Monday, December 29, 2008

guys, I'm not the smartest

It's come to my attention that there are some people in the world who are smarter than I am. This shouldn't be a big deal, but I've defined myself by my above-average intelligence for quite a while, so it's aggravating to admit that I'm not the only runway light bulb in the bunch.

As is the case with most things I don't understand, I did a bit of research on exceptional intelligence. It turns out there are kids who teach themselves to read around age 2, just like Matilda (however, they do not have her telekinetic powers). They get bored in school and have trouble making friends (but then again, doesn't everyone?). Learning comes easily, so studying music theory and writing a symphony in a few months is just another hobby to them.

Learning doesn't always come easily to me. I have to really work at vocabulary in Russian (and English, for that matter). However, I do have a love for learning, and while I'm not quite in that upper 1%, IQ-wise, I'm still up there (despite having gotten dumber since high school, not sure how that happened). So I think I can understand wanting to study lots of different things, and feeling dread at the thought of doing the same thing for the rest of my life. And when it comes down to it, even improbably intelligent people have the same existential dilemmas as regularly intelligent people. Still, I should define myself in a way unrelated to my intellect, and then I wouldn't have these issues.

Okay, I'm going to go read a book to make myself feel smarter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

ethicality? is that a word?

I had an especially trying day at work the other day. One of our clients compared us workers to Nazi prison guards working in willful ignorance. While we're not killing people, I am pretty ignorant about what goes on at my workplace. Part of me doesn't care and says that I'm just doing it for the money and it's a good thing I have a job at all, but another part of me is concerned. I didn't know anything about my line of work before I started working there... so all I learned about it was from work - I could have a biased or skewed viewpoint and not even know it. I do know that my company is a struggling non-profit and sometimes cuts corners to cut costs, but I've tried not to get upset about that. The thing is, I don't understand why this client thinks I can really do anything to solve whatever corruption has grown into the system. I am completely helpless to change anything except how clean the building is and how detailed interviews are. Even if I knew enough to blow some major whistles, my company going out of business wouldn't change the courts and judges at all. Anyway, sorry to be so vague about things, but blogging about work is always a big neon DANGER sign.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

since when is anhedonia cool

It's of some interest that the lively arts of the millennial U.S.A. treat anhedonia and internal emptiness as hip and cool. It's maybe the vestiges of the Romantic glorification of Weltschmerz, which means world-weariness or hip ennui. Maybe it's the fact that most of the arts here are produced by world-weary and sophisticated older people and then consumed by younger people who not only consume art but study it for clues on how to be cool, hip - and keep in mind that, for kids and younger people, to be hip and cool is the same as to be admired and accepted and included and so Unalone. Forget so-called peer-pressure. It's more like peer-hunger. No? We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self. Once we've hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, be part-of, not be Alone, we young. The U.S. arts are out guide to inclusion. A how-to. We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. And then it's stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naiveté. ... Hal, who's empty but not dumb, theorizes privately that what passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human (at least as he conceptualizes is) is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naive and goo-prone and gerenally pathetic, is to be in some basic interior way forever infantile... (694)

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

So there I was, reading this passage, and I realized that it very well could be describing me. I know, I know, part of the cool thing about reading fiction is identifying with a character and then feeling good when this character succeeds, but I try to avoid that and be objective and all. And me trying to be objective says I strongly identify with this passage. So now my cynicism and jaded irony is merely a generational fad? I thought I was being real. I feel as disappointed as a child who has been promised a pony and gets a plastic idol instead. As disappointed as a rat formerly on a variable-ratio schedule but switched to extinction mode and has a really long stint of pressing that little bar without any reward (this was me trying to describe my disappointment instead of saying "words fail me"). My self-concept is ruined! ...oh well.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Embarrassment is likable!

Perhaps surprisingly, the momentary pain of being teased can lead to pleasure. During their 15 seconds of humiliation, the targets of teasing displayed common signs of embarrassment — gaze aversion; a coy, nervous smile; a hand touching the face; a head bowed submissively so as to expose the neck; and blushing. These gestures are ancient signs of appeasement that trigger a reconciliation response in most mammals, as they did in our study. The more targets showed these evanescent signs of embarrassment, the more the teasers liked them.
-NYT Times article, In Defense of Teasing (page 3)

This probably explains why I'm so endearing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Experimental Literature for the blind?

Okay, great idea of the day: experimental literature... for the blind! "And this was the texture of her face *braille dot braille dot braille dot*" "And the silk had this texture... *blank paper*" It could be... really cool!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

monologue with myself as audience

Ah, so writing this paper is easier to postpone than I anticipated (you know, the writing sample for grad school). I feel like I'm out of ideas, but really I should concentrate on fleshing out the ideas I already have. I'm a little worried that I'll finish it and think it's genius and then everyone else will be like, "obviously you haven't taken any college English lit classes!" But this is a fear I need to face.

