Voice of Truth

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“Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt” 27 December 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 4:11 pm

**I just wanted to apologize for not posting anything for, I think, a couple weeks now. After midterms (which went very well, I think), I had to get packed for Canada! I have been pretty busy here as well, what with being exhausted after a twenty-hour drive to visiting all the relatives and playing with little cousins . . .  Anyway, enjoy!**

“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt,” is a line from Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. This line is one of those things that makes me feel very fuzzy inside when I read it. Here is the context of the line (page 121 in my edition):

“You must have some secrets about the war. Or, not secrets, I guess, but things you don’t want to talk about.” [Valencia]

“No.” [Billy]

“I’m proud you were a soldier. Do you know that?” [Valencia]

“Good.” [Billy]

“Was it awful?” [Valencia]

“Sometimes.” A crazy thought now occurred to Billy. The truth of it startled him. It would make a good epitaph for Billy Pilgrim–and for me, too.

And on the next page, there appears a picture of gravestone that says, “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”

What a beautiful thing to have as an epitaph. I want to discuss the quotation more in detail, but first I thought it would be interesting to talk about this connection I noticed to Hindu philosophy. *hears collective groan of the Internets* It is not that bad, I promise! :P

Because I have been going to GCS for so many years (as evidenced by my many Thanksgiving place mats), several of the finer points of Hindu belief have been hammered into my mind, including one in particular, that God is omnipresent and we should seek to find his presence in everyone we know. In other (more secular) words, we should try to find the good in everyone. I have been trying to cultivate this attitude ever since I heard of it, because it is still something to strive for without the God part. “Everyone is beautiful, it is your job to figure out how.” That seems like something that could only enrich my life. Only problem is, I am not exactly very good at it. </digression>

The essence of the Vonnegut quotation is the same as this Hindu idea, because they are both about finding the best in things. A lot of religious teaching can actually make a lot of sense, especially when taken out of religious context.

It is a cliché to lie on one’s deathbed in acceptance and contentment. But it is also cliché to lie on one’s deathbed remorseful for everything missed out on. Seeing that “everything was beautiful” seems to be a worthy goal to achieve at the end of one’s life. It would be such a gift to be able to say as I lay dying, “Everything was beautiful.” To find that after going through a whole lifetime’s worth of troubles and difficulties, you also get a lifetime’s worth of joys; to not only be able to think this abstractly but firmly believe it; that would be a true gift.

I have not said much anything about the second half of the statement, “and nothing hurt”. I do not exactly know what to make of it. It is a very singular way of thinking, to be sure. But even though I do not quite understand it, it still speaks to me.  It makes me smile.

I just wanted to share that with everyone, and exhort all ten of you who read this (no, I think I have literally ten readers) to read Slaughterhouse-Five. And you know why? ‘Cause it’s just that ballin’.

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Midterms! 17 December 2008

Filed under: PHS — Aly @ 2:37 am

Oh noes!

Right now, I should be studying for my AP Biology and AP European History exams tomorrow, but I am so tired. I am so lucky that Mr. Jones only takes questions from his old tests, because we have covered an incredible amount of information in the past four-and-a-half months. AP Biology will hopefully go well. We shall see.

Thursday will be an easy-ish day. I just have to review some pre-calculus and chemistry. The test in Pre-Calculus will be on the algebra portion only, not any trigonometry. This simplifies things greatly.

Friday is French and AP English. French will be straightforward, especially since she went over each type of question that will be on the test. AP English will be a stressful one, but I am taking things as they come, and there are still two whole days before I have to worry about that one.

It is amazing how draining midterms are. I remember last year, I asked Julie whether I had ever had bags under my eyes, and she said, “Only during midterms.” This year, the stress is only more. *epic sigh*

Only three days more. Only three days more. Only three days more.

Good luck on your midterms, everyone!

*goes back to studying*

EDIT: OK, today went a little differently than expected. I overslept, waking up at 8:15 instead of 7:00. Since school starts at 8:25 and I live about twenty minutes away, I was not going to be able to make it in time for my AP Biology exam. I went to school at 10:20, in time to take the AP European History exam (on which I think I did very well, partially due to the extra two hours of studying time . . . ;)).

I talked to Ms. Bidwell, and I am probably going to take the exam tomorrow fourth period, after I finish the Chemistry exam (it should not take long). The alternative is waiting until after winter break, and taking it on the day teachers come back (the day before school starts). I prefer the former.

OK, three (two for me) down, and four (five for me) to go! Good luck. :)

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 15 December 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 9:25 pm

This weekend, when I was supposed to be working, I basically just messed around a bunch. In addition to enjoying Greensleeves, I also ended up watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am speaking of the version with Johnny Depp, the newer one (for the record, the older one was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, not “Charlie”).

I have watched the older one numerous times, and this was my second time seeing the newer one. I must say, the newer one was far superior. Both the movies added in plotlines that were not in the book, but I felt the “Charlie” version was truer to the spirit. It actually made Wonka into a three-dimensional character, explaining his obsession with chocolate and adding in a good message about family and love and mushy stuff. The “Wonka” version added in a silly bit about the recipe for Everlasting Gobstoppers and it was quite stupid in that aspect.

