Follow Random Happenings! Shabangity!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Lack of Motivation

Well, as anyone can tell, blogging has come to a complete standstill since August 10th. The reason...? It is quite simple and can also be applied to life too. When there is no incentive to do something, it becomes irrelevant and put in the back of our minds. That is what has happened with Shabangity. There has been a lack of motivation to continue the blog due to the bloggers leaving for college, but I promise all you followers that Shabangity will be back up and running!

So, the life lesson here is...people you need to keep goals in mind and stay motivated because when you are motivated, things get done! When you don't have any motivation, laziness takes over your life and inefficiency comes into the picture.

To make this short little blurb even shorter, motivation is the key to being efficient!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Why Major League Baseball and the Civil War are Related

I'll say right off the bat that I might be overextending the analogy on this one, in case you weren't able to see that already from the title.  I think I should first explain the thought process that lead to this conclusion.

While running through a meadow the other day (how poetic!), I began to think of battlefields (I subconsciously associated meadows with battlefields), and how many Civil War battles were fought on large fields and farmland.  My next thought was on regionalism and what traces of regionalism can still be found in America today.  I began to think of Boston natives and their intense love of their local sports, especially the Red Sox.  These Red Sox followers do not take kindly to those in New York who support the Yankees, and as a result, we have a bit of a modern day regional conflict.

Of course, these conflicts are not militant, or anywhere close to being militant for that matter, but there is a bit of an underlying hatred of the opponent.  To add, the regionalism could arguably be worse, since it is more localized and represents a smaller areas.  Depending on your perspective, many smaller regions that do not like other regions could be worse than two large regions that do not like each other.

Obviously nothing violent will come out of such rivalries, but I still find it interesting to note how we still hold onto things such as regional differences.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On the Downfall of Urban Aesthetics

The other day, my friend brought my attention to this picture of downtown Houston in the 1970s:

This photo was not edited in anyway; there were seriously this many parking lots. It's funny, ridiculous, and depressing all at once.  For one thing, the city clearly requires much better urban planning so bigger buildings, and logically bigger businesses, can follow.  To add, it's just plain ugly.  Who wants to live in a high-rise when the only view is acres of parking?  This picture almost gives the city a dead, nothing-going-on, stagnant feeling to it.

As seasoned blog reader (however many there actually may be) may ask, "You seem to talk about nature a lot.  As in, I thought you were kind of the neo-transcendentalist-hippie-Jack London nature woo! type. Why do you care about urban aesthetics?"

And I would first respond with, "Great question, seasoned reader!"

Seriously though, I like nature, but I have other interests, such as Acknowledging the Downfall of Urban Aesthetics and Telling People About It.  Now I'm going to be a bit cliche.

A city truly is a concrete jungle, and like a real jungle, it has its layers that need to function together to make a successful system.  When all that exists are parking lots, it is like chopping down the rainforests (I went there).  The city disintegrates into a wasteland.  In short, parking garages would be a better choice.

If anyone has pictures of a similar situation (my apologies to my friend for usurping his picture), post the pictures or the links!

Friday, August 6, 2010

On A Night of Insomnia

Last night, I was relaxed. A normal nightly routine usually is key for me to fall asleep. I come home from my nightly activity and take a shower. Then, I clean myself up and go into my room where I will go on my computer and listen to some music for about a half hour or so. After that, I move to my bed where I watch some TV until I fall asleep. You are probably wondering why I am writing about my nightly routine? Well, I can tell you why.

Last night, I went through my routine, and I forgot to mention, going to sleep around the same time each night helps your sleep too. But anyway, last night, I did everything right, except I wound myself up after I answered a phone call from my father who let's just say is one of those typical divorced dads that always disappoints his children. Well, I talked to him on the phone and his sense of false reality with his relationship with me stirred up a myriad of emotions that felt like a curled up, swirling ball in my chest. I felt like I had a huge burden over me. Over the past year, I've been working on letting go of my father because he has never failed to disappoint me on every encounter, but part of me can't do it...I'm still a son whose been looking for his father (which I can get into at a later date).

Talking to him on the phone got me going and it ruined my night. I couldn't fall asleep as I had this horrible feeling permeating throughout my body. It was another huge frustration, but this kind is worse than any other. So, I was up pretty much all night because I let myself succumb to the negativity of my father, which was a mistake on my part. I should have just carried out my routine, screened the call, and I would've had a beautiful rest. I write this because I just want people who have trouble falling asleep at nights to make some kind of routine before going to sleep at night. What I find a very easy fix is to partake in physical activity after dinner, like basketball or running. This kind of exertion will wear you out and make the whole process of sleep easier at night. A night of insomnia was no fun, so if this is habitual for you, try the routine, physical activity, and not eating before you go to sleep...this should cure it!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Frustration

It seems no matter the occasion, things need to be difficult. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems. For instance, I woke up extra early this morning to go over to the NJ DMV Inspection station to get my car all checked out before I leave for school. The sticker on my car read 8/2010, so I really didn't have a choice... I had to go. So, I drive over to the DMV and there is no line, so I thought to myself, "Great! This will take like 15 minutes and I'll be done with". I was so excited as I watched my car pass through each station knowing that it would only be a matter of minutes before I could drive off with my car and not return to that energy-draining facility for 2 years. But, of course, as I sit down on the bench as my car continues onto the last part of inspection, I watch the lady slap on the red 'REJECTED' sticker. For what? Well, I recently had my car worked on at an auto body shop and because the mechanics took out the battery tray and then replaced after they finished their work, this caused the car's computer system to reset. So basically, my computer did not indicate the correct readings. The inspector told me that the fix is to drive my car around 100 miles and bring it back. What a pain! And I have been frustrated ever since, but I realize that it's no use in allowing yourself to ruin your day over it. Just drive and go back another time, even though it is such a nuisance to even have to drive over to the DMV. But, I'll deal.

Anyway, the point of the matter being that no matter what the situation is, if it evokes frustration, don't allow it to eat away at you all day. Just simply turn away and continue on with your day and things will work out in the end. My solution for this frustration was to go lift some weights and workout. Physical activity is always a good way to release any negative thoughts or feelings that you may have. Steer clear of being frustrated and whatever it is, it'll work itself out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On Rolling Windows

In the event of my car going into water, I am in a good situation, relatively speaking, as I have rolling windows (a.k.a. the ones you have to crank to make them go up/down).

These windows also allow me to work on my left arm muscles periodically, and since I am a right handed/arm-using person,  it provides a little more balance (at least it's a nice thought, give me credit for trying).  Finally, if I am ever feeling an old school-kickback mood, I can blast my seventies music and awkwardly roll down the windows while driving, just like they did during the golden days.

Nevertheless, there are many downsides to this rather cool window setup.  First, every time I approach a toll (I still have to go through exact change, no EZ-Pass for me), I have to begin cranking down the window while about 300 feet away from the toll so I will be as efficient as possible in the act of paying for the toll.  After the toll is paid, I have to reverse the process and crank the window up while merging back into traffic.  My friends, people who happen to be riding in my car who are not friends - I'll just say everybody - laughs as I hunch over and briskly roll the window up.

The second detriment caused by these windows, and by far the more significant detriment, is the unpredictability of what will enter your window.  What I mean by this is that if I am driving alone, I will rarely roll the passenger side window down.  If I want to do so, I have to roll down the window before driving, otherwise I have to sprawl across the seat at a red light and hope the light doesn't change while doing so.  All this aside, the unpredictability factor then comes in.  I have absolutely no control over the passenger side window, as demonstrated by a little problem I had.

