Dreaming is Easy, Remembering is Hard

When I was younger, I had a red mountain bike. All my friends had BMX bikes, since they were the coolest. If you pulled up on the handlebars hard enough, you could get the bike to lift off the gravel road. My mountain bike had gears, which my friends found unimpressive and tease-worthy. The gears hardly impressed me. I knew they had value, but it was ignored, overshadowed by my inability to bunnyhop, and the loud clanking noise my derailleur made whenever I changed gears.

I distinctly remember standing near the elementary school, straddling my bike as I talked with my friends. I thought I wonder why I can’t switch gears without pedalling? It felt like I had come up with a genius idea. It would be so convenient to be able to switch between gears at will, while you’re standing still, hanging out. It would be one less thing to worry about while riding. I imagined an automatic bicycle: quiet, intelligent, able to set itself into the perfect gear at all times, so I could concentrate on pedalling like hell. I didn’t know how bikes worked. I never sat down, flipped the bike over into diagnose mode, and thought mechanically about what was happening. I have had about 15 years of bike experience since then. I know more about bikes now. I change gears without thinking.

– – –

At my Grandpa’s funeral, a short biography was read. It mentioned that it was hard to feed nine kids, so the family reared animals and grew potatoes and other vegetables for nourishment. Back then, the concept of food was different than it is for me now. I imagine they ate meat and potatoes and maybe a mushy vegetable for every meal. My grandma, the only cook, probably ignorant of spices other than salt and pepper, was tasked with keeping everyone fed. The point of food was to stay alive. Good tasting treats were hard to come by. I imagine the family going to a fancy Christmas dinner or something similar, once or twice a year, and having a meal that would have been incredibly delicious and special. I am privileged in this regard. Every one of my meals is basically a Christmas feast. I can go out and pay someone else $8 to cook me a heaping plate of rice, chicken, and vegetables, covered with a sweet garlic sauce. I can be as picky as I like, and easily stay alive.

These days, Grandma has a nice little kitchen that is clean and well-stocked. She lives alone, and cooks for one unless there are guests. It’s mostly the same things: chicken or pork, potatoes or another starch, and a vegetable, usually mushy, added to the meal as if to pacify God and give stability to the food pyramid. If she still cooks the same food as before, I wonder if it’s like me and my bike gears. She probably wished there was another way, a way to eat like Christmas everyday. Now it’s Christmas eternal, but I don’t think she feels that way. Maybe dreaming of an ideal state is what keeps us going; the anticipation of a world where things are easier.

Now everything is easy, yet it’s so hard to remember that this used to be our dream.

The Beauty of Space Rules

The number of beautiful women in this city is astounding. My heart loves to throws itself at the feet of anyone with a symmetrical face and playful body. I can’t turn my head or let wander my eyes without seeing someone walking down the sidewalk, grimacing miserably into the wind and rain, and they seem perfect and beautiful. I watch in awe as my mind instantly idealizes this complete stranger. Her last name is something discordant, like Olguffikson. Her first name is Gloria. When we are married she wants to take my surname. She likes it better. She is happier.

We have many discussions but never argue. We’ll go canoeing in the summer and talk about what it means to be alive, throwing small chunks of biscuit to our dog Biscuit, who loves the water, and who barks at the ducks. We’ll try for children as if we want one hundred thousand, but will only have one, because we are financially poor. It will be born sexless, due to some kind of chemical imbalance – too much cheap body lotion during pregnancy, guesses the doctor – but we love Stacy just the same.

Gloria and I will tell Stacy everything we know about existence, and they will grow up to become a space lawyer. It’s the career that I wanted but didn’t have the money or gumption to achieve. My dear child will be born with the gumption. We will steal the money if we have to. They will hire me as a private consultant, and together we’ll forge the first Bill of Rules for all that empty space.

First Rule: No littering, and huge incentives to those who clean up the litter which existed before the Bill of Rules. (Currently, out there in wild wild space, anyone can jettison anything they like.)

