Recent conversations

This morning, in the car on the way to the train station:
Man: A bunch of great blog post topics occurred to me when I was meditating this morning.
Girl, 16: …
Man: But now I can’t remember any of them.
Girl, 16: …

Two days ago, in the kitchen:
CD player: [doing, twang, ching, ching, doing]
Girl, 8: What. Is that. Buddha Bar? Pff.
Girl, 16: What. You’d prefer Rammstein I suppose.
Man: Heh.

This morning, in the kitchen:
Girl, 8: School. Yuck.
Man: But if you study well, you could open your own Rammstein school.
Girl, 8: Yeah!
Man: Where everything is taught through Rammstein.
Girl, 8: In math, I would teach, “Ramm + Stein = Rammstein.”
Man: Right.
Girl, 8: And so on.
Man: Like that.

ob.gif This isn’t maybe funny, but I was thinking “Occult Blood” would be a good name for either a darkish band, or a horror movie. Or maybe an album by a darkish band with a better name.

Also, that “Rammsmeier” would be a good name for a brass band that did Rammstein covers.

I got like 9 hours of sleep last night, not counting dozing back to sleep after cats woke me up a few times, or when Gamma woke me by kicking off the covers. I went to bed at about eight thirty PM and got up after 5 AM. I’m unstoppable.

Now, off to take a shower, go grocery shopping, cook, clean a little and pick Alpha up at the train station.

Party small talk tip: ask a scientist a question

Much of my commute takes me through a woods near the river, so that I spend about 90 minutes a day watching the sky through treetops. Summer evenings, the sun shines low through the trees and flashes strobe-like into your eyes and makes me wonder whether it would be possible, knowing the average speed at which cars will travel along a certain segment of the road, and the angle of the sun being calculable etc, to plant the right type of trees at the right spacing in order to trigger, once the trees grow to a certain size, seizures in epileptic drivers at a certain time of day in a certain season, like they built Newgrange so the passage and chamber would be illuminated by the sunrise on the winter solstice.
But this time of year the days are short and the sky is dark in both directions, or just getting color, and I never get tired of looking.
My youngest daughter, Gamma, was sleeping in the big bed last night because mom’s away on a business trip. I was over in Gamma’s room reading, and heard Gamma over in the big bed talking. In her sleep, I assumed. A minute later she came over and looked in at me and rummaged around and said something in tongues. She was in a trance I guess. She went to the bathroom and I gave up reading and went to bed. She said various things in no language I understand. We had a nonsensical conversation. She finally fell asleep.

I am trying to be more social. I think, maybe I am not so shy, I am just out of practice and lazy. Also, I get so tired after 8 pm that most of whatever conversation I make consists of non sequiturs at least on my side. I cope with this by getting people to tell stories. They get to tell a story, I don’t have to say anything and look like a good listener.

I went to a party on the weekend. For example. One of many recent activities on my social calendar. The hostess finally grabbed me by the arm, pulled me out of the corner where I had thought I was blending in well and ordered me to go talk to someone. Luckily there was a nuculer scientist at the party so I was able to stand there and listen while he explained to me why depleted uranium makes such good projectiles (it is hard, denser than tungsten, and burns when it passes through a target meaning that 1) the projectile self-sharpens, since the outer layer burns, 2) the resulting gasses lubricate its passage through the target and 3) it is burning, meaning it says, as it passes through a target, “anything else combustible here? any oil? any fuel?”

He was entertaining. I felt at ease. I had fun. When I got tired, all I had to do was ask, “so, uranium, what’s that look like, exactly?” and the 15 minutes of conversation was assured (uranium is a grey metal. A fuel rod is grey metal, 3 meters long, clad in stainless steel. Before it’s used in a power plant, it’s not that radioactive).

Also, a woman gave me the eyeball so unabashedly that I actually noticed. I was standing there, learning that uranium is indeed yellow at times (I had always associated uranium with the color yellow for some reason), namely when it is in liquid form, because then it is usually liquified by mixing it with nitric acid, which changes it to uranium nitrate or something, which is yellow, when all of a sudden, hey, what’s this? An eyeball? Who gave me the eyeball?

