Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

The “V” in Vermont stands for Vacation

 

 

Snowing for 3 days straight

Snowing for 3 days straight

Random Observation/Comment #119: When I was growing up, I’ve always felt awkward addressing elders.  I was taught to refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so, but it was always received with really weird looks.  I could imagine how much this makes the parent feel so much older than they want to.  If I were called mister right now, I’m not sure if I’d be sad or angry.  Most probably, I would freeze and reflect on an old memory.  I would travel back to that time I first called a friend’s Dad, “Mister.”  He smiled, but said in a very serious voice, “We’re going to have a problem if you keep calling me by my dad’s name.  Call me Stu.”  It was scary, yet an epic moment in my life.  I will most probably adopt this concept when (or if) I grow up.  Parents are a little more flexible, but then what about grandparents?  I feel like their generation would appreciate the formalities, but on the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice if I could also call them grandma and grandpa?  They’ve been such good hosts that I feel like I’m part of the family, but when is it okay to cross that boundary with those words?  Am I intruding into another person’s family?  I think I could be hanged for high treason in friendship-terms, if this were the case.  I guess now that I’m passed 20, I should take on the more mature role of speaking on even ground.  Calling someone by their first name seems neutral and probably not over-analyzed.  To me, I just want it to convey the fact that I’m asserting a balanced friendship of peers.  Interestingly enough, if we all age at the same rate, then that must mean that the age range of peers begins to increase as you get older.  Will there be a time where I can consider my parents a part of my peers?  I would probably be using it for stature and mentality instead of age group.  Maybe I’ve just given all this way too much thought.  Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Grandparents.

 

The long weekend of skiing and lounging was everything I hoped it would be.  My thighs were sore and the small blister on my foot showed no mercy.  I couldn’t lift my arms above shoulder-height and I literally (well not literally) felt the fat accumulate as I lazed in front of the television.  We watched the food network and fell asleep in the middle of Iron Chef.  If we were conscious, it could have constituted as a homosexual moment.  A few pillows separated between James’ head and Jake’s ass, and a sofa cushion separated between my head and James’ ass.  Imagine, if you will, a chain of completely exhausted men snoring like babies.  I bet it would look much cuter if we were all little, fluffy puppies.  It’s alright; I think someone called “no homo.”

I don’t remember the last time I sat on the couch and just watched movies without a worry on my mind.  We had no desire to do anything or go anywhere.  It was just beautiful being a couch potato.  Long hours typing away in front of the computer has left me begging for some horizontal time on a nice couch.  I brought my laptop with me to Vermont, but the urge to take it out of my bag for writing entries or working on my thesis had been replaced with an excruciating amount of sloth.  I was so lazy, I didn’t even analyze each movie’s underlying message to the public.  It’s been a hobby of mine to step into the director’s and producer’s train of thought.  I wonder about the camera angles and try to reason why different scenes were done that specific way.  With some practice, it’s easy to see the subtle foreshadowing or an emphasis on the movie’s life-advice to the viewers.  In fact, I judge much of the movie’s awesome-ness or sucki-ness by these qualities.  I take the movie for its intended role; in other words, not all genres should be judged with the same eye.  Anyway, after watching 5 movies over the weekend, I left with very little opinion of the movie’s quality.  I could say that it was funny and enjoyable to watch, but the small details I usually notice just faded with complete blackouts in my memory. 

The vacation from my work became a vacation from my mind.  I reacted to this ongoing observation much differently than I first perceived.  At first, I thought I needed a vacation away from thinking about the simulations on my thesis and racing against deadlines to have a fulfilling life, but now I see that my busy nights and days kept my brain alive.  I admit that I was a little exhausted from the over-exertion, but the under-exertion from a brain-numb vacation was not my solution either.  In fact, I found that I rather have a tired brain than a useless one. 

To all extremes, the over-usage and under-usage of the mind is unhealthy.  The balance must be met at a healthy dosage with what I see as an “Asteroids problem.”  That arcade game’s ship was difficult to maneuver due to the single thruster and a body that maintained its momentum.  To steer more accurately, small thruster bursts would be needed to keep the ship steady while avoiding hazards.  With my mind, this works on the same 2D plane, but each side represents a section of a pie chart separating the important functions of the mind.  A boost in one direction may steer off-course, therefore a balancing boost in the opposite direction is needed to successfully complete tasks.  At the end of the day, you want to stay in the center to reduce stress, but often we’re drifting in one sector more than another.  As a solution, we need to find the type of balance booster activities that fit our stress.  A vacation lounging on a couch or on a beach should not solve every stress problem.

