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31 May 2010 @ 08:53 pm
I haven't posted much in ages, and very few of the crowd that comprised my friends are posting more than sporadically, either. The implication is clear. It was truly a privilege to get to know you folks, and I wish you all well. Ave atque vale.
17 March 2010 @ 03:57 pm
Two in one day!

Kucinich will support Obama health overhaul

Court: Pa. DA can't bring 'sexting' charges

The stars must have been just right for two such retreats on the stupidity front.
04 January 2010 @ 11:09 am
Kind of hibernating. 2009 is going to go down as a year in which I did not do much.

Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing when you consider what lots of other people did in the past year. I did not get my car stuck on a railroad track because that's where my GPS told me to turn. I did not get any tattoos with the potential to embarrass me later in life. I was not arrested after an altercation with a paparazzo. Neither Mrs. Merk nor I chased each other down the road with a golf club. I did not participate in a reality show, crash a White House dinner, nor claim to fly through the sky in a giant Jiffy Pop package.

So, in that context, I've got a pretty good record for the year.

And I did manage to accomplish a few things. Kept in touch with friends in my usual sporadic manner. Walked a fair number of miles in the company of happy dogs. Wrote a few piddling articles. Raised a joyful glass while watching a Presidential inauguration. Traveled to Alaska for my 52-year-old brother's shotgun wedding. Helped coordinate preservation efforts for a small but interesting historic building here in Tinytown-On-The-Bay, wasted a lot of time in Second Life, and steadfastly resisted all pressure to get a cell phone.

But largely, I've been vegetating.

One major reason that the inner-ear problem which wrecked the hearing in my left ear more than two decades ago, awoke from its dormancy and showed designs on my right ear. It's too soon to say whether I will need to brush up on my sign language, but the dizzy spells which increased as the year passed markedly affected my energy level, and reached the point by December where driving became problematic. C'est la vie, que sera sera, and God grant me the serenity not to punch any holes in the wall that I can't readily repair.

Anyway, life goes on regardless, and I hope 2010 turns out well for everyone.
16 May 2009 @ 03:18 pm
One week ago today, my brother became a first-time father in his early 50s. I have not been optimistic about what this might do to his delightfully sardonic and irreverent personality.

Yesterday, however, he called and began a lengthy report on his daughter's every minute of life so far.

By the time he began discussing the baby's refusal to sleep except when held by one of her exhausted parents, I'd had enough of the subject, and asked, "Can't you just smack her on those occasions?"

Without missing a beat, he replied, "I believe what you're supposed to do then is shake her."

Perhaps all is not lost after all.
13 May 2009 @ 06:28 pm
About a week ago, a friend and former co-worker wrote a very moving entry on her blog sparked by hearing a particular song from the early 1960s. She went from noting that this was the first 45 single that she ever bought, to a vivid and poignant description of growing up poor in the rural Midwest.

Today, in Second Life, my character was dancing at a rock 'n roll club with a... um, longtime friend... when that very tune came over the sound system. I was about to exclaim, "Hey, that's the song so-and-so was writing about the other day!" when I suddenly realized my Second Life friend knew absolutely nothing about my real-life friend's blog post.

I guess it shows I am fuzzing the boundaries pretty well when I expect that my SL and RL friends know each other and are reading the same blogs.

Memo to Merk: get out more.

12 May 2009 @ 03:43 pm

Just received a message from a friend with some very busy grandkids. Here's an excerpt, transcribed verbatim:
...then we came home to a baton rectal, 2 gymnastics recitals, a first communion and a confirmation that weekend...
I would gladly go to the gymnastics program, and I'd attend the communion and confirmation if I had to, but leave me out of that first one.
... my last words will be a hearty Fuck you! to everyone who chirps, "Well, I LIKE snow!" when I mention we're expecting another eight inches overnight.
18 February 2009 @ 09:08 am
And in the fashion of her generation, she's putting it all online.

This is a young lady I've known for about ten years.  She began working as a volunteer for our park as a young teenager, and very quickly impressed everyone on the staff with her intelligence and her work ethic.  We watched her grow, graduate from high school as class valedictorian, go off to college, come out, and blossom in a long-term relationship with another young lady who seemed very much right for her.  Just a few weeks ago, I spent a thoroughly enjoyable day with the two of them, sharing some of my favorite  photography spots along the Lake Superior shore.  I was touched by what a sweet couple they seemed, openly affectionate and unashamed, yes, but more importantly so tender and caring toward one another in the many little things that make all the difference.

Then this weekend, my friend came home from a visit with her parents to find that her partner had dumped her.  Without warning... for a guy she'd known about a week.

How did I find all this out?  Minute-by-minute updates on Facebook.  I got to read her first, horrified posts upon getting the news. I got to read follow-ups through the day,  and this morning I learned she spent the night throwing up. 

And though part of the 58-year-old guy that I am wants to cover his ears and holler, "TMI!"  far more of me wishes there were more I could do then typing (((hugz))) and hitting ENTER.
10 February 2009 @ 09:42 am
The fire stories coming out of Australia are especially gripping to anyone familiar with the history of the upper Midwest, a region that historian Stephen Pyne called a "tinderbox" around the end of the nineteenth century. Though the 1871 Peshtigo holocaust may have been the worst, killing some 1,200 people in and around the Wisconsin mill town, it was only one of many catastrophic fires to savage the region during the logging era. The Hinckley fire of 1893 killed some 600 Minnesotans, while the 1918 Cloquet fire killed 400 or so in that town, while associated blazes accounted for as many as 600 in the general region. Less famous fires devastated Ironwood, Michigan, in 1887, Cumberland, Wisconsin in 1898, my own Washburn in 1888.... the list goes on and on.

Nonetheless, even with historical perspective, news reports coming in from southern Australia are astounding. Latest updates indicate that while the official death toll now stands at 181, authorities fear it may climb as high as 300.

Observers half a world away, comfortable in their faith that modern communications, fire-fighting technology, and emergency response capability far exceed the resources available to our ancestors, stop in their tracks and wonder how a twenty-first-century fire can produce a nineteenth-century body count. This fire will be studied for years to come, with causes and lessons-learned providing material for debates and dissertations for a long time.

One christian leader has no doubts, though: his god was teaching the Aussies a lesson. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Pentecostal preacher Danny Nalliah announced that he learned in a dream that Jehovah had removed his "conditional protection... from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb," going on to add, "The Bible is very clear. If you walk out of God's protection and turn your back on Him, you are an open target for the devil to destroy."

In other words, it's all on account of abortion reform. "You kill fetuses," says the creator of the christian universe, "and I'm going to kill you, your neighbors, and also much cattle."

I'm not going to repost it, but if you really want to see what a prick Pastor Nalliah's god is, check out the picture of the burned koala bear here.
02 February 2009 @ 08:56 pm
Putting things in perspective:

Don McLean's American Pie was number one on the singles charts in January, 1972.

That was thirteen years after the Clear Lake plane crash.

It's been thirty-seven years since American Pie.

Now don't I feel old...