New favorite video for me and the study group. Figured I'd share.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
New favorite video for me and the study group. Figured I'd share.
The PSU Library book sale starts today at noon and runs til Sunday. Looks like they have a ton of stuff... I accidentally started browsing an hour early. A curt librarian reminded me that it wasn't open yet, oops.
Enjoy your day,
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
2. Chose Methamphetamine as your drug of choice, ride this pony straight into hell.
3. Alienate every single person you ever loved, all the way to your closest relatives. Push them so hard you have a conversation with your parents that basically comes down to, "We don't care any more whether you get clean. Don't contact us any more, we're done, you're on your own."
4. Find yourself in a cop car, having been arrested with enough drugs and paraphanelia to put you away for a long time. In desperation -- try talking to the cop. Explain to him that you recognized him from a few weeks before when he had arrived at your residence to check out whether you were in fact suicidal. Beg him to let the situation slide, as you've been white knuckling it for a week just waiting for a bed to open up at a residential treatment facility and all you need is a little time to get into treatment. In response to his stony silence, ask the cop whether he has any children [he doesn't like this question one bit and tells you so]. Explain to him that if you go down for this, you will never see your son grow up. Divine Providence steps in when the cop decides to throw you in the can for the weekend, but not to press charges. He does, however, explain that if he ever sees you again he will use everything he confiscated that night and anything else he can throw at you to make absolutely sure you never see the light of day again. This is your one chance.
5. Take that chance and attend residential treatment when a bed finally does open up. Figure your shit out, begin recovery.
6. Start a series of jobs at OHSU, starting as a phlebotomist. Apply for and get a job in autopsy so you can "hang out with your dead homies."
7. Become intrigued by the human body, and with forensics. Begin daydreaming of being that person in C.S.I. who solves crimes from the autopsy lab.
8. On the advice of some of the residents at OHSU, begin school in pursuit of a medical degree -- sights set to be a Medical Examiner [requires a degree in Pathology].
9. In the process of all this, become the fantastic father to your son that everyone knew you could be. Become a rock to both The Kid and his mother (you are separated) -- providing stability, love and compassion.
10. Kick ass in school, despite being a single father with two jobs, shooting quickly to an A average. Make crazy friends in your chemistry class and spend way too much time with them. Study til the wee hours of the morning most nights.
11. Apply for a Ford Foundation grant. Wow them at your interview. Receive grant that will pay for the lion's share of the rest of your undergraduate education.
Congratulations Doctor Octagon, I can't imagine a better candidate for that grant. You are a rock star, super hero, and a gentlemen.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
This video has gone viral on the net, but in case some of you haven't seen it, I thought I'd post. Some of the most amazing nature footage I've seen -- but not for the weak of heart. Makes you wish there was a professional team available to get this in High D with bigger lenses. Amazing stuff, especially considering the equipment available to capture it.
So this poem comes with caveats, as it is not a finished piece, nothing I would read at on stage or anything. But I found it amusing this morning when it showed up on my desk so I thought I'd throw it up here.
Why I took Poetry Class
I was a famous poet, see
Published many times over --
womens' underwear on the stage
And then there was a terrible accident
and a 2-stroke diesel engine --
I won't go into it here
There were also electrocutions,
a good number of them --
and chronic pain
After which I found myself
with shorn hair and a wonderful wife,
Monday, May 28, 2007
I'll start with a quote from director De Laurentis, "Barbarella is the ultimate science-fiction adventure heroine - smart, strong and sexy." I beg to differ Mr. Director -- she was passive, dumb and submissive. Not to say that the movie wasn't genius, it was -- but the heroine sure wasn't.
The genius of the movie was the balls-out visual kitsch it provides. Many of the special affects are done with oils dripped on glass and lit with colored gels. One of the most commonly-used stage props is huge clear plastic bags inflated with air. The ridiculous sets are so outlandish and cheaply made they are Fellini-esque. The inside of her spaceship is covered with thick fake fur for crissakes! T. dubbed it the "fur cave" (double-entendre intentional). Of course the dialog, the "characterization," and the story are also completely off the wall.
What I saw in the heroine was wide-eyed passivity in the face of menace. She couldn't walk across her own space ship without tripping and falling. She had sex with everyone who helped her, and was ready to reluctantly have sex with with anyone who insisted themselves upon her. In movie critic nomenclature, her type is called "ultra-innocent." I understand that this was the time of "free love" and she was supposed to come from a culture completely without violence and complicity -- so she was being presented as some kind of innocent savant, but it still comes across (to me, in this time and place) as idiot savant. Or just idiot, really.
Young Fonda is very beautiful, so hey you can't complain TOO much. Or at least I couldn't. To the movie's credit, her outfits were fantastic -- really fantastic. Generous exposure of skin, lots of flashy plastic, fake fur, straps and tails. Completely over the top and obviously the inspiration for much of the soft-core Sci-Fi "art" that happened since then.
So yeah, the movie is definitely not P.C. It's not well written, it's dated, it's not particularly well shot -- but it is immensely entertaining for those in the right head-space. I know plenty of folks who sit through art-house films and tell themselves they enjoy the experience -- why not sit through an icon of a movie and actually enjoy it.
In the final calculation, T. and I decided that the highest use of this film is as a drinking game. Simply drink every time: Fonda falls down, has sex, is taken hostage, goes unconscious, or changes clothes on-screen. You could easily make a more exhaustive list, but this short one will get you hammered not 10 minutes into the movie.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Was trolling a bit this morning, cruising for blog fodder when I found this article on Oregon's wave power potential.
Everything has an impact, and I'm sure there are environmental ramifications to wave power generation we couldn't even imagine right now (like wind power turbines chopping up raptors). But to not look into this technology does seem reckless. The wave power movement is far advanced in Northern Europe where it has a 20-year jump on us. The fact that 50% of the U.S. population lives along coasts bodes well from a design perspective in that the energy generated won't have to travel far.
