Monday, March 31, 2003

How the Mighty have Fallen

Hey, there’s been a new addition to the Pinestock roster for this year—De La Soul! I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve ever had a hip hop artist come to campus for this event. I’m really stoked to go now—a hip hop artist, a great modern rock band (Exies), and a fun punk band (Authority Zero). I still don’t know if it is exactly worth all 30 of the dollars I’m going to pay to go, but I’m sure it’ll be a great time.

Saturday morning I had a 3-on-3 basketball tournament here at SJU. It was the annual Johnnie-Tommie tournament. They have the bball tourney on both campuses and the winner of each campus plays the winner of the other campus at a T-Wolves game. Of course our team wasn’t the one that won. We were there to play simply for fun and to get some t-shirts and T-Wolves tickets. I played with Nate Hubbard and Vu Nguyen which made for a very interesting team simply because of the fact that Nate is about 5’11”, 175 lbs., Vu is 5’9”, 125 lbs., and I’m only 5’11”, 186 lbs. We were the smallest team there easily. In a couple of the games we played the other team’s smallest player was bigger than our biggest guy. We did have a lot of fun playing, though, and Nate managed to win a sweet T-Wolves practice jersey.

The best part of the whole tournament was the fact that we got 4 T-Wolves tickets for $40. You can’t get a deal like that anywhere. Even though we’re only seeing the Wolves play the Clippers, I’ll still be able to get my T-Wolves fix for the year in. I’m still surprised that that will be the first game I will have gone to this year. Usually I make it to at least a couple. It’ll be a really fun time going with Vu and Nate, and also because I’ll be taking Kristin to her first ever T-Wolves game.

Saturday night I went to Kristin’s house because they were having a large family get together. Some of her relatives were moving to Poland so they wanted to get everyone together before they left so that everyone could say goodbye and see each other before they left. I had a fun time meeting her relatives and talking with her cousins. They even came out to my place to hang out for the night. I hope they had a fun time. I felt a little bit bad because while they were there watching a movie I fell asleep because I was pretty tired from the bball tourney and not getting much sleep the night before. Combine that with the turkey we had for supper and all of my caffeine wearing off, and you had a very tired me that couldn’t keep his eyes open for anything.

Sunday I wanted to work on my research paper most of the day to finish it up before it was due on Tuesday, but unfortunately I was unable to. I had saved my work on one of the campus servers so that I could work on it from my room and from anywhere else on campus, but during the weekend that server went down. Because I only had my work saved on that server, I could not get to it. I called IT services on campus, but they don’t have anyone in on the weekends. No one could fix the problem and I couldn’t get to my paper. Why wouldn’t they have someone around on the weekends in case something like this happens? Now I’m forced to rush myself today and tomorrow to putting on the finishing touches which I would have had done on Sunday.

Since I had the free time on Sunday, I went to our frisbee team’s scrimmage against Cretin-Durham Hall high school. It was fun for a bit, but got very not fun very fast. We had a pretty good amount of people there so we had to keep subbing people in to make sure everyone got to play. Now I have no problem subbing out so that everyone gets to play, but the way that we were doing it was so stupid. I wouldn’t be able to stay in for more than 2 points (which was a pretty short period of time against them) before I’d have to sit. I could never get any type of flow with the constant coming off and going on. I would gladly sit longer on the sidelines if I could stay in for a little while longer to get myself some flow. It turned into an exercise in frustration for me so I decided it would benefit me to leave, which I did.

Last night we had our first round of playoffs in our volleyball league. We were ranked #1 (which is about the 3rd or 4th time we have been in the last 3 years) so we thought we would have a decently easy first couple of games, but we were again foiled by the bracketing gods. We ended up playing the #2 team right away in the first round. We also lost in the third game to yet prolong our streak of losing in the first round when ranked #1. The only time we won the championship is when we were ranked pretty low. I don’t understand how our team can choke so badly when it comes to playoff games. Again, two of our players were not playing very well—serving out of bounds and spiking into the net. It is so frustrating to watch because one of those players used to be our best hitter and now he’s become a liability. It just seems like they don’t play smart. I think that is probably our biggest problem is that we don’t play smart. All I know is that we need to pull something together as we only have two chances left to win a championship—Monday and Tuesday leagues. Let’s hope we don’t choke.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

At Least We Got The Exies and Authority Zero…

As I had said in a previous thought, this year’s Pinestock headliner is going to be Everclear. What I didn’t know was who the supporting bands were going to be. I found out a couple of days ago that, along with Everclear, the Exies and Authority Zero will be playing. I am still not too stoked about Everclear being the headliner, but knowing that the Exies and Authority Zero are going to be playing rekindled my desire to be at Pinestock.

The Exies are a great modern rock band, doing everything right that Everclear seems to do wrong. I wanted to catch them in concert when they were coming through the cities with Trapt about a month back, but I had night class on the night that they were here. I love both of their cds, especially their newest one, Inertia. Authority Zero I was also going to go see last weekend with Sum 41 and No Use For A Name, but my little bro Ryan was up and I didn’t want to leave him all by himself. As much as I was somewhat unimpressed with Authority Zero’s disc, I’m still excited to see them perform live. For anyone that is going to go to Pinestock I would heavily recommend checking out cds by both of these bands before you go. Also, any of you readers out there who don’t go to SJU or CSB and would like to come up for Pinestock (it’s on April 26th, a Saturday), drop me an email. Tix are $30, so be warned that it isn’t cheap.

I saw Everclear last year or the year before, I really don’t remember when, but what I do remember is that I was really disappointed by their show. I saw them at St. Cloud State with Nickelback, who was opening for them and, in my opinion, put on a way better show. If Everclear only played songs off of their So Much for the Afterglow and Sparkle and Fade discs, I would love it, but they play only a song or two off of these older discs. They mostly play the sappy crap that they put on their three most recent discs (all of them complete bombs, in my opinion). After So Much for the Afterglow they just seemed to lose all of their ability to write good rock songs. Instead they’ve been manufacturing radio-friendly crap. Every song they have released to the radio in the last 5 years has completely blew. Oh well, that’s who we’re stuck with this year and I’ll just have to live with it. At least I got the Exies and Authority Zero to look forward to.

