Anticipation

This should provide a nice counterpoint to the Patience post, here.

Anticipation can seriously enhance or seriously detract from an experience. Ahead of birthdays (depending on your age, of course), special holidays (Christmas, for me), and vacations/visiting friends, anticipation is a bit thrilling. It hypes the upcoming event like the best PR person in the whole wide world. It makes time slow. It does to time what cornstarch does to water. Anticipation infiltrates time and reaches the perfect suspension (no pun intended…no, ok, I intended), making the more fiercely you want the event to come nearer, the slower time moves for you.

A dreaded event always seems upon you before you can adequately prepare. Two weeks ago I developed an abscess in one of my teeth. If you’ve ever had an abscess, you know what it’s like. It is mouth torture. I characterized it as worse than labor and childbirth (partly predicated by when you’re in labor, you know you’re getting an awesome prize at the end – or two awesome prizes – but with a tooth ache, you’re probably headed for pain and pain followed by a painful dental procedure and then just back to your baseline. Seems pointless.). I’m fine now. After 4 days of pain (and four days of prescribed antibiotics that didn’t seem to help), I had an emergency appointment with the dentist to drain the tooth. I don’t know exactly what he did, but I ended up with a hole in the back of my tooth so it could drain. Side note: most of the pain of an abscess is not caused by pus (oh god, awful to even contemplate pus in your tooth and gums), it’s actually caused by the gas produced by the bacteria in the pus. The four or five hours after that procedure were probably the worst of the pain. The novocain wore off very quickly (apparently, a result of the bacteria again, somehow).

My follow-up was yesterday to scrub the root, fill it, and seal it. I knew that if the tooth had seriously weakened in the week elapse and cracks had formed, it would be an extraction instead. Remembering how the hours following the procedure the week before had felt, and knowing what it felt like to get two shots of novocain in the front of my gum (not for the first time, either, since the tooth in question actually has a crown – an exciting dental story for another time), I was very nervous leading up to the appointment. Conflicting that was the sense of relief that everything would actually be over then, and my eagerness to just be done.

It went fine. I had maybe the biggest shot of novocain (just one!) I have ever had, ever, and that was the most painful part. I was facenumb for the next 8 or so hours. Generally, root canals are considered very scary and painful. I attest that a root canal is nothing to worry about.

Back to anticipation… Also last week was the twinsies’ first birthday and their first birthday party. It, of course, made me nostalgic for their birth, and the days and months leading up to that. The day you find out you’re pregnant, the birth seems a very long time away (well, depending on when you find out – I guess those gals who give birth at the prom and “didn’t know they were pregnant” don’t have as much anticipatory time). At the same time, you realize you have 38-42 weeks to prepare to be a parent. It’s not enough time. No amount is. So panic sets in. And a strange kind of acceptance. And each week rolls by, sometimes sluggishly, sometimes too quick to be a full seven days.

Everyone says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” The days are short, too. The year to their first birthday felt much shorter than the 9 months to their birth.

Anticipation is the master of time.

Patience as instruction

Patience is one of those funny things that is always inversely affected by your own sense of urgency. The more urgent your task, the less patience you can generally muster.

But it’s also one of those things that can be cultivated. It’s hard, which is why people say that patience is a virtue. If it’s otherworldly, then there is less obligation to attempt to achieve it.

When I was in seventh grade, one of our teachers told us “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” I can’t remember why now, and it doesn’t matter. I do remember that it made me feel badly about myself, and a good, I suppose, outcome was that I took care to examine my participation in solution-making.

But looking back now, all I see is bullying. To essentially tell someone (or a class of students) that if they are not contributing in a manner of your choosing that they are a nuisance or a hazard is irresponsible and lazy. When I hear someone say that now, all I can really think is, “well, eff you too.” It’s the worst kind of bullying; it masquerades as an insight, as if it is helpful or instructive. It’s none of those things. It’s not even true.

