“I know that’s redundant, but otherwise it doesn’t spell anything.”

Okay, so in one of my very first blog entries, I mentioned that this blog would probably include “a healthy dose of information about my cat’s daily activities.” And yet, here we are, several months in…AND I HAVE NOT DELIVERED! I’m certain that everyone is extremely disappointed about this. However, it turns out, believe it or not, that my cat’s daily activities are really not all that interesting. Shocking!

Thus, instead of devoting a blog entry to my cat, I will devote a blog entry to his namesake, THE BRITISH PHILOSOPHER THOMAS HOBBES.

Ha, ha! Just kidding. You thought I was going to talk about philosophers again! No. Hobbes is named after Hobbes the tiger, from Calvin & Hobbes. BUT! Hobbes the tiger, the character, is actually named after Thomas Hobbes the philosopher! This is a true fact. Which is how I justify the fact that my cat is named Hobbes even though he is not orange like a tiger. Stripes of Hobbes the tiger, INTELLECT OF HOBBES THE PHILOSOPHER. Get it? Except for how sometimes he chases his tail until he catches it, and then bites it so hard that he seriously hurts himself. Not REALLY philosopher caliber, unless we are talking about Nietzsche after he went crazy from the syphilis. Oh god, the philosopher count is now at two.

Look, the point is, it’s time we stopped beating around the bush and just addressed this matter head-on: I AM OBSESSED WITH CALVIN & HOBBES, PROBABLY TO AN UNHEALTHY DEGREE. This should be pretty apparent by now, I guess, by virtue of the fact that my last several entries, and my About page, all include Calvin & Hobbes strips.  If you don’t also love Calvin & Hobbes, PLEASE KEEP READING, because I am about to beat you over the head with a list of reasons why Calvin & Hobbes is the greatest comic strip ever written, AND YOU WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY HAVE A DRAMATIC CHANGE OF OPINION.

So, here we go.

1. Calvin & Hobbes is the greatest comic strip ever written because it addresses big questions.

2. And because it addresses small questions.

3. Because it concerns itself with politics.

4. And because it concerns itself with religion.

\

5. Calvin & Hobbes is the best comic strip ever written because there is a sarcastic tiger.

6. And a dad who makes up almost as much stuff as my dad.

7. It is the best comic strip every written because, sometimes, Calvin fancies himself a sophisticated intellectual.

8. And sometimes he’s just a kid.

9. Calvin & Hobbes is the greatest comic strip ever written because Calvin and Hobbes make pretty amazing clubs.

10. And even more amazing snowmen.

11. Calvin & Hobbes is the greatest comic strip ever written because it explores kid problems.

12. Without ignoring adult ones.

13. And because sometimes it uses big words.

14. While other times it uses hardly any.

15. And, throughout it all, Calvin & Hobbes conveys an appealing and understandable general disdain for humanity.

16. Mostly, though? Calvin & Hobbes is just funny.

If you ask me, Bill Watterson has as much right to the “Literature” category as Camus, Schopenhauer, and Kundera.

Advertisements
Posted in Calvin & Hobbes, Literature | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Upside: No Philosophy; Downside: No Calvin & Hobbes

When I was about 13 years old, my mother said to me: “You have an addictive personality. Never drink.” THIS MAY OR MAY  NOT have been in reference to the fact that I really liked the Backstreet Boys. Who knows. Hard to say.

I do drink, so far mostly without incident (EXCLUDING THAT ONE KENMORE SQUARE THING), but she was still definitely right about the addictive personality. When I like something, I really like something. For example, I once bought Cheetos from the vending machine at work every day for about three weeks. I AM NOT PROUD OF THIS, but there you go.

Anyway, here is a list of things to which I am currently addicted:

1. Alpacas. Obviously, guys. If you don’t know this already, you are definitely not paying attention. Here are some fun facts about alpacas:

  • THEY POOP ALL IN THE SAME PLACE AND THEY WAIT IN LINE FOR THEIR TURN.

That is it! That is all the fun facts. BUT ISN’T THAT ENOUGH? Come on! I mean, based on this one criterion alone, alpacas are basically more civilized than humans. Have you ever tried waiting in line outside the women’s room at Fenway Park? Well I HAVE, and I would trade those women for a line of alpacas IN ABOUT ONE SECOND. Good god. Also, I’m pretty sure alpacas cannot talk on their cell phones in the bathroom stalls. So.