Well, it looks like it is going to rain later today, ending the nice day streak we’ve been having here at SJU, but that’ll probably be a good thing because I really need to get my research paper completed. I’m pretty close now. I’ve finished up writing the opening, the Aristotle section, Abelard section, and most of the Kant section. What I have left to do is finish the Kant section, write the St. Augustine section, do the application section, and finish it off with a nice conclusion. I’m thinking of dropping the Augustine section, however, because my paper is already almost 20 pages long without including it. Considering we only need to write 15 pages for this paper, I think I can trim my paper a little and not worry about getting a worse grade. I just have to get it all done by Tuesday.

Once I finish up that paper, I will have a relatively easy end to the semester. I’ll have a logic test or two, a morality paper, a test or paper in my ethics and law class, and then I give my presentation on my research paper and I’m done. That may seem like a bunch of things to do, but compared to an average end to a semester, this is going to be easy. Oh, for my research paper presentation, I will be the first one giving it. I’m limited to 15 minutes so I’m really going to have to condense the ideas in my paper. Ok, I’ve got to get to work.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Catching You Up

So it’s been a little while until you’ve heard about what I’ve been doing, but don’t worry, I have been doing a lot, so just sit back, kick up your feet, and get ready to read……

Last week on Wednesday my brother Randy came up to visit for a couple of days since he was on his spring break from ISU. For most of Thursday, while he was up, we just sort of hung out at my place, playing some video games, watching a movie or two, and relaxing. It was good for both of us. Later we went into St. Cloud since my brother had never had Cold Stone ice cream before. I don’t think anyone should be allowed to go through their entire life without ever having Cold Stone ice cream or Krispy Kreme donuts, but we’ll get to the donuts later. I was surprised by Randy’s reaction to Cold Stone’s ice cream in that he didn’t think it was a frickin’ delicious as I did. I could honestly live on Cold Stone ice cream if given the chance. In fact, Jeff has commented many times to me that I’m going to get fat from eating so much ice cream. He might be right, so I might have to try and refrain myself in the future……and by future, I mean any time after today because I’m going to be going a little bit later.

Friday morning I had work and classes so my brother just slept around at my place. After I got back, we got his stuff packed up and ready to go so he could leave and go to his girlfriend’s place in Bird Island, which was only about an hour and a half away from St. Cloud. I saw him out on his way and then I had to head down to the cities to pick up the other brother, Ryan, so he could stay with me for the weekend. Next weekend is little siblings weekend, but I have a basketball tourney all day and possibly a concert on Saturday, so I wouldn’t be around to spend a whole lot of time with him, so instead of that scenario, I just had him come up to visit a weekend early. Getting Ryan was a chore as there must have been an accident or something on 494 in the cities because I was stuck in traffic for almost an hour, making only about 5 miles progress. Fortunately, my dad and brother hadn’t been waiting for me too long.

I grabbed Ryan and we headed back to school, hoping that the traffic would be much better, and it was. We stopped at Krispy Kreme on the way to school because he had never had their donuts before, and as I said earlier, you can’t say you’ve truly lived until you’ve had Krispy Kreme. I think if St. Cloud would get a Krispy Kreme to complement the Cold Stone we already have I would die within a couple of years from the sheer amount of donuts and ice cream I would eat. I honestly have no self control whatsoever when it comes to the products of those two food chains. God forbid I ever have to work at or near one!

After we got back Friday night, we didn’t have a lot planned for the night (or the weekend for that matter), so we just sat down and played Xbox for a while and watched The Iron Giant. It was a nice calm night, which I am definitely in need of every now and again up here. I find it weird how I still haven’t grown out of my video game phase. In fact, this year was somewhat of a reawakening of my video game appreciation. After rarely playing video games last year and part of first semester, I go out and buy an Xbox and the addiction is back. At least it isn’t as predominant a part of my life as it was when I was in elementary and middle school.

Saturday we slept in nice and late (also something I like to do every now and then, assuming my body cooperates with me and doesn’t automatically wake me up before 9 am). When we got up Kristin and I went down to watch the SJU girl’s rugby game since one of her friends from GAC was up playing for their team. It was such a beautiful day out that I was a little disappointed the Ryan didn’t want to come with us, but that was his choice and I’m not going to force him to do anything (and he had tons of serious Xbox playing to get done). Ryan actually played so many video games over the weekend that he beat one of my games and completed over half of another. Wow, I give you mad gaming props, kiddo!

After the rugby game, I took Ryan and Kristin to go see Tears of the Sun, the war flick with Bruce Willis. I was expecting it to be a lot better than it was, but both Ryan and Kristin really enjoyed it. I think I’m a little more jaded when it comes to watching war movies because I don’t allow for any cheese in a war movie. Black Hawk Down and Platoon are two of my favorite war flicks, so every war movie I see I tend to compare to those two films. After the movie, Kristin took us both out to supper at McGlynn’s. The rest of the night was spent hanging out at my place playing cribbage and watching tv. I actually went to bed by about 1 am while Kristin and Ryan stayed up until 3 am or later playing cards.

Sunday my family came up to visit and get Ryan. To my surprise my grandma Meyer also made the trip. We all went out to eat at Fazzolli’s for dinner and then spent some time at the mall. When we were done tooling around the mall, we went back to my place to just sit and talk for a while since I don’t get to see my family all that often being here at college (and I do miss them, even if they like to tease me about not coming home). My grandma brought along my b-day present with her, which was super cool—a fiber optic bonsai tree. It was really funny because I put it up in the spot that I used to have the fiber optic Christmas tree and when Burns came home he asked me if I had gotten a new tree or if I had just trimmed down the Christmas tree.

