Secret Agent Man: was Rick Gates wearing a wire between February 2nd and February 23rd?

Secret Agent Man: was Rick Gates wearing a wire between February 2nd and February 23rd?

Rick Gates plea agreement states:

“The defendant agrees to… participate in undercover activities pursuant to the specific instructions of law enforcement agents…”

and…

“The defendant agrees not to reveal his cooperation, or any information derived therefrom, to any third party without prior consent of the Office.”

And so the question becomes, what use is a Secret Agent Man who’s not a secret?

Once you announce it, it’s kind of worthless.

That’s, like, Blowing Cover 101.

So the only other option, as far as I can tell, is that Richard Gates III, was “participating in undercover activities.”

Past tense.

But when, you ask?

Well…

The lie to the F.B.I. that Gates pled guilty to occurred on February 1st. And any agreement “not to reveal his cooperation, or any information derived therefrom,” seems fairly useless at the time it’s being revealed to the world.

That would mean that some or all of the time between February 2nd and February 23rd, the date this plea was entered, Gates was interacting with Manafort while technically working for the government.

During that time Gates’ cut off the Joint Defense Agreement, so their lawyers weren’t sharing information. It would have, therefore, been ethical.

And given how much federal law enforcement loves surveillance and technology it is inconceivable to me that they didn’t mic him up at least once.

We’ll soon know.

Let the Mueller Show commence!

Random Audio: I blew up the weed

The soufflé is RUINED!

“Oh, no, NO! It’s the worst thing that could ever happen!”

After an amazing discovery that led to just over two days of freezing, heating, freezing, heating; old-fashioned, long hand chem notes, and near magical results – all recorded, for myself only – I had an accident.

Hearing it over a year later was almost – almost – worth it.

(Although most of it is incoherent in terms of actual words, the thing I mutter at the end is, “Okay. I gotta take a picture.”)

Random Audio: Batmish

(Need picture of Seacow to put here. We’ll work on that.)

[Batmish Secow delivered]

 

00001a-aaaaaaaa seacow

[Seacow – Attribution: Batmish]

While recording into my DVR – Digital Voice Recorder – texts from Batmish come through.

If it seems I sound unintelligible for most of the first minute it is because I am, in fact, unintelligible. I’m just attempting to read texts from quite a distance and on a crappy app.

Just before the first minute mark I begin actually enunciating words instead of simply making vowel sounds.

There is an odd interference which I have not endeavored to remove – maybe later – and which I believe is related to an infrared signal I’ve had up for a few days, but I haven’t tested that out yet.

RANDOM AUDIO: I Am Way More Obsessed with HPAI Than You

poultrydetectionsmaps

Influenza, in all its forms, is the master of mutation, making it irresistible to a “bug” junkie like me. So when the 2014-2015 outbreak swept across the country, mutating as it went, and in the end causing 48± million birds to be euthanized, with portable incinerators carted from commercial poultry factory to commercial poultry factory still unable to keep up, I was obsessed.

carcass disposal -aka composting

Skipping the multitudinous, envy-tinged detailing of gas chromatograph model specs – all of which I wanted – sampling methods, let alone my thrilling Rubik’s Cube imagining of the 18 known H (hemagglutinin) antigen and 11 known N (neuraminidase) antigen pairings, I will simply leave for posterity this moment of disapproval at the dubious methodology of our USDA and APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services.)

It’s dull, don’t listen, but doesn’t hurt me to post it. It’s like a clipping in a scrapbook that won’t mean anything to anyone but me, because although it is impossible to tell from this truncated clip, it was at this very moment that I understood the terrifying implications that the dry data and deliberately dense terminology could not obscure.

*HPAIHighly Pathogenic Avian Flu

*Poultry Trivia: Were you aware that there is actually a “national coordinator for carcass disposal issues?” Well, there is, and her name is Lori Miller, a Senior Staff Officer with USDA-APHIS, and National Coordinator for Carcass Disposal Issues.

MIT – Greatest Hits

Kick it up a notch?

Intro to Solid State Chemistry – MIT 3.091

(When MIT makes statements like “introductory level” I don’t think they have a normal concept of the term. Nonetheless, no harm, no foul. And one of their very best courses with one of the very best professors, Prof. Grossman, is also one of the most generous with texts, discussions… everything but the brain power.)

do yourself a solid.JPG

One of the very best things about MOOCs is the free textbooks (or portions of textbooks) so often included in them. A gazillion years ago, when I was in school, a science textbook averaged $150.

(And science majors rarely have the luxury of getting to buy a used textbook.)