2. My plants. I have three plants at work. One is a…thing thing. Okay, I don’t know what it is. It was a gift from one of our vendors two Christmases ago, and my boss plopped it on my bookshelf and said, “Here, take care of this.” So I did, BEGRUDGINGLY AT FIRST, until I realized that when you pay attention to plants (i.e., water them), they live and look nice and you feel kind of good about yourself. Anyway, okay. The second is an orchid, which I have already talked about. Currently, my orchid has four flowers blooming and is quite pretty, except that one of the petals looks like someone took a bite out of it. I don’t know. I blame the cleaning lady. The THIRD is an African violet. Actually, I have two of them, BOTH OF WHICH HUNG OUT IN THE TRUNK OF MY CAR FOR SEVERAL WEEKS LAST JULY. (This is true.) No sunlight, no water, and it was probably 120 degrees in there. Until, one day, I was sitting at my desk, and suddenly thought, “Oh, sweet Jesus, I have African violets in my trunk.” I was certain they were long dead, naturally, WHICH IS WHY I let them sit in my office basically without watering them for another 8 months. (This is also true.) Then, one day, for no apparent reason, I thought: “Okay, I’m going to give this African violet thing a try.” And NOW THEY ARE BLOOMING. So, whatever. I am apparently the Plant Whisperer. (WHICH IS FUNNY, because I am constantly talking to my plants, and usually IN a whisper, since otherwise my co-workers get a little weirded out.)

3. Google-translating random German words and then dropping them in emails to my German colleagues. EXAMPLE: donut. EXAMPLE: Okay that is the only one I’ve done so far, but I decided this is going to be a new thing. Sorry, German colleagues!

4. Plaid. Okay, I know this one is pretty trendy right now, but PLEASE BE ASSURED that I have always loved plaid. FACT: I wore a red plaid shirt LITERALLY TO RAGS when I was a freshman in college. Literally, in that, once it was too raggedy to wear, I ripped it up and used the material to patch a pair of pants. (Needless to say, my college roommates did not want a whole lot to do with me.) Anyway, plaid is cool and hipster now, apparently, and you can judge me if you want, but I like it. (I also like skinny jeans, bangs, and funky glasses, AND I AM EXTREMELY UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT IT. So whatever.)

5. Alcohol. Ha, ha! Just kidding. That was to see whether you were paying attention.

Good lord. For everyone’s sake, I hope something really interesting happens to me soon, because this blog is pathetic.

Posted in Rambling | Tagged | Leave a comment

This Blog Entry Will Almost Certainly Bore You

This is another boring blog entry, and I apologize in advance. I feel badly that I told a bunch of additional people about this stupid blog, and now am writing consecutive posts that refer to philosophy. Sorry, guys. I assure you that, really soon, I will return to more vapid ramblings. Probably because I will have exhausted the extent of my philosophical knowledge, which is pretty scant.

Anyway. THIS ENTRY IS ABOUT CHOICES, AND FREE WILL, AND STUFF. And for some reason, I will begin by complaining. Here we go.

I’m now PRACTICALLY 30, which means that I think I can say with legitimate authority that my 20s could have been better. Difficult breakups, some bad relationships with family members, lost friendships, my stupid cat falling off a thing and almost dying, THAT TIME THAT GUY WRONGLY ACCUSED ME OF STEALING ICE CREAM, and, you know, getting divorced. Certainly not the WORST problems in the world to have – I have a home and food and a family, and I count myself lucky in all those respects – but some of them were kind of tough. (ESPECIALLY THAT ICE CREAM ONE, JESUS CHRIST.)

So, on the one hand, I’m pretty jazzed about leaving my 20s behind (it’s still another 1.5 years away, but still). On the other hand, all of the sudden it seems like I’m making alarmingly momentous decisions at alarmingly increasing rates. THIS IS A LITTLE DISCONCERTING. For example, when I was 18, a really hard decision was, “Gee, should I dye my hair PLUSH PLUM, or RUBY RED?” This was a question I would debate for hours, if not days, trying to find random articles of clothing that would most closely match said colors, and then draping them around my head, AS IF THAT WAS GOING TO GIVE ME AN IDEA OF WHAT I WOULD LOOK LIKE.

(That is a true story, guys. It’s fine, you can laugh; it’s a ridiculous image. Also, please note, I’M FUCKING COLORBLIND.)

