Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dull Men's Club

As seen in this morning's El Paso Times, the Dull Men's Club website.
Quote from the FAQ:
"Are dull men the same as boring men?
Dull men accept their dullness. Boring men are dull men who actually believe that they are interesting.
Dull men tend to be introverts. A boring man is an extroverted dull man.
The character Norm Peterson from the television show 'Cheers' is a dull man. The character Cliff Clavin is a boring man."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

There are times in life when you realize how ignorant you are, how little you know, and how limited your experiences are. And that untested values really aren't values at all. *Sigh*

Reading habits

As of today, the class I'm taking is over. Which means I can put aside deep philosophical essays and read whatever I want. Currently in line waiting to be read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, A Mighty Heart by Mariane Pearl, and La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini. My "eyes are bigger than my stomach" when it comes to books. I check out four books from the library, there's usually no chance in hell of my being able to read them all before they're due. And then I have this (bad?) habit of starting one book, reading a few chapters, then starting another because I have the attention span of a 12-year-old. It's hilarious because my sister reads books exactly opposite of me. She is always reading exactly one very serious book at a time. It will take her months to read, but when she finally finishes it she really has a great understanding of it. This is probably a better way to read books, but I'm way too impatient for it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Saturday I went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This was an experience. I love it when you experience something that is so amazing you just can't stop smiling. This is a must-see if you haven't seen it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Quote from my church pastor in this morning's bulletin: "It's been said that evangelism is 'one beggar telling another where to find bread.' "

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Interesting blog: A Nun's Life.

Friday, November 17, 2006


The assignment was handed out almost two weeks ago. Realistically, I know I could have turned this out in two days if I was forced to, but instead it has taken me more than a week to get halfway through it. Rule of procrastination: if it's due Monday, most of the work takes place Sunday night.

Recommended old movies

The other day I was thinking about how I don't really watch old movies anymore ("old" meaning pre-1970). I used to try to watch more, mostly as a matter of education. I'd rent Hitchcock classics and old musicals or watch TCM. Some were admittedly a little too dated for me, the acting too unnatural, the material a little too censored. But of the relatively few old movies I've watched, those that I've liked, I've liked a lot. Here are my personal favorites. Rent these if you haven't seen them, I can almost guarantee you will like them.
  • Casablanca
  • On the Waterfront
  • Rebecca
  • Vertigo
  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • Singin’ in the Rain

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I love summer, something probably having to do with my being born in May. If summer could go on all year I would be happy. Summer is my season, and I really, really dread the onset of winter. From the heat of August, it looks so dismal to me: the cold weather, short days, dark nights, the holidays that never quite meet your expectations. And yet here we are, and somehow in the midst of it I never hate it as much as I think I will. Winter/the holidays is something I have to be coaxed into enjoying every year, but I usually come around. The weather is usually not as bad as I think it will be. This is El Paso, after all, and it gets cold but not snow-y cold the way I imagine it does in other places. Today the high is about 70 degrees, there's a beautiful clear blue sky, and it's just about perfect. And despite all my humbugging about the empty crass commercialism of Christmas, I get sucked into it just as much as everyone else. The process of buying presents always ends up occupying me for about a month. There's really no point in denying the fun of trying to pick out just the right things for other people, and getting presents for myself is, of course, not a bad bonus. As for the long nights, those bother me more than anything else, but if I turn on the TV, toss a log into the fireplace, and serve myself another piece of pumpkin pie, they're not so bad. In fact, they're almost *gasp* enjoyable.

So I think I've made my peace with winter for this year. I don't see it as such an unwelcome visitor, spoiling my summer fun. Which will last until next summer arrives and I realize how great it is and then have to go through the process all over again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Where I've been

Places I've spent at least a day in:

  • San Antonio
  • Austin
  • Del Rio
  • Fort Davis
  • Lubbock
New Mexico
  • Las Cruces
  • Alamogordo
  • White Sands
  • Carlsbad
  • Santa Fe
  • Ruidoso
  • Lincoln
Other U.S. states
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Ames, IA
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Seattle, WA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Reno, NV
  • Grand Canyon
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Lake Powell, UT
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Lafayette, LA
  • Juarez, Mexico
  • Caribbean cruise tourist traps (Cozumel, Mexico, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Grand Cayman)

I wish this list was much, much longer, especially the "Foreign" category.

