I finally finished my college admissions essay for Columbia University in New York City. (the college, not the engineering school) I have to have it delivered by November 1, the Early Decision deadline. Very nail-biting time. Of course if I don't get in I'll apply to Union, but I want more of the city.

Here, in unchanged form is my essay. If you think it needs a touchup somewhere, I'd be very grateful for a /msg. (and how about more than a dumb softlink to something serious)

Write an essay that gives the reader a sense of who you are. Preferably one page.

I want to excel at something and be someone people can always consult and count on. I’m sure I feel this way because of the boundless possibilities of youth, but I’m determined not to let my ambition fade. If there’s one person I don’t want to be it is Holden Caulfield.

Let me take you on a tour of my dream job. In downtown Manhattan, in Soho, there is a glass storefront with white walls and wooden floors on the inside. The sign is a large, illuminated apple with a bite taken out of it. Looking into the store from the sidewalk you can see a large, stylish, silver, curved PC in the window, under a banner with the word “Create.” Behind that you see shelves filled with assorted cameras, stereos, printers, monitors, and software boxes. On the left you see some people trying a new camcorder next to a silver PC with two screens; on the right you see somebody standing next to a translucent red computer screen, wearing oversized headphones. If you walk in, you’ll probably be greeted by somebody wearing a black turtleneck shirt and dark khakis, the standard employee attire. I imagine it must be an easy job, similar to that of a maitre d’ in that they are helping those who walk in and answering questions with a kind and friendly smile.

As you make your way to the back of the store, you pass the children’s section. There’s another employee talking to both the parent and the child about the new “Rugrats” game. All too frequently a salesman addresses the parents only, as they are the ones making the purchase. No, if I had this job I’d be courteously showing both the parent and child how to run the new program, encouraging them to try it out in the store before they bought it.

Deeper into the store, another employee shows a couple how to use a digital camera, step by step. There are other people quietly standing by, eyeing the prices, but this person is devoting his time (and commission) to demonstrating how to turn on the camera, take a snapshot, and print the resulting image. I have respect for people who have a gift for teaching like that.

On the back wall of the store, on the right side, is a small bar. There are three or four “patrons” seated, and the man working there politely answers any questions they have about the use of a computer, no matter how trivial. Above his head are the words “Genius Bar.” Here is where you wanted to be as you gazed from the storefront. You realize that this man must be some sort of computer “Answer Man.” You sit down and the man behind the counter smiles, and offers you bottled water. “It’s free,” he says beaming. After answering your third question about the steps to watching a DVD and recording movies, he gives you a clear, concise answer without the slightest hint of impatience, even offering to demonstrate it on the laptop in your satchel. I wish we had more trustworthy people like that, who would answer any question without trying to steer the consumer towards any new merchandise. Even though one of your questions reveals you to be a novice, he treats you with respect, courtesy and, most of all, patience.

You’re probably wondering which job I consider to be ideal. The answer is all of them. I would really love to work in a place like this, alternating between the various departments, trying to make each person’s day a little easier as I cheerfully assist someone. In fact, it’s not the job I want, it is the opportunity to include friendliness, kindness, helpfulness, and trustworthiness into my work. It’s that special combination of qualities that I intend to keep as an essential part of my persona, whether I become a film editor, researcher, or doctor.

Today I was on the Hankyuu train this morning, on my way to school as usual. There are many advertisements on the train- both on the walls and hanging from the ceiling in the center of the car. Today in the center of the car, there was an advertisement for imported English fleece jackets. The model in the advertisement was Stephen Hawking. I saw it and I thought "wow, that is cool"

I'm in that weird mood that I get, where nothing seems appealing to me. I can't seem to enjoy anything, I know I'd rather be somewhere else right now, but I'm not sure where. I just feel like sleeping, or something.

This mood unfortunately started last night, so seeing Anna wasn't as pleasurable as it could have been. I mean, it was amazing, we got to get naked and hold each other and watch some good TV and connect, but I was distracted, I think. I'm not sure what was distracting me, but I wasn't quite there. Which just sucks.

