eor: (Default)
I have heard that the sense of smell is most closely tied to the primitive parts of the brain. I don't know if that's true or not, but sometimes smell can provoke vivid memory.

A couple of weekends ago we had a fire out back in the fire ring to burn up some of the bamboo and brush that has accumulated from our attempt to make a garden. We burned a lot of wood of varying qualities, creating a lot of ash and coals. Usually, with campfires, I just let them burn down leaving as little ash as possible, but since we were going back in the house and the fire regulations say it has to be completely out, I ended up letting it burn as much as I could then repeatedly hosing down what was left, producing massive clouds of steam and smoke.

The next morning I came out to clean out the fire pit. As soon as I dug into the coals, I was seven again.

The smell of the burnt timbers, the melted snow, the distinct stench of a fire that has been driven down by water, fighting to the last. It was a cold mountain January when our barn burned. My mother was home. Upon seeing the smoke coming out of the barn, she broke a window, climbed through it, and released all the animals out into the field, and ran in the house to call the fire department. Only later did she notice the gash on her arm from the glass.

The fire department couldn't save the structure, but they battled hard to keep the front end from burning because there was a gas tank sitting in front of it and they didn't want that to go. They set up a pool like structure to pump out of, sent one truck down the road 3/4 of a mile to get water from the pond, then back to dump it in the pool, while others pumped the water onto the fire. When I got off the bus from school to start my walk up the road I notice how funny the pond looked with a hole in it and the ice sitting on what looked like nothing. I didn't think of it at the time, but it was like the water was the victim of an alien abduction. It might be a primitive way to fight a fire, but that's what you do when the nearest hydrant is 10 miles away.

The chickens with icicles stuck to their feathers ended up in the basement, where despite all the tales of stress stopping laying, they produced eggs the next morning. The cows took up residence in the garage. The rest of the animals took a ride into town where they were then boarded. Hay had to be bought and brought in by the pickup truck load.

That smell lingered in the air.

Still, it wasn't as bad as the last fire on the same site. The story was that fire started in the barn, back in the times when bucket brigades where the only way to fight fires and a dug well was no match for a hay barn on fire. They stood in the shed and watched the barn burn. Then they stood in house and watched the shed burn. Then they stood outside and watched the house burn. The only thing that remained was the stone well, which still was cool and full of water and snakes in my time.
eor: (greenscreen)
Before the Berlin Wall fell, I had a portable cassette player. (You kids remember what those were?!) This wasn't a walkman, this was a little bigger than Spock's tricorder, but shaped much the same. Best of all it could work on batteries or plug into the wall with a detachable cord! It had a speaker, but I always used the headphone jack.

I sat in front of the fuzzy green screen terminal nursing a poor understanding of COBOL until my eyes were destroyed and I needed glasses. The process was always the same: type for a short while, submit the job, sit and wait for the job to crawl up the queue, get error messages, debug, repeat ad nauseam. Student jobs always had the lowest priority so at times the wait bit could last better than two hours. Then the moment of ecstatic joy, the job made it to #1 in the queue: executing. Over all too soon, a status of how many cards were read and a list of errors. Yes, this machine still thought it was reading punch cards. An 80 column character limit on lines because that's how many holes you can fit on a card.

Afternoons would find me waiting in line for a place to sit. When others gave up the ghost I would float into their spot pale as Casper. I would show up early on Saturday mornings to get a seat in the tiny room. Plug in, put my headphones on, and begin. I might leave for lunch. I might not. The routine was always the same. Listen, wait, flip the cassette, listen, wait, flip back to side one. Sometime after noon or night I'd go home or down to the pay phone.

"Every one is a super hero,
every one is a Captain Kirk,
with orders to identify,
clarify, and classify"

I was terminally in love.

The Wall fell. Schools, states, and computer languages came and went like autumn leaves. But I still wear the glasses I earned that year. And I still prefer to program on a green screen.

"Down the beaches hand in hand,
twelfth of never on the sand.
And we said we'd be the pirate twins again
In the freezing rain of the Eastern Bloc"
eor: (Somefriendslast)
I mentioned in my review of "Future Boston" that I had personal reasons for liking the books, apart from those which might be common to other readers.

Some of those reasons are here. )


Aug. 17th, 2006 09:50 pm
eor: (Default)
I'm not sure what I like most about this site, but I wanna make my own sword.


eor: (Default)

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