Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pretty: Prophet

(The beginning of Chapter Two: David's Song)

The old man was mumbling again. Every time that happened, a much younger man would signal the room by raising his hand in the air. The noise in the room fell off to near silence, only the slight hiss of the gaslights that lit the windowless space. David waited for the young man to lower his hand. He had learned when to keep quiet. As he waited, he glanced around the room.

The room was spacious, housing about twenty people, all seated at round tables in pairs and trios. David was seated in front of a stack of papers, each of which was covered with a morass of numbers and letters, some neat, some scribbled, some written in what seemed to be direct confrontation with the natural order of linear ordering of words on the page. It was his job to make some sense of the pages, although he was not to write anything down. Everything he learned was simply spoken aloud. His watchdog, a young woman named Inessa, would listen to what he said and later do something with it. It wasn't David's job to know or ask what Inessa did with the information he extracted, he had learned not to ask.

The old man stopped his mumbling. David turned back to the paper when Inessa put her hand on his arm. Startled at this touch, he looked at her.

"Good news, David. The detective Lucy hired did the smart thing. He or she broke contact when he found out we were involved. We'll keep an eye on Lucy, of course, but it looks like she's resigned to waiting for your safe return." Inessa's cold blue eyes, nearly emotionless, were a stark contrast to the warmth of her voice. Did she really care about Lucy and David? David wasn't sure, but needed to hope that this all still might end well.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Metapost: Londinium

First of all, new post is here, don't miss it just because this metapost sat on top of it. But second of all....

Okay, so I feel a little weak naming the city where the action occurs "Londinium". I had some issues with the name, as I have issues with all names. The fundamental image I was trying to convey is: It's a Major City, It's different from Cities we know, It's largely western european but with other influences (Konichiwa, Mitsunori-san). Any other suggestions? I've got a chapter-thingy that I'm planning on centering in Shanghai (or the like), also.

Pretty: Interlude

Interlude: Watching the Watchers

The tower was truly out of place in a modern world; it looked as if it had been constructed by peasants in some long-gone era. The stonework was rough, but solid, and there were slits in the walls starting at twenty feet above the ground, spiralling up the tower until it reached its apex at two hundred feet in height. The very top of the tower sported defensive crenelations, but they were probably for show, what kind of military action against an invading army would require cover at that height?

Regardless of the seeming anachronism, or perhaps in deference to it, the tower top also housed the makings for a giant bonfire. There was a wooden roof that was designed to both protect the fire logs from the weather and go up in flames as well, should the watchers decide that the lighting of the fire was necessary. There was a guard with a torch lit at all times, he could throw the torch onto the pile and have it blaze up in a matter of moments. What would come next was a mystery, because in the fifty years of the tower's existence, the bonfire had never been lit. There had never even been a readiness drill.

Of all the watchers, Jake Chen was the only one who really enjoyed Torch Duty. Of all the watchers, Jake Chen was probably the only one who took his job seriously. Every day, he would bundle up against the vicious cold that blanketed the land and walk out to the top of the tower. From his vantage point, he could see the warm, pulsing metropolis of Londinium to the south, the blocklike, windowless aboveground structures built after the Cold, and the old-fashioned buildings (some of which even had glass windows!) dating from before. East and west of Londinium were the suburban towers that housed nearly all the human population left in this region of the world. They huddled together just like sheep in a storm, using each others' waste heat to keep themselves alive. To the north, Jake saw only ocean, frozen and otherwise.

Jake could spend hours staring out at the world, sometimes his mind would soar over the ocean waves to the north, as if he had taken the body of a falcon instead of his own flesh, which was leaden with cold. Over the waves his mind would fly, as the torch in his hand slowly burned down, marking the time of his shift on top of the tower. As the torch began to gutter out, he would walk back to the trap door which allowed access back down into the tower. Another watcher would be waiting there, but he would not actually do much watching. He'd stay up near the top of the tower, but inside. He might glance out the functionally useless arrowslits that lined the staircase, but he'd never, ever go to the very top. The wind and the cold saw to that.

Perhaps if there had been more like Jake, the watch would have been kept. But then again, not even Jake knew why the watch was kept, not any more. For the watchers, it was just a job. Stand near the top of the tower, torch in hand. Every week, lug up a new batch of wood to construct a potential pyre. Never actually light the pyre. None really remembered the reason why the tower had been build, a mere four and fifty years ago. None of the watchers even recalled their full name, the Watchers against Nightfall. None remembered the great failure that led to the Cold. Memory in these days, history, was dusty and forgotten. These young men (always young men, never married) watched, but through a profound failure to remember, they forgot why they were watching, and for what.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Pretty: Link

How many drinks had he had so far? Jack looked at the bottle: it was half-empty. Did he remember opening a fresh one when he came back from visiting Mitsunori? He wasn't sure, but that very level of uncertainty meant that he was certainly doing the right thing with his drinking. He poured another.

Jack looked around the room that served as his office, and frequently his flop. Not very spacious, but big enough to house his desk, a few wooden chairs, and a sofa off to the side of the room where he spent the night more often than not. He got back to his real apartment once in a while, when he really needed a shower, for example. He wasn't a bum, no sir. He might have a thing for the bottle, and perhaps rambling on now and again, but he kept himself clean. Mostly.

Sitting on the sofa was the package he had received this morning, or whatever time it was when he woke up. Still empty, still mysterious, still information-free. Jack poured himself another drink and got the old neurons good and lubricated. Given his line of work, and considering his past, a mysterious empty box shouldn't be just ignored. He cogitated. Then he thought. Then he drank a little, followed by some rumination. He had gone through the mulling phase and was in a full-on contemplate when his skittering thoughts hit on something Mitsunori had said earlier. He was being pulled in to a big, information-dense case. Someone had made contact, but he couldn't tell who or how. The box must have been the contact. He had a drink to celebrate that little breakthrough.

If someone were going to contact Jack in such a way, it would be to bypass Infomancer snooping. The package itself was very information-neutral. It had little inherent meaning or content, especially to a third party. There would be no hidden compartment or invisible ink, that kind of dodge wouldn't fool the little birds. No, this would be a straight up empty box, whose only purpose in life was to get Jack thinking and drinking enough to cast his memory back to the whole reason why he had started drinking in the first place. The reason he was in this dump, living a half-baked, half-boiled, and wholly empty life.

