Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the little things and the big things

For some reason my thoughts of late have led me to appreciate "things" more than normal. But the "things" aren't always all that related to one another.

The novel Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank has been on my mental reading list since 1994. I'm finally reading it. Oops. The book is set back in the 1950s and revolves around the reality of nuclear war in the United States. It's made me think a lot about not so much what I'd do if my country were to be obliterated by a nuclear weapon but what I'd do if I were forced to "regress" in technology - if, for example, electricity no longer existed. What if transportation was not as simple as turning the starter of an engine and I couldn't just run to the grocery store when I got a craving for ice cream, and water was something I prized as a necessary drink and not as a means of washing, a medium for recreational swimming, or the makings of a relaxing, artistic fountain? And all of this reading and pondering has led me to appreciate two things more than I ever have.

First is the passengers who were aboard United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. I think of how confused and troubled the country was when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were devastated that day, and I can only shudder at the thought of what else would have occurred had Flight 93 reached its destination, presumably the Capitol or the White House. It makes me wonder to myself...if I had the opportunity to stop the destruction of the building and/or persons that represent my country, would I do it? I believe it's a worthy cause. But would I really be brave enough to do something if it were really, truly my life that was going to be what made the difference? In light of Alas, Babylon, I have a deeper appreciation for what "symbols" of a country are worth, and I entirely have a new perspective of and respect for the passengers aboard Flight 93 who did not just accept the inevitable. That's a big thing.

The second is really not worth mentioning in light of the deep, serious paragraph just typed, but it points out that even though "big things" count, so do little things. Like coffee. On the morning of my ponderings about Flight 93, I had made myself a particularly good, smooth mug of coffee. It was a big deal by any stretch of the imagination,, oh man, was it enjoyable! As I go through my mundane, normal life, as I dream about the "big things" that might be done someday, am I taking the time to appreciate all of the little, amazing things that are gracing my life every day? Or am I too focused on waiting for a big thing to happen? I think that if I keep my sights fixed on the big things, I will be altogether insensitive to the little things, and that would be an extreme misfortune.

Speaking of some senses, this guy does not even deserve my recognition, but in case you haven't heard yet about DaVido, he's a New York nightclub singer whose self-proclaimed goal in life ("big thing") is to have an album of his sold at Starbucks. He wrote a song called "The Java Jitter," inspired by a trip to Sbux and a conversation with a hot barista, and tried to solicit it to Starbucks but they rejected it. I suppose we all must have dreams, but this guy cannot take "no" for an answer, so instead he is attempting to win his way in by busting into Starbucks stores, attempting to shoot a video, and sequentially getting tossed out because it's against Starbucks policy to allow recording within its stores. He has now posted a 7-minute "music video" of this experience Perhaps I'm slightly biased because I find DaVido's song and dancers quite distasteful, but I find his methods to be entirely disrespectful, which certainly is not the way to sell one's self to a corporation. If he can't adhere to Starbucks' rules, why in the world would they want to give him a chance to represent them? Call me a Starbucks softie, but I think they're entirely in the right. Establishments are still entitled to the right to ensure a reasonable atmosphere! And recording labels are still entitled to the right to select the music they wish to market! And besides that, I think people should be nice to each other.

So love your country and enjoy your coffee, but don't get disillusioned by either.

Monday, October 29, 2007


It's unfortunate to be cooped up inside doing work in a lab or at a computer when it's the most beautiful season of the year out of doors! The lab where I do most of my lab work has no windows, and the window in the room I do my computer work gives me a great view of a brick wall and more windows. And I suppose that is why when I have "free time" (or...when loyal friends forcibly drag me away from work) I go outside.

The latest adventure came a week ago when I and a couple friends and a bunch of friends-of-friends drove down to West Virginia to stay in a cozy modern cabin and experience Bridge Day 2007. This event allows BASE jumpers (BASE = Building, Antenna, Span, Earth -- i.e. things that are tall) to jump from an 876 foot bridge and (assuming all goes as planned) free fall for several seconds before parachuting down to the bottom of the New River Gorge. It was exciting to watch these men and women jump, flip, and otherwise fall and then pull their chutes and end up safely on land (or...sometimes in the river).

The best part, however, was the trees. It's the middle of autumn, and that means the West Virginia trees are gold, orange, red, and green. I appreciate the green that remains, mostly contributed by conifers. The tree-covered hills turn out looking like an incredibly comfortable quilt to me.It was very refreshing to get out and roam the West Virginia "country roads," although it wasn't quite the same without some John Denver coming out of the speakers.We took the roads to get to a hiking area, where we ended at a beautiful overlook with a view of the bridge the day after Bridge Day.We also took the roads to get to the site where we went rappelling down a 100 foot cliff, that was around the mountain from these cliffs:(Sorry, I was incapable of taking a picture of myself rappelling, and I haven't gotten the pics from my fellow rappellers.)

And then...back inside to work...

Friday, October 12, 2007

it's my...

Not to toot my own horn, but it's my birthday!

And it's also Columbus Day.

For all who are burning to know, I am planning to celebrate by...
  • Accomplishing some immunology and microbiology work at the lab
  • Attending a conference about science down the street
  • Visiting the chiropractor
  • Attempting to go home and sleep as soon as possible
The past several weeks have left me exhausted (and with big back, shoulder, and leg pains...), thanks to massive amounts of lab work, and even though I have a yummy supply of coffee to hold me over, I'm really quite tired. It's gotten to the point where I am really quite incapable of even writing an email that makes any sense. So, all I want for my birthday bed.

This also means that if you happen to call me to wish me happy birthday, please don't do so too late. :-) I will certainly be turning off my phone's ringer as soon as I'm ready to hit the sack.

The large amount of work-related tasks I've been up to explains (or my excuse for...) the lack of writing I've done here. Sorry about that. Here's the summary of the last month: to my favorite city to go on a trip in myself that all of my hard work had earned me a Starbucks pumpkin latte, but it was the grossest thing I've ever got hit by a golf ball as I was sitting in it at a parking't gotten time to swing by the body shop to get an estimate for the with fun and interesting

You're all caught up.

Seriously, it hasn't been that awful - I've also had some really good times with various friends, and I accomplished a bit more of a sock. Woo hoo.

There is a bit more news to share, but I'm too tired to write about it in an engaging manner today. So...I'm going to go finish my coffee and head over to the conference where they will be serving me MORE coffee...hooray!!