Wednesday, May 23, 2012

g. Force

I started this blog about five years ago, figuring my move to Europe would inspire some good writing. It did, amidst a fair amount of drek, but evidently not enough to drive you away. So I'll try again.

BZA Flaneur has been quiet recently, due largely to my move back to the US. Over the last couple weeks, I was on a workshop tour with g.tec, and visited Georgia Tech in Atlanta, ETSU in Johnson City (East Tennessee), Duke in Raleigh, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, and Uni Cincinnati. I forgot how much of my home country was worth visiting, especially after five years away.

Saw some old friends in Atlanta, which was characteristically humid enough to quell any regret for being away since 2005. I did get to introduce sweet tea (the table wine of the South) to Christoph Guger. His facial expression was priceless, and quite different from giving Europeans pop rocks. Our workshop was in the J S Coon Psychology Building, so I had to explain to him why this is an ironic name in Atlanta. He waited until I was off guard and then asked "What does coon mean?" rather loudly in a crowded hotel. Crowded with people who might well have been offended, and not vicariously. I said before that Germanspeakers do have a sense of humor. Somewhere.

I avenged myself by teaching him two driving maneuvers: the California stop and California sweep. The former is a term I didn't just make up to fuck with him, so you can find it online. The latter refers to lane changing from the leftmost lane, through ongoing traffic, to make an exit on the right. He innovated the Austrian sweep, which is doing so and then heading back to the far left. Yeah. Germanspeaker humor.

We had an extra day in Tennessee, which Christoph decided would be best spent waking up at 5.30 and hiking with some of our BCI buddies. I dubbed him "Crazy Christoph" for his general penchant for doing everything in a more extreme way with less sleep. Somehow, though quiet and seemingly demure, Dr. Guger forced us all to join him through pure g.force of will. We made it to the top of Mt. Mitchell, which they claim is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. I am suspicious, because I think Austria has higher mountains, let alone the Himalayas.

Duke was a whirlwind; we arrived after midnight (having hiked all day, then driven from TN) and then immediately went to Norfolk. There, we had an extra day for some hiking and hanging at the beach, where I thoroughly mocked the waves, though less than they deserved. Did see a new kind of lizard.

We then drove to Cincinnati, stopping for a half day to go kayaking on the James River. Yes, I am wet. Yes, the river does seem quite calm. Yes, it is a beginner kayak. Yes, I did capsize. But I did it on purpose. Just to fuck with Crazy Christoph. It did give me a sudden advantage in our ongoing paddle-splashing fight. The safety video told us to avoid horseplay, and being mature PhD professionals in our 30s, we didn't. I am still worried he's going to sneak attack me somehow. Germanspeaker humor. And sneak attacks. Dangerous combo.

And, finally, the workshop in Cincinnati, where a photographer got me in action leading the hands-on workshop where people with no training or experience all spelled perfectly with their brainwaves:

Now I am in San Jose, ostensibly to relax, but in fact am stealthily trying to apply my BCI-workshop-leading skills to help a patient. More on that later.

The flight to Cincinnati was long, and covered a lot of America. It is still great, perhaps all the more poignant after five years. (Not Cincinnati.) The Great Plains and then the Grand Canyon yawned beneath, on and on, for almost an hour of flight time, surrounded by mostly unexploited natural beauty. Enjoy it while you can, for more people, improved fracking, or at least faster planes are inevitable.

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