Friday, September 29, 2006

I need to chill the fuck out

First of all, hooray for Pittsburgh for having a "gallery crawl" tonight- there were some cool things downtown. I wish I had been with a couple friends instead of with an RA and other Margaret Morrison folks on a trip to the symphony; a trip that I attended because it was really cheap and a way to get some culture! The galleries were cool, though, like the Wood Street Gallery featuring some Indian dance and Future Tenant with some modern art, including various Iranian heads of state on a conveyor belt being poked by little pokers. And then we saw the symphony, which I'll give the classic review of "I can't really appreciate it, but it was neat."

But man. Sunday through Tuesday, all my free time was on Networks. Wednesday, grading; Thursday and today, Neural Nets. I might drop Neural Nets.
Reasons for dropping it:
- I'm not learning a lot, I don't think. It's all either going over my head (math blatz! 3-d calc?!) or is just a high-level overview. The homeworks are giving me fits- they're theoretically easy, but there's a bunch of dicking around with MATLAB. Lame.
- Maybe I'm overworked this semester?
- Doesn't really help me graduate. See, it's a CS elective (I need 1), and it's a cog sci elective (I need 4). I just want to make things as easy for myself next year as possible.
Reasons for keeping it:
- If I drop it, I'll have 3 classes + 2 StuCo's. That's a little bit silly.
- It sort of helps me graduate. (pulls up spreadsheet) If I drop it, and I don't accomplish anything next semester while I'm studying abroad, I'll need 10 classes to get both of my majors (CS and CS). If I do keep it, that number goes down to 8 (double counting). And it's really 7, because another class will double count. And I'm hoping I can take some classes in Europe that will count. So ... well, whatever. I don't know why I'm telling you all about my class schedule. I'll graduate, and it'll be fine.

But this week was a killer. And there's no break; it's right back into the mix with more Networks this weekend. The thing that's so tough about all this work popped into my mind while I was talking to my mom the other day. It's not because I hate the work- doing Networks is all right, except for the time pressure. (It's almost fun, because you can really make progress, and you can really get into it.) The problem is this: I keep compromising more and more who I want to be and what I want to do. For example: I haven't started this cooking club that I'm all about starting. I've been completely sedentary all week. Friends have been over here and I've been sitting in this dim basement doing homework. When people ask "how's it going?" all I can say is "well, I've been working on Networks..." geek geek geek geek Geek Geek GEEK GEEK GEEK!

But then, I had all summer to do what I want to do, and what did I do? Well, I had some fun, but I don't feel like I made the most of it. Mostly because my job was so boring, I felt listless all the time.

Solution: stop talking about doing stuff, and go do stuff! Well, it's Saturday night at 1 am, what can I do? (obvious answer: sleep, so I can do stuff tomorrow!) What I really need to do, though, is lose myself. Have you noticed the number of "I"s in this post? There are a lot! I feel like the more you think about yourself, talk about yourself, etc, the less happy you become. I need to lose myself at a party, in a game, in cooking maybe, meditation, some project that I like... and most of all, in other people!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

OMG Broken Social Scene Oct 18

at Mr. Smalls

Anyone want to go to this? (it's about halfway down the page)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pizzeria Uno, and Exercise

Item #1. Pizzeria Uno is now "Uno Chicago Bar and Grill". The chain that used to be a decent pizza chain is now the same as every other mediocre restaurant. Applebee's, Max and Erma's, TGI Friday's, Ruby Tuesday, Red Robin, Fuddrucker's, Chili's, ...

The name is the same. The decorations are the same- assorted crap from the crap factory that must exist to produce crap for these kinds of restaurants. The menu's the same- all sorts of fried shit appetizers, the same dozen sandwiches, the same dozen entrees (served in huge portions), and a bunch of dumb froofy desserts and drinks. Oh, and a couple of salads (read: iceberg lettuce with a couple of cute "theme" toppings) for the "health conscious." The prices are the same- you will spend about $12-15 including tax/tip. They even have a beer brewed "especially for them!" that's so bad that our waiter (who was very honest) couldn't even recommend it. Geez. Everyone who wants to open a restaurant franchise should have to first fill out a questionnaire that says "why do you want to open a soulless food-mart instead of a restaurant with personality?"