A little while later my family had to head out for home. It was good seeing them, though. Now it is back to the old grind for a little over a month. Crap, where did my senior year go? It’ll probably go by pretty quickly too as I have a lot to get done these last few weeks. Mainly I have my big research paper to finish. My first complete draft is due on Tuesday and I have probably another 10 pages to write (I have about 20 or so done). Well, I’ll probably get working on that now. While I’m doing that, please spread the word that my site has been moved so I can get everyone reoriented to my new address—

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Let the Killing Begin

So it has started. The United States is now at war. What more can I or anyone else say to stop the war now that it has started. We have turned a corner that we can't turn back down. In time there are points where one decision will point you in two distinct directions, and once you’ve chosen your path, there is no possibility of going in the other direction. This is one of those moments and I can’t help but think we are taking the wrong direction. I am filled with anger, regret, hope, fear, and wonder. It seems like every generation has a moment that they will always remember. For some it was JFK’s assassination or the space shuttle Challenger explosion, or Vietnam. For my generation, I know that our “moment” was 9/11, but I cannot help but think that this is another “moment”. I really do not want to talk about this war we’ve started because it only makes me sad inside whenever I think about it. I think you’ll get enough commentary on it from everyone else that you talk to, so I hope that I will be able to avoid rambling about it too much here. I just want everyone to know, though, that I am in no way in favor of this country’s actions against Iraq. We will kill innocent people in our quest to rid the world of terror, we have brought into question the validity of the UN by acting without their approval, and we will have many wonderful American citizens (military and civilian) perish in vain. My patriotism wanes with every day that this senseless fighting continues……

Now it is time to put on my happy face and ignore all the evil around us. It may not be all that easy, but here goes……

Yesterday my brother, Randy, came up to stay with me until Friday as he is on spring break from ISU and thought he would finally get back around to visiting. With him he brought my old broken MP3 player so that we could take it back to Best Buy and possibly get the new Archos MP3 player/recorder. Before we went I read up the reviews on the Archos player I wanted and was distressed (shoot, negative emotion—sorry) to see that many of them had failed their users. After reading the reviews I decided that I did not want to get one of them, but instead might get a different one that shared the same features. They examined the MP3 player and found it to be defective and since it was under their 4-year plan that I had bought, knowing that I’d manage to break something as fragile as an MP3 player in that time. They said I could exchange it for any MP3 player they had in stock (with the caveat that if the one I wanted was more expensive then I’d have to pay the difference).

I looked through the store and found nothing that was equivalent to what I had (and that would use smart media cards like I used in my old player), I didn’t want to get a new MP3 player. I asked one of the customer service people if I could just use the money my MP3 player was worth to get something else or a gift card as none of the MP3 players they now sold were equivalent to mine. They said I couldn’t and I would have to trade for some MP3 player they had, and if I wanted the money I would simply have to list it on ebay or sell it some other way because they had to obey company policy. Crap. I really didn’t want what they had there, but I guess I’d have to choose.
I picked out one close in price and took it to the front to check out, but when I got there the same clerk I was talking to before asked me very questioningly, “are you sure this is what you want?” I told her I really didn’t have a choice to which she replied, “well, you can get whatever you want in the store. We just can’t give you the money back you paid for the warranty.” That is what I just told her I wanted to do 10 minutes ago! On that, I took the MP3 player, put it back on the shelf, and went on a $110 shopping spree in Best Buy.

I had no idea what I wanted to get for that much money, so I looked around and decided on a few things. I grabbed the new Socialburn cd since it was on sale. I also grabbed the Star Trek: The Motion Picture collector’s edition dvd (I’m a dork, yes) since it was the only collector’s edition one released so far that I did not have. Beyond that I really didn’t know what to get so I just headed to the Xbox aisle and grabbed a bunch of games I’d wanted. I managed to pick up 4. They were: Dead or Alive 3, Simpson’s Road Rage, Wreckless, and Blade II. I took all of these items up to the register and it only cost me $0.73 for all of them. It was like I was robbing the place! To top it off, I also got a $10 gift card for buying Wreckless and Simpsons because it was some in store deal they had going on. I felt so weird walking out of there with that much stuff because I’ve never spent that much money so frivolously before.

So did that sweet story get your mind off of the war with Iraq? No? Yeah, me either. Let’s just keep praying that it won’t get as bad as my imagination keeps thinking it will.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Why Do We Want War so Bad?

I forgot to post this in my last few entries, but for those of you who don’t know yet, this year’s Pinestock headliner is going to be Everclear. For those of you who don’t know what Pinestock is, it is an annual concert held at Watab Island here at SJU with a big-name headliner and some smaller bands. Last year we had Soul Asylum and the Jayhawks. Two years ago we had Ben Harper, and my freshman year we had Train and the Marvelous 3. I am kind of disappointed with our choice of Everclear. They just played here last year at St. Cloud State for their big college concert. I think SJU was horribly unoriginal in picking Everclear, and I hate to see such a sell-out band playing our campus as well. I loved their earlier stuff from So Much for the Afterglow, but everything after that has been pretty lackluster. Not much I can do, though, as that’s who we got.

So yesterday I finished up playing The Sum of All Fears and as fun as the game was, I felt really cheated once I beat it. The game was very short. It consisted of 11 missions, each one, on average, taking me about 15 minutes to complete. Giving the game the benefit of the doubt, I still only played for about 3 or 4 hours. This seems unreasonably short for a game, especially when people are shelling out $30-$50 for a game now (luckily I picked up this game for only $7). It felt more like an expansion pack for Ghost Recon (as that is the game it is based on). If you can pick it up for a couple of dollars, I will recommend it as a pretty fun game, but don’t expect a lot of play time from it. The realism of the game came across very well, and I was even sometimes frustrated by the level of realness, but other times it was apparent it was just another Rogue Spear clone. Now I just have to try to decide which game to pick up next. I always need a video game to be playing to use as an out for the frustrations of school and homework.

Ok, so I’m betting almost everyone out there was watching television at about 7 pm last night to catch the president’s address to the nation. Looks like we’ll be starting a war in a day or two. Isn’t that just a wonderful thought? People are going to die, innocent people along with soldiers, because two men seem to want to flex their muscles and see who has more testosterone. Saddam wants to be a big macho dictator who possesses lots of weapons, making him a feared man, while Bush simply wants to show that the US is the bad-ass, take-no-shit from anyone, superpower of the world. Neither one wants to back down from the positions they have formed because if they did, the one who did back down would look foolish and be the lesser man.

