Monthly Archives: July 2011

Why I suck at vocabulary

I suck at vocabulary.

I realized that my vocab sucked a month ago when I thought the verb form of demolition was demolite. Demolite isn’t a word; I meant demolish. And my friends made fun of me after that. So I cried.

I tried to memorize vocabulary the normal way first; using flash cards. However, I failed; the words went into my short termed memory and I fell asleep learning them. Falling asleep, I dreamed of a vocabulary wizard tapping my head and I suddenly learned all the words in the world. I woke up and realized it was only a dream. So I cried.

I quickly gave up; learning by flashcards was pretty boring.

So I recorded myself explaining and drew interpretations of vocabulary words. And those words went straight to my long term memory. [below are some examples] I had fun by expressing words naturally without the dullness of rote memorization.

I still suck at vocab.
But at least now I’m trying.

[click images below to enlarge]


Artificial Intelligence

A few years ago, I didn’t know the difference between influence and affluence. And teachers told me to be wary of the contrast. Now that I understand the difference, I see no difference in the word choice in the following sentence:

The internet has _____.
a) influence      b) affluence

Indeed, the internet has both influence and affluence, popularity and opulence, to such a degree that it is almost a religion: [video].

If Facebook is a celebrity, then the internet is a god. If Twitter is a 200 pound bass fish, then the internet would be the torrential rivulet that carries it. The influence of internet is so ubiquitous that we sometimes cease to notice it. In the future, the internet browser will be as widespread as paper. In fact, that’s exactly what the chromebook is: [video].

Not only is the internet torrentially influential, it is also mighty affluent, rich like a limitless gold mine, educational resources at the touch, monetary  transactions at the click.

So what are we going to do with the internet?

Personally, I believe that’s the wrong question. The right question: What is the internet going to do with us? The web has grown so much that it is now a monster that we each have a part of. And if it dies (which is nearly impossible), the framework of society perishes.

So that’s the internet. Affluent. Influent.

A. I.

What’s getting in the way?

Seth Godin described the four scenarios in a blog post – here it is:

You don’t know what to do

You don’t know how to do it

You don’t have the authority or the resources to do it

You’re afraid

I know what to do. I know how to do it.
I can do it. Right?

For many people, there seems to be the dilemma of overconfidence. The aura that the possibility is within grasp. However, then the true goal gets set back and neglected.

This is laziness or procrastination. When we know how to do it. When we can do it. When we are able to do it. When it’s right in front of us. When the do is right in front of us, we don’t do. It’s all that mumbo jumbo brain stuff. To get a better sense here: . I, like you, am guilty of procrastination myself.

But get your [my] act and will power together because like Seth Godin said,

You [We] can do it.

Summer Book Reviews 2011

I have read a couple of books so far this summer. And I thought I’d dedicate a blog post in recommending some books for you to read. Of course, there’ll be bias because I haven’t read all the books in the world, but I have read some pretty nice books this summer. And here they are so far not in any particular order –

The amount of stars given reflects the satisfaction I received after reading the book.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis
This is a very short book concerning the external and internal changes of a family. If you want to just read a very short book – perhaps in one sitting – then this is a great book to do so. However, Metamorphosis is slightly uneventful and creepy, but you’ll be treated with some feel-good symbolism at the end. 2.5/5 stars

Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
Ripping apart the dogma of ‘staying together’, Of Mice and Men is extremely lonely and disconcertingly eery. About the dreams of two men and the differences between then. A very quick book for a strong soul. 3/5 stars

Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
This is possibly the best book I read this summer with no vocabulary more difficult than phosphorescence. Filled with symbolism, brutality, and the dignity of the catch, The Old Man and the Sea is simplistic yet sensational. 4.5/5 stars

Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5
Vonnegut explores the depravation of a war from an unique perspective. Deeply contemplative, Billy Pilgrim tells the story in a fantastical and somewhat delusional nonlinear order, capturing the extent of human mantras and emotions. 4/5 stars

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Modern Library ranks this book as the second best book of all time, but personally I feel this great american novel is somewhat overhyped; it’s still very good however. One cannot feel anything but great sympathy for the outcasted and Gatsby. His misdirected dream, his character, his greatness. 4/5 stars

King’s Insomnia
The longest book and the only book I read this summer that’s not considered an american classic, Insomnia was a great read, unrelentless until the absolute finish. A play in three acts, Ralph explores the harmony of his life and the world around him. 4.5/5 stars

Barrie’s Peter Pan
The lightest book I read ever, Peter Pan is about a boy who never grew up. Without any restraints and obligations of those that are aged. The book is like a childhood game where the end isn’t near and the everything’s near in Neverland. 4/5

Ellison’s Invisible Man
About the insignificance of an unnamed black individual, the book is powerful and insightful, gripping and deep. There are bunches of symbolism and great little anecdotes that makes one rethink life. 4/5

