Monday, September 24, 2012

Some Days You Win, Some Days You Lose, Some Days You Just Get Pee on Your Shoes

I’m not sure why, but I am a person who gets lost. I’m very organized and careful, but almost every time I try to drive to a place I’ve never been, I get lost. I think it’s a combination of over-thinking and not trusting myself. During the month of September, almost every week-end day has involved my trying to find some random soccer field hours away from my home for my daughter’s travel soccer games. Last Saturday was no exception. We left 15 minutes late, and then, of course, I got lost. I spent the entire hour and a half ride about to pee on myself but unable to stop because we were already late, and I knew we would get lost, making us even later. After going the wrong way a couple of times and then driving past the field with NO SIGN (who does that? No sign at a soccer complex?), we pulled down a rutted dirt road into what looked like a grass field to find a few ratty looking soccer fields. I begin to panic as I look around for bathrooms and see NO BUILDINGS. My daughter jumps out and runs. I see another parent, who is a teacher at my daughter’s school and who I don’t really know all that well, (at least not well enough for what I end up saying in front of her later), sitting in a chair reading beside her car. I ask her about bathrooms; she doesn’t know. I sigh and begin to traipse across the field to the edge of the woods.

“Woods” is a loose term for what this briar-laced, poison-oak infested bog was. I lowered my head and charged through briars scrapping at my face and hair for a few feet. Have you ever noticed how thick trees and shrubs look from the outside looking in and then how thin they look from the inside looking out? I lowered my head and charged through more briars until I felt like people couldn’t see me. By this time, if some squatting didn’t occur very quickly, I was going to be sitting in stinky, wet pants for a very long time. So, in a rush and without looking, I squat in poison oak and pee on a mound of dirt from which everything that comes out of me runs directly onto my new tennis shoes. I am a college-educated, 45 year old mother of two teenagers squatting in a bog, peeing on my shoes. It does make you wonder where you’ve gone so wrong. I do the only thing I know to do. I hike up my poison-oak dusted panties and march my pee-soaked shoes through briars and mud and emerge from the "woods" looking like Swamp Thing with briars and leaves clinging to every part of me and with pee and mud on my shoes.  I get back to the parking lot, where I see a port-a-potty right beside my car. I look at the teacher/parent and sputter, “Mother Fucker. There’s a port-a-potty right here.”

Some days you win. Some days you lose, and some days you just get pee on your shoes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wherein An English Major Explains Quantum Physics (Ok, That May Be Hyperbolic)

photo by Anna Reavis
“Gentlemen…you are arguing about words, not reality.”  Richard Dawkins
Over the course of the last month, I’ve read two works of science nonfiction both of which, unfortunately, have had a common theme.  The first was Stephen Hawking’s book, The Grand Design, and the second, which I am still in the middle of is The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.  What I have found to be the unfortunate common theme is that both authors have had to explain why people should accept several fairly well-established scientific theories, one of which is evolution. The purpose of the entire Dawkins novel, in fact, is to attempt to convince people of the truth of evolution.  The Hawking novel deals with quantum physics and the birth of the universe, but even here Hawking has to address the issue of people who refuse to “believe” in carbon dating, among other scientific techniques.
I find it beyond disheartening that human beings still work to refute any new idea that falls outside of their established mental comfort zone. (See Galileo, circa 1633, among other issues.)  The way the world works doesn’t change just because we choose fuzzy math.  A  scientific theory describes a predictable, stable process by which, in our experience and based on our understanding of the world, something happens.  Even chemistry on some levels can be considered theoretical because not every reaction can be mathematically expressed and solved, but that doesn’t mean the reaction didn’t happen.  (Hawking)  Acceptance of scientific theories, then, is not properly termed “belief in.”  Acceptance of scientific theories simply means to acknowledge that the observable results validate the hypothesized process.   People have no problem flipping on a light switch and accepting that the resulting light is the product of a process called electricity, even though they don’t fully understand that process.  
Humans, by nature, want to see, understand, and intuit things.  In the case of quantum physics and in fact, in the case of many of the processes by which things came to be, this just is not possible.  We must accept the limitations of our brains, without lazily falling back on faith and religion.  There is no question that the easiest route is to throw up our collective hands and say, “God did it.  We can’t figure it out.”  But that is not the path to truth, even for intelligent believers.   Ask your own questions.  Do your own research.  Become a fully developed human being.  Don’t believe the propaganda.  Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.  Find out for yourself.

Less Sure About Less

" And at fifty, Less muses drowsily, you're as likeable as you're going to get." I experienced a strange transitio...