Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Economy vs. Deficit and Economists vs. Republicans

Good morning, friends, viewers, and casual passers-by.
Last night was the CNN Tea Party debate. For those of you who may not know, the Tea Party is a particularly conservative branch of the Republican Party - the conservative party of the two most prominent parties in the US - which adamantly opposes taxation and government oversight. They perpetuate the idea that the government is over-spending and over-regulating and needs to be reined in and reduced to its purely Constitutional responsibilities. The legislation most opposed by the Tea Party is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called "Obamacare," which was signed into law on March 23, 2011; to them, it is the prime example of government overstepping its boundaries and recklessly spending taxpayer dollars.
The focus of the debate last night was once again the economy; there was a lot of raucous applause and booing for the candidates on various points, but what got to me was the misrepresentation of facts, especially about the economy and the debt.
You see, what the candidates failed to note was that the "economy," the "deficit," and the "debt" are all different things. The "economy" is commerce. Business. Consumer spending. This is where citizens are employed and businesses produce goods and services to be consumed by the general public. The "deficit" is the amount of money in one fiscal year that the government spends in excess of its revenue (meaning income from taxes.) The "debt," finally, is all of the money that the government still owes, taking into account all of the deficits over the years that have not yet been paid off.
This difference may not seem like much of an issue to some voters, especially because they are all admittedly things on the "to-fix" list. The issue, however, is that they cannot all be fixed at the same time.
Economists and business leaders alike say that the way to get commerce moving again is to increase consumer spending. The basic idea is that the reason that businesses produce goods and services is for those goods and services to be purchased. Businesses cannot (and should not be asked to) hire employees if the current employees are providing adequate supply in relation to the demand of the company's clientele. In order to increase production, or supply, one must increase demand. If demand increases, then the companies will probably hire more employees to fill the need.
The issue with this is that, by the free market, no one wants to take the first step. Consumers do not want to take on more debt in hard economic times; they are already strapped for cash and worried about whether they will have a job in the morning. Businesses do not want to hire new people; with fewer products being purchased, they too are strapped for cash and worried about whether they will have customers in the morning. The only entity with a big enough influence (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars) is the government, which has the added benefit of being able to look at the problem with a largely unbiased (or at least bi-partisan) opinion and with the focus on improving the lives of its citizens over the shares of its stockholders.
Now I know that sounds scary--when everyone has debt, the last thing they want to hear is that the government has debt as well, and there has been a lot of fear-mongering about whether the government has the right to do so and whether it will pay off.
To this end, all of the economists I have read have agreed that government spending is the only way to improve the economy. Furthermore, they worry that the proposed stimulus plans are not big enough. The 2009 plan, approximately $787 billion, did actually have some effect; unfortunately, the results are hard to quantify because the economy just ended up not sucking quite as badly as it could have without the stimulus. This, however, is not a policy failure, except insofar as it should have been bigger to get the economy going. The problem is that because it didn't improve, naysayers don't want to give Obama even more money now for a new stimulus, which economists again say probably isn't big enough.
But on to the debt and deficit. Surely we have a lot of both. Congress has been asked to come up with a budget plan to avoid flirting with default again by reducing government spending by over $1 trillion over the next ten years. At the same time, many are calling for a tax overhaul to close up loopholes and hold everyone accountable for their fair share of taxes. Both of these things are probably a good idea - if we reduce spending and increase revenue (income from taxes), we will have a much more balanced budget with a lower deficit.
Because of the Republican candidates' failure to separate the economy from the deficit in discussion, they are essentially spreading misinformation. They seem to say that government spending increases the deficit, which will make the economy worse. Paying it off, however, will make the economy better. This is simply not true. Nothing about the government paying off its own debt will increase the production or consumption of goods and services. Furthermore, if the government continues not to act on the economy, businesses and households will continue to lose their own revenue; as a result, tax revenue to the government, which is based on percentages of such commercial exchanges, will fall at precisely the same rate. This will cause its own increases in the government deficit and debt.
In contrast, short-term government spending could reverse the whole cycle. By spurring the economy, the government increases the GDP, which increases tax revenue, even without doing anything to taxes. This will reduce the deficit in its own way, meanwhile making life much easier for citizens, as employment rates will go up to fill the new-found demand. Thus, a short-term stimulus can quickly pay for itself, while a long-term policy of austerity will result in an increase of deficit over time.
This is what economists are saying. Meanwhile, candidates insist that spending will not improve anything. How can they reject the advice of experts, you may ask?
It is just one of many things that speaks to a deeper problem among the conservative movement: an ignorance of reality in favor of an idealized world that follows a near-religious set of dogmas. I could go on, but Andrew Sullivan said it much better than I ever could and I would recommend that anyone read it for basically my full opinion on the matter.
So please leave your comments! I am not sure if I will be able to reply to them (there is just not a good way to reply to comments here on Blogger), but I do want to know your thoughts because I'm more than willing to admit if and when I am wrong. The only way we can fix these issues is by having civil and honest discussions about the problems with our nation.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

30 DoB 19/20: 30 DoB No More.

Okay, I'm tired of writing disappointing blogs and I'm tired of feeling disappointed that I didn't meet arbitrary goals that I set when I have been somewhat productive during the day.

For example, today, I wasn't awake by seven, I didn't read much, I didn't exercise, and I didn't blog yesterday, so for all intents and purposes, I'm down to 0/4. However I was awake by 9, which is still pretty early considering, worked pretty darn hard on several things for Music for Muggles, and worked on something that I still, unfortunately, have to keep secret because it pertains to next year.

So I may have failed the goals, but I succeeded in the day... which makes me wonder whether this project is worthwhile. The point was to keep me from refreshing Tumblr and/or playing The Sims all day or something like either of those. This wasn't one of those days and I don't know that I'll have those days very frequently... and most of the time I can feel when I need them, and I don't want to have to explain them away.

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm done doing this 30 Days of Blogging project because my heart's not in it and I don't really need it. I could be doing so many other things with the 20 minutes or so it usually takes me to write. I have so many projects I want to do and I don't want to have to give up on some of them just because 30 days ago I decided that such-and-such was more important. So I'm not going to. I'm just going to do what I want to. After all, it is my last summer before being an adult... I should be doing what I want.

So thanks for your support and I look forward to hearing from you guys in the comments on my videos ^_^

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 DoB 18: Yeah.

So if you haven't noticed, I have had increasingly less to talk about in my blogs. Something has happened this week to where I've just kind of snowballed out of control in laziness... I've gone from really getting stuff done, especially in terms of reading, to getting virtually nothing done. As usual, it seems to be related to my sleep habits, but I don't know what is changing them. I accurately predicted yesterday that I would not get sleep, and lo and behold! I did not. I was in bed, sure, at about 11:45, but I did not get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. This made my wake-up this morning rough, which made my day go by much faster than expected because I had no morning of which to make use.

I have also had more IRL contact, which is both a good and a bad thing. I need some semblance of a schedule in order to get the proper amount of sleep in order to get the proper amount of stuff done--I'm no workaholic, but something about such an imbalance really does a number on me. Perhaps everyone needs that system in order to stay productive in a healthy way, which is why I seem to churn out more work than a lot of people expect. However, because my friends do not operate on the schedule as I and because it would be not only ludicrous but downright rude to expect them to do so, I have to sacrifice it if I want to hang out with them, and obviously that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make. (Side note: I wrote that whole passage with Tom Baker's voice narrating it in my head. Can you tell what I've been doing?)

Anyway, basically what I'm saying is that there are excuses and what I need to do to break the cycle is be aware of them, but also just suck it up and deal with it. Those of you who read last year know it is near impossible for me to re-start late in the day if I did not get a good morning in; I shall do the best I can tonight (Good lord, Tom Baker. Get out of my head!) but will give myself the signals for my wake-up tomorrow to set things straight.

At least I have perseverance :/
Sleeping: O
Blogging: X
Reading: O
Exercise: AOOO

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

30 DoB 17: DONE!

So... today I finished the last official class meeting of my undergraduate career.

