It’s technically a New Year somewhere

Even though it’s September, it’s a New Year! Well it turned a New Year a few days ago. It’s not a New Year in the United States for everyone, but a large amount of people. Perhaps even the majority of people know someone experiencing a new year now. I bet fall was celebrated as the coming of a new year in some agrarian society! It’s a year to celebrate! Another year of school is coming, be it kindergarten, freshman year, high school or undergraduate, or starting your PhD, and it’s going to be a crazy one. 

This year is going to bring a mess of brilliant ideas, terrifying issues, and crazed occurrences to the table, or at least it will for me. That’s who counts the most anyway, right? There’s a gubernatorial election in New York, and there’s a progressive candidate coming out of left field, quite literally, to upset the incumbent Democrat, Cuomo, whose pathetic cover up of an ethics investigation into his finances is leaving a sour taste in most people’s mouths. There’s the potential for war in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and pretty much any corridor from the East to the West. There’s a maniacal ex-KGB Lieutenant in charge of Russia, and Ukraine looks like a field of mice to the hawks in Congress.

The first person to live to a thousand is most likely alive. Some mad scientists have discovered what has been termed, “The God Particle”, and concluded that their current theories are still valid.  At some point this year, someone could use the idea of spooky action at a distance to build a teleportation device. I could go into more detail but I’m getting distracted, really badly. Less distraction, more writing!

As the year starts here in the city, at City, it’s looking like it’s going to be…intense. This semester is starting off with 4 classes, which is not what I’m used to, but 20 hours a week of being in the lab. At least one of my professors is absolutely full of it, and at least two are pretty incredible, brilliant, and charming. I mean, seriously, who ever heard of a math professor cracking jokes? Maybe I’m just imaging this and they’re actually lame. The classes aren’t that hard I imagine, two of them are pretty basic classes in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department, while the other two are your basic physics II and Calculus III.  In fact, for one of the EAS courses the textbook is $8 after taxes and shipping on Amazon. It’s time to learn a ton about how the world works! Or science, because that’s what it is. We really do idolize those who are able to describe the natural world around us and manipulate it for our collective benefit.

I spent this entire day writing up different documents for the club, from a class rap, the website, and before the day is over the LinkedIn. The club will be in full swing soon! There’ll have to be meetings, workshops, seminars, and a field trip. Seriously, there has to be. It’s been said a lot today. and probably for the next week.  There’s also scholarships! It’s my hope to get at least one winner for the undergraduate scholarship from my school, and propel our chapter to the forefront of student chapters across the state. Or something in that vein. It’s going to be a long semester of planning and organizing between classes and the club, but then there’s also the rest of the existence of the universe, which is much more important. Well, to everyone else, who overwhelm me in terms of sheer magnitude. 

There’s a lab! That’s definite. Definitely at the lab. Seriously, just checked the electronic time sheet system, I’m gonna be there. It’s gonna be intense. I’ve been running fecal coliform experiments with this hilarious and brilliant post doc, and in the near future I may be able to tell somebody what the count of CFU/100 mL of fecal coliform are present in a NYC plant right before chlorination. It’s a lot. Like really, in the 10^5 range a lot, so chlorination does its job well. There’s a reactor sitting in the chamber that I’m supposed to be monitoring but might be passed off onto one of the new graduate students. My coworkers are all pretty hilarious and brilliant people, which is one of the benefits of working in a lab in the engineering department. Also, everyone’s a problem solver. It’s kind of intimidating, but can also be super useful when you’re really not sure what to do.Start talking about what you’re having an issue with and someone will help you find a solution. 

There’s also a bunch of incredible environmental work being done, especially here in the City. The People’s Climate March is coming up…which is going to be truly one of the biggest protests of the decade, and hopefully not the biggest I ever attend. I’m going to need to talk abotu this more, and actually talk about it and not just give it two sentences in a half distracted recap of what’s going on in my life. Do I ever do anything else? I hope so. Must write new things!

