Dec 31, 2006

On Gift Cards

I sometimes wonder about the recent proliferation of gift cards as an acceptable form of gifting. Where, exactly, does it lie in the food chain of presents? The cash gift is, of course, at the bottom - it's either the gift from the generous aunt or uncle or grandparent that believes that you'd know best what you want, and should buy it yourself, or it's the hasty gift from the friend who forgot about your birthday until approximately ten minutes ago. Normal gifts fall higher up, more or less, depending on how personalized the gift is. College apparel? Not so high. Book relating to inside joke or personal experience with letter written inside to the receiver? Much higher.
So, the gift card. One one hand, it's probably better than cash - at least the giver thought about where you frequently shop, and/or where you'll soon spend money. On the other hand, if they're giving you essentially money, then wouldn't it be more considerate just to hand you the money and let you use it where you most need it? But what if the point of the gift card is that you won't utilize the money to buy groceries? What if the point is that the money has already been spent at the GAP, and you now have the choice of exactly which luxury to squander it on? Perhaps the real meaning of the gift card is for you to not feel guilty about spending money somewhere where you wouldn't normally spend it.
It has, after all, already been spent.

Dec 22, 2006

On Tea

I had a bad dream last night. I had (somehow) programmed together a world where the seasons actually changed (this was a main design feature), yielding ice that formed and melted, temperatures that changed, differing day lengths - the works. I was extremely proud of myself.
The people who lived in my world weren't quite so happy. Instead of it being the idyllic, peaceful community I had envisioned, things began to go awry. There were attacks, killings. Eventually, even the cops cracked under the pressure of their charges being murdered, one by one, and began to perceive everyone as a threat, slaughtering indiscriminantly as well.
Every time a murderer hunted, I was there, watching him stalk his prey ruthlessly, and I wondered what was wrong with my world, that people had to do such things.
Every time someone snapped, I was there, watching their mind and their body as two separate incarnations of themself, and watching the former convince the latter to do terrible things.
And every time an innocent person had a gun pointed at them and the trigger pulled, I was there, looking out through their eyes, wondering why it had to be me, and sobbing at the unfairness of it all.
Finally, it was spring. The ice was melting. The last few inhabitants of the town were either dead or dying, having shot each other in a horrific encounter only moments earlier, and the air was once again silent, save only for a piteous moan from one of the wounded, and the flowing, gushing sound of the small, newly thawed waterfall.
I woke, yes, with a start, and lay in bed for a few minutes, clutching my comforter, which wasn't living up to its name nearly as much as I needed at that moment. There was no one nearby to hold me, nothing to give me solace from my own mind.
I looked at the time - it was 6:23 am. My mother had to be awake, at least, by now - she had to be at work at something like 7:30. I went downstairs, and while in the sink lay a used mug, by the stove waited the rest of the pot of tea my mother had made.
She had left for work already, so the tea was mine - I poured myself a cup, and sat down at the computer, ready to record the unsung fate of my ethereal world.

Dec 20, 2006

On Returning Home

You're not surprised by the things that you expect when you return home after a long time. For example, walking into my house, and putting my backpack and guitar down seemed perfectly normal - I've done that hundreds of times after school.
But the doorknobs...the doorknobs threw me off. At Penn the doorknobs are all either handles or large globe-like constructions. The doorknobs at home are round, small, and flat. Also, my dogs smell (expectedly) faintly of dog, although I think that after less than 24 hours, I'm already used to the smell again.
It's the small things that get you - when you're not thinking about something and then it's different. I realized this when I reached into our cabinet for a bowl, and the big bowl and the small bowls and the plates were all exactly how I'd left them - but how easy would it have been for them to be different? I would have been completely derailed. Like when I reached into the kitchen drawer for a slip of paper from the pad that was usually there, but was now expended, the cardboard backing long since disposed of.
But still, when I look around and see the remnants of the paper on the kitchen table, the pages folded open to the crossword and sudoku puzzles, and a few scattered squeaky toys on the floor for my dogs, and the pot with the dregs of the tea from this morning idling in the kitchen, I realized that, thankfully, some things never change.

Dec 17, 2006

On Simultaneousness

There's something about the word "simultaneously" that conjures up an impression of immense skill. The implication that not only can one do something, but can do it twice at the same time is staggering: eat two sandwiches...simultaneously! Bounce two basketballs...simultaneously! Write a paper and talk on the phone...simultaneously! Play two trumpets...simultaneously! Anyone who can do two things that require a reasonable amount of skill simultaneously can pretty much boast that not only do they have an amount of skill equal to the two combined, but can actually multiply the two skill levels together, and put that on their resume. I'd hire them.

On Sitting

I can't just sit. I have to sit in some strange, contorted position, else I feel uncomfortable. For example, on a couch, I typically sit sideways across the arms. I was just reading a book for an extended period of time on a couch, and while I started out sitting upright, I went through gradual phases and ended up swiveled around 180 degrees so that my feet were dangling over the back somewhere, and my head was next to one of the armrests.
Same thing with chairs - just "sitting" is so bland. I have to sit cross-legged or cross one leg over the other, or at least cross my feet.
The same thing happens with laying down. If I'm trying to go to sleep, I can't just lay on my back with my arms by my side and my legs straight out. I always feel somewhat dead when I do that.
You can learn a lot about someone by how they sit. There are the open leg sitters: those ones who always look like they're leaning forward, their arms resting on their somewhat spread apart legs, doing something (anything) intently. Then there are those who will put their arms on the seat back of anyone who's close by. That always somewhat unnerves me: did they sit by me on purpose so they could do that? What if I wanted to do that myself? I can't lean back now - that would result in contact between my neck and their arm - completely awkward.
There are, of course, those who don't sit. They just won't: "Oh, do you want to sit down?" - "No thanks, I'm fine", even though they're not going anywhere. It's as though they want to make sure they can manage a quick escape, should the situation require it.
Arms are troublesome appendages; they always get in the way when sitting, especially if there's nothing to be done with them. If there's no food, no coffee, no tea, no hand to hold, no video game to play...what do you do with them? They just awkwardly idle about - there should, instead, be some sort of way to retract your arms when they're not in use, or, conversely, some accepted social practice of ways to link your arms the person sitting next to you in these types of situations. Instead, people check their cell phones, play with their keys...anything to keep their arms busy.

Oct 11, 2006

On Showers

College, like so many other things, is a mixed bag. But one thing I'd really, really like to change is to have decent showers here. Seriously. They're just disgusting. I don't even want to talk about, for fear that I'll just spontaneously vomit. I often feel that I'm filthier when I leave the bathroom than when I entered, albeit a tad waterlogged.
Now I'm no stranger to strange showers. In fact, in Germany the showers were far more interesting than here. When we stayed in the hostel in Berlin (meant for backpackers and such), the shower was activated by pressing a button. It also only stayed on if the button was pressed. Thus, if you were taking a shower, you had to twist and turn to keep at least a finger on that button, and perhaps take a few risky hand-switches in the middle. I assumed that the problem there would be that the water was too cold. It's a relatively cold country, and so they could run out of hot water, or any number of associated problems. To my suprise, the water temperature was fine; pleasantly hot. The only problem was, it increased in temperature as time progressed. So after one minute it was warm, after five it was hot, after ten it was scorching, and by God if you stood in there for over twenty minutes you'd have third degree burns all over your body.
When I got to my German exchange partner's house, I figured the situation would be easier, especially after I got to the shower and discovered the familiar red and blue labelled knobs for water. The caveat, however, was that the blue knob released hot water, while the red knob yielded...hotter water.
In any case, I'd still take scalding water over a shower that looks like it came out of a dumpster. The air fare home to Texas is almost worth it just to take a clean shower.

