Tag Archives: change

Association


This is written in one shot. Stream of conscious, boom, random, kind of, but something I wrote nonetheless. Not the best, but … ok.

In scholastic bowl, for completely random in-the-dark guesses, for whatever reason, we have a tradition of guessing “Smith,” which is pretty much never right, but it is a constancy we sit back on. It feels good: Smith. It does, but never right. Smith, and if you have watched The Matrix, you would recognize him as the one who compared humanity to a virus. A virus with a host of mother nature we are, and always feeding and begetting, replicating, reproducing, duplicating. One. Two. Four. Eight. Semelparity, exponentially, big bang, and consume we do. Like the fire in Stravinsky’s Firebird, from a small flame to one that is whirlwind cymbal dramatic, trombone blasting, piccolos screaming into the timber sparks and bombast dust. Mankind. Smith. Evolution. Only needing enough to replicate. and so we replicate, limited by not us but the medium in which we live in. Limited not by us. No, we are limited by our egocentricity, or perhaps, the heliocentricity, virus unable to spread outwards of the sun. Be we do anyways go above the heavens in some sort of self-proclaimed apotheosis, whether it is by our egos or whatever, we answer, perhaps with something completely random like a firebird. this is why as mere mortals of the Scholastic bowl team, we answer and we are wrong with “Smith,” and we’re ok with it. Because, we’re just human.

iPad, a gimmick of education


A textbook on the desk, opened to a page, and a blank notebook on the side. Curled in a chair, he should be doing history homework, but instead, he is playing one of those colorful touch games that utilizes animals and cutting ropes and flinging pigs and such.

iPads are simply devices of entertainment. I heavily urge my school district to reconsider their decision of giving students divergent technologies. iPads are counterproductive, usurping valuable energy and motivation. Sure, they are fun, and sometimes even immensely useful, but nonetheless, they are only things, electronic gimmicks that not necessarily contribute educational success.

First, I would like to make one thing clear: I think technology is a necessary conductor of quicker and higher success. My friend uses an iPad as an ebook habitually. My laptop functions as a portable workplace, electronic sketchpad, music making studio, etc. Running with music not only compels me to run further but also faster. I type faster than I write longhand. Technology has made life more efficient and ‘cool’.

However, the demographic at my school given the iPads can care less about using it as an eBook, or a faster way to write. Based on common sense and observation, they naturally turn to the more fun functions of the iPad: games, music, art, etc because they can. When I surveyed a couple of iPad-wielding friends, here were some actual responses:

  • Now I can get on Facebook during school.
  • The star walk app is really useful–I can see where the stars/constellations are without having to be outside. I dont know if it’s more productive.
  • I’m so happy I got one, but iPads are definitely bad because they distract me from doing actual work.

So therefore, we are thankful, school district, but iPads, by nature, are too divergent.

Spending more on cooler things doesn’t necessarily translate into higher academic success. I strongly believe that blindly splurging on technology is quite deconstructive to the classroom atmosphere.

There are many other other alternatives of utilizing technology to promote learning; collaboration projects on google docs or college classes on coursera are both excellent. Let’s not focus on spending as a means of learning, but learning as a means of learning. I hope for the best.

College admissions and affirmative action


This issue is discussed in “Justice”, Michael Sandel’s popular political philosophy course.

According to wikipedia, affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including “race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin” into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group “in areas of employment, education, and business” usually justified as countering the effects of a history of discrimination.

Giving the advantage based on cultural differences rather than merit in colleges admissions. Is this injurous to justice? I know there is a definite disadvantage for me in applying to some colleges–according to the New York Times and USA today, more and more Asians are leaving the ‘race’ box unchecked to balance the playing field.

Here’s my view on the issue.

Everyone is born into an inescapable caste of ethnic, socio-economic, and other cultural differences. These already established factors that one is born into cannot be avoided. Thus, naturally and perhaps unfairly, the people with the most merit tend to favor certain ethnic and socio-economic groups. The Asian culture, for example, stresses education, and subsequently, produces children of higher educational merit whereas the latino culture does not emphasize the importance of education. Is it fair for colleges then to give an edge to latinos who are statistically and unavoidably under-merited?

