John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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JfZ making a mess of the web
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Thursday, November 20, 2003
Gray Spaces and the Red Army Faction

Rote Armee Fraktion
Spawned from the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Army Faction (RAF) consisted of nearly 100 members and commited acts of terrorism in Germany for 30 years up until April 1998 when a communiqué was sent to the Reuters news agency officially disbanding the RAF.

But living in (West) Germany in the 1980's, I remember them as vividly as people know the infamous name and face of Osama bin Laden now.  I had the German government's wanted posters for the RAF hanging in my apartment because I lived in Karlsruhe, the seat of their federal high court.  One of the RAF members on one of my posters was Barbara Meyer.  She peaked my interest because she didn't look like a terrorist at all.  Her husband was in the RAF and she reminded me of a German Patty Hearst.

The other day, I put my old Win98 box back together and found the archive of an old web site I had called Gray Spaces.  It is a small sample of some writing I did back in the 1980's.  I was intrigued to see I had written something about Barbara Meyer:

You've got the eyes
The cold blue steel
Like the gun clenched
How do you feel

You gain nothing
Enough men died
Though they all lied
But the dead know

She was murdered
But her last word
I swear I heard
I'm so sad that

So now I'll kill
And I'll hunt you

Reflecting nothing
My cold blue eye
My compromise
When you realize

Reflecting nothing,
Reflecting nothing,

of a terrorist
reflecting nothing
in your sweaty fist
being next on the list?

by lighting that bomb
during Viet Nam
about what went on
not the pro or con.

during your first blast
echoes from the past
her say, "I love you.
our time went so fast".

to revenge her death
until my last breath.

I look in the mirror.
can see you clearer.
is to see your fear
your death is so near.

I look in the mirror.
I look in the mirror.

15 April 1985


Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Purple, but hipper than Barney

horny, horny hippo
Melicious brought my attention to Kozo this morning.  Her email subject was "your cat can kiss my a$$".  Mock hostility from such a sweet girl is such a turn-on.

I think it was in retaliation for that lovable little kitty called NeCoRo, or maybe the funny flash file over at code16 linked in my blog entry.  I dunno.  Melicious can be a spaz at times, a most lovable spaz, though.

My recent not-so-flattering comments about Verizon even spurred her into action.  The next thing I know, a Verizon customer service rep called me.  She had Melicious with her on conference call.  At first, it felt like a collect call from a county jail.  The rep began, "I have Mel on the line ..." and for a fleeting moment, I wondered what Mel had done to get arrested.

Now, I have nearly twice the monthly peak minutes which should hopefully end the possibility that I'll get another $477 monthly bill from Verizon.  Now I know to call *228 to update and reprogram my cell for new towers.  Now I know to call #646 to find out how many minutes I've used.  I had no mobile-to-mobile plan and now I have 1000 minutes with which I'll spend talking to Melicious, and you, if you also have Verizon.

So after getting one terrible Verizon CSR, Melicious found a nice one for me.  Her name is Virginia at extension 3089, out of Tampa.  She's going to be having her first baby in May.  She is going to call me next month to make sure I'm happy.

Now, all because Melicious loves me, I'm going to be a god father. Heh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

  I'm just curious ...  When you brush your teeth, do you squeeze the toothpaste tube haphazardly in the middle or anal-rententively roll up the bottom of the tube?  Additionally, are you one of these people who put the toothpaste in a neat little dollop on your tooth brush or do you simply squeeze some onto your tongue?

I dunno.  Maybe I'm just a freak.

Note: Verizon can kiss my ass.  Their phone service sucks and their customer service swallows.

Monday, November 17, 2003
Save the manatee

Older people float less in water, 2003
I have been seriously slack in getting some exercise lately.  My favorite thing to do -- and thus, what I do most often -- is go swimming in the big community pool at the front of the complex. Most of my neighbors are pretty cool for being many decades older than me.  Some act like assholes at times.  I imagine they are no different, as a demographic, than any other group of people.  

The complex where I live right now is where we bought a winter vacation place for my mom.  It's not officially a retirement village, but then again, it seems to me nearly every residential development in Florida is a defacto retirement village.  Only about 5-10% of the residents live here all year and the vast majority of our local population come down here when the snow flies up north.  They are Snowbirds.  (Mental note: one day soon I will have to expound on the care and feeding of Snowbirds.) I think I've been slack in getting in my near-daily swimming exercise because of the Snowbirds.

I'm normally a very private person and most of my neighbors only see me during their waking hours when I go swimming or head up to the business office on an errand. Otherwise, most of them don't know I exist.  I prefer it that way. During most of the year, I can go swimming and never see anyone up there.  I can go swimming whenever I want.  In the evening, I can float in the water crucifix-style like Pink (Floyd), wait for the security lights to time off and check out the constellations of stars in the night sky. During hot afternoons, I can bring my little blue radio and play Eminem loud enough for me to hear Marshall bitch about his ex-wife while swimming underwater.

But now (sigh), it is that time of year again. Now I feel like Steve Gutenberg in the 1985 movie Cocoon.  I know where author David Saperstein got his plot outline: "When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigour". If I do bring my little blue radio, I have to bring a Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin CD so I can listen to some kind of music. It will drown out the chattering of the floating Q-tips in the pool who are catching up on a full year of gossip. If I want to swim, I guess I'll just have to smile, tolerate the usual interrogation from the pod of grannies and stop myself from tossing my little blue radio into the water with them.

Saturday, November 15, 2003
Meet Max aka NeCoRo Cat

No. Clawing your eyes out was a software bug in *earlier* versions!

  Meet Max, aka Robo Cat.  His pacific rim developers call him NeCoRo Cat.  He's one of the latest developments in robotic psychology.  According to the well meaning eggheads at Robotherapy, "Robopsychology is a new emerging field of research focussed on the problem of robots and human co-existence in the modern world, as well as psychological, sociological and philosophical consequences of interactions between humans and artificial creatures".

Ummm. Okay. I guess I'd put that description on a government research grant application too.  It sounds better than "I need a few million dollars because I want to make a furry kitty toy", right?

But the folks at Robotherapy are serious about this.  Alexander Libin, Ph.D., and Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Ph.D, even wrote a research paper about the therapeutic benefits of persons with dementia interacting with NeCoRo Cat.

For all their serious study on this subject, I'm glad someone got smart and decided to change his name from NeCoRo to Max the robocat.  I don't think you'd want old crazy people in nursing homes mispronouncing his name and telling their visiting grandkids to " go get Necro cat! " (the dead cat).  Well, maybe Stephen King might say that.

Think for a minute about the prototype development meetings over at Robotherapy.  I can imagine this conversation at the conference room table while eating Krispy Kremes and slamming down some morning Starbucks:

Dr. Alex: " What happens if the auditory sensors fail and Max doesn't respond when you call it? "

Dr. Jiska: " Real cats act that way. "

Dr. Alex: " What happens if the motor functions surge and it just spins in a circle? "

Dr. Jiska: " Real cats act that way. "

Dr. Alex: " What happens when the batteries run out and it just sits there doing nothing? "

Dr. Jiska: " I've told you already.  We're covered. "

Dr. JfZ: " What if this happens? " <--[click this]

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