be

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we got here and the process of life. The fact that we’re here today and that we’re able to harness the world around us to explore not only the ends of the earth, but also the depths of the solar system outside of us… is mind boggling to me. This comes with two things:

The living body. Creatures are (usually) born very small and can grow to a massive size. It doesn’t take anything for this process to work except fuel, yet there’s something in that creature innately that tells it that it needs to make physical changes during its lifetime. Where is it written in our bodies to being puberty at a specific age? It’s certainly not in our brains; it’s not a choice for us to being puberty. In our reproductive systems? Our reproductive systems down have a mind of their own (though some philosophers might disagree with you on that fact). It’s just written into our DNA somewhere, somehow. What begins as a simple organism turns becomes this massively complex system of organs, vessels and neurons. It’s fascinating.

Materials. Look at all the stuff around you right now. These things are made of plastic, metal, wood… all things that come with a varied degree of synthetics and complex processes that were used to create them. The crazy part about this is that (according to the laws of nature), energy and matter are neither destroyed nor created out of nothing; simply transformed and transferred. The things around you were made with molecules that have been in existence since the beginning of time, even if they’re synthetic. We are now using these molecules to watch movies, feed our children, and explore space. Our current technology is based on the science of our fore-bearers, surely. But the products from then and now… are made up of the same things. It just looks a little different. What will our surroundings look like in the far future?

In the software industry, we call this idea Bootstrapping. To explain briefly, it’s the idea that a program can be launched in order to launch others, restart the device, or otherwise do something that’s bigger than itself. A simple example of bootstrapping is when you turn on your computer and some programs are started automatically. You can find some more complex examples in the preceding Wikipedia article.

I have a hard time thinking about bootstrapping outside the context of technology. There are important distinctions between bootstrapping in technology and bootstrapping in nature: you can update a piece of technology. A person can intervene and alter the bootstrapping process, causing it to behave differently. This isn’t possible with bootstrapping in nature, or at least not on the same scale. It’s there and it’s not going anywhere.

Sorry for missing March. Not that anyone cares.

Except me.

ūüôĀ

I’m working on a three-part blog post series. Stay tuned.

as-sump-tion

It doesn’t make an ass out of you and me. Just me.

This one thing has been the bane of my adult life, and I can’t really say I know why. As strange as it sounds, it could be from a newfound naivet√©, or simply from a complacence I’ve developed as I’ve aged.

I find myself assuming many things at my age; some are worse than others. I can make presumptions or judgments about people I’ve just met, or draw conclusions about them based on observations I’ve made of them.

However, I’ve found myself making a habit of assuming that I can rely on people, which is (in my opinion) one of the worst assumptions you can make. There’s no worse feeling than putting your faith in other people who turn right around and disappoint you. I can’t deny that I’m partially to blame, though: I’ve chosen to put this faith into people who have had a history of being unreliable or have had no proven track record whatsoever.

Then I realize that sometimes the most reliable people in your life will let you down, and I haven’t really decided what to do about it. History says that you won’t be let down again, but sometimes the risk of failure is too great to chance it again. I suppose it depends on the situation.

Through this, I’ve come up with one of my primary philosophies in life: if you set your expectations low, you’ll never be disappointed.

I developed this attitude in high school, but it was initially about movies. I was disappointed with almost every movie I went to and eventually got fed up enough that I refused all invitations to the theater. Then I developed this mantra, and now I don’t hate going to the movies as much (though I go infrequently enough that I still get my hopes up every time).

This mantra can be applied to all avenues of your life, and that makes me profoundly sad, but it also doesn’t faze me. This is how it always has been and always will be. You can set your expectations high and hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. That’s what I do. I¬†am a pessimist at heart, after all.

Don’t be that person that lets other people down. Life’s too short to fail other people. Put your best effort into everything you do, no matter how big or small. That’s one of the best ways to foster a thriving society.

It’s a bit hypocritical coming from me, I know.

Ketchup

I missed December’s post. Sorry.

I had quite a few ideas about posts I could write, but none of them were very jolly. It didn’t fit with the holiday cheer that was going around me at the time, so I didn’t bother to sit down and write them out. Here’s a few things I wanted to write about:

  1. The American school system is outdated and doesn’t fit our societal needs as they stand today. There are a lot of ways it can be improved (and I’d be writing about proposed solutions).
  2. I’ve noticed that people grow up physically but very few people actually grow up mentally / emotionally.
  3. Free will doesn’t exist (in the way we think it does), but it’s okay. I’d be talking about why it doesn’t exist.
  4. Why do I have friends? This one is a bit more personal. But it’s still a valid question and I think I’d enjoy writing about it.
  5. My (and everyone’s) circle of influence is far greater than I (or anyone else) can even begin to imagine. Even the people with seemingly small circles and very few friends… have huge circles of influence.