*tells himself to stop biting his nails*

I'll be seeing her again tonight, meeting her at her work, so hopefully I'll feel better by then. Not sure what we're going to be doing at her place tonight. Being with her is enough though.

I am way too big. It's frustrating. We'd both enjoy it more if I was smaller, I think.

I really don't want to have to figure out how to do this piece of work, I haven't done anything yet and it's nearly lunch time. I think I'll take a long lunch, nobody will notice, and I don't have that much work to do anyway. Nothing urgent, at least. I wonder why these people think I can actually code. I don't think I can.

Thank god it's Friday. Although there's nothing particularly good happening this weekend. We should have band practise tomorrow or Sunday, but we're not going to the studio, and I doubt our drummer will make it. We can manage to practise without him, but it's not as fun, I can't get into it as much. And Michael and Rob will just want to play Tool. I'd almost rather sit at home and sing to myself, to music I actually like.

Bah. I'm just grumpy. I've written enough.
Another typical day for me, almost...

School was, well, school as usual. Math was rather fun; today I finally decided to learn maximization with calculus (as opposed to Algebra, like last year). The next five hours blew on past, and at Mock Trial, at the end of the day, I had some important information to bring up about the ammonia content in quick dry cement (fascinating stuff, I'm sure). Then, here's when my day became atypical: As I was walking to the street where I parked my car, a Ford truck of some sort was driving behind me. It slowed down to a crawl, and I saw the window go down, and someone yelled at me: "Hey, I'm a fucking faggot ass!" The driver of the truck then sped up and drove off. "Hah," I think to myself -- that's pretty funny! Usually I would expect people to insult someone ELSE as they drive by, but this individual decided it would be funny to insult himself. I thought it was funny, also.

I got home, homework as usual...Latin was atypically boring -- today's translation for the Aeneid was a boring descriptive scene of Mercury's coming to Carthage, and Venus' coming to pious Aeneas in the forest. Wow. You should read the Aeneid sometime -- it's a rather interesting propoganda peice for the Romans. Why? Read it, and find out!

I slightly revised some of my nodes today (Supremacy Clause, and the wonderfully not-quite-complete Participle); I squished out some grammatical errors (of which I, of course, had few) and some word choices. I contemplated adding a writeup to the Necessary and Proper Clause to assuage my growing annoyance I have every time I see its evil nodeshell, but I decided against it, as I've had enough with History today. Andrew Jackson was really an awful man, with his "Let's appeal to the commonfolk" ideas. *Shudder* Ever wonder why America fell into depression in 1837? The wonderful Mr. Jackson decided to kill the Bank of the United States by depositing its money in state and local banks. What a fool! He doesn't deserve to be on the US $20 bill. Anyway, I've digressed. I believe I'm going to harass my Mock Trial teacher.

Another daylog in my life of a substitute teacher, man I'm pathetic. So I get there and the plan is to work in the library, which is a nightmare. In other words, time for students to sit around and talk and once again waste an entire hour. Not only will they not doing anything, but once the regular teacher gets back from being gone from a death and the assingment is due, they will whine and complain like nothing about how they never get anytime to work on anything. That's all a day at the library really means. A day where you have to babysit students and force them to work.

I mean who would have thought you were supposed to work when it was time to work. Man I can't believe the lack of work ethic in students these days.

I am going to spend my night removing my foot from the following people's asses;

So, I get a copy of WinXP from an IRC aquaintance a few days ago. He had been using it for more than two weeks, with no complications. I decided to give it the old college try, so I burned my backups, and went boldly where few had ever gone before; WinXP land.

Do not use WinXP for a few weeks, minimum.

So I am cruising right along, install goes smoothly, and bam! I have WinXP desktop on my screen.

This is where my problems begin.

