Monday, January 31, 2005

Major Major Major Major

Why, if research methods, a required class for psychology majors that is dedicated to the structure and execution of experiments, is a prerequisite for most higher-level psychology classes, does every class I'm in spend time going over the meaning of an independent variable?

>>>
If I were Professor D. teaching a 4000 level class, and the textbook I used found it necessary to define terms like "independent variable," I would make a white slide in my powerpoint presentation, put the words INDEPENDENT VARIABLE in big, red, gothic-styled lettering, dripping with blood, and just ask "Does anyone in this class not know what this means?" (stating it in a manner that would make it obvious that anyone who didn't shouldn't raise their hand anyway). Of course, that one kid would raise his hand, and I would have to say "See me after class" and ask him "Are you a psychology major?" Naturally, he would be, and then I'd have to recommend to him that he drop the program and find a new calling for his life. I would have to stop him from attending my class. And the faculty would praise me for my efficient methods.
<<<

Considerations (in order of likelihood) for my second major include (notice the correct absence of a colon here)

Latin
English Literature
Classical Languages, Literature and Civilization (would require a bit more work than Latin, but would probably be more prestigious)
History?
American and Florida Studies (...meh)
Textiles

and minors in Linguistics and whatever else.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

No longer hailing from the College of Undecided.

Just because I have nothing to write about doesn't mean I won't write. How foolish of you to think so. Plus I need to practice putting only one space after the periods in my sentences. For journalistic purposes.

I went to a meeting for new writers for the FSView today. It was pretty boring. Just procedural things. Seems to be like something worthwhile, though. The cool part was that they're open to suggestions on topics and are lenient about the workload. Plus I won't really need to go anywhere, just send emails. Technology, man. I know, right?

I saw Raising Arizona last night when we went out to see Sideways, but ran late looking for this place to eat and whatnot, and... rented Raising Arizona. It was a pretty entertaining movie. It's no Big Lebowski, but then again, what is?

I am pleasantly optimistic about Weezer's fifth studio full-length release. It does not have a release date yet, but is in post-production, and the first single is almost definitively set for release on March 21st, 2005. Meaning the album can't be that much later. Oh, then touring...

I am, physically, completely over the sickness that befell me Monday. Its only lingering effects are the thoughts considered during my two-day bedrest: the possible uses I could have for a B.S. in Psychology in two years, and the efficacy of my college classes in general. Thoughts of career choices and mortality, relationships and purpose pervaded my being. You know, all the big hitters of consideration that I float around all the time.

And I went shopping for shoes. I can't find any that say what I want them to say, so I bought none. I will tirelessly continue my search.

Should I go see the Toasters tomorrow?

Should I even study for any of my tests? Pssh.

I've got a number of irrational fears
That I'd like to share with you

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sleep

I've been awake for about 33 hours now. Well, I guess that's not true, I did sleep somewhere between 7:09 and 8:13 AM this morning...

No reason, just insomnia. Well, I did stay up til 3 reading Latin. But it was still insomnia those other 5 hours. Then I did a lot of stuff today and didn't eat anything except a nectarine and a plum until 5:30 PM today. It seems I'm getting back at my body for that wretched day of vomiting...

Now, I gave it to Matt. Geez.

/Signing off.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Song #2 (Woo-hoo)

Nothing's Changed

It's so hard to say...
What's stayed the same?
And what's found a way
To change?

I'm back in town today,
I'm perfectly, perfectly okay.
It's just hard to say
That I've lost my way.

It's so surreal coming back to this place
Without you by my side.
I can't believe you're saving face;
Your conscience says it's alright.
You fell in a crumple at my door,
That fine December Tuesday night.
Said that you found yourself a more
Stable relationship.

Yesterday, I took a walk outside,
Found the path that you chose that night
Of our big fight-
It was quite a sight.
You shed some tears, I tried to
Shed some light into your eyes.
They're full of lies,
No surprise.

