Thursday, October 31, 2019

Computer-Mediated Communication Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 words

Computer-Mediated Communication - Essay Example Out of hundreds of SNSs, some of the most popular examples of this form of CMC include MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter which have become an integral part of daily practices for people around the world. Basically, the aim of this paper is to contemplate the efficacy and significance of SNSs as they form a very important example of CMC and then apply course concepts like online self-disclosure and disembodiment to them so as to explain how CMC functions or relates with the course concepts through SNSs. As mentioned above, SNSs support a variety of public interests and service like information sharing and networking as a result of which CMC has been made a lot easier on many levels. While some of such sites cater to a particular group of people who share same cultural or regional background, most sites typically cater to the needs of diverse audiences. In addition to this feature, there exists a difference in the way various information and communication tools are incorporated in differe nt sites as all SNSs do not offer the facility of online blogging or instant video/image sharing. One of the most interesting features of this example of CMC is that not only people who are already connected outside the computer world can take advantage of the facilities offered by such sites, but strangers are also facilitated a lot as most sites support them much in connecting easily based on similar set of interests and shared political, racial, or education views (Boyd and Ellison). Though SNSs imply the concept of networking hugely yet researchers suggest that this alone could not be considered as a solo feature which helps differentiating SNSs from other mediums of CMC like blogs and social support sites. This is because networking is neither the sole service nor the sole purpose of most of such sites rather educational and business purposes also remain significant. Though a lot of connections are made between people by this medium of CMC which might not be made otherwise, yet that could not be classified as the sole goal of SNSs. â€Å"What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks† (Boyd and Ellison). A lot of business deals and transactions are finalized online by using such sites for enhancing communication between parties from opposite ends of the world. Similarly, this forms a great means of CMC also because education is made a lot easier as owing to many lectures offered online by expert teachers, one does not necessarily have to attend colleges on a full-time basis now. Many academic and industry researchers have written a lot in the past years concerning the wide range of academic and social advantages offered by SNSs. These sites are capable of addressing many interests of the public when it comes to communication by using effective and handy communication tools like online blogging, mobile connectivity, an d video/image sharing. In addition to that, there are certain course concepts like online self-disclosure, disembodiment, and privacy management which help much in further understanding the significance of CMC. Anonymity and self-disclosure on weblogs creates much excitement for the bloggers online. This is because people can open up about their

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The British Way of Town-making Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 2500 words

The British Way of Town-making - Essay Example The elements which have influenced Egyptian, Chinese and Islamic architecture will be explored. The influence. The elements which compose places will be explored with regards to urban design. The influence of philanthropic organizations on built constructions. The philanthropic organization which will be discussed is the Prince of Wales Foundation. Introduction To each individual, a town represents a variety of concepts. It may be the place of residence or occupational endeavors, a town may also represent a public policy structure. These concepts are implicit, especially today when many residents of the United Kingdom reside in a municipality of some classification. A town may be perceived as a collection of edifices surrounded by a park which form a silhouette with the sky. A town may also be perceived as a political structure which is composed of constables and a cul de sac. What are the characteristics of a village? If an area is established as a town, what are the factors that in fluence its development and how long may the locality be designated a town? This becomes a subject of deeper inquiry. The responses have been clarified by archaeologists who discuss the attributes. (De La Bedoyer 1992). The concept of town in the society which has been demonstrated from the legacies of the Graeco- Roman civilization continue to exist today. In Britain, there is a pronounced distinction from the oriental, central and southern regions of the landscape. There has been a geographical dividing line which is characterized as â€Å"Fosse Way†. The manner in which a town develops is equated with the environment in which it inhabits. Greece has been administered by the city- state government in where cities administered their suburbs. The city and the land which composed it became the elements of a constitution system. The same phenomenon occurred in the formation of Rome. Rome became the geographical capitol of Italy. The fact that the location of Rome enabled the fo rmation of a military system. The location of Rome also enabled the sense of citizenship and community which was expressed in the Senatus Populus Romanus which is translated into the Senate and People of Rome. Rome was acknowledged as â€Å"the City† (De La Bedoyer 1992). Discussion The construction of municipalities is one of the most recognized accomplishments of modern society. Cities have always been demonstrative of the conditions of the society in which they partake. This demonstration is manifested by the number of decisions which must be made by its inhabitants on a daily basis. In some situations, these decisions have become integrated to synthesize the perspective of clarity and form which is worthy of what has been conceived. It is the premise of concept which enables the additional comprehension of the implications of these choices. These concepts may be applied to the formation of cities in the present day. This perspective will explore the motivations of these c hoices as they have transpired in the history. The external factors which have caused the formation of cities will also be examined. The changing nature with which cities have been conceived and their synthesis will be explored. The aspiration is to dissipate the concept which has been traditionally perceived, that the cities are a unique phenomenon which occur outside of the scope of consciousness of its members. The members of these cities

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Effect of GDP on Electric Energy Consumption

Effect of GDP on Electric Energy Consumption A Regression Analysis of Energy Consumption with Cross-Country Data Abstract This paper reviews four existent studies and performs a cross-country multivariate regression analysis in order to determine the relationship among electric energy consumption, population, land area size, and economic growth as measured by GDP using data from authoritative sources. Results from the statistical tests confirm a positive correlation between the three regressors and the dependent variable. Introduction Energy is as much a part of us and our daily lives as is our very DNA. We need and use energy every single day even more than we may realize and it is available in an array of different forms. This analysis will focus on energy in its electrical form, where it is derived from the flow of electric charge caused by electrical attraction or repulsion between charged particles (Helmenstine, 2017). Since energy is such an essential part of life as we know it, it is not surprising that the topic has made headlines time and time again. The New York Times claims that, in a recent study, the United States was ranked eighth among twenty-three of the world’s top energy-consuming countries in efficiency, and that, according to Federal data, America loses as much as two-thirds of the power it generates through simple waste (Cavanagh, 2017). Understanding the impact of these statistics and deciding how to improve electric energy efficiency begins with interpreting the demand for and consumption of electric energy. This regression will seek to quantify the effects of a selection of variables on electric energy consumption, specifically examining Gross Domestic Product (GDP), national populations, and land area size across diversified countries around the world, and to serve as a reference and aid for policy makers in estimating marginal energy capacity needs in accordance with flu ctuations among these variables. I hypothesize that the coefficients on a country’s GDP, population, and land mass are positive when regressed against national, annual electric energy consumption. Review of Previous Literature There are a considerable number of studies that look at the effects of a nation’s production level as an economic component of its energy consumption. One pioneering study by Kraft and Kraft (1978) compiled annualized expenditure data for the time period between 1947 and 1974.   Using a bivariate Sims causality test, results presented a causal, unidirectional relationship from gross national product (GNP) to energy consumption for the United States. In order to adapt and distinguish my analysis from this 1978 study, I will focus on updated data from the time period between 2010 and 2015. Similarly, in order to improve general comprehensibility, I will regress gross domestic product (GDP), rather than GNP, on electric energy consumption. GNP is a logical and effective variable to use since it quantifies a country’s production values regardless of the geographic location of the production, but GDP is the more commonly utilized method for calculating a country’s e conomic standing and success in the world, so GDP is the particular measure we will use. Mohanty and Chaturvedi (2015) interpreted an extensive assortment of secondhand findings to determine whether electric energy consumption drives economic growth or vice versa. Mohanty and Chaturvedi reviewed forty-seven independent studies to compare the presence and direction of a causal relationship between economic growth and energy consumption. Twenty-six of the articles examined suggested the existence of a causal relationship from economic growth to energy consumption; thirty-two found energy consumption to have a causal relationship to economic growth. Eleven analyses found simultaneous causality between economic growth and energy consumption, and three found no relationship either way. After reviewing the empirical research, Mohanty and Chaturvedi then collected annualized data from India for the time period from 1970-1971 to 2011-2012 and applied the two-step Engle-Granger technique along with the Granger causality/Block exogeneity Wald test. Results suggested that electric energy consumption does in fact fuel economic growth in both the short run and the long run. However, this analysis revolves around Indian data, and the authors conclude that the lack of consensus on the relationship between energy consumption and economic growth is primarily a result of country-specific economic structures, methodology adopted, and varying period of study. In order to build upon this study, I will use a similar time frame, from 2010-2015, and I will include data from one hundred seventy countries to evaluate energy consumption amongst a diverse selection of industrial systems. Ameyaw et al (2007) argues that electricity performs an essential function in the economic development of most countries. The detailed analysis specifically explores the causality nexus, the estimation of elasticity of energy consumption on economic growth and vice versa, in response to its importance in formulating and implementing energy consumption policy and environmental policy. Ameyaw et al targeted the study around Ghana after discovering that the country has not been evident or represented in much of the existent research. Amassing time series data for Ghana between 1970 and 2014, the study implements the Cobb-Douglas growth model and conducts the Vector Error Correction model in order to strategically verify the error correction adjustment. Finally, similar to the test performed by Mohanty and Chaturvedi, Ameyaw et al exercised the Granger Causality test to determine the direction of causality between electric energy consumption and economic growth. The observed findings rev ealed the existence of a unidirectional, causal relationship running from GDP to energy consumption. As a means of expanding upon this analysis, I will, as mentioned previously, use cross-country data and more recent data from 2015. Pao et al (2014) performed the final analysis which we will examine in this study. Data for this investigation were collected from Brazil during the time period between 1980 and 2008. Similar to Mohanty and Chaturvedi and to Ameyaw et al, Pao et al applied the Granger Causality test to the dataset. The results revealed a unidirectional, short-run causality from energy consumption to economic growth along with a bidirectional, robust causality between the two variables. A co-integration test was also implemented, and the outcome was the indication of a long-run equilibrium relationship between variables with electric energy consumption seeming to be real GDP elastic, which suggests that energy consumption has a strong, positive influence on variations in GDP. In the acknowledgement of previous literature, Ameyaw et al found evidence to support bidirectional, unidirectional, and no causality. This inconsistency was attributed not only to differences in location and economic structure, but also to the methodologies used in each analysis. The policy and social impacts of each outcome were explained, beginning with unidirectional causality from economic growth to energy consumption, as this paper seeks to prove. Such an outcome may, according to Ameyaw et al, imply that the implementation of energy conservation policies may have little or no adverse effect on economic growth. On the other hand, if a unidirectional causality is found to run from energy consumption to economic growth, then it is possible that reducing energy consumption could lead to a recession in economic growth, and that increasing energy consumption might positively contribute to a country’s economic growth. In contrast, the presence of bidirectional causality between energy consumption and GDP is likely to mean that economic growth may demand more energy while greater energy consumption might encourage economic growth. Accordingly, energy conservation attempts may inadvertently stunt econo mic growth. Finally, a lack of causality in either direction would indicate a rise in GDP may not affect electric energy consumption, and that energy conservation policies may have no influence on economic growth. It is important to note that all of the data in this study were converted into natural logarithms prior to the empirical analysis so that this series can be interpreted in growth terms rather than raw values. Similar to this study, I will include policy recommendations in the conclusion according to the empirical results from my regression. Specification of the Model Following the empirical literature in energy economics, it is logical to form a multivariate regression model between electric energy consumption and economic growth as follows: ECt = ÃŽ ²0 + ÃŽ ²1Popt + ÃŽ ²2LAt + ÃŽ ²3GDPt + ut, where EC represents energy consumption, Pop is population size, LA represents the land area as determined by the physical size of a country, and GDP is real GDP. The error term, ut, is assumed to be independent and identically distributed (iid) with a mean of zero and a constant variance. GDP, for this experiment, has been calculated as follows: GDP = C + I + G + NE, where C is national consumption, I is representative of investment, G is government expenditure, and NE is net exports which is measured as total imports subtracted from total exports. In accordance with observed research, the estimator coefficient on GDPt is expected to be positive; I further hypothesize that the coefficients on Popt and LAt will also be positive, such that: H0: ÃŽ ²1 ≠¤ 0, ÃŽ ²2 ≠¤ 0, and ÃŽ ²3 ≠¤ 0 H1: ÃŽ ²1 > 0, ÃŽ ²2 > 0, and ÃŽ ²3 > 0 Data Description Data for this study has been collected for the time period between 2010 and 2015 across one hundred seventy countries around the world. The regression will be performed using the 2015 data for the following three independent variables: population, land area, and GDP. Population is a sensible variable since it is logical to hypothesize that an area with higher population will have a more complex economic and social infrastructure and consequently greater demand for electric energy. Land area is reasonably expected to have the same effect on electric energy consumption as population does, since a larger country likely has a greater population and so on. The final variable to be regressed is GDP since it is a rational measure of economic growth and success. More developed countries, a.k.a. those with higher GDP, commonly have more advanced infrastructures and more taxing industrial and agricultural systems; subsequently, greater demand for electric energy is inferential. Population and GDP data were compiled from the World Bank, a regularly updated, open-access center for international data and statistics. To enhance comprehensibility, GDP values have been adjusted for inflation to reflect current U.S. dollars (USD). Electric energy consumption data were drawn from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a government funded organization dedicated to collecting and analyzing impartial, independent energy data. Information from the EIA’s public access website is trusted and used by legislators, policy makers, and statisticians around the world. Figure 1. Cross-country scatter plots of the energy consumption and real GDP, 2015 Figure 1 is a scatter plot showing the relationship between electric energy consumption (in billion Kilowatthours) and GDP (in real USD). Containing all one hundred seventy observations, a cluster in the bottom left corner is undeniable, given the exception of a few outliers. Figure 2 adjusts to show a clearer view of the majority of the data, excluding the top ten countries with the highest GDP. Figure 2. Zoomed in view of Figure 1 to exclude outliers Figure 3. Summary statistics for the year 2015   Figure 3 shows the descriptive statistics of each variable with the full one hundred seventy observations included. Results The following table, Figure 4, presents a summarization of the results from four separate regression tests performed on the dataset: As expected, the outcomes offer beta coefficients which estimate a positive correlation between each independent variable and the dependent variable. However, it is interesting to note that the intercept value is only statistically significant in the fourth regression, when all variables have been included. Simultaneously, the fourth regression possesses the highest R2 and adjusted R2, which proposes a reliable, positive relationship between the independent variables and electric energy consumption. Regardless of the insignificant intercept terms, each of the first three regressions is worth noting. In the first analysis, population alone is regressed against energy consumption. The coefficient on the population is positive and statistically significant at the 1% level. This indicates that countries with larger populations will, at least theoretically, have greater demand for electric energy. The magnitude of the coefficient estimator on population is minimal, such that a unitary increase in population will cause a subsequent increase in demand for electric energy by just 0.00000257; nevertheless, it is a positive influence, and that satisfies our originaly hypothesis. R2 and the adjusted R2 for this test are 0.56 and 0.55, respectively, indicating overall significance in explaining variance among the dependent variable. Land area is treated as the sole regressor in the second regression. Similar to the first regression, the coefficient on land area is positive and statistically significant at the 1% level. One key difference, however, is the value of the intercept term. The first regression shows a positive intercept, while the second has a negative one. The coefficient estimator value and magnitude are roughly the same though, with a value of 0.000232 and unsubstantial magnitude. R2 and the adjusted R2 are 0.48 and 0.47, respectively, signifying acceptable importance in explaining variance among the dependent variable. The final simple linear regression performed is the third test which considers GDP as the lone regressor. Again, like the previous two regressions, this test shows a positive coefficient on GDP that is statistically significant at the 1% level. The intercept value is positive, similar to the first regression and different from the second. The coefficient estimator is noticeably smaller in this regression, however, with a value of 0.000000000153. Such a low value suggests questionable magnitude and importance, especially when combined with the inferior R2 and adjusted R2 value of 0.43. The fourth and final regression completed is the test which regresses all three of our independent variables against energy consumption. This test is the only one which has a statistically significant intercept, but it is similar to the other regressions in that the coefficient on each independent variable is positive and significant at the 1% level. The values on the intercept, population term, land area term, and GDP term are as follows: -52.03, 0.00000136, 0.000129, and 0.0000000000498, respectively. The R2 and adjusted R2 share a value of 0.70, explaining an impressive percentage of variation among the dependent variable. Conclusion The analysis in this paper shows that GDP, population, and land area size all have a positive impact on energy consumption. These effects are statistically significant, even at the 1% level. My results match those of much of the existent literature, including Kraft and Kraft (1978), who use data from 1947 to 1974. This analysis confirms their findings using recent data, suggesting that experimental methodologies adopted by individual researchers may play a bigger role in variations among results than time periods do. The fact that there is such a lack of consensus among empirical results implies that policy makers should closely examine the techniques used to achieve the results they are given and thoroughly consider the differences in the economic structure of their country compared to countries included in studies. This is exactly what Ameyaw et al (2007) had in mind when they specified their test around Ghana’s data, improving applicability of the results to environmental and energy conservation policy makers in the country of Ghana. The conclusions above, however, are indeed subject to a number of limitations. First, it is unclear to what extent these results can be applied to any individual country. Looking at global policy decisions, it is arguable, based on my results, that energy conservation attempts would likely have no negative impact on economic growth and development. However, previous literature has proposed that the relationship between economic growth and energy consumption is likely to differ among diverse countries with unique economic structures and geographic conditions. Second, there may be a host of other variables that affect electric energy consumption, such as funding available for, technological advancement in, and national ability and willingness to adopt renewable energy sources as these sources may be more or less efficient and consequently alter our interpretation of the energy consumption data. Including such quantities in my regression would increase the precision of the estimations a nd simultaneously help to eliminate potential omitted variable bias. The ways in which economic growth impacts electric energy consumption are not necessarily clear. A rise in economic growth may be associated with an initial increase in CO2 emissions, which could worsen economic activity or encourage individuals to seek alternative energy sources. As a result, GDP would fall while renewable energy consumption would grow exponentially. Such investigations, however, are left for future research. Bibliography Ameyaw, B., Oppong, A., Abruquah, L. and Ashalley, E. (2017). Causality Nexus of Electricity Consumption and Economic Growth: An Empirical Evidence from Ghana. Open Journal of Business and Management, 05(01), pp.1-10. Cavanagh, T. (2017). Opinion | Why Is America Wasting So Much Energy?. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017]. Data.worldbank.org. (2017). GDP, PPP (current international $) | Data. [online] Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.PP.CD [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017]. Eia.gov. (2015). International Energy Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/data/browser/#/?pa=0000002c=ruvvvvvfvtvnvv1urvvvvfvvvvvvfvvvou20evvvvvvvvvnvvuvoct=0tl_id=2-Avs=INTL.2-2-AFG-BKWH.Avo=0v=Hend=2015 [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017]. Helmenstine, A. (2017). What Electrical Energy Is and How It Works. [online] ThoughtCo. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/electrical-energy-definition-and-examples-4119325 [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017]. Kraft, J. and Kraft, A. (1978) On the Relationship between Energy and GNP. Journal of Energy Development, 3, 401-403. Mohanty, A. and Chaturvedi, D. (2015). Relationship between Electricity Energy Consumption and GDP: Evidence from India. International Journal of Economics and Finance, 7(2), pp.186-202. Pao, H., Li, Y. and Fu, H. (2014). Causality Relationship between Energy Consumption and Economic Growth in Brazil. Smart Grid and Renewable Energy, 05(08), pp.198-205.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Lady of the Manor Essay -- essays research papers

