Thursday, June 30, 2011

Actual mental conversation that I had with myself on my drive to work this morning:

Self 1: "Is the bass up high enough?"

Self 2: "Is the rearview mirror vibrating?"

Self 1: "No."

Self 2: "Then no."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Washington: Part 2

For those of you just now catching up, make sure to read part 1 before continuing on with this post, because I'm just going to pick right up where part 1 left off.

We had pressing dinner engagements, so after the National Building Museum, we headed back to the metro, at which point we encountered these interesting fellows.


They were angry about abortion or divorce or something. Unfortunately, we didn't really have time to stick around and find out. We had a train to catch.


I apparently have problems with depth perception.

After running home for a few minutes, we headed back out for dinner at the Army Navy Club. Our hosts are members of the club and decided to take us out for an old-fashioned dinner experience. I'd never been out to a proper dinner club before, and it was definitely a fun experience. The servers did everything in a very particular fashion, and everything was right and proper and fancy. I had a really good time, although I was constantly worried that I was violating some sort of unknown element of dinner table etiquette.

Nervous smile.

I got the Asian-inspired halibut with baby bok choy. It was very good.

After dinner, we went upstairs and checked out the Army Navy Club's library. The library contains pretty much every book regarding politics and the military that has ever been written. It was really interesting. Also, we got to try on some old-school formal regalia.

Laura (our hostess) helping Kelley with the unruly headwear.

Kelley in the feather hat.

Kip (our host) and Dillon, ready for action.

After the library, we took an evening walk around the White House area. D.C. is a beautiful town at night, and it always surprises me how many people are still on the streets after dark. It's kind of funny, really. I feel safer in downtown D.C. after dark than I ever have in good old Columbia, SC. The fact that there are about ten kinds of police within the immediate vicinity at any given time probably helps a lot with that feeling.

On the way back to the metro station, we passed a Five Guys restaurant that had a Coke Freestyle machine set up inside. Even though we were about to get on a train that prohibits beverages, I had to stop inside. I doubt that there is enough demand to justify the price for these things in South Carolina right now, so I really wanted to try one out while I had the chance. We ended up having to pass the drink around to finish it off before boarding the metro to head home for the rest of the evening. 

If you ever see one of these, I definitely recommend the raspberry Coke.

The next morning, our group split up (boys and girls), and we went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum while the girls went to the mall to shop and get they hair did. We went to the lesser known branch of the Air and Space Museum, which was really cool, because all that I had seen was the museum downtown. The remote branch of the Air and Space Museum is basically just a huge, renovated hanger that contains one of each of most of the aircraft that have been used in the military since World War I. It also features dedicated sections for commercial and civilian aircraft, as well as spaceflight. As most of you would probably expect, the space exhibit was my favorite.

The space shuttle Enterprise currently resides in the museum. It was quite a sight.

After returning from the museum, Dillon and I ended up going out to the mall so that he could shop for some shoes. During this shoe-shopping, I ended up picking up a copy of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow for the PS3 for half price at the Sony Store. I also ended up paying more money than I ever intended for tea at an interesting store called Teavana. My experience in both the Sony Style store and Teavana was...strange, to say the least, but that is best saved for a later post.

We returned home for a while, and Kip eventually ended up making us a delicious chicken curry. After dinner, we went out to visit some of the historical monuments. We wanted to go at night, because the lights positioned around the monuments give them in a much more dramatic and powerful feel. I know that everyone has seen the monuments, and I hate to be "that guy," but here are some obligatory pictures of the monuments that we were able to see.

The Washington Monument

The Jefferson Memorial

Big ol' columns

The Jefferson Memorial Exterior

The Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln and his artistically protruding foot.

We got in from monument hopping at around 2:00 AM, and immediately passed out. We got up the next morning, packed our stuff, ate lunch, said our goodbyes, and then left very reluctantly. There was lots of very interesting conversation during the car ride home, but the only thing that I managed to document was this weird bell tower that we saw out in the middle of nowhere.

Kinda hard to see in the video, but from what we could tell, there was nothing around this strange artifice. Also, for the record, Kelley is not referring to the bell tower right before the video cuts.

Anyway, that's a basic rundown of our trip to D.C. I know that my description was pretty rushed and out of control, but I hate being that person who goes into every single detail about every single aspect of their trip. The trip itself also moved pretty fast, and the pace that we kept in real time during our stay was about the same speed as that depicted by the jumpiness of the post. It was crazy and altogether too short (none of us wanted to come back home), but I still had a really great time, nonetheless. It was definitely a nice break from working on engineering drawings in Pro/Engineer all day every day, and although I was initially worried about the trip filling me with forgotten memories of my childhood, I am really glad that I was able to go.

