Month: October 2014

School sucks sometimes

Just finished physics exam three, and it was worse than the nightmare I had the other night about being assimilated by the Borg on a giant apartment-building-cube. I guess I prefer running in terror to digging in my brain and finding nothing that I need. Have you ever waited in a long line for some important thing (I don’t know an example off the top of my head, but I remember it seemed to happen all the time in the Navy), and the clerk or service person or whomever informs you that you’re missing the simplest little piece of paperwork or something, but that you CANNOT proceed without it? You’ve got to go get whatever it is, and get right back in line.

Some things are just aggravating. Feeling prepared and finding out that you were utterly unprepared is one of those things. And that’s my life in this physics class. I read, study, review my notes, complete all of my assignments, and work through problems. I even spend some of my “free” time (which consists of the few hours I spend either driving or hanging out with my husband in the evenings) just thinking about how I could apply the laws and theorems and mathematical relationships to stuff. I really do. And I’m interested in physics. I don’t neglect school in my sleep either. I dream about things I’m working hard on.

For the first time in my life, I’m really trying, but I’m not getting the results I want. Truthfully, I tried very hard in calc. I over the summer, too, and the results were not what I wanted either, but they were acceptable (a B instead of an A). But I’m getting wicked pissed with my physics class. I know it’s not a good idea to teach that sort of class in a “monkey see monkey do” way, just showing students problems, then testing them on basically the same problems with different values. I don’t want a half-assed education because I really do hope to one day be competent at some sort of good job. But back to the wicked pissed part: I read, study, etc., and then when the test comes, I just want to go to my professor and ask, “Where did you get this?” because it really seems like the only things I see on the test are things that were only mentioned in passing during lectures or in the book.

Then when lecture comes around, starting some new material, I’m just thinking, “Why are you showing me this awesome, easy problem? Can’t we go over, I dunno, one or two problems that are on the same difficulty level that we’ll see on the test?” Just thinking about it pisses me off when I’m in class. I don’t even want to see the examples because I know they will not help me. It’s like getting a lesson on adding and subtracting, but then a quiz on long division.

In conclusion, I hate school.

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I miss Japan, or My neighbors are rude (rant)

I’m missing Japan, as usual. One thing I’ve been thinking about is the neighbors. Japanese people are generally very considerate of others all the time, so they make great neighbors, in my experience. As my old Japanese professor said, With such a dense population, you have to be polite just to survive. Makes sense! … Too bad that’s not the philosophy in densely populated American cities (as much).

When I lived in an apartment in Japan, I didn’t talk much to the neighbors. We all had pretty different hours, and my Japanese skills weren’t (aren’t) amazing. Now and then I talked to someone while waiting for the elevator. Those exchanges were usually something like, “Hot, huh?” “Oh yeah, so hot!” in Japanese. A huge amount of communication is done non-verbally, too, but…

Anyway, I loved my neighbors because I never heard them or smelled any bizarre products they were using or had my place jarring from their heavy bass in the middle of the night. And even though I saw dogs and cats all the time — one of my favorite things was looking out from the balcony onto the rooftops of other, shorter buildings, where people would often hang laundry and play with their dogs — not once did I lose sleep or study time because one of those dogs was barking constantly. And all that is despite the fact that some windows and doors in Japan are literally made out of paper! If Japanese people can train their Shibas and Yorkies and mini-poodles to be quiet even while living in very small apartments, then I don’t understand why so many Americans can’t. Oh wait. Could it be because they can, but they just don’t?

—-

I just wrote a ton about what makes my neighbors assholes, and I deleted it. It made me feel better to write, but it’s not necessary to share the stuff because… why complain? No one wants to read it.