My internet connection is DSL provided by Earthlink. The two computers in my house are connected thought a router; my dad's with ethernet, and mine goes back to the phone line, up to my room, and to a "phone line to USB connector". It worked wonderfully under WinME, and I hoped the same for XP. Sadly, this was not the case. By installing the driver for the Phone to USB bastard, I had begun my slow demise into the land of tedium. I tried to open a webpage via Microsoft Explorer, and the compuer reboots itself, no warning, just a sudden powerdown. There is no end in sight. The only network related thing that will run is a ping -t www.webpage.com command. besides that, I get to listen to brian eno's new windows startup masterpiece as many times as I could possibly want to.

So after a few tinkerings around of my setup by a few friends of mine as well as yours truly, and I start calling tech-help lines. Dell; no new drivers. Microsoft; no new drivers. 2wire (producer of the USB dongle); no new drivers. earthlink; no freaking clue.

I have an unusable desktop, and a very real temptation to slip into a percussive maintanance binge. All the people I have talked to about it that should know what to do haven't heard anything about WinXP yet, and it just makes it very clear to me that what companies should be responsible for, and what they can take care of are two completely different things.

/me sighs, installs Windows 98

Tomorrow I have the second exam of my University "career". Although they call everything an exam. So it's really my 3rd.

Anyhow I'm feeling pretty confident. I like multiple choice. And I know my stuff. I'm aiming for 85%.

Being female can be a pretty crappy thing. It's wonderful, and I wouldn't change it for anything, but the role that our society expects me to fulfill is pure insanity.

Let's review all the things females are supposed to be:

  • successful career woman
  • loving girlfriend/wife
  • supportive daughter/sister
  • housekeeper
  • cook
  • as attractive as can be, 24/7 for a life time
  • good mother
  • organizer of family activities
  • I don't know about all you women (and men for that matter) think about this, but I think it's crap. I can already see myself in a couple of these roles (although I'm only 19) and probably will fill most of them at some point.

    But I don't want to. So why do I?

    How many fathers/husbands out there say "Honey, Billy's pyjamas are getting a bit too small, I'm just going to pop over to Wal-Mart and get him some new ones. Oh and I was thinking I might buy you some new boots too, when is your camping trip with the girls again"? Sure a few, but for the most part few men do anything like this. And why is it that men are the ones that go away on vacations with the guys (fishing, sport tournaments, etc) and women just stay home watching the kids?

    Sure this was more acceptable in the times of the man working and the woman staying home caring for the children, but now I'm supposed to do both? How's that fair?

    I HATE watching television commercials. They're terrible. One I recently saw for Pilsbury had a mother preparing 3 different meals for her family because they all come home at a different time. And she didn't join in any of them. And the voice-over was her, in a joking tone saying something to the effect of "Gosh darn, they're not all home at the same time but now I cook as many rolls as I need. 2 or 10." So her family doesn't even let her know what time they'll be home. She just cooks a meal for them when they show up. Her life is on hold waiting for them.

    Women get the lesser recognized and appreciated household tasks and it sucks. We're the ones that worry about Billy's pyjamas, and if theres enough bread to make sandwiches for the kids lunches, and whether they washed behind their ears. (In general of course.)

    I don't want to be like this. I deserve an equal role. My future husband is going to have ask me what I'd like at the grocery store next time he goes. Because I refuse to do it. I will not play a lesser role based on my sex. I want to be a mother someday, but I never want to be a servant.

    I refuse to accept the role society would like to cram me into. And I refuse to buy the products of the companies who's commercials endorse these roles. How long I will actually stick to this boycott, I don't know. All I know is that right now it pisses me off, and I will not become what I know would cause me to resent having a family.

    End of rant.

    /sigh That felt good. I needed that.

    In other news, Deimios is away and I miss him.

    It's been a beautiful day.

    I slept in until about 1 p.m., at which time I got up and had my usual high protein breakfast. From there it was off to three and a half hours of band practice in the chilly temperatures and freezing winds. The weather did indeed suck, but there is not a rehearsal where I do not have fun.

    Today I also came to the conclusion that I love music.

    I've always had fun making music, and been entranced while listening to beautiful music (i.e. Radiohead), but now I think that I was born to do it. I have quite a few other theories about being born to a role in society, but that's for another node, another day.

