Spring turns the corner and runs smack dab into Summer. They fall down, but laugh heartily and get back up again, dust themselves off, and have a good chuckle about that socially-inept guy they know down the street Winter. They aren't the nicest guys, Spring and Summer..
So it's no real surprise that it's somehow managing to be both hot and stickily humid as well as overcast and drizzly. In the perfect world, the small Inconveniences of life would stop there - I'd otherwise be happy, satiated, productive, and sane.
Unfortunately the A/C unit in my lab has shit the bed (or more exactly shit on two or three circuit breakers and made me lose my work twice). The resulting swim through a tangled pile of electric cords and surge-strips under the desks (banging my head good on the metal frame) found a disconcertingly high amount of heat seeping out of the extension cord, the power strip, yes in fact out of everything down there that was carrying any sort of voltage. Disconcertingly is perhaps not the most clear of terms so let me put it this way: I would hesitate to hold onto one of these wires tightly for more than ten seconds or so. If you have a completely electrician-free mind you might not know that this is patently a Bad Thing(tm).
So having given up on the A/C unit, I turn to the small computer I am now forced to use. Only yesterday I was sitting in front of 445 square inches of screen real estate being what I would classify as "somewhat productive" (certainly a wonderful thing to be as a graduate student, for better than, say, "completely slothlike"). Today I am reduced to almost a third of that and my fingers (admittedly small for an adult) must squeeze together and jockey for position in order to manage any sort of discernible english on this horrifically bad keyboard.
Why? With new hardware comes setup costs and one of those costs is waiting for the new hardware to be setup. This after a few hours of struggling with my previous machine's configuration to get dual-headed support up and running, only to blow a fuse and come in today to find the machine completely stripped from my hands.. without even a goodbye! Soon, though, giant behemoth machines will follow. Huge multi-core, electricity sucking, monsters with four gigs of RAM (enough to choke a horse, as my father would say) and graphics cards that, themselves alone, require enough electricity to support a small town in China. No doubt these beasts will, along with the mini-fridge and other consumers, only lead to more stress on the already taxed system. An electricity fire will result, my humus and carrots will be lost (travesty!) and my thesis will be washed down river with the rest of the debris by a firehydrant tsunami. City workers will tell me where I can't go to recover my charred, melted, red swingline stapler.
As if someone were actually behind this scene - fingers pulling lightly at the strings, chuckling quietly to him or herself, and generally making my life more uncomplainably miserable (you know, in that way of piling up many small inconsequential inconveniences) - there is more. Upon arrival today I find a band (and not a very good one, at that) jamming away outside our windows. The same windows that are crammed with a giant broken A/C unit and therefore provide little if any airflow. And although the air might not be moving quickly, the noise certainly is and thus here I am enjoying a nice sit in a pool of my own sweat (have you ever known a bath more completely?) as I cringe at the metallic high-hat as it's progeny, wave after wave, waft through the grating in quick staccato puffs, sharp like a cheddar but hurty, like chewing aluminum foil with a mouth full of dental fillings.
I'm not done. There is a fly. Nothing big; a normal housewife of a fly with it's very normal looking wings (unspotted, unadorned with fanciful art). It buzzes softly about, though specifically near me only, and on occasion it lands on my screen, on my arm, on my mouse, or on the tiny useless keyboard. No doubt it's disease ridden and will happily share it's findings with me if I wish to spread it out, butter-like, on the desktop. Knowingly, I just watch it - eyes narrowed to slits. It rubs it's two front legs together when it looks at me. Dr. Frankenstein, I presume?
Spring shakes Summer's hand with a smile. They sit merrily for a time, conspiring, complaining about their siblings - those aloof and somewhat morose Fall and Winter fellows.. how far off they now seem in all their staid glory. When they finally part ways, it gets hotter.
Perhaps technology can
make things better. Vancouver becomes first major city in North America to allow paying your parking meter from a cell-phone
you can pay parking meters from your cellphone, get a text message warning the meter is about to expire and even top up the meter without going outside.
..Motorists can call a city phone number, provide the number of the meter and order exactly as much time as they need, up to the normal limit of the meter. That means no more plugging a dollar or two into the meter when you intend to stay only 15 minutes but you're short of exact change.
..If people use less time than they ordered, they can call to have the excess time deducted.
The biggest downfall of this?
