Michael Battalio


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bowl Game

I am looking for a copy of the Liberty Bowl. If anyone has it, I would be much obliged to have a copy. Gracias.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Annual Christmas E-mail

Greetings and salutations,
Welcome those of you old and new to the sixth Annual Christmas Mass e-mail. If you're wondering how I got your e-mail, don't; it's best not to know.
I've been doing some reading over the last year on religion. My good friend Jeff Armstrong pointed me toward The Case for... Faith, a Creator, Jesus series by Lee Strobel, an atheistic journalist turned Christian. Also, I am most of the way through The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, an atheistic biologist. I've started on Either/Or, a book on combining an aesthetic, hedonistic life view (essentially someone who just wants to have fun) with religion and ethics by philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. From a physics standpoint I'm also looking at Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe, a discussion of how finely tuned the universe appears to be for our existence, by Martin Rees.
I've turned to various literature for one reason. Ponder for a moment how unlikely God is. Certainly the world is complex and appears designed, but how much more complex would an omnipotent being need to be to create all we see around us? Natural selection and physics explain so much, and what cannot yet be explained can be attributed to our ignorance. Perhaps it's just the scientist in me that craves concise, concrete answers or perhaps I just more of a skeptic than I care to admit.
All of this to make a point: an unexamined religion, faith, moral compass, world view, whatever you like, means nothing. Faith isn't really faith if we aren't doubtful of what we believe sometimes. We are no better than trained monkeys if we simply go through life accepting what we are told to accept. Do not read into what I'm saying. I'm not trying to make anyone feel like a monkey, quite the opposite. Everyone at some point has made a conscious decision what to believe; going to a religious service, tossing a handful of change to the bell ringers outside Walmart, smelling the roses, all conscious decisions we make. Humans by nature are skeptical and inquisitive. We just need to remember to kindle and encourage our nature as often as we can, otherwise what's the point of being human? That for me is my purpose in life, to discover whatever the Truth is, and to have some fun along the way. I wish that for all of you as well.
For years, the good Catholic in me has ended my prayers with this: "May all who are lost find the Way, the Truth and the Light." Recently though I have begun to end with this: "May everyone find the Way, the Truth, and the Light wherever it make take them." Whether it be Christianity, Islam, Judaism, agnosticism, atheism or any of a hundred different belief systems, let people go where they need to go with the hope that eventually we will all individually find whatever Truth exists in the universe.
Enjoy the season, appreciate the little things, and take the time to give yourself some credit for making it as far as you have. Let me know how you're doing, it's half the reason I do this twice a year.
Merry Christmas,
Battalio

Monday, September 24, 2007

Serious Conversations... (part 4)

A bit of a disclaimer, this is the fourth in series of serious blog posts about religion and philosophy. If you have ever chatted with me about philosophy and religion and very much disagree, be prepared for that to continue.
These are my responses (Edited, of course, to offend as few people as possible; although offense is inevitable with me.) from a conversation I am having with an atheist friend of mine about the meaning of life, consciousness, physics, the kitchen sink, religion and a couple of moral issues thrown in to boot.
Before every single religious person starts chomping at the bit, let me say this is not an argument about whether there is a God. This is more philosophical in nature. Also let me say that my unnamed friend is one of the most moral, responsible and decent people I have ever met, so no one take the high ground until you’ve read the entire series, and still don’t take it then either. This fourth entry is about the purpose of all of existence.

My friend had just commented on the lack of a purpose for noncomplex life. The example was an amoeba. My friend had also commented on why we need a purpose to life. No other creature needs a purpose; why should we need one? Lastly, my friend pointed out we need to differentiate between the purpose for all of existence, the purpose of life, and an individual’s purpose. I responded…