It's a good article, and I'm curious to see what develops.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I proceeded to the basement and set up, starting in on the breathing parts of the practice. The song was still going in my head, but I was determined not to get flummoxed by it and just to train through. As I started in to the meat of the training, it occurred to me that this is like training to be a superhero. I remembered back to a conversation I had with Squirt (Doctor Octagon's 7-year-old son).
"Superpowers aren't real tho."
"Oh I wouldn't be so sure about that."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm just saying, people can do more amazing things than you might imagine. [although I didn't cite any examples, I was thinking of Tibetan Monks who practice Tum-mo, & Parkour practictioners running up and down walls] You would be surprised at what people can do."
I couldn't let him get too rigid at such an early age. It doesn't take much reading in Taoist or Buddhist or Yogic literature to find accounts of remarkable feats by people. Of course over time the stories get inflated, but I've seen some amazing things in my short life already, so I figured I'd just stick a doorjam in his mind to keep it from getting too closed.
Many remarkable feats are from Qi Gong practitioners.
So I kept training, and the Rocky theme never really went away. I feel all buzzy and perky now, despite having less sleep than anyone else in the house.
This part of the practice is really like giving yourself some sort of bodywork treatment -- like when a massage therapist practices Tapotement. It feels like I am giving myself acupressure -- and really that's what's happening. It is a trip too that this practice uses a tincture, topically applied. I've read about Taoist practices using herbs in many forms, but none I have practiced so far ever prescribed them. Pretty cool really.
Going to be a beautiful day in Portland, ya'll have a good time now.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Normally I don't enjoy the live music played at PSU on the park blocks, but today I was pleasantly surprised. The Crosswalks were putting out some very appealing, jangley pop that I just had to stop and listen to. This was my once a year "wow, this band doesn't suck" moment at PSU.
I'll leave the reviews to real music reviews, but I will say they were a pleasant reminder back to early Throwing Muses and even the Pixies in their mellower moments. They also had the wonderful quality of knowing their instruments and voices, and playing them with skill -- they didn't have that unintentionally-sloppy sound that 90% of live acts I hear in the blocks tend to have. They were in command of their music, making it do what they wanted, without sounding at all stiff. Enjoyable stuff, even for an old geezer like me.
Their debut album New Ghost Lights is getting some positive attention in town. You may want to hit their myspace page and take a listen.
So the kind Canadians had a good day touristing about in Portland, and we planned a night in a beer theater then ice cream and classical music at Rimsky's. But The Wife had taken her monster test that day and was pretty road-weary by the time we were planning to get going, so we decided instead to hit TJ's, stock up on 3-buck-chuck and snackeys, and stay in. I took the Canukistaneese to Movie Madness, since that's as much of a "Portland thing" as going to a beer theater or Rimsky's. We hunkered down for our movie with an array of snacks: Mochi Ice Cream Balls, peanut butter pretzels, and strawberries with chocholate sauce.
We chose The Curse of the Golden Flower and weren't disappointed. I am on a dead heat here to get to my public transportation date on time -- how shall I make this quick... The movie is so over the top in look and especially costumes that it can be forgiven a lot in plot. However, the plot (if you are into court intrigue) is not lacking -- so overall it is a very enjoyable experience. If you happen to have any folks around who are willing to comment on the FABULOUSNESS of the costuming and excess, that much the better (we have T., unparalleled for pointing out excess and drag-queen-like fashion with aplomb). My single bitch about the whole movie (no this isn't a spoiler) is the horrible song at the ending credits. The rest is just dandy.
Of course we were amongst good company and surrounded by TJ's bounty, drinking hard cider and cheap wine. Good time had by all.
I woke up, as expected, with a sugar hangover. I have to treat an indulgent night of sweets like others would a case of red wine -- extra water and aspirin before bed -- or I wake up regretting my hasty actions.
Ok running for the bus, ya'll have a good day now.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Ok the one I saw had better hips and flare-cut jeans as opposed to bell bottoms, but a Cher doppelganger just walked by, I swear. It was startling, to say the least. I had to do something, it was either text message the study group or post -- I figured this was more altruistic.
Plus it was a perfect excuse to share this ROCKING picture I found. Doesn't she look like she's either just walked out on the runway in Milan or onto the screen of a bad 60's sci fi flick?
Shutting up now and getting back to paper writing.
That is all.
After the whole chicken burial post (see yesterday) I've been dubbed the Blog Paparazzi in my household. That was the key phrase of the rant The Wife went on after she saw my post -- nothing gets by the Blog Paparazzi.
Ya well, it's all in the name of... art. Can I hide behind art? It's not politics, so it must be art... something first-amendment-ish. Something culturally relevant.
So only a quick missive this morning, as I have a lab writeup due and spent more time last night hanging out with my international visitors than writing on it. The writeup is due in 2 1/2 hours, tho maybe going for just "one day late" might be my best bet at this time. Is it possible to have Senioritis the spring before my senior year?
The intrepid visitors are from Canadaland, and are here for what we've dubbed Gothfest. They have the appropriate boots, so I think they're legit. Probably have more to say about their visit as the weekend progresses. [one of them blogs here, and will keep her pseudonym of Muse]
Enjoy your day,
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
You remember back when you were in school -- how tantalizing that unkempt sock drawer looked to you when you had a big paper due. "Oh, it won't take long, it's affecting my concentration I'll just organize it." Boom, forward to 3 hours later, 11:00 pm the night before a paper is due, and you've moved on from the sock drawer to vacuuming underneath the bed (which of course entailed cleaning all the old socks, magazines, dried food, and vermin out from under there), and are planning to finally get to cleaning that pesky spot behind the toilet that gathers dust and pubic hair. You've suddenly become June Cleaver on Meth. All in the name of Not-Studying.
