Tag Archives: quotes

Stand By Me

With the prospect of meeting Wil Wheaton in just a few days at ApacheCon, I decided I should see Stand By Me. It was really, really good. I read the book a long, long time ago, and it has in it one of my favorite Steven King quotes.

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When a secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.

Like so many books that I greatly enjoyed, I avoided the movie because I was pretty sure that it would not be able to be as good as the book was. But it did a really good job of dealing with the best parts of the book. And I found myself very impressed with how well those boys acted their characters. There were a few times when you could tell that they were just boys trying to act. But most of the time, they really were the scared kids in the woods.

I also realized that this is only the third thing I’ve seen with River Phoenix in it. Sneakers and Last Crusade being the other two. And tomorrow is the 11th anniversary of his tragic passing. He was a very talented young man, and it is criminal that nobody stopped him before things went too far.

Wee Free Men

… What they did was sell invisible things. And after they’d sold what they had, they still had it. They sold what everyone needed but often didn’t want. They sold the key to the universe to people who didn’t even know it was locked.

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett (Describing teachers)

Home again, Home again

I’m a little grumbly here, because I was almost done writing this posting when Firefox crashed. Bah.

Anyways, as I was saying …

I am pleased to announce, after extensive testing, the results of my survey. Nobody in the world makes coffee as good as I can make it right here at home. Except, just maybe, my dad. I’m not sure what’s so hard about grinding up a few beans and pouring water over them, but every time I travel, I’m better off just foregoing the coffee, since everything I get served is swill fit only for watering the daisys. Poor daisys.

It is really good to be home.

I still enjoy travelling. (Ok, I have come to hate the actual travelling part. Thanks, TSA.) I like being other places and seeing new things. But, increasingly, I just want to get back home, after a few days away. I suppose I’m just getting old and settled, and, I think, that’s probably OK with me. (Inner voice: OLD MAN! OLD MAN!)

So, it was a week of Apache training. I learned quite a few things, and have a lot of changes that I need to make to my class notes and to my book. I wonder if I will be able to keep up the drive to do so this time. Generally, the urge dies out after a few days. I’ll try harder.

The network at the training site was somewhat restrictive, so I was off IRC for almost the whole week. On Friday, Eddie reminded me how to tunnel IRC (or anything, I suppose) over an ssh connection to anywhere. You open an ssh connection to wherever you can ssh to, and then you can tunnel any other protocol over the top of that, so that you can use your preferred IRC client (xchat, or whatever) to connect over that tunnel to anywhere else. I suppose it’s just as well that I didn’t remember earlier in the week.

ssh -C rbowen@wooga.frumble.com -L 8081:irc.freenode.org:6667

Then point your IRC client at localhost, port 8081.

Most evenings while on my trip, I went out somewhere, saw a thing or two, but was back in my room by 7 or 8. I read a lot of stuff during those 2 or 3 hours before going to bed. Here’s some of it.

In the Presence of Fear by Wendell Berry. Avoid this book if you are content to be fat, happy, and complacent in your current view of your consumer life. This is a collection of essays about how the world has changed in the last several presidential administrations, and, particularly, how it has changed since the incident in 2001 when we realized that we didn’t live in an isolated bubble. Very good stuff. Whatever your political leanings tend to be, Berry gives a lot of plain common sense to some issues that we tend to over-politicize.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. A murder mystery of sorts. Written from the perspective of a young autistic man who finds a dead dog in his neighbor’s (I suppose I should say neighbour’s. He’s british.) yard, and who sets out to find out how it died. Funny, sad, and eye-opening. Highly recommended. It was recommended to me by someone in blog-space. I don’t rember who. Get this book.

The Gift Moves by Steve Lyon. Steve is the organist/pianist at my church. He’s also the husband of the well-known children’s author George Ella Lyon. The book was shelved (mistakenly, I think) in the children’s section of the book store. Yes, it’s a book about some kids. Sort of. It’s also a book about a culture (seems post-apocalyptic, but hard to say) where the economy is based on gifts, rather than on money or barter. It’s about how we relate to one another. Or, I suppose, you could read it as a shiny happy kid’s story. Presumably that’s where the store thought it would sell better. After all, who wants to think? Recommended. Frankly, I didn’t expect to enjoy it, largely because of where it was shelved. But I like to read books by people I know, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. I keep thinking that the Discworld books will get tired and boring. And perhaps that’s happening just a little bit. But this book was funny I suppose it gets a “2” on the measure on the “laughed out loud in public” scale. The story was good, the characters were interesting, and the conclusion was unexpected. I recommend this if you’ve read any of the other Discworld books. If you haven’t, I recommend that you read The Colour of Magic first. Try to get a British edition of you can find it. Apparently they tried to Americanize it for the US printing, whatever that means. Silly publishers. And if you’re in this area, I’m sure that Ken would be willing to loan you a copy. I don’t seem to have a copy any more.

And I suppose I should mention that I picked up a new printing of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. This is a Barnes&Noble printing. A little pocket-sized edition of ACC as well as The Chimes and Cricket on the Hearth. Nice binding and size, so I could hardly pass it up, now, could I?

