Miniskirt

November 16, 2010

This one’s long. Scary long. Beware.

When I was a senior in high school my friends and I started mass-commenting on this one facebook picture of our friends Brian and Liam, in which Liam was wearing a miniskirt over his pants. Somehow, after about 70 comments, we began writing a story, each of us creating a few sentences then trailing off for the next person to continue. The story became extremely long, and to us it was the most hilarious thing ever, albeit very juvenile and idiotic. It was our retarded literary love-child.

A few months later I found out that I had a 6-page paper due for my English class that I hadn’t known about, so being extremely strapped for time and knowing that my teacher had an appreciation for weird shit, I decided to splice together all the comments that were made on that facebook photo and put it in a word document, correct all the grammar, and pass it in as a creative work.

Someone recently commented on this picture again, and now that I’ve rediscovered it I’d like to share it with the world. It’s a classic memory from my high school days, and I can only hope that you find it half as entertaining as we did. (Take note that we were just high schoolers posting on facebook and so the writing itself is childish. Bear with us.)

MINISKIRT

Mike Cowell

English 12 Honors

Mr. Wall

May 6, 2009

This short story, entitled “Miniskirt” is a work of first-person science fiction crafted by several authors, listed here in order of greatest contribution: Mike Cowell, Brian Watson, Timothy Featherston, Liam Krasinski, Trevor McGlynn, John Rogers, and Michael Gray. The story was originally written on the social-networking website known as Facebook, and was formed by a single person producing one or two sentences, and then having another writer pick up where they left off, continuing in a chain of writers, to ensure intense variety and random humor.

I was hanging out with Mike Gray’s mother the other day when we decided to watch television. So I turned on the TV, and sure enough there was an ad inquiring about whether or not I would like to be a doctor. So I picked up the telephone and dialed the number for the closest pizza delivery service. Unfortunately, they were closed. So I put my pants back on, said goodbye to Mrs. Gray, and hurried out the door. But when I got to my car I realized that if I became a doctor I would get pizza; so I hurried over to Harvard and got my doctorate degree, and was then able to get my pizza. Then I ate the pizza, but I burned the roof of my mouth because the cheese was lava hot! So I ran as fast as I could to the nearest water fountain.

Just as I was about to take a drink, a stranger emerged from the shadows to my left. He offered me a job: to travel to the past. He had only done it once before, and said that I would have to bring my own weapons. I considered the offer, and decided to take him up on it.

I learned that the time traveler’s name was Brian Watson, and that he owned the only time machine known to man. He purchased the time machine from Spencer Wyant, an evil genius. Brian had used it to visit many historical events including the last supper, the crossing of the Delaware, Jesus’ crucifixion, and Barack Obama talking to small children. Brian informed me that on this voyage we would be going into the future, something he had never attempted before. I was obviously nervous about the whole thing, and it didn’t help when he pulled out his big long baseball bat and whacked me over the head, knocking me unconscious. The next thing I knew, I’d woken up in the year 2032 where everyone around me wore metallic glitter suits and rocked out to the likes of Wyld Stallions.

As I regained consciousness, I became aware of a hand reaching into my pants. I thought at first they were just looking for my wallet or my phone or something, until they suddenly grabbed… the keys to the time machine! They then ran to it and hopped in. I barely had time to jump on the machine before the stranger started rubbing my leg. I felt so uncomfortable. Then, suddenly, the keys fell and I heard a deep raspy voice say “You dropped something.” I bent over to pick up the keys, but then immediately regretted the decision, because the large man had taken out his huge sausage from the back seat of the time machine. Although I was worried at first, he merely bit into the deli item and then put it away. Expelling a sigh of relief, I proceeded to show him how to boogie down like it was 1979. He then rubbed against my arm in a somewhat unnerving fashion. Meanwhile, Mike Gray was using poor grammar, until Mike Cowell showed up and made fun of him for it while at the same time continuing the story.

The huge man informed me that the time machine would take a while to reach our destination of 1991, and that we would need to find a way to pass time while we waited. He took out what looked like a jar of jelly, and before I knew it we were massaging each others’ backs with it, because time travel is very painful. The jar that looked like jelly turned out to be intended for someone else, so I was very relieved. The man said “Oh my god I’m so sorry, I thought you were Mike Gray.” Of course I accepted his apology, and we arrived shortly thereafter in the year 1991. “This is where I leave you” he said in his gruff manly voice, “If you see Mike Gray, give me a call won’t you? I’ve had this special jelly for years and I need to use it before it expires. All of it!” On that note he disappeared into Brian’s time machine and vanished.

So there I was, abandoned in 1991 with no time machine or methamphetamines. I searched for hours for some clue as to where I was, when I noticed a sign in the distance that read: “Nirvana in Concert; Tonight Only!!!” But as 90’s grunge music had never been my thing, I decided to continue to walk around and explore my surroundings. I soon found that the multitude of girls in overalls and baggy pants was a little excessive. I realized that if I didn’t formulate my plan for escape I would go insane and probably end up hurting someone, so I decided that the only way to get out was to find Brian. I was sure that he, at some point, visited 1991, and would perhaps allow me to use the time machine to get back home.