Verrus [Mobile Technologies, a Vancouver company that has contracted the service] gets paid through a 30-cent surcharge paid by the driver, which it calls a convenience fee, on each parking transaction using the service.
Once again, they manage to find a way to make things more expensive without offering much more of a service. Nevertheless, this will be a boon for the poor workers who I always see rushing out to the meter every few hours to pay.. sometimes forgetting, sometimes getting a ticket, sometimes swearing up at the sky, or just the ticket dude writing them up with an unsympathetic shake of the head.
The real question is.. if you're making your way downtown every day and don't feel you can afford the daily parking lot fee, shouldn't you be using public transit?
Here's some hard-workin' down-home american boys for you to enjoy over the weekend.. I'm off to the beach.
random wednesday roundup.
Firstly, I'd like to officially, in writing, ask that NPR, PRI, and the likes of public radio everywhere finally drop the craptastic realaudio they've been riding for so long now. Sure, you were quick on the uptake, fore-runners of the technology, but now it's time to use something just like you: publically funded, free, and open solutions.
Secondly, don't ask, don't tell them you're disabled
A Pentagon document classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts abandoned that position. The document outlines retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders.
Thirdly, on a somewhat related note - The evolution of homosexual animals
Japanese macaques, an old world primate, illustrate this principle perfectly. Macaque society revolves around females, who form intricate dominance hierarchies within a given group. Males are transient. To help maintain the necessary social networks, female macaques engage in rampant lesbianism. These friendly copulations, which can last up to four days, form the bedrock of macaque society, preventing unnecessary violence and aggression..
"When animals exhibit homosexual behavior, they are just using their genitals for a socially significant purpose."
More news from friends south of the border:
I apologize in advance if this makes no sense. I am drunk with heat.
So, the travels have officially begun. After a cleaning up at Santa Rosa and brief separation from my friends, I crossed the Nicaraguan border. Now, for any of you who have crossed the Costa Rica-Nica border, you´ll understand how disturbing an experience it is. First of all, it´s always at least 48 degrees hotter than it is anywhere else in either country. Secondly, the two countries are connected by a funny no man´s land that´s at least a kilometer long, which wouldn´t be so bad, despite the heat, were it not for the fact that it is packed with very aggressive money changers and taxi drivers and gum children and taco ladies. A daunting place, indeed. Made even more daunting by the strange fence you have to get through in order to actually cross into Nicaragua.
While the fence itself is harmless, the 70 or so men that stand on the side you need to get to waving their arms through the chainlink and screaming at you can be a little scary. While it was my third crossing of this border, it was my first time going it alone. I summoned all of my inner Oz character and made it without incident. As I passed, Ï heard one of the hissing men say ¨She´s a pretty one, but she looks really mean!¨
After a whole lot of screaming and pulling and shouting and bargaining, I made it to Leon in Northern Nicaragua where I met back up with my friends. We´ve since crossed the border into Honduras in order to catch a boat to Belize for a drunken beach festival that we heard about there. And for any who have not yet attempted it, don´t ever try to cross three borders and two entire countries by school bus in two days.
We left Leon yesterday before dawn on a slow bus to the Honduran border. We had to transfer a few times, all transfers naturally involving very dedicated rickshaw drivers, gum children, and taco ladies. Having finally reached the border, we were actually encircled by a large group of rickshaw drivers who wouldn´t physically let us pass until we got into their buggies to traverse the scorching no-man´s land between Nica and Honduras. We caught the last bus to the town we needed to get to just in time, and then proceeded to wait 3 hours as the battery fell out upon starting it.
Several sweltering hours later we transferred to another bus, whose tire promptly exploded as we were careening along a mountain pass. Luckily, there are 9000 used tire places along this stretch of road, and within two hours we were on our way again. All was well, with only four hours left when a large group of singing children entered the bus. Four... hours... to... go.
About an hour into their boisterous song, the bus caught on fire. Luckily, I was shielded from some of the smoke by the very large, flatulent woman that was sitting on my lap. She didn´t seem to panic- or move, for that matter- which, while it should have calmed me somewhat, didn´t, since all 408 other passengers on the school bus were screaming ¨run, run for your lives¨ and attempting to jump out of the school children sized windows.
