Friday, January 31, 2003

Irrelevant Protestors

First, I’d just like to throw out that I managed to whet my whistle a little bit for Saturday’s Juliana Theory concert by going down to the pub last night to check out a couple of local acts with Nicole (thanks again for inviting and thinking of me!). The first band to play was a band called Roger……yep, just called Roger. I really enjoyed their hour long set. To get a grip on their sound, think of The Vines doing classic rock. Part of the reason I thought that when watching was because of the guitar tones they used and also the lead singer was strikingly similar to the singer of The Vines. They did two awesome covers, one was “My Generation” by The Who and the other was “Helter Skelter” by U2 (which was originally done by The Beatles, I know that). They pulled out another classic rock cover but I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out who originally did it. I really liked them and they got me primed for seeing the second band of the night.

The second and main act of the night was Paul Christianson. Nicole told me before we went that he sounded kind of like John Mayer and that set off alarms in my head right away as I cannot stand Mr. Mayer. I don’t know why, but I just don’t like his music. Fortunately, Paul was a lot better than the aforementioned John Mayer. Paul and his band played mostly really basic folk rock so I didn’t enjoy them as much as Roger, but they were still entertaining. He also played a couple of cover songs, but he didn’t tell us who they were by and I didn’t recognize them since I don’t really follow the folk rock scene very much. All in all it was well worth my $2……err, wait, my $4 since someone forgot their wallet……just kidding Nicole J Oh yeah, before I forget, the drummer for Roger was uber-happy the entire time he played. I’ve never seen a musician with such a big grin on his face while playing. He made my night!

The second big thing I wanted to make sure to throw out today was a little commentary on protests. As I was walking back from one of my classes yesterday, outside of Sexton a group of about 25 people were gathered holding signs telling us that war is wrong and singing songs about peace. Now would you please tell me what in the hell this is going to accomplish? I’ll tell you exactly what it accomplishes. They managed to pull off looking like jack-asses quite well. They are annoying and make people uncomfortable as they walk by.

A protest shouldn’t make people want to ignore you. A protest should educate the people that come by. Were these people doing that by singing and holding up signs that said “Say No to War!”? No. Take the time to talk to people and let them know about your stance and platform instead of singing children’s songs about peace. Solicit information describing your group and cause instead of standing out there, unorganized, looking like a bunch of 3rd graders who wanted to sit outside at recess and sing songs together. Be intelligent about your subject matter. Telling us to say no to war is a no-brainer. Who actually is pro-war? Honestly, how many people do you know that walk around saying “I love war. We need a lot more of it.”? Tell us why this particular instance of war is bad. Give me some evidence as to why it is wrong. Opinions and songs don’t matter—information and factual support for your argument do. All these peace study majors wonder why they get the bad name of being quacks, but they should merely look at themselves when they do something like this and they will find out that the tagging of their major as being dumb might not be too far from the truth.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Ron Artest and My Indiana Pacers

Oh baby, guess who’s #1 in the ESPN NBA power rankings? Yep, that’s right, my Indiana Pacers. They have been on such a roll as of late. Despite all of the controversy over Ron Artest they are still managing to play great ball. I’m really disappointed that they won’t be back in town to play the Wolves again this year and that I missed when they did play here back in November. I still haven’t gotten to a T-Wolves game yet this year which is unusual as I usually get to at least one, if not a couple, every year. I’m not hinting or anything for anyone to take me to a game……ok, yes I am. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch a game or two before the season is over. I guess I just haven’t had the time (or tickets for that matter) yet to go.

One thing that has been bothering me about the Pacers, however, has actually been Ron Artest. I don’t know if any of you have heard some of the news on what he’s been doing lately, but he is one violent mofo when he doesn’t do well. He’s on suspension right now for insulting a ref, “gesturing to the crowd”, arguing with Pat Riley, and committing a very flagrant flagrant foul. This isn’t just an isolated incident. He has also thrown a TV monitor and destroyed a $100,000 camera in New York along with having many violent fouls throughout the season. I think he might be just a little bit off his rocker, but he plays some great ball. I don’t think Indiana would be doing as well as they are without him, but he is definitely a problem.

