Category Archives: Brain Fizzes

Psychological and intellectual topics off the top of my head.

Three days the skies were silent.

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Ten years ago the world changed.  Ten years ago we all changed.  We may not realize it, but we have.  We think about things a little differently than we did before September 11, 2001.  Even if we don’t fly or even go to airports.  Our world view is different.

I was living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when the towers fell.  I’d been there since I was 2 yrs old.  I was born in Brooklyn, NY.  My parents had lived there for the first 30 yrs of their lives.  In fact, we moved in February of 1971.  The north tower had only been open for two months.  The south tower wouldn’t be finished for another year.  Strangely, when the dust settled on that horrible day the New York skyline had returned to the way it was in my parents memory.  We moved to Florida following down my mother’s sister and brother-in-law and my maternal grandmother.  Leaving behind aunt’s, uncle’s and cousins and friends.

When the news show I was listening to at work that morning broke in to report the news, I was stunned.  In disbelief.  I mean, those towers had become an icon of my home town.  That’s how I though of New York.  How I still think of New York.  Florida never felt like home.  And the few times I’ve gotten to go back to there, I always felt more at home and at ease than I did where I lived.

They set up a TV in a conference room where I worked.  Everybody popping in for a few minutes at a time before going back to their work.  Over and over.  I’d been in the room for only a few moments watching the news report when right in front of the camera… a second plane hit the south tower.  Fear.  Now we all knew that it had to be terrorists.

About 45 minutes later I went back into the conference room to sit for a while.  By now, the only people in there were other transplanted New Yorkers.  We chatted and watched the TV, watching those towers burn.  I kept calling home to find out if my mother had gotten a hold of her high school friend who had just moved from Greenwich Village to SoHo, only a short walking distance from the World Trade Center.  As we sat, the south tower fell.  It felt like being punched in the stomach.  We stayed and watched – not knowing what else to d –  everybody on phones now trying to reach friends and family in New York.  We watched when the north tower went down.  It was like the whole world crumbling.  I’m so glad that I was in a room filled with native New Yorkers to go thru that with.  I may never have lived there, but I’ve always felt like a New Yorker, never a Floridian.

Sometime that day they gave the order to land all the planes.  Air traffic over the United States was to come to a halt.  Engines shut off.  The skies were quiet.

I remember going outside on the 12th.  I remember looking up and seeing only the sky.  But more.  The air was quiet.  Oh, there were noises going on.  Street traffic, construction, people talking.  But I lived only eight miles from Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.  I grew up three miles from it.  The sound of airplanes taking off and landing, jet engines flying over head or just the sound of the planes idling on the runway waiting to take off is a sound that filled my ears for 30 years.  After that long you don’t even consciously hear it.  But when that sound stops…it’s eery.

For three days the air traffic was stopped.  For three days the skies were silent.  For three days I could look up into the sky and not see an airplane.  For three days we all held our collective breath.

The terrorists that thought to cripple us that day did not win.  America doesn’t crumble.  We’re made of tougher stuff than that.  Maybe somewhere else the population of a nation would fall into despair and depression and stand around crying, but not us.  Push us, we stumble but recover.  Hit us, we get angry.  That’s what I saw during those three days and for months after.  Flags flying.  People making sure not to stay home from work.  US made products flying off the shelves.  Down in Florida we couldn’t help our friends, family and countrymen up in New York with the aftermath.  But we could show our solidarity.  And we did this by not letting it get in the way of our getting on with life.  We stood up and said “Look at us.  We’re going to work.  We’re going to school.  We’re shopping.  We’re banking.  We’re loving.  We’re living.”  We thumbed our noses at the terrorists who thought to disrupt our lives and yelled “SCREW YOU!”  Quite literally with some.  We got on with our lives as quickly as we could not out of disrespect for those who went to work in the financial center of America that September morning, never to come home again, but out of respect for them and their families.

Ten years later we can proudly say that the war wasn’t won when Osama bin Laden was killed a few months ago.  We can say that the war was won when we, all of us who lived outside of Manhattan, got up on September 12th and went to work or school.  Or, like my dad, celebrated their birthday on the 13th.  Or went to do their usual grocery shopping that following weekend.  Those terrorists thought to bring us to our knees that morning.  How little they understood us.

So far away…

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Living in England, and any other small land mass country, is very different from living in the United States.  This may seem obvious, but it’s not when you think about some things.  Like driving distances.  I was listening to the Eleventh Hour Podcast on my way to work this morning when Chris mentioned that if he wanted to get this particular brand of pretzel nuggets he would have to drive ALL THE WAY to Ealing.  Now, I don’t know how far that is for him but it’s got to be much closer for him than for me to drive to the nearest Cracker Barrel (Seattle to Wyoming) for the best chicken dumplings in the country.

