Monday, October 31, 2005

Sweet Caroline.

What can I say? New Hampshire is beautiful. I forgot to bring my digital camera, so you'll have to take my word for it. The entire group went to this conference. No, I didn't sleep on the floor. I stood my ground and made Senior Dumbass take the floor.

On Saturday night, our group had a party in a labmate's room. While I sat around, I noticed the high school mentality that seems so pervasive in this research group. The popular kids hung out with Prof. Bigshot. The losers were banished to sit the party out. Guess where Vavoom was? Yup, I was a wallflower extraordinaire. Even when I tried to talk to the "popular" guys, they wouldn't even acknowledge what I said. It was weird, I'd say something, they'd just look at me with a disgusted look on their face and continue conversing with one another.

I decided I'd leave the party and find some reasonable people with whom to spend my time. As I walked downstairs and into the bar, I saw Q. He was dressed up as one of the Crazy 88s from Kill Bill. He was all alone, staring down into his scotch. You'll remember that Q is pretty unhappy with the group.

V: Hey Q, how are you?
Q: Sad. Pretty sad.
V: Why? What's wrong?
Q: I just can't make friends with the people in our group. I can't do it. It's as if I don't even exist to them.
V: I hear you. I have the same problem. But, hey, there's a room loaded with people dancing next door. Why worry about, and waste your time with, people that don't appreciate you?
Q: I don't know... I'm just so miserable working around these people.
V: But we're not working now. They're not even here. Why let them determine your happiness? I'll say it again -- there are 100 people next door dancing and having a good time. Why aren't you one of them?

Q was quiet for a while. Suddenly he said, "You're right, Vavoom. Fuck those people upstairs. I'm going to be happy tonight." He chugged down his scotch and quickly walked out of the bar and into the ballroom. Five minutes later, I heard the music diminish. I got up and walked over to the dance floor. There I saw Q, up on the stage with the DJ. "What the hell is he doing," I wondered. Suddenly the music started again and I heard from Q:

"Where it began, I can't begin to know when
But then I know it's growing strong
Oh, wasn't the spring, whooo
And spring became the summer
Who'd believe you'd come along

Hands, touching hands, reaching out
Touching me, touching you
Oh, sweet Caroline
Good times never seem so good..."

He began singing to the entire party. It was amazing. Let me tell you, this had all the makings of a Napolean Dynamite scene. The entire crowd sang along with him. It was incredible, people were swaying back and forth with their hands in the air. At the song's conclusion, he received an uproarious ovation.

I could see it in his eyes, he was happy.

Why couldn't I follow my own advice? Why wasn't I up on the stage or on the dance floor? I went for a long walk outside. The air was cool and I felt alone. "Snap out of it, Vavoom," I kept telling myself. "No, not tonight. I'm not going to be miserable tonight." I ran back to the dance floor. When the party ended, I was still sad. At least for a couple hours, though, I was happy doing the train and the electric slide.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Headline News.

Have any of you watched a full half hour of CNN's headline news? Good Lord, it's terrible. It's clear that CNN has been trying to reach out to a younger demographic through headline news. I just watched them do a bit about whether or not a guy could beat a monkey in NFL picks. What the hell? Is stupidity really an effective outreach tactic for news organizations? What's your take on the dumbing down of mainstream television news?

In other news: The exam went well. Thanks for all of your kind comments. I'm headed up to New Hampshire this afternoon for a conference. I'll be there all weekend. I'm sharing a room with 3 of my labmates. Yes, you read that right, 3 labmates. I just received an e-mail from a labmate: "Guys, I just realized I screwed up. There are only two beds in our room. Since I scheduled the room, I think I'm entitled to one of the beds. We'll figure out who gets the other bed when we get there." I'm excited to see New Hampshire and I'm equally excited to find a room with a bed. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dressing Up Or Down?

I'm short on time today. As such I'll ask you the following "insightful" questions:

1) What are you going to be for halloween this year?
2) If you aren't going to be anything for halloween this year, what would you like to be? What are your kids going to dress up as?
3) Searching your personal history, tell me -- what was your best Halloween outfit?