Sinclair’s The Jungle
Highly pessimistic but addicting, Sinclair tells the story of the desolate Jurgis who attempts to find a good life. However, Chicago robs away everything from him and he slowly adapts to the horrors of reality. A book to shake your perception of things. 4.5/5

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream
Shakespeare shows the extent to which people would love in a creative way. Despite the retired Shakespearean humor, the idea and the opulent language is very refreshing. The SparkNote No Fear version is recommended so the book is more of an enjoyment than a learning experience. 3.5/5

Steinbeck’s Cannery Row
Steinbeck shows that you don’t need a tangible plot to create a sensational book. Sensational characters work on their own depicting the extraordinarily complacent and diverse lives of a community. 4/5

I, an agnostic

The following post is what I think about religion in general from an agnostic’s point of view.

You can tag me as an agnostic, but that isn’t really it, is it? An agnostic is one who believes that we shouldn’t be too sure about the existence of god, that religion is a farce, that religion is a myth. For starters, to me, religion is not a farce. It’s real. With a couple of billion people raised traditionally to believe in the existence of a higher being, it’s undeniable that the system is complex and tangible.

Unlike many others, my parents never talked about god or religion so I had no idea who or what God was until elementary school. And I feel that this experience, or lack thereof, greatly influenced my agnostic opinions.

I understand that it’s impossible to take out religion as a whole, and I don’t think we should. And in fact, I kind of like it. I like the religious people around me even thought I’m not exceptionally religious myself. Religion is becoming less and less about ‘supreme importance’ or ‘worship of superhuman’, but about a belief, a comforting and moralistic belief that there is a purposePeople who are driven are really awesome people to hang around with. People with an existentialistic twang can get a bit itchy.

Unlike some agnostics, I don’t feel that religious wars are stupid. Sure, they catalyze many deaths, but they are necessary old-age antics to ensure the strength of the religion, to exemplify what lengths of people will go to to justify their beliefs. If they stop, then the purpose and drive of religion will also become futile.

However, in the present day, it’s even more important to have an open mind. One can be both spiritually dogmatic and open-minded. Those who can see lights in other faiths but still remain strong-standing in their own are greatly admired. Though it’s difficult – and kinda defeats the purpose of the religious desire – it’s necessary. The religion of peace should be the trump card.

I think I used to be an atheist, but then I saw the necessity of an open mind. I would be under-qualified and rude if I completely discredited a set of spiritual mantras that were intact for millenniums. The world is mystical, and we harvest at least some faith in the unknown; that’s why it’s called faith.

So that’s me, an agnostic.

Still Me ~

This is nearly unedited because my friend wandered off in the midst of editing. It’s alright; it’s totally unfit for any other purpose anyways; too long and aimless for an anecdote, too short and aimless for a proper story. So it’s here, on the blog.

Hope you enjoy.

White haired and weathered, he sat there complacently in one of those sofas, humming along mentally as he meticulously opened the book Still Me by Christopher Reeves. Impaled with genodermatosis, amebiases, colerectal cancer, chorioretinal inflammation, and other foul-sounding diseases that he could not pronounce, he sat in the air conditioned library helplessly, ass in the seat, walker dangling pathetically at his side. He slowly brought Still Me to his wrinkles, and made out a few words with extreme difficulty, but doing so successfully gave him extreme pride. This was his life, a loosely wound metronome, producing a faint leathery sound, like tapping a soft sofa.

He pretended to be young by wearing a cloak, a sky blue Hawaiian shirt that seemed to say “I’m happy!” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. If life was the sea, he would be a disregarded plastic toy boat, helplessly and aimlessly moving with the quick paced, foamy currents.

His daughter, in her late 30s, hurried along into the library, her heels clicking noisily along to the couches to pick up the old man as it was on her dutiful schedule to do so. She called out in an obnoxious voice, “Hey!” to the old man, her lips bloodied by lipstick, and skin diseased by powder. Walking in, she disturbed the contemplative atmosphere of the library, cracking a very thin ice of placidity. But she took no regards, continuing, announcing, “What’s the junk, this book Still Me? Yeah, let’s go.” The old man withered. Forcefully, she slammed the book down and pointed to the exit and demanded, “Let’s. Go.” The old man sighed.

The man wanted to make a formidable appeal to her, but it would be futile, causing needless confusion, so he sighed instead, swearing mentally at the wraths of time. Still Me by Christopher Reeves was left on the chair arm as the man ached to stand up to meet his walker, pathetically, in a way that shrieks, “I need help!” But there was no incoming help, as his daughter took no notice, walking out with a flick of her hair, declaring “I’ll be out in the car.”

The man could only see her daughter move so effortlessly in a way that made him so irately jealous. He cringed.

