Letter Writing

Posted in Uncategorized on 2009/07/01 by jackspumpkinpatch

When was the Last time you wrote a letter?  Bills and Birthday cards aside, when was the last time you even mailed something?  Maybe it’s not that long ago for some Middle aged or older people, but my generation really doesn’t deal with postage of the non electronic variety all that often.

Recently I’ve taken to letter writing again.  Now not all that often, as I’ve mentioned, I am a very strong advocate and consumer of modern technology, Where I can talk to China in seconds with just the click of a few buttons.  But every so often it is nice to revert to simpiler, more elegant ways.  When I use the term “recently” I actually mean within the last two years since I joined the Marine Corps.  Before that I think the last time I wrote a letter(that wasn’t a card or thank you note) was before I was even a teenager and I would spend my summers at my Grandparent’s house in Vermont.  They didn’t have a computer.

At Boot camp Letter writing becomes your only means of communication to the outside world for three months.  So I wrote letters.  And other people wrote me letters.  I’m not sure why, but I didn’t stop after boot camp.  One night, maybe two or tree months after I had finished bootcamp, while sitting in my room, bored, I took out a notepad and began to write a letter to a friend.  That friend responded and we continued the cycle, occasionally droping a note to a different friend.

I know this hardly seems practical.  It’s not like I cut off all other forms of communication with my friends and family.  In fact usually my friend and I would converse a number of times through e-mail, instant message, test message, phone conversations in between these letters.  Though there did seem to be certain topics we would save just for the letters.  There’s a different kind of feeling when recieving a hand written letter from a friend.  It’s sort of sureal because it’s dated 3 or 4 days before hand.  You get to see the familiar handwriting of a friend. (or in my case try to decipher what I have scribbled on the page) It’s very raw and not always as clean as clearly typed, well spaced, perfectly straight lines.  It’s got character.  One of my friends even drew me a diagram once, of a particularly humorous incident that had occured.  Could all this have been conveyed through a keyboard and transmitted in seconds?  Sure, I guess.  The meaning would have been there.  I would have understood it.  But it would not have been the same.  It wouldn’t have had the hesitation marks of a pen when someone is trying to organize their thoughts into words that can only be written so fast.  It wouldn’t have had the scribbling out of misspelled words or changes of thought.  It wouldn’t have had the eraser marks or the smudges of the pencil lead, or the shading or the color or the detail.  It would have lacked the essential minut imperfections that we take one glance at and say “hey, this was created by another person.”  A person who spent time and effort and thought, not pumped out by some machine.

The Devil is in the details.  If the details didn’t matter we would not have half the things we do today.  We wouldn’t have paintings or drawings today if we didn’t care to see the brushstrokes, the shading, the texturing and other things that let us know that this thing took another human being time and effort to create.  We would just hang photographs on our walls.  We wouldn’t read thousand page books or watch three hour long movies if we were content with just comprehending the main message or idea or plot of the story.  We would just read a one page summary and move on.

I got a letter earlier this week from a friend and the first line he wrote was “Way to keep the dieing art of letter writing alive!!”  I encourage you to partake in this dieing Art too.  Sure postage keeps going up, but it doesn’t have to be that often, and it’s still cheaper than your internet bill.

Foaming Soap

Posted in Uncategorized on 2009/06/18 by jackspumpkinpatch

Sometimes Memories come from places besides my Sidebar.  Tonight one came to me in my bathroom, when I spotted my half empty bottle of Soap next to my sink.

dialcomplete

This isn’t your ordinary liquid hand soap.  This has real live Foaming Action!  I know it doesn’t seem that special.  It isn’t really.  I mean don’t get me wrong, I like it.  It works well and even smells good.  But this story isn’t about the soap.  I was once given a bottle of this soap by a friend who notice there wasn’t any in the bathroom my brother and I shared.  Actually she is more like a stranger than a friend.  I hardly know her.  I’ve probably only met her about five times in my life, or at least times that I remember.  (Once is enough for anyone to remember her by)

The First Time I met her, I was in 11th grade.  She came down from Vermont with my Mom’s Brother and two Sisters to visit for a week.  She was a little odd at first, but I liked her by the end of the week.  She is absolutely hysterical.  I think our family laughed more in that week than we have in our whole lives. ( and my family laughs a lot.)   One day she and my Mom and Aunts went out shopping and She decided she was going to get gifts for everyone in the family.  They weren’t big gifts, in fact I think some of them were gag gifts, I don’t really remember what the other ones were.  Mine was this soap.  I think it cost all of $1.  She confessed that she really just had no idea what to get a teenage boy and she noticed that we were out of soap in the bathroom and thought this stuff was cool because it foamed.  I really thought it was kinda cool too because I’d not seen foaming had soap before and like I said, it worked well.  But it wasn’t the gifts that counted.  It was the Thought and in this case the resulting laughter that accompanied many of the other gifts.  I don’t remember a whole lot more from that visit.  It was the summer so I was in and out of the house a lot, spending time with friends.  I do remember playing cards, laughing, going out for ice cream every night, laughing, Dad taking them to Philadelphia for a day, laughing and her learning the Greek alphabet so she could help Dad by alphabetizing his flashcards for one of his Seminary classes.

