Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I think my exhaustion from being a chronic insomniac is starting to peak . . . I simply haven't gotten enough sleep lately - 5 to 6.5 hours a night is NOT enough. Here are two major signs:

1. Forgetfulness
So during my Chinese test today, I forgot how to write part of my Chinese name. After freezing up for about 5 seconds, I proceed to write a small part of it wrong, catching myself right after I turned in my exam and left the room. Forgetting like this is kind of like forgetting how to tie your shoes, then proceed to do it slightly differently than you used to. Things like this just don't happen. To get a sense of what the mistake might look like, an analogy would be spelling "field" incorrectly in cursive by dotting the "e" instead of the "i," something stupid like that. Sigh.

2. Irritability/irrationality
So, I was trying to figure out how to type Chinese on my laptop. I thought I had it, but something was weird. So I asked my friend, JW-M to help me. He took my mouse and accidentally hovered over what I was downloading (gay porn, haha) for a split second. I don't think he bothered to read (or realize even) the little bubble that popped up, but I kind of mini-freaked. So I grabbed my mouse back and made a tiny scene, which made me feel stupid afterwards. Oh well. I should really "come out" to him, as he's one of few people I totally trust. He was my roommate freshman year for crying out loud (and a pretty good one at that).

Okay, enough of this. I will sleep now.

So, I've noticed in recent weeks that there seems to be a disproportionate number of left-handed people on campus. About 10% of the general population is left-handed, but that percentage appears to be much higher on campus. Being left-handed myself, my eyes kind of gravitate directly to which hand people are using. Now, what does this mean. Are left-handed people smarter? Hmmm . . . Okay, sleep now, I swear.

Monday, October 29, 2007

This Totally Made My Day

And this is also me being Asian . . . and a dork. This happened in the middle of my Chinese class today:

BF-M: ::cell phone goes off, half the class laughs::
ML-F: You dork! Your ring tone's from Bleach*!!
BF-M: How do you know?!
ML-F: Because I'm a dork too.

Bleach* is a really sweet anime (in my opinion). The only other anime I'm watching currently is Naruto Shippuuden.

So yeah, half the class (maybe more) laughed at his ring tone, which was one of the Bleach opening themes. It's "D-tecnolife" by UVERworld. We're so Asian, watching anime and all, haha.

Here's a YouTube clip of the 2nd Bleach opening with D-tecnolife as the theme.

Yup, totally made my day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'm so sore, particularly in my legs and sides. Why, you might ask? Because I was playing Rally. What's Rally, you might wonder? Well, it's a game that several of my friends and I invented 2 years ago. In a quick summary, Rally is kind of somewhere in between American football (not to be confused with football in the rest of the world, aka soccer) and rugby, only it's non-contact. Here are the rules (to the best of my memory):
The field is set up similarly to a football field with 2 end-zones, one on either side. There are no "backs" to the end-zones.

There are 2 teams, preferably with 4+ players on each team. There is, as of yet, no upper limit to how many people there can be on each team so long as there are the same number of players on each team.

Rules of the ball
Rally uses either an American football or a rugby ball, depending on the preference of the players. We (my friends and I) prefer to use a rugby ball.

There are 3 things you can do with the ball: a forward pass (overhand), a free pass (underhand), or keep the ball.
- A forward pass is where the ball is thrown forward overhand, like in football. If a forward pass is incomplete, the ball is automatically turned over to the opposing team where it hits the ground.
- A free pass is where the ball is thrown underhand in any direction. If a free pass is fumbled, the ball is "live" and anyone can pick up the ball and the game continues.

Game progression
Rally begins with either a kickoff or a throw to the opposing team. The opposing team may then do one of two things: pick up/catch the ball and "knee" where the ball stops rolling, or pick up/catch the ball and start running.

When a player knees (or "takes a knee"), he/she gets a "free send." During a free send, the player with the ball cannot be tagged, but he/she can't move from the spot either. He/she must throw the ball to a team member. You can never throw the ball to yourself (because that's just cheap).

If you're tagged (one-handed) by an opponent while you have the ball, you must turn over the ball to that opponent where you were tagged. That opponent then gets a free send. Anyone can call tags: if you're tagged and you know it, you call tag on yourself; if you tag someone and you know it, you call tag on them; if you see someone get tagged, you call tag on them; etc.

Whenever an opponent either intercepts or recovers the ball from a free pass fumble, he/she has the option of kneeing and giving a free send instead of immediately running.

One point is awarded when a team makes a touchdown in the opposing team's end-zone. The losing team must then walk to the other end-zone and await a kick/throw to begin the next round.
That's pretty much it, it's a fairly simple and straight-forward game. There's a couple situation-specific rules that were made on-the-spot because we had to, and there was something called a "rally" that I can't quite remember what it was. But if memory serves me correctly, a rally is rather difficult to get, so it's awarded 2 points when it is. Incidentally, one of my friends actually has a rule book that he made up for Rally - it's fairly detailed.

