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Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

I have a difficult time with computer reformatting–that is a fact.  Over the past few years, I’ve had to reformat several computers and deal with the loss of nearly all of my data.  Over and over and over again.  I used to bitch about it a lot in my diary since it was such a yearly thing back in high school, and I had counted myself as lucky for lasting this long with my laptop.

But, all things come to an end, don’t they?

One very malicious virus from one not so official site.  I keep thinking, “If I hadn’t gone onto that website, if I hadn’t clicked on the allow button for what I thought was my virus-protection, if I had backed up all of my things beforehand…”  But there’s only so much you can do with ‘what if’s.  After a while, they stop mattering, and you have to see if you learned something from the situation.

I was reading about astronomy.  Astronomy! When the website forced a pop up that was suddenly taken down by an ‘Allow Disallow’ kind of prompt.  Seeing the pop up as Vista Total Security, I thought that it was the virus protection automatically installed on my computer and pressed allow.  What a stupid thing to do.  Vista Total Security, my friends, is actually a malware virus.  At first, it tricks you into believing it’s automatic virus protection, but after a few hours of constant warnings and pop ups from it telling you that your computer is infected, you begin to wonder if maybe Vista Total Security is the virus.  Well, it was.  And I immediately started backing up my files on my new external hard-drive.  Good thing I did, too, since my entire computer wasn’t working after five hours.

I called Marshall for some help with it, and he ended up recommending that I reformat the system by installing Windows 7, which I had happened to keep up here in case I wanted to switch over.  So, for several hours last night, I made the switch and then uploaded all of my previous information back onto my laptop.

Except some of it was missing.

Most of it being music.

Three fifths of my music.

Now, I’m the type of girl who collects music and takes it pretty damn seriously.  I organise it into wonderful playlists and care deeply about my connection to certain music.  So, seeing that 3000 of my songs were missing was a bit of a shock this morning.  I just stood there in front of my computer wondering how my iTunes could only have saved what was uploaded by CD rather than both CD and flash-drive.  I felt foolish for not checking beforehand that everything had been saved.  And I felt betrayed.  It should have copied, and even if I had known when I was transferring everything, there wouldn’t have been enough time to save everything before the virus took over.  It all came down to electronic betrayal, and I couldn’t help but feel frazzled.

But not too terribly upset.

Sure, the what-if’s have been soaring, and I certainly wish that I hadn’t lost so much, but I know that I can get much of it back.  I have so many CDs in my truck from my previous computers, so that’s a start.  My friends have offered me up their classical music to replace my Chopin, Vivaldi, and Tchaikovsky, and I’m confident that things can be right.

I realised today at lunch that, had this happened back in high school, I probably would have cried.  Actually, I know that I would have cried for at least a day because, when I did originally lose all of my music (even though it was only 400 songs at the time), I cried for days.  But I keep thinking about the situation now and how it really doesn’t matter.  I’ll get it back.  Everything I actually cared about will be back in my music library, and the world will move on, and I’m still alive, and my photos are all intact, and things are actually pretty damn okay.

Being positive in light of miniature disasters mean the difference between being able to handle the stress and completely shutting down, and I’m willing to start taking the stress on as direct challenges.  You delete my music?  I get it back.  Easy as that.

So, here begins the epic repairing of my music library.

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Maturity

Sometimes I doubt whether I’ve matured at all in the past two years.  It must have something to do with leaving teenage egocentricism and starting to develop at a much slower rate, even if all kinds of crazy things are going on all around me.  I keep looking back to when I was sixteen and seventeen and thinking that maybe I wasn’t all that stupid, which now strikes me as odd.  All throughout my life, I would look back at the things I wrote from a few years before and scoff at how incredibly dumb I was.  Now, though I’ll laugh at how I know better as an adult, I can’t bring myself to make fun of myself from a few years ago.  Once I hit that point where, cognitively, I was an adult, things just kind of… stagnated.

But, as a slap to the face, I received a very lengthy comment from a man whom I had written to a year and a half ago about his doctrine concerning suicide and religion.  To sum up his argument, it was that by teaching evolution/atheism, that it was the cause of teenage suicide.  Finding that ridiculous, I had written a letter to him detailing the causation-correlation dilemma and psychological facts presented with teen suicide.  But, when I had posted a copy to my blog, it was not in the most civil of tones and was quite condescending.  Looking back, I wish I’d done something different.

I never agreed with him.  I still don’t agree with him.  But even sixteen months later, I’m shaking my head at my behaviour.  It’s the nagging question: Why couldn’t you have presented the facts and left it at that?  I wonder why, and it makes me question my maturity.  And it makes me wonder if I have matured since then since I now see what I wrote in a different light.

It’s just something to think about.  Maturity, and what the word means when it really comes down to your actions, behaviours, what you say, et cetera.

