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Mighty Jenn

a.k.a. mighty jenn
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how to order a celebratory shot [28 Feb 2007|06:21pm]
"Make us something so that tomorrow we'll say 'I can't believe we drank that'." Repeat as necessary.
(I've had 5 beers already | Beer me, boys)

it all came down to a question of sequence, the order of events [08 Feb 2007|02:34pm]
(I've had 2 beers already | Beer me, boys)

jenn & shelby's book of interesting but true facts [14 Jan 2007|08:05pm]
My niece and I wrote a tag-team story, taking turns adding sentences. She typed most of it. I've left it as is, except I italicized the sentences written by one of us.


Shelby had 12 green inch worms in her pocket. The green turned to blue. As she was soon to realise,
these weren't quite inch worms but baby camilons.They started to climb out of her pocket and crawl down her leg.
As they neared her knee their blue quickly shimmered into a peachy flesh color.They started biting her all over.
''What did I ever do to you?'' Shelby screamed as she franticly brushed them from her leg. When they reached the ground they started flying!As she was soon to realise these weren't quite baby camilions but baby dragonflies.The dragonflies went to eat insects but in an instant....they vanished! As she was soon to realize, baby dragonflies can adapt their color to anything -- even air! Shelby stood there wondering what happened... she heard a loud boom! She looked straight ahead and the dragonflies were not only flying but they had stripes on them! As she was soon to realize, the dragonflies had flown directly into a soccer game between the Buford Candy Canes and the Lawrenceville Barber Poles, arch rivals with matching jerseys. The jerseys just changed colors! Instead of their distinctive red and white stripes, the Candy Canes and the Barber Poles now seemed to be wearing shimmery, scaly, blue-green evening dresses. Shelby realised that the dragonflies and the Candy Canes ! and Barber Poles were both magic in the same way! "But really," she thought, "doesn't it defeat the purpose to adopt the colorings of your surroundings, if your surroundings are going to adopt YOUR color? Evolution really has gotten out of hand!"Just like the dragonflies, the two teams vanished just like the dragonflies! ''That's weird! The score was tied.'' The teams were gone and they had 1:00 left until they had to start playing again! Shelby called out for the teams and ran onto the field to pick up the ball. In just an instant, The something came and yanked the ball right out of her hand! She stood in wonder as the ball began to zig, zag and zoom across the field, then over her head and finally hard into the goal, prompting a roar of cheers from some invisible crowd of people. The drangonflies came back where people could see them,
and they started doing flips in the air!
Shelby was so confused -- who scored? Were the dragonflies celebrating? Or were they just attention hogs? The dragonflies were being the cheerleaders for the soccer game!!!! But what she really wanted to know was -- were they cheering for HER team, the Candy Canes, and had her favorite player, Ima Hogg, scored that amazing goal??? They were cheering because Ima Hogg scored an amazing goal. Woo hoo! But Shelby sure wished SHE could be watching the game and cheering along with the dragonflies. In just an instant the game turned back on and they got fired up!! But still she could only see the ball traveling up and down the field as the dragonflies went wild. The dragonflies magicly turned away from the field and the team came back to sight!
It was a miracle!!!!
Perhaps... or perhaps something more mundane -- was it possible that the soccer teams and dragonflies had only a limited amount of time for their color changes? The dragonflies did the most magical thing..... they got the ball and kicked it to the goal and scored 10 points....... but ........ for which team! If dragonflies are allowed to storm the field and score 10 points at a time, then maybe all the rules had changed! Maybe the goal had been for the dragonflies themselves! But the dragonflies are cheerleaders. But maybe they're players and cheerleaders at the same time! Shelby didn't know what to think, but she was pretty happy that she'd stuffed these magical dragonflies in her pocket down by the pond. While she was at the pond she thought she'd go for a swim....but when she got out of the pond and checked her pocket the dragonflies were gone. As she now realized, the dragonflies had not gone, but simply taken on the color of water. She look! ed down and the dragonflies were swimming. Then she looked up and the dragonflies were flying. There was a pattern going on! Shelby was so confused she was ready to go home until one dragonfly started talking!!!!!!!! It was amazing. The dragonfly explained that she would soon realize many things about him and his kind. First she would be confused, and unable to understand that these dragonflies were anything other than ordinary worms, or reptiles, or insects. What were they?
''Hold on a minute'' Shelby said. "So you can kick a soccer ball, change colors,vanish and even fly and you're a dragonfly?! How strange!
I can't wait to see this!" Now that she had seen it all, and was still experiencing the magic, she wondered if there was any way for HER to be part of it. She suddenly felt an instant of magic! The dragonflies had turned Shelby into air! ''Ahhhhhhhh'' she screamed. Now, the curious reader may be asking herself "How did Shelby know she was air?" Well, as you will soon realize, being air is a distinctive and unique experience. Shelby new she was air because she could feel herself blowing.
(I've had 1 beer already | Beer me, boys)

doesn't it feel like christmas? [24 Dec 2006|11:55pm]
How am I not myself?

