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The Misadventures of Quinxy von Besiex truths, lies, and everything in between

5Jun/130

A Bad Vegetarian’s List of Edible Vegetables

Vibrant Produce

I'm a bad vegetarian.  My diet is somewhat limited by peculiarly specific taste/texture dislikes which exclude most vegetables.

The only ones I can eat are:

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Black beans
  • Brown beans
  • Corn
  • Lentil
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Soy beans (not a huge fan, but I can eat them)
  • Chick peas (not a huge fan, but I can eat them)
  • Squash (only in soups with lots of bread available)
  • Onions (in small pieces and in certain situations)
  • Peppers  (in small pieces and in certain situations)
  • Tomatoes (in small pieces and in certain situations)
  • Celery (only in soup)
  • Mushrooms (only tiny dried pieces in Stroganoff/etc.)
  • Avocado (only in very small amounts in burritos/etc.)
  • Spinach (only in very small amounts in certain situations)
  • Chives (in small pieces and in certain situations)
  • Parsley (in small pieces and in certain situations)
  • Garlic

That being said, I can eat other vegetables in very limited/special situations, generally involving minute amounts in some foreign food.  For example, I can eat a vegetable fried egg roll as long as I don't dwell on the contents (if I were to open up the egg roll and try to eat it from the plate that would be a great challenge).

I wonder how common peculiar food issues are.

^ Q

31May/130

Cruelly Ephemeral Knowingness

I don't know how to truly cope with the experience of gaining then losing knowledge.  Knowing that I graduated fifteen years ago with a degree in mechanical engineering and now retain at best 5% of that knowledge makes my recent return to school for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) feel frighteningly useless.  I'm slightly accustomed to the month to month ebb and flow of knowledge (like 6 months ago I was on top of C# but now I'm off my game there and now on top of JavaScript), but signing up to devote years studying something only to know you'll forget the vast majority of it soon thereafter (much lost even before you graduate) really troubles me.  Obviously what I need to be convinced of is that, (for example) though my detailed knowledge of engineering and related maths are seemingly gone it could be revived reasonably quickly should the need arise.  And I'm just not entirely convinced of that.  I'm not convinced that it wouldn't make just as much sense to take a Cliff's Notes' version of courses and then be exposed to the details when and if you actually need them in your career.  But, presumably that wouldn't work, you need to temporarily comprehend the details in order to temporarily comprehend the stuff upon which its built which you need so that in the fullness of time you will at least remember those weathered/eroded pillars of learning.  I intellectually accept that most people experience this phenomena, but it feels like such a very personal cruelty, it's hard not to imagine it only happens to me.

^ Quinxy
(Originally in a letter to a friend.)
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22May/130

Hello, Goodbye Lovely Turtle

byebyeturtleHow quickly life can remind you that a day can be a truly miserable thing.  Today mine started with a major fight with my girlfriend, Francine.  In an attempt to escape the poisoned atmosphere of the house we set off on a pleasant but utilitarian outing.  Any facade of pleasantness was instantly destroyed about 45 minutes later when I saw a huge, lovely turtle run over by a truck.

It died because I failed to save it.  I saw the turtle emerging from the tall grass by the side of the road and stopped as quickly as I could, about 80 feet down the road (the speed limit was 45 mph, there was no shoulder, lots of cars behind me, I pulled off into a side road).  I got out and began to go back towards the turtle but in those few moments it had moved far faster than I ever could have imagined and was already a third of the way into the traffic lane.  A large passenger bus saw it but only drifted over the line to avoid running it over directly.  The under draft knocked it along the lane and into the tires of a following pick up.

Life sometimes seems like a collection of utterly meaningless, pointless, forgettable moments punctuated by a few occasionally horrible and some wonderful moments.  I envy the folk who see it as a more uniformly joyous procession.

