Apr 30, 2005

Home stretch.

This will be the last assignment progress log I post in here for this semester, as I am sure it doesn't make for interesting or useful reading for anyone besides myself (assuming this journal has any readers left).

World economics:

Field research project on location of an urban service--written report poster and group presentation. Due May 10. We got an extension on this assignment, and will be presented on the last day in place of a final exam. I don't mind that too much. We haven't done anything about it, and it's been the least of my worries. I can see us all scrambling to finish it all within the last two days. So be it.

Interpretation of Geographic Data:

Final research paper on methodology in hydrology (10 sources, 10 pages), with 5-minute Powerpoint presentation. Due May 5. I have 9 of the 10 pages done... and it doesn't even have to be exactly 10 pages. I imagine I can come up with a well-rounded conclusion that will fill the 10th page, though. It's finished, with a typed bibliography and all, save for an hour or so of tweaking. She canceled the presentations, too.

Natural Hazards and Disasters

10-page research paper on access conditions and differential vulnerability relating to Hurricane Andrew, with 5-minute Powerpoint presentation. Due May 7. I have 8 out of 10 pages done on this one, and I will probably fill most of the rest with charts. And formulate another thorough conclusion. I don't see much point in bothering with the presentation, either.

Cultural Geography

Research poster with presentation. Completed. This was an interesting project, if only because it demanded a fair amount of artistic creativity. I produced a decent poster, though, and I am quite glad it's over with.

Writing for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Essay 3 (includes panel presentation). Due May 11th. Yet another research-intensive essay, 10-15 pages. 6-8 pages. Mercifully, she changed the required length of this essay given the amount of time we had left when she assigned it and the university's policy. Though, honestly, I don't know how I am going to be so concise when formulating and defending my argument about global warming being an anthropogenically-propelled real and severe threat while relating it to the concept of shifting paradigms. It is my very last essay of the semester, though, so I view it as the icing on the cake. Interestingly, I am actually looking forward to working on it. ...Not just getting it done, but actually working on it. I am going to be quite the perfectionist when it comes to this paper, and would like to draw from only the finest peer-reviewed academic sources and compose a stellar essay that is worthy of framing on the familiar walls of the hallways in the environmental sciences department. And hey, it's worth 30% of our total grade.

I have this semester whipped, for the most part, with a few relatively minor things left to take care of. My primary worries were centered around letting myself procrastinate too much and having to deal with too many assignments at one time, all with imminent due dates. I am quite proud of myself for not allowing that to happen. One of the principal challenges of being a university student is learning how to manage one's time effectively. The work load requires me to go against my instinct and plan things out rather meticulously, and operate on a very rigid schedule. Does it ever pay off in the end, though. I am thrilled that only three days of regular classes are left, giving way to a nice four day weekend. My goal is to completely finish all my projects (save for the economics group project, probably: I consider it one of those last minute rush job-type projects) by the end of next week; the week before finals. I have only two traditional in-class finals, as well. The paradigm paper is my final for English, the group project my final for economics, and my cultural geography final is a take-home and I'll have a week to complete it. Splendid. This is the home stretch, and that alone is enough to motivate me to get everything done. I am looking quite forward to enrolling in a fresh set of classes that begin later in the day, and starting anew in a couple subjects I am more interested in.

I did enroll in another class for summer, as well: Composing Music on the PC. It's three credits, and I saw no harm in adding music to the wide range of liberal arts subjects I have taken. That means I am taking 9 credit hours in a period of less than a month, which is ludicrous. There will be five hours of class a day, five days a week, big exams every week, and a heavy amount of reading and written assignments each evening. Essentially, it's cramming all the content of a course that would originally be conducted in a regular four month semester into a four week semester. I can always drop a class, though, and am expecting to do so, unless I decide I am able to and want to keep up with such a demanding pace. Maybe I can, though... it's not as if I have a social life to worry about, and taking one more course in the summer means I can take one less in the fall. A benefit here is that I can choose to drop my least favourite of them all.

