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Folly of the Faithful Canine
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in deckardcanine's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, August 20th, 2016
9:41 pm
...And Statistics About Lies
The study of lies isn’t easy.
Who knows just how often it’s done?
Depends if you count writing fiction
Or kidding around just for fun.
And what of nonverbal deception,
Like wearing a sort of disguise?
The estimates further are hindered
By people who lie about lies.
For my part, I don’t think that babies
Are lying before they can speak.
So what if they cry by volition?
They don’t know another technique.
It’s all about saying, “I want stuff!”
I’m certain that’s perfectly true.
The researchers prob’ly aren’t lying
But think they know more than they do.
Sunday, August 14th, 2016
11:54 pm
PC: Planetary Contact
Some extraterrestrial life forms arrived,
Got onto the airwaves, and then
Announced to the listening people of Earth,
“Do NOT call us ‘little green men.’”
The speakers in question were smaller than us,
But “little” seems rather degrading.
Their skin was much greener, but they didn’t like
Identification by shading.
Their humanoid shapes meant that some could be “men,”
But others were women or kids.
It soon became clear that the terms they don’t like,
Our PC decorum forbids.
Saturday, August 13th, 2016
10:11 pm
Book Review: Eragon
When I reported receiving this book as a gift, one forumite replied, "Ouch." It's a pretty polarizing book, tho not on the same level as Twilight. Author Christopher Paolini was only a teen, and his parents ran the publishing, which would call the quality into question. So what if he did great in school? He still has a lot to learn, right? But I was still curious, and the unpopular screen adaptation wouldn't do.

Read more...Collapse )

But I've learned not to mind low originality or even predictability when enough else goes right. At no point in the nearly 500 pages did I feel like giving up; it was always at least adequate in entertainment. That's more than I can say for a lot of fantasies I've reviewed here. Had I been Paolini's age, I'd probably love it. I won't pick up volume 2 any time soon, but I'll keep it in mind if I ever want to return to the basics that got me into the genre in the first place.

Now I've started on a short sci-fi novel, Fred Saberhagen's Berserker. Not sure how long it can sustain its opening level of intensity.
Monday, August 8th, 2016
12:11 am
Regarding My Sister
My sister is two years my junior,
And thus I can partly recall
Her life as a baby or toddler,
Tho not from before she could crawl.

She used to take me as a model,
Advancing much sooner than I’d,
And later outdid me at talents
In which I had taken much pride.

It caused me some real consternation,
And so I would push her around,
Yet Mom says we got along nicely
Compared to the norm that she’d found.

We did enjoy playing together.
There came a predictable trend.
By college, I’d lost all resentment;
My sister was simply a friend.

Last year, when she called up and told me
Her boyfriend proposed, I said, “Wow!”
(That’s one way she’s light-years beyond me.
I doubt I’ll be catching up now.)

The wedding is finally over.
Her life as a wife has begun.
I look back and think how she’s blossomed
And wish her the best with her hon.
Sunday, July 31st, 2016
10:43 pm
I know some folks have little use
For drinking any kind of juice.
They note that fruit has more nutrition.
Sure, but please hear my position:
Fruit is food and juice is drink.
You don’t quench thirst with food, I’d think.
What else to drink? There’s coffee, tea,
Some drinks for sports and energy,
Then soda (pop), then alcohol;
But juice provides more health than all
Of those, from what I understand.
That just leaves milk and water, man.
Some folks can’t take the former one,
And water soon stops being fun.
It’s no surprise I like to stock
My fridge with juice, so don’t you mock.
Sunday, July 24th, 2016
10:51 pm
This Poem Will Not Be Remade
We’ve gotten used to sequels,
Which are sometimes more than equals
To their semi-classic predecessor fare;
But remakes get us groaning,
‘Cause the writers must be phoning
In their work to use a plot already there.
It’s really not essential,
Even with untapped potential
In the sources, as with up-to-date effects
Or modern all-star casting
(Actors want a role that’s lasting)
Or more violence, profanity and sex.
When people see a menu
Of what’s coming to their venue,
They may ask, “Is their idea well running dry?”
Me, I find the question funny:
If you followed all the money,
Then you wouldn’t have to ask the reason why.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
3:16 pm
Some weeks ago, the Red Cross sent me a letter saying that I had tested positive for syphilis, but a follow-up test said otherwise. That was my second false positive this calendar year, and they will not allow a third. I didn't take the notice seriously until my dad tried to schedule another appointment, whereupon the system said I'd be eligible to donate blood or platelets in 2290.

I know for a fact that I don't have syphilis. Not only do I exhibit no symptoms, but I've done nothing that could spread it to me. I could get a doctor to back me up on this. But reps on the phone have assured me that it would make no difference. The Red Cross knowingly uses an extra-sensitive test prone to false positives. They're not taking any chances.

