Wednesday, June 29, 2011

List of Stuff

Okay, so with all of this free time, I have decided to come up with a list of everything I want to do/learn to do.  Obviously, I cannot do most of these things in the week of remaining leave that I have, but seeing as I won't be spending hours of my free time studying, even once I'm off of leave, I will hopefully have some time to do some of what I want to do.  This can be sort of my guide as to what to do when I'm bored and drinking coffee on my sister's living room floor with my laptop open (haha, of course I'm not doing that now...), seeing as I've gone through about five books in the past couple of weeks.  So here goes:

- Learn to play piano (I feel like I've written this down somewhere before)
- Take my GREs.
- Languages: Learn Arabic, at least maintain my little bit of Russian, improve German.
- Actually run a full marathon... yes, this has been on my list FOREVER.  Or about four years anyway.  Hopefully now that I'll actually be getting some sleep, I can actually do it without getting injured. I'd like to do one in the fall.  I think I could easily add an extra seven miles to my long run between now and October.  
- Re-learn cross country skiing/do some more downhill skiing (obviously in winter).  Good thing I'll be in upstate New York where there will be lots of snow - assuming I don't deploy immediately, which may well happen.
- Learn more about areas that interest me, for example:

  •  Psychology-related stuff
  • Geology (yes, I actually loved that class in college, even though most people didn't)
  • Anthropology-related areas.  Other cultures are so interesting to me.
  • And I have a lot more, but those are what comes to my mind right now..
So there you go.  There are lots of other things like hiking that I all ready do that I want to spend more time doing.  Or maybe snowshoeing!  I haven't done that since I lived in Tahoe :)  

Also, there is a possibility that my sister may end up in New York with me at some point, in which case, we're going to hit up some Canada together, as well as some Adirondack mountains.  I love that I have a sister who is as active as I am.  YAY :)  

I suppose I should get on that list now instead of writing about it... haha.  


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brave New World... free will... etc.

As I sit and drink my coffee because I woke up around 3.5 hours before I planned, I figured I would post about the book I'm reading now, Brave New World, and my thoughts on how it actually relates or doesn't relate to the real world.  You may or may not agree with what I post... and it's mostly opinion.  But hey, I'm entitled to that!   I've wanted to read this book for quite some time, as I blogged in another post, and since I finally finished my last book, I've started on it.  I really enjoy these types of books for some reason.  I'm almost a third of the way through (not bad since I just started yesterday, but then, it's not exactly a long/difficult book at the moment).  

  For those who don't know, it's a futuristic book where people are socially/biologically/psychologically engineered to fit into certain classes in society.  There isn't really any free will because the people are basically hypnotized in their sleep to think a certain way.  You can see the characters mindlessly making statements that were repeated to them over and over again in their sleep while they were infants.  Anyways, it got me to thinking.  This is probably going to go in a direction very different from what people are expecting.  No, I'm not going to say that people are going to be socially engineered into becoming passive so the ruling class can completely control them.  No... I think it's actually going the opposite direction and I get frustrated when people assume the government is just controlling us into thinking what they want us to think.  Sure, there is an element of that.... and like my sister pointed out, that is what advertising, consumerism, etc. is all about - making people think they want/need something they don't really want or need so a business can make money.  But there is a difference between people thinking they want to buy something, and people mindlessly doing what the government tells them to do.

I suppose if the world really were the way the book describes it, then yes, people would be completely mindlessly controlled by the government.. Because these people really have no choice because they were born into thinking this way (though at this point in the book you can kind of see where people are starting to question their thoughts a little).  And in a way, the world IS like that.   You are born into a certain class/culture, and you accept what that is.  But it's ALWAYS been that way - there's no new government conspiracy to control our thoughts (and if there is, I guess I don't know about it, which means it must be working).  At least in western cultures we have WAY more access to knowledge than people did hundreds of years ago when they were in their small towns.  Back then the ruling class really DID have complete control over what the peasants/lower classes thought.  And I suppose in less developed countries, it is still this way where people have no access to education, and the government bans books/research/etc. that doesn't support the state goals.  But I get so frustrated when I hear AMERICANS saying the government is brainwashing us.  We have SO MUCH access to information these days and in this country.  Sure, the media tells us what it wants us to think, what sells, yeah, that's true, and of course we aren't going to know everything at the state/national level.  It's called NATIONAL SECURITY.  You have no way of knowing the absolute truth unless you are actually there - this much is true.  It's true that school teaches us what the government wants us to learn - someone determined what they thought we should know in order to be successful, and if you're into conspiracies and stuff, what will help indoctrinate us into serving the "ruling class" (if you haven't noticed, I don't feel this way at all).  But unlike the past, we CAN learn beyond what someone is telling us.  We have so many resources that it's very unlikely we'll be "brainwashed" anytime soon, unless someone actually takes away all of our resources.  I think this rings especially true to me because I have had people tell me that I must be brainwashed (yes, someone told me this) because I'm in the Army.  Really?  How uneducated is that?  I see the same news as everyone else.  I have access to everything everyone else has, except the key difference:  I actually KNOW what the military is like beyond what someone else tells me.  I have friends who have actually BEEN to the Middle East, I have FAMILY in the Middle East - I'm not merely going off of what the media is telling me.  Yes, I have to take orders, but we also learn you don't take unlawful orders.  The people who order those things, and the people who mindlessly follow orders are NOT the norm.  Soldiers still have consciences, despite what so many people think.

