The index here was nondescript. If anyone is seeing this I'll have updated it for you.

It is 2022 December 28. I have done a lot of small things over time, lots on the computer, never collected them or told people about them. That is pretty anti... Basically everybody with things online has to describe and self-describe.

Teasing/Viaticum/Interrupted Mirth

“I’ve never smoked,” Joachim replied; “why should I start up here, of all places?”

“I don’t understand,” Hans Castorp said. “I never can understand how someone can not be a smoker—why it’s like robbing oneself of the best part of life, so to speak, or at least of an absolutely first-rate pleasure. When I wake up I look forward to being able to smoke all day, and when I eat, I look forward to it again, in fact I can honestly say that I actually only eat so that I can smoke, although that’s an exaggeration, of course. But a day without tobacco—that would be absolutely insipid, a dull, totally wasted day. And if some morning I had to tell myself: there’s nothing left to smoke today, why I don’t think I’d find courage to get up, I swear I’d stay in bed. You see, if a man has a cigar that burns well—and obviously it can’t have any breaks or draw badly, that’s really terribly annoying—what I’m saying is, that if a man has a good cigar, then he’s home safe, nothing, literally nothing, can happen to him. It’s the same as when you’re lying on the beach, because there you lie on the beach, you know? and you don’t need anything else—no work, no other amusements. Thank God, people smoke all over the world, there’s nowhere you could possibly end up, as far as I know, where tobacco’s unknown. Even polar explorers lay in a good supply of smokes to get them over their hardships—that’s always struck a sympathetic chord in me whenever I’ve read about it. Because things can go very badly—let’s assume, for instance, that things would go miserably for me—but as long as I had my cigar, I’d carry on, that much I know, it could bring me through anything.”

“All the same, it’s a sign of a rather weak will,” Joachim said, “to be so dependent on tobacco. Behrens is quite right—you’re a civilian. He meant it more in praise, to be sure, but you are an incurable civilian, that’s the point. And besides, you’re healthy and can do what you like,” he said, and a weary look came into his eyes.

“Yes, healthy except for anemia,” Hans Castorp said. “That was a bit much, though, when he told me that I look green. But he’s right, it’s even obvious to me that in comparison to you folks up here I’m downright green—whereas I never really noticed it at home. And that really was very nice of him to just go ahead and offer some advice, quite sine pecunia as he put it. I’ll be happy to do as he says, and I hereby resolve to adapt my habits to yours—what else can I do as long as I’m up here with all of you? And it can’t hurt me, for heaven’s sake, to build up my protein, although that does sound disgusting, you must admit.”

Joachim coughed a couple of times as they walked—the climb was taxing for him, it seemed. When he started coughing a third time, he stopped and scowled. “Go on ahead,” he said. Hans Castorp first hurried on without looking back. Then he slowed his pace and almost came to a stop, assuming that by now he had a considerable lead on Joachim. But he did not look back.

A party of guests of both sexes was coming toward him—he had noticed them moving along a level stretch of path about halfway up the slope, and now they were tramping downhill, moving directly toward him, and he could hear the babble of voices. There were six or seven people of various ages, from very young things to a few who were somewhat further along in years. Still thinking about Joachim, he tilted his head and looked them over. They were all bareheaded and tanned, the ladies in colorful sweaters, the gentlemen without overcoats for the most part, even without walking sticks—they looked as if they had just stepped out the door for a breath of air, hands in their pockets. Since walking downhill is not a matter of strenuous exertion but more a sport, where you brace your legs and apply the brakes to keep from tripping or running—nothing more than helping yourself fall, really—there was a kind of nimble frivolity to their gait, which spread even to their faces, until the whole effect might very well have made you want to join their party.

They were just ahead of him now, and Hans Castorp took a close look at their faces. They were not all tanned, two of the ladies were conspicuously pale: the one thin as a rail, with an ivory complexion; the other shorter and plump, her face blemished by moles and freckles. They all looked at him, all smiling the same cheeky smile. A tall young girl in a green sweater, her hair in untidy disarray and with doltish, half-closed eyes, brushed past Hans Castorp, so close that she almost touched him with her arm. And whistled—no, that was just too crazy! She whistled at him, but not with her mouth; her lips weren’t puckered at all, were tightly closed in fact. The whistle came from inside, and all the while she stared at him, with her doltish, half-closed eyes. An extraordinarily unpleasant whistle, harsh, intense, and yet somehow hollow, an extended tone, emerging inexplicably from somewhere in her chest and falling off toward the end—it reminded him of the music you get from those inflatable rubber pigs you buy at a carnival, the way they wail mournfully when you squeeze the air out. And then she and the rest of her party had moved on.