    From practice I went to Perkins with my best friend, which led to a series of adventures in marijuana and beautiful music. For the record, no, I don't indulge in plant-burning of any kind.

    A day with a mild start and a great finish is a beautiful day in my book.

    Want to hear some beautiful music? Try these juicy Radiohead titles.


    I get up at 6:30 AM, though I have an hour and a half left before I actually WAKE up. I undergo the daily morning routine of freshen up, wet and gel hair into spikes, brush my teeth, put on deoderant, put on "nice" clothes (though not necessarily in that order)and barely catch my bus to go to school. I'd hate to be a girl, espcecially during formal occasions. Spend four hours getting ready, wear a dress that cost a few hundred dollars, spend an hour just getting your hair perfect, all to have your date hit on some other chick. Makes me feel sorry for girls.

    For the past week, my bus driver has been a no-show. Usually we have a substitute driver, who gets to the bus stop 20 minutes late and gets to school ten minutes late. Today, we double up on middle school bus. 'Tis very crowded. I sit across from the girl I sit next to in English, Cheryl Landry. I, being bored and about to freeze a finger off, consent to do a Rubik's Cube while timing myself (note: do NOT use a Rubik's Cube in the cold unless the cube is VERY smooth.) The best time I achieve today is 2:02; my best time is 1:12, achieved 10/25/01.

    First period art has a substitute teacher, and amazingly enough, I manage to finish my scratch art project. Scratch art is where you have a scratch tool, a combination of an arrowhead and a razor blade, except the edge isn't sharp enough to slice skin. The edge is scraped on scratch art paper, which is white paper with a sheet of black plastic, about a quarter of a millimeter thick, melted on. The black is scraped off, revealing white. The idea is that it's opposite of conventional drawing, where you have white paper and add black, here you have black and "add" white.

    | |
    | | Is a rough approximation of the tool's shape.
    | |
    | |

    As the period winds up, I think about my liberator for the day: the Michael C. Ferguson Scholarship Award Ceremony. I, so the State Board of Education says, am an exceptionally gifted student. I placed well, they say, on the Delaware State Testing Program (DSTP, known affectionately enough as the Dipwad's Sex Test - no Prudes). Interestingly enough, I was one of the top 120 students or so in Delaware in the Writing category. Shocking, isn't it? The net result of all of this is that I have a thousand dollars waiting in my bank account, to be used within five years of my high school graduation, regardless of if I'm still a Delaware resident.

    I trudge up the stairs and wriggle my way through the seething crowd to my locker. I finally get there, and put my stuff in the locker, barely managing to squeeze everything in. It's now 8:43. I shut the locker, and head down to the lobby, free of the 13 pound monstrosity known as a bookbag. Role is called, and after a few minutes of milling around, people get on bus. 'Tis now about 9:00 AM.

    I head to the back of the bus with a three of my friends: Matt, Joey, and Rob. Rob has a laser pointer, which we put to good use, seeing how much the filty windows distort the beam over a distance, and how much the beam is naturally dispersed because it's crappy: only $3, so claims Robert. The seats are incredibly comfy; quite rare on a school bus. About four inches of soft foam padding, as opposed to one inch of rock-hard "foam" padding. The sun warms my body and my seat, whiel Joey talks about the Digimon game he made for his brother. It took him about six hours, one of which was spent looking for sound files. It is two-dimensional, reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers for Game Boy Color. Becoming drowsier by the second, Matt and I fall asleep, bored by Joey's ramblings.

    I wake up in Dover, at the foot of the Legislative building. The last time I was here was in 8th grade, on a field trip. Not much has changed, except for the crowd of about 850 people, 450 students and 400 parents. I scramble off the bus, and a minute later, the last Brandywine call is announced. Whew. Just made it. Our bus group scurries up the steps of Delaware's Capitol building. We are also, luckily, in the very front rows, perfect for picture-taking. A WHYY T.V. cameraman films us for a half hour or so, while random camera flashes go off in the crowd of adults. Our governor(governess?), one eminent Ruth Ann Minner, made a few sappy comments, explained the history of the Michael C. Ferguson scholarships, and had everyone give us a round of applause.

