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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Canada

Things I have learned about Canada:
- The ducks sound like robots
- People drive frighteningly fast
- You can't watch videos on hulu
- Garbage manifests rapidly in garbage cans next to bus stops
- There is a greater selection of plants at home depot
- There are so many ethnic restaurants
- Brilliant inventions-- campfire buttwarmer (diagram to come)
- Tim Horton's is not very good actually, the mocha seemingly contained no coffee whatsoever
- Grocery stores are hard to come by in Richmond
- There are whole stores devoted to globes and maps

Friday, May 28, 2010

Priorities

Sometimes you've got to make a judgement call.
Sometimes you've got to put your foot down,
and say,
"I am not going to spend the first minutes
of my 19th year on this earth
watching a camera pan over Sarah Jessica Parker's shoes."
And that's final.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How I Write

The method employed in my writing process consists of a complicated tangle of procrastination efforts, internal rambling, and self-editing that can take from as short as an hour to weeks or months on end, depending on the perceived difficulty of the writing task . The only way to truly quantify this claim is to provide real-life documentation as an example. The current writing task I am engaged in? A ten page research paper written in APA format-- a style I have little experience with-- for my 16 credit program. This research paper assignment was explained to me at the beginning of April, allowing me adequate time to complete it. However, most of that time was frittered away with a variety of time management decisions, excuses, an existential crisis, self doubt, and general anticipation of its apparent difficulty. This essay just so happens to be one of the procrastination efforts, as I sit in the library, reclined comfortably next to a perfect-people-watching-perch, no longer possessing much will to write further than the six pages I have achieved.

A detailed list of my previous and current procrastination efforts may shed some light on my writing process. First and foremost, solitaire. You may or may not be familiar with this game, as it comes standard with most time-wasting-game-suites on popular computer operating systems. Whenever I feel the urge to start writing, I will open a word document, stare at the whiteness of the page, read an abstract from one of my research articles, and then open an obligatory game of solitaire. If I fail at the first game, resulting in an impassable stall in the game, I will direct my cursor to the 'Deal' button, and restart. Generally the second game is a success, but only if the king of hearts is the last to be placed before the win-signalling cacophony of pixelated playing cards is displayed. If I fail to follow this course of action, I will play another game. Should I fail three consecutive deals, I will exit the game and continue writing.

A related procrastination effort is sudoku, with a similar three failure termination limit. Though these techniques are effective in avoiding the writing task, sometimes it is necessary to leave any environment where work might be possible to achieve ideal procrastination. The best means of doing so that I have found is to either ride my bike somewhere extraneously distant from my work, or to purchase-- or brew-- and consume copious amounts of ginger ale. When possessing the adequate willpower to remain in an environment ideal for working, I have had to devise a myriad of more creative ways to procrastinate.

Environments such as my apartment are ideal for cooking, music playing, comic drawing, napping, massage giving, throwing objects with little to no warning, finding creative ways to use a sleeping bag as a fort, the reading of unrelated materials, and conversation. In contrast, the library lends a whole new array of distractions, including book spine brushing, poetry book reading with the employment of olfactory senses, arranging my body in amusing ways in the chair, people watching, gaining a complete understanding of the avian flyaway system installed on the window through extensive research and observation, and sparking conversations with people who I either know or who seem particularly engrossed in their studies.

Important time must also be expended toward internal rambling. Topics vary in this activity, and possess essentially no limitations in regards to subject matter. Some recurring topics include birds, the ability to absorb the information of entire books simply by looking at the spine, other people's shoes and their implications, new recipes, interesting ways of re-lacing my tennis shoes, staring at my hands and wondering about what it would be like to live without thumbs, devising interesting questions for the library info-desk employees, and the meaning of life.

Another important element in my writing process is music selection. I have painstakingly organized my iTunes library for ideal visual appearance, making absolutely sure to provide the appropriate album cover for each album, and the appropriate images to miscellaneous compositions. I find it best to choose music on a whim, however, once a preferential whim has been acted upon, the musical selections that follow tend to stay within the same genre or sentimental association. Sometimes my musical needs will change mid-album. In cases like this, I am forced to stop working and choose another album or artist. This process of musical selection becomes infinitely more complicated when I feel the urge to listen to something that is not in my iTunes library.

