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"WE EVEN HAVE EARMUFFS, IF ANY OF YOU WANT A COUPLE."
Fine, the rest of this story will not contain shouted words, although the use of CamelCase at the start of sentences may be preserved; anyway, it pertains to a multiple-choice exam sat by the author recently, where the primary hindrance presented to the students consisted of FAA-compliant noise. Noting that nobody needed even a single muff, the proctor glanced at my choice of seating.
I nod, scattering allergens to assure the poison sniffers that the correct ghola had showed up for the Mentat Bowl, and prudently leave my cheating machines concealed yet readily accessible. Another proctor kindly wished me good luck, although the whorls of spacetime conspired me to think of the all-too-recent practice wherein children were forced to conform to seating limitations regardless of neurology. Ah well, we all bleed our age one way or another.
"Good luck!" said just about everyone, whether aloud, to themselves, or just to pretend they hadn't run out of mere politeness (quite the scarce resource).
Eventually, I notice a unital (as opposed to unitary, i.e. dimensional) discrepancy. These buggers are pernicious, especially when the exam purports to pertain to the physical sciences, but in truth does not contain a single SI-qualified value, opting instead for alphabet soup interspersed with "happy particles". I flag down a passing professor.
"You have a question for this one?", he mimes, doubtlessly thinking of the overworked teaching assistant.
"YES, YOU SILLY GOOSE, WHO ELSE?" I shout at nobody in particular, while nodding silently to respect the silence theater quivering at the brink of metastability. He walks over, punts my question at the nearest underspecified constant, and wanders off to give polite hints to less helpful questioners.
I guess it's time for me to eat more rotting fructose, since competitive thermodynamics is an awfully energy-consuming game: time is in finite supply, proportioned according to the Cayley-Hamilton nulleph (if you've got that sphere mapped; if you don't, please do: see Poincare's cut if you've already passed Dedekind). I don't blame that professor for my inevitable failure at this exam, as he'd actually given quite a helpful hint: he could tell I was asking for him to make a public clarification regarding a sloppily-worded question, the correct answer to which was painfully obvious, so he instead reminded me that the Grand Canon controlls how many ells deep drinks the spider.
Teacup - empty; birdseed - messy; orange - too flagrant a juicy snack, and there's still half the alloted time left! What could I possibly do now, other than start to actually work out the silly little calculus exercises? Maybe asking the proctors to unplug the noisy desktop computer fanning itself for no apparent reason, or at the very least tell us which prion it was busy refolding for the good of humanity, although somehow I suspect the answer to that would've been closer to:
Hush, little baby; don't say a word! ... never mind that noise you heard. It's just the wormholes in your ear, crawling thru that strength we fear.
At which point, the student to my right gets up, hands in his papers, and moves to leave.
"No! Stay!" quoth an audience member, who had elected to sit the exam undercover, out of true respect for the process.
"Sorry, honey, I've got a plane..." he replies, politely ignoring her "Can't it wait?" as he glides out, better than the most professional of bettors.
At least the desktop had decided to continue cooking its motherboard in silence by the time our friendly noisemaker began running his own fans overhead.
Lying along the shoals of inattentiveness, listening to each phonon (yes, I know how to use that word uncorrectly, too;) surf along the pitch black glideway, way below, I realize I've begun overhearing yet another conversation that never happened.
TRIGGER WARNING: IF YOU KNOW ME FROM SCHOOL, YOU MIGHT KNOW THESE PEOPLE TOO; ONLY THE WORDS, LEXEMES, AND CORRELATES HAVE BEEN CHANGED, TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF THE UNNOTICED AND THE SANCTITUDE OF YOUR MIND.
Three doctors - of philosophy, naturally - are quibbling over which rights to violate when administering the exam, in the hope that one will be sufficiently distrauchted by some best jest that a quick bid for the silverware could be made.
Quoth the theoretician: "First of all, the exam must be as fair as possible; all students who are required to pass the exam, must have an uncorrelated likelihood of passing the exam, and any students who wish to pass the exam, must have an uncorrelated likelihood of passing the exam, and any correlations arising unintentionally must be uncorrelated with each other correlate, in so far as --"
He's been interrupted by now: "That's a load of nonsense. You've written the exam by now, so why don't you tell us what's unfair about it? Noone will be judging you. Why don't you... do it in the code?"
