Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Time

Hey everyone! It’s been a while. You know, life and all. I’m just going to give you a brief message to commemorate this special day.

Christmas is a special time for Christians, obviously. What does it celebrate? Nowadays it is more of a secular holiday, with stores raking in huge profits and everyone exchanging gifts. For Christians, it is the day when our Lord and Savior was born. I am a Catholic, although I can say that I like indulging in gifts and fancy dinners, haha. Can non-Christians celebrate Christmas? Technically, no, since that would involve remembering Christ, but holidays like these usually invoke a sense of well being and kindness for our fellow men, so in that sense they can participate in the celebration. It’s good to not forget this aspect of holidays, to all be united and to share love with our family and friends. As for Christians, we also should remember the birth of our Lord and to celebrate that as well. I love holidays like Christmas because it puts all these things in perspective. We all have our problems, but most of us should be grateful for what we have, and so it’s important to not lose sight of this.

I know it’s a bit late, but I wish everyone a Merry Christmas with blessings from God. I hope everyone can enjoy this holiday season!!!

And don’t worry, I’ve been having a busy and rough semester, but I will try my hardest to keep this alive. Thanks for your support!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Beauty and Aesthetics

Wow….two months have gone by since I’ve written for this blog. What a lazy guy, right? Distracted by work, friends, sleep, etc. But hopefully I can churn out some quality writing more frequently.

Oh, and about the Lenten thing- I’ll talk about that another time!

But now……..time for the post for today, which will be about beauty.

“Beauty, you say?” Yup, beauty. More importantly, aesthetics. Why am I talking about this? Well, I’ve always been interested in looks. Funnily enough, I myself am not a vain person per se; I don’t go out of my way to look incredible, for instance. I am just an average guy with average looks. I do like things that are visually appealing though. Beautiful architecture, beautiful women, beautiful scenery, beautiful technology. Beauty manifests itself in many ways and many forms.

Actually, this topic came to mind a few weeks ago. If you’ve noticed, the blog has a brand spankin’ new look to it. After visiting from an extended absence, I noticed that the blog had a new “edit template” to it and so I decided to fiddle with it. After a while of exploring the options, I made it work and got the result that you now see on the blog. Looks nice, right? And so, I got to thinking- I need a new topic for the blog, so why not comment on how I changed the look? This led me to think about aesthetics in general.

Ever since I was small, I’ve liked drawing and coloring. Unfortunately, I was never good at drawing, although my techniques have vastly improved since my stick figure days. I was good at coloring though, since back in the days, your biggest worry is keeping inside the lines. I also have thought that I have a good sense of color matching. I don’t use this to match my clothing, because it works slightly different and until very recently, I’ve never cared much about clothing or that kind of thing. But colors…..like coloring scenery, or making patterns for robots, that sort of thing I liked and was pretty good at. I’ve never taken an art course before (although I will soon!) so my knowledge isn’t academic but more innate, I think. It’s nice to arrange things to bring out the colors or make certain things stand out more than others, like stocking sodas of different flavors.

I’ve always been fascinated by colors. My favorite color used to be red, since I was a huge fan of the Power Rangers, and come on, who doesn’t want to be the Red Ranger? But soon, I started developing a leaning towards gold, white, and black. Right now, I prefer blue more than anything but I appreciate every color and I know how each color can look nicer when paired with another complementary color.

Beauty in general is a mysterious thing. Most people admire beautiful things more than ugly things, but many people disagree what beauty truly is. Some women who are considered beautiful by some could be considered only average by others, although there does seem to be a consensus on who the most beautiful women are. There are women who aren’t that appealing to most but a few people find them absolutely amazing. Of course, this applies to men as well. There are some people who look at art and declare it a masterpiece while others shun it and call that particular piece or style as garbage. Some people find the calm and refreshing beauty of nature appealing while others look at skyscrapers and cities as a sign of technological beauty. beauty is something that cannot be described by only one set of adjectives, it is something that each of us contribute and that no one person can claim as right.

I used to consider people as ugly, evil creatues, but now I can see them as beautiful, in physical, mental, emotional, all different types of aspects. I can now see the beauty in human nature, both as part of nature and as something more. People as well can see beauty and admire beauty in others. I hope that you can also think about beauty and just take a minute to take in the beauty. Till next time, see ya!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What Does It Mean To Be Pro-Life?

Hello all! I’ve been slacking off with blog posts, so I’m going to add another one to the count. Like I said, I’ve been writing a lot about me during this past year and not enough about what I want to talk about (although to be honest, I kind of wanted to tell people all that stuff :D) but at the same time, it served to start developing some of my ideas and also to think about my life. Think of the last year of blogging as an introduction to the mind of an eccentric individual. (I probably said this last blog post too, and upon further inspection, it seems I did. I have a bad memory, heh heh)

This is something I’ve wanted to develop for a while, but due to laziness/forgetfulness/actually being busy, I haven’t had time to write about it or think about it much. I give credit to this nifty little blog I found the other day while stumblingupon (http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2010/05/pro-life-or-anti-sex.html). It is interesting and I have already spent a couple of hours reading the blog posts that Dr. Richard Beck has written.

What does it mean to be pro-life? Usually, when you think “pro-life”, you think in context of the whole abortion debate. I’m not going to get my hand too dirty with that just yet (maybe for a future post), but I will talk about it for a bit now. Wikipedia defines it as thus: “The pro-life movement is a political and social movement focused chiefly around opposition to elective abortion, and support for its legal prohibition or restriction. Those involved in the movement generally maintain that human fetuses and, in most cases, embryos are persons, and therefore have a right to life.” Seems accurate enough, right?