As I was walking down the street I saw a man walk towards me with a big shopping bag in his hand. The man, as it turned out, was buying parts to build his time machine. This was clearly a young Spencer Wyant, the evil genius who had built Brian’s time machine. I decided to follow him home, but he sneakily maneuvered himself behind me and frightened me! He had a smirk on his face, and must have been nearly 1 year old. Finally he spoke.

“I know what you’re after, time traveler. You’s lookin’ for Brian ain’t ya?” I said yes and asked him how he knew. “Because you’re dressed like a freak” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. “I can tell you where to find Brian, but the journey will be long and hard.”

“THAT”S WHAT SHE SAID” I shouted excitedly. The young Spencer backhanded me and I fell to the ground, regretting that I could never do “that’s-what-she-said” jokes at an appropriate time.

“As I was sayin’, I’ll help you’s find Brian, but be wary, for there is another time traveler who is trying to locate him. You must reach Brian before the other man finds him.” I asked him who the other time traveler was. “Well, his name is Liam, Liam Krasinski. You might recognize the name from a famous internet subculture involving him wearing a miniskirt, due to being diagnosed with 3rd degree hypomasculitis.”

I raced off to find Brian before Liam could locate him, but I had no idea where to look. So I sat down and started to think. I thought and thought and thought so hard that I exhausted myself, and went to get a drink from a nearby water fountain. But instead of water coming out of the fountain, out popped a giant magnificent genie who promised me two wishes, as three wishes was too stereotypical. I first wished that Liam would get lost so that he would be slowed down, and second that I would know the location of Brian in that time period.

It wasn’t until after making these wishes that I realized how stupid I was to have not just wished myself back to my own time. I was so angry at myself that I intentionally had a conversation with Mike Gray. After that punishment was over, I took advantage of the wishes I had made and started heading towards Brian’s location: Saskatchewan. It would be a tough voyage, but luckily I had my handy dandy iPHONE BY APPLE (TM), FOUNDED BY THE WONDERFUL STEVE JOBS. Using my iPhone, I was able to use Google maps and plan my journey. Just as I was about to leave, I saw my fellow time traveler’s huge sledgehammer, which I used to hit Mike Gray for posting shitty comments on Facebook. After eliminating that nuisance, I continued on my quest with the assistance of my trusty iPhone by Apple (TM).

As I drew closer to Saskatchewan, I became more and more aware of the feeling that I was being watched. I put away my trusty iPhone by Apple (TM) and ran into the nearby woods. I crouched behind a shrubbery, and saw a dark figure running towards the woods in my direction. He didn’t know where I had gone though, so he began searching the bushes for me. This gave me the opportunity I needed, and when he got close enough I leapt out and screamed “FUCK FOX NEWS!” and hit him with my sledgehammer. His dark cloak fell off, and alas, it was Liam!

“Stop, don’t hurt me!” he said. I asked him why he was chasing me and why I shouldn’t end his life, and he said: “I’ve been trying to find you for days, it’s an emergency! Mike Gray’s stupid fucking posts keep clogging up Facebook, and it’s time we put a stop to it.” I asked him how we were going to do that, to which he replied “First we find Brian and get the help of his time machine, then we return to our own time… and kick the crap out of Mike Gray!”

So with a new resolve we left the woods and starting heading towards Brian’s hideout. We noticed that someone else was following us, and they were doing a piss poor job of it considering we could have heard them a mile away. Liam and I looked at each other, counted to 3, and turned around screaming and swinging the sledgehammer, thinking it was Mike Gray with another stupid comment to give. But I stayed my hand once I saw who it was. It was Brian! He looked at us surprised and said “goo goo gaga!”

I realized that we were in 1991 so obviously Brian was still just a baby. We picked him up and ran towards the nearest Radio Shaq. I put him down in the middle of the store and said “Brian, we need a time machine, can you help us?” He started crawling around the store, collecting small electronics and cables, and dragged them into the center of the room. Liam and I watched in amazement as lil’ Brian plugged motherboards into soundboards and soundboards into surfboards and surfboards into boards of wood, until there stood before us a mammoth of a structure: the time machine!

We said our final goodbyes to Brian and asked him if there was anything we could do to repay him, to which he replied:

“I’ve always wanted a VCR? I mean… goo goo gaga VCR.” Since we couldn’t understand baby speak, Liam and I left him to his own matters, and climbed aboard the time machine. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was anything that I was forgetting. And then suddenly it dawned upon me… we had a time machine and should seduce as many women as possible before leaving. Without hesitation, we used the iPhone by Apple [TM] to call as many ladies as possible. We began to serenade them, singing “Wait! They don’t love you like I love you.” In no time at all, women were falling head over heels for us.

With this incredible feat having been achieved, we felt it was time to continue to our destination: the present day. But as the machine whirled into motion and we saw Brian and his new VCR by Sony [TM] slip out of view, something caught my eye. There was an exposed wire inside the time machine! Liam didn’t notice it, and before I could say anything we were thrust forward into the time/space warp.