What did I do with my free time?

Well, I only ate at Mother Bear's (a celebratory necessity), went to Lauren's BlogTV show, made a video, and then watched So You Think You Can Dance for the first time ever because my roommate's girlfriend came by because she was near campus and we were the only place with a TV. I was intrigued, to say the least.

But now all is done and I should probably head to bed, but I don't find myself really wanting to. I have a lot on my mind, mostly involving things that I shouldn't really think about until tomorrow or Friday because there's nothing I can do about it now. Oh, summer insomnia!
Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Reading: O
Exercise: O

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

30 DoB 16: Full Day

Bleargh. I'm so tired. There are many reasons for that and right now I just feel like recounting them instead of saying something useful, and I wield the power to do so! So there! (I love you all)

I woke up rather early this morning because I wanted to see my students whom I taught in the Spring semester. It was their second-to-last day of school and I missed the day I was supposed to be there last week (a long story with many different sides that don't really matter.) So I woke up at my normal time for going to that school, which was about 5:30 AM. I went there and sat with my students; there was nothing really interesting going on, but that was exactly how I liked it. We just talked about what they were doing next year and what I was doing next year, and it was a nice, relaxed time.

When I arrived back home, it was about 11:00 and I finally got to catch up on Tumblr--speaking of which, allow me to reiterate that the Stay Focused application for Google Chrome is fantastic!--and ate some lunch and went to my class.

After class, time kind of disappeared. We all decided to capitalize on a local bar's $2 Tuesdays; I got dinner and two drinks, and ended up sticking around until about 6:00 PM, which was much longer than I expected to stay. But it was worth it to hang out for what could possibly be the last time with my classmates, who on Friday will all begin dispersing themselves around the country.

When I returned home, I got to have a wonderful long chat with Will (WillsOdyssey) with whom I have not spoken in ages, which is a real shame. I love my YouTube friends and it is lovely when I get to catch up with them, especially when it involves many of us at rather pivotal points in our lives when we get to make big, impactful decisions. I got to catch him up on several such decisions I have made and to talk about VidCon and the Bath gathering and mutual friends and possibly-to-become friends and such. It was really nice.

Anyway, it's been a long day and I'm just exhausted and not at all ashamed that most of my goals have not been met because I feel fulfilled and that's that. See you all tomorrow!
Sleeping: X
Blogging: X
Reading: O
Exercise: AOOO

Monday, June 6, 2011

30 DoB 15: Reconciling "High" and "Pop" Art?

I did so. much. reading. today. I don't think I bit off more than I can chew in reading The Fountainhead but man, that book is long. I read about 150 pages today and should probably read about 50 more before going to bed... and then maybe I'll have made a dent in the book.

I'm definitely enjoying it, though! It presents some really interesting ideas using the contrasting practices of two architects - one who kind of manipulates his way through life and gives exactly what people want, the other who has almost no emotion at all, but builds perfect buildings, but no one likes them. And when the latter corrects the work of the former, everyone calls it a masterpiece. Of course, that's only Part I of I think five parts? Not sure. I've got some way to go.

But it does present some interesting ideas about art and I found a lot of strange parallels with the time period in music. It takes place in the late 20s, around the time Schoenberg had fully developed his 12-tone technique and was teaching it to Berg and Webern, if I'm not mistaken. That was music that was taking Roark's (the second architect's) approach: music very aware of its past and continuing it, but music which was made only for the 20th century and which didn't mash together bits of previous music that people found "pretty" just because the public thought it was pretty.

Unfortunately for music, Schoenberg became associated not only with intentionally ugly music (he called it "the emancipation of the dissonance"), but with the Nazis being opposed to it, which meant that his music came to represent the music of the Free World and anyone who didn't write in his style was a Communist. At the same time, the music which was approved by the Nazis and later the Soviets is what people wanted to hear--Orff, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, to name a few. As a result, people couldn't stand what they were allowed to hear and weren't allowed to hear what they could stand.

Sure, there were some exceptions, mostly in America (Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein), but even they were ostracized by their peers who preferred industrial-sounding, experimental music by composers most of the public hasn't heard of--Cowell, Boulez, and Ruth Crawford Seeger, for example. What's curious to me is how many of them actually were Communists, regardless. Copland, for example, when he started writing very "American" music was supposedly writing it as "music for the people."

To put it in short terms, this time period was pretty much the breaking point when "high art" got put on a little too high of a pedestal, to the point where the average passerby would only have seen the column and not been willing to climb to see the beauty on top. The process had been in place for about 100 years, but I would say that this is the time when people really stopped caring and instead turned to pop art that "cultured" people have been trained to turn their noses up at. And for me, personally, the most devastating part of it all is that I still deeply love high art, but I also deeply love "the people," and reconciling the two has been an incredibly difficult process that I daresay I will never complete.
Sleeping: X
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Exercise: OOUF (I don't know that I mentioned it, but yesterday was the first day I actually recorded on my numberless calendar; I'm also working on a good routine for the first two categories.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

30 DoB 14: Brothers and Like-Brothers and Brother-Like

Okay okay okay so I know some of you out there are keeping count and will note that it's after my bedtime. To you I say, the IRL exception is in full swing. My cousin Jeremy just got back in town and I can't not hang out with him. I haven't seen him in weeks! He's a cool singer a year behind me in the music school and we were roommates last year but he moved in with his other roommate from the year before. I miss having him around all the time.

Anyway, we chatted on skype with his parents a bit before watching the first, like, half hour of The Tenth Kingdom which is a really bad 6 1/2-hour-long movie. We couldn't bear to watch very much of it. We chilled out a little bit and talked about how we realized how obvious it was that our dads are brothers, and then on the way out the door just a bit ago we did the same hand gesture simultaneously when talking about a joy ride from his place to my place. We were like "and we're definitely related too."

Rewind a bit and some of you may remember a conversation on Tumblr between me, Rohan, Ryan, and my brother Tim about how Tim is my brother and how Ryan loves our interaction on Tumblr. I mentioned this to Jeremy and we talked about how growing up, we hated our brothers and they hated us. It's a lot of fighting and rivalry and stuff, and all the old fogies (particularly our fathers) would say stuff like "You hate them now, but once you guys grow up you'll come to see how much you like each other." It's so true!

I remember coming home from various breaks at college as my brother started maturing and realizing how mature he had become. I remember being completely shocked when he made a well-researched and well-defended point in a dinner conversation and being shocked that he wasn't a little kid anymore. I admit to getting a little jealous one of the last times I was home because he and Dad started discussing some really complex physics things that I can't even begin to recall except that it involved several ways to keep ice cream nice and soft in the freezer. I couldn't help thinking to myself "No! I'm supposed to be having the intellectual discussion with Dad and you're supposed to be playing video games like the kid you are!" Well, he's not a kid anymore. But I've realized more and more that he's just an awesome dude about to go into his second year of college. And I love that I get to talk to him through tumblr and text messaging because even though I'm like 1500 miles away, it doesn't feel like quite as much.

Plus, I have to stay on his good side because he's probably going to be the one with money in the family ;)

I guess what I mean to say is that there's that adage that says "It takes a village to raise a child," and if you take my huge family as the village, I'd concur. They're all awesome and I'm very glad to be a part of it! I should show them more in videos. I'm sure at least some of them would be willing to partake.
Sleeping: ? (another midmorning nap. I don't know if those count.)
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Exercise: R (Rest Day)

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Doctor Who. I'm sorry. I won't say anything. But really. Moffat! Agh. Ugh. Asldkfjhs.

Okay. Moving on.

Fun story! My "wake up early" theory seems to be incredibly accurate. I actually woke up completely on my own at 6AM today, way before my alarm was set. I think I'm going to stick to this schedule because it felt so good to have some early-morning reading when the sun is in just the right place by the window. Oh yeah, life is good.

