Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I Feel Like I Could Die

I’ve wanted to post for a while now, but a combination of me starting work and being sick as a dog has kept me from putting much up. I’m still uber-sick, but I wanted to let you all know that I’m still alive. For the past week I’ve had some type of mutating sickness. It started out with a scratchy throat, which soon became a full-fledged sore throat accompanied with swollen glands and an onset of coughing. From there the sore throat died away but the coughing only increased exponentially. Today there was a lull in the coughing but most of the afternoon (and currently) I’ve been nauseous and my head has been pounding with a killer headache. As I’m getting ready for bed my cough is picking up again to help ensure that I have yet another night of restlessness. I really hope that I get better soon.

Oddly enough I was thinking back to last year and at this time I was also extremely sick. I remember being in my apartment at school New Year’s Eve with Kristin. I was lying on the couch rotating between being icy cold and scorching warm while Kristin took care of me. I’m heading to St. Cloud or the Twin Cities (I’m not sure which yet) to spend New Year’s with Kristin again, and it appears that I may be in the same condition as last year.

Ok, I’m really done and ready for bed so I’m going to let this go and try to get some rest, assuming I can stop coughing long enough to fall asleep. I hope that all of you are having a better Christmas break than I am because if you’re not, I really feel sorry for you.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

Well, I’m back at home now. I’m finished with college. I don’t want to think about it yet and it hasn’t sunk in so I’m just going to ignore reality for a bit. Anyhow, sorry it took so long to get a new post up, but my computer had been in a disassembled state in my mom’s photo studio for the last week or so. My next few posts will probably be sparse as well since I have Christmas parties for both sides of the family coming up and Kristin is also coming down to visit.

Well, to start things off I wish you all a merry Christmas and I hope that you all were good kids and got what you wanted. Today we celebrated this wonderful holiday here at home. It was just me, my parents, and my brothers here today. We got up, decided to be lazy, or at least Randy and Ryan did. I had to get some work done for Kingland and I’m trying to squeeze some hours in while I have spare time over break. We then opened our presents before we had dinner. Now I’m betting you’re all wondering what my parents got for me. Don’t worry, I’ll get to it.

First I wanted to get to what I got for my family. Actually, for my family Kristin and I went in together on presents so the following are what “we” got for them. For Randy we picked up a sports car coffee table book and a Punisher action figure. For Ryan we got him Crazy Taxi 3 for Xbox and a Master Shake plush toy. For those of you who don’t know, Master Shake is a character on the tv show Aqua Teen Hunger Force (one of the funniest shows out there, in my opinion). For my parents we got them a Terry Redlin calendar and a framed art print for the new addition to the house.

From my parents and “santa” I got a bunch of cool stuff: an SJU t-shirt (again, reminding me I’m done, but I’m still refusing to acknowledge it!), a Marvel Universe comic print t-shirt (it’s way cool with the Hulk, Spider-Man, and Thor in the center of the scene), a Marvel Universe comic trivia game that came in a pretty tin, a Simpsons Uno deck, some beef jerky, and a box full of comics consisting of runs of some series that I’ve been trying to complete (Dr. Fate, Namor, Alpha Flight, X-Men, and Brigade to name a few).

The family, well mostly dad, also bought DDR for my mom, which I will tell you right now has not turned off all day. If Randy wasn’t on it either Ryan or I was. I think Randy and Ryan will have the pad worn out before mom gets a chance to practice. Now it won’t just be me and Ryan fighting for time on the Xbox, but mom will also be vying for time! To spice things up I think I’m going to set up my free subscription to Xbox live and see what all they hype is about (and play some DDR online).

Well, I’m going to wrap this up, but before I go I would like to wish you all a happy holidays once again! May there be plenty of joy for you and your families!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I'm Almost Done

Finals week is now into full swing with today being the first day of exams. Luckily for me I don’t have any, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had things to do. I’ve had three final papers that needed to be finished and I’ve managed to polish off one completely, I’m close to finishing the other (just proof reading and revising left), and the third is next on my agenda. If all goes well, I should have my last paper done by tomorrow night so that I can use all day Thursday to pack up my stuff for Friday when my parents come up to help move me home.

