No, this entry is not the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (we already know that answer is 42). I’ve noted (using awstats, a free web site statistics program), a bump in the number of hits on this blog site since my last entry which my friend and colleague, “Dr. John M,” cited in his own popular blog. If there are new readers of my blog (which apparently there are), I owe them an explanation as to what this blog is all about. The short answer is: things I am interested in. I am not a prolific blogger, like my friend John. I am lucky to produce an entry each month. Unlike John’s blog, this is not primarily a medical blog (nor am I a cyclist). It’s not that I am uninterested in medicine. Because I work in medicine it inevitably consumes 99.9% of my life, crowding out the other things that interest me. So when I have some precious free time, the last thing I want to think about is medicine. To paraphrase Number 6 in The Prisoner: “I am not a doctor, I am a free man!” If I look back to my college days, I see how I transitioned from a truly liberal arts type individual to a doctor of medicine. When I entered college, my interests were, in no particular order, literature (especially science fiction and fantasy), classical languages, music, computers, and mathematics. By the time I was in medical school, some of these interests had been stamped out (mathematics and classics) and the rest had been marginalized to “hobby” status. My mathematical bent probably did survive in some fashion in the fact that I eventually went into one of the more analytical branches of medicine, cardiac electrophysiology. It also survived in my interest in computers, though mathematics and computers are less related than most people realize. My interest in computers resurged when in the early 1980s I purchased an Apple II computer and started hacking away again after a brief hiatus following college. My musical interests never waned, though they have been frustrated for the last several years here in Louisville, lacking a piano (I miss my Yamaha back in Colorado). On the other hand, I have been able to watch and listen to more artists and music than I ever imagined thanks to the magic of YouTube! Over time I have developed other interests, including politics, social issues, travel, religion, and history. So all these things are what I write about in this blog.
All of the above is an attempt to explain why on this blog you will see an article on the C++ programming language next to an article on harmony in Rachmaninoff next to an article on the 1960s TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Douglas Hofstadter in his book “I am a Strange Loop” makes an argument that your consciousness persists in a real way in the minds of others who remember you even after your physical demise. Mathematician and cyberpunk science fiction author Rudy Rucker created the concept of a “lifebox” which digitally stores all your interests and memories (your lifestory) hyperlinked together, to the point that the lifebox is almost a simulation of you. I don’t think a weblog is anything close to his concept, but I do think that there is a quest for persistence that drives us to leave little digital pieces of ourselves out on the web for others to examine.