Oct 10, 2006


It’s 9:30 on Tuesday morning, and one of my favorite parts of the week. It’s the mere hour between my 8:30-9:30 math recitation and my 10:30-noon music class. Since the buildings are relatively far from my room, I pass the time at the nearby Starbucks at the corner of 34th and Walnut.
This hour, every week, is a constant. No matter that I stayed up until 3 the night before, never mind that my grade on my math midterm is abysmal, and not to worry that I haven’t done the homework due in marketing tonight.
This hour is a constant. I consciously make myself not work during this hour, not stress, not worry, not fret, and not be bothered by the myriad of things that aren’t quite right in the world. Right now, during this hour, this constant, it’ll all turn out fine.
To the right of my laptop is a tall hot chocolate (they were out of caramel apple cider – I’ll try again next week). To the left is a chocolate croissant. It’s not always hot chocolate and a chocolate croissant – in fact, it seldom is. Last week it was a cappuccino and a slice of pumpkin loaf. The week before that it was something different, and next week it will likely be something different. The details don’t have to be constant – just the hour.
The music of the moment is something country-bluesy, conveniently playing on the speakers around the store: just soft enough to be unobtrusive, but just loud enough to resonate.
The hour is just long enough to finish a drink and something for breakfast – that’s why it’s an hour and nothing different.
I haven’t ordered straight coffee here yet – I always feel like I might offend the barista with the simplicity of my order. The people who are ordering less than ten feet from me seem to have studied their whole lives for the moment that they step up to the counter, make eye contact, and recite their perfectly personalized panorama of flavors.
There are two entrances to this Starbucks, and the small table that I’m sitting at looks out the window at one of them. The people who come in are an interesting gaggle (What do you call a group of coffee addicts? The answer: a roast), running the gamut from businessmen who down their triple shots with a kind of manly zest, to students who grab a caffe latte before class. They enter in different ways, too: the 54 year old professor walks in steadily and calmly – class can’t start without him; while the 19 year old international relations student with a midterm in two minutes rushes in and gapes at the line – class can and will start without her.
And the teenager with a backpack who orders a simple hot chocolate and chocolate croissant enters with a kind of reverence and inhales deeply once he steps over the threshold, because this is his hour – his constant.

Sep 26, 2006

Open Facebook

So facebook is now open to everyone. Know what I suggest? Stop complaining and use those privacy settings. The first thing I did was go through every single privacy page and limit what people can see about me in regional networks and create a limited profile. Even on facebook, anything online is still online, and there are ways for people to get at it. Anyone who thinks that they can put all sorts of things online and expect them to stay private is a fool.
But please, please, please Mark: don't sell out to Yahoo. I don't want to see "My Yahooligans!" underneath "My Groups".
See y'all online. Yeah I said it. Y'all.

Sep 21, 2006

Fork and Knife

Auditions for Fork and Knife Improv are this Sunday, at 2 PM. Location is forthcoming shortly - contact me for more information.

Sep 18, 2006


Hello world (yes, I'm taking computer science). I'm at the University of Pennyslvania (not Penn State, you know), and things have never been better. Or worse. I'm not sure.
In fact, college is pretty much a mixed bag of good and bad. At the moment, the current "bad" is the fact that the restrooms have a wonderful, pungently odorous aroma of feces and urine. Together. Mixed. Merged in some sort of unholy union of human waste. It's hard to breathe because of the overpowering reek in there. I was in there less than a minute and, I kid you not, my nose stuffed itself up. That's right, it took a hit to protect the rest of my body. Thank you nose - your sacrifice will not be soon forgotten.
Philadelphia, too, is a mixed bag. The Penn campus is half-in, half-out of Philly, so the mix of students and locals makes for an interesting potpourri wherever you go. I'm going to whip out my camera and start taking pictures soon, and perhaps posting them either here, or making a new album on my facebook profile (which is linked to on the right, and on which this blog is now being syndicated to). Anyways, the number of things that have happened here are almost too many to count. A few of the highlights: I have a good roommate - very chill, in general, even when he bashed his leg open and pools of blood flowed all over our rug and floor. My class aren't too hard, except for Math, but I think I can muscle through it. The gym here has a 40' rock climbing wall, which I think I'm going to start frequenting. I didn't make the debate team, but I am joining an improv group, which promises to be a lot of fun.
That's about it for tonight, so I'll leave you with a question:
What's YOUR favorite cereal?

Sep 12, 2006

Top 10 Games Of All Time

I read an article describing the top 5 games of all time, but most of them are pretty obscure. So here are my top 10 games of all time, in no particular order.

Super Smash Bros.
Half-Life 2
Counter-Strike: Source
Halo 2
Unreal Tournament
Unreal Tournament 2004
Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge
Battlefield 1942

There are so many other good ones, but these are the ones I really enjoyed playing (and some I still play).

Aug 22, 2006

Study Links Music With Sex

Quoted from The Week [volume 6, issue 273, page 21]:

"Researchers for the Rand Corporation conducted interviews with 1,461 adolescent volunteers over a period of three years, asking questions about music choices and how they affected kids' sex lives. They found that the teens who were bombarded with sexy lyrics and degrading portrayals of women in raunchy songs had allowed those messages to sink in. Of those who often listened to hip-hop and other explicit music, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who listened to less provocative music. Researcher Steve Martino said..."We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions, and makes them less thoughtful" about their sexual decision, Martino tells the Associated Press...17-year-old Natasha Ramsay [says] " is the music" [even though teens will try to deny it]."

Now wait just one moment here. Teens who listen to music that emphasizes sex tend to have sex sooner and more often. All right, that can be factually established. But let's look at a few more facts here. The study was conducted on teen volunteers, ages 12 to 17, via phone. The first problem arises when you ask, which ones volunteered? That can skew results. The second, and most major problem, arises when you put this into a chicken-and-egg light. Isn't it possible that the teens who are already likely to engage in sexual activity earlier listen to that type of music? From my experience among my friends, that certainly seems likely.
In other reports on this study, I've seen a few admissions of this omission, but not nearly enough - it should be mentioned in every article this report is mentioned in. A basic caution in analyzing statistics is not to mistake a cause for an effect, however much you'd like to be able to publish those results.
One article expressed disgust that teenagers would get their sex ed from explicit rap and hip-hop songs, and that only 19 percent had "good communication with a trusted adult about sex." Since when has a large percentage of kids talked freely and openly with adults about sex? It's a taboo subject in our society.
Like most things, the truth is probably a balance between cause and effect on both sides. I welcome discussion on this in the comments below, but acknowledge the other side, like so many of these articles have failed to do.

Aug 19, 2006

Dear Nirav

In my daily perusal of the newspaper, I usually read "Dear Abby" in passing (because it's right underneath the comics). What I've found is shocking: Abby does indeed promote intolerance. For example:
One day, I saw a column about a woman who, while having happily married parents and a six-year long relationship with the perfect man for her, wanted to run every time marriage was talked about. Abby's response? It's perfectly natural! Having such happily married parents sets the bar quite high for your own marriage.
All right, that's fine. But take a look at another day.
The column was about a letter sent in again by a woman, but this time, her boyfriend was the one who "couldn't commit". I read further, expecting a reasoned response from Abby showing the woman how her boyfriend might have had parental issues to work through. But no! Instead, this was cause for the woman to "keep her options open". Keep her options open? That brings to mind a Desperate Housewives-esque (the version of the show that non-viewers assume, not the version it actually is) fling with all the pool boys and milkmen in sight.
So, this double-standard can be two things. It can either be Abby always siding with the letter-writer (which does often happen), or it can be Abby always taking the woman's side. I'd like to know which one it is.