With my seemingly incessant chattering about school, it may be hard to believe I didn't touch any schoolwork on Saturday. It was, in fact, my official designated day off, and Sunday may also serve as another day of rest. I have adapted to a comfortable routine of riding my bike around town each afternoon. The mornings have been very bright, warm, sunny and unpleasant lately, but the afternoons have been just the opposite: overcast, cool, comfortable, and inviting. Twilight has been simply spectacular. The air is always a perfect cool temperature, heavily saturated with ocean moisture and sea salt, so much so I can almost taste and smell it. It's very unlike any air I breathed in on the mainland. Late Friday afternoon, I decided to play the album, There is Nothing Left to Lose by the Foo Fighters on my iPod. I was reminded of just how fond of the Foo Fighters I had been, and what a stellar piece of work this album was. I found all the songs to be either good or excellent, and most of them made me very nostalgic, notably "Breakout," "Learning to Fly," "Gimme Stitches," "Generator," "Aurora," and "Next Year." Listening to this music and exploring unfamiliar neighbourhoods on my bike in the drizzling rain as darkness descended upon me was a very enlightening experience; something I needed.

It may be time for bed, but first, "Emerald" by Scott Bond vs. Solar Stone is an amazing song... and it's only eleven minutes thirty-two seconds long!


Apr 29, 2005

Shut up.

Shut up.

Shut up.

...shut up.

Apr 28, 2005

A shot of introspection to the head.

Being a lone wolf has its merits. Usually, the only individual I have to satisfy is myself. I never feel obligated to go places to consort with certain people, or do them favours. Having no local friends means I really need not worry about anyone in my immediate surrounding area. I have plenty of free time to myself to do as I please, and I only need to worry about pleasing myself.

Unfortunately, I have come to realise that most of those "merits" have certain downsides. Since I am seemingly always alone, I am my own best friend, and as a result of that I often have heated conflicts with myself, as if "my best friend" was another person. Sometimes, I become quite weary of my own friendship, particularly when I am lacking in confidence or a general perception of self-worth. It is during such times that I most desire to escape from myself. Perhaps that's one of the predominant reasons many people keep friends- to distract them from themselves. If I did not love myself and enjoy my own company most of the time, I might be much more desperate for friends to help me feel better about myself; if only by distraction. It figures all of my friends would be at least one ocean away, and I would be stranded way out here in the middle of the Pacific. It's a perfect metaphor for the situation of social relations I have experienced all my life. I have always been an island. I have survived and could survive with no friends whatsoever, but with no one to care about and take care of, and no one to care about and take care of me, life would most likely be quite miserable and difficult.

Then again, I do all sorts of bizarre things like loiter in cemeteries regardless of night or day, romp up river beds, climb mountains for the challenge of it, have out-of-body experiences, silently watch the stars for hours, and make imaginary highways out of sand dunes. Who would want to hang out with me?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!

I have never tried to make a friend at school. A part of me is telling me that I can't, and another part of me is telling me that I just don't want to. I am not certain which side is telling the truth, because, as I stated, I have never tried. I have never met anyone at school that is anything like me, as far as I could tell. I am sure there are such individuals, though, but I will never meet them because I think words are cheap and hence barely ever say anything. I listen and I observe exclusively, and that has gained me loner status. I'm sure my unapproachable aura has plenty to do with it as well. My typical expression probably makes me appear rather glum, though I rarely think about what my appearance projects. I make myself blend in like I truly have something to hide-- and I do. There's plenty about me I don't wish to reveal to those I do not completely trust.

Most people seem not to notice me at all. When I was viewing the lava at the volcano last weekend, I was surrounded by humans, and not one of them ever so much as acknowledged my presence. One even bumped into me and didn't even seem to notice. I could have been a ghost. I would not be terribly surprised if I actually did exist in a different dimension than most other people. It would, in fact, make me feel better to know. I'm quite comfortable with adjusting my appearance and behaviour so that I do not stand out. I do not want people's attention, save for that of my family and friends. It is simply not important to me. I'm content with expressing my true self online and being an impenetrable mystery to everyone who knows me "in real life."

I had a discussion today with my English teacher about my final research paper (yes, my very last paper of the semester) on shifting paradigms in the global warming debate. She actually took five minutes out of her time to praise me on being a stand-out student who does graduate-level work. She even urged me to go to graduate school once I finished university, and said she knows that I'll go far in life. I appreciated such comments, certainly, and it is always nice to receive a reminder that all this work I do is appreciated by someone. As for graduate school, I will most certainly be putting that off for awhile, as I need to start generating some income sooner than later, and I am quite sick of school, as much as I intentionally tried to prolong it for as long as possible.

I am starting to slip in and out of consciousness, so it is evident that I need my sleep. But first, I visited a very aesthetically pleasing cemetery for the first time in the late Tuesday afternoon. The weather was simply perfect for the experience, as one may gather in the pictures.

