july 2004

click here for permalink July 30, 2004

In elementary school Science class, we learned all about the Earth in a broad, general sense but most of us probably only manage to retain a handful of those vital statistics into adulthood. Thanks to public television, we can all recite a few facts about the orbits of the earth around the sun and the moon around the earth and recall that water covers 70% of the earth...

These things are easy to remember because they make sense — and, in some cases, we can actually see the evidence around us, like with seasons and earthquakes — however, there comes a point in the learning process where the intuitive and easily assimilated diverges sharply from the incomprehensible, unimaginable and downright esoteric realms of science at the other end of the spectrum from grade school "Earth Science."

As I work my way through the Vancouver Public Library's impressive collection of science and technology videos and DVDs, I'm actually coming up against this "point," and re-calibrating it, quite frequently. Faced with a new and mind-boggling hypothesis and actively trying to "wrap my head around it," I often find myself demanding (aloud, sometimes belligerently) "but how do they KNOW that?"

Example: yesterday I watched this DVD called "Living Rock," all about geology, and they mentioned that the earth has a core of pure, molten iron about 1,500 miles in diameter. Okay, sure, I think... I remember learning that in school. And then, after thinking about it for another second, Wait — how do they actually know what the earth's core is made out of?

The moon, the sun, the orbits — all of that makes perfect sense to me (we can SEE the moon and the sun, for starters — not to mention the fact that humans have been calculating their orbits and cosmic relationships for several millennia and we have their architecture to prove it!) but how the hell can we be absolutely certain that the earth's core is made of... anything??

Well, strato-geek that I am... I searched and found the answer... pretty cool, huh?

Oh, and for those of you who think that we don't retain all those facts from elementary school because they are useless in the adult world, I don't want to hear it (and I'm sure you don't want to hear my suggestion about where to shove your MBA)!

click here for permalink July 25, 2004

Since the beginning of summer, I've seen more dogs out on the streets than I would have thought could possibly live in this city — and not just in the parks, although that's where you mostly see the big dogs — but what I can't figure out is where these people are keeping them all...

When I had two cats it was nearly impossible to find an apartment downtown where I didn't have to sneak them in — you would have thought I was trying to store plutonium — now you can't go a block without seeing some young couple with a Retriever or an old man with an enormous Great Dane... I just want to stop them and yell, "where do you keep that thing??" Maybe they're all from the suburbs and they just like the West End for dog-walking.

There are a surprising number of big dogs but, this being a city, there are easily twice as many little dogs — and I admit that I don't understand the little dog mystique. Most of them seem to live in perpetual terror of either being stepped on or smote by god when he suddenly realizes it was a huge mistake to cross-breed canines with rodents.

The other day, I did see one I thought was pretty cute — almost like a real puppy, with no rodent genes in it at all! It was a baby Chihuahua, of all things, and it was quivering and straining at the end of its leash, leaning against the curb for support while this bodybuilder/harem pant-model yanked at its leash and pleaded with it to walk along in a self-propelled fashion instead of being dragged.

The puppy was covered in wispy fur so I guess it was one of those "long-haired" Chihuahuas but the fur was still soft, not all wiry and uneven. It's head was also still somewhat proportional to the rest of the body — but it's only a matter of time before it's an overinflated balloon with it's eyes perpetually darting around with diseased mania, looking like they're about to pop out.

I just hope no one shows him a photo of his parents while he's still this young... it could stunt his development completely. Now that I think about it, maybe he had just seen an adult Chihuahua and was refusing to move in the hopes of hanging himself at the end of that leash!

The ones I really can't stand, though, are the scruffy, dirty, little moppy white dogs that old women seem to love... their legs are too short so they have to run just to keep up and they're constantly tripping themselves on the matted dread locks of their under-fur. When they have to cross a street they end up running so hard they look like a parade of ants carrying a Victorian wig like a Chinese Dragon.

By the time they get to the other side, they're a panting, wheezing, angry mess and the old ladies have to stop and pick them up and carry them (and all the debris they've collected under them along the way). If you own a dog like this and you walk it in the city, you may as well just call it Swiffer because that's what you're doing with it. Seriously.

click here for permalink July 24, 2004

I'm seizing upon what I know will be a very brief window of opportunity here and riding this tiny, tentative swell of motivation while it's still strong enough to carry me... heh, if I hang on long enough, I might even be able to upload a few stray thoughts!