The other day, while driving home from work with both windows down, I noticed a sprinkler ahead that was spraying into the street instead of watering the lawn (Remember when I blogged about sprinklers not watering what they were supposed to?  Prime example!).  I knew I was doomed.  There was traffic, I could not pull over to adjust the window, there were no side streets to avoid the impending and gushing water; it was a bad situation all around.  I waited for the taunting slap of water on the face that was about to occur.

Simply put, I was sprayed as I went by, event though I sped up to lesson the impact.  I guess nothing is perfect.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Chaos Theory (Or Rather, A Smaller Part of the Much Larger Field)

Ever since I discovered what chaos theory was a few years ago, I have been very intrigued by the field (Yes, I know it is a Wikipedia page, but the website has become much more accurate over the years).  In an incredibly abbreviated synopsis, chaos theory states that even extremely small changes in a system (i.e. weather system, ecosystem) will result in a completely different end result had the change not been made.  For example, one of the men who helped develop chaos theory, Edward Lorenz, had a computer that generated weather patterns based on equations that he put into the machine.  He would switch through various functions to produce different weather scenarios. One day, out of laziness, he left off the sixth decimal place in his equations (so a number such as 4.928472 became 4.92847) and let the machine run and generate weather patterns.  When he came back several hours later, the end result was extremely different than that for the equation that used six decimal places.  This slight variation in the complex system caused the system to behave in a completely different manner.  Lorenz compared the difference to a butterfly flapping its wings, and this is where the term "butterfly effect," which theorizes that a butterfly flapping its wings in, say, Australia, could cause a tornado in Kansas due to the change in the chaotic system, came into use.  Another classic example is the novel-turned-movie Jurassic Park, in which scientists try unsuccessfully to control nature, which is too complex and thus gets out of control.  Chaos theory seeks to predict what would otherwise be incredibly random and unpredictable events (like the weather).

Technicalities aside, I wanted to note a few smaller observations of what I consider to be chaos theory in action.  They involve the parking lot that I mentioned a while back.  Generally, people park in an orderly fashion.  Nevertheless, and this happens more often than not, once one person goes out of order (i.e. parks somewhere else, does not park great), it disrupts the whole system.  People begin to follow this one disruption.  I have seen many cars park neatly, and as soon as one car is a little off, cars after that one begin to park more and more off.  In a sense, the system becomes chaotic.  This parking lot also double parks cars when it gets busy.  Some nights, however, double parking is not allowed.  People do not always know this, and sometimes one person will accidentally double park.  As soon as the one person double parks, many accidentally follow.  It's not their faults, it is just chaos theory coming into play.  Once there is that one deviation, chaotic behavior follows, and it is difficult to undo.

Since I enjoy this subject a lot, I will definitely continue to mention any future observations of chaos theory.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On Discovering What Has Been There All Along

For the many people who are fortunate enough to live near the beach, only a few take advantage of going to this place at nighttime.  Both of us blog contributers go there often, and we both find that there are few people there past 7PM or so.  You will most likely not see a single other person or group up and down the beach.  It is without a doubt a great place to just relax and either watch the waves or lie down in the sand.  Just last night, we watched the moon rise from the horizon - it was an awesome and almost bizarre sight.  No one ever bothers you at night (unless you are on beaches that close at certain times, which seems paradoxical since you shouldn't be able to "close"nature - thoughts?), and during the summer it is rarely too hot or too chilly.

An idea concerning this "under-usage" of the beach at night is that of naively ignoring what has been there all along.  Some simply do not realize what great opportunities or places are right in front of their noses, but it is not their fault; no one ever told them about these things. This also makes discovering what has been there all along a very rewarding process - it requires thought and effort to discover these opportunities and places.  Instead of saying "Wow that was there all along, I'm an idiot for not realizing this," my reaction has been that of amazement and excitement of finding something new that many cannot find or see.

As another example, I run at a local park a lot.  I would usually show up, get my run in, and go home.  One day, however, I decided to take a small side trail, and it lead me to an awesome lookout on top of a cliff.  For years I ran by the trail, disregarding it completely, but the one time I decided to take "the road less traveled," to be cliche, I discovered something amazing that I had been within only feet of seeing for years.

Discovery does not require venturing far; an enlightening and new experience could literally be only a few feet from where you stand.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Thoughts on the Spread of Civilization

Over the past couple of days I've put more thought into the last post I made.  A new thought I have had is that we never truly get the chance to be detached from anything.  What I mean by this is that we are practically always connected to somewhere/someone else through our use of the internet and cell phones.  Cell phone coverage exists almost everywhere these days, and losing reception is something that people need to worry about less and less.  I could be deep in the woods and still have great reception.  In a sense, fewer and fewer areas are free from not only humanity's physical presence (roads, houses, other projects), but humanity's unseen technology is practically always present.

Nevertheless, I went for a run in a more isolated park the other day, and in spite of what I said in my last post about even the park being unisolated and tamed, I did feel separated from the outside.  As I ran along a  trail that usually takes about an hour to complete, I only saw four people, all of whom were on the main part of the trail.  I was in fact able to get a feeling of escaping the developed outside world, if only for a brief moment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the Spread of Civilization

So, what do I mean by this?

While taking off from the airport a few weeks ago, I looked out my window and noticed how civilized the world is (the world being the New York metropolitan area).  For as far as I could see, highways, commercial centers, cul-de-sacs and developments dominated the landscape.  This sight saddened me a bit, as I never really thought of the world being so tamed.  When I go running in some of the larger parks that are near me, I think of being in a massive, unclaimed part of the world.  Nevertheless, as the plane gained altitude, I noticed that even the bigger parks were surrounded by far more developed areas than "natural" areas.  I also realized that the parks themselves are a bit tamed too.  They close at dusk, and the trails are worn and heavily-used.

As I flew over the Midwest, I felt excited to look out the window and see unclaimed and unyielding wilderness.  Once again, I was saddened a bit; the sight was taunting, really.  Massive farms spread out for hundreds of miles.  Sure, there were plenty of "green" spaces, but it was cultivated and tamed.  I am not attacking farms, we need food obviously and I give those people a lot of credit, but there was absolutely no untamed land.  Everything was owned; everything was developed.

This flight was to Alaska, and I will admit that seeing this state was a great relief.  There is increasing development in the state, unfortunately, but a huge portion of it is still untamed.  A person can live in a cabin with no other human being nearby for hundreds of miles around.  There are mountains and valleys everywhere with no highways, cul-de-sacs, or developments.  One of the larger parks up there, Denali National Park (which is larger than the state of Massachusetts), has one road that goes through it.  There are barely any trails, and people (with a permit of course), can get off of this road and walk into the wilderness at any place they choose.  This is wilderness with (almost) no limits, and I sincerely hope it will forever remain that way.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On Being Efficient

This past week I have tried to make use of every second I have had to accomplish everything I need to do, and what I find myself having is more free time. More free time to relax and enjoy life, your friends, your family, and most importantly, yourself. A lot of wasted time goes into video games or just lying around saying you are 'going to hangout with a friend later' you do nothing all day until you hangout with them. Well, that's just an instance, but say you always say 'well, I can't do this or that because I am doing this today.' You won't accomplish anything you need to do and it is just going to end up taking forever for you to do so.

So, by being efficient I mean, when you wake up in the morning, instead of taking that down time to allow yourself to wake up, eat a healthy breakfast first, then go out and start accomplishing your goals, chores, and/or errands for the day. By taking the initiative and doing this, you will find that you feel less bored on a summer day where seemingly there is nothing to do. In addition, you feel a sense of relief afterwards and you can then do anything you want for the rest of the day and night. Just remember try and balance you with the world. That's the most important thing of them all. Being efficient is just another step in creating a more enjoyable lifestyle.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On Taking the Initiative

Taking the initiative is a concept nowadays that seems quite challenging for some, well for a lot. This particular topic popped into my mind after listening to my cousin complain about having to work at a summer camp where he isn't going to get paid. It actually isn't the paid part that bothers him, it's the "work" part that irks him. Regardless, he will gain invaluable experience aiding younger kids in tennis, which will help him in the future, as he intends to be a gym teacher for a career. Taking the initiative comes into play because no matter what comes along; he always waits for someone else to do the work for him and he has made it all the way through high school this way. Living off the capability of having everyone do his work is something that he can get away with at a young age, but once he is ready to go into the mainstream world...he will get crushed.

