“Some people feel that 99 percent of the show is accurate, and that the 1 percent that isn’t is that you could never get an education bill passed that quickly.”—"House of Cards" actor Kevin Spacey on the similarities between the political drama and real-life politics in Washington. (via kileyrae)
Okay, okay, okay, okay, guys. Scientists at the National Ignition Facility have taken the first itty bitty baby steps towards fusion and I’m having trouble containing my excitement.
First of all, they’re using 192 laser beams, which are pointed at a gold chamber that converts the lasers into X-ray pulses, which then squeeze a small fuel pellet and make it implode and undergo fusion. That anyone ever figured out even how to do this is completely nutso.
Secondly, the lead researcher is named Omar Hurricane. I have never in my life heard a better name. He sounds like a comic book character. Please someone write a comic starring Omar Hurricane and his band of laser-wielding scientists.
And then there’s what it actually means. So far, they’ve been able to get 15 kilojoules of energy out of a fuel pellet that was blasted with 10 kilojoules. But, as The Guardian points out, much more energy is delivered by the lasers (and lost in the conversion to X-rays): “The lasers unleash nearly two megajoules of energy on their target, the equivalent, roughly, of two standard sticks of dynamite.”
Even so, this is a hugely significant tiny step forward toward recreating the clean energy production that happens in the heart of stars.
1: Look at Instagram, twitter, and things like that, far too often. 2: Start a tumblr to reblog images of all the things you want to do with your life. 3: Stay indoors. 4: Lie on your bed, a lot. 5: Cancel on your friends when they ask to see you. 6: Listen to your…
“If we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today. If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor. If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn’t contaminate it.”—Mark Boyle (via awelltraveledwoman)
“Relax. You will become an adult. You will figure out your career. You will find someone who loves you. You have a whole lifetime; time takes time. The only way to fail at life is to abstain.”—Johanna de Silentio (via citys-imple)
“We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.”—Piotr Czerski (via elizabitchtaylor)
This is the first time since I’ve moved to New York that I’m actually being deliberate.
It’s a sentence that doesn’t say much without the right context, but to me, it’s everything. About a year ago, when I was entering the final semester of my undergraduate career at Wesleyan, I could not have felt any more differently about life in this city as I do now. It’s like that scene from 500 Days of Summer, where Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character has to deal with the punishing contrast between the expectations he had of Summer’s get-together and the reality he encountered.
Expectation: I would move to New York, an ambitious, hot-shot young investment banker willing to trade everything for the relentless pursuit of fame and fortune. To hell with the Willy Lomans in my life. I was to make something of myself, and I would legitimate this by moving to the city that has no problem with chewing up and spitting out the denizens incapable of keeping up with the pace. I would feed off of the city, not as a parasite but a symbiotic organism using it to propel myself to the American Dream.
Reality: Move-in day is one of the hottest of the Summer. I’m in a U-Haul with my parents moving the few things I’m taking to the city with me and making small talk about my (in retrospect dripping with hubris) goals. As the Connecticut radio stations turn to static I feel specifically underwhelmed with – and mostly nervous about – the entire thing. Fear sets in. I move in and begin my job a few weeks later, whereupon sitting down at the cube that is to be more of a home than my Upper East Side apartment, I realize that there are no throngs of people ready to applaud my ambition and my dreams. My neighborhood is quiet and there aren’t many people my age; the “local coffee shop” is a Starbucks and most people look at me quizzically when I speak of this “Brooklyn” place that’s home to most of my Wesleyan friends. Work consumes my life. 75 hours a week are the bare minimum in my group at the bank, and though I’ve got a job in an industry the media seems to love, I begin questioning if I feel the same. I wonder if there could be any possible connection between the Wesleyan I loved, and the New York I’m supposed to.
People that say this city is the fastest in the world have never experienced Brooklyn on a Saturday afternoon. Problem is, my life in Manhattan feels constantly like a Midtown Monday morning (which it actually is, all too frequently). It sinks deep into my subconscious, that speed. Anxiety began festering and growing inside; before I knew it, I was an entirely different person as a result. Working this job in this city constantly has me in that fight-or-flight state that heightens the pulse and restricts the mind. I’m constantly in survival mode. Sure, that might not be normal, but it is what has happened to me. As a result, I’ve entered this sort of mechanistic way of going about life. Do what I’m told at work, do what I think makes me happy otherwise. Focus only on the outcome and screw the process. Focus on the clock and don’t get into the work. Deadlines! Accomplish, checklist, to-do. Next thing. Head above water! Tick, tock, tick, tock.
