Popular Post (Stats)

To end the month, letʼs take a moment to explore some amusing facts about the blog. Amusing, to me, at least.

As we probably went over 5000 separate visitor locations — as the ClusterMaps widget counts them — yesterday, certainly not a memorable nor significant accomplishment, however much I have been eagerly anticipating the moment, I thought I’d spend a few words on statistics. WordPress features a lot of statistical information for us bloggers/administrators, including their own count of hits on the blog (more than ten times greater than the ClusterMaps count of visitations, by the way, but I know I’ve been fudging and artificially increasing the WordPress count myself), websites referring users to my page, search terms used that led to my page, and a daily count of pages receiving hits. Depending on my state of mind, it can all be very fascinating and time-wasting.

However, in the past three months I have noticed a dramatic increase in hits on a certain page, not one I could have imagined becoming popular. For most of this year, one of my earliest posts held the greatest interest (among my modest little collection of drivelings) for websearchers, also unexpectedly for me as well: “January is for Janus” (I made it a link there, so go ahead and click it to see which post I am referring to). Pretty modest indeed, actually pretty lame (but this is Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog, and we have no reputation to live up to (“up to which we must live” perhaps to avoid that duo of prepositional adverbs at the end?).

Can you guess what made that January 6, 2010, epistle-to-the-world so popular? Thatʼs where the WordPress search terms stats come in; internet users have a regular, repeating interest in Gödel, Escher, Bach (in many weird and alternatively spelled variants), and my poor post received its modest but continuing share of hits from their webquests (whether for information or images I cannot tell). For awhile in March and April, even “Janus” got a share of visitors to that post, but Professor Hofstadterʼs book remains the more popular reference.* —What an epiphany!

However, that page has been left in the dust since mid-August by another post, coincidentally the next day after Epiphany. As it is the single longest essay I have posted (at 14,500 words altogether) and a tediously academic creation to boot, I was at first astonished that “Artificial Realities” has now been visited more than a thousand times. I like the essay, particularly that opening narrative that serves as the introduction (and the story is true, too), but I cannot believe anyone would want to read it (other than your ʼumble author)!

And then I realized what the time period from that middle of August on indicates — the start of school. Whether for the various images that I scoured off the internet myself or for a source to cite (or simply steal), art students were searching the Net in order to complete research assignments. Evidently Impressionism is a popular art history topic these days (even as practicing artists feel they must sneer and diminish the Impressionistic achievement, now — perhaps always — such a bourgeois favorite). And the pace of hits on my regurgitation of my own research keeps climbing! I begin to wonder how many art professors are going to get/have to read my excessively prolonged consideration of nineteenth century art, artists and artistic movements later this year…

It almost tempts me to list a bunch of artists by name to acquire the worthless hits today — Renoir, Manet, Monet, Pissarro…

But instead, I have just received a phone call (it is 11:15 yesterday/Wednesday morning as I type) asking me to substitute (for as long as I can, since my medical appointment is at 3:00) at Andrew. Money calls, and I must go, so after two humongous posts, this one is nicely brief. However, as I have tingled your interest in the statistics available about the blog, I will include some of Wednesay morningʼs information that prompted this discussion, and so set this topic down.

* Perhaps now this page, today, will get its own unworthy collection of visits by re-mentioning the book and author.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

SearchTerm Stats ‹ Wakdjunkaga’s Blog 09/28/2010

    • Stats: Wakdjunkaga’s Blog

Search Terms for all days ending 2010-09-28 (Summarized)

Summarize: 7 Days 30 Days Quarter Year All Time

All Time

Search Views
godel escher bach 212
manet paintings 121
monet impression sunrise 75
wakdjunkaga 69
hugh laurie 59
young hugh laurie 42
frustration 41
hugh laurie young 33
medieval tavern 29
dark hole 27
les parapluies 24
gödel escher bach 24
maquoketa caves 22
the thames below westminster 21
winston cigarettes 20
monet impression 18
veronique viardin 18
le grande jatte 18
impression sunrise monet 17
godel 17
tarzan of the apes 16
manet painting 12
aleph 12
courbet burial at ornans 11
lipoma 11
creosote fumes 10
gödel, escher, bach 9
stealie 8
van gogh’s self portrait 7
wreck of the medusa 7
autumn leaf 7
claudet monet boats and peer 7
spartan village msu 7
renoir les parapluies 7
pissarro 7
gericault 6
the wreck of the medusa 6
monet, impression sunrise 6
gödel 6
impression monet 6
death of sardanapalus analysis 6
wittgenstein 6
jean pierre hallet 5
photojournalist 5
internet mapping 2010 5
frustation 5
“i have had many men” famous quote 5
john randolph burrow 5
monet’s impression sunrise 5
caribbean”sint maarten”panorama 5

Page Hit Stats ‹ Wakdjunkaga’s Blog — WordPress

Top Posts for all days ending 2010-09-29 (Summarized)