One who tends to take the lazy way out of things and have other people handle various activities or duties for them is doing no good living here on this planet. Basically I bring this topic up because one can only take so much of someone's constant, continual inability to work. How can someone expect to get somewhere in this world without ever doing any work along the way? How some people live this way is beyond me. Just take the initiative...go beyond your shyness, your fears, your doubts, your frustrations, your flaws, and take a chance. Take a chance to put yourself out there and try new things and be confident in your own personal abilities because at the end of the day, every person possesses certain qualities that make them worthy to the world. People similar to my cousin who are content with being stuck in the mud at the same place are just wasting their abilities and affect the lives of people who actually go out and take command of their role. So as I finish, I want to just say take the initiative in anything you want to do in life, whether if it is simply wanting to have a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, going after that crush you've had, or going after something you feel you have no business going for, be confident...take the initiative and go for it. Good things will only come if you decide to act upon your wants and desires. Don't let your laziness or lack of ambition get in the way. Act now and be the person who always strives to finish their work first.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On Commuting

Last week I had the privelage of joining morning commuters on their way to work in New York City or surrounding areas. Regardless of their final destination, each individual was on their way to work. I took the 5:41am train to the airport as I was going out to visit Chicago for vacation.
While waiting for the train, I saw some of the craziest, weirdest looking people I have ever seen in my life and trust me, between all the kids in my high school and just traveling around...that's an accomplishment for me to say that these people are just out there. The line of people waiting for the commuter train all fit the stereotype of the 'sit at the desk job all day long'. Every man had protruding bellies hanging over their belts...about a good 1/2 a foot too. It was not only depressing but it also was disgusting. This just proves as some fodder for me to remind myself that I don't want to have to commute on the train to work everyday or have a desk job my entire life. If I turn out like these cold, unhappy faces, then I truly will be one of the unhappiest men and won''t be able to look myself in the mirror when I'm older and know that my life was wasted away.
The thing that fascinates me about this particular subject is that people commute because he/she wants to make the big bucks, as do I and well, most people. But, at the same time, it's amazing how miserable these people are. I understand that on the 5:41am train, it is very early in the morning, but these individuals are used to waking up this early and I should be the grumpy one. I tried to evoke a smile out of others by simply just standing in line smiling at others as they passed me, or even in the train, as swarms of people crowded onto the train, I gave them a little grin but...nothing. I couldn't even sit on the train and try to enjoy my the sunrise as I peaked out the window because these people just drained all that positive energy away. I know this just seems like a bunch of banter, but really the whole point of this little experience was to remind me and you that if you want to end up miserable like these collective soulless individuals, then be my guest go for the big $$$ and commute. I refuse to be unhappy and turn into an out of shape, insane zombie. Not only for myself, but for you...follow your heart and want happiness.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

On Reactions to Immediate Danger

Now that July 4th and all its firework displays are upon us, I remember a near-disaster that occurred at a fireworks show I was at last year.  I was away from home, and I went to go see fireworks at a nearby college.  The area where the fireworks were being launched was roped off, but the area was a little small.  When evening came, the fireworks were lit, and everyone was enjoying the display.  Out of nowhere, however, a lit firework spun around in the air and landed on the ground about 15 feet away from me.  It had yet to explode, and everyone was apprehensive.  I say apprehensive and not scared because no one seemed to be moving - they were all frozen.  I personally ducked down because there was not much for me to do at that point, but everyone else just stood there staring. Luckily the firework just fizzed out and never went off, and a serious situation was avoided.

Nevertheless, why were people simply staring and not trying to find some sort of cover?  They all recognized the immediate danger, but none of them made any effort to place themselves out of the danger.  I read an article a few years ago about this very topic.  I have never been in a disaster situation, thank God, but according to the article, people normally do not run around screaming in the face of imminent danger.  Instead, they freeze and do not know what to do. The article cited an example of a ferry boat that sank in the Black Sea a number of years ago.  When the boat started sinking, people did not try to escape or get to higher ground.  One survivor explained how everyone around him seemed to be paralyzed with fear.  He calmly made his way to a lifeboat and escaped.  The people who simply froze unfortunately perished along with over 1000 other passengers.  According to this man, many more would have survived had they simply moved and fought through the panic.

I bring this up because I find this to be a paradoxical aspect of human nature.  Normally we think of the "fight or flight" adrenaline response, but this is neither.  It's simply staying put and doing nothing, and I think people need to recognize this flaw if, for whatever reason (and I'm not trying to scare people), they ever find themselves in a disaster scenario.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Bad Business Ethics

So today on CNN's website I stumbled upon this article about how Chinese companies are "renting out" white people, or just foreign-looking people in general, who make the company look like more of a global powerhouse.  These rented people can "work" for the company for several hours, if not days or months.  Typically, they give speeches or attend conferences, pretending to be foreign partners.  The main objective is appearances, however, and the person not so much as say anything as show up and be looked up to.  As the article states, "the requirements for these jobs are simple. 1) Be White 2) Do not speak any Chinese, or really speak at all, unless asked 3) Pretend like you just got off of an airplane yesterday."

This of course is downright lying, and clients and potential customers are deceived.  There have been lawsuits, and the actors have gotten in trouble as well.  This also brings up an odd situation to consider.  China has been working diligently for a long time now to become the world's next superpower.  Nevertheless, it still relies heavily on the "approval" of the United States, or just people who look like they could be from the United States.  Its own people seem to have trouble trusting each other, so the competition needs to come in and give its approval.  Now, is this a strategy that is worth the sacrifice, or will it keep the country from reaching its full potential?  China also depends heavily on American markets - how long can this cycle last?  So, what does the country do if it is so reliant on the superpower that it wants to pass?  To me, it is amazing how something as small as appearances can make or break an effort.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On Disregarding Others

Now this is obviously a very broad topic, and I should have probably thought of a better name for this since I'm going to be fairly specific here.  When I mean disregarding others, I am talking about being incredibly naive to one's surroundings.  Today I saw an instance of this at a parking lot.

The instance involved the actual parking of cars.  In this parking lot, cars line up next to each other as the lot fills since it is a gravel lot and does not have any parking lines.  By having the cars park in an orderly fashion, space is saved and more cars are able to fit into the lot.  Nevertheless, while cars were parking down a row, someone felt the need to floor by everyone and park in an open space near one of the corners of the lot.  The way she parked took up what would be be two spots.  It was incredibly obnoxious, and had you been able to see it as well, you would instantly agree. She disregarded the valets who were trying to make the cars orderly, and she instead had to do her own thing and obnoxiously park.

Now, I ask, what mindset allowed this person to disregard others and decide that she didn't need to follow standards/listen to the parking lot directors?  Personally, I would have a guilty conscience for being so brazen.  Who knows, who knows.

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Amazing Website

I recently stumbled upon this website that gives world statistics, from number of births in a given day to days left until we run out of oil.  Of course, it's based on equations that follow current trends and is not exact, but it's accurate and a bit eye opening.

Poll Results #3

So from our most recent poll asking, When Do You Think BP Will Stop the Oil Spill?

Within 2 Weeks - 0%

Within 1 Month - 11%

Within 6 Months - 33%

Within 1 Year - 22%

Over 1 Year - 33%

We need more people to vote!  Be sure to keep checking for our weekly polls!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Things Happening At Perfectly Timed Moments

I am writing this because two things have happened to me during the past two days that were both perfectly timed and annoying.  It is incredibly coincidental how they happened, but both were irritating.

