Please note that my opinions are my own, and the opinions of the anyone or any institution quoted are theirs. The opinions expressed herein do not reflect the opinion of North Carolina State University, its board of directors, the College of Management or any other college, Student Media Authority, or WKNC Raleigh.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Engel Talks on Dickens and Poe

Dr. Elliot Engel visited campus again today and shared a lecture (he prefers them to be called “talks”) about Charles Dickens. Previously I had been uninspired to read Dickens’ work other than that which I had been previously acquainted. I may not tackle A Tale of Two Cities yet, but his talk is motivational and inspirational.

It is even more so considering I have had a previous connection to the Dickens family. I believe it was Charles Dickens great-great-granddaughter that spoke at a Woman’s Club of Gaston County meeting, and when she heard of my story she was kind enough to send a graduation gift to help out with college. I can’t remember if I’ve sent a thank you note, and it’s a shame to let such a thing go, but I hope a public thank you can suffice until I find her contact information. This kind of unconditional generosity bestowed upon a person whom she’d never met is quite inspiring in itself. That’s why when I heard that Dr. Engel was selling one of his books to benefit the Dickens Society and its work with a children’s hospital in London. I find this kind of philanthropy quite in line with my beliefs as a Christian, a Freemason, and a member of Delta Upsilon. It probably had something to do with my own experience, being orphaned twice and probably three times myself, though the math would be a bit tricky to describe and utterly irrelevant to conveying the sense of compassion I have with children suffering world wide.

The book is entitled A Dab of Dickens & A Touch of Twain. It’s a collection of essays about the life and works of eighteen authors in world and American literature. It includes Dickens (obviously), Twain (a fellow Brother of the Briar), and Poe.

Poe is uniquely interesting to me for several reasons, probably best personified in the attribution of his title as a “twisted genius.” I can relate to the hardships in his life though I’m glad to say I’ve fared better in the realm of personal relationships and relative sanity. Dr. Engel is performing his “talk” on Poe tomorrow, and though I’ll be late because of class I can’t wait to go. I think its safe to say I more appreciative of literature thanks in part to Dr. Engel and in a large part to my middle-grades and high school English teachers. Thanks!

Cynicism and Skepticism in a Rational Mind

Being a cynic and a skeptic isn’t worth the effort I’ve put into it. I mean, don’t we all grow out of this immature stage of rationalization and debate for the sake of itself on trivial issues? If you ask my previous roommate, you’d find that that is not the case.

However, it has become the case for me. Trivializing everyday affairs is trivializing the value of your time. Something similar (more directly related to God’s law) is alluded to in the Bible, book of Matthew I believe. I will spare you the quotation partially due to laziness and partially due to my concern for changing the mood of this post.

It belittles the generally good ideas that come to fruition through the natural creative process. I mean, if one wishes to have the best garden in terms of biomass, he does not prune back any branches or pluck any weed. What he reaps is an ugly mess bereft with several other incumbent problems (insects, snakes, decreased flower yields, etc.). The same is true for the mind.

If one wishes to have a fertile mind, he must prune back excessively verbose thought lacking real substance, which will allow the other vines and branches of thought to bear greater fruite; likewise he must pluck weeds of triviality lest they overtake the garden of thought and prevent it from showing its true beauty and substance.

You may use that if you wish, preferably cited as my own thoughts, but certainly required no further than your own ethics will force.

I guess I haven’t mentioned feeling better since performing some routine gardening of my soul and mind. “I feel better, thanks for asking.”

Have a good evening!

Eating Crow Has Become Common For Me

So I finally did it. I bought an iPod.

See a previous post in my TheCollegeGuy blog from LJ. One of the entries alluded to the “tiny world” these people create for themselves with headphones jammed into their ears. My, I’m really quite the cynic and I have not a clue as to why. Anyway, I speculated on the insecurities these people must hold to feel it necessary to always be listening to some drivel. I believe making statements like that is referred to as “tempting fate.”

