29 02 2008

So I’ve been, energetically speaking, in dire straits recently.  I guess for a few months.  It’s been winter, so the lack of outdoor fun and exercise can certainly be held responsible to an extent.  My poor diet can always be blamed.  And of course, the numbing routines of work and general life maintenance never really add much in the way of excitement/energy.  But I’ve been more tired than that this year.  I’ve never been able to go to sleep before 11, and I’ve been doing it at will for a couple of months now.  Cause for alarm?  More evidence of aging (assuming that aging affects most people similarly and observations on my elders is a valid reference)?

The sleep isn’t just shifting, after all, like with genuine old people who go to bed at 9 but then wake up at 4:30 in the morning and have had a full breakfast, walk, and bowel movement before my alarm even goes off.  I’ve had just as hard of a time awakening as the days when I drank a-plenty didn’t “go to sleep” as much as I passed out at 3 in the morning.

I spoke with a 23-year-old girl, Office Jacki for those of you who remember mention of her in a previous post, and she spoke of energy in much the same way I did at her age.  Active mind wants to stay up late, waking early and working, a little groggy but fine and sharp overall.  Repeat daily.   So maybe it’s just age?

Then I spoke to a gentleman, a few years older than am I, at lunch who’d just returned from a 5-day vacation, and he was in amazement, telling me tales, in awe of himself, of waking early, feeling great, eating well, staying up half the night, and repeating.  His daily life is not unlike mine, energy complaints included.  This is why he was amazed at how much energy he had for those 5 days.

Is it just about vacationing, or:  not working?  Too simple, man (and kind of pathetic–sounds like a lazy wanker’s theory).  Maybe it’s about keeping the mind invigorated and dealing with new situations and new things. That’s kind of my guess.  I feel more energized after a good conversation with someone, no matter what time it is, and that’s the evidence I nearly mindlessly present for my guess.

Nearly mindlessly because I am at work right now.  In the highly compartmentalized current model of economy and occupation, I think not too many of us really think or encounter new things or ideas at work very often.  I’m totally right if you’re tired right now.  Don’t question it.


Rocket Science

27 02 2008

I watched a movie called Rocket Science, and at the end, this was approximately said: “One day, you stop trying to figure it out, and you’re just grateful for what you’ve got.”

I’ve been walking that line for a year or so now–trying to decide how long is long enough to devote to thinking/wondering about the so-called big questions. At some point, you’re supposed to settle in to a “normal” life and just feel at home with it all, I think.

I think scientists get it both ways. They get to work on figuring out the universe in their generally narrow ways but aren’t stuck with the stigma of not being adult enough. Dudes like me with normal jobs are wasting their time if they’re not working to advance in the workplace, and prefer to research, as confirmed dilettantes, all the things they find mysterious and interesting about the world in their spare time. Some people go to grad school to further their time on these thoughts, but man, if I were paying for this, I’d be feeling pretty ripped off.

I’m kind of driven by that kind of wondering, though, by thinking about the largely unexplored human potential, though there is a lot I allow to get in the way. Others giggled, but I was jealous when a friend, Richard, who’s getting his Ph.D. at Austin said “It’s wonderful. I get paid to think about beautiful things all day.”

How difficult it is to continue the daily work of friendships and general life maintenance while scheming and enacting ways to get to the bottom of it all. Or, for those of us who kind of don’t think the human mind is equipped for the bottom, to see how far we can go without… losing touch maybe? It’s a fine line to walk.

Design and Evolution: Babies are Passé

25 02 2008

Someone I know had a baby shower very recently. AND I WAS INVITED. I did attend, briefly, because it was during working hours. I bought her a Winnie the Pooh blanket set because it was listed on the registry as “Poo Receiving Blankets.” I was a little offended at first, because aren’t dudes supposed to be exempt from this manner of ridiculousness?

Then I realized that I was being offended by a culture with which I’m not naturally associated, and that made it better. I had no right to be offended by that with which I am only connected by happenstance, being unlucky in time and space. So I got to be “objective” again.

Postulation: Inventor(s) of the human race intentionally protracted the human gestation period so that people couldn’t possibly connect the SEX ACT to the unfortunate outcome: needy progeny.


A. The inventors knew that the intense pain of birth and the protracted throbbing pain of parenthood would be conditions humans would be keen to avoid if they’d figured out the cause and effect. So they made the SEX ACT intensely (if temporally) pleasurable and biologically (not logically) fulfilling. The outcome, being 3/4 of a year away, would be very difficult to tie to said act for primitive-minded people.

B. The inventors figured that once humans advanced SCIENCE far enough to learn of the cause-and-effect of SEX ACT and progeny, the jig would be up and their experiment would have run the course of its usefulness, as higher brain functioning humans would choose not to condemn themselves to parenthood. Their assumption has been proven wrong, however, trumped by a prevailingly low-functioning high-brained species.

Ha, ha, right? Big joke on humankind, to prove ourselves so stupid. But Office Jacki had a good point to make.

Office Jacki: But if you think about it, the smartest of us have thought about it and choose to end the cycle. Even the otherwise intelligent ones who can’t overcome the biological urge to reproduce only have 1 or 2 at most. The rest of the world, however, pops them out like it’s their job.

Office Jacki has a point. We are partially evolved. And probably will eventually all die still partially evolved.

I was thinking about how to manage living the rest of my days as one of the enlightened minority. I was feeling kind of alone and semi-depressed on the subject, when I got an unintended nugget of genius from Friend Erica over email:

Friend Erica: “i pretend like i don’t see babies if they are in the office.”

It made me feel much better. I hope it’s done the same for you.