His scotch bottle was empty, but that was okay with him. He didn't feel like drinking anymore. He laid down on the sofa, uttered a single word and drifted off into an oblivion he was thankful for.


(the end of chapter one: introductions and excitement)


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pretty: Cogitating

Back in his office, Jack poured himself a glass of scotch. Today was a good day; he wasn't drinking it straight from the bottle. He swirled it around and stared at it, deep in thought.

Item: People have not had any real privacy for at least fifty years. There aren't all that many Infomancers, but there are enough and the Infomancers can use their their ripple pools and their little rainclouds to figure out who is doing what to whom anywhere in Londinium or on the planet for that matter, if they put their minds to it.

Jack took another drink from his glass.

Item: For the most part, the Infomancers don't care who is doing what to whom. They could care less about assignations and assassinations, unless either (a) it interfered with their business, or (b) there was some money or personal gain in it for them somehow.

Corollary: If you have enough juice, either money or political power, or preferably both, you can make sure that if you're the "whom" in that above situation, you can make sure an Infomancer will keep track of who is doing what to you.

Item: Jack's clients sometimes ran afoul of people of the above type. In either the white market or the black, capitalists were capitalists, and were ruthless whether they dealt in natural gas or drugs. Both had money and power to burn, and if they had had scruples in the first place, they wouldn't have gotten either money or power.


Issue: It was likely that David Eddington was involved with people who were of that type. He was a fairly high-level cog in a very important financial institution, and was last seen in the company of a high-level cog in a very important criminal institution. Both stripes of suit were going to be watching after not just David Eddington, but looking for people asking questions about David Eddington.

Solution: By forcefully completely severing his ties with Lucy Eddington, returning her payment, and leaving her dissolved in tears, Jack had likely removed himself from David Eddington's informational halo. Jack was no longer a who doing any sort of what to anyone associated with David's whom. Mitsunori had confirmed that he was outside of David's halo.

Item: Jack was now somewhat free to make discreet inquiries into the whereabouts of David Eddington without the little ripples of information he generated in his wake entering into to the pools of any Infomancers keeping an eye on David. Unless Jack actually contacted David or Lucy, and unless the snoops were actually focusing their attention on Jack and his bottle of Scotch (gulp), Jack probably wouldn't show up in David's halo for some time.

Question: Should Jack try and find out what had happened to David, or play it safe and stay away?

Jack poured himself another drink.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pretty: Expected

"I said, whaddya want? What're you doin' there, walkin' around lookin' like that? You're askin' for trouble, aren't ya?" The tattooed man grabbed her upper arm. Leah could make out his scent, cigarettes mainly, but with the sour, sweaty undercurrent that comes from too many hours in the same clothes with no bathing. The other man spoke as he moved behind her, she was surrounded.

"You look cold, girl. Why don't you come in with us? We can warm you up. We can warm you up good."

Tattoo reached up to touch her face, brush her hair back from her cheek. "Yeah, we can take care of you, pretty girl."

The touch of the tattooed arm on her face shocked Leah into clarity. These men were real, this was not a dream, and she was in grave danger. She looked at the tattoo. Munin. This man had a tattoo of Munin on his arm. Had she seen that before, somewhere?

What followed afterward was entirely unexpected for Ryan. He would remember the pain for the rest of his life, both minutes of it. They found One-Pill later, still sitting dumbly in the slowly freezing pool of Ryan's blood. The blood on One-Pill's hands and the drugs in his pockets were enough for the police to convince themselves that he had maybe taken some really potent bad mojo and gone apeshit enough to tear Ryan apart the way he did. One-Pill was never able to coherently talk about what had happened, or what he had done to the rest of Ryan's body, the parts they didn't find, but then again, he was a mojo addict.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pretty: Changes

All of that changed one morning in his nineteenth year, when Ryan woke up with a tattoo on his arm. This wasn't some late-night drunken tattoo that he had hazy memories of getting, no way. No tattoo artist with an ounce of self-preservation would even think about inking someone with the tattoo Ryan had. Back in the day, before people knew what the Followers were about, people might have done it. But some serious shit went down, and now nobody would think of faking one of those tattoos. Wouldn't matter no-how if they did, anyway, since the higher-ups could always spot a fake, and then you'd be in pretty bad trouble. Couple of old guys with no arms still floating around the blocks to remind people about that.

Ryan had been marked with the sign of Munin, and that meant that he was, for some reason, about to begin his rise within the Followers of Memory, or as they called themselves secretly, Muninites. He gained some responsibility, and was still learning the ropes of being a lieutenant in the organization instead of a grunt when his life was changed again by a chance encounter with a pretty girl. He had been hassling a dealer, One-Pill, that the higher-ups thought might be running a side scam with the clients. This kind of thing needed real finesse, you couldn't just go and break One-Pill's face, you had to find out what he was doing and with who. Trace it back, and it'd sure be the Chasers. But whatever, One-Pill might be Ryan's track to his first real trophy, a Chaser with his guard down.

A chick like that shows up, smokin' hot, in her pajamas and barefoot, smelling clean and clearly in an altered mental state, that just blew a hole in the way Ryan had learned to think. Suddenly he was fourteen again, a project reject, never gonna get a girl the right way, the soft way, only the strong wrong way. He made a grab for Leah.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pretty: Block

Itsjustadreamitsjustadreamitsjustadreamitsjustadream. Running through her head, uncontrollably. Leah couldn't move, couldn't talk, couldn't even think straight. She stared down at the cobbles in the street, fascinated by the way her shadow wavered in the gaslight.

The tattooed man was named Ryan. Ryan had grown up in one of the cold public housing blocks that covered most of what used to be the suburbs. After the Cold, people who could afford it moved into the centers of the cities, where the Tubes were being built. In a mass tide, they displaced the poor from their traditional center-city homes and pushed them out, out away from the still-warm centers of population to the fringes. Like sheep huddling together during a winter storm, back when there were still sheep, the ones in the middle stayed the warmest.

Most people, living in the blocks, turned to crime out of sheer disgust with the system. If the Law told them to do one thing, they'd do the other, just because the Law was why they were stuck in those hastily-constructed poor houses that got most of their warmth from the city's composting piles. Massive amounts of organic matter, decaying and giving off precious warmth and oppressive stench. Save the gas heat for the rich, the poor get shit heat. So they flaunted the Law, taunted the Law, and did whatever they wanted. As long as the crime in the blocks stayed in the blocks, the Law didn't care. It had bigger problems.

