On life at the moment…

What can I say? Life is good! I think me and my flatmates have reached a kind of zenith in terms of ‘togetherness’, for want of a better word. Even our troublesome flatmate who apparently hates our very existence partook in our exceedingly fun games night tonight. I have never been a popular person and I say that with particular emphasis on the word ‘never’! But, in university and in my flat especially, I feel liked. I have had friends in the past of course, but I saw them only rarely outside of college/school. I suppose I would liken this current feeling as that of high school actually, the final year only to be precise, it has been that long (4 years I think) since I have felt part of a group of friends. It feels great!

Not forgetting my wonderful girlfriend of five years this saturday. I have to say, it really does not feel like five years, when I tell people the most common reaction is that of shock. I suppose it is rare for a pair of teenagers to have been together for five years, not that I’m a teenager anymore… I’ve still not got over that since my birthday the other day, I am not a teenager anymore, it is terrible getting old! My girlfriend has decided to finally stop referring to me as a boy and start referring to me as a man. I’m not sure I like it…

In other news, I went to court today! No, I’ve not commited any crimes, it was just to watch. It felt extremely strange walking into the courthouse though, from being run over with a metal detector at the front door, to seeing an actual trial for domestic violence take place, it felt almost surreal. The very atmosphere in the courtroom itself was disturbing. Staring at the defendant, a rather rough looking young skin-head, I certainly felt a strong aversion to his person despite not having met him. I sincerely hope that I never have to set foot in a courtroom for reasons other than observing, I don’t think I could handle it.

When we returned from the courthouse, rather prematurely unfortunately, we set about decorating the flat for Christmas. Now I have not been a fan of Christmas for a good few years now, it just isn’t the same after your parents split. There’s also the fact that I now receive money rather than huge presents. I remember fondly the Christmas mornings when the whole family would creep down the stairs and the living room door would be opened to reveal an endless sea of presents, waiting to be torn open and played with. Now it is more like a chore to get up early and go downstairs, to be met with a pitiful mound of presents and then having to go to my dad’s house after dinner. Today, however, I felt an excitement towards Christmas that I haven’t felt in a long while, decorating the flat and doing secret santa was thoroughly enjoyable even if I’m not too sure what to get for my choice.

This has been a rather more personal post than I have posted before, there are no references to studies or allusions to science-fiction, just me. I think this may be a rarity so, if anyone reads this enjoy it while you can, or be glad it is so. I am such high spirits lately I simply had to put something down in words, I’m sure that Systems Analysis report that I shamefully neglected to partake in the decoration of the flat will bring me back down a notch however! Until next time…

Adantur out.

A man of eccentric tastes…

It has long been known to me, whether through the remarks of my friends or through my own perception, that I am indeed a man of somewhat eccentric tastes. I say this after having read a favourite short story of mine by Edgar Allan Poe entitled ‘Ligeia’ after having earlier listened to some of my favourite southern gospel songs on Youtube. A strange combination of tastes I think all would agree, especially for a 19 year old to possess! I have previously been called numerous times by my friends an ‘old man’, much to my amusement. The oldest I can recall being labelled being 90, would you believe! Indeed I do possess a queer taste for someone of my age. While all around me were content to listen to the simple, catchy, mainstream pop or hip hop on the radio in work, I was rarely happier when solitary in the filing room with a Haydn String Quartet or Beethoven symphony in the background. Not only is this at odds with the status quo, so to speak, of youth today, it also accompanies even stranger listening habits of mine.

Not too long ago now, I think about a year or two, I developed a taste (as mentioned prior) for southern gospel music. I haven’t the faintest idea where this taste first came from, but I do have some ideas as to why it has now developed into a fairly strong liking for the rather peculiar music. I think I am attracted to southern gospel for two reasons (probably more but these two spring to mind) firstly because of the quality of voice that these singers possess. There are few greater sounds than that of the human voice and to hear multiple voices in such wondrous harmony as I do everytime I listen to this music is great. The second reason why I believe I am attracted to this musical form is the values that come with it. When watching the videos on the internet of the various concerts at which the various quartets perform, I can’t help but notice that the same people crop up in the crowd. In these videos and in the concerts that they depict, there is a strong feeling of togetherness and of ‘family’ that I feel I am greatly attracted to. This quality and the quality of the voices on show and in harmony, I believe, cancels out the religious element and the baseness of music to which I harbour an aversion.

When listing off my various tastes in music, in literature and in other such pursuits, it is hard to find common ground with people of my age group. There are not many teenagers with a fondness for ‘free jazz’ or Russian Romantic music, indeed, the majority of the attendees at the last few concerts I have been tend to be of a much older generation. This has its difficulties, in my earlier teens I had fairly average tastes, that of ‘heavy metal’ and even earlier punk music of the likes of Green Day. People, young people especially, tend to value that which they enjoy most highly and, if they happen across someone of similar tastes, they tend to immediately form bonds based on such common preferences.

