It’s a little bit angsty, but please check out this young person’s blog: orange blossom smut girl. Here’s today’s intro… “I do not believe in fate. I don’t believe that some kind of higher force stays up all night smoking and drinking and writing out the story of my life.”

I was reading something a little while ago that was talking about how humans have been genetically programmed for both hunting and gathering, and while that’s not an uncommon statement, it made me think about a few things…

My first thought was that there are some things I’ve done in my life that just ‘felt natural,’ like hunting for mushrooms or looking for ripe tomatoes where it’s almost like you drop down into some automatic subroutine that feels really easy, and requires very little thought, but requires very concentrated awareness. In those situations, I usually also have a strong sense that ‘I’m good at this’ even though I may never have done it before.

My second thought was then to draw analogies from that type of visceral experience to other similar experiences in the more virtual spaces, like channel surfing looking for something good to watch, looking everywhere for something you’ve lost, or most pertinently, surfing the web and your favorite blogs looking for those things that most interest and entertain you.

It’s official – I’m growing my beard. Every year, I like to wear a beard from October through March, then go clean-shaven April through September. I have a little fun when I start shaving again, because I go through a transition phase where I usually have a goatee now, but I’ve had years where I’ve experimented with lambchop sideburns, jazz beards, etc. It lasts only a few days at most, depending on the response I get.

I stopped shaving last Friday, and people are starting to notice.

On a (slightly) related note, I see that Schick has come out with (I refuse to use the term ‘invented’) a 4-blade razor, called the Quattro&#153 (go figure) and that Gillette is suing them (go figure).

Today is a picture post. First we have the world’s largest florist’s chrysanthemum.

But the big news is that we’ve got a new Yup. That's our 'scope all right. DigitalBlue&#153 microscope that hooks up to our new home computer through the USB port. Here’s a pic of a lacewing that was caught in a spiderweb in the laundry room.

In other big news, Emily blew her first bubblegum bubble. (She looks a little insane because she’s so excited to see herself in a mirror blowing a bubble for the first time.)

Tonight we checked out two new shows, Joan of Arcadia and The Matchmaker. I’d love to say that we’re going to watch a lot less TV this year, but so far, these are looking pretty good. Joan is about a young girl who’s visited by God, ala Joan of Arc, obviously, and Matchmaker is Alicia Silverstone doing her best imitation of Meg Ryan in a shampoo commercial. They are both pretty good shows so far, but I am really impressed by whoever is writing God’s part for Joan.

Best Search Phrase


1st Guest Blog!

Here’s a guest blog entry from my younger brother, Kevin:

Someday the skin care experts of the world will realize that the secret ingredient they’ve all been looking for is human ear wax. Ever look at an old person’s ears? Try it. The ears are almost perfectly preserved.

All the dumbfounded experts on Alzheimer’s disease who’ve been fruitlessly looking at aluminum cookware for the culprit will realize that it’s the aluminum in antiperspirant that’s causing some of us to lose our minds in our older years.

(Unrelated non-Kevin thing: There was a rumor awhile back that antiperspirants were causing breast cancer, and that’s been thoroughly discredited by the American Cancer Society.)

Daddy, can I ask you a question?

This is the latest installment in our 4-yr old’s quest to form a consistent cosmology…

Last night, Emily asked me, “Why is there night?” and we did a whole demonstration with the rechargeable mini-MagLite&#153 that lives on her nightstand, where the MagLite was the sun and my fist was the earth, and we looked at the shadows, and we talked about how the sun was incredibly hot, etc., etc.

Tonight, she asked me, ‘Daddy, can I ask you a question?’ and the question was, ‘Where is God?’

So I say, ‘Most people believe that God is everywhere,’ and she says, ‘So God could be on a star?’

Then I say, ‘Yes, God made the stars and he’s in them and everything else.’

‘So God must be very good at being really hot, huh?’ she asks.

‘Yes,’ I admit, ‘that must be right.’

Then she says, ‘I guess God must have learned how to be really good at being hot from somebody. It was probably from a dinosaur that he knew.’

I’m in trouble…

By the way, do I believe in God?