The long road home.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Washington: Part 1

So, as I've mentioned, I recently went to Washington D.C. with some friends of mine for a weekend vacation. It was a great time. We were staying with some relatives of the friends whom I accomponied, and we got into D.C. at about 5:00 AM this past Thursday morning. Our hosts were both high-ranking Air Force officials, one of which works in the Pentagon, so our Thursday was occupied mostly with going on a personally guided tour of the Pentagon's facilities. I obviously don't have any pictures of that, as they don't let you have electronic devices in the building, but it was a really cool experience.

The day after that, we went out on the town (specifically the Chinatown area) and essentially just meandered aimlessly. There's a lot to cover here, so I'll try to be brief so as to not make this post too lengthy. There are a few things from the trip that I'd like to talk about in more detail and in my regular writing style, but I will save those things for later posts.

As most would do, we started the day off by riding the metro into town.



 D.C. has a beautiful metro system.

After getting off the metro in Chinatown, we went to Urban Outfitters and shopped for a bit, and then proceeded to meander around aimlessly until something struck our fancy.


We eventually came across an interesting looking Cuban restaurant, and decided to eat lunch there.

Cuba Libre, Washington D.C.

The first and most important thing that I got here was their house mojito. It was fantastic. Cuba Libre uses fresh guarapa to sweeten their mojitos, meaning that they press the juice from raw sugarcane in-house every day. They also use real hierba buena, which is the traditional herb used in mojitos. It's a lot like mint, but is apparently not mint.

Dillon's food (poached Ahi tuna) was a work of art.

I had the sea bass.

Abby had octopus with a delicious (from what I'm told) truffle sauce.

Best meal that I've had in a long time.

And for dessert: Cuban espresso.

We were all intensely satisfied by our meal, and couldn't stop raving about how good it was, even two days after the fact. What started out as a weird, "let's just hop in here and see what's up" moment ended up being one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. I'm really glad that their sign just so happened to draw my interest. 

After lunch, we walked around for a bit longer and looked at some buildings before ending up at the National Building Museum.

I don't know what this building was, but it was gorgeous.

Building with an interesting gazebo thing on the top.

National Building Museum exterior.



We were absolutely astonished by the interior of this building.

The stairs in the museum were really old and worn down. Materials Science at work, ladies and gentlemen.

Engineering art!

I think that to keep this post manageable, I am going to split it into two parts. There is more on the way, but this is as good a part as any to leave off, I think. Stay tuned for part 2!
Something has happened.

Something is different.

Something within me has shifted.

I can not yet tell if it is good or bad.
So apparently when I said "sparse" in my previous post, I really meant "completely absent."

My time in the capitol was a bit of a whirlwind, and we stayed pretty busy.

I did not even have a chance to sit down and write during the trip, much less post things onto the blog. I got back from D.C. last night, and I am looking forward to posting about the trip later tonight.

I wish that I had a teaser picture or story or something of the sort, but I woke up late this morning and did not think to grab my camera in my haste to get to work.

My camera actually broke while I was on the trip (yes, my brand new camera that I had bought four days beforehand), and although it was still mostly functional, I tried to limit my usage of the device so as to not ruin my chances of returning the thing. As a result, I don't have as many pictures and videos as I had hoped to procure, but I do have some.

I'm trying to decide whether I want to pull the "my experience with this device is ruined" approach with Best Buy's customer service and just ask for my money back, or if I just want to exchange the camera and hope that it won't happen again. It's likely that the problem I'm having is just a fluke, and there's nothing online about it, which leads me to believe that it is an isolated incident. However, although I like the camera that I bought, I've been thinking that I may want to look around a bit more and consider some other options.

If anybody has any suggestions for a good point-and-shoot camera, I readily welcome your input. I'm looking for something relatively small and compact that's easy to carry around (if not in a pocket, then at least in a small day bag) and is not highly involved. In other words, I want something that you can take out, turn on, take a picture, turn off, and put away. I'm also looking for something that shoots easy-to-upload but high quality video. The video is actually the main focus for me, as I already have a relatively decent still camera. When I started shopping for cameras, I was looking for a blog-type pocket camera like the Sony Bloggie or the Kodak Playtouch, and I've been thinking about exchanging mine for the unfortunately christened Bloggie, but it would obviously be nice to have both types of camera in one device if possible to cut down on bulk.

I feel like the Casio TRYX (the camera I bought last week) is a good option for a combined device, as it shoots relatively good stills and videos, but its multi-functionality means that it is lacking in some areas, and I'm starting to wonder if I wouldn't be better off just buying a super portable, single-function video camera to do a little real-time documentin' here and there. Also, when I bought the TRYX, I completely overlooked the fact that although it can record in full 1080p HD video, it does not compress the video files for storage, so it holds less than half of what a pocket camera of the same memory capacity would. Not really a huge problem, seeing as the battery life is only about as long as how much video it can hold, anyway, but it can still be a little bit of a hassle to always remember to empty your camera out every time that you charge it.