Now, though, instead of debating the merits of Plush Plum and Ruby Red, I’m worrying about where I’m going to LIVE, and where I’m going to WORK, and whether I’m going to buy PROPERTY, and whether I’m going to raise ALPACAS…etc., etc. These are big decisions, obviously. Hair grows out, guys, but alpacas are forever. Or, you know. 12-15 years? Actually…I have no idea how long an alpaca lives. BUT SURELY IT IS LONGER THAN IT TAKES TO GROW OUT HAIR.

Anyway, as I ponder these life decisions, I’m reminded of reading those Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid. You know, the ones where you were given options about what the main character would do next, and then flip to the appropriate page to see how the story worked out. These were GENIUS, I thought. I GOT TO MAKE ALL THE DECISIONS! Except that, the thing was, once I played out one version of the story, I could always go back to the other decision, just to see what would have happened. Which is how I arrived at the idea that, when I died, it would be awesome if I could then trace back through my life and see what would have happened if I had made different major life decisions. (Please don’t ask me what MAJOR LIFE DECISIONS I was concerned about at the age of 8, when I was reading Choose Your Own Adventure books, but it’s probably fair to assume that it had something to do with what color glasses chain I should wear. NOBODY TOLD ME THOSE WEREN’T COOL, OKAY?)

Obviously, all of this was before I’d figured out whether I believed in “fate” or “god.” And once I ultimately decided I didn’t believe in the latter (thanks, Richard Swinburne, for your wholly unconvincing arguments!), I concluded that it was impossible to believe in the former. Then I read Arthur Schopenhauer (one of the great German philosophers who someday I will probably not read in his native language); specifically, Über die Freiheit des menschlichen Willen (On the Freedom of the Will). Basically, Schopenhauer concluded that, while there are no physical obstacles preventing us from making whatever decision we want to make (i.e., there is no predetermined fate), we only ever truly want to make one decision, and we are incapable of making a decision other than that one.

This is not to say that we don’t truly agonize over decisions – we do – but rather that, in the end, the decision we make is the decision we want to make, consciously or not. So, while there is nothing external deciding our fate, it is still the case that we could not have done other than what we did. If you could go back, and go back again, and go back again, you would make the same exact decision every time. (To horribly, horribly oversimplify it. My apologies, Herr Schopenhauer.)

IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT POSSIBLE THAT ANYONE HAS CONTINUED READING THIS FAR.

If, for some absolutely insane reason, someone IS still actually reading this, you’re in for a grave disappointment: I have no ultimate point. That’s why this entry is categorized in RAMBLING; did you not notice that?! I don’t know. Whatever. The non-point is, I’ve made a lot of decisions, and will continue to make more. Some of them have been good, and some of them have been bad. But the others, the really scary ones, are forever unclassifiable, because – much to my 8-year-old self’s dismay – life isn’t a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Seriously, though, guys, and this is really important: Glasses chains are NEVER a good decision. Regardless of the color. I’m pretty sure even Arthur Schopenhauer would agree with me on that one.

ONCE AGAIN, I am sincerely sorry for boring you to death, and, by way of apology, will conclude with another Calvin & Hobbes comic.

Posted in Calvin & Hobbes, Literature, Rambling | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Burning and Frigid

*Edited to note: Maybe this blog entry will be less boring if I had a Calvin & Hobbes strip at the end? GREAT IDEA.*

I changed my blog URL. There is a long explanation for why, upon which I am not going to embark. Instead, I am going to explain the choice of phrase: “burning and frigid.” It comes from the incomparable Albert Camus, and his incomparable Myth of Sisyphus:

The absurd man thus catches sight of a burning and frigid, transparent and limited universe in which nothing is possible but everything is given, and beyond which all is collapse and nothingness. He can then decide to accept such a universe and draw from it his strength, his refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation.

It sounds depressing, but it isn’t. The point is: live anyway. If you prefer, you can look at it the way Thomas Walker looks at it:

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and because it has fresh peaches in it.

Or, if you’re not a particular fan of fresh peaches, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘s way:

Clementine: This is it, Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.
Joel: I know.
Clementine: What do we do?
Joel: Enjoy it.

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus characterizes humanity as longing for meaning in a meaningless world. It is a paradox, of sorts. Transparent and limited. Burning and frigid.

But, it’s not all getting worse. His conclusion:

It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life has to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.

The point is, if you want to quit your job and raise alpacas, or quit your job and move to an island – or WHATEVER you need to do – Camus is probably on board.

