Final Thoughts of the Night, 2011

Each night, shortly before going to sleep, I tell my wife a Final Thought. These may be funny, they are likely to be stupid, they may be vaguely story-like, they may be pseudo-philosophical and intelligent-sounding, they may be almost mythic from a spur-of-the-moment mythos. The topics have spanned a wide range of subjects: animals, steampunk, food, technology. Anything that pops into mind is fair game. The full story is at the bottom.

July, 2011 110719Don't forget to rub octopus lips on your forehead. 110720When the hands of the clock of Time reach out to grab you by the neck, stroke them gently. Once you have calmed them and they rest kindly on your cheek, bash their knuckles with the ruler you have hidden behind your back. 110721When nuts are on your knee, ... (And I forgot the rest.) 110721When the raccoons come for tea, it is important to remember that there's only one Kansas album they want to listen to, and they want to hear it on tape. 110722Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and pigs never remember the words, not to mention that pigs only ever want to play the viola. 110723When you shake the pillars of Heaven, don't be surprised if more than dust falls on your head. Thunder, lightning, flame wolves, and jello tentacles of doom are all to be expected. 110724When you buy mutual bonds, it is important to get two sets of keys so you're both able to unlock them. 110725The keys to the kingdom are light as a feather, yet they draw the keymaster inexorably down until the foetid waters of the swamp close over their head. 110726The torch uplifted by Guardian Bear burns brightest when the Crows fly south to feed. 110728In First Contact situations, it would behoove you to remember that not all species share the same sense of humor. 110729When the Bookbinder boards your galley, all your leaves will fade like a tin-folio hat in the press of relative proofs. 110730The valor of chipmunks is stronger than the valor of tigers. 110731The paths of the fjord-alfar shine crimson when the pure-eyed archer lifts his voice in song.

August, 2011 110801When reavers and their zombie robot skeleton armies come knocking at your door, shut the blinds and pretend you aren't home. 110802Saddling a horse is a cinch. 110802Sharing the covers is as important as expressions of undying love. 110803When riding on a Mardi Gras float, rarely is it proper to throw bees at the crowd. 110804The hedgehog knows where the fox hides his dirty laundry. And how to make excellent brownies. 110805The cheese in the pannier tastes as good as the cheese on the silver salver. 110806The contentious nature of the shark is illustrated by its teeth, which are fighting to get out of its mouth. 110807Come the dawn, the Hounds of Sleep must spend the day chasing their own tails. 110808While the peg-leg was always the most popular option among pirates, the happiest pirates were always those who chose the pug-leg. 110809A legal pad is where a lawyer hangs his hat. 110809When the wren comes singing her warbling aria at the door, even the miser will give her scraps. Isn't the crow, belching out his rasping croaks, just as worthy of delicacies? 110810I have it on good authority that the Piper at the Gates of Dawn was not welcoming the morning, but was, in fact, bidding it good night after a typical night carousing in the forest taverns. 110811After a lifetime of assertions to the contrary, you can no longer deny being a math weenie when you verify the result of a calculation given in a children's book. 110812The paws of the Great Raccoon that sleeps high in the deep winter sky will always guide you home to warmth and safety. 110813Have you ever noticed that medicine names usually sound like either robot names or Tolkien elves? 110814A wolverine's breath can knock out a moose at 50 paces. This is useful information for a variety of situations, the least of which is when preparing for a date with one. 110814The useful thing about animal puppets is that few animals appreciate you shoving your hand up their butts. 110815When greening an anchor sleeve, the choice of blade and arcstone are critical. 110816Don't listen to the charlatans; a spectrogram isn't a message from beyond the grave. 110817There's nothing like a good old-fashioned clownbake to bring together that family of mime. 110818Thinky thoughts are difficult to have late at night, especially when intoxicants aren't helping to grease the synapses. 110819Even the Hammersmith himself depends on the Woodsman and the Dairymaid. 110820Can't complain about a dinner that starts off with an onion volcano. 110820Everyone has that one itch that they just...can't...scratch. 110821Corvids are our constant companions throughout life. Magpies welcome us into the world, jays walk with us through life, ravens guide us in death, and crows attend us after death. 110822Given modern sartorial sensibilities, the fez is the hat to prefer. You will be underestimated by those who think you are being silly, or overestimated by those who attach too much significance to a hat. Either way, wear your fez with confidence and you can rule the world. 110823Whoever first said,"Time flies like an arrow" was showing a deep understanding of the quantum nature of both time and the flight of an arrow. However, time flies actually prefer second-hand fruit. 110824Salmon fishing and berry picking are an effective means of curing alcoholism.