Anyway, we played Rally for over 2 hours right before the football game. It was wet, muddy, and lightly raining while we played. There was much slipping, sliding, falling, and fumbling. Compound that with standing for 3 hours at the football game and my legs are essentially shot. And today I almost couldn't get out of bed because my legs were so sore, but it was SO worth it.

I'm nowhere near the most athletic person playing Rally, but I can hold my own. I'm not the fastest, but I'm not the slowest; I'm not the best thrower/catcher, but again I'm not the worst either. I'm "bad" enough that I'm often forgotten about, but good enough that I shouldn't be underestimated (which I often am, an advantage to me). I tend to assume support/assist roles, where I either recover a fumble and pass it to a "better" player or I recover the ball and finish it into the end-zone for a touchdown. In multi-player computer games I also tend to assume such roles, either by augmenting my friend's armies with my own as backup, or by being the healer. I guess it's just part of my nature to support.

So grab 7+ friends and start playing Rally yourself. It's great and easy to learn, and I certainly hope it becomes a college phenomenon long after I graduate. Brought to you by Aek of the Midwest.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Birthday Travels

Okay, here's the post I was going to blog like, half a week ago or something like that. So, I've been spending quite a bit of money on my friends' birthdays thus far this semester. Yes, it's all been fun, but it still hurts to see the numbers in my account go down that quickly (or more readily, the speed at which my wallet empties itself). So, here are the two places we went to.
RZ-F's birthday
For her birthday we (about 8 of us) decided to go to Canada for a day on a Saturday. We first went to some place in Windsor, Ontario, for dim sum. It's like this "famous" dim sum place, at least amongst Asians in every US state bordering Ontario and probably in Ontario too. I recognized it immediately as my family used to go there sometimes. And yeah, the food was still good, and hopefully it'll always be good.

A little background on "dim sum." Dim sum is (I think) a Southern Chinese thing. It's basically a certain kind of brunch/lunch where you don't order dishes. The waiters wheel around carts with a wide assortment of appetizers on them. You basically just eat appetizer after appetizer. The appetizers are things like sesame balls, egg custard tart, dumplings, and a variety of steamed or baked buns. You can order an actual dish, like pan-fried noodles or something, if you want, but that's not critical to dim sum - the carts and carts of appetizers are.

After dim sum, we went to this place called Pelee Point. It's a really cool nature area near one of the Great Lakes (don't remember which one, Lake Erie I think). There was a marshland that we went to first, there were frogs there! Pelee Point itself is where this part of the beach juts out into the lake. 3 of my friends and I took the "scenic" route through the woods. Then we found the road again, haha. Somehow, the 4 of us made it to the end of Pelee Point before the other group of 4, who wanted to walk along the beach. It was a great view from Pelee Point, as you'll in the next several pics.

After we finished up at Pelee Point, we went to the casino in Windsor. RZ-F wanted to gamble a bit, but most everyone else just wanted to see what there was to drink. I didn't really want to partake in either, but I must admit, some of the drinks did taste really good. I liked this particular drink with blue Curacao, Sprite, and lemon/lime juice. Also, "sex on the beach" is a really good drink too, haha. Towards the end of our time in the casino, I had 2 drunk friends (girls) in arms - one hooked on each - trying to steer them in the right directions. Alas, I'm always the one stuck like this in such situations. I ended up going home in a car with the 2 drunk ones; that would've been interesting when crossing the border if they hadn't both fallen asleep.

SR-F's birthday
So SR-F's wanted to take us (RZ-F, JW-F, and me) up north for the weekend of her birthday. Her family owns a condo just north of Petoskey, MI. Driving all the way up there too several hours, and the weather was nasty - rainy, cold, and dark. That first night was unpleasant.

But the next day (Saturday) was amazing. By mid-morning, the clouds had cleared and the sun had come out. We first went to a corn maze at some farm. That was entertaining for a little while - 4 college students getting stupidly lost in a muddy and puddle-filled corn maze. Then we went even further north to Harbor Springs, which was a nice tourist-y town on Lake Michigan. It was a really nice area and I love walking through Midwest downtown areas. And the fall colors were amazing - another prominent feature of the Midwest.

Later that day, right before sunset, we went to a lighthouse in Petoskey. It was really cool watching the sun set beneath the lake from the lighthouse (it was a small lighthouse). Then came the highlight of the day.

