Herd Instinct

We’re all lemmings. I saw it proven today on my breakfast trip to Au Bon Pain.

Typically one or more of us in immediate vicinity of my desk will go down for a food run once a day. Sometimes more than once. We can be hungry people. And sometimes I will see someone from another part of the office with the same idea at the same time, either in the ABP or on the way to or from it. Today, the numbers were a little excessive. Midmorning, I ran into no less than 4 other coworkers getting food, and this on a day when all of us are hecticly stressed and barely have time to breathe.

Now, some of you might be saying that all made sense. Some of you might claim that everyone gets hungry midmorning.  Others would attempt to prove that in periods of stress, people naturally burn more calories (needing more food) or give themselves small breaks to relieve tension, making trips to ABP more frequent when office stress levels are high.  Others would say that some natural phenomena within the office – a smell or even the angle of light – had cause each of us to react similarly.  But I think there’s more to it than environmental response.  I think there’s something out there we haven’t quite understood yet that will cause a few random people to go postal but the rest of us to sit down calmly to lunch.

What is this thing that tells us when to move in step with the group? Are there times when love really is ‘in the air’?  Are connections and awarenesses heightened by internal factors that cannot be reduced to chemical interactions?  Do we decide about even the bit part of our lives, or are we merely small cogs in some giant machine we can only discern a small part of? Are we all innately connected, or do we all march slightly out of step with one another, no matter how hard we try to live in sync?

I’m not sure.  But there is something there.  Almost every day I get an apple strudel from ABP as a snack.  Rarely I alternate with a chocolate chip cookie.  Today I got an almond croissant.  What does it all mean?

Indianapolis and the big blue wall.

So. Last week I was at home in Indy for a week of vacation.  And what a vacation it turned out to be! But random stressors aside, I ended up seeing quite a few random and completely unexpected things.  I mean, who ever thought to see fried Pepsi?  How do you even fry a liquid?  Yes it is the State Fair and they do fry up a variety of weird things, but really?  And what about the doe and her faun leisurely eating in the green triangle between on ramp and highway?  Usually you just see the unfortunate aftermath.  However, the most unexpected thing I saw was the main branch of the IMCPL.

you must understand, the main library branch of downtown Indy has always been awesome.  The original building was from a time when they actually planned things out adequately for use, so it was both functional and beautiful.  Its later additions, while not as pretty, still allowed for an overactive imagination to climb up floor-to-ceiling shelves and really delve into hidden alcove of knowledge.  It was an immense treasure-trove for me growing up, and the quiet respect I had in those places will serve as a marker for my interpretation of future libraries.

However, the entire infrastructure was dated, and the library still needed more space for more books.  So they tacked on a giant modern building that was supposed to act as a frame for the old cool building and at the same time have all the advances of modern preservation and storage technology.  Everyone was unhappy, including me.  I didn’t want a giant glassy mass distracting from my awesome library.  But that’s what we got.

While I was home this time I was finally able to see the thing up close and personal, and there were several pleasant surprises.  I could say things here about the better, safer spaces for children, or the person-high shelving, or the updated HVAC that will keep books younger longer, or the various meeting rooms and performance venues or exhibit spaces now at the library.  But these are all pretty boring mundane things, so i will focus on the things that really surprised and pleased me.

3) Book Carts/Baskets – for the true speed-reader

Yes, we’ve moved beyond the day and age where you actually have to use your hands to hold your book selections.  For those who read more than they can hold onto with two hands, we provide free plastic ‘shopping’ baskets.  For those who read more than they can physically lift, there are also rolling carts that hold two baskets.  Also good for entertaining small children.

2) Pod chairs – a la Mork

No longer do you simply sit or even recline in a chair.  Now you can stuff yourself into a noise-cancelling pod and truly be secluded from the outside world.  And, if you’re in the mood, you can spin these things around for a little ride.  Or you can attempt to just lean way out without falling out – that could be enough of a ride right there.

Warning: pods really aren’t meant to fit two.  Extended two-person sitting may cause numbness.

1) And, the number one Greatness of the new library addition:  The Big Blue Wall (Shelly included only for reference)

Do I know why the top floor is twice as tall as any other floor?  Not really.  Do I know why the walls are painted an especially vivid blue color?  Excessively not.  But I do know it’s cool.  So cool, it makes me want to prance.  So cool, people set up photo shoots in odd costumes and tons of makeup in front of it.  And that’s pretty cool.  Go library.

The Ouzel is Out

Ok, I’m on my way home for a week (Woohoo!)  Postings, if there are any, will be few and far between.  Go back into the records and have yourself a little bloggo dive instead.

I now love Squatch Detective.

