Friday, September 30, 2005

Brain wars


I'm kind of fascinated by the whole, left brain, right brain schism of our existence. Scientists (presumably using their left brain) discovered that the left side of our bodies are controlled by the right side of our brains and the right side of our bodies are controlled by the left side of our brains. Even more fascinating to me is that the right brain controls non-verbal reasoning and the left brain controls logic and verbal reasoning. In other words, the right brain is Captain Kirk and the left brain is Mr. Spock.

Here's a table showing how the left and right brains function:



LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS

uses logic
detail oriented

facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science


can comprehend

knowing
acknowledges

order/pattern perception

knows object name

reality based

forms strategies

practical


safe


RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
believing
appreciates

spatial perception

knows object function

fantasy based

presents possibilities

impetuous

risk taking


An interesting way to see firsthand what your left- and righthand selves look like is to combine images of your left face and right face together with mirror images of themselves. The results can be kind of disturbing as you can see by the images above created by my right brain. My right brain thought it was kind of cool, My left brain thought it was all a waste of time.

Considering all of us are being pulled around in two different directions most of the time, it is a wonder anything gets done. This is why one side of our brain usually dominates. More often than not, it is the left brain that calls the shots.

Experiments have shown that our right brains are most prominent in us as children before we enter school. Then, because our educational systems are geared towards more left brain skills such as math, logic and language then drawing and daydreaming, our left brains start to take over. Only ten percent of the population will rank in the "highly creative" category by age 7. By adulthood only two percent of the population remain highly creative.

Makes you think. But keep in mind that only one side of the brain can control consciousness at a time. This presents an interesting dilemma. It means our brain halves are constantly vying for control of what we are thinking. If you really want to get in touch with your right brain, you have to put the left brain to sleep with meditation or reality television. This is because the left brain gets bored easily without lots of stimulation. Once the left brain dozes off, the right brain starts playing and giving us great insight into things like the meaning of life. Bummer is, the left brain quickly wakes up and tells you it is all a load of rubbish.

Don't tell my left brain, but I think I like my right brain better. It likes to do fun stuff like bungee jump and ride roller coasters. Unfortunately it also likes to watch television programs like Bridezilla and the Real Gilligan's Island. I never said my right brain had any taste.




Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Arriba! Arriba! Andale! Andale! YEEHAH!

I was originally going to call this entry, "Wireless my ass..." but discretion got the better of me. I figured I'd get too many unwanted hits if I called it that.

Now that I have got that off my chest, I want to state that I have sucessfully installed DSL at home and now I understand what all the fuss has been about. Speed rules and dial-up sucks.

For some reason, I had never ventured into high-speed Internet at home. I've always had it at work. Sure, dial up seemed painfully slow, but I don't spend that much time surfing at home and dial-up was pretty simple to master. And as I've mention many times, I don't deal well with change.

But snce we have moved into a new house, it seemed like the right time to ratchet my Internet connection up a notch. I despise cable companies, so I decided to go DSL. I did my research and discovered that my existing ISP could provide it through Verizon. I don't profess to understand it, but essentially DSL uses telephone lines to provide broadband Internet access and you keep your phone line open.

It seems simple enough, but I've been around long enough to know that anything high tech doesn't happen simply. But with DSL, I was wrong. I ordered it, they sent me a modem, I plugged it in and it worked. I click on Internet Explorer and it pops open with all of the bells and whistles in seconds, not minutes. I open my e-mail and receive me messages immediately. It even seems faster than the connection I have at work.

One catch: I needed to provide Tess with DSL, too and her computer is in another room. So I was forced to venture into the geek world of home networking. Again I did research and waded through all of those terms I've heard IT people banter about for years: routers, hubs, PCL cards and USB adaptors. And despite my adventure with surroundsound with wireless rear speakers, I decide to set up a wireless network to share DSL between our two computers.

I hoped this would be as simple as connecting the DSL. On the surface it seemed as though it should. I bought the router. I bought a USB wireless adaptor. The theory is that the DSL modem plugs into the router. The router plugs into your computer. The wireless adaptor plugs into the computer you want to network with. You turn them all on and boom, you should share DSL and the world is one big, happy place.