Recently, Songza has had a very nice composition of songs in one magnificent playlist, all of them super catchy and great to listen to while doing activities like: half dancing in your room with your girlfriend, cleaning up your insane household, or doing tech support for the elderly. All activities you should be doing regularly. This brings me to the following lyric out of a British band’s most famous song, “I can tell just what you want, You don’t want to be alone.” Maybe this guy’s right. Maybe we just find someone to spend the time with so we don’t have to be alone. Sometimes I’m wondering if life is just that, so we can find some spastic permanent stimulation to ourselves and prove our own lives are worth living.

I think I’m to unfocused to finish expounding on it, and I’m going to think about it and come back to you internet. Some thoughts, hopefully novel, will be here for you internet.

 

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Incredible opportunities come to those who try for them

About a year and a couple weeks ago, my great friend at the time sent me a site offering jobs “for the environment.” What are jobs for the environment I wondered? Fresh out of high school, I had spent at least the last 3 months in a heavily induced mental coma, bumming around while considering what I was gonna do in college. I had somehow slid into an engineering program at where I’m enrolled now, scoring 5’s and 4’s on AP exams I considered easy while barely getting away with a lot of things, and not getting away with some.

So, I think of how I need to get this resume together and get this pathetic excuse of a piece of paper that has my name and the fact I worked with my school’s Tech Squad on it, and my contact information. I get there…and this very excited guy with hair down to his shoulders yells for at least a half hour about fracking and the evils of it, much of which I had learned in an environmental science class. it uses a lot of waster, it can contaminate water, there’s methane leakage, it’s harvesting methane, issue on top of issue that actually make it out to be a really stupid process endorsed by some people who can’t seem past the next quarter. Which it is in all honesty.

Well, he let me go into the next room with this cute red haired woman, who had short hair with bangs and a few killer tats. She asked me her first question, why I wanted to work there. My response was about how I wanted to develop sustainable energy. Or something. Save the environment y’know? She asked me if I was comfortable fund raising. I asked her if it’s like petitioning in the street, to which said no it’s fundraising. I said yes, she told me to come in the next day. I sat down on the hot pavement outside, it being early July with no cloud cover out, and waited for my friend to come outside, who had also come in to do the interview without telling me.

He came out and said, “a hot blonde chicK” had told him they’d call him within the next day. I laughed a bit, callously telling him he’d gotten screwed. He didn’t believe me, but he did. It sucked to be him, and we ended up getting lunch with my dad. My dad didn’t buy this “Jobs for the environment” jazz either, but I still kind of did. 

A couple weeks later I was sitting in the bar next to this girl I had a crush on, telling her I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep working there – no money and constant rejection as a canvasser make for a depressing work environment. She told me to stick with it because it’d really mean something. After a game of Jeopardy in the office the guy who had briefed us on fracking that July morning asked me what I thought about some issues, and the staff gave me a few extra trial days to stay on board. I tried to get my friends to work there but none of them stuck around for long.

I moved out at the end of August after an awful fight with my family, and the first thing I did after my first class was find Morganne and talk to her and help her do anything she wanted. A couple months in a lot of stuff happened. i went to some of my first ever protests. I went to a lot of talks and seminars, meeting professionals and activists. I met a speaker who was the leading organizer for a New York based anti-fracking group and had her speak at my school. A girl I thought was cute organized a panel discussion by the political science department about the upcoming mayoral election, where the first Democrat would be elected to New York City Mayor in over 20 years. My new friends organized lots of little events and activities, everywhere. 

That cute girl and I started seeing each other around my birthday, when much to her happiness I became “legal.” I had gotten a 3.6 GPA my first semester, and survived college. That winter I dug in with my house mate Odin, smoked a ton of hookah and had that amazing girl over all the time. 

The next semester, I couldn’t dedicate nowhere as much time to NYPIRG I once had. I had registered the internship, but I was now taking harder classes and trying to set up my own club. I started tutoring someone via a program that was targeting students who were on the cusp of doing great and may need that extra kick in the behind to be A students. It was kind of crazy, and I found myself helping to organize new events while hopping into lectures and seminars and trying to become the president of a new club. 

