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Monday. 8.12.13 11:54 pm
I'm driving back to Atlanta tomorrow. Huzzah!

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Ten-Point Dismount
Thursday. 8.1.13 12:36 pm
I haven't told you a proper story in a right long time.

Monday was a weird day for me. I work at the YMCA, and in one of the backrooms we have a freezer for emergency ice-packs. I'm not sure how long it's been there, but recently I noticed that there was about six pounds of frost accumulated on the shelves and walls inside. So I took it upon myself to let the whole thing thaw out on the pool deck over the weekend, (the pool is closed on Sunday) which meant I had to come in Monday morning to make sure it got put away before it became a hassle to swimmers. Since we open at 5:20 Monday morning, that's when I had to appear.

As I was wrestling this massive freezer back into the corner it belongs to, I noticed it was leaving scrapes on the floor. No big deal, since the places is basically a glorified closet, but it hadn't scraped on its way out so I was curious if maybe something was stuck to one of the feet and was marking the floor. One by one, I lifted the corners and felt around underneath to dislodge any debris. Unfortunately, as I was tilting the thing back, it slipped backwards and stamped down on my finger.


The irony was that all the ice packs were melted. I've had worse things happen to my fingers, but MAN I was displeased.

Since I was already up and I'd been feeling sort of spiritually lousy recently, I decided to devote some serious time in the Word and praying. I managed to get out of the YMCA and drive to the airport near my house just in time to pray with the sunrise. It was wonderful and I need to make it a goal to do that more often. Then I grabbed some essentials and headed over to the city park. There's a nice little area near the playground and some picnic tables where I can set up my hammock and just chill. I've had the thing since Christmas and I still haven't perfected the art of hanging it. There needs to be some sag so I can lay diagonally, but not so much that I slip into the center over time.

The plan was simple. I didn't have work until 3:15 PM, and I got there at 8 in the morning. That gave me seven hours! I could spend the day in the hammock and split my time between prayer, reading, calling/encouraging some peeps, possibly playing Chrono Trigger, and of course napping.

Clearly, napping had to come first. I slipped into the bag with some music and settled down to snooze. Unfortunately, I had tied some of my knots with a bit of slack, and a few minutes after I started dropping off, I literally dropped an inch or two when the knots slipped taught. For the brief moment that my heart failed to beat, I thought the tree was falling on me. I calmed down, but kept thinking about what I would do in the event that I was fast asleep and the tree really did fall on me. I probably wouldn't wake up until I hit the ground, and I would the smallest moment to roll out of the way. And that's assuming the tree falls directly over me; if it falls to one side or the other, which is most likely, I might very well be rolling into more danger. It's sort of a scary thought, actually, because I'm not sure there's enough time after hitting the ground to avoid a serious concussion and/or several broken bones, at the very least.

That didn't stop me from falling asleep. Eventually I awoke and went through the rest of my schedule. I'm happy to say that it was extremely beneficial; I got my head right on some stuff, gave and got advice with some of the guys back in Atlanta, and asked a girl on a date. Good stuff fo sho. There were moments when passing families created something of a raucous but it didn't really bother anything except my napping.

It came to pass that near two o'clock I started playing Chrono Trigger on my tablet. It's an old game that's apparently one of the best games ever created. It set the standards for great storytelling and gameplay. You should read about it. At the time I thought I was getting near the end because the plot was getting nuts. It turns out that I was woefully wrong; instead of transitioning into some falling action, the plot as only increased in craziness since then. Anyway, I played for a while, sitting in the hammock like sitting sideways in a canoe. Very comfortable, except for my legs.

It's 2:40. Still plenty of time to get to work.

I hear a weird noise. It seemed to be coming from my left, but I have to lean forward to see around the edge of the hammock. No animals, no kids. Very well.

I hear it again. I recognize the sound as a sort of creaking. I figure maybe my knots are loose again. For some reason this doesn't disturb me right away.

I hear an awful lot of creaking. I glance to the left to see if the rope was slipping or anything. Double-take. The tree is moving towards me.

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure what happened next. Basically, I removed myself from the hammock. I don't know exactly how because it is stupid-hard to get out of the position I was sitting in. Then I was on the ground, and rolling. The tree fell somewhere behind me. I didn't notice until several hours later, but I have a cut on my chest and on my face, presumably where tree shrapnel hit me. The cut on my face is like an inch from my eye. So that's cool.

You can see that it's rolled a bit from where the stump is in the bottom of the photo. I'm not sure how it got to its present position, it seems like it would have to rotate because there isn't as much room for the top half to roll as for the bottom, but I digress. I'm thinking it was falling directly on or very near the second tree. Maybe it collided and fell/rolled to the right. It very easily could have gone in the other direction and then...well, I'd probably be in a hospital right now.