Sometimes drawing out the best in someone, helping them become independent and actively willing to contribute to a particular goal or aspiration, is hard. It takes patience. And, taking the time to get to know someone’s strengths and weaknesses, so as to better understand if this goal or aspiration is best aligned with who they really are, is a long process. It’s an exercise in patience. The more help you need, the more care you must exercise in finding your contributors.

Patience, as a practice, can seem to be caught in a closed, frustrating loop. To practice patience you need patience. But practice you must.

Like creativity, practice is one of those things you have to develop. You may have an inborn ability to just be chill about stuff, but even so, genuine patience is not an exercise in not caring about things. It means caring about a situation and the outcome enough to control your actions – even when it feels like non-action.

In grad school, a professor was preparing us to teach our classes solo. He told us, “After you ask a question, wait at least 10 seconds in silence. It feels like a long time, but it take them at least that long to get the courage to start speaking up.” The first time, those ten seconds felt awkwardly long. I stood there staring at the students, and they avoided staring back. Then someone tendered an answer, phrased as a question (as freshmen so often do, so as to not be caught in the wrong too badly). And we were rolling. The next time, the students knew it was ok to answer, and I knew the ten seconds would pass. Now, I see a lot of value in just waiting other people out. There are times it can be very instructive to patiently wait. Silence can make people nervous, and they would rather fill the void. I have found that I can find out more about what someone is asking of me (particularly at work) if I just wait it out. They may use terminology that isn’t quite right, and seem to be asking one thing, but after a little bit of waiting, they say something that clarifies better than if I had asked questions myself – because I wouldn’t have known what their true intent was. It sounds vaguely nefarious, but it’s usually just a method of saving a few minutes or a few emails of talking in circles until someone manages to break through the clutter and get the heart of the matter. But that time adds up.

The twins benefit from my patience, too. Or, I benefit, which means they benefit. They are learning the world new. They don’t know the words for things yet. They point and they learn. They will be a year old next week, and they are signing pretty consistently, devouring new concepts and teaching us how they see the world by applying signs or trying a toy in a new way. When we are patient with them, letting them use a toy “wrong,” we see more about how else a toy can be played with and what other creative things can be done with it. Patience, in this case, fosters creativity. As I have noted elsewhere, Eleanor is not as patient as Henry, but she is just as creative, so I can see her working on being patient. She wants to play with a toy in a certain way, but she can’t figure it out. Sometimes she quits for a while and comes back, other times she tries harder for a few minutes. She sees patience modeled, and she practices it. She is also determined – when she has an idea she sees it through.

So.

 “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

This is aggressive and accusatory. I’m not sure I want to browbeat and shame people into doing what I think (ahem, POLITICS). In fact, I know I don’t. My dad has always sort of lived the idea that if you want to complain, you should have an idea for a solution to proffer in exchange. Complaining just for the sake of complaining generally isn’t helpful. Complaint as instruction is better; using dissatisfaction to find new solutions is better yet. Again, patience is paramount. It’s hard to hear complaints. It’s easier when you have your mind set to receive criticism as areas for improvement – concrete areas you can work on. Modeling your own complaints within that frame makes giving criticism easier and makes your criticism more valuable. Now, you may not know enough about the problem to offer a solution – and in fact that may often be the case – and that’s ok. Offering candid, reasoned feedback – even if it’s not complimentary – is actually very helpful. Sure, you’re not offering up a solution, but you’re still helping to shape the eventual solution. It takes patience to go from “I hate it! You suck!” to “This doesn’t work for me because I’m allergic to walnuts, so this is actually death pie, to me.” In fact, including a “because” in any complaint is probably a pretty good idea (if I do say so myself).

“If you’re not part of the solution, it’s because I’m not trying hard enough to understand you.”

Time and society

Last night at nearly the same time, my wonderful husband who is wonderful and I expressed opposite opinions.