I discovered that the DSL gods were simply toying with me when the DSL modem worked when it was simply plugged into my computer's humble Ethernet port. I swear I followed all of the directions (which with today's plug and play tendencies, even a Monkey Playing Cymbals could follow them). I popped in the install CD with the "Wizard" to walk be through the installation. I plugged in the proper cables to the proper sockets and followed all of the mindnumbingly basic instructions. All of the right green lights came on the modem and router. But apparently, the router was feeling selfish about sharing the Internet connection. No matter how many times I rebooted and turned the modem and router on and off, I was unable to access my DSL unless it was directly connected to my computer.

I don't claim to be an electronic genius. I don't claim to understand why or how a wireless network works (or doesn't work). But am probably a tad more savy about technology than the average consumer. There has got to be a better way to make one computer talk to another in the other room without calling in a Geek-for-hire, which is likely what I'll end up doing.

Is it wrong of me to just want things to work. I just want to turn on the computer and surf the net and I just want Tess to be able to turn on her computer at the same time and connect to the Internet.

So I guess this is a cry for help to my nephew R who I'm sure understands all of the technology and speaks the language. Please R. I know I shoved your face into a piece of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving when you were 10 years old or so. But it was done with the love of a an uncle who wanted to prepare you for the cruel world out there. Please tell me how to make my Linksys Router work.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I ain't lion to ya...



I've had a few e-mails and comments lately from people who were doing searches on Google and found one of my archived blog entries. Here's one comment I received this morning:

I don't even know you, I just googled "something died under my house what do i do?" My point is, I sympathize with you my friend. I just bought my first house and it is wearing me out. I'm in Houston, TX and something has died under my house. I too would rather endure the wretched smell than crawl under my horrific crawl space and come nose to nose with some decayed vermin. The thing that makes mine worse is that I woke up this morning and my kitchen floor is covered with magets. It is def. the most horrific thing I'[ve ever seen. They are crawling out from every crack and cranny. I've been sucking them up with my shop vac all morning. My housewarming party is on 10/01. I feel like burning the m/f down. -- Posted by Anonymous to Dizgraceland at 9/26/2005 07:56:15 AM

I received an e-mail yesterday from someone who had found the Monkey-Playing-Cymbals blog and wanted to know if I really owned the monkey. They then proceeded to tell me about their own monkey playing cymbals and how they had bought it a Fez to cover up a bald spot.

I hope my Monkey Playing Cymbals doesn't find that out. I'm not even sure where you find a Fez his size.

Regardless, it's nice to know that my blogging efforts have touched people's lives.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Bad habits


I suppose "bad habits" is a bit over stated. It just seemed to match the photo better. I was just thinking this morning about how easy it is to become set in my ways about doing things a certain way.

I have been riding the train to work for about a month now and already I have got into the habit of parking in the same spot at the station, standing at the same spot on the platform and rushing in when the train doors open to sit in the same seat. The other day someone was sitting in "my" seat and I almost screamed at them. If I was a dog, I think I would have lifted my leg and marked the damned seat right then and there.

But I am a civilized individual. I just muttered and glared and slunk off to find another seat that I'm sure belonged to someone else as well.

I think we cling to our petty little patterns because there are very few things we can actually control in our lives. And I've never been an individual who embraced change for change's sake.
This is ironic since I also get bored easily.

This is not to say that it is impossible for me to change or break habits. I chewed my fingernails for almost 45 years and then stopped last spring before my wedding because I was ashamed of how my fingers would have looked in the wedding photos of our hands and rings. I haven't chewed them since.

I also used to be a notorious packrat. I couldn't throw anything away. The past six months or so of merging households and moving into a new house has really changed that. And it's not just circumstances that have changed. I don't want tons of stuff anymore. Proof: on my recent trip to Reno, I didn't buy a single tacky souvenir. In the past I would have come home with at least two t-shirts and a clock with dice on the dials.

