Thursday, October 28, 2004 · posted at 10:14 AM
See Lisa, instead of one big-shot controlling all the media, now there’s a thousand freaks xeroxing their worthless opinions.

       - Homer, The Simpsons, "Fraudcast News"

Sunday, October 24, 2004 · posted at 6:03 AM

A chemical reaction between two substances occurs only when an atom, ion, or molecule of one collides with an atom, ion, or molecule of the other… In order for this transition state in the reaction to be achieved, minimum energy is needed to cause a chemical reaction. This energy is the activation energy.
     – Columbia Encyclopedia

I've long attributed my lack of desire to go out to the cocktail of peeves it vaticinates – crowds, smells, drive-by dancers, drunken idiots, mysterious liquid and not so liquid puddles on the ground, brain-burrowing mmmtsk mmmtsk mmmstk club beats, and so on.

But what of all the times I procrastinate or renege on something that I actually do enjoy or care about? What accounts for the two-hour lag time between "Yeah I'll be there" and my unfashionably late arrival? Or my acceptance of an invitation and the eventual propitiatory phone call/text message? Or the hemming and hawing over 3am Squabble?

I feel this flakiness is due to a chronic vast differential between energy I have and activation energy needed. I wonder if there's a name for this kind of disorder (other than the one that starts with a b and ends with an –itch).

I always have the best intentions, or the intention of going anyway, but once I'm in my pajamas and at home… it's game over. Adam Brody wearing a sliced bread t-shirt in a bookstore with a chai tea latte couldn't drag me away from my butt-groove in the couch.
If you're lucky, or unlucky depending on the situation, you might have a friend who is superenergetic and motivates or at least pushes you (literally even) into doing things you know you should, but are prioritized after watching the Magic Bullet informercial for the seventh time (see Monica in The One Where Ross Finds Out). This friend would be the equivalent of an enzyme that lowers the activation energy necessary. Meaning if you give a 30% chance of going somewhere and your enzymatic friend is there, that 30% is enough to get you out the door, whereas without the friend, you're looking at sole custody of the remote control for the rest of the night.

Blame a caffeine deficiency, lack of an enzyme, or just the mysterious ways of Mother Nature – just don't blame me.

If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.

And I'm the Everest of laziness.

Friday, October 22, 2004 · posted at 2:21 AM
My Felicity season 3 dvds came today. I'm bursting with fruit flavor.

It may be too soon, post Season 2, disc 5 debacle, but hey, maybe it'll help ease the pain.

Monday, October 18, 2004 · posted at 6:03 AM
All neurons that will ever be present are present from birth… The formation of synapses between neurons (synaptogenesis), is far from complete at birth… Early in development, there is an explosive proliferation of synapses, causing the number of synapses in a toddler's brain to far exceed the number in an adult's. Then over the course of childhood, the number of synapses decreases to adult levels… it gradually decreases, reaching adult levels by about age 7…

Some researchers have proposed that the early surplus of synapses is related to infants and toddlers acquiring certain kinds of capabilities more effectively than adults.

     - Robert Siegler, Children's Thinking

I'm trying to learn to play chess. Emphasis on the word trying.

Chess seems like something smart people do. I want to be smart. Thus I will pretend to be smart by playing chess (if I thought this through logically, it'd actually be detrimental to any image of intelligence because really, I'd just expose how NOT smart I am within the first seven moves).

Plus it's the only game (that I've found) on my new PowerBook. Stripped of Solitaire, MineSweeper and Wi-Fi, I have nothing to keep me from using my laptop for its intended purpose (studying) except chess.

Chess is hard. I really feel that it's very unlikely or difficult for adults to learn new things. Or maybe I'm just slow.

Either way, it took me 15 minutes of randomly clicking around the board to realize I had no idea what I was doing. Then 2 minutes to find a Chess for Dummies website and then 10 minutes for me to make my handy-dandy "cheat sheet" of pieces and movements – diagrams included. Seven minutes to decide if I wanted marble pieces on a metal board, wood pieces on the grass board or one of the other 14 combinations and 4 games to visually distinguish the pawns from the rooks. They all look like castlelike-crowned pieces!