Him: This week is flying by!

Me: This week is going so slowly!

Then we stood there for a second staring at the other one, probably both of us (at least one of us) wondering how the other one could have it so wrong.

Einstein, that lovable son of a gun, used an analogy to help explain the relativity of time. He said, an hour feels a second if a pretty girl sits in your lap, but a second feels an hour if you sit on a hot cinder.*

The point is, what you bring to Time is what you get back out of it. Time goes slowly for us if we are anticipating something or are bored (or both), and it passes quickly if we’re content, or busy (or both).

Aristotle said that humans are, by their very nature, political animals. As I understand it, at it’s most basic, that means that we tend to form societies. We’re like dogs and horses. Sometimes there’s a loner out there who prefers solitude, but as a group, we like to clump together and be sociable. I think it’s this natural tendency that makes us prefer to see things the same way as our friends and family – and have them see the same things as we do. Many of us seek out diversity of opinion and thought, because we like the broadened horizons we get, but others find a real sense of security in liking literally the same things as others – partly why marketing is so successful. Anyway, I think this underlying tendency to align views is why the conversation above gave both of us pause; “But we’re in love! How can your week be passing differently than mine!” I didn’t say it was logical.

It got me thinking about all this, anyway. In a very elemental way, we have a strong desire to align with others. Not necessarily agree with them about politics or who should be responsible for what chores, or whatever, but to basically see things the same way. To feel the passage of time in the same way. To be individuals in tandem. But of course, the differences between any two of us, when understood and accepted, make each other stronger. The thing that makes me unlike my husband, when he learns about it and it becomes part of his mental state as well, makes him more well-rounded, more understanding of others (“mo betta” as my boss would say), and the same applies to me and everyone else.

I don’t think blindly agreeing with someone else is optimal, and I don’t think never disagreeing is optimal. Everyone has to find their own view, but sharing that view is what gives us the panorama of human experience. Yes, some of us will have remarkably similar views. Some will have remarkably different views. That’s ok. Our society has always worked pretty well when balanced between extremely like and extremely unlike. And it gives us a chance to read and write about utopias and dystopias.

Thinking about how Bob could be having a really speedy week while I was mired in the slowest week in the entire world, ever, made me also think about how autonomous we each are. I can’t ever be inside Bob’s head and feel things just the way he does. I have a pretty good idea of stuff that goes on, and I have a pretty good idea of how things affect him, but I don’t feel it and think it the way he does – I feel and think it the way I do, through a superimposed Bob-like lens. And that’s really cool – I get to continually find things out about him and discover new things about him that I would have never suspected. He told me once that he read that Hillary said that she wasn’t going to leave Bill (over the scandal) because their life together was a conversation that they started in college and she wanted to continue that conversation. I like that, too. We, Bob and I, have a nice conversation because we have basic alignment on a lot of things – and that seems to make us happy – but we are still a little bit mysterious to the other, as well. Applying this line of thought to the twins… I grew them (at the same time…ahem) inside me, without using hands and without looking, and I KNOW them. They are my pals (although I’m pretty sure they are each others’ favorite person) and I love them dearly, but it is still absolutely amazing to me to see them figure stuff out, and how they get to conclusions they reach. They are utterly mysterious in some ways.

When you think about society as a mass, we are pretty homogenous. We are all humans, we feel an array of emotions and we can all be categorized into broad buckets, depending on how the cataloger is feeling. Looking in from the outside (like, way outside), we all live together (on Earth), and we all interact all the time. Once you start zooming in, you start seeing the fringe cases and how we are actually separated by geography (something we can overcome with things like internet access) and by arbitrary things like religion and politics (in the grand scheme, these things are very arbitrary, but I mean no offense). If you zoom in to the final granular being, you see something totally self-enclosed again – a micro to the macro that is all of humanity. And of course if you were to dive into an individual and start getting into cells and DNA and proteins and hormones, everything seems to be acting completely autonomously again. Funny, these repetitive patterns.

