Monday, January 31, 2005

An earlier commenter made a smartass remark pertaining to video games and the pursuit of knowledge in institutions of higher learning, so here is our eloquently phrased rebuttal in picture form.
I'm thinking of starting a new blog called "Will's Reviews" where I could put all the song lyrics I wanted, as well as a quick take on the artist/album involved. Because I love doing that on here and no one seems to care. Oh well.
Maybe I should call it "Swill with Will."

At any rate, there's a new Indie group (although "group" here is used loosely--it's one man) called Iron & Wine and their--his--stuff is fantastic, especially one song called "Each Coming Night." It's got a sound reminiscent of the early Simon & Garfunkel days: sweet vocals, beautiful instrumentation, etc. It's been described as a "beautiful understated lullaby" but that's like saying "Wish You Were Here" is a rock anthem; it doesn't really tell you jack about the song itself.

Will you say when I'm gone away
"My lover came to me and we lay
in rooms unfamiliar but until now..."

Will you say to them when I'm gone

"I loved your son for his sturdy arms
We both learned to cradle then live without..."

Will you say when I'm gone away
"Your father's body was Judgement Day
We both dove and rose to the riverside..."

Will you say to me when I'm gone
"Your face has faded but lingers on
'Cause light strikes a deal with each coming night..."

Haunting, poignant, sad, beautiful, and joyous all at once. I love this song. I love this whole damned ALBUM. Buy it!!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Four Months, Four Photos...Call me the master of Summing Up

It's been a while and these are actually good for once. And I don't have any other webspace on which to display them.

The infamous Pleasants 108 in a state of abnormal disarray. Hey, cut us some slack, we'd just moved back in. Max is on the futon playing with the Moshi pillow and Hank is shutting down his computer prior to leaving for dinner. Note the Detour sign coffee table that I mentioned back in October; its arrow can handily be arranged to point in the direction of either the door or the window, depending on our whims.

Hank playing Halo 2 using XBOX Live. This has become an all-too-common sight in our room.

My Anne Tyler-esque family, Thanksgiving 2004. Left to right: my brother Jamie, brother-in-law Dennis Wayne, nephew Dennis James (already got the surly adolescent look down pat), my brother Joe holding my niece Geneva, my niece Kara holding my great-niece Kiersten, my mother, my father, et moi avec le guitar.

My friend Becky and I at Phi Mu Alpha "Normal Formal," October 2004. It was supposed to be a Hallowe'en theme party and we decided later that we should have gone as Emo kids. Oh well.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I've been thinking lately about how hard it is sometimes not to own other people's problems. It's not easy to seperate what one has done with the reaction one has elicited, if that makes any sense. Think about all the interactions you have with other people. How many times do we truly act, independent of any past influence? I'm willing to bet that our past affects our actions more than we're willing to admit--sometimes more than we're able to understand consciously. It seems to me, though, at this stage, that everyone is as reactive as I am. We're all raging masses of bad past experiences just dying to get out and wreak some havoc.
Anyways, this is probably me being misanthropic and somewhat bitter from some bad experiences this past week. Don't mind me. Too much.

Friday, January 21, 2005 perfect. Perfect, I tell you.


by Semisonic

I remember when I found out about chemistry
It was a long, long way from here
I was old enough to want it but younger than I wanted to be
Suddenly my mission was clear

So for a while I conducted experiments
And I was amazed by the things I learned
From a fine, fine, girl with nothing but good intentions and a
Bad tendency to get burned

All about chemistry
Won’t you show me everything you know
Ah, wonder what you do to me...

Some time later I met a young graduate
When I had nobody to call my own
I told her I was looking for somebody to appreciate
And I just couldn’t do it alone

So for awhile we conducted experiments
In an apartment by the river road
And we found out that the two things we put together had a
Bad tendency to explode

All about chemistry
Won’t you show me everything you’ve learned?
I’ll memorize everything you do to me so I can
Teach it when it comes my turn

Fine spring day, California waves
Sweet Pacific scenes through the
Windows of airplanes and hotel rooms

So when I find myself alone and unworthy
I think about all of the things I learned
From the fine, fine, women with nothing but good intentions and a
Bad tendency to get burned

All about chemistry
Won’t you show me everything you know?
Ah, wonder what you do to me...

