Thursday, January 31, 2008

That's Interesting.

Ever wonder why some things are interesting and others aren't? I read an article for one of my classes last week about it. The formula is very simple. For something to be interesting, it needs redefine your expectations. Otherwise, you just say "oh, that's obvious." Just think of all the things you want to tell everyone about. Like I want to tell you right now that Campbell's Chicken Sausage Gumbo soup has only 3 grams of fat per serving! How can anything with sausage in it be that low in fat?? Honestly. The story of the three little pigs would be more interesting if you knew that really, the big bad wolf was really the third little pig's mother-in-law.

What also strikes me as interesting right now is that I have 16 hours worth of reading about science each week. And I like it. Why is this interesting? This is where I tie in the last two blogs I was supposed to write. I actually accidentally posted one of them, and if somehow you subscribe to my blog, you got the awful, premature, amorphous version--you got to peak into the egg before it was hatched. Interesting.

Reason Number One: I have not had an inclination towards reading most of my life.

Even though it is my last name. I still sometimes read just so I can fall asleep. I've wondered from time to time if my ancestors, also bearing the name READ, have been peering down at me my whole life, anxious to see me finally wake up and get a sense of my duty and my destiny--to read and read and read. Perhaps the first Read, let's say his name was Bertrand, was, in a heroically unassuming manner, called forth to read at a moment of utmost importance. Perhaps the king of England at the time, or maybe it wasn't even England yet, had been given a grocery shopping list by the queen for their first year anniversary dinner. However, the king couldn't read, and was hiding this fact from the queen. The queen had already asked him to take a grocery list to market several times before. The king, however, was an excellent memorizer, and would be able to put the list to memory as the queen read it to him. This time however, one of the guards stepped on one of the queen's pet ducks. The duck honked during the whole time that the queen read and reread the grocery list to the king. Afraid that the queen was losing patience and beginning to wonder at the king's repeated requests to reread something that he would normally be able to verify himself at any moment, the king decided to postpone dealing with this problem. Surely someone in the village where he procured his groceries could read and solve this problem for him. However, when he arrived at the village where the groceries were to be procured, no one in the village listening at the time could read. The king was flabbergasted! "I will relocate my stinkiest pig farming operations to completely surround your village if no one will step forth and read this grocery list for me!" The villagers became very sad. Pigs could be VERY stinky. And who would be brave enough to come to their market? All of the commotion had awakened Bartholomew who had fallen asleep with a good scroll on his head. Coming out into the village proper with scroll in hand, still clearing his eyes with his fists, the king called on Bart to read. And the rest was history. And that's why I must Read.

I did actually look up the origin of the last name Read on Apparently the first Reads were likely Red-Heads or people that lived in the forest or both, since "read" was an old English spelling for a nickname for a red head or a forest. Not interesting.

Reason Number Two: I have not had an inclination towards science most of my life.

Science fair projects baffled me as a child, almost to the point of enraging me. How on earth could I, a young lad of no notable credentials, claim to find out ANYTHING that even my science teacher knew, let alone the combined intellect of the scientific world. Maybe my awkwardly huge poster-board display was supposed to impress them? Which is probably why I never won a science fair, in spite of the most National Geographic worthy pictures of hatching brine shrimp under a microscope anyone in the county had ever seen, and in spite of the most elegant 3D models of water molecules reversing their polarity as influenced by a microwave produced by a microwave oven.

Actually, some scientists, or philosophers, or scientist philosophers would say that I was right. Some of them say that no one can really know anything about anything some would say. It's really interesting, (there's that word again), that some scientists argue about what science is. It should be easy! The plant listening to the classical music grew more than the plant listening to Hilary Clinton's debate speeches. Hypothesis confirmed. End of story. But no.

It all started when a bunch of scientists were having a Planet of the Apes marathon. Several hours in, one of the scientists decided to be friendly and microwave some popcorn for the other scientists. He nuked the popcorn. The popcorn was no longer recognizable, and the microwave oven was filled with smoke. He must have missed a digit and put it on for 23 minutes instead of 2 minutes 30. The scientist was humiliated. Someone that smart couldn't have made such an obvious error. Plus, this was the seventh time he'd done it. He decided that he would use all philosophical skill to deny that the popcorn had indeed been burned. And just on cue, the question came: "Where's the popcorn? Did you burn it Berty?"

"It may or may not be burnt. No one can KNOW that it's burnt."

"Yes we can! Just open the microwave and check!"

"Good grief no! You'll stink up the ENTIRE apartment for HOURS, DAYS even!! What are you THINKING! For the love of beauty, keep that abomination contained!" The microwave would remain unopened.

The positivist was the first to enter scientific legend. "We may not be able to tell with CERTAINTY, but I'm quite POSITIVE according to my theory, that the popcorn is burnt." This looks harmless, but the positivist always used those exact words. Very straight-forward, very precise, but sometimes boring and completely out of touch.