I had about three others but they’re gone now.

But I’m curious to know what you guys would want me to write about. There’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be writing about all of these eventually. Just let me know which one to write about first.

In other news, my Quote of the Day page is running for 2018. If you want your words to be immortalized, be sure to talk to me. Looking forward to all the great conversations I’ll be having all year.

Ciao!

Black Friday

Thanksgiving. You stuff yourself full of turkey, take a quick nap, get up and go out with your family to eagerly wait in line to buy new stuff at steep discounts. You drive around the mall and see crowds of people roaming around, chattering, sometimes running. It’s cold. Dark. You don’t like being around all these people and you have a feeling you’re not the only one who feels that way; yet, somehow, for some reason, here you are. You figure that this one night of discomfort is worth sacrificing for the new TV you’re going to get. You’ve been waiting all year for this night and you won’t have an opportunity to get a brand new TV until next year.

Every year when Black Friday rolls around, I’m stuck between two feelings: as a consumer, I’m happy that I can buy things at discounted rates and finally give myself an excuse to get things that I’ve been putting off; as a human, I’m extremely sad as I hear about people lining up outsides stores and getting trampled when the rush begins.

I didn’t notice until recently that it’s never the affluent parts of the country where these rushes happen. Rather, it’s the areas where people are closer to poverty, where people literally¬†can’t afford¬†to make these kinds of purchases at any other time of the year.

I used to scoff at the idea that people would hurt others just to pick up a few material things. “What capitalism, what materialism. I am above that,” I would tell myself. But I’m only able to have this thought because I already have all the stuff I want. I’m able to live without more things because I don’t¬†need more. But some of these people have so little that they’re getting their first chance to get something nice in a very long time, or it’s the only time in the year where they’re able to get gifts for all of their kids.

Sometimes I drive around the poorer parts of Tacoma and I wonder why there are so many nice cars there. I used to wonder what the owners of those cars are doing in Tacoma; they certainly don’t belong in a place where their cars obviously don’t fit, right?

Not so. One thing I learned recently is: people close to the poverty line also have nice things. They work incredibly hard to make ends meet and save up for many years before they can buy their dream car or toy or game console. It’s the one lighthouse in the dense fog that is their lives. It’s the one thing that brings them joy. They cherish it more than any of the other things they have because that’s the¬†one thing they have.

So if you see someone (especially a child) with something nice and you know his family’s not doing well financially, don’t judge. Don’t scoff. Don’t approach and berate him for having one nice thing despite the rest of the family having nothing, because chances are, there’s a story behind that thing and you’ll never be able to hear it, and you’ll never have to experience it. If you associate a negative emotion with the thing, you’re also taking away the one thing that brings that person the most joy.

Instead, ask about it. Show him that you see its worth. Don’t let him think that you hate him for having it. He’s probably getting it from elsewhere.

Let him be happy with what he has.

Two Songs that Need to Die

As a patriotic American, I regularly hear two songs that I despise. My dislike for the two songs come from similar reasons. Allow me to explain:

1. “Happy Birthday”

The melody of this song is sung around the world hundreds of times a day, and I’m sure that everybody and their grandmothers know how to sing it. Have you ever wondered why it’s not used in movies or TV shows?

It’s because it’s been copyrighted by Warner Bros (or at least, it was until January 2017), and that is unapologetically American.

How many times have you had trouble singing it? If you’re like most people, the answer is: almost every time. If a girl starts the song, it’s uncomfortable for guys to sing, and vice versa. I’ve discovered that there’s only one key that’s comfortable for guys and girls (if you must know, it’s Eb, which means that the starting pitch is a Bb).

The most notably difficult part of the song is on the third “happy BIRthday,” in which you have to make a leap of an octave. Not only is that difficult to sing accurately, it’s also quite unbecoming.

I would very much like if we could adopt a new song to sing for people on their birthdays. Here’s one that I like:

2. “The Star Spangled Banner”

A national anthem is a song that “evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, and struggles of its people.” (Wikipedia) If that’s true, then what good is a national anthem that can’t be sung by a majority of people?

Our beloved anthem suffers from many of the same problems as the aforementioned “Happy Birthday,” only to a much greater extent: it’s notably difficult to sing for the untrained musician; and the range of the melody is an octave and a half (two octaves, if you’re fancy).

On top of this, the lyrics are impossible to memorize and don’t work well with the melody.¬†And it just SUCKS. It’s not fun or pleasant to listen to, and nobody can even sing it.

We should take notes from the Russian national anthem (which is probably my favorite one):

 

Below is a history and opinion piece of our anthem, expressed more coherently than my own thoughts here:

 

Do you agree? Disagree? Would you add any other songs to this list? Let me know!