Well, rationally I’d like to say no, but given the spectacular miraculousness of all that is, I just have to believe that there’s something greater and more magical than just bare existence behind all of this. My current gut-feeling is that it’s a little like the old Nintendo games, and our understanding of the weirdness at the subatomic level is equivalent to the Mario Bros.&#153 noticing that, hey, every time we look at these ‘basic building blocks,’ it appears that each ‘atom’ is made up only of three simpler particles (or ‘pixels’) that we whimsically call ‘red,’ ‘green,’ and ‘blue.’ And they seem to follow some very specific rules of cause and effect that we can’t quite explain, but seem to be laws of our universe.

Planned Obsolescence

We have a VCR that we’ve had for a few years that we absolutely love. It’s, I think, either the 3rd of the 5 or the 4th of the 6 VCRs that we’ve owned in a little over 11 years of marriage. When we started out, we were buying the basic 2-head Sharp units because they were like $299 instead of the fancier $369 4-head jobs. The last time we bought a VCR, I got a Sony 4-head, Hi-Fi unit out at Target for something like $84.

So now we have this RCA VCR that we’ve had for about 5 or 6 years that we love, and I’m thinking, gee, I could buy a $14 head cleaner that won’t do anything, or I can cut to the chase, check the ads, and go buy a brand new VCR for around $59 day after tomorrow.

A few years ago when we still had the Sharp, we think the remote accidentally went out in the trash, so we ordered a replacement by mail and paid $79 for it, and that VCR crapped out about 4 months later.

Times have changed.

One of the things that I think about from time to time, is whatever happened to recording analog sources to videotape?

It was a big deal when I was in college, back in the early ’80s, when Beta was still around, and they’d just come out with Hi-Fi Beta format, and VHS was in its infancy, that you could record records to the new video format, and it was (much, much) better than the best Nakamichi cassette deck. Of course, a nice Sony Hi-Fi Betamax unit cost around $1399 in those days, but hey, I was a poor college student, and still I paid $495 plus tax for a Harmon-Kardon cassette deck that I was never happy with… in those days, we had no idea what the value of cheap Chinese labor was to become.

But now we do, and I’m thinking, hey, I can get a Hi-Fi VHS setup for around $60, and the tapes hold 6-8 hrs at $0.69 each, and the specs are near-CD, and there’s no copy protection issues, so why doesn’t anyone do this?

Time magazine has a story on Reagan’s letters. I have to admit that I’ve never thought much of Mr. Ray-Gun (In 1980,when I was exactly 18 and old enough to vote, and had just registered for the draft ‘under protest’, I naively voted for John Anderson, not even realizing that I was denying a much-needed vote to President Carter. Oh well.)

But I digress. Mr. Reagan’s letters, or at least the selection presented by Time, paint a very endearing portrait of a thoughtful man with no mean writing ability, so I may need to do a little scholarly research and re-evaluate my opinion. But then again, come on, I mean, Star Wars? Evil Empire? Hmm.

Night before last, our precocious little girl asked me one of life’s truly great questions. I should mention that she’s in the habit now of prefacing all of her questions with a dramatic, ‘Daddy? Can I ask you a question?’ and a lot of the time it’s just, ‘can I have another juice box?’ But two nights ago, the question was, ‘Where did the first man and the first woman come from?’ (Yikes! I didn’t see that one coming.)

I told her there were basically two ideas about where they came from. ‘Some people believe that God made the first man and woman, and their names were Adam and Eve,’ says I. Next question, of course, is, ‘Daddy? Who made God?’ Hoo-boy, we’re raising a philosopher here folks.

Then I told her that other people believe that life started by itself and got more and more complex over millions of years, and that that’s called evolution. She didn’t have much to say about that, yet.

Today we got a couple of notices from the Enron bankruptcy hearings. See, back when California became deregulated, before all the hoopla about Enron and the California energy crisis, we actually switched from our regular PG&E service to an Enron ‘Green Energy’ account, where even though we were getting exactly the same electricity from PG&E’s wire, our (extra) dollars were supposed to be contributing to increased use of Hydro, Bio, Wind, and Geothermal energy supplies. It’s just another one of those crazy tithing things we do to avoid having too much money laying around all the time.

I don’t speak legalese, but this appears to be a request from Enron saying that they’d like to consider that anybody who has a claim with them for their misconduct is entitled to somewhere between $0 and $1, unless they claim otherwise before 9/22, so I’m thinkin’, hey, what if I had a cleverly worded letter that says, in effect, ‘No, I’d like to claim that you owe me $300.’ ?

Anybody out there know how this thing really works?