Here's the deal, though—regardless of whether you email Mr. So-and-So at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org, it goes to the same friggin' inbox. Why not just use the shorter extension? I know blah@artsci was the convenient shorthand of choice for juniors and seniors, but we in the class of 2006 weren't on the original system for that long before they changed it—so why keep using an outmoded shorthand?
[shakes head] I'm really just mystified to see kids going around noting their email addresses on forms in this shorthand that was developed for use in lieu of writing out three-part email extensions. I'm so very sick of seeing people use that abbreviation. I know, though, it's cool and sophisticated when you can abbreviate everything, and we all want to be cool and sophisticated like the seniors: "Like, omg, welcome to Wash. U. I'll be your tour guide today, I'm an LA '06 in ArtSci, if you have any questions you can email me at dumbass@artsci and I'll be glad to answer them..."
Yesterday some shady guy (ManDyLoVln) IMed me a few times asking me to give him a copy of the Beck song, "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime," claiming that it wasn't on the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack and that he couldn't find it "anywhere." Right away I got suspicious, 'cause random people just don't IM other people asking them to share files with them. Perhaps I'm paranoid, but it just seems either very shady or very stupid to ask someone you don't know to give you copyrighted music via AIM, especially when it's copyrighted music by a major-label artist like Beck.
Anyway, I decided to check up on this guy while I was talking to him. I went to Amazon and looked at the album's track listing, and sure enough, it's on the soundtrack. When I told him that he just said "oh." Yeah, "oh" is right, kid. I asked where he got my screenname, and he claimed to have found it on a message board where I said I was "a fan of the song." That's definitely not me—since when do I say I'm a "fan" of anything? Then he claimed that he found my name on Audioscrobbler, which I can see occurring—but when he sent me the link, Audioscrobbler wasn't even up.
I told him to try Suprnova.org, and he replied not 3 seconds later saying "I did...i did Kazaa too." Yeah, OK Kazaa jockey, stop wasting my time. He claimed that he'd sent me an email earlier, too—but I definitely haven't gotten any email from email@example.com yet. He also claimed to have read the resume posted on my site—but anyone who's ever looked at that would know that there's nothing to read there—what I have up now is a placeholder PDF.
I really am all for asking for things when you think you might get a result—see my earlier post asking for free meal points—but this guy seems either too stupid or too shady to waste time on. (Though I am wasting a whole post on him...) After I agreed that yes, you can find me on Audioscrobbler, he said, "make any sense?...im not a freak...just a college student who really wants that song." Again, I understand wanting a song—but there are ways to get songs that don't involve me. His plea ended up sounding just like some misguided attempt to play the "college good ol' boys' network" card—kind of like when the university administrator was on the hub asking "Does anyone know where I can find some substances to abuse?"
I Googled the guy's screenname while I was at it—it turns out that whoever he is, there's a LiveJournal with his name on it. I think the journal really speaks to what an idiot this guy must be.
In the dream, of course, I got all frantic because, as usual, I didn't have time to rebut everything they said on a point-by-point basis, but I was still going to try.
"1. I don't suck..."
Something like that. Then I woke up, checked my email, and found out that I was rejected from yet another university PR job, this time the "reunion intern" program. (Last time it was the peer advisor one.) It was sure nice of them to get back to me when they said they would, i.e. a week ago, when I needed to be able to tell Jon whether the newspaper should reserve housing for me for the weekend of May 15th.
I wonder what the deal is, though. Maybe I'm not believable in my interviews. I do have the whole college-has-beaten-me-down-and-I-hate-and-suspect-everyone thing going on, so maybe they pick up on that. Perhaps they do background checks and won't take someone who's withdrawn from three classes and gotten one F and one incomplete. Perhaps they do background checks and find my blog. Then there's the fact that whenever they ask me if I "love" the university, I have to waffle and say something stupid about taking its faults along with its high points—always something like that, 'cause I'd really be flat-out lying if I acted all bubbly, giggled, and said [sincere Valley girl voice here] "Like, omigod, yeah, like seriously, this is the only place I could see myself being. I just love it here, and I could definitely see myself talking and listening to older alumni...I mean, they just have so much to tell us, you know?" etc. etc.
Yeah...that's just not me in any sense. I may well be too honest for those kinds of jobs—not that I'm more honest than other people, as not everyone has found fault with as many things about the university as I have, but just too disillusioned and not particularly good at hiding my disappointment and disillusionment. I mean, most of the time I choose not to hide it, as I really get tired of putting on the happy face, so to speak, but you'd think I'd be able to do it for a half-hour interview.
[shrugs] I still maintain that they're missing out. When it comes down to it, I'm still good at working my ass off for stuff—I'm just not often inspired to put out that much effort. The only thing I've found here that's really been worthy of that much effort is the newspaper. The student-run theater is sometimes worth the effort, but this year it's taking a whole lot of extra effort at rehearsals trying not to curse out Rosie. Case in point: Last night he was whistling something, so I asked what the music was, and he said, "Oh...that's from Guys and Dolls," whereupon he raised his head real quick, took a calculating look at the rest of the pit orchestra, and pointedly said, "I think everyone in the pit now...besides Eric...was in that show." Yeah, OK—the real point was that I wasn't in that show, either.
What he and most people don't know is that in fact I cried at that show (which no one I was sitting with seemed to pay the slightest bit of attention to), 'cause I was thinking about the fact that I really am out of the loop in music here. "Who the hell is Rosie?" my thoughts screamed, looking at the program. I still didn't know who he was when Brad brought him up at the pit orchestra meeting we had in the music library, though I did know he was in the Guys and Dolls pit (and has apparently been in a lot of other shows over the past however-long), so I hesitantly agreed to sign him on to play with the show. Hesitantly...with trepidation...all those fun terms that mean I was doubtful from the beginning. Oddly enough, he turned out to be an excellent player—and a jerk with a sense of entitlement who's resented me from the beginning for getting "his" book.
Anyway, question of the day: Who was searching for the newspaper on my blog last night? Someone checking up on me? Heh.
"Thanks to scores of scholar alumni, parents, and friends for the splendid e-mails and letters to Missouri senators (and representatives). While the session is not over, we believe we have turned a major corner. We are grateful for the public support of MSA which Missouri's legislators, as of today (April 15, 2004) will be recommending in next year's state budget. Since the 2004 session is NOT over, individuals who have not yet written their representatives and/or senators should still do so."
Looks promising. Maybe I should send my letter to the rest of the legislature now...
I stayed up 'til 4:30 a.m. last night reading Tucker Max stories, slept in, and awoke to an 85 degree day. Good start.
I think that for the time being, at least, my ideal university day involves warmth, staying up late and sleeping in afterwards, getting money, eating good food, perhaps writing volumes about one opinion of mine or another, talking to few people besides those that IM me, blogging a bit, surfing, and listening to a bit of good music. No rushing around, no waiting around, no classes, no attempting conversation with people—just [relatively] solitary and sedentary entertainment.
This morning we had Christianity class outside sitting on the grassy hill in front of the building, and it was so nice and warm and quiet in that little amphitheatre-type area that I stayed on the hill after class and took a brief nap before lunch, spreading my wool coat under me and over my stomach as a blanket. Mmm, sunshine.
Lunch was nice, too, despite the fact that I wanted to nap some more, as they were playing the usual late morning/early afternoon techno over the speakers in the food court, and I got a nice booth warmed by the lamps overhead, which I always enjoy. Sometimes simple things make me feel content when I'm not busy hating everything.
Beh. The online edition took forever to put up tonight, with 21 stories—that's pretty big for an issue of the paper. It took until about 12:30 a.m. to get it all together and online, and given that I got to the office to copy edit around 6:45 p.m., that means I was there for about six hours or so. Luckily I figured out that iTunes has some pretty good streaming radio stations—I started off trying to find decent alternative streams but couldn't find anything mainstream enough for my tastes, so I switched to Top 40, some of which was decent. Then I decided to try some Euro-pop techno, which turned out to be a wonderful, DDR-esque kind of catchy, so I listened to that until I left.
Jon called around midnight to check the new voicemail message he'd recorded and was surprised that I was still there. Of course, anyone that knows me pretty well knows that I've got that whole tilted sleep cycle going on, so 12 a.m. isn't that late for me.
Somehow the train of thought concerning Jon's amazement intersected with thoughts of payment. I wonder every once in a while if it'll ever be possible to convince them to give me last year's back pay for copy editing all spring without getting paid, since they hadn't printed out new copies of the forms I needed to fill out to get on the payroll. I'm guessing that's a pipe dream that'll remain unfulfilled, though.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the MAP Test
Earlier I think I made a good argument on the MSA Invision board about why one should bother to take the Missouri standardized achievement tests, the MAP and TerraNova. See my testimonial/argument here:
Reprinted here for posterity:
Junior year when I took the MAP test, there was this English section question about how to raise/rear children properly (stupidest question ever, in my opinion—not at all relevant to things we learn in school). Smartass that I am, I took the topic and ran with it, making up a state pamphlet on how to raise/rear children properly. Points of emphasis included making the most of your food stamps, ensuring that your child is as popular as possible, making sure to buy the best, coolest clothes for your kids on your food-stamp budget so they'll fit in, getting your kids involved in sports so they learn how to obey authority figures, etc. Added bonus: If your kid gets hurt badly enough playing competitive sports, they can be put under state-funded care/state custody so you no longer have to pay a dime, and if they survive, then they'll have the foundation of a good ol' boys network from sports that'll prepare them for future jobs as a civil servant of the state/government employee. This was all written with impeccable grammar and an insouciant wit such that there was no way they could call me out on the actual English involved, which was, after all, what the test was ideally supposed to be about.
Yeah, so I had fun with that one, and surprisingly enough was deemed proficient or competent or whatever despite mocking the school system and the MAP test itself. I really did rock it as far as proper English is concerned, though, so perhaps they were forced to recognize that.
As far as whether your MAP/TerraNova scores appear on your permanent record, yes, they may appear on your school district permanent record. That has absolutely no bearing on getting into college, though—it definitely didn't show up on my high school transcript as far as I recall. It is nice to get that state kickback on AP tests for doing well on the MAP test, though.
Anyway, here's what I think as far as your protest is concerned: I think it's a little misguided, but hear me out here, and I'll explain why. I think it's better to protest by just taking the test and putting a slant on your answers than by refusing to take the test at all. While you want to learn things during those couple of weeks that they're using for the MAP/TerraNova tests, there's probably no one at your school (there wasn't at mine) who's going to teach it to you. Even if they let you abstain from test-taking, you'll probably end up cooling off in the office (like you apparently were forced to anyway), doing menial tasks and running errands, rather than working on anything of value.
Further, so much in the way of state/government funding depends (for better or worse) on those scores. While you may be self-directed enough to make good use of your time instead of taking the tests, I'd say that's the very reason you should be taking them, despite the fact that they're often poorly worded and don't really measure what they should. Here's why, in several steps of reasoning:
Reason 1: We know the tests don't measure what they should. That doesn't actually matter, though, unless you personally have a desperate need to find out about yourself through standardized testing. The tests may not be a completely accurate way of evaluating people, but if they're inaccurate the same way for everyone, then it matters not—the key here lies in differences between students/populations, not in what a given individual student gets on the test. You're smart, so you're going to help up the average for your school even if you do poorly compared to what you know your own potential to be.
Reason 2: The real point of measuring anything with the tests is to determine which schools get more or less funding. While it may be exploitative, the schools generally rely upon intelligent students like us to bring up the average scores. Why do we care? Why should we go along with it? We care and comply because better scores, especially when there's improvement in scores between years, give our schools/districts more funding. More funding, as long as it's not put towards helmets for the football team, may allow them to provide us with better teachers (higher salaries attract the better among educators), more money for district gifted programs, and more money for activities we're interested in, like academic teams, math clubs, etc. Obviously the allocation of funds will vary by district, but yeah...with the emphasis the state and federal governments are putting on "leaving no child behind," it's getting so that (again, for better or for worse) districts need to show improvement on test scores every year to continue receiving a high level of funding. (It's the capitalist model of achievement—remaining steady isn't an option, you've always got to be making progress of some sort to be considered legitimate.)
Reason 3: In a certain sense, all rebelling does when you're dealing with autocratic morons who run schools and school districts is confirm stereotypes about intelligent students—namely that intelligent students are "difficult to deal with" or "uncooperative" or "elitist." I'm not saying you should go along with everything they try to push over on you—it's a fantastic thing that you actually have a sense of values that you're willing to stand up for, as so many students really don't recognize the problems with the education system we're working with—but in this case, it seems more detrimental to resist, especially for so little personal gain.
Reason 4: If you don't take them in a given year, you don't know how bad they are, so you're in no position to argue that they should be changed or abolished. Experience is what counts when you're making such an argument to try and change things. Further, if you don't take them, you can't have fun complaining about how dumb the questions are and how you're too smart for the test. ;)
Reason 5: You get money back when you, intelligent person that you are, go to take AP tests or take dual-credit classes through Missouri universities. While it's not much, it's often enough to convince your parents that the extra expense it takes to enroll in such classes is justified. What do you get out of it? Advanced placement in college (possibly, depending on what the subject is and where you go), several college credits out of the way, and less cost per credit hour.