Perhaps an amoeba is just a by product of the evolution of life; perhaps an amoeba has already served its purpose, as simply an early step of life. And now the amoeba simply exists just because it knows no better. It could be also that one of the purposes of an amoeba is to support the ecosystem(s) in which humanity can thrive.
Sentience could be the goal of the universe, or at least life, to figure itself out, and the purpose of everything around us is to support us in trying to figure the universe out. (It’s also true we could be just a stepping stone to something even more important than us. Actually, I hope we are; if we aren’t, we still have some serious evolving to do if you ask me.)
I wonder why we need a purpose in life. Why can’t we just live like everything else? I don’t think anything else needs a purpose to life. I doubt any animals can think about things of this nature, so why are humans so insistent on having a purpose to life. I don’t have a good answer to that. (Here is the best answer my friend could come up with: Humanity is a very goal oriented species. We make “to do” lists, we set career goals, the government supposedly has a set of goals for Iraq. We’re all about doing things for reasons. Perhaps humanity’s need for a purpose of existence is just an extension of our human nature.)
My friend pointed out that a person’s purpose in life might be to find their purpose in life. (Even though that’s circular reasoning.) I think that could be a valid thing to say, but if there really isn’t a purpose to life, then that person has wasted their life. This is why I need something more to my purpose in life than just finding my purpose. There has to be more to the purpose than the purpose. Was there a purpose to the universe at all before humanity came around to start looking for a purpose? I don't know.
I'm a believer in the anthropic principle. (The anthropic principle is born out of physics. It comes in several forms, but the gist of it is this: The universe is very fine tuned for our existence. So fine tuned that any infinitesimal change in any of a number of constants [e.g. the fine-structure constant, the masses of any of the fundamental particles, the strength of any of the fundamental forces, the speed of light, etc. etc.] would throw the universe so out of whack that the most complex form of matter would be random protons and neutrons flying around [and perhaps not even that]. No atoms, no stars, no galaxies, and no life. Our existence is a big coincidence. How does science explain this? By the anthropic principle, which states: we wouldn’t be here to measure the fundamental physical constants if the constants were of a strength precluding our existence. In other words, we are here now because if things were different we couldn’t be here. That may seem like circular reasoning, and actually it kind of is except for the theory of the multiverse. It states that there are an infinite amount of universes each existing simultaneously with different properties. The reason we are in this universe and not in any other is because of the anthropic principle. The multiverse is a very vague, unprovable concept in physics, but it has an elegance that appeals to me.) And to me the anthropic principle is enough to answer the “how we are here?” of existence for me. Assuming God doesn't exist, I really can't think of a reason for the universe or life or anything really, except for that principle. (I find it necessary to have a reason beyond God for there to be a universe. Some people are blessed-or cursed depending on your view-to have a faith where faith is all you need. I am not one of those people.) But being here now, I'm glad the fundamental forces are in balance and that light travels the speed it does and that the proton isn't a bit heavier.

Existence as a whole may not have a purpose, but individuals can give themselves a purpose. Next a discussion of that.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Serious conversations... (part 3)

A bit of a disclaimer, this is the third in series of serious blog posts about religion and philosophy. If you have ever chatted with me about philosophy and religion and very much disagree, be prepared for that to continue.
 These are my responses (Edited, of course, to offend as few people as possible; although offense is inevitable with me.) from a conversation I am having with an atheist friend of mine about the meaning of life, consciousness, physics, the kitchen sink, religion and a couple of moral issues thrown in to boot. 
 Before every single religious person starts chomping at the bit, let me say this is not an argument about whether there is a God. This is more philosophical in nature. Also let me say that my unnamed friend is one of the most moral, responsible and decent people I have ever met, so no one take the high ground until you’ve read the entire series, and still don’t take it then either. This third entry consists of some of my thoughts on organized religion. (As a kind of editor’s note, one paragraph doesn’t necessarily flow with they next. They can be read independently.)

