wafting your way along the slipstreams of the Info Highway

from Bubbles = Tom Digby



Issue #25

New Moon of January 8, 1997

Contents copyright 1997 by Thomas G. Digby, with a liberal definition of "fair use". In other words, feel free to quote excerpts elsewhere (with proper attribution), post the entire zine (verbatim, including this notice) on other boards that don't charge specifically for reading the zine, link my Web page, and so on, but if something from here forms a substantial part of something you make money from, it's only fair that I get a cut of the profits.

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When midnight came to a New Year's party I attended most of the others were more interested in watching TV of other celebrations, mainly the one where they blew up a hotel in Las Vegas. They were tearing it down anyway, so why not blow it up for New Year's? They actually did it at 9, I think, but they had a tape-delayed broadcast at midnight. (And the technical term isn't "blowing it up", but what the heck.)

I suppose Martians or something might ask if people knew in advance which hotel would be blown up, and whether they got the guests out beforehand. Most Earth people would say it goes without saying that any officially sanctioned blowing up of a hotel would have been organized long in advance, with the building vacated early in the preparations. But Martians might not know that.

And, come to think of it, they may do it differently in Toon Town. People partying in hotel rooms might notice camera crews and crowds gathering in the parking lot, and then they'd glance at the TV just long enough to realize that it's THEIR hotel on the screen, and then BOOM! And then there they'd be, wandering around through the wreckage, bandaged up to one degree or another and some of them on crutches, poking through the debris in search of their belongings.

And all the while pesky media people would be trying to interview them about what it's like to have their hotel blown up. "Here's a guy all bandaged up like a mummy. Could you tell us what happened?" [he starts to talk] "Excuse me, but you're not disoriented enough. Instead of describing your experience coherently, couldn't you just sort of sit there while stars whirl around your head? ... And you, sir -- Yes, you, all scroonched up. Could you walk around and make some out-of-tune accordion noises?"

And of course there are exaggerated accounts of it in all the tabloids afterwards, including rumors that Elvis and Bigfoot were there.

So if you're invited to a New Year's event in Toon Town, think long and hard before accepting.

And if your hotel is the one that gets blown up, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

But have scientists actually broken up cookies and studied how they crumble? Do different kinds of cookies crumble differently? Does an Oreo crumble the same way a Pepperidge Farm Nantucket does? And what about ginger snaps?

I suppose people developing cookie recipes have given the matter some attention, but probably in mostly subjective terms relating to how biting and chewing feels. I don't know if there's been much done in engineering terms about yield strength and crack propagation and such. So there may be a whole neglected area of study here.

And it may not get studied, because the expression is out of style now. It used to be common back maybe thirty or forty years ago, with a meaning of something like "That's life." If, for example, some Madison Avenue executive lost a big account, his associates would say "That's the way the cookie crumbles." Nowadays they'd be more likely to say "Shit happens." We have more permission to use dirty words now, so something like "That's the way the cookie crumbles" would sound like we're trying to be Goody Two-Shoes, so we have to use the dirty words instead.

Well, phooey on that! It's a free country. I can still use words like "heck" and "darn" if I feel like it.

"Yes, I got the invitation. But it was printed on a dot matrix printer and only used three typefaces and no clip art, so I didn't think the party would be worth going to."

At one recent get-together the host showed us a genuine Tibetan (or maybe Nepalese) prayer wheel. It was like a small can free to turn on an axle parallel to its axis, with a handle to hold the axle by. And the can had a weight on one side, hanging from a short chain. That gave enough unbalance that you could make the can spin by shaking the handle. You write prayers down on paper, put them in the can, and spin it. People in the Pagan traditions I'm familiar with would see that as a way of putting energy into whatever you'd written down.

Did direction of spin matter? Nobody there knew.

As soon as I thought of it in terms of "raising energy" I had this mental image of a number of people standing around in a circle twirling these things. And the physical principle reminded me of a type of party noisemaker. Could we use those, with the noise adding to the feeling of raising energy? Write down what you wanted, fasten that to the noisemaker somehow, and spin it?

The original is done for hours at a time, I believe, as a sort of quiet meditation. But in Western traditions of group ritual we probably want a more intense short-term effect, rapidly building to a climax. Thus the noisemakers.

Direction? My first impulse was to say sunwise (either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on whether you're looking from above or below and what hemisphere you're in) for things you want to bring into your life, and the other direction for things you want to get rid of. So maybe have two, one in each hand? I think there's a natural tendency to spin such pairs in opposite directions by doing mirror-image hand motions. So maybe that's the way to go. But on the other hand (if we have that many hands), this makes it rather complicated. So let's just use one per person and have direction not really matter.

So you write your wishes down on paper, attach them to noisemakers, and spin them. You do this in circle, perhaps with somebody on the side doing drumming or something (assuming you'll be able to hear drums at all over the racket), and maybe somebody dancing in the center. If done right, with everybody's noisemaker turning in sync, this could bring an altered state similar to what you get with drumming and dancing. The person dancing in the center sets the tempo, and signals the climax. Then you burn your pieces of paper in a cauldron or take them home and put them on your altar or something.

Yes, I know such a ritual would have little resemblance to the original prayer wheels. But so what? We aren't those people, for the most part, and we don't have their background and training. And for many of us our tradition is a living thing that grows and changes. So if it works for us, and doesn't hurt those faraway people I got the idea from, do it.