Shifting gears a little here…I had a wonderful logic test yesterday. I was not in class for the review session, but some of my fellow students told me that he wanted word for word, verbatim definitions of all the terms that we use. I really hope that he wasn’t serious because I didn’t memorize them word for word because I knew their meanings. What is the point of memorizing something exactly? How could that possibly benefit you when you know the definitions already, just not word for word. If anything you are just going to get yourself confused by making sure you know the exact order of the words in a definition or making sure you use a “the” instead of “a” or something just plain dumb like that. We’ll see when I get the test back next week (or maybe even Friday if Tim was ambitious in grading out tests).

Since I had a test, I decided to take the rest of the night off to try and relax. I went over to St. Ben’s to do some homework, visit Kristin, and watch a movie. I basically just lounged around over there being lazy. Sometimes you just need a night like that, you know? Oh, but before I went over there, right after the test I had decided that I needed to do some senseless killing so I finally finished Delta Force: Land Warrior. This whole playing video games concept is starting to catch back on. Oh, how I’ve missed them. I’m torn now as to what I want to play. I’ve started Hitman 2 a few days ago, but it’s frickin’ tough so I don’t know if I should start a new game or keep plugging away until I break my computer in frustration. If I start a new game, that presents a new problem as I have a bunch that I want to play. My main choices would be Mafia, Red Faction, Aliens vs. Predator 2, Freedom Force, or No One Lives Forever 2. I’m torn so if you would like to help me figure out which one to play next, please email me and let me know.

Well, I’m done with work here in a minute or two. It’s time to go home and get myself a nice, big mug of coffee to get me going. I don’t think I would be able to do as much reading as I have to do this semester without the aid of my wonderful caffeinated friend, coffee. Mmm…here I come breakfast.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I Hate Tampa Bay

This past weekend was one of many interesting happenings, some good and some bad. Let’s start with the good because it is always more fun to hear about that, isn’t it? I like to think so. Oh, and sorry for not putting anything up lately. I’ve had a lot of reading and writing to do for my classes. It should cool down after tomorrow……hopefully.

Anyhow, Friday I went to see Darkness Falls, which sucked. To make up for the suckiness of the movie, Kristin took me out to eat at Guadalehara (I’m pretty sure I spelled it wrong, but I never was very good at Spanish). I must say that this place is great if you love Mexican food. The food here is very similar in nature to what I’d usually get at Fiesta Mexicana in Rochester. I had the steak ranchero and it was so good. I admit it was very spicy and I don’t have the tolerance for hot food as much as I used to, but boy did it just hit the spot. The rest of the night was basically made up of playing video games and just chilling.

Saturday I did a whole lot of homework. I had a couple of books that I needed read for this week so most of the day consisted of laying on the couch with a book in my hands (and napping occasionally because one of the books is just uber-boring). In the afternoon, I went with Nikki and a bunch of people to go see Bowling for Columbine. I thought this film was absolutely great. I also think it ran a little long, but that’s forgivable as Michael Moore had a lot to say. He should have, though, focused what he was going to say. As the movie went from start to finish Moore jumped all over the place and went from topic to topic, sometimes it seemed without a connection to the material that came before it. In that sense, this movie was very incoherent, but in another sense, it brings up so much that you have a lot to discuss after you leave the movie theater. After the movie I spent the rest of the night in my apartment. I did a bunch more homework and then watched a movie with Karl and his girlfriend Julie. It happened to be Ronin, a wonderfully good heist movie.

Sunday I had a lot to do as well. I got up, goofed around for a while, then headed over to St. Ben’s because we had callbacks for Attention Starved Children, the improv group up here. As you will remember I did not get in last semester because of unknown reasons, and this semester you will also be glad to know that I did not get in, because one of the members thought I was “difficult.” Hmmm…yeah, that seems like an improv disability. It wasn’t because I couldn’t develop characters, it wasn’t because I didn’t know the rules of improv, it wasn’t a lack of energy, it wasn’t anything to do with improv at all, the lead of the group simply didn’t like me. Well, whatever, life goes on. It just pisses me off that some people have to base things on personal prejudice instead of what they really should be basing it on—talent.

After tryouts, I watched the Super Bowl at O’Connell’s with Karl, Kristin, and Nichole. Unfortunately the game didn’t swing the way I wanted it to. I was really hoping Oakland would win because I can’t stand Warren Sapp and Keyshaun Johnson. They both just bother me because they are overly cocky. I did, however, win a whopping $5 off of the game as the total of the two teams scores at half time added up to my number in our little apartment pool. Yippee!

