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Pay(ing) Attention To The Other Animals

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A character in one of my novels, Mother Ursula, always refers to the other animals on Earth as the other animals. She is well aware that homo sapiens sapiens are but animals with pretensions – and the Grace of God. She fits in right well in the chapters set in Africa, where the other animals come to the fore. It is the author’s observation that the other animals still hold more sway in Africa than elsewhere on our benighted planet.

So, I pay attention to the other animals.

During a walk in the neighbourhood, a right old rumpus erupted in a parking lot to my left. A man was having a frantic time keeping his dog in check. The dog was on a leash, and actually pulling the man. They were in the middle of the empty parking lot, and I could see nothing to make the dog so agitated. The dog was straining mightily, but it was obvious that, if he broke free, he was not coming for me. He was wishing to get free to dash into an adjoining back yard. I carefully went on my way.

About five minutes later I turned onto another street. Now, I fully understand that the phrase “Can not believe my eyes” is not literal. We say it when we see something extraordinary. However, that was the phrase that immediately came to mind, even as I was seeing what I was seeing.

Part way along the street, an albino deer was standing in the middle of the road. There was not a patch of colour on the animal other than white. Head, body, legs. Looking right at me. Calmly. It stood stock still. Not a twitch.

Well, I did the same. Not a movement. It was about three houses along the street. Blessedly there was no traffic. No walkers. And I at least now knew why the dog had been so agitated. Perhaps it could not trust its senses, either.

The albino deer didn’t move. After three or four minutes, I wondered if it was ill. Somehow stunned. Dealing with some sort of trauma. Regardless, I knew it was not safe for the albino deer to keep standing in the middle of a street. I started to – very slowly – walk toward it.

And it didn’t move.

I went closer and it still didn’t move. I wondered if deer could be rabid. Was its mind gone? Was I in danger? I was not going to confront a hefty deer. I stopped.

About a couple of minutes after I stopped, two fawns came trotting between two houses. Seemingly not a care in the world. They were of a normal deer colour. The albino deer turned and started to trot toward a swath of bushes and trees on the other side of the road. The fawns quickly followed. Exit three deer, as if responding to stage directions.

Those other animals, eh?

 

[Image] http://i.pinimg.com/736x/a2/da/0e/a2da0ee76b4b8d0e8dca30f7f86e93cf.jpg

Alive In The World & Not Coming Home Dead

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So, fourteen days of self-isolation ended yesterday, and I went into the world. That, plus being super careful at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, meant I had not stepped into society for three and a half months (except for the inter-city bus ride to get me here).

Mask on face, I got on the city bus and sat in a designated seat, keeping folk (hopefully) at a healthy distance. Seating was reduced by half. Not everyone wore masks.

Reaching my destination, and out on the street where I could keep my distance, I pushed my mask off (though I did not put it away). There was moderate foot traffic, and it was not difficult to keep from getting close to people. I ‘d guess only one in twenty wore a mask.

I have a favourite walk along the harbour, and when I reached the water I attempted to set out on it. First, I did check to see if the public washroom was operating. It was. However, I found my usual trek was restricted by construction. I had to start along a city street, which is narrow this close to the harbour. There was no way not to be close to folk walking in my direction, and I pulled up my mask. Again, few others were wearing masks.

Once beside the water, where the wooden walkways are wide, it was much easier keeping away from other folk. There were many people there (it was a nice summer day) and the majority of them did not wear masks. Outside bars were open, and I saw groups of people (10 – 20) sitting at long tables. There were  also folk in twos and threes sitting on public benches.

I knew there would be no cruise ships in port (that business is dead for the year), but I eventually realised there were no pleasure crafts, either. All of the moorings were deserted, and it made quite a difference. The only marine traffic I saw was a Pilot Boat on its way out.

I did sit awhile (a favourite pass time) at an individual chair, and looked out toward the Atlantic Ocean. And was happy there was some breeze.

