Rob Smith

An Active Observer, an Aspiring Writer

Month: January, 2014

The search for Dyson Spheres continues for some unknown reason.

I always thought the idea of trying to detect a Dyson Sphere was ridiculous… first off there is no reason to believe they even exist anywhere or would be a forgone development point for any civilization… “okay, we have the ability to bend space and time. What’s next, oh yeah, let’s encase our sun totally, harvesting its energy completely.”

Secondly, and more importantly, if you have the ability to encase your sun (or even a galaxy- as the thinking goes)– wouldn’t it stand to reason that you probably also have the ability to hide this monstrosity from distant observers.

Thirdly… I have never seen it in the tech tree for Civilization… so I call shenanigans.


…just passing though…

Tonight’s blog entry is brought to you by half a bottle of vodka; which though a rather vague unit of measurement, will have to suffice. Let’s just say we’re all “cool and froody” at this point in the evening. “You mean everything’s under control?”  He looks around, shaking his head dismissively.  “No, that would not be cool and froody.”

I’ve always loved that portion of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Everything spiraling out of control, yet the dialog remains very focused and in control.  That is how I imagine each and every one of us lives our lives day in and day out.  Though it might not necessarily be a reality, this is the world I choose to live in.


Airwave” by Rank 1

Some day I hope to have a writing project, whose appeal is wide enough to necessitate an obscene bidding war for the movie rights.  I have no interest in personal financial gain, but would like to be in a position to buy the total world wide rights to this track—to be placed in said project. In my mindspace, Danny Boyle directs the flick; as I have no one else better to choose at this point.

Unlike the theme music to the last few Boyle movies, I find this track to be rather optimistic and uplifting. Sunshine was fucking wonderful, but that is not my scene.   In my minds eye (*sigh*) I write uplifting scenarios. I find the ultimate sacrifice, of ones life for the sustained future of humanity, to be utterly ridiculous.  The theme results in somewhat passable art, but falls short of what science fiction should be.

We need to challenge the viewer/reader to imagine where we can go in the near future.  What did Gravity do to expand our imaginations? Nothing.

Danny, if you’re reading this, the manuscript is almost done (looks over the note spread across his desk, and has no idea how this could be a reality).  Let’s do lunch, or some shite.



81 Words Part II

Two more…  because, why the hell not?  I find the whole experiment to be horribly restrictive. This might be a necessary evil–  not entirely sure.  I lean more toward 188 words being effective for this sort of thought/writing experiment.



Jake stared at the assortment of passports which partially covered the 9mm on the bed. He hated guns. “One last score,” she had promised, as she left the hotel. The proximity to the airport would guarantee a quiet escape, she promised; though the incessant noise had kept him awake those last two nights. The femme fatale allure had worn thin, and though he enjoyed the rewards, he knew inside she would never walk way. It was time to go it alone.



A quarter of a bottle of scotch remained; his resolve deflated as he stared at the incomplete text. His attentions had been divided by the modern vices that never encumbered the greats of the past, Twain, Hemingway, whothefuckever. Sounds, tweets, drunken rants posted by friends across the interwebs and joined by his own inebriated observations.

He looked between the near blank Word document and to the sad remains of his bottle. Empty and near empty; happily one could be refilled tonight.


81 Words

81 Words is an interesting writing exercise.  Andrew Flynn pointed me in this direction.  His first book 188: MICRO-STORIES FOR YOUR MACRO-BRAIN is a collection of stories, each 188 words long.   Although I have yet to read it, I find the idea very interesting from a writers perspective.  Even if you even suspect you might have been bitten by the muse, and would like to try your hand at writing, I would urge you to try it out.

It should be noted…  the writers on the site are strangely, how should I put this, hmmm….  well they’re bad. The only conclusion I can reach is that the owners haven’t correctly reached their intended audience over the first four months of operations

My first two submissions are below:

Morning After

She started fully awake, her nude form awash with sweat. The moon’s meager light outlined his now still form beside her. The night before came back slowly; a club somewhere, her friends danced, laughter, drinks, sweat, she danced, more drinks. She had met this man lying beside her, his face came into focus in her head. She wondered why the sweat between her fingers was thick and sticky. As she licked her lips, the taste of iron danced on her tongue.