The trick is to do it quickly, before your words are chewed down to nothing in the proofreading process or stripped of their urgency and relevance through reading and re-reading — Well, it's a trick that works on my own mind, anyway...if I ever really paused to speculate on what might be relevant to my cherished, loyal (and lately endangered) audience, I don't think we'd be having this conversation right now...

(And this url would have been absorbed long ago by one of the vast virtual porn umbrellas that spent the late nineties buying up blocks of domain names with every possible combination of "blonde" or "pink," plus a noun... Yes, they tried!)

You know, maybe only updating your site every three to four months — and then, only at times when you have nothing in particular to say — is the new black... then again, what isn't?

Oh, lord help me but I think that is one of the funniest fucking things... I mean, it's immediately funny but then you start to think about the hours — rather, the days — of obsessive, single-minded calculation that must have gone into it... and then it seems kind of perverse and a little maniacal (but it's still fucking hilarious).

[SuperEgo's note: she's no longer a desperate job-seeker, folks, and the forecast is calling for increased chances of profanity...]

Speaking of segues... it has been absolutely, miserably, boiling hot in Vancouver for at least three weeks now — which is long enough for me to have completely abandoned that Northwestern superstition against ever complaining about hot, sunny weather. (If we can actually see the sky, we try not to make a fuss about the temperature, you know...)

Well, not this year! We've all been complaining about the heat, pretty much constantly since it went from a rare three-day "heat wave" the first week of July to "what are we, in Death fucking Valley over here?" Unfortunately, if it's not the crushing, sweltering heat on the airless city buses or in the corner grocery store, where you stand in line, dazed, with a frosty gallon of milk clutched to your chest, your face pressed against the cool, cool plastic as if no one can see you... it's the air conditioning.

Now, I know air conditioning is "bad" (in the sense that microwaves and cough suppressants are "bad"), but I can't remember what's in it and why it's not healthy, exactly... aside from the fact that it forces your body to adjust to an extreme temperature shift every time you enter or exit a building during the season when our bodies are least prepared for sudden shifts of temperature.

Also, aside from the fact that air conditioning, in order to work, must be contained and in order to reap its benefits, you must be sealed in with it. In an office building, this means that whatever floor you're on, is how many floors you are away from fresh, non-recycled, non-Freon-treated air. It feels great when you first step into it but after eight hours... ugh, let's just call it a Freon hangover and stop thinking about it too much...

It's my hippie parent upbringing. If it isn't natural, what is it doing for you? Or to you? And, if it's not natural, what the hell is it? This approach worked wonders for my mother when I was little. Perhaps she was also very fortunate that her squeamish six year-old just happened to be asking about things like Jell-o, Penicillin and hot dogs...

Over the years, I came to accept and even embrace the dubious and unseemly origins of some of my favorite products; there are fish scales in my lipstick and hooves in my gummi candy. Honestly, I would still wear lipstick if they made if out of dead wasps and Drano. Hell, if I can live with that, we can probably all live with formaldehyde in our nail polish and fluoride in our water... chickens in our cows and cows in our chickens!

Mmm, that was lovely..! Is anyone else hungry?

Who am I kidding — I actually can't eat my favorite gummi candy (from the bulk aisle of 7-Eleven) anymore. Not that it ever seemed like a great idea before, mind you, but at least I was able to overlook the fact that I was the only person that I ever saw using those nice, little, plastic "tongs" instead of their hands which have been let's not go there.

Anyway, tongs (or not tongs) became a totally moot point last week as my bulk candy gathering reverie was suddenly shattered by the sound of my friend's voice behind me, "Oh my god!" I turned around and then back in the direction of the bin at which she was pointing, less than 12 inches from my tong-wielding hand.

Naturally, I screamed, dropping my bag (possibly throwing the tongs) and backed into several shelves full of candy bars. I was madly brushing imaginary spiders off my arms and face and trying as hard as I could to un-see the very real one that my friend was still pointing at, which was staring right back at us from inside the Plexiglass bulk bin it apparently shared with an entire aisle of bright, delicious sugar-coated gummi candy.

As we left 7-Eleven, empty-handed, I tried lamely to talk myself down — down to the place where "these things just happen" and nature coexists with humanity in an often turbulent yet interminable symbiosis.

A week later, I know it was no use... I can't go back. The 7-Eleven bulk candy aisle is dead to me now.