From the Sky - Part III

From the Sky - Part III

By James M. O'Meara, © 2009

(Need to catch up on From the Sky? Just click here to read Part I or here to read Part II!)

Contorni - Funghi Trifolati

Funghi Trifolati...

Has it really been a week since the last time we talked? Well, since I talked…and you listened. I still find it hard to believe that anything I say would interest you. Of course, it's not me you want to hear about, is it? Don't shake your head, it's true. We both know it. It's the story I'm telling that has your attention. I do have something juicy to share with you, though, if you'll indulge me.

I was nearly arrested a few days ago!

Can you believe that? Nearly slapped in cuffs and hauled away in full view of the neighbors!

No Cognitive Defect XIV

No Cognitive Defect - Part XIV

By James M. O'Meara, © 2009

(Need to catch up on NCD,? Just click here!)

Blue Nude...

She sat on the couch for half an hour, trying not to worry, telling herself that any second now she'd hear the porch door open and Wilson shouting from the kitchen: "Anita! Help me escape from this parka!"

The only sound she heard, other than the wind rushing around the house, was the occasional crack of firewood popping in the fireplace.

Another intense chill swept through her, the third in just ten minutes. She was probably running a fever. Her hands and feet felt like blocks of ice.

Something bubbled up from her memory …something her doctor said last year, during a post-transplant follow-up …something about raw vegetables. Food poisoning. Salmonella. She'd said she was going on a vegan diet and showed him the research she'd cobbled together: A copy of a colorful vegan food pyramid, with a small cap of fats at the top, all the veggies in the center, and a broad base of grains at the bottom. She handed over an article on nutritional supplements, as well as the first week's diet she'd carefully planned. Her doctor gave everything a quick look.

So...what's in a name? Death, if you're a pig in Egypt...

No matter what you call it ...a nasty lil' bug!
No matter what you call it ...a nasty lil' bug!

The Egyptian government has ordered the slaughter of 300,000 pigs to ward off swine flu.

In a related story, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bowing to pressure from the pork industry, will no longer call the disease sweeping the globe "swine flu."

Instead, they will refer to the virus as influenza A/H1N1.

There is no evidence that pigs have caused a single flu infection in any humans.

"Oh, the ignorance! What a shame!" lamented a WHO spokesperson. "Every pig in Egypt will die just because this disease was called 'swine flu!'"

A proposal to change the name a second time from A/H1N1 to "Attorney Flu" was narrowly defeated after the American Bar Association threatened to sue.

* * *


Unemployed...or just doing their part to boost profits?
Unemployed...or just doing their part to boost profits?

"Job Cuts Avert Catastrophic Quarter as Profits Excel" screamed a headline I read today at the Bloomberg website. In a nutshell, because companies across the world are eliminating jobs in bucket loads, they are lowering their labor costs. That's boosting their profits. Of course, the disaster these companies have averted isn't averted at all. It becomes a blizzard of catastrophes, one for each household which loses a wage earner to job cuts. That's 5.1 million catastrophes in the United States alone since 2007.

I suppose it is a matter of person's catastrophe is another's windfall.

Here was another great Bloomberg headline: "Smallest U.S. Wage Gain on Record Is ‘Upside for Profits." It's in the same vein...for those folks who still have jobs, wages went up at the lowest rate on record. Wages are a big part of the operating expense of any business, so keeping the lid on wages helps the bottom line.

The quick and ugly recap: Companies are beating profit expectations by beating up their employees. It's a curious act of self-cannibalism, as the very people losing their jobs or having their wages cut or frozen are the single most important piece of the modern American economy: The Consumer.

Building the Airplane ...

No...I haven't been on any sort of vacation. (The annual pilgrimage to State College not withstanding).

In what free time I've had, I've been trying to finish up the current "Act" of No Cognitive Defect. Two "Acts" have been completed so introduction of some of the major characters and setting the scene was the first. Next came a trip to the past to establish some history. The current "Act" will leave most of the characters in peril while I recharge my batteries. (I don't think I'll be "recharging" for very long...I really want to keep this moving).

In the course of doing this project ...of writing the first draft of a novel online, warts and all ...I've begun to discover a bit about how my process works. Many writers work like sculptors...they throw a big mess of clay in front of them and carve away to release the sculpture that was "...already there, waiting for them."

That doesn't work for me.

I've discovered I write a novel much like I built balsa wood model airplanes when I was a kid. I lay down the underpinnings of the story much like I would lay down the bare balsa ribs of a model's wings and fuselage. When I built the airplanes, a finished frame was clearly recognizable as an aircraft ...and it was not only ugly but utterly incapable of flight. It's the same thing with No Cognitive Defect. I am laying down the framework. There are pieces that read well, and pieces that read (to me at least) as clumsy and forced.