Posted in Calvin & Hobbes, Literature | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

OKAY YES I AM COLOGNE-BOUND

Plans have changed again, and now I am definitely Cologne-bound. WOW. This must really be an emotional roller-coaster ride for the avid readers of my blog! Well, all three of you can relax now. The pressing is-she-going-to-Cologne-or-is-she-not-going-to-Cologne question has been answered definitively. PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME WHY THIS HAS CHANGED SO MANY TIMES. Traveling is hard. Anyway, so yes, I will be flying into Frankfurt and then taking a train to Cologne. There I will be picked up by two colleagues who are NOT jet-lagged, and who will thus almost certainly find me quite unpleasant. It’s going to be pretty great.

IN ANTICIPATION OF MY TRIP TO GERMANY, and because I like to pretend I am a scholar of German philosophy (I am not) who may someday read German philosophers in their original language (I will not), I AM CONSIDERING TAKING A GERMAN LANGUAGE CLASS. Unless I decide NOT to take a German language class, which is possible, because it is very expensive, and will pretty much rob me of my Sundays for the next three months.

HERE IS WHERE I WAS GOING TO INSERT A POLL ABOUT WHETHER I SHOULD TAKE A GERMAN LANGUAGE CLASS. Then I didn’t, for two reasons:

  1. I’m concerned there would be no votes.
  2. I’m concerned there would be a MILLION votes, because my brother rigged up some sort of weird Microsoft-enabled electronic voting thing that selected “Yes (Ja)” and then added comments consisting of randomly-generated names of cheeses.

Actually, neither of those is true. The reason I didn’t insert a poll is that, in order to do so, I had to sign up for a website other than WordPress. I AM TIRED OF SIGNING UP FOR WEBSITES. Also, the website was called…”Poll Daddy.”

To summarize:

  • I am going to Cologne.
  • I may take a German language course.
  • I did not sign up for Poll Daddy.

Okay, I wasn’t going to say anything, but I changed my mind: AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS POLL DADDY IS AN ABSURD AND VAGUELY DIRTY NAME?!

Posted in Words | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Not Actually Cologne-Bound At All, In Fact

So, here’s the thing. It turns out I don’t know anything about German trains, and that I misunderstood something or other from someone or other, and as a result I was completely wrong about taking a train from Frankfurt to Cologne to Bonn. I am not doing this at all! Of which my mildly alarmed colleague informed me first thing Monday morning, having read my misinformed blog entry. Thank you, mildly alarmed colleague! And sorry for mildly alarming you. Anyway, everything is fine, and I probably will not accidentally end up in Berlin.

Also guys, it’s actually Köln, not Cologne, and I don’t know why we Americans need to add all those extra letters. Maybe it’s because in order to do the umlaut I had to google “koln” and then copy and paste the umlauted “o” from the Interwebs. Maybe it’s also because I just made “umlaut” an adjective, which it almost certainly cannot be. Okay, fine. I get it. AMERICANS CANNOT HANDLE FOREIGN THINGS LIKE UMLAUTS UMLAUTE.*

In other news, 99% of people have told me that I should see a doctor about my tick bite, including several people who are in training to be doctors themselves. However, I intend to ignore all of them, and instead go with the advice of my father, who had this to say:

Me: Dad, I maybe got a tick bite. I don’t have to go to the doctor, right?
Dad: You MAYBE got a tick bite?
Me: Well. Sure. I mean, I didn’t EXAMINE it. I’m not a BIOLOGIST. Or an endologist, or whatever the -gist is that does bugs.
Dad: But did it look like a tick.
Me: Well. Yes.
Dad:And did it stick in your skin a little.
Me: Wellllllll, yes.
Dad: And were you in the woods.
Me: Yessss….
Dad: Eh, I wouldn’t worry about it.

So, shut up everyone. My dad cleaned teeth on an aircraft carrier and HE KNOWS STUFF.

*Edited to note the third reason Americans cannot handle an umlaut: IT IS REALLY CONFUSING TO PLURALIZE.

Posted in Bugs | Tagged | 1 Comment

Out of Sorts

I learned two very important lessons this weekend:

1. When you are out of sorts, you should NOT drink dirty martinis, because then you will probably pick a fight with someone in the middle of Kenmore Square.

2. When you are out of sorts, you SHOULD go on a hike in the middle of nowhere, AND THEN YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY CHECK YOUR LEFT ARM FOR TICKS AFTER.

I guess that’s three very important lessons. Big weekend.

Ticks live here.

ADDENDUM:

I just looked up the origin of the phrase “out of sorts,” and one theory is that it comes from typesetting. Let’s agree, this is interesting and oddly appropriate!

Posted in Bugs, I hate people, Words | Leave a comment