Oh how far afield we roam.

*I paraphrase, because I don’t remember where I saw/heard this – possibly on the Biography episode on Einstein.

Passion part three

Just today I came across this article in Fast Company by Cal Newport, excerpted from his book: http://www.fastcompany.com/3001441/do-steve-jobs-did-dont-follow-your-passion. The comments are especially interesting.

Part of the argument is that people think Steve Jobs told students to find and follow their passion, while his own history was more complex than that. He developed passion in his company over time. Read it, because I don’t want to re-create the entire article here. Again, take note of the comments.

Speaking of gaining or learning passion, when the babies were born, although I felt very attached to them and protective and deeply wanted them to be happy, I realized that I grew to truly love them as time went on and we spent more time together. I’m not saying I didn’t love them from day one, but it feels differently than other kinds of love, and it grows over time (like all love). Your children are the only people who you really actually love at first sight, but it is way different than the love you’re used to feeling, as a grown up. You kind of don’t understand it at first, and you’re way too tired to think about it. And maybe that tiny spark is something like when you finally find something to be passionate about, you could miss it, if you’re not paying close enough attention. But if you pay attention, you can do what needs be done to nurture it and make it grow.

Passion part 2

My sister and I were talking about the first Passion post (here) and she said some things that I thought were really interesting. First, you should know that she is a Major in the Army, she’s done two tours in war zones, and she is kind of* kick ass. Anyway, she’s currently doing some continuing education required by the Army for her current rank. That is oversimplifying it a little, but I think for our purposes, it is sufficient.

*Translate “kind of” into “totally.”

In one of her classes, the discussion turned to career soldiers. I’m paraphrasing, so I may edit this in the future if she lets me know that I’ve misrepresented things, which I hope is not the case. The discussion was about how some soldiers are professional soldiers. My sister is one such as these – her career is in the Army. Other soldiers join briefly, for a variety of reasons, and then leave the Army and have their actual career in a different field. Their discussion brought up the concept that these short-term soldiers are still highly trained, but at what point are they professional soldiers? They can be sent to a war zone and sustain a life-long injury or die, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a professional. It’s an interesting question. She noted that this strange grey area exists also for police and firefighters. They have dangerous, possibly life-threatening jobs, but that might not be what it is They Do with their lives.

I mentioned that if we had a thing (like, “the internet”) that showed all the possible jobs to people who were trying to find a path in life, maybe more people would figure out what they wanted to do earlier. I guess it works hypothetically (barely), but would be horrendously overwhelming in reality. Then I wondered if those among us who don’t fit molds and who re-make culture in their wake (could be people like Steve Jobs, but could be anyone who starts an enduring business in their home town) were confronted with such a list, would they say “no, I still don’t see anything that’s quite right – I’m going to do something else” or would they fall into the trap of “well, I assume I HAVE to choose one of these; this works well enough” and that’s that?

And after letting that stew in my brain for a few days, I am starting to think that having some kind of master list to present to people is a little too Ayn Rand-ish. NOW, the only thing by Rand that I’ve read is Anthem – admittedly, because it’s short and it sounded interesting – and I spent part of that wondering what would happen if I re-read Slaughterhouse Five instead.* So I’m not an expert.

*Nothing. Nothing would happen. It would be fine.

We almost need a system that can be abandoned, because it is not a true system but simply our natural tendency to go with the flow, so these rare individuals who change the culture aren’t inhibited. Granted, our current “go with the flow” style is very inhibiting for most of us. A lot of us are raised to prefer security and a 401(k) over a risky play, like starting a business. But we kind of need this Plinko-style passion hunt. The hunt is integral to the find. You try a little of this, you try a little of that, you consider this skill set, you volunteer here and there, and before you know it, you are uniquely you and you have found a role that best suits you. I’m not sure there will ever be a prescribed set of rules to get two different to the same result; at least partly because no two people are exactly the same in their contributions and fulfillment level. We wouldn’t want to get into a crazy alterna-situation where we’re churning out duplicates, because obviously no one is a duplicate of anyone else – ever. No one would ever be happy. We’d get to the opposite result than the one intended, which is happiness for everyone.