And that got me thinking.  Dangerous, I know.  According to Google Maps, if I were to drive from the northern most point in England to the southern most, it would only take me less than 11 hours.  The drive from Seattle to LA, when I go in February to attend Gallifrey One, will take me 17 hours.  And that’s only traveling part way down one coast.  It took me six days of 8 hour a day driving (and one 10 hour day) to move from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Seattle, WA.  3500 miles!  That’s how far away friends that I think of as family are now.

That’s what really got me thinking.  If I lived in England and moved from, say, London to Manchester saying goodbye to my friends would not have been as tearful.  I wouldn’t have known that most of them I would never see again.  It’s much cheaper to drive a few hours so spend the weekend with a friend than it is to fly clear across the US.  This country is so big that if you are a regular working class poor person moving even a few states away can mean never seeing loved ones again.  Facebook and Skype are all well and good, but there is a difference between that and hugging your sister.

I made friends this past February when I went to Gally for the first time.  Many who live in the area recently besieged by Hurricane Irene.  I know I will see most of them again at Gally next February.  And we follow each other on Facebook and Twitter.  So it’s not like I’ve lost touch with them, and yet I have.  In a smaller country I would be able to visit and hang out with these new friends during the year.  I would be able to spend this intervening year cultivating these friendships and making them real and solid.  It would only be the work of a few hours, and a couple of hundred miles, drive.  But when that drive becomes a 46 hour drive at a distance of 2850 miles, those friendships have to live on faith.  Faith that they will remember me when we meet again.  Faith that they will still like me and enjoy my company.  Faith that we still have the things in common that we did a year ago.

I know that sounds very pity-poor-me.  But look at it from your own point of view.  How do you know that I will remember you?  How do you know that someone you met a year ago that you liked will still like you if all you’ve done is read each others posts on Facebook.  In truth, the social networks are no different from writing letters thru the mail.  You are no surer to get a reply one way than another.  And when someone whom you will only see once or twice a year has thousands of Facebook friends, you are sure to get lost in the mix.

What I’m getting at is that those of you who live in those smaller land mass countries, like England or Israel, you should count your blessings that everywhere in your country is so close.  Be thankful that you live somewhere small and that if you have to move to the other side of your country you really won’t be loosing anyone at all.  A few hours so so much easier than a few days.  300 miles is nothing compared to 3000.

For all that the social networks bring the world closer, that sort of distance makes them all so far away.

“Sunshine on My Shoulders” goth version. (with apologies to John Denver)

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Sunshine on my shoulders makes me blister
Sunshine in my eyes can make me blind
Sunshine on the water looks so sparkly
Sunshine almost always makes me die

If I had a night that I could give you
I’d give to you a night just like tonight
If I had a song that I could howl for you
I’d wail a tune to make you feel the night

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me blister
Sunshine in my eyes can make me blind
Sunshine on the water looks so sparkly
Sunshine almost always makes me die

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you cringe
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for nighttime all the while

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me blister
Sunshine in my eyes can make me blind
Sunshine on the water looks so sparkly
Sunshine almost always makes me die
Sunshine almost all the time makes me die
Sunshine almost always (muffled scream)

Die Gedanken sind frei

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I just read someone describe a metaphysical paradox as imagining a unique object that is both black and white at the same time.  He said you couldn’t do it.

I beg to differ.  Since my (and everyone elses’) mind is an infinite, non-restrictive space, I am easily able to picture, in my mind, a box existing in two different realities.  One in which it is black, the other in which the box is white.  In my infinite mind the box fluctuates between the two realities, thus causing it to be both black and white (and not half black/half white).

It’s like having tea and no-tea (which is a very good source of Brownian motion) at the same time.

The human mind can think of anything.  If it couldn’t, we wouldn’t have a third of the technology we have today.  Or the fictions we read, for that matter.  It is the very fact that we CAN picture things that can’t possibly exist that lead us to create.  Even if what we create can exist, it is based on what can’t.  That’s the beauty.

Thoughts have no boundaries.  They are free to fly where ever they choose.  If that flight goes where things are that are impossible that is called science fiction or fantasy.  The idea that someone can say that a thing cannot be pictured is ludicrous.  Maybe it can’t be pictured by him, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be pictured by someone.

The depth and breath of human imagination is as vast as the universe itself.