Saturday, July 31, 2010

When your friends can do no wrong...

I think everyone gets in the habit of judging people based on who they are rather than what they do. Pretty people get special treatment, kids who look like trouble are automatically predisposed to harrassment by authorities even if they haven't broken a rule in their life, people from your own clique, ethnic background, school, hometown, etc. (in psychology, it's called your "in-group") are given special treatment in your mind. You're more likely to make excuses for the things they do because of who they are.

I thought of this because I noticed a friend of mine exhibiting what I see as annoying Facebook behavior, giving an account of all her evening's events in terms of inside jokes and posting vague indirect statuses directed at a certain unnamed person (like "You're ruining my life. I hope you realize how annoying you are.") I usually hide these people from my wall, but until tonight, I realized how often she posts these kinds of statuses. I hadn't noticed. If it was someone else that I liked less, I would have noticed a long time ago. With her I just say "well she doesn't go out that much, so I'm glad she's having fun" or "I know who that status is directed to and he deserves to be told off." Why do I make excuses for her and no one else?

This is just a superficial example of making excuses for your in-group. It's silly, but it brings up a bigger issue. How far will it go? When you focus more on who someone is than what that someone does, you're blinded to the truth of their actions. How much is excusable and how much are you just choosing to ignore?

Bullying, drugs, cheating, stealing...things people go along with because their friends are doing them. Things they would find deplorable in another circumstance, but excusable when that circumstance involves their own friends.Lip rings look stupid, even on your best friend. Picking on the weird kid iis mean, even if your boyfriend does it.

Your friends could be bad people and you never realize because you're too busy trying to justify their actions. In reality though, their actions aren't defined by who they are. Who they are is defined by their actions, and even more important, their intentions. I think once you know someone's intentions, you know all you need to know about them.

I think people need to stick to their principles no matter who they're dealing with.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hey, virtual school. Bite me.

So I found out tonight that the AP European History class I decided to take as an elective next year is going to be a combination of classroom and virtual teaching. They're calling it "blended learning."

That made me think of smoothies, which made me think of those smoothie places attached to gyms that make people think they're all cool and cosmo because they're at the gym drinking a smoothie, but really they're just dorks who burn off the calories on a thigh master then slurp them back up again in liquid form. This is kinda what I think about this blended learning idea. We think we're so cool because our school has "virtual learning labs" and video conferencing rooms, but in reality, what good does that really do for anything?

If I have to get up early to come to school every day and sit in a classroom in order to learn, I want a teacher in the room who loves what they do and wants us to love it too. That's why I want to be a teacher. I don't want to sit at a computer and IM Mr. Remote Teacher Dude about his online assignments while some "permanent substitute" sits in the room with us.

While our principal, our virtual teacher, and some lady from the virtual school-loving sector of the school district gushed about what an amazing opportunity this "blended learning" is, it reminded me of an article I wrote for the school paper at the end of sophomore year.

It was supposed to be about the only Chinese teacher leaving the school. When I interviewed the principal, all she could do was tell me how wonderful it is that our Chinese program was going virtual and would be taught by a teacher over video chat. All I could think about was my Chinese teacher, a wonderful woman who taught me so much more than just Chinese. The way she ran her class was awesome, and everything I learned from her I wasn't buying the principal's amazing virtual program, no matter how hard she tried to sell it.

I think classroom interaction is the most important part of school. This is how teachers change lives, not by IMs and video conferences, but by actual in-person interaction. I've had so many teachers change my life, and everything I remember loving about them, their passion for their subject, their way of making it interesting, their encouraging words...they didn't do it from their home office in Boynton Beach.

