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Friday, January 26, 2001
I think it's really depressing that my fingers, hands, arms, legs, etc. are still really bony, but I've developed a fold of fat along my waistline. I guess my glorious late-teen-health-without-exercise years really are gone. I put my hand in front of the document camera in the classroom this afternoon, but then withdrew it quickly when I saw how skeletal my hand looked projected in larger-than-life size on the screen at the front of the classroom.
Ah, a [review] of Wong Kar-Wai's latest film, In the Mood for Love. I should check to see if it's playing anywhere nearby. From the review: "In the Mood tells its story more through body language than dialogue." Why am I so intrigued by non-verbal storytelling?
It is soooo cold.

On the bus today, someone was telling his friend about going to see the Backstreet Boys in concert tonight in Charlotte. It was a family outing with his wife and kids. Driving four hours to see the BSB seems a bit extreme to me. I may like them for my own twisted reasons, but I don't think I would really want to see them in concert anyways. It was just a funny scene in the bus because here were these two middle-aged men in the back of the bus talking about a BSB concert. When the guy first mentioned BSB, a few heads turned further up the bus to see who would be saying such a thing. (I mean, a man admitting to going to see a BSB concert? Close to suicide if you're a college student here, I think. But he wasn't. And he was going for his kids. Yes.)

Thursday, January 25, 2001
Spending way too much time in front of my computer today. Maybe a web authoring tool would be helpful at times. But I just don't like having a program write messy code. I like to know where the tags are, what they're doing. I guess it's part of my perfectionist mentality -- I must have control over everything and know what is going on at all times...
[Better World] archives are up!
An [explanation] of the search engine results for "Dumb Motherfucker." (These people claim responsibility for it... I don't know if they're entirely responsible, though...)
Argh. Why does speaking in class make me so nervous? In larger classes (more than five or six students), I clam up pretty permanently. I've been trying to be more talkative. Today in class there were many moments at which I wanted to raise a point. By the time I could formulate my thoughts into coherent phrases, someone else would have spoken on a similar line. Finally at the end of class I made an attempt to say something before my thoughts were formed enough to be understandable. I rambled on for about a minute. And no one seemed to have much of an idea what I said. The worst part, though, was that I got really shaky. My hands were trembling and I had to work hard to stop them. It was awful.
Wednesday, January 24, 2001
Oh, web design. I need to work it. If only I could spend a week just tinkering...

E-mail exchanges with [Shyaku] have also got me thinking about drawing again. While I am quite sure at this point that I won't be pursuing any explicitly art or graphic design oriented career, I want to continue exploring how visual arts help me think. I think a large part of my intellectual explorations has dropped by the wayside in recent years because I've steadily stopped drawing or painting altogether. One of the most important aspects of drawing for me is in learning to see things differently. From what I remember, Betty Edward's Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a very interesting book that teaches creativity and perceptual shifts through drawing. She explains that a lot of people who "can't draw" have hang-ups in translating visual shapes through the conceptual categories they have of the objects. The problem is that we don't really see things when we draw. We see a cup, for example, and draw what we see in our minds as a cup. It takes practice and lots of conscious un-learning to stop drawing what we think is the cup and to start drawing the image that is the cup.

In any case, drawing has always been a way for me to think outside of words. Despite my fascination with words and writing, I also think that trying to draw boundaries around writing and other ways of seeing and knowing is only limiting. There is something about the act of drawing, too, of working to see things without conceptual constraints, that stimulates thoughts in unique ways. My art teacher in high school, Rosemary Jensen, was wonderful in encouraging the free reign of thinking while we pursued the creation of visual art. She would often tell us about how various stimuli fade away when she draws. For example, intense concentration on seeing things while ignoring conceptual images occupies the mind in such a way as to make her stop hearing music playing in the background.

From my friend Fuzzy:

Go to [www.yahoo.com], in the search type in "Dumb Motherfucker" (put it in quotes) and look at the first return. Amazing.

Instant latte = best thing since sliced bread. I love coffee, but I'm not much of a connoisseur. If it tastes like coffee, it's good to me.

I fell asleep last night with my glasses on. In the middle of the night, I woke up to find that my glasses weren't on my face anymore. After a bit of searching, I found them in the middle of the bed. I put them on the nightstand for safekeeping until the morning. When I woke up, I found that my glasses had been bent out of shape -- not in any major way, but enough to throw off the alignment of the lenses to my eyes. I have such poor eyesight that any slight shift in the placement of the lenses before my eyes can give me headaches for days. Today was not such a great day, as a result. I felt dizzy with a slight headache the whole time. I hope my eyes adjust fast. Maybe it's time to look into that Lasik eye surgery thing. Even if they can't correct my eyesight to 20-20, I think any improvement would help get rid of this horrible problem of not being able to adjust to tiny changes in the orientation of the lenses to my eyes.

