When Life Gives You Eggs…

This was taken from my recent draft submittal for my satirical column in The Athenian.

pizza

Valentine’s Day seems to render two distinctly different emotions: excitement or dread.  If you’ve got someone and you’re anxious for whatever surprises you’ll get or give, then you’re probably bubbling with excitement for the one day of the year that you might actually feel special.  (But, god forbid, if someone were to forget the date…)  Maybe the pressure to make the day special is too much for you and you’re contemplating breaking up with the other person on the 13th, then asking them back out the 15th.  I mean, why spend the money?

Ah, but maybe you have no one.  And here you are, trapped alone in the United States on this dreadful day full of sickeningly red, pink, and white hearts, flowers, cards, disgustingly sweet boxes of chocolates, fat cherubs, arrows, advertisements, heart-shaped pizzas, busy restaurants, and a take-out menu looming in the corner on your refrigerator.  Maybe you had someone and you thought it was going to last until this day.  Maybe you never had anyone and don’t know what it feels like to celebrate.  Well, not everyone has a Valentine’s Day full of chocolates, roses, and cheesy gifts.  I mean, do you really think all those men in countries where they take dozens of wives are really going to care about some fruitcake holiday?  Does anyone even know why it came to be or is it just another Hallmark event?

First, let me present to you a taste of global Valentine’s Day experiences: If people celebrate this day at all, they do it in even crazier, stranger ways than the States.  People in Wales don’t even honor Saint Valentine; they have their own patron of love.  In France, a ban by the government had to be put on the old tradition of walking across the street and matching up with random singles because the rejected women got too rowdy burning photos and other memorabilia of the men who rejected them.  In Denmark and Norway, men send out rhymes to women with their names signed as a series of dots instead of letters.  If the women can’t guess who it is, they owe him an egg at Easter.  If they guess it, he owes her an egg.  Gotta love them eggs.

The Asian cultures, though, many of them are crazy.  In Japan, it’s said that it’s the woman’s job to surprise the man – the one time of the year that it’s acceptable for affection to be displayed between them.  They give out different “levels” of chocolate, like “obligatory” chocolates that basically say “Here ya go, but I don’t particularly want to give you this”.  But what really gets me is those South Koreans.  They have completely taken the 14th of February to a new level.  Not only do they make traditions between couples, but also get-togethers with singles at restaurants where they eat black noodles in groups.  They have made an event day for EVERY SINGLE 14TH DAY OF EACH MONTH.  So Black Day, White Day, Kiss Day, Rose Day, Hug Day,… Talk about stressful; I’d just accept a heart-shaped pizza to myself and stay in the States.

But maybe that doesn’t make you feel any better, knowing how loony the world is.  Maybe you’re still lonely and you want to feel better.  Well, my friend, I have a great strategy: Go make your life awesome.  I’ll tell you how.  So let’s say you’re a college-aged girl and there’s this guy in your Calculus class that you just love SO much because he’s actually somewhat good-looking (for Case) and he totally can do all of your homework for you.  Well, because he goes to Case, I can guarantee he is well-connected to the Internet.  This is your window of opportunity, you just need to know how to use it.  The plan is to make yourself desirable to him and get him to ask you out on a V-Day (or Belated V-Day) date.

First, stalk him.  Check out all of his likes on Facebook and like them as well.  Scan through all of his photos to see what he does.  Check out his best friends.  Maybe follow them around some and watch what they do and monitor what they like to talk about.  Don’t forget Twitter, either.  Get SMS notifications sent to your phone when he tweets and pray there’s geo-locations attached.  If not, see if he has Instagram or watch when he uploads photos – they all have geo-tags now.  Make a Pinterest board of all the things you’re going to have to like now in order for him to like you and make another one for all of the things you need to forget to like that he doesn’t seem to like.  Watch all of the movies he likes, read the books he has read, and play the video games he plays.

Second, make yourself desirable.  Go on Facebook and make an account for a fake friend.  Add a bunch of hot people as his friends, but only guys.  Make sure it says on his status that he is single.  Upload a bunch of photos, mostly of ones you’re Photoshopped in with him having a crazy-awesome time.  Post on each other’s walls and share links to things that you think the guy you like might find interesting.  Have your friend comment on your posts with stuff like “oh, that’s dumb” and then retort with “Well, that’s why we’re not dating!  We just don’t like the same things.”  Make sure your crush sees your posts and clutter his feed.

If this doesn’t work, then hell…Just add your fake friend as your boyfriend and Photoshop pictures of you guys eating tubs of ice cream, heart-shaped pizzas, and boxes of chocolates together while cuddling with your cats and watching The Notebook.  I mean, whatever.  At least you’re not getting (or giving) an egg in a month.

The Future: Where Are We Headed?

population_growth

As an environmental engineer, I can’t help but think about the future and what is becoming of our planet.  I study charts and statistics about how the world is environmentally spinning out of control and analyze the correlations of this erraticism to the evolutions of technology over the last several centuries.  I have concluded that the sharing of information has become both the most and least progressive movements of the human age.  How is that so?  And where does that take us now?