It happened again later. Then I switched to orange juice and left as quickly as I could, because I had a long drive home, and I have noticed that if I don’t leave parties early then I stay late, and am usually the last to leave, and they were planning on singing karaoke later.

Yesterday we cleaned house. The kids straightened up their rooms and I vaccuumed everything, and put out fresh towels everywhere. Then when Alpha called home to say hi, I proudly told her we had cleaned house, and she said, gee, I cleaned everything before I left. Which would explain why it was so hard to tell I had done anything.

And I baked a pizza and Beta made some Indian lentil dish, to which I tried to make some roti, but they weren’t cooked all the way through, despite being rather black on the outside, which leads me to believe that maybe my pan was too hot. But the kids were nice about it.

Bifurcated sleep

Researchers took volunteers, put them to bed in a dark room at six pm and kept track of their sleep patterns. Initially they slept straight through for 11 hours. After catching up on sleep, they moved into a bifurcated pattern of three to five hours sleep, then waking up and dozing or relaxing for a couple hours, then falling back to sleep for another 4 hours. The conclusion was that this was the normal human sleep pattern. How cavemen slept before Jay Leno.
So let’s all start sleeping like this and check back in a month or so and talk about how it changed our lives. We’ll go to bed at six pm, sleep until ten or eleven, wake up, talk about our dreams, or have a shag or just lay there musing on something, then go back to sleep until five, and start our day.
I read something else about how the night used to have a different function in pre-industrial society. It mentioned people sleeping like this, hitting the hay at darkfall, then waking up for hanky panky, or to go play cards, or have a midnight snack, then going back to sleep.
It strikes me that my childhood sleep pattern of staring at the ceiling for a couple hours, fearing monsters or the future or whatever, may have been completely normal and natural.


Thank you to everyone who mailed or commented with advice, it was universally good and well-meant and I shall be taking most of it, even the contradictory bits, he said without irony.
Life is an advice machine, isn’t it. If you include “lesson” under the general heading of “advice.” Maybe it’s the buy a red car, see how many red cars are suddenly in the streets thing.
Or in my case, the drive unpredictable beaters and see how many cars break down on the road when the weather gets good and cold, as it is today thing. I was murmuring prayers of thanks, general delivery, on my way to work today that I have a dependable new car at the moment. That made me wonder who, exactly, I ought to be thanking. God? Life in general? My wife and me for living within our means so that we can afford a little Mazda? My children for not developing any expensive habits or problems, except for the harp thing and the going to a school where they take trips throughout the continent all the apparent time thing, which you can’t really get upset about thing?
At any rate, I was glad the car worked because it’s chilly out.

Earlier this morning I sat down at my kitchen table to eat some uncooked oatmeal because

  1. I can’t be arsed to cook oatmeal in the mornings and
  2. I like it better that way

and there was this magazine there with an article about relaxing and taking a different approach to time and stress, which was right up the alley of various things we are dealing with at our house at the moment thing, so I read it as I had my reading glasses with me, and but it was longer than I had time for so actually all I read was the sidebar thing and it had a list of, you guessed it, advice in the form of things to try and I cheered myself up with them.