Passion

My husband made  a CD for a trip we were taking recently, and I stole it and put it in my car afterwards. This is the way of my people.

Anyway, I was listening to these songs, and I started to think about how, for me, musicians I like reach a sort of peak, and the music that follows will not ever be as good as at the peak. Usually, the apex of awesome is tied to some kind of life event or time period – for example, I’ve found that most of my favorite albums come from the time when you had to buy an album as a unit (in CD form, for me), rather than pick and choose songs from iTunes (or Napster, as we all started out). Or when videos were on MTV and there was only one MTV. So I think that I have an attachment to these CDs that I could listen to from end to end and get sort of lost in that particular language and mood. For example, Beck’s Sea Change is the best Beck album. I am already biased against future albums, even though I own several newer ones and they’re all fine – I like Odelay and I like Guero (to name one prior and one after), but neither captivates me like Sea Change. Is it his best work? I don’t know. I just like it the best. Same with Under the Table and Dreaming – for my money, it’s the best Dave Matthews Band album. Is Crash good? Yes. But UtTaD is better. To me.

But I digress. So, I think that there are definitive answers to the bestness of something, at least as far as these musicians are concerned. They have peaked for me. Weezer has peaked. I will always look at new releases from these bands that I care about with a bit of askance because I already have my mind made up, in a way. So this got me thinking about music reviewers. I don’t know how they can dispassionately review albums and music. Of course, part of the answer is that they are not indifferent – they are wildly passionate, and that’s what enables them to dissect and pass judgement. But I wouldn’t be able to do it because I’d always have my own internal rating. And I suppose some of these music journalists do as well, but they probably have the experience to turn that into a virtue, whereas for me it would be a hang-up.

But this all got me thinking – well this and something else completely unrelated – about how people who are the best at something are so because of their passion. I think caring for something counts a long way. I don’t think you get into music journalism (for example) by accident. You don’t end up a physicist for the cash flow. Obviously, to be successful you can’t just be interested, you have to be passionate – you must be dedicated, resolved and determined. We all of us are probably good at a bunch of stuff. I can cook well, but I wouldn’t make a good chef. I don’t like being near the oven because it gets scary hot, for one thing. I’m not willing to work to overcome this little hurdle – I know this about myself, and I have not to date pursued a career in the culinary arts. Also, when I was living in Ithaca between undergrad and grad school one of my jobs was working at Collegetown Bagels, and the volume of food materials was a little sickening to me. Plus, then I cut my finger tip open one morning making this guy’s bagel, and I can still feel the way the serrated blade scraped the bone. And now I don’t think I could ever work in food service again. It made my physically ill to pick up a knife for weeks. Anyway, chefs cut themselves and get burned and they just keep going, because they want to be there doing that, even if they get hurt or maimed sometimes. So anyway, we all have some skills that we enjoy but that we probably aren’t going to turn into our life’s work.

But what about the stuff that we are passionate about? Where in school are people helping us learn what that is, and getting ourselves started at it? Some of us had more sympathetic help than others, and some of us don’t know until we’re fully grown what we best love. One of my closest friends is a vet. She knew she wanted to be a vet from the time she was pretty young. I wanted to be a unicorn. And here we are. She is a vet and I am not a unicorn. I am ok with this, by the way. I wasn’t really passionate about it, I just dug unicorns. Still do.

