The Brooklyn Bridge wasn’t made to handle thousands of pedestrians…. you’d think that the weight wouldn’t be that much different than the weight of a whole bunch of cars, but apparently the vibrations caused by people stepping randomly and shifting their weight are very different from the vibrations of motor vehicles. So during the recent blackout, the bridge started swaying and groaning during the mass exodus. Comforting.

Also blackout-related: How New York City Papers Published in the Dark.

“Civilization will go on whether you attend the block party or not. It will, whether you say hello and talk to anyone today or not. Whether you get married today or ever or have kids or not. Its momentum is strong. It will go on. Your participation is now optional.” — Anneli Rufus, on loners

My parents will arrive in approximately 1.5 hours. They will then take me to Willamsburg, VA where I will be held for three days in a condominium. I will be returned to my apartment on Tuesday, August 19. Hopefully alive.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do more than two stops.” — woman who fled the elevator for the stairs this morning, after I pressed a button for the 9th floor

(I then made a sad face at the woman’s friend, who had remained in the elevator. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It’s just that she’s gotten stuck in here before. At least she’s getting lots of exercise.”)

“Kurt Vonnegut referred to it as the karass: people who seem to follow you your whole life. It explains why you see Janice at the coffee shop all the time and then again during your vacation in Cancun. It explains why Larry, who grew up across the street from you, married your best friend from graduate school, without being introduced by you.” — Allison Amend, mediabistro

I swear there is one girl who:
a) Lived in the dorm next to mine for freshman and sophomore year.
b) Studied abroad with me junior year.
c) Lived down the street from me senior year.
d) Was at my AmeriCorps orientation the year after that.

Yet we never had any desire to become friends. Who’s in your karass?

The most aggressive people, both on the road and in the office, may be those who commute in heavy traffic and play no music or listen to relaxation tapes, the type with synthesized sounds or bird songs.

‘This music seems to drive some people crazy,’ says psychologist David Wiesenthal of York University in Toronto. USA Today

Had two long conversations recently with two separate friends about the fact that socializing with random people is great and all, but it can be pretty tiring. Coincidentally, I ran across this Atlantic Monthly article today: Caring For Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch…. “Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?” Yeah. Yup. Yeah.

Good reading (from the New Yorker, Nov. 2000) that also caused a bit of controversy after it was published….

My Fake Job: Day 11, Noon: When I get back from lunch, there is a meeting of at least thirty staff members in the big conference room. Why am I not part of the company’s knowledge-management system?

I work the resentment out through my work: an afternoon spent devising ways to deceive the increasingly menacing Red-Haired Lady. First, I open up a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet document on my computer. I’ve never used a spreadsheet before, but I have no problem filling it in with random numbers. Whenever I see the Red-Haired Lady’s reflection in the window, I click from my word-processor file to the spreadsheet file, drumming my fingers distractedly on the mouse. My only concern is that she’ll think I’m auditing her expense reports and go on the warpath.

I also draw a meaningless flowchart, labelled ‘Starwood Project,’ on a legal pad, and leave it out on my desk to give me management credibility. I invent some acronyms, box them, and connect them with arrows. Then I write ‘August 2001’ in big letters underneath, and underline it three times. This lets her know that I am very much on schedule, whatever it is that I am doing.

One of my friends came into work this morning complaining that all her friends went out to a bar last night and ended up running into Ben Savage and hanging out with him. Then Maria commented that her brother ran into a drunken Ben Savage at a party during college and made Ben scream his (the brother’s) name three times at the top of his lungs. What is this with Ben Savage? After reading about how one of Patrick’s friends hung out with him recently (see July 22 post), you gotta wonder what Ben Savage does all day.