Summarize: 7 Days 30 Days Quarter Year All Time

All Time

Title Views
Home page 23,100
Artificial Realities 1,028
“Mantorville” 569
“Mistakes by Moonlight” 489
The Book of Seasons 407
January is for Janus: Looking Both Forwa 383
Independence Day 311
How Wrongheaded Can We Get? 282
Annoyances Update 275
Morte Saison 274
Grumping for Thursday 263
Lipoma 260
Tarzan the Rebel 260
True Americans 255
Death or Damage by Creosote 252
More Outdoors 251
Not an FHF®, Really… Itʼs Not… 250
A FoxHunt Friday® — Mosque Madness 243
Whatʼs Race Got to Do with It? 238
Rebellious Tarzan, 2 233
Digital Time 229
My Longest Poem 227
Heat and Bugs 227
Dreaded Jobs 219
Weekend Cleanup 218
Watercolors of Your Mind 218
The Ugly Toe 216
One Dark Night in Sepharad 216
Dear Diary… 216
Lay Down Your Burdens Now 216
Longest a third time 216
Excellent Weekend 215
Television Novelites and Quandries 214
Let Summer Begin… 212
A Weekʼs Worth of What? 209
Sweet and Milky Coffee Goodness 208
Show Me the Money! 208
Little Quiches 208
Dreams of a Storytelling World 207
Falling 206
Freeze Warning 206
Rambling from My Mind 206
Taming the Natural World 205
Here, Kitty Kitty… 205
“Iʼm a substitute for another guy” (or g 204
Nonpresidential Shrub Update 204
Books 202
Stars in Heaven 201
Work, Work, Work… 199
The Book Junkie 199
Whatever Works 198
A Day for Leopold 195
Religious Reconnoitering 195
A Lump 194
Freedom of the Open Road 193
TreeStory, part 2 192
End of that Job 192
Nothing Much 192
Chill Wind 190
A Weekend at Snake Hollow 190
Worthwhile Writing 188
“Two Steps Back” 185
The Nine of Stars 185
Driveway Done! 185
Pleiades 184
Kill the Wabbits! 184
Recollections of Travel: Vehicles 183
Thursday, Bloody Thursday (on Saturday) 182
Frustrations! 181
Stormy Weather 181
More Villon 180
Tile-Removal Tuesday 180
Ending the Longest 180
Another Story 179
Decisions and Choices 179
A Whole Lot of Nothing Much 178
Eighth Stars 178
Some More from Sepharad 177
Now Add an Eerie Touch of the Supernatur 174
Donʼt Fear the Borer? 174
Seasons of Poseidon, or the end of a bad 174
A Snowy Eveningʼs Summer Cousin 173
Finis 171
Happy Birthday, Will! 171
Consequences of Discrimination 169
WordWine 168
Lovers and Friends 167
A Grammatical Conundrum (That Shouldnʼt 166
Being Lazy, 165
Magickal Monkey Madness 163
The Other Published Poem 163
more on Judah of Sephard 162
Publication news (after a fashion) 161
Reflections… 161
Anniversary Fun 160
Out Here in “Cyberspace” 160
What About Those Other Blogs? 159
Saturday — Good and Termagant Together 158
Advice 157
Rain 157
Tax Dollars at Work 156
Super Zuppa for Supper 154
Good Eats (apologies, Alton) 153
The Corporate Monicker 153
Just Some Stuff… 153
Randomness from Midday 152
More from the Seventies (and further Ret 151
Change and Relax 150
Nobodyʼs Sap 148
Overwritten? 147
Longer Items 147
Five “Stars” 146
Tavern Plots and Plans 146
Taxation 145
Stars Three 145
Wakdjunkaga in Cedar Rapids, section the 145
Not Getting Creative 145
Weather Report 145
More Reading 144
Of Wind, Trees, Mirrors and Stars 144
Nothing Much to Report 143
More Food 142
Electricity, part 1 141
More Villon 139
Pain = No Gain? 139
Continuing… 139
Fourth Stars 135
Fools Waltz In 135
An Act of Desperation 134
Couldnʼt Care Less 133
Quetzal County Capers continue 132
Completely at Random 132
Something for Monday 131
A Sixth of “Stars” 128
Spring Signs 126
Tough Guy/Good Guy 126
Working? 125
TMI 2 124
Longest Continued 120
Villon I 120
Wakdjunkaga? 120
Electricity Amplitude 118
Working for a Living 115
Back to the Seventies (or Return to Neve 115
Weekend Update 114
The Stuff that Dreams Are Made of… 112
How Many Villanelles (am I going to find 111
800 Words for Wednesday 111
News from the Work Front 110
The Cold Wins? 109
Career Fail Update 109
Mantorville, part 11 108
Movie Review! 108
Unfinished Business 108
Definately (sic) alot (sic) 107
More Kitty 107
Homework without pay 103
Electricity, Too 103
Pushing at the Limits 102
The Rest of the Incompleteness 101
A Frosty Look 99
Pockets (maybe, sort of) 98
Thursday? Really? 98
The Eyes Have It 97
Labor Daydreams 96
A Hundred Bucks 92
Sunday (Quick Note Again) 90
Why Wakdjunkaga 90
Neighborhood Envy 90
Honoring Paul 87
A Week in Review 86
Pockets, part five 84
The Maltese Falcon critical essay 84
About 84
Recent Reading 82
Uncertainties 80
Three Apologies (not amigos) & Garbl 80
Feeling Afraid 79
Mantorville part 12 78
The Rest of the Road 77
Wakdjunkaga in Cedar Rapids, continued 76
Pockets, part one 75
Mantorville, part ten 74
Digital Hell, one 74
Pockets, part four 74
Spring Blech 71
a villanelle 71
Brave New World(s) 69
Wakdjunkaga in Cedar Rapids, concluded 69
the other villanelle 68
Whence Wakdjunkaga 68
TMI 65
Several Short and Sweet 64
April Fools Melange 62
Check Your Understanding… 60
for Shark: less is more 60
On to the Tavern! 59
for the survivors of English II (since a 56
Briefly 55


Unflattering but fair (most of the other photos feature The Lovely One) — this is me and a towel monkey. Please contemplate the cheesy art (apologies, artist) and the chocolate coins that comprise the monkeyʼs eyes.

Janet in the narrow lounge area before the door to the balcony (behind curtains).

Having promised you information and description on our cabin (and having written 1500 words yesterday, a bit on the high side for my modest ambitions), my best plan for todayʼs post seemed to be to follow that promise.

When we were on the Westerdam in the Caribbean years ago, enjoying our first experience with a balcony “stateroom,” the space felt huge (especially in contrast to our decade-old recollections of the Carnival interior bunk-bedded closet in which Harry Potter might well feel uncomfortably at home under the stairs). As we entered our assigned Oosterdam room, after only a brief holding session on the Lido deck, pleased to discover our big bags in the hall by the door, the chamber felt… cramped. I think the picture below gives the appropriate effect.

Alternatively, Holland America has a 360° tour of such rooms here (you will have to click on the “Accommodations” tab) which gives a somewhat different sensation (hint: ours was a “Deluxe Verandah,” I guess). Having tried the “tour” before we concluded our booking process, I found the room nothing like what I had expected once we were onboard and in the room on Sunday, September 12.

Go ahead, take a look; itʼs free. Just choose the correct ship and kind of room from the menus.