Once all of the vital elements of distraction and preparation have been completed, the writing process can really begin. The perfect environment is achieved, I am focused, and all of the necessary materials are within close reach. Then begins the self-editing process, during which I sit, staring perplexed at the screen or paper, shuffling my internal thesaurus to find the perfect words. Upon sentence completion, a read-through review is carried out, during which I decide whether or not my word selection is suited to my intent. Often it is not, and further backspacing and revision occurs.

When the piece reaches its initial completion, it is proofread, further revised, and then submitted to a trusted party for review. These parties include my mum (who will tell me that it is great, provide a few spelling and grammatical corrections, and then, if the piece is more than 5 pages, claim that she has to cook dinner), my dad (who will read the piece thoroughly, interject with his own notions, and suggest editing the entire piece to suit aforementioned notions-- this request is denied without fail), or a friend (who will just tell me it is great and say nothing more, though this is not always true, often times their commentary is very insightful and much appreciated). I will then determine that the only way to get something done is to do it myself, and revise the piece. If a more viable option is available in the way of a reader, such as one of the aforementioned friends who are willing to risk hurting my feelings, I will turn to them for another revision. Upon completion of this, I will once again read the piece, consider their commentary and complete the writing process.

Orwell Knows Best

What is on my mind: The Reader's Digest version:

- The English language is really ineffective.
- Disciplines steeped in the English language are somewhat ineffective, psychology in particular, as it tries to make a science of words describing things that cannot really be defined with accuracy.
- There is beauty in the natural order of the world.
- I intend to take a vow of silence for an extended period of time, but I foresee complications as my job involves answering phones, perhaps I could make an exception only at work?
- My intent in taking a vow of silence would be to test other means of communication and sense.
- There is an emerging pattern of behavior that I am noticing I tend toward. This particular pattern of behavior involves connecting with people, and then promptly pushing them away. I need to change this, it is self destructive, however, I feel I need to find the root of it to do so.
- I have abandoned deep introspection for too long.
- I have had thoughts that should scare me, but no longer do.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gutteral Intuition

Hints dropped in the past have led me, in light of emerging information, to this feeling. I hope that it is just a falacy of my mind, a cruel trick I am playing on myself, but yet I still feel. A history of self destructive behavior, Nihilism, do they stand resolute? I hardly speak to them these days, aside from a nod in passing. Always so distant, even when close enough to touch. Aside from the time when the mystery left the room to be replaced by honesty. I worry. Maybe for nothing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer and Fall

I registered for classes! This summer I am (prospectively, if financial aid comes through) taking Organic Chemistry Lab I and Organic Chemistry Lab II. I had orginally intended to take statistics, however, I am deviating from psychology for awhile, scoping out my other options. In doing so, I have essentially ended my existential crisis. This is an exciting development, as I was growing tired of that mind state. As for fall, I am taking The Practice of Sustainable Agriculture, and Audio Recording I. Twenty credits... woo! Goodbye social life, hello books. Well, I somehow felt obligated to write when I don't really have time to think or have all that much to say, so I'll just end this instead of rambling on.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Drifting

So much has happened since this time last year. This time last year I was gearing up to graduate, and taking about a billion "mental health days" (also known as "stay home, read Vonnegut, drink tea days"). I never really thought I would get this far, nor did I comprehend what getting this far entailed. I've only recently realized that I don't have any authority figures in my life anymore, aside from the government I suppose? But I've never had any run-ins with the law anyway, so that's hardly on my radar. I wake up every morning and determine what I am going to do without much of any outside guidance, and am doing surprisingly well, and being productive-- or if not productive, at least happy. It surprises me that I exhibit the same misanthropic tendencies. It's not pessimism so much as introversion. I need time to recharge, I need time away from the world, to remember why I ever choose to engage. I feel stress burgeoning up on my contentedness again though, despite moments alone. I feel the same wanderlust that has always been just a step behind me when it is not walking in the same stride. I find myself shaking the foundations of my future just to see what will happen; if things will settle back in the same way or shift entirely. Will I ever really decide what I want to do with my future? I don't know that as of yet, and it scares me. Things will work out the way they ought to, simply because, well, whatever way they end up is the way they ought to. But I desperately want to take the reins, and do, every so often, only to find that when I do so, I feel trapped and panicked. Right now I just want to run away, but I know that I can't, because I came here willingly, of my own volition, and I can't throw it away. I want summer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Procrastination Soup


Recipe, originally uploaded by organicallyvagrant.

