Archive for February, 2009

The wildest factory ever

This is a picture of one of the weirdest factories I’ve ever seen. We saw it from the car as we were driving in Israel, and it looks like the future, or maybe a pair of alien spaceships. It took me a while to parse it as an industrial plant, from this distance at least.

I apologize for the quality of the image–it was taken at maximum zoom from a moving car on a smoggy day with power lines in the foreground. But it looks too bizarre not to share. Yes, the picture is most of a year old by now, but I suddenly recalled it and wanted to share it.

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Dancing king

I’m surprised by how much I’m looking forward to swing class tomorrow. I think I’m not too bad at swing, and I’m getting better even without lessons, and I’m eager to learn more. Tomorrow we’ll learn Lindy Hop (I kind of know the basic step, but not well), and I’ll bring my new suede-soled dance shoes, so I’ll be spinning around with ease. It’ll be fun!

By the end of the semester, I aim to be quite good. I really like the idea of being a capable, confident dancer. Those skills won’t carry over into any other aspect of my life, but it’ll be nice to go out and dance. And I find that the more confident I feel about my dancing skill, the more fun I have doing it, so things will only get better.

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I am become Cheese, destroyer of health

I have beheld the power of cheese, and I found myself transfixed by its monstrosity. Our ancestors who first began to culture cheese knew not what they wrought, and their creation has far outlived them. Unknowingly, they brought forth a force greater than man was ever meant to possess. Indeed, one wonders whether he truly possess it, or if instead it possesses him.

It is thus with a heavy heart that I call for interculinary disarmament. Let us all set aside our cheeses, together. I urge the UN to set up a special Cheese Inspection Task Force to help ensure that all equipment for its manufacture are truly destroyed and not merely hidden. Oh, surely some poor misguided people will attempt to continue producing cheeses in secret, but at least we can attempt to reduce the risk of cheese contaminating the great melting pot that is our world.

I would like to leave you with one last idea to ponder: if power corrupts, does not the Power of Cheese corrupt cheesily?

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25*2 things

Everyone’s doing this 25 things meme, where you write 25 random things about yourself. I don’t really hold with memes, but I felt like writing this anyway. Here’s my version, and I won’t tag anyone else to do it.