I have dreaded this morning for months now, but it didn’t turn out to be the climactic day I thought it would be—that’ll be Thursday. What I don’t understand is this war on “terror”. What is terror? In fact, what is a terrorist? The United States government has not yet given us an acceptable definition of either. When will the enemy of “terror” be defeated? When we kill Saddam? When we obliterate Iraq? When we take down North Korea? When we leave every other country in the world in rubble because they seem like a threat to us? Where is the line drawn? WHO THE F*CK IS TERROR? At least in every other war we knew who our enemy was. With this impending war, or the one we’ve been embroiled in since 9/11, we have had no clear enemy (sure there are Bin Laden and Saddam, but they were merely figureheads for “terror”). Wasn’t revenge had when we beat the crap out of Afghanistan? Once we beat up on Iraq, will we stop, or are they merely a bullet-point on a list of targets the US wants to take out?

Monday, March 17, 2003

St. Patty's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I know this is one of those “lesser” holidays, but I hope you all get a chance to kick back and do something fun today. I always enjoy this holiday a lot, mostly because I know that my birthday is only a day away, but in the last couple of years I haven’t enjoyed this holiday as much as I used to, mainly because I don’t really like having birthdays anymore. I think when I turned 20, I reached the age where birthdays are no longer cool or fun, but are instead dreaded and evil. I just don’t really like getting older, but I won’t complain about that today because you’ll get an earful of it tomorrow.

Yesterday continued the three day streak of wonderful weather. I could hardly keep myself inside to do anything. I did manage to get a good amount of homework accomplished in the morning because it was pretty cloudy and dreary out, but once it got nice outside I couldn’t stay locked in my room any more. I went for a light walk around campus again just enjoying the warmth and sun, and then changed into old clothes once again for a run out by the lake. After the run, I had to change quick and head to CSB for volleyball. I ended up playing a solid three hours of volleyball, and this was only shortly after a 4 mile or so run. By the time I got home at 10:30 pm, I was ready to just pass out for the night. My body was telling me that I had abused it, but my heart appreciated all the fun I had.

Ok, now for some nerdy news. My brother, Randy, is coming up to visit Wednesday and he’s bringing with him his broken MP3 player (that he originally got from me) to exchange at Best Buy since I was smart enough to put a 4-year warranty on it. I usually wouldn’t put one of their warranties on anything I buy since it is a huge rip-off, but with MP3 players, I’m sure I’ll break them sometime while running or working out. This is actually the third MP3 player that I have had break so I know to make sure I keep them covered on warranty. Anyhow, I’m going to see if I can exchange it for one of the Archos 20 GB MP3 players with the built in MP3 recording. This might not be that big of a deal to most, but it is to me. With a built in recorder, I can take this non-conspicuous MP3 player to concerts and record them. All I would need would be a good microphone for it. I could finally get into recording my own concerts which would be way sweet. Randy, of course, would get my Archos 5 GB player that I have now to use.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

What a Beautiful Day

Spring has arrived!!! It’s been so nice outside the last couple of days, and I’ve been loving every moment of it. It all started out Friday with some wonderful 60 degree weather instead of the crappy cold we have been having. I couldn’t stand to be inside for any amount of time after I was done with my classes. Luckily for me, a bunch of people from the Frisbee team wanted to have a practice outside. What made practice as interesting as it was, was the condition the field was in. Since all the snow had just melted (well, most of it anyways), and the tundra didn’t really have much grass on it, we were playing in a gigantic mudhole. There was probably a good six inches of mud on top of the frozen ground. It was next to impossible to stay clean, or keep your balance. I ended up on the ground many times, turning my wonderfully white t-shirt into a dirty brownish-black. Towards the end of the game, as is tradition on muddy and snowy Frisbee days, we had a shorts only point, except this time it was only Jeff and I topless, and we played half the game that way. Also, having to keep with our tradition, I dove for a disc in a humungous mud puddle, sliding probably 15 yards on my back. I was just covered in mud when we were done, but after I showered up I also found out that my back was covered in scratches. There must have been some gravel or something in the mud where I dove because my back got kind of ripped up from it. It was worth it, though, for all of the fun we had.

Saturday was also just beautiful out. I got up and took a short walk around campus, stopping to say hi to some people who were also out and about for the morning. I also made my first stop to the library this year. I really hate going there because it is always so quiet and I never really have any reasons for going there. The only reason I ended up there is because I was told to look for Kristin there by her roommate, who forgot that she actually wasn’t going there, but instead went to a friend’s room to work on her research paper. Oh well, at least I got to get some work done in the walls of the library.

Once I finally got back to my room and found Kristin, we went for a walk along the lake since there was no possible way we were going to stay inside. When she walked in the door, I gave her enough time to put down her bag and then almost pushed her out the door so that we were in my apartment as little as possible. It was just so nice out that I couldn’t imagine spending the day indoors. After our walk, Kristin had to head back to CSB to get ready for the formal, but I wasn’t even close to being ready to go inside so put on some old clothes and went for a jog around the lake where me and Kristin had just gotten done walking.

Once the sun had set, it was time to come in and get ready for the formal ball. SJU has one formal every year (the Stella Maris ball that we went to a couple of weeks ago was put on by the ballroom dance club, not SJU) with dinner and dancing. This was the first time I had gone to it and I think this one time was enough. I had a wonderful time at dinner with Kristin, Yen, and her beau Frank. The dance was a little less fun, but Kristin and I still managed to have a good time. For being a formal, they played a lot of crap music. I usually think of formal dances as having ballroom dance and slow songs. Last night they decided, however, that it would be better to play rap and hard rock music. Sure, I love hard rock, but it is impossible to dance to. They also only played three slow dance songs for the entire two hours we were there. We made the most out of it, though, by just goofing around letting our inner child out.

