Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ends and Beginnings

I fly to Berkeley tomorrow, not to see Southern California again for nine more weeks.

Winter break has been great. It was moderately productive - I obtained a driver's permit, practiced a little music, watched some good movies (including The Shawshank Redemption) and read (most of) a good book (Ender in Exile), cleaned and organized my room, hung out with old friends, and visited North.

There were things left undone, undoubtedly, but life is given meaning by the purposes we are driven to, and what is left to do is all we are ever truly concerned with. This idle month, a winter without school hanging over my head, has given me calmness and contentedness, relaxation in the house and city I call home, with the people I've known for many years.

And yet. As my time in the swathes of Torrance wanes, I grow ever impatient for my return. For, knowing that I must return in just a few days, to start anew, is it not reasonable to admit a desire to begin? It is like the last minutes for the impatient driver waiting on the last, lagging passenger to exit the house so that the six-hour road trip may commence.

I didn't really like Up immediately after I first saw it, but in the hours afterwards, as I thought about it, I realized it had a message for me. The movie was released around the end of high school, on the threshold of a new beginning. I find it increasingly difficult to discard anything that might one day hold memories, if merely for the pleasure that looking back on them will one day bring. But I watched, entranced, during that pivotal scene when Carl's wife encourages him to appreciate the adventure, and to have a new one, freeing him to leave long-lost memories behind and travel towards what is new and important. And I thought, will I ever have the courage to leave everything behind, and begin a new life, as he did?

"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain." --Red, from The Shawshank Redemption

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Haircuts, Girl-Approved or Otherwise

I'll explain this picture soon.
Does anyone remember Doug from the 90's? I used to watch that.

There was a show in which Doug needed a haircut, and Skeeter (his blue, literally blue, friend), said, "I heard you're getting your ears lowered," and Doug looked in a shop window and imagined his ears literally sinking down his head. It was just something I remembered.

Anyway, I got a haircut today (January 8). There's this Chinese woman in "La Belle Beauty Salon" on 182nd, before Crenshaw, headed east, who has cut my hair several times for a couple years now. (I hope she's Chinese. I don't know her name, so this is my best guess.)

Haircuts have always been a sort of tension point for me, because they always made me irritated. I have to sit still and move my head as convenient for the person cutting my hair (whether my mom or otherwise), and I can't see anything because my glasses have to be off, and I can't really think or concentrate about anything else because, well, there's someone with scissors near your head.

So after I was too old to have my mom cut my hair, we went to Supercuts or some other haircut place for a basic trim. Once again, not pleasant experiences for me. Then one day we found this little place on 182nd and at first I was predisposed to not go in there since it said "Beauty Salon", but there was a sign that said "$8 Men's Haircuts" so I couldn't argue with that and I had to go in. Interestingly, though the water she (the middle-aged Chinese woman whose shop it was) sprayed on my head was cold, the final result was something that I liked, meaning that I didn't think I looked stupid. It was cheaper, the woman was nice, and she cut it so that I wasn't ashamed. I've gone back there ever since.

The sole exception for the past couple of years was October 23, 2009, when a shop near campus in Berkeley was set up for a week to promote the AXE Hair Crisis Relief Center. As their promotion, they were having a Cal Guys Special, that is, Cal guys get a free AXE-girl-approved haircut.

Hey, I'm an Indian college student. Sue me.

The waiting list turned out to be really long, it took two or four hours, enough time for me to wander around Berkeley for a while. The experience was in fact quite pleasant - I told them I wanted a trim, and the AXE girls washed and shampooed my hair and then she chatted with me while she cut my hair. I had caught them at nearly 5 PM on the very last day, meaning I was among the last 20 guys of probably hundreds whose hair they cut that week. Afterwards, they gave me free samples of some AXE hair product, gave me a sticker of girl-approval (which you see above), and bid me good evening.

* * *

I, a male, am writing about my hair. Which is not even particularly striking.

Clearly, I need better things to do with my vacation.

Luckily, exciting things may be happening to me as I start my second semester at Berkeley.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Television - That 70's Show, Lost, Lie to Me, The Big Bang Theory

I've been trying out new TV shows lately.

Until nearly mid-high school, I didn't watch much other than Nickelodeon and Disney Channel (and Boomerang), since I was young, naive, and unwilling to watch TV that was more than slightly risque. Sometime around junior year, I stopped watching TV on the actual TV set entirely, due to homework and the ever-present Indian soap opera... and just because the shows on Nick and Disney Channel were beginning to bore me. I would, of course, hear tell of various shows, but since I didn't watch any of them, my joining in would be of, shall we say, limited scope.