Sometimes I feel like we are just living the same day over and over. It doesn't matter whether you did anything good or bad on previous days, nor your intentions or destiny in future days, really the sun just rises on the current you and in anticipation of its setting you try to live this day right. The day you saved a life or worked for social justice is the same as the day you bought an SUV or let someone down and today none of them matter. Some days feel distinct though, not just another appearance of the day ball but a special day that marks time for us because we've seen it come before, but not since 365 1/4 day balls ago. Tomorrow I'm going to be doing Christmas day again and it feels so odd not to do it with anyone in my family. It certainly doesn't erase Christmases past, but if life is just a series of time slices, and we can only occupy the current one, then tomorrow changes Christmas for me.

My family is not into Christmas as she is normally celebrated. We're not religious and nowadays there are no kids about usually. And we're even pretty sporadic about the whole gift thing. Really, by backward induction, giving Christmas presents is stupid. I'm not a Scrooge; I love giving gifts. But I prefer to give them at birthdays or, ideally, whenever the hell I feel like it. Birthdays are nice because they are about one particular person at one time, and making them feel special and loved. Christmas gifts have the same goal, but they fail because it's actually about everyone at the same time, and no-one ends up feeling all that special. They end up thinking, "Wow, I wasted a lot of time shopping and spending approximately the same amount everyone else spent on me for gifts we probably won't like as much as what we could have bought ourselves, unless of course you consulted my wish list, or I asked your husband to ask you what you wanted, which basically turns it into an errand devoid of any creativity or imagination. Net gain: negative $, negative time." Really it's true of any holiday with an "exchange" of gifts (um, I guess I'm thinking only of Valentine's Day here, because I can't think of any other gift exchange occasions).

If you'd like a more formal analysis of why Christmas gifts are stupid, allow me:

  • Let x be the present I purchase you and y be the present you purchase me.
  • Cost: {x,y} -> R is the function returning the cost of purchasing a present (a real number).
  • Enjoyment: {x,y} -> R is the function returning the enjoyment (in dollars), or value, the recipient gets from a present.

A recent study shows that on average Enjoyment(of any present) = .8 * Cost(of said present), so purely from the standpoint of economic efficiency, gift-giving, ANY gift-giving, is stupid because of the lost utility of 20% of the purchase price -- no one gets the utility of that cash, except the merchant who sold the gift. UNLESS of course the gift-giver and/or gift-receiver receive an intangible "spirit of giving" benefit with value equal to 20% of the present's cost, which is possible. But I think that when two people give and get a gift from each other too proximally in time, it invites comparison of the cost/benefit variety and it's possible to become aware of the wasted utility in an exchange of equal cost but not necessarily equal value, or value equal to the cost. 'Irrational exuberance' would be an apt characterization, were the term still available.

But here's what I do like about Christmas. I enjoy that it's vacation time I can spend with people close to me, on a day when most commerce is shut down, so we can have a slow, leisurely, quiet day to enjoy each others' company. My family is not the closest or most traditional, but we do have a tradition by default. Most Christmases we spend together we have a nice little routine of remembering at the last minute before the stores close to stock up on booze and some fancy finger food, and then spending the next 40 hours: at home consuming said booze and appetizers, playing board games and watching movies, going out for Chinese or Thai and browsing at Powell's. It's totally not about the gifts, but about the quality T-I-M-E (yes, I just quoted Beyonce and, yes, I do think that it is the most precious gift of all [time and attention from someone you love, not Beyonce quotes]). Anyway, something about our Christmas tradition makes that rising of the day ball seem both new and old and, perhaps irrationally or sentimentally, it feels like we've all been here together forever and maybe we always will be.
(I've had 1 beer already | Beer me, boys)

muss es sein? [01 Dec 2006|10:17pm]
Sometimes you decide to read a book just for one good sentence. Sometimes you decide to buy a book for that one resonant phrase. Sometimes there is no decision, only imperative: you must buy the book for the sentence that blanks your mind, shocks you with recognition, floods you with feeling. Es muss sein. I can't even browse a single Bukowski sentence unless I know I have enough money for the book.

Books are seductive -- one line and I'm in love, for now. This summer I rudely asked to borrow a book from a home I was visiting 2000 kilometers away because Jonathan Franzen began a sentence "In the erotic broadsheets of the New York Times" -- I'll get to return it this Christmas. It's true, the pages of the Times are sensual and exciting like a lover. I'm addicted to their feel and smell. They fascinate me and educate me and challenge me. I wish I could spend all day exploring them but I'll settle for something quick. Small noises, like the rustle of a corner, make my heart flutter and the glimpse of it makes me just a little bit happier. The website is not the same -- it's like a long-distance relationship, or like my lover is distracted. But it is free.