This last week I’ve often found myself getting sentimental about almost everything I do. It’s so weird. “This is the last time I’ll play volleyball with my team.” “This is the last time I’ll be sitting in class.” “This is the last time I’ll ever have to take the bus.” “This is the last time I’ll ever get to eat at Sexton when they have curly fries while it’s snowing outside.” Well, maybe not sentimentality to the extreme of the last statement, but it’s strong nonetheless.

To help reinforce this feeling, the philosophy department had a Christmas get-together at one of the prof’s house in St. Joe on Sunday night. It turns out that it wasn’t just a Christmas gathering, but Steve (the prof whose house we were at) had gotten a cake for Lindsay (anther senior philosophy grad) and I congratulating us on our graduation. Not only that, but the department and other philosophy students gave us each a card and gift. Because of my interest (and degree) in computer science, they gave me a book on artificial intelligence, which looks to be quite interesting as it details the history of the field of AI while speculating on the future of what may or may not be able to be accomplished.

It was really nice to sit down, relax, and talk with my professors and fellow classmates for a few hours. It really made me notice the difference between the computer science faculty and the philosophy department. When I was going through the computer science program I never really felt a connection with any of my profs and I never had any desire to interact with them outside of class. On the other end of the spectrum, there hasn’t been a philosophy professor that I haven’t wanted to talk with outside of class. I also think that the faculty in the philosophy department has more of an investment in their students. Sure, whenever I had a question or problem in my comp sci classes my professors would be there to help, but I never felt like they really, truly cared about me as a person. In the philosophy department, I actually feel like I’m more than just a common student with questions that need to be answered.

Another thing that has become quite apparent over the last few years is the difference in the type of students in the two majors. I never really connected to many people in the comp sci program. It might be that none of them really had social lives outside of their computers, but even so it was hard to even strike up conversations with most people in my classes. In the philosophy program I have easily made numerous friends in the short time I’ve been in the program (only 2 years). I’ve also felt so much closer to the students in the program, and I know I will miss many of them.

Ok, enough sentimentality for now, especially since I’ve been feeling my fair share of it lately. Now back to talking about homework! Really, though, I am quite thankful for my laptop at the moment. In the past I’ve often had a hard time writing papers…well, not really a hard time, but I would often get easily distracted. There’s always so many cool things on my computer like games and the internet that I have a hard time focusing on my paper. Even when I can tune out the temptations of my computer, there’s the television or video games or comic books or something else always vying for my attention as well. With my laptop, I can disconnect it from the internet, leave my room and sit in the living room where Karl is watching Law & Order (which I am completely uninterested in) and focus on writing my paper. I’ve also even went to Barnes & Noble to completely get away from everything that might distract me (although I did spend some time perusing the books) so I could focus. Because of this focus, I’ve basically got two of my papers done when semesters past I probably wouldn’t have thought of even starting them until tomorrow.

Well, since I’m talking about my laptop, I think I’m going to get back to finishing my second paper so I can start my third when I get finished here at work. It’d be nice to have everything done before I go to see LOTR: The Return of the King tomorrow so I’m going to try to buckle down hardcore. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 11, 2003

So Cold Your Snot Freezes

Mother Nature has finally decided to lay the smack down on us Minnesotans and remind us of where we are living. Yesterday and today the highs have been in the low teens, but when you factor in the wind it was hitting the negatives. I always hate these first real cold days because even though I know summer is over, I’ve gotten used to just the “right around freezing or slightly under” days that define the first month or two of winter. Once the first “it’s cold enough to freeze my 170 degree coffee on the walk to work” day has arrived, you know you’re in for the long, winter haul.

If it wasn’t for this horribly frigid weather (there’s no snow that came in with the temps, so that’s good) I was contemplating running a 5K this weekend over at CSB, but as it stands I’m pretty sure I’d freeze to death by the time I finished. Either that or I’d get myself sick which I really don’t want with Christmas right around the corner.

