Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My head is often hopelessly in the clouds, but there are times when I am pulled down to this modern world by my love for gadgets. I don't care about clothes, I would walk around in a toga and flip flops if it was not so taboo. I could care less about accessorizing, about brand names, etc. But set me loose in a Best Buy or, gasp, at the Apple store, and I act like I'm in Disney Land. I am continually in awe about how those things work and love to look at the newest and greatest things. I also love to show off my gadgets. I often joke, but only half-joke, at the idea that I should work at the Apple Store just to get commission for all the products I've sold: convinced 3 people to buy Macs personally and at least 8 itouches. I shouldn't take much credit though, they really sell themselves.

But one app I feel I have to tell others about: Koi Pond. If you like serene waters, buy it. If you like to listen to thunderstorms, get this! If you like that the itouch can simulate real life, its amazing. Its so very simple: Its an overhead shot of a pond. Fish move around and when you touch the screen it is as if you are disturbing the water. Ripples occur and water noises echo. You can put on a thunderstorm and watch the drops hit the water. Sound simple? It is. But you will spend minutes to an hour just staring and tapping the screen. Serenity now...you got it on your itouch. Ha, its worth the .99 cents.

Ok, now I must get ready for my program on cell phones at the library. I hope it goes well.

Oh, and I passed my Comps!! Found out today. I'm so happy....but I'm calmed by my Pond. :) I guess it really hasn't sunk in yet.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

I can't sit still. And it is not (or not just) because I am on my fourth cup of coffee. It is because I am waiting on the results from my comprehensive exam. This is a test every grad student must take in order to finally complete their Masters degree in Philosophy. Yes, that means that I spent a good deal of time in that ivory tower. And it took me years there to find out that that place is merely one of many, and not always the best place, to learn philosophy and to create my own. Didn't Descartes learn this same lesson hundreds of years ago? But I needed to go through it too in order to learn this lesson. By experience we learn, we gain the tools to be the competent judge and take the lessons back out into the streets. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed my education. I wouldn't have had such an all-encompassing love for philosophy if I hadn't have taken that required class during my undergrad studies and fell in love with Plato and the "Euthyphro" (There was a summer storm out that late afternoon while I was reading that dialogue and couldn't have been more appropriate, for both the lightning outside and my thoughts inside were bursting. Never have I read something that was so logical and yet so confusing. It was my first taste of my addiction to philosophical learning and wonder). Nevertheless, I finished my undergrad and decided after a year to revisit it formally by going to graduate school. I finished my course work within a year and a half and all I had left was the comprehensive exams. Though I was at the last stretch, I had become completely tapped.

So I turned away from it for a while and enjoyed life. One of the most entertaining distractions I had was Roller Derby. Much different than Descartes, I know. I rarely picked up a book or learned during that time. I needed to get academia out of my system. But I always felt like I was cheating myself a bit. That I needed to finish the comps soon. But I just couldn't find the energy to study anymore. I just wanted to fill my time with sensible things, with the practical. Give my mind a rest.

But by now I should know that my mind never really rests. It constantly needs something to stress about, to over-worry on. If it wasn't philosophy, it was going to be derby, family, relationships, etc. I could and would stress over the most arbitrary and inane things. Though it was still "working" in effect, I kept feeling like I was losing my "touch", my ability to grasp the higher understanding, to think logically and critically. I felt I needed to finish those comps and get back to philosophy, ultimately finding a way to teach it.

So I retired from derby, buckled down this winter, and studied like crazy for the comps. I took the first half in February I believe, and passed it. It was the easier of the two halves though. I know my ancient and medieval philosophy, early modern/modern is much more complicated and involved. I studied and scheduled my comps for March 23. If I managed to get this second one passed, there is a good possibility I can graduate in May! And perhaps even adjunct teach. My dream would perhaps be coming true. Otherwise, I would have to wait until December to officially graduate. I'm too close and I want it before I'm 30, so I worked hard and planned to take it March 23.

