Yo Ho Ho

I wrote this a few years ago. It's as close as a recurring post as I get. Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, Cap'n and Jack.

As one who has recently discovered his ninja roots, it is with absolute hatred and eternal animus deep warmth and friendship that I wish those smelly, uncouth louts my pirate friends everywhere a happy Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Now it has been true that we ninjas could slit the throats of those barbaric gaijin and they’d be too drunk to notice it relations between our pirate brethren and our good selves have been less than cordial. We ninjas have often blamed the movie industry for this inequity, as they have often been more generous in depicting the hated enemies’ drunken escapades typical pirate life as being something more glamorous than it really is (although, to be quite honest, should I ever find myself about to be boarded by Geena Davis, I would not fight quite so hard as I normally would), whereas ninjas, with the exception of the odd outstanding film (C’mon, you didn’t know that Bruce Wayne was a ninja? As my honored master would say, “Duh!”) have not fared so well at the box office.

Still, we are all thieves and brigands at heart, and we ninjas are prepared to steal into the night and plunge our swords into the hearts of our hated enemies bury the hatchet, so to speak, for one day. I’m sure that we can agree that ninjas could kill every last one of those scurvy, lice-ridden louts before they could prime their puny cannons any further senseless violence would be counter-productive for the loser pirates. Therefore, I propose planting my hira shuriken into exposed pirate throat that this day be marked as one of sorrow, pain and horrible, sudden death for pirates everywhere peace and understanding with our pirate comrades.

After all, they’d do the same for us.

Writing for the real reward

The first time that something I wrote got put in a book I didn't get paid for it. To the surprise of some people, I am totally okay with that. I have been writing on and off (mostly off) since I was sixteen years old. It seems like no matter how hard I struggle, the ladies have decided, I am going to be a writer. For as long as I can remember I have always had the idea in my head that I just want people to enjoy what I write. If someone reads one of my stories, and it puts them in the good place I go when I read, that is worth more than anything a publisher could pay me. When I do finally finish my first book, I will self publish. My reward for a published book will hopefully be the feedback I get from readers. Now come on, I won't lie, it will be nice to see a little green from it, but that is not why I do this.

A few years back some of my now good friends in the Harry Potter fan community decided they wanted to put together an anthology of stories. Written by members of the fandom. The goal was to give the proceeds of the book sales to the New Orleans Public Library to help them rebuild from Katrina. The call for submissions was put out. Librarians from New Orleans provided us with some writing prompts. I wrote a five hundred word story about a girl being cursed by a Djinn because she brought up a line from the movie Aladdin. It got put in the book. My story was among the chosen. My friends and family were thrilled! I was published. In a real physical book. When I explained this to some people, one of the things I was asked was. "So are you getting paid for this?" When I answered no, I got strange looks. Some people could not understand why I would donate my time and creative process. People do this all the time. They work in soup kitchens, or take meals to the elderly. I don't see the difference. Everyone helps in the way they are most capable. My way is writing.

The girls are doing it again. It's time for another book and another cause. I will be happily sending in my submission. Keep your fingers crossed.

Quotation Back Trace

Curiosity can be a passing thought. Other times it's a burning question that latches on and won't let go. An itch that must be scratched. Such was the case upon my glancing at the title of a certain blog post, by Steve Rubel, a quotation that leapt right off the page:

In the future, everybody will be anonymous for 15 minutes.

Who originally made this statement?

Below I've documented the steps I took that in the end, I believe, led me to the horse's mouth. Let's get started.

For the record, it all began here:

So I follow the amusing quote link in Steve's first paragraph:

"the writer asked me what I thought about this amusing quote, which is the inverse of Andy Wharhol's more famous one."

The amusing quote hypertext linked to a twitter message shown below. Working with this tweet, I decide to first look up @bdegraf and interestingly, I get the response That page doesn't exist!. A search.twitter query shows 4 results, 3 of which are a retweet of the quote I'm trying to back trace.

Moving on to the other username, I look up @anselm (this account does exists!) and click More until I get back to the August 20th range where I find:

So at this point on the breadcrumb trail, attribution is pointing back to @bdegraf, a username that twitter reports does not exist. Back to search.twitter to dig for "in the future everybody will be anonymous for 15", which turns up one result:

SecondAttempt: "In the future everybody will be anonymous for 15 minutes" (Bansky) http://www.quotesfromthestreet.com/life-in-egland/the-madame-of-che...