The rest of that night I was off to play volleyball, which didn’t take long at all as the team we played sucked horribly, and the team we played on Monday also sucked horribly. I wish those teams would realize how much they suck and move down to the “C” division or something, where all the sucky teams should be in the first place. It’s just no fun to play against teams that you can destroy. There’s no competition and it isn’t nearly as fun. Anyways, I’m off to class, but I wanted to get this up before I went there since one of my avid readers…*cough*Nicole*cough*…is getting really antsy for something new.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Stupid Chalk Writing

Roe v. Wade—a very important and landmark decision in governmental medical policy in our wonderful United States. Was it the right decision? In my mind, no—and that is an adamant no, in case you couldn’t tell. I’m sure that I am quite biased in this case, simply because I love life, but I have just a hard time understanding the entire concept of abortion. For me, it is simply terminating a child—and by terminate I mean kill. In the United States killing someone is murder and punishable to the full extent of the law……unless the murdered is still in the womb, then it’s cool and supported by the masses.

I was reminded of this case because yesterday both the SJU and CSB campuses were covered in chalk drawings and posters and crap about this landmark decision. Now realize that St. John’s and St. Ben’s are Catholic private colleges. For all that I have been taught and what I have noticed, is it not the Catholic belief that abortion is wrong? They seem to state that it is. We are a Catholic campus so how come there is all of this open support for abortion on our campuses? I suppose we could say that they are supporting choice, but that is simply renaming what you are talking about. Do they simply not want to create a controversy? I prayed all day yesterday for rain to wash away all of the stupid chalk writings on our sidewalks.

Another thing that I have issues with is the shifty beliefs of some of the pro-choice supporters. By being pro-choice you endorse the Roe v. Wade case outcome, and that is that an unborn child is technically not a person. If it is not a person, it is simply an extension of the female’s body, such as tonsils or her spleen or something. Tonsils and other organs are removed and when removed, die. These tissues can then be put to medical research use without any controversy. Following from the Roe v. Wade decision, a fetus is equivalent to your tonsils. Since this is the case, stem cell research on fetuses should be a normal thing to do. Why, oh why then do pro-choice supporters also claim that stem cell research is a terrible thing to do? You just killed the fetus so why not at least get something to benefit society from that lost life? I just wanted to explode from the illogical fallacy of this line of reasoning. If you are pro-choice, by the law you don’t view a fetus as a person so why the hell does it matter what is done once it is removed???

I’m sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. Now that my moral diatribe on pro-choicers is over I can move on. Anyhow, yesterday I went to tryouts for Attention Starved Children again. There were only like six people trying out so it was a little different having more members there than people trying out. I really don’t know if I’ll get in this time either for reasons stated in past random thoughts, and if I compared how I was at last night’s tryouts to last semester’s tryouts, I don’t think I was quite as smooth. Eh, we’ll see come Sunday because that’s call-backs and they had everyone called back. The rest of the night I was just kind of grumpy so that was unfortunate for anyone who was around me. Well, I’m spent for the morning. I’m going to go head home now and catch a nap before class.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Visitation and Video Games

Last night seemed to be a night for everyone under the sun to come visit our apartment. After going into town to pick up The Bourne Identity and About a Boy on dvd, I came home to play some video games for a while before Kristin came over after her stint at teaching confirmation……err…CCD maybe…or something like that. Catholics are weird. Just call confirmation class, confirmation class and communion, communion and pastors, pastors. Enough with all the weird name stuff—CCD, Eucharist, priests, bishops, rooks, pawns, and the like. I guess that’s just my little beef with the Catholic church.

So I played some Delta Force: Land Warrior when I got home. I haven’t played video games since like last summer and now all of the sudden I have the urge to start playing again. I’m really liking Land Warrior because I get to play a sniper-type super soldier in the American army taking out terrorists. It’s a good relief for all of the pent up frustrations that I build up in some of my classes. It was also good to play Tekken 4 against Kristin because I could kick her ass most of the time (she did get some good wins in at the beginning, but then I hit my stride) and that helped boost my video game self-worth because most of the time I'm getting blown away by my brother Ryan or Karl or other people. I'm sure, if given enough time, Kristin is going to be able to easy defeat me......but let's hope that is a little ways off so that I can enjoy winning for a little bit!