Luckily, a few minutes into the bus fire a flash flood began, putting out the fire, which seemed to satisfy the driver who decided it was okay to just keep driving. Unfortunately, due to the flash flood, the bus ride took 8, and not 4, hours, and caused all to close their windows, leaving all 408 of us trapped in a smokey yellow room with no air in the TROPICS.
Getting on a boat tomorrow to Belize with what look like pirates. What could possibly go wrong?
Those Norwegians are at it again, trying to save all of humanity. They're putting together an international plant seed vault to hold millions of seed samples
in the event of some crazy apocalypse.. or, you know, global war. Don't they realize that cows don't grow on trees? The best part, however:
While the facility will be fenced in and guarded, Svalbard's free-roaming polar bears, known for their ferocity, could also act as natural guardians, according to the Global Diversity Trust.
Damn them polar bears, thems bite hard.
I've made exactly two blogging mistakes in my life.
The first was using the made up moniker gunge
, which has resulted in a multitude of sick european perverts looking for pictures through the use of such search terms as "naked gunge girls". Apparently gunge is akin to Nick's old you-can't-do-that-on-television
green slime, only for dirty adults who pay in euros. I'll admit the phenom never really peaked my interest and I've done little to no research into the substance so I have nothing more to say on it here. Except to tell the europeans to look elsewhere for their strange fetish smut.
The second mistake was using the term hurricane
in a metaphor for love, the result of which has been a barrage of site hits from middle-america school kids
researching their next science report. Here's a heads up kids: unless you're writing a report titled "The use of weather terminology as broken-heart simile in modern-day online diary texts" then this is probably not where you want to be. In fact, step away from this site altogether.. move along. You wouldn't want to get in trouble for looking at smutty gunge fucks, would you?
The internet is a strange place if for nothing else than it's pure mixing potential. Hillbilly Billy-joe need only clean up her grammar enough to sound semi-intelligent and she can pass herself off as a neo-conservative DC freak. Learn nine of the ten commandments and you can become a religious zealot bent on fusing god and country.
Well, I'm neither of those things and I'm not particularly bent on anything. I'm happy enough to build pretty little graphs out of strange statistics I find on the information superhighway. I'm happy enough to whine about lost love and write bad poetry hidden within bad prose hidden deep among a bunch of bad blog posts which nobody ever reads. That's the beauty of making mistakes on a site like this..
There really aren't any consequences.
The biggest problem with being bummed out is accepting that you have absolutely nothing to complain about. It's like a slap in the face when all you want is a needle in your arm or an empty bottle slowly slipping out between your fingers, falling down, down, for an eternity, a full on year of travel from your hand to the ground, until *smash* - it bursts into a million tiny pieces, flecks of glass hanging in your leg hair and collecting in your pant cuffs. A slap in the face isn't nearly as absorbing.
Nevertheless, when you make these realizations you are given a brief chance at the wheel, an opportunity to wrestle the behemoth of your life towards the direction you want it to be going - even if it's only part way there. It's progress. And even though progress is a shady idea invented by some street schister, a measure of sticks and stones and piles of things and certificates, you can still choose to own the term for yourself and weigh your worth on a scale of your imagination.
Directionless? Stuck in a boat that is adrift on the waves, sliding down the faces of giant swells only to be twisted around, spun like a dreidel, and lifted up atop white-caped crests? Feeling a little seasick?.. Then try what my niece does:
- Stop spinning
- With your hands out to your sides, reacquire your balance
- Slowly raise your head and look up at the stars
- Puke up your cotton candy - preferrably on someone more authoritive than yourself
If these steps do not lead you directly to all the answers you've been searching for in life than at least you'll feel a little different than you did before. Maybe it'll even pull your mind out of the ditch and get it heading down the road. Even if it doesn't know where it's going.
The hidden proverb in the alphabet soup there is that directionless or no, movement is necessary in life. Inanimate objects are just that. Signposts along the way. Oddities to be quizically stared at while taking a picnic on the side of the road, head cocked to the side, wondering seriously
, what is up with that thing just sitting there, not moving an inch? Even ice cream drips down it's cone. So if in doubt get up and run around. Sweat a little. Throw things.
They tell me most sharks would die if they stopped swimming.. and you know what that means? They'd never get to have another ice cream cone again.
For those looking for a bad science pun today, look no further:
Basically, the number of blades in your razor is, well.... pure hyperbola
Gosh, I crack myself up. In other news, nanotechnologists attempting to communicate the sheer intsy-weensyness (no, that was my term) of their field (no pun intended there) point out that a nanometer is about how much one's beard grows in the time it takes to raise the razor to one's face.