So tonight, I humbly posit that this was the motivation behind the unusual event that ensued. It was after dinner time when we realized little TaTa hadn't been buried yet (busy morning) and The Wife said she'd go "get it all set." I assumed that meant, I don't know, picking a spot to dig. The Wife's not so big on the whole death thing anyway (not a wuss by any means, but still), thus the division of labor in our marriage. Instead, she hauled the dead carcass, dug an impressively deep hole, and buried the little bugger before I realized what had even happened. This is completely out of line and out of character, as she is supposed to be the "Care of Small Living Things" department of this marriage, while my beat is "Death and Compost." It is amazing what happens to personalities under stress. It was a good break from studying, nonetheless.
She's so going to beat me when she reads this, I better get it edited and published quick.
Many things to present this morning, small things, mish-mashed things.
First off, I found a new blog and this one is so good I thought I'd share it with you. This guy knows how to write, and is very funny. The blog is called Geese Aplenty, by Greg Howard. Normally I wouldn't bug you with another blog, but I saw a few posts and had to pick a favorite to share. Here is an example of his work, make sure to get to the end, it has a couple punch lines, of sorts, that rock.
Secondly, we lost TaTa this morning. Another banty from the old days, same batch as Mata Hari. Both of these chickens were full grown pet chickens when we received them 4-5 years ago, so they lived to be a ripe old age. TaTa was a barred-rock colored (I know there is a more technical term for black and white speckled, but can't bring it up in the memory banks at the moment) banty with a nice spray of feathers over her feet and quite the attitude. TaTa and ChiChi were a little dynamic duo when we first got this batch of chickenlets. ChiChi had so much attitude we decided to farm her out to a few friends with a bigger straw yard than ours. TaTa was always mellow and stayed with us. Now to find a spot in the yard that 1. hasn't been planted yet, and 2. doesn't already have a chicken buried in it. We have lost 3 this year now, the first due to opposum then the more recent little girls of old age.
Enough morbidity, time for movie fantasty. The Golden Compass, a really great "young adult" fantasy book has been adapted to the screen. Not only that, but it's nearly done and has a trailer finally. I would be decently excited about this, because I actually enjoyed the book (and I'm not one of those Harry Potter fanboi adults either, I can't get through the first book of that series), but The Wife is really revved up. I wouldn't say beside herself, but while both T. and I were still completely bleary-eyed, she regaled us with descriptions of the trailer and the books despite the fact that she didn't have a fully conscious audience. If I can get my hands on the fabled 10 minutes of sneek peek, I will post it toot sweet. Also, this is only one of a trilogy called His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman (probably should have mentioned his name earlier in this post, eh) -- so there are two more movies coming. Good news for The Wife, she's quite excited.
Ya'll have a good day now, ya hear?
Monday, May 21, 2007
Hm, before I write further I need to put a huge disclaimer/caveat in here. I know very little about this work, and therefore will be using rampantly pedestrian phrases for specific things about "The Industry." Don't expect this post to be a lexicon of TV production jargon, I'm hardly awake.
Anyway, Jerry is a very talented guy and his production team does slick work. Their company is called Montgomery Creative -- probably something I should have mentioned a little earlier in the text.
What sparked a post was that this type of thing falls under the "holy cow there are amazingly specific jobs out there," category in my world. Montgomery Creative doesn't, to my knowledge, do full-length anything. They do intros to full length productions. And they are dam good at it, because they specialized. They have to have all the talent sets of folks who do full-length work, but that's not what they decided to specialize in. A trip really.
So it's nothing earth-shattering today, just tripping out on what folks do for work, how specific it gets, and how much talent hides in nooks and crannies of the work world.
Apparently, for the folks who do these lead-ins (I pray Catherine the Great will pop in here and tell me the REAL name for this type of spot), the one for 6 Feet Under was the pacesetter for the whole business for a while there. They all thought it was the shiznat.
Off to school, ya'll have a good time now.
Ps: Catherine that new photo is tantalizing -- in a wildly talented, artistic way of course.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
"This is a wild-rice pilaf, with spring vegetables and a champagne vinaigrette."
CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP *CHICKENBURP* CHOMP CHOMP
"And here we have some lovely crepes stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese, lightly sprinkled with minced chives."
CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP *fight over positioning, squawk* CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP
T. would look up from his duties and say "Hell, this is just like work!."
This morning, the girls got a nice big stalk of bolting chard that we let overwinter for their first course. We have lots of green leafy vegetables that overwintered, look pretty beat up, and are getting big and tall while bolting for spring. They are great chicken graze. They also got a nice big bowl of The Wife's famous Puttanesca on wavy noodles, and over-ripe banana and some flour leavings. They're macking right now as I type.
Between kitchen leftovers, greens, and the worms I toss in with shovelfuls out of the compost pile, our chickens get some great nutrients added to their standard "high lay crumble" food diet. This is how we get such incredibly rich eggs, with deep sunflower gold yolks that stand up very high. There is a lot of variety in the eggs as well, since not all chickens go for all the different types of food we give them. Some are all over the worms, some the greens, etc.
Chicken Obituary: Yesterday, Mata Hari was interred underneath one of the last vegetable beds that hasn't been planted yet. She was old, probably the oldest chicken we had. She was a banty, black body and gold-lace head and neck -- very cute, very sturdy little bird. Had I known she was going to be leaving us, I would have taken a portrait. I'm thinking she was at least 7-8 years old. She went in her sleep, as they often do when they die of old age. She's now earth food.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I've started up a new Qi Gong practice. Qi Gong basically translates as "energy work." The most common form of Qi Gong in the U.S. currently (well, technically a subset of Qi Gong) is Tai Chi. This practice is common to see here on the West Coast, and especially in Portland. Plenty of people in the parks moving slowly and gracefully.
Good Buddy Jonathan Schell, acupuncturist extraordinare, turned me on this teacher coming in to our area with a Qi Gong that he was very interested in. The practice is Jingui golden Shield Qi Gong, and the instructors name is Dan Pappas, he has his own Blog. He's a cool guy, easy to talk to, and very approachable. He's very smiley, which at first confuses Portlanders who are just creeping out of their dens from a long grey winter. But I'm used to it, as most every Qi Gong practitioner I've ever worked with was also smiley -- it's part of the practice actually. Smiles set meridians in the face into a healthy position, etc etc.
