Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Name That Tune

At school, I ride a shuttle almost everyday. While it is certainly a convenient method of traversing campus, it varies as to just how enjoyable a trip it may or may not be. For example, I was recently stuck listening to country music for a good four or five minutes as I awaited my destination. Drivers often listen to the radio as they make their rounds, but I think there should be a rule against country music. It seems to stand in strict opposition to the purpose of the university—namely, to increase one’s intellect. But this week more than made up for it. As I climbed aboard the Blue the other day (the routes are color-coded, lest you’re confused), the driver was playing a Barenaked Ladies CD. That’s right, my very favorite band. It wasn’t that a BNL song just happened to be on the radio at that moment; there was an actual succession of certified BNL gems streaming out of the shuttle’s shoddy, static-ridden speakers. “Hey, I know this! I know this album! I own this album! I can tell you what album it is!” So the thoughts came to me as I sat in silence, lightly tapping my toes and pretending to keep my cool. Meanwhile, my mind was swallowed up in the dark clouds of a fierce brainstorm. How could I let the driver know that I know what CD he is playing, while avoiding looking like a dork who’s only purpose is to let the driver know that I know what CD he is playing? Hmmm. In the end, I said nothing. I did nothing. I thought about tossing a casual remark his way as I stepped off the bus, something like, “That’s a great album,” or, “BNL rock the house,” or whatnot. But what would he care? And yet it was somehow painful to just walk away from it all, like I had spotted my favorite celebrity and, despite the rarity of such an occasion, forced myself not to cause a disturbance. What would be the point, after all?

Well, the next morning, I was again on the shuttle. The driver (not my co-BNL fan) was listening to the radio, and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” was playing. While most people are familiar with the schoolchildren chant that is this song’s chorus (“We don’t need no education…”), one woman on the bus felt compelled to perform an exaggerated lip-sync of the song. Though she pretended not to vie for anyone’s attention, her painfully pronounced facial gestures suggested she was auditioning for someone to notice. I admit, I was slightly annoyed, but was there any difference between what she was doing and what I had wanted to do? Unfortunately, probably not.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about this a bit. Why do we have this natural impulse to disclose our tastes in art (including music, books, movies, etc.) to those whom we believe share in them? Are we merely seeking validation? Or is being understood such a rare commodity that finding someone who shares your interests is like finding a soulmate? I tend to lean toward the latter. When the bus driver was listening to a CD I loved, it was like an immediate intimacy existed between us, even though he never knew about it. The point was, he must have, on some level, understood and felt about something the same way I did. Rarely does someone else come so close to seeing the world through our own eyes (or, perhaps more appropriately, hearing the world through our own ears). When it happens, it’s exciting. It seems different with art than anything else, such as the mere sharing of an opinion. Art is emotional and personal. Thus, our similarities are emotional and personal ones. To know someone shares your taste in art more readily makes that person your emotional kin, something that even common opinions (however fervent) cannot do, at least not so quickly. And this is probably why being insulted when it comes to artistic tastes is a much greater slap in the face. It’s like discrediting someone’s emotions and personality.

So, um … to all country music fans reading this post, I hope you’ll accept my apology. I’m sorry.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Closer to Free

With finals steadily approaching, I haven’t really had much time for blogging. Luckily, although I have another 10 days or so before I am completely done with school, the worst of it is over. Though I will still be busy, I will not be as stressed. Today I turned in my last paper of the semester. Wednesday, I have my final in Deductive Logic and Friday I have my final in Latin. These will require less preparation than my Greek and Classical Civilization finals taking place next week, so for the moment I feel relatively calm. It’s wonderful. To add to my delight, the weather has been near perfect lately (re: cool and occasionally rainy) and the tulips are springing up all over town. Think of me what you will, I love flowers. How can you not? And tulips have always been among my very favorites. They are simple, but graceful. Gotta love ‘em.

In less than two weeks, I hope my blogging frequency will increase again. I am stowing away a bevy of blogging ideas and look forward to unleashing them. Until then, I will again share a few of my favorite discoveries of late. Make of these what you will.

