synthetic zero


September 28, 2002

People in Manhattan walk slowly. More slowly than Portlanders, for example, and I found this somewhat surprising, since it plays against type. Susan noticed this too. In Brooklyn, however, they walk fast, much faster than Manhattan residents. It occurred to me --- this makes sense. When everything is close by, why walk fast?

I just saw a Dexter's Lab cartoon that made it clear that I am about two years older... than Dexter's parents. It cannot be!

September 24, 2002

It appears that electromagnetism and gravity may influence each other. This would be pretty incredible if it is verified.

September 23, 2002

Urgent business relationship!

The number for the United States Secret Service department in charge of the Nigerian 4-1-9 Fraud is (202) 406-5850. So, I decided to actually write back to one of these fraudsters, with the following friendly message:

Yes, please contact me about this matter. I would be happy to assist you. My phone number is (202) 406-5850. Thank you.
Silly, but somehow this cracked me up, and I am feeling a bit punchy right now after a tough work week. Who knows, maybe they're stupid enough to call it.

It's mind-boggling to me that hundreds of millions of dollars is lost to this fraud every year; who is dumb enough to fall for such a transparent scam? I think I received my first 4-1-9 letter (actual handwritten letter back then, on paper) at least eight or ten years ago --- I immediately called the FBI, who told me to call the Secret Service. Now, I get so many of these emails I have filters specially for them.

September 22, 2002

I think I've gotten used to the feel of New York --- it doesn't seem alien as it did for the first couple of weeks. I walk along the street and the noise and crowds and traffic all seem perfectly reasonable, ordinary. Will this become not just ordinary but something I feel I can't live without?

It's a cliché but there are a vast number of things packed into tiny neighborhoods here. This cute Japanese supermarket, and then another, and then another. This Ukranian restaurant, this holistic pet store, this amazing whole wheat pizza place. All within a few blocks of my place here.

This day's theme song is Neil Young's Cinnamon Girl. For some reason.

September 19, 2002

Well, it looks like they've cured cancer. This is one of several therapies I have read about recently with dramatic results. I suppose this is just one of the many things one has to expect, living in the science fiction year of 2002.

On the other hand, the streets of New York still look much as they ever have. They're not sci-fi in the least. But they're still quite interesting nevertheless.

September 17, 2002

While I was on the plane back to New York today an elderly woman was sitting in the aisle seat in my row; she seemed a sprightly, vivacious sort, which I particularly like in elderly people --- I hope to retain that characteristic myself. I found out she had been a literature professor at a liberal arts college in Yonkers. She asked me why I had moved to New York --- was I a student? Heh heh. At 37 years old I am still mistaken for a college student. I wonder if I'll miss that when it stops happening. I guess I wouldn't mind being mistaken for a college professor instead... She was quite enthusiastic about living in the city. I got a good feeling about being in New York from that encounter.

JFK airport, however, is incredibly poorly designed. When we got off the plane, we were made to walk down this long hallway, and dumped out into the main hallway --- naturally we all continued on in the same direction we had been walking. Of course, that turned out to be precisely the wrong direction. I was a bit concerned that I wasn't seeing "ground transportation" on the overhead signs --- finally my suspicions were high enough that I turned around --- of course, there they were. Obviously this must happen every time people exit that hallway, yet no one has ever bothered to put a sign at the exit of that hall. Even when you're going the right way, there are no clear signs directing you to baggage claim --- the right way is down these obscure stairs with a tiny sign.

Then we finally get to baggage claim --- no indication of which carousels go with which flights. We all stand around somewhat at a loss, when the announcer finally says that our baggage will be coming out on carousel B-1. We all go over and wait for a long time, nothing --- until someone notices that our baggage is actually coming out on B-2, and we all go over there.

Contrast this with Portland Airport: there was a time I arrived and the computerized sign was in error --- but an airport employee was there to explain to everyone the mistake. I doubt there was anyone at JFK besides the baggage handlers outside who actually knew where our bags were going to come out.

September 16, 2002

I've been wanting to write about my trip to Montréal but I've been so busy that I didn't have a second to jot down a note about it. Suffice it to say that several days ago I went to Montreal with Caroline (she's Little Package on that blog) --- it was a wonderful trip. It's amazing to realize there's what amounts to a whole French-speaking country just next to the United States. The people in Montréal tend to be much more stylish than Americans (naturally). Looking at a crowd of people riding the Metro in Montréal you'd never mistake them for a crowd of Americans. The city is filled with fun little districts. We practiced our French --- I was gratified to realize I was in fact able to understand what people were saying when they spoke clearly and carefully enough --- though I hesitated to speak more than a few words. I was a bit miffed when a guy in a mall took me for an American tourist (well, I was) and decided to recommend that I try the fried chicken. Okay, yeah, I am an anglophone, but does that mean I am going to come all the way to Montréal and eat fried chicken? Sheesh.

I felt strangely euphoric while I was there. A place to which I'd like to return.

September 15, 2002

We went to a beautiful wedding for my good friend Joe Tucker; he and his new wife Jennifer got married in an old church in Marin with a spectacular view of the bay. Joe is a brilliant guy: bizarre in a focused, intense, penetrating, and clear way. His family is Catholic and he chose an interesting woman to lead the ceremony; she is from a group of women originally trained in the Catholic church who practice contemplation and, though the church doesn't allow female priests, they have formed their group to support each other and their spiritual practice. The ceremony itself was fairly traditionally Catholic, as far as I could tell, though at the end she referred to God as "she" which I thought added in a nice solid dose of "alternative" to the whole event.

September 9 (b), 2002

I've been following this debacle for months, but things are coming to a head now. Please support Internet radio by checking out this site. Internet radio is on the brink of extinction on October 20, 2002! Only Yahoo, AOL, MSN, and a few others will be able to continue to broadcast streams if they allow this to stand. Almost every Internet radio station will go bankrupt if this holds.

September 9, 2002

Portland | New York:

New York lacks good root beer (or any root beer) in most restaurants.

There are lots of good Mexican and Japanese restaurants everywhere in the East Village. Not as much in Portland.

Sitting down to read the Voice, I was absently paging through and suddenly saw a picture of a cool-looking girl, and I thought, "hmm, cool-looking girl. Allow me to read."

There's nothing like the thrill of discovery. Finding a great artist or band when they're young, hungry, and on the verge is one of the best feelings in the world, as it comes with the reassurance that newness isn't dead, and that you weren't born too late. Plus, you get to act cool when they become famous because, you know, you were into them, like, way back in the day.
I kept reading, and, a little later on: "...this band of twentysomethings from Portland, Oregon..." Of course. They're from Portland. The band is called Glass Candy and the Shattered Theatre. Listen to them here (they do a live segment about thirty minutes into that show) (playlist) (via WFMU -- an excellent local radio station).

September 8, 2002

In the sixteenth century, Giordano Bruno wrote this:

Innumerable suns exist; innumerable earths revolve around these suns in a manner similar to the way the seven planets revolve around our sun. Living beings inhabit these worlds.
This was after Copernicus but before Galileo, and one should note that neither Copernicus nor Galileo believed that stars were like our sun. The heliocentric model presented the sun as the center of the universe --- Bruno felt that the universe had no center --- a view which is, of course, congruent with the relativistic views of today. He was burned at the stake for heresy in the year 1600.

September 6, 2002

Left most stuff in Portland --- this little studio apartment in New York therefore seems gigantic and so clean and empty. A great way to organize things is to simply leave most stuff behind.

September 3, 2002

I am in New York.

Meanwhile, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets changing much more rapidly than expected. This could be bad.

September 1, 2002

Everywhere you go this space stuff seems to be there.