Well, that's it.. I'm off. I will be away from the desk and all things 9-to-5 for a few weeks. Almost exactly two, in fact. I'll be traipsing around in Europe.
I'm going to start by investigating the oldest religious center of Portugal, the City of Braga
in the north. I'll be presenting the paper that I got publish there as well but that hopefully will not get in the way of any of the fun.
I'll follow up with France. My sister is in Paris for a postdoc and I've got 3 or 4 days there. I'll likely just sit around giving ugly looks to the frogs. They seem to like that. Or maybe I'll actually go somewhere interesting like the Louvre, so I can complain about their art as well. What an asshole, huh?
Finally, I'm going to hit Oslo, Norway, the supposed most expensive city in the world
. Luckily I have a place to stay so the monetary issues should be limited to food and drink - I should be able to handle that. No real plans as far as sight seeing goes, however. Honestly, I know not what tourists do in Oslo.
Fear not, though. I am lugging my new DSLR toy with me, and I plan on maxing out the 2GB card that came with it. That'salada pictures, man.
Sit tight, and I'll be back in a jiffy.
UCLA Spring Undie Run 2007
.. makes me wonder, besides the facts that the temperature was in the single digits a few days ago, we got a foot of snow last Friday, and we up here in the Northeast are me-haps a hair more cloistered than your average Californian..
Why can't WE have Undie runs??
Last Friday on the NPR show Fresh Air I heard part of an interview with a doctor who was discussing the failings of modern medicine, the lack of think different
mentality, and the tendancy of doctors to miss things because they are following the prescribed testing regime too closely (link to audio here
). Surprise surprise, medicine is not easy. Apparently you should be smart to practice it. Apparently, you should not follow the rules like they were a high school football playbook.
Most interesting were the anecdotal stories, but I've now discovered that the same guy, Dr. Jerome Groopman (bio here
; he has an impressive resume), has written a book on the matter (which explains why he was being interviewed) and he even has a piece in the New Yorker which is making the rounds on this here innnernector wagon-train of digital pipes, straws, and wirey thingys that go beep in the night. It is titled What's the Trouble? How Doctors Think
Brad was my favorite patient on the ward. Each morning when I made rounds with the residents and the medical students, I would take an inventory of his symptoms and review his laboratory results. I would often linger a few moments in his room, trying to distract him from the misery of his therapy by talking about literature..
.. One morning, Brad developed a low-grade fever. During rounds, the residents told me that they had taken blood and urine cultures and that Brad’s physical examination was “nonfocal”—they had found no obvious reason for the fever..
.. Two residents helped prop Brad up in bed so that I could examine him; I had a routine that I followed with each immune-deficient patient, beginning at the crown of the head and working down to the tips of the toes. Brad’s hair was matted with sweat, and his face was ashen. I peered into his eyes, ears, nose, and throat, and found only some small ulcers on his inner cheeks and under his tongue—side effects of his treatment. His lungs were clear, and his heart sounds were strong. His abdomen was soft, and there was no tenderness over his bladder..
.. ater that day, I was in the hematology lab, looking at blood cells from a patient with leukemia, when my beeper went off. “Brad Miller has no blood pressure,” the resident told me when I returned the call. “His temperature is up to a hundred and four, and we’re moving him to the I.C.U.”
Brad was in septic shock. When bacteria spread through the bloodstream, they can damage the circulation. Septic shock can be fatal even in people who are otherwise healthy; patients with impaired immunity, like Brad, whose white-blood-cell count had fallen because of chemotherapy, are at particular risk of dying.
“Do we have a source of infection?” I asked.
“He has what looks like an abscess on his left buttock,” the resident said..
.. The abscess must have been there when I examined Brad. But I had failed to ask him to roll over so that I could inspect his buttocks and rectal area..