Speaking of Christmas, I finished the rest of my xmas shopping yesterday. I had to go in to St. Cloud to pick up a few odds and ends, so while I was there I just picked up the rest of my Christmas presents. It was kind of weird coming home with a bunch of empty Rubbermaid tubs to start packing my stuff up in. Usually I get a few things together to take home over break, but packing up everything seems weird to me. I’m also wondering how I’m going to get all the crap I’ve accumulated up here home, and once it’s there, what am I going to do with it? Lucky thing we have the new addition, although I’m pretty sure I won’t have much of the new space at my disposal (I’ll probably only have a corner that I can use to store my comic collection). It’ll be a little bit odd moving back into my old room, but I’m sure it’ll just feel like every summer for the last four years has.

Last night Kristin and I finally reached a new milestone—we beat Dynasty Warriors 3. The last mission of the game must have taken us three days of trying to beat. In that one mission alone, between our two characters, we totaled almost 600 kills. If there’s ever been a game that has more killing via swords and bow & arrow, I don’t know of it. I think by the end of the game my character alone totaled almost 2,500 kills. That’s just monstrous, but the odd thing is I don’t feel like this game was a gratuitously violent game. There was no blood, just lots of people getting mowed down by my sword and then fading into the ground. All in all it was a pretty fun game, but I had no clue whatsoever what the plot was. The cut scenes and mission briefings gave me absolutely no insight as to what was going on. Basically we were playing the missions just to beat them. Now I’ll just wait for Dynasty Warriors 4 to go on sale and I’ll start the whole cycle over again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I Wish This Were a Happier Time

I suppose you could say that two out of three ain’t bad, but I know that three out of three would have been better. We couldn’t quite pull off a win in our final volleyball championship game. In fact, we choked something fierce, and it wasn’t just a couple of us that did, but all of us collectively as a team had a really rough game. I don’t know if it was having to play four matches in the two days previous to last night’s game or that we all had a lack of motivation to win or what, but whatever it was, it sure disrupted our game. Not to downplay the other team at all because they’re a good team, but we had almost beaten them earlier in the season in three games. Last night wasn’t even close as they took us down in two short games. The second game we fought a little harder, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the hole we had dug ourselves into.

Even though we had a bad game, I couldn’t be happier on any other volleyball team. I’ve really enjoyed the last 3.5 years of playing with them (some for a shorter period of time, but it feels just as long) and it was a nice, crowning achievement to at least be champions in two leagues for our final season together. I’ll be graduating, Julie will be doing student teaching, Casey will be moving on to a different team, Jackie has been playing with another team, and with that the rest of our team will splinter. It’s a somewhat bittersweet ending as I know I will miss playing with our team every week. Volleyball had become a staple of my college experience. I’ve become better friends with the members of our team more than almost any other people that I’ve played sports with here at SJU. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we can put a team together over the summer or down the road because it would be nice to continue playing, but as it is I know I’ll have many happy memories of the hundreds of games that we’ve played together, and with our two championship wins, I’ll also have a couple of t-shirts to wear to remind me of our seasons.

It’s not just that volleyball is ending that is giving me this bittersweet feeling, but towards the end of every semester I usually fell a little more melancholy. Just know that I’ve reached another ending point is always hard. I don’t mind beginnings and I love middles, but endings in general bring me down. Be it the end of a movie, a sports season, a semester of school, or year of my life—endings don’t sit well with me. Most of them necessitate some type of change, which I really hate to do. I get too easily set in my ways, and once I do, I fear breaking out of that mold. Now with the end of this semester I not only have an ending there, but I have an ending to my undergraduate college career. I’ll now have to enter the working world and come to grips with how it functions. True, I will be given a new beginning, which I don’t mind, but along with it I’ll be reeling from the ending that I’ll be experiencing in the coming week and a half. It’s coming too soon, way too soon……

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Two Down, One More to Go

This is it, my last full week of classes. It’s scary that I’m now so close to the end. I’m sure that the time will go by quicker than I’d like it to as well since I’ll be busy finishing my three final papers and this week I give a presentation on Friday. Two of the three papers that I have due next week will probably be two of the most difficult I’ve written all semester. One focuses on the inherent difficulties of reconciling government and religion in our justice system while the other will focus on the concept of cause & effect as explained in the metaphysics of Locke, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant. My third paper, which is by far the easiest of the trio, is a case study in ethics as related to the Challenger space shuttle explosion (which is also what my presentation is on). In worrying about classes and getting ready to move home, I have managed to have a good time lately.