Delightful Discoveries o’ the Week:
  • Philocrites, the Unitarian Universalist, posted an interesting bit of more-or-less useless information regarding how long the American flag should be lowered for the deaths of varying religious leaders. He bases this on the denomination/membership ratios of the given religions, using the pope's death as a standard. This probably appealed to me because I, too, like to figure out useless information. Recently, as I walked to the bus stop after school, I found it fascinating to realize that so long as a bus comes every one minute, every two minutes, every three minutes, every four minutes, every five minutes, every six minutes, every ten minutes, every fifteen minutes, every twenty minutes, every thirty minutes, or every sixty minutes, it will come on the same minute of every hour. In essence, this equates to nothing more than the factors of 60, but it sure did entertain me as I meandered across campus.
  • Michèle introduced me to a fascinating literary device known as "Found Poetry." I had never heard of it before, but it certainly sounds intriguing. Check out what it is and, if you feel so inspired, use my post to create your very own found poem. Leave it as a comment and, if I like yours the best, you will win a prize ... like a comment from me saying, "I like yours the best!"
  • Via comments left on JL Pagano's blog, I discovered that Cookie Monster has his own blog. Given the recent hubbub surrounding Cookie Monster's diet, I found this blog to be quite amusing, especially the bit about the new FDA food pyramids. Give it a look. (And if you haven't heard about Cookie Monster's diet troubles, see this post at JL Pagano's site for the quick skinny).
Happy perusing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

May I Have the Envelope, Please?

Return to Sender?

As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently applied for a summer philosophy seminar at the University of Colorado. I had every reason to believe I would not get in, but it turns out I was accepted. This news should be thrilling, but it couldn't have come at a worse time. With finals steadily approaching, I do not feel prepared to handle such jarring jolts of anxiety. For all the feigned confidence I strive to exude via the anonymous sanctuary that is the World Wide Web, this scares the living crap out of me. I knew I was taking a risk when I applied, because I knew if I got in, I couldn't rightfully turn it down. Now I'm freaking out. Aside from the obvious fear that everyone else will be so much smarter and better read than I am, and that I, as someone who hates confrontation, will be thrown into the midst of intellectual warfare with vastly inferior provisions, I also dread the thought of leaving my honeypie for three weeks straight! What if I cry in front of my roommate? Yes, yes, the cat is out of the bag ... I'm just a big a softy, and a timid one at that! *Sigh* I need a bon-bon!

Friday, April 15, 2005

But Enough About Me...

This week, I've continued to stumble upon high-quality blogs and add them to my links list. A bevy of choice sites are now available to the distinguishing blogophile. Here are some of my favorite discoveries (individual posts, not blogs themselves) from this past week (though the posts were not necessarily written this week):
  • For those struggling to find enough to do on the Internet to guarantee that you don't have enough time to do what you actually should be doing (you with me?), Andy of Vermont provides a link to several enjoyable animated shorts available on the web (all for free, of course). I personally find the first batch (from to be the most enjoyable. That site will give you hours of viewing pleasure, especially if you like somewhat random humor (of special note are the stick-figure-esque adventures of the Teen Girl Squad). Give them a gander today!
  • JL Pagano gave a scathing-but-undeniably-fair assessment of what used to be one of my favorite television programs, Everybody Loves Raymond. I'm embarrassed to admit my former fondness for the show, as recent viewings have led me to concur with JL. But I've noticed this with most TV shows--if you go away from them for long enough, they will seem horribly trite when you return. ELR definitely falls into that camp. (And I don't think Patricia Heaton's annoying Albertson's commercials have helped my reception of the show, either.)
  • For those who like to stew over hypothetical questions, prepare to be stewed! Is money the root of all evil? You better decide now, as both Buffalo and Kieran are positing questions that may be influenced by such opinions. Once you've decided, see what they're asking and, most importantly, let them know what you think!
  • Ivory posted a link to a hilarious site that will translate any webpage (even your own!) into gangsta speak. Obscenities abound (as one might expect), so consider yourself forewarned. To see wassup, check out the first link on Ivory's post.
Well, that should be plenty to get you started on your weekend web surfing. Until next time, take it easy and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sandman on Strike?

