Sunday, October 29, 2006

I am excited!

First, about the culinary club! I'm finally starting this club, and it looks good. We had our first cooking demonstration tonight, about 12 people showed up, and it was a success! And my stir-fries tasted good too! Rock on! (hey, if you're interested, here's the website. Send me an email and I'll put you on the dlist!)

Second, I read this: "In Holland, there are twice as many bikes as cars" from here. I'm going to that country! I'm going there! Woooooo!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Speaking of a great concert:

Tally Hall is The Best.

Wow. They usually play "Good Day" to start the show- this time, they opened with the video to "Good Day" shown on a projector screen, then came out and played Freebird. The whole thing. It was so funny! The best part is, half their crowd is about 16 years old, so they didn't get it at all!

Halfway through the show, they decided to come out into the audience, so they waded through us to the back of the room, where they sat up on this ledge and played "Be Born" and "Spring and a Storm" (in the running for the best song ever) using acoustic guitars, bongos, and some weird accordioney thing. Oh yeah, then they played "Down by the Bay." You know, that song you sang in preschool. ("Did you ever see a ____, line that rhymes with _____, down by the bay?")

They are so good! If you are an indie record label, sign them now, because you'll make a whole lot of money when one of the big five steals them.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Nevermind, that's a great concert after all

So AB concerts had 6 choices: Broken Social Scene, Spoon, Sonic Youth, My Morning Jacket, Blackalicious, and some other band I've never heard of. In my view, that's a 4/6 shot of bringing a pretty good show, with Blackalicious and the other band being the not-so-awesome choices. And they picked Blackalicious. Maybe I shouldn't say anything; I don't know from Blackalicious. But come on, any of the other 4 would be so cool.

But it turns out the opener is Andrew Bird! And I don't know about you, but to me, the concert he played out at Point State Park was one of the best concerts I can remember. That should be a cool show. Way to go AB concerts for appealing to everyone.

Of course, it overlaps entirely with an NPP show, but that's a different matter...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

And another interesting question:

(prompted by a story Ram told me about Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu)

... if the Ultimate Power/Grand Being/God Of Everything became incarnated in certain people or things sometimes, would it be easier or harder to get a sense of the grand wonder of the universe? For example, you're walking down the street, and there's a mailbox, but the mailbox starts talking to you and you realize that it's actually God. Or if God were a person, like Jesus, except appearing more than once throughout human history. What if God were all over the place? Say, if He were prevalent enough that everyone knew at least 5 or 6 people who were actually God?

Would that help us? Make us less likely to mess with people, because they might be God? Make us realize that, no matter how miserable we feel, God is probably right around the corner? Or would that make God ordinary, and therefore no longer God?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I suppose, for post 200, this might be appropriate

I wrote this for my Zen midterm (the prompt: "write anything"). It was compiled in about an hour, so it's not The Best. Also, it wasn't written for people who read this all the time, so it's pretty much a rehashing of a lot of things I've said here- it might get repetitive. Read at your own risk.

The Dualism of Everything

A Western upbringing, Zen, sub-vocalization, lucid dreaming, and death- five different topics, right? Not necessarily. They’re all intimately related as facets of the grand dualism between everything. Everything has two sides, and the best way to live is to strike a balance between them.

I was raised in a traditional upper-middle-class American family. Two parents, two kids, three houses in increasingly upscale suburbs as the years passed. An excellent public school system, then a well-renowned Catholic high school. A lawyer father and a graphic designer mother. My family’s love and support, my tremendous education, and enough resources to fill my every material need prepared me to do whatever I want. Now I’m in a top-notch college, studying computer science. I could become an entrepreneur, start the next Google, and make billions. I could become a world-renowned researcher and develop the next algorithm that’s used in computers all over the world. I could go into politics, writing, engineering—maybe not literally “whatever I want”, but at least close. I have ambition, ability, dedication, and all sorts of other traits that sound good in a job interview.

That’s one side of the equation.

But people who go straight for the money, people who pursue fame and fortune, always end up sad, right? So there’s another side to life. It’s the unselfish, ambitionless, powerless, meek, content, and caring side. It’s the side that doesn’t care if you don’t get the job, or even if you get the job but royally screw something up- you’re appreciated anyway. The side that’s not so much about being yourself as it is about being nobody. Being part of the grand unity of everything. You’re not a special little cupcake; you’re the same as everyone else. But it’s okay!

So there’s the other side.

For clarity, let’s call the first side of everything “Western” and the second “Eastern.” I figure these labels are as good as any. I’ve considered “conservative” and “liberal”, but those have too many associations with current politicians; “masculine” and “feminine”, but that’s a whole different ball of wax; and “yang” and “yin,” but I’m not entirely sure if that’s the same idea, and I’d hate to appropriate religious terms and then misuse them a bunch. (Is it the same? Maybe I should start saying yang and yin)

The point is, I feel like I know the worldly, Western side of life, pretty well, but I’m downright befuddled as to the Eastern side. What is it? The Christian church (the only one I’ve really known- and I’ve seen a couple sides, Methodist and Catholic) tosses the word “love” out there, and just lets it fill the space. Love of God, love of one’s neighbor. The Christian goes to church every week to proclaim, or at least convince himself, that he loves God a lot. Maybe he’s got a nice family and some good friends too, and he can love them. But as half of life itself, that seems pretty shallow. I like to ski a lot, and I feel like it’s more than just a sensory pleasure. There’s some deep, Eastern significance to learning to do something well, and doing what you love, God and all other people aside. I think.