Andrew Pickett  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  May 31st 2002 Macbeth Ruthless Essay  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Period 2 and 3   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  To be ruthless is to act with malice regardless of the consequences. In the first two acts of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is clearly more ruthless than Macbeth himself. While when both characters are faced with the idea of murdering Duncan they appear equally as ruthless, it becomes clear as the scenes progress that ultimately, Lady Macbeth is the more ruthless of the two.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Lady Macbeth and Macbeth appear equally as ruthless when faced with the idea of murdering Duncan. In an aside to himself Macbeth exclaims, â€Å"The Prince of Cumberland! This is a step on which I must fall down or else o’er leap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.† (1.4.55-59) When Macbeth learns of his new position his mind almost immediately thinks of what is now standing between him and the throne. His ruthless nature takes charge almost instantly as his mind turns toward murdering Duncan to secure the throne. Lady Macbeth’s ruthless nature also takes charge almost immediately after she learns of Macbeth’s new title. â€Å"†¦unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.† (1.5.48-50) Lady Macbeth calls on the spirits to strip her of her womanhood and fill her with cruelty and evil. With these new qualities she believes she will be able to take charge and through with the plan to murder Duncan. She is clearly passionate about securing the thrown for her husband, Macbeth. Both Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s ruthless personalities clearly take charge when they consider murdering Duncan. However as the time of the murder draws closer, Lady Macbeth’s ruthlessness will surpass that of Macbeth.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Prior to the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth is clearly more ruthless than Macbeth. In the last scene of the first... ...hat fears the painted devil.† Lady Macbeth offers no emotion or compassion for Macbeth and the murder he has committed. She even proceeds to call him childish for being sensitive to the fact that he just murdered. Lady Macbeth is undoubtedly more ruthless as she is cold to Macbeth and his feelings and only looks ahead to covering up the task. Her cruel, malice nature is most evident as she will not even comfort her husband when he is most panicked.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  It is clear that Lady Macbeth is more ruthless than Macbeth in the first two acts of the play. In the beginning, it appears that both characters are equally as ruthless, yet as the story progresses the true evil nature of Lady Macbeth is revealed. Her coldhearted ruthlessness is far beyond that of Macbeth both before and after the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth’s ruthless personality clearly overpowers all the good in Macbeth creating an evil pair that will stop at nothing to achieve the throne.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Lady of the Manor Essay -- essays research papers Andrew Pickett  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  May 31st 2002 Macbeth Ruthless Essay  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Period 2 and 3   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  To be ruthless is to act with malice regardless of the consequences. In the first two acts of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is clearly more ruthless than Macbeth himself. While when both characters are faced with the idea of murdering Duncan they appear equally as ruthless, it becomes clear as the scenes progress that ultimately, Lady Macbeth is the more ruthless of the two.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Lady Macbeth and Macbeth appear equally as ruthless when faced with the idea of murdering Duncan. In an aside to himself Macbeth exclaims, â€Å"The Prince of Cumberland! This is a step on which I must fall down or else o’er leap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.† (1.4.55-59) When Macbeth learns of his new position his mind almost immediately thinks of what is now standing between him and the throne. His ruthless nature takes charge almost instantly as his mind turns toward murdering Duncan to secure the throne. Lady Macbeth’s ruthless nature also takes charge almost immediately after she learns of Macbeth’s new title. â€Å"†¦unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.† (1.5.48-50) Lady Macbeth calls on the spirits to strip her of her womanhood and fill her with cruelty and evil. With these new qualities she believes she will be able to take charge and through with the plan to murder Duncan. She is clearly passionate about securing the thrown for her husband, Macbeth. Both Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s ruthless personalities clearly take charge when they consider murdering Duncan. However as the time of the murder draws closer, Lady Macbeth’s ruthlessness will surpass that of Macbeth.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Prior to the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth is clearly more ruthless than Macbeth. In the last scene of the first... ...hat fears the painted devil.† Lady Macbeth offers no emotion or compassion for Macbeth and the murder he has committed. She even proceeds to call him childish for being sensitive to the fact that he just murdered. Lady Macbeth is undoubtedly more ruthless as she is cold to Macbeth and his feelings and only looks ahead to covering up the task. Her cruel, malice nature is most evident as she will not even comfort her husband when he is most panicked.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  It is clear that Lady Macbeth is more ruthless than Macbeth in the first two acts of the play. In the beginning, it appears that both characters are equally as ruthless, yet as the story progresses the true evil nature of Lady Macbeth is revealed. Her coldhearted ruthlessness is far beyond that of Macbeth both before and after the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth’s ruthless personality clearly overpowers all the good in Macbeth creating an evil pair that will stop at nothing to achieve the throne.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  

Thursday, October 24, 2019

How Do You Define Success?

