The Road Less Traveled

Fork in the road, naturallySometimes TV shows test my patience. Though I like The Mentalist, they shouldn’t resort to passing off things that can’t pass muster if you think about them for a few seconds. Sure, a GPS system will let you get to a spot to within about 50 meters or so, but the latitude and longitude values given in the first John Q. Public e-mail message were so truncated that they probably only specified an area of several hundred square miles, if not more. Even assuming that the e-mail message gave the coordinates to a high enough precision, how could anyone know in advance exactly where and when the victim of the first killing would land? There were half a dozen or so jumpers on board, so their departures from the plane would probably have been spread over at least a minute, which would have created a window of uncertainty of several miles. Also, the e-mailer was assuming in advance the exact moment and location when they would jump, which wouldn’t have been in his control.

It was good to see “Lila” from Dexter again, though. This being CBS, she had to keep her clothes on, though.

I read an interesting article last week that suggested that the Robert Frost poem Road Less Traveled is one of the most misunderstood poems that people quote frequently. Frost himself apparently wrote that it is a curiously deceptive poem. I think I get what they were talking about. People assume that the choice of the less-traveled road is obvious to the traveler. However, the persona of the poem says, “Though as for that, the passing there / Had worn them really about the same”

It seems that Frost is saying that only in retrospect do we assign a signficance to the choice, and that we might be tempted to make up a rationalization for a life-altering decision where really there was none. I support that idea 100%. I can look back on my life to date and identify a number of pivotal moments where decisions were made that changed the course of my life completely. At the time, though, I didn’t give the choices a second thought because I had no way of knowing what their impact would be. My “decision” to become a crystallographer started when I chose my honours project advisor in my fourth year of university. I picked him because I liked him–I had no idea what his research projects entailed. Hadn’t even really heard of crystallography.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence”

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