Saturday was Kristin’s and my one year anniversary so we took off the entire day from homework and everything else and spent it together. Some people may have thought that our special day wasn’t so special because we didn’t do anything grandiose, but I would have to completely disagree with them. I, personally, needed a day to just relax and get my stress level down before my last weeks of school and by spending the day together we easily achieved that and had a great time in the mix. In the morning we cooked breakfast, played a few video games (we’re addicted to Dynasty Warriors 3 when we have the time to play it), and watched X2: X-Men United. I still have a hard time getting over how great of a movie X2 is. Bryan Singer translates the X-Men so seamlessly from the comic book to the big screen, and I sincerely hope that the powers that be decide to continue rolling out new X-Men movies. It would be nice to see a franchise started much along the lines of the James Bond run.

Anyhow, I’m getting off topic. After the movie we both got dressed up and went to Timber Lodge Steakhouse. Kristin finally had a chance to wear one of the dresses my mom had picked up for her a little while back. It was not exactly the warmest night out for wearing a dress, so I have to give K a lot of credit for braving the cold and looking pretty all at the same time. We ended up splitting the walleye and steak combo, which was just perfect for both of us. We didn’t leave anything on our plates and we were stuffed full. Afterwards, we went back to my place and simply sat back and relaxed the rest of the night. It was a nice way to close off the night.

Oh, I almost forgot, for our anniversary Kristin got me a couple of little things. Since I didn’t have a big picture of K and I together, she went out, had one made, framed it, and gave it to me. It’s a great picture of us from our vacation in South Dakota this last summer. We’re standing together overlooking the Badlands. She also gave me a new watch. My old watch that I had worn for the last 3 years finally broke about a month ago so I’d been living without the ability to check the time religiously during my classes (which I often do since there are no clocks in two of the rooms I have class in). The watch is really pretty. The band and border of the face are silver (to match my rings) while the face is a really deep blue that fades into silver as you look towards the center. I like it a lot, and it feels so nice to have that comforting feeling of something on my right wrist again.

The rest of the weekend, and the beginning of this week has been great as well. Sunday night our volleyball team played through two games to get to the championship game, which we fought hard and won making us champions of one of our three leagues. Last night we played the championship game of our second league and again won. So now we’re #1 in two out of our three leagues. Tonight is the championship game in our third league and, you guessed it, we’re playing in this one too. Out of the three nights, though, tonight we’ll have our hardest game. We’re playing a team that consists of a couple of men’s club players and some female ex-volleyball players. We played them earlier in the year and lost in three games. I think if we play a little bit better than we have the last two nights, we can pull it off and sweep all of the volleyball leagues. Wish us luck!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Shifting Attitudes

The end of the semester is now rapidly approaching and I can feel everyone’s tenseness levels starting to rise. You can always see a slight change in people’s dispositions when finals time rolls around. Some people are more on edge, some try harder to get away from their studies, while other simply disappear to the depths of the libraries and computer labs. Over the years I’ve noticed that I seem to fall into each of these categories simply depending upon my mood for the day. I’m amazed at how inconsistent I feel about things during these last few weeks. One moment I can’t wait for Christmas break to be here, the next I dread the thought. One day I may ramp up my dedication to doing my homework while the next I will try to avoid class and homework as if their presence would somehow cause me physical pain.

