Wed, 27 Apr 2005

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darth vader has a blog

One of the universe's favorite galactic killers posts his thoughts via Blogger. Who knew that a genocidal maniac could be so funny?

13:37:49 27 Apr 2005 > /blog-bites > permalink > 6 comments

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starship dimensions

For all us sci-fi geeks. A comparison of the sizes of different starships from various books, movies, and video games.

06:59:43 27 Apr 2005 > /unrealcity > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 25 Apr 2005

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edumacation

I have, for some bizarre reason, been pondering the fact that two of the most famous transcendental numbers are so close to each other. Namely, π and e. As most geeks know, π is roughly equal to 3.14159265 and describes the relationship between the circumference of a circle and its radius, i.e. C=2πr. e, on the other hand, is roughly equal to 2.71828183. I am not as familiar with e, being currently unable to comprehend math that is more complex than high school algebra, although I do know that it governs such processes as the doubling time of bacteria and the radioactive decay of uranium.

Somewhat humorously, the difference between these two numbers turns out to be roughly 0.423310825, which is only two magnitudes of order and a very small fraction off from the answer to life, the universe, and everything. In other words, the answer is π-e x 100.

Anyway, I also found this page, which explains a magical equation found in an episode of "The Simpsons."

20:45:19 25 Apr 2005 > /simpsons > permalink > 3 comments

Fri, 22 Apr 2005

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the exhaustion of self

So I just finished reading "The Mask" by Stanislaw Lem, which is in his collection entitled Mortal Engines and I was thoroughly haunted by it. (SPOILERS to follow) The story is about a robot built to assasinate an enemy to the crown. The robot is ensconced in the body of a woman, whose purpose is for the enemy to fall in love with. Prior to consummation of this passion, the robot frees itself from the fleshly disguise and, despite a rebellious disposition, is forced to run along with its programming to kill his target.

I will leave it at that.

While it does get into the interesting maze of Godelian incomplete thoughts regarding free will and how do we determine whether or not we really live in the Matrix, for example, what I found entrancing was the initial sequence where the robot, finding itself a woman, is conflicted by the false, implanted memories and her desire to determine the truth about her existence. The way that she believes herself a stranger in her own skin, most peculiarly like how some patients with neurological deficits can feel (as described in some chapters by Oliver Sacks in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

The way that, at times, especially when I was growing up, I felt like a stranger in my own skin, ill-at-ease to be myself.

The way that I am uncertain whether I am merely playing my role in the Great Game, or whether I have any say in which direction I go.

And then in the end, it doesn't matter. We are all programmed to some extent, but to grow up means being able to overcome the limitations of programming.

Or, I suppose, something trite like that.

But what drove me into this soliloquy are these tortured reflections of a medical student unsure whether or not a particular path is the right path. And the sad fact of the matter is that I think that you will not know until you get there—at which point it is kind of late.

I suppose my decisions were easier. If anything, I was born into this role. In some ways, this is my heritage. I knew nothing else. I don't think it was until I was 16 when I realized that it was possible to have a career entirely outside of health care. Oh, sure, before I crossed that final threshold, I had my doubts. One question was: if I don't do this, will I wonder for the rest of life until my dying days? The other question was: what if I'm not good enough?

And through various mundane trials and tribulations that millions before me have experienced, here I am, carrying the (now much lighter) yoke of 80 hours/week (give or take), and basically trying not to kill anyone.

While I do sorely miss having more time to myself, more time to think, to ruminate, to reflect, I realize that, due to the nature of our society, I have to find some way to pay the bills whether I want to or not. And if I'm going to be working, I'd much rather be a physician than some sad sack pushing around papers behind a desk, knuckling under the stifling confines of corporate culture.

I suppose, in life, as in medicine, sometimes you have to choose between what sucks, and what sucks even more. You might call it settling, but there is something to be said about succeeding at mediocrity. It is much better than failing at excellence.

In other words, this is called solipsistic self-rationalization and sophistry. (I love alliteration.)

Hell, I like my job anyway, even when it is a serious pain in the ass.

21:47:55 22 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 20 Apr 2005

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less than single

For various reasons, including a conversation this morning of which details I will elide at this point in time, I am feeling extraordinarily alone today. It could be simply because I've run out of one of my medications. I still have plenty of the other one, and I think taking it on its own might have simply unmasked some of my bipolar tendencies. I found myself laughing out loud a lot today, and, like the stereotypical manic, I went on an absurd shopping spree, spending money I definitely do not have. Then, of course, I would have histrionic dialogues going on in my head. (They're not voices, damn it.) I've probably swung between abject depression and ludicrous joy at least seventeen times today.

And despite all this, despite the fact that I have to wake up in about four hours in order to work for twelve hours tomorrow, I cannot sleep. I've even taken some Valerian root, and the remnants of the previous psychotropic medication I was on (which is known to be sedating. Kids, don't try this at home.) If this doesn't work, I'm going to have to resort to some Benadryl, which always makes me feel like crap in the morning.

Kids, just say no to drugs.

But, yeah, let me tell you, while I had a good time this morning, and the conversation I had was mostly fun, parts of it confirmed to me the fact that the world is a dark and ugly place. In fact, I'm still digesting the story that was told to me, at times agonizing over the global scope of it all.