Again, with MOOCs you can poke around. Visit. See what you like. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself. Even some subjects with work beyond what you feel you could manage in the strictest sense can still be fascinating.

(So don’t be intimidated!) There’s even a regular day quiz cheat sheet. Quiz 1; Question 1:

Thermite reaction:

The thermite reaction, used to weld rails together in the building of railroads, occurs when iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3) reacts with elemental aluminum to produce aluminum oxide (Al2O3) and elemental iron.
(a) Write a balanced equation for this reaction, using any correct set of coefficients. Depict the reaction arrow (⟶) as ‘->’.

And if you’re not too intimidated by it, do yourself a solid

Dive in!

MOOC Mania

 

I have become a certified MOOC freak. There are several different platforms for MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses – such as edX and Coursera, and happily many others are available on YouTube. (Many are available through those platforms as well as on YouTube.)

I prefer the edX platform if I use one. I have never gotten a certificate or worried about that at all, so I ride free, just for the joy of cramming my ever-curious mind.

What’s so amazing is that anyone at all can, for free, peek in at some of the most elite and incredible classes being taught today.

Harvard’s most popular course, Justice,” for instance, taught by Professor Michael Sandel, is a class everyone should at least check out. I am big on “archived” courses, because they are always “self-paced,” but Justice actually just began again for real, so check it out.

Here’s the little course intro video and text below:

Taught by lauded Harvard professor Michael Sandel, Justice explores critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites learners to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination.
The principal readings for the course are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls. Other assigned readings include writings by contemporary philosophers, court cases, and articles about political controversies that raise philosophical questions.

Other favorites of mine are Boston University’s War for the Greater Middle East taught by the amazing Andrew Bacevich – archived now at edX – and all three of the foremost Lincoln/Civil War Historian’s – (Dr. Eric Foner’s) – courses on Civil War and Reconstruction from Columbia University.

Jump in!

 

Let’s Do the Rope-a-Dope Again

MHA day and I really needed me a little Rope-a-Dope illustration to get me in the right frame of mind.

It’s a beautiful thing.


I decided that I’d post a slightly fuller picture for the record; and for the many who have no idea what “rope-a-dope” is.


This is Ali “losing” all but the last 7 seconds of 8 rounds.

That’s the fucking rope-a-dope, folks.

“Well, you’re looking at the wrong guy” Bacevich on the Middle East

 

andrew bacevich

Dr. Bacevich: “Well, you’re looking at the wrong guy.”

Col./Prof. Andrew Bacevich is never one to shove sunshine up anyone’s ass when it’s raining. He’s always been beautifully no-nonsense, and everyone who knows him and knows the price he and his family have paid for our ongoing Middle East debacles, understands that he grasps the true costs.
In this short clip where the questioner says: “I need cheering up,” Col. Bacevich answers, I think, for many of us who spend so much mental energy and time in the weeds of the Middle East.
One cannot be a Middle East scholar and cheery at the same time.

 

Orange Blossom Challenge

paganini-quote

PAGANINI: Demon possessed? Who knows. Musician Ego possessed? Unquestionably.

In college my suite-mate asked if I would play Orange Blossom Special for the big, annual sororities versus fraternities talent show. It was a huge deal, and being that Leah was a piano player and led workouts three nights a week, she was chosen to come up with our choreography and music. It was a pretty cute idea, and she asked me, a fellow “sister,” if I thought I could play Orange Blossom Special.

I barely covered my scoff. I could play anything.

(Pride cometh before a fall.)

I was pretty sure I had heard it, at least in passing, but more importantly, I knew there was not a thing in the world I couldn’t play.

As a violinist I had passed the Paganini test; which meant–

— I could play anything.

iu

I could play anything. Paganini was proof. He was the violinists’ Bar Exam.

And some random bluegrass song? Simple. I asked her to please look for the music and, most importantly, to find a recording of it I could hear. I would be fine. I understood that there was altering – each version was different – but the sheet music would give me a start and then hopefully, in a day or two, I’d have the thing down and could move onto more pressing issues. Like school. And my boyfriend.

Here’s an example – a good one – of Orange Blossom. Compare to the incomparable Paganini at the end and, musician or not, you’ll understand the differences and therefore the difficulty facing the girl who was weaned on Symphony Fare.

 

I was famous for my “playing by ear.” Even scolded from time to time on my over-reliance on it.

But even when I was being told that I was relying too much on my ear, to the point that it was detrimental to the “fundamentals” of sheet music and the vaunted “sight reading” my teachers loved so much, I still almost always had the backup of the sheet music there.

