Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 164

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 167

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 170

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 173

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 176

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 178

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 180

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 202

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 206

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 224

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 225

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 227

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 321

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 321

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 321

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.layout.php on line 321

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 54

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lil58eks/public_html/bleat/wp-content/themes/platformpro/core/library/class.options.metapanel.php on line 47
It’s a long story | The Bleat.

Because my dog craps I was prepared when my daughter threw up.

Makes me feel blessed and humbled and mortal and happy to have known what I’ve known.

Hmm. Doesn’t necessarily follow, does it. Back up a bit:

“I’m going to be sick,” she said. And we hadn’t had the pizza yet. Quick –

No, let’s rewind.

Sixteen years ago we got a dog. He was -

No, fast-forward from that, but careful when we get to the right spot . . . there.

Late summer. We’re having Subway sandwiches. When we’re done I remember the bags are good for poop-scooping, and I set one aside.

No, let’s go back to Wednesday. Two days before.

Where was my iPod?

Ah! Perfect. That’s the entry point. Let us begin.

Where was my iPod? Haven’t used it in a while. Need it for an upcoming trip. It comes in handy during the day, of course – driving around, you want a tune or a drama – but when I couldn’t find it in the usual places for a week, I dumped some stuff on my phone and used that in the car. But I wondered if I’d lost it. I’d hate to lose it. It’s one of those Classics with a huge hard drive, holds everything. Or would hold everything; I decided not to load the classical collection until I finished renaming all the tracks. All nine billion of them. The art was fine; I use a picture of the composer for the album art, and that works with the big guys, but when you get into your Elgars and Waltons it’s not so clear. So the composer name should go in the song title field. And, for GOD’S SAKE, figure out whether it’s Symphony #1 or Symphony No. 1, or Movement #3 or Movement III. This stuff gnaws at a man.

You say: who cares? Who could possibly care? Except I was on a cruise last November and got into a long deep discussion about the glories of Bruckner, and the next day I was on the beach in Cozumel and wanted to find the movement we were talking about, and the truncated titles in the playlist were no help whatsoever, and if you’ve ever tried to find the proper movement of a Bruckner symphony while sitting with not much clothes on in a plastic chair in Mexico, you know what I mean.

I do. NOT. Want to experience that again.

It’s funny, but I actually believe there will be a time when my music collection is perfectly organized and tagged and has all the right art. I really think that.

Anyway. The iPod could be in the noise-canceling headphones container; I slip it in the pocket when I take a trip. No. Could be in the Bag of Way Too Many Pockets, which I use on vacations; no. Could be in the new bag – well, the bag I got for Christmas and have regretted asking for, since it’s impractical and too thick and doesn’t have enough pockets. Is it in the Goldilocks Bag, which has the right number of pockets, except for the middle pocket which doesn’t exist at all? No. (The nonexistent pocket is actually an expansion joint built into the bag; deploy the zipper and the bag gets thicker. Never used it. The number of times I’ve unzipped it, thinking it’s a pocket: 1 out of 4.) Tried the drawers where things go. Nothing. Ah: the car.

Checked the glove compartment, and found the manual, of course, which reminded me that the radio didn’t work. When the battery was replaced the radio went dead, and needed a code. Of course I do not have the code in the manual. It would be upstairs in a folder marked AUTO. Make a note of that. I’d used an old code I found in a stack of important cards, and after two unsuccessful tries I realized it was the code for the previous vehicle. See, the first time you enter the code and you get an error, you think, well, I entered it wrong. The second time you know it’s wrong. YOU HAVE ONE MORE TRY before you’re locked out of your own radio. So I backed off on that one. Fast. Anyway, the glove compartment had lots of things I didn’t need, including a plastic bag I’d got from Subway and stored away to use for future dog-poop picking-up. While I was cleaning out the glove compartment, might as well attack the utility space over the dashboard. An old notepad. Expired coupons. A pack of gum with one stick. I filled the bag, set it on the seat – because by now I’m in my parking space at work. Forgot to note that I did this after I parked, because when I got to work I realized I usually shut off the engine at the same time the BBC went to a particular program, and I hadn’t heard it because the radio was dead, and that wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d had my iPod, although that really wouldn’t matter because the radio wouldn’t accept any input, including the AUX input from an iPod. But still.

Was the iPod in my work desk? No.

