Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carlo's Day

Carlo woke up with an anxious sensation. He tried to ignore it and switched on the reading lamp above his head. He read a few pages absently. He realized it was futile and reluctantly got out of bed, something was pressing on him.

He went downstairs, saw a note on the table. It was written in the hand of his wife. Carlo discussed with himself and decided that he would read it later. He saw his shoes, slipped them on and went out to collect his mail.

He walked back into the house sorting a thick bundle of letters. When he entered the front door he fixed on the wall before him. He stared at the pictures grouped up in front of him - his friend Art, his brother in law David, his brother Al, his niece Alma. He remembered tomorrow was Art’s 81st birthday, he thought of the rendevous he had made with Art’s wife for tomorrow. He had told her he would call today to fix an appropriate time.

He felt a pang of sadness and doubt. An anxiety rose up in him. Carlo sifted through the mail, picked out a brightly colored envelope and began opening it. It had no return address and for that he chose it. It seemed to correspond to his feeling. He pulled the letter out of the envelope. The page contained just one word, large and precisely written, it covered the entire page. It said HAPPY. He quickly looked up again scanning the photos on the wall.

He looked at the page for a long moment. HAPPY. It was part of what he felt but there was a sensation much larger lurking behind it. There was a second page to the letter. Carlo wasn’t curious. He had no desire to look at that second page. He already knew what it would contain. He wanted to stay with just the word HAPPY.

Carlo turned his gaze away from the letter. His hand containing the letter fell heavily by his side. He stared at the photos hanging in front of him. He seemed to be divining some minute detail contained within them. He felt the anxiety rise, it spun around his brain before descending and coursing through the rest of his body.

He walked to the living room and sat down. He took the letter he had opened and turned to the second page. It contained a single number written over and over in large colorful script. 80, 80, 80…

Today was Carlo’s birthday. He was eighty years old. It seemed like an enourmous number. It seemed it had come upon suddenly, but he realized it had taken an entire lifetime. He breathed. He reflected. He wondered. Sometimes he felt sage, grateful, aware of the many good deeds he had witnessed and performed. Other times there was sadness, and doubt. He was anxious when he thought of his picture with the others on the wall of the entrance to his house.

He sat with the letter in his hand for a long time staring at the numbers covering the page before him. Eighty, for him it wasn’t a terminal number, but he knew it was close. He put the stack of letters down and thought of Art’s wife - Judith.

He needed to call her. Tomorrow was Art’s birthday. Last year they had all went out to dinner for Art’s 80th. He remembered them laughing at having made it so far in relatively fine form. He remembered the look in Art’s eye when they were singing happy birthday. Behind the laughter was the look of the anxious sensation Carlo was feeling right now.

He dialed the phone. No one answered for quite a long time.

- hello

- yes hello Judith, it’s Carlo.

- oh Carlo, I was just thinking of you. Happy Birthday.

- yes, yes Happy Birthday. Last year Art, this year Me. I guess I’m always just one step behind him. And if that’s the case this looks like it will be my year.

- don’t say that Carlo. Anyway, are you still coming with me tomorrow to visit Art, or should we just meet up there.

- No, let’s meet up first, I can’t go alone. It’s too sad.

- okay Carlo we’ll go see him together. It will be better that way, I’m pretty sure that’s how Art would like it. I can’t believe just last year we were all laughing together. It’s weird, one day laughing, two months later we’re not. Something just happens and it’s all gone.

- that’s whats making me so worried, I just keep seeing all the memories disappearing. It’s like when we cease to exist our memories are erased with us.

- Carlo, stop. Please.

- But what will become of all the memories I am.

- I don’t know Carlo, perhaps they just become some sort of energy. You’ve been a good man, you’ve created good feelings, happy memories. Think of that as energy, in the mean time remember what Art always said - Carpe Diem. And it’s your birthday today dammit.

- Okay Judith. What time do you want to me come get you tomorrow.

- Well the cemetary closes at 5, so come over for lunch and we’ll go from there. In case you change your mind and want to go alone, just leave me a message and I’ll meet you over there. Art’s in plot number 73842, you’ll need to talk to the man at the gate before you can get in.

Carlo hung up the phone and sat there looking at the letter opened before him. HAPPY. He breathed deeply, got up and prepared for the day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hanks Ongoing Future

Hanks future arrived the other day. He’s in it right now.

It’s raining out. The windows are still open in a last attempt at forgetting it’s late fall, but the ‘a bit more than cool’ breeze blowing in won’t even allow that illusion any longer. You see Hanks future came with a certain amount of clarity. At least, he told himself, he had seen it coming.