One day there was an “engineering club fair” or something of the sort, where a lot of student chapters of professional organizations gave short presentations about what they did. One organization, the New York Water Environment Association, struck me as being exactly what I’d be interested in. I spoke with the girl who was president, and she offered to put me on the executive board next semester. I asked her where she’s working, and she helped me get a position at the lab where I now work.

At the same time as all this I ran for the board of directors of NYPIRG and came on board, for lack of a better phrase at the moment. When the summer started, I had about 3 or 4 days between my last final exam for the semester and the start of my new job as a research assistant. The next week, an office had me in it and I was studying the standard methods.  This entire time I considered myself extremely lucky and dedicated a lot of time to studying for my class and learning laboratory procedures. 

I went to the board meetings and learned a ton of financial information, especially about the budgetary process for a non-profit. I discovered great food by my school and how much I really loved the world and everything about it, even if it could be better. Also my girlfriend’s awesome.

In the past 24 hours, a lot of ridiculously awesome stuff has happened that has made me say “Holy crap I’m amazed by people.” The director of the tutoring program contacted me on Facebook to invite me to come to Washington DC for a 3 day trip, to go along with the fellowship program at my school. Meet non-profits and go to an orchestra? That sounds awesome. I spoke with my boss at work today and he said it’d be fine.

At work we were celebrating someone’s last day on the job and went out to a huge all you can eat sushi buffet. I don’t know how we moved, that was so much food. On the way to the place, I stopped off at a bank to get cash and got separated from the group. I walked into a random building looking for the restaurant and saw a Democratic congresswoman’s campaign office. Funnily enough I had spoken with her office before in disgust over her vote on a bill, one I can barely recall at the moment. They wanted to know where I was registered to vote, to which I replied, “I Know, I work for a non profit, registering voters.” The oldest man there asked me which one, to which I replied, “NYPIRG.”

He laughed and said no shit, and told me about how he had worked there for a while. He had been on the board as vice-president, representing Queens College, and had been program staff for a while. I told him I was currently a board rep at City College, and he said no shit again. Offered me a job on the spot, to which I immediately declined since I currently have an amazing job at a research lab. I was kind of amazed.

That’s what inspired me to sit down and write a little history of my time with this amazing group, that has afforded me so many opportunities and  at the same time allowed me to impact change onto the people around me. It’s some important for everybody out there to remember that people take you as seriously as you take yourself. Give it your best and someone will recognize it. Give up your time to do work you think is crappy, it can pay off. I’m not one to speak definitively on it, but try your best.

The best kind of people understand others the most and themselves the least.

Purpose

For some reason, we have decided collectively, at least in the United States, that someone must have purpose to find meaning in life. What does that mean for the majority of human beings out there. There are entire modern industries that are built on trying to give people purpose, trying to give someone direction so that they can explain their existence. Where does this idea even come from? Surely not all cultures have decided similarly that purpose is this key. But some may call it semantics saying that meaning and purpose are two different ways of saying the same idea. It isn’t so.

As of now, I don’t know if anyone can truly believe in their purpose or meaning or direction or fate or some deterministic conclusion of what they are doing in life. If he can, I commend that person. He has managed to find comfort in knowing everything that is present is perfect for him – or he is ready and adaptable to change, but doesn’t seek to be its agent. Maybe he has given up on trying to change what is past him, and isn’t even happy but miserable, and finds his purpose in being miserable. It is a sad state of affairs when one wakes up in the morning and finds that he doesn’t know why he goes to work other than to pay the bills. 