As I continued, I was surprised that (I believe) all the restaurants were open. Folk were inside and out on the patios. No masks were visible (except on the servers). There were reduced numbers, of course,  but I bet the restaurants were as full as they could be.

I eventually continued along the streets to get of a large grocery store. I had not been in a commercial building for three months. I lucked out when, as I entered, one employee was wiping down a shopping cart. I grabbed it. I was only getting a few items (though – as usual – there were some unplanned purchases). More shoppers had masks, but I’d guess 50% did not. Nor (you can believe this) did they all follow the arrows on the floor. Still, I was in and out quickly, paying with a credit card (I did see one person use cash).

Next door is a Liquor Store, and I made some purchases there. No one else wore masks. I did not stay long, knowing full well what I wanted.

The bus back was much like the one I took to the harbour. Enter by the side door. Designated seat. No ticket necessary.

So a day has passed. Purchases requiring refrigeration were disinfected and put away. The rest I’m just going to let sit until the respective safe time frames for the respective containers passes.

I decided to stay put today.

(image) https://i.pinimg.com/originals/64/9a/83/649a839d99330f27cfb30eaa867f3d61.jpg

The Moon Looms And Man Lands

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In my novel, The Rags Of Time, travel to the outer edges of Earth’s solar system has been accomplished. But the Moon still holds its sway – literally.

To celebrate the space outing of fifty years ago. Here is the group of segments of my written ascent through the heavens. My crew are returning  from their trip to the outer reaches of our solar system. and something goes awry. There is no Huston to contact, but there is a problem.

And, finally, is the connection to the spiritual/supernatural aspect of the novel, where the Druids of the old religion become a conduit to what is happening in outer space.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is a navigator’s moon.

That is how Eric the Red thinks of it, as his space craft enters Earth’s solar system. He is called Eric the Red for his facial hair, and his ancestry. But behind his back, his romantic notions of the ancient ways is more the reason for his name.

Even when they fly past it, Earth’s moon generates little influence upon their return. A minor compensation of the thrusters, and its only effect on the ship, is the ritualistic kiss which crew members bestow against the aft window for the man in the moon. However, as soon as his gravity sensors register the distant presence of Pluto, Eric the Red enhances their output to catch the faintest twinge of the Earth’s moon.

His navigator’s moon.

Tomorrow, Eric will alter course to sweep past Pluto’s satellite, Charon. He plans to use the combined gravity as a sling to amplify his own trajectory, although he will lose some directional control to achieve speed.

Opportunities to observe this unknown planet are still scarce, and he makes adjustments to confront the dual gravity. He decides to attempt the `Film Technique’, which met with success among the moons of Jupiter. The Technique is named after the way film had been threaded in the antique movie projectors of the Twentieth Century.

He plans to wind through the gravities of the various moons, in such a manner that each helps accelerate his ship around the next. There are many factors to consider which affect the interplay of gravities between solar bodies. And they will, in turn, exert their control over his vessel. At times like this Eric wonders how much really has been learned since the existence of gravity was acknowledged.

**************************************************************************************

Eric the Red decides to get back to business. He keys the delay coordinates for the radioscope, and checks his map.

“Follow through on your consoles.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll admit, Malcolm, the surprises of Pluto will be inconvenient to experience. Until the surface is accurately defined, I agree it’s too dangerous for a landing.”

“Transfer at fifty percent, sir.”

“Acknowledged.” The captain glances at the various instruments. “As you know, our probes to Pluto can not be retrieved.”

“That might not be due to the surface, sir.”

“True. There seems to be an electro-gravitational bind.” Eric the Red looks intently at his view screen. “Reason enough to keep our distance.” He magnifies the image in front of him. “Personally, I feel as uncomfortable attempting a landing on Pluto, as I would setting out to explore Iris.”

“The mysterious tenth planet.” Malcolm whistles softly into his microphone. “That might be for our children, sir. The scientists don’t even understand the orbital path of Iris. I don’t imagine I’ll ever get to look at its surface.”