I hope this works

I just upgraded to Blogger beta. My blog now has labels, cool.
So for tonight's class we watched I Heart Huckabees. One of my classmates made a (delicious) fancy rum cake for the occasion, so there we all sat eating cake and watching this bizarre movie, which I won't attempt to explain except to say that it's blatantly philosophical. Cake and philosophy and a movie, now there's a class. If only there were such a thing as existential detectives.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Via kottke: how to be interesting.
Aimee Mann has a new Christmas album. I like this review of it on Amazon.

Funny word

Funny word that came up in a discussion this week:

bathos - n. insincere or grossly sentimental pathos

Definition from American Heritage Dictionary via

Thursday, November 09, 2006

View from overseas

Perceptive observation of George W. Bush at a press conference.

Unknown White Male

I watched this movie last night. I've heard the rumors that this was a fake documentary, and I could definitely see how one could think that. There does seem to be something fake about the whole thing, like either a) the subject, Doug Bruce, was faking losing his memory and duped everyone around him or b) everyone in the documentary was in on it and they were all just acting. The family didn't seem emotional enough to me. And why did he agree to videotape his ordeal? And how does he know some things but not others? He recognizes people speaking Russian but he doesn't know what it feels like to swim in the ocean? But I think the parts that convinced me that it wasn't a total fake were seeing how he acted compared to his old friends. Something in his eyes, childlike. Innocence compared to their cynicism.

Interesting concept

From Wikipedia:
"Kairos is an Ancient Greek word meaning 'the right or opportune moment.' The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies 'a time in between', a moment of undetermined period of time in which 'something' special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

They did it! Hooray :-).

28 Up

This weekend I watched the documentary 28 Up. I heard about this series years ago and was always intrigued by it. Every seven years, the director Michael Apted follows up with a group of people he first interviewed at age 7. It's meant to be an observation of class in British society. The director deliberately chose a group that included children from upper-, middle-, and lower-class backgrounds. Admittedly, a lot of the commentary on classism is lost on me since I'm not from the U.K., but still, it's pretty clear what different worlds these groups of people live in. At 28, most of the upper-class subjects are in professional careers (lawyer, filmmaker, etc.), while many of the lower-class subjects are still working the same low-wage jobs they had at 21 (sausage factory worker, brick layer, etc.). Obviously, privilege, or lack of it, has played a huge part in determining the paths of their of lives.

Apart from the class issues, the documentary is pretty affecting as an observation of the life cycle. These are all average, ordinary people for the most part. None of them is now a celebrity or a CEO or a political revolutionary. None of them has even departed radically from the path they were on seven years ago. But it's still interesting to see the changes that happen in seven years, from the uncertain 21-year-olds in budding careers or at the end of their education, only a few married, to the more-settled 28-year-olds, most of whom are now married and settled into careers. The conversations are more philosophical and reflective; questions turn to marriage and children. It's fascinating to hear people reflect on their lives, on things they said when they were age 21 or 14 or even 7, and to discuss the reverberations of events that happened in the past that still affect them many years later.

To me, the most poignant interview is with Neil, who is homeless. This man obviously has some form of mental illness, yet you can tell he's very intelligent. He was homeless at 21 and is still homeless at 28. He travels around living off social security, staying at any place he can afford. They're interviewing him by a lakeside in Scotland where he's temporarily living in a trailer. At one point he comments on the mindlessness of modern life, he says something like, well, suburban life only buys you the privilege of riding a commuter train 5-10 times a week and staggering home, coming home on weekends to watch TV, only to do it all again on Monday, and that it's all a form of brainwashing. But then the interviewer says, well, do you think the people who live that suburban life would prefer a life like yours? Then he says something like, at least I have the kind of life I like, if I had to live the suburban life I'd end up trying to kill myself.