Oh yeah, we went out to eat every meal . . . so that accrued quite a sum. We ate dinner at this local place which was okay, and then went for ice cream afterwards. Oh, how I do love ice cream. Anyway, back to the highlight of the day. Around 1:30am or so, there was supposed to be the Orionid Meteor Shower. Around dinnertime new clouds had rolled in, but by 1am or so, the sky was clear again! So we went out onto the balcony of SR-F's family condo and watched the sky for meteors. Honestly, even if there weren't meteors, there were SO many visible stars because we were in a rural area with very little light pollution. I hadn't seen that many stars and constellations so clearly in years! (I used to be a huge astronomy nut in like elementary/middle school.) They were truly beautiful and I found it touching, for lack of better words. But of course we also saw several meteors go by (at a rate of maybe 1-3 every 5 minutes or so), and that was really really cool. I only regret that my digital camera wasn't good enough to capture anything in such low light. We watched the meteors until almost 3am, but then we really needed to sleep as we were going to head out by 9am in the morning.

I woke up around 8am or so, early enough to see the sun rise. So I took several pictures. I love taking scenic pictures. That pretty sums up that entire trip. SR-F, JW-F, and I had to be back for orchestra rehearsal that afternoon, so we sped along on the highway.
So I hope everyone enjoys these pics as much as I do. Pictures capture great memories. And now that I've finished drinking my green tea, it's time to take a shower then watch anime or something before going to sleep.

Friday, October 26, 2007

That Bitch!

I'm usually one of two things. I'm either pretty stoic, the quiet person who only speaks up when something needs to be said, something contributed, or something corrected. Or I'm the silly person who says the most random things that sometimes (0ften?) make no sense. In any case, I'm not a short-tempered person nor do I get angry easily. Anger is an emotion I bottle up, but when it's full or when something sets me off, the results won't be pleasant.

Now, this hasn't been the best week. I got back my first exams for 3 classes. I didn't do well on two of them (above average but still a low B, which is like failing by Asian standards). The first exam was just poorly written and points were taken off for nit-picky things, how I hate that (and that class). The second exam was simply because I didn't have enough time to study for it adequately, so that's excusable. But, what happened in my environmental journalism class is unforgivable.

I had worked quite hard on a profile of an "important person whose work impacts the environment or public health." I thought I had done fairly well. Well, I got a B+. I'm irked because I haven't gotten below an A- on any final draft of a paper since like middle school, but that's all beside the point; I can live with that grade. What really ticked me off was the instructor's comments (she's not a professor, and I refuse to call her such).

On a second interim draft I sent, she made some comments and suggestions, things I actually attempted to do within the remaining 2 days or so before the final draft was due. Well, her comments on why I got a B+ was so insulting that it made me furious. My jaw dropped at what I was reading. When I get mad - like really mad - my arms and hands get numb, I get light-headed and lose balance, and I get really hot or cold. I was definitely feeling these "symptoms."

Here's what she wrote at the end of my final draft:
"This is definitely better than your original. It reads better than before. And you do a better job describing the significance of her work. I would still have liked more from other secondary sources who can discuss her as a person, not just her work. Colleagues could even discuss her personal traits. And, more importantly, I had asked you to ask her about her own experiences as an older mother. Did she have pre-term labor? If she didn’t, then obviously, it’s not relevant and you wouldn’t put it in. Also, I was hoping you could interview someone she knows personally, like a friend or family member, including one of her children, especially her daughter. Was she a role model to her? I had mentioned that in the interim draft you sent me. That type of information would make this less one-dimensional and more interesting for readers.

Grade: I would do no more than a B plus, since he didn’t address my earlier comments."

That bitch! Okay, I really did try to address her "earlier comments." I interviewed my person a second time (albeit via email) and asked questions I was totally not comfortable asking, like whether being an older mother gave her difficult pregnancies such as pre-term labor. The answer: nothing was out of the ordinary, everything went normally. How am I supposed to put something in my paper that doesn't exist? And through her I tried to contact her family via email, but they didn't respond. How am I supposed to put something in my paper when I can't get the info? Particularly when I only had about 36 hours to do it. Even if I somehow manage to contact them, I don't have a car and thus have no way of reaching them for a personal face-to-face interview. I actually said this in an email to her, so she knew I was unable to interview the person's family though I tried.

The instructors of this class fail to understand that we are undergrads - that we have other classes, busy schedules, etc. We don't have the time nor means to a lot of the stuff they ask us to. Oh yeah, then there's this . . .

What I wrote:
"LC spent her childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city with huge smog problems that used the heavily-industrialized Ohio River as its water source. “I watched news stories of a river so heavily polluted with combustible hydrocarbons that it caught on fire,” recalls LC."

Her comment:

"I presume she’s referring to Lake Erie in Cleveland, right? That’s a famous story, so you might want to mention that detail."

What?! Did she really just say that?! Clearly, the person I interviewed grew up in Cincinnati, not Cleveland. And it's pretty clear that I said "river" and not "lake," and that this river logically refers to the Ohio River in the previous sentence. I still find it hard to believe she wrote that comment.

