Today I learned an important lesson. If you make bread dough, it's not a good idea to clean it up with a scrubby sponge. The dough will become a permanent feature of the sponge. Detergent, and all of my sponge-cleaning techniques, proved useless. Perhaps I can bake and eat the sponge...
Somehow, the Peter Paul and Mary song "Day Is Done" doesn't make sense to me when things are going well. If you take it non-ironically, at face value, it doesn't seem to say a whole lot to me. "And if you take my hand, my son, all will be well when the day is done" seems to be making too weak of a statement. It's not enough just to hold hands; and the kind of "all is well" that comes from not-quite-assuaged sorrows at the end of the day isn't very good at all.
Where it really takes on a feeling of power is when I'm *not* feeling like things are okay. The feeling of being a parent, at wit's end, miserable, with precious little comfort to give *except* to hold a hand and hope that by some miracle it will be enough, and that all *will* be some approximation of well when the day is done. The kind of alchemy that turns "hopelessly little" into "just barely enough", night after night.
It's apparently stopped making sense to me again. I guess I will take that as a good sign!
Let's say you take a pill once a day, with a half life of 13 hours. Let's say you take it at 8 AM, and let's say that the effect you get right after that pill has finished being absorbed is 1.0. I'm just interested in relative numbers here, not absolute numbers of micrograms of drug per liter of blood here. So I'm setting that number to 1.0 as kind of an arbitrary thing.
Then, the effectiveness you'll see at various points in the day is:
0:00: 0.590 4:00: 0.477 8:00: 0.385 (right after taking the pill, it'll spike to 1.385) 12:00: 1.119 16:00: 0.904 20:00: 0.731
Let's say the half life is, instead, 19 hours. Then it's:
0:00: 0.956 4:00: 0.826 8:00: 0.714 (right after taking the pill, it'll spike to 1.714) 12:00: 1.481 16:00: 1.280 20:00: 1.106
Let's say you split that pill in half, and take half a pill at 8 AM and half a pill at 8 PM.
For a half life of 13 hours:
0:00: 0.855 4:00: 0.691 8:00: 0.558 (right after taking the pill, it'll spike to 1.058) 12:00: 0.855 16:00: 0.691 20:00: 0.558 (right after taking the pill, it'll spike to 1.058)
For a half life of 19 hours:
0:00: 1.219 4:00: 1.053 8:00: 0.910 (right after taking the pill, it'll spike to 1.410) 12:00: 1.219 16:00: 1.053 20:00: 0.910 (right after taking the pill, it'll spike to 1.410)
These numbers were gotten by first simulating 1000 days to get the levels up to an equilibrium, and then printing one day starting from there.
Someone asked me, a month or two, when the internet "went bad". Both he and I remembered the good times when people posted intelligent stuff on Usenet and (by and large) were nice to each other, and both he and I see the reality now where everything is full of youtube this and 4chan that and "wat lol" the other thing... but we were trying to figure out when that happened, exactly.
The answer I gave him at that time, after thinking about it a bit, was "2003, plus or minus two years". In other words, the transition started to be barely visible in 2001, was 50% complete (i.e. there were still healthy, thriving pockets of good stuff, but also pockets of the bad stuff that were also thriving) in 2003, and was 100% complete in 2005.
At the time I had that conversation, I didn't have any empirical evidence backing that up; it was just a snap answer. But with the digging through the pa-furry archives, I wonder if that constitutes any sort of evidence-based corroboration that 2005-2006 was really when everything changed. Maybe my original guess was off by a year or two, and maybe it was "2004 plus or minus three years" or something. But something around there, I think.
1. Every time I am listening to NPR and an advertisement for Cabot Creamery Cooperative comes on, they always pronounce it in such a way that I hear it as "Cabbit Creamery Cooperative". This amuses me.
2. I was talking with someone yesterday about community. I was trying to explain my feelings, and I think I expressed it fairly well by saying:
Community is important to me. Community, to me, means something egalitarian. The opposite of a clique. A community is something open, that you can find by googling the right search terms (if you google "bay area babyfur" you'll find our mailing list, and that's as it should be). And then you join and you're welcomed with open arms, and there are people there who will take the time to sniff at you and learn your story and learn about what makes you happy or sad, what you need. You're not ignored or left to sink or swim.
I would rather pour my energy into helping the community function well... I would rather that, than have my own personal set of close friends, because sets of close friends aren't open. They don't do "the new guy" any good.
Every year when I organize a trip to Revels, or any of the other things I do... I don't just ask my set of close friends. I post to the mailing list. Maybe I'll get someone who I really don't like, in the group. And they're welcome!! That's part of the deal. You post to the mailing list and whoever responds, gets included. Period. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
I visited my parents today for new years. It was overall a really good time; we all pitched in to help cook, my father built a great fire (which he's good at), and it was good to see them. But the thing that stood out the most for me was we put on a recording of Mozart's Requiem and sang along with it. We skipped the solo numbers, but we did every chorus. It wasn't planned, we just felt like doing it, and so we did it.
I dreamed last night that my big ice chest got confiscated. I also dreamed that I attended a church service in which the Latin hymns had been badly translated into English and included the word "fucking". The bells rang loudly, and crisply. I also dreamed that I was trying to follow directions in a crowded big-city downtown to get to a pagan bookstore that offered being-turned-into-a-dog services.
A couple of weeks ago, my parents and I went to a singalong Mozart
Requiem. That's a piece I love so much, so intensely, that I will
axiomatically drop everything in order to attend a singalong. I
was tired and overcommitted, but I wasn't about to miss it.
GROSS: So if I understand him correctly, what he's saying here is that it's the Antichrist, who's responsible for some people's belief that all the world religions are good, but that's just the Antichrist's deception.
