more themes and other episodes

My recent operating mode has been more similar to a series of images racing by as I stare out a train window, rather than coherent narratives. So to make sense of it I offer one-paragraph reconstructions, reactions, and rebuttals.

conversation: On Friday I learned that a single phone conversation can refocus my attention onto bigger themes. More importantly, the act of a conversation can pull me out of a mode where I’m simply filling in potholes and instead look down the road towards the future and a bigger picture of things. Once in a while I just need a reminder, and these kinds of interactions also lay the ground work for

future adventures: such as a tentative date for next summer’s backpacking trip. Just knowing that this is something to begin thinking about is exciting. End of July. High Uintas? Escalante? Tetons? Any of these, but something is pulling me to the Continental Divide within the Wind Rivers. There should be theme music for such a trip.

theme music revisited: My last journal entry described a list of songs that I’d started to compile to be considered “theme music”. I petered out before I really finished what I’d meant to say there; or perhaps I forgot where I was going with that. What I left out is that, while I do relate to the irony of “Frown Song” and “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin,” that wasn’t really the entire theme of my theme music. From within the list I wondered where the real me was in all of it. I’ve since decided that it isn’t there, unless perhaps it’s somewhere hidden in the simplicity of Song C. For now I’m especially drawn to the Indigo Girls’ “Pendulum Swinger” and “Hammer and a Nail,” the former because of the obvious connection to a physicist and the latter simply because of the emotion it evokes and the push it has on me to work harder not for the sake of the work itself, but to actually accomplish something. And that reminds me of something else I’ve been reading.

where’s the love? I was inspired by the analysis of my friend’s iTunes library, wherein he could describe how much “love” could be found in his collection (after a correction for the Lyle “Love”ett effect.) Based on the same methodology, my statistics reveal:

  • “Love”: 87 titles out of 2025 or 4.3%

I have measurably more love than my associate, all completely undeserved. Other statistics worthy of mention:

  • “Sex”: 2 out of 2025
  • “Beer”: 1 out of 2025

Coincidentally, the “sex” all came from poetry, and lasted a total of just over 5 minutes.

puritans: There is no appropriate segue from 5-minute-sex to another topic, so I might as well switch to the Puritans. Sara Vowell seems to be on every radio program I’ve been listening to lately, as well as The Daily Show, promoting her new book about Puritans. I’m intrigued, and if it weren’t for a list of titles already sitting on my nightstand I might pick this up right away. Mostly, though, I was struck with how such a religious movement and emigration could eventually lead to a modern day liberal place like New England, and I wondered if that was a prediction for what might eventually become the culture of Utah. I only need to wait about 300 years to find out.

exams: I wait much less time to find out how my students are doing in College Physics. For some reason this year they seem to be doing especially badly. (And this is one of those statements that makes it necessary to keep this blog more or less out of the public eye.) As I was grading exams at 5AM today, I felt like I was watching problems being solved to mimic some kind of frantic disaster. It’s as if they’re escaping a burning building and trying to find as many belongs as they can cling to as quickly as possible — in this case they’re putting them in a string of terms in an equation, so that a force is equal to an energy is equal to a momentum . . . It’s interesting to see panic and frustration so clearly etched by a #2 pencil. It’s also terribly depressing.

chicken: Maybe even more depressing, I got into an argument with a lady at the grocery store about a roasted chicken. I totally won the argument, but I still didn’t get the chicken for free like I was supposed to. Above her head was a sign that said, “customer service.” Isn’t that supposed to mean something? I left there with a storm cloud over my head, seven dollars poorer for a charred bird. It’s a longer story, but like the rest of this entry it should just be laid to rest.


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