First, while at work last night, I had to keep walking under this pipe.  The pipe was for cold water, so there was condensation that would build up and drip down every once in a while.  The drips were rare, but I got hit on the arm and head three or four times throughout the course of the night.  The chances of me getting hit once were rare, but I kept getting hit and it was statistically wrong and annoying.  After the first two times, I looked up and saw a drop.  I watched it while working, looking up occasionally to see that the drop was still there.  Eventually I had to walk under it, and when I did, it hit me in the face.  It was as though the drop was waiting for me.

The second instance of perfectly timed annoyance occurred while I was cleaning my pool this afternoon.  I vacuumed all the stuff off the bottom and skimmed all the remaining leaves off of the top of the pool.  This took a while, and it was nice to finally finish.  As soon as I turn around to leave the pool, and I mean as soon as I turned around, a big gust came and blew a bunch of dead leaves into the pool.  I had to go back and clean it up.  It was thoroughly irritating.

So my question is, how do these things happen at such perfect times?  The wind could have blown when I was cleaning or way afterward, but it didn't.  The drop could have fell at any other time, but it didn't.  Who knows, who knows.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On the Nature of Praise

I've been thinking a lot lately about praise.  As humans, most of us like to be praised.  It makes us feel good and, at times, a bit superior since we know we did something well.  Praise is definitely a positive and constructive device, but I had a peculiar thought on the exact nature of praise.

We recieve praise for all sorts of things.  Whether it is good grades, great accomplishments, or simply behaving right.  It is this last point, behaving right, that has provoked thoughts.  We get praised for doing the right thing, but what exactly gives the person who praises us the authority to do so?  For example (and lack of a better example at that), say this girl tells her friend that she is really proud of her friend for not drinking and being a good role model.  However, the person who gives the praise has been drunk on a number of occasions.  The friend who doesn't drink feels good about being praised, but what gives the friend who does drink from time to time the right to say she's proud?  It seems hypocritical to me.  This example is not great, but in better ones the contradiction is more obvious.  In an exaggerated sense, it seems like a bank robber is praising a law-abiding citizen for not robbing banks.  Perhaps this makes more sense in my mind, but the purpose of this blog is to communicate my thoughts to others.

Now, to make things more complicated, when does that person who does do the wrong thing find themselves in the right position to praise the person who does nothing wrong? Say the girl who drinks stopped for over a year.  Does she now have the authority to praise her friend since she has stopped for so long, or are her "praising abilities" marred from her previous actions?  Does an elderly senator who lied and scandalized early in his career have the right to praise the honorable qualities in a new, young politician?  Does a person who was openly racist when they were younger have the right to praise the passing of a bill supporting equal rights?  Support is always good, mind you.  Having the support of people who in the past did wrongdoings makes the position stronger.  However, where is the line between support and hypocritical praise?  Perhaps if the racist spent time in jail or got in trouble in some other way, his debt to society was paid and he has all the right to praise without hypocrisy.  Yet, what if he never got in trouble?  Is there hypocrisy in his praise?  To me, the matter gets complicated.  Perhaps people take the solid position of "well, people can change for the better," but I am sure there are those out there who would want the once-corrupted senator to stay away from the new politician.

Of course, this does not mean to be pretentious about matters, either.  For example, if someone who typically receives B's in school congratulates a typically-A student for getting a high grde, there is nothing wrong and no hypocrisy.  To me, this is support that is productive, as the A student will hopefully praise the B student as well.

Perhaps I have this all wrong, and people, no matter what they have done or do, are free to praise whomever they want with no second thoughts.  Comments?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On Sprinklers

Now that summer is here, there is plenty of lawn-watering action going on.  I like well-maintained lawns, and I find landscaping interesting.  However, I do not understand why some sprinklers are incredibly inefficient.

The other day, I was walking to work when a sprinkler system suddenly came on.  Instead of watering the grass, it suddenly sprayed me in the face as I walked on the sidewalk.  It seemed that this sprinkler was meant to go over the sidewalk and water the small patch of grass between the sidewalk and the road.  I found this incredibly wasteful and inefficient since most of the water was either spraying the road, the sidewalk, or me.  To add, the sidewalk had become dirty and had a red tint from all the watering (the red is iron form the soil rusting in case you wondered).  In short, they should have designed a better system.

Friday, June 18, 2010

On Posters

I'll admit that this topic is a bit random, but I really do like posters.  They are a (usually) cheap decoration and they are incredibly varied.  Recently, I bought a poster of Albert Einstein riding a bicycle, as shown on the link on this page.  It's the little things like this that really make a room (or a house, on the larger scale) more personal.  Add a $10 frame and you have got something (I ersonally use sticky-tac). 

This poster goes with a varied collection I have, and it really adds to the asthetics of a room.  I have included links to some of my favorites (Amazon has a great selection of posters, by the way).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On Anticipation

Anticipation is an unfortunate part of our daily lives. We anticipate practcially everything, from responses to questions to job offers to promotions to college acceptances, and the nervous feelings can really take their toll over time.

This past year has had its fair share of anticipation for me. As a result, I have developed a mindset to help cope with anticipation. It involves several steps, but it is fairly simple and has helped me tremendously lately.

The first step is to expect the worst. Now this sounds paradoxical, hypocritical, and probably some other words with -al endings. Of course, this isn't meant to be taken completely literally. It doesn't mean go out and build a bomb shelter stacked with decades worth of canned food in the event of a nuclear war. No. It means that you need to recognize what the worst possible outcomes are. For example, in regards to college, if you recognize the fact that you can in fact be rejected, it will not be as painful as it would be if you were gung-ho about getting in (This ties back to not living in a false reality and recognizing all possibilities - don't convince yourslef that you will get whatever you want). You should not, however, dwell on the worst. Of course it's best to be positive and hopeful, and that should be in your head 95% of the time. Every once in a while, however, you just need to remind yourself that the situation is not in your control and anything could happen. Look for the best, but know other things can happen. It lessons shock and pain.

The second step is to find distraction - a healthy distraction that is. Instead of sitting around thinking about what could happen, go out and be active. Physical activity is a great stress relief, but there are many outlets, whether they are athletic, artistic, or musical. If you focus on these activities, the anticipated "thing," whatever it may be, will not be so prominent. For the college example, focusing on other activities and not the letter in the mail will make the time go by faster and be more enjoyable.

Third, when the anticipated event does occur, you are allowed to be sad/frustrated/upset if things go wrong, but you also must recognize that everything has its purpose. You can be angry or sad for as long as it takes to heal, but if you keep having the negative thoughts stuck in your head they are affecting no one and hurting no one except for you. In a lighter example, say you asked a girl out. If she rejects, you have a right to be sad. Nevertheless, if you keep thinking negative thoughts about her, it has zero effect on her. She can't hear your rants in your head; only you can hear them. Focus on the positives, and recognize that negative thoughts only hurt you. Life goes on, and everything happens for a reason. In another example, if you are rejected from a college, simply say, "It wasn't meant to be," and move on.

Fourth and finally, you must learn from the experience. You must look back and ask, "What could I do differently next time?" if the outcome was unfavorable or "What brought about that success?" if things went well. You will be able to learn from the experience, regardless of the outcome. The next time you are confronted with the situation, or a similar one, you will be prepared, increasing your chances of success.

So, anticipation is almost unavoidable, but following these steps can makes experiences better and less stressful.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On Being Really Tired And Somehow Making a Blog Post About It

So I'm tired enough that I cannot think of a blog topic. I woke up, powerwashed around my pool, went to work for six hours, went to the beach for a short time, then came home and powerwashed. Woo.