I’m enjoying it so far, and its an iPod Shuffle, so its nicely compact and presents a nice novelty when I’m listening and I haven’t a clue as to what’s next on the list. A surprise everytime…

Sunday, August 28, 2005

There's That Song... Who Sang "No More Mr. Nice-Guy!"

I enjoy being that kind of person. It makes me feel good and generally makes others happy too. That doesn’t mean I don’t know what I want, or that I’m manipulative. Sometimes there is being “too nice” though. Had to learn that today.

Reminded me of a conversation I had last week at a gaming store. But first a quick digression… (I have too many hobbies. Way too many. I think I’ve found that I take on new hobbies mainly to gather new knowledge. I enjoy going in depth in concentrated areas of know-how, wisdom, and ability. Its an outlet for the various forms of passion that have always welled up within me. Having too many hobbies makes me spend too much money. I recognize this and am trying to correct it by dropping a hobby; however, just as soon as I decide to give up a hobby, I pick it back up again with new enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, in my experience, equals more money. Its not wasted as long as I’m having a good time, but in retrospect things always look different. Maybe I should just pick up a new hobby—becoming a minimalist. Right…)

So much for a “quick” digression. Anyway, I walked into the gaming store with the intention of not buying anything. That intention held up quite fine, but I did have a nice chat with the store’s attendant. Turns out a lot of my frustration (some of which was ultimately centered on my roommate and other friends) stemmed from the fact I was a “nice guy” at the expense of being walked upon. I became a pushover, but it took someone else’s insight to fill me in. I recognized some obvious character flaws that lead to being a pushover, one of which is an overconfidence in my abilities as a whole, especially organization and performance. I hold a lot of potential, but as Brock recently stated “[Human] potential is a waste… it is basically doing nothing when it could be utilized or developed. Who said humans were efficient?” Sorry for the paraphrase, Brock.

See “ASSertion” below. Keep in mind however, that being a “nice guy” has its own rewards, even if I’m currently jaded by my status as one.


Just a quick word of advice to everyone: Be assertive.

I mean just that, be assertive. Sometimes that means making a fool of yourself, looking like an ass, or worse. But if you aren’t assertive in most every aspect of your life you are more likely to be exploited.

In the long run you are looking out for numero uno, no? Think about it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Pipe and a Friend

Last night I went to Tobacconists of Raleigh with Brock. I had forgotten that Debbie, the proprietor, cooked dinner every Thursday for all the customers. Finally got to have some really fine eastern-style barbecue, then sat for a few hours and bullshitted with the fellas.

I bought two Fonsecas because they were pluming and BOGO, so you know I couldn’t say “No.” To smoke while I was there, I purchased a Bohemia Maduro that was pluming as well. That was one tasty smoke, first really creamy maduro I’ve had. Finished with some spice, didn’t get too hot and stayed lit. It ran a little uneven, but that’s forgiveable. Afterward I had a pipe full of Solani Silver Flake in my virginia pipe. That was truly a fine tobacco, the only virginia I’ve had that didn’t really bite my tongue, and it had loads of wine-like undertones with full flavor. At $28 for a 100g, I think I’ll shy away from it for now, I’ve got way too much other pipe tobacco to try first.

All and all a very enjoyable experience. Hanging out with real people in a real laid back environment where everyone is just who they are, no fronts—that’s special. I learned a good bit and I think I’ve got my cigar smoking friend to think about pipes. All in all, a good night, I’d say.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I know this guy, Arsenio... No, really!

Today I saw a friend from new student orientation (that’s a bit more than a year ago). His name is Arsenio and I have to say that without really hanging out with him that much, I just feel this unexplained bond between him and myself.

It might have to do with the fact that we are both generally good guys. We respect women, have morals, values, and truly appreciate life. It might have to do with the fact that we both lost our mothers to different but equally fatal diseases. Or it could just be that he is just a really easy guy with whom to get along. See next post if you think that sounded funny.

In any case, I’m really happy for him because he has his website up and running, http://www.harlem101st.com. He’s trying to break out on the rap scene and you should check out some of his music. I don’t typically listen to rap that much, and didn’t know what to expect; I was plain blown away. His lyrics are intelligent and well-crafted but still have that “from the streets” vibe that lends credibility to the hardships he raps about. He’s doing something with his life of which he’s proud; it’s something he really wants to do.