“Wait a second, something’s not right. These readings aren’t normal.” said Liam. I told him about the exposed wiring, and he said “Oh, don’t worry then, with a small malfunction like that our time leap may be slightly off, but that’s all. No big deal.” Relieved, I sat back down and felt the time machine drifting into a slow descent. The metal behemoth shook, and I grew nauseous. As I was hurling my guts out I noticed the readout on the dashboard of the time machine; the target date was one day before my time-traveling adventure had begun!

As I stepped off of the time machine I detected a slight yet pungent odor in the air. It was something, or someone, that smelled like Mike Gray. Only this time the smell was different, more feminine. It had to be Mike Gray’s mother!

I followed the scent all the way to the Gray household (It wasn’t gray, disappointingly), and found his mother sitting on the couch watching television.

“Wait” I thought, “I’ve been here before. This is where it all started!” I kindly asked Mrs. Gray if we could watch television together, and she accepted. Then, just as I suspected, an ad came onto the TV inquiring about whether or not I would like to be a doctor. Suddenly I realized what was going on, and I tried to remember where Mike Gray was when we saw the ad, and then I remembered… he was on Facebook making stupid posts! So I ran upstairs, kicked down Mike Gray’s door and said:

“MIKE GRAY, YOUR ERA OF SHITTY FACEBOOK COMMENTS HAS COME TO AN END!”

“No, you can’t do this to me, it’s a free country, and I can type whatever I want! What you’re doing is madness!”

“Madness? MADNESS? THIS. IS. FACEBOOK!” I pulled out my sledgehammer and swung as hard as I could, and Mike Gray literally exploded out of his room, leaving a hole the size of a young elephant in his wall, and destroying his computer. He flew past his neighborhood, past the earth’s atmosphere, past the sun, past the Milky Way galaxy, until he was caught in the gravitational pull of a black hole, and finally, Mike Gray was no more.

“Finally” I said. “It’s over. It’s all over; At long last I can browse Facebook without fear of tyranny or oppression from Mike Gray’s shitty posts.” I breathed a sigh of relief, and Liam came running into the house, saying:

“I saw Mike Gray explode out of his room! Is it over?”

“Yes, It’s finally over” I said. “And now I can take off this stupid mask I’ve been wearing this whole time for no reason.” I put my hands on my neck and started to pull my disguise off. As I finally removed it and began to wipe the sweat from my brow, Liam stoop absolutely bewildered. His jaw dropped, his body trembled, and he said in astonished disbelief:

“Sam Conner!?”

THE END

Somehow, by means of some unknown force, I received an A on this paper. There was only one comment written: “Creative!”

Man, sometimes I miss high school classes.

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Headphones: On

November 8, 2010

Like many other people my age, music is very personal to me. I might not read into every lyric, and I may not know the names of each member of every band that I like, but the music is very important to me nonetheless.

My interest is usually in the sound of the music itself and not the lyrics, though I do love to find a song in which I can enjoy both. When I discover a song with great lyrics that matches the sound I’m hooked.

I tend to only listen to music when I’m alone. As much as I love dancing around to Ke$ha or Pitbull or whatever the party tunes of the month are, when it comes to actually decent music I don’t like listening to it with anyone else because of how personal it is for me. Sharing music that I love with someone else feels great, but I’m always reluctant to do so out of fear that they’ll try to judge or analyze me based on what I listen to. I’d rather put a good pair of headphones on and enjoy it myself without worrying about having to play something that everyone likes.

Sorry this was short, I just wanted to get it out.

Carcurus

November 5, 2010

As much as I look down on racism, it’s hard to ignore a stereotype when it’s so overwhelmingly accurate in one person. This person I’m talking about is Yao Wang, my professor in Multi-variable Calculus.

Yao is a kindly middle-aged woman whom I assume is of Chinese descent.

Having never been close with any Asians during my young life, I still can’t distinguish between Asian ethnicities judged purely by someone’s face or mannerisms. It all blends into “Asian” for me. I know that’s bad, but it’s a result of my upbringing and I can’t help it.

I tried to find a picture of my professor, but her UMass staff profile has no image attached :( so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Anyways, Yao is a small Chinese woman who teaches calculus. As if this isn’t already enough of a stereotype, she has the thickest accent out of anyone I’ve ever met. Her voice sounds just like the stereotypical impersonation of an Asian, replacing all her L’s with R’s and stumbling over English like it’s a thick patch of weeds. (I just pictured her stumbling over weeds and it was really funny.)

Poor Yao is no doubt very intelligent, but because of her difficulty with language she has trouble getting certain ideas across to her students. For example, when she talks about f(x), an equation of “x”, she’s likely to begin the topic in this way:

“Horkay, so, for “f” of “x” we need to uh, you know, rook at deh x-y prane, you know, deh x-y prane, which is where deh equation is, you know deh x-y prane. Dis is where you, uh hmmmmmmmmmm. Hmmmmm. I don’t… I don’t know what…. yea you take deh x-y prane and you get in deh equation in here and deh x-y prane…” and so on.

When I got to her class on Day 1, I was like “No way, fuck this. I have to switch to another professor.” But for some reason I stuck with her, and since then the class hasn’t been nearly as impossible as I thought it would be. I’ve picked up on her dialect now and can understand pretty much everything she says, although every now and then she still manages to gangbang a whole sentence with her broken English and completely lose the class’s attention.