Right now I’m here at my computer typing this up, along with a portion of my research paper and reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I’ve completed about 5 chapters of it, and I am going to say now that it is one of the worst books that I have read so far in my life. It is written in southern black dialect, the writing has trouble being coherent in spots, and I have no attachment to anyone or anything in the book. I am having a really hard time reading it, and I would have given up on it a long time ago if I wasn’t forced to be reading it for my morality class. I’m going to try and suffer through a few more chapters now, even though I’m looking out the window and it is sunny, 60 degrees, and beautiful. We should just be exempt from doing homework when it is nice out…

Also, before I forget: HAPPY BIRTHDAY RYAN! Didn’t want you to think that I forgot. I’ll see you next weekend and we can do something special for it. Have fun and hopefully you got some cool stuff (or stuff that I’ll like!).

Friday, March 14, 2003

Camus & Kant

This is a short paper I had written for my philosophy class. Since I'm lazy and didn't have anything else to post, have fun reading it!

Lucidity, Order, Rules, and Meaning—An Examination of Kant and Camus

Every day we have to make decisions as to how we are supposed to live. Many of them are inconsequential and uncontroversial, but many decisions that have to be made affect us, as well as the people around us. How should we guide how we live? We have to have some reason for doing what we do; there must be sound grounding or regiment that we follow, but what mode of living is the best one? Do we openly indulge ourselves in the world? Do we follow a god’s commands? Should we put others before ourselves? What rules do we follow? These questions are very central to how we conduct ourselves in our lives. Being as important to us as it is, living a good life should be guided by some overarching principle in our lives. I would like to look at two very different principles of morality to illustrate how we could possibly live by two completely different moral codes based on what we would choose to follow. Which is better, however, I cannot concretely tell you, but I am hoping that I can illustrate which I believe to be a better guide for our lives.

The two different types of morality that I would like to look at come from the philosophers Albert Camus and Immanuel Kant. Each has a very distinct way in which they believe we should live our lives. Before I decide which I prefer to use as my guide to living, I would like to illustrate their main principles so that it can be seen what positives and negatives they both possess.

First, I would like to glance over what Camus has to say about morality and how we should be living. From my experience with his work, the key concept for Camus is that of the Absurd. It may seem odd that a key concept to morality is something called absurd, but it makes a lot of sense when you look at how Camus describes it. The Absurd will come about from a contrast, or battle, between two opposing forces.
Camus says that we need to live in this state of the Absurd, this contrast between two very different things. Often people look to the universe for meaning. They think that everything that happens has a part in a much bigger plan in the scheme of the universe. After looking to the universe for meaning, Camus sees that there are no concrete answers as to what our purpose is; there is no set grand plan for us. The only thing that he sees is the cold, uncaring indifference of the universe. It cares not for any of us and it has no bigger plan for us, it is simply there and we are in it.

This is in heavy opposition to the fact that we actually do live our lives every day abiding by a given routine, living by morals that we think come down to us from some outside source, and trying to find our meaning and place in this overwhelmingly large universe. Our search for meaning in life and our everyday routines gives us a sense of reason as to why we are living and it gives us a sense that our lives have a purpose. We are not overcome by the huge weight of an unresponsive universe because we don’t realize it is cold and unguiding.

When someone comes to the realization that the universe does not care about him/her, and they see the somewhat senselessness of our existence, they must see that their everyday life routine is meaningless when compared to the cruel coldness of the universe we are in. Because of this contrast, we must continue living the way we do every day, abiding by our routines that we think have a purpose, but always keep in mind that our life does not have a greater purpose and that our universe does not have a set plan for us.

Since we have no real greater purpose in this universe and we now realize it, to lead a truly good life, we have to live every moment we have in lucidity. By living in lucidity, I mean that we have to take every moment of our lives and experience it to the fullest, no matter what the situation or circumstances. We are only allotted so much life, and since we only have so much time before we inevitably pass away, enjoying every second of what time we do have on this earth is essential to living well. Every person is allotted so many experiences in their amount of years that they have on this earth, and everyone can enjoy their experiences equally lucidly. Because of this, the only way we can truly measure who has had a better life is by who has lived longer, and to a small extent, more lucidly.

Immanuel Kant, on the other hand, has a completely different way of living laid out for us to follow. Kant’s morality, in its most basic form, gives us one main “rule” that we should live our lives according to: the categorical imperative. This rule can be described in the following way: Whenever you are confronted with a decision, you must universalize your decision so that everyone in existence would do the same thing. If that would lead to no contradictions in the world’s state of affairs, or if it would not lead to a breakdown of some part of society, then it is not morally wrong to do that action. One other thing that goes along with this rule is the idea that you cannot use a person as merely a means to an end—all humans have to be respected as ends in themselves. What this means is that you cannot simply use another person for your own personal gain.

I think the best way to get a better handle on what Kant says with his categorical imperative is to use examples to illustrate it. Let us say that you need to lie to get money to pay for your new car. Your inclinations tell you to do it, but before you do you must examine the consequences of your decision. Now if you universalize the concept of lying you will see the significant consequences that will bring about—no one will ever be able to trust anyone because the whole concept of honesty breaks down. If everyone were willed to lie to get what they wanted, no one would ever have to tell the truth again, and if you don’t have to tell the truth, how can you ever trust anyone? Because of what would come from following your inclinations, you must not do that action. Your duty is to not lie because it would break the categorical imperative.

Now let me use another example to illustrate the concept of how a person could be used merely as a means to some end. If you were to take on a person as a slave in your household to till your garden in order for you to have food to eat, you would not be respecting that person’s human dignity as being an end. In this case the slave is only being used as a means for you to get food—that slave is playing the same role as a hoe or spade used in farming. We cannot put people on the same level as a tool (which we use as a means) that we would use to achieve some end.

From these two different types of morality, we could live our lives in two very contrasted ways. If we lived by Camus’s moral code, we would have no actual set of rules or a singular rule to live by. We would be living our lives for the sheer thrill of living them. Our lives, no matter what we did (within some reasonable guidelines), would be the same as any other, and we should live every moment with our senses open, experiencing everything we can while we are alive. The only consideration we should have is with the maximization of the lucidity of our every moment, since we only have so much time on this earth. The phrase “live for the moment” would seem to best embody the spirit of how Camus would want us to live.