Now I said in the beginning that I would not blog about my daily life. This is one of those rare exceptions. I just cannot think of anything. I promise better things soon!

The moral of this post is that it is the epitome of bad posting! So if you start a blog, don't do this!

Monday, June 14, 2010

On Rushing

Simply put, we live in a world that needs to slow down.

Sadly, I only realized the true extent of my rushing not too long ago. I'm usually relaxed about most situations, but in some cases I always feel rushed and have a need to get somewhere as quickly as possible. For example, there may be a family party at 2, and I will be incredibly anxious to get there on time. I will get irritated that people are not ready when they need to be, and I will be rushing myself and others.

Nevertheless, the irony occurs when it is time to leave. When I want to go home, I really want to go home. I am rushing and pushing to leave a place that I had rushed and pushed to get to in the first place. It's not necessarily family parties; it could be a number of things. Sometimes I rush to get somewhere, stay as long as I want, and then rush to get to the next destination. It is not healthy to live a life like this.

I have personally calmed down, but many others need to recognize how much enjoyment they are missing out on. When you're not rushed, your mind is at ease, and you will be in a much better mood when you arrive at your destination, regardless of how late or early you are. Many a time I have seen parents rush to take kids to practices or games, driving recklessly, only to rush to get back home. It's not necessary (sometimes there are urgent matters, but most of the time it's overexaggerated and stressful). I like to take the "years from now" approach. Will it matter in years from now that you didn't get there exactly on time? No - what matters is that you went to the family party/game/restaurant. Life is meant for enjoyment - it is not some rat race to see how many things can be done in one day and how efficiently they can be done.

So, for your safety, sanity, and overall enjoyment of life, slow down!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Saying Hello

Yesterday I was mowing my lawn (and getting mad at myself for not posting in a while), when a man walked by. I waved hello to him, he waved back, I continued mowing the lawn, he kept walking, and I had an idea for a post.

We always downplay the importance of saying hello to others, or even the simple importance of being courteous. We often just pass by people and never acknowledge them, and I used to do the same thing until a man came to my school quite a few years ago and shared us a story with us.

Some time ago, a man committed suicide by jumping off of the Golden Gate bridge. People were shocked that he would do such a thing, but he was depressed and felt separated from the world. In a note he left behind, he explained how he was going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiled at him or said hello, he would turn around and go home. Just one person. Nevertheless, this never happened, and he jumped off.

I'm not saying that a person's life depends on you greeting him or her or smiling. This of course is almost never the case. Regardless, the effect that smiling or greeting someone can have is tremendous. Perhaps your courtesy could be a positive aspect of an otherwise dismal day. For example, I stopped at a food store today while leaving work to grab something small to eat, and a friend of mine was working there (I had no idea he worked there). As I was about to pay, he said, "Don't worry about it," and gave a donut to me for free. It was a small gesture, but it was really uplifting given the rainy weather and how exhausted I felt. This little gesture really had a larger effect on me.

So, say hello! Be friendly! When I go running, I greet everyone I can. It really throws people off guard (in a good way - they almost always react positively). Just a simple "Hey" or "Hi" will suffice. Your small gesture could mean the world to someone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Chocolate Milk

There is no deep lesson behind this post (that's my disclaimer). It is simply a warning.

A few days ago friends at another school invited me and some other runners to run in their "2nd Annual Chocolate Milk Mile." It seemed like a great idea to prove my manliness and prove that my stomach could handle anything. Sure, I hadn't drank chocolate milk since 3rd grade, but what did that matter? Sure I didn't even really like chocolate milk, but what's taste when you have a race to WIN?! I definitely experienced a bit of the tragic hero's hubris right there.

To start things off, I was running a bit late to the race. I spent about 12 minutes looking for my iPod to play in the car and never actually found it (I found it instantly once I returned home afterward). When I finally arrived at the track some 20 minutes later (Hooray traffic and 25MPH drivers in 40MPH zones!), they were just about to begin. I rushed down to the track to quickly get on the line and get a rather full cup of chocolate milk.

Before I realized it, the race had begun, and almost everyone chugged his milk in less than 2 seconds. I was left on the line sipping mine, and I started off in a decent last. I was able to pull some people back, but I was in a clear disadvantage. I chugged my next cup of milk after the first lap much quicker, and I was making up ground. Up until that point, my stomach was fairing well. I say up until that point, because my mind finally caught up with my stomach, which was yelling "Hey a**h***! Stop!" Pushing through it I made it to the end of the second lap feeling thoroughly sick. After a quick breather and a third (and very full) cup of chocolate milk, I was running again. This time I was determined. I saw one of my friends off to the side of the track puking - one of the early favorites was out! I continued to push, and as I came around the straightaway to finish the third lap, my stomach was now screaming. I finished my fourth and final cup rather quickly, and I was soon in the top five places. Then my conscience spoke. "Why are you doing this?" it asked. "You feel like crap, and you have drank a quart of chocolate milk. You don't even like a chocolate milk. I hope you're walking down the street and you get splashed by a car or the cat throws up on your rug or SOMETHING to punish you for doing this!" I sort of jogged in the last 100 meters or so because he was right. I had to swallow my pride, and my stomach's ego was shot.

And no, I didn't throw up, even when one of my friends punched me in the stomach afterward to see if I would. But I was very uncomfortable, especially in the 80+ degree (Fahrenheit) heat. One poor kid threw up every lap.

Don't do this if you have the chance. Be the cameraman (or woman) or the person who hands out the milk. For the love of God, do not run a mile after drinking a quart of chocolate milk. Thank you.

Poll #2 Results!

In Shabangity's second poll, we asked our readers when they felt most productive. Here are the results (Percentages add up to over 100% becasue people could choose multiple answers, so each percentage is the percentage of total survey takers):

Early Morning - 35%
Around Noon - 17%
Mid-Afternoon - 29%
Evening - 29%
Late at night - 29%
Extremely late at night – so late in fat that it is the next day’s early morning - 29%

Be sure to take our next poll, which will be up shortly! I hope we have our best turnout yet!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Running Your Own Race

Now I am an avid runner, and I rarely take a day off, regardless of conditions. Nevertheless, this post is not about actual running since that topic is incredibly important to me and will be one of my larger posts in the future.

When I say "Run your own race," I mean to be in a competition with yourself. By competing against yourself, you are proving your capabilities to no one but your individual being. You can be your harshest critic, but you can also be the most forgiving one. Instead of keeping track of others and trying to outdo what your peers do, focus on yourself and see how you can outdo you (I know it's improper grammar but it sounds cooler that way). You know yourself best, so you will be able to find what needs improvement more quickly than waiting on someone to tell you. That's not to say that peer review is something to ignore, but if you have a good self-awareness and can swallow pride, you will be able to acknowledge what aspects of yourself you need to improve (Of course, if you live in a false reality this might be difficult, if not impossible, so hopefully that can be overcome as well).

By competing against yourself, you do not need to worry yourself about end rewards and what people will think of you. If you give your best and are truly determined to outdo what you have done in the past, people will be impressed. By not worrying about how others will judge you, you will be able to push boundaries and discover abilities that you would originally be uncomfortable exploiting. This could be finally ignoring others and going out on the dance floor to do your own thing, or it could be standing up for the underdog. To me, a confident person who is willing to push boundaries and possibly look foolish is far, far better than someone who cares too much about appearances and will never truly experience opportunities.

This leads me to my next point. When we push our boundaries by competing against ourselves and ignoring any worries, the end rewards will be abundant. People recognize genuine hard work, even if they do not indicate that they can at first, and this can open up great opportunities, whether it is scholarships, college acceptances, job offers, or just genuine friendship. I have followed this philosophy for a very long time, and it has rarely, if ever, failed me.