But a few things happened:

  • At least back then, and seemingly now, no sheet music exists for Orange Blossom Special.
    • Seriously. NONE.
  • Leah, our fearless leader, was also the conveyor of some messages. It turned out that the College Music department faculties she had spoken to while searching for any remnant of sheet music for Orange Blossom – and there were lots – asked her to eagerly convey to me a simple and what still came across as a somewhat desperate sounding message, even second-hand:

“If [I] could play Orange Blossom Special, there were a whole bunch of full music scholarships” out there waiting for me.

  • (I wasn’t impressed by this. I had passed that up already. I loved the violin but didn’t want to spend most of my college days in the practice room or touring. I’d spent a lifetime being tied to the violin in that way, and in college I wanted a little freedom.)

“What about the tape? Did you find that?” I was beginning to feel a tinge of impatience and even a slight dismissiveness, like a virtuoso violinist is want to become. A first chair violinist in excellent adult orchestras before most kids even knew what a violin was, I had some of those snobbish tendencies that “stars” and “geniuses” – (or those who start to believe their own press) – can fall prey to. Tendencies that this incident would start to temper before long.

“Good. The tape will be fine. Sorry you went to all that trouble, Leah.”

 

That afternoon I found an old fashioned tape recorder sitting on my bed with a cassette tape of a version of the quickly-becoming-a-pain-in-my-ass Orange Blossom Special, one the music department heads had suggested she get, and Leah herself, sitting nervously at my desk and staring at the tape recorder like it might attack her if she approached it. I did the honors, beginning to feel just a tickle of uneasiness in my belly, an unwelcome and strange sensation.  We listened to it; first together. I have a really good poker face and so I’m pretty sure Leah didn’t see that

I was fucking floored.

I was always a very “by ear” violinist. Truth be told, if you’re a violinist, a real one, by definition, you have an amazing ear and you learn mostly by ear. (The sheet music, again, was meant for backup. A backup that in this case I had severely underestimated.)

This shit wasn’t like anything I’d ever heard or played before. It was harder to play – or hear – by ear because there were an inordinate number of chords, interspersed with a weird pizzicato that could only have been played with the fingering hand, making it almost impossible to figure out what exactly was going on there.

AND THAT SHIT WAS CRAZY FUCKING FAST. (The tune, I mean.)

This wasn’t Paganini and his muse, Satan.

This was just plain old Satan.

No intercessor. No interpreter.

And suddenly all my pride slipped out of me. I was completely terrified and unsure of myself… and on a clock., with a big audience in the offing. A big audience of my friends. My boyfriend had already started buying me everything he saw with a violin on it. He was pre-bragging on me. It taught me how to be nervous. And at least a little humble.

Anyway…

Now, with my new electric, Orange Blossom Special has been haunting me again.

God help us all, I have an idea.

And for a moment, here, I will emphasize, to myself as no one else is listening, why a long damn bow and useful instrument fucking MATTER.

(The only thing I can say in favor of Orange Blossom is that the bowing is a world away easier than Paganini and his awesomely satanic bowings.)

⇒ In Paganini’s time he was so good that it was rumored he sold his soul to the devil to achieve his mastery.

I wouldn’t doubt it for a second. In fact, the first time I heard him, the same thought went through my mind. Unprompted.

I’ll say this, if Paganini did sell his soul,

the devil got a damn good deal.

 

A funny, dorky, Italian representation of that idea in “The Devil’s Violinist.” (Paganini would never be this ridiculous, but it’s funny and a good rep of the 24th of  24 Caprices, Op.1: No. 24 in A Minor

If Paganini didn’t sell his soul, then he’s also a damn good marketer and Satan is definitely kicking himself for not thinking of it first.

Here’s his/(Paganini’s) “24 Caprices, Op. 1: No. 24 in A Minor” (Sometimes referred to as “Dance of the Demons” or “Dance of the Goblins.”)

https://youtu.be/uCePRgqO-HI

Itzhak Perlman; bringing Paganini and all his devils, goblins, demons, and ghosts to their damn knees. (For a non-violinist it might not be obvious, I suppose, but this actually is miles and miles more difficult in a thousand ways than the old Orange Blossom Special. (It’s not at all the best Paganini. Just tough.) Nonetheless, Orange Blossom did serve to show me how much I had been missing, was a challenge, and is unquestionably not only extraordinarily difficult, but, better yet, extraordinarily impressive.

Brass tacks:

Orange Blossom isn’t demon possessed like Paganini, but it’s pretty cool anyway.

Also, Paganini takes a helluva lot better bow than I currently own, in every incarnation. All of it. Orange Blossom does not.