I'd never seen a turtle so large on the East coast, it was at least 1.5 feet long, surely had lived a long time to get that size, and surely would have lived a longer time still.  I'm not sure what I could have done differently, tried to step into traffic to flag people down, stopped my car in traffic and tried to alert people, I just had no idea there was so little time.  We often imagine there's plenty of time left, to see relatives, to see friends, to be happy, to accomplish great things...  Often there is not.

I cried like a baby on the drive home.  I cried for the turtle.  I cried for the horrendously capricious nature of life and death.  I cried for my impotence; my life these days seems nothing but trying to help others only to witness their fruitless suffering.  And I cried for the fact that I was crying, unable to accept life on its cruelly unacceptable terms.

We humans are sick, sadistic creatures, selectively choosing what and who we care about.  Today I mourned the death of a turtle I didn't know, and cursed the driver of the killing vehicle, but I thought and cared little about the hundreds of mosquitoes, ants, and other bugs I likely killed in the remaining portion of the car ride home; I strongly suspect I killed or wounded two butterflies.  But for some reason that turtle mattered most, that poor, beautiful, stupid, wonderful, turtle.  I am so sorry I failed you.

^ Quinxy

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9May/131

Guide to Living a Highly Ineffective Life, Part I

success_failureAttempting to measure one's own accomplishments is generally a monstrously bad idea.  Even the most successful of men may find themselves coming up short when they compare themselves to a yardstick of their own making.  Those who succeed generally do so by finding themselves perpetually shy of achieving some newly important and consuming goal.  That having been said, taking stock of yourself is a sobering necessity, something which me must do if we are to re-align our compass with an objective, societal true North.  It is in this brutally reflective frame of mind that I make the following observations about myself, most easily expressed as a Guide to Leading a Highly Ineffective Life.  The objective reality is that I have achieved quite a lot, more than many, less than many, and a reasonable amount given my particular make up and life challenges.  Nonetheless, I have observed in myself the  following limiting, (at times) crippling characteristics that have kept me from being far more than I am.

20 Things You Can Do To Be Highly Ineffective

  1. Work on many projects simultaneously.
  2. Associate with no professional colleagues.
  3. Cultivate few friends.
  4. Spend almost all of your time by yourself or with a girlfriend only.
  5. Work in secret.  Share almost none of your ideas or work.
  6. Do everything from scratch.  Build your own rather than modifying existing software/code.
  7. Believe your mind and/or abilities are failing you over time.
  8. Be deathly afraid of judgment.  Ensure you never finish any task properly.
  9. Ignore important details.
  10. Explore periods of intense lassitude.
  11. Be mildly obsessively interested in many, many generally unrelated things.
  12. [Removed by request.]
  13. Secretly believe that those who succeed are magically different from you, possess something you entirely lack (as exemplified by the tone of this list).
  14. Put off until tomorrow that really hard thing that intimidates you, never try to do it today, never right now.
  15. If you find yourself not particularly challenged in a situation (job, life, etc.), then maintain the status quo, choose comfortable over challenge.
  16. Develop as little self-discipline as possible.  Go to bed when you want, eat what you want, exercise as little as you feel like.
  17. Constantly wrestle with existential and philosophical doubts rather than engage in the business of actually living.  Wonder about what the point of living is if you die rather than actually focus on getting the most from every minute of life.
  18. Avoid seeking professional, psychological help for things like depression and anxiety, assume that you alone can surely defeat obstacles which have bedeviled humans for millennia.
  19. Have tremendous difficulty switching tasks/projects, avoid doing so because it's mentally painful.
  20. Watch TV.

^ Q

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5Nov/120

I Remember When…

You know you are getting older when the present differs so greatly from the past...  Here are some things that were once quite familiar to me...

I remember rotary dial phones, the days before VCRs (when classrooms used film projectors), when video games in no way resembled real life, when a soda cost $0.25, when a phone call cost $0.10, and when 5 1/4" floppy disks were the new and exciting thing (replacing audio cassettes for loading programs on a home computer).  I also remember when our TVs were black and white, 8 track tape players were in cars, when the first portable audio cassette players came out, when the CD-ROM was the new hot thing, when answering machines suddenly became available to the masses, when the fax machine came along, and much more stuff that is now irrelevant or nearly so.   Worse yet, this isn't stuff I remember as a 5 year old, this was the way it was when I was 9 ~ 12 years old and older...

