Monday, December 31, 2007

Meditating on Meditation

I meditate. Right after I rise in the morning, before I know the day starts, and each evening before return to bed, I sit upright, cross-legged, eyes closed, and listen to my breath, with conscious thought totally excised. I don't meditate because I feel I am unhealthy of body or mind. I would probably live just fine without doing it daily. Also I don't meditate for the sake of doing it without a reason. I find, when I practice consistently, I am much more relaxed and aware of my surroundings. I hear new sounds (like the branches at the top of trees gently clashing into each other when the wind blows) or see what usually is passed over (the moon in the sky during the day time). Most importantly, I am more aware of myself, of my body, where parts of it ache, and of my mind, what thoughts I am thinking and to be able to control those thoughts. I can be lost daydreaming but still pull myself back into reality if I chose. Sometimes I notice I am getting bored, so I think of more lively things.

Meditation, on the one hand, is the practice of breathing, because your lungs moving up and down is usually the only physically moving part about you. During the day while immersed in our activities, we don't consciously think of breathing and it's possible we may breath incorrectly. We can actually forget to take full breathes if we are stressed out emotionally or worry.

On the other hand, meditation is supposed to be devoid of consciousness, mental thinking. It is like listening to the ocean ebb and flow or watching the stars, we are lost in the experience of "living" and the feeling of it. Sitting cross legged and listening to my breath coming in, noticing how I feel with the breath, where I ache, whether my mind is clear, I am absorbed in myself.

It is also a learning experience. Humans are complex and deep. When I meditate, I sometimes learn about images I recurrently think about but don't really control. The sounds of a popular song may come across my mind, I may see someone's face flash, disappearing as soon as it appears. When I meditate, I can see what thoughts I think about and learn of anything that bothers me. There is a sea inside all of us that requires exploration. Most of the time, we direct our eye outward and are consumed by the world. Meditation directs our seeing eye inwards. At first it is darkness as our eyes are closed. Then, I believe, there is understanding.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Businessman and the Indian Fisherman

I practice and learn yoga every week. My instructor learned his yoga by going to study in a "seminary" in rural India. While there he was told an interesting story by another student that gives a lot of perspective.

On a sunny day in India, a businessman walks alongside a river and bumps into a fisherman. They greet each other and the businessman notices that the fisherman is reeling in a lot of fish. He is very skillful, the businessman thinks. So the suit asks the fisherman if he wants to know how to become happy? The fisherman ponders a second and says Sure, what do you know? The businessman explains, "You're very good at fishing. How about we start a fish market where you can sell fish. First we'll need to buy land, with money I can lend you. Then you've got to catch more fish and learn how to market the meat. After that, which may take several years, we should have a successful fish store. You'll earn a lot of money and you'll be happy."

The fisherman goes, "How long will this all take?"
Businessman, "About ten years I figure."
Without thinking, the fisherman says, "Why should I do all those things and wait ten years to be happy when I am happy right now?" The businessman ponders this, and does not have an answer.

Before college I could never figure out why people who graduate take on off-the-beaten track jobs like going to China to teach English or volunteering for the PeaceCorp. I thought, someone's gotta do it, but I won't. In college, people move into different folds. Many become lawyers, doctors, finance whizes, and the likes. But are they all doing it because that is what they really want to do? Is the lure of money convoluted with the pursuit of deep happiness and satisfaction? Are some too much drawn towards the attitude of the businessman when we should be more like the Indian fisherman?

Now, I see in college many are not very thrilled with the prospect of work or graduate school. Many are, but some go to law school or Wall Street for the wrong reasons because their parents want them to or there is peer pressure to do so since everyone else is moving in that direction. Like someone said, why save sex for old age? Delaying what we want to do is negotiating with yourself, compromising. Life isn't perfect and no job or post-college occupation is perfect, but the worst thing to happen is not to forget what we want, but to not know whether we are the businessman or the fisherman.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The focusing illusion and New Year's

Hope everyone's Xmas came out well. I came across an interesting paper today. It's about happiness and questions whether people who live in California are really happier than someone who lives in the Midwest (because of a sunnier climate). Turns out, not at all! You can find the paper here.

What the researchers have found is that Midwesterners believe (keyword: believe) Californians live happier lives with better living across many categories: better job prospects, better financial stability, better academic opportunities. Yet, there is virtually no difference in the real level of satisfaction perceived by a Californian and someone from the Midwest. Both groups of people are equally content about their life prospects, jobs, financial situation, academic opportunities, etc. Why?

One explanation is that when people think of their overall satisfaction with life, they don't consider particulars like climate. This brings up the effect called the focusing illusion, where when attention is drawn to the possibility of significant change of lifestyle, the perceived effect of the change by the person is exaggerated.

I live in New Jersey where the weather leaves much to be desired. Should I think, moving to California will make me happier? I think many people believe this to be the case and vote with their feet, but the change in location doesn't change other areas of my life. I may still be heavily in debt. I may be without a job. Moving to California won't erase my debt and probably won't make it much easier to find a job.

One of the most surprising findings is that paraplegics and lottery prize winners show very little difference in life satisfaction compared to a control group of normal folks. Yet, when people are surveyed, the average opinion is always that paraplegics and lotter prize winners will have huge difference in life satisfaction compared to a normal Joe Smith. I would certainly have chosen the average opinion when in reality there is very little difference. It may be we focus on the change itself rather than the actual state of being in those conditions. The change can be good or bad, but we eventually learn to live with it.

To end on a light note, the paper mentions a study where college students were asked two questions. Question A is, "How happy are you?" Question B is, "How many dates did you have last month?" When question A is posed before B is, there was no relationship between the answers. But when question B is asked before A is, there is a correlation of 66%! Contrary to eHarmony ads, single people may be just as happy as those who have significant others. Additionally, to use the concept of a focus illusion, single people who focus on their being single (like a dollar bill, ha!), the prospect of change (of getting a significant other) and the believed positive life change it may bring may be more exaggerated than real. There is a word in the English language called divorce, afterall.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Greetings and a Change

Hello folks, as John is in India right now, I'm stepping in and guest blogging on and off for the next few weeks. A little about me, my name is Howard and like John I go to school in central Jersey and am interested in everything, from atoms to stocks to Mars. Recently, I picked up a new skill that allows me to calculate the day of the week people are born on without having to consult the calendar. It's cool!

Hopefully John is in India by now, his plane took off Friday. When he has the chance to visit an internet cafe over there, you'll hear from him on the other side of the globe. For the forseeable future, I hope to touch upon some of my musings, from meditation and spirituality to Ben Franklin and rainy days. Post some comments, you have the right to speak!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The end remains, but perhaps the guilt should not

There's a certain emptiness in my mind that I get about this time of the year. It's a kin to but distinct to the emptiness I get at the beginning of summer. I suppose it could just be the cold winter reaching it's peak. But I think, with some more certainty it really is in the end the dread of change approaching. The fall semester is over, and now something new is beginning. What that is for me is a matter of trips.

I'm going to India for two weeks and then to California for two weeks, I think I've said all of that before. What is important is that's a big change, but then again then there's a big change in me going back to the spring semester.

And what does it all mean?

Change is a coming I guess, it's a part of human nature, but it's hard once you invest so much into a certain routine, spend so much time trying to master it, and then it's all gone.

I always dream of change, but then when it comes, I have to admit there's a bit of me that's terrified. Not just of what's beyond that change, although that scares me certainly, but it's my role in that new world. And moreover, my utter unpreparedness for this new world, one I simply can't fathom. Well, of course I can have some good idea of the world I'm plunging into, since I've done trips to India and California before and I've certainly done spring semesters before, but things never end up exactly as you expect them and always end up falling apart on you. And then you piece everything together and then that phase ends, and you're sent on to another one, always on and on and on.

(If you're noticing a British-tinge to my writing for a sec. (I'm not sure if this is or is not the case) it's because I'm watching Doctor Who in the meantime while I'm writing)

It's always hardest at the beginning and then right above the end, and then easy at the very end, but then terrifying as the end actually occurs.

But the potential, the potential you get in the changes, it's amazing.

And so I'm dealing with my life, I'm getting through with the changes, I'm passing beyond the end and then further beyond it to all those good old phases to come.

I wonder although, but I wonder if all this constant changes and new phases (well not really constant more occasionally occurring), if I've learned anything from all of it (well I suppose I've learned everything from the changes in my life), and I wonder if I've learned to deal with these new phases any better.

