- I always purchase an orange juice before flight. If I'm hungry prior, I eat crappy noodles from the "Chinese" place.
- At the gate, I sit 2-3 places away from the most good-looking person of the opposite sex present. It derives from a rather ridiculous fear that the entirety of humanity will be wiped from existence, save the people on my airplane, that my flight will land in a place isolated from the rest of humanity, or some other scenario that forces the people on my flight to form a new civilization, and thus, repopulate. I do this on the first day of a new class, as well. If I have to help sustain the human race, I'm damn well going to call "dibs". (Luckily, this time, I ended up sitting next to him in-flight. He was a Forestry graduate student with a rad beard (but would have looked way better sans beard) who spun poi. In a post-apocalyptic world, we would have made beautiful, intelligent, quirky children.)
- If I have a window seat (which I prefer), the window is up until we're above the clouds, at which point, the window is down.
- I pointlessly wish to myself, "No small children, no small children, no small children..." while boarding.
- I always drink ginger ale. I actually don't like carbonated drinks. Except for ginger ale. But only on airplanes.
- I go to the bathroom immediately after getting off the plane. Even if I don't actually need to. I'll just go in, wash my hands, and leave.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I saw a moth the other day. I suppose, for a moth, it was rather average in appearance. However, moths are not average creatures. Moths tend to be well-camouflaged, yet when they are out-of-place, when they are lost, when they are without their comfort of bark and dark surfaces, moths are most noticed, and furthermore, most beautiful.
Monday, October 24, 2011
- I spent hours doing nothing in the dining hall on Saturday with one of my best friends in the entire world. She's wonderful. She's probably the most substantiating catalyst for my happiness.
- I can say I have multiple best friends. I usually tend to fixate on one person, but I have several people who are incredibly near to me.
- I got my nook back. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the piece of crap, but I use a friend's server to download the New York Times every day. And then, I feel less apathetic than I did whilst living in the ironic bubble of higher education. And also, I get awesome conversation every time I get the paper. And by awesome conversation, I mean exposure to current memes.
- I went to the mall with three friends. And we freaked out about cable-knit sweaters. Sweaters are beautiful vestiges. And I got gloves. From the men's section. I feel rebellious when I wear items sold in the men's section.
- Saturday night, about 15-20 people from my dorm watched Zombieland together. It's such a wonderful movie. And then, we went outside and bearhugged. Not around our thighs, mind you. And when it was too cold, we came back inside, and played "Would You Rather". And then we shared secretzzzz.
- I went to sleep. Naked. Because my roommate wasn't there. I mean, I love my roommate to death. But nakedness is wonderful.
- I skyped with my little brother. My brother is my favorite person in the world, no question.
- I skyped with my best friend from home. Who is evidently crocheting me something. But I really don't care because I just love talking to her and spending time with her.
- I got paid $80. That's like 20-30 meals. Or ~32 MARTA rides. Or 3-4 concerts. Or half of a textbook.
- I had intellectually-stimulating conversation about the value of life. My intellect was stimulated.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about cuss words and the role they play in our lives--how they came to be, the morality of them, their role in humanity. From my thoughts, I've come to a few conclusions.
