Today, a friend said, “I’d give anything to be able to play piano like that.” She was talking about a talented musician whose video had gone viral on the internet. I smiled, and ignored her comment, because while she can play the piano, she’ll never be able to play at the same level as the kid in the video. Because, what she said just wasn’t true. She won’t give anything. She’d actually give very little to gain those skills. If you built a calendar of her days and a schedule of how she spends her time, what would she give up to fit in the hours of practice it would take to grow as a musician? Would she give up her other hobbies? Give up time with her friends? Her favorite TV shows? Would she stop going to the movies once or twice a week? Would she stay up an hour later, or get up an hour earlier, just to play through some scales and work on a new piece of music?
No. She won’t. We know she won’t, because she doesn’t. She’s just wishing for the talent, without having to pay the price it takes to get it. If she were willing to give up anything, she might get better, and be able to play a few more songs. But, what would she have to give up to really be that good, to be world-class?
Would she give up everything? Would she dedicate herself fully to just this one thing? No, of course not. So, she’ll never play like that kid.
But it made me think. What would I give up to get closer to my dreams? What am I doing now that I will regret or be indifferent about in the future? Turns out, there may be a lot of things.
Things I Noticed Today:
- Blockbuster is finally closing all of its retail outlets and shutting down its DVD-by-mail service. I’m surprised it took this long for this old dinosaur to realize it was dead. I haven’t been in a video store in two years, and before that it had been another two years. We used to go to Blockbuster weekly, and probably paid more in late fees than we ever did in rental fees. It got to the point where it was cheaper to buy a DVD from Amazon than it was to rent a DVD and return it late. Now we just stream, and pay less per month than we ever have for more movies than we ever watched from Blockbuster.
- A new species of actual dinosaur has been discovered and announced. It’s a Tyrannosaur, and appeared about 10 million years before T. rex. It’s being called Lythronax argestes. It was discovered in southern Utah, and its name translates as “southwestern king of gore.” The linked article has a description of the teeth of L. argestes which seems designed to elicit delight in fourth graders.
- The human body has a new part. That statement is slightly misleading. Even after a few hundred years of careful dissection and study of anatomy, the human body still has components which have not been discovered or documented. In this case, researchers found a previously unknown knee ligament. They’ve named it the anterolateral ligament or ALL, which seems a tad boring, but there it is. Its existence was first suggested by a French doctor in 1879. It took an additional 130 years before anyone went to look for it. It is hoped that a new treatment for a torn ACL can be developed which takes the ALL’s existence into account. But, you may not have one. The researchers estimate that only 97% of people have an ALL.
Things I Noticed Today:
- After a drone strike killed the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, the remaining leaders met today to choose a successor. There’s an old saying that if the population of China were lined up and made to pass though a single gate, they would never complete the task, as those waiting would mature and produce offspring at a rate faster than people can pass through the gate. To my knowledge, no one has actually attempted this. My point is, we can kill the leader of any terrorist organization in every country on the planet every single day for the rest of time, and there will always be a leader of that terrorist organization in that country. Our methods actually ensure this is the case. We’re producing terrorist leaders faster than we’re killing them, thus guaranteeing we will always have plenty of the enemy to maintain this farce.
- In 1984, Bernie Goetz became something of a middle-class hero when he shot four young men who he said were intimidating and planning to rob him. (This was later verified by one of the men Goetz shot.) It sparked debate on race, and on the high crime rates of New York City in the 80s, and on the role of the citizen in deterring crime. Turns out, the “Subway Vigilante” has feet of clay. He was arrested on Friday for attempting to sell $30 of pot to an undercover cop. How are the mighty fallen… It’s a shit bust, so it will be an interesting case to follow.
Slow news day, too.
Things I Noticed Today:
- Kraft are removing yellow dyes #5 and #6 from their line of character-shaped macaroni and cheese products. The regular elbow macaroni product will continue to be nuclear-warning colored. Although there is no conclusive proof, yellow dyes have been linked with childhood attention disorders. One must wonder, though, why people who are willing to eat a product like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese are so concerned over a potential (and minor) health risk.
- A lawsuit in Ohio to determine whether gay marriages from other states will be recognized on Ohio’s death certificates will proceed to trial by the end of the year. Ohio currently has a ban on gay marriages.
- The number of people diagnosed with malaria in the US has climbed 48% since 2008, to 1,925 in 2011. All but five of these cases were acquired overseas, and imported
Things I Noticed Today:
- New York City continues to carve a brave path towards total control over every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
- In news which should surprise no one, imported spices sometimes contain salmonella, rodent hairs, and bug parts. Just like other foods, imported or not.
- Dogs communicate with body language. This study specifically looked at the reaction dogs have to tail-wagging. Wag more to the left to indicate negative emotions; more to the right for positive. And, once again, the scientists stop short of actually claiming that dogs can do this intentionally. ‘“It’s simply a byproduct of the asymmetry of the brain,” and dogs learn to recognize the pattern over time.’ You know what? Human body language works the same way. It’s a byproduct of mental states, and we learn to recognize the patterns over time. Ass-hats.
- And, after 20 years of pointless prohibition, you are now allowed to use your portable electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Still no handguns or grenades, though. And no fucking snow globes. Don’t even ask.
Things I Noticed Today:
- Scientists at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD are all set to switch on the LUX dark matter detector. Remember, kids: it’s called dark matter because it doesn’t interact with normal matter, and not because it’s actually a dark color. Also, if it exists, millions of particles of it are streaming through your body every second. As your body is mostly empty space, you don’t notice.
