Sweet sweet mission

August 15, 2010

This place feels like home.

August 14, 2010

I’ve been running this study on the DL for the past couple months in the library bathroom. The dispenser on the right has a sticker on it reminding users that paper towels come from trees, thus encouraging them to use less. The dispenser on the left, on the other hand, doesn’t pass judgment when you slaughter fifteen pumps of paper to dehydrate your damp palms.

Hypothesis: the left one would run out of paper faster.

Results: duh. The one on the right’s still almost full.

Naysayers, I don’t want to hear your alternative hypotheses. Unless they’re implausible and easy to disclaim, in which case please comment.

Sports

August 13, 2010

We get in the stadium just after something happened that signified the game happening. Friend glances at monitors and screams in despair that the other team is already ahead, the cursed fools. They have a run in the first and loaded bases for a second before the second, apparently.

I realise that it never even occurred to me that part of the experience of going to a baseball game was the score. I guess my competitive streak is more of a schmear.

Dad’s always been bucking conventional wisdom and questioning social norms, because that’s just what he does. He spent last weekend wearing mardi-gras beads and a blue sequined visor because… it’s weird, and everyone agrees it’s weird, and it’s fun to be out of style and poke fun at how dumb fashion is. Sound like anyone…?
After last week’s startling realisation that I fall into the stereotypical category that I’d always scorned, came this gem.
At a top-notch DC restaurant, Papa Wyatt (Robin Roy) said no to the Microbrewery selections on tap, and opted for a couple PBR tallboys to compliment his meal. He had no idea what it meant, he was just making a natural choice.
It seems I’ve learned from the best.

Royal Farm gas station restroom, somewhere in Delaware.

Awkward truth

August 10, 2010

John just stared at his ten year old son, jumping at the bit to run inside. He should really spend his allowance on a savings fund. And lord knows they already had enough giant plush novelty elephants.

5000-mile weekend

August 9, 2010

Over cornfields, soy fields, churches, dental-floss roads, and then more cornfields, I went.

It’s a long way to go for just a weekend. But it was worth it. Family usually is.

We descended as the sun rose, its orange light filtering through the sky and igniting this cloud. Good to be alive.

Re-becoming happy

August 6, 2010

A crazy thing happened last night.

I was lying in bed, unable to sleep. I could hear the gentle snore of my elephantine next-door neighbour through the walls, and see the soft orange glow of streetlights filtering through the cool SF fog outside.

It all happened in a matter of heartbeats. All were brand new realisations.

BUH-boom.

I’m not content. I’m not happy. I’m stressed.

BUH-boom.

I’ve felt this way all summer.

BUH-boom.

Feeling this way is absurd. I have more than anyone could ask for.

BUH-boom.

I’ve had lots of fun times. But moments of fun don’t equal prolonged happiness.

BUH-boom.

Happiness is only in the mind. In my mind. No one but me can make me happy.

BUH-boom.

I can choose to be happy.

BUH-boom.

It’s as simple as choosing to feel happy.

BUH-boom.

I now choose to feel happy, content, and unstressed.

BUH-boom.

BUH-boom.

BUH-boom.

And I was back. Back to Paris-mode Wyatt, back to Stanford-mode Wyatt, back to dumb-happy, vivacious, genuinely content-with-life Wyatt. I started giggling uncontrollably, rolling around my bed, getting tangled in the sheets. It felt so different! The strange black cloud hovering over the back of my mind was gone, the worry about nothing was gone, the pervasive sense of waste and guilt was gone; just as soon as I could see that all of those sentiments were in my head, I could choose to realise how absurd they were.

I’d done this before. This meta-cognitive mindfulness exercise where I take stock of my mental processes and consciously change them. But I’d been in an unmindful rut since returning from Paris, and I the worst part about being in a rut like this was that I hadn’t been able to tell. My mind state had been an unknown-unknown… I’d thought I was happy so couldn’t tell what didn’t quite feel right.

