I’m working on New Year’s Eve day, unlike some of you lazy-ass shmoes out there. Well, really, I’m not working working much since there ain’t hardly nobody in the office. But there is one nice women who came around and offer to buy anything anyone wanted at Starfucks.

Now, I’m one of those snobs/anti-franchise sprawl people who never go to Starfucks. (<--read that link. 'sfunny.) Their coffee sucks, and they have a Klingon-like aggression towards putting independent coffee shops out of business. Fortunately, their slimeball tactics don't always work. On Piedmont Avenue in Oakland they are the least favorite cafe. The most popular is Gaylord's, an independent shop with adorable baby dykes selling their wares. The hypocrisy in all this is I gladly patronize Peet's, which has become its own empire. But I digress. I thought I'd take the nice lady up on her offer, being it was FREE and I didn't have to walk into enemy territory. And I thought, well, maybe the coffee isn't as bad as I remember. So I ordered a decaf mocha. OH MY GOD. What is this shit in my cup? It kind of tasted like slightly bitter Nestles cocoa. And Nestle is certainly one of the most evil food corporations ever (tainted baby formula in third-world countries... anyone?). So it's NOT a good association. I drank it, of course, 'cause it was FREE. But thanks, office coworker, for reminding me to NEVER BUY STARFUCKS. When I was a kid, there was a satirical jingle kids used to sing based on the Winston cigarette commercial: Winston tastes bad
Like the last one I had
No flavor, no taste
Just a… 50 cent waste.

Here’s the original commercial:

I can’t believe I grew up watching shit like this.

I proposed this new version:
Starfucks tastes bad
Like the last one I had
No flavor, no taste
Just a … $3.50 wate.

And now, the classic monologue by THE GREAT LEWIS BLACK:

scientiest.jpgThis book, published in 2000, and found at my local library branch, is the first compendium of these scientists every published. How sad is that. Sadder still, the author notes that some of these scientists have fallen into obscurity. She marks those entries with a * in hopes that someone will read the book and submit more information for a future second edition.

However, reading this book, although it has heartbreaking passages, is anything *but* sad. The women of this book cannot be vanquished by prejudice and sexism. Most of them had talents in math and science or both, and even though they grew up well before the civil rights movement, went on to pursue doctorates. Think of the magnitude of their ambition: despite many universities not admitting women, or African Americans, or both, they persevered. They just didn’t let anyone or anything stop them from their goal.

I find their stories really inspiring. Maybe TOO inspiring. Maybe mania-inducing. Because even though I keep swearing, after every time I go back to college, that I am NEVER going back, this book is causing me to dream of going back to school — this time to study physics, which I’ve talked about here. I can only call these urges manias, because they are irrational and unproductive. But the desire to stuff my head full of information seems insatiable (read: maniacal). Hence this blog.

reading this:

World’s smallest storage device lies in the nucleus of an atom.

apple-pie.jpgMmmm. Pi. So tasty.

Recently our upstairs neighbor gave us some of her home-baked apple pie. But that really has nothing to do with this.

Recently I got a book out of the library about the history of pi. This book, written in the early 1970s, is as much as a rant about the stupidity of the mass of humanity, and against dictators and fascists, as it is a history of mathematics. In fact, as the book continues, it gets increasingly difficult to figure out what the agenda really is. If you read the reviews in the link above, you’ll see reader after reader saying pretty much just that.

pi-book.jpgHowever, if you look at the cover of the book, you’ll see the real nerd intrigue of the book: pi printed out to a few hundred places. Hmm. I know some people like to memorize pi. I wonder if I could?

In the span of a week, I’ve deciding to memorize the first 20 digits (since that was the first row on the book cover) to going for 50 (the second row on the book cover). Why? I have no idea. I cannot figure out why this kind of stuff appeals to me. I also have no idea why memorizing numbers is relatively easy for me but learning to read music is freakin’ hard.

pi1.gifThen I read something even nerdier in wikipedia. There are folks who create poems, called piems, as mnemonic devices to memorize pi. The first word has 3 letters, 1 for the second, 4 for the third, 1 for the fourth…etc. Now that’s some crazy shit. The longest of these is something called the Cadaeic Cadenza which has 3,834 words, corresponding to pi to the 3,834th place. What kind of insanity is this, I ask you?

I am NOT going to memorize that poem… I am NOT going to memorize that poem…I AM NOT GOING TO MEMORIZE THAT POEM.

3.141592653589793238462643393279… aw, crap, I forget the rest.

Thank god some people have nothing better to do than stay up all night creative YouTube remixes!

When you’re done dancing, you can watch these:

NASA gave me a hard time, too. Well, not directly. But still I know they can be quite stubborn.

It’s possible if it’s PJ Harvey. I dare you to try to take your eyes of of this!

316.jpgI think it it’s pretty easy when you’re young to believe in the mind-over-body paradigm. Meaning: your mind is stronger than your body, and if you believe in yourself strongly enough, and push yourself hard enough, you can do anything you want within the law of physics.

Conversely, I think it’s pretty hard to believe this much over the age of 40, unless you’re Jack Lalanne or some other superhuman nut.

Additionally, I think there’s no use trying to explain to someone under 40 that no, you can’t get your body to do anything you want.

(40, obviously, is shorthand for the onset of middle age, which comes at different times for different people.)

This is a dialogue that goes on from time to time in my circus classes. My latest instructor is much more thoughtful than most, and occasionally says something very interesting on this topic. In the last class I was telling him the great quote by my friend KW, to whit: There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re too old to do something. My instructor’s agreed and said, “Our culture has a problem with yielding.” I thought that was particularly well stated.

This week, however, he was trying to tell me that I could solve my chronic shoulder tension problem by wanting it enough. And I thought, oh geez, HERE WE GO AGAIN. I know he has no way of knowing how much effort I have put into solving this problem and how much his suggestion could (and would, and did) annoy me.

The presumptuous of the young: it’s impenetrable. I’m sure I was just as obnoxious, but thankfully I don’t remember all the stupid shit I said in my youth. Something my iron-clad memory seems to have let slipped away. Interesting, that.

In any case, I think the power-of-the-mind crapola is tied into our culture’s denial of death. If you have a strong awareness of the fact that your are going to decay and die, you know the mind has lots of limitations. All of us, though (me included), cannot and don’t want to fathom such a thing, really. Still, it’s very easy to feel immortal and omnipotent when there’s not a line on your face, and much more difficult when the sagging and aching kicks in.

Despite all this, I study acrobatics, and am probably the oldest beginning acrobat in the world. Because I can. Because accepting limitations — yielding — is not the same as rolling over and playing dead. Although that’s a very good trick if you’re a dog, it’s lame if you’re a person.

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