Kaycee (Last time)

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:54 am

This’ll likely be my last Kaycee link: A Beautiful Life, an Early Death, a Fraud Exposed, a story in the New York Times.

And I’ll be posting again soon. I’ve been mighty busy, making what my boss calls “Batman’s computer” for our customers as well as laboring in the garden. An earthen oven is in the works… pictures to follow.


The Fellowship

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:45 pm

Am I patient? Yes. But not nearly patient enough.

Fellowship of the Ring trailer is here. The movie’s out in December. Followed by the second the next December. Followed by the third the December after that.

Kaycee Finale

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:08 am

As complete a summary of the whole Kaycee mess as you’ll find, from the man closest to it all.


Death’s not always the worst

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:23 am

If you read Kaycee’s last day, you might also want to read a real-life account of a young girl’s last moments.

Sometimes, death is not always the worst option.


What’s reality, anyway?

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:51 pm

I was had.

There’s no other way to say it. For over a year, I was taken in. I tend to be pretty good about spotting things like this. It’s hard for someone to lie to me for any length of time, because I can remember the smallest details that other people forget. When these small details conflict, I see it. I can also spot plot holes in movies and stories pretty well. I have a knack for sensing surprise plot twists before they happen (This has ruined many a good movie for me, especially when I predict the surprise ending from the trailers, like Sixth Sense. The only movie I recall fooling me, and it was so good it fooled me *twice*, was Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.). Still, this time I fell.

But I wasn’t the only one. I was fooled reading the journal and exchanging email. Others were fooled over the telephone and the postal mail as well.

It came to light over the weekend, while I was thankfully away from the internet, that Kaycee Nicole, the young woman I grieved over last week, never existed. The person who’s journal I read, who replied to my email, who talked to others over the phone and exchanged handwritten notes and gifts with them was a construct.

I was mighty surprised to see what had been uncovered by my fellow members over at Metafilter, but I wasn’t shocked. (For a summary of events, visit here.) Juswt Sunday, I was in the garden weeding, when the Carpenter’s song from Kaycee’s final entry popped into my head. That got me to thinking about how perfect that entry and the ones leading up to it were. How perfectly scripted. Of course, I didn’t think it was because they actually were, but maybe because she was preparing hereself as well as us for her departure. Or, I thought, maybe they were pre-written, and her mother (who was a vital part of Kaycee’s journal and who had her own adjunct journal) fed them to us as Kaycee wished.

Nope. Kaycee was just her mother Debbie’s brainchild. Every word, every image, every object, and maybe every voice came from Debbie.

So, I’m left with two possible reactions. I could become ever more cynical and cautious, and check out everyone’s story in depth before I interact with anyone. That’d keep me safe for getting needlessly emotionally attached again. Or I could consider the emotions I’ve felt and the energy I’ve spent keeping up with her to be my latest payment of an optimism tax and move on, knowing it could happen again.

I’ll take the latter.


Sad Cat

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:27 am

Ladies and gentlemen, if you look to your right you will see a sad, sad cat.


Larkfarm Turns Two

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:56 am

To no fanfare, Mike’s Weblog at Larkfarm turned two this week. His weblog continues to be the best one out there, and his entire collection of pages provides me with endless inspiration. Congratulations, Mike!

Kitten Picture

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:29 am

To help balance out the heavy writing earlier this week, I must point to the cutest kitten ever.


Bittersweet Story

Filed under:General — eric @ 11:01 am

Here’s a bittersweet news item I found today while browsing the newspaper for the town where I went to college. A former student of mine, Alex Franklin, has become Socorro High School’s valedictorian. His grandmother was just given one week to live, so the school arranged a ceremony so his grandmother could witness. His grandmother is a wonderful woman, a survivor of the atomic blasts in Japan.

Alex has grown into a fine upstanding young man, as well. As his interview states, in Junior High he was not exactly a model student. I taught him at a small private k-8 school, full of a diverse mix of hyper-intelligent professor’s kids and poor Navajo children. It was a catholic school, but the student body was not. Alex was a sixth grader when I taught him, just beginning the travel through adolescence. He had the same trouble focusing that I had at that age, and I took a kinship to him (With a class of eleven students, I actually took a kinship with them all.). His class was my favorite, as they had just emerged from elementary school wide-eyed and full of promise. I taught them math and social studies, and every day I could see their brains turn on to new ideas and ways of thinking. Every new concept in math was an adventure. We started the year reviewing multiplication, and by the end they had a taste of calculus(!). Alex didn’t have the self confidence that he does now, but he was eager to learn and excited to demonstrate the new things he mastered. When I’d see him at a restaurant, for example (it was a small town; this happened often), he’d come over and tell me of his newest conquests. This happened even several years after I taught him. I’m very happy (and proud) to see that he carried this into high school and rose to the top.