25 Shames 25 Glories
1 I am ashamed. I hide my faults, especially from my parents. Hence this list, which may make me a better person by exposing my flaws. I am forthright. I say what I mean.
2 I am vain. I lift weights, am as muscular as I’ve ever been, and think I look good. My online dating profile has a picture of me shirtless at the beach. I am transparent. People can see through me and understand me easily.
3 I am self-centered. Every conversation ends up being about myself an astonishing fraction of the time. When I do talk about something other than me, I mostly ask for explanations of interesting things I don’t understand, not about the other person. For instance, when Kate was in Europe and people asked me how she liked it, I was forced to admit I didn’t really know–I hadn’t asked her. I am clever. Grad school at Berkeley, anyone?
4 I am lazy. I have a hard time staying focused on my work, and I regularly get less than 8 hours a day of work in. I want to work harder, but I so enjoy distractions. When I run, even a public race (see my last post), I will stop to walk when I feel tired. I am wise. I give good, insightful advice, to Kate at least.
5 I am foolish. I am always surprised to find people don’t mean what they say. For example: “I’m too busy for dating right now.” I am deft. I can learn new physical skills, such as dance, fairly easily.
6 I am easily offended. A woman turned and hurried away at a dance when our eyes met because she was afraid I’d ask her to dance, and it burned me deeply. I am thoughtful. I worry about others besides myself.
7 I am hypocritical. I have made glancing eye contact at dances in exactly the same way because I didn’t want to ask the person to dance again, at least not so soon. I am giving. I am willing to sacrifice my own cares for those of others.
8 I am selfish. I have received far more help from my friends than I have ever given. I can fly. Well, glide anyway.
9 I am competitive. I play to win and cannot forgive myself when I lose. I can cook. I can even can jams!
10 I am a quitter. When I can’t win, or am merely unlikely to win, I am prone to quit. Why play if I can’t win? I can make music, with rather impressive skill, if I do say so myself.
11 I am whiny. When I’m losing, everyone knows. If you’ve played a board game with me, you know what I mean. I am confident, at least when the mood strikes me.
12 I am unforgiving. I remember my embarrassments, even from childhood. During arguments, I would bring up all of Kate’s faults, even though they were unrelated to the current argument. I am fit. I can run for miles at a good pace.
13 I am moody. Sometimes, I am happy, and only the other list applies. Sometimes, I am not, and this list is all that comes to mind. I am strong. I am as muscular as I’ve ever been, thanks to my own hard work.
14 I am clumsy. I cannot master the style of dance, nor can I reliably catch or throw a frisbee. I am charming. I tell good stories and make people laugh, at least when the mood strikes me.
15 I have a poor memory. Seriously, a disappointing fraction of my life is lost to me. I am respected. People know me to be honest and fair, clever and entertaining. Well, some of them do.
16 I am self-conscious. I can’t dance because I know I’m being watched and judged. I am reasonable. Really, that’s my best quality; I will not do anything major that is abrupt or thoughtless.
17 I am judgmental. I believe that people can and should be judged by their actions. I am well-rounded. I don’t generally respect that ideal, but I have read literature, made music, appreciated art.
18 I am weak-willed. I do things I should not, and neglect what I ought do. For instance, my home is messy, I forget thank-you notes, and I fail to assert myself when I ought. See also: I am lazy. I am learned. I am nearly an expert in my own little niche within my field, and I am knowledgeable within my field in general.
19 I am heartless. I worry more about my own troubles than I do about my mother’s life-and-death struggle with cancer. I am caring. My guinea pigs have lived pleasant lives, and I cared for them well when they were sick. Well, except for the fact that I put Louis to sleep when he was too expensive. But everyone has to make that judgment somewhere.
20 I am dependent. One of the main reasons I am so impatient about finding a mate is that I don’t even know what I want with my life when I’m alone. I need people to reassure me. This list is in part written because I have no one to complain to. I am clean. Not tidy, mind you, but I do try to keep my home from being *dirty*.
21 I am selfish. I know that I should do volunteer work, yet I do not. I am (appropriately) bold. I have done many exciting things–flight, camping in a foreign country, even talking to women.
22 I am callous. I planned my guinea pigs’ lifespans, and I’m secretly disappointed that I still have to take care of Chester. I am (appropriately) cautious. When flying, I do not take risks. When upon heights, I do not wander near the edge.
23 I am weak. I quit running, or any other exercise, as soon as I feel stressed or sore. I am a quick learner. I pick up new concepts pleasantly quickly.
24 I am bitter. I look at the lives of others and think how much better off they are than I am. I persist in believing that women can more easily find mates, that the rich do not deserve their wealth, and that I deserve better than the near-constant rejection I find. I am self-controlled. Even when intoxicated, I do not lose control of myself.
25 I am useless, most damning of all. I have done precious little in my graduate career. Two mediocre papers, plus a little ongoing research, and I’m hoping to graduate. Pathetic. I am adventurous. I try new things, new activities, talk to new people.

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Failings, human and otherwise

Two recent failings:

  1. I ran the 5k on Sunday doing better than 8-minute miles, as I’d hoped. Unfortunately, I was also lazy enough to walk for part of it. I can make excuses of several sorts, but basically I just didn’t push hard enough. I’ll have to see if I can fix that–for starters, by stopping the walk at the top of the hill on my daily run.
  2. I bought fancy dance shoes. I’m ashamed to say how much I spent on them, but they’re the most comfortable dress shoes I’ve ever felt, and they’ll have suede on the soles. It’ll be nice to have them, I suppose, but I may be the only one in the class who has them. Even some of the teachers don’t wear the fancy dancing shoes. Now I feel kind of foolish for splurging like that.

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