What do the salesmen and marketers know about happiness? Maybe it comes from buying more stuff. After all, make money to buy stuff so you can make more money and have better stuff, that’s how you’ll be happy. I heard the new model costs only $100 more, but it comes with a free warranty and a discount on the next release. Every version doing nothing for efficiency, and less for you. Maybe that next item will be better, and you’ll be able to stomach talking to your estranged brother. What does the market know about yoga and meditation; an antithetical idea to the market itself, one that’s been propelled by westerners being exposed to the east. It’s just another market to them.

But life really is about purpose or destiny or anything you want to call it. It’s about doing something you want to do even if you don’t know it now; of finding joy in individual moments. Finding meaning when you successfully analyze the nitrogen species makeup of some water or when you’re going 30 miles an hours down a hill on a plank of wood with large wheels. It’s about what you make it. So damnit, give it some meaning and fight for what you want. Resignation is the sign of being beat – you are never beat until you decide so.

I’m not really sure I have anything original to say on the matter, or if I’m just feeling like I’m being paranoid over current issues and regretful of decisions I’ve made. Regret drives purpose away, but if you can’t find purpose, what’re you even doing? I hope to find that purpose one day. Some day!

 

Life at the moment

It’s very strange to sit down and write about who you are, and what you’re doing. Or at least what you think you are and what your actions are accomplishing, or how they’re influencing other people. It’s a bit ego stroking, but as an individual…maybe it’s necessary to stroke one’s own ego. Jack London wrote about the fatal flaws of being an individualist, but maybe some of us are built to be individuals. It could be fate for that person, or it could be what they’ve trapped themselves in. An individual is a canvas of other individuals splattering their influence on him, his caretakers and then his friends, and the varied and incredible life he may live. It’s important, at least to me, to keep in perspective that you are the product of that, and not simply what you have done. I don’t know if I consider myself an individualist, but I can say, in a sad, deprecating fashion, I find myself considering myself better than some, and it is not something I am proud of. And pride is another ego boosting mechanism, accomplishing that same action – thinking you are better than someone. Really, I just want to talk about some stuff I’m doing and how I’m involved and to organize it for myself and not find myself in a pit going crazy in projects and responsibility I don’t find myself ready for. 

It would be to do this in some sort of order, so I think I’ll start with school work and go into environmental work, which is where I see myself going as a person interacting with other people and somehow living, so that’s kind of a mix of both. School…is such a weird thing. I never found myself being really interested in school but knowing it would be a huge part of my life, especially going into academia for a bit, at least to go to Grad School and get a PhD in the sciences or mathematics. I’m gonna do it! One day, I’ll wake up and be in Grad School and say holy crap, I’m still a human being doing things.

So now I’m entering my second year at The City College of New York. My parents went here! Eric and Odin’s dads both went here, as well as Michael Vulis…and Tara’s parents. It’s such a scary small world, knowing we’re part of some web that is constantly updating and renewing itself and building. So, studying environmental engineering. Not sure what it is yet, but apparently the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists are primarily focused on water. Water! It’s a big deal. I don’t know if I want to deal with water. It’s a lot of chemistry. It’s a big goddamn deal, but it’s…I don’t find my heart in it. It’s like a fun experiment. I’m gonna be taking an Earth Hazards class, Physics II, Calculus III, and Earth Systems Analysis. I guess it’s all in the same vein so it’ll be alright. I’m nervous about Physics because of the professor, and I’m afraid I’m going to do really bad. That really sucks. I don’t like being nervous about that. Not the content of the class, but the fact that the professor sucks. What a lame reality. Dr. Kreminska is going to have to hear me out on this. I think I’m on track to graduate in 4 years, maybe if I take summer courses in mathematics or liberal arts. That’d be cool, but this current 10 hours a week of crazy ridiculous physics is getting to me. That and work makes me feel like my days don’t exist anymore. They almost do! The future seems so full of possibilities, but it’s the present that matters a lot more. You have to exist in it.  This needs to be sorted out. I’m considering dropping to 3 classes for the semester, but that seems like I’ll be falling behind so hard. I’d rather not do a side project then not graduate – I don’t want to be in school for the rest of my 20’s, but I don’t want to kill myself getting through it. I did some math, and it’s gonna be 15 hours a week of class time. Following the general guideline of 2 hours of study time per class hour…45 hours a week? I think I can do it. I CAN DO IT. It’ll be crazy, but I CAN DO IT. But I have to switch my professor. Rant. Class. ended. More stuff below.

