You know it’s been a while since you’ve posted when your spam comments get into the triple digits. I am liking this new brand of spam comment where they leave a joke, though. For example, “Nice joke! What is the biggest ant? An elephant.” That was from a site selling Viagra.
Annnnyway, making new friends is easy. It’s that post-”OK I met you and we’ve exchanged last names so that the other is findable on FB” actual leap to really hanging out again that’s the difficult part. You may remember I met two randoms at the icanhascheezburger book launch and we immediately friended each other on the ol’ bookface. I assumed I would never see them again but the one of them that lived in SF, Choco, promptly invited me to twenty thousand things he was doing. The first of which was Equilibrium – some sort of hipster/nerdy nighttime event; this one themed “Five Senses.”
The thing that piqued my interest in the description (besides the “take it all in!” tagline) was the miracle fruit tasting station. Miracle fruit is some sort of miracle fruit that you eat and makes everything sour thereafter taste sweet. Limes, particularly, are supposed to taste extraordinarily yummy, and I’ve heard of people getting intense indigestion from all the acid that they ingest after doing miracle fruit. The Equilibrium description was chock-full of hyperbolic statements such as “Oranges (already quite sweet) taste like they were imported from an Alien world or plucked straight from the Garden of Eden.”
Other things included talks on chocolate and technology from the TCHO guys, a talk on synesthesia, a talk on the neuroscience of vision, and music. And drinks.
I arrived to the space (Langton Labs) with R2 and U2 in tow, paid the $10 suggested donation, and found Choco easily even though the place was entirely too squished. How many nerds could there be in this city? Jesus. Hipster-nerds tend to be very thin and pointy too – not cozy at all in a packed-crowd situation. The lecture going on was about vision and I felt very hip with my legit Vision Sciences Society Conference bag that I inherited from James. I nonchalantly yet conspicuously held it out in front of me but no one noticed. I then downed a drink and piled five-deep onto a chair meant for one and participated in a demo on seeing smells. I think this was meant to accompany the lecture on synesthesia, which is a very cool concept (upon which I shall expand below, so no need to click on the link). It was basically a rotating cone of light (think what it looks like when you hit light speed in Star Wars) with tendrils of incense smoke curling through. You could follow the path of the smoke with your eyes and your nose, much like a moth perceives the world. Groooovy.
Then, upstairs to the miracle fruit station, which was completely picked over (see top). Cry. I actually have my own miracle fruit packets at home – a surprise gift courtesy of a colleague in New York – so I wasn’t crushed, but I did think, “Damnitall, now I have to turn the boring, sciencey, non-food-related parts of this night into a MTFB post somehow.”
Also upstairs was a bathroom with waaaay too many toothbrushes in it. What the hell?
We took seats in a nice, cushioney lofted area (see middle pic) and settled in to hear the synesthesia lecture. Synesthesia is fascinating; defined as – whoops, I’m sorry. I have to interrupt my explanation to have an epileptic seizure, because that’s what happened to this poor girl in the middle of the talk. We were upstairs and could only hear it happening, but the part that shattered my heart was hearing her try to say “I’m sorry” as she convulsed. It scared a lot of people, but not Choco, who was blasted and was off to the side saying things to himself like “the ground is like the most unusual kind of boat!”
An ambulance was called and the woman was safely taken to the hospital. The lecture resumed. Synesthesia means a fusing of the senses. People who have synesthesia can taste words, see sounds as colors, and other trippy things all day that us mortals have to use drugs to experience. Sometimes numbers and letters have personalities, and in one particularly awesome example, some synesthetes can taste celebrities. Christopher Walken? Ham with chocolate. Kevin Bacon? Ironically, not bacon! Instead, tomato sauce! Bizarre, but supercool.
Not all of us thought so. Some were itching to leave, so we did. On the way out, U2 ungraciously but quite hilariously yelled “THAT WAS THE MOST BORING THING I’VE EVER DONE AT NIGHT!”