I'm becoming more conscious of my wardrobe: I have gotten to the point where I know some of my clothes are just ugly, now I need to find replacements for them, which will probably take a while considering that a) I don't go shopping a lot and b) I'm not just full of money right now (also my weight is in a state of flux? My job is seriously horrible for me controlling what I eat). But I think if I were to say I was going for a certain style, it would be European (that sounds better than old-manish or geriatric). Speaking of being like an old person - I have been sleeping like 10-12 hours every night this break. No wonder I'm like, "where did my day go?" I'm not sure if that qualifies for hypersomnia or not (especially if I can wake up earlier if I want to). Sleeping just seems more fun than most of the things I do.

Monday, November 24, 2008



feels like an empty glass
about to go though the wash
a long silence
no one breaks
a passionate poem -
or an unopened
love letter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mirror's Edge

Dude, if I were more of a hard-core gamer I would be all over Mirror's Edge. According to Wired, it effectively hacks proprioception, meaning that when you run, you as a gamer feel like you're running. Unfortunately the game is from EA and has gross DRM malware. You know what that means. I still have to beat Chrono Trigger, FFVII, and Beyond Good and Evil (oh, and I haven't even started Deus Ex).

See youtube for gameplay shots.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Anarchism disappoints

Here is my newest website find: They have used books for way cheaper than the Amazon marketplace, usually. I totally bought 5 books from them the other day (and they'll be cool old paperbacks, too).

I recently re-watched "Fight Club." Unfortunately Provo fight clubs have been outlawed, so I can't go watch it live (however consusual fighting is not against the honor code, in case you were wondering). Besides the psychological contortionism that the plot requires, I'm intrigued by, well, the anarchism. I think it's one of those things (breaking rules, petty vandalism, blowing things up) that feels so cool and fun in the moment but never accomplishes things. So the thing I need to do is find something that feels cool and accomplishes something. Perhaps - anarchistic service? Oh wait, I already write for the Board! I guess I'll just continue in my poor consumerism. Why am I such a tool?

Also, I wonder if Palahaniuk (author of the book Fight Club) had some inspiration, say, from all the existentialist philosophers that preceded him? Beckett's "Ohio Impromptu" also uses a hallucination character.

Friday, November 07, 2008

my little slaves

I think I'm coming down with something. Basically I'm friggin' cold all the time and all I want to do is sleep. Also: I never, ever want to get a messy divorce after seeing all the unhappy divorced people at work and their kids. Granted, I only see the high-conflict divorces, but still, talk about inconvenient/a major pain in one's life.

So being tired for unknown reasons I've had a lot more of those moments when I suddenly feel like, unreal, that I'm just a pair of eyes and my hands don't even belong to me. You know what I'm talking about - minor, everyday dissociation kind of thing. I wonder how paralyzed people feel about their bodies? I mean, I can move my hands and sometimes they feel like they're not me but my little slaves.

Also, I've decided that some day I want to learn contact juggling, or at least some slight-of-hand. It would be so useful. Do you know of any good primers? I should spend some time on youtube. Or maybe I could figure it out myself?

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Everything seems irrelevent, but not in a bad way. Years from now no one will care what books I read or what movies I saw. But in the moment I read them, it makes me appreciate beauty at times, at other times crudeness or sadness. So it matters, in that I feel art helps me be more broad-minded, at least emotionally, but at the same time maybe some other things are more important.

But is it the moment's joy that matters, or how I'll feel looking back on it? Will I remember how important I thought these things are?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fun times

Sometimes I worry that I'm not interested enough in literature to pursue a master's in it, but then I spend a few hours reading criticism about Bend Sinister, and it just seems fun, and it makes me worry a bit less.

I feel like there's a lot of hero-worship that goes along with Nabokov, and I want to be less an idolator and more of an idol (now that's religiously sound). What I mean is, I don't think any author is perfect, and I want to keep my perspective even while reading things like "only Nabokov could have written this!"