Clouds are cool. I used to be obsessed with them in high school. I took pictures of them. I wanted to draw them, but never managed to capture the feelings I got from them. I watched them all the time. This morning, I saw some amazing clouds. There was a whole swath of them across half the sky. They were dispersed fairly evenly, almost in rows, with just enough space between to show the sky. But the most amazing part was the color. These clouds were just translucent enough to glow orange with the morning sun's light. So, the eastern half of the sky was orange, and the western half a pale blue. Very nice. Wish I had a camera with me.
Tuesday, January 23, 2001
Ha ha ha! Just stopped in at [ooooner.com] and saw [this post] on conservative religious bumper stickers in North Carolina. After posting [this morning] about yet another one of these bumper stickers, I started thinking about what bumper stickers are and do. They really are an interesting example of the proclamation of personal beliefs. They are almost always argumentative slogans, asserting particular points of view over others in concise phrases. Because of their brevity, they necessarily draw on larger discourses, trammeling very important details and the effects of rigid authority. But I guess there are some bumper stickers that are more ambiguous. For one example, there are image bumper stickers like rainbow flags that stand in as markers of identity and ideas rather than as specific perspectives. (Of course, rainbow flags generally mean "gay-friendly" or "I am gay" . . .) What do you [think]?
I'm applying for a teaching fellowship for next year to teach freshmen composition courses. The application process is fairly simple. All that's required is filling out a form with contact information and submitting a vita and a letter of recommendation. Turning in these materials earlier today made me think about the much more elaborate and tortuous application processes I've gone through in the past. Mainly, the difficiulties lay in the need to write statements of intent and personal statements. Of course, there was the application to college (for which I wrote an essay on why I like ducks) and graduate school. I also applied to law school and library science school. I am quite pleased with the essays I wrote for those applications.

Last year I applied for a research fellowship / internship at the [National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Policy Institute] in New York City. I was not chosen for the NGLTF fellowship, but I did interview with two of the directors of the Institute. They said they liked what I wrote in my [cover letter] and [writing sample]. Guess I was completely underwhelming at the interview. But I feel like I've got somewhat of a feel for this application essay format. It's not nearly as intimidating as it used to be.

Three things from a morning drive:

(1) Listened to [Jocelyn Enriquez's] album Jocelyn. Wondered if the popular song (at least in California in the early '90s) "A Little Bit of Ecstasy" has anything to do with the happy drug that's been in the media so much lately. Whether or not it is (probably not?), it could very easily be the anthem for ecstasy users everywhere:

a little bit of ecstasy
a little bit of you and me
a little bit of set you free...

(2) Heard on the radio: "Are you concerned about a close friend, an employee?" An advertisement for [123nc.com], a for-fee service allowing on-line searches of North Carolina's criminal records. Talk about surveillance and privacy issues. One could argue that criminals deserve the full censure of anyone who can get their hands on their records, but sometimes you just gotta let things go...

(3) Saw another bumper sticker: "Why Worry? God's in Control." Now I don't want to say that religion is bad. I've gone to church services before and I really do have a concern for the spiritual well-being of myself and others. But a lot of religious fundamentalism just grates on my nerves. The complacency of that statement, the assertion that the status quo is life as decreed by God, implies that those who are poor, discriminated against, etc. are so downtrodden because God said so. And somehow, that's just not my vision of The Creator. I realize that part of my uneasiness with critical thinking (and I think an uneasiness shared by most everyone in the world) is its almost-insistence on a paranoid vision of the world -- where everything is wrong. But critical analyses of the conditions of the world around us are really for the purposes of creating a better world, one in which there are fewer injustices, where people know what is at stake in their decisions, actions, comments. It's hard to give up a naive belief in the "right-ness" of things as they are. It's an easier way to live in this harsh reality. Just accept it. It's fate. But why not just realize that life is not perfect. Things can change. We are all agents in the creation of our world. It's up to those who care enough to change it. And I hope that someday "those who care enough" will be everyone, not just those who need to change the world in order to survive.

[Aha!] 24 January 2001 = Day One, Year of the Snake.
My dad just sent me an e-card wishing me a happy new year, reminding me that it is the year of the [SNAKE] -- me! Now if I can only figure out the actual day of the new year... On a more somber note, that means I'll be a couple-dozen years old come the end of December.
Well, I finally decided I might as well put up on this page a list of blogs I read regularly. I'd been resistant to it for who knows what reasons. I suppose it's partially the wish to remain anonymous as a reader of blogs. (Referrer logs can pinpoint you only if someone follows a link from your page to another.) Although really, for all it's worth, I don't plan on checking these blogs via the links on my page. I'll continue using my bookmarks. So why bother putting them on the page?