“You sound interested.”

“Iris is intriguing. During its centuries of orbit, it has penetrated space far more deeply than we ever have.”

*************************************************************************************

The Captain turns to again look at Pluto.

“If it’s not internal, then it must be external.”

He shifts the image of Pluto to a larger screen.

“Although, quite frankly, that concept isn’t much better than its alternative.”

He tries to sharpen the focus on the large screen. After a minute of adjusting the controls, he shrugs his shoulders in failure.

“That indistinct picture is not due to our sensors. Have the other stations turn their view screens to Pluto. See if they get the same results.”

“Yes, sir.”

While Malcolm checks with the other observation officers, Eric the Red again runs a sweep of his instruments. As he thoroughly goes over each one, he pays attention to the responses received by his first officer. It is quickly apparent the same fuzzy image appears over the whole ship.

“Any ideas, Number One?”

“I think our movement is being disrupted.” Malcolm looks at the same sequence of instruments. “I’d guess there’s agitation in our centrifugal rotation.” He peers closely at the view screen. “It can’t be much. Our artificial gravity doesn’t seem affected.”

“You don’t look in danger of floating away.” The captain smiles. “So I doubt this explains my `light-headedness’.”

“No, sir.” Malcolm can not tell how serious the older man is. “The rotation alteration is minimal. It is just enough to make our cameras waver.” He taps the view screen. “Considering how sensitive they are, I would judge this force to be weak.”

“Any guess what it is?”

“No data suggests a malfunction within the ship.” Malcolm moves a dial a millimetre. “Which leaves an outside cause.”

“Well.” The captain leans so close his nose touches the view screen. “I think we’re being influenced by the mysterious Tenth.”

“Iris?”

“Yes.” He turns back to his first officer. “With Pluto and Charon positioned the way they are, and our attempt to execute the Hohmann-ellipse to take advantage of the Film Technique, we may have added the weight of Iris to our backs.”

“The alignment shouldn’t be intense enough to – ”

“Iris is so perversely inconsistent, it doesn’t have to fit into our ideas of alignment to make itself felt.” The captain makes some inclusions into the library computer. “After all, we’re the ones entering its sphere of influence.”

“It is a minor influence.” The first officer makes some quick calculations in his head. “We could accept a reduction of our artificial gravity for the duration of the manoeuvre.”

“That’s a viable option.” Eric the Red looks up co-ordinates to enter into the computer. “But we can negate the problem without weakening our reserves.” He inserts a bar of information into the computer. “Run an evaluation of our solar cells.”

“Yes, sir.”

Malcolm walks to the banks of light-activated monitors surrounding the doorway. He takes a laser probe from his instrument pouch, and traces it across a screen. As the figures appear, he reads them aloud. Most are at full capacity.

“Do you see what I’m getting at, Number One?”

“Yes, sir. We use some of this power to counter the effect of Iris.”

“Exactly.” The captain smiles. “We don’t touch our reserve fuel, and we replenish the solar storage during our last month of earth approach.”

The captain pauses to read a number off his computer screens. He performs some equations on his hand-calculator, then turns to look at his first officer.

“If the Film Technique is successful, we’ll save nine to fourteen days.”

Eric takes a binder from under his work station, and flips through its pages. He enters data into both his computer and his calculator, and talks over his shoulder.

“If we use solar packs A7, A12, A17, K12, K13, O2, O5, S37, then form a Perpetual Loop between the GOT Terminal and the S37 Positive Outtake, we’ll only exhaust 252 of the solar cells. The depletions will be uniform, and restricted to known sectors.”

Malcolm is also doing calculations from the laser screens. He doesn’t look up as he speaks.

“That will give us more excess power than necessary to confront the drag from Iris.”

“Yes.” The captain closes the binder. “But with the Loop, we have the option of creating a surge to replenish some used cells, instead of venting the surplus.” He swivels around in his chair. “We should begin the manoeuvre at the first opportune time.”

