Found! Now how do I get lost again?

So I put my name in the header of this blog to see if I could google myself and find this blog, which I can. Yay technology. Yay google for indexing me. That almost sounds dirty when you write it. I figured I would get indexed, seeing as this free blogger service is part of google. Now the more interesting part of this little adventure is to see if I can now hide myself. Wish me luck, I'm going to try to play hide and seek with some virtual google-spiders.

I'm just curious how connected and forever all this interconnectivity is.

Coming home

There isn't any irony here, no humor. Just a fat girl walking around in a twinkies t-shirt. I'm back in the midwest.

I'm not sure Michigan is home any more, but I'm not sure any where has replaced it, either. Actually, I am sure no place has replaced it, I'm just not sure what to do or think about that. Does that sense of home and the associated sense of being, is that all I miss?


Sleeping through the wrong things

I'm alone in the office today and was thinking about things, and something occurred to me: I have fallen asleep at a travelling broadway production of Les Mis and the only opera I ever attended, fallen asleep on buses travelling through beautiful mountains and valleys in Honduras and Mexico, but I've managed to stay awake through some of the most mundane god awful boring bus trips and business meetings I have attended.

I have also, by design based on what was probably in retrospect a very poor decision when I was younger, emotionally slept through the greater portion of my adult life and am still trying to wake up.


Merry Christmas (non-denominationally of course)

Happy holidays fair readers. This is a dying plant from my office that I decorated before one of our in-office training sessions to make our office more festive. I called it a non-denominational decorated plant! It looks even better in real life than my crappy phone picture.
Anyway, it was right there in our lobby to cheer everyone up when they entered our office, and then I was out of town for a week and now it's hidden in the back under our internet server! I spent $10 on those decorations and 15 minutes and this is the thanks I get? Bah humbug to my office mates. I hate my job anyway.


Polar bear - victim or culprit?

There seems to be a lot of moaning in the press about the plight of the polar bear and how global warming could destroy their habitat and ultimately lead to extinction. Indeed, extinction is certainly a sad fate for any creature. However, what everyone seems to ignore is the role polar bears are playing in their own demise. Here is the case as it was set forth for me by renowned polar explorer Whitey Friezalot, he of the famed Nordic heritage and love of the creamy white snows of the arctic. As much as possible, this is a quote and the equations are his, saved for prosperity on the cocktail napkins of some dusty lost in time bar where we met up.

Aayargghh (Ed note: he was prone to start stories, sentences, and drinks with a low guttural sounds something like an Argg. It wasn't the sound we often associate with pirates, but something purely individual I can't describe.) The bloody polar bear. I have lived with the creature more than any other man and I tell you they are a beautiful creature to behold. Surely the world will be closer to lost without them. However, they are not the defenseless creature people would have you believe. They are savage carnivorous animals that eat a hundred pounds of blubber like you or I might eat a whole chicken. They leave the bones for the foxes like we leave them on the floor for the dogs!"

At this point, he spit on the floor and threw a chicken wing under the table. Of course, being a civilized country, there were no dogs in the bar. He didn't care, he was like that. He continued, "The pictures you see of polar bears in the snow, covering their noses to keep warm, those pictures are crap. Sure the bear is cold, but look where it lives? It adapted itself to that climate over millions of years, it has no one to blame but it's own forefathers." For all his faults, he was always a strict evolutionist. "Now, we see the pictures and we pity them the cold. Yet we pity them the warming too. It doesn't cut both ways, not that knife. Life is cold and cruel, not just for the polar bear." He spit again and drank the last of his beer, then the last of my beer, then ordered us another round. I was in this for the long haul it appeared.

"The problem is this: the polar bear has been living on borrowed time for many generations, and it isn't all man's fault. The polar bear has adapted itself to it's conditions sure, but like man it effects it's conditions, probably not as consciously or obviously as we do with our houses and bars and other abominations, but it's still true. The bears effect nature with their bodies." He paused here, maybe expecting something from me, like a question or a clever comment. I had nothing, so I sat and waited. People who spend time in the arctic are used to silence and so we sat staring at each other for 2 beers before he started up again. I'm not sure he even realized how long it was. When he did finally continue, he spoke as if there had been no delay.