And you think to yourself, this guy is nuts, but in a way, don't we all at some level recoil at how desperately boring and unfulfilling modern life can be? Is it really anyone's dream to work that 8-to-5 just to pay the bills then come home exhausted, too busy and tired to contemplate anything? And yet all the other subjects of the documentary seem to live a version of it (some of the women are homemakers, so there's sort of an exception, but I would argue that it's still your conventional life). You finish the documentary thinking that it's disappointing that most of us can expect our lives to be so predictable. But what else is there, really, besides your family and/or your career? Yourself and your experiences, I suppose, but that gets old. That tendency to settle down is always there, like the laws of gravity. The moral of the story is that most people do end up settling down into predictable lives, mainly determined by what circumstances they were born into. Most people just accept their fate in life, whatever it is, and make peace with it. And I don't really know if that's good or bad. Shouldn't we all be a little more outraged at this? But we're not, most of us just float through life unaware of how different it could be, eking out whatever happiness we can get.

I would definitely recommend this documentary series, especially to someone in their 20s. This is the kind of film that makes you think about your own life and how your family background has affected where you are today. Warning, it is very British, I definitely wish there were an American version, but you will still get a lot out of watching it. And there are two later installments I'm looking forward to seeing, 35 Up and 42 Up.

Election Day

Perfect read for Election Day.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Birthday pie?

Anyone else find it weird to have pie replace cake at a birthday party?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sort of like having my own radio station

On Tuesday I spent a few hours uploading most of my CD collection to my computer. This because I was bored and I'm too cheap to spend money on new music. I wanted to get some more mileage out of CDs I never listen to. You know, the CDs with a few good songs on them, but the rest are filler, so it's annoying to skip through the entire CD to find the songs you really like. So on Tuesday I culled the best of the collection--100 songs in all that I compiled into one playlist. I couldn't wait to hit the shuffle button. It's almost like having my own radio station. Very cool.

Interesting aside: I came across a single of the Sarah McLachlan song "Adia" that I bought some time in 1998. *Eight years ago.* Wow, I am getting old. Talk about your lost classic. It's a great song, probably up there with my Top 20.

Innie or outie?

I'm your classic introvert, something you could probably already tell by reading this blog. I once took the Myers-Brigg personality test and answered in the affirmative to every single question regarding introversion. Yeah, I have a pretty bad case of it, lol. It's really difficult for me to start conversations, even with people I already know. I tend to dread social situations, most of the time I'd rather be left alone in my world of text and information and TV and music. Not that I dislike people, but to me they are like a puzzle I don't think I'll ever solve. So complicated and illogical. According to things I've read, the "suitable career paths" for me are computer programming or writing.

And then I look at my sister who's my complete opposite and I almost have to laugh when I think about how different we are. She's so friendly and outgoing she can talk to just about anyone with ease. She has a lot of friends and she is always out and about visiting them. She's been the leader of several school clubs. She has made tons of money as a waitress, and give her anything to sell (i.e. a box of candy bars, jewelry, tickets to a fundraiser) and soon it will be gone, replaced by a stack of cash. Far from dreading social interactions, she thrives on them. People tell her she should be a businesswoman or a social worker.

It is just bizarre to me that people can be wired so differently, especially people who have the same parents. How can things that are so difficult for me come so naturally to her? OK, so I'm a little jealous. It's a small consolation that my sister probably looks at me and thinks the same thing when it comes to school and making good grades, since that has always come easily to me but is something she struggles with.

Introversion has its advantages, but if the choice were mine, I'd be an extrovert. It just seems more practical, not to mention more fun. What's the use of having all this information in your head if you're not going to share it? No more worrying about the world's problems when there are friends to see. And finally an end to awkwardness and embarrassing silences. If only there were some sort of trade my sister and I could make. Half your extroversion for half of my nerdiness? I wish.