My answers:

1) Sadly I have no costume this year.
2) Hurricane Vavoom. (A tough costume to make, but cool nonetheless)
3) I was once a gigantic slice of pizza. Now that was totally rad. (We used the word "rad" alot back in those days.)

Alright. Now it's your turn. C'mon, get involved!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Workplace Curse.

It's just not possible. I've tried and tried. I simply cannot get any studying done while I'm in the lab. Yes, I have a nice desk, I'm well isolated. Still, every 10 minutes someone is bothering me. "Vavoom, could you take a look at this?" "Vavoom, did you hear about so and so?" "Vavoom, would you like to shoot a poison arrow through my heart?"

I'm officially stressed out. I've got a huge exam tomorrow and I am nowhere near ready. Honest. I am sort of screwed. Thus, I'm staying home today and studying my ass off. It's sad, but staying home is my only chance. If I step foot into the lab, some craptastic waste of time will be foisted upon me.

Take yesterday as an example. I'm at my desk, trying to study. Along comes Prof. Bigshot, "Vavoom, can you give group meeting today?" "Uhhh... well... I have an exam coming up and I'd really rather not..." "Great, it doesn't have to be a long group meeting. I appreciate it." I don't think my polite "no thank you" even registered with Bigshot. Afterwards a labmate came by, "Vavoom, can you believe that Bigshot is making me help out with that grant? I mean, blah blah blah blah blah..." "I have an exam, dude. Let's talk about this later." "Oh, sorry. I forgot you were studying. You know, I remember when I was taking this class and Bigshot blah blah blah blah blah..."

Pray for me. An email has just shown up in my inbox. It's from Bigshot. The first line says, "Could you come by my office soon? I have an interesting idea for you." Please Lord, please. Let me just find time to study in a quiet place.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm Melting!


Q: What do you get when you combine remnants of Wilma and a powerful noreaster?
A: A very wet Vavoom.

Good God. Somebody has got to fix the sidewalks around here. Getting to work this morning resembled a steeplechase. I'm now walking around with that not-so-fresh-squishy-sneakers feeling.

I've never been a big fan of the rain. Color me negative, but I can't stand walking around, getting wet, while everyone insists on poking me in the eye with their open umbrella. Another thing -- if you're walking around with an umbrella and I'm not, please refrain from walking under awnings. You've got an umbrella. I have nothing. Give me at least 30 seconds of dry time under an awning. No, there really isn't enough room for two people to walk beneath it.

Here's the funny thing -- Prof. Bigshot always tries to play up how great the weather is here at Fancypants University. "Boy, oh boy... I sure love this little downpour... it brings so much character to the place." Right, right, everybody sopping wet, cold 40 mph gusts hammering you in the face whilst you walk. Character. Right. The best comment from Bigshot, ever: "Just think of all the work you can get done here in lab while the weather's like this... man, you guys are going to be soooo productive!"

In other news, I have a massive exam on Thursday. Massive. I can honestly say that the courses at Fancypants University are about as good as the weather here. At least I knew the weather would blow. The shoddy courses are rather surprising. I'm thinking of dropping an anonymous note to the instructor for one of my classes. During every episode of his class, Terrible Teaching 101, I feel like I'm getting sodomized with a tire iron. Yes, it's that bad. I'm trying to figure out some fun activities to do during Terrible Teaching 101. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Winter Of My Content.

I could bemoan my situation. I could lapse into a perpetual state of solitude and misery. I could decide to simply give in, be sad. Alternatively, I can do everything in my power to make the best of my situation.

I've chosen the latter.

I took the entire weekend off. I rarely rest. This weekend I needed it. I spent some time evaluating my situation. It's really not that bad. In fact, everything is fine. I've decided to do the following things to combat my despondency:

1) Exercise -- You heard me right. I even brought a gym bag to work with me this morning.

2) Hobby -- I need something that can help me take my mind off of the vicissitudes of graduate life. I've signed up for rowing instruction. Once a week I'm hitting the Charles River. Yes, I've traded in my surfboard for a boat. Let's see how it goes.

3) Labeling -- I have a tendency to label everything as "good" or "bad." No more. Rather, I'm going to accept the situation I'm in and continue to work hard. I've found that struggling against things I can't change expends way too much of my emotional fuel. You may now call me, Zen Master Vavoom.