Now that that's over, I'd like to note that this is just an examination of a couple letters to Abby. In truth, I can't even find the first one anymore - it may have been in some other article. Also in truth, Abby's viewpoints are generally socially liberal and pretty dead-on. In searching for that first article online, I ran across all sorts of critiques of Abby's columns, ranging from taking offense on her view that homosexuality is genetic to everything else. Her advice is typically sound and open-minded. But this blog post was fun to write nonetheless.

Aug 16, 2006


Right. So I'm attempting to make my USB drive work. My USB mouse works in that same USB port. My small JumpDrive plugs into it. When I go to Device Manager, it shows up as JumpDrive. The only problem is, it doesn't show up under My Computer, which is, of course, where it needs to be.
After making my computer jump through flaming hoops and flip backwards over hungry lions to try and access my USB drive, I finally swallow my pride and click on "Troubleshoot...". This helps, in the sense that it doesn't help at all. The troubleshooter asks me inane questions like, "Is your USB device connected?"
Finally, I go to Windows Update, as a last resort. The website then scanned my system for the ActiveX controls that would allow it to check whether or not I have the latest version of the Windows Update software updater. Then it intstalled those ActiveX controls, and then found that that I didn't have that latest updater software. So it installed the updater software, and then updated my version of Windows Update. Then, after all of this, I could finally see which updates were available for my computer.
I gave up.

Jul 31, 2006

Assorted Thoughts

I returned to my computer today to find it happily resting on the Welcome screen. When I left it, it had been logged in and I had a few windows open. Not so anymore - it had done it again: my computer had restarted in my absense, leaving me clueless as to why or when this had happened. The silent killer. As much as I like technology, any computer that I own seems to never be fast enough for me, or have strange and inexplicable driver or compatability issues that plague me throughout my ownership of said machine.

Ever wonder why the Italians made antipasti an appetizer? They couldn't combine it with the pasta in the main course, or the universe would implode.

A friend asked me when you would possibly use calculus outside of an extremely technical engineering job. Here's the answer: Suppose that a cannon was being fired at you, and you had, for some reason, a graphing calculator, graph paper, and various writing instruments. Given the angle of the cannon, the amount of gunpowder, the friction of the barrel, the weight of the cannonball, and about a dozen other tiny measurements that, while seemingly small, nevertheless make an important impact on the flight of aforementioned cannonball, you could conceivably figure out the path of the projectile in time to move out of the way.
And even then, you would still not use calculus.

It's likely that I won't end up using any of my AP exam scores to receive credit for classes at the University of Pennsylvania. What a waste of time.

My schedule for Penn was incredibly hard to create. It seems that the course timetable is designed for people to take four courses per semester, instead of five, because every time I tried to fit in the fifth course, it'd end up with me having classes for about ten hours straight.

Flight to Philadelphia, PA on August 26, 2006 at 7:55 AM. Next time I come back will be winter break, starting December 21.

That's all, folks.

Jul 18, 2006

A Letter

Dear Movie Writers,

As an individual who feels the pressure of a certain amount of social responsibility, I feel that I must inform you of a fact that has been percolating in my mind for some time now.

Guys getting kicked in the balls isn't really that funny anymore.

For the past half-century, and even before that, scrotal impact has been a mainstay of the slapstick comedy form of movies. That, in itself, is acceptable. Where throwaway gags and shallow puns abound, men being kicked, punched, or otherwise struck between their legs are sure to fit completely in place.

My conscience, however, takes issue with the spread of testicular crushings into any and all other genres. It seems as though it's become almost a requirement for any movie that even remotely is intended to be funny to have someone's nuts bashed in at some point, coupled with a long and drawn-out reaction from the victim.

It's really not that humorous anymore.

Granted, the fact that the mechanics and setup of the male anatomy make it possible to completely incapacitate a victim with a swift kick to the groin is interesting in and of itself, but put into the larger context of a scene in a movie, does not always have comedic value.

Finally, the strange contortions that the sequence of events in a scene sometimes has to go through in order to facilitate the genitalial crunching of some hapless bystander often give a movie more strange turns than the driving routes Tom Cruise plans out to avoid the media seeing his new baby.

I felt that it was my responsibility to tell you this, in hopes that you may think of some new ways to infuse humor into a scene.

Thank you,

Nirav Sanghani

Jul 5, 2006

"Cut Short"

I was just shown an article in the Houston Press today by Todd Spivak, an article that resides online. You can read it here. It's the full story of Pavlos Karnezis's explusion and later readmittance to Hightower High School, along with the way that certain people complicated the situation almost beyond repair. Read it and spread it around, please.

Jul 4, 2006

Still Funny

This is still funny, every time I read it:

A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you're a great guy, but I don't like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we're not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we're going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn't work out, we'll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.

Jun 25, 2006

I'm Back!

And probably not much better than ever. Germany, however, was amazingly awesome. I can't wait to go back. The FIFA World Cup was awesome. Bonn was awesome. The Deep Purple concert I went to there was awesome. It was all awesome. And hilarious. Something about going on a trip with Andrew Kulha makes it inherently funny.
Want proof? Here are some bona fide quotes from the trip:

-"How long do you get for a dollar?"
-"Four minutes."

-"We need someone on top of her!"

-"I feel like I've got the whole world in my pants."

-"Okay, so you get her from behind, and I'll take a picture."

Of course, it was only fun until someone got hurt. Then it was hilarious. Here's the list of people who had to go to the doctor. Interestingly enough, it alternated between Germans and Americans.

Erwin - broken collarbone
Marc - broken finger
Nirav - damaged knee
Marcus - allergies
Alex - ear problems
Felix - allergies
Kyle - bronchitis

Now I can't forget the fact that when you've got thirty teenagers stuck together for three weeks, hormones are bound to flare up in all of their awkward flirting glory. During our collective time together in Houston and Bonn, there were no fewer than twenty attempted hookups. I think only about four succeeded. Suckers.

Thanks, by the way, for everyone who came to my graduation party. It was a ton of fun. Of course, I'm starting to think that graduation parties are mainly for parents. Guests come, congratulate the graduate, and then naturally turn to the parents: "Not bad!".
Even so, my party was pretty lucrative for me too. I made more money from my party than I've made in my entire life combined. I'm thinking I should graduate more often - maybe go for a victory lap at Hightower.

Just kidding. Ain't no way I'm going back there. That ship has sailed...or perhaps "sunk" might be more appropriate.

Finally, my sister is going to New York City to be a middle school science teacher for the next two years. Here is the link to the blog that she's keeping of her experiences. The link is also going to the right hand side of my page, underneath the archives section. Enjoy!

Jun 6, 2006

Von Deutschland

In English, the title is ´From Germany´.

So that, my friends, is that. High school´s over, and I now am in the middle of a foreign country, having the time of my life. Or I would be, if my meniscus wasn´t damaged. Yes, that´s right, for the first time in my life, I have a major injury. Aside from that, there´s way too much that we´ve done and seen to relate it all here, so I´ll just let this post finish here.

My English has degenerated here. And this keyboard is hard to type on (the y and z keys are switched, among other things).

Auf Wiedersehen!

May 26, 2006

The Speech (uncensored)

(Uncensored portions are in bold and italics. At graduation, I added in a thank you to Mrs. Paquin for letting us do Guitar Club, and also nods to Denise Tanner and Rod Soto; all at the end of my thank-yous. Also, I added in a request for a round of applause for our parents before I thanked my own parents.)

