Tuesday, January 31, 2006

post the forty-seventh

An actual and not made-up quote from my ultra-conservative education textbook titled The New Tolerance, by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler.

In order to be truly tolerant (according to the new tolerance), you must agree that another person's position is just as valid as your own.
I'm not adding those italics myself - those are actually in the text. Apparently it's a shocking thing that we need to consider that others' points of view may be just as valid as our own.

It gets better, though. The book starts by comparing the new tolerance (relativism, essentially) to the Borg from Star Trek. I share another delightful quote:

The Borg are fictional, of course - the ingenious creation of the minds behind the popular Star Trek television and movie series. But the Borg have a counterpart in contemporary culture. Chances are, it has already infected your community, your schools, your church - even your children. It may already be undermining your own faith and witness. And, if it hasn't already, it could soon begin to influence and infect the ones you love most. And it won't stop until you and your family are totally assimilated.
I actually laughed aloud when I read this, until I realized that the entire book was going to be like this (and it has been, so far). I'm definitely not excited about reading 200 more pages of this drivel. Such is the price of wanting to be a teacher, though. Lucky me.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

post the forty-sixth


Oh, wait...hang on...okay. Never mind. Everything's under control.

I think. I'm pretty sure, at least. We'll see.

Sorry, I've just always wanted to write an irritating post like this where I'm the only one who'll really understand what I'm talking about.

Addendum: Don't worry, all. Everything really is under control. All is well.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

post the forty-fifth

I only had one class today, and it started at 8:00, so I was back home by 9:00. This left me with the entire day to work with. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with it all, and seeing as how it's still only 2:30, I still don't know what I'm going to do with it. If anyone has something they're doing, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know, so I can find something for myself to do.

The real reason I'm writing this is because I was extremely tired this morning, as I stayed up entirely too late talking with Petra last night. I would have told her to go home earlier, but I wasn't terribly motivated to; talking with her is more entertaining than being alert for an education class. Anyhow, I had planned on getting up at the last possible second before class and just stumbling up there. My roommate, who also had a meeting at 8:00, decided to wake me up by leaving my door open this morning as he shaved. As I've mentioned earlier, when I'm running on little sleep, I get extremely irritable. The fact that I had just woken up didn't help anything. He kept trying to wake me up in various ways. I know he was just trying to help and that he didn't want me to be late for my class, but it just served to make me increasingly furious at life. I'd already decided that I was going to be enraged at everything when I woke up. I was tired, and I really didn't want to bother with anything. The only reason I went to class at all was because I had an assignment I had to turn in; were it not for that, I most certainly would have stayed at home and slept all morning.

So I walked up to campus with my roommate, inwardly seething at everything. I hated the way the snow was all slushy. I hated how warm it was. I hated the way drops from the trees would land on my head. However, in the midst of my basking in my own hatred, a friend of Uffish Thought's came up to us and started talking to us. I don't know her all that well, but I knew I couldn't be rude to her, so I had to keep my hatred in check. This only served to make me angrier, because I just wanted to be bitter about everything. Soon enough, we all went our separate ways and I was free to soak up all of my rage again.

I had promised myself earlier that I wouldn't speak during my class. I just wanted to sit there and be furious with life. However, as soon as I got into class, my professor informed us that we would be having small group discussions. This was a bad thing. I knew that I would have to make some sort of comment and do so in a friendly, affable manner, and I really didn't want to. I did my best to appear positive, but as soon as the class was over, I went back to my embittered self. I looked forward to a pleasant hate-filled walk home, but I saw two more people I knew and felt obligated to look cheerful as I saw them walk past.

I took a long nap as soon as I got home, and consequently I feel much better about life now. I just found it remarkable that I couldn't be angry at life despite my decision to be so. The fates have conspired against me to make me cheerful and positive.

Stupid fates.

