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Monthly Archives: November 2002

Somewhat conceited entry follows: I…  §

Somewhat conceited entry follows:

I went to a barbecue tonight attended by a group of fairly geeky people I’d never met before. All of them were friends with one another. One of their number was the “legendary” guy who had “almost scored a 700” on one section of his GRE. In fact, I heard all about his GRE scores. My scores (yes, the ones I’m not quite satisfied with because I didn’t have enough preparation) utterly dwarf his… but I never let on. His performance was mentioned again and again throughout the evening… and all the while, I secretly smiled… listening without saying a word. Oh, the humanity!

This is an excellent lesson in why humility is a good thing. You never know when someone is secretly thinking you are an imbecile. Of course, this entry is, by its very nature, not humble at all, so I am not taking my own advice in the least.

(This is an excellent lesson in why discussions of lessons learned are utter crap: lessons are never really learned, only rubbed a little in vain like Aladdin’s lamp and then tossed aside.)

But everything I’ve said so far is just nonsense — me trying to avoid saying what really must be said… and what must be said is this:

Sometimes, in the middle of winter, in the dead of night, the black cold can be striking indeed. There are moments — the most important moments in life even — when you are alone with your breath; it hangs in the air in front of you, immutable and ageless as the seconds invisibly and inaudibly grind to a halt. For what seems like an eternity, you look straight ahead into the next minute, the next hour, the next month, the next year, frozen and aware… and you realize…

…at this moment, there remains nothing to be said and nothing to be done; it is out of your hands — the movement of life ahead is simple and direct: unapoligetically, mercilessly toward the future, without compromise — without pause. Loves and hates don’t matter; they are not yours to control.

Tonight I have had one of these moments. There is nothing to do but press on — press on.

It’s been a long time…  §

It’s been a long time since I had to try to type quietly early in the morning. It’s a strange feeling… Really I don’t even know where to begin, so I suppose I’ll just close my eyes and try to ride the currents a little longer.

It’s problematic. It’s very problematic….  §

It’s problematic. It’s very problematic. I don’t really know how to think about it. But it worries me…

I spend more time alone…  §

I spend more time alone than almost anyone I know. I don’t know any way around it… I travel alone. I shoot photos alone. I write alone. For the most part, I drink alone. I simply seem to “play nicer” with others in only very short bursts — limited exposure. But I also grew up in a large family… and find silence to be, at times, quite deafening. Is there some way to reconcile these seemingly opposing needs?

P.S. Right now would be one of those times… the silence is indeed… deafening.

So I got into my…  §

So I got into my car earlier intending to run a few errands and I realized that I had no headlights. Mildly upsetting — I’m not used to anything being wrong with my car. The fuses check out so I think I blew a relay, but then what the hell do I know, I’m no mechanic. Oh well, I’ll get to one in a moment. Or Monday, maybe, since tomorrow is Us vs. Them day in this city and I have to wear red and act stupidly for my old school.

Geez, what a dump I’m running here. Got to clean up a little this weekend. Don’t want to rush headlong into the holiday season atop a pile of rubbish and miscellany. Heh… there’s a phrase. Rubbish and miscellany. Yeah… Really, it’s rather early in the morning. I can’t be held responsible for this entry at all.


Busy, busy days. The grad…  §

Busy, busy days. The grad school rush is on, kids, and building applications is a more involved process than I ever anticipated it could be. But nevermind, it’s being handled. Meanwhile, I’m crossing my fingers for Mac. Here’s hoping his job is saved.

I watched 8 1/2 again tonight. I sometimes wonder if anyone else anywhere feels the same way about this film. It simply makes me cry. It’s beautiful. All of the people… and Guido, especially Guido… I know them all. I love the film. I love it.

Someone just tried to scam…  §

Someone just tried to scam me. I got a piece of e-mail claiming to be from eBay saying that I needed to verify my account because I was under investigation for fraud. Following the link in the e-mail led me to a page that looked like an eBay “verification” page asking for all kinds of juicy details like my social security number, my credit card number, my driver’s license number, and so on to “help with the investigation” and “verify more quickly.”

Of course, the headers were forged — the mail listed the From: domain as ebay.com but the message was actually routed through an IP that resolves to AT&T Broadband (a service provider) and the page looked like an eBay page but it wasn’t hosted at the eBay domain — instead it was hosted behind an IP that led to Angelfire. D’oh! There’s fraud here, but not from me!

I just feel sorry for all the people who fill out this “eBay” form for “verification” to “help” with the “investigation” and then find out a month later that their identity has been stolen.

In case anyone doesn’t know: never give your social security number, driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, or credit card number in response to any e-mail from anywhere, or even on a Web site linked from an e-mail, because no matter how legit it looks… it isn’t. Your identity will be stolen like that (snaps fingers).

As someone who has chosen…  §

As someone who has chosen the ‘anthropologist’ label for myself, I am very aware of my own cultural biases and actively try to compensate for them whenever possible, especially if engaged in petty moralizing (which, let’s face it, we all tend to do).