And now we've got the Internet, cell phones, GPS, flying cars, hover boards, time travel, and...  well, some of those things anyway.

^ Quinxy

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27Jul/120

The Odd Similitude of Christian & Atheist Grief

Considering that Christians and Atheists have wildly different beliefs about what happens when we die I've always been deeply perplexed that both grieve quantitatively and qualitatively similarly.  The Christian suffering loss believes that he or she will be ultimately re-united with their dear departed in Heaven (barring any grave infractions that might lead to Hell) in a way that will replicate to a significant degree the relationships here on this Earthly plane; your mother in heaven will still be your mother and will recognize you as her son.  The Atheist generally believes that there is no afterlife, that the unique qualities of the dead person are permanently are irrevocably lost.  As such I would have imagined that Christian and Atheist grief would be quite dissimilar.  How could they not be?  To the Christian death is a misty, "Until we meet again."  While for the Atheist death is a bruta and unyielding, "Goodbye forever and ever."  And yet in my own observations of grief (and personal experience of grief) there seems little difference in people's experience of death.  Everyone (barring rare exceptions) finds the loss of a loved one to be miserably and inconsolably intolerable.  And so I can't help but wonder how this is possible?  How can the belief in an afterlife reunion not spare a person a significant portion of their grief?

These are the best possibilities I've been able to come up with to explain the lack of qualitative and quantitative difference...

It's possible that the most significant elements of grief are associated not with what we imagine happens to a person after death but with the impact their removal has from our current and expected life.  A person suddenly being removed from our world will force painful adjustments in our life, in our thinking, in our ability to cope, in our expression of love, in our expectations, etc.  While these elements and experiences do absolutely make up the bulk of our spontaneous experiences of sorrow and misery which last for days, months, and years, I still think it doesn't explain the situation fully because the severity of the experience seems ultimately tied to our perception of the other person's state.  For example, if I knew that my close cousin was forever gone from my life, having set off with others in a one-way light-speed rocket ship ride to the star system Trixolopy, I would feel vastly more comfortable with my loss than if I knew him to be dead.  The mere knowledge that he is alive staves off the bulk of my grief.  I would still wistfully think of him when I passed by his house on my way to work, I'd still instinctively look for him when I headed over to the baseball field, I'd still feel a twinge of emptiness as I put away my cell phone after reaching for it to tell him something, but I wouldn't be devastated in the same way I would if he was known (or expected) to be dead.  Thus the impact of death can't simply be tied to individual alterations made in my life by a person's absence.  And this would seem inadequate then to explain Christian versus Atheist mourning, since I would liken their belief about the present state of the loved one to be so radically and comfortingly different.

Another possibility is that the parity in grief experience is created by variation of two factors: Christian grief being reduced by their belief in Heaven while Atheist grief is reduced by their inability to fully recognize the value and therefore loss of human life.  Christians often use arguments which suggest that Atheists are incapable of are are limited in their ability to appreciate or understand the world because of their refusal to accept its God-given value, without which (from many a Christian's perspective) nothing has value.  I reject this option because it's just silly and simplistic.  It is too convenient to imagine two things are adjusted and both rendered equal by two wholly different mechanisms, and I reject the idea that God solves the value problem (at the very least because of the who created God argument).

It's also possible that the grief of Christians and Atheists exceed what the biology of the human brain can support.  It may be that we cannot see qualitative or quantitative differences in the grief of people with wildly different belief systems because even though they may quite significantly both experiences of grief so far exceed or biology's ability to express grief that they appear similar.  I liken it to the clipping which occurs when you try to record a very loud sound with a microphone and recording equipment that's not up to the task; the sound of an atom bomb and the sound of a conventional bomb would be recorded identically even though the actual events are vastly different.  I like this theory because it is elegantly simple and makes a certain sort of intuitive sense to me, but I'm not sure if it's part of the solution.