On one recent trip to Powell's I allowed myself to drift in the orbits of my favourite literary thrills and attractions. Sale books draw me in first -- hopefully I'll find something cheap here that will help me to later shelve a more expensive find. But my circumnavigation of the sale shelves slingshots me straight into new arrivals, where I find a collection of travel writing. P.J. O'Rourke starts his piece "Sometimes it seems that the aim of modernity is to flush the romance out of life" and I'm hooked. I carom on the tangents to cognitive science, nautical, travel and cookbooks -- here Jim Harrison has collected his writings on food and I don't need to look at a single page before I add it to the stack, but at least it's on sale. Finally I succomb to the urge I've been resisting and circling: the gravitational pull of the Blue Room is strong; there lies "LITERATURE," burning and glowing in my imagination as the centre of this urban galaxy. The energy of my passion adds almost nothing to the equation of this giant star, but it fuels me. It is in the Blue Room that my body feels at once tense and relaxed, that my heart pounds with each calm breath, that my eyes scan intensely but slowly, leisurely, as I ping back and forth among my favourite authors' initials, eventually lighting upon the imperative sentence, whose casing I must own. It is here that I experience that leap of the stomach, that burst and ache of the heart, that is comparable only to loving someone who doesn't love you back. It's not the desire that hurts, it's the knowledge of the hurt to come. Your body doesn't deal in any uncertainty here, for here is only inevitability; there is no question of whether you will spend the money you don't have, just as there is no question that you will return to your love with open arms and heart.
(I've had 3 beers already | Beer me, boys)

four minor cognitive biases or... 'How I Spent My Summer Vacation' [07 Nov 2006|05:38am]
1. Anchoring - the tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor," on one trait or piece of information when making decisions, even if the information is completely unrelated to the decision. In an oft-cited and -replicated experiment, subjects are asked to submit a random number, like their Social Security Number, and then guesstimate another number, such as the population of Moose Jaw. Their answers are highly correlated to the number they had just contemplated, even though they shared no connection.

Example: I phone RJP to ask if he'd like anything from the greatest bookstore on Earth and he says no, he can't, because he went to a sale yesterday and bought 11 books. 11 books! That's quite a haul, even for him. So I venture forth with just my own internal list of desired books, which usually requires a few hours of browsing, reading, and agonizing before I settle on my stack, usually in the range of 2 to 5 carefully selected acquisitions. This day, however, I find myself checking out with 8 used and new beauties, each too precious to remain unpurchased. "8?" I say to myself with a shrug of the shoulders. "That's nothing. It's certainly not 11! Besides, 2 of them are gifts." But I'm getting ahead of myself...

2. Post-purchase rationalization - the tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase had good value.

Example: There are so many. Of course we have those two "gift" books which I probably will bestow on their recipient very soon, after I've gotten a chance to read them. Then there's the lavish appreciation under which any meal out must suffer, to highlight its worth against the cheaper, homecooked equivalent. And of course any show I go to is totally worth the ticket price, because they're such a good band, or there are so many bands, or it's cheap movie night! The impact of this bias seems directly related to the purchase's cost; the more something is worth, the longer it is until I stop reminding myself of the great deal I got on it.

3. Omission Bias - The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral than equally harmful omissions (inactions). There may be a reason for this that is unexplainable and undecodable by humans because it's part of a "moral grammar" innate in primates -- check this NY Times story for more details.

Example I went to see a new movie The Prestige with RJP and we had an argument (as we are wont) about the relative "badness" of the two main characters. Big spoilers here, so you may want to not read the following paragraph if you plan to see the movie. Read more...Collapse )

4. False Dilemma - or the 'All or Nothing' bias. People convince themselves that there are only 2 solutions to a problem, or 3, or some other discrete number, and ignore all possibilities other than these. Similarly, people feel that a problem either must be completely solved, or no solution should be attempted (all or nothing).

Example: I am not self-aware enough to identify all the problems for which I have ignored viable alternative solutions, but I do know that I am particularly prey to the "All or Nothing" fallacy, especially as concerns work or extended projects or really anything that will take more time than I have right now. If I can't finish something now, and do it perfectly, I would rather do nothing at all. Well, that's not actually true; I don't want to do nothing, but sometimes that's just what happens. For a few instances, we have the thesis for which I tell myself if I don't have time to tackle an entire issue with my experiments or an entire section that needs to be written/edited, then it's not worth sitting down with it at all. Then there are the drafts of emails left unfinished so long that one friend has just written: "I really considered that you might have died." And of course various household projects left on permanent hold. And then the blog. I figure if I don't have time to write everything I want to say (and time to do it well), then I shouldn't write anything. But the amount of stuff I want to say just keeps growing. So here we are; I'm just going to let that feeling go and do a short, incomplete list of the summer's highlights.... I'm just gonna do it and forget about it..... Here we go.... Has anyone ever seen Monk? It's about an obsessive-compulsive detective and I really relate to him. Most of my immediate family does too.

