Wednesday, May 20, 2009

pomp and circumstance

Last week, another proud Purdue astronaut went on a spacewalk to fix the great old Hubble, and Mark Polansky and David Wolf will be tweeting in orbit next week. And this past weekend, while Giggsy and the guys were wrapping up the race for the title, some 1300 proud boiler engineers launched over Mr. Markov’s arc to move on to the next state after an approximately short 5.1 years of sojourn time here in WL. Symbolic ceremonies are always hassle packed, but I think I like this one, so, maybe I should go to a few more. I was not planning on going at first, but my mom insisted. I think my mom didn’t go to her commencement ceremony when she got her degree, and I doubt that my dad went to any of his, except for his PhD maybe.

shitty iPhone camera

Sorry I don’t have much pictures to show because everybody else were busy with their families, I didn’t hire a professional because I have no money, and because of the recent swine flu hit, everybody seemed to prefer to keep their distance. Heck, we were even told not to shake hands on stage, just a simple hat tap was allowed. Man, this pig flu is annoying. And i should've really gone with the flops and shorts instead.

Anyways, it sure feels good to get this part of life done with. Honestly, I never thought I was going to make it this far. Talking about going to a tough program, this is where your best hasn’t been and never will be good enough (unless you’re one of those geniuses who gets a 90% when the class average is 35%); I got my first C the first semester my freshman year, and the first D the first semester my sophomore year. 2 of my first matsaleh friends switched to management school the second semester our freshmen year and a couple of our Malaysian friends got kicked out of school a couple of semesters in. So, to say that the past 4 years have been fun wouldn’t be that accurate, but it was really humbling (well, there’s nothing more humbling than having your 1st semester GPA telling you “You’re not really that smart enough to be here Mr.!!!!” right in your face). But Alhamdulillah, I’m just happy I managed to get through this.

Ok, this is the bell tower. It is a very well known fact that it is very hard to get out of here on time with the paper, that they have this legend. There’s a seal under the bell tower, and it is said to be cursed, and any student who walks across the seal will not graduate in four years. So, it is practical enough to see these engineering nerds take the longer path (walking around the tower), instead of the shortest one (walking under and through it), because the practice is much more feasible. By the way, I think I can ask for something very expensive from my dad since I manage to graduate before turning 22, it’s just this thing we had when I was younger.

As for the ceremony itself, I think everyone enjoyed the speeches and the music. Everything was simply fantastic. But I can’t help myself from thinking on how penat it is to put on a smile like that through all the whole 4 sessions in all the 3 days, madam president, you’re the best!!!!

So, now what? I should go seek for the self, seek for some enlightenment. Maybe I should pack up some Tolstoy’s and see what I might find in Alaska. Or I should go see the Dalai Lama and see what this orang-biasa has to say. Or I should join a Pondok school, and get that part of the self filled in a bit. Or maybe you people can donate me some money, so I can go on a 1 month trip across Europe. Or maybe, I should just stop thinking………

Ahhhh… it feels good to wake up and having to think of nothing (for a while at least, carpe diem as the imam and Robin Williams would say). By the way, thank you to those who came in the morning in place of the family, haha…. And thanks for the presents (people get colognes for graduation? And I’m still trying to figure out how to get this one humongous chocolate block down my stomach)

And as for the farewell parties, you just can’t beat the feast, Mick, a guy I knew from football, threw out; we were served with 2 whole roasted lambs Saudi style, just like the one Anthony Bourdain had, it was awesome. And Japanese with the Koreans was great, and the one in Cactus was OK I guess, but I left early.

We should go fishing.

Durden T., BSIE
-bum in training-

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"A kid? I smoke, I snort. I've killed and robbed. I'm a man. "

Let’s start out with a riddle;

“Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?”

Read on for the answer.

Anyway, let’s talk Greek. So, it’s amazing on how one very uncommon word can pop up and be discussed one too many times in a span of a month.

A couple of weeks ago, professor J, my sociology professor, invited me over for some second hand smoke; I was passing this bench under the tree where he will sit everyday without fail, summer or winter, sun or snow, for his nicotine and caffeine fix, when he called me over to join him. I think the majority of his students like him; lecturing in 501 jeans and crewneck t-shirt, Freud jokes, and most importantly, he knows how to teach. I was in his class 2 summers ago, the only 'foreigner' and the only engineering major in the class, and the only one who scored above 94% in all the exams (no wonder these people from the other side of campus hate us so much, haha); so, that was how we first got acquainted.

Anyways, we talked quite a bit about everything, from how he still doesn’t get how soccer is the world’s most famous sport, and why baseball isn’t, to his ebony general physician girlfriend from Chicago, to Eastern people’s mentality, to what I think I will be doing after school. So, we jumped about everything for about half an hour, with him dominating most of the conversation with the different theories and quotes from about everyone famous enough.

Then we came to ‘peripeteia’. It started when he was telling me on how easier it’s going to be for someone like me who has no particular passion for about anything. At least he said, I won’t be wasting my time thinking of the things I want to do, but instead, I could just go on with the flow, and discover. But, analyzing is still important, because we don’t want to come to a point in which Aristotle calls a tragedy. So, from there on, he was giving me literature, drama and film lessons, from Hamlet to Oedipus Rex.

(A quick disclaimer, I’ve never really studied the story, so, the facts might not be quite right.)

So, King Oedipus’s story is about this king who was adopted by another royal family from another state, after he was abandoned in a field as an infant instead of being killed as suggested by the oracle his father consulted. Then, once he grew older, he went to see the Delphic oracle, and he was told that he was destined to mate his own mother and kill his own sire. So, desperate to escape his foretold fate, he ran away, not knowing that the king and queen of the state were only his adopted parents.

While on the road, he got in a quarrel with this man on who has the right of passage on a one lane road, which ended in Oedipus killing the man, unaware of the fact that the man he killed is actually his real father. Thus, the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled. And he went on with his journey and entered the city of Thebes.

And before he could enter the city, he was stopped by the smoking hot Sphinx, who guarded the entrance to the city. The Sphinx, known for her riddles, told Oedipus the riddle mentioned earlier. And being a bright king, he managed to solve it; man was the answer, he crawls as a child, walks on 2 legs when old enough, and some will need the assistance of a walking stick at an older age (maybe there weren’t any wheelchairs yet back then, so, the Sphinx left the wheel part out). The Sphinx, so distraught to find someone smarter than she was, killed herself by jumping off the cliff, marking the day on which the zoomorphic species got extinct.

With the Sphinx dead, Thebes was free from the Sphinx’s curse once and for all. Being delighted and all, they awarded Oedipus the kingship, and he married the queen, who is actually his biological mother; the second part of the prophecy, fulfilled. They should have really visited a genetic expert before getting married….

Long story short, Oedipus realized everything (who his biological parents were) when he was trying to solve the case of the murdering of Laius, his wife’s former husband, the former king of Thebes, his biological father. The whole mystery was solved when the shepherd who left Oedipus in the field as an infant who was also the sole witness of the killing of Laius by Oedipus was called to the floor.

And that very moment when Oedpius realized that the woman he was having babies with all this while was actually his biological mother, is called peripetia.

A sudden realization after a tragedy, a turning point maybe. You can always check the dictionary for a more complete and precise definition.

And the story of Hamlet, you can find that yourselves.

The next week after that small pep talk with Professor J, I was talking to my sister on the phone, when we ended up talking about peripetia. And I think you got it right, Freud called his sick idea Oedipus complex.

And last night, after some casual volleyball and basketball at the rec, I was browsing through the videos on TED for some motivation. And I found Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. Enjoy the video. The earlier part of the talk has a little touch of Chuck-Palahniuk-reading-Guts on it. And he explains the idea of perepeteia very well.

Enough with Aristotle and the Sphinx. Why is it when we talk about passion and love, we always talk about the arts? We talk about the neurotic painter’s passion being reflected and infused in the disturbing abstract of the art he scribbled and nibbled on the piece of square canvas. How about all the doctors, engineers, math teachers and marketing people? And why do these oracles have to talk in riddles and kiasan all the time?

And at last, I’m done with the jacking up the efficiency project. The company having already saved at least $180,000 a year by having unpaid college students coming up with that kind of possible solution, with a possibility of doubling their production at 75% of the cost, memang cilake la kalau tak bagi A.

Yesterday was a special day, with the rain complementing the mood, groups of students screaming after each class session, and some were already seen giving hugs to friends, for goodbyes … it was interesting. Yesterday was the last day of class for the semester.

Cita-cita baru minggu ini......... nak jadi Chuck Yeager.

by the way, the title is a quote by Steak-and-Fries from Cidade de Deus (City of God)..... hmmmm... kena belajar hisap rokok....

X-men on Monday?