If you're interested in Bend Sinister, let me know and maybe you can help me edit the paper I'm going to write about it (currently I want to do something with personification, but I might end up doing something with windows).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In which I develop a minor unrealizable crush

I saw The Painted Veil at International Cinema the other day, and I really liked it. I'm not sure if I actually liked the story that much - a woman falls in love with her husband after cheating on him - but I loved the soundtrack and the main actor's looks/character (usually I don't go for movie-star looks, but I make an exception in this case?). He's so... sad all the time, but not pathetic - it's like he's choosing to be sad (which I find... curious). Also, the 20s fashion is quite attractive (I mean, really who can resist suspenders?). But I keep wondering, why did he fall in love with that woman in the first place, knowing she was spoiled and not exactly his intellectual equal? Once again I am treating fictional characters as if they are real people... oh well. If you ever find an available guy who looks kind of like this please tell me about him (assuming that he is passably intelligent).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Money's slave

I hate it, but I feel like a slave of money, or at least a servant. Oh you want me to work 3.5 hours on my day off? No I don't have anything planned. Oh you need me now? I can skip the class I like going to. This is seriously annoying. I can't wait until I have a real job where they don't have to know that I have nothing planned most of the time (except, you know, making pancakes, which I felt didn't qualify). Did I mention I hate thinking about money?

Lately I've been noticing that I'm really insecure about my individuality, because I know I'm probably more like other people than I'd like to admit. Maybe that's why I get a kick out of being so nerdy, it shows how I'm different. I mean - maybe not everyone likes modern literature (I can't really imagine why not)? And that's why it bothers me to hear Keane on the radio, because I thought they were this indie band was recommending to me, but it turns out they're in the same boat with Coldplay (by the way, I downloaded their new album, which was on sale from Amazon today only, and it wasn't half bad, although I still think bands should write their own music).

One of my only recently conscious goals is to become a polymath. I think that's why I like House and Nabokov's novels so much. The thing is, I'm not sure if I like knowing things for the sake of knowing them, or if I like knowing things because someone else doesn't know it. 'Ya know?

Also, I've taken to being annoyed by people in high-paying jobs who think their time is more important than anyone else's. But really, the rest of the world doesn't care! Examples: doctors, lawyers, therapists. I think that's a big reason I don't want to be a therapist - I'd end up being all self-important and used to clients worshiping me, and then I wouldn't be able to interact normally anymore (assuming that I ever interacted normally). Professors can get that way too, but I think they need to protect themselves sometimes from students who don't know how to read (hey look, I'm already on the way to being a self-justified prof). I'd rather be a professor though, because no one actually cares about them (besides you know, creepy students like me), and they get to just do their own thing most of the time.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Actual conversation in front of Smith's

Man with Beret (MwB): You know, people who wear berets are pretty amazing people.
Me (carrying a backpack full of groceries, unlocking my bike): Yep... pretty much
MwB: Where'd you get yours?
Me: I don't know, somewhere on sale for a buck.
MwB: Czechlosovakia.

Suddenly I feel insecure not having some kind of story to go with my beret! Perhaps next time I can make one up. I feel like such a poser.

Also, my firefox crashed and now the built-in spellcheck no longer works. Help?

Monday, October 06, 2008


I watched Lolita over the weekend - the Kubrick 1962 version. It's weird, but I found Quilty (center in this snapshot) to be really hilarious, despite his implied depravity. It's strange because I didn't find the actor nearly as funny in Dr. Strangelove or The Pink Panther. I think I liked that he was fooling Humbert all along... I like knowing what others don't know, I appreciate it when I can be smug with someone once in a while. How horrible!


Usually my job isn't too difficult - just be constantly vigilant, take notes, keep track of time, etc. However, every now and then I have to deal with separated people being really petty to each other, and I have to be polite to them while they do it (make copies of their notes to each other, read said notes, etc.). It stresses me out a lot, and sometimes I wish I could say, "yes, your ex is being immature, but so are you for making such a big deal of [parking, clothing, photographs, etc.])." So to make up for having to be polite at work all the time, I may be especially cheeky (I know, I'm cheeky anyway, but now I have an excuse?). I hate how I'm powerless to change anything at work, or if my notes do change something I'll never hear about it. Why can't people just be good to their kids and spouses in the first place?

I feel like I'm constantly doing things yet accomplishing nothing. I'm not sure how this is happening, but I dislike it. I feel like I'm missing something but I don't know what it is. Like a vanishing point, my nebulous goals seem constantly out of reach. I feel like giving up on achieving anything - that the cult of achievement has led me astray, but that I have no where else to go and that I'm stuck with creating goals and falling short of them. Progress is an illusion.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

World of Soundtrack

If you were ever searching for a soundtrack but couldn't find it, check World of Soundtrack. Possibly my favorite find of the week (Charade! Also Tabarly).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nabokov also loved bad movies

"Nabokov's opinion of the movies, was, nevertheless, ambivalent. It is apparent that he had little patience for 'the grotesqueness of cinematic cliche.' Friends described how he would 'single out intentionally an inept American film' and 'literally shake with laughter, to the point where... he would have to leave the hall.' " -The Cambridge Companion to Nabokov

Does this remind anyone of Bad Movie Night?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Biking in the dark