I have not clearly identified the sectors in my mind’s pie chart, nor have I found the different types of vacations that balance these stresses, but I suspect that this concept is a reasonable way to reduce stress.  Every brain has different preferences, so this is in no way a guide to help cure any problems.  Take this as just simple advice: Pay attention to your life to find happiness and maintain healthiness.  I look forward to taking more vacations to find what replenishes the most energy.

~See Lemons Escaping Reality

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A day of Counter Strike

 

 

knife headshot

knife headshot

Random Observation/Comment #118:  I used to be awesome at CS.  I still am, but I used to be too.

 

I remember when I started playing beta 7 about 9 years ago with a dialup modem and trackball mouse.  I lagged like crazy with 300+ ping, and I would always get spikes when my mom got a phone call.  Whenever I had extra time, I took a trip to Flushing Net Zero internet LAN to play on their private servers.  The people that played there were ridiculously good, but at least the equally low ping evened the playing grounds.

Skitz was a force that was feared and well-known (even to a new random classmate from Cooper).  I downloaded new skins for the weapons and characters, and took screenshots of top scores.  These trophy pictures were sent between friends on AIM, and we scheduled the best times to play on fy_servers.  All the maps were memorized after a few rounds and I found almost all of the easter eggs that were left strewn throughout the level by the developers. 

I remember all those clans I joined that gained ranking and practiced these extremely nerdy techniques.  We used headsets and secret codes for sets of executed plans per map.  Simple tactics like “Rush A” and “Hold the bridge while we flank their rushes” were easily seen through.  We’d say things like “execute plan B” and “reroute to plan D.”  Each command was executed professionally and it really immersed me in that counter terrorist force persona.  These didn’t really work exactly as planned every time, but it was fun taking a few things seriously. 

The attacking team (Terrorists in DE_ bombing maps and Counter Terrorists in CS_ hostage rescue maps) led every round.  The defending team usually just tried to protect the designated zones and run the clock out.  The best clans were the ones that followed the rules.  Noobs that called the Terrorists waiting at the hostages as “camping” were frustrated for not being able to kill a completely fortified area.  You’d be surprised how much a few flash, smoke, and frag grenades could ruin their predictable spots.  If you’re asking for deathmatch with no technique and continuous respawn, you would not fit into the clan-battling strategic teamplay, and you should probably play a different first person shooter.  Unfortunately, a majority of the servers are filled with trigger happy fools that rush into every situation alone.  Rambo does not win in these situations. 

I would race home to play tournaments on those password blocked servers, and official rules would commence.  Version 1.3 was still one of my favorites because they hadn’t fixed the bunny hopping, continuous jump ducking, or predictable spread when you keep the trigger held down.  The game was flawed, but I had fun taking advantage of it on public servers.  After a while of playing those strict games, I moved towards the quick skirmishes.  I couldn’t spend every day fixed to a schedule playing this time intensive and horribly addicting game.  Instead of those organized matches, I began playing different mods like Gungame, Deathmatch, Warcraft, and Superheroes.  My attention-span adjusted to a more fast-paced world.  Games changed to what they should have always been taken as – just a game.  It became a source of stress release instead of a fixation on improvement.

After I went to college and my family got rid of our cable modem, I stopped playing.  Many of the servers were blocked from the dorms and I didn’t have the time to get that LCD screen tan.  That whole girlfriend thing also became a big part of it.  I think human interaction and a social life pulled me out of that phase and into reality.  Hmm… sometimes I wish I didn’t take the red pill.

~See Lemons Counter Strikes

jake watching skitz headshot knife

jake watching skitz headshot knife

We’re Always Getting Older, but always young at heart

 

 

I love those puppies.

I love those puppies.

Random Observation/Comment #117: I passed my birthday doing what I had missed most from my high school years. Yes, I played (and pwned) at Counter Strike.  Since this was such a large part of my childhood, I will dedicate an entry to this separately.