Om nom nom.

Procrastination

The ability to waste time while being provided as few distractions as possible is a unique talent, one that I have mastered. The uncanny ability to see what can be done rather than ones work is not necessarily a welcome talent though. I'm doing it right now in fact, as I write, when I should be writing an outline for a paper. Do I feel sorry? No. I feel pretty damned good about this choice. I have enough time to finish the paper anyway, the only deadline I am breaking is the one I willfully inflicted on myself. I made good soup yesterday. Maybe I'll write up a soup recipe? Yeah, that's what I'll do. Damn, I'm good at this.

Beardman!


beardman, originally uploaded by organicallyvagrant.

The first installation of The Adventures of Beardman!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Black and White

There is, by my deduction, a very distinct difference between knowledge and intelligence. One can be knowledgable without holding any real level of intellect, and one can be intelligent without holding any real knowledge on a particular subject. That doesn't make much sense reading it back to myself. I think it may be the language I am using. One cannot actually hold knowledge or intellect, they are incorporeal, they cannot be held. Unless you consider knowledge to be solely based on experience, or intelligence to be the neural firings of your brain-- which it is of course-- and make an effort to physically hold onto your cranium on a regular basis, which would just look silly. Also, my use of the phrase "real knowledge". What does that entail? I suppose it would make more sense to explain it as something that is reliable, that is verifiable and tested, and that holds true in most situations. What about a novel piece of information? Is it any less valid because it has not be reliably recreated? I suppose my asking of these questions reveals some form of intelligence. I suppose it doesn't matter anyway, unless I am trying to gauge my ability to thrive in an academic environment-- which doesn't really apply at Evergreen because there is not a feeling of competition but of self betterment, at least in the case of those people, in my opinion, valid or not, who actually seem to understand the value of this institution.
So, what is intelligence? Is it intuition? Is it knowledge? Is it awareness? Is it common sense? Is it logic? What the hell is it and why does it have such value as a human or animal trait? According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, intelligence has 9 particular definitions that are applicable in different situations, many with sub-definitions that apply in particular circumstances within more general situations; it is also defined as a noun (person, place, thing):

Here's the whole gang, maybe I can make sense of it all?

1.capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, et cetera.

Alright, so, the ability to obtain and comprehend knowledge? Maybe a quick detour to look at how knowledge is defined is in order, or, perhaps I should wait?

2.manifestation of a high mental capacity: He writes with intelligence and wit.

Intellect is not intellect if it can be interpreted as such by an outside source?

3.the faculty of understanding.

See definition 1? This all seems a bit redundant to me.

4.knowledge of an event, circumstance, et cetera, received or imparted; news; information.

So, the ability to obtain and comprehend knowledge, and to impart that knowledge to an outside source.

5.the gathering or distribution of information, especially secret information.

See definition 4? Is this intentionally muddled?

6.Government.
a.information about an enemy or a potential enemy.
b.the evaluated conclusions drawn from such information.
c.an organization or agency engaged in gathering such information: military intelligence; naval intelligence.

Is intelligence an evolutionary invention? A survival mechanism?

7.interchange of information: They have been maintaining intelligence with foreign agents for years.

See defintion 4.

8.Christian Science. a fundamental attribute of god, or infinite Mind.

Not really relevant to this argument in my opinion.

9.(often initial capital letter) an intelligent being or spirit, esp. an incorporeal one, as an angel.

See definition 8.

By the looks of the definition(s) of "knowledge", the two are strikingly similar. Though knowledge puts more importance on the ability to comprehend and communicate experiences and information, while intelligence is the capacity to gain knowledge, or at least the raw materials-- experiences, information-- necessary to form a base of knowledge.
Why is the English language seemingly intentionally vague? It's really very irritating, language is supposed to help us communicate, not created a variety of miscommunication hurdles that we must clear before we can make our point. I've got more mulling away to do on this matter...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sudsy Subungual

