August 31, 2008

Two and two do make four. Nature doesn’t ask your advice. She isn’t interested in your preferences or whether or not you approve of her laws. You must accept nature as she is with all the consequences that that implies.

– Dostoyevsky, from Notes from the Underground

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August 30, 2008

Hanging out with you is like hanging out with myself. Except I don’t make fun of myself…

– Chris Orser

Get the story here.

Hm, this is going to be an interesting race. A very interesting race, indeed.

But still, go Obama!

Imagery #1

August 27, 2008

A Note to My Readers: I’m taking intro to creative writing this semester. Which fortunately (or unfortunately) for you means that I’m going to have a lot more material for this blog that isn’t related to:(a) pointless introspection or (b) science and politics. Here’s my first piece of the semester. It’s supposed to use imagery. It turns out, not so much. And keep in mind, I used a large amount of creative license. Things may or may not have happened this way. That’s just the nature of memory.

My dog had died. My dog had died but I felt nothing.

Standing on the back steps of my house, I could see my dog, Dixie, lying motionless. For the first time in my young life, I met death. But I could not cry.

Just hours before, before I had left for CCD, before I had gone about my day like it was just another day, Dixie had been lying on her side in the bathroom. She smelled like sickness. Like decay. She hadn’t been washed in months, and her hair was matted to her side. Standing at the doorway, kept at a distance by my parents, I could hear her panting. I knew she wouldn’t be okay. But I also knew that there was nothing I could do.

So when I returned home that night to learn she was dead, I felt dead inside. But I could not cry. I watched as my father shoveled earth that he would replace with her (its?) body. I heard the soft thud as each shovel-full was moved away. I looked on, even as my brother and sister and mother all cried. This was our dog. This was a member of our family.

As I wondered at my inability to cry, tears began to well up. And then they began to pour. I could feel their warmth on my skin, taste their saltiness on my lips. I began to cry. But not for my dog. Dixie was dead. I knew that meant I was supposed to cry. But I could not. So instead, I shed tears because I couldn’t bring myself to cry. I shed tears because, in spite of it all, I felt nothing.

It’s time (actually, a little past time) to collect my thoughts on the summer. Although I have a feeling they’re going to be pretty short this time around. Mainly because there wasn’t much of a summer being had.

Which I guess is the ‘highlight’ of this summer: no longer quite being a kid anymore (though I still posit that kid-ness will never truly go away for our generation). The only part of summer that was truly summer like was the first week and a half. I spent that doing typical ‘kid’ things, like hanging out with friends, going to movies, playing video games. Yeah, good times.

And then I went to Texas. And although all that normal summer stuff was still there, it didn’t feel like the center of life anymore. The center of life became working (if you can call what I did over the summer working). Working a 9 to 5 schedule. That became the core of my day, instead of my friends / social activities, etc.

Now, I don’t know how much of that is just a function of my personality and how much of it is a function of getting ‘older.’ Although I guess it doesn’t really matter either way. Because either way, it’s the way that I’m going to go about life.

Returning to college just now, I plan on really enjoying this last bastion of ‘kid-ness’ in my life. Because undergraduate is really, really easy. Compared to what’s ahead, this is like a peace of cake. Which is funny. It makes all that complaining in high school worthwhile. Because you finally get an ‘out,’ a way to just chill, learn, and be a non-adult for a while. For the low low price of $40,000 a year! What a bargain!

Anyway, yeah, I guess that’s the weird thing about this summer. The fact that it wasn’t at all a summer. I miss the old summers. But hopefully next summer will be more like old summers. Because nobody told me my last ‘real’ summer was going to be last year.

Now onward and upward towards this year, though! All the fun, awesome, responsibility-ness of being a college student. Haha. Take that, real world!

Obama chose Joe Biden as his vice-presidential candidate. I couldn’t be happier with the choice. Biden may ‘put his foot in his mouth’ a lot. But he does it saying what any intelligent ‘liberal’ is thinking. So, hopefully he’ll bring that straight talk with him to this campaign. And if he gets flack for it, well, he’s just the VP.

This is shaping up to be my favorite campaign of my (admittedly short) political life. I’m actually EXCITED to vote this November. And not just because we’re finally getting rid of this guy. But because the new guys seem like they might actually be able to produce real, positive change.

Yay for Democracy. Yay for America! Yay for Earth!

How you spend your time…

August 17, 2008

So, I’ve discovered that I have a lot of time and don’t really feel like reading anymore. Since reading and watching TV are my default activities right now (and I’ve decided to limit my viewing time to 3 or so hours a day [wow, that’s kind of sad]), that leaves me with some writing to do. Plus, I haven’t written anything substantive here in a while. And the summer’s coming to an slow, gasping end. Why not spend the long hours putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys).

With a lot of time on my hands, I’ve been thinking a lot about time and how to spend it. Which is a mistake right there. When you have enough time to think about how you spend time, you’re doing something wrong. And I know that. And you would think that I have some or set of skillful means to get started on things so that I’m not in that situation for more than a day (instead of, say, three weeks). But nah, that would be too easy. Much more fun to thrash around, wondering, ‘What the hell am I doing with my life!’ Dramatic much?