.. I was furious with myself. Because I liked Brad, I hadn’t wanted to add to his discomfort and had cut the examination short. Perhaps I hoped unconsciously that the cause of his fever was trivial and that I would not find evidence of an infection on his body. This tendency to make decisions based on what we wish were true is what Croskerry calls an “affective error.” In medicine, this type of error can have potentially fatal consequences. In the case of Evan McKinley, for example, Pat Croskerry chose to rely on the ranger’s initial test results—the normal EKG, chest X-ray, and blood tests—all of which suggested a benign diagnosis. He didn’t arrange for follow-up testing that might have revealed the source of the ranger’s chest pain. Croskerry, who had been an Olympic rower in his thirties, told me that McKinley had reminded him of himself as an athlete; he believed that this association contributed to his misdiagnosis.
It's worth a listen, if only to convince yourself that second, third, and sometimes fourth opinions may not be as crazy as you'd think. Medicine is advanced, but it doesn't collectively have all the answers - so why would one single doctor?
No Impact Man
is a blog by a man in NYC who is trying to be environmentally neutral. I know this is the big rage these days, but he has a down-to-earth voice and it's generally interesting to hear what he and his family is trying to do each day. He is up front and admits that all the answers are not available, but he is making educated guesses as he goes. A New York Times article highlights their new lifestyle - The Year Without Toilet Paper
Last week he made a post that strayed a bit from the head-on environmental message and talked about happiness, friends, and where that gets us
The problem, if what you're looking for is happiness, is that putting friendships on the back burner in favor of more material pleasures puts you in the futile position of running in place on the “hedonic treadmill,” according to Martin Seligman, Ph.D., founder of the relatively new field of “positive psychology.” He writes that the hedonic treadmill…
"…causes you to rapidly and inevitably adapt to good things by taking them for granted…The deeds and things you worked so hard for no longer make you happy; you need to get something even better to boost your level of happiness..but once you get the next possession or achievement, you adapt to it as well…"...For the last ten years, we have generally spoken on the phone once a day and seen each other once a week. In the last three months, though, Tanner both got a new job and prepared to take the bar exam. Plus, I’ve been busy with the beginning of No Impact Man. The result was that, while we waited for the season of crazy busyness to be over, we barely talked.
Yesterday, at last, Tanner and I debriefed about our marriages, our work, people we know in common, hot chicks we saw on the street, the first coffee I was having in three weeks (social exception from the local food rule), movie stars, our therapists, computers, and politics. I felt, after all that time without each other, like a dry sponge soaking up water.
And you want to know something? I would take another ten years of talking on the phone every day with Tanner over 100 Mercedes-Benz. The great news is that the best things in life don’t hurt the planet one bit.
There are certainly people in my life - environmental impact or no - that have a larger and more positive effect on my happiness and well-being than any number of material things. This is not a revelation. This is not lip-service. This is not a declaration against consumerism. This is just the truth.
As I find myself in the potential market for a used vehicle I've found myself wondering about true cost. True cost as in how much does this car cost me to operate it, how much does this car cost in environmental impact, and how much difference will it make in the long run?
One assumption I have made recently is that the cost (both monetary and environmental) to produce a vehicle, being incurred only once, should become less and less significant the longer the vehicle is in use. That is to say, a car that lasts 100,000 miles costs twice as much to produce (per mile) as a car that costs the same real dollars to produce but lasts 200,000 miles. This, of course, does not take into account the extra cost of maintaining a vehicle for an extra 100,000 miles. This is assuming equal emissions footprints, too.
So it gets complicated quickly.
But I still have the idea that older used vehicles, provided they are maintained, offer a better environmental alternative to purchasing new cars all the time. Unfortunately, cars that last for 100,000 miles allow for more turnover and keep those speed freaks that need a new looking curve in their rear window or a fancy spoiler on top of their truck happy. If cars never changed their styling, nobody would see the necessity in leasing a new model ever few years. Someone who took care of their baby could drive it for decades without anyone being the wiser.
But that wouldn't appeal to the car manufacturers. Unfortunately, they aren't selling us vehicular transportation. They are selling us image. They are selling us lifestyle. They are selling us sex and rock'n'roll and all of these things that we need in our life to be able to drag ourselves out of bed every morning to our soul-sucking 9-to-5 where we overwork ourselves creating markets for, surprise surprise, more vehicles.