Anyway, The Highlights:
-a lot of great concerts
-two weddings
-9 straight hours of video games
-lots of drinking
-not as much gardening or hiking as usual, but there will be time for these later -- this summer I did things I won't be able to do when I'm older
-some swimming
-a website. If you ever need tutoring for students with learning disabilities, check these guys out.
-so much frisbee (3 nights a week, and frisbee golf)
-a steady (if stochastic) rise... in the stock market.
-an end to an era. Laburnum is finally dead. (Or is it? If it were a movie, there would be a pause, maybe even a credit, then a sneaky/shadowy cut back to the sole survivor, packing his nest deep in the basement, only his cat as companion. But alack, even that seems to be done.)
-a new life (2, really)
-so many books read (but far below my summer avg)
-a tidepool examined
-so many movies
-island trips
-wedding trips

And as I put off writing even this list, more stuff keeps happening:
-a new season of frisbee
-a car accident (I'm fine)
-Canadian Thanksgiving
-my Mom's birthday
-more books read
-thesis nearing completion
-thesis setbacks
-thesis overload
(I've had 2 beers already | Beer me, boys)

cling no more to life [26 Oct 2006|06:01am]

"Red, rotten, eaten, green, red, almost red, split, split, green..."

The summer life cycle ends when the first real fall rains fall. It feels like a death, because ... it is. I've been taking care of these early girls for months, first making their beds, then planting, trimming, tying, watering, harvesting, eating and, finally, clearing them away. At the beginning of August I had to lop their tops off, telling them to stop forming new green baby tomatoes and ripen what they got. It felt like eugenics. From August into October we ate fresh, juicy tomatoes every day. Now the vines are wilted and yellow, a few sad, ruined offerings clinging to their tips, either split, rotten, worm-eaten or green.

I admit their care was not always my first priority. I did so much else, got involved in my own life and fun. So much that I forgot to blog. Don't get me wrong; I thought about blogging. I had ideas. I have stubs of brilliance saved all over the place, waiting to take final form, but I don't know where to begin again. It seems I can't continue the implied narrative these entries spin together without some nod to the dark period, some kind of summer rundown to bring us all up to speed.

Really it's throwing me off too, as I use these entries and the drafts that precede them as a pseudo-diary, to help me remember what I've done. I have to keep logging my memories, or else they crowd into the front of my brain and I lose the big picture of where I am and what I'm doing. All organization escapes me because I don't know where I've come from or where I've been. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but I do need some kind of memory purge before I can provide more of this quality entertainment. Soon.
(I've had 1 beer already | Beer me, boys)

you're weird [07 Aug 2006|03:11am]
So I have been tagged and, for the first time in my blogging history, have chosen to respond. I don't care to trace the full geneology of the tag, so I'll just shoot back to my immediate predecessor, Loxy. Weird facts about me abound, so to limit the time I spend editing out embarrassing things, I will continue the sports theme.

1. I started and failed to finish 2 seasons of cheerleading in high school. In first year (when I was a freshman, for all of my southern readers) I made it through football season, but got caught smoking a cigarette outside the gym after practice one winter afternoon. In second year they let me back on, but I got suspended for a game for dying my hair red with a magic marker, and so to make a huge, dramatic point, I quit the squad. The funny secret was, I was totally bored with the whole thing and was stoked I had a semi-good reason to quit -- I had even started "forgetting" to wear my uniform on game days so I could just sit in the bleachers and watch the games.

2. The first album I ever owned was "The Super Bowl Shuffle" recorded by the Chicago Bears in 1985. I played it on my Fisher Price record player until it died. I remember my favourite was Refrigerator Perry's rap -- maybe because he talks about cookies?

3. I run on my toes. Until I was 19ish, I walked on my toes too.

4. When I was a kid, I was in the largest amateur circus on earth. When I was a teenager, I pretended to go to circus practice but instead smoked pot with my friends.

5. Half of my entertainment value at baseball games is in buying the cheapest ticket and then trying to sweet-talk or sneak my way into the best seats I can get. (The other half is beer.)