Perhaps if anything, if anything I've learned lately (I mean over time I've learned stuff, etc. about dealing with problems), I've learned finally perhaps to leave old matters be, allow myself to move on from the old phases without being consumed by the legacies of guilt which make me mess up in the future, sending more guilt and more, infinitely. But I've been trying to learn to put that stuff aside once the guilt is done, and I think I've been getting better at it. I think I've finally learned that when you mess up, once it's done, it's done, and obsessing over it isn't going to help me.

But really, every now and then, I'm feeling a guilt about not feeling guilty, but I suppose then, it's just a matter of remnants. Of course there is some just guilt and I by no means have been cured of guilt and I think, I think I have plenty to be over the top of the just guilt. But I feel like, almost I ought to feel pain when I do something wrong, that I should carry a pain for every mistake that never goes away. But if God can forgive me, than why can't I forgive myself? What good does all that eternal pain do me, especially if it all just serves to make me mess up further and further again and again, infinitely.

Ah, but infinity is a long time.

But then again, I'm Rand the Mighty and Glorious.

And so perhaps, perhaps it is time to let go of the guilt, for there are all those new worlds waiting to be explored and I'd like to be a little light on my feet without the weight of the ages.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Can't say I'm greatly happy with my more recent posts, but I can't say I've been happy with the necessity for intensive studies for finals. But that'll be over soon, and hopefully my sessions will improve after that's all done then, but after that I might be busy with trips and such. Oh well, such is the way of the world. In the longer course of things I need to develop a greater discipline in writing and do on-time quality sessions without fail (perhaps for multiple webposts) and then bonus it all with a page or more of drafting for some stories and such. But if I'm aways from that goal, I'm trying to get closer and I think I am bit by bit. Perhaps, maybe, we'll see I suppose and all.

Well, one final done and one to go. I have to say I'm not greatly impressed with my performance on my Number Theory final. It was a ton to remember but with at least one of my errors I should have been able to remember if not exactly what to do for the proof the general methodology that would have led me to the right answer. Not that most of you will be caring terribly about the details, but I'd say I probably are going to get around a 85, but my range could go from a 70-90, or beyond. As for the course itself B probably, but overall a total range of F-A. It really depends on how much my missed homeworks hurt me (to be honest I've asked for some consideration on the matter, it has been a long semester with emotions/mental health and all and I think overall I probably deserve some consideration for the matter, although I'm always unsure if I truly deserve any of the breaks I get for my mental health problems).

But that's that.

And so I might get through all this and I might not.

But really, as it goes, school isn't the deciding factor of how I'm going to get through my life.

Then what is school really?

Well, as I've said before, I've always thought of school as a matter of a game (well, no I haven't always thought about it like that, but that's how I'm trying to think about it nowadays).

And now I've actually thought up a justification for that impression.

Alright, where else but school and games do you do a combination of easy, tedious, and mind-blowingly difficult tasks that have little to no impact on the real world even though there is a reward (although the reward is pretty damn valuable, and so the game is worth some importance and highly worth seizing in oppotunity talk) at the end of the contest.

Thus school = game.

Think about it.

Anyways, still insanely busy with school.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Monday, December 17, 2007

All around the world

All around the world I'm going, actually not so much. Right now I'm still in New Brunswick, where I've been for the greater part of the last 3 and 1/2 years, and any real true moving is going to have to wait for graduation. But as a little consolation I most likely will be spending the next 2 weeks in India and then the two weeks after than in Cali.

But perhaps more traveling like for the last while or so I've been traveling the web. The idea, or at least part of the idea is to get a good sense of what's up there and get more methods of spreading my reputation and general awesomeness. But this has all been a half-efforted effort largely since I've been busy with the whole schoolness and general busyness. There's still so much to look for and so much to find. But such is the way of the world.

I've put under my links some of the cooler stuff overall I've found, but I thought I'd elaborate a bit on the matter.

The Becker-Posner Webpost
Quite the impressive credentials on this one. Two noble prize-winning economists, writing about random political/social/economic issues from a certainly economist point of view. They are sort of conservative overall, but it's a conservativism born from the idea that many conservative positions lead to a better world. For example, both of them favor overall lower taxes, but high taxes for the ultra-mega-super rich. The question for them isn't necessarily fairness (although they sometimes factor that in), but whether it makes sense, mostly from a utilitarian point of view. Of course as two very different people they have different opinions of things and matters, for example on nationalism and such. But overall, they got a lot of interesting stuff to say from airline quality to giant pigs (no actually they don't talk about giant pigs, actually to stuff like climate change).

Dealing in Subterfuges: Jordan Baker
Alright main reason I checked out her webpost is the fact that she uses a character from The Great Gatsby as her name. As far as I can tell she's a professor and a woman and an overall cool person. She talks about baseball, life and womanness (not actually pretentiously), which makes it a bit interesting for me. I javascript:void(0)
Publish Postcan't say I know that much about women, and actually I can't really say that reading her stuff actually makes me know more about women, but her posts are always a fun read and she usually gets some nice talk-back too.

Rantings of a Sandmonkey
Now this guy is a Egyptian dissident, and while that might so highly serious and such and while he talks about some immensely serious matters sometimes. He also a pretty crazy cool guy who talks kind of like an idiot, kind of like a cool guy, kind of smart, kind of dumb, but overall worth giving a try.

Rocket Stocks
This crazy guy, this crazy guy, this crazy guy, well he's my bro. And his bud, but he writes a lot about getting free money and such all from a computer/rocket scientist/engineer point of view and does all sorts of crazy stuff, although right now all his writing is all about that old financial management which is good and all for money and such.

What's Alan Watching
The smart tv man, with tons and tons of stuff that's good to read. Never better an analysis of tv shows with an encyclopedia of knowledge and lots of cool stuff to read.

So all good stuff eh?

But there's so many odd and interesting edges in the world, ah and there's so much exploring left to do.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Putting the f-ing fun back into Rand F-ing Awesome McRanderson

And so...

I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation
You're living in the past it's a new generation
A girl can do what she wants to do and that's
(well a guy can do what he wants to, and despite my girlie-ish interests I am a guy)
What I'm gonna do
An' I don't give a damn ' bout my bad reputation
(Screw you bummy reputation creators!!!!)

Oh no not me
(Damn straight!!!)

I'm a bit lazy to do the whole song (especially since the lyrics are a bit repetitive (but hey, punk's punk dude!!!)), but I just wanted all of you to know:


(even though I don't really have a bad reputation (despite my scruffy beard which gives me a semi-evil appearance))

Here's the full lyrics for Bad Reputation. (it's on a Joan Jett site, and despite the fact it was made by Thin Lizzy, Joan Jett rocks, so I'm sticking with her for most of this stuff)

Here's Joan Jett's video.

Because I'm a tv freak, here's the opening to Freaks and Geeks that uses Bad Reputation

And just because I'm an anime freak, here's an AMV with Digimon (the 3rd series)

And so, class, while I'm not recommending reckless anti-everythingness which is usually about making a reputation with the counterculture, I want you to remember not to give a damn about your bad reputation.

Also remember to have a whole lot of fun as this song is!!!!

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Goodnight Folks!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just to start some controversy

I think overall I've been relatively uncontroversial in my ideas. So I thought I'd throw something out there, and leave it out there for people to look at and maybe get angry at and I'll explain it later.

While I believe that embracing the ideal of love is probably the most important guide to salvation, I believe different churches rank as different value in their ability to guide people to salvation.

Here's my ranking of religions (this says nothing about the people who belong to these religions, or the fact that all these religions are valid belief systems, but rather it's a matter of my philosophical and religious agreement with the religions):

Christianity > Judaism > Islam > Sikhism > Hinduism > Buddhism > Agnosticism > Atheism > White power churches

Within Christianity, I have another ranking system:

Catholicism > Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox > Protestants > Mormonism/Jehovah's Witnesses

Now there are a lot of other religions out there, they tend to fit somewhere on my scale but almost all are above Atheism except those that are explicitly based on hate like the White power churches.

I'm a devout Roman Catholic, but I'm not one casually. I believe that while you should take in your parents' religion and the religion of those you look up to as a kid, at a certain age (probably starting around 7 (the age of reason by Roman Catholic standards when you start understanding the rituals that you do) and intensifying around 13 (when a lot of kids get Confirmed)) you have to really start looking at your religion. Now I don't mean throwing away your previous beliefs with no reason. After all, since you have motivations to do things in life you always have some beliefs, even if they're implicit, so why not start out with some explicit beliefs that you can actually examine and mold. What I'm really trying to say is you look at your beliefs, find contradictions, see if you can resolve them, if you can't discard one of the beliefs that caused the contradictions. Then you extend the beliefs to create new conclusions, again this will generate contradictions. Then you look at the beliefs that form the core of your beliefs, again this process will generate contradictions: resolve them. Finally you take the sum of that whole matter and decide what is the best course for you religiously.