i’m working at a waste water engineering laboratory at school, which is kind of awesome. It’s great because the hours aren’t bad, yet, and there’s income. There’s amazing opportunity to learn and discover the world and the very real urban society we, or at least myself and the majority of people i know, exist in. We’ve been studying the removal of nitrogen species from the release of the plant, and it’s expensive as hell. The carriers we use are interesting, but they’re weird to use and require specific conditions. This could be very promising for existing plants, but you know, bureaucracy. I’ve learned so much about applied chemistry and physics, and how to function inside of a lab. I think that’s the best part, so I can bring my skills to the real world. It’s gonna be fun. This is a big deal, but the real big deal is the projects going on. 

The first big project is being on the board of directors of NYPIRG. I’m on the board of a not for profit. What even?! I don’t know how seriously I should take it, but I”m taking it pretty damn seriously. We’re doing some work, I don’t know if I’d call it great work. At least they’re not supporting fracking. I think combining this with the other thing that’s going on, fossil fuel divestment, would be way more fruitful. NYPIRG has the power to facilitate change across New York State, and they should be trying. Their resources would be crucial for organizing students all over the state, so the divestment movement can grow. They also have the ability to  unite students from everywhere in a common goal. Between them and the existing CUNY Divest group and the support of the REC, real change can happen. And not Obama change, but tangible consequences that my generation and future generations will feel. Word!

So Divestment is also a thing. It refers to the removal of funding from companies, in this case the top 200 fossil fuel companies. These funds are currently invested by the university endowment, the fund that is built by alumni donations. The CUNY endowment is somewhere in the $200 million range, and the divestment of the approximately 5% of its holdings in the industry would mean removing $10 million from some companies that really don’t need it. Well, they will. But we’re gonna take it away. YEAH! This effort is being contribute dot by a weird group of people that have a lot of potential, but need some organizing skills and ego cuts. The divestment movement has such potential, such incredible backing. We’re going to be working getting a website up among other ideas, which is going to be crucial to reaching out for 

The next thing going on is the e-waste drive. Electronic waste (ewaste) is full of useful materials, including rare earth materials. Also a ton of toxins. I want to start collecting them on campus and have them dealt with, reducing our footprint at school but also preventing a ton of junk from ending up in a land fill. NYPIRG, NYWEA, the Civil Engineering dept. and pretty much every department should be on top of this, and I’d like to see what can be done. yeah!

So a quick recap: Working at a waste water treatment lab, taking some science classes, doing e waste, doing divestment. 

This…is a lot for me. A lot of stuff is going on. I want to be a human being in between it and experience human emotions and have fun and interact and develop interpersonal relationships that aren’t solely based on our work in an area. I really appreciate Kira right now, because honestly she’s just awesome. She has a great perspective on life and her support is just…great. It’s just great. I think I had more stuff to say, I’m gonna stuff it or come back and say more stuff later. I would like everybody to try to be a better human.

Do stuff! When you think something’s a problem, fix it! Make your bed, clean your garden, make your town more friendly for the Earth, but go out there and DO SOMETHING.

subway couplets

A little dove

falling in love.

Doodling cartoons

and holding moons.

We walk at night

showing our might

without fear

without hope

drinking beer

and smoking dope.

Let’s make promises in bed

and giggle about being wed.

Curl up in in the mood

so I can show you my wood.

So be a lover baby,

and I”ll be your friend, maybe.

There’ll be a fairy

but don’t be wary.

Tell my why it’s so scary

and you’ll get a berry.

Let go of a fear of the dark

and I won’t be a fleeting lark.

It would be really nice

before it all turns to ice.

If i won’t end today

there’ll soon be a way.