Conclusion:

  • Orange Blossom: Doable. √

 

A little Paganini fun: https://youtu.be/WV5wDqJ5WU4

 

Ninety Years Ago Today My Father Was Born

 

For some, it was hard to square his loud-mouthed, profane humanity with his genius.

That, for me, was never the problem.

We were so much alike that I certainly told him to go to hell with all the brilliant cussing skills I had learned so well from him and, I think, bested him at.

I remember the first time I told him to go to hell, in fact.

It stood out, because at that point I didn’t cuss.

I was very young and very “good;” only six years old at the time, in fact.

I remember – and can gauge my age – because we still lived on Palm Drive in Beverly Hills. (We lived there less than a year before moving to Stanley where we stayed through splitting our time between his Park Ave apartment in New York and our small stint in Upper Saddle River before the well ran dry again and we finally had to pack up all the places and I, at ten years old, became the only adult in the family.)

Anyway, we were wiring a “chandelier” of some kind over the big table in the huge dining room, me running the last wire through the ceiling with my “spidey sense perfection” as he called it, up on his shoulders, was almost through the drilled hole above when he lit a cigarette, made me lose the end of the little red plastic bump I had so carefully threaded through the wall up through the ceiling above, only to have him snap at me for him screwing the whole operation up.

Using his big head of wavy red hair like the horn on a saddle and his shoulders as a spring board I vaulted right off him onto the table, looked him in the eye and said,

“Go to hell.”

Then turned on one toe, hopped off the huge wooden table and started off, head high, when I heard him slap the table hard with his big hand – the way everyone who knew him remembers he did in his constant, big-ness that encompassed all sight, movement, and certainly sound –

and laughed his ass off.

Come back here, you little monkey,” he beamed, arms open wide for me to jump back up into, which I did, whispering the response he so loved into his ear in the middle of our bear hug, “No, daddy, I sloth.”

I had had a “chinning bar” from the age of toddler until I went off to college and we were still at “Number 5” when the “monkey”/”sloth” thing started, so I couldn’t have been older than 3 years, and was almost surely 2. Mom and I walked to the library every weekday and we had gotten some book on Strange Animals. I remember the Lemmings especially; the picture of them all jumping off the side of a cliff. Except I remember it as Lemons jumping off the side of a cliff. You know, Lemons.

 

lemons

suicidal lemons

 

Jumping off a cliff. Anyway, the book also had Sloths in it, and although I have no specific memory of them at all, I know I would just hang by my little legs upside down on the bar a lot, and one night Dad called me a “little Monkey” to which I responded, “No, Daddy. I Sloth!

Anyone who knew him would understand how he would eat something like that up, and especially how he would hang onto it as one of many little back-and-forth type lines he loved to collect with friends. If you were close to Dad very long there was probably at least one little inside joke that also served as short performance art between you. One of his closest, longest, and truest friends and Dad had a pretty good little 5-line joke they readily did for friends on whether God was black or white.

(Of course Joe won. Dad would have never continued it if the underdog position didn’t win. God was black. “Hell, it’s only fair,” Dad said when he told me about the little routine they had worked out. He was so pleased with it that he, of course, had to tell me before he and Joe were able to show me.)

“You’re a Monkey!”/”No, Daddy, I Sloth!” was, till the very end, something we said to each other almost every time we saw each other for the next 30 years.

That was my damn daddy.

And I want to wish the man who loved me, annoyed me, and raised me in the oddest way imaginable, a happy birthday!

We loved each other, and my mother – all three of us so interconnected that no force, even ourselves – could ever break that bond. Mother left the cussing to me, but although she shunned it herself, I discovered quickly that she also approved of my minimally applied directed cussing at my father.

It filled a much needed void which was not her forte.

(My mother rarely cussed, the closest thing to an actual cuss word she used even semi-regularly – the only one that wouldn’t turn everyone’s head with shock – was “bloody.” She and Dad had spent about a year in England, staying mainly outside London in a beautiful old country house where she was bored out of her wits, as her journals attest, and other than her diaries and a few pictures, the only souvenir she brought back to the states was the co-option of “bloody” into her vocabulary. The perfect non-curse word, curse word. She occasionally said “damn,” which usually elicited some shock, I’m sure she said “shit” a few times in her life, but that was rare enough that I can’t remember a specific, and if she ever said “fuck” I would have died of shock on the spot.)

Dad said “fuck” every other word. He also played up the Okie Colloquialisms in California, and it was smart. He was, when he wasn’t too full of himself, a genius at self promotion.

Love you Daddy, and happy birthday.

 

sloth1

“No, Daddy, I SLOTH!”

