Text Messages #4


From Ariel, after visiting me in Dykstra:

OMG when I was on my way down the elevator doors opened and Yong was sitting in his hallway reading a bedtime story to his residents, who were all gathered around him. I kid you not.

From Lauren, regarding her residents:
Lol just dont mess with my kids. I cant imagine what it will be like when they are my biological kids. Beware.

From Yong, being unusually upbeat:
The weather is lovely outside. Good day to you!

From Ariel, in regards to me hanging out with Aaron:
Haha old men.

From Sarah, regarding her new pet:
I got a baby wolf.
We adopted him. Hes all white and 7 weeks old.

From Ariel, boosting my ego (I don't remember the context):
WOW. Man of the year.

From Ariel, further boosting my ego (separate occasion):
Lol you are such a badass. Speaking of which, I told [boyfriend] how you documented [the evil housing guy nobody likes], and now he officially has a man crush on you.

From Yong, continuing to be ridiculously upbeat and optimistic:
I know there is a rainbow for me to follow to get beyond my sorrows, thunder precedes the sunlight so i'll be alright, if i can find that rainbow's end.

From Lauren, regarding going to a country bar for her birthday:
Thanks! As for the country, suck it up, you will survive. Promise!

From Ariel, while I was at the above-mentioned country bar:
Having fun making a fool out of yourself yet?

From Ariel, after I told her I was being positive, and actually enjoying myself at the country bar:
Well then I'm proud of you, slugger.

From Lauren, after I admitted that I actually did enjoy myself:
Yeah country music can be fun!

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You Tell 'em Kid


I just saw this video today (even though it's almost a year old it seems), and thought it was pretty cool.

Basically, this guy gave a speech that the kids at the school thought was hilarious, but not the administrators. So they took "disciplinary action", which prompted this follow-up video:

Now, do I think his speech was out of line?

Not at all. The only questionable part I can find is the comment about one of the teachers. However, he also claims that she doesn't teach there any more, so while still slightly tasteless, can't really be considered offensive or attacking.

He also pokes fun at another student at the very end, which could've been considered inappropriate, except that student got up and continued the joke, so he obviously wasn't offended. Thus, no problem.

The issue that administrators raised was that, when taken out of context, some of his comments were very inappropriate. Which is very true.

HOWEVER, that's when you take them OUT OF CONTEXT. He wasn't saying these things OUT of context; they were IN context, and in the context he used them, they were satirical, but hardly inappropriate or harassing.

Everything he said (except, arguably, the comment about the teacher) was acceptable in that context, and he shouldn't be punished for it.

And, truth be told, I think the administrators knew that. Deep down, I think they understood that there was no ill intent. But they had a knee-jerk reaction, started an "investigation", and all that jazz. Administrators are like that; go against what they expect, and they freak out, even if you aren't doing anything unreasonable.

But really, when you look at the sanctions imposed on him for this, the administrators did shit compared to the "charges" they drew up. They needed to puff themselves up, but didn't really do anything.

Though, it should be noted that I don't think he got off easy simply because the administrators knew deep down that it was just satirical. I don't think they consciously knew that. I think they are under the impression that their response was justified and of an appropriate scale. Which of course means that they're really just idiots.

Kudos to Brandon for having a brain.

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Classical v. Romantic


I’ve been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again. It’s a great book, and I try to recommend it to everybody who asks. My dad had originally suggested that I read it, but I was always hesitant. Even though he insisted that it wasn’t really about motorcycles, I still didn’t think it’d be something I’d like. But then I saw it on our list of outside reading options in Senior year, and decided to give it a try.

I love it, hence the second read. It’s also EXTREMELY dense reading… another reason for a second read-through. I’ll most likely read it again sometime soon, taking fairly detailed notes along the way. But this read-through is just to re-acquaint myself with the themes, and get myself thinking again.

The first time I read it, the concept that really stood out was that of Quality, and the suggestion that it isn’t inherent in objects, but ascribed by our minds. Quality is a construct of our mind.

It reminded me of the line from Hamlet that goes something along the lines of “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” (I think that’s a Hamlet line… I’ll have to double-check at some point).