"The polar bear you see is mostly fur and blubber. The males can weigh up to 1,500 pounds..." At this point, he grabbed a freshly polished pure silver pen from his pocket and a napkin to begin writing the formula that became the basis of his treatise. "An average polar bear..." and here he smiled at the very thought of something so simple as an average polar bear, "is broken out by weight as follows: 63.7% blubber and 22.4% fur, with the rest made up of other bones and bloods and intestines. That means, by mass, 86.1% of the polar bear, or 1,291.5 pounds, is fatty or furry."

At this point, the napkin had the following calculation (all misspellings are his):

Polar bare weight: 1500

Makeup: 63.7 blubber, 22.4 fur, 13.9 rest bare

Fatty furry: 86.1% * 1500 = 1291.5!

His ability to calculate in his head was certainly something for me to behold. He showed me the napkin before continuing, "That is a lot of blubber, and the blubber and the fur themselves give off warmth. This maintains the polar bear when it is alive, but what do you think happens when the polar bear dies? Does that heat just pass away?" He asked it in such a way I knew the correct answer and shook my head appropriately. He stared at me and squinted his eyes for a moment before continuing.

Now if you will be so kind as to recall from your thermodynamics studies (he was an acknowledged expert in many forms of math and science), the heat loss ratio of blubber is very slow, and the heat loss ratio of fur is even slower. The half life is something like 13 hours of fur,l and 8.7 for blubber. He added these to the napkin:
1/2 fur: 13 hrs
1/2 blub: 8.7

This means the heat given off by every dead polar bear is more than sufficient to melt more water than the polar bear ever weighed. This creates a net negative effect of ice maintenance to polar bear death!

He almost stood up he was so excited, skipping details in his commentary as I lost the details but was engaged by the passion.

So for every dead polar bear, the ice caps melt a little. This increases the amount of water in the world, pushing global warming, killing more polar bears, pushing global warming, killing more polar bears, pushing global warming...

I believe he said that 4 more times before stopping. I looked a little confused, maybe even frightened. He looked at me with cold eyes then wrote the following equation for me on the napkin:

LN (1/2 life * weight * blubber ratio)squared + (Friction of Arctic Ice * Mean Temp)/(Blubber ration * 1/2 life) = Lots of water

We sat for a bit in a bizarre silence drinking, and finally he added: The fate of the polar has tipped toward extinction. It is largely man's fault, but once the totter teetered, the bears keep pushing it forward. To stop it? He asked that as if in response to an unasked question, so he answered it. Thinner polar bears. Hell if it's so much warmer they shouldn't need so much fat anyway. The fur won't change for a long time, that's evolution my friend, but the blubber they can control. They'll figure it out. Or they won't. Fuck it!

He swigged his beer, stood up, and walked out. He was angry. I was alone with his napkin and his brilliance. I have yet to find anyone smart enough to follow the logic, but it was one of those things that made such an impact it must be true. The bill came. I didn't have enough money, I only came in for 1 drink. I ended up washing dishes and talking global warming with the Mexican dish washers. They didn't support the Humenguin Society, so we continue our slow ominous march towards a world without arctic and antarctic animals.


# of belts / # of people > 1?

I was in Colombia last week and I was at a little airport south of Bogota watching a man put on his belt after passing through security, then watched the next lady put her belt back on (and boy to have been that belt for a few minutes...sigh), and a question occurred to me: What is the ratio of belts to people in the world? It has to be greater than 1 right? There have to be more belts in the world than people? Do you think it's double? Triple? I know in developing countries a lot of people don't have belts and women tend to wear more skirts/dresses without belts, but where I lived in Honduras, many men had belts. In more developed countries, people have many belts. I have 5, one of which I am not sure I have ever even worn (it's a weird color, I bought it in bad lighting I guess). I'm not sure my apartment counts as a good example of a developed country though.

Anyway, I'm estimating 2.8 belts in existence (owned or for sale) for every person in the world. The next question is how many belts are manufactured each year for each person in existence? I'm guessing .7. No, I don't know why. I'm asking this the next time I interview someone.

So the next ratio is how many pants are in existence compared to the number of belts compared to the number of people...

Then on to suspenders...

Where does it end you might ask? Here.