Success is defined differently by different people. For some, success means becoming rich, for others reaching high social position. Everyone has his / her own definition of success. Depending on how you see the world, your definition of success will differ from others. However, achieving success is far from easy. Depending on the definition of success, it can be achieved through many ways and come in different forms. Nonetheless, whether small or big, success in any form carries the same worth as long as people continue to strive for it.There are many different ways to achieving success, you should just consider which way is the most appropriate for your desired results. Perseverance also plays a role, if you are willing to put in the effort; you will achieve more success and thus will be more satisfied in the end. To achieve success you should never give up. There is no use in just waiting for wishes and dreams to come true. Success can only be achieved if people learn from their m istakes.You never come close to success unless you experience failure. Believe me; you can embrace success if you only believe in yourself and your abilities. Moris Meterling said, â€Å"People are born of their thought, so think positively. † In short, no matter what situation you are involved in, in order for your goal to be achieved, you must always give your best effort, persevere, learn from your mistakes and believe in yourself. The most important thing to remember is that all you achieved is only to your benefit.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Earthquake Sichuan

In May 2008, a memorial tragedy has carved our heart. More than 60,000 of our compatriots died in the Great Sichuan Earthquake. It was a once-in-a-year strong earthquake registering a magnitude of 7. 8 measured in the Richter scale. The province where the earthquake took place, Sichuan, is in western China and its capital is named Chengdu. It is surrounded by the Sichuan Basin. In the Great Sichuan earthquake, the epicenter was in Wenchuan County, Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, which is 80 km north-west of Chengdu; and its depth was 19 km. On May 12, 2008, the earthquake occurred at 14:28 (China Standard Time) and the first tremor was felt. The earthquake was so strong that it was felt by cities like Beijing and Shanghai, and neighbour places like Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam and Thailand also experienced tremors. The scope of the areas affected by the quake mainly included the north-east China along the Longmen Shan fault. The Sichuan Basin was created 55 millions years ago, where the Indo-Australian Plate collided with the Eurasian Plate. These endogenetic forces create fold mountains, and therefore the Sichuan basin is bounded by mountains on all sides. As a consequence, areas around the Sichuan Basin are prone to earthquake. In 1933, there was a 7. 5-magnitude earthquake occurring in north-west of Sichuan, causing 7500 deaths. What has caused such a massive earthquake? To be precise, according to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred because of the motion on a northeast striking reverse fault on the northwestern edge of the Sichuan Basin. Since the crustal materials moved slowly from the high Tibetan Plateau, when they flowed to the strong crust underlying the Sichuan Basin and southeastern China, pressure gradually developed. The energy was then released in the form of seismic waves and thus led to the occurrence of the earthquake. Another possible cause is that the huge amount of water storage in reservoirs in Sichuan developed stress over the crust. The pressure stored may be released, causing an earthquake. There were not any official warnings prior to the main quake. This is attributed to the fact that earthquakes are hard to forecast, and the results are not always accurate. However, it is said that there was a sign revealing the earthquake: a large number of toads were migrating in Sichuan two days before the main quake. These animals’ abnormal acts may reflect in earthquake events. In the Sichuan Earthquake, the China Earthquake Administration did not find strong evidence to show that an earthquake was to be occurred. Therefore, when the earthquake came, evacuation could not be made effective and thus a huge damage was resulted. Then on 12 May, an earthquake indeed struck the area. The main quake of the Sichuan Earthquake took place at 14:28 local time, nevertheless, the rupture lasted for only 120 seconds. In the following three days, many aftershocks still threatened the people. There were 64 to 104 major aftershocks, with magnitude ranging from 4. 0 to 6. 1. These aftershocks continued to bring new deaths and casualties in the area. For example, on 17 May, an aftershock destabilized a slope and caused a landslide. On 25 and 27 May, the Qingchuan County had two aftershocks on the spot with magnitudes greater than 5. On 27 May again, an aftershock hit the Ningciang County. Till 29 June, the number of deaths has reached about 70,000 and over 370,000 people were injured. More than 17,000 people were missing, and many people were made homeless. More than 15 million people must be evacuated out of the area, and about 45 million people were affected by the incident. As a recent natural hazard, the Sichuan Earthquake is definitely a severe one, with a tremendous destruction. This earthquake caused the most serious casualties and deaths after the occurrence of the Tangshan Earthquake in 1976. Apart from the loss of lives, the earthquake brought about many impacts as well. The impacts can be divided into three aspects, namely social, economic, and environmental. First, 0. 21 million of buildings and houses were collapsed, including 7,000 schools. Many people lost their homes, and students lost their opportunity of education for a period of time. Later it was found that some buildings were too loosely structured; partly because of corruption. Some workers did not do their best to build the buildings. In addition, the communication network was destroyed. In Sichuan, Chongqing and Huabei, the communication was completely jammed. The traffic network was also disrupted. Many highways or railways were cracked due to great vibrations, and the international airport in Chengdu was closed. The roads must be closed for maintenance. These have led to difficulty in relief work. Finally, some victims of the earthquake stole or robbed stuff. After the earthquake, there were more crimes committed by the victims. On the other hand, the Sichuan Earthquake brought environmental issues. In the affected areas, clean water was inadequate. When people had to drink contaminated water, illnesses or diseases may be developed. Also, in the areas, corpses were everywhere and we know how unhygienic it was! Together with the warm temperature, the filthy place set up a good condition for diseases to spread. To make the affected areas more hygienic, the death bodies must be incinerated, and cleaning agents like insecticides must be sprayed regularly. Meanwhile, the affected areas were heavily polluted. The earthquake initiated poisonous gas leakage, explosions or fires, which in turn polluted the air. The ecology was disrupted as well. On the economic aspect, the disastrous events led to huge economic losses. The government used more than $400 billion for relief and rescue work. The Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange lost connection with Sichuan and Chengdu companies, the companies’ stock prices dropped substantially afterwards. Owing to fact that the earthquake has destroyed Sichuan so terribly, prompt relief and rescue work was crucial. The mitigation work involved the efforts of local government, regional and international aid. The central government sent different leaders to the affected areas to manage relief work. On 14 May, two days after the main quake, more than 11,000 people participated to give assistance to the suffered people. A team of medical helpers was sent to deal with health problems. The government also kept necessities and rescue materials which are to be sent to the victims. Different departments cooperate to restore Sichuan’s face. Until 18 May, more than 110,000 military personnel and policemen were sent to participate in rescue work. They saved thousands of lives, evacuated tourists and residents, repaired the highways and transferred materials to the affected victims. This devastating earthquake has called for help from all over the world. In Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, the voluntary or charity organizations held many fund-raising campaigns to raise money or food to the Sichuan people. Even in the initial state of mitigation, the Hong Kong and Macau governments donated 0. 2 billion to China. Many helpers like policemen were also sent to Sichuan to help mitigation work. Apart from regional help, the earthquake victims gained help from international aids. For instance, Valley Tsinghua Network (SVTN) set up the â€Å"China Earthquake Relief Fund† to help victims involved in the massive earthquake. This China Relief Fund provided a convenient platform for individuals, organizations to donate money to the victims, where all proceeds went to the Red Cross Society of China to help restoring the infrastructure in Sichuan. Many countries including India, Singapore, Russia, America and Japan provided China materials, money, apparatus and services to search for lives and help the suffered ones. Some volunteered professionals reached Sichuan to give education to the children, to soothe the suffered people and to give counseling and care to them. The victims’ emotions must be calmed down to prevent emotional disorders. It seems that the Sichuan Earthquake had a perfect solution with the aids of different parties. In fact, there were many difficulties encountered in rescue work. After an earthquake, the immediate step is to save as many lives as possible. The first 72 hours are golden times. The Sichuan Earthquake, however, occurred in mountainous regions where relief efforts were hindered by the landscape. Added to the above, the transfer of materials was difficult because of blocked roads and water transports. The visibility was lowered as a consequence of heavy rains; thus the people could not find the survivors easily. As a result, the rescuers could not reach in time, and there were still a large number of deaths. As seen from the human responses, the earthquake has caught global attention and acquired help and assistance from people. But this still cannot redeem the lost lives. What are the lessons learned through this disaster? Since earthquakes give little warning in advance, the ultimate efforts should be put to mitigation and preparedness. The government has endeavored to pin down the number of deaths and casualties after the earthquake, but what about preparedness? Residents should be well educated about earthquake facts. They should know what to do when an earthquake indeed hits the area. Besides, preparedness includes recruitment of specialized and skillful rescue teams in case of an incidence of earthquake. Transport and communication networks should always be maintained. The apparatus used in rescuing people can be improved by means of technology. Finally, the government can also â€Å"prepare† by inspecting the quality of buildings. Construction codes have been modified to reinforce the buildings in order to cope with earthquakes. However, the privately-built housings were not reported. Therefore, buildings with bad quality are likely to demolish when earthquakes hit. It was mentioned above that the Sichuan Earthquake is the most disastrous one following the Tangshan Earthquake. In fact, both quakes have similar magnitudes and depths of epicenter. With a mountainous range in Sichuan, relief effort is difficult because the affected areas are hardly reached, and the materials are hardly transferred. So why did the Tangshan Earthquake cause much more deaths than the Sichuan one? The prime reason is that China restricted the spread of the news of Tangshan Earthquake, thus rejected help from others. As mentioned above, the suffered people in Sichuan Earthquake received many aids from all over the world. The mitigation was much better for the latter event. Thanks to everyone who has paid an effort to help the victims in Sichuan. Natural hazards are inevitable. It is heartbroken that the people lose their homes, their family or their beloved ones. To bring minimal loss after a disaster, all of us must cooperate to give help. It is glad to see that all people were giving a hand to the Sichuan victims, and it is nice to see that Sichuan today is recovered. The Sichuan Earthquake has given us a precious lesson: what we should do today is prepare for the worst, and when another outraging disaster strikes, we shall do our best to counteract it. References http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_Tangshan_earthquake http://www.ntdtv.com/xtr/b5/2008/05/21/a144365.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Sichuan_earthquake

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Critical Analysis of A Friend Who Understands fully Notes on Humanizing Research in A Multiethnic Youth Community

