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Learn from my mistakes:

  • Do not "Just go at it."
  • Do not "Only read the first paragraph of instructions."

  • Do not "Eat one dozen doughnuts in an hour."

Just go at it:
I bought a brand new mountain bike, unfortunately it wasn’t assembled yet. I decided that I would just go at it, without reading the manual on how to assemble the bike. After the first hour I was pretty amazed at how stupid I was for not using the manual, but I’m a guy and guys don't need directions. At this point I had the choice to choose between continuing on without using the manual, or stopping now to read it, catch up, and then continue assembling while reading the directions. I with not a second thought chose to continue on, heck I’ve started this far, why not just continue? This was a sore mistake. After two and half hours I finished putting together the entire bike, it even looked like a bike. I had to test it now, and got on the bike. So good so far, until I started riding down the street, a bolt snapped out of place, and the back tire fell out and I royally crashed. I picked up the pieces, went back to my garage, read the entire manual, fixed the errors I had made, and rode my bike from then on with no problems.

Only read the first paragraph of instructions:
I’m the Chess Club President at my school, and we were short on funds this year. I asked the Booster Club for a sum of $250 to buy new chess boards and clocks. They accepted my proposal and the shipment arrived a month later. The clocks were not fully operational yet, and they came with instructions. I decided that my “Just go at it” philosophy was not going to work this time and I invented the reading of the first paragraph of instructions, and go from there. The first paragraph said to hit the reset button and hold it down for five seconds and then went on about how the buttons on the bottom were used. I hit the reset button, turned the clock on, hit some other buttons, and the clock turned on in a ready mode to be changed. These clocks were built for chess games, where each side of the clock has a button to hit. Thus when one side of the clock is hit the other side begins ticking away at time. The time was yet to have a standard setting. I tried to fumble about with it, and the clock would set the time, but would not make it standard. Being standard it would keep the time stored in memory even after turned off and back on. I gave up after fiddling for minutes. Then I fixed my philosophy and went back and read the rest of the instructions, which definitely helped, and changed the standard time setting.

Eat one dozen doughnuts in an hour:
I was in the car on the ride home from my basketball game, I was hungry, tired, and plain not thinking. When we pulled up to the doughnut shop drive-through and my friend’s mother asks “who wants doughnuts?” I replied “I do.” What I didn’t realize is that my friend’s mom was a really nice women. She bought me a full dozen doughnuts, and wouldn’t let me pay a penny for them. After accepting the golden sugar coated doughnuts I thanked her and plowed right on in. Three doughnuts down in five minutes. They sure were good, but I was still hungry, so I ate more. Five more doughnuts were quickly eaten within the next fifteen minutes. Still in the car, and another half an hour to get to home, I was frankly bored. I then began the nibbling phase. I’ve sure eaten a lot of doughnuts, but they taste good, so I’ll only nibble on them. Soon enough I had another three nibbled down. Heck! There’s only one left now, might as well eat it! So I did. Within a few hours I became very sick and almost puked. My stomach was telling my brain how stupid I was, and I felt like a fat toad who couldn’t move. It took an entire day, when the doughnuts were no longer in my system, before I felt better. Ever since that day I have never eaten more than one doughnut at a time. I will never eat a dozen doughnuts in an hour again, ever.

These mistakes have been turmoil for me, do not let them happen to you.

I have been laughing big, open-mouthed laughs all day. These laughs come when I am surprised by how funny something is. I love surprise humor. It is the best. There is nothing like it.

I was watching the terribly old-looking Marie Osmond on the Today Show this morning when Scoresby told me he was about to take the dog for his morning walk. "Now don't look at your Christmas presents. I haven't wrapped them yet. Don't peek!" he said. I told him of course I would not peek. I want to be surprised. I would in no way peek. I asked him why he suddenly thought I was going to peek when the box of presents from Amazon.com had been sitting in the living room for over a day now. He said, "Because you are a pretty girl and pretty girls never wait for anything." This made me laugh. Big, wide-mouthed laughter. Then he looked at old Marie Osmond and said, "She's married to Donny, right?" More laughter.... No! They are brother and sister.

My mother-in-law was IMing me this evening about how at her school, one of the dads dressed up as Santa and came to see the kids today. The first little boy to sit on his lap was a four year old named Timothy. Here is what little Tim said to Santa, "I don't need any more toys. But what I do need is a vacuum cleaner. I need a vacuum cleaner to pick up all the crumbs." I pictured little Tim surrounded by crumbs. Heaps and heaps of crumbs. The crumbs worry him. Once again, this made me laugh.