Well, sometimes I have thought about what exactly this means. For an example, Republicans are usually pro-lifers and proclaim to be against abortion and for the protection for the fetus. (Just to make sure, this is not indicating that I am Democrat or anything. I really don’t lean to either side heavily although I do consider myself more liberal.) However, many of them advocate the death penalty for criminals who have done severe crimes. You can take this and reverse it for Democrats. When I see this, I think “really???” Where is the consistency?

To me, what “pro-life” means is more than just in the context of abortion. My ideas on this topic have evolved greatly from when I was smaller. Growing up Catholic, I have always been anti-abortion, and I continue to do so, but now with more reasons to do so and an ability to defend those beliefs. But due to my mindset, I did not see a problem with capital punishment. Once my ideas started evolving, due to an increased desire and thus desire to learn more about theology, as well as my favorite anime show (Rurouni Kenshin, about a former assassin who atones for his killings and talks about the mindset of killing and saving life), my mindset shifted. I started thinking about what it means to really kill someone, if that killing can be justified, and what the meaning and value of life is. I didn’t regard life with much value, but once I assigned human life with a value, a divine one at that, it suddenly became much harder to condone capital punishment. I eventually started to believe that it was wrong to kill someone for punishment, partly because God is the judge, not us, and partly because all human life has value and it should not be taken away so easily. This mindset has only grown during these past couple of years.

So what does this mean for pro-life? For me, “pro-life” means to try to preserve life as much as possible. I do have to specify here, when I talk about life, I am talking about human life. The reason being is that I do not believe that a non-human life carries the same value as a human one, although this is no reason to disrespect animals and such. I simply do not believe that an animal, for instance, carries the same value as a human life, but it is still necessary to take care of them in a loving manner. Anyway, my stance is one of protecting human life. To be truly “pro-life” you should be consistent, in my opinion. How can you truly proclaim to be pro life if you are not really pro life; that is, you’re not promoting the existence of life by killing criminals? Yes, you can make the argument that they deserve it, and I might be inclined to agree that they should be punished. But is it fair to take a life as punishment? Something as precious as life? The same thing with euthanasia. However, I do realize that this is a complex issue. There is no “right” answer; if there was, more people would be following it.

I am not here to tell you to stop, although it would be nice if people could think like me. I just want you to think about what it means to be pro-life and to be consistent in your beliefs. I feel that life is too precious for any one person, organization, or gov’t to just take away. I feel that we should strive to preserve life as much as possible, it is that valuable.

Well, I hope that this gave you at least a bit to think about, and that you can take something out of this reflection. Like I said earlier, don’t forget to visit Dr. Richard Beck’s post. He spoke similar to what I said, although probably in a more intellectual manner and more succinct. Also take a visit to his blog (http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com). Lots of interesting topics to read about.

Till next time, hasta luego!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Particle Physics Antics and Broken Parity

Hey again! This is going to be a short one because I’m lazy. :D

I’ve been meaning to put an astronomy post but it’s been almost a year since I’ve been here and I’ve been neglecting to actually put any relevant information on here, with most of my blog posts talking about me and my problems. Well, I guess they serve as a good introduction. Anyway, today I got into my stumbleupon groove and found a nice little article about particle physics (it’s not astronomy, but close enough, right???).

For One Tiny Instant, Physicists May Have Broken a Law of Nature (http://opa.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=7358)

With a title like that, it has to be ridiculous, right? Well, it is pretty crazy but it’s not “WHOAMG SCIENCE”. Well, at least not to me, because I know a bit or two about what the article’s describing. Basically, these scientist guys in Long Island (hey, that’s right where I live!!!) smashed gold atoms together in order to study parity under extreme conditions. In simple words, parity is the property that the laws of physics do not change when your coordinates are inverted. For a different way to look at it, think of a mirror. When you look in the mirror, parity is conserved. The positioning of yourself is opposite in the mirror; your left hand is inverted, etc. The weak force, which causes radioactivity in atoms, breaks parity law, and this was discovered in the 50’s. However, the strong force, which keeps nuclei together, has conserved parity until now.

The collision of the gold nuclei made a quark-gluon plasma, which is theorized to be what the early universe consisted of in its earliest seconds. The plasma created a very strong magnetic field, and this is what alerted the scientists about the parity breaking, since parity breaking on its own is difficult to detect. A quote on how they saw this happen: the scientists “found that quarks of a like sign moved together: Up quarks moved along the magnetic field lines, while down quarks traveled against them. That the quarks could tell the difference in directions suggested to the researchers that symmetry had been broken.” That is, the quarks knew what direction they were going, as opposed to equal amounts of each going up and down. The scientists, of course, remained a bit skeptical, and want to make sure that it might not be anything else. However, they have hope that this can lead to more discoveries, and maybe some answers into another question, that of the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe.

To me, this sounds like good news for science in general. It would be nice if more programs like this were around to do more sciency things and find more answers. With the LHC, the possibilities for even more discoveries like this seem likely. So remember- contribute! Become a scientist or lobby for more money given to science, or something!

This is all very interesting, and I probably will update the blog with more science news to get some buzz for these things. Till then, see ya and take care!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Woman.

Hello all!!! Today, I want to talk about something that I’ve wanted to talk to for a while. It is something that pertains to everyone, whether you are one of these or not. Woman. A creature with many intricacies, delicacies, twists and turns. Out of all of God’s creations, none has mystified man more than his counterpart, woman.