All about chemistry
Won’t you show me everything you’ve learned?
I’ll memorize everything you do to me so I can
Teach it when it comes my turn

It’s all about chemistry
It’s all about chemistry...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Another Enneagram Post

All right...I swear...after this I'll do my Spinoza reading. *sigh*

I figured tonight I'd write about Fours, since 1) I'm a position to know more about them than any other type (naturally) and 2) self-analysis is one of the facet's of a Four's behavior, healthy or unhealthy.
Although the fear of flaws or imperfections in one's emotional health is a big fear for a Four, one that goes unnoticed is the fear of not leaving a mark on the world. A Four feels that his identity needs to leave an impact to be "important" and "worth something"; therefore he will go to great lengths to put a stamp on his environment. Sometimes it can be scary for a Four to consider that maybe his life will not ever be discussed and praised by others; that his works and ideas will never be put forth by some professor in university classroom in the distant future; that others will never look at him with the same clarity and intensity that he looks at himself.
The things you will often hear a Four say:

"Not many people understand me. It's just because I'm different."
"I'm one of a kind."
"___ is one of the things that makes me unique."

The hardest thing for a Four to accept is that there are some six billion other people who are one of a kind as well. The paradox of humanity is akin to snowflakes; even if no two flakes are the same, they're still pieces of snow. We all strive for the Nine Needs:


We just approach them in different ways. Fours would measure their success by how in tune they feel with themselves; Eights would measure their success by how in control they feel at any given time. Conversely, since the prime struggle for a Three is sucess and admiration, they will measure their identity based on how successful they feel.
Rather than drone on and become verbose and pedantic, I think I'm going to finish with a few relevant quotes from, of all creatures, Yoda. Take them for what they're worth; I happen to love the guy.
(NOTE: For contiguity's sake, I may replace some words with more relavent words, such as "identity" for "Force.")

"You will never find Identity until you overcome your fear of truth. Truth and Identity are one. This will take a great deal of practice, patience and faith. Clear the way for Identity. It will soon become a trusted ally to you again. "

"You have adopted the belief that you are separate [different] from others. You are not. What you do to others affects you more than it affects them. Think of yourself as a single leaf on a great tree. All that you encounter is part of that same being. This is why you must love all that you encounter."
(This also applies to Fives.)

"Your identity is this and cannot be fully described with words. You must feel your identity to understand it."

Note that he did NOT say "You must understand your identity to feel it." Many Fours operate under the assumption that the first task on their list is to understand themselves. This is usually counterproductive. Instead feel, listen, sense, whatever--but let the feelings come without a need to necessarily understand them fully. Enjoy someone's embrace without trying to understand why they like you. Let a friend be angry at you without having to know exactly what made them snap at you. Create without knowing why you felt moved to do so. And if not knowing or not understanding ever distresses you, remember the words from Harold & Kumar:

"The Universe tends to unfold the way it should."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I'm glad Blogger ate my earlier post, because it was negative and critical and now there's snow on the ground. It would be a damn shame for me to have an unhappy piece on the first day of classes when there's snow.
Plus, I have so much to be happy about. I ate dinner with Lynn, Liz, and Liz's boyfriend Graham who I met for the first time last night. We had a lot of fun--as usual--and afterwards I bought Lynn a toothbrush (very romantic and sensual, I know) and then we got coffee and talked about deep, profound things that I don't feel like putting down because they would only further the image of me as a Hamlet-like overanalyzer.
Today I went to Physics Part II, Gen. Chem Part II, MiliSci Part II (it's Sequel day in the Life of William) and during MS it started snowing. I got to walk through the snow to my lunch date with Lynn, and of course it got us in a silly and random mood. Something about snowfalls that bring out the laughter in all of us...
Oh, yeah, and Study of Language seems like it's going to be an awesome class. It's so geeky I could not fail to love it. If that class were human and female I would propose marriage immediately. That's how cool it seems.
God, I'm a nerd.

Monday, January 17, 2005

So re-entry has gotten off to a very good start. It began with Danny Brothers taking me out to eat at La Casita, a Mexican restaurant on Richmond Road. He thinks it's a front for a mob money-laundering operation (which would have to be run by the Greeks--according to my dad they own the restaurant business in the 'Burg), because there's hardly ever any business except for souls in the know like us lucky bastards. We discussed politics, girls, basketball, beer, liquor, drunkenness, beer, girls, and suchlike. Afterwards he dropped me off at Pleasants. I was expecting the worst--a showdown with Hank, perhaps, or maybe the vandalization of some of my stuff--but instead, Hank paused the movie he and Stephanie were watching to apologize for over-reacting at the end of last semester. I in turn apologized for invading his privacy, and he said the words which so far have made my month:
"I'm straight with you, dog."
Not even the crass incrassitudes of certain females could put a dent in my delirium of joy. Think of it: the girls in my college experience are fleeting , to say the least. It's harder for me to remember the bad times with women that it is to recall the bad experiences with someone I've lived with. To have to spend this semester in a state of fear woul have sent me into a tailspin. As it is, I've got a headwind and not much can slow me down. Here's looking forward to a brighter year.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

