Archive for the ‘new year’ Tag

New Year

The year 2010 still looks weird.


On the New Year

So it’s 2008.  The year of the rat, an election year, and (for me) the year of age 24, which is apparently a semiperfect number (this year was prime, of course).  Being the rather non-committal and sporadic blogger that I am, I decided to record a few miscellaneous thoughts, what’s on my mind at the moment.  Which, of course, seems to me the point of blogging in the first place:  to air one’s thoughts.  So with a brief and likely hollow promise to expand further on these topics at a later date, I’ll mention a few notables.

Today I was thinking about the extremely popular (and in many ways apt) metaphor of the brain as a computer.  They share memory (perfectly or imperfectly accessible), rational calculation (in theory anyway), reliance on electrical impulses, and links between physical damage and ability to function.  Other metaphors exist, of course, more or less popular than that of the computer:  the brain as a storage-cabinet or personal library (a long-standing representation that shares much with the current digital incarnation), as a mechanical assortment of gears, as a vat of various chemical solutions and reactions, and in Kurt Vonnegut’s estimation, “three and a half pounds of sponge and fluid, like a dog’s breakfast.”  And there are others.  Vonnegut’s aside, these metaphors seem to be more of a logical-functional kind, an input-output relationship between sensation and resulting thought, action, or feeling.  Chemicals combine; emotions result.  Neurons fire; thought occurs.  A smell or sound or sight evokes a memory.  Cause and effect.  I had more trouble, however, in thinking of more emotional metaphors, other than that of the chemical reactions.  I supposed that was because more often the “heart” is evoked (not in its physical sense, itself a much more mechanical organ than the brain) for such things, and in an utterly nonscientific way.  Because the brain is indeed the center of consciousness and our irrational as well as rational thought, I wonder what other metaphors we might find for it, that are not quite so strictly rational?  Vonnegut’s is definitely a good one, but chiefly useful in thinking about the inexplicable divide between the physical object and the abstract entities and ideas it can produce.

The kitchen is a place for many of our personal investments – not only do we place a great deal of money in convenient or time-saving or useful or whimsical tools and appliances to prepare our food, but we make small investments in foods themselves.  Spices got me thinking about this.  Unlike produce and sometimes meats and to a lesser extent dairy, which are bought to be consumed soon after their purchase, we “invest” in things like spices (or raw ingredients like flour, or canned goods, or bulk of anything) with the intention of using them at a later, often much later, date.  I’ve had my nutmeg and parsley and salt for more than a year now, and of course depending on the spice (and the brand) you can pay a great deal for those little herbs and powders, but with the intention of meting out the flavorful return on your investment among whatever meals you feel will be enhanced by them.  Spices generally aren’t as rare or costly as they once were, but we do still keep them in our kitchen’s coffers, waiting for the next time they’ll pay out.

I think I need a job with a little more power.  Substantial power, not simply some nominal and logistical independence.

Although it makes the snow an interesting color, I’m not a fan of the widespread use of orange (sodium, I believe?) bulbs in our street lights and porch lights and other forms of nocturnal illumination.  From the little I remember they are a cost-effective lighting solution, but they do very little for the attractiveness of city light pollution.  100 years ago (or more like 150, by now) anyone looking up at an orange-brown-purple sky would likely have been at best a bit worried about some natural disaster on its way, or a nearby large fire, or something.  Seriously – how messed up is that?  I miss actually dark night skies.  The black.  And the stars.  Then I started thinking about which color I might prefer to orange, if light pollution is (and it is) an inevitability.  A simple white seemed best, as it might imitate moonlight, an actually attractive night glow.  Green might be interesting, if bizarre – it is difficult to produce an artifical green that looks comparable to any natural green (in pigments, at least).  It might look like green traffic light everywhere, which could be worse but might be too bright.  The worst, I decided, would either be red (some kind of weird end-of-the-world or “masque of the red death” scenario comes to mind … or the red light district) or a bright ultraviolet type purple … it would be like living under a blacklight all the time, and would certainly give me even more migraines.  No, something white or grey seemed better … grey would be depressing, of course, but really most things look grey under insufficient light (see more on vision) so not much would be different.  Best of all, though, would be the closest approximation to sunlight … that kind of warm white, leaning toward pale yellow, that makes everything look so lovely in sunshine.  I think I’d be okay with that.

I forgot how much I enjoy the show “Scrubs.”  Season 2 is a good one.

And in conclusion, the day was too short, in part because I slept too long, but clean laundry, the old-timey radio station (WMKV), and lavender tea made it better.