Tuesday, March 31, 2009


When I was 9 (and living on Long Island), my brother and I would often spend our evenings, looking up at the clear starry night. We were both interested in astronomy, and would entertain ourselves talking about the stars, enjoying the night.

One evening, as we stared at the sky, several bursts of colored spots appeared overhead. Each looked like a red, purple and blue bulls eye, ever widening and changing as it expanded.

There were at least 2 distinct regions, each one bigger than the moon.

My brother yelled in a mixture of fear and excitement, Spots!!

We ran inside and got my mother to come to the front door. I was scared and excited. What was this. Was it real? Could it hurt us? As we again looked to the sky, and there were new spots forming. She said "oh my, maybe a planet exploded".

The next day the newspaper was filled with reports of strange phenomena in the sky from the night before. Many were completely off the wall, including ray guns spraying backyards with laser beams.

The military said it was conducting a satellite test in orbit. But nobody believed that.

Monday, March 30, 2009


When I was a little boy, there was this spooky, scary looking house just down the street.It was on stilts with one of those big walk around porches.

The house sat where the road curved and turned towards town. It was on the edge of my neighborhood, where the rest of the world began.

It was also, between me and the local candy store. That wonderful place where nothing could go wrong except perhaps arriving without any money.

I had to pass that house each way on my bicycle. And there was something weird about this place, something that scared me. There was a strange looking thing under the porch. A stocky, other worldly face, with deep crevices. It looked like it was carved into a tree trunk size block, and was kind of tilted, which made it look old and menacing.

I wasn't actually sure what it was. It was kind of dark and always in the shadows, but it looked like an idol or totem or something. All I knew is that it also looked eerily alive, and I didn't want to get too close to it.

I always rode by that house as fast as I could (both ways), trying not to look at it. Trying not to get its attention.

But sometimes, my curiosity would get the better of me and I would look. And I always saw the same thing, a bad, evil thing under the house, waiting for me to get too close and fall into it's trap.

Sometimes, the owner was around. A white haired man with a nice face. I often wondered if he knew what was lurking under his porch.

That place haunted me, from the first time I rode by when I was 6, until I moved away at 9.

About a month before I moved, I decided that I had to face this fear. I had to see exactly what this thing was. I had to prove to myself that it couldn't hurt me.

So one day, I did something I never did. I stopped in front of the house. I got off my bike and slowly walked towards it. I was scared. It was getting bigger and more menacing, but I forced myself to move forward.

As I got close to the porch, it started to change. It began to lose its evil face. Its horns receded. It's fangs seemed to melt away. And I was finally able to face my enemy, my tormenter for all these years.

I could just make out the front... "Scotts Turf Builder"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

If You Read This Kill Yourself

I worked for a company years back, that prided itself in its portfolio of intellectual property. Patents that it used to terrorize a whole industry. They were very successful for a long time. thank goodness they are now gone and forgotten.

One day I was in the CEO's office and i happened to look down at some documents on a side table. My eyesight was still pretty good in those days, so I could read it without picking it up. Good thing, the very top of the document had a paragraph of text that went something like this... If you are reading this and are not authorized stop. If you ignore this warning and continue to read this document you may be subject to fines / imprisonment or both.

I stopped reading right there. didn't even try to read the rest. I can only imagine the next sentence which could have read "OK now you've done it. hands up! you are under arrest for violating the don't read this sentence statute of 1995. please make your way to the nearest police station and turn yourself in"

The only thing that came to mind was a cartoon i had seen many years earlier where 2 ants pass by a sign. One of them says wait here I will up go see what it says. The cartoon followed with several panels showing the ant crossing the printed text which eventually read "keep off this sign". When he returned to his friend he said "your not going to believe this..."

Here is another example from xlcdForm