Ryan was a prime product of the blocks. By the time he was ten, he had already learned hard lessons. He had been savagely beaten not once, but twice, both over some trifling violation of the protocol of the street. He had beaten others for similar offenses. He had killed a man for a sum of money that would not even pay for the lunch of one of the rich slicks that lived in the Tubes. By the time he was fourteen, he had fallen in with the Followers of Memory. It was a fruity name, he thought, but they gave him structure, a family. They gave him a job and a purpose and someone to call enemy. He went to the gatherings like he was supposed to, listened to the hooded and robed weirdoes talk about the All-Father and shit like that, but he didn't really care. He became a fairly proficient mover of illicit substances. He would take deliveries of whatever highs the crank spellers were cooking up from someone whose face he never saw, and he would distribute them to the street sellers. He never dealt in money, that was somebody else's job, but he did get to deal in discipline sometimes. If he thought the seller was getting into the supply, he'd break something to drive home the point. If he knew the seller was getting into it, he'd do more than just break something.


Metapost: Pink!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm part of the crowd, so I will turn my website pink during october as well. Pink Power!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pretty: Parable

"So? It's happened before, and it will happen again. The how of it is interesting, but not terribly important, since Leah is free to leave whenever she wants. She's not a prisoner here, you know."

"I know, Director Sugolinski, but if I am going to help Leah, I need to know more about her and where she goes and why she leaves us. Why did you tell me to not ask her?"

"Doctor, I have a question for you, and I understand that you may think that I am changing the subject, but it is the kind of thing that if I just came out and stated, you wouldn't understand. So instead, I have a question for you that might shed some light on just how dangerous and special our patient is."

"Okay, if you insist on making this into a parable."

"What is the name of your patient?"


"Correct, your patient's name is Leah. Good. Do you think there's anything unusual about her name, or that she has a name?"

"That she has a … no. Her name is Leah, although her last name is not in the records I have access to, but I assume she has a last name as well."

"Now, what is my name?"

"You are Eileen Sugolinski, Director of the facility where I work; my job is to evaluate and assist patient Leah, last name unknown, as she struggles with profound personality and cognitive dysfunction." The Doctor was already tired of this line of questioning, so he got a little flippant in his response.

"Well, then, Doctor. We have established that the people you interact with on a regular basis have names and that having a name is normal and reasonable. Now, my last question is, What is your name?"

The Doctor had no answer for Eileen Sugolinski's question.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Pretty: Veils

This time, Leah knew she was dreaming. That happened only some of the time. She was walking through a city in her dream, barefoot and dressed in her nightgown. She knew that she was dreaming because in that circumstance she should be cold, it was dark and a soft snow was falling on the sidewalks, but she felt no chill at all. People should stare at her, a half-dressed, barefoot wraith wandering the city streets as it snowed, but nobody looked at her at all.

Because it was a dream, and because she knew it was a dream, she decided to have a little fun. She turned down an alley on her right and got out of the flow of people walking on the main sidewalk. Skipping up the alley, she saw two men standing in a darkened alcove, a doorway leading into the alley that was open with two men standing in it. They were arguing over something. Feeling safe in her invisible dream, Leah drifted closer to the men. She thought she might give one of them bunny ears. Both men were tall and rough-looking. One had a tattoo of a raven on his right forearm, he had rolled up his sleeve to show it to the other man.
As soon as she got within a few feet of the men, both stopped talking and looked at her. The man with the tattoo leered at her and asked, "What do you want, pretty little girl?"

Suddenly, Leah felt the cold.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pretty: Remove

Hanging from the racks in the preparation room were a variety of outfits that the Doctor could wear for sessions with Leah. Today, he was going to wear hospital-green scrubs with a white lab coat. He had just finished tying the drawstring in his pants when the Director entered the room.

"Good morning, Doctor. What's this I hear about you needing to see me?" Eileen Sugolinski was a direct person, taking the lead in most conversations. Somehow when she was speaking to you, she not only managed to seem taller than her five feet of height, she managed to make you feel as if you were a child again, caught stealing sweets from her kitchen.

"Good morning, Director Sugolinski. Come to check up on me?" The Doctor tried to regain the initiative.

"Not precisely, but while I am here, I should tell you: take the greengrocer's pen again this session. Leah seemed to enjoy that one."

"I noticed that, and noted it in my report." The Doctor's tone was businesslike, bordering on cold. He did not appreciate the constraints under which he worked or the 'suggestions' that he was offered by his superior.

"Ah, good then. I apologize that my secretary was unable to schedule you a time, but I am free now." Eileen gestured toward the chairs next to the shoe rack. Not precisely comfortable, but easier than looking down at her all the time, the Doctor was nearly a foot and a half taller than Eileen. He sat.

"I'm all yours for the next", she glanced at her watch, "five minutes."

"Leah went out again last night, Director Sugolinski. She went out and came back and no one, not the nurses, not the orderlies, nobody saw her."


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pretty: Muddy

"One problem with the situation I'm in", began Mitsunori, "is the problem of information consumption. You never know just who is listening to you, and for that matter, who isn't. But that little trick I did with the water glass should work in your favor. That and the carvings. There's new ones out there today, did you see them?"

"No, I can never tell what's new and what isn't, unless I go away for a long time."

Mitsunori smiled. "That's the point. Anyway, as far as I can tell from looking and listening, you're off the case. There's no information flow between you and Mrs. Eddington anymore. Now it's up to you to decide: are you still going to look for David or not?"

"Not sure yet. Thanks for the help." Jack put enough money on the bar to pay for ten beers and started to get up. Mitsunori grabbed his hand.

"One thing yet, old friend, or maybe two."


"First is: do what you can for David Eddington. Even if it amounts to nothing, it will be good for you. You look more down than ever before. Second is: there's someone new in your halo. Are you working another case?"

"Nope, just the Eddington one."

"Hmm. Well, someone has made contact with you. I cannot tell who, since it is pretty tentative, but there's definitely something there. If you don't know about it yet, that can only mean one thing: it's going to be a big deal. Information dense."


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pretty: Cowardice

"I'm sure you didn't come here to hear me scold you, or really even for the beer, probably. No, the fact that you're here and still sober, coupled with what you said about having had a cheeseburger earlier, tells me you're on a case and you need help."