It's so surreal coming back to this place
Without you by my side.
I can't believe you're saving face;
Your conscience says it's alright.
You fell in a crumple at my door,
That fine December Tuesday night.
Said that you found yourself a more
Stable relationship.

No, no, you're just fooling yourself now.
No, no, you're preaching to the choir.

It's so surreal coming back to this place
Without you by my side.
I can't believe you're saving face;
Your conscience says it's alright.
You fell in a crumple at my door,
That fine December Tuesday night.
Said that you found yourself a more
Stable relationship.

***
For those of you who can't stream well, we'll have our demo finished relatively soon, as we have everything recorded now (just not all mixed).

Sincerely,
Letters to the Editor

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sickness.

I used to really appreciate my theory on ultimate balance in the universe- part of it emphasizes the need to have awful experiences in order to enjoy the really good ones. I think I still appreciate it- except when the bad ones are happening.

I think you'll all enjoy this one:

I vomited.
Six times.

When I got back from one of my classes, I laid down to get a nap in, and when I woke up, I had this potent, golf-ball sized, sphere of nausea/pain right in the middle of my stomach. It wouldn't go away, and when I got up to go to my next class, I realized that I shouldn't. Then, 30 minutes later were vomits #s 1-2. The worst part is the anticipation. #s 3-4 were by far the worst, separated by a few agonizing minutes sprawled on the bathroom floor. I couldn't figure it out- all I had to eat today for lunch was a can of soup, crackers, and some juice. So, after vomit four, I was feeling slightly better (as always happens), and I assumed it was over.

Nope. Vomits 5 + 6 were bad because I didn't have much food left in my stomach. Just some really forceful heaves and 2-3 ounces of material.

In the midst of it, I thought about various things: I could now not say that I've never vomited outside of illness (however, I'm not sure that I don't have a flu or something); I haven't vomited more than 6 times cumulatively throughout my life, much less on one day; and, they should use stomach illnesses as a form of interrogation and torture. Wait, I'm sure they do.

All I've safely consumed today was two precious nectarines. So, stop your belly-aching everyone (ha, good pun, Justin).

Number of times the word "vomit" appeared in this post: seven.

No.

Email subject: "DIS Help!"

Hey everyone,

I'm one of your fellow DIS-ers and I have a slight issue. I didn't
realize until I checked the schedule right now that I work at 9:00 am
tomorrow. Tomorrow is my 21st birthday and I was planning on going out
tonight at midnight to celebrate. If anyone would find it in their heart
to maybe switch hours with me I would so greatly appreciate it. I know
this is short notice, so thanks so much.
Stephanie F.


My fictitious email response:

Email subject: "Re: DIS Help! ...awwww"

Sadly, I have a class to attend in the morning tomorrow. Otherwise, I would gladly help you shirk responsibilities because you feel the need to celebrate (on a Sunday night, no less) attaining the arbitrary, socially-supplied age at which you're legally able to participate in activities in which you obviously have already participated.

The world does not stop and start at your convenience.


Note: I'm not really this bitter. I just enjoy thinking about people reaching the age of "adulthood" and "responsibilities" in a whirling, mindless stupor.

Short CD Review.

The Features Exhibit A
2004 Universal Records

It was very logical that the first release from The Features, an independently released EP, was titled The Beginning. Now, with Exhibit A, their first full-length release, The Features provide a stunning defense for their entrance into the modern music scene.

The first three songs of Exhibit A explode with energy, carrying the listener along with infectious guitar riffs, a banging rhythm section, and eerie, quirky keyboards that combine elements not usually found in the recent wave of retro-influenced rock groups. The versatility of The Features is then displayed on the track “Blow It Out,” a simple, polished straight-up pop rock song that contrasts with the opening tracks of garage rock. With twelve songs, Exhibit A avoids monotony through The Features’ subtle incorporation of differing musical styles into their main sound. Songs include sections of disco-beats, garage rock, swing, and pop rock, with numerous shades in-between, that are musically diverse enough to keep the songs fresh through repeated listenings, but unified enough to express a unique style for this new band trying to find a niche in the music scene.

