Sunday, March 21, 2010

Attempting to Skateboard

Whoohoo! Just got back from my first skateboarding attempt ever (went with a couple friends). Even though all I can do is scoot along for a few seconds at a time and turn a tiny bit, if feels great! I think taking a break every once in a while to do something new and exciting is really helpful to someone like me who has an endless work load; I actually feel more motivated to study for my Calculus test now than I have all day.

Life is so good right now! I've gone from being a hopeless pessimist to a total optimist in the past three years or so. That's a long story...suffice it to say that I've changed a lot and I plan on changing more, and it's the best feeling in the world!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Writing with my Left Hand

I've been learning to write with my left hand. I want to be ambidextrous! For those that don't intuitively understand why this would be so cool, here are a few advantages to being able to write with both hands:

-if you start to get a hand cramp in one hand, you can switch to the other one
-you never have to worry about the annoying spiral in spiral bound notebooks getting in the way
-it's probably good for your brain
-you can confuse semi-observant people by writing with a different hand every time you see them
-if you break one of your hands you already know how to use your spare

I dedicated a notebook to purely left-hand writing. Almost every day for the past two or three weeks, I've been writing down all the song lyrics I can think of. I've even gotten to the point where I can take notes in class with my left hand! It just takes a lot longer (I'm at about 1/4 the speed of my right hand). Maybe I'll post pictures of before and after sometime. Right now it looks almost exactly like my normal handwriting.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Home-Made Shampoo

Last Saturday I made a new batch of home-made shampoo. It's a cool recipe I found here. This time I tried it with 3 parts distilled water and 1 part castille soap (the jajoba oil is mixed in with the soap already).

I like this shampoo as much if not better than commercial shampoos. Plus it cheaper and you know what's in it. Another reason I've gotten interested in home-made products is that they're more environmental and getting closer to the local economy model (as opposed to relying on corporations for everything in life).

I know, I'm still buying the ingredients from the store, but I've taken the first step and eliminated the commercial shampoos. The next step would be making my own soap, then making my own olive oil for the soap. Ideally, I'd either grow my own olives (unlikely), or know the people that grow the olives/make the olive oil. The idea is to know as much as you can about what's being made and who's making it. I think that too often, people just switch to products with the word "green" stamped on it.

There's a lot more going on than the surface appearance. Let's face it, we, the average "consumers", don't know hardly anything about what resources are being used up. You can't fix the problem just by switching from using one type of resource to the point that it's gone to using an alternative resource to the point where it's gone. That's what corporations do; use things in bulk. Whatever is cheaper to make or comes with a bigger payoff. What's needed to be truly environmental is to know what resources are available locally. < /tangent >

Anyways, I replaced the shower head to a water saving one (finally). Our house is not as environmentally friendly as it could be, and I want to work on that. In my spare time, haha. I also found some recipes for home-made conditioner and laundry detergent that I want to try. I'll post about the results :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ideas on Feminism

First off, I wouldn't call it Feminism. More like equal...something. Alright, so I can't invent catch phrases. For the sake of simplicity, I'll compare my ideas to stereotypical Feminism...partly because all I really understand is the general idea. I'm going on the assumption that there are a lot of people out there who have a similar grasp of the general idea.

What I've noticed is that most men probably wouldn't want to get involved in the movement. They might be neutral, maybe, but what motivation is there for them to get involved? I think that the reason for this – apart from upbringing and views on gender roles – is that the message they're getting is, “Hey you males, stop being jerks and let us succeed.” So, the contributions women can make are very active and positive ones, whereas the best a man can do is “not be a jerk”. Well, if he's lucky, maybe he'll get acknowledged as “supportive”.

Half the population is women, and not all women are on board; some don't want to give up their traditional roles, trading their independence (and sometimes rights) for security and dependency. If, in addition, hardly any men are Feminists, that basically guarantees a minority. So, if we really want equality of the genders, we need to focus on men as much as we focus on women.

Then there's the issue of "what is equality?" Is it simply giving women the same rights and opportunities as men? That's been done to some degree, at least in western culture, but even then the genders aren't equal. Expectations differ. So does the amount of work and type of work women tend to take on. For example, in a married couple, the woman might have the same income and work load as her husband, but she'll still tend to take on the majority of raising the children and household chores in addition!

It'd be easy to get off on a tangent about how women are getting the short end of the deal and need to stand up for themselves even more than they already do (which is true enough), but men are getting short-changed by traditional roles as well.

For example, if a couple gets divorced, who do you think is most likely to get the kids? And if the woman does most the work in raising the kids, doesn't that take away a lot of the joy as well as the responsibility from the father? (Not all the joy is in the fun and games, some of it comes from playing a major part in the kids' lives and the difficult day-to-day responsibility as well).

Another example: dating. Although occasionally the girl will ask the guy out, it's still more likely to go the other way around. I've seen a surprising number of comments online about how “you shouldn't have to ask a guy out. If he doesn't have the guts to approach you, he's not worth it”. Hmmm. So a girl says she kind of wants to ask a guy out, but doesn't have the guts...but if the guy doesn't have the guts, he's not worth it. And yet the girl is still so special that she deserves people taking risks for her sake, despite her unwillingness to do the same?

Now, I'm not about to say that anyone is worthless just because they're too nervous or inexperienced to tell their crush they like them, but I do think that people shouldn't expect something of others that they don't expect of themselves.

In other words, if you don't expect yourself to come out into the open, you'll have to deal with the possibility of the other person not coming out either. If you expect them to say something, it's only fair that you expect yourself to say something. Gender has nothing to do with it, except that boys take it for granted that they will have to learn how to ask girls they like out, and girls are not often trained in the skill or even used to the idea.

Relationships is another issue. Some women don't want to relinquish the security of a dependent role, and a lot of men don't want to give up the control and feeling of power/superiority that comes with their traditional role. However, there are women who do see the value in becoming more independent and self-assured, no matter the challenges of learning how.

Along the same lines, perhaps men could be encouraged to see the advantages in giving up some of that control and false sense of superiority; not having to be “the strong one” twenty-four seven and having someone that will help them with their problems, having someone to share each type of responsibility as well as each type of joy, being allowed to express a wider range of emotions, having a significant other who isn't like everyone else, and so on.

Both genders suffer from a lack of balance when they try to fit themselves into the cookie cutter moulds laid out for them by society. A relationship needs both mutual respect for the other person's strengths as well as acceptance and support for their weaknesses.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sad Song, Happy Tune

I like songs that have sad lyrics and happy tunes. For one thing, the contradiction is beautiful. It indirectly gives the message of finding a way to be happy no matter what the circumstances. Also, I think this type of song has a way of putting a sad or broken hearted person in a good mood. The lyrics give you that feeling of connection, like the song is describing the way you feel. At the same time, the music itself moves you into a completely different state of mind. The song that made me think about all this is "Bye Bye Love", which I found out is actually by the Everly Brothers, but I'm used to the Simon and Garfunkel version.

A similar phenomena are pieces that express intensely sad or even angry emotions at the beginning, then, by some believable miracle, it becomes hopeful and encouraging. It's like the happy/sad songs in the sense of establishing a connection with despair and transforming into something beautiful.

The difference is that it's more likely to fully express the pain, letting it run it's course before moving on. I guess it's the music aspect, more than the lyrics, that I truly relate to...which is probably why sad songs with happy lyrics just don't do it for me as far as getting into a better mood goes.