America. Or maybe just Friday evening frustration

It has probably been said the art of a country defines it. I don't think I can name a single artist. Does that mean I cannot define America? Well, I don't think I can anymore. Recently, I have been wandering through the online archives of America, the internet and the newspapers and the blogs. I'm not talking about popular culture, which just doesn't interest me all that much, and I'm not talking about politics because that is a profession now not a public service. Politicians seek to maintain their power, not benefit America. Look at the war. Look at the farm bill. Look at almost anything a politician supports and you can almost always trace back their link to it, via former or future work (think lobbying money), constituency (think farm bill/gas mileage/minimum wages), or just plain old money (see pharmaceutical/big business lobby). The argument is to protect your constituency/money/future/power, but at what cost? These people aren't Americans. I don't respect anyone running for president. If you are a true nationalist, if you truly love America, you tell people what they don't want to hear even to your own future detriment for the future good of your country. Do you believe any of the candidates would do that? Maybe I will vote, but I am not passionate about any of them.

So what is America? There is a line from the poem America by Ginsberg where he says, "It occurs to me I am America. I am talking to myself again." It's a good poem, you should read it. This blog is really a conversation to myself. Or sometimes it is. More importantly, it is tonight. I seek America because I love America. It's my home, and that means something. I love my family because they mean something. I love my friends, my true friends, because I believe they will help me when I need them and I will help them when they need me. That's friendship, regardless of where I am or they are. I don't love the American dream though. Can I live in that dichotomy? I don't want to own a house. I don't want to be the richest man in my neighborhood. I truly believe I could be if I tried, but at what cost? When would I read? When would I drink coffee with my friends? Play tennis? Sit by the bay? Just say hello?

I found 2 things recently that just blew my mind. I realize America is a big country, and I really only understood that after living in a much smaller country. Not just smaller physically, but smaller in so many other ways I can't explain. It was damn near impossible to get around, but it still felt one big neighborhood sometimes.

The first item is this: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/fashion/06push.html?em&ex=1197176400&en=2ce83a2c57a58291&ei=5087%0A

This is what America has come to? The love of a man and women, which can be manifested in so many wonderful ways physically and emotionally and through action, often culminating in a child. Now, the child isn't the only culmination of that love? Really? You need a ring or earings or a bracelet or something to remind you of your children? Does that meaningless but possibly expensive materialistic item represent them somehow? What about your memories of them? Your love for them? I think ultimately if I found out my father gave my mother diamond earrings she loved when I was born, 2 earrings because I was the 2nd child, it would me hate them both. Did she carry me for that? Was I worth it? When she wears them and remembers me, is that the only time she loves or remembers me? She needs a physical representation of me to love me? It's hard enough becoming a person, won't this bullshit just complicate it more, make our children more materialistic and more neurotic and push us all over the cliff of craziness? I'm afraid of Americans. I'm afraid to go out sometimes, these are people I meet. I was at a birthday party yesterday for a girl I met once before who said her wedding ring should be 5 months salary! She said he could afford it. Sometimes that's not the point. I'll be honest I have a lot of things, maybe to many things. But I don't have everything I could have. That's not how you should define your life, is it? Who are we? Do I belong here? How do I fit in? It's a big country, but recently a lot of people feel like they are all the same...

So I found this mildly interesting and irritating. My problem with this op-ed piece, which means it is one persons opinion and he has an agenda to push latin. Fine. The issue with this is that there isn't any context. His issues seems to be the decline of rhetoric in this country, especially from our leaders. I agree, our political system is a joke, only nobody laughs except the rich and powerful. The author blames this on not studying Latin. Seriously? Is that the only thing that has changed in the last 50 years in our world? Is that even the most important thing? Let's say Hugo Chavez knew Latin? Would the author honor him? I agree the political process is broken, but is Latin really the major problem? And this is published in a major newspaper without a rebuttal. You don't like the NY Times? Fine, you are entitled. Give me a better source for news and ideas... That's the problem. People don't read. You don't have to read Latin to improve your oratory or build your vocabulary, you have to things that are well written. You have to think. You have to practice. You have to be willing to give yourself up to study and focus and self awareness and your own mind. Does that happen? If I studied TS Elliot and Joyce and Shakespeare for 2 years, don't you think my ability to speak in allusions and beautiful long sentences would increase? I could read Hamlet or the Bible and pick up something. If I read Marquez and Borges and McCarthy for 2 years, won't I be more creative? What the hell does Latin have to do with it? There are a lot of problems in America with focus (we focus on money but we don't focus on accountability for politicians and CEOs does not exist, we worship beauty not brains, we focus on short term goals/money/oil not long term sustainability -an old teacher was always amazed by a fact he threw out that native americans made decisions based on the 7th generation. It might have been only partially true, but it's certainly something no longer in the debate), but is studying Latin really that important?