 

 

 

How We Play Chess: You Don’t Wanna Trade Queens With Me

extracted from the justice/how we play chess combo post on Wednesday-ish

While I – as citizen of the world – came on here to write the grand, world-altering legal theory of a lifetime; I –  as Serene – was distracted by capitalization and instead now first want to write first about “how we play chess.”

There’s also “how we solve Rubik’s Cube,” but I have yet to introduce that as a disconnected tag or inside joke that appears “apropos of nothing” and yet actually has both literal meaning and quite a bit of unadulterated fun both in terms of story value and — and, perhaps most importantly —  real life applicability for regular people. Okay, well, maybe not “regular” people, but regular, very intelligent people.

Yes, boys and girls, if you are one of the many real people out there in the world afflicted with Limitless Intelligence Syndrome or are either a card carrying member of the Intentional and Consensual Mindfuckers Organization, a devotee to their belief system, or even a person with a still closeted mindfuck fetish, we welcome you.

This is for you.

How We Play Chess

In actuality, it’s quite simple, really. The story of how it started is good but as my mind has wandered again, it doesn’t look like I’ll get to it here.

(Yes, I am one highly annoying bitch. Cute, though.)

The basic idea usually begins like it did with us – although as most good ideas, the genesis of it was really accidental – and that is by a single-order change in the objective of the game: in our case that objective shifted from putting the King in “checkmate” to putting the Queen in mate. No other rules were changed. So The Bitch – as I refer to the most awesome and powerful goddess of the chess board – still can move in exactly the same amazing ways as before, and the King is still limited as before, and everything else stays the same – but the objective shifts to going after The Bitch. Oh, as a natural consequence one other corresponding change is made; whether you choose to view it as making my original statement of a single-order change incorrect or not depends on you, but the King may be taken prisoner as the Queen was before and the Queen may not be taken but is instead required to free herself from the many and myriad entanglements of check that she so necessarily finds herself in, just as the King is required to do in the regular rules of the game.

And that, really, is what makes it so much fun and so radically changes the game.

Now, go play chess.

(Aw hell, now that I’ve more fully delineated the issue of How We Play Chess, watch this 2 and ½ minute clip again.)

“The Nerdy Looking Kid In the White Shirt”

Do you see it?

DO YOU SEE IT?

LOOK CLOSER

it’s been there all along

1390417570241-copy

I’ve been there all

along

all you have to do

is

SEE

 

 

Some more 5th Fleet action: NAVCENT

Found this one on Saudi-US Information website listed under the hashtags #nottrending #antiviral

Lucky you have me, I guess.

I was, perhaps, a bit defensive about one particular term chosen by Batmish for my otherwise ridiculously complementary bio page in his graphically extraordinaire Christmas “Art As Arson” publication; and that term was “arcane.”

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

He called me a “dabbler in the arcane.”

I’m beginning to see his point.

Swallowing Pictures

grosvenor

“Deeper” was a word my mom used a lot. Not “more deeply,” but “deeper.”

“Remember deeper.” “Question deeper.” “Think deeper.” And always, always: “Love deeper.”

Mother was big on impressing upon my memory just who was the boss. She felt that the memories of most people were not utilized as well as they could be. She said that the memory was like a dog, and wanted to be trained. In fact, often, when I asked her to take a picture of a beautiful rock formation or sunset or lake or geyser or whatever else it was I wanted to remember from our journeys together, she’d just say, “Take a mind picture.”

The first time I remember taking a mind picture was in Kodachrome Basin State Park, when we were living in Utah. I wanted her to get a shot of the Grosvenor Arch, with the sunset pouring through it like a waterfall, but she was out of film. She threw her arm around me and said, “You take a mind picture, and I’d better take one too. Yes, that’s right. This scene is just too beautiful not to be saved for posterity.”

So we stood, side by side, both awed by the beauty of the great rock formations and the once-in-a-lifetime sunset.

“Okay, my darling. Do you know what you want the picture of?”

“Yes.” With my eyes I tried to catch the colors of the over-heated rainbow flowing down through the Arches and onto me.

“Are you looking at your picture right now?”

“Yes.” I squinted my eyes.

“Do you see the colors?”

“Yes!”

“Can you see the frame?”

“Yes!”

“Do you see the picture exactly?”

“Yes, Mother, yes!”

“Good. Now concentrate with all your might. Remember every ridge. Memorize every detail. Replicate every hue in your imagination. You got it?”

“Yes! I see it!”

“Good. Then get ready to swallow it. We’re going to swallow our pictures, okay? You ready? 1, 2, 3. swallow… Now!”

I swallowed. Then giggled. She giggled too, but took two more Swallowing Pictures before she said, “You will remember this Arch forever, because you have impressed it into your mind, my darling Tami. You just took a picture that can never be destroyed, stolen, or lost. You just took a picture that you can take with you wherever you go, forever, and no one can ever take it away from you.”

