I Want to Believe

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My dear sister,

We congratulate you on your extraordinary image editing skills and for granting us permission to post these here:

Iwanttobelieveinmolly

MollyolyThis is our dog Molly, in places she shouldn’t be, namely on a UFO and in front of the TARDIS.  Bravo, Sis!  You need to get your own blog and post more Molly pictures.

For the inspiration behind this, I encourage you to check out David Tennant in Places He Shouldn’t Be, even if you’re not a Whovian.

And just because, I figured I’d have a little fun following my last Chemistry test rant:

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Periodic table image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Have a good evening!

Different Names for the Same Thing… Or Not

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An unexpected day off from school… Faculty Research Day they call it.  My Chemistry professor says most of them go home and research their pillows.

So, I figured I’d write a bit about something I’ve been thinking about lately.  I promise this isn’t just an excuse to quote Death Cab.  Language is a strange thing.  Besides any grammatical oddities and irregularities (especially in English), language can say a lot about a culture, and dialects about a region, and choice of expression about people.

For example, the French have two words, “rivière” and “fleuve”, for what anglophones simply know as “river”.  For some reason unbeknownst to the Window Philosopher, the French think it important to make a distinction between rivières, which flow into other other rivières or into fleuves, and fleuves, which flow directly into the sea.  (We may never know…)  I’ve been around long enough to know that when people pronounce Appalachia like they’re “gonna throw an apple at’cha”, they’re probably from Appalachia, whereas people who pronounce it… The Other Way, are generally outsiders.  And I automatically tend to like people who greet me with, “Salutations!”, although they are few and far between.

While I haven’t much desire to have “river” split into two words for the English speaking world, there is one word, one we use all the time, that we have in my opinion quite misguidedly lumped into one term.  That word is love.  Seriously, it has become a catch-all term for romantic love, friendship, familial love, affection in general, really liking something, admiration, etc.  Some of these just use love as a synonym, but when you tell someone you love them, the only things that distinguish the type of love you mean from the type of love you have for pizza are conversational and social context.

The ancient Greeks had it right.  They had four words for what we call love, which makes a heck of a lot of sense.  Agape is pure, altruistic love.  Eros is romantic love, passion.  Philia is loyal, virtuous love towards friends and family.  Storge is natural affection, camaraderie.  Each of these things is important.  Each one needs its own word.  Perhaps it says something about our priorities that we only have one word for all of them.  Unfortunately I doubt there’s much of a way to change it though.

Written and spoken language in general will never be perfect.  It’s so hard to say what it is we truly mean, to find the right word, the defined term, the mot juste.  As I’ve said before, I wish we could speak using music and be able to comprehend more than a beautiful but vague emotion.  I feel like that’s kind of the message of that Death Cab song when it says “The boundaries of language I quietly cursed / All the different names for the same thing”.

But despite the limits of words, people are able to do amazing things with them.  Such poetry has been written as to make the soul soar.  The combination of music and words can be intense, uplifting, thought-provoking, sorrowful.  Words are something we cannot escape from.  Nor should we want to.  In this world, really, nothing is perfect.  Words aren’t perfect, and we can’t use them perfectly, but they can paint such masterpieces without making a single brushstroke.  And that is just freaking cool.

From the Turn of the Century

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Hey there everybody.  Welcome to another album review from The Window Philosopher.  And yes, I know it’s more Death Cab, but I haven’t reviewed this one yet, and for some reason I enjoy doing these.  So here we go.

Actually, before we do, I’d like to explain a little scoring system with graphics I made up and kind of like. For now I’ll point out a few pieces of it:

  • Two plusses (++) means exceptional.
  • One plus (+) means quite good.
  • A dash (-) or just letters means passable.

In addition, I add letters for if the thing in question does something particularly well:

  • [p] means there were particular songs or sections I would score higher.
  • [i] means thought-provoking, which can apply to books and in songs, the lyrics or the music itself.

So, with that in mind, here you are:

We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes

by Death Cab for Cutie+pi

Barsuk Records (2000)

“This is my last defense.”

Recommended.  Thought-provoking with some particularly good moments in the second half.

The appeal to much of Death Cab for Cutie’s early work lies in its somewhat unpolished emotion and energy.  This unpolished aspect can be a good thing if done correctly, and in We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, Death Cab has found a balance that Something About Airplanes lacked, as well as an intriguing album title.