So now I know how the pieces move but I have no idea where to move them. Also a very shaky grasp of how one wins. I can only tell because 1) I'm no longer allowed to move any pieces anywhere and 2) there's a little gloating banner that says "black wins" at the top of the window. Ya' got me.

After a few more games I discovered that I'm taking to chess like a fish takes to water… a freshwater fish to the almighty ocean…

I can't help thinking this would have been much easier to learn as a child. Blame it on the lack of synapses or something. I have a huge problem protecting my pieces, coming up with a strategy and looking beyond the computer's next move. It's scary to think that my "big picture" actually got smaller with age.

Maybe as adults, we get too wrapped up in just surviving to plan ahead and strategize. Instead we look at the little picture and short term goals, concentrating on just getting by. Seeing "approved" pop up on the cash register, making it to the next weekend, and creating a "balanced" meal such as spaghetti and salad are seen as enormous triumphs, while side projects, books, hobbies and aspirations collect dust in the corner.

Or maybe that's just me, as I know people who have had IRA accounts set up since age 16 and spaces reserved at prestigious preschools for children not yet conceived.

I can't help but think on a blank slate, a moldable mind, these chess strategies would have coalesced much more easily. After all, as a child I was unbeatable at tic-tac-toe and Connect Four, both highly strategic games. I could have been the next Bobby Fischer, Waverly Jong, virtuoso, Doogie Howser, Mozart, the sky was the limit (unless you wanted to be Buzz Aldrin). Because, you know, as a kid could still become anything.

Saturday, October 16, 2004 · posted at 11:45 PM
Old school

My freshman year of high school I had a teacher who lived in a state of denial about his age, or more specifically his stage of life. He was "The Fonz" of teaching. He desperately wanted to be young and "hip" and for us to adore his "coolness." Monday lectures would be about his weekends of volleyball and partying and Friday lectures would be about his forthcoming weekend plans of booze and women. That he would use the word "women" should have been an indication that he was older than his Noxzema-buying, Jnco Jeans-wearing, TI-82 touting students.

He once said, "People in our age group..." in reference to him and the whole class. I don't even know what the end of that sentence was - I was too busy thinking, "That is so pathetic."

I've had many conversations about being "with it" and being "not with it" and at what point are you no longer "with it." Do you blatantly decide on an arbitrary birthday that you are no longer with it? Does realization just hit you one day when you decide to watch mammal dvds rather than get drunk downtown? Or do you just trudge on, thinking you're with it and oblivious to the fact that you're not?

Now I can see how it's so easy to slip into the denial that I am not an adult. I refuse to believe I'm old. Of course old is a relative term. I'm young in the sense that I'm not collecting Social Security yet. But I'm definitely on the old end of the spectrum of people whose mainstay is pop culture and being with it.

I've tried very hard to convince myself that I'm "just out of college" and still as free-spirited and sans responsibility. I talk to the college interns instead of my coworkers because that's my demographic. In reality, I have a health plan and a 403(b), and I'm equidistant in age to my old officemate and the new class of interns. I'm the Fonz!

The straw that broke the camel's back?
A person is nothing but his image. Philosophers can tell us that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us, that nothing matters but what we really are. But philosophers don’t understand anything. As long as we live with other people, we are only what other people consider us to be. Thinking about how others see us and trying to make our image as attractive as possible is considered a kind of dissembling or cheating. But does there exist another kind of direct contact between my self and their selves except through the mediation of the eyes?
     - Milan Kundera, Immortality, p. 127
I interviewed a potential intern today. I asked her about her schooling, her skills, her interests. I empathized about her less than stellar grades, we bonded over our love for social psychology... And then she said that she was adept at website matters because "people my age like to do online journals."

I was incredulous. I wanted to scream, "I do that! I am your age! You're talking about my people" but instead I kindly thanked her for her time, showed her the door and disqualified her for making me feel old.

Some might argue that a comment like that should be taken positively, that I engaged in an activity that young people do so I should feel young.

But there was this implication that she belonged to an age group that I did not. And that implication is completely valid.

While voter registration may look at us the same, clearly we are not at the same stage in our lives. She belongs to the population of people who roll out of bed at 11 and complain about noon classes, the population that eats fast food instead of packing a lunch, a population who doesn't even need to stress about being with it because they are just naturally so.