Hans Castorp stood there aghast, staring straight ahead. Then he quickly turned around and decided that the horrid sound must have been a joke, a prearranged prank—that much at least was clear now, because as they moved off he saw their shoulders jiggling with laughter, and one stocky lad with thick lips, his hands stuck in his pants pockets, hitching his jacket up in a rather unbecoming way, blatantly turned to look back and laughed. Joachim had caught up by now. He greeted the party in his usual chivalrous way, bowing and clicking his heels, almost standing at attention, and there was a gentle look in his eye as he joined his cousin.

“What sort of face is that you’re making?” he asked.

“She whistled!” Hans Castorp answered. “She whistled from her stomach as she passed me by. Would you kindly explain that to me?”

“Oh,” Joachim said, laughing dismissively. “Not from her stomach, what nonsense. That was the Kleefeld girl, Hermine Kleefeld, who can whistle with her pneumothorax.”

“With her what?” Hans Castorp asked. He was terribly agitated, but he didn’t quite know in what sense. Wavering between laughter and tears, he added, “You can’t expect me to understand your jargon.”

“Let’s move on,” Joachim said. “I can just as easily explain it while we walk. You look like you’ve struck root. As you might guess, it has to do with surgery, an operation that they perform up here. Behrens is quite an expert at it. When one lung has been badly ravaged, you see, but the other is healthy or relatively healthy, the infected one is relieved of its duties for a while, given a rest. Which means that they make an incision here, somewhere along the side here—I don’t know precisely where they cut, but Behrens has it down perfectly. And then they let gas in, nitrogen, you see, and that way the caseated lobes of the lung are put out of commission. The gas doesn’t last that long, of course, and has to be replaced twice a month or so—they more or less pump you up, that’s how you have to picture it. And after they’ve done that for a year or so, if all goes well, the lung will have rested long enough to heal. Not always, of course, it’s really rather risky business. But they say they’ve had some nice successes with their pneumothorax. All the people you just saw have had it done. Frau Iltis was with them—the one with the freckles—and Fräulein Levi, the skinny one, if you recall—she was confined to bed for a long time. They’ve formed a group—something like pneumothorax brings people together, naturally—and call themselves the ‘Half-Lung Club,’ that’s the name everyone knows them by. But the pride of the club is Hermine Kleefeld, because she can whistle with her pneumothorax—it’s her special talent, it’s certainly not something everyone can do. Not that I can tell you how she manages it, she can’t explain it clearly herself. But if she’s been walking rapidly, then she can whistle from inside, and of course she uses it then to startle people, especially newly arrived patients. I presume, by the way, that she’s wasting nitrogen by doing it, because she has to get a refill every week.”

And Hans Castorp was laughing now; during Joachim’s explanation, his agitation had resolved into mirth, and as he walked along, bent forward and shading his eyes with his hand, his shoulders were convulsed by his soft, rapid giggles.

“Has the club been registered?” he asked, though he found it hard to speak, and it sounded more like a whine or whimper from suppressed laughter. “Do they have bylaws? What a shame you’re not a member, Joachim, because then they could include me as an honorary guest—or associate member. You should ask Behrens to put you temporarily out of commission. Maybe you’d be able to whistle, too, if you really set your mind to it, after all it must be something you can learn. That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” he said, taking a deep breath. “You’ll have to forgive me, really, for talking like this, but they were in a merry mood themselves, your pneumatic friends. Here they come walking up … and to think that it was the Half-Lung Club! ‘Tweeet’ she whistles at me—what a harum-scarum! What absolute devil-may-care. And I’m sure you can tell me just why they’re so devil-may-care, can’t you?”

Joachim searched for an answer. “My God,” he said, “they’re so free. I mean, they’re young and time plays no role in their lives, and they may very well die. Why should they go around with long faces? I sometimes think that illness and death aren’t really serious matters, that it’s all more like loafing around, and that, strictly speaking, things are serious only down below in real life. I think maybe you’ll come to understand that in due time, after you’ve been up here with us a little longer.”