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It’s been a year.

Okay.  Almost.

It’s nearly been a year since I really picked this blog up and decided to let it be more than the single posts about Christmas from 2007 (yes, for all of you who did not know, this blog has been alive for quite a few years).  I don’t really know what to say to my blog.  Happy Birthday?  No.  Not really.

A year ago, I was sitting outside in the Quad, dreading the winter that was to come, watching the people around me, feeling so philosophical.  I guess not much has changed.  I still chill in the Quad all of the time (just maybe in different places), still watch people to figure out more about what they may be like, et cetera.  Maybe I wear more scarves now and my hair is longer and I have more music in my iTunes library.  That’s about it from the physical perspective.  But, you may wonder what has changed in this past year:

Well, I’m more outgoing; that’s for sure.  I’ve opened up more than I could have imagined by talking to strangers and being genial.  Unfortunately, this also means that I’ve been more open with how I feel about things, which causes drama and anger.  People have thought that I’ve grown meaner.  I think I just grew more honest and maybe a bit more secure.  Sometimes, that backfires.  I question whether I want everyone around me to know that I’m excited or happy or stressed.  Sometimes, I turn back into the girl I always was in middle school and just hide everything.  As unhealthy as it is, I still find it comforting to hide behind my mask at some times when I’m not completely sure of my surroundings or if I just want to know I still have the strength to play this charade.  It’s an INTJ trait, I’m afraid.  We are a manipulative bunch, after all.

I’ve made new friends, too, and I guess you can say that I’ve lost some others.  I didn’t know a year ago just how amazing my dorm house was, but now I see all of these people I love every day, and it feels like the best family one could ever have.  We spend our time together, working, playing, relaxing, cooking, stressing, and everything else that a family shares.  It’s blissful, and I’ll be sad to leave when, in another year, I find myself no longer in the dorms.

I’ve also learned a lot.  That should be a given since I’ve been at uni for a full year, but I never would have imagined from last year just how much I would learn.  So much of my classes has been applied to everyday life or general conversations, and it leads me to wonder just how I got through in the past without the knowledge that I now have.  It’s also been exciting to apply what I learn in one class to other subjects.  Something about intuitively combining information in order to allow it presence in another department of life is terribly exciting.  It’s the proof that I’ve learned instead of just absorbed information for it to be squeezed out of me come exam time.

Also, I’ve multiplied my music and film collections.  Here are just a few for you:

Music:

  • Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine”
  • Loreena McKennitt’s “The Visit”, “The Book of Secrets”
  • Yael Naïm’s “Yael Naïm and David Donatien”
  • Kate Havnevik’s “Melankton”
  • Florence + the Machine’s “Lungs”
  • Imogen Heap’s “Ellipse”
  • Nickel Creek’s “Why Should the Fire Die?”
  • Patrick O’Hearn’s “Glaciation”
  • Kingdom of Heaven Soundtrack
  • Emiliana Torrini’s “Love in the Time of Science”, “Fisherman’s Wife”
  • Joanna Newsom’s “Have One on Me”
  • Beirut’s “Gulag Orkester”

Films:

  • Kingdom of Heaven Director’s Cut
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Pleasantville
  • Mean Girls

Books:

  • Great Expectations (Dickens)
  • Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë) (even though I hated every single character)
  • Sense and Sensibility (Austen)
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (Remarque)
  • Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

You can have at it on the media that has been with me during the past year.  Meanwhile, I’ve learned how to make three new types of hats, bake bread, make vegetarian entrées, pay bills, and work at a summer job basically teaching Missouri state history.  So, it’s been educational and new.

But I still want to assure you that, if the ground was not so wet, I would be outside right now, watching everyone around me, listening to some good music, and thinking about everything that happened to occur to get me in that spot and everything that was to occur.  I may not be listening to Muse, and I may not be commenting on my personal philosophies, but I would still be there.

I might as well be right now.

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It was a long day of working outside in 96 degree heat with small children around a camp-fire, cooking up stick bread and dump cake and making our own butter.  Six bottles of water, one packed lunch, and an entire outfit soaked in sweat later, it was time to go home and chill.  Of course, first things first, I needed food.  So I took some old black beans, added pepper jack cheese, onions, and a tomato, cooked it in the microwave and ate it along with bread and butter and yet another bottle-amount of water.  And then I showered.  Or, rinsed off would be the more correct phrasing.  And, finally, I was then able to chill and read random fashion/living blogs and avoid Facebook like usual.