I don’t think I’m that comfortable in my choice of a career just yet. He’s just got an amazing story and it really helps me put my own story in perspective.

Grammar... Why pick on this?

If that last post had some grammar in it that struck you as strange, its because I have only one pet-peeve with written grammar. If nothing else, never end a sentence with a preposition. I speak that way, but can’t stand to see it written. Common examples that get on my nerves are:

  • What are you up to?

  • You know where that guy is from?

  • He’s a cool guy to hang out with.

These are all really strange when you correct them. But I prefer them that way because they are correct. I would never speak like this, however:

  • To what are you up to doing?

  • From where is that guy?

  • He’s a cool guy with whom to hang out.

Just thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2005

He Made Me a Brother

Just wanted to share this with everyone. I wrote it last year after accepting the Third Degree and becoming a Master Mason. My grandfather was there at the ritual and it touched me so much I was inspired to write poetry, which rarely do and rarely do well.

He Made Me A Brother

Of few things recalled from days of my youth
Fondly remembered that deep voice that soothed,
Happily sitting on the pilled grey couch,
Sitting tall, trying in vain to not slouch,
Watching the game, “Ding!” the popcorn is done
Shared on his lap, he made me his grandson.

Now losing a parent is something shared
One way or other we all have to bear.
Lacking a mother both we have endured
Not a worse feeling could I have incurred,
‘Til at her funeral, tears come and gone,
Took upon his chest, he made me his son.

Studying his temper I came to find
An even manner, gentle acts, words kind.
His only son, I most desired his light;
Truth I discovered one curious night—
Asked honestly, his reply unfettered
“Good company kept makes good men better.”

Of men as himself, he made me a member
Cherished custom from which I found candor,
Raised from the earth a new man is born.
Naught is dearer than that Saturday morn’,
Once taken by grip stronger than others
Raised to his arms, he made me a brother.

Once taken by grip stronger than others
My Papa made me more than his Brother.

The Origin of the Name

Ok, so the name of my blog is a little weird. The College Guy. Ooo, ahh, that sounds great. Impressive. Not really, but it does have a story.

I come from a remarkably disfunctional but average American household. As such it seems that I'm the first male to actually do something beyond high school in the way of formal education, since dubbed the College Guy by my neighbors back home. It was affectionate, and I like it, so I keep it.

I don't even know if they still call me that, but I imagine they do, even if they don't.

Wow, that was Yogi-ish. Random thoughts without coherent structure are typically a good sign that I should stop writing. Good night!

On the Subject of Losing One's Thoughts

A quote came to me spontaneously as I was avoiding paying attention in my ARE 336 class. How is it that someone can teach me the same material I learned in principles class over and over again? Is it expected that I appear interested? Anyway, I ramble because, to tell you the truth, I cannot remember the quote. Whatever it was, it was enlightening... Let's see if I can remember...

Nope... Gone. Seems that it had something to do with the human condition, our consciousness, our soul. Either that or economics, I can't remember which; but this experience lends itself to a question - where do all the lost thoughts go?

I had pondered something philosophical in my ARE class this evening and had consciously thought to myself "I should share that in my blog, I'd like to get some reaction. Besides, what a good way to record my thoughts." Then I had an urge to write it down in my notebook. I failed to do so, why? I don't know but I'd venture a guess that it was because I suddenly got distracted by the person sitting next to me and his lack of grasping the conecept of consumer surplus. Being the benevolent-sharer-of-knowledge I am (scoffs are welcome) I turned my attention to him, completely losing my train of thought. I wouldn't think twice of helping him again as it really doesn't bother me. What is irritating is that I have no clue where the thought went.