Looking into the room from our door — the corridor effect is created by the bathroom to the right. Check out the narrow passage between bedfoot and wall (in which I am standing with monkey towel above)!

The view Janet has in the photo above — from the glass door to the balcony. (The towel animal on the bed is a doggie!)

The seating area between the bed and the balcony door. Effectively, my view from the towel monkey.

Nope, not telling. The toilet.

Compare (or contrast) that “tour” with the photos I took of our actual room. The perspective and viewing point for the surround-experience tour appears to be by the corner of the bed, an interesting choice since that hides the fact that the foot of the bed (two singles put together making a very large queen, which we appreciated) is only about two feet or a little more from the wall. And the couch area (with desk and TV across from it), which looks so large in the video, is only about six feet long from the bed to the door/windows. Furthermore, as you can see in my pictures, our desk and TV set up were reversed from the tour (and our artwork was pretty cheesy — our reaction to the statuary and other decorations around the whole ship, actually*).

However, I dontʼ mean to complain (Iʼm not really). We liked our cabin (it still feels wrong to call it a “stateroom”). After all, the main point to the place is for sleep, bathing and dressing. So letʼs move on to bathing.

I found cruise-ship bathrooms interesting from the first time on. Theyʼre so tiny! (We actually encountered an equally tiny — and plastic — one at our hotel off Piccadilly Circus in London, 2002; that room was where I first invented the Tourist, lying in bed, not asleep in the dense and unanticipated heat at about two in the morning. I have news on his fictional adventures in days to come.) This bathroom was small and entirely plastic and vinyl, too, with the usual (but odd) vacuum toilet (with which I had an unpleasant and revolting encounter on our second day that I wonʼt include in detail here — sufficient to remark that no steward was needed to clear the problem…) and a very narrow shower stall/bathtub. I am not sure about Janetʼs opinion, as she made greater, feminine use of the chamber, but I felt the bathing space worked out just fine.

Bathroom view #2 — the sink area (well stocked with what TSA wonʼt let you carry on these days).

…and third, the shower/bathtub.

The best element in the bathroom, at least the most comical, was the Delft tile sea-thing over the toilet. If thatʼs a mermaid, and if mermaids resulted from lonely sailorsʼ fantasies, then (if you look closely) legends and jokes of all-male navies retain an eerie and disturbing existence… (I can explain my abhorrence/amusement personally if you need the problem with the image elucidated.)

When I said the art was “cheesy,” I was understating: the worldʼs most repulsive mermaid, or something.

Our steward fashioned this towel into an elephant, obviously. We discovered towel creations on four evenings after dinner.

The first manifestation of towel art. We think itʼs a sea creature of some kind.

Our cabin was immaculate and clean. Our steward did an excellent and continuous job, even replacing towels at night that I had used to clean up before dinner (while guests are at dinner, the stewards do a turn-down on the bed, leaving cute towel animals, of which I have a couple of pictures here, and two foil-wrapped chocolate coins, usually presented as the animalʼs eyes, which we, okay I, enjoyed every night), although we had instructions in our room to reuse towels if possible (as so many hotels do these days, selling cheaper-for-them as “green”). Iʼll spare you the bed-linen photos from a hotel room in Seattle that revealed the romps of previous guests. Our shipboard stateroom never hinted at othersʼ earlier presence whatsoever.

Even though the idea is to enjoy the shipʼs public areas while trapped onboard for days at sea, we did want to get the pleasure of having spent the extra money for a balcony, so we spent a couple of hours in the room most days in addition to our daily preparation and sleep time. Although the days were cool (for even southeastern Alaska actually fairly warm and brilliantly sunny, and that was for the locals and the crew unusual and evidently — although my weather.com ten-day forecasts had predicted exactly what we got, even to the final days of rain — unexpected), we sat outside often, both on the balcony and elsewhere on the ship.

As Janetʼs spin sessions were slated for eight in the morning, we had set one of my watch alarms for seven. Although I slept well on the trip (certainly better than since my lipoma “dentistry” — of which I learn the results and lose the stitches today), I, at least, always awoke shortly before the alarm went off, and one of my favorite memories is stepping out onto the balcony, once I had fished my glasses onto my face, into the cool dawn air to see what vistas the new day had brought (and since our first two ports of call were designed to begin at break of day, that meant truly new vistas).

Here are some shots of the balcony. You can observe the “walls” on hinges that separate the one long gangway into private balconies for each room.

The smaller of two chairs beside the folding screen between us and the next stateroom.

The Lovely One reclining in the other chair on the other side of the balcony, beside the other unbarrier.

Like yesterdayʼs post, thatʼs probably far too much on our sleeping quarters. With luck Iʼll take a break from the vacation stories tomorrow.

* I neglected to mention yesterday that the Oosterdam appeared noticeably much more used than the Westerdam had. The theater featured chipped tables and edges of steps and the balcony parapet and definitely worn seats, for example. The ship gets a drydocking for a complete renovation — in a year and a half or more; it needs the work now. On the other hand (I always have to present one, donʼt I?), it was a nice vessel on which the industrious crew was working hard and diligently to maintain and improve it every day, and we enjoyed our time aboard.

Does the emphasis on me and a monkey (even one constructed of towels) need exegesis?

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Sailing, Sailing

Having completed my writing assignment (more on that soon), I find I still have time to compose the post that I promised you all yesterday. Letʼs talk about the layout of the MS Oosterdam. (And by the way, for the nonDutch-speaking readers, those double vowels indicate what we anglophones call a long sound — long “o” rather than “oo” as in “who.”)

MS Oosterdam deck plan, side view

I had intended to scan my handy-dandy little pocket guide to the ship that we received along with our room keys upon check-in (and which I carefully preserved for just this purpose throughout the trip and our days in Seattle and the return flight, too — but which I cannot find as I try to type up something for this post right now on Monday afternoon). So the picture I found by googling and this link (or this better one, although our deck has evidently been reorganized and renumbered, or Holland Americaʼs own correct plans here) will have to do for visual information. Unfortunately, the images of each deck emphasize cabin locations over the public places (the exact opposite of the dandy little handout I have — I hope temporarily — misplaced). At least you can see the many decks labeled if not numbered in the black-and-white cutaway view.

