*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

Tim welcomes any input that you, the dear reader, might have. Comments are very much appreciated, especially if you have a dissenting opinion. If you'd like to learn more about Tim, you might want to see his facebook or google+.

Also: Tim is a very avid consumer of various sorts of music. You may be interested in his playlists!

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I can't pretend that Ithaca could be called a city, but the resemblances are budding if you look closely enough. At the State St. house, I was precisely halfway between collegetown and downtown, which are the focal points of most activity in the area. It's as busy as this town gets, which is quite dull. Still, it's a few steps away from suburban, and I was surprised at the quantity of adjustments I found necessary. It took me a while to sleep through sirens a few times a night (on weekends especially), or just the generally constant passing of traffic. Once I adjusted, though, it became like white noise not unlike the whine of cicadas. Not unpleasant, and perhaps even a welcome reminder that the world is still going on. It even made me feel a bit jealous on those days I was bedridden with disease, knowing that everyone else was doing their thing while I could not.

There was, however, a sense of aesthetic disconnection from nature. This feels strange to say given the sometimes awkward artificiality of suburban landscapes (even in Ithaca), but there is something to be said for the sheer quantity of greenery consuming the visual field. Roads, sidewalks, power lines, and buildings gradually become more densely packed while trees and bushes seem more at odds with their surroundings. The roof was a delightful escape from this offense; at somewhere between three and four stories tall, the house was just tall enough to see above the tree canopy. It was distant enough from the ground and obscured from the main road by trees, so it bestowed just enough privacy to feel at ease. It was also well above the street lights, allowing for a very wide view of the stars at night. It was a place of intense excellence.

Growing up, I didn't pay a lot of attention to nature - even in a place as overwhelmed with natural beauty as Ithaca. Boy Scouts provided the majority of my outdoor experiences, but I valued the hiking and camping more as a social activity than as an opportunity to experience genuinely natural environments. I biked a lot, but I was much more focused on my speedometer than on the landscape. I just didn't have any innate curiosity towards the natural world.  It lacked movement, meaning, and excitement.

Of course, it could also be argued that I didn't have any curiosity in the structure of the world - natural or human - as an adolescent. At fifteen, I remember arguing with my father about why in the world I would ever want to go on a family trip to Germany. I believe I actually uttered the phrase "Dad, castles are boring". Admittedly, this had far more to do with pissing off my dad than making any kind of value statement. Nevertheless, it demonstrates the priority that such forms of enrichment held for me. I saw nature in much the same way that I saw history: a quaint novelty, best left for eccentrics and enthusiasts.

Although I'd spent a lot of my childhood watching Animal Planet, I'd never really been exposed to anything but the most classless of nature documentaries (I love you, Steve Irwin, but I did not learn much from you). My brother was the first to introduce me to Planet Earth, which was probably the first time I began to see how the complex interactions of nature form something uniquely beautiful.  It left me excited in the same way that, previously, only philosophy seemed able to do. I had this sense of understanding just a little more about the elements of existence, and for the first time, evolution descended temporarily from the abstract.

At the State St. house, Matt and I watched and re-watched Planet Earth again and again. Every viewing seemed to reveal something new and exciting about the natural world, and we spent many hours discussing how the environments presented before us engendered the adaptations of the organisms in question marveling at the seemingly infinite complexity of nature. Just as we grew tired of Planet Earth, another David Attenborough masterpiece came out - Life - and we quickly devoured that, too. Side note: if you're a fan of Planet Earth or Life, I would strongly recommend checking out The Life of Birds and The Life of Mammals on Netflix. No one does nature better than David Attenborough.

As soon as winter began to fade, we were back outside.  As early as April, we were down at First Dam for a swim in some frighteningly balls-cold water. We spent many days and nights in the Wildflower Preserve, hunting for good vistas and discussing whatever features of the environment struck us as novel. For the first time, the environment became truly alive to me. Trees were no longer just the concrete of the forest, but a living organism existing on entirely different time-scale. Walls of slate were no longer just impressive for their size and dominance, but evidence of an ice age that saw glaciers slicing up the landscape. Even the deer, which I once saw only as a pest, came to represent something more - an absence of wolves, an abundance of resources, a challenge of urbanization. Evolution had leaped from theory to reality, and it was revealing significance and qualities worthy of fascination in even the most mundane aspects of the environment.

Which just so happened to coincide with my employment at a publishing office for ecological science.

posted by MC Froehlich at

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