Superpowers

Several years ago I was on a job interview and it was going really great. Then, somebody asked me a question and my answer was something like, no, that’s not one of my superpowers.

Imagine train brakes squealing in the background as the accountant opposite me asks in a placating voice normally reserved for toddlers mid-meltdown who have managed to grab a chef’s knife out of the kitchen block: “You have superpowers?”

Oh, absolutely! You don’t? I’m smiling on the inside while keeping a straight face on the outside.

“No,” brief pause, “what are they?”

Well, so far, I’ve discovered only 3:

  1. I can make it rain. Every time I wash my car, it rains. (Deep sigh of relief from across the table).
  2. I can find the most expensive pair of shoes in any department store in the world–I am drawn straight to them like some kind of homing pigeon. And,
  3. Without fail, I pick the longest line in the grocery store. Every. Single. Time.

We all had a good laugh and everyone lived happily ever after.

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The InterNOT

Internet connectivity is essential for working at home. Where are my files? Dropbox (hint: it’s online, and I need the internet). What about co-author meetings? Zoom (hint: it’s online, and I need the internet). How about the latest version of a paper sent via email? Outlook and new and old jobs (hint: it’s online, and I need the internet). I can wireless print from my phone (using data), but guess what I need?

. . . the internet!

Actually, I need electricity, a strong wireless signal, AND a working internet connection. I don’t care what Meatloaf says, I need all 3.

We’ll see if the internet lasts long enough for me to post this blog.

In grad school, we learned about preferences and the economic utility function (example below).

Source: Wikipedia

We can label Commodity Y: no neighbors, and Commodity X: working internet, and we assume that the main disadvantage to no neighbors is no internet. The graph above suggests that I would be willing to incur more neighbors if I were to gain more working internet (point B), and vice versa (point A).

If I am in a hermit cave atop a mountain with only the stars for company, I don’t expect to have the internet. If I can see my neighbors, smell their burning trash, and pay the city for water, I expect a working internet connection. However, this week:

Who has a Jubilee when the guest of honor can’t attend?

While this week was a technological challenge, I do have hope. Our free-speech savior, Elon, is deploying StarLink to Natchitoches, LA in 2023, but it is already available in certain parts of Texarkana, TX.

YeeHaw! Then I’ll be able to stream videos from one of my favorite California bands, The Carolyn Sills Combo:

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Tell Me Somethin’ Good

Welp, it’s not this collagen-protein smoothie I’m drinking to stave off loss of muscle mass due to aging. I have a great blender, but apparently GIGO (garbage in-garbage out) isn’t limited to the world of programming and data analysis.

Dilbert FTW. (Source: Scott Adams)

It’s also not the fact that yesterday we sent our 14-year old Great Pyrenees on a trip across the rainbow bridge. Now, Blizzard and I never discussed theology or his personal relationship with Jesus, but I do know that Blizzard was not Catholic, which means he is in heaven. Or wherever beings of pure love and devotion go when they die.

Neither is it the fact that due to inflation I’ve taken an 8.5% pay cut before even starting my new job.

But, I do have a new job and a new house to look forward to. All my bills are paid and my family is healthy. Ray Wylie says it best:

Here’s to really good days.
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Oh, Holey Nightgown

My favorite pajamas are thinning at the seams. I’m not complaining about quality, because I’ve worn them almost every night for the past 8 years (that’s almost 3,000 days) and I’m hoping that I can get another couple of years out of them.

I got the shorts in the bath section of World Market. They’re soft and stretchy and loose–they have about a 25 lb range where they always fit comfortably. (I wish I didn’t know that, but the pandemic coincided with some back and knee issues, and my self-care solution of wine every night coupled with no exercise wasn’t the cure-all I expected.)

What’s the point of quarantining in California if you can’t try all the wine?

The matching v-necked, short-sleeved t-shirt came from Target. Since growing my hair out, I’ve discovered I don’t like sleeveless tops. There’s always one hair that is tickling my shoulders and I’m never sure if it’s a spider, my hair, or some kind of new nerve problem.

In Monterey, where I spent many nights freezing to death in my 68 degree house, I’d lounge in some winter pajamas with long sleeves, long pants, and fuzzy slippers. But, I can’t sleep with those on. They stick to the sheets and I look like a fly trapped in glue when I try to roll over.

What I’m wondering as I fold my laundry is when is it okay to let go of things, of places, of habits that no longer serve us, even if they still spark joy?

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Neon Noon

Spring is here! This past weekend was probably the most beautiful weekend we’ll have in South LA for a while (maybe mid-October). Highs in the 70s, low humidity. Perfection…if you’re not allergic to pollen.

