Everything I ever needed to know started out a lot like this…

Everything I ever needed to know started out a lot like this…

I should hope it’s patently obvious that this person is just having fun, but just in case it isn’t, now you know.

We’ve all felt like this was the explanation for something at one time or another. There seemed to be no particular rhyme or reason to the explanation, and it totally seemed wrong in your head, but the speaker was all, “Trust me; I’m a professional.” Well, the going joke among my science friends (as I’m sure it is at universities everywhere) is that they call it a B.S. for a reason. I mean, at the end of the day, a lot of what we think we know is just really, really well-educated guesses based on years of observation and experimentation, and we just haven’t pushed the right, or rather, wrong buttons yet. Or rather, if there are any wrong buttons, and there may very well not be, we haven’t pushed them yet because out of a set of a googol or so buttons, finding the one that doesn’t behave as expected is well beyond Herculean in terms of tasks.

Yes, there are irrefutable facts in this world, and math is a lot of how we understand these things. Math, at its core, is immutable. But some of the fields that use it aren’t yet because as much as we know, we also know that there’s some part of it that we don’t know because we haven’t been able to explore it yet. Current theory seems to cover everything we’ve discovered so far pretty well, though. However, I get the feeling that a lot of people don’t really get what a theory is in scientific terms. It’s basically one step down from God’s own truth, if I’m putting it in layman’s terms. As Wikipedia puts it (which is accurate, and better than what my sleep-deprived brain can come up with right now): “In modern science, the term “theory” refers to scientific theories, a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. Such theories are described in such a way that any scientist in the field is in a position to understand and either provide empirical support (“verify”) or empirically contradict (“falsify”) it. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge, in contrast to more common uses of the word “theory” that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better defined by the word ‘hypothesis’). Scientific theories are also distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of how nature will behave under certain conditions.”

This, my ducks, is why I was absolutely pissed when the 2011 Miss America contestant from my home state decried teaching evolution in schools because “we kinda want to stay away from little theories … I believe in the truth and the truth only”. (And this is where my roommate will jump in and tell you that it’s okay for definitions to have multiple definitions, even when they contradict each other. Considering how important it is to know the difference here, though…) Okay, so, in that case, we definitely shouldn’t talk about relativity, gravity or a lot of other things that we take as truth simply because we haven’t seen proof that we’re wrong yet. Good to know. None of these things are just “little theories”. (Side note—I am aware that some parts of evolution are rather more shaky at least in people’s minds because, let’s face it, it’s hard to test a process that takes that much time in such a way that it can produce results in a reasonable amount of time. However, I think we can all at least agree that there is pretty strong evidence that micro-evolution has occurred and continues to do so.) We might not fully understand them yet, and we may never fully understand them, but that doesn’t mean they hold no weight.

Unlike this explanation for how algebra works.

Chickadoodle’s Dinner for Two #3: Absurdly Easy Chili-Mac

Okay, this is actually a dinner for two for 3 or even 4 nights, but whatever. This is the way students on a college budget survive.

For this, you need:

–2 boxes of your favorite macaroni and cheese
–2 cans of your favorite canned chili (I commonly mix two types of Nalley or Stag chili)
–1 can of your favorite beans to use with chili
–2 cups of grated cheddar cheese (optional)
–spices to taste (cayenne pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes are common favorites) 

First, prepare the macaroni and cheese as you would normally. Keeping the pot warm on low heat, stir in the chili and the beans, as well as the spices. Stir in the cheese, melting it if desired. Actually, it will probably melt in the process, anyway; you may as well accept it.

Serve it up and eat it. I recommend having some salad to go along with it.

The whole process takes about 30-40 minutes, including re-heat time. (The non-mac ingredients, especially the cheese, will lower the temperature of the whole thing.)

Word of the Day: Ambivert

For those not quite so versed in Latin, “ambi-“ means “both”, and “vert” derives from a word meaning “to turn”. I turn both ways: inward and outward. According to my homies Merriam and Webster, an ambivert is “a person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert”.

A few days ago, I was surfing the net and came across this word in the context of how introversion/extroversion is not a black-and-white dichotomy. Of course, this made complete sense to me, and was nothing new. Considering that, on every personality test I’ve ever taken that took introversion and extroversion into account, I always wound up with almost a dead even mix of the two (usually slightly more extroverted, but not by much), and knowing the people I do who fall at both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between, I’d have to be an idiot not to accept this.