And ultimately I come back to my earliest suspicion, the one I first thought over as a teen, that Christians may not believe in Heaven in the same absolute way that they might believe in a place like Bismarck, SD.  Christians might feel okay with a loved one being prolongedly incommunicado in Bismarck, SD because they feel entirely secure in the concept of a geographically placed American city located within our plane of spacial and temporal existence.  Heaven might make them nervous and feel too wishy-washy and abstract, even if they entirely believe (in a theoretical sense) in its existence.  Of course it's also possible they suspect Heaven may not be real, in the same way a child might suspect Santa Claus isn't real years before being willing to call him out; I reject this because I am willing to accept that Christians believe as they say they believe and are not engaged in this piece of self-deception.

Ultimately I'm not sure which of these explanations is sufficient to explain the observation, perhaps other explanations are still required.  I suppose the reason I come back to this question so often is because I wish someone had a meaningful and lasting solution for grief, a means to rid ourselves of what becomes for most a bane of their own existence.  The longer we live the more grief we are made to experience, how nice it would be to recognize loss without being wholly undone by it.

^ Quinxy

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2Dec/110

Another Curious Tale of My Prosopagnosia (Face Blindness)

Until I've spent hours around someone, seeing their face contort into many different expressions, seeing them in different clothes and circumstances, their face remains difficult for me to recall or identify. A few years ago I learned that my experience was the exception, not the rule; I always assumed everyone had a similar struggle. I'm sure the condition has had subtle effects in my life, perhaps encouraging a social reticence, discouraging being overly friendly or engaging with people whose identities I'm unsure about, but it's never been quite so blatant as it was last week.

I just moved into a new place in a new town, and have only met 3 or 4 locals who were introduced by having been acquaintances of my parents. The other day there's a knock on the door and it's a kind looking, slightly nervous, middle-aged woman, with gray-ish hair. She exuded the sort of familiarity in greeting and manner that strongly suggested I knew her, and I felt I knew her, though who exactly she was I could only guesstimate. She had come to ask me to a small wine and cheese gathering "down the hill" a few nights hence. I graciously accepted. With that, she was off. And I was left to try and reason out who exactly had invited me. Of the few people I know here only two are middle-aged women, so it really shouldn't have been much of a challenge to work out which one; but I couldn't. In theory the right approach would have been to immediately acknowledge my problem and ask her to identify herself, but social graces don't really allow that approach. Prosopagnosia (face blindness) sounds like such a curious and made up disorder, and I'd rather not invite a lot of misunderstanding or belabor an explanation so as to avoid any. Thus, I was reduced to post-event logic and sleuthing. My girlfriend had observed the car she was driving, but not the woman. The car was black. I checked Google satellite maps of the two women in question and the one I was most strongly suspecting did have a dark colored car. Bingo! Just to be extra careful I found a picture of her online, covered the brown hair in the photo with my hand, and tried to tell if the face looked recently familiar. It did, somewhat; and perhaps she'd just stopped dying her hair. The only odd thing was that the location of the event was ambiguous. She had said "down the hill" as though I knew exactly what that meant. The woman I imagined her to be had shown me a vacation rental house she owned (which I had been contemplating renting when I first arrived) which was, arguably, closer to sea level. Alternatively, the home in which she lived was in a town that was (I assumed) below the town in which I lived. She had never given me that address, so that discouraged that as a possible location. Comfortable with my conclusions I went about my life until the evening of the gathering. Francine and I set off on time and arrived at the suspected location only to find it entirely dark; only a deer was in evidence, grazing on the lawn. Not to worry, I had plan B ready to go, and we went off to check her primary residence for activity. After a long drive down the big hill I discovered the Googled directions took me worryingly right back up another side of the same hill. As her house came into view it was clear there were no parties going on there tonight. Thus we had to invoke Plan C, the residence of the only other middle-aged woman I knew in these parts. Another little drive ensued with the same result. No activity, no party. And I now had absolutely no idea who might have invited me, leaving me unable to even retroactively proffer an apology.

In the days that followed I still suspected the Plan A/B woman had in fact been my visitor, and that perhaps I had misread the house's activity that night. But a few days later I bumped into her on a walk and offered a tentative apology only for her to announce it had not been she. My best guess at this point is that it was some neighbor I'd never actually met was kindly welcoming me to the neighborhood but that my overly familiar response to her invitation (a response to what I thought was hers) caused her to assume I knew who she was and where she lived. Ah well... Such is the complicated life of a prosopagnosiast; I just can't believe I thought *this* was normal!

^ Quinxy

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27Mar/110

The Joke I Created When I Was 11

I was eleven years old on summer vacation with my mom and another family on Green Turtle Quay island in the Little Abaco chain of islands in the Bahamas when I came up with this joke... the only one I've ever created (or attempted):

Question: What did the one polyp say to the other polyp?
Answer: We haven't had a quarrel in years.

Bah dum bum ching! Now, if you didn't get it don't feel badly, that's either because your sense of humor is far too sophisticated or because you didn't know that coral (that makes up the ocean's reefs) is constructed by and of little creatures called polyps. And in truth, though I remember being proud of the construction of the joke I'm not sure I ever really thought it was that funny.

^ Quinxy

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7Mar/111

Edwardian Ball 2011 – Los Angeles

Francine and I went to the 2nd annual Edwardian Ball here in Los Angeles. The event is supposed to be a celebration of Edward Gorey (most known for his macabre alphabet book), but it's really just an excuse for people to get dressed up in Edwardian, Victorian, and "Steam Punk" clothing and watch musical acts, aerialists, peculiar little plays, and stare at all the other people in the audience. It was good fun, but I must confess I had expected something a little larger and more interactive. The photos I'd seen online were dominated by the events they've been doing for 11 years in San Francisco, and it just looks bigger and better up there. Ah well.

Being that it was my first year attending and I wasn't quite sure what to expect I decided to attempt to make and wear just one costume element, a top hat welded out of metal rods.  I wanted to explore partially wrapping the frame with material as though the frame was much of what remained as the fabric deteriorated from years of neglect, or fire.  Unfortunately I waited until the afternoon before the event to start making the hat and I only had one small scrap of fabric that vaguely fit the bill.  I was pleased with how much I got done in relatively little time, but the vision is still very much incomplete.

Here are some photos from other people's experience of the Edwardian Balls of the past. I didn't feel like fighting the poor lighting all night...

^ Quinxy

3Feb/111

Words Are Typed Flowers

Sometimes a collection of words elevate themselves from the mundane blather of a day, and approach forgotten beauty.  Once in too long a while I find myself in a mental state where my words coalesce in ways I like.  Tonight was such a night.  To a friend I wrote:

sorry i didn't see your text until now.  i was fast asleeping when it came in.  and if i don't see it right away it gets lost in the other bings, whirs, rings, and overlapping prompts of my phone...  at least until i stumble upon it while investigating some other more recent vibration.

i can't do friday, sorry.  I've been meaning to check out that first friday thing, too.  I tried to go a few months ago, walked down there, went about a block into the teeming sea only to lose my will and head back to safe harbor.  it just wasn't a night when i felt like pushing, and instead preferred to pull.  too many people and things trying to be seen, making the ordinarily pleasurable act of observation taxing.  but there are other nights when the challenge is part of the fun.  sadly this friday can't be one.  if you go, hope you have fun, it looks like good sport.

hope you're well, and that you continue to enjoy the love of jesus, buddha, allah, and all the heavenly voyeurs. ;)

Q

They are not the greatest words ever written, but they are enjoyably forgettable, and that is sometimes, monstrously the most we can hope to achieve.

^Quinxy

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