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Ever since the 10th grade, maybe even before that, I have fostered this dream to go to Oxford University. I don't know what started it, really. I think I read some book where people went there. Maybe it was by Connie Willis. At any rate, I did some research and decided that, wow, it was a really cool university, especially for someone as obsessed with British history as I am, and I should maybe apply there.

Long story short, they rejected me for my undergraduate studies. In retrospect, I think this was good for me; I'm American, and I think that the British system, which is a lot more rigid and doesn't allow you to really "change majors", would have not worked out very well for me.

At any rate, I'm graduating from American University this semester, and at the end of last semester, I started applying to graduate schools. I realized that I wanted to be an archaeologist at the end of my freshman year, and so when I chose graduate schools to apply to, I decided to apply to some British schools, so I would be near the field that I want to study.

I also decided to apply to the University of Colorado at Boulder, because I was born and raised in Colorado, and I tend to feel homesick the second I leave it. As in, the second the plane lifts off the runway, no matter where I'm going, there's that little twinge -- I look back at the Rockies and I feel it -- so I didn't know if, after having been away nine months a year for four years at college, I would really be able to handle being away for that long again.

One of the British schools that I applied to was, of course, Oxford. I didn't expect to get in when I applied, but I figured, what the hell, might as well try this. I'd finally visited the city of Oxford for the first time a year ago, when I studied abroad in London, and I fell completely in love with it. I think it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. When I applied, I told myself, "if you get into Oxford, then you have to go there, hands down."

When I sent out the applications, I asked them to just send letters to my home address, rather than my school address, to make things easier and prevent address changes at the end of this school year. Tonight, after I made dinner, I went upstairs and saw that I had a phone message from my parents. The only thing that it could be, I knew, was either an emergency or a letter from a school. I called them back.

Turns out, I got accepted to Oxford.

I kind of had to sit down, because I started feeling lightheaded. Then I ran around calling everyone I know. For the past few months I have been plagued by this complete sense of "what am I doing, where am I going?" I couldn't envision where I would be in a year, or even six months, from now. As all of my friends began to figure out their plans for next year, it really began to wear at me, to have this complete uncertainty about my future. I like to have a plan, I like to know what's coming next and be able to prepare myself accordingly. I like to know that things are worked out for me.

Now, I mostly know what, at least, the next two years will be like. I don't know what college will accept me yet, but I'm guaranteed a place at one of them. Hopefully I get one of the two that I chose (Hertford College or Keble College), but I honestly would be happy with anything, so long as they offer scholarships and provide me with some housing. I'm going to have to take out some serious loans to pay for this, because Oxford is definitely the most expensive of all the schools I applied to, but I have been lucky thus far in my college career to always have scholarships paying for everything, so I don't have any debt right now.

This doesn't quite feel real to me right now. I don't know if it will until I get accepted to a college, or until I choose housing, or buy my plane tickets, or until I'm there.

I suppose it's time to update those of you who rarely follow me. What is going on in the life if scuzzy?

On 11/7/05 I finished the EJ22T engine swap into my 1991 Subaru Legacy Wagon. EJ is the series, 22 is 2.2 Liters, T is turbocharged. The engine is a closed deck variant of the standard 2.2L engine, the strongest engine Subaru has built, ever. You'll only find it in the famed Subaru Impreza 22b STi circa 1998 (400 were built) 22B is the hexadecimal representation of 555, a large Subaru WRC sponsor.

Other than the 22b, you'll find the engine in the (somewhat rare) 1991-1994 Subaru Legacy SS and Touring Wagon of which conflicting production numbers are available (somewhere around 5,000 to 12,000 total). It's extremely strong, reliable, can take a hell of a beating. For example, the 22b came from the factory with 350bhp. The engine has been proven at 30psi and beyond, approaching the realm of Nissan Skyline modification.

I'm looking forward to the next few months of modification, to say the least. In the future I see an entirely new suspension using mostly Whiteline components, a full custom exhaust, and an after market standalone ECU. That brings me all to the next point in my life
Some lonely, hate-filled disgust of my position as 'CIA' in the Geek Squad by Best Buy, I applied to a bunch of positions on Careerbuilder. I heard nothing back from most of them, one day two weeks later, I got an email back though, and then a call. It was in Nashville, Tennessee. 120 miles to my east, where I'd been wanting to move.