Prepare to be offended. Sorry. Religion has the tendency to make people deny the scientific truth. (Before everyone gets up in arms let me provide an example: it took the deaths and imprisonment of many scientists [e.g. Galileo, although he specifically wasn’t killed by the Church] before the Catholic Church would admit the earth went around the sun. Same too with evolution. [I can’t think of anyone killed because of it though.]) Whether this critical skepticism (I’m not saying skepticism of science is a bad thing; I’m saying the reason for the skepticism could be misguided.) is an unconscious, learned response or something someone chooses to do depends on the person. I am not saying most people blindly accept religion but possibly.
Religion also does a good job of making sure people don't question its validity. Religion says it's good for people to question their faith, but most religious people I know don't act that way. (In my quest for an understanding of faith, I am about to read a book by an atheist about why religion is nonsense. I think I've read enough books about why there should be a God, I think it's time to view the other side. I'll let you know if it's any good.) I believe this stems from the fact that those with religious power do not want to give up that power because in the not so distant past religious power meant you had political power. And the way to keep political power is to keep the masses stupid or at least unquestioning.
People have a tendency to mix religion with everything (By that I mean use religion to influence decisions that have nothing to do with religion.) under the assumption that religion is always right simply because it was ordained by God. (Before you get up in arms with that statement let me say that just because God ordained specific people to “manage” his followers doesn’t mean they can’t still screw the religion up. [Anyone heard of the Avignon Antipapacy?])
Most people worry about religion being injected into science, where it really does not belong. I’m not concerned with that. Science can do a very good job of defending itself against purely religious ideals. The thing that worries me most is people confusing religion and politics. Politics has no defense against religion, and one need only look at the president to see some of the consequences of religion dominating political decisions. It seems every day we get closer and closer to a theocracy. That does worry me. (And just because it’s a theocracy of my own religion doesn’t make me worry less. Just because the Taliban was an Islamic government didn’t mean those with that faith liked it there.)
Humanity's need to believe in something greater than itself is very strong, and I have no idea where it comes from. Religion would say that is God trying to "bring us home." I don't blindly subscribe to that; I hope. I think it has to do with there not really seeming to be an obvious purpose to existence. One has to find it. And religion is the easy way out, because let's face it, most people are too lazy to figure out a purpose, and religion is a convenient, easy way to have a purpose to life. (Don't take that to mean I think all religious people are lazy, unintelligent people. I don't, but some people actually are.) I think that's why so many people accept a religion without understanding it. (As an aside, I think that's where the majority of problems concerning religion come from, people not really understanding what they believe.)
The only thing I can say about organized religion demanding that other organized religions are wrong is that I hope I've picked the correct religion. I know that must be unsettling to you. It is to me as well. The truth is, there is no way to know which is actually right (if any) until you die, so there is no use in worrying about it.
The interesting thing about organized religion is that if you don’t already subscribe to one, and you don’t see one you like, you can start your own. There are so many Christian denominations alone, who would notice another. And besides, I would argue that you don't need to belong to an organized religion to be religious. Organized religion is a forum and a place for people to celebrate what they believe as a community. And community is what humanity is all about. That’s purpose enough right there.

Next, let’s move onto the meaning of life…

Monday, July 09, 2007

Serious conversations… (part 2)

A bit of a disclaimer, this is the first in series of serious blog posts about religion and philosophy. If you have ever chatted with me about philosophy and religion and very much disagree, be prepared for that to continue.
These are my responses (Edited, of course, to offend as few people as possible; although offense is inevitable with me.) from a conversation I am having with an atheist friend of mine about the meaning of life, consciousness, physics, the kitchen sink, religion and a couple of moral issues thrown in to boot.
Before every single religious person starts chomping at the bit, let me say this is not an argument about whether there is a God. This is more philosophical in nature. Also let me say that my unnamed friend is one of the most moral, responsible and decent people I have ever met, so no one take the high ground until you’ve read the entire series, and still don’t take it then either. This second entry is about the use of profanity.

A discussion of cussing can become very complicated because it has to do with religion, emotion, etymology, culture and an assortment of other disciplines I can't come up with off the top of my head. I think I've been able to get away with never cussing because I'm not a very angry person. There have only been a couple of times in my life where I've been really angry. I have just never had the need to cuss. I find it worrisome, though, that society finds it more and more necessary to use cussing as filler words. It's really odd though; even I'll admit that a joke becomes funnier if a couple of cuss words are thrown in the right places. I have no idea why that is. (Does anyone out there have a reason for this phenomena?)
I really can't find anything that makes cussing improper other than religion, and that can be tied to culture again. I know the Catholic church believes cussing to be any phrase that demeans a person, so if I call you stupid, that’s cussing. It’s an extreme that I’m sure everyone finds difficult.
I still can’t figure out why it is I don’t cuss. (in the societal sense, not the Catholic church sense; I call people stupid all the time) There are many times where the word will pop into my head to use as filler for a joke, and I know the joke will be funnier if I put it in. I simply can’t make myself say the word. It isn’t family influences; my mom and dad cuss just as much as any other adults. I have even caught my little brother cussing from time to time. All of my close friends cuss. Most of the teachers I’m friends with cuss. And I can’t think of a single person whom I look up to in a religious sense that doesn’t have the occasional (not sometimes not occasional) profanity slip, including many a priest. If it isn’t religion and it isn’t culture or family, what is it? The best reason I can come up with is two fold. Most of the adults in my life when I was very little did a very good job instilling the “badness” of cussing. Being an impressionable child I took it as truth. The reason everyone else eventually figured out there is nothing wrong with cussing and I didn’t is because I had, or have as the case may be, a twisted, almost grotesque, need to be different and better than everyone else. Since from childhood I “knew” cussing was bad, my inner desire to be better than everyone else filled in the gap where I would have given up on keeping a cussless vocabulary. And now it has become force of habbit.
Before I end I’d like to comment on the meaning behind the word. It is not the meaning of a cuss word more than it’s feeling represented by the word that is to some degree reprehensible. It’s the feeling inside the person that gives the word meaning. This is the reason that as society progress and regresses “improper” words change. For instance, not so long ago children’s ears would be covered if someone said dang, shoot, heck, or darn or any of a number of other words that people, including myself, use to replace their “stronger” (by today’s standards at least) counterparts. Language continues to evolve and grow as the society driving it grows as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if before I die I end up saying words that are currently bleeped on tv simply because no one considers them cuss words anymore. As for now, there is no point in trying to do something that I don’t really want to do, so cuss words still are still left out of my reach.