Alright, I'm fed up, I've had enough. I tag no-one.
(I've had 5 beers already | Beer me, boys)

he comes for conversation [03 Aug 2006|04:30pm]
A more or less faithful transcript of my brunch conversation today (inspired by the stylings of palinode and schmutzie):

RJP: <Roommate> ate your pie?
MightyJenn: Yeah, she was drunk. She felt really bad about it. But I wasn't going to eat it anyway. <Someone who was understandably angry with me> threw it at me. He bought it for my birthday dinner, but then when he got upset he threw it. So I wasn't going to eat anger-pie... Hey, don't push down on the pancakes; they won't puff up.
RJP: You'll eat the anger-cakes and like them! <Slap!>

Editor's Note: Domestic violence simulated for effect. Do not attempt this at home.
(I've had 7 beers already | Beer me, boys)

26 candles [31 Jul 2006|09:55am]
Hey, it's my birthday today, and I've been having so much fun! It kind of all started with a party at my house last Friday, then a dinner/dessert/parent time/new computer in Portland, an action-packed visit with an old friend, a great concert and beer and conversations that are preserved for posterity, frisbee and fireworks, another party at a friend's house, writing and more fireworks, a trippy movie, and this morning a cupcake tower decorated as a snow-covered hill complete with a conquering flag to celebrate my birth. Pictures are forthcoming. I am so lucky.
(I've had 6 beers already | Beer me, boys)

convergence, part infinity [14 Jul 2006|11:14am]
I just finally read The Unbearable Lightness of Being last month and... it was pretty transcendent. At times it came close to displacing Dalva as my favorite book. But no, nothing ever shall. Anyway, it was exactly the book I needed to read at that time. I don't know how I knew.

It was about love, and making decisions when you know that this life is just a one-shot game, with no second chances or Magic 8 Ball; it was about history, and the fact that it does not actually repeat, at least not in a way that allows us to learn anything from it; it was about realizing that your life does not really possess dimension and weight, and the creeping emptiness that results from such a realization; it was about animals, and the argument begun by Descartes that allows humans to think of animals as unfeeling machines and abuse them, and it was about the horrible, inevitable extension of that argument to other humans; it was about a dog who died of cancer after a long life of love, and it was about her humans struggling to accept it.

I can't imagine a better book to have read last month, on the anniversary of my dog's death from cancer; at a time when life's choices are numerous and dissatisfying; at a time when love seems like something that just hurts us; at a time when I wonder if we will ever learn anything from our past, if anyone cares about people they don't know, the people in parts of the world they will never visit, the people who are suffering every day.

The book definitely converged with everything I'd been thinking about lately, and it set up a storm of new convergences. Driving home from my brother's wedding in California through Mt. Shasta, I remembered that the last time I'd made this drive it was in the rush to get home and visit my dog before she died. And reading about Descartes' terrible argument, I remembered a Propagandhi album that I wore out when I was 16. One of the songs on it was called "Nailing Descartes to the Wall / (Liquid) Meat is Still Murder." And then I suddenly remembered that one of my favourite songs right now by one of my favourite bands ("Anchorless" by the Weakerthans) was actually on that album. So I downloaded it. And, first off, realized that the singer for the Weakerthans was actually in Propagandhi (who by the way are from Winnipeg, Manitoba. How did I never notice that a band whose lyrics I loved were Canadian? They actually say 'Manitoba' a lot.). Convergence. I also got to re-hear some of the best lines ever uttered in punk rock: "Tell you what- I'll call you on your shit, PLEASE CALL ME ON MINE. Then we can grow together and make this shit-hole planet better in time." And I got that powerful feeling of deja vu that only music you loved in the past can bring. More than nostalgia, it's almost time-travel back to the very same emotional state you were in. And I remembered how angry I was when I was a teenager.

People tell me nowadays that I never get angry. And it's generally true. I think I exhausted my store of anger in the short, explosive period that we'll call high school, or 1994-98 if you need precision. I was angry at everyone and everything. I was angry about rape, I was angry about my dad hitting me and my brothers and about him leaving, I was angry at my mom for being so depressed, I was angry about small towns, I was angry about animals being abused. And you know there is nothing more dangerous than an angry vegetarian... fortunately I was mainly just a danger to myself. Self-destructive and completely untouchable -- that should have been the caption under my yearbook photo. Ever notice that the "cool" kids back in high school, the ones you knew were truly cool because they didn't need or want your friendship, were actually 'cool' because they were ICE COLD? That was me. I mean, yeah, people liked me because I was funny and mean (and smokin' hot) but it was really because I couldn't give a fuck about them or anyone else. For some reason sheer indifference has a magnetic draw for people. What they don't realize is that they will never get anything from the person they covet. Or maybe that's what they want: nothing, no feelings, but also no hurt. But you know what? That's just what they wish they wanted. They always do get hurt when they realize that they won't be different. They won't be the person who finally gets let in. To this day I'm not sure I've ever let anyone into my heart entirely. But reading this book last month and talking with old friends, I realize that I will, slowly.

I love a lot of people. I don't want to hurt them with my anger (I also don't want them to hurt me). That's why I hardly ever get angry with anyone over small arguments or whatnot -- I never want to have a short fuse. I want a very, very long fuse that allows ample time to consider how to fix the problem rather than just scream at someone.

Don't misunderstand -- I'm still angry, about some of the old stuff and some new stuff. But I've learned a lot from all of it -- I've learned that getting angry is not something I want to do very often. I've learned that being strong doesn't mean being unfeeling. I've learned how to explain to my friends that I've had enough violence and yelling in my life and so I can't brook it in voluntary relationships. I learned how to channel my general frustration with the world into peaceful and non-violent protest. And I keep re-learning that I am a vegetarian in my soul. I had a barbecue this weekend (after rediscovering my Propagandhi album) for which I had purchased sausage and steak -- I ate it and it was good, but I felt dirty, and like a traitor to my angry, damaged, teenaged self. Maybe I need to rethink my "steakhouse on my birthday" plan.
(I've had 7 beers already | Beer me, boys)

logic will break your heart forever / be brave [13 Jul 2006|11:17pm]
"To really know someone is to have loved and hated him in turn" -Marcel Jouhandeau

Okay, I'm much more sober now, and I'm ready to loose some ideas that I've been steeping for a few weeks.

So, clearly I've been thinking lately about intellectual respect. And having lots of arguments.

It seems that whenever I'm forging a relationship, it involves finding the balance of respect and passion. I respect a lot of people for their intelligence and they all make interesting friends, but in my closest friends I find that their intelligence is applied to things I'm passionate about, like books and ideas and memories and politics and game theory and The Simpsons and sports. And food. I also respect people who are cool and collected and considerate, but if we're going to have a relationship with any passion I want them to get angry when I'm a jerk, and I want their heart to swell when we're having fun.

When my relationships fail it's due to a lack of either respect or passion (or both). This is what one recent argument was about. What's funny is that the relationship being argued over ended because I felt more respect than passion, but the argument was quite passionate, and about a lack of respect.

I have had many relationships (romantic and otherwise) in which both parties have enormous respect (intellectual and otherwise) for each other. And when that respect is maintained above all else, we always argue well. Rarely does it devolve to name-calling or violence; usually the issue is hashed out thoroughly and resolved fairly and dispassionately. Each party has their time to address their grievances, each party can rebut. There is order and clarity to the communication.

And then there are the people for whom I feel passion as well as respect. There are no Rules of Order for our arguments. They are epic, meandering and shout-y and in the end we hate each other for everything. And yet these are the people I love the most.

Are passion and respect some sort of twin opposites? Orbiting bodies who both resist and pull each other? What about love and hate?

Another argument I had in the recent, memorable, drunken past was over love and hate. I didn't want to believe that someone who loves me can hate me just as well, but the more I consider it the more true it seems. Take one of my brothers (please! Ba-dum-bum). Hmm, what shall his pseudonymous moniker be? 'B-more' seems unsuitable now -- perhaps 'Hollywood'? Anyway, Hollywood and I have been pretty close our whole lives. I love him strongly and fiercely. I feel protective of him, and jealous of him, and he inspires me and I want to inspire him. But sometimes I hate him -- strongly and fiercely -- and I'm pretty sure he'd say the same of me. I'm not talking about our childish fights over chairs and clean-up duty. I'm talking rage and stewing hatred over (for a few examples) drunk driving, college, money, Scrabble... Maybe it's a side-effect of our strong love and our comfort together that we don't avoid clashes but instead butt each others' heads straight on. And anyone who knows everything about you, and whose opinion matters to you, and who isn't afraid to give you the same kind of blunt truth you give them, is going to occasionally make you hate how close you've let them. Usually when they've called you on your bullshit. Sometimes just when they don't let you get your own way. Anyone who is so similar to you, to the point of reflecting your own faults, or making the joke you were JUST about to say, will occasionally inspire hatred.

And I'm thinking maybe it's only those we really love whom we allow ourselves to hate. My siblings and I had ... well I'll just say it, a violent father, who would also yell at our mothers and us frequently. Part of growing up was finally seeing that in most relationships a difference of opinion doesn't necessarily mean an absence of love -- sometimes we will be hostile and mean and hurt, but we still love (though it's best to avoid being hostile and mean). And the next step is to accept that we can hate the ones we love at times; it doesn't mean that we will hurt them irreparably, and if they deserve the hate, it can be the only way to preserve love.