SO -- I'm going to clear a spot where I can face South and do my thing. Get all healthy and shit. Ya'll have a Saturday now, ya hear?
Thursday, May 17, 2007
How is it that one can practice a certain style of problem for dozens of hours over the course of a few days, forsaking family and friends, cleanliness, and sleep -- to arrive at the test and completely blank? What is the anatomy of a Choke?
I had the fantastically morbid experience this evening of looking at a problem on a test, and having absolutely no idea about how to proceed. The dam in my understanding only cracked as the Prof. was calling out "finish up" times, so I scribbled a description of what I knew to be true for some mercy credit and had to turn it in.
It's amazing really, the whole event. The feel of the event. Sitting there, staring at an 18-point problem and not having a f'ing clue what to do. The stomach turns first, then heat rises to the scalp and ears, you burp up some brimstone and your feet disappear. My mind tried to spin, imagining already how I was going to describe the bloody event after the test, even as my limited time was slipping away. Somehow, I just couldn't fathom that F- could be a conjugate base of a weak acid. I thought it was some kind of sly trick, despite the presence of a Ka, confirming that it was a weak acid. I just couldn't get that through my thick skull to proceed as I always had.
It's taken me about 3 hours to calm down from the blistering anger I was dealing with right after the test. After this cathartic little writing exercise I expect I'll be sleeping like a baby, having wrung out my endocrine system from all the stress and emotion of the last few days. I really do want to know how that could possibly happen. My mind wants to make stories -- I just changed this or that in my life, I didn't get enough sleep last night to make up for the accumulated sleep deprivation of the last week, the stars are aligned in such a way that I was destined to receive a psychic pistol-whipping this evening -- anything. In the end, I just don't know what happened.
In hindsight, of course, I know dam well how to do the problem. Hell, had I 10 more minutes I would have done the problem -- it was that 20 minutes of sitting there huffing and puffing like a bull staring down the last matador he'll ever see that screwed me.
If anyone has insights or stories about totally choking under pressure, please feel free to unburden yourself in the comments section.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Doctor Octagon, Captain America, Lil' Mike, Big Chocolate, Tweaky,the Sundance Kid and I convened last night at The Den to prepare for our upcoming tests. I wasn't present for the naming of Lil' Mike's girlfriend, but she has been dubbed Tweaky. Apparently she made some sound in Doc's presence recently that reminded him of the robot from Buck Rogers. Another name change occurred recently, in that Smartypants finally was re-dubbed as Kw; which not only are her initials, but is a constant we use all the time in chemistry. The Geek Rating (tm) of this nickname is basically off the chart.
Last night was a typical scene at The Den: small dining room table covered with notebooks and calculators; Full throttle, Red Bull and Rock Star power drinks were all represented, bags of various snacks were open and spread about including the infamous Cheezy Poofs. The Crew was huddled over their notebooks, plugging away at calculators, huffing and puffing over the problems. Occasionally loud expletives erupted from the table.
[A side note about Cheezy Poofs -- I am fully responsible for introducing this addictive substance to the study group, and I'll take my karmic lumps for that. A bag lasts approximately 7 minutes once opened -- if they weren't so rich they wouldn't even last that long.]
Tweaky and I were off in the living room, studying on the Comfy Couch. Despite the posh accommodations we had, I felt a little strange and a little anxious, as I was off to the side studying evolution instead of chemistry. It was like having to pull over on the side of the freeway, hood steaming with some engine problem, while all your friends in a caravan blasted on past you. I knew dam well I needed to put in study time for the upcoming evolution test, but I also knew I was falling behind in Chemistry. I guess it was one of those "character building moments" your grandparents always told you about. Or, one of those self-help opportunities that are dubbed in my house "another fucking opportunity for growth." Regardless, I pressed on and put in the minuscule amount of time that evolution gets allotted. I easily spend 85 - 95% of my study time on Chemistry.
I've now taken the mid-term in evolution, and it felt pretty OK. I'm going to walk around in the sun for a few minutes before Injury Avoidance class (Aikido) and possibly think up another post. I have 3-4 brewing at the moment, we'll see what arrives.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Comedian Eddie Izzard is the inspiration for the capitalization and exclamation point on BEES! I may have to do that this whole blog. The line is, "I like my coffee like I like my women... with BEES!" I love him, so weird.
So, bees and eusociality -- let the conversation begin.
Eusociality is the ultimate evolved form of altruism, in a biological sense. For those who haven't hit the link, it's the kind of behavior we see in animals that live in colonies, that normally have sterile worker castes, and one or very few breeding "royalty." From a fitness standpoint, what the hell do the sterile workers gain from this scenario? It's obvious the Queen gets to spread her genes all over hell and gone, but the grunts got nothing going. Or at least that's how it appears. The workers are living a completely altruistic lifestyle.
The truth of the matter, now that the genetics of the situation have been sussed out, is that in all Eusocial animals the degree of relatedness is very very high. Meaning, most everyone you are surrounded by as a worker is related even closer to you than a human child would be toward it's parent (assuming no inbreeding).
Sometimes this high level of relatedness happens due to a genetic strategy called Haplodiploidy. In the case of BEES!, the males have 1/2 the genetic material than the females do. Without going into a huge explanation of it (Wiki does a pretty darned good job, so click that link if you are ravenous for more knowledge), it means that the sterile worker females are more related to each other than even to their queen. 3/4 of their genetics are shared -- humans have no analogy for this, except possibly that it's 1/2 way closer to being identical twins than being normal siblings.