September, 2011 110903When you see humping in the water, it would be wise to check for a blowhole and flukes before announcing to the world that you've seen a whale. 110904Thrust your tusks skyward, roll in the saltspray gravel, and flump your flippers on a friend. That's how to settle in for an afternoon nap. 110905When traveling in the arctic, be warned that that lump of snow up ahead might just be a polar bear. 110906If a Beluga whale spits at you, stick your fingers in its mouth. 110907Even Noah's cruise-of-a-lifetime came to an end. 110908It's a fine line that divides cool from stupid. It can be hard to tell when you've crossed from one to the other. 110910Sometimes the final thought is the realization that there's no final thought there. 110911The fox's brush is the key to many doors; the squirrel's tail is the secret to many dreams. 110912The Raccoon Twins come in the night tending the bonsais of our hopes and fears, sculpting the one and pruning the other. 110913On Midsummer's Twilight, watch as Badger returns to his sett. If his tail you last see, the next three months will be a fiery sear. If a flashed stripe of white or black, the months will bring rain and fog. If Badger lingers, showing his stripes long to the setting sun, ah the best times of all await your coming days. 110914The Thrush of Snows guides the lost traveller home to hearth and fire. The Sparrow of Ice guides the lost traveller to waiting ice bears. 110915Owl of Glaciers raises her wings, and the winds start to blow. Slowly at first, but rising through the long Months of Night, until all that can be heard are the howls of the Winter Wolves, and the moaning calls of Grandfather Icebear. 110916As evening comes, look to the sky and you will see Night Elk lifting his antlers into the heavens, stars shining on the points of his rack. 110917Though the Winter Lamb is cunning and sly, you would do well to trust him. He knows the path for your hooves and where the sweet grass grows. 110918The oak guards his secrets, carefully hiding one in each acorn. The maple carelessly flings his secrets to the wind, letting the breeze carry them where it will. When walking in the wild woods, be aware of whom you have chosen as your confidant. 110919The wind steals quietly over the hills, murmuring through the trees, bringing seeds and pollen from the faraway. Who knows what will grow from these wind-borne travellers? 110920Memories are to the soul as lint is to cloth. As lint binds threads of cotton into cloth of fabric, so do memories bind the threads of the soul into the cloth of Being. 110921When the Hounds of Sleep are baying your name and nipping at your heels, it is hard not to join them on the hunt. 110922"Bill me later" is never something a duck wants to hear from his lover. 110922The magpie steals a shiny and values it above all--Oh look! Another shiny! 110923The rain torrents violently down and the river swells to flooding. Music lifts in peace and the heart swells to flooding. 110924The scope of events, great or small, as the tide glides with the air towards shore must not keep you from acting to maintain a smart balance of the forces of nature. 110925If a tiger runs past without a "Fare-thee-well," "My, you look tasty," or even so much as a considering glance, don't waste time looking around, just run! 110926Fish giggle whenever you fart while swimming in the ocean. Not only does this increase global warming, but giggling also makes fish foals more vulnerable to eel predators. 110927When your regular meds aren't working, use Zugadituch. Zugadituch is the panacea to solve any problem you'll ever have. (Zupedot-something-something; Zugadightduch; Zugadightan) 110928One missing sock is an inconvenience, two missing socks are an annoyance, and three missing socks are an aggravation. But eight missing socks? Ah, with eight missing socks, you can change the world. 110929An ancient brass lock may secure much more than a mere door. With an ancient brass lock, you may secure a heart, a soul, three years of the future. 110930Einstein's Theory of Relativity originated in his desire to avoid family reunions. He was always embarrassed at his mother's fistfights with her twin cousins. E=mc^2 actually expands to embarrassment = mother * cousins squared.

