I Think I Can

Two things to start with: 1) the post from Nov. 15, “Links to Everywhere,” has been taken down as per webmaster Ben’s request & all pics removed. Fair enough. 2) The following post was born from a snippet of conversation that took place between myself and Ernie earlier today. I cannot shake the conviction that I bore him, and nearly every one of the other few people I converse with. That said, here is what I wrote out by hand as I digested our conversation, as well as some new observations:

How strong is the power of thought? In his book The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams explains a phenomenon that he experienced but cannot explain: thoughts, and thoughts alone, changing the physical world. Now, I have a strange dual mix of beliefs, for on one hand I firmly – unshakeably – believe in the most basic Christian tenants in which God became a man, died for our sins, and rose again live and well after three days. On the other hand, I have passed through enough scientific training to have a healthy skepticism for inexplicable superstitions such as the idea that “thinking bad thoughts causes bad things to happen.” That is the constant dynamic struggle for the analytical-minded Christian: how to reconsile our desire for empirical evidence with our complete and simple faith in Christ? A knotty problem, surely.

Yet many people swear that what you think directly influences reality, and not just because you take action on your thoughts. Somehow, thinking a thing may make it happen, so don’t think of failing this exam! Scott Adams claims that through thinking positively, and with no major behavioral changes, he became a bestselling author and cartoonist. He offers other examples in which he believed that he would encounter high-payoff stocks, and lo and behold, the stocks he felt compelled to buy (but didn’t) suddenly increased drastically in price. Ernie told me that I shouldn’t ask what the worst possible thing that could happen to him was: it would cause something bad to happen.

Now, what to think of this firm belief? Perhaps he was just dodging my question (lots of people do that to me); but many people share that same firm – if irrational – conviction of something. In fact, I act exactly the same as everybody else, for what is Christianity but an irrational belief? Oh, we call it “faith,” a belief in that which you cannot see, believing without proof that Jesus is the Son of God and that he lives today. That we, His followers, have found the only door to heaven. Why, then, should Scott Adams’s power of thinking not exist also? Why not telekinesis, or teleportation, or mind-reading? I cannot say that none of those exist, but I do know that God created an ordered universe, and such things are not within the regular framework of His design – that we know of. How can I call the demand to think positively “superstitious” and still be consistent with my faith? Truthfully, I cannot answer my own question; but I can also set it aside and know that is part of who I am as a Christian and a quasi-scientist. So I still can say that Christianity is true, while other beliefs are not – are superstition.

On the other hand, if somebody across the room levitated my pencil, I might just have to rethink my views.

– KF –

Hooray!

Though the title implies happiness, in truth that state continues to elude me. I completed my Geology paper’s first draft, yet I feel as if I have completed nothing: the mountain of work looming over me remains as tall as ever. I shall not list the sorrows; only know that ten thousand of them oppress me and darken the world in my eyes.

Also, I admit to have perhaps read too much Kim and Arabian Nights. As a final thought, does it disturb anybody else that big companies can sell radioactive waste from Hanford to farmers and call it fertilizer? Or dump some 350 million gallons of radioactive waste into Eastern Washington – to eventually seep into groundwater and thence into the Columbia River – and have no reprecussions?

– KF –

Every time I update my Blog (read: daily) I get the Celine Dion song A New Day Has Come ringing in my head. It’s almost enough to make one decide to stop blogging. Another thing that might stop people from blogging: Moms. The Onion’s amusing article on the subject, however, only applies when you’re a scummy, lifeless 30-year-old who has to resort to casual sex and Ectasy for thrills.

So, life quickly since at this hour metaphysical speculation tends to elude my grasp. Ian bought a $20 used 4.1 speaker system to replace my solitary speaker/subwoofer “system” and I cannot say how exciting it is to have actual functioning speakers. Before I had two regular ones and a micro-woofer; one cut in and out, but usually preferred to stay off. I cannot say how pleased I feel to turn my speakers on and have all four reliably start and continue to function until my computer crashes. The computer presents its own troubles, namely crashing so often it at least doubles my paper-writing time. Frustrating, really; fortunately my Save Reflex – developed last year as the problem began – serves me well and a I rarely lose important material. Still, I dream of having a machine that will turn on and remain in that state until I desire to turn it off.

My major project right now is writing a paper with this topic: “The goal will be to find out the major source of water in Western Washington, see what the major pollutants/risks to that water supply are, and include a short discussion of the general meteorology of Washington.” Unfortunately it appears that topic doesn’t particularly interest scientists, making my topic a great deal hader. Ah well, I shall simply have to consider it practice for my future (hopefully) in journalism.

In other news, Jess has decided to stay here longer – until the Wednesday after Thanksgiving! This pleases both of us greatly and opens up possibilities of time spent together much better than a couple crazy days in the kitchen with Tiffany. Also, Ian has dismantled my old subwoofer and was dismayed to find enormous globs of glue holding wires to the board – barely any soldering at all. No wonder it barely worked! In removing the glue, however, he snapped off the tip of our Exacto knife – quite a piece of skill, if you ask me. Finally, I made muddy buddies today and in the process produced ridiculously enormous volumes of smoke. Something on a burner was, well, burning and I noticed but didn’t worry; no flames, no problem (right?). That was until I left the kitchen and returned to find the entire common room and kitchen hazed with smoke. By hazed, I mean so thick if we had fire alarms in there they would have gone off like nobody’s business. I could barely see. Calmly I turned off that burner, opened a window, and used a fan to suck the air out of the apartment into the Great Outdoors (Dad’s lovely picture). No problem. Muddy Buddies turned out quite tasty, though Eric only proclaimed them “OK.” Some people don’t know fine food when it slaps them in the face (“OUCH!”).