As I mentioned before, relatedness in many situations determines the amount of altruism. If an animal helps their closely related kin, then their genes pass on and that type of behavior becomes prominent in that animals lineage. This is called Kin Selection. Like everything in nature, it's not *quite* that simple, but close enough. These bees are all having their genes passed on to the next generation quite efficiently by specializing at being good workers and not going through all the work and effort of breeding.
There are very few Eusocial animals in the world, most bees and wasps, some termites, ants, a couple beetles and one mammal. Only one mammal is currently known -- the Naked Mole Rat. These bizarre little buggers are not fashion plates, thus the picture of BEES! at the top of the page and not this.
They are also highly related, in fact even more than Haplodiploid colonial animals -- they are .81 or 81% related. How would mammals be this closely genetically similar? Inbreeding, intense inbreeding. Honestly, these are disgusting little animals. But, they are a God's-honest example of eusociality in Mammals, and the only one known of so far -- they deserve a mention.
Some time if I'm feeling scatological and sadistic, I may go into an explanation of these animals. But this morning, I have breakfast to eat and that wouldn't be conducive.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sitting in evolution class today, learning about relatedness and altruism in a biological context, it's almost impossible not to relate it to humans. I may launch into a more comprehensive explanation later on, but the basic concept that got me rolling was "altruism" in animals, in almost every single case, can be related to personal benefit. Either direct benefit through relatedness -- you help your sister raise their kids and some of your genes (also in your sister's kids) still get passed on to the next generation. Or through delayed reciprocity -- you help another couple of birds build their nest and raise their young because there is a lack of females around, so when her current mate dies you will very likely be his successor.
An important understanding is that the passing of genes isn't a conscious decision. Behaviors that successfully pass genes to the next generation themselves get passsed to the next generation. This fixes those behaviors in populations. It's not a personal thing, it just happens.
So how does this relate to humans? If you do the cold math, it would mean that if a passel of people were floating by in a river and would drown without help, you'd save the ones most closely related to you. You'd save brothers over cousins, and second cousins over strangers. Behavioralists have looked at whether these equations (that work pretty dam quite well in the animal kingdom) work out for humans, and in general they turn out to be quite true.
Humans are weird of course, especially now that culture puts such a huge emphasis on thought and intellectual property. New concepts need to arise to accomodate the value of passing on thoughts and ideas, placing them nearer the value of a purely biological heritage. Nowadays people want to pass their ideas along as much or more than they want to pass on their genes. This is where the term Meme came from.
And that is where this musing starts to wander far enough afield that I'll let it go for now.
At the beginning of this post I was going to make some reference to how the post might be odd or badly written because of lack of sleep. And then I realized, I have either referenced or wanted to reference lack of sleep in every post for the last week and a half. Or nearly so.
I'm starting to think this blog should have been called an insomniac's journal. I will be heading to the acupuncturist after Injury Avoidance class today to set things straight, so soon I trust the issue will be moot.
I know it's ravenously engaging for my readers -- no, really!
Enjoy your day,
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I know there is a lot of argument about page view counters and how they decide who is a 'unique' page view etc. but I'm just pleased to see that folks are enjoying the blog. I am enjoying the hell out of writing it. It has limbered up the writing parts of my brain, and now I can at least trot, or maybe even canter without straining a neuron.
I still have to stretch a lot or I'll pull something I'm sure. But the exercise is going well.
Thanks for stopping by and making it that much more appealing to practice my writing.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
So I hatched a diabolical plan at study group last night. Instead of buying bottled ice tea, I'd save my money and buy a humungo barrel of cheapo Lipton instant ice tea -- pre-sweetened and lemon flavored etc. It's unclear how much of this evil, addictive brew I drank last night -- but it was way too much. The presence of tonnage of the product lead to excess.
The study group powered through some chemistry, but eventually Captain America and Big Chocolate hit the road due to early morning duties, leaving Lil Mike, Doc Oc and I to try and be productive at the house. We quickly succumbed to entropy and stopped studying. It was only like 12:30 at this point -- 2 or so hours earlier than our normal study stoppage, so Doc proposed watching a movie.
I was easily convinced to stay to watch this bitching Russian vampire movie called Night Watch. I was so hopped up on Lipton that I knew I wouldn't sleep anyway. Lil Mike resisted at first but once the movie started he got sucked in by how bitching it, indeed, was. He soldiered on through some of the movie before he was getting too tired to drive and had to bail.
The movie is an A -- lets just start there. So far all the movie reviews I've written haven't busted the B category, but this one really did. It's gritty, interesting, and most of all original. The depictions of magic are... the only phrase I can use is "down to earth." Gritty works too, but I used that term already. The storyline is typically European, in that you'd better pay attention. You aren't spoon fed most anything, which I dig, even if I have to see the movie twice. The special affects aren't overblown, but are definitely adequate to depict the story. If you have any interest in action movies, or vampire movies -- definitely see it. Apparently when it came out it was a sensation; but of course passed right under my radar.
Which leads to the pipette comment. [Now that I've retrieved an image off the web, I see that pipet is spelled differently -- I don't like their spelling so I'm holding firm, screw convention].
I was drearily thumping around the house this morning in my robe, having achieved about 3 1/2 - 4 hours of sleep after the disastrous Lipton Experiment (tm). T. and The Wife were, of course, cheerily having tea in the living room, spread out on the floor as is custom. I began talking about the vampire movie from the night before, and was looking for an example of "grittily portrayed" magic -- finally deciding on an opening scene where a witch (depicted as a gregarious old lady in a cluttered apartment) pricks the protagonist's finger with a pen to get some blood, and out of nowhere grabs a pipette and sucks some up. She dumps it into a shot-glass, where it is mixed with liquor and I think lemonade mix to make a potion. This was of course a huge geek moment for us Chemistry students -- as it's well known you do not pipette by mouth in a lab. It was convention back in the day, but you use devices (pictured above) to create suction now for obvious reasons.