We can only be sure that the answer is not easy.

Let say a top university gives an edge to latinos, who are shown to be statistically absent of educational opportunities.

However, there are also some latino individuals who are very much blessed with educational opportunities. What should we do with these people?

I think that affirmative action is a great idea in education. A lower class partaking in education increases socio-economic mobility, which in turn, will give rise to the equal consideration of merit. However, just affirmative action, I fear, will never be available as there will always be exceptions (the latino who is blessed with educational opportunities).

A holistic background examination might be too complicated and subject to human errors to be accurate, but to give an advantage or a disadvantage in a one-factor affirmative action decision is a disturbing mistake. Just because a family is latino. Just because one had no parents. Just because a family is poor. No. Merit should be far most important one-factor affirmative action decision.

To all the high school seniors out there, strut your merit, and good luck.

Snow


This story was written in one sitting, almost unedited. There probably will be typos. But in all, it’s satisfactorily written. So here it is, ‘Snow’, a metamorphosis on one new year’s eve.

Have a great year. -Benson

Snow

I’ve been invited to a New Years party at my friend Ben’s house. He’s usually not the character to host parties, but he had a lot of friends so I’m assuming that his friends told him to host the party so that the entire faction can be more festive.

There weren’t many friends that I know there. Ben’s was this upper societal guy who usually befriends lawyers and small firmed politicians, office workers of the sort, and I, a lowly schoolteacher – a demographic often deemed as boring and unattractive and unskilled (and sometimes unnecessary) – was strangely invited to this party. I was skeptical, but once I realized that Josh Hash was there, the slow-brained donut hoarder, I realized that the standards to make the party were low, and Ben just wanted enough people so that party of motley 30 years old men and women could start looking like a party.

I arrived at 11:15pm, on the front lawn of the place, neatly trimmed and the sun setting in the deep distance, a fiery red, the house silhouetted by the mystic red and the gently falling snow, and I walked into the house. Let me just set this straight; I am not a talker, nor am I one of those effeminate sentimental feelers. I am one of those awkward males that just fit in because he is a male – one of those people like those wolfs who’ll starve to death once he leaves his wolf pack, feeling most at home when all of his wolf pack are here. Not a party-er. Nope. Not even one bit. A teacher. A lone wolf. Not a party-er.

I knocked on the door and I could hear the inside, the loud jagged beats of an expensive stereo system, techno. No college style dunking and cheering, just the polite murmurs of conversations. I didn’t have any gifts, nothing, no hats, even my attire was unthoughtful; just the casual professional I wear everyday, even on breaks. Again, not a party-er.

And single.

But I wasn’t one of those people that went to these obscure parties to get close to a female friend, waiting the right moment, or the last second, to flirt and score with her. No, I’m a poor bastard with nothing better to do. At home, I’ll probably just go online and click on a few links, and read Facebook posts about how everyone else’s New Years was so refreshing and sentimental and passionate and successful. I don’t like to be pitied. So here I am, in the mindset that I could probably have a good time if I try, but I’m the awkward little guy that is too shy to try.

As I opened the door and slowly tipped the door ajar, the music slowly crescendoed into my ears, the bleeding sharp melodies of the metallic band into some junkie version of the New Years song, failing to capture the joyous spirit one bit in my opinion. I looked around and saw that I knew about half the people. The other half, I tried feverishly to avoid eye contact. I just eyed around, and tipped my head to my friends, like giving attendance in a classroom. Joey; here. Tim; here. Jayden; here. Alice; here. And as I peered in my rattish manner, I slowly walked over to the table of alcohol and refreshments. Ben was thoughtful to have a bit of everything for everybody. Hot dog. Sushi. Pistachios. Ice cream.

I went over and picked up a plastic cup, the ones with a white rim and interior and helped myself to a Sprite, mentally heeding myself to save my sobriety to be demolished later. I looked around and the other drinkers were next to the tele, showing the electric rendition of pop songs and new year songs in New York, blasting loud enough so that it could do series ear damage 500 miles away. Before my tongue touched the sparkling water, I felt a tap on my shoulders, and immediately, my mind turned to responses. ‘Hey, Happy New Years’ was the standard and packaged response that everyone seemed to use on December 31st, but I’m awkward as such and much response was subsequently different.”