I’ve been surrounded by woman my whole life. Yes, I have both a father and a mother. However, for the first years of my life (that I remember), I only saw my dad in the afternoons after he had finished work. He then went to rest, as he is a fragile person, even now (he has a sense of superhuman quality to him despite this). He went to rest, and I usually did not see him after dinner. My mother was the one who attended to my every whine and complaint. Later on, my parents opened a grocery store together, so I, as a seven year old, stayed with them till they went home. Two years later, my dad still worked long hours in the store, but my mom was “free” to take care of us back home (I have two sisters) and so, I saw less and less of my father and more and more of my mother. I feel this is one of the reasons why me and my father are not as close as I am with my mother. Anyway, my mother raised me, taught me, punished me, hugged me. My dad could not be there because of work, so my mom had to take over the role of first guardian. Even now I confide more in my mom than I do with my dad.

Growing up with two sisters is not easy. They are almost as old as I am, since I am the oldest and they differ by a year, so my older younger sister is a year younger and my younger younger sister is two years younger than me. We were peers and grew up at the same rate. Although we talked and played with dolls and action figures together, it was not the same as having someone who understands you like a brother would. The difference between man and woman became somewhat apparent here, with my sisters liking to doll themselves up and such while I liked to be rough and be active. Also, due to problems making friends with kids in school, I became more reclused and so I did not develop good social habits, which helped distinguish me between my sisters and I, and even with the rest of my cousins my age. However, I did pick up certain habits, or more accurate to say, influences. Because of being surrounded by girls, I did know some basic girl things, and this knowledge extended into adolescence, like make-up, boy talk, etc. I am bad at picking up more advanced things, but still, a certain amount of influence stuck on me. I am not like a typical male; I am not really interested in cars, or sports, or any of that kind of thing. I like cooking, something typically seen as a womanly thing, and I also have a knack for artistic expression, as seen through the painstaking work I do on powerpoints so that they look visually appealing. I am sensitive, almost to a fault at times. I don’t consider myself a manly man, but just a guy. I can be pretty feminine at times, due to some mannerisms. It is strange to think of myself and identify myself more with women than with men, or at least used to be able to, since now I am somewhat more into what are considered “manly” things, although my core essentials have not changed.

Now to talk about other women. I’ve always had a problem talking to girls. Sure, back then when I didn’t need to worry about sociability and things like that, I was a happy kid. My first friend (in kindergarten, I had a friend in preschool but I never saw him again) was a female, and we were good friends until first grade, when she moved. That began my time of not having friends, which ran all the way until high school. Being a social recluse does not help in making friends, especially girls, who are different from guys. I first began looking at girls in a different way early on, actually. I remember having a crush on my student teacher, and a sort of pseudo-crush on a girl in fifth grade. However, that was only a child thing, puppy love. The first inklings of something more came in seventh grade, when I started thinking about this one girl more and more, but it wasn’t a true crush, since I liked how she looked, but I didn’t like her. This is something important because the way I view people depends on my mood and I can also separate personal feelings from cold analysis (usually). Then came eighth grade. This one girl, everyone liked. And how could they not? A transfer student, so she was virtually unknown, and good looking to boot! However, my attention was not caught until some time after February, and then it was like BAM! “I like this girl”. I was far too shy to ever work up any sort of courage to talk to her though. Then came high school. Second semester of freshman year, I saw this one girl, and it was love at first sight! I was mesmerized, I could not control my feelings. Sure, there were a couple of fairly good looking girls in my school, but that didn’t matter. I either didn’t like their attitudes, and thus were not appealing to me beyond a physical level, or they were taken, or I just wasn’t interested. But this one girl, she flipped my world upside down. It took 3 more years to actually express myself, but since I had never really talked to her before, it freaked her out, and now I sort of regret the way I went around telling her. But it was a learning experience for me. The feelings I had for this girl persisted for a time after that, in fact, until the beginning of this very school year. I can say that this girl was my first crush, definite and total. I am glad that I had enough courage to tell her though, even if indirectly. During this same time, some girls were talking to me and I began coming out of my shell. Of course, they joked around, I joked around, and the manner in which me and them spoke was…….let’s just say it’s not something that is common. This would be a problem in college. Going to college was, among other things, earth-shattering. Strictly talking to women, I was thrust into a position where I was talking to a girl for many hours as my small circle of friends became my new family. Before college, I had problems talking to girls especially, because I got shy around them, especially if I considered them attractive. Rapid exposure in college as well as carryover from high school mostly melted away that shyness. Being in a dorm where the whole top floor was girls also made me get used to talking to girls in a non-joking manner, especially since I didn’t know them very well. However, with my close female friend I made several mistakes and we have fallen apart. Regrettable but in a way it was unavoidable for a person like me to commit mistakes along the way, and I try to learn from them even though some of the same mistakes are cropping up again now. However, I am now far more sociable than I used to be, no longer the kid I was in high school, and I have several female friends. I am not as close to them due to fear of messing up again as well as me just being more compatible with the guys, but I have grown closer to them in certain aspects and I hope that the future will grant me the ability to make very good female friends.

As for what I think about women? They are very interesting. My experiences with my mother differ from those with my sisters and of my peers. I am bad at picking up social cues or any kind of hint for that manner. I can be a pretty dense person. I still cannot understand women well like other people can or have that inner connection with them. However, I can talk to women on a certain level and so far that works for me. I am confused by woman, to be honest. I do not see the point in many of the things they do. What is the point of carrying a large bag? It is useful to have a space to carry utilities, but many of those things seem useless. Of course, now that I can see more details I know that a woman might at any time use their lipstick or whip out a nail filer, like I have seen my sisters do. Other things like interests of women boggle my mind, like how women say they want a nice man but go after the disrespectful men instead. It is a paradox. The belief that women are complicated is not totally unfounded, although it can be exaggerated to dangerous heights. However, some things I can understand, like their sensibility, or the imagining of the pains that only women can bear, or even their trauma. If someone ever tried to do anything to my sisters I know I would be to their defense, but what happens to them, to their feelings? It is not the same for a man to be assaulted and a woman to be raped, and sometimes it is hard for men to understand what exactly rape entails. I can see that some women are strong but not all women can be that strong, just as like not all men can be strong, and their strength manifests in different ways. I can also appreciate the role of the mother more than that of the father, and can sympathize more with a mother than I can with a father. However, my understanding of woman is inevitable, like my understanding of men, lacking. I am similar to both but ultimately am not fully either. In the end, women on a basic level are like men- they want the same things at the end of the day and they have the same needs. Looking at it another way, women and men complement each other by giving what the other lacks. I appreciate what a woman is, and even though they confuse me at times, I know the world is more interesting with women around. I didn’t expect to talk so much about my experiences with women, but I hope that at least it gave you something to think about, as well as more insight into my mind.