Today was quite lovely, I rose early to go to work, which was actually interesting today because there was more to do than sit around making origami Totoros. Afterward, I made lunch and took a nap. Though, the nap was a bit tricky because Kevin was on the couch and I had to make every effort not to kick him while he worked on his research project. I feel I was successful in this task. Life without facebook has thus far been alright. I am a little concerned by the fact that I did not make a sufficient effort at retrieving alternate contact information for many people that I would like to continue to communicate with. Oh well, things will work out. I do feel better though, I am forced to actually think about things, rather than just spit out status updates about any menial event in my existance.
Yesterday was nice as well. I strung a hammock between two trees out near the field and lounged for awhile. I had intended to read, but instead ended up staring at the trees and trying to decipher wind patterns. This seemed a more valuable use of my time. This activity lasted until I was invited to play basketball-- or in this case, some form of wheelchair-less murderball. There are bruises all over.
I have begun to consider the possibility of exploring other scholarly paths. Though pyschology is very interesting to me, the prospect of separating my professional life so strictly from my personal life strikes me as nearly impossible. I really don't know if I am capable of doing so, considering the amount of empathy I possess, and my general lean toward altruistic behaviour. I would be entering the discipline to help people, but what of my own life? My intent is to lead a happy life; one in which I touch many people and many people touch me (get your mind out of the metaphorical gutter, you know what I mean). I am considering taking the 'Food, Health, and Sustainability' course in the Fall. It intrigues me, and I would get to draw copious amounts of flowcharts, which I am very excited about. If I did take this direction rather than taking Student Originated Studies, I would feel justified. It is still early in my college career, I have time for this now. I can imagine myself cooking more than I can imagine myself psychoanalysing people, maybe that will change, maybe it won't, but I have to go with my intuition on this and see what happens.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Concerning Temptation

I don't have a go-to way to procrastinate that isn't productive anymore. I just have to write or read or do something worthwhile, instead of posting a status update about how bored I am, I like it. I also like that nobody can find me with ease anymore, if someone wants to talk to me, or vice versa, it takes a little more effort. I am enjoying a facebook free existance. Who knew that humanity would ever encounter this problem? I don't want to rely so heavily on technology anymore. I want to be able to disconnect at any time, so I have more time to think. I talked to people I didn't know on the bus today, which was interesting. It beat the heck out of staring at my phone the whole time. I think this is a step in the right direction.

Disconnect to Engage

Tonight was good. I climbed a really tall ladder and discovered an advantageously placed window. I'm really tired now though, so I think I will go to sleep. I deactivated my facebook, at long last. I am quite proud of that accomplishment, though I keep having the temptation to go on there. It was just the logical thing to do. It was keeping me from forging real connections with people, and generally overloading me with useless and irrelevant information. I feel confident in my decision. I also feel sleepy. Adieu.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Melatonin

I can't sleep, so I lay here on this old futon, staring at the wall, consider going for a walk, decide against it, and continue staring at the wall. A typical progression. What can I do about it? Very little I suppose. Neil Simon and Art Garfunkel are singing to me about how they are so tired, but I'm not taking a hint. So I lay here, letting my mind wander. If I wasn't alone I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway, but the thought crosses my mind. It doesn't matter either way, I'd still be awake when I ought to be asleep. So, stream of consciousness... as fast as I can type...

Milo and Otis was and is a fantastic film. Mrs. Robinson is sort of a creepy song when you think about it. I wonder if I would think about different things if I didn't have music on? I like that bass pattern. That guitar intro makes me think of summertime. Boom boom bass drum kicking. I'd like to take a train across the country. It would be neat to have a song written about me someday. Celicia was a bit loose from what I gather. What is that instrument? I am glad there are leaves on the trees again, the sun looks so pretty on them in the morning, and they bustle about so perfectly in the wind. Did I eat dinner? Nope. Shoot. Oh well, I think I'll be fine, I feel fine. I wish I was better at punching. Should I ride my bike to work tomorrow? That would be nice. My shoulders are tense. Maybe if I wiggle them like that... No, not really. I wonder what everyone at Evergreen was like before college?