Monday, January 23, 2006

post the forty-fourth

During work today, I was treated to a discussion about Disney princesses. I'm as much a fan of princesses as the next guy, but this discussion went on for far longer and into far more detail than it should have. One girl in particular mentioned (repeatedly) that she'd planned on being a Disney princess in Disneyland for years. She finally found an internship here at school that would allow her to go, and she talked for nearly an hour about which princess she'd like to play and how taking ballroom dancing classes here might improve her chances of becoming a princess and how she planned on marching right into the Office of Princess Appointments and demanding that they make her Snow White but no one really likes Snow White but all the girls sing her songs anyway blah blah blah blah blah

As you can imagine, this got to me pretty quickly. I kept quiet for most of the day at work. The people I usually talk to weren't there, and so I didn't feel any particular need to open my mouth. Besides, I wanted to concentrate on the music in my head (predictably, Emiliana Torrini, although the Gorillaz made several guest appearances) so I could shut out the soft rock insanity that was playing on the radio.

It takes an experience like this, I think, to really appreciate the fact that we get to choose who we spend the rest of our lives with. I would have likely lost my mind if I were sentenced to spend the rest of my life with Disney Princess Girl. I haven't made up my mind on who I'd like to spend my life with, but I'm pretty sure she's going to be better than that girl.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

post the forty-third

I was walking toward class today after spending a marvelous afternoon with Uffish Thought and ladylondon when I overheard a couple of guys behind me talking. One of them said something so truly bizarre that I had to turn around and look to make sure I'd heard it properly.

"Sweet rhetoric is like a fickle wench," he said.

There are so many things that are odd about that statement that I'm not even sure where to begin. Or whether I should begin, for that matter. I'm not quite certain how one could compare rhetoric (sweet rhetoric, for that matter) and a woman of questionable character. And why "sweet rhetoric," anyway? What gives here?

For what it's worth, I told Robert Poste in my next class, and he felt that they should have replaced "wench" with "bedmistress." I thought it had a nice rhythm to it, too.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

post the forty-second

I'm glad that song generated such a favorable response. Everyone seems to have enjoyed it. I was especially pleased that most of the people I introduced the CD to (a phrase which here means "Petra and lanada") made reference to "Today Has Been Okay". Well done.

Basically, life continues to be good, no matter how hard I try to make it otherwise. Right now I'm sitting at my computer trying to finish my sudoku from earlier today and whistling the theme from The Hudsucker Proxy to myself, although it's getting tangled up a bit with "Today Has Been Okay".

Today has been okay. More days should be like this one, except with more sleep attached to them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

post the fourty-first

I feel the need to share this with all of you.

If you're having a bad day, you need to listen to "Heartstopper," a beautiful song by the talented Emiliana Torrini. I guarantee it will cheer you up and just make you feel better about life.

If you're having a good day, I think you should listen to this song anyway. It's just so sunny and cheerful that you'll have an even better day for listening to it.

If you're having an indifferent day, well, it couldn't hurt you to listen to the song. It's just wonderful. I highly recommend it.

In any case, you can probably find it on iTunes or some other mp3 distribution center, although if you'd like, I could just email it to you. I have it here. My email address is theboardoptimistic at gmail.com. Go ahead and drop me a line and I'll pass it along to you.

Guess which sort of day I'm having today.

Edit: You can check out the video here if you really want to be in a good mood. It's just wonderful. I wish I had a better adjective with which to do it justice; regrettably, I do not.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

post the fourtieth

Truly, a momentous occasion, my fourtieth post. You're all very lucky to be a part of this. Really.

I don't generally make known my opinion on political matters, but I feel strongly enough about this to post about it. Just recently, President Bush gave a speech in which he warned the Democratic party against criticizing the war in Iraq. He specifically said that by criticizing the administration the Democrats were giving "comfort to our enemies" and would accordingly suffer defeat in the coming November elections if they didn't get in line with the administration. Bush stressed that he welcomes debate in the political process; it is, after all, a vital part of the American political system. However, he warned against mentioning things that put the administration in a bad light.

Does this worry anyone else?

When I first read about this, my immediate thoughts were of Joseph McCarthy in 1953. It reminded me of his denouncing enemies as Communists and saying that anyone who defended them must also be Communists. There wasn't a shred of proof to back him up. This situation seems strikingly similar. How can we know that by criticizing the current administration - a government that has repeatedly bungled critical issues, I might add - we give comfort to potential terrorists? Wouldn't they prefer an administration that seems incapable of getting the job done? Wouldn't placing someone else in charge be worrisome to them? The whole thing seems a lot more self-interested than altruistic to me.