"Actually, I'm not on a case anymore." Jack took out his notebook. "I was tracking down one David Eddington for his wife, Lucy. David is a supervising accountant for Bingham and Steed, or at least was until three days ago when he failed to return home. He had been acting somewhat erratically for the week prior to that, and then one night, poof. He disappeared. Lucy called me rather than the police because she was worried her social standing would suffer when the police found out that he was shacking up with someone from his office. Turns out that wasn't the case at all, but she still can't go to the police. Seems David was last seen in the company of a Muninite or two, eating dinner no less. Since then, zilch. As soon as I heard that he was involved with the Followers of Memory, I told poor Mrs. Lucy Eddington that I would no longer be working for her, with her, or near her. I returned the check she had given me when she hired me, and walked away. As far as she is concerned, I'm off the case."

Mitsunori's brow creased in thought as he put a beer in front of Jack. "How did she take it?"

"How did she take it?" A wild light crept into Jack's eyes. He put the beer to his lips and drained it in less than thirty seconds. "I just told her that her husband, whom she was worried was cheating on her, was not cheating after all but was faithful and probably still loved her, but had fallen into the hands of a criminal organization from which neither I nor the police would be able to extricate him. Additionally, I told her that I would not contact her again because I was, essentially, a coward. Which, I essentially am. She did not take it well."

As Jack was getting himself worked up, Mitsunori had taken the glass Jack drained and filled poured enough water in it to fill it halfway. He then rotated the glass three times clockwise and twice counterclockwise. Finally, just as Jack stopped speaking, he hit it with his hand so it spilled all along the bar away from him and Jack, who jumped away from the bar in surprise, even though he was expecting something of the sort.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Metapost: Site Update

I've moved the blog over to the new version of Blogger. Some nifty behind-the-scenes features, and theoretically it will quash the weird caching bug that you might not have noticed, where I have to go manually refresh my blog in my browser a few times before it gets updated to the point where other people can see my new posts. Hopefully this is painless, but if you see any problems, drop me a line, or add a comment here.

Pretty: Obligatory

People who went into the tubes regularly tended to fall into two categories: those who went once a year or so, and people who went regularly. Those who went infrequently typically went to deal with some government bureaucracy, renewal of some license or another, for example, would just leave their cold-temperature clothes at one of the ubiquitous coat-check kiosks just inside the tube. Most people who regularly visited the tubes, such as the bureaucrats that the first type of people visited, invested in a warming-charm that would protect them from the cold during the usually short walk from their home just outside the tube to the shimmering curtain that held Cold at bay.

Jack had a big duffel bag he carried with him whenever he went out. It was made of a very compressible fabric and would fold down fairly small; he stored it in a big pocket sewn into the back of his jacket. Often, his business called for him to go into the tubes, and having a duffel like that meant he could take off his jacket, overpants and mukluks and carry them with him rather than leaving them with a coat check near the entrance. That way he didn't have to leave the same way he went in, and he saved on coat check fees. The duffel was considerably cheaper than a warmth charm, which wouldn't hold up to the walk from the tube to his building anyway.

Duffel in hand, Jack walked slowly past the assortment of vendors that lined the first few chambers of the tube. The signs, mostly hand-lettered, offered everything from noodle soup to charms to weapons to "active participatory massage". The storefronts themselves were never much wider than a small door, but the tunnels behind the doors might be long or short, and could lead to a single room or a many-roomed complex. Most of the time, the busy bees who used this entrance to get to work breezed right past the mob of shoppers and onlookers who came to the commerce zone just to shop a little where it was warm. Jack sauntered over to a door with the word "Yakitori" emblazoned in asian-esque lettering. Pushed it open, let the duffel lead the way.

Inside, there was a longish walk down a twisty and narrow tunnel, with alcoves every now and again so people could pass each other in either direction. Somewhere around the halfway point, carvings started to appear in the tunnel walls, first rough and then more and more complex and baroque as Jack got close to the end of the tunnel. Jack idly wondered what Mitsunori would do when he had carved straight down to the front door of his little one-man restaurant. That wouldn't happen for a while yet, at the rate the carvings were progressing.
The duffel nosed out into the soft light of the gaslamps that were everywhere in the tubes. Jack followed, walked into the small room and sat on a stool in front of the long recycled-metal bar that separated him from the cook, a gray-haired Japanese man with a tall white paper hat.

"I figured it was you, Jack. Not many people eat what I'm serving this time of day."

"Well, Mitsunori-san, I actually just had a cheeseburger not too long ago, but I could use a beer."

Mitsunori harrumphed. "It may be dark outside, but that doesn't mean that it's okay to drink beer at ten in the morning, you know."

"I stopped looking at clocks years ago, you know that. What's the point? Up is work, tired is sleep, hungry is eat, and thirsty is drink. Clinging to the old ways is just tradition. Besides, it's more efficient this way: I'm out of your hair before any real customers come by."

"I suppose so", said Mitsunori as he worked a tap on a large oaken barrel that was behind the bar, and probably the most valuable thing in the bar, given its antiquity and the scarcity of wood. "Maybe it's just that I don't like seeing you, of all people, drinking at any time of the day."

"Yeah, yeah. I know." Mitsunori was a friend from way back, back before Jack got into the snooping business, actually, back when he didn't need the drink the way he needed it now.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Metapost: Names

I've got a problem: there are going to be far too many people in this story. The only name I'm really happy with thus far is "Leah", but that's because the story is about Leah, and I knew her character before I had even started writing the story.

All the other names in the story have been invented on the fly, and I've already felt somewhat stretched. So, I need your help. Put as many names as you can into the comment list. First names, last names, name combinations. Make them have different flavors and everything. Then, when I use one, I can cross it off and keep track of who is doing what.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pretty: Disappointment

"The stories are vague because they're very secretive, and have some control over what gets printed in the newspaper. They've got most of the police running scared as well. Anyway, the Followers and the Chasers are rival organizations, to call them gangs would be something of an understatement. They might have been around before the Coming of the Cold, but they really surfaced shortly afterward. They're involved in all sorts of illegal activities: kidnappings, extortion, assassination. Luckily for most people, they each spend a great deal of their energy attempting to get the better of the other, rather than actually doing anything to harm middle-class, everyday people. Street people, petty criminals, and the poor, on the other hand, know plenty about what the Chasers and Followers can do."