I have yet to find someone like this, but, for now, I am content to enjoy these pleasures in solitude.

Adantur out.

On procrastination

While surfing the internet and listening to music (Shostakovich’s fifth symphony) I came across this rather interesting article on procrastination. Now, as a student, I am probably one of the biggest culprits when it comes to procrastination or ‘putting things off’. It has even got to the point now where I put things I enjoy doing off such as finishing watching that Firefly boxset someone lent me, or reading the incredibly short but very promising book I’m three chapters into. This is a disturbing development, putting off school/college/uni work I am used to, I’ve been doing that since high school, but not even having the motivation to do the things I enjoy?! Somethings not right. It’s not even as though watching a few episodes of a boxset or finishing a short work of fiction requires that much effort, one simply sits down and, in a few short hours, it is done and enjoyment has been had! Therein, however, lies the problem. ‘Sitting down’.

Before I came to university a couple of months ago I was working full time in an office. I would perform mind-numbing, entirely thoughtless labour for seven and a half hours, all the while watching the clock until that wondrous moment when the large hand struck twelve and the small hand struck six. During these hours and afterwards I would be starved of mental stimulation, the brief hour I had for my lunch was usually spent with my head in a  book seeking said stimulation. Therefore when I got home I couldn’t wait to read books or watch dvd boxsets I had queued up. Compare that to today, I have a comparatively sparse timetable, however the activities that make up my current timetable provide infinitely more mental stimulation, even coming to the point where my mind is challenged. This mental exertion means that, prior to completing my work now, my attitude is markedly different to pre-university me. This then results in that wonderful, worldwide phenomenon of ‘procrastination!’.

Of course there are other factors that affect the likelihood of a person performing a certain task, there is a wonderful example in the article linked earlier in the post and I quote…

“A study conducted in 1999 by Read, Loewenstein and Kalyanaraman had people pick three movies out of a selection of 24. Some were lowbrow like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Some were highbrow like “Schindler’s List” or “The Piano.” In other words, it was a choice between movies which promised to be fun and forgettable or would be memorable but require more effort to absorb.

After picking, the subjects had to watch one movie right away. They then had to watch another in two days and a third two days after that.

Most people picked Schindler’s List as one of their three. They knew it was a great movie because all their friends said it was. All the reviews were glowing, and it earned dozens of the highest awards. Most didn’t, however, choose to watch it on the first day.

Instead, people tended to pick lowbrow movies on the first day. Only 44 percent went for the heavier stuff first. The majority tended to pick comedies like “The Mask” or action flicks like “Speed” when they knew they had to watch it forthwith.” (Mcraney, 2011)

This particular study example struck me as this is exactly what I have been doing for a while now, in fact, this is exactly what I did last night. At around 23:30 last night I had a choice, continue with my book as planned or watch a comedy television program. The book would require more effort but bring greater satisfaction and the program would require less effort and still bring a modicum of satisfaction. In the end I chose to watch the program now and read the book later, I have done this around about five times now. The study quoted in the article and my personal experience would lead me to believe that we, as humans, often have a tendency choose the junk option now and push back the healthy option to a later date, this leads me to my conclusion and to one of the primary ‘facilitators’ so to speak of my procrastination habit, Facebook.

Facebook is a great tool, it allows me to keep in touch with friends (what few I have) and often, somewhat like this blog, to express my thoughts in a public domain. The problem I have and I know from personal experience many others have with Facebook, is that it can be highly distracting. One of the reasons is that it is so easy to access! The vast majority of students use a laptop or desktop computer to complete work, I use a desktop all the time in my course, as you would expect from a computing degree. Facebook and a million and one distractions is just a few short clicks away. The thing that often puzzles me about Facebook is ‘how can something so often so boring, where nothing (of note) can happen for hours at a time, be so constantly distracting. The answer, I belive, lies in the effort/satisfaction ratio.

The effort to satisfaction ratio is all-important when your body subconsciously decides to do something, at least it is to me as I made it up! There seems to be a certain point at which your mind decides a certain activity should be undertaken, a point at which there is minimum effort required and maximum satisfaction achieved. Facebook is a great way to make you miss assignment deadlines as it is requires next to no effort whatsoever, while providing the procrastinating student with a little to a lot of satisfaction. It is this lack of effort requirement that can make mindlessly browsing Facebook seem a great deal more attractive than finishing that Systems Analysis report or reading that great Russian novel etc…

Even as I speak I am on Facebook, with a Systems Analysis sheet eagerly awaiting my attention and it is to this I must go! Until next time…

Adantur out.