I felt a special connection to his family. His mother was in charge of student accounts when I started college. I arrived without a penny in my pocket, naive as can be, expecting to apply my grants and scholarships toward my balance and pay off the rest through the year. The system doesn’t work that way, and I very nearly wasn’t allowed to take classes. She felt for me, far beyond what her position should have allowed her, and created loopholes for me. I worked my way through, holding down several odd jobs at a time while taking 18-24 hours a semester. At every turn, she was there for me, writing letters to the administration waiving certain fees, deferring due dates, finding emergency loan money when I couldn’t buy books. She was my lifeline, keeping me in school when the system wanted to throw me out. She retired my senior year (well, the second of three… I earned three degrees in five years, and due to the absurd number of hours I’d racked up, I was a senior my third year), but by that time I had become the chairman of the student body. I was a voting member of both the faculty council and the institute senate and was in a position to change the system to make things easier for those who followed me. I graduated and took the teaching position, and when I found out Mrs. Franklin’s son was in my class, I knew that I had to be the very best teacher he’d ever had, if nothing else to return the effect his mother had on me. I don’t know if my effort had any bearing on his becoming valedictorian, but I’d like to think so.

Mystery Force

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:47 am

As our probes are sailing across (and out of) the solar system, they’re slowing down faster than they ought to. Perhaps we don’t know all there is to know about gravity.


Filed under:General — eric @ 3:42 am

The St. Louis Blues have made things hard on themselves by losing the first two games to the Colorado Avalanch. Now, they have to win four before the Avs win two. It could happen.


Chinese mummies

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:13 pm

The celtic mummies found in western China have gotten a lot of attention over the last few years, including a feature spread in National Geographic. Canadian Magazine Saturday Night has a wonderful follow-up article, going into the behind-the-scenes action the other articles have missed.

Bye, Douglas Adams

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:04 pm

I’d wanted to write this yesterday, but just got too busy.

I am a bit of a reader. I’ve always been that way, going to when I first learned to read. I was taught by my mother, even more of a reader than I am, before I even began kindergarden. I couldn’t begin to guess how many books I’ve read, and they’ve been from all over the Dewey Decimal System. When asked which author, living or dead, has influenced me the most, the answer has always been (well, since high school) Douglas Adams. So, yesterday’s news was terrible for me.

I began, of course, with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read each of the volumes as it was written, devouring them all. Great classical literature, they’re not, but they don’t pretend to be. They’re full of loose ends and improbable plot twists. But they’re also my favorite. In these books, Adams showed me that humor can be found in the most mundane of things by turning them upside down, inside out. What’s the secret to flight? Throwing yourself at the ground and missing, of course! (The key is getting distracted by something right before you hit.)

By the time I got to college, I knew that the series actually began as a BBC radio series and had watched the TV adaptation several times through. I’d wanted to do radio drama myself, and I discovered during orientation weekend that my new school had a free-form closed-circuit radio station that gave away DJ slots for the asking. One of my newly-met fellow freshmen (Shawn, whom I was to later marry to Gypsy) had the BBC scripts, so we got people together and did the show ourselves. I was in charge of the operation, mixed sound effects, and narrated (”… with Eric Wagoner as ‘The Book’…”). I still have the cassette tapes we made — they’re awful. But we had a great time, and people actually listened to us. From there we went on to do The Hobbit (I wrote the adaptation myself) and most of BBC’s version of The Lord of the Rings. Later, we did a few scripts from Firesign Theater and quite a few wonderful episodes of The Goon Show. Our senior year, we re-did Hitchhiker’s, and these were much, much better. A few weeks ago, I discovered that some of my friends who helped with that last go-around got a new bunch of folks together and did it again this Spring.

Adams’ treatment of the Hitchhiker’s story taught me quite a few things. Unlike most stories that have been adapted for different media, Adams’ didn’t worry about canon. The four adaptations (there was a text-adventure computer game, as well) each began at the same point, but quickly diverged. Most of what happens in the radio series never appear in the books (and vice versa), and while the studios tried to keep the TV show true to the book, it too diverged. The game has its own storyline altogether. There’s a framework that kind of holds them altogether, but barely. His publishers were put off by this (”But the readers expect continuity!”), but Adams kept true to himself and we’re better for it.

