hereticalphysicist
Sunday, October 24, 2004
  Moniker

I've been thinking about changing this blog's name. I mean, "heretical physicist" sounds really cool, but it's kind of pretentious. I'd like to be "parity violator" instead, because that also sounds really cool, but it seems a little too dramatic. Would it be too dramatic or pretentious to appeal to my readers for some input?

I would like to think that somebody reads this regularly besides Mike, and he has to read it. I hope that if I maintain this and blog regularly, people will want to return. "If you build it, they will come."

Maybe no one will care. I can just make my own decision then, which I might do anyway. I can keep talking into the void forever.
 

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Saturday, October 23, 2004
  Talkie

I come from the South originally, but one year I moved to Maine. I was in 3rd grade then, so I guess it really was that my parents moved to Maine. At school, I was called out of class to have a session with the school speech counselor--the lady who worked with all the kids with speech impediments. I wasn't aware that I had a speech impediment, but she kept working me, telling me how to move my mouth and what sound would come out. I never thought any of this sounded right, and I never changed my speech. I realized later that it was actually my Southern accent that she mistook for a speech impediment.

Since then, I've pretty much rid myself of the Southern accent. Sometimes I want it back, but I really prefer talking like a newscaster. However, one language problem I've never been able to get rid of is saying "like" all the time. This isn't associated with my Southern accent, it's just a bad habit, and I don't do it when I have to speak like a smart person. It enters my common speech quite a bit, and people have always given me a hard time. I admit, it sounds a little ditzy, but people know that I'm a smart person with (I hope) smart things to say. I don't really see much point in correcting it, but I usually try to concentrate on conveying my message as clearly as possible (whether I do or not is irrelevant), and the "like"s will probably disappear as I come closer to achieving that goal.

Still, if this is a major problem, I've certainly moved to the right place. This isn't the Valley or anything, but you wouldn't know it just by listening.
 

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Thursday, October 21, 2004
  A Serious Disorder

There's a disorder ravaging the good characters of young women all over the world. It's called Tortured Female Syndrome (TFS), and it manifests itself early in puberty, typically when a girl buys her first Tori Amos album. The disorder can last into a girl's twenties. Symptoms include long, introspective journal or blog entries, the airing of one's dirty laundry with the intent of seeming mysterious and alluring. I know all this; I once suffered from it too.

You seem like the complicated girl. You seem broken, and won't someone put you back together? Guys line up for this. They love a damsel in distress. You might be a poet, a painter, or a writer. Whatever medium you choose, it will either have a theme of sex, death, or sex and death. Perhaps you wonder if you'll ever love, or if someone will ever love you, or why you feel so much, or why you feel so little. You are a maelstrom of conflicting emotions and philosophies. Perhaps you keep a dream journal--you see all your dreams as just more indications of how complicated and mixed up you are inside.

Any criticisms of your behavior will result in your feeling moral indignation--how could this person possibly understand your problems? They think life is so simple, but not mine. My life is a virtual Gordian knot. You use phrases like Gordian knot. You probably also use a lot of big words, because you're not a stupid tortured female--you're an educated one, so you're entitled to self-absorption.

I once thought the key was turning myself inward, to analyze myself and formulate a definition of who I am. Then I realized I had turned myself so far inward, I had my head up my ass. I realized that I don't have to define myself, because what I call my "self" exists with no conscious effort. There is a part of me intrinsic and immutable, apart from all my education and socialization.

I realized that all this effort to be complicated really just caused more complication. The more I picked at that scab, the more it bled. Of course, I don't condone just ignoring your inner self; a certain amount of introspection is good, only to the extent that you don't forget that there is a world outside of you that has little concern for your existential dilemmas. If you can use these dilemmas to be another Sartre, go for it. But I think most of us are not the reincarnation of any leading French philosopher.

The older I got, the more I realized how simple life really is (except for banking regulations and taxes and a lot of physics). I think everyone realizes this as time moves on, so for most girls, TFS is not terminal (although going to college certainly prolongs and exacerbates the condition). Like Thoreau, I find that as my life becomes simpler, so do my problems. I still know that things like love are complicated (if Plato couldn't figure love out, I doubt I can), and that if I looked deep enough, I could definitely unearth some insecurities. For what purpose though? Snagging a guy to fuel my desire of seeming mysterious and profound is just a drain on the man. Any number of exboyfriends could probably attest to the fact that I'm a lot more fun than I used to be. I want right now to live the best life I can and to be the best person I can be, and being self-absorbed will not allow me to achieve either of those goals.