Sometimes, I wonder why people drink and I guess if drinking were like laughing I'd drink like a fish. It is my favorite feeling. My shiny lovely place.

Ah, I remember it well. It was July, the magical summer after my senior year. It was my friend's birthday, and we celebrated it in true eighteen year old recent high school graduate fashion:

WE WENT TO SIX FLAGS!

Now, I live in beautiful Monroe, New Jersey, an huge township of open spaces and old people. It is also about twenty minutes away from Six Flags Great Adventure. I've been to Six Flags approximately four hundred thousand times. Why would this particular trip be so fondly remembered. I'll tell you why. It was in which I was handed a maginificently powerful key which opened countless doors to me: the door to smoking section in the diner we frequented; the door to the freezing cold terrace outside my dorm; the back door of the Target I worked at, by all the loading docks. What sort of key was this you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

This key was a Newport.

Don't get me wrong, at first I hated it. I hacked and coughed and made vile noises. And this was about a month before I even started inhaling. Nevertheless, I finished it, and bummed a few more over the course of the summer, mainly when I was bored or nervous. I was always such a clean cut kid all through grammar school and high school. A friend of mine saw me one day with a cig hanging out of my mouth and jokingly told me he no longer believed in heroes. But I didn't consider myself a smoker by any means. I just held the cigarette for the hell of it out of boredom.

Then I went away to college.

One of the rules here at Rutgers University is that there is no smoking in any university buildings. Now, I could live with that, but this also applies to the residence halls. So, it could be five below outside and you still would have to go outside for a cigarette. Or you can smoke in the dorms and risk getting caught and serve eight hours of community service.

Now, this didn't affect me, as by no means did I consider myself a smoker. But then it happened. On like my third day at school, I noticed her. One of the most gorgeous creatures to walk God's green earth. Her hair was a beautiful curly brown, which went perfectly with her big, dark eyes. She was a bit shorter than me, which, in my book, is a definite plus, as I am but five foot nine. I walked past her room and heard her singing along to a Nirvana song. I think it was Heart-Shaped Box. The feeling in my chest at that point meant two things: first, I was in urgent need of medical assitance, as I had a six inch butterfly knife sticking out of it. Second, I was falling for her.

So now I knew I liked her, and needed to spend some time with her. But how? I mean, I love Nirvana, but I can't expect her to listen to it constantly. But then one day, I saw my opening. I was walking back from class, and saw her standing, alone, outside the building, a Parliament Menthol Light 100 cradled between her middle and index fingers. At this point, my brain knew what I had to do: I had to run to the convenience store and pick up a pack of cigarettes. Having never REALLY smoked before, and, on the couple occassions I had, not inhaled, I wasn't sure what to buy. I really wish I had said anything other than, "Pack of Marlboros". I walked outside and ran into a girl I was friendly with, a Camel Light pursed between her lips.

"Hey, I didn't know you smoked," she said. I told her I was just beginning, and took a hesitant puff on my new best friend, Mr. Marlboro. Upon seeing my technique, she whispers to me, "You might want to try inhaling the cigarette". So I did. And, so help me, it was the most rancid sensation my poor throat had ever experienced. I steeled myself for another drag, and, thankfully, it wasn't as bad. Then I got light headed, and would be so for my next, oh, say, ten or so cigarettes. By now, my poor throat and lungs we're screaming at me to show them some mercy. Poor guys. They had always been nice to me. But I was taking orders from another organ at this point, and my penis wasn't taking no for an answer.

Now, I bought this pack on a Friday, and the girl went home for the weekend. I gave the Marlboro Reds to a friend in exchange for four bucks, and picked up some Marlboro Lights which went down much easier. Now, I was very generous with my cancer sticks, and by the time she got back Monday afternoon, they were gone. I continued with the Marlboro Lights for another couple packs, until I read the node on them and their questionable filters. I then switched to Parliament Menthol Lights, mainly because I wanted to smoke what she smoked. I already knew enough to know that a self-respecting male of the species doesn't smoke 100s. Except for my roommate. He's from Macedonia, and may be certifably insane. But I digress.