It’s just that I don’t understand why Americans are generally so much less considerate of others than Japanese. Driving through a neighborhood with BLARING music. Burning wood in the driveway when you live in an apartment complex. Not picking up your dog poop. This stuff doesn’t happen in Japan — and maybe that’s why Japanese people aren’t always getting into fights and cussing each other out (and for that matter, shooting each other). I try not to piss off my neighbors, and I TRY to be kind to them even when they piss me off. But some of them…. I know that they’re not only not considering other neighbors, but actively not giving a fuck. There are people here who like to burn wood in a portable fire pit (which isn’t allowed in the community anyway), and they do it despite multiple complaints being made, and the “courtesy patrol” tell them to put it out. The only explanation for it is that they do not give a damn about anybody but themselves. It’s just shitty. Why is it like that here? How can I have pride in my country when really I am treated better in a foreign country? How can I ever enjoy being part of a community when no one seems to care about living in harmony with others? It depresses me that people are so inconsiderate.

I’m not trying to preach either. I’m sure I annoy people or have annoyed them — but if I know, then I stop. If someone says something, I apologize. I never knowingly bother anybody. If I even think my music might be a bit loud, I lower it. I don’t do anything that fills anybody’s home with smoke, that’s for sure. And when I drink, I save my beer bottles until the next day, so that I’m not waking up half the street throwing them in the empty metal dumpster at midnight. I don’t know. The point is that I try. I do think of the neighbors, even if I really want to tell them to go fuck off sometimes. I don’t try to get back at them. I don’t try to out-asshole them. I still consider them. I know I’m not the only considerate American, but…

We just have an asshole epidemic. Possible a pandemic. It’s depressing and frustrating, and also reason #46755725134675 why I want to go back to Japan. It’s just nice to be around people who are non-confrontational, non-obnoxious, non-aggressive. People interested in peace, who actually live the Golden Rule, despite not many of them even professing any religion. For a nation of Christians, we Americans are selfish and rude.

I’ll get back to Japan! I will. I will. I will.

Debating abortion laws is pointless.

I read a post I saw on Freshly Pressed earlier. It was one man’s reason why he won’t be voting in favor of an amendment to make abortion more difficult in his state — even though he’s a Christian. He explained pretty well, IMO, the fact that Roe v. Wade was never meant to speak as to the morality of abortion. That is, the court’s decision was not in favor of abortion, but in favor of women’s rights. The idea is that states can’t really say abortion is only okay in cases of rape or incest, for example, because then when a woman wants an abortion because she’s been raped, the doctor asks her to prove that she was raped. Clearly that’s a privacy violation.

But I have a few issues with this. First of all, most women don’t get abortions because they were victims of rape or incest. Every source I’ve been able to find, pro-choice or pro-life, say that most women who choose to abort, do so because they don’t feel ready for a baby, or because they lack financial resources, etc. (Infanticide is still illegal even if you can prove that you’re destitute, by the way, but that’s another argument.) For all the shouting by many feminists about protecting women, protecting women, protecting women, let’s be a little more critical about this.

First of all, any doctor will tell you prevention is key to health. Person trainers and coaches say this. I wouldn’t be surprised if police say this. What if we put less into “protecting the privacy rights” of a very few women, and more into protecting the women themselves? I’m talking about preventing rape. I’d like to have a dollar for every time I heard or participated in an abortion debate in school, but until very recently, I never heard anything about preventing sexual assaults.

And what about the rape victims? I want them to have privacy, of course. My opinion is still that abortion is wrong, even for them, but… still, I’m not sure if I’d honestly vote in favor of a law that banned 100% of abortions. The thing is I don’t think it’s really right to base the entire legislating-abortion issue on protecting these women. The reason is that, as I said, they’re in the minority. Aren’t we in fact using these women as an excuse to permit any woman to get an abortion for any reason? That’s not right. It’s like a person asking for money to feed orphans, but then spending almost all of the money on… I don’t know, anything. New clothes. Something like that. That person can still say that the orphans benefited, even if he or she only gave them one percent of the money donated. Indeed, I suppose the orphans do benefit, just like women who have been raped and want an abortion benefit from the Roe v. Wade decision. But I find it pretty disgusting for people to pretend the pro-choice battle is all in the name of women who have been victimized.