4) Schedule, Schedule, Schedule -- I'm going to be much more diligent with my time. Often, I get wrapped up in frustrating discussions with frustrating people. That's a thing of the past. If you're not on the schedule and your pissing me off, forget it -- you're banned. I'm working towards the establishment of daily routines that will make things more manageable. Taking breaks is all a part of the schedule.

5) Be Forgiving -- Not just of others, but also myself. I'm pretty damn hard on myself and everyone around me. No longer will I focus on the shortcomings of myself and others. Rather, I'll look for the good in everyone and try to be more understanding of their flaws.

6) Stay Mindful -- Remaining observant of my emotional state has helped me, in a major way, in the past. Allowing myself to be engulfed by the day's drama, absent a watchful eye, has always been my downfall. I'll do my best to simply watch my emotional state. I won't judge it. For some reason, being aware of how I'm feeling helps me deal with it.

7) Right Now -- I'll let the past be the past and the future be the future. It's amazing how much energy I spend worrying about what has happened or will happen. It's all about the here and now.

8) Wash, Rinse and Repeat -- I'll do my best to remind myself of the above. Indeed, people are like pianos; we always need to be re-tuned.

Now it's your turn -- what sort of things do you do to combat sadness? What helps you keep your head on straight?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Moral Judgements.

There's a great article in the August edition of The Believer (my all time favorite magazine). It's an interview with Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. Haidt has an interesting notion of how humans make moral judgements. He postulates that "reason is the press secretary of emotions." To clarify, Haidt believes that reasoning comes only after a moral judgement is made. That is, we make our decisions based upon emotion or instinct first and then use reasoning to justify our judgements. From the article:

"Reason is still a part of the process. It just doesn’t play the role that we think it does. We use reason, for example, to persuade someone to share our beliefs. There are different questions: there’s the psychological question of how you came by your beliefs. And then there’s the practical question of how you’re going to convince others to agree with you. Functionally, these two may have nothing to do with one another. If I believe that abortion is wrong, and I want to convince you that it’s wrong, there’s no reason I should recount to you my personal narrative of how I came to believe this. Rather, I should think up the best arguments I can come up with and give them to you. So I think the process is very much the same as what a press secretary does at a press conference. The press secretary might say that we need tax cuts because of the recession. Then, if a reporter points out to him that six months ago he said we needed tax cuts because of the surplus, can you imagine the press secretary saying: “Ohhhh, yeah, you’re right. Gosh, I guess that is contradictory.” And then can you imagine that contradiction changing the policy?"

Do you agree with Haidt's hypothesis? Do we toil over moral matters merely to rationalize the judgements we've already made?

If you read the article, you'll also find that Haidt's hypothesis extends into the political arena. To what extent do you think moral motivation plays a critical role in American policy making? Do our notions of conservatives or liberals being "bad" make any sense, given that the policies of both sides are geared towards a perception of "good?"

Shameless.

I'm doing two shameless activities right now:

1) Finishing a problem set at exactly the eleventh hour.
2) Listening to Spandeau Ballet while doing #1.

I know this much is... true.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

You Make Me Sick.

I've been working on a bitch of an experiment since I arrived at Fancypants University. I'm pleased to report that I've finally got it working. I checked the data, it's all good. One would think such results warrant a slowdown in my schedule. Nope. In fact, now I have to step on it if I'm going to push my project through. There's talk of a solid publication, it's kind of a big deal.

In other news, I'm falling sick again. These virus monkeys, a.k.a. my coworkers have been spreading a terrible plague. I'm next, so it seems. I don't know why, but whenever I start getting sick I try and pull cheesy mind over matter crap. Here I am, sitting at my desk, pretending I'm Wayne Dyer, Anthony Robbins, Norman Vincent Peale and Zig Ziglar all wrapped into one -- "No, I'm not getting sick, this positive thinking is going to stop it. That's right, my immune system is unstoppable. In fact, I've never been sick before, yeah, yeah, that's right."

While I'm in denial, please send your care packages to:

Vavoom Q. Citizen
Department of Pseudoscience
Fancypants University
Anytown, MA 05321

I'll need loads of kleenex, orange juice, zinc lozenges and chicken soup. That's if I were getting sick... but we all know that I'm not going to get sick... yeah, yeah, that's right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What Drives You?

