Thursday, July 27, 2006


A thunderstorm last Friday seems to have knocked out my internet connection at home. Through process of elimination I am slowly figuring out the source of the problem and hopefully how to fix it. (The ethernet connection on either my computer or my cable modem is fried - I just have to determine which one). I mentioned this to my friend Karl, bemoaning the fact that I can't get online at home.

"Well, let's see," he said. "You only update your blog once a month or so..."

Alright, alright. What can I say? I'm someone who's quite content keeping his thoughts in his head rather than on display for the whole world to see. Right now I'm reading 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck, which uses the fact that all Mayan calendars end with the year 2012 (which means that, you know, the world might end then) as a starting point (as opposed to end point) to consider crop circles, ufo culture, quantum physics, shamans, evolving human consciousness, etc etc. I'm enjoying the book a great deal, but who can I talk to about it? All my friends are committed rational materialist existentialist non-believing skeptics. I, however, don't need to believe in something in order to enjoy playing with it in my head.

I definitely have a Stoner's Consciousness: an interest in ideas for their own sake, particularly the "oh, wow!" effect of contemplating something new. This is as opposed to a Teacher's Consciousness (value ideas because you can share them with others and help them) or that of a Politician (use ideas so you can tell others what to do) or Businessman (use ideas to make money!).

Those who can only see ideas as a resource to exploit annoy me. To wit: the skits on Kanye West's College Dropout album mock those who pursue knowledge for its own sake rather than as a way to get rich. Granted, skits on hip hop records always suck (OutKast and Dr. Octogon being the exceptions) and Kanye is trying to prove (and prove and prove and prove) that his dropping out was the right decision. But his skits are so obnoxious, and just plain wrong, that I had to copy the disc, edit it and burn a copy sans skits if I ever wanted to listen to it again.

Something else that annoys me is boredom, which probably explains my interest in ideas, not matter how outlandish or far-fetched they may seem. So long as I am not bored. Which also explains why I miss have internet access at home.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On Good Authority

Holy Christ, I am so unbelievably bored at work right now that I am seriously considering filing. That's how slow it is. I've read all the internet I can stand, so without anything else to do, I thought I'd share the below with you. Apologies extended to those who have already heard this story.

When I was flying home from Texas recently, our plane hit some powerful turbulence. I've been on bumpy flights before - I remember a flight through a storm in which the sound of thunder played percussive counterpoint to the score of passengers throwing up. But this was different. This was the kind of turbulence you see in movies or tv shows. The plane shook, then dropped about five feet. People screamed, stuff flew off the beverage cart. The plane continued to shake. It's a bit like an earthquake: it's not the unexpected rumble that's unsettling. It's the fact that it doesn't stop.

I was sitting in the window seat of the last row. The rest of the row was taken up by a family: father and son next to me, mother and two daughters across the aisle. When the shaking began, the son made a worried noise and turned to his father, who told him with a calm and matter of fact tone of voice "It's okay. Don't worry. It's okay." He turned to his daughters and said the same thing. Hearing him say this immediately calmed me, too. I thought "Yeah it's scary, but I can deal with it."

I'm not someone who inherently respects or trusts authority. Part of this may come from growing up during the Viet Nam war. Part of it may be my loner nature, and part of it comes from being a recovering cynic and smart-ass. I decided a long time ago that the rules an authority gives you are for their benefit, not your's. Once the shaking stopped, I found it funny that an authority figure saying that everything was okay was what I wanted and needed, even though I knew he was no better informed about our situation than I was. But he was right. His role of "opinion leader" completely changed how I felt about the plane's rocking. It kept me from going into full Jerry Lewis mode.

I was glad he was there. As a "thank you" I gave his kid my Skittles.

Gosh I hope the above posting is grammatically correct! Okay, maybe my recovery from being a smart ass will have to be a one-day-at-a-time proposition.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Enron Founder Ken Lay Dead of Heart Attack

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Enron Corp. founder and chief executive Ken Lay, who was convicted in May for his role in the in the Houston-based company's downfall, died of a heart attack on Wednesday at his vacation home in Colorado.

"Ken Lay passed away early this morning in Aspen," Lay family spokeswoman Kelly Kimberly said in a statement.

Lay, 64, was awaiting sentencing later this year and was expected to face a lengthy prison term for his convictions in the Enron collapse.

Lay and former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling were convicted of fraud and conspiracy for hiding the financial ruin at Enron, which collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2001.

I must not take pleasure in the misfortune of other's.
I must not take pleasure in the misfortune of other's.
I must not take pleasure in the misfortune of other's.
I must not take pleasure in the misfortune of other's.
I must not take pleasure in the misfortune of other's.
I must not take pleasure in the misfortune of other's.

...God, this is killing me.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Everyone Gets A Trophy" Day!

This past weekend I was in Lancaster, PA, as a stopover on my way to a wedding in Baltimore. While in Lancaster, my friends Andrea and Troy took me to an exhibit of work by local artists -- any work submitted was accepted so long as you paid the entry fee. This meant the quality of work displayed varied greatly, tottering between good and bad like a child walking in her mother's high heels. There was also work so "interesting" that it completely transcended notions of "good" or "bad."

In addition to the work itself, the titles the artists chose were an indication of how seriously they wanted to be taken seriously. My favorites are below. I should point out that just because something had a bad title doesn't mean it was bad art, although the odds are pretty good.

All titles are genuine. I am not making any of these up.

1. The Apparatus of Self-Evidant Truths
2. Flash Bulb Girl Daydreams About Her Boyfriend
3. The Sacrifice of Rationality Commodified
4. Angela's Favorite Past Time
5. Walk Towards The Light
6. Hands of War
7. Transcendental Tulip
8. May The Gourd Bless You
9. "Sam Sara," Attached to Illusion and Delusion, He Sees Not The Light
10. Clowns On Parade