I could go on, I guess. I don’t know how I’d vote on any given abortion bill/prop/amendment. Talking to my older female relatives, I know that women sought abortions in this country before they were legal. It doesn’t take a lot of reading to find out that in many countries where abortion is legal today, many women (and babies) die as a result of unsafe abortions. The line of reasoning I’m following right now is the one that essentially says, “If we prohibit abortion, we won’t save any babies. The babies will still be aborted, only more of their mothers die too.” I think that’s probably true, although part of me also thinks — and I’m not sure this is right because it does seem callous — but are these women unaware of the risks? I’m not saying they deserve to die, but it doesn’t make sense to decide what laws to make based solely on what will happen to the people who break those laws. Probably this is another unpopular opinion, but I also think people in this country don’t think about the consequences or meaning of anything. They don’t think about the consequences or meaning of sex, and so they end up with unwanted pregnancies. They don’t think about the consequences or meaning of abortion, and so they end up — however they end up, regardless of the law. The same people I hear complaining about being broke are drinking Starbucks beverages every other day, smoking cigarettes, or driving gas guzzling cars. I’m not being holier-than-thou — I definitely do bad or stupid things sometimes.

My point is that people really do need to think about priorities and consequences. If your priority, for example, is to be a real career woman, fine. Think about it. Get some effective birth control, and make sure you take it properly. I’ve been in the position before of fearing I was pregnant. It’s not like I don’t get what women think. I’ve been there. I’ve thought about my lost career plans, what others would think, how not-ready I feel, what the financial impact would be, how my lifestyle would change, how I don’t want to get huge, etc. But I’ve always thought, “As much as I don’t want to do this, if I am pregnant, I know how it happened. I made that choice. It’s not worth it to take another innocent person’s life in order to avoid all these things I’m afraid of.”

I just don’t understand how another human life isn’t as important as me not wanting to lose my figure or take time off work. I think half the financial arguments I hear are nonsense too, because some of the greatest and happiest mothers I have known were/are living in or close to poverty. If I’m not “ready,” or I’m so sure I’m going to be a terrible mother, well… would my unskilled parenting be worse than dying? Worse than not getting a chance to live in the world at all? Oh, and there’s always adoption. If I’m worried about having a child with special needs… what am I worried about in that case? The expense? The difficulty? How can people be against abortion except for children with Down’s Syndrome, for example? Does the life of a baby with a disorder like that mean less than the life of any other baby? It disgusts me and makes me sad how many people seem to think so.

So what do I think about laws? I don’t know. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Truly, it doesn’t. Like the Pope has said, we have this disposable culture. We are so materialistic that even babies in the womb are not “lives,” are not “people,” are not “babies,” but are “bundles of tissue,” like a scab torn off a skinned knee. We say “terminate a pregnancy,” instead of “terminate a life.” We look at a baby in the womb a thing, not a somebody; so we think it’s okay to get rid of it, and we don’t consider that killing. I know these words would probably seem insulting to someone who has had an abortion. I’m sure many or most of these women don’t even think they have killed anyone, don’t think their babies were really babies. That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. The entire mentality of our society is why abortion can’t be solved by laws. People don’t care about laws. (I’m not sure many people care about a whole lot, honestly.) Unless and until women start to turn away from materialism (including looking at a fetus as, essentially, nothing but genetic material), abortion will be a big thing.

But Americans can’t even be convinced to save fuel or to save food! Everything is a commodity. If there’s a zucchini in my fridge that I don’t want anymore, and I can afford to go buy a new one, out it goes. It’s not food. It’s not something that someone else could really use. I toss it. Why save the earth? Why save gasoline? I can afford to drive a gas guzzler, so why don’t I? I am certainly digressing now, but the attitude that underlies the pro-choice movement is the same attitude that leads to a half of the country’s agricultural products going to waste, and to fuel-efficient car sales going down now that the price of gas is going down. It’s money, convenience, material. So depressing.

Final word: This is quite a ramble. I have mixed feelings and many thoughts. I sympathize with women who are raped or poor or who just don’t want to have a baby yet. I sympathize with people who don’t want to eat that damned zucchini in the fridge. I sympathize with people who just want to drive a badass car. I get it, and I’m not judging anybody. If anything comes from this post though, it’s that I put thought into it. All the angry debating I hear about these things… all I hear are emotions, people arguing over what they want or feel entitled to. But we need to think harder. If every pro-choice person tried to understand what I’m talking about, and if every pro-lifer would try to be more compassionate toward women who want abortions, maybe we could come up with effective solutions. The sooner everybody realizes that debating abortion laws is pointless, the sooner we figure out something to do that really helps women.