I finished Mr. Toppit today. It was okay. It had some fun characters. I did find myself strangely connected to them, so that was a plus. It was kind of a hot mess of a dysfunctional family story, and I don't know that the title was really appropriately chosen, but hey. What can you do?

I've started reading The Fountainhead now. It's actually a surprisingly engaging book. I was initially daunted by how long it is, and I'm only 50 pages in so I have a long while to go, but I have time. It's the summer. I should probably get all the long books out of the way while I can!

Anyway. Ay. I'm gonna go to sleep and ponder over the majesty that is Steven Moffat. Oh, you!
Sleeping: X
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Exercise: OBLF

Friday, June 3, 2011

30 DoB 12: Story Time!

Just a quick update on yesterday before going on into today's activity: contrary to my expectations, I actually finished The Fellowship of the Ring yesterday. Today, I re-started Mr. Toppit and expect to be through it tomorrow--I'm already just past halfway done, and I have plenty of time left to read. Tomorrow I hope to make a video. I've been wanting to make one for a while, I just haven't really known what I wanted to talk about, so I think I might just do it tomorrow and see what happens. As for waking up, I tried something really daring this morning and woke up earlier than usual and it was much, much easier, actually. I suppose I just picked a strange time of the morning as far as my biological clock goes to wake up, so if I wake up earlier, I'm fine. Of course, that does mean I'll have to go to sleep earlier, but I've kind of been wanting to do that anyway. My body just doesn't work on the normal college student's schedule, I suppose. Anyway! On with the story.

THE TALE OF _________
Once upon a time in a far away land lived a species of animal called the Zarkski. The Zarkski were an unusual species which had a triangular head with bulbous puppy eyes in the upper corners, a stout orange beak, long, spiny arms and short, stumpy legs, each ended with a narrow claw for burrowing. They had a plume of spines on their backs and shiny, pitch-black fur covering every square inch of their bodies. They had such a strange collection of features that the first full remains discovered by human scientists were affectionately referred to as "Henry the Praying Puffin-Hedgehog-Mantis." Believe it or not, the Zarkski were the first sentient beings in the solar system, though their society had long fallen into oblivion by the time any other sentient beings had been around to notice. They had a vast system of underground tunnels and actually developed the fastest route from one side of the world to the other by cutting through it rather than across its surface.

In the Middle Age of the Zarkski, there was a Zarkskino named Simon, a favored youth in his burrowpolis for his supreme athletic skill. He was so adept at clay-burrowing that when Mayor Ricardo signed the bill which would add 3 miles to the Western Burgh, Simon was the first he called on.

Simon began work immediately and burrowed for three days straight, already nearly 30 yards into the project, when suddenly he felt his claw catch on something. He knew he was too deep to be finding iron ore, but it felt very similar, according to his refined senses. He dug around the obstacle and discovered, much to his surprise, the largest trove of unicorn chocolate he had ever seen. He knew this would be big news, but did not know who to tell, as he remembered the Great Unicorn Chocolate Rush of 552 from his Zarkski history books and was not tempted to repeat such a tragedy. After some deliberation, Simon ran to his childhood friend Yaneli's house to ask for her input.

"Unicorn chocolate?" she asked doubtfully.

"At least two quaxios of it!" Simon insisted.

"This is big," Yaneli said. "Maybe we should talk to Isabel?"

"She's the biggest loudbeak in town!"

"I suppose you're right."

"Yaneli, do you know what this means? I could have all the towels in the world if I sold it."

"I do know how much you like those towels," Yaneli admitted. Suddenly, she snapped her fingers as if she had had an epiphany. "Let's talk to Elder Juan! He's always been the voice of reason."

Simon jumped out of his seat. "You're right! Make sure you bring one of your famous bowls of chicken soup so that we have something to thank him with."

"How nestroculous of you," Yaneli said, clearly impressed with his courtesy. She grabbed a bowl from the shelf and they were on their way.

When the two arrived at Elder Juan's burrow, they tapped their claws on the oksdig, a device with similar function to a doorbell (as there were no doors.) Elder Juan came to the entrance of the tunnel and greeted them kindly.

"And what brings you here?" he asked, shaking their hands.

"I have a bit of a dilemma," Simon said.

"Oh? Please, come in, sit down!"

"We brought chicken noodle soup for you," Yaneli added as she stepped inside. His burrow was always so tidy and impeccably decorated that it almost felt like they would soil the whole place just by looking at it.

"What seems to be the problem?" Elder Juan asked kindly, bringing bowls for the soup.

"Well, I was digging the tunnel for the new addition the other day," Simon began," when I came across a rather unexpected obstacle."


"Yes... quite."

"Do tell!"

"Well, I was digging, and I felt something that was like iron ore, but I knew it wasn't..."


"Well... itwastwoquaxiosofunicornchocolate."

Elder Juan spat out a mouthful of soup. "Two quaxios of unicorn chocolate?"

"Two quaxios."

"That's unexpected indeed! And think of what that can do for our town!"

"Well, that was my dilemma," Simon said. "I wonder if I came out of the tunnel with two quaxios of unicorn chocolate, wouldn't everyone in town want to start digging hoping they would strike big?"

"Absolutely!" Elder Juan said. "Who wouldn't?"

"Well," said Simon, "What about the Great Unicorn Chocolate Rush of 552?"

"I see why you may be nervous," Elder Juan admitted. "But surely you don't remember the Rush of 573?"

"No, I suppose I don't," said Simon sheepishly, ashamed of the apparent lapse in his knowledge.

"That's because there wasn't one," said Elder Juan, laughing. "But Elder Ricardo did find unicorn chocolate in 573. Five quaxios of it, I'd say."

"Five? How did they avoid a rush?"

"Simple. The Mayor declared that only Elder Ricardo had the right to dig there, and that any treasure he found was his to do with as he pleased."

"But then wouldn't there have been people at his door begging for money?"

"Well, of course! You could hardly expect any less."

"I don't want anyone coming to me begging for money. If I can't pay everyone, then I shan't pay anyone!"

"Then it seems you've made your decision."

Simon was shocked in how quickly he had come to realize what he had to do.

He immediately reported the find to the mayor, who again declared that it was only Simon's right to dig there. Simon went on to find two hundred fifty-three quaxios of unicorn chocolate, all of which he donated to the City, and which was sold at an auction. Because of the auction's success, the city was able to fund an entirely new athletic complex for the school in Simon's honor with top-of-the-line equipment and a full-time staff which also ran several other youth programs, thus reducing crime in the burrowpolis for years after the discovery.

Well, I suppose it was slightly inaccurate to say Simon donated them all. He kept the first two quaxios for his own and traded them for a top hat so that he could fulfill his dream of performing a Fred Astaire hommage, jazz hands and all.

And they all lived happily ever after.
Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Exercise: OOUF

Thursday, June 2, 2011

30 DoB 11: A Post I Didn't Expect to Turn Into a Thank-You

So I gotta be honest, I knew I was biting off more than I could chew when I made today the day I was going to write a story. Which means I'm not. Ha. I control this blog and there's nothing you can do about it!

On the upside, I only have about 20 pages left in The Fellowship of the Ring and the night is yet young.

I have still been having trouble sleeping though. Any suggestions? I think what I'm going to try for tonight is to just get in bed like crazy early and if I fall asleep, yay, and if not, I'll just read a bunch of my next book.

On the upside, I got suddenly inspired about the background of a story that I've been kind of letting spin in my head and I just may start writing it. I'm glad that I have found the resources and inspiration to pull off projects like this.

We were just talking the other day in my post-student-teaching seminar about learning as much information as we can about every subject, but also specifically about the arts. I didn't realize how "duh" of a fact this has been for me for forever... but I really think I have YouTube to thank for that. I've been expected to stretch my creative output past just reading and performing music. I've always written music, but even that is strange for lots of classical musicians. I just don't get it.