"My goodness", said Mrs. Eddington, "Why is it that the Infomancers have not put a stop to their activities?"

"Nobody really knows. Some say it's because they prey mainly on the lower class. Some say that they've found a way to circumvent the Infomancers. Myself, I think it is a bit of both: they're handy to have around in our society, as long as they don't hurt anyone important, so the Infomancers let them stay around, perhaps even set them up with an assignment if there's something dirty that needs to be done in a way that doesn't trace back to the Infomancers. You know, the Infomancers themselves have a decent amount of infighting and power struggles, it could be that the two gangs belong to different factions in the Infomancer circles."

"What I don't understand is what this has to do with my poor David?"

"That, I'm not certain of, and I'm not sure there's much I can do for you."

"What do you mean, you can't do anything for me or David. I'm paying you, aren't I?" Lucy's face starts turning red with anger. "You tell me that the police can't help, that you can't help. What am I supposed to do?" Hysteria starts tingeing her voice, it's setting in. They might have been having marital problems, which is why Lucy hired Jack in the first place, but David did not run off with some floozy, so he might be in serious trouble.

"Look, Mrs. Eddington, the best thing to do is sit tight. David will come back, or he won't. David was last seen with a Follower. There's not much anyone can do to find out where he is or anything, unless they decide to let him go. They might contact you, even. They might call you and ask for ransom, they might let you talk to him. It's just that if I go poking into this case any further, they'll probably just kill me, and you, and David."

"I just cannot believe that. I cannot give up, David wouldn't give up if it were me that was missing. He would go out himself, with a torch and a charm against the cold, and look for me, turning over every stone until I was home safe. Now, I've paid you your retainer, you might as well get on out there and look for David."

Jack grumbled deep in his throat. "You can have your retainer back, Lucy. I can't continue working for you." He dug around in his pocket and found the cheque she had written out, entitling him to quite a bit of money, payable on demand at the Barrington Financial center. He had not gotten around to withdrawing his pay. "The best thing you can do for David, and you, is just wait and be quiet. Don't tell anyone else what happened."

She was crying as he let himself out.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pretty: Upscale

After his meal, Jack bundled up and braved the Cold. It wouldn't be a long walk, his client lived in one of the condominium buildings near the Mouth. One of the nicer ones, it had a doorman making sure some people were allowed to enter and others weren't. Under normal circumstances, Jack would probably have fallen into the later category, but he had an introduction card from his client. After inspecting it, and checking against a list, the doorman gestured to an underling.

"Steve here will escort you up to the Eddington residence, stay with him."

Steve had nothing to say as he walked with Jack to the elevator and then to the floor where the Eddingtons lived. A few moments in the receiving salon, and Jack was ushered in to see Lucy Eddington, the woman who had hired him to track down her husband.

"Have you made any progress on my husband's disappearance?" Lucy was direct and to the point. Jack was hired help, so she didn't need to waste time with pleasantries.

"I think", said Jack, "that we can rule out an affair. I do not think that Mr. Eddington ran off with another woman, or man for that matter. Unfortunately, I think it might be much more serious."

"Serious?" Lucy looked worried. "Should I call in the police? If it's not an affair, I don't have to worry about the embarrassment."

"You might want to call in the police, but it is unlikely that they will help you. Your husband has gotten tangled up with some very powerful and scary criminals. Do you know anything about the Followers of Memory, or the Chasers of Thought?"

"Not much. I have heard of them, of course. I read the newspapers and all, but those stories are usually pretty vague."


Metapost: Retcon

Something is different. Something has changed. You look around, trying to put your finger on it, but it's hard to tell. If only you could trust your memory....

So, I had to change a little bit in the Cheeseburgers post. Just a heads up. Turns out, Jack didn't know as much about the people his Quarry were consorting with as I had planned.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pretty: Trees

"You were cold, were you? Can you tell me where you dreamt you were? Indoors or outdoors?"

"Both, I think. Or neither. It was an enclosed garden or patio, surrounded on all sides by columns, with a fountain in the center. I remember running water, maybe a fountain, but I did not look for it. I spent most of the dream trying to climb a tree."

"Was it day or night?"

"Night, I could see by moonlight and starlight, but the sun was down."

"Do you remember what kind of tree it was?" Details were important to whomever had created the Dream Record Protocol.

"The tall kind. Tall and straight, and the branches were out of my reach. Don't you want to hear about why I was climbing the tree?"

"If you think it is important, Leah." It wasn't important, on that the Protocol was clear. The features of the dream were crucial, the dreamer herself unimportant. The Doctor pretended to take notes as he struggled to remember: how many times had Leah dreamt about a tree? He couldn't remember. He would consult the Files.


Monday, July 31, 2006


Not part of the storyline, gasp. I've got something else on my mind today.

Lying awake in bed, thinking about a mouse. Why did you have to choose my kitchen to live in, to poop in, to spread your diseases and chew on my walls? You could have moved somewhere else and lived a longer, happier life. You never really had a chance, did you? Once I saw that shadow out of the corner of my eye this afternoon, your fate was sealed. I set the trap, baited it with peanut butter (I think I might be growing an aversion to peanut butter, scented with the deaths of so many cute little vermin), and waited. Awoken at two in the morning by the sound of death. Snap. Cleaned and reset the trap. Helpless little thing, looks soft (don't touch it, what, do you want Hantavirus?) Wish it had picked some other house to live in. Well, I hope you were a bachelor, Mr. Mouse.


Head back downstairs. There's another one. This one was quicker, head in the trap, reaching for that peanutty goodness. Don't forget to wash the peanut smell off of your hands.

Now I just have to worry about when the babies decide their parents aren't coming back with food and head out into my kitchen to forage. Baby mice are not as smart, they'll just wander around, lost, and not even run away from you, they're so hungry they've lost all sense of self-preservation.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pretty: Redux

Lunch came and went, at least for Leah. The Doctor rarely ate more than one meal per day. After lunch, he would return to an earlier tactic, the Empathy Protocol clearly was not going to work today.

"Okay Leah", he began. It helped to say her name somewhat forcefully, otherwise she would just sit there, staring at your hands or the paper, or the table until you got her attention, at which point you would have to repeat yourself. "Let's start with last night. Did you sleep well?"

"I did, actually. But then I seem to remember that I always sleep well."

"I would have to check the notes on that, but I agree, I cannot recall you ever telling me you did not sleep well in all our sessions together."