So I studied (or over studied) and readied myself for my test that Monday. Right before I got off the highway, my mom called and said that my grandfather had been rushed to the hospital. They assumed he had a seizure and was delusional, telling the police that someone robbed him and tried stuffing him in a closet. Come to realize, this had actually happened. My grandfather was robbed and assaulted. Some man forced his way in and assaulted my 86 year old grandfather. He almost died but they defibrillated him back to normal heart rhythm. I went to the hospital and visited him. Within minutes, seven other family members were present and there by his side. He was stabilized and even joking with the nurses by mid morning. Such a strong man he is.

But despite such family trauma, I still had the comprehensive exams weighing so heavily on my mind. I tried rescheduling but I would have had to push it back a bit and, having already over-studied, it would have been unwise. I chose perhaps an equally unwise decision, namely to leave the hospital and go take the test after all. My mind was no where near where it should have been. I could very well blame it on the chaos that happened that morning, but honestly I don't think I would have done much better if that morning would have gone off without any issues. I took much shorter than I should have, I think (its an accumulative 7-14 hour test. I took the second half in a little over 3.5 hours). But I believe I covered all I intended to. I timidly gave my answers to the secretary and hoped for the best. I went back to the hospital feeling actually quite accomplished. That despite such craziness of the day, I still managed to take that test and do fairly well. I felt confident.

Now, two and a half weeks later, I do not feel so confident. Estimates say that I should have gotten my results by Monday. Every day thus far my walk to the mailbox has been like I was approaching the guillotine. I don't think my heart can take much more, I need to know. If I did not pass one or several of the questions, I need ample time to research, restudy, retake and have them regrade the test, all before graduation in may. I was picked for jury duty, and I have to serve next month. It seems that Murphy's Law is in full affect here regarding my comps. I want to give myself that present so bad, namely to have a Master's degree by 30. I hope, whether I pass or fail, that I can still pull it off. So I wait, impatiently wait, for my chance to go home and check my mailbox once again to see whether I get to graduate, or must revisit the ivory tower to take a portion of that test once again. In the grander scheme of things, what is a few more months. But personally, I would like to complete my formal studies, so I can say "I did it." That I have one more experience under my belt, one more accomplishment from which to learn and build on.

So I impatiently wait.....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Philosophy is Wonder Full.

Philosophy does not reside in an ivory tower. It is not a foreign language. It is not the unapproachable and lofty subject relegated only to those smart or crazy enough to pursue it. It can be found in professor's classroom but also in coffee shops, in backyard gatherings, and even on the playground. Men with white beards and multiple degrees do not hold monopoly over it because even little ones can be philosophers. The "why..." and "what..." questions that they incessantly ask fulfill one of the main criteria needed to be a philosopher, namely Wonder. Though this is the simplest of concepts, it is the hardest to grasp because you assume there must be more. But perhaps that is the beauty of philosophy: full of seeming contradictions and complexities, systems and theories, but it can clarify, make things so simple, make you understand. You begin with a simple question, explore and try to understand it until your head almost bursts with confusion, but then suddenly you may give birth to knowledge. It is both frustrating and endlessly rewarding.

Of course then under this meaning, absolutely anyone can be a philosopher. The man who asks why he got a speeding ticket could be considered philosophizing. But its the bigger questions that occupy our minds. The questions that encompass our life and equally the ones most puzzling. "How do we obtain knowledge." "Why is there life." "Is there right and wrong." All of these pervade our lives, whether we are a politician or working in a factory. They are questions that are applicable to most all of us, and make a difference. That is why philosophy is so important, and why it should be most accessible and not thought to reside in an ivory tower. Its questions that teach you how to live, how to think, how to wonder. And how to enjoy life. Because what is life without quality. But we do not understand quality unless we explore the facets of life. And Philosophy provides us that essential tool. It was born in wonder and in turn sparks our wonder.