Next, a bit of talk on organized religion…

Monday, July 02, 2007

Serious conversations... (part 1)

A bit of a disclaimer, this is the first in series of serious blog posts about religion and philosophy. If you have ever chatted with me about philosophy and religion and very much disagree, be prepared for that to continue.
These are my responses (Edited, of course, to offend as few people as possible; although offense is inevitable with me.) from a conversation I am having with an atheist friend of mine about the meaning of life, consciousness, physics, the kitchen sink, religion and a couple of moral issues thrown in to boot.
Before every single religious person starts chomping at the bit, let me say this is not an argument about whether there is a God. This is more philosophical in nature. Also let me say that my unnamed friend is one of the most moral, responsible and decent people I have ever met, so no one take the high ground until you’ve read the entire series, and still don’t take it then either. This first entry is about consciousness and religion, kind of.

My friend had just had a conversation about consciousness with a group of neuroscientists and chemists. Everyone, except my friend, agreed that even if one could describe to the last atom the entire human body, one still wouldn’t have a description of the person. In essence, a human consciousness is more than the sum of its parts. Consciousness transcends the physical even though it is common knowledge that imbalances in brain chemistry can dramatically affect one’s personality (consciousness), and thought is simply electricity jumping across neurons in the brain. My friend was astonished that even without religion being mentioned there seemed to be some implication of it, and my friend asked for my insight. (And some lovely insight I have.)

Here is my response:
Christianity, and probably most other religions, forgets that there are other religions, other philosophies, other points of view, and so the faith doesn’t realize what would be common sense to someone with a similar religious background is crazy to someone with another way of viewing the world. Just because religion wasn’t mentioned in the conversation doesn’t mean that’s what everyone implied. This being America, and America being rather self centered, they might have assumed you realized it was in some sense a religious conversation.
It comes down to this. Assume religion is right, assume a soul exists. If they were referring to the soul of a person and not just their consciousness in your conversation, then they are right. I think we would agree that despite all those crazy people on tv, there is no way to quantitatively describe the spiritual realm, assuming it exists at all. Now assume religion is wrong, and they were talking about a soul. You were right. This argument is purely religious and not what we are talking about.
Now assume they were talking about human consciousness. This is certainly philosophy and has nothing to do with religious faith. I am thinking right now; I have consciousness; I exist. No religion there. I would, the next time you speak with them, ask them this: does human consciousness, not the soul, transcend the physical? Does human thought amount to more than some endorphins and electricity? Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? That makes sure you are both talking about the same thing, nothing religious about it. (Keep in mind Christianity takes the human consciousness and soul to be two completely different things. You can screw up one and save the other for instance. This is why there is ambiguity in your conversation.)
I assume you want me to answer those questions I just asked. Well, I can answer them in one word, maybe. It’s something that would have to be tested. You would have to describe every smallest unit of the human brain (molecule, atom, quark, whatever the fundamental particles end up being), run a model, and see if the human brain you just modeled did the exact same thing as the model a percentage of the time that could be attributed to quantum fluctuations. (I would assume that by the time we come up with that much computing power we will be able to also predict what percentage quantum mechanics would skew results by.)
Do I believe it could be possible to completely map out a brain’s neural pathways and reproduce my consciousness exactly without any more input? Yes, I see no reason it wouldn’t be possible. Might it be impossible? Yes to that as well. In actuality, I’ve come to accept that there is no way to know until it’s tested. It isn’t common sense to me either way. Might personality differences arise out of quantum mechanics? Certainly. (That might be a really interesting thing to do research on actually.) Do I believe the soul transcends physical description? Yes, but I am a religious person, and I don’t think that’s what you are talking about.