In my experience, intending to get a full night’s sleep and never actually getting one is synonymous with being a college student. In the last few years, there have been plenty of times when seven hours of sleep sounded absolutely luxurious, and somewhere between five and six hours sounded pretty darn decent. Don’t get me wrong – I realize that plenty of people are sleep-deprived, while some weirdoes are even content with their five hours of sleep. But, to quote a popular children’s story, “‘Not I,’ said the pig.”

Alas, I have really been trying to do better lately, and I’m feeling all the better for it. But, for whatever reason, Tuesday night was different. The fates conspired against me and, despite the fatigue I knew was hiding in me somewhere, my very alert brain would not forfeit itself over to sleep. To give you a feeling of what I went through, let me provide the following chronology:

9:00pm – Having talked to my sister on the phone for about an hour and a half, I am suddenly slammed with exhaustion. Yawns come in rapid succession, my eyes begin to water and burn at the same time, and I question if I can even get ready for bed without falling asleep first. I politely say goodbye, retire the phone to its cradle, and begin my pre-bedtime repertoire.

9:20pm – I am in bed. Lights are out, but I find my eyes scanning the room anyway. It’s the same blank, black canvas I could easily find on the backside of my eyelids, but somehow I find the room much more intriguing. Thoughts stir. Like a passenger on the bus who finds it nerve-wracking not to engage total strangers in conversation, my brain won’t shutup. I pretend I can’t hear him talking, but he seems oblivious. On and on he goes. And on. And on. And on. And on.

10:30pm – Having thought of enough blog topics to last a lifetime, I finally concede defeat. Like a white flag of surrender, I wave my bedsheet over me, throwing my legs to the floor and rising with a frustratingly accessible earnestness. I should not feel this alert. I do not want to feel this alert. Sleep has stood me up, and only now has the disappointment fueled enough anger for me to swallow my pride, stand up, and get out of there. I head to my living room.

11:10pm – I’ve spent the last 40 minutes sitting in a chair, mind racing, toes tapping. I've changed rooms, but I’m not anymore productive, nor am I anymore tired. Nevertheless, I decide to give it another go. Tomorrow morning is drawing ever more near and I’m upset that it refuses to acknowledge my situation and just lay off for a bit. But no, the clock keeps ticking. What’s the point? Sleep and I have always gotten along before. I guess I just misread its signals earlier in the evening. I head back to bed.

12:50am – After much diligence, remaining steadfast in my darkened room, I look at my clock for the last time before sleep finally comes. Not that it comes too quickly. It was most certainly after 1:00am before it had the audacity to waltz in like nothing had ever happened. Like a whore, I welcomed it to my bed without the slightest bit of shame. I didn’t ask where it had been or whom it had been with. I was just glad it had finally shown up. I knew that in just a few short hours it would slip quietly out the door and leave me blinking dumbly at an empty room. But I pushed the thought away. What did it matter? We were together. Finally, we were together.

6:22am – The jarring voice of the all-too-enthusiastic disk jockey is quickly brushed away by my fumbling hand. With false hope my eyes flash open, hoping to find that sleep has only gone to the bathroom and will soon be climbing back into bed with me, that it’s not actually gone. But no, there is nothing. I sigh and lean back against my pillow, curling the blankets up under my chin. Everything is as I had expected. I have no right to be disappointed, but I am. All the highs and lows of the night before seem like distant memories. All my bitterness is gone as I think of the sweet embrace sleep finally offered me. I sigh and stretch and drag myself out of bed. It’ll be okay, I tell myself. What’s done is done. We’ve gotten in tiffs before, but this time will be different. I’ll never go to sleep mad again. I promise.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Quizzical Existentialism

While there are several things I like about the philosophical school of Existentialism, I also found it to be the most annoying area of philosophy that I studied while obtaining my undergraduate degree. Nevertheless, according to the online quiz cited below, my "brand" of moral philosophy is most in line with existentialism. I don't know that I'd fully agree, particularly since I am such a fan of Kant (given the limited understanding I have of him), whose philosophy scored lower on my rankings than several others. I will blame this on the fact that I tend to answer surveys with very "middle-of-the-road" type of answers. I can generally see both sides of an argument and thus have a hard time ever choosing the strongly agree option. Anyway, though I know most people don't give a hoot about such things, this quiz won't take very long so I urge you to give it a try (and, of course, post your results in the comment section). Do it for me, pretty please?


