Thursday, July 31, 2008


I fear I've had a sufficient dose of economics and philosophy to have become completely socially incompatible with the world around me.

I'm reminded more and more frequently that my peers are all successfully on the mainstream happily ever after track, and I am not. My college class newsletter arrives, and it's gone from lots of engagements and weddings to a few weddings and a lot of babies. Many are on baby 2.0. My good friend here has a 3 month old now. Another teammate is about to get married. A classmate, whom I knew casually, but not well, found me on linked in. I thanked her for tracking me down. Her response was (and I exaggerate not): "I'm married and have a baby: look at the baby." Which reminds me how far where I am in life is from where I thought I'd be, and why I'm afraid of having kids: Your baby's mama stops being your lover and starts being a mommy, and you can kiss sex and attention goodbye.

I intellectually understand that people feel some massive emotional reward from children which they then tend to find more than adequate compensation for the financial, emotional, and individual self-actualization cost of having those same kids. They seem not to mind going without sleep, sex, free time, or hobbies. They seem not to mind high levels of poop, crying, financial worry, or clutter. And I don't despise children. Some are quite cute and well behaved and fun. But I feel no overwhelming desire to own one.

And once upon a time, I really wanted to be happily married. I wanted to be in love and have romance and all that crap. But I learned how much doing all that puts my emotional eggs in someone else's basket. I really don't care to give another human being that kind of power over me. The stress and pain during my divorce was the greatest I've ever felt in my life, and I'd forgo all chance at happily ever after, which I think is an impossible illusion anyway, to avoid ending up back in that place. I've come to see marriage as a formal exclusive supplier contract. Males offer resources and receive access to a fertile female who offers to bear him children. Her genes, which get a free pass to the next round because she's female, get a head start in the next round from his resources, his genes actually get to go on to the next round. Fair trade.

And I've moved around so much in life, have had to say goodbye so many times, have watched so many friendships evaporate in the dessicating oven of time and distance, that I carry a constant awareness that all human relationships are temporary. And the same characteristics that let me take a long term view and delay gratification also let me take a long term view and forgo attachment. Which is not a good thing if you want to feel belonging and social connection. When your human parts would like to feel cozily connected, but your rational parts recognize that attachment leads to suffering, there is conflict. And when I watch humans around me getting attached to people and things, I become aware not only of my own lack of attachment, but how I'm in such a different place from everyone around me. I feel like some kind of alien anthropologist pretending to be human. Even if I fool them on the outside, I'm not one of them on the inside.

The TV doesn't help. I can't identify with most of the people I see on the screen, either real or fictional. I had the misfortune to catch "Wheel of Fortune" while brewing beer at my friend's place, and was genuinely stunned at how moronic the contestants were. A dude twice missed puzzles requiring him to basically be able to read. Twice. I do not empathize with him. I can't pretend to fathom his stupidity.

The commercials don't help, either. I don't want anything. The emotional manipulation in the ads is as transparent to me as if the subliminal messages were just subtitles on the screen. I don't believe your man perfumes will get me laid. I don't believe that your shave/ beer/ car/ truck/ liquor will confer alpha male status upon me, at home or at work or in a bar. Hell, I don't even go to bars, and I don't work in an office, and I have no one I'm trying to impress. I don't want to see the latest hollywood explosion fest. That's for products of Bokanovsky's process. I don't want a couch, a flat screen TV, an iPhone, a Wii or a new credit card.

I'd like to learn Perl, R, and Linux.

And given the risks and opportunity costs, I just don't want a baby. I don't want a woman. I still seem to want sex, but as I've started to realize how much time and energy and hassle goes into getting it, it comes up short. The time spent working for it/ time spent enjoying it ratio is huge. Rowing has a high work/ fun ratio, too, but I think it's actually lower than that of sex, over the long run, and is less risky with less downside. Maybe that's why I do so much with it. Rowing will never leave with half my stuff. Rowing won' t nag me to make more money, dress differently, or have a baby.

I do want success in my rowing life. Yet I'm a freak in all but my rowing social circles because I train 6 days a week, get up at 5 am and go to bed by 9:30. I'm the notorious non partier, non drinker, non drugger, non smoker. People are then shocked to discover I love donuts & In-n-Out burger. Which I enjoy, but don't eat 24-7. But the non-elite athlete world doesn't get my life, and thinks I'm insane. I probably am.

I only intellectually understand, yet do not empathize with why people have kids, get married, or buy things. I do not identify with "the American dream". It doesn't appeal to me. It makes me sad, and scares me.

Yet I'm stuck in a society and in a peer set where, if you aren't actively working towards acquiring or maintaining those things, you don't have much in common with anyone. Conversations get very awkward when people realize that their assumption about the universality of these human desires crashes into the bizarre realm of my dispassionate detachment.

Thus, the alienation.

I probably need medication. Then I'll love big brother, like everyone else. And they're happy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mystery freaks out

Video of K's cat and the toy I made for him: Cotton string connecting two elastic hair bands. I've meant to post many things for a while, finally uploaded the contents of my camera.

Friday, July 25, 2008

United Airlines: No longer their bitch

On my trip over to London, during the online check-in process, I was disappointed to discover that I didn't have an assigned seat yet, and that there were only terrible options left. When I booked, I knew I had chosen a seat.

I checked my travelocity confirmation. "37A? Yeah, that was your 'preferred' seat. We noted your preference and told the airline. They crumpled your preference in a tiny ball, tossed it in the trash, and said 'You'll sit where we tell you, bitch.'"

Good to know.

But I also knew that, somewhere over northern Canada, I was about to have accrued enough miles on United in the last year for them to begin to give a shit about me. I was to become "Premier". I wondered if I'd be treated any differently on the return trip.

This morning I got my invitation to do online check-in for my return trip tomorrow. I logged in. I had assigned seats! In economy plus! For free! Without asking! For both segments! (I'm connecting through Chicago. Repeat after me: "Oh here inner-nay-shin-ul ear port".)

United generally has the best deals for SF to London, so I may come to enjoy my trips to the UK a bit more.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I hope the momentum continues

Seems MA might can the electoral college system, too.

A popular vote means every vote counts. It'll boost voter turnout. When Indiana's going to go Republican, why vote if you support another candidate? If it's a national vote, it doesn't matter if you're locally a political minority.

I'm wondering what I can do to get CA to agree.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Looks good

Love shining a bright light on things.