Continue reading

There is so much

that I cannot tell you, because it is a secret or because I do not know it myself, or both, or because it is private thing.
We visited friends out of town this weekend, Gamma and I, and when we got home she just cried and cried because she was so tired from a fun trip and so relieved to be back home and relax. I told her I knew just how she felt, because I do.
Things have been exploding a bit here lately and the worst part is, it’s partly good and partly bad and difficult for me to put into proper perspective.
Meditation and journal writing didn’t enable me to get a handle on it; things just got worse, which may have been because of the meditation, or the journal writing, or the getting up an hour early to engage in those activities, or things may have been even worse without doing those things; maybe they ameliorated the situation; or maybe the situation just felt worse, and it was a good thing that it moved in the direction it did.
Gamma advised me to get more sleep, and pointed out that I could meditate at night, as she does, staring into a corner of the ceiling for fifteen minutes before closing her eyes to dream.
I have decided to try something new: I will try taking people’s advice, prioritized by their proximity to my core. That is, my own advice first, then that of my wife, then family and friends.
They all tell me to get enough sleep, so that is my new priority. Journal writing I shall try to squeeze in at lunch, once the weather gets warmer I will sit on a park bench and scribble perhaps. Or it will be squeezed in some other time. Evening meditation, because I do need that, or at least am unwilling to drop it just yet, having tried and prematurely dropped so much in my lifetime.
I will sleep at least eight hours nightly for the next fortnight and observe my situation at the end of that period.
I will write about things closer to me and less made-up shit, as my wife has advised me.
I will eat healthy things in moderate quantities, and clean my room, as my mother advised me a long time ago.
I will endeavor to exercise three times weekly, as advised by my body. I will keep my hair good and short, as advised by my hair-cutting person. I will practice cello daily, for as long as possible, as advised by my teacher.
I will unlock the door and let them out, then unlock it and let them back in, and feed them and let them back out and then back in, and give them some of that chicken, and not get so bent out of shape over just a hairball, as advised by my cats.

How are you otherwise?

I can never sleep when I drink that at night, my wife said.
I was mixing myself a fizzy aspirin drink.
I’ve never noticed any problem, I said.
How many nights ago was that? Three? I lay there like a little doll suspended in the snaky blue sparks of a Jacob’s ladder for hours. Who knew aspirin had that effect?
Or maybe it was pure coincidence. When I drink it in the morning, I’m not more energetic or nervous during the day.
Except, today I am. I’m totally crazy inside.
It can’t be the moon. It’s down to half.
Man, that’s scary, how fast the phases of the moon go. Just yesterday, or the day before, it was full and I was surprised that nothing crazy had happened.
I’m electric today, and out of sorts. Last night I went to my dermatologist who reported happily that I have no new skin cancers. Beta was a bit put out that she will not be removing any stitches anytime soon, but she’s happy that nothing noticeable is growing on my shoulders.
Except hair, of course.
Then my doctor asked, And how are you otherwise?
Boy, wrong question. It totally threw me. How do you mean, I asked, stalling for time.
Shit, I wondered, how am I?
How am I? Shit. I? How am?
Am? I? How?
It depends, I suppose, I said. What you mean. In which way. Which facet of my life and stuff.
I complained about my job a bit, but on the other hand, had to admit that my second, part-time job is fun.
I didn’t even mention the meditation and introspection and what all that’s stirring up.
Nor any of the other stuff. Jesus, I was crushed under a blinding cascade of on the one hand on the other hand.
She was probably sorry she had asked. Simple question, and look at him, I set off a chain reaction in his brain of some sort.
How are you otherwise?

So, yes

Walked through the winterized park near my office at lunch.
Walking for one’s health sounds like such an old man thing to do.
Tots bundled in quilted strollers and young mothers yapping in heavy coats. Exotic bushes wrapped in burlap.
One foot ahead of the other.
All my life, my feet have turned out. All my childhood this was an issue. I wore braces as an infant, like something out of Lemony Snicket, chrome and leather. Turns out, many if not most babies go through this and it usually goes away naturally.
Walking, just walking carefully, thinking of nothing but this, I notice my feet are nearly straight. They are perfectly normal.
I also wore shoe inserts as a kid, due to flat feet. Of course, my arches are perfectly normal as well.
It is quite cold, so cold that I wish I had a hat, one that wouldn’t give me hat hair, but not so cold that I can’t bear not wearing one.
So, yes, there is this. A stroll.

This morning I discovered something else: it is apparently very irritating to certain people? When they are sitting there drinking their tea at breakfast and a chipper and wide awake person who has already been up for 90 minutes? bounces in and tells them? all about the great meditation they had this morning?

It’s more complicated than that, but I won’t bore you. It’s just, I learned, in the mornings, like before 9 AM, don’t speak unless spoken to.