October, 2011 111001When you start keeping score with your lover, you have already lost. 111002Trimming a sail is very different from trimming a Christmas tree. Confusing the two can lead to disaster. 111003Honor is a two-state element of the mind. Focused inward, it is lighter than air and can lift you above the clouds. Focused outwards, where it can be damaged by a gust of wind, it becomes heavier than chains of iron and can imprison you centuries in the past. 111003The importance of mucus is not something to be sneezed at. 111004As has been said by many people, the egg is the perfect food. It contains many of the nutrients we need to be healthy. It fits very easily into any meal we eat: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert. It can be eaten alone or as a component of another dish. It can be cooked in many ways. It is used in cakes and cookies. The egg is a perfect food that comes in its own handy little carrying pod, making it conveniently portable for throwing at people, cars, signs, or anything else. 111005Archimedes said, "Give me a lever and I can move the world." The right person with the right piece of fruit can change history. 111006Pink bunny pajamas or an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. This is the practical quantum physics application we face at every birthday. If Schrödinger had used this example in his work, no quanto-theoretical cats would have died (or not died) and the world would have easily understood his work. 111007Electrical sockets in the US always look surprised or horrified. Shocked, you might say. 111008Lying out on the beach, going for a swim, getting a bite to eat... Walruses are the zenmasters of the universe, their mastery second only to that of cows. Their tusks are the pillars that ground their enlightenment and lift it into the heavens. 111009When jackals come for tea, the Earl Grey they're wanting is not made of camellia leaves and is not served in china cups. 111010Obligations and responsibilities must sometimes give way to frivolity or sleep. 111010Even when dispatching zombies, the proper decorum, manners, and civility must be maintained. If not, then for what do we struggle to preserve good society and amiability? Forsooth, 'twer that the case, then the zombies would already have won and we may as well bow our heads and expose our brainpans to them. 111011Over the course of a career, TV news anchors start as good reporters, asking meaningful questions, investigating corruption and criminal activities in government and business, showing intelligence and critical thinking. As they make a good name for themselves, they move more and more away from the investigating and reporting, and into the realm of anchoring the news from behind a desk. The longer most ex-reporters spend as anchors, the more inane, trivial, and meaningless becomes their chatter and presence. I blame it on the constant exposure to hairspray, with the chemicals wrecking havoc with the precious synapses, neurons, and ganglia. 111011When the Kore Winds come blowing down the mountains on a cool autumn day, mark well the rams and ewes, and check the stable door a third time. You never know the mischief that accompanies the Kores. 111012Cookies, cake, and ice cream are a great reward after indulging in the selfish excesses of self-control, self-restraint, and self-denial. 111012If it's true that the only constant is change, then it follows that cash and credit must be variables, and in this economy all too often imaginary. 111013Despite what Agatha Christie would have you believe, enigmatic alien ambassadors are seldom usable as bludgeons. 111014When sending a message in a bottle, pay attention to the tide or you might end up only talking to yourself. 111015A crane rises above the castle, the sun peering through the morning mist to watch its flight. A wing feather drifts gently to earth, alighting on the hillock where, in eight years time, two Great Houses will be joined and they will start down the path leading to their eventual downfall. 111016Coal burns, steam rises, gears turn, the magic happens. My iron bones move, bending at the metal pivot-joints, I walk my clanking way. That's not the magic. The magic is that with turning gears and rising steam, somehow, somehow, I think. I AM.Steampunk Week 1 111017My boiler fires and I breathe heated air. My envelope fills, lifting me away from the cruel tethers of the mooring tower. Construct I may be, but I am not one of the plodders, whose sorry lot is to clank their way through dust and mud on heavy feet. I float above the lands and seas, I cavort amongst the winds, I reach up to caress the sun and heavens with my gentle, graceful soaring. My iron ribs, with their gossamer hide, stroke the clouds as I sail quietly through the skies.Steampunk Week 1 111018Gears, gears, gears. Sometimes it seems my whole life is searching through a mountain of gears, all for just the right gear. Circumference, power ratio, tooth length, you wouldn't believe how many gears there are. The building makes it all worthwhile. Fitting together the brass, squeezing all the gears and the steambox together. Intricate puzzles, that fit together juuust so, and create such wonders, such magic. Oh, the Making is worth it. The Making is worth it.Steampunk Week 1 111019I hunted tigers in the forests of Ranthambore, I gathered sapphires along the fjords of Svalbard. I traced the Carpathian coalseams, I tapped the gasfields of the Etherlands. My gearworks craft the wheels on which the Empire turns, I stole the keys to the Western Towers of Cathay's Great Wall. Years of exploits, weary, I withdrew to the Highlands. I am restless...Steampunk Week 1 111020Eat more chocolate. 111020They call us the Cogs. We're here, there, everywhere, and we aren't worth much. But the High People are happy to set us to work they're too good for. We all look the same, from a distance. When you get up close, if you come down the alleys and to the gutters, you can see we're all different and we each have our own special purpose. We may look ragged, we may look tattered, but through the dirt and muck we each shine and glisten. We are the Cogs, and the High People forget. The High People forget that without cogs, the machines don't run. And the High People forget that Cogs have teeth.Steampunk Week 1 111021These people, they're always wanting more steam. More steam to move their aerostats. More steam to move their constructs. More steam to turn the gears in their difference engines. More steam, more steam, more steam! Don't I give enough as it is? The more droplets I give of myself, the more they want. Why aren't these humans ever satisfied?Steampunk Week 1 111021In the King's Own Mountain Brigade, we're supposed to specialise in high-altitude, harsh terrain combat. Instead, we've ended up as "laboratory assistants" for the Natural Research Battalion, sitting in the middle of this miserable desert. The NARBs build weird machines and us LA's test them. Last time, I got a faceful of steam, near blinded me for two weeks, but my mate Iain got three gears and a brassule in his eye. The Brigade has taken more casualties here than from our last field of engagement. I hope they bring us home before too much more testing. Och, gotta find my shako, my number was just called. I'm off to the testing range. As the Brigade motto says, it's time to "Scale the peaks of glory for King and Country."Steampunk Week I
(This one wasn't well-received, so another Final Thought was provided for today.)