 

I went through a few phases in my life where I pondered my birthday’s timing.  I wondered whether or not I was gifted or cursed with my birthday being so close to the holiday season.

When I was in elementary school, I loved a Christmas Eve birthday because I would always be on vacation, and there would always be snow on the ground.  I remember the blizzard of ’93 when I played in the three feet with my little plastic sandwich bags lining the small mittens and a long hat that dragged behind me.  I dug an ice cave and crawled through my little world.  I think I got stuck when the walls collapsed.  It was as good of a time as any to learn about structural engineering.  Luckily, I loved eating snow and eventually found my way out of the mess.  You can picture the scene with a little, chibby Clemens jumping headfirst into the fluffy snow with his small feet moving back and forth, struggling to get out.  I had such a fun time swimming in the snow and building a zoo on front of the lawn.  My mother made snow people (we’re Politically Correct Chinamen), caterpillars, rabbits, bears, forts, and some battle zones.  There were those nefarious years of ice-ball wars, but they were quickly replaced by hot chocolate and marshmallows in front of heaters.  Anyway, the point is that every birthday became associated with snow and gifts.  I didn’t count the number of gifts I got, or the number of inches of snow that fell that day, but I was simply happy looking forward to forming new memories.

In middle school, I began comparing my things with everyone else in my community.  My coveting mindset started to mature into our economic dreams and expectations.  I desired new material goods to replace old ones that were still perfectly functional.  I consumed to keep up with trends and built my character based on my unique choices of fashion.  Happiness was mistaken for an infatuation with new possessions.  Of course, we must follow this ideal to a certain extent to actually maintain a capitalist economy, but this younger mindset made me lose appreciation for the gifts I received.  At this age, more and better is better than nothing at all (probably everyone would see this as a good deal – who wouldn’t want a new toy?).  My birthday, compared to others, became a little crappy because my parents would give a single gift for both days.  It really didn’t bother me, but my friends kept getting new things and convinced me to conform.  The logic could not be argued by my feeble mind – what else could you do but ask?  Unfortunately, I began to see the holiday as a parent’s obligation to give gifts, and my time to show off my new toys.

Through those trickster years in High School, I started asking for presents over the summer and hoped my parents forgot they bought me something in order to get an extra present on my birthday.  This worked surprisingly well.  My parents really didn’t know what to get me, so the present-giving tradition transformed into receiving two “free gift” passes per year.  I tricked the banker by asking for gifts of smaller magnitude and did my best to remove any paper trails.  Either I made sure they didn’t remember the new gift, or I happily used the gift and showed its usefulness and my thankfulness.  If these techniques didn’t work, I did the pros and cons list for them.  It was my first glance as a lawyer or an engineer defending a product choice.  The list of reasons why this would benefit me slowly chiseled at my parent’s will to fork out the cash.  During this point in my life, I also realized how important it was to love the present you receive.  If anything I did showed that I lost interest in the new toy, I expected my dad to say “I told you so.”  My fluttering decisions sounded good at the time, but the point was to make sure I stubbornly stayed with bad choices as a sacrifice to guarantee future gifts.  If at any point I started a reputation of losing interest too quickly, my defense would be pinned back to those moments.  I can’t even count the number of times my mom brings up that hole I kicked in the wall (I can’t be trusted with walls?).  At the end of the day, I found a loophole in the whole present giving thing, but things eventually changed…

As the Cooper years came around, I worked my butt off.  I missed those weekends with free time and dinners with family (my mom’s cooking is the best).  When the holidays returned, I used this time to relax.  My birthday came with the promises of drunken nights and happy stories.  Most of the time, I went out with friends and barely spent time at home, but since my birthday is clumped with family time in other homes, I could use the birthday to catch up (except for that Jewish friend).  There was not a worry in my mind, and I sat back to appreciate my accomplishments.  I felt like an old man looking back and smiling on the decades accumulating a fulfilled life.   I thought about the presents, but my own source of income and unsupervised spending never coincided with the holidays.  There were nice discounts, but I felt like my purchases were out of necessity instead of pride.  The other money I spent was dedicated to the experience of a night out with friends, or buying gifts for girlfriends (I guess I’m still a sucker for this).  My joy from the holiday changed from receiving gifts to giving gifts.  The small gifts that I did receive were not particularly functional or perfect for my taste, but it meant that someone cared enough to include me.  It was a nice reminder that I have friends.

After graduating Cooper, I’ve found the past birthday to be a normal day of a normal person (whatever that means).  I made it uneventful to escape my hectic life of deadlines.  I spent the day rereading my old entries and taking a few naps.  I was alone, but I was not lonely.  My memories kept me warm and the hope to form more fond ones made me wishful for tomorrow.  It was a sober day because I wanted to truly give my body a break.  Best decision, ever.  (Besides, I caught up with the drinking later).

~See Lemons Birthday Happiness

Chairlift Conversations

 

 

I don't think that's Stratton, but whatever

I don't think that's Stratton, but whatever

 

 

Random Observation/Comment #116: I am a skier (although I think snowboarding is much cooler and more stylish).  I’ve tried snowboarding four or five years ago, but I distinctly remember a cold and sore butt by the end of the day.  At the time I was quite young and physically able to bounce back to my feet after every fall.  There was no frustration or embarrassment in my motions.  My body just followed its course of learning, and knew no limits.  However, my slow learning curve and lack of fun with this weird stance made me stray from its temptations.  Oddly, I’ve never gone back to try it because I rather have fun slicing through the air with the wind lifting my ridiculously long hat behind me like a trail of blur.  This seems to be much more fun than falling every three seconds and eating snow.  This choice made me think about my will to try new things; that of which I ruled out from my list of activities at a young age.  If I replaced skiing and snowboarding with rollerblades and skateboards, would it make a difference?  What if I replaced it with swimming freestyle and swimming breast strokes?  Bass and Harpoon for the “tan”? Coke and Pepsi? Ipods and Zunes?  My past experiences have given me a terrible bias on products, and maybe all of this should be revisited with a finer comb.  I might be choosing one over another because I don’t want to take the time to experience new things, which sounds like a limiting experience.  This completely opposes my philosophy of introducing entropy and randomness into everyday routines.  Is it that different from trying a new place to eat or drinking a different beer?  Both new and old will satisfy my needs and provide different experiences, albeit, the learning curve does make a difference (that’s like someone eating with chopsticks when they’re used to sporks) but I feel like many of these old assumptions require some reevaluation.

Stratton is a beautiful mountain with (in my opinion) the best packed snow and exhilarating trails in the East.  Last weekend, we skied/snowboarded for two-and-a-half days with the best conditions imaginable.  There were a few complaints about the visibility and falling snow freezing on our bare faces, but the few inches of fresh powder every hour made the frozen chairlift worth it.  Looking out from those tinted goggles, there was not a soul on those trails.  I’m exaggerating, of course, but the mountain was the most empty I’ve seen it (can something be more empty than something else?).  Regardless, it was the best skiing I’ve had in ten years.

It snowed Friday to Sunday afternoon, and we were there on the slopes like it was our job.  Student discounts on weekdays sold chairlift tickets for $42.  Weekends, on the other hand, require full-price tickets of $75.  I suspect that our poor economy convinced the novice skiers and cabin fever, hot-chocolate-by-the-crackling-fire families to choose another vacation spot.  It might have been the snow storms on the mountains, but there’s nothing like the feeling (or lack of feeling) of 30 mph snowflakes hitting your numb, exposed cheeks.  Every article of clothing that tried to keep me warm became a rigid frost generator.  The small gap between my goggles and my nose attracted every floating ice particle into my eyes.  I sat there on that chairlift wiggling my fingers and toes to maintain circulation, but I was already convinced I had pleased my last girl and curled my last toes in ecstasy (haha, best way to use them).

My mind was bombarded with thoughts of hot chocolate, crackling fires, and mashed potatoes every time that bench hoisted me in the air.  Substituting those freezing moments with thoughts of being somewhere else was the only way to prevent shivers.  With this reoccurring feeling, I wondered if this elitist sport was worth the effort.  It takes about 10 minutes to reach the top of the mountain and approximately 7 minutes to come down.  Well, actually no discussion is necessary – totally worth it.  If you’re one of those people who hate the cold and rather stay inside drinking a deuce-deuce of Newgie Brown, more power to you.  I will enjoy that after my 6 hours.

That chairlift cold feeling escapes me while I’m falling down the mountain on planks of plastic attached to my boots.  I wonder who came up with skiing and snowboarding.  I bet it was a guy because only guys would be stupid enough to think that tying boards to their feet and sliding down a hill would be a favorite pastime.  Anyway, flying downhill, the adrenaline of weaving between young children and beginners keeps me energized.  Granted, I’m praying, “Please don’t kill anyone, especially me” the whole way down, but this is part of the fun.  Reckless would be an understatement of my skiing presence on the slopes.  I think my skiing is comparable to an old, Chinese woman driving a drag car with minimal brakes.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m in control most of the time and I have been skiing for 10 years, but simply put, I am a hazard.  They should probably force me to wear orange with reflective stripes and a horn attached to my ski poles so everyone would know to avoid me.  Maybe I should just hold a black-light flashlight (awesome) and make siren noises all the way down (engineering creative thinking skills at work).

If I weren’t skiing with friends that bomb their way through the powder, I would have focused more on improving my technique.  I always wonder how I look while skiing down the mountain.  Most chairlift conversations involve pointing at skiers and snowboarders coming down the trails for fair comparison.  I have an idea of how I look, but I’m not sure where I need improvement.  Next time we should rent some heavy duty camcorders to get some footage.  Actually, this would probably make a great business on the slopes.  Pay the instructors money to record digital footage and put it on a DVD when you’re done.  Brilliant!  Someone make it happen.

~See Lemons Ski

Last Exam Ever?

 

 

Finished in one shot ;-)

Finished in one shot 😉

Random Observation/Comment #115: I have yet to become free from these binds, but I feel I deserve a small reward for completing the last written exam of my life (hopefully).  This will be enjoyed with a quickie.  It’s been a long time since the last post, so I hope I don’t publish prematurely.

 

I could have chosen many topics, but because of this season of cheer, laughter, love, and drunken relatives, I’d like to discuss the topic of addictions.  This does not particularly point to alcohol, drugs, nicotine, caffeine, or any other type of substance abuse, but rather the mentality of relying on a routine to the point where you’re no longer in control of your decisions. 

To me, an addiction is when have that itch that you know only one thing can fix.  It’s something so deeply rooted that you would feel empty not indulging in this habit.  Your muscles tremor in withdraw, and your brain pulls you towards those moments you see engrained into your everyday life.  Isn’t it such a wondrous feeling of fulfillment and excitement?  I feel insecure without it, yet I feel weak in its presence.  My heart says “Don’t stop,” but brain annoys me with “Don’t. Stop.”  (Inflections and gravitas have never been in my repertoire of skills.)  No matter how many times I’ve turned my back to walk away, it has crawled in front of me and stared at me with those tear-filled, puppy eyes.  My will power is only so strong.  My body can only take so much of this.  How many times will it take to stay away?  Why can’t we just learn from our mistakes?

The more I describe an addiction, the more I realize that hint of anger, internal conflict, and regret.  The more these violent adjectives connect to my vital organs, the more I recognize the curves of her smile painted in my mind.  An entry completely unrelated, yet there is a need to vent those locked rooms. 

It was all about her.  I can already hear the flood of reasons that comforted by denial at the time.  “She is no longer the person you knew her as.”  “Don’t beat yourself up over something you had no control over.”  “You’re only thinking about that moment in your life, not that person in your life.”  “If you love her, you’ll let her go.”  “Why live in the past, when the present has so many possibilities for the future?”

The truth is – it’s not about her anymore.  I’ve come to peace with this a long time ago.  I am no longer an addict.  I followed my own 12-step program without the religious shafting.  There were times where I felt like every passing memory of her made that sutured heart bleed once more.  It was difficult, especially during holidays made for lovers, but time healed my pain.  Work saved me.  Filling every clock cycle I had to offer with extraneous computations made the days pass faster.  I stopped being curious.  I stopped the stalker-ish tendencies.  The new interests replaced old ones.  I didn’t even notice it happen until I already made a full transition.  You could try to blame people, guilt yourself, wallow in self-pity, or rebound with a wounded heart, but you’re pushing a process with different problems.  Don’t rush it.  Just let it be.  Life keeps ticking.