Thank you, Joy. Joy’s been a wonderful friend ever since freshman year. I must have cost her hundreds of dollars of gas when she got her license a year before me, and she graciously gave me rides everywhere. Damn, we're huge nerds.

A good friend of mine has a theory that each one of us has at least one hundred years to live. One hundred years; that’s a long time. And throughout these last four years, whenever I’ve been stressed about homework and projects, or burdened with drama and conflicts, I try to remember: I still have at least eighty years left. That’s a long time too. And whatever is happening now, whether it’s schoolwork or personal issues, that it won’t matter much, in eighty years. Or even in forty years.

But this, Class of 2006, this graduation will matter in forty years and eighty years too. This departure from one stage of our lives to the next, this end of the beginning; this will matter.

So let go of all the little things that won’t matter, my fellow classmates; forgive that nasty argument in spring, and that bad break-up last summer, but value the best friend that stuck up for you. Forget the time all of your books fell out of your backpack in the middle of the hallway in front of the counselor’s suite before second period, and instead remember the time you saw it happen to me, and couldn’t stop laughing until lunch.

Let go of the bumps and bruises of the last four years, and instead revel in the growth that we’ve all experienced. We’ve all gone from insecure, somewhat naïve freshman, to confident, mature seniors. Take pride in that, ’06; that’s the victory we’ve all won together.

Some of you may disagree that I've successfully become confident and mature. Be that as it may, I know I would definitely not be making this speech if not for a lot of wonderful people.

First, I need to thank my friends. I knew none of you when I entered high school, and yet now I feel like I have a second family. I’m continually amazed at your generosity, open-mindedness, and overall kindness. Many of you literally walked up to me and made me be your friend, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Specifically, the three people who have inescapeably changed my life during high school: Jordan Marbach, who is the most intrinsically nice person I have ever known, and showed me the virtue of sincerity; Ha Nguyen, who played therapist for me so many times, and taught me more about everything than I could have ever learned on my own; and Luis Diez, who, along with being an amazing friend, introduced me to guitar, and thus, to myself.

Next, the members and sponsors of the organizations I’ve been in: Speech & Debate, Math & Science, Guitar Club (which rocked out at its first concert last week), German Club, and Orchestra. It is these clubs, and all the others, that make Hightower known everywhere as a badass competitor and a good sport, from academics to athletics to everything in between. And then my teachers and (certain) administrators, especially the ones whom I’ve known for a few years; all of you have made learning fun for me, and I can only hope to be lucky enough to learn from professors even the slightest bit like you. I can't not mention here Denise Tanner and Rod Soto, two of the most amazing teachers I've ever had the honor of knowing. They've both been so much more than teachers to me: they've been my mentors, my friends; everything.

To save the best for last, I have to thank my family. Those of you who have met them know that they’re wonderfully kind, extremely supportive, and have a wacky sense of humor to boot. Everything that I’ve accomplished, I dedicate to you. My grandmother, who has recently flown in from India to be here; you’ve spoiled me as only a grandmother can, and it’s been wonderful having you staying with us on and off for the past few years.

To my parents; whenever I think about the far future, I’m scared that I won’t be able to be as good a parent as you two were to me. To my father; as clichéd as it sounds, when I finally do grow up, I want to be a lot like you. You, more than anyone else, have kept me grounded and sane throughout this time. To my mother, who homeschooled me in elementary and middle school; I guess you did okay with that, didn’t you; you’ve given me a love for learning that I can’t imagine living without.

Lastly, to my sister, Priti, who is everything from my partner in crime to my best friend to my confidant, and who is graduating from Stanford University in a few weeks. I’m so, so proud of you. You’ve been such an awesome role model and mentor to me; I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t always just a phone call away.

So here’s what I say to you, Class of 2006: let go of the little things, and be proud of this big one; though everything from make-up tests to mercury spills may have stood in your way, you’ve made it here despite all these obstacles against you.

As the great blues guitarist B. B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” This achievement is yours forever, Class of 2006. Thank you, good luck, rock on, and go kick some for me.

May 23, 2006

The War

Today, two days before my partially outdoor graduation party, my parents and I have discovered a nest of bees entrenched in the small gap between the brick and the wood that makes up the back wall of our house. The wood part of the second floor has a slight overhang over the brick wall of the first story, so the bees have set up the entrance to their camp in the upper corner, underneath the overhang. At any given moment, there are about twenty to thirty bees patrolling the area around the entrance for several feet in every direction. This poses a problem; how to get at them?
My parents and I looked up various remedies on the Internet, from soapy water to pesticides. The problem was, anything that we used would have to project itself up the hole in order to reach the nest, meaning anything non-compressed and ready-to-shoot was out of the question. My mom went to Lowe's and returned twenty minutes later with two different types of Wasp/Hornet spray while my dad and I cleared the plants underneath the overhang. This was war, and we wanted to minimize civilian casualties.
My mom dressed for action - a jacket and a pair of gardening gloves. My dad and I set up our ladder a few feet from the overhang and, armed with the first can of insecticide, she slowly planted a foot on the first step. With no response from the bees, she advanced cautiously, gripping the can tightly. About halfway up the ladder, she aimed and fired. The spray from the insecticide, supposedly 25 feet long, was in fact about five feet at best. She emptied the can at the bees, but to no avail, at least that we could see.
My dad, similarly dressed, took the second can and, like the first wave, he crept up the ladder, checking for any reaction at each step. We had moved the ladder closer for this attempt, but the spray still fell pitifully short of the entrance to the nest. He emptied this can as well, but this was more to get rid of it than out of any real trust that it would work.
For our next attack, we waited until near dusk, when websites and friends had told us that the majority of the bees were likely to be in the nest. And indeed, the number of bees patrolling seemed to have lessened. Emboldened by our successful prediction, we moved the ladder directly underneath the entrance to the nest for our next weapon: a fogger.
Foggers are generally used indoors: a "fogged" house would have one of these pressurized canisters set on the floor of every room with all the furniture covered and people and pets evacuated. A jet of toxic insecticide would spray out vertically from the top of the canister, and this chemical would saturate the air inside the house, killing any unwanted inhabitants (this also works well for stowaways and those kids who never know when the game of hide-and-seek is over).
We set up the fogger outside, against the directions on the label. But we had had success with foggers in the past (indoors), and we had faith in its ability to shoot directly inside the nest, and perhaps saturate the air in there.
My parents dragged the ladder, as I said, directly underneath the entrance to the nest. We found an unused flowerpot filled with soil (we hope nothing was growing there - it's dead now, anyways), and set it down gingerly on the top platform of the ladder. While I, jacketed and gloved, held the ladder steady, my dad, also re-armored, scaled our assault vehicle and, once at the top, planted the fogger firmly in the flowerpot, facing the top in the direction of the nest.
We all held our breaths, and my dad depressed the button on top. A short burst, and then nothing; a false start.
He did it again, this time holding it down for a few seconds, and suddenly a spray of gas shot straight at the entrance to the next. Holding his breath, my dad descended the ladder quickly, and we all retreated to a safe distance. The fogger, it seemed, was working. Although no bees were dropping like flies yet, it was aimed perfectly at the nest, and definitely getting its noxious fumes inside. But the fumes were also spreading out at least a few feet from the ladder. We all retreated inside and watched from a window, waiting and hoping for victory.
I'm starting to think we need an exit strategy.

May 20, 2006

Even More Updates

Some things I forgot in the last post.