I have clumsily encircled the window/balcony of what I believe is our room, aft on Deck 7

Our “stateroom” this trip was on the seventh or Rotterdam deck, almost completely to the rear end of the ship (next-to-last cabin, port side aft), as circled in the picture, I hope. One must keep oneʼs cabin number a shrouded secret in order to avoid some unscrupulous person using the number and your name together to order drinks and such illegitimately at your expense. Yet, as you can see from the picture of the corridor outside our room, you had to remember vividly both the number and location because they all look pretty much the same. The Lovely One had issues sometimes realizing whether she was facing fore or aft, probably a dizzying result of our choosing to avoid the elevators and always climb the stairs, even if we were proceeding from Deck 1 (having visited, say, the Front Office midships or the Vista Theater forward) to Deck 10+ (where the Crowʼs Nest bar and Explorations Café, the only place to get a morning latte, were both located above the bow).

Iʼll tell you someday soon, perhaps tomorrow, about our stateroom, since I shot more than enough pictures that I simply must share, naturally.

the corridor, looking forward, that we walked repeatedly every day to reach some stairs, off to the right, somewhere, so we could climb or descend to somewhere interesting

The ship is mostly a lot of corridors, long and narrow ones usually, leading to the interior and exterior cabins/staterooms. Very narrow corridors — two people have trouble passing each other in these strangulated halls, and the Indonesian crew are astonishingly adept at sidling out of the way of us (noticeably larger/bulkier) tourists, as they go about their important and arduous duties, while yet inevitably grinning at the passing (overweight and overeating) guests with a cheerful greeting. The corridors to your room are really quite boring. The ones in the public areas are significantly wider and more interesting.

a view of the entry to the dining room (note one of the omnipresent hand sanitizers, located everywhere around the public areas of the ship)

The dining room is located aft, at the very back of the ship, on decks 2 and 3 — those of us assigned to open seating for dinner (meaning we could eat at any available time but received different tables with various unexpected other passengers each night rather than the same preordained place and friends) were located on 2. The Vista Theater is the foremost space on Decks 1, 2 and 3.

Deck 3, the Promenade Deck, is the first one with an outside deck, the place to promenade (and where I did two runs on the final two days of our cruise, Friday and Saturday, one during the afternoon — pretty crowded — and the second about 8:00 AM when I had the space almost totally to myself, probably because it was pretty chilly with a huge wind and drizzle. Janet had an unfortunate encounter with one of the plentiful deck bench/storage spaces — she blames me for distracting her at the wrong time — which left her very bruised on her right thigh and provided the lowest moments of our trip. The Promenade walkway leads in a full circle right around the ship, with only the actual working area in the very bow inaccessible — one-third of a mile all the way around. Calculate for yourselves: I did four miles the first day and three and a third Saturday morning.

Promenade Deck, running fore on the starboard side

Promenade Deck, looking aft

the evil storage bench on the Promenade exterior deck

Explorations Café, from the entry, Janet at the coffee bar

Observation Deck

The decks above all have exterior passages, but the cruise company has divided these long narrow areas with metal “walls” so each cabin on the outside can boast a personal balcony (not all that private, especially when your neighbors in one direction enjoy a suite and like to have parties, and the ones on the other side smoke cigars, apparently without cessation). The tenth deck, Observation, features long walkways leading aft (for us, who usually accessed that level by a circular stairwell pretty far forward from the Lido Deck, located starboard just before the spa region, the bow portion of which was the rather nice gym, where The Lovely One did spin class on three days and where I tried to use the treadmills and lift weights on two of those mornings), with the Crows Nest/Explorations Café having excellent views ahead. One of us almost invariably ascended to the Café for a morning latte (priced much more reasonably than we had experienced years earlier on the Westerdam), and since mocha lattes and hot chocolate were available and the Crows Nest bar was just around the corner, I wondered about but did not try to have them create a Snowy Evening for me… (Instead we twice enjoyed Baileyʼs on the rocks for an evening aperitif at the theater.)

a small view of one section on one side, port, of the restaurant on Lido (where I made myself a couple of very good salads)

The Lido Deck, 9, which is discussed too much at length in parentheses above, is mostly a serve-yourself restaurant (where we enjoyed fantastic omelets made to our order on three mornings) and a pool midships forward and another aft. Both pools got used even on this Alaska excursion.

looking along the Lido pool back toward the restaurant, port side (you can see folks seated at the Lido Bar)

The main decks are 1, 2 and 3, where plentiful bars and services are located (shops and the photographers on 3, offices and shore bookings on 1). Amidships is an atrium that opens on all three of those decks.

Ocean Lounge, deck 3, outer portion, starboard

Ocean Bar on 3 around central atrium — yep, the chairs change color in this section

looking forward on Promenade toward the shops that you had to pass through to get further forward to, say, the Theater

my own shot, looking starboard from the balcony, of the Vista Theater just before the famous Crew Show, a farewell event on Saturday afternoon

the Atrium, amidships, looking down from Promenade at the Deck 1 bar — a big gold geographical globe is hanging, a chandelier, just above the shot

The crew, including the entertainers I have been told, gets to huddle on the windowless deck(s?) below 1, of which we passengers only got to know a small piece of deck A, from where we departed onto lifeboats, being used as tenders, in order to get into Sitka.

typical elevator doors and big bright doorway onto the Promenade exterior deck (with stairs, our preference, if you can call it that, barely visible on the right)

our “favorite” view, a stairwell, where we could either climb endlessly or blissfully descend

The Lovely One in the elevator lobby on our deck, relaxing blissfully after a six-deck climb

me pretending to lounge on the clearly deserted Observation Deck, from where chilly Saturday winds have driven all others, including the chair pads

And thatʼs my overview of the ship. ʼNuff said? (With all these pictures, itʼs probably more than enough, I bet.) But then thereʼs this.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Novelties to Like

One of the best aspects of travel, as even the ancients realized, is encountering new people, new places, new lifestyles and new things. And that can even be true within oneʼs own country (the only place some people even imagine traveling, sadly). It can even be true within the tight web of contemporary packaged tourism, like the Holland America cruise on which Janet and I traveled recently.