Singer Matthew Pelham does an impressive job with his delivery throughout all of the songs on Exhibit A; he applies a quivering, near-shouting, voice to the rougher musical areas (such as “Exorcising Demons,” and “Exhibit A”), while allowing a smooth, lilting croon to carry musical ballads like “Blow It Out” and “The Idea of Growing Old”. His approach to singing is very sensitive to the mood that the music evokes and complements the diversity of musical styles that The Features display.

Ultimately, The Features make a good name for themselves on Exhibit A. They have a knack for using a variety of musical styles to express themselves, and seem to be very mature in their development as songwriters for their first full-length release.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Best College Decision Ever (Reason # 337654).

Sometimes thumbing through the "Rock Budget" used CDs section of your local waycool Vinyl Fever establishment for the thirty minutes before you hear a set from Camper van Beethoven is rewarding.

I heard a few clips from this group online last month, and the only thing I remembered about them was that the clips didn't suck and their website was set up with a nautical-type map. That last part was what stuck with me, and when I saw this disc with an island and water on the front, it caught my attention. I was confused, because I knew this disc just came out. So I bought it. $3.99 for The Features' Exhibit A, which turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. There's not really anything bad I can say about it. Nothing really new going on, and they summon some spirits from the past, but it's really just a jolly good time.

Then, Camper van Beethoven played, and it was cool.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Seinfeld.

Phenomenal writing:

George: My dream is to become hopeless. When you're hopeless, you don't care about anything. You become indifferent, and that makes you attractrive.
Jerry: So, the key is hopelessness.
George: That's my only hope.

Elaine: You know what's wrong with you? Your standards are too high.
Jerry: I went out with you.
Elaine: That's because my standards are too low.

George: What kind of hair?
Jerry: Long, dark hair.
George: Is it Flowing?
Jerry: Flowing?
George: Thick, lusterous hair is very important to me.
...If you stick your hand in the hair, is it easy to get it out?
Jerry: Do you wanna be able to get it out, or do you not want to be able to get it out?
George: I think I'll want to be able to get it out

George: What about the skin? Cheeks are very important to me. Is there a pinkish hue?
Jerry: A pinkish hue?
George: Yes, a rosy glow.
Jerry: There's a hue.

Jason.

Note: Friday the 13th (Part One) wasn't the cinematic classic I figured it was. Jason isn't even the villain in this one.

Parts two and three are much worse. Part two has a 7 minute opening "summary" of part one that consists of a string of clips ripped from the first film. Part three has a similar 7 minute intro that takes the last scenes of part two, unedited, and presents them as a summary of everything that has happened in the series so far. First of all, anyone who hasn't seen Friday the 13th Parts one or two, and decides to watch the third part anyway will not understand anything of what is happening for the first ten minutes. This feeling of confusion will extend into the following 20 minutes that depict a scene with an adult couple that has nothing to do with any other part of the movie or series and is really not that exciting at all.

Doesn't look like 4-10 will be getting much better.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

It's, uh, down there somewhere. Lemme take another look.

LEBOWSKI
It's funny. I can look back on a life of achievement, on challenges met, competitors bested, obstacles overcome. I've accomplished more than most men, and without the use of my legs. What. . . What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski?

DUDE
Dude.

LEBOWSKI
Huh?

DUDE
I don't know, sir.

When I look back on the things I've done, I'm usually impressed with them. But while I'm doing things, I'm usually not too impressed with what I'm doing. I guess this is a good thing. The way I work is basically just forge forward, reflect later (in most areas of my life), and this has garnered some rather enjoyable experiences without my conscious effort. But then I wonder if I actually planned out things and executed and analyzed things at the same time, could it be that much better? I've found that even if I get more involved with different things that I can handle everything pretty much the same as if I were involved in only one or two things at a time. Which leads me to the question- where's my threshold? Could I be accomplishing so much more without knowing it? I always think I could do things better, and I rarely ever confess that I did my best job on something, which leaves room for the reasoning "well, I could have tried harder". The opposing question that arises is "well, do I really want to know where my threshold is?," because then I would "know" my limitations and might start saying "well, I've already seen that I can't do ______, so why try again?".