~See Lemons Take a Break

A lack of sleep: What a good Thursday

Random Observation/Comment #114: I have a procrastination problem, but I’ll fix it later.

I don’t remember how I survived finals’ week 8 times.  I’m officially getting too old for this, and I can’t wait to move on from this thesis.  The one class I’m taking is basically finished, so the only thing between me and freedom is that thesis.  Technically, there are approximately 2 months before I defend my thesis, but if you plan as much as I do, you’ll see that there’s just not enough time.

In total, the approximate 9 weeks will be allocated to: finish writing a 125-page thesis, complete a full simulation with results, prepare an hour presentation, practice the presentation, and wrap up all of the logistics.  Starting from today, I have one more week of work with the simulator to get a model returning decent results before vacation comes and I lose about 2 weeks with the license and the program because of the school closing for break (usually people are happy about the school being closed…).  Ideally, the break will be used to finish all of the other sections so I can just concentrate on the simulations when I come back.  Once the results are in for the more complex models, I can write the conclusions, create the presentation, and finish the proofreading in three weeks.  The last two weeks will be for logistics, finalization of paper, and practicing the presentation.

So why am I writing this when I have so much work to do?  It’s 3AM.  The simulation doesn’t work.  The paper is coming along very slowly.  I’ve had five cups of my favorite: Vente, Earl Grey, 3 honeys, Sprinkle of Cinnamon, 2 packets brown sugar, and 2 tea bags (Luckily, bringing the Starbuck’s cup back gets you 50 cents refills).  My dinner consisted of three packs of pretzels.  I have been sitting on my ass for 5 hours in a row typing on my cramping fingers and carpel tunnel wrists.  My eyes burn like they’ve been rubbed with salt.  The times I have been sleeping are on a two-seat couch with my legs hanging over the arm rest.  An unpleasant layer of stickiness and oil makes me feel like I’m made of wax.  My parents think I’ve gone crazy.  I think I’ve gone crazy.  I’m probably crazy.

~See Lemons Need a Vacation

The Policy that Caused a Ruckus

” Dear Engineering Students:

Following an Academic Deans meeting recommendation, and put into effect
today by Vice President Hawks, the following rules apply to 51 Astor Place:

*Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.*
Building is closed to engineering students between 2:00a.m. and 6:00a.m.
EXCEPTION: Art students with studios in 51 Astor place are allowed 24 hour
access.

*Saturday:*
Building is closed to ALL students (Art, Architecture and Engineering) from
midnight to noon the following day, Sunday.

*Sunday:*
Building is closed to ALL students until noon.
Building closes at 2:00a.m., (technically Monday morning) to Engineering
students.
EXCEPTION: Art students with studios in 51 Astor place are
allowed 24 hour access.
Building reopens to Engineering students at 6:00a.m. Monday morning.

Passes are not necessary for times up until 2:00a.m., as defined above, or
after 6:00a.m., as defined by the above new policy.

Passes for the hours where — as stated above — the building is closed *ARE
INVALIDATED.*   No exceptions, so please don’t ask. “

School Politics

 

 

United we vent.

United we vent.

Random Observation/Comment #113: I have always thought that my years of suffering through all those Cooper classes, which were flooded with assignments, exams, and projects, was directly related to our student body’s inability to argue for rights (either that, or our professors’ pretending we’re only registered for their course).  Due to recent events at Cooper, I saw that these students are not a least bit spineless towards authority, or a pushover conformist.  These engineers just have an incredible work ethic and an annoying quality of overachieving.  It’s not a bad quality, unless you’re struggling to keep up in the bell curve, but I’m glad they are applying their knowledge of fundamental freedoms and standing firm against injustices. 

 

I am not necessarily disappointed at Cooper because I truly believe that the persons making this decision had good intentions in mind.  They wanted students to approach problems with a well-rested mind. Studies (and extensive personal experience) show that productivity significantly drops when you’re exhausted from caffeine-withdraw and sleep deprivation.  Plus, those struggling to stay away shouldn’t be trusted to operate any machinery without supervision; it would escalate the issue legally, and that’s completely understandable from a business point of view.  It sounds only reasonable to close the school down from 2AM to 6AM for the students to cool off and get some fresh air, right? Hmm…

Unfortunately, the administration did not think about the consequences of this action (most probably didn’t expect such an explosive reaction), nor did they consult the opinions of the students before changing the rules and singling out players.  We were all promised 24-hour access since the beginning of the year, and they release news two weeks before finals going directly against that promise.  In addition, the overnight passes signed by professors were revoked.  These passes represented the professor’s personal vouches for the student’s maturity and safe use of all equipment.  Besides, most of the students using this access are only using licensed software on computers and studying in groups or quiet places. 

The worse part of the policy, which really made an already simmering pot boil, was this implicit differentiation between the rights of artists and architects, and the rights of engineers.  In order to adhere to the agreement of some (3) of the artists working in the studios in the engineering building, the email was worded in a way that sounded like the work of the Art and Architecture schools were more important than that of the Engineering.  Even though this may have not been their intention, their words clearly offended all of the engineering students and a large number of faculty.

The art and architecture deans or professors that made their requests somehow magically made a big enough defense to have their 24-hour access granted to their privileged students.  Across the street (literally), even the assistant dean that made the promise to all the engineering students had no pull.  The engineering professors who hand-pick their responsible students are completely ignored and undermined.  Does this mean that the professors in one school are better than the professors at another?  If the administration isn’t even addressing the professors’ needs, then who do we, as the students, have to ask for assistance in furthering our education?  If the administration can’t talk to all students to get a fully democratic opinion, shouldn’t they trust the professors that they hired to give some constructive feedback?  I find it all too ironic that the students pulling the all-nighters and showing their devotion to their studies are the ones that are being punished.

Personally, if the incident passed without this inter-school issue, I would have found a way to work at home and convince myself to the same conclusions that the administration suggested (that sleep is good).  One minor overlooked detail might be the fact that kicking me out at 2AM is the equivalent of cutting my pockets so I drop a trail of change behind me while I take a 1.5 hour commute back to Long Island.  Cooper is a commuter school, and there are those that already fear for their lives in broad daylight getting home on that G train (where the hell does that go, anyway?).  It would have been better if I could make my own choice, though.  It’s always nice to have that mommy take care of you and wash the dishes after cooking you breakfast, but once she starts enforcing restrictions on how much sleep we need and how much time we spend on each subject, hell is going to break loose (I don’t understand why a 21-year-old can’t make his own decision to wake up early and watch cartoons).  It was really a thoughtful gesture, Mom, but I got it under control.

If the administration asked the student council and maintained a fair democracy in all the policies that directly influence the students, they would have heard our immediate objections – oh wait, they were all conveniently halfway across the world.  So, instead of any discussion with those who passed the decision, a room of approximately 150 very angry engineering students vented to our assistant dean.  I almost felt bad for him getting stuck in the middle as a messenger wearing a red coat with a target painted on the back of his head.  I sat there in the midst and saw the fervor of rights-seeking individuals, drawn together by a common goal.  It built up a lot of emotions that I didn’t consider without being in that place at that moment.  I felt like I started as a spectator watching a boxing match, but I somehow got pulled up as one of the boxers.  In fact, I think half the people willingly took-up the spotlight and started a battle royal. 

Regardless of my opinion of the administration, I am definitely proud of the young men and women that literally make the school’s experience.  I went to this school because of the selective student body and their dynamic range of personalities, and this unfortunate event made me realize that these are exceptional people.  They are mature and they will all change the world in their own way.  The school should exist for the students – not the other way around (well probably a little bit, but that’s not as convincing).  Please respect us.

~See Lemons shake his head in dismissive disapproval

Keeping it Interesting

 

 

Cutest puppy ever.  It's relevant to the post... umm... don't forget your pet makes you smile.

Cutest puppy ever. It's relevant to the post... umm... don't forget your pet makes you smile.

Random Observation/Comment #112: I don’t like routines, but sometimes they’re necessary and I’ve come to accept that.  The comfort in my particular routines root from the pleasure of knowing that I had tried most alternatives and settled on a path that balances time and energy towards these uncontrollable moments of commute.  Everything has been made to, what I refer to as, “dynamically efficient.”  I not only choose the best path for a regular walk, but I also accordingly adjust paths due to delays, detours, or even my mood (woopty-freakin’-doo, so does everyone else in the world).  Well, I just wanted to point it out…

 

The battle between security and adventure has been my main internal conflict for the past few years.  I’ve been torn left and right thinking about my threshold of risk-taking.  In no way do I want to live a “life on the edge,” looking for the next conquest, but then again, I don’t want to always follow the same routine in a boring life.   So where is the balance?  How can I fool myself into being happy with repetition?

When I was “on the road” (so to speak), I looked at everything around me like a five-year-old toddler.  I asked random questions in my mind and to the closest person next to me throughout the entire trip to get the full experience.  It was the complete submersion in a different culture that kept me interested.  From aspects as obvious as their foreign tongue, to the less noticeable mannerisms at meals, I was fascinated.  My mind also had that “observation mode” toggled on record and analyze, which has recently become increasingly more difficult to locate.

I live in one of the greatest cities in the world (if not The greatest city), surrounded by skyscrapers and mom & pop shops on every corner, yet I don’t obsess with my camera and I don’t memorize all those useless facts to the same detail as when I was in Japan.  The city that never sleeps is a concrete creature with its own heart, mind, and soul.  The energy can be found in every buttered bagel or coffee, and these miniscule everyday incidents contribute to a city of adventures beyond my imagination.  It’s the familiarity that manipulates me, but it’s also the same familiarity that comforts me. 

Before I offer my solution on how to keep life a little more interesting, I want to reflect on this desire to remove myself from repetition.  Doing the same thing every day and week is perfectly fine for people who want to control their life in whichever way possible, but for me, life loses its lustrous color and vivacious strokes.  Surprises are – well – unexpected, which floods my mind with planning compulsions.  It’s a high pressure situation when you’re put on the spot, and in my mind, it leads to a lot of stress.  However, just because I don’t like too many surprises, doesn’t mean I want to follow the zombie crowds.  I like trying new things, but they must be within my branch of choices.  I’ve planned the “next level” to have a larger variation of routines.  They’re all safe and preapproved by me, and it’s up to my whatever-mood to pick.  This is how I’ve stayed sane while maintaining my anal tendencies.  I suggest mixing it up a bit to keep the mind sharp, and to see the world large and mysterious.

  1. Try different restaurants.  Stop going to the same place for lunch and dinner even though it’s incredibly delicious.  Exploration increases your opinions of places.
  2. Try writing a journal. It only takes a few minutes to jot down a few thoughts about the day.  It doesn’t have to be well written, but if you read it later, you’ll definitely be glad these moments in your life exist.  Even if it’s writing down one thing you learned today, you’ll have 365 random facts in a year. 
  3. Read a different genre.  If you like reading, try a different genre or go out on a limb and read a trashy romance novel.
  4. Try to learn a musical instrument. If you played an instrument when you were younger, try to pick it up again.  If you didn’t, maybe there’s something easy you can practice like an ocarina from the iPhone app.
  5. Keep the iPod diverse.  Music is so relaxing, but the same songs over, and over, again melts my brain. 
  6. Learn a new language.  Was there a language you just wish you could pick up?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know Mandarin when those 1.2 billion people in China start to take over the world?  Pick up an audio-book and listen to a lesson everyday during the commute. 
  7. Take a different route.  If you have time, walk or drive a different way to work.  Clear your head with another radio station or take a peaceful stroll to organize priorities.
  8. Taste-test wine.  This will not work for alcoholics or non-alcoholics, but I remember when I bought a $15 bottle every two weeks to try out different wines.

Sometimes catching up on sleep on the train is nice, but I find that most of the time my mind is blank or drifting in odd directions.  I guess I keep thinking this way because I never want to lose that desire to learn and absorb new things.  Maybe I should narrow down my list and just work on my strengths.  Being a well-rounded person takes so much effort.  If you take anything out of this, it should be that life is beautiful and we should all do everything to see every corner of it (it’s probably a circle).

The list was geared towards those who are trapped in a routine.  If you have free time, I’m sure you could come up with a much larger list of hobbies.  Best of luck, Mr/Mrs Nine-to-five.

~See Lemons Learn to Live

Master’s thesis

It needs to get done.  Goals must be acheived.  I must not write for leisure until this is complete… well…  Okay, not more than twice a week.  And they have to be about traveling.  

For the next month, instead of my usual weekday update, I will only update on weekends.

~See Lemons Work on his Thesis