Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My old barn is in bad repair. It's collapsing in on itself, has opened "vents" at the back end where the floor has decided to go on its own, and has acquired a funky, earthy smell---not altogether unpleasant. These holes, by the way, allow an entrance way for various mice to set up home over the winter months. My wife will not go into the barn during this time, I however don't mind much. I like to think of it as "Bernie's Winter-Over" place for these wee beasties. The barn is quite old now, and I think Mother Earth is reclaiming it for herself---these things happen to us all, by the way. My wife has been after me for the past couple of years to replace said barn; I always refused. I've grown inexplicably fond of this structure as I watched its brave effort to ward off the inevitable. But, I was thinking it was time now to turf it, as painful as that will be.

I approached this decision to purchase a new barn with my wife. She said, "No!" She went on the explain that now that she is retired our capital is reduced somewhat making it not as easy to spend on things not necessarily essential---or something like that. She ended this assessment by saying we'll look at it in a couple of years, or so. She's usually right on these matters---so far. I spent a time looking at the barn from the patio searching for a solution or a patch; the barn seemed to be staring back through pleading mouse holes.

You see, there's another problem involved here. I recently came in possession of a snow blower---an excellent powerful machine for firing snow from your driveway into your neighbour's yard. It works well. But since this machine is so powerful it's also quite big---for a small, rotten barn, that is. And every time we try to get something out of the barn for gardening and such, I have to take the snow blower out and park it in the middle of the driveway. Parking the snow blower in the middle of the driveway on a warm, sunny day makes the neighbours nervous, I find. They're looking at you suspiciously from the corner of their eyes. When you start it up, which I did to tune it up---just in case---the neighbourhood kids all ran home. A bit odd, I thought. If we could keep the snow blower out of the barn for now, it would all work fine, I thought. I suggested to my wife we use the machine as a planter in the summer. You could put plants and flowers on top and within the blades. It would be unique, if anything. This was a silly solution, and my wife confirmed this fact by not even venturing a response.

So I'm going to have to put on my flimsy carpenter's cap and devise a reno system for the old barn to try to breathe new life into it. I think I can do that. I might even put ceramic tiles on the sinking floor. My wife is in agreement as long as it doesn't cost more that a new barn would. That could be difficult---I'm thinking siding, and a window! Automatic doors, security cameras, LIGHTS!, a big screen TV---HD! The possibilities are limitless.

I have so many books I want to talk about. I AM going to blog every week now---since my readership has gone significantly up, by the way. I'm reading AGENT ZIGZAG by Ben MacIntyre right now. It's an excellent non-fiction book about a British spy during WW11. I finished reading his OPERATION MINCEMEAT about the same thing actually. He's such a good writer, and the stories are beyond believable even though they are true. I'm enjoying them very much. They would make great movies, by the way.

Next: Heaven and Hell---books and ideas.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


As I have mentioned many times, the modern novel is in bad repair descending into sappiness, mundane slack philosophizing, and moral dribbling. My past reading has been almost exclusively non-fiction. This genre has progressed leaps and bounds lately.
I wish to review---if you will--- one such book I finished reading a couple of months ago: PRESENT AT THE CREATION by Amir D. Aczel.

This is the story of the Large Hadron Collider, its construction, cost, purpose, and controversy. I enjoyed it immensely, although the mathematical science data eluded me, I must admit. Briefly the Large Hadron Collider is a project of CERN, the European Organization of Nuclear Research. It's a 16.5 mile-long circular tunnel under the French-Swiss countryside where they release protons in opposite directions and with the help of many huge magnets whip these protons up to the speed of 99.999999.1 percent of the speed of light( why they can't achieve the speed of light---186,000 miles an a second---check Einstein's Relativity), and then smash them in a purposely head-on collision. How cool is that? What comes out of these collisions are numerous and sometimes puzzling mini particles, which the scientists study to their hearts content. They're hoping to find the Higgs boson which is a particle---in theory only---that is suppose to supply all other particles with their mass---the God particle, so named. They don't even know if it exists! and they spent billions of dollars constructing this race tunnel to find it. If, however, they do find it, this will give them a huge understanding of how the universe came to be. Stephen Hawking, the huge brain in the wheelchair, doesn't think they will find it and bet a sum of money to that intent.

It's all very complicated when you get into the details of this scientific jumbo, and although I get the gist, I'm always tongue-tied when I try to explain it. I easily forget the details which are many, for sure.

But I can't help thinking that this is just a smash-up derby, a demolition derby, if you will, propagated by the upper echelon of brain power, but a smash-up derby nevertheless. Maybe like your beer-soaked Friday night at the car race track where Jake and Bubba smash their old wrecks in a head-on for the amusement of the rowdy crowd?

As a child---and I would venture to guess this would be the norm for many other men--- I would play with my dinkies, model trains, etc., and arrange them in a semblance of domesticated harmony and bliss. "It's a beautiful day in Sunnydale today." Then after perusing the tranquil scene I would derail the train and have myself one smash-up upheaval that would reduce "Sunnyday" to ruins. It seemed somewhat satisfying. It has to be an innate genetic thing with boys, I don't know. I just wonder if this Hadron Collider thing is the same only at a higher meaningful level---if there is a meaning.

So I thought up a scene where these scientists are getting ready for the latest smash-up of protons. In this scene are five scientists: Ernst Gerbalvheel, Germany; Horst Blitzberger von horreshitten-Kurtz, Austria( he received the Nobel Prize for spelling his name rapidly without error FIVE times!); Ivan Illiitchenen Ivanostanlasov, Russia; Bert B. Bucket, UK; and Studs Sneed, USA. Dialogue goes this way:

Ernst, you're here! we're almost ready. Jeez, I'm shaken, man.
(laughs) What are we smashing today there, Horst?
Proton A(abracadabra), with Proton B(Bennyhill). Goddam, it's going to be epic. Epic!, Ernst.
Did I hear ya all saying we're smashing today?
Yep, Studs. Proton A and B. Classic, man.
Hey, Bert, get the snapps. We going to have a mash-up today. uhha. Weeehee.
Vodka for me, Bert. I love destruction with a buzz. Yukkkkk.
You Russians, Ivanostich.
Let's go!
I'm so goddam excited!
I can't feel my legs!
I can't see! I can't see!
My heart's pounding!
Let go of my hand! You're hurting me, Horst.
Here it is....the collision! NOW!!!
Yaaaa, yaaaa, Holy shit! Did you see that?!! Holy shit!
High fives all around there, boys..........

Anyway, Perhaps the Large Hadron Collider will answer all our questions about the origins of the universe, but I doubt strongly if this explanation will make this sorry world a better place to live for all.

Next post: Some truly awful and troubling modern novels.