Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A new adventure, in which Dr. Vector fights to free himself from the tyranny of silicon

I know that from the outside I appear to be basically perfect. A fine specimen of a man, bit over six two, dashingly handsome, as smart as one of those evil floating brains from the midnight movies, and astonishingly proficient at not just turning phrases, but twisting them like balloon animals into the shapes of Greek gods. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that as you sit there, prisoner in your own squalid existence, in which you do not write papers about the biggest animals that ever lived, or eat six and a half Big Macs in one sitting, and certainly do not conceive, let alone publish in print or online, sentences as utterly unparseable as this one--all things that I have done--you wonder if there is any point in going on. Such is my awesomeness.

But take heart, dear reader. Stay that suicidal hand. All is not as it appears. I have a weakness.

It's this damn machine. I've been pouring my life into it. If I'm not writing (and I'm usually not) I'm making up figures in Photoshop. If I'm not making figures I'm checking my e-mail. If I'm not checking e-mail I'm catching up on the handful of sites I visit regularly. If I'm not hitting the regulars I'm trolling reddit for interesting bits. If I'm not surfing the web I'm playing video games--not the primo stuff either, but addictive junk like FreeCell or the falling sand game (go on, Google it, I dare ya). And if I'm not playing video games I'm blogging.

I can't remember when the last time was that I drew anything by hand. I mean actual drawing, not doodling in the margins of notebook during staff meetings, and not for research--sketches of specimens don't count. I mean drawing for fun. I used to draw all the time. When I was a kid I filled sketchbook after sketchbook.

I also used to spend a heck of a lot more time outdoors. Usually hunting for turtles, but I used to go stomp around in rivers and creeks and just roam through pastures looking for cool stuff. There's a word for someone who does that: naturalist. I used to be one. What does that make me now?

I can't turn The Damn Machine off. I need it to get my dissertation done, and I need e-mail to keep in touch with the world. (I don't need to keep in touch with the world every half hour.)

I don't even want to turn it off. I love the net. Without it I wouldn't have found Paul Graham and Andrew Rilstone and PostSecret and Darren Naish's blog and a handful of other things that add measureable enjoyment to my life.

But. There is a difference between time spent and time wasted. I could get through all of those truly enjoyable bits in less than one hour per week. It's the web surfing that's killing me an hour or two at a time. That, and stupid FreeCell. I hit game #617 today and probably blew five hours trying to beat it. I finally decided that any FreeCell game that can keep me down for that long must be a legend, so I Googled it. The first hit was a guy who spent a week and a half beating #617, and who is now scouring the net for a solution to #11982, which may actually be unbeatable.

See? See? WTF! I constantly bitch to myself about not having enough time, and then I pour it away like wine down a rat hole.

Anyway, I decided that an alpha FreeCell dork like my Google find might be able to spend a week and a half beating one game, but I can't. I ain't even going to try. FreeCell game #617 is the end of the road for me.

Tomorrow I am going to buy a sketchbook, and I'm going to draw in it every day. And I'm going to learn how to juggle. And I'm finally going to learn the constellations.

Just don't expect any progress reports here.


Blogger Mike Taylor said...

(For anyone who's not met Matt, the part of his self-description where he says "a bit over six-two" refers not to his height, but to what he calls his waist. Just thought you ought to know.)

9:01 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

Yes, that's a good point. And when I say "a fine specimen", I mean except for the harpoon scars. Damn those wily Norwegians!

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Damn those wily Norwegians!"

Ha! I'll get you some day Wedel, you'll see!


3:32 PM  
Blogger Mike Taylor said...

(Oh -- and, again for who have not had the pleasure of meeting Matt in person -- when I say that "a bit over six-two" is his waist measurement, I mean diameter. Not circumference.)

12:06 AM  
Blogger Mike Taylor said...

(or do I mean radius?)

12:09 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

Yeah, we get it, I'm fat and you're old. New topic.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

You forgot to say that Mike's hair is entirely grey, and he's not even that old. And he never shaves.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

I also forgot to correct Mike on a couple of points. "A bit over six two" is neither a circumference nor a diameter. It is a radius.

And it's from a bit below the belt.

Classy, eh?

4:27 PM  
Blogger Darren Naish said...

Matt - your last comment brought the following to mind. It's the very first sentence in Jim Farlow's review of The Dinosauria from Historical Biology vol. 17...

'It weighs 2.6 kg, it is 286 mm long by 222 mm wide and it is 55 mm thick'.

Hey, Jim, don't be shy will ya.

1:24 PM  

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