Later that day at home I found another bag I’d used to transport stuff to work, and there it was. The iPod! I plugged it in to charge; it immediately started to sync with the classical playlist. BUT THAT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS! I wanted to say, but really, it didn’t matter. Take the advice of Teri Garr in “After Hours.” Be loosey-goosey about things.

Later that night I got an email alert from Dominos, offering a free Artisanal Pizza. Well, okay. Genoa Salami and roasted peppers? Wife will love that. But it was carryout only. No problem. I ordered pizzas for Friday night a day in advance, and felt like a guy who was on top of things. Seventeen hours later we’re coming back from piano, listening to the radio – yes, code input three was successful – and I’m bashing the music of my daughter’s demographic. “It’s all people singing a melody sampled from something ten years ago and then some guy comes on and talks for a verse so they can say ‘Featuring DJ LC-Bufus’ or whatever.”

She actually agrees, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Good point. When I turn to the 80s channel, they’re playing “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, and she groans: this one. I groan.

“I didn’t like it either,” I say, “but they didn’t use synthesizers, and that was rare. Well not that rare, but they made a point of it, to show they were musicians. The guitarist hand-wrapped his own pickups and he’s also a respected astronimist. That’s as good as it gets for jobs: scientist and lead guitarist. But yeah, this song. I worked in a bar and it played all the time.”

“You worked in a bar?”

“I did. Here, you want something else?” I plugged the iPod into the AUX channel, called up the NEW playlist, and clicked a version of “Blue Monday.” One of those 80s remixes.

“When is something going to happen?” she asked. Good point.

I’d put 6:15 for the pick-up time. We were early. I drove south and east and north to chew up some time, got to Domino’s at 6:13. They didn’t have the pizza. In fact they’d never heard of my order. It was a mystery to them. Hmm. Chaos back in the kitchen; the manager was lashing everyone, moaning about the pies sitting under the warmer for 20 minutes, despairing over the tickets pouring out of the automated internet order-generation system. I had a horrible feeling that . . . no. Impossible. I’d put my address into the system, this was the closest store . . .

Ran to the car, got my iPhone, called up the confirmation email – the first time in my life I have ever cared about an automatically-generated Dominos confirmation email – and sure enough, I’d chosen a store three miles to the northeast of my house instead of three miles to the southwest. GAH. GAHHHHH. So. In the car and off we go. It’s now 6:22. I am starving. The pizza is getting cold. Getting? Is.

We get to the store at 6:40. There is no place to park because there’s an enormous old Lincoln in the parking lot blocking all the spots, three people standing outside arguing about something. Great. I pull to the side of the lot, we get out, run inside, get the pizzas. Back in the car; the Lincoln people are still engaged in disputation. I cannot possibly imagine what’s so important that you have to settle the matter in a Domino’s parking lot. On the way back I take the twisty streets leading to the twisty parkways. We have been driving around for 40 minutes.

“I don’t feel well,” she says in the back.

“You’re just hungry,” I say. “We’ll be home soon. Do you want some gum?”

“NO NO I DON’T WANT GUM. I’m going to be sick,” she said. “I need a bag.”

I look to the passenger seat, and there’s a Subway bag, stuffed with alllll the things I got out of the glove compartment and the storage space on the roof, and I pick it up by the end and dump everything out on the floor and pass it back . . .

. . . just in time.

She’s done ruping by the time I pull into the garage. I bring the pizzas up; Jasper Dog is thrilled with the aroma, and yips and dances and barks for a piece. We eat. It’s pretty good. Daughter’s STARVED. I’m thinking: no dog, no bag hoarding instincts, no barf-containment. No iPod location mystery, no sorting through the glove compartment, no instantly-available barf bag. The reason this day didn’t end with a stinky car can be directly traced to the moment I walked past a pet shop in Uptown in April 1996, looked in the window, and saw my dog.

Wife took him for a walk later. He was slow. Very slow. “He’s not going to be with us much longer,” she said. Resigned. Then hopeful: “But I’ve been saying that for three years.”

“You saw him when the food showed up. Annoying as a puppy. Where did he take you tonight?”

“Well, I let him go where he wanted, and we went up the hill to the water tower, and then back down, and when we got home he didn’t want to go up the steps so he went down the street, and I thought he would go up the back steps, but he looked at me, like ‘I’m not done,’ and we walked east and around the neighborhood again. But it was dark and he can’t see anything.”

“But he can smell.”

