Posted by: David | August 28, 2007

In the morning is contained …

… the essence of the day. Ancient Chinese saying heard on ancient PBS documentary many many moons ago.

So on a mid-August Thursday morning, 5:10 a.m. and I’m pedalling to nowhere on my Reebok Studio Cycle 9600 and watching a not-too-old PBS documentary about Emperor penguins who are threatened by Giant Iceberg Number 15 or something. I watched (aerobically) pretty much the whole saga, and how the giant iceberg collided with the penguins’ ancestral habitat and destroyed it.  Where before the penguin daddies had some nice, flat ice to stand around on with their chicks for the 6 weeks of sub-zero Antarctic winter darkness waiting for the females to get back from fattening up on phytoplankton and caviar, things were not so great now cause of that frikkin global warming. A giant iceberg smashed into their ice nesting field and turned it into chaos. Images of frozen penguin carcasses and doomed penguins trapped in ice ravines created by the collision. So sad.

And that’s how the day at work turned out too. The long, Antarctic day at work. Work is usually a pleasure for me, and will be again soon. I hope. I’m not going to blog about work.

Turkeys in my driveway. Late August morning.



  1. Are turkeys wild where you live? Are you allowed to shoot them? But do you buy the one you need for that thanksgiving dinner?

    In the preceding blog post you said “I hear music almost all the time in my head.”
    Is that true?

    I’d really like to know, because for years I have been trying to find out what goes on in people’s heads when they do not think. I am a born thinker, but I am pretty sure that thinking does not take up more than 5% of my time. I also know that my brain (not I myself) spends lots and lots of time repeating and reproducing things I have heard or read, but it is so automatic that normally I would not be able to say what is being reproduced at any given moment. The whole process is dim, like in a dream. It is basically useless and very rarely bothersome.

    Sometimes it does produce a tune or it plays with a tune, but there is no music ever.

    Yes, the wild turkey population has grown in the past decade or two. I see them in or at the side of the road on my 12-mile (19.3 km) commute to work at least every other week. Yesterday, as a matter of fact, I saw a whole family crossing the road. Two adults and about 10 fluffy youngsters maybe a couple months old. As I came to the group, the second adult was flying across the road after the last chick had almost arrived to the other side. Good parents these wild turkeys.

    People do hunt these birds, and they’re said to be fairly good to eat, but they’re nothing like the obese, force-fed birds one buys for Thanksgiving. We pay triple to get a turkey raised organically on a nearby farm. There are lots of farms in New Hampshire and Vermont that raise turkeys just for this market.

    And yes, I really do have music in my head nearly all the waking day when I’m not engaged in something requiring close focus, such as solving a troubleshooting problem at work. I guess this “background music” sort of fills the transitions from one scene to the next. It also plays when I’m doing something enjoyable that doesn’t require concentration, e.g. bicycling, walking, weeding the garden, etc.

    I listen to a lot of music, and consider it to be an important part of my life.

    It’s almost always music that I know and like, but occasionally some tune will become a perseverative loop. This happened a few months back. I had Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings stuck in my head for nearly 3 days. I do like that piece, but it was really stuck and started to get annoying after the 3rd day.

  2. How strange.

    Sometimes, a melody gets stuck in my head, too, and it is mostly a melody that I dislike. The worst one is Lily Marlene, but there are others, not as famous, that turn into a curse. Some years ago it was something about the River Kwai, and downstairs they had a parrot that whistled it.

    Quite often I read Speer’s Spandau diaries, and there was one of the seven prisoners that whistled Lily Marlene over and over again. It could be heard from one cell to the next, and nothing could be done about it. — The prison was very large and empty.

    And do you sing to yourself, for instance when you shave or when you ride your static bike?

    You might be surprised how many people complain about unwanted songs getting stuck in their heads. That music from the movie Bridge on the River Kwai is a perfect example. It was a whistling chorus in the film, so naturally a parrot would take to it. It also got adapted into commercial jingles.

    I hardly ever sing or hum, but I do whistle quite often. Usually when moving from place to place at work. There is one stairwell in my building that has a wonderful echo.

  3. Whistling can be turned into an art. There was once a movie, a cowboy movie where the whistling was accompanied by the sound of a galopping horse. It was USA at its best.

    I myself whistle every day. Sometimes the music playing in my head, sometimes tuneless fluff. Never accompanied by galloping sounds. But really?! USA at its best?

  4. Do you really have to get up at 5 a.m.? There are people who can live on 6 hours of sleep. Are you one of those?

    Yes, that’s my weekday routine. Get up at 5, nuke the oatmeal for 3 minutes, cover and let stand while I either do calisthenics (M, W, F) or go back to bed until 6:30-ish. By then the oatmeal has cooled to room temperature.

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