For this reason, I'm declining my parents' suggestion to write to a higher-up in the organization. I accept that they will never accept my blood or platelets again, barring a policy change. Hope they don't run dry any time soon.

My folks' next suggestion is to get more actively...activist in another way. I think I'll increase my financial donations to the Red Cross instead.

The other thing I can do is encourage others to give blood in my stead. If you don't have a blood-injection-injury phobia or another disqualifying factor, please consider.

Perhaps it'll help if I describe my experience.

Cut for lengthCollapse )

Maybe that honest testimony just reinforces your dread, but I like to think it makes the scenario less alien to newcomers. It should help prepare you.

And if you need one more incentive, it was the pet cause of Robert Heinlein.
Monday, July 18th, 2016
12:21 am
Watch Where You Stretch
A jogger put hands on a pillar,
Extending his leg for a stretch.
An onlooker thought he was trying
To topple the building, that wretch!
Another supposed he was lending
His strength to support it erect.
But the phrases “hold up” and “knock over”
Can mean the same thing in effect,
And so, as an officer heard it,
Two witnesses spoke of a thief.
The jogger was swiftly arrested,
All thanks to mistaken belief.
Sunday, July 10th, 2016
10:13 pm
Hard to Figure out the Angles
Here's something hard to get about a comic work of art:
If everybody's dumb in it, then how can it be smart?
I have in mind a certain strip of malapropic fools,
Who frequently confuse themselves and break a lot of rules.
The bulk of them, as lousy friends, don't treat each other fairly,
Yet sins are soon forgotten; lasting changes happen rarely.
I feel as if I ought to call the comic strip a no-go,
But I can't hate cute animals, especially not Pogo.
Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
4:47 pm
Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
While the main trilogy volumes of The Kingkiller Chronicle are tomes, this spinoff is an unusually slim circa-150-pager with larger print and some B&W drawings. That doesn't make it geared toward a younger audience; after all, Patrick Rothfuss himself advises us in the foreword not to start here. Actually, he warns us that even preexisting fans may not want to read it, because it's missing a lot of what we'd expect. In the afterword, he describes how he almost didn't submit it for publication -- and much of the feedback is along the lines of "I like it, but I don't know who else would." I tentatively parrot that sentiment.

Find out how it"s strangeCollapse )

Feeling ready for a tome once again, I've picked up Christopher Paolini's Eragon. I've heard mixed reviews of it, but so far it's no worse than cliche.
Sunday, July 3rd, 2016
1:23 pm
By popular demand (sort of), I've submitted another entry to the poem contest. Once again, I chose the limerick format, because it seems conducive to humor.

A lady atop a tourelle
Lost her balance and frightfully fell,
But she didn’t land hard,
Falling half of a yard.
(The emphasis goes on the “-elle.”)
Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
2:24 pm
In the last few weeks, I've been reading my LJ in reverse. I started out just looking for my old poems and their dates, but the further back I went, the more I felt like reading other entries and comments in detail. (Note that after a certain point, you can't get a whole page with multiple posts; you have to click thru them individually.) Eventually I made it to my debut on February 25, 2004, more than a third of my life ago. My last semester in college.

It interested me to see how much I did and did not remember. Some people and events had completely slipped my mind. Some amusing observations amused me anew. Sometimes I surprised my present self, like when I'd resolved not to rent video games anymore. (When the last local video store closed, I missed the option.) Most of my predictions have failed to come true.

I knew I used to be both more religious and further to the political left. What I'd forgotten was how uncertain I acted. Nervous to the point of wimpy, even. And I kept feeling guilty, often for reasons beyond my control. So as usual, I like my present self better than my past self.

Sometimes I'd written something badly enough that I considered editing, but at this point, who else is going to look back that far? Besides, it feels like a retcon. I kinda want to keep the imperfections as a reminder of how I used to be.
Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
4:32 pm
Book Review: The Martian Chronicles
My past exposure to Ray Bradbury consisted of the 1966 film of Fahrenheit 451, which I saw in high school; and the short story "Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed," which I read in sixth grade. The latter did not impress young me as a thriller: So what if the immigrants to Mars gradually change beyond recognition, as long as they're healthy? It turns out that Bradbury envisioned even the native Martians as dark and golden-eyed -- assuming they weren't actually supposed to have descended from humans. Given some of the other weirdness in this book, I can't rule that out.