My father once told me- “There is no such thing as an ugly woman. All women are beautiful”. Usually me and him don’t see eye to eye.

But I think this time, he may be right.

(Until next time! And Happy [late!] Mother’s Day!!!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

End of School [2010]: A Report on Life, Universe, and Everything in Between

It’s been a while since I’ve been here! Busy, busy. Sorry, loyal fans, but never fear! Cuz I’m back and better than ever. Time for a well-needed update!!!

There are lots of things that I need to talk about, but for now, let’s get in the mood with some story time.

School……..well, college is a hell of an experience, that’s all I can say.

This year has been a hard one on me. I’ve mentioned my troubles in freshman and sophomore year both in real life and on this blog (I think!) so I won’t get into those too much. While freshman year was about discovering myself and my place in society and sophomore year was about solidifying my place and stabilizing myself, junior year was all about reaching new boundaries and doing new things, as well as finally making choices to determine the rest of my life. I’ve met some more friends (mostly all astro ppl, but some non astro as well!), gotten close to some of them, remained shaky with others, tightened previous bonds, and even recently, gotten to know some other friends better. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and trials that happens to everyone, but something that still both mystifies and confuses me.

This year has been a strange one indeed. I want to talk about my decisions. I am at heart an astro kid, but the time had come to make my move for real. Taking so many math, physics and astronomy classes took their toll on me. While the astronomy classes weren’t too bad (with the exception of Astrodynamics, which is probably the hardest class EVER, and the class I dropped this semsester), the math and physics classes were murder. I didn’t worry too much about math, since I finished my strictly math classes last year. But this year the physics classes proved too much for me to handle. My Mechanics 1 class was beast, but not because the work was undoable, mostly because the professor was pretty bad at teaching the material. I bombed and would have to retake it over next year. Then came second semester. Quantum Mechanics is no joke. That is definitely a class you DO NOT want to take if your math background is weak like mine was. The homeworks were such a hassle to get done, and the first test I took emasculated me. Because of Mechanics 1, I was contemplating switching over to theology, which was always a possibility for me, ever since my interest in theology grew by leaps and bounds in HS. However, I had not come to a concrete decision until the beginning of second semester, and by that time it was too late to talk it out with my parents. I told them over the phone, but it wasn’t the same. They really discouraged me, and I felt a bit down for a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I tried to make it work but once the middle of the semester came, I realized that I was way in over my head. I decided to talk to people about it, and I talked to the head of theology, who advised me to at least finish the astronomy degree if possible. One of my astronomy teachers advised me to look into comprehensive science, and once I checked it out, I decided to make my move. With or without approval from my parents, I thought it was finally time to make my own decision, and so I did. Senior yea r is going to be easier as a result, but all that stress for the past 3 years was now gone, and I was happier as a result.

Now onto people. This year, the freshman class was pretty large, 7 people, and there was 3 girls! A new record for our astronomy dept. anyway, I became friends with most of them. One of them rarely hangs out with us though. Out of the 6 that remained, one of the guys dropped, but I still talk to him and we’re pretty chill friends. One of the guys reminds me of me when I was younger, so I understand him well and we’re pretty good friends. The other guy who remained was on a bit of rocky terms with me, but by the end of the year had become a pretty good friend. Now the three girls…….ever since a certain incident my freshman year, I’ve been reluctant to have female friends, mostly due to my inexperience in talking to girls in a sociable manner. Nevertheless, I made friends out of all three, to varying degrees. One of the girls I was pretty close to, but for some reasons have drifted apart, although we remain good friends. One of the other girls is quiet and so I have not interacted with her as much. The last one I got to know especially well over the past couple of days and so I can consider her a very good friend. As for other friends, most of the friends who survived freshman year have gotten closer to me, and the friends that I made last year have also gotten closer. I am glad that I have been able to solidify my friendships

Now for shenanigans. I have had so much fun this past year, due to everyone here. From Halloween parties to Christmas parties to bbq and partying stuff, I have enjoyed people’s company and gotten to know people in different ways, especially at the parties I’ve held in my apartment for the past two weeks. There’s a different way to view people and a different way to express yourself once you’re in a party mood. I’ve gotten especially close to certain of my friends whom I would not have gotten to know better otherwise, and I am glad for that opportunity. I’ve also learned that I don’t really like alcohol. Being 21, I have the privilege to drink , but the more I try, the more I don’t like it. It’s funny. I guess this is just one of those things.

As the year comes to an end, I am surrounded by new adventures and a new mindset. I am returning to school to do some summer astronomy research and finish the remnants of being an astronomer, and hopefully my life can begin as something mine and something chosen. I am looking forward to having lots of fun and making many new memories along the way, and hopefully this will be the best summer yet! I am going to enjoy my time at home improving myself and hanging out with old friends and reminiscing about olden times. Then it will be time to go out and walk toward my future, and I want to thank my family and friends for supporting me. Thanks guys!