Reason 6: Further, even if the tests register incorrectly that you're doing poorly, it doesn't affect anything besides getting money back for APs/college credit, which you probably don't care about that much if you've initially decided to boycott the tests altogether. That make sense? In any case, if you're this intelligent, there's less chance that you're going to do worse than the truly poor students. Given the reasons outlined above, I think the potential benefits of actually taking it definitely outweigh the slim potential losses.
My advice? Be subversive rather than confrontational. Take their crappy little tests and ace them while making fun of them at the same time. Perhaps work to get things changed at the district or state level so these tests are made better. When you find a crap question, write it down, then note it in the section at the end of the test (there should be one) where they ask for problems with the test. Make note of the problems and write them down on a separate piece of paper, too, then write an email or letter to the powers that be telling them what problems you found and why it should be changed. If your teacher won't let you write down questions that are poorly worded or irrelevant or what have you, then go to your principal and tell them that you'd like to help improve the test and that they should support you in that. Get other people to do the same thing. With something that's been made into such a big deal by people in power, like President Bush with his friggin' national initiative, standing up for yourself by refusing to take the test altogether seems like an unnecessarily difficult way to go to make your point.
Also, it may help if next time around (if there is a next time, depending upon what grade you're in now), you tell your parents about your objections beforehand. Do that, giving them plenty of time to consider your reasoning, and they may support you, regardless of what the administrative powers that be have to say about it. When they end up hearing about it in a one-sided phone call from a principal, though, you've just lost any leverage you might have had. Parents oftentimes have a real need to project the image that they're concerned and doing all that they can to "raise you right," especially when confronted by an authority figure who has a hand in their kid's future. Undoubtedly the principals and other key administrators know this and will use it against you when given the chance—and when they themselves feel threatened. In such circumstances, parents will often reactively pronounce things and come down against you unnecessarily in the game of appearances the administrators manipulated them into playing. That's why I say to be subversive and get your opinion on the table well in advance—if you don't, you don't really have a position to fall back on.
For further reference that's not really related to testing, per se, but rather just to being an intelligent student in our flawed school systems, check out this stuff I read lately:
Also, before I forget, I should relate this anecdote from Postmodernism class on Tuesday. I was sitting there, watching this girl who's also in my Karma & Rebirth class talking to the guy who makes a point of getting up about halfway through class every day and walking out of the room, then coming back a few minutes later. The guy wears awful shoddy house slippers to class when he can (I mentioned offhandedly one day how awful they look as I was passing him on the way out the door) and looks like a weasel or something, with uncut hair, unshaved blond stubble, and abounding arrogance...yet he's just a smarmy malnourished freshman who takes too many philosophy courses.
I have a lack of patience for the freshmen in that class, as they remind me of freshman dorm kids in their faux-art-rock pretentiousness, and I think that most of them are in it because they thought that a "fun," snarky name ("What is Postmodernism, Anyway?") would equal a fun class. Guess what, kids? It doesn't. So they annoy me, always whispering to each other and talking through class, and on this particular occasion they kept standing there talking even as the TA walked by and gave the girl a stack of handouts to pass down the row...then kept talking as Professor Bourg was clearing his throat to start class...and didn't pass the handouts down the row. You need the handout to follow along in there, yet no one was doing anything—the girl next to me, Laura or Amanda something, wasn't paying any attention at all, despite the fact that she hadn't gotten the handout either.
Class was starting momentarily and they were still gabbing—so I got up and stalked to the end of the row: "Hey." They looked up. "Hey, yeah, I know your conversation's really important and all, but can we have the handouts now?" [stunned, distasteful looks from both of them and the people in the row of seats behind where they were standing] "Wow...that was really rude," said the girl, looking down her nose at me. "Yeah, that was really rude," echoed the weasel guy, staring at me in amazement. "I didn't even know I had more than one sheet," the girl insisted indignantly. "Yeah, OK, can you just give me the handouts now?" She gave 'em to me, and I stalked away without looking at them again. They all spent the rest of class snickering and whispering at intervals. Screw them. I want my handout, especially when class is about to start and they're still standing there gabbing away. Talk about rude—after all, it's rude to point out someone else's rudeness, and I don't really see how asking for something that I was already supposed to have received constitutes rudeness.
I look at people here all the time and wonder about how they got in here. I've had this crazy idea, you see, that to get into a school like this you need to be extraordinarily talented or interesting or just have something going for you, so I look at people and try to figure them out. I can divine feasible reasons for why a lot of my friends are here. Morgan, for instance, is a fantastic musician and is incredibly good at reading people. He always picks up on the things that people refuse to say and does social commentary like a pro. A.'s also got the social commentary covered, and he's just really quick on the draw in general. R.'s got the whole multiple-languages-and-linguistics-and-philosophy thing going on, and she's a poet, too. Austin's just outstanding at so many things—music, English, computers, etc. Those are a few examples. I look around as I'm walking across campus or sitting at the workshop table in adv. fiction writing or hanging out in the newspaper office during production and if I look hard enough, I can usually figure out what it was that got so-and-so in here.
Unfortunately, while I've found a few talented, wonderful people, there are always these other people who don't make a lot of sense here. They annoy the hell out of me. I'm talking about dumb psych majors like [the rest of this paragraph unavailable at this time].
I don't understand why people like that are here, but then again, perhaps connections, money, and charisma have a lot to do with it. Still, with so many people applying to school here, you'd think that we'd have no trouble weeding out the idiots. I'm thinking a lot of the real winners gain admission here, sure enough, but then choose to go to places like Princeton, CalTech, and MIT. (That's not to impugn the real winners who are here, but to note a possible reason we don't have more here.) I mean, there are always going to be people who apply here as a gamble; this might be their "reach" school, No. 10 on the list of schools they thought they'd try for. [shrugs] Some people, though, are just so blatantly crappy...the anti-intellectual elitist in me wishes everyone here were like my slacker friends.
I also put a brief in the newspaper last night about the budget crisis—I'd been thinking about it all night while working on the paper, as one of the briefs took up an entire column, which seemed ridiculously long. I figured we could cut it and throw in the MSA one. When Jon got there to write the paper to PDF, though, I chickened out and decided I was too tired to write a brief. I left to get a snack at the bakery...only to reach the student center and realize that no, it really wasn't open. I took that as a sign that I should go back and write the damned brief, so I hightailed it back to the office, only to find Jon just finishing up the section's pdf. I convinced him to let me take a few minutes writing a brief about MSA/MFAA, though, and my conscience was satisfied.
Oy. Being online editor and copy chief simultaneously is mighty tiring. (Yes, I'm bragging—but I really am tired.) I've effectively doubled my time at the paper until the end of the semester doing both of these jobs. It's like last semester all over again—and at a very inopportune time, as my grades were just starting to look decent.
I've finally finished the "training" portion of being online editor, though, posting the entire issue online myself last night. I think I've got this down...
The sad thing about that is that it's only that—a potentiality—not my everyday reality. That potentiality lies latent for me, at least, 'cause I haven't really found a way to enjoy this place for even so long as a full day at a time. It's unfortunate.
-Being an old woman will be strange—these guys who're our age now'll be smartasses like our grandfathers...using repetitive punchlines from mid-'90s movies.
-What shall I be? Screenwriter? Novelist? Copy editor? Law...something? Columnist? Gifted ed. teacher? English teacher? English professor? What should I decide to crusade for? I've got a lot of causes, but only one life, as far as I know. Must make it count. [shrugs] I should take the easy way out—do everything and never decide.
-I've wanted to yell out the window at these loud kids outside for weeks, but my roommate wouldn't let me, as it's usually 1 a.m. or later when people are being stupid. At that point the other two suitemates are usually holed up pretending to sleep. Anyway, some guy on the ground outside finally got the same idea and yelled at these idiots in the dorm next door with open windows:
"Hey D2 assholes, shut the hell up!"
-Real name found in the phone book while looking for character names: R. Biv.
A treehouse would be great, though. People could go sit on it to make out in the moonlight, have deep conversations on it, or just climb on it for fun. It could become a tradition in and of itself, meaning something different to each of thousands of students. It'd have to be constructed well, of course, and look good—none of these bright, primary-colored plastics for us sophisticated college students, as this will be a treehouse, after all, not a playground. But yeah...what a boon it would be to have such a thing.
Eh. Before that, though, someone just needs to get out of one of the existing hammocks downstairs so I can go lie there and read.
Aside from that, I've nothing of interest to say. I like the smoke from Marlboro Lights, which Bernie was smoking earlier. For the record, I'm never going to smoke, but I do find myself enjoying secondhand smoke perhaps a bit too much.
I could have a veritable herd of fish (koi are too cool for school, you understand) for that price.
I've also got two new ideas for things that need to come into existence:
1. Real live My Little Ponies, full of tiny cuddliness and loving, in need of nothing but air and kindness.
2. A knife fish! This, much like the knife pony, would be a koi fish swimming around, carrying a big knife in its mouth.
It made me think about possibilities and probabilities and all the things that can be done right that need to stay right. "It's so fleeting" is a thought I keep coming back to—I worry about memory anyway, as that's something I'm deeply afraid of losing, and this movie may have touched a nerve with me because of that. Recently I've noticed that a whole lot of memories from the last 20 years of my life that I used to take for granted just aren't quite as clear anymore, and I worry that the same thing could happen to future memories. I fear Alzheimer's disease and such things as could take those memories from me...If we forgot each other somehow, would we find each other again? Are we ineffable—soulmates, even?—or are we simply a product of circumstance? Will we always remember what drew us together? It's like an R. Bach quote I'll paraphrase: "Why do I love you? Because you remember!"
The film also left me wondering whether people's fundamental tendencies really do keep them doing the same things over and over again and whether that's escapable or not, as it could go either way in that particular film. Fundamental tendencies, y'see, have been a big question mark with me since I got on my Calvinism kick last semester, so this was highly relevant to my slow train of thought on the subject. It also get me yearning to become unconscious to the workings of my life, as my very self-consciousness about all of this serendipity and the like makes it less full of wonder.
As far as rehearsal went earlier, I've learned something about my playing, I think: I play clarinet a hell of a lot better after playing alto for awhile, and it's gotten, as I may have mentioned before, to the point where, oddly enough, I play alto better than clarinet.
I love seeing movies in a theater, I've realized—while I'm not sure it's worth that much money, it's still a different experience than, say, sitting here in front of my computer watching 'em. Insofar as all the times I enter a movie theater are tied together with each other, it's rather exciting, or at least such experiences have the potential for excitement lingering about, which is enough to make 'em salient for me. I wonder if in some alternate lifetime, one in which I were exposed to more movies earlier on, I might've become a screenwriter or something...then I wonder if that lifetime might just be this one. While I rather suck at fiction writing—I'm too conscious of what I'm doing, in a lot of cases, to make it work—perhaps screenwriting or playwriting could be my thing.
A lot of things have been constellating for me—impulses, thought patterns, trains of thought, ideas, and actions that have been trickling together for weeks and months—in just this short span of a couple days, and I like it. I surely romanticize things...and that's fine with me.
I like adventures. I like continued existence. I like serendipity and kismet. Here's hoping things continue to work out according to plan, whichever plan that may be.
No, You Can't Have A Pony. (Not Yours)
This is hilarious and sad at the same time:
[five minutes later] I'm still chuckling in a pathetic sad way over this picture, just like I do every time I look at it. It's so funny...yet so sad, 'cause she can't have a pony...but so funny...
Edit 1: It's 5:20 a.m., and I'm going to sleep. Had a fantastic conversation with Austin for the last hour or so that hit on all possible relevant themes from the past coupla weeks or so. Conversations like that remind me why I came here—to meet extraordinary people like Austin.
Edit 2: I didn't really go to sleep. I lied. I got outside and decided it was nice out, so I walked over to main campus and watched the sunrise from the steps of Brookings. I got back home around 6:19 a.m. and went to sleep.
Got a letter from the Girl Scout council asking me to think about being a camp counselor this summer. I didn't realize I could still apply for it this late in the spring! The request makes sense, though, considering that I'm considered to be a council volunteer/Adult Girl Scout by virtue of being in Campus Girl Scouts, and also considering how strongly Indigo, Rainbow, and others have been urging me to apply—there's apparently a big counselor shortage these days.
Sigh. I've been walking around for a few days now in a state of nature-appreciating, camp-missing melancholy/euphoria. I even requested a couple of books from the library related to camp and Girl Scouting...and dug up the portion of my CIT notebook that I have here...and looked for camp people online.
It's occurred to me that a lot of the collections I've been building over the years, including my CD collection, my T-shirt collection, my collection of dress-up clothes, etc., the desire for which I attributed to the intricacies of being an older sister and questing for gnosis in an earlier post, may actually have taken shape during CIT I, when I realized that wearing flashy, distinctive mixtures of clothing was a great way to get campers' attention and keep them interested in what I had to say. My desire for a good sturdy mountain bike also stemmed from camp, when I had a crummy racing bike, which really didn't work well with the gravel on the roads to Manor House, Skyview, Kiamecia, and The Glen. Part of creating my own website, too, was camp-related—I wanted to create a repository of camp songs and CIT notebook observations. (I still want to do that!) As much as I credit MSA with changing my life, camp did, too, to a great extent. My current enduring love of spontaneity and spectacle, for instance, are definitely things that I picked up at camp and nurtured through subsequent summers.