I'm totally going to email her back tomorrow when my mind has settled a bit and clarify what I wrote and why, and how I actually did try to follow her comments. I don't expect it to change my grade, but I do expect her to feel some guilt about writing/talking smack about my final draft.

Am I just being anal and really defiant about this? Maybe, but I don't think so. I want justification. I dislike it when I've been unfairly (or stupidly) criticized.

So I was browsing the internet, as I'm wont to do (often too much). And on I think Dudetube, I came across a picture of the guy from this site. Now, the golden retriever puppies on that site (since it's a site about puppies) are really quite adorable, but the guy holding them is just so damn hot. It's not fair. I wish I had his body. Sigh.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Funny Stuff

So, it's late and I'm too tired to write a longer post (will do so tomorrow). In consolation, here are a couple funny vids from YouTube.

1. Pachelbel Rant
As pretty much all cellists agree, Pachelbel's Canon in D Major is the worst piece EVER. Cellists HATE playing that piece with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. Okay, maybe not quite that intense, but you get the idea. Here's a rant about Pachelbel by a comedian, and it's fairly accurate.

2. Male Restroom Etiquette
JW-F showed me this vid yesterday. It's quite funny, and it's kind of true. Yeah, it's an exaggeration, but if one stops to think about it, it really is kind of true.

3. JK Rowling Outs Dumbledore as Gay
This is an interesting development. The title pretty much says it all, and the BBC link below has the article. Personally, I always tended to think of Dumbledore as pretty asexual. Regardless of his sexual orientation, he kicks major ass anyway. I think my favorite Harry Potter character is Neville Longbottom, particularly as the series goes on. He should get some serious props by the 7th book.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The 5 Windows

Sometimes I think somewhat poetically. I was going to title this post "The Nature of Writing," but somehow felt that to be a bit too parochial. So it's now "The 5 Windows." But what does this mean? Let's see . . .

As I was in lab today, doing painfully tedious DNA screening, I thought, "Hmm, writing is like one of the five windows into a person's soul." Why five? Eh, it's my favorite number, but let's go with this. Anyway, these 5 windows are the means by which a person can "take a glance at" another's soul without ever knowing the other person.

1. Pictures - They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Perhaps, it's hard to say. Depends on the picture I guess. But pictures of a person can describe a lot about how that person presents him/herself to the world. The clothes we wear, the people we're with (or lack thereof), the background, and the mood we're in, are all captured and conveyed in pictures. It's been said you can't judge a book by its cover, but at the very least, the cover usually gives some indication of the book under it. Pictures capture our soul's outer expression.

2. Writing - Writing is amazingly descriptive about a person. I believe one's inner thoughts are infused into everything he/she writes, regardless if the person's conscious of it or not. Sentence structure & pattern, word choice, syntax, typos, format, etc, all reveal so much about the person behind the text. Regardless of how hard we try, it's near impossible to mask ourselves in our writing. I like reading others' writing in order to get a sense of what kind of person they are, and it's even easier when people are being sincere and relatively unedited - such as in a blog. Writing reveals a soul's inner thoughts.

3. Music - This might be a subset, or it might not be. Originally I meant it to mean the music a person plays, but the music a person listens to is just as applicable. The music we choose to listen to says much about how we'd like to express ourselves. Perhaps it's the chords, perhaps it's the melody, and perhaps it's the lyrics, but all are chosen to express a part of ourselves. Playing an instrument or singing takes this a set further. As I've said before, playing music is like an extension of one's soul. One's hidden emotions can bleed through the music. Sadness, happiness, frustration, anger, all can be conveyed through music. Thus, music is the medium of the soul's emotional expression.

4. Art - Now, like music, not everyone can draw or sculpt or whatnot. But the same criteria applies. The art we like, the art we associate with, more readily shows our nature. Yes, art can just as easily convey emotions like music, but it can do more than that; art can express one's nature. Perhaps one has a sunny disposition, perhaps one is more somber and reflective, art can do a better job of expressing this, I think. On a different level, the kind of art a person produces can tell a lot about the person. If I were to draw with very precise straight lines compared to sketchy lines, you'd recognize a difference in my character. If I were to produce very clean-cut art versus more imprecise art, it can convey a different meaning. In this sense, art can display a person's nature and character.

5. Laugh - Now, laughs are perhaps the most important, and the most difficult to sense if you've never met the stranger in person. But, everyone has a rather unique laugh. Some of it is acquired from the people a person surrounds him/herself with, and a part of it is strictly unique. I feel a person's laugh reflects that person's personality. There are nervous laughs, there are high-pitched laughs, there are low rumbling laughs, there are strange and one-of-a-kind laughs, all are the voices of their owners at their best. I sincerely believe a person's laugh is a reflection of one's personality.