On the other hand, Kant lays out a morality grounded on a universal rule described above—the categorical imperative. We should always live according to this rule. Our lives should be based upon the application of this rule, which is very much in contrast to what Camus says about living in the moment without any regard as to how we should actually live. By having the categorical imperative, we appear to have meaning (we are and end in ourselves, and Kant seems to point to a heaven of sorts that he calls “The Kingdom of Ends”), and we are also given a set way to live our lives. These seem to be two completely different ways of trying to live, so which would seem to be better?

I can see how Camus’s thinking would be a lucrative way for us to live our lives because it puts all styles of life on an equal footing, and it pushes for us to really try to experience life above all other concerns. Is this really the best thing, though? When I look at two different types of lives, say that of a poet and that of a gas station attendant, I want to be able to see one type of life as being better than another. With Camus, though, those two lives are equal as long as they both live lucidly. For me, this concept suppresses the motives of self-improvement and ambition in our lives. Why would you aspire to be a poet when it is no more grand than being a gas station attendant? Just experience what you have, where you are at, and you will be living a good life according to Camus.

Another thing that I do not like about Camus’s philosophy is that we recognize that we have no greater purpose in this universe. We lack a deeper purpose, and since we do, all we can do in this life is experience it to the fullest. I’m glad that he thinks we should enjoy our lives to the fullest, but how can I truly enjoy my life if I am constantly confronted with the idea that I have no greater purpose and that this giant, cold, uncaring universe has no plan for me. Does this not make all of the enjoyment that I do take away from living my life seem pointless, meaningless, and altogether shallow? I would be living a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle simply because the universe presents me with no other choice. I think it is a frightening thought that I would be living without a deeper meaning driving the actions in my life.

Kant, however, presents us with a set way of living and a rule to live by. He also presents humans as possessing a deeper meaning—we are all ends in ourselves and not just mere specs in an uncaring universe. He gives us a reason to live, somewhat indirectly, that I like in his Kingdom of Ends. It is described as a place where all humans are never used as means and every decision we make will be in line with duty, never going against the categorical imperative. This perfect place can be seen, and I definitely see it, as his description of Heaven. We should all strive, in our everyday lives, to obey the categorical imperative and one day we can experience a truly perfect, unconflicting society.

I know I may be stretching what Kant says in his writings to make it suit what I need in my life to go on living, but when I compare how Kant wants us to live to how Camus tells us we should live, I have to choose Kant because he at least has that small notion that there is something greater out there to look forward to, and because of that, our lives have meaning. He also presents us with the notion that all humans possess dignity by being ends in ourselves, which is also a comforting fact. Camus somewhat frightens me in saying that we must just live our life how it comes to us, and do it lucidly. He does not lay out any particular guidelines, which leaves the door open for performing evil acts in the name of lucid experience.

I cannot say that I would change my life from the way I am living it now in favor of either of these two philosophies, but if presented with having to make a choice between the two, as I am here, I would easily choose Kant’s philosophy for the reasons I have stated above. Every moral theory that we read and study gives us more to think about in how we ought to live our lives, and these two philosophies have definitely forced me to reexamine my mode of living. After this reexamination, for the time being, I would have to wish that I would be able to emulate Kant’s thinking in my everyday life over Camus simply on the basis of me wanting to know my life has meaning.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Communication Breakdown

I think I might have reached one of the highest moments of frustration in recent memory last night. We had our Tuesday night volleyball game, which is the competitive league so the competition is very good. We were playing a team that included a couple of members of the men’s club team (which happens to be the #1 men’s team in our region) so I knew it would be a tough game, but I still wanted to win so badly since I knew the two players and I really don’t care for one of them very much. We ended up blowing the first game, even though we could have won it if we communicated a little better. For our team, that has always been a problem. Even when we designate a setter and hitters, we still have trouble deciding who will hit on the first or second pass. Because of that, we often get out of position for hitting and blocking and many times have to give the other team a free ball instead of getting a hit at the net. Our first game exemplified this tendency of ours.
The second game we communicated very well and pulled away quickly to a big lead. Unfortunately, we played a little slow towards the end and let them catch back up, be we pulled it out to even the games at 1-1. Our main problem with the second game (and in general) is that one of our key players over the last couple years has really been on a decline in play. His spikes are often hitting the net when he tries for the kill and he seems to just give up when he doesn’t do good. It’s also frustrating when he serves because he tries so many different weird serves to try and get aces, but many times they will fail to simply get over the net or will go flying out of bounds. This gets to be a big problem as you need to serve the ball in bounds if you want to have a chance of putting some points on the board. Despite our difficulty in our second game, we came to win and play the third.

In our league the third game is always rally scoring (side outs count as points as well as served points). Our team just shut down in this final game. I made an interesting observation in this last game. Our team is usually pretty good about getting digs (we used to be horrible at it, but over the years we’ve gotten pretty decent). One member of our team, in this final game, would not try for digs on any of the hits near her. She simply flinched and moved away from them, or made no try for them. What made me even more frustrated is that earlier in the year she had commented on how untalented I was on the volleyball court. If you make a comment like that, I would assume that you are in a position of possessing more talent to make that judgment, but it was apparent that this person just wasn’t trying and didn’t care.

We lost that third game because we just seemed to give up. I’m not trying to rip our team down, but it just sucks to see our team fall apart like that and for some of our members to just stop trying. How can you win if you don’t even try? I was just so frustrated, especially since we had lost to a team that I really don’t personally care for……ok, I’m done. I just had to vent and get that off of my chest.

On a good note, I had night class last night, but only for about 30 seconds instead of the 3 hours it usually is. It was great! I walked into the classroom and one of my classmates told me to turn in the section of my research paper that I’d finished and that I could go. Our professor had to be somewhere else for the night (I think it was a medical emergency in his family, but I’m not sure), so no class. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this class shortened or canceled lately. This is actually the third class in a row that has been canceled. The first was canceled because of a job fair for the seniors, the second was canceled because there was a meeting for all computer science majors, and last night’s was canceled for reasons stated before. That’s a solid 9 hours of class that I haven’t had to have. Thank goodness too, because I really can’t stand that class. Every time we have had class, all we do is present on our topic for like 10 minutes and then listen to the rest of the class present on theirs. I don’t care about anyone else’s topic and they don’t care about mine, so this class is always pointless.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Mullet Abuse

The things you can find at a local Target are simply amazing. Yesterday I went into St. Cloud after my classes to pick up some cold medicine. I wasn’t feeling very well when I woke up yesterday so I needed some drugs to make me all good again. I really hate head colds as they really don’t serve a purpose in the whole scheme of disease and sickness. They aren’t bad enough to really get you out of going to class or work since all you really have is a stuffy nose, a light cough, and (for me) sore eyes. It’s also not weak enough to just blow off as if you were not sick at all. This little section on the range of disease that head colds occupy is the section of mild annoyance and I was very mildly annoyed.