I looked around. There was a couple playing with their kid on the swings nearby. "Did you see that?" He nods. I look at my watch. 2:45.

Guess I'm going to work early.

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Little Wonderments
Thursday. 7.25.13 11:36 pm
That's the name my friend's mother calls us when we enter her home and eat her cookies. You may know him as The Monster, but that's not important. She's so great. She got me my job, sort of!

I've found a lot of inspirational Christian material recently. A few good songs that stand out because they're more like monologues, and they're really neato. I also found this:

There's a lot of great imagery here. Most of the scenes show something different about the Gospel...the nature of sin, or how our relationship with God should work, why it cost Jesus his life, etc.

Attached to that, I just found a video that seeks to disprove Christianity by drawing comparisons between the Gospel (or life of Jesus in general) and earlier mythologies. I haven't seen anyone take this seriously since...well, I was gonna say Zeitgeist, but that's not actually true. (I met some very interesting people this summer!) I wish she had cited some sources, because I keep hearing wildly different stories related to this subject and I'd like to pin something down. For example, she mentions Horus, but from what I've heard before, the only thing Horus has in common with Jesus is that they both die, though I may not be remembering that correctly.

Ugh I didn't mean for that to happen.

I had this whole post semi-planned out (...OK so that's not true I had nothing planned) and now I've watched too many videos and read too many stupid waffley articles. So I'm going to bed.


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Raw Material
Sunday. 6.23.13 10:24 pm
When people hear that I'm majoring in Physics, the first question is something like, "Oh! What do you want to do with that?"


The answer is usually something along the lines of, "Er, I want to get into research. I don't know what...or with whom. But yeah! Probably research. Blowing stuff up in basements."

It's a good answer, but it reveals a fatal flaw: I still don't really know what I'm doing. I've been thinking about it, though.

My friend Sarah asked me what my strengths are (other than science and climbing trees). I said half-jokingly that there weren't any others. I've never really been good at figuring out my own strengths and weaknesses. There are some things that I like or dislike about myself, but I have a hard time picking the traits or skills that define me, one way or another. What are my strengths?

I've been told that I'm very personable, that people are generally comfortable and cheerful around me. That I'm good at making laughter, without being immature about it (usually). I've got to be good for something else...right?

Recently, I was talking to another friend about the way he drives. It's very fast and somewhat aggressive, but he insists that he's not a bad driver. I told him that it seemed like he was so sure of his skill and that of the drivers around him that he was willing to cut his safety margins because, to him, they seemed unnecessary. After a moment, he told me that was the best explanation he'd ever heard.

I do love explaining things to people, especially things that they don't think they will be able to understand. I love analogies and relationships.

Have you read the sci-fi novel Blindsight? The main character is a Synthesist. In the future, when humans have created vastly intelligent machines to probe the deep questions of the universe, there are often answers that "the people in charge" don't have the expertise to understand. A synthesist is a person who takes an idea that's unintelligible and translates it into an idea that someone can understand. What was interesting was that the synthesist doesn't have to be an expert in whatever subject he is working with; his strength is his ability to read the topology of a situation, idea, or even a person, and generalize his output based on that. The process reminds me of the Divergence theorem, if that helps any.

He was actually a really interesting character. As a child, half of his brain was removed (to cure some sort of viral epilepsy) so he's a bit estranged from humanity. He's a good synthesist because he spent his whole life watching people and developing protocols to blend in with them. That's what it comes down to: protocols. He doesn't know what anger feels like, so he has to pretend to understand what an angry person is going through, and react correctly based on previous observations. In some ways, the same applies to comprehending anything else. He just pretends to understand and reacts accordingly.

He was a Chinese Room.

It's actually a brilliant book. Delves into the meaning of consciousness, intelligence, and is pretty good sci-fi, to boot. Anyway,

I sort of connect with that. I like putting things into terms that make sense for other people. I'm not good enough to make up stuff about subjects I don't understand myself, sure. But nobody's perfect, I suppose. Modeling systems is something I enjoy, and I see now that it links to all of my passions. Physics is ALL about models, on a fundamental level. I enjoy coding because I have to take a task and break it down into its basic commands. What I did with my friend the driver was model his intentions and perceptions. I can't learn a subject that I can't organize. In fact, I have a hard time doing anything that I can't fit into some sort of intelligible paradigm. It can be rather crippling.

I told this to Sarah. The short version, of course. "I'm good at creating systems of information." It was a revelation; I've never been able to pin down that basic task in my own life. The ultimate irony is that the formless helplessness I sometimes feel when confronted with myself and my actions now has a form: I can't model myself. Being able to put it into coherent thoughts is wonderful. It explains a lot about myself, right there. Doesn't solve the problem of being crippled by new experiences and problems, but at least now I can start learning how to skirt it. And that's part of being a sythesist, right?

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