Also, she’s very fond of the words “arbitrary” and “trivial” and uses them way more than a person should in their lifetime. I assume that when she was learning English (my guess is three months ago) those were her favorite new words.

Though I usually find her verbal antics amusing, she can really get under my skin when she doesn’t clarify something that she mispronounced and then it turns out later that what she said was totally different from what she meant. Like one time when we were talking about vectors she said “pararrer,” but meant “parallel.” I thought she’d said “pair” so I wrote that down and for the next five minutes didn’t realize she was talking about things that were parallel. When I noticed my notes weren’t making sense I realized the error, and out of frustration wrote “fuck” then quickly re-wrote my notes.

Nowadays I expect such errors, and whenever I lose track of the lesson because of Yao’s speech I like to draw funny pictures instead of curse words. It feels more productive.

Slappin' da bass.

Here's some water.

Avast, ye demon vector!

Arbitrary and Trivial

 

Dorm evolves into… House!

November 4, 2010

I’ve lived in a dorm for almost three semesters now, and regardless of whether or not I get tired of it, I know I’ll only be doing it for one more. A while back my roommate convinced me to get an off-campus house with him and a few of our friends for Junior year, and as the deadline for picking a house and putting down a deposit draws closer I’m getting more and more excited and more and more nervous.

I’ve honestly really enjoyed living in a dorm. There are downsides, but in my experience they’ve been few and negligible. The only issues I’ve ever taken with dorm life is having to deal with noise from certain rooms (our next-door-neighbors last year) and using public bathrooms.

 

Okay, maybe the toilet is an exaggeration.

 

But the noise is no longer a problem, and I can deal with the occasional less-than-spotless stall.

The benefits of dorm life include the social aspect of being around lots of different people (which I love, even when I don’t talk to them) and also the convenience of being close to everything on campus. Nothing is more than a 20 minute walk from my dorm, and although I do want to have my own space and be free as a bird, I know that when I go off campus that 20 minute walk is going to turn into a 20 minute drive, which equals 40 minutes worth of gas every single day. That combined with having to shop for my own groceries might make it seem like I’d be spending an obstruse amount of money. Yea I made that word up. Want to fight about it? No, you don’t. Sit down.

Actually I just looked up fees for on-campus dorm rates and it looks like it currently costs me $4672 per year to live in my dorm. Some of the off-campus houses we’re looking at are in the range of $1500/month, but that’s for an entire house which can have 4 people, meaning with utilities it would cost me somewhere around $400/month, or approximately $3600/year. So if I’m lucky and the rent ends up really being that low I’ll be paying slightly less than I do now, though of course with the added privacy and freedom of a house.

As of right now it’s just me, my roommate, and our friend who will be living together. We’re looking for 3-person houses, but if we find a good 4 or 5-person house we won’t hesitate to try and find people to fill those spots. If you’re a good friend of mine and you’re thinking about living off campus next year, let me know, and if something comes up I’ll contact you about it. Holla!

Watcha’ Got in There?

November 2, 2010

I mentioned to a friend that I hadn’t blogged in a while, and they suggested that I write a blog about the contents of my pockets. I told them that was the most retarded idea I’d ever heard.

So… here we go.

Left Pocket

1. enV3 – My cell phone is my most trusted friend (besides my bottled companion, Morgan) to whom I relay all my speakings to the outside world.  He keeps me informed on where people are, what they’re doing, and people’s theories as to why it smells like weed in the hallway. He tells me what time it is, and (usually) makes sure I get out of bed for class. Since calendars are the way of the 20th century, he holds all my appointments and exam dates, as well as reminders to email that professor about that thing. He even reminds me to put my laundry in the dryer after 32 minutes. In general he helps me get shit done.

2. Room Key/Lanyard – A thin black string with a key on the end. I don’t wear the lanyard around my neck (I ain’t no freshman) but the fact that the key has something larger attached to it means I’m less likely to lose it. My room key helps me get into 7-0-FUN, which is great, but the fact that I keep him in my left pocket means that he sometimes scratches against enV3, which enV3 does not appreciate. However, their status as roommates is forced due to the contents of the right pocket.

Right Pocket

1. Wallet – Although he used to live in my back pocket, an strange and unfounded fear of being pick-pocketed last year caused me to relocate him to the New World that was the right side of my leg. There he rests waiting to be plucked out of his shell in the hopes of providing me with money, my UCard, or occasionally my license. My favorite things inside him include my Red Cross card that lists me as A+ blood type (A-plus, bitches), a wallet-sized note from old friend reminding me to be responsible in college, and a Domino’s Pizza gift card which to this day I have no idea where it came from (it honestly just appeared one day, like magic). However, despite how useful he is, his size makes him bulky and cumbersome, which means he cannot be stored in the same pocket as my other large accessory, enV3. They must remain in separate pockets. This leaves room for Wallet’s partner in crime, Pen.

2. Pen – A normally hard-working individual, he usually spends his time taking notes and doing homework. When the work is at a pause, however, he’s prone to release some aggression, usually in the form of wall conversations, such as on bathroom stalls. Someone writes “lifes a bitch”, someone else responds “your moms a bitch”, Pen says “My mom is a phys-ed teacher.” Yea, he’s pretty bad-ass.