The second parallel I saw was to 1984. The Ministry of Truth is out to silence anyone who wants to think otherwise. Blessedly, we still live in a society where you're allowed to think something contrary to what the government wants you to think, but it still worries me. What worries me even more is that this isn't getting more attention than it is. Why aren't thousands of people protesting this? How is it that I'm the only one who picked up on this?

Thus concludes my political rant. I doubt there will be another one of these in the near future. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, January 13, 2006

post the thirty-ninth

Today is my birthday.

No no, hold your applause until the end, if you would.

Most everywhere I go, I find someone else with the same birthday as myself. Today, I was amazed to find someone else who shares my birthday - someone famous, no less. As it turns out, Trogdor, of Homestar Runner fame, has the same birthday as I do. The fine folks at HSR made a short Flash animation for his birthday which may be viewed here. (If you aren't sure who Trogdor is, you may want to view this first.)

I wish I had a Flash animation of my own, but I'm in no mood to be picky. After all, I got to sleep last night, thereby restoring my sanity. Phew!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

post the thirty-eighth

I'd planned on writing a bitter and cynical post today, but I doubt it will come out that way. Somehow, whenever I try to be bitter at the world, I always end up being positive. It's certainly not like I mean to; I just can't help it.

I still can't sleep at night. I got a decent night's sleep Tuesday night, but other than that, it's been a very restless week. I would have thought that I would be able to sleep well if only because I'm usually exhausted when I go to bed. Apparently, such is not the case. For example, I went to bed at 1:00 last night, which, in retrospect, was a poor idea, as I had an 8:00 class the next morning. I was completely exhausted when I got home, having had a blast talking to Uffish Thought and Tolkien Boy for a couple hours. I assumed I'd be able to just fall right asleep.

Instead, I lay in bed for ages, my mind racing. I'm not entirely sure how or why, but it felt like I was still talking to them. We were laughing and watching movies and talking about all sorts of things. I kept thinking to myself, "You know, I really do need to get to sleep," but I stayed and talked with them longer and longer. I'm not sure if I was awake or asleep. It's all very confusing. I think I was awake, because I remember tossing about in my bed, but then again, I can't be entirely certain. Needless to say, my alarm went off entirely too early this morning. I seriously considered blowing off my 8:00 class and sleeping for another hour. As it turned out, my homework (which I hadn't completed, as my book hasn't arrived yet) wasn't due that day, which was a good thing. However, I got to deal with the ultraconservative political agenda of my teacher, which irked me a little. I won't elaborate on it, because I think it's more of a problem of perspective on my side, and writing about it will only solidify it in my mind. That would be a bad thing.

So I'm feeling a little testy today. It's rather uncharacteristic of me, I know, but that's just how things have turned out so far. Hopefully this next class should help me out. After all, it's a class that I've looked forward to for years. The teacher is awesome. Before I go to class, though, I think I'm going to read a bit from the Book of Mormon. That book never fails to restore my optimism. If you're ever feeling down, I suggest you try it out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

post the thirty-seventh

I've been back in classes for two days now, and I already feel entirely unmotivated and exhausted. Boy, this semester is shaping up to be an awesome one.

That confuses me a little, because I'm in so many interesting classes. I'm down to take a class on the history of Soviet Russia, a class that I've wanted to take since I was a freshman. It finally fit in my schedule, and I've been looking forward to it for a while. I'm also in a class on the history of pop culture in America, which has been immensely interesting.

Maybe it's just that I've been so tired lately. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since I've been home, and it certainly hasn't been from staying up too late, as was the problem last semester. Rather, I've been going to bed plenty early and laying awake in bed for ages, wondering when my mind is going to calm down so I can get to sleep. Thinking has long been a problem in my life. Perhaps I should have made a resolution this year to do less of it. That might set me right.

In somewhat unrelated news, I have the pictures from my earlier stereo-smashing escapade. I shall post them for you now.

This is my youngest brother holding the stereo. The amazing thing is that the stereo properly functioned in this state. He could listen to CDs and everything. Granted, the speakers didn't work, so he just used his headphones and turned them up all the way. I no longer wonder how he manages to go through several pairs of headphones a year. They probably all just get blown out.

You may notice me standing next to him, sporting some extremely stylish white tennis shoes.