It took me a long time to find something I was more than interested in. I’m very interested in a lot of things. I really like reading and writing. I like teaching pretty well. I love helping people, which teaching kind of falls under sometimes (I guess if you’re doing it right). I love painting. I love the twins and my husband and our life. I love puzzling over things and having a good think. I get to do bits of all this stuff most days, so I’m actually very lucky. But how do you practice for something like this in school? Who is your mentor for that? Is a better question why do we think one-size-fits-most school is a good solution to our varied and diverse populace? To back up, is it? Is it still a pretty good idea to get everyone a solid foundation in an array of subjects from a young age, then leave college up to them as far as interests go? I don’t know. I don’t know if we can get people to discover their passion in life by a certain deadline like graduation. I’m not sure why we’d want to. But I think we could do a better job of encouraging people to foster their interests early on so that they can start to figure out their passions earlier and spend more time happy. I make the corollary that if people are doing what they’re passionate about, they will be happier, by the way. And I think we could do a better job of helping people after they are done with school, if they are still searching.

To quote the inestimable Office Space, “We don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way.” Although the hunt is entertaining and edifying at times.

 

Search terms

WordPress lets you see the search terms people use when they end up on your blog (except in cases where the search engine doesn’t release those terms for privacy reasons).

The terms people have used to end up on my blog are… instructive. Clearly, people are getting here by accident. Let’s review!

Behr granite boulder (or some variant) counts for 28 search terms. Of course they’re looking for my in-depth opus here.

The Wizard of Oz counts for 3 terms. This is the next most plentiful search term, so clearly I am leading in the paint category. But they get this when they search that.

After that it’s just an interesting mess. Like, “things my dad never taught me” – close, but no cigar. Or “my little twins playing” – how about MY little twins playing? Baby-related queries make up 9 terms, but I’m not counting it because it is variously twins or babies, and not quite as cohesive.

A painful one is “try more harder grammar” – ouch. Not trying hard enough, I’d say.

Other ones are reflective of the types of things I search for, like “why don’t water droplets converge in clouds?” and “katniss everdeen likable character.”

Or my favorite: “ct scan of sociopath’s brain.” I can only imagine they were searching for this instead.

On Words, sort of

Recently LinkedIn got hacked and a lot of people’s passwords were compromised. And the overwhelming reaction was sort of a cross between a yawn and an eye roll (well, except for the folks at LinkedIn, that is). I was thinking about that when I was driving in to work today.

What was the motivation, really? What can really be achieved by hacking into someone’s LinkedIn account? I was thinking about how there are the hackers who are money thieves, the hackers who do something to cause trouble, and the hackers who do something to see if they can (and some are all three or some other combination thereof). I don’t know a lot about hackers, but this isn’t about hackers.

So then I was thinking about how hacking into LinkedIn probably wasn’t about getting money (or maybe it is, but that’s not where my thinking was going), and somehow then I started thinking about phishing schemes and how that is a sucky way to be parted with your money. Then I started wondering why it’s called “phishing” when these schemes, when executed by phone or regular mail are called “fishing”. Why the “ph”? Why not “e-fishing”? Both are hopelessly 1997 in resonance, so why did the misspelling win out?

Then, as naturally one would, I began thinking of “phat” versus “fat” and how the former meant, at one point, something along the lines of “cool” and the other meant what it’s always meant, but no such spelling revision was undertaken for “ill” meaning something like “cool” nor “sick” meaning the same.

At what point do we think we need to reconstruct words when we appropriate their meanings? Or is that a fad that’s already passed? Both “phat” and “phishing” are from the same era, so perhaps there was something more freewheeling about the time that encouraged re-spellings.

Heisenberg uncertainty principle for babies

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle for babies states that you can either take a picture of your baby doing something cute now, or see what cute thing the baby is going to do next, but not both.

I suppose if we’re going to be technical and correct, the principle would have to apply only to physical characteristics, and would have an upper limit set on the amount of data you could collect on either characteristic. Like, you can see where your baby is right now while walking, or your can measure her forward momentum, but not both – but that isn’t nearly as fun. My principle above is really the observer effect. Again, not as fun.