Sometime around senior year, I discovered That 70's Show on YouTube, and every episode of all eight seasons was there. This became my TV replacement for a while. I watched all (200) of the episodes, in order (several times), and found that jokes would often reference events in earlier episodes, which made watching them all the more enjoyable. So that's what I did for a while... watch That 70's Show in order for several months. I'd watch it generally at my desk in my room while I was eating, or at 2 AM when I had homework to do and no motivation to do it.

When I went to Berkeley, my roommate told me about Lost, and said I would probably enjoy the show, since it was complex, many-layered, and intellectual. So I gave it a shot, and it was pretty interesting. It's still interesting at the end of Season 2; however, a few people have told me that the show becomes stupid B.S. after the third season or so... it'll be a shame if and when that happens, but until then, it will provide entertainment while I watch the episodes in order.

Watching TV shows online is great. They're there, complete, in order, in high quality; you can pause and replay and watch at your own leisure and pace, whether it's one episode spread out over several days or whether you watch an entire season in a weekend. What is there not to like about this situation?

Ninjavideo offers many contemporary popular shows online in high-quality DivX. I watch Lost here, and I've also gotten hooked on a new show called Lie to Me, a very interesting crime drama about the Lightman Group, an organization that makes use of facial expressions, psychology, and body language to determine concealed feelings and deception. I also considered giving Fringe a shot, but I haven't watched any episodes yet. Since Lie to Me won't be back until April, I started watching The Big Bang Theory, a show which I was recommended to like and which is popular these days.

True, it's a pretty funny show, with good (and scientifically accurate) dialogue, comic interplay between characters, and decent one-liners. I'm interested in spite of the ridiculous nerd-geek stereotypes - that is, after all, what makes the show funny. However, as I watch, I feel sometimes as if I'm watching myself... it's almost as if the characters say out loud what goes through my head. I've long since learned not to do that, and benefited from it. Of course I don't conjure particle physics out of my head (and wouldn't even if I knew it), but the principle is the same. Some differences between BBT and shows like Lost and Lie to Me is time (BBT is a half hour show) and type (BBT is a sitcom, the other two are dramas). Although BBT is full of science and other intellectual jargon, I'd still consider it less intelligent than the more complex and involved hour long dramas... as it should be.

Of course, I wonder if I should really get back into watching TV, because in two weeks I'll be back at Berkeley working and studying... I doubt that I will have the time to watch all these shows AND attempt to make connections at Berkeley AND do homework AND sleep, all at once.

This post ended up being much longer than I intended it to be. I should really work on that conciseness thing Mrs. Stover was telling me about.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I was looking at an apple the other day and I wondered something I don't have the answer to.

Is an apple alive or dead?

Obviously, it's alive when it's on the tree. Does it die as soon as it's picked, or does it take a while? Or is it not dead at all? If it's alive, then consider that we're eating a still-living organism. What about leaves? We've all seen dead leaves. Of course, leaves don't die as soon as they are picked from a tree. Or do they?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Regarding Janus, Blogs, and Clocks

It's January 1. Happy New Year!

January is named after Janus, the Roman god of gateways and doors. He has two heads, that look in opposite directions: one head looks back on 2009, and the other head looks forward to 2010. It's a fitting name for the first month of the year.

Things I Did For New Year's:
∙I created a new Word file for my Journal, which was getting unwieldy.
∙I created folder #09 for the next three months of my Camera Pictures folder.
∙I opened my Amazing Trivia Facts Page-A-Day 2010 Calendar. (There are 250 million bubbles in the average champagne bottle.)
∙I opened my Fractal Universe 2010 Calendar.
∙I fixed my sofa cover, which was sagging.
∙I shaved.
∙I began a plan to reorganize my hard drive, into something more intuitive.


∙I wrote this first post in my blog, which had existed, postless, for quite some time.

Since we're on the subject of time, here is a picture of my cuckoo clock.

It's mechanical (all moving parts, no electricity) and old-fashioned - just my kind of clock. Although my atomic clock is the complete opposite end of the spectrum, and that's my kind of clock too.

I guess my taste in timepieces says a lot about me.

I hope to post something here at least once a week. Although I might post more often during this winter break when I have far less to do.