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  • 11 References 9 Confirmed & Positive
  • Fluent in English
  • 37, Male
  • Member since 2010
  • Grand Canyon trail guide
  • Reed college, BA, chemistry.
  • From Iowa City, IA
  • Profile 100% complete

About Me


Three squares a day and a shiny red BMX bike.


I want to be psyched up.

Maybe the most psyched up I've ever been was when I was watching a remedial math program about fractions produced by Mississippi Public Television. It was set in an adult education class that was, aesthetically speaking, entirely consistent with the program's 1985 copyright date. A man in a Bon Jovi t-shirt was talking about cutting a length of pipe into shorter, identically sized segments, which led to an obvious math problem. How many small segments could you cut from the initial stock?

Of course, a portion of the pipe is going to be reduced to metal shavings when you cut it. Would the student's story problem account for this crucial detail, or had the educational consultants who scripted the program decide to gloss over it?

The story unspooled slowly, avoiding the issue of the pipe shavings. I was literally on the edge of my seat. (I was also unemployed, recently dumped, and watching a lot of daytime television.) And then, boom! Dwayne -- that was the character's name -- mentioned the "cut waste." Clearly the writers weren't afraid to pepper this fantastic program with a little technical jargon.

But better than the attention to detail and dialect was the moral of the story: Locked away in his ivory tower, the pointy-headed, soft-handed professor had overlooked a detail as familiar to Dwayne as the screen-printed logo on his shirt. All the professor's math skills would never help him navigate the world as long as he remained ignorant of its ways. Wow! I got so excited that I jumped up and down, pumping my fists in the air and trying to read Dwayne's T-shirt aloud, shouting "Bon Jon Jovi! Bon Jon Jovi!"

This is a true story.

Maybe it wasn't the most psyched up that I've ever been, but it was unique. It's an intensity of feeling that always seems just out of reach whenever I consciously grasp for it. Sometimes I want to feel that psyched up all the time. I want to try to stop wanting that, because that intense feeling only seems to arise when you're fully immersed in the means of something and forget your own ends. Sometimes I worry that even having that desire precludes other kinds of rewarding feelings that are just as intense, but which are totally orthogonal to being psyched up and are much more difficult to get at.

So this probably sounds a little weird following an anecdote about a remedial math program on daytime television, but I want to know as much as I can about whatever I can learn. I value not just depth but also breadth of knowledge, and above that the ability to use that knowledge to discern or create meaning in the world. Call that skill wisdom if you want, but I'm a long way off from any real competence there. When I talk to other people, I don't really care for small talk. The weather isn't that important to me. I'd rather hear others' perspectives on how they discern/create their own meaning in the world. It's important to me. I want to figure out what makes me tick, and what motivates other people.

People use the word intense to describe me. Sometimes I think that's a polite euphemism for a set of less endearing qualities.

Finally: Dogs. I love dogs. I have two, and am at the vanguard of this post-baby-boom trend of first-worlders treating pets like children. Which isn't to say that I buy a lot of pointless crap from Petsmart, just that my dogs are spoiled rotten with love, affection, table scraps, and walks.


I have a practical philosophy and a nerd philosophy. The nerd philosophy comes from an essay by David Foster Wallace on why Kafka is funny:

"The horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle ... Our endless and impossible journey home is in fact our home."

My practical philosophy distills down to something much more straightforward: Don't use people, and don't be an asshole.

That pretty well captures a lot of what I believe.

Why I’m on Couchsurfing


I am relatively new to CouchSurfing, but I once spent an entire summer sleeping on a couch on my front porch after I accidentally sublet my room. Surely that must count for something. I've hosted several times and met a few people locally; nothing but positive experiences.


Cars; politics; science; philosophy; the awesome power of the natural world, including matters zoological, geological, meteorological, and astronomical/cosmological; also, things I find on the ground.

  • pets
  • dogs
  • insects
  • causes
  • education
  • flying
  • politics
  • cars
  • cycling
  • baseball
  • teaching
  • mathematics
  • physics
  • science

Music, Movies, and Books

Books: I am on a Denis Johnson kick right now. Damn near all kinds of music. I have 453 movies in my Netflix queue, which kind of suggests that I like movies more than I like finding the time to watch them.

One Amazing Thing I’ve Done

With the help of an outgoing team mascot willing to bend the rules, I once spent the night in housing facility full of Japanese baseball players.

Teach, Learn, Share

Flies and moths use the Coriolis effect to navigate in flight -- it allows their antennae function as vibrational gyroscopes. They exploit a general version of the effect, not its commonly understood manifestation vis-a-vis the rotation of the earth. But still: The same physics that causes toilets to swirl backwards in the southern hemisphere also allows certain flying insects to navigate! How cool is that?

Countries I’ve Visited

Chile, Malaysia, Taiwan

Countries I’ve Lived In

United States

Old School Badges

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