I say this not with the idea that everyone should develop a complete religious philosophy all by themselves. Look, when you're having trouble with a math problem, what do you do? You consult a math textbook. But what if there are different schools of thought about that mathematics problem? You find an expert in math who you trust and respect. Math actually has a lot to do with religion since they're both based on axioms (basic beliefs) extended by logic (for those of you who scoff, I'd like to point out nearly all of modern logic is based on the work of the Catholic Church (CATHOLICS RULE! WOOOOOO!), and at this moment theologians are pouring over religious texts and applying the logic to explicate them). A lot of religious topics are hard to understand, don't be afraid to take guidance from people you respect and trust. Still you have to see if the commitment you make to a religion agrees with your basic beliefs and the ideas that you were able to work out. Moreover, if you have the time, look through and analyze the beliefs of the religion you adopt, and also others if you have more time. Of course, it could be you can't find any organized religion that agrees with your basic beliefs, I'd probably argue that's a flaw in your basic beliefs, but that's a philosophical matter in which I acknowledge that many rational, thoughtful people can come to different conclusions, and then you would have to take no organized religion.

Well, I sort of went back on my I'm not going to explain this rule. And to go back on it even further, I'd like to throw in a session I did earlier explaining some of my religious thoughts (most notably my problems with reincarnation and Buddhism). But I'm not going to explain everything (although you might have noticed that the religions I hold in higher esteem are those that are closer to Christianity, and the denominations of Christianity I hold in greater esteem are those that are closer to Roman Catholicism, but still there are additional reasons for my rankingology). Still I think this is enough to start some controversy.

Get mad or get Catholic! Come on!

Friday, December 14, 2007

How I learned to stop worrying and love poker addendum

So since I love poker, I've got to, I've got to say I watch poker. And so as the matter is I don't watch poker as much as I used to, partially because I got stuck in re-runs of games over and over again. However, but I have players I like better and players I like less, and because I love the game I like to see those who love their game as well (that's why it's always a little painful to watch Phil Helmut, he looks miserable while playing). So here's some of my favorite players.

Phil Gordan

Jackie Chan

Daniel Negreanu

Gamblor's complaint or How I learned to stop worrying and love poker

I do love poker. Am I good at it? Well, I've addressed that question in my session "There's a reason why they call it a gutshot" and a session before that called "Playing your hands as the hands blaze". Basically, overall I've concluded I'm a mid-range player at least right now. I won't go into a full analysis of that sentence because as I've said I've done two sessions about that already. It's possible for a middling player not to lose that much money. The key probably would be when you hit a high note on a hand, just hold on until you can cash out. But that's not my style. Even in cash games I tend to play until the end or until time forces me to leave. An alternative strategy is not to play people who are better than you, but I tend to play whoever I can get. It doesn't matter. I'd like to some day be capable of winning money consistently but when I play poker I tend to play not to win money but to win games. But actually I can't even claim that happens much, honesty really I play not even to win but just for love of the game.

Poker in the end to me is a game more than it is gaming (heh, heh, you get it?) And it's a game I love. It's a game of skill surely. There's a real probability angle to it that some of my friends excel at. Off the top of their heads they can quote you the odds of any hand. There's also a people person skill to it. On the one hand you have to read your opponent, on the other hand you have to be read. Now you can try to throw your opponent off with misinformation, but heck they can do the same to you. And of course there's luck. Even the best players can be beat on the river. But I've always also seen it as a game of strategy where you surely but slowly try to knock everyone else out.

Still that doesn't give a real picture of the game. The viseral thrill of gambling is part of its appeal, but not most of it. The real core of the game, is the focus. You draw your entire self into the game, you fill your mind with analysis of every factor knowing you're leaving something out, the people who surround you become the entirety of society, and every hand becomes a lifetime. And then your win becomes a perfect victory, and then a loss becomes a tragic loss. Every commitment to a hand is a rollercoaster and a damn scary one at that.

But does that capture the game? No, not really. So what is the game? What makes it special?

It's poker damn it, and that's good enough for me.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

The Savagely Long Night of ___________________

(I previously had this post using my full name, but because of the whole companies searching for my name to check me out and then reacting badly to the medical/mental stuff here, I had to take it out. It sucks, it's not how things, but F-ing A-, that's the way the world is.)

I was a little iffy on using this title after using The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari for a previous post and I was also worried that it would sound too whiny but now that I see it I'm pretty satisfied with it. I think the key to using the title was using the word "Savagely" and my full name (I'm not sure if most of you have ever seen my middle name Zacheriah, it's actually sounded out something like Zuck-er-ee-ah and for a long time I didn't know how to spell or pronounce it, but it's still a nice name (it belonged to my maternal grandfather, although he spelled it differently, in a more confusing way that was part of the reason I had so much trouble remembering the real spelling)).

Anyways, I meant to write this yesterday, but I was incredibly sleepy and so I went to sleep at 9 and woke up at 9:30. I say that to reflect how savagely long the nights of this last week have actually been. Essentially all the days and nights of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning-evening merged into one night. I had 3 final projects and I ended up sleeping never more than 5 hours a night with the sleeping being designed as more like naps between work. My eating was severely curtailed as I didn't want to leave my room to stop working, usually I only ate tons of junk food from the vending machines. I showered rarely, brushed rarely, and overall stretched my physical and actually also mental health until it nearly snapped. But that's over now. You can enter into a work-focused state like that every now and then, but if you want to avoid snappage eventually you need to stop.

But once again, now that's done, well for now. I still have two finals, and they will require mad amounts of studying, but that shouldn't be insanely stressful.

So now WINTER BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Long Day's Night

So today I'm probably going to get little to no sleep. However, I'm feeling decently awake enough so that I think I can make it through most of the night. Because, well, chances are I'm going to have to make it through most of the night. A 10-12 page paper analyzing 3 films doesn't write itself (unless...).

So this is the last piece of the first part of my finals' period. The first part is the final papers part, while I prefer final papers do to my creative bent, also due to the fact that I think they're a better measure of knowledge and I usually do well on them, it is usually this period that is the more stressful part. The reason for that is that studying for an exam you feel some pressure, but not an urgent, I need to finish pressure, since you're just going over material that you know chances are you can never master completely, but which you are getting better at with every run over. But there is no I need to do this, this and this, with studying, and there is usually no creative, I need to figure out how to do this, pressure with studying (unless you have no clue about a part of the subject matter and you don't have time to ask anybody about it (tip to other students and prospective college/high school students, when you're having trouble with material ask people about it, don't let pride, fear or laziness get in the way, it is infinitely helpful academic-wise to ask people questions about what you're having trouble on, and it also helps to build relationships (I wish I had asked more questions of people this and every other semester, well, something to work on for next semester)).

But with the first part of the finals' period, the final projects section, you've got a long period of pressure building to the deadline. An exam is in the end only a few hours of intense work, final projects can give days of mind-numbing pressure, and not just of the exhaustive I have lots of work kind, but also of the mind crushing creative pressure kind. And of course all of this brings up physical illness, mental illness, and there are other matters which weigh on you.

Basically it ends up an endurance test, which every semester I pass with mixed results. Usually I'm able to do well with all the projects but every now and then one of the projects suffers greatly. This semester I think all of the projects have mixed success, maybe getting a B-A range. But I still got one left and so I still got more truckin' to do.

And so what does it end up with?

Well, I'm still in that endurance test, struggling to avoid collapse until I can finish my projects and get a momentary release (of course then I have the second part of my finals, which is to say the actual final tests, and that should be intensely difficult but not nearly as stressful especially since there are only 2 tests). Right now, I've been undermining my health with junk food, tons of soda, no sleep, I've been undermining my hygine with few showers and reusing clothes, I've been neglecting projects, neglecting social contacts, neglecting this webpost. I've been on and off insane, which has horribly damaged my efforts (several days I've found myself unable to work despite a desperate need to). Besides all that I'm adjusting to new meds and seesawing back and forth between focusedness and mindless drifting.

And yet this is life, or at least a part of it. On the other hand, it's not all of it. I'm not in that bad shape mentally or physically that I can't take it. Or say I am, well, with God's help I'll persevere.

And that's what these tough times are all about, persevering, breaking through to the other side. Just make sure there's an other side to beak through to.

Anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

There's a reason why they call it a gutshot

It's easy to be seduced by the gutshot straight draw (for you non-poker players out there that's when you have all but one of the cards for a straight, but you're missing one in the middle, thus there's only one (although perhaps in several suits) card that can complete your straight, but if you get that straight you can beat any pair or any two pair). It makes for an immensely dramatic win of course, but it's actually pretty rarely satisfied. And yet it's so easy to go all in on it, just hoping for a spectacularly lucky fall of the cards that'll give you a legendary win.

But you can't depend on legends.

I think perhaps one of my problems in my poker playing is a matter of lust. A lust for that suddenly, utterly perfect win. But perfect wins are rare. You need to make do with imperfect, stuttering victories that sometimes just scrape the bottom. You can't depend on legends.

On the other hand, you can't be afraid of the cards either. You can't expect to lose whenever you let someone into the hand. You have to be willing to risk a loss sometimes, so you can take in a greater win. You can't let a lust for an easy victory undermine the greater more difficult one.

I think those two demons of lust are what undermine my poker playing. While keeping them in mind will deflate them, the ultimate cure of this dilemma is just playing through them until they are defeated. Because in the end, someone who lusts after poker will be destroyed by that, but one who carries a simple love of the game will be enriched by it, even if he never wins a pot (although chances are he will win more often as well).

So that's my thoughts about that. Sorry that my posting's going to have to be scarce over the next couple days (most likely), but school's a drool and I've got to be going at it.

So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Rand Show #6

The Rand Show #5

The Rand Show #4

The Rand Show #3

The Rand Show #2

The Rand Show #1

I know I already posted this but I thought I'd post it again

I could say that I'm sorry, and I am, but you're still bums

So yeah, I have to say, sorry. A good deal of it was a matter of me being insanely busy, a bit of me being insane, and a bit of yada, yada, yada,
you get the drill, but as a bonus, I've got you all a bit of my comics genius.

Don't you all just love me?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

And my brain's still bleeding

There's work and there's work. And there's sometimes there's well, then sometimes there's just the Rand Show.

And yet my brain's still bleeding. Largely because this day has been (and given I still have a number of things to do, is continuing to be) another intense chapter of an intense week.

Low sleep + lot's of thinking (Number Theory isn't for the faint of brain, unless they're too stubborn to realize they're faint of brain) + lots of projects (I got all these nice little plans for my projects all laid out, and now they're going to horribly collapse once I start to implement them) + career thinking (careers, careers, careers, and braziers) + More Johnny means More Better = my brain, my brain, it bleeds!!!

But, despite things being intense, I'm finding surprisingly that work's getting done at a decent clip. The question is whether I can maintain it at this clip. And the answer to that would be no. I've already been missing far too much sleep, spending far too little time with my friends and family, and adding to a dangerous stress potential that could explode at any moment (by this I mean while I'm not stressed out right now, if I didn't reassure myself that the situation was doable I would be immensely, explosively stressed). That said, I should be able to get a leet beet of time to relax in about a week. That also said, I also am going to have to be studying hard for my finals (although compared to the amount of work I'm juggling now that should not be (but it could be) a problem). Those two things said, my mostly open finals period should give me some time to hang with my buds which should be immensely relaxing (hopefully), and with all of that said I must reveal the deep dark secret:

I'm going to India.

Actually only for two weeks, which is a relatively short trip. But then it's off to California for two weeks. And all you loyal readers will be going waaaah, waah, waah (you know you will be). And I'm just going to have to try to post when I can, or maybe, just maybe I might be able to get a fill-in poster, but my previous attempts to acquire such an individual have been unsuccessful.

It's strange being busy. For most of my life, doing one thing that was not school-related was a full day. Doing two things not school related, now that was a busy day. Laziness, fear of failure, yammering complaints, all them were keeping me down (and not down in the d-town). But here I am, actually busy. Weird.

I tend to surprise myself that I often rise to the occasion when needed. That's not to brag because the occasion is usually my own fault. But it is a little bit of comfort. And it is a hope, because there will surely be occasions in the future and almost certainly one of those occasions will kill me, after all we all need to go sometime.

But hopefully, even that occasion I can rise to, and hopefully I can lie on my death bed with my fear overwhelmed by hope, love and faith.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Where I go I just don't know, I might end up somewhere in Mexico

I can't say things are going bad, and I can't say I'm mad but I can't help but be a leetle beet sad.

Ah maybe that's overstating things, and maybe it's just a matter of my usual nightly depression slump. But still my mind turns to that old Red Hot Chilli peppers song referenced in the title. I suppose it's a matter of the timing of a bunch of stressful things starting to come together after a period of relative relaxation. This is something that can't really be avoided since a period of time either has a largish number of stressful items or a smallish number of stressful items and it's hard to maintain things so that it's constantly one or the other.

But I can't help but feel a little scared. Because right now my life could become so much better, if I just play my cards right. But I suppose... well if I'm honest with myself, my life's not that bad right now, especially if I take my meds and put some hard work on keeping my mind intact. And so any bonus to my life would just add to the good, so no matter how little I actually get of the opportunities to make my life better, it'll still probably be fine.

Yeah, I think I'm going to be fine.

Afterall, I've got God on my side.

Anyways, for a bonus for my faithful readers (especially since I didn't post yesterday and am posting rather late today) (although how many of you are actually faithful to me, really?) I'm giving you some bits from a bio I did for work.

1. I'm currently enrolled at Rutgers University, although I will graduate in May 2008 and I am not planning on grad school. I am a History major with a Math and Computer Science minor.

2. Teaching SAT review (least for the Princeton Review (this is a webpost-only comment not actually part of the bio I sent them)) is a well-paying job with a flexible schedule which has allowed me to interact with fun people, both co-workers and students, in an easy-going environment. But also important to me is the fact that I can get a sense of satisfaction from helping my students improve their SAT scores. It's nice to feel like you might have helped a kid get into a better school or maybe even helped a student get a scholarship.

3. I dream of being able to write for a new Star Trek series, and I believe Jean-Luc Picard is the best captain of the Enterprise.

4. While I was born in Minnesota, my parents come from Kerala, a state on the southern tip of India. It is a gorgeous area with a climate actually similar to a rain forest and if you know where to go you can find elephants, monkeys, snakes, and even an occasional mongoose. I try to visit my parents' areas every couple years to stay in touch with relatives especially my grandmother.

5. I like to write in my spare time, mostly short stories and a blog. I try to read a good deal and I enjoy watching tv and movies. I also enjoy biking and playing poker. I am also an avid fan of sleeping.

And here's a photo of yours truly: (ain't I gorgeous?)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday morning's alright for posting

Welcome to a special Saturday morning edition (I mean morning only loosely since it was around 11 AM when I started this and it is undoubtably after noon when this is actually going up (and you foreign folks have completely different time zones to boot)) of the Rand Show!

(I've always had mixed feelings about calling this the Rand Show in the post itself, I feel it takes away a bit of the personal feel of the webpost, but on the other hand it gives the whole thing an aura of coolness and a more professional feel, ah the constant war between professionalism and personalism, when will we all just learn to get along?)

For those of you in the know, the session's title is a reference to Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting (in addition to linking you up to the lyrics via the title, I'm also hitting you up a video on youTube (why? Because I'm just too awesome (also it's a pretty cool song)). By the way, booh-ya to my little bro's awesomeness with his academics and SAT's. Not only is it good for him but it's one more person I can leech off of when I'm a crazy unemployed writer. Also shout out to my little sis and her mad nursing-student skills.

(That leads me to a little thought about the WGA (Writer's Guild of America, the union for Hollywood writers, excluding reality shows and animated shows, but including game shows and talk shows) strike that I've been trying to get in but haven't found a good place for it:

I'm of two minds when it comes to this strike, on the one hand, it seems like it's mainly for the benefit of employed writers or writers who regularly have jobs, who are actually doing immensely well (better than the national average or even median), while 1/2 of the current union members are unemployed (although the striker's points, like residuals do benefit unemployed workers who once had jobs, I'm unsure how much it'll help people who have had very few and minor jobs who are breaking into the business, who I think are a significant minority if not the majority of the guild), when you have a situation like that it seems like you need to lessen salary demands to allow for more employment, so in that sense I'm against the strike. But on the other hand, it makes some sense for the writer's contracts to be adjusted for new technologies like downloading, and I realize this might prompt a massive renegotiation with other guilds, like the actor's guild and the director's guild, these renegotiations again make sense with new tech. So those are my thoughts on the matter, do with them what you will).

If you've noticed that this session seems unfocused, well I'm okay with that. I know I've sometimes chastised myself for bad sessions before which have often been unfocused but usually the problem with those is they were unfocused on topics that were lame or explored lamely and/or they were supposed to be focused but ended up not being focused.