Before he can deliver the correct, coherent, counterpoint, the third one suggests: "Any unfairness unavoidable in the exam should be biased in favor of those students who have attended lectures, in some power per portion of time wasted together."
"WHAT!?" is the inevitable reply, so he continues, explaining exactly what he means: "The exam is unfair, and always will be, so I'd rather at least encourage us to all waste our time together. I don't want academics to devolve into each student spending a semester in a silent sterile cube with a pay-per-view port to some quintessence datahose and a shelf full of dead-tree graffiti painstakingly curated by some long-dead Adlai."
Silence. You could hear a pin drop, land right-way up, and blow up the tire of the next hrududu blundering down the street (and what a fine alarm clock that'd be!).
"Did you just use a student's name as an expletive?", asked the practician of theoretical jurisprudence.
"Yes, because we all know exactly what I meant by that; if you have a problem with what I said, say whatever you want instead, but let me finish my gottanjecture."
After one of the department events, opening or closing one semester or another, I joined a circle of students chatting over pizza and beer on the lawn. Not wanting to make uncontextual interruptions, I listened...
"The system here is so unjust!" said one student to the one sitting next to her. "It gives priority to graduate students who accept teaching positions, over those who do other kinds of work, or even don't work at all, preferring to focus on their own research."
"Word", he said, sipping his pizza, biting off the top of a beer bottle, or whatever it is that the males do on your planet.
"This is especially unjust to me, because I can't teach," she continued. I listened a little longer, but we'll skip over the bits that I did when I interrupted:
"Why did you say earlier that you can't teach?"
"Because I can't."
Maybe it had something to do with the part of the conversation over which I skipped, or maybe nobody had ever even offered her a chance to see that she's probably not the only person around who understands whatever she understands however she understands it. I guess her teachers, however faithful they may have been to the blessed curriculum, must have neglected the more important lessons.
I left her talking to the guy with whom she had chemistry; life is too far from equilibrium for useless reactions.
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. - Kilgore Trout
I've led a rather blessed life, so far: I've never had to perform acts of mortal violence against people, nor have I witnessed the salty splashed remains of such action. Ironically enough, those who profess a desire to save lives and heal, are more likely to end up playing the roadside autopsy game, where harm done is measured as correctness of identification rather than reduction of inflammation. But I digress, and nobody cares much about my military service; after all, as I told my lab partner just before the last sunset: "All I ever really did myself was tell other people what to do."
Some people I've known personally over the years are dead by now, as often happens to people after you know them long enough. What's less common, although does occur once you know enough people of the various kinds, is that they die by their own hand. Three times in my life have I encountered the news that yet another doctorate in practical existentialism has been granted, and coincidentally enough, none of these volunteers for an early afterlife deigned to leave behind their dissertation. I don't blame them; after all, annealing such thoughts into human language is messy enough work without the added challenge of not being around to edit the result.
On the one hand, I've already mentioned elsewhere the second instance, and I'm loathe to elaborate upon it, for a variety of reasons. The only one which matters in this case is that that story forms a brief chapter in my long-forgotten upcoming memoir. On the other hand, the third instance is simultaneously too personal, and too impersonal, and too soon, and - although that friend's memorial service just the other day triggered the thought-helix leading to this post - no, I'm not telling that story yet, either. The first instance really shouldn't count, although black humor can be found even in such sanguine remains, so I'll give it a shot - just like the instantiator himself!
One guy who went through basic training together with me was quite the basket case: the kind of dork who literally hits himself after realizing how stupid he's been, without even any bully around to mockingly tell him to stop hitting himself. This poor shmuck had glasses thicker than his own skull, and his skull was quite thick, because he spent most of basic hitting himself, because this poor shmuck just couldn't get anything right. He was the kind of kid who couldn't get through the morning routine without getting toothpaste in the barrel, gun oil on his pants, and boot black on his face. Soldiers are rarely nice people - the average platoon could make a kindergarden playground look like a safer space than the campus of Snowflake University - and we soon had a nickname for this shmuck: we called him Shock.