- They are almost always monosyllabic. Other than combinations, the only two cuss words I can think of with more than one syllable are "nigger" and "bastard". The simple harshness and tendency to focus around "ih" (as in: "bitch", "shit", "tits", "piss") and "uh" (as in: "fuck", "cunt") with fricative, non-voiced consonants are most likely the causes for certain words being labeled as cuss words, as opposed to their alternatives. Take for example, "cunt". It just sounds more cut-throat than "vagina". Similarly, "shit" is more harsh than "feces" or "poop", and "tits" is much more derogatory than "breasts". Which leads me to conclude that:
- The value of a cuss word is not in its meaning, but its phonetics. "Shit" means the exact same thing as "dung". So why is one taboo? Why is one more derogatory than the other? Why do we have a double-standard for language? Honestly, I'm not an expert on etymology--I can't explain to you how denotation and connotation formed around certain forms of human expression. However, I can tell you:
- It is connotation that is taboo, not denotation. "Shit" is fricative. "Shit" is insulting. "Shit" is bleeped out on radio and television. "Shit" does not have the same connotation as "poop", in spite of their mutual definition. Don't get me wrong, an underlying taboo definition needs to exist in order for something to be labeled as a cuss word. Although phonetically, "pick" would be a wonderful insult, it is not and never will be because it does not mean anything with the potential to insult. Similarly, "shunt", although it sounds like a cuss word, will never be anything other than a mechanism for turning or thrusting aside. Because cuss words are inherently based on connotation, and not all cuss words have a denotation that is "bad", I analyzed my personal moral code and system of ethics and concluded that:
- Not all cuss words are "bad". I've been doing a lot of analysis on my moral code--where I derive my system of ethics. After an immense amount of thought, I realize that my morality is contingent on survival, justice, and the pursuit of things that make me happy. As long as it is not an infringement on those three tenants, I see no reason why I should exclude a word from my language. The point of using a cuss word in diction is to make a point, to draw attention to an idea, and to offend. There are points that I need to make, ideas that need to be attended to, and very rarely, people that are so offensive to my happiness and justice that they need to receive offense. However, it should be noted that:
- Some cuss words are "bad". Some cuss words do infringe on justice. Namely, cuss words that discriminate on a group of people based on things outside their control. "Fag" and "nigger" are absolutely unacceptable. Under no circumstances, except perhaps in quotation as I use them in this blog post would I ever use either of those words because race, gender, and sexuality are not causes for insult. It. Is. Not. Just. That said,
- Censorship creates cuss words. Censorship gives a connotation to the denotation and separates humanity from animals. Language, and the exclusion of it, represents each individual's ethical complex, whether it be based in aspects of society, religion, survival, or in some place the individual cannot identify.
- Human expression is humanity. In depriving people of their media of expression, people are deprived of the very thing that makes them human. If you deprive a cuss word of its denotation, you deprive words of their expression. They only convey a small part of the entire idea. In 1984, how were the masses controlled? Through control of language in Newspeak's simplification. Yes, cuss words are harsh. They are insulting. They are absolutely offensive. But without the potential to be harsh, insulting, or offensive, we would not have the potential to be human.
- Language is incredibly beautiful and diverse. There are many more ways to dish out an insult or make a point than using conventional cuss words. "Impudent stumpet". "Where will thou find a cavern dark enough to mask thy monstrous visage?" Biting your thumb. Cuss words, for the most part, are beautiful and defining. But as far as insults go, your options aren't limited. Take a cue from Shakespeare if you're stumped.
**Sorry if you just read that, Mom and Dad... I haven't gone off the deep end, I'm just making a moral statement. And I promise that outside this blog post, I'm much more likely to use a Shakespearean insult than a modern cuss word.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Only in a rare case does a costume provide any form of practicality in the conventional sense of the word, the sense that it provides utility--and if it does, it does so in the form of identity protection. Costumes worn for identity protection will prohibit the true persona of the wearer from being discovered. These costumes, and most costumes in general enable a person to escape traditional social limitations, to push boundaries of acceptability, whether it be in violence, sexuality, or personal psyche.
Beyond practical identity protection, the functionality of costumes is limited. True, costumes are used for seduction or sexualization, enabling the wearer to adopt a persona uninhibited by the aforementioned social constraints, as is the case with fetishwear, however, the actual practicality of the costume is limited, as it is largely a psychological change, in spite of a change in fabric.
Even less practical is the use of a costume to adopt a persona that is socially convenient (if you want to get me going on my rant on the modern state of Harry Potter culture, I could give you an excellent example of such a "costume". First of all, a tie over a t-shirt is not a costume in this situation. Second of all, it's blue and bronze, not blue and silver. Quit your un-canon nonsense). In fact, whether this form of clothing change even constitutes a costume is questionable. If the individual persona is changed with a crowd shift in the mass persona, is it really change? Although the individual is altered relative to its initial persona, the individual experiences no change relative to the change in the masses. We're looking at net displacement and rate of displacement here. Physics, people.