Well, that’s just a small recap. Of course, a year of knowledge and change cannot be expressed in one mere blog post, and I probably forgot what I want to write, but at least this is a little tidbit of myself and I hope you enjoyed it! And don’t worry, cuz now I have time to make more so wait for it! And anticipate my next post full of rich, chocolately knowledge!

Bye now, have fun!!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seriously? A Thought on Being Serious

I am a man of many faces. This is pretty redundant, since we all are complex beings. However, I like acting all dramatic, so yea.

Now let’s get serious (see what I did there?). Anyway, I want to share some thoughts about seriousness-ness and how it relates to me.

I am a man of many faces. To the outside world, I can appear happy, sad, cold, excited, strong, cowardly, etc. To my friends, I usually show a different side of me. Like I’ve mentioned before, I show my emotions too much at times, and this can be overbearing for the people around me. I have managed to keep those impulses under control more though, and I’ve learned how to better play the social game. But I digress. I try to act as jovial as I can among my friends. Why? One of the reasons is because I do not want to be overbearing with my emotional problems. I would rather work at them alone until I can reach a satisfactory conclusion, and if my problems involve other people, then I go talk to those people. But my problems should not cause anxiety in my friends. I have learned my lessons from freshman year with what it means to be emoting all the time.

However, there is another reason, perhaps a reflection of my cynical side. I am by nature a serious person, and a very paradoxical one at that. I have grown up alone, mostly because I had no friends until high school. I am used to solitude and if left alone, will retreat to it. However, I do feel a pain of being alone, and all those years of loneliness left me somewhat bitter when it comes to social interactions, as well as a craving of being in that social world. If left on my own, I retreat into my own world, alone, and yet I begin to yearn for social interaction. The only way to fight this is to take the poison slowly; that is, immerse myself in society. Due to my solitude, there are many things about people and interactions that I do not yet know (although I am improving!), so it is sometimes hard to have friends, but all in all, I enjoy being in the light instead of hidden in the dark, so to speak.

Being unable to completely express myself causes some problems, so I am frequently misunderstood in my intentions. I don’t mean to, but what can I do, right? This means that I have to pick my words carefully sometimes to get my point across. But it’s such a big hassle. So I decided that I won’t be serious and not try to convey any deep expression; instead, they will see me as a jolly guy who just likes joking around. The types of jokes I usually make (perverted/dirty jokes and a hint of flamboyant gay) sometimes bother people, but it’s how I adapted to my new social atmosphere, and also due to influence from back home. I try to be as non-serious as I can.

However, this isn’t the main reason why I am not serious. I remember when I was younger, when I used to talk to people, trying to talk to them about my likes. I was very passionate, and still am to some extent, although not as much as when I was younger. I talked plentiful about my love for astronomy, my favorite activities, etc. You know how kids can be. This had the unfortunate side effect of making people think I was annoying. Sure, I probably was, and possibly sounded pompous, what with my mouth running all the time. But it was not done out of any negative feeling, but due to being passionate. Still, this rejection left a deep impression on me, and still continues to this day. That is when I began retreating away from my peers. The same thing happened at home. My cousins would have none of that, and my parents were not interested in my ramblings. I became a lonely, sad, angry, bitter kid. I started developing a sort of superiority complex, since all I did was think, and it led me to think about things that can be considered more important than the latest TV show or song, like contemplation of our existence and our role in it. Still, I tried talking to people, but I soon realized that people do not want to think about those things. It’s not something that can be so casually discussed at dinner or remarked at a party. I became more of an introvert, decided that most people were incapable of discussing these types of things, not realizing what I know now. I considered the masses as mere sheep, unintelligent, and not worth my attention. I would not waste my time, I thought, trying to talk to people if they were inferior to me, so I decided to not talk to them about serious things. Of course, I had a serious exterior, hardened by bitterness, but by high school I decided to loosen up. I remember my peers in 8th grade telling me to loosen up, that I was too uptight. If they can only see me now……. Anyway, I managed to abandon my icy exterior, but my previous experiences have taught me not to talk about what I loved talking about most. Of course, I met a friend in HS, and he is still my best friend. I am grateful that he has been there to withstand my silliness and stupidity and has watched me grow. With him I actually can talk about serious topics, even if for just a bit. But for me, that makes me feel so much better. In college too, I have found people whom I can talk to in a serious fashion. However, it is really impossible for me to talk to my heart’s content about philosophy and theology (people’s passions change, right?) so the only one I can talk to about this is my good cousin, whom I consider like my brother.

I feel that if I don’t act serious, then people will just talk to me like a normal person, and that what I say they can interpret as jokes. Some of them tell me to act more serious, but I say no, because returning to my serious ways is something I would rather avoid. I don’t want to act like I used to back then. I still feel that if people don’t want to take the time to talk to me about something serious, why waste my time? I want my thought to, if not to be completely understood, to at least be heard and given some thought. I may seem as a silly person, and I am, but at heart I am serious, to a fault. I have not been able to balance myself, but for now, I am fine. It’s a struggle that will continue on. Till then, I will wait until I can express my serious side alongside my non-serious side.

To talk about these things….it takes me back a bit. I am glad I can get my views out through this site here, it affords me a freedom that is otherwise not possible as of yet. So now you know just a bit more about me. But I will remain enigmatic, because it’s more fun to know me as a mysterious wise man. So go on, enjoy your life! Why so serious?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bread and Water [A Story About Lent and The Meaning of Sacrifice]

Today I want to talk about something different.

