Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Cry For You, First Amendment

Sorry about the recent drought, work has been piling up lately. Actually, I ought to be doing calculus or drilling new Japanese vocab right now, but I'm not. Hopefully my stress will drive me to do more crazy shit on weekends, and in turn have more to blog about.

The scene for the latest such scene was this: several college students, some Sox fans, others not, sitting in a dorm room watching the last inning or two of the World Series. It's Sunday night, but after a fairly sedate weekend they are itching for some fun. One of the students is from Paris where, apparently, they have violent riots fairly regularly. He's been showing me videos of these riots all night. I find the whole notion very exciting. As the game winds down and we realize how lame a celebration of a World Series title this will be, someone mentions the nearby University of Massachusetts.

If you're not familiar with the great state of MA, let me tell you that they take their Red Sox very, very seriously. I think it's the most intense American fanship there is. So when the Sox win the Series, things get pretty crazy here, especially at a place with 30,000 college aged kids. Riots were guaranteed and we were in.

As the last pitch was thrown and Fenway celebrated we downed many Bawls* and commenced much yelling. We ran through the dorm waking people up, heckling Yankees' fans, and generally carrying on in a noisy and bawlsed up fashion. At this point in the night, the buses were no longer running, so our little gaggle (six people, including a couple foreigners with no knowledge of baseball) hiked the mile or so to UMass. Along the way (which was longer than it should have been as we got a little lost) we cheered at every pedestrian and car we saw and savored the victory spirit of MA after a Red Sox victory.

Just when things began to look hopeless, we reached the fabled "South West" and came around a corner to see a horde of people (estimated to be around a thousand) cheering and jumping around. Basically it was the promised land.

We waded into the crowd, despite the warnings of our cautious Parisian guide. Just as we neared the center of the crowd, people started bolting. Forgetting how non-hardcore Americans are, I assumed there were tear gas grenades raining down and people being brought down by indiscriminately wielded night sticks. When I regained my senses and turned around for a glimpse I discovered it was actually just four police officers on horses. Disapointing, yes, but they were still in full riot gear and on horseback. Plus, a line of riot cops were walking behind them with body armor, night sticks, and guns. From this point forward I must have used the word "legit" about a thousand times. It was fitting though, given that this was a "legitimate" riot with real riot cops. They would even beat their clubs on their armor as they advanced on you. Talk about ridiculously awesome.

At this point it's probably clear that celebrating the Sox victory was not my primary goal there. It might have been dumb, it might have been irresponsible, but I went to battle with The Man. I think most people have a revolutionary spark in them that's dissatisfied with the government (or any government) and feels the need to fight the power every once in a while. And what side would I rather be with than Red Sox Nation? Not to mention I couldn't ask for a better "Man" to fight than an excessive show of police force?

It was really excessive. The UMass crowd ran off without any kind of fight, which was very disapointing. And the rally was pretty peaceful to begin with. There was really no call to chase us all off. Nor was there any reason to leave officers walking around once everyone had already dispersed threatening to arrest us for just walking around. Goddamned Po-Po been pushing me down...

I have to say that there were two highlights to the night. The first was when my Parisian friend grabbed me by the arm while covering his face and said "run! gas!". There's still contention as to what kind of gas it was (and if there was any, the cops said they didn't fire any munitions, which is a blatant lie), but it doesn't matter. I can still say we got tear gassed without it being an unreasonable exaggeration. In fact, forget this whole paragraph.

I got tear gassed. Fuck yeah.

The other (better) moment occurred as the crowd was being pushed back between some buildings. A line of cops would advance and everyone would fall back (no one had the balls to get closer than 20 yards). Once they'd advanced a little, they'd stop and just stand there being intimidating. Whenever this happened, one of us would start chanting "Let's go Red Sox!", and naturally the whole crowd would join in. Being the passionate fans we are, this amounted to quite a ruckus. Apparently the police thought it was to much of a ruckus, and they'd come after us again whenever we started. Here's how the paper described it (yeah, we made the paper).

"Many who resisted officers reciprocated each push from the police with "Go Red Sox" as if they were engaged in a battle between good and evil. The chant seemingly doubled as a rallying call. Each time the crowd was pushed backwards, students could be heard chanting profanity to officers. However, they were a minority."

The few, the proud...