Conversely, costumes are used to establish oneself as an independent entity or to attract attention. This is particularly common in subgroups based on nonconformity, or even in some forms of high fashion in which the goal is to be unique and ahead of the crowd in physicality. An individualized costumer wants attention to focus on the person in the costume rather than the costume itself, but will do so through creative means, often seeking more obscure costumes to disassociate from the typical.
The final form of costume I personally find most admirable in that it is completely independent of all social standards, save perhaps the pop culture with which we're constantly inundated. It offers absolutely no practicality. There is no purpose to it. It is the costume of a child--"spiderman syndrome". No identity is trying to be concealed. There is no goal of seduction. No social standard from which there is an urge to conform of depart. It's simply a whole-hearted admiration and aspirations of emulation.
An interesting anecdote on costumes: they differ from an entirely new identity. Identity is psychological. Costumes are physical--a camouflage. (Let it also be noted that camouflage is one of the most impossible words for me to spell. I had to type that into Google three times.) Often, a change in physique accompanies a change in psyche, but the two are not mutually inclusive.
Anyhow, I was at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA this past weekend. And being exposed to all of the superheroes and costumes got me thinking about identity. I suppose I should reward you for your patience with these puppies:
Monday, July 18, 2011
There was an amoeba. For the purposes of this blog post, he was fully capable of thought, was self-aware, and was named Lars. Also for the purposes of this blog post, these three phenomena are typically amoebic patterns in nature. Just go with it.
Lars was a perfectly normal amoeba—filled with cytoplasm and DNA, going about his life with his shapeless single-celled friends, no visible mutations that would cause him to evolve into a “more advanced” being. No, Lars was an average amoeba, whatever average means by protozoan standards. If you’re curious, Lars was an Amoeba proteus, so he was fairly large compared to other species of amoeboids. But this isn’t about the other puny mono-cells. This is about Lars, the average amoeba.
We observe Lars whilst in the midst of phagocytosis. Some people feel self-conscious when being watched as they process food, but Lars is an amoeba, so he obviously doesn’t mind. We jot down a few notes about how Lars’ meal enters his food vacuole. It doesn’t matter that we’re watching Lars digest his food without his consent. He is an amoeba, and has little regard for humanoid concerns such as modesty and privacy.
Lars feels an odd sensation. It’s minutely painful, like a stretching from every point in his single-celled body. If he had read The Princess Bride, he would have compared it to the suction-cup machine that sucks on every inch of Wesley’s skin*. If he knew what Chinese water torture was, he would have thought the sensation would drive him mad in the same manner. If Lars had a mouth, or the capacity to express his emotion vocally, he would have wanted to scream. But Lars was an amoeba, so he has none of these thoughts or inclinations. And then, the sensation is relieved. If he was able, Lars would have breathed a sigh of relief, as he felt like a huge weight had been lifted. He expands and contracts his cytoplasm, stretching his tiny amoebozoan body. Suddenly, Lars is aware of another entity of equal size in close proximity. Lars, through his remarkable protozoic sleuthing, determines that this other being had been a part of him. Lars feels proud—he had created an entirely new existence, purely of his own cytoplasm and nuclear matter. And this new presence would go onto split itself infinitely (or at least until the petri dish reached its carrying capacity) into new amoebic entities. Lars fancies himself the father of an entire race of amoebae. He is the asexual patriarch of the entirety of the petri dish, and is quite predictably drunk with the power.
But the Venn diagram that people who care about amoebae and people who aren’t amoebae is rather small, if not single-cellular. And so, after we finish our observations, we dispose of Lars and his spawn in the proper biological waste disposal.
*No, bro. It’s not in the movie. The movie is good, but seriously, the book is legit. Try reading it.