I think that, as of right now, I'm leaning towards the Bloggie, although I am a little hesitant about only being able to charge the battery through my computer, as my computer has been on the fritz for months now. The Bloggie hasn't gotten rave reviews online, but of the cameras of its sort, I think that it's the one that I like the best.

I hate buying electronics. Professional internet reviews are often too particular for the typical consumer, and the value from the simplicity and "human-ness" of user reviews is often outweighed by the average-skewing score variations from morons who post things like: "I dropped it in my bathtub and now it doesn't work. 1 out of 5 stars." I wish that I could just do what I did with the new television that I bought last summer and just walk into a store knowing what sort of features I want and just buy the thing that best fits my interests and price range. This sort of "ignorant consumerism" works wonders for buyer's remorse, but cameras are, unfortunately, a lot less straightforward than televisions, and I'd hate to end up buying a piece of crap when I could have gotten something awesome for the same amount of money.

This post is reminding me of this TED video by Barry Schwartz:




Anyway, if anybody has any suggestions or camera-related advice, feel free to share in the comments or send me an email at the address listed in the sidebar.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In 90 minutes, I will be on the road to Washington D.C. for the weekend with some friends of mine.

I am very excited.

Growing up in Baltimore, I took D.C. for granted. It was only about 30 minutes away, assuming ideal traffic conditions, and it was nothing to hop in the car and zip down to the capitol for the day.

Then my family moved south.

It has been eight years since my last visit.

I can't wait to see how things have changed.

I can't wait to see how I have changed.

I want to write while I'm there, but I think that planning on actually doing so is unrealistic, so my posts will likely be sparse until the very end of the weekend.

I will try to remember to take pictures.
I went to the movies last night and saw Super 8. I was excited about the film when I first learned of it (I really like both Abrams and Spielberg), but was left unimpressed by the trailers. I thought that it was just going to be a typical "smash-and-grab" monster movie, until several of my friends started seriously recommending it. Trusting in their sage advice of "holy shit, Super 8" and "Super 8 is the best movie ever," I decided to give it a chance.

Those of you who have not seen this movie yet really should go see it. It's probably one of the best movies that I've seen in a while, and definitely the best of the summer (Although I did also really like X-Men: First Class). It's all very carefully polished, with high production values and a well thought-out plot. The acting is also really good, especially considering that the movie is centered around a group of children. I typically hesitate to go see a movie in which most of the screen time is occupied by child actors, but all of the kids in this movie did an excellent job, and I would even venture to say that their performances were better than a lot of their adult counterparts in other movies of the same type.

It's just really good. It's a bit of a thriller, so if you're really opposed to movies with the occasional jump-scare, you might want to think twice. But there is more to this movie than just startling moments. I'm generally not a big fan of jump-scare style suspense, and I still had a great time.

So go see it if you get a chance. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The dichotomy between the desires of my body and the desires of my mind is starting to break me.

I can feel my grip weakening.

I can feel the energy accumulate.

I can feel it race around inside of myself, leaving small cracks in my mind as it ricochets from one thought to the next.

And through these cracks like a pressurized vapor, the energy rushes out of me.

I can feel it slip through in my speech.

That hopelessly ruined sentence.

That misplaced word.

That unprovoked lapse into verbal incompetence.

I can feel it slip through in my movements.

That loss of dexterity.

That shaky uncertainty.

That unrelenting restlessness.

I can feel it slip through.

I am losing control.

I need to get out of here.

Out of this place.

I need to get out of myself for a while.

I need time to figure out why this is getting worse.

No...not time.

Help.

I need help.

And maybe not even that.

Maybe just...company.

Someone to reach out and touch me from time to time.

Someone to remind me that I am real.

For as long as I can remember, I have been doing this alone.

I have chosen not to impose it upon others against their will.

I have tried to help maintain the peace and tranquility of the happy lives around me.

I have tried not to upset the balance.

I have largely kept this to myself.

And I have come a long way.

It no longer feels dangerous.

It does not frighten me as it did when I was a child.

But I don't know how much longer I can contain these screams.


I can't stop listening to this.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I got a new camera. The Casio TRYX. It shoots high speed video. I've been having a lot of fun with that so far.







Boogita-boogita-boogita this might be the best album that I have ever bought without listening to first! I picked it up from a record store this weekend based solely on the cover art and its grouping in the "trance" section, and it is turning out to have been an incredibly good decision.

Delicious.
That part of my life is over.

That part of my life ended with her.

No, I never got over it.

No, I don't want to talk about her.

No, there's not "somebody out there for me."

No, I'm not a naive and bitter young man.

No, I don't want to move on and find somebody else.

No, It's not healthy.

Now please, leave me alone to my science.

My happiness is not important to me.

But my potential to contribute is.

I don't expect anyone to want this.

This thing that I have become.