However, most of the people I know are pretty clearly one or the other. They either get their energy almost solely from being around people, or almost solely by taking some me-time to recharge. For me… it depends on the day. And, until now, I always thought something was, well, wrong with me. I mean, why didn’t recharging one way or the other work reliably for me? Why did it seem so random, the days when I longed for a raging (but sober) house party, and the days I wanted to crawl under a rock and talk to nobody? I could find no correlation with hormones. At the risk of a little TMI, there are days on my period where I want nothing but to read alone in my room, and days where I will actively seek out the company of as many people as possible because I crave it that much.

Of course, these days still are random; that hasn’t changed. But knowing that I’m not alone makes it a lot easier to deal with. Because ambiverts can’t control it, there are a lot of angsty posts on tumblr about how it’s a burden; never knowing what you’ll be one hour or day to the next, and often enough craving the opposite of what you are at the moment. It can be overstimulating, but even without having the word for it until now, I’ve learned to just sort of assess how I’m feeling and choose the best course of action from there.

I don’t always, though. I want to enjoy the time I spend with people, and if I feel like I have more of the introversion coming on, I generally try to ignore it and party for as long as I can. This, of course, generally means that the minute I’m alone, I collapse on my bed and either fall asleep or start bawling from how tired I am emotionally. It does suck for a while, but the time spent with others is well worth it. A good trick I’ve found is to engage only minimally if I know I’m going to be interacting with people for a long time and I’m not sure I can keep it up. I can generally deal with being in the middle of things as long as I’m not actually the center of attention.

But just having a word for it is so freeing, and so much better for justification. I don’t have to do the awkward hem-and-haw of “Well, I’m not really one or the other… I mean, I test as an ENTP, but my scores are so close between E and I… I never really know when I’m going to feel social and when I’m going to feel like a hermit..” and getting either a blank stare or, even worse, a stare of disbelief paired with some statement that indicates I must not know myself very well. I’ve spent a couple decades with myself; I think I know who I am, thanks very much. (This is ignoring the whole thing about how who you are changes completely once every seven years or so… or something like that. That’s another topic for another post. Maybe.)

At the end of the day, though, it’s just like everything else I am: something that makes me see the world slightly differently than everyone else does. Just another piece of the puzzle.

I’m just glad I have a name for it now.

No Time to Write

I apologize for the relatively poor (or at least fluffy) quality of my posts this week. I am somewhat bogged down in a project for school.

Honestly, this pattern will probably continue throughout the quarter, because these projects aren’t getting any easier. Not that they’re getting particularly harder, but I really need to pass this class (well, all my classes, as I’m juuuuuuust at the credit limit) in order to graduate.

In the meantime, I will at least try to provide you with quality fluff.

Like this owl hanging out in a camera.

I like owls. In fact, this is my skype profile photo.

Image

 

So… yeah. Hopefully the owls will tide you over for a the next couple days.

Otto!

I hang out on deviantArt a lot. Mostly looking, not a lot of contributing, but a lot of favoriting. The other day, my roommate showed me Otto. Otto is a domesticated cephalopod who lives with his owner, Victoria in a steam punk world. the artist chronicles their adventures in a dedicated part of his gallery, and they’re VERY good. In one picture, Otto has inked on the carpet. In another, Otto takes Victoria for a walk under the sea.

Otto and Victoria’s adventures are vibrant and colorful, and ring very true for anyone who has ever loved a pet, and I love looking at them. Were I not a poor college student, I’d definitely be buying the artist’s new book coming out in May.

And now, for something not so different…

Last post was about an accidental soundtrack of sorts. This one, not so much.

For better or for worse, music has always been a driving force in my life. It’s cheered me up and put me to sleep and calmed me down and inspired me to create when nobody else could. It’s been a caretaker of sorts.

Some of my earliest memories are of music. Singing in the car, watching Beauty and the Beast (and loving the music was about the only reason I’d watch, because the beast was scary as hell), my mom putting on music when she was cleaning or cooking, my dad conducting a symphony in the kitchen with a carving knife (I swear my childhood was completely normal!)… Not much takes me that far back that fondly.

