Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mystery mustache

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

When I was a senior in college, shortly before the end of our undergrad term, everybody was intensely studying for final exams. The atmosphere was fraught.

But then something odd and surprising happened which ended up helping to relieve the tension. One of our dorm-mates — a fellow senior — showed up one morning at breakfast sporting a mustache.

Everyone was confused. How could he possibly have grown an entire mustache over the course of a single night? This time of year was weird enough for everyone.

My classmate sat there, mustachioed and smug. Clearly he was enjoying our collective mystification, as well as being the focus of our collective attention.

Finally one student figured it out. “Oh,” he realized, “you shaved off your beard.”

Cross currents

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Why does “mutable” refer to all the things that we can change,
When it should mean “Can be silenced”? It all seems so very strange.

And when we say “inflammable” we sound a bit confused,
For it means the same as “flammable”. Consider me bemused.

And then there is “impregnable”, which means something specific
Except when it means something nearly opposite. Terrific.

And when a thing is “current” it is up-to-date, you know.
But also it’s … Oh never mind, let’s just go with the flow.

A conversation, a document and a shout-out

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Today in My blog post for the Future Reality Lab I discussed the evolving relationship between conversations and documents. Augmented Reality is going to give us the opportunity to bring those two modes of communication together in ways heretofore unimaginable.

This post also allowed me to give a shout-out to a really wonderful recent article about the future of Augmented Reality by my friend David Allan Smith. If you want to learn more, I guess you will just need to read my other blog post.

Consider it a conversation between two documents. :-)

A magical day

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

One wonderful thing about going on a trip out of town for a week is that you really absolutely need to do all of the things that you sincerely meant to get around to doing but somehow you never did and then time dragged on and that list got longer and you started to feel guilty yet still you didn’t get those things done and then it all just turned into an overwhelming cloud of confusion and darkness and you didn’t even want to think about any of it anymore.

But then you’re going away for a week, so you have to think about it. And that is awesome!!! Because now there is no choice, and you must magically get all of those things done.

Tomorrow I will head out of town, which means today was my last possible day for getting absolutely everything done. Which I did.

So today was a magical day. :-)

To love a person is to love a journey

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

I was having a conversation today with a close friend that touched on the nature of love. The question we were discussing boiled down to the following: When you love somebody, who is it exactly that you love?

After all, we all know that everybody changes over time. Not only do we each change our perspective as we get older, but we also have new life experiences that can deeply affect our view of reality itself, as well as our view of other people.

So to say simply that you love somebody is actually, truth be told, merely shorthand for something much more complex. I tried to convey this idea to my friend.

“To love a person,” I told her, “is to love a journey.” We agreed that this sounded about right.

Three rabbis

Friday, January 11th, 2019

All cultures have certain shared values. Those shared values often express themselves in surprising ways. And those ways can be somewhat of a mystery to people outside the culture.

Sometimes I wonder how well my non-Jewish friends understand our Jewish subculture. Sometimes I just tell them the following joke, and see if they laugh:

Three rabbis were talking about their problems with mice in their synagogues. One rabbi said “We tried to put out mousetraps. But the very first Saturday morning, a trap went off right in the middle of the service. The whole congregation was upset that we had killed a living being on Shabbos. We figured we could just learn to live with the mice.”

The second rabbi said “We thought we would do it right. We hired a fancy professional exterminator. He tried everything, but nothing worked. The mice just kept coming back.”

The third rabbi said “We no longer have any problem with mice.”

The other two were astonished. “How did you manage that?”

He shrugged. “We just put out cheese everywhere in the synagogue.”

“But how could that possibly help?” they asked, incredulous.

“It was very simple,” he explained. “Every time a mouse wandered out to eat some cheese, we would Bar Mitzvah it. We never saw it again.”

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

When I was little I read Robert Frost’s Mending Wall. The title of this post is the first line of that wonderful poem.

Back then I found myself wondering just what it is, exactly, that doesn’t love a wall. The poem is somewhat elliptical on this point.

But now I finally understand the answer. The thing that doesn’t love a wall should be anybody in the U.S. eligible to vote in 2020.

A piece of cake

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Today I had surgery. It was unexpected but necessary. I’m assuming some of you have been there.

When we finally got down to the procedure, it turned out that there were two interesting items of note: (1) They couldn’t really anesthetize me completely, so there was going to be pain, and (2) I needed to keep absolutely still for the entire procedure. No dramatic mouth breathing, nothing that could cause me to move unexpectedly.

So for the entire duration of the surgery, I needed to remain totally immobile, regardless of whatever pain I was feeling. I did my best to comply, and somehow we muddled through.

Afterward, the surgeon complemented me on my ability to remain calm in the face of such extreme discomfort. “With any luck,” he said, “this is the worst pain you will ever experience in your life.”

At that point I felt it only fair to let him in on a little secret. “It wasn’t all that hard,” I told him. “I just reminded myself that everything is relative, and that there are worse forms of pain than this.”

“The entire time,” I explained, “I remained focused on the memory of my very worst romantic breakup. Compared to that, this was a piece of cake.”

Back in the lab

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

This past week I took some time off, far away from the lab. The experience was delightful and refreshing, and also gave me some much needed time to clear my head.

Today I landed back into the lab, in the midst of a hubbub of activity. People here are firing on all cylinders. Some are working on a big paper submission deadline that is now only a week away. Others are working together on a very big project that we will be showing at a major conference more than six months from now.

I have to say, I am enjoying every moment of it. It’s exactly this sort of crazy headlong creative rush of nonstop energy that makes me glad I live in New York.

Also, happy birthday Elvis!

Winter snow haiku

Monday, January 7th, 2019

It comes in the night
This gentle silence, to ask
All the world to dream