Many mixed emotions

I’ve been checking in on people’s happiness quotients, and I have many things to report. Mostly good, so if you are looking for trouble or just feeling misanthropic, don’t go below the fold.


Let me start with my friend elle (that is her secret code name). She has been living on the South Pole since the “beginning” of “winter” last year, almost a year ago. That has been quite an adventure and I’m sure over the long term she will be very happy to have done it. But at the moment I think she really really really wants to fly north. As soon as possible. Well, as best as I can reconstruct things, she is on a US Air Force transport plane as I write this, heading for the outer edge of the southern continent, from which she will be transported on to New Zealand. No one has ever been happier to be going to New Zealand, if I catch her drift.

Last weekend we closed up the cabins. This means following all the rituals that were passed down to us from earlier generations, some of which make sense, some don’t. Turning off the water systems makes sense because if you don’t, pipes will freeze and crack. Covering all the furniture with sheets does not make sense because the sheets all seem the same in the spring as they were in the fall (nothing bad happened to the surface of the furniture), but at the same time they provide habitat for mice underneath so there is more rather than less mouse shit on top of the furniture (including beds) than otherwise might be. Plus, this practice guarantees a day of laundry instead of sitting on the dock reading, because there are a LOT of sheets. While doing this, Amanda and I made ourselves happy by thinking of an alternative method, which we will implement next year if we can overcome the cultural inertia.

I worried about Amanda’s happiness titre because whenever we are at the cabin, she manages to say at least once per day “You know, this is my favorite place to be.” But I think she is happy to put the cabin aside for a while and focus her attention, including her happiness neurons, on the forthcoming birth. She is just a few weeks away from B-Day, and there has been a marked increase in some of the negative physical effects of advanced pregnancy, such as sleeping for only brief periods and other issues. So we are balancing the happiness in this respect. When I ask her if she is happy, the response is usually “yes” with a smile. These days it has become “yes” but with a grimace.

The dogs seem pretty happy, but they really don’t know any better.

Julia was seriously ensaddened a couple of weeks ago with the sudden death, though very quickly advancing illness, of her cat, whom she’s known since she was little. I’m sure that will be an issue for some time, but she is dealing with it. On the other hand, her first year in high school is going better than one might hope for given the fact that it is high school and high school is filled with teenagers and stuff. And, she got to have dinner with Alan Alda the other day. On the other hand, her computer totally died. However, this means an opportunity to get a totally new computer. Well, a new used one, but that’s good. Yay.

Speaking of computers, my friend Lizzie (whom you’ve met, because of her uncanny trait of inspiring me to write blog posts about her) also had her computer die. This makes both her and me sad, because we have data on that hard drive which is backed up but clumsily so. And she has lots of other stuff that was never really backed up, is not critical, but that she would prefer to not have dissipate into the externet.

Do you want to know what makes me laugh? I’m sitting here typing this blog post on my laptop. Underneath my laptop, serving as a temporary desk, are Lizzie’s broken laptop, Julia’s broken laptop, and an old broken laptop of mine. Lizzie’s has a sticker which is a hand drawing of a naked lady sitting on a skull on the cover, covering the Apple logo. Julia’s has an apple sticker from an iPod on the cover, hiding the HP logo. Mine has an Obama sticker covering the Windows logo.

Anyway, Lizzie’s happiness quotient is high despite her computer troubles. We spent a few hours chatting last night. That always increases my happiness quotient, because Lizzie has special abilities that put happiness into me, which I will not describe here. For her part, we went through the checklist, as we always seem to do: Room mates, job, research, volunteer work, her clothing design work, her music, for some reason we never talk about her boyfriend, and so on. Positive marks in all areas, with two attention-worthy dilemmas, one having to do with her job, one with a volunteer/research related opportunity she has. My happiness quotient went, perhaps selfishly, through the roof of the Spyhouse Coffee shop (where we were chatting) when, seeing the dilemmas from the outside, I easily made a suggestion that, if followed, would solve a whole bunch of her problems at once. The nicest thing Lizzie has ever given me is the smile produced by that suggestion. Her smile was so bright people elsewhere in the darkish, almost too-hip coffee shop reached for their shades.

Stephanie Z, whom you know, has been experiencing the kind of trouble that one can rationally think one’s way out of (happiness/sadness wise) but only briefly and not realistically. When the Big C comes knocking at your door, only substantive changes (which can consist of self reflection and rational thinking, eventually, but mostly one hopes would be medical) can really affect the happiness meter. But Stephanie’s scary news has been followed by a stream of more positive information, and she’s managing really well, and I’m glad I could help a little with that.

Closing the cabin was like saying goodbye, and also like saying thank you (to the cabin, the lakes, the loons, and so on). But that was small change compared to what my friend Mike has experienced as of late, saying good bye and thanks to his home town, and to his father at the same time. That is bitter sweet but I think Mike has found ways to make it more sweet than bitter.

Of all the people I have ever known … ever … my other friend Stephanie is way on the top of the list for giving me happiness. But we are sadly hardly ever in touch these days. We live too far apart, other commitments, busy schedules, all that, make it hard. But we did manage to carve out time for lunch at a new favorite place of hers, new to me, in Northeast Minneapolis. We made our connections, and lamented the long periods between opportunities to do so, and went our separate ways. I think one of my goals over the coming winter will be to reduce the inter-Stephanie spacing to a more happy-compliant level.

The goldfish seemed more anxious than happy this morning. But then I fed it. Now, it is lolling in the jar it lives in, being as happy as a clam, and doing so without a limbic system. That’s a good trick for a fish.

Comments

  1. #1 Enoch
    October 19, 2009

    The “Externet” !!!! That concept makes me happy!!! (and sad)

  2. #2 Maud
    October 19, 2009

    Sweet.

  3. #3 Paul D.
    October 19, 2009

    You just put the blankets and sheets inside those big plastic bags that you suck all the air out of. That’s what we do.

  4. #4 becca
    October 19, 2009

    Wait, clams have limbic systems?

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2009

    Becca: Well, I didn’t exactly say that, but I admit the paragraph may have been poorly worded.

  6. #6 frosty
    October 19, 2009

    That is a very long winter on the South Pole. Or really, UNDER the south pole.

  7. #7 becca
    October 19, 2009

    Curses! Foiled again…

  8. #8 Azkyroth
    October 19, 2009

    How exactly did her computer die? If you can spare $20 for a USB-to-ATA interface it should be trivial to extract the relevant data from her hard drive, unless it’s the hard drive itself that failed. I’ve done this so often it barely phases me any more.

  9. #10 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2009

    Azkyroth: I’m doing the SATA-USB procedure in the morning. If it works, we’re golden. We will then go looking for a new computer it will be easy to transfer the data.

    Yea, that’s a nice kit. I’m getting something similar, a bit more expensive, but with a case at the local shop, in the AM. I have a pile of 2.5 inch drives that are no longer used, so I’ll add it to my collection of old drives converted to dubious uses.

  10. #11 Irene
    October 20, 2009

    A stack of dead computers? Are you Typhoid Greg?

  11. #12 Enoch
    October 20, 2009

    Whatever you don, DON’T freeze the disk drive!!

    … only kidding. That does often work, you should try it.

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