So you know, I have had an intro to psychology course and I understand the correct scientific answer. The memory is a complex process with distinct subprocesses, one of which takes general information about the context of thoughts and experience--that is environment, time, visual cues, and the like--to make the information easy to recall later, perhaps moving to long term memory if necessary. I'm not pondering on that point... I'm pondering on the point of "where did it go?" It's there, somewhere I'm sure, waiting to be recalled as are millions of other thoughts I've had and can't remember. Or is it? Do we "delete" information we no long need, as one might do with a computer file? Is it stored in that mythical (and untrue) 90% of our unused psyche? Is that electrical impulse, that network of nerves connecting to bring about a coherent thought, stored permanentally as magnetic data is on a hard drive even long after its been deleted?

Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it. Let me know how the smoke turns out :-D

Photoshopped a tasteful picture of myself in Germany. Used pencil effect for a nice touch. I'm not artsy, but Adobe helps a lot. Posted by Picasa

Can't get the photo to post as my avatar for this blog. Will be trying again later. For now, you can admire my beautiful visage from here :-).-

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Once again, with feeling.

Its not something I do that often, but its always something I want to do. Often, I'm either dissatisfied with the results or blogging itself falls to the bottom of my priority list. This does two things: 1) it means I post irregularly, which means I post when I force myself and 2) creates crappy dialog in the post itself. So before starting over yet again, let me introduce you to the past three blogs I've done.

Caesar424 - This would be the first journal I created. I was a freshman in high school (maybe a sophomore) and going through some weird times in my life. Academics was my outlet and you'll see this was the geekiest time of my life.

Senior Project 2004 - This is the journal I created as part of my senior project assignment. For the internship, we decided to do something different in this course by using the web instead of paper for journal/progress reports. Mine turned out OK, but appearantly it takes initiative for some people to get online and write. You'll see Scott Gardner mentioned a lot in this journal-he was a great friend and mentor and was killed by a drunk driver July 2005. His memorial site can be seen here - http://www.gardnerfamilycircle.us He was a devoted teacher, and I'll never forget the lessons on life he taught me.

TheCollegeGuy - This was my attempt at making college memories last a lifetime. What you are reading now is my second attempt... I had thoughts of looking back on this in my midlife laughing at myself and everyone I knew. You couldn't tell from the posts... hell, all I did was bitch and moan. No more of that, but check this journal out for some entertainment.

So anyway, there's been a lot of news in my life that you guys my have missed if you actually read (and stopped reading) my last journal. I can hit the highlights but don't feel like posting full entries for 'em yet. Maybe later, maybe not, I'm not forcing a single post this time around.

Brief news:
4/2005 - My grandfather passed away. He was my last true role model and in actuality, probably one of the finest men that ever lived. His example should be studied by all--even temper, generosity when it mattered and frugality when it didn't, endless love for everyone, the ability to change everyone's day. Pretty impressive for a man that left an orphanage at 18 with $5, not knowing where he'd spend the evening. I'd say the biggest testament to a rather normal life and above-average man is the 300-attendee visitation and a funeral nearly a third that size. A man, and a legend in my eyes--a good Mason, a great father. What more can I say?

4/2005 - I started smoking a pipe. He did. He was even-tempered. Maybe it can help me out? Well it worked better than I thought. I'm more even-tempered now than ever before though I still let some things get to me. My biggest improvement is my feeling of maturity. I seem to have regained the mature attitude I lost last year. This hobby has already lead to meeting several new friends, two noted below. Now I should plug the Pipes.org Discussion Board, alt.smokers.pipes, and alt.smokers.cigars for giving me the knowledge I needed to tackle recreational tobacco use in an anti-smoking world. Maybe I'll write more on that later...

7/2005 - I visited Germany. This is where the largest change in my personality occurred. I'm not sure if it was the culture, the pipe tobacco, or the beer, but I came away feeling refreshed and having a newly optimistic outlook on the world. "Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things." Here I met two fellow pipers from pipes.org, Markus Wishchermann and Markus Benicke. I'll post a link to post with more information on that at a later date. In short, they are true gentlemen and scholars and I'm pleased to have had their company in Germany. Just shows to go you (I know) how many exceedingly interesting people there are in the world. Get out of the house!

That's all for now. Enjoy!