But now I've learned a bit about graphic design, animation, video making, photography, acting, and also lots about world cultures and stuff. YouTube basically came for me when I needed it most. I know I've said it in videos before, but if it weren't for YouTube, I think I would be pining for all this creative output and wouldn't know I was. I would think "I should just go practice more." I'm so glad I didn't fall into that kind of rut.

I could go on for years about this and I don't know what it would really add... basically all I want to say is thank you to everyone who inspires me and who helps me learn more about the arts, the world, and most importantly, myself. If it weren't for you guys, my life would not be so fulfilling.
Sleep: O (I really want to get this in order.)
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Exercise: O (I'm so sore....)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30 DoB 10: Midweek Re-Evaluation

Looking back on the last few days, they have not really been that successful in terms of this project. Some of that has been because I have been focusing on other things which I have been trying not to mention in my blogs because they involve planning for next year, which is getting more solid but isn't announcement-ready yet. A lot of it has been because I haven't been sleeping well, and if I know anything about myself, it's that a tired Steve is an un-motivated Steve. But I have been (mostly) sticking to my bed-time and all of those infractions haven't been because of intentionally staying up late--they have been because of not waking up on time. Why do I have so much trouble getting to sleep and waking up?

I think I've found the solution.

It's inactivity. I went from walking an average of two or three miles a day, five days a week, to walking perhaps a quarter of a mile a day, four days a week, spending the rest of my time sitting around rather than standing and teaching. This change surely threw my body for a loop. And judging by today, it certainly did.

I decided that I would turn my inactivity around by re-instating last year's exercise regimen because it seemed to work really well, and I never really finished the 100 push-up challenge. I got even closer than I ever have, by getting to week 5, which is really frustrating because there are only six weeks. But you know what they say, fourth time is a get-it-over-with-already-you-lazy-piece-of-weakness. That is what they say, right?

So I re-took the push-up and squat test and did a basic crunch test. I was impressed with how much my body retains strength-wise, actually. When I last took the push-up test, I believe I got somewhere around 39 push-ups, and this time I got 24. That's much better than my last initial test, which was 17, which was better than the time before that, which was somewhere around 5, I believe.

What I found funny was that when I went through my stretch routine today, I felt my body get really excited. I don't know that that's ever happened for exercise. I started with the leg stretch, and I just felt every cell in my body start screaming "Aww, hell yeah! We gonna get blasted!" (Apparently, my body is a 'bro when I leave it to its own devices.)

But yeah, after doing that, I feel adequately sleepy, so I think it may have done the trick. I'm gonna celebrate with a brewski and some Doctor Who and then hit the sack extra-early tonight in the hopes that tomorrow becomes the productive day I need after the last few days. My biggest goal for tomorrow is to finish The Fellowship of the Ring, which will take some work because I think I have about 250 pages left. It'll be a stretch, and I don't expect to succeed, but if I do, I will be completely ready for many more books to come and can hopefully start churning through them the way I want to.

I feel like I need to do something to get you guys involved, too. Anybody want to do the hundred push-up challenge with me? I'm thinking I could start a facebook group and like message everybody every day I do it to remind them and then like include everybody's stats or something as I get them. Or give you guys accountability partners or something. I mean, if you want to do the challenge. But I'd also like to get you guys involved in the blogs so that this isn't just me talking.

I've got an idea. Tomorrow, I'll write a short story. A really short one, don't worry, but a story. What I want you guys to do is to copy-and-paste the following into your comment and provide an example of each category you want to after the colon.

A word you made up:
A boy's name:
A girl's name:
An action you can do with your body:
A desirable item:
A substance:

So, for example, if you can only think of a few, you might comment with:

A word you made up: balufatrix
A boy's name:
A girl's name:
An action you can do with your body: wiggle
A desirable item:
A substance: poop

So yeah. Leave a comment with that and we'll see how it goes.
Sleeping: O
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: O
Exercise: OBULF (just a refresher: the code is A for Aerobic, B for Abs, U for Upper Body, L for Lower Body, and F for Flexibility)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30 DoB 9: Steve Takes a Risk

So I'm sure all of you know this by now... but I'm kind of a musician. Kind of, like, dedicated my entire life and my career to music and it's all I really think about, at the end of the day. I have YouTube videos trying to share my love of music with other people and to make my favorite kind of music (Western Art Music) more accessible to people who think that it's only for high-class people... because let's face it, at the time of its creation, Western Art music was about as middle-class as was possible. If you exclude the Baroque Era. Please exclude the Baroque Era. From everything. Including history. It's like the 80s... there was nothing really good happening while it happened, but it laid the groundwork for some really awesome things. (Now I know I'll get some backlash for that, but I mean, the only good thing that happened in the 80s, in my experience, was my birth.)

In any case, in my post-student-teaching seminar, we were each assigned a chapter of our textbook to summarize and present to the class, and we also had to choose one or two points from the chapter to really delve into and write a 6-to-8-page paper on, incorporating the textbook and some of our own research and personal experience. The chapter I was assigned was on the Teacher as a Musician, which basically argued that we have to be as knowledgeable as we can on what we are teaching and that we need to continually practice music in our lives so as to lead our students by example.

The point upon which I chose to write my paper was the section of the chapter on Tradition and how Tradition influences our decisions as music educators. Tradition is made up of cultural beliefs, practices, religions, etc., which turn into musical philosophies, which turn into musical practice. I'm summarizing the section heavily, but if you're interested, you should read The Art of Teaching Music by Estelle Jorgensen. Now, this is something I'm very passionate about, because I love learning about world cultures and history, and I love it most when these things pertain to music. I love, for example, knowing about Mahler and Wagner and how their music influenced Schoenberg, and his music isn't for everyone, but having learned about it, I've definitely learned to appreciate it. I love knowing about how improvisation is encouraged in Cherokee music because of how composition is essentially prohibited by their religion. I just love knowing things like that and I love teaching them.

So I guess it seems pretty strange that, having been brought up in a traditional American Wind Band form of musical education, I would essentially write a paper that argues that we should slowly phase out the American Wind Band. Well, I wouldn't argue that we should get rid of it, but I would certainly argue that we make it only a small portion of the music that we teach. Perhaps one period a day, with other periods teaching other forms of music. But I digress.

Basically, what I'm saying is, we're perpetuating an ensemble that hasn't been popular outside of the school setting for nearly 100 years, and even then, it had a specific place in society. When bands were first established in schools, administrators hated them because they were so fun, and all the kids wanted to be in them because they wanted to be just like the Sousa band. Nowadays, if you ask high schoolers who John Philip Sousa was, they won't even know. They'll probably guess he invented the washing machine or something. He didn't. It's uncertain who did, but it definitely wasn't him. But basically, band stuck around in schools because after five or ten years, it was no longer "cool" because jazz bands were all the rage, and therefore it was no longer "fun," and therefore it qualified adequately as "work" for school. And somehow this has become the main way we teach music in the United States. This is what has become the stereotype of a musician in school. The "band geek."

Why is it that "only nerds join band"? Because we're teaching music that doesn't really make sense to learn. Nerds like obscure, high-class, complex, esoteric things. I should know. I am one. What we need to do, if we really want to reach everyone, though, is to teach them how to be good craftsmen of the music they see an application for. That is what music education in the US was about, at least, for the first 250-or-so years of its existence. We taught children church tunes because that was the largest cultural institution of music at the time. We taught our daughters how to play piano because that would make them good entertainers, because people used to get together and sing. For fun. Strange, right? Why don't we do that more? But that's another post for another day. Anyway, when school band started, it had that kind of practical benefit--people wanted good bands for their town because that is how you celebrated things. But suddenly, it froze. Completely froze in time, and hasn't really changed for 80 years. Sure, jazz bands were introduced to school programs; after headaches, protests, covert jazz band operations, and such, we got Glenn-Miller-like big bands, but that was nearly 30 years after even that ensemble was obsolete. It qualified for "classical" status as far as we were concerned. Basically, it was boring enough for school.