A tendency of mine with unfocused sessions is to concentrate solely on stuff I'm doing for my webpost. I'm trying not to do a sole focus on that, but I tend to follow the wandering of my thoughts when I'm unfocused and as I'm working on my webpost, my thoughts often turn to that. So I'll try not to be exclusively me/webpost focused here (I'm thinking it might kind of late to talk about this since I'm already several paragraphs in). But on the matter of the webpost, you're all bums for not adding comments, but it might just be that's because there are so few of you.

I've often sat weary wondering whether to continue this, but my mind has always been cheered up by the idea that I have many viewers, however after carefully examining my sitemeter account I'm more skeptical. I'm hesitant to actually blame Sitemeter since most likely I simply have been using it badly, but before when I looked at it I assumed that the visit count did not include me, however... well, that significantly chops my visit count down and it also means my visit length statistic (which I'm really not sure how it works since when I examine the details of it, almost everyone comes up as visiting for 0:00, when at least some of them I know should be higher) is inflated by my own staring at my greatness. Overall, I'm concluding that I'm not sure how Sitemeter works and need to take its statistics with a grain of salt, but overall it indicates that not that many people are visiting my blogspot account. On the brighter side I still seem to get a high view count from my MySpace account, but I was hoping that I could one day discontinue that, but it seems that's not the case. So, in conclusion, I really don't know how many people read my webpost, but it's most likely some but not that many (also, according to Sitemeter, which again I'm not sure if I'm reading it right, I apparently have readers in India, Argentina, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Estonia, again I'm not sure how many of those may have simply just visited for five seconds, but a shoutout to my foreign readers!)

Enough shop-talk, well, almost enough shop-talk. I'm hoping that once my finals are over, I can start pumping this site up via more links, getting more into the webpost community, getting into the youTube community, and good old-fashioned commercialism. For those of you that hate commercialism in any way shape or form, let me say first of all, I'm almost certainly not going to change what I'm writing to fit a commercial generating mold, by commercialism I mainly mean I'm going to try to get money from this webpost (and hopefully pump some of that money into improving my much-neglected website and this webpost itself). If I do make any changes for commercial reasons, the only thing I might do is narrow this webpost's focus to fit into a specialized niche, but that's a big MIGHT, and would almost be a probably not.

But let me hit up commercialism for a sec. I might do a full session on this later on, but I want to give a little defense of commercialism. First, let me refer you to Jimmy James' brilliant defense of advertising. Second, let me say that commercialism can be bad when it means that artists reduce the quality of their work to make cash or please their financiers. However, if extra cash allows artists to keep on producing great work, than that isn't a problem, heck, even if the commercialism dictates the general direction of the artists work that doesn't mean the stuff is bad. After all, it was commercial interests that drove the production of tv shows derived from toys and while I'll freely admit many of those shows were bad, and many were dumbed down (less for the sake of the toys than for the low expectations of tv producers about kids), we still got awesome shows like Transformers, GI Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (although this actually originated with self-produced rather indie comic books, but I think the funding for the TV show was largely based on toys sale expectations), and even Neon Genesis Evangelion! I could go on on this topic, but I'm not going to since this whole post is getting immense. So just let me say, if I do get commercial on you guys, don't expect any less awesomeness, because that's just not how I roll.

Anywho, like I said this session is getting massive, and since it is unfocused I can't really justify any more massiveness, thus I'm going to wrap things up and if you're really lucky (and if you're all good boys and girls) I might make another session later tonight, or maybe even do a rare Sunday session. So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sometimes you need to go where everyone has a gun or my Arsenal review

Don't you need to go where everyone has a gun? ie, the Arsenal!

And so I watched Arsenal (I posted up the movie in parts in a previous session). Weird, stirring, long, meandering, epic, more adjectives stuff, it really is. The movie traces the full course (well most of the full course) of the Russian Civil War in Ukraine (I don't want to imply that Ukraine is part of Russia, but I don't have a good term for the action in Ukraine and in many ways it was an extension of what was going on in Russia, so I'm sticking with that terminology), it starts with the ending period of World War I, when all of Ukraine was devastated (really stark imagery in that), going to the establishment of the Ukrainian People's Republic (it was a short lived government that was German and later US/UK/France/Poland backed), moving on to the raging war between the White Russian Army and Ukrainian forces and finally to engagements between the White Russian Army and the Ukrainian Bolshevik Army. It doesn't quite get to the end where the Bolsheviks are triumphant but instead shows the triumphant Ukrainian Bolshevik spirit (I'm not endorsing here Bolshevism, I actually hate Communism quite immensely, but I'm just trying to give you a sense of the movie).

This movie is quite the mixed bag. It has been called a classic and I can see how people can look at it as one. It has amazing use of montage at times that juxaposes vivid images, creating immense emotional reactions. It also has immense symbolism to its scenes which are sometimes painstakingly crafted. Even some of the long takes which just dwell on scenes of men without legs or mothers who lost their children are heart breaking. In addition, as a historical document it is a fascinating as a document of the Bolsheviks defending their crushing of Ukrainian nationalism. As a piece of film theory it reflects early Russian theories of montage, of agi-film (agitation films), of semi-plotlessness and of semi-herolessness (for another good example of all this film theory stuff (an example I'll be citing), check out Battleship Potemkin). However, I can't say I'm thrilled with movie. It has many brilliant pieces. The best is probably when a soldier is hit by laughing gas (I don't think laughing gas was actually used in World War I (although mustard gas was), but I suppose its symbolic of the insanity of war as the soldier laughs at the corpses of his comrades) and an opposing soldier looks at him, and throws down his gun asking "Where is the enemy?" and then, as montage flashes with other scenes, the questioning soldier's commanding officer comes up behind him, orders him to pick up his gun, and finally shoots the soldier who refused to fight. There are several other moments like this where the film seems brilliant.

And yet, there lacks a force to string it together. The film lacks narrative tension. The plot is often absent, and when present it is stretched out far too long. Unlike Battleship Potemkin, which also stretches out a simple plot, the montage is too slow in many scenes (although there are scenes with quick cutting) and is too focused on exposition to provide visual tension. Perhaps the problem is that the film wants to do too much. It wants to explain the revolutionary cause, it wants to denounce Ukrainian nationalists, I think it even takes a symbolic swipe at Ukrainian anarchists. And it goes across a significant number of events without any developing any character (although there is a sort of main character he is largely blank except for his symbolic credentials as the Ukrainian worker) or even a sense of character in the masses (as Battleship Potemkin in some ways does (especially in the specialized mass of the battleship)) to personalize the events. Maybe I'm just not used to this type of film, maybe it's just because I watched the film in pieces on youTube (I know that sounds bad, but I watched them back to back and I think overall it didn't have too big of an effect), but I couldn't find any driving force between the moments of brilliance this film offered. Without some tension pulling me through the movie, I couldn't fully connect with it on an emotional or intellectual level.

I'm overall glad I watched this movie, and I can see how some people could absolutely love it, but I can't really recommend it. On the other hand, I can't not recommend it. If I had to rate it (and I do because I want to and I AM RAND) I'd give it a 6 out of 10. Maybe I'm being cruel to a classic, but if that's the case, well, sometimes you just got to seize the arsenal.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!


So here's a film I stumbled upon solely because of my film project. I don't know that much about it really, except that it's a film from 1928 about the Russian Civil War (still early enough to have some first person perspective) and according to its Wikipedia article it's somewhat ambivalent about the Soviets, maybe. Apparently the director is famous as well, I can't really say from my own knowledge if this is a true fact since I am not a film expert but only an amateur. But if I do use it I'll watch it and maybe do a review too. But anyways for any who want to watch it here are the links:
Arsenal, Part 1
Arsenal, Part 2
Arsenal, Part 3
Arsenal, Part 4
Arsenal, Part 5
Arsenal, Part 6
Arsenal, Part 7
Arsenal, Part 8

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Battleship Potemkin

I could say a lot about Battleship Potemkin. But a lot has been said, and said better in a lot of different places. Put aside for a second the fact that Communism's a repulsive ideology and just enjoy the technical mastery of this film and its immense emotional effect. It's a landmark in film history especially in regards to montage technique and the career of legendary director Sergei Eisenstein, but it's also damn cool, so here's a link.