It was three weeks of driving back and forth to Nashville, attending interviews with the same company, getting paperwork cleared up, and other normal stuff. One afternoon I was asleep in bed, sick. I received a phone call with an offer for a job, all that hard work paid off. I start the 27th, making twice what I'm making now. The position is Desktop Support Technician. The actual work is going to be most of what my current IT Director is performing, so it's going to be an all around network-desktop support. It's right up my alley, exactly what I'm looking for.
I'm excited to get started. Today is my last day in Jackson. I'm packing everything I own into the back of my spacious Legacy Wagon (almost everything) and moving to Nashville. I established an apartment one week after I got the offer, turned on my electric service yesterday, cable is coming out the evening of the 27th, and all that's left is a cell phone via Cingular.

It's the first day of the rest of my life. Boy I'm looking forward to it.

The Chinese Restaurant Syndrome debacle continues.  I sent Carol H, who'd suggested that my writeup be nuked because it "mis-represented" her website, an email:

Dear Carol:

I am the writer of the node "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" on Everything2.com. I invite you to reply to this email with a few paragraphs (including sources) that you'd like me to add to that piece of writing, so as to more fairly represent your point of view.

I posted the following underneath your Node Deletion Request:

Re: Nuke request for Chinese Restaurant Syndrome hereinabove.

I sincerely apologize to Carol H for not having perused her site more thoroughly.

I deeply regret, however, that she glossed over my homenode in a similar fashion. Four years of my thirty-five year business career were spent working at Ford, in commercial fleet operations. I am not, and never have been a "car salesman." I resent being called one, in fact. I only included my experience at Ford (as well as IBM) to illustrate that I began my career in the corporate world and then veered off to less conventional employment.

I am an owner of Asian themed restaurants. That's how I make my living. I have fourteen years of experience in this specific business at this point, and my unscientific observation is that Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is more often caused by bad food served by unscrupulous or uneducated proprietors rather than by MSG. Either way, Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is giving my industry a bad name.

I did not and will never advocate giving MSG to any person who in any way believes they have, or is diagnosed with, a sensitivity to that substance.

I am not a food scientist. I do, however, have current certification in Food Safety from the states of New York and Connecticut (although Connecticut's course is a one-day joke; New York's is a week of seminars and tests).

Finally, let's talk about freedom of speech and censorship. Carol H would have anything that presents a point of view about MSG other than hers removed from E2. Now, I've read plenty of stuff on E2 that I disagree with. If I want to discuss, I /msg the writer, with my email, and we agree to disagree. I invite Carol H to learn how to node and then write one that expresses her point of view.

Let's reverse positions for a moment. If Carol H could simply sign-up and blast my node to node heaven or worse, why then can I not contact her web-hosting company and tell them to remove her site from the internet, because I happen to disagree with some of its content? Why then, can I not contact her ISP and tell them that she's disseminating information that could potentially impact the way I make money.
The manufacture of MSG and other amino acid products is the business of Ajinomoto, the company from which I source the MSG for my restaurants (through wholesalers). Ajinomoto makes its money selling MSG and one who would act in such a way as to disseminate anti-MSG hysteria could potentially be liable for damages in a U.S. Civil Court. My attorney at O'Melveney and Myers told me that this morning when I called to chat about something else, and mentioned this issue.

My email address is located in my homenode. I invite Carol H to email me with additional data she'd like me to put in Chinese Restaurant Syndrome and I'll gladly put it there.
Sincerely,

Paul Lewis

Carol responded:

Now that I have your attention, Paul, I would like to discuss the issue with you.

You don't need to delete the node, just don't state that my only foundation for my website are two studies. I would like you to link to the Related Research page on my website to see the scientific data on my side of the argument. I have PAGES of studies listed on my website.

If it makes you feel any better, I grew up on Chinese food and usually go out to eat at Asian restaurants. I have an entire page devoted to why I don't call an MSG reaction "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" because it is NOT fair to Chinese restaurant owners. I have Chinese restaurant owners email me to ask for advice on how to cater to MSG sensitive patrons. I have a section devoted to how to eat in an Asian restaurant safely. My website has been translated into Japanese and even websites in China and Korea link to my site for advice on how to avoid MSG in restaurants.

I don't advocate avoiding Asian restaurants, just the opposite. I want people to go out to eat but they will not if they are terrified of getting sick. I spend most of my time trying to convince Americans hooked on Doritos, KFC and Diet Coke that THAT is the stuff to avoid if you want to eat MSG-free.

This is not about censorship, it is about being honest. My point is this -if you are going to mention my website in your article - please be honest about it. It appeared that you only looked at ONE PAGE in the entire site. That is hardly fair, especially since I do my best to be fair to Chinese Restaurant owners like yourself who actually thank me for my advice.