If you desire another perspective of the confusion that significance entails, consider our size. We are composed of a bajillion cells, which are composed of a bajillion molecules. And each molecule is composed of atoms, which are composed of tiny particles, which are composed of even tinier particles. We're kind of a big deal. Except not really. This planet has a massive number of inhabitants. Compared to the number people that do, will, and have inhabited this planet, the number of people that will ever be cognizant of your existence is very, very, small. And that's only on Earth. Nearly everyone has seen those scales that point out how small the Earth is compared with the Sun, and how small The Solar System is compared with the galaxy, and how small the galaxy is compared with other galaxies, and how small even the largest galaxy is with only the furthest points in space that our puny humanoid technology can fathom.
And yet, my hyper-inflated ego can't help but think that everything I and every other puny human does is influential.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Many, many things have ended this year—my grandfather’s life, my high school education, my stint with my crappy excuse for a laptop, the Harry Potter franchise as we know it, government-funded manned spaceflight. But curiously, none of these terminations make me sad. Sentimental, perhaps, but not sad.
I’m no theologian, and my views on practically everything are probably largely skewed from reality, but I find it hard to imagine anything concept or thing that is perpetual, save the law that nothing is perpetual. Either that, or everything is perpetual, and part of a larger scale (but for the purpose of this blog post, this theory is irrelevant). It’s difficult for me to theorize in between these two extremes.
As much fun as it is to imagine a machine of perpetual motion, or how comforting it is to convince myself of a continuous being with no end or beginning, the likelihood of either idea to my humble human mind is slim. It does not upset me when things reach their end at the expected point, because I’m under no illusions that anything has a constant perpetuation for eternity. With my grandfather, or high school, or Harry Potter, or government-funded manned spaceflight, it was inevitable that these things had to end. Am I completely callous that I’m happy about death? No. Just accepting that it happens.
The thing about death is that I don’t think it can exist without birth. The things in this material world do not reside on a mere line, but an infinite series of line segments. Just as ends are a part of this reality, so too are beginnings. The beauty of this world is that it’s constantly changing. Chapters will end, but the book continues. Is it cliché? Yes. But the realization of this helps so much in living in the present and for the future, rather than dwelling in the past.
I am not upset about high school ending—I have college, a career, and life to look forward to. Nor am I upset about Harry Potter—the thing about literature and film, is that they don’t occur in a single point in time. And new literature and film is constantly being released, serving as a artful documentation of who we were and are as a people. The end of government-funded manned spaceflight is not the end of an era, but the first chapter of a brilliant and beautiful story of competition and discovery, and we still have much of the tale to uncover. Given the laws of a function f(x), no x coordinate can repeat twice. But that’s what makes it a function, just as progress defines humanity.
On another note... so basically, Dumbledore is Morgan Freeman?
Friday, July 8, 2011
Phrases like that frustrate me to no end. The "self" to which they refer isn't actual internal thoughts and tendencies, but outward perception. When someone tells you that "you just haven't been yourself lately", they don't refer to a change in your mental state, but a change in the patterns of behavior they perceive.
Assuming that there aren't actually aliens that constantly monitor human brainwaves, thoughts are completely private. We aren't even cognizant of most of our own thoughts. They are the true definition of "self". As long as you are thinking, and thus, existing, you can be no one but yourself. You can present a facade that is not your innate self, you can conceal your self, but you cannot actually be any other self but your own.
Because I'm infatuated with paradoxes, and feel a compulsive need to point them out, here you go: Although people are constantly evolving (or devolving) in their mental state, which we refer to as the self, this evolution of self is actually an innate part of the constant self. Change is a part of consistency.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Take, for instance, The Bachelor. Now, I'm not an expert on the show, nor do I have much of a desire to watch reality television, but it's a pretty simple concept: throw a bunch of darts to the wall, and hope one sticks. Except, with the added pressure, it's more than just hoping one sticks. It's jamming each dart into an already adhesive wall with incredible force, and then yanking all but one of them out in the most dramatic fashion possible. But with roses. Under those circumstances, of course an attraction is going to form between the two parties. They are so heavily pressured to do so that they convince themselves of love and all that sappy jazz. But then, when exposed to the real world, our metaphorical wall loses its adhesion, and thus, we end up with glorious People articles at which we snicker whilst in line at Walgreens.