A goose, a fox and a bag of grain

So this is a logic problem which you are all probably pretty well acquainted with, considering it’s been around since the dark ages.

It goes like this (or some variation thereof): a farmer has a goose, a fox and a bag of grain that he has to transport across the river. The boat that he has can transport the farmer plus one item, whether it be goose, fox or grain. The constraints are that the fox will devour the goose if left alone with it and the goose will devour the grain if left alone with it. So you can never leave the fox with the goose or the goose with the grain as you ferry items across the river.

I’ll give you a second to work it out, if you haven’t already.

The answer is that the farmer crosses with the goose (leaving the fox and grain), returns and takes the fox across, brings the goose back over and picks up the grain (leaving the goose), takes the grain to the fox, and returns finally for the goose again. Rather than thinking of it as what you can’t do, think of it instead in terms of keeping the fox and grain together.

I know what the goal of the problem is – to stump someone or to develop some critical thinking skills – but I’ve long been bothered by it. It obviously has some assumptions built into it, otherwise it wouldn’t work. It is just a mental exercise, I tell myself, but I still can’t help but worry over it. I think the farmer’s problem isn’t that he’s got to manage himself and these items across a river in a small boat, I think that he needs to better plan his trips in general. Perhaps there is a scenario where he absolutely must travel with three items, two of which wish to eat two others. Ok – I suppose that could happen. There are other issues that he should address in order to not have to repeat the problems he faces trip after trip. First: contain these animals in some manner. Why are they not wandering off as it is? If the goose is sufficient incentive for the fox to stay with the farmer, wouldn’t the fox want to leave as soon as the goose is across the river? Same question regarding the goose and the grain. So I think he’d have more problems if he ferries the goose across the river and returns to find the fox has left – particularly if he needs the fox for some purpose. Meanwhile, he’s picking up his grain and returns to the goose to find IT has wandered off as well. Perhaps it has waddled to it’s natural habitat – the river – and floated away. So now the farmer has only one of his three items. Surely that would be a complete defeat of his purpose.

Second: get a bigger boat. Better yet, collaborate with other farmers in the area and build a sturdy bridge. Use the ferry or boat as a back-up in case of wash-out.

Third: this can’t be emphasized enough – plan better. A fox who is full won’t go after prey. That’s not how predators work. Something tells me a goose will eat itself to death if it could (maybe I don’t have much faith in geese – I was once attacked by a guard goose on a Scottish farm when I was little and these are not smart birds). If the farmer can’t plan a trip where he isn’t transporting these three particular items at once, perhaps he can plan on feeding the fox first (perhaps a different goose) so that he at least eliminates one restriction.

Speaking of logic problems, I was thinking about how many frozen peas it would take to fill a room the other day (something I was idly wondering about while driving, “who knows where thoughts come from, they just appear!”) and besides not having the room dimensions in mind, nor understanding how to determine the volume of the room (length x width x height?), nor the average size of a pea (something to do with diameter, I am sure), I was wondering how the filling would occur. If the room was going to be filled from the ceiling, you can fill the room with loose frozen peas, and you would get a very different answer than if you were filling via a door (or window, I guess). If you were filling by walking into the room, you’d probably need to have some kind of stacking happen, otherwise it just wouldn’t work, logistically. Try to imagine a firehose shooting frozen peas into a space you’re trying to fill. It really only works from the ceiling down, not floor-level up. So anyway, if you fill from the door, you will probably be using cases of frozen peas (those stack nicely, I’m sure) and then you have to figure out the volume of a case to determine how many cases fit in the room, and then the average amount of peas in each case to figure out the total number of peas. So that’s my question: firehose of peas from the ceiling, or cases of peas by the door?

Speaking of how nicely cases of peas fit into a (presumably) square room, at one point, scientist speculated that atoms were probably square, because it’s the best shape for packing a lot of stuff together without wasting any space.