Saturday, May 24, 2008


A smooth drive up: 3 1/2 hours from Adams Morgan to the Liberty State Park ferry in Jersey City. Squalls and wind on the ferry out, sunshine on the way back. A disappointingly long line for security on the island, complete with those awful GE air-spritzing machines.

I spent half an hour getting through security once on the island, then an hour wandering around the monument itself. It's impressive. Needless to say, I was alone, but I kind of liked it that way. I'm glad I went.

The ferries were slow and peaceful, and were full of schoolchildren and moms. The view of NYC from the ferry was really stunning, especially once the sun peeked through the clouds on the way back.

A smooth four hours back, except for some commuter stuff on the beltway in DC.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I have a moral quandary.    Tomorrow is May 22, 2008.  Ten years ago, I graduated from college.   And let me forestall your complaint- I'm not whining about age; I've spent this decade well: two years in a job I liked, six years in grad school, and now two years in a job I really like.   So yeah, go me.  

The thing is, I have a promise to fulfill.   The summer after my college graduation, I stuck around for a while, working for a professor, and psyching myself up for Real Life.   My best friend at the time (or local best friend, at least), who I had been through heaven and hell with, was this fellow I'll call T.  We were the only ones in our respective majors who were double majoring, and the only ones who appeared to really be into one of those two majors.    Of our fellow majors, we each also were basically the only one the other could stand to spend a lot of time with.   There were a lot of late nights, a lot of bonding, a lot of good stuff like that.    We were pretty different personalities, but we got along out of a common thread of obsession re: our subject of study, and shared dislike for our peers.    The esprit de corps of shared suffering, if you will.    To this day, nobody has gotten me a better or more surprising birthday present, pace Cricket.

So one day, that summer, looking to a future, and being whimsical lads, we made a pact to meet ten years down the road.   The rules: it was to be at the Statue of Liberty, at noon, ten years from the date of our college graduation.   If the Statue wasn't open that day, then the immediate day following.   

 The other rule was that we couldn't ever speak of it again.    Failure to show up would be punishable by a hefty gift obligation. 

So, awkwardly enough, and it pains me to even write about it, we had a huge falling out that fall after I left.   I had been in agony the last year of college over a girl, who I was good friends with, and on who I had a huge crush.     T knew her as well- we ran in the same circles- but he had mostly been my counselor through the process, usually of the sack-up/get-a-life pep-talk variety.   I had tried to escalate with her but had been clearly told that it wasn't going to happen.   It didn't change my feelings, really.    Anyway, the fall after I left, they got together.   I was alone in the new city, and was absolutely wrecked.   I was 21.   It was really pathetic.   I hated them both.   They apologized a lot, and broke up maybe a year later.   

I've kept up with him over the years, but not with her.    He and I are ...civil.   We haven't been friends since the fall of 1998, though.

I had thought for many years that I would go to the Statue tomorrow, out of a sense of honor for my own promises and out of a spirit of the happy pre-screwing-me-over memories.    And I would, but...holy shit, is my job a shite-heap of stress and obligation right now.   I basically would waste day driving to NYC and back, although the effort would probably cost me enough emotional capital that I would need to track down one of several good friends in the city to get drunk with. 

Should I go?    I put the odds of him going at maybe 1%.   He lives in the Bay Area and is writing a thesis, so it would be ridiculously inconvenient for him. 

Friday, May 2, 2008

many worlds

In one possible universe, I could see myself doing this:

Nature Physics editor

It's funny how the first thought I had was that moving to England probably was a dumb idea, and second, that it probably didn't pay that well. 

On second thought, though, I bet they do pay decent; plus, weak dollar!   

For a guy who digs on both science and writing/reading, this could be a decent gig.   My quest to become Cornelius Bear would be in full motion.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I went camping in Shenandoah last weekend with two grad school friends, Space-Monkey and Jakov.   They arrived Thursday night, and while packing we ate pizzas and drank beer and watched Highlander.    They slept on my floor, which they didn't mind, because they're tough.

We packed up and drove out to Skyline, picked up some fishing licenses from a tiny-ass redneck mom-and-pop ammo shop, complete with pronouncements on the gun laws of every state on the drivers' licenses we gave them.   "California is a retaaaarded state!"  

We hiked down from some parking lot about 3 or 4 miles into the backcountry, along a stream called Jeremy's Run.   There were about five or six stream crossings, which were really annoying.  I'd never had to do those before.   Jakov was Mr. Balance and probably only did two-thirds of them but I really didn't like the thought of falling facefirst off a log. 

We found a good secluded clearing to camp in, and commenced two days of trout fishing, whiskey-drinking, and exploring.   I caught my first trout.   I cleaned my first trout.   I ate my first trout!   It was exciting.      We need more whiskey, though.

When we ran out of whiskey late Saturday, after hiding in our tents waiting for a thunderstorm to pass, we explored the ridge behind our campground, and ran into a black bear.   We saw him about fifty yards away, and stopped; he then disappeared, and then reappeared from another angle about twenty-five yards away.   That was our cue: slowly get the fuck out of there.   Thankfully he didn't follow us back to camp. 

It rained a lot Saturday night, but my one-man tent's fly held.   The hike out was brutal and quick: one hour or so up out of the valley.  

We had beers and good pub food at Ventnor's in Adams Morgan after coming back.   One thing I love about DC: even the shitty bars have decent kitchens.