Maybe it's an age thing. My priorities are shifting along with my body parts. But at least I think I'm proving that, although you may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, you can at least paper train him.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The future is tomorrow's past


That title is just trite enough to make it on a bumpersticker. I'm not really big in predictions of the future anyway. Being a proponent of the theory that we live in a universe of many universes in which an infinite number of realities are taking place simultaneously, I don't think predicting the future makes sense. Even if you could predict the future, who is to say it would be for the world you are living in at the time.

This is not to say that I think that what happens in the future is random. I think you can have a pretty good idea what is going to happen next based on what happened last. We build our lives progressively based on what actions we've taken before. So, this argues for planning for the future but accepting that we can't really control it completely.

I suppose this discussion is a pretty good follow up to my blog about discovering the meaning of life. There was one section in the meaning of life Web site that addressed the question of why bad stuff happens to "good" people. You could simply say, "shit happens" and shrug it off or you could start looking for meaning behind it. Someone inevitably says, "things happen for a reason." I would humbly suggest that there is a reason why things happen, but they don't necessarily happen for a reason.

For example, several years ago an acquaintance of mine's brother was sitting at a stop light in downtown Seattle in a Volkswagon bug. Before the light changed a Chevy sedan crashed through the side of a fifth floor parking garage and fell on the Volkswagon bug, killing the unfortunately driver. The reason the Chevy sedan flew off the parking garage was that the driver had a heart attack and lost control of the car. A few seconds earlier or later and the Volkswagon would likely have been on it's way and the driver would have been unaware of the tragedy.

The point: it didn't happen for a reason. There was no moral judgement being cast. As far as we know, neither driver was a bad person. Oh, perhaps the person who had the heart attack could have taken better care of themselves. Or maybe the driver of the Volkswagon could have chosen to take the bus, but there was no supernatural malice involved.

It makes you think, though. Despite your best planning efforts for the future, you never know when a car (or a house as the "wicked" witch of the East discovered) will fall on you and change your future. But you can't plan for the unexepected or you would be afraid to leave your house. And even if you never left your house, who is to say it won't be the house that falls on the wicked witch?

So to use as many cliches as I can, that's life. You play the cards you are dealt. You got to know when to hold and know when to fold. If life gives you lemons, squeeze them. Or something like that.

The important thing is to keep going. Then again, we are all going to die eventually. But what is death? Death, my friends, is the topic of another blog entry...in the future.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I am Tim-Elvis' Spleen


Hi, as the title suggests, I am Tim-Elvis' spleen. He asked me to be the guest blogger and write a short essay about what it is like to be a spleen. He said to me, "Okay spleen, you got some 'splainin' to do." Tim-Elvis says things like that alot.

As organs go, spleens aren't very large. I am about the size of a fist. I am located in the left side of Tim-Elvis' abdomen below his diaphragm. Although small, I do have a large blood supply. That's because my job is to clean blood. I am a cleaner, kind of like that Harvey Keitel character in Quentin Tarantino's movie Pulp Fiction. I thought that was pretty good movie, particularily as a comeback film for John Travolta. Though I thought he peaked when he played Vinny Boberino in Welcome Back Kotter.

But, like Tim-Elvis tends to do, I digress.

My other job as a spleen is to make special cells called antibodies, which are used to destroy germs. I also make a type of white blood cells (called lymphocytes).

As a blood cleaner, I take out foreign substances from Tim-Elvis' blood and remove worn out blood cells. I'm kind of like a border guard. It's actually kind of fun to mess with germs. I stop them and they are always asking to see my badge. I of course reply, "Badges, badges? I don't need no stinkin' badges." This is spleen humor.

I also regulate blood flow to the liver. The liver is pretty demanding, too. All day and all night, it's, "Hey spleen, how about some more blood." Geez, give me a break.

That's about it. I mean spleens are important, but we don't get all the publicity like hearts or livers or lungs. I'd like to see them do my job, though. The stupid heart has never had to clean anything in it's life but what an ego.