Man, yesterday was amazing. My advisor was extraordinarily nice to me. My labmates sung me happy birthday, gave me a monster gift and threw me a huge party. Afterwards, they all hoisted me up on their shoulders and carried me all the way home. It was amazing, I came home early and got plenty of rest.

No, it didn't happen that way. In fact, it was just the opposite. Take the antithesis of the above and that was my 30th birthday. I came home tired and monumentally unhappy. My parents called, I heard the story, but this time I had a different response. "Mom, who cares? Who cares about people? They're nasty, selfish and worthless. Why should I help anyone? Look at all the terrible people I work with... should I really help them? Aren't they just like everyone else in this world? I mean, what's the point? I can be as good as I want and that's not going to change anything..."

There was a long pause on my parents end. It was as if both were taking a deep breath. My Father responded, "What drives you, Vavoom?" "Huh?" "What drives you?" "Dad, what does that have to do with anything?" "What drives you? What keeps you around?" "Honestly, I don't know... I honestly don't know..." I broke down sobbing on that, my 30th birthday, "I just don't think life is worth it anymore..."

My Mother said, "Breathe, Vavoom. Breathe." My Father then said, "Find your center, son. Calm yourself." He continued, "You are right, there are plenty of bad people and no, the world is not necessarily a good place. I wonder though, what would it be like if people like you give up? What drives you, Vavoom?"

I thought for a while. I still didn't have an answer.

My Mother picked up the conversation, "When you were young, you used to put a cape on and jump off of our furniture and pretend you could save the world. Can't you still live that way, just focusing on one person at a time?"

I smiled. Something about that rang true. Maybe the world is bad. Maybe some people truly suck. Still, what's stopping me from doing my best and being good? Nothing.

The conversation ended with, "You know Dad, I do know what drives me." "Good," he responded. Funny, he didn't ask what that something was. I guess that wasn't the point of asking.

If you'll excuse me, I've just put my cape on. It's time to find some furniture to jump off of.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Today.

Every year, on October 18th, my Mother tells me a story.

In 1975, my Father was a graduate student. My Mother was a nurse. They were poor. Both worked long and hard. My father held 3 jobs -- he worked as a plumber, television repairman and janitor. On top of that he took classes, taught courses and conducted research. No, he didn't get much sleep. My Mother worked in a burn unit, assisting patients with unspeakable injuries. With three mouths to feed, they simply weren't able to save enough money to afford another child, much less it's birth. Health care didn't exist at the time for graduate students and their families.

My Father did everything he could. He saved every penny possible. By the time month nine hit, there just wasn't enough money. My Mother went into labor. He raced her and my three siblings to the hospital. My Mother remained in labor for 18 hours. The child was an emergency breach case. One wrong move and she and the child would not survive.

Hospital administrators told my Father that my Mother would have to be moved to a county hospital. "Please," my Father pleaded, "It's an abnormal breach case. I'll do whatever it takes. I'll pay this bill. I can give you my word -- that's all I have." The administrators insisted. A doctor walking past overheard the conversation. "Sir, is that your wife in labor in room 2?" "Yes," my Father replied. The doctor turned to the administrator and said, "She stays here. If you're worried about the bill, forget it. I'll pick it up." The doctor delivered the child, a baby boy. My Father later landed a well paying job and paid the doctor in full, just as he'd promised.

I have been told this story once a year, every year of my life. My Mother concludes the tale by reminding me, "Son, you came into this world through the kindness of a stranger. Remember that. This is the legacy that you must continue with all people. Show them the same kindness and generosity that our family received from that doctor. That is the debt that you must repay. Remember that."

On this, my 30th birthday, I celebrate not my life, but those of the people that have helped me make it this far. My Father and Mother, who worked so hard to provide. My Brother and two Sisters, who continue to help me find smooth passage through turbulent times. My Wife, who continues to amaze me with her unending love. My Friends, who have supported me and established themselves as part of my extended family. The good doctor that saved my and my Mother's life. Lest I forget, you the reader. Thank you.

Getting Physical

I just returned from getting a physical at the Fancypants University Clinic. The health care here is amazing. One problem -- I hate disrobing in front of strangers. I really hate it. Fortunately this was a routine check up.