Luckily, someone has done the work for me. CNW Marketing has released a report called Dust to Dust
, which gives lifetime cost per mile of various vehicles - from Aveos to Hummers. The surprise? Hybrids are pretty damn costly.Prius $2.865
Industry Straight Average 2.946
Civic Hybrid $3.398
Accord Hybrid $3.421
Escape Hybrid $3.540
The bigger joke? They're more costly than a Hummer.H3 $2.069
But the reality is that they are using a 300,000 mile life expectancy for the Hummer and a 100,000 mile life expectancy for the Prius. Earlier reports suggested that the batteries in hybrids - which are quite costly upfront, too - would not last. However, now that the Prius has been on the road for some time, some people have been seeing 200,000 miles or more. Furthermore, the kind of people I see buying the H3 are probably not the kind of people who put 300,000 miles on their vehicle.
Some searching on the innernector tubes brought up very little about CNW Marketing. Other than the fact that their website is less than impressive and almost amatuerish, the President "used to be a newspaper and magazine editor", and their CEO is "one of the founding partners who is currently learning to ride a motorcycle so she can get a Harley by the end of 2004". It appears to be a private firm out of Oregon and the President can be found quoted all over the interector speaking about the automotive industry, so, who knows. Prius owners say CNW is "a mouthpiece for the Detroit auto industry.
Even so, the cheapest vehicle on their list? The Toyota Scion xB at a miniscule 48 cents per mile.
Sadly, even if this report had (has?) merit, it looks to be a better statistical tool than it is an individual one. Should I drive my parents old beater that is sitting unused in the driveway for the next month while I shop for a car or should I rent a new, environmentally friendly low-emissions model?
Nevermind the money I am spending which I must earn at work (thereby burning fossil fuels to keep the lights on, and the computer running). Nevermind the fact that I need to keep commuting to work in order to make that money to pay for the car which I am renting to lower my environmental footprint.
What if the loss of a car in the rental fleet means the firm's in-house percentage rate drops just below the proper level causing the purchase of new vehicles to up inventory?
Everything we do causes a domino effect of environmental footprints. We are, in the 21st century, not bipedal or quadripedal when it comes to mother earth. We are omni
pedal, stomping out life and crushing tiny flowers everywhere.one small pegonia was destroyed in the making of this blog post. we will cry for her.
I've never really done the restuarant review thing on this blog. I've mentioned movies, talked about books, and maybe referenced a few fun video games, but I'm no Omnibus Ebert.
I think I'd write more reviews if I thought anyone cared. Social participation, afterall, is about trust and worth, right? A calculated and unemotional debate on the abstract position of money in society fleshed things out for me last night. Money, argued my evolutionary psychology friend, is just a form of trust (or usefulness). Payment by society (other people) for your services represents the trust that society has in you to do your fair share, to help out, to be useful. Money, in the end, is a proof-of-concept device intended to measure worth - but it has likely gone horribly wrong. When the first caveman traded a sharp stone for a dead animal, he probably wasn't thinking about Nigerian scammers, credit card fraud, and the Powerball. He also probably didn't realize the precedent he was setting and the eventual waterfall of change he would cause.
Oh well, I'm being long winded. A friend of mine with a rather unfortunately high cholesterol level just gave me an update. He was initially measured at 309.
got my cholesterol tested again after 7 weeks of lipitor, change of diet, and increase in exercise. doctors were right...it went down...to 302.
Which has me asking myself: how much trust was traded in these transactions? What sort of value or worth has been placed on seven weeks of lipitor and various doctors visits for, what is in the end, a 2.2% drop in his cholesterol?
And it has me asking myself how much I excercise and how many veggies I eat and how often I floss my teeth and I have to be honest.. sometimes it is just good to eat some food.
This weekend I spent almost the entire time in my apartment making food. Certainly, I wasn't hovering over the stove for two days straight but I did spend most of my mental efforts towards food.
On Saturday I cooked a garlic chicken curry. It was simmered for two hours to just the right consistency. Large chunks of carrots and potatoes intermingled with the onions and cluck-cluck, thick with soupy sauce, and onions, ginger, and peas were added to the mix as well.
I maxed out on white rice last week so I used some red quinoa as a base but the curry could fly on its own. The chicken was perfectly tender, juicy, and perfectly simple to chew. I thought for sure I had overcooked it.