Anyway, that's about it for Tim-Elvis' spleen. I'm just a mean blood-cleaning spleen.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Riddle: What grows on a phone tree?

Answer: you do (old that is)

I am sitting here on hold waiting to talk to a customer service person about a mortgage accelerator program that will pay off my home mortgage when I am 70 instead of 76. I imagine I will appreciate that when I am 70, but right now it seems purely symbolic.

But, my mortgage isn't the subject of this blog entry. It's the blasted Kenny G sound alike music I have listened to for 10 minutes in between the recorded voice telling me to remain on the line for the next available agent who I bet is really standing in the hallway out side the restroom talking.

I suppose it is passe to write about being placed on hold waiting for a customer service person. It is inevitable. I might as well write about losing socks in dryers or lines at the post office. Besides, it was just something to pass the time while I sat on hold waiting and wondering whether or not to hang up and lose my important place in queue.

It would make an interesting Twilight Zone, though. Say, you were on hold for 30 minutes and finally hung up. A few minutes later the phone rings and the Kenny G music plays. An announcer comes on the phone and berates you for hanging up, because after all, YOUR CALL IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US.

That would be cool.

What would also be cool if you only had to give all customer service people one number or password and it gave them all the information they needed so you didn't have to remember account numbers, loan numbers, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, dates of your cat's birthdays and the number of can goods in your cupboard. Is it little wonder that things get screwed up? All you have to do is transpose one number and the system grinds to a halt.

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more...at least as soon as I get off hold.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I've discovered the meaning of life



Well, actually I found a (or the) Meaning of Life (or What's it All About?) Web site with Google. The site is also available in Spanish (apparently English and Spanish speaking people are the only ones currently searching for meaning). There is no introduction and no explanation as to who developed the site nor why. The Web address references Diogenes, a Third Century biographer of Greek philosophers.

The site starts with a list of questions to the reader as to why they are searching for the meaning of life. The freaky thing about the content of this site is that it is pretty dang enlightening. It's intelligent, funny and not the least bit condenscending. And from the style of writing, I'd hazard a quess that the author is British.

That being said, I'd highly recommend all of you searching for meaning to check out the site. It's pretty heady stuff, though, so read and digest it in small doses. My head is still spinning.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities



I left my hotel in Salt Lake City at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning to get to the airport for an 8 a.m. flight to Reno. After four days without coffee, I thought I was hallucinating when I saw a Starbucks near the gate. At least my faith was restored that even the Mormon church couldn't keep the McDonalds of coffee out of Utah completely.

The flight from Salt Lake to Reno is only about an hour and ten minutes. But the cities are culturally (and I suppose technically morally) years apart. It has been eight years since I was in Reno. I used to go there every year to visit my friend Mike. He worked at Harrahs. When he quit and moved back to Seattle, I ran out of excuses to justify going to Reno.

Reno is hard to describe. My first trip there was when I was 21 years old. Compared to Boise, Reno was a sophisticated Metropolis. I remember being particularly impressed by my first casino cabaret show. It was in Harold's Club (long since closed and torn down). The show was called Bordello and the opening song was, "If you want to see my bosoms, you have to pop my balloons." A couple of chorus girls clad only in balloons and g-strings ran through the audience and let each person pop a balloon. When you are 21, that is pretty cool.

Reno used to be the blue collar Vegas. If you wanted upscale, you went to Tahoe. If you wanted down and dirty, you went to Reno. Reno was pure in the sense that you always knew pretty much what you were getting...a $1.99 Prime Rib and Eggs at 3 a.m.

Reno has changed. The Nevada Club followed Harold's Club into oblivion. The MGM Grand became the Reno Hilton. The downtown Hilton became the Phoenix. They built a bowling convention center that looks like a bowling ball. The Eldorado has been joined by Silver Legacy and linked directly to Circus, Circus. You can literally enter the Eldorado and walk inside for three blocks through the Silver Legacy and into Circus, Circus without ever going outside.