EnV3 and Wallet can’t be roommates because of their size, but since Key and Pen are small objects they make good pairings with their larger counterparts. Pen must be on my right side because I’m right handed, and enV3 can’t be paired with Pen because those are my two most frequently used items, so I like them to be in separate pockets. It’s sort of an OCD thing. Therefore, enV3 must be on my left side. This is why he is paired with Key on the left and Wallet is paired with Pen on the right.

A-PLUS, BITCHES!

Smoke Beer!

October 19, 2010

[Disclaimer: I am not 21 and therefore it would be illegal for me to drink alcoholic beverages. Luckily, I am a law-abiding citizen and have never drank alcohol. Also it is a civil offense in Massachusetts to possess an ounce or less of marijuana, but luckily I have never smoked marijuana so that is also not a problem. In fact, this entire post is hypothetical.]

Before I ever tried alcohol (remember this is all hypothetical) I thought of underage drinking as evil, something only bad people did so they could become crazy and drive cars off of bridges and kill each other. This perspective was a direct result of my drug and alcohol education by D.A.R.E. in elementary school. D.A.R.E. was a step taken in the war on drugs, which failed miserably from what I’ve read, in an attempt to prevent kids from starting to use drugs at a young age. They used a mixture of drug-related horror stories and scare-tactics that made us all quiver at the mention of the word “pot.” As a result I grew up fearing drugs and alcohol as if they were the spawn of Satan, and didn’t want to associate with anyone who did drugs even once.

I’ll admit, D.A.R.E. kept me clean for a long time, but the same can’t be said for my classmates. Kids who took the program with me went on to smoke cigarettes in middle school and copious amounts of weed in high school. None of them were my friends, however, and so I further associated drug use with “others” and people who were not to be trusted.

In my junior and senior year of high school I hesitantly started to experiment with alcohol (remember, this is hypothetical. I’m not 21), and soon realized that such an act was not as sinister I had made it out to be. Drinking was fun; it loosened me up and gave me confidence, and the few times I drank in high school all resulted in fantastic evenings. We were always safe, we never let anyone get behind the wheel, and we never broadcasted what we were doing to the public. It was our own private affair that would for the most part stay private, and we liked it.

Towards the middle of my senior year I did something (just hypothetically of course) that I’d sworn against my entire life: I smoked weed. It wasn’t necessarily fun, it just made me cough a lot and I didn’t get high, which I guess is normal for your first time. I decided it wasn’t for me, but the experience caused me to seriously rethink past judgments I’d made on weed smokers. Later, a friend offered me weed again, and this time when I tried it I had a better experience. Eventually it grew on me, but I never got to the point where I would seek it out. I knew that I didn’t want to pick up any bad habits, so I set myself some ground rules before I went off to college that would keep me in check.

Many people won’t share my (hypothetical) perspectives on drugs, and that’s fine. Everyone has different experiences and everyone is entitled to their own opinions, even Bill O’Reilly. So here are my thoughts:

Alcohol – Really fucking awesome. Getting drunk is fun every single time for me (I wouldn’t really know since this is hypothetical) because I just dance around, say what I want to, and tell people that I love them. Even in those brief times when shit has gone down in my vicinity I’ve always stayed happy and just done what I can to help other people out, and 95% of the time absolutely nothing goes wrong anyways. True I’ve gotten sick once or twice, but I’ve never had a bad experience because I’m just so happy throughout it all. I love life sober, and I don’t need to drink to have fun, but for me personally alcohol remains a consistently safe recipe for a good time, every time.

Safety Tips: Drinking can be totally fine under these circumstances: 1. You are aware of how much you can safely drink. 2. You don’t try to do anything that might get you seriously injured, like driving or mountain climbing(?). 3. You are with at least one or two friends who you know will watch out for you. 4. You have a safe way of getting home if you can’t stay where you are drinking.

Marijuana – Though it’s cast in a shadier, less glamorous light than alcohol, weed is far safer and way less of a big deal than alcohol. Still, in order to keep myself from developing a habit of smoking I decided that I would never buy any weed for myself or own any kind of paraphernalia. I only smoke when it is offered to me for free, and I usually exchange the favor for other favors, like driving people around or getting them food. True, the act of smoking isn’t particularly pleasant and it isn’t particularly good for you, but being high is an entertaining trade-off. I’ll try to describe it for people who have never tried weed:

Things that would normally go unnoticed, a pencil on a desk for example, might have your full attention for 5 minutes before you start picturing the pencil as a tiny dick, then picture someone seeing the tiny dick and laughing at how tiny it is, and then you start laughing because it really is a tiny little dick. The pencil is now hilarious, you cannot breathe because you’re laughing so hard, and when your friends try to find out what you’re laughing at, all you can get out is “Tiny little dick!” before you break down again. Then they all laugh out of confusion. Everyone is now laughing having an awesome time and no one has any idea why. By the time the gasping for air finally overcomes the laughter, you’ve forgotten what you were doing and possibly where you are, and then you decide that you’re hungry and want Taco Bell. You drive to Taco Bell, and when a familiar song comes on the radio you realize it sounds so much more beautiful than the last time you heard it. When you get your Taco Bell you put it in your mouth and instantly your brain melts because it tastes so spectacular. You say “This is so fucking good I can’t even believe it.” And it’s true.