Anyhow, as I was saying before, last night we had visitors galore. First, Amanda came over to visit Andy because it was their cuddle night for the week. Every Wednesday they have cuddle night where they both snuggle up on the couch, watch tv, and be all lovey-dovey. I think it’s cute. So Amanda was over, and then Kristin came over after teaching and we cooked up some T-bone steaks for supper. Oooohhh, so good! I love the choice meat that my family gets straight from the butcher. No middle-men or grocery stores—just meat straight from the cow, the way it should be. Over Christmas break my family got another 200 lbs. of meat to use over the next year so I brought a bunch to school since we had 200 frickin’ pounds! Ahh, the benefits of living on a farm.

Anyhow, we got done eating and Andy & Amanda wanted to watch a movie so we threw in Chasing Amy. As we were watching the movie, Jax from my volleyball team stopped in to say hi. I hadn’t seen her since before break so it was good to say hi for a bit. Later on Nikki came to visit with some girl I didn’t know and Brittany. After they got there, Ryan and Jeff both came over. Also during the course of the night Jared and Grew both stopped in on and off.

I really love it when people stop in because it makes it seem like you are a wanted person; people actually want to come see you! It was always weird being in the country where no one ever came to visit because everyone lived so far away that you couldn’t just walk down the road to hang out. I was used to being solitary, but college helped to turn me into more of a social animal. Now I crave contact and I will miss the atmosphere of college when I finally have to leave it in a little under a year. It’s also hard to imaging that in like less than two months I’ll be 22. I honestly have a hard time coming to grips with the reality of my being as old as I am. I am still so na├»ve to most of the world that I wonder how well I’ll be able to fit into the “real world”. Everyone here on campus assumes I’m a sophomore since my best friends are and I only wish that I could make that true. I know that I’m not even close to being done learning all that I want to. Sometimes it’s a very suffocating thought to know the reality of the limited amount of time I have left to spend here and that only begs to bring up the reality of my own mortality which gives me shakes and shivers to no end. Ok, I’m not going to go there and think about that now. I’ll just be done for the day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Random, Senseless Babble

Last night was an interesting philosophy-tinged day. In my morality class we discussed Albert Camus and his philosophy on life. I found much of what he said very, very interesting. In the most basic sense Camus can be thought of as a nihilist, but he says so much more than what most nihilists believe. First, Camus believes that the universe is indifferent and silent to our search for meaning. There is no God, there is no “higher meaning”, there is no abstract set of morals governing our existence—there is merely silence. Humans, on the other hand, form moral standards, moral codes, rules for existence, and other things like that to give their lives meaning. We do this, and live by what we create simply out of a sense of comfort, because that is what we get used to. Now, in every person’s life, they will come to a point where the two concepts will clash. Our morals will come into question and we will cry out and ask “Why?” and when that question is asked, the universe will reply with silence. This realization, this disparity between our two “worlds” is what Camus refers to as the absurd. This confrontation between both worlds is where we must live. We must strike an equilibrium between the moral code we are used to and the realization that there is no basis for it—it is merely a construct. I am definitely simplifying his argument here and I really don’t know enough about Camus so I shouldn’t be expounding on him, but this whole concept is so interesting that it is hard to ignore.

This concept came up later on in the day when I was watching Donnie Darko. If you haven’t seen this movie—do it! In it, a high school student who appears to be schizophrenic discusses with his therapist the meaning of life and God and how he can’t feel either and that looking for them may be absurd. It was such a connection to Camus that I couldn’t help but pause the movie, rewind a bit, and watch it over again. You may be thinking right now, “this kid is a real dork,” but I simply love the big concepts that define our existence—my fascination with philosophy, if you will.

From the movie, our readings for class, and our class discussion, I started to wonder myself upon the nature of the universe. I am also a computer science major so I’ve gotten plenty of experience of looking at the universe as a purely cold, unobtrusive machine. Now when I think about it, how can we be so sure there is some God out there and that what we are doing is really the right thing? The universe gives us no real answers except that of order. Everything in the universe follows some type of pattern, order, or rule. These are the rules of physics and science, not of morality. Morality is a human formed concept. With the universe and science, if you combine two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, you will get the compound of water. We can’t say the same thing for morality. If you have two houses burning down, one containing a billion dollars and the other a human child, you have no concrete rule that says we will pick one or the other—it all depends on one’s own moral values and everyone seems to possess different ones.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I thought I’d throw it out there just to put down some of my thoughts onto paper, or the computer screen in this case. I am quite interested to read more Camus to follow up on these interesting ideas. Who knew that it would be possible to enjoy class and homework? Man, I’m such a nerd.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Slinging Discs in Duluth