Inevitably, the opposing forces of reasoning balance out in my head and I'm left with an equilibrium that is almost comforting. Just keep on keeping on, I guess...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Form Letter.

Dear Ms. De La Cruz:

Congratulations! You have met the requirements for admission to the Psychology major...


This seemingly innocuous typographical error didn't really restore my faith in the Psychology program here. Made me rethink my major (again); but, as I've said before, I'm already nearly done with this, so it's not really beneficial/efficient for me to change now.

On the plus side, some of my boring classes are turning out to be not-so-boring. And financial aid came in.

We have a nice, overcast, gloomy, breezy day today. Seems about right.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Catullus.

I just translated a 2000-year-old lament for a dead sparrow.

...
o factum male! o miselle passer!
tua nunc opera meae puellae
flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.


"Oh, evil doings! Oh, wretched little sparrow!
Now, because of you, my girl's
Swollen little eyes are red from weeping."

I feel smarter already.

No, but seriously, this ancient poetry stuff is pretty cool; it's good to know that despite technological advances, people are going through the same situations and emotions today as they were in Catullus' time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

My Potpourri Post.

First, Props

Props to Mr. Schmeichel, my General Psychology Grad-student instructor from last semester, for remembering my name and enjoying that smoke on the steps of the Psychology building like the rebellious youth from the 80s we all know you are.

Additional props go to Ray Tomlinson, forgotten inventor of the electronic mail message. I rather enjoy email.

Perculiar Combinations

Penne Pasta + Crushed Cheez-Its.

Sandwich + Tangy Tomato Bacon salad dressing.

Barbeque Sauce + Anything.

thefacebookdotcom

Whoa, Olivia H.? What's that... 8 years since I've attended elementary school? Whoa/cool.

And as for all you "I went to the same high school as you plus or minus 2 years" people who solicit invites to me, well, I'll list you, but don't think anything of it. I know I don't.

[rant]This is part of the reason I avoided this thefacebook service; everyone was jumping on the facebook and it seems like such an ego booster, oooh, add friends, hundreds of people, blah. Although it has its moments (seeing a snapshot of what your former/distant friends are doing at the moment), much of it is just so much ... superficialegotisticalI'msogreateveryonelovesme fodder.[/rant]

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sun King

Cuando para mucho mi amore de felice carathon
Mundo paparazzi mi amore chicka ferdi parasol
Cuesto abrigado tanta mucho que canite carousel


I need to pay more attention to the Beatles. Yeah, well... you know what I mean.

When I listened through Abbey Road again, I got to this part of Sun King and was interested. So I looked it up. Then I was even more interested, because it doesn't mean anything.

JOHN: [On Sun King] When we came to sing it, to make them different we started joking, saying "cuando para mucho'. We just made it up. Paul knew a few Spanish words from school, so we just strung any Spanish words that sounded vaguely like something.

And of course we got "chicka ferdi' รค that's a Liverpool expression; it doesn't mean anything, just like "ha ha ha'. One we missed: we could have had "para noia', but we forgot all about it. We used to call ourselves Los Para Noias.


I'm gonna go ahead and believe and thank this Botley character on the above quote (his comment was found when I searched for comments on Sun King, ... even though it was on a Pink Floyd message board...).

This subject interests me since some-of-the-times I start writing songs with the music and singing nonsense syllables over top of the chords to get the melody and flow of consonants/vowels/ryhmes in place, then I go back and write lyrics. Sometimes inane words or phrases come out in this stage of the song writing and sometimes I keep them, just because (in my mind) they fit so well (Death and Destruction [from Maladroit] was worked through this way- Rivers has said that he just went in and started singing and recorded the first words he produced).