Critical Analysis of A Friend Who Understands fully Notes on Humanizing Research in A Multiethnic Youth Community Introduction This paper seeks to carryout critical analysis of an article, â€Å"A Friend Who Understands fully’: Notes on Humanizing Research in A Multiethnic Youth Community† by Django Paris. The article examines how to humanize research in the context of youth and multiethnic community.Advertising We will write a custom essay sample on Critical Analysis of â€Å"A Friend Who Understands fully’: Notes on Humanizing Research in A Multiethnic Youth Community† specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More According to Paris (2011), humanizing research involves methodological approach that employs the dialogic process in raising consciousness and building effective relationships between researchers and participants based on dignity and care (p.137). Humanization of research is not only ethical, but also enhances the validity of the research. Since, humanization of research in schools and multiethnic communities is effecti ve in enhancing validity of research, this essay summarizes and critically analyses the research article. Summary The article starts by stating that, the relationship between teachers and students seem to be oppressive and imposing; thus, it hinders the process of conducting effective research and affects the validity of findings. In the context of schools and multiethnic communities, elements of oppression and marginalization are barriers that hinder effective research process. Hence, the article suggests that humanization of methodological approach is the remedy of dispelling fears associated with oppression and marginalization. Paris (2011) asserts that, process of observation and interview during research should engage participants and researchers in a humanizing manner (p.138). Humanization of methodological process enhances relationships between researchers and participants thus promote effective interaction that is robust for research. Therefore, humanizing process of researc h is imperative in an educational environment where oppression and marginalization exist. To delineate the meaning of humanizing research, the article delves into dialogic contours of relationships and fieldwork moves in the context of youth and multiethnic environment. These relationships form the methodological process that humanize research and ultimately enhances the validity of its findings.Advertising Looking for essay on social sciences? Let's see if we can help you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More As a basis of research, the author explains own experiences as a way of supporting his views on the essence of humanization of research in multiethnic background where many ethical issues hinder effective research process. The author conducted a year research at South Vista High, whereby, he examined the progress of eight students in terms of language and literacy, while theorizing how multiethnic environment of schooling may influence their edu cation and career. According to Paris (2011), occasional interaction with students led to unprecedented understanding that changed my own perception of cultural, social and linguistic worlds (p.138). Central to experiences is the extent to which students closely interacted with him because Rahul, one of the students marveled the author when he emailed him a free style lyric, which depicted a lot about the nature of relationships they had. The article shows that Rahul’s lyric highlighted the essence of relationships in research, for he freely expressed his thoughts to the teacher without any reservation. Paris (2011) states that, Rahul wrote to me a freestyle lyric because he had developed trust, thus ‘a friend who understands fully’ what he means for he perceived that they have a common experience of life (p.139). Rahul was so open to his teacher and researcher, Django Paris, because he had told them about his racial and ethnic identity and his life experiences, which enhanced interaction and relationships. Such experience triggered Django Paris to understand the importance of humanizing research in multiethnic and schooling environment because it is prone to oppression and marginalization. Through own experiences of humanizing research, Django Paris examined humanization through fieldwork. The article focuses on ways of enhancing participant observation and interviewing as an imperative methodological process of conducting ethnographic research that describes relationships in the context of culture, language and society. Paris (2011) asserts that, dialogic process in an effective way of building reciprocal relationships that can humanize research methodology and enhance the validity of its findings (p. 140). Relationships are central in research because; they humanize research process and enhance researchers and participants to interact effectively, as they share issues in a genuine dialogue that is free of oppression and marginalization.A dvertising We will write a custom essay sample on Critical Analysis of â€Å"A Friend Who Understands fully’: Notes on Humanizing Research in A Multiethnic Youth Community† specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Since schools and law enforcement agents has been constantly monitoring the youth, students have been under serious suspicion in that they could not interact with strangers, thus a barrier to effective research. However, field interaction provided the basis of building trustworthy relationships that made them open up and participate actively in the research process. To improve humanization of the research, the article states that, interview is central in conducting qualitative research that entails social and ethnographic studies. Collection of reliable and valid interview data requires researchers to develop not only rapport, but also create a friendly and interactive environment that encourages sharing of personal e xperiences. In a school environment, there is a sense of power difference between teachers and students, which creates oppressive atmosphere that hinders effective interaction. Additional, in multiethnic schools, there is racial and ethnic prejudice that causes marginalization of other students, and thus affects interaction of teachers and students. Thus, Paris (2011) explains that, for an interview to be effective in gathering relevant information, researchers need to ensure that students or participants share private issues openly, otherwise oppression and marginalization limits effective interview (p.143). It means that an interview should consider ethnic difference among students as in the case of South Vista High. Hence, cultural and linguistic difference plays a significant role in determining interaction of researchers and participants. The article further asserts that understanding of cultural and linguistic aspects of students demands active participation of researchers in a study. Participant observation of ethnographic research requires a researcher to act as an observer, participant and participant observer at different times since research is a continuum of activities. For instance, playing football with other students, makes one a participant, while being passive in the classroom makes one an observant. According to Paris (2011), participation in relationships that are relevant to the participants enhances building of genuine relationships that are interactive and inspiring, and thus form a basis of humanization through participation (p.145).Advertising Looking for essay on social sciences? Let's see if we can help you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Therefore, participation on the part of researchers is essential in improving humanization of the research process and enhancing validity of information collected. Critical Analysis of Article The author of the article argues basing on empirical experiences that he underwent during the process of conducting research. Research process showed that the author is an empiricist who believes in empirical determination of hypotheses. Hypothesis of the research was that, humanization of methodological process of research is an effective way of enhancing dialogic interaction between researchers and participants in an oppressive and marginalizing environment, that exists in multiethnic schools. Through empirical approach, the author described how he significantly enhanced interaction and validity of research findings through humanization. Since the whole article is about the author’s experiences with students, he supports empiricism epistemologies that rely on experiences. According to Grix (2002), empiricism is an epistemology that relies on experience as the foundation of knowledge (p.179). Thus, the outstanding overreliance of the author on personal experiences shows that he is an empiricist. Specifically, the author bases his assertions on reality of experiences observed while interacting with students; thus, he is a realist. Hence, the article perception of humanization of the research process has its basis in empiricism and realism. The theoretical framework of the article is empiricism, which asserts that knowledge emanates from empirical studies or personal experiences. Based on empiricism framework, the article delved into experiences of the author concerning the essence of humanization in a multiethnic and schooling environment. Evidently, the whole article deals with experiences of the author throughout the research period by outlining various interactions and relationships that proved to be effective in enhancing validity of the research. The research er narrates how he interacted effectively with students during the period of research, for he employed humanizing methodologies of research that aided dialogic process of interaction. Grix (2002) asserts that, common sense and reality form part of experiences in epistemology of empiricism (p.180). Therefore, the article examines the author’s experiences, which show that he employed empirical framework to elucidate his arguments. Given that empiricism and realism are part of the theoretical framework, the researcher assumed that his experiences are reliable and replicable in multicultural schools. Through empiricism and realism, the author theorized that culture, ethnicity and power influence effective research process since oppression and marginalization limits interaction and development of relationships. The research is a qualitative form of research that uses ethnographic approach in determining ways of humanizing research processes. The ethnographic approach entails colle ction of data in a social environment, in the form of observations and interviews. Through observations and interview, scientists obtain relevant data that enable understanding of social issues that a research seeks to solve. Since the problem in the research was improving the effectiveness of the research process and validity of its findings, the article supports the view that humanization of research methodology is an effective way of enhancing validity of findings. In ethnographic approach, researchers focus on studying social variables over a long period. The research in the article took about a year where the author examined how social, cultural, ethnical and linguistic factors influenced dialogic process of research. Thus, the article presents how the author interacted with students during the period of research and explains how relationship between teachers and students enhanced dialogic process of research that encourages interviews and observations. Strategies of collecting and interpreting data from an ethnographic study mainly involve interview and participant observation. The author participated actively in conducting the interview and observation among students throughout the year to establish how South Vista High students interact. The interviews sought to establish how ethnical, social, cultural and linguistic aspects of students influence their interaction with teachers, researchers and even strangers. Moreover, participation observation was another strategy that the article utilized in assessing behaviors of participants. Participation observation was a dominant strategy because the author actively interacted with students while making observations; thus, the author was both a participant and observer at the same time. The article falls under chronotope III, which perceives knowledge as a social construct linked to power of relations. Broadly, chronotope III deals with consciousness, skepticism, and praxis. In a social environment, chronotope III holds that dialogic processes enhance individual consciousness and emergence of truth. Since chronotope III assumes that the truth lies in a person, it views that conscietization is the best way of unmasking reality and enhancing social relationships. With regard to praxis, chronotope III perceives that reciprocal relationships exists between knowledge and theory, hence warrant humanization of research methodology. According to Kamberelis and Dimitriadis (2005), in qualitative research, chronotopes are historical inquiries that consist of natural experiences of social scientists (p.25). Thus, the author examined own experiences in terms of social, cultural and ethnical factors over a period. The article examines how oppression and marginalization occur in a multicultural environment and affect effective research process. The article asserts that, observation and interview are considerable methodological approaches of research; however, they are subject to ethnical, cultural, and social prejudices that limit effective interaction of participants. Thus, humanization of social and cultural factors in research enhances relationship between researchers and participants. The article used and criticized other elements in the literature regarding humanization of research methodology. The article quoted Paulo Freire who asserted that relationship between teachers and the student is oppressive because of power difference. Moreover, the article utilized a number of literature review that showed that social and ethnic issues affect relationships between teachers and students. Thus, the author used literature as the basis of conducting research to establish whether humanization of research methodology enhances its validity. Given that literature review confirms that social and ethnic factors affect the validity of interviews and observations, the author extends the research through humanization. To study humanization approach, the qualitative research involved personal experiences of the researcher throughout the year while interacting with students of South Vista High. Thus, humanization of research methodology was the objective of the article in enhancing effectiveness and validity of research. Conclusion Finally, humanization of research is imperative in enhancing the relationship between researchers and participants. The article has effectively demonstrated that relationships between researchers and participants determine not only ethical nature of the research process but also validity of the information. Relationships between teachers and students can be oppressive, thus limiting effective interaction. Moreover, multiethnic schools are also prone to ethnic or racial prejudice that causes marginalization of other students. Hence, under aforementioned oppressive and marginalizing environment, research cannot be effective because students have many reservations that significantly affect the validity of the findings. Therefore, humanization of research methodology process is particularly essential in enhancing dialogic consciousness, building trustworthy relationships, and interactions that are robust for effective research. References Grix, J. (2002). Introducing Students to the Generic Terminology of Social Research.  Politics, 22(3), 175-186. Kamberelis, G., Dimitriadis, G. (2005). On qualitative Inquiry: Approaches to  Language and Literacy Research. New York: Teachers College Press. Paris, D. (2011). A friend who Understand Fully: Notes on humanizing Research In a Multiethnic Youth Community. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 24(2), 137-149.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Brilliant Lies essays

Brilliant Lies essays Truth is the real casualty in Brilliant Lies. Do you agree? The truth, in its complete and untarnished form, is undoubtedly the ultimate victim in Brilliant Lies. The truth is rarely heard from Suzy. Her perception is coloured by her unrealistic vision of the way her life should be. Katy on the other hand sees the truth in its full realism due to her sexual preferences, which has made her look not only into herself, but to see others in a different light. Paul sees the world through Christian eyes, which sometimes can warp opinions, and Brian tells a heavily filtered version of the truth, sanitizing and glamorizing facts. The aggressive Gary Fitzgerald has a perception of the truth, which is greatly influenced by his wife and her family. The truth is a greater victim in this story than Suzy. Through the ages truth has always been held in high esteem. Whether it be in the bible or in constitutions, upholding the truth is of up most importance. The truth can make or break the character of a person. The way they use the truth tells a lot about the character of a person. When the truth is forgotten to line ones own pocket it can become the unrecognized victim of egos and self-centered activity. Suzys misuse of the truth is a prime example of this. Suzys insatiable appetite for money and her relationship with her sleazebag father has coloured her view of the truth greatly. The vision Suzy has for herself and her lifestyle revolves around sex and money. Give one and get the other! For years this saying has been such a great part of her life that it has become almost a habit to live on easy street. She has always been supported financially, either living off her father or fooling herself into having a series of deep and meaningfuls with the half-dozen or so wealthy unmarried heterosexual men in the city. Her female ways have always won her first prize and to be sudd ...

