The Military Dream

In this dream, I was in a high-rise apartment or office building on an upper floor. It was dark, and I was there with a bunch of other people, none of whom I recognized. We were part of some military group, and we had some assignment or mission to carry out. We were putting on military gear, camouflage and helmets. Everyone else had rifles, but when I think back, I didn’t. After we got all our gear on, we stood hidden at the windows waiting for some even to occur.

Eventually, it did, and we all started running downstairs to go outside. But I discovered as I was running, that I had forgotten my socks and shoes. I had to stop, go back and put them on, and try to catch up. By the time I got outside, everyone else was already in place. Then I woke up.

If I had to interpret, I’d say this dream was motivated by my fear of falling behind, and my fear of losing track of the details…

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HTML Mark-Up Dream

If you remember the movie Fantasia, or even better, the movie they showed in high school, Donald Duck in MathMagic Land, where Donald was being chased by anthropomorphic numbers, you have some idea what this dream was like.

Basically, it was my job to place appropriate (?!) HTML mark-up tags on everything; i.e. the physical world: doorknobs, light switches, window frames, everything and anything. Don’t ask me what tags went with what; I knew exactly at the time, but I have no idea now. Anyway, I knew that I was way behind, so I was working as quickly as I could. The faster I worked, the more efficient I became until I was moving so fast I was practically flying. I knew I was doing a great job, and I was so thrilled to be doing what I was doing, that I became ruthlessly efficient, and eventually my frenetic pace caused me spontaneously combust into a lightning shower of energy and euphoria, at which time I awoke and realized I had to get up and go to work. Which really pissed me off.

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Embarrassing Elevator Stories

Ah, the elevator. Such a delightful way to interact with your fellow man, especially in a workplace environment. Such a great way to act strangely in other people’s personal space.

Sixth Floor

I work on the fifth floor of a six floor office building here in Indianapolis. I was going home at the end of a long day, and instead of looking at the light to confirm that the elevator was actually headed in a downward direction, I just got on as soon as the doors opened, assuming it was going down.

Naturally, I was wrong. I rode up to the sixth floor. When the doors opened, the president of the company was standing there, waiting to get on. Since sitings of the company president are as rare as Elvis’s, I was so surprised that I didn’t even have presence of mind to jump out as though I had actually intended to get off on this floor, maybe to visit the lunchroom, or something.

I just stood there like a doofus, and as the doors closed and we rode down, he said to me, “Are you just joy riding on the elevator, or what?” To which I replied, somewhat inaudibly, “Uh, unintentionally, yes,” sounding remarkable like Butthead, when he’s trying to figure something out. The president said nothing. He looked like he wondered who I was and if there was any way he could conveniently fire me.

Fortunately, he never found out who I am.

Singing in the Elevator

Again, I was riding down the elevator on the way home, only this time I stopped to look at the light, hoping to avoid looking like a wonk in the same way twice.

On this trip, though, I was alone in the elevator, and I was so tired I couldn’t even think. Instead of going to the back of the elevator like most people do, I parked myself right in front of the doors. Also, though I didn’t realize I was doing it, I started singing, which I frequently do when I’m alone. I was performing that Possum Kingdom song that seems to be about vampires. I got all the way to the verse, “And I promise you, I will treat you well, my sweet angel, so help me, Jesus…” and the doors of the elevator opened on the last few words. In front of me was an older woman from Human Resources, looking a little surprised.

Three things dawned on me all at once:

  1. I was singing,
  2. she heard me,
  3. she wanted to get in the elevator and I was standing in the way.

So I said, “Hi!” and backed up so she could get on. After a second, she said to me, “That was you singing, wasn’t it?” I replied with a yes. She said, “OK,” and just gave me a look like, “stay over on that side of the elevator, and we’ll both be happy,” as we rode the rest of the way in silence. I am so grateful that I was not up to the end of the song, where he sings, “Do you want to die?” over and over. I’m pretty sure that she would never have gotten on the elevator at all. At the very least.

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Vonnegut? Schmich? Who Can tell In Cyberspace?

Mary Schmich

Chicago Tribune, Copyright 1997.

I am Kurt Vonnegut.

Oh, Kurt Vonnegut may appear to be a brilliant, revered male novelist. I may appear to be a mediocre and virtually unknown female newspaper columnist. We may appear to have nothing in common but unruly hair.

But out in the lawless swamp of cyberspace, Mr. Vonnegut and I are one. Out there, where any snake can masquerade as king, both of us are the author of a graduation speech that began with the immortal words, "Wear sunscreen."