The thing with cooking is that its like a choose-your-own-adventure on speed. You have short windows of opportunity in which to change the direction of the story but when those windows are gone, you can never get those opportunities back.
Which is why you should enjoy and appreciate those times when the adventure has a deliciously happy ending with the discovery of untold treasures and beautiful maidens.
This happy ending was a leftover story. Sunday brunch (admittedly with a bit of a dinner flair, on the clock side of things) started with bacon and eggs, over easy, and hash browns fried with garlic and onions with bit of cheddar cheese shaved in at the last minute. This seemed perfect, really, with the addition of an english muffin and a mug of vanilla chai tea, but I have a weak spot for leftovers and when it occurred to me that all things grease and oil and eggy goodness would probably go together, the curry came out, and in minutes the beauty of a truly mouth water meal was presented.
Part of me cringed at the health issues inherent in such a breakfast but I couldn't think too long on these thoughts of angina, death, and heart attacks. Truthfully, I did not care. To put it to Woody Allen, as he once said it,
"You can live to be 100 if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be 100."
And me, that meal? I barely wanted it to end.
Thems some giant crazy crystals
Here is a, perhaps odd, story about a death on a long-haul British Airways flight
The body of a woman in her seventies, who died after the plane left Delhi for Heathrow, was carried by cabin staff from economy to first class, where there was more space. Her body was propped up in a seat, using pillows.
The woman’s daughter accompanied the corpse, and spent the rest of the journey wailing in grief.
Paul Trinder, who awoke to see the body at the end of his row, last week described the journey as “deeply disturbing”, and complained that the airline dismissed his concerns by telling him to “get over it”.
I just gotta think.. yah man, get over it. Shit happens.
spam email subject line of the day: so manure go discussant
This week things came together with a number of economic factors and social cues combining to create another sighting of (trumpets please) consumer man
Truthfully, I am consumer man. Well, he is my alter-ego. Normally stingy and frugal to the point of cheap, I am occasionally bullied into the light of 21st century consumerism by the sheer power of our social economy. Consumer man's most triumphant win, for example, was the purchase of a Ducati motorcycle in 2002 - something that was neither needed nor required in any way shape or form. Consumer man just wanted it.. and consumer man got it.
During my weekend trip south last month to Maryland for crabcakes and inner-city shootings (sadly, I had neither) I spent more time in shopping mode than I had desired or planned. This was mostly in tag-along mode, as others fulfilled their consumerist duties, soldiers of the modern war, down in the trenches of superstores and shopping malls, trudging it out between taco bells and banana republics, apple stores and payless shoe outlets.
I was told I would feel better if I consumed. I would be helping the economy
- doing my part to help beat down the terrorists, the baby killers, and sycophants. A newly purchased piece of plastic is worth two Iranian terrorists in the bush.
I was told that I should write about my consumerism - for the good of the people. I should record my spending and shout it loud from the rooftops as a victorious anthem to all those evil-doers and naysayers. Maybe I'm the sycophant.
I'll be honest. I put it off. It didn't seem right, somehow. I hemmed and hawed and finally, after 20 minutes in an outdoor outfitter's store I managed to find a sweater for $30 that seemed o.k.. like, you know, maybe I'd wear it sometime. I wasn't convinced, but it looked okay. Other shoppers nodded approvingly as I strutted in front of the mirror. It suddenly seemed A-Okay.
Certainly, I've wore the sweater a number of times since it's purchase. I'm fairly pleased with it's entry into my wardrobe. It fills a gab, a niche, and I'm pleased to have that weapon in my arsenal. However, it didn't give me the satisfaction I was looking for.
Like a bad kid hanging with the wrong crowd, I'd become a monster that wasn't who I am. I was on the prowl, looking for my fix. I shopped car classifieds at work. I researched real estate deals in the middle of the night. I craved the puerility of a cashless soul. I needed the rush of the purchaser's high.
It's a disease, this money, and so I push it into investment vehicles and money market funds and nooks and crannies under my floorboards because I don't want to see it, I don't want to know it's there, and someday, when there is enough of it, I won't have to worry or think about it.