I haven’t gotten to the discussion about Quality yet, as I’m not very far. That discussion takes up a lot of the book, which is why I remember it more than anything else. But by not starting it yet, I’ve been able to absorb another, underlying concept – that of the dichotomy in world views.

To summarize, we can split the views of the world into two different camps: “classical” and “romantic” (I use quotes because these are the words of the author… I think I’d prefer more descriptive names, personally, though I’m not sure what they’d be).

The romantic view is the more common one these days, I believe. The author asserts that fact about the 70s, when the book was written, but I’d say it still holds. Basically, romantic thinkers view things for what they are, and ascribe values in that manner. The book makes use of motorcycles in lots of examples, and says that a romantic thinker sees the motorcycle for what it is, what it looks like, what it does.

Classical thinkers, on the other hand, are more concerned with the HOW. They see the underlying form of objects, and ascribe values to that. Mechanics, for example, don’t see motorcycles as motorcycles, but as a complex system of valves and pipes and spark plugs and so on.

The problem, the author claims, is that there is little, if any, reconciliation between these two world views. There’s a really nice example in the book, which I’ll summarize, to (hopefully) illustrate this:

The narrator is a classical person, and his friend and fellow motorcyclist is a romantic. When his friend, John, is having issues with his bike (a brand new BMW), he brings it to the narrator to look at.

The narrator discovers that the problem can be solved by using a shim – a thin piece of metal. So he goes, grabs a beer can off the workbench, and begins to cut a small piece from it to use.

John, however, freaks out about this idea, and refuses to do this, and leaves.

The underlying issue was that the narrator, a classical thinker, sees the how, the underlying form of the bike (and the problem). He sees a solution, and sets about solving it. He sees WHAT the shim does, HOW it works, and ascribes value (a fairly high one, incidentally) to it as a result.

His friend John, however, sees only a slice of a beer can, and for whatever reason, doesn’t want to fix his bike with a beer can. He sees only WHAT the shim was – a beer can – and ascribes a value (a very low one, incidentally) to it as a result.

The reason that this whole discussion has been weighing on my mind is that I am very much a “classical” person. Now, most people, I feel, can exist at some level in either view. But primarily, we are attached to one view, and for me, it’s the classical one.

I would have NO problem using a slice of a beer can to fix something, provided it’ll do the trick. And we can see that in other aspects, such as the dress shoes argument (which I’ll have to write about in detail later). To people like Aubrey, there is a HUGE difference between dress shoes and “normal” shoes; there are significant differences in what they ARE.

But to me, they’re both a pair of shoes; to me, they DO the same thing. The underlying form is very similar, if not identical. And that’s the source of our disagreement on the topic. Neither view is right or wrong; they’re just two sides of the same coin.

They’re just two ways of looking at the world.

One of the things I found interesting while reading about the classical view though was the claim that the word “good”, as well as all of its synonyms and antonyms, don’t exist in a purely classical view.

I agree with this, to an extent. I think that when you’re discussion something classically, there isn’t a need to use those words. Now, they can be used, and I think people will understand what you mean, but they just aren’t that precise. I think the more appropriate base word would be “efficient”, or perhaps “effective” (depending on the situation).

In the case of the shim, you can decide to compare a real, factory-made-and-guaranteed shim to one cut from a beer can. Both are effective, though perhaps the “real” one is MORE effective. I think people would be tempted to say that the factory one is “better”, which has a similar meaning, but just isn’t as precise as saying “more effective”. But even this is a shaky use, because if the beer can shim WORKS, then it’s not really fair to suggest that another one is “more effective”. The beer can solves the problem – that’s the crux of effectiveness (and, you could argue, it's far more efficient too!).

I could go on about this, but I think this gives a good intro idea to how I usually see things in the world, and why I’m often at odds with other people as a result. I’d like to write more on this general topic, using other examples beyond the book, but that’ll have to come later, as I’m overdue now for some sleep.

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Fuck umbrellas. Seriously.

So it's been raining the past couple of days here in LA. Normally, I like the rain. Not a huge fan of walking around while it is actually raining, but I like the weather in general. But I can't stand people and their damn umbrellas.

It seems like such a strange thing to get worked up about. In fact, I only know of one other person who shares these feelings (though I'm sure there are others). But she agrees... Umbrellas suck.

