A Little Less Magic in the World.

13 06 2007

Don Herbert, AKA Mr. Wizard, died today at the age of 89.  He’s one of those people that had drifted to the foggy background of my memory, but when I saw the news of his passing, the recall was instantaneous.  I loved Mr. Wizard as a child–this is the man that taught me how to slice a banana while it was still in the freakin’ skin.  He’s the man who made me really, really want dry ice.  (I still do, where do you get the stuff?).  When I was a kid, I wanted Legos and Transformers, but I also wanted a Chemistry set and a rock tumbler–and it was thanks to him.

Once in High School I happened across an episode of Mr. Wizard’s World on TV very early in the morning.  He was terribly low-key, I found him a bit…erm…dull.  You know how teenagers are, they need the frenetic, ADD, pow-pow-pow in-your-face pacing of an action movie.  Bill Nye became my teenage-years Mr. Wizard.  Still, Don Herbert was the original and helped instill a love of science and learning in me at an early age.  His influence on me and an entire generation of Geeks was enormous.  Even though he lived to a generous age, it’s sad to see him go.  This world was better for his having been here.


So It Goes…

12 04 2007

Goodbye to one of my great Heroes.  Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” was one of the first books to truly change the way I thought about things.  It has been my favorite book since, and he my favorite writer.  God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut, you will be missed.

I Dream of Vietnam

6 04 2007

Today at work I had a revelation, or a moment of clarity.

We got some Yellow Fin Tuna in our Seafood department which was coming out of Vietnam. While I was working on the sign I decided to look up flights to Ho Chi Minh City, just on a lark. When the results came up ($1140 per person), I imagined the trip. I imagined my wife and I taking the flights, making connections, getting off the plane in Vietnam and wandering the Streets of Ho Chi Minh City. I could see it, it was so clear. And in that moment, I nearly wanted to cry. The moment I had that reaction I also realized why I had it. I had that reaction because in the midst of my imaginings, I could also feel my longings. In that moment I realized how badly I wanted that. Not just Vietnam, but traveling. Getting out, seeing the world, exploring new cultures. I’ve always known how much I liked traveling, experiencing new and unfamiliar places, but that vision of Vietnam was crystal clear and I wanted it, and I could also see how far away from that dream I was.

I’m nearly 32 now, and for most of my life I’ve never really had a clear idea what I wanted to get out of it. Now I do. I used to let myself get distracted by shiny things: TVs, game systems, kitchen gadgets. I tended to sacrifice savings and future needs for passing whimsy and impulse. I need to hold onto that moment of clarity and recall it when I want to buy an Xbox 360 or a new TV so I can watch the same shows in higher definition. I need to recall that vision of Asia so I can remember how badly I want to experience it firsthand, and hopefully it will get me to put the DVD down and walk out of the store empty-handed.

I told my wife about this today and she helped set a concrete goal for us. Next summer, June 2008, will be our 10 year wedding anniversary, and she wants to celebrate in Paris. Yes, my god yes. That’s our solid goal now, that’s our plan. In just over one year, I plan to be kissing my incredible wife on the Eiffel Tower. I plan to hold tight to her hand and look out over Paris and experience the world first-hand and not just dream about it under the fluorescent lights of a cramped computer room.

Thank you, Vietnam, for the unexpected and powerful inspiration.