So each of the 5 windows - pictures, writing, music, art, and laughs - reveal a different aspect of a person's soul - outer expression, inner thoughts, emotion, nature/character, and personality (respectively). These are the five I use, but someone else can just as easily use something else. Writing is the only thing I reveal on this blog, for the most part. So, all you get are glimpses of my inner thoughts (incidentally, the part I try to keep veiled the most).

Okay, I almost can't believe my blog has hit around 500 page views. That's pretty amazing, I never thought people (other than a few that stumble across it) would read it. Originally it was meant as somewhere for me to dump my thoughts and such. Now I find myself increasingly altering my writing to be for an audience I never really know and will likely never meet. Mostly, this can be seen in the way I address a reader more, and write without anyone in mind less.

At the same time, I'm kind of surprised at the number of people who've linked me (I wonder if there's a way I can find out everyone who's linked me, as I'm sure there are blogs who've linked me that I'm not aware of). In short, I'm touched. I feel like I should link to more people, but I refuse to link until I've read a person's blog from the beginning to the most current post. For those older blogs, this could take a LONG time. I'm just so busy with classes and such, but I think I'm getting caught up and soon I may have some time to just relax and read others' blogs. Anyway, I MUST sleep now. It's going to be a really long weekend . . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In Memory

To Kavya V,

I almost can't believe it's been a year since I last saw you, since you were last with us. When I stop to think, it's still all so surreal. I miss you, I think we all do. It was your 21st birthday a few days ago, we should've celebrated. It's sad now, it's like all traces of your existence is being removed: your Facebook profile is gone, your things are gone, your cell probably doesn't work even though I still have a number . . . But you remain in our memories.

I remember this silly moment from freshman year, I don't know if you would've. It was 2am or so, JW-M and I were getting ready to sleep and KF-F knocked on our door, asking to use JW-M's computer and printer. You came in a few minutes later because you hadn't finished your orgo lab report (oh how we bitched and moaned about orgo, but that's where we first met, ironically), so you wanted to look at mine, haha. But since I needed it the next day, I said I'd need it back in the morning. So what did you do? You went back to your room, brought your stuff back, and worked at my desk with my desk lamp on while KF-F worked at JW-M's desk. All the while, JW-M and I were so tired and just slept.

And do you remember studying for genetics? You had procrastinated to just a few days before each exam. So for those 2-3 days, we (SR-F, SP-M, you, and I) would study from right after dinner to midnight. But you must admit, it sometimes got a bit silly, and was sometimes fun.

And all those times I'd come down to your room, sometimes just to say hi. You were so obsessed with Johnny Depp (no offense, but he's kind of creepy to me). You and ML-F, CC-F, and PA-F would sit and watch Lord of the Rings, fawning over Aragorn and Legolas, haha. Sometimes you had some alcohol and you'd offer me some. You were so lively and energetic, even when you said you weren't.

Life's been unfair, no? It shouldn't have been this way. You were supposed to take the MCAT and go to med school like me. You were thinking of being a pediatrician, but that's not possible anymore. AG-F told me that you said when you died, you didn't want people to be sad; you wanted people to celebrate life and have a party. You should know, it's harder said than done. We miss you, but life moves on and we'll carry your memories with us.

In memory of Kavya V.
10/12/1986 to 10/17/2006


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mask of Music

This post will NOT do justice to how I feel about music (and it's taken WAY too long to write). First, a quick summary. Music has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember and has almost become like an extension of my soul (cheesy, I know). Unlike many (most?) Asians, I was never forced to play an instrument but rather, I asked/begged to. I vaguely remember begging my parents to let me play the piano and going to a piano store to "try out" a piano. I've been playing the piano since before kindergarten (so before 7-years-old) and the cello since 5th grade. I can't imagine my life without playing my instruments, and over time, a Mask of Music has formed.

Under this Mask of Music I can express what emotions I would normally keep locked up and I get lost in the music, lame as that sounds. There is a kind of freedom and intimacy in playing music, a kind of closeness. And it's different depending what instrument I'm on, and weird as it might sounds, each instrument has a particular personality that complements its player.
As mentioned above, the piano was my first instrument and my favorite/preferred instrument; it's difficult to put into words why.

Part of it is certainly because the piano is a solo instrument. The piano can do SO much more than any other single instrument that it can often "stand alone"; perhaps no other instrument (except the organ, which piano-like) can you play a note with all your fingers and use both your feet simultaneously. It's a complex instrument, and there's a certain level of hand and foot coordination with the piano, with the potential to integrate every limb. And the feeling of the keys and pedals pushing back is something you only really appreciate when you no longer feel it . . . it's really quite intimate, to be assured.

But most of all, I love the sound of a piano. It's clarity and brightness easily stands out. I don't even have a good analogy for it because it's so amorphous and flexible, capable of bending its sound to the pianist's emotion. I love it's ability to reflect exactly how I feel and what I want to convey. It's a very obedient instrument - its sound rarely wavers and it almost always likes to be played. Yeah, I tend to personify things, my instruments most of all; however, for whatever reason, I haven't attributed a gender and name to my piano. Perhaps it transcends those notions.