Also, Pittsburgh, get places to go after 11pm besides bars!

Item #2. Doesn't exercise, as it's become in the modern world, seem so artificial? Like you live your life, except you take an hour out every day to go to the gym, and maybe you run on a treadmill- a machine that lets you expend extra effort to go nowhere. Maybe you lift weights, just so you can put them back down again. Drive your car to the gym to ride a stationary bike. Somewhere in the last hundred years, humanity got so good at survival that we didn't have to expend physical energy to survive anymore, and so now we just expend physical energy because we have to. What the hell?

And the idea that this would become a chore- like you have to go get your exercise every day. Like "brush my teeth, take a shower, expend energy." But the alternative- not exercising- is even worse, because then you just get sedentary and lazy. I mean, I guess the real alternative is to find a sport that you really enjoy, and then you'll just exercise for its own sake.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Seeking restaurants

Hey, I'm the restaurant reviewer for the Carnegie Pulse. How about that! Check out my masterworks at The Carnegie Pulse.

The problem is, I need to know some more places to review. They need to be either new or otherwise unusual. For example, I can't review Fuel and Fuddle. ("It was good. It was half price. It was crowded. I wish I could drink beer, because they have quite a selection.")

I've reviewed Chipotle, the Green Mango Noodle Hut, and Little Asia- they don't have to be gourmet establishments. In fact, as much as I'd love to review gourmet establishments, I think that Carnegie Pulse readers would rather know about places they can actually go to more than once a year: places that are relatively nearby and relatively cheap.

So, all that said, I think my next target is the Silk Elephant in Squirrel Hill. It's relatively new. After that, I don't know. Let me know if you have any ideas! (particularly non-Asian places, because that's 3 in a row. But let me know Asian suggestions too.) And if you'd like to come along, let me know that too!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Big Ideas

with capital letters. That's what my mind's been on recently. The "what is it all about" sort of thing. Let me explain the last couple of weeks. Actually, I'll back up to the summer. I started reading a couple of interesting books- The Book and the Tao of Pooh. I've probably raved to you about them both. Talking to various friends; Beej, Ram, Julie, and others that I think are interested in the same ideas. I've also been reading some more entertaining but still philosophical stuff like Tom Robbins and The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. Most recently, it's been a book called "Voluntary simplicity" from Gerrit.

The point is, I don't know a darn thing about things in general, much less big "why are we all here" sort of things. I'm trying to list how I started asking questions. I don't know if it's anything about this year, this summer, maybe it was last spring, or what, but my old world view wasn't cutting it.

It wasn't a terrible world view: I was comfortable with myself, mostly comfortable with others, and comfortable with the path my life would be taking. It was pretty Western/masculine/worldly/individual/Yang, though. (if there's one thing I know, it's that there's a grand duality in the universe, and just about everything has two sides, and the middle is usually the best way to go. That seems to be a sort of universal truth, at least on some level, and it makes a hell of a lot of sense.) It was a fine world view, but "nothing to excess", as the ancient Greeks through Fr. Ober taught me in freshman World History in high school. And the whole thing started getting to me, the one-sidedness of my existence. Even the idea of Love as the ultimate good, which was fine for me for a bunch of years. For some reason, I generally decided, over time, there must be something more.

This all sounds like I embarked on a Grand Spiritual Adventure. I haven't really changed my life at all. Besides enrolling in a Zen Meditation StuCo. But the point isn't whether I say "I'm embarking on a Grand Spiritual Adventure", because saying that I'm doing something big is just a label. A label that lets me say "Look at me, I'm improving myself! I'm attempting to make myself better than anyone else, because now I'm spiritually cool too!" Which may be what I'm doing on a subconscious level, but consciously, I'm trying to avoid that. If I start to sound pretentious about anything spiritual, don't even listen to me, because I'm entirely missing the point.

Anyway, so what is this Eastern view? I don't know yet. To say "I am reading about Eastern religion" is like saying "I went to a restaurant in America." There are so many different kinds. But I think they all have a few universal truths, or maybe even one universal truth:
The way to be is to lose yourself entirely and become one with everything.
That's the quickest way I can summarize what I think I know about it. This oneness with everything shows up a lot: as nirvana (Hindu, right? Buddhist too? Shows what I know...), the Tao, enlightenment. Even as heaven in Christianity, although the Western conception of heaven seems nothing like the Eastern. For Christians, it always comes across as this place in the sky where you go when you die, if you've been good. But really, it's the same thing, just worded differently.