[So, we concluded that consciousness doesn’t necessarily transcend the physical, but it might. I would need a bit more proof one way or another to persuade me, but it would be cool to talk to a computerized version of myself.]

Next, look for a discussion of profanity in society.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

And update on life

Non academic post time. I feel it to be time to fill you in on the happenings of my life.
The last semester ended well. I feel it was a bit of a waste though. I only took 17 hours, and nine of them were freshman level communication classes. It was way too easy, and I feel guilty about how easy it was. I won't have to worry about that ever again though. Next semester should be a doosy. I will be taking 19 hours- a mix of music and meteorology. I am taking broadcast meteorology practicum I (2 hr.), water recourses (3), weather analysis I (2), Synoptic Meteorology (3), satellite and radar meteorology (3), music theory (3), ear traing-essentally the music theory lab (1), recital hour (0), piano lessons (1), and but of course marching band (1). The schedule would be great if I were only taking the meteorology classes. 10:00 to 2:00 with an hour for lunch at 12 on MWF and 9:30-12 on TTH and a 2:00 on Tuesday. That is the picture perfect schedule. However the music classes are freshman level (I'm only getting a minor.) so they are both at
eight. Consequently, I have 8:00 classes M-F. Great. I hate waking up early.
Drum majoring should take up a lot of time as well. I am looking forward to not having to learn a bunch of drill coordinates, but the other side of that is all the extra time it's going to take with, I may add, no increase in scholarship. Welcome to the real world I suppose.
I am still hoping I get to play piano for choir this year. It's something I've wanted to do since I came to State. I know I would love doing it, so I hope that comes through.
But at least I'm done with Math. I finished my math minor last semester. I don't have the piece of paper that proves it. (I obviously won't get thatuntil I graduate.) But I can still put it on my résumé.
Work is work. Vicksburg is Vicksburg. (I wanted to get an internship with the National Weather Association, but I completed enough classes yet. Next year it will happen.) The government pays well, but it's a tad, how shall we say it, dull. Vicksburg is always nice. I love having my piano. (Which I need to get tuned; it sounds awful.) And I love being able to putter in the garden every day. It's all wonderfully relaxing.
The only bad thing about summer is being away from everyone. It's hard to be used to having everyone around every day, and then you're left with yourself, family and your old high school friends- who, may I add, become more and more scarce as I get older. That's how life is though, always finding new, interesting people. Next time, how about a post on investing, my blossoming hobby?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Unwanted, newfound popularity

It's been a while. Sorry, I have no other excuse than being lazy. Before I go on with this entry, let me say, I'm not trying to brag. There is a subtle difference between what I'm about to do and bragging. (I just don't know what it is.)

I've never really been popular. I've been tolerable and oftentimes downright agreeable but never popular...until now. Sure, this is only transitive; the effects are wearing off as I type. And as soon as I have to use my authority, any shred of popularity I have left will be gone. But the fact remains, right now, I'm in. This all because of one little (comparatively speaking) thing. I'm going to be one of the drum majors at MSU next year. (Actually, it's funny. I've been unpopular because I'm dorky, but being drum major [arguably the epitome of dorkiness] has made me popular. That, I know, has to be irony at its finest.) I don't really find my newfound position the success of a lifetime. (I hope.) I didn't even find it that difficult to get. It's just something I've managed to do with my life. But my family and friends act like I just became the President (not that that office really means anything anymore). Everyone has made a huge deal about it. In effect my approval rating has to be over 50% (the other 49% being Ole Miss fans), which I take to mean I'm popular. That's a loose definition of the word, but it'll probably be the closest I'll ever be to whatever popularity actually is.

