Monthly Archives: March 2015

We Are Oh, So Smart!

Blood_letting.1

We twenty-first century humans are the pinnacle of humanity in so many ways. We can kill one another with great efficiency AND effectiveness. We can blather to the entire world about absolutely nothing, thanks to smart phones and social media (excuse me while I shoot a selfie).

No one in history was as great, and wonderful (and, might I add, humble) as us. We are the undisputed technological winners.

Well, mostly.

There is that thing about Damascus Steel that the ancients could do with sword blades that we have never duplicated. Imagine what amazing Ginsu knives could be made of that! Or weapons for Seals and Delta Force! Or surgical scalpels and medical implants!

We’re proud about our computers and claim them as our own, but then there’s that mechanical computer from the first century found in a shipwreck by Greek sponge divers. Some say that if it had not been lost, civilization would have advanced so that space exploration would have begun centuries earlier.

And now we find that the bacteria that can whup our best antibiotics (with one pseudopod tied behind its back), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be controlled by a concoction from the tenth century. An eye salve, found in Bald’s Leechbook, made from fermented, garlic, cow bile, and wine appears to be effective against the disease in several trials. “Leechbook” because the barabarian healers still believed in bloodletting—yet the barbarians got this one figured out better than we did. (Oddly, my insurance provider doesn’t have it in their pharmaceutical formulary, so if I need it, I have to pay for it out of pocket.)

If we truly are smart, we’ll honor those who came before, and figured out some things that demand our respect.

Geekery for Geekery’s Sake

Dated--but still a great flick

Dated–but still a great flick

We all know that computer geeks love to speak among themselves in terms that defy logic, and the understanding of those they consider “mere mortals.” They speak of “enterprise-wide solutions” when they install software for an entire company. If you have a computer problem, they “open a ticket.”

Okay, we get it. If you spoke in plain English, we’d not be nearly so impressed. But what’s the deal with software names? Why must you geeks choose names that give absolutely no clue as to what the software is supposed to do?

Microsoft Silverlight: Sounds like it should, I don’t know, decrease the mass of a heavy metal? [It deals with streaming media, graphics, etc.]

Avast: Sounds like a program for messaging pirates. [It’s an anti-malware program]

Magical Jellybean: Something to prepare for Easter or Halloween? [It displays the activation codes you entered when installing software.]

While “Word” sort-of, kind-of suggests a word processor, “Excel” does not scream “SPREADSHEET” to me.

CCleaner: Is an anomaly; it means “crap cleaner” as in getting rid of all those leftover pieces of programs you no longer need. But, as I said, it’s an anomaly.

So, to all you computer geeks out there, be warned that, I’m getting ready to frambus on the esperel before re-chwising the quimbrel.

So, there!

Photographs and Memories*

As my wife’s parents move, and since my own parents are gone, there are many photographs that are floating in limbo. I’ve been scanning them under the assumption that digital storage won’t fade and disappear the way silver halide prints do (of course Kodachrome—no longer available—was the one method that provided permanent, beautiful, colorful images). Now the “experts” (hereafter referred to as “them”) recommend printing out all images, because digital images will disappear.

I like seeing photographs of my great-grandfather because I was named after him, and he was the first of the Nowaks to come to America. My great-great-great aunt Matilda (if I even have one)? Not so much.

Not every picture is a treasure, but then some are. The trick is separating the wheat from the chafe.

So when all is said and done, we mere humans need to ———

Guess.

St. Paddy’s Day

shamrock

St. Patrick’s Day is special.

Most days of the year, people point out how “I’m this and you’re that.”

However, today everyone is Irish.

We should have more reasons to find our commonality—real or imagined.

“Oh, don’t you know, ’tis a fine, fine thing!”

Moving—Yuck!

SONY DSCMy in-laws are moving into a retirement home, and we’re helping.

In the business world, there’s an old saying that three moves equals a fire in terms of things that get lost, broken, or whatever.

On a personal basis, I’ve had far too many moves. I tell people that next to leprosy and diarrhea, moving is my favorite thing.

So, although I’d like to write more, I better get ready for the unloading of the truck.

The Chin? Why?

chinIt’s taken me a long time to figure out the chin as compared to other body parts.

Opposing thumb? Great idea!

Eyes, ears, nose, taste buds? They make life worth living.

Those body parts the British call the “naughty bits?” No explanation needed.

After years in the healthcare field primarily focused on anatomy, I’ve always had an appreciation for body parts. But the chin? There’s no reason that the neck couldn’t extend anteriorly and go straight from chest wall to mandible.