When Dr. C entered, he asked for my medical history and proceeded to tell me that I've got a one way ticket to hell if I don't change my lifestyle. "Given your family's medical history, Mr. Vavoom, I think I'll need to do a full physical on you." "What the hell comes with a full physical," I asked. "Wait and see," he said. "I'll be back. In the meantime please disrobe." Damn it.

Having a discussion with a stranger is really difficult while sitting on a cold, waxpaper covered table. I kept trying to cross my legs or do something to bring some dignity to the situation. He began probing and poking around my torso. I couldn't help it, I was being difficult.

"Since you've disrobed," he added, "I'll go ahead and check you for a hernia." Now's my chance. I've always wanted to do this. Finally, I'll get over my fear of getting naked in front of a complete stranger. I stood up boldly, placed both hands on the waistband of my tighty whitey's, pulled down and yelled out, "BEHOLD!"

Dr. C immediately broke out in laughter. "Hey, you're laughing at my 'behold,' not my penis, right?" "Right, right," he responded as he proceeded to probe around my scrotum. The damn guy wouldn't stop giggling. "You're sure it's not my penis, you're laughing at?" "Yes, yes... I'm sure... I've never had a patient be so squirrely and then pull something like that before, that's all."

Then came the words no man ever wants to hear -- "Now, I'd like to do a colorectal exam on you." "A what!?" "It's not a big deal, really. I'm also worried you might have an ulcer and would like to get a stool sample." "You think you're going to stick your finger up my ass and reach all the way up to my stomach? No thanks. I'll pass." "Are you sure?" "Look, if you want me to poop in a cup that's one thing. I've never had anything shoved up my ass and I really don't think today is the day to give it a try. Besides, you haven't even bought me dinner."

I got dressed, went to the bathroom, pooped in a cup and handed it over to Dr. C, "It's some of my finest work, in that cup." "Let me tell you, Vavoom, patients like you are usually a big pain in the ass, but this has been one of the most entertaining and interesting physicals I've ever done. I'll see you in two weeks, right?" "Play your cards right, Dr. C and you might just get that colorectal exam..."

I left the room and could hear him laughing hysterically. I still think he's laughing at my penis.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Remark.

A friend of mine is a graduate student at a fancy university in England. He's teaching this term, and he puts his heart and soul into it.

He's also openly gay. His students recently took an exam. On one of his student's exams was written, "All homos should be shot. You people make me fucking sick."

My friend was noticeably shaken. "What should I do," he asked. "Why not report the little shit? Get him kicked out of the class, if not the university?" "I can't," he replied, "I mentioned it to the course lecturer and he said, 'That's what you get for being that way.'" My friend explained that the instructor told him he would not support any disciplinary action. The lecturer continued by telling him that "If you take this matter further, it will have a repercussion on your career."

It's this sort of crap that really bothers me. As students, we are beholden to faculty. They can literally make or break our careers. I feel bad for my friend. I honestly didn't know what to say to him.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Do We Care?

The earthquake in South Asia was certainly a catastrophe. Katrina was also a catastrophe. The death toll in South Asia is over 40,000. Katrina, over 1000. When I look at the way the media has handled both disasters, I start to wonder. Why is it that Katrina received major media coverage, where for days and days it was the top headline on major American media websites, while the earthquake in South Asia, on many media outlets, has become buried beneath headlines about idiots like Senators Bill Frist and Tom Delay?

Is American life more valuable than Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri life? Reach deep down, ask yourself -- was I more concerned about the lives of those left in Katrina's wake? We are the viewers and readers that major American media outlets cater to, after all. Is the lack of media attention to the rescue efforts in South Asia indicative of a problem with American attitudes or American media or both?

I haven't seen Bill Clinton or George Bush holding hands on television asking people to donate money to help these poor people. Last I checked, Hollywood stars aren't marshalling their efforts to help victims of the earthquake.

Granted, the tsunami received media attention and, yes, Hollywood came out in full force. The death toll from that catastrophe is 118,000 lives. Does a macabre threshold exist? Will we only pay attention to the loss of life in foreign countries when a hundred thousand people or more die? Note -- I'm discussing trends here. I know that many of you care deeply about the loss of all human life. Yet my main question remains -- on average, do we deem American life as more valuable than that of our foreign counterparts?