I had been Mr "Call me Jeff" Rosso with a "think of me as your peer because it makes me feel young" mentality. I should have known from the emphatic nodding that this girl clearly did not regard us as equals. It was like that Camry commercial where the guy tells a horrible joke and everyone laughs and the tagline is "The first time your butt is kissed." To clarify, no one is kissing my butt. But I wonder if the interns politely agree with me and inside harbor the same thoughts about me as I had circa 1995 about my 9th grade teacher.

It's a sad day, but I think I've realized that although I can use my old ID to buy discount movie tickets, it is indeed my old identity and I'm no longer belonging to the college crowd.

So what now? Drive a sensible mid-size sedan? Check. Spend Friday nights watching movies? Check. Use and abuse my newfound adult status to torment those still enjoying the luxury of responsibility free youth? I'll put it on my "To Do" list for Monday.

"There's a copy request form with your name on it..."

If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

Thursday, October 14, 2004 · posted at 8:13 PM
Expiration date

Today I told my boss wished to terminate my job. No more "work sucks" blogs... not after June anyway. June is when I told my boss I'd be leaving. To pursue "better things" aka higher education or just to "re-evaluate my life." It's not the two weeks' notice one would hope for... but then again I consider it a victory because I 1)broached the topic on my own accord and 2)did so without becoming the blubbering mess history would predict.

As much as I bitch and moan about my job, it's not by any means horrible. I don't have to do anything repugnant (although the whole socialization and engaging in palaver with coworkers can be a bit trying). And the piddling pay has always been enough to get by (the purchase of Target generics rather than brand names helps a lot in this arena).

And I really do have a great boss. She created a position for me and consistently encourages opportunities for growth. Plus she allows for flextime and comp hours, which means she hasn't fired my ass for showing up at work 2 hours late (although this also might be because she doesn't notice on account of being busier than Britney Spears or J. Lo's PR person).

So how does this "action plan" for 8 months from now affect my life today? A runner feels better seeing the finish line in sight, or at least knowing that an end exists. Now I'm not an athlete, so instead I breathe a sigh of relief that I'll never become the lady with the Tiffany's pen slowly signing her life away.

Monday, October 11, 2004 · posted at 6:03 AM
I'm convinced the ETS is out to get me.

I never though that I would have to write out another check to ETS in my life. I was right. That's what electronic registration is for.

So last month, I registered for the GRE and have consequently been spending my days slaving away memorizing list upon list of words... Okay so not really but it's a great excuse to get out of undesirable social events. "Work function? Gee, sorry that's right before my GRE... You don't want me to do horribly and have to stare at my mug everyday because I'll be stuck working here forever, do you?"

I registered and then proceeded to download and print all practice materials at my work/internship. Shhh. A few days ago, I blew off the dust and actually looked at the materials and read the directions.

The GRE is new and improved, recently moving into a "computer-adaptive" formula where your set of questions is tailored to your performance level. This basically means if you start getting questions like cat : mammal :: frog : _______ you just threw $115.00 down the drain.

I've been told that there are advantages to this kind of testing. Mainly that it can better read your performance level through this algorithm-based format, and in long tests, it can shorten testing time by detecting your proficiency, or lack there-of, in fewer questions.

First off, I don't like the idea of a "standardized test" that doesn't ask every test-taker the same questions. That to me doesn't sound like the objective standardized tests I'm used to. How can you get "norms" from a measure that doesn't use the same items?

And the way the computer GRE works is you start off with a certain score. If you answer the first questions correctly, your score is increased. If you answer the first questions incorrectly, your score is decreased and every correct answer from that point puts you in a different trajectory where a right answer is worth less points than had you answered the questions correctly to begin with. So basically you're fighting an uphill battle the rest of the way. What if you're slow to warm?!

As for the "shortening the test time" argument. I can understand wanting to shorten an 8 hour MCAT or 2 day boards... but come on... this is a 3 hour long GRE! I've watched movies longer than that!

Another thing I dislike about the new GRE is that I think it works for people who have good verbal skills and poor "quantitative" (aka. math) skills.