That's enough. I feel like Faulkner now. Not sure if I'm pleased about that?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cultivating Superstitions

Casually strolling down the ramp toward the waiting plane, I make a habit of touching the craft before I board, willing it to soar safely. Useless superstition, but it comforts me. Limitless others possess similar and drastically different superstitions about flying, and it's obvious that my particular method is shared by many, as the metal shows through in a worn way next to the rivets by the door. Turbulence is a troubling thing, it shakes men in ties and women with infants to the core, their nerves growing fragile. I shuffle down the aisle, flying coach; they've put me in the nosebleeds again, where is the emergency exit? Vacantly staring out the window, the man in the seat next to me with a briefcase on his lap turns to acknowledge my arrival. Awkward. This is going to be a long flight, I expect no conversation, as I have no interest in the stock market and he has no interest in daisy chains and salt water taffy, at least none that he would venture to admit. I lift my lone bag into the overhead, pushing it toward the back. Not a word, just a look, I clutch my book, buckle the safety belt. Gate is left, safety routine demonstrated, the tough tattooed man diagonal to me watches a romantic comedy, 'He's Just Not That Into You', I chuckle inwardly.

Vertically soaring, earth below, I crane my neck to look out the window, marveling at the cloud kingdom. Old woman in the seat across the aisle coughs gingerly, the recirculated air swirling her lungs. I try to hold my breath for awhile, hoping my ear drums will pop. Courtesy beverages are distributed, and a complimentary breakfast of cornflakes and a muffin that is sweeter than ought be legal. Everything goes according to plan, we land safely in Texas, I've never been to Texas before, it's hot and everything has doubled in size.

Concerning Nutrients

Commandeering the text is all too common in the editing process; the intent of the author too often betrayed by the intent of the reader. Despite good intentions, we all have an agenda, a perspective, a bias, and if we aren't careful it looms darkly like a great grey cloud over a beautiful rolling idea. I too am guilty of casting this shadow. My efforts at altruistic editing in the past have been colored by my own will to inflict perfect syntax and grammar on the world. How can I change this habit?
Understanding that the real point of editing is not actually to edit, to change, or to transform, but to inspire and contribute in a non-intrusive manner is vital. It's a delicate matter, achieving the balance between bias and cultivation. The beautiful thing about it is, it's a lot like cultivating vegetables, you merely water and provide nutrients. Though, in the case of cultivating a creative process, the water and nutrients are replaced by ideas, suggestions, new insights, different perspectives.
Letting things grow organically in a creative process is difficult sometimes. Like when you were young, and you planted a seed in a small terra cotta pot, your efforts at willing it to germinate on the sunny windowsill with only your eyes and encouraging words were futile, it would happen in due time, and hopefully you would become distracted at some point along the way, lest you wished to stare at potting soil for days on end. You have to remove yourself from the process as much as humanly possible. This can be achieved by listening, rather than waiting to speak, hearing the concerns and intentions of the author, acknowledging them, connecting with them, understanding them.
This is not an easy assignment, to detach your opinions and wants from the process. The author often knows the solutions they are looking for when they sit down, they just need to consciously recognize them. But sometimes something novel can be contributed, something unexpected yet strangely destined. This novel idea should not betray the intent of the writer, but compliment it. Relate to the writer, get to know them a little, understand their perspective, if only from the narrow area that makes up the soles of your shoes. Don't miser-ate watching the ideas sprout, enjoy the fleeting period of mindful growth.
If you like, think of the work as a living thing, a plant? The water, sunlight, and nutrients in the soil are ideas and experiences, little pieces of knowledge that fit the form of the work perfectly. The seed is planted; the assignment is given, the notion to create is pursued. The soil consists of the author's perspective. Water and sunlight serve to nourish the seed; ideas feed into the work. Watch it grow in passing, it will happen naturally, just water, and expose to light, as the seed will not grow in darkness, the work will not grow alone and isolated from outside perspectives, it will remain static. Words are like all growing things, they need to see the light, they need to be fed a healthy diet of ideas and experiences, or they will wilt into insignificance, if only in the mind of the writer.
How can the reader avoid being the dark gray cloud that keeps the sun from the work? How can the writer bring the work into the light of day without fear of judgment? That is our struggle. We must read mindfully, in the moment, nonjudgmentally. We must be conscious of our bias, in order to keep it from overshadowing the intentions of the work. We must remember to become distracted enough to allow the work to grow. We must work to cultivate consciousness.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cultivating Consciousness

Cultivating consciousness;
Ultimate empowerment,
Lines erased,
Time infinite.
In the moment
Venturing the gap
Attaining the goal.
The captain yells,
"Ignition!"
Nothing left behind
Gratuitous movement of mind.

Voices sing out
Oratorical melodies,
Injustices of the soul
Creating something.
Entropy is matter diverging back into mind.