I can't elaborate any more. The stack of books that won't fit on my shelf reaches over my head, and I have so much I want to read and so much I must write and want to write. But words are like new cars off the lot -- they lose half their value once uttered. Given to someone else to be interpreted, they can't defend themselves. They become silly, and corrupted, and then one day when you hear them again you yourself can't even remember the pure feeling that they described (so perfectly, you thought) and you too must interpret and find them wanting.

Hmm, which brother almost left me on the side of the road in Arkansas?
(I've had 6 beers already | Beer me, boys)

strong wine and difficult love [06 Jul 2006|02:38am]
a ny times headline that i've dreamed of. about argentina. so good. so drunk. why is argumentation so easy with people we don't care about and so very hard with the people we love? I have so much intellectual respect for some people, and I'm sure that it's mutual, but when it comes to an argument all respect flies out hthe window. Is it passion only? Does it cloud our clarity, our judgment, our cold reasoning abilities? I don't know, or the beer doesn't know.. No, I know that I dont' know. Why do I, with some people only, forget how to think? Forget how to forget about small hurts, small inconsistencies, and focus only on what is right? THis sounds like a lover's dilemma, but that's not just what I'm talking about.. even with my own brothers I find myself caught up in emotion rather than reason. When there is a contest over correctness at hand.

Intellectual respect is dry. If we could preserve it always we would be sure that we care little for the person it is applied to. Passion is sticky, it only allows a little space to respect. But it gives a much wider berth to love than respect ever did. If I weren't about to pass out I would enumerate and elucidate. Instead I say 'God it' shard to type when drunk. And God I wish you existed, and communicated, and loved the earth.' And cheers to all of the lovely intelligent people I've ever clashed with. I suddenly find myself empathetic and sympathetic and sorrowful for anyone who's ever found it difficult to communicate with someone they love and cherish and respect and hate. Sorry to all who have experienced this from me and never received the proper acknowledgment and apology. I've only just realized what happens.
(I've had 4 beers already | Beer me, boys)

old enough to know better / just too young to care [03 Jul 2006|12:21pm]
It seems that such a long absence from livejournal demands a recap of the events that occupied my time. Well, I don't really feel like it. But I'll tell you this: Regina is better than Saskatoon. And every part of LA annoys me, except the Mexican food and the beach. Let me tell you an incomplete story in pictures:

In Saskatchewan:

There was a wedding.

We drank a lot.

I discovered what my engagement announcement would have looked like, should I have married my high school sweetheart.

In Hollywood and Malibu:

There was a wedding.

It was on the beach.

I made 8 fruit tarts.

Everyone looked lovely.
(I've had 4 beers already | Beer me, boys)

rollin' on dubs [13 Jun 2006|01:18pm]
I keep pushing the limits of how little preparation I can put into my travels. Leaving for Detroit Thursday, I only vaguely remembered my flight time, and didn't check the bus schedule to the airport. It turns out it takes more than an hour, with 3 transfers. Oops. Got to the counter just as they were closing the check-in, and then U.S. Customs grilled me for a while about the nature of this "computer science" conference I claimed to be attending. I only made the flight because they held it. I pulled the same shit in Detroit -- hadn't gotten directions to The Philosopher's house in Ontario, didn't have a map. Nor did I find out where at U. Michigan my conference was, or where I was booked to stay. But somehow the highway led me to my destinations, and the rental people hooked me up with this sweet ride:

I booked a subcompact, the cheapest thing they had, for $12 a day. But here's the deal: I don't think rental car companies even have subcompacts. That's always what I book and I always end up "upgraded" to a way nicer car.

I'm a baller. Let's go to the stats:

Books Read: 1 (plus one essay)

Books Purchased: 3

Oilers Games Won: 1

Oilers Games Lost: 1

Time Saved by Not Getting Directions or Checking Flight Times: at least 3 hours

Time Lost by ... Getting Lost: 30 minutes

Elvis Costello Concerts Enjoyed: 1

Expected Utility of Moving to Toronto: 85-90% (0%=Indiana, 100%=Vancouver)

Computer Science Talks Attended: huh?

So, quantifiably doing all right. Let's see if I can keep it up. Tomorrow I fly home only to start 2 more journeys: a road trip to the heartland of Canada (really just an excuse to make Pterals listen to my iPod for 2 days), then my brother's wedding in L.A. (really just an excuse to bake 8 fruit tarts).
(I've had 4 beers already | Beer me, boys)

kundalingus [04 Jun 2006|05:05pm]
I did 108 minutes of yoga yesterday. It was awesome. 400 people spread their mats all over the Plaza of Nations under the sun and meditated a little, did downward dog and child's pose, all for the kids at Camp Moomba. I haven't done much yoga before, but I do Pilates, so I followed along fairly well. There were 10 different yogis from different styles who each led us for about 10 minutes. My favorite was kundalini, because it was fast and bouncy.

