Sunday, December 31, 2006

Moss/Howard Trip to the Mountain


I will write about it later, but here are some photos from our trip to Mt Baker to do some Nordic skiing yesterday.

I promise I will write about it later!

Machines at Rest

"Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions, without occupation, without diversion, without effort. Then he feels his nullity, loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, emptiness."

- Blaise Pascal

And not just humans. Have you ever left your computer unused for too long? We all know how people believe in the "use it or lose it" theory; a car, for example, will eventually stop working if left in your front yard for a few months. Apparently, computers will take matters into their own hands and let us know of their displeasure. How does YOUR computer let you know? Blue screen of death? Freeze-up?

My computer is a philosopher.

When at rest for too long, this computer reminds me that without stimulations, without diversion, without effort it will start to ponder its existence. My computer decided to break some existentialism off on me "Windows" style, as seen above in the colorful error message. Which led me to think (dont worry, only briefly think) that maybe I am not giving my computer enough credit for its sensitivity.

If left at rest for too long, will my beloved machine start unloading suicide threats into my printouts? I can only imagine what sort of dependencies my computer might have in its future. Which could lead me to a whole new entry.

A required resource was. What it was, thats not important.

Friday, December 29, 2006


As a graduate student, I find it best not to ask questions that begin like "What if..." and end like, well, anything...

I was just marinating the idea that perhaps I ought to put a time limit on graduation, PhD in hand or not. Perhaps I should make a deal, a very official deal(usually made official by shot-gunning a Coors Light with Doc Bucket), that after 5 years if I am not convinced that graduation is DEFINITE by the next 6 months, well, thats it. Enough. Finito.

Bark bark, little dog. Bark bark. Its nice to sound tough occasionally.

Alysa at school might scold me by calling me a scurvy sea-dog, and tell me to walk the plank.

You know, what would that entry look like if written in Jive? Here it is, and I am not responsible for the translation of some english into potentially offensive language. This is jive as found on Gizoogle.

"As a graduate student, I find it bizzy not ta ask questions thizzay begin like "What if..." n end like, wizzay anyth'n...

I was jiznust ballin' tha idea thiznat perhaps I ought ta put a time limit on graduation, PhD in hand or not . You gotta check dis shit out yo. Perhaps I should makes a deal, a vizzle official deal(usually made official by shot-gunn'n a Coors Light wit Doc Bucket), that afta 5 years if I am not convinced tizzy graduation is DEFINITE by tha niznext 6 months, wizzay thats it . I thought i told ya, nigga I'm a soldier. Enough. Finito . Aint no stoppin' this shit nigga.

Bark B-to-tha-izzark, shawty dog. Bark biznark. Its funky ass ta sound tough occasionally.

Alysa at schoo` might scold me by ridin' me a scurvy sea-dog, n tell me ta walk tha plank . Its just anotha homocide."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Who is myself?

"I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination. "
--Alan Watts

When I think of myself, what do I envision? Am I a brain; a well differentiated and organized neuro-plasmic ganglion which forms complex electrical currents that coordinate themselves into impulses with direction and purpose? Am I merely responding to chemical signals derived from external coercion? Is this brain the driver of a body receiving electrical impulses tuned so exquisitely there is no discernible differentiation between thought and action? Am I a physical being led by these stimulations, a form and function of survival and reproduction serving only to survive and reproduce? And why do I care about striving for self-betterment or if the Seahawks make the playoffs?

Maybe I think of myself as the invisible driver of some strange agreement between spirit and flesh. Am I the forged result of the energy of my physical, calculable universe co-existing with the energy of the non-physical, amorphous life energy? One connects me to my friend Matt in Japan though we only talk a couple times a year or gives me that weird sensation that makes me turn around just in time to see someone staring at me. The other allows me to type on this computer to earn a living and calculate dosing regimens or catch a football flying at me. Like a bicycle frame using carbon bonded to aluminum, am I two halves bonded together, only to one day split again? Which lasts longer? Which is more important?