Wowsers, that was a long weekend. To start it all off, here’s an update on that wretched piece of technology I call my computer. You know how I kept getting that blank black screen when I was trying to install windows? I found out that the reason it did that wasn’t because of a problem with my computer or the installation process, but instead it was a problem with my monitor. When installing XP, the video signal is given a sleep signal and then given the actual signal, and by doing this, my monitor failed to get any signal after the sleep signal was sent so it just didn’t do anything, but the computer was actually doing something. I found this out by hooking my roommate’s monitor up to my computer since his acknowledged the signal that came. Finding that out, I finally got my frickin’ computer back up and running……mostly. I’m in the process of re-installing a lot of apps I had installed before. I also now have the Pro version of XP instead of the Home version, which sucks I might tell you. If you’re going to go with XP make sure you get the Pro version. Anyhow, I hate computers.

Saturday I started off nice and early since I had to get up and take Kristin to the dentist in the early hours of the morning. She had her wisdom teeth out a week and a half ago and one of the sockets was still bleeding so she had to have some gauze stuff changed that was jammed in the hole. Makes me glad I got to keep my wisdom teeth. After that we went out for breakfast at Perkins. It seems like Perkins is the only place that I’ve ever been to when going out to eat for breakfast. Is there really anywhere else to go to get breakfast in the mornings? If there is, I haven’t ever been there. Perkins was followed by getting some new fishies for my tank and heading home for a long four and a half hour nap. I was a tired cookie.

That night Kristin and I attended the performance of Luma at the BAC at St. Ben’s. We had tried to get tickets a week ago and were told that it was sold out so we put our names down on a waiting list. Two days before the show Kristin got a call asking if we still wanted tickets, and of course we did, so she told the person on the phone we’d love to take some if they had any left. They told her that we would have front-row center seat tickets because some people had cancelled. How lucky are we? I’m so glad we had such good seats as well because the performance was amazing. Imagine a mixture of juggling, comedy, light show, and magic all performed in pitch black to techno and classical music. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the show.

Sunday and Monday our frisbee team had a tournament in Duluth, so we took off Sunday morning to go play. We got home yesterday night at about 6:30 and I am unbelievably sore. I must be getting old or something. Actually, I think it’s because I hadn’t done any physical activity for 3 weeks because I was sick and then I was forced to play six ultimate games. I suppose that was kind of a shock to my body and it wasn’t quite ready for it yet. I had a great time at the tourney, though, and I thought we did very well.

We started with pool play on Sunday. First off, we played Winona State and beat them quite easily. I think we beat them by 8 or 9. We played a very good, tight game which we usually have a hard time doing in first games. Our second game was against U of M Duluth A team. This game we also played very tightly, but we also made enough small mistakes to keep us from winning. We lost on the last point, unfortunately, so that was a hard loss to take. I think we could have easily won if not for some bad defensive choices made throughout the game. Our last game of the day was against Hopkins and we kind of obliterated them. I think the final score was something in the realm of 21 or 22 to 5 or something like that. We had lots of chances to stretch them out and work on some of our long plays. It was also a lot of fun playing them because they never got down on themselves and they are a bunch of fun kids. I hope they do great in the future.

Our second day of the tournament consisted of the actual bracket tournament. We started off playing U of M Duluth B team. We managed to handle them quite well and won by 7 or 8. We were all pretty sore from the day before so it was nice to have a somewhat easy game to get our juices flowing. Our second game was against our arch rivals, St. Cloud State. They’ve got guys playing on this team that have been there for way more than four years, so it makes it almost unfair, but whatever. I just don’t like anyone on their team and they don’t like me, so we just play. We played them evenly up to 9-9 and then they went on a four point run to beat us. We just fell apart at the end instead of coming up big for the win. We just lost flow on offense and couldn’t convert for any scores. After that disheartening loss, we were in the 3rd place game against U of M. This game was also very close and was 10-9 towards the end and then U of M went on a 3-1 run for the win. Again, our offense just couldn’t convert. So we ended up coming out of the tourney in 4th place, which is exactly where they ranked us coming in. It’s too bad we couldn’t move up the rankings a little.