“Certainly,” Hans Castorp said, “I’m certain I shall. I’m already taking a great deal of interest in all of you up here, and once one is interested, why then understanding follows as a matter of course, doesn’t it? But what’s wrong with me—this doesn’t taste good,” he said, looking at his cigar.” I’ve been asking myself the whole time what was the matter, and now I realize that my Maria is the problem. I swear to you, it tastes like papier-mâché, exactly as if I had a terribly upset stomach. It’s really quite incredible! I did eat an unusually large breakfast, but that can’t be the reason, because when you eat a lot, it always tastes especially good at first. Do you think it can be because I slept so restlessly? Perhaps that’s thrown me off track. No, I’m simply going to have to toss it away,” he said after trying once more. “Every puff is a disappointment; there’s no point in forcing it." He hesitated for a moment and then flicked the cigar down the slope among the wet pines. "Do you know what I’m convinced is to blame?” he asked. “I am thoroughly convinced that it has something to do with this damned flushed face of mine—it’s been bothering me again ever since I got up. Damned if it doesn’t feel as if I’m constantly blushing in embarrassment. Was it the same with you, too, when you first arrived?”

“Yes,” Joachim said, “I felt rather strange, too, at first. Don’t worry about it. I told you, if you remember, that it’s not all that easy to get used to our life up here. But you’ll soon be back on track. Look there, that bench has a nice view. Let’s sit down for a bit and then head home–I need to take my rest cure.”

Here's what was linked on this homepage already.

Small and weird new programming projects.


And there he stood before them, his cigar held between the first and second fingers of his gigantic right hand. “How’s your cabbage-roll doing, Castorp? Let me have a look. I’m a connoisseur. Good ash—what brand of lovely brunette is she?”

“Maria Mancini, Poste de Banquette, from Bremen, Director Behrens. Costs little or nothing, a mere nineteen pfennigs, natural color, but an aroma that you don’t normally find at the price. Best Sumatra-Havana wrapper, as you can see. I have got very used to them. It’s a medium mixture, quite spicy but light on the tongue. She likes you to leave her ash long—I knock it off twice at most. Of course she has her little moods, but the quality control must be especially exacting, because Maria is very dependable and has an absolutely even draw. Might I offer you one?”

“Thank you, let’s exchange brands.” And they pulled out their cases.

“She has good breeding,” the director said, holding out his brand. “Vivacious, you know, vim and vigor. Saint Felix-Brazil, I’ve always stuck to that sort. Soothes one’s cares away, catches fire like brandy, but, all the same, she packs something of a wallop toward the end. A little caution is in order—you can’t light one from the other. Would take more of a man than I. But I’d rather have a hearty snack than a whole day of tasteless air.”

Each rolled his gift between his fingers, examining the slender body with expert eye—there was an organic, living quality about the even rows of raised and slanted ribs, the tiny pores along the edges here and there, the veins that seemed almost to throb, the little irregularities of skin, the play of light on surfaces and edges.

Hans Castorp put it into words. “There’s life in a cigar. It actually breathes. At home I came up with the idea of keeping my Maria stored in airtight metal containers, to keep out the damp. Would you believe it, she died! Within a few weeks she grew sickly and died—nothing left but leathery corpses.”

They exchanged what they knew about the best way to store cigars, especially imports. The director loved imported cigars and would have most preferred to smoke heavy Havanas. Unfortunately they did not agree with him, and he told about two little Henry Clays he had taken a liking to one evening at a party and how they had come close to putting him six feet under. “I smoke them both with my coffee,” he said, “one after the other, thinking nothing of it. But no sooner am I finished than I have to ask myself what’s up. Whatever it is, I’m feeling very rum, stranger than I’ve ever felt in my life. I arrive home, no little problem in itself, and no sooner am I home than I think I’m about to pop my cork—you know, feet like ice, a cold sweat, you name it, face white as a sheet, heart doing crazy tricks, my pulse going from a thread you can barely feel to a helter-skelter, cross-country spurt, you know, and my brain in a tizzy. I was convinced that I was about to kick the bucket. I say ‘kick the bucket,’ since that’s the phrase that came to me then as the best description of my condition. Because actually I was feeling as euphoric as if this were some sort of shindig, although I was scared stiff, or better, I was out of my mind with fear. But fear and euphoria aren’t mutually exclusive, everybody knows that. Some scalawag who’s about to have a girl for the first time is afraid, too. So is she. But they simply melt together for euphoria. Well, I was close to melting myself, about to kick the bucket, my chest heaving away. But then Mylendonk’s ministrations broke the mood. Ice compresses, a rubdown with a brush, an injection of camphor—and so here I am still among the living.”

Then, these are more things from the last few years.

Just personal projects, this excludes things done in groups and lots of inconsequential writing and music.

I'm from California and haven't lived anywhere else. B. 1998

Usually I've had a couple rotating domains active. My personal page is kees.site. Email me with anything.