So why do we do this? I just don't get it. I guess I'm feeling disillusioned with the classical music scene as a whole because it's just not very American, and I'm stuck in America. I want people to like classical music. I love talking to people about it. But I don't know that it's the only music we should be teaching our children. There's so much more out there to teach. To me, it's like telling our children that the only literature we'll read is Shakespeare, Dickens, Frost, and Orwell--Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. There's so much more out there and these kids need to be exposed to it. They won't find it on their own.

Sorry. I get really worked up. People say they can't imagine me ranting. This is the kind of thing I rant about. Things that are important. I couldn't ever get this worked up over Snooki. What does she matter to me? I didn't even know who she was until Hank made that video about running into her at the airport.

Anyway, I know this wasn't organized and I'm not going to go back and look because that would both get me all worked up again and make me stay up really late trying to clarify. I would just post my paper, but the great thing about this story is that my professor said that she thought it was wonderful and that I should submit it for publication in the national journal for music education, so I probably shouldn't also post it here. We'll see how that goes.

So I'm off to bed. It's taken me half an hour to write this. Holy wow. I should probably not have said so much. Good night!
Sleep: O (I just could not sleep last night. It's okay though. I still have cold medicine. I think that was the problem.)
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: O

Monday, May 30, 2011

30 DoB 8: If I Had A Million Dollars...

So today I went clothes shopping to take advantage of the Memorial Day sales. My clothes are kind of starting to show signs of age and I've been wanting to get new jeans especially... the ones I bought for my last round are starting to get holes in places I don't want holes to be, so it was definitely worth it. Anyway, I first went to one store I used to go to for clothes all the time--and by "used to" I mean I went there several times when I last bought a bunch of new clothes about three years ago--and realized that I didn't want any of the jeans there. There was a sale, yeah, but it wasn't great and the jeans didn't fit the way I liked. Then I went to one store I never thought I would find anything in, and walked out with four awesome pairs of jeans for about $50. I can deal with that.

But at the same time, I caught myself thinking "I don't need four pairs of jeans. Why did I buy four pairs of jeans? I have two that haven't fallen apart yet." Then part of me thought "But they're about to, and you've never really liked the way they fit, and these ones fit so well! And you're not going to find a sale like this before you leave the country. There's no other reason to celebrate by giving extra money off." That much was true. Especially because when I will have the chance, I'll be watching over some high schoolers and probably won't want to leave campus for anything since I won't have to.

So there were opportunity costs. There are things which have been about that high on my list that will now have to be put on the back burner for a while. I have been pretty good about dealing with that in the past, and I think it's a good part of my personality. I think a lot of people are afraid to make choices because they don't want to face what-ifs, but the way I look at it, I make choices and move forward and try to make the most of what I have.

That sounded much more profound in my head, but looking at it in print, it just sounds normal. Maybe that's just because I've read the words and understood them intellectually, but now I understand them more spiritually.

Anyway, sometimes I play an imagination game before or after making choices in which I pretend I don't have to make choices and I can have my proverbial cake and eat it too. It's the only time I deal with what-ifs, really, and it helps me settle the issue pretty quickly and kind of kiss all the other possibilities good-bye, or at least good-bye-for-now.

So today, I played "If I Had a Million Dollars." I thought about all the things I would buy if money were not an option, and it was kind of funny the way things occurred to me. I mean, simply because of today, of course, I thought about how I would always buy fun t-shirts and be sure to stay on top of TeeFury, and I would buy really stylish button-down shirts and always have ties to match them, and really comfy slacks with shoes that match them perfectly. Then I thought about all the music I want to buy and how I'd like to stock up on neo-folk music, but also dance tunes, but also have both the Karajan and Bernstein collections of Mahler Symphonies, and all the Sibelius symphonies, and a nice music recording software with really good equipment and a nice guitar to go with it and a good ukulele while I'm at it, and the best freaking camera with the best freaking external microphone so that I can have the highest production value on my vlogs, and a library full of classic books I'd read from my classy red leather chair, only rivaled by my library of musical scores I'd always follow along with, and I'd do all this in a classy terraced house right on the most trendy street in Edinburgh. Actually, I don't know if it's trendy, but that row of townhomes that JK Rowling lived in before getting famous is like exactly where I want to live, and not just because she was there.

But then when I listed all of these things in my head, I realized that these are all just indications of what I care about. It doesn't mean I need to fulfill all of those desires. It just means that I should value the things I have that I want to improve, and thank them for being a step up from what I could have, or did have. I also realized that frankly, I kind of like not having all of those things. I like how special it feels to be able to read from a score while I can steal a moment or two with it in the music library. I like having a janky, on-the-edge-of-death camera that I don't really have to worry about dropping. I enjoy that I have goals I can reach for, because I know that if I ever once feel like I've achieved the peak of something, I will be somehow disillusioned and be searching for more, but not ever be able to find it. I like having things that I could be coveting, because in deciding that I can't have them, I reaffirm that what I have is precisely what I need.
Sleep: X! I DID IT!
Blogging: X! I did this too!
Homework: XX! I did that bad boy ta-wice!
Reading: O ... O ... O yeah. Oops.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

30 DoB 7: The Almost People

I'm going to put my self-improvement stuff first today because the rest of the post will be about the new Doctor Who episode, and I don't want to spoil it for readers who haven't seen it yet, and I also don't want to bore readers who don't watch Doctor Who but who may be interested in how I'm going.

As of yet, I am still feeling sick, and I also realized that if I want to get through most of the books I want to read before leaving the country, I had better start reading one approximately every 3-4 days. Therefore, I am not adding a goal, but instead adding greater emphasis on reading--which I accomplished today, of course. I read about 100 pages of Lord of the Rings, which of course means that if I want to finish it within that window, I need to read about 300 more pages by two days ago, but I figure it will balance out when I read less dense literature.

Anyway! On to the tallies:
Sleep: O
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Homework: O (as of yet. I'll do a few minutes after finishing this post.)


Okay, let's get real, Mr. Moffat. You have some 'splainin' to do. If Amy has been seeing the eye-patch lady this whole season, then she presumably has been a gänger this whole season, and therefore how did she become a gänger without anyone knowing? And why did the Doctor need to experiment on how people would react to the gängers if he already knew that people could fully accept such a gänger and it could also accept itself? And furthermore, was the gänger Doctor in fact a Time Lord? If so, would this not create some huge rift in the universe? Isn't there something about "every cell of a Time Lord is a miracle and if even one gets into the wrong hands it would be catastrophic"? I saw no catastrophic events happening as a result of the Time Lord being copied cell-for-cell. In fact, I think it was ended a little too easily. Do you have something up your sleeve? I don't think you would go back on such a pivotal statement so easily, so I think you've got some tricks left for us in that regard.

However, this does explain why the pregnancy scan was all weird. Real Amy was pregnant--very pregnant--but Gänger Amy was not, but the sensor could probably tell the amount of Real Amy in Gänger Amy and got all confused because of that. Man. This show is so interconnected and I love it so.

My head is just kind of swimming right now and I don't really have any supposed answers. Do you guys have any thoughts on the matter?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

30 DoB 6: Can't Drive?

So the other day I mentioned in brief that I can't drive, and I got one or two questions about it. I guess it's something that I don't talk much about on my channel. It doesn't really affect my life much except that I walk everywhere, but those of you who regularly watch my videos know that I have come to really love walking, so it's not even a big deal.

In any case, I have an eye condition that has yet to be actually diagnosed; the symptoms are described as monocular binocular diplopia, which literally means that I have double vision caused by the way my individual eyes are built (I see double when I close one eye) and by the way they work together (I see double with both eyes open). What this amounts to is seeing four images instead of one, all day, every day. A lot of people think this is the kind of thing that can break someone, but I guess I've never really given much thought to it. My brain is really good about convincing me that I only see one of something, so unless I consciously think about the fact that I see four of everything (as I am when writing this post) I hardly notice; after all, it's the way I have seen everything for pretty much my whole life.