Battleship Potemkin: The movie

Aelita, Queen of Mars

A Soviet Sci-Fi Epic. A man goes to Mars, befriends its queen and helps its workers. Its plot has definite propaganda elements, but it still sounds pretty cool. Besides it was made in 1924 and for that early a sci-fi plot like that is pretty damn cool. Aelita's Wikipedia article claims that it inspired a lot of future sci-fi movies, and while I'm skeptical of some of its claims (the article claims it inspired Metropolis, and that's a pretty big claim), it's age probably means it inspired some stuff. If I have enough time I'll watch it, and I might watch it as part of my Russian film project, but I thought I'd like up some places to get the film for all you good people out there in internet land.

(Also of note for any Code Lyoko friends, notice that the name is the same as Code Lyoko's female lead. She too is queen of a foreign world. Coincidence? Probably not, but maybe it is a coincidence, either way=cool)

Aelita, Part 1
Aelita, Part 2
Aelita, Part 3
Aelita, Part 4
Aelita, Part 5
Aelita, Part 6
Aelita, Part 7
Aelita, Part 8
Aelita, Part 9

First 8 parts are about 9 minutes, last part is about 4 minutes, so altogether a 76-84 minute viewing experience. Not that long. But it between being great, being crazy, and doing work, ah, it's hard to find time for the movies.

One hand might wash the other but who washes the arms?

The hands of course. When I thought of that phrase, it had such a faux profound sense to it, but now that I realize it has such a simple answer. Well, I suppose that just emphasizes the faux in the faux profound.

Greetings y'all, and welcome to another session of the Rand Show. Should I open things like that always? I've always been of mixed feelings about a standardized opener. On the one hand, it's cool, it builds the brand, and it gives a feeling of greater consistency. On the other hand, often my thoughts flow directly from the title, or just directly from my head and I don't want to interrupt things for an opener. Oh, choices, choices. Of course I could try the opener and on and off for a while.

Ah experimentation, something, something, something or other.

I got to say I've been a bit lazy with my phrases lazy. But perhaps that's just because I've been feeling a bit unwell.

"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell, I know right now you can't tell"

(On a stylistic note, I wonder if any of you have noticed my increased use of links. Part of this is simply the fact that more links helps search engines find webpages, but also I think this helps break up the visual monotony of the reading lots of words on the computer and the conceptual monotony of just having words in front of you)

In a recent session I thought I had located the prime source of my feeling unwell (perhaps that's the wrong word for it, I'm at least feeling a little bit off). My analysis was it was because of fear of bad things happening and anxiety over me doing not enough good. I'm not saying that's wrong, but it's not I think the full case. There's still something off inside me and I'm not sure what.

But perhaps that's just something I need to live with. I've often stated that people can never fully understand my mind, and maybe it's time for me to start relaxing a little about that fact. Perhaps it's okay to live in a world where I can't know every little bit of my thoughts. Perhaps, blah, blah, blah.

I think I've hit up that subject well enough.

Moving on to other matters, I'm planning to post up some sessions with linked up versions of Russian films. Why? Because I'm doing some research into old quality Russian films and I think it's pretty cool that they're available on the web and so I'll be posting them up.

In other news, I've got a lot of work to do and so I should be moving on to doing it.

That's about it for now. So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Awesomeness always returns

And so I am back. After several days of weak and sporadic sessions I have returned to give meaning to your bummy lives. All hail the returning Rand!!! And so on.

Well, it has been a nice Thanksgiving break, but now life must resume, or else, well, things aren't good then. But anyways,

Zoonga, zoonga, zoonga.

Bet you weren't expecting that! (Or if you had been paying attention to my previous sessions and had noticed my tendency to break up ponderous, incomplete, overly serious thought with odd-sounding nonsense, you might have been expecting that, and that is why the bet I mad was a gentleman's one, I know you people are probably not gentlemen but I am willing to be merciful.)

Anywho, it's strange (as I've remarked several times over and over again to various people until their heads want to explode), after that break I'm starting to feel the pressures of school and personal work, as well as future prospects and plans begin to impose themselves on me. In my pre-Thanksgiving session I commented on how vacation from school does not equal vacation from my personal work, yet honestly I pretty much did take a vacation from personal work (and I extended my vacation from school work to the extend of semi-falling behind). And so now I'm honestly finding it a bit tricky falling back into the tap of things, like getting back into the posting schedule and such (for a little while I was in a nice posting schedule where I was posting every day at a morningish time (I think (although don't quote me on this) that my views increase when I post early)), but more badishly I find some old feelings rising up (I see a bad moon rising).

I mentioned a while ago that I was done with my most recent crisis but that after a number of highly wah-wah sessions I didn't want to cap it off with even more extra super more wah-wah. But since y'all have had the intervening days of the Thanksgiving break + a little more let me chat a little 'bout it all. And by chat I mean say this:

I think a lot of my problems come from my impending, overwhelming desire to change/save/rule the world and my constant belief I'm not doing enough by that. It's aggravating, every day bad things happen. Whether you believe the world's getting better or worse (I tend to believe neither exactly, try to figure out how history's going is the easy path to madness), bad things will keep on happening, and that includes really bad things and things that are really bad personally. And every time that happens, I feel like I've failed. And then there's every moment I'm still, every moment I haven't accomplished something absolutely fantastic I feel like I've failed because I haven't made things better. That just seems insane, it just seems like an absolute and terrible monstrous mistake. It just seems like I'm fiddling while Rome burns. It just seems like I'm a part of the horror, since I'm not stopping it.

It's so easy to feel that way.

It makes me feel like even a moment spent inactive is my mark of failure. Moreover it places pressure on me to save the world with the next moment.

And yet, to feel that way, even Rand the Grand and Glorious can't do it all, and he can't always be trying even, especially since he too is a part of this messed up world.

One more thing if you think about it. If human beings deserve happiness, than don't those who want to help people have a right for happiness too.

But scrap all that, no screw all that. To tell you the truth, no matter how much I do it's still not going to be enough to stop bad stuff from happening, moreover the further into the future the effects of my accomplishments go the less control I'll have over them. So scrap that too.

How to deal with it all then? I appreciate the beauty of life, the universe, and people, wonderful old people. Life is beautiful, and if things go wrong, it might become less pretty, but even less pretty it is infinitely beautiful. So while life might not be as good as you want, it still is so damn beautiful.

And in the end, God will take care.

And yes, there will be horror.

But God will make the best of this world.

And it will still be so damn, incredibly beautiful.

So that's about that.

And those pressures seem a little bit lighter.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

People, something vague and grandiose

It is a mark of my ambivalence about the subject that I cannot even summon up a specific vague and grandiose statement about it. But I love people. They're good folk. Especially friends and such. But they do fill me up with immense and often agonizing amounts of anxiety. Friends and such less so. Usually I don't find friends as discomfort producing. Ah, but here's the rub, I like being around my friends, but the act of contacting them, creating a contact as opposed to simply being exposed to one, there's a big anxiety creator. But hey, no pain, no gain. And I must gain the glory, for I am Rand the Great and Glorious!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Do I need to say more?

It's been pretty relaxing. On the other hand, it's been pretty busy because spending time with my family and stuff and doing fun activities. In someways it's like every other homecoming except 100x.

Ah, but that makes sense, and that's also why I got to run, but feel free to check out the archives.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vacation's all I ever wanted, actually no, but Thanksgiving Break!!! Wooo!!!

Greetings, y'all. Sorry about missing yesterday's session but you're all bums, so I don't feel so bad, especially since I for once was not being a bum and working hard for the monkey, so hard for it honey, I work hard for the monkey so give me some monkeys and give them some honey (wow, I started out with a song parody, went to a Simpsons reference and then went straight to insane nonsense (am I awesome or what?)). Actually I had a ton of school work to do and my mind almost exploded, just almost. But now that's done and it's time for BREAK!!!! THANKSGIVING WOOOOO!!!!

Actually I still have school work to do and some of it I actually need to do over the break. Thanksgiving break's actually something of a tease when you think about it, since it doesn't last that long (least for me, Rutgers only gives 2 days off (because they're bums), and unlike more lazy and yet generous colleges like Princeton University I don't get a fall break) but moreover fall break doesn't really signal the end of a school unit. I mean certainly a lot of tests and projects ram up to the end right before the break (hence the insane amount of work I had to do up to yesterday), but once the break's over BAM!!! got to prepare for the real finals (which for Rutgers is throughout the month of December (Princeton's got a really weird schedule where they have their break first then their finals, they also have extra time for their break, but I actually prefer to have finals first then break because break time would probably lead my brain knowledge to decay and the decay and such and so that would be bad for finals and such).

And yet for all the teasing, it will be nice to have a good nice breakity break weekend. Especially since it's THANKSGIVING WOOOOOO (seeing as I've got mad Catholic power (Catholics rule! Yeah!!) here's a link for Catholics about Thanksgiving)!!!!!