What is the significance of bread and water? It is one of the most basic meals, simply a bread product and a cup of water, an abundant liquid necessary for life. We usually eat many bread products and drink many beverages with varying amounts of water, but in its purest form, bread and water signifies the meal of the common man, or perhaps more of a person who is willing to sacrifice luxury.
This theme of sacrifice runs deep in our world. We value it as a trait of goodness and yet we are wary of committing sacrifice ourselves. After all, it is very hard to sacrifice something, especially if it carries a lot of sentimental value to you. Sacrifice carries a deeper meaning to Christians, where the beliefs rest on a man who died to save humanity from its sins. For Christians, sacrifice embodies the love that Jesus had for us and the willingness He had to lay down His life for us. To be able to sacrifice your own life so that everyone else may live- that is a powerful emotion indeed. This word of sacrifice is spoken plenty of times in Christian life, and especially during Lent (for Catholics), the forty day period in which we commemorate the fast of Jesus in the desert, complete with temptations. Those forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter are meant to remember the meaning of sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus and the sacrifice(s) we must make in order to live up to that standard. During Lent, we reflect on our lives and try to change our ways. It is a time to look back at our sins, to put them behind us and to get ready for the risen Lord. Usually, people give up something, like candy or movie-watching, to show some sort of devotion to change, to experience just a fraction of what Jesus felt during those forty days of isolation and temptation.

For me, sacrifice is a word that almost seems alien. Sure, I’ve had my share of tough times, but compared to many of the world’s citizens, I have lived a privileged life. My parents had sacrificed many things to give me the power to do what I do today. Without that, who knows where I would be, if I managed to live to this stage. I have seen the effects of sacrifice and have thought about it, but I myself have not had to sacrifice much to live. Maybe this is due to my upbringing (as my parents would say, I’ve had it easy) or due to the circumstances around me (not living in bad neighborhoods or around bad people, for instance). I cannot say that the concept of sacrifice is completely foreign to me, and yet it is not something that has defined me as a person. For that, I am both grateful and guilt-ridden. I am glad that I have not had to suffer as much, but at the same time, it makes me feel as though others suffer so that I may not. And why should I live my life untouched by evil while many more suffer? And yet, I can only thank God for sparing me the anguish that others have to go through. But maybe this is not the correct way to think. I cannot say this with complete conviction, but I feel like I am ready to take my share of the suffering, so that others may rest. One day I will be able to do it with certainty.

So what am I doing for Lent? Unfortunately, my Lents have been more or less uneventful. Sure, I’ve reflected on past life choices, but lately I’ve been getting lazy with the whole “give up something” deal. It seems that nothing I can give up can really convey what Lent is about. I can give up video games. I don’t play them much anyway. Give up napping? Ok, I’ll just sleep regular hours then. Some things are too hard to give up. Stop using my computer? What, are you crazy? No more coke? You’ve got to be insane to even suggest that to me! But of course, it does leave me with a tinge of regret, of failing to meet any sort of life-change, just living the same as I always have. What has changed, really? I couldn’t even give something as simple as such-and-such thing to show an earnest change of heart? Weakness. But this year is different. Or maybe not so different, but I am willing to try to change.

I remember freshman year of college, one of my friends decided to go with a bread and water diet for Lent. At first I thought he was crazy, but when I thought about it, it made sense. Lent is all about sacrifice, right? However, I thought it was a bit too extreme, so I decided that I probably would not do it, but thought the idea was good enough that I would keep it in mind for next year. Of course, that year I didn’t give up anything for Lent, so it was pretty much a failure for me in terms of spiritual growth. Then last year, I started to gather up the courage to go about doing this. However, some of my close friends were concerned about the effects this would do to my health. After all, bread and water are not very nutritious on their own. Not to mention that I, an avid lover and consumer of food, would not be able to function at all with only bread and water for nutrient. After all, with my unlimited meal plan, I ate sometimes 5 meals a day. From that to bread and water was too much. I decided to keep their opinion in mind, and so nothing happened that Lent. But I kept the idea in mind and decided to finally try it out the year after that. And so, my junior year in college, I am finally going to enact this plan into action. What is so different? There are several factors. My meal plan is now a 10 meals a week, due to my own choosing (the reasons shall not be disclosed here). I didn’t think I could make it on 10 meals a week, but surprisingly enough, I can. I have also managed to lose weight, although that’s not the reason for the change. I eat a lot less now, so eating only bread and water should not be such a shock to transition into as it would have been last year. I also feel more mentally prepared and emotionally stronger to attempt to go about this. I feel like the time is right and that, while unrealistic for me to go all forty days on only bread and water, I would able to manage at least a week until I would be forced to switch back to regular food (not to mention I don’t want to let the meal plan go to waste).

So why exactly would I try this? Well, I did think it was a cool idea if I tried it, but that isn’t the main reason. After all, there are cooler things that require less of me to accomplish. However, this idea embodies the core principle of Lent. For me, I feel that I need something as outrageous and bold as this to live up to what Lent means. Not for the publicity, of course. I do not want to brag about it; that is not what drives me. But I sincerely feel that a radical approach can at least show me what I should do. Almost like a tough love kind of deal. This would really help me realize just how much I take for granted, and that is a lot. I’ve always known that I am ungrateful at times, but old habits die hard, so hopefully with this I can at least see with better clarity and try to grow and mature as a person. To tell you the truth, I almost didn’t want to do it because I wouldn’t be able to accomplish it, but I feel now that even though I won’t be able to do it, I should at least try. I’ve come to see that even if I try, and fail, something good may yet come of the experience. I pray that God may give me the strength of heart to follow through with what I am about to do. For now, all I can do is entrust my strength in His hands.

That is it for today, and remember, celebrate Lent with sacrifice in mind. Remember that man who gave His life for you and all of us. Remember your own role in salvation as well. Above all, may you love and in turn be loved. See you later!