Even with all that I've done over the course of the past five years, I've still considered going back to camp every summer. I really do want to go back, just like I still want to be an RA at MSA—and perhaps there's still time enough to do both. This summer is out, but perhaps the next two summers could be devoted to camp, with the summers during grad school devoted to MSA. There's a thought. I wonder whether returning to camp and/or RAing at MSA could provide that next MSA-style revelation I've been theorizing is necessary to pull me through things...
I worry, though, about being able to pull myself away from the flow of technology and online responsibilities. Can I, at this point, go without technology for a summer? I'd pretty much have to shut down my email account and blog for the summer. My Jablog moderating duties would be impossible to fulfill. (Though by the time I'd actually be able to go back to camp in another year or so, perhaps the order of things here at Jablog will have changed, too, such that I'm not the only person qualified to answer a lot of the questions we get.) I wonder if I would need to keep the same camp name, "Koi," that I had during CIT I. So many campers can't spell it right...though I do like the name.
Possible solutions to a few of the above problems, I suppose, include keeping a "camp journal" that I could blog later; maintaining correspondence via letters, rather than email; and actually picking up a phone every once in a while. My "24s" (24-hour days off) could be strategically planned so I could actually see people at least once or twice in the summer—which, as things are now, is really about all I've come to expect in a given summer. I also worry, though, that I'm just too out of shape for camp—would I be able to make it through demanding 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. days or keep up with campers?
One of the great things about camp, though, is that while things you do there matter, there's also lots of room for flamboyant silliness. As far as things mattering goes, I remember situations during my month as a CIT where counselors attending to things in a timely manner kept disasters from occurring. When you're a counselor, you matter to the dozens of girls you come in contact with in the dining hall and in the unit. You also have to document everything and make sure you haven't left anyone behind or missed subtle interactions between girls. Such responsibility and autonomy as a counselor can be rather frightening and overwhelming—hence why counselors come to value their "personal time" so much, because such time alone is necessary to stay sane and functional. (Heh...perhaps I should apply more things I learned at camp to my existence here at the university, neh? That last one there is one I've been forced to relearn the hard way.) Such responsibility, though, makes it better when you get to be silly and use your marching-band voice singing songs at the top of your lungs...or get to make snow cones...or go swimming...or draw silly pictures...or ride horses...or braid hair...or lead long lines of campers around...or head/foot tables...or run haunted houses...or put on a skits, etc. Those are the good times...
Edit: In more recent news, Jason and Erin may be making me a talking pony (Schizo!Pony?), which will say things like, "Come, Margaret, play with me!" "I WANT TO KILL THOSE WHO PARTY LATE AT NIGHT ON THE FOURTH FLOOR!" and "Here, kitty kitty..."
MD (07:39:17 PM): It might be Erin's old Bride Pony. With a new paint job.
MD (07:39:23 PM): And solder.
Need I mention that this rocks quite a bit? The engineer, on the other hand, thinks the pony should say more pony-like things, like "I want to eat some grass. I am a pony." I think it's pretty hilarious either way.
"Say, here's my humble request, in the spirit of Freecycling: If you or someone you know is ending up with thousands or hundreds of unused points, can't sell 'em, and can't use 'em up by the end of the year, please consider simply donating some to me gratis. This isn't a request out of greed—on the contrary, I'm in desperate need of points. I'm at about $265 right now, which won't last me much longer.
I tried requesting more on the website so it would just charge it to my student account, but it hasn't worked yet, so I may have to visit Bon Appetit and bug them about that. The thing is, though, I know for a fact that there are hundreds of students here who come nowhere near using up all their points, and the profits go straight to dining services and the university. I can't offer you money—I don't even have enough right now to go out to eat, as I have no bank account or anything saved—but if you or someone you know is so inclined as to let me have some points that will otherwise go unused, let me know.
(And yes, I do indeed have wonderful suitemates and friends who will probably hook me up with a meal or two if it really ends up being necessary, but practically speaking, I know there are people who are simply letting hundreds of points go to waste, so I'd like to use those points if I can.)"
I've always been told that if you want something, you ask for it—the results of such an honest approach can be surprising. A lot of times, simply requesting something is enough to make it so people are willing to grant you that and more. We'll see if that holds true with this request; university students in general seem to me to be a bit less open to unorthodox ideas than students in other places are, so it may just end up that I get a bunch of anonymous replies telling me to fuck off. [shrugs] We'll see...
Of course, if anyone reading this has points to donate to my cause, please let me know.
I visited the forums, though, and tried to find threads that addressed the connection problems I was having. I wasn't getting much more than 10 search results for any given search—and that's when I got results at all—nor could I browse other users' files. I reinstalled the thing several times, to no avail. (Part of the problem may have been that in the past few months, a lot of people dropped Soulseek in favor of things that worked.) At one point, I added entries to my hosts file that the Soulseek forum moderators said were supposed to help Soulseek run by defining the correct IP for each server, since their old server had been taken over by a renegade German spyware company.
Well, it sure didn't work—what it did do was make it so I couldn't even ping the server or connect to slsknet.org at all. I asked about this and was literally cursed out by indignant forum moderators, who said it was obviously a problem on my end, then asked (in a private message, of course) if I knew how to type an address into a web browser. Sure, it turned out that it was in fact a problem on my end, as I now know, and I suspected that at the time, anyway—I just didn't know what the problem was. Their comments didn't help me figure that out.
The utter condescension I got, though, from people running a filesharing service that caters to the dumb masses was amazing. [shakes head] I know Soulseek purports to be for users of more discerning taste, those who are looking for eclectic things...but that's not how these things work out. Discerning tastes don't guarantee that one has vast technical knowledge or "power user" status. Further, I don't see a whole lot of people queueing to download Famoudou Konate, taiko drumming, or Blue Öyster Cult from me. Most people I get are looking for Weezer, Ayumi Hamasaki, or the Foo Fighters, to give a few examples of how commonplace the stuff people want is.
On with the story, though. All the while, over the past few months, I was reading, via the Soulseek blog, about new release candidate builds provided for download that I couldn't get, since I couldn't get to slsknet.org. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten about the reconfigured hosts file, or I could've fixed that problem right off. The hosts file problem finally clarified itself in my mind as I fell asleep last night, so this morning I fixed it and saw the front page of slsknet.org for the first time in months.
The real breakthrough, though, occurred last night, as I realized that I could probably find an alternate download location for these new builds. Sure enough, a German site had the 153 release candidate and an experimental 154 build. I installed version 153 and, lo and behold, it works! My much-cherished Soulseek works again, no thanks to the Soulseek forum moderators.
Edit: Here's an interesting article I found when looking to see if Soulseek had yet become an RIAA target. The author discusses Soulseek's status as a haven for nonmainstream music, asking mainstream music aficionados to find someplace else to look, lest they incur the wrath of the music industry. Right on.
I feel like making an example of someone else while I'm at it, namely this guy I vaguely knew from the dorm last year. I read his blog, with its unmodified template, tiny font, etc. from time to time, and it's generally okay, though unspectacular. The guy's generally okay himself. (Isn't that great, how I pass judgment on a person's entire life in one sentence? Quite Christian of me, really...) Reading one of his recent posts, though, right after looking at a few people's shared iTunes libraries, reminded me of why I hate most people's taste in music.
Said post had one of those memes of the type that are widely copied, namely "My Top 10 Albums of All Time," which in this case is supposedly original. I'll reprint his list here for your amusement:
"My Top 10 Albums of All Time:
1. Incubus - Make Yourself
2. Guster - Lost and Gone Forever
3. Rufus Wainwright - Want One
4. Ben Folds - Rockin the Suburbs
5. The Godzilla Soundtrack (TRUST ME ON THIS ONE)
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way
7. Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave
8. Christina Aguilera - Stripped
9. Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American
10. No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom
Runner Up: Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory, John Mayer - Room For Squares, Dashboard Confessional - The Places You've Come to Fear the Most"
Do you see what's wrong here? I'll give him this: Some of the songs on some of those albums are catchy and worth listening to. Ben Folds and No Doubt come to mind as musicians that have indeed proved their relevance and originality, and Guster is indeed quite catchy, though inconsistently so. I also know that some of my readers would find almost nothing wrong with this list. [shrugs] That's fine—I just think this guy needs a sense of proportion.
Christina Aguilera? The title of that album, Stripped, came up in Adv. Fiction Writing the other day when a girl wrote a story by the same name and wondered whether the connotation of that name being an album title would be a problem. Whether that story title was a particularly good one or not, we agreed that it in a few years, the Aguilera connotation, at least, won't matter—that album will be so unimportant and obscure that you'll need a footnote to explain what it was. John Mayer? Linkin Park? Jimmy Eat World? Rufus Wainwright? Most of these albums have been put out in the last couple years or so and have had about zero impact upon the world of music as a whole. They may sell a lot of albums, but most of these artists provide good examples of what not to do when trying to put together a significant album.
The commentary that accompanies the list is obviously meant to show us how "original" he is, as he notes, "I thought of this one in the shower today.....kinky, I know." Well that's an original thought, associating being in the shower with the term "kinky." I'd never have thought of that. After explaining the concept of listing one's top 10 albums—"Like, CDs you listen to straight through, and could not live without"—he adds this witty aside: "Makes you think, huh?" No, not really, guy. There's a real lack of thought in this process.
As I see it, this guy here has fallen prey to musical shortsightedness. It's almost certain that these albums won't be on his list in 10 years' time—and if they are, then there's something wrong. His friends posted their lists, falling prey to an opposite but equally common problem, namely "Look how eclectic my taste is in music." Their lists, too, contain some recent bands with staying power—No Doubt, Counting Crows, and Ben Folds Five—then a whole lot of crap music like the Dance Hall Crashers, Rosebud, Ozma, and Damien Rice. Then there're the requisite Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel albums, which probably aren't in particularly heavy rotation on their playlists at all—you've gotta look like you're eclectic, though, or lose credibility and coolth.
As for iTunes libraries, I see eight people with shared music on iTunes right now. Let's take a look, shall we?
This first guy is apparently into melancholy, atonal "Generation X elevator music," namely Bob Dylan, Blur, Blondie, Björk, Belle & Sebastian (for this band, think of the really geeky music store employee in High Fidelity who ended up with the chick from Roseanne—he liked them), Beck, The Beatles, Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, The Cure, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, New Order, Joy Division, Pavement, The Pogues, The Police, The Pretenders, Radiohead, The Ramones, The Replacements, The Roots, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Tom Waits, The Velvet Underground, The White Stripes, and Yo La Tengo. We can sum this guy up pretty quickly as one of those "the '80s were better" people who claim to have a handle on "real" rock music.
At least the first guy respects the sanctity of whole albums, though, rather than just collecting a big mix of random pop singles like the next one on the list. This chick has a more "Generation Y pop" plus "the obligatory standards" feel: her collection reads like a Who's Who of the last year in Top 40 music, including Busta Rhymes, Britney Spears, Cake, Christina Aguilera, Clay Aiken, Coldplay, Elton John, Elvis, Fiona Apple, Fleetwood Mac, George Michael, Hanson, Janet Jackson, Jason Mraz, Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Jewel, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, the obligatory few Coltrane songs, Kelly Clarkson, Ludacris, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Maroon 5, Marvin Gaye, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Michael Jackson, Missy Elliot, N*Sync, Natalie Imbruglia, Nelly, Nelly Furtado, Norah Jones, The Pretenders, Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, Sarah McLachlan, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Sublime, Tina Turner, Toni Braxton, Tori Amos, Vanessas Carlton and Williams, Grease, Rent, the obligatory two Veruca Salt singles, Weezer, and Yellowcard. Ugh...
Continuing in this vein depresses me and takes too much time, so I'll quit it. Right there, though, you've got two of the more prevalent types of playlists, full of the stuff they think will make them seem cool and eclectic.
Why do I care about all of this, and what qualifies me to pass judgment on it? Those are the necessary questions, I suppose, ones that I oughta answer to remain credible. Let's see. For one thing, these musical choices are ones that I think show the utter conventionality and short-sightedness of a lot of people our age. They listen to the "latest thing" and forget what came before it. Those who try to be "off the map" and hip/eclectic fail, too, because the smattering of older or more obscure bands they include in their playlists are still part of the conventional scene. That's one of the conundrums of the "society of the spectacle" surrounding the music and entertainment industries—no matter what you do, you're still on the map. You can never really reach the "outside" of the spectacle of consumerism. The Beatles? Simon and Garfunkel? The Rolling Stones? The Beach Boys? Gee, kids, you're really reaching there. While the few people I've cited surely don't constitute a statistically sound sample, they're still pretty representative of the trends I've seen in playlists here at the university. Such slavish, petty desires these young ones have...
"...But here's a neighbor on my right,
An Eager Ass, considered bright;
Asker of questions.... How he'll stand,
With earnest air and fidgy hand,
After this hour, telling you
He sat all night and burrowed through
Your book.... Oh, you'll be coy and he
Will simulate precosity,
And pedants both, you'll smile and smirk,
And leer, and hasten back to work....
'Twas this day week, sir, you returned
A theme of mine, from which I learned
(Through various comment on the side
Which you had scrawled) that I defied
The highest rules of criticism
For cheap and careless witticism....
'Are you quite sure that this could be?'
'Shaw is no authority!'