Where do we go for knowledge? As a country, do we even collectively seek knowledge? I have decided the internet, which was supposed to bring this to everyone, is not the solution. It is an amazing start, but only if you can think. Why don't we teach people to think? Why don't we value people who can think? Why do we hate people smarter than us? I love them, and I hate them because I want to be smarter than them. I am not sure if I actually wrote this, but I had a very interesting conversation about competition and drive and how i intentionally turned that off in me. I said that competitiveness was killing me, Ihad to control it. Later, I realized I stopped competing athletically (mostly) to focus on competition of the mind. I love being smarter. I'm an ass maybe, but that's my thing. I don't think I'm arrogant - I'm a very gracious winner... That's just what gets me going, smart people who can teach me things.

I had a lot of problems in college, I struggled with who I was and where I was and what I wanted to study. A lot of people do. I don't always analyze things correctly, but at least college taught me to think, to analyze. As they say, I wouldn't give nothing for my journey now. Do you think a lot of Americans can say that?


Monday thoughts

The word forever doesn't have any real feeling for me, but the word infinite fascinates me.

I'm more comfortable wandering around alone making up stories in my head than I am wandering around with people. In my head, I'm eloquent, funny, and passionate. When I'm with people, I'm not. Then again, that's probably because even when I'm with people I'm usually wandering around in my head all the same.

I am going to Columbia for work next week, and it is the first time in a few years that the thought of just staying down there occurred to me. Is that a good sign?

The funniest joke I can think of right now is this: The invisible man married the invisible woman and they had a child but the child wasn't much to look at. I giggle every time I think about it.

I don't think anyone should be bailed out in the subprime mortgage mess. People make mistakes. Companies lose money. That's just the way it is. If we bail everyone out, nobody will ever learn. Recessions happen, they suck, and in a few years we'll be out of it. The stock market is still near an all time high, what's the worry? If they freeze interest rates for the next 1-5 years, aren't the same homeowners going to have problems in 5 years? Or will we all be so rich by then it won't matter? That's what I love about America, our long term planning.

As the presidential race tightens up, I become less interested. I don't like any of them really, and I'm just voting Democrat. Actually, if I don't get a license I'm not voting anything.

I can't watch a full sports game anymore unless I am with someone. I still enjoy playing sports, I just can't watch.

I have been watching classic chess games on my computer and I'm hooked! It's a bit of an odd things my new found interest in chess. Basically a few weeks back I read an article about the Kasparov - Big Blue matches where a computer beat one of the greatest chess players of all time and I got interested. Now I watch chess games (played out much faster than real time). I read an interesting thing that said chess moves by great players are usually decided in the first 5 seconds, but then the player spends time figuring out if they missed something. I read that in an article on intuition though so it might not be true.

I have a lousy memory, I always have. I am pretty decent at figuring things out though, and I'm sometimes over logical to the point of being obnoxious even to me. National Geographic had a fairly interesting article on Memory a month or two ago, and I think I might start researching that. It also had an extremely interesting article on swarm theory recently, and if I thought I could find do it it might convince me to go back to school. I could study packs of fish moving in tandem, honey bees, or ants - fascinating!

I really want to go to Mexico in the next 2 years for the migration of the butterflies. If I go, will I want to stay down there?

The number pi is an interesting number, but I don't understand the value of memorizing it out to a lot digits. What a weird thing to do. Isn't it better to understand? Then again, maybe I'm biased because I can't remember well but I like to fancy I can understand.

Borges and Garcia Marquez still fascinate me, and I read at least one of them almost every night. They are my adult teddy bears, like the knit blanket I had as a kid and put my fingers through the knitted slots, I put my mind through the stories. Or something. That is to say, they are comforting.

Is there anything more interesting than a right triangle? More particularly, is there anything more interesting than the square of the two sides of the right angle equaling the square of the hypotenuse?

If I had to go anywhere in the world to die, I think I would go to Machu Pichu and jump.

If I had to go anywhere in the world to live, I think I would go to...

I have a beautiful orchid in my apartment, and it makes me happy.

Listening to jazz while laying on my couch, reading, or staring out the window makes me happy.

I have been starting to get that super intense focus at work I had when I was younger, and I don't like it. That intensity, which people say leads to success, frightens me and is not how I want to live my life. I'm not sure how to fix this yet.