So, what is an example of running your own race? A good traditional one is academics and grades. Say Tom is always getting high scores on tests, and people are always very conscientious of this. You usually score a little below him, so no one really pays that much attention to you. Typically, someone would set their sights on beating Tom and Tom only. Do not make this mistake. Compete against yourself. Did you get a 90 on a test, and want to beat Tom's 97? Work hard, and concentrate solely on beating your last performance. By not being preoccupied with Tom, you will have more time to focus on what you need to do. If you focus on one person, you will be begin focusing on others. Soon you may learn that Sally also got a 97, and Bob got a 96. Why keep track of all this when you can devote more energy to seeing what you can do, not others. Many a time you will wind up beating your "Tom" or "Sally" or "Bob" unintentionally, as your concentration on beating yourself pushed you that far above.

Believe me, you will find a great peace of mind when you compete against yourself. The satisfaction of knowing you have performed better than you ever have before is far greater than knowing that you beat some other person.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

On Fear

This past weekend, I stayed at a beach motel with a couple of friends. On the last night, we all decided to walk over to the beach to relax and play music. After being out for 20 minutes or so, the lightning storms that were in the distance were suddenly directly over us. The lightning was a little too close for comfort, so we grabbed our things and headed back to the motel.

About an hour later, there was still lightning, but it seemed farther off. Three of my friends wanted to go back to the beach to watch the lightning, but I was hesitant to go. I was downright scared of the lightning-beach-water-(just complete open area) combination, so I was not going to go. Nevertheless, I changed my mind last minute and decided to accompany them.

By the time we got to the beach, I noticed that the lightning was so far out to sea that it could not even be heard; only the sound of the ocean surf remained. The sight was absolutely beautiful, and we watched for over an hour as the lightning flashed in the distance and drifted farther and farther away. The sky would be black one moment, and the next it would flash into mixtures of orange, white, and purple (I was a little bummed that I forgot my camera).

My lesson from this little story is to know when fears are quantified and when they are unreal and holding you back. When the lightning forst came, the fear was justifiable. The second time, however, there was no danger, as the agent causing the fear was far away. Had I listened to my fear at that point, I would have missed out on an amazing opportunity.

So, take time to dissect your fears. Which ones are real? Which ones are paranoia? Even better, which ones have passed (Are clowns really as scary as they were when you were 5?)? By overcoming unjustifiable fears, especially those in which the agent causing the fear is far away (i.e. the lightning), you will most likely find something beautiful or new.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Isolation

Isolation. The state of being separated. The word isolation usually gives off a negative connotation, but in terms of lifestyle, it is vital to maintain happiness and rid yourself of stress. Stress comes with being overwhelmed and simply being annoyed by obnoxious individuals who for some reason always are able to pluck a string that sends you overboard. When frustrated, the best solution I realize is to isolate yourself from others and find a productive activity to do that allows yourself to enjoy yourself. Too much time is devoted to spending time with others and worry about what other think or want. Sometimes, you need to just isolate yourself and pick up an activity that you love.

My activity is cycling, or commonly known as bike-riding. It is the perfect activity to indulge in because of its invaluable benefits. What is nicer to do on a beautiful sunny day than ride a bike through mother nature, taking in the the sights and sounds that she has to offer? Nothing else brings a smirk to your face in times when you're frustrated than to take in some fresh air, reminisce on all your thoughts and feelings, and get yourself in shape at the same time. If you haven't taken up bike-riding and you feel that you need time for yourself, I highly recommend it. Not only is it enjoyable, but it also makes you feel like a fresh, new person. It's just refreshing.

I could continue to go on and talk about all the different types of activities and the things I like to do to just get away, but each person needs to experience something that he/she loves on their own. I just want to say most importantly: take time for yourself and find your own happiness. By doing this, there will be a new self that you will be happy with. Knowing that you can escape from your troubles and take up something as pleasurable as cycling is important. So please, try out that activity that people would make fun of you for or something you have never had time to do, because in the end, you will feel like a completely new person. Have fun and REMEMBER...Indulge yourself.

On Complete and Absolute, Full-Fledged Rudeness

I was about to begin writing something else, but I just realized that rudeness is actually a part of false reality. Some people are completely ambivalent toward their environments and are self-centered enough to not realize how obnoxious they can be.

The other night I was at an awards ceremony for varsity sports - nothing fancy, but it was a nice ceremony of sorts. Each team was called up, and the coaches would (sometimes) talk briefly about the seasons and key athletes/senior players (excessively-long speeches fall into yet another category of false reality). Everything was going smoothly, until the table for a "certain team" next to us began to talk. It started as chatter which was fine. It was a little rude since they were ignoring who was talking, and it was definitely disrespectful toward their fellow athletes. I was a little irritated, but this little chit-chatting was sonorous compared to what developed.

This team was eventually called up, they did their little go-us! speech while most listened politely, and then they sat down. Before the announcer had time to call up the next team, the chatty table was back at it, and they were going full force. The "ring-leader," a.k.a the person who was initiating conversations a.k.a. rude jerk a.k.a. the person who inspired this blog was none other than their coach. Yes, the coach, who is expected to be the most respectful, was being blatantly rude. She even made a point to turn who back to whoever was speaking at the time and talk in a very audible voice - no whispers here. Oh, did I mention that she was in the front row? In plain sight? Must have left that out somewhere.

With each successive team, this coach and three or four members of the team talked increasingly louder. Eventually, they were talking so loud that even teams that had been talking quietly and not overly paying attention began to give the pack disgusted stares. Being in false realities, of course, their naiveness (still a word) allowed them to continue on without taking any notice. Even when several people from several other teams told them to be quiet, they paid no attention (especially the coach), and continued to talk. It was pathetic.

Soon, one of them said something that they somehow found funny (Do you detect the disgust in how I said that?), and one girl laughed out loud (a.k.a. lol-ed or "lawlzed") incredibly loud.

So, if you are one of these people, get a reality check. Now. No don't wait to finish your television show or even bother to finish reading this. Get a reality check now. It was so incredibly rude and disrespectful, so please do not live under the impression that you're high and mighty and can disregard others. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On False Realities

Now this is a subject I am very interested in, so this will probably be my first of several posts on this topic.

What is a false reality? To me, it means that a person cannot grasp what their lives actually are. They convince themselves of false circumstances and view themselves in the wrong light. False reality and naiveness (yes it's a word) go hand in hand, as the person is either so headstrong (usually the case) or so unconfident that he or she is completely unaware of their actual status.

For example, there was once this person I knew who picked fights with many people, especially those close to him/her, and the disputes would drag on for very long times. Sometimes he/she would not talk to a his/her old friend for very long times, constantly expressing anger toward that person and pretending like they were never good friends. Nevertheless, this same person described him/herself as "very forgiving" when asked if they were a forgiving person. This is a false reality.

High school is especially full of false realities, especially during the college application process. Many people applied to extremely hard schools, which is fine and commendable. Nevertheless, they took it a step further by convincing themselves and bragging that they would not only get into these harder schools, some of which were Ivies, but they also thought that they would get extremely good financial aide or even full rides. These people were good students, but not the caliber to receive full rides, that's for sure. Almost no one gets those. Yet, these people were so convinced and were living in such fallacious realities that when rejection came, they were furious and confused. I'll admit, I was a bit overconfident, and rejections that I wasn't completely expecting hurt. However, I knew that college is anyone's game (for the most part) when it comes to applying, so I was not too shocked. Those who lived in false realities were very hurt, with the false reality being a prime contributer.

False realities work in the opposite way as well. I know people who are very convinced that they cannot achieve what they are capable of. This to me is the sadder and more troubling false reality. In the overconfident version, people become so boastful and let down so suddenly that it becomes comical. In the opposite version, however, I see people who cannot break free from their own mental constraints and achieve at their highest potential. These people need others to support them and show them what they are truly capable of, and they need to overcome the "I simply can't do that" excuse.