But Eager Ass, with what he's sent,
Plays havoc with your best per cent..."
Used to be I'd use this piece of the larger poem to describe people like Schotts or Kyle, with their desperate attempts at mau-mauing the rest of class while schmoozing with the teachers. I read the book junior year, after all, when I was in the throes of MSA withdrawal, and the comparison between the Eager Ass and those two seemed quite obvious to me.
Right now, though, it seems to me that the description can be applied quite well to one local Eager Ass himself. As we've seen before, he's such an ardent champion of the University's cause that he'll jump on anyone who dares speak ill of it in the slightest. Today's provocation? A post on the LiveJournal community about how the tulips in a picture that's in a coffee table book about the university seem like they might have been added with computer editing. The poster wasn't making a definite, hard-and-fast claim, but merely speculating about the possibility that such editing had occurred and asking whether anyone else had noticed:
"Go to the bookstore and look at a copy. Open the book to the big picture with the text that says, "In praise of Wayman Crow..." It's towards the front. Someone tell me...are those computer-generated tulips? Because they look unnaturally shiny and the lighting on them is...wrong. I'm going to go with yes, but...what do you think?"
Enter the Eager Ass, university PR man and lapdog, who manages to drop names while showing, yet again, just how deep in the university's pockets he is:
"I know a lot of the pictures look too good to be real, but everything is. The dean's wife actually wrote the book, and when I was over at their house, she told me about a lot of the book, and I know she worked very hard to get some amazing pics."
Perhaps I just want to believe that the Eager Ass is a kiss-ass, gullible git because his style irritates me, or because I'm innately suspicious of university spokesmen and PR people. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive right now due to hormones or some other subconscious influence. He's quite proud of his position as a PR guy, though, what with being a tour guide and an RA and generally doing all he can to ensure he's in good graces with the administration, so it's hard to deny that that probably has an influence on his thinking.
If there's a party line, it seems, he'll disseminate it. While surely people like him are working hard to ensure that our degrees are worth more by vigorously promoting the university's interests, I still can't help but want to see past that to the reality I know lies behind what they're saying. I think it's great that someone noticed something amiss in the carefully constructed façade we've got going here, and it annoys me when students like the Eager Ass, who are paid by the university to wax positive about the place, end up believing everything the administrators spoon-feed them as divinely given truth. Cognitive dissonance may well be at work here, Mr. Psych Major, whether you want to believe it or not.
He thought that was a good thing, and then he offered his hand, saying he was [insert name here, I forgot], a cardiologist here at the university (or Barnes?) in a very thick accent. I told him my name, and he asked what I do here. I said I was studying psych and English, upon which he asked, "Psychic English?" "Oh no, psychology," I said, and he said, "So if I ever need some help with something in psychology, you can help me with that?" "Well, maybe, maybe..." I replied, and he laughed, saying, "You say that with a lot of confidence, yeah?" and I worried that I'd perhaps disappointed him.
Then he said that he'd seen me riding my bike and thought it was amazing, that I'd looked like I was meditating or something, like an angel (hereupon he lifted his arms in a flying kind of way), and that I (or it?) was very beautiful, and if I ever needed anything, he could help. I said, "Well thank you," and I smiled, and he repeated the flying gesture and smiled a lot, then offered his hand again, saying, "I will see you again."
So...that was somethin'. I never really thought I looked particularly angelic or meditational riding my bike, and today I thought I looked strikingly non-angelic, since I hadn't showered, thus had my hair tied back, and was wearing my big gray senior sweatshirt and my black-and-white plaid pajama pants. Perhaps he saw me riding yesterday, when I had showered and had my long blonde hair flowing out behind me in the wind? I was wearing my sweatshirt yesterday, too, though. Anyway, it was interesting. A lot of different thoughts ran through my head while talking to this guy: He has kinda bad teeth...I wonder if he's a stalker...He seems very nice, though...This seems a little serendipitous, or like it should be serendipitous, though I can't see how...Do I really seem like I'm meditating while I ride my bike?...Maybe he's mistaken me for someone else...but I do have a bike...What was his name again?...etc.
1. Such a study would obviously be correlational. That means that there's no direct causal link between sleeping more and dying sooner.
2. Besides the study just being correlational, there are many things that could serve as confounds here. Here's a somewhat involved example: Say someone's doing a lot of manual labor, perhaps as a construction worker. That just might make it necessary for him to sleep more at night in order to recuperate fully from the day's work. Perhaps he drinks a bit before bed or takes a sleeping pill/antihistamine, too, to ease the pain of a day's hard work and help him get to sleep. These things might make it so that guy sleeps more than eight hours—and then the guy might die the next day when he's got a hangover and a crane drops a ton of sand on his head. Voila—excess sleep and death are now both characteristic of this subject's existence.
Should this guy happen to be in the study, say to pick up a bit of extra cash, he's just become another statistic in the correlation between death and excess sleep—yet his sleeping patterns weren't what caused his death. His sleeping patterns were the result of several factors, namely A. being tired from manual labor, B. taking a sleeping pill/antihistamine, which could, the next day, have impaired his judgment, making him more likely to be involved in a fatal accident, and C. drinking alcohol, which, depending on how much he drinks, might have decreased his life expectancy anyway, and which certainly may have decreased his judgment capabilities. You see all the potential problems here?
Then you have other possible confounds, like depression, alcoholism, substance abuse, sleeping disorders, etc., any and all of which might constellate in a given subject to create a condition where s/he'd simultaneously be at higher risk for death and have a greater need for sleep, or at least have drastic changes in his/her sleeping cycle, yet the risk for death and sleep cycle changes wouldn't necessarily have any causal relation.
3. Some people simply need to sleep more, or sleep at different hours, than the mythical "average" subject. (Tangent: To take a point from Peter Ho Davies' story about "the great detective," the most apt murder victim to use for the "perfect crime," an untraceable crime, would be a guy who is average in every way—and that would surely drive up the chances of dying in general, should a criminal exist who would want to commit an untraceable, pointless crime.) The very measurement of an "average" amount of sleep implies that there are people who fall above and below this value.
Now, of course, a given study may have taken these confounds into consideration when recruiting volunteers, or may have at least written them into the results if their volunteer selection wasn't that discerning—but even if that's the case, quoting such studies out of hand to make a thin point about my sleeping habits (or anyone else's habits, for that matter) is rather pointless.
I found a wonderful thing last night as I was getting ready for bed, namely YahooPOPs!, a program that lets you use local mail clients like Thunderbird, Outlook, etc. (anything that supports POP3) to download Yahoo! Mail messages from free accounts, which technically don't provide POP3 support anymore. (I found the program in a list of "The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities," most of which I'm proud to say I use or have at least downloaded installers for.) Hence now I'm accomplishing one of my long-term goals, namely backing up my email, in a fraction of the time it would've taken me otherwise. This may well mean I can finally save my account from the 99-percent-full, brink-of-disaster status it's been hovering at for the past year or so. Thank God for SourceForge.
Setting up YahooPOPs! was a bit tedious at first, as I was attempting to use it with Outlook Express, which I hate with a fiery, burning passion and which doesn't really work. After that I tried Mozilla Mail, since I already had it installed, but it didn't work either. The YahooPOPs! help forum noted that Thunderbird works, so I finally acquiesced and downloaded the thing...and it works perfectly. Bah. (So yes, kids, I'm now using yet another Mozilla/Firefox product. It gets me wondering what they're going to do about Thunderbird's name—will they keep it avian, or make it into something fox-related?)
Since then I downloaded all the emails from a smaller account to test it, as I heard reports of Yahoo! accounts being shut down temporarily after people used the program. It worked, though, and my account wasn't shut down, so I'm currently in the process of downloading 1,000 emails from my main account.
I wonder if I really have exactly 1,000 emails, though. How probable is that?
Edit: I really didn't have exactly 1,000 emails. I have 797 in my inbox and 745 in a personal folder. The value for the maximum number of emails to download, however, was set to 1,000, hence the program's attempts at downloading that many emails. Attempting to do so actually led to my Yahoo! account being suspended for about 45 minutes, as did other attempts at various times throughout the day to download 99 emails, which is supposed to be the maximum number you can download without tipping off Yahoo!'s filters to the fact that you're downloading email via POP3.
Another note: While I'm personally really bored with Bush-bashing cartoons and the like, I have to admit that their popularity has probably given opportunities to thousands of starving cartoonists who'd otherwise have been faced with four-plus years of drawing Gore cartoons for uninterested audiences. At least the prodigious backlash against Bush is fueling one sector of the economy, albeit a small one.
-add a right-hand sidebar which would be invisible to visitors viewing this site through the frame but which would provide more interesting stuff for those who simply reach this through Jablog
-add a referrer script/referrer links and/or recent playlist from AudioScrobbler (in right-hand sidebar)
-have the access graphs actually be able to display modes other than just the past 30 days
-somehow create a JTL- or RSS-powered "friends" page, à la LiveJournal (that's one of the few features I do like about that service) that's perhaps something along the lines of Planet Jablog, only in a page, rather than a separate account altogether (not that I don't have my share of extra accounts I could put to use for that purpose)
-create some sort of biographical page (linked in right-hand sidebar) for those not lucky enough to be viewing this blog through the frame
-work on fixing those templates that don't seem to work quite right, specifically All Business.
I've gotten into this cycle of online checking, which sounds somewhat OCD-ish, but I'm not sure it's a real problem. It's not necessarily as irrational as some other compulsions I could have, like continually checking to see if the stove/oven has spontaneously ignited itself or developed gas leaks. My checking has a slight basis in reality, at least—if you check the same stuff enough, especially things with dynamic content like message boards, blogs, and email inboxes, you're bound to get a hit at some point.
As I understand it, computers and the Internet really don't have as much importance in most people's lives as they do in mine—but how much easier would things be if you could, with a bit of finagling, manage to pull up information amounting to a dossier of sorts on whoever you wanted? It's another fulfillment thing, I suppose, wanting to feel like I'm just so clever for being able to divine secrets no one else can. [shrugs] More questing for gnosis, perhaps.
I suppose it's rather disconcerting to know that people can find you if they so choose, though, as that's a bit counter to the anonymity that's held up as being somewhat core to the whole Internet endeavor. Look at the title of this very blog, for instance—my very paranoia at being found altogether too easily after these past few years of near-constant Internet connection and linking led me to dub everything "B27." (Which was an utterly futile effort, really, since Google's indexing is still largely based upon incoming links and the movements of angels through the ether. Most of the current links to me, at least, still have my name plastered all over 'em, so as I don't know what the angels are doing, I'm apparently not getting much out of this name-changing endeavor besides the catchy name.)
I'd still like it a lot, though, if I could use the Internet to find out, say, what happened to that one guy who used to be in such-and-such class with me in such-and-such year, or where that chick went when she graduated the year before me and moved to such-and-such place. The Internet's promise is paradoxical, as others have surely mentioned before—we're promised both ultimate anonymity and ultimate access to information. I'm guessing this is only an apparent paradox, as these quantities surely move in utterly different planes, but it still leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I'd like to be "known," to be (in)famous in some sense, and the Internet seems to be a good way to achieve such status—but the costs of such infamy are as of yet unknown. Once one is known, there're problems of audience and censorship, among other things. It's far easier to remain utterly anonymous as one of the 50,000 people with poorly coded, derelict, and abandoned AOL Homesites than to get attention. One of the few proven ways to remain relatively anonymous online, y'know, so long as you're not a name-brand pundit, is to just stay off the Internet altogether.
Then again, once these things are done, all these piddly details take on lesser significance. My name has been out there for a good four years now—it's really too late to do anything about that. I think I used to take more care with my name, though, than I have in the past however-long. (The "past however-long" being a term that largely refers to the period of time spanning from approximately September 15th, 2003, until now.) I just wonder what the cost will be of recklessly maintaining this online bastion.
While it's inconvenient for me, perhaps the people I can't find records on are verily better off.
I may end up living a fairly unpopulated existence. I've already shown a real reluctance to get to know many people at this here university, which is in Missouri, and I don't see that changing very much in the future. I just don't like people that much, y'know?
The upshot of all this? I'm not sure. It occurs to me that I might be happy living in Columbia in that not-so-far-off someday. As far as I can recall, I don't have any truly bad memories of the place. I'm generally happy when I'm there. The city itself is beautiful. Of course, I may love the place so much simply because everything I've experienced there happens to have been pleasant. [shrugs] It might be the answer, though.
I woke up literally rolling over to kiss my pillow, then got online only to find that some Missouri Republicans mailing list with my name on it had clogged my inbox, then noticed that a guy had responded to my request for various items on Freecycle by telling me to go to the library if I wanted books. Wonderful.
A side note: Starting next Monday, Campus Girl Scouts will be selling Girl Scout cookies every day in the student center from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. If you want cookies, tell me and give me money and I'll get you some. I'm taking orders...
Anyway, too bad for all you kids who keep coming here to find the crack—the two words you're looking for are "bit torrent." If it turns out that you got here and suddenly lost interest in finding the program after reading my witty brilliance, though, why not start a blog with Jablog? It might help you find what you're looking for.
As far as the iTunes idea from last post goes, I did find a program that allows you to pull mp3s from streamed shared songs, namely MyTunes, which was recently removed from Download.com (which has the dumbest URL ever—whose idea was it to change it from the simple download.com to download.com.com?). MyTunes works. Dan was surprised that I didn't ask him, my resident Mac guru, about the idea before posting about it—but he wasn't online. Alas!