I went in to Target and got my cold medicine right away, but I really didn’t feel like leaving right away so I decided to just have a look around for a while and waste some time. I moseyed on back to the electronics section to see if they had any cheap dvds that I might want, but they didn’t. However, as I was looking at Xbox games I walked around the back of one of the isles and found that they had Xbox controllers on clearance for $6. Only $6!!! Not only was it a controller, but it was a controller package. It came with a controller, a cd laser lens cleaner and extension cables, all for one extremely cheap price. I couldn’t pass up such a deal as that so I grabbed one and went along on my merry little way.

As I was coming up to the checkout I saw a couple, probably in their early 30’s, maybe their late 20’s, pushing a cart towards the checkout. The reason this couple stood out is because the husband had a monstrously large mullet. It wasn’t just a normal mullet either, it was one of those mullets that are caused by balding. The front of his head had balded and he had let all of the rest of his hair grown into a mullet that reached down to the middle of his back. I was horribly disturbed by this image, but it managed to get worse—grotesquely worse. The mother called out for her child to come out of the clothes section because they were checking out. Along came running a little six or seven year old. The sight of this child made me want to cry. The parents had shaved the child’s head……all except the hair in the back that formed a mullet almost as long as his father’s. Why, oh why, would you torture your child like that? Isn’t there a law against child abuse? I wanted to go grab an electric razor from the men’s hygiene department and just shave that monstrosity off of this innocent child’s head. The rest of the day I was haunted by that poor child’s face and haircut.

After I had somewhat recovered from my mullet encounter I headed back home. I had a volleyball game at St. Ben’s that I had to be at. Our team looked pretty bad last night. I was still sick (the cold medicine didn’t do a whole lot for me), Casey had had his wisdom teeth out so he was in a drug-induced haze, and the rest of our team had just gotten off of a long spring break. We looked so rusty in our first game and ended up losing, but luckily for us we regained some of our composure and won the next two. We still didn’t look that good in our last two games—our sets were not at the net, our passes were low, and our spikes weren’t landing where we wanted—but we did manage to do just well enough to come out ahead.

Now today promises to be a long one. I have two classes, a bunch homework to do, paperwork to fill out for my job, a paper to finish for night class, and then my night class followed by my Tuesday night volleyball game. Wow, and that’s all ahead of me yet……

Monday, March 10, 2003

Why Do Computers Always Have to Suck?

I’m finally back, whew! So now you’ve got a lot to catch up on. Well, I was at home for the middle of last week (Tuesday through Friday), which was very relaxing, but frustrating at the same time. I loved being home and seeing my family again, but I also had to get a wireless network set up in our house so that all of our computers could go on our new satellite internet at the same time. I didn’t think it would be too hard, and it wasn’t, but there definitely was still some snags that drove me nuts. Getting the wireless router all set up was mostly painless, although for a while it just didn’t work and then it miraculously started which was a good thing for it because I was ready to snap its little plastic spine over my knee if it didn’t work for me. Hooking up two out of the three computers was no sweat, but the third was trouble. For some reason the external wireless adapter I was using just didn’t get the right signal, but as soon as I put in the internal card that I had it worked fine. Weird. Now the frustrating thing is……one of the computers isn’t working with the network at home. It still wants to dial-up. Grrr……I can’t really do much up here at college so they might unfortunately just have to wait a couple weeks for me to get home to use the internet on that one computer.

The rest of the time that I was at home was mostly spent just hanging out at my house with my family and Kristin (she came down to visit with me, which was very nice). It was also nice to have a few home-cooked meals that weren’t actually cooked by me! My mommy actually hit the kitchen for some cooking, which usually doesn’t happen that often, but it was well appreciated this last week. One day, because we really didn’t have anything better to do, since my parents were at work and my brother was at school, we went to Rochester for the day. I got to give Kristin the tour of our huge, metropolitan city, and by huge and metropolitan I meant like St. Cloud and kind of boring. We did a lot of shopping and she came home with a Simpsons trivia game while I managed to grab a couple of dvds. It was really fun being home.

Now after I got back up here, I had a frisbee tourney here in St. Cloud on Saturday and Sunday. We got there early on Saturday and started warming up before finding out that we weren’t supposed to be there in the tourney. I guess they didn’t get our entry fee, since our club representative didn’t get a check out to them, and they were mad so they had bumped us out of the tourney. Luckily one of the teams that was supposed to show up had to cancel out and we got to take their spot. We started the first day by going 3-2, which is a very good opening day record for us. Usually we are right at .500 or below. The two games we lost were pretty close and I think we could have easily won at least one of them. The best victory of the day came when we played the SJU alumni team. I really, really wanted to beat them so bad because a couple of the alumni just really rub me the wrong way. I got my wish and we won, while in the process posterizing a couple of the chumps that we don’t really like on their team.

The second day of the tournament we lost our first game but won the rest and took home the consolation championship. Now in any normal system that would be third place, but because of the different way they set up the brackets here it was fifth place. I still think that was a pretty respectable finish for us, especially knowing that there were 16 teams there. I really think our youth and overall team quickness is what did it for us. The second day during some of the later games we were just faster and had more energy for the duration of the games. I wish we would have come home with some type of hardware for winning consolation, but they didn’t have anything for us…err, wait…yes they did. We managed to come home with the giant “Welcome Frisbee Players” sign that they had in the gym to put up in our apartment, so at least we didn’t go home empty handed.