At this point, we are go for launch. You can plainly see how excited he is about the impending doom of this this stereo. It's been a while in the making.

Pictured here is the moment of impact with the street. We even had several cameras involved so that we could ensure the preservation of this moment on film. The effect created with the bit of plastic flying out at you in the foreground is rather impressive, if I do say so myself.

Here we have the aftermath of the collision with the street. I thought for certain that the stereo wouldn't survive the episode intact (or, at least, in one piece), but its resilience surprised us. Such insolence could not go unpunished. As you might imagine, we simply had to go for a second round.

Here's what was left of the stereo after Round 2. Though it may be a bit difficult to tell, the stereo is definitely no longer in one piece. These pieces were ceremoniously gathered and buried in the garbage can. Thus ended another wonderful Christmas at the Optimistic household.

So merry start of the year, dear readers. Hope things go well for you all.

Friday, January 06, 2006

post the thirty-sixth

I got to sit in on another class today - this time I visited a different high school and sat in on a Japanese class. I never got to take Japanese in high school, as I didn't have any particular interest in the language or the country until it was thrust on me all of a sudden four years ago. Everything seemed like it was run like any other foreign language class at that level would be. Everyone introduced themselves with the standard cookie-cutter introduction (Hello, nice to meet you. My name is [name]. I am [number] years old. In my free time, I [verb].), and I responded by smiling politely and nodding my head. The teacher then asked if the class had any questions for either myself or the other visitor to the class, a college freshman who evidently had taken the class the year before and was back to see all his friends. One student raised his hand and asked me, "Nan doshi desu ka?"

I didn't bother to include a translation for you because I myself had no idea what this guy was asking me. All sorts of words and phrases ran through my head, but none of them made any sense to me. The kid next to me leaned over and asked, "Do you know what he's asking you?" in what seemed like a fairly condescending manner to me. After all, the extent of his Japanese was limited to two years in high school, whereas I lived there for two years and took another year and a half of classes at the college level. The nerve!

Evidently the questioner was asking me in which year I was born. Not only did I not know, but even if I did, I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to say it in Japanese. Apparently that's one of the cookie-cutter questions that they learn in class, but as I had never been in a situation that would have required me to know how to say which year I was born in, I had no idea what to do. I looked like an idiot in front of a bunch of fifteen-year olds, but what was even worse is that the freshman next to me did his best to translate everything for me from then on. Wonderful.

The class was pretty cool, though. It was helpful for me to see what sorts of things I'll potentially have to do as a language instructor, as well as the sort of kids I'll be dealing with. There was a kid at the table I was sitting at who was wearing all black and refused to speak to anyone for half the class. However, when we started doing calligraphy, we connected when I found he had really good form. It was pretty cool. Now I remember why I want to be a teacher.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

post the thirty-fifth

With a few days yet until I return to school and everyone else in my family gone all day at school or work, I've been forced to turn to alternate means of passing the time. One can only spend so much time on the Internet or solving sudoku or reading books. Eventually you need to get out and do something.

As I'm studying to be a teacher someday and my mom is currently a teacher, she set up an appointment for me to pop in on one of my old teachers and observe him teaching for a day. It was a lot of fun; I learned a lot about how to solve different classroom management situations and how to present oneself and the material to a class. However, I think the most interesting part of my venture back to high school was simply being around high school students again. Things didn't seem quite so stupid to me when I was one of them.

One of the classes I sat in on was a speech class for freshmen. I was treated to a conversation between two young women, probably about fourteen years of age, about their dating woes and being grounded before class started. Apparently one of them wasn't allowed by her parents to seriously date boys until she was sixteen and had been grounded from "everything" for having violated that rule. To hear her tell it, her parents forbade her from speaking on the phone (which had been locked in her mother's closet), listening to music, watching television, and was only permitted to do homework at home. "If I finish it all, they make more," she complained.

However, despite the freakish brutality inflicted on her by her parents, her man was sticking with her. It didn't matter to him that they couldn't date until she was sixteen. He would never forget her. "I'll even wait for you until you're eighteen," he reportedly said. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I think she took it as a testament of his devotion. Not even grounding can come between them. Truly a touching story.

I was pleased to see that she was told off during class for sitting in someone else's seat and talking to the girl she had been conversing with before class. Ah, high school. Heady days, they were.