“Hey. How’s your day been?” Then I spun around to see the victim of my particularly awkward pretense. Then I saw; it was Jesse. I choked.

She looked at me giggling, feigning worriedness about my coughing, and raised her eyebrow and said, “Fine”, as if asking me how I could ironically ask her how she was doing if I was choking on Sprite.

The last time I was with Jesse was when I was a college graduate with her in high school. She changed her profession, from a kindergarten teacher to an marketer. She claim it’s the same thing; reaffirming people things that they already knew. We didn’t stay in the same dorm; I was in a male only facility, but she and I had about the same schedule freshman year and we maintained a student to student relationship from there since, helping each other with schoolwork, studying finals together. I was single, but I guess it never occurred to me back then when she and I were in Paneras that if I were to put my hands around her coming late to her dorm room, that maybe something else would’ve erupted between me and her. But we maintained the relationship of platonic friends and I was glad it was that way. I never had a thing for dating a person you knew well. It was too … awkward.

But now, I hadn’t seen her for eight whole years since. We drifted apart. Thus choking at the sight of …

“Jesse, I haven’t seen you -”

“-in the longest time.” We finished together and it was in such perfect unison that casual genuine zealousness triumphed awkwardness.

She was beautiful; eyes deep, irises large, hair parted and pretty, cheeks pearly. And it looked like her hair was curled for the very special occasion in such a way that it would make a Danish princess envious. She had a gray skirt accentuated by a pink link on the side, very stylish. And I? I looked down, frowned at my attire that only Steve Jobs could pull off as being fashionable, She seemed to notice and she put her hands around shoulder, attempting to physically comfort me out of my rugged robin blue-colored button down shirt. The collar, however, outwore its stiffness and likewise, I was limp, a bit ruggedness in shape and size, not the ideal way I wanted Jesse to see me.

She would have the wrong impression and everything. I wasn’t –

Then I looked up. She said something, but I was caught off guard so she said it again.

“Hi. So, how are you doing?”

“Good.”

“Good!” She was ecstatic, apparently glad to see me. And that made me all warm and happy. Jesse was so bouncy, tipping her head signifying for me to walk with her to the other room so I did. And when I walked I looked out the window.

Outside, it was snowing, glorious, light, sprightly snow, that whirled in the wind. I could tell because I was looking at the dark windowsill where the only thing bright was the small pile of snow that cozily congregated over time, fluttering a great journey down the darkness and coldness. But at last, it reached the earth with pure whiteness in its heart.

I looked back at her, Jesse and she patted the seat right next to her. I sat down.

“We need to catch up. Where have you been all these years?” Jesse looked at me enthusiastically.

“Around I guess. Mostly just here, teaching English at a high school, Suncrest High, and I help run an after school science program for the local Jr High students. Enough to keep me occupied. I haven’t changed much in my opinion. I guess when you live like me, you live in a tempo. Wake up. Teach. Come home. Prepare. Then life becomes metronomic. And frankly, kind of boring.” I squeezed a smile. “How about you?”

“Right now I’m working for a company called Innote Inc. Associate for PR, designing websites, logos, calling the right people, and all that. Right after you left Colorado to go to New York, I stayed. Found a job at Innote. Was a small firm back then. Then it got expanded. And I had a choice. Now I’m at New York.”

“Wow. What coincidence. So how did you know Ben?” I eyed over to other lovebirds smiling glossily, looking at the 52 inch HD tele, the electric band now offstage replaced by some shaggily-clothed teenager with a microphone. Sounded like a girl, but at least now it was a less edgy genre.

Suddenly, I had the faintest notion of something that made me sweat a little bit. There are things in society that just does, and if you don’t follow these untold dogmas, you will be glared at and mentally shunned. For example, when somebody walks towards you on a sidewalk, you must stick to the right. When your ice cream plops onto the ground at an amusement park, you must leave it for the foreign and mustached janitor to pick it up. If you’re a pirate, right before you die, you must scrawl a map of where you hid the treasures.