I like the cello for different reasons than the piano. Whereas the complexity, clarity, and brightness of the piano stands out, the cello is subtle, supportive, and introspective. I've never felt the cello to be a true solo instrument (though there are amazing solo cello pieces) as its voice is truly heard in an ensemble. Part of this is also the personality of my cello.

My cello is definitely female, if it had a gender. For a long time I had given it the name of Calypso, after the Greek sea goddess. Like the sea, my cello's personality is quite fickle and changes often depending on the situation. Sometimes it loves to sing out, and other times it almost willfully sounds crappy (like it's moody or something). I may have my intentions, but sometimes my cello has another. Also my cello's sound is most like the water, though sometimes it produces earthier sounds.

When played perfectly and correctly, the resonance and tone of my cello penetrates to the bone, the lower notes you can literally feel vibrating throughout your body. And of all the string instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass) the cello has the greatest range in notes. This allows the sound of a cello to be slow and sad to fast and excited, there's so many options and relatively few restrictions (for a really good player). The intimacy comes as much from the resonant sounds the cello produces as from playing the cello itself (you're kind of partly hugging your instrument).

But again, I don't consider the cello to be a solo instrument nearly as much as the piano. The cello, in an ensemble, is a support instrument. It's often the foundation in a quartet or trio, and all other sounds build up from it. Sometimes the cello's voice will sing out during a solo, and when it does, the entire tone changes - it becomes vibrant. In this sense, the cello is a perfect match for my personality. I don't always like to lead, but I'd rather be the support that everyone depends on who occasionally expresses his voice; there's a special kind of leadership to that.

Nature of Musical Notes
So I've a theory on the nature of musical notes. Notes and music can be either "vertical" or "horizontal." Vertical sounds emphasize each note so that each note is heard clearly and fully; the music delights in that single sound or chord. In contrast, horizontal sounds emphasize a phrase or theme as a whole, where it doesn't dwell on each note but rather places the importance on the way the notes link together.

The cello is a more vertical instrument in that each note can be fully appreciated and expressed; the tone and sound of a single note can also be changed while its being played. The piano is a more horizontal instrument, although chords can be vertical. The piano is capable of many runs and the option to play so many notes simultaneously lends itself to playing horizontally. A single note on the piano, once played, can't really change its nature; it's sound and tone is fixed, unlike that of a cello's.
I don't know if any of the above ramblings makes real sense to anyone but myself, or perhaps it only makes sense to those who've played an instrument all their lives, I don't know. This much I'm sure: when you've been playing an instrument long enough, you form a particular bond to the degree which, if you see someone damage that instrument, you flinch and feel your heart beating faster, sinking deeper into your chest. And this much I do know: when someone plays an instrument well - I mean really well - it sends chills up the spine and goosebumps across the arms. And sometimes when you hear a person (yourself or otherwise) play your instrument in a piece of music you like, you think to yourself: "That's why I play this instrument."

In an instant I'm reminded why I chose that instrument(s), why I've spent years learning and mastering its subtleties, how my Mask of Music has formed, and how I channel my emotions through that mask to give others on the other side a glimpse of the face behind it all.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Preaching Intolerance and Hate on Campus

Okay, I know I was going to post about music and all, but this is too amusing/interesting/important/whatever to not post first. So yesterday (well, since it's past midnight I guess it's 2 days ago) there was a person in the middle of central campus preaching his twisted interpretation of the Bible. He came back today as well. We (and by "we" I mean my friends and I, but mostly me) call these people "diag preachers" when they're on campus and "hell-callers" when they're off campus.

So this African-American guy was standing in the middle of a crowd of students basically spouting his intolerance and hate, telling everyone they're going to hell for their sins unless they convert to his perverse version of Christianity. He "visited" our campus last year too and he had the same large banner with him. I took two pictures, but I feel it might be a bit unethical to post them. Anyway, he was preaching his intolerance and hate for homosexuals and Jews, amongst other things (like masturbation, which is now widely held to be healthy and good for you - in moderation; I think I'd go insane without masturbation). He apparently went up to this girl who passed by and told her she was going to hell for wearing a low-cut shirt. ::rolls eyes:: Where do these people spawn from?! Honestly, these people give Christianity a really bad name. Much like Jihadists do for Islam. You don't win people over by fear, intimidation, and violence. It just doesn't work that way.