You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

“It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”

--Jean-Paul Sartre

“It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.”

--Blaise Pascal

More info at Arocoun's Wikipedia User Page...



Divine Command




Justice (Fairness)








Strong Egoism




What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with

Monday, April 11, 2005

When Breakfast Goes Cold: A Consumer Report

Being a college student, many a meal consists of nothing more than a frozen food product. Burritos, pot pies, waffles, microwaveable TV dinners and the like often fill my freezer to capacity. While I know of no day-to-day breakfast quite as satisfying as a bowl of corn flakes with sliced bananas, a toasted English muffin, and a glass of orange juice, I often resort to a quick fix, such as a frozen breakfast sandwich. As a service to you, my beloved readers, I now offer the following consumer report, a comparison of three frozen breakfast options that can easily be found at any local grocer.

Hot Pockets® Breakfast Pockets

Hot Pockets® offers three breakfast selections, all of which are egg-and-cheese pockets with your choice of sausage, bacon, or ham. They come four to a pack, but at half the size of their lunchtime counterparts, a normal person would likely need to eat at least two. There is little assembly required (inserting the pocket into the "crisping sleeve") and microwave cooking time is an easy, breezy one minute, just enough time to find a juice glass, fill it with OJ, and grab a napkin. For their petite size, the pockets are relatively plump, though sometimes a bit lacking on egg. Should it pique the interest of cheese fanatics, there is plenty of the goop inside these. Even two pockets aren't likely to satisfy growing boys (such as myself) for very long, but I dare say these are the best of the bunch being reviewed. They require a microwave, but that should not be a problem for most people fortunate enough to live in a country where microwaveable meals are even an option.

Pillsbury® Toaster Scrambles® Pastries

Toaster Scrambles®, like Hot Pockets®, come with bacon, sausage, or ham, eggs, and cheese wrapped in a flaky crust. The key difference here is the, if you will, "layout" of the product. Designed for the toaster instead of the microwave, Toaster Scrambles® are thin and flat, which creates a very different palatal experience. While this may appeal to some, it is an objectively more "bread-heavy" flavor. Here, the filling accentuates rather than dominates the diner's experience. These come six to a pack, but again, you will likely want two to keep you going. It would take three Toaster Scrambles® to equal two Hot Pockets®, so they are probably comparable in cost, save that Toaster Scrambles®, for whatever reason, do seem more filling. Still, I find their flavor comparatively bland and put them on the bottom of my list. While they require absolutely no pre-cooking preparation, toasting, rotating (to ensure maximum enjoyment), and then re-toasting them is more effort than a crisping sleeve any day. I'll pass on these.

Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches

Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches come in many varieties, from croissants to biscuits to muffins to bagels (and, in an effort to capitalize on McDonald's McGriddles, they now offer "Griddle Cakes"). What you gain with the breads, you lose with the meats. If you're a sausage fan, you're in luck, as this is the one "flavor" available across the board. Bacon enthusiasts, however, are stuck with either the biscuits or the muffins. Still, because of their slightly larger size, these may prove the best investment. (I'll admit, I don't know their actual size, but one of these seems comparable to any two of the above.) The disadvantage here--and it is a significant one--is in the prep time. But it's not the cooking time that's a problem. In fact, depending on the sandwich, microwave time can be as little as 40 seconds. However, preparing to cook these babies takes considerably longer than either of the above items. First, you are urged to wrap the product in a paper towel in order to cook it. I don't know how vital this step really is, but it certainly requires more effort on your part. The paper towel also poses the threat of taking precious corners of cheese along with it once the sandwich is cooked. But before you can even cook it, you have to deal with the obnoxious packaging. Each sandwich is individually sealed in an airtight bubble that will require you to extricate your car keys, a ballpoint pen, or some other pointy object in order to break through its protective barrier. But the absolute biggest disadvantage is that one cannot spontaneously decide to eat these sandwiches. Take note ahead of time: you must first thaw these sandwiches before you can cook them. In this sense, they will not come in handy on a morning when you're running late. If you're always running late, however, you could easily pop one of these into your fridge or onto the counter before bed and have it ready in the morning. If you're a commuter who eats breakfast at work, school, etc., depending on the length of your commute, these could also work just fine. But the whole concept of planning hours ahead of time to be "speedy" seems kind of ludicrous, if you ask me.