So please, just leave me alone to my science.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Okay.

We get it.

Ryan Reynolds is a very attractive man.

None of us will ever be as attractive as Ryan Reynolds.

We get it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I have reached a decision.

I am going to pursue an advanced degree in materials science.

Where I will go from there is still uncertain.

Research, most likely.

I don't know.

But there is one thing of which I am certain.

Polymers take my breath away.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I have never understood how people can, even for a moment, take the anti-evolutionary argument from improbability seriously.

The probability of an event gives you no right whatsoever to draw conclusions about the truth of its occurrence.

Probabilistic calculations may be done and seemingly incriminating numbers and estimates may be presented, but the only valuable information to be gleaned from the results is how often something is likely to occur.

Yes, the approximated likelihood of life as complex as human kind originating through naturalistic means is very small.

It is a staggeringly small number.

We all agree on that.

But that does not mean that it did not happen.

In fact, it literally can not mean that it did not happen.

Because it did happen.

It happened right here on Earth.

It's not "just a theory."

The evidence is overwhelming.

We evolved.

End of story.

To base one's beliefs solely on the mathematical probabilities of events rather than on the evidence for or against them is foolishness of the worst sort.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I need to write a thing here soon.

Work and recent family responsibilities have been killing my creative hobby time.

I have been trying to finish writing down a dream in my physical journal for the past four days.

I dreamed the dream this past Friday.

Only half of the dream has been transferred onto the paper, and it really wasn't a terribly long dream.

Not the interesting parts, at least.

I can't count the number of times this summer that I have opened my journal  to begin writing, only to have to close it immediately because some new or more pressing thing has decided to occur at that very same moment.

Staring carefully at CAD software all day really takes it out of you, too.

Mentally, at least.

I oftentimes just don't have the intellectual energy to sit down and write in the evenings, and I usually just default to playing some mindless videogame until I fall asleep.

It's really starting to frustrate me.

I miss writing so much.

Forget women.

I need more words in my life.

...

Although more women wouldn't hurt, either.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Nothing ever changes for me. You're the one who's concerned."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nerve Endings

I can still feel you.

I can still feel the curvature of your back against the undersides of my forearms.

I can still feel your hands resting, pressing, sliding against my chest.

I can feel your legs around me.

Your neck against my lips.

I can feel your knuckles.

And how tightly they locked between mine.

I can still feel the gentleness with which you whispered my name.

As though you were afraid that it would shatter if spoken too quickly.

I can still feel your searing gaze.

Your hands pulling through my hair.

Your energy.

Your happiness.

Your body against mine.

The way that you asked for more.

Every fingertip.

Every touch.

Every movement.

Every breath.

I can still feel your smile, twisted in ecstasy.

I can still feel everything.

I can still feel everything, and it makes me want to tear off my skin.

Saint Veronika

"They found an empty bottle on her windowsill; the day her mother lost her sleeping pills. She was sick and tired of being invisible; hard to see in color when you're miserable."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I need to stop reading blogs about other peoples' sex lives.

All that they do is serve as a harsh reminder of my complete lack of one.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Manifesto

There is no happiness in this view of life.

There is only this cold, perpetual discomfort.

There are days when I doubt my ability to keep myself alive.

Days when the breath within my lungs is the only thing motivating me to keep going.

People are wrong.

Time heals nothing.

The loneliness only intensifies.

This dark potential locked away within myself grows stronger with every minute of every day.

But...so does the hope.

The hope that one day things will be better for all of us.

The hope that those who are to come after us will not have to suffer as we have.

The hope that my writings might help those who share in this misery to feel even marginally less alone.

It is a hope that overrides all other compulsions.

So...I must regulate.

I must keep myself in check.

I must stay alive.

I did not ask for this.

Nobody does.

This is not what I wanted from my life.

But there is truth now.

The confusion is gone.

There is no more fear.

There is truth.

And there is clarity.

How could I go back?

How could I ever go back?
Intelligent design is not a vaild scientific theory and it should not be treated as one.

It is, at best, nothing more than a philosophical viewpoint supported by cunningly constructed straw-man arguments.

Science demands quantifiable data and repeatable results.

Pointing out the gaps left by a pre-established theory and defaulting to hastily deduced conclusions do not validify a theory as scientific.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Stop relying on these meager words.

Speak to me with your body.

Speak to me with those eyes.
"Waking up, zeroed in on medicine. Am I waking up at all today? Seeing lights, feeling pain; there's my cure, on ice. I can walk, but I will crawl there. I will crawl there."

Gosh, I love Alkaline Trio.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I thought that I had worked it down to the point where it didn't hurt me anymore.

I thought that I had at least refined it into an empty hollowness within myself; that I had smoothed away some of those sharp edges.

I thought that I could handle it.

I thought a lot of things.

But I was wrong.

I was very, very wrong.