We all want to believe that we are unique, that our problems have never existed before, and that every love and loss we suffer is the greatest in all of human history. We want to be complicated. I know, and most people know this too, that this is untrue. None of us is unique; we are all like someone else who lives today or has lived before or will live after we die. Our fingerprints are unique, and perhaps one of us will make a unique fingerprint on history. I for one, however, am not going to spend most of my life finding my inner Hegel. If I'm destined for greatness, I'm sure it will find me (to anyone who might want to disagree with that blanket comment, I DO know that greatness does require a lot of effort on my part, but inspiration requires very little).

Having studied physics, am I more convinced that life is simple? It all seems so complicated, and I get lost in the proofs and equations. I know that fundamentally, however, the structure of reality is very simple, although what clues we have to the nature of it don't really make quantum mechanics much simpler. More than anything, though, I realized that physics is unchangeable and constant, whether we know it or not, and I find that this knowledge makes the inscrutable nature of all that exists between Heaven and Earth inconsequential.
 

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Saturday, October 16, 2004
  Dreaming

I had a dream last night that there was a blizzard, but school wasn't cancelled. I didn't go anyway; I went to my friend Al's house. We both got so sick--and we knew it too because we went to K-mart and used a thermometer there. Her temperature was 102 degrees. I looked on the thermometer, and all I could see was that the mercury went above 96, and there were slashes on the thermometer to indicate the temperatures, but I couldn't figure out how many degrees were between each slash so I figured I must be sick too even though I didn't have a fever. I stayed out of school for 6 days. My school had a 7 day policy.

I had a dream last night that I was on a yacht with two guys, but I was afraid of them. Then I realized there were two more guys on the yacht, and they didn't know the creepy ones I was with. I fell in love with one of them, and we had sex. Then my captor burst in and caught us and tried to kill us. We escaped but were separated. I escaped through the computer history section of the Smithsonian, where they were serving drinks and snacks. Later on in my life I was a geisha, and I was lounging with the other geishas on the porch of a Japanese home. A crowd of tourists came by and in it was my captor. He recognized me and charged forward to hurt me, but out of nowhere came my lover, who saved me.

I had a dream last night that I was in a house I didn't know surrounded by beautiful and mysterious sculptures. A monster was chasing my friends and I. He was tall, with a long face and grey scaly skin, with triple jointed knees and long arms. If he touched you, you were dead. Everyone else escaped or died except for my friend and I. The monster had discovered me hiding behind a pillar, but my friend got his attention instead and died for me. I decided to go to Hell with him (there was no heaven), and it was a bar. I was afraid that they would notice I wasn't dead, so I ordered a drink to act natural. The girl behind the bar, Claire Danes, naturally, served me a drink and said it cost 3 ~~~ (I don't remember their word for money). I had a collection of 4 coins in front of me, and they were all different sizes. I chose three and hoped it would fulfill the debt, and it seemed to.

I had a dream last night that I was walking along the cliffs here along the ocean with a friend. We looked over and all we could see was a sheet of bright blue that was the ocean and a sheet of pink that was the sky. I said, "It's so blue. It's so blue it hurts your eyes." I squinted and there were little sailboats bobbing in the water. I walked on alone to where the beach ended and a small forest began. Several cars were driving away from the beach through the woods, going back home, and to avoid being hit by one car, I scrambled up the embankment, which slowly rose higher and higher, a ridge that you could walk along. It was here that I realized I was having a reoccuring dream. I noticed that the rocks beneath my feet were instead dollhouses, made by the old lady who lived in a cabin in the woods. They piled on top of each other to make the ridge. I stuck my foot in one, and water started filling up the space all around me. Then I was sitting on the edge of a bathtub, with my feet inside. I vaguely knew that in reality, Mike was lying at the foot of the bed while I slept, in his red robe and reading a book. I was afraid, in my dream, that his robe and book would get wet because I could see him lying half in and half out of my bath. And then I woke up.

I had a dream this morning that I snored. I woke up, and Mike told me I had snored.
 

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Monday, October 11, 2004
  I have about 500 books, maybe more. I brought them all to California with me, and it's the first time in years that I've had my whole collection around me. It's wonderful. All through school I dreamed of one day being able to sit in a chair for 5 hours and read. To read all day. Since I got here, I have been, and it's all I expected it to be.

