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5.31.02 - Braaaaaaains...

Ever wanted to see inside your own head?

I remember a while back seeing something called the Visible Human Project. Some medical, sciencey folks took a corpse, froze it, sliced it into a few thousand incredibly thin slices, then photographed each slice.  When put together, this basically creates an animation that moves through the entire body, showing it in incredible detail.  Pretty neat (there's a sample MPEG here).

This link here reminds me of that, only this isn't a sliced up corpse.  This fellow took the data gathered by an MRI of his own head, and somehow (he explains exactly how, actually, I just don't understand it) made it into a series of movies.  It's really amazing stuff.  It virtually slices away bits of his head so you can see everything, all without requiring him to be dead!  Very cool.  The movies are MPEG format, but the animated GIFS work quite nicely, too.  Freaky stuff!

I think I'd like to have a peek at my own brain, because, frankly, I've been having problems with it lately.  I can't seem to remember things I need to remember, such as to pay my phone bill, but I can recall in great detail and without hesitation the dandruff that clung to my second-grade teacher's eyebrows.  Thanks!

However, since I can't view my own brain, I thought I'd do some reading about brains instead, to see if I could uncover the problem.  Here's what I found:

Our brains have three layers.  The deepest and most ancient layer is the brain stem, or "reptilian brain", and it handles all the basic stuff, like moderating our breathing and heart rates, our "fight-or-flight" responses, and other instinctual stuff such as breeding and eating.   Naturally, I have a problem with this.

Brains began evolving on this planet hundreds of millions of years ago.  Isn't it time for them to start delegating?  Especially now that we humans have such cool ones?  Come on, brain!  Why are you still regulating my breathing?  My lungs should have the hang of it by now.  It ain't hard.  In, out, in, out.  Doesn't take a whole lot of practice.  Same with my heart.  Lub-dub, lub-dub.  Eating is a no-brainer, and we (meaning my brain and I) should know by now that we are weak and scrawny and should always choose the "flight" option over the "fight" option, yes?  Our first rule of Fight Club is RUN AWAY FAST.  As far as my "mating" impulses go, sheez!  My dick can handle it.  I assure you.  It's ready to go.

And I'm not saying my brain shouldn't keep an eye on things, because I don't trust my dick any farther than I can throw it, and my lungs are probably holding a grudge by now.  All I'm saying is, let's distribute some of the lesser tasks to free up some brainpower where it's needed.

The next layer of the brain is the limbic, or "mammalian" brain.  Like the reptilian brain, the limbic is non-linear, non-logical, and non-verbal.  And non-useful, by the sound of it!  Am I right, folks?  No, it actually does stuff.  It basically stores long-term memories, and takes care of our emotions.  Interestingly, the nerve network that now handles emotions and moods and feelings used to handle smell.  This explains why, when you smell something, for example, Bazooka bubble gum, you instantly have violent, angry, vengeful feelings.  This is because Keith Stone, who used to beat you up regularly, always chewed Bazooka bubble gum.  This may only apply to those of you whom Keith Stone used to beat up regularly (namely, me).

Obviously, my life would be a lot smoother if I got rid of some emotions.  The violent, vengeful emotions I mentioned a moment ago, when coupled with the weak and scrawny attributes I mention two moments ago, obviously will never do me any good.  So, they're gone.  Anxiety, embarrassment, paranoia... brain, you can just scotch-tape those switches in the "on" position and walk away, don't you think?  And hell, we ride the bus a lot.  Surely we can save some time and delegate feelings like "disgust" and "revulsion" back to the smell network.