It makes me wonder if she knew, somehow, how my life would turn out.

train-tracks-at-sunset-huge

I have a soul in some notebooks

 

Some people have jewels in safe deposit boxes. I have a soul in some notebooks.

I have written in journals since sometime in the first grade.

I have written all kinds of things in journals. My deepest secrets, my purest thoughts, quotes, and questions on life, truth, tragedy and comedy. Anything that comes to mind. Sometimes it’s long prose, sometimes poetry, but often just ideas, or a funny remark that someone has said. Unfortunately, I am separated from most of my journals right now. Some I will most likely get back. Others, I know, I will probably never see again. But I will always have them in my mind. Because once you write something down you’ve built a road connecting the valleys of your own brain. You lay down some actual track when you engage of the act of writing. It deepens the memory.

At least, that’s what my mother told me.

It was my mother who made me obsessed with writing everything down. I was about four years old, sitting snuggled up close to my mother at one end of the couch with her reading to me, when she paused, leaned into my ear and announced, in her most majestic, secret whisper: “Once you write something down, it is in your memory forever. Did you know that, my darling Tami?”

Wide eyed, I shook my head. No.

Her big blue eyes were suddenly a dancing circus in front of my small face.

“The act of writing is a mystical thing,” she continued. “More than the mere marks written upon a page; writing a thing down can actually bring that thing into being. It is already halfway there as soon as your pen touches the page! And understanding? Writing will rain down blessings of understanding and knowledge into your life! I tell you the truth, my little angel, the ballet of the pen is, at times, divine.”

Then Mother paused, took both of my hands between her long thin fingers, and turned me around to facing her. She leaned her head slowly in and I followed with mine, until our foreheads touched, and I looked up into the kind face of my pixie mother’s sapphire-rimmed eyes.

“But you already knew about the mystical nature of writing, of course, didn’t you, my sweet Tami?” my mother asked, smiling.

I didn’t know anything at all about the mystical nature of writing, but I don’t say so. Mother gave my nose the lightest of kisses and then kissed my forehead with her slightly puckered lips, while fluttering her lashes like butterfly wings in my hair. 

(I love her love her love her.)

Still smiling warm sunshine, she took my left hand in her right, and mimicked writing on a page.

“The beauty of writing,” she said — while not so much holding my hand as dancing with it — “is that as your fingers skate across the page making the words on the paper they are also digging new little tunnels in your brain. A new road has just been built somewhere in your memory simply because you moved your pen. You will remember longer, because you have written a thing down. But more importantly,” she whispered, pouring her fairy-blue eyes into mine, “you will remember deeper, and if you should ever lose what you have written, it will remain, forever, deep within your soul.”

She made journaling sound like secret magic. And I wanted some.

My first diary, when I was seven, was leatherish with a metal attachment that clicked to close it. But just closing it didn’t seem safe enough to me. I wanted a lock. I wanted a place where I could write everything down. Everything. Anything. I didn’t want anyone else to ever read it. It was my magic journal. I was pretty sure that dad wouldn’t snoop in my stuff, but mom would read all she could. She would try not to, but she wouldn’t be able to help herself.  

It wasn’t her fault.

She was born genetically over-curious.

So I felt that I had to consider other security plans, so that I, too, could partake of not only the mystical side of journaling, but also get new memory tunnels in my soul and roads in my brain.

There were plenty of good hiding places in and around our house, and I decided that I could move the sacred book around so that it would most likely never be found, but that still left one other worry. People were always looking over my shoulder when I wrote. Mom did it without even meaning to. I wanted to take my journal everywhere, and I wanted to record in it under any and all circumstances.. I wanted to be able to write whatever I thought at the moment without the writing affecting any of the behavior around me, but that seemed possible only if people couldn’t read what I was writing.

So I began writing the way I had before I learned better.

You see, at the age of four, once my mother realized that our five-day-a-week treks to the library had morphed into her only child learning to write, or something like it I wrote “wrong;” that is, I reversed everything when I wrote, like a mirror, right to left instead of left to right – she intervened and ordered 2 big boxes full of teaching materials and taught me to read, and more importantly, to write.

Properly. Left to right.

It was difficult, but I learned. I don’t know why I had naturally reversed everything, and it would be years before DaVinci’s mirror writing became well known, so it was worrisome to my mom. I’m left handed, but so are a lot of people, and they don’t do that. I was still allowed to write my way, right to left, but I was encouraged, first by my mother, and then by the conformism of school, to

“write right.”