Shock must've had a good heart, because he volunteered for medic training. Not only did he surprise us all by actually surviving medic training (they do some rather gruesome hazing, if the stories are to be believed, but those are not mine to tell), he also volunteered for the most thankless assignment: yep, Shock went back to that part of the desert where men are turned back into boys again, where the worst of humanity is strained out and molded into rank and file: Shock went to minister to the next crop of drafted children. One day I hear the following brief tale:
"Hey, remember Shock who went to become a medic? We need to find him a new name. One of the kids there shot himself in the shower. Poor old Shock found the remains, and now he's no longer in shock!"
ONE NOTE SAMBA: Some of the facial recognitions in this dreama have been scrambled, to protect the innocent and leave the guilty enough rope to figure out which way the savage swings without even reading Huxley.
It was halfway through meal chat with a barely-recognizable homozygotion between Naked Emperor and The Comedian that I realized the self-important shmuck across the table wasn't exactly watching my six.
"Enschule-digger my shbitte!" I opened with calm loudness, turning towards the moving shadow. "Obwohl meine Deutsch ist nicht also schecht zu keine verstehe, es ist sehr impolite to behead a guest against their knowledge, without even letting them know why; and incidentally, that's not even the respectful arrangement for this kind of execution, if you honor the same codes as I've read."
My would-be assassin, lowering her scimitar-shaped lightblocker, vanished from the dream. She'd played a similar role earlier, and may have been insulted that I hadn't spoken to her much about languages, or too much in the wrong ones, but that didn't matter anymore, for I never saw her again. At this point, the plot quickened, synthesizing Wink Murder, Russian Roulette, and Garbage Contortion in a pathetic parody of how well Tim O'Brien makes war stories true by sheer force of repetition... yet it unfolded somewhat thus:
Once I'd realized my skull was so full of actors that they were about to start killing each other for the sheer joy of cooking, Old Faithful blurted out the escape coordinates: "I've got a joke in the oven and you're not afraid to tell it!" I had some trouble following that impersonal instruction, wondering whether I should just call to tell the MC "the band is just about ready, oh no,", the bassist that the guitarist forgot the chords but will be "countin' the names o' the modes until he's free", or the pianist that he should just show up taking care to bring himself - the self, and nothing but the self - and most importantly, assume the drummer hasn't practiced in a long time, until Old Faithful blurted the escape coordinates again, this time in the right projection:
Is your band named Bluesic? ...cuz you're the only blues I hear!
ACHTUNG: While this post is not about noise suppression, I'm gonna skip the bets placed by the bot identifying itself as "Opera" until further notice. (at the very least, because it placed most of 'em twice, and the rest looked like fake pentest flash dispersors!)
One night about a year ago, outside the Tel Aviv Bitcoin emBassy, some fellow was being a loudmouth; in fact, a bunch were, and I, apart of that crowd yet picking it apart as I went, got sick of the noise. Eventually the loudest one of all seemed to bellow asking for a timeout.
"Listen, son," said I, while tapping that guy on the knee. "You oughtta shut up for a while, and listen to what those guys are saying. You might not remember this story exactly thus, but you know the drill."
That sorry shmuck bellowed even louder, and crescendo to boot: "No, no, no, no, no!"
He didn't yell in English either, but you can guess what it sounded like if you've ever heard people talk... much more like an unemployed singer delivering his stage orgasm, than an actor waiting for a job. After he was done yelling, I kept listening:
"Sorry for reacting thus to your grip. I was a school soccer star and I'm not used to having my legs fouled quite so rudely. If you can listen to so many conversations in parallel yet still follow the ball, why don't you go be a sportscaster for something better than a two-bit bucket shop?"
My response arrived, and that actor even delivered a convincing impression of having understood my words: "Son, you're getting carded before you can yell like that again. Can you tell what color card this is?"
He blinked, threw his glasses aside (without stomping them underfoot, as that would have been an excessive hyperbole), and gave the correct answer: "Do you want that information in primary, secondary, or frequency-balanced nuclear spectral densities?"
Believe it or not, I still owe that guy money. I doubt he remembers how much, and the exact sum ain't worth the paper it wasn't inked into, yet the story is true; he claims the debt is owed to a man long dead, so there is much remaining to debate.