I discussed the tsunami death toll with a coworker this morning. His response, "Man... 118,000, huh? I'm glad we've forgotten about that one."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Open Sesame.

I'll admit it. I'm that guy in the elevator that listens in on your conversation. Today I overheard the most preposterous discussion ever:

G1: Yeah, my wife bought our kid one of them Elmo toys. Man, that shit is so expensive.
G2: Oh no way. There's no way I'm lettin' my kid watch Sesame Street or play with any of those toys.
G1: Whaddya mean?
G2: I mean, look at The Count. That fuckin' guy's scary. Bert and Ernie are certainly gay. Shit, Elmo promotes kids allowing strangers ta' touch 'em with all that "tickle me shit." Besides, do you want your kid to be learnin' stuff from some guy that lives in a garbage can?
G1: Man, maybe you're right... I never looked at it that way.
G2: I'm not kiddin'. Most of those kids shows promote lewd behavior. If I want my kid to learn and see nature and animals, I'll take him hunting with me. My kids aren't allowed to watch any kids shows.

Give me a break. It's one thing if you don't want your kid to watch Sex in The City or Cinemax's soft porn. Sesame Street? Please. What, is Big Bird's beak too phallic for you? I think people project their adult interpretations onto children's shows. Remember Jackass Falwell and his issues with Tinky Winky? Even now, people argue that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft and the occult. Never mind that millions of children are actively reading and using their imaginations. Perhaps we should burn those books. We wouldn't want our children practicing the dark arts. Better yet, we'd better burn our brooms. Kids could get hurt flying around on them, after all.

People confuse me. They don't pay attention to their child's educational and psychological growth and yet they focus on trivial matters. Sure, there's nothing wrong with being a poor role model for your child, but God forbid your child read The Catcher in the Rye. If you ask me, some parents have it all wrong.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Give.

Help those affected by the earthquake in South Asia. Please give whatever you can.

2 AM.

The walk home at 2 AM was unlike any other. The streets felt devoid of life, spare a bird sipping from a muddy puddle. I walked slowly, listening to the gritty, but soaked, substrate slide against the soles of my shoes.

Has it really been 12 years? It can't be. 12 years of this? Slugging my way through experiments, spending inordinate amounts of time in dark labs, praying for data to rain down on me like manna from heaven.

The morning was difficult. The afternoon was miserable. My evening was worse. Is it worth it? Can I honestly say I enjoy this anymore?

The questions continued. I stopped to light up a cigarette. The smoke billowed through the cool autumn air. Suddenly, the painful one hit.

Am I happy?

I looked to the sky, then back at the earth. I remembered a poem my father used to recite to me -- "Kabhi kisi ko mukamul, jaha nahi milta." (No one ever gets a perfect world.) The poem continues, "Sometimes you get the sky. Sometimes you get the earth."

Feeling bare of either, I continued my slow pace home. God, I feel so alone. These people are killing me. If it really is true, if I really am swimming with sharks, most certainly my love of scientific research is being eaten alive. God help me, I just don't know if I'll make it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Conqueror's Day!

Get out your smallpox, rape and systematic killing. Today is Conqueror's Day. Regale in Columbus' errant landing in the Bahamas and kiss your indigenous people goodbye!

Seriously, what's all this nonsense about? Sure, I'm glad there's a national holiday today... who isn't? But, really, do we need to celebrate Columbus? Can't we find a truly heroic figure to name this national holiday after? Hell, I'd be happier if we called today "Jimmy Carter Day." I'd be even happier if we named today "Take a Day Off Day." Columbus Day? What a joke.

I propose we rename this holiday. Send in your suggestions. C'mon, this'll be fun!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Peacefully Making A Point.

Why is the Nobel Peace Prize is such a farce? Time and time again, we've seen the prize awarded to individuals that are clearly undeserving (read: Kofi Annan, Yasir Arafat, etc).

Now this.

Yes, you'll claim that the reduction of nuclear arms is important. I agree. Really, has the International Atomic Energy Agency done everything it can to limit the spread of nuclear weapons? Are they truly deserving of a Nobel Prize? Recently, the peace prize has been given to make a point (read: Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines). Shouldn't the peace prize be awarded to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated lifetime achievments?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Good Doctor.