‘Endorphins make you happy’

I’m not trying to oversimplify anything here. Depression is a sickness. I’m not saying, “I worked out, so I’m worry free!”

But…

About two weeks ago, after my usual lifting routine, I attempted a short run. I’m pretty sure by now that my PCP was wrong when she said “tendinitis,” and that I actually have something called “tendinosis,” which requires a ton of rest.

sigh

Anyway, I went for a short run because my pain had gone away. I was really slow, really careful, really cautious, but I still ended up getting that twang of pain, and I stopped and walked back home. During the next few days, pain came back a bit, but fortunately not to the level a couple of months ago when I first injured it (and was limping). Okay, fine. Bike it is.

sigh

If you can’t tell from the multiple dramatic exhalations, I hate rest, and I’m really ambivalent about riding my bike for exercise.

So Monday, the 6th, I went for a long bike ride. For some reason I didn’t lift that day. Then I didn’t lift the next day. Then I didn’t lift or exercise at all until yesterday, and the whole time was miserable. I had some major exams, homework, and confusion I was dealing with, and I’d thought, “Okay, I need to dedicate more time to studying. I’ll get ahead, then I will get back to the gym.” But it really didn’t avail much. The exam I was worried over didn’t go very well, but I’m still managing a B in the class. The homework and other stuff I was dealing with… honestly probably didn’t get done any better than it would have had I just worked out as usual. In fact, I’m thinking not going to the gym might have even had a detrimental effect on my studying and performance. Why? Because I was anxious. Because I was in a grumpy mood. Because I wasn’t sleeping as well as usual. Because I was endorphin-deprived–I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m just thinking about this quote from Legally Blonde:

Yesterday, I got back to it though. I did some serious work on my squats (that’s a whole other story), and even though I didn’t get to run, I felt a thousand times better just like that. Just like that. I still feel better. I ate and slept better than I have in about two weeks, and today wasn’t much of a bummer at school at all! I feel totally rejuvenated, and I really didn’t realize what a huge part of my life lifting heavy things is. I was/am so frustrated about not being able to run, and not knowing when I’ll be able to again, but it’s okay. Last night, I was thinking about how the previous week might’ve gone better if I’d stuck to my gym schedule. Then I wondered, Would I have been depressed as a teenager if I’d worked out back then? I really do wonder. I mean, at some point I did start running and doing basic exercises to prepare to join the military. But mostly I was inactive. My favorite thing was my weekly horseback riding lesson — and even that makes me wonder. Surely I loved that because of the horses. There’s nothing like moving together and almost seeming to think together, being part of a team with one of nature’s most elegant, powerful, yet gently beasts. I won’t pretend the cute outfits had nothing to do with it (I was a hunter/jumper rider). Now that I think of it though, maybe riding was my favorite thing because it was the only thing I did that really got my blood pumping. Who knows?

The point is, I’m back to the gym, and I’m not skipping a day again unless I get really sick. It’s not worth it. I always feel better when I work out. Always. It just works that way. I’m addicted, I guess. I feel pretty stoked about it. It’s like I didn’t know what I had until it was gone, but then I got it back again, so now I know what I have, and it’s awesome! (Can’t imagine how great it’s going to feel when I get to run fast again!)

Life is good. I don’t have straight A’s like I’d like, and my physics class is a royal pain in the ass — depressing because physics is my major — and I’m still impatiently awaiting a semi-affordable Tesla to come out (hell yes), but — life is good.

Catholics getting pissed off are pissing me off.

I haven’t written much lately because I’ve been busy. I don’t get a lot out of my calc II lectures, so I have to “teach myself” at home. Physics is also proving to be a huge, time-consuming, soul-destroying (just kidding) pain in the neck.