Thanks to everyone who donated money to the cause. Last time I talked to my friend who runs the camp, they had raised almost 60% of their goal.

(I've had 2 beers already | Beer me, boys)

eater of planets [02 Jun 2006|04:29am]
It was the weekend of convergence. First, a sold-out festival. How would we get tickets? A few drunken emails to Craigslist posters yielded a single response: "I've had people cry, beg, call me at midnight. But your offer of cake and beer at my favorite (how did you know?) cafe was the most [sic] unique." Yes! Score one for me and my knowledge of Portland desserts. But what was the best part? Turns out the PDX girl I charmed actually used to live a block from Laburnum, and is good friends with my ex-roommate, who happened to be one of our partners in crime for the road trip. The world is indeed small. Or the Laburnum karma never stops giving. Or maybe I'm just hott.

Next up in the line of cosmic coincidences? A NY Times crossword clue: 4-letters, Indiana city named after Latin American country. Anyone? Bueller? Peru! My hometown. And guess who I was meeting in Seattle for drinks? My parents, in town just to see old family friends of ours visiting from... Peru!

Ah Seattle. Pabst and well whiskies all around. Drunken jukebox mangling with old friends and pasta to make your heart break.

And then there was music, on the road and in the desert. The Tragically Hip have tragically been absent from my playlists, but no more! Their lead singer is so entirely un-self-conscious and manically literate. I thought my head might explode following his crazy riffs on seagulls and microphone stands. The Flaming Lips tragically cannot live in my head -- man, I would never stop bouncing!

In the middle of Neko Case's set, the heavens opened and spilled their icy rage upon us. It hailed for maybe 20-30 minutes, I still have cuts on my hands, we had to hold a blanket over us to protect our heads. Eventually we made a break for shelter, but it was too late and too full. It's a testament to the hardiness of Northwesterners that most people were still wearing their shorts and tank tops with a raincoat tossed over it all.

Man, but it was just a party after the hail. The Hip rocked it out, the Oilers won, people were sliding down the ice piles on garbage bags and raincoats. And the fucking Flaming Lips -- maybe I'm biased by my pre-love for them, but they closed that show like nobody else could. The music was hot, but it was a scene, too, complete with a streamer gun, dancing aliens and Santas, the lead singer crowd surfing in a giant balloon, sing-alongs to Queen and Black Sabbath and naked girls projected on a screen. I was singing the Yoshimi songs for hours after.

On the way home I won $54 at craps. I kick ass at craps, but I always forget the rules. Good thing there's always that one old guy who's free with the advice and keeps his hands to himself.

By the time I got home, I was ready for a shower. But instead I went to see X3 and eat popcorn. I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone, but I will say that I'm always impressed at the epic narrative X-Men managed to create. It is our modern Iliad & Odyssey. How can we preserve democracy and civil liberty when there are people with the power and willingness to destroy our institutions? Should you ever give up part of your personality to maintain an even demeanor? When is it the right decision to change your identity for the sake of conformity? It's just so cool that it's mutants with superpowers instead of gods and monsters.

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(I've had 4 beers already | Beer me, boys)

camp moomba yogathon [31 May 2006|11:50am]
In case I haven't emailed some of you, I'm raising money for Camp Moomba.

Camp Moomba is a summer camp experience for children affected by HIV/AIDS. My friend Luke runs it, and several more of my friends volunteer as counselors. It's a great experience for these kids -- they have the chance to enjoy a real camping trip with fun activities and caring people, in a place with no stigma attached to the disease and a full medical staff.

Many of the kids can't afford to pay their way to Camp Moomba, so the camp provides scholarships -- that's where I come in. I'm fundraising for the 4th Annual Camp Moomba Yogathon, which happens this Saturday, June 3. If you're able to sponsor me, please go to the Camp Moomba Yogathon page and click the 'Pledge a Participant' button, then search for me by name.

(I've had 2 beers already | Beer me, boys)

re-emergence [29 May 2006|02:52pm]
While I'm recommending things, try Pandora. It's interactive internet radio powered by the Music Genome Project, so you seed your personal stations with songs or artists you like, and then it adds other music that is 'genetically' similar. It's fun and addictive. You can view my favorites here. There are also blog feeds and what-not.
(Beer me, boys)

convergence [29 May 2006|12:27pm]
My wish is the universe's command. sherrardoh and I were recently lamenting the lack of a common space to trade book recommendations, a la del.icio.us. Well, welcome to Library Thing. It's got all the features I would have included and more, plus it's fast and easy -- just sign up and start adding books by typing titles or authors or fragments of either -- they've got a great search mechanism that finds the book for you. Here's mine. Go get one of your own. Then tell me your username so that I can get an rss feed of your books as you add them. I will never work again!
(I've had 5 beers already | Beer me, boys)

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