Some refer to the balance between the two energies as "center" or a middle ground where the two are attended to equally. I personally believe that, like anything, moderation is a good goal, especially when dealing with our dichotomous self. Of course if we were able to wander out into the forest and abandon all need for physical presence we might allow the spirit self to completely rule our being. Conversely we could allow the physical presence to command our lives and shut out the non-physical, spirit energy completely. I believe this usually ends up in becoming some sort of clinical depression or addiction, right? So it doesn't look like either end of the spectrum works for those of us paying mortgages or obtaining advanced degrees or trying to win a playoff game.

Do you want to know the reeeeallly wacky part? The times I feel most "at home" within myself are the times when I am pushing myself physically, as in a triathlon or marathon for an extended period of exertion. I feel as though in order to truly make it through this sort of task and find my best performance, I must find a way to allow my non-physical energy drive my physical energy. The two are powerful when combined and it is not surprising that in times of extreme duress our physical, fleshy bodies can perform feats beyond scientific explanation. Our science can explain to a certain degree the physical word in which we live, but do these laws apply to our other, spiritual half?? I doubt it.

Well, that's enough for now. I am forced to remember a scene from a great war movie, "Full Metal Jacket."

Pogue Colonel: Marine, what is that button on your body armor?
Private Joker: A peace symbol, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Where'd you get it?
Private Joker: I don't remember, sir.
Pogue Colonel: What is that you've got written on your helmet?
Private Joker: "Born to Kill", sir.
Pogue Colonel: You write "Born to Kill" on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What's that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?
Private Joker: No, sir.
Pogue Colonel: You'd better get your head and your ass wired together, or I will take a giant shit on you.
Private Joker: Yes, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Now answer my question or you'll be standing tall before the man.
Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
Pogue Colonel: The what?
Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Whose side are you on, son?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Who Says Scientists Don't Party?

This was on my desk this morning:

Salvator Salvation

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."
--Carl Jung

It occured to me last night how little I know.

I understand this to be a part of the process of attaining "wisdom"; first comes the realization that as an individual my contribution to any body of knowledge extending beyond knowledge of my own self is negligible. Additionally,when I consider that we as people may not ever feel satisfied that we "know" ourselves, the knowledge we can contribute is even less and the feeling of insignificance grows. This doesnt have to be a gloomy idea, despite the way it sounds. Merely a sort of reminder to actually listen, occasionally, to something besides the sound of one's own drivel.
Although the tune from ones own instrument often seduces the musician most potently.

We were engaging in a lively round of post Paulaner discussions when I realized my dog is smarter than I am. She probably wonders what my purpose could possibly be besides providing over-priced, low calorie kibble each day to her. What she knows is far more valuable and constitutes a potentially more pure form of wisdom.

Yes, I said my dog is wise. She doesnt spend a lot of time worrying about, well, anything. She appears worried when I remove a toy from her jaws and dangle it, squeaking, a few inches above her snout. However that really isn't worry so much as expectance and anticipation. I, on the other hand, worry about the order of items placed on the kitchen counter-top. I worry about whether my alarm, which I already checked fifteen hundred times this week, will REALLY still work another day. My brain is full of gears and patterns and diagrams and math and grammar and planning and philosophy. Not in that order, necessarily, and never ever in the same order twice. The wheels in her little brain have one gear and revolve around the gathering of food and a comfy place to sleep.

Of course we have all heard about the wonderful world of dogs and their superiority to humans derived from the lack of essential survival gadgets they require, and I don't want to get into it anymore. I can't help but draw the comparison between Cappie; such a supremely easy-to-please creature, and Me; thought-vomit boy with unattainable expectations for everyone, especially myself. And (cough) that makes me (cough) happy. It's true: we have to earn a living to support our habit of collecting stuff and feeding ourselves and clothing ourselves and, and, and... While we are earning these wages we might as well try to feel like we contribute something to our environment or our sphere of influence in some way, right? Some people, myself included, attempt to kill two cuddly, little birdies with one stone: pursue employment that align with ideals, talents, interests, or all three. And the real magic? I convince myself that this is worthy by using the term Ambition. I am ambitious and therefore I strive for lofty goals that give me heartburn and a receding hairline.