Also, I’m not sure I’ve had much to write. But one thing I have been thinking about in recent days is this:

Why do we Christians, including Catholics, mostly find ourselves in the news when it has to do with homosexuality? Is that really what we care about most? Are we really more upset about gay people’s marriages taking away the sanctity or dignity of our heterosexual and/or Sacramental marriages? Oh — and does anyone honestly believe that two gay people being married takes away from the sanctity or dignity of one’s own marriage? Other people’s marriages don’t concern me, and if they did, I’d probably be more concerned about all the people divorcing and subjecting their kids to a bunch of bullshit, than all of the really loving, committed, faithful gay couples I know actually getting some marital rights/privileges.

My point writing right now isn’t actually about gay marriage at all. It’s about Christians, and how we keep pushing people away because we’re so obsessed with affirming and reaffirming and reaffirming what we think is sinful. The synod is in the news, and conservative Catholics are going nuts just thinking about divorced people getting to receive the Eucharist, among other things. Why? Why not go nuts over the thousands of impoverished people who are dying of ebola (or malaria, polio, the flu, or various other diseases which hardly kill anyone in a rich nation)? Why not go nuts over how endlessly shitty the situation in the Middle East is — where innocent people are being displaced, tortured, and/or killed every day? Why not go nuts about how many people are living in the streets?

Oh, or what about going nuts in a more positive way. Not being mad, but being passionate for a cause. Could be healing, teaching, serving in any number of ways. Could be talking about the Faith — could even be living the Faith, and making people actually want to learn about Christ. But so many people aren’t interested in anything but incessantly declaring what is sinful and must not be permitted by the church. Why is it that when we get a new pope, people are grateful and glad and say that the Spirit chose the pope? We have confidence that God wanted this person to be pope, but then as soon as that man says something along the lines of, “We should consider the possibility that we’ve been going about some things wrong,” we forget that we thought God chose him. Instead, we start attacking him. Does this make sense?

To me, the way some people are talking about Pope Francis right now is the same way people talked about John the Baptist or Jesus. John and Jesus both said, “Repent!” and interestingly, they told people to repent who didn’t expect that direction to be given to them. The same thing is happening today.

My Christian brothers and sisters (of course not all) are so sure that the message of repentance is for gay, divorced, and other people, that they get totally indignant and start crying “blasphemy” now that the pope (and others) are suggesting perhaps we should repent of the ways we have treated others. Are we called to judge and exclude others? I don’t think so. Is there precedent for ostracizing members of our own community? Well…. in the New Testament, yes. Paul suggested such a thing in certain circumstances… and he also said women should not speak in church (though conservative Catholics don’t seem to have an issue with female lectors) and that we should have our heads covered. A sensible person should realize that adhering to the Faith — following the will of God — is not such a black and white matter as looking up a few words in the Bible. How can we cite a few references against homosexuality and divorce, and ignore the many long passages of the Word which talks about mercy, love, humility, non-judgment, justice, and equity?

I’m not down on the church at all. I’m not down on most of my fellow Christians. I just think we’re doing a TERRIBLE JOB representing Christ on earth when all we do is point out others’ sins, ignore our own, and argue. Being a good Christian is not about stopping other people from sinning. It is not about having the most theologically defensible position on gay marriage. It’s about faith in the one true God, and following him. If God himself broke bread with sinners, then why shouldn’t we?

I’d write more, but I must must must work on some physics problems. Peace, joy, love, mercy, justice… these are more important than if someone with a different sin than me is receiving the Eucharist with me. It doesn’t diminish me or God! Giving food to the hungry, defending those who cannot speak for themselves, and treating all of God’s creation with dignity is more important than whether a couple lives together before marriage!

Feeding kids sugar

Today I saw a huge group of kids, maybe 5th graders, I’m not sure, come to Starbucks. I was sitting there working on some chemistry stuff, and a man with a little girl came up, evidently waiting for some people. They had two big boxes of donuts. Little did I know…

A few minutes later, the huge group of kids arrived. They were loud and obnoxious, but that’s not the point. They pushed and shoved over the donuts, and lined up at the Starbucks order counter.