It always felt forced, and to this day my handwriting is much, much prettier when I write my way. Now, with this first journal, and my concerns about bearing my soul in it, I took back up my strange habit in force.

And I think that helped me to remember even deeper.

“Deeper” was a word my mom used a lot.

Not “more deeply,” but “deeper.”

I learned to write deeper.

 

The Secret Itself is the Power: My Mother Was the Real Genius

My dad was undoubtedly brilliant, and I have loudly lionized him for the last decade, while quietly writing the story of the real genius, my mother.

And now that story will be unearthed. Step by step. Stone by stone. Just as she planned it.  Clockwork. Reproduced so many new places each step of the way that stopping it is a ridiculous thought.

She was too smart for that from the beginning, even without the aid of technology.

(Although the technological side of it does feel like a sweet coup for the Universe, one further feeling of the sun smiling down. There was a time when all things were turned against us, and this story ever getting told. Injustices piled high and lies reigned. All that has changed, and the first clue in The Dr. Suess Scavenger Hunt comes in a few hours.)

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The secret itself is the power.

So sure, once I decided that I would simply write “backwards” – completely natural for me – the issue of keeping those sacred texts safe became pressing.

I was learning to write deeper.

I was learning that writing helped me to understand what I thought I already knew. By the time I began Ms. McCann’s second grade class at Horace Mann Elementary I had seven journals hidden away in our Stanley Drive attic.

I was addicted to Annie and would scuttle between New York and Beverly Hills to see it. My dad could always get me the ungettable tickets and before long I had a sweet, red bound script on my lap and a letter from Mike Nichols himself in my little hands. Soon I would begin my own version of Annie at my school; not just producing, like Dad, but also directing and starring in it. Meanwhile journals were piling up and that began for me another problem.

My soul in my notebooks.

I realized, child  though I was, that there had to be something to placate my genetically over-curious mother who I was sure would snoop.

The answer was pretty straightforward, even for a seven year old.

I would need a decoy journal. Written left to right. Something for my mom to read so she wouldn’t keep looking and find the good stuff.

The ironic thing is that not only did mom figure out my little scheme quite quickly – in fact she had anticipated it – but she also respected it

She thought it was clever.

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She thought it was clever.

And in a truly beautiful and loving example of her extraordinary farsightedness, she also recognized the profound implications of allowing me to continue believing that I was fooling her, namely that it allowed for me a space to explore my thoughts and feelings without the self-censorship that almost always accompanies a child’s journaling.

As a bonus, I got the benefit of feeling clever in a completely harmless way, which she also understood as healthy.

And as I was a very good kid there wouldn’t be a whole lot of other avenues for me to experience the satisfaction of feeling like I was getting away with something.

In college my friend Brenna was endlessly fascinated by my backward doodles while I talked on the phone. (I didn’t doodle pictures. Instead I would write some random word over and over and over and over, mindlessly. Only backwards.)

When I finally married, despite how close – both physically and emotionally – I was to my parents, I ended up impulsively eloping since I knew they didn’t like him.

I didn’t tell my parents until the next day. “Surprise, I’m married!”

My mom’s first question was,

“does he know about the journals?”

He didn’t.

“Consider keeping them here,” was all she said.

And she didn’t just mean the ones I was writing in at the moment.

She meant the two dozen big boxes worth stacked high in Dad’s work closet that began with a little girl’s very first secret from her mother. Her daughter’s stash of secret code.

Secret code hiding in plain sight.

Box after box after box – stacked high in dad’s amazingly tall work room closet, grew month by month of my marriage, untouched except to put a new one away for safe keeping. I wrote a lot, too. Sometimes hours a day. (It should be pretty clear by now that I can write quite a lot.) By the time my parents died I had been married 10 years, and in that time the number of used up, backward written journals had more than doubled, and I had to take two boxes up into the attic to make more room.

And all that time, no one even batted a damn eye.

It makes you feel like a god, almost, to have a secret that big and that powerful. And not an egoistic god-complex, kind of god; but touched by a sweet sense of the infinite.

There was also none of the two-faced, false front thing, either. At first, I made a serious attempt not do write backwards in front of anyone. I didn’t want to be found out. This was my secret. I never wanted anyone to know about it. But it didn’t take very long for me to become bolder.

In the end, I spent decades writing completely backwards in front of everyone, and no one ever noticed but my mother and Brenna at college. Ever.

And it was there in front of anyone and everyone to see. Mom saw it. But she was looking. She paid attention. Nothing escaped her notice. Nothing. Sometimes I thought my mother was more like an antenna than a human. And Brenna, in college, saw. But she, also, was a “noticer.” A noticer in close proximity to me almost all the time.

