I recently moved into a new place, temporarily, before heading out to grad school. Well actually I’m just crashing at this place, I haven’t technically moved in, but I have all my stuff, so… anyways I’m living with my old friend Max, and he has a new toy – a fancy espresso machine. A couple days ago he showed me how to “pull a shot,” and I was launched into the extreme world of espresso-shot-making. That afternoon we watched a few youtube videos (i.e.) and I started to understand the seriousness and depth of this world. With the sidebar full of related videos proclaiming to depict the perfect shot pulling technique or the perfect way to prepare and pack the grounds, we watched experts show the world how to use these shiny machines and how to pour steamed milk into a latte to make symmetric, slowly dissipating patterns.
I just now took a shower, and when I turned the nob and the water came pouring down, I looked into the tub (we have a shower-tub combo) and saw a spider frantically scrambling to avoid the sudden rushing torrent of water swirling towards the drain, as well as the thunderous downpour from above. This happens a lot. I often find spiders in the tub, sometimes even two or three of them at once. Sometimes, I admit, I squash them with a piece of toilet paper before I step into the shower. This time I was feeling more benevolent and I used the cup-and-paper trick to capture the now somewhat damp spider and throw it out into the yard. While I was doing so (and while I was showering) my mind wandered to the obvious question: why are there often spiders in the bathtub? In my foggy mind the train of thought became a conversation, which I’ll try to reproduce here, with the other character played, naturally, by my friend Benji who is about to start a PhD studying spiders (though he currently has no experience in that field).
Milo: So there are always spiders in my bathtub…
*** If this post / story seems completely odd, I would suggest picking up Douglas Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach – from which I steal this style and several characters. Hofstadter’s imaginative use of metaphor and analogy is an inspiration for this project. It’s an extremely fun (and I think very useful) way to think about scientific concepts. ***
Achilles and Ms. Tortoise have just finished their run, but, being fitness enthusiasts, they decide to follow up by climbing the nearby Mt. Fuji.
Achilles: A beautiful peak huh? Want to race to the top? I’ll give you a head start.
Tortoise: Ah, I think we’ve been through this already Achilles, let’s just walk.
Achilles: Of course, of course, I was only joking. Continue reading