NOTE TO SELF

January 17, 2008 at 3:00 am | Posted in blogging, computers, humor, silly nonsense | Leave a comment
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You know it when it happens. Something struck you while you were surfing the internet. You wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts, just post a few sentences before going to bed. But now it’s 3AM and you’re looking for evidence in the New York Times archives, trying to support your argument so you can weigh in on some debate on someone’s blog from 2 years ago. What happened to studying for finals? Why are you writing in such detail about something so completely unrelated to what you claim to be interested in at school? Why are you still UP?

It’s unclear.

Maybe you want attention. Maybe you’re a world-class procrastinator. Maybe you have some horrible, life-threatening disease. Or maybe you’re just really, really passionate about the moral dilemma of doctor-assisted suicide.

Do you remember what’s going to be on the test tomorrow? Do you remember the last time you saw the sun? Do you remember what your girlfriend (ex-girlfriend, as the case may be) looks like? And yes, it’s cheating to check Facebook.

Get a grip! Put on a jacket and go outside. Smell that? That’s air. Go to the library, where you can study without distractions. Take out some paper. Jot down notes. Start writing:

NOTE TO SELF…

Two more vectors

December 9, 2007 at 5:02 pm | Posted in artsy, computers, design, silly nonsense | 1 Comment
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As you can see, I haven’t gotten a lot of work done this week. These are the first two of 5 vector portraits I’m doing of my roommates (plus myself). They’ll all be integrated into some kind of poster/decoration eventually…

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Some of the line drawing is a little dubious, especially the parts on the second image where I had to make up areas that were cut off in the reference photograph. This is probably where it helps to be good at drawing in real life.

Why I will never become a professional t-shirt designer

December 3, 2007 at 11:06 pm | Posted in design, geeky, humor, music, silly nonsense | 2 Comments

My designs simply have too much mass appeal.

Actual Size:
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Milosz:
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What is my design philosophy? If you can understand it without going on Wikipedia, then it’s probably trite and uninteresting.

DSCH:

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The first day back at school: a cautionary tale.

September 12, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Posted in life, rambling, silly nonsense | Leave a comment

After moving in yesterday, I decided today to take a walk with my roommate around the campus. After trying to haggle over the price of 4 trash cans at a Habitat for Humanity charity sale (before realizing that it was a Habitat for Humanity charity sale), we spent the next hour and a half trying to buy new trash cans at a price that would justify our refusal of the used ones. This failed, as could be expected. While we walked home with our new, slightly too expensive trash cans, I began to muse on the deep dilemmas of life.

“Some days, like today, I take a look at the weather outside, and think to myself, ‘God it’s such a nice day. Look at the colors of the brick buildings, the leaves on the trees, the sky, and the Charles river. Look at those shadows and the patterns they make on the ground, and the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind, and, and. Why am I not outside? Why am I not lying naked on the grass, letting the cool breeze caress my sun-soaked body?’ Okay, maybe just ‘Why am I not outside?’ I want to go on a run, but I already went on one this morning, when it wasn’t as nice out. There’s no one to go read on the grass with me, and it’s slightly too cool to just lounge. So then…”

“So then you go back and check your email.” My roommate understands.

“Yeah, and to write on my blog.”

So there you have it. My tale of the proverbial Modern Technology usurping the proverbial Experiences That Matter.

I’m going to learn german.

April 1, 2007 at 8:48 pm | Posted in books, music, philosophical, rambling, silly nonsense, wistful musing | Leave a comment

Just kidding! Well, it might happen at some point in the unforeseeable future. To be honest, I never got past being mono-lingual. Telling people I’m fluent in Mandarin and French gives a nice warm fuzzy feeling and all, but speaking the two languages occasionally really is not like knowing them. If anything, there is a stage in language acquisition after the initial joy of picking up the alphabet and counting to ten and naming vegetables where formulating any sort of sentence is a dreadful experience. It’s just when that rote procedure of swapping words for concepts begins to become more — a new sort of consciousness, both culturally and probably linguistically as those networks of language synapses starts to coalesce and take on higher-order structures in your brain. That last statement was a metaphor, because I know nothing about the neurobiology of language acquisition or really of anything. See, bullshit like that would have been very hard to formulate convincingly in French. Or god forbid, Mandarin — who knows if the Chinese even admit the existence of metaphors.

