Two-Year-Old Boy Carries Unborn Twin

It’s rare, of course, but not unheard of. This recent case from China:

…reminds me of the last time I visited this subject, thanks to Shelley at Retrospectacle (now defunct), when the muse was a… unique… knitting project.

“Teratoma”, or “Knit me a Sister”.

“I have an invisible friend”, I said,
“But she doesn’t hide beneath my bed,
Or in my closet–no, instead,
I keep her tucked inside.”

“We do not mean to condescend,
But we all know, there’s no such friend;
This fabrication now must end.”
My Mom and Dad replied.

“But Mommy! Daddy! Please, I swear!
She’s closer than my teddy bear!
See my tummy? She’s in there!
I even feel her growing!”

My parents didn’t scream or shout;
They trusted me, despite their doubt,
And had a doctor check me out
When something started showing!

My friend was real! I hadn’t lied!
At first, my twin, but then she died.
The doctors cut me open wide
And shoveled out my basement.

I never knew I had a sister,
But once my friend was gone, I missed her;
So, knitting till she raised a blister
My Mom made a replacement!

Waiter! This Coffee Doesn’t Taste Like Shit!

I grind my coffee fresh each day,
A hearty, fragrant scoop
With hints of citric acid, and
A note of civet poop
But with the market full of fakes
I might just have to quit…
I mean, who wants a cup of joe
That doesn’t taste like shit?

Via NPR, the latest on Civet Cat Poop Coffee.

The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal’s digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.

The exotic processing makes the coffee, called Kopi Luwak, exceptionally rare — and expensive: Think $600 per pound. And thus, experts suspect that much of what’s sold as civet coffee on the market is actually either fake or made from low-grade beans.

And worth every penny. Think about it–the only possible reason to buy a cup is conspicuous consumption–showing off–and even more than dusty wine and stinky cigars, nothing says “I’ve got money to burn” more appropriately than paying outrageous sums for a cup of literal shit.

But the story is actually pretty cool. Actually, a lot of coffee chemistry and psychophysics is pretty cool. And the picture of the coffee-bean civet cat shit is classic (the living conditions of the animals, considerably less cool). And while I’d be willing to be part of a blind taste test to evaluate the extravagant claims, there is no way I’d pay for the privilege. Anyone who has seen my wardrobe knows, I am not one for conspicuous consumption.

National Dog Day

So, yeah, I only found out a bit ago from Mano that it is National Dog Day* here. Knowing that I have written quite a lot about dogs, I thought I’d do the lazy thing and see what sort of dog verse (doggerel?) I could dig up. I’ve written quite a few doggy things, from celebrations of rolling in garbage, to wedding weirdness, to religious metaphors, to sirius serious science… and a verse that is taught in schools in India. (And there is so much more–I keep forgetting how damned much I have written over the years–and a non-trivial percentage of it is actually pretty good.) And then I saw this one. And I cried. And kept crying for quite a bit. So, for National Dog Day, the saddest verse I have ever written.

I hope we did what’s best for you
I know, at least, we tried.
I took you to the doctor
And I stayed there at your side;
I talked with you for one last time
Then held you as you died.
I kissed your head, and said good-bye
And cried
And cried
And cried.

Yeah, well… happy National Dog Day.

* I was supposed to post pictures of my dogs, apparently. Problem is, the cuttledogs are weaponized cuteness, and the internets couldn’t take it.

This Time, The Apocalypse Is For The Birds

Predictions of apocalypse
Are found in some religions
This week, for something different, it’s
The end of days… of pigeons

In Moscow, birds are dying—
Ah, but that is not the worst—
The pigeons don’t just die; they’ve been
Becoming zombies first!

They fall to earth as if possessed,
Their muscles strangely weak
They’re listless, twisted, twitching,
And they’re foaming at the beak

It’s probably a virus,
Or so the signs portend,
But others see a different sign:
The world’s about to end

So for the birds afflicted
With a tortured torticollis
Consider your predicament
And maybe take some solace:

Rasputin said the world would end
This August twenty-third…
You’ve only missed a little time,
You poor, infected bird

And if it is apocalypse,
And if it is the worst…
We’ll all be dead by Friday, but
The pigeons got there first

The video is in Russian, but the footage is very creepy indeed. Pigeons are falling from the skies in Moscow, twisting their necks around, seizing, foaming at the beak, and dying. It’s probably Newcastle Disease, according to researchers (viral, and contagious to humans), but it also turns out that the Mad Monk, Rasputin, predicted the end of the world… this Friday. So, clearly, it could be that.

Sure, we’ve seen end time predictions before–I think we’ve lived through 3 or 4 since the inception of this blog–but if you can’t believe Rasputin, who can you believe?

The Other Kind Of Blue Moon

So… I learned something new today. I had known for some time of the “second full moon in the same month” definition, but it turns out that is the second definition. Before it (and still, but less well known perhaps thanks to Nanci Griffith and Patrick Alger), it turns out that a Blue Moon is the third full moon in a four moon season–so tonight is this year’s summer Blue Moon. Or so says space.com, anyway.

Back when I thought there was only one definition, in 2009, specifically, there was a Blue Moon on New Years Eve. Which was pretty cool, if you ask me. I saw it, as I so often do, as an occasion for a verse.