Now I have to get hard to work on all of the homework that I didn’t get done this weekend. I hope all of you had a good day off for Martin Luther King Day. I know I enjoyed mine playing disc and skipping class. Keep it real!

Friday, January 17, 2003

Technological Piece of Manure

Why, oh why, do you forsake me technology? What did I do to anger you? No answer? If that will be the case, then I damn thee to the deepest depths of the great dark underworld for your unfaithfulness to me. I have no pity for you and your unreliability. Your untrusting attitude shames me and I feel nothing in the realm of remorse as dismantle your being. I will tear you down and recreate you for failing me in my times of need. Your infidelity to my needs is unforgivable and I will have my retribution upon you. I will get even, yes, I will.

Ok, now that I’ve got that out of my system I’ll let you all know that my computer is uber-funked up. Yep, fubar in all senses of the word. You see, I had to restart it yesterday and as I did it came up to the opening log on screen, but this time it was different. Instead of listing the user names and such so that I could log on, I was faced with the stupid Windows XP logo and nothing else. There was no way for me to possibly log on. After many restarts, trying to boot in safe mode, trying to boot with previous configurations, and other tricks I gave up because nothing would work. I was disgusted and thought I would try to remedy the problem in another way.
I tried reinstalling windows on another drive. Well, it got halfway there but then couldn’t complete because my other drive was on a raid card. Ok, fine, I’ll just do it on the drive I had windows on previously then. It got so far, rebooted and left me at a screen of pure black. I thought it might be doing something so I left it for a while. I came back an hour later and still nothing. Dammit!

Since that wouldn’t work, I tried a full format so I could get a truly fresh start. Same black screen so far in. Maybe I had a hardware conflict somewhere so I started pulling out everything non-essential. Trying again the same thing happened. At this point I gave up and decided to kill myself, but as I was getting ready to throw the toaster in the shower with me, I decided I was hungry, so I instead made some food.
I have no idea what to do with that stupid computer now, so I think I might have to break down, throw out some cash, and go have someone else look at it and fix it.

I’ve had some of my fellow dorks look at it and they’re all as flabbergasted as me so I think it’s beyond our menial powers to fix. I’m thinking I’ll take it in today and hopefully when I get back from our frisbee tournament this weekend it will be working…… or it’ll have exploded. Whichever, I really don’t care at the moment. Computers…… why do I torture myself so much by depending on them for so many things?

Thursday, January 16, 2003

My Christmas Break Part IV

I think today I am going to try and wrap up the recounting of my Christmas break so then we can move back into the day to day regurgitations of my boring, college-based, mid-western life. It has really been hit home to me that life here is way too normal and comfortable. Talking with Nate and Theresa, who have both returned from studying abroad in China and Ireland respectively, I realize how much they experienced abroad in another country while I was here doing basically the same things I have done for the last three years. Sure, I enjoy my life here and it does bring me a lot of joy, but I just can’t help feel a little jealous after hearing about all the things that people who went abroad did. Anyhow, that doesn’t pertain to Christmas, so let’s get this boat back on course.

Since I had a lot of down time over break, I wanted to catch up on the backlog of movies I’ve had to watch and books I’ve had to read. I managed to watch a bunch of movies (most of which I have forgotten already because a lot were very forgettable). More interesting, however, might be the books I got around to reading……or maybe not because I’m sure most of you out there aren’t quite as nerdy as me. Reading is a nerdy activity? No, not in itself it isn’t, but the content of my reading list is very nerd-tastic. Just read on and see for yourself.

I started break by finishing reading up some sections of Nicomachaen Ethics by Aristotle that I didn’t get to finish in my ancient philosophy course last semester. I was intrigued by Aristotle’s justice concept and how he laid out vices, virtues, and their excesses. After I finished that up I started C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. This isn’t really your classic Lewis book. This was 100 or so pages of him expounding upon a seeming learning method that eliminates universal natural virtues and instead replaces the natural virtues with a set of arbitrarily defined unnaturalistic virtues. It was quite complicated as opposed to most of his other works. I found his look at virtue very refreshing, although it took a little while to get to the payoff in the book. Starting to feel the nerdiness yet? No? Let’s keep going then.