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Dirty Job Chapter 12

Romano was the poundee, Charlie could tell because he’d put a dot of nail polish between his little ears so he could tell it apart from its companion, Parmesan, who was equally stiff inside the plastic Habitrail box. In the bottom of the exercise wheel, actually. Dead at the wheel. â€Å"Mrs. Ling!† Charlie called. He pried the expired rodent from his darling daughter’s little hand and dropped it in the cage. â€Å"Is Vladlena, Mr. Asher,† came a giant voice from the bathroom. There was a flush and Mrs. Korjev emerged from the bathroom pulling at the clasps of her overalls. â€Å"I’m sorry, I am having to crap like bear. Sophie was safe in chair.† â€Å"She was playing with a dead hamster, Mrs. Korjev.† Mrs. Korjev looked at the two hamsters in the plastic Habitrail box – gave it a little tap, shook it back and forth. â€Å"They sleep.† â€Å"They are not sleeping, they’re dead.† â€Å"They are fine when I go in bathroom. Playing, running on wheel, having laugh.† â€Å"They were not having a laugh. They were dead. Sophie had one in her hand.† Charlie looked more closely at the rodent that Sophie had been tenderizing. Its head looked extremely wet. â€Å"In her mouth. She had it in her mouth.† He grabbed a paper towel from the roll on the counter and started wiping out the inside of Sophie’s mouth. She made a la-la-la sound as she tried to eat the towel, which she thought was part of the game. â€Å"Where is Mrs. Ling, anyway?† â€Å"She have to go pick up prescription, so I watch Sophie for short time. And tiny bears are happy when I go in bathroom.† â€Å"Hamsters, Mrs. Korjev, not bears. How long were you in there?† â€Å"Maybe five minute. I am thinking I am now having a strain in my poop chute, so hard I am pushing.† â€Å"Aiiiiieeeee,† came the cry from the doorway as Mrs. Ling returned, and scampered to Sophie. â€Å"Is past time for nap,† Mrs. Ling snapped at Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"I’ve got her now,† Charlie said. â€Å"One of you stay with her while I get rid of the H-A-M-S-T-E-R-S.† â€Å"He mean the tiny bears,† said Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"I get rid, Mr. Asher,† said Mrs. Ling. â€Å"No problem. What happen them?† â€Å"Sleeping,† said Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"Ladies, go. Please. I’ll see one of you in the morning.† â€Å"Is my turn,† said Mrs. Korjev sadly. â€Å"Am I banish? Is no Sophie for Vladlena, yes?† â€Å"No. Uh, yes. It’s fine, Mrs. Korjev. I’ll see you in the morning.† Mrs. Ling was shaking the Habitrail cage. They certainly were sound little sleepers, these hamsters. She liked ham. â€Å"I take care,† she said. She tucked the cage under her arm and backed toward the door, waving. â€Å"Bye-bye, Sophie. Bye-bye.† â€Å"Bye-bye, bubeleh,† said Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"Bye-bye,† Sophie said, with a baby wave. â€Å"When did you learn bye-bye?† Charlie said to his daughter. â€Å"I can’t leave you for a second.† But he did leave her the very next day, to find replacements for the hamsters. He took the cargo van to the pet store this time. Whatever courage or hubris he’d rallied in order to attack the sewer harpies had melted away, and he didn’t even want to go near a storm drain. At the pet store he picked out two painted turtles, each about as big around as a mayonnaise-jar lid. He bought them a large kidney-shaped dish that had its own little island, a plastic palm tree, some aquatic plants, and a snail. The snail, presumably, to bolster the self-esteem of the turtles: â€Å"You think we’re slow? Look at that guy.† To shore up the snail’s morale in the same way, there was a rock. Everyone is happier if they have someone to look down on, as well as someone to look up to, especially if they resent both. This is not only the Beta Male strategy for survival, but the basis for capitalism, democracy, and most religions. After he grilled the clerk for fifteen minutes on the vitality of the turtles, and was assured that they could probably survive a nuclear attack as long as there were some bugs left to eat, Charlie wrote a check and started tearing up over his turtles. â€Å"Are you okay, Mr. Asher?† asked the pet-shop guy. â€Å"I’m sorry,† Charlie said. â€Å"It’s just that this is the last entry in the register.† â€Å"And your bank didn’t give you a new one?† â€Å"No, I have a new one, but this is the last one that my wife wrote in. Now that this one is used up, I’ll never see her handwriting in the check register again.† â€Å"I’m sorry,† said the pet-shop guy, who, until that moment, had thought the rough patch that day was going to be consoling a guy over a couple of dead hamsters. â€Å"It’s not your problem,† Charlie said. â€Å"I’ll just take my turtles and go.† And he did, squeezing the check register in his hand as he drove. She was slipping away, every day a little more. A week ago Jane had come down to borrow some honey and found the plum jelly that Rachel liked in the back of the refrigerator, covered in green fuzz. â€Å"Little brother, this has got to go,† Jane said, making a face. â€Å"No. It was Rachel’s.† â€Å"I know, kid, and she’s not coming back for it. What else do you – oh my God!† She dove away from the fridge. â€Å"What was that?† â€Å"Lasagna. Rachel made it.† â€Å"This has been in here for over a year?† â€Å"I couldn’t make myself throw it out.† â€Å"Look, I’m coming over Saturday and cleaning out this apartment. I’m going to get rid of all the stuff of Rachel’s that you don’t want.† â€Å"I want it all.† Jane paused while moving the green-and-purple lasagna to the trash bin, pan and all. â€Å"No you don’t, Charlie. This kind of stuff doesn’t help you remember Rachel, it just hurts you. You need to focus on Sophie and the rest of both of your lives. You’re a young guy, you can’t give up. We all loved Rachel, but you have to think about moving on, maybe going out.† â€Å"I’m not ready. And you can’t come over this Saturday, that’s my day in the shop.† â€Å"I know,† Jane said. â€Å"It’s better if you’re not here.† â€Å"But you can’t be trusted, Jane,† Charlie said, as if that was as obvious as the fact that Jane was irritating. â€Å"You’ll throw out all the pieces of Rachel, and you’ll steal my clothes.† Jane had been swiping Charlie’s suits pretty regularly since he’d started dressing more upscale. She was wearing a tailored, double-breasted jacket that he’d just gotten back from Three Fingered Hu a few days ago. Charlie hadn’t even worn it yet. â€Å"Why are you still wearing suits, anyway? Isn’t your new girlfriend a yoga instructor? Shouldn’t you be wearing those baggy pants made out of hemp and tofu fibers like she does? You look like David Bowie, Jane. There, I’ve said it. I’m sorry, but it had to be said.† Jane put her arm around his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek. â€Å"You are so sweet. Bowie is the only man I’ve ever found attractive. Let me clean out your apartment. I’ll watch Sophie that day – give the widows a day to do battle down at the Everything for a Dollar Store.† â€Å"Okay, but just clothes and stuff, no pictures. And just put it in the basement in boxes, no throwing anything away.† â€Å"Even food items? Chuck, the lasagna, I mean – â€Å" â€Å"Okay, food items can go. But don’t let Sophie know what you’re doing. And leave Rachel’s perfume, and her hairbrush. I want Sophie to know what her mother smelled like.† That night, when he finished at the shop, he went down to the basement to the little gated storage area for his apartment and visited the boxes of all of the things that Jane had packed up. When that didn’t work, he opened them and said good-bye to every single item – pieces of Rachel. Seemed like he was always saying good-bye to pieces of Rachel. On his way home from the pet shop he had stopped at A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books because it, too, was a piece of Rachel and he needed a touchstone, but also because he needed to research what he was doing. He’d scoured the Internet for information on death, and while he’d found that there were a lot of people who wanted to dress like death, get naked with the dead, look at pictures of the naked and the dead, or sell pills to give erections to the dead, there just wasn’t anything on how to go about being dead, or Death. No one had ever heard of Death Merchants or sewer harpies or anything of the sort. He left the store with a two-foot-high stack of books on Death and Dying, figuring, as a Beta Male typically does, that before he tried to take the battle to the enemy again, he’d better find out something about what he was dealing with. That evening he settled in on the couch next to his baby daughter and read while the new turtles, Bruiser and Jeep (so named in hope of instilling durability in them), ate freeze-dried bugs and watched CSI Safari-land on cable. â€Å"Well, honey, according to this Kbler-Ross lady, the five stages of death are anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Well, we went through all of those stages when we lost Mommy, didn’t we?† â€Å"Mama,† Sophie said. The first time she had said â€Å"Mama† had brought Charlie to tears. He had been looking over her little shoulder at a picture of Rachel. The second time she said it, it was less emotional. She was in her high chair at the breakfast bar and was talking to the toaster. â€Å"That’s not Mommy, Soph, that’s the toaster.† â€Å"Mama,† Sophie insisted, reaching out for the toaster. â€Å"You’re just trying to fuck with me, aren’t you?† Charlie said. â€Å"Mama,† Sophie said to the fridge. â€Å"Swell,† Charlie said. He read on, realizing that Dr. Kbler-Ross had been exactly right. Every morning when he woke up to find another name and number in the day planner at his bedside, he went through the entire five-step process before he finished breakfast. But now that the steps had a name – he started to recognize the stages as experienced by the family members of his clients. That’s how he referred to the people whose souls he retrieved: clients. Then he read a book, called The Last Sack, about how to kill yourself with a plastic bag, but it must not have been a very effective book, because he saw on the back cover that there had been two sequels. He imagined the fan mail: Dear Last Sack Author: I was almost dead, but then my sack got all steamed up and I couldn’t see the TV, so I poked an eyehole. I hope to try again with your next book. The book really didn’t help Charlie much, except to instill in him a new paranoia about plastic bags. Over the next few months he read: The Egyptian Book of the Dead, from which he learned how to pull someone’s brain out through his nostril with a buttonhook, which he was sure would come in handy someday; a dozen books on dealing with death, grief, burial rituals, and myths of the Underworld, from which he learned that there had been personifications of Death since the dawn of time, and none of them looked like him; and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, from which he learned that bardo, the transition between this life and the next, was forty-nine days long, and that during the process you would be met by about thirty thousand demons, all of which were described in intricate detail, none of which looked like the sewer harpies, and all of which you were supposed to ignore and not be afraid of because they weren’t real because they were of the material world. â€Å"Strange,† Charlie said to Sophie, â€Å"how all of these books talk about how the material world isn’t significant, yet I have to retrieve people’s souls, which are attached to material objects. It would appear that death, if nothing else, is ironic, don’t you think?† â€Å"No,† Sophie said. At eighteen months Sophie answered all questions either â€Å"No,† â€Å"Cookie,† or â€Å"like Bear† – the last Charlie attributed to leaving his daughter too often in the care of Mrs. Korjev. After the turtles, two more hamsters, a hermit crab, an iguana, and two widemouthed frogs passed on to the great wok in the sky (or, more accurately, on the third floor), Charlie finally acquiesced and brought home a three-inch-long Madagascar hissing cockroach that he named Bear, just so his daughter wouldn’t go through life talking total nonsense. â€Å"Like Bear,† Sophie said. â€Å"She’s talking about the bug,† Charlie said, one night when Jane stopped by. â€Å"She’s not talking about the bug,† Jane said. â€Å"What kind of father buys a cockroach for a little girl anyway? That’s disgusting.† â€Å"Nothing’s supposed to be able to kill them. They’ve been around for like a hundred million years. It was that or a white shark, and they’re supposed to be hard to keep.† â€Å"Why don’t you give up, Charlie? Just let her get by with stuffed animals.† â€Å"A little kid should have a pet. Especially a little kid growing up in the city.† â€Å"We grew up in the city and we didn’t have any pets.† â€Å"I know, and look how we turned out,† Charlie said, gesturing back and forth between the two of them, one who dealt in death and had a giant cockroach named Bear, and the other who was on her third yoga-instructor girlfriend in six months and was wearing his newest Harris tweed suit. â€Å"We turned out great, or at least one of us did,† Jane said, gesturing to the splendor of her suit, like she was a game-show model giving the big prize package on Let’s Get Androgynous, â€Å"You have got to gain some weight. This is tailored way too tight in the butt,† she said, lapsing once again into self-obsession. â€Å"Am I camel-toeing?† â€Å"I am not looking, not looking, not looking,† Charlie chanted. â€Å"She wouldn’t need pets if she ever saw the outside of this apartment,† Jane said, pulling down on the crotch of her trousers to counteract the dreaded dromedary-digit effect. â€Å"Take her to the zoo, Charlie. Let her see something besides this apartment. Take her out.† â€Å"I will, tomorrow. I’ll take her out and show her the city,† Charlie said. And he would have, too, except he woke to find the name Madeline Alby written on his day planner, and next to her name, the number one. Oh yeah, and the cockroach was dead. I will take you out,† Charlie said as he put Sophie in her high chair for breakfast. â€Å"I will, honey. I promise. Can you believe that they’d only give me one day?† â€Å"No,† Sophie said. â€Å"Juice,† she added, because she was in her chair and this was juice time. â€Å"I’m sorry about Bear, honey,† Charlie said, brushing her hair this way, then that, then giving up. â€Å"He was a good bug, but he is no more. Mrs. Ling will bury him. That window box of hers must be getting pretty crowded.