Saturn V

A safe distance away, under the hot muggy Florida sun, we watched the rocket rise off in the distance, long before we heard the roar of her engines.  I looked up at my father, a smile beaming on his face, his eyes transfixed on the spectacle. In that moment, a feeling of absolute contentment settled over my twelve year old soul. We were here together now, watching history unfold before our very eyes. Everything that happened before, was of no importance.

On Spirituality, Class Warfare.. and other such nonsense.

My wife and I do not discuss our ideas of spirituality with each other.  Okay, I concede the point; I avoid this discussion like the plague with all people in my life, due to my own self-doubt as to my own convictions.  I like to play it fast and loose with concepts such as gawd, the afterlife and karma.  I think that putting any of these concepts into concrete defined ideas in my head, let alone speaking of such matters out loud, would give the concepts too much power in my daily affairs.

One idea that my wife often speaks of, and not to deaf ears I might add, is the idea of manifestation.  I am probably going to butcher the intent of what her belief, but I am going to describe my interpretation none the less.  The concept centers on focusing on a set goal or objective, to the extent that the worship of the idea becomes the focal point of your existence.  You therefore manifest this change, idea or goal from your imagination onto the world around you.

I might poo poo such new age publically (fuck, and privately for that matter), but there is something to be said for this idea; as we see examples of it all around us.  I am not speaking of some extreme interpretation of this idea; such as a group of teenagers sitting around a fire, chanting some name of some pagan god and attempting to conjure said god out of the fire, or some shite.  My interpretation is much simpler and more practical in our day to day affairs.

A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with a few friends on the topic of the class divides that keep the rich and the poor separate.  Quite a few of the participants were of the sort who believed that class and race were givens inherited at birth that totally determined our fates at the end of the day.  I had a fit hearing these words uttered out loud, without a sense of irony or mirth.  People still believe that sort of shit?

In America, there is a knee jerk reaction on all sides of this discussion to only frame the conversation in terms of race.  What seemingly gets lost, is that race is how the issue of this economic and social divide presents itself in America; it is not the root of our societal woes. What needs to be accepted as a base premise is that even though each and every continent, nation, city, neighborhood has its own problems that are very specific to these microcosms, there is a commonality between all societal divides.

Let’s face it, the enlightenment and the social revolutions that followed did not totally displace feudalism. I am of the belief that you can have no pure concept, no pure revolution because the end result is always resting on the cancer of the past.  The end result always has traces, and far more than the new society that emerges ever would want to admit, of the society that came before. At this point, feudalism probably touched 90% of the world population in some meaningful long lasting way, prior to anything any of us would considered enlightened thinking ever had a chance to appeared on the scene. There was always an entrenched establishment that might have shared power with the masses, but these elite never disappeared.  This fact gets lost on the average discontent member of ALL societies.  They immediately fall upon whatever knee jerk reaction might be the most obvious explanation of the divides they see in their day to day lives.

We circle now back to my interpretation of manifestation.  I believe that one of the primary reasons why all of these issues persist is due to the fact that we continue to impose these simplistic interpretations onto the world around us.  We get caught up in the issue of divides, we manifest this as a base condition to each other and we rarely make an attempt to just fucking get on with it.

When Life Hacking is Really White Privilege

The story at the above link really got my mind churning. I have to say from the onset, that I know two “white” traders who used to work on Wall St who have since returned to Buffalo.   Though they are two distinct personalities, there are commonalities between them.  Neither had any experience in the industry prior to relocating to NYC.  Both were young and full of energy when they decided this was their route to riches.  Neither could be described as having grown up poor, although one came from a lower middle class background.