Plus my bro the bro-man Jay (again shout out to his webpost) is coming over so that'll be the cool and all (he might even give me some tips for upping my webpost quality (I mean it's already awesome, but it could be MEGA-SUPER-AWESOME). It'll be pretty dang cool eh?

So this break will be still pretty awesome. Now I do wish it was longer, especially since I tend to use my breaks to get actual personal work done (now to say what this work is, well, I've got projects, writing (I actually want to try to get into a habit of writing a page of fiction/poetry each day, although I'll probably not be posting it up since it'll be raw in form (and possibly content, but probably not, I'm not an exhibitionist)), renewing old friendships, etc., etc., plus tons of other stuff) (I tend to have mixed feelings about the idea of school as work, but I've talked about that before, and I'll talk about that later), but let's do a little supposing and say I didn't do work (it happens sometimes I end up having my depression or anxiety catch up to me on a break and it takes me right out of all the work stuff), then while I certainly would like more than 4 days break, too long of a break could be a problem.

My brother's like this sometimes, he can't stand being not at work for too long. I mean I can be not at work for long periods of time but then I just feel crappy and guilty and even if I can get over my guilt I still feel unsatisfied, because heck, I like my work (and here I'm talking I'm about my real work like writing).

But still, especially since I'm going to be doing personal work, I'm going to love this break, love this Thanksgiving, and love you my good readers (you know I love you!).

So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart (take my love people! (I mean that in a writer-reader way, although if any girls want to contact me...)), and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari

Babylon 5 fans know what I'm talking about. I always loved that episode, and that title is just pretty awesome, even if is highly specific to Babylon 5. Awesome show, and one of the few American shows that truly earns the title of an epic (although the title epic is pretty contestible, some say only poems can be epics, and some say that epics must fulfill a number of conventions, but I'd say an epic is a matter of scope and focus, and given the intergalactic, many years scope and wide ranging focus I think it qualifies).

Ah, the epic, it has been one of my long dreams to write epic stories. Now I've got a long poem that might qualify with a little alteration but I dunno about that, it's kind of more personal in focus than epic. It's humorous too but I'm not sure if that necessarily disqualifies it from epicness. It's still awesome of course. Now probably my focus for an epic would be probably a book or book series or movie or movie series or tv series. Now containing a full epic in a book is kind of difficult. Epics are rambling creatures, containing wide-ranging perspectives and giant events over long periods of time. Space operas often approximate epics, but usually their focus is too narrow or sometimes just plain unfocused, and they lack the heroic sense of an epic. There are exceptions though. And of course there are fantasy epics, but usually though fantasy epics and even sci-fi epics go over several books and movies. TV I think has pretty awesome potential really to create epics, the long period of a tv shows with short pieces and the possibility of mini-arches and side stories I think has a lot of potential that's unexplored really.

So that's one of the reasons I'd like to do some tv writing. And for all you tv producers out there, you can probably give me some money and such, it would be pretty awesome you know and pretty awesome for everyone because you know I'm awesome and such.



So that's all for now, anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's been a long November

It has been a long month. And I've established that over my sessions throughout the month. As to the why of the why it has been a long month, I could probably put out a good session on that, but I'd rather mix things up a little with a little mixing and a little upping and a little mixity upity up.

So I like gum. It's good stuff really. It preserves the experience of eating for a long time, and that's really nice.

I also like eating, it's also good stuff. I like to think it's a somewhat artistic experience. I mean the crafting of good food is artistic, but appreciating the food I think is also artistic. When you appreciate art you are forced to take an artistic outlook and such. So it's all good stuff.

So with that in mind, let's throw on some awesome artistic appreciation stuff like a couple of shows I'm watching now:

1. How I Met Your Mother

Really nice show, it's a sitcom but it goes beyond the sitcom conventions. The central conceit that it is a guy telling his kids how he met their mother gives the show a little bit of direction although sometimes it leads the show to go rather semi-lame lesson-oriented.

2. House

Nice, nice show really, most of the time. House is a jackass, but he's a miserable jackass. That's the thing about jackasses, if they're always right, the show's an endorsement of jackasstery, but if the jackass gets proven wrong every now and then then it's okay. And House manages to balance that. Plus you got some nice character interplay, and so nice joke cracking. And as a medical procedural show, well, I've heard they get some of the med stuff wrong every now and then, but the show keeps things suspenseful and they play around with the formula every now and then. But in the end it is a formula show though. And after a while, it gets kind of hard to stick with that. House is one of those shows that's great to watch every now and then and often awesome to watch when it's rising up or falling during a storyline arch, but once it hits the long stretch of the season, when the formula really shines out, the episodes become a little interchangable, and not something you want to over-do. So that's about that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I've got another confession to make, I'm your fool

After two days I've still got Foo Fighter's the Best of You stuck in my head. But that's a damn nice line "I've got another confession to make, I'm your fool." I guess I am your guys fool. I've been looking at a lot of other webposts and a whole lot of them had their authors give up after a while (which kind of hurts my efforts to accumulate the best of the web's webposts, since I'd rather not include ones not regularly updated unless they are especially good.) so the fact that I've kept up almost daily sessions for nearly a year (when I hit the year mark I'll probably be in India, so I'm not sure how much of a celebration I'm going to be able to do for it) means either I've got a minor accomplishment or I'm your fool.

I wonder how large an accomplishment this is. I've definitely had at the best mixed success in attracting readers (because most readers are bums, and while you guys are, as I've said often, bums, you are apparently less bummy than the rest of the web, so my hat's off to you guys (if I've had a hat)), in terms of quality I think I've done well. Overall my average quality is good, although I've had some crappy sessions I'll admit, and I've had a couple really great sessions (sometime soon, once I'm done copying over all my old sessions from MySpace I'm planning to create a list of best sessions). But perhaps most importantly my consistency has been pretty good, not excellent maybe, I've missed sessions every now and then and sometimes for as much as a week, but I've kept at it, and that's more than can be said for a lot of my other projects, and maybe, that's something I can be proud of, maybe.

I often wonder what good I've done in this world. I try hard to remind myself of a rule I made that I'm not going to judge myself by my accomplishments but by my effort to do good, but if the impact of my 21 years... if the overall sum of it is a little good or maybe even a decent amount of bad... It's hard sometimes when I think that way. But lately it's been hard for me not to think that way. My brother complimented me on my ability to deal with my mental illness to make it through these years. I've always wondered how well though I've made of things, maybe I have kept my grades up, but that is as much do to the mercy of my professors as it is to my effort, but perhaps that's okay. Maybe we all need a little help now and then.

But I'm not sure my survival, or even my personal success at school is enough for me. I'm reminded of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Anyone who's seen that show is now asking, dude, does he actually understand it? Well, no not all of it, but parts of it. I understand to some degree the feelings of the main character, Shinji who struggles to find the desire to fight, to live, or to exist as an individual being. His low sense of worth negates the idea that he has an inherent right to exist, but I like to think he finds something in the beauty of the emotion of love that carries him through and gives him the worth he needs (this is the interpretation including the movie End of Evangelion). Is that enough for me? But have I valued and cherished love as I should, or have I just dwelled in fear? If I care about love so much why haven't I had a bigger positive impact on the world?

These questions whirl around in my head endlessly. And I worry that I've had a negative impact on someone I love (adding to previous fears of this), so I wonder is my slight positive impact overwhelmed by this? And if it is, then for the sake of my love of others, is it better for me to leave... But this ignores many factors and ideas. First of all, I think I underrate my positive impact on the world. My writings might not be widely read yet, and heck, they might not even be that good (although I still think they really are, after all, how can Rand the mighty and glorious write badly?), but I've tried to be a good friend to my friends, and I think I've done pretty well on that front for the most part. For most of my friends I think I've left a positive mark. I think for most of my family too I've left a good mark. Second, I think I ignore my positive potential, if my writings are good, if they get out there they should do some good, I have the potential to do good for my friends and family and strangers really. Thirdly, I have to consider the impact of my leaving this world, but even if that's a reason to stay that's not a reason to really live this life.

Perhaps, if I want to talk about the good impact of my life actually being happy and well, perhaps I ought to think of God. God loves me, and therefore it makes sense that He would be happy to see me well. And I like to think, even if I haven't made much of an impact, I really do believe in love, and whatever my personal failings that counts for something.

It doesn't stop the questions, just because you have answers. But maybe it allows you to overcome the questions, and still live, and more than that, when you have the answers, it allows you to strive for further answers.

