Sunday, August 31, 2008

How To Meet Yourself (Today)

Today I woke up and I decided to change the world.

I'm going to prove time travel will exist in the future.

It's pretty simple. In the future, time travel will be invented. It will be illegal, however, to go back in time and meet yourself, for pretty obvious reasons: if someone burst into your room claiming to be you in the future, you'd either beat them up or call the cops.

So the plan is simple: I write a message to future-Sam telling him that at 4:00 PM on August 31, 2008, I will be expecting him at this address. The plan is a little tricky to enact, though. I doubt the post office will delay a letter 50 years, and I'm not reliable enough just to remember the time, date, and location. While I might be able to send myself a wake-up call in the future, I have no way of knowing what phone number I'll have or if phones still exist.

What remains?

Email. I'm going to have to email myself.

I use Google Calendar to create an event for August 31, 2050, and add a brief description as a reminder to myself:The trick here is that I might not be using the same email address. Sure, the possibility exists, but you can't be too sure. I have to try some obvious email addresses relating to my profession or my family. I decide on five of the most likely:

1. My current email address (most likely)
2. (in case we're one of those families that get our own domain)
3. (obviously Jeff will be the president, but he'll have added me to the ticket so women will vote for him)
4. (obviously)
5. (I guess they read my crayon post)

I add those names to the guests (in this case I haven't yet added the first and second addresses, as I don't want people to know my current address or last name):Now, for the big finish: an email reminder. I chose a 7-day reminder so that my future self would have plenty of time to alert the media and the authorities, get the proper permissions, and still be able to leave on the exact time and date (which I figure will make the time trip more ceremonial and hopefully easier.That's it! I'm all finished. I just have to create the event, and in 42 years I'll get an email reminding me it's okay to visit myself. I hope I'm still as desperately handsome, though I guess it seems unlikely I would be picked to be Jeff's running mate if I was anything less than incredibly good-looking. I'll probably be fine.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm expecting a guest.

Friday, August 29, 2008


If I had superpowers, I'd use them for evil.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


My family was staying in New York City last winter when our car was broken into. It was the middle of the night and my dad had carelessly left the GPS mount on the dashboard even though he had taken the GPS in. The robbers smashed the glass, opened the door, rooted through our glove compartment, and ran off.

My mom thought she had lost her sunglasses, but they had been in the glove compartment. The people who broke in had thrown them on the passenger's seat along with everything else.

Robbers broke into our car and found my mom's sunglasses.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thoughts on Frowning

People say it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

There's a moral to this, I guess, or at least there's supposed to be. The idea is that if people think it's easier to smile, they'll smile. Perhaps they'll even think that the human face was designed to smile, and that someone out there wants us to smile so he made it easy.

The primary issue here is that sometimes in order to feel better you need to frown.

Sometimes smiling is the problem and people need to frown but it's hard, it's harder than smiling because it requires less muscles and people like to do the easy thing so they smile and smile and smile until that's it, they're lost behind a smile because their moms were right: they had a face for too long and it froze like that. So they are forever smiling and laughing even when they don't want to be, when they want to frown a little bit they don't because they're lazy and frowning takes too much force that they don't have.

I wish it was the other way around. I wish smiling was harder. I wish smiling was like running in the rain because you have to work for it but it's the most rewarding thing you'll ever do. Every time your running shoes slap the wet pavement you get a little bit wetter and a little bit more exhausted but a little bit better, you get a little bit closer to the end when you'll be wet and exhausted but finished and smiling, smiling even though it requires so many muscles because it would require some other effort to frown and that's the kind of effort you don't have. You have the effort to stretch your face and smile. Smiling should be fantastic. Smiling should be unique because right now it's too easy to smile. People smile at everyone and it's all fake. If something's difficult, you know it's not fake. If everyone could give everyone a bicycle when they met them they would but they don't because it isn't easy to have a bicycle for everyone you meet so instead of bicycles we get smiles. I want smiles to be this impossibly difficult expression of everything. I want someone to smile at me and I want to feel so good about it that I want to smile back. I want to know they like me. I don't want something fake. I want to know that someone wanted to give me a bicycle but then they realized that would be too easy.

I would smile at you if things were like that. I promise.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Berlin 5

Marching Band always makes me think a lot about my own mortality.

**EDIT** First: I was joking. I've just been saying this a lot lately. Second: Those are old oboes from the Berlin Museum of Musical Instruments.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Un Soir dans Paris III

Heat had a mind of its own.

It seeped deep into the pavement, searching out every little crack and crevice, and, when none existed, it just tunneled through by sheer willpower, burying deep into the ground, finally settling upon the long-abandoned subway station where Felix was sitting alone.

A bead of sweat dripped down his face, and his stomach rumbled. He didn't have money for food on him, and he didn't feel like returning home for lunch. His older brother had once again been insulting Josephine over breakfast, calling her a "delusional teenager". Felix had stormed out of the house. He felt a little sheepish about the whole incident, but for now he'd let his family wonder what he was up to.

He heard light footsteps drift down from the staircase. He smiled and stood up from the bench. Josephine emerged into the station.