111022Before the Steam, there wasn't much call for coal. Oh sure, there were coal furnaces, but they weren't as ubiquitous as they've become. Now, the Coalfinders Guild never rests. We are always working, always searching for more and better coal. The colliers retrieve the black gold, but what would they do without the Coalfinders? We hear rumours of a coal-sniffing construct, but I'm not worried. How can a construct be as good as a person? The Coalfinders Guild will never be equalled, by construct, by Cog, by gearman, by anything.Steampunk Week 1 111023The bridge over the snowy river is icy and cold, but warm muffins await on the other side. 111024The brush you use to paint your life works best when dipped in a palette of many colors. 111025With his rallying cry of, "Yo ho ho and a bucket of batter," Captain Cake was never the most feared of all pirates, but he was well-loved by his crew. 111026Socks are one of the most important articles of clothing you'll ever have. They keep your feet warm in the cold, they can be removed to cool off the feet, and a good pair of socks is comforting in their embrace. Also, discomfort is compounded exponentially when socks get wet, when they aren't thick enough, when they have holes, or when they're missing entirely. Socks, they don't just warm your feet, they sustain your soul. 111027When playing for keeps, make sure you really want to keep what you win. 111028October winds blow away the dust and leaves of our old sorrows and fading regrets. Winter's cold regard is waiting just over the horizon for a chance to pierce the veils we've wrapped around the hopes fresh-planted for the coming year. 111029Winter's cold sears your strings, causes your pins to slip, makes your curves disharmonious, and shakes your pillars, freezing your music to your fingers and turning your eyes longingly to Summer's blessed heat. Until it actually arrives and your glue melts, smokewisps rise from your woods, and your fingers blister when touching your strings. 111030Cow flatulence is contributing to global warming, and may be a major cause of the death of life on Earth. However, this will be of great benefit to a race of methane-breathing aliens, who will adopt the Earth as their new home. The Circle of Life is a wondrous thing. 111031The adults in Charlie Brown's world are truly evil. The other kids are mean to Charlie Brown, but that sort of cruelty is part of the predatory nature of children. The adults are a different story. How else can you explain that a neighborhood of adults would all give a single child rocks -- all rocks and nothing but rocks -- at Halloween, other than that they were evil? They must have all planned ahead and laid in a supply of good-sized rocks in preparation for a metaphorical stoning of this one child.

November, 2011 111101Bunnies and lambies and other small furry animals are cute and cuddly, but beware when their eyes start glowing. When their eyes start glowing you know that racial memories of stews and mint jellies and gravies and sauces and roasted carrots and potatoes are at the forefront of their minds. 111102An unfortunate mistranslation of Revelation left us with the Seven Seals, when it was actually referring to the Seven Squirrels. The first four Squirrels are the Squirrels of the Hypotenuse, who spread across the world during the times of trigonometry. These Squirrels are named Bob, Timmy, Louisa, and Goober. The Fifth Squirrel reminds us that the martyrs and saints are blessed to be in the company of the righteous Squirrels of God. The Sixth Squirrel accompanies Christ on his return, and the righteous enjoy presents from the Squirrels of God. The Seventh Squirrel brings about the expectant silence in Heaven before an angelic jazz band performs for God. 111103I am glad that teeth have tap roots and not branch roots. 111104Jumper cables are a good tool for teaching a Buddhist principle. You should keep jumper cables in your car and give people jumps whenever they need. These good actions will return to you when you, in turn, need a jump yourself. Thus, you will gain the benefit of good carma. 111105A trail blazed in a forest doesn't do much good if the trees wander around when you aren't looking. 111106A squirrel's tail whisks away troubles and cares, as well as warning of dangers. A tiger's tail entrances and mesmerizes, before pouncing and rending. A dog's tail welcomes and enfolds, and then you're covered with slobber and hair. When watching a pretty tail moving in the sun, be sure to know what manner of beast lies before you. 111107Whales have little trouble with the New York Times crossword puzzles, but they are always baffled by the New Yorker cartoons. 111108Bulls are actually quite careful in china shops. It's candy shops where they really have problems. 111109Always be kind to raccoons. If you aren't, they will gather outside your hearth and threshold, and dance to summon the Guardian Masker. As sure as their tails have stripes, you'll rue the day you mistreated the raccoons. 111110The Winds of Autumn send leaves of many shapes and colors scurrying, and you never know what sort will find its way to your door. 111111There is ever a need for more plowshares and pruning hooks. 111112Full Moon looks down, lighting the path of the night children as they forage for their evening meal. Half Moon looks down in profile, not wanting to watch the courting of the night children, yet unable to fully hide her eyes. New Moon hides her face in her hands, not wanting to witness the mischief and shenanigans of the night children. 111113Long-lost friends can return unexpectedly, bringing joy and happiness to a weary heart. 111114At their most basic, clocks measure the lifetime of Man. But only real clocks. Digital clocks are too impersonal, too disconnected from what they're measuring. Real clocks -- clocks with faces, clocks with hands, clocks with a heartbeat -- have a better connection with what they're measuring. The sweeping second hand circles 'round, closing in on the minute hand and the hour hand, subtly reminiscent of Atropos' scissors that cut each soul's thread of life. 111115Faerie needs a city for its gates to work. There's no crossing through -- or back -- if there isn't a city on the other end. A city is only good for so long, though, until it's used up and the faerie gates no longer work there. Then it's onwards to another city, and you hope it's a good one and not one of those wretched ones. Faerie has been around a long time, and new cities don't come along very often. The cities are mostly used up now. There are only two left before the gates are sealed, maybe forever. 