Luckily, consumer man was fairly weak this time around. I knocked some sense into him, got him turned around in the right direction, and I'm now the owner of a used Nikon d70 digital SLR. This was a win - win for us, me and consumer man. I was in the market for a decent camera. In fact, had promised myself one once I was free from the shackles of higher-ed where paychecks aren't quite as large and too much time is spent splicing them up for various bars and restuarants. Consumer man, on the other hand, just wanted to throw money out the window, to watch it flutter down to the street. He wanted to watch it change hands, grease palms. He wanted to see, touch, feel
fresh new plastic, shiny glass and pretty packaging.
I bought used, but I think consumer man can get over that. Compromise is a strong tool. I could still be fighting with consumer man, but I'm not. He is quietly satiated, and I am happily satisfied.. though consumer man did relish the act of chomping through the plastic-molded packaging of his new compact flash card that came in the mail yesterday, I am relishing the thought of the $15 rebate that is in the mail.
See? Compromise. Px
is fighting with his own consumer man over the exact same purchase right now (digital camera) but I suspect he isn't quite as psychotic as me and won't have such the crisis of personality that I did. Lucky bugger.
There are certain parts of me that you might consider "old school" and some of my views aren't as "progressive" as they could be. Nevertheless, sexual assault of any kind is a pretty heinous and reprehensible crime and that is one thing that, old school or new school, I am 100% on.
Not surprisingly, things don't quite swing that way in our new school military. The private war of women soldiers
I have talked to more than 20 female veterans of the Iraq war in the past few months, interviewing them for up to 10 hours each for a book I am writing on the topic, and every one of them said the danger of rape by other soldiers is so widely recognized in Iraq that their officers routinely told them not to go to the latrines or showers without another woman for protection..
.. A 2003 survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans from Vietnam and all the wars since, who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder, found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military. And in a third study, conducted in 1992-93 with female veterans of the Gulf War and earlier wars, 90 percent said they had been sexually harassed in the military.
The problem with gender equality or gender neutrality issues is that it attempts to completely disregard the fact that we are, in very physical and real ways, different. We are also recently upright bipedals who are still very much influenced by the nature of hormones and our instincts.
Should women be in the military? This shouldn't even be a discussion. Should women expect to be able to feel safe in their job at least from their own co-workers
But the reality is that the kind of recruits that generally enter the military are already at a social-disadvantage when it comes to progressive thinking and ethical logic. These are low-income and inner city kids. They are minorities who have not been afforded financial security. Life has already been a battlefield for them and on that battlefield less room is given to proper conduct and equitable treatment than there should be.
Deplorable is .. the fact that the military is waiving criminal and violent records for more than one in 10 new Army recruits..
and what is even worse is the lack of accountability in the military itself. The old boy's network is tried and true, American blue, but that doesn't mean it is right
or morally upstanding. If we, as a country, are going to hold so much of the world to high standards we best be holding ourselves to even higher
"There are only three kinds of female the men let you be in the military: a bitch, a ho or a dyke," said Montoya, the soldier who carried a knife for protection. "This guy out there, he told me he thinks the military sends women over to give the guys eye candy to keep them sane. He said in Vietnam they had prostitutes to keep them from going crazy, but they don't have those in Iraq. So they have women soldiers instead."
Even if every single woman in the army that has ever suggested that she was sexually assaulted was lying, it would still represent a problem. If enough people are treated unfairly or not as equals, some of them will speak up. If there is subtle or unmeasurable inequality, then there will still be some people who will stand up, perhaps lying or exaggerating the truth. Whether the issue is real or perceived is a secondary, almost moot point.
Certainly, we can't condemn every soldier of the male variety:
I am not claiming that sexual persecution is universal in the military, or that it is inevitable. Several soldiers I interviewed told me that if a commander won't tolerate the mistreatment of women, it will not happen, and studies back this up.
There are seemingly decent, upstanding people in our country's uniforms out there and for those people I am grateful. Not only does it suggest that problems can be ironed out and that we are able to address issues, it also suggests what some often don't want to admit - we are intelligent problem solving creatures. We do not have
to be depraved sexually-charged creatures, even when forced into high stresswar zones, even when shot at. The thinking that suggests a co-gendered battle unit is incapable of maintaining a certain level of respect and safety among comrades is a defeatist attitude and suggestive of a backwards way of thinking and an unwillingness to accept change.