A visual representation of what my car looked like this morning after parking under a tree on campus.

I followed the allergist’s recommendation to stay inside because I like breathing. And also Bridgerton.

It was a big weekend for the romance genre. The Lost City with Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and Brad Pitt also hit the silver screen. There’s a great quote by Tatum’s character Dash, and I can’t remember it exactly, but…. SB’s character basically said she wrote “schlock,” whereupon he told her a story about how happy her books made fans and to never say that about her work EVER.

I’m no Bob Hope on a USO tour, cheering up soldiers in war zones, but I’d like to think that occasionally I make someone’s load a little lighter– their day a bit brighter.

With my apologies to Brooks & Dunn:

Oh, we’ll be alright

As long as there’s light

In the NEON NOON

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Plank #2

I’ve thought of a brilliant 2nd plank for the Lauratarian Party’s Presidential Platform, but first, a reminder of plank #1.

My first objective as Leader of the increasingly less-Free World is to stop switching between Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time. We’ll split it down the middle and call it even.

Now that we have electricity and LED lighting, I want to stop the madness!

My 2nd plank is such an obvious winner that I can’t believe nobody’s run on this before.

Since football, American football, is particular to the United States of America, the Monday after the Superbowl should be a holiday. This is plank #2.

I’m saving plank #3, the 4/20 holiday, for my re-election campaign.

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Antidisestablishmentarianism

One of the longest “words” in the English language, antidisestablishmentarianism means, more or less, that back in the day some of the British political factions didn’t want to break up with the Establishment, aka the Church of England.

When is the next season of The Crown going to be released? Bridgerton? Derry Girls?

Oddly enough, the longest word in the dictionary is acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene. I say oddly because I’ve been working on a paper about Phase Change Materials (PCM) in textiles, and chemistry is an odd place for an accounting researcher.

Recently, I’ve investigated the cost, environmental friendliness, and flame retardance of materials such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate), PAN (polyacrylonitrile), and BS (butyl stearate). I’ve delved into the origins of the MIT Heat Transfer Lab and researched ways that these materials might be incorporated into buildings to reduce energy usage. Is it any wonder that after teaching classes of nearly 500 students and this sort of taxing allocation of my brain’s energy that I don’t want to write a novel when I come home?

Am I working on this chemistry paper because I’m thinking about more school, another degree, a 4th career? No. I did it because I’m vain. I want shoes that are comfortable and NOT UGLY; pants with pockets; and passionate kisses. Is this too much to ask?

Not to mention POCKETS! Women want pants, skirts, and dresses with pockets!

Right after graduation (December, 2018), I crashed a Christmas party for medical professionals. I met a podiatrist and speculated that perhaps we could 3-D print some insoles based on a scan/imprint of an individual’s foot, and make pretty shoes comfortable again. Six months and no shoes later, I skipped an NPS business faculty meeting to attend a meeting for the Center for Additive Manufacturing (3-D printing) looking for some co-conspirators in the shoe-making game.

As it turns out that there are federal rules against damn near everything, especially if it’s logical or useful scanning one’s feet and 3D printing anything (the adversary is desperate to know about my size 10 flat feet).

The good news is that on Fridays, The Shack at NPS serves fish tacos. If you’re willing to subject yourself to delicious food and delightful temperatures, for $8.00 you can dine al fresco with world-renown physicists, materials scientists, astronauts, Green Berets, and . . . accountants.

The courtyard next to the library is where this exciting project emerged. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’d like to advance the science of PCM in textiles: sheets that cool you down, socks and shoes that keep your feet warm.

I’d also like office chairs with heated lumbar support, but that may be too much to ask.

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Older Than Bones

I ran across a FB post about how the Rocky Mountains are taller than the Appalachians. The poster insinuates that taller is better.

Source: Facebook post.

Someone responds to this post by telling the wannabe Texan that bigger ain’t always better saying that the Appalachian mountains are 100s of millions of years old– they pre-date the dinosaurs.

I may be a smart-alek (p >0.0001).

The next poster TOPS1 the dinosaur analogy, i.e. 1st man ain’t got a chance, (Anthony, 1976)2, and responds that there is a cave in the Appalachians about half a billion years old with no fossils, no bones, no nothing. Because the Appalachians existed BEFORE BONES.

Let me repeat. The Appalachians existed BEFORE BONES. There were no bones on land. Bones, if they existed, were contained by the ocean.

NO. BONES. ON. LAND.