One of the many things I had to do yesterday was visit the orthopedic clinic at Fancypants University Medical center. I'm having huge problems with my feet and ankles.

Before entering the examination room, a nurse practitioner came by. "OK, I'll need all of you to take off your shoes and socks." Here's a confession -- I've got a wierd problem with my feet. When I was young, my siblings and I teased one another about our feet so viciously, that now I've got a complex about my feet. The nurse asked me to take my shoes off with two other people sitting next to me.

"Now... we should take off our shoes, now," I asked. "Please," the nurse responded. I looked over at the two people sitting next to me. Patient #1's feet were pretty banged up -- bunyans, callouses, etc. That left me and patient number two. I closed my eyes and began taking off my shoes. "Damn it," I kept whispering to myself. By the time my dogs were exposed, I heard the nurse say, "Goodness, you really should cut your nails." I looked up. Yes, she was talking to me. "Damn it."

Suddenly, I looked over at patient #2's feet. On her left foot was an enormous mole. You know, the hairy kind that induces panic and fear in anyone that's around it. I thought to myself, "Hey, my feet aren't that bad after all." I started strutting my podiatric stuff. "Yeah, you know it, you tell the story, you tell the whole damn world about my gorgeous feet!"

The doctor came around, gave each of our feet a quick look. Upon finishing with mine, the doctor said, "Mr. Vavoom, you really need to cut these nails. What is that, fungus?" Patient #1 and #2 started smirking. I wanted to tell the doctor, "Shhh! You'll ruin my chances of winning this little beauty contest."

When I was finally brought into the examination room, I realized that long toenails are temporary. Ugly feet are forever. By the way -- no, it's not fungus.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Prize in Chemistry.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been announced.

Sorry Gabor, maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hot Blooded.

I woke up this morning with the following song stuck in my head: "Yeah, I'm hot-blooded, check it and see... I've got a fever of a hundred and three... C'mon baby can you do more than dance? I'm hot-blooded, I'm hot-blooded!"

The lyrics to this song don't feel so foreign. (Shamefully, that pun was intended) I have a pounding headache and a high fever to the tune of 102 degrees. Indeed, I'm hot-blooded. I'm also coughing up large whitish green chunks of God knows what. I've learned that severe coughing does wonders for a pounding headache.

Unfortunately, I've got to turn in a monster problem set and finish an experiment today. I really must get this work done. I figure I can "Rambo" my way through this. I just wanted, for the record, to share with all of you my tough guy, "I'm too stupid to rest when I'm sick" routine. You've got that right, I'm going to power my way through this crap.

It's not so bad, at least I can spend my day dizzy at work. That should be fun. I can pretend that I've taken my narcotic of choice. I'm a big fan of the surreal. Have you ever had that wierd, "I'm sick and everything feels surreal feeling?" Holy crap, I'm getting that feeling right now! Who'd a thunk blogging could feel surreal?

Anyways, I'm off to a lovely day packed with dizzy adventures and phlegmatic dreams.

Physics Prize Announced.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was announced earlier today.

Here's my bold prediction. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be awarded this year to Gabor Somorjai at UC Berkeley. Anyone else willing to make a bold, Nobel Prize prediction? (Humor/sarcasm is also welcome.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Bummer Blog.

I've got to be honest. This blog used to be fun. I've taken the time to read through my most recent entries and, sheesh, this thing is depressing.

Gone are my entertaining stories about irritable bowels, comic books and fine music. Instead, I've taken a "woe is me" approach to blogging. Well, that's not what I wanted this blog to be about. The trouble is -- I've got nothing. I could write all about my recent escapades in the Fancypants University Library bathroom, the dog that damn near kills me every morning in the elevator, my two upstairs neighbors (both female) who sound like they're having a massive pillow fight every evening before bedtime.

I'm just not sure any of that is very thought provoking.

I could write about something political, but isn't that what every other blog out there is doing? I must admit, I feel guilty when I write about my everyday crap. Couldn't I find something more useful to write about?

Here's the question -- if you were me, what would you write about? What would you like to hear about? Tell me, how may I serve you?