Apr 26, 2005

Apr 25, 2005

My love's on fire.

Living less than thirty miles away from an active shield volcano has its advantages. The thousands of metric tons of sulfur dioxide it belches into the atmosphere everyday does not happen to be one of them, but the aesthetic splendor it provides is certainly a perk. Vast calderas, craters within calderas, lava tubes, and otherworldly landscapes demand amazement on behalf of the observer, as well as a deep-embedded urge to explore. In such a realm, one can observe from just a few meters away new land being formed; the ocean and older rock actively being built upon by the unstoppable force of nature itself. Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of the volcano, performs her craft slowly but relentlessly, sparing little in her path as she inundates the landscape with her fiery wrath en route to the sea. There is no telling exactly which path she might choose, but she is guaranteed to confidently obliterate every standing or sitting obstacle impeding her progress to the final destination.

This past Saturday evening, illuminated by a silvery sphere beaming in all her glory, found me coming face to torrid face with Pele. As I drove down Chain of Craters Road in Volcanoes National Park at twilight, I witnessed from a high cliff the moon rising above the sea. I wanted to set out an epic adventure and shed my human disguise as quickly as I could. I followed the road down to sea level and parked just before the small shelter where the rest of the highway was blocked off. Several humanae were crowded about the pavilions assembled on the old road, and I simply took off past them, carrying my gear upon my back. The highway had been converted into a foot path, as half a mile farther, it abruptly ended where an old lava flow completely blanketed it. I remember visiting the exact spot back in 1992, when I was a silly little 10 year-old who could not help but inquire, "how did they get the road under all that lava?"

The end of the road necessitated rambling over a vast, uneven field of lava rock. The "trail" consisted of a series of yellow reflectors set into the ground, and those only went as far as 1/3 of a mile to the "viewpoint." This was considered the end of the 'intermediate' section of the trail, where the difficult part for the hearty few was only just beginning. Even from this point, the view of the vibrant red-orange lava activity on the steep rift zone was impressive, but I desired to witness much more than that. It would be three miles farther to actually get close enough to the active lava to actually touch it (owwie), and I knew three miles over hard, jagged, uneven mounds of lava rock in the dark would seem much longer than three miles. I was easily accepting of the challenge, though, and preferred it to simply being able to drive all the way out there and sitting with a bunch of grannies who could get a good show from behind the windshields. Not my style.

The general route to the active lava flow was marked by six yellow flashing light bubbles, each spaced about half a mile apart. Such devices weren't essential for locating the flow, since one could easily see the orange patches through the dark void from several miles away, and all one had to do is maintain a consistent parallel course with the ocean. They were still useful for marking the optimal walking areas, though. On my way out there, I passed by a slew of humans heading back, all in groups of course, and most of them armed with their silly flashlights. The brilliant moonlight shimmering against the shiny black rocky surface provided more than enough light to guide my way, and I found such artificial light beams swinging around to be a nuisance at best. Even so, I managed to effectively ignore everyone as I trudged on, lost in my own little world as I felt the cool, strong ocean breeze caressing my face and my body. Unsurprisingly, Total Euphoria was playing on my iPod as I continued this amazing journey, ever choosing my path over the ground cover completely devoid of life, surrealistically sprawling for miles in every direction but that of the sea, which pounded against the young shoreline relentlessly. As usual, the moon was bringing something out in me, but it would not hurt me this time.

After awhile, I suddenly felt the wind become noticeably warmer. I knew I was getting close, then. Lo and behold, as soon as I reached the top of a ridge I could see that fresh, oozing lava was only a few dozen metres away. I pressed forward, feeling ever warmer, and stepped right up to the hot stuff. A few groups of people were out there carrying on about how 'incredible' it was, but I was too transfixed to pay them any attention. Something about a vast field consisting of patches of brilliant orange liquid fire beneath a royal blue moonlight Hawaiian sky is ... spellbinding. It was so entrancing indeed that I myself felt like a tourist in an alternate world full of unprecedented beauty. To stand but a few centimetres away from oozing molten lava, and watch it slowly progress down a slope like some unearthly substance that has a life of its own, is truly sensational. Of course, facing it from even a couple metres away produces a sensation comparable to sticking one's face into an oven pre-heated at 350 degrees. I could only get so close to it without feeling extremely uncomfortable. Even so, I managed to produce a few worthwhile photographs of some of the scenes. Even though they hardly do the experience justice, they do provide a glimpse as to what magnificence there was to be seen:


I cursed myself for not thinking to bring a stick to poke at the lava with, but others out there had. In fact, I did get a couple pictures of someone jabbing at it. It actually set the stick on fire and released a jet of flames out the other side of the molten lava mass. Ah, to manipulate nature in such ways... to think playing with lava is in many ways even more dangerous than playing with fire.