For those of you who are interested, I have created an Enneagram quiz using the wonderful tools on Quizilla (quite a task on a 28.8K modem). The Enneagram, if you are not acquainted with it, is a fascinating personality typification that places you in one of nine categories. Like many psychological tools, it is needs or deficit-based. That is, your type is determined by what you are seeking--be it order, love, success, self-awareness, knowledge, security, excitement, order, or harmony. Even if you're not usually the kind of person who's into online tests, I'd suggest that you take it; if your results interest or intrigue you, you may want to check out the Enneagram Institute and perhaps check out one of the many books on the subject.
WARNING: I, personally, was very upset when I discovered my type (I have since come to a semi-peace with my quirks and foibles). Coming face-to-face with who you are can be very unsettling--tread carefully if you are easily jarred!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

There's an interesting--and inspiring--article by Rich Lowry in Jewish World Review detailing the heroic action of one Marine within Fallujah. His name was Rafael Peralta. The piece explains that he was a Mexican immigrant who joined the Marines immediately upon recieving his green card. Apparently he volunteered for the grim work of house-to-house combat in order to rid Fallujah of its insurgent population. In the process of clearing one house,

...the Marines entered a house and kicked in the doors of two rooms that proved empty. But there was another closed door to an adjoining room. It was unlocked, and Peralta, in the lead, opened it. He was immediately hit with AK-47 fire in his face and upper torso by three insurgents. He fell out of the way into one of the cleared rooms to give his fellow Marines a clear shot at the enemy. During the firefight, a yellow fragmentation grenade flew out of the room, landing near Peralta and several fellow Marines. The uninjured Marines tried to scatter out of the way, two of them trying to escape the room, but were blocked by a locked door. At that point, barely alive, Peralta grabbed the grenade and cradled it to his body.
His body took most of the blast. One Marine was seriously injured, but the rest sustained only minor shrapnel wounds. Cpl. Brannon Dyer told a reporter from the Army Times, "He saved half my fire team."

Not that anything like that is a "ho-hum" kind of matter, but I have read many examples (usually in my World War II magazine) of soldiers doing things for their buddies that people in non-military settings would find impossible to do. In my opinion, those who choose to serve as officers and NCO's in our Armed Forces have natural tendencies towards the ideals of the modern American military: selfless service and leadership by example. One of my main arguments against a universal draft is that those who are made to join the Army are, as a whole, less likely to cotton towards having the Army's ideas and values shoved down their throats. All you get is a resentful conscript who counts the days, hours, and minutes towards the end of his term. On the other hand, a volunteer is likely to have his own personal ethics and spiritual ideals reinforced and strengthened by the leaders--and sometimes subordinates--he encounters along the way. Ergo the supreme military might of the United States.
However, my militaristic fervor aside, Lowry makes an interesting point further down in the article.

Peralta's sacrifice should be a legend in the making. But somehow heroism doesn't get the same traction in our media environment as being a victim or villain, categories that encompass the truly famous Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England respectively.

Hmm. I wonder why that is. As a culture, we have become fixated on the exploits and suffering, respectively, of the evil and the traumatized. There are no reality shows with positive outlooks--all of the are bent on ridiculing or torturing both the unsuspecting and the willing. There is more mention of the tragic aftermath of the tsunami than the millions upon millions of dollars that many countries, most notably the U.S. ("stinginess" be damned) are sending to the afflicted areas. You can blame our (as a whole) morbid fascination with and, yes, even our outright ADMIRATION for the sick, the twisted, and the macabre on many things. I've said for years that we are a jaded culture, and the accusation still stands. Even 9/11 wasn't a good enough wake-up call; we hit the snooze alarm, wished for eight more years of complacency under a Clinton-esque chief executive, and pulled the pillow over our heads to drown out the sound of inbound aircraft engines.
The sacrifices and deaths of America's children--and adopted children, like Sgt. Peralta--will go unnoticed as long as it continues to slumber like Theoden upon his throne. Let us pray for a Gandalf to shake us from our darkened dreams.

Monday, January 10, 2005

I got my first hate comment! Does this make me a true blogger? I thought I needed a cadre of online supporters first, though...K's only one man--an extraordinary one, but I can't expect him to have my back 24/7.
At any rate, I feel empowered. Keep the vitriol coming, people. Don't like me? Get in line. (Just like Soviet Russia.)