Next on my list was Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, one of his most famous plays. It deals a lot with facing past demons and the idea of living a lie for the benefit of others. Would you be willing to live a loveless life in order to bring your child up right? Would you hide a spouse’s infidelity to avoid public shame, even though it would cause you to live in misery? What if the hero of your life turned out to be a villain? How could you deal with the shattering of the image of everything that was positive in your life? These questions weighed heavily in this play and I could only imagine how great it would be to see it performed on stage. I loved it. You can feel the nerd quotient rising now, can't you?

After that I dove into Salome by Oscar Wilde, a play about King Herod and his court. It was not as good as I had hoped it would be as the narrative style was very repetitive. Lines and concepts were repeated often and gave the play a very slow progression and I only found about the last 1/4th of the play interesting as it dealt with Herod’s daughter tricking Herod into doing something he cared not to, in order that she get some revenge or retribution for the sexual way that her own father longingly looked at her. The end was interesting enough, but overall I just had a hard time liking the play as a whole...... nerdometer alert, reaching peak levels!

At the end of break, I started rereading Othello again. It’s been one of my favorite Shakespearean plays simply because of the way that the character of Iago is written. He, to me, has always been one of the best examples of a true villain, a person filled with malice and discontent, a man who seeks retribution through revenge…truly a great villain. I’m still in the process of finishing up reading it. Hopefully I’ll get around to finishing it soon before the reading load for college really starts to pile on.

Anyhow, now that you’ve seen how truly dorky I am, I think I’m going to leave you for the moment and go back to my reading of Albert Camus’s The Stranger for my morality course. Nerds unite!

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

My Christmas Break Part III

Well, we’ve covered my sickness and the loot I got for Christmas, so now let’s move onto some of the things I did over break (both while I was sick and while I was well). I spent a lot of time with my family over break, a lot of it due to me being sick and not being able to leave home…….and because I love them and stuff :-) We went as a family to see both Star Trek: Nemesis and The Two Towers. My family is a big Star Trek family (yes, we are a family completely made up of dorks, but we’re still cool) so we had been looking forward to Nemesis for a while. Before we went to The Two Towers we had to watch Fellowship of the Ring with my mom because she hadn’t seen it yet. She didn’t exactly understand a lot of what was going on and she was kind of not happy that The Two Towers didn’t present an ending to the story, but I think she did enjoy it.

Our family also attended a lot of church together over break as we usually do during the holiday season. Little Ryan was in his last Christmas program at our little church and it was fun to watch an entire service put on by the Sunday School—they’re all so cute……well, at least most of them are, some are just a pain according to my mother, though. On Christmas Day our pastor asked me to read the lessons, which was very nice of him because I’d been wanting to do some more participation in our services. Usually only the elders can read the lessons, but they ok’d it for me to read anytime I am requested to.

Speaking of being in front of people, Strike Team Improv had a couple of shows over break. It was so good to get back together with all the members, practice, hang out, and perform. We put on two shows that were sponsored by the Tri-County Youth Commission, so it was nice to not have to worry about doing our own ticket-taking and concession selling for once. Both shows went off flawlessly. Our first show was sold out in about 5 minutes of the doors opening. We had people waiting outside half an hour before doors opened. It’s nice to know we are still known well enough by everyone even after such a long time off. Our second performance was in a neighboring town, Stewartville, so we were out of our local Rochester element and we had less of our loyal followers there and more new people from the Stewartville community. It was good and bad at the same time because we were getting new viewers yet the crowd seemed somewhat foreign to us. Anyhow, both shows were a lot of fun and I really hope I can secure a job in Rochester for the summer so I can perform again.

I also made a trip to the cities over break for a few days. I had to take my mom up to a photography seminar. She does it every year to keep up with all that’s new in the professional photography circles and for the last few years I’ve taken her up and stayed with her. This time, however, I was wonderfully sick so I didn’t get to go visit anyone in the cities that I knew as I would have liked to. One day, however, I was lucky enough to have Kristin and her sister Becky come down to visit me. We spent the day at the Mall of America shopping, mostly for them. It was a really fun time even though I was in the recovery period of my sickness at that time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

My Christmas Break Part II

Well, you got all of the ickiness of my break described to you yesterday so today we’ll start with something fun—my top ten list of the best cds of 2003! Here it is, and if you even remotely thought about getting these bands, or even if you haven’t even heard of them, you should still go buy them because they are all wonderfully great albums.