"No one can come to any knowledge of anything." Berty said.
Berty, was actually a very agreeable man before he started getting into arguments with his relatives. All of his relatives were really smart, and really poor losers. When family Monopoly games were lost, the board wouldn't just be disheveled, it would end up on the neighbor's roof and game pieces would be picked out of furniture and people's hair for years to come. When it came to scientific arguments... they finally agreed to disagree. And the only way they could do this is to come to the fact that everyone could have their point of view about everything. Even the most obvious, most basic things, such as--"your socks are blue." No one could know even that for sure. There must be other possible reasons, aside from the fact that the sock was indeed blue, that the person THOUGHT they saw the socks as blue. Maybe he'd seen too many blue socks in his life. If he'd never seen any blue socks before, or knew what blue was, would he still see the socks as blue?

Berty explained how no one could know for sure that the popcorn was burnt, but the positivist held his ground and repeated his signature phrase. The argument is still going on today.

Needless to say, the microwave was left unopened for days.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Birthday Blog!

Today is actually my nephew's birthday, Miles Decker Jr. He is one year old. Life took on new meaning as he had his first taste of peanut butter in a peanut butter cookie. Other than that the day was same old, same old, baby bliss which included several long, deep raspberries for me over the phone.

My birthday was yesterday, in its entirety. The thing I like about birthdays is that all of a sudden, everything happens or doesn't happen because its my birthday, on my birthday. My car wouldn't start because it was my birthday. Duplex cookies mysteriously appeared in the vending machines of the faculty lounge in five ounce packages because it was my birthday. That's twice the weight of most anything else in the vending machines. That's got to be unsafe.

However, birthdays can be testy. It is obligatory to be indulgent on your birthday, or else you must have no self-esteem at all. This must be why Miles was making several extra raspberries over the phone. As for me, well I went all out and bought myself a wireless mouse. You are shaking your head right now, I can see it. I did eat enough candy and baked goods to quell my hunger until dinner today. But this was partially due to circumstances explained below.

It is also obligatory to indulge your friends in indulging you. For example, if your roommate wants you to relax and watch Fantastic Four, you may think you're getting away with something if you just walk upstairs and start doing your homework. But roommates will not be so easily undone. They will call friends to come over and talk to you. Then what will you do? Brand yourself a hermit? A naysayer? A sneetch without a star on thar? No.... no.... You WILL be sung to! You WILL have enjoyable conversation! You WILL blow out candles, and not tell anyone your wish (thank goodness, at least one convention on your side!!)!!! You WILL let yourself be carried into the basement by a herd of mountain goats.

You WILL let me remember YOU on YOUR birthday.... If I ever knew when your birthday is... and I remember when it is... Especially if you leave a comment :).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Introducing Llama Blog!

I thought I couldn't sleep ... this morning because I had eaten too much for dinner again, but really it was because I was tossing and turning from the guilt I was feeling for missing another week on my blog. So I started my blog about llamas. Here is the link:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What Omahappened?

It has been approximately twelve weeks since my last blog post. Twelves weeks without a pulse, without a drop of rain, yet, without a ray of sunshine. A great void. Twelve weeks of reruns--if you reread my blog. Wow. I don't even do that. . . often.

Who is responsible for this outrage??? Was it necessity? The mother of invention? Not this time. More like the mother of death! Can there be such a thing?? No, the thought makes one shiver. It wasn't necessity, it was the penny-pincher human resources division of my brain. A new product was shipping--data structures programming classes, papers, and who knows what else that relegated the brain cells in charge of writing my blog out the door, to become jobless bums, scraping an existence off of spare oxygen donated to them through the pity of my more generous red blood cells.

Well, the CEO in charge has caught on to a new buzz word in the brain power market--it's called SANITY. And in all the most recent "Brain Today" trade magazines he's read (I can't have a she be a CEO in my own brain), when sanity is part of a brain's strategic vision, the whole operation runs smoother. Sure the payoff doesn't clearly impact the bottom line, but authors have made millions selling the idea to Fortune 500 brains around the world. The message is gaining credibility--any hard working brain needs to be sane.

And all the SME's agree, to have sanity, you need to spend resources on something that doesn't impact the bottom line. And you have to actually SPEND resources. Simply vegging doesn't count.

So now those blog-writing brain cells are back as part of that initiative--a little lazy, a little reluctant, a little out of practice, but they now have stock options, the nice parking spots, access to the gym, and personalized iPhones. They've even had several focus group meetings and team get-aways to fabulous resorts. After hours of enthusiastic brainstorming and the most moving power point presentations, they have realized that not every week is going to be exciting enough to write about. Let's face it. Aaron moved to Omaha, not Bangladesh. It isn't THAT different. All though there are possums. Other momentous material must be sought after aside from life in Omaha. Check back next week!