Archive for July, 2008

Picture of the Week

California fire ravages countryside
California fire ravages countryside

I was reading the news and I came across this picture. The California fires have been scorching the forests and countryside. I just really enjoy this picture. It’s very surreal and it inspired me to start a Photo of the Week section. Woo!

If Jered Is Running, He Is Probably Listening To One of These Songs

Everyone has a favorite mix for special occassions, moments, activities and so on. This week, I decided to compile a top ten (in reality, they’re not in any particular order) of songs that I currently listen to while going on a run. If you want the song, I can try linking it with my internet know-how, but for now I’ll just list them…in no particular order. You’ll be getting more top ten playlists down the road for various other activities that I do: snorkeling, spelunking, sky diving, tree felling, pottery-making, world-conquering, boxing, fencing, etc. etc. etc…

10. Wolfmother – Woman

9. La Grange – ZZ Top

8. Man’s Needs – CSS

7. I Go Hard, I Go Home – Presets

6. Comforting Sounds – Mew

5. Immigrant Song – Led Zepplin

4. Ma Don’t + Every Woman – VNDLSM

3. Dashboard – Modest Mouse

2. Icky Thump – White Stripes

1. I Wanna Be A Style Crusader – Big Face

Who You Are In Text

Personality tests are weird. First of all, they attempt to explain who you are in words, which most of us really can’t do to explain ourselves (I know I have a tough time doing it). It’s like describing to other people what one particular person looks like that you know whom they have never met. You can use key phrases such as: “Mary Smith has blue eyes and light, blonde hair” or “she is tall and skinny” or “she is pale and has brown eyes that are close together.” In reality, you really didn’t describe in such a way that really makes that person stand out amongst a large crown. I liken this to attempting to describe personalities in an indepth way.

Personalities: They’re fun! They’re Different! They’re Unique!

However, I did take a personality test and it was very close to what I picture myself to be. It’s only 60 questions and everyone I sent it to said the exact same thing. Being a Psychology and a Communications major (useless, I know), I’ve taken ridiculous personality tests that take over an hour. Those tests do point out things that I think describe me, but 50 percent of the time I’m like “really? I’m not this or I’m not that.” Do thistest. It’s fun, simple and quick. Let’s just say I was likened to Oprah and Michail Gorbachev and Michael Jordan. Sweet. Apparently, the only difference between them and me is a few million dollars.

You can take the test here. Once you do, I’ll maybe tell you what I got if you tell me yours.

A Staggering Genius Writes Heartbreaking Works

Believe it or not, Jered is re-reading a book. This book called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Jered does not re-read books, but he is for this particular piece of work because of a variety of calculated reasons.

1. Jered read it almost five years ago.

2. Jered remembered that it was a great book.

3. As soon as Jered began reading it, he felt like it was like re-visiting an old friend.

4. Jered was not feeling particularly bold or daring enough on that specific day that he began reading this book to go find a new book to read. Finding new books to read is enjoyable and an adventure in itself, but on that particular day, he was not emboldened to undertake such a risky endeavor (aka he was being lazy).

Now that I have the formalities out of the way, let me tell you about this fine little read. First of all, I love Egger’s style of writing. He writes in a slightly sarcastic way, bordering on the sardonic, yet treading lightly as not to seem overbearing or rude. He is random in his prose. His thoughts almost seem disjointed and slightly unhinged, but once you read a particular story or theme, you’ll realize that it was very calculated. This type of writing might leave a person initially disenchanted and confused, but you’ll soon discover that it all makes sense.

The book is labelled a memoir, but with a creative non-fiction slant. Eggers takes a great deal of liberties to flesh out the book. He deliberately exaggerates the memories he recalls in order to weave together a yarn that makes sense. Admit it, I’m sure we have all exaggerated certain aspects of our memory when we retell them to others. Eggers just does it in a way that is believable and interesting way without it ever becoming a “big fish” story.