What if people can respond simply to syllables strung together, without having any need to write any real words over music? (Mira comes to mind here.)

She's so ... heeeeaaaaavy

A Psychology Major.

It's the end of something I did not want to end, beginning of hard times to come. But something that was not meant to be is done, and this is the start of what was.

This is the first semester I've started at FSU with a declared major. Since I passed General Psychology and Intro to Statistics, they admitted me to the major. But it's not like I can say something like "there's no turning back now," because I have another two years here; although, considering my current courseload, it would be futile to change majors (I'll probably get done with this one this fall).

One of the aspects of high school I really enjoyed was the opportunity to investigate various fields of study at their (relatively) upper echelons. That is, I could study calculus, advanced Latin, the English language, and music simultaneously. This whole specifying a major field of research is kind of limiting for me- if I enjoy studying all those things, why can't I keep doing that? Well, the answer is that I can, it will just be expensive and time-consuming with almost no practical long-term benefits.

In just one half week of classes, I've had the opportunity to assess things concerning the rest of this semester.

Introduction to Latin: Mostly independent work (translations prepared in advance) with a quirky instructor that I was all-too-entirely not surprised was teaching a course like this. Her laid-back attitude was a main part of the reason I decided not to do the "right" thing and take the Latin placement test at FSU, but just signed up for this class, which is what I believe to be at my level of ability. This'll show 'em for not accepting my SAT II score in Latin.

Research Methods in Psychology: This is one of those common knowledge classes that's a requirement for the major for all those people that believe studies and all experiment results without question. As I've already learned, people lie, and stuff doesn't always turn out like you expect it would. So, I'm guessing this will turn out to be a class to join the ranks of Intro to Stats (hopefully the statement "stuff doesn't always turn out like you expect it would" will apply to this prediction). Essentially, a pushover.

Psychology of Personality: This guy is funny. He's gonna do all lectures, with no pictures or powerpoints. I think I will learn a moderate amount of information from this course, though the topics presented aren't exactly what I initially thought would be in a course with this title.

Abnormal Psychology: I guess this will be cool too. On the first day, I had to snicker every so often because the professor was such the typical old-man-with-monotone-voice-and-use-of-big-words that you see in the movies and whatsuch. I guess I will learn some stuff in this one too, and I should enjoy reading the textbook.

DIS in Zwaan Language and Perception Lab: We haven't yet met to start running experiments, but based on last semester, I can predict this will be a good 6-8 hours a week in the lab that I can use to read again. Sure, it's not glamorous, but sometimes they give me food, and I get to see a lot of people who are taking General Psychology, and get to make fun of a lot of people who are taking General Psychology.

I'm gonna go ahead and give this semester's classes a good 6.5 out of a possible 10 points. A couple of those points reflect the nice colors of my textbooks- they're all pretty, soothing shades of blue (the Latin book is more greenish/aqua, but it works).

And your idols - who are they? They too dreamt about their day, positive steps will see your goals.

Yeah, and Brandon, I'm still laughing at "And don't forget the Twizzlers."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Dear JUSTIN DE LA CRUZ:

In response to your request for tickets to Saturday Night Live, we are pleased to inform you that we are holding two tickets for the above reservation. PRESENTATION OF THIS LETTER IS REQUIRED TO CLAIM YOUR TICKETS. Lines form in the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Please enter from the 49th street entrance and ask the NBC Pages for "Ryan's Line". Please note that arriving after the above-mentioned arrival time could nullify this reservation.

My sister won tickets to SNL in the fall, and I flew to New York one weekend to see a taping. This time it's a dress rehearsal performance (which, if I recall correctly is actually 2 hours long, and taped) on May 7th. Although we get out by the end of April, I don't know if I'll capitalize on this venture- I guess I'll wait out until I find out who's hosting and the musical guest. I was really suprised to get the email (and phone message) regarding this; almost certainly the omen of a good semester to come.