“That will be five hours and thirty-seven minutes.” Malcolm crosses the floor to stand beside the captain.

“Advise the crew, and have them double monitor until we correct the interference of our rotation.”

******************************************************************************

Ogma has never been to the moon.

He takes a certain satisfaction in the fact. He is the object of some good-natured banter by the other members of the council, although most of them have not made the trip either.

Ogma has been told such a voyage is expected of him, since he is the scientist of the group. Even the Head Druid, who has not only gone to the moon, but far beyond, occasionally jokes about it. Because the Head Druid has a quiet sense of humour, Ogma is never sure how serious the laughter is.

Ogma does not fear the travel, nor is he disinterested. The descriptions of the Head Druid make such a trip sound appealing. However, Ogma has a strong affinity for tradition – and the weight of tradition centres on the earth. According to Ogma, these two centuries of travel from earth are a drop in the bucket of the universe.

He often refers to examples from the past to explain his own reasoning. This causes the comment to be made that he should have been the historian of the council, instead of the expert on the sciences. His response is acute, and often times lengthy.

“You don’t realize who actually goes to these places.” If the Head Druid is present, Ogma always makes an exaggerated nod in his direction. “Male and female of the Homo Sapiens species enter their protective suits, and board an extravagant machine. They put themselves at the far end of a cylinder of all-consuming fuel.” Here Ogma will pause and look quizzical. “Then these inquisitive – and sometimes reckless – people, leave their terrestrial or lunar surfaces, and set out on a quest of knowledge or commerce.”

Now Ogma will stroke his beard.

“They use magnified eyes, and radio-wave ears. Every particle of information is ingested by computers.” Here Ogma leans forward, his eyes moving from face to face. “But what makes sense of these sensors and compilers? What is the final arbiter of all this knowledge?” A wink – one of Ogma’s knowing winks. “The irreplaceable human brain.”

Out of Ogma’s hearing, the Head Druid agrees with him totally. He points out that the anomaly of having a scientist so interested in the ways of the past, adds strength to the continuance of their traditions. Without traditions and beliefs, they can not be part of the order – the progression – which their religion and knowledge has shaped through the ages. They must never make the mistake of living in the past, but they must never make the error of forgetting the past.

If Ogma is present however – particularly at one of the full council meetings – the Head Druid allows this banter at Ogma’s expense to continue. He realizes Ogma can well use balance to his own opinionated attitude. Although Ogma listens carefully to what others say, he has no patience with unfounded speculation. He is vicious with those found in error.

It is not just travel to the moon, or any of the stations and colonies beyond, which draws Ogma’s ire. Although he ranges extensively over all parts of the earth, he does not even like the fuss and upheaval these trips cause. As he so often states: “Man can move through the air only so quickly – and it is never quickly enough.”

Ogma has not moved `quickly enough’ on his present trip, though it has taken him as close to the moon as one can get, and still be on planet earth. He is in the mountains – the familiar mountains of the Druids’ traditions and tales.

He is here because he is certain this is the place where a conjunction of knowledge, space, and elusive time will occur. If it is not already occurring. Or has always been occurring, ever since time itself became a concept.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As A Bonus – here is a link to:

APOLLO 11
IN REAL TIME
A real-time journey through the first landing on the Moon
This website consists entirely of original historical mission
material.
https://apolloinrealtime.org/11/
(Image) https //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/34/Moon_landing_sites.svg/1920px-Moon_landing_sites.svg.png

Winter In Canada With Bear And Dog And Snow

After a late winter snow storm, Grosvenor Park, North Bethesda, MD, USA.

I post this winter tale  when the snow decides to storm and the wind shakes the trees and there in nary a bird to see. It happened a few years ago, and hints at the rougher side of Nature, which is so often just around the corner in Canada.

Some years in the past, I looked after a dog whilst her owners went out of town.

