Note: This was originally written on the day before my birthday, so
move yourself to that point in the spacetime continuum; it will
help make most of this make more sense (but not complete sense).
Thoughts and Mumblings While Teetering on the Verge of 69 ...
is July 20, 2018, and I find myself mindtripping on the statement,
I turn 69.”
is a very strange sentence, and one I’ve never uttered before (at
least not in this lifetime). It has many possible meanings—which
exist at various levels of the real and surreal—the combination
of which are causing me to have multiple, somewhat contradictory,
let’s parse that puppy and see where it leads us. Note to the
pedantic: the following screed is incomplete because ... I don’t have
much time left until the above statement is no longer true.
there’s this strange, somewhat arbitrary concept of time itself and
how we speak about/refer to it. ‘Tomorrow’ means the day following
the current one. But our day
not a precise measure of time; in fact the word itself is not precise
since we have more than one definition of ‘day’, solar and sidereal
being the two most frequently used. And neither of those is 24 hours
long. So we don’t really know how long it is from ‘today’ until
also have the minor problem that ‘time of day’ is purely a local
phenomenon based crudely on longitude. It is currently 1130 PDT. I
live north of San Francisco, which is -0800 relative to UTC. Oh, and
we are on Daylight Savings Time, so make that -0700 UTC. Uluru
Ayers Rock) is UTC + 0930. So as far as they are concerned (not that
I am so self-centered as to think that anyone at
Uluru is concerned about my age) it is 2018-07-21 @ 0400+ and I am
already 69. But that’s just their opinion.
of my favorite quotes about time comes from my now-deceased
godmother. She was still firing on most cylinders (an odd expression
in and of itself) and could hold up her end of the conversation.
Well, most of the time she could. I remember once asking her
something like, “What are you doing tomorrow?” Her reply
ranks up there with the great Zen koans.
not tomorrow yet.”
this day this statement haunts me. Setting aside the question of
whether there should be a comma between “tomorrow” and
“yet”, or the deeper question of how the inclusion of ‘yet’ subtly changes the time vectors involved, there is the deep insight that this statement is
I wonder what list Gödel would put that one in? That thought
must, by definition, remain incomplete.
opinions about the meaning of “I” are somewhat confused, self-contradictory, and generally inexplciable, even to myself. Besides, it would take such a long time to discuss any of
them, all the while knowing that we would never arrive at any sort of useful conclusion, I think it best if we
just skip this one. Note: the shorter the word, the trickier it is.
This is a very short
one is far more complicated than it first appears to be. You could
say that it refers to the turning of the Earth on its axis. But we’re
talking years here, so it probably refers to one orbit of the Earth
around the Sun (another highly variable measure of time). But what
about the Solar System orbiting the center of our galaxy? Or our
galaxy orbiting within its galactic neighborhood, family, klan, or
super-klan? These things can only be contemplated with a sufficient
supply of beer, for some large definition of “sufficient.”
also the problem that ‘turn’, as with so many English words, has
multiple meanings. According to dictionary.com (picked at random from
googling) “turn” has no less than 65 meanings when used as a
verb, and another 35 when used as a noun. Looking back at my days in
computational linguistics, disambiguating a word like “turn”
requires an understanding of the context it is used in. But context
is difficult to determine when the 2 words preceeding it are both
deeply problematical, being fraught with colliding definitions and
multidimensional philosohical contratictions. Sigh. Let’s turn to our
When I was young(er), I thought “69” was a great number. It
referred to a sex act where a good time could simultaneously (at least
theoretically) be had by both partners. It was the last 2 digits of the
year that a) I was academically suspended from the University of Denver,
b) went to Woodstock (not that I remember much of it), c) was fired
from my job for returning several weeks late from Woodstock, and d)
discovered my number in the draft lottery was 27 and that the lottery
had occurred almost a month before I found out about it (Mom taught me it was important to read the newspaper every day, and, as usual, she was right). It was also the
year that Richard Nixon was sworn in for his first term as President
(ah, for the Good Old Days™ when we had honest crooks running
Being a computer geek, I also recognize that
“69” is a base-10-specific representation of an abstract
concept. I could also say “Tomorrow I turn 0105” (octal),
or 0x45 (hex). But that a) doesn’t add much to the conversation,
and b) still has the problematical “Tomorrow I turn” at the
beginning. I guess we’ll just have to accept it for what it is and
move on with our lives.
have another favorite quote that is semi-relevant here; this one from
my now-deceased mother. While she was telling me a story about some
old guy, I interrupted her to ask how old he was. She looked
flustered for a moment, and then unloaded this gem:
was old enough to be dead.
... Leave it to Mom to f*ck with my head.
we are left with today being yesterday’s tomorrow, and simultaneously
being tomorrow’s yesterday. I think I’m old enough to be dead, and
yet I’m not ... yet. But maybe I will be tomorrow. But ... but … It’s
not tomorrow yet!
/screed /68 /???