Environmental science, traveling, and the sociology of the unraveling American dream.


If you're looking for more about me, I'm pretty much hanging out over at my livejournal these days. I use this account for commenting on other people's blogs.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Rules for Driving Like a Masshole

As a celebration of my first full day as a licensed Massachusetts driver, and the first day of my car's Mass plates, I hereby present gjules' Rules for Driving Like A Masshole.

1. Ignore your spedometer. Seriously: driving at the speed limit will endanger everyone. You should always drive at the same speed as the surrounding traffic, and looking at the spedometer will only increase your stress.

2. We could put up road signs and let you know where you are and which route you're on, but then we'd have to kill you. We prefer it like this. Less work putting up signs and killing people.

3. When lost or confused, always turn left. Ideally, this should be from the right lane.

4. Using turn signals is like starting a livejournal: nobody needs to know that much information about you, okay?

5. Sometimes cars will appear on your right or left flank, frantically trying to get into your lane. Ignore them. They'll scrape off like barnacles on the double-parked cars or the oncoming traffic. It's a natural process.

6. Lanes are fluid-- they're only painted, after all. Three or thirty years from now you'd be exactly where you were supposed to be. And if the lanes aren't painted or clearly visible, it indicates a free-for-all.

7. You don't think you can drive while applying makeup/talking on a cell phone/drinking a Frappucino/taking out your contacts? Well, you'll never know until you try, will you?

8. Always park whenever and wherever you want to. Even if that means someone, like say me for example, CAN'T GET THEIR CAR OUT OF THE FRIGGIN' DRIVEWAY.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Rather more mundane than the Hitchcock version

Just read that vertigo gets more common as you get into your early twenties. *looks around* Yep, judging by the ages of the people here, you're just moving into your vulnerable years. (I know you're here because you made fun of me for getting stuck in the elevator when you read about it, you RL lurkers you.) So as soon as I finish accidentally pushing my fan off the bookshelf and into the wall (ouch) I'll be a nice friend and gather information for you.

It's not caused by video games, you'll be relieved to know. Vertigo can cause anxiety... but not the other way around. Actually, the people at the Virtual Hospital link above say "vertigo causes extreme anxiety in most people." This is no doubt not unrelated to the fact that you feel like you're about to pitch down the stairs, even when the nearest stairs are out two locked doors.
And here's some information on benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the most common kind. 20% of dizziness is caused by BPPV. No data on what percentage of dizziness is caused by drinking. (Grant money. Get someone grant money. The people need to know.)

This source notes that BPPV is caused by "ear rocks." Ear rocks. I love that. The ear rocks are also known as otoconia, and they're composed of calcium carbonate. I could do without anything extra in my ears, but if it has to be something, at least it's a nice rock, a rock I approve of. Can't make limestone and marble without calcite. Although I suppose now the next time someone tells me I have rocks in my head they'll be correct.

So what's the experience like? I personally would describe it as being rather like being on a boat, only without the boat. At least I don't really get motion sick. (If anyone who was with me on the ship last summer is reading this, I promise, that wasn't normal. Really. Really... do you have any Qwells?)

Thursday, June 10, 2004

In a rock

I love rocks, and I'm starting to realize that people are wondering why. It's hard to explain, that's the thing. How can you not find a rock incredible? How can you not be amazed? But I'll give it a try.

Looking at a rock, you're looking at its history, at the world that existed, that had the conditions to create this rock, this particular rock, under those conditions. And you can get a glimpse, a shadowed look, at the eons and eons, the pressures, the ripping apart and melting and flowing inside the earth in the places we can go, in times we can never travel through-- but the whole history is still there. Sitting in your hand. In a rock.

One of my rocks is a pillow basalt. It came from a field trip, from an exposure on a hill overlooking a scenic grocery store. But think about how the rock formed: lava, flowing from a volcanic ridge under the sea, where light is never seen, where the water is miles deep, where the pressures are so high we'd be crushed in an instant, but where life still manages to thrive. Where lava forces itself out and cools from the outside in, leaving a pattern we can read, a pattern we can see, in a smooth cool basalt I can hold, heavy in my hand.

We're here on this planet, this big ball in the sky covered with oceans and forests and glaciers, with MoonPies and strip malls and Melrose Place, a hunk of accreted space dust with a chewy molten iron core. Because the planet's bigger than we can ever imagine, and smaller and more insignificant than we can ever know, and because we still mean something. Make things significant. We're here. And because despite this fact, despite the incredible and amazing and unbelievable fact that we're here, we somehow manage to overlook this, and go on merrily talking about the X-Files and how much mayonnaise was on our sandwich. And we can even make these things matter, because they mater to us.

And even sometimes, as we're letting the days flow by, we look up. And we realize-- maybe-- how incredible it is to be here. (How amazing it is that the rock is there. That the rock exists. That the conditions existed to make that rock exist, and me, and you.)

How can science cheapen the universe? It can only open up a deeper level of incomprehension, of the numinous, of wonder.

That-- is what I see in a rock.