"Hey," Felix said, hearing his own voice echoing around the empty tunnel. "How was the meeting?"

"Pretty good," she answered, walking over to him, "Simon says we're about ready to plan some more attacks. He's been getting some more rifles and fixing them up."

"Cool," Felix responded vaguely. She sat down on the bench and put her bag next to her.

"I'll make a revolutionary out of you yet," she said, giving him a wry smile. He laughed weakly and sat down next to her bag.

There was a brief pause.

"Anyway," she said finally, "you want to get some lunch?"

"I left my wallet at home."

"That's fine. You can borrow some money from me."

She stood up, accidentally brushing against his hand while she grabbed her bag.

"Sorry," he mumbled, drawing his arms in.

"Oh no, Felix," she laughed, "our hands touched". She walked over to the stairwell and bounded up, taking the stairs two at a time.

Felix sighed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Berlin 4

I take it that you already know
of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
on hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
to learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
that looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead -- it's said like bed not bead --
and for goodness' sake don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt)

A moth is not the moth in mother,
nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there,
nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose --
just look them up -- and goose and choose,
and cork and work and card and ward,
and font and front and word and sword,
and do and go and thwart and cart --
come, come I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Man alive.
I'd mastered it when I was five.

-Author Unknown

Monday, August 18, 2008

Berlin 3

My primary concern with using the fisheye is similar to my concern with black and white pictures: these photos have an arty feel to them without much effort. I like fisheyes, and I think they're great for landscapes. Just like I stopped taking black and white pictures after Ali called me on my excessive number in April of last year, though, I think I'm going to retire the lens for a little while after I'm done with the Berlin pics. I think I'm not going to mature much as a photographer until I learn to take good pictures without a crutch.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Berlin 2

This came out kind of neat. Rachel looks a little washed out, but overall it's a pretty cool effect.

Also, frisbee tonight. Normal time, normal place. It would really mean a lot to me if you guys would come; this is probably the only game my sister can come to, and seeing as she just brought me to Berlin for a week I figure the least I can do is have her play with us. If you can come, please do.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Berlin 1

I choose names arbitrarily, for the most part. I don't take the stories I write here too seriously, so I don't usually bother with symbolism in names unless that's the point of the story.

**EDIT 2** Frisbee details for next week: There will be a game on Sunday, usual time, usual place. Games on Tuesday and Thursday are moved to 10 AM, same place, same length of time.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Bank Job

Andy was fifth in line, and he was nervous.

He had always been a little nervous at banks. Banks were tricky. Banks had forms that weren't easy to fill out. Banks had lines for different things, and he wasn't sure which line was for which thing, because he didn't want to deposit a check but he always seemed to be in that line.

Andy got stage fright ordering pizza. He would stutter out the wrong order, and then he would never correct himself because he knew his waitress would judge him. Andy once ate cheese in a salad even though he hadn't ordered cheese. Even though later he had to take two Lactaid pills and a Tums just to get over his stomach ache. Andy was fourth in line, now, and he was nervous.

His left hand was shoved deep in his pocket, clutching the note he had hastily scribbled, using a pen sitting on one of the two tables in the center of the bank. The pens had made Andy think about something his father used to say, how banks left their vaults open, but chained the pens to the table. Remembering, he had laughed out loud, and the sound startled him, startled the woman next to him, as it echoed through the silent room. He had almost lost his nerve then, almost left the bank, but he thought of the plan, and he stayed.

Andy was third in line now, and he was nervous.

Andy's right hand was shoved even deeper into his right pocket, clutching the object he had hidden there. It felt cold in his hands, a smooth metallic cold that sunk into his shaking fingers and shivered through his body.

Andy gulped and took a deep breath, closing his eyes. He visualized himself on an island, swinging in an unnecessarily large hammock and sipping a delightfully sweet drink with a little umbrella in it. Andy thought about the stress-management class he took, his failing grade on the presentation he couldn't even stand up to give.

The person behind him gave a little cough and Andy's eyes shot open, noticing the space in the line in front of him. He mumbled an apology and stumbled forward, stepping on the soft loafers of the man waiting ahead of him. He mumbled another apology. Andy's life consisted of a large number of mumbled apologies.

Andy was second in line, and he was nervous. He was certain he couldn't go through with what he was planning. He knew he wouldn't be able to pass the note to the teller. Months of going to the bank, nervously surveilling the building, figuring out which line went where. He had to have the right teller.

Andy was next in line, and he was nervous. Andy took a deep breath. He clutched the cold, unfamiliar object in his right pocket, and the crumpled note in his left hand. He couldn't do this. In his head, he pictured his failure perfectly: he would go up to the window, cough for thirty seconds, and then stutter out an excuse, chuckling nervously as he slunk away from the desk.

"Next, please," the teller called.

Andy walked up to the window. He coughed for thirty seconds.

"How can I help you?" the teller asked. Andy looked up at her. He thought about the months of planning. With all the determination he could muster, he passed her the crumpled, slightly sweaty note in his left hand. He took the tin of chocolates out of his pocket.

She looked at the note. She smiled.

"I get off work at seven," she said. "Where do you want to eat?"

Monday, August 04, 2008