Oh, and one more thing. While in Palm Beach I ate at a place called City Cellar. Twice, in fact. I had two of the best meals I’ve had so far this year. The first night, I had crab-encrusted chilean sea bass. It was positively heavenly. The next night I had mahi in a tamarind sauce, which was almost as good. It was … *ahem* … somewhat pricey. The bass, at least, was worth every penny. The mahi was more expensive and less wonderful, but only marginally so.

Ok, there. Finished with no crashes, and crammed more topics into a single post than is my usual habit. Deal with it. I write for me and not for you anyway. 🙂

National Security Strategy

I just got done reading “A Citizen’s Response to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” an essay by Wendell Berry. It is in a little booklet called Citizen’s Dissent which you can obtain for a mere $8 from Amazon.com or elsewhere.

I’m 3 years late in reading it, but I *highly* encourage you to get a copy and read it. It questions the sanity of our response, then and now, to the events of September 11, 2001. It questions our continued insistence that war is the way to peace, and that an isolationist willing to “act alone” is inconsistent with our desire to create a “global economy.”

Berry is a genius who put ideas in terms that simple people can understand. When it comes to politics (and most other things, I suppose) I am very simple in my thinking. Berry is very practical. If I were to quote to you the parts that I thought were important, I’d quote the entire thing. But I’ll be content with this:

It is useless to try to adjudicate a long-standing animosity by asking who started it, or who is the most wrong. The only siffucient answer is to give up the animosity and try forgiveness, to try to love our enemies and try to talk to them and (if we pray) to pray for them. If we can’t do any of that, then we must begin again by trying to imagine our enemies’ children who, like our children, are in mortal danger because of enmity that they did not cause.

May God have mercy on our great nation, and grant that we may, by putting aside our insanity, and remembering what greatness means, be great once more.

The unexamined life …

I know a lot of fancy dancers,
people who can glide you on a floor,
They move so smooth but have no answers.
When you ask “Why’d you come here for?”
“I don’t know, why?”

Cat Stevens – Hard Headed Woman

Ooh, baby, it’s a wild world

You just can’t make stuff up fast enough to stay ahead of reality.

CNN.com – U.S. diverts plane because Cat Stevens on board – Sep 22, 2004

Yes, that’s Cat Stevens, singer of “Morning has Broken,” “Moonshadow,” “Another Saturday Night” and “Peace Train,” not to mention “Wild World”

If you wanna leave take good care
hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
but remember there’s a lot of bad,
and beware, beware,
oh baby baby it’s a wild world,
it’s hard to get by just upon a smile.

Turns out that he was actually intentionally put on the list – it’s not only because he took the name Yusuf Islam. Apparently he’s guilty by association, and supports Muslim charities. Which apparently makes him a dangerous terrorist.

Oh Very Young, what will you leave us this time
You’re only dancin’ on this earth for a short while
And though your dreams may toss and turn you now
They will vanish away like your dad’s best jeans
Denim blue, faded up to the sky
And though you want them to last forever
You know they never will
(You know they never will)
And the patches make the goodbye harder still.

Exotic and strange

As I’m reading “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight”, I find myself thinking, hey, maybe I could write something about my Time In Africa, since these books seem to do fairly well. And, since I’ve been struggling to write a novel for an inordinately long time here, with no apparent progress, maybe that would get things moving in my brane.

But, then, this is followed by the obvious observation that my life was hardly as exotic and strange as the ones depicted in the latest bunch of “growing up in Africa” books that I’ve read. (Although *someone* should write about the body that those guys found in the woods.)

And, of course, this observation is immediately followed by …

If their lives were exotic and strange
they would likely have gladly exchanged them
for something a little more plain
maybe something a little more sane.
We each pay a fabulous price for our visions of paradise.
(Rush – Mission – The Spirit of Radio – 1980)

There’s also the problem that my memory isn’t the keenest. I tend to have a foggy impression of some of the events of my time in Kenya, with Turi probably being the sharpest memory, or perhaps Nairobi. I suppose I should write some of this stuff before it blows away completely.


I’ve been listening to Early Days & Latter Days, which I picked up at Fry’s in Palo Alto. I guess I had forgotten quite how much Zep I listened to in high school and college. Lots and lots of memories in this music.

If it keeps on raining,
Levee’s going to break.
If it keeps on raining,
Levee’s going to break.
When the levee breaks,
I’ll have no place to stay.

I remember that being how we’d talk about the stress and workload, among other things. “If it keeps on raining …”, we’d say. And then, later, “All last night, sat on the leveee and moaned.”

Of course, Kashmir and Stairway have their own set of memories.

On a related note, I found that when I tried to play these CDs in the CD player software under Linux (whatever one that happened to be) it was unable to play it. Perhaps some kind of “copy protection”? Dunno. Worked fine one I ripped it to Ogg. I guess I’ll never actually listen to it from the physical media.

Freeman Dyson quotes

Audience member: What are you current thoughts on the end of the universe?
Freeman Dyson: Well, it’s not looking good.

The question is, do you really want to live a risk-free life. If you do, you might as well take the pill now and get it over with,

Every generation needs to lose a lot of things in order to think new thoughts.