I mingled out there for hours, just wandering about the flow, avoiding any journeys on the freshly solidified, excessively fragile lava. After awhile, seemingly out of nowhere a great black cloud materialised and it passed over, dumping heavy rain on us few remaining souls and the lava. And oh, how the lava sizzled and steamed in response to the rain. It sounded quite eerie, in fact, and looked phantasmagoric. I watched the few remaining humans out there with me shuffle away behind a rock for shelter as I spread my arms and invited the warm rain and hot steam all over my body. That was, perhaps, the orgasmic climax of the evening. Though the rain stopped as quickly as it had started, I felt thoroughly refreshed, and quite soaked. After midnight, everyone had gone, but I stayed out for at least another hour, having it all to myself. I was fortunate enough to witness a portion of rock breaking open only a short distance away, a steady stream of white hot molten lava spewing out rapidly. It significantly brightened up the entire area.

And while all this way happening, I had a certain song on repeat... a song that repeated the chorus, "My love's on fire..."

Increasing tiredness was my sole motivator for heading back. I could have stayed out there until dawn had I perhaps a tree to rest under, but I also did not wish to be exposed by the morning sun. My return journey went quite smoothly, until the last eighth of a mile. Somehow, I experienced a lapse of sure-footedness, and my right leg and right arm came crashing down on the lava, resulting in some nasty cuts and scrapes. In fact, both my arm and leg were dripping blood. There was nothing I could practically do about it until I got home. Yes, the stinging sensation was quite intense by the time I got back on the road. A shower at 5 in the morning never felt so apropos.

Apr 24, 2005

Apr 23, 2005

I am extremely pleased with my fall class schedule. This is the current line-up:

BIOL 380 Biostatistics - 12:00-12:50 pm MWF (3)
PSY 394A Psychology of Religion - 1:00 - 1:50 pm MWF (3)
ENG 485 Writing for the World Wide Web - 2:00 - 2:50 pm MWF (3)
PSY 432 Psychology of Motivation - 12:30 - 1:45 pm TR (3)
GEOG 326 Natural Resources - 2:00 - 3:15 pm TR (3)
GEOG 470 Remote Sensing/Air Photo - 3:30 - 4:45 pm TR (3)
Total credit hours: 18

It is quite a load, yes, but I need every last course, and if all goes according to plan (and one can never be too complacent in thinking that it will), it will also be my final semester. The fact that I have no morning classes makes a significant difference as well. I also have my summer schedule ready:

May 16 - June 9, 2005
HPE 494 Science of Diet & Weight Control - 1:00-3:15 pm MTWRF (3)
PSY 323 Community Psychology - Online (3)

I scored by getting an online course. It's something I would like to try. I doubt I could handle more than two courses during the summer, since they are courses that are ordinarily several months long compressed into less than a month. Lots of homework everyday, undoubtedly. It still beats going to school for an extra regular semester just to fulfill six measly credit hours.

As for this semester, I am doing fine. I have been less stressed over it than usual, though it could just be the eye of the storm for all I know. I can be quite certain that since the full moon is coming out, this evening is going to be the inevitable crack down. I am leaving, now.

Apr 22, 2005

Remember, it's Earth's Day, everyday.

So, today is fifteen minutes into Earth Day; a holiday I actually find myself enthused by. It celebrates a practical cause I strongly support, unlike... well, just about every other holiday America recognises. I am looking forward to the festivities tomorrow. I plan on attending the campus fair for at least an hour or so, and will have to take some notes as well, since I am doing an extra credit summary & critique assignment on the many exhibitions there. I would like to see if I can't get involved with any conversation organisations while I am at it. I do also plan on participating in at least one beach clean-up; preferably more. I'll also be armed with a trusty pen with which to sign numerous petitions floating around protesting Republican efforts to kill wildlife and destroy the environment. I look forward to this.