*Bawls energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine. We use the term "bawlsed up" to describe being this highly caffeinated, and trust me, you get pretty crazy.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Muskrat Love

Check this out, it basically made my life this weekend (other than the ALCS and winning the homecoming football game):

Ok, so it's another joke that you only find funny if you've played DnD, but basically John Kovalic owns my life. Oh, and I love Dungeons and Dragons. I was going to spend my Saturday night working on my new campaign ("The Great Desert"...just working title, I'll come up with something more epic soon), but I got sidetracked by super-intense pool battles and performing ninja surgery until 3am.

I don't think I can make you, even those of you who've played DnD, understand the sublime, child-like excitement that comes from having a new campaign to work on. I'm absolutely giddy. Unfortunately, I'm also very busy with school, soccer, work, and everything else I do in my free time (this, a Star Trek RPG, and, of course, ninja surgery).

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's Like His Poetry Was Inside My Head, Eating My Brains

For all of you who feel like not taking a math course has left a void in your life, or, like me, stayed up until 4am watching youtube videos and then couldn't understand anything in math class, here's a little something for you.

Let "japanese quiz" equal really hard because I'm bad at learning languages and the Japanese are beasts at everything, especially speaking a language that's hard to learn.
Let "my focus" equal "an issue" because I stayed up until 4am.
Let my caffeine tolerance equal "low", because I've hardly had any since getting here.
Now, let equal "cherry bawls", the integral of which is tons of caffeine.

I owe the and the timing of this to Mike-sensei, master of bawls who told me I'd get the best focus-enhancing effect if I drunk the right before my quiz. So here's the scenario: I've just sat down with my quiz. Next to me is a can, 1/4 full at this point. Coursing through my veins are large quantities of various stimulants. Fast forward to ten minutes later. I'm twitching in like five different ways and trying to write at a rate of about 6 and a half characters per second while my brain moves at about one 9th of a character per second. It's very frantic. Fast forward another 20 minutes: I'm flipping out. But at least I'm awake...very awake. Another 20 minutes later, I'm done with the quiz (and the ), and I'm walking to my comp sci lab. Someone yells behind me and it echoes weirdly. To me, in my bawlsed out state of mind, this is really trippy. I turn my head to see who yelled and make eye contact with a giant statue of Robert Frost. Fucking scary. This is how I felt. That was the worst of it, though the first bit of computer science featured me burning through a ton of twitchy energy through moving my rolly chair around while trying to write code until I finally came off the high. My classmates probably now think I'm either insane or irrationaly ADD.

So here's the equation you can take from all this; tired me + japanese quiz + right before that quiz + nightmarish statue of Robert Frost = AHHHHHH!!!!

I am never doing drugs.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Always Something New To Drool Over

Enough said...almost. I just came upon another tidbit of news about Star Trek XI today. Now, I will get excited about any news, even the tiniest piece, about the new movie, but that's only because I, as a trekkie, am required to. And yes, I will go to the first showing, in uniform, but I still think J.J. Abrams will ruin Star Trek. What a wanker.

Anyways, this is old news to the rest of the world (well...), but in July Abrams announced who would be playing Spock: some "Zachary Quinto" character. I'm not sure if I trust the guy, especially with being Spock, but Nimoy himself was there to give his blessing, so I'll let him go for now...

Zachry Quinto looking less than Vulcan

Leornard Nimoy excercising his right to abuse the "Live Long And Prosper" thing


I probably Should've Done This On Post 14.2857

Well its finally happened, post number 100. The big one-oh...oh. To celebrate, I'm going to look back on the history of this little blog...

In The Beginning: In the beginning there was the word, and the word was "Sammy".

The Pre-Historic: The ultimate origin of the 7th Notion can probably be traced back to the "Thought Of The Day", which I imagine only Dr. Koopon remembers. TOTD dates back to five or six years ago when I was in middle school. The name says it all, TOTD was a daily (well, allegedly) e-mail to a few people that contained some random thought, usually a joke (and not necessarily a good one). It went through a few stretches of fairly regular production, separated by long droughts (remind you of anything?).

The Mezo-Pre-Historic: My first actual contact with the blogging world came (and this is no surprise) about a year and a half ago. Everything relevant to my life always happened a year and a half ago. It's spooky. Anyways, this first tentative step came in the form of me being bored over summer vacation. Compelled by my hidden desire to blog, I would 'trol the internet for blogs that I liked. Blogger was kind enough to provide me a "random blog" button that led me through a never ending maze of blogs. I could only understand about half of them (there's apparently a lot of spanish and chinese speaking blogger), and only stop to read maybe 1 of 10. It was diverting, but bore no fruit (i.e. blogs I ever returned to) until, one fateful day, I stumbled upon Revenge of the Nerddd. Despite the pink background and Yankees allegiance, I was captivated. It's funny to think that half of the blogs I read today resulted in this totally random result.

