BSG vs Star Wars vs ST vs Babylon 5

This is very cool. The comments on youtube are a little geeky for my taste, though.


Marriage Vs Civil Unions

This article popped up on Fark today:

The church had long welcomed members of all sexual orientations—they had even bucked local Lutheran leadership and ordained a lesbian pastor. But McGowan, a straight man, nonetheless saw a subtle form of discrimination. If the church couldn't legally marry gay couples, he argued, it shouldn't marry straight ones either.


Basically, some churches are refusing to perform civil marriage ceremonies for heterosexual couples because they aren't allowed to perform civil marriage ceremonies for homosexual couples. They will still hold the wedding ceremony for either type of couple, but if a couple wants their marriage recognized by the state, then they have to go to the judge or whomever, and get married there, too.

This is a good idea. And it makes sense to reinforce the separation of church and state in this manner.

I support civil unions. Some may argue this is still discriminatory against homosexual couples because it's not the same as an actual marriage -- it's marriage lite.

But the state shouldn't be marrying heterosexuals either. A civil union is a more appropriate realm for state involvement regardless of the genders involved.

A state issued civil union should have all the legal trappings of traditional state recognized marriage:

  • Tax consequences
  • Hospital visitation rights
  • Insurance access
  • Inheritance privileges
  • etc.

A civil union allows two people to choose their own relative for important decisions like this. And people should be allowed to choose their designated partner for these legal issues.

Marriage, however, should be different. If marriage is about two souls coming together as one, or about the embodiment of a loving commitment, or about the sanctification of a relationship, that's great. But it's none of the state's business.

The sanctification and blessing of the relationship has spiritual and religious significance. The elevation or salvation of the soul is the proper role for the church. It is not the proper role for the state.

Religious organizations should have the freedom to define for themselves who they will allow to marry, just as they have the freedom to define their other creeds.

It's time to recognize that civil unions and marriage are two separate things with different meanings.

Civil unions are the proper province of the state. And the state should not restrict who can partner with whom. Many couples who form civil unions will also have an actual church sanctioned wedding and marriage. But many will not.

Marriage is the province of the church. And a chruch marriage should be a different process from a civil union. While the vast majority of people who get married by their church will also form a civil union, it's important to keep the process distinct.

In short, the state shouldn't ban or allow gay marriage. It shouldn't ban or allow heterosexual marriage. The state should allow any two people to form a civil union, and should stay out of the sanctification and blessing business altogether.


Don't tell PETA

Who would have though that bugs getting hit with pies would be so awesome? I found the link at fazed.net.


How old are you?

According to the Real Age website (I found the link on digg.com) my real age is 29.2 (versus my actual age of 36) and my life expectancy is 80.8. The test considers a variety of factors like biology, heredity, and life style choices.

I think the 80.8 is a bit pessimistic for my tastes. Given advances in technology over the coming decades, I'm targeting 150 as a minimum. As for the 29.2 estimate for my real age -- I'm still holding on kicking and screaming to 27.

So, how old are you? Take the test here.


Black Friday Thoughts

From the Seattle PI

The local frenzy began at Alderwood Mall at 12:01 a.m. Friday with an unexpected rush of consumers. Within minutes, the mall was heavily congested and shoppers were bottlenecked, with some customers pushing and shoving.

"I think this is the dumbest idea they have ever had," said a frustrated Matt Carter of Snohomish. "This is not an environment for young kids. All it takes is for one person to fall down and you would get trampled."

Shannon Schwartz of Stanwood, a friend of Carter's, said the mall was so packed they couldn't even shop. Other shoppers complained that anchor tenants weren't open until hours after the mall began its sale, and that some stores didn't have enough clerks.


Black Friday got off to an insane start in Seattle. But it wasn't always like this.

The Who-Concert-like crowds choking the malls today weren't there 10-12 years ago.

I spent three Christmas seasons as a retail salesperson in the mid-nineties, and while working retail taught me to loathe the Christmas season (I'm pretty much recovered now), I always enjoyed Black Friday.