DCfC is still in the process of maturing in their sophomore release, so it could definitely be more polished than it is.  However, We Have the Facts contains both some of their most aggressive songs and some of their quietest.  Things especially kick into gear on the second half, with “Company Calls” and “Company Calls Epilogue” providing some color contrast.  “No Joy in Mudville” is an effective conveyance of defeat, and “Scientist Studies” leaves the listener somewhat impressed with their choice of how to end the album.

Overall, for Death Cab, this is a promising hint of further accomplishment.  For turn of the century indie albums, this is a definite classic.  For those who aren’t fans of later Death Cab, you might like it better, or you might find it weird.

Earworm: Natural Anthem

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Natural Anthem – The Postal Service

Having a song stuck in my head with a four minute long intro is a little annoying.  But I didn’t choose for it to be there, and it’s a neat song.  And while it’s a little repetitive, it doesn’t just stay still; it grows.  And I like the lyrics.

But seriously, YouTubers, do you really think that pointing out that the video (which is just a picture of the album art) is HD makes it a good one?  The video resolution here is entirely irrelevant; it is the audio quality that matters.  Or am I supposed to stare in awe at its high-res glory instead of listening to the song?  I still don’t know.

Happy Wednesday everybody.  Enjoy the music.

Beyond

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Gasp!  Now he’s done it!

“What, what, who’s done what?”

This, this, I’ve done this.  What’s this?  Posted twice in one night.  In one hour.  Well world, get over it.  I dunno when the next time I’ll have a chance to write is.  So here I am.

I have for some time been considering posting my poetry here.  I’ve finally decided against making a separate blog for it, despite the fact that it would give me the freedom of a different blog skin more suited to the form.  *sigh*  So here it is.  My latest completed attempt at poetry.  It’s not perfection, but it is practice.  It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s mine.  So there you go.  ;)

I can’t think of anything else interesting to say about it, so here it is:

Beyond

Open those bright eyes.
Gripping my coffee mug
For its warmth I stare
At the rain, as great clouds
Loom over my world.

I shouldn’t feel this tired
Yet; it’s not yet noon.
Still, I can see clearly
That the sun sleeps not,
Piercing through the downpour
To paint the parked cars
Silver like the asphalt.

A sparrow flits past,
Awakened by the breeze
That nudges the leaves
Rousing them from their sleep:
“Open those bright eyes!”
Shouting, the rain redoubles
Its headlong descent.

What irony that Earth
Is brighter out there
Than within these walls with
Spotlights built to last
But seconds against the Earth’s
Deep relentless sky.

I glance at you to find
You already know
The plan I have in mind
Of a world beyond
Safe and dry, meaningless
Rigmaroles, raincoats.

Smile, take my hand in yours,
Laughing at long last,
Drenched to the skin; who cares.
With our eyes open wide
The waters dissolve
Our worries and fatigue,
And this silent war
Forgotten, I can face
The world, fearlessly.

Weekend

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Weekend.  The week ends, as it always does.  On occasion though, it can sometimes seem as though the week is just beginning.  I must say, for myself it has been a crazy one.  But I think there are lessons to be learned from it.

The story begins on Thursday night, as I sat in the basement with all the lights off listening to Jars of Clay and wondering where sanity went.  My schedule is a mess.  My room is a mess.  Deadlines loom ever taller like some sort of annoying breed of giants.  And I wasn’t sure when I would get a moment to journal or collect my thoughts.  It’s not like I’m a victim of anyone but me; I manage my time for better or for worse after all.  Still, it gets quite easy to feel down, and unclear how to feel otherwise.

That is why I feel quite undeserving about the weekend that resulted.  Friday evening I guest accompanied two songs for a fundraiser/concert at my church with our choir director as soloist.  It went very well, and was a very enjoyable concert in general.  And I had fun, despite the fact that said choir director sort of drafted me into singing “Panis Angelicus” as a duet just that morning.  And everyone was very kind and supportive of the whole affair, though I was still worried about the fact that Saturday was to be completely consumed with events quite unconstructive to studying history.

Saturday I took the SAT, which was long, but intensive thinking is good exercise I think.  Then we drove 50 minutes to the City of One Way Streets where my sister was singing in a concert there for another choir.  And it really was a nice afternoon, with myself, Dad, and Sis (Mom was out of town), shoving off from the College of the Magnificent Auditorium around 3:30, and wondering what to do for four hours before the concert.  The logical choice was to hit Book-A-Million for the next hour and a half, though we didn’t end up buying anything.

We just wasted an hour and a half.

Calm down, Luke, you didn’t waste it if you were with your father and sister.

