Into the Vortex

I've been crawling up this a'a rock cliff for far too long, my fingers already bloody and torn to shreds, moving so slowly as to barely outrace the rising tide, when I hear a splash below me.



So the disciples are crossing Galilee in a boat, and a storm suddenly blows in. And they panic. And at some point, they wake Jesus up. "How can you be sleeping? Can't you see we're in danger?"

One way to read their reaction is as an overreaction. Another is to trust that, as veteran fishermen, they knew their business, and they actually were in very real danger.

Here's me: "This is a pretty rough storm. I don't know how we're going to survive. But I don't want to wake Jesus up. He might think I'm just overreacting. And that I don't know my way around a boat."

Here's Jesus: "Bah. How much rougher do I have to make this storm before this guy wakes me up and asks for help?"

"Ariel to Prosper"

(after Browning's Caliban Upon Setebos)

Nay, spirits, leave your dramas, gambols, games–
He does not hear. He is as ignorant
Of this as he is of Miranda's tears;
As she is now of us. Begone. I'll speak
To him alone.
                Alone. Indeed, "alone."
I'll speak to him "alone." Miranda shall
Not hear me, nor shall you. These fifteen years
Have worn you much, tho' I am little changed
In these last thirty, freed from witch's tree.
You thought 'twas for that service that I served
And did so while you lived upon the isle.
You took your leave. the world again made right,
And gave me mine. I reveled in release.
I followed summer: sun, warm breezes, light.
But now it's gone, chased off by winter's Queen,
A Sycorax herself. The seasons of
Such spirits as I am are my own choice,
But I have not been able to escape
This numbing sense that will for nothing thaw.
(It almost seems as tho' I had a heart–
Or something like a soul–that will not bleed.)
How often now these thoughts come back to me
Of rollicking days upon the isle; of tricks
We played (I played for you); of music in
The air, sweet air, perfumed by faery dance.
Ah, lord! You thought I wanted freedom, yet
I only wanted, wished for, freedom's hope.
Your promises to me were sweeter than
Reality. My life is all illusion,
Made of air and magicks of the light.
While yours is made of blood and dust and death.
How is it I'm so mastered by a man?
Is not the spirit more than sickly flesh?
I thought that rendered service broke my bonds,
And thought that broken bondage was my goal.
But now, detached from obligation, free,
I find that independence does not bring
The power I expected. Instead it blands
The purpose power needs to be of use.
A man unwomaned is the same as one
Unmanned. Tho' you were mortal, I immortal,
You were god, and I was man. 'Twas you
Who were the cause and I its caretaker.
For your mortality takes you beyond
This life of shadows, while my deathlessness
Forever binds me to this airy earth.
This furnished room becomes you all too well,
Good master. Hardly does it seem our wet
And noisome cave. And yet our island was
A paradise. Altho' you chose Milan
To be your heaven-home, to me it is
A thieving hell. Now enters Ferdinand.
Miranda's let the candle burn too low
And his fresh lanthorn brightens all
The dark'ning room. But still I am unseen.
Sweet lord, unless you wake to call my name,
There will be none to know that I exist.
Awake, good sir, and bind me to your service!
All hail, great wizard!
                Grave sir, hail the grave.
Give over, Ariel. Thy words, and love,
Are unrequited. So.
                Sleep well. I'll go.

Bruce Brooks, The Moves Make the Man

If you are teaching secondary English (say 8th grade on up) and you have any say over books you will study with your students, I have a strong recommendation: The Moves Make the Man, by Bruce Brooks.


Smartphones are like King George III.

"Smartphones are like King George III. Not the worst king ever. Just the wrong combination of high taxes, indifference and despotism for a people that determined to manage themselves better. And what they over-tax is more precious than money." --M.Long

A poem for my daughter, who loves me enough to make my lunch

Before you are much older,
And certainly before you have a chance to make my lunch again,
I will teach you to always run your own code and to
Not put cinnamon in the chicken salad.

(Hat tip to Billy Collins)

User experience design is partly about how you set the table...

...and partly about always asking yourself, "What could possibly go wrong?"

A funny thing happened on the way to the lunch counter...

In August of 2015, the medical industry began taking an unprecedented and mostly unwarranted interest in my affairs.


"Chicago O'Hare, 2:00 A.M."

Well, there you go. Again. And i am left
To think that love is still a function of
The time two people spend together or
Apart. And here i sit, abandoned in
An airport's long and weak and empty night,
Bored forceless with flourescent crossword chills,
An airport i despise, remembering
That last time i was here, you weren't.
You never were. There goes another plane.
Untouchable, in sight, but never seen
Again. I watch and wonder who's on board.
How close those people are, how meaningless
That is

And why not me? Why not, indeed? Because.
and when you said goodbye (or did you?), i
Was caught up by a Momentary shame
At having failed and not yet lost. i felt
Your Grace, a Lady's Grace, forgiving me
For being such a clod, for saying what
i did not mean, for never saying what
i thought, for thinking it at all. And if,
At last and now, i saw you through this glass
And on your way, my Heart would shout, would beg
To shout my heart, and yours, and i would watch
You out of sight and not pick up a chair
And throw it through the window, not command
Security to let me pass and damn
The X-ray and the rules Out of the way
And stand aside or i'Il blow up the world
Instead i stand and watch you go and play
My part as member of the crowd and lose
My heart; as though i had no right to a­-
ny other role and now it's true.

Sets of 10 rules for writing

Starting with Elmore Leonard and moving on through Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, P.D. James, and others.

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All original writing © by Skipper Pickle.
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