111116Chocolate and hot peppers are both proof that there is a God and that we are well-loved. 111117Glaciers are the deep thinkers of the Kingdom of Water. They are slow and deliberate in their ponderings, sometimes taking an Age to fully explore an idea. Their logic is crystal clear, though it can seem slippery and difficult to get your hands around. They seem to take the path of least resistance and to be deep-set in their ways; however, they move in their own time, slowly and methodically following the old paths and carving out the new paths required to wend their proper way to the final sea of conclusions. 111118Winter is coming. I discussed the quality of the weather with two experts. They were woolly bear caterpillars. One had more black wool than copper wool; the other had more copper than black. One said the winter would be harsh; the other said the winter would be mild. If we can't get consistent forecasts from two such illustrious weather-jacks, each having a deep and intuitive feel for the weather, how can we hope for any accuracy at all from mere humans, when the only tools they have at their disposal are satellites, and computers, and networks of weather instruments? 111119It's amazing how "I want something to eat right now" has turned into an astounding variety of over-unders, side-by-sides, "French doors", stacked threesomes, peekaboo drawers, hideaway "butter slots", crispers, freshness areas, two-up/one-downs, stream dispensers, and "the frigid zone" -- and in any combination one might desire. Of course that's what I'm talking about; what else could it have been? 111120Packing peanuts are the favorite food of packingderms. 111120Why is Evil Santa the epitome of bad holiday icons? Sure, Santa is supposed to bring you gifts, so an Evil Santa is a Bad Thing. An Evil Tree for Arbor Day or an Evil Turkey for Thanksgiving would just be silly. An Evil Maypole sounds kind of perverse, or like the premise of a cheesy teen slasher/soft-core horror flick. The truly terrible evil holiday icon would be the Evil Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny is supposed to bring you chocolate. Despite his other evil deeds, Evil Easter Bunny would keep all your chocolate for himself and not share even a tiny bit of it. That is truly the most evil thing of all. 111121Why are some foods paired with certain other foods and with very little else? Peanut butter and jelly is grand; peanut butter and okra, not so much. Pistachios and plutonium pudding, also pretty darn good; pistachios and pumpernickel leave something to be desired. Pickles and plutonium pudding, also not a good fit, but pickles and tomatoes are a delight. Is there a secret committee that gets to decide about these pairings? If so, I'd like to nominate myself for membership. I'm willing to experiment, plus I've got some definite ideas about things that should and shouldn't be done with certain foods. 111122I dearly hope that within ten years researchers discover that plain white bread cures heart disease, all cancers, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, alcoholism, impotence, baldness, and a thousand other major and minor diseases. 111123If Ben Franklin had prevailed and the turkey had been made the USA national symbol, would we be eating eagle and stuffing every Thanksgiving? 111124I've been wondering about the First Thanksgiving. What sort of sports comprised the post-dinner, tryptophan-daze spectator entertainment at the First Thanksgiving. Capture the Hag? The Scrub-the Bowl championship game? Did the pilgrims eat so much they had to loosen the buckles on their hats a few notches? Did they have that bizarro cranberry jelly way back then? If so, what was it shaped like, since canning wouldn't be invented for centuries? Was there a 7-11 available for those last-minute items and bags of ice? 111125The Electron Wars, fought by the disciples of Tesla and Edison, ravaged North America, killing tens of thousands of people and destroying several major cities and a multitude of smaller towns. They instilled a deep distrust of electrical energy in the people of the world. Electrical energy was seen as too destructive, too dangerous, to be used to power cities and transportation. Why use something as unpredictable and malevolent as electricity when there's good, reliable, safe steam and coal power? 111126Calling yourself a writer because you have a thick dictionary is like calling yourself a chef because you have a big list of ingredients. To be a good writer, you also have to have a thesaurus. 111127Ovens are magical things. They give us reliable, consistent, wood-free, indoor cooking fires that are relatively safe and rarely run the risk of burning down the house. 111128Two ravens sit on the back of the couch. One is thinking deep thoughts; the other is remembering, remembering. Half a monster lies before the ravens, staring blindly upwards. Nearby, my staff leans against the wall, with the hammer and the words -- all the words -- at its foot. And I sit, wondering where to go from here. 111129It is widely thought that science misses the beauty of the world. Snow gives us an inverted bell curve showing an example where this is not true. From a distance, snow is beautiful as it covers the hillside, lies in the trees, falls from the sky. Looking closer, the beauty ebbs as the snow turns to slushy mud, it must be shoveled, it interferes with getting from here to there, it causes damage and loss of life. Closer still, the crystalline structure of snowflakes is gorgeous and holds through so many variations. That structure is invisible, completely hidden without the tools and questing eye of science. 111130Whose side is the brain really on? You'd think it was on the side of the person as a whole, but I'm not so sure about that. It's not the spleen that says, "I'm gonna jump my Harley over this river." It isn't the lungs that say, "I know smoking causes all kinds of health problems, but I'm gonna have my cigars." It's not the stomach that says, "Sure I'm 100 pounds overweight and have diabetes, but I'll have that whole cake for dinner." It isn't the bones that say, "Hey guys, watch this!" I think the real question is why are our brains trying to kill us?