Yesterday actually managed to be a day of both ends of the spectrum. While I was at work I did my readings and writing assignments for class and looked over some things for my later class. I paid attention and participated heavily in my first class, but then my attitude shifted. I went to lunch and napped and from that point on I was done. I made it to my afternoon class, but I felt disinclined to participate and all I could do was clock-watch. A class that was usually very interesting simply turned into a prison sentence of 70 minutes. At the beginning of the semester I would never have thought of my law class in this way, but the end of the semester brings about such odd feelings and notions.

After class my focus did nothing but wane. I got home and cleaned up my room a bit, threw in my laundry and went to a meeting for next week’s presentation in my business ethics class. We went over the case (the Challenger shuttle explosion) for a little while, but it soon became apparent that all three of us were in the mindset that homework couldn’t hold our attention. I figured that I wouldn’t be able to focus on my homework after the meeting so I went to run and lift, which I hoped would clear my mind. It didn’t. I got back, showered, and tried to do some work because I knew I needed to get it done. I managed to finish it, but not without a boatload of effort poured into it. Reading that I usually found engrossing was hard to focus on, and I sometimes needed to read things twice that I usually wouldn’t have.

I don’t know what it is, but these last days of the semester have some type of intoxicating effect upon students. Maybe it’s the thought of freedom from homework that comes with Christmas break. Maybe it’s the added pressure of finals that breaks our concentration. I don’t really know what it could be, but I do know that whatever it is it changes people, myself included.

Since I mentioned Christmas above and since I’ve talked about needs the last couple of posts, I’ve had the holidays on my mind. I love the season of Christmas, but there is definitely one thing that drives me crazy about this time of year—Christmas music. Many people love it, but I can’t stand it. As soon as I started to hear Christmas carols and pop renditions of Christmas songs coming over the radio, before thanksgiving was even here nonetheless, I started to cringe. Every pop star—good and bad—comes out of the woodwork to do some version of their favorite Christmas song. Considering I hate almost all pop music and I dislike most Christmas music, the combination of the two often drives me slightly homicidal.

Why can’t we all just agree to play Christmas music during the week of Christmas and not before. Usually by the time Christmas even gets here everyone is sick of the same bland Christmas tunes that they’ve been hearing for over a month. If we only played them during the week of the holidays, we wouldn’t be so sick of them (and I might actually be able to tolerate a Christmas song or two). As it stands now, however, every time I hear a Christmas song outside of a few days before the actual day of Christmas I just want to vomit.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Should I Need These Things?

So, where was I? Ah, yes, needs and things and money. As I’ve been thinking about the word need and what needs for people actually are, I can’t help but look subjectively at my life and what I think I need. I suppose I should admit up front that I am somewhat materialistic. I do like to have “things”, but I wish that I always didn’t want to have them. Often I can get along without things, but every once in a while there just happens to be something I need.

For the most part, I only get material things when I have the money to afford them and I feel that I am getting a fair deal for what I’m paying for it. Through this reasoning, I’ve never actually paid full price for anything, I don’t think. All the video games I buy I pick up used or on sale (I try to only buy them if they’re $15 or less). I used to get cd’s all the time when they were on sale, but for the last 6-8 months or so I’ve almost completely given up buying music (unless it’s from a band that I really like and the cd is sub-$10). I have also given up DVD buying for the most part as well. I don’t usually watch a movie more than once or twice anyways, so why buy a movie for $15 or so when you can rent it for $3 or $4.

Thinking back, I probably spent too much money on cd’s and dvd’s. I’m pretty sure that I never actually thought that I needed any of them while I was purchasing them (even if I might have said so), but I definitely wanted them. Maybe I just fluctuate from one material thing to the next in what I like to purchase because I went from toys to cd’s to dvd’s and now I’m back into comics again. Realizing once more that I don’t “need” comics, I’ve tried to reign in my comic buying to just my monthly subscription and a few assorted titles here and there to fill in my runs.