I am finally comfortable in San Fran, even though I don't really have many real friends yet. I feel comfortable in my apartment, have books around, and am in my own way happy.

I want to start playing tennis more and buy a bicycle and start taking long rides on weekends.

I want to go to a driving range and hit golf balls. It relaxes me. I have always found shooting a basketball alone or hitting golf balls relaxing.

I think time is the most interesting fascinating confusing thing in the world. It gives us memory. Without memories we don't have feelings or families or history. Time is the infinite jester, arguably more of God's nemesis than the devil. I have entire fables I wrote about this when I was younger.

I like reading old notebooks and remembering who I was. And I usually like putting them away and knowing where I am.


Where are my background dancers?

Sometimes I sit alone in my room and I wonder what good is it? Maybe I should go to the cabaret? If only my life were a musical, so that when things like that happened someone would pop and start singing trite but catching musical numbers from the way back times, and constantly creating new songs for new periods of my life. What good is sitting alone in your room?

For the first real time since I moved to San Francisco, I feel like my life is coming together. I feel like i picked the wrong area to live in, that I settled for the first place I found in a decent neighborhood without really understanding what I was getting myself into. I was worried about finding an apartment in a single weekend. I should have lived in a furnished apartment for 1 month and then found a place to live. I should have lived near Mission. Except for 1 dinner out in my neighborhood with a friend and 2 of their friends, everything I have done or want to do is in Mission. (Cue slow music as I skip through my neighborhood, the shops and sushi restaurants as the fog rolls in. I sing about the local shops, the coffee, the Presidio and the golden gate. It's great, but it isn't me. I hold that note for a while, then the fog clears, the music swells, changes - probably something Latin infused, think Mingus' Tijuana Moods - and then I'm dancing through the streets of Mission, picking up fresh fruit, high fiving hipsters, eating mondongo and pupusas in a taqueria, hiding out in a dive bar smoking in the secret back rooms flouting the law like a renegade as the music slows, I walk out the back door, fog again, the ballad returns, the song ends.)

Regardless, I'm here in my neighborhood. Scene 2 begins. It involves a boy growing comfortable where he is at. So far, it is sort of making some friends but more of finding known friends in the area and moving out one of my best friends from somewhere else. Life begins to hit a routine. The music enforces this, maybe something semi-mechanical that repeats and repeats as my backup dancers troll our behind me doing activities representative of our daily repetition. They lay down, wake up, eat, commute, work, eat, work, eat, watch TV, sleep. That's a routine, will that become my routine? With friends, you begin to develop a routine. In one of those odd contrasts of our language, your routine might be not having a routine that is repeated but constantly avoiding routine can be your routine... I can't explain what i mean. As the dancers represent routine, I wander in and out of their routine, maybe this is modern dance actually, trying not to fall prey to the routine, trying to be me whoever that is, finding things to do besides the same bars and the same thoughts and the same experiences. Hit all the major artistic shows, return to the routing represented by the dancers, fight my way out and do something else original, fall back into the routine. The music is alternately repetitive and industrial and original and creative, depending on where I am in the process. You get the idea, as the 2nd scene fades to black.

Scene 3? Remains to be seen... In fact, scene two remains to be written. Right now, it's nothing but a fear or a thought or an intuition.

One of my best friends moved to the Bay Area, which is how we say we say San Francisco and the lesser areas nearby when we pretend that Oakland and those areas matter because in San Fran we have to pretend to give a shit about everything (which gets pretty damn annoying!). He and his wife stayed with me for less than a week, they found an apartment, and today we went shopping so they could have some basic furniture. It was nice living with them for a while, and makes me wonder if maybe I shouldn't consider roommates next time I move. I wonder what the music would be for that? Happiness, confusion, frustration, anger, joy - just like any friendship. Maybe that is scene 4, postscript, to be written in 1 year? Anyway, I was sad to leave them at their apartment today, but I was excited that largely because of them and 2 other reconnected local peace corps friends, I feel like my life is coming together. I now have 1 great friend to call in the area, to visit, to sit around and talk to and wander and drink coffee and daydream and wonder and just be myself with. That can develop, but it takes time. We already have time. I decided to move all my friends out here. The music swells, the plane lands and everyone I know dances off! We lock arms! We do the Rockette's kicks! We swim with the sea lions and hang off cable cars! We laugh and drink local beers! The music is happy, we are all happy, and we all live happily ever after. Just like in all the great musicals (except west side story maybe...).