I love that. The intractability of language. The fact that no translation is perfect, that it is hopeless to convey a concept (not really; “cultural-historical monument” is more like it) like “Liebestod” (love-death, a Wagner aria with massively Nietzschean connotations) or “C’est la vie” (well you understand that, but imagine if you tried to say it in English) through anything but an understanding of the entire culture that gave rise to it.

The challenge is almost like a sort of sensory-intellectual overload — I try to speak something, approach it with a half-assed English thought-concept that gets squeezed through a translation in my brain and comes out disfigured. I sense something lost in the translation but don’t know how or what. Or, I think in the foreign language, but can’t get the right answers — like there is an itch in the middle of my brain I can’t reach to scratch.

I don’t have any answers. Hopefully some day I will have a chance to be immersed in the language and culture of my interests, but now I’m going to keep being puzzled, as is the pathological wont of one whose extracurricular interests don’t lend themselves to any sort of practical purpose whatsoever. To continue this allusion-filled elitist musing inspired by the manner of, but inferior to, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, the next paragraph will be a rapid-fire series of references to cultural works that I don’t understand and never will, and which you won’t either. Stay tuned for next time, when I will give a nihilist’s interpretation of The Wasteland, along with select verses by Billy Collins.

Here goes. This bit of underwhelming, overenthusiastic rambling was brought to you by Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, along with Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy and the movie from the last post. I’ll probably be studying (and not understanding) some Schopenhauer next and thinking about stringing together words and capitalizing them to make myself sound more intellectual, not to mention listening to some SongsOnTheDeathOfChildren. Rest assured though, I’ll be avoiding such gems of dubious literary/moral merit as Mein Kampf, as well as stuff that might make my brain explode all over my desk, including long essays mentioning the word “Oedipus” that aren’t written by a playwright or in Greek.

What I learned in organic chemistry today

February 12, 2007 at 6:11 pm | Posted in humor, rambling, school, silly nonsense | 5 Comments

Not only is my professor an intellectual giant in the fields of chemistry and biology, his lectures provide me with indispensable artistic inspiration.

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On Gays, Dreams, Puns and Punishments

December 13, 2006 at 12:46 am | Posted in rambling, sarcastic, silly nonsense | Leave a comment

My roommate had a dream last night about chemical reactions. I had one about Soviet Russia in the 1940’s. In his dream, free radicals wreaked havoc all over the place. In mine, they were all imprisoned in Gulags.

Cymbal crash. Har har. Apologies. In my defense, however, the dream was real. Moreover, not only was I in Soviet Russia, I was there with a Canon Digital SLR camera that I stole from a friend in the current decade (the 00’s? the zeros?), and then transported back in time. Somehow my geeky Christmas list has transcended boundaries of consciousness and time and intersected with a dark, repressed nostalgia for the motherland. The wrong motherland, mind you — I pledge allegiance to the land of reds and rice paddies. That explains why I dream about taking crystal clear, 8-megapixel photographs but not why they should all be of Spetsnaz agents. Repressed dreams for repressive regimes, I guess.

Speaking of which, you’ll be happy to know that my friends (i.e. superiors) over at the Harvard International Review agree with me that Putin is a schmuck. Only they seem rather delighted about it. Sadly, given the shoddy nature of international jurisprudence, he’ll probably still end up living a long and prosperous life.

Turns out Polonium 210 isn’t the only thing in that sushi bar you should be worried about. The tofu is even worse. Here’s a gem courtesy of friend and fellow blogger villedesanges on the dangers of soy:

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That’s why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today’s rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t homosexual.” No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can’t remember a time when excess estrogen wasn’t influencing them.

Oh, but don’t you worry:

Soy sauce is fine. Unlike soy milk, it’s perfectly safe because it’s fermented, which changes its molecular structure. Miso, natto and tempeh are also OK, but avoid tofu.

This explains everything. It’s not that there are no homosexuals in Asia, it’s because we ALL are! Finally we know why vegetarians are such a bunch of effeminite ninnies. Clearly, a big, red, juicy slab of cow is just about the only way a man can get all the essential amino acids without losing all his masculinity. Thinking about becoming a pornstar? Avoid soy.

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