December, 2011 111201Words are often thought to be insubstantial, wisps of breath, transient blobs of thought. This is far from the truth. Words have physical properties. Words have substance, texture, taste. Words are things.Word Week 1 111202Words have substance, with a distinct physical, textural aspect. Words can be sharp, blunt, cutting, bludgeoning, soft, brittle, hard, heavy, light, strong, weak. They can be used as a weapon or as a shield, a carrot or a stick. Words can be measured, they can be weighed, they have length. Words are physical things.Word Week 1 111203Words have temperature, though not one that can be measured in a strict numeric scale. They can be hot, cold, lukewarm, tepid, warm, cool, frosty, icy, searing. They can burn and they can freeze. Words are physical things with relative temperatures.Word Week 1 111204Words have taste. These tastes follow the traditional four basic tastes: bitter, sweet, sour, and salty. Words may have an umami undercurrent, but it works in conjunction with the other four tastes. Some words feel good in the mouth, but that's more related to the textural, physical aspect. More refined palates may speak with a more highly honed tastiness to the words, but the basic four tastes serve most people very well. Words are physical, tasty things with relative temperatures.Word Week 1 111205Words have color. Words have color, but it isn't as well-defined as the other physical attributes and word hue tends to be spread over large groups of words. Consequently, you can have blue language, or even colorful language, but that's about as far as word color goes. Words are blue, words are colorful, or words are of such unremarkable color that the color isn't remarked upon. Words are physical, tasty things with relative temperatures and mostly poorly defined color.Word Week 1 111206Everyone, even Mozart, sounds better with an egg shake. 111207Elephants communicate over very long distances using very low frequency vocalizations. For some reason, this means of communication has baffled scientists. There are two simple reasons why elephants do so. First, they don't have thumbs so they can't text each other on their cell phones. When they try texting, they just end up smashing their phones to pieces. Second, they have stubby arms and can't hold their cell phones up to their ears. If they manage to dial anyone without smashing their phone, they have to lay it on the ground and they spend the whole call shouting into the phone without ever hearing what the other guy is saying. 111208Despite modern mythology -- as embodied in songs, books, TV, and movies -- Santa's sleigh is only pulled by reindeer while he's travelling through northern Europe. Other, more indigenous, animals are used in other regions.
Within the Arctic Circle, the sleigh is pulled by one polar bear and in northern Asia by three Asian Great Brown Bears.
In Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, a team of eight huskies pulls the sleigh.
In central and southern Asia, twelve cranes are harnessed up.
Six kangaroos and two platypuses pull Santa on a rather bumpy ride around Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.
Onwards to Africa, where a troop of 18 chimps pull Santa on his noisy way, with six camels taking over in northern Africa.
One elephant handles Pakistan, India, and the Middle East.
Seven wild boars are enlisted to pull the sleigh through non-northern Europe.
Two jaguars help Santa make swift work of South and Central America.
Santa finishes up in North America, with the help of over 1,000 squirrels -- and if you know anything about squirrels you'll understand why he finishes up there.