In any case, I've actually got an eye appointment in late July with an eye doctor who thinks he knows what the problem could be, which is promising. Most doctors just go through a bunch of tests for me and say "I don't know! What a conundrum," and pass me off to one of their colleagues who runs many of the same tests. It has literally gotten to the point where I go into the eye doctors and say "I don't need to be dilated. You won't find anything new. Just give me a new prescription." It's a little defeatist, but like I said, I really don't mind how it has affected me and I know what the basic tests will come up with. Back on topic, though, this doctor says he can think of a few possibilities that he doesn't think I've been tested for, and says that it's probably something that started in my childhood (imagine that! I could have told someone as much.)

But sarcasm aside, it would be nice to be able to get the problem fixed. It probably means surgery, but hey, I can rock an eye patch for a few days/weeks if it means I'll finally be able to have depth perception.

Sleep: O (gosh darn cold! I was in bed early but drifted in and out of sleep until about 11 AM.)
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: X

Friday, May 27, 2011

30 DoB 5: Productivity!

So I'm still questioning whether I actually have a cold or whether it's just allergies acting up. I'm pretty sure it's a cold, but it keeps refusing to turn completely into a cold and instead has me sitting on the edge, wondering what exactly it wants to do and what I should do in preparation.

However, it did cause me to miss my sleep goal for the day because I decided that if I truly am sick it would be better to get all the sleep I can. As a result, I slept until about 11:00 this morning, which I guess means I've got to be sick because I never sleep for nearly 12 hours unless I'm sick or sleep-deprived, and I'm pretty sure the latter isn't true. This is also reinforced by the fact that I'm pretty sleepy now, and I shouldn't be sleepy after having slept that long and only being awake for 8 hours. I guess that settles it. I'm sick.

But I hate whining and I'll stop now, because as they say, every cloud has a silver lining! After waking up, I had a good amount of energy for several hours, so I put myself to work. I did laundry and cleaned my room (finally) so now I'm much more ready to start the packing that I need to do in order to move out this summer. It's weird to think about moving out, but nonetheless it's going to happen.

I did get to go through some old papers that I'm not exactly sure would have stuck around this long if I had known they existed. I was wondering if anyone else has fought this being a pack rat--I used to be a hardcore pack rat, and by "used to," I mean that I was until my first real move from Virginia to Tennessee. I had to get rid of a lot that summer in order to make moving easier, and I realized I was keeping a lot of stupid stuff I didn't care about. Nowadays, I keep classwork and stuff just in case I need to contest a grade, and then usually throw it out afterward unless it's something I'm particularly proud of, like a good paper or composition or something.

Anyway, some of this stuff was some boring assignments from freshman year that had managed to be put somewhere until I was going to throw them out after the semester, but then they just stayed there and I never looked at them again. I got pretty liberal with throwing stuff out today, and there's always that voice in the back of my head saying "You never know if you'll need this!" but then the voice in the front of my head says "You haven't needed it yet, and if it turns out you do need this, you can still do x, y, and z to recover it."

Basically, my room is crazy clean and I like it that way and as the years progress I get better and better at staying organized and neat and that is a very good thing.

What do you guys do when you need to clean your rooms?
Sleep: O
Blogging: X
Homework: O (about to start)
Reading: O (after homework)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

30 DoB4: Nostalgia

So I'm going to be done with college in two weeks. It's a weird thought. Just to clarify, I know I said in a video that I graduated three weeks ago--I have to take a 5-week-long post-student-teaching seminar and after that I will have my degree. They just let me go through the ceremony because I was close enough to being done, and every other music education major in the school would have to miss out on graduation as well, and I mean, let's face it, the music school was tiny in comparison to all of the other schools at graduation (except social work) and we needed that representation.

Anyway, one of the things that goes along with graduation is suddenly getting in touch with people you haven't talked to in forever because you feel like reminiscing and talking about the future, and it's a weird, weird thing. This is compounded by the fact that I went to two different elementary schools, two different high schools, and now also have friends on the internet, and many of these people are graduating or have graduated.

The one thing that I've learned is that everybody's future is uncertain, whether it's the music education major who can't decide between a job offer in Idaho and North Dakota or the management major interning with a cable company for the summer. It definitely makes me feel a lot better in that I have one really secure option and one awesome-but-not-so-secure option, but options nonetheless. And of course I'm bursting at the seams to tell the internet in general... but all I can say is that I will for 90% certain be working in a different country starting sometime around August.

The weirder thing about this whole graduating thing is that I have friends who are getting married. The even weirder thing is that there are some who are people I graduated high school with but would never have put together. It was really fun finding that one out through the facebook recommended feature. I just remember looking at my recommended friends and seeing one girl with a really distinctive last name and thinking, "I know a guy with that name... she certainly can't be his sister... and she looks a lot like a girl with the same first nameOHGRACIOUSTHATISHERANDITSNOWHERMAIDENNAME!"

What's also upsetting for me is that I have a really close group of IRL friends here at school, and out of them, I am the only one who will not be here next year; one is staying on for his master's, and the others are all juniors, so they get to hang out every weekend without me. I don't know that I will be jealous, but I'll definitely miss them all dearly.

I think the biggest sign that this is a good thing, though, is that after all this, most of the thoughts running through my head are how wonderful next year will be and how great it will be to experience new cultures and to live on my own and to really take the reins of my own life. And I guess that's what means I'm officially a grown-up.

As for my goals, I think I'm coming down with a cold, and it's making me very tired, so I slept a little extra this morning, but I don't know that I would count it as an O because it was really just drifting in and out of sleep from 7 AM to 9 AM. I'll leave it as a ? for now.

Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: X

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

30 DoB 3: Tornado? Eh? Eh?

So I don't have much to say today. We're just sitting here in my living room waiting to find out if any tornado warnings are going to come to fruition today. We've had four in the last three hours. It's starting to feel like the boy who cried wolf.

On the upside, I'm rereading Lord of the Rings and it's just as good as I remember it. I'll have to read pretty fast to get back on schedule with my Goodreads challenge... but I'll have plenty of time in upcoming weeks.

So this post is pretty short. What's happening with you folks?

Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Reading: X
Homework: X

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

30 DoB 2: The Storm

So I've been writing a paper for the last few hours, only interspersed with playing my clarinet at a local school's choir performance, and my eyes feel like they're about to be burnt right out of my skull, so I'm going to keep this brief. But man. Yesterday was pretty stinkin' crazy.

So I teach an after-school band program for beginners. It was started because beginning band was cut in the local elementary schools and a wealthy man really wanted to preserve them, so his corporation personally paid all the teachers and bought all the materials necessary, and the students could participate for a very low cost, and if they couldn't afford that, they received needs-based scholarship. Anyway, I've been teaching clarinet for them this semester, but the head honcho (my cooperating teacher for student teaching) was visiting his daughter yesterday, so I was put in charge since I knew best how he would run things.

The band room is set up such that I was the only one facing the only window in the entire room. This was a big plus, for reasons I am about to explain. At about 5:00 (the program ends at 5:15) I saw the sky turn a very interesting shade of green and the trees all bent directly facing the window. This was a huge red flag... anyone from the Midwest can tell you that green skies are a sign of bad things to come. When the time came to release the students, the lights flickered and they all turn and go "Oh no, will the power go out?" and I said "No, of course not! The school has emergency generators."

Boy was I wrong.

Not ten seconds later, the room goes completely pitch black. Fortunately by this point, most of the students were already out being received by parents. When I looked through the band room door, there was dirt, dust, and debris flying straight down the hallway and all of the children looked... bewildered, to put it kindly. The only thing I could do was to trust that the parents would have it under control... as I am incapable of driving, I couldn't offer a ride home or anything.