But, again, I'm building the "airframe" of the novel. When my model airplanes had their major components framed out, it was time to cover them with tissue paper, add the cockpit detail, begin the careful process of applying layers of paint, decals, etc. From all that detail work, the airplane emerged.

No Cognitive Defect XIII

No Cognitive Defect - Part XIII

By James M. O'Meara, © 2009

(Need to catch up on NCD,? Just click here!)

Black Tupelo...

Wilson swung his crutch hard at the workshop door, shattering both window panes simultaneously and sending glass fragments into the workshop.

Erica would murder him if she saw him doing this.

They'd installed the door years earlier, and Erica had cut the glass for the window panes herself. She wouldn't be at all fond of his smashing up her handiwork. They'd lucked into the door while out for a long, fall country drive on the winding roads along the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border. It was propped up against a sickly Black Tupelo, a tree which was stubbornly refusing to die, with decaying, withered branches on its northern half and blazing, red, scarlet-purple and yellow-orange foliage on its southern face. There was a large hand-scrawled "FREE" sign hanging from the doorknob. An old man in a rocking chair watched from his porch, smoking a pipe and rocking gently as they pulled over and got out to inspect the door. For months they'd been looking for something to replace the dented, heavily-rusted metal door to the workshop. Erica didn't want something store-bought; that simply wouldn't do. She wanted something with character.

"I'll know it when I see it," she'd said, and the moment she spotted the door reposing against the Black Tupelo it was clear they'd found it at last.

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: Quote of the Week (April 05-April 11, 2009)

"…He offered himself as the hostage.

That is what he would do.

It's just who he is…"

...America still has heroes.
Captain Phillips

-Gina Coggio, sister-in-law of Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama. Phillips remains a hostage of Somali pirates as US Naval forces converge on the area. (Source:

* * *

** BREAKING NEWS** North Korea Threatens U.N. With War....

A spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry reacted with rage at the U.N. Security Council's threat to unleash multi-syllable words on his nation.

"Any use of these words against the DPRK will be considered an act of war!" exclaimed the spokesman. "We will respond in kind. We will use weapons of mass alliteration. We will lash out with onomatopoeia. We will dangle participles. No mercy will be shown to the enemies of the DPRK."

On condition of anonymity, a top U.S. general said he was "deeply alarmed."

"They're talking scorched earth here. This is serious stuff. We may have to respond to any North Korean escalation of the language war with the deadliest weapons in our arsenal," said the general. "We may have to use puns."

U.S. forces were put on their highest alert, and the sound of dictionaries being opened could be heard throughout the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

"I'm really nervous," said a young enlisted man. "The dangling participles...they really scare me. I only hope our puns will be enough to stop them if war breaks out."

In addition to the escalating language war, the U.N. is considering a "targeted economic boycott" designed to discomfit leader Kim Jong-il.

"No Elvis glasses will be allowed into North Korea," said a U.N. spokesman.

There was no immediate response from North Korea on the latest U.N. threat.



* * *

UN Security Council Pretty Darned Upset with North Korea....

UN Security Council President Claude Heller announced that an official response to North Korea's launch of a rocket this weekend will soon be forthcoming. The launch may have violated a 2006 Security Council resolution.

"Security Council Members have somewhat unanimously semi-pledged to think about very nearly criticizing North Korea for launching this rocket," said Heller. "We may actually move forward with a sharply-worded written condemnation."

He warned that multi-syllable words may be used in the response.

"Hey, we're serious," said Heller. "We're the UN. And if they keep messing with us, we might even pull out the big guns: A sternly worded condemnation."

In a related story, US Navy ships recovered the North Korean "satellite" from the Pacific Ocean Sunday evening after the payload failed to reach orbit.

"Six pots of fermented Kim Chi," said an anonymous Rear Admiral. "We're trying to determine if it was a biological weapon or merely a lunch launch."

* * *

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: Quote of the Week (March 29-April 04, 2009)

"…It would be a tragedy if all of you who are so talented and energetic…if you let that go to waste, if you just stood back and watched the world pass you by. Better to jump in, get involved… and it does mean that sometimes you'll get criticized and sometimes you'll fail and sometimes you'll be disappointed… but you'll have a great adventure. And at the end of your life, hopefully you'll be able to look back and say, 'I made a difference.' "

...A positive message for youth.

President Obama speaking in Strasbourg, France, where he urged the younger generation to make the most of their opportunities. His politics and mine are poles apart, but this message to young people was spot-on. (Source:

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