When you’re a kid, you’re taught to trust police officers.  Those people in blue are supposed to protect you, help find your parents if your lost, and be a force for good in the universe.  Some children learn faster than others that a police officer, just like any other human, makes mistakes, tells lies, and sometimes does bad things to get what they want.   What remains to be seen is whether or not the potential Bigfoot discovery is one of these – a mistake, a lie, or an attempt to manipulate for advantage.

While it is true that science every day makes new discoveries and that the world around us is little-known, there are many things that we do know.  We know how much we have changed the world around us.  We know how much we have already discovered.  We know how the world continues to surprise us.  We know how isolated we can be, and how connected.  So, would it be possible for a 7-foot-plus ape man to wander free with only a few unconfirmed sitings to mark his existence?

Yes.  I think it is possible.  Especially taking into consideration that an ape-man would have to have pretty high intelligence and would therefore be able to hide himself well.  Do i think it is likely?  No, I don’t.

I would like to believe in all the wonder the world still has to offer.  I would like to always believe that there are miraculous discoveries waiting just around every corner.  I would like to preserve the part of myself that delights in the world.  I admire people would pursue the impossible or the ridiculous.  The idea of a show with a name like ‘Squatch Detective’, so obviously fanciful and therefore fun, appeals to me.  At the same time, I suffer from a heavy dose of realistic disposition.  If I see something amazing, I want it to be truth and not mirage.  I revel in the story of how something came to be as well as that thing’s existence, and that story is based on some pattern of fact, linked causes and effects chained across time.  I want to see that pattern – it is beautiful as well.  But something about the existence of a Sasquatch seems to be missing a few links.

So I remain skeptical, but optimistic.  If I am wrong, that I will behold a miraculous new piece of the world.  If I am right, it does not mean I would encourage others not to seek out the possible existence of this creature.  That search in itself has value, as does the delight in something not (yet?) proven to exist.

The computer industry: ‘They really need something right now’.

A new technology (developed at the Oven Glove)  that uses block copolymers anchored by more traditional lithographic microchip methods of production to create even more powerful chips could be tested and ready within the next two years.  It’s an interesting study.  Because of our knowledge of the way molecules and structures of a very small nature work, we can apply the natural arrangement and make it do what we want.  It’s like cultivation, on a micro level.  I wonder if the same sorts of domestication trends could happen with molecules after long-term interaction with humans, and what that interaction might look like in a non-living substance?  Would a change be effected through attempting to create some of the more rare molecular structures out there?

Even more interesting was the comment about the industry of magnetic media, and how they could really use some new innovation right about now.  I mean, I understand progress, and I would also like to move forward and have faster and better machines.  but I didn’t realize we were in such dire straights with computers.  Is it because the rate of hardware development is slowing?  Is it because the public is used to an increasing rate of change?  I guess I just wasn’t aware there was anything worrisome about where we are righ now.  Explanations, anyone?

Discovery Channel to bring TV glamour to product prototyping | Geek Gestalt – by Daniel Terdiman – CNET News.com

Ok, so not only am I completely excited excited for this new show, but I’m also trying out this new brief ‘press this’ button that WordPress is doing.  Super-quick summary in place of a whole post, here I come!  WHich could potentially mena more totally fun things for all of you…

Discovery Channel to bring TV glamour to product prototyping | Geek Gestalt – by Daniel Terdiman – CNET News.com.

My only remaining question is when do I get to start testing the superhero products?

Ok, one other question – once past prototype, will this show actually do something with its collnesses that (hopefully) work out?

Which is more cool?

Place your votes now!

I was totally skimming CNN today for something awesome to blog about, and I came across not one, but TWO (Count ’em) TWO awesome news events.

The first involves the government and the past, both things that could be potentially interesting but most often are not.  OSS records are being released to the public, including specific instances of when and how people became involved and what their missions might have been.  That’s how we know Julia Child was a spy.  That’s right, she was cookin’ up some information retrieval on the sly at the same time she was telling you how to make fancy-pants dishes.  How cool is that?  I want to be a household name AND totally lead a second covert lifestyle.  It’s superhero stuff, or at least the stuff of legend.

The second is the winner of this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  Mr. Bulwer-Lytton wa the one who started his wonder-work ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’  The contest is all about the ridiculousness of bad fiction, and is judged on the badness of the first line of an imaginary novel.  Of course, bad beginnings are a dime a dozen, but to create something really deliberately horrible takes both skill and guts.  You could be marked for badness the rest of your life after something like that.  You can view a few of the really good ones here.  I, for one, am amused and potentially slightly disturbed.

So yeah, I request votes for which is cooler.  Post your vote.