There you have it. Three products that may or may not be of interest to you. Regardless, you now have a better idea of what to expect when you're taking a stroll down your grocer's freezer. This is just one of the many services I am happy to provide my readers. Bon appetit!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Copyright Infringement?

Aye carumba! This past week I have discovered not one, not three, but TWO unsettlingly bizarre coincidences. First, I checked a CD out from the library by a band called The Postal Service. I had never heard their music before, but word of mouth had brought them to my attention. While doing some homework, I put their CD on in the background, enjoying the catchy sounds that soon emanated from my computer speakers. Two and a half songs into the album, my ears suddenly perked up and my jaw dropped. Lo and behold, the chorus to track #3, "Sleeping In," is almost identical to a song I wrote a couple of years ago! What the -- ?!?

Skip ahead to this evening. Casually hopping from one blog's links to another, I finally stumbled upon a site entitled OrangePhilosophy, a title eerily reminiscent of my other blog, Orange Theology (though, I admit, their site apparently existed first). Deja vu! But, in all fairness, I believe my use of the colorful moniker is a bit more poetic. It refers to a general philosophy of life I adopted some time ago, namely to treat life like an orange--something sweet and juicy to dig right into. OrangePhilosophy, on the other hand, presumably draws its name from Syracuse University, whose school colors include orange and whose students run the site. I'll leave it to you to decide which use of "orange" is the more impassioned one.

But the question does remain: am I not as creative as I once thought? Or -- am I not only creative, but psychic as well? Hmmm.... I'm leaning toward the latter...

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Heat is On

Though outdoors it is still jacket-weather a great deal of the time, my apartment has officially declared it summer. There are many things I love about my apartment, but its ability to keep cool is not one of them. Oh yes, winters are lovely. I can usually stave off using the heater until the most bitter of days. But summer is a curse. I have a few fans, but these do next to no good. The one official bit of air conditioning I have, a circa 1976 contraption of hideousness that cools a whopping three-inch space of carpet near my front door, is essentially worthless. With all the cool weather we’ve been having lately, I expected tolerable interior temperatures to last a bit longer. Sadly, this was not the case. Once again, it is that joyous time of the year when anything left in the cupboard (butter, a candybar, anything not made out of metal) will melt. Once again, ‘tis the season for 20 degree temperature drops between my front door and the steps just outside, even on relatively cool days. Alas, the ever-obnoxious WeatherBug tells me to expect rain over the weekend. Maybe—just maybe—this will give me an extra day or two of peace. That’d be really cool…

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Hindsight is 20/20

About three years ago, I got my first pair of glasses. Lately, I've begun to notice that these glasses are not as helpful as they once were. Reading the board in class is once again becoming a task of squiniting and straining. Television, once crispened alone by my eyeglasses, is now obnoxiously fuzzy without them. Finding an unfamiliar address is an exercise in guesswork, with street signs becoming clear just as it's too late to make a necessary turn. So it is that yesterday I finally had the second eye exam of my life (sans regular doctor visits as a child). According to the doctor, I am still barely in the range of needing prescription glasses. Nevertheless, my eyesight has definitely worsened.