The (actual) Beginning: Shortly afterwards, the 7th Notion was born on June 5th, 2006. The first month or two were less than pretty. The content was uninteresting, badly written, and often angsty. Spelling and grammatical errors abounded, and capital letters were few and far between. You'd be hard pressed to find writing that I am ore ashamed of. But, like the first two seasons of TNG*, it had to start somewhere.

The Spawn: My entry into the blogosphere inspired a few of my friends to start blogs of their own (it's true, I'm a trend setter). There were four at the beginning, and they met with varying degrees of success (and quality). Dr. Koopon's won't even get hyperlinked. I think he posted like four times before giving up. Stick to live journal kid. OSK made one that limped along for a few months before slipping into the coma we see it in now. It's still on my sidebar because I still check it, partly because I love his prose, but mostly because I love the name Breakfast With Friends. The blog's actual name is "Peace, Love, and Star Trek", but I like the other one way better so I keep using it. You're probably more familiar with Mango Flavored Addiction because its author is a writer at heart and she posts (fairly) regularly. She also like putting really unrelated things in my comments like travel plans we're making. Grr. The final spawn, Gavrich's Tim's Varied Musings can't be found to your right because it fails the awesome title test. Also, I disagree with virtually everything he believes in, often vehemently, and with out his personal charm to make it more palatable, his writing makes me nauseous. I might also be a little bitter about how much crap he gives me about spelling.

The Dark Ages: After its humble (aka crappy) beginning, the 7th Notion improved steadily over time but fell on hard times when I went back to school. Posts grew more and more sporadic, shifting between terrible droughts and spurts of activity. If you dig through the archives you'd be a loser. Also, you'd find stretches of posts that all begin with an apology about not posting recently. When this past summer rolled around and I had free time again, things still didn't turn up. In fact, they got worse. To be honest, I'm surprised any of you still read this after so many months of no activity.

The Present: That brings us to now, the present. Obviously (I hope), the quality of writing here has improved. It gets spell checked now, and even edited sometimes. I use apostrophes in conjunction, but not exclamation points. I refuse to ever use exclamation points outside of interjections. No sentence (not in caps) is that exciting. Stephen Hawking, if you read this, I loose respect for you every time you put one in A Brief History Of Time. Grr. Also obvious is that I most more now. For some reason, getting to college has compelled me to post a lot, who knew.

Well, that's it...the 100th post. I feel like I should leave you with something very 7th Notion...y, but even after 100 posts I don't even know what that would be. So, uh, elen sila lumenn omentielvo.

*Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you didn't know that, you might want to leave.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Joining The Ass Parade

That's not what it sounds like. Actually, "parade" is referring to another kind entirely (a band wagon, to be precise), but the word "parade" made me think "ha, remember the ass parade?", which I did, and here we are. But speaking of ass parades, I was sexiled (being evicted from one's dorm room so one's roommate can have a 'friend' over) again last weekend and ended up in the dorm I often do when sexiled. Ok, by often I mean twice, but both times I've been there to sleep on someone's floor, loads of people from that very same floor are in the same predicament as me (luckily, we haven't been forced to fight over floor space yet). I'm convinced that this dorm has an eery ability to get ass, and therefore has a very respectable refugee per capita rate. I wouldn't be surprised to see tents thrown up in their common room or choppers dropping off water and pillows for the sexiled natives.

The parade I meant to talk about is the 'I'm in college and therefore are going to be constantly excited about the next awesome concert' parade. Everyone does it because everyone seems to have an uncanny read of the indie music scene. Everyone here knows about loads of obscure bands I've never heard of, and I feel very left out. But now it's time to strike back! If fate smiles on me, I'll be heading to two Dispatch remnants, State Radio and Braddigan to kick off my Thanksgiving break. Plans to do this just came to my attention tonight, and six tracks into Year Of The Crow, I'm already giddy with excitement.

Good thing that ass thing came up, otherwise this would've been a pretty lame post.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tryptophan High And Karmic Frosting

I think I was abducted by aliens in my sleep last night, it's the only way to explain why I was so tired this morning. Don't look at me like that, I've seen that episode of Star Trek where the crew is being dragged into sub-space while they sleep so weird aliens can run experiments on them. More to point, I took an innocent late morning nap (it was really more of a mid-morning wake up to do my homework anti-nap) during math today. When I woke up I didn't have enough time or appetite to go to lunch, no big deal. As it turns out, today was 'decorate your own cookie bar' day. WTF?! First of all, how out of character is it to have a cookie decorating bar, and second, WHY ON THE ONE DAY I SLEEP THROUGH LUNCH?!