"All our sessions, Doctor. Do you know how many sessions we have had? I am not sure I remember."

"I don't remember either, Leah. I will check the notes. Back on track, though. Did you dream?"

"Of course I did. I always dream when I sleep. This time, I dreamt that I was cold, very cold. I shivered and tried to stay warm, but could not."

The Doctor flipped a page over on his clipboard to and noted down, 'Subject's primary characterization of dream is: cold. Question: is this a common theme? Search Files for cross-references.' There was a scrawl across the top of the Dream Record Protocol Sheet, not his handwriting: 'Do NOT ask Subject about her nightly excursions again.' The Director must have heard about what happened yesterday. Oh well, thought the Doctor, at least I gave it a shot. Too bad it turned out the way it did.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pretty: Obscured

The Doctor laid a card in front of Leah. He wanted to see if she had the ability to empathize with the animals and people pictured on the card; she clearly had very little affect and he was curious how deep this went. He asked Leah, "What do you see here?"

Leah stopped staring at the Doctor's hands and looked at the card. "I see a card."

"Can you tell me anything more about it?"

"It seems to be approximately six centimeters by nine. It has rounded corners, and looks sturdy."

The Doctor annotated his file. 'Subject's spatial sense is again demonstrated to be excellent. She is able to estimate sizes and distances quite accurately.' He laid down another card. "What about this one?"

"It is another card. I would say that it is the same size as the other card".

"Good, good, now just one more." He laid down another card.

"Yes, it is another card, although this one is just a tad bigger."

"Besides the size difference, is there any difference between these three cards?" Uncertainty was creeping into the Doctor's voice. He knew there was supposed to be something more than this to the interview, but couldn't remember.

"No, they are all the same."

The Doctor made a note. 'Subject has correctly identified three cards in the empathy test, and noted that each card is approximately six by nine'. He struggled with his memory, poking it and prodding it to come up with the next step in the Protocol. His memory was silent on the matter. He had a deck of these cards, but why should he continue to show them to her if they were all the same size?

"I suggest, then, that we take a break for lunch and continue our session later."

Leah smiled at him, a rare thing. "Yes, I think I must be hungry, and enjoy eating."

He took her to the room where she ate and left her in the care of the Attendant so he could go back to his office and review his notes and put his mind in order.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pretty: Cheeseburgers

"Welcome to the Chuckles Cantina! The coat check is over there, and I will find you a table while you're taking care of that. Smoking or Non?" The hostess giggled, for some reason Jack couldn't quite fathom. Perhaps it was required.

"Non-smoking, please." Jack smoked on occasion, but the man he was looking for didn't smoke, so non-smoking made more sense. After shucking off all of his cold-weather gear, he was led deeper into the restaurant.

Jack did not pay much attention to the menu, he ordered a cheeseburger. These days, of course, it wasn't really a cheeseburger, but it looked similar and almost tasted the same, and it wasn't like better restaurants had better stuff, they just cooked it differently.

"Been working here long?" He was working on the waitress, priming her, really.

"Yeah, it's a good job. Good hours, decent pay when you folks tip like you're supposed to. No real grab-asses to worry about like my last gig."

"Don't fret about the tip, I've got one for the pool and maybe a little extra just for you."

"You do, huh? That's awfully pleasant of you." Suspicion crept into her eyes.

"Don't worry, it's just a question or two. I'm trying to track down a friend of mine."

"A friend, huh? Seems to me a friend would have told you where he went. But go ahead, what's your friend look like?"

"It would have been two days ago, around eighteen-hundred. He's about a hundred-sixty cents tall, weighs maybe sixty keys or so. Green eyes, dark hair. I have an sketch of him if you want me to show you."

"Your friend, would he have been alone?"

"I'm not entirely sure, actually. He lives around here, and I know he made it as far as the Mouth on his way home from work. Sometimes he stops off for food, sometimes not."

"Show me the sketch, it was a kind of busy night."

Jack took out his notebook and flipped back a few pages. He was a pretty fair artist, and had drawn this picture with the help of the person who had hired him. He saw recognition in the eyes of the waitress.

"Yeah, I remember your friend and his associates. Not much in the way of tippers, I'd say."

Associates? Jack slid a twenty across the table. "Remember anything else?"

"Well, the other guys, they had tattoos, matching ones. Some kind of bird on their forearms."

This was probably the worst thing she could have said to Jack. "Some kind of bird? Would you say it could have been a raven? Black bird, mean-looking?"

"Yeah, that's it. Big mean looking black bird."

"One last question, were the tattoos on the guys' left arms or right?"

"Umm, right, I think. One of them signed the check, and I think he was right handed."

"Thanks a lot. You might have just saved my friend's life."

Jack's quarry, it seems, was involved with Followers. This was going to get tricky.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pretty: Avocation

As long as Jack was awake, he decided, he might as well get some work done. He wasn't sure of the time; like many people since the coming of the Cold, he did not own a clock of any sort anymore, it was just not worth it. If he was awake, as far as he was concerned, he could work on his cases. He did not have all that many cases, but the ones he had he took seriously. They represented people who desperately needed help from someone, anyone. People who could not go through the usual channels to get help, they were too shady for the authorities to help and not shady enough to get help from the underworld.

He did not have the same kind of resources that the authorities or the gangs might have had, but it was surprising how much progress you could make toward helping people just by walking around, paying attention, and asking the right people the right questions. The Infomancers, of course, had a much easier time with it all, they could find out what you had for breakfast, or when was the last time you took a leak, all without leaving their plush, warm estates. Then again, they had to make a lot of sacrifices to be able to do that, so they deserved it, or at least they said that they deserved the luxury.

Jack bundled up as best as he could before stepping out into the cold, dark city. One reason he could afford his rent was that his building was somewhat far from the Tubes, so he got a lot more outdoor time than he really wanted. At least that way he knew anyone who showed up at his office really needed the help.

The entrance to the Tube was surrounded by a ring of commuter condominiums and their attendant commercial zone. Jack pulled out a notebook and checked his list. He had already been to four of the eateries near the Tube, there were two left. Without the notebook, it would be hard to remember which ones he had been to and which he had not. His memory was not what it used to be, and these restaurants were all the same, perky waitstaff and tchochkes, meant to reassure those eating there that their experience would be exactly the same as it would have been at any other restaurant near any other Tube.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pretty: Anamnesis

Instead of a window, there was a band of tiles running around the room, at about chest height. The tiles had been painted in a way that led to a series of intricate, overlapping patterns. Leah would stare at the tiles, slowly shifting her focus so one set of squares would leap into the foreground, then another, then tighten in on a single tile, and release out to a pattern of diamonds or triangles or even larger hexagons. She could do that for hours, which was just as well, since she didn't have much else to do. At least the room was warm.