So fast forward a couple of days. I see her go outside, and I quickly grab my stogs and follow. So we head outside, and we talk. And talk. And talk. And then we quickly became good friends. And now I have no desire to enter into a sexual relationship with her, as I like just being friends. She even gives me relationship advice, and I am eager to hear it, as it is always rather insightful.

And now I like a rather staunch anti-smoking advocate.

Fuck.

I am SO HAPPY!

Grades were published today to the registrar. I outperformed my projections in EVERY SINGLE CLASS I took this semester. I had taken 21 credits of (mostly) engineering classes this past term, and to be completely honest, I had thought I was going to be getting a large portion of pretty crappy grades (C-, C, C+). Well, to hell with my pessimism! Sometimes, I really just need to sit down, and calm my troubled mind.

Without further ado, my grades:

LINEAR CIRCUITS AND SYSTEMS 1: B-
DIGITAL LOGIC: B
DATA STUCTURES: C+
DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR: S
ECON. OF TECH. CHANGE: A-
ENGINEERING ECON. ANALYSIS: A
DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS: B
INTRO. TO PSYCHOLOGY: A-
None of you have any idea how silly I am with joy right now. I logged on to the University of Pittsburgh website for student accounts only seconds after I woke, and all was shown to me in fantastic beauty. I fell to the floor as if God himself were pushing me down, demanding his worship for having delivered for me; as if the tides of all the ages were pressing down on my mortal carapace; like ten-thousand orcs in think armor were pressing on my forehead, forcing me down to the earth below. I was immobilized with joy.

And then, I sprung to the sky like a lark on a mission - I ran (perhaps fell) the two flights of stairs down to the living room, shouting in exhaltation, calling for whomever might be around - but, alas! - no one was around! I had to tell someone! I had to hug someone and dance feverishly with the passion and intensity of a giddy schoolboy. What to do? I called Jennifer. I shouted my glee over the thin copper, to hear delicate ear - and it felt so good to tell someone how happy I was! She was cooking ground beef - and I was happy! I was in tears, and she could sense it! My joy was pouring out of me from every pore in my body, and it made me tremble, fall prostrate, and be giddy like I have not been in months!

This is one of the best Christmas presents I can ever remember receiving. Thank you, God, Mom, others, and all the greater and lesser forces of the Universe. Merry Christmas!

Watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” this year has brought me to the sad conclusion that although I loved it as a kid -- and still love the wonderful soundtrack -- the special just isn’t quite how I remember it.

So Charlie Brown is upset about the commercialization of Christmas? That I get -- and it’s worse now than in the 1960’s when the show was made. But all the stuff with the Christmas play is confusing. They’re apparently rehearsing a play of the nativity, yet whenever they practice they start dancing around to Shroeder’s playing. There’s no story, no play, no nothing.

It’s also unclear just why Lucy chose Charlie Brown to direct. Lucy hates Charlie Brown! This is the girl that always tricks him into kicking the football, and who always pulls it away at the last minute. (It’s also always bothered me that he goes to her for psychiatric advice when she’s constantly playing mind games with him -- huhm, I think I’m detecting some co-dependency issues ...) Yet somehow, she decides to have this guy who she thinks is a big dork, a “blockhead” as she calls him, direct.

I’m also especially unclear on why everyone hates him. He doesn’t seem like that bad of a kid -- yet, he’s constantly being shit on by everyone around him. His dog even mocks him!

The story is paced like a series of comic strips -- with a joke building up to a punch line. So everything just feels fragmented and incoherent. Perhaps this is for the benefit kids with short attention spans, but I found it jarring.

Linus’s speech about the meaning of Christmas still stands out as a high point, because it’s so well done. Even though I consider myself an atheist, I still found it moving. Especially the part at the end when he says: “Peace on earth, good will towards men.” And like I said, the music is superb -- especially “Christmas Time is Here.” Listening to it still takes me back to my childhood, when this show got me excited about Christmas (somehow, I never got that it was pushing the religious aspect of the holiday -- something I never quite understood as a child).

But overall, I don’t like it anymore, and that makes me sad. It was a big part of my childhood and the Christmas holiday -- part of me wishes I didn’t watch it this year. That way, I would still think of it fondly.

As an aside, TV Funhouse on Saturday Night Live did a great parody of it this week. The kids discover their power to miraculously change anything (through turning Charlie Brown’s sad little tree into a “real” Christmas Tree), and then go around town creating lesbians and the like. Tasteless, I know, but it made me laugh.

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