The third and most recently evolved layer is the aptly named "human" brain, which is divided into two parts, or "hemispheres", the right and the left.  The left brain is cognitive, mackin' with da fresh speech, language, and reasoning shiznit.  The right brain, meanwhile, handles imagination and intuition, and is associated with creativity.  Now we're making progress!  First, we can slash the imagination budget in half.  Christ, we spent most of this morning feverishly imagining we were a starting pitcher for the New York Mets, and despite all that time and brainpower, we are not a starting pitcher for the New York Mets.  We are a doofus who scraped our knuckles on the wall while practicing our wind-up and release in the mirror.  Okay?  Now, intuition is useful, although we need to install a relay that tells us to do the opposite of what our intuition tells us, because our intuition is always completely wrong.

In terms of the left brain, our speech centers are not in great demand since we forgot to pay our phone bill, and reasoning, as this update probably proves, is not serving us too well and might as well be tossed.

Language, well, I guess we should hang on to that bit.  You hear me, brain?  Don't start, um... y'know... pulling... any, uh... whatchacallum... plugs... on the uh... lang... langa... wordy... things.  No need... um.  Mess.  With... them... bits.  You... hear me?  Brai... bra... thinky thing?  No... do... that.

Um.  Oh.  Poop.


5.30.02 - From Jerk to Shining Jerk

Yesterday, I was trying to determine how I would explain the world around me if I had never been taught about the world around me.  I came up with a giant greasy lemon behind the sky, an evil hole that stole heat from the ground, and a few other drunken attempts at humor that prove it's a damn good thing I'm not in charge of coming up with explanations for thing.

And today, I shall continue!  Tired of looking up at the sky, I cast my uninformed gaze at the lumpy land around me, and spot:

The Ocean:  Crap!  Da hell is this thing?  It's big, it's wet, and when I run excitedly to examine and/or hug it, the waves knock me down and bounce me along the bottom and get muck in my mouth and water in my ears, and I have to spend days knocking my hand against the side of my head, until one night I'm trying to sleep and the water comes out of my ear with a soft "gloog" and it's all warm and gross.  I hate the ocean, or as I have named it, BigBlueJerk.

BigBlueJerk also becomes the first member of my intricate system of gods and deities.  I figure with so much around me I couldn't really explain with my tiny, limited mind, with so many wonders in the world, with so many huge, incomprehensible forces of nature out there, I would determine that there were powers at work, powers that defied explanation, powers that dwarfed both me and the land in which I lived, powers that existed long before I arrived on the scene and would continue long after I had gone.  Powers that completely, utterly, and absolutely hated my ass and would take every opportunity to fill my mouth with muck, both literally and figuratively.  Thus, my god system, named TheManagement, was born.  Unfortunately.

Animals:  Animals are all part of TheManagement.  There are mean ones, like wolves and lions, that are faster than I am and chase me and try to eat me.  I don't like them.  There are rabbits and birds, that I chase and try to eat, but can't catch.   I don't like them, either.  There are some, like elephants, that are big and slow, and I can catch them but can't hurt them with my feeble and pathetic attempts at violence.  Plus, I step in their poop a lot.  So I hate them.  Then, there are little tiny ones, like bugs, who bite me and fly up my nose when I'm running from the fast animals that are chasing me.  I hate all of them.  I name these gods, collectively, Bitch.  I spend most of my time glaring sullenly at them while eating dirt and grass.

Trees and Plants:  Trees and plants completely suck.  I am unaware, naturally, that I am dependant upon plants to provide the oxygen that I breathe, so I can't really see any use for them.  No way in hell would I ever have figured out how to burn wood, how to use leaves and roots medicinally, or how to chop down trees or build shelter.  Trees seem to be around for members of Bitch to hide in and jump on my head in an attempt to eat me, as well as for other members of Bitch to scamper up when I am chasing them in hopes of eating them.  Branches scratch me and leaves make me itch and undergrowth is hard to walk around in.  When, after giving up on eating the small, fluffy members of Bitch, I eat berries from the plants and they make me extremely sick and give me horrible wet gas.  Plants and trees are the very essence of TheManagement, and I therefore name them... well, I don't so much as name them, as give them a dismissive wave and make a noise like: "gaaahhhHHHH" when referring to them.