And the casinos have changed. Gone is the sound of slot machine handles being pulled and nickels clanking into trays. Most of the games now accept currency and pay off in tickets that can in turn be slipped into other machines. Almost all of the machines are video versions of slot machines with complex themes and incomprehensible payoff tables. Deceptively, they claim to be penny or nickel machines, but maximum bets of 10 or 15 coins per line for 15-20 lines can add up to $2 or $3 dollars a spin.

They've even managed to replace those minimum wage change people and cashiers. If you have any credit left on the coupons, you can slip them into yet another machine that dispenses cash. It makes me wonder where those poor souls who used to take those jobs ended up.

I suppose it was inevitable. Reno never could compete with Las Vegas for glitz and glamour. And now that huge casinos have cropped up on Indian reservations throughout the country, there's no real reason to hassle with airports to go to Reno. I think it's only a matter of time until the biggest little city in the world becomes the biggest little ghost town in the world.

And that makes me sad. Because I'll always associate Reno with being 21 and dazzled by the promise of being an adult. But I did have one brief glimpse of the past when I was in Reno this trip. I walked into Cal Neva, one of the last bastions of the old school casino. And although they too had replaced most of the one-armed bandits with video games, I found a singled slot machine that paid off in actual silver dollars and you could actually put single quarters into it and pull a handle. On the fourth or fifth pull, the reels lined up and a single Silver Eagle plunked into the tray. It was shiny and new and I slipped it into my pocket and walked away a winner.

Maybe there is hope for Reno after all.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fear and loathing in Salt Lake City: Day two

I haven't really seen much of Salt Lake City since I've been here. I rarely get out much when I go to conferences. I usually just order room service and hang out in the room. It is a very nice room, but a little heavy on the Victorian parlour decor for my taste.

I managed to walk around a bit yesterday. I still haven't had a cup of coffee, but I found a mini-mart at a nearby gas station and bought some diet Pepsi's to keep the caffeine monkey off my back (and I don't want to hear any smart remarks from you, Mank the Spank).

I can't even go walking around this afternoon. There is a nasty thunder storm in progress. I can't help but wonder if it isn't a sign prompted by my nasty remarks yesterday about the Mormon church.

I must admit that the ads appearing at the side of my blog today are focusing on Mormon dating sites. That cracks me up.

I've talked to Tess and she misses me but tells me the cats haven't said anything about me being gone. Cats are like that I guess.

Oh, another thing that is freaking me out here is that all of the hotel staff are friendly. There is something amiss here. They are always asking me if everything is okay and is the room alright. Shoot I've stayed at hotels in other cities where you are lucky if they make up the room every day let alone check on you to see if everything is okay. I suppose I could demand a coffee maker in the room. Then the room would be okay.

Must find a Starbucks.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Belly of the beast

I am in Salt Lake City. And no this is not a vacation. Salt Lake City was right up there with Rock Springs, Wyoming with places I wanted to see before I died (incidentally I have been to Rock Springs). I am here because I was asked to speak at a conference here at the Grand America Hotel.

I grew up in Southern Idaho, so I am quite familiar with the Mormon Church. To this day, while driving I involuntarily swerve towards anyone I see riding a bike with a backpack wearing a short sleeve white shirt and a tie.

I don't like dissing on other people's religious beliefs. But I'm sorry, the Mormons are more of a cult than a religion and this city was built by the Mormons. First there is a Book of Mormon in my hotel room drawer. Second, there isn't a coffee maker and the mini bar doesn't have any booze in it. Is that sick or what?

I went for a brief stroll past temples and church administration buildings and banks of Zion and the Dessert Book Store and was stunned at the influence of the Mormons here. I went past a souvenir shop that had a t-shirt with a smiley face on it that read, "I like Mormon Girls." I'm not making this up. It was right next to a shirt that read, "LDS Basketball games: Where prayer comes before the brawl."

I haven't tried to get a drink here, but apparently you have to join a "social club" and pay a fee in order to have a drink at a bar. And nothing is open past midnight.