I don't get the sense that many blog-happy people stop by my page. Seems that my visitors are either old friends or people who find me through [Google] searching the [strangest terms]... But I suppose for the interested, it might put my blogging in the context of those webbers I read. Am I in some sort of cyber-conversation, talking to myself? Yadda yadda.

Just came across [the daily dean] and will probably add it to my ever-growing list of daily reads. (Another minute out of my day.) Browsing through tdd's archives, came across [this post] on the exhibitionist / personal details / privacy aspect of journal blogging. It's odd because these issues have sort of slipped from my mind since December or so (around the same time of tdd's post). I guess the question of privacy and fears of possible terrorist activities stemming from what I reveal about myself have become irrelevant as I realize that nobody really cares what I say. Someone would really have to go out of their way to read carefully through the slew of posts I make each week just to interfere in my life. And that's just implausible given my invisibility, the way I blend so effortlessly into the background, a veritable wallflower in the room of life.
Monday, January 22, 2001
Listening now to Barbra Streisandís Back to Broadway album. Itís been awhile since Iíve listened to B. Iíd forgotten how amazing her voice is. Itís achingly beautiful and soothing. The songs she chooses, though at times of more sombre tones, always gesture towards hope and happiness.

Something else I was thinking earlier this evening: Thereís a character in the comic book Excalibur named [Meggan]. She is a metamorph, a mutant with the ability to change her shape at will. However, she is also an empath, someone profoundly connected to others through the realm of emotions. Before she learned how to control her shape-shifting abilities, and even after, she was physically altered by her emotions and those of people around her. Around happy people, her form would become radiant and beautiful. Around angry, spiteful people, her body would become twisted and ugly. I never used to identify with Meggan too much, but these days, I am beginning to realize more and more that the emotional world around me has a strong influence on me.

Sunday, January 21, 2001
I have this uneasy feeling that I forgot to log out of [blogger] on the computer I used in the library earlier today...

Two big news items of the day: Bush's first full day as President. Jackson's illegitimate child (or rather, the act that created the child). Makes me wonder how the stories are being played off each other. Is there commentary about moral (family) values and/or hypocrisy?

Ah. This is more like it. Cold, but amazingly bright and sunny. My kind of weather. Good bye rain and overcast skies.
Questions of copyright, property, ownership. These are big issues for me, so big that they tend to disappear into the background of my thoughts. But when I try to puzzle it out -- never for very long -- I always begin by wondering why we need to own things, how we can say something is ours, exclusively. I suppose I should read [The Communist Manifesto] for some thinking about communal property, but in essence, while I can hardly imagine not having my things as mine, there is also something fundamentally unnerving about how ownership seems to be a part of economic processes that create inequalities in living conditions among people. And maybe this is more a problem of the distribution of resources than ownership. But to think that there are people who have millions of dollars, lots of houses, cars, planes, yachts, etc., and then to contrast them with the homeless and those who struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs . . . that's just a huge problem for me. What gives the rich the right to own all the stuff they have -- in many ways, keeping things from others who could use them more fully or to fulfil basic survival needs -- when there are so many poor who don't have enough?

And while we are living very much in a material world, technologies of reproduction and duplication are fast developing to allow the generation of plenty. I'm not saying we're anywhere near being able to make food easily and efficiently from basic atomic components, but if we look at the world of the virtual, at digital files, and think about how the proliferation of data and transmission has allowed an expansive re-working of how we communicate in the world, it is hard not to imagine what might lie in our future if we could somehow translate the ease of digital technology's copying to the replication of molecular structures.

(This thought stimulated by this [post].)

The reigning logic has always seemed to be that there are two types of people in the world: those who make things happen, and those who watch things happen. It's a world of actors and observers. Which one are you? And I always thought, well, okay, that makes me an observer, even though I knew the putative claim was that actors are the only people who matter in the world. In high school, though, I heard a sort-of-joke-addition that there is in fact a third type of people -- those who wonder what happened. And I laughingly included myself in this group. Clueless was the implication. But now that I think about it, wondering what happened is in fact a step above merely watching. Wondering is thinking, trying to figure out why, not just what. So definitely, yes, I am one of those people who wonders what happened.

Joe in the other room is having a laugh-fest in his sleep. Giggles giggles. Wonder what he's dreaming about.

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