Now, I'm not just bitching for the sake of bitching; I have actual, tangible reasons for why I feel this way.

First and foremost is that they significantly impact the normal flow of foot traffic. A normal umbrella extends the amount of space each person takes up by a radius of eight or so inches (give or take a couple, depending on the original size of the person). So now, when people are walking, it's much harder to move through foot traffic, because there are all these damn umbrellas in the way.

And, with all this extra space being taken up, people tend to move slower too. So not only is it harder to move around due to the amount of space each person takes up, they also move slower, thus FURTHER impeding the normal flow of foot traffic. Or you can further compound the problem by trying to cram as many people under one umbrella as possible, thus turning your umbrella group into a clusterfuck of slow moving morons.

Another facet of the problem is that people don't generally walk around with things like umbrellas in their hands. We, as a culture, aren't used to this; it's not part of our natural way of walking. When I was in martial arts, the key thing to being able to handle any of the demo weapons was to make it an extension of yourself. But nobody does that with their umbrellas. They're just walking around, unable to wield this bulky thing sensibly.

And what's worse is that the edges of the umbrella are ARMED WITH FUCKING SPIKES! So not only is it hard to move past this slow-moving herd of people senselessly wielding umbrellas, but if I even think about it, I get poked in the eye! Everybody holds their umbrellas just above eye level, which means their spikes are right around the eye level of other people!

I suppose you could try to argue that despite these shortcomings, the inherent utility of an umbrella makes up for it. But you'd be wrong. So wrong.

See, umbrellas don't keep you all that dry. Rain often falls at (or rather, is blown at) an angle; so while your umbrella might be keeping your head somewhat dry, your body is still getting hit.

"But Jeremy," the umbrella defenders cry out, "that's the point! We don't want our heads to get wet!"

To which I reach over, and pull their damn hoods onto their heads. Unless they're one of the MANY people who wear a hood, and STILL use an umbrella!

There's pretty much nothing useful that an umbrella accomplishes that can't be better accomplished by a waterproof jacket. And a jacket has the added bonuses of:

1) Keeping you warm.
2) Keeping your body dry.
3) Keeping your personal impact on the walking area intact.
4) Not poking me in the damn eye!

In heavy rain, we can make an exception. But this is LA, not Seattle. We don't get heavy rain. We get a fine mist, and cloudy skies. So put that shit away, because I might just break the next one that pokes me in the eye.

In conclusion, fuck umbrellas.

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Text Messages #3


From My Brother, who apparently can't spell:

When you coming home batch?

From Aubrey, regarding my new dress shoes:
OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG tell whoever bought you those MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! holy shit i cant wait to see them

From Ariel, regarding my new dress shoes:
YES!! Who gave you those?! That person is my new hero. Please tell me you'll actually wear them now lol

From Ariel, thanking my mom for buying those dress shoes:
Dear Mrs. Dempster, thank you so much for giving your son something to wear that's actually fashionable and adheres to the norms of society. With love and respect, Ariel.

From AJ, regarding being at the Chargers-Broncos game:
hell yeah! go bolts!

From AJ, regarding the outcome of the Chargers-Broncos game:
hell yeah!!! what a great game!!

From Ariel, in response to me giving honest praise:
Shut up. That better not have been sarcasm.

From Lauren, with a very valid question:
Does anyone but us go to ochc programs?

From Lauren, on passing time during really boring meetings:
We're playing monopoly on the cell phones.

From Ariel, after my staff was the only one to do a real cheer:
I'm humiliated for you.

From Lauren, in regards to my plans to sit around all day watching football playoffs:
Massive man points 4 u

From My Youngest Brother, after I told him to turn on the Charger's playoff game:
Already there.

From My Mom, regarding the aforementioned game:
Go chargers

From AJ, also regarding the aforementioned game:

From Ariel, regarding me having a final paper... in an Upper Division MATH class!
What?! Are you sure you're in the right class? Haha.

From Ariel, regarding why our classes are so screwy this quarter:
I don't know, but it's going to be an interesting quarter!

From Ariel, regarding fire alarms:
We just had alarm number 11
My bad. This one is number 12.

From Ariel, after I witnessed a kid just walk by a burning trash can, and pour his gatorade on it, extinguishing it:
OMG best story ever. That guy is my new hero.

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