I should probably not sound so negative, because I really do believe in what I strive to become. I really believe in my expectations, however unrealistic everyone attempts to convince me they sometimes are (I dont believe it to this day). Introspection can be healthy and probably its ok to brain-vomit like this sometimes. Occasionally, after a dopplebock, milk stout or crisp, hopp-filled winter ale, the consciousness driving the lives we find ourselves sustaining needs to slap us around just to make sure we still have that Jungian pulse intact. That we continue to achieve not only for the sake of achieving, but to understand our dogs better.

And then we will have cookies.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Seahawks 2007 Match-Ups

THIS looks like a much tougher year than 2006...

The day after.

It's the day after christmas. I am at work. I am a graduate student which means it's not so much work as slave labor, but scientific slave labor which is questionable. I would like to be performing some in situ intestinal perfusion studies on my C57/BL6 mENT-1 (-/-) mice but I have not yet obtained suitable permissions. Read as: I am a lowly grad student and this is Christmas Break, chump. Get in line.

I keep wondering if I post this, who will see it. Will anyone see it? Does it matter? We are all seriously over-booked as it is with our friends' blogs and web pages, things we feel inspired or just obligated to read, perhaps. But I appreciate being able to see whats on my friend's minds. This is my attempt at that.

It seems far too easy to publish something online, as evidenced by the barrage and deluge of pure horse shit that is the internet. 15 years ago the internet was going to bring the world closer together, shrink the distance between people and re-create communication. I believe it hasnt changed anything--for the better. I believe communication is worse than ever because now everyone can send messages instantly. Once, because of the amount of effort required to do it, only determined people communicated. Thus, maybe 80% of people were eliminated from public view. Now, with the ease of online publishing and emailing and text messaging and instant messaging, any lazy dumbass can write to anyone else at any time and the whole world gets to see it. The number of people who are communicating in truly embarassing manners has sky-rocketed. Accessibility has killed intellectuality. The internet has only made it easier to have access to crap and publish crap and spend your money. Which I suppose brings people closer together with retailers and hackers and homeland security.

Its the day after christmas and I am the only grad student in my little office. I like it that way, really. Its quiet and gives me ample solitude for my own crappy internet publishing habit. A habit which might sound a lot like ranting and raving about the idiotic masses of the USA, occasionally. For that I apologize and hope you might at least get a chuckle now and then.

All bitterness and impatience aside, I am a lucky sonofabitch. Literally and figuratively. I should have probably killed myself doing some crazy stunt or other at least 30 times by now, but here I am: all digits and bones intact (mostly) and only a little worse for wear. I am fortunate for the people I call family and had a terrific time celebrating them this past month. Some of my very best friends have had babies recently (someone has to do it) and some are fortunate enough to get the best physical attributes of their parents (Hank Baird's ears come to mind, here, and I am sure Owen Gerking will be a Chick Magnet). I only can imagine the talent and intelligence as well as passion for Seahawk's football as well will be among their virtues.

So here is to the upcoming year, 2007, and training for my first Ironman, coming up in June in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho, which could be the most difficult thing I ever do. (Here is to run-on sentences.)Here is to starting my thesis work regarding the involvement of human equilibrative nucleoside transporters in the treatment of pancreatic cancer with a nucleoside analog, Gemcitibine and to the year of finishing my cumulative exams. Here is to going to hawaii to run an unbelievably difficult marathon over a volcano a month after Ironman and my second wedding anniversary. Here is to my amazing, patient wife for putting up with me for 2 years of marriage and 2 years of pre-marriage before that. Here is to the Seahawks dismal finish to the 2006 regular season that almost turned spectacular until 36 seconds left against arguably the best team in the NFL. Here is to riding for hours in the rain of the northwest, which seems to have become somewhat pissed-off at us all this year. Here is to loved ones, human and furry, with us in spirit, to friends I wish I could see every day and the brown trout I would rather be stalking.

Here is to starting a new blog, and hoping someone reads it occasionally.

If you do, drop a note. Give us something to write about.

Time to go swimming.