Of Motorcycles, Thunderstorms, and Eukaryotes


Well, I’m on one of my weekly conference calls with some of our engineers in India, and don’t need to completely pay attention all the time, so I decided to start writing a little. But, rather than writing something substantial (like the very necessary continuance of my life update since I left off in spring 2007, I think), this entry is going to basically be a hodgepodge of a few things that are, or have recently been, on my mind.


I bought a motorcycle on Tuesday. It’s a blue 2002 Suzuki SV650S with 5,900 miles (looks like this, and frankly, it’s pretty sweet). I took my motorcycle permit test back in mid-June, about three days after the thought popped into my head without any discernible origin, and signed up for the BRC about two days later. Somehow I managed to get into a class about a week later (even though everything after that was full for a month or so), which I easily passed, thus earning my motorcycle license. This was cool, but I didn’t have any specific plans to buy a motorcycle. I occasionally perused craigslist, but knew nothing about motorcycles, so I was basically just looking at pictures and price tags. Again, for no particular reason, one day I decided to actually research the subject, so I read a few guides, reviews, and asked a few people some questions, and then started hunting with a specific target. Not very long later, I spotted this listing, sent some emails, convinced a friend to come look at it with me, and bought it!

I’ve only ridden it about four times so far, and I still stalled it a couple times today, but I think I’m getting better. I do know that it’s brilliant fun, and I’m excited that my jacket and gloves should arrive tomorrow. (Hopefully they fit.)


We’ve had two of them in the past three days, one of which I had the displeasure of needing to go outside during, and didn’t have an umbrella, etc. I was at the Twins game on Friday, and since it was still a beautiful day when I left for the game, I didn’t think at all to check the weather, much less bring an umbrella. (I have a condo a few blocks from the Metrodome, so a couple friends came over before the game, had some beer, and then we just walked over.) I was supposed to be going to the Wolfgang Gartner (sample) show at Envy at 10 PM, so I left the game after the top of the 10th inning, which happened to be right around the worst part of the storm, and if you recall, it was quite the torrential downpour. Although I only had to sprint from the dome to the rail station across the street, I was still pretty well soaked by the time I got there. Clothes and hair dried reasonably quickly, but I think my shoes were still wet by the time I left at 2 AM.

The second thunderstorm just rolled through about an hour ago, and I had the pleasure of watching this one from my window, on the 15th floor. For quite a while, I just got to watch the lightning display a few miles in the distance, which is quite humbling; the scale of these storms is truly awe-inspiring. I occasionally try to imagine what the landscape might have looked like hundreds of years ago, prior to the arrival of Europeans (though, obviously I wouldn’t have the benefit of a 15th-story view at that point), and a huge force of nature like a massive thunderstorm seems appropriately connected to such a landscape. I’m not really trying to say anything particularly profound with this … just one of many disjointed thoughts I have. I guess I’ll just wrap this up by noting that I find some strange pleasure in getting completely soaked by a warm summer downpour … as long as I don’t have anywhere I need to be. I think it’s related to the aspect of surrender and acceptance, and then watching others make futile attempts to stay dry.


This is clearly the nerdiest of the three random topics I decided to address tonight, and perhaps the topic on which I’m least qualified to speak. Luckily for you, that means that I’m not actually going to speak in very much detail about its specifics, but rather the tangent through which I happened to be thinking about this.

I was at a punk concert on Saturday at Triple Rock (punk isn’t really my scene, but a good friend was really looking for someone with whom to go, so I agreed), which led to some prime people-watching. During the course of my observation and reflection (while the show was going on, yes), I started pondering how it was that we’d managed to get from the point of a single prokaryotic cell to multi-gigabase eukaryotic societal creatures capable of joy and depression, love and hate, fascination and boredom, and astounding focus/productivity and crippling listlessness–all in the same person. Complexity of this level amazes me. That’s not to say that I’m going to quit my day job and go get a PhD in genetics, or biology, or psychology, or anything like that, but I like thinking about it. And I hate thinking about it. I end up in loops about thinking about thinking, wondering about wondering, etc. I think my eventual resolution whenever I get into this is that humanity is absurd, and I’m absurd. (Don’t worry; you’re ok, though. :p)

I do sometimes think that we’re just marginally too smart for our own good. We figure out how to burn coal and oil for great momentary benefit, but, on the whole, seem to ignore the possibility that we’re running out of this finite resource, and potentially thrusting our climate into an irreparably altered state or worsening feedback cycle. We develop fantastic advances in technology, and use much of it to oppress, harm, or even kill others in various manners. We’re capable of love, but it can be so elusive, and the path to it so painful.

If we were marginally smarter, would we solve all these problems and avoid all this societal, environmental, and personal pain? If we were marginally less smart, would we have never run into these problems in the first place? I don’t have answers to these questions, nor a solution even if I did have those answers. We are here now, and we have to work with what we’ve got; I just have to do what I can, where I can, to help our big picture. And I have to aspire to improve myself, find happiness, and bring happiness to those around me. Does that seem reasonable?


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