I have to say I don't like it, popularity I mean. Don't get me wrong, I like attention just as much as the next narcissist, but at some point the attention smothers you. It prevents you from being who you are. I can't just brush off every person who gives me a copy of the article from the newspaper or calls the house to congratulate me. I have to modestly accept the kind word. It's not that I'm ungrateful. It's just not that big a deal to me and, consequently, shouldn't be a big deal to anyone else. (Not that the position isn't a big deal, the position itself is big.) I'm happy everyone's happy for me, but I'm sure everyone else has better things to do than offer me praise. (Yes, I'm being modest; mark it in your calendar. That was this year's quota.)

I'm used to being myself, and that usual self isn't very popular. My usual self is used to constantly fighting my way up the popularity ladder, not standing above the sticker that warns you not to step beyond the next to last rung. There's a small part of me that feels pressured to fit into some sort of popularity stereotype. (Don't ask me to define that.) And I don't like it. I enjoy being the Trekie who gardens and plays cello in between managing his stock portfolio while sipping amontillado sherry. (I could go on, but you get the point.) I like being different, and everyone liking me (except the Ole Miss fans) worries me. It means I have nowhere to go but down. I can only hope that whoever is holding the ladder doesn't get distracted by one of the cheerleaders.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Annual Easter Mass E-mail

Greetings,
This is the Annual Easter Mass E-mail, while smaller than its Christmas equivalent, I hope it to be just as meaningful. Sorry it's a day late; I can tell you are missing it. I've had four people ask about where the e-mail is. So, here it is. And away we go...
There is an interesting Hebrew word I came across as I was skimming though a very old translation of the bible. The word is sèlah. It's a verb meaning (I think) stop, pause and consider. I find that very appropriate to our situation in this day and time. How many times do you come to the end of the day and all you've done is run around without actually doing anything? Show of hands. I'm raising mine in case you don't know. It's really true though; life is busy. I often wonder where the days go. And if I can't even find the time to enjoy being alive how am I going to think about things that are really important- like, I don't know, for instance, God? He's a pretty big thing not to be stopping, pausing and considering. And when it comes down to it, we may not do all the things he wants us to do (or more usually we do things he doesn't want us to do), but really, how much does it put us out to just think about the Big Guy? Not fall on our hands and knees and sing at the top of our lungs an alleluia or give a prayer of thanksgiving for every little thing that has gone right (or wrong [Wrong things can be good sometimes.]) in our lives or beg for forgiveness or plead for healing or just break down and complain to Him, but to just think about it All.
Step back for a second; how improbable is everything: God, an allpowerful, timeless Being, decides that he's lonely and wants to make us and the universe. So, there it was, it and we were good, and he loved it and us etc. But we were insanely stupid, gluttonous and greedy. We were kicked out of paradise (blame it on the woman). Well, Mr. Allpowerful Being had a bit of a dilemma: we had free will, we screwed up, now what. If I get to heaven this is the first thing I'm going to ask God: how much did you have to drink when you decided that the way to save us all was to let us kill your Son? I mean really, how does that work? Because I don't get it. Well, we kill Him, we can get back into heaven, another timeless thing where we are all happy all the time. And then end of story except not end of story because heaven will never end.
Got a headache yet? And that was just one paragraph. The universe and God are pretty big things not to be stopping, pausing and considering. So, this Easter Season I'm not going to spend all my time worshiping at the foot of the cross. I (and I hope you too) am going to sit outside with a glass of tea and contemplate how crazy God is: crazy creative, caring, compassionate, loving, generous, and generally just pretty amazing.

Sèlah.

Happy Easter,
Mikie

I can't help myself:
Two eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I'm Mr. Lonely..

Who among us hasn't been lonely? It's a rhetorical question that I can answer. Everyone. It's a horrible place to be in, and I find that that is one of the last problems I'm having to deal with. Am I lonely now? No, I probably know and am around more people now than I knew during the entirety of high school combined. The problem is this: once I have adapted to a situation I can be very extroverted, but when I am new somewhere I am terribly shy. It takes me a year or two to realize that I know enough people to be extroverted. It's a paradox I know, but one I can't seem to get around. I am afraid of being alone, not now but sometime in the future. And I know that eventually I will be there again because I can't be a 20th year senior. I have to leave MSU eventually, and with that comes awkward silence for at least a year. This is a problem I can only think of one solution to: learn to always be extroverted. That can be very challenging to someone who isn't accustomed to introducing yourself to the interesting group of people on the far side of the room. It's also something I can't practice until I have to practice it. And so, I am left where? Ignoring my fear, and hoping that as I mature I can fight though my introductory shyness. That's a really open ended answer-one that doesn't really satisfy me, so I continue to search.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The World at Eye Level