I think Sapolsky snapped me out of it. I’d started reading his A Primate’s Memoir that afternoon. That’s when I was first able to tell that there had been a glint of stress at the back of my mind all summer — and that I was no savannah animal running from lions, I was living the good life. So if I was stressed, it was unnecessary and entirely in my head. The classic problem for me with realisations like this is that snapping out of it really is as simple as making the choice. It only requires being aware of the problem mental state (which, granted, is difficult — and why I needed Sapolsky to open my mind to itself), and then choosing to not feel that way. In fact, it’s so simple, and so easy, and so arbitrary, that it’s embarrassing. Snapping out of a mood is so easy that when I do it, it makes me ashamed that I ever indulged it. A bad mood can feel terrible and ruin a whole day, or month… but it is so easy to get rid of — the hardest part is realising I’m in a bad mood. Then it’s just a matter of not being too proud to fix it, but I’m not a very proud person.

So, I did it. And it’s changed everything. It’s likely that little has changed outwardly — I’m fairly decent at acting consistently exuberant. But on the inside, it’s all green trees, tall grass, blue skies, and warm, gentle sun with a crisp breeze now.

I’m back…!

Ticketblaster

August 5, 2010

I like seeing live shows. Music, theatre, circus, performance art of that weird dude who dresses up (naked) like a dog and bites people, it’s all good. Makes life spicy.

The entertainment is great. But buying the tickets is awful.

A price tag was invented to do something wildly outrageous: to tell you, the consumer, the price of what you were buying. Not some arbitrary number that doesn’t include tax/shipping/fees/etc. Ticketmaster takes this lying, misleading, price tag thievery to a different level. I can guarantee that any ticket I buy will cost 10-25% more than listed. We’ve all bought tickets anyway, even after reading the “$27 convenience charge” or “$4 print-it-yourself fee”, and surrendering our dignity to suckle the sweet teat of capitalism, with a silent tear slipping quietly to the floor.

When you go to Sprinkles, they don’t say “Cupcakes 50c!” then wait for you to pull out your coin purse before crooning “plus $1.50 baking fee!”, then watching you scoff and chirping, “and a 85c happiness charge” and a “65c cholesterol offset tax”. They say “Cupcake, $3.50”.

And I damn well pay the dumb $3.50. Because cupcakes are delicious.

And if Tickemaster simply told me my $140 tickets to Treasure Island Music Festival were going to be $140 from the beginning instead of “$100… oh yeah plus a $39.95 cigar and aged whiskey fee so we can celebrate scamming you in appropriate fashion, tucked away in a cozy aspen lodge”, I’d still pay the damn money because festivals are fun.

I’m not asking them to lower the price. Things cost what they do. I’m just asking them not to lie to me. A price should be a price, not a starting point. Then I’d know how much to save, pay it happily, and not be filled with smoldering resentment at being scammed like a schmuck.

When I’m king of the world, a price will be a price. Unicorns will cost $infinity.

bike beauty

August 4, 2010

A good bike can change your life. Because it can change the way you think about distance, movement, and freedom. It can open worlds. For under 10 mile travel, nothing compares — it beats driving a car hands down (parking in a city is a mess; negotiating traffic in a giant steel box is claustrophobic at best; and being trapped in a rolling cage on a beautiful day just adds to the stress). I wrote about having a good bike a few weeks ago, and it was a revelation.

My bike rides brilliantly, changed my life, blah bloh bluh, BUT it was ugly as a rottweiler trying to lick peanut butter out of its butt.

I needed to make it pretty.

My dilemma: I love riding it. In order to make it pretty, you have to take it apart, and can’t ride it.

My solution: Do a shod-job —  a no-primer, no-sanding, no-nothing superficial double-coat of new paint.

Oh it’s so pretty. It’s oldschool Buick pick-up blue with an electric green chain and orange fast tires (how fast? orange fast). And I can scratch off that prettiness with a fingernail. Wow. Yes, it’s that feeble a job. I tried varnishing it to keep the paint on. It’s as effective as trying to patch a boat with scotch tape. But I love this bike, and will continue to ride its pretty form around until the chips become so egregious it’s no longer pretty.

“Pretty” count: 36.