† He didn’t remember there being a window box in Mrs. Ling’s window, but who was he to question? Charlie threw open the phone book and, mercifully, found an M. Alby with an address on Telegraph Hill – not ten minutes’ walk away. No client had ever been this close, and with almost six months without a peep or a shade from the sewer harpies, he was starting to feel like he had this whole Death Merchant thing under control. He’d even placed most of the soul vessels that he’d collected. The short notice felt bad. Really bad. The house was an Italianate Victorian on the hill just below the Coit Tower, the great granite column built in honor of the San Francisco firemen who had lost their lives in the line of duty. Although it’s said to have been designed with a fire-hose nozzle in mind, almost no one who sees the tower can resist the urge to comment on its resemblance to a giant penis. Madeline Alby’s house, a flat-roofed white rectangle with ornate scrolling trim and a crowning cornice of carved cherubs, looked like a wedding cake balanced on the tower’s scrotum. So as Charlie trudged up the nut sack of San Francisco, he wondered exactly how he was going to get inside the house. Usually he had time, he could wait and follow someone in, or construct some kind of ruse to gain entrance, but this time he had only one day to get inside, find the soul vessel, and get out. He hoped that Madeline Alby had already died. He really didn’t like being around sick people. When he saw the car parked out front with the small green hospice sticker, his hopes for a dead client were smashed like a cupcake with a sledgehammer. He walked up the front porch steps at the left of the house and waited by the door. Could he open it himself? Would people be able to see it, or did his special â€Å"unnoticeability† extend to objects he moved as well? He didn’t think so. But then the door opened and a woman about Charlie’s age stepped out onto the porch. â€Å"I’m just having a smoke,† she called back into the house, and before she could close the door behind her, Charlie slipped inside. The front door opened into a foyer; to his right Charlie saw what had originally been the parlor. There was a stairway in front of him, and another door beyond that that he guessed led to the kitchen. He could hear voices in the parlor and peeked around the corner to see four elderly women sitting on two couches that faced each other. They were in dresses and hats, and they might have just come from church, but Charlie guessed they had come to see their friend off. â€Å"You’d think she’d give up the smoking, with her mother upstairs dying of cancer,† said one of the ladies, wearing a gray skirt and jacket with matching hat, and a large enameled pin in the shape of a Holstein cow. â€Å"Well, she always was a hardheaded girl,† said another, wearing a dress that looked as if it had been made from the same floral material as the couch. â€Å"You know she used to meet with my son Jimmy up in Pioneer Park when they were little.† â€Å"She said she was going to marry him,† said another woman, who looked like a sister of the first. The ladies laughed, whimsy and sadness mixed in their tones. â€Å"Well, I don’t know what she was thinking, he’s as flighty as can be,† said Mom. â€Å"Yeah, and brain damaged,† added the sister. â€Å"Well, yes, he is now.† â€Å"Since the car ran over him,† said Sis. â€Å"Didn’t he run right in front of a car?† asked one of the ladies who had been silent until now. â€Å"No, he ran right into it,† said Mom. â€Å"He was on the drugs then.† She sighed. â€Å"I always said I had one of each – a boy, a girl, and a Jimmy.† They all nodded. This was not the first time this group had done this, Charlie guessed. They were the type that bought sympathy cards in bulk, and every time they heard an ambulance go by they made a note to pick up their black dress from the cleaner’s. â€Å"You know Maddy looked bad,† said the lady in gray. â€Å"Well, she’s dying, sweetheart, that’s what happens.† â€Å"I guess.† Another sigh. The tinkle of ice in glasses. They were all nursing neat little cocktails. Charlie guessed they’d been mixed by the younger woman who was outside smoking. He looked around the room for something that was glowing red. There was an oak rolltop desk in the corner that he’d like to get a look in, but that would have to wait until later. He ducked out of the doorway and into the kitchen, where two men in their late thirties, maybe early forties, were sitting at an oak table, playing Scrabble. â€Å"Is Jenny coming back? It’s her turn.† â€Å"She might have gone up to see Mom with one of the ladies. The hospice nurse is letting them go up one at a time.† â€Å"I just wish it was over. I can’t stand this waiting. I have a family I need to get back to. I’m about to crawl out of my fucking skin.† The older of the two reached across the table and set two tiny blue pills by his brother’s tiles. â€Å"These help.† â€Å"What are they?† â€Å"Time-released morphine.† â€Å"Really?† The younger brother looked alarmed. â€Å"You hardly even feel them, they just sort of take the edge off. Jenny’s been taking them for two weeks.† â€Å"That’s why you guys are taking this so well and I’m a wreck? You guys are stoned on Mom’s pain medication?† â€Å"Yep.† â€Å"I don’t take drugs. Those are drugs. You don’t take drugs.† The older brother sat back in his chair. â€Å"Pain medication, Bill. What are you feeling?† â€Å"No, I’m not taking Mom’s pain meds.† â€Å"Suit yourself.† â€Å"What if she needs them?† â€Å"There’s enough morphine in that room to bring down a Kodiak bear, and if she needs more, then hospice will bring more.† Charlie wanted to shake the younger brother and yell, Take the drugs, you idiot. Maybe it was the benefit of experience. Having now seen this situation happen again and again, families on deathwatch, out of their minds with grief and exhaustion, friends moving in and out of the house like ghosts, saying good-bye or just covering some sort of base so they could say they had been there, so perhaps they wouldn’t have to die alone themselves. Why was none of this in the books of the dead? Why didn’t the instructions tell him about all the pain and confusion he was going to see? â€Å"I’m going to go find Jenny,† said the older brother, â€Å"see if she wants to get something to eat. We can finish the game later if you want.† â€Å"That’s okay, I was losing anyway.† The younger brother gathered up the tiles and put the board away. â€Å"I’m going to go upstairs and see if I can catch a nap, tonight’s my night watching Mom.† The older brother walked out and Charlie watched the younger brother drop the blue pills into his shirt pocket and leave the kitchen, leaving the Death Dealer to ransack the pantry and the cabinets looking for the soul vessel. But he felt before he even started that it wouldn’t be there. He was going to have to go upstairs. He really, really hated being around sick people. Madeline Alby was propped up and tucked into bed with a down comforter up around her neck. She was so slight that her body barely showed under the covers. Charlie guessed that she might weigh seventy or eighty pounds max. Her face was drawn and he could see the outlines of her eye sockets and her jawbone jutting through her skin, which had gone yellow. Charlie guessed liver cancer. One of her friends from downstairs was sitting at her bedside, the hospice-care worker, a big woman in scrubs, sat in a chair across the room, reading. A small dog, a Yorkshire terrier, Charlie thought, was snuggled up between Madeline’s shoulder and her neck, sleeping. When Charlie stepped into the room, Madeline said, â€Å"Hey there, kid.† He froze in his steps. She was looking right at him – crystal-blue eyes, and a smile. Had the floor squeaked? Had he bumped something? â€Å"What are you doing there, kid?† She giggled. â€Å"Who do you see, Maddy?† asked the friend. She followed Madeline’s gaze but looked right through Charlie. â€Å"A kid over there.† â€Å"Okay, Maddy. Do you want some water?† The friend reached for a child’s sippy cup with a built-in straw from the nightstand. â€Å"No. Tell that kid to come in here, though. Come in here, kid.† Madeline worked her arms out of the covers and started moving her hands in sewing motions, like she was embroidering a tapestry in the air before her. â€Å"Well, I’d better go,† said the friend. â€Å"Let you get some rest.† The friend glanced at the hospice woman, who looked over her reading glasses and smiled with her eyes. The only expert in the house, giving permission. The friend stood and kissed Madeline Alby on the forehead. Madeline stopped sewing for a second, closed her eyes, and leaned into the kiss, like a young girl. Her friend squeezed her hand and said, â€Å"Good-bye, Maddy.† Charlie stepped aside and let the woman pass. He watched her shoulders heave with a sob as she went through the door. â€Å"Hey, kid,† Madeline said. â€Å"Come over here and sit down.† She paused in her sewing long enough to look Charlie in the eye, which freaked him out more than a little. He glanced at the hospice worker, who glanced up from her book, then went back to reading. Charlie pointed to himself. â€Å"Yeah, you,† Madeline said. Charlie was going into a panic. She could see him, but the hospice nurse could not, or so it seemed. An alarm beeped on the nurse’s watch and Madeline picked up the little dog and held it to her ear. â€Å"Hello? Hi, how are you?† She looked up at Charlie. â€Å"It’s my oldest daughter.† The little dog looked at Charlie, too, with a distinct â€Å"save me† look in its eyes. â€Å"Time for some medicine, Madeline,† the nurse said. â€Å"Can’t you see I’m on the phone, Sally,† Madeline said. â€Å"Hang on a second.† â€Å"Okay, I’ll wait,† the nurse said. She picked up a brown bottle with an eyedropper in it, filled the dropper, and checked the dosage and held. â€Å"Bye. Love you, too,† Madeline said. She held the tiny dog out to Charlie. â€Å"Hang that up, would you?† The nurse snatched the dog out of the air and set it down on the bed next to Madeline. â€Å"Open up, Madeline,† the nurse said. Madeline opened wide and the nurse squirted the eyedropper into the old woman’s mouth. â€Å"Mmm, strawberry,† Madeline said. â€Å"That’s right, strawberry. Would you like to wash it down with some water?† The nurse held the sippy cup. â€Å"No. Cheese. I’d like some cheese.† â€Å"I can get you some cheese,† said the nurse. â€Å"Cheddar cheese.† â€Å"Cheddar it is,† said the nurse. â€Å"I’ll be right back.† She tucked the covers around Madeline and left the room. The old woman looked at Charlie again. â€Å"Can you talk, now that she’s gone?† Charlie shrugged and looked in every direction, his hand over his mouth, like someone looking for an emergency spot to spit out a mouthful of bad seafood. â€Å"Don’t mime, honey,† Madeline said. â€Å"No one likes a mime.† Charlie sighed heavily, what was there to lose now? She could see him. â€Å"Hello, Madeline. I’m Charlie.† â€Å"I always liked the name Charlie,† Madeline said. â€Å"How come Sally can’t see you?† â€Å"Only you can see me right now,† Charlie said. â€Å"Because I’m dying?† â€Å"I think so.† â€Å"Okay. You’re a nice-looking kid, you know that?† â€Å"Thanks. You’re not bad yourself.† â€Å"I’m scared, Charlie. It doesn’t hurt. I used to be afraid that it would hurt, but now I’m afraid of what happens next.† Charlie sat down on the chair next to the bed. â€Å"I think that’s why I’m here, Madeline, you don’t need to be afraid.† â€Å"I drank a lot of brandy, Charlie. That’s why this happened.† â€Å"Maddy – can I call you Maddy?† â€Å"Sure, kid, we’re friends.† â€Å"Yes, we are. Maddy, this was always going to happen. You didn’t do anything to cause it.† â€Å"Well, that’s good.† â€Å"Maddy, do you have something for me?† â€Å"Like a present?† â€Å"Like a present you would give to yourself. Something I can keep for you and give you back later, when it will be a surprise.† â€Å"My pincushion,† Madeline said. â€Å"I’d like you to have that. It was my grandmother’s.† â€Å"I’d be honored to keep that for you, Maddy. Where can I find it?† â€Å"In my sewing box, on the top shelf of that closet.† She pointed to an old-style single closet across the room. â€Å"Oh, excuse me, phone.† Madeline talked to her oldest daughter on the edge of the comforter while Charlie got the sewing box from the top shelf of the closet. It was made of wicker and he could see the red glow of the soul vessel inside. He removed a pincushion fashioned from red velvet wrapped with bands of real silver and held it up for Madeline to see. She smiled and gave him the thumbs-up, just as the nurse returned with a small plate of cheese and crackers. â€Å"It’s my oldest daughter,† Madeline explained to the nurse, holding the edge of the comforter to her chest so her daughter didn’t hear. â€Å"Oh my, is that cheese?† The nurse nodded. â€Å"And crackers.† â€Å"I’ll call you back, honey, Sally has brought cheese and I don’t want to be rude.† She hung up the sheet and allowed Sally to feed her bites of cheese and crackers. â€Å"I believe this is the best cheese I’ve ever tasted,† Madeline said. Charlie could tell from the expression on her face that it was, indeed, the best cheese she had ever tasted. Every ounce of her being was going into tasting those slivers of cheddar, and she let loose little moans of pleasure as she chewed. â€Å"You want some cheese, Charlie?† Madeline asked, spraying cracker shrapnel all over the nurse, who turned to look at the corner where Charlie was standing with the pincushion tucked safely in his jacket pocket. â€Å"Oh, you can’t see him, Sally,† Madeline said, tapping the nurse on the hand. â€Å"But he’s a handsome rascal. A little skinny, though.† Then, to Sally, but overly loud to be sure that Charlie could hear: â€Å"He could use some fucking cheese.† Then she laughed, spraying more crackers on the nurse, who was laughing, too, and trying not to dump the plate. â€Å"What did she say?† came a voice from the hall. Then the two sons and the daughter entered, chagrined at first at what they had heard, but then laughing with the nurse and their mother. â€Å"I said that cheese is good,† Madeline said. â€Å"Yeah, Mom, it is,† said the daughter. Charlie stood there in the corner, watching them eat cheese, and laughing, thinking, This should have been in the book. He watched them help her with her bedpan, and give her drinks of water, and wipe her face with a damp cloth – watched her bite at the cloth the way Sophie did when he washed her face. The eldest daughter, who Charlie realized had been dead for some time, called three more times, once on the dog and twice on the pillow. Around lunchtime Madeline was tired, and she went to sleep, and about a half hour into her nap she started panting, then stopped, then didn’t breathe for a full minute, then took a deep breath, then didn’t. And Charlie slipped out the door with her soul in his pocket. A Dirty Job Chapter 12 Romano was the poundee, Charlie could tell because he’d put a dot of nail polish between his little ears so he could tell it apart from its companion, Parmesan, who was equally stiff inside the plastic Habitrail box. In the bottom of the exercise wheel, actually. Dead at the wheel. â€Å"Mrs. Ling!