He wrote other books, of course. His two Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency book were a whole other sort of lunacy. I wished he-d written more in the series. Last Chance to See should be required reading for everyone — the scene where he recounts being served a pregnant river dolphin at a banquet made me cry and stands out as one of the most memorable passages I’ve ever read. He recently collaborated with Terry Jones (of Monty Python) on the fantastic multimedia (book, computer game, and website) Starship Titantic. He also wrote several episodes of Tom Baker-era Doctor Who.

His humor style has greatly influenced mine. His unique way at looking at the world has influenced my vision. His refusal to get locked into a style, defined by publishers or our expectations, has helped me keep my options open. He will be missed.

Sad, sad day

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:25 am

Oh, it’s a sad, sad day.

One of the greatest things about reading someone’s journal is you get to, for a little while, be that person. Or imagine it, anyway. It’s also one of the worst things. I’ve been reading Kaycee Nicole’s journal living colours (a diary of survival) since she began. Fresh out of high school, she had a terrible cancer. She documented the ups and downs and shared with us her incredible spirit. Just a few weeks ago, riding high from a successful bone marrow transplant, she looked like she’d won. Then she shared with us the news that while the cancer may have been beaten, the toll it took on her body was too much. The last couple weeks have been nearly too painful to read as she set about finishing life on her terms. Painful or not, I won’t be reading her story any longer. Yesterday, after writing an especially poignant entry, Kaycee passed away.

I’m going home. As Marjorie said yesterday, I hate crying at work.

First Harvest

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:51 am

While I was away over the weekend, the garden decided it was time to harvest. Everything waited for me to get back, though the broccoli did open a bit. Last night I blanched and froze three quarts of snow peas and eight quarts of broccoli. The rutabegas are beggin’ to be pulled, too. It may have warmed up too much for the cauliflower, as they’re not forming heads yet. It’s been really hot, nearly ninety, and extremely dry this month. The summer seeds are sprouting much more slowly than they ought to.

The Britannica Boy Speaks

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:38 am

I got email from The Britannica Boy!

Over a year ago, I mentioned the Britannica Boy in passing, wondering where he’d gone off to. Mike Gunderloy of Larkfarm picked up the question for inclusion on his wanted page. It was revealed by one of his readers that the Britannica Boy was played by Donovan Freberg, son of comedy legend Stan Freberg. Over the weekend, after (I’m guessing) doing a vanity search, Donovan wrote me. I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing the email:

Watch who you call twirp… ;)

–Donavan Freberg

AKA- The Britannica Boy

jeeze will I never live it down?

I’m not really like that in real life…it’s called ACTING people

After nearly two years, this weblog has finally paid off. I got email from the Britannica Boy.

(OK… to be fair [after all, I’m an actor, too], I got email from the actor who portrayed the Britannica Boy. Should Donovon ever do another vanity search, he’ll know that I empathize with him. Hey, Donovan, my college buddy Matt Goolsby does a killer impression [that nearly got himself killed] of the Britannica Boy. Or did, before he got old and fat.)


A Lament for Adams

Filed under:General — eric @ 11:53 am

A Lament for Douglas Adams, by his friend Richard Dawkins.

Douglas Adams

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:09 am

Oh, of all the horrible things to come back to today. Douglas Adams, rest in peace.


Wacky Ad

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:04 am

A classified ad in the Flagpole, Athens’ alternative rag:

EARN BIG $$$. THIEF OF TIME. Best-selling author of Discworld series seeks swindler of seconds. Punctuality a must. Previous exp. w/spatial anomalies a + but not req. Reply: www.thiefoftime.net. THIEF OF TIME: The riotous new novel from Terry Pratchett. (AAN CAN).

That wacky Pratchett!

Goin’ to the chapel

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:25 am

I’m off in the morning to Savannah to marry my good friends Steve and Amy. The wedding’s Saturday morning. Before that, we’ll eat luxuriously, ride a horse-drawn carraige through town, and sleep in a great B&B. After that, we’ll fill ourselves with fresh crab and ride a boat to follow the dolphins. And I’m sure there’ll be other fun in there as well. I didn’t write the bulk of this ceremony, but when I get back I’ll post it for you all to read.

Chris didn’t think my clothes were good enough for this wedding, so she saw to it that I have a whole new wardrobe. I don’t think I’ve had this many new clothes at one time since I first started wearing them.

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