Edit: It seems that the author removed MyTunes not just from Download.com, but also from all the other download sites it could previously have been found on. His reason? He "lost the source code." [shakes head]
It's pouring outside so hard that my window's covered in a fogging of fat droplets.
I've seen a lot of talk about LiveJournal cuts lately, with people rudely demanding that friends put cuts into their posts. A LiveJournal cut, for those unfamiliar with the strange customs of that blogging netherworld, is where you put tags on either end of a section of your post you want to hide behind a link. The link then takes you to the comments view of that particular post, where you can see the portion of the post that's been hidden behind the link. People use these "cuts" to avoid overly long posts, which I suppose is fine if you like brevity. Where this becomes a point of contention, though, is where friends pages are concerned.
A lot of LiveJournal users, you see, fanatically check their "friends" page, where all recent posts by people listed as friends of that journal show up. It's a rather convenient thing, to be sure, as then you don't have to go checking however many other journals every day—the posts are all there for you in one place. Problems arise, though, when other users demand that people they decided to add to their own friends page change the form of their posts so the other users don't have to scroll down the page a little farther; they claim that long posts like that "clutter" the page. Heaven forbid that these users have to scroll down the page to avoid reading things their own friends write. [rolls eyes]
Being a rather long-winded person myself, I'm not a fan of people who demand that others "cut" their posts. So you have to scroll—big fucking deal! So they wrote a long post! That doesn't make any fewer posts display on your friends page, nor does it do anything but take up space. The amount of space taken up on a page isn't a huge commodity or anything when colors and boxes and letters—i.e. bits of html—don't cost anything to "print." If you don't like a given friend's posts showing up on your friends page, then defriend them, goddammit! Quit pussyfooting around with your little status symbols: "Oh, look how many friends I have!" As for having to click the link to go to the next page of the friends section if indeed extra-long posts do make it so fewer posts display on a page, how does that hurt you in any way? Oh no, I have to click a link to see the rest of my friends' posts. [waves forearms limply] Whatever shall I do?
If I posted on LiveJournal and one of my supposed friends started telling me that my lengthy posts were too long, I'd do just what a friend did the other day, namely cut the entire post in protest. I'd be pissed off just like he was, considering that it shows a blatant disregard for one's ideas and emotions when someone who's purporting to be a friend demands that you change your posting style to suit them.
As for me, though, I post here on Jablog, and that's not changing anytime soon. Screw LiveJournal.
I heard the first hints of that attitude today, though, talking to the editor and production manager in the newspaper office—when asked if he was going to Coulter's talk tomorrow, the editor replied with something along the lines of "Hell no!" While I know he's got other things going on, like thesis writing, it doesn't bode well that liberals are already dismissing her before hearing her speak or reading any of her writing. I asked the two of them if they'd ever read anything she'd written and neither of them had, despite their skepticism and the production manager's exclamation "I hate that woman!" So it begins all over again...
Anyway, we'll see what happens tomorrow.
Edit: Not much happened tomorrow. The speech she gave focused way too much on Iraq and Kerry and not nearly enough on issues relevant to college students. The only "protest" was some guy who stood up clapping until security escorted him out, and there was the usual [ironic] mumbling about how, "See, this is why I hate conservatives, they always issue blanket statements..." [shrugs] Not exciting.
I should have assignments due more often—I'd blog more.
These are the relevant questions, though:
1. How many people on the university network are using iTunes?
2. Can a given iTunes user on the network here see all of the other users at any given time, or do the vagaries of the network and its "workgroup" system prevent this right now? Is there actually a five-user limit on how many other users you can see and if so, can that be changed?
3. If the workgroup system is preventing all iTunes users from seeing each other due to being in different workgroups, could we simply ally ourselves with a new workgroup in our respective network settings and then see all the other iTunes users?
4. If all of the aforementioned possible problems could be worked out, wouldn't this be a viable system for sharing music here at the university?
5. I've read varying accounts of iTunes sharing—some say that it's simply streaming the file, hence not actually possessing an actual copy of the file on one's computer, while other accounts say there are ways around this limitation. Could we make this work as a viable file-sharing system via a few tweaks?
In other news, apparently my blog has reached No. 5 on Google for the term "DeadAIM 4.5 crack." I wonder what anomaly of Google's algorithms allowed that to occur merely on account of my posting about finding the thing.
Anyway, I'm not giving out information on how I found said crack except to say two words: "bit torrent." I purposefully chose not to include a link in the original post. While I realize it's hard to find the thing—it took me a good few days of searching—I still don't think I need the liability of giving out links to places that distribute such items. If I can find it, you can find it. Enough said.
Such vanity on my part. But at least I don't go around whining, "Go see my site...it's really neat...really," at people anymore, then being disappointed when they won't visit it. I try not to do that, anyway. The blog format does tend to keep people coming back, anyway, as it's more likely to be updated and in any way relevant than a website proper. That's a problem in itself, though—the need for reassurance that people are reading and the need to be listed and get hits may well be counterproductive to the whole endeavor of listing my authentic thoughts, as we've well seen. The problem of audience is still there.
[Is interrupted by a German woman asking which of these two forms—"March 11-12, 2003" or "March 11th-12th, 2003"—is the proper form for that range of dates in a formal letter in America. I'd suppose either would work, though the latter is more awkward, neh?]
[shrugs] I thought also about the [fairly obvious] fact that should I ever apply for something from this point on, searching for my name online will bring up this record of my weariness about a whole range of things. It made me think about finding some useful pseudonym to work under, then changing all the titles of my various sites so they don't include my full name, but rather that pseudonym. The most obvious pseudonym that comes to mind, of course, is this very username, limeonaire. I already use that for a lot of things. It's not the most eloquent name, though. My next instinct is to come up with some catchy, trend-whore name like Lotus Ninja or Andariel or something similar...but that's probably just what I should avoid.
[shudders] Unclean...must wash off the stain of imagined trendiness...
So I went to rehearsal for Cabaret today, and yet again, I feel utterly outclassed and sort of useless. I'm not outclassed, mind you, in terms of overall tone and playing ability, but outclassed so far as the quality of my instrument, quality of past instruction, and depth of my knowledge goes. I know what I've done before and what I've had to figure out. I can play alto music on clarinet and transpose flute to clarinet on the fly, for instance, but I don't have a $1,000-plus wood clarinet, nor have I ever taken private lessons—and I don't plan to ever take private lessons if I can help it. I don't have time to completely relearn how to play and "fix" my embouchure, which is what I suspect is what would be required were I to try taking lessons. I may at some point get a wood clarinet, but considering how much my education is costing at this point and the fact that I'd rather buy a car than a clarinet when I do get a real paying job, I doubt that'll happen anytime soon.
I'm a good player, but unsophisticated, I suppose. I don't use Vandoren reeds—I tried them once or twice and hated 'em, found 'em impossible to play on. I know, those are supposed to be "broken in," but I don't need that, y'know? Mitchell Luries and Rico Royals work just fine right out of the box. I generally dislike all the faux sophistication horn players pretend to have, what with obsessively adjusting their ligatures and talking about their embouchures and pulling out and pushing in, most of which usually does a whole lot of nothing.
As far as music goes, I can play pretty much anything I see, but I usually just hope that no one asks me what key something is in, as I was never officially taught how to figure that out, as far as I can recall. I never needed to be able to do that. The whole atmosphere there just annoys me, though. They all talk in very technical language, as they're fluent in that sort of idiom...whereas I just play. I've always gotten along fine with the clarinet and alto I own (which only cost $85 and about $250, respectively) and my ability to sight-read. My sight-reading is rusty right now after nine months off between the end of Pippin and now, but I can still hold my own pretty well...
I get the same kind of feeling when I'm among university music students as I did when I was at the music camp at the Webster University School of Music the summer before freshman year with these people who knew people from years of lessons there and at COCA and places like that...All-State Band...that sort of thing. While they were talking about doubling on oboe and crazy stuff like that, I was just struggling to read the 32nd-note runs the master class instructor shoved in front of me.
Again with rehearsal, though, the flute chick still annoys me—sure, she can play incredibly well, she can sight-read in six sharps or flats with no hitches and has a great tone—but she's weirdly antisocial. She acts like it's a waste of her time to show up at rehearsals and hang out with the other players and deign to listen to me stumble throught sight reading. I know she's one of the director of bands' golden girls, so to speak, so perhaps that explains it. Maybe all this jazzy music is "below" her.
As for being antisocial, I don't talk in rehearsal very much, but it's for much the same reason I don't say a lot in Christianity class—I'm not confident that I'm very fluent in the idiom at hand, so I shut my mouth and try not to make much noise. I'm not very good at being social in any sense anymore, when it comes down to it. I sit here in front of my computer too much, perhaps. Then again, I don't really like most people...but eh. This has all been said before.
One last thing: this article dissing iPod owners. I like it.
2. I came up with this idea on the shuttle to Target with one of my roommates the other day, namely that of the flag farm. The flag farm would be just that—a farm to grow baby flags into bigger flags. You'd plant a whole bunch of tiny little flags in the ground and tend them carefully so they become bigger ones. This was inspired by seeing a whole bunch of those little flags the telephone company sticks in the ground to mark things, with about 15 little flags all in one place.
3. My brother is, unfortunately, not as Windows-literate as I'd hoped. Sigh. He's my brother, though, so there's hope for him yet.
4. One roommate took several awesome pictures of another roommate and I dressed up like traffic cones.
5. The third roommate and I are having a "withdrawing from classes" party tomorrow at 6:15 p.m. Anyone who wants to withdraw from a class this semester can do it at that time to show their solidarity.
In other news, my roommate's a mermaid. Personally, I'm a duck, but I don't think there's any antipathy there. The pretty, pretty mermaids can get along with the ducks just fine. There's still the question of whether Nessie is a suitable companion for my mermaid roommate, but I suppose if that doesn't work out she can find her own freshwater lake. She's cool enough to be able to live in any body of water she wants, I think.
Also, DC has now met its demise. What to do?
That said, even though I had my reservations about the editor over the past year, things have turned out pretty well with him in charge. He doesn't have the same warm, super-considerate personality as his predecessor does, so it's been difficult sometimes to know where things stand with him, but in general we've worked things out. He does listen—as much as I've had my complaints, he's worked to fix things I've complained about, and a pretty good rapport has developed between all of us who regularly show up on production nights (him, Liz, and me, plus various copy editors). Things aren't bad. A lot of the uncertainty surrounding his's plans, too, in the beginning most likely came from the fact that we were changing over to the three-day production schedule.
So yeah—it's unfortunate that just about when things have started going more smoothly on production nights, we're going to have this regime change that tosses everything up in the air again. The three staff members I know I can really rely upon at this point are going to be graduating this spring, and I'm not so sure there's anyone left to trust. The only "elder" left from my days as a freshman, I think, is Jon. Everyone else is about to graduate or has already scaled back their time with the paper. I worry about Jon's plans to lessen his "presence" in the office, as much as he and his buddies have tried to reassure us about it. That, at least, is something that's been there as long as I've been here—we've almost always had someone who's in the office every production night who can answer questions and serve as that "familiar face" for anyone who walks in the door.
I also worry that everyone who has faith in my abilities will leave without recommending my services to the next regent, so to speak. I'm hoping someone recognizes my existence and the time I've spent on the paper over the past two years and makes note of it—not because I'm vain, though I may be, but because I'd like to grab a position worthy of my talents and accomplishments thus far. A lot of these news editors are, frankly, silly sophomores, people no older than me whom I don't trust very much. I don't hang out with them; I don't go to their parties; I don't have much of a foothold with them in a social sense. Hence I'm hoping that what the editor noted got through, namely that the people who were actually expressing concerns about production nights and the changes thereof are the ones who were there all the time this year, who made sure that things went well every night, namely him, Liz, and me.
I worry that the people who don't like me or know me (most of the news editors right now) are going to conveniently move me out of the way, especially now that Jon's planning to give veto power, so to speak, to those who grab the senior editor positions. I moved out of the news section proper about a year ago, so right now my best bet as far as staff positions are concerned is finding an associate/managing editor-like position to inhabit, else taking a step back down the ladder into a copy-editor spot. Perhaps, though, I'll finally be able to grab a spot as opinion editor or online editor—those were the positions I tried for this spring, only to be denied in favor of those senior to me (which does make sense). In any case, I'm going to be a junior next fall, and hope I can wrest a spot of some sort out of the hands of those who would just like to see me disappear, else I'm going to end up phased out like several of my staff reporter comrades-in-arms. They all ended up quitting the paper last year after they realized that too much was being demanded of too few people, especially among staff writers for the news section, with too little regard afforded writers who really are talented.
Those are my thoughts right now, after hearing Jon's attempts to explain his vast plans for restructuring staff positions and production schedules for next year during the editor-in-chief interview process. I've definitely got reservations, and a lot of them concern whether I'll even have a place in the hierarchy next year. We'll see...