This one's dedicated - with no regrets and only a drop of respect - to my fellow cadets, whatever kind of field we span.
Someday, I might fence in an area, and exercise some planning over what blooms. I doubt I'd care enough to call it a garden, but there'd be clear selection rules, and eventually, I'd have to put a sign up, warning the literate passersby which way the road goes:
- Here there be poppies
- If you render latex for opioids, please do it off my property.
- If you are misfortunate enough to get shot by a member of the Citizen's Highway Patrol, whether on or off duty, please hire a lawyer.
- If you can't afford to hire your own, please be nice to the one you get!
You don't even have to be that honest. They can usually tell.
"I've been trying to optimize my morning routine." I sip whatever it was - most likely, ethanol with a dash of poison - and impel across the table as loudly as is possible to send a silent thought, that sipping a drink and staring into space is a reasonable substitute for "YES I AM STILL LISTENING KEEP TALKING IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY". Who knew, maybe there'd be something said, by the end of that next exhalation. "You know, all that must happen between opening my eyes, and closing the door from without."
Now that we'd gotten that far, and I've gotten this far from then, it's about time to prune a loop and see whether le sed's got anything to say, se ipse. I know the metaphor doesn't quite compute, but that's part of the point: if the metaphor clicked right into place, there'd be a complete subgraph of indiscreet questions (such as - "Which place? Clicked how loud? and What did it truly mean?"), whereas a dangling metaphor is almost as flexible a nunchuck as a swinging participle. Relax, bruvnator: these are tools for thought, not bullets!
As I often do, I'll avoid those baggage-laden words which only serve mental course obstruction; were you there, you may recognize yourself in the autopsy, but I'll do my best to follow Taraza's last command, here summarized ad exsecutibus: "if you're captured... burn your own heads, shatter them completely. Take the necessary precautions.".
I'll skip the question of why the above was said to me, as opposed to any other of the many heads that listen, talk, and even walk; more interesting are the implications of that technique, where a daily routine is shaved down to essentials, yet - and here I point at some context, so do a favor and fire up some more content-addressable - for what purpose is this one ritual honed, whereas the day's bulk is treated as mere mothballs, necessary stinking fluff that fills the empty spaces whence the vital style flows?
In closing, a lone crumb for none but my own amusement:
"Sure! I know exactly what you mean. You want a morning routine as reflex-driven as the act of blinking itself. Where's that approach belong: strategy, tactics, ... ?"
TRIGGER WARNING: Vital escense is not absorbed by the kidneys!
Hokay, so: there's the sun, which is active matter of one sort.
There are planets, or overgrown, well-behaved comets, or aggregated, annealed, aquatic asteroids, or whatever you call the rocks. You can kick them quite hard, cut your teeth on them, eat them, smash them at eachother to make more or less of them, but as far as I can tell, they're the kind of stuff the turtles swim above.
On the better-civilized parts of some rocks, are a bunch of... museums. I use that word in the Wolfeian sense, and expect audience familiarity with everything I can recall during the acts of creation, editing, auditing, and reliving, so a "museum" is not quite what you'd expect. Perhaps you know me better than I do myself, and you could define the concept more accurately than my feeble effort, so I'll let you do that yourself as an audience exercise.
One of my earliest memories involves a dispute about who'd visit which parts of a museum, under what conditions (note the omission of unpriced admission). When museums grow large enough, these disputes can heat so vigorously as to cut costs on central heating, and soon enough the tearily nostalgic demand for a thermostat gives way to the much more interesting challenge of climate maintenance. Control, as you may be aware, is naught but the name of a button or two on various antiques littering this museum; maintenance, whether by hand, foot, or nail, is a fucking career.
The incorrect way to express displeasure about museum administration is by amateurly executing the chief executive amateur.
RIP Yitzhak Rabin (b: 1 March 1922; d: 4 November 1995; c: trauma, kidney failure, life)
TRIPLET WARNING: The following content consists entirely of a single three-item ordered list. If you are contextually biased to skepticism towards three-item lists, please await the publication of the five-, seven-, and eleven-item Deluxe Editions before inquiring at your local wholesaler.