I have finally developed a very clear idea of what I may want to do for a career, as well. I find remote sensing and geographic information systems very fun to work with. Representing information through the assemblage of numerous cartographic layers is not only entertaining for me, but a skill of increasing importance. The skill of representing data in a spatial and temporal manner is very important in environmental studies, and the computer technology will only become more sophisticated. I play around with mapping programmes like Keyhole often on my own time with great enthusiasm, and the application's function is essentially based upon satellite/air photos and remote sensing. I look especially forward to taking a course in that department. Ideally, I could land some career which would have me working with this advanced software and sending me outdoors into the field often to investigate attributes of the physical environment.

My eyes are burning, so I must land myself into bed.

Apr 12, 2005

Noon-time reflection

I am sitting in the upper-story GIS lab, almost by myself, having just finished my assignments due for today, but with half an hour to kill before my next class. I consistently gaze out the window to my left over the verdant campus, thoroughly dampened by the onset of recurring heavy rains. I find it quite a beautiful sight, and though frolicking out in the rain is one of life's finest pleasures, it also tends to make me feel better about being inside looking out. Peculiar how that works.

It's difficult to fathom that I have owned this blog for less than a year. I feel as if I have been posting here for twice that amount of time. Perhaps such a mentality results from the fact that I change so much in the course of a year. Fortunately, I feel I am consistently changing for the better, as I attempt to drop bad habits in favour of ones that will help me progress and succeed in life. I have never done so well in college before, because I had never before bothered to put in such an effort. I have been absent from only three class periods this semester, out of my five courses. It figures that by the time I finally master being a student, it's almost time to graduate. I am not going straight to graduate school either, no sir. Though I am becoming more mature and success-oriented as I prepare for the future, I am never going to abandon my spontaneous, child-like nature of curiousity and wonderment at the world. I will most certainly be setting out on spontaneous night wanders for as long as I have two working legs, and I will never lose my strong sense of beauty and wonder. Though I may continue to change in many ways, some aspects about myself will never change. No matter what course I plot through life, I will always be a wolf in heart and spirit and proclaim so, and that alone will always be enough to fall back on.

Apr 8, 2005

Bird of prey, flying high...

There isn't much food in my home. In fact, I am down to stale cereal that's several months old, packets of ramen that are probably more than a few months old, and instant noodle dinners I salvaged from the bottom of my mother's pantry in August. It's not that I can't go shopping; I am just not motivated enough to. It's a chore I prefer to procrastinate for as long as possible, even if it means losing a few pounds due to malnutrition first. Well, I still do have some tater tots, but I can only eat so many of those in a week, and the freezer frost has already attacked them, as they do everything I shoehorn in there. Presently, my apartment appears to be the quintessential definition of a bachelor's den: a refrigerator full of condiments and very little food (I do have half a baby loaf of cheddar cheese left!), dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and a floor that hasn't been swept or vacuumed in a good two weeks. Usually, I am on top of my housekeeping, but I have been letting it slide... perhaps a little too much.

Anyway, time to update the projects list (originally posted 3/7/05):

    World Economics:

  • Literature and data search with 8-page written report on aspect of tourist industry. Due March 29. April 7. Finished successfully.
  • Field research project on location of an urban service--written report poster and group presentation. Due April 21. This should be easy. I have four intelligent peers in my group, and it just involves a bunch of visuals and captions.

    Interpretation of Geographic Data:

  • Final research paper on methodology in hydrometeorology hydrology (10 sources, 10 pages), with 10 5-minute Powerpoint presentation. Due end of April. May 5. It's nothing but a literature review describing the techniques/methodologies hydrology researchers use, and a 5-minute presentation is ridiculously short.

    Natural Hazards and Disasters

  • Natural Disaster Brochure (Group project). Unknown due date. I believe he blew this project off, which is fine by me.

  • 10-page research paper on access conditions and differential vulnerability relating to Hurricane Andrew, with 10-minute Powerpoint presentation. Due beginning of May. I got a couple pages into the rough draft of this, but I'll probably be putting this paper off the longest, as it's guaranteed to be the most tedious of all of them.

    Cultural Geography

  • 5-page essay on viewing displayscapes. Due March 14. Completed. A+

  • Research poster with presentation. Unknown due date. April 29th. My topic will most likely be rave culture and where it is most popular and why.

    Writing for the Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Essay 2--Evaluating how we are "made." Unknown due date. April 11th. Completed.

  • Essay 3 (includes panel presentation). Unknown due date. May 13th. Yet another research-intensive essay, 10-15 pages.

I've got it all under control. Really. No problem at all...