    As I stand on steps of Legislative Hall like an idiot with the rest of my class, I'm forced to slap on a smile. After a few minutes of trying to find my parents, I finally locate them at the very back of the crowd. Turns out they got lost on the way over. Surprise!.

    Standing next to the girl of my dreams. Her hair is slightly longer than shoulder length, a dirty blonde color slightly lighter than the color of chestnuts. She's wearing a lavender blouse, black skirt, goes down 3/4 the way to her knee. 'Tis long, by promiscuous high-school standards. Some of the girls wear things that would make BILL CLINTON blush. Or ogle, depending on how skilled the interns have been lately..

    After all four hundred eighty six names are called, from nearly twenty schools, I meet with some of my middle- and high-school friends. While talking with friends afterwards. Eddie Wu says something very inappropriate. He says I'm too shy (hell yes I am!), and that I should ask her (Girl Of my Dreams) out. A School Friend mentions an after-school party. Eddie says, "Yeah. Go there...get drunk...screw her...bang her...bang her like a screen door!" I push him off the steps. He's pretty cool, most of the time, but he has a mind in the sewers. What a sick-minded bastard.

    Ask G.O.D. (Girl Of my Dreams) if anyone asked her to the Homecoming dance: "No." I contemplate whether it's better to formally ask her to the dance, ask if she wants anyone to take her, or just dance with her tomorrow. I decide the third option is least painful, though it's undecided for whom it's least painful.

    After pictures taken, food is served in the Armory. Delicious fruit, stale water, soggy sadwiches (dinner rolls w/ tuna fish/ham and cheese) and cookies are the meal of the day. My parents get itchy to go, so I manage to hook up a deal: They go now, I hitch a ride with G.O.D. back to old middle school. (50 minutes of glorious time in the car.I was a bit abashed when G.O.D.'s mom was talking about how G.O.D had to change into nice clothes in the car, and a truck driver saw her without a shirt on (only a little abashed))

    Our old school, Springer, is a place holding many memories. We meet up with old teachers... nice to see them. Our French teacher had a baby, Rhiahnan. Babies are so cute.

    I call dad over on a pay phone, where he picks the three of us (G.O.D., a mutual friend, Jenny Zhang, and myself) and whisks us to our (G.O.D.'s and my own) high school, where I fetch my stuff from my locker, and G.O.D. takes Jenny on a tour of the school. They also help get a few decorations in place for tomorrow night's dance.

    Alas, time to take them home, but this reveals crucial information: Where G.O.D.'s house is located. Very important so no fumbling with addresses later...

    I come home, and start to work on this writeup. Dinner is scrumptious, grilled steak with couscous and A-One Sauce. My mom loves using the gas grill, and while it's not as "authentic" as our old, conventional, charcoal grill, it makes MUCH more evenly cooked meals. And, it has a smoker rack and a rotisserie rack.

    The Simpsons is Halloween Special III, with the Evil Krusty Doll, King Homer, and the Occult Library Zombies. I begin to watch Dark Angel, but I realize I've missed too many episodes (I don't watch very much T.V. : More TV = Less Computer/E2 time.)

    Mom, Dad and I play two games of pool: Dad vs Mom, Mom vs Ben. Mom wins both times, mostly due to our bad luck and her good luck. I scratched on the break, giving her a three ball lead from the start, and she managed to unwittingly place my cue ball in very inconvienient locations.

    We go to the aforementioned movie store to exchange tapes. We give back Best in Show and An Everlasting Piece, and get Pay it Forward and The Family Man. On the way there, I describe my day, and my mom find out that I like G.O.D., despite my protests that I'm an atheist. "Oh, you've got good taste..she's really pretty!" Well, yeah, but she's also pretty smart. Still, it's rather nifty to be told that you have good taste in girls. The same cannot be said of many high-school boys, sadly.

    Well, this monstrosity of a writeup has taken me a full two (casual) days to write. It's now 12:30 East Coast time, so I should probably get to bed. Bye everyone

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