Ms. TABACHNICK: Yes. And what they're saying is you cannot tolerate tolerance and that you cannot tolerate religious pluralism.
You cannot tolerate tolerance. I like that. It has a nice ring to it.
GROSS: Yeah, how does the conversion of Jews to Christianity bring about the end times?
Ms. TABACHNICK: This is a different end-time narrative than what many people may have been familiar with that comes out of fundamentalism where the believers are raptured prior to the horrors of the end time and the rule of the Antichrist.
And this, the believers remain on Earth, and that's one thing that makes it quite different. But another difference is what is holding Jesus back from coming to Earth is that there has to be a tipping point where a certain number of Jews in Israel reach out and call for Jesus to come as their messiah. And so that's what they were referring to at this Rick Perry event.
Both Don Finto and Marty Waldman, who were there, are involved in a network of apostles in this movement that have set up messianic training centers around the world, in places where there are significant Jewish populations.
I got a haircut today. The person who cuts my hair also happens to be the owner of the salon. I asked him a question, just because I was curious: "Is the beautician community in the bay area small enough that you all sort of know each other's names?"
His answer was long. I think I touched a nerve. He said that ten years ago, it was much more cooperative. People *did* know each other and chat with each other.
And, he says now people are more competitive. The camaraderie is gone. If your boss finds out that you've been talking to an employee of the salon down the street, he's not going to like it. He'll accuse you of giving away trade secrets. He says he's not like that and he makes sure that his employees are nice and friendly, but he's been really bothered by the changes he's seen in the last decade.
I love things I can get inside, and feel along with them as they work.
I love the high-frequency horns in my speakers, because I've had them apart and I know how they work. There's a big magnet, with a hollow part that runs the length of the core, and also a circular slot cut in the other end that's just wide enough for the coil to slip inside. If there's grit in the slot, or if something is misaligned slightly, it will rub. The coil and diaphragm assembly is a replaceable part that you can order online when it wears out. The magnet itself is big, heavy, and you really really hope it lasts forever. The surfaces of the magnets that the diaphragms are anchored to weren't molded that way, but were machined perfectly flat, along just the right axis, by the hand of someone skilled, using heavy tools, in some shop somewhere.
The diaphragm sits at the far end, and because of the size of the magnet, it doesn't take much current flowing through at all to really make it PUSH and PULL the air strongly, all the way through the hollow core of the magnet and out the other side. There's a cardboard gasket (which is helpfully stencilled "THIS IS A GASKET. DO NOT REMOVE"), and then the horn. Both the horn, and also the slotted cap at the interface between the diaphragm and the hollow core through the magnet, are shaped in very specific ways using math I wouldn't understand if it were shown to me. But I can look at the way the slots are cut in the metal, and I can imagine those slots in there in my mind's eye, even after the cover is put back on and the speaker is reassembled.
Listening to Pet Shop Boys, leaning my head close to the horn, I feel the surefooted strength of that big magnet. It's the lazy feeling of something with immense reserves of power that it's not even scratching the surface of. It purrs. I can sense that heavy cylindrical block back there. I think it's giddy with the joy of being exercised. It definitely adds its own character to the sound. The left and right speakers aren't exactly the same as each other, either, and that's okay. I've held both of the magnets in my hands. I've replaced the diaphragms and retightened their screws. I undid and redid the bolts holding them onto the horns over and over again, trying various tightnesses, until it felt and sounded right. They're living creatures, beautiful and deserving of empathy. I can think of a dozen reasons there might be small variations. None of those reasons bother me. They have their own personalities.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous:
I spent a long time in the tank of my toilet last weekend. The guts of the flushing mechanism had always been opaque to me. I knew on a very abstract level how it all worked, but there was still this uncomfortable feeling that the exact way it all fitted together was "just magic", and if it worked it was not due to anything I could take credit for, and if it didn't work I could do nothing to fix it. An uneasy standoff.
Last weekend I replaced both the flush handle (which is the thing that had actually broken) and also the flapper (which I discovered was on its last legs when I opened it up). The mechanical motions of replacing the failed parts were easy; but I spent a long time trying the float at different heights and watching how that affected things, and trying to decrease the likelihood of the chain getting tangled in itself where it connects to the flapper. I ended up wrapping some plastic wrap around that end of the chain, with a cable tie to hold it in place. That prevents it from bending in any way that might make it get caught. What I really feel like I gained from it was an intuitive, emotional understanding of how toilets flush. Now when I flush the toilet I *know* what's going on; I can visualize the forces that act on the various components of the system, and how they change over time. I can imagine the tension that the chain is under when the system is at rest; but that it is not free to act on because of the much greater pressure of the water keeping the flap closed. Then when the seal is broken, I can picture how the float bobs to the surface and only gradually falls down again as the water level lowers. Pressing my fingers lightly on the handle, I can feel the tension in the chain, and I know how the system that my fingers are touching will act in various different situations.
I was listening to NPR today about refugee camps in Somalia. They described places where every space you could fit a person, there were children -- starving, sick, crying children, in terrible pain, packed in every which way, three or four to a cot. They described camps that were dealing with an influx of 1500 people every day, and they said that that number is growing. They said they desperately need to build more facilities -- food infrastructure, shelter, latrines.
It touches on something that I've always felt deep inside me. We humans like to play at being organized, sanitized, abstracted. We put on clean clothes and go to the store and buy charcoal briquets to make nice organized barbecues.
But in the end, we're still mewling, scared animals who struggle blindly in pursuit of basic inputs and outputs (food, latrines) and are terrified of pain, sickness, death, loss, and being separated from the people we know will look out for us.
I don't get along well with people who operate at the "clean, neat, abstract" level. I can play-act at that level, but what's the point?