Tibbit is a big, friendly dawg who likes inspecting piles of leaves. She has a long lead which her benevolent human allows to go as far as possible. She knows (better than her accompanying human) that there are treats at the end of each walk.

On Saturday I didn’t get Tibbit out until after dark. We skirted the university (where her masters work) and went up a street bordering the campus. We both liked the Christmas lights. Near the top of the street we met an inebriated gentleman warning us of a bear in the surrounding woods.

“Flush him out,” said he, “And I’ll get my 3 aught 3.”

“Get the rifle first,” I replied, and we went our respective ways.

Now Tibbit and I doubted the veracity of the gentleman, so when we came to a trail through the woods, we took it. I will admit I did peer more intently into the gloom than usual, but one trail led to a larger trail which led back to the university. We advanced without incident.

On Sunday I again walked Tibbit toward the university, though from a different direction. It was a crisp, clear day and she gamboled (as much as the leash allowed ) through the new fallen snow. Sunshine gleamed. This time we were on the other side of the campus, but our walk eventually led to a position about half a mile away from where we were the previous evening.

We followed another trail into the woods and admired the sun through the fir trees. The path was wide and sloped. It came to turn some distance away which would lead us even closer to where we were the day before.

At the top of the slope Tibbit stopped dead in her tracks. She stared and stared. She glanced briefly into the woods but mainly kept staring along the trail. I saw nothing nor heard anything (and I was intent upon both).

Tibbit did not move and made not a sound. She just kept staring.

After a solid two minutes of this I started to backtrack and she made no complaint.

You betcha she got her dog treats.

(image)buckscountyandbeyond.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Winter-Storm-1-26-15-1024×770.jpg

Sex And The End Of January (from) “Kafka In The Castle”

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(Franz & friends)

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the entries  missing from his actual diaries. A hundred years ago, it is quite possible he had thoughts like these.

Ottla is his sister. and Fraulein G is a *young* lady from the village of Zürau, where Franz is staying with his sister. In this photo, Ottla is third from the right. It is unknown who Fraulein G really was.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

25 January 1918

I can not tell (and such thoughts often consume me) whether I’ve gone after too little in life – or too much.

 

27 January 1918

Fraulein G. came to dinner this afternoon, and although we all had a good time, and the meal was pleasant, I felt that she was being too familiar with me – with us. Of course, I am taken aback when even Ottla expresses affection (her laughter, and the way she touched my shoulder a few days ago), so the fault no doubt lies in me. There can be nothing more personal than a touch – written words can be read by anyone.

Well – she is young. As much to be envied as excused. Ottla turned an indulgent eye upon us, and then I walked her home with a bit more speed than usual. We both thought it wise – at my suggestion – not to linger long at her gate. She thinks us discreet (which, indeed, we are) but she has somehow not grasped the fact that the only thing faster than the village tongues are the village eyes.

 

28 January 1918

A month ago I said good-bye to F.

 

29 January 1918

Sometimes, no destination seems far enough away.

Trump And A Soldier Walk Into A Bar

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~ Good Day to you, Mr. President.

~ Take it easy, soldier.

~ Sir.

~ You know – at ease.

~ Yes, Sir.

~ What can I get you?

~ I’m not allowed to drink on duty, Sir.

~ I’m your Commander-in-Chief. I can allow it.

~ You’d have to order me, Sir.

~ Would that work?

~ I don’t know, Sir. That’s above my pay grade.

~ Not above mine.

~ No, Sir.

~ I have billions.

~ Yes, Sir.

~ Billions and billions and billions.

~ Yes, Sir.

~ I could pay you to drink.

~ I couldn’t take pay, Sir.

~ It would be a bribe?

~ No other word for it, Sir.

~ So – what do you think of the cross-dressers?

~ Pardon me, Sir?

~ You know – cross-dressers in the military.

~ We’re all cross-dressers in the military, Sir.

~ What?

~We take off our civvies and put on a uniform. Sir.

