact, actually standing.  The blue and green lines are in agreement about which way is up and which way is down.

Roll tape.

… something seems to be happening here…

Hm.  The blue and green lines are no longer in agreement about which way is up and which way is down.  In fact, they are diametrically opposed.  So why is our Person so convinced that the Airplane must be upside down if it flies to the south pole?  Let’s remove the Globe* from the picture.

Why, look, he’s right!  The Airplane is upside down!  In relation to the Actual Earth, it is in fact, irrefutably, upside down.

But that’s not what is happening in real life, is it?  Let’s zoom in on his model and change it into the Actual Earth:

Oh.  The Airplane, in circumnavigating the Actual Earth, would find itself rightside up the entire trip, even when it passes over our now-Australian Person.  Hm.

Let me be very clear: my little demonstration here did not in any way prove that the Actual Earth is a sphere.  But it sure as shootin’ refuted Mr. Hall’s simplest, irrefutable proof that it isn’t.

In other words, this is not the proof you’re looking for, Kenneth.

Thank you.