The thing that has been different with some comic purchases than with cd’s, dvd’s, and other things I’ve bought is that occasionally I have caught myself actually feeling a need for some issues, but it doesn’t happen too often. Usually the only time it happens is if I somehow manage to put together an almost complete run, but I’m missing a few issues. If I have #1-13 and #15-15 of a 20 issue series, I then feel the “need” to get #14. Every other issue seems useless and incomplete without that one issue. I’m sure that there are many other great story arcs in that series outside of that issue, but I somehow feel like I’m being cheated if I read it through without having that issue to read. It would almost be like reading a novel and just skipping an entire chapter in the middle of the book.

In cases such as these I see the one place that things that are unneeded for survival and sustenance could be seen as a need. When I get something that is not a need, but I require something to augment it, complete it, or protect it—those items of augmentation, completion, or protection then become needs in my mind. An example of this that doesn’t involve comic books might be my laptop that I just got. Since I now have a nice laptop that I spent a good chunk of change on, I need some way of protecting it and transporting it. I “needed” a carrying bag. This need ended up costing me $40 that I don’t really have at the moment. Sure, I could get by without it, but I don’t want to take that chance of breaking it or not being able to take it somewhere. Heck, I didn’t even need to get the laptop, so I shouldn’t really need the case either.

This problem right here is, in my opinion, my biggest downfall when it comes to viewing things as needs. I will not view things as needs, and I will only get them when I can afford them and I think I could get good use out of them. After I get those items, the auxiliary items that are associated with it then become needs for me. This association of tacked on items never really figures into my view of the original item. Maybe if they did I would reconsider buying many things.

I really don’t think I’ve answered the question of how things can be needs very well, but in thinking about it I’ve come to realize how I operate when it comes time to purchase something. I suppose I could go out on a limb here and say that I’ve found the topic for my New Year’s Resolution already—be more intelligent in examining all the aspects of a purchase: it’s actual cost, what other items I will associate with it as needs, what the ramifications of those needs will be, and if it will be possible for me to circumvent these feelings of necessity.

I want to follow through on this resolution doubly well because I will now have loans to be paying off that I’ve accrued from attending SJU, and also my employment situation does not seem to be as secure as I would have hoped. I’m still trying to pin down a job at Kingland in Rochester, but the position is not a guarantee. Even if I do get the job, I have no clue what the salary may be (assuming that it would be a salaried position). I guess this isn’t exactly how I saw the beginning of my “real world” experience starting. I came in with high hopes of coming out of here with a degree and a secure job that would pay me well enough to get my loans taken care of and also allow me to put together a nice, little savings fund. Now, as it stands, I’m on shaky ground because if my job at Kingland falls through, I’m pretty much screwed because I haven’t looked anywhere else. I’ve liked Kingland’s environment and simply wanted to continue working for them. Let’s hope it works out that way. It is definitely going to be an interesting December, but I am still unsure as to what type of interesting it may be—drama or pleasant surprises. Either way, it’s all going to be unfolding within the next 30 days. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, December 01, 2003

What Do You Need?

Oddly enough, my thanksgiving break wasn’t nearly as lazy as I would have liked it to have been. Sure, it was relaxing and all, but I didn’t get nearly as much sleep as I would have liked and I didn’t get to sit around and simply read & watch tv for hours on end. What’s even more odd is that I really didn’t mind that much. It was simply enjoyable being home with the family.

For thanksgiving our family just stayed home by ourselves, which I enjoy much more than trying to have a bunch of people over or trying to make it to other people’s dinners. I’d rather just stay home, not have to worry about driving, not have to worry about trying to be sociable, and not worry about other people’s cooking. Instead, my dad and I (with a little help from Ryan and mom) cooked dinner, which consisted of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, crescent rolls, and macaroni & cheese. It was very scrumptious and my tummy was quite pleased, if not a little overstuffed! After that much food, there was no other option for afternoon activities besides sitting down to watch football. The rest of the evening was spent cleaning the basement and getting to bed semi-early in preparation for Black Friday.