What's more is that it's National Coming Out Week (apparently), and our university's LGBT commission was having an event on the diag too right next to him. That got pretty . . . interesting, or so I heard. I saw an old high school acquaintance of mine, JH-F; I believe she's the president of the LGBT student group on campus. She's changed A LOT since high school. While she was out as a lesbian during junior and senior year, she at least "looked and acted" normal (although, she was always rather intimidating for a female). But since coming to the university, her attire changed dramatically starting the end of freshman year. I never understood the need to change one's appearance (or behavior) like that, it almost seems like it's to prove a point (it certainly doesn't appear to be more comfortable). Anyway, I saw her, went to say hi, and gave her a hug. And I wished her well as I left to eat lunch with some people before class.

ES-M is also a lot more religious (he's thinking of getting a theology minor, if possible) than I had originally thought, though I don't know how conservative/liberal he is but he seems pretty tolerant. He was curious about the diag preacher and wanted to listen to what he had to say for a few minutes, but I tried to convince him that it was a waste of time. He also didn't understand the point of a National Coming Out Week; my answer was that there's a week for everything here in the US. I suppose everything needs a week.

ES-M and I had a brief, but interesting, conversation about religion/Christianity after class. I contended that one must be careful in interpreting the Bible (or any religious text) and be aware of the wording, as that changes depending on the version and translation and can subsequently change meaning. He believed that it didn't really matter, because when taken as a whole it always leads to the same point. I don't know, I suppose I tend to look at things analytically and critically, from the perspective of a literary critic and scientist. Religion is a realm I don't like to trespass too far into.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Well, Crap

So the state of things: crap. I try to refrain from venting/ranting, but sometimes I just have to let it out.

The apartment: is a mess (by my standards). I guess it's not that bad considering 4 guys live in the apartment, but still. We have cardboard boxes in a huge pile that's been sitting near the door since we moved in. Yesterday and today, there was a weird fish-like smell coming from somewhere. I swear it must be AW-M, as he's the only one that eats fish (tuna) in the apartment. I hate tuna, it smells so bad so fast. Anyway, took out the trash while DvF-M Fabreeze'd the whole apartment. It's better now. Oh yeah, it also seems that DvF-M and I are the only ones who take things out of the dishwasher, put them away, and put all the dirty dishes that pile up in the sink into the dishwasher. That's getting really old really fast. The apartment also desperately needs to be vacuumed, as the last time was when we moved in at the beginning of September. Note to roommates: I AM NOT A MAID.

My health: I'm over my cold, for the most part. I've had this lingering residual cough for the last week or so. It's really annoying as it "flares" up at night and early in the morning. I've woken up in the middle of the night twice already hacking my lungs out. That is not fun. And while I've been going to the gym 3x a week with JW-M and JL-M, I can't help but feel like I'm still getting fat. Which really makes no sense, since I can see muscle developing underneath it all, and I don't eat that much (which makes me really hungry at random times), and I tend to eat rather healthy (i.e. I cook most of what I eat, so I know exactly what's going in). In any case, I still need to sleep more.

Social life: is scant. For whatever reason, I'm really out of the loop with all of my groups of friends this year. Somehow, my groups of friends has dwindled to 3 circles from more than 6 freshman year. This is very sad, as we all don't live in the dorms anymore (one of the few things I miss about the dorms) and live scattered on opposing sides of the campus. At least I've made time to see some friends, but it's just a bit weird that it's practically scheduled. Like Friday evenings at SR-F's and JW-F's apartment for dinner and watching the week's Heroes and House afterwards. Great shows those are; I don't watch much TV, but I watch those. I also used to watch Grey's Anatomy but haven't wanted to watch it since the actor who played Preston Burke left the show. That, and the drama's getting a bit ridiculous. Anyway, yeah, seeing friends really only a couple times a week is kind of depressing.

Family life: may be somewhat strained. Usually I don't mind talking to my parents on the phone, but I just can't stand their nagging in person. Now I don't even really want to talk to them on the phone. I know they mean well but it's so annoying. And some of the things they say makes me go "wtf." Like when my dad said my evolution and ecology classes weren't "real" sciences classes - umm, yeah, they are (they may not be "hard" science classes, but they are legitimate science classes). I know I'm getting frustrated and I can sense the rebellion in my voice when I talk, and I don't approve of this. I feel like I just want to be left alone for a while, except that's really just delaying things.

Non-classes: is alright, I guess. Research has started, and again my PCR (polymerase chain reaction, for anyone who's curious) isn't giving me clean results. I suspect contamination from somewhere, which would suck. At least one of my friends, AG-F, is working in the lab right next to me. It's good to have someone in your same "tier" to talk to. Normally I go in, do my research, then leave. But I can actually talk to someone now while doing stuff, and that's cool. She also let me have a mouse to practice a dissection on. The gory details are somewhat interesting (to me). I don't like touching mice when they're alive, as I fear they'll bite me. But once dead, it's like "whatever." I decapitate the mouse, then bisect the head, then scoop out the brains from each side, then I take out the cochlea which is part of the inner ear. This part wasn't so hard. Now, to clean the cochlea of surrounding tissue under a microscope using a tweezer as a blade . . . needless to say, I completely crushed one of the cochleas I extracted. It sounds gruesome, and it is. It's definitely not something I want to be doing often.