Contrary to my eyesight, one thing that has improved is the technology behind these eye exams. Donning some high tech glasses, I was asked to tell which images on a piece of paper appeared 3-D. This isn't something I remember doing three years ago. It was a lot more fun than reading random letters off of a chart, though I had to do that too. But I must admit, I felt somewhat silly announcing things like, "in row three, the bunny is 3-D." I guess the more childlike they can make you feel, the more you'll trust their sophisticated assessment. Next, I was lead into a room where I was instructed to wear an eyepatch (ahoy, matey!) while they tested my peripheral vision. I was told to stare directly at a dot in the middle of a blank screen. Flashes of light were to occur at random spots surrounding the dot, alternating in brightness and distance from the center, and I was to click a button everytime I noticed one. Having been told to stare, I spent the first little while trying not to blink, especially when I realized the "flashes" of light were just tiny dots rather than the distinct, radiating orbs I had expected. This threw me off a bit because, as anyone who has competed in a staring contest knows, your peripheral vision begins to blur. Finally, I realized the test was lasting too long for them to expect me not to blink, and I believe my score shot up dramatically at that point.

When it came time to pick out my new frames, I knew it would be quite a challenge for someone as indecisive (and dilated) as myself. It came down to two pairs. One felt like a safe bet, silver rimmed and fairly similar in shape to the eyeglasses I have now. The other pair were rounder and considerably lighter, but I worried that they were too small around my eyes. Also, because I have not had round glasses before, I thought I ran the risk of looking quite ridiculous in them despite the part of me that liked them. After much debate, I settled on the round glasses. A bigger change just sounded more fun and (I tried hard to convince myself) the worst that could happen is I'd end up looking like a goof. So what else is new?

Having been caught up in selecting the proper frames, I paid little attention to the actual brands at hand. It was only once I had given the frames to an employee and all of the technicalities were well under way that I realized the brand I had selected: Tommy Hilfiger. Woe is me, I almost wanted to cancel the whole thing. Regardless of how good or bad Tommy Hilfiger apparel is, I despise his advertisements with such a passion that I am now burdened by moral unrest. No, I didn't stop the order from going through, and tomorrow I will likely be picking up the glasses and spending the next few years wearing them. My face contorts at the very thought of it. My one solace is that, so far as I noticed, there was not a Tommy Hilfiger logo anywhere on the frames that was blatantly noticeable. If I am wrong about this fact, I am going to have a serious quandary on my hands. I guess I will just have to wait and see (no pun intended).

Monday, April 04, 2005

Potpourri No. 3

  • I applied for the summer seminar in philosophy at the University of Colorado. They only admit about 15 applicants per year, giving preference to philosophy students who lack access to graduate-level classes and/or those coming from lesser reputable schools. While the University of Utah is nowhere near one of the top philosophy schools in the nation, it may rank too high to give me any advantage. So, I really don't expect anything to happen here. Truth be known, getting accepted will scare the crap out of me! We'll know within a month...
  • I was sincerely shocked to get 100% on my latest Deductive Logic test. And, to brag shamelessly, I was noted for having completed a certain proof in less lines than anyone else (i.e., I was able to prove something with fewer steps). To show off my skills, let me offer this following proof:
    1. If Ben gets 100% on his test, he will soil himself from shock.
    2. Ben did get 100% on his test.
    3. Hence, Ben soiled himself from shock.
It's just that easy!
  • I have made several adjustments to the sidebar lately (the area on the righthand side of the blog). If you haven't had a chance to peruse this new getup, I urge you to do so. I have added a link to my other blog, Orange Theology, as well as bumping up the links to other blogs I find noteworthy (a list that will hopefully continue to grow, so keep an eye out). I have also added the "Currently Sucking On..." section to let you pry even further into my daily life. This section should (theoretically) update fairly often, letting you know what books, movies, music, and television I am enjoying in the rare instances that I have free time (and am not blogging so as to entertain the masses). As an added bonus, I will informally rank the movies listed on a standard, four-star scale to let you know what, if anything, is worth seeing. Four stars is excellent (something like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or Moulin Rouge) and zero stars is crapola (something with Peter Gallagher in it, for example). It's not much of a review, but it's something.
Thank you and please come again.