Unfortunately, the few decent people out there are probably farther and fewer between than we really need. Unfortunately,
The real attitude is this: If you tell, you are going to get punished. The assailant, meanwhile, will go free.
For back story, see the previous post
below.The other day I saw someone run over a squirrel. I was right behind him driving. The squirrel, well, it was writhing around, presumably in pain, on the road, until it probably died. I didn't stay around for long to watch.
Sure, the situation made me feel helpless as I was on the highway driving 80, in mid chorus of "Knock knock knockin on heaven's door", but what the hell am I supposed to do? Risk my life to try to save a squirrel that probably is going to die anyway? Stop and pull over the car to rush him to the squirrel ER? Certainly no one expects that. Certainly no one else would do that? not even ghandi or jesus or "His holiness" himself? right?
Then you think about survival of the fittest...well maybe that squirrel was supposed to die; you know because he was weak of mind: so stupid to jump out in front of a moving vehicle. but then you think, maybe it's just the opposite, maybe the only reason squirrels even exist in this world is because they are brave, because they have that proclivity for "the daring life". you know, just flinging themselves from branch to branch on a wish and a prayer that they'll catch that twig with one of their little phalanges and pull themselves again and again to safety by the skin of their teeth. And maybe...just maybe that squirrel was one of the good ones... maybe that squirrel was the next step in squirrel evolution, the missing link.
I'll take it one step further without being silly and put out there that maybe god gave us humans the mind to develop fast squirrel smooshing cars so we would run over squirrels, so that squirrels (and maybe that squirrel in particular) don't evolve into a higher species, perhaps then someday surpassing humans in intelligence. because maybe god doesn't want to see a future of little brainiac squirrels saying that they were made in the image of god. because maybe god doesn't want to be thought of looking like a squirrel. Maybe he likes the idea that people think he looks like sexy jesus with the long flowing hair.
I think it's all very likely. which is why in the future I will not stop for squirrels. i will drive on and continue singing as the doppler effect kicks in and my tune blurs into flats, and the squirrel lays on the pavement with one eye open just wide enough to see the rubbery tread of the next car and the next car swirve around him. while he wishes someone would just put him out of his misery.
All these questions, but it brings me back to your idea about the world and 25,000 miles and people starving. yah, all that stuff...it's the same...it makes me feel helpless, because I don't know what to do with it. It's too overwhelming, so I just turn on the TV and watch Saw III. you know, something to get my mind off why people die uselessly.
A scientific exploration of how we have come to believe in God.
This article in the New York Times Magazine actually gave me a new thought, and a contrarian one as well: Maybe I am not too atheist - maybe I am not atheist *enough*.
You know, I haven't really posed it to myself this way ever before (that I can recall) and it is these new thoughts that make re-living and re-thinking the same debates over and over worthwhile.. the idea that maybe you'll come across a new seed of truth, some new thought that helps you get closer to the truth, or at least your own personal truth.
The reason I say I am perhaps not atheist enough is that in my travels it is the what-ifs, the maybes, and the nonsense coincidence, serendipity, and wonder that really catch me up.
We know that drinking too much is not healthy. We know that smoking is bad for you. I know what works: hard work. I know that if I utilize this brain of mine, if I educate myself and motivate myself and work hard, I will succeed in this modern world we live in. Certainly, things were different in caveman or greek or roman times. Maybe my lack of physicality would put me at a dangerous disadvantage. However, right now.. what slows me down is the unknown.
Knowing of famous poets and philosophers who were pie-eyed drunks till their late 80s.. Knowing of people who smoked their whole lives - packs a day - with nary a tumor to speak of. Knowing of 'lucky' people who won the lottery or just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
It's bad enough to have these false hopes, which makes me glad I'm *not* religious. Cause, if you combined that stuff with God all I would be doing is sitting at home in my room in the dark praying to God to make *me* lucky.
