Four good things and one bad

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

-- Wm. Shakespeare, "Henry VI", Part IV

I use the above quote with my heartfelt apologies to a friend who is currently in law school. But that's part of how I feel today. I know that it's important to have people around who are versed in the fields of rhetoric and procedure, but sometimes I think there's too many of them. And, I want to talk about the bad thing before ending on a much happier, lighter note.

Sherman, set the Way-Back machine for September 11, 2000, the last day of my qualifying exam. After the end of the test, I immediately hopped in my car and drove up to Santa Barbara to decompress for a while. I really needed it at the time. While I was on the way, I was in a car accident in Camarillo.

At the time, and now, I don't think it was that big an accident. There was less than a thousand dollars of damage to both cars combined. To the other guy's car, there was a little more than $300 damage. So why am I upset? Well, see the above quote. That's right; a lawsuit has been filed against me in Ventura County.

Now, before anybody decides to get up in arms about this, the other guy is claiming some kind of personal injury -- and my insurance company is (thank Bob) on my side. He has refused to settle with my carrier, and he figures the only way he could keep leverage in the case is to file a suit against me, and technically he's right; if you're going to file a lawsuit in a car accident case, you have one year to do it.

The numb of it is, I'm not sure weather I should be outraged, shocked, or giggling right now. On one level, I find it humorous that this is happening. On another level, I take that as a personal sleight, as though I haven't played fair in this case. And for those of you who know me well, you know that I always play fair.

My insurance company tells me that the odds are that this won't ever go anywhere, and I haven't been officially served with the lawsuit yet. But I still don't like having that cloud hanging over me.

The feeling persists that no one can simultaneously be a respectable writer and understand how a refrigerator works, just as no gentleman wears a brown suit in the city. Colleges may be to blame. English majors are encouraged, I know, to hate chemistry and physics, and to be proud because they are not dull and creepy and humorless and war-oriented like the engineers across the quad. And our most impressive critics have commonly been such English majors, and they are squeamish about technology to this very day. So it is natural for them to despise science fiction.

-- Kurt Vonnegut Jr., "Science Fiction"

I must humbly submit that it is no longer possible for me to be a respectable writer as per Vonnegut above. Not only do I understand the workings of a normal, run-of-the-mill household refrigerator, but I understand the voodoo that goes on inside a dilution refrigerator that allows it to get down to millikelvin temperatures without breaking a sweat. And the primary reason I understand how this thing works is that I recently had to assist in the repair of one here in the lab. Ours developed a leak when it got down to liquid nitrogen temperatures.

When Manyam and I found the leak, we both laughed about it for a while; we probably could have just looked at it and known that it would be a problem. But, the good news is that the problem is fixed, and we no longer have to worry about it.

So that's one good thing. The second one happened in the same day! (Halloween, BTW.) I've been working on a program to do some computation for about a month and half now. And now it works! So, I've been running the program continuously for about 5 days now. I no longer feel like a captive of Red Queen Syndrome. But I did for about a month, since it feels like Manyam and I didn't really get too much useful done last month.

So that's two now! On to number three! One of my other hobbies nowadays is working on piano-violin sonatas. Well, I think I'm finally getting a hang of the two I'm working on right now: Greig's c-minor and Brahms' G-Major. So, some time in the next couple of months (assuming both Erica and I can schedule some time to) I hope to start a regular practice schedule. And speaking of music, I'm making some progress on my latest set of compositions. Maybe I'll even finish one of them by Christmas time. (I sure hope so -- I dedicated it seven months ago!)

I promised you four -- so here's the fourth: I'm starting an exercise routine again. Three days a week, I'm going to go jogging before I head into the lab. That means I'll need to get up earlier, and it should do wonders for my humor. In a lot of ways, I'm looking forward to it (which is kind of a surprise, because I'm not much of a runner). But mostly, I'm tired of being overweight and unsightly. I'm tired of sitting at home on the couch and thinking "I should be doing something." And I think it's time I did something about it.

Brian Naberhuis
Last modified: Sun Nov 4 18:10:46 PST 2001