Yesterday I went on a bike ride in the dark. I went on a bike trail, and it was kind of scary. A bunch of vultures bobbing their heads on a tree stump ended up being some wild sunflowers. A few skateboarders zipping by barely slid out of a collision. Night skateboarders of Provo, I apologize for blinding some of you. I figured out that my headlight was actually decreasing my ability to see the road and rode back mostly without it (it's good for on the street with other cars, but mostly just blinding on a bikeway). I rang my bike bell about every minute, feeling like a deaf bat. Somehow I ended up back home alive. The end.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Around my neighborhood

Last week I felt pretty antsy and I ended up riding my bike just around Provo in the evenings. There's more to north Provo than I initially thought, but eventually I remembered the area from some of my freshman walks. I haven't explored south-eastern Provo much until a few days ago. I didn't even know we had a Mexican food store. One boy said to me, "Hola, senora" (Uffish: "haha... he called you old"; at least he didn't mistake me for a boy). Then I thought, "maybe I should have studied Spanish, I would have more opportunities to practice." Oh well. I should mention that recently I've gotten more aggresive in my bike riding - I'll actually use the road and left turn lanes now, telling myself that I am "asserting my rights as a road-using vehicle."

I've been to the Provo library a bit more than usual this week (our router got fried), and it's interesting to see the types of people who use the computers there: the married girl who used to be in my ward, probably checking her e-mail, the teenager commenting on a friend's myspace, the high school hopeful applying to jobs, and the creepy guy listing "missed connections" on craigslist. It's also educational to see the difference between a university library and a city library... the Provo library definitely has a higher percentage of self-help books and kind of trashy pseudo-science books. It kind of makes me sad, because I used to think that if something was good enough to be published, it was probably worth reading, but I've recently found I was mistaken.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two years

So, I've had this blog for two years since Monday. To me, it's hard to strike a balance between "too much information" and "too obscure;" lately I've only been writing when the material is better suited to blogging than the written page (I also dislike addressing my readers too often or asking people to leave comments, but in this case I make an exception). To take a page from CPM's book, I'd like to get some reader feedback: are there any particular topics you would like me to write about? I can write about stupid jokes I hear, literature I read, things I find online, or I could give bad poetry another shot (...nah). Anyway, in the absence of feedback you should expect the same sporadic quality from me that I've been giving you... for free!
Did you know that Boston Harbor Light station is the only lighthouse in America with a keeper? So much for my dream of becoming a lighthouse keeper (source).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Types of Internet Pirates

So, I've decided that there are a couple of different types of Internet pirates. I was going to make an online quiz about it, but couldn't get the website I was using to work. So here's how I see Internet pirates:

The Leecher pirate - downloads torrents of stuff without uploading it back. Will download special software to achieve this purpose. Never uploads his own stuff and downloads movies and albums before they're out. Has a couple of terabytes of stuff. Basically shameless.

Upstanding pirate - usually uploads as much as he downloads, downloads CDs and movies he can't find anywhere else, and buys what he downloads when it's available, because he feels guilty about his piracy.

Benevolent pirate - Creates new torrent uploads of highly-sought material; converts LPs to mp3s, has a friend in the academy he can get quality DVD rips from; basically internet piracy depends on these people.

Special-interest pirate - continually uploads a certain film or computer game. People like this keep older downloads alive.

Casual pirate - downloads every once in a while. He doesn't think much of it, this is pretty much the largest portion of internet pirates (people-wise, not bandwidth-wise). Usually has a disorganized music collection.

Old-Fashioned pirate - Doesn't know about or doesn't use torrents. May use P2P, but more commonly borrows friends' CDs (or the library's) and rips them. May record songs directly from the radio into an mp3 format or onto a tape deck. May taperecord or transfer from DVR to DVD favorite movies and shows. He has a direct, nearly anonymous, and quick way to get pirated media, but his selection may be limited, depending on his friends. Technically an old-fashioned pirate shouldn't be in a list of internet pirates... so maybe the list should be "media pirates"... your grandma could be an old-fashioned pirate...

Completely unrelated, but I got my hair cut a little like that picture I posted last month. I like it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who would have guessed

Image hosted by

Strong and spirited. You're no one's girly girl; actually you are very determined person with a strong sense of self. Never let go of that! The only thing that equals your sense of self is your family, but the traditions of society can always be bent to protect something or someone you love.

Which Disney Princess Are You?