And the people...there are these wholesome looking young blond men and women everywhere. The hotel is like something out of Stepford Wives. It's really starting to freak me out.

But I have to go back to the conference now. Pray for me...er...or don't pray for me, please!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I am a simple man

I am a simple man

Perhaps this is why I had quite the time this weekend installing my surround sound system with the wireless rear speakers. First, I must as usual clarify things before I continue with my story.

We bought a 50-inch LCD HD television last weekend from Sears. It was a floor model and I determined it was a pretty darned good buy. Though transporting it home without a box in the back of my pick up was pretty dicey. Since the monster truck moving experience back in May, I’m not big on transporting things I really value.

You can’t have a big screen television without a surround sound system. Because to have the total “home theater” experience, you need to have Dolby sound. Though to have a true “home theater” experience, I’d have a bunch of fat people coming into my family room about ten minutes after I’ve stared a DVD, talking loudly and dropping popcorn all around. And then they would have to sit next to me and talk to the screen and each other throughout the movie.

But I’m waiting on investing in the “fat, obnoxious moviegoer” package. In the meantime, I went back to Sears and bought a reasonably expensive surround sound system with wireless rear speakers to avoid those nasty speaker wires that you run everywhere because you are too lazy to hide them under the carpet. I could have lived with the wires, but Tess has made it clear in an unspoken kind of way that aesthetics come first in home d├ęcor. So I voluntarily went down the wireless rear speaker route.

Okay, “wireless” is a misnomer (a nice word for bullshit). The rear speakers have wires that connect to the wireless “receiver” that must sit in the back of the room. It picks up the signal from the surround sound/DVD player in the front of the room.

Now that I have all of that cleared up, I’m going to make a plea for universal, color-coded connections for all audio/video equipment in the world. I almost cried when I looked at the back of the surround sound box and then at the back of the television. There are close to 40 different input/output jacks, all begging you to plug something into them. It’s like a frigging riddle out of a James Bond movie:

“Your challenge, Mr. Bond, is to connect the surround sound system to this 50-inch television and actually get sound out of all five speakers in less than two days or we fill the room with 1000 gallons of water and release hungry sharks.”

Of course, I also have to throw the satellite receiver box into the equation to make all of the connections even more incomprehensible. So, I sat on the floor with all of the cables and speakers in front of me and flipped through the instruction manual which devoted a good portion of the pages urging me not to submerge the DVD player in water.

Okay, after a couple of hours of inputs and outputs, digital signals versus analog, S-Video ports and docking stations, even the most macho guy will start to sob. Every now and then Tess would walk through, shaker her head sadly and leave to unpack more boxes.

For a few brief moments, sound came out of the speakers and then the unit would flash “Check Rear Speakers.” Of course it was the blasted “wireless” puppies that weren’t cooperating. I read the section entitled, “Resetting the rear wireless speakers in the even the unit flashes ‘Check Rear Speakers’.” It suggested reciting poetry and trying again. This didn’t work.

I am going to add the person who designs remote controls to my list of people who deserve to burn in hell. Why do we need so many buttons? There should be three or four buttons that say, “play,” “stop,” “loud” and “Really loud.”  And then I found a hidden compartment on the front of the control that slid back and revealed even more buttons that had mysterious symbols on them. I swear one of them could possible launch a nuclear attack on Albany.

So, I lay there sobbing on the floor trying to get sound out of the surround sound system until Tess came in, patted me on the shoulder and urged me to try again in the morning after I’d had time to calm down. I went to bed and dreamt of coaxial cable and input/output jacks.

Monday I woke up determined to hear sound coming out of my big screen television the way god had intended it to be heard. I checked each and every speaker connection and reset the wireless receiver in the back. Then I checked the connections on television, satellite receiver and DVD/surround sound box. I turned it on and prayed. Nothing.

I picked up the remote and stared at it, waiting for a sign. Then something told me to try something unheard of (no pun intended). I pressed the volume control and wonder of wonders sound began pouring out of the front speakers and sound effects from the rear speakers.