This virtual program is supposed to be the way of the future. Sure, in college, where students have numbers instead of names or faces, that's expected, but I don't think this virtual learning should infiltrate high school. They say it's the way of the future, but I think it's the way compensating for lack of money in the budget.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pokemon Ghost Black

This is a really cool story about a creepy version of Pokemon for original Gameboy that gives you the option to choose a ghost as your starter Pokemon with the deadliest attack of all. Read it. It's most certainly fake, even though I wish it was real. It would be so much cooler that way. Creepy, disturbing, intriguing. I will never think about Ghastly's Curse the same way.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

♥ Greyson Chance ♥

If you don't know him, he's one I've been calling the Lady Gaga kid, the 12-year-old who sings and plays a killer version of Paparazzi on the piano. He's amazingly talented and I hope he goes far. I love this kid.

The video of him doing Paparazzi at a school talent show has 30,000,000 views and was discovered by the fabulous Ellen Degeneres who brought him to her show to perform. This was the original video.

I saw a rerun of Ellen this morning that aired about two months ago of him singing a song he wrote, lyrics and piano composition, himself. I think I've listened to this song 10 times today and it's been stuck in my head. I've been walking around singing it. I love his singing and I love the song, and it's even cuter that it's a 12-year-old singing about broken hearts.

I loved his interview from his second appearance on Ellen because he talks about a lucky bracelet a girl gave him and how a snow cone store in his hometown named a snow cone after him. It looks long, but the interview doesn't actually start until about 3:25. The first three minutes are footage of his life back home, so skip if you don't care about that.

In his first interview on Ellen, Lady Gaga calls him herself to tell him how talented he is. Skip to 3:10. The last three minutes are the same song again.

I'm a fan of him on Facebook and I'm signed up for updates. I hope he doesn't lose his voice at puberty and I hope his career goes far. I'm cheering for you, kid!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ellen Degeneres

I am a huge fan of Ellen. If you don't know her, she's the comedian you probably know as Dory's voice in Finding Nemo. She's hilarious, has a really fun personality, and her talk show is the best on TV. I like to watch the Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford because they talk about some interesting things and Kathy Lee acts hilariously drunk all the time, but Ellen's show tops them in all areas.

Ellen always starts the show by dancing through the audience. Another thing she started doing this past year is scare the celebrities she's interviewing. Someone dresses up in a costume and while she's interviewing them, they sneak up behind and scare them. At about 1:15, Taylor Swift falls to the ground.

It's hilarious. I saw an episode where Steve Carrel actually hid in Ellen's dressing room and jumped out to get back at her for scaring him. He said something very interesting, that when someone reacts after they've been scared, it's "exactly who they are in that second." There is no planning or scripting or acting, it's just their natural response. I think that's pretty cool.

I found two of my favorite Ellen moments, the Snuggie and the Hula Chair. I picked the Hula Chair to post, but if you really care about this, watch the Snuggie clip. I love the end with the family at sporting events.

Oh my gosh I wasn't going to post any more videos, but I found a clip where they stick Rob Lowe in the Hawaii Chair. I can't decide if this one's better, so I bring you a second Hawaii Chair clip.

Ellen's awesome. She just is.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Technology Prison

When I wake up in the morning, I check Facebook. Then I check both my e-mails. I check Google Buzz, AIM's lifestream, and my phone for missed texts and calls. I check Facebook again. Then my blog for comments, hoping for that really good feeling I get when someone acknowledges me. I check other people's blogs for updates or responses to my comments. On Sunday, I check Post Secret. If I have any time left over, I start browsing, my new obsession.


Ridiculous. Totally ridiculous. And you know what? All this stuff makes me sad. I hate talking to people on AIM. It wastes so much time. I hate checking Facebook and reading status updates from people I don't like talking about things I don't care about. My e-mails almost all junk. The blogs I check are rarely updated. I only follow six people on Google Buzz and they are my sister and her friends.

I don't know why I don't just get up and find something worthwhile to do. I'm actually getting more annoyed as I write this, annoyed with the clicking sound of the keys on the keyboard and the fact that it's 12:40 and I have to get up tomorrow. But I can't sleep. I'm too annoyed with people and their status updates that don't matter, their stupid profile picture changes, and constant IMs from people asking me why I wasn't online all day, where I've been, and what I was doing.