Safety Tips: I don’t think I put myself in any kind of danger by occasionally smoking weed. Unlike with alcohol, under the influence of weed it can actually be safe to drive, sometimes even safer than normal since the person will insist on driving slower. Also, the direct effects of weed wear off long before the direct effects of alcohol, so if you’re high at 5:00pm you could possibly be 100% sober by 6:00pm depending on the occurrence. As long as you aren’t doing brain surgery or any kind of task that requires equal dexterity, you’re fine.

Cigarettes – I am against smoking cigarettes because of the immediate danger they can and usually do pose to a person’s long-term health. I’ve never smoked a cigarette and I’ve always disliked them, but now that I’m taking Biology of Cancer and AIDS I’m starting to see the havoc they can wreak on a human body. Now that I’m legitimately educated about cigarettes instead of just terrified of them because of D.A.R.E. I see smoking cigarettes as one of the worst habits a person can pick up. It’s not so much that smoking one or two cigarettes is terrible, it’s the fact that they’re first and foremost designed to make the consumer crave more of them, resulting in addiction, which causes all the true health issues. There are people who started smoking when they were 18, quit when they were 20, and at 40 developed lung cancer as a result of their smoking. I really wish everyone could take this class and learn what I’ve learned this semester; I cannot stress enough how important it is if you smoke cigarettes to consider the fact that you are not as in control as you think, and that quitting immediately is your best bet at avoiding cancer in 25 years, because that’s usually how long it takes to show up.

Safety Tips: If you use a product with a warning label that says it will give you cancer, you are most likely not concerned about safety.

Cigars – Not as much of a concern as cigarettes because the issue of addiction is removed, and because you aren’t supposed to inhale the smoke. They’re still not good for you, but if it’s only on occasion then there’s really no problem. I smoked a few cigars with friends over the course of a summer, and by the end of that summer decided I didn’t like them. Though for some reason I still enjoy their smell.

Safety Tips: Don’t light yourself on fire.

I won’t get into anything further because I have no experience with anything else, and I don’t plan on experimenting further (even though I haven’t really experimented at all because this is all hypothetical). These were my honest opinions. Obviously it’s only one perspective and I don’t claim to be right about everything. There are inherent dangers in literally any action, so don’t just take me at my word that you can drink or smoke and not get hurt. Have the intelligence to know your game-plan and prepare ahead of time so that you don’t end up endangering someone’s life, because if you aren’t careful the worst can and has happened.

And to the straight-edge kids: Keep on doing what you’re doing, I admire you. Just don’t hate on someone for using substances when they aren’t doing any harm.

If you’re aware of someone using drugs in a destructive way, however, talk to them. If they won’t budge, get others involved at your own discretion. Even if they’re obstinate, voicing your concern to a self-destructive friend may help them realize that they need to make a change.

Go UMass.

Physics is Phun!

October 18, 2010

Whenever I’m talking to someone I’ve just recently met and I happen mention my major, I get a pretty surprised reaction. I’m a physics major, and while that might not be the most amazing phenomenon in the world it is a relatively rare thing. I’ve never heard of an “easy” major at this school, but physics is certainly not it. However, when I talk about my major I always feel the need to explain myself further, so that people can get a more accurate impression of me.

For the most part I assume that when the average person thinks about physics they picture a scientist with big white poofey hair writing incomprehensible equations filling up an entire blackboard. That image becomes somewhat accurate when you get into the advanced stuff, but for the most part it’s not that intimidating. At least for me.

LOL, JK. It’s hard as shit!

Every single person in my physics class is a complete genius, while I am a normal human being who doesn’t have a complete knowledge of all things mathematic stored in my brain. I know that struggling with a difficult class is nothing unusual, but look at scores from my first exam:

 

(At least I'm not that doucher who got a 10 out of 150.)

 

After attending every single lecture and studying for hours for this exam I only managed to squeak out a final grade of 53%. I tried my best, but there’s only so much you can do when you aren’t Einstein’s fucking reincarnation. Things like this really get me down; it makes me wonder if I’m going in the right direction.

I got into physics because of conversations I had in high school about the expansion of the universe, how light and gravity work, and all this really cool stuff that blew my mind. I was able to understand physics better than most of my classmates, and I realized that I just really wanted to keep learning how everything works.

I come from a family of teachers, and true to Cowell form I’ll soon be taking education courses in the hopes of teaching high school physics.

Why teaching? While I never liked homework, I’ve always enjoyed the structure of school. Same classes every day, a definitive moment (the bell) when everyone must move on to the next activity, and of course having summers off (though I’ll certainly be working during the summer). Knowing beforehand how my day at work will go is a reassuring comfort that I’ll be grateful to have someday.

Why high school? Although my love for kids is based on children aged five to twelve (the ages of campers at FCDC) I wouldn’t want to teach that age group in school.

Why? Because children are all retards.