This quiz was kind of fun, and not all the answers were transparent to me. Also, let's face it, everyone likes hearing about herself once in a while.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ironic mental processes

The ironic processes of mental control (Wegner 1994) suggest that there are times when it might be good to stop planning and striving. It is often possible to try too hard. The initiation of plans for action and for thought is normally a useful enterprise, of course, as it typically leads to the exercise of successful operations of mental control. We plan to stand up and we do so, we intend to concentrate and we do so, we intend to relax, to sleep, to eat, to go outside, or to write a letter, and we do so. However, sometimes the formation of a conscious plan leads to a paradoxical effect - the implementation of the plan creates the opposite of what was planned. ...when we try not to think of something, we seem to create an automatic and ironic tendency to think of that very thing. The usual usefulness of our planning and intention procedures makes us go ahead and try to do many things, even those that have inherent ironies.
-Daniel M. Wegner, The Illusion of Conscious Will

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dream hairstyles

Every once in a while I fall in love with a hairstyle I see in a movie or book. I really liked Amelie's hairstyle (in Amelie), and I kind of liked Trixie's hair (in Speed Racer). But they have black hair, which I would undoubtedly look sickly and ugly in (not to mention it's straight). So it wasn't until I watched Wild Strawberries that I really liked a hair style that I could actually have one day: Sara's hairstyle. It's short, yet girly, but not annoyingly so. I'd like to just walk into a salon and give them these screenshots and say, "cut my hair like that!" Does anyone know if it has a name ("poodle cut"? that sounds horrible! The sides are a little different I think)? I'm not sure I could pull if off, though. The movie itself was great, by the way. It's about a professor who realizes he's been mean to people, but only at an advanced age.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Found it

For years I have been looking for this Russian movie I saw when I was in high school. I could only remember vague details about the plot - there was a boy, and he was in the snow a lot, and there was an older woman who worked at a printing press, and it was really artsy and all. I finally found out what it was today! The Mirror, directed by Tarkovsky. Yes, I'm feeling very satisfied at the moment.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another departure, another road

A professor of mine died recently - earlier this month in fact - but I didn't find out about it until yesterday. I was thinking about Dr. Inouye, and how he sincerely believed in all of his students, but he managed not to be too serious all the time (he would start telling a joke in the middle of a lecture, and for the longest time I had trouble telling when he was joking and when he was lecturing). He loved making horrible puns, which of course reminded me of my family and my high school band teacher (seriously, what band teacher doesn't like bad puns?). It was for his class that I made this other blog, which as I look back on it, seems horribly dramatic and over-philosophized. I'll probably think the same thing reading back on this entry in two years.

He was a strong supporter of learning as an eternal principle, which, upon examining my own beliefs, is one I've adopted myself. I am beginning to think of my learning as part of my religion, as strange as that sounds. I think that explains why I get so annoyed at students who don't appreciate that they have a great opportunity to learn, students who don't milk their classes for all their worth. I'll admit I'm guilty of it sometimes, but most of the time I'd do the assigned reading, ask tons of questions in class, and seek out professors who I felt had more to offer than the small share of information imparted in class. I'm also getting increasingly frustrated with how stagnant most professors are in their way of teaching. So all this contemplation about education made me think that I should look into graduate school in education, not just literature or psychology. But I think in some ways it would make me more unhappy to study education...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I've always wanted to take my manual typewriter to the library or a coffeeshop and start typing, ala improv everywhere's mobile desktop mission. I don't have the guts to do it though.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Russian DOS games

If you're a Russian student and you want to play a Russian game, I recommend Heli. Basically you're a little helicopter that matches an English word to a Russian one. Some of the vocabulary seems simple, and it's a little frustrating that it doesn't tell you the correct answer right afterwards, but it might beat actually making flashcards (you'll need winrar to decompress it and DOSbox to play it). I'm still looking for some Russian adventure game, let me know if you find one that works.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hidden cost of happiness

Happiness in children may impair attention to detail. (I have the PDF if you want it)

I'm not too worried about this, because what child is happy every single minute of his life? But it brings up a good point - different moods are useful and we shouldn't say one is better than another just because it's more pleasant.

Now playing: We Are Scientists - The Great Escape

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Ahhh! I'm so excited! Podcasts of an entire course on existentialism in literature and film, from UC Berkeley (via free online courses; scroll down for behavioral neurobiology, awesome)! I can keep pretending to be a student, oh, I am so happy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Internet Adventures

Okay, recently I joined after my brother mentioned it to me. I'm not very interested in the role-playing part, but I am interested in how I'm learning about internet sites I had never heard of before but are still interesting to me. The "missions" you can go on are basically guided tours of different sites, and some are very informative. I recently took one about applets, and was introduced to the recommended artists generator (although lots of things can recommend artists to you), as well as the music "openness" test (I scored 121, the graph is to the left; "fractured disco" was the least listened to at .09%, haha). I also revisited the great freeware database of games in some retro-gaming mission I went on (and have been happily playing an adventure game from it).

