May 6th, 2008

abstract butterfly

numbers

Yesterday I loaded up a number of dress shirts for a trip to the dry cleaners. The dry cleaners we use has a drive-up window. "We know your number", the woman said, as she smiled and took my shirts.

People always seem to know one's number. I remember once in law school, being set up for one of the very few blind dates I ever endured. Blind dates are interesting less for the dates themselves, than for what they say about the person who sets them up. "Is this what you think of me? You think that she's the person with whom I would be compatible?". This type of thing lets one puts on those odd glasses labeled "how others see us". The view is not always intoxicating. Fortunately, like acne, the memory of blind dates tends to fade into oblivion soon, and sometimes immediately if one can avoid chocolate for a day or two. It all becomes ancient history, anyway--part of one's vestigial DNA, something nobody figured out any use for, but didn't bother to evolve out of for want of anything better to do.

I'm fond of the ability to manipulate numbers. I think one can never own enough pocket calculators, even though, thankfully, I never quite joined the pocket protector brigade in life. I love knowing how to amortize the principal and interest on mortgage payments. I was looking at one of those "lectures on tape" series, and they had a series about Calculus. I barely survived three semesters of calculus, and remember none of it. Yet I felt a kind of longing for derivation and integration. That's the story of my life--limited skills at derivation and constant longing for integration.

I used to eat frequently at an Armenian chicken restaurant in the Crescenta foothills in California. Sevan, it was called, after the large lake in Armenia. Although I went there many a day, the staff barely seemed to recognize me from time to time--and were never particularly cordial. There is a kind of solace in anonymity, I suppose--they know your order, but they don't want to know you. What is there to know, after all? Half chicken, pickled vegetables, pita. No danger of blind dates--not even gata is on offer.

Perhaps middle age is the time of "toting up". I lack some of the yardsticks for flawed personal self-assessment. We don't have kids, so I can't measure myself vicariously through their achievements. My publications are particularly mundane, so the posterity angle is out. I've been happy with my career, but there are no "front page of the legal times" kind of cases in my day-to-day life. Present value, future value, powers of ten: I can be solved in four functions or less.

Even the equations are hard to state, sometimes--a name forgotten in mid-sentence, a phrase unspoken, a
memory unearthed, and then buried again. The great google search of the soul--the desktop has thirty three references--do you want to try this "similar search?".

The second movement, d.c. coda al fine, the intercalary passage. Somehow it all adds up. Somehow the math works out.
abstract butterfly

me worry

Today the sky went dark and the rain fell. I felt a weariness descend over me, despite getting a good night's sleep. Tomorrow I am to fly for business, but another storm approaches. I took deliberate steps today to achieve small goals. I am intrigued that this year's likely American Idol reminds me of a cross between Perry Como and Alfred E. Neumann. Perhaps I could take voice lessons, to have a professional confirm that I cannot sing. I am thinking of frames per second, and laboriously drawing images. Put me on the last bus to a verdant botanical garden, or perhaps the national aviary. I listened to "Pictures at an Exhibition" on the radio, and daydreamed about nothing in particular.