The reason that I mention this to you is because I was informed during my blog reading this afternoon that this is not normal teenage culture.  Nothing seemed weird to me when I was making my own breakfast, lunch, and dinner; volunteering at an historic site; or not washing my hair.  But, turns out that these are all faux-pas.  During my reading based off of a Seventeen article, we are supposed to eat macaroni and cheese or go out to get good food.  Then, we’re supposed to work at the mall in some fashion forward boutique where we will be yelled at by gorilla-managers and stomped on by customers for a small pay check.  And, last, we’re supposed to take that second shower of the day where we rewash and then attempt to add the oils back to our skin and hair before blow drying and straightening our hair before just going to bed.

And it left me thinking, “What the fuck?”

Or maybe it just had me reeling that some ordinary day wasn’t ordinary at all in the standards of big businesses or media that would like to think that teenagers are all one stereotype.  According to them, at nineteen, I should still be painting my toenails every night before talking to my gal friends about who I should totally go on a date with after watching that new Twilight film.  They believe that women my age should be more interested in clothing, make up, and hair rather than careers, education, or our own opinions.

As much as I suppose I’ve known all of this goes on, it still manages to sicken me.  Teenagers are not the same person duplicated over and over again.  We are a force of many different people–perhaps even more varied than the majority of the adult world.  As a woman (and, yes, a WOMAN) who is both an adult and a teenager, I feel that my word on this should be fairly solid since I can see both worlds for the time being.

Media outlets try to push every piece of merchandise and accessory available to teenagers through the presumption that we are all the same person, and maybe they make a lot of money doing that.  But they also lose our trust when we are all labelled as trouble makers or fashion addicts or skater punks.  As an example, there was an occasion once at the mall when I was fifteen when I was followed around by a security guard and then questioned just because I was a teenager and because I was wearing the colour black (which happened to be a black polo with a grey pearl necklace, mind you).  When confronted, I commented that I was being pushed into a category I didn’t belong in simply because of my age and that it was blatant ageism.  And that security guard no longer had my trust because of that, which is sad since authority figures should be respected–not flattened because you have no faith in them.  I’m not saying that Media should be authority, but if it wants to act as such, then it needs to win over our trust by treating us as actual people.

So here’s what I have to say to those who believe my life is not the norm of teenage culture:

What is the norm?  Is it really that abnormal that I don’t work in the food or fashion industry?  Is it that abnormal that I love uni and learning?  Is it that abnormal that I not only cook all of my meals myself but cook them very healthily?  And is it really that abnormal that I don’t always wash my hair?

I mean, really, I like that my fifty year-old co-worker at the historic site quotes Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy while talking about politics or that my hair is healthy because I don’t over wash it.  I like the food I eat, even though it’s not fried, full of chicken, or dumped in sugar.  So to those who say that I shouldn’t enjoy these and that they aren’t normal teenage culture, stuff it.  Here’s to all of those teenagers out there who are real people rather than what someone would like to think of them as–one dimensional zombies, bumping into each other while trying to buy another 26 dollars in anti-frizz serum.

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From a site about ‘true American Values’:

“As arrows are to an archer, children are to a father.”

So, children are instruments for killing things or hitting darts for entertainment?  Last I checked, children weren’t meant for that and shouldn’t be used as tools of destruction.  And why should the children only be used or coveted by their father?  What’s the say of all the mothers out there who birthed and helped to raise those children?  There’s no winning me over with sexist or discriminatory remarks, now.  Nice try American-values website, but you didn’t quite hit the bull’s eye with this one.

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Oh dear goodness, I’m practically rolling around in my childhood right now, listening to Dixie Chicks on shuffle and scribbling song lyrics into my diary.  It’s moments like these that remind me that I still have some type of grasp on who I used to be and continue to be.  And even while most of these songs are such rubbish, so much makes up for it: Chris Thile mandolin solos, choruses shifting into minor chords, power building up in bridges.  Oh, the bluegrass of the late nineties and early 2000s was magnificent.  Think on it–Dixie Chicks, Nickel Creek, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Alison Krouse.  A lot of great bluegrass came out then.

In fact, a lot of great music came out in the nineties, but it’s taken me until nearly twenty years later to realise that this crap was… well, not crap.  My room mate for next year is really into nineties alternative, which I started getting into about five years ago, and I’m fairly certain that you’re going to be able to walk into our room and feel like you’re in your childhood.  Matchbox Twenty will be playing in the background while you reach for my Skittles candy machine and a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Only our laptops will give us away.

One day, I’ll look back at the nineties and 2000s as the “Good Ole Days”, and I will lament about the kick-ball and hiking in the woods and climbing the trees while singing Spice Girls and shoving Pokèmon cards into our Lisa Frank binders.  God, I still have those Lisa Frank binders full of Pokèmon cards in my closet, right next to a bin of Beanie Babies that I was so sure would be worth a ton of money and put me through college.  But you can buy those same Beanie Babies from a garage sale for fifty cents, so, so much for that monetary adventure.