1. Set list from the concert:

Malaguena - Nirav, Luis
Bass Solo - Brandon
12-Bar Blues - Nirav, Luis, Brandon, Raphael, Mr. Peguero
.45 - Brandon, Zach
Pink Floyd Medley - Alex, Keenan, Camden
Stairway to Heaven - Keenan, Marcus
Iris - Brandon, Zach
So Cold - Brandon, Zach
Nothing Else Matters - Brandon, Zach, Nirav, Jake
Purple Haze - Brandon, Nirav
Eruption - Camden
Seek and Destroy - Luis, Raif, Ian, Marcus, Adam
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Luis, Raif, Ian, Marcus, Adam

2. Life is becoming increasingly hectic. I have something almost every day of the week, and any off time I get, I need to be packing for Germany and practicing my speech.

3. I'm in the market for a new electric guitar to bring with me to college. I can't stand a floating bridge anymore, like on Strats and Strat knock-offs; I think I want a light Ibanez.

4. I probably forgot some more things. Will post again soon.

May 19, 2006


Wow - a whole lot of stuff has happened since my last update.

1. I wrote my speech. Then I had to rewrite it. Apparently, speaking for over a minute is way too much for graduation. I also had to cut out all personal references besides my family, and all specific references to club and organizations. That was the first rewrite. Then I had to add in a thank-you to administrators, and take out a reference to mercury spills. This is censorship.

2. Prom was, well, interesting. It was both boring and over too fast at the same time. About ten minutes before it was supposed to be over, the fire alarm rang. People came to my house afterwards and we watched Pirates of the Carribbean. Pictures are up on Facebook.

3. We got our caps and gowns at graduation practice.

4. The Guitar Club Concert rocked, plain and simple. This is one of the things I'm most proud of in high school. Pictures on Facebook soon.

5. I got a new laptop, which I am blogging from now. It's sexy. Sony Vaio VGN-SZ110.

Further updates as events warrant.

They misspelled my name in the Hightower newspaper. Nirav Shanghani. Sounds vaguely Japanese.

And events have come full circle, somewhat.


May 6, 2006

I Give Up

Ok. I get it. I give up.
Until Thanksgiving break.

On a lighter note, Michael Buble is a really good artist. Although people like Frank Sinatra are infinitely better, it's nice to see young artists respect their roots. It's despicable when people think that Ray Charles ripped off Kanye West.

Guitar club spring 2006 concert: Thursday, May 18, 2006. Times: 6:30 to around 8:00. If nothing else, it'll be interesting.

Gotta write my speech by Tuesday. Class of '06, here we go.

May 4, 2006

Talk to Me?

Why don't people stay in touch anymore? Too many people have moved away from me that I love dearly, and this is only the beginning. What will happen when we all go to college? We'll all see each other in summer vacation, I guess, but how many friendships will drop off and wither away because we're just lazy? Perhaps that ones that are worth keeping will be kept; I trust that it will sort itself out.
But others...Norway, California, Ohio; everyone's moving away. And one specifically; why shut me out? I try to call, email, IM you, but I get barely a response. If you want me out of your life, then tell me so, and I promise, I'll stop bothering you. But don't just ignore me; the opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference.
It's not fair.

Apr 26, 2006


I was going for a walk the other day, around the gorgeous lake near my house, and I wondered why we do things. It seems to me that we do about 90% of what we do so that we can do something else. Allow me to clarify; we do homework to get good grades, which leads (presumably) to a good college, allowing us to get an education in order so that we can get a good job, letting us finally retire in peace. And that's how it is for a lot of things. Retirement is the final goal of 90% of our lives. But what's the rush, huh? A lot of us, myself included, rush to do everything. Everything is done in the least possible time, becuase we feel that after this is done, we can get something else done. Everything is done as a means to an end, not as its own reward. We rush through everything: meals, sleep, school, driving...soon it'll all be over, and we'll have (figuratively) dived into our coffins; the end of the race. If that's where the race ends, then I don't think I want to win; or at least, I'd rather not be first. I want to slow down, smell the proverbial roses, but more than that, I want to enjoy it. I want to have the journey be my reward, and not the final destination (although that can be nice too). It's time to slow down.

And by the way, it's gonna be Penn.

University of Pennsylvania, class of 2010.

But not yet.

Apr 18, 2006


That got kind of bloody there in the last post. And now, in other news...

College results:
Rejections - Harvard, Stanford, MIT
Waitlist - Yale
Acceptances - UT, Rice, Case Western Reserve, Penn

My choices right now are probably between Rice, Case, and Penn. We shall see how things go.

Mar 18, 2006

"Reverse" Discrimination

I didn't get into MIT today. And not in the sense that I won't get in until I get my letter, but in the sense that I was rejected from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To the small percentage of you who aren't laughing at me: it's fine, it wasn't my first choice anyways. But I am somewhat concerned about getting into the University of Pennsylvania now, which is, in fact, my first choice. No matter. It comes when it comes.
What I'm really writing about today is gender discrimination; or rather, so-called "reverse" gender discrimination. I didn't get into MIT, but my sister did. When my cousin applied to MIT, she got in. So did three other girls from her school. But only two guys got in from her school. Coincidence? Not really. I looked up admission statistics for MIT online: for the fall of 2003, the Boston-based university had 10,549 applicants, out of which 2,898, or 27%, were female. (I'm assuming the rest were male or undecided.) That year, MIT accepted 29.3% of its female applicants but only 11.6% of the males. What does that mean? The admits were comprised of 849 females and 887 males. In other words, they were 49% female and 51% male; a near even split. Obviously, the admissions committee was aiming to create a gender-distributed student body, and with the reputation that MIT has of a predominantly male-dominated university, who can blame them? In conclusion, it's significantly easier to get into MIT if you're a girl. The question is: is this ethical?
This particular can of worms dovetails nicely with the debate we had in government class about affirmative action last Friday; in essence, race/gender is playing a large role in admission to many universities. The ethics of the gender issue are very controversial (I'm not going to address race right now; maybe in another column).
On one hand, how can the integrity of the admissions procedure be compromised for something out of any individual student's control? Maintaining a gender balance at MIT means, essentially, that [edit 2 begins] the percentage of males that get in is less than the percentage of females, and this could potentially mean that a small amount of the females who get in wouldn't have done so if admissions were gender-blind [edit 2 ends]. Basically, this undermines one of America's key tenets: hard work and dedication will reward you proportionally to your effort. Work harder, make more money, right? Not anymore.
On the other hand, who wants a student body comprised of 70%, or even 80% males? The completely different viewpoint offered by females cannot be made up for by an extra 200 points on the SAT, or admitting a few more valedictorians. No, in order to be a modern, diverse university, institutions such as MIT have to keep their student bodies gender-balanced. It's no different than as little as fifty years ago, when the University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League school), was actually two separate colleges: one for men, and one for women. Some schools restrict themselves to women only. How is this any different? It's not like MIT denies that they discriminate based on gender; the statistics speak for themselves. Finally, putting men into a predominantly male society in college will either leave them ill-prepared for the real world, or instill in them a bad sense of equality that will allow them to discriminate against women in later life.
Or maybe not. Ideally, of course, the same amount of women and men would apply to technically-based universities like MIT (the problem is much less pronounced at less-technical schools), but that surely isn't happening. In my rejection letter, I learned that about [edit 1 begins] 13% of the total applicant pool was accepted. That means that the percentage of men accepted can't be much, if any more than in the fall of 2003. [edit 1 ends] The problem, at least for now, isn't going away.
Just something to get y'all thinking.
[EDIT 1: The admit rate for the class of 2010 is actually 13%, and has been changed accordingly in the post. Sorry. Also, I was sent a blog post by an MIT admissions officer, and after reading it, I can honestly say it makes me feel a lot better about my rejection and the entire admissions process in general. Read it here.]
[EDIT 2: Several people have complained to me that the women at MIT are no less qualified than the men to be there. They also say that my post states that the women who get in are not as good as some men who don't. I think I was misunderstood; the two middle paragraphs of this post are meant to provide constrasting viewpoints on a contradictory issue. I'm not taking sides, these aren't necessarily my personal opinions, I'm just setting forth two perspectives. In any case, I changed the post to hopefully prevent further misunderstanding.]

