Monday, January 31, 2011

Needful Things

Usually, you have to do something awesome to be labelled King. Stephen King has been given that title from birth...

Needful Things is an exceptional novel. Taking place in a small town in Maine called Little Rock, King completely immerses his reader is small town life. From the religious fanatics, to the sense of duty peace officers usually feel, King creates a town from the people up.

And then destroys it.

Complete mayhem and destruction. This book should be banned outright because it shows how easy it is to influence americans to annihilate one another. The equation is simple (warning, spoilers):

1. Play to greed
-Leland Gaunt, the proprietor of Needful Things plays this role perfectly. He gives everyone what they want most, in exchange for small pranks.

2. Play on emotions
-The planks played on individuals of the town preyed upon their already pent up emotions, to the point where anger, religious bigotry, and past feuds begin to escalate to the point where people want to kill each other.

3. Set off a chain reaction of destruction in different parts of the town simultaneously.
-Ace Merril and Buster handle this with their bombs, under the direction of Leland Gaunt.

4. Profit
-This is how Leland Gaunt successfully, and nearly-single-handedly destroyed Little Rock, Maine.

Sometimes I am just in the mood to read about something being blown up, or about someone who couldn't arrive in time to save someone else's life. This book is not about how the heroes win. It is about how the bad guys destroy. And at Needful Things (the store owned by Mr. Gaunt), every purchase leads to a little piece of the town dying.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January Goal COMPLETED

Hey guys!

So remember when I put up my project? About completing one task each month for a year? If you haven't read that blog post, you can see it here!

I then posted a video on my youtube channel, stating my goal for the January! And sorry in advance for the crappy sound quality!

And now, here we are, about a week later, and I have completed my January Goal! And yes, I also made a video for that too.

So there ya go! My February task will be to get a NY State Drivers License. This means I need to find a drivin school. Take the 5 hour required Pre-Driving Class, plus the actual driving classes, both beginner and advanced, and then take the test!

I know, that is a lot of work. And money as well. The most expensive driving school I have seen was about 450, but they also teach you advanced lessons, like driving on the highway and that sort of stuff. I will bear the cost of expense again (renewing my membership was 100 dollars), for the benefits I will obtain!

If you know of any good, inexpensive driving school in NYC, let me know. Also if you have any suggestions for monthly goals, please place them in the comments sections below.

January - Renew Membership to the NY Botanical Gardens - Completed!
February - Obtain NY State Drivers License - Pending

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Reviews!

The last book review I gave was on Richard Dawkins Ancestors Tale. Since then I have read many books. I just wanted to review a few of the more noteworthy ones here.

The Lovely Bones
This book was given to me by my aunt Carmen. She found it in one of those second hand shops for a buck and change. I wouldn't normally pick a book like this up, but since it was a gift I read it. It was a pretty good read, although some of the metaphysical sections were creepy, especially towards the end. This book starts off with the rape and murder of a little girl, and then follows her spirit through heaven. I think it was written more as a drama, since I didn't find it particularly scary, but then again I read a lot of Stephen King, so almost anything else will be child's play in comparison. Overall, while not the normal type of book I will read, I did think it was interesting. Sebold shows us a view of heaven not often seen. It was a good read, but I don't think it is an instant classic, or anything special. Just a good story for people who like drama.

The Hunger Games/Catching Fire/Mockingjay

I had my copy of Mockingjay signed by Suzanne Collins herself at the official book launching event. I hadn't even heard of this series of books until recently. They were written for teens, but I still enjoyed The Hunger Games very much. I purchased all three books, and both me and Donna read them. We both agreed that the first and second books were better than the third. Mockingjay dealt only with the war which made a dictator like society more democratic.

These books had the feel of 1984, where your living in a society where you are always being watched and can be convicted of thinking negative things about the rulers of the society. Mixed with elements of Battle Royale (which made the first book quite entertaining), I would say these sets of books are classics. However, if you can only read one, read The Hunger Games (along with 1984, and seeing the Japanese film, Battle Royale, they all go well together).

The Tales of Beedle the Bard:
Yep, a Harry Potter book. In the 7th book of Harry Potter Hermione was given this book by Albus Dumbledore. The Tales of Beedle the Bard is Hermione's translation of the book from Ancient Runes. It also includes commentary by Dumbledore himself. There are many short story/fairy tales in this book. My favorite would have to be either the tale of 3 brothers, or Babbity Rabbity. In any case, this is a must have for anyone who wants to complete their Harry Potter collection, or for anyone wanting to know more about the series. If you are not a Potter fan, don't even bother with reading the Dumbledore commentary. It wont make sense.

The Liars Tale:
I normally do not read philosophy but this book caught my eye one day while I was walking around The Strand. It is about lying, and why people lie, and why lies are more valuable than the truth. As a scientist, many of the reasons given in the book disgusted me, but they made sense. If everyone always told the truth, there would be no fiction, there would be very little imagination, and life would be rather dull. We need ideas about life, which might not be true, to function. This book explains it all, with a history of philosophical ideas about lying. It is a bit repetitive and long winded at times, much like Dawkins Ancestors tale, so it is not for the faint of heart, but it was still an intellectually good read.

Right now I am reading Stephen King's Needful Things. In an attempt to save money, I am going to be reading a lot of the King books I purchased in high school but never got around to reading.

A New Year!

Well well well.

Here we are in 2011, and it is a new year. It has been a new year for 20 days, and in the past 20 days I have come to a funny conclusion. New Years resolutions do not work.

Most people who join a gym in January quit after a few weeks. Most people who have professional or personal goals in the beginning of the year never meet them. I don't want to go over the why's. The why's are boring. It could be lack of discipline, too large a timeline (which leads people into thinking "I will do it tomorrow"), or maybe people genuinely want to accomplish their goals when stating them, but forget!