To some extent the blog is a good thing, as it allows me to keep my writing skills in shape and remain outspoken—but I also get myself into a lot of trouble this way, as we've all seen. It's troublesome to be known. It's troublesome to have people read your opinions and take them to mean things you hadn't dreamed they could mean. Perhaps it's better just to internalize a lot of the things I think, letting them out only in IM conversation and at rare moments in person. I started this blog last semester, and it obviously didn't help me escape my sorrows in any measurable way. I still fucked up a lot of things—yea, more things than usual—in those few months. There's no causal link here, though, and I doubt writing in the blog really did anything more than exacerbate my already-present tendencies toward extreme procrastination, at least as far as academics are concerned.
I suppose part of the problem is that I use this more as an "idea log" of sorts than as a journal—plain-Jane journals generally bore me, especially the ones that are written by me—so instead we get all the ideas and news that strike me as worth writing about. These ideas usually end up concerning ponies, people I dislike, and ideas and events I dislike or take issue with. Ponies are almost invariably a pretty safe bet, albeit one that gets me teased, but the latter items are what cause me trouble.
I could just keep these things to myself and my few trusted confidantes, but what fun would that be? Writing for the limited public has the advantage of letting people see the particularly worthy ideas I come up with, albeit with all the semiworthy ideas keeping them company. Perhaps it was better when I'd keep all but the very best ideas to myself, then write those good ideas as opinion articles and submit them to the newspaper. This year my opinion article output has become severely stunted, and that may well have to do with having this ready venue for all my outpourings. Then again, I also grow increasingly disillusioned with the newspaper and its staff, methods, and audience, so that doesn't really help, either.
My online reading diet has changed considerably since last year, too. Whereas at this point in 2003 I was immersed in the vagaries of the skinning/emulation community at Aqua-Soft and moderating/promoting the MSA Invision board, most of the sites I regularly check and contribute to now are either blogging- or MLP-related ones. I find myself continually missing these bits of myself that I've shed across the last couple of years. All this compromise and change takes its toll.
So what do I do? I'm going to keep the blog, but that doesn't stop me from lamenting what I've become. I used to be better than this, quicker and more tactful, more widely talented, more understanding. Sure, I've maintained a bit of continuity with who I was in high school, yea even surpassed myself in a few areas, but a lot of times I really think it's not enough. I feel like I'm in decline. When does the decline end? When do I get myself back? My guess is that I'll have to fight myself for it, even once I manage to escape the university.
"I'm sympathetic to your position + concerns, + very much hope that Prof. Bourg + I can make the class helpful. However, we're going to need more work from you—meaning that you'll need to make more of an effort to dig deep into the readings. Best + Kellner may seem too sweeping, but they offer a lot of material that you could have used while undertaking this assignment."
What makes no sense is that at the point when I wrote the paper, that was the only class whose reading I actually was caught up with—if I didn't cite the reading much, that was because the assignment didn't seem to call for that so much as an exposition of my opinions, thoughts, and feelings about postmodernism and the class up to that point. The assignment called for more opinion essay than formal academic paper, as far as I understood it. Alas, I got a B on this particular effort, which was rather disappointing.
Know what? I'm a hammerhead shark. I make no sound. I have no bones. My skeleton is made of cartilage. My wide head helps me swim, see, and hear really well.
Also, Tyler finally got the stuff together to make Bling Bling, the pimpin' panda. This is the quest we were on last time he came to town, but we didn't find enough stuff to completely outfit the bear. Now, though, his panda has all the proper accoutrements a panda needs to be totally pimped out!
Edit: The replies I received to this comment just make me utterly sick at heart. It's hard to believe that anyone would twist my words out of proportion to the point they have. I feel, as I noted in another comment on the blog, as if I'd been invited inside for a nice discussion then bashed over the head with a chair. I feel like I was entrapped into something that turned out to be not at all the intelligent, reasoned debate I'd turned out for. [shakes head] Enough of that.
I don't really feel like getting into this (I say, as I get into it), but I want to point out that actually, the jury is still out (and probably will be out for years to come) on whether or not one can actually choose one's sexuality. It's just not clear. What is fairly clear, though is that some people choose to be homosexual and some do not. Sexuality is more nebulous than simply are-you, aren't-you. It's both a physical mode of existence linked to desire and a way of identifying oneself.
Also, let's say, hypothetically, that what you say is true and people can't choose—even then, they still don't have to choose exhaustion, hate, and alienation. There are options, neh? One can move to another place. One can live with other people. One can do a lot of things. Staying closeted is deprecated, but it's always a temporary (or permanent, if that's their choice) option—and in some circumstances it's the better one. (No, no, I'm not saying that everyone who's gay should stay closeted and we should never talk about such things and blah di blah. I'm just saying it's an option—which contradicts your intimations that homosexuals have no other option besides pain and suffering.) Even more subtly, there's the option to only selectively out oneself to friends and acquaintances who will understand—there's definitely room for tact and selectivity in such choices.
My point? In some sense, there is almost always a choice, regardless of whether someone is "born that way" or not. You have a choice who you tell things to. You have a choice where you live. You have a choice to be rational about the whole thing. There's no need to run around shouting "I'm gay! I'm gay!" unless you simply want to be confrontational. Most homosexuals don't go up to people they've just met and say "Hi, my name's so-and-so, and I'm gay," for the same reason that I don't walk up to every person I meet, male or female, and say, "Hi, I'm Margaret. I'm obviously female, I'm heterosexual, I'm a Capricorn, and I like to [insert pastime here]. If you'd like, I can summarize my sexual history for you as well." It's unnecessary information, inappropriate to the situation, in a lot of contexts, and making a big deal about it is an imposition.
Another point, which follows from that—I have a few gay friends who think that all this uproarious demanding rights that's occurring right now isn't the way to go, that in fact all it's doing is glamorizing/making extremity of the whole idea. They agree that it's a good thing that gay marriage be allowed, and it's also a good idea to let the general public know that an imposition is occurring, that people are being denied a right—but perhaps all this clamorous shouting isn't the only way to go about taking steps forward, neh? Many say the religious right is reactionary—so why provoke them when you know that they'll simply lash out right back? Instead, why not try a bit of subtlety, a bit of (non-anti-Biblical) reasoning, and a bit of tact?
Instead of attacking the Bible, an approach that immediately turns off a lot of people, religious or not, why not just accept the fact that yes, the Bible exists, yes, people believe in it, and then work from there? Churches can define marriage however they want—that's not stopping anyone from passing legislation giving civil unions the name "marriage." You're arguing contradictory points, in that what you want is the state to call it marriage, neh? If that's what you want, don't pick on religion, saying that they're the ones "keeping us down," so to speak. These are completely separate things, and you're not going to change the minds of the religious right by attacking the Bible. It's not as if anyone has written the Ten Commandments into secular law—the influence of religion in the U.S. is more subtle than that.
The problem you will run up against, however, which I talked about a while back here, is that our supposedly secular representatives aren't always separating their religious consciences from their political ones. That's something that we're going to have to take stock of...but I'm not exactly sure how we'd go about it. You can't force people to vote against conscience, regardless of how they derived that conscience.
[[shrugs]] Anyway, I'm not a big passionate advocate of any side in this debate, but I figured those points might be instructive.
First, there's this dispute on Alex's blog. I'm nothing if not thorough. Here's what I think about laundry:
"While it annoys me that people leave crap in dryers/washers too long, it seems to be a problem that's not confined to members of either sex exclusively. Guys and girls here seem to be pretty equally inconsiderate. I generally just take their stuff out, fold it, and put it on top of whichever machine it came out of or (here in the dorm) on top of the upright washer on the end. I could be inconsiderate and throw their stuff around, but then again, I'm one of those people who takes up four-plus washers/dryers at a time myself, so I figure that a little courtesy goes a long way. Perhaps if I'm nice to their stuff, they'll think twice about messing around with mine. (Not that they know it's mine, which is why I've really gotta question the idea that people can actually tell that one person is taking up more than one dryer—how could you possibly tell?—but nonetheless, perhaps people will figure out that that's the thing to do.)
As for touching other people's laundry, 1. if I'm touching it, it's been washed, 2. if it's been washed it's probably clean, and 3. someday I'll most likely have to do family members' laundry when I have a family of my own, at least until the kids are old enough to do their own laundry, hence I think this squeamishness is really rather misplaced. I personally tend to think that a lot of our promiscuous friends here are probably more diseased than the general population, but nonetheless, laundry is laundry.
As for the selfishness of taking up four dryers with four loads of laundry, that's actually pretty necessary around here, as the dryers aren't terribly efficient. You oughta know that. If I'm willing to spend the money to wash and dry four separate loads of clothing at once, I think I'm entitled to the time and space."
Next, here's the recent dispute with Ben on darkmachina's blog. For the lazy (and for the record), here's my pseudo-conservative apologetic:
"Well, OK, as I noted, perhaps we don't want it exactly like it was then, but you've got to see that being able to believe in things and have some sort of faith in something may well be better than what we've got now, neh? While sure, it seems like we're more open about 'scandalous' things these days, there's still a good bit that's not uncovered even now, so in that respect I really don't think we can say things are that much better currently than they were 'back then.' People are still oppressed all over the world, so apparently the things we're championing as 'enlightened'—our rampant commercialization and secularization, Big Business, and whatnot—aren't necessarily the answer to things, either. In the grand scheme of things we're now seeing a lot of disaffected, disillusioned people in this country. Faith and ideals are subjugated to the mores of pop culture and Janet Jackson's breast.
Anyway, it's not possible right now, as far as I can see, to actually return to the sort of time where, as you say, anyone who wasn't a WASP was persecuted along with blacks/minorities/women. I'm pretty sure we're not going back to that, as there are a lot of forces in this society fighting against getting to anywhere that remotely resembles that. What we're talking about is, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong, DM), the fact that even using the word 'morals' today can be enough to get you laughed out of a news conference—or perhaps the fact that there are news conferences in the first place, where before you'd have face-to-face interviews. Where perhaps before there was once too much innocence, too much blind faith placed in certain 'inexorable' truths, today we have too little innocence and too little faith in things working out. Being allowed to question things, have different hair styles, etc. is a great thing, but I think we can preserve that freedom of thought without this massive bulldozing of culture that's taking place.
Oh, and as for using Hitler as an example, yeah, that's dramatic and all, but the man was essentially an anomaly. While lots of people talk about so-and-so being 'just like Hitler,' that's really an out-of-hand comparison. His talk of going back to "the old times" was a call to German sentimentality, a form of insidious propaganda. Perhaps he wanted a return to the 'old ways,' but his tech-savvy regime wasn't exactly running for the highlands. Now, the part of the comparison that's at all valid is that yes, the U.S. used similar propaganda to call citizens to 'fulfill their duty' and trust the government. Nonetheless, I don't think I'd mind living in a time where I could at least feel sure of something, rather than having the rug pulled out from under my feet by the continually jabbing media and the wool pulled over my eyes by a government that insists it's being honest. The government today is probably far less honest than the governments of yesteryear, only it has new ways of manipulating the media into believing that it's telling the unadulterated truth. Whichever regime we're under, we're still being manipulated.
I'd just like to be able to believe in something without being laughed at and called a fundamentalist. I'd like the government to stop lying. I'd like to be able to make my way in the world without fighting ridiculous, complicated tax codes. I'd like Big Business to stop imposing its will upon me. I'd like a lot of things, but of those things, only the first one is at all likely at this point. What I'd like is a return to some of the simplicity of life. I'd like to be able to disappear and live somewhere in the middle of nowhere (not that I'm going to, but I like the idea of it) without a zip code or post office or news being piped into my house. I like the idea of learning a trade and being able to take an assumed name if I want. These things could only happen, though, in a society that gives the government those few rights which belong to the government and renders everything else unto the citizens."
That's it for now. I think I win. I'm getting good at decimating all possible arguments with the least words possible, if I do say so myself...
Does anyone know what the hell Josh meant in his letter to the editor today with the sentence, "I seriously doubt that the conversational climate surrounding one's sexual intimacy doesn't get any less chilly as we all get older." Triple negatives, anyone?
People so often like to assume we're part of this grand new cultural paradigm—most of these cultural turns we're taking, though, just aren't worth celebrating. The music industry, for instance, and its related phenomena are so crass. Apparently, one's not allowed to like music these days without also liking nudity on stage, multiple body piercings, too much jewelry, leather clothing, etc. If you claim to like rock 'n' roll, according to the emails I get from RollingStone.com that I can't seem to stop getting (I've unsubscribed from them more than three times now), I obviously like "phat jamz," Janet Jackson, the White Stripes (whoever they are), and other unsavory things by dint of being on their email list. Another rule—those who like rock 'n' roll aren't allowed to spell, capitalize, punctuate, or use proper grammar, as those are things reserved for corporate suits—never mind the fact that if you play rock 'n' roll you can't get a job without dealing with such people. The "industry people," however, like to downplay that aspect of things, pretending that the money they use to buy the fuel in that "phat" car they're driving while "pimpin' out" and poppin' ecstasy really came from some healthy grassroots movement of fans whose undying love will magically make them millionaires so they can go save the whales. Sure, sure, I sound like someone's parents, putting air quotes around words like "phat" and "pimpin'," largely 'cause those words aren't really current anymore. (That was kind of the point of my using them, though.)