Food Experiments: Chili

So, perhaps you recall my experiment with chili last year: I combined it with rice and ate it in a tortilla. This was a good combination as it lengthened out my chili and made it more digestible (a good trait for foods I eat). Tonight I decided to combine chili with spaghetti and tomato sauce (apparently chili spaghetti isn't that weird of a dish).

The spaghetti didn't stick to the chili+sauce as well as it does to the sauce alone, and the chili beans had this habit of falling off my spaghetti-laden fork, so I ended up eating them seperately most of the time (but when I got the right combination it tasted almost identical to the rice and chili). I think rice is a superior partner here, as it combines more evenly.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Amazon mp3 deals

Guys, guys. The Decemberist's album Picaresque is on sale today for $2.99 from Amazon mp3 (look on the right sidebar here). If you haven't heard it yet, I highly recommend you buy it. I also recommend Amazon's mp3 album deal of the day (they are 320 kbs, if you were wondering). That's all.

The Clash

So, I convinced one of my professors to share me some* music, and he included The Clash on one of the CDs he gave me. At first I honestly couldn't stand the vocals - poor enunciation, yelling, etc. But after the fourth or fifth listen I really got to liking them! It's nice because if you sing along you feel like you have a good voice, and the music itself is really quite versital. Yet another instance of anecdotal evidence supporting the mere exposure effect (you like familiar things more than unfamiliar ones, basically, which explains why proximity plays such a role in initial attraction in romantic relationships, etc.). Um, I also got a manual typewriter the other day and I really like it (except I end up neglecting my pinkies in favor of my stronger fingers).

*like that construction of "share"? I thought that I made it myself, but it turns out there are 92,000 Google hits for "share me some."

Friday, June 20, 2008


My little Cruzer flash drive survived a load of laundry! I'm so relieved. I guess it's because it's just soap and water, so it's not actually hurting any of the parts that matter. Phew.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baudelaire was an emo poet?

...For look - I am at war, my dear,
With the whole universe. I know
There is no medicine for my woe.
Believe me, it is called Despair.

It runs in all my veins. I pray:
It cries in all my words. I am
The very glass where what I damn
Leers and admires itself all day.

I am the wound - I am the knife
The deep wound scabbards; the outdrawn
Rack, and the writhing thereupon;
The lifeless, and the taker of life.

I murder what I most adore,
Laughing: I am indeed of those
Condemned for ever without repose
To laugh - but who can smile no more.

-Heauton Timoroumenos from
Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire, trans. by George Dillon

Colours Are Brighter

Colours Are Brighter

An album of hip children's music. Streaming from their site! Recommended.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A letter

To the young man who sat across from me in the library:

The Stuff of Thought is a good book. But don't read Psychology Today. Even Scientific American: Mind would be better, or Seed (granted, the Provo library doesn't hold those titles). Also, nice shoes. That's all.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Advice column

If you have been looking for a more vulgar version of The Board, I recommend "We Are Scientists"'s advice column. Also, Franz Ferdinand is coming out with a new album this year! In October.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

These shoes have a name

They are called winkle-pickers. I've always wanted to know. They're part of the Mod retro style.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Adventures in Music

Recently I stumbled upon gnod. It's a... an artificial intelligence project? It looks at things people like and makes maps out of them. It's helped me find some cool music. I've also been just looking around for music (on Pandora, on blogs, etc.). So here are the best artists I've heard recently (you can look them up on if you want to listen to them, even Rautavaara! If you have problems with imeem, just disable adblock on that site... sometimes there's a price to pay for free music):
  • Rautavaara: for people who like the modern side of Shostakovich
  • Radio Department: for people who like The Postal Service.
  • The Foals: a music child of Of Montreal and Philip Glass? Dude, rad.
  • Ladytron: think a modern Depeche Mode with a female vocalist. Also, more existential lyrics.
  • Origa: Kind of along the Ladytron line, only more Russian and Japanese. She did the opening song for Ghost in Shell... so she's cool.
  • Laura Veirs: way way cool, think The Decemberists but with a female vocalist (and not as gritty)
  • A Hawk and a Hacksaw: Classical folk music? I'm excited to somehow get ahold of their albums. That guy from Beirut has sung with them.
  • Devics: I have one of their albums. Great dream-pop (I still don't know what that genre means). It sounds kind of singer-songwriter, but cooler.
  • Morcheeba: I found their album Antidote in the BYU library (not to be confused with the Foals's Antidotes). It's... it's got some nightclub-style vocals (not sure what the correct term is, wikipedia says they have blues, pop, rock, and trip hop influences. GREAT). I like their song "Everybody Loves a Loser."
  • Gregory Page: He's written some nice ballads and came up on my Beirut Pandora station. His record sounds a little unpolished, but it's a charming sort of unpolished. I'm also amazed at how much of the production he did himself. Let me know if you want to borrow his album Love Made Me Drunk. The only thing I didn't like was the use of flute in one of the tracks. I'm a flutist myself, but I find that a lot of times flute just sounds lame in pop or folk music (sorry... it was a good thought?). Morcheeba used piccolo very effectively on one of their tracks though (it was more of a musical effect than a meldoic part).
Guys I am on the path of becoming a snobby music elitist, as we all know that making lists of recommendations is the first step on that primrose path. Yay? Also, feel free to comment with music recommendations. I know ThirdMango sent me a recommendation recently, but I can't remember their name... some European group I think it was. I have yet to check out that Iron and Wine group, and their description sounds cool (folk rock).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memory loss!