But I’ll look back at all of this in wonder; that much is certain.

I was reading Fahrenheit 451 today while waiting for the mall to open and let me buy a Father’s Day present, and I was surprised by how everyone around me reminded me of the characters.  Sure, in limited ways, but so many people are the sheeple like the majority of characters, and I wondered if I would be like Guy or Clarisse or Mildred or Beatty.  When we read things like this or Animal Farm or Ishmael, we always want to pretend that we would be one of the enlightened ones.  One of the people who catch onto what society is up to and starts fighting the system and thinking for ourselves.  But, in all reality, would we really be that person?  Or would we be following the motions like anyone else, living day to day with no other question?  Would we wake up and go to school or church or work like every other day?  Would you be the one to sit in front of the telly and soak in everything that it had to offer?  I was that person for so long before waking up, but as I read, I still can’t help but realise that I would be one of those people.  I’d be a sheeple right next to everyone else.

We can’t all be a Clarisse.

Will books be banned one day like in Fahrenheit 451?  It makes me wonder if the good old days will be right now because of the knowledge that we presume to be free.  And it’s something to think about.

But for now, it’s best left to Dixie Chicks and scribbles of what I think into a diary that no one will ever read.  It’s better off in poems that tell stories of far away places where people learn lessons in the strangest ways that no one else will understand but in glimpses of another’s mind.  It’s better left to sentences that don’t know how to end.

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Reading the news, as usual, brings out the worst of me.  It brings out the fight and the kick and the ‘that’s just not fair’ attitude that will bite back at anyone who opposes me.  Now, I’m not closed-minded about politics.  I won’t sit here and tell you that your opinion is wrong, but boy do I get angry over certain state decisions and how they effect the thinking of the people effected.

I was reading an article about how the prime minister of Japan just stepped down a few days ago amidst the roe with the US over the base at Okinawa.  The US has had it’s base there since the end of World War II in order to better keep power in the East, but Japan is avidly against the base.  First of all, it’s a giant patch of the city taken over by a foreign army.  Second, after the 1995 rape by three US servicemen of a twelve year-old Japanese girl, the people aren’t too happy about having the soldiers there.  I understand that there’s probably a need to have a base, but I also think that Japan and the US should come to some agreement that can keep both sides happy–rather than the problem being so large that the head of a country ups and leaves.

It also got me to thinking about something way long ago.  Back in sixth grade, I remember a teacher who would basically shove his political opinions down our throats during class.  While I now thank him for forcing us to read Animal Farm (as it is my favourite novel), I do not thank him for the animosity he taught us against President Clinton and those who supported other nations.  He complained about how Clinton had sold a part of the US to Japan for a base in California, and how terrible this was.  He would lament on about how he knew some guy who flew his American flag upside-down for all eight years of Clinton’s presidency in order to show that he was in distress from the politics.  For an eleven year-old, what our teachers said was solid truth, so I believed for still some years that Clinton must have been an evil politician and that Bush was the way to go.  Of course, it only took me three years to find that things weren’t quite that way.  It was around the same time I ‘woke up’; thinking for myself just became natural, and I began to question my conservative upbringing in the same way that I now question my early liberal views during high school.  (I’m a libertarian, if you should need to know.)

But what struck me was that my teacher was so angry over Japan getting the same rights that we have in America.  America makes bases all over the world, so why can’t other countries do the same?  Sure, Americans will yell, ‘But they can’t!  They’re (insert nation here)!  They could be terrorists or communists or socialists, et cetera!’

But, really, if we have the right to go and make military bases all over the place, why can’t other countries have the same right to have military bases in the US or around us?  What makes us so damn special?  For the ‘Land of the Free’, we certainly don’t seem to like giving freedom outside of our borders.  I guess equal rights end at the imaginary lines we’ve created.

But it does invoke a lot of passion in me when someone will criticise me for thinking this way.  The people who say, ‘well, if you don’t like America, why don’t you leave?’ just end up sickening me.  If you don’t like America, you try to change it.  It’s something our country is all about.  When we were pissed about not having voting rights, women went into the streets and fought.  When we were pissed about Vietnam, college kids shoved flowers into soldiers guns.  When we were pissed about our soldiers dying in Afghanistan, we protested outside of Bush’s ranch.  It’s for the same reason that, even though I don’t agree with the Tea Partiers, I don’t mind them protesting.  Sure, many of them don’t know at all what they’re talking about, but if they want to campaign for an America they more approve of, then have at it!  That’s the point!  To me, showing others that nations aside from America should have the same rights as we do to set up bases or make nuclear weapons or fuck up the Earth should be my right to think and say.  After all, if we’re allowed to do something, why should that give us the right to deny that allowance to someone else?

What’cha say?

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