Well T. and The Wife dropped the movie description line of conversation immediately and just couldn't get over the whole "do not pipette by mouth" phrase. The Wife immediately started pressuring me to steal a warning sign from the chemistry lab at school, so we could hang it over the toilet in the bath room. "You could do it slyly, just work the sign off the wall a little bit at a time, so that by finals you can just grab and be off with it." T. just kept saying the phrase over and over and laughing, while rolling on his side -- his trademark belly-laugh move. So if you visit our house and there is a big Do Not Pipette By Mouth warning sign over the toilet, you know nothing -- NOTHING I tell you.
And now I head out into the world.
Enjoy your day.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Give me back the breathless, fertile body of my virginity.
Give me back days of ant watching,
and grass chewing.
Give me back little frogs in the back ditch,
the smell of bicycle chain grease,
and scabby, tanned little knees.
Give me back a mind wrought from storytelling,
rock, and bone.
Give me back bear grease,
and river baths.
Give me back the simplicity of the rut,
the sturdiness of hooves,
the warmth of thick fur.
Give me back my place in the net of the world,
and I swear I'll hand over my plastics,
I'll willingly surrender my cynicism,
and my precious restraint.
This video is making the rounds of the study group. It's from a beatbox competition in France. It's worth watching all the way through, he does House music at the end -- it's inhuman. Also, there is a 2/2 of this video as well -- it seems to get better and better the longer he performs.
This performance strikes me as the ultimate geek redemption. You know this kid spent wayyy too much time alone, pursuing his geek art in lieu of girls, an apartment of his own, or a social life.
I blatantly stole this post from Stingite's blog. It was too good to pass up.
Walking with him through the house, I realized that this place is pretty dam cool. Squirt's eyes darted here to there; the purple walls, the Peruvian angel icon paintings, forged iron Minora, and orchids in bloom. He wasn't super into the orchids until I told him that they were deep forest plants, growing on tree branches in steaming jungles in the amazon and such. His eyes got wide and he took new interest.
We walked out back to say hi to The Girls. They were just roosting up. I warned him the inside of the coop may be stinky -- he pinched his nose shut and went right in. The Muppet impressed him the most, which is only right. As we went back into the house, I pointed out the straw bales I use for archery target backstops. His eyes just about bugged out of his head.
"You have bows and awwows?" (he's not so hot on the hard "r" sound just yet)
"Yeah, wanna see?"
His look said -- "do I wanna see... HELL YES I WANNA SEE!"
I showed him the hickory flatbow I made. Showed him some arrows... he fondled them and was lost in his imagination. It was just too cool for words. He was absolutely mesmerized. The reality of it struck him I think. In his world -- full of Pokeman and Superheroes -- all weapons are made of ice or metal and shoot flames or acid or butterflies. The simple woodiness of this bow, its heft and size kind of stunned the little guy. I strung it for him, and he twanged the string -- still lost in some newly-created fantasy world in his head.
Before he left, Squirt decided to run around our house and count all the "gardens." He came up with 16 -- get that, we have 16 gardens at our house, does that rock or what? I kinda tried to explain that a separate part of a big garden is called a "bed" but I could tell it was starting to harsh his buzz -- so I relented. "Yep, 16 gardens, pretty cool eh?"
So there you have it -- our house is full of superhero weaponry, little feathered prehistoric monster beings, and 16 gardens! Who woulda thunk it.
ps: I did a Google search for "Dr. Octagon and Squirt" to get a possible image for the supervillan sidekick, and the first place selection was my own dam blog, the infamous Utopian Bathroom and chemistry study group post. That's kinda... wow.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
School report: Today was mostly about my Injury Avoidance class. We were doing wrist lock maneuvers which, if I were a better blogger, I would have the Japanese name for. What it left us neophytes with after class was arms red with "raspberries." As kids we also called these "Indian burns." Where the hell did that name come from?
A quick lookup in Wikipedia gives this:
A prank done by grasping the victim's forearm firmly in both hands, and then twisting the hands in opposite directions about the victim's arm, causing the tender skin to stretch making it red and sore. Also called a Chinese burn, Indian sunburn, Indian rugburn, or Snakebite.
The Wife has amused herself by putting Sexy Back on her headset and putting it on my head while I was writing this post. She knows I can't resist the Head Bob while that song is on, as poppy and pathetic as it can seem. It bumps well, what can I say. She left just long enough for the Head Bob to start up, came back in and leaned on the office doorframe rolling a cigarette and laughing at me. She's easily amused.
After having hit the sack at a reasonable hour (a first this week)I woke up, bright eyed and bushy-tailed, at 3:00 am. Before I knew it I was downstairs watching movie previews on Netflix. Dammitall, such a waste of a good discipline moment. Due to my movie-watching, I was in a cinematic headspace when I went back to bed. I lay in bed, starting to sleep, when a problem I'd been chewing on for (embarrassingly enough) 12 or so years started to solve itself. The problem of how to turn my experience of being on the road, hoboing, and jumping trains into a storyline. Better yet -- into a screenplay. There WAS something positive about sitting in front of my computer, drooling and half asleep, for an hour and a half in the middle of the night!
I'll lay out the story first, then describe the idea.
A series of events led me, when I was 20 years old or so, to a huge burst of freedom and adventurousness. I had broken an ill-conceived engagement to be married (sweet woman tho she was, I was too young and finally realized it), and was overwhelmed with an urge to get the hell out of here. I decided to Vision Quest (Hanblecheya) in the desert that spring. I also began working off the debt I had accrued from both school and the relationship. I had already met a poet/mountain man type guy named Ross (I have been giving him the pseudonym Russ in my Fire Lookout Blog and this morning decided to just use his real name) who shared my passion to be out of doors and was going to be joining me in the Vision Quest that spring. He would also, it turns out, be joining me on the road 6 months later.
