duck-shaped pain


24 January 2001
A Lot of Effort For A Measly Egg Roll

I read an article once (I think it was an article – it could have just been a screed) that claimed that since Science (no particular field of study specified, just Science as one big friendly entity) advances so quickly, since new knowledge and ideas pop up so frequently, no scientist worth his or her salt would be caught dead using data that was more than three or four years old.

I thought about that yesterday, when my entire life consisted of files. Files in boxes, files on shelves, files scattered randomly on the floor. Two offices’ worth of paper and logs and notes, finally being combined into one neat, hopefully efficient filing system. Arranged neatly by name, by date, by township by range, by something, just as long as someone, in theory, can find what they need.

I was looking through some of the files, looking for some identifying information that would help me determine the best place for things to go. And I found out this – we have some old, old, old data. Well logs from 1949. Lab analyses from the 1960s. Many pieces of paper older than I am, older than anyone else who works in the office. Still, it’s all considered to have equal potential – the stuff from several decades ago and data wrestled out of the ground last December could turn out to be equally useful. I guess, though, when you’re accustomed to thinking in geologic time, a span of a few decades is a mere in the entire history of the Earth.

I am in love with a chair. It’s not mine of course – I actually have no idea who it belongs to. Each day, new stuff turns up at the new office, brought in mysteriously and scattered around from room to room. This chair was just sitting there, by the water heater, so I liberated it temporarily to aid in the file job. It’s big and shiny, made of sturdy aluminum and upholstered with dark green non-leather of some sort. It looks like it came right out of a circa-1953 government office. Given the propensity that people I know have of acquiring used odds and ends, it may have well come from one. It spins, it reclines, it soothes the buttocks – perfect for sitting down, spacing out and listening to East Jesus during down time.

Yesterday, I went out to the Chinese buffet for lunch. There’s nothing this town loves more than a buffet, and as usual, it was packed. I sat and ate my dumplings and curried chicken alone, trying to concentrate on my book, but instead got sucked into listening to the next table’s conversation (these were LOUD people). It was an elderly couple, a friendly one, who conversed with all the waitresses as they came by. It was obvious they all knew each other, from the conversations that followed. The owner of the restaurant came over to talk to them, and it came out that this couple was from Moab, Utah, but that they traveled to my town about three times a week to eat at this buffet.

Hello? The food is not that good. Moab is 120 miles away – about a two-hour drive each way to get here and back. Not an inconsequential drive. I mean, sure, both towns share a phone book, and it seems sort of close in a way. However, this is due to the fact that there’s really a whole lot of empty out in this part of the country, and a town 120 miles away can seem like just a leisurely afternoon drive when you think about how much farther away other places are.

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