It bugs me. I’m not that informed about caffeine, although I can’t imagine letting Junior have an afternoon latte does much to help with getting him to go to bed at a reasonable hour. What bugs me is the sugar. Most Starbucks drinks are loaded with sugar, and most of their food is too. Loaded. Simply loaded. Candy covered nuts. Scones. Muffins. Donuts. Sugarmilkcoffee with creamsugarair on top. — And these kids were already eating donuts!

It’s not my business (although I could argue that in some indirect way in the long term that it is), but it bothers me when I see kids just hogging out on sugar or fast food. I don’t blame them. They’re kids. They want what tastes good. That’s what we all want, right? The thing is, most kids are not equipped to make good choices about food. They don’t know and they don’t think about an apple being healthier than a cookie. Even if they did know and did think about it and did desire to make a healthy choice, they don’t do the grocery shopping. They can’t say, “Hey Mom, I think we shouldn’t buy Bisquick because it has trans fat.”

I know a lot of adults aren’t very informed about healthy eating either. That’s why fad diets exist. That’s why all kinds of gimmicky packaged foods exist. That’s why all kinds of books exist… That’s why I don’t blame people for being overweight, and I don’t necessarily assume when I see people eating McDonald’s multiple times a week that they really know that’s not a great idea. I guess ignorance is an okay excuse when it’s just you. But when you ignorantly feed your kids food and drinks that will likely ultimately harm them? Even that I can understand. I think that is what my parents did.

What gets me is the people I see with smartphones who feed their kids donuts and Starbucks drinks and Burger King. If you have a smartphone, I’m going to assume you have the Internet. I’m going to assume if you have the Internet, you have access to all the information in the world on the fact that eating a bunch of junk is harmful. So if you still choose to eat it yourself, fine. You’re a grown up. But does your child have the information to make that choice too?

It’s such a shame. I had to go through so much, and I consider it something like a miracle that I somehow learned enough about nutrition and exercise that finally, at age 25, I’m physically fit. But why at age 25? Why was I an overweight kid? Why was I overweight even in the military? Well of course it’s because I ate fast food and drank soda and things like that. But why did I do that? I just didn’t know. It’s how I was raised, and that’s something really powerful. After I got the information, and figured out, hey, I need to change this… it’s not easy changing decades of habits and tastes! It’s not easy learning how to cook totally differently, go to the gym for the first time, or buy proper running shoes. And sugar? I’m not a scientist, but I insist it’s at least somewhat addictive…

So I just hate to see kids being set up to be overweight and sick and addicted, and not even know it. I just hate to see how people fetishize foods like chocolate, bacon, and cheesecake. I enjoy food as much as anyone, but is it really a good idea to put it on a level in our minds with sex? Is it really a good idea to eat differently based on emotions? Is it really a good idea to celebrate every birthday, every life event, every social gathering, every holiday, with pies, cakes, cookies?

There’s so much more I think about this. There are social dimensions to obesity just like there are to alcoholism… but we try not to encourage kids to drink, while we think nothing of feeding them extremely sugary foods and drinks! We don’t tell them it’s okay to drink lots of cocktails “because it’s a holiday,” but we do tell them they can have buckets of candy because it’s Halloween, or slices of pie because it’s Christmas. Even children’s school fundraisers are selling candy and cookies half the time. Why?

I’m not trying to critique people’s parenting. I’m not. I’m not mad at parents. That’s not the emotion that’s got me writing. What’s got me writing is really feeling for the kids. I feel for all the ones who are overweight and don’t know why. I feel for all the ones who are going to have health problems because of what they’re eating when they don’t even know they should be eating differently. I feel for the ones who know they need to lose weight, but can’t really do anything to do so. Parents don’t seem to be doing that great a job teaching kids about healthy eating. Schools damn sure aren’t (at least I never learned anything about it in school). The government can’t help. What are kids supposed to do as they grow up and realize maybe they wish they had more energy or felt comfortable trying a new sport or just wished they weren’t shopping in the plus sizes? I’m glad the Internet is there to help those who have access to it… but even then, there is so much bad information on the Internet, as well as tons and tons of products, books, programs, and other complete shams that take advantage of people who want to get healthy without actually getting them healthier. What can you do? What can I do?