Whatever the reason, I have come up with a solution, at least for me. 2010 was a wasted year. Except for all the awesome plants I obtained, 2010 was a year where I didn't grow much. I looked back at the end of 2010, and found myself in worse shape than I was before 2010. The question became then became: Now that you have wasted 2010, what will you do in 2011?

2011? Well, for starters, I know what I am NOT going to do. I refuse to make a New Years resolution, which will be pushed to the back alleys of wishful thinking, in an attempt to make myself feel better. I decided to think about resolutions differently. Why did they come around during New Years? That seems like an arbitrary decision isn't it? If I need to join a gym, why didn't I do it in the fall? If I needed to volunteer more, why didn't I do it in the summer?

The truth is, New Years resolutions are popular but not practical. So how can I, in 2011, make practical resolutions? I have a list of things I need to accomplish in 2011. Not just one big resolution but an entire list! I decided to make a different kind of resolution.


January is almost over, but in January I have constructed the most perfect plan! This plan doesn't involve big, nearly impossible to achieve resolutions. It involves smaller resolutions which can be achieved in the time span of one month!

In 2011, I plan on accomplishing 11 RESOLUTIONS. They will have a small time frame (monthly time frame)! So from January to November, every month, I will begin with a monthly goal. At the end of the month, I should have some sort of sense of accomplishment at completing that goal.

Why not have a goal for December? Well December is a busy month first of all. Secondly, if there was a goal I failed to accomplish, I should be able to play catch-up in December!

Why does this system have advantages over the yearly one?

Well for starters, you have less time to accomplish your goal. So you always feel the pressure to get off your ass and do something so it will be complete by the time the month is over.

Secondly. The goals will not be hugely monstrous, like lose 50 pounds, or get a bigger apartment to live on your own. They will be smaller. You know, like goals someone can actually achieve!

Third, it will not take one year to look back and make assessments! Every month I can look back and say, HOLY COW, I did something cool in March. If I hadn't planned on it, I wouldn't have done it!

And lastly, in December of 2011, even if I did not complete all of my goals, it is quite obvious, that I would have completed some. And if I look back on it, I can say, 2011 was worth something to me. It wasn't wasted like 2010.

But like all resolutions, I need friends who will encourage me! I need your help!

January is almost over, so I will be making a very small goal (see future blog, coming sometime later this week). And I have a goal for February. But I need people to suggest small goals for me to accomplish. If a goal is worthy enough, I will add it on my to do list for one of the months, and I will do my best to accomplish it! Lets see how many I can do!

You can leave me suggestions for monthly resolutions on my facebook page!

And don't be shy!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

On Why I can't get my shit together

Many older people keep asking me why I don't have a better job. And if I plan on living with my mother forever. And they often say I wasted my time in college since I have nothing to show for it.

I have often questioned myself. Why can't I get my shit together? Get a better job? Live in an apartment with my girlfriend? Leave my moms house once and for all.

The answer came to me a few days ago. I was at home, and mom asked me to look for apartments online. I knew she had planned to move out of here. There were problems with the landlord, and the rent was "too high". I put too high in quotations because the truth is, this apartment is a steal for 1600. It is adequately priced. The problem is, my mother doesn't make enough money to live here.

But what if we lived somewhere we could afford? What would that look like? It would most likely be a far more dangerous neighborhood, in a small apartment, with no parking. She doesn't understand that if she is looking for a place for 1200, then compromises need to be made.

But the answer to my problems are simple when I look at her. I can't get my situation stable, because at the foundation, my situation is unstable. I don't where where I am going to be living 6 months from now. And if we do move, we might move again 1 year later... I should have never packed my things after college.

In the last 6 years, from the time I started college to now, I have lived on Castle Hill in the Bronx, in a house in Florida with my aunt, in the projects in soundview, and here in Claysons Point. 6 years, 4 "permanent" addresses. And people ask ME why I don't have a good and stable job.

How can I even go to college? The application date for this fall was February. I am not even trying to apply. I mean, why even bother going to college, if I have to worry about moving into a new apartment every year. There will be no time to study, if I am constantly packing and unpacking all of my belongings.

Maybe I am looking for a scapegoat. A reason for my current situation. I am not happy where I am right now. I know I don't have my shit together. But how am I supposed to learn to drive, while looking for a good job, while looking for a place to live, since my mother seems to distraught to do so, because my grandmother recently died. She was crying today because Monday is going to be the 1 month anniversary of the loss of my grandmother. So she sent me to look for apartments for us. I found one, and we went to see it today. In the end, she says it was too small. In the end, I say she will not find what she is looking for, for the price tag she is looking at.

And so maybe we deserve to be in a bad neighborhood. In a big nameless building with roaches crawling in, and mice escaping the winter cold. We deserve it, because no matter how much we work, we are poor.

And I only say we are poor because most of the problems I have revolve around money. It is why we can't stay in this apartment, and why we need to move, and why mom can't settle on a place to move into. It is why I am not in NYU, or CUNY, or some other school. It is why I don't have a licence. Because I don't even have the money to go out and pay for classes for someone else to teach me how to drive. And so I say I am poor. Even though mom says we are lower middle class, because she makes 30 k, she is lying. I know poor when I see it. Poor is getting white bread at the store because the nutritional grain bread, and wheat bread is too expensive.

Poor is only buying canned food that won't spoil instead of fruits because you can be sure it will eventually be used for food, while fruits might go bad. I know poor. I know how to live poor. And maybe the change I need to make is acting like I am poorer than I am. Perhaps even 10 dollar orchids should be too expensive for me. Perhaps I should live like even the unhealthiest McDonalds is too much to buy, because I have food at home. Maybe the only price I should look at is free. Maybe that would give me the opportunity to save some money and get out of here.