If I’m teaching someone, I want to know that I can relate to them and understand the way they’re thinking. The teenage mind isn’t so different from the adult mind, so even though in a high school I’ll be older than my students I’ll still be able to think on their level and hopefully be able to help them understand the material. I know that physics doesn’t come easily to most people, and that since I’m in high school I’m going to have a lot of shit-heads that won’t pay attention or cooperate, but it’s well worth the trade-off of being able to at least talk to my students as equals.

The reason I’m so frustrated with my physics courses now is because I have no motivation to learn the exact calculus-based formulas that I’m currently being taught. I’m gonna be teaching high school physics, so the only material I’ll need to have memorized is high school physics (that is, essentially, Newtonian physics and a bit of thermodynamics). Everything I’m learning right now is stuff that I know for a fact I will never be re-hashing to my students, so finishing the course with a passing grade is currently my only goal.

I realize that to teach the basics I need to know more than just the basics, but the shit they’re giving me right now is seriously not applicable to any of my future teaching. My current class teaches how to do everything I’ve already learned from high school and freshman year, but in a super-hard calculus way that would be impossible to comprehend for anyone less experienced than me. Therefore, I will be using ZERO of this information when I’m teaching high schoolers.

I want to learn new and interesting things about the universe, not just re-learn old equations dressed up to be more difficult. I honestly love physics, but I hate my physics class.

I would keep ranting, but I have to go to bed now so I can wake up for physics tomorrow morning. D’OH.

Video Lames

October 14, 2010

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Writing blogs comes naturally to me when I’m passionate about an idea, but for the past ten days I haven’t been inspired to talk about anything in particular. I always prefer to wait it out and write something decent than to spit out a crappy blurb about how boring my life is. But I digress, here’s some blog.

Much to the liking of my Bellingham friends and much to the chagrin of my UMass friends, I am a gamer. I absolutely love playing video games. Granted I play them infinitely less than I did in middle school and high school, but it’s still a habit, one that I’ll probably never kick.

My life as a gamer began in my childhood with the onset of the Nintendo 64. Eventually I moved on to a Sega Dreamcast, and then in 2001 to an Xbox, which is when I discovered my favorite series of all time: Halo. Boy did/do I ever love Halo.

It may help to put things into perspective if I admit that for the majority of my life I never had any friends. I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot of friends, I’m saying I had no friends. None. I didn’t hang out with anyone in particular at school, I never went over to other people’s houses, and I certainly never dared to try and meet new people. Only in my junior year of high school did I emerge from my proverbial shell and start making friends; so if I was 16 then and I’m 19 now that means I’m talking about 84% percent of my life.

Damn. I never even noticed how shitty that is until I looked at that number. 84%. Shit. Anyways that’s just background information. Rest assured I’m very happy with the friends I have now.

Under the circumstances I’m sure you can understand how a recluse like me could have easily latched onto video games as a means of entertainment: it only requires one person to enjoy it. I played a lot of video games because I couldn’t make friends, and I couldn’t make friends because I played a lot of video games. It was a vicious cycle, but from behind the controller it didn’t feel vicious at all.

What most people see when they look at a person playing a video game is pitiful: someone sitting on a couch, motionless, staring vacantly at the TV. Such an observation is understandable, but ignorant. The sight of ones body while playing a video game is deceiving, because every little bit of joy or excitement that person feels due to the game is totally in their head. It’s similar to the way a person might watch a compelling movie but appear emotionless, though to an even further extent. Playing a video game is like watching a movie, except you are participating as the main character. Your second-to-second decisions matter, and if the game is really good you’ll feel like you’re actually living in the virtual world. As the real world begins to blur away, all of the real world’s problems fade as well, and the only issues you have to deal with are “Oh shit this is a really sweet car.” or “Oh shit I have to kill this cool looking alien.”

Another thing most critics tend to neglect when they talk about video games is the thing that makes them so dang popular. The one and only reason people pick up their controllers is to do things that they can’t do in real life. Whether it’s driving the most exotic car ever conceived, blowing up a spaceship, or defeating an army of zombies, people play video games because literally anything is possible.

Grand Theft Auto is a perfect example, and a common one at that. I own Grand Theft Auto 4, and one of the first things I do when the game starts is get into a car and run over fifty people on the sidewalk.

Now, anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m not a violent person. I’ve never hurt a soul and I don’t have any sort of closeted rage against anyone. However, someone observing my actions as I play this game might be inclined to sign me up for some intensive psychotherapy. In the virtual world, however, the difference is in the intent.

What I find so fun about the game isn’t that I can murder people on the street; that would be a horrific thing to take pleasure in. What I love is the fact that I’m getting a free pass to do literally whatever I want with no consequences. It’s every person’s fantasy.

The video game is a platform on which people can forget their troubles and live their dreams at the same time. Sure, we may get lost in the worlds created for us once in a while, but what’s so bad about that? We’re certainly not doing any harm, and we’re having fun! Even better, the social aspect of online gaming has exploded over the past decade, and now owning a game console at my age is as common as owning a car. Half the time people spend playing video games is now spent with other human beings, whether it be online or in person, and I think we can all agree that that’s a step in the right direction.