There were a few stores that opened at 5:00 AM or 6:00 AM, but most stayed closed until 9:00. There were doorbuster sales, but not quite the stampede inducing levels we've come to expect now.

What we had was busy day. Customers at my stores were generally excited, and not universally rotten. There was an incredible energy in the air, and I prided my self on helping as many customers, and racking up as much in sales, as I could during that day.

The whole day became a challenge to have the biggest sales day in the store's history. At one consumer electronics store I worked at, the store normally did $30,000 to $60,000 a day in sales. On Black Friday, we would do $100,000 to $125,000. Breaking into that 6-figure area was a challenge I was happy to be a part of.

The 8 hour shift flew by. Non-stop business and multitasking sapped my entire adrenalin supply for the week. At the end of my shift, I was tired, but knew I helped more customers than I would on most any other day. I knew I was part of the record-setting performance the store set. And I knew I helped some people have a better Christmas season by providing the best, most efficient customer service I could.

The rest of the season would erode the positive feeling of the day, and by early January, I would be anxiously waiting the end of the season and a return to normal.

But for that one day of the season, retail was the place to be.

Thanksgiving and Wine

2007-11-22 Thanksgiving Dinner

My GF cooked a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner this year. I helped out, of course, by
  1. Growing the herbs
  2. Lifting the turkey when instructed
  3. Staying out of the way

The wine on the table is a Maryhill Viognier from Washington's Columbia River Valley. It was pleasant, somewhat fruity, and a good fit for dinner.

This is not the first year I had wine with dinner.

Many years ago, when I was probably about 11, I finished my apple cider and asked for another glass. Since the table was already filled with dishes, food, candles, and what not, we kept all the beverages on the floor next to my father's chair. He refilled my glass, handed it back to me, and I took a nice big swig. I had no idea what had happened to my cider, but the look on my face told everyone else at the table that my father had apparently grabbed the wrong bottle and accidentally fill my glass with wine.

Lacking a sophisticated palette back then, I opted not to polish off that glass of white wine.

Now, had it been a nice Pinot...


Who should I vote for?

According to this internet quiz, my thoughts on the issues most closely align with Mike Gravel.

Your Top Match:
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (D)
72.37% match

Your other Top Matches:
Texas Representative Ron Paul (R) - 65.79%
Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (D) - 57.89%
Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) - 53.95%

So apparently, the three candidates that match my views closest have no chance of getting a nomination. And most people have either never heard of them, or consider them crackpots.

This is the problem with being a radical moderate. My views (what I consider the "sensible" approach to the issues) really don't get reflected in a candidate.

Growing up, I was New York Republican, which put me slightly to the left of most mainstream Democrats.

Over the years, though, I came to realize that while my political philosophy put me in the middle of the spectrum on average, it wasn't because I came down in the middle on most issues. It was because I embraced different ends of the political spectrum, depending on the issues. And with widely diverging views in what I hope is a coherent political philosophy, I can't wholly embrace either party's platform.

I'll have to see how Mike Gravel does it.

You can take the quiz here.

FWIW the blog hosting the quiz is a military focused blog called VAJoe.com

I learned about the quiz through Dara's blah blah blog.

"Celebrities" to appear on The Apprentice

After last season, Donald Trump announced the new season of the Apprentice will feature celebrities, instead of unknown entrepreneurs.

"This will be the most exciting season of 'The Apprentice' yet - maybe even better than Season One. Our fourteen celebrity contestants are incredible individually, and as a group they will make 'The Celebrity Apprentice' one of the hottest shows on television. I promise you a fantastic new season!" Said Donald J. Trump, executive producer of ' The Celebrity Apprentice.'