In the little time I have to myself, I make sure to get out and see what the city has – happy hours, walks in Central Park, craft beers and jazz in the village and enough Met stickers to feasibly convince someone I took interest in going. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? At least that’s what I see people in the movies do, when they yell triumphantly from some rooftop, mojito in hand, that they “love New York.” But every time I check another box off of the list, it’s immediately followed by a sense of “Okay, did that. Now what?” And truth be told, it’s how I feel about New York in general.
When you move here, no one tells you what to do. Or more importantly, how to meet people. How to deal with the incessant smell of garbage, the crushing eternal winters, the never-comfortable subway commutes. Most importantly, though, no one tells you how to cope with all of the time alone. I mean, sure, it’s relaxing to spend weekends watching Netflix, but no one warns you about the FOMO that tends to crush you when you finally don’t hit “Next Episode” at 1:48 in the morning. “What you’re supposed to do if you don’t feel like drinking” is a list I’d love to see. How to cope with bosses that are unhappy and take it out on you. That feel that comes with knowing you’re getting gouged on that martini. Or when you wake up to a Blackberry with 18 unread emails. Being, for the first time, a microscopic fish in what feels like life’s biggest pond.
There’s just so much that this City (and probably real life outside, but who knows – I haven’t tried that yet) throws at you. And my coping strategy, absent a general guide to all of that, has been to consume. This place is definitely a consumer’s dream. Eat out more, read more news, watch more YouTube. Inundate myself with evidence that there are people living that life I originally expected when I was a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Goes something like this: Watch Elon Musk speeches. Interviews with Marc Andreessen and Aaron Levie. What’s going on with Seth Klarman and why is he returning capital? Oh, wow, an interview with David Rubenstein! Why am I frustrated that I’m watching and reading all of this and yet my life is exactly the same as it was before? Feel like a better person for knowing some more about a world I’m not important enough to make a dent in, and then feel worse, overcome with insignificance. Spend more time alone crushed by said feelings.
Tick, tock, tick, tock. Tick…
Today’s the first time I’m going to make a change. Today is the first time I’m being deliberate.
I too often focused on the outcomes here and never the process. Moving to New York to try and strike it rich isn’t an overnight thing – and I know that – but the myopic pursuit of such a shallow goal is not too satisfying day to day. I have a habit of forgetting all of the means for the ends, in a city that seems to focus on the ends. Sue me. But for those like me, for whom the ends are quite far away and impatience sets in early, it’s hard to stay motivated. It’s hard to find meaning. It’s hard to be happy. It’s hard to be. When I was younger and made websites for fun, I didn’t care about the fact that no one would see them but me. Today I’m way more focused on who’s going to advocate for me six months from now when my analyst class is being ranked on performance. I’m living in fear of that moment, six months from now. Just that specific end result.
I’m changing today.
I walked to my “local coffee shop” and after finally finding a table, opened my laptop and wrote. I didn’t have a final end in mind whatsoever. As I began to flex my fingers across the keys, I took notice of how great it was to be able to take the time to sit back and plan out the next sentence. And if the thought made sense, great! Though the thing I was writing didn’t even have a shape, the small successes along the way inspired me to keep going. I relaxed and let the ideas come. I mulled them over and didn’t look at the clock in the top right of the screen. That clock be damned. Today I don’t have bosses to suck up to. Today I don’t have a goal so far off that I forget why I even got started. I had control over what appeared on the page. Me, a lowly first-year analyst! The end was to enjoy the means, and that’s it.
Which, it turns out, is exactly what you’re supposed to do to love New York. That’s what they don’t tell you. To love the city that makes your pulse race, you’ve got to remember to slow down. To really exhale and feel the way your fingers expand and contract. To loosen the muscles in your face. To forget about the fact that you spend way too much time alone watching Netflix. To not dwell on your bosses or that comment from Thursday (which, by the way, you misconstrued. She didn’t mean it. Calm down.)
Like most people who live here, achievements and feeling as though I’m moving up some ladder are what motivates me. But when the time between steps gets long, it’s hard to keep climbing. I’ve got to find new intermediate steps, or a new way to think about steps in general. Or, frankly, to maybe one day realize that climbing isn’t right for me. But that self-consciousness, that sense of control that comes with realizing you have way more influence on the means than the ends, is the lesson that New York is teaching me. Because to not learn it would be to become Willy Loman myself.
Consuming everything to escape the self-reflection necessary to overcome these challenges only delays the problem. It is not a solution. Watching videos of Aaron Levie won’t make me an enterprise software CEO. Watching another episode of Million Dollar Listing New York won’t make me a real estate mogul. Today I’ll stop wrestling with the fact that my New York isn’t the one I see in the movies. Nothing immediate will make me a bigger fish in this pond. But changing how big the pond seems – and realizing that perspective is completely under my control when so much here is not – is what I’ve been missing all along.