Another major plus for the “Charlie” version was the visual effects work. The actor who played all the Oompa Loompas (he is Indian btw!) did a hilarious job, and the overall effect of all these similar-looking Oompa Loompas was much better than the odd-looking one in the “Wonka” version. The “Charlie” version had a much more magical feel to it, and the coloration of the entire movie was very nice. It was very . . . saturated, I guess you would call it. The dark was dark and the colors were bright. It was very surreal and more the way the factory I always imagined was.

One thing I loved about the newer movie is that they took almost all of their lyrics from the original songs Roald Dahl wrote. I have read the book itself more times than can be counted (I used to have a few of the lyrics memorized), so it was really delightful to hear the original lyrics. :D

While I have said all these great things about the “Charlie” version, the “Wonka” version is not bad at all either. I would recommend both to anyone.

(more…)

 

Anecdote 14 December 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 6:48 pm

As you may or may not know, my mom teaches Non-Major Biology at the local community college, PJC. Because she teaches a non-major course, she gets all sorts of people for whom biology is not a career choice but a prerequisite for other courses. And because this is the South, and the subject is biology, she often gets weirdo religious people (no offense or anything, but they are pretty weird) in her class.

Maybe a month or so ago, she told me about one her students this semester, who asked to be excused from the lectures on evolution. This meant she would miss several important quiz grades and therefore not be able to maintain her A in the class. The student said she did not mind, but she did not want to be there for the evolution because she did not believe in it.

Today, my mom was grading the extra credit assignment she handed out. The assignment was to answer some questions, in short response form, that included things like, “Do you support genetic screening or not? Explain why.” My mom showed me one of the papers she was grading that turned out to be from the same girl she told me about before. In response to the genetic screening question, she replied that she did not. One of her citations was to the Psalms. Yes, that is correct. For a science class assignment that asks for an opinion (which one assumes should be backed up by scientific or logical reasoning), this girl responded with a Bible reference. I laughed for about five minutes straight, quite literally.

The one thing that bugs me about this girl is that because she got really good grades in the other parts of the class (and will presumably pass the exam), her absence from the evolution portion of the class still does not prohibit her from passing it. From now on, on her transcript, it will say that she passed a non-major biology class with a B or C or whatever. And that does not make any sense to me, because she did not even learn the most integral part of biology. In AP Biology, at school, Ms. Bidwell always refers back to evolution and why this system may have evolved in this manner.

Everything in biology comes back to evolution. Otherwise, it becomes a passive study of what exists. Not why, not how, just what is. It would not be science.

What was supposed to be a funny anecdote has turned into a rant of sorts, but I think it makes sense? But yeah, I just think that is the funniest thing the world. To cite Psalms in a Biology assignment. :)

 

Greensleeves 13 December 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 10:58 pm

Today, instead of studying for the exams coming up, I did other stuff. Included in this “other stuff” was practicing the piano for the semi-recital I had today.

The songs I played at the “recital”, which was more of an informal gathering at my teacher’s house, were “What Child is This?” and “Holly Jolly Christmas”. I had really fallen in love with the former as I practiced before, and even more so today. I was actually looking for one of the songs I played at a recital before, and came across “Greensleeves” another of my books. In case you did not know, “What Child is This?” and “Greensleeves” have the same music but different lyrics. The version in my Christmas book, “What Child is This?”, had no lyrics, but “Greensleeves” did. I read the lyrics as I played, and it changed my experience of the song entirely. Before, it had been pretty but nothing special. The lyrics really touched me. Here is a sample from the full lyrics:

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

I really cannot stop playing this now. I have been rushing over to the piano at random moments just to hear it (I am actually itching to do so right now, but I shall finish this post first). It is honestly one of the most beautiful melodies I have heard in a long time, and is even more beautiful due to its simplicity. Even the right-hand melody alone is truly delightful in itself.

Because of the whole Henry VIII myth, I really want to hear it sung by a man, but YouTube has failed me; I cannot find a single good version with male vocals. :'( I cannot link to a really great YouTube video because I have not found one that fits the way I think “Greensleeves” should be sung. Anyway, I think everyone should listen to it and enjoy its beauty, even if you just hear the instrumental version. :)

 

Science Fair 12 December 2008

Filed under: PHS — Aly @ 6:24 pm

Science fair results came out yesterday and were announced on the school announcements today. My bacterium, which had given me so many problems before, ended up working (to my relief!) and I was able to scrape together a board the night before the fair. I was happy with the results. I won first in the Environmental Sciences division and Jennie won second (it was really close, apparently). Kay won first in Microbiology. Adrika and Priya got first and second respectively in Medicine and Health. :D We all get to go on to the district competition, which is in January.

Hell week is over. It truly was hell. Yesterday was the worst, even though it was probably the day I had the least work (just a bunch of studying, mostly). It was the first time IB actually made me cry. I do not even know why it was so bad; it was probably just the stress of the entire week. Anyway, all that is left now is . . .

MIDTERMS!

Good luck studying, everyone, and I hope you have a productive weekend. :)

 

“LMAO” 11 December 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aly @ 10:23 pm

Stephen and I were talking, and well he had this brilliant idea. He posted it on icanhascheezburger.com and well I am still lmao. I am too lazy to insert the picture here, so just follow the link.