Eggs:  Eggs are gods, too.  And I'm not saying that simply because I forgot to change the egg graphic up on the top left this week.  Really.

Mountains: Mountains are pretty, but hard to climb.  Still, I would climb one of them, the tallest one I could find, simply to get away from BigBlueJerk and *dismissive wave* "gaaahhhHHHH" and hopefully all the hurtful members of Bitch.  It looks pretty quiet up there, and I figure I can sit and sulk in peace, and possibly eat passing PuffyFloatingThings for sustenance.  Of course, it takes me months to climb the damn thing, and it's cold and windy and I fall down a lot and cry and occasionally try to catch and eat the members of Bitch I see, but they are nimble and jump around on the cliff walls and I have to eat rocks and ice.  Finally, though, I reach the summit, make myself a little home out of rocks and dead branches, stuck together with some Bitch poop I find, discover I can't eat the PuffyFloatingThings, and settle down to live an extremely sulky but hopefully short life.  And then the damn top of the mountain explodes, and this hot red stuff shoots out melts my loving, stinky home, and ash fills the air, and I have to run all the way back down.

Mountains, or DEATHPAINHATE, as I call them, are obviously gods.  Huge gods.  UpperLevelManagement.  Definitely.


5.29.02 - It Burrnnnsss

(New worksafe page!  Thanks to Bob for the great suggestion!) 

Back when people started being more like people and less like monkeys, they began to wonder about stuff.  What was this big thing they were living on?  What was all that stuff in the sky?  Why did it rain, and snow?  What was the deal with trees and earthquakes and butter and horses?  Why was King of the Hill still on when it obviously sucked?  Y'know?

Someone had to come up with answers, which at that point, were just guesses.  Take the sun, for instance.  At different points in history, and in different parts of the world, different people thought different things about the sun.  It was a god to be worshipped, it was a chariot, a celestial fire, a burning mask, a woman carrying a torch... it was even the result of a bet between an owl and a rabbit.

This is all well and good, but the real question here is:  what do I think?  Or rather, what would I have thought?  See, sometimes, I just wonder how I would have explained certain things if I hadn't already been told what they were.  Hey, it's either think about that or think about spreadsheet formulas.

Let's say I was raised out in the wild, by wolves or rats or dingos, or just by incredibly dumb people who didn't know anything.  Surely, I would look around and wonder about things, and come up with explanations and names for them on my own.  Right?  So, how would I have explained things like the sun and moon and seasons and Sam Donaldson's eyebrows?  That's my goal today:  To think of what I would have thought of.

It's tough to be objective at this point, however.  There's already stuff in my head, crammed there by teachers and parents and books and loud-mouths who couldn't let me figure things out for myself.  How can I clear my head of all the information already in there?  How can I completely rid myself of all knowledge and judgment?  The answer seemed obvious:  I had nine beers, which always destroys any judgment I have, and then I sat down and tried to explain things:

The Earth:  The Earth is big.  You can walk a long time and not find the end of it.  You can walk for weeks and not even find a decent pizza place.  So, it's big.  In fact, it continues on forever.  And isn't round.  It isn't flat, either.  It's hella bumpy, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.  There's all sorts of hills and things that are hard to walk up, and that pisses me off.  I'd say the earth is shaped like a blanket thrown over a scattered bunch of legos.  Kinda lumpy.  LumpyDirtLand is the name I would have given it.  It doesn't move or float or revolve or anything like that; since it goes on forever there's nowhere for it to move to.  Sometimes it shakes, which I think probably means it's growing more stupid hills for me to walk up.