First of all, this was our second Holland America cruise, having gone through bits of the Caribbean a few years back on the MS Westerdam, and the cruise line, like the old Holiday Inns, has worked hard to make its ships all follow pretty much the same layout. So this 2010 trip was less exciting on the MS Oosterdam because everything was located exactly where the same bar/gym/dining room/stairway/theater was located on the Westerdam, thus reducing the excitement of exploration onboard for us (but more on that topic tomorrow). This was also our second cruise with a personal balcony on our stateroom (gotta love that exaggeration), which is a good thing but this time not brand-new novel. (Our first cruise, with Carnival, the company that owns all the others nowadays, quite a while back, featured a very inexepensive interior cabin with bunk beds!) Shipboard life has become almost familiar, we found.

Second, this was a third return to the Northwest (and second to Seattle, which was our vacation location in 2008) within five years. I love the Northwest and would move to Seattle or Portland in a heartbeat if possible, but in a strange way being out there was starting to feel a little bit like home for us — particularly the three days we spent in Seattle (although we got to experience rain there for the first time). I cannot say the same for the places we stopped and saw in Alaska, but we were indulging in a comfy familiarity in location partly as well.

So it seems a little strange to emphasize the novelty of travel here. Alternatively, it is true, and we did and felt many new experiences. For today, I would like to emphasize one tiny novelty that I enjoyed… Alaskan Breweryʼs Amber!

One of the experiences that cruises present (or impose) is plentiful opportunity (if not need) for drinking. Your ticket price may include just about all the food any epicure could wish to consume, but except for water, coffee and iced tea, your beverages are extra, and beverages of the alcoholic kind are presented for consumption at nearly every turn. Wandering waiters will take your drink orders on the Lido Deck out by the pools or above that on the Observation Deck, in the theater at almost all times of day, and in the numerous bars conveniently scattered around the ship. Room service offers drinks delivered to your room! All you have to do is present your room cardkey, and you can drink whatever you want whenever you wish. Come the end of your little voyage, and only then, do you discover what the numerous little pauses for refreshment, mental and physical, have totaled in cost — conveniently charged to the credit card you had to provide upon booking (and yeah, we have quite a bit of paying off to do yet, although less than one of our unpackaged vacations).

On this cruise/vacation, I got to appreciate a couple of single malt scotches I had never before drunk (one by accident, as apparently the bar scotch at the Edgewater hotel is the Macallan 12-year-old). Unfortunately, going in, we knew HAʼs beer selection was all standard-issue urine water from the usual suspect mega-breweries. However, on the second day I kept noticing that the Lido waiters were carrying around some kind of brown bottles, clearly a microbrew, and upon investigation we discovered they were offering three varieties from the Alaskan Brewery, including in particular Amber, which we both ordered (I told you we had some bills to pay yet). Yeasty and malty but when cold quite crisp and thirst-quenching. I would like to try it on tap, but we never did, yet. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed Alaskan Amber more than several more times on the trip, although an Odin ale I had (on tap) at the Virginia Inn when back in Seattle (sitting inside for once, watching the rain and the people on the sidewalk) was better.

I liked Alaskan Amber well enough that my one souvenir from our trip — thanks to The Lovely One — is an Alaskan Amber cap (which I would have photographed for you, but the camera is still defunct).

For better or worse, more trip news to come…

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

One Twelfth of Heaven

…with partial apologies to Melissa Scott, a real writer, for the title of this post…

Here, after our recent digression back into Mantorville for Dave a week ago, is another dose of Stars in Heaven for Colleen, who was kind enough to comment favorably a couple of times while I was not actually live and present on the blog recently.

Galactic Nebula NGC 7635

“Come on, boy. Wake up!” Rimmon’s voice, somewhere distant. Who’s he talking to?

“Unca Rim…?”

“Yeah, boy. It’s me. It’s Rim..”

“What happened?”

“You puked, kidboy.” —Like Aunt Sarai, that. “Now you’re lyin’ in it, and you should get up.”

The boy reeled to his feet, the world sloshing all awry around him, and promptly fell down again.

“Not like that, kidboy. Come on, you gotta get up. Now. It’s important.”

He tried again, rising a bit more slowly, and this time things seemed to move a little more fluidly, keeping pace with his head, remaining level.

Uncle Rimmon had a wet rag in his hand and quickly wiped the boy’s face and upper body. Very quickly. The boy tried to help, taking the rag and working on his vomit-stained clothing and flesh.

“Good boy. That’s the way.”

They were alone. Not just Daniel, but Ghorf and Jism gone as well. “Where is everybody?” He remembered, he thought, yes… Daniel had lipped Ghorf and then run for it. Was he making his big Escape?

“They’re gone, kidboy. Doncha remember? Chasin’ Daniel. —You remember…”

Ghorf must’ve taken off after his son. Yes… Ghorf’d hit him and then run. “So Jism went after Unca Ghorf?”

“Yeah. Exactly.”

“Whu— where’d they go?”

“Dunno, kidboy. That’s what I need you for. Somebody’s gotta stay here. ‘N’ that’s gotta be me. Too much stardust to trust to a li’l— …You gotta find ‘em.”

“But I don’t know where to go.”

“They went that way, kid. That’s all I know. You go that way, too.”

Uncle Rim looked serious, really serious. That was not usual for him. The boy had only known this new uncle for a day, but Daniel had told stories. And Uncle Rimmon was always the good guy, the unGhorf, the laughing one in those stories. And that’s just how he had been this past day. But not now. Now something that the boy thought looked a little like fear sparkled in the city man’s eyes.

“Go now, kidboy. Before they get any farther off.”

So he went. The boy, unsteadily on his feet, turned and took steps away into the hurrying masses of people, all of them so much larger than he was, all hurrying, rushing, bumping him immediately as he cleared the boothside. Someone could scent the puke and even pushed the boy to avoid the filth.

He wanted to stop as he staggered from one set of legs into another. Big adult voices snarling at him, the clumsy one, in the way, watch where you’re going, what’s the stink, eh.