I doubt many people can argue that the ability to communicate ever more efficiently has accelerated the progression of man.  From our days in caves when language first developed, to spreading word of warfare or the discovery of new land, we have constantly been moving and changing our actions according to word of mouth.  Both verbal and physical language alter how we perceive others and situations and are the primary ways in which we communicate both intentionally and unintentionally.  First we developed oral language, then we developed messengers and means to communicate outside of our direct linguistic groups.  This turned into a written language with mail carriers.  With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, we were suddenly sending information via Pony Express, telegraph, radio, telephone, Internet… but where are we heading now?

Communication with such ease is both a blessing and a curse.  Although we can share important information to help accelerate a situation (how loved ones are doing, what someone has discovered in a laboratory, that a tornado is coming), this communication also affects us negatively in two ways.   Firstly, think of our history of bad choices, such as slavery.  We communicated the idea that slavery is a good choice, then we chose to select certain peoples as victims and exploit certain regions which were communicated to one another over the years and distances.  The second way that communication has negatively impacted society is that, although curing disease and preventing disasters are desirable to a person, they are not necessarily beneficial to humanity as a whole.  No one wants to hear it, but overpopulation is a rapidly growing concern and communicating ideas and warnings that prevent nature from taking its course instead facilitates the spread of problems and population booms that would otherwise not exist.

As a dorky engineer, I like to model the growth of human technology, population, and communication as a conglomerate graph: y = ex. What does that mean?  Well, x simply notes the rate at which any of those categories exponentially grows.  It doesn’t take a very impressive number to accelerate y at a nauseating speed up the graph.  In fact, a horizontal asymptote can be readily achieved without moving very far down the x-axis.  In other words, infinity is achieved with ease.  But what does infinity mean in the real world?  What will happen when we reach this point of infinity?  When technology has multiplied with the spread of knowledge and grown so rapidly that it has now reached that asymptote line at the brink of infinity?

Mathematically speaking, we can’t even verbalize the concept of infinity.  Honestly, though, I argue that infinity is exactly what will happen.  We describe infinity with as much difficulty as we define “zero”, although “zero” is a concept we can visualize.  Infinity and the numbers approaching it are truly exponentially more difficult to visualize as they grow, which makes sense.  But it’s not enough for me.  Why can’t we visualize infinity?  Why can’t we predict where we are going?  Why can’t we see an end and a solution that are agreeable to this exponential growth?

Enter: Kayla’s slightly superstitious or perhaps extraterrestrial opinions.

I am wholeheartedly convinced that the human mind only has a certain capacity to imagine, invent, and comprehend.  Much like we cannot imagine a dimension beyond the third (unless we consider the addition of time an addition of dimension), I don’t believe our minds are suited to comprehend beyond a certain limit.  I believe the acceleration of an exponential graph – when the derivative becomes too steep – is the exact moment that we stop comprehending.  We’d like to say it’s “mind overload” or that our minds will “explode” trying to comprehend so much.  And although that might be a figurative explanation, isn’t it a bit naïve to blame our lack of comprehension on something that we can’t prove?  Isn’t that the same as assuming religion as the explanation for all things for which we have no better theory?  Like when the first peoples explained lighting as the power of a repulsed god?  Saying that suffrage was “meant to be” and is “his choice” because we need something to believe in?

Thus I define the asymptote of our growth and y as x approaches said asymptote to be the point at which our currently evolved brains have reached overcapacity.  In other words, progression stops at this point.  We are not equipped to compute, comprehend, and invent beyond this predefined limitation of our intelligence.  There is a way, however, to get around this barricade: that is to evolve.  But how can we evolve when we have converted from nomadic, warring lives to lives of comfort, luxury, and tight-knit societies?  How can we expect to evolve under such security blankets when we nurture the suffering, coddle the inept, and put bandages on every slight provocation?  We can’t.  And no one wants to hear those words, but the truth is we try too hard to play Mother Nature – or god if you so choose.  We cannot expect to progress as a race until we have overcome our crutches, namely our unprecedented compassion for helping, protecting, and saving all that would not otherwise survive.

So, in conclusion, the future, communication, and where we are headed all sums into the following: Communication has accelerated us exponentially in all good and bad aspects of our history as humans.  This acceleration will halt when we have reached the limit of our intelligence.  Our intelligence will not improve or progress because we have decided to protect and preserve all the flaws and populations “not meant to be” in our society.  But, all in all, we do not control the universe and Mother Nature will prevail.  Natural selection has been the law strongest against the test of time.  I do not see our intelligence progressing any further before we either kill each other or we screw up the environment enough for nature to kill us.  So I don’t think this entry has been particularly enlightening or relieving, but maybe it’s something to ponder on?  Or maybe it’s just something to which we ascent and proceed to accept our fate.  Maybe there is no way out.  Then, again, maybe that’s what nature intended?  C’est la vie.