Nearly deaf and nearly blind, and the world is still a story, every scent a character, every strong odor a twist in the plot. The dog walks outside and the world is his iPod, and it’s always set on shuffle. So it is for us all, really. If you have a dog you know how they come to the door and stand there waiting for you to let them out. Standing at the glass door. The wall that keeps the odors out. They can see, but they can’t smell. Daily life for us is just like that. If you’re lucky someone opens the door and all the glories rush over you.

It’s days like these that you realize how much you miss. For once, you saw all the connections. You suspect there are just as many threads between the now and the then every other day. Probably more. Would you go mad if you considered them? Would you exult to discover how everything braids itself together, fear for the action ten years gone that will explode down the road, anticipate the bloom that grows from a casual act last month? Sure. All of that. All these things. You can’t act if you remember everything. You shouldn’t act if you remember nothing.

And so, to now: a tick past midnight. The dog on the carpet just sighed and snorted. In a few minutes I will carry him upstairs and put him on the soft bed. If he thinks of anything, it might be breakfast that comes when the light grows and the pack stirs. But he goes to sleep quickly at night. He used to spend his days by the window, watching the world, alert, intent. The world was a place of contention. It’s a congenial place these days, soft, indistinct, with quicksilver phantoms in squirrel form that scamper on the edge of his peripheral vision. Not that he’s lost his sense of adventure: the other day I was settling down for a nap, and I heard the squeak of the backyard gate. Daughter hadn’t shut it. Sigh. Went downstairs, went outside, and sure enough the door was open. Jasper was standing in the gap, looking out; I gave the whistle, the only sound to which he responds these days, and he turned around: yes?

I snapped that picture, thinking: that’s him; that’s always been him.

Later he came inside, taking his time up the steps. I can tell it hurts. For him it doesn’t matter that it hurts. What matters is getting up the stairs and getting inside where the good stuff is.

When you’re inside, the good stuff is outside. Vice Versa. That’s why we love dogs. They boil it down to lessons we can’t dismiss. They know us too well.

So, to sum up this Bleat: because my dog craps I was prepared when my daughter threw up.

What I’m supposed to do with this information, I’ve no idea.


45 Responses to It’s a long story

  1. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – about halfway through this… i was thinking ipod was still in bag as gnat bjorked away…

  2. ExGeeEye says:

    The ExGeeEye method of Classical Music Sorting:

    Beethoven’s second symphony, first movement?


    And the happy conclusion of the “Emperor” Concerto?


    Going Home?


    The music from “Somewhere in time” is partway through


    You’re welcome :)

  3. ExGeeEye says:



    Wouldn’t want anyone to be confused!

  4. Michael in KY says:

    I almost get a little apprehensive whenever I start reading about Jasper, nowadays, hoping that this isn’t going to be “that” bleat entry. How did that happen? I guess reading the same blog almost daily for ten years or more will do it.

    When that bleat entry is made, it will be a national day of mourning indeed.

  5. Rob says:

    You mentioned “scientist and lead guitarist” and “80s” without mentioning “Buckaroo Banzai”?

  6. Pops53 says:


    Thank you.

  7. GardenStater says:

    “What I’m supposed to do with this information, I’ve no idea.”

    Write a lovely Bleat, that’s what.

    Nice photo of Jasper.

  8. wiredog says:

    Astronimist? Hmm. Google seems to instantly recognize that as “astronomer”. Here’s the BBC story.

    In a few years, go to the shelter to get the next dog. Yes, there will be a next one.

  9. Rob Ritchie says:

    Like my namesake above, I also thought immediately of Buckaroo Banzai.

  10. Bob Lipton says:

    Lovely story.

    WWhat picture do you use for Anonymous?


  11. GardenStater says:

    @wiredog: You don’t even need to travel to the shelter. Just go to http://www.petfinder.org. I got my last four dogs that way: Two purebred Scotties, a purebred St. Bernard (got her at 5, she died at 14), and my latest, an Australian Cattle Dog mix named Fido.

    And I agree: There will be a next one.

  12. Chas C-Q says:

    I had dogs when I was a kid. None for long, because we moved a lot; none since I was about 15, and I’m in … late middle age.

    I’d completely forgotten what having a dog was like until we adopted Miley, a silky-wire mini dachshund, two years ago. She’s sweet and smart and fun and a fine individual. Since we’ve had her, I’ve discovered a deep appreciation for canines in general, such as I never really knew when I was young. Any person (or culture) who denigrates dogs is not worth knowing and should not be trusted for anything.