So I was cleaning out my wallet and I found a receipt for $92... I was like, "what the crap did I spend that much money on??" I was a little worried that I had gone out a bought something without my own knowing, or perhaps it was a clue left by my impersonator! So I looked up the company. It was for my glasses. Duh...

Scientific American has an article on blogging: "As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly."


Sunday, May 11, 2008


Now that I am through with classes, I'm terrified that I'll be bored. I always manage to keep myself busy though - I have lots of books I want to read, movies and shows to watch, instruments to learn, and skills to master (in this case... piano technician skills). I really don't like my job (data entry), but I'm good at it, it pays well, and I currently have no replacement, so I feel a little stuck there.

Lately I've been trying to get rid of clothes that don't fit me... I had all these shirts that were too wide and the sleeves were too short, and I was very glad to purge myself of them. Unfortunately I'm still having difficulty replacing them, probably because I never go shopping for clothes unless I'm at DI. Speaking of which, I recently bought a bunch of cool books at DI for way cheap. Yeats for $1! I am so excited.

I recently finished downloading the docudrama "The Doctor Who Hears Voices." I haven't seen it yet, and I'm afraid it will be really cheesy. I mean, docudrama, come on! It sounds like it's in the same genre as mockumentary or soap opera.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Memories of friend's houses in childhood

I was listening to a radio show on Proust this afternoon, and today I seem to be remembering my childhood. Specifically, friend's houses.

My neighbor friend, Jeff, had a house that smelled like cinnamon, and his mom made great sugar cookies. We played this board game, I think it was called Labyrinth, and it had pictures of little monsters. In the summer sometimes we'd go outside, and once I had a cherry tomato, although I was disappointed that it didn't taste like a cherry. After Christmas one year, Jeff got a lego castle set. It had a drawbridge you could open and close. There were copper dough molds on the walls, and they had a copper-colored dog named Rusty.

Summer afternoons, we would eat macaroni and cheese out on the patio (this is a different friend). They had a picnic bench with an umbrella, for shade, and it was always in the wrong spot. After lunch we would get otter pops from the freezer in the garage. There was a kid's table that had a scratch n' sniff sticker on each corner. I was always trying to sniff the pizza-flavored one. We made miniature golf courses in the sandbox. It was cool when we could make an arch that the ball could go over and under. There was a large bush on the hill, and we would play in it and on it. It was kind of prickly though. Their computer was in his parent's room, and it was right next to a window, so his mom could see from the backyard if we were still playing a game.

At Lisa's we would often play super Nintendo together. We played Super Mario Bros. 3 and Donkey Kong 2. We also played Aladdin. I was never very good at the games, probably due to my lack of practice time. She had lots of Barbie dolls that we would play with, and we would trade Sailor Moon cards from the quarter machine in Toys R Us. Her mom had a collection of elephant figurines that we would look at sometimes. There was one made of pewter, supposedly cursed, that looked like it might steal your soul. Once I started eating a huge bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, but my mom came over before I could finish it. I felt really bad about that. During one of Lisa's sleepovers we did a play of the movie "Chucky," which I had never seen. I was a very good actress and screamed quite convincingly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Books want to be read, research says

New research from the University of Winnapeg in Teluma, Kentucky shows that books are designed to make the reader want to finish them. "Chapters are shorter and end in cliff-hangers. These are all designs to keep readers feeling like they're covering a lot of ground and to keep them curious about what happens next," says Dan Sharpe, first author of the article entitled "Ways books help themselves: The changing novel in the 21rst century."

"Back in the day, books only had to have an interesting first five pages. Now readers expect an interesting first 100 pages." Sharpe says this increasing demand from books is the result of our fast-paced electronic era. Steven Bloom, a used bookstore owner from Lehardia, agrees: "You can now find book reviews in a few seconds using the Interweb. It makes it much more difficult to sell a book that might be more difficult to read."

