a PAW web exclusive column
by Hugh O'Bleary
all that I can be!
I'm trying, I'm trying, but in Princeton, it's
Sometimes, while riding
the train, I begin to think that I'm not making the most of my time
(it usually happens just after I finish the Jumbo Word Search).
I can't help feeling, as I ride back and forth day after day, that
I'm not "being all I can be." Maybe it's time for a dose
of self-improvement. I read somewhere, I forget where (or maybe
it was on TV), that we only use 30% of our brains. Well, I resolve
to use a lot more, starting now, and also to be more creative.
Hey, re-reading what
I just wrote, I had an idea for a funny greeting card: a picture
of a bumble bee looking in the mirror under the words "Bee
all you can bee!" Ha ha! (That's creative.)
By the way, on the platform
at the Junction I saw Freeman Dyson, the retired professor from
the Institute for Advanced Study. He was just standing there looking
really spacey. I wonder if he ever thinks up greeting cards?
21 July 2000
The life of the mind
is sure invigorating! To bolster my intellectual capacity, I have
put aside my beloved word searches in favor of something more rigorous...mathematics!
I have been making "math mazes" for my daughter, who's
in the fourth grade. I make up tough addition and subtraction problems
that she has to solve to find her way through a jungle maze. Sometimes
it takes me a whole train trip to New York to get all the equations
to work out just right.
24 July 2000
We were at the pool yesterday
and I realized that the pale, blond-haired man playing in the shallow
end with his little girl was Andrew Wiles - the Princeton mathematician
who solved that Fermat's Last Theorem thingie a few years ago. I
jumped in and tried to talk to him about math mazes, but he looked
pretty confused. He called the lifeguard.
30 August 2000
How long it has been
since I have written to you! Alas, the muse has been holding me
prisoner. I realized that I could never be satisfied by the sterile
lock-step of mathematics. I was born to write! I have already penned
the first 356 pages of my first novel. It is the first volume in
11 September 2000
Guess who was ahead of
me at the gas station yesterday? Toni Morrison. That's right (or
should I say "write?" Ha ha!), Toni Morrison, the Nobel
prize-winning novelist who teaches at Princeton. While she was waiting
for her car to be filled, I got out my manuscript to share with
her. I tried to give it to her while asking a question about character
development, but she just asked me to check the oil. (It was down
a quart.) Then she drove off real fast for such a lyrical stylist.
24 September 2000
What a fool I have been.
Improving oneself for vain reasons is not what's important in this
world. What matters is caring for others and reasoning out the complex
and often troubling questions of moral responsibility and individual
freedom in an ever-changing world. I have been thinking a lot about
this and jotting down some thoughts. I mean, is it right that cats
can run free, but that dogs must be on leash? And what about Survivor?
Should Richard really have prospered at the others' expense?
30 September 2000
Philosophy is very complicated.
On the way to the Dinky I saw Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor
of Bioethics, walking across campus. I engaged him in a discussion
of some of the matters I have been pondering. He punched me.
Gee, I don't know, Diary,
living around Princeton is tough; maybe I should just stick with
word searches after all...
Hugh O'Bleary commutes
to New York City from Princeton. He revels in his daily sojourn
across campus to catch the Dinky. You can reach Hugh O'Bleary by
writing him c/o email@example.com