Feb 26, 2006

State German Contest 2006

One of the earliest posts in this blog - the second or third - was about something that happened at the State German Contest in 2004, two years ago. Here are the highlights from this year:

- Bleib!

- Blutbefleckt!

- Andrew and boxes...almost naked.

- Senior orgy!

- The VIP lounge on the bus.

- Erwin's *ahem* shows.

- Afterparty at Nirav's house!

- The entire club performed admirably in time of emergency.

- Kyle won first place in spelling.


- Armaggedon's messed-up physics.

- Hotshots: "I had a multioptomotepsry. But to avoid damaging the eye sockets, they had to go in through the rectum"

- "Wir sind Koby und Loby."

- "Kastriert und geblendet!"

- Tony's immense yell of anguish.

- Short ties!

- Aviator sunglasses.


- Leis.

- Straightened hair *grin*.

- Silverware in Frau's purse...and jacket.

- "Would you care for some condiments, Frau?"

- The company on the bus.

- Folkdancing!!!

- The badge that Jord@n got me.

And I think that's about it for my last year going to State. Two at Baylor, two at UT. It's been great, everyone.

Feb 12, 2006

Anniversary, Number Two

It's been two years for this blog. Pretty amazing stuff, eh?

Stay tuned!

It Wasn't Easy

WARNING: If you're sensitive or tactful, or something weird like that, then you might not want to read this. If you don't like me, this will probably just give you something else to dislike me about.

I'm sorry, but cheaters still piss me off. Yeah, it's no new development, but I was talking with a dear friend tonight and I just kind of realized it again. We were talking about how we'd have a huge problem being in a relationship with a cheater, and it even bothers her a bit to be friends with them.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not judging anybody. It seems that the cool thing to do these days is cover up your laziness/inadequacies/mistakes by demanding of anyone even remotely criticizing you if they're judging you, because of course, that would be horrible. No, no, I'm not judging anybody.
But I am judging what you're doing. And yeah, I'm valedictorian. So what? Does that make my opinions about this any less valid? More so, I'd think. I've been through all aspects of academia. I've been tempted to cheat, I've almost cheated, I even accidentally cheated once in seventh grade (but then I got the answer wrong on purpose because I felt guilty). Sure, write me off as self-righteous, elitist, or whatever you want. But you still know I'm right.
And don't give me that bullshit about how that's easy for me to say because I'm "smart". I'm no smarter than anyone else. I just worked my ass off to get where I am. Anything that I say, anything that I do, anything that I write, anything that sounds or looks smart that comes out of me has a ten year background of hard, hard work to it. No, it wasn't easy for me.
Or another argument was that if you cheat, you always get a few wrong on purpose so you don't screw over the guy who you're cheating off of. Nice work, figuring that one out. Now shut it, because you know it's complete bullshit. Any correct answers that you get that aren't your own are screwing somebody over. Your GPA and class rank don't care that the person in front of you let you copy his math homework. They'll overtake him anyways. Or maybe someone else. Maybe kick that person out of the top ten percent, and screw over her application to UT. There goes that plan.
I worked hard to get where I am. Even if you cheaters don't want to work, at least stop pretending like you aren't just lazy.

I actually wrote this post back on January 29th, but I'm just posting it now.

Sweet catharsis.

Feb 7, 2006

You Asked For It (Not Really)

Yes, another quiz.

Here's to discovery, self or otherwise.

Have you ever...
1. Fallen for your neighbor? No, all my neighbors are weird.
2. Made out with just a friend? Never.
3. Been rejected? Actually, not yet. It's probably coming soon.
4. Been in love? Yes, as I define it, so don't all you skeptics bring out your guns.
5. Used someone? Yes, and I'm still sorry for that, Miss Palindrome.
6. Been used? Yes, and I'm still smarting over that, as pathetic as that is.
7. Been Kissed? Hell yeah.
8. Done something you regret? Of course. I just hope that I don't make the same mistake twice.

Who was the last person...
10. You talked to? My mom, who made me lemon-honey tea, which is amazing on a sore throat.
11. You hugged? My mom also, for the tea.
12. You instant messaged? Luis Diez, guitar guru.
13. You are missing? Most recently, my tussle buddy.
14. You called? Not sure, but the last person I talked to on the phone was my awesome sister, Priti.
15. You yelled at? A guy at our impromptu talent show at Houstonfest who played guitar. I believe the exact quote was "Have my babies!", preceded by my shirt being thrown at him.
16. You laughed with? My mom.
17. Who broke your heart? I'm not sure if my heart has been truly broken, but I guess the answer to the closest thing would be the person my acoustic guitar is named after.
18. Who told you they loved you? My mom.
19. Who complimented you? Tiwa!

20. Have a Birthmark? Not that I know of.
21. Have any piercings? Nope. Keep those needles AWAY from me, please.
23. Own your own house? I WISH.
24. Own a nice car? I wish EVEN MORE. Although my dad drives a BMW that I get to use every so often.
25. Speak any languages other than english? Definitely
26. Cook your own Dinner? Damn straight!
27. color your hair? Yes, blue-green over the summer. It was good.
28. Have green eyes? I'm Indian.
29. Stolen anything? Sticky notes from a classroom in Passports to use to cover up used questions in German Jeopardy...does that count?
30. Smoked? Hell no.
31. Taken drugs? Medication, yes. Anything else, no. Except I sniffed a permanent marker once by accident. Dunno if that counts.
32. Obsessive? Perfectionist, if that's the same thing.
33. Shot a gun? Not a real one.
34. Done something illegal? Not TOO illegal.
35. Panic? Not too much.
36. Anxiety? See above.
37. Depressed? See above, again.
38. Control Freak? Definitely.
39. Obsessed with hate? Definitely not. What the world needs now...

