Monthly Archives: November 2001

that fluorescent glow

as i was lying in bed the other day, rain pouring down like it was the arrival of the apocalypse, i was thinking to myself, ‘is there any good excuse i can come up with for not going into work today?’ silence ensued in my brain. then came several other small trains of thought, one several cars long contemplating things i didn’t like about my office, an express related to bathroom functions, and an intercity train leading to vacation.

on that first train were thoughts of fluorescent light bulbs. yes, my brain leads an exciting life…it’s true.

i’m not certain whether they’re satan-spawn or energy-saving saviors. i tend to think the former. i know why we put them in office buildings, but they’re so dehumanizing for some reason. now, i know i’ve got some issues around lighting (naked light bulbs are tantamount to nails on a chalkboard for me), but i don’t think i’m far off base here. here are just a few reasons why i think fluorescents should be banned from any office with a modicum of respect for its denizens:

  • you never see full-spectrum lighting in autopsy rooms – always fluorescent
  • the almost-perceptible buzzing noise they create (think barton Fink and mosquitoes…)
  • the healthy, semi-green glow one gets after working under their soothing white wash (not)
  • the lack of concomitant lighting design creativity (‘hey! why think? i can just put in more of these fluorescents!’)
  • late-breaking additions by frh:
    • pro: you can use them for mock jedi battles if things at the office get too tense
    • con: they interfere with the warm, comforting glow of the cathode ray tubes

my work here is done. go forward and unscrew fluorescent bulbs around the world. send the subversive message to the masses (if it’s one with which you agree). learn how to save energy without them, and make the office world a healthier, saner place.

off the hamster wheel

thanksgiving has arrived. the first big holiday of the season. i suppose this could be good or bad, depending on your perspective. personally, i am always a bit underwhelmed by the holidays; the commercialism at christmas is enough to make any self-respecting capitalist puke. however, thanksgiving is my favorite (modulo any associations with white male oppressors celebrating after they’ve conquered the local brown folks etc etc etc).

i worked from home (no quotation marks) today, and ran out of gas at the end of the afternoon. i decided to take a nap, even though i had more work to do. the hamster wheel never stops spinning, as long as you stay on. i jumped off, but it seems i’ve gotten a bit nauseous as a result. we work so hard sometimes that we don’t even realize it. it becomes the normal state of affairs. to you, with all of the work piling up, you’re standing still, whereas to an observer in a stationary reference frame outside of the hamster wheel, you’ve collapsed into a ball of focused white lightening, buzzing and spinning.

and so i’ll try to stay off the wheel for a few days, to enjoy the company of friends, and to relish the ritual of a shared meal to celebrate everything we have to celebrate. and we have a lot to celebrate, the madness of the outside world notwithstanding. my best wishes for a wonderful day to anyone reading my noodlings about hamsters and physics (probably only ryan and ryan at this point…).

everyday heroes

in most of our everyday lives, we aren’t faced with invincible multi-armed foes or impossible odds. we don’t storm a beach at normandy after breakfast, or fly to the moon over the weekend. we watch movies. we get coffee. we go for a hike. we stub our toes. we work and we do our best. or at least, that’s what I do.

as I drifted off to sleep last night, after-images of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ in my head, I thought about these things. i thought about the last part of the movie, when a man thinks of the sacrifices others made so that he could live a life of freedom. he asks, ‘have I been a good man? did I live my life as best I could?’ faced with the acts of heroism that made his life possible, I guess he was asking, ‘have I been a hero in my own life?’

what does it mean to be an everyday hero, if you don’t save lives, if you don’t thrill millions, if you don’t alter the course of human history?

i think heroism takes shape in small things…the waitress who smiles brightly when you order your eggs and homefries (and of course, that biscuit with herb gravy). the corner grocer who sells little things that make your life more pleasant (coke, chips, beer, whatever). or maybe it’s the thing that girl said to you at work that made you look at life a little differently. or the homeless guy who seems happy when he talks with you, even though he’s got every reason to be sad. a million things that I overlook or take for granted every day. and all of these things done without expectations of thanks or recognition…any hero who basks in the glory of their heroism just seems cheap – a cardboard cutout, a fake. it’s the ones who never say anything that are the most amazing, who are just doing what needs to be done, doing their best, trying to do something good for other people or the world. no cool green tights, flak jacket or space suit. just real people, living as best they can…