One key component of their success whilst in NYC was their ability to impose their wills upon the world around them.  Fuck, with one of them, I was totally convinced that he lived in a solipsistic fantasy world prior to moving to the City; one in which his success was a foregone conclusion. He knew his smile and his words could charm anyone, and I witnessed this power in action in many sorted circumstances (one of which kept him out of jail at 18 just by convincing a cop to ignore the huge bag of coke found lying on his passenger seat when pulled over for having a tail light out).

What seems to get lost on the masses, the ones who become deluded into a world view that these people are somehow privileged because they were white or rich or both, is the interpretation that these fuckers walk on water because they know they can.  The thought alone somehow sustains the reality.

I find it hard to believe that Jay-Z wouldn’t behave in a similar fashion to the white trader if he needed to mail an item and was in a hurry.

To conclude this aside, both returned to Buffalo when their charm ran out.  One could no longer function due to a drug addiction.  The other could no longer sustain the illusion because they gained a conscience, of sorts.

“Don’t Be Evil”

In closing, the neo-rich didn’t get rich by being nice people.  Bill Gates or Richard Branson might seem like interesting rags to riches stories, but I strongly suspect they would not be the sorts of people you’d want to hang out with and have a few drinks. You can transcend class but probably at a huge cost to what you feel is your humanity.

Most people who achieve a low to moderate level of success probably have utilized this mind over matter trick without even realizing it.  Fuck, there have been hundred if not thousands of self help tapes that have echoed this same idea.  It resonates to all of us because deep down we know there is some truth beneath the surfaces, when you scratch at it a bit.

The down trodden are exactly that because they believe that is all they can ever amount to


Well hello 2014, nice to meet you.  Tis the time of year where spontaneous self reflection abounds.  The transition from one silly calendar you bought 14 months ago to a new one that has been sitting on your desk, seems to induce a state of near pathological reanalysis of a persons place in the world.  The only events which seem to cause identical symptoms, albeit much more extreme, are the deaths of a loved one or the loss of employment. 


Don’t get me wrong, I am all about self reflections; but I believe these processes should be ongoing throughout the year and not done in one fell swoop.   The fact that the suicide rate increases and people just fall dead (at least in my family) at this time of year, seems to indicate that there is something very unhealthy in the practice of putting so much stock into this one artificial demarcation point.


With each inquiry as to what my New Year’s resolution would be, I would feel my blood pressure spike.  There are many things I would like to change, but the fact that so many people thought I should share them out loud, in order to make the desire to change real, or some shit, struck me as ridiculous.  Yes, mom, I’d like to quit smoking, but I am not quite ready to put my crack pipe down yet.   Yes, wifey, I’d love to be organized and helpful around the house, but again my addictions (writing and incessant self reflection – not sure which is worse-  not even sure there is a difference)  seems to get in the way of being a neater, more organized person.  


I was reminded endless of my failed 2013 New Years resolution, one that was made for me, all throughout the course of yesterday’s festivities.  My own sense of failure at continuing to smoke probably made the comments and snipes from the crowd seem more relentless than it was in reality. The whole time my brain is screaming, there are more important things that need to change prior to the elimination of my primary coping mechanism.


I hadn’t complained about a little change in my daily environment to any of the people who were reminding me of the failed 2013 resolution and attempting to make it a do over for 2014.  Today, is the first day of the smoking ban on all properties associated with my current place of employment.  It’s as if things in my life have become metaphors. 


The ban itself was announced just prior to the chaos that ensued two months ago. As a result, most people at my company have had other things on their minds; so that denial of this new paradigm came with ease.  It is going to be very interesting, as a study in human behavior, how people will react.  I believe the vast majority will make an attempt to attack the coping mechanism itself than the root cause.   I am imagining the 10-20% of the people who still smoke getting into their cars every two to three hours, driving off the property to safer harbors, but I am not sure how long that pattern of behavior will last.


I am also interested to see how I will react to this as well.   I feel as if my own actions are wholly unpredictable, as I am actively aware of what any possible outcome signifies in the grand scheme of things.  At some moments, it seems like it’s a choice between a career and a silly habit; at other moments it seems like the choice between a stressor and a reaction. The reality is both cause cancer, and if that reality really sinks in, I am not quite sure where I land.