~ Then that isn’t it.

~ No, Sir.

~ Gotcha. It’s the transgenders.You know them?

~ In truth, I don’t, Sir. Those uniforms keep things private.

~ But you must wonder about them.

~ Not for a second, Sir.

~ You don’t care what’s between their legs?

~ No, Sir.

~ That doesn’t sound natural.

~ Sir, as long as they carry a gun and got my back – I don’t care what’s between their legs.

DE

(image)a57.foxnews.com/images.foxnews.com/content/fox-news/us/2017/04/13/ap-fact-check-do-trump-mar-lago-trips-cost-3-million/_jcr_content/par/featured-media/media-2.img.jpg/876/493/1492068958122.jpg?ve=1&tl=1

Kafka Walks In A Winter Ice Storm from “Kafka In The Castle”

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I follow Kafka in my Kafka In The Castle, filling in his lost diary entries. I have him only where he really was, imagining his days. For a number of months he lived, with his sister, Ottla, in the village of Zürau, a couple of hours by train (in those days) outside of Prague. So, he had some taste of what happens outside my windows right now.

Excerpt from Kafka In The Castle:

05 March 1918

Ice storms the last two days.

It clatters into the chimney, which is quite a startling noise if one happens to be up the stairs, and going about ones usual business. The rattle and ruckus of the ice is an abrasive encounter. More so even than when it beats upon your face as you go along the road. At least there it is expected, and you can be muffled against its intrusion.

Ottla saw to my protective gear, although she did not want me to go out.

Procured, from somewhere, a wide-brimmed hat. Swathed me in scarves up to the eyes. Insisted I put on an outer leather jacket, from which the ice drops merrily bounced. But, she had nothing to offer to assist in the walking. It was, as far as I can compare, like walking through a field of fine salt.

It is not even accurate to say that I slide, for it was actually the ice underfoot which did the sliding. I would find my foot being grabbed and held. I’m sure it was what walking through purgatory would be like.

DE

(image)https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/24/0e/ae/240eaeb02816b44d8dfbe224da8f53ef.jpg

 

The Dog and The Bear

One Christmas season some years ago, I looked after a dog whilst her owners went out of town. Tibbit is a big, friendly dawg who likes inspecting piles of leaves. She has a long lead which her benevolent human allows to go as far as possible. She knows (better than her accompanying human) that there are treats at the end of each walk.

On Saturday I didn’t get Tibbit out until after dark. We skirted the university (where her masters work) and went up a street bordering the campus. We both liked the Christmas lights. Near the top of the street we met an inebriated gentleman warning us of a bear in the surrounding woods.

“Flush him out,” said he, pointing at the dog, “And I’ll get my 3 aught 3.”

“Get the rifle first,” I replied.

We went our respective ways. Now Tibbit and I doubted the veracity of the gentleman, so when we came to a trail through the woods, we took it. I will admit I did peer more intently into the gloom than usual, but one trail led to a larger trail which led back to the university. We advanced without incident.

On Sunday I again walked Tibbit toward the university, though from a different direction. It was a crisp, clear day and she gamboled (as much as the leash allowed ) through the new fallen snow. Sunshine gleamed. This time we were on the other side of the campus, but our walk eventually led to a position about half a mile away from where we were the previous evening.

We followed another trail into the woods and admired the sun through the fir trees. The path was wide and sloped. It came to turn some distance away which would lead us even closer to where we were the day before. At the top of the slope Tibbit stopped dead in her tracks.

She stared and stared. She glanced briefly into the woods but mainly kept staring along the trail. I saw nothing nor heard anything (and I was intent upon both). Tibbit did not move and made not a sound. She just kept staring. After a solid two minutes of this I started to backtrack and she made no complaint.

You betcha she got her dog treats.

DE

(photo) http://cwf-fcf.org/assets/images/resources/newsletters/wildlife-update/2009/sep09/black-bear-480.jpg

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