40. If you were a cartoon character, what would you be like? Hugh Downs. "Hugh Downs awayyy!!!"
41. If you could be anywhere, where would it be and with who? A bit too broad, but at the moment, it would probably involve one of two cities in California, either Palo Alto or San Diego.
42. Can you do anything freakish with your body? I can bend my thumbs behind my hands. Yes, very impressive, I know.
43. What feature do you find most attractive on girls/guys? Hair, eyes, and smile.
44. Would you vote for a woman candidate for president? Perhaps.
45. Would you marry for money? Nope, I think I'll be okay in that respect.
46. Have you had braces? Yes. Don't remind me.
47. Do you wear lip gloss? Vaseline.
48. Do you sing in the shower? Of course!
49. Do you play any sports? Look at me. Just look at me. That aside, I used to play basketball.
50. Could you live without a computer? What's a computer? Try the exact opposite of that question.
51. Do you use AOL, MSN, Yahoo? AIM, Yahoo, and MSN, but I only have buddies on AIM.
52. If so, how many people are on your list? 247
53. If you could live in any past, where would it be? Sometime in the heyday of the blues.
54. Do you wear white socks? White and grey.
55. Do you wear shoes? No, I wear cantaloupes.
56. What is your favorite fruit? Oranges. I can eat them forever.
57. Do you eat wheat bread or white? Wheat is better. No offense.
58. What is your favorite place to visit? I haven't been there yet.
59. Fav DVD? The Matrix, probably. I'm not sure. I like too many movies.
60. Do you kiss on the first date? Haven't yet.
61. Are you photogenic? Some say yes, I say hell no.
62. Do you dream in color or black and white? Definitely color.
63. What are you wearing right now? Jeans, a t-shirt, an open shirt over that.
64. Do you eat a lot of fruit? Yep.
65. Do you have dimples? No...I can only wish.
66. Do you remember being born? Yes. Wouldn't you like to know what it was like.
67. Why do you take surveys? Self-discovery, baby!
68. Do you drink alcohol? Nope. I've had rum cake and rum chocolate, though.
69. Do you like high school? Yes and no.
70. What is the best accent? Australian!
71. Who do you want to kiss? I don't know how she kisses, so I'm not sure.
72. Do you like sunsets? Yes.
73. Do you want to live to be 100? Longer.
74. If not, why? Why not?
75. Do you or have you played with a ouija board? Not yet.
76. Are you loyal? Very. Although the meaning of being "loyal", apparently, is somewhat frayed as of late.
77. Are you tolerant of other peoples beliefs? I try to be.
78. Is music your life? Not yet, but it's a large percentage.
79. Do you like scary movies? The corny ones...cry_wolf, anyone? The Fog, anyone?
80. Do you think you can draw well? Yes, if by well you mean horribly.
81. At what age did you find out that Santa Clause wasn't real? Man, I don't think I ever believed in St. Nick.
82. How many pairs of shoes do have in your closet? 4
83. Do you like to wear the same shoes everyday? Yeah.
84. Do you write poetry? No. I attempt to songwrite, but that's a different post.
85. Snore? Horribly loudly, apparently.
86. Do you sleep more on your back, front, or sides? 360 degrees.
87. Do you like Cats/Dogs? Adore them.
88. Do you lick stamps? Yep.
89. Do you use an electric can opener?, those things are confusing.
90. Have you ridden in a hot air balloon? Not yet.
91. Like your name? Mostly.
92. Were you named after anyone? Nope. It means quiet, though.
93. Do you wish on stars? Occasionally.
94. Which finger is your favorite? Ring finger on my left hand. Gotta love those blues.
95. When did you last cry? My eyes watered from being sick today. I dunno if that counts.
96. What is your favorite band? Matchbox 20.

97. Who do you admire? As a musician, John Mayer. As a person, Denise Tanner. As a parent, my own parents. As a friend, my sister. I could go on for a while.
98. What is the #1 priority in your life? Fulfillment.
99. What is your favorite day of the week? Friday.

Woo hoo!

Jan 22, 2006

A Tiring Weekend

So, I had a very interesting and fun weekend, when you include Friday. Well, it was fine even without Friday, but Friday was notable, so I'll mention it anyways.

Went to school, as usual. First period, Physics II, where I presented my science fair project, and then sat around for a few others to do the same. In the middle of Pranay's presentation, of course, the mercury "spill" went down, and we all grabbed our stuff and evacated to the stadium, where our class went to the top of the bleachers and got to the balcony that looks out over the school. That was, apparently, too fun for a mercury spill, so we were told to find seats. That we did, near Mr. Ruggles.
After hanging out there for a while, we were all moved inside the fieldhouse in a wonderfully orchestrated migration that tried to pack about twenty kids at a time into a doorway that fit approximately two. < /sarcasm >. Having overcome our door issues by the tried-and-true method of mass chaos, we (all 2500 of us) were now all arranged extremely comfortably in the fieldhouse. < /sarcasm (really, this time) >. One fight broke out, at least. Another "fight" broke out, but it was actually two kids faking it, just so they could take pictures of the cops coming to break them up. Finally, we were taken back inside the school to our first period classes (those in the "contaminated" classes were put in the auditorium).
Us internship kids were released at a little after one, I believe, so Alonso, Frazier, Jon, Luis, and I went to Wendy's and decided to skip internship, as we wouldn't get there in time to get anything done anyways. We hung out there for about an hour or so, chatted about the original Mario game on NES (yes, we're nerds, but cool nerds), then disbanded. I drove Luis home and noodled around on guitar at his place for another hour, then left to go to Stammtisch at CiCi's (the new one near Laser Zone).
Stammtisch was hilariously fun, made even more so by Lesley and her faces. Lesley is an honorary member of German Club, in case anyone was wondering. Lesley, your faces are hilarious. After Stammtisch, I decided to go to Agattanz practice (folkdancing) at Jordan's house in case I was needed. I wasn't, really, but Amanda Comer and I hung and I played guitar for something around two hours while they practiced, and eventually I ended up helping them with the directions and coordination.
I dropped Amanda home at around eight, I think, and then came back to Jordan's house, hoping that someone else wanted to watch a movie too, or hang out somewhere. Turns out, everyone who was still there wanted to (Ana, Tessa, Edward, Joann, and Jordan) but Joann had to go home, and Jordan was going out of town the next morning, so neither of them could. This meant that we couldn't stay at Jordan's house either.
Thus, my house was volunteered, and we mobilized our caravan to get there. I took Ana, stopping by at work (Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream on Highway 6, near Half-Price Books and Corelli's) to get Ana some gelato. Having done that, we got to my house. Tessa and Edward had dropped off Joann and gotten Wendy's, and got there a little after we did. Ana and I had already narrowed down the movie options, and we ended up watching National Treasure and then Hidalgo. Finally, we wound down the night by watching an episode of Family Guy and another of Futurama.
It was at some point during Hidalgo that we realized that we were all tired and no one wanted to leave my house, so I crept into my parents' room and halfway woke my mom to ask her if they could spend the night here. I got a surprising assent, so after going to sleep at around four, we woke at seven and they left.

I, naturally, went back to sleep until twelve-thirty, when I woke up and ate something. Didn't do much of anything all of that day except try not to play guitar. I had spent Wednesday and Thursday night staying up until around one or two in the morning playing guitar (on my acoustic), and then on Friday I played for something around four hours, also mostly on acoustics, so my fingers were completely shot. Not playing on Saturday was hard, but every time I picked up Kay (my acoustic) my fingers started to burn a bit again, so I had to stop to let them heal.
Surprisingly, I did my physics homework on Saturday night, and I also got a haircut at some point in the afternoon.
At night, my mom and I went and got Lord of War from Hollywood Video, which wasn't too great. At least, as a movie about a gunrunning Ukranian it wasn't too great, but as a movie timelining the evolution of the illegal arms trade from the post-World War II years to present, it's very good. So basically, you just have to know know what you're in for.
I went to sleep early (around eleven or twelve) because the next morning I had work from eleven to three.