After dinner, the majority vote was to visit Starbucks.  I’ve only ever been to Starbucks twice, but it has proven itself a neat place both times.  And I was overjoyed that the guy at the counter made a Star Wars reference using my name that wasn’t the same somewhat annoying one every one else has ever made.  (Random strangers seem to think I will believe that they are my father if they tell me so, including women.  I never thought I looked that gullible.)  So him saying “may the Force be with you” was probably the highlight of my day.

So then was the concert.  It was with an orchestra, and it was wonderful.  The pinnacle was that they were performing Holst’s The Planets, which I have never heard live.  And the choir came in on the last movement and was very ethereal and mysterious and floaty.  And I quite lost myself in the piece.  It was harder than usual, with my English paper popping into my head frequently at the beginning, but by the end, it was all music.

Saturday night I don’t think the coffee had quite worn off by the time I got to bed.  It was hard to get to sleep, and the worry was at least as bad as on Thursday, though momentary.  Why?  I’d just been to two awesome concerts in the same number of days.

It was listening to stupid, depressing old Death Cab for Cutie on the way home.

No it wasn’t.  Death Cab is melancholy.  Not depressing.  *sigh*  And for heaven’s sake, internet, THEY’RE NOT EMO.  Not really.  If at all rarely.

It’s because you wasted all of Saturday.

Is it?

Sunday was the Day of the Lord in more ways than just going to Mass.  In the afternoon we drove nearly two hours to the city of Christiansburg (how appositely named) where Mom had been helping to lead a spritual retreat over the weekend.  At the end of these retreats, there’s always a small celebration for the retreatants, and it was so amazing to see how on fire they were, how much the weekend had inspired them.  It was inspiring to see here, proof of God’s love, earlier that day in the sacrament of the Eucharist, later that afternoon in fellowship and joy in the fact that God loves us.  Like, the one who created the universe and has granted us life also loves us and will save us from death no matter how many times we may fail Him.  HOW COOL IS THAT?

And in the evening as well, just the four of us, a family, together again at Cracker Barrel.  I rode with Dad to the restaurant, and then abandoned him to ride home with Mom.  Because it’s nice to talk to one’s mother again after 72 long hours.  We rode onwards,  and I managed to only occasionally upset Sis with my choice of music.  (Hey, I was riding shotgun.  And I didn’t play any Switchfoot.  Give me some credit here.)

So, did I get much work done on my 1500 word history paper with 8 sources, my much shorter English paper, or review for midterms in three different classes?  No.  But was there much I could do about it?  Was I a prisoner?

No.  I was only as much a prisoner as I let myself be.  This weekend was a gift from God.  There wasn’t anything I could do about it, but sulking through it and losing sleep (beyond that lost via coffee) would have been pointless.  It wouldn’t have granted me any more time.  So, I did what I could.  I accepted the fact, and tried to let it be a blessing.  And it was.  It was.

That’s the lesson I think.  Sometimes you can’t stop bad things happening.  And sometimes you can’t stop good things happening either.  But no matter what happens, trust God and let His will be done.  Whatever happens happens for a reason, and He is looking out for you.  Everything will turn out in the end.

Now, back to that history paper…

Community Input Requested

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Hey there everybody.  Happy Friday.

So, I’ve been sort of thinking about this blog, and what it means to me or to others, and how I ought best to use it; and I feel like I ought to get input from the people that read this blog at least regularly enough to see this post.  After all, without you guys I would be talking to no one, or to myself.

I sort of feel like my posts have been a little silly of late.  Sillyness is fine, but I’d like to just lock myself in my room and write something really meaningful from time to time.  Those would be more infrequent posts, but then I like the twice a week almost-pattern I have now.

So I dunno.  Or, I have a general idea.  But I want to hear your opinion, my dear readers, if you don’t mind.  Even if you think I ought to be able to figure this out myself… I’d appreciate it.  What do you like about the Window Philosopher?  Which posts would you rather skip over?  What can I do better?  That sort of thing.

And two specifics.  I’ve been thinking about posting some of my poetry on here… (it is what it is)… but I wonder if maybe I should make a separate blog for it?  I don’t want to get Multiple Blog Syndrome, but still…  Thoughts?  Secondly, I’ve been considering “spring cleaning” the archives, just deleting old posts I don’t particularly love and that no one has commented on.  Do you think this is a bad idea or a reasonable one?

Comments comments comments.  The comment box is open.  Open the floodgates.  And thank you all bunches and bunches for your time and for reading this old blog.  :)  It’s been an adventure, and no doubt will continue to be.

Cheers.