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shameless pleading





October 2009 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


Well, summer has at long last loosened its sweaty grip upon the simple folk here in Flyover, Ohio, home of TWD’s Go Figure Farm and Deranged Animal Preserve.  Good riddance.  Soon it will be time to decorate the Christmas tree in our front yard, which was bought at a nursery in Connecticut about 15 years ago, lived on our terrace on the Upper West side of Manhattan for a few years, and then followed us to Ohio and found itself planted smack dab in front of the front porch in what has since become apparent was an epic failure to observe even the most obvious tenets of feng shui.  Oops.  Too late to move it.  Among other things, I discovered a few months ago that there’s a very large snake living under that tree.  Moi doesn’t mind snakes, but moi has no intention of even thinking about trying to catch one that big.

Here be serpents.

Here be serpents.

Fifty words into this and already I’m connecting snakes and Christmas. Must say something nice.

Hey, lookie there! This month’s batch of columns are illustrated with the odd little pictures that I had to drop when I stopped hand-coding this circus as static web pages and switched to WordPress.  Part of this artistic resurgence is due to the wider center column of our new theme, but  part is due to my belated realization that I no longer have to take the extra six steps necessary to make each illustration transparent, because the background of the page is now white, not the weird beige of the site of yore.  No more creating an alpha channel, selecting by color, deleting by color, realizing you’ve deleted the whole image, starting over….

Ancient FM is cool.  I do miss the Middle Ages, don’t you?   But they seem to be coming back, don’t they?

Memo to  Nook (Barnes & Noble’s new e-reader) is a much better name than your “Kindle,” which has always, it seems to me, implied that the gizmo is (a) flimsy, and (b) likely to burst into flames.  “Nook,” however, evokes a cozy place to read.  Just sayin’.

This brings back memories.  I think I still have some out in the garage.

Elsewhere in the news, it dawned on me just this morning that this month marks the third anniversary of my diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis (although the doctors seem to believe I’ve actually had it at least since the early 90s, if not earlier).  I must admit that when I was first diagnosed the whole thing struck me as strange and faintly ludicrous, and I spent considerable time pooh-poohing the diagnosis to friends and family.  Over the past three years, and especially the last six months, however, the “progressive” aspect of the disease has gone to town and it ain’t funny anymore.  There are days when I can’t focus my eyes to read and I seem to be losing the ability to walk convincingly.  For the past week I have been unable to stand for more than about fifteen minutes at a time simply from the pain in my legs, which one would think would be offset by the numbness in those very same legs that makes it difficult to tell precisely where they are at any particular moment, but apparently not.  There are, obviously, many worse diseases to have, but I’d avoid this one if they give you a choice.

This is all relevant because all this tedious foofaraw, along with the disintegration of our so-called economy here in the US, has reduced my income by at least two-thirds over the past three years, and it wasn’t much above the starving artist level to begin with.  Add the collapse of the newspaper industry, the implosion of book publishing, and the inconvenient shortage of rich widows, toss lightly with the vinaigrette of gloom settling over my otherwise sunny disposition, and things start to look pretty grim.

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There, wasn’t that easy?

And now, on with the show….

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