I worked today, for the first time since Thursday, and we had gotten some new flavors, like watermelon, cappuccino, pina colada, and venetian something-or-other. Oh, and something called Yoggi, which tastes just like yogurt, but with gelato texture and consistency. It's um...interesting. I also had several cappuccino/cafe latte escapades; let's just say I'm not quite finished learning how to make drinks.
Lara showed up, and bought a couple cups of gelato, and we chatted at the end of my shift, because no one was there. Afterwards, I got my forty-five cents in tips (pathetic...usually it's about three to six dollars per shift, but it was a cold, rainy morning, and no one really wanted ice cream) and we hung around for a little longer. Finally, we left but I was hungry, so we went to Chipotle's, and I got the vegetarian tacos, which were superb, by the way. Lara had chips, lemon, salsa, and salt. So, so weird. We were both going to Span and Benita's surprise party, so Lara took me by my house and I dropped off my remaining two-thirds of a taco and my work t-shirt and cap, we returned Lord of War, and then she took me back to Piccomolo so I could pick up my van.
It was pouring rain by now, and we ferried our way to the Incredible Pizza Company, which is an incredible misnomer. First of all, you have to leave your car keys with them if you don't want to eat, and secondly, the buffet is horribly overpriced and pretty disgusting. The arcade games are all old, there are no shooting or fighting games, and they're all expensive. So it wasn't Incredible and the Pizza wasn't great. The only thing the place had going for it was the Company, which was Lesley, Lara, Span, Nick, Chris (Nick's mini-me), Nita, Suchi, Sneh, Christina, and Ben, and even that was somewhat tarnished by the weird 50's high school theme that some idiot managing the restaurant decided on. Definitely not Incredible. Maybe it would work as the Mediocre Pizza Company, but even that's almost pushing it.
After the surprise party (to which Benita didn't show up to, by the way), I drove Lesley home. Here I must interject and write a few lines about Lesley, for she is one of the most hilariously awesome people I know. Her faces and expressions are priceless, and she always always always can laugh at herself. She's a good talker and a good listener, and she's on time with her payments (gas money, you pervert).
Anyways, drove Lesley home (stopping by for gelato on the way, making this the third girl in as many days I had met at or walked into work with), and then got back to my house before eight. Some family friends were over, so we all chatted over dinner before they finally left.
After that, all that I did was noodle on my electric for a little while (I tried messing with the distance of the pickups from the strings and realized that the cover on the brige pickup is loose), and ate a little bit.

It is now a little past eleven on Sunday night; time to start the new week. Gehen wir schon!

Jan 17, 2006

Take It Away...

No longer a minor, so that makes me a...major? I'm not sure. But in any case, I am now officially eighteen years of age, which makes me able to have a license that goes up and down instead of side to side. That's really about it. Actually, I'm not even sure that they give the vertical ones to you until you're twenty-one now. So that's gone too. What's left, then? The rest of my life. One AM and I'm still awake writing a blog post. Almost pathetic, but not really; I'm in an introspective mood. Nothing better than writing half to yourself, half to the world to get those inner tangles out there. Whatever that means.
It only hit me a little after midnight on Sunday that graduation is this year. This year! A few months, even! And, said Luis. College, indeed. Philadelphia or Houston or Boston. Pennsylvania or Texas or Massachusetts. I don't even know what state I'll be in, much less what I'll be doing. Where did the time go? I've had the time of my life, sure, but it was a fast ride, it seems. I think the biggest reason it doesn't only feel like it was a couple of weeks ago that I was a freshman is the radical changes that I underwent during junior year. Besides that, I still remember walking into my advisory class first thing on the first day of school. I still remember that Ronnie Sherwood was in that class. Of all the things to remember.
It's strange to look too closely at anything now. There's always been a purpose, before. But now? Where's the purpose? Grades matter naught, or at least not much. College applications are in the hands of a higher being now (admissions officials, of course; what, did you think I was going to delve into the intelligent design debate?). Most things that we do now are for our own benefit.
I got a job. Got my first paycheck last Friday. I've been telling everyone that, believe it or not, I finally got off my lazy ass and started to actually do some work. But you know, I've been working for the past three years. It just paid really, really, really crappy. I've got free time now, though, so I figured, might as well serve gelato. Strangely enough, I posted more on my blog last year, when I had less free time, than this year. I guess that means that someone else should post on this blog too, every now and then, perhaps? Give me a little company?
The dawning of the rest of our lives, eh? That sounds about right. How quickly things change, though, you know? One day you're planning a trip to Italy that climaxes in an engagement with someone, the next day you're ranting through tears on a hotel balcony at her. We'll always have Italy, sure, but it's locked away now, to be seen gathering dust in a glass cabinet. Nostalgia in a box, for that eventual trip down memory lane, picking up fond recollections in turn, examining them, and replacing them carefully in their late-night AIM conversation cases. I guess it's true about the best-laid plans. Although I never did quite get how the mice were involved, but I suppose a little mystery keeps thing spicy.
Coffee stains splattered over equations for the length of a guitar string, that's what's on the desk in front of me. That's how today has been. Guitar, food, AIM, phone, science fair. O Unholy Tormentor, Science Fair! Or so it seems, at least. Still have to finish that. I have all the data, I just don't know what to do with it. Sounds a bit like life. Sounds a lot like love, actually. Watch someone pop out of nowhere and make fun of me for using the word "data" in an analogy. Such a nerd, I am. That's a compliment from a certain someone in San Diego, though. Or at least, it used to be. I don't know half of my friends half as well as I should like. On the plus side, I've gone through these last three and a half years with only truly hating one person in the long run. But I think hating is so counterproductive, you know? The only influence hating can have is if you have a way to screw over the person you hate, and I haven't had that, so I've just spend a couple years nursing a general strong dislike for him. Oh well; can't love everyone.
Speaking of which, we all need to loosen up about using the word love. Or Love, or whatever. I understand that some people feel that they don't know what love is, but seriously, I believe love is what you feel it is. Everyone defines everything differently; I define love as what you feel when you feel like saying "I love you". What else is there? To stop yourself from saying that is denying a puppy to a little boy. People say love is cliched. I say that saying it's cliched is cliched. Love is like a sofa, and keeping yourself from capitalizing the word is like putting plastic on the sofa, so your family can't actually sit on it. Who the hell are you waiting for, anyways? The president? "Oh, Mr. President, we were saving these couches just for you. Here, let me take the plastic off." Right. Use them. Use love.
The rain outside patters softly on the lamplit street. I'm not even kidding. It's picturesque, really. It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely...wonderful song, that one. Slow dancing would be nice, outside. I think I'll drift off to sleep with that image in my head.
The night is young, the skies are clear, so if you want to go walking, dear...

Jan 2, 2006

Brief Rundown

Here's a brief summary of my winter break, before I forget:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005:
Got up early, flew to Maryland, where we were picked up at the airport by my uncle, who drove us to my aunt's house. Met my aunt, my cousin, and my grandmother for the first time in several months.

Got up early again, took a Greyhound bus to the Port Authority bus station (it's huge) in Manhattan. Saw my sister for the first time since Thanksgiving (she had been in NYC for a couple days before us). We then saw the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which was semi-interesting. Finally, we saw Rockerfeller Plaza and the giant Christmas tree there. We also ate pizza there at a place called Two Boots Pizza. We spent the night in the Comfort Inn less than a block from Times Square. The MTA strike ended that evening.

My family and I took a semi-circle cruise tour around the island of Manhattan. We saw the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, the U.N. building, etc. We then saw the U.S.S. Intrepid, an old WWII aircraft carrier converted into a museum. After that, we lunched with an old friend whom my mom and aunt knew from back when they lived in NYC named Om. He's about fifty-ish and very zen. He's also the owner of the corporate side of the business of Tracy Reese, a fashion designer. Her clothes run about $500 and usually sell in places like Neiman Marcus. We got to meet her and see her office and design floor.

Saturday, December 24, 2005:
Went to the Guggenheim Museum, trekked through Central Park, went shopping, bought all of our touristy stuff, met with relatives: Amit, Monica and their families, and hung out in Rockerfeller Plaza again.

Sunday, Christmas Day:
Saw the U.N. building, rode the bus around, took a Greyhound bus back to Maryland, saw my other cousin, exchanged presents with family that evening after dinner.

Saw Tyson's Corner, an immense mall.

Visited the Capitol.

Visited Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania (which was awesome).

Didn't do anything.

Went snowtubing

Saturday, New Year's Eve:
Went to the boardwalk, and went shopping.

Sunday, January 1, 2006:
Flew back to Houston, went to German Club thing at Ana's house where we set off fireworks.

Monday, January 2, 2006:
Lesley's cotillion practice, and slept.

Sorry the last half was really brief; I don't really feel like elaborating.