I rode home with a friend from Hawaii who had never driven in heavy wind, and he was worried about his car being unfit to drive. I assured him that the bigger problem would be the flash floods that seemed to be occurring (way to go, me--always giving confidence), but neither of us expected the havoc it would wreak on the trees. There were trees downed everywhere. There were three in a row, in fact, right in front of my house, which were not cleared until about 3:00 this afternoon, if that tells you about the response they had to get. I felt like I was in the movie Twister with my friend dodging all the fallen trees and barely able to see the road. In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to drive... but we're impulsive college boys so you can't really be surprised.

When I arrived home, the power was out and I didn't know what to do... I couldn't see well enough to read because it was already the evening and the cloud cover was immense, and I couldn't do anything else I would normally do while bored, because those all involve electronics. I ended up calling my mother because we had talked about calling on Skype and it looked like that wasn't going to happen in the near future.

When that call was over, I realized how hungry I was, and how I had nothing to eat because I had only just gone to the grocery store and everything would involve some level of cooking. So I called another friend who said she was starving, and we decided to go out to dinner together. The storm had calmed down significantly, so it was more just inconvenient than dangerous to have to leave the house to get food. I did have to tell her to come up my street the back way to avoid the tree, which was fun.

In any case, when we were driving around, we saw that block after block was out of power and every single restaurant's employees were standing around outside, wondering what to do. This was bad sign number 2. Bad sign number 3 was that even the stoplights, which usually blink during losses of power, were completely off. The only, and I mean only place that we saw in town with power was Taco Bell. Decision made.

Unfortunately, it seemed that many in town had the same idea, and there was a 20-minute wait for orders. Bad news bears. It was fine, though, because it wasn't like we had anywhere to go. We were just starving. So we ate and complained about the stuff that we were incapable of doing (most of which involved coursework we didn't want to do anyway) and ate and went back home, and the power was still out.

So I sat down on my bedroom floor and called Raquel and we talked for a while and I got the grand idea to organize my footlocker while the sun was up. It was like 8:30. I didn't have much time to work, and to make a long story short, it looked like the storm took place inside my room rather than outside my room. I had to give up because of the light, so I just opened all my windows and went to bed.

Unfortunately, my room is still messy because the project I couldn't do yesterday had to be done in its entirety today. I. Don't. Want. To. Clean.

But I only have three minutes until my bedtime so I gotta go!
Sleep: X
Blogging: X
Homework: X
Reading: O (so far...)

Monday, May 23, 2011

30 DoB 1: A Rush of Awesome

Yesterday, I uploaded a video about how I want people to watch my videos. I was uncertain how people would react; I said a lot of things that people don't really address because it feels awkward and they don't know how to say it without coming across as egotistical. I guess I've gotten used to just putting my thoughts out there and so I've learned to repress any kind of hesitation I may have. I was, quite honestly, considering just not uploading it at all for fear of someone leaving a comment saying "You talk about stuff like this too much" or "You shouldn't ask anything of us; we're not a legion of thoughtless followers."

Boy am I glad I uploaded it.

It seemed to resonate with both content creators and viewers. I had great testimonies of people who were glad they do what I said; I had people who said they don't often participate but want to do so more now because of the video; I had people who doubted that I recognized their screennames and who asked whether I did - and I did! I also got a HUGE--and I mean, probably the biggest I've had in a while--influx of subscribers, too, which doesn't matter on the one hand because the numbers themselves are unimportant, but means so much in relation to this video because it means that people agreed and followed through.

I got lovely comments and I'm so glad I currently have the time to reply to them because I would feel terrible to say all that I said and not hold up my end of the bargain.

So, basically, what I'm saying is that I want to keep making videos because of moments like this when I feel validated as a YouTuber. And I think that it also tells me that it's a good choice to stick around - if all it takes is a good comment for me to feel like this work is worth it, I'm going to lead a pretty fulfilled YouTube career, I'd say.

And I guess all that's left to say is thank you guys for being around, for finding me, for sharing bits of your time with me, and for just generally being awesome yourselves. I hope to be able to meet you and thank you all in person because it just means that much to me to have you there for me.


So Day 1 of the project and I've already got a fail. I was doing homework until 11:05, and by doing homework I mean I read my textbook for about half an hour and then got distracted writing stuff for the re-vamped Music for Muggles. Wait, what? Shhh don't tell anyone. It can be our blogging secret. But yeah... Music for Muggles is coming back this summer and hopefully with a vengeance. So watch out for that. Anyway, after I finished "doing homework," I couldn't resist reading all the awesome comments on my video and ended up being on my computer until like 11:50, thus missing my bedtime by over an hour when all was said and done. But I'm still recording the fail on my calendar because I don't want something silly like that to cause me to go into an endless cycle of false starts. So here are my results for today, with a reminder that "sleeping" happened yesterday and "homework" and "reading" are still open for today:

Sleeping: O
Blogging: X
Homework: O
Reading: O

Sunday, May 22, 2011

30 Days of Blogging Returns!

Yesterday I did nothing. And when I mean "I did nothing," I mean I have reached an all-time low of how little I can accomplish. It took me nearly two hours to finally decide to get out of bed after waking up, and once I did, I ate ONE MEAL and played The Sims for about ten hours straight and then realized it was rather late and ate dinner and then sat on my computer some more.

This is not okay with me. It seems that I must re-instate the 30 Days Of projects again. Which I'm okay with.

Those of you who were around last year probably remember how it goes. I will blog for 30 days, and every day I will end the blog with the shorthand name for my projects and put an X if I finished the goal and an O if I did not or if it is not YET done. I will update blogs if that changes later.

My current projects are as follows:

1. Bedtime rule REINSTATED. I shall end all technological endeavors in time to be in bed, asleep by 11:00 PM EST . There will be room for exception if I am with IRL friends, but if that is the case, I shall begin taking precautions around midnight to be in bed, asleep no later than 1:00 AM. However, I shall never wake up later than 7:00 AM.

2. I will blog for 30 days, marking my progress as I go.

3. This will not last 30 days, but I will need to dedicate time (preferably one to two hours) every day to my post-student-teaching seminar class so that I end my college career on a good note. I have three weeks left, so I will not make a numberless calendar for it, but I will make time every day for it.

4. I will read for pleasure every day for at least one hour.


I do not want to load up on projects this early in the game for fear of overwhelming myself, so this is where I will stop and I will re-evaluate my progress and projects in one weeks' time. I think Sunday is a good day for evaluating and adding projects.

This will be a good 30 days.


Today's records will not count because I started the project today, but for those of you who were not around last year, I will give you an example of what today's blog footer would look like:

Sleep: O
Blogging: X
Coursework: O
Reading: O

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers

I'm kind of afraid to post this blog because I know no matter what I say, I'm going to get some flak, but as this is kind of the most private and most personal method of communication I have with the internet, I figure I should take the opportunity and say something.

I've just recently watched the documentary called "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers," and it really touched me. It kind of put into words the thoughts and emotions I've been dealing with regarding my own religion in recent years.

I guess this would be the time to tell you "my story" as far as religion goes. I think I had a pretty normal upbringing in Northern Virginia; I spent the first twelve years of my life within 45 minutes of Washington, D.C., which is why no one can tell where my accent is from, because it's kind of from everywhere America. I was baptized and raised Catholic. When we moved from Virginia to Tennessee, it was my religion that got me to meet most of my friends--to be honest, that was how you really met most people in that area.

Religion was a very open topic, as long as you were Christian, and often as long as you were Protestant. I don't mean this in any sort of bitter or dramatic way, but I was certainly challenged for my faith. As a member of a minority religion in the area (I know; it's Tennessee, believe me. Catholicism is a minority) I lost friends who adamantly felt that I was wrong and needed to change my sinful ways.

I wept openly when John Paul II died; he was an amazing man and I thought he was bringing the church into the 21st century in many (not all) of the right ways. I was also singled out in my health class--by the teacher, mind you-- to explain why he was left pretty much as-is for a very long time (the short version is that if he didn't decay it would be a miracle they would tick off in canonizing him).