    But of course, some are more special than others. James, you and Jasper are both lucky dogs.

  13. browniejr says:

    So- was Natalie able to recover and enjoy some pizza? Good dog story, but priorities, folks!

  14. Chas C-Q says:

    I presume that all is well with Natalie, since OGH went on to write about Jasper, after midnight. Otherwise, we would probably be reading a brief “sorry, no Bleat” thumbed into a phone from the ER.

  15. rbj says:

    “The dog walks outside and the world is his iPod, and it’s always set on shuffle”

    Actually, it is set on snuffle.

  16. jon spencer says:

    This should work for the radio.

  17. Kerry Potenza says:

    I love today’s Bleat.

    As sad as it is to see your pet decline, it is better than having a favorite dog pass too soon. My Golden Retriever, Gilligan, was not yet eleven when he died quite unexpectedly from a bloated intestine (similar to the situation in Marley and Me – that movie made me weep). I’ll never get over his death.

    My cat, Zippy, is currently nineteen years old and still healthy. Every day, I wonder how long she’ll be with us and the impact her death will have on my little girl. When Zippy’s time comes, it will be easier to accept because she lived her full life span and then some. Somehow, dogs are harder to lose.

  18. Jennifer says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you.

  19. It was a long story.

    Is Young Ms. Lileks prone to car sickness? Glad to hear that all turned out well.

    I note that I wasn’t the first to make the Brian May/Buckaroo Banzai connection. Although, I thought the connection was reversed, after getting a copy of Brian May’s Starfleet Project (on vinyl no less) just a while before Buckaroo Banzai was released.

    Perhaps the radio in the Element is a product of Yoyodyne?

  20. hpoulter says:

    great bleat.

    The best cat I ever had (a friendly and intelligent giant of a cat) died suddenly when he was still quite young. I still ache a little for the time we didn’t have together.

    “astronimist”?? I hope that is a joke I don’t get.

    Speaking of smart rockers and Buckaroo Banzai, Peter Weller (pretend rocker) has earned or is finishing a PhD from UCLA in Art History, specializing in the Italian Renaissance. he is a sometime instructor there. He should do a course for the Teaching Company.

  21. Suellen says:

    hpoulter–every word of your paragraph about the best cat you ever had could apply to one I had and lost about four years ago. My sympathies.

    Pets just don’t live as long as we do, no way around it. Must be our job as humans to love them, lose them, get another, love that one, etc.

    Good Bleat and beautiful picture.

  22. JohnW says:

    Simply superb. I sit in awed silence.

  23. GardenStater says:

    @hpoulter: Weller has also taught at Syracuse University. But this passage from Wikipedia makes me want to smack some sense into him:

    “On the set of Firstborn, Corey Haim’s first day of shooting was with Weller, and he went up to compliment the older actor on his performance. Weller collared Haim, throwing him up against a wall to warn him not to speak to him after a take, and it took three assistants to separate them. Haim later admitted that he was terrified by the experience.”

    What a jerk.

  24. Robert says:

    I’ve long been fascinated with seemingly unrelated chains of events. I have grandchildren because Mrs Strauss’ husband got a big order for santones (little Christmas figures from southern France). I was on temp assignment in south France working for the project mgr. His bilingual secretary was a Mrs Strauss. Her husband made santones and he got a big order so she quit to help him. The lady hired to replace Mrs Strauss became my wife. I could work this back even further but that would get way too long. Mostly, our lives are pretty seamless.

  25. winterhawk says:

    Brian May is actually an astrophysicist. I believe he has a doctorate.

    Would you go mad if you considered them? Would you exult to discover how everything braids itself together, fear for the action ten years gone that will explode down the road, anticipate the bloom that grows from a casual act last month? Sure. All of that. All these things. You can’t act if you remember everything. You shouldn’t act if you remember nothing.

    That sounds positively Lovecraftian. Reminded me of this quote, always a favorite:

    “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” –Call of Cthulhu

    The part about Jasper Dog and the world being his iPod made me puddle up a bit. These days I fear every day when I open the Bleat that I’m going to see *that* post…you know, the last one about Jasper. I know he’s an elderly fellow and it happens to everybody eventually, but I’ve been reading the Bleat since the mid-90s and I feel like in some weird vicarious way, I *know* Jasper. I’m going to miss him very much when he finally moves on to the next great adventure. And that’s a beautiful picture, btw. He’s a lovely dog and doesn’t look elderly to me. He looks dignified.