Well now, we hit a site that contains the word quotes in the domain. This is promising. Also, (Bansky) could well be an author reference.


A book quote? Actually no. And the quote does not belong to that one post only, it's the header that appears throughout www.quotesfromthestreet.com. Also, ADVENTURES IN CONVERSATIONAL VOYEURISM is not a book title, it's the tag line of the blog. So now it's time to hone in on Bansky. Off to google to query banksy anonymous 15. Of the first page of results, myartspace>blog: Banksy: Did Banksy Reveal His Identity? drew my attention. On this art-related blog post was a comment containing:

At last: "Banksy", "anonymous" and "Swindle article" in the same sentence. That article might be the original source. Back to google again with Swindle Bansky. Finally, the referenced article is found. Swindle Magazine, a pop culture and lifestyle print publication, has back issues available online. Issue 08 contains an interview with Bansky; unless other prior art surfaces, this is where the quote was first captured:

So there you go. Who is Bansky? A self-described art terrorist according to Wired who rose up in notoriety within the graffiti subculture. Then of course Wikipedia has some things to say. Among other things, he's managed to put on public showings such as this 100-piece art exhibition in the UK; and yet has more or less retained his anonymity.

The quotation was not preserved word for word, but the semantics are nearly identical. The person behind the quote is enigmatic, but all the dots are now connected for attribution to the root source.

File under Curiosity: Satisfied.


UPDATE [2009-09-13 00:10]: Wait! There's more. Commentors on Steve's post are arguing between the true source being the Swindle/Bansky quote versus a lyric from Robbie Williams' song, The Actor, which is on the Rudebox album.

Williams' lyric does exactly match the twitter version, and thus Steve's version of the quote. I'd consider that a strong indication of a match.

However, Rudebox was released in October 2006 while Issue 08 of Swindle appears to predate that album, having apparently been published on or before September 2006.

Did one inspire the other, or was it just coincidence plus the zeitgeist in Britain at the time? This case is not closed.

Eight Years Ago

NEW YORK - JUNE 01:  Gianna Frederique of Silv...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

As I write this, my kitchen clock strikes 12:00 p.m. EST. On this day, one of those anniversaries, I have stopped my work on all fronts to pen my own, personal remembrance.

I have had some teary-eyed moments today. My thoughts have ranged from the general implications of the event eight years ago to the personal implications (I lost a close friend in the World Trade Towers, I nearly lost a close friend in the World Trade Towers, a close friend lost a dear sister-in-law on one of the flights, ...). There are many events in our collective history for which I do not have either personal memory or personal experience. This one, I do. I will never forget where I was or how I felt eight years ago.

I spent a great deal of time that day scared, with my heart firmly in my throat. I spent a great deal of time crying in disbelief. Then I spent a great deal of time immersed in sadness and numbness. I tried to get information, but my internet connection was down. I did not have a radio, but collected what I could from co-workers who did. I left my office very early that morning and, in fact, we had been told that we had to leave the Boston-based skyscraper, for fear of continuing attacks. I joined the slow progression of traffic leaving the Massachusetts capital lost in thought and sadness, unaware yet of the details or implications.

Over the next hours, I vainly struggled to locate my NYC-based friends, plagued by spotty phone and internet service. I kept at it until I ultimately connected with all but one of them. I listened to their own stories of terror, sadness and numbness over the next few hours, days and weeks.

I also received calls from friends and family both near and far, wanting and needing to reach out and "touch" someone else, to reassure that there could be a sense of normalcy in our new, crazy, upside-down reality. I remember, too, the strange effects of fear and suspicion close to home, at levels I had never seen or experienced before.

Ultimately, the strangeness did slow its frenetic pace. My friends, family, co-workers and I have all pretty much returned to what appears, for all intents and purposes, to be a state of normalcy. But can you ever really feel normal or ever return to your state of being prior to such a cataclysmic event? For my part, I don't think I ever will. Every time I look at this Disney limited edition holiday ornament, a gift from a dear friend complete with tiny pewter Twin Towers below a Mickey Mouse-shaped inflatable, my heart skips a beat. Every time I read that children's picture book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, I cannot stop my tears and the familiar hitch in my voice invariably returns by the last page with the drawing of the ghost towers' outline.

