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Eric: Reprint of my 2006 Livejournal Down The Rabbit Hole Meme Thing. Stuff. Thing.

I'm not precisely sure when my desk was moved outside. Or perhaps it's that the insides of things are now outside, and the outsides of things are now inside. I do know that I've been watching students wander into an enclosed building to "get some fresh air," while the offices and the like now rest inside of snowdrifts and parking lots.

I can't see that it's made much difference. Though I worry about the racks of servers should we get snow.

The lake gleamed with snow and ice, newly refrozen and resnowed-upon after last week's complete melting and rainstorm, and I sat at my desk, still covered with junk, though of course as it was outside the piles of paper kept blowing off. The sunlamp I have -- a present for all of us without windows, normally -- seems to have been replaced with a fluorescent model that does nothing but buzz annoyingly and make me more pallid.

Otherwise, the network is wireless so my daily work is unimpeded. I am glad Wednesday bought me a USB coffee warmer pad, though. It plugs into my USB hub and provides a warm spot to put my coffee mug down. Other folks are drinking their coffee hurriedly, lest it be chilled down within minutes.

Twenty-seven degrees. With a wind.

"Hey, Eric," one of the faculty members says. He's cheerful -- tall, almost lanky. One of the perkier history teachers. He sits across from me, the office chair he sits in crunching down into the snow crust. He's in full parka. "Looks like we're finally getting some winter, huh?"

"Looks like," I said, trying to figure how to end the conversation. And how to keep typing with gloves on. I'm glad I finally bought gloves, I thought.

He leaned closer, conspiratorially. Wind blew across his face, causing ice crystals to form in his mustache. "I wouldn't want to be outside on a day like today."

I looked nonplussed. "Outside?" I asked.

"Oh yeah," he said, pointing to the Quonset hut the kids had piled into.

"You realize that's a building."

"Oh yes."

I shook my head. I'd read Douglas Adams too. "So that's the inside of the asylum?"

He blinked, looking blank. "Asylum?"

"Never mind. The inside of that building--"

"No no no. The outside of that building."

"The outside of that building is contained within its corrugated steel?"

"I'm not sure it's steel. But yes."

I took a deep breath. "All right. Why?"

He grinned, triumphantly. "Climate control!"

I stared.

He continued grinning.

I stared some more.

He continued grinning.

"Climate control?"

"Well, yes. Right now, there are days that are too hot to do anything fun in the summer, and too cold to do anything in the winter. Or there's rain or sleet or wind or what have you. That's terribly inefficient."


"Oh yes. Now, here's the thing. We're a school. We have a very specific schedule we have to follow. If we have ski team practice, we can't have it suddenly rain and melt all the snow, can we? The ski team has to practice."

"So... you have a building you send them into--"

"Out to."

"--out to, instead?"

"Of course! Now, everything is precisely regulated. We know exactly what kind of outdoor weather to expect. We can plan accordingly."

"So... why do we have to sit outside--"


"--inside in the snow and wind?"

He chuckled, rather like he was talking to a moron. "Look, we can't very well contain outside without there being a state change from 'inside.' It's absolutely necessary that in order to have an outside, there has to be a boundary that's crossed. That's essential."

"So... in order to contain outside, you have to release inside into the wild?"

"Of course."

I rubbed the bridge of my nose, and sipped my coffee. The USB warming plate had kept it tepid, though the wind had picked up so there was just so much it could do. "But don't we lose efficiency? I mean, if it starts to rain or snow--"

He looked puzzled. "It can't rain or snow inside. That's silly."

I blinked. "What do you call this stuff we're sitting in?"


"Under the chairs?"

"Oh. Well, the A/C is on a bit high at the moment."

"And if... oh, water starts falling from the sky?"

"Pipe leak, clearly."

"Clearly," I said, dryly.

Suddenly, there were shrieks of buzzers and bells, mounted on light poles and the like throughout campus. People in their outdoor cubicles and arranged classroom desks got up, shivering still, and began filing towards the 'Outside' hut.

"What the--"

"Fire drill. Come on. We need to go outside."

I sighed, and took a few moments to pack my laptop out. I wouldn't want to leave it inside. It looks like the pipes might burst a little later.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at January 27, 2006 12:36 PM


Comment from: Tyck posted at January 27, 2006 12:54 PM

How very paranatural! Or was it supernormal? Anyway, there's my shot of cheerful confusion for the day. Thanks, Mr. Burns.

Comment from: larksilver posted at January 27, 2006 1:17 PM

Oh, we're all mad here, dear.

Comment from: otter posted at January 27, 2006 1:20 PM

But Eric, how do you type with gloves on?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at January 27, 2006 1:41 PM

Oh, I think paranatural is just the right word for the situation.

Of course, it's all quite logical. Think of how often it is more comfortable when you are at the exterior of a building than the interior. The inside of a building is meant to protect you from the elements. Since the exterior obviously does a better job of it, it must be the inside. And by inverse, the interior must be outside.

One reason why I've always preferred nonsense over sense is that nonsense is remarkably consistent, while sense never is.

Comment from: okaynowa posted at January 27, 2006 2:08 PM

Larksilver, the question should be, "How do you type with BOXING gloves on."

Comment from: okaynowa posted at January 27, 2006 2:10 PM

Er, Otter, I meant.

Comment from: Meagen Image posted at January 27, 2006 2:15 PM

How very paranatural! Or was it supernormal?


Man, if the world was like that, I could be a hardcore survivalist type who spends weeks eating, sleeping, *living* outdoors. That would be *so* awesome.

Comment from: hitch posted at January 27, 2006 2:53 PM

speaking of relevant quotes:

Guildenstern: I think I have it. A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.
Rosencrantz: Or just as mad.
Guildenstern: Or just as mad.
Rosencrantz: And he does both.
Guildenstern: So there you are.
Rosencrantz: Stark raving sane.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at January 27, 2006 4:13 PM

Gah! Homestar reference already made!

Hm. Maybe antinatural? Is there such a word? According to Google there is, but only in Spanish, corresponding to 'unnatural'.

I love nonsense. It has the 'advantage' of being defined by a human mind, which means that other human minds can comprehend the rules behind it. No matter what your beliefs on the nature of reality are, we're still trying to make sense of the world and there's no light at the end of the tunnel, so cheerful nonsense and magic are rather comforting notions. (So uh, basically what 32 said.)

Comment from: Ford Dent posted at January 27, 2006 7:29 PM

Man, I'm so glad you posted this here otherwise I would've totally forgot it was Carroll's birthday and that would've been all sorts of unfortunate.

Now, however, I've observed the holiday as is my custom.

Comment from: El Zoof posted at January 28, 2006 1:25 AM

Hold stick near center of its length.
Moisten pointed end in mouth.
Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum.
Use gentle in-and-out motion.

Comment from: MarvinAndroid posted at January 28, 2006 2:05 AM

Something about the timing in that reminds me of this line:

"Eddies in the space-time continuum!"
"Ah, and that's his couch, is it?"

Although it's really more reminicsent of Catch-22 than anything else.

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