I’ve taken a few steps towards resolving that issue. Like buying a textbook on computational science (that’s about the only academic interest that I seem to be able to work myself up about, which I guess is a good sign, because it seems to indicate I’ve found something I’m really interested in and could pursue should all the higher institutes of learning suddenly disappear). And, well, that’s about it. I guess doing this counts. Yeah, writing.

I keep having the same general idea running through my head every day. It goes something like this.

Voice 1: Hey, you should, like, do something. I mean, the time is going to pass either way. Why not make something out of it?

Voice 2: Yeah, I mean, I could do that. Or I could watch another episode of this TV show. Yeah, I think I’ll do that.

Voice 1: Do you really think that’s a good idea? I mean, you’ll get all vicariously entertained by that for the 42 minutes of the show, but then what after that?

Voice 2: I don’t know, I guess I’ll deal with that when it comes. But for now…

Voice 3: Did someone say Vicarious? Yeah, Tool!!!!

Voice 1: Um, okay. Whatever you say. Just don’t expect to feel to good about yourself at the end of the day.

Voice 2: Okie dokie.

Voice 4: Hey, where’d all the ice cream go?

Sometimes I wonder if I expect a little too much from life. Yeah, that.

For the moment, though, I think I’ll listen to voice 2. That guy seems to have something interesting in mind.

The Swell Well of Memories

August 17, 2008

A few days ago, unable to fall asleep, I decided to page through some of the journals I’ve kept. This is an activity I’ve done more or less constantly since the end freshman year of high school. Which means that I have a good five and a half years of content. Which is crazy to think about. Because 9th grade seemed like just yesterday in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, two things struck me while going through those journals (other than the fact that it was a bad idea if I hoped it would help my insomnia and that my handwriting has improved a whole bunch in the five years): how much ‘I’ve changed and how much ‘I’ve stayed the same.

Obviously, I haven’t really figured out life that much more than I had back then. I mean, I don’t know if anyone really ever figures out life. Sometimes I figure that it’s actually un-figure-out-able. That as people get older, they just assume every else has figured it out, so they act like they have too, just to fit in. But everyone is just faking it, enough so that it seems real. Which is kind of scary and kind of beautiful at the same time.

And the other thing I noticed is how much my ideas have changed. Obviously, I’ve said this a million times before. But the difference in my life philosophy from then to now is just about as different as night and day. And sure, it was nice to believe in some all powerful divine power that made everything right (some entries included reference to the fact that things are the way they are because God wanted them that way, etc. [which I guess isn’t too far from my present belief that things are the way they are because, well, they are that way… just subtract God from the previous statement and you have all the same things!]), but I’ll take my ‘meaningless’ existence any time. I don’t know how people go from rejecting religion to being ‘born again.’ I guess I’d have to have their experience. Because I’m way too intrenched in the way I am right now.

I guess I thought I would have more to say. You would think a person might have more to say about reviewing five years of their life. But I guess not.

I’m glad that I started to journal those five years ago. Not only do I have a collection of what was going on in my life, I also have some idea of what was going on in my life. And I have constant reminders that even when I thought life had fallen apart, things turn out okay. Everything turns out okay in the end. You just have to hone your skills of rationalization.

Maybe that’s what growing up is all about. Faking it until you finally believe it. And then hope that everything doesn’t fall apart.

And when I really become that cynical, I’ll know I’ve become a real adult. :P

August 14, 2008

Some might argue that artists are a race or species apart from the common person. Yet we all identify with the teachings of Gandhi, the genius of Einstein, the art of Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Rembrandt and the talent and compassion of living artists like Alice Walker, Will Smith, The Mars Volta, Dead Prez, Prince and countless others. Some of us choose to emulate their styles, their fashion, their career choices, but why not their diets? If our brightest most celebrated stars all have this one thing in common why are we so slow in connecting the dots for ourselves? Perhaps the biggest issue at hand is not what our cars run on, but essentially what do we run on? The fact is that factory farms are the number one users of crude oil, not cars. That’s basically what it takes to kill approximately one million chickens per hour (just in the US). More than half of our water supply goes to feed animals being fattened for slaughter. The methane gases that contribute to global warming are produced majorly by cow farts in factory farms, not to mention the amount of fossil fuels needed to create just one pound of beef.

– Saul Williams

August 9, 2008

For myself, I think it’s critical to set reasonable expectations about how, when, and where people can expect to have authentic, honest-to-God contact with us, and here’s why: if you leave every channel open to everybody and anybody, all the time and without limit, you necessarily prevent yourself from ever stepping away from the fray for long enough to focus. You’ll never make the time that it takes to produce the sort of good work that theoretically made you so appealing in the first place.

And, perhaps as importantly, you also can never devote your undivided attention to the biped mammals who are breathing air in the room with you. Here. People. With faces and hands. Not “friends,” but friends. Real people. Because, if total focus on the known important stuff in your life has to battle with a never-ending doorbell attached to your brain, it’s hard for me to imagine how your work, or your family, or your sense of who you are, alone in a room without the ringing, can possibly thrive. But, again, that’s really up to you to decide.

– Merlin Mann, from Making Time to Make