Sometimes this situation arises because others who lived in overconfident false realities put down those who could achieve since they could not stand to see someone do something they could not do. This can be as simple as someone who was cut from the soccer team telling a younger and promising player that they really are not as good as they think. It could also be as complicated as a parent who only made it to the eighth grade forcing his or her bright child to drop out at the same age because they are jealous and cannot see the child outsmart him- or herself.

Those are some initial thoughts on this subject, and there will be more to come. My advice - be aware of what you can and cannot do. Do not be afraid to push boundaries, but do not be so boastful and overconfident that when failure comes, you look like a fool and are devastated. Part of discovering yourself is escaping false reality and finding peace with both your talents and aspects of yourself that are not "ideal."


Poll Results

Here are the results of the first Shabangity Poll, asking how many hours of sleep, on average, do you get each night:

Less than 5 hours: 17%
5 to 7 hours: 35%
8 to 9 hours: 35%
More than 9 hours: 11%

Be sure to vote in our next poll! Note that there is a scroll so you can see the whole thing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On Mowing the Lawn

Yesterday I decided to quickly mow my lawn before any of the forecasted rain came. As I finished mowing my front lawn and moved to the back, I realized how much I love mowing my lawn. Through thick and thin, my mower and I have pulled through to tame what wilderness (a.k.a. lawn) we can tame. I have been mowing my lawn for about 10 years or so, and I have never gotten bored. Never. I've been stung by bees, wasps, and hornets. I've had confrontations with angry groundhogs and have accidentally run over all sorts of things (tennis balls seem to go the farthest - they get sliced and shot out the side some 40 feet - it's awesome). Even when I'm on the verge of boredom, all I need to do is switch up my mowing pattern and voila! light/dark contrast in the grass makes cool new patterns (I've been into the square lately)! To me, there's something oddly exhilarating about chopping down the grass.

This is also a bit odd. While I have never tired on mowing my lawn, there have been many other things I have grown out of or grown bored of. I rarely play videogames anymore, even though I used to do so quite a bit 3 or 4 years ago. Even when I played one videogame would get less exciting, prompting me to move onto the next one. I think we've all experienced it, but people too can get boring or cease to be that same person you once knew. We move one from these things and people, yet there are still routines or objects that remain the same and do not lose their value.

I truly enjoy having this simple aspect of me that does not overly change. We are all constantly changing throughout our lives, but we tend to forget the basic parts of us that remain the same. I am all for looking toward the future while enjoying the present, but recognizing what beneficial objects that we still hold on to from the past is still key. These unchanging, un-boring routines or items will be there in spite of what may happen to us otherwise. They provide normalcy and usually a sense of security and calm. Mine happens to be as quirky as mowing the lawn. I encourage all to look at their lives and find something that they enjoy that does not change (positive thing, mind you). No matter what happens, you'll have something to turn to for stability.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Egos amount into...

People who struggle in life are individuals that allow their egos to take over their existence. In a reading that I recently came across, this quote sticks out to me and explains a great deal of why people who create big egos for themselves, struggle with the basic fundamental of life: living. In a short novel by Stuart Wilde, he mentions, "Strugglers usually have big egos because they allow their egos/personalities to talk them into a greater opinion of themselves than they can sustain".

Someone who does not know his/her place in the world finds it difficult to live. By creating an ego that is superior to others, it makes him/her feel more welcome in society. Their ego has to be exaggerated because they don't believe or see the worth in what they are. They exaggerate their life in a manner that they can remain hopeful for some of their ego to rub off.

An ego is described as an inflated feeling of pride in one's superiority to others. The reason I bring up this issue is because throughout life, I realize that no matter where you want to go or do, you have to deal with people and for most, their egos. In my opinion, this three letter word is perfectly named. E-G-O. An ego is an easy go away from one's personality.

Growing up from a young age, I have encountered numerous people in my life and have gotten a grasp for what happiness is and I see the people who possess it. Throughout my life, my father preached to me the importance of growing up to be just like him and play college baseball. Why? Because it was something he enjoyed to do. As a father of three and a divorcee of my mother, his only claim to fame in life is his college baseball career for a Division 1 university. How impressive is that? Well, it doesn't sound like much and it really isn't much. He is exaggerating his one significant life instance to make himself feel worthy. My ex-best friend has also gone through a bit of an ego issue as well. After receiving acceptance letters from every college he applied to, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UPenn, etc., he engulfed my bombarded eyes with endless amounts of "Congratulations on your acceptance into..." papers. He walks around as a billboard showing off proudly where he is going. He walks around thinking he can do whatever he can, whatever he wants because of who he is, an incoming student at an Ivy League school. I am happy for him, but at the same time, when someone asks you to continuously compliment them on their achievement and embrace it with a new light each time you hear it mentioned...there's just no tolerance left in the tank for that sort of thing.

Someone who had it all figured out was my recent sister. She understood that in order to enjoy life and squeeze the most out of it, that the most important thing to do was to discover your inner self. By discovering your inner self and then taking up activities to find out who you are and what your place is on the world, a life struggler is eliminated. My sister was comfortable with her role in the world and her own being. She had a liver disease and was always marked as a 'liability' and 'disabled' child from birth, she never allowed that to affect the way she felt about life. She was always happy because she was able to block out anything pertaining to egos and completely forget about them. She found her inner self and what made her feel good. She didn't care about impressing others or holding onto something that enhances her life, even till her recent passing away. What is remembered of her is her ability to keep a smile at all times and spread her happiness around the world.

So I guess you come to ask why I would write about egos. Well, I just wanted to touch on the fact that by getting caught up in your ego and how others perceive you, you are just wasting away precious life moments away. Egos may impress others, but at the end of the day, if that's all you have to fall back on, then you aren't doing too hot. Concern yourself with doing things you enjoy, surrounding yourself with people you love and laugh with, and allowing yourself to do what you need to do in every circumstance. All I guess I really wanted to say is that egos amount into NOTHING. They are NO GOOD. If anything, it makes others see you as an individual struggling with life and your self-worth. Enjoy every day like it's your last and forget about egos and what you have done in life, whether it is go on a bike ride, go on a swim, or go play college baseball. Just enjoy the moment and find happiness. The people who can do this, will succeed in life, just as my sister did. -CJ B

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Picture Gallery!

For those of you who enjoy aesthetics, I've just added a picture gallery to that contains some of my favorites of the pictures I have taken while traveling. It's a little slow adding the pictures so there will be more over time. The link can be found right under the survey. Enjoy!


Friday, May 28, 2010

On Terrible Driving

Yesterday statistics were released indictating which states had the best and worst drivers. According to this study, my good old home state of New Jersey is ranked number 2, right behind New York, for worst drivers. This is far from surprising.

In my short driving tenure, I have seen some of the stupidest things while driving. A few weeks ago a woman tailgated me on the Parkway while putting her make up on and talking on a cell phone. She hit the rumble strips, dropped her make-up, and finally realized how idiotic she was being. She backed away a bit after that.

I have also seen two instances of people running red lights while a cop was right there. The first time, I was approaching a yellow light, and it was far away so I slowed down. Nevertheless, the man in the lane next to me sped up and went through the light that had been red for several seconds. A cop was sitting at the intersection and immediately pulled the man over.