After that visit I think I have seen her 2 or 3 other times while visiting my Grandparents in Vermont.  Yet I still remember her because of her unique personality and the way that she lives her life.  Here is what I know about my friend.

She is a friend of the family.  She Lives in Massachusetts where she works at a FedEx.  She also has a house in Vermont, where she stays when she visits my relatives up there.  She likes to eat ice cream and play cards.  She has gotten my Grandfather to play cards with the Family again after at least 10 years of sitting in the living room watching wrestling alone.  She once took a trip to England and FedExed her luggage because with her employee discount it was cheaper than paying baggage fees on the plane.  I don’t think everyone finds that as entertaining as I do, it makes sense, I just find it unique and funny.  And like I said already, while on Vacation for a week in Pennsylvania, she learned the Greek Alphabet so that she could help my father out by alphabetizing about 1000 flash cards while he worked during the day.

That’s it.  I just summed up what I know about my friend in 7 sentences.  Yet I think those Seven sentences speak volumes for the Person that she is.  She’s not afraid of travel, and will travel a pretty considerable distance just to play cards and eat ice cream with friends for a night or two.  I don’t know exactly how she convinced my Grandfather to socially interact with the family again after so long of not doing so.  I do know that it took time, and determination on her part to keep bugging him about it every time she visited.  When is that last time you took a weeks vacation and said “you know what, I think I’ll learn a foreign language.”  and then spent a lot of time putting flash cards in order just to help out a friend who you know didn’t’ have the time but it would really benefit their learning.

I feel privileged to have met someone who lives such a Full Life.  And I wish that more people in this world led lives like she does.

Technology

Posted in Uncategorized on 2009/05/17 by jackspumpkinpatch

I absolutely love technology. I can’t count how many times a day I just take a quick moment to marvel at the technology available to us today. You should try it some time. It doesn’t take long, just a moment. Let me give you some examples.

This morning I got up and checked my facebook.  My Friend Danny, who lives across the country from where I am now, left me this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP5y7yp06n0

I took a moment and marveled and said, that’s amazing.  So I went to find out more.  First at Microsoft’s website ( http://www.microsoft.com/surface/ ) and then of course at Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_surface)  While I was reading about this thing, I started instant messaging another friend who was with a bunch more of my friends across the country.  We stopped just typing to each other and instead did a real-time video chat in which about 7 of my friends that were 1700miles away could see and talk to me with about a half a second of delay.  That’s absolutely incredible.  But it gets better.  While that was going on, I was listening to various songs that were recorded a long time ago by different artists, in different parts of the World.  AND I was getting information about the weather outside from a little program on my sidebar, while looking at pictures of the trip my parents took to Hawaii two years ago.  Not to sound like a bad infomercial, But Wait There’s More!  After I finished my video conversation, I continued chatting with my friend through text on Instant Messenger.  She asked me when a movie that came up in our conversation came out, and I didn’t know, but I found it in seconds.  We changed subjects to a friend of mine to who is going to be in Oklahoma soon.  While still chatting, researching, listening to music and looking at pictures, I found that the place in Oklahoma was about 5hours north of me and I found turn by turn directions that would take me on the 300 mile trip if, I wanted.  After that, I checked my bank account to see how much money I had spent yesterday at the store and how much I still had left in my account.  Then I moved on to the news for today, to see what was going on all over the world, within minutes of the events taking place.  If that’s not multi-tasking, I don’t know what is.  Sitting in a chair in the corner of a lounge on the third floor of a building in the middle of San Angelo Texas, I can accomplish all of that with just my laptop computer sitting on my lap.  I don’t even have shoes on.  Yet I just traveled to the corners of the globe and back, in seconds.

I’d like to share another video with you that an instructor showed me in High School.  It has gone through several versions now.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpEnFwiqdx8&feature=related

How incredible (or incredibly scary) is that?

But all this technology can be a double edged sword if we let it.  As far as we’ve come, there are somethings we will never be able to replicate.  I love communicating with my friends and family who are far away, but my laptop screen can’t replace sitting down at a restraunt and having a conversation with them over dinner.

technology is incredibly efficient.  It almost always makes our lives easier.  But one must manage this power wisely.  Today I spent 6 straight hours on a computer.  In high school I would spend days.  Do you know what you can do in Days?  I didn’t used to, but I do now.  You can drive across the country in Days.  You can build a whole house, or have countless other adventours in Days.  We have to remember to get out and really live and experience the world sometimes.

eye contact

Posted in Uncategorized on 2009/03/14 by jackspumpkinpatch

Do you ever think it’s weird that we have two eyes? I mean sure lots of things have two eyes, and they are great for giving us depth perception and such but I guess what I’m getting at is do you ever think it’s weird that we can’t move our eyes individually?

Take Lizards for example, or any animal that has a large enough space between it’s eyes that it sees two separate pictures. If I want to, why can’t I look both directions before crossing the street without moving my head?

I know most of my blog entries seem kinda random, but that’s sorta what this is, a place for spontaneous, random thoughts to flourish and see what they grow into.

This came about today while I was doing speaking practice with my teacher. I don’t remember when, but from an early age I was taught that you should look someone in the eye(s) when you talk to someone. Maybe it’s that whole window to the soul thing, but it also projects confidence and show you are listening. So why can’t I look someone in the eyes, both, at the same time? Which eye do you focus on? I tend to go for the right one(my right, the person’s left) however I like to switch between the two periodically so that they know I’m not just spacing out, which happens too, occasionally. Do you ever start spacing out and feel like you’re looking right through a person’s eyes and out the back of their head?

brain cells

Posted in Uncategorized on 2009/02/23 by jackspumpkinpatch

lots of things kill brain cells.  Drinking, holding your breath til you pass out, standing on your head, sucking in the helium from balloons, you can probably name some more that you were told as a child( or discovered as an adult).  But have you ever thought what if you killed the wrong one?

What if you spent one night out partying, drinking and standing on your head with some friends and then the next morning you woke up and couldn’t talk.  Or maybe you killed the cell that reverses the image your eyes take in so you see everything upside down.  Or you can’t move your left thumb.  or you can’t remember your best friend’s name.  wouldn’t that be bizarre?

Now I know there are trillions of cells in your brain and things like this just aren’t possible, but it does make one think a little more about taking care of one’s brain.  I don’t know about you but I rather like the abilities I have and am quite fond of the knowledge and memories I have amassed thus far.  It’d be terrible if I suddenly lost them, more so than just having forgotten them over time.

Bucket list

Posted in Uncategorized on 2009/02/22 by jackspumpkinpatch

a While ago one of my friends asked me if I had a bucket list, you know, a list of things you would like to do before you kick the bucket.  I did have a little note written with some long term goals on it, but I decided I liked that title so much I renamed my note and expanded upon it a little too.

Most of the things are kinda random, but there are about four that I consider very connected.  They are Drive the Pan-American Highway, Hike the Appalachian trail, Travel the world(perhaps circumnavigate it) and learn some more languages.  They all involve traveling, but the first two specifically mention a set journey or route to be completed, they aren’t as vague as just travel Somewhere.

I’ve always found stories of epic journeys fascinating, but I’m not sure why.  The Lord of the Rings is a prime example.  I don’t think I am looking for the transformation that seems to be required for a “good” novel but that may be part of it.  I just think the experiences one can have on these trips cannot be replicated and perhaps its part having the satisfaction of saying you’ve completed something your average person only reads about in books.  The new Languages part I think would probably not tie into my two intended journeys, but I bet my spanish would improve on the Pan-American highway one.

Perhaps some of the appeal comes from the break from reality, or at least normal everyday life.  In Lord of the Rings, Frodo just sets off on an adventure leaving behind his normal routine for a whole year!  I’ve heard the Appaliachian trail can take about 4 months to hike, and I kinda like thinking of that as an extended vaction, though I can’t imagine when I will have the time and money to complete it.  The Pan-American Highway one could take a lot less time depending on how long you visited in each country, probably only a month or so, but still, how many people can just take a months vacation and go do whatever they want?  I think I’ll find a way…eventually.  Wanna come?

Will Power

Posted in Uncategorized on 2009/02/13 by jackspumpkinpatch

I am not a morning person.  I don’t think I every have been and I’m fairly certain I never will be.  That’s not to say I don’t get up early.  When I have to, I can get out of bed very early in the morning, I just won’t like it.  This is because I have a surprising amount of Will power.  I think I always have, but I’m not really sure where it came from.  Bootcamp can deffinitly instill it in you and I think it strengthened mine, but I had some before.

One thing I can never comprehend is how weak some other people’s will power is.  Something as easy as getting out of bed, sure you don’t like it, but your ability to make yourself do it anyways says something about you and your character I think.  It helps you set goals and persue them in every aspect of your life.  It’s like your own personal Drive or Motiviation.

I have read a lot about a thing called the Uberman sleep cycle.  it seems intense, but I would like to try it sometime.  It forces your body into REM sleep faster, but only allowing you to sleep for 20 minutes at a time, but you take a nap every 4 hours.  Its recommended for college students since they can make their schedual work on that cycle while most other people require being awake for more than 4 hour spurts.  It is very difficult to fall into because you basically starve your body for sleep at first since you will not fall asleep in these 20 minute time slots.  All of the blogs I have read of people who have tried it but failed seemed to be lacking will power to me.  They just couldn’t manage to let their body only sleep for 20 minutes, they would oversleep and screw the whole cycle up.

I learned at a conference that Will is considered a Force multipler in the government.  If someone has the Drive to complete an objective, they will overcome extreme obstacles.  In the military this is true too.  If you can get a force to believe in the cause in which they are fighting for, they are not longer risking comfort, blood and life itself for money, or anyother superficial thing.  They are fighting for a cause in which they believe in down to their bones, and they will fight to the death and beyond to achieve it.

The Human mind is so powerful, it can push the body to do things that every reflex, muscle memory operation and instince positively resists.  Survival enthusiets say that the Will to Survive is key in emergency situations.  If someone wants to Survive, they will.  If they don’t, they’ll die.  So why to some people have such strong Will Power and other’s don’t?