But it wasn't all bad in Tennessee; in fact, there was a lot of good. I had a lot of deep spiritual epiphanies, most of which I am generally only willing to share with close friends I trust not to judge me, so please forgive me for leaving it at that. However, sometimes I think it's better that way; I don't want anyone to think that my story is "the way" to be Christian. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

In my junior year of high school, we moved to Florida, which had a very different religious culture. I remember being physically uncomfortable with some of the changes in the celebration of the mass--our church in Tennessee was rather conservative, and this church was quite liberal--but I came to love and cherish the differences. It's always a challenge to adjust to change, but I would argue that one benefits in the end from accepting it. I love my church in Florida and love returning to it when I am home. In any case, it was there that I was confirmed and took Saint George the Dragon-Slayer as my patron, not so much because of his being a dragon-slayer, but because of his patronage. He's the patron of the Boy Scouts and of the military, and I felt his story very compelling--it was full of calls to action, rather than idleness.

When I came to Indiana University, however, I pretty much stopped going to church altogether, and I couldn't quite find the impetus. Sure, it was partially laziness. Sunday was the only day I ever got to sleep in. The college ministry was very far away from where I lived on-campus. It was partially due to the fact that the church closer to me had choices in music that were very easy for me to snub. But there was something deeper than that. Something that really just didn't sit right with me in my religion, and in religion in general.

And I think Lord, Save Us From Your Followers hit the nail right on the head. I've started to feel this sense that people who are religious have to judge each other and feel this compulsion to be right rather than to be Christian. Part of that was my experience, of course--being told that I was a heathen for being excited to see the bishop, being told that I wouldn't go to heaven unless I was saved in this religion or baptized in that religion. Part of it was my upbringing--my parents have always made it clear to me that what they care about is that I take care of myself and that I take care of others, and that as long as I do this I will be right in God's book. Part of it is the media--it seems like every news company has to put a spin on it now in order to be legitimate. That's just not okay with me.

So I haven't been to church in years, but all this time, I think I've been doing God's work. I always make it a point to stop and help others, to show basic courtesy, to stick out my neck for my friends. I wish I had done more of course (gotta love the Catholic guilt) but I can't say that I've done nothing.

But this movie... it really hit it home for me. I've honestly been wanting to go back to church for a while and kind of just dreading who I would see there, hoping it wouldn't be boring, letting my imagination run wild and convince me not to go. But seeing the host--I can't remember his name--being religious, but being apologetic for everyone; turning the other cheek, as it were. I just was so moved by it because that's the kind of person I think I've been wanting to be. That's the kind of person I've been trying to be. Someone who can be religious, but someone who truly follows what Jesus and the Bible say. From a moral standpoint, that is. Someone who doesn't judge, someone who loves all unconditionally, someone who would give you their watch when you ask them what time it is. Someone who listens to everything and processes it. It calls to mind my favorite prayer, the Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Productivity (Taking My Own Advice)

So a while back I made a video about being productive. You can see it here if you're interested. In any case, I've been feeling really "blah" this weekend and it's exactly what I needed to hear.

I've got a big pile of clothes that is really three sub-piles of clothes: one needs to be ironed, one needs to be cleaned, and one needs to be just put away... and probably ironed first at this point. I am going to go attack that as soon as I finish this blog. The best thing is that I can watch a movie or something while I iron, so it's only half-work. That doesn't count as multi-tasking in my book because I won't care if I follow what's happening in the movie!

I have some paperwork to do for what I want to do next year. Mostly, this involves e-mailing people I'm supposed to be in contact with... I've been a little un-responsive recently and I feel guilty about it. I shouldn't feel guilty, of course; if my body is telling me that what it needs the least is to talk to these people, it's probably right. This was not pure laziness--it was stress telling me to take a break. But regardless, I will e-mail them once I get some clothes going.

I have to talk to some people about summer jobs I applied for. I meant to do that today and now it'll be after business hours so I'd get a manager but probably not a hiring manager. I have to put it on my list of stuff to do tomorrow.

I took on a reading challenge earlier in the semester and I'm pretty far behind on it... I got really far ahead over spring break and lost the time to read afterward; now that I have it back, I ought to read some. I bet that's not going to happen tonight except just before I go to bed, but it's a step.

Speaking of bed, I need to reinstate my bedtime routine. It helps a lot and I've gotten out of the habit and it's not helping my stress at all. Hopefully this routine of blogging will do some good in that regard.

So I think I've got my evening organized! Laundry--e-mails--write list for tomorrow--laundry. For tomorrow, class and contact employers. Oh! That's my list for tomorrow. Already out of order! Dang it. Well, I have to be flexible. That's the key to any success.

And with that I think I'll be off, rather than procrastinating by writing a bunch of more stuff you probably wouldn't care to read anyway ;)

Hope you guys can have as effective an evening as I am about to have, even if that means relaxing! If that's what you need, do it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

BAWLODIS (Blog A Whole Lot Of Days In Summer)

Hey! So someone recently posted a comment to my YouTube profile saying, "Why doesn't your blog exist?" and I thought to myself, You know what? I've been meaning to tend to that.

And then I remembered what wonderful good blogging did for me last summer when I did it every day for two months straight. I'm not sure I want to commit entirely to that again... of course, things could change in the next few days. That's what I love about this being my blog, though. If I change my mind... it's all on me.

In any case, the next great thing about blogging is that it gives me a chance to be a lot more personal. Most of my vlogs have at least some sort of point and are very rarely just life-updates, and I really liked being able to bring that part of my life to the internet through my blog. There will be a lot of changes to my life this summer, and I'm looking forward to being able to share them; unfortunately, very little is set in stone and I don't want to announce anything until I'm certain, so forgive me if I tend to dance around certain points. I am only withholding information because I take care not to tell you untruths.

So basically, this is going to be the beginning of my summer blogging project again. Probably my first goal will be to re-commit to exercise... maybe with more time promised to me in the future I will be able to commit to it. I mean, I have been walking for a very long time and distance every day this semester and now that student teaching is almost over I'll need to keep it up or I will probably slay someone.

I guess I'll end this blog by saying that the biggest benefit is that I get to post these without lots of editing or drafting and re-drafting. I like having a place where I can do that. Ha.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

We need to talk.

I'm a little upset right now, but I am going to try to be as level-headed as possible in writing this.

There are a few people complaining in my video comments about the legitimacy of the gold medalist for this week's fizzylimpics awards. This gets under my skin for a few reasons, the first of which is that at the end of the day, this competition doesn't matter. At the end of the day, what does a shout-out from a little guy with 3800 subscribers, most of whom don't even watch his videos, and the remainder of whom generally watch with passivity, actually mean, in the grand scheme of things? The award for winning was a shout-out from me. That is the same award that the silver gets, the same that the bronze gets, the same as half the people who didn't even win get. It's not like I'm giving money to people who don't deserve it. The only people getting anything physical are the people who entered all four competitions--not even the gold medalists get that.

I also know every video that broke the rules. To be honest, it was a significant chunk of the entries. I am as big of a rule-monger as anyone in a lot of things, and it was quite tempting to disqualify everyone who broke the rules and give a sarcastic "sorry." However, I reminded myself that my goal, my only goal in this competition, was to share good content and provide a venue with which to do so. That's why I would give a medal to someone who uploaded it a month before the competition, or to singers who did covers, or to videos that went over four minutes, or to people who sent theirs in after the due date, just to name a few. They made good content and deserved to have it shared.

I also don't think people realize how much time and effort I put into this competition. I had to stay up late several nights finding judges, giving them spreadsheets to judge with, compiling the list of videos to send them, and then compiling their answers and trying to come up with a gold from there. I could have spent my time doing lots of other things--things way more important to my life--but I thought someone needed to share this content. That makes comments calling me out extra-painful; it just seems ungrateful to me to say that with all this work, all this effort to be friendly and forgiving, someone would have the audacity to compare me to a corrupt politician.

All I really wanted to create was a light and friendly competition. I hope that we can keep it that way.