Cut for lengthCollapse )

Wishing for a more feminine focus, I've picked up The Slow Regard of Silent Things, a sort of spinoff to The Kingkiller Chronicle. I won't forget about Auri anymore.
Sunday, June 26th, 2016
2:33 pm
At my mom's suggestion, I wrote today's poem for the latest Style Invitational contest. It involves a short poem using a 2016 National Spelling Bee word. I figure the limerick format's a good bet:

There once was a fellow named Zachary,
Who woke up one morn in a vaccary,
At the sound of a moo.
At that moment, he knew
That he shouldn’t have had that last daiquiri.
Sunday, June 19th, 2016
12:24 am
A Father's Day Tie
One Father’s Day, my father got a tie,
But not the sort you likely had in mind;
In fact, my statement borders on a lie:
It wasn’t of the neck-encircling kind.
He saw it and he started getting tense.
He knew the tie would not persist for long,
But none of us could confidently sense
If he would find the upshot right or wrong.
Mere minutes later, Dad stood up and raved:
His day had come up roses after all!
The tie now broken, victory was saved
By Orioles remaining “on the ball.”
Sunday, June 12th, 2016
11:03 pm
Mark My Word
When I started to work at transcription,
I learned some unfortunate truths.
For example, we don’t speak that neatly;
Ad-libbing, we sound much like youths.
Some words get repeated too often.
We stutter and stammer a lot.
It’s common to backtrack on phrasing.
In writing, this doesn’t look hot.
Besides that, it takes me much longer
To write it all down than I thought.
At times I play lines back ad nauseam
To figure out what had been said.
Some audio programs are faulty,
With oversize skips that I dread.
In spite of all this, I continue
Both freelance and office-type work
Either writing or editing transcripts.
It still hasn’t made me berserk.
Monday, June 6th, 2016
4:40 pm
Book Review: Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon
I heard of Spider Robinson's sequential short-story collection from a forum associated with the Cross-Time Cafe webcomic. My folks tell me it was tough to find a copy; the one they got for my birthday was printed in the '70s, not longer after the stories' original publications. Guess it's a real cult classic.

Come for the drinks; stay for...quite a few thingsCollapse )

It's not exactly the fun fest I'd been hoping for, but it mostly works on its own terms. I appreciate the shortness of both the chapters and the whole book, even if it leaves me curious what else might happen at Callahan's afterward.

Now I've started a book more famous and more immersively sci-fi: The Martian Chronicles. So far it's pretty strange in its own right.
Sunday, May 29th, 2016
11:48 pm
Feeling Irked
That guy can be so dumb and—eh?
I’m not sure what’s the word to say:
The adjectival form of “jerk.”
Uh, “jerkish”? No, that doesn’t work;
The suffix “-ish” sounds noncommittal,
While this jerk is not so little.
Let me check in Webster’s Third….
Oh my goodness, how absurd.
First of all, I think that “jerky”
In this context sounds too quirky.
Secondly, the next edition
Better have more definitions.
“Jerks” today aren’t just inane;
They’re normally a royal pain
From acting rude or downright mean.
The only time I’ve heard or seen
The word mean “fool” was in that flick
In which Steve Martin acts real thick.
The fouler synonyms as well—
No adjectives that I can tell.
Our language shifts and still we find
That certain needs get left behind.
(I’d better let my rant be through,
Lest someone deem me “jerky” too.)
Thursday, May 26th, 2016
6:09 pm
Book Review: The Book of Ti'ana
I rescued this pretty tome from the giveaway shelf before my company saw fit to discontinue it. If it weren't free, I wouldn't have bothered. As it was, I surprised myself a little by actually reading it -- in full, no less.

See, it's based on the Myst series, on which I have mixed feelings. Besides, adaptations from games to anything other than games rarely do well. Certainly literature offers no direct interaction, and the graphics are limited to the occasional B&W drawing of ordinary scenery. But the Myst-verse seemed ripe for decent extensive storytelling, not least because of its major premise of Linking Books that literally transport you to other worlds when you touch pages.

My personal experience of the series consists of large chunks of the first and third games and all of the second. Thankfully, this book by game co-developer Rand Miller was written in 1996, so I wouldn't expect to get left behind with assumptions of preexisting knowledge of later entries.

Plot summaryCollapse )

HuhCollapse )

I'm glad to move on to a more consistently favored classic in the wake of my birthday, Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon by Spider Robinson. My sources offer no alternative first name for him, so no wonder he grew up to be peculiar.
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
11:04 pm
You Were Due for an Upgrade, Right?
One day my mom forgot her phone
And looked for it when she came home.
She called it up and heard the sound,
But still the phone remained unfound.
It had to be within the kitchen,
But exactly what position?
Finally, the phone was traced—
Inside a paper bag of waste.
The cleaner hadn’t noticed when
She poured the trash in from a can.
My mom believes a certain cat
Had deemed her phone a thing to bat
Right off the desk, and thus it fell
Into the can. Gee, kitty, swell.
The lesson learned: We must take care
To leave no pricey stuff just there.
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