However, the advent of the Internet has also allowed book buyers to find more books they want to read, with GoodReads, online book groups, and Amazon's "if you liked that you will like this" feature. Time can only tell what the future of the novel holds.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Easily confused things

-Sons and Lovers and Fathers and Sons (and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," at some point)
-Mel Brooks, Mel Gibson, and Garth Brooks
-"onomastic" and "onanistic"
-Kuragin and Karagin in War and Peace
Bob Marley and Bob Dylan... until you realize that one is totally reggae and the other is folk rock!
-Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix (they both have... rare letters in their names!)
-All The King's Men and All The President's Men
-Dr. Zhivago and Dr. Strangelove (people? books?)
-"Cat's Cradle" the Cat Stevens song and Cat's Cradle the Vonnegut book
-Virgil, vigil, and virginal
-etymology and entymology
-Guns and Roses and Iron and Wine
-philandering and philanthropy
-Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas
-fornication and formication
-other things that I will think of and add later

Thursday, April 17, 2008

research paper... on fiction?

I'm attempting to put together a research paper about Anna Karenina, specifically, the psychology of Anna and Kitty's illnesses, which are caused more by psychosocial stress than anything physical. But stress affects people physically! That is the least of my worries. I feel weird saying that characters in a novel exhibit features of a mental illness. Am I trying to diagnose a made-up person? The world of fiction is separate from ours! I am imposing science's reality on Tolstoy's diagetic reality, and it isn't jiving with me. "Not jiving" is a poor excuse though, so I'm going to have to write the paper anyway, even though I disagree with the whole idea.

Why am I having such a hard time with this paper? My last research paper practically birthed itself, although then I was mostly summing up research rather than analyzing a text with the analysis supported by research. The two epistemologies are so different! Writing this paper is like trying to explain why we like apples by putting a slice under a microscope and describing its structure. It's just so much easier and makes so much more sense to be superficial... the apple tastes good because it's sweet, there. Granted, it doesn't take up 12 pages...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Too late

Why didn't anyone tell me about this last October??

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Destination: Uncertain

I didn't make it into any of the graduate programs I applied to. I wasn't surprised, because they're very competitive, but all the people who were said, "you'll get in somewhere!" were like, "what!?" So I don't know what to do with my life now. I'm not sure if I even want to go to graduate school, it was just the next step in the path I was headed. It's really frustrating. I felt like this was like my destiny in life. So I'm considering reapplying, maybe not this year since not much will have changed, but maybe the year after. Maybe I could join the peace corps and my knowledge of Russian would actually come in handy. Maybe I could just work odd jobs... I don't know, learn how to tune pianos (I think instrument repair would be really fun). Or I could become a wandering street musician. Or a bum? A life of no connections is kind of appealing in a way... the Buddhist dream! Maybe I'll just keep my part-time job as long as possible, and in all my free time just read books and play video games. I could do some volunteer work to pad my Vitae for grad school... but yeah, I have no idea. It's kind of exciting! but also, really annoying. Suggestions about things I would excel at?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Princess Maker

Recently I have been playing a game that I used to play when I was younger called Princess Maker 2. Now, before you go about dismissing the game because of its really girly title, just give it a chance. I recently had my daughter grow up to be a fighter hero! I am seriously addicted to this game and usually end up spending more than an hour playing it once I've started. Sometimes I think about it in my spare time! This is a bad sign... but it is soooo cool. I'm starting to wish that my life were like princess maker and that going to school would raise my intelligence points and stuff. Would psychology classes raise my sensitivity? Maybe they would lower my refinement. Would successfully preparing a new recipe increase my cooking stats? Maybe going on dates would increase my charisma! Okay, seriously I need to do something else. I want to get the queen ending though, and I tried the wrong strategy on my character. I raised her sensitivity so she could talk to the monsters instead of fighting them and now she runs away all the time (running away decreases her reputation in everything, plus then she can't work or go to school that month). So much for that!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Being Ill: A Cautionary Tale

Back in September I had some mild atelectasis (partially collapsed lung). Since atelectasis almost always results in infection, I took some antibiotics to guard against getting sicker. At the time I didn't think much of it - mostly I was glad for the codeine to quiet my cough and the breathing treatment. It was nice to have a few days off from school and play some super mario, and I had a pretty optimistic outlook about recovering.

So, I recovered, but I had some other crappy health problems (literally crappy... bowel problems). I didn't really do anything about it for a month or so, because hey, sometimes bowels are just irregular! Then in December my doctor says I have a staph infection and refers me to a specialist, who, just yesterday, told me that my infection is gone! Yay. Unfortunately my symptoms are not gone, and I am the proud sufferer of post-infectious irritable bowel. FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! So, if you ever take antibiotics, remember to eat yogurt or something while you're taking it so you don't get an intestinal infection and then irritable bowels for the rest of your life, like what happened to me.

On the bright side, I will always have an excuse to be irritable!

This pity party is over!