It used to be that I would always look down when walking around either because of being tired or just not wanting to deal with people. But, I have found that there is a whole other world found just by looking up. When I am not listening to music, I now make sure to look up at the people I pass. Everyone is much more friendly than I have ever given them credit for. Everyone you make eye contact with makes some kind of acknowledgment of your existence-either a hello or nod of the head. At first, I was annoyed by this; I just like seeing the world all around me, which I may add, is much nicer than the grass directly below my feet. Now that I've been doing it for a while, I enjoy having everyone around me. It certainly puts me in a better disposition. I think that's because most of the people who look up are in a good mood, otherwise they wouldn't be looking up, and consequently, their good mood enforces my good mood. I suggest everyone try looking up every once in a while.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Act of Judging

I am sitting in Mass Media Wednesday afternoon, and I begin to daydream. (Nothing against the teacher. He's interesting, but intrinsically, the class material is boring.) For whatever reason, I start reminiscing on high school. And inevitably I recall how much of a perfectionist I was. Not grade wise (I'm still a perfectionist in that right now.) but of me being a perfectionist as far as being the goodie goodie. Me being who I am and being a goodie goodie and being self aware enough to know that, I always felt morally superior to everyone else. If you ever randomly come across one of the 40 people I graduated with, ask them. They'll agree I'm sure. I felt this way when I entered college as well. I was alone for the most part my freshman year, and looking around at everyone having fun only elevated my moral high ground. (This will just be fodder for everyone, but actually when I was in high school I seriously entertained the idea of entering seminary. It had a lot more to do with being lonely than feeling morally superior though.) I think I'm getting off track, allow me to make my point. It is this, making mistakes has made me a better person morally. Allow me to clarify. Being a self-righteous, obtuse fool always made me judgmental, horribly judgmental, towards all the people whom I thought I was better than, which, for the great majority of that part of life, was everyone. I would always go out of my way to find what it was they did that I found to be a transgression. I would then latch onto that, and I would be able to figuratively stand on their shoulders and preach to them. Whenever I saw someone, I spent a lot of time doing that in my mind. It consumed my small social life. However since then, I have faltered and made some mistakes myself, some obvious things, but in my mind it's the not so obvious things that pulled me away from my podium. Going into all of that is a bit more private of a conversation than I'm willing to talk about here, but suffice to say having been there, I feel no less human, and I understand where it is everyone is coming from now. They aren't any less of a moral being than I am now or was or will be. For humanity, the moral playground is level, no one is taller than anyone else. It was wrong for me to judge everyone, and it hurt me more than it did anyone else. Now that I'm walking on the same ground everyone else is, I don't spend time judging others, and I think that makes me a better person than being able to say I haven't made any mistakes myself. So even if the mistakes were transgressions in and of themselves, those mistakes have stopped what in my mind is the greatest transgression, playing God. And to me that is a fair trade off.

Monday, January 08, 2007

the semester

Time for a regular post again. I have something in mind for my next academic post already though.

A couple of things firstly, for whatever reason, I haven't been sleeping very well at all. I only got five hours of sleep last night, and seven the night before. I am really delirious without enough sleep. It's crazy. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Secondly, the federal government is good. I worked over the entirety of the break, but thanks to holidays, I received four days off with pay.

My MWF schedule is going to be amazingly easy. I have three communication classes. They are all freshman level classes. I have to catch up since my major switch. The teachers are really funny so far, and one class doesn't even have tests to take. And I already have three classes canceled. It's wonderful. I'm glad I switched majors.

I am going to have a lot of free time this semester. I am done on Tuesday and Thursday at 12. I don't know what I'm going to do in the afternoon. I am going to take piano lessons for my minor, but that will take up only a bit. So, does anyone have a suggestion as to what I can do? Not necessarily work, but if it's fun work, I wouldn't mind.

I think I'm going to really enjoy myself this semester. I can't wait.
 
2003-2016 Michael Battalio (michael[at]battalio.com)