  26. I have my current job because 12 years ago bad driving habits led to a guy getting rear ended and a temp was needed while the driver recovered.

  27. Peter Russell says:

    Lately. Lileks is making me cry. It’s embarrassing.

  28. Ben says:

    The chain of Cause-and-Effect goes back all the way to the beginning. You could easily say “If I didn’t ____ then ____ wouldn’t have happened, but if you keep tracing back the predecessors, you’ll eventually find yourself looking at a bowl of primordial soup 4 billion years ago. Once you realize that all things are connected, that point B never would have existed if it weren’t for point A, then you start to think too much about cause-and-effect. But, then, once you realize that all of these connected things are inevitable and unavoidable, that takes a lot of the pressure off.

    Any time I find myself pondering “what-ifs” and “could’ve-beens,” I have to remind myself that the way things happened was the only way things could have happened. People make the argument “if I knew then what I know now,” but that’s like saying “if the sky was red then…” — it’s completely irrelevant. If it was possible to go back in time and do it over again, you would have done it the exact same way every single time, because there is no alternate universe, there is no branch in the timeline, there is no possibility that your life would have turned out differently, because what happened is exactly what was going to happen.

    I don’t want to get into Chaos Theory or any of that stuff, because that just complicates things. My belief on life is that simple is best, and the most logical answer is usually the correct one, and so to me life makes the most sense when we let go of the concept of a changeable past and accept that life only has one path, one possible route, and that our purpose is just to enjoy the ride and see where it takes us. Not saying you should not put an effort into it though, because the effort is part of the ride.

  29. RPD says:

    Rather reminiscent of James Burke’s old BBC show, “Connections.” One thing leads to the next. My grandmother (who immigrated from Spain) was subbing making sandwiches at a glass factory, where she bumped into my grandfather (who had immigrated from France). Their home towns, 20 miles apart yet they meet in Amarillo Texas.

  30. A different Tom says:

    There is a doggy version of Celebrex (I forget the name), which is a very effective arthritis and pain medication. I’ve known several dogs who were rejuvenated by it, and one old owner who would only give his old dog half a pill at time, because a whole pill made him too peppy.

  31. Sam L. says:

    A long story, but an excellent one!

  32. swschrad says:

    @Ben: Chaos Theory is too involved for me. I subscribe to the (Stuff) Happens Theory, and try to muddle through.

    for instance, got a couple of old antique hand sheep shears in a couple of boxes of tools and stuff from a work buddy’s estate sale of an uncle. by themselves, they’re slightly interesting. if the world economy goes T-up as some are predicting, I will be the king of the neighborhood when it comes to making woolens.

    the wife would clip me for keeping such old krep, but baldness has advantages at times ;) so I get away with it.

  33. hpoulter says:

    @Gardenstater, if true, bad. But I take the story with a grain of salt. wikipedia’s source is a student newspaper blog. Even if true, Weller could just have been messing with his mind, since he was playing a psychotic and abusive character. Or, he could be a jerk. On the other hand, Haim starred in mega-turkey “Prayer of the Rollerboys”.

  34. Apropos of nothing, the new Bleat header is disturbing on a visceral level, not the least of which is the chap with glasses appears to blowing boozy breath on the guy with his back to us, who appears to have lost some fingers in a dreadful farm accicdent.

    Or it could be the first guy is laughing at the second guy, who’s an AC/DC fan.

  35. swschrad says:

    @John Robinson: I think Mr. Boozey and his date are horrifying the man with his back to us, tramautizing him. see the claw-hand coming up towards them? he’s actually falling backwards, coming under the evil spell and de-evolving.

    from the Wyeth painting, “Creation of Andy Rooney,” no doubt. did’ja ever wonder how he got that way? how many of you have asked why he always looked for army-surplus soap?

  36. Ben says:

    @swschrad: I don’t really have that good of a grasp on how Chaos Theory works myself, just that it involves variables too small to measure, and there is amplification of that imprecision when the function’s imprecise input values affect the successive outputs, which is what makes chaotic systems impossible to predict.

    My belief is that it would be possible to predict the future, if you had a computer that could track the position and spin of every molecule and every atom in the universe, as well as all the energy, but of course it would take a computer the size of the universe to track all those variables… Kind of like a map with a 1:1 scale. Which, is a thought that makes me laugh. “I made a life-size map of the world.” — “Oh really? Where is it?” — “You’re standing on it.”