Now spring break has come to an end, my last spring break actually, and it is back to schoolwork for another month and a half. It is so crazy knowing that there is less than a two months of school left. I’ll probably be at the steps of the Abby for commencement before I know it. Time seems to move along quickly like that. In the meantime before that comes around, I’m going to be busy with schoolwork, especially this week as I have a paper due tomorrow, a novel to read by Thursday, and also a paper to be written by Thursday. It’ll definitely be a kick in the pants to get going again as I just got off of a week of doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, I might as well get started now……but it’s not all bad because it is good to be back.

Monday, March 03, 2003

What’s Four Letters Long, Starts With an X, and Ends in “box”?

So the first couple of days of break have been uneventful just as I thought they would be. Saturday I watched Jackie Brown, some tv, a couple Family Guy episodes and read about half of Remains of the Day. It was one of those days where I was semi-lazy and semi-productive. There really isn’t much else to say about Saturday because it was just that absolutely low-key.

Sunday, yesterday, was pretty uneventful too. I got up and did some reading for my ethics and law class to get it out of the way. After that I packed up some things that I wanted to take home over break to just get out of my room so I don’t have to worry about bringing it home later during graduation time. After a little while I got bored and decided to go into St. Cloud with Jared and get all the wireless networking equipment my parents are going to need to set up a network to distribute the internet from their brand new satellite connection to the three computers in the house. Along with getting all of the network stuff, I also made one other big purchase for myself, something I’ve wanted for quite a while, something I couldn’t really bring myself to get for the last year or so, but I finally couldn’t resist and after seeing the special Best Buy had on it, I bought an Xbox.

I had wanted to get one for so long but never have because I haven’t been able to justify spending $200 on a video game system. I couldn’t resist, though, with the deal Best Buy had. I got the Xbox, the new smaller controller, three games, and a $20 gift card to Best Buy if I bought it this week. Not being able to resist, I put it on their plan for no interest financing for six months. That leaves me until almost the end of summer to actually have to pay for it and I think I’ll be able to have that much scrounged up by then.

Most of the rest of the day consisted of Jared and me playing Amped and X-Men. I also got Sega GT 2002, Gunvalkyrie, and Jet Set Radio Future. I haven’t tried the last three yet, but I’m sure I’ll get around to it soon. One of the main reasons that I wanted an Xbox over, say, a Playstation 2 or Gamecube is mainly the price of the games for Xbox. There might not be nearly as many as Playstation, but they go down in price much faster than the competing two systems. I can’t really afford to be dropping $50 on games all the time.

Later after much video game playing Theresa came over to hang out since she was still up here for a couple of days because she has to work. We watched the Simpsons, Malcom in the Middle, and That 70’s Show before playing some X-Men. When we got sick of that we popped in One Hour Photo. My goodness, that was a psychologically creepy movie. After that I just watch Adult Swim on the Cartoon network and then played some more X-Men before I hit the sack for the night.

Now either tonight or early tomorrow morning I’m going back home for a few days to visit my family and such so I won’t be able to put up anything new. Hopefully you can all make it that long without anything from me. I’m sure you’re all capable. I’ll be back in a few days!

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Why Can't I Time Travel?

So I have a solid three days, starting today, to be all by myself here at my apartment in St. Cloud. This is such a different atmosphere with no one around (well, Jared is here next door). I have no real worries since it is spring break so what shall I do? It’s like having three consecutive snow days off from school. I used to love snow days, be it elementary school, high school, or even college. Yes, we have snow days here at SJU, but only because when it gets too icy or snowy the buses can’t run between campuses so people can’t get to their classes. Since they can’t get to their classes SJU and CSB just cancel classes. It’s sweet. I remember last year when we had a snow day off.

I believe it was a Sunday night when it started snowing and by morning we had over 30 inches of snow that had fallen on us. It was amazing. Everything was covered up and it was as if the season had just completely changed from fall to the middle of winter (as we didn’t have any snow on the ground before this 30 inches). Cars we completely covered, you couldn’t see the roads, and not a single vehicle was out as I looked out my window. There would be no school today and I had it free!!! What was I going to do? I was faced with the same dilemma I am now by having a lack of anything to do. In answer to that question last year--Jeff and I decided we’d go into St. Cloud. Talk about two stupid males doing stupid things. After making the decision, we had to find out some possible way to get there. Eureka! I had a car! We could use that.

After bundling up (well, as much as two college guys are going to bundle up) we headed down to the parking lot to get my car out from under its 30 inch burial of snow (which the road was also buried under you must remember). We got there and a few other people had the same idea as us so they were already working getting their cars out. Someone had managed to get their truck out of its entrenchment so they were driving (well, spinning their way through) through the snow that was on the road of the parking lot trying to clear a way for other vehicles to drive (because our grounds crew didn’t really care too much about clearing the lots since we had a day off). It didn’t look like many of the other people trying to get their cars out were having much luck, but we were going to get mine out if it was the last thing we did that day because we had nothing better to do with our time (besides homework, studying, and being productive of course).

I popped the trunk of my 1994 Saturn SL2 open and grabbed the shovel out of the back and I also got the mini-shovel I had in the back seat out (for some reason I had two shovels in my car—fate must have knew I’d need both of them). Jeff and I got to work shoveling out my car. About 45 minutes later we had uncovered my car and made a little path to try and get it out. We managed to get it out of the parking spot, but as we were leaving we kind of hit a little snag…we got stuck again. We shoveled and pushed and shoveled and pushed and a lit bit (probably 20 minutes) later we were out again. This time we were home free and out of the parking lot.

Well, what should we do in St. Cloud? Go to the mall and Best Buy! As we got there, both were closed for the day because of the snow situation. Grr…that sucked. After driving around for a while we found the only places open were Walmart and Perkins so we were stuck checking out the Walmart and eating at Perkins. So much for having a productive day at the mall and playing with gadgets at Best Buy.

Now today I am faced with the same decision I was posed with that fateful day last year…what should I do today? Except this time it is a little different because there is no snow (except for a couple little piles of snirt [snow-dirt] lying around) and no one is here on campus. What am I going to do? I think I’m going to watch some movies and read a book. That’s what I think I’ll be doing, but who knows for sure what I really will do.