There's an analytical writing section on the GRE now. I completely agree with this. Well I don't completely agree with this because it's not my strong point, but it makes sense. In grad school you're likely to write a thesis and need strong analytical skills. Verbals: 1, Maths: -10.

The verbal section is 30 questions in 30 minutes (decreased from 38 questions in 30 minutes on the paper-based test). At first you think "Score, less questions in the same amount of time." Then you realize you've just lost the ability to scribble all over the passages and cross out obviously wrong answers.

Also they expect you to have naturally increased your vocabulary from 50,000 words to 70,000 words over the course of your college education. But really it depends on your major because I learned words like "chaparral" and "Piaget. Perhaps if I had joined a book club earlier that vocabulary increase might have happened. Verbals: 1, Maths: -30

The math section is now 30 questions in 45 minutes (changed from 30 questions in 30 minutes). I don't see how the move from paper to computer warrants a 15 minute time increase. Test-takers have gone from writing formulas and solving for x on paper (either the testing book, but usually scratch paper) to... writing formulas and solving for x on paper... and get 15 extra minutes for it?

While verbal questions are "choose the best answer" because you need to know the subtle differences between "pugnacious" and "irascible" (which lists as synonyms), quantitative questions have definite right and wrong answers. And if all else fails, it's multiple choice... you can plug and chug into all of the algebra questions!

Furthermore, the level of the math section? The hardest question it asks is going to be about geometry. Meaning I could have taken this portion before I even entered high school and gotten a comparable, if not better, score. I'm not saying I'm dying to see integrals, imaginary numbers and z-axes on the test... but if the majority of college degrees require some calculus, shouldn't a test for college graduates test for math skills/knowledge you acquire in college in the same way it tests for those additional 20,000 words?

One might argue that that's what the subject tests are for, that someone pursuing a graduate degree in any other subject but math will never need to know number theory. Agreed, and using that same argument, does anybody need to know the definition of a millinery besides a milliner?

The ETS wants test-takers to do well in math and provide a wealth of information to help you do so. This includes a step-by-step explanation guide to practice math sections and a 70 page free, downloadable math review section including common formulas and strategies for math questions. This could be the great leveler. This makes the score of someone who was prone to do well in math anyway a little less impressive.

And what do those who need a little bit more help in verbal get? Bupkis. Instead I'm supposed to shell out $40-50 for a Princeton Review or Kaplan book that has the "hit list" of words used on the GRE... which may or may not actually appear on there.

Total Score: Verbals: 10, Maths: -100

Sunday, October 10, 2004 · posted at 2:01 AM
You probably think this song is about you.

This week on UPN's Top Model, the theme of the girls' photo shoot is beauty shots with a clean face. Meaning no makeup, no cover-up, just the camera, a tube of Nivea for their hands, and whatever insecurity they house laid out in the open.

During judging they showed a touched-up photo and the same photo without touch-ups. The non-touch-ups were not a pretty sight. They showed every bump, every bag, every wrinkle.

The rational for a bare photo? Airbrushing and the like is expensive and time-consuming. The less of it the better. And after editing the New York pictures, I really can't argue.

I don't know if it's because it was raining, or because it was the end of a 48-hour day, but the pictures from the Empire State Building were frightening. We all looked as though we had dipped ourselves into a vat of Kat's lip gloss.

There are people who are just naturally photogenic. And for the rest of us there's PhotoShop. A healing, clone stamp, and layering later, a picture goes from "yeee" to "yay."

For those of you who believe in virgin pictures – good for you. Go find yourself something flawless, something in a vacuum, something without sebaceous glands. As for me, I feel by PhotoShopping photos I'm really doing a service.

In the same way we crop random people out of pictures, use a red eye marker, or "rotate arbitrary" to improve the aesthetic quality of a picture, so am I improving the quality of a picture by making it easy to see the picture rather than be blinded by the light from my shiny forehead.

Things I've realized from fixing photos amateur-style:
  • The cloning tool works wonders. However, this procedure is very similar to skin grafts. While a skin graft can be used to cover wounds or burns, you need to have an unaffected area to retrieve the donor graft. Sometimes there's no perfect patch to clone.