† Charlie called. He pried the expired rodent from his darling daughter’s little hand and dropped it in the cage. â€Å"Is Vladlena, Mr. Asher,† came a giant voice from the bathroom. There was a flush and Mrs. Korjev emerged from the bathroom pulling at the clasps of her overalls. â€Å"I’m sorry, I am having to crap like bear. Sophie was safe in chair.† â€Å"She was playing with a dead hamster, Mrs. Korjev.† Mrs. Korjev looked at the two hamsters in the plastic Habitrail box – gave it a little tap, shook it back and forth. â€Å"They sleep.† â€Å"They are not sleeping, they’re dead.† â€Å"They are fine when I go in bathroom. Playing, running on wheel, having laugh.† â€Å"They were not having a laugh. They were dead. Sophie had one in her hand.† Charlie looked more closely at the rodent that Sophie had been tenderizing. Its head looked extremely wet. â€Å"In her mouth. She had it in her mouth.† He grabbed a paper towel from the roll on the counter and started wiping out the inside of Sophie’s mouth. She made a la-la-la sound as she tried to eat the towel, which she thought was part of the game. â€Å"Where is Mrs. Ling, anyway?† â€Å"She have to go pick up prescription, so I watch Sophie for short time. And tiny bears are happy when I go in bathroom.† â€Å"Hamsters, Mrs. Korjev, not bears. How long were you in there?† â€Å"Maybe five minute. I am thinking I am now having a strain in my poop chute, so hard I am pushing.† â€Å"Aiiiiieeeee,† came the cry from the doorway as Mrs. Ling returned, and scampered to Sophie. â€Å"Is past time for nap,† Mrs. Ling snapped at Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"I’ve got her now,† Charlie said. â€Å"One of you stay with her while I get rid of the H-A-M-S-T-E-R-S.† â€Å"He mean the tiny bears,† said Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"I get rid, Mr. Asher,† said Mrs. Ling. â€Å"No problem. What happen them?† â€Å"Sleeping,† said Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"Ladies, go. Please. I’ll see one of you in the morning.† â€Å"Is my turn,† said Mrs. Korjev sadly. â€Å"Am I banish? Is no Sophie for Vladlena, yes?† â€Å"No. Uh, yes. It’s fine, Mrs. Korjev. I’ll see you in the morning.† Mrs. Ling was shaking the Habitrail cage. They certainly were sound little sleepers, these hamsters. She liked ham. â€Å"I take care,† she said. She tucked the cage under her arm and backed toward the door, waving. â€Å"Bye-bye, Sophie. Bye-bye.† â€Å"Bye-bye, bubeleh,† said Mrs. Korjev. â€Å"Bye-bye,† Sophie said, with a baby wave. â€Å"When did you learn bye-bye?† Charlie said to his daughter. â€Å"I can’t leave you for a second.† But he did leave her the very next day, to find replacements for the hamsters. He took the cargo van to the pet store this time. Whatever courage or hubris he’d rallied in order to attack the sewer harpies had melted away, and he didn’t even want to go near a storm drain. At the pet store he picked out two painted turtles, each about as big around as a mayonnaise-jar lid. He bought them a large kidney-shaped dish that had its own little island, a plastic palm tree, some aquatic plants, and a snail. The snail, presumably, to bolster the self-esteem of the turtles: â€Å"You think we’re slow? Look at that guy.† To shore up the snail’s morale in the same way, there was a rock. Everyone is happier if they have someone to look down on, as well as someone to look up to, especially if they resent both. This is not only the Beta Male strategy for survival, but the basis for capitalism, democracy, and most religions. After he grilled the clerk for fifteen minutes on the vitality of the turtles, and was assured that they could probably survive a nuclear attack as long as there were some bugs left to eat, Charlie wrote a check and started tearing up over his turtles. â€Å"Are you okay, Mr. Asher?† asked the pet-shop guy. â€Å"I’m sorry,† Charlie said. â€Å"It’s just that this is the last entry in the register.† â€Å"And your bank didn’t give you a new one?† â€Å"No, I have a new one, but this is the last one that my wife wrote in. Now that this one is used up, I’ll never see her handwriting in the check register again.† â€Å"I’m sorry,† said the pet-shop guy, who, until that moment, had thought the rough patch that day was going to be consoling a guy over a couple of dead hamsters. â€Å"It’s not your problem,† Charlie said. â€Å"I’ll just take my turtles and go.† And he did, squeezing the check register in his hand as he drove. She was slipping away, every day a little more. A week ago Jane had come down to borrow some honey and found the plum jelly that Rachel liked in the back of the refrigerator, covered in green fuzz. â€Å"Little brother, this has got to go,† Jane said, making a face. â€Å"No. It was Rachel’s.† â€Å"I know, kid, and she’s not coming back for it. What else do you – oh my God!† She dove away from the fridge. â€Å"What was that?† â€Å"Lasagna. Rachel made it.† â€Å"This has been in here for over a year?† â€Å"I couldn’t make myself throw it out.† â€Å"Look, I’m coming over Saturday and cleaning out this apartment. I’m going to get rid of all the stuff of Rachel’s that you don’t want.† â€Å"I want it all.† Jane paused while moving the green-and-purple lasagna to the trash bin, pan and all. â€Å"No you don’t, Charlie. This kind of stuff doesn’t help you remember Rachel, it just hurts you. You need to focus on Sophie and the rest of both of your lives. You’re a young guy, you can’t give up. We all loved Rachel, but you have to think about moving on, maybe going out.† â€Å"I’m not ready. And you can’t come over this Saturday, that’s my day in the shop.† â€Å"I know,† Jane said. â€Å"It’s better if you’re not here.† â€Å"But you can’t be trusted, Jane,† Charlie said, as if that was as obvious as the fact that Jane was irritating. â€Å"You’ll throw out all the pieces of Rachel, and you’ll steal my clothes.† Jane had been swiping Charlie’s suits pretty regularly since he’d started dressing more upscale. She was wearing a tailored, double-breasted jacket that he’d just gotten back from Three Fingered Hu a few days ago. Charlie hadn’t even worn it yet. â€Å"Why are you still wearing suits, anyway? Isn’t your new girlfriend a yoga instructor? Shouldn’t you be wearing those baggy pants made out of hemp and tofu fibers like she does? You look like David Bowie, Jane. There, I’ve said it. I’m sorry, but it had to be said.† Jane put her arm around his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek. â€Å"You are so sweet. Bowie is the only man I’ve ever found attractive. Let me clean out your apartment. I’ll watch Sophie that day – give the widows a day to do battle down at the Everything for a Dollar Store.† â€Å"Okay, but just clothes and stuff, no pictures. And just put it in the basement in boxes, no throwing anything away.† â€Å"Even food items? Chuck, the lasagna, I mean – â€Å" â€Å"Okay, food items can go. But don’t let Sophie know what you’re doing. And leave Rachel’s perfume, and her hairbrush. I want Sophie to know what her mother smelled like.† That night, when he finished at the shop, he went down to the basement to the little gated storage area for his apartment and visited the boxes of all of the things that Jane had packed up. When that didn’t work, he opened them and said good-bye to every single item – pieces of Rachel. Seemed like he was always saying good-bye to pieces of Rachel. On his way home from the pet shop he had stopped at A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books because it, too, was a piece of Rachel and he needed a touchstone, but also because he needed to research what he was doing. He’d scoured the Internet for information on death, and while he’d found that there were a lot of people who wanted to dress like death, get naked with the dead, look at pictures of the naked and the dead, or sell pills to give erections to the dead, there just wasn’t anything on how to go about being dead, or Death. No one had ever heard of Death Merchants or sewer harpies or anything of the sort. He left the store with a two-foot-high stack of books on Death and Dying, figuring, as a Beta Male typically does, that before he tried to take the battle to the enemy again, he’d better find out something about what he was dealing with. That evening he settled in on the couch next to his baby daughter and read while the new turtles, Bruiser and Jeep (so named in hope of instilling durability in them), ate freeze-dried bugs and watched CSI Safari-land on cable. â€Å"Well, honey, according to this Kbler-Ross lady, the five stages of death are anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Well, we went through all of those stages when we lost Mommy, didn’t we?† â€Å"Mama,† Sophie said. The first time she had said â€Å"Mama† had brought Charlie to tears. He had been looking over her little shoulder at a picture of Rachel. The second time she said it, it was less emotional. She was in her high chair at the breakfast bar and was talking to the toaster. â€Å"That’s not Mommy, Soph, that’s the toaster.† â€Å"Mama,† Sophie insisted, reaching out for the toaster. â€Å"You’re just trying to fuck with me, aren’t you?† Charlie said. â€Å"Mama,† Sophie said to the fridge. â€Å"Swell,† Charlie said. He read on, realizing that Dr. Kbler-Ross had been exactly right. Every morning when he woke up to find another name and number in the day planner at his bedside, he went through the entire five-step process before he finished breakfast. But now that the steps had a name – he started to recognize the stages as experienced by the family members of his clients. That’s how he referred to the people whose souls he retrieved: clients. Then he read a book, called The Last Sack, about how to kill yourself with a plastic bag, but it must not have been a very effective book, because he saw on the back cover that there had been two sequels. He imagined the fan mail: Dear Last Sack Author: I was almost dead, but then my sack got all steamed up and I couldn’t see the TV, so I poked an eyehole. I hope to try again with your next book. The book really didn’t help Charlie much, except to instill in him a new paranoia about plastic bags. Over the next few months he read: The Egyptian Book of the Dead, from which he learned how to pull someone’s brain out through his nostril with a buttonhook, which he was sure would come in handy someday; a dozen books on dealing with death, grief, burial rituals, and myths of the Underworld, from which he learned that there had been personifications of Death since the dawn of time, and none of them looked like him; and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, from which he learned that bardo, the transition between this life and the next, was forty-nine days long, and that during the process you would be met by about thirty thousand demons, all of which were described in intricate detail, none of which looked like the sewer harpies, and all of which you were supposed to ignore and not be afraid of because they weren’t real because they were of the material world. â€Å"Strange,† Charlie said to Sophie, â€Å"how all of these books talk about how the material world isn’t significant, yet I have to retrieve people’s souls, which are attached to material objects. It would appear that death, if nothing else, is ironic, don’t you think?† â€Å"No,† Sophie said. At eighteen months Sophie answered all questions either â€Å"No,† â€Å"Cookie,† or â€Å"like Bear† – the last Charlie attributed to leaving his daughter too often in the care of Mrs. Korjev. After the turtles, two more hamsters, a hermit crab, an iguana, and two widemouthed frogs passed on to the great wok in the sky (or, more accurately, on the third floor), Charlie finally acquiesced and brought home a three-inch-long Madagascar hissing cockroach that he named Bear, just so his daughter wouldn’t go through life talking total nonsense. â€Å"Like Bear,† Sophie said. â€Å"She’s talking about the bug,† Charlie said, one night when Jane stopped by. â€Å"She’s not talking about the bug,† Jane said. â€Å"What kind of father buys a cockroach for a little girl anyway? That’s disgusting.† â€Å"Nothing’s supposed to be able to kill them. They’ve been around for like a hundred million years. It was that or a white shark, and they’re supposed to be hard to keep.† â€Å"Why don’t you give up, Charlie? Just let her get by with stuffed animals.† â€Å"A little kid should have a pet. Especially a little kid growing up in the city.† â€Å"We grew up in the city and we didn’t have any pets.† â€Å"I know, and look how we turned out,† Charlie said, gesturing back and forth between the two of them, one who dealt in death and had a giant cockroach named Bear, and the other who was on her third yoga-instructor girlfriend in six months and was wearing his newest Harris tweed suit. â€Å"We turned out great, or at least one of us did,† Jane said, gesturing to the splendor of her suit, like she was a game-show model giving the big prize package on Let’s Get Androgynous, â€Å"You have got to gain some weight. This is tailored way too tight in the butt,† she said, lapsing once again into self-obsession. â€Å"Am I camel-toeing?† â€Å"I am not looking, not looking, not looking,† Charlie chanted. â€Å"She wouldn’t need pets if she ever saw the outside of this apartment,† Jane said, pulling down on the crotch of her trousers to counteract the dreaded dromedary-digit effect. â€Å"Take her to the zoo, Charlie. Let her see something besides this apartment. Take her out.† â€Å"I will, tomorrow. I’ll take her out and show her the city,† Charlie said. And he would have, too, except he woke to find the name Madeline Alby written on his day planner, and next to her name, the number one. Oh yeah, and the cockroach was dead. I will take you out,† Charlie said as he put Sophie in her high chair for breakfast. â€Å"I will, honey. I promise. Can you believe that they’d only give me one day?† â€Å"No,† Sophie said. â€Å"Juice,† she added, because she was in her chair and this was juice time. â€Å"I’m sorry about Bear, honey,† Charlie said, brushing her hair this way, then that, then giving up. â€Å"He was a good bug, but he is no more. Mrs. Ling will bury him. That window box of hers must be getting pretty crowded.