Stupid technology prison. Worst part is that it's psychological.

Can you be addicted to something you hate?


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sex and the City

This show is my guilty pleasure. I criticize MTV, reality shows, and adult cartoons (South Park, King of the Hill, Family Guy, and the Simpsons annoy the hell out of me), but I really have no right to talk. Don't judge my vices and I won't judge yours.

It's about Carrie Bradshaw, a single 30-something year old writer living in New York City who writes a column about the relationships of her and her three best friends who all have distinct and different personalities. (From left in the picture) Charlotte is the romantic, Carrie is the thinker, Miranda is the cynic, and Samantha is the slut.

In each episode, Carrie asks a question in her column like "In relationships, is it smarter to follow your heart or your head?" or "In a relationship, is honesty really the best policy?" Then the show switches around between all of her friends and shows how their lives relate to the question she asked, all of it narrated by Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker).

I found a blog that lists all of Carrie's questions when I was looking for an example. I don't think anyone really cares, but I thought it was cool.

I had a hard time finding a clip to post because the clips on You Tube are either restricted to users under 18 or too graphic in dialogue.

I watched the movie the other day, and I actually cried a little. I know that sounds so stupid, but if there's any one couple I really love from this show, it's Miranda and Steve. Steve is amazing. If I could imagine someone I would want to end up with someday, it would be a guy like Steve. I can't get through how much I love Steve in clips, but I swear Miranda and Steve's relationship in the movie made me tear up a little.

This show is trashy, but I wouldn't call it shallow. The movie was rated R for "strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language" and it wasn't even close to being as bad as the show. There are things on that show that I wish I didn't see, but I like that it makes me think. A lot of Carrie's questions are interesting, and the conclusions she draws give me something to think about.

Movie trailer!

As arrogant as I found Big to be, I think it was right that Carrie ended up with him. I love that I can ramble about Carrie's relationships and my mom has some input. She said that Aidan, her fiancée in the middle of the series, was a better guy, but he wasn't unpredictable enough for Carrie's personality. That's true. I loved Aidan, too. He was my second favorite guy after Steve (no surprise that Steve and Aidan were best friends in the show). Still, he wasn't right for Carrie.

I think I'll end with that. I haven't seen the second movie. Took me two years to see the first.


Smoke up with the Flintstones

Hey, kids! Your favorite modern stone age family says that Winston cigarettes are the best! Try some and you'll be guaranteed a yabba-dabba-doo time!

This commercial aired in 1960 when the Winston cigarette company was the sponsor for the first season of this cartoon. Can you imagine?


Monday, July 19, 2010

(500) Days of Summer

It's summer and I have a license. That translates into our Blockbuster card being put to very good use. I put a whole bunch of 80's teen movies on our Blockbuster list, and to expedite their arrival, I went and rented (500) Days of Summer to take it out of queue. I don't remember how it got on the list. I don't like dramatic boy meets girl movies very much, but I don't mind watching them. They just confirm my revulsion to romance, and I'm trying to get over the aversion, not validate it. However, I ended up liking this movie a lot more than I thought.

So there's this guy who really believes in love and soulmates and emotion (he writes greeting cards for a living) who meets this girl named Summer who does not believe in love, doesn't want a boyfriend, and is generally confused about the whole thing. This intrigued me because she reminded me of myself so much.

"What happens when you fall in love?"
"You don't really believe in that, do you?"
"It's love, it's not Santa Claus."

The movie follows their 500 days together out of order, skipping around to different days.

If you don't want to hear how it ends, DO NOT keep reading. I think everyone who cares about it saw it when it came out, but in case you missed it, here's your SPOILER ALERT. I really want to talk about it.

Summer tells him up front that she doesn't want a boyfriend or a serious relationship, but it goes along as if they really are together. In the beginning when she says love is fantasy, he says it's real but you don't know it until you feel it. She doesn't believe him, and they go through their whole "relationship" putting no label on it. He thinks she's giving him mixed signals when she tells him she wants to be friends but acts like his girlfriend.

