February 3rd, 2003

abstract butterfly

old times, new times

Tonight my old friend gregwest98 is in town. My wife had an early club meeting, so Greg and I hit the Red, Hot and Blue barbecue chain. I'm getting into the groove of negotiating the high-fat items off my plate (cole slaw out, turnip greens in, please).

Greg and I have known each other since I moved to Camden in eleventh grade, and we have been good friends since college. He's in town this week on a work-related thing. We've kept in close touch by phone and e mail, but we rarely get to see each other in person. It was a blast spending time with him again. We have so many common reference points in the way we experience life, that it's fun to get together and compare notes. Greg and I were both "physics lite" majors in school, but while I went on to switch fields, Greg actually got his PhD in physics. He doesn't call himself Dr. W., though, which I would certainly do if I had my Ph.D. To me, humility goes out the window when one has poured one's blood into a dissertation.

We discussed a bit the age-old middle-age question--"what if you could do it all again, would you change anything?". My answer tends to the sentimental--that I would make a lot of the same choices. Greg is more pragmatic--he'd change lots of things. We both agreed that we would have studied much harder in college than we did, as we both did not get down to work until graduate school. Of course, Greg studied extremely hard and had an astronomic GPA, while I only had a bare "B" average in undergrad school, so studying hard is relative. I like to think that if I had it to do over again, I would revel in my idiosyncracies even more than I did. I like about myself that I've usually been happy with marching to mildly different drummers. Sometimes I wonder if I've been too happy with it, but that's another topic. My wife came home a bit later, and we all had a nice chat. We hope to see Greg again on Wednesday night.

I got two wonderful things in the mail tonight--an origami bunny from marstokyo and a pet rock with eyes from a woman in Michigan. Having received so many nice things lately, I need to send more things out. Maybe it's time to have my first mail art call--but I must research a good display venue for results first. I think my "theme" would be "Abstraction". I am trying to figure out how to have fun with heymaggie's recent call, which sounds really intriguing.

The weather dipped back down to the high 40s today, but I still saw a tree full of what looked like finches near our office. Our winters are not so bad here, not so bad at all.

I notice that I am much more didactic lately than I like to be. I need to stop and listen to myself, as I'm sure this means I must be missing some lesson I need to teach myself. I spend my day being a giver of advice, having a captive audience who pay for the privilege. I'd much rather opt for a more cryptic, or at least charming, role when folks aren't asking for advice. But though my tongue offends me, I will refrain from plucking it out at present. I'm instead going to re-channel my energies.

I am tired of the debris stream of shuttle crash news coverage.
Tonight when I looked up in the sky, I saw four planets close to one another. I also saw Orion's belt. I'd rather look at the stars, and remember folks who journey in dangerous places, than watch Fox News talking heads.

My friend Greg and his wife M. have two kids, while my wife and I opted not to have any. I never really regret this choice, but lately I do think about one lack. I will never have grandchildren. Raising kids sounds to me like a lot of work--but being a grandparent might well have been a fully workable arrangement :).