Second Rule: Consensual sex is fine. No worries about that. Any which way you like it is good.

Third Rule: No murder or rape. Rapists will be blasted in the direction of Betelgeuse. Not directly at it, but slightly off, so they don’t get the pleasure of feeling they have an end destination that isn’t freezing or starving to death all alone. We will not tolerate this hateful, abhorrent, terra-ble behaviour up here in the heavens.

Fourth Rule: Empathy shall be used, taught, and studied, in order to bring about a new age of emotional and philosophical understanding. Decisions must take into account the feelings of other humans, Mother Earth, and any other potential agents out there in the universe. We must learn to be prudent and responsible. This is a rule that requires slowing down. Time in space is lazy. Life can theoretically go on forever. We can finally afford to take things at an understandable pace.

Fifth Rule: No faction flags, separating oneself from humanity as a whole. We all share the same home. We are family. We are life. There are no countries up here. Be proud of your occupation, or the service that you are trained to provide: your special method of helping humanity. A flag for the miners, sure. A flag for the miners who think themselves better than welders: never.

I think those first five rules are a good start. I’ll have to wait to see what Stacy thinks. Space may be radically different in 25 years, when she is old enough and learned enough. 25 years is a long time down here at the bottom of the gravity well. My first 25 years felt like an eternity. What will 25 years feel like to Stacy, I wonder?

Gloria will have objections to Rule Two. She thinks it will encourage people to have sex all willy-nilly, with whomever they feel like, based purely on emotional and physical attraction rather than long-term compatibility and child-rearing prowess. That’s the point, I keep telling her. Finally, a place without rules governed by embarrassment, shame, or dusty ancient virtues. We can be new animals in space! The curious, horny, friendly, funny kind of animals. Leave the jealousy and covetousness in the cradle where it belongs.

Gloria walks out of view, around a corner. The street is occupied by different people now. My fantasy is blown to ribbons by the wind. I let it twirl away into the back of my mind as I look at all the new faces.


The Farmer’s Market

It is evident by their plain white plastic bags full of in-season produce that some of the people passing by my window are coming up the bridge from the farmers’ market.

The Farmers’ Market: a place where the high tech and fast moving people of the city can buy homely knick knacks and Healthy Food that is grown slow and steady somewhere out in the country. The cherries are juicy, the raspberries hold their shape, and the fruit-stained faces of children running around underfoot attest to the goodness of Earth’s candy.

At the farmer’s market you can buy wicker furniture. I don’t know what wicker is or how it grows or how it’s made to function as furniture, but the Farmer does. He’s the man with blue jeans broken in by working, not sitting. There are no phone marks worn into the thigh-denim. His hat is dirty, from dirt. Soiled. When you’re not buying his furniture he is whittling away at his own fingernails with a pocket knife, and meticulously organizing the snot in the back of his throat with short snorts and coughs.

He walks with a limp. His askew hat is symbolic of his spine, whose vertebrae have been twisted and strained and smashed to such extent that it would resemble a pukka-shell necklace under x-ray.  He has a scar on his leg from the god damned thresher. He chews on wheat, with half your teeth and twice the contentment. The farmer plucks flies out of the air with his big leathery mitts and pops them directly into his mouth. “No sense wasting good protein,” he will say to anyone caught watching this feeding display. Then he winks and returns to thinking about how to position the new grain silo to minimize wind erosion.


Eating grapes makes me feel like a lord, from a time so long ago that my great-grandparents could barely remember it, when they were children and things were dirtier and less sweet. My great-grandparents had parents, who were older than they were. They probably had to bury their own dead. Maybe their uncle dropped a heavy rock on his foot while trying to load it onto a wagon. It broke his foot, crunching all his small foot bones into tiny pieces. Then a week later he was dead. And my great-grandparent would cover him and drag him out into the yard, where there was a deep hole. They would roll him in, unceremoniously, then probably pray and cry, because life was strange and often awful. No one involved in this weekday funeral had ever eaten a grape.