Sunset Black – “Common Ground”
30 Seconds to Mars – “30 Seconds to Mars”
Embodyment – “Songs for the Living”
Dead Poetic – “Four Wall Blackmail”
Trapt – “Trapt”
Dredg – “El Cielo”
Blindside – “Silence”
Trust Company – “The Lonely Position of Neutral”
Finch – “What It is to Burn”
Chevelle – “Wonder What’s Next”

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can go on to outlining more of my break. I think today I’ll look back at what I received as gifts for Christmas this year. Oh where should I start? Well, one thing that I had been waiting for to get was the second Transformers dvd boxed set. I don’t know why I loved that one cartoon so much, but I do and getting the episodes on dvd is just a wonderful thing. I now have like 30 more episodes to watch now and I am looking forward to watching every one of them……multiple times!

The next sweetest gift that I received was a little personal-sized coffee maker. It’s so cool because it has a permanent filter in it so that I don’t have to deal with changing filters for each brew and it also brews right into an insulated travel coffee mug. All I have to do is load up the water and grounds the night before and in the morning before work I just have to hit the button on the front and I have coffee in under 5 minutes. This thing will save me so much money because before I was spending at least $1.50 a day at Sexton getting coffee in the morning. That adds up over time and now I won’t have to spend so much (and I can use that money to buy some really good coffee grounds so I can make some of my favorite coffee flavors…mmmmm).

I also got another cooking utensil—an electric wok. I brought it up to our apartment, but when I got here I found out that my roommate, Burns, got the exact same one and had his here too! We decided to keep his up here and put mine back in the trunk of my car. I’m pretty sure we’ll get a lot of use out of Burns’ wok.
I also got some other assorted small things, some dvds—A Bug’s Life, Friday, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Goldeneye. Also got the new Dashboard Confessional MTV Unplugged cd and dvd. I got a few books, Four Plays by Chekov, Molierre’s greatest plays, some Shakespearre, some C.S. Lewis, and some other assorted classic books and plays I’ve wanted to read.

To round out the other odds and ends, I also got two daily calendars—a Dilbert one and 365 of the Stupidest Things Ever Said—a few Christmas ornaments, some candy, a wonderful homemade blanket from Sheryl, some gift certificates, a Scooby-Doo clock, a glowing ball, and some money. Whew, I’d have to say that I must have been at least an ok kid this last year. I hope all of you out there hauled in just as much :-)

Monday, January 13, 2003

My Christmas Break Part I

Man, it is so weird to finally be posting a new thought after a solid three weeks off. Sorry that I haven’t been able to get anything up for you in that time, but I couldn’t get to my computer over break. So how do I tell you all about three weeks of experiences in a single thought? I don’t. I’m going to go over my break topically in the next couple of days so that you can get the complete lowdown on everything. So what should I start with? Let’s just start with my battle with death.

So I had been looking forward to having some time off at home to just enjoy to myself. It turns out that my body had other plans for me. Right after Christmas I got a nasty case of classic influenza. I had a horrible headache, I was extremely weak, and my body would go from freezing cold and clammy to sweaty and hot on a whim. This went on until the day after New Year’s Day. I had wanted to have a fun time and maybe go out or do something for New Year’s Eve but instead I really couldn’t very easily so instead I spent the night at my apartment watching Adult Swim on the cartoon network with Kristin. It was a fun time for us, but I just wish I would have been feeling better instead of fluctuating between an ice cube and a living flame.

After I got home a day or so after New Year’s I thought that I was better but I was sorely deceived. Instead I came down with a nice case of strep throat. I couldn’t swallow, my glands were very swollen, and I was weak with a headache. I refused to go to the doctor for it and instead battled it myself for four or five days. I managed to kick its ass, but in the process I felt like crap while I was at our Gebhardt Christmas and in the cities with my mom for her photography seminar. Sickness managed to put a huge damper on my break.

There were a bunch of other things I couldn’t do because of my wonderful sickness. Here’s a sampling: I couldn’t play in our alumni basketball tournament like I so wanted too. I look forward to it every year and I love seeing the guys again and playing some ball, but I was in bed for this year’s. The Meyer Christmas was also not too fun for me since I only sat in a chair, watched some tv, visited with my relatives a little, and then went home early because I felt crappy. I also missed out on visiting with a lot of friends while I was home and that really sucked because I usually only see some of them over breaks and during the summer. My body just had it out for me this break. Oh well, I’ll just have to beat on it later.

That was all of the bad news of my Christmas vacation so tomorrow we can move onto all of the fun things I did during my break.