That Smelly Ol' Factory
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Smell is an interesting sense to have. It is often subtle and unnoticed, like blinking, until we experience an extreme, like having sand in our eye or apple pie. Smell enhances it's sister sense, taste, by adding richness to the mere 7-8 flavors our tongues can perceive. Wikipedia even claims that without smell, a sliced apple and a sliced potato are indistinguishable.

Olfaction is also intimately tied with memory. The smell of the ocean may remind one of a fond vacation, while burning wood brings back the terrible recollection of a home burning down. Much to my wife's chagrin, my smell-memory seems to recall past girlfriends with hints of cucumber melon or specific perfumes.

The reception of smells is hard to mind-grip for me. It's much like radio transmission. I mostly comprehend the technical explanation, but I reel like a caveman studying a box-with-tiny-people-inside when I try to apply the science to practical awareness. Smelly molecules float through the air all around us, intermingling with shock jock and monotone NPR journalists.

The pleasant smell molecules are perfectly acceptable. I've yet to frown or grimace when taking in vanilla, cedar, or a fresh rain. However, the unpleasant smells are contrastingly pungent - I'll refrain from listing them.

The worst thing about repulsive smells, for me, is that I know that at some level, I am breathing into my person molecular slices of the source. It doesn't help when those disgusting parcels are mixed equally with painfully industrial "lemon" or "floral". I know what's being smuggled on the back of sharp restroom perfume. Like a prostitute wearing too much makeup, the attempt to conceal merely focuses the attention.

Sadly, by the time you recognize the invasion, it's too late. (Of smells, not hookers.)

Odd footnote: I've lately noticed that my own sneezes have an odd smell to them. It's not a putrid smell, probably closer to 'sweet' than anything. It's still unnerving and fairly ironic.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I've recently acquired a new game/sport/hobby called "geocaching". defines it thusly:
Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. ... The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache.
Geocaching is similar to a very large (world-wide, even) easter egg hunt. The family no longer hides the eggs - they have been replaced by complete strangers. The eggs are now less colorful and range widely in appearance and size. So far I've seen matchstick containers, ammo boxes, tupperware, plastic jugs, and 35mm film canisters.

The "wide variety of rewards" regularly consist of dollar-store junk and old dirty toys - the stuff a normal person would dump into the "10 cents" garage store box. The cache-egg must also contain something to sign, confirming you did find it. It may or may not contain a writing utensil, which means I will consistently forget to carry my own.

The veritable treasure trove of junk is not the reason I enjoy geocaching. There's something oddly fascinating about a hidden container that no one notices, but waits quietly for someone with the treasure map to locate. When you do locate the cache, you find in the logbook that many unseen others have visited the same location, unknown to you and the rest of the world. I have driven by one of these hundreds, if not thousands, of times before I was let in on the geocaching secret.

Geocaching provides more than the adventure of discovering dirty tupperware, though. It provides a reason to explore a local park, hike an unknown trail, and see parts of your world you never knew existed.

...and the sweet dollar-store toys, too.
That Useless Internet
Friday, August 11, 2006
Anyone that knows me personally knows that I love the internet. It's unfathomable how much information I have absorbed online that would not be easily obtained in a strictly offline world. Sometimes I even print off random web pages, pile them up on the floor, and roll around in them Scrooge McDuck style.

I'm also close to mastering Google fu. Given a question or topic, I can generally find relevant information through carefully sculpted and refined search queries. If I'm in a restaurant and hear a song that I like, I will listen carefully for a specific phrase that I can later search for.

Therein lies one of the things I cannot easily find: sound.

A couple months ago, a friend and I were talking about a song that we remembered from high school. We only remembered some visuals from the video, the general sound of the chorus, and a few generic lyrics. I went home that night with a personal mission to find the song. I found it some time around 4:00am.

I'm stuck if I like the sound of a song but don't have any lyrics. You can't search on "That song with the quick tempo that goes 'dunna dunna dunna dunt'".

Well, you can, but you won't find the song, "Say Anything" by Shane McAnally.
Fashionless in Seattle
Monday, August 07, 2006
I recently discovered a fashion blog titled, "The Sartorialist". Viewing it, I can't help but wish that I had well-worn suits and stylish jackets. Money is often an obstacle in this endeavor, as is my lack of good taste. My wife was once commanded by a salesman: "Do not let him wear tubesocks with this suit." I shook my head, but silently made a mental note.

The t-shirt-and-shorts guy in me sees the same photos and says, "That looks hot." There is a reason I don't wear sweaters, even though I think they look good on me. I'm a sweater. As in, "one who perspires", not the clothing article's version of "wooly thing that makes you perspire". Heavy clothing is fine if you're planning on standing outside during the winter, but I invariably walk inside at some point and loathe my second skin.

I wear what's comfortable. Oftentimes, this is an old t-shirt, any shorts that still have a button, and a pair of cheap flip-flops. I may have to start hiding these shirts 'Anne Frank'-style soon, as my wife squints evilly every time they adorn me. Moreso than usual.
When I Grow Up
Thursday, August 03, 2006
When I grow up, I want to be a photographer, artist, scientist, musician, bartender, entrepeneur, gardener, actor, chef, writer, theologian, teacher, and financial consultant.

Unfortunately, companies (and salaries) tend to frown on someone leaving after six months to pursue other ventures.

I have found some of my actual jobs vaguely interesting, but not enough to excite me. I seem to be in a career rut, but by my own choosing. My proverbial "rock" is that I am logical, intelligent, have a technological understanding, and IT jobs are easy to find. The "hard place" is that I'd rather be doing something else, as evidenced by my opening sentence, but these careers would require things that I do not currently have.

It's essentially a problem of risk, ambition, and effort. Where does someone find the perfect balance between the disasterous extremes of career mediocrity and insanity?