Someone else at the gathering had some short pieces she said were "just beginnings of stories". And she may never finish them, because she doesn't get inspired to carry them further.

But why did she feel that was a bad thing? When an artist paints a painting, they generally don't get criticized on the grounds that it isn't a complete story board or comic strip. So why aren't prose vignettes as accepted as paintings or snapshots are? Just a quirk of this society?

One of the people at a dinner thing a week or two ago had been doing customer support phone stuff for a bank, and finally quit because he didn't want to keep taking all that hostility from the customers. I asked if they gave him any training in grounding and centering, so he could get rid of anger and frustration in some safe healthy manner. He said they hadn't. I think they should.

I remember long-ago commercials for some airline where they were training flight attendants not to argue back at passengers for little stuff, but was that truly grounding the energy or was it just hiding and bottling up frustration?

Do airlines give training in true grounding and centering to flight attendants and gate agents? I would think somebody should have thought of it by now. I can think of various reasons ("enlightened self- interest") such as lower turnover due to less burnout, better service on average, and so on, that would make this sort of training a good idea, for airlines and others such as computer tech support people. I think it would help make the world a better place.

One problem is how to make it applicable to all religions: Some will want to ground energy to the Earth Mother while others think in terms of handing their problems to Jesus. Both are probably equally effective, but only for people whose beliefs are compatible with the way they're trying to do it. So we may need to figure out a non-discriminatory way to teach this that would be effective for everybody.

Random topic drift brought the conversation in another dinner group around to me running for President. I don't plan to, especially not in 2000 with the Zero Year jinx, but what if I did?

Would my piercings become a campaign issue? Would the opposition spend millions of dollars explaining to the most easily shocked voters what a Prince Albert piercing is, and hinting that were I to become President they would be the Latest Style and everybody would sort of have to get all sorts of strange piercings whether they wanted to or not, because of forces like workplace peer pressure? "His doctor says he doesn't have any nipple or genital piercings. What is he, a spy or something?"

And I would have to wear a suit and tie much of the time. And even when I could take the tie off, they'd probably expect me to wear long pants even when it's warm. And they'd want me to wear clothes all day, even when I'm just sort of relaxing around the White House.

And I probably wouldn't get to play around in the military's big computers even if I was Commander in Chief.

And the politics of being President of a superpower would often require me to make decisions to hurt people. We're talking big-time hurt here. Maybe even taking people who would rather be doing something else and making them shoot other people they don't even know with real bullets.

So all in all, I don't think I'll run for President.

There used to be some validity to "It says it in a book, so it must be true." In days of yore publishing a book was an expensive and time- consuming undertaking. So if something was in a book it meant that it had probably been approved, directly or indirectly, by someone of fairly high social or economic or academic standing. Also, when we were children many of the first books we turned to for "facts" were provided to us by authority figures such as parents or teachers. Since they generally didn't intend to give us books that were wrong, that reinforced the idea that if it's in a non-fiction book it must be true.

But now? We're grown up now, and we don't have others to pick and choose our books for us. And with computers and other technological advances, almost anybody can publish a book. So there are more books out there that may contain all sorts of wrong "facts", and we're on our own about deciding which to believe. So "I read it in a book so it must be true" doesn't work any more, even if it did Once Upon a Time.

And now the cat on my lap is waking up and starting to wonder how to go about being a nuisance. Or is he going back to sleep? No, he's turning around. And now he may be going back to sleep after all, still on my lap but facing the opposite direction. Does the direction really matter, or is it just that he got tired of lying on one side and wanted to try the other for a while?

I'm reminded of an art or science or superstition (depending on your beliefs) with a Chinese name something like "Feng Shui" that deals with arranging houses and furniture and landscaping and such in accordance with various traditional beliefs about the flow of psychic energy. This may include having one's bed facing a certain way, depending on what else is in the room, where the doors and windows are, and so on.

So Kittycat turning around and going back to sleep makes me wonder if there's something like feline Feng Shui. And if there is, do we humans need to worry about it or can the cat figure it out without our help?

Of course some will say that's not the right question: I should instead be asking "How can I cash in on this?" But if my belief in it is weak enough that I would ask if there's anything to it, then my conscience probably won't let me do much of anything in the way of cashing in on it.

                       Incident Along Fantasy Way 
                              Neighbor Cat

I don't know the technical term for it
But my next-door neighbor keeps turning
Into a cat.

It started when she was born --
The building had a rule:
"No dogs, no children."  Cats were OK.
Her parents didn't want to move right then
So they went to somebody a friend of theirs knew
Who was a wizard on the side.
So, whenever the landlord heard a baby crying
And came knocking on the door to tell them
"Either the kid goes or you go!"
All he ever found
Was a little kitten.

There were, of course,
A kitten in diapers would never do
So she always went naked.
And the only toys she could have
Were things like rubber mice and balls of yarn,
And even in human form
She was sensitive to catnip.
But in general it worked.  

By the time she started school
They had moved to a house in the suburbs.
They were going to get the spell lifted Real Soon Now
But they never did
And when she learned to control it herself
She decided to keep it.  

So now on moonlit summer nights
When the city is quiet
And rooftops and alleyways beckon
Like mountains and canyons in some exotic land
And several of her friends
Whose parents knew people who knew that same wizard 
Come howling beneath her window
She is off,
Into the night,
Shadow among shadows,

                                        Thomas G. Digby
                                        written 2220 hr  8/10/74
                                        entered 2015 hr  3/29/92

                                -- END --

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