1. In The Beginning...
One of the earliest memories of my maternal grandmother involves advice to her youngest grandson, at the time, who has having difficulty concealing the fact that he didn't much enjoy not wearing diapers anymore. If I recall correctly, although memories from such a past life are notoriously unreliable, I had just been scolded for sulking about for hours, accumulating unspeakable stockpiles of kidney stone nucleation loci, not to mention stool samples that could give IKEA a run for their fiat any season of the year. "Just let it out, kid! Learn from your elders." Well, she was a little more polite than that, but please indulge me and use your God-given imagination like it was meant to me used. Curious little cunt that I was at that age, I must've asked her what harm could possibly come to me from putting off work that would eventually do itself; and I rightfully expected her to have a good answer to this, seeing as she was living off a pension from the service half of the medical industry's frontest of offices. "If you let that all bottle up inside you, circulatory kinematics will hinder the flow of nutrients to your heart... and if that's a number two you're holding in, you might be able to keep those cooking for days on end, but sooner or later your stomach will hurt like shit."
3. ... and at the end.
One of my last memories of her places her in the geriatrium where she spent some of the last weeks of her life. I'm quite sure she remembered my visits and me, not to mention the familial parade that kept me sitting around long past when she seemed to have forgotten them moments later. She'd had physiological difficulties aplenty for decades and survived them better than the best, but at this one moment she gave a particular impression of not doing so for much longer (at least, not unassisted). I could've sworn I heard my brother whisper to our father, "I think she's dying", but he swore later that he thought she just wanted to go to sleep already. I'm not quite so politically motivated an editorializing recontextualist as to suggest that my grandmother (who lived out her post-holocaust adult life as the positive counterpart to Kesey's Ratched) taught me that life is only sacred so long as it kicks to keep kicking, but at the very least I learned to appreciate sensory precision.
2. Oh and that one time?
... when she interrupted my procrastination of yet another kind of work that doth itself do. I must've been in those formative years better known as the "almost preteen", and had school that morning (it was tomorrow by then, although nobody had yet told the Sun). My main fear was that she'd scold me for dicking about instead of sleeping, and my excuses had indeed all been used up the day before when she'd seen me finish my homework quite early. In case your mind teetered on the brink of some proverbial gutter: at that age, my idea of dicking about at that hour consisted of wondering just why it was that the Microsoft stack deigned it so unnecessary to respect login sessions when the computer was more or less prevented from talking to its peers. This fledgling detective work was hampered by the innumerable moralizations (many of them self-contradictory when followed far enough) stemming from what I'd seen on the cover of a magazine intended more for moms than dads: "SHOULD YOU SPY ON YOUR KIDS?" Forgive me for posting this riddle's answer in such close proximity, but in case you needed any help: not unless you enjoy heart attacks and sleep paralysis so much that you'd like to have a new hell tailor-made where you can experience both at once! If your imagination isn't yet working at this point, insert Tab A into slot B and press Back to continue. My fears were unfounded: she was thrilled to see that her grandson was not only playing around, but playing with office machinery that could simulate quantum annealing of racial genetics faster than the ethics ministry could convince me that a holocaust joke isn't quite appropriate, not to mention wholly anachronistic because Hitler's Venus Project would've needed at least five of those to takeoff real quick. Her fears were probably more along the lines of me redecorating the apartment with the use of excrement and matches, and evidently she got the impression that I'd just found the old sliderule and was trying to puzzle out what the less obvious scales computed... little did she know that I'd found the abacus instead, and was taking baby steps towards applied plumbing.
Whoops! I should've warned you about nonlinearities, although if you've ever seen a sliderule, you probably saw this one coming: I preemptively forfeit my chance to bid upon the chalice of history in deferrence of the claim made by that greatest of liars (save only Baudolino): the historian formally attributed as `Harq al-Ada'.
LEAK TRIG EDIT TODO WARN
sangre blue de dio hic tvam acid ... sipping brew, chanting the shapes no waves form while the lifegod watches a pedestrian shout caution to a swimmer about passing nature's water breakers. after morning rituals (e.g. mourning a ship's rotting carcass, fresh boiled coffee, mega seed hunt) but before morning lost children, we seek shade like the lazy fools we all are.
music, music, all so fish, yet no more drops, man; THINK! who cares what he said she said, this trip's braintoy's le sed.