My father, on the other hand, has a greater number of very egregious cultural biases than almost anyone I’ve ever met in my entire life, yet he is completely unaware of them and will never understand (or will always refuse to acknowledge) that there even exist such things as cultural biases. Worse, he will happily moralize from sunrise to sunet about even the most sensitive of topics, without any account for the feelings of others, myself included. I love my father, of course, but sometimes he makes me so incredibly angry that I simply have to call him fscking nuts and end the conversation abruptly, rather than continue to listen to his prophecies and admonitions. I hate doing it, though, because I know it hurts his feelings especially badly when I do such things because I am “his son” (more cultural bias, probably too much to explain here).

Now I hate the fact that I have even posted this. But I have.

Sometimes an incredible feeling of…  §

Sometimes an incredible feeling of optimism breaks through the boundaries of your defenses and fills the moment with hope and familiarity. Someday, we will all be happy together, in this small blue world of ours. I am sure of it. Perhaps not soon. Or perhaps sooner than any of us think.

I am happy to be a budding anthropologist. I am incredibly grateful to have accidentally stumbled onto a worldview that I love so much. I can feel our collective soul, speaking to me from today and from aeons ago as well.

I wish I could give this optimism to my friends and family, so that they could feel it, too… But at least I can hold it, keep it, in case at some point they are able to hear it, to receive it.

Everything is beautiful. Life is beautiful.

I’d better go before this becomes truly tacky.   😉

The trouble with Milton is…  §

The trouble with Milton is that it’s really basically impossible to find out whether he was right. But nevermind. My time is running out, it is time to stop studying this or that at random and really make some choices. Life happens very fast indeed.

Let me get this straight……  §

Let me get this straight… Iraq agrees to allow weapons inspectors in, and now we say we will invade them anyway because their official statement of acceptance suggested that they have no weapons of mass destruction and “false information” is in violation of the related U.N. resolution?

This is a fscked up game, almost embarassingly petulant. The White House seems to be full of four-year-olds.

So many things to say,…  §

So many things to say, so many people to say them to, so many reasons not to ever let any of it slip out. Feelings and people are very complicated things, I think. God, it’s all so banal and yet so unbearable at the same time. Oh well. I love everyone and everything. I hope the snow comes. I hope we raise our hands in rememberance and solidarity. I hope when it ends we are closer together, not farther apart.

Having been very pleasantly awakened…  §

Having been very pleasantly awakened in the wee hours, I now find myself at something of a loose end. Back to sleep? Doesn’t look like it. So, I suppose I will now get a jump-start (having taken the GRE already) on trying to come up with a deeper, more specific set of research goals.

I believe I find myself interested in considering and of course studying whatever it is that occurs at the intersection between political economy and media semiotics in the developing nations of the east, especially on the individual or small population level. What exactly this means is not even clear to me. So I guess I’ll hang around for a few hours and try to make it into something both more clear and more sane.

God, I adore the early morning hours. I look at my clocks right now and together they tell me silently that it is 2.07 AM. I love them for it, every one. It is dark and quiet and there is a little rain outside, and I love that, too.

I have stumbled into a sudden moment of gratitude. My undergraduate study was a success beyond anything I could have hoped for. Then, I was able to travel throughout much of 2002, seeing family and friends and meeting interesting people along the way. I have just finished my third book. I have taken my exams and will be in a Ph.D. program next year — after I return from travel through China and Russia with one of my best friends. And, as if all of that weren’t enough, my cat is diminutive and white and likes me immensely.

Thank you, world. Life is good.

So I took the exam…  §

So I took the exam this morning for the first “official” time. I don’t yet know if I will try it again next month. My composite score is 1350 (710Q/640V), which is solid but not incredible. No analytical, of course, because that has been sliced out of the test.

I’ve never really faced the clock to such an extent on any other standardized test in my life. I still don’t lend this test much credence. I’d be surprised if most anthropology programs do, either, given the incredible cultural bias of this exam. No wonder my uncle (who now holds a Ph.D.) really disliked it so much when he was trying to get into graduate school. He took it several times, if I remember correctly…

But I’m not sure I really want to do that. (sigh)

My anecdotal findings on the…  §

My anecdotal findings on the GRE CAT: statistically, this test is utter crap. I have taken three sample exams from Kaplan tonight. On a quantitative test with a possible score range of 200-800, I have scored 450, 570 and 730, not in that order. My verbal scores have fluctuated almost as much. There is no upward or downward trend in either over the last few days.

These tests were all taken under nearly identical circumstances, between noon and 10.00 PM using the same work area. Obviously I am using the same mind and the same set of eyeballs each time.

I have decided to stop studying and practicing for the test and just go to bed. It feels like a crap shoot anyway. Very frustrating.

Had I known how poorly this test was designed — had I known that my scores on the component exams might fluctuate 300 points from test to test — I would have allowed myself time to take the exam four or five times over the space of a year.

As things are now, this is basically the one shot I get, unless my applictions are to be postponed for yet another year.

Like I said last night, this sucks.