The room lacked not only a window, but a door as well. Whenever she had to leave, the Doctor would fetch her. She never went out on her own, until now she had never even thought about leaving, but something about the way the Doctor looked at her during their last session made Leah want to work out how she could get out on her own. Next time, she promised herself, next time she would pay enough attention to her comings and goings so she could re-create the doorway that must be there in order for her go to her sessions. She would try very hard to remember.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Pretty: Groggy

Jack woke up because a red light was shining in his eyes. Sitting up blearily, he took stock of his surroundings. He was in his office, sitting behind his desk. He had fallen asleep earlier, face down on his desk. He probably had a crease from where his cheek had laid on a pen.

It took Jack a minute or so to remember the red light, but there it was. He looked at it again. The red light on his desk meant that he either had a package or a visitor down at the front door. Jack poked the little light on his desk, extinguishing it, and stood. He walked over to the sink and mirror that took up one corner of his office. Washed his face, combed back his hair, rinsed the yuck out of his mouth. Sometimes it felt like he needed to shave the fuzz off of his tongue.

Down the rickety stairs two flights to the lobby. The front door, of course, was thick, opaque, and heavily insulated, but long ago someone had installed a peep-hole in it. The building management decided not to fix it, probably because it was useful, given the building's clientele, to be able to see who was outside before opening the door. Jack didn't bother with looking; he undid the latches and bars that held the door shut, and swung it wide open, admitting a blast of cold air.

Nobody was there anymore, but there was a small brown package on the doorstep, clearly labeled with his name. He took the package and went inside. As soon as the door was again closed and dogged, the building started to warm back up. Management might not be diligent about keeping the place looking good, but they kept the heaters running.

At one point in his life, Jack would have subjected such a suspicious and unexpected package to a thorough scrutiny before opening it. He had made enough enemies to warrant it and enough money to afford all the latest in explosive and incendiary detection. Not anymore. Nevertheless, Jack delicately opened the package, trying to keep his face from what he imagined would be the direct blast if someone had finally tracked him down and decided he had not yet suffered enough.

The package was empty.


Monday, July 03, 2006


Just in case you didn't notice, I put a link in the sidebar over there that goes to a web page that lists all the pretty entries in story order, and each entry has a link to the next one. That might come in handy if you find yourself trying to read a few entries in a row, since they go from the bottom to the top. Maybe if I could figure out how to make the page upside down. Hmm.

Pretty: Fringe

Leah sighed. "Can I see your pen for just a second?"

The doctor made another note. "No, I need it right now. Maybe later, after you've told me about your shawl. What color was it, and did it have a fringe?"

"The shawl was yellow. It had a row of tassels around the bottom, each approximately one inch long, and all of the tassels were light brown. The whole thing was pastel-shaded, not bright at all, and as I said, it was not my color, but I was cold."

The Doctor-who-wouldn't-share-his-pen made another note. "Okay, today I'm going to skip the rest of the dream." For an instant, his eyes changed. Normally, even though they had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with respect to her dreams, Leah liked the Doctor. He had a kind of secret smile that he did not let touch his lips, but his eyes would show it. But now, the Doctor's eyes showed no hint of a smile; they were dead and hard, and they reached out and took hold of Leah's perceptual focus. She could not look away from his eyes. "Today I want to ask you one question, and then I will let you look at my pen. Today, my question is: Where did you go last night?"


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pretty: Dream

"At any rate", the Doctor-with-a-penchant-for-stealing-pens continued, "we were talking about your dreams. You were going to tell me what you dreamed about last night."

Leah had always had vivid dreams. In fact, it was not until after she reached puberty that she was told that there was a line between waking and sleep, and the things that happened in dreams were not actually real things, but fancies made by the random firings of neurons at rest. She never truly believed that.

"I dreamed that I was in a palace. No, not exactly a palace, but a large place. Hallways twenty feet wide, marble flooring. Paintings on the walls, ceilings recessed so far that you have to squint to see them, and frescoed to look like the sky. I look up, and feel like I might fall into the ceiling, indoor spaces shouldn't be that large. It is very cold, my breath condensing in front of me. I shiver and pull my shawl around me."

The Doctor interrupts, "A shawl?"

"Yes, a shawl. It is made of a thin fabric, not much help at all, actually. Perhaps a thin wool? Maybe linen. I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that it is yellow. Not my color, but my arms are goosebumpy, so I pull it tighter around me, kind of hug myself for warmth."

"Did the shawl have a fringe?" This was the kind of trick they liked to play. They ask you for extraneous details, seeing if you can remember them, or perhaps if you change your story upon repeated tellings. Leah didn't understand what motivated the Doctor to ask her these questions, she could never tell what he would be interested in. Why did he focus in on the shawl, but not ask about the paintings in her dream? Those paintings were fascinating; she could have spent hours staring at them if she weren't so cold.


Friday, June 30, 2006

Pretty: Names

Click. Click. Click-click. The Doctor had one of those cheap retractable ballpoint pens that usually have some kind of advertisement printed on the side. Maybe he stole it from a store clerk, or after signing for delivery. Pens like that want to be stolen, so they can spread their message around. At any rate, he was somewhat fidgety. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at the pen. One click would toggle the pen into writing mode, and another click would toggle it off. It would have to be a fairly simple mechanism that made it work, otherwise people would worry more when someone walked off with their five-dollar, hand machined pen. Definitely a spring in there, the ball point was retracting up into the pen body, defying gravity. She had a few ideas about how the pen might work, but just by looking, there was no way to tell for sure. Perhaps if she could get it away, take it apart.


The Doctor was talking to her. That was what everyone called her, Leah. She did not really think of it as her name, but it made interactions easier, giving people a word with indexicality, to have something people can wrap their mind around. Much easier that way than thinking or saying, "That woman, with shoulder-length red hair and a heart-shaped, freckle-dusted face, who seems to always become hyper-focused on the smallest details", and so on.

"Leah, are you here now?"