I now believe in miracles.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Patterns


I tend to think that there are definite patterns that repeat themselves in our universe. Take fibonacci numbers, some say all nature corresponds to a mathematical formula expressed by a numbering system based on the rate at which rabbits multiply. Oddly enough, bunny rabbits seem to pop up in my blog a great deal. This is a pattern.

But I digress.

The above composite photograph shows a recent pattern I discovered when browsing through some photographs from an Alaskan cruise Tess and I took a year ago. I was struck by the totem figure's resemblance to the Michelin Man and the Pillsbury Doughboy. I was also going to include the Stay Puffed Marshmallow man, but you can't find any decent photos of him on the Web except for video captures from Ghostbusters.

I wonder sometimes if the poor nutjobs we see on the street muttering and pacing off stretches of the sidewalk aren't really tuned into some elabortate pattern that "sane" people can't discern. I suppose "nutjobs" isn't a very nice way to refer to these people. I imagine they are more accurately referred to as suffering from:

schiz·o·phre·ni·a
n.
  1. Any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances. Schizophrenia is associated with dopamine imbalances in the brain and defects of the frontal lobe and is caused by genetic, other biological, and psychosocial factors.
My limited knowledge of schizophrenia (enhanced here by the good people at www.answer.com) would lead me to believe that schizophrenics simply are tuning into a different "test pattern" then the rest of us. But I must admit, answer.com's definition of schizophrenia could be applied to a great many of the people I deal with on any given day.

But again, I digress.

I am fascinated by the patterns I see in things. For example, I am fascinated that on a daily basis, if you pay attention, you will see at least one reference to Elvis. I know I do.

Or, say you are looking for a new car. And you have decided you really want a Volkswagon Beetle (I'm not sure why you would decide this, but there is no accounting for taste). Odds are, once you decide to buy a Volkswagon Beetle, you will see them everywhere.

I for one, am amazed by this. But then again I'm also amazed that Dog the Bounty Hunter is coming back for another season.

There's got to be a pattern in that, too.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Anonymous Anonymous

We watched the movie Being There with Peter Sellers last night. I'd seen it years ago, but Tess had never seen it. I found the movie as relevant today as it was when it was first released in 1979.

Being There is based on a novel by Jerzy Kosiniski. The plot is simple:

A simple-minded gardener named Chance has spent all his life in the Washington D.C. house of an old man. When the man dies, Chance is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television. After a run in with a limousine, he ends up a guest of the wealthy owner of the limo (Eve) and her husband Ben, an influential but dying businessman who is also one of the political power brokers in D.C. Now called Chauncey Gardner, Chance becomes friend and confidante to Ben, and an unlikely political insider. Chauncey quickly becomes a celebrity and ends up counseling the president of the United States (Chauncey is actual so simple-minded that he generally only parrots back what is said to him). The movie ends with the implication that Chauncey has a good chance of becoming the next president of the United States.

What intriques me about this movie is not the inside joke about any old fool being able to become president in the United States. We already know that. It's Chauncey's total lack of ego or desire to be famous that makes it inevitable that he will be famous. Chauncey doesn't even draw a distinction between being on television via a camera in the window of a electronics store and being on the Tonight Show.

This made me think about all of the people out there who really want to be famous and go to great lengths to become famous, but never quite make it. Or the people who are really quite remarkable for many reasons but are never acknowledged in life. This also made me think about blogging. Electronics and the Internet have enabled everyone and their proverbial dog to slap up their words and photos and potentially be seen by millions of people. But it is the sheer volume of people jockeying for attention on the Web that I feel, dooms everyone to anonymity. We literally can no longer see the forest for all of the trees.

Oh, some blogs create blips on the media radar for an instance and then slip back into the boiling pot of billions of blogs. And most blogs eventually develop a small circle of readers. But acquanting the average blog following to fame is a bit like Yertle the Turtle thinking he ruled all that he could see. Eventually humilty forces everyone to see they simply rule their own little corner of the universe and it is pretty darn insignificant in the scheme of things.

But that's okay. Even Lucifer knew it was better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.