The old man’s face saddened as he could do absolutely nothing but be washed up and down the currents of life. Perhaps it was only fair; he had his fun when he was young, and now his time was over. He trembled to stand up, gripping the walker with a hawkish might, inching forward, fighting hard against the uncooperative knee and enervated thighs.

Looking back at the book, Still Me, he decided to abandon it for it would take an eternity to read it anyways. He trembled as he dragged himself forward, moving out in jerky uncontrolled movements. Alone, no one could help him, failing even to ride the currents. As he walked to the door, he wondered if this was the way things meant to be.

He walked slowly to the car, her daughter waiting impatiently with a false grin thrown carelessly over her face. He sighed; not distressed, but tired. Tired of life. And perhaps, the way to make everyone happy, including himself, was to sink to the bottom of sea.
He was still him.

Comments? Feel free to leave your though below.
Thanks. Hope you enjoyed that.

Clockwork ~

This piece of writing isn’t going to get anywhere far so why not post it on my blog?
Hope you enjoy.  :)

The sun was rising, same as always.

And the library was bereft of life in the wee morning hours. He, a boy of 16, strolled into the library’s cafe with all the intentions of finishing Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, but the drive to read escaped him as the morning crispness greeted him amicably. The coffee shop was hearty, with an array of sweets in one corner and sofas in the back.

So he plopped himself on a maroon sofa, his mind utterly transfixed upon the weavings of space, eyes wandering through focused and unfocused nothingness. The clock, with its complex inner clockwork not shown, was not at all stultifying to the boy who watched it meditatively . So he continued to look at the clock, watching life’s complexity slip ceaselessly around him like magic, like clockwork.

Life, ticking.

The life around him was equally as interesting, if not more, than his book. The clockwork pressed on, and soon the boy realized morning was slipping away; more people walked in to the shop, and the boy could see everything from the leather seat in the back. It was summer, and the library was completely devoid of teens; the boy whimpered slightly from a pang of sheer loneliness, sinking into the sofa.

He noticed the clock again. It was 10 o’clock sharp. A girl walked into the room. A very pretty girl his age, the boy might add, a rare sighting in the library during the summer. The girl dallied around, paid for a bag of chips, and left the shop. The boy in the sofa decided that the girl was looking for somebody. (Perhaps somebody special?) But the thought slipped out of his mind, and it wasn’t important. And so he picked up his book, Cannery Row, and for the first time upon entering the coffee shop, the boy in the sofa read.

He stopped promptly on page 70, distracted by the coffee shop. Gazing the clock, he realized another hour had passed without notice. People talked around him. A small blond girl in a pink dress begged her mother to buy some ice cream. A raggedy man sat next to the boy in desolation and pulled out his laptop, searching for a job. But something struck the boy as peculiar; a tall male in his teens dawdled around the coffee shop, looking for somebody. The boy in the sofa would be damned if this tall male was looking for the charming lady that came an hour before. But that would be a mad coincidence, pure serendipity.

Completely unlike clockwork of nature.

Grabbing a bag of chips, the tall male left. The boy in the sofa wasn’t sure; did the pretty girl grab a bag of chips too?

The boy in the sofa became utterly entranced by Cannery Row, by Mack and Doc and Henry, by the web of the community. An hour passed, then another hour passed as time and space of the lulling life at Cannery Row and the library gripped his mind tightly.
Four o’clock came along, and it was serene. So the boy in the maroon sofa sat in content silence, enjoying the last of his homemade coffee. Getting dark, the shadows loomed over the library’s coffee shop windows. A bit tired himself, the boy went back staring without focus. With nothing to think about, he suddenly remembered the pretty girl and the tall male. He chuckled as he figured them meeting each other would be an uncanny and ridiculous coincidence.

But alas, the setting sun illuminated the sky in beautiful auburn with a spark of thunderous violet, and the boy sat there in isolation, a bit lonely, staring at the gorgeous sky. Was the sky a creation of simple metronomic clockwork? This brilliancy of nature. It didn’t look like the undertaking of clockwork at all, but of magic. Maybe life was more than constancy. Maybe sometimes life ticks out of its steadiness and complacency. Maybe. Because sometimes, it’s truly divine.

The boy in his seat smiled and closed his eyes.

He imagined the pretty girl and tall male who both bought chips. He relaxed his hands on Cannery Row, smiled sincerely, and wished sincerely that they were looking for each other, and that they’d found themselves happiness, under the divine light. Not by the telling of a clock, but of serendipity, of the brilliance of the sun.

The boy sat up and stepped outside of the coffee shop into the cool breeze. It was dark, but the sunset still left of spark of radiance on his face.

The boy smiled and took a step briskly and zealously in the direction of the settled sun.
Life, ticking.

What did you think of this?
If you have thoughts, a comment would be splendid!