So how does this all relate to Zen? I don’t know much about Zen, or any Eastern religion, but it seems like they tend to revolve around the “Eastern” parts of life- becoming “one with everything,” losing yourself, finding nirvana. (Meanwhile, the Western religions focus on doing good works so St. Peter will let you through the pearly gates- again, working hard to attain something.) It seems like this Eastern enlightenment is something you can’t attain by working at it. Which is why it’s so hard for a Western kid like me.

When I meditate, there are constantly words going through my head. I feel like I haven’t thought a thing unless I’ve put it into words. Maybe this slows me down while I’m reading, maybe not- that’s beside the point. I see this sub-vocalization as just another way I try to control everything around me and work harder to get to the next goal. Also, while I’m meditating, why don’t I think about something useful to get something done, instead of wasting a half hour? See, I consciously realize that that’s nonsense- the point of meditation is to sit there and NOT do anything. But I can’t seem to tell that to my subconscious mind.

At any rate, I’m trying too hard, thinking too hard, and trying to develop a capacity to lose myself, to fully exist in a moment, and to love. So here’s where the last couple of points come in, and why I think I still have a chance at achieving some sort of happy balance in life. First of all, I had a lucid dream the other night. I didn’t do anything unusual- I went flying for a bit, and it was really exhilarating- but I remember thinking that I can’t concentrate too hard on any one thing or I’ll wake up and lose it all. I was able to exist in this not-concentrating-but-still-existing-and-enjoying state for a few minutes, and that’s the kind of thing I’d like to be able to do more. It was pretty euphoric.

Also, I’m somewhat unafraid of death, as came up in class. I’ve dreamt about dying a few times, and it’s always peaceful. I realize that, when I die, everything I’m trying so hard to accomplish won’t matter. I think that, the more I keep that in my mind, the more I’ll be able to accept the little things that come up, and the happier I’ll be.

Ultimately, it’s all about balance, just like everything else. Keeping my life in balance between the ambitious Westerner and the peaceful Easterner seems to be the key to happiness. But the more I put it into words, and the more I think about it, the more I just don’t get it, because there are some things you can’t figure out by thinking really hard. So I’ll stop now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Headline: Freed Nazi guard is a man without a country

Story: this former Nazi guard, Johann Leprich, was found and we tried to deport him, but no other country would take him.

Last two lines: "Leprich was arrested in 2003 when authorities found him hiding behind a panel under the basement stairs at his family's home about 20 miles northeast of Detroit."

Whoa. Apparently what goes around comes around.

Friday, October 13, 2006

One down, one to go

Just handing in the first project for THE HARDEST. Networks is half done. It doesn't get any harder than that.

I still hate it for killing my last week. Also for some other reasons. But whatever... done now... no more computers!

This is why I write down my dreams:

10/13/06: Gerrit was making some drinks. He had this bottle that said something like "Lake Trout" on it. I asked him what he was making, and he said it was a "One-Trick William." I said, "What's a One-Trick William?" He said (casually, as if this were something that everyone should know), "It's a vodka and fish."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Where's Dumbledore when you need him...

Geez. North Korea, come on.

Two books that I've read come to mind:
1. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer- just some novel. But there was a really interesting part: these aliens come to Earth and say that, although they can travel throughout the galaxy, they haven't found many other living species because, as they say, there's only a small window of time that any species can be found by extraterrestrials. Why? Because of technology. You can't be found by aliens unless you've developed radio. However, after you develop radio, technology keeps increasing faster and faster until a super-atomic-bomb, powerful enough to blow up the whole planet, becomes common enough that anyone can get one. And, sooner or later, someone who's actually mentally insane (if not someone who's just really power-hungry) will get one and detonate it.

2. Harry Potter- life's tough. But then Dumbledore swoops in, with about 30 pages left, and saves everything!

Oh well. It's like they say about toast: 185 pieces of toast walk into a bar, and SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Boycott 7up.

7up is now claiming to be "100% natural." It's all over their ad campaign.

Why this is false:
-7up still contains (a lot of) high fructose corn syrup, just like most sodas. High fructose corn syrup is like sugar, except it's distilled from corn in a factory. Sure, it came from corn originally, but that doesn't mean it's "natural."
-7up also contains potassium citrate. That's a chemical.
-To be fair, the drink is mostly carbonated water. That's not particularly natural either. But whatever- carbonated water, take it or leave it. The main issue is the HFCS.

Why this is bad:
-People might buy it, thinking it's actually natural, or even healthy.

What you should do:
-Boycott 7up.

-Spread the word.

-If you're a real badass, also boycott Dr. Pepper, A&W Root Beer, Snapple, Sunkist, Canada Dry, Hawaiian Punch, Schweppes, Mott's Apple Juice, IBC, Stewart's, Nantucket Nectars, and Orangina. They're all owned by Cadbury Schweppes, which owns 7up.

-Also boycott RC Cola, Diet Rite, Slush Puppie, Clamato, Mr. and Mrs. T, Holland House, Rose's, Mistic, and Yoo-hoo. Cadbury Schweppes also owns them. But who drinks them anyway?

As they say, this chaps my ass real bad.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I just experienced one of those moments that makes life worthwhile

walking back from Wean. It was dark, it smelled so much like fall, I was listening to "The Mistress Witch of McClure (or, the Mind that Knows Itself)" off of Sufjan Stevens's "The Avalanche", and it was warm. Just thought I'd share, so it doesn't seem like my life is all doom and gloom. Really, it's pretty nice most of the time!