Public Image

One of my less-than-favorite boring tasks at work is printing a variety of business-type articles for my boss.  Occasionally however these articles are interesting to me as well – I usually at least skim them.  And sometimes they yield surprising and unexpected results.

The ‘surprising result’ for me today was the discovery of a new show, ‘Money and politics with Peter Cook’.  It’s only on Bloomberg television (which i didn’t even realize existed until today), so some of you may be just out of luck and never get to see Mr. Cook perform.  I probably never will, but that has less to do with him and more to do with my lack of interest in politics and my as – limited – as – possible – and – still – surviving – modern – life interest (or lack thereof) in money.

What really gets me about Peter is his hair.  Let’s take a look, shall we?  This is Ken (er, Peter) in the ad proclaiming his show:

Ok, this is a little small, but you can see clearly all the key hair features.  Slightly bushy eyebrows, ‘The Wave’ sculpted look, lots of gel and possibly thinning hair.

Now let’s take a look at some other photos of the same style:

Ok, here the hair is slightly longer, and without the signature wave.  Obviously it’s a younger look, but still with that plasticy sprayed-on gel-heavy look.  The eyebrows here are more bushy too, but somehow that seems to go with the lankier hair.

Let’s check out the 1980s version of the ‘do:

Again here the hair seems to be a little thicker, but we get a clear sense of what ‘The Wave’ looks like on a a younger man.  Still not all that appealing.  In fact, I think this particular version of that style gives the guy the appearance of having an enlarged head.  Looks better on Peter.

My dentist’s last name is also Cook.  I wonder if he’s related to Peter?  Probably not, because he doesn’t have Ken-doll hair.  And that kind of shape isn’t really a choice – it’s just something your born with.  I know – my own Gene Wilder mane sometimes escapes my control – I occasionally long for the rigidity of plastic-head.  Just not today.

The ultimate freaky.

Ok, my last post was basically about me being a freak.  But there are people out there who are more freaky than me.  Most of the ones I’ve found I love and have total respect for.  Most of them are incredibly intelligent, kind, and ballsy (just like me).  I have recently found that a few of them also have an odd relationship to Skittles.

It all started when I watched this new spot for skittles:

While this ad does slightly creep me out, it’s creepy in a good way.  Feet don’t generally disturb me.  Skittles on feet don’t even disturb me.  Eating Skittles off someone’s feet – well, I guess I’d just have to be really, really good friends with someone to do that.  I mean, really close, like licking-someone-else’s-foot close.  And that’s close.  Maybe I’m just a lickee, not a licker.  Or maybe I’d just really really like Skittles.

However, while watching this ad at work, Cathy came over and had her own comments about Skittles.  I love Cathy, she’s awesome.  She’s also one of those who really likes Skittles on occasion.  The occasion she specifically chose to mention today at my desk was as follows: “I like it when I’m in the mood for a tart tongue bleeding.”  Now, I’m all for that super-tart almost unbearable taste myself on occasion, but the whole tongue bleeding thing threw me.  I must’ve looked at her funny, because she tried to explain that the skittles and sweet tarts cut her tongue when she ate them.  And I can get that.  Sometimes candy is sharp.  I’m just not one to go around cutting my tongue just for that tart taste.  In fact, i find that a little disturbing too.  But I still give her major props 1) for being just as awesome as that Skittles ad creator and 2) for being unafraid to share her intense Skittles love with me, her pal.

My life could certainly be worse.  I could just be stalked by Skittles-hungry denizens of the city, all of them hungry for my feet.

No. 2

I am, and will always be, a klutzy dork.  Some people might say I am unique, or special, or brazenly honest when I spit words out without thinking or charming when I stumble around making a fool of myself.  And thought all these words are well-meant, they don’t change the fact that i am somewhat self-conscious about my dorkishness.  So when I saw this article online, I knew I had to check it out for potential tips.  More fast on my feet will certainly lead to less embarassing social situations.  Hooray!

I scrolled through quickly, ignoring the explanatory beginning and getting straight to the meat of the article.  The ‘yes, and’ technique and the making everyone else look good both seemed like things I could accomplish.  Sure, my typical ‘and’ was usually a rambling unrelated story, but that’s beside the point.  It’s something I already do that I could modify into a more normal-person tone.  Same thing for the making others look good.  Usually I do that by making a fool of myself, but I could modify it to something more normal, like actual praise or wanting to hear people’s opinions and stuff.  But the second tip was especially pertinent to me: go with your gut.  Basically the idea is to blurt out whatever your original impulses tell you.  hey, I definitely already do that all the time.  I’m the best thinker-on-my feeter there is!  Or maybe I’m taking this idea too far…

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