***It seems that I will have to start my plans a bit later, since my parents came over the weekend and dropped off some food for me. Of course, I do not want the food they gave me to go bad, as it would be a shame to waste it, so I will have to eat it, delaying my plans for a bit. I will still fast all of today, but also birthday celebrations on the weekend will make this goal harder to follow. Nevertheless, pray for me!
L

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day [some thoughts]

What is Valentine’s Day? Some people say it is the day of love, others say it is a good way for chocolate companies and holiday card stores to make money. You can say they’re both right, in a way. However, that isn’t what I’m going to talk about today.

Valentine’s Day is a bit more special to me for several reasons. I was originally supposed to be born on Valentine’s Day but for some reason I was born a few days later. Whenever I remember that V-day is near, I get reminded of the grim reality of growing older and facing my mortality. Of course, I am happy on my birthday, but at the same time I approach it with caution, since I know that with each passing year my life will change, sometimes in a direction that I am not familiar with or that I don’t want to go down on. I’ve also not had many good experiences on V-day, so to speak. In particular, senior year of high school and freshman year of college were not good years for me. Since I’ve never had a girlfriend, whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around I am constantly reminded about how lonely I am, not only in terms of a significant other, but in terms of people in general as well. I can’t say I am not at least a bit jealous of couples, since it seems that at least some of them found suitable people to share dreams, hopes, fear, joys with.

So why even care about today? I’ve heard people say that today is pointless. Well no, of course you love your significant other every day, or you should, at least. However, you can say that today is an “excuse” to do something special, out of the ordinary. That’s the way I see it, at least. Maybe this holiday shouldn’t be such a big deal, but at the very least it can be a unique twist to your life, or possibly a chance to risk finding love. On the flip side, today should not be the only day to “show love” to your loved ones. There are 365 days in a year, and you should love your loved ones on all those days.

As for what I think? I kinda enjoy this holiday. Sometimes I get random chocolates from mass Valentine card giving, so I’m ok with just eating chocolates. If you go out to eat you can have some nice desserts that they make only today. It’s not SO bad being alone on V-day, since if you’re alone every day, you’re used to it, right? And yet at the same time, you can just risk it and finally talk to that girl or guy that you’ve been crushing on for a while, or perhaps just talk to some chicks/dudes and maybe pick one of them up for a night on the town. Who knows? But it is undeniable that there is a certain magic today, even if it is only self-projected, in which love can happen just because. As for me, I think I’ll just spend today alone, get some chocolate, perhaps do work. Can’t forget about going to church today, it’s a Sunday, after all. For now, I’ll enjoy what I can of these lonely days until the right one shows up.

So for all those couples today, I wish you lots of luck and hopefully you can enjoy your day together. For all the single people, I wish you lots of fun and enjoy the time you have to yourselves while you can. I will see you guys on a later date. To leave a good note, I’ll leave my favorite Bible quote here and I hope you can take these words to heart when dealing with love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”


-1 Corinthians 13

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Astrology and Horoscopes

Hey everyone! Today I’m going to talk a bit about something that people (sadly!) get confused about when they talk to me.

Sometimes, you’re just walking around, when all of a sudden an uncle or cousin or even a random stranger asks you, “Do you go to college?” When you answer yes, the obligatory question of what are you studying comes up, at which point I respond with “Astronomy and Astrophysics” (all professional-like). What comes next is what kills me. They ask me, “Oh, is that like astrology?” or “You’re learning how to be like (so-and-so fortuneteller)?” at which point I have to swallow my pride and say that no, astrology and astronomy are not related subjects. The first time this happens, you’re not too bothered by it, since you know, it could just be that they misheard you or they got confused momentarily. But when it’s the 50th time, you know something’s wrong.

Why does this matter? The above paragraph is more or less irrelevant to what I’m going to talk about next, but I thought it served to be a good enough introductory paragraph. Anyway. What made me talk about this? Well, I was originally going to talk about something else, maybe something more serious, but then I thought of my birthday, which is coincidentally this month of February. So I thought, why not? I can have fun talking about Aquarius, right? And it’s semi-related to astronomy so it wouldn’t be such a big tangent for this blog. So yea, I’m an Aquarius. I’ve always liked my astrological sign, although not the constellation as much. I mean, look at it:



It’s not the most pleasant looking thing. It looks like a badly drawn polygon with a line jutting out. I don’t know how those Greeks made these stellar arrangements but I highly disagree with how some of those shapes look like. The drawings of the constellation look pretty good, but then again, it’s not how the actual arrangement of stars looks so you’re going to have to stretch your imagination to get this:



from the first image. I liked my constellation though, mainly because it was a human one, something it shares only with Virgo and Gemini. Plus, he has a big water jug! He must be strong, right? I had always known from an early age that astrology wasn’t really a legitimate of obtaining knowledge, due to me having a strong interest in learning astronomy, but it was always fun to just wish being born under Aquarius to mean something.

I always made fun of my family’s star signs, since Pisces was just a couple of fish, and guess who has control over the water supply? Aries………. I’m not really afraid of rams. Ironically enough, my mother has Sagittarius, which is pretty intimidating, and half-human to boot. Fortunately, she’s a gentle person, unlike her sign. But I very much enjoyed being Aquarius, although I was almost born a Pisces. I stopped caring around middle school though, and it just fell out of mind. However, the stories about the astrological symbols and the myths attached to each sign were interesting. I also had a big interest in mythology back then, so I read up on some of the myths associated with the signs. And come on, how cool are “magical” symbols? Looking rad. But yea, it’s no longer important to me. However, whenever astrology comes up, I proudly say “I am an Aquarius, the Water Bearer. What now?”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Differences in Mentality

Hey! It’s been a while since I’ve put up a blog post.

Today is something special, a small insight into my mind. I’ve been running out of ideas for the blog, hence, the lack of updates, as well as being lazy and/or busy with other things……Anyway, by the end of this blog post, you will at least know a bit about what makes me tick and where I am headed. So hang on for the ride!