But nobody else saw. I wrote in those top secret  journals in front of Tony a million times and tons of other people, every place I went, spanning decades. And no one ever noticed.

That was an amazing discovery. To have the world unveiled with such force, to realize beyond all doubt at a very young age how very little people notice, changed at once my perception of everything else in my world. And everyone else, as well.

Once, sitting in the middle school cafeteria table, not eating a thing while writing so furiously in my journal that I failed to notice that a real asshole – a proud bully – was standing right over me with his little group of bully wannabe’s.

He looked at my sacred spiral notebook and demanded: “Gimme that.”

I didn’t know what to do, but he grabbed it so fast that I didn’t have to make that decision.

I froze. It was open, I had been writing… it was right there. And now my hubris, which had made me sloppy, overly bold, and thoughtless was about to kick me in the ass. My secret of a decade, destroyed, in a matter of seconds.

He studied the page for a minute that for me, took hours, and then made a very unfriendly sound.

I couldn’t breathe.

Finally he said, “you have very pretty handwriting,” and handed me back my book.

“Thank you,” I replied, reaching for that journal as if it was breath itself.

People are very unware as a species. Completely unimpressive.

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The secret itself is the power

Tony never seemed too interested in the box of decoy journals stacked in our garage – at least he wasn’t interested yet; that would later change – but when my mom found out she had only a few weeks to live only to have my dad cut in line and manage to die first, the last thing on my mind were journals.

I was shell-shocked, anguished and lost. And my marriage was fine.

Still, mom understood that with neither parent alive my secret journal hideout was about to disappear, which to me seemed unimportant in the extreme, but there was no whim too silly for me, the only daughter of my just-widowed dying mother to turn down. One last game of “journal intrigue” seemed like the exact right ending.

It was our last secret together.

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It was our last secret together

It wasn’t the old journals themselves, so much, that were important.

What my mother understood, and what I would all too quickly come to understand, was the significance of the secret, itself.

Secrets bond us to others. A secret that only you and one other person in the world knows is a bond forged in titanium. To have that secret handed back to you, to carry alone and by yourself, well, you can’t. It just keeps the dead person from ever really dying. That secret remains past death.

It spans immortality with grace and ease.

Especially a secret like this one, which was conceived by my mother for the whole purpose of spanning immortality in the first place. The journals got incorporated in later. She had her wildly bold and hyper-imaginative immortality scheme cooked up long before I was even on the scene.

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And it’s a doozy.

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Anyway, Tony didn’t believe in secrets.

For Tony any secret was fundamentally sinful.

(Anyone else’s secret. He had plenty of his own that were anything but innocent.)

For me my backward journals are, quite literally, as close to sacred as anything physical could possibly be. They have existed for as long as my ability to write has existed, an outward manifestation of my very soul that I never shared with anyone.

And over all that time, the longer the secret stayed secret the more value the secrecy itself seemed to have. Everyone has thoughts and feelings they never share with anyone.

And we all have the right to that.

There was no way for me to know back then that whatever instinct made my mother suggest that maybe I should keep keeping that secret a secret would end up having value, but that is, indeed, what has happened.

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Stick around, it’s just getting good.

Stick around. It’s just getting good.


The Dr. Seuss Scavenger Hunt will now begin.

Jeanine Pirro vs. Whoopie Goldberg: a drama in three acts

Clips from “THE VIEW”/ABC and “FOX AND FRIENDS”/FNC (Fair Use)

*I’ve decided to add my opinion, which is I think Jeanine Pirro was primarily mad because when Whoopie Goldberg had finally had enough – (and to be clear, for the two segments before I pick it up Jeanine Pirro was incredibly hostile with almost no pushback) – the audience immediately took Whoopie’s side, cheering loudly when she spoke so forcefully about what she didn’t like about Trump. I think it embarrassed Pirro and that that’s what made her so angry.

Entertainment for Armageddon: “What do you mean Trump and Putin are meeting again?”

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

What do you mean Trump and Putin are meeting again?

“He’s either compromised by Putin or he’s a pussy, in which case he should grab himself.”

I am working on three things:

1. Novartis got bookoo stuff for their money. Tons and tons. I easily show this and ask the question: if Novartis received benefits from the money they paid Michael Cohen, is it possible that Trump didn’t get a cut? Because I don’t see Trump doing favors for free.

2. The link between Scott Pruitt and Michael Cohen: Pasquale Perotta

3. Did Rick Gates wear a wire? Almost certainly, as I show in a court filing. Also, a bonus reminder that what Gates lied to Mueller about was meeting with Rohrabacher.