Data’s Day

March 27, 2007

Back in the distant past, before most of you were even born, there was a popular TV show entitled Star Trek: The Next Generation. I won’t even attempt to summarize the show’s premise for you, as it would require a detailed explanation of the latter twentieth century, and we all know that was like a century ago. Suffice it to say that one of the main characters, Data, was a white-skinned android with disturbingly glossy hair and a fascination about human behavior. In one memorable episode, “Data’s Day,” we follow Data through a single, complete day, seeing the life of the starship (did I mention there was a starship?) through his emotionless eyes. I’m sure there is a crisis, too, because there always is, and I’m equally sure it’s resolved by dinnertime (not that Data needed to eat).

The only reason I bring this up is because I’ve gotten some questions about how my recovery is going, and I realized I haven’t addressed that in the blog recently. Oh, and also, the title “Shawn’s Day” seemed less than compelling.

I’ve been home for nearly a month now (it’s been almost five weeks since my surgery), and I admit I’ve acclimated to having nothing much to do. I generally get out of bed around 9:30-10:00am, groaning about the unfairness of it all. Once past the self-pity phase, I usually eat breakfast and surf the web for a while, wondering how I could become so quickly bored by the largest collection of knowledge in human history. I then often take my existential angst outside, where I engage in the first of my two daily walks. I love walking, and I really love walking around San Francisco. But after dozens of walks around my neighborhood, I’ve come to realize that I hate walking, and I really hate walking around San Francisco. I can pass our local gourmet restaurants, world-famous bakeries, and gorgeous, sunlit parks only so many times before wishing desperately for something else to look at. Like maybe an urban wasteland of gutted apartment buildings and stray dogs.

After that I return home and, if the cat hasn’t already claimed it, sprawl on the couch for an hour or so of intensive wall-staring. This is followed by some reading, or possibly more web surfing, until I realize that it’s getting late and I need to take my second walk. By this point Debbie has often returned from work, and she pokes at me with kitchen utensils (blunt only) until I leave the house and point myself in a random direction. If I’m lucky she will have sent me not just on a walk but on a mission, perhaps to the store to buy some dinner ingredients. This external motivation does wonders for me, and I tromp off to acquire one can of kidney beans and a lime with the calm bravery of a nineteenth century polar explorer.

Some days I mix up my schedule by ending a walk at one of our many local cafes. This morning, for example, I walked around the Mission District and then deposited myself at Katz Bagels, the best local bagel joint. After having a delicious “everything” bagel with egg and cheese, I spent about an hour reading a cast-off newspaper. Then, noticing it was basically lunch time, I returned to the counter and ordered a slice of Katz’s delicious veggie pizza. I’m not sure how many people eat both breakfast and lunch at Katz in one uninterrupted session, but the wait staff looked at me only a tiny bit strangely. Maybe next time I’ll throw away all decorum and stay for three meals.

The evenings are filled with more incredible sitting. Then follows a shower, in which I am confronted by a long, mysterious vertical scar running down my chest. I stare at it for a while, shrug my shoulders, and go off to eat one of Debbie’s delicious dinners. We trade stories of our day, and I always drone on for what seems like forever. Eventually I find my way to bed, where I’ll spend the next nine to ten hours resting up for my big day tomorrow.

[Editor’s note: we apologize for the subtle sarcasm imbuing this post. Debbie claims to be planning a follow-up essay that provides, shall we say, actual facts.]

[Editor’s note 2: for those of you who spend most of your day at, well, actual jobs, we also apologize.]

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5 Responses to “Data’s Day”


  1. […] in General Shawn has been blogging about his recovery from heart surgery. From his latest post on how he currently spends a typical day: “Once past the self-pity phase, I usually eat breakfast and surf the web for a while, […]

  2. Scott Says:

    Well, except for the whole heart-surgery part, that sounds pretty good! In fact, I think I’ll walk down to the cafe now…

    Hey, have you read “The Time Traveler’s Wife” yet? That one would keep you busy for a while.


  3. Nope, I haven’t read “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” but I did just finish H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” which I’d never read before. Your suggestion sounds like the logical next step.

  4. Steve Rathmann Says:

    Interestingly, while I do have the unfortunate circumstance of spending most of my day at a job, our days seem remarkably similar. It’s just that I end up having guilt about my wall staring.

    There’s always “Gödel, Escher, Bach” if you would like to play Twister with your own brain.

  5. Thomas Roche Says:

    Hi Shawn — Remember me? I am so sorry to hear about your illness but it sounds like you are on the mend. I will read the rest of your blog posts and see what I need to catch up on!!!

    And also, I recently re-read The Time Machine (I read it when I was very, very young) and it ROCKS. I don’t like it as much as War of the Worlds, though.

    Best,
    Thomas Roche


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