Sincerely,

Carol Hoernlein

P.S. Sorry about the car salesman dig.

Some noders have wondered how Carol H found out about the writeup so soon after it was published.  I inquired of Carol about this in a later email.  Her response:

I tend to work on the computer all day and am constantly searching the web for information about MSG, glutamate, neurodegenerative diseases and whatnot. I occasionally do a google search of MSGtruth to see who else is linking to my site. Lately it is mostly other countries and doctors concerned about autism and ADHD. I was shocked this week to see a link to your article on the first page out of 20 pages in the Google search. I was worried someone might see your link and not even visit my site because they would be turned off even though it is listed under Best of the Web this month. I am also very conscious of PR done by the Glutamate Association since I had just done an hour radio show about MSG last week. That is why I was looking. I am new to this whole Node thing. I didn't mean to advocate taking down your whole node, or even the whole article, but I just wanted to correct the perception of not having any backup for my position. I have actually spent the last 14 years putting that backup together.

I agreed that if Carol H sends me an abstract that illustrates the most important points she's making with her website, I'd gladly node it for her and add it below my writeup.

My blood is a time capsule

When I was a little kid and my parents where out of the house, I used to look through their drawers. I was searching for them in the trinkets they kept. I was facinated with the idea of my parents as people. I would make up stories about their alternate lives based on what I found. Nunchucks, a remnant of the karate class in which she met my father, made my mom a super secret ninja hero. Newspaper clippings of people lost in the woods, Navy SEALs on the beach, such-and-such has recieved a metal, so and so has died turned my father into a hitman on the run. The fact that we moved so often helped. As I got older these stories turned into jokes I told my friends. Sarcastic explainations for personality flaws inherited from my parental units.

I am currently home from college for spring break. Today I was looking through our old photo albums my mom has manically and painstakingly arranged, each album containing a year of our lives, all labeled 1986-1988, 1989, 1990, 1991…behind the albums in the cabinet where they are kept I noticed a few boxes that I had never seen before.

The first, a blue tin. At one point it held a 21 piece rachet socket set, now it is covered with a large “GO NAVY” sticker. Inside are a million little peices of my father. It all smells like engine grease and old paper, a smell I strongly associate with my dad. A passport expired in 1989. A faded photo of my father as a child in 1974. An invitation to the Naval Amphibious School, Coronodo, graduation ceremony for the 119th class of the Basic Underwater Demolition Seal Training sent to my grandparents. Pink carbon copies of the papers on which my dad signed his life away on, his entry papers, contracts with the US Navy. A photo of Chandi, the rottweiler that was hit by a car before I was born, my dads favorite pet. An evaluation sheet that states he is excellent with punches, kicks, technique and and power but he needs to “increase his enthusiasm”. Add to this two dozen patches from all different branches of the navy, and police patches from 4 different states.

Next to the blue tin there is a plastic ziplock bag, holding photos, letters, envolopes and what look like varsity letters. More paches for Underwater Demolition Team 21, which hasn’t existed since 1985 when it became SEAL Team 5. Photos of my mother, god she must be 18 or 19, smiling, sitting on grass in a backyard in a bathing suit. Polaroids of my dad in midair at what must be a kickboxing tournament. Pictures of my grandfather as a little boy standing in the snow with various dead animals are nearly indistinquishable from hunting photos that where taken of my dad’s first kills. In fact, my dad and my grandfather look so much alike in the photos of them as young men I used to get them confused. Black and white photos of my great grandparents and relatives of mine who where dead long before I was born. A picture of a graveyard where every stone has my last name on it.

A photo of my dad as a young man sitting shirtless at a desk smiling. On the back of this photo it says “Pusan, South Korea, October 1989”. I was three, my brother was a month old. My father walks out of his office and watches me look at these things over my shoulder. When I get to this photo he smiles and takes it from me, pointing to the items sitting on the desk.

“I was coloring you a picture.” he says. I can just barely make out in the photograph a Jetsons coloring book sitting on the desk next the letter he is writing my mother.

It is strange, but as with most things, as I get older I understand my parents both more and less. I am 19. When my dad was 19 he was in BUDS, my mom was at Johnson State College. A year later she gave birth to me. They were children. It makes me want to congradulate them on not completely messing me up, and at the same time it kind of makes me want to grab my mother and shake her screaming “What, where you crazy?!”.

I pack everything back into the cuboard and sit down for dinner with my family.

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