111209Abuse by religious authorities has long been a problem. My heart goes out to all the victims of the Aztec priesthood. 111210When hiking in the great oak forests of England, there is a fascinating animal you should watch for. Keep your eyes up in the trees and you might catch a glimpse of the uncommon English Oaktopus up in the branches. The oaktopus will smoodge its way out along a limb using its eight articulated arms, and then it'll use its two barknacle-encrusted primary arms to swing from tree to tree. 111211I am intrigued by tea. It's weird that someone thought, "Say, let's put these leaves in this boiling water, and then we'll drink it." But I do understand how that happened. The strange thing about tea is everything else. How was it decided what were the acceptable things to put in tea? Why sugar and not salt? Why honey and not chocolate? Why milk and not mustard? Stranger yet is that it was decided to add anything in the first place. "Here's a nice hot cup of nasty, bitter tea. Would you care for something to add to it so it doesn't taste bad?" Tea is very much a distinctly human thing. You'd never catch a dog making a cup of tea. 111212The gears in a clock are always turning, turning, turning; the teeth of the gears forever chewing, eating, swallowing time. 111213Now is the time when the children of Cornwall eagerly look forward to the arrival of Christmas Porcupine and his helper Boxing Pup. Christmas Porcupine arrives with chocolates and sweets speared on his quills. Boys and girls take turns trying to snatch a treat from the quills without getting jabbed. Everyone can get a single treat, but only the best-behaved children are able to get more than one of Christmas Porcupine's sweets without getting their fingers skewered. But everyone is welcome to try, and Boxing Pup will be along the next day to help the punctured and tend those who couldn't resist giving Christmas Porcupine a nice cuddle. 111214For years I've been afraid of sock monkeys. They terrorized me with their bullying ways, with the danger they presented, with the grievous bodily harm I risked if ever I were in the same room with them. It was only after my wife started constructing sock monkeys that I realized their name described what they were made of, not what they did to you. 111215Trash pits are a gold mine of information for archeologists. Food remnants, old tools, broken pottery, all this debris gives an archeologist a myriad of information about past cultures in an area. Are our current waste disposal techniques and economic practices destroying the trash pit as an information source for future archeologists? Will they think we had a banana plantation far north of the tropics because the landfill has lots of banana skins? Will they conclude that we had extensive tuna and peanut farms locally due to all the tuna cans and peanut butter jars? Rather, I think there will be enough other documentary evidence that trash pits will be significantly less important in future. Due to the explosion of non-local goods shipped hither and yon, trash pits could well be archeologically useless for anything beyond broad generalizations. Too much random, disconnected data will provide very little from which to draw useful hypotheses and theories. That's just taking local landfills into account, and doesn't even consider that many landfills ship their trash to regional landfills, or even ship their trash overseas. From now on trash will just be trash. 111216Some foods are rather deceptively named. Any schoolchild can tell you there's no ham in a hamburger, and that no religious figures are served up in a bowl of Quaker oats. However, the name-based fraud of food goes much deeper. Here are a few examples of this food fraud. Do not be deceived by these.
Pearl onions contain no pearls.
Crackers don't contain crack.
Pancakes have no icing.
Bread seldom contains money.
Grasshoppers are bug-free.
Buttermilk isn't deceptively named, but it sounds so much better than it actually is.
Kentucky Derby Pie contains no horse.
Brownies contain no fairyfolk.
Penguins contain no actual penguin parts.
Gorgonzola rarely contains more than trace amounts of gorgons.
111217Tacos are a fascinating, versatile food that are tiny little casseroles. You build a taco and immediately eat it. Was it a good set of ingredients? Were the proportions good? If so, you know what you can do for the next taco. If not, you haven't committed an entire meal to it and you can try another combination pretty quickly. They support individual preferences, as well, so tacos are great for having with other people. 111218Loki is probably the jötunn, a Norse giant, with the most closely followed genetic history. His father was a giant and his mother was... something unspecified. With the jötunn Angrboda, Loki fathered the wolf Fenrir, the world serpent Jürmungandr, and Hel, the ruler of the underworld. With a stallion as the sire, Loki (in a mare's form) gave birth to an eight-legged horse. What on earth is going on with jötunn genes that would allow such wild, unpredictable offspring to be created? Gregor Mendel would have an interesting time looking at the genetics of the jötunn, if it didn't drive him mad. 111219"Good egg" refers to a trustworthy or decent person. There's a connotation that this person is uncommon or unusual. This raises a question: if good eggs are unusual, then most eggs we eat must be bad. I don't think I've ever had an egg that tasted bad, so it follows that bad eggs taste good. If bad eggs taste good, good eggs must taste fantastic. I need to find a cannibal to tell me how a good egg tastes. 111219What kind of exercise is best for anaerobic bacteria? 