    Anyway, getting back to my theory, I believe that given the inputs (the combination of our body’s physical condition, plus the sum total of experiences we have received since birth), the outputs will always be the same… That is, if you had some way of rewinding your life, you could rewind it an endless number of times and you would always make the exact same decisions (keeping in mind that when you rewind time, you aren’t bringing any new information back in time with you, and everything is exactly the same as it was last time you passed through that moment in time). This theory implies that free will is an illusion and that all our decisions are not really decisions but just the product of our brains processing the inputs and providing the inevitable output. But Chaos makes things fun because there are so many minuscule variables that we could never possibly know what’s coming next.

    Which is why the “(Stuff) Happens Theory” is just as good as any.

  37. Matt says:

    Good comment about the show Connections, I was thinking the same thing, because i loved that show. Great picture of Jasper.

  38. Sarah says:

    I’m totally slammed with work today but still made myself do my usual lunch round – my personal email, the Bleat, and a couple of other stops. When I got to the part about the truncated track names I agreed but thought what the $%&* is he telling us all this for? Then by the end I was (still am) wiping tears away at the beauty of this post. You had me at “it’s always set on shuffle”. I’ll never doubt you again…

  39. swschrad says:

    @Ben: if you can’t change the outcome, then it’s a deterministic theory. we both know there are many places where history could change for an individual.

    for instance, charging up a drug delivery system leaning against the back of a cop car is likely to remove options to become a CEO, head of an international bank. get the Republican nomination for the presidency, etc. taking a flyer on a skateboard from the top of a parking ramp is probably going to put a roadblock in your career dream of becoming an NFL scrambling quarterback.

    deterministic theory says damn the torpedoes, whatever you do, you are going to save the storied Dumbass Cowflops from defeat from your hospital bed with a Hail Mary pass in the last 2 seconds.

    saw a real great stake in the ground last week from a consulting RF engineer on a ham website. W8JI wrote to test a theory, take it to both extremes and see if it holds up.

  40. Chas C-Q says:


    James, as much as working at the Valli obviously meant to you — as much as you’ve had to say about it through the years — Natalie had never heard anything about it until now?

    I’m stunned!

  41. Terry Fitz says:

    We’re in the same “getting toward the end of his life” situation with our main cat – the cat who is at least two-thirds of our two cats. He’s 17 lbs. due to arthritis and lingering issues from a broken leg when he was a kitten. My daughters grew up with him. They were all kittens together. They adore him and he allows them to adore him. He’d be miffed if adoration were withheld. My wife and I are pretty fond of him as well. He gets a baby aspirin once in a while, when the limp is more pronounced. He still enjoys his life, though, or so it seems. I guess you can never really know.

  42. swschrad says:

    @Terry Fitz: neighborhood rumor had it our cat was run over by a garbage truck in the alley in his adolescence… but a mud puddle saved him. he walks with the back legs out, splayed. the tail is also a ‘monkey knot” for some reason best left undiscovered. but he has a super fondness for being belly-rubbed by small boys, so he was well fed someplace before becoming a creature of the streets.

    well-fed by all the neighbor ladies.

    the wife to be took him in the duplex because of a monster mouse invasion. proved his worth. guarded the castle well. had to water-spray him to and into a street drain when a rottweiler came strolling around and took after him one fall afternoon. took all day to coax him out. the rottie was plenty bloody and had an orange-fur mask, so we weared the worst. but our cat just had a bare patch, and a frightful scare.

    washed up good. has taken to insulin well, we found out after our marraige he’s diabetic. in this his 8th year, he’s a fine cuddlin’ cat that occasionally bites to the bone if his people don’t stay trained, and loves his backyard of 6 years. hell on any rabbit that gets in the yard. anybody gets sick, he unerringly goes to the sore spot, lies on it, and purrs.

    if a pet is happy, perhaps disregarding snakes and fish and such, believe me, you know.

  43. TB says:

    With dogs it isn’t about seeing and hearing as much as it is about smells.

    Maybe that’s why they stick their heads out car windows. Buzzing down the highway, wind blowing in their face at fifty miles per hour, smells being jammed into their nostrils like nothing they ever experience otherwise.

    It’s the dog equivalent of a heavy-metal psychedelic light show.

  44. id says:

    Thank you for another beautiful and resonating post.

  45. Joe says:

    Live forever, Jasper. Good dog.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!