To cut the story short for this post, we did the quest and it was amazing. Beyond amazing actually, completely life-altering. After that, I was planning to throw a futon in the back of my little ' 79 Datsun pickup and go to the South West to see what I could see. When Ross found out about my plans, he said "Well, I'm going to the SW this next winter too -- only I'm going to Mexico first, and I'll be jumping freight trains instead of driving once I'm back in the states." That sealed it -- he and I left town that winter with $400 bucks each and were gone for 6 1/2 months. There were many adventures, of course.
I was mulling over the screenplay idea as I lay in bed. I've never written one, only small (real small) stage pieces. The idea to turn this period of time into a screenplay has been around since right when Ross and I returned to Portland in '92. The first mention was from a Cherokee man we were studying with at the time. He said, after hearing some stories about the trip over lunch, "you guys need to write this journey up as a screenplay. You don't even know what you experienced yet -- writing it down would teach you a lot about your experience." That was the last thing I expected to hear coming out of his mouth -- screenplay? Also, lately The Wife has been mentioning that I aught to get my writing into screenplay format so I can "keep her in a matter to which she is accustomed." Writing this blog has only increased her insistence. So -- between all the movie watching and these thoughts, screenplay writing was on my mind as I tried to get back to sleep.
The realization I had last night was how to start and stop the story for a serviceable writeup/memoir. How to frame the story. It was always a huge conundrum for me, writing from my own life, how the hell do you start? Everything in your life leads to that moment, so how much back-story do you give, and what back-story? This event leads to all the events in my life after it, so where do I stop? What is the cutoff? I've known for a long time I wanted to write this portion of my life up, either as a series of short stories, or a novel or even a screenplay; and this problem was one of my major hurtles.
The solution to my problem of how to frame the story is Ross himself. He was the catalyst for a lot of the action that ensued in this period of time. He deeply affected me through not only introducing me to many authors (Gary Snyder, Barry Lopez, Thomas Merton, and Wendell Berry to name a few), but by being a disciplined and serious writer. He was my original inspiration to take writing seriously. As a character, he is complex and mysterious. Through the course of our traveling together, despite all that happened, I learned very little about him. He lived very close to the chest.
I outlived Ross. He died young in a single-car accident outside Big Bend National Monument in Texas a few years ago, and so remains a mystery. Investigating his personality and our friendship is a perfect entrance and exit to this story. Maybe starting with the funeral and working through flashbacks, maybe something different. However I approach it, using his character to start and stop the time-line works better than anything I've considered before.
I fell asleep very excited by this idea.
Enjoy your day,
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
How materialistic shopping madness happened this day. First -- take the car in, turns out the thing we need fixed we don't need fixed -- boom, saved $250 right off the bat. How must I respond to this revelation so early in the morning? Get off my ass and replace the stolen camera. T. was pleased about this, as he wants to get on archiving this year's garden decisions. With spring spronging, I've seen so many photo ops it's not funny, so this will be a good move. There are some cat dynamics that will just be easier to address with photos as well. Hard to plunk down another 300-some-odd dollars, even though I know some of it was covered by insurance. C'est la Vie.
While I was online, I decided to replace my favorite t-shirt of all time. My original t-shirt is a victim of the Wife's theory of not separating colors in the laundry as long as you wash in cold. (She's pretty and all, but sometimes, GEEZ -- I kid, I kid). I buy the shirt from a Native American source, because the image isn't trademarked and sells so well that everyone and their uncle now prints them.
Update on the ants, almost all gone already -- go genocide.
More later, enjoy your day.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Anyway, Flank has started working as a cook in the Big Pyramid On the Strip in Las Vegas. He says he keeps wondering what kind of effect working in a pyramid might have on him. Will it bring back his hair, cure his insomnia, reduce his aging? So far, a few weeks into it, none of these things. But, he reports that the turnover rate at this hotel is absolutely the lowest of any place he's worked in Lost Wages. People are super mellow, friendly and enjoy working there. He's pretty amazed.
But the big report is that service employees on The Strip are all breathing a huge sigh of relief that Paris Hilton is (or soon will be) in Jail. She hasn't been on the strip for weeks now, and everyone's loving it. He says there is rumor of a collection being made to see if somehow they can bribe someone to keep her in jail longer.
Random I know, but it struck me as funny.
Sunday, May 6, 2007
So, as we do every year -- or I should say as *I* do every year, being the "death and compost" part of the marital team -- ant baits have been procured and set out. The ants have been fully warned, with a full explanation of their choices in life and the consequences of said choices -- given 48 hours to vacate the premises. They didn't of course, probably couldn't hear the warnings over the thunderous crunching of cat kibble. So, we've resorted to genocide.
We use Ant Bait, which for years has worked fabulously. It's simple, very low toxicity, and kinda neat if you think about it. I mean, killing things isn't great but if you have to -- elegant solutions are nice.
The bait is just glycerin and Boric acid. I could fully well mix it up myself, there are recipes all over the internet, but I have yet to come up with as elegant a delivery system as the little bait hotel tray things provided by Terro. Anyway, the glycerin is nice and sweet so the ants lap it up, and the boric acid after a time dehydrates the little buggers. But it takes enough time that they normally get all the way back to the queen to feed it to her before their individual demise, and she gets knocked off as well. Boom... no more ant problem.
T. was making various analogies to Imperialist policies of the past centuries, and maritime law as we stood and watched the ants lap up their last meal. In the end tho, it was his observation that this bait induces a really extreme hangover that stuck. Hangovers are caused by dehydration from having to metabolize alcohol and sugar all night long while you sleep (which takes tons of water), leaving you with a dehydrated brain pan and a horrible headache, among other things. This bait, T. observed, got them high on sugar then dehydrated them as well, it just dehydrated them to death. Nice one.
Had I taken better notes, I would have traced the Imperialist Colonial analogies that were being made but I was too tired and laughing too hard to get it all down. I do know that the Spanish/Portuguese sea powers were mentioned, as well as the American insurrection.
Off to study.
Enjoy your spring, it won't be around long.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Ok this is more of a DVD head's up than a movie review. I realized thinking about my timing with seeing movies, that pretty much all my "movie reviews" will be "DVD release reviews." I just don't tend to go to opening night or sneak peaks of pretty much anything.