The car involved in the second incident was luckier on several grounds. First, (s)he pulled into the intersection even though the light had been red for a long time, so (s)he was incredibly lucky that (s)he did not get into an accident. Second, there was once again a cop sitting at the inersection, and for whatever reason the cop let the person go. My guess is that the cop did this so the driver would feel like a complete jerk, and (s)he was probably kicking him/herself for the rest of the day over it. (Sorry for the gender neutral sentences - I didn't see the driver and do not want to be accused of throwing one gender under the bus! No pun intended)

Now with all these poor drivers (especially in NJ, go figure), there is bound to be road rage. This is my time for a public service announcement. Control your driving. In a defensive driver course I painstakingly sat through for 6 or 7 or 349 hours or so (time ceased to exist after 2 hours), the instructor told us to let terrible drivers have their accidents somewhere else. You can respond to tailgating or unneccessary behavior with anger and retalliation, but it could cause some serious problems. Keep your cool, and let that person will be speeding away from you. You will most likely never see them again. The same applies for other situations. In the shotr run someone may anger you, but you have to let that person get away a cause havok somewhere else.

Also, do not text and drive. (I'll stop my warnings soon do not worry - but Oprah wants us to spread this message. No I do not watch it I've just heard). There's no need and it's incredibly dangerous. Check out this website for an interactive texting and driving game!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

On Birds

The other day I let my friend borrow my tent, and when I got it back it was soaking wet from the morning dew (not their fault, nature's). Following standard protocol, I immediately set up the tent to let it dry out and air out. I put the tent in a sunny patch in my backyard, and I put the rain cover out on my pool deck. I tied the ends of the rain cover to four chairs to spread it out to allow it to dry the quickest.

When I returned several hours later, there was bird poop on the tarp, which lead me to believe that the birds did it on purpose, because there were quite a few "splotches." Not only did I have to wash the tarp off and re-dry it, but I began to ponder how skilled birds are in, well, "aiming."

At track practice one day in seventh grade, and eighth grade girl was running around the field when a bird got her on the head. Understandably, she screamed and ran inside for the next 45 minutes washing her hair over and over and over again. As bad as it had been, I was really impressed by the birds skills. Definitely army sniper material.

I forgot about this event until a month and a half ago. I was running, and I looked down at my shirt. I had been hit. Awesome. I did not even notice; the bird had been stealth. Now that I was the victim, it did not seem so cool, but I thought about this incredible accuracy again. The birds have to recognize the difference in their velocities and the velocity of the target. Both the girl and I had been running when it happened, a difficult task indeed. I think the birds know quite a bit about two dimensional and relative motion.

Either way, this is what is on my mind right now, as random as it seems. I have been told that it is good luck for this to happen. To me, it just means a long time in the shower.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Author!

I also just want to mention that there will now be two blog authors for Our posts will either end in "-MM" or "-CJB" to distinguish us. This brings a great new perspective to Shabangity!


On Cooking

So today I went to heat up some leftover baked beans from our "bar-b-que" dinner the other night, and I learned that after about 33 seconds of cooking in the microwave baked beans explode. It was really cool, but I had to stop before my meal was obliterated (Besides, the beans were more than hot at this point, anyway). After burning the roof of my mouth, I realized that I should probably share my thoughts on cooking mishaps (which of course I did not realize I had such thoughts until right then).

Naturally, today's mishap comes after a long succession of mishaps. When I was about 7 or 8, I received a "Cooking with Chemistry" kit that was supposed to teach me science through cooking. I failed miserably. Being self-righteous and having the attitude that I "didn't need no stinkin' directions," I neglected to read that you must take the homemade gelatin out of the mold before sticking it into the microwave. After about 45 seconds the mold imploded, smoked and bubbled for a brief moment, and then collapsed into a sticky and cruddy mess on the glass plate in the microwave. Half out of it from the noxious fumes, I ran to my mom to get her to clean it up. I should have known better; I scraped every last bit of that mess out while she watched.

More recently, I decided that it would be a novel idea to butter my toast before putting it into the toaster, as we keep our butter in the refrigerator. Doing so cools the butter to the most perfect, irritatingly un-spreadable temperature. My idea would solve that and make a nice type of "butter bread." My sister, who is four years younger than me, warned me against doing so since she said the toaster would catch on fire. Naturally, since I had read Ayn Rand and taken Calculus, I was right, so I went ahead with my idea.

The butter melted, dripped onto the heating element, and immediately caught fire.

Luckily my sister saw this happen and unplugged the toaster before further damage occurred, as I was in the other room reading, being oh-so-confident in my plan that I did not even need to be there. The toaster was trashed, and we had to buy a new one.

Now, where is the learning in all this? The deeper meaning? I think, toasters and microwaves aside, that cooking mishaps, when they do not hurt anyone, can be great ways to experiment and learn. They reveal that hey, we are not perfect - we make laughable mistakes. My mom still makes fun of me for the incident, and I wrote about it in a college essay (I got into that college).

So, experiment! Have fun (safely of course - don't want lawsuits)! Here's a video of some REALLY cool microwave tricks! DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT try them please! Just watch ;)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On Sleeping

For the past few nights, I have been awakened at exactly 11:32 by my little white cat. During the daytime she is pleasant and, well, just downright adorable. Nevertheless, at this specific time each night for the past week or so, some sort of chronological demon overtakes her, belting out a low and mournful noise from the cat's small body. I would call it a meow, but it's not. Definitely not. Whatever this noise is, it is incredibly loud and prevents me from falling asleep. This usually ends when I wake up and chase her down the hallway shouting "shut-up," and I pray that I fall into a deep sleep before she begins again.

My inability to fall asleep lead me to think about sleep in general and how little we seem to value this precious aspect of our lives. I am incredibly anal about getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, and it irritates me if I cannot do so. I am an avid runner, and my coach has long stressed getting in bed by 10PM two nights before a race. I do not know why sleeping two nights before a race affects you more than the sleep the night before (granted you do not go to bed at 2 in the morning and get up at, say, 6 in the morning the day of the race), but I know mentally you are guaranteeing good sleep somewhere in the process (instead of freaking out the night before from nerves/overstudying if its a test). Time after time my coach's wisdom have proven to be accurate; my best races have been when I went to bed before 10PM two nights before a race, and this holds true even if I went to bed around 11:30 the next night (that's late for me).

I read not too long ago that the average amount of sleep per night that an American gets is about 5 hours. What gets me is not the lack of sleep but the fact that most of us never experience life fully awake. Just imagine the potential people are missing out on! If we drift through in a sleep-deprived state there is no way that we are experiencing and appreciating life to the fullest. This is not to mention the health risks involved (a recent study linked having an average of 6 hours of sleep or less per night shortened life spans) or other dangers such as falling asleep at the wheel of a car (Never want to encounter that person on the road).

Of course, this lack of sleep is not always in our control. When I was in Hawaii a number of years ago, a man explained to us that he held down two jobs, one during the day and one during the night, and he averaged 4-5 hours of sleep per night, which he claimed was fine for him. He got off from work one day each week. As a victim of his circumstance, which includes the fact that islands like Hawaii have increased prices for everyday items that need to be imported, increasing the cost of living, this man was losing precious sleep.

So, I ask that readers look more into this topic and see how they could live happier and fuller lives with more sleep. This website I found provides great information on sleep in general and diagnosing if you have a sleeping problem.

As my coach has told me several times now, nothing good happens after midnight, as people get bored (and boring) and tired exponentially after this benchmark. Remember this next time you pop Avatar into the DVD player at 1 in the morning.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Welcome to Shabangity!

Hey all (However long it takes people to find this blog)! I have established this blog to be a place to discuss issues, philosophies, and new findings, whether it is music, ideas, or technology. I have many, many interests, and I hope that you can find your niche at this site. I am not going to clutter this blog with play-by-play snapshots of my life, but I will use my experiences to build upon ideas. I want to give a new spin to ideas by bringing in connections that may not have been originally thought of. I desire to provide meditations that will help you all as viewers better understand your worlds. Stay tuned for more to come!