I was alerted to my bond with Mr. Vonnegut Friday morning by several callers and e-mail correspondents who reported that the sunscreen speech was rocketing through the cyberswamp, from L.A. to New York to Scotland, in a vast e-mail chain letter.

Friends had e-mailed it to friends, who e-mailed it to more friends, all of whom were told it was the commencement address given to the graduating class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The speaker was allegedly Kurt Vonnegut.

Imagine Mr. Vonnegut’s surprise. He was not, and never has been, MIT’s commencement speaker.

Imagine my surprise. I recall composing that little speech one Friday afternoon while high on coffee and M&M’s. It appeared in this space on June 1. It included such deep thoughts as "Sing," "Floss," and "Don’t mess too much with your hair." It was not art.

But out in the cyberswamp, truth is whatever you say it is, and my simple thoughts on floss and sunscreen were being passed around as Kurt Vonnegut’s eternal wisdom.

Poor man. He didn’t deserve to have his reputation sullied in this way.

So I called a Los Angeles book reviewer, with whom I’d never spoken, hoping he could help me find Mr. Vonnegut.

"You mean that thing about sunscreen?" he said when I explained the situation. "I got that. It was brilliant. He didn’t write that?"

He didn’t know how to find Mr. Vonnegut. I tried MIT.

"You wrote that?" said Lisa Damtoft in the news office. She said MIT had received many calls and e-mails on this year’s "sunscreen" commencement speech. But not everyone was sure: Who had been the speaker?

The speaker on June 6 was Kofi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, who did not, as Mr. Vonnegut and I did in our speech, urge his graduates to "dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room." He didn’t mention sunscreen.

As I continued my quest for Mr. Vonnegut–his publisher had taken the afternoon off, his agent didn’t answer–reports of his "sunscreen" speech kept pouring in.

A friend called from Michigan. He’d read my column several weeks ago. Friday morning he received it again–in an e-mail from his boss. This time it was not an ordinary column by an ordinary columnist. Now it was literature by Kurt Vonnegut.

Fortunately, not everyone who read the speech believed it was Mr. Vonnegut’s.

"The voice wasn’t quite his," sniffed one doubting contributor to a Vonnegut chat group on the Internet. "It was slightly off–a little too jokey, a little too cute . . . a little too ‘Seinfeld.’ "

Hoping to find the source of this prank, I traced one e-mail backward from its last recipient, Hank De Zutter, a professor at Malcolm X College in Chicago. He received it from a relative in New York, who received it from a film producer in New York, who received it from a TV producer in Denver, who received it from his sister, who received it. . . .

I realized the pursuit of culprit zero would be endless. I gave up.

I did, however, finally track down Mr. Vonnegut. He picked up his own phone. He’d heard about the sunscreen speech from his lawyer, from friends, from a women’s magazine that wanted to reprint it until he denied he wrote it.

"It was very witty, but it wasn’t my wittiness," he generously said.

Reams could be written on the lessons in this episode. Space confines me to two.

One: I should put Kurt Vonnegut’s name on my column. It would be like sticking a Calvin Klein label on a pair of Kmart jeans.

Two: Cyberspace, in Mr. Vonnegut’s word, is "spooky."

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Teddy’s Teacher

by Elizabeth Silance Ballard

This work of fiction was penned in 1976 and published that year in Home Life magazine. For more on this piece, see this page on

Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the Fall and told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved each of them the same, that she would treat them all alike.

And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy was unpleasant. It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then highlighting the "F" at the top of the paper biggest of all.

Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him, either. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s records and delayed Teddy’s until last. When she opened his file, she found a surprise.

His first-grade teacher had written, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners. He is a joy to be around."

His second-grade teacher had penned, "Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by all his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third-grade teacher had noted, "Teddy continues to work hard but his mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken."

Teddy’s fourth-grade teacher had commented, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and often falls asleep in class. He is tardy and could become a more serious problem."

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the extent of the problem, but Christmas was coming fast. It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus again on Teddy Stoddard.

Her children brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, except Teddy’s, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne. She stifled the children’s laughter while she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume behind the other wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed behind after class just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to."

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and speaking. Instead, she began to teach children. Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called "Teddy." As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. On those days when there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had become one of the highest achieveing children in the class and, well, he had also somewhat become the "pet" of that teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he’d had in elementary school, she was his favorite.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still his favorite teacher of all time.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.

Four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still his favorite teacher but that now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

And on that day, she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like the way Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together.

THE MORAL: You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another’s life by your actions or lack of action. Consider this fact in your venture through life.