I do struggle with the pure atheism, though. Deep down I don't believe in squat, but when people approach you and push you and use the scientific method against you (the same method they refuse to use for themselves) to make you admit that there *could* be a God, well, you get painted in the corner. The reality - when pressed - is that I fully admit to knowing nothing about what is "out there", beyond the galaxies and universe.. What that doesn't imply is me believing in anything out there. I just don't. I have blackness. Nothingingness. Somethingness.. I just can't and won't say what and, really, I don't really care. It's a bit removed from my own situation, you see.
So I guess in the end I'm a sneaky little agnostic because I can't say with faith that I know God does not exist. The joke there is that, to be an atheist, I would need some sort of "faith" to believe wholly in what I believe in.
But what really gets me is this unending effort and time that people put in to all this. I guess we all suffer from the internal questions of life but in a tiny world only 25,000 miles round, we manage to completely forget about entire countries of starving people... God is a lot farther away than that yet somehow oh so important. Important, certainly, if you believe he has the keys to your eternal glory.. which really makes you just a selfish bastard, in the end.
The irony of life has been quietly killing me lately, like too many blankets on a cold winter night. The weight of it all pushing ever so gently
, ever so persistently
, producing a tightness in my chest that I know is not angina, heart disease, or those cheese fries I just ate. I almost wish it were.
This, on the heels of an almost
heart attack in the extended family and then another
almost heart attack right here in my nuclear one. The two sisters six years apart but inside of two weeks they found themselves going through the same motions, one miming the other, jogging along on a treadmill stress-test run, poppinglipitor and adjusting their diets (code for running on a trend mill with less clothes on in front of strangers than you'd prefer, wearing little electric diodes on your body that transfer what small amount of dignity you have left through small electrical wires to a machine which then prints out an uplifting message like 'you can't eat anything more fatty than leaf greens from now till you die or you might.. die. Fatty).
This and the unending internal memos to myself: eat better, sleep better, work harder, work smarter. Er
, indeed. I can't figure out in which direction to run and in some respects it leaves me feeling as if I have no direction home, no compass, no trail of breadcrumbs to lead me to where I am supposed to be going. I'm busy pretending to decide things because they are realities: I will never be an Olympic sprinter becomes I don't need - nay, I don't want - to be an Olympic sprinter!
Ho, certainly not. Sprinting is bad for the joints anyway, right? But it's not just the sprinting that I once had little daylight-dreams about. There were more pedestrian things, smaller steps I used to take in my mind that would cause little whispers of thoughts, the ideas of hope and happiness and maybe the possibility of a happy-irony. An irony without sardonic wit, without malice, withoutabjectivity. Like maybe a simple serendipitous irony, like maybe the one person I've been trying to walk to in the forest and echoes and mountains in my mind, the one person I still covet in any real sense, turns up at the end of the same grocery aisle I am going down. Like maybe she, after months of derivative efforts in other places, hadcrystallized feelings for me - what ho, me - a timid wee lass of simple means who he himself had just that same day derived a conclusion of being, to follow that seed of doubt out across the great plains and chase her,unwanting, down down down down to earth, to reality, to simply say "I like you."
The irony so thick, on this day, is that we all like you
in your perfect presence, your perceived innocence, your unending flow of flattering glances. We all would like
to be an Olympic sprinter, you see. Deeply, it hurts us to realize that we have - in our one opportunity to arrive on time at the end of that grocery aisle - inexplicably stopped near the leafy greens instead. We've noticed another and - truth be told, we may be camels but that does not mean we do not stop to drink - this other, they are friendly and nice and have things to say. They listen and respond in the here and now and we need that sometimes, if only in passing.
But in the ironic scheme of mad scientists in the heavens fighting fire with fire, lightening with thunder and musical harmonies with melodic might, we pronounce our journeys, print our pasts, and fire off our fates with frenetic fanfare onto these phosphor pages. Wet, with sweat, our reality. We write - to ourselves, mostly, for it's solipsistic madness, really - about our day-to-day and when we least expect it, when we are least prepared for it, when we could not possibly know what to do with it if it came.. there they are at the corner by the baking soda, the one and only looking at you - at us - with a blank face that could mean anything and everything from hate to love to fight to flight to whatever you could ever imagine in both your darkest days and fanciful flights. You're busy talking to the hear and now, you and me, both, and for a few awkward moments everybody operates out of the corner of their eyes, too afraid to look away, too afraid to confirm what we already know is already there existing right outside our periphery. you
exist and I exist and if two people could stare at one another without lookingeach other straight in the face, well.... sorry, I'm busy with someone else. A small kid in an arcade, twenty-five cents of his hard earned money away on the video screen, palms sweaty, buttons mashing, too much going on to check who that is standing darkly in the doorway.. but a small petrified part of him knowing intuitively that the lunch money is already gone, they have so much control over him.