Whoa.. time to shave.
I woke up with a start
- I immediately feared rising water levels, burning rays of sunshine fashioning my skin into a leathery coffin, and smog.
The worst of it was the smog didn't seem so bad, in the end. The least of many evils, like a stinging bee in the midst of a pack of wild boars; a hint of piquant wit in my bowl of habaneros.
After the leather was worked out a bit and made flexible by wear and the water became covered by boats of all colours and sizes, the smog was still there. It began to sit and stink and tire me completely, with it's sad persistence.
- by the time I was fully awake and rolled over with my legs hanging over the bedside I was in a right awful mood. The sun was still there, glaring hotly at me through thin shades, and I was late already; a perpetuality I'd grown accustomed to through years of sloth and lack of motivation. Somehow it aided and abetted the nightmarish fantasies; laze begat painful rumination begat masochistic narcissism, and all because we were angry at ourself for not fixing anything.
Self-appointed non-fixer of those things seemingly non-broken, I slathered some soap about on that once-leathery surface, I showered in the water that I'd feared so accutely only minutes before, and I slid on some shaded glasses as I headed out the door into a world of smog so thin, so ethereal, that it would be easy enough to discount.. as if it was a dream, really. A nightmare that had never really happened..
- and I fixed nothing.
- work towards a common goal.
- eat healthy; drink less [caffeine/alcohol/corn syrup]
- give up on politics, build a bomb[shell of a woman,] to be at my beck and call, love myself, plant a pocket full of promises into the flowerbed of my mind; make it, sleep in it, hotwire the impetus, push the petals of power.
- giving up all batesian mimicry for the stop-gap it is.
- fighting inwards to win outward battles.
- expecting less, rewarding more.
The Amazing Regret Index
attempts to define the collective regret of countless netizens.. or, in other words, it's a survey that asks if you regret stuff and calculates and average. With 1 being the highest regret, it's interesting to note that "Not becoming a Ninja" makes people twice as regretful (at .84) than "Not being the opposite sex" (at .4) yet both are higher than "Not being faithful" (at .33).. Ahhh, silly humans.
The Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine, has a possible "rough draft" of the Mona Lisa
. Who knew?
[The painting] was analyzed at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at Harvard University. Conservators determined that the painting was executed before 1510—the original Mona Lisa was created between 1503 and 1507—but they were unable to confirm or refute Leonardo’s hand in its creation. However, similarities are remarkable, and the work contains the characteristics of a left-handed brushstroke, consistent with Leonardo’s work as a left-handed artist.
Unlike a forgery or counterfeit work, the Museum’s Mona Lisa, on the basis of technical analyses, differs from the original in size, composition of background landscape, and, most notably, the absence of the enigmatic smile–details which suggest an early study rather than a simple reproduction.
Today, this day, things have happened. Somewhere, out there, an indie rock band fed up with living in their parent's basement and worn from years of suburban subjugation penned one of the finest rock tunes speaking out about this government, it's leadership, and the wars it is unemotionally perpetrating. Admittedly, they got the idea after reading the Rolling Stone's new article by Prince RFK, Jr. in which he explains how the republicans stole the 2004 elections
.. but they'll never get anywhere with it because they lack the motivation required to climb out of such a primordial soup so seemingly impossible of creating anything new or original. It's funny, you come from nothing, you go back to nothing.
Today it rained and rained and rained because the squall line was moving at such a slow speed it looked as if they dark black clouds would never leave; like a tornado standing still, a giant god-like drill bit focusing its entire energy down on one small spot, an insignificant point, a small white house. Inside, a woman kneeled down and prayed because, afterall, storms are an affirmation of the existence of god and there is no possible progression other than to get down on your knees and beg for mercy beg for forgiveness beg for the small little spot your life is on the big quilt of life. Then she got struck by ligthening.
Today, a young wife passionately democratic and not quite jaded enough yet to give up all hope graciously watched her husband join the United States Army, that institution of brilliant light, the cavalry, the boys in blue, the savoirs of freedom and all that is right. She sighed, and looked at the ground. Pavement has a way of presenting such complex imagery when you least expect it. He's going to Afghanistan. I hear it's nice there this time of year.
Today, job growth slowed and unemployment rates dropped.