I revisited all of these feelings when I attended our friend's memorial service. However, I am no hero. I studiously try to avoid the horror of Ground Zero whenever I travel to New York and, to this day, I have never seen video of the event itself.

I do stop every September 11 to think again on what it felt like then and what it means to me now.

I have so many thoughts about 9-11. I do not have nearly enough time to write them all down. Maybe someday I will.

For now, I think it best to honor in my thoughts those who departed and those were left behind. I honor those who responded immediately and those who direct their efforts towards ameliorating the aftermath. I honor all that is good and kind in humanity and remain hopeful that we will never forget and always look upon 9-11 as supreme motivation for peace.

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Old Technology 2009

Cleaning out things crammed in boxes. Photograph it, then garbage bin it. That's how I get over my resistance to just throw stuff out (actually, the submariner watch I think I'll keep).

Handmade Holiday

Every year with my still shaky crochet skills I try to make gifts for people for the holidays. I have thus far made a shawl for my mom, a scarf and lap blanket for my dad. Various scarves for cold weather friends. A Christmas tree for mom and various people got cotton potholders. This year my plan includes a large scrap blanket for a friend in Salt Lake City, another bevy of scarves (including the Fibonacci scarf up top) and a few new tricks up my sleeve.

I enjoy making gifts for people, but I am always unsure if they really want to get them. It isn't like ages ago, when handmade gifts were the norm, usually due to lack of money or the industrial revolution. The happy news is handmade seems to be making a comeback. It only took the tanking of our economy to push it back to the limelight.

There is also a certain stigma attached to handmade gifts. Some people hear handmade and think of crooked, poorly glued objects or hideously crocheted toilet paper covers. There have been many rotten apples. But truth be told there is an amazing group of people out there that make beautiful things by hand.(check out etsy.com for proof) And I swear I will never made a crochet toilet paper cover with a plastic doll face.


I reached the top of the hill and turned around to face the harbor. I lowered myself onto the long, green park bench and watched the scene unfold. The harbor was full of boats and the loop was full of cars and seafood delivery trucks. At the bottom of my field of vision was the old dory shop and the Maritime Heritage Museum. To the right was the Coast Guard barracks, its right wall parallel to a large tree framing a slice of the outer harbor. The slice occasionally showcased a glimpse of a far-off tall ship racing in the stiff breeze.

A happy realization spread through me: I was alone for an indeterminate period of time. I could sit, watch, listen and breathe as I chose. This is no mean gift for a mother of three small children. What should I do with myself? I sat for some minutes watching the occasional puffy cloud traverse the sky, mirroring the white sails of the ships maneuvering through the harbor. Of course, I looked for shapes and, in keeping with the nautical theme, imagined lots of strangely shaped fish. My eyes were stung by the bright sunlight but I was glad I was without my sunglasses.

It didn't take long for me, though, to close my eyes and lower myself down even more, into a prone position stretched across the length of the bench. The experience changed dramatically. Now I was keenly aware of the changes in temperature as the sun ducked behind clouds. Now I noted every shift in the breeze, my hair and clothing impromptu wind socks. The soft tickle of breeze along my top line contrasted with the hard bench against my back. I could smell a little mown grass, a little oil, a little fried seafood, and a lot of ocean salt. I could hear a constant din of vehicles, people, sirens, bells, and gulls.

In my cone of solitude, I was crowded up against senses that I do not normally indulge. When I am running full-tilt through my day, my receptors narrow the sensory input - a necessary defense designed to encourage operation at peak efficiency. Stopping to smell the roses is counterproductive when you have money to earn and mouths to feed. So this virtual moment out of my day was a rare and wonderful treat for my deprived nerves.

I surprised myself by not falling asleep. But I was completely rested and relaxed by this short spell of basic, primal sensation. When I heard those small but nearing cries of "mommy, mommy", I could open my eyes feeling as refreshed as if I had experienced a full night's sleep. And I couldn't help but smile as I watched the three small, bobbing heads climb the crest of the hill.
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The crisis of faith among Iranian children of Iran- Iraq war martyrs

I have been trying to wrestle with this issue in my head for a while now ... how did the children of those who were killed fighting in Iran-Iraq war become disenchanted with Islam and in some cases with religion in general? Is the same thing likely to happen among American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars?
Most young Iranian men of this category with whom I've had the pleasure of speaking, have a very unique view of Islam.