Yeah...rub it in.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Multiples Of Twelve

One of my dreams has come true. It was a dream largely inspired by this, but I have spent most of my life looking forward to it. What is this dream? To play Dungeons and Dragons with a legitimate group.

It's no surprise that any college would have such a group, and last Friday* I was lucky enough to find them. Disclaimer: despite the criticism that's about to follow, I still think I'm lucky to be in this group, think they're awesome, and am really looking forward to our next session.

Before we'd rolled a single die, I started to get the feeling this wasn't going to be the utopia I'd been imagining. The first hang-up was that our DM ("dungeon master" for you noobs, the most important person at any playing session) didn't go to our college. Apparently the guy organizing things here knew him from home, and figured it would be easier to play with an absent DM than find a new one? Um...okay. The next oddity to arise was that no one seemed to know anything about computers. What the hell kind of nerds was I playing with? (Also, how did they expect to pull off this absentee DM thing without any modern telecommunication expertise?). The problem was solved by yours truly who had to walk them through getting Skype accounts so we could talk to our DM through a better system than the speakerphone mode on cell phones.

Another disclaimer: if you don't know anything about D&D, much of the rest of this won't make any sense. Hopefully my righteous rage and geekiness will be funny anyways.

One of the very first steps in creating a character to play is getting their "ability scores" (these include strength, dexterity, intelligence, etc). There are six in all, each requiring a number between 3 and 18, which is gotten from rolling dice (specifically, rolling a typical six-sided die three times, or 3D6 as we say in the biz). The method I usually use involves rolling four dice and discarding the lowest to ensure that my character isn't totally impaired. The people I was playing with would roll the typical 3D6 six times, then discarded the lowest five. For each score. The result was awesome ability scores and, in turn, tons of bonuses for pretty much everything.

The kicker came at the end of our session, when our DM awarded us all a level up (for one, that's way too fast, plus he obviously didn't judge the quality of our play separately). On top of that, he doled out random magical weapons as rewards. I hate that. Enchanted weapons are not for new characters, nor should they be treated as trinkets without cool backstories. These silly, generic +1 weapons are just there to make characters a little better but not more interesting. Grr.

This approach is something typical of what we call a "munchkin". Munchkins are people who want to have extremely powerful characters 1) without having 'earned' it, and 2) at the expense of good role playing. Both of these things are anathema to me ("anathema" is my word of the month so I've been dying to use it, I'm not sure if this is right though...). I have a massive pet peeve about getting things you don't deserve (in life in general), and have an even massiver (yeah, I said it) peeve about D&D characters doing it. Having a weak character sucks, but you should have to go through it to help build their character and learn to appreciate power when you get it. That's my take anyways.

When I first started playing D&D, I was very young. My immaturity led to "slasher" campaigns that had nothing but fighting. As I grew out of that and towards the role-playing side of the spectrum, I developed a disdain for anyone who played slasher style games. Hence more munchkin hating. I don't hold all this against most of the people there because they're new and don't know better, but the other two I have a bit of a problem with. Knowing me, this is going to result in my chafing against all munchkiny things, so my character will suck in comparison.

*I know today is Friday, but I started writing this post on Tuesday or some such

Monday, October 08, 2007

With My Head Under Water

I blame my recent hiccup in post frequency on my being home too much lately, which is my fault, so ultimately that's not an excuse. Whatever. The point is, I have spent the last two weekends back here instead of at college. The reason for this is a combination of bad timing and bad planning (respectively), and so far I lack any good stories regarding being back. Hence the lack of posts. Mostly my time has been taken up with dealing with specters from the past and this new spin on the concept of "moving on". Wouldn't we all love to believe that the moment we left something, a place, a person, anything that was an important part of our lives, that it would all fall apart in our absence. Not out of malice, but we want to feel as if we were vital, and that people would really miss us. Evidently, this is not the case. Life marches on with a disturbing lack of grief and it takes old teachers a minute to realize you even left. Old friends make new friends who seem to replace you, maybe only because you're all too scared to admit you miss each other. Nostalgia becomes a sign of weakness because no one wants to be the one who hasn't moved on.