"Yes, yes. I am here, sitting right in front of you. Can you see me? Perhaps you could loan me your pen while you make other observations as regards my existence?"

"It just seemed as if, your physical self notwithstanding, it seemed as if your mind was miles away." He made a brief note on his clipboard. Probably something like, Subject exhibits a sense of humor grounded in sarcasm and literal interpretations. Notes like that never have names, just numbers at the top of the page that get tied to other numbers in an arcane filing system. The observation protocol explicitly requires the observed to be referred to as "Subject". Something to do with privacy, but Leah thought it could be an indication that the problem she had with names was more widespread than a unique little feature of her own mind.



Things change. Times change. This place has become stagnant. It has become stagnant in part because I have found new and exciting outlets for my creativity. So, time for a new thing.

I'm embarrassed to say, but I have been trying to write a book. I think trying might be an overstatement. Anyway, from here on up, I'm going to try and serialize stuff from the storyline I'm working on. It could be that it sucks. It is likely that I will have to change things. But it will be fun.

The working title for the book is "Pretty". So, future posts will be something like "Pretty: Word". I'm going to keep the word theme going as long as I can. Posts without the "Pretty" tag will be normal posts that don't fit in the story (for the time being at least). The posts are also going to be roughly chronological, but it is actually hard to write a book in one sequence beginning to end, so there might be chronological jumping issues. Hold on!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


We're sorry, all of our customer service representatives are busy right now. Your call is important to us. Enjoy our music while you continue to hold.

Yes ma'am, enjoying your music indeed.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Driving along the freeway as I often do, I have found that traffic seems to clump together. Every quarter mile or so, there will be a little bunch of cars, all tooling along, slowly accumulating cars from behind as the clump moves forward at approximately 85% of the cruising velocity of most cars on the road.

Weaving through traffic (like a madman, probably), you can get out in front of that clump, and then shoot another quarter mile at a normal speed before you find another clump.

The interesting thing is that every single clump, every single time there is an inexplicable backup on the freeway, it is because of a car with a Pennsylvanial license plate doing fifty-five in the far left lane. Is there some sort of extra, hidden, curriculum in the Pennsylvania driver education system? "Do not respect the passing lane! You must Impede Traffic! Do it especially while you go to Delaware to purchase items with no sales taxes! Travel to and from your shopping expeditions in the left lane, slowly!"

I just don't get it.

Friday, March 17, 2006


You might not see them at all. They only do business on certain days, and those days follow No Fixed Schedule. It is possible that there is a pattern to when they are there and when they are not, but deciphering that pattern is likely the first challenge they give neophytes who wish to join their ranks. They are the Amish Pretzel Bakers. These people dedicate their lives to the creation of Soft Pretzels; they've given up television and all modern convenience. They have no room for vanity in their Way of the Pretzel, only humility and dedication to the Pretzel.

These people spend years training and learning the Way before they even are allowed out into the world in a sales role. Those who successfully sell The Pretzel for a number of years develop an instinctive knowledge of how to properly make The Pretzel, just by observing those who enjoy it. Once they have learned this, they give up speaking forever, for those who know do not tell, and those who tell do not know. From that moment on, they live in isolation, each day devoted to the creation of The Pretzel.

None of these Amish Pretzel Bakers has ever tasted The Pretzel. No, to do so would be vanity unto blasphemy. But you can taste The Pretzel, and believe me, when they ask you if you want butter on it, you say yes, say yes

Thursday, March 02, 2006


We had just signed the papers, the house was ours. On a related note, it was somewhat anticlimactic. I had expected to have to shake hands or have the lawyer say something like "by the power vested in me...", but I digress. The house was ours, and we were going to have a good shower, dangitall. The showerhead was one of those cheapo heads you can buy for four dollars, and it leaked to boot. So we went out and got a roll of teflon tape and a fancy schmancy showerhead that cost all of twenty-five dollars (we're living it up whole hog now, folks!).

The damn thing still leaks.

So I get out the wrench, and tighten away.

Still leaking.

One last tighten, this time for sure.

I turn the water on, and now the whole showerhead flies off of the pipe and lands in the tub. Oops, looks like I broke the house.

Upon investigation, I find out that the showerhead to pipe interface is (or, more properly, was) mediated by a little piece of threading that attached to the end of the shower pipe. This threading was what was leaking, and now in my zealous overtightening, I have stripped it right off of the end of the pipe.

I had the damn house for less than an hour, and I already broke it. I forgot to keep the receipt, so no returns either. Time to call a plumber, I suppose.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Yesterday, on my way into the bathroom, I bumped into someone. Literally. Neither of us were really looking where we were going, and we kind of bumped into each other. We quickly apologized and went our separate ways, I was going in and he was going out.

Shortly later I realized that the guy I had bumped into was wearing the same sweater I was. Actually, he looked a lot like me. Same haircut, glasses, and sweater. He looked a bit older than me, though. I thought, "Wow, I just bumped into Future Me!"

Later, as I write this, I come to the realization that Future Me couldn't really be Future Me, because Future Me had about eight inches of height on me, and I'm done growing. Oh well.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Heard on the teevee, "Now that's a nice improvement on the normal Death Spiral you see so much of nowadays." Seriously, man, what could be an improvement on a Death Spiral? Ninja Laser Death Spiral Monkeys? With a kung-fu grip? We thought we were powerful. We thought we could improve on the Death Spiral, but we were wrong. Adding monkeys to the Death Spiral was something that science should never have done. Now we have to live with our Death Spiral monkeys, sitting in on the Pairs Short Program, throwing their feces on the ice. When will science learn? Some things were never meant to be hybridized with monkeys.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Today, I noticed it. A puddle of water had formed under my coffeepot. At first, I thought it was a spill. I wanted it to be a spill. I needed it to be a spill. I didn't really want to consider the alternative.

After a brief investigation, however, I discovered a fatal flaw in the coffeepot. The water reservoir had just had it. A crack had developed at the bottom, where various planes of plastic came together and were fused to form a waterproof seal. There is nothing to be done for it, I don't want epoxy residue getting into my coffee.

So, ladies and gentlemen, raise a toast to my coffeepot, which has been with me since I started graduate school (it was my first purchase, before I even bought books or anything). Some quick and rough estimates lead me to believe I've brewed about a thousand gallons of coffee in it. That's about one cubic me: a cube that has sides the length of me. So, I guess that the pot has served me well. Time to get a new one.