Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tattoos

Sometimes I get asked why I don't have a tattoo. I have nothing against tattoos. Some people talk about how they are going to look when their owner is old, but I think it will look great. Maybe the young people of the time will realize that the old people were young once too.
The fact is I have never had a design in mind that I liked long enough to get it stuck on my body. For a while I had the idea of a brain from the top, but upon careful reflection realized it would look like an ugly birthmark from a distance.

My calligraphy is also an option.. (see www.thunderwords.com for a gallery of my calligraphy work) The problem with this is two-fold. First, my style has changed over the years, though it has started to settle down. The second is that I don't know what word I'd want. One of my favorite words, "Rumpus," looks relatively bad in my calligraphy, because I have trouble with the letter "u."

I also had an idea of getting a tattoo of something REALLY trendy like Alf or "Where's the beef?" You know, something so monumentally stupid that nobody would think it wasn't a joke.
My pal Alison had a funny idea. Once when I was visiting her in NYC she suggested we go get tattoos-- just single pinpricks so we could say that we had them.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Riddle of the Sphinx (Robot Version)

This was written by my friend, cognitive scientist Daniel Saunders:

What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?

Bearing in mind that when I refer to times of day, they could metaphorically stand in for the successive stages from the beginning to the end of a process, not necessarily occupying the span of one day, but potentially even years.

Also, when I say "legs", I may actually be referring to the broader class of things that place pressure against the ground to aid in walking.

Feel free to use broad generalizations about the species in your answer.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Underwater Hockey


Saturday I played the strangest sport I think I've ever seen. It's called "underwater hockey."

This is a picture of it I got off the web.

The object is to get the puck in the goal, which is a metal thing. The puck is made of lead, covered with plastic. It sinks fast. The puck is very heavy. You manipulate the puck with a short wooden stick. You basically push it along the bottom of the pool. There is one goal in the shallow end, and the other team's goal is in the deep end. At halftime, teams switch sides, but there is no benefit to having your goal on one side of the other. Everyone wears flippers, a mask, a snorkel, and ear guards.

It's hard to tell people apart. Basically the only way to know who's on your team is by the color of the stick. Black is one team, white is the other. From the surface it looks like a lot of splashing around. If you go under, it's rather lovely: big group of people swimming about. You know, everything in slow motion. When you're in the thick of it, however, it's a different story. The puck is so heavy that you can't pass very far, so it's a little like 3rd graders playing soccer-- the whole team surrounds the ball all the time. Here's a video of people playing.. note, in the video, people constantly coming up for air:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmVpGquQNe4

People are swimming under you, over you, in all directions. You get slapped in the face with flippers, bonked on the head with the stick. It's crazy!

The strangest thing about it is that, it is strenuous, and when you're exerting yourself the most you can't breathe. And if you manage to wrestle control of the puck, you can't sprint it to the goal all by yourself, because you need to come up for air. Even the best players need to breathe once in a while.

For the beginner, getting used to the snorkel is the hardest part. The snorkels we use are meant to be upright when you're looking straight down, but in this sport you often want to look laterally across the pool. I kept inhaling water into it.

It's practically silent. The goals are metal so everyone can hear when the puck hits it. You can't talk, or really communicate at all down there. The ref signals something has happened with a clicker we all can hear. We come up for air and find out what happened.

The other weird thing was nobody knew who won. Nobody seemed to care. Then we all got in the hottub afterward.

I think I'll do it again.