The big idea here is the rife hypocrisy of these supposedly "authentic" musicians who wear whatever is deemed cool by Rolling Stone, who promote their music through inarticulate emails from "e-team" leaders (hint hint, Evanescence) every time their "new" video from an album that's been out for a year is about to appear on MTV, and who, like a lot of musicians here at the university, believe that the unsavory, drug-addicted aspects of "the biz" are integral to their credibility as musicians.
One more annoyance: I read a few blogs that unfortunately happen to be located on Xanga. I even signed up for a Xanga myself (just like I signed up for a LiveJournal) so I could leave comments on the system, as only users are allowed to comment. That in itself, along with the not-so-subtle Xanga branding that appears all over its users' blogs (just like with LiveJournal and Blogger—there are real reasons I didn't blog until Jablog got going this fall), is annoying enough—but then there are the users! I hate the fact that most people automatically leave two eProps along with each comment on a Xanga blog. The system, you see, automatically checks the radio button next to "2 eProps"—hence it's one's duty to be discerning and uncheck it, so as not to inflate the [already dubious] value of the eProp. Yet no, no one ever bothers to uncheck the damned things, and it pisses me off. Whenever I actually bother to give eProps on a Xanga, I put one only, so as not to be confused with those who don't uncheck boxes. The whole concept of an "eProp" in and of itself is stupid enough without these people using them incorrectly.
Love this rant about how Movable Type and its associated blogs are the bane of our [collective] existence.
[ducks as another helicopter flies over low, rattling the entire suite] Grr.
Anyway, I'll start at the beginning. I went to the cafeteria for the first time this semester tonight with the Rutledge crowd. I got too much food, per usual, hence was running late to copy edit, per usual, so I got this bright idea—I could take my baked potato with me to keep my hands warm while walking and then eat it upon arriving at the offices. I'd heard of such things being done in the old days, with parents putting hot potatoes in their kids' pockets to take to school with 'em on cold days, etc., so I figured it was worth a shot.
So I took the potato along on my walk through the cold to the offices and it did indeed work as expected, keeping my hands toasty warm. When I got there, I figured I should explain off the bat why I had a potato, and I was rather excited that the thing had kept my hands warm, so I exclaimed, "Potatoes are awesome!" and told them how the potato had kept my hands warm on the journey over. I figured that was self-explanatory, but apparently not. My jaded audience of staffers proceeded to mock me at intervals, telling me I must be "on something" for being excited about a potato.
After awhile I took a bite out of the potato, and when no one seemed to notice that I proceeded to eat about half of the potato like an apple, taking big bites. When I was about two-thirds of the way done and had set the potato down on the photo scanner next to me, the copy editor from Ohio (as opposed to the distinguished senator from Ohio, which is what I think she aspires to be) suddenly exclaimed something to the effect of, "Did you eat that potato?" At this point I was rather annoyed at her constant chatter about boyfriends and ski trips and hot tubs, not to mention her ribbing me about the potato, so I simply said, "No shit." At that point, she got rather flustered, stammering some explanation about her question as I patiently explained that yes, I was eating a potato and no, I didn't have any sour cream or salt or butter or crap, I was just eating a potato, plain and simple.
It was fun to see her so flustered—they never expect emotion, you see, and I'm always purposefully emotionless around them. They don't seem to understand the idea of real passion about things very well, so I don't tell them about things I care about very often. What's great is that if I were more self-possessed and/or sadistic, I probably could've gone on to mock the chick pretty harshly at that point, throwing in something about her favorite state, Ohio (she once wrote an entire essay detailing why Ohio is so great, then made the editor add it to one of the production-night emails to make the staff aware of the "contributions" Ohio has made to this country). As it was, though, she left pretty soon after that and is probably a bit wary of me now, which is fine with me.
Edit: Awesome things I found searching for my own name:
1. The Daily Illini at the University of Illinois reprinted the file-sharing article I wrote that made it to No. 2 last year on the wire service.
2. Someone credited me with coining the word "tragesty" here at Langmaker, most likely as a result of my posting here on metaplasm...Unfortunately, someone got my definition of tragesty in Urban Dictionary deleted, or I'd really be in business...*sigh*
Photoshop image to make: dozens of tiny flutter ponies attacking someone...nibbling their arm to the bone. Or perhaps spidery G3s creeping over someone while they're asleep. Ah...innocently violent ponies. Those are the best kind.
Things that amazed me at the high school today:
1. The sheer pace I must've had to sustain to do all the crazy, amazing amounts of things I did in high school, never seeing the sun all winter long in dawn-to-dusk school days. I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning after being up 'til about 1-something a.m. last night, laid in bed 'til 6:20 a.m. or so, then took a shower and went up to the high school and spent all day and then some up there...I was damned tired by the time I arrived home amid the creeping dusk. There just aren't hours enough in the day to have done all the things I once did.
2. The sheer illiteracy of my former physics teacher's advisees. These kids apparently expect to get by on charm, 'cause they sure as hell can't write worth a damn. He offers his paper-writing help services to anyone who bothers to ask (as well as a few who don't ask at all). This one girl didn't even seem to understand that not only had she not written half of her own paper—her friend Aaron wrote about half of it for her—but that the very first sentence was plagiarized, since she "edited out" the quotation marks. Yet she just kept giggling and saying, "But Aaron wrote that part!" when the teacher marked something in red ink or asked her about the flowery thesaurus language she'd used. Further, this paper had supposedly already been graded, no less, with an A across the top, of all things—it was readily apparent that Mr. Hebberd hadn't even looked at it, which is unfortunately pretty standard for him. [shakes head]
They really don't teach—and never really have taught—grammar there at the high school. (Take this sentence here, for instance—that girl he was talking to would've labeled it ungrammatical just 'cause she doesn't understand the subtleties of the language she speaks, and, in fact, she even speaks ungrammatically—I heard her say "un-good" quite seriously at one point to describe what he thought of her paper.) I remember when Larsen tried to teach us grammar freshman year, with a whole unit on that stuff that we all hated with a passion. Unfortunately, she tried to use preprepared worksheets for some of it, which is always a bad move, as the people who make up preprepared worksheets and workbooks are apparently idiots out to make a quick buck, leaving most worksheets of that sort with nonsensical questions and unexpected answers. So yeah, that didn't really take—luckily, I somehow have a natural sense of grammar. A few teachers have that as well and bother to try and teach it...but the vast majority of kids and teachers there suck at it. Most English teachers there simply have kids read stories and "discuss" them, grading essays on content, not grammar.
Sigh. Such corruption. Some call me a grammar nazi, as I mark up everyone's papers, even those written by otherwise good writers, giving the page an almost pinkish cast after I've bled all over it in red ink, but someone needs to do that! It almost makes me want to become an English teacher so I could reverse some of that—I thought I'd seen bad college writing, but the people with the real problems won't even get into college, as they're really not trying, much less being taught anything.
3. The fact that another one of these young male teachers is running this racket out of the workshop in the basement, selling various snacks and sodas for a profit in some vending machines, with a grocery cart he appropriated from somewhere...
4. Just how friggin' hyper the people in the one-act play were...I got a headache sitting there listening to them prattle on and on about nothing while waiting to do their tech run-through after school. How did I ever stand theater people at all, even for a short time? Ugh.
5. How well-respected and well-liked my brother is...lucky kid. Apparently during D&D Club he makes hats and wears them the entire time, letting other people tell him when to move and what to do. He's apparently getting even better than I was at playing the dunce for comedic effect. My brilliant words of the day? "Hey, look, I have four pairs of feet!" as Beth cowered next to me, hiding behind my awesomecoat—I decided to spread my feet apart so it'd look like I had four feet, which isn't quite the same as four pairs of feet.
It's strange to think that these young kids I know, my freshmen, so to speak, are seniors now. They still look like freshmen to me, and it gets harder for me to tell what age/year people are. I can do it, sure, telling a freshman from a senior, for instance, esp. 'cause the seniors swagger and assign undue importance to everything they do, whereas the freshman haven't yet grasped the importance of existing, much less doing things well...but yeah, they're all young.
I realized that I'm actually rather put off now by the silly sappy things these high-school guys do with their girlfriends, continually cuddling and holding each other and generally coming off as disgusting and obsessive to everyone else in the room. Sure, I used to do that, too—it always used to seem like there was never enough time to be around whomever it was I was going out with, hence I'd do the standard ignoring-what-people-think-for-the-sake-of-PDA thing that most high school couples do—but I broke myself of the habit during MSA, if I remember correctly. I realized that I really do come off better when I'm not always hanging all over a guy when he's around, then mooning about, talking to everyone in earshot about him ad nauseam when he's not, neh?
There's definitely something to be said for avoiding gratuitous PDA whenever possible and being a bit discreet. Such things aren't really done at the university—y'almost never see PDA. Everyone's just "cool" about things—and yes, I think that sort of machismo that guys and girls put on about being "so adult" and "cool" about things is pointless, too, but it does work well with my distaste for major PDA beyond, say, hand-holding or a brief kiss or putting arms around each other's waists while walking. In that sense I think the university way may just be better in general, especially considering what I'm finding out watching these high school kids, namely that it's embarrassing to watch people being that sappy on continual basis. I'm all for spontaneity, but some things labeled spontaneity are really impulses borne of a refusal to acknowledge that one is acting like a star-struck idiot...
I had fun earlier in the physics department, though—Beth and I built a fort out of these big things they use in PT (physical technology?), sticking stool legs in the top of the square pipes mounted on the top of them (they're essentially wooden platforms about 2 feet square, 2-3 inches thick, with big, square metal pipes sticking up from the middle of the top of one side to be used as support for various experiments) and people's coats draped across the top of the stools for a canopy. We stole the teacher's box of sugar and put it in the fort for sustenance, grabbed a physics book (never know when you'll need physics!) and put it in the fort along with a phonebook found in the back room, and hooked a heat lamp to a classy power strip and clamped it onto the underside of one of the stools, providing us with both light and heat. Then we propped big sheets of plywood against the back and sides of it, making the fort inhabitable and sheltering us from those cruel basement winds. Beth and I had a conversation about ponies, and she offered me a couple of her old ones, as the teacher muttered something about college and regressing...
I've lost my speaking voice to an extent, I think. In certain settings I'm still sure on my feet when it comes to speaking my mind articulately and concisely, but socially I've become less adept. Talking on the phone this week reminded me that I'm still pretty good at that, at least, but in person I've been having trouble addressing everyone, not just a select few. I come off more direct now, more willing to say what I really think—so that's good, but I think I've lost a bit of the tact I used to have. Some of the tact was inhibition, surely, so in the sense of losing inhibitions I'm a bit better off, but I'm not as well-versed in (or perhaps I've just lost motivation to do this) hiding what I really think about things around other people anymore. I suppose I haven't had to be nearly so articulate as I used to be, not living at home and all—but it was a valuable skill while I had it. I think this probably goes hand-in-hand with the loss of self-confidence I've suffered in some respects (a gain in others, since I'm more outspoken about annoyances now), as I've been demoralized a bit by the past few semesters, but yes, I do need to work on talking to people and having conversations, rather than falling to extremes of A. sitting in silence for lack of things to say or fear of saying too much or too little or B. being overly outspoken and letting my true opinions about things show too much.
Too much internal editing. This works out fine when I'm typing at lightning-fast speeds to make up for time spent thinking up answers, but doesn't work so well in person. To a certain extent, I figure I'll be fine—I always am—and I think my increased willingness to tell things like they are may be a good thing. I've become good at denouncing things, for instance. But I should probably talk more, engage in vocal conversation for sport, rather than simply relying on my written verbal skills to carry the day. I know I'm better in written conversation—this goes back to the experiment I tried at MSA, writing the first conversation I had with Jason despite sitting right next to him on the grass at the time, as I had a realization that I might be better at conversing on paper. It was a novel thing to do at the time, sort of a precursor to written online conversation—but it's not so novel anymore.
Note: to certain of you, these emails are somewhat foregone conclusions. If'n any of this shouldn't have been posted, tell me and it's gone. In general, what's posted here should be of general interest to all involved parties, hence its relevance and my posting it.
Edit: What, no replies?
I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut, not to tell people too much, 'cause just as soon as you tell some people things, they think they've got something on you or know you and can use that information to their advantage. They think they've got all your shots called just 'cause you spilled a small secret to 'em...but that's not a good way to go. So I stay quiet.
I'm not all that close to R., in a relative sense—I'm not really that close to anyone at the university, not even the people I live with—but among university friends, at least, she's one of the closer ones, and she's a pretty astute observer of my predilections and habits. I'm glad she called. I'm not sure how long we talked, but luckily everyone else was in the living room, watching The Mask of Zorro. (It was like deja vu, I told her, as pretty much the last time I had a conversation of any consequence with her was while my roommate and I were taking a break from watching the same movie about two weeks ago.)
There are some things I'm still reasonably certain of, like my intelligence, my wit, my ability to write well and lay out arguments, my easy acquaintance with my own physical abilities, my ability to size people up almost on sight, etc. A lot of times, esp. when reading various novels or watching movies, I long for the days (did such a day ever exist, esp. for a woman, I wonder?) when one could just pick up a trade by virtue of one's talents, on the basis of pure merit in the matter and not worry about all these degrees, all this nonsense that I'm cobbling together to meet the requirements to get this piece of paper. I get tired of working for grades, as I've said in posts before. I got tired of it in high school, for that matter.