† He didn’t remember there being a window box in Mrs. Ling’s window, but who was he to question? Charlie threw open the phone book and, mercifully, found an M. Alby with an address on Telegraph Hill – not ten minutes’ walk away. No client had ever been this close, and with almost six months without a peep or a shade from the sewer harpies, he was starting to feel like he had this whole Death Merchant thing under control. He’d even placed most of the soul vessels that he’d collected. The short notice felt bad. Really bad. The house was an Italianate Victorian on the hill just below the Coit Tower, the great granite column built in honor of the San Francisco firemen who had lost their lives in the line of duty. Although it’s said to have been designed with a fire-hose nozzle in mind, almost no one who sees the tower can resist the urge to comment on its resemblance to a giant penis. Madeline Alby’s house, a flat-roofed white rectangle with ornate scrolling trim and a crowning cornice of carved cherubs, looked like a wedding cake balanced on the tower’s scrotum. So as Charlie trudged up the nut sack of San Francisco, he wondered exactly how he was going to get inside the house. Usually he had time, he could wait and follow someone in, or construct some kind of ruse to gain entrance, but this time he had only one day to get inside, find the soul vessel, and get out. He hoped that Madeline Alby had already died. He really didn’t like being around sick people. When he saw the car parked out front with the small green hospice sticker, his hopes for a dead client were smashed like a cupcake with a sledgehammer. He walked up the front porch steps at the left of the house and waited by the door. Could he open it himself? Would people be able to see it, or did his special â€Å"unnoticeability† extend to objects he moved as well? He didn’t think so. But then the door opened and a woman about Charlie’s age stepped out onto the porch. â€Å"I’m just having a smoke,† she called back into the house, and before she could close the door behind her, Charlie slipped inside. The front door opened into a foyer; to his right Charlie saw what had originally been the parlor. There was a stairway in front of him, and another door beyond that that he guessed led to the kitchen. He could hear voices in the parlor and peeked around the corner to see four elderly women sitting on two couches that faced each other. They were in dresses and hats, and they might have just come from church, but Charlie guessed they had come to see their friend off. â€Å"You’d think she’d give up the smoking, with her mother upstairs dying of cancer,† said one of the ladies, wearing a gray skirt and jacket with matching hat, and a large enameled pin in the shape of a Holstein cow. â€Å"Well, she always was a hardheaded girl,† said another, wearing a dress that looked as if it had been made from the same floral material as the couch. â€Å"You know she used to meet with my son Jimmy up in Pioneer Park when they were little.† â€Å"She said she was going to marry him,† said another woman, who looked like a sister of the first. The ladies laughed, whimsy and sadness mixed in their tones. â€Å"Well, I don’t know what she was thinking, he’s as flighty as can be,† said Mom. â€Å"Yeah, and brain damaged,† added the sister. â€Å"Well, yes, he is now.† â€Å"Since the car ran over him,† said Sis. â€Å"Didn’t he run right in front of a car?† asked one of the ladies who had been silent until now. â€Å"No, he ran right into it,† said Mom. â€Å"He was on the drugs then.† She sighed. â€Å"I always said I had one of each – a boy, a girl, and a Jimmy.† They all nodded. This was not the first time this group had done this, Charlie guessed. They were the type that bought sympathy cards in bulk, and every time they heard an ambulance go by they made a note to pick up their black dress from the cleaner’s. â€Å"You know Maddy looked bad,† said the lady in gray. â€Å"Well, she’s dying, sweetheart, that’s what happens.† â€Å"I guess.† Another sigh. The tinkle of ice in glasses. They were all nursing neat little cocktails. Charlie guessed they’d been mixed by the younger woman who was outside smoking. He looked around the room for something that was glowing red. There was an oak rolltop desk in the corner that he’d like to get a look in, but that would have to wait until later. He ducked out of the doorway and into the kitchen, where two men in their late thirties, maybe early forties, were sitting at an oak table, playing Scrabble. â€Å"Is Jenny coming back? It’s her turn.† â€Å"She might have gone up to see Mom with one of the ladies. The hospice nurse is letting them go up one at a time.† â€Å"I just wish it was over. I can’t stand this waiting. I have a family I need to get back to. I’m about to crawl out of my fucking skin.† The older of the two reached across the table and set two tiny blue pills by his brother’s tiles. â€Å"These help.† â€Å"What are they?† â€Å"Time-released morphine.† â€Å"Really?† The younger brother looked alarmed. â€Å"You hardly even feel them, they just sort of take the edge off. Jenny’s been taking them for two weeks.† â€Å"That’s why you guys are taking this so well and I’m a wreck? You guys are stoned on Mom’s pain medication?† â€Å"Yep.† â€Å"I don’t take drugs. Those are drugs. You don’t take drugs.† The older brother sat back in his chair. â€Å"Pain medication, Bill. What are you feeling?† â€Å"No, I’m not taking Mom’s pain meds.† â€Å"Suit yourself.† â€Å"What if she needs them?† â€Å"There’s enough morphine in that room to bring down a Kodiak bear, and if she needs more, then hospice will bring more.† Charlie wanted to shake the younger brother and yell, Take the drugs, you idiot. Maybe it was the benefit of experience. Having now seen this situation happen again and again, families on deathwatch, out of their minds with grief and exhaustion, friends moving in and out of the house like ghosts, saying good-bye or just covering some sort of base so they could say they had been there, so perhaps they wouldn’t have to die alone themselves. Why was none of this in the books of the dead? Why didn’t the instructions tell him about all the pain and confusion he was going to see? â€Å"I’m going to go find Jenny,† said the older brother, â€Å"see if she wants to get something to eat. We can finish the game later if you want.† â€Å"That’s okay, I was losing anyway.† The younger brother gathered up the tiles and put the board away. â€Å"I’m going to go upstairs and see if I can catch a nap, tonight’s my night watching Mom.† The older brother walked out and Charlie watched the younger brother drop the blue pills into his shirt pocket and leave the kitchen, leaving the Death Dealer to ransack the pantry and the cabinets looking for the soul vessel. But he felt before he even started that it wouldn’t be there. He was going to have to go upstairs. He really, really hated being around sick people. Madeline Alby was propped up and tucked into bed with a down comforter up around her neck. She was so slight that her body barely showed under the covers. Charlie guessed that she might weigh seventy or eighty pounds max. Her face was drawn and he could see the outlines of her eye sockets and her jawbone jutting through her skin, which had gone yellow. Charlie guessed liver cancer. One of her friends from downstairs was sitting at her bedside, the hospice-care worker, a big woman in scrubs, sat in a chair across the room, reading. A small dog, a Yorkshire terrier, Charlie thought, was snuggled up between Madeline’s shoulder and her neck, sleeping. When Charlie stepped into the room, Madeline said, â€Å"Hey there, kid.† He froze in his steps. She was looking right at him – crystal-blue eyes, and a smile. Had the floor squeaked? Had he bumped something? â€Å"What are you doing there, kid?† She giggled. â€Å"Who do you see, Maddy?† asked the friend. She followed Madeline’s gaze but looked right through Charlie. â€Å"A kid over there.† â€Å"Okay, Maddy. Do you want some water?† The friend reached for a child’s sippy cup with a built-in straw from the nightstand. â€Å"No. Tell that kid to come in here, though. Come in here, kid.† Madeline worked her arms out of the covers and started moving her hands in sewing motions, like she was embroidering a tapestry in the air before her. â€Å"Well, I’d better go,† said the friend. â€Å"Let you get some rest.† The friend glanced at the hospice woman, who looked over her reading glasses and smiled with her eyes. The only expert in the house, giving permission. The friend stood and kissed Madeline Alby on the forehead. Madeline stopped sewing for a second, closed her eyes, and leaned into the kiss, like a young girl. Her friend squeezed her hand and said, â€Å"Good-bye, Maddy.† Charlie stepped aside and let the woman pass. He watched her shoulders heave with a sob as she went through the door. â€Å"Hey, kid,† Madeline said. â€Å"Come over here and sit down.† She paused in her sewing long enough to look Charlie in the eye, which freaked him out more than a little. He glanced at the hospice worker, who glanced up from her book, then went back to reading. Charlie pointed to himself. â€Å"Yeah, you,† Madeline said. Charlie was going into a panic. She could see him, but the hospice nurse could not, or so it seemed. An alarm beeped on the nurse’s watch and Madeline picked up the little dog and held it to her ear. â€Å"Hello? Hi, how are you?† She looked up at Charlie. â€Å"It’s my oldest daughter.† The little dog looked at Charlie, too, with a distinct â€Å"save me† look in its eyes. â€Å"Time for some medicine, Madeline,† the nurse said. â€Å"Can’t you see I’m on the phone, Sally,† Madeline said. â€Å"Hang on a second.† â€Å"Okay, I’ll wait,† the nurse said. She picked up a brown bottle with an eyedropper in it, filled the dropper, and checked the dosage and held. â€Å"Bye. Love you, too,† Madeline said. She held the tiny dog out to Charlie. â€Å"Hang that up, would you?† The nurse snatched the dog out of the air and set it down on the bed next to Madeline. â€Å"Open up, Madeline,† the nurse said. Madeline opened wide and the nurse squirted the eyedropper into the old woman’s mouth. â€Å"Mmm, strawberry,† Madeline said. â€Å"That’s right, strawberry. Would you like to wash it down with some water?† The nurse held the sippy cup. â€Å"No. Cheese. I’d like some cheese.† â€Å"I can get you some cheese,† said the nurse. â€Å"Cheddar cheese.† â€Å"Cheddar it is,† said the nurse. â€Å"I’ll be right back.† She tucked the covers around Madeline and left the room. The old woman looked at Charlie again. â€Å"Can you talk, now that she’s gone?† Charlie shrugged and looked in every direction, his hand over his mouth, like someone looking for an emergency spot to spit out a mouthful of bad seafood. â€Å"Don’t mime, honey,† Madeline said. â€Å"No one likes a mime.† Charlie sighed heavily, what was there to lose now? She could see him. â€Å"Hello, Madeline. I’m Charlie.† â€Å"I always liked the name Charlie,† Madeline said. â€Å"How come Sally can’t see you?† â€Å"Only you can see me right now,† Charlie said. â€Å"Because I’m dying?† â€Å"I think so.† â€Å"Okay. You’re a nice-looking kid, you know that?† â€Å"Thanks. You’re not bad yourself.† â€Å"I’m scared, Charlie. It doesn’t hurt. I used to be afraid that it would hurt, but now I’m afraid of what happens next.† Charlie sat down on the chair next to the bed. â€Å"I think that’s why I’m here, Madeline, you don’t need to be afraid.† â€Å"I drank a lot of brandy, Charlie. That’s why this happened.† â€Å"Maddy – can I call you Maddy?† â€Å"Sure, kid, we’re friends.† â€Å"Yes, we are. Maddy, this was always going to happen. You didn’t do anything to cause it.† â€Å"Well, that’s good.† â€Å"Maddy, do you have something for me?† â€Å"Like a present?† â€Å"Like a present you would give to yourself. Something I can keep for you and give you back later, when it will be a surprise.† â€Å"My pincushion,† Madeline said. â€Å"I’d like you to have that. It was my grandmother’s.† â€Å"I’d be honored to keep that for you, Maddy. Where can I find it?† â€Å"In my sewing box, on the top shelf of that closet.† She pointed to an old-style single closet across the room. â€Å"Oh, excuse me, phone.† Madeline talked to her oldest daughter on the edge of the comforter while Charlie got the sewing box from the top shelf of the closet. It was made of wicker and he could see the red glow of the soul vessel inside. He removed a pincushion fashioned from red velvet wrapped with bands of real silver and held it up for Madeline to see. She smiled and gave him the thumbs-up, just as the nurse returned with a small plate of cheese and crackers. â€Å"It’s my oldest daughter,† Madeline explained to the nurse, holding the edge of the comforter to her chest so her daughter didn’t hear. â€Å"Oh my, is that cheese?† The nurse nodded. â€Å"And crackers.† â€Å"I’ll call you back, honey, Sally has brought cheese and I don’t want to be rude.† She hung up the sheet and allowed Sally to feed her bites of cheese and crackers. â€Å"I believe this is the best cheese I’ve ever tasted,† Madeline said. Charlie could tell from the expression on her face that it was, indeed, the best cheese she had ever tasted. Every ounce of her being was going into tasting those slivers of cheddar, and she let loose little moans of pleasure as she chewed. â€Å"You want some cheese, Charlie?† Madeline asked, spraying cracker shrapnel all over the nurse, who turned to look at the corner where Charlie was standing with the pincushion tucked safely in his jacket pocket. â€Å"Oh, you can’t see him, Sally,† Madeline said, tapping the nurse on the hand. â€Å"But he’s a handsome rascal. A little skinny, though.† Then, to Sally, but overly loud to be sure that Charlie could hear: â€Å"He could use some fucking cheese.† Then she laughed, spraying more crackers on the nurse, who was laughing, too, and trying not to dump the plate. â€Å"What did she say?† came a voice from the hall. Then the two sons and the daughter entered, chagrined at first at what they had heard, but then laughing with the nurse and their mother. â€Å"I said that cheese is good,† Madeline said. â€Å"Yeah, Mom, it is,† said the daughter. Charlie stood there in the corner, watching them eat cheese, and laughing, thinking, This should have been in the book. He watched them help her with her bedpan, and give her drinks of water, and wipe her face with a damp cloth – watched her bite at the cloth the way Sophie did when he washed her face. The eldest daughter, who Charlie realized had been dead for some time, called three more times, once on the dog and twice on the pillow. Around lunchtime Madeline was tired, and she went to sleep, and about a half hour into her nap she started panting, then stopped, then didn’t breathe for a full minute, then took a deep breath, then didn’t. And Charlie slipped out the door with her soul in his pocket.