One of my favorite aspects of AHWOSGis the preface. It is the longest preface known to man (slight exaggeration) that seemingly never ends. I’m not going to give it away, but I felt like it was a novella on it’s own. A second thing I enjoyed about the book is that Eggers is extremely self-effacing. He is self-conscientious about being self-conscientious towards you thinking he is self-conscientious. He was 22 when the events started in the book. The catalyst of his story is when he is forced to deal with the death of his two parents, both of whom died within five months apart from each other. In turn, he was entrusted to raise his little 8-year-old brother in a world where the yuppie youth is driven by unhindered passion, selfishness and individualism. AHWOSG is so eloquently written that he reminds you of life’s uncertainties and sadness while retaining a sense of humor. On the surface, it might seem to be a comedic book, but once you dive past the layers, you’ll find a story of raw emotion and authenticity, where a man tries to make some small, sensible rationale in light of the world’s bitter treatment.

I suggest you give it a whirl if you’ve never read it. Take a daring move that I didn’t take (at least this last time around).

A thing that has annoyed Jered this week

What annoyed me this week? The escalade with big rims or suped-up, gas-guzzling SUV containing typically only one individual who sports big (fake) diamond earrings, has a very cliche tatoo of barbed wire around his sleeve, wearing a 200 dollar t-shirt with glitter on it (glitter belongs in a pre-school, not on a t-shirt of a 29-year-old man)t hat has the immortal, hardcore words “AFFLICTION” emblazoned in gold, also sporting oversized, $500-plus, designer sunglasses that would make Paris Hilton jealous, while listening to Ja Rule with his $10,000 sound system, with all the windows rolled down trying so desperately to get everyone’s attention.

I’m walking around in the city, trying to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and the sounds of birds and chattering people, and all of a sudden, this tank of flashy, designer products come thundering through with his gurgled rap lines and muffled bass beats, breaking all that is peaceful. I try with every inch of my soul not to look as does everyone else around me, but someone will inadvertedly look and comment to the people around them. That person who looked has just given the man props, whether they like it or not. Choche man has succeeded. Next time, keep your eyes forward and pay no heed to this man. His goal is just a simple glance from you.

I wonder what’s going through this young man’s head? Is he thinking “hey, if I play my music super loud in my super nice car while wearing my super cool clothes, a super hot girl will think ‘gee, he really has hit to the core of me. I want to get to know him.’ Maybe this happens, maybe it doesn’t. However, for this week, Mr. Choche man, you succeeded in annoying me.

        +           = Jered annoyed

Top Ten Ways Jered Makes A Slow Day at the Office (seemingly) Fly By

I work at an office. We have casual days. We have summer barbeques. We have awkard birthday celebrations. We have Super-Casual day. We have company outings. We have water coolers that people talk around. We have a television in the lunch room where people watch the Office non-stop. We have quality assurance. We have company meetings in the board room. Basically, I work in an office, but it isn’t like The Office. It’s like Office Space and The Office, but devoid of humor.

Luckily for me, I recently got promoted to do something else. However, during the previous 6 months, I was a cog in the clock, a gear in the machine, a hampster in the wheel, you get the point. During this time, I found ways to entertain myself from going insane besides talking with the voices in my head.

Top Ten Ways Jered Beat the Office

10. Stare out the window and count cars. That’s right. I have a cubicle window view. Suck it!

9. Count the number of times the dude at the next cubicle goes “mmmm” in a five minute conversation (it averages 100-150 times). It sounds as if he is eating Manna from heaven. Yes. That is how I would describe it. Why else would a person go “mmmmm” about 20 times a minute unless he is eating something as delicious as bread from heavens.

8. Set personal records for not looking at the clock. Personal Record: 3.3242 hours.

7. Sneak off to play Bubble-Breaker on my phone and set new records. I’m working towards a 1000+ point combo. My personal best stands at 960. One day, I will destroy you, Point 1000.

6. Look forward to the Sub-of-the-Day at Subway. However, there is one day that I do not look forward to: Thursday. Thursday is ham sub day. Oh, how I despise ham, the annoying red-headed kid of meats.