Garden State (aka movie #1 this semester)

I realized tonight that sometimes I don't enjoy seeing a lot of good movies one right after another. I guess it follows that whole philosophy that without failures we don't appreciate our successes. When I saw Garden State tonight, I really enjoyed watching and experiencing it. But immediately afterwards it felt necessary to disregard parts of it (e.g. the ending) as being too sappy. Then I realized that it wasn't.

The stunning ability of the opening shots to set a mood and reflect character were almost thrown away by me as being obvious and unoriginal. Then I remembered movies like "The Flight of the Phoenix" and the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and I immediately scrapped my disapproving attitude. I can now rationalize paying to see all those bad movies over the years- it makes experiences like Lost in Translation and Garden State so much better remembering all of the average material that comes out all the time.

This was the third movie I'd seen with Natalie Portman in it. And I must say, I was impressed. The two Star Wars prequels, in my opinion, didn't allow her to show off her skills as much as the nature of her role in Garden State. Ebert makes a good point:
She is Sam (Natalie Portman), a local girl who is one of those creatures you sometimes find in the movies, a girl who is completely available, absolutely desirable and really likes you. Portman's success in creating this character is all the more impressive because we learn almost nothing about her, except that she's great to look at and has those positive attributes.

I immensely enjoyed the direction (Zach Braff's only 29 years old! And he wrote, directed, starred in, and hand picked the soundtrack for Garden State), cinematography, acting, and script. Nothing really happens, but it's not hard to get caught up in the moment, follow the meandering adventures, and realize there was a certain knack to the piecing together afterall. This effect appears in two other great films- Lost in Translation and The Big Lebowski- to varying degrees.

So, now I guess I need to watch a few bad movies to balance it out now... Soul Plane anyone?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Cell Phone Conversations Part 1

As I rejoin the masses on campus, I find numerous chances to overhear people speaking loudly into their cellular telephones. I've only heard two so far today:

"My English teacher is soo hot. Yeah, I walked in and then this guy walked in behind me, and I was like... he is so hot! He's the teacher! This is gonna be a good class. Except it's at 9 in the morning."

"I'm in intro to theater, we learn about plays and stuff."

Yeah, well, these conversation tidbits aren't that exciting, but I felt like posting about the first day of school and this was all I could think of. I plan on making this a recurring feature, as I've heard many funny things from this that I should have written down before.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

SLC @ the SLB, man.

I knew a few good movies were coming up. Now I have the list. Here are some highlights:

Garden State
Animal House
Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow
Alice in Wonderland
Stepford Wives (remake)
Hero
Goodbye, Lenin!
Ray
Jackie Brown
Casablanca
Shaun of the Dead
Clue
I Heart Huckabees
Silence of the Lambs

Yeah, those are just the highlights. They have 33 movies listed (of which, I've only seen 5)... and that's just up until February 28th. I won't proclaim anything at this point, but there are rumors that I'm thinking about watching every movie they're showing this semester. I think I'll start going to the film committee meetings, too.

With this and the CDU schedule, I have my work cut out for me. And then there are those pesky classes...

Back in town today, and I'm perfectly, perfectly okay.

I received that same strange feeling of distant recognition previously discussed when I made it into T-tilly-tally-sass-ville today. As soon as I was in range, I cranked the radio to 89.7 WVFS, The Voice of Florida State. I head this crazy drone that sounded like someone sat on a few keyboard keys with distortion on and this faint hum/drone whistle that came in and out of auditory perception every few seconds. It stayed with the same notes pressed down for a good three minutes, and I knew I was back (I think the DJ said it was by somebody/group called "growing"- I could be wrong). When I got into town, the moment I turn off the air and roll down the windows, I hear firetruck sirens.

Theo, my Asian RA, put up pictures of the same two football guys on every door, writing the residents' names on them.

Then, thefacebook.com... Yeah, I got a profile there. What? Wanna fight about it?

***

My classes, you ask? The whole reason I'm back in Tallahassee? College education? Yeah, I guess they're gonna be cool. /Not too worried about it. Not too stoked about it either. Well, there you go.