Anyway, other non-class stuff. My tutoring-like job has been going well so far (I say tutoring-like because it's not really tutoring, since we're forbidden to give answers to anything). I led a review session for their genetics exam this last Monday. I hope they all did well. Pops Orchestra has been meh as usual (at least it's better than last year ::shudders::). The music is alright, but the cellos sometimes get shafted in that we play like one note with differing rhythms the whole piece. Sometimes I feel like quitting, but since I sit 4th chair, that'd look really really bad. But, String Orchestra is amazing. It's such a close-knit group by comparison, and is really just a chamber strings group. We have an excellent selection of music, which is also pleasantly challenging for all members. It was a good idea for JW-F to come up with and create this group, with some help from SR-F and a tiny bit from me. There's a very intimate feeling when you're playing in an ensemble, like you let your music speak for you as you harmonize with everyone else.

I could do a whole post on music, and perhaps that's what I'll blog about next. Now, I think I'll relax by masturbating or something (see Cody, I'm making time for it, sort of) and then sleep. Ugh, it's almost 3am. How did that happen?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Many Layers

I saw this on ES-M's blog several days ago and thought it was something fun to do. Still crushing hard over him. Alas.

Layer 1: On the Outside
Name: Aek (no real name here, haha)
Birth date: May 21, 1986
Current status: Single. Available. Desperate. S.A.D. (I took this from ES-M's response, cuz it's so great and fitting)
Eye color: dark brown
Hair color: dark brown (for being Chinese, it's not black anymore - it's gotten lighter in the last several years)

Layer 2: On the Inside
My heritage: Chinese-American
My fear: immediate fear - not getting into med school; ultimate fear - dying alone of some uncomfortable/painful terminal illness (or there not being an afterlife, I suppose)
My weakness: chocolate, cheesecake, any good food
My perfect pizza: hmm, chicken with pineapples as toppings

Layer 3: Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow
First thought upon waking up: hmm, it's only 8:30am, time to hit the snooze button
My bedtime: yesterday - around 2am, today - before 2am but after 1am, tomorrow - hopefully sometime before 1:30am
My most missed memories: randomly getting pizza with JW-M and JL-M after midnight in the dorms throughout freshman year

Layer 4: My Pick
Coke or Pepsi: it changes from time to time, but usually Coke I think
Single or group dates: single dates, I would feel awkward otherwise though I've no experiences one way or the other
Adidas or Nike: Nike I guess
Tea or Nestea: tea, wtf is Nestea?
Chocolate or vanilla: vanilla as flavoring, but I like chocolate itself
Cappuccino or coffee: probably cappuccinos when I can, but I don't drink too often

Layer 5: Do You . . .
Smoke: hell no, that's so nasty
Take a shower: I shower every night right before I sleep, sometimes I shower sometime during the day as well if I had sweat a lot
Go to school: yeah
Believe in yourself: depends, but usually
Think you're a health freak: largely yeah, but that might come as part of the pre-med package

Layer 6: In the Past
Drink alcohol: of course but very infrequently, my limit is somewhere below 12 shots (of tequila) but above 7; I've fairly high tolerance for an Asian I think
Gone to the mall: yeah, but I try to avoid it if possible
Dyed your hair: nope, and don't think I will

Layer 7: Are You Hoping to . . .
Get married: hopefully, I mean I want to someday
Have children: planning on it, I mean I really want kids someday

Layer 8: In a Guy (or Girl)
Best eye color: depends on the person, though I think green eyes are really beautiful
Best hair color: depends on the person
Short or long hair: generally shorter in guys, longer in girls

Layer 9: What Were You Doing Just Now?
A minute ago: writing this on my blog
An hour ago: writing out an outline for my Chinese class in JW-M's apartment
A month ago: umm, stressing out
A year ago: hmm, probably enjoying my junior year fall semester

Layer 10:
I love: life, good food, good friends, good conversations, music, biology, and the list goes on
I hate: war, hypocrisy, idiots, my body (I'm working on it), my voice (a bit high-pitched), and the list goes on
I hide: my emotions, my inner thoughts, many of my opinions

Layer 11: Tag 5 People
I won't subject anyone to this. If after you've read this and decide to waste time on writing your own, I'll be happy to read it. XD

So several of the blogs I read/have read suddenly have restricted access, like Coming Out Nick and Micifus. This makes me really sad. Since I'm a casual blog reader that doesn't usually leave comments and such, I feel awkward emailing/contacting the authors of the blog for access. Plus I don't know how to contact them since that info's generally on their blog somewhere. Sigh, I like their blogs too. At least I resolve that I won't restrict access to my blog.