So, on the phone with my Dad the other day, my stepmother yelled from the other room to make sure to tell me to see this movie. She said it was the best part she'd ever seen Pierce Brosnan in. After seeing the movie, I have to agree.
This is a movie about a hitman in the end of his years, quickly losing his edge. He befriends Greg Kinnear in Mexico and their lives intermingle. There are some real gem comedic scenes in this movie, and it has a nice overall look and style to it as well. I highly suggest this movie for a light comedy/light action evening in. A little booze helps get you over the bumps, and most folks with any interest in Brosnan whatsoever will be quite pleased.
The bumps: Greg Kinnear plays his stereotypical role -- nervous, loser dad/supporter type. He's a good actor and I'd like to see him do something different. There also is a little too much characterization about how much he and his wife are such a perfect couple -- love each other despite their difficulties in life etc. Seemed like unnecessary film time to me. And there are splashes of hollywoodness, of producer-style cliche in the plot line, especially at the end.
Despite giving as much ink (or pixels) to the down side of the movie as I gave to the up, I highly suggest this movie. We laughed a lot and only had to cringe a little bit towards the end (any more, expecting no cringing whatsoever in a movie seems to be shooting for the stars). This is definitely my favorite Pierce Brosnan role ever. I'd love to hear some feedback from folks who see or have seen this movie, to find out if we just had "one too many" last night or it's as entertaining as we thought it was. B, to B+.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Morning everyone! I'm actually well rested today, its amazing. I feel like Popeye after a can or two of spinach. I've been up til 2, or 3, or 4 every night this week and threw in the towel last night to hang with T. (hadn't seen him in 3 days, and we live in the same dam house) and The Wife. And to sleeeeep, oh beauteous sleeeeep.
Got up early enough to get our garbage to the curb. In my white terrycloth robe and some rubber garden shoes, I was a fashion plate. On my way out, there is Ruth from around the corner waving madly at me. She's in her fuchsia puffy jacket with some nice teal highlights, she has a plastic scarf thingy on to keep the rain off and she's talking away even though I can't hear her yet.
"What was that?"
"It's COLD. I hate the cold! It's May, it's not supposed to be COLD."
She gives a dismissive wave with her hand and marches on down the street. I was half hoping for one of her blue-tongued tirades -- Ruth, at approximately 4' 10" and 70-something years, cusses like a sailor. It's absolutely fantastic. She keeps a beautiful and precise garden just around the corner, on our way to the Max station. When The Wife and I were commuting by light rail we ran into her out in the garden quite a bit. She loved The Wife and corralled her daily, talking plants. I hadn't met her yet at this point, but one day passing her garden she waved me over. She squinted up at me with a face like a dried-apple doll.
"Your wife, is she going to be around soon?"
"Well, she should be by here around 5:30 -- what's up?"
"Oh I just wanted to show her some new plants I got. Where's she work?"
"She runs a law office downtown."
"LAWYERS! God I fucking HATE lawyers. Fucking scum of the earth, lawyers. Ok, well I'll wait til she's off work then. You have a wonderful wife, but the lawyers can go to hell if you ask me!"
It's hard to illustrate how hilarious and shocking the tirade was. I flashed back to the movie The Princess Bride, and the old couple played by Billy Crystal and Carol Kane.
So, back to taking the garbage out. I'm not yet to the curb with my garbage can when yet another old lady comes by and waves and smiles good morning. If you keep a good garden -- or in this case if your roommate keeps a good garden and folks think you do -- the old ladies instantly see you as a compatriot and friend. I didn't know this lady from Adam, I was half awake and not lookin so snazzy, but there she was waving madly and smiling like I was a visiting grandchild. It's awful sweet, and a nice way to wake up.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
I discovered pretty quickly that if I ate anything solid before Aikido class, I was going to get so nauseous that I'd have to sit out. The art involves a whole lot of rolling, especially in the beginning stages of training -- so you can take falls and not get hurt. My inner ear and I have been in constant negotiation during this class. I can only get so many rolls performed in a row before I'm standing against the wall with my head back breathing heavily.
This presents me with a problem, however. I still need nutrients. I tried getting a fresh-squeezed juice drink thingy last class and it worked great. This seems to solve the problem perfectly. I get an apple, lemon, ginger and wheatgrass juice. It tastes fantastico and I don't get all shakey and headachey from low blood sugar before Aikido class. Plus, it makes me kinda high and perky, which is nice.
The weather today has been really dramatic. Spring in the NW is great that way. Headed to school in a cool clear morning, got out of class into a torrential downpour, got my juice and came out of the cafe to prodigious pea-sized hail, walked to the library as the hail abated and turned to strong wind ripping through the park block trees. If the weathermen are to be believed, there might be thunder and lightning some time this afternoon as well -- rocking.
I wanted to mention that I have received some good information from a friend regarding the whole Bee Situation. I will be digesting it down into something (hopefully) pithy and deliver the info in a RBT in the next few days. There are dozens of articles to go through though, so it's taking time. He did a nice summary himself which I just may post if I feel like it's taking too long. He's a writer, he won't mind.
I need to come up with a pseudonym for this guy. He's a real character and I aught to be able to come up with something easily, but for some reason a good nickname is eluding me. I wanted to use Dirk Diggler, but it's not quite right. I mean, it's close, but not close enough. Being in better contact with him is one of the many benefits I've gained from writing this blog.
Finally, I'll leave you with some eye-candy. Here is a website for a local nature photographer named Michael Durham. He does gorgeous work, and I'll be following his blog from now on to see what he's up to.
ps/edit: We got the lightning and thunder! Very cool against the black clouds over campus. And when I arrived home, it looks like the hail was a lot larger on this side of town, almost grape sized. I'd say... oh Gooseberry sized. At least the ones that are smaller than commercial grapes.