If you’re a 30 year old at a New Years Party, you must find a partner to conjoin lips with or you will be an awkward duck floating in a sea of Japanese love birds at 12:01, trespassing the following year with social disgrace.

This socially bounding idea frightened me. And if I were to get close (I’m not considering any possibilities beyond), I’m to enter this horrendous vicious circle, and embark on this idea that I must get uncomfortable to avoid being uncomfortable at midnight. Why did I even come to the party in the first place?

To hell with it. I looked at Jesse and her long lashes and she looked back. She asked a question, but now after the mental breakdown (again), I did not recall the question. But she still looked at me politely, expecting an answer.

And I just looked back bulgy eyed in a ‘don’t-do-this-to-me’ fashion, like an awkward duck. Jesse looked at me, then perhaps she got the memo, and asked a different question, “Any new year resolutions?”

“Me?”

“Yeah. Who else?” She laughed.

“Well, I really haven’t thought about that yet.”

She crossed her legs. “Come on. There has to be something you’re willing to work for the next year. Everyone wants something better somehow. Let’s figure it out.”

“What’s yours?”

“Me?” She smiled, “Lose a pound a month -”

“But you’re not even chubby.” And that was the truth. She wasn’t one bit, beautifully fit into her chic dress.

“Thanks. But you have no idea; you’re not a woman. I guess it’s also part of my other ambitious goal to be able to run a half marathon, but I’m not putting that down for realsies for now,” Then she continue to go through her list pensively, “Save enough money to get a visit to Greece. I heard that place is fantastic, but very expensive. Learn how to tap dance. Get a higher rating in chess. And …

… fall in love.”

She expected me to say something but I kept my mouth shut. And it was an awkward 30 seconds before I brought up 30 years of my manhood to stare her straight in the eyes, fearing that if I looked away, she would be mistaken. Females overthink, and I wasn’t trying to give her a reason to be judgemental.

She looked at me, broke out from her pensiveness, then grinned friendlily, “Come on, those are my New Year resolutions. What are yours? Come up with them right now if you have to.”

“Uh. I’ve always wanted to write a novel I, guess.”

She beamed and that made me happy. “Good! What else?”

“Keep my job. Stay happy. Don’t die? I’m not really sure.”

She jabbed me in the shoulders. “I haven’t seen you in 8 years. And you’re telling me that you turned from a graduate to a boring … whatever. Take a risk! Don’t be awkwarded out, and step out of a normal life. It’s New Years! You’re supposed to envision the parts of your life you’re supposed to improve on. Nobody gives a crap if you actually accomplish them or not.”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Sure.” I stood up and walked over to the table where I grabbed my drink and I poured a half bottle of champagne into my half cup. “Well, I guess my job isn’t perfect. And it would be kind of cool to go on a game show, I guess. Also, maybe eat in that new restaurant down the street for my birthday.”

“Your birthday is March 31st …” Jesse grinned.

“You still remember?” I was surprised. Definitely didn’t expect her to remember.

“Yeah. You don’t remember? In Colorado? You had your own little party in the dorm. We ordered pizza.”

“Right.” I smiled but I was skeptical, “But that was like 8 years ago.”

Jesse and I talked, swapped stories. And time passed quickly before I realized it was 11:50. Time travels fast, a new year to pass in ten minutes. I drank some pop. The idea that Jesse was still talking to me with 10 minutes to go before all the lovebirds conjoin is still a bit intimidating. But to be fair, I did have a crush on her. I looked around. Everyone else was with a partner, even John Hash. People that were married talked to other couples. Those that weren’t sitting down were standing up. Somehow Ben invited the same number of females as males. And dammit, was I really going to do something I wasn’t planned to do in less than 10 minutes? Like my new year resolutions?

I threw a couple of chips in my mouth and Jesse was still there.

I walked over to the windowsill and she followed me. I whispered, almost intimately, “It’s been snowing great this year.”

“Yeah.”

“Look at that snowflake.” I pointed. “Are you a snow person? Some people don’t like snow very much.”