Let that sink in. Did flora exist? Were there trees? We used to find petrified palm wood all the time in Sabine Parish. Isn’t that a fossil? If there were no fossils, does that mean there were no trees or plants? Enquiring minds want to know.

Gah! I don’t have time to go down that rabbit hole. I already have 6 books, 3 short stories, and 1 mini-series in my head. And while I finish writing all that, I also need to figure out how to regenerate my knee cartilage so I can maintain my physical health, which means I need advanced degrees in biology.

But, before any of that, I need to figure out how to repair my telomeres stop the degenerative aging process, since Leah Swanstrom won’t do it, and that probably takes an advanced degree in bio-medical engineering or something equally easy, e.g., inventing Hermione’s time-turner.

Time Turner GIFs | Tenor
Hermione’s time turner allowed her to attend multiple classes held at the same time by re-winding time.

1TOPS. Definition: To always have a better story or more elaborate encounter than the 1st person to tell a story. For example, if person #1 caught a 12 lb. bass on their fishing trip, the TOPPER will have landed the Kraken (no pics) in a one-armed spear-fishing contest while blindfolded.

2 Reference: Clyde E. Anthony, circa 1976 in reference to storytellers. The first person to tell a story merely sets the bar for the next person, aka the Topper, who will usurp the first person by telling a story of greater importance, ignoring facts and/or the truth in their endeavors.

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Quantum Leap

Last week I posted that to increase my productivity and happiness levels, I was trying some new techniques: (1) a cold shower a day keeps the doldrums away and (2) writing one sentence per day.

It’s indicative of my commitment to SCIENCE that I didn’t confound the experiment by quantum jumping into my best reality at the same time concurrently with these other lifestyle changes.

It’s science; you should trust me.

For those unfamiliar with quantum jumping, might I suggest those of you with physics degrees check your skepticism at the door and take the CIA approved psychedelics in order to see for yourself. The rest of us can just wing it. . . or join a monastery.

According to TikTok quantum jumping “specialists” who definitely don’t want your money, all you have to do is watch more videos many unverified sources, such as the CIA, Gaia Magazine Staff, or random YouTuber, visualizing your best reality is a REAL THING.

Me! It’s Me!

I’m going to try it, because, once again, it’s free. The interventions from week 1 will continue and likely confound any results I get with the addition of quantum jumping to my daily self-improvement regimen. However, should I win the Mega-Power-Ball* in the next couple of weeks and you never hear from me again, then you can assume it works.

*I also heard that the Law of Attraction doesn’t work like that, so I’m not sure how to verify the quantum leaping. My life’s pretty good already.

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Jump Start Your Day

I didn’t really have any new resolutions or goals this year. Mostly I’d just like to get back to being who I was before the pandemic hit–that girl that got up at 5:30 every morning to exercise, worked all day, wrote songs and blogs and dissertations, and wasn’t too exhausted by 3:30 everyday to take the trash out when it got full.

Lucky for me, my internet searches on Am I Dying or is it a just Hangover? provide me with links to medical-ish articles like this:

https://lifestylehealth.co.za/dopamine-can-you-boost-your-mood/

This article says you can boost your dopamine by 250% by taking a cold shower. I may have stumbled into the perfect solution: it’s basically free to try it and I live in Louisiana where our cold water isn’t very cold, so, why not?

Cold showers in the morning and a hot bath at night?

Now, I’m not sure how the math of that 250% works; whether it’s an exponential effect like compound interest and in 3 short weeks I’ll be the happiest happy I’ve ever happied, a step-wise linear function where I get my mood boosted in increments, or if I revert back to the beginning baseline, it doesn’t matter. I’m committing to this easy variation on a daily activity and will see how it goes.

The 2nd thing I’m addressing this week is my creative writing, or lack thereof. I’m publicly committing to writing ONE SENTENCE A DAY.

One sentence a day sounds absurd, but let me explain. When I sit down to finish book 2 so I can finish that series, so I can write those other books that are in my head, I get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of projects and my whole body goes into vaporlock, and I do nothing.

I know me, and if I sit down to write a sentence, I’ll probably do a couple of paragraphs most days, which means I might one day finish. However, the pressure to finish all of it right now is gone because I’ve only committed to a single line. Baby steps, baby.

The 3rd thing I’m doing is publicizing my goals because that is supposed to help you maintain your actions. I’m supposed keep track of the daily activity, because recording the data/trends (close your rings! get your steps in! standing goal achieved!) also provides some kind of psychological reward that keeps you engaged in daily completion of the activity.

Ground zero. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Next week I’m gonna start quantum jumping into my best reality. Stay tuned!!!

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