The Sun:  I'd say... it's a hole in the sky, and on the other side is, um... something yellowish.  Maybe a big lemon.  The sun is also evil.  It's obvious that it's sucking all the heat out of LumpyDirtLand.  I mean, the sun comes up and it starts getting really warm around here, as the heat comes out of the ground.  When it's right overhead, the heat is really pouring out of the ground and up to the hole in the sky.  Stupid sun!  Taking our heat!  Die!  It makes us sweat, too, which means it's stealing the water right out of our bodies!  I'd name it HotRoundHole.  And then I'd realize how completely dirty that sounded and call it StupidHoleInSky.  It makes us turn pink if we take off our clothes when it's around, probably because it thinks we should be embarrassed about our naked bodies, which, frankly, we should be.  At least, I should be.  The only things that stop the dastardly, evil StupidHoleInSky are:

The Clouds:  They save our heat by blocking StupidHoleInSky and they look like you could eat them.  I bet you could bounce on them, too.  I call them PuffyFloatingThings.  When they get gray, they start dropping water on LumpyDirtLand, to fill up the oceans and rivers and to give us our sweat back.  They also shoot heat back down to LumpyDirtLand with lightning, which I'd call YellowJabbyLines. Every time that happens, the StupidHoleInSky gets mad and knocks the big lemon over, which makes thunder, or as I'd name it, HolyShitThat'sLoud.  But we just laugh!  Stupid StupidHoleInSky!

The Moon:  The moon is another hole in the sky, but it doesn't seem to be sucking anything out of the Earth.  In fact, it makes it so we can see at night, so I call it NiceHoleInSky.  I'm hoping it will take over the StupidHoleInSky, which it seems to be trying to do.  I mean, the StupidHoleInSky is never out at night, but sometimes the NiceHoleInSky is out during the day, which leads me to believe it's going to pounce on StupidHoleInSky one of these days and totally kick StupidHoleInSky's ass.  Thing is, whoever controls the NiceHoleInSky hole sometimes puts the lid on it.  Really slowly.  You look up, and every night the lid is a little bit more covering the hole.  Must be a damn heavy lid, or else the NiceHoleInSky Guy is just a huge weak pansy. Once I saw him try to put his lid on StupidHoleInSky but it just slid off the other end.  Damn.  That big lemon must be covered in grease or something.

Stars:  Stars are a bunch of small holes poked in the sky.  They're not stupid or nice. They're just kinda there.  I probably don't notice that they move, because, sheez, I have better things to do than stare at the goddamn sky all the time.  I guess I call them TeenyHolesInSky.  Shooting stars-- er, I mean, Shooting TeenyHolesInSkys are when a TeenyHoleInSky is nice and tries to give us some heat back, maybe some heat that PuffyFloatingThings missed somehow.  It's only a tiny bit of heat, so the StupidHoleInSky doesn't notice, and doesn't get mad and knock the huge lemon over.

The Seasons:  There are four seasons.  There is FuckIt'sHotOut, GoddamnLeavesEverywhere, FreezingMyNutsOff, and Spring.

Man.  There's a lot of stuff to figure out and explain!  I haven't even done animals or trees or clog dancing yet.  I'll have to pick this up tomorrow, I think.

Oh, and I call "Tomorrow" TodayOnlyNewer.


Diversions!  Or, TheRealReasonYouComeHere!  We've got Shite Price, where you can see how much your poop is worth!  If you're going to use the restroom at work, simply start the Shite Price timer, then stop it when you get back, and it will tell you how much your bowel movement just cost the company (in pounds, not dollars, so you Yanks will have to convert it).  Also, get ready to squint!  We've got Guimp, which is the world's smallest website.  There are even games there.  Tiny ones!  Finally, a neat Flash game called Hexxagon.  It's fun and tricky!  Links are on the left-hand sidebar in a box that looks like this:

Only bigger. 


Last Week on Not My Desk!

Alas, Alack, Alarm
Bag Reel
A Hyena ate my Dingo Baby!
Missed Connections

My Desk Archives

Smurf Rescue
Donkey Kong
Space Panic

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Mary Jo Pehl Interview
Kids Page
The Temp Test

Hall of Henchmen


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Chapter One

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