  • It helps to have a tan. Trying to cover the shiny white from someone who's, well, white to begin with can get tricky.

  • Flyaway hair can be removed if covering less than 10% of the face. Beyond that, it's every Enkidu for themselves… Also, erasing baby hairs (see Jennifer Lopez) can affect hairlines. Be cautious not to Conehead the person.

  • Half-shut eyes can be remedied by copying a portion of the eye and layering it at its normal position.

  • Prevention, as always, is the best cure. We're blessed with oil-blotting paper. We really ought to utilize it.
And believe me I had to pay for my vanity. You think looking at uneven complexions and coruscating skin in a 4x6 is uncomfortable? Try sitting at the computer for hours and staying at pores magnified 5x. Yeah not so much fun.

Don't you. Don't you.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004 · posted at 7:43 PM
True North

You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? That idea of home is gone. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.
       - Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), Garden State

Last time I went home I found myself in a strange house. Maybe I can chalk this up to the fact that it was late at night... or maybe it's a sign that my "home" isn't my parent's house anymore.

For the past 5 years, I've used "home" interchangeably with my fair Boba Town, usually using "my place" or "my apartment" when talking about my San Diego residence. But lately I've been slipping - referring more and more to "my place" as home (e.g. I'm heading home now, I'm at home) to the point where everyone needs to clarify "Boba home? Or SD home?"

Trips to my parents' place grow less frequent and more fleeting. Part of the reason is because weekends are sacred days and going home pretty much guarantees that I will be obligated to something or someone when really all I want to do is relax, sleep in until noon, get a Jamba Juice and go to Target.

The other part part of the reason is that it's not familiar anymore. I find myself face-to-face with a weird archaic refrigerator, I don't know where things are (which annoys me because if I was at my place I'd know exactly where everything was), my bed is back-breaking, and none of my stuff is there – save trophies, old bank statements, and clothes that needed to be donated to Goodwill two sizes ago.

Home isn't where the heart is. Home is where you're at home. At ease. Comfortable. Snug as a bug in a rug.

I think the ultimate test is where you go for the holidays. Burn a Thanksgiving turkey with your friends? Open presents with the rents? Ring in the New Year with your in-laws-to-be? I've never missed a holiday yet…

If only it were so easy as clicking your heels three times to return home… or find home for that matter.

Friday, October 01, 2004 · posted at 8:18 PM

I just can't get enough of the little blue electronic hand-held game that provides hours of fun. Of course I'm talking about Catchphrase.

While intelligence was once thought of as the coveted trait in your partner/team, I've now come to realize that it's not necessarily an asset if one member has Einsteinian intelligence and another that of Forrest Gump. That kind of discrepancy just breeds miscommunications, which of course breeds disappointing losses.

You really need to be on the same wavelength, whether a low frequency or high one, to successfully figure out the answers.

So when my supersmart friend Cindy says "It's what you breathe... 70% of air is composed from it" that clue goes whoosh over my head. After I yell out "air! oxygen! water! carbon dioxide! Magna Carta!" I've maxed out on the number of elements I know and am just waiting for that buzzer to go off.

And I'm sure Cindy's not a happy camper, either, knowing that her friend who received the same 7-12th grade education as her, doesn't even know that NITROGEN is the main component of the atmosphere.

Then you see someone say, "I think it's a big volcano in Europe... maybe Greece" and the first thing out of his teammate's mouth is "Mount St. Helen!" which is not an accurate fact... but the correct answer.

So that old adage "birds of a feather flock together"? Not true - they just do better at Catchphrase.

Recent Posts
Cringe - it's not just a reading at Freddy's Hav...

Faith without FearAt an especially dark time, I as...

Booty Nomad Something seemed off about her descrip...

The Big HappyThere it was. My first composition bo...

Generation MeOrdinary people can also find a taste...

Miss American Pie About the time I started being g...

Speak. I need a new friend. I need a friend, perio...

Cinema Paradiso. Sooner or later a time comes when...

Year of the Dog. My favorite chapter books when I ...

Grab on to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way. Trudy ...

Morning news
babie goose ryan
daves son
high entropy
invisible cube
starfish + coffee

March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
January 2007
March 2007
April 2007
November 2008

 all humiliation © by author