It's all fucked up.

At this stage in the game, there has been nothing left but to mull over my past history of unrequited infatuation. The woman from whom I was forced to leave precipitously, although in any case, I was, and no doubt will be, firmly ensconced in the hope-destroying Friend Zone. The woman who is going to the other side of the continent before I got a chance to know her (perhaps fortunately, since it prevented me from having morbid thoughts of not having a chance with her.) The woman who I didn't think was my type, who I ended up finding that we had a lot in common, and who rebuffed my advances, and with whom I'm still friends with, who is getting married soon.

Bah.

It's nice to not be tied down, nice to not have to fulfill anyone's expectations, but it would also be nice to have someone waiting at home. Or to have someone with whom to wait at home for. And it's terrible when you get so sick of the monotonous solitude that you don't even want to hear yourself think anymore.

There does not appear to be anything new under the sun. I am once again chewing the cuds of my frustrated desires. As if the world wasn't already full of more important, more pervasive tragedies.

This sucks.

Well, hopefully the Valerian is kicking in, since I'm starting to yawn a lot. I'd hate to end this on such a down note. All I can say is, trite as it sounds, tomorrow is another day, and anything can happen.

00:21:47 20 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Tue, 19 Apr 2005

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gamma ray burst

Even my dreams are laced with nothing but work, work, work.

I dreamt that maybe there was a huge cosmic gamma ray burst. This would manifest in doctors' offices and hospitals as an increased rate of miscarriages in the next couple of months, and an increased rate of malformed babies nine months after. And the rate of malignancy, especially bone marrow problems, would increase as well.

06:16:03 19 Apr 2005 > /dreams > permalink > 3 comments

Sun, 17 Apr 2005

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configuration 4

So here I am again trying to rearrange my furniture. I realize that the main source of pathology in this apartment is the fact that I have too many goddamned wires running around the house. I wonder what the book about Feng Shui has to say about that? (And on a random tangent, as usual, does electricity count as water? It does, after all, flow like a current, from high potential to low potential… all right, I'm betraying my geekiness again…)

I have my computer table in the Long Life sector, my couch in the Prosperity sector, and my television in the Disaster sector. Naturally, my front door opens onto the Death sector, but, hey, there's nothing I can do about that. Maybe I need to put up a windchime or something. Heh.

The engineering difficulty that I am now faced with is the fact that the cable outlet is on the opposite side of the wall that I've put my TV. Stupid TV. If I weren't paying a ridiculous amount of money to have cable simply so I can watch The Daily Show, I'd seriously dispose of it. Shit. Anyone want to buy a TV?

18:48:16 17 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments

Wed, 13 Apr 2005

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serious brain damage

I don't know why I care, but times like these, I'd like to know why I'm as brain damaged as I am. Having self-diagnosed myself with executive dysfunction syndrome after reading this book, I wonder if it's simply something congenital, or if I really had a hypoxic event when I was anesthetized as a little kid for my tonsillectomy. Not that I'm interested in suing anyone, but I think it would be interesting to know. After all, I think I'm relatively pretty functional, with the occasional nervous breakdown now and again. I don't know, if I was brain damaged, I could probably be a poster child for how you can recover from very subtle mental deficits.

I'm not just being facetious. Well, I suppose I am, partially so. I do really have a problem with making decisions, though. And I know at least a few people with similar problems. Difficulties with prioritizing information sometimes manifests as learning disabilities, or problems with taking timed tests. This is basically what the frontal lobe handles: organization and prioritization. The kernel of the operating system known as the human mind, if you will. These are the two things I do very poorly with, and seriously, it's amazing that I've gotten through life at all. I like to think that the rest of my mind has somehow compensated for its failings. The brain, like the Internet, seems to be able to route around damage sometimes, although it can't easily reduplicate whatever was lost.

Anyway, that was a really verbose prelude to why I am cursing my disease state. Currently, my apartment is in complete shambles. It looks like the Secret Service decided to systematically ransack it in search of paraphanelia that could get me locked up in Gitmo. Yes, that's right. Systematic chaos and disorganization. There are stacks and stacks of books just piled up on the ground. My clothes are likewise folded and stacked in very random places. I have receipts organized in messy piles according to month and year. It is a serious mess, and yet it seems like it's the only way I can find anything. What is particularly fucked up is that I seem to function worse when everything is neatly put away.

And thanks to my rampant disorganization, I think I may need to make a four hour round trip drive to my parents' house in L.A. and back in order to retrieve my 1099INT and 1098T in order to properly file my taxes. What a waste of a day.

To top it off, I am dangerously approaching rush hour. (I don't really know why the call it rush hour when it clearly lasts more than one hour. They should properly call it rush epoch. Or rush eon. Anyway.)

(And another manifestation of my disease state is that fact that I always get detoured sidelong into tangents, frequently finding myself miles away from my original point.)

One wonders if this is a controllable state, much like major depression or generalized anxiety. I've tried the antidepressants, and while they succeed in preventing me from self-harm, they don't really touch these higher functions. From what I understand, that's what amphetamines like Ritalin and Concerta are for.

(Once again, I am forced to ask: am I nothing but a clockwork orange? Anyway.)

Time to get on the road. After one more tangent…

12:56:25 13 Apr 2005 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments