Still Alive


Just been so busy. (Doing science, of course.)

We spent the weekend in New Jersey. For the first time, I arrived at Newark Airport for the sole purpose of visiting the state that hosts it, rather than just using it as an often cheaper access point for New York City or even Philadelphia.

(And trust me … if you’ve not figured this out yet for yourself, do your life a favor and just pretend that LaGuardia and J.F.K. don’t even exist. With the ready availability of New Jersey Transit from EWR right into the heart of Manhattan, why bother?)

We were in Edison, NJ, to bear witness to a wedding. Two of the nicest, smartest people we know, in fact. Their wedding was one of those things that was a perfect and pleasant inevitability from the moment we met them both. Sooner or later, they’d confirm publicly what they’d known privately from day one. Congratulations, Kevin and Jen.

(I took pictures.)

The return flight was harrowing, I must admit. While the flight up was aboard a rather comfortable MD88, the flight back was via a much smaller CRJ700. And if that wasn’t enough, right when we were boarding, it started to snow. Flurries at first, but these little flakes were soon joined by many, many others. So by the time we’d pulled away from the gate, it was an actual snow shower. This was made all the better by the swirling gusts of wind that sent the snow flying up from the tarmac and into the side of the plane, filling the window frames with clots of ice. The pilot came over the intercom and told us that we’d get some turbulence during the climb to 30K feet. He was not lying. Honestly, it felt like New Jersey had decided that Nikki and I were not to leave the Garden State. But after the roughest take-off I’ve ever known, we plained off and were relatively steady until we got back to Atlanta.

In other news …

My PC is down for the count. What seemed initially to be a power supply issue has manifested into an all-out motherboard failure. Won’t even turn on or post or anything. And so, I’ve gone ahead and ordered the upgrades I’ve kept in a wishlist at NewEgg. New motherboard, of course. A new CPU to go with the motherboard. New memory for the motherboard. And a new video card as well, since the interface for my most recent video card doesn’t even exist on the new motherboard. See how this all works? If the motherboard isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Once all of the goods arrive, I’ll document the re-build and post the photos. DIY PCs are the modern day equivalent of garage-built hot rods, after all.

Finished Michael Pollan‘s The Omnivore’s Dilemma over the weekend’s journey. Actually, I reached the last page before we touched down in Newark. It’s a powerful book, more affecting in comparison than In Defense Of Food. Where In Defense serves to advise us on just what and how to eat, Dilemma focuses almost squarely on the why. And while I didn’t come out of Dilemma with a new resolve to go vegetarian — and actually, Pollan makes a strong case for not doing just that, at least not for moral reasons alone — I do find that I’m paying much closer attention to my food. While this can lead to hilarious presumptions, the end result is easier to maintain than just about any other diet plan I’ve known. It’s so simple that I can sum it up like this: It doesn’t matter so much what you’re eating, but rather how it became the food it is.

This takes some doing, of course. And it is not enough to simply assume that just because a food uses “organic” as an adjective, it is actually organic. I mean … it is organic, but organic according to the USDA’s rather questionable definitions.

And then there’s the matter of beef and poultry. While we humans are carnivores by design, it wouldn’t hurt for us to consider the way the animals that feed us are raised and maintained. Did the chicken you’re about to eat spend its little chicken life in a grassy pasture with plenty of room to peck and move about? Or was it fed nothing but corn for 18 weeks straight in a battery pen scarcely larger than an Igloo cooler? Is Pollan implying that happier animals make for better, healthier food? Yes. And he has examples to prove it.

And finally … with my PC out of commission, I don’t think I’ll be posting an Obscuriosity this week. I mean … maybe I will. We’ll see.

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