In his moments of self professed clarity he would often see himself lying in an almost empty, carpeted room. There was an strange sense of order that came from the emptiness he found himself surrounded with. Within himself he felt a void that he couldn’t precisely place though it seemed rooted in a nostalgia for something that never existed. At times it came with the warmth and odor of a woman. Though that could have been just a whiff of the birthing process that he pictured himself in.

Hank readily acknowledged that he was a victim of false promises and exaggerated claims. He was less forthright with the fact that on occasion it had been him at the origin of those claims and promises. Whatever their origin, there was no longer any denying he had been living a clouded existence filled with noise and bluster.

Now there was no more psychiatric babble or ladder climbing dancers. This was the future. He was in it. It was as silent as death. It was dark and fecund. There was only the sound of breathing. In Hanks case that was a rasping, rattling, in and out that kept weakly pronouncing that something was still clinging to life.

In this future it was silent. Hank was alone. After one, there was nothing left to count. In his exagerrated states Hank would pass the time counting – one, one, one, one… just until it became limitless. He would feel exalted, graced, but eventually he had to stop. Immediatly a wave of nostalgia would wash in and Hank realized clarity had come with a stiff price.

Breath in, breath out. Breathing in the pain was like diving under a wave. It washes over and another is before you. Dive under again, and there’s another, over and over again. In this future it’s all he could do, breath in breath out.

Hope it would pass. Hope it would get better. Hope grace would be bestowed. Hope in, hope out. Limitless.

Seamlessly Integrating Endless Conflict - for Fun and Profit

I just friended my childhood sweet-heart on facebook. Drole le vie, je dit ca parce que je suis en train de making moves on my current gal at this very moment. In short it made me think of something to do with determining the critical path. But that isn’t what I want to tell you.

I friended the old neighborhood girl and then went to check out her story on facebook. Not much different than most, husband, kids, friends, family. Her son is in the army somehow and there was a post that he was away somewhere learning to fire a FGM-148 Javelin. It’s a shoulder fired missile. There was a video attached from you-tube which showed a field demonstration of the latest Raytheon/Lockheed Martin (Hughes/Martin Marietta) must have weapon. Wow.

Thinking back to my childhood and that sweet little girl up the street, I remembered that having fireworks gave you a standing on the block. The bigger they were the higher your standing. Fireworks were good for getting girls. But at the time fireworks were not so much illegal, as expensive. So after seeing that rocket fired I was curious how much that little FMG-148 Javelin missile was costing us. And really what was the son of my childhood crush doing so far from his home blowing up expensive vehicles of someone he doesn’t know.

Well the cost was, of course, enormous - $125,000 for the launcher and $40,000 per missile, plus the support and repair and blah blah blah. In any case since the first missile came online in 1996 there have been approximately 30,000 missiles produced and the total project cost has been $4,5 Billion dollars.

But that isn’t that shocking. Just like banks receiving billion dollar benefits, it's just how it is nowadays, and who are we to ask how or why. What I came across looking for the cost of this little military jewel (it does has rave reviews from its producers and end users) was, however, a bit more shocking, .

Smell this – it stinks.

I googled: FMG-148 Javelin cost. The second hit had a figure in it and I went there for more detail. It turned out to be the Call of Duty Wiki site.
Call of Duty (a series running since 2003) is the popular video war game all the kids play on the x-box and playstations etc. (it’s 2010 edition - Call of Duty/Black Op’s - held the record for the largest ever entertainment launch in history for any form of entertainment. Sales from the game worldwide reached US$650 million within five days after its release. That record was broken by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.). This video game site has all the detailed info for playing at full action. The players go to this site to learn how to use the weapons to ‘improve’ their game.

There it is - the FMG-148 Javelin – in the game it looks like and is called exactly the same as in the battlefield. The site shows how to use it and in what scenarios it is most efficient. The description of the weapon and it’s highly detailed use in ‘game’ situations is coldly similar to the description and field use laid out in the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin web site.

Suddenly I saw the young son of my old flame and hundreds like him responding to the growling sergeant assigning positions. “Sure I’ll do it, I already know how.”

It dawned on me as I read this how sick we have become. We have been buying our kids expensive games so they can sit in their rooms not only being totally desensitized to killing but actually training for war with real life weapons in actual combat scenarios. It's too complexly integrated for it to be an accident, and so the question is always begging – who is it profiting from this illness.