... More

Who are they? Well, it looks like a bunch of people who need the work:

The full contestant lineup:
Trace Adkins (country music singer)
• Carol Alt (model/actress)
• Stephen Baldwin (actor, The Usual Suspects)
• Nadia Comaneci (Olympic gold-medal gymnast)
• Tiffany Fallon (2005 Playboy Playmate of the Year)
• Jennie Finch (Olympic gold-medal softball player)
• Nely Galan (producer, Telemundo)
• Marilu Henner (actress, Taxi)
• Lennox Lewis (former heavyweight champion)
• Piers Morgan (judge, America's Got Talent)
• Omarosa (Apprentice Season 1 contestant)
• Tito Ortiz (UFC champion)
• Vincent Pastore (actor, The Sopranos)
• Gene Simmons (KISS frontman)

The list appears in an article on StarPulse.com

Marilu Henner must not have done well with her Taxi residuals.


A Wall of Books Part 05: Amazon Kindle

Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle.


Amazon.com just announced their new e-Book reader, the Kindle.

It's an intriguing product, that has me torn. The "War on Paper" side of me thinks it's about time we saw a compelling e-Book solution. The "Book Whore" side of me can't imagine giving up my precious tomes.

The Kindle website had plenty of detail and comments from authors extolling the virtues of the Kindle. It's and impressive site.

The prouduct does some interesting thing. It uses digital paper which has a completely different look than a laptop or PDA screen. I've seen these displays on the Sony e-Book reader and it is impressive technology. It's designed to be as clear as paper even in full sun.

The Kindle also includes built-in Sprint EVDO that you don't pay for. It's used to buy e-Books from Amazon, or to download subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, or blogs. There is not monthly or one time charge for the online service. Presumably, Sprint get a piece of the sale when you buy something from Amazon, or subscribe to a magazine or blog through the Kindle. The benefit here, though, is that you can get a new book in a couple minutes anytime you happen to be on the Sprint network.

You can also annotate content on your Kindle, and apparently access those annotations on your PC. I like the idea of this feature a lot. When I read books and review them for this blog, I mark passages while I read, then I have to transcribe them into a word processor, then trim them down, and finally incorporate them into my content. The Kindle could make this easier.

But I like holding my books. And I like seeing them on the shelf. And I like the look of the covers and the feel in my hands. At the same time, if I could have a simple, light weight, and small device in my bag, that would simplify things, too.

So I'm torn on the question of using it for books.

Magazines, however, have a much stronger appeal. When I finish reading a magazine, I throw it out. I already read several magazines on my Tablet PC, so switching to the Kindle would be easy.

The problem with magazines, though, is that the Kindle doesn't do color. The smaller screen is great for text, but graphics intensive magazines like Wired wouldn't translate well onto the Kindle screen. For more text focused magazines, like the Atlantic Monthly, it would be a great choice.

It also supports newspaper subscriptions. If I regularly read a news paper front to back, this would be a great option. It will also automatically download subscriptions as soon as the issues come out. If I had a subway or train commute, this would be a great feature.

The biggest problem, though, may be the price point. It's $400. That's a bit much for my taste right now, especially since I would have to buy content for it, too, and it still wouldn't stop me from buying books.

I would be interested if Amazon combined this with a book purchase. For example, if when you purchased the paper based book you had the option of buy the electronic version as well, for just a dollar or two more. Then it's more compelling.

For now, though, I would find it most useful for my transitory reading. And I don't do enough of that to justify the cost.

Beyond my use, though, I do see tremendous potential for success.

The college text book market has struggled with electronic content for years. They don't want to offer all their books in electronic format because students could put it on multiple PCs. So they continue to charge outlandish prices for text books student might only need for a few months.

A product like the Kindle makes electronic text books simpler to implement. Instead of selling a CD student might copy onto multiple PCs, or offering a file on line that might be copied several times, students can purchase the book through Amazon and it will be available only to their Kindle. It would still be backed up on Amazon's servers, but this might be the way to address text book companies' concerns about piracy. If you can't get the book out of that Kindle, it's easier to make sure each student buys their own.

School text books will ultimately drive the adoption of e-Book technology. The launch of the Kindle may not be the event that does it, though. I've been predicting a lawsuit for a while though, that may boost the e-Book industry.

Kids in grade school and high school are carrying heavy loads. It's not uncommon for kids to have 20-40 pound of books on their backs. That may not be a big deal to an adult, but some of these kids may only weigh 50-100 pounds. Those text books represent a significant percentage of a kid's body weight. Someone will get injured and sue the schools and text book makers. Similar suits will pop up, possibly reaching class action status.