Oddly, the tip of the chin is called the mentum from the same root as mental; it refers to the fact that when we think we tend to cup, hold or stroke the chin. So I sat back and thought for a while.

Then it came to me.

As man evolved from the primordial soup, through the multicellular stages, eventually into a warm blooded, erect walking mammal, somehow the genes and chromosomes aligned to form the chin for one reason.

Without the chin, we could never get pillows into pillow cases, or fold bed sheets without help.

It just boggles one’s mind when you realize how amazing Mother Nature is!

Write? Right? Rite? Wrong!

English is certainly a strange language. I was taught the language phonetically, which must have been someone’s idea of a very cruel joke.

Spell “tough.” Now spell “though.”

“But I don’t know how to spell them.”

“Well, then look them up in the dictionary.”

“But if I can’t…never mind.”

Sincere and insincere are opposites. Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing even though dealing with fire should be the one area in which there should be no room for confusion.

Then, of course, you’ve got all of those weird plurals: a pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, and a shitload of politicians.

As if it isn’t confusing enough, every single group comes up with its own jargon.

Then, people have the nerve to complain that, “No one understands me.”

Not Quite Dead

You may know my name—J. Parrington Morrison, but I tended to mingle only with business associates who could in some way support my goals and objectives. I was always quite focused, which is how I flipped businesses the way others flip houses. I’d convince a venture capital group to buy into a business, kill off any long term efforts like research and development, training, and a lot of marketing. I’d pump what was left into current sales so that the quarterly financial statements looked good, then use a little creative accounting on the balance sheets. It’s the business equivalent of painting and putting in new carpeting—it looks better, but it’s still the same old house underneath.

I’d take my profit and move on while the new CEO, left with hollow company, would take the blame for the company’s demise two or three years later. I figured one good short term deal after another was every bit as good as a long term focus. I lived well, especially since I could write so much off my taxes, but there was one long term project. I invested some money in long term, extremely safe government bonds and treasury notes; I even spread it around different countries since you never know which country will prosper and which one won’t even be in the history books. Given time, it will put a king’s ransom to shame.

Then I bought time. Within seconds of my “death” at a ripe old age, a special team whisked my body away and carefully prepared me for cryogenic storage. Somewhere in a stainless steel tube, my body is now bathed in liquid helium or nitrogen or something, waiting for the day when medical science can bring me back and fix me. I have no idea how long it’s been, but I certainly didn’t expect to be aware while my body is waiting to be repaired.

The best way I can describe myself is “transparent.” It’s like I’m not all here physically, but I’m also very different mentally–transparent. It’s not like being a ghost—I don’t see places or anything living—but I sort of get glimpses of the dead. They also seem faint or transparent, but I only get a glimpse from time to time, almost like seeing something reflected in rippling water at twilight.

I never believed in an afterlife or heaven or anything, but the dead seem to be enjoying whatever they’re experiencing, and they certainly seem to enjoy one another since I never see any of them alone. They’re always together with someone or part of a crowd, and I can tell they are smiling, laughing, and sharing. Sharing is big with them; they share food and drink and who knows what all.

I’ve had plenty of opportunity to think—years? Decades? Centuries? Who knows? I’ve decided that I would be better off dead. Don’t forget—I should be. I should be long dead and forgotten by the world. My plan to be restored seems so pathetic now; why would I want to live in a world that will no doubt be totally different from anything I ever knew? Do I really want to grow old and “die” a second time, or a third? It was a great short term plan, but sucks as a long term plan—as in eternity.

I think what I get glimpses of is heaven, and if there is a heaven, then there must be a God. I never thought I’d ever say that; there must be a God. If God is everything I’ve heard, but always denied, He must know. He must know where I am, what has happened, and what I need. If I pray, maybe He’ll hear me.

God, uh I’m not too sure as to how to pray, but I guess You know that. What I’m praying for is to be set free from my attempt to bind myself to life. Let my frozen body release its hold on me.

He prayed for what seemed an eternity, his prayers eventually showing a bit of wisdom. He began to figure out what should have been important while he had been fully alive. He decided to accept whatever fate God had planned for him.

In a long abandoned laboratory, somewhere in what had once been called “Wyoming,” one of the stainless steel cylinders sprung a pinhole leak and vented the last of its liquid nitrogen. The cylinder began to warm, its contents, the body of someone once named J. Parrington Morrison began to thaw and go the way of all flesh.