Saturday, January 03, 2004

The Boyz and Babies-to-be

This evening I had dinner with some old friends from my undergraduate days. At a mexican restaurant, I found myself seated between two old drinking buddies: Tojo (who I have known since high school) and Corco (with whom I both went to school and worked as a field engineer). Our banter was much as it was when we were twenty. The waiter--who spoke no English--probably would have assumed that we were having exactly the same conversations based on the tone and tenor. The content, however, was considerably different. Instead of discussing a recent television program or rehashing the debauchery of the previous weekend, Tojo and Corco discussed the benefits of amniocentesis and the limitations of federal maternity leave policy. With the same tone of voice and aplomb once used to describe the shortcomings of pizza, Corco (a recent father) stated:

"Childbirth classes suck. Avoid them at all costs. You'll learn that breast feeding is better than bottles, and that a Doula knows more than an OB-Gyn... You can learn that from the pictures in What to Expect What You're Expecting!"

Tojo (a recent father-to-be) replied: "That's what I figured, man. What's the deal with the Diaper Genie anyways?"

I realized that somehow we had all become adults without realizing it. And it wasn't the wedding ceremonies, careers, or mortgages that had done it. Instead, it was the love for our children--both born and unborn--that had somehow caused a paradigm shift in what we talked about. The outward appearance of our communication rituals, however, had changed very little. The expressions, glances, and exchanges depended on the intertextuality from years of conversations, arguments, late night study sessions, and parties. The difference, however, was still present... and largely unexplainable.

After a good deal of time thinking about communciation and how people use information, I'm at a loss for explaining the ways that Tojo and Corco had changed. Perhaps this is the way it should be. As demonstrated by other sciences, no amount of Information Science can explain the magic of children.
Back to Blogging... Thoughts on Writing

I'm finally back from several weeks in snowy British Columbia where I experienced some fantastic skiing. My legs are starting to recover. I've discovered that being a strong skiier in the icy east doesn't mean much in the moguls and snow of the Rockes. Luckily, my wife is both an exceptional skiier and a great teacher. One of these days, I may even be able to keep up with her!

NOTE TO SELF: next time, I need to prepare better--specifically: heavy squats and lunges, abs, back, and tris; and lots of cardio. In short, be in better shape!

While recovering from skiing I was able to get quite a bit of reading done--mostly dry academic library stuff from home. On a few days, however, I picked up novels lying around the condo. Michael Crichton's Prey, for example, held my attention for an afternoon. I also attempted a Dick Francis novel. Again.

For some reason, I've never been able to finish anything Dick Francis has ever written. The characters don't hold me and my attention span wanders. Even when I was living in rural Nicaragua and was desperate for English reading material (I even read Moby Dick!), I couldn't finish one of Francis's novels. My recent experience was no different. Although I failed to complete the novel, I did begin to wonder why people actually write.

The topic of author motivation is hardly new or innovative. Balzac's La Com├ędie Humaine, for example, accounts for several rows of commentary in my local library. Francis, however, is doing something different. He seems to write about the things he loves--horse racing and photography--in every single story. How does he do his research? Does he have to visit the great tracks of the world and take pictures? Does it then become essential for him to place triactor bets to completely understand the setting? More importanly, are these expenses tax deductable?

I'm thinking of writing a series of novels about an Icelandic skiing instructor named Vladimir Moraine who travels to a different skiing hot spot of the world each season and ends up solving a murder mystery at each location.

How else can I possibly write off mountain vacations and a gear fetish?