- In news which will surprise almost no one, a study of twins has been published which shows that smoking causes the visible signs of aging to appear at a younger age, and to increase at a faster rate than for non-smokers. There was some good news, though. In twins where one stopped smoking and the other continued, the aging process slowed to normal for the non-smoker. The side-by-side images are proof enough.
- If you’ve ever wondered how a tick attaches itself to its host (and really, who hasn’t?), a new video is going viral which shows the mechanism by which ticks burrow into the skin. It’s horrifying. You should go watch it. Please note: the video is going viral, but just watching it will not give you Lyme disease.
- And, finally, a woman in West Fargo, ND has announced that she’ll be providing free health screenings for her visitors on Halloween. If a visual inspection reveals that your child is “moderately obese,” instead of candy or other sweet treats, she’ll be handing out unsolicited medical and child-rearing advice. In a radio interview, she was identified only as “Cheryl.” If your name is Cheryl, and you live in West Fargo, I feel bad for you. Unless you’re the Cheryl who is handing out health critiques. I don’t feel bad for you at all. You made two mistakes. 1) You decided to arrogantly interfere with a yearly tradition which dates back hundreds of years, and 2) you stupidly told people beforehand what your plan was. Once you’re identified, just remember the Toyota principle: you asked for it; you got it.
I’m trying a new feature, in the hopes I can post more often. I run across these things all the time, and I tell myself I should write a post about them, but I never do. So, I’m going to try and collect a few each day, and just write one post about all of them. Who knows? Maybe this will work out.
So, introducing: Things I Noticed Today:
♦ Katy Perry is not exactly a paragon* of virtue. Her career was certainly boosted by a few well-placed photoshoots, where she wore outfits in which even Walmart would deny her service. But over the weekend, she told NPR there is too much nudity** in pop music:
“I mean, it’s like everybody’s so naked. It’s like put it away. We know you’ve got it. I got it too. I’ve taken it off for – I’ve taken it out here and there. And I’m not necessarily judging. I’m just saying sometimes it’s nice to play that card but also it’s nice to play other cards. “
When Katy Perry is suddenly the voice of reason, things are getting weird.
*This is bullshit. Katy Perry (and anyone else) may conduct herself however she chooses. If I don’t consider her a paragon of virtue, it’s simply because I think the term is irrelevant. It implies a common moral code shared by the majority of people, and that just does not exist. Anywhere. And it never has.
♦ For the first time in 14 years, there are new polio cases popping up in Syria. I want to blame this on Jenny McCarthy, but I can’t. Instead, I will just blame it on religious stupidity. Vaccinate your children. Vaccinate yourselves.
♦ And, finally, Telltale Games has released details on their upcoming game sequel The Walking Dead, Season 2. You’ll be playing as Clementine. If you’ll remember, in Season 1 you were acting in loco parentis for this same character.
Almost everyday, I think of something I wish I could tell my mother. At first, it was pretty painful. I’d reach for the phone, and then realize it was pointless. One time, I got as far as scrolling through my list of contacts before I remembered that she was gone. But, the pain eased over a few months, and now when I think of something I should tell her, I have a melancholy pleasantness in trying to imagine her reaction.
She’s been gone for nine months. Most of the time, it seems much less than that. I can still hear her voice, plain as day (as she would have said.) When I’m in her house, I still expect her to come walking around the corner at any moment. But it seems longer, too. I’ve gotten over the intense sadness. I can look at a picture of her without pausing to regain my composure or catch my breath.
Nothing on this list is terribly important. They’re just things she would have been interested in, or would have found amusing, or would have understood why I found them so.
- I got a new job.
- I went to Ireland, and it was fun. No, there were no leprechauns. I checked.
- Susan made a new table runner. She would have wanted you to know that her profanity usage was much lower this time.
- I’m riding my motorcycle again. I had to buy new gear because I lost all that weight.
- I was walking through the Philadelphia airport the other day, and passed by the Wendy’s were we had lunch on the way to Scotland. I wanted to throw a french fry at you.
- Ogden weighs 16 pounds now. He’s spoiled, too. He can do anything he wants.
- I got mice for my office. You would have hated them. I would have laughed at your reaction.
- I love you.
That’s it for now. I promise this blog is going to cover more than my relationship with my mother. But, it’s going to cover that, too.
Driving home this afternoon, I was listening to Paul Simon. Negotiations and Love Songs was the album. I started at the first song, and just let it play. I grew up with vinyl and cassette tapes, so Fast Forward or skipping to a particular song was just tedious enough that I never did it. So, when I listen to music, I tend to start at the beginning and take it all in. I don’t want to claim it’s a better way to do it, but for me it works. Especially with older stuff, when the order of the songs was chosen by the artist with a little more care.
So, I was driving along with the windows down, sweating slightly, and grooving to old Paul Simon songs. Singing a little to myself. And then “Loves Me Like a Rock” came on. I’d sort of forgotten about the song, and its lyrics. I certainly didn’t think about it when I chose the album.
Holy shit. When the first verse transitions into the chorus, I just lost it. Tears everywhere. Blubbering like a baby. It lasted for most of the second verse, but eventually was I able to pull myself together. It was either that or pull over and wait for it to pass.
My mother has been gone for eight months. I. Was. Not. Ready.
I’m not going to talk about this one much. The story is too good for me to spoil. Let’s just say that life is stranger than fiction, and that if an author were to write a story with these events as a plot device, no one would read it. It would be too unbelievable.
I think it might make a pretty decent movie, if the movie dealt with the impact of such a pregnancy, and not with the actual events which caused it. It would probably have to be an indie film, though.