And the e-Book, in whatever flavor it's in at that point, will be the solution.

I applaud Amazon for the Kindle. It's a great step forward. I'm just not sure it's the step I want to take yet.


This is very cool.

Someone just turned their home theater into the bridge of NCC 1701D:

Link found on Fark.com

For more pictures, click here.


Super Mario Galaxy ...

... has been getting universally, gushingly, positive reviews.

And, yeah. It's that good.

Now I'm just waiting for them to release the soundtrack.


Roaches and Metropolis

On Thursday, KUOW aired an NPR story about robotic roaches. Scientists built a fake roaches and introduced them to actual roach communities, to see if they could alter the roaches natural behavior.

"I think it's a really fascinating idea to integrate robots within animal groups. In actual fact, I really feel that this is the future of doing this kind of research," said Iain Couzin, a researcher at Princeton University who studies how large-scale biological patterns can emerge from individuals' actions.

They were able to influence the behavior of the entire roach community by altering the behaviour of the robots.

The story reminded me of the 1927 Fritz Lang movie, Metropolis.

In this film, commonly described as the first robot science fiction movie, society is divided between the working class and the upper class. The workers operate the machines below ground that drive the entire society. They pray with a priestess.

A mad scientist who has a vendetta against the person who owns the machines, extracts his revenge. He creates an android that looks exactly like the priestess. He kidnaps the priestess and replaces her with his own creation.

Instead of promoting peace and love, the android advocates the violent overthrow of the society, and calls on the working class to rise up, throw off their chains, and smash the equipment.

The workers, like the roaches in the study, do just that, even though it destroys their society. Their homes are flooded; their children are nearly killed.

The film is a fascinating story about coopting the influencers of public opinion for nefarious purposes.


Ents in Indonesia

In recent months, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the HPV vaccine. Many medical organizations and states/local governments recommend that young girls (I believe 12 and up) get the vaccine to protect against this STD regardless of whether they are sexually active or not.

Don't click the link yet.

Here is a good reason for the vaccine. An Indonesian fisherman injured himself as a teenager and picked up an HPV infection. Sure, this is apparently a different strain that was transited when the victim cut his knee, but it is still HPV. The HPV infection interacted with his unique genetic flaws and is turning him into a tree.

Bizarre warts that look like roots and branches are growing from his skin.

The video and pictures at the site may be disturbing if you are sensitive to that sort of thing. Consider your self warned.

The good news is this may be treatable.

I originally found the link on fazed.net, and I really hope it's a fake. Unfortunately, it seems all too real.

Regardless of how HPV is transmitted, if the vaccine will stop this sort of thing from happening, it's probably worth it


Shater-Palooza: Age-Me

Don't watch this too late at night. It may give you weird dreams.

Shatner is endorsing a site called age-me.com. I don't know why.

Congratulations, Bill. You've taken creepy to a new level. It's awesome.


Private space stations today

Did you know there were already private space station prototypes in orbit? I had no idea.

What has long be the province of governments is now in the hands of private enterprise. In this article, Wired Magazine tells the story of Robert Bigelow, founder of the Budget Suites hotel chain.

He's a billionaire and, he's nuts. He's obsessive about privacy and security. He's funding his own quests to identify UFOs and potentially real extraterrestrials.

And he is building a space station. The prototypes are currently orbiting the planet.

It's easy to snicker at the James Bond theatrics at the headquarters of Bigelow's eight-year-old company, Bigelow Aerospace. It's even easier when you find out he's trying to build his very own space station. An inflatable space station, to be precise — a massive bouncy castle meant to expand when it gets into orbit. It will be the first privately owned destination in space, and Bigelow proposes to rent it out as an orbital research lab, a training facility, or even a tourist hotel. Sure, have a chuckle. But here's the thing: He's actually doing it.