I suppose in the end, I have no choice to keep on pressing on, well, no I have choices, but those choices are simply wrong, and so if I'm honest with myself, I realize I want to press on, and with God's help I'll keep doing that.

Even if the tides of the past keep pulling me backwards, maybe still I can break the current and sail beyond the seas.


Anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Maybe it has the best of me

After every music session I do, I get a song stuck in my head. From my last music session I got Best of You stuck in my head. And I feel like maybe someone or something has the best of me, but I suppose I just need to rip away and say "I'll never give in...No, I refuse." I'm half inclined to do a semi-exposition of this song or even a full exposition, but for various reasons that would be a bad idea. Time's one, I do have a paper to write, but also the things I'm thinking about when I'm hearing that song right now aren't stuff I can share, at least not with everyone.

I realize it's a bit of a cheat to hint so heavily at some story I'm not going to share, but if it is a cheat, so be it, I can live with that, but I can't live with telling this story on the web, at least not today. There are some stories I tell and some I don't. Stories about me I tell for the most part, although I'm considering being a bit more guarded about these because people I know might (big might) read this and take things in a bad light (actually I already consider that and hide certain things, but I'm considering expanding that rule); stories about news, culture, science even, the world in general, those I tell; stories about things that never happen or only might happen, those I tell; but stories about other people, well, if it's positive I might share it, but I'm not going to share other people's secrets on the web, it's just not right.

If it seems even more obnoxious to explain myself in a way that hints even more at the story I'm not telling, well, that's really too bad for you. Sometimes you have to live with not knowing. It's just that something bad happened, and it's taken a lot out of me, but I'm pressing on, even if I can't really change the bad stuff that's happening, but at least I can live my life and hopefully help prevent other bad stuff.

But it hurts you know, watching bad stuff happening and being helpless. It does hurt, and sometimes it takes the best of you.

But when that happens you just need to scream "I'll never give in, NO I REFUSE!"

Because if you do give in...

And even with the bad stuff in the world, there's still so much good, it's still not a bad world, it's just not as good as you'd like it to be... and so you learn to live with the bad stuff that's happening, and you learn to press on, and you take back the best of you.

Or at least you try damn hard.

That's really all I have to say about that.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You can't stop the music, even if you wanted to

And still the beat goes on. I've been putting off doing a music session for a while for a while because of a bunch of reasons really, I guess I was frustrated with YouTube and the often shallow selection of AMV's there (I mean come on people do you really have put every single song to Fullmetal Alchemist, and Naruto, come on people why Naruto? (I think I actually understand why Naruto appeals to people, it combines a fairly straight forward fighting anime with simple comedy and drama elements, nothing especially fancy, nothing especially well integrated, and not up to great standards, but I can see how people could like it, especially if this was the first anime they saw (or simply the first they saw after Pokemon and Yugi-Oh))). I was also just generally avoiding doing a real session because, well, things fall apart.

And things aren't well, now, but still we must press on, even if we'd rather stop.

Anyways, even though I touched on this before I thought I'd start things off with:

1. A Perfect Situation by Weezer - From the album Make Believe - I'm not going to go too deeply into it since like I said I touched on this song before in this previous session. But it is damn good song, so chuck filled with emotion that at the end all you can say is Ooooooh, Ooooh, Oh, Ooooh, except it time and melody with the song, alright fine, Ooooh doesn't work well when written out.


Weezer's video - An awesome video, funny, cool and still it reaches into your heart and gives it a little squeeze

A Perfect Situation AMV - anime - Midori Days - Despite the anime being about a guy with a girl on his hand (no, this is not porn), the anime's filled with that wishfillness for romance just like the song, and this AMV really brings out that emotion, sometimes its a bit too literal it its imagery but it connects the video with the song and comes out better for it so well, well done video maker, well done.

2. Sunday, Bloody Sunday by U2 - From the album The Joshua Tree - This is an immensely stirring song. It is about the Bloody Sunday Massacre, you can check a small primer on the matter on Wikipedia. It was part of the greater Northern Ireland conflict, but ulitimately the song boils down to a roar against violence. And this was before Bono became so goody-two-shoes that it just makes you want to smack him upside the head.


U2's video - a standard concert video, which I suppose in its simplicity underlines the seriousness of the emotion, but I prefer a later fan made video made with clips from a movie depicting the events of Bloody Sunday, U2 video stuff, and some photos from the day itself.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday AMV - anime - Neon Genesis Evangelion - A damn good AMV, I must say. It certainly connects in terms of energy and mood with the song and much of that connection is due to the choice of elements by the AMV-maker. Still it strikes me as interesting choice thematically since Neon Genesis Evangelion is all about Senji's struggle to find a reason to fight and Sunday, Bloody Sunday is well about not fighting. But the great anguish of war, that's the connecting element the AMV picks out well.

3.London Calling by the Clash - From the London Calling - The desperate, insanity. The utter energetic pessimism. The nihilisticly joyous anger. Ahhh, that's the stuff. That's the ROCK!!!!


The Clash's Video - Now like the U2 video for Sunday, Bloody Sunday this is largely just the guys playing their music (although not at a concert), but the setting, the lights and shadows, the angles and the cutting all create a better video. Just a little tip for you aspiring video directors. (Note this is actually an altered version with some video edits and remastered sound, if you want this is the original video)

London Calling AMV - anime - Rurouni Kenshin - Now I don't like to repeat myself with animes I have unsure opinions on (I used to watch this a couple times but I didn't really get into it then, maybe I'll watch it some time in the future), but I really wanted to have a London Calling AMV and this one captured the chaos of emotions that swirl around in this song, and it does it with swords!!!

4. Best of You by the Foo Fighters (keep on fighting that Foo guys!) - From the album In Your Honor (it's in my honor, not in you guys', I'm the special one here) - I always felt this song was about the struggle to maintain hope and passion against tragedy. Least that's my ways of it, but this much I know, and I know this for trues, this song is awesome.


The Foo Fighter's video - insane video, but if this song isn't about insanity, it's about something mighty close to it.

Best of You AMV - anime - various - This AMV belongs to the cutting edge of the genre, where people use really nice video editing software to punch up their videos with fades and live action implants and the like (as well as obnoxious opening bits), but none of that would be enough without the meat and cheese of AMV craftsmanship (by the way my little sister has gone vegan which means she has given up both meats and cheeses), scene selection, tonal matches, energy correlation, etc. And this succeeds, it contains a sense of strength, of yearning, of deep struggle, of passionate emotions, and of mental anguish. Maybe not exactly what I got from the song but plenty close enough to the song to enhance it and let it shine.

5.Eye of the Tiger by Survivor - From the Rocky III Soundtrack - Dude, anyone who listens to this song before a performance or competitive event and does not get pumped up has no soul, or doesn't the song (but then they're just lame).


Survivor's video - alright this isn't actually Survivor's video, but it's close enough since the song was designed for Rocky III (besides you can't tell me what to do! You're not my real mom (unless mom is reading this)!)

Eye of the Tiger AMV - anime - Naruto - After griping about Naruto before, why feature a AMV with Naruto? Because I can! Also I'm willing to give that Naruto is a decent fighting anime (although I'm not crazy about all that jitsu stuff, I mean I know it gives a systematic sense to made up martial arts, but after a while it just sounds lame), and it is occasionally able to throw its characters into some nice combat scenes that can be nicely sliced up, smacked together and turbo-charged with the awesomeness of this song to explode into greatness (although I will smack this AMV a little for incorporating a lot of scenes from a Naruto plotline actually featuring a special eye (you can tell this if you read the subtitles that are left in (little tip for AMV makers, unless you plan on incorporating the subtitles, just use a dubbed version))).

So that's it for the music biz. And that's the biz with music and siz. It's nice to really invest some effort into a session like this. Even if these music sessions aren't as intense as the normal sessions (and that's a real if, since I'm always surprised by how long music sessions actually take to put together), it gives a little sense of accomplishment, even if my readership is small enough that I could beat them up with one hand tied behind my back and the other connected to an electric beating machine.

Little side notes: Congrats to old Piro and his wife Sera on their baby Jack!

Also my sympathy to Ryan Sohmer for his recent loss of his cat, baby (the comic on that is here and he has a blog entry on it here).

Odd how that ended up. I've never met these guys, but I've always admired them (to a degree), and they inspired me in part to get onto this interweb, so well, well that's that.

As to my own stuff, well, it's my own, and I have other feelings and shout outs I'd like to give, but I don't care to be coy or irreverent and so I no longer care to continue this session (although I should be back for another one tommorow, why? Because I'm just that awesome).

So take it to your head, take it to your heart, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!