Heh...It's all so confusing, and needlessly so, I often think. What happened to the days when I knew what I was going to do and went about with bravado, bravely proclaiming my intentions of getting a psych degree and keeping my 4.0 throughout college? Well, what may have happened is that 1. I encountered a new environment, one needlessly full of B.S. and things that sap my energy and test the strength of my convictions and 2. I'm not so sure I was ever that certain of being a psych major and carrying on with all that—but I had to be certain (cognitive dissonance at work, there), or rather act certain, to say all the stuff I did in admissions essays. I'm slowly moving towards my ideal of a lack of pretense, of being able to honestly say what I mean when I mean it, but then I come up against barriers to saying what I truly mean, e.g. the problem of hormones—such horrible things, hormones, neh? They act upon me and I don't even realize it until I look back on a day and piece it together...At least I can do something to lessen the effect of those.
Some years ago, right after MSA and for a few years after, if you'd asked me what my goals were, I'd have told you, "To find a philosophy." I even wrote about that in my admissions essay, about the vast grand questing I wanted to do and how the university would be a great place to do it. So yeah, the past five semesters have beaten a bit of that idealism out of me, especially as I've gotten so bitter about so many things, all this stuff that has gotten on my nerves since I've been here. I came to the conclusion last year sometime that this definitely was not the place to be if you wanted to become a pure soul questing for gnosis, not by a long shot. Then I figured out that most of the people who really quest for that sort of thing, the eternally deluded, are the ones who become highfalutin' professors, haunting the much-vaunted halls of academia...and doing little else. Me, I've always thought that my philosophy would at least be practical, not dusty like these philosophy classes tend to be. Screw epistemology, all this linguistic questing after evolution and the origins of things—much like Richard Bach, I want something that works, something that'll tide me over and make my life work right.
But perhaps I'm still on the quest! Or if I'm not still on the quest, I can get back into the quest, as these experiences here have been valuable. I haven't really even thought about it for awhile, but I always come back to it when I get to read for awhile and see ideas of mine reflected on the pages—my philosophy is being built as we speak. Perhaps I needed to be stripped of idealism—that's just the part of the process, perhaps, that these past few years have provided. A phrase comes to mind..."You told me you'd say that. You told me you'd say that, too." Oh yes, from Fight Club, as Tyler Durden laid plans so that his other self couldn't undo the whole enterprise, making sure that no one could call off Project Mayhem, not even he himself. I set myself on this quest, and even when I thought I'd abandoned it and forgotten it and was ashamed that I'd become uninterested in it, well, perhaps I've still been on it this entire time. Does any of that make sense?
I really liked the book Siddhartha when I read it, as it seemed like that was the idea—that's the idea of Buddhism, albeit bound up a bit in existentialism, supposedly, in Hesse's form, that all the experiences you go through are necessary, the stripping away of layers of pretense, the suffering of continually knowing that no matter how much self-knowledge you've attained, there's always some other level to know yourself on, you're always chipping away at pretense, always realizing that what you thought was progress was simply leading you down yet another false avenue of experience. Yet even the false knowledge was necessary, as you move to another level of falseness that's perhaps less false, overall...even the depths of depravity have something to teach you. Also, there's the idea of hitting bottom, which is part of both existentialism and Buddhism, albeit in different ways.
The Buddhist take on it is simply what I already talked about, nausea of existence-provoking situations. The existential, nihilist Fight Club view of it is that hitting bottom is necessary so that you can see where you are and go from there. It's necessary to know the limits of your depravity and to give you a foundation to build from, so that when you build you're not working with the spongy ground of your psyche, but a simpler, more solid psychic foundation. You can't build a solid life, one free of pretense, 1. without figuring out at least some of your limits, how far you can fall given the chance, 2. afraid of failing, having never tried it (3) working from the litany of excuses and fears that approach near-failure. Some people have to learn things by trying them—which I realize is a line used to justify a lot of things, and a line to which there are many exceptions, but nonetheless, I think it applies in this case. There are many good reasons I can think of to justify failing a bit this semester, and perhaps the experience will serve me well.
Heh...when I think about being back on the quest, it gives me this surge of pride, then a pang of guilt, as I know someone like me shouldn't be indulging in silly vain pride at jumping back on the quest for a philosophy. Then again, perhaps that means that I've gotten a few battle scars, necessary ones, and will at least be seeking along a higher plane this time. Each plane has its perils, apparently, and one can slip from plane to plane...perhaps I'm not on a "higher" plane as such, but I've gotten more experience, whatever plane I'm on and whatever that plane's destination.
After just reading a few novels, getting back in the swing of reading, I'm recalling that yeah, the idea in Good Will Hunting was quite a valid one, really, that with just a few bucks in library fines you can come a lot closer to establishing yourself a good bit of knowledge than you can with $100,000 worth of fancy-ass classes. Yeah, some philosophy, the practical sort, like my Biomedical Ethics and Present Moral Problems classes looked at, is tolerable and perhaps useful, especially for my argumentation skills, but man...reading and real-world experience count for a hell of a lot, too.
I don't even see words when reading. I see pictures—it's almost like being in a trance or dream state, I suppose, hence how I can read for hours and not hear what's going on around me.
What sucks is that I'm going to be a psych/English-type major, but I really despise people of those castes. I consider myself more technically able, more capable of deep thought, than most of the bubbleheaded hacks I see in these classes. I'm definitely more self-aware than a lot of them, despite the looming fog of unconsciousness that overtakes me each semester. I don't know if you know many psych/English majors where you are, but you know the type at least, neh?
I'd like to think that whatever depths I've fallen to, I'm still standing upon a high plateau compared to the depths inhabited by many of these people around me. Then again, perhaps this is "malignant narcissism," as Richard Matheson would have it, a kind of belief in one's utter infallibility that leads one to become delusional and belligerent.
I've been meaning to write a rant about postmodernism, but couldn't really find the motivation to do so. (Which is probably very postmodern in itself.) Here's your rant: This is postmodernism's doing, whatever the hell postmodernism is. (I'm in a class all about the subject right now, so be assured that they're trying their best to teach me this pastiche that has taken on the label "postmodernism." I don't happen to believe in the thing. I already vastly prefer modernism, with its positive illusions of progress and whatnot.)
Contrary to what these postmodern idiots say, there are things to believe in, or at least things I have a desperate desire to believe in. I started off thinking about romantic gestures, as that's what Joy Williams, the writer whose work we're currently reading in advanced fiction writing, the class I just stomped back from, seems to focus on—the dearth of meaning in romantic relationships in these oh-so-postmodern times, the emptiness of these supposedly liberated people's lives, &c—though the rest of the class doesn't seem to get that sweeping message so clearly as I did. To me, the sorry condition her characters are in shows the fallacy of all they believe in—these people who so believe they have free will will simply have none of it—instead, they plow themselves under in ways that generations before them couldn't even have dreamed of, drowning in their sex and alcohol and lack of self-control, possessing little, if any, self-knowledge. Such malaise. Ugh. These are the people I share this vaunted university with...these are the ones I'm forced to shield my eyes from seeing, lest I be blinded by my rage at their falseness.
At least in Williams' work, they seem to get their own. The formerly lusty ones try to feed Drano-laced hamburger meat to their dog in a vain attempt at expressing their discontent at existence, going unconscious just in time to forget their son's 6th birthday and ignore his mental deficiencies. Their lives come out in the horribly disquieting way that they well should, given the dead air serving as a placeholder for brains and morality. They spend idle time among strangers, never content with these oddly amoral "interesting" folk they bide their time among—they have choice, all right, and they waste it!—and then they wonder why their lives are so full of clamor, ill will, and discontent.
(Bah!—the "Select All" option for the context menu in this Firebird text box here only appears after you select some of the text...what an annoying feature!)
These characters will have none of gestures like grabbing your woman and pulling her away from the drunken party to the balcony to gaze at the stars, singing to her, standing under her window, throwing small rocks at it to get her to come out and stand in the moonlight—why, these days, gestures like that are more likely to get you arrested than win the women over, and you're not likely to find them seriously depicted in anything other than cheap paperback romance novels and "genre" fiction. You know why you find them in genre fiction, though? That's a place where extremes (apparently love is seen as an extreme now, à la the proles of Huxley's imagining) are tolerated and nurtured! I maintain, however, that there is a place for these gestures in the mainstream. Why must romance, spectacle, and even love die—or at very least be shifted to the edges of our consciousness—at the hands of academics and nihilists who proclaim our existence utterly meaningless in the first place? Let them have their lack of meaning, but give us a place for our romance and sincerity—yea, meaning!—to exist!
I have a deep ability to be disillusioned, which in and of itself is probably symptomatic of my living in these here postmodern (post-postmodern, as Professor Bourg would have it) times—but the current conditions are disillusioning! It's a horrible condition we've inherited where we're unable to sincerely believe in something without someone mocking us, jeering, "You don't actually believe in that, do you?"
Now, when I say romance, I don't mean cheesy, over-the-top sentiment. I mean feeling, real emotions expressed. "But isn't that the same thing?" you might ask. No, no, it's really not. There is a big difference between mere sentiment, manufactured to fit the moment (think Hallmark cards) and emotion. A lot of people think they're being emotional, giving themselves the label "temperamental" or something else melodramatic and thinking that's the same as truly being temperamental—but they're not real! As Ayn Rand would note, these people don't exist in any meaningful sense when their every sentiment can be overwritten so quickly, their ever-so-shallow emotions melting into evanescent puddles around them. I portray it prettily, but it's not very pretty at all. These people lead ugly lives, full of discontent and divorce, because of the poverty of what they can imagine. They don't imagine themselves finding anything lasting, so they don't. Now, I may be straying a bit into positivism here, into my R. Bach–esque belief that anything held in mind will appear in some form before me eventually—but who's to say it doesn't work?
Surely I could write volumes about this—people have—but I shan't. I simply miss what some call innocence, the way people of a few generations back could believe in things, holding some things sacred even as they grew discontent with their lives. There's something to be said, a lot to be said, really, for taking love and romance seriously and seeing them as an integral part of everyday life, for not sneering at ideas and philosophies that someone fervently believes in. Who are we to say that such things are outmoded? Quiet talks, reading, walking through beautiful places, finding beautiful places within those that aren't so beautiful, actually bothering to look at the sky we hurry under, contemplating our fate and thinking about other people when they aren't in our direct line of vision...there is room in the world for such things, regardless of whether the academics agree. There's room for peace of mind, however falsely derived, room for confidence and faith in things and people and, I daresay, room for God.
Life's too short to pay attention to these academics, ad-men, campaigners, and CEOs who wish to strip everything of value from our lives. Perhaps it's a sign of insanity or, at the very least, extremism to believe that the majority of people aren't looking out for one's best interests, but I really don't think those people have my best interests in mind. I'll take the ones I can count on, thanks.
2. I've decided to bother with my appearance again this semester. That should be a somewhat pleasant change to some of you; others may not care.
3. I was going to write a post about the connotations of certain away messages posted by certain people, as Chris and I went through a quite in-depth analysis of the messages and their meaning...but I'm not going to bother now. I think it'll suffice to say that it was interesting but not particularly relevant.
In other news, I've finally created the long-awaited knife pony. Her name is Deirdre...the knife pony. I started off trying to create an online pony for myself and instead ended up with something that worked altogether too well as the knife pony not to make it. I think it came out pretty damned well...
Things that I deem anathema for State of the Union addresses and other public speaking events:
1. Standing ovations. The gesture has become cheapened to the point where if a production/speech/other public event doesn't receive it, the players involved feel unappreciated and unloved. I say screw that—let's take back the meaning of the standing ovation! No more of this "They're nice people, I guess they deserve an ovation, too" crap. The ovation was developed for use when merited, not whenever your friend from down the street or the president is involved.
2. Applause. We don't need applause after every sentence said in a presidential speech. So you're showing your "official support" or the fact that you've officially denounced whatever the man's saying. Who gives a crap? Why must you prolong the process by needlessly applauding? Further, the canned applause on television sitcoms must be abolished. It's probably one of the stupidest, most annoying things I can think of. "Oh, ha ha, it's so funny, the people are laughing, I must also laugh with them..." Right. Anathema.
Oh yeah, this is the part where I cobble together pieces of emails from over break and pretend they're the rest of the post. For now, I'll just mention that I read 14 books over break, half of which I completed within one 3-day period.
For the record, the new black-painted-steel fence with spikes on top bordering the main parking lot here on campus that makes it impossible to properly cross the parking lot is also hereby deemed anathema. Also for the record, J. rocks, as he built me a neat program that automatically deletes "font size='2'" tags in posts. For this he is awarded a shining moment of rockingness and the promise that I will finally manage to retrieve my package, complete with dead kitten, from the mailroom today.
So yes, I'd be writing you all a post, but instead I'm sitting here deleting font tags. Have patience—I will post/email again sometime in the near future. I'm keeping a running tab of things to write about, so I shan't be lacking for material when I finally get down to it.
The writer realizes that plants are on the windowsill...plants that need water...that she's been here for two days with plants that need water.
The writer successfully pours water over the leaves of Plant No. 1, which, far from doing the intended "running down the leaves into the pot," splashes all over the bookshelf in front of the window.
Several minutes later:
The writer panics again, looking at her blog's calendar, thinking she's been 20 for nearly four hours and didn't realize it, then realizes that no, that's tomorrow.