Okay. So there's some background. Last last Sunday I had quite an experience, which I'll leave appropriately vague. Hi potential employers, hi Mom and Dad! Nah, my mom and dad are probably cool. The point is not the details of the experience, because it doesn't change you. It just stirs up emotions and thoughts, like dredging up the bottom of a pond. (thanks, Ram, for the analogy)

I had expected this to leave me on an all-time moment of clarity, where I would realize more and more that all is one and one is all. I thought I would realize how little of an individual I am, and how it's meaningless to even refer to myself as an individual, or even as myself.

Well, one thing was right: it gave me a sort of moment of clarity. I stood on the roof of the Slanty Shanty, and I wanted to breathe in the entire world. Everything was so vivid! And here's the thing: I felt so optimistic about my future. I saw a couple of the high points of my life laid out before me (Colorado, December 2004; NYC, August 2006; the Alps, January 2007) I went back inside and sat down, and felt so thankful to everyone and everything. Thank you, by the way; if you're reading this, I probably know you, and I want to thank you. I had a pen and paper, and I wrote something along the lines of "if I get nothing else out of this, it'll be sincerity." I felt like a child again; it was euphoric. It's like when you realize you couldn't have made it without someone, and you just break down and cry in gratitude, but that person loves you so much, they were just happy to help. Except it was directed towards everyone.

Okay, so I also helped make a fort out of Aaron's bed (Aaron was puzzled to see how his bed turned out), listened to electricity (it sounds like little mice!), and had a stare-down with a Kurt Cobain poster. But the point is, it was a tremendous experience.

But how so? It was tremendous in a Western sense. Wow, I felt great, and life seemed like one ever-growing pyramid of fun! But I felt individual. I felt like Mufasa AND Simba, standing there and saying to myself "Everything the light touches is our kingdom", where "our" was a use of the royal "we". I'm the king of the world! ...thanks to all of you who helped me get here.

This was frustrating. My life doesn't need more Western materialistic greatness. (Don't get me wrong, it does need some. I'm not saying there's no place for a Western point of view. But it should be half of your view, not all of it.)

The next day, I felt so lethargic, I'm lucky I didn't turn into a big plastic bag of Frosty. Not just lethargic, though; will-less. I didn't want to do anything or see anyone. It was a terrible feeling, and I don't know if it was due to the previous day, the previous year, or just a random bad day. Everyone irritated me, and everything bored me. I still don't know why it was, only that it's been turning up a couple times in the last couple of weeks. It doesn't make any sense; it's not like all my friends graduated (some of them did, but most of them are still around, anyway) or my job/major seemed pointless (now I have some direction for the first time in my college career).

So there have been ups and downs. Maybe I'll add more details later, or more thoughts on things, but to avoid having 3 straight 6-hour sleeps, (and it's only week 3!) I'm going to bed. Good night!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Burrito controversy!

My Chipotle review

Burrito snobs

Hey, they linked to my article! And failed to miss the point that I'm reporting on a FAST FOOD RESTAURANT! Rock on, guys, you sure know the most about burritos! Hey, here's another article you should write: Harry Potter is not as good as Faulkner, and therefore England is a literary wasteland.

There it is: I'm gaining notoriety in the blog circuit.

Real post is still to come... whenever I get a free couple hours.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Post coming soon

It's been quite the weekend. I'm still trying to fit it all into my head, and figure out how best to put it on paper.
It sort of made me ask myself, Where does that highway go to?
And then I asked myself, Am I right? Am I wrong?
And then I asked myself, My god!...what have I done?

Okay, so that turned into quoting "Once in a Lifetime," which continues to surprise me with how good it is. The whole CD, "Remain in Light," is fantastic! Wow! Been a while since I found a CD to gush about. Well, besides Belle and Sebastian's "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" and the Boards of Canada's "In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country", but you already knew that about the first one and the second one is just an EP.

But next time, less rock, more talk! Stay tuned, faithful readers!