“Yeah. I’m a snow person. It gets me excited, it’s the harbinger of winter, after all.” The pink on her dress seemed to cast a warmness around her.

I smiled. Winter, everything white. All over again. New Years. From darkness to light. It’s strange to have such thoughts when minute hand is almost aligned with the hour hand pointing straight up. After all, I disposed all of my awkwardness. New Year resolutions and whatnot.

And I can hear the noise from the TV screen, the shoutings, the joyous festivities, the countdown.

I looked at Jesse. And I realized that there was nothing to be awkward about, but instead, this was a moment to feel special about, like every flake of snowflake that comes down from the sky. A person’s life is just as magnificent, one where the journey down shapes us, and changes us.

I looked at her. She looked at me, lips ready. Mine was premature, but steadfast.

Flurrying and swaying like the twirling white specks, from darkness to brightness.

Dancing, twirling down like a snowflake, I closed my eyes.

… 5  4  3  2 …

 

And the snow fell.

All the small things in life …


All the small things in life matters.

Large goals don’t stick as well. I would guess the majority of New Year resolutions fail because the goals are too large. By breaking the large goals into manageable chunks, we can accomplish more.

Let’s say I wish to write a 50,000 word novel (NaNoWriMo). By breaking the insurmountable word count into feasible amounts, and writing everyday, I could develop a healthy habit of writing 2000 words per day.

The smart people in school aren’t created overnight. Rather, they are painstakingly chiseled, making their learning a journey rather than a revolution.

Or let’s say I wish to be a better person. I can slowly build my character up, picking up litter, saying please, showing love, etc. Hugging everyone affectionally would be a bit insincere, when you normally wouldn’t, would be insincere and sudden. Slowly change, and allow the change to seep into you for a permanent result.

The large things don’t stick. But good small changes slowly compound; before you know it, the habits will make you a new person.

Sans Change


Relative to the sun, the earth is moving 67,000 miles per hour. (That’s nearly 4 times the speed of the average rocket.) Atmospheric pressure is at about 1 kilogram per square centimeter. Do we feel it? No. Despite the extremes, we feel acceleration but not constancy. We feel change.

However, other times, when things are so still, the stillness overcomes the change. And we now lived in a world where stillness is more valued than advancements. Minimal change is pretty rare. There seems to be less conservatism and more radical thinking. There’s now exists a ‘change’ inflation in our world. Suddenly, change is the new standstill.

When is the last time you spent the entire day without talking?

When is the last time you spent an entire day without the computer or phone?

If you looked outside, would you see a car?

Now that we change so much, going on without change would be sort of a change by itself. If suddenly, no one invented anything, there would be a marketing crises. In this society, you have shown that you can live with change. However, now the question is, can you live without change?

On future thinking


How do we think in the future? I honestly do not know. This post is a speculative guess.

Moore’s law states that per every 18 months, the capacity in our technology will double. The cost of electronic chips will be on the constant decline, as it will become more intertwined with our lives. It will be as inexpensive as paper, and the internet will be ubiquitous. Our future, digitalized.

Now, how does that affect future thinking?

Imagine, a highly digitalized world with the internet imprinted into our lens, feeding us information so we don’t have to. Imagine a world where the first thing we do when we wake up is plug ourselves to the internet. Imagine a world where less what questions are answered and more how questions. This is all possible due to the devalue of chips and technology. According to More’s laws, our cell phones today has more capacity than all the computing power in the world during WW2. A sheet of computing chips tomorrow will be cheaper than paper.

We’d have little chips installed in our brains. We’d have little screens implanted onto our eyes. We would be encouraged to cheat, to utilize the web and derive information from the web. We would spark a new age of induction and exploration. Critical thinking would be encouraged and factual knowledge would be overrated.

As our ease to obtain information becomes infinite, our method of thinking will change. Right now, our educational system believes in tests and memorization. The more the adaption of information adapts into a part of us, the less we would have to focus on rote memory and standardized tests, and more on critical thinking.

With technology closer and closer to us. I predict that our world will undergo an educational revolution. But that’s just a hopeful, optimistic guess.