In the end, she leaves and it destroys him. Very cliche, everyone saw that coming. He sees her again, spends some time with her, and finds out in a very abrupt way that she's engaged. Emotional pain redux.

After some more time, he sees her again in the park they used to go together. They talk, and he asks what makes her, the girl who never wanted a boyfriend, happily married? She says:

"I woke up one morning and I just knew"
"Knew what?"
"What I was never sure of with you."

She says "It was meant to be, and I just kept thinking Tom was right. But it wasn't just me you were right about." He quits his dead-end job because of her and pursues a career in architecture, which was always his dream. In the end, he meets another girl at a job interview, realizes Summer was right, and he moves on, having learned about life from his 500 days with her.

I LOVED that ending because it's real. I was expecting another sugar-coated ending where she realizes she loves him and they live happily ever after. I thought that was where this was going. I got so excited when it got closer to the 500th day and she was married to someone else.

I can relate to her in more ways than are appropriate to share on the Internet. It's not that I don't believe in love, but the whole concept makes me uncomfortable. I don't like romance and I don't like the idea of being in a committed relationship. People tell me that one day I will meet someone who will think like me and it will finally feel right. I wish I could find someone who thinks like me.

This movie really made me think. It is going on the list of really great romantic movies.

How to Trick People into Thinking You're Good Looking

HAH. This is great. "There's no cure for ugly, but you can turn yourself into a human optical illusion."

How To Make People Think You're Hot - Watch more Funny Videos

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm an agnostic believer

I like to believe in things that are impossible to prove. I believe that Horton Hears a Who was right about people living on a tiny speck on a flower. On the little J key on my keyboard, I think it’s possible for a really tiny civilization like us to be living.

You think I’m crazy? Prove me wrong. Show me proof that ultra-mega-nano-microscopic people don’t exist. You can’t. There’s no way to know if they exist, but there’s also no way to know that they don’t exist either. You have the choice to believe it or not to believe it. How do you make your decision?

I was hit with the truth about Santa in Kindergarten. I went to a Catholic school, our religion teacher was a 70-year-old nun who actually wore the nun outfit, and she bluntly murdered part of our childhood with “You know Santa is just your mommy and daddy, right?”

I looked for a good opportunity to bring it up to my dad because I knew from movies that parents react funny when kids ask if Santa is real. I popped the question one school morning as I ate my cereal. He said “Of course Santa’s real. Why would she tell you that?” I knew he was lying, and I could tell by the look on his face that the question made him uncomfortable, but if my dad wanted me to believe in Santa, then I would.

I had no real proof of Santa, but I also had no proof that he wasn’t real either. The choice was up to me, and I chose to believe it for years after. I held out until 5th grade when my friends stopped believing and decided that it was time to let go of that part of my childhood. I never saw Santa as something that was definitely real or definitely not real. I saw him as something to believe or not to believe. This is also how I see God.

I believe in God. I believe that there is someone or something that watches over everyone and controls fate. I don’t believe this because I have proof of it. I believe it because I want to believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe it because, like I said about Santa, if there is no way to know the truth, you can choose to believe anything you want. You can make your own truth.

I didn’t think there was a word for the way I think. Last night, I found it. I’m an agnostic theist, someone who doesn’t know if God exists, thinks there is no way to know if God exists, but believes it anyway. That’s the definition of me. I know skeptics who refuse to believe in anything that can’t be proven, but what’s the point? In the end, we will all die, some of us believing that our lives were planned, intentional, and meaningful, and that our souls live on forever, and others that their lives were short blips in time, purposeless, meaningless, and forgettable.

When I decided on the title of this post, I googled "agnostic believer" to see if it was a real thing and I found this. This guy said exactly what I was trying to say, he just did it much better.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

My True Love

Oh baby.

I want you. I need you. I can't get you out of my mind. I know we just met, but I want to make you a part of my forever.