He tried right away to turn around and go back, but there were too many legs already, too many people: he’d come too far already; and the booth was out of sight, and he wasn’t even sure in which direction. And Uncle Rimmon’s peculiar look haunted him vividly, those eyes. So he turned again, hoping it was still in the right direction and kept on. And he knew he had no idea where he was going. Unless he could guess Daniel’s plan…

I had intended to continue with more brand-new material about Daniel and his Escape, but time did not permit (and now I think I like jumping back and forth at this point between the two boysʼ points of view anyway).

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


So it turns out typing is a chore when your back is stiff and partially immobilized by a bandage. Iʼm trying to use the dictation software instead, but I am discovering repeatedly that I donʼt really have anything to say. At least not today. The reality of having been cut must be hitting: it hurts. Mildly but definitely throughout most of the afternoon (Friday). I also want to do nothing but sleep (and thatʼs after having slept nearly a solid twelve hours Thursday night! — first for a quite unconscious eight, unlike the first postoperative night, on the sofa again, and then, after Janet departed to work, I lay down in the bed and conked for three more hours). I donʼt know if thatʼs Advil PM working on me or what, but I havenʼt been quite alert all day, either. On the other hand, I am not quite alert when all on my own somewhat often.

Besides, today the wound has decided to make itself known to me, sharp little pain in a line along my back. It might be the tape pulling sharply, but somehow I donʼt think so. Not wickedly bad but distracting and annoying. (And although I am whining, I realize, I donʼt mean to complain: people I know have endured real pain and some are experiencing actual agony right now. Iʼm just working on recognizing whatʼs going on with me, and this blog has turned sort of into a journal. So there we are.) And I have to watch how I sit or lean and what I do moreso than yesterday. I learned that doctors like you to rate pain on a scale of ten back in ʼ01 after the hernia job, and I didnʼt really know how to tell them what I was experiencing (without medication The Lovely One and I both learned as I was dismissed from hospital that day when they told her they figured I wouldnʼt want some painkiller for the evening because I had recovered all day without meds; she took the prescription and we stopped on the way home for the stuff). Maybe today is a periodic four.

I hope I heal fast, if only because I donʼt like thinking about or writing about just these petty problems.

Petty pain, yes. Today Qwest continues its evil ways with a vile vengeance. Every time I try to do anything online, the browser stalls and eventually complains of lost connections until I realize that once again the “internet” and “server” status items have eluded my electronic grasp. The internet connection has been so dicey that I almost fear uploading whatever few words I eventually put down here because I am sure that I will lose the post in the process by losing connection to that larger digital reality beyond me. Good thing that I have gotten into the drill of writing the post first in Scrivener and then just copying the text over to the WordPress window in the browser — a state that started from losing a post back in June that I had written in the browser and had thought I had periodically saved, but once I realized the Qwest connection had gone down (again), I learned that evidently I hadnʼt successfully communicated to WordPress after all.

I am almost to the point of advising anyone who asks to avoid Qwest for any service — phone, internet, video, whatever, because this is somewhat past annoying to troublesome. Of course, after all that sleep I am also somewhat grumpy today, or maybe something less than service has made me that way. Why should I complain? Qwest gave me a free month of continually interrupted “service” and no communication from their “service staff” in compensation for my complained-about difficulties with what they choose to call service. If I didnʼt already have one, I would say Qwest is a big pain in the back. As it is, I guess the pain they inflict is somewhat lower down.

So now I have discovered the theme for today — annoying pain, or aggravating irritations. Sorry for having written on that, but having pretty much wasted today, whatever I come up with as the minutes tick down to Janetʼs return from work will have to go up. And this is what I have to post. Perhaps a new week will do better for us all (and maybe in a new week so will Qwest, and maybe sows and boars will take to the air as well).

Oh. Click the picture for a positive side to Qwest…

Apologies. Take care out there.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


So I am back. Even yesterdayʼs post was written well before our vacation started (and those were a pretty busy week or ten days as I attempted to churn out three and four posts a day).

Vague First Trip Report

The trip was utterly fantastic, even though it was a cruise, and I will tell more about it soon. We went to lower (southeastern) Alaska, stopping at Glacier Bay (the highlight, even though we stayed on the ship the whole day), Juneau (a highlight only because The Lovely One and I took a bus out to Mendenhall Glacier, and that was amazing), Sitka (wonderful for history, forests, salmon running and totem poles), and Ketichkan (the lowlight probably, but we only had a single morning). On our way back to Seattle, the ship stopped for a few hours in Victoria (for legal reasons, someone cited the Jones Act, but I havenʼt looked it up yet — ships face fines for cruises that donʼt put into a foreign port), and although Janet and I walked around in the rain by the Inner Harbor there and somewhat downtown, it was about 8:00 PM on a Saturday night, and the town was full of cruise tourists, like us.

I broke my camera on our second day back in Seattle, and right now I am experiencing problems getting the computer to “see” the memory disk even when installed outside the camera, but I hope to have pictures (a few here) someday.

And Wednesdayʼs Unpleasantness at the Medical Center

I shunnned the bloody one that my “scalpel” search googled up…

I also visited the surgeon in his office on Wednesday, as I told you well in advance. The procedure was distinctly unpleasant but not painful (somewhat comical at times, like getting a syringe-ful of painkiller down my side when the needle wasnʼt properly installed), and I now know from experience that I prefer being knocked out while my body is invaded for my own good. I have learned that I donʼt like even the pain-numbed sensation of having my upper back split open and someone pulling and scraping inside. My body knew it was opened, and the sensation was… uncomfortable. (Dr. A was very good about injecting more epinephrine, I believe that was my painkiller, when I moaned and squawked, which I made a point of doing, as I should explain in future.) And my particular lipoma (which the gloating doctor let me see in all its bloody, pale and baggy glory) was bigger and much more deeply attached to the me below it than is usual — thus more than normal cutting, and a procedure that endured for nearly an hour. Getting well sutured afterward seemed to take forever as well, but I am very glad he did a good job.

