atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#1137: More about my weirdness.

This evening I went for Chinese food--Thursday or Saturday is usually Der Tag around here for that--and as I assembled dinner I realized I'd need something to drink.

"Well," I told myself, "doofus, just open the fridge and grab a Pep-psi-i-oty."

A normal person: "WTF is 'Pep-psi-i-oty', you freaking weirdo?"

There was a movie released in 1980, a sci-fi movie about the government secretly keeping a UFO in a hangar in the desert somewhere: Hangar 18. It was actually a pretty good movie--surprisingly good, considering the budget and such. At the end of the movie the main characters are aboard the alien spacecraft and are looking at a database of some kind on the control panel. It keeps showing pictures of energy facilities and there's some question of why, with a strong hint of sinister intent. (At least it seemed to be so the last time I watched the movie. It's been more than a decade, though.)

Anyway, you can clearly hear an alien voice speaking an alien language while all this is going on, and one string of phonemes which is repeated several times sounds like "psi-eye-oty". At the time I made a joke about aliens looking for peyote (I was a teenager) but the phrase of simulated alien gibberish ended up sticking with me.

One of my equally weird friends would refer to Pepsi as "Pep-psi" at times. I think the rest of the story is pretty obvious, so I'll stop explaining it here.

* * *

There was this time when I was in college that I was working on a complex problem, and after several pages of intense calculation I came up with an answer which was impossibly wrong. So I wrote, "And then, his head exploded." underneath it.

For emphasis I drew a stick figure with an exploding head, with the sound effect sploot. Then I added another stick figure beside the first, recoiling in horror, pointing, and screaming, "IT'S ICKY!"

...then I went back and started again.

* * *

There is an ant running laps around the rim of my desk lamp.

Ants have pretty sophisticated navigation systems in them. I mean, when you consider that you've got more nervous tissue in your little toe--part of your little toe--than the ant has in its entire body, the fact that they manage such complex behaviors becomes a wonder to behold.

I was watching a butterfly the other day, and had that thought: the butterfly manages quite complex flight profiles, even to the point of being able to land on a surface smaller than it is which is moving erratically at an appreciable percentage of its airspeed, without crashing.

All that and they're pretty, too.

...and like ants, they've got bupkis for a central nervous system.

But back to the ant: it's made several trips around the circumference now, occasionally reversing direction. And finally it hit me: the ant is stuck. It doesn't know how to get home.

It climbed 'way out on the arm of the desk lamp--it's an "architect"-style lamp, with springs--and found nothing of interest...but the path it took either evaporated or got written over while it was looking. I would assume that an ant can abandon the scent trail it creates if it twigs to the fact that the trail is faulty, but in this case the backup navigational behaviors end up dooming it. It picks a ridge to walk on: it goes in circles. It changes direction: it goes in circles. It wanders back and forth across the ridge: it goes in circles. It periodically stops and cleans its feet and antennae in order to ensure good tracking. The heat of the light bulb keeps it from going up the "funnel" but it's not smart enough to go around the outside for some reason. Regardless of what it does, it's stuck.

The ant's navigational system is robust enough that this sort of event is rare. You don't often see an ant get stuck due to its own programming; usually it gets stuck because of predators, liquid hazards, slick and sheer surfaces, and the like. Usually, unless there is something actively keeping the ant there, it can get out.

But now it's gone. Maybe it got tired and fell off.

* * *

Yep. It was crawling around on the desk. I just crushed it with a napkin.

* * *

Every year Mom takes a spray bottle, fills it with a dilute solution of Dawn dish detergent (the blue kind) and sprays around the perimeter of the house, right where the foundation meets the soil. This is a surprisingly effective deterrent against ants. I don't know why it works, but it does.

Still, this year we have more than usual. I want to call an exterminator.

Most bugs I find disgusting, but not ants; ants are really interesting to me for some reason. (Ants in particular and hive insects in general.) But it doesn't mean I want them in my house.

* * *

So in the Philippines, where I saw cockroaches that were as big as a mouse and could fly, I also saw the smallest ants I'd ever seen. I mean, tiny, smaller than the smallest ants I've ever seen in America.

Thinking about it, I realized I don't want there to be ants that are the size of mice, anyway. That would suck.

* * *

The latest fuel economy figure from the Escort: 34.2 MPG. No surprise there; that's consistent with all my other results with that car.

You know, I've never seen much variation in any car I've owned, now that I think of it. My 1974 VW 412 got 27 MPG regardless of how or where I drove it. The green Escort got 36, and the only time it didn't get 36 was when I was driving it on the hottest day of the summer, with a full load, with the AC on--in an extreme circumstance, in other words. Otherwise? 36.

The Jeep gets 18 regardless of how I drive it. Same for the Fiero. Go easy, go fast, 18 MPG. Long trip, short trip, lots of stops, no stops--18 MPG. Period.

* * *

Work on Wednesday was harder than usual. Backstock, Warehouse, Receiving...but I was told at four freaking AM that I was doing Receiving and not going back to the Warehouse. Argh. I moved the old throttle lever into "flank speed" and got it done, though. The boss asked me to move as many pallets from Receiving to the back room as I could, and when all was said and done I had created 12 empty spaces. I stayed an extra half-hour to get the Receiving backstock taken care of, and then went home at 6:30 AM.

I was home at 7. It normally takes about 40, 45 minutes, but Thursday morning it took 30.

And I hurt. O Lord. Thursday morning, after getting home and getting a shower and eating something, and sitting at the computer to do the usual bloggerating, when I got up--I could hardly freaking walk my feet hurt so badly. And I've gotten a couple of good naps in but I'm still half-dozing as I write this.

So, to heck with it; I'm going back to bed.
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