So go ahead and tell me I’m a nerd for playing video games. I can’t hear you over the sound of my plasma grenades anyways.

Review: The Social Network

October 4, 2010

I have to admit, my first thought upon seeing the trailer for this movie was:

“No way. No way are they making a fucking movie about Facebook. That is SO… GAY.”

Perhaps not the most open-minded instant judgement, but I’m sure you understand where I was coming from. Facebook is something I use every day, true, but it’s not something I ever considered to have a history or any great story behind it. I just saw it as some cool fad that was popular now but would eventually fade away, as all things do.

Turns out I was right and wrong.

The Social Network tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg. It starts off mere days before he invents facebook,  chronicling his inspiration for the website and his day-to-day decisions that led to its inception (BWAAA). However the movie itself is told in a non-linear timeline. “Real-time” in the film is based in two separate lawsuit trials in which Zuckerberg is being sued by different people for ownership rights over facebook. As Zuckerberg and the others are going over the case, they recall certain moments concerning facebook’s origins, and those memories become the main timeline of the film.

This non-linear style caught me off guard, and to tell the truth I didn’t know what was happening for the first ten minutes or so. But that wasn’t a failure of the movie, I just I expected to be treated like a child intellectually when I walked into the theater. I incorrectly assumed that since the film’s target audience was people who use Facebook a lot (pre-teens to post-grads) it was going to be dumbed down; stocked with farmville jokes and poke-humor. I was wrong. The Social Network was fantastic.

The acting was superb, even by Jesse Eisenberg who played Zuck. He maintained a stone-face for the majority of the film, smiling maybe three times throughout, but even stone-faced he brought so much emotion out of his character. Interviewers of the real Zuckerberg have noted that he isn’t a very sociable person (how ironic) and Eisenberg’s portrayal of him was spot-on from what I’ve read. Everyone else did equally well; every single character was believable and so very alive; even extras in the background had me convinced.

The dialogue is what got me. Very quick, very clever lines spurted out by Zuckerberg in the very first scene threw me off instantly, and I immediately had to change my level of attention to take in every little quip. The script never faltered, and as I listened I hung on every line, nervous that if I missed one sentence I’d miss something very important.

The story was constantly fascinating and at some points got very emotional, which was impressive since it revolved around such a stolid character. As Zuck and his friends entered situations that grew increasingly stressful the bonds between them all were slowly ripped apart. Their silent rage was portrayed gradually until it manifested itself into the lawsuits that made up the “real” timeline.

All in all, The Social Network is a very smart film that doesn’t bullshit. It tells an emotional story of growth and loss and betrayal and progress with very believable characters (well, they are real) in a fascinating format that keeps you interested the whole time.

I saw the movie for $5, but I would have paid $10.

I missed a 10:10am physics lecture earlier this week, a mistake that went unpunished but still had consequences. I didn’t understand anything in lecture today, and I felt like I was leagues behind my classmates.

Who am I kidding, I’m always leagues behind my classmates. They’re all friggin’ geniuses; the kind of people who’ll be working on the LHC someday. They ask questions in class about stuff I’ve never even heard of, as I’m still squinting my eyes trying to make sense of all the numbers and symbols on the blackboard. But I digress.

I woke up when my alarm went off at 9:30 am, and as I got up to silence the beeping I thought: “My class isn’t until 10:10am, I can sleep for another five minutes, no problem.” I jumped back in bed and closed my eyes, taking in all the warm comforts of my sheets and pillow. Truly, getting back into bed after waking up is one of the best feelings a person can experience. It usually makes for memorable dreams too.

I woke up a few minutes later, and felt too lazy and tired to check my clock. It felt like two or three minutes had passed, so I wasn’t worried. I went back to bed. Another epic dream (wish I remembered it.)

By the third time I awoke, I figured it was time to get moving. I tried to get up, but I was still too tired to lift my head off the pillow. I tried again and again, until finally I had elevated my eyes just barely enough to glimpse the time on the clock.

10:00 am.

Fuck.

For the benefit of understanding my conundrum, please allow me to personify my body for the following inner conflict that took place at this point.

Mike: “Oh shit, 10 o’clock? I gotta get out of bed and go right away if I want to get to class!”

Body: “Dude just stay in bed, it’s not worth it.”

Mike: “But… it’s my physics lecture, I need to go. It’s my major after all.”

Body: “Nah, you just stay right here. This bed is really comfy. They don’t even take attendance in that class! Just stay here, if you do then you’ll be all rested and feel great for the rest of the day.”

Mike: “But I need to go to physics! It’s super hard and if I miss even one class I’ll be so behind, then I’ll have to get a tutor because I won’t understand anything anymore, and I don’t want a tutor, that’s awkward! I don’t want to talk to a stranger! You know how awkward I am.”

Body: “I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU TRY TO GET OUT OF THIS BED I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU!”

So… I stayed in bed. And I slept through physics (to my surprise I actually mustered the willpower to go to my next class, but only because it’s my favorite class.)

You’ve won this round, body, but the war isn’t over. I promise you, someday I will start going to sleep before midnight and I will pass my physics class. And who’ll be laughing then?! Me! Ha-haaa!

Well technically both of us, since you are me. But still. Ha.