Yes, for about the fifth year in a row, I was outside Best Buy’s doors at a little before 5 am. What makes this feat so crazy every year is that we live 45 minutes outside of town, so in order to get there that early Ryan and I had to get up before 4 am. Most people would call us crazy, but I think of us more as ├╝ber-crazy. Every year there has been some reason that we’ve “needed” to be there, and this year was no different. In years past we’ve managed to get most of our house’s electronic goods on this most holy of shopping days. Last year it was a monitor for mom’s computer and some other computer parts. Two years ago it was a new television and some computer parts. Three years ago it was mostly just computer parts. This year it was a lot of things.

The “thing” that was foremost on my mind was a nice, shiny, new laptop computer. Ever since high school I have drooled over the portability of a laptop. Oh, how I’ve always wanted a computer that I could take with me anywhere. As of Friday, that dream became a $500 reality. For that price I could not pass up a loaded laptop—2.4 Ghz processor, 256 Mb DDR ram, 30 Gb hard drive, DVD/CD-RW drive, and a 15” screen. With this purchase, I was also able to fulfill one of my brother’s “needs”, that being a portable dvd player (he bought my 7” portable off of me since I now have a 15” portable!).

We also managed to haul in a few other neato things for the family (and for me, but they were put away for xmas, so I’ll refrain from mentioning them until after xmas). Our family camcorder broke a few months ago so we picked up a new one. In comparison to our old one, this new one is SO COOL! I don’t know how we ever survived without an LCD for recording (and replaying). The picture is also so much clearer on this cam than on our older one. The size difference was also quite noticeable (the new one being small and light and the old being heavy and somewhat bulky).

Now you may have noticed that in the above paragraphs I have put the word “need” in quotes whenever I’ve used it. I did this because of a conversation I recently had with Kristin over break when we talked about what people really need. What do people really need? We use the word so liberally in our speech and conversations, you’d think that everything that could possibly be in a person’s price range must be a need. I have also often wondered exactly what a person’s needs may be, but usually I do not think I have a proper answer.

In the strictest sense, for human survival all we really, truly need is basic sustenance in the form of food and water, enough clothes to keep us warm, and shelter from the elements. Beyond that, we don’t really “need” anything. I, however, find this troubling. What about companionship or love? What about purpose? What about material “things”? I honestly think that they all hold a place in someone’s canon of needs as well.

Without other human contact and a purpose, what would life ever offer over death besides persistence in this world? Nothing, really. Any “normal” human being I think also craves, and “needs”, other things beyond sustenance, the biggest of those things being human interaction. I don’t even think it has to be meaningful interaction—any will do. Just knowing that you are not alone and that you have someone experiencing the same world that you are is essential for persisting in this world.

Beyond just simple human interaction and sustenance, humans must also have a purpose. I don’t mean that everyone must have some grandiose plan, but we are a goal oriented species and without something to strive for we lose any meaning that the world might offer to us. Imagine your life without goals—all goals—and tell me what it is like. I simply cannot imagine that type of life.

Even if we have purpose, human contact, and sustenance, do we really need all of the “things” we say we do? Do I need a new laptop? Does your child really need that $80 pair of jeans? Does Michael Jackson really need more plastic surgery? I know the answer to the last question is obviously yes (please fix your face, Michael, because I’m starting to have nightmares any time I see you on the news), but what about the first two and related questions? I think that it is very possible that they could be needs, but the criteria for the need must be known and expressed. When I say I “need” a laptop, I don’t mean, “I cannot survive without a laptop,” but instead I mean, “For me to be able to do computing from places other than my room, I must have a portable computer, but I will not buy one unless the price is justifiable.” The same could be said for the jeans. You could need them because your old pants ripped out and you have the necessary amount of funds to buy this new, comfortable pair of jeans.

The problem that I think comes into play when people criticize other people about their “needs” is when they don’t understand the criteria that a person is using to come to the conclusion that they have a need. Someone may think that by me saying, “I need a laptop” that I am being absurd because I don’t need it to survive. To be a more productive worker and to make my work available on the go, I must have something besides my desktop, namely a laptop, and by that I “need a laptop”.

Need is also very often associated with money, but that is a topic for another day as I now have to leave for my morning class. I “need” to attend so I cannot finish this at the moment, but there will definitely be more to come tomorrow or the next day!