111220We are each of us a type of tune or song. One might be a strathspey, springing nimbly hither and yon; one might be a march, moving steadily and accomplishing great things; one might be a lament, barely getting through each day as a result of some personal misery. I think I am an air, but not necessarily a slow air. Sometimes I am carried along by the tune, as a novice rider on a trained horse; sometimes the reins of the tune are firmly in my grasp. There's a lightness that surrounds a sense of depth. I have been a 3/4 march, driving onwards and stepping over obstacles in my path, and waltzes and reels and jigs and quicksteps and who knows what else? Change is an integral part of music, so I fully expect my tune type to change, and do so many times to come. So, any thoughts as to what type of tune you are? 111221Cucumbers are a sure way to kill a scone. Not even a cup of good tea can rescue a scone from a cucumber. Strawberry jam makes a valiant effort, but cucumbers are just too powerful. Pre-pickled cucumbers, what those of us in the community refer to as ferals or rabid cukes, really should be regulated by the Geneva Conventions. 111222I must hope that no one ever finds these writings, lest they too see the horrors lurking behind every shadow." What on earth is wrong with the people in Lovecraft's stories? If you don't want anyone to ever know the horrors you've seen, then DON'T WRITE ABOUT THEM! If you don't want anyone to read the forbidden tome of eldritch lore that has you on the brink of insanity and death, THROW THE BOOK IN THE FIRE! Use your brain, for goodness sake! Do you also need to be told to turn on the lights when you go into a house where there've been 20 mysterious, unsolved murders? 111223The Winter Solstice has arrived. The Winter Ram and the Celestial Sheep have escaped the Big Farmer and the Little Farmer (also known as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.) They are escaping into the Hills of Arcturus, though they won't reach them before the Equinox. We can be assured the sun will rise for another year. 111224Sitting in a cold car, huddled under coats, is an odd way to spend Christmas Eve. Perhaps appropriate though. 111225Such a small start. A baby. From there, love everyone, no exceptions. Treat everyone with respect and dignity, no exceptions. Justice for everyone, no exceptions. Help those who need help, feed those who need food. Above, beneath, surrounding all this is love. No exceptions. Is that so much to ask? Such a small thing. 111226When I was a kid, the gifts of the Wise Men was the aspect of the Christmas story that really confused me. Not all the gifts, though. The gold made sense. Gold was gold; who couldn't use some gold, after all. Myrrh didn't confuse me, so much as just being something I didn't know what it was. But it had a cool name. The frankincense, now the frankincense confused me. No matter how many times I was told what frankincense was, I always associated it with Frankenstein and I was absolutely baffled as to how Frankenstein fit into the Christmas story. 111227I've started to wonder if the Yellow Pages is a strange conglomeration of fiction and non-fiction. It's a reference book, so you could assume it's a work of non-fiction. However, it also contains advertising. Further, it's entire purpose is to contain advertisements. This makes it a reference book of fiction. Maybe the Yellow Pages is what it looks like when matter and anti-matter come together to create something. 111229I think dinosaurs must have had terrible trouble getting to sleep. They'd be lying in bed, trying to sleep, and they'd start counting sheep. Two thoughts would run through their minds that would completely interfere with sleep. First, they'd think, "What on earth is that soft, fluffy thing? I've never seen anything like it!" That would be followed by, "It looks awfully tasty though." There's no way a dinosaur is going to be sleeping while counting sheep. 111230Wolves howl at the moon for many reasons. They are sharing their secrets. They are passing along news. They are screaming their frustrations. They are wailing their pain. They are shouting their joy. They are confiding in an old friend. Wolves are completely at ease talking to the moon, and with the moon patiently listening to every word, every note, every howl, every cough, every whisper. Wolves are not used to the moon talking back and the Long Frenzy will follow if that night arrives when the moon is silent no lomger. Wolves are a little worried, they feel on the cusp of something. They don't know yet, but that night is coming. The moon has pondered long and is preparing to howl back. 111231There's something about New Year's Eve that calls out for hot chocolate. You can consider it to be ending the old year with a final memory of chocolate, or starting the new year with a grand kick-off of chocolate. Heating and drinking the chocolate will soothe the bad remnants from the old year, or warm thoughts and hopes for the new year. Regardless of how you look at it, hot chocolate is a superb way to mentally, spiritually, tastefully mark the transition from one year to the next.

Final Thoughts of the Night -- The Full Story

I started writing these after talking with my wife about the last words one might say to their loved ones before dying. Rather than leaving to chance the possibility that I might die in my sleep and maybe having said something dopey to her, I decided to ensure that one of the last things I say to her each night is something dopey.

Thus, I undertook the "Final Thought of the Night" project. Each night, shortly before going to sleep, I tell her a Final Thought. These may be funny, they are likely to be stupid; they may be vaguely story-like; they may be pseudo-philosophical and intelligent-sounding; they may be almost mythic from a spur-of-the-moment mythos.

The topics have spanned a wide range of subjects: animals, steampunk, food, bodily secretions. Anything that pops into mind is fair game. Animals are a big focus because it's so easy to say something about animals. I hope I'm not repeating anything, but I am making absolutely no effort to ensure that repeats don't happen. If you see the same idea multiple times, that might mean it's something I think about more than other things.

More final thoughts are available here:

Copyright 2011-2012 by Wayne Morrison. All Rights Reserved.