Log Beats Glass.

In a corollary to the ancient and incontestable rules of Rock, Paper, Scissors, this was recently exemplified in a Random Act of Vandalism. My friends Jeanne and Lauren were at the receiving end of the RAOV when their living room window was shattered by a flying log. With this new example, it has been proven once again that glass – even double-paned glass – will not stand against propelled-massive-stick-with-a-pointy-end. Though the propellant (or propeller?) has not yet been found by the police, nor a motive discovered (J&L had recently moved into the area and had not had time to build up the usual pool of enemies/arch-nemeses), no physical harm was caused. Hopefully they’ll get all that glass cleaned up and a new window in short order.

While discussing the matter with my co-worker Corina, I kept repeating the title phrase of this post to refute her comments concerning the smallness of the log, the strength of double-paned glass, and the possible results of the same situation with slightly different circumstances. What if the window had been triple-paned? Log beats glass. What if the log had been less pointy, or less forcefully propelled? Log beats glass. It just gets funnier every time you say it.

After several rounds of discussion, my repetition led me to another question. What other similar principles were actively present in our everyday lives without our notice? Of course, there are the obvious ones like soap beats dirt or overly large coat beats winter. Still, it makes me wonder at those truths that do not impinge on my consciousness, thought they are physically present and consistently true, without shattering consequences. Any ideas?

Where reality meets the worst theater ever.

Ok, maybe not ever. There’s tons of theater I haven’t seen, and I’m not really a critic, so perhaps it’s not within my rights to be completely judgmental.  However, as my work-study job in college was as part of the backstage crew at the Edison theater, I did manage to see a fair number of performances while working.  I also managed to earn meager wages, but that’s really beside the point at the moment.

Now, these performances were widely varied.  We had song, we had dance.  We had children’s shows including some of the most sophisticated puppets I’ve ever seen.  We had performing toy pianists.  We had ballet and a modern hip-hop/breakdance version of Romeo and Juliet.  We had comedy and history, and even a little bit of drama.  We had student shows and professional traveling companies.  But possibly the worst show we ever had (which I can’t recall the name for ) was a series of vignettes played by one or two actors in which voices and music were pre-recorded and then replayed.  I happened to be working the spotlight for this show, and when Fate was kind, fell asleep on a sharp-edged bucket up in the catwalks.

One of the acts which I was required to spotlight, and therefore was awake for through what seemed like endless numbers of shows, illustrated a woman going crazy.  Her recorded voice wandered in topic from her love life, to sex, to her role in life, all illustrated by the actress, silent, up on stage making funny little gestures with her hands.   As she slowly lost it, she seemingly comes back to herself at some moments, saying ‘what am I doing with this chicken’ with increasing alarm.  We never see the chicken – the actress on stage never indicates that she is holding a real or imagined chicken.  We don’t even know if this is a live bird, or a plucked corpse.

While the scenario seems one that has great potential, its effects were less than might be expected.  The lone figure on stage failed to evoke a sense of reality, also failing to garner the audience’s sympathy in the process.  As a result, my fellow employees and I used the line about the chicken to make a mockery of- well, just about anything in our lives.  Social life becoming overbooked?-what am I doing with this chicken.  Professor too demanding?-what am I doing with this chicken.  Administration making stupid decisions or not paying you enough?-what am I doing with this chicken.  Too many term papers due at once?  Headless chicken.

I was completely surprised to learn what I considered an inside joke was not so ‘inside’ after all.  Mike sent me the link for a Panasonic camcorder he was possibly interested in (he later discovered some not-so-positive reviews, and canned the idea).  I was stunned to find the description referred to MY CHICKEN JOKE:  “Whether you’re monkeying around on the rock gardens or recording a performance art piece (what are they doing with that chicken?), this 0.40 lb. SD Palmcorder® camcorder makes a perfect companion for pretty much any occasion.”  Ok, so the show I worked oh-so-long ago was a traveling show, and it might even still be in existence.  Also, this chicken could easily not be the same chicken – note the use of ‘they’ in place of ‘she’.  Still, the correspondence is unnerving.  I’ve lost my chicken.

Things that make you go ‘Gee, Whiz’

After the Supreme Court refused to hear a case against Wal-Mart, blogging and threats of a boycott actually did some good.   Debbie Shank, a former employee who was hit by a semi and suffered severe brain damage, was sued by Wal-mart for the costs of her medical care under their health plan.  Under this plan, Wal-mart has the right to do so if the insured employee wins damages from a lawsuit, which the Shanks won against the trucking company responsible for her accident.  Of course, in this case Wal-mart was legally allowed to take everything set up in the trust fund for Debbie’s continued care, rather than the larger amount that they lost due to her health plan.  While I remain undecided about universal health care, I think that this little legal loophole is something that should be eliminated.  The right to receive damages should not cost me my health insurance.  Most poignant however, was Mr. Shank’s comments to CNN upon receipt of a letter explaining that Wal-mart would not be recouping any of its expenses – he thought it was a 4/1 joke.  Because no department store giant in its right mind would be sympathetic to the plight of its lowly employees.  Especially an incapacitated one that cost it $470,000.

New research has been released regarding the development on ‘new’ hearts from old ones.  Of course, the studies have only been tested thus far in lab rats, but tests are moving to larger pig hearts as we speak.  And since pig hearts have been used to replace heart parts in humans, perhaps they’ll just stop there.  For the moment, I remain unconvinced.  The basic principles are unclear.  In the tests, they take a heart from a dead rat, clean it out with soap to sluff out all the cells on the inside, inject the heart with new cells from other lab rats which grow inside the heart casing, and finally teach the new cells how to beat using a pacemaker.  Some of the points of contention I have are as follows: are they injecting heart cells from multiple rats?  in the future, would they be injecting my cells alone into someone else’s heart?  wouldn’t that still require someone dead to supply the heart casing?  Have they successfully implanted these new hearts into a living rat without rejection of the tissue, or just taught it to beat?

Information on a 7-year old dig in the Andes of Peru released today included the earliest known find of a gold object from South America.  Archaeologists are excited not only because it’s something new, but because it may be the first, or one of the first physical markers of a transition from existence as hunter-gatherers to existence as a more regimented society which would eventually include kings.  And the necklace with gold beads is, in fact, beautiful.  And shiny.  I’m not so excited – it’s a materialistic shift I’m not exactly pleased with.  Things are status.  Gold is status.  Objects are the physical representation not just of our place in society.   They are not just the pen-and-ink of the scribe or the simple plow of the farmer or the loom of the weaver.  They are also, suddenly, the complete and total sharing of our worth to that society.

Gee.  Whiz.