In the past 16 months, BA has successfully shot two Hummer-sized prototypes of the station into orbit. Dubbed Genesis I and II, they're circling the globe as you read this. The last one went up in June, blasting out of Earth's atmosphere on the back of a modified Soviet-era SS-18 missile. It was launched from a space complex in central Russia, ISC Kosmotras, the rocket-for-hire venture run by Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

It's a fascinating story. I wondered how someone get to the point where they start with little money, become a billionaire, decide to build a space station, and then actually build it.

As it turns out, he's from Vegas.


Copyrighting a skyline?

The Marina Towers are those two iconic round building on Chicago's riverfront. The Marina Towers Condominium Association apparently thinks copyright law means no one can sell a picture of its building without the association's consent.

This author, a photographer, explains how it is very wrong.

There are also links on the page to updates and legal responses concerning the issue.

While these initiatives are unlikely to be held up in court, they are frightening. The ability to take pictures in public, of things and people in public, is vital to the protection of our civil liberties.

While pictures of these two buildings may not matter much, the principle does.


NASA Picture of the Day

Every day, NASA posts a different astronomy picture. You can find each day's picture here.

They even offer an RSS Feed.


Hotel Bedding

Hotels have been replacing much of their bedding in recent years. In addition to getting rid of those nasty comforters that have never been washed (don't think about it too hard), they are bringing in new sheets, pillows, and blankets.

I don't know a lot about fancy bedding. I never heard of pillow shams until about 5 years ago.

So can someone tell me what this pillow is for?

The cover isn't easily washable, and it's too hard to sleep on. And it's too rigid to be useful in a pillow fight. All I've come up with is that maybe it supposed to protect a small area of the carpet where I toss it each night.

Bedtime shouldn't be so confusing.

2007-11-07 Tube Pillow (1)

2007-11-07 Tube Pillow


20 Things You Didn't Know About Living In Space

Discovery Magazine on line has a regular feature called 20 Things You Didn't Know About...

Here is the 20 Things You Didn't Know About Living In Space. Well, LDK probably know them...

This is my favorite:

But some long-duration cosmonauts report that the hardest thing to readjust to about life on Earth is that when you let go of objects, they fall.


Suicide Bombers in Video Games

Clive Thompson wrote an interesting piece for Wired.

He discusses how he gained some understanding of real world suicide bombers by resorting to similar tactics in video games.

Obviously the stakes are quite different, but his point is that when options are limited, people will make desperate choices.

The person who is most dangerous is often the person who had nothing to lose.

So after a few weeks of this ritual humiliation, I got sick of it. And I devised a simple technique for revenge.

Whenever I find myself under attack by a wildly superior player, I stop trying to duck and avoid their fire. Instead, I turn around and run straight at them. I know that by doing so, I'm only making it easier for them to shoot me -- and thus I'm marching straight into the jaws of death. Indeed, I can usually see my health meter rapidly shrinking to zero.

But at the last second, before I die, I'll whip out a sticky plasma grenade -- and throw it at them. Because I've run up so close, I almost always hit my opponent successfully. I'll die -- but he'll die too, a few seconds later when the grenade goes off. (When you pull off the trick, the game pops up a little dialog box noting that you killed someone "from beyond the grave.")

It was after pulling this maneuver a couple of dozen times that it suddenly hit me: I had, quite unconsciously, adopted the tactics of a suicide bomber -- or a kamikaze pilot.

It's not just that I'm willing to sacrifice my life to kill someone else. It's that I'm exploiting the psychology of asymmetrical warfare.


Book Review 14: A Great Character Study

In my experience when a person doesn't know what to do with himself, he will check his email. So with a blank and troubled mind I strolled into the office of the pension, and stood in line waiting for the one super-slow email connection.
Page 192

Benjamin Kunkel is a skilled writer. "Indecision" is filled with funny and brilliant observations. The book is fast paced and engaging. While it has a nice plot that Kunkel fleshes out well, the plot is not the main point of the book. It's really a study of the main character and his family.

Helping out with the character study is the fact that the characters are interesting. I enjoyed learning about them, and I enjoyed reading "Indecision."

And 80% of the book is great. Unfortunately, the end of the book doesn't live up to the long journey it takes to get there. Kind of like the shaggy dog story.

Dwight is an aimless 20-something who gets fired from a low level tech support position. His friends' lives are moving on as they grow up; his quasi-girlfriend is a currency trader, and his sister is a college professor and practicing socialist. His mother is an acetic Episcopalian and his father is recovering from a bankruptcy.

And Dwight has no idea what he wants to do. So he reads German philosophy, contemplates the nature of life around him, and considers moving to Vermont.

I was looking again at the words, with one eye open and the other shut since I'd taken out my contacts and otherwise couldn't focus on the lines. "Procrastination is our substitute for immorality," went the first half of the sentence I was rereading; "we behave as if we have no shortage of time." I read that book at maybe two pages an hour.

Page 18

Everything changes when his roommate offers him an experimental pill designed to cure abulia – a chronic inability to make decisions.

Dwight takes the pill and before it has a chance to take effect, he decides by the flip of a coin, to visit and old friend from High School. In Ecuador. Dwight met Natasha in high school where she was a foreign exchange student from the Netherlands. They became fast friends.

Al interrupted me: "What honestly is the deal, Dwight, between you and foreign women?"…"Um, when they're foreign…"

"Yes, Dwight?"

"…then it makes more sense that they're foreign."

Page 5

The rest of the book follows Dwight through the Ecuadorian jungle as he gets used to the idea of the drug kicking in soon. The book switches back and forth between Dwight's travels with his Ecuador companions and flashbacks to his life in New York.

Kunckel throws a lot of stuff at the reader, yet it is still easy to follow. The flashback technique is one that becomes annoying in many books, but not with "Indecision." The flashbacks appear at relevant portions of the Ecuador story, and build on what we are learning about Dwight and his family.

As the book draws to a close, Dwight comes to his big epiphany and tries to build his life around it.

But I don't buy it.

This is my main problem with the book. Dwight's big personal growth spurt and change in the last 40 pages or so of the book seems artificial. There's nothing organic about it. And, while big personal revelations may sometimes represent a quantum shift in a person's thinking, those changes should still have some strong connection to the character. Here, they don't. They're shallow, which is in stark contrast to the depth we've already seen in Dwight's character.

Dwight's change of thought, and the way he decides to approach life just aren't the natural outgrowth of the narrative. The new Dwight seems forced.

While the ending of the book is disappointing, I still recommend it. The writing and storytelling make for a fantastic journey. The character sketch is deep and (mostly) genuine. If you like good writing, witty observations, paragraphs that pop, and a great character study, you'll enjoy "Indecision."

Here are some of my favorite lines:

When Dwight arrives in Ecuardor:

The woman and I were still laughing when Natasha arrived. "Look! Already fast friends!" She sounded more Dutch than I'd expected, or remembered. She was still Natasha, but it's true, a little different. She looked weird, anxious – kind of like how I felt. Then she flashed the famous smile. "You see, Brigit, Dwight is like I told you. Right away he belongs to everybody."

Page 11

On dating:

In any case it often seemed at night that I would make a better dog owner than boyfriend. It wasn't apparent to me how best to treat Vaneetha, each woman being so different. Whereas every dog, in spite of the really incredible variety of the species, required more or less the same regimen of food and water, walks and affectionate pats on the head. However in the city it actually exacted a lot less responsibility to have a girlfriend than a dog. And I really wanted one or the other, since like any person, or dog, I too craved affection. Hmn.

Page 16

On phone calls:

At least at night the phone didn't ring. My feeling was, the soul is startled by the telephone and never at ease in its presence. Often on a midtown street someone's cell would ring and half a dozen people would check their pockets to see if it was them being called, and I'd glimpse a flash of panic in one or another guy's eyes. Myself, I kind of felt like I needed my news delivered by hand – to look out the window as some courier appeared in the field, coming from a distance so my feelings had time to discover themselves.

Page 18

On first meeting Vaneetha:

Walking back down Forty-second I felt extremely pleased to have invested my life with a certain short-term narrative interest.

Page 25

On his roommate Dan:

He pulled his knees to his chest. The lecture was over. At one time Dan had been a chem major and played bass in a bright droney band called Haiku d'├ętat. But what had he decided to live for, for now? His heavy-lidded and darkly bright eyes struck me as not dissimilar from sunglasses. He was wearing the green pajamas, same color as hospital scrubs, that he usually wore at night. He was the most catlike person of my acquaintance – efficient, aloof, compact.

Page 35

On happiness:

The regular alliance of happiness with idiocy has always been for me as a happy person one of the world's more painful features.

Page 37

On favoring the underdog:

Relations were less warm with dad, who mom and Al blamed in the divorce. My own sympathies were more with him, if only because in deserving them less, he obviously needed them more.

Page 48

On losing his job:

"Um, yes. I was just now fired. From Pfizer. Wow. Pfired! So I'm phucked!" But the p was silent so no one laughed but me.

Page 68

On the nature of pharmaceuticals:

"Ten years," dad was saying," and people won't be so suspicious of drugs. Sure, the Arabs might be. But we're chemistry. That's what we are. We just have to wait for this realization to trickle all the way down. Food, exercise, sexual intercourse, warmth – all these thing function like drugs. They modify your mood and perspective. That's how it's always been. Mark my words, this distinction between natural and artificial, when this is your brain but when this is your brain but then it's your brain on drugs – that will frankly come to be seen as so much twentieth century superstition. It's a last hangover from the – don't tell Charlie I said this – but from the old religious concept of the 'soul.'"

Page 79

This particular one is a battle I often fight. On Indecision itself:

I experienced a flashback to a childhood Thanksgiving. Probably dad did too. I'd love cranberry sauce, the savory stuffing, and turkey itself with such equality of love that after a gabbled grace I'd been unable to begin eating, and the more ludicrous the spell of indecision became, the harder break. I'd been salivating and paralyzed in front of my plate, plunged in what later came to be known as the Zone, unitl finally dad raised his fork at me saying "Eat! Eat! Dammit, eat!" So I'd shut my eyes, loaded my fork with mystery, and raised it toward the cave of my mouth. The tart surprise of the cranberries I could remember still.

Page 83

On Belgium and Germany:

At the same moment that in spite of her somewhat dusky appearance I asked Brigid whether she might be German, she said, "So are you are a philosopher?"

I laughed and said no, and she frowned and said, "How could you think so? Mostly I am from Belgium."

"Belgium!" When you have the good fortune of meeting a nice Belgian girl it really becomes necessary to confront her as a complex and unique being unlike any other in the world, because at least in my case you have no national stereotypes to understand her by. Or was Belgium sort of like Canada to America's France, so that an indefinable air of comedy clung to its existence and its residents were noted mainly as bland and amendable drinkers of veer? "Sorry. I'm not an ace with accents."

"But do you like Germans?"

"Well, you know, their philosophers more than for example…the Nazis."

Page 105

On athletics:

It had been a late summer Saturday, and we'd rented these sea kayaks like we'd been saying we would do all summer. "I like preserving our self-image as athletic people," Alice has said as she fitted the nylon skirt around the sill and took her plastic paddle in hand. "How infrequently do you think we can do sports before we have to admit that we never do?"

Page 132

On exotic food:

We ate our lunch in silence, and for me at least the fun of eating beetle larvae had gone out along with the novelty. In fact I felt earlier I'd mistaken novelty for fun.

Page 175

On goals:

I'm trying to complete the book by tomorrow, dawn of the summer solstice – up in the North the year's shortest day – since without arbitrary goals, fervently chosen, I don't know what I'd do with myself.

Page 235


Target and the Holidays

Tonight is 2007-11-02.

I went shopping at Target today. And I saw this:

2007-11-02 Target Tukwilla Christmas Decorations

I think I missed a month or two somewhere along the line.


CSI Procedure

Why is it that whenever the CSIs on any of the three shows start investigating a crime scene, they pull out their flash lights to looking around in the dark?

Why don't they ever just turn on the lights?