OKAY, so... that is my rant.  Feel free to disagree/agree with me.  I know it had flaws, but I'm not trying to turn in an essay with a perfect argument - these are mostly my thoughts provoked by reading this book and things that I have heard other people say, especially in reaction to my being in the military.  Oh, and by the way, the book is quite good!  I recommend it :)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Well, now that I have time...

I'm actually kinda bored.  I didn't think it was possible, but with everyone working, no car, and none of my family living in the downtown area where I could walk anywhere, there's not as much to do.  I just finished my most recent book.  I would have loved to have run, but I did quite an adventurous ten-mile run yesterday that included lots of hills, trails, public transportation (because I got lost on the trails), a lot of hunger, and a generally very long ten-miles that scared my mom because I wasn't at her work two hours after telling her I was on my way.  So, my knees are not in the best state today (I think the hills did that, since I had been running in Florida, and there are no hills there, I am not so accustomed to them anymore).

  Today was quite an unremarkable day spent in my pajamas reading my latest book that I bought before my plane ride back, Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner, who is one of my favorite authors for light reading.  Well, I guess I wouldn't call it light... the story was pretty sad up until the end, but I suppose it doesn't take a lot of processing to understand what is going on.  I REALLY need to find a book that is mostly happy, but I haven't had much luck in that area... I suppose all good books have something bad happen, but these have all involved a lot of emotional difficulties, and if you're like me, you get really into your books, and take on the moods of the characters, and when you're reading emotional books, that isn't always the best thing.  All of the three books that I've finished recently have involved affairs (though all in different contexts)... not really the happiest thing to read about.  Next on the reading list: Brave New World.  I've been wanting to read it since last summer when a girl in my summer training platoon was reading it (we spent nearly every weekend at Barnes and Noble buying new books).  I have that one along with several others that I acquired before I left Florida, along with books that my sister has (about half of which are books that I read over the summers while I was here and left).

In the meanwhile, I cooked my sister and I some curry with tofu, red peppers, and spinach for dinner :)  And am now relaxing to some music (yay Pandora!) and red wine.  Quite unremarkable indeed, but quite relaxing. I wish I had my music books here, or I'd play my flute.  I have my flute, but my books are all in the trunk of my mom's car... oops!  I do suppose I could download sheet music from the internet and play off of my computer screen :).  As some of you may know, I really want to learn to play the piano, and I think that will be one of my goals now that I am finished with school.  I would love to take lessons, and since I actually know most of the fundamentals of music all ready (and have learned a little about the piano in the past), I'm hoping I could catch on quickly.  Sadly, most of my experience with musical instruments has been with wind instruments (flute, clarinet), but I took up a little guitar back in my teenage years.  The only unfortunate part of playing wind instruments: they don't really go well with singing.

Alas, I'm going to find something else to do with my time besides blog :)


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gradumucation and stuff

So it has been a good bit of time since I have last updated, so I suppose I am due to write about what I have been upto these past few weeks.

Well, first, I finally graduated.  I'm a college graduate.  It seems so strange to say that, though I've finally become more accustomed to it, but right after graduation it was the strangest thing to say.  And possibly, more importantly, I'm an officer now.  Also strange.  On graduation day, after we go through graduation, we change into our Dress Blues and do our commissioning ceremony and get pinned.  After we are pinned, cadets who are walking around will salute us.  It was so strange being saluted, but still really neat.  Since I was enlisted prior to going to West Point, it was even a little stranger for me perhaps, because I was finally on the other side.  Of course, it's been five years since I was really enlisted, so not as strange as if I had gone through OCS (officer candidate school) as an enlisted soldier and 16 weeks later came out as a lieutenant.

After graduation I took a road trip down the East Coast and spent a couple of weeks down in Florida enjoying the sunshine and water, and of course, good company.  It took us nearly a week to make it down the coast because we stopped in several random spots:  Scranton, PA, Virginia (somewhere, I don't remember where), and a couple of places in South Carolina before we made it into Florida.  Florida was awesome: lots of time spent kayaking, swimming, eating really good food, spending time on the beach, and of course running - but not as much running as I would have liked.  Unfortunately, the heat made running difficult except for certain hours of the day.  This is one nice thing about being back in Oregon - I can run more than a few miles without hurting.  Sadly, my lack of running due to finals + graduation + travel and heat means I won't be doing the marathon I had wanted to do at the end of the month, but I still want to do the half.  I HAVE been running, just not the miles I usually run (3-6 mile runs have been the norm as opposed to 6-10, and I haven't done a long run in about a month).

Anyways, now I am back in the Northwest.  Around pine trees and rivers and bookstores and all that cool stuff.  The only bummer is that both my mom and sister now live in more suburban areas instead of close to the city, though my sis isn't too far out, so that is nice.

Now I am going to go back to reading my book since I have spent entirely too much time on the internet this morning :)