Anyway, now I hurt on my left back, have to take partial showers, move delicately for a few days, and take care what I try to do for a week or so (the stitches come out next week, when I will also learn the lab results on the lump of fat). I slept the first night afterward on our basement family room sofa, seeking support on my rear while lying on my side, but I may just try lying down tonight (that would be Thursday) in the real bed. As I may have noted already, or as I just ran into words I could use in my mind as I was not rapidly falling asleep Wednesday night, no one ever talks much about the recovery from surgeries, which I have begun to suspect from my own fairly limited and actually mild (but disturbingly unpleasant and sometimes painful) experiences is because recovery is no fun at all. And the medicos just process you out and try not to imagine what you are enduring until they see you a week or so later.

Oh, well, why whine, when itʼs all for my benefit? (Because Iʼm actually getting close to a genuine post from all this?)

Meanwhile I am going to keep blog-stuff short because I have an actual writing commission to complete (one that I didnʼt realize had come through as The Lovely One and I were departing for the Northwest). Iʼm afraid itʼs a freebie, but I have made a start already yesterday (ha — I caught myself that time and didnʼt try to say “today” as in when I am writing), and I may explain more on that later.

For now, weʼll call it day. Janet should be home soon, and I have really gotten to enjoy seeing her 24/7 (as “those kids” might in their ugly way say).

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Small Admission

from my Facebook gallery of profile pictures, outside the Lockspot Café in Ballard (north Seattle) in 2008

I would hope that the blog has suddenly blossomed to entice thousands and thousands of readers to peruse my driveling prose (and poetry), rather than the mere dozens these random ramblings usually attract. But I doubt it, sadly. I would also hope that thousands of those eager readers have noticed that I have been pretty reticent in my responses to your (potential) comments recently. Made any comments, anyone?

Has any fan noticed that I havenʼt been very interested in what you have possibly had to say back at me? Considering the pretty mundane issues that I have chosen to contemplate, probably not — meaning that no one has bothered to post a comment about such wonders as Janetʼs hibiscus or our new birdbath or my personal preening about playing Picasso. But if you have posted a comment, I havenʼt responded. And itʼs not because I am disinterested.

So why havenʼt I been very active with the reactions to the blog? Itʼs because I havenʼt been online for a while now, nearly two weeks. And why not? Well, we have been on vacation since Saturday the eleventh!

Couldnʼt even tell, could you? (I hope not.) I havenʼt in weeks stroked or punched a keyboard (or screamed about the ineptitude of Qwestʼs miserly and miserable regularly failing service — in the twenty days before vacation I lost the connection to the internet and server at least five times a day, usually just as I was attempting to save the latest improvement on a post, too; thanks, lack-of-service Qwesties), although I was really, really busy pecking out posts through September 10, in order to have enough blog bulletins built up to selfserve themselves onto the internet over the days we would be gone.

outside our room at the Hotel Max, Seattle, 2008

Even this post was actually written on the afternoon of the ninth, in anticipation of my immobilization after the lipoma surgery yesterday, so I canʼt tell you a thing today about anything that has happened in two full weeks, including any details on our vacation (theyʼll be forthcoming sometime soon, I am sure) or that surgery (which is for me still two weeks in the future, as it was when I wrote yesterdayʼs little essay-with-joke). I just hope everything went well and that we are back home and that I was available to have the surgery. You never know. After all, we chose to fly on the ninth anniversary of 9/11! (The Lovely One figured we might have emptier and therefore more comfortable flights on that fateful date. Did we? Iʼll have to tell you later, of course, because the me writing this hasnʼt even finished packing yet.)

So where did we go? I hope you are wondering that, because I am going to tell you. We took a quick Inside Passage Alaska cruise with Holland America, leaving Seattle on Sunday, September 12, and returning on the following Saturday. Then we stayed over in Seattle for another two nights (returning to the beloved Hotel Max where we stayed for our Seattle vacation two years ago) because we like that city so well. We flew home on Tuesday so I could be ready to get cut yesterday.

And thatʼs all I know now. I hope you werenʼt offended if I ignored a comment you may have written. I assure you that starting today (I sincerely hope) I will be taking the greatest of (excessive) interest again — both here, of course, and once again on Facebook. And I hope to tell you about the trip soon, possibly even tomorrow.

Thanks for reading (even in my absence)!

I just noticed that I have a “little, small” theme going with post titles this week. I hope thatʼs not a personal Freudian slip thing, considering yesterdayʼs joke…

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

A Little Update

Remember when I told you about the lipoma? (If you donʼt, just click the link and read all about it, of course.) I said I had gone into Dr. Bill on Friday and was scheduled to visit the surgeon the following Wednesday, and that no news was good news as far as the blog was concerned. And you had no news. So it was good news.

Ever wondered why clip art is so scary? Maybe itʼs the black and white…

Dr. Atienza was convinced instantly that the lump was a lipoma. Good news. Fortunately or un-, he was also convinced that I had to have the lump removed. It would be as simple as dentistry, he told me, meaning that I would only receive local anesthetic for the procedure. No naysaying or shilly-shallying allowed, I was having the fat thing out as soon as possible. And I am telling you today because todayʼs the day.

Yessiree-bob, I go in to have the lump cut out at 2:00 p.m. I donʼt know if I am nervous or not (although I am using a blog post to tell you dozens of faithful readers all about it, for whatever that tells us of my mental state and mood), but itʼs going to go away. Today.

I tried to explain that the insurance might consider the procedure cosmetic, and he laughed. “Not cosmetic at all. Necessary.” (Dr. Atienza is Filipino originally and still sounds it.) He went on to explain, “It is… Turn around!” I did and he palpitated me (a common experience for me in those few days back at and before the beginning of this month). “It is, what, five, no seven centimeters.” He showed me using three or four fingers what seven centimeters is like, which didnʼt look very large to me — abut the three inches I had mentally (over)estimated. “Pretty big. We have to take it out.”

And we are, about nine hours after this post initially appears.

He and the nurse assured me itʼs a really simple procedure. I wonʼt even bleed much, thanks to the specific anesthetic and the doctorʼs suturing. We didnʼt discuss recovery time, but I warned them about our vacation (thatʼs the real reason the surgery wasnʼt until today, as I will explain tomorrow) and my Picasso performance, and they said there would be no problem. So the deed was on. Dr. Atienza would have his third opportunity to look at whatʼs inside me (although this time only in the layer just below the skin).