Some of the most moving pieces of music I’ve come across are parts of (or even whole) soundtracks. Obviously, there’s Fantasia, but I’m talking about pieces and composers that aren’t necessarily instantly recognized. Alan Menken, for instance. Anyone know his name? Chances are, unless you’re a Disney-phile, you probably don’t. He wrote the scores for both Beauty and the Beast and Tangled, which are not entirely coincidentally my all-time favorite Disney movies. Listen to the prologue (also titled “The Enchantress”) of Beauty and the Beast. That little motif is what ties the story together for me, as you’ll note it is also used in “Transformation” near the end. As haunting and high and uncertain as it begins the movie, it returns a million times stronger and more brilliant, and I love both pieces equally. Though they’re musically similar, you cannot compare them and come out with one better than the other.

Menken’s work in Tangled was a bit less strong, I think, but “Kingdom Dance” is just so much fun, and the beginning of “The Tear Heals” is just perfect. I mean, the guy’s music is brilliant all around, and the songs you can sing along to are very catchy. There are days I wish I was a booming… whatever range Richard White (the voice of Gaston) is. Baritone? I dunno, and my more musically inclined brother will probably kill me if he ever sees this, but honestly, I can read music and sing, and I know the difference between a bass clef and a treble clef, and that’s all she wrote.

Several Miyazakai movies, most composed by Joe Hisaishi, make their way in here, too. Perhaps surprisingly, they’re the movies I tend to like less. Spirited Away had some pretty cool music, as did Howl’s Moving Castle, but my favorite pieces actually come from “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (“Nausicaa’s Requiem”, also called “Lalala” earlier on) and “Castle In the Sky” (“Confessions in the Moonlight”).

And now, a sampling of a few more soundtracks that I just can’t seem to get away from: Despicable Me (especially the titular track by Pharell Williams), Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (and Commentary: The Musical), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (yes, the late-80’s B-movie—judge all you want), the soundtracks of the first two Shrek movies, Pokémon: the First Movie, Star Wars (the boyfriend proceeded to introduce me to this gem. I have not gotten over it since.), and, from Warehouse 13, “Running Up That Hill” as covered by Track and Field. I might have cried. Again, judge all you want.

Of course, there’s about a bajillion and two-thrids (possibly three-fourths) animes I’m not naming, and a few live action ones. (Okay, I’ll plug for a few more Disney movies: Parent Trap—the newer one, again, with no shame—and, from The Big Green, “I Believe in You” and “Sunny Side Up”. Holes had a good one going, too.) A few shows have given me lots of good music—Haven, Warehouse 13, Pretty Little Liars… Yes, I know. I know. I also recently picked up Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who, and each has a fairly good selection.

There’s also game soundtracks. Jazz Jackrabbit has an amazing one. I love most of the Sonic the Hedgehog soundtracks, too. I particularly like DeDeDe’s theme in the Kirby games, as well as the Fountain of Dreams theme. Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Subspace Emissary game-within-a-game had some pretty rockin’ music. And, of course, can’t forget Legend of Zelda.

As I’ve doubtless mentioned in at least one post, I’ve usually got a song or two that I’m just feeling at the moment—it sort of becomes my day’s (or week’s) soundtrack. Three Days Grace and Story of the Year are both good for attacking a very dirty bathroom. B*Witched is good for a happily creative day. Willa Ford and City High are for when I’m feeling particularly sassy. Nanne Grönvall (Yup, pullin’ out the Swedish, here.) is also a sassy one. P!nk for rebelliousness. Nightwish for sadness. Enya for meditation. And my whole “Before 2000” YouTube playlist for nostalgia.

Music: my drug (I would say my anti-drug, but I’ve never had the want to experiment in the first place), my life.

First 5: an accidental soundtrack

So, the first 5 songs on my YouTube favorites playlist seem to knit together (albeit a little awkwardly at times) to tell a story. Not sure what story–I mostly see it as the beginning of Fantasia with just shapes and lines moving around. Nothing immediately springs to mind, but it’s a good creative playlist if one feels like creating something more dark and edgy, or just meditative, perhaps.

So, here they are, in order from first to fifth (and a bonus at the end):

1) “Radioactive” cover by Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix. I would write more to this, but the video is captivating.

2) “Berlin” by the Piano Guys. Really cool and, in my opinion, meditative.

3) “Skin” by Zola Jesus. You always think she’s going to burst into some full on rock, but no. And it works.

4) “Little Red Riding Hood” (cover?) by Laura Gibson. This is one of those songs where you know it’s dangerous, but you can’t help loving the story.

5) “Invisible” by Plumb. Not gonna lie–Pretty Little Liars is kind of a train wreck of a show, but it has definitely given me some really awesome music to listen to. (“Crush” by Aiden Hawken is a favorite.)