For those of us who best understand things when explained in scientific terminology (just me?), this phenomenon can best be expressed by Kinetic-Molecular Theory and the Ideal Gas Laws (that would be a good name for a band...). Gas molecules, in ideal circumstances, lack enough mutual attraction to overcome their kinetic energy. Theoretically, gas molecules will ignore each other. They are in constant, random motion, and have an ever-constant amount of energy that results in perpetually elastic collisions. These ideal gas molecules are like your average run-of-the-muck people who naturally feel little attraction for each other. But the thing about gas molecules is that they don't always behave in the cookie cutter ideal fashion. At low temperatures and high pressures, the kinetic energy decreases, and the attractive forces are less easy to overcome. As is the case with people. Under pressure, attraction is easily feigned, and people actually see some connection that otherwise would not exist. Yet when the pressure is relieved, and our pair is exposed to reality, well... Jake realized that Vienna isn't all she was cracked up to be.
Televised or otherwise, all relationships are built on pressure. I call it the "naming the puppy" bias. The acknowledgment phenomenon. Essentially, in recognizing an attraction exists or defining a relationship, a pressure for further attraction is created. That's not to say pressure is a bad thing--it adds expectations, and expectations can certainly be a good thing--consider the historical success of arranged marriage. However, it begs a question exclusive to self-cognizant beings, and non-applicant to gas molecules: if pressure alters the natural flow of attraction, and attraction tends to inevitably result in a defined relationship, does the natural flow attraction innately alter itself and render pressure natural?
Please note that the assertions made in this post were made observationally rather than experimentally. I am by no means an expert of experience on the subject of relationships. Just obsessed with paradoxes.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Here's a little backstory: I attend a Baptist church on a weekly basis. I endorse the practice, regardless of personal beliefs, because I feel like there's something to learn from all experiences in life. A conglomerate of people holding each other accountable keeps a check on individual morals, and I like the balance. But for those who don't agree with every dogma endorsed, ignoring the culturally insensitive part and embracing the universal wisdom aspect can prove to be difficult.
I've been speaking in rather vague terms, so here's the exact situation. As a Father's Day sermon, the preacher spoke of how all men had an innate desire for greatness--because little boys dream of becoming superheroes and astronauts, while little girls only want to be saved by their proverbial princes. He also told tales of how men had a fear of failure that ruled their actions. How men are insecure of their role as the leader of the household and not asserting enough control over their docile domestic counterparts. How the decisions and leadership of men affected the beliefs of the entire family moreso than any other person.
Perhaps I'm misconstruing the whole situation, but I find a few fallacies in this. Am I the only girl who never wanted to be a princess in the Disney saved-by-true-love's-kiss sense of the word? Because I distinctly remember "Sailor Scout" and "cowgirl" being atop my list of aspirations. And let's talk about failure. People have a fear of failure. People want to be remembered for greatness, for making a difference in someone else's life. I, personally, am driven by a fear of failure. It's kept me from participating in many, many activities. I hate being subpar, or not living up to expectations. And I can't express how large of a fallacy it is to assert that it's requisite of the Jim Caseys and Sydney Cartons in the world to have testes. Oh, and last time I checked, a marriage was a partnership, not a hierarchical structure. Go read or watch A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, and we'll talk more about subservience and domesticity.
As much as I tried to replace every "man" or "men" with "person" or "people", and tried to extract wisdom about humanity, I only felt slapped in the face by the feeling that I was the sole person in the congregation who wanted to scream out that dreams and fears of failure and goals and influence are not characteristics exclusive to a particular gender.