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California dreaming

I come back from California sporting a tie-dyed t-shirt with a peace sign, good Chinese food, bubble tea and Yogurtland soft-serve still having the last of their nutrients being extracted by my system, and many conversations lingering in my mind.

I can still see the faces of my interlocutors and hear fragments of their remarks.  Yet when I think harder and try to place those fragments within some sort of a larger context -- one that would paint a more complete picture of the person or convey a self-contained idea -- I get lost.  I suppose it's hard to get into people's heads, figure out their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, and then paint a verbal snapshot.  It's doubly hard if you are an 83% I on Meyers-Briggs.  Perhaps next time I will try to listen as if I were a journalist seeking a coherent sound bite, or an author trying to develop a character.  Then again: the human psyche is an incredibly complex function, full of hidden variables, feedback loops, and nonlinear responses.  It takes great talent to accurately sample it and then translate it into words.  (Admittedly, if you are a TV journalist, you can always grab a couple of random points and draw a straight line.  If you are a Fox journalist, one point is sufficient.)  But that all is for next time.  Right now I'll be content with whatever verbal and visual snapshots that are still imprinted in my mind.

"...The Western society has completely degraded.  Take a look at France -- they are nothing but a banda pidorov.  I can't wait to get out of this country."  E. proceeded to light a cigarette and talk about the awesome slavic music + electronica parties he throws back in upstate NY.  Hanging out with him led to a sharp increase in beer consumption, appreciation for the wealth of practical scientific knowledge chemists seem to harbor, and a touch of jealosy for how easily he picks up girls.

"...Look at those two -- they are like a pilot and the co-pilot."  J. pointed at the young Russian prof and the old Russian prof sitting together at a desk in the front of the room.  The young one chaired the session.  The old one was there largely due to an overbearing feeling of self-importance.  "These guys are the assholes in the business class," J. continued, looking at the front few rows.  "The rest are sleeping in coach.  If it were a real airplane someone would be groping a flight attendant in the back row."  He looked at his watch and proceeded to another room, delivering  one of his trademark cynical oral presentations to an audience of 15 people, of which five were asleep and five were staring at their laptops.  The most impressive thing about J. is that he is a damn good scientist and is quite productive, all the while giving the impression that he doesn't give a shit.

...this post will have to be abbreviated due to our impending arrival into St. Louis.  Who knows whether I'll find time to paint any more snapshots -- but I figure I'm doing quite well so far in terms of blog updates anyhow.

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