About a month ago, a friend of a couple of my classmates killed himself. I never met him, never even herd of him before, but I've thought about him a lot lately. It was totally unexpected; he was well liked by everyone, perfectly happy. Then he went off to a very respectable college, fell into deep depression, and was found dead in his family's vacation home. Now, if you look through the facebook profiles of his friends, he's in virtually every one. The whole town has a backdrop of sadness. It's a familiar feeling; it comes up every time local high schoolers die, but never like this.

No one knows why he did it. No one was there. I can't imagine any of the friends he made in his brief time in college knew him well enough to see what was wrong, and of course everyone from back home had been scattered across the country. Now they're all left to wonder and try to find some solace in their shared, if distantly, grief.

Life marches on. That must be what they hope for each of their old friends now. 'Who cares if they forgot me, as long as they're doing alright'. Maybe dying is the best way to get remembered; it's hard for their lives to march on when you just took your own?

Suicide is a waste of opportunities to live. Wasting opportunities is like suicide. Carpe diem.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

LaserJet Blues

Security is important, but at some point it becomes too much. When I sat down at this computer (which is in the IT center), I had to enter my username and password to use it. Fair enough. To access my school e-mail, I entered the same username and password. To get into my Japanese class' site, I had to enter it again. Yeah, again. Then I had to print some writing paper, and we get charged for printing stuff so guess what: username and password again. It's not even different accounts, it's all my school account. Why can't I just be logged into everything (maybe not e-mail, that I can accept redundancy on) when I access the computer itself? And guess what? I also had to print a paper, which required that username and password four more times.

Why four? Well, the first time I printed it, I only got the first three pages. Hm. I tried printing the last seven (don't be impressed, most of it is data tables) and it didn't print anything, just the coversheet telling me I'd been charged 35 cents for the seven pages I didn't get. Fuck. So I tried again, and got the last four pages. The last four?! What the fuck? How does that happen, after I got the first three before? AHHRG. The fourth try, thankfully, was successful, and now I have my paper, after entering that stupid password eight times. Sigh...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Staphylococcus On Rye

Today is a French day, or at least a little bit of a French day. I don't know why they happen, but ever since I stopped taking French classes, I occasionally have days when a fair amount of my thoughts end up being expressed in French. I was thinking "je suis tres malade" on my way to Japanese class this morning (my disease has shifted from impairing my voice back to making me cough up a lung).

On a totally unrelated note, I was thinking about movies that suck today and happened upon this thought: everyone always says we need more than one word for "love" in order to distinguish between filial love, romantic love, friendship, etc. I disagree. While I admit to all those being very different, I don't think they should be distinguished between any more. My theory is that a person only has so much deep emotional commitment that they are able to give at any one time. For example, if a girl is really tight with her parents, then she won't be as committed to her boyfriend because it might take away from her relationship with her parents. Or if someone has a really crazy close friendship, and one of them starts dating, that friendship is going to suffer because all of a sudden emotional commitment is going elsewhere.

Think abut the Oedipus complex. Aren't we all supposed to be competing with our fathers for the affection of our mothers, even though the nature of our relationship with her if different than our father's?

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's Funny Until Someone Gets A Hole In Their Throat

A combination of sickness and yelling rendered me almost totally speechless over the weekend (I can talk now, it just sounds funny). After cheering as best I could through two races on Saturday, my ability to speak just vanished to the point that I would start statements in an ugly, raspy whisper that would trail to "fuck" as I couldn't finish a single sentence. Until this morning, I've been communicating in a whisper interrupted by smoker-like coughing fits. Two people have been very sympathetic. Everyone else has laughed at me mercilessly.

I came across a breakthrough yesterday when I found that, if I pressed me hand against my throat in a certain way, I could talk louder. The practice was short lived because I was afraid I was damaging my trachea in some way, but while it lasted I looked like one of those post-op smokers who has to hold something to their throat in order to talk. I was amused. Actually, I found the whole thing amusing for the first couple hours. At this point I'm, sick of it. Thankfully, I'm bouncing back well and hopefully should be close to normal by tomorrow's IM soccer game, during which I may well lose my voice again.

Speaking of soccer, I had another (nearly) two hours of practice today, probably giving me the title for most practice by any IM soccer player. I think I take silly little things, like IM soccer, more seriously than (allegedly) important things, like classes. Oh well, I figure there's people counting on me to give them a fighting chance in our games, so I better not disappoint. Plus, soccer (even getting my ass kicked in goal) is fun, and I've heard that's a good thing. First game is tomorrow, time to get PUMPED.