All this to say, life’s actually just normal right now. Doing a lot of math – my prof did a weird thing where he allowed us to choose our own weighting for different things. So I get to decide how important my quizzes, 2 midterms, and final exam are. Very strange, but I’m not complaining! – working hard on the Geology paper, and stressing radically about my Architecture reading, midterm, and paper. Life as usual, basically.

– KF –

Metaphysics By the Ear

Ernie’s away message at one point read, “Ever wonder if life is just a illusion and we are already in heaven or hell?” (to which I reply, if this is heaven why should this illusion be so crappy?) That made me wonder: what if we just made everything up in our heads and nothing around us is actually real? What if we’re all crazy and locked up, but living in an imaginary world? What if the people I think I’m interacting with are just a figment of my mind, behaving as I expect them to? Of course, one idea is that if I imagined everybody, they would be nice to me and my friends would act like friends – call me, spend time with me, not offer reasonable reasons not to spend time together (“homework” and “laundry” being most popular). Still, it is concievable that since I have such a low self esteem, I’m not likely to people a world with friendly, consistent beings. So how are we to know that what we see, smell, touch, and feel are actually real? In fact, that raises the question: what is real?

Say I eat a sandwitch. I have to walk to the kitchen, get out bread, mayonnaise, cheese, meat, and pickles. I can watch my hands do the proper motions, but how am I to know if the (real?) knife I’m holding is actually cutting real cheese? I raise the bread to my mouth; jaw muscles contract, teeth bite, then my hands pull the sandwitch away to tear it. I masticate, tasting the pleasant blend of flavors. But do I really taste them? Or am I just eating mush and thinking it’s a sandwitch? The sound playing in the background – waves of sound moving through the air, vibrating little hairs in my ears, and converted into electrical signals my mind interprets as “beautiful music.” Yet what is to say that music is real at all? Beethoven heard music in his head that was never played; but the question is, is any of the music we hear more than just in our own minds? Because they probably wouldn’t play “Fisherman’s Blues,” from the Waking Ned Devine soundtrack, in a padded room at my request.

Basically: what makes the world we’re living in, which is so innately believeable, actually the truth as opposed to a wonderful beautiful fantasy made up to cope with the horrors of the real real world? Of course I could get into religion, but I think I won’t this time because if I just imagined this…

– KF –

Recipe for a Thrilling Day:

1 early-morning alarm clock

15 minutes at the shuttle stop

200 obnoxious prospective WPI nerds

1 friendly shuttle driver named Bob

A dash of freezing winds

1 hr 15 mins of dull classes (double for extra fun)

2 hrs research wasted due to email errors

1 c. futile waiting

10 awkward minutes in a bright blue Focus (thank goodness they don’t sell the real blue any more.)

45 mins wandering around in the dark rain

17 completely incomprehensible pictures

A handfull of frantic hurrying

2 high test scores

1 friend to talk to

$7.50 worth of laundry

2 letters from mothers and an illegible postcard from an uncle

Grease a 62″x17″x6″ pan with Crisco. Set aside. Preheat oven to 35 degrees F.

Mix first 5 ingredients, mixing thoroughly with a blender on high for at least 3 minutes. Stir in freezing winds and dull classes. In a separate bowl combine in wasted research, futile waiting, awkward minutes, and dark rain wandering, adding incomprehensible pictures in a little bit at a time. Pour the second mixture into the first, stirring vigorously. Once that mixture is smooth, stir in the remaining ingredients as desired. If desired, sprinkle with a dash of clever puns, interesting reading (Kim, by Rudyard Kipling), no clean shirts, or other exciting ingredients.

When the mixture is completely dull gray, pour it into the pan. Bake for 15 to 16 hours or until pallid. Let cool for 8 hours. Serve cold.

And yes, the happy banana did come up when I did a Google Image Search for “big mixing bowl.”

– KF –

A Joke Walked Into a Post…

1q. What did the nuclear physicist have for lunch?

2q. What is an astronomical unit?

3q. What’s the most important thing to learn in chemistry?

4q. What did one photon say to another photon?

Other thoughts:

Don’t lend a geologist money; they consider a million years recent.

Have you heard the joke about the chemist reading a book about helium? He just couldn’t put it down.

1a. Fission chips.

2a. One heck of a big apartment.

3a. Don’t lick the spoon!

4a. I’m sick and tired of your interference!

It’s amazing the witty repartee that flies between my husband and myself at times. For posterity’s sake, I have begun collecting choice snippets. Here are my current favorites:

Him: Hey there, those are my glasses.

Me: I know they are. I know glasses when I break them.

Me: What would you like for dinner?

Him: Something simple would be fine. Like water…with a little bit of salt in it.

OK, maybe they aren’t that funny, but I felt they were. Certainly they’re more interesting than his constant muttering (it seems many computer guys do this – a trick of talking under their breath about whatever project diverts them at the time; it comforts me for some reason to hear Ian’s talk) and my occasional … we shall just call them mental conversations. Sadly the best ones aren’t really reprintable in polite company, and who knows what company *ahem*mom*ahem*mil*ahem*gmil*ahem* might be reading this.

Finally, as a thrilling closing thought, I would like to suggest that the urge to do any outdoor activity is inversely proportional to the temperature outside. Possibly an exponential decay function. Another side note: 92 – Math Exam; 94 – Marine Bio Exam; 99 – Geology Exam; 97 – Geology Paper; ?? – Marine Bio Paper. Doin’ OK. And here’s a nice picture of Jess.

– KF –