Janetʼs coming with me at 2:00, but this time they werenʼt even worried about me driving myself home (so I guess sheʼs just moral support, as the nurse kept saying when we talked about it). When I had the colonoscopy, I wasnʼt even permitted to walk myself home, which I thought was pretty ridiculous (and so our neighbor, Levi, had to take the time to drop me off and pick me up — thanks, sir! — although I was fit enough to use my cell phone to give him the summons to bring me home). On my other hand, however, I think driving might feel a bit uncomfortable, considering where the lipoma is. Heck, Iʼm not even looking forward to sitting in the car seat (not to mention lying down in bed to sleep)!

And before I conclude, all this reminds me of a joke I like, being a language groaner. Enjoy:

So this guy went into the surgeonʼs office and told the nurse he wanted to get castrated.

“Castrated? Are you sure, sir?”

“Absolutely, nursie. Castration. Thatʼs the one I want. Castration.”

“Castrationʼs pretty extreme, sir. Are you sure you donʼt want a few days to consider this operation?”

“No, lady, I have considered and considered, and I want it done. Castrate me. Today if itʼs possible.”

So the nurse went to the surgeon and told him, explaining how definite the guy was. There was nothing on for an hour or so, and the junk could be snipped in the office with only a local. And no surgeon ever avoids an opportunity to cut, so they had the man in right then and there.

Just to be careful, however, as they were preparing the patient on the table, the doctor asked him again, “Are you quite sure that castration is what you want to have done?”

“No time like the present, doc. Iʼve had it for years, and itʼs time it was gone. Go ahead. Castrate me.”

So they did.

As the brand-new eunuch was leaving the office, walking a bit gingerly in his delicate condition, another man was at the window, speaking to the nurse.

“If the doctorʼs available today, miss, I need to be circumcised.”

“Circumcised, sir?”

“Yep, itʼs time I had a circumcision.”

“Dammit,” the first patient exclaimed. “I always get those confused! Circumcised. Not castrated. I wanted to get circumcised.”

“Sorry, sir,” the nurse informed him logically, “no do-overs.”

I may have stretched it out too long toward the end (and the original joke concludes with the first patientʼs speech). I kind of liked adding the extra ending, although I did change it for publication just now. My original final word was “Mulligans.” Any better?

Anyway, thatʼs the news for today. If thereʼs anything much to report or reveal from the procedure, perhaps Iʼll use the opportunity Thursday.

Wish me luck!

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

A Little New One

I was playing around with alliteration and with what might with a little more effort and work have become prose poetry a while back (sorry for the pretentiousness of that — as though there werenʼt any other all-pervading stink of pretension throughout this blog). As I finished creating the post, finding the long-buried pictures (actually taken back in July) and forging those luscious links I love so much, reviewing my spelling and punctuation (usually too cursorily and quickly), I remembered that I had actually written a little piece of description early in the summer that I had at least thought of as a poem, disregarding whether it is one or not. As the only bit of verse I have written on my own during the course of the blog (so far, let us hope), I thought I would put it up in this environment today.

Like several other primarily descriptive verses I have developed, this one arose from a suddenly transfixing moment of observation (generally speaking, I look but donʼt actually see all that much, not the best practice for one who wants to be a writer). The moon appearing in the daytime sky isnʼt all that unusual, although normally taken for granted, by me and the rest of the world. However, back on June 22, as I went outdoors (to get the mail, I think), I looked up, straight ahead of me in the southern sky to see a full moon looking fragmentary and slightly dim in the daytime brilliance — its craters the same shade as the sky itself (or some of them), as though the acidic force of the blue were eating away at the cold white of the lunar disk (one of the phrases I tried and rejected made the moon a decayed hockey puck, though not in those many words, but close enough for rejection).

I stopped on the driveway and just gazed at it, and the start of the incomplete piece of verse I am putting below began bubbling in my mind. I kept looking for possibly a whole minute, thinking of words pretty vaguely and not quite consciously, then started to the mailbox. The clear idea the moon was disintegrating or evaporating (like an ice cube! I wondered) came up as I walked (our box is all the way across our neighborʼs length of yard, right beside theirs at the end of their driveway:  one of the huge accomplishments in the days after my hernia surgery back in early June of 2001 was actually shambling out the front door and carefully, both feet securely onto a step before reaching one of them down to the next, getting down to the driveway, hobbling all the way to the street and then to the mailbox in the middle of an afternoon — our mail arrives late in the day — and not being entirely certain I had the energy to get back home and inside; but I did — that day I donʼt think I even thought to glance up and see if there was a moon fragment deliquescing for my imagination).

I donʼt recall now how long it took me this recent summer day to pull out the big red notebook, in which I was working on a section of “Mistakes by Moonlight,” and on a fresh page scratch down the lines below. I believe it was that same Tuesday afternoon, possibly just about immediately after getting the mail back inside. Although I started to edit and revise it as I put the lines into typing (thatʼs when the hockey-puck mistake reoccurred to me), I didnʼt, leaving what you get exactly what I wrote in the notebook.


Faint ghostmoon partly melted into the flat blue depths,

blue flowing raggedly in several rough channels into the dish,

spoiled and rotting coin, dissolving ice round,

sizzling silently on summer sky

22 June 2010

Not much there, I admit, just four little lines, but I wanted to record the visual image of the moon melting into the sky because I hadnʼt thought of it looking like that before. And since I hadnʼt used poetry (or creative writing of any kind, at all) much to create posts recently, it seemed appropriate to present something that wasnʼt thirty or forty years old.

Itʼs a nice little fragment but not a poem yet, and as I have no idea what to do with it or use it for, Iʼll just present it as it is for now. (And I lied, without realizing it, above: I added the words “and rotting” when I typed it up.)

The photos from the web are interesting and pretty, too, although neither one quite captures the decaying into blue that the real moon was doing on that June afternoon. The full moon is too clear, and the half moon is, well, just a half, and I saw a full. Furthermore, the fading into the sky part was on the right, not the left.

Okay. I went overboard and redescribed the sight about six times here in the explanation. I think I donʼt think the fragment stands on its own…

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.