Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Geekdom / Pride / Selfishness

I like being weird. I don't know exactly why. Maybe it's because I love knowledge and I want to better understand the world around me. That would be fine. But maybe it's because I love the feeling that I know more than someone else. Maybe it's because I crave attention, like when I reveal an obscure tidbit of information and someone looks at me startled, delighted, puzzled, and disgusted simultaneously.

Actually, I think it's all of the above. I like being a nerd because it's fun. It's fun to know a lot of things, because then I can do a lot of things. It's fun to know more than other people because, well, I'm male, and it's just genetic to want to be better than everybody. And it's always fun to get attention, even if the attention isn't attraction.

All in all, I think I'm the most selfish person that I know. In case you've ever thought that about me and wondered if I realize it, I do. I hate it. But I love it. I want to change it, but I can't really figure out how. I want to love other people more than myself. Sometimes I do, and it's one of the greatest feelings in the world. Then my life has purpose. I feel a sense of— DAMN IT! Look at that! I'm talking about how great it makes ME feel when I love someone else more than myself. Even if that somehow makes sense, it's the wrong motivation for loving other people. I'm hopeless. I try praying about it. Sometimes it helps. Most of the time it doesn't.

Hm. Well, that turned out to be a much grimmer post than I expected. Oh well. It's the truth.

Excluding this sentence, I used the word "I" twenty eight times in this post. That's probably about average on this blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

UPDATE: The Bad Plus

Just in case you were too stubborn to follow my link in my last post, or you are one of those people who will watch videos but not listen to audio clips (can anyone give me a legitimate reason for that?), here's a video of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" covered by The Bad Plus. Even in this lo-fi concert video, you can hear the beauty.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This is your brain on 478.8MHz electromagnetic radiation.

I have found no hard evidence that cell phones cause brain cancer. I mostly believe it's yet another pointless scare perpetuated by local television news shows trying to gluttonously hoard ratings. [Another blog post in itself — these are stacking up, aren't they?]

In the past, this cell phone health debate was of little concern to me, as I generally despise talking on the phone and would much rather write or speak face to face. Since I only held my phone to my ear a couple minutes a day, other people would start dying of brain cancer long before I would. I'd have sufficient warning.

However, by an inexplicable yet delightful series of improbable events, I found myself in a short-distance relationship with a seriously quality girl, which has now become a medium-to-long-distance relationship. This means I can no longer avoid communicating for extended periods of time through a low-fidelity audio signal that gets chopped into tiny bits and hurled vigorously from a wire that shakes electrons around hundreds of millions of times a second less than an inch from my brain. (Can you think of a less pleasant way to communicate?)

Alas, I must confess: the poorly researched scare stories of the TV news producers have succeeded. I think it's time for me to don the headset. I estimate I can reduce total electromagnetic flux through my brain by several kilowatt hours over the course of my life. Will that reduce tissue damage by any measurable amount? We'll find out, I guess.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Bad Plus

I really love a good cover song. When one band records a song written by another band, it can often be an awkward mismatch of styles, but sometimes it's exactly what the old song needed to gain some new and different energy. I don't have time to write a whole post on cover songs right now, but I wanted to share a new band I found today:

The Bad Plus. They're a jazz trio. They cover rock bands like Radiohead, Nirvana, and Pink Floyd, which isn't really anything new — a lot of those jazz cover bands are pretty gross, but these guys put some serious thought into these songs, and perform them spectacularly.

Go here, scroll down to "The Bad Plus" and listen to their take on Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb". It blew my mind a little bit. I can't explain, you would not understand. You just have to listen.

Or, if you are too lazy to click away from this page, here they are performing Aphex Twin's "Film":

Monday, January 12, 2009

It starts.

Today was the first day of the rest of my life. Luckily it was a good one.

I started my new job today. Like a for real job. Like a full-time, salaried, non-internship, indefinite length of employment job. I've had mixed emotions about entering this phase of my life and, well, actually I still do; but my first day could not have been better.

[For a multitude of reasons, I'm not sure whether I want to reveal the identity of my employer on this blog, but suffice it to say that it is a producer of small electronic devices for the consumer market, and I will henceforth refer to the company as "Inc".]

I've twice been a summer intern at Inc and enjoyed it both times, so I had no great fears about going back. (Lots of fears about full-time jobs in general, but none about working at Inc.) Going back was the most comfortable first day experience possible. I already knew everyone, I knew where everything was, I knew how things worked, I knew how awkward and engineerish the electrical and software new hires would be. It was like putting on a pair of well broken-in shoes, but the ease of re-entry was only the beginning.

I am a mechanical engineer at Inc. There are about forty of us, and we are divided into several teams according to the types of devices we work on. My first summer there, I was on the Marine team. I designed devices for boats. It was pretty cool. The second summer, I was on the Automotive OEM team. I designed dashboard mounts for our devices. It was less cool, but still okay. My dream team has always been the Fitness/Outdoor team. I've always wanted to design devices for hiking, biking, running, hunting... devices for playing, basically. Big kid toys. I told this to my supervisor in last summer's exit interview. He told me that if I returned, I would probably be back on OEM for a while, but that I could probably move to Fitness eventually, maybe after a few months or a year.

So as I was finishing my paperwork in HR today, I was greeted by a friend of mine from the Marine team, with whom I had worked closely during my first internship. I assumed he was just there to escort me up to my office on the fifth floor, since my security badge was not yet done printing. When he told me that he had been promoted to Fitness and Outdoor team leader and that I would be working on his team, I almost exploded with surprise and joy! But I think what the rest of the world saw was me saying "Cool!" with the full measure of classic Greusel male forced enthusiasm. [That's another blog topic in itself. Remind me later.]

That was the best moment of the day by far, but there were other good things too: I was genuinely happy to see all my mechanical engineering buddies again. My new officemate, who I never really worked with or got to know before, is very cool. And there were lots of other neat little things that are meaningless to anyone who isn't a mechanical engineer at Inc.

So, as I said before: Despite having deep reservations about any line of work with only two weeks of vacation a year, I could not be more excited about my new job.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Too Beautiful

I saw this video on the Smashing Magazine blog, and it blew my mind. I admit that if you score anything with Sigur Ros' "Hoppipolla", it has a big head start at capturing my heart, but the cinematography / animation / editing / effects in this short film are so beautiful I can hardly stand it.

To watch in even more stunning high-resolution, go visit this page.