Grapes are candy nuggets that grow on vines. They’re made of water and sunshine and nutrients like nitrogen, which were supplied to the grape plant by animals peeing nearby. Humans have selectively bred them for generations – because we are clever and we know things about plants – so that the grapes are sweet and thirst-quenching, instead of bitter, small, and full of seeds.

Grapes are squishy sugary vitamins. Like chicken nuggets, but made of water and sugar. Edible, convenient, perfectly-sized for our mouths, satiating hunger as well as thirst. Grapes are sold for mere coins. We can choose between two different colours.

Grapes are a fruit so beautiful that we paint bowls filled with them.

We have access to dozens of kinds of fruits, many of which are not grown natively where I live. 200 years ago, I would live and die without ever having seen a kiwi. I would croak, relatively young and confused, never having tasted a pineapple. Mango would not be a word that I would ever learn to spell, because I would never have to use it in a sentence, because I would be ignorant of mangos. I would not have been able to read or write anyway. Mangos grow literally a world away, yet they come flying to us on giant airplanes, ours for pennies.

I think it’s important to realize the importance of grapes, and how such a simple everyday fruit was once a fantasy too fabulous to imagine. We are spoiled. We take everything for granted. Simply being alive in this world should fill us with wonder and awe, like hot air in a big floating balloon, turning us into warm weightless giants that pay back our blessings with kindness, understanding, and humility.

Open tabs: Dahl, cheese dreams, fairy bread, expected satiety

Classic Cheese Dream

It has been almost one year since my last post. That isn’t good. Here are the wikipedia tabs I currently have open:


“After Olivia’s death, Dahl lost faith in God and viewed religion as a sham. While mourning her loss he had sought spiritual guidance from the former Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher, but became dismayed when Fisher told him that although Olivia was in Paradise, her beloved dog Rowley would never join her there, with Dahl recalling: “I wanted to ask him how he could be so absolutely sure that other creatures did not get the same special treatment as us. I sat there wondering if this great and famous churchman really knew what he was talking about and whether he knew anything at all about God or heaven, and if he didn’t, then who in the world did?”


A device used to drain excess fluid from the brain, designed in part by Roald Dahl after his son was hit by a car.



The sandwiches may predate the Depression, however, as a 1918 Good Housekeeping issue mentions Cheese Dreams as a luncheon dish, “our teahouse friend.”


Fairy bread is sliced white bread spread with margarine or butter and covered with sprinkles or hundreds and thousands which stick to the spread.

Yes, apparently “sprinkles” are also known as “hundreds and thousands”.


Nonpareils (or hundreds and thousands outside of North America) are a decorative confectionery of tiny balls made with sugar and starch, …



In days past, Jam Roly-Poly was also known as shirt-sleeve pudding, because it was often steamed and served in an old shirt-sleeve, leading to the nicknames of dead-man’s arm and dead man’s leg.

That’s all. Now I can allow Chrome to release some of my RAM. See ya next year.


Norman Normal

I’ve been looking through old OZ magazine PDFs that I found archived on the University of Wollongong’s website. This nice four-piece panel on Norman Normal was a wonderful gem. I love the cut-and-paste feel of it. The line art in the background reminds me of the rings of an insane spiralling tree that has learned to travel through time in irregular ways, and its warped age is layered line by line behind Norman the Normal human.





As I look at these pictures I remember not to become simply a synonym of everyone else. Humans are animals and we must realize that our existence is inherently senseless. So let’s accept our absurdity and leave one button unbuttoned. Store strange things in your kitchen drawers. Spend your energy being kind to everyone else, they need it so badly.

The impressive Baron Munchausen

I found all these postcard images on this Wikipedia page. I had to run the descriptions – which were in German – through Google Translate, which explains the choppy translation. Regardless, the images and stories behind them are still hilarious.