I've only read about 70% of my books. Maybe less, because some books like CC texts I "read." So I might count them as being unread. The array of choices is a little overwhelming, and I can never decide what to read next. Then I realized that if I just chose based on first impulse what I was going to read everytime, eventually all that would be left would be the hard books. I want to read them, I really do. I'll read anything. Even the backs of packages. Or address labels. But I know I'll always find a reason to put off reading a hard book. I know it'll be rewarding and, with patience, interesting. But it'll be hard. I didn't want to be left with about 10 thousand-page books. Or a bunch of books on politics.

I have all my books stacked up against my walls in my living room. I can't afford a bookcase, so there are about 17 stacks with roughly 30 books in each. I decided to start at the first stack, the very top, and go through it and read all the books I haven't read yet in that order. I can break from this a little, of course, I'm not that anal. When I've been reading some heavy stuff I've been alternating with a fiction or light read further along the line. Still, it's a daunting task. Since about no one's interested but myself, I'm going to document my progress here, since there's nothing else interesting in my life to talk about.

First some penguin 60's--those little books that contain about one story. First, Nikolai Gogol, "The Overcoat" and "The Nose." Then George Eliot, "The Lifted Veil." All were excellent. "The Nose" was quite funny. Then Vasari's "Lives of the Artists, Vol. II." I don't have volume one. Some might question why I would ever read it, since it's a pretty cut-and-dry survey of artists I've never heard of. But I do feel much better equipped to visit Italy--I think I might remember some of the artwork I see fromt the book. Then "Walden" and "Civil Disobedience." Initially, Thoreau annoyed me, but eventually I began to enjoy his recollections of living in the woods. Now, "Lenin on Politics and Revolution." It's a collection of all his works. I'm a little uncertain of whether I'll get through it, because it's really heavy and long. And right below it is "Globalization and Its Discontents." I am determined. This is a personal goal. And man, will I be an egghead when I'm done. I'll never get invited to parties.
 

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Thursday, October 07, 2004
  Blogging is a lot like masturbating...when you get the urge, you've got to do it right then and there.

I've got to blow the dust off my blog. I can't commit. But I have been busy otherwise: went to Israel and then drove across country to California. Now that things have settled a little, perhaps I'll update this more. But probably not.

California's treating me well. I don't have much to say about it because Mike's probably already said it all on his blog, and California's pretty much just like you think it is. Haven't met too many people. I work at home and I'm broke (where's my money?), so that doesn't afford a lot of opportunity to meet people. The next door neighbors are pretty cool, and we met them the day we moved in. It was nice having the first 2 people you meet be exactly the kind of people you want to be friends with. I'm also planning on volunteering more at the zoo. I went there last Saturday with Mike to build a coffin for one of the animals. Just kidding. The zoo hosts a Halloween affair for the kids, and we were building props. I haven't gone back since, but I've been pretty busy. I definitely plan on doing it again and again because I can get into the zoo for free. There aren't a lot of people my age, surprisingly, but the older people are pretty cool.

Mike and I have been playing frisbee a lot, and I'm getting pretty good. I have a solid backhand, and I picked up the forehand pretty quickly. It's nowhere near being great but I'm confident enough to use it in a game. There was one last weekend, but it was intermediate and the club frisbee team used it for practice, so I was kind of intimidated. But there are others. We go out at night and walk to campus and toss on the physics lawn. Yes, the physics LAWN. I never thought I'd utter that phrase. Physicists at Columbia are given a cracked and broken brick court yard with a few emaciated trees. Anyway, the other day on the way there, we heard someone say, "Where can we find a frisbee?" Then she saw us and saw it and screamed "Ultimate" or something. Three girls were in the Burning Skirts, the UCSB girl's ultimate frisbee team. And another two guys were there. I asked them to come play, and the girls got really excited, and I was excited because they seemed cool. But then one of the guys, an anemic boy in a Radiohead shirt, whined, "Awwwwwwwww, frisbee? I'd rather see a movie." And that decided it. Although I doubt he had enough energy for it, after fighting off his apathy enough to express some kind of thought or feeling.

I'll probably see those girls around. Mike said they'd probably try to recruit me, and I know this is true because the girls team at Columbia doggedly but ineffectually tried to get me to join. I kind of wish I was eligible to join, just so I could have the pleasure of saying "No" and dashing their hopes.
 

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The story of how I became a very, very bad physicist. But not really.

Other People's Business

Mike (the boy)
Al
Al's portfolio (give her a job)
Christian
Jenny
Paul
Rod
Tia
Todd


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