Mycelium Science Stuff

22 02 2008

So Amol, in his infinite generosity, procured for me a subscription to The Sun magazine, an ad-free, independent, non-profit, open-minded monthly that is published here in Chapel Hill and for which our friend Luc is an editorial assistant.  It is a truly excellent magazine and I recommend it to all.

The first interview in the first issue I received was with a man named Paul Stamets, one of the world’s leading fungus researchers.  I know that doesn’t sound too mind-blowing, but if you’ll read this article (or the abbreviated web version, anyway), you’ll have a newfound respect and fascination with the stuff.  It’s really amazing–and, believe it or not–inspiring.

Click me! 

Eric’s Quick Visit

20 02 2008

So, my boy Eric made a surprising but acceptable decision to convince his wife to take care of the kids alone on Saturday evening, promising to return Sunday morning, and came down to visit from Chesapeake.  He kissed his young children good-bye and drove 3 hours to hang out.

We were indecisive for a while about what to do.  Get 40’s?  Go to a bar?  Rough up some neighborhood kids?  We were adults, man, and we were tethered by no one, by nothing.  We started walking, deciding to stop by the convenience store at the end of my block, where we, overcome by the possibilities, bought glass-bottle Cokes, Skittles, Peanut Butter M&M’s, and Mallow Cups.  We carried our bounty in our pockets, trading candies and sipping our Cokes as we walked the streets of Carrboro.

Of course, we had a moment of clarity when we realized, without shame, that we were two 30-year-old dudes loose on the town, able to do anything we liked, and we’d decided to live out his 4-year-old boy’s fantasy–staying up late and eating tons of candy.

FYI… it’s still a lot of fun.  We were wiser than we thought in our early years.

Two Dreams

16 02 2008

Dream 1

I  was at my mother’s house, worrying myself over what kinds of things I needed to pack and how much money I should bring.  Lauren’s parents had invited us to spend 10 days at a beach house that they’d rented (nevermind the fact that Lala would never submit to spending so long with them).  I was alone in Goldsboro, though, and kept taking a Caprice Classic that was at the house into town to pick up things I thought I needed.  Lala was getting annoyed with me.  “Just bring clothes.  They’re taking care of everything else.  This is on them.”  Once I drove all the way up the road and decided to come back, but drove all the way in reverse.  I decided that the Caprice Classic was the best car I’d ever driven for backing up–it had great visibility and had very stable steering.

Dream 2

It was Vivek’s bachelor party weekend, and presumably we were in Montreal.  The only people I knew were Vivek and Amol, but the group seemed pretty laid-back and fun.  The night we arrived, we sat around for a while and joked around, had some beers, relaxed.  Somebody told a joke about a pregnant woman, and the punchline was about her tilting her belly to the sky and offering her progeny up to Yoda… and it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.  I couldn’t stop laughing, even.

Later, we went to a bar, and it surprised me by being pretty cool–the music was good and wasn’t overwhelmingly loud, it wasn’t too smoky, the lighting was dim but adequate, and the bartenders were friendly.  I kept seeing a girl with hair that I thought looked plastic and I really wanted to go talk to her to get a better look, but before I had the chance, our group was moving to the back of the bar, where a room I hadn’t previously noticed was bright with fluorescent lights.  There were two bouncers at a door that said “ID Required: Must be 27 or Older.”  I was alarmed and wondered what could possibly be back there that a 26 year old wasn’t allowed to see.  Everyone else went through but Vivek and me, and he put his arm around me and told me this was gonna be great.  We gave our ID’s.  The bouncer held onto mine as though he thought it was a fake, but after a moment let us through.

The next room was extremely dark, but there was an illuminated doorway at the end of it, and we went to it.  We walked through and saw an immense open space, dimly but adequately lit, kind of bluish, like the bar up front.  There was an olympic sized swimming pool in the room, and lots of strippers walked around the perimeter.  Wow.  There were lots of guys in the end near us, calling strippers in and having “water dances” performed, but our group was being led to the far end, where our own set of girls was awaiting us.  Everyone dropped to their undies and jumped into the pool, myself included, and grabbed onto the wall, where apparently all of us were going to get some kind of water lap dances.  A lead girl was walking up and down the line, pairing up strippers with guys and telling them what they’d each be getting.  Everything sounded pretty dirty, and there were some skinny asian guys in our group that looked to be nervous.  Terms like “pelvic thrash” and “coochie face” were being thrown around.  I pushed off the wall and started floating back.  I heard her say that she was short a girl, and I knew I was the one who’d be left out, but I didn’t mind.  I floated all the way to the middle point of the pool and ran into a wall.

They were still organizing my group.  I saw a little bottle on the side of the pool.   It was pale yellow, had a drawing of a koala on it, and read “Lotion for your face and hands and crotch and cock and balls.”  I was shocked, and realized it was meant to be lubricant for added sensitivity while the girls were doing their pool dances on you.  I looked around and saw that these bottles were all over the sides of the pool.  Eww.  But funny.  I went for my phone to take a picture of it, but realized I didn’t have it.  I thought about going to get my clothes and take a picture, but didn’t remember where they were.

The next day, Amol and I were sitting around a regular outside pool, and a few of my mom’s friends were there.  The only one I remember is Kathy Longmire, who doesn’t live in North Carolina anymore, but who was saying that she understood why none of her far-off friends thought it was cool to come visit her in NC, which is why she has to travel so much to keep in touch.  It also happens she was pregnant.  And she, already lying back, motioned to the sky and made the same comment about commending her progeny to Yoda that someone had made in the joke the night before, and Amol and I looked at each other and burst into laughter.

Meat Party!

15 02 2008

Here is one of my favorite qwantz comics: