2 AM

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Night blogging“2 AM isn’t a place, it’s an emotion,” a night blogger once said on tumblr. And then others replied and pointed out that 2 AM isn’t a place at all, and yet others added, “That’s because it’s an emotion.” I was not that particular night blogger, nor do I know him/her personally, so I cannot say whether the use of the word “place” instead of “time” was a mistake or a philosophical statement or a decision based upon the aesthetic sound of the sentence. But I do know that the statement as it stands is true. 2 AM isn’t a place. It’s an emotion.

It is considered typical to sleep at night and to be awake during the day. 2 AM is not a time for typical people; it is a time for people who have odd schedules, whether by choice or because they genuinely like it better that way. 2 AM is a time when there are few sound waves in the air, but a great many metaphorical sound waves over the internet. 2 AM is full of ramblings that are either ridiculous or profound, and sometimes both. At least online, 2 AM belongs to the night bloggers and the overworked students, two groups of people who are (or at least should be) notorious for blending extreme genius and utter nonsense in one pithy remark.

At 2 AM, the internet is the only way to express the thoughts that run through the mind of the fatigued and overly creative mind of the night blogger. At 2 AM, the real world doesn’t exist, and the internet is all there is. At 2 AM, a blinking cursor on a computer screen or a page full of densely packed words offer greater possibilities than anything that a night blogger ever gets to see in the daytime. Thoughts don’t count for much if they can’t be formed into letters and words, and they count for nothing at all if they are formed into spoken words that are forever gone as soon as the sound waves fade into the oblivion of the motionless air which fills the place that we call Real Life. But on the internet, a fleeting random thought can be preserved in visible form so that fellow night bloggers or tomorrow’s day bloggers can see it and be duly amused by its absurdity or impressed by its profoundness or confused by its randomness.

I myself am not known for the kind of posts that show up around 2 AM, although I am occasionally responsible for a nonsensical insight that may or may not be worthy of remembering. One of the more recent of these (although it occurred well before 2 AM) is the concept that real life is nothing more than a frame narrative for everything that one reads or writes. This may perhaps be more true of my life than most people’s lives, especially this semester, since I am taking a class that involves reading five to seven YA novels a week, which is rather a lot of fiction reading when you’re a full-time student who also has a job and also feels compelled to find some time and mental effort for other reading and writing in addition to schoolwork. But the fact remains that many people, especially among the demographic that is most likely to be on tumblr in the middle of the night, spend much of their time and conscious thought on fiction, whether in the form of novels or television or other mediums. And I would argue that many types of nonfiction should also be taken into consideration in this matter, because non-fictional narrative prose often resonates in a reader or viewer’s mind in the same way that fiction does. It seems to me that it is no exaggeration to say that our lives are largely dominated by stories that are not our own.

As any avid reader or writer knows, the frame narrative is never the important or interesting part. The good bits of the story are always saved for the innermost tale. The frame narrative is simple and straight-forward and sometimes quite dull. If Real Life is a frame narrative, it sadly does a good job of following this standard. Some people claim that the enjoyment of fiction is a form of escapism, and I think that this is entirely true, but not quite in the way that they mean. An avid reader is not completely ignoring his or her own life. An avid reader is using the fictional lives of others to justify the fact that his or her own life is too empty and simple and straight-forward and dull to have much of any significance unless it is simply a framework for which other stories can be metaphors.

 But 2 AM is when the frame narrative of reality goes on hiatus. Typical people use this opportunity to sleep. They spend many hours lying perfectly still and resting their minds so that they can wake up in the morning and spend the next day of their real lives doing all of the real-life things that they think make their real lives important. But those of us who are awake at 2 AM, whether because of homework or because we like 2 AM, experience a view of the world that normal people miss. There comes a time of night when reality pauses itself and its place can be taken by fiction or by rambling words of incoherent wisdom typed on a computer screen by a fatigued night blogger who didn’t even necessarily mean it the way it sounded.

2 AM isn’t a place, it’s an emotion, and like other emotions, it is exhausting and incapacitating if it is felt too strongly, too frequently, or for too long a period of time. I myself would prefer to be asleep at 2 AM if my life allowed for that to be an achievable goal. But when I am awake at 2 AM, it occurs to me that people don’t know what they’re talking about when they spout cliches about living life to the fullest. Living life to the fullest doesn’t mean going out and doing crazy, exciting things. If that’s the way you’re looking at it, you’re forcing yourself to choose between craziness and normality. Living life to the fullest means taking advantage of the wondrous opportunities offered by books and the internet to experience excitement even while your own real life is filled with the mundaneness of not being the sort of person who goes out and does crazy, exciting things.

2 AM is where you can have it both ways. 2 AM is where it’s crazy and exciting just to be conscious and to have the wonderful ability to preserve your conscious thoughts in written form or to experience other people’s written thoughts without being interrupted by reality. 2 AM is where the frame narrative meets the cooler inner story because there isn’t any need to keep the two completely separate. 2 AM is where things don’t need to make sense because sense isn’t the most important thing around here.

Come to think of it, maybe 2 AM is a place after all.

Really Awesome Fun Things That I Would Do If I Had Time On My Hands

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I should probably start by acknowledging that, when I say “really awesome fun things,” I mean what other people mean when they say, “weird, pointless, and nerdy things.” In fact, people often respond to my “really awesome” ideas by giving me a strange look and saying, “But… why?” And the only answer I have for that is, “Because… awesomeness.” So keep that answer in your mind as you read this list and think, “But…why?” about everything on it.

Number One: Codify the language used on my imaginary planet

Here is the Cherokee syllabary.

Here is the Cherokee syllabary.

On my imaginary planet, they use a language that, unlike English and other Indo-European languages, has a syllabary rather than an alphabet. That means that each syllable is represented by a symbol. This system is not unique to the people of my planet; it is used in some Earth cultures, most notably Japanese and Cherokee. But it is much less widespread than a phonetic alphabet because it tends to be inefficient and more complex. That is, that’s the way it works on Earth. On my imaginary planet, they use a syllabaric language just because I personally think it would be more fun to make up. It actually won’t be too complex because there are only 100 different syllables in their language, and when I say 100, I mean 49, because they count in base seven. The 49 one-syllable words are one-digit integers, pronouns, articles, conjunctions, and prepositions. Two-syllable words are adjectives and adverbs.  Three-syllable words are verb roots, (with a fourth syllable suffix determining tense, mood, and aspect) and five-syllable words are nouns. That allows for a vocabulary of as many as 10,001,010,100 words counting in base 7, which is 282,595,348 in base 10. (I should perhaps acknowledge at this point that there is a significant possibility that my math is wrong, because that is a thing that does happen sometimes.) Considering that there are approximately a million words in the English language, (an exact count would be impossible due to the nature of linguistics) it is safe to say that my planet’s imaginary language would not exhaust its capacity for vocabulary. With the exception of verbs and nouns, this language would have a more limited number of words than most Earth languages, and it is my intention for the grammar to also be simpler and involve fewer exceptions to rules. That’s as far as I’ve gotten; I haven’t formed the syllabary or made up any vocabulary yet. Once I do that, the next step is to translate the entire Bible into my imaginary language. And of course, the translation has to be done from the original Hebrew and Greek, because it is vitally important that all of these imaginary people have a scripturally accurate Bible. (Note: This translation could take a while, because I currently do not know Biblical Hebrew at all and only sort of kind of know a little Biblical Greek.)

Number Two: Memorize lots of Pi

I am a little embarrassed to admit that all of Pi that I can remember is 3.1415. Actually, I thought I remembered a few more digits, but it turns out that I had the 9 and the 2 switched. I was right that the next digit after that was a 6, but that was as far as I could get. I used to know a lot more Pi; I think that at one point, I had about 40 digits memorized. Of course, that’s not extremely impressive because there are some extreme nerds out there who have Pi memorized to a bajillion places. But the point is that I want to be one of those extreme nerds because that seems like a fun skill to have.

Number Three: Be an Artificially Artificial Intelligence

I'm pretty sure that's more or less how Cleverbot works.

I’m pretty sure that’s more or less how Cleverbot works.

This game would make use of an anonymous and random internet chat program, of which there are several in existence. Before beginning, I would make a short list of random phrases. In the first chat, I would enter each of these phrases and make a note of how the other person responded. From that point on, anytime someone uses one of my original phrases, I would respond in the same way that person #1 responded. When chatting with person #2, I would use the phrases that had been typed by person #1 in chat #1. Once again, I would keep track of the responses for use in any later situation where someone types those phrases to me. Over the course of hundreds or thousands of chats, I would build up an extensive list telling me how to respond to things that people say. The longer I do this, the more my chat messages would begin to resemble an actual conversation with an actual person.

Number Four: Organize my wardrobe

This is what I need to do. I need to make a list of every non-underwear article of clothing that I own and determine which of them “go with” which others, so that I have a specific list of every outfit I have available. For each outfit, I shall then determine rules for when and where it can be worn depending upon factors such as degree of formality and suitability in cold or hot temperatures. Finally, I shall make a complicated and convoluted chart that tells me when to wear what. The point of this is not to simplify the process of getting dressed or to save time; the point is to have the fun of consulting a chart. Because that’s a very entertaining thing to do.

Number Five: Finish the mancala algorithm

Mancala Board(I use the word “finish” because this is a project that I have started before. See this blog post from June 2012.) When a game of mancala begins, the first player has six choices, and only one of them makes any sense. It is fairly self-apparent that the number of possible moves increases exponentially for each additional move being considered in the calculation, and that the number of good moves also increases to such an extent that there is a very wide variety of possible outcomes. However, the game of mancala is a lot simpler than, for example, chess or scrabble, so it seems that it should be feasible, although ridiculously time-consuming, to create an algorithm determining what the best series of moves is. One goal of this algorithm is to develop a strategy that will always win; another goal is to determine how early in the game it is possible to predict beyond a doubt who will win. As far as I can tell, the best way to develop such an algorithm is to play lots and lots and lots of mancala and try out lots of possible combinations of moves.  It isn’t literally necessary to play out every possible game, but it will be necessary to try out a lot of them, to try out various ways of continuing the game after various sets of opening moves, and to take a mathematical approach to the outcomes.

Number Six: Learn how to talk in Iambic Pentameter

It seems to me that the ultimate test of quick thinking is the ability to maintain a poetic meter and rhyme scheme in conversational speech. One would have to count stressed and unstressed syllables and think of rhymes all while concentrating on communicating whatever it is that one wants to say in the context of the given conversation. I’m not sure if such a thing would be possible, but it would be so totally awesome if it was.

Number Seven: Continue my experiments on whether putting your hands on your face helps you think

Many people, myself included, will sometimes put their hands on their face while they are thinking, and I am curious about why. In the past, I have made up experiments to test the intellectual effects of this gesture. (See these two blog posts from Summer 2012) These tests have obviously been inadequate to answer this question for various reasons. For one thing, they were conducted in the same way, which measured intellectual activity by memorizing a string of random digits. But memorization isn’t the only kind of thought. It seems to me that a strategic game is a more thorough test of effective thought. Chess is the ideal game for this experiment because it has no element of luck and is more intellectually stimulating than certain other games like checkers. (In case anyone is interested, I dislike the game of checkers and am always glad for an opportunity to say so.) The next experiment would involve playing consecutive online chess games, all using the same time limit, for many hours on end. During some games, I would rest my face on my hands while I think, and during other games, I would make sure not to touch my face at all. This experiment would have to be repeated several times on different days in order to decrease the risk of confounding variables. I imagine that I would need to play a few hundred games before calculating the results. Even then, these results would be meaningless unless I came up with further experiments which would involve other people and other methods of measuring intellectual activity.

Number Eight: Memorize cool movies

Star WarsThis one is pretty self-explanatory. It also is quite obvious that the first couple movies that I would memorize would be Star Wars and The Princess Bride. Others that would be high on the list would be the other Star Wars movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Back to the Future trilogy, and The Matrix. You know, all those movies that cool people quote all the time.

Number Nine: Finish this list

This list is incomplete because there are a semi-infinite number of really awesome fun things that I would do if I had time on my hands. There are a bunch that I had intended to include in this partial list that have temporarily slipped my mind, and I’m going to go ahead and post this without them because what I have here is already sufficiently long. Then there are others that I thought of a long time ago and have completely forgotten, and many more that simply haven’t ever occurred to me yet. Just to finish the list would be an unachievable goal. But it would be entertaining to spend a lot of time working on it.

German Chocolate Cake isn’t German

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It has been nineteen days since I last posted anything on my blog, which means that it is now time for me to write something acknowledging this absence, stating my intention to post more stuff in the near future, and sharing a list of interesting trivia facts in order to keep this blog post from being too pointless. Actually, this time, I’m not exactly going to make the second of those three points, because I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post stuff on this blog in the near future. I don’t have a very clear idea of what my schedule will be like over the next several months, but I do know that I’m going to be extremely busy. I’ll try to post things every now and then, but I doubt that I’ll be able to do so very frequently.

With that being said, here is the aforementioned list of interesting trivia facts.

 

The national anthem of Greece has 158 verses.

German Chocolate CakeGerman chocolate cake was invented in America, not Germany. The first recipe for German Chocolate Cake was submitted to a newspaper in Dallas in 1957, and it gets its name from the brand of chocolate used, which in turn got its name from a man named Sam German.

Polar bears are always left-pawed.

The first Bible printed in North America was not in English because at that time, it was illegal to print English bibles anyplace other than in England.

Lighters were invented before matches were.

Julia Grant, the wife of President Ulysses S. Grant, was cross-eyed.

The dessert known as Bananas Foster was invented in New Orleans in 1951 by a restaurant owner, who named it after a customer named Richard Foster.

WatchIn advertisements showing watches, it is typical for the time displayed to be 10:10.

It was somewhat controversial when the word “beautiful” was used in a Bible printed in 1524 because “beautiful” was such a new word that some people thought it seemed out of place in the Bible.

The night that the Titanic sank, lifeboat number 13 also sank when it hit a chunk of ice.

Pat Nixon, the wife of President Richard Nixon, was the first First Lady to wear pants in public.

The first advertisement that used a photograph was printed in Philadelphia in 1843.

The word “dinosaur” did not exist until 1841.

KingsIn a typical deck of playing cards, each of the king cards is supposed to represent a certain historical king. The King of Spades is King David, the King of Clubs is Alexander the Great, the King of Hearts is Charlemagne, and the King of Diamonds is Julius Caesar.

The hair of an intelligent person has more zinc and copper than that of a less intelligent person.

Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer was the first novel written on a typewriter.

When Spain joined the European Union, the government began pushing to end the tradition of siestas. The point of this campaign was cultural integration.

After you drink water, it stays in your stomach for five minutes.

Caesar Salad has nothing to do with the Caesars of Rome; rather, it gets its name from a chef called Caesar Cardini, who allegedly invented the Caesar Salad when he didn’t have many ingredients available one day in July 1924.

Never give an avacado to a parrot

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Dear internet,

If anyone has been paying attention, you may have noticed that it has been over three weeks since I have posted stuff on this blog. There are several reasons for this, including such things as final exams, a ballet performance, graduation, and two moves, both of which entailed long road trips. Now, the point of my life is to find a job while trying to remember what it’s like to be a Northerner, which is a thing I have not been for a few years. Meanwhile, I shall hopefully write stuff on my blog more frequently than I have in the recent past.

Whenever I have stopped blogging for a while and am about to get back into it, I feel a need to start with a post like this. The problem is that this is a very boring kind of blog post. In order to solve this problem, I hereby offer the following list of random trivia. Memorize them all and annoy your friends and family.

Never give an avacado to a parrotAvocados are poisonous to parrots.

Doorknobs weren’t invented until 1878. Doorbells were invented in 1831.

The average human brain weighs about 3 pounds. Albert Einstein’s brain was unusually small, weighing only 2.7 pounds.

A headless cockroach can survive for up to a week.

Although chess originated in Asia, probably in northern India, and it spread to Europe by way of Persia, the Vikings played a role in bringing it to central and northern Europe.

The United States officially declared Christmas to be a holiday on June 26, 1870. Before that, it hadn’t been an official national holiday.

Despite the camel’s reputation for being able to survive long periods of time without water, a rat can go even longer without water than a camel can.

Bananas are in season year round.

Scottish people are not supposed to wear green to a wedding.

All mammals have red blood, all insects have yellow blood, and lobsters have blue blood.

Lemonade was evidently invented in Egypt, although I have been unable to track down an approximate year for its origin.

An octopus has three hearts.

The earliest recorded example of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477, and it was given to Mary of Burgundy by King Maximilian I of Germany.

The equal sign (=) was first used in 1557.

Voltaire drank as many as fifty cups of coffee a day.

Napoleon was in fact 5 feet, 6 1/2 inches, but his autopsy mistakenly said that he was 5 feet, 2 inches.

An albatross can sleep and fly at the same time.

Type B blood did not exist among the Native American Indians prior to European colonization.

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon, Episode Six

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Louisville Kentucky1. If anyone has been keeping track, they will have noticed that I haven’t written many blog posts over the past few weeks. There are several reasons for this, many of which are quite predictable and include a lack of free time and an excessive amount of stuff to do during these infrequent bouts of free time. (For example, I spent the last three days in Louisville, Kentucky, at an academic conference. That is why the five pictures included in this blog post all show scenes from downtown Louisville. For the record, they were all taken by me between about 11:30 AM and noon on Friday, April 5.) Despite the aforementioned fact that I have not posted much on my blog lately, I would like the record to show that I had started many things that were intended to become blog posts, including some potentially good ones for Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, and April Fools’ Day aka The First Day of Baseball Season. The Holy Saturday one was practically finished, too, so I’m kind of annoyed with myself for not going ahead and finishing it on time. However, I can now inform you that I actually have two finished drafts, so I actually can promise at least two new blog posts after this one in the relatively near future.

2. (Added much later in the day) I would just like to stick a disclaimer here and say that I haven’t really read through much of this after typing it, so it is going to be even more random and disjointed than usual, and probably will contain many typos. Sorry ‘bout that, but I’m not going to actually get around to posting this if I take the time to edit it.

Louisville Kentucky3. After church this morning, I stopped at Wal Mart to pick up some hand soap and some band-aids.  For some reason, these are both products that are challenging to find. The hand soap was somewhat easier, but the band-aids greatly baffled me. They had gauze bandages and little circular band-aids, they had band-aids with pictures of cartoon characters and specially shaped band-aids and water-proof band-aids and special non-stick band-aids for sensitive skin. But they didn’t have regular band-aids. All I wanted was the kind of band-aids that you put on your toe to keep it from bleeding in dance class. But they didn’t have that kind of band-aid, so instead, I got absorbent non-stick band-aids with comfortable fabric that stretches with movement and innovative adhesive that stays on long without irritating the skin. So the box tells me. It seemed like the closest thing to normal band-aids that I could find.

4. Today, as I left my dorm to go get food, people stared at me. This was not surprising, given the fact that I was wearing black boots, blue-and-white socks that went up just barely past the top of the boots, a fairly formal purple floral skirt, a very casual T-shirt, and the earrings and necklace I had worn to church this morning. I fear that I may have committed some kind of fashion crime.

Louisville Kentucky5. It struck me as being very interesting that in today’s gospel reading, (John 20:19-31) Jesus identifies himself first to the group of disciples and then to Thomas by showing them his hands and side, where he bears marks from the crucifixion. I have always been puzzled by the fact that, after the resurrection, people who knew Jesus keep on not recognizing him, but it’s cool to note that even the very first Christians recognized Christ by His sacrifice for them; the crucifixion was the foundation for their faith. Another fascinating thing along the same lines is Luke 24:13-35, the part where Jesus talks to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They come to realize who Jesus is and to understand what he has done when he first explains the scriptures to them and then breaks bread and gives it to them. It’s Word and Sacrament.

6. I wish I was doing a jigsaw puzzle today. Given the fact that it’s 4:30 in the afternoon and I have yet to accomplish enough stuff to justify the existence of this day, I can’t really take the time to start one now. But a jigsaw puzzle seems like a fun thing to do right now, and besides, I have the feeling that there are many rambling thoughts I need to be thinking, and jigsaw puzzles are good things to do while thinking rambling thoughts. Unfortunately, I don’t really have time for rambling thoughts right now, either. That’s problematic, because it’s really hard to think organized thoughts when my brain is in rambling-thought mode.

Louisville Kentucky7. My hands smell like early December. It’s this new hand soap; I like its scent much better than the previous hand soap, but it seems all wrong for April. This anomaly in time disorients and confuses me.

8. Maybe this is just some kind of senioritis thing, but I have lately found myself having a very hard time distinguishing between reality and imagination. Just a minute ago, I suddenly and randomly remembered a certain recent conversation, but I couldn’t remember whether it was in real life, a dream, a movie, or just my imagination. I couldn’t even remember who the other person was. It doesn’t help that I’m taking a class in postmodernism, and some part of my mind is fascinated by the question of what constitutes reality.

Louisville Kentucky9. Along the same lines, I have noticed something very odd about college life. This is especially true of my current phase of college life, in which I am trying to figure out what in the name of Galoompa is going to happen after I graduate. Anything that has to do with “the real world”- looking into financial aid, jobs, places to live, etc .- involves sitting around and staring at a computer screen. Likewise, homework either involves computers or books. But when I step away from all of that and do something like running away to a certain secret hiding place and flipping over logs to look at the bugs underneath them, or driving in a literally real car on a literally real road, I can guarantee that everything happening in my head is abstract and/or imaginary. If I’m not pondering hypothetical questions or reliving conversations that never actually happened, I’m probably making up stories or determining details of some imaginary fantasy world. So “the real world” apparently exists only in my computer, and imagination apparently exists only in the outside world. The question is which reality is real, or rather, in which reality I am real. And the other question is, whether I’m actually trying to find reality or hide from reality.

Unedited Ramblings, Episode Two

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warningAs I pondered the many reasons that my life is meaningless and pointless, my mind latched onto the topic of how much I dislike a certain cliché. ‘Tis often said that one’s self-worth should not be defined by other people. This idea, which is related to the self-esteem trend, is used to negate the insecurities of people who feel disliked, to critique the opinions of people who feel lonely, and to undermine the unrealistic and superficial definition of love that is prevalent in pop culture. The last of these three objectives is the only one that has any merit, and even then, this cliché phrase addresses this cliché idea in the wrong way. I may or may not explain what I mean by that later. I can’t be sure at this point, since this is an unedited and unoutlined blog post. (Otherwise, it would be destined to forever remain an unfinished blog post, ‘cause I am kind of busy and stuff.)

disclaimerThe point of the aforementioned cliché about self-worth is that you shouldn’t worry about what other people think, that your relationships with other people don’t define who you are, and that you can live a good, happy, and purposeful life without other people being an important part of it. The first of those three points is often (but not always) true, depending upon the context. The second is kind of a philosophical point that you could argue either way; but I would argue that it’s false. I think that the relationships between family members, friends, classmates and coworkers, and even random strangers are so significant that it really is fair to say that a person is largely defined by their relationships with other people. After all, we describe people’s personalities based upon the way they interact with other people. The obvious example is that introversion vs. extroversion is one of the basic personality distinctions in every personality model with which I’m familiar. (Certainly in both the Myers-Briggs and the Big Five, which are the only two that are widely considered to be useful) Furthermore, most people’s moral values, opinions, interests, and tastes are at least strongly influenced by those of their family and friends. I realize that the “other people don’t define you” cliché doesn’t mean quite what I’m taking it to imply, but it seems to be that those implications are definitely present even if they aren’t intended. And then the third point mentioned above is definitely untrue. It’s meaningless to even try to argue that life is meaningful without other people.

triangle warningsI don’t mean that in a corny way. I’m not talking about emotional validation coming from the support and affection of other people. I’m questioning what it means to talk about meaning and purpose in life, and as far as I’m concerned, the answer to that question is pretty obvious. You accomplish meaningful things in life when your existence and your actions have a positive impact on the world around you. “The world around you”, of course, means other people. I suppose you could argue for the value of environmental work, but I would counter that even then, the reason it’s good to protect the environment is that it helps other people. Your personal talents, abilities, and situation in life will determine how exactly you’re supposed to make this impact, what degree of influence you will have, and how many people will be affected by you. But if nobody else is benefitting from you in any way, you’re either living only for your own enjoyment or accomplishing literally nothing at all. I don’t mean that to be a moralistic statement; I just think that it’s the obvious definition of purpose in life.

trianglesI didn’t intend to make that into a religious statement, either, and I feel like it’s necessary to point that out, because if this was supposed to have religious connotations, it would be terribly legalistic. The fact of the matter is that sin negates any good and purposeful things that we do, and that any individual’s net value is negative until you bring God’s forgiveness and salvation into the equation. And by Christ’s crucifixion, we are clothed in His righteousness, and it’s therefore no longer necessary for us to wonder whether we are living good and purposeful lives. That is, it’s not necessary for our salvation. That certainly doesn’t mean that we’re actually supposed to spend the rest of our lives doing nothing but lazily sitting around, playing Settlers of Catan online, and watching Mythbusters. (On a related note, guess what I did with my Friday night yesterday?)

tangent lineThe above paragraph, by the way, was not where I was intending to go with this; it was just a long tangent, which is what happens to one’s writing when one decides that one doesn’t have the time to decide what to write before one writes it, or to edit one’s writing afterwards. As I trace the tangent back to the point where it meets the topic at hand, I find that I seem to have gone off-course at the point that one’s purpose in life is in fact not independent of one’s relationship with other people. So I’ll go back to that point and follow it in the direction I had originally intended, until my brain gets distracted by another tangent. (I blame it on calculus. It’s hard to avoid tangents when you’re taking a calculus class and are expected to look for tangents.)

trigonometrySo, I am disagreeing with the idea that a person’s value is independent of other people, and instead saying that a person’s value comes from their relationships with other people, and that a person’s purpose is to make life a better place for other people. And just for clarification, I will add that by “relationship”, I’m not talking specifically about romantic relationships. I’m talking about any connection between people, whether it is between family, friends, acquaintances, or random strangers who briefly interact in a public place and never meet again or even remember the encounter. If I’m going to stick with my definition of purpose, then I have to come to the conclusion that any of these relationships can be used to do something purposeful.

scrabble and speed of lightHowever, since I have already used the term “romantic relationships”, (even though I used it only to say that I wasn’t specifically talking about it) I actually have something else to say about it, and that is this: I really don’t like the English word ‘love’. It’s not that I’m not opposed to the idea of romance, as anyone who knows me on tumblr would attest. (For some reason, tumblr seems to bring out an overly sentimental side in me, the kind of side that probably would have liked Titanic even if it didn’t have a great soundtrack and exploding lights. For example, the other day, I informed tumblr that I needed to fall in love with someone so that I could use the line, “The only thing that will ever come between us is the word ‘and.’“)The reason that I don’t like the word ‘love’ is that it has too many meanings that are very different. The Greek language has the right idea when it distinguishes between αγαπη, ερως, and φιλια. Incidentally, can you tell that I recently figured out how to use Greek letters in Microsoft Word? This, in my opinion, is extremely cool. I have now forgotten what I was about to say, and I think it was completely irrelevant anyway.

voicesThe general gist of what I’ve been saying here is that it’s not true that a person’s value has nothing to do with other people. And the reason that this seemed relevant is that it offered a somewhat more specific way for me to tell myself that my own life is pointless. I mean, I’m a full-time student, so pretty much all of my effort and energy goes into the attempts to make myself more knowledgeable. This has absolutely no impact whatsoever on the world around me. If I just randomly decided to stop trying and to instead dedicate my life to internet games, nobody except me would even notice any difference. It’s a depressing thought. Yeah, I think that’s where I was going with this whole thing. It may have looked like I had more positive and/or interesting things to say, but I didn’t. I warned you that this was a very disorganized and rambling blog post.

catanAnd now, the next thing I need to do is to decide whether Settlers of Catan or homework is more important tonight, and to rewrite a version of my to-do list that reflects this priority.

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon, Episode Five

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1. I have noticed an interesting pattern. Today is the third consecutive Sunday that the weather has been absolutely gorgeous despite having been less than satisfactory previously. Yesterday, it was dreary and cold and cloudy with flurries in the morning. I am in favor of snow, but ‘round these parts, early March is supposed to be springtime. I would have enjoyed the snow anyway if there had been very much of it or if it had actually stayed on the ground, but that wasn’t what happened. It wasn’t pretty or fun; it was just interesting, and anything good about it was outweighed by the annoyance of the cold. But when I woke up this morning, it was a bit warmer, and the clouds had mostly dissipated. They’re totally gone now, and the sky is blue. The view out my window isn’t nearly as pretty as it would be if there were leaves on the trees, but it still is quite nice. The birds are singing and the pale green grass reminds me of the fields of Settlers of Catan. Spellcheck tells me that Catan isn’t a real word. Silly spellcheck.

2. Just for the record, I would like to say that the people with whom I go to church are awesome people.

typos3. I really hate it when I catch typos in things I’ve already posted online. Fortunately, wordpress allows me to go back and edit things after I’ve posted them, and I frequently do post things before proofreading them, and then spend significant amounts of time making sure there aren’t any grammatical errors or typos. I didn’t do that for the one I posted last night, and now I notice that there are several mistakes. I could go back and fix them, but I have an inexplicable personal rule against editing something I posted online more than a couple hours ago. Either I have to break that rule, or those mistakes will stay there, tormenting me for all time. Actually, there’s another option. I could pretend that I did it on purpose and that it’s a game. Any grammar Nazis reading this are thereby invited to go back to my previous post (The one about the song Bohemian Rhapsody), make a list of the mistakes, and then put that list in the comments for this post. I don’t know how many there are, and you might catch some that I’ve missed every time I’ve looked. I kind of expect that nobody will actually participate in this game, but if anybody does, whoever finds the most mistakes wins. Sorry, there’s no prize, unless the satisfaction of grammatical superiority is its own reward.

Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed4. As of now, at 1:37 in the afternoon, the song going through my head is Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed. We did not sing this hymn at church today, nor did I sing it in the car on the way back. But since it’s a Lenten hymn, it is entirely appropriate for today anyway.

5. It’s a little weird how often people tell me I’m smart. While it’s true that my IQ is above average and my grades aren’t bad, it’s also true that I have difficulties telling my right from my left and am frequently too stupid to go inside when it rains. I think that the truth of the matter is just that I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are more aware of my strong points than my idiotic idiosyncrasies. But I guess I let that get to my head a little bit, because I’m kind of in the habit of considering myself to be unusually intelligent. I hope I’m not a conceited know-it-all. I don’t think I am, but that probably is one of those things that people can’t accurately judge about themselves.

6. I really hate it when I make one stupid move that loses the game. I was even thinking the right move while I did the stupid move. It was just so obvious that I was supposed to take the knight with my queen, because that knight wasn’t even protected, but instead I stupidly moved my king out of the knight’s check, and because of that, I lost my rook a couple moves later. Now I’m going to be annoyed at myself for this for the rest of the day.

chess game7. Well, that was an interesting game. And by “interesting” I mean “black really made some serious blunders there”, except that “black really made some serious blunders there” isn’t an adjective, so it doesn’t fit into the context very well. I have decided that if I was black, I would have played Nc6 in that situation. Alternatively, Be7 would have also prevented immediate checkmate. But black obviously didn’t notice either of those possibilities, because he moved his queen to a useless place and I checkmated with Qd8 in the next move. I also won the next two games, and they were both better games in the sense that no really bad mistakes were made, and so I earned those wins.

(EDIT: Not Nc6, duh. Stupid Self. It would have to be Be7.)

8. I am truly excited about the final paper I’m going to write for my postmodernism class. It’s going to be called “και ο λογος σαρξ εγενετο: Postmodernism vs. Logocentrism”. (The only problem is that I obviously want to say theological stuff in it, and I know that’s really not what the professor is looking for.) But first, I have to get through midterms. And before that, (right now, in fact) I have to do my math homework for the next two days.

Princess Bride9. A disturbing has just happened to me. I have just realized that there is a plot hole in The Princess Bride. (Inconceivable!) Two, actually, although they’re so closely related that I think they count as the same one. First, when Fezzik finds Inigo Montoya, he tells him about Vizzini’s death and the six-fingered man. It’s likely that Fezzik found Vizzini’s dead body, but how in the name of Galoompa did he find out about the six-fingered man? He never saw Count Rugen. I suppose we could imagine that they somehow crossed paths, but that doesn’t solve the second plot hole. When Prince Humperdinck turns on the torture machine and Inigo and Fezzik hear Westley’s scream, they know it’s “the man in black” because they know that his true love is marrying another. But how do they know that Princess Buttercup is his true love? They never found out who he was or why he was following them. It would have made sense for them to assume that Prince Humperdinck had sent “the man in black”.

10. Someone just followed me on tumblr who posts some really inappropriate things. I know this because, whenever someone new follows me, I always take a moment to look at their page, but that is definitely a page I won’t ever visit again. In fact, I clicked “ignore”, which is equivalent to denying the existence of this person; now I couldn’t find his page even if I looked for it. Although I am somewhat creeped out that this person followed me, I am also kind of amused, because now he’s going to be seeing Bible verses and hymn verses and quotations from Lutheran theologians on his dashboard.

11. Now that it’s gotten dark, it’s getting cold, and I feel like I ought to close my window. But I love having my window open. This is indeed a conundrum, and I do not know how to solve it. But I do know how to spell conundrum, and that, in my opinion, is an impressive feat.

Yes, I do look for every oppurtunity to make Matrix references. I ought to start looking for every oppurtunity to make Inception references, because that's an awesome movie, too.

Yes, I do look for every oppurtunity to post this image. I ought to choose a corresponding Inception image, because that’s an awesome movie, too.

12. Right now, I’m kind of having a hard time making myself do my homework and stuff. It seems like it would be a lot more entertaining to pace my room and think random thoughts about interesting things. I ought to learn several different languages and think random thoughts in different languages so that my brain can practice worthwhile things while I’m thinking random thoughts. Either that, or I need to learn how to think it a code based upon numbers. I think that it ought to be possible to convert every kind of idea into a simple mathematical expression or formula, and that this would increase the efficiency of every form of communication as well as simplifying the learning process, regardless of subject matter. Of course, the aesthetic and artistic quality of language still has value, and, as an English major, I shouldn’t dismiss it as impractical. The ideal balance would probably be to use language as a means of communication, but to use a mathematically coded thought process. Of course, then there would be a translation process involved every time I had to communicate thoughts, but I feel like that’s already the way things work in my life. This translation process would actually be easier if my thought code was mathematically based, rather than being whatever it is now. I’m really not sure what kind of code my brain uses now, but it’s very odd. I think it has multiple layers of coding, because sometimes I have some random images or numbers or emotions or phrases running around in my brain that I can’t readily connect to anything, but I have the sense that they are somehow related to reality or something akin to reality. Speaking of which, there’s something that begins with 2-1-5 in the first column that’s really important. I just can’t remember what it is, but there’s a word that has an O-I in the middle. Okay, Self, that’s enough of that. Now go do what you’re supposed to be doing right now. Whatever that is. Um, it has an A in it, and it’s yellow and light blue. Oh, yeah, calculus. Wait, no, I forgot! There’s that purple thing I have to do first!

Is it time for another Princess Bride reference now?

Is it time for another Princess Bride reference now?

13. Don’t you hate it when you start to watch an online video without intending to watch another one, but the background music is so annoying that you have to watch something better to keep from getting the wrong music stuck in your head?

14. I eagerly look forward to the coffee I shall drink tomorrow morning. Indeed, coffee is a great and wondrous thing.

This isn't from a game I played, but this is the same website. This image has become very familiar to me recently.

This isn’t from a game I played, but this is the same website. This image has become very familiar to me recently.

15. It’s getting late, which means that within a few hours, I’ll be playing Settlers of Catan.  I mean going to sleep. Because obviously, I’m not going to stay awake  until two in the morning sitting on my bed playing Settlers of Catan online. That’s not the kind of thing I would ever do. Well, actually, it is. In my life lately, there has been a very fine line between playing Settlers of Catan online and sleeping, so who knows which one will end up taking precedence tonight. (See the earlier remark about my idiocy)

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