Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The following is a slightly modified re-post from early this year.

It isn't likely anyone cares, but I thought I might briefly explain why this blog you're reading is called "Lung."

Once upon a time I was learning FrameMaker, which is desktop publishing software. As a learning exercise, I created a multi-column newsletter and named it Lung – a silly, whimsical, entirely meaningless name.

That name rolled around backbrain as I started fiddling with this blog. At first, I added "blue" to make it Blue Lung, which I thought sounded interesting.

Then I Googled "blue lung" to see if that phrase might be in use somewhere. Sure enough, "blue lung," according to the Urban Dictionary, is a condition affecting users of something called Adderall. This, apparently, is a strain of methamphetamine.

Thus edified, I reverted back to "Lung."

Anal-retentive postscript: I did indeed learn FrameMaker, and got pretty good at it. I always preferred it to Word. It is superior in every way and I used it for years.

Then I bought a new computer, and  my version of Frame wouldn't run on it. No backwards compatibility. A new version of Frame was beyond my budget.

I had written virtually all my stuff in Frame, and faced the nightmarish prospect of converting hundreds of critical files to Word – that slightly more affordable lingua franca of the computer world. Which I did.

Microsoft Word. Bill Gates' cash cow. I'm stuck with it. I've learned it, and I've learned to live with it. I've even grown accustomed to it. I know it inside out. But I don't like it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stranded (Bike Ride from Hell)

What began as a simple Sunday morning bike ride, one of the great pleasures in my life these days, transformed itself yesterday into a miserable couple of hours due to a simple problem I couldn't fix.

The problem was a flat tire. This is by far the most common problem cyclists face; I've fixed countless flat tires over the years. Fixing a flat is routine maintenance, a skill all cyclists should possess, even if they don't know anything else about bikes. Yet this flat tire ended up confounding me.

My ride began with seven or eight mile stretch to a Blockbuster store, to return a video game my kid rented. Mission accomplished. At that point I was free to point the bike in whatever direction I felt like. I began by doubling back toward home, with the intention of veering off somewhere to extend the ride (I measure rides by time, not distance). Suddenly I heard a whiiiiiisshhh – and the front tire deflated rapidly beneath me.

So I pulled over and found a convenient spot beneath a tree to repair it. Funny thing: when you have a flat, it's almost always the rear tire. Nine times out of ten. The reason is simple. Rear tires are situated almost directly beneath a bike's seat, and bear more weight than the front. They tend to flat more easily.

Anyway I fixed the damn thing. Removed the wheel, popped the tire from the rim, and put a new inner tube within. Before putting in the new tube I ran my fingers around the inside of the tire to locate and remove whatever might have caused the flat, and in so doing discovered two thorns, which I plucked out. Reassembled everything and began pumping up the tire.

I had nearly finished, when snap! I broke off the new inner tube's valve. Guess I don't know my own strength.

Broken valves are not fixable. So, once again, I took apart the whole shebang. Located and patched the hole in the first inner tube (which already had three or four patches in it), reassembled the tire and wheel, began inflating ... and discovered another leak.

By now I was losing my patience, but what choice did I have? Took the whole thing apart yet again, located what I thought was still another leak, fixed it ... reassembled...

Began inflating. Discovered the damned thing would not hold any air.

Attempted another fix. And it still would not hold any air!

My thumbs ached from fitting the tire back onto the rim over and over. I was out of patches, and out of patience.

The end of this absurd little story is that I never could fix that flat. Ended up calling my wife and crying, Help! At least I had the cell phone. She came and got me. Which was damned nice of her, considering it was Sunday morning and she had hoped for a few extra hours of sleep.

Later I bought some more inner tubes and some more patches.

This all happened yesterday, as I write this. I never did figure out why that tire (or tube, more properly) wouldn't hold air. Today I have matching blisters on my two thumbs from all that tire replacement.

Note: I understand that in the grand scheme of life's problems, this misadventure doesn't amount to – well, to a hill of beans...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Scent of a Woman

She doesn’t know it, but my daughter has me wrapped around her little finger.

At least, I don't think she knows it.

She'll be fourteen in a few months. Unlike some of her peers (it seems to me), she still has a lot of little kid inside of her. At the same time, she is a responsible young woman. This pleases me greatly.

I've written about her elsewhere on this blog.

The other day I found a pair of gloves in the garage. I didn't recognize them and figured they belonged to one of my daughter's friends. Daughter and friend happened to be in the house at the time, so I asked. No, the friend replied. They're not mine.

"I think they're Mom's," my daughter said. I didn't think so, because I didn't recognize them. So my daughter took them and gave them a sniff. "Yeah," she said. "They're Mom's."

"You can tell by smelling them?" I asked, incredulous.

"Sure! I can smell her lotion."

The utter certainty in her voice impressed me, and I accepted her judgment.

She went on: "I know what you smell like, too!"

I've always known my wife has a bloodhound's sense of smell. My daughter appears to have it, too. I think most women do – as much as I hate to generalize.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thing Thursday

My daughter made a rather kooky video recently. I don't quite get the concept. It has something to do with it being a Thursday on the day they did it.

Unfortunately it isn't lit very well. Still, it's a comical teenage goof.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Carl Panzram: The Movie

About ten thousand years ago, give or take, I became interested in a book called Killer: A Journal of Murder, by Thomas E. Gaddis and James O. Long. Killer is the story of Carl Panzram, one of the earliest documented serial killers in America. He was executed way back in 1930.

The book is a fascinating blend of Panzram's unflinching autobiography, and the reportage of Gaddis and Long, who fill in the story's blanks.

Some years after discovering Killer I used it as the basis of a screenplay. The screenplay wasn't very good and never went anywhere. Not that I expected it to: who could possibly be interested in this obscure, brutal story?

And so it astonished me to learn, in 1996, that the book had been made into a feature film starring James Woods as Panzram. Unfortunately, the movie was pretty bad. The less said of it now, the better.

But I'm pleased to say that another film aiming to tell Panzram's story is in the works. Production of Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance began about four years ago. The film goes beyond the boundaries of the Gaddis and Long book. I've had occasional contact with its director, John Borowski. Not because I have anything to do with the film, because I don't. Rather, I imposed myself because the project interests me, and Borowski has been nice enough (and tolerant enough) to reply to my emails.

The story of Carl Panzram is important; it demonstrates how we reap what we sow. Dr. Karl Menninger, the noted psychiatrist, examined Panzram, and later wrote, "I have always carried him in my mind as the logical product of our prison system."

Borowski says he hopes to finish Carl Panzram by the end of this year. He could use some help, though. He's begun an online fundraising campaign in collaboration with Indie Go Go.

Click here to see how you can help with this film's completion.

You can see some clips, and hear John Borowski talk about it, in the video below.