As people in real life know all too well, I am a strange person. I can be happy, I can be sad, but most of all I am moody. It is easy for me to change moods and it sometimes is not pleasant. But more than this, I am a person who likes to brood. I like to think, but this thinking leads me to become sort of in a dark, sad mood. So I try to avoid doing this now.

What I wanted to discuss here is how I have noticed my mentality shift from a dark person to a light person. I have had several problems, and each of them would require me (or should I say, I could talk on and on about) to make a blog post for each, so I’ll spare you the details. For now, you can get a semi-short summary. I was (partly still am) a person who was lonely. I had few friends growing up, only having one friend in first grade, and when she moved I did not have another friend till high school. For some reason, my peers did not like me. My family also did not like me much. I did not get along with my younger cousins, and the cousins that were over 25 with families teased me. I felt like I did not fit in anywhere. So I grew up alone, in my own world, always brooding, always festering in anger and sadness. I developed a very uptight persona, and since I excelled at school, I used that as a way to get back at everyone who had hurt me, by saying that I one day would matter in the world, I alone would make a difference while everyone else could only watch as I became something. I grew up a bitter boy, treating my peers like they were lesser than me, which continued the cycle of hatred and exclusion. I had thought that I was better than them as my rationale for being excluded. But deep down, I longed to be part of a community, to be close to someone. Once I graduated from middle school, I decided that I would try to change. I met my first and only best friend and from there, I finally had seen and felt what it meant to have someone to talk to and share yourself with. It was a slow and painful process, but high school proved to be some of the best years of my life. I met lots of people, and I even keep in contact with some now, some whom I can consider friends. I left in a better condition than I did in middle and elementary school, armed with the ability to talk to people and being a more down to earth person. I had left behind my arrogance and begun to be a happier person. I had always wished to be at the center of attention, even though I was shy, so I can show the world that I MATTER. However, I still had thoughts of loneliness. I still felt like I was alone at times, like I was not meant to be with people. Over time, my ideas had shifted from “people are not worthy of me” to “I am not worthy of people”, and it was a strange development, which was partly due to how I viewed humans and humanity in general.

For the longest time, because of my bitterness and anger, I had developed a very pessimistic view of humanity, which involved me taking over the world. It seems silly to me now, because my mentality has changed so radically, but at the time I had little regard to human life. I saw how man treated his fellow man and felt disgusted. “This is what I belong to?” I had wondered. How easy would it be to just kill everyone and stop the problems! But I did not understand what I do now. At the time it seemed easy to just say that I would make these people behave morally or that somehow divine judgment would fall down on everyone. But later on, I had grown to love humanity. I had become closer to God due to my loneliness, because He is the one person who never left my side. Indeed, I had left His side by my misdeeds and yet He continues to help me. So I became closer, and I began to see a glimmer of hope in humans. I began to see the inherent value of life. When this happened, I realized that I no longer could wish death or divine punishment on humans. After all, I was also human. I also would deserve punishment. And I was ready. But at the same time, God gives us every chance to become better, and who am I to go against that? So I began believing that this world is fixable. However, I began feeling like I cannot relate to people anymore, due to being alone and not being able to communicate myself with them. High school went a long way in me developing these skills, but yet I had not completely learned how to talk to people and how to feel close to them. My first year in college was especially rough, since I went from not interacting much with people (only really talking to my one friend) to basically living with a large group of people, and I felt overwhelmed. I learned what having a group of friends means and how to talk to boys and girls, how the intricacies of social standards affected what can and cannot be spoken, what is and is not permissible. Those lessons were learned the hard way. Many days I felt like I could never make lasting friendships. However, I did manage to survive, and with that my first year of college was done. By the end, I was in friendly terms with most of the people in my major. This continued till sophomore year. It was a lot easier than freshman year. During my first year, I tended to be moody and many times tried to avoid everyone when I felt like I was being ignored or otherwise unwanted. This made for some tension, but by sophomore year, those days were few and far in between. They still happened, but I managed to hide those feelings for the most part. I got along with everyone a lot better, which was a big boost to my emotional state.

However, there still remained that darkness, and I sometimes expressed it in writing. I still felt so angry inside, so troubled, so much in pain. There was no one to get rid of it. I could not get rid of it. This was something that God could not get rid of (or rather, something that I needed to deal with on my own). I still fell into that mentality to want to hurt people. Although I had now held strong beliefs about human value and human life, I still sometimes wanted to punish people and be a judge, which I felt guilty for later. I still was alone. Who could help me? Who could free me?

Now is junior year. Maybe it just takes time, or maybe it’s a new evolution in my thought, but it has been different. Recently, I’ve noticed that I no longer feel like I used to, that I can now smile and mean it. When I wish people good day, I do so in a happy manner. I can now express much more happiness and sincerity to my words and I can now open up more to others. Only recently have I noticed that I no longer wish revenge on people from the past, that my ideas of becoming something to show them I matter, no longer matter to me. It’s a weird sensation. With that, I’ve noticed that my interests have also changed. For the longest time, I had been a man of science, because of the rigidity that science demanded. The facts, the logic of it all appealed to me. But around the end of high school, as I became closer to God, I also became more interested in theology. From cold, hard facts to something a bit softer (although not complete subjectivity). I guess this signaled the beginning of a “new life” for me. Once I noticed this, a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know what to think it seemed like I really was a new person, I did not know my past self, and he did not know me. Of course, I still have my dark side, and it may never go away. But for the first time, I felt that it was no longer important. I could finally live my life happily and in the light. It was something that made me feel………exalted. Like, I can do anything.

So there you have it. I hope you found this insight into my mind at least somewhat entertaining. As always, leave your thoughts and comments. Until next time!