A bit of an explanation first. I realized, upon reading this, that my mom is strange. You see, she has her own way of pronouncing some words–not a regional accent, just her. “Bicycle” is pronounced as if you just put “bi” in front of the word “cycle”; nobody does that. “Aren’t” is pronounced with two syllables; nobody does that. And the phrase “once in a blue moon” has the accent on the word “blue”, like “once in a BLUE moon”. Again, nobody does that. But… the tag phrase to this verse came to me, unbidden, as such things do, and it was pronounced that way. So, no complaining about the meter; I already know.

As the calendar crawls toward the end of the year
And of course, as a brand new beginning draws near
I guess it’s just human to look to the past
At the things we have done; at the lot we’ve been cast,
At the friends we have gained, and the friends we have lost,
At the things we might change, had we just known the cost.
I’ll go quite a long time without thinking of you,
But, once in a blue moon, I do.

A year full of travel, of learning, of fun,
A year I’d have sworn had just only begun
Although it was tough, this was one of the best,
With the children all grown up and leaving the nest
They’re better than me, I’ll admit it with pride,
And I think I might burst, I’m so happy inside!
And my heart doesn’t feel like the thing it once was
But, once in a blue moon, it does.

It isn’t the same, but it never can be,
As time, and as life, moves too quickly for me,
The days—hell, the weeks—are a bit of a blur
And things are not ever the way that they were.
I guess I just mean that I want you to know
That I hope you are happy and well, even though
I may miss you much more than the law should allow,
Just once in a blue moon… like now.

So, happy Blue Moon to you all!

“Foggy Bottom” Ink Review

Foggy Bottom

I purchased this ink,
To be honest, I think
For the picture adorning the bottle.
It’s a cuttle with quill,
And it gave me a thrill
In a way that–in truth–not a lot’ll.
With the ink smoothly flowing
My pleasure is showing
(I’ve never been one to be subtle)
To conclude my review
It’s a beautiful hue:
“Foggy Bottom”–approved by the Cuttle!

Ok, so the truth is, I did not purchase it; it was a gift. But other than that, I am loving this ink. It’s by the good people at Organics Studio, who also make a neat indelible black ink named for Charles Darwin. I can see why I was given this ink–just take a look at the label!

Wait… Shoes Don’t Have To Hurt?

I love my shoes. I love my shoes!
My feet no longer sing the blues
I’ve tried them all—I’ve paid my dues
And now—at last—I love my shoes!

I’ve tried the best of hiking boots
On crowded streets and private routes
(I’ve even worn them with my suits)
My feet don’t care for hiking boots

And running shoes with padded soles
Assured me I would reach my goals
Their argument was full of holes—
My feet just ached in padded soles

My Tevas and my Birkenstocks
I’ve worn both with and without socks—
They yield some thousand natural shocks
…I’d just as soon wear LEGO blocks.

My shoe—the Vivobarefoot Ra—
(No padded sole at all—hurrah!)
I sigh aloud, a vocal “aaaahhh…”
I love my Vivobarefoot Ra.

This is an unsolicited but enthusiastic endorsement; I am receiving nothing from the Vivobarefoot people (my shoes were a gift, but from my kids, not from the company). My feet have hurt for enough years that I don’t give a rat’s ass if someone thinks this post has me selling out. [Read more...]

Send Your Haiku To Mars! (or… not)

Have I mentioned that I hate Haikus? Not real haiku, but haiku as it has been translated into American.

I don’t speak Japanese–well, not much. Very little, but I have been told by a Japanese student that my pronunciation is remarkable. Which, I suspect, is only true in comparison to this student’s experience with other Americans. A low bar is easy to jump.

But I am told that haiku is Japanese like baseball is American. Yes, it has been exported, but not without transplant rejection. Haiku is, I am told, beautiful and perfect in Japanese; in American, haiku is counting syllables. Sometimes more than that, but only rarely, and oh my goodness is it difficult to tell.

But that’s not my point.

My point is, NASA is looking to send three haikus to Mars, with the MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) mission. Three haikus. In English, which means 51 syllables in total.

And I think it is a horrible idea. If you are going to send haikus, have a Japanese competition (the current competition specifies haikus in English). If space (or rather, mass) is at a premium, send heroic couplets. Dirty limericks. Whatever. Hell, you are sending poetry to Mars! Why on Earth (yeah, ok, work with me) are you limiting yourself to 3 haikus? Don’t send it because you can, send it because you must–send poetry that belongs on Mars. That’s the way to do it.

Here’s mine. Spirit was the muse, so Spirit should get to read it.

(off topic… I was astonished at how good it felt not to write for a week or so. I honestly don’t know if that is a good or a bad thing. I am not really back yet, but drafts are returned, and final papers aren’t due for a bit, so I may be around for 2-3 days. Or not. I have discovered there is a real world, so I may explore it for a bit. If you are among those who have read this far… thank you for everything you have done for me!)

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

They paved over Richard—that’s Richard the third
The Richard that used to be King.
Will I be remembered? The notion’s absurd!
But who knows what the future might bring?

Will the world of the future seek out where I rest?
Will they quarry in search of my bones?
Will they pore over details of things I’ve professed?
Will they look for the truth in the stones?

Will I live in the memories of those I have left?
Is this rational thought, or mere snobbery?
Will my grave be exhumed? And, for science, or theft?
Archaeology, maybe, or robbery?

They paved over Richard; they’ll pave over me
And a car-park may cover my head
My bones will be hidden where no one can see…
But I really won’t care. I’ll be dead.

In my opinion, the coolest site by far for looking at all the Richard III stuff is this, the University of Leicester page on the search. Great explanations of the dig, of the DNA search, of the analysis of wounds, of the reconstructed face…