The Loneliness of Understanding

What do you see when you look at a wall?

A regular wall, in your house.

I see paint, and texture. And sheen. Typically paint stores sell you on four different gradations of sheen, but really you could probably mix up an infinitely variable continuum of sheen if you had the correct proportions of paint. The more the paint produces a specular reflection, the higher the sheen. It has to do with how the surface of the material reflects or scatters the photons of light striking it. Or something like that.

The texture is typically a knockdown texture, caused by spraying on drywall mud-like substance at a particular volume, pressure, and distance likely by using a gravity-fed hopper-style device that contains the material, connected to a tube of some kind coming from what is essentially a reverse vacuum fed by an AC motor used to push the air/mud mixture through the appropriate size and shape nozzle. Then the texture is flattened somewhat using a big flat wiping device to give it an even height. However, walls lately are going with the flat, or untextured, look, a look I particularly like. It also means less surface area so you can cover more wall square footage with less paint. It is more difficult, though. So you’d probably want to use a duller paint on flatter walls to hide the imperfections, though this compromises your ability to keep it clean long-term, which could result in higher maintenance costs over the long run as you may have to repaint it more frequently, but I digress….

Beneath the texture is drywall, probably composed of gypsum sandwiched between two layers of what is essentially thick paper to hold it together and give it some stiffness. There aren’t that many variations of drywall thickness available, so yours is probably some standard depth. Also, they come in standard sheet sizes (4′ x 8′). Then the nails or screws hold the drywall onto the wall studs, which are vertical 2x4s spaced 16 inches apart.

But what are the studs made of? Frequently wood but occasionally metal (although more likely metal in commercial buildings). And where do these materials come from? What was the carbon cost of their manufacture, transport and assembly? What would be the carbon cost of their destruction or demolition or burning down in a fire?

Anyway, the spaces between the studs on an inside wall will hide plumbing, electrical power wire, telephone wire, television/data cable, Ethernet cable, etc. It would be nice if they held conduit in residential settings but I digress. Typically no insulation on inside walls. The twists and gauge of the wire can determine its susceptibility to noise, but it’s still important to keep data wire away from power wire, especially for parallel runs. Better to cross them at 90°, if you have to.

Anyway, that’s what I see when I look at a wall.


What do you see?

What do you see when you look at a light bulb? Or a washing machine? Or a web page? Do you know how the Internet gets to your computer?

What do you think about when you turn on a faucet to get hot water? Cold water? What’s the difference?

Do you consider how your actions affect the world around you? Other people? The future of humanity? What if everyone did things the way you do?

What does it mean to you to eat a hamburger? Drive a car? What do you know about how they got to you?


Do other people see the same things you see when they look at the same things you do or think about the same things you think about?






It must be nice if they do.

How would it affect your behavior if you played chess with spacetime every time you made a choice?

How would it affect your demeanor?

Your happiness?

Now, what if you had little-to-no control over that?



In all ways that matter, we are alone.

We may walk with others

We may laugh with others

We may talk with others

We may cry with others

These externalities do not define us

They reflect us.

Who cares to know another soul

To express earnest interest in the inner workings of an( )other?

For some this is not reality

But it is mine

And for that it is all of yours.

Reasons Not To Be Me This Week

I am miserable. Here’s why:

  1. This Sunday I got sick. Not cold sick but fever, chills, mucus, coughing, bedridden sick. I took Monday off. I took Tuesday off. I took Wednesday off. I went back to work yesterday. I’m still coughing. It won’t go away. I have no energy. I can’t even get a hug without coughing.
  2. My mom is out of town so she left her dogs with me. Maya is level 10 A++ neurotic and Dulci has agression problems and EPI that has not yet stabilized.
  3. Surprise! $300 for cTLI/cobalamin/folate blood test and enzymes for Dulci that I wasn’t expecting.
  4. I have to figure out how much of what food to give Dulci and with how many enzymes of what type to mix in and how long to incubate them so she gets better.
  5. Did I mention that Dulci doesn’t get along with other dogs? That leads me to:
  6. I can’t see my girlfriend because she has a dog and Dulci does not get along with her dog. I have spent exactly 1.5 hours with my girlfriend since Monday morning. She graciously agreed to come over for a few minutes a couple nights this week.
  7. We have a rehearsal for Camelot on Sunday night (7-10pm nonetheless!!) and I have barely even looked at my music.

Had I not taken Dulci she would have been put down because of her health and behavioral issues. I had no choice but to take her, but in doing so I isolated myself from the woman I love.

So to sum up, I’m sick and still coughing and don’t have the energy to take care of a neurotic whiny dog and a sick angry dog that keeps my girlfriend away from me, and I have no support because my mom is out of town.

Plus my house lacks things like a TV and a bed.


Holiday Start 2010

I’m thankful, too.

Some things I was thankful for 365 days ago I no longer have. Some things I wanted 365 days ago I now have.

Traditionally we go around and list those items for which we’re thankful, but skipping one that is not on the list this time around only draws attention to it, at least in my mind. It’ll be that way this whole season, unfortunately.

So thanks for those things I still have. And thanks for those things that I once had that are now elsewhere. At least I got to experience them for a brief time.

Eating Lunch Alone

Someone I once knew openly pondered about folks who eat alone in restaurants.

Today I was the guy eating alone. Like most days. Only today it was in public.

The short answer is: they eat because they’re hungry. They eat alone because they want to. Or they don’t have anyone to eat lunch with. There were other people at tables for one. They didn’t look particularly lonely or sad.

Truth be told, they forgot to ask me if I wanted my order to go and I figured eh, what the heck, I’d get out of the office for 15 minutes longer anyway.