So as the sun sets and it becomes dusk

let me smell your musk.

New Years and many things

It’s a New Year! There’s more time that’s passed since my consciousness reaslied itself. There’s more otters, grey wolves, and bald eagles. There’s also a lot more green house gasses in the atmosphere and a scary amount of pollutants. The environment’s serious. I take you seriously environment. For the celebration of the New Year we had a nice potluck dinner, with everything important to a potluck from food to pot. I had some chicken, potatoes, and rice, with some peppers and onions. So Tousif came over to cook all the food, preparing rice etc. Shortly before he came I had been showering and decided to snip some hair off with hair clippers. This worked out with a few awful dents in the back of my head and weird items on my head.

While Tousif was over I went into the bathroom and did some random trimming, which ended up with me shaving my whole head. I have a buzzcut. It’s fucking intense as hell, I look like Heisenberg or the kid brother in American History X. Doing this has given me a good look at the poor impulse control I have but also the fact you can do whatever you want. I CAN DO WHAT I WANTTTTTTTT. Mostly> Not really, but be reasonable and believe in your idealism.

While this has been happening I totally remembered a great story from a couple summers ago. It was the end of Junior year of highschool, and I was going out to take a walk and maybe meet some strange kids in my neighborhood. They’re great. The end.

Diffusing Ideas

Every few days, one of my friends will come over for a big dinner and maybe a movie. Tonight my good friend came over with some basics like chicken thighs and nacho chips so we could get a huge meal going, and we did! Cooking bonds us in a physical way while our minds digest each others ideas. Seriously I just love cooking it’s great. So we’ll make something simple but delicious, like baked chicken with spicy homefries and homemade bread. Preparing a meal an incredible way to connect, one can’t help but talk about it a bit. But what’s really cool is what we end up discussing each time. 

Tonight the general idea was International politics and American hegemony. The ideas shared are half formed and unorganized but are the basis of our ethics and our worldview. The economic power and military might the US exerts over many is unmatched. Go to any coutnry in the world and they know about the “land of the free” where the roads are paved of gold and you never go hugnry. it’s true, you shouldn’t go hungry in the land of abundance and plenty. Afterall, that’s what it was founded on right? Abundance and material wealth. People look up to the US, our culture penetrates everywehre. Hollywood produces our films, and our music penetrates every nation. American artists are internationally recognized, and our record labels dominate the world. The financial industry is owned byt he US, from Goldman to Citi. Windows is the dominant computer market this world over, and android or iOS dominates the mobile market. 

The US has an incredible amount of influence, but why is our domestic situation collapsing. The largest incarceration rate in the world with 743 of every 100,000 people in prison. The implications of that are incredible! There’s more people in prison here than ANY OTHER NATION in the world, including China. Our government can’t pass a budget?! We had millions of people unemployed, the OSHA and EPA essentially shut down, and some of the most scenery in the world closed down because men in suits dominated by ignorance, racism, and money couldn’t decide how to fund the nation? it’s a joke and a sad one too, with no punchline. What kind of power can we express over another nation if we can’t get our shit together here. 

Last week a kid got away with a DUI, underage intoxication, theft, and a quadruple manslaughter charge by pleading “affluenza.” Too rich to be convicted of murder? Really?! Frustration and anger is building, as it should be. Massive social change should come. It may not, but it should. The president allowed a massive pipeline to be built, bisecting the continental United States, so that a company could dump tar sands into Texas and refine them for sales overseas. The environmental cost is staggering, as is the actual cost of the pipeline. Why is that being allowed? Why is the blatant propaganda on “jobs” being bought? 

information has to be disseminated and the public informed. Fuck disorganized ranting and mumbling incoherent thoughts, the people need to know the issues. Time for some goddamn change, not some jerk in a suit. Ideas were gonna be diffused here. Cooking was done and ideas were discussed! Maybe I just get angry when I discuss them. I suggest going out and discussing issues with your friends and neighbors, spread the word. For reals.