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The Dream Where Prince Died

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In this dream, I found out that Prince had just died, and I was terribly upset, because I felt that we would be lost without his music. We (Me and who else? I don’t know) decided to go to his funeral.

While there, I ran into someone who was explaining how he died; this gets really abstract, and yet I understood it completely in the dream. He died of “clipline failure” whic was his sorrow at newspaper clippings about himself. (As if?)

Strangely, I not only understood this unusual cause of death, I could think of a similar story I’d once heard about a man who died from photo captions, because he was the person responsible for placing the captions on newspaper photos for years, and eventually died because of it.

We began to walk through the funeral, which looked like a combination between a performance art show and an carnival, with people acting out extraordinarily creative tableauxs. However, I noticed immediately that nowhere in the art works, or performers clothes, or indeed anywhere at the funeral, did the color purple appear; almost as though it were gone forever.

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Simple Friends and Real Friends

author unknown

Anyone can stand by you when you are right,
but a true friend will stand by you even when you are wrong.

A simple friend identifies himself when he calls.
A real friend doens’t have to.

A simple friend opens a conversation with a full news bulletin on his life.
A real friend says, "What’s new with you?"

A simple friend thinks the problems you whine about are recent.
A real friend says, "You’ve been whining about the same thing for 14 years. Get off your duff and do something about it."

A simple friend seldems sees you cry.
A real friend has soggy shoulders from your tears.

A simple friend doesn’t know your parent’s first names.
A real friend has their numbers in their address book.

A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.
A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you clean up.

A simple friend hates it when you call after he has gone to bed.
A real friend asks you why it took you so long to call.

A simple friend seeks to talk with you about their problems.
A real friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.

A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.
A real friend could blackmail you with it.

A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.
A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.

A simple friend thinks that the friendship is over when you have an argument.
A real friend knows that it’s not a friendship until after you’ve had a fight.

A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.
A real friend expects to always be there for you.>

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The Fence

Author Unknown

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one."

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The Value of Time

Author Unknown


Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.

What would you do?

Draw out every cent, of course!!!!

Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.

It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

There is no going back. There is no drawing against the quot;tomorrow."
You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today.

24 hours

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a pre-mature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.

To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided
an accident.

To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time. And remember that time waits for no one.

Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is mystery, Today is a gift – That’s why it’s called the present!

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Hawthorn Mineart

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Hawthorn Mineart
Hawthorn Mineart

If you need to contact me, that information is here.
I’m a UI designer at a media/publishing company in Indianapolis, Indiana where I’ve worked since 1994. We publish textbooks and computers science and business books, and I mainly work on instructor tools for education.

I’m married to a wonderful woman named Stephanie, and we own a 130-year-old Victorian home in The Old Northside, an historic neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis.

Stephanie at CN Tower

Since 1994, I’ve been writing, designing, and creating this website / blog /journal / art project. I enjoy taking pictures of “big things” and advertising art and have been on the local news because of it. I’ve always wanted to write novels, and from the many blog posts on the subject, you can probably see I’ve been trying to complete one for at least 15 years. Eventually I will.

Childhood and Growing Up

I was born in West Des Moines, Iowa, a couple of hours after Robert Kennedy died. That was great, because for the first couple decades of my life, the news had nice retrospectives of the event with lovely titles like “The nation mourns as it recalls June 6, 1968.” Never mind that it was my birthday.

I grew up in suburban Iowa, and my grandparents lived on a farm that we got to visit quite a bit when I was a kid. I have four brothers and a sister. I’m the second child and did a lot of care-taking of my younger siblings. I didn’t enjoy it at the time, but at least I learned how to change a diaper and babysit, which is handy now that my friends are having babies.

Me stealing cookies from grandma's jar, 1970
Me sneaking cookies from Grandma’s cookie jar.

We lived in Ohio for a few years when I was in middle school and then in Noblesville, Indiana, where I went to high school. I went to Ball State University because they gave me more scholarship money than anyone else, and I studied journalism/magazine design, philosophy and English. I graduated in 1991. I’ve lived in Indianapolis since 1992, and with the exception of cold winters and absence of good public transit, Indy is a great city. I love it, despite its conservative politics.

Soldier's & Sailor's Monument

I moved to downtown Indianapolis in 1993, and have been there ever since. Stephanie and I bought our house together in Old Northside historic neighborhood in 2008.


If you must know every little thing about me – I believe I’ve answered every question I’ve ever been asked about myself here.

“Who am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all that I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am everything that happens after I’ve gone that would not have happened if I had not come…. to understand me you must swallow a world.” Salman Rushdie, From Midnight’s Children

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