Friday, December 12, 2008

Reading Days

So I think I like reading days. When else in the semester do you have time to watch six-hour, Victorian mini-series? Or take naps on benches? Or read books that you've always been meaning to?

I think that the last one is one of the things that I enjoy most about reading days because you feel slightly less bad about it, even if what you are reading has nothing to do with your classes. (I feel the same way about climbing trees on Arbor Day; it's not quite what the day is meant for, but I feel like I better appreciate a tree from the top of it.)

My reading day book today is Ex Libris, recommended to me this week by a friend. I had seen it around the house growing up, and after the first 50 pages, I'm realizing that I had read the first essay already, but I had never managed to finish it for some reason. Perhaps I wasn't at a stage that I could appreciate a compilation of essays.

I think now though that the personal essay is the perfect genre. I've always thought that blot were fun because they are a little bit like road trips through someone's mind. I'd have to call a personal essay a guided tour. And a good essay is like the sort of tour where they will let you stop and play the 15th century grand piano for a moment before moving on. Ex Libris perhaps qualifies as one of these.

In fact, I was going to do some studying after posting this entry, but I think that I probably will take a little more time and read a few more chapters of it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Today's conundrum

I've known for a long time that there are many things that I like knowing or doing that I don't like learning about. Like reading. I really like having read lots of books and discussing them and talking about them, but the actual sitting down and reading it isn't really all that pleasurable to me. Or Art History. I love visiting museums that have art that I understand or at least can pretend to understand. My experience in art history classes, however, has been pretty boring.

It is just occurring to me today though that it can also go the other way. There are many things that I enjoy learning about that I don't enjoy doing. This is what originally got me out of the Physics Major and what has stopped me from being a pure mathematician. I love my classes--they are the highlight of my day--but the idea of doing a ton of research in it doesn't really get me very excited.

I've been thinking about this today because this conundrum creates an interesting decision for me. It sort of feels like I can choose a field of study now that I love in return for a profession that I may enjoy less, or I can study something that I enjoy less for a profession that I may enjoy more. Making this decision more complicated is that it is hard to say which professions I'll enjoy more or less until I am there. I was surprised by how much I loved my Physics classes but by how much I disliked research. I like my research now much more, but I still sometimes wonder if I would enjoy a more applied field even more than this.

Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Unsteady ground

So I've been really grateful recently that I don't have an iPod as I walk up to campus. Most of my interesting (albeit twisted) thoughts and experience seem to happen as I'm making the trip from my apartment to school.

Today I saw this guy and girl trying to climb down the hill south of campus rather than taking the stairs. This hill is landscaped to showcase the shrubbery from various parts of the US. I think that this hill was supposed to be Arizona or something.

In any case, as they are going down, the guy seemed to think he was pretty cool for being able climb down so easily; the girl was just following him because he somehow talked her into it. But she didn't seem to be enjoying nearly as much. She was a little unsteady on her feet, and at one point as she was starting to lose her balance, she grabbed the nearest thing that could possibly stabilize her.

It was really unfortunate that it was a cactus.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


It is really hard to put a band-aide on your back. It's already tricky to do anything that involves knowing which way your hands will be going when you are looking in a mirror, but it is much harder when things are flipped around again by turning around and when the wound is in a hard to reach portion of your back anyways.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What I learned from computer games

You might think that this post is going to be about educational games that I played when I was younger that taught me about prime numbers, shooting buffalo, or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Or perhaps about how they ruled my life and I've learned lessons about self-restraint and my personal limitations with that regard.

Neither of those things are true. This week I've been thinking about what I can learn about myself and my brothers by the way we interacted with each other through computer games. You see, we would often acquire simple little games that allowed two or three players that we would all play together. Normally they involved fighting each other or blowing each other up with dynamite. They were all high quality. But I think that there is something to learn about how we each approached these games.

My older brother is very creative. He was usually the first one to figure new strategies that were usually pretty effective.

I think though that I'm adaptable. I would notice the strategies that my older brother would start using, and then pick them up as well. Normally, I got better at them than my brother did pretty quick, so he'd have to come up with another strategy to counter the one he invented.

My younger brother would then occasionally win because I would focus on my older brother and would be left too weak to take on my younger brother after that. Most of the time, however, in the initial stages of a game, it would be me or my older brother who would win.

The thing with my younger brother though is that when he decides he likes something, he gets really passionate about it. So he would continue practicing and learning a lot longer than I had the patience for. At that point, he would start beating both me and my brother pretty consistently.

And even though we are not trying to fly exploding sheep into each other anymore, I think that the general things that you can learn about us still sort of hold today.