There are no apologies. There is no one vegetable we can eat to end all vegetables. There is no single answer that sits in wait for our scholarly minds. On some days we must munch of asparagus, mull overlima beans, brode about our broccoli. We can only hope that the peas will not get mad, and the cucumbers will not feel jealous and the string beans.. oh, the string beans, they are so tearfully sensitive, we can only hope they don't condemn us to our daily dread.
There are no apologies for saying I'm sorry.
Gah, another "oops, I ejaculated on someone again" news piece: Off-duty NWA employee spooges on passenger
Not that I want to make a habit of climatic news coverage anymore than I want to cover alarm clock technology.
. my brain hurts now.
so i met a gal on friday night.
at a bar.
i just went down by myself.. i get better at this the older i get, going to a bar alone - is that a good thing or a bad thing? anyway, i was making the trip because, well, i just needed to get out of the house. it was a friday night, it had been a slow week, i needed to see some new faces. sitting there with a pbr talking to my friend the bartender i felt a little relieved to be out in the audible jungle and not stuck at home inside the quiet solitude of my own head.. and these two girls came strolling into the joint and sat right down next to me and drank whiskeys and started talking to me, all friendly like. this is portland, maine and i'll be frank by saying that doesn't happen all too often
. and i'll be self-deprecating by saying plus, this is michael - *that* doesn't happen too often
. and i'll laugh it off as wit and charm (self-esteem is overrated, confidence is for narcissisistic cocks full to the necks with bud light and red in the face, huffing and puffing about their fast-paced career in marketing and finance) and i'll secretly kick myself in the shins (try it, it's harder than you think) for even thinking of trying to be funny at my own expense for the purposes of my own advancement, a catch-22 circular social mistake that has my insides tugging at itself like a fisherman whose caught the back of his own pants.
back in the outside, anyway, sit two odd ducks quacking at me with friendly faces and interesting backgrounds. one of them; really cute, really good attitude - easy laughter.. and so I got her number.
skip ahead to the next day and there is a connection. always always some connection with someone or other who dated so and so who was friends with such and such and lo-and-behold this world is small and tiny in it's vastness and i'm no more a dr. livingston than a jacques cousteau.. i'm just discovering myself over and over, everyone a sort of mirror shining back at me.
who knows, this one is an odd one. still, i don't know what to do with it. i'm no good at th phone game. 2 days? 3 days? 7 days? then what, anyway? drinks? i
don't know if (a) all the movies are bullshit and nobody dates that way in real life, the i want to or, (b) i meet lame chicks or, (c) i'm an alcoholic.. cause frankly a good date in my book is going out for drinks. it's perfect. not too long (like dinner) that you are stuck and not too antisocial (like a movie). not to mention the liquid courage. who *wouldn't* want to go for drinks.
anyway, i guess i could just call her up and ask her out for drinks and then sit at home by myself staring into the vague shadowy reflections that are made in the glass of a window with darkness draped outside. drinking whiskey.
Just too darned busy to care about your environmental footprint anymore?
Have more money than you do earth-saving motivation?
Well, go and buy yourself out of this mess, then. Everybody is doing it. The market for C02 credits in Europe
is chugging along and they want your business. Nevermind that the market has crashed and is probably a bigger sham than Sam.. you can get you some cheap cheap credits!
That's about $1.19 per tonne of carbon emissions
. At that price, you can pay o ff all of your polluting ways for about $10/yr. Seems just a little
suspect, doesn't it? Don't like the idea of trading on foreign markets? Well, you can go straight for trusty 'old' Ebay. Why buy new when you can buy used
?? Search for carbon credits on ebay
! Prices are floating around $10 a ton.