5. See if I can make it past the 4.5 hour barrier for lunch. I typically make it to the 4.5 hour barrier everytime before my stomach starts caving in on itself. One time I made the herculean feat of 6.5 hours into the work day without food. I was proud. We all know taking lunch at the 4 hour point makes the second half of the day go slow. Lunch at the 4 hour point is for amatuers.

4. Try to figure out what tunes the guy on the otherside of the cubicle hums. I could only recognize one, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallca. I believe all other melodies must be original works. Magical.

3. Make oregami with Post-It notes. Did you know that “Post-It’s” is a brand and not just an item? Kind of like Kleenex. Kleenex is a brand, tissue is the item. Nevermind, I’m boring myself telling you these things.

2. Work harder to win an iPod in the quarterly department contest. Pshhh. Came in second. Lame. Won a 100 dollar gift certificate to an expensive restaurant instead. I can’t return it for cold hard cash, which I would use to buy an iPod or 20 meals at McDonalds or a tank of gas (100 dollars fills my car up for one and a half times. Shoot me) or 30 Starbucks coffees or new running shoes, etc. You get the point. Instead, I have to use it on a 40 dollar plate of steak. Maybe I’ll use it for a date. Now that’s classy, using a gift certificate to an expensive restuarant on a date. Just kidding. I’d never do that. Or will I? Lucky girls out there, watch out, because Jered has free money to spend on you.

1. Go make copies.

My job is boring, but I think I’m still an interesting person. Right?

A sham election

Robert Magabe, one of the Africa’s most notorious leaders, was ‘re-elected’ into his seat as a executive president. Many countries have or are considering ignoring the legitimacy of Magabe’s candidacy due to vote-rigging on top of decades of political unrest and acts of state terror. He has systematically abused the people of Zimbabwe. The chasm between international guarantees of human rights and the abuse instigated by Mugabe against Zimbabweans continue to widen.

Mugabe once compared himself to Hitler in an article by the Daily Telegraph of London. Mugabe said in the article that “this Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold”.

One story about a man, a former Zimbabwean prison guard by the name of Shepherd Yuda, has recently surfaced. He filmed, in secret, vote-rigging at his prison that he worked at. For doing this, he has been forced, along with other fellow prison guards, to flee his country. He was forced to vote for Mugabe by superior officers. The people of Zimbabwe do not have a chance to choose who they want in office and if they attempt to vote for the Mudabe’s opposing party, it might mean death.

Let me paint you a picture of how desperate the times are in Zimbabwe. The horrors the people of Zimbabwe face on a regular basis is exponential. On the financial side, the average income for a Zimbabwean has dropped from $975 in 1990 a year to below $400. The inflation rate continues to soar and is already over 620 percent above normal. The unemployment rate of Zimbabwe is at 70 percent and climbing.

On the health side, accordingly to the World Health Organisation, the life expectancy at birth for Zimbabwean men is 37 years and 34 years for women, the lowest of any country in the world. The life expectancy used to be in the 60’s in 1990. One in four people have HIV and over 4,000 of them day each week because of it. Even though the United States has provided over 400 million dollars in food aid between 2002 to 2007, Mugabe has placed government policies that has directly caused Zimbabwe to have the highest number of people starving to death. He uses international food aid for economic power against Zimbabweans and maniputes the distribution of international and government food aid to benefit his political manueverings. For example, A Zimbabwe citizen cannot have access to food aid unless he or she possesses a registration card that supports Mugabe’s political party.

Also, many consider Mugabe as racist and homophobic because of various comments he has made throughout his history in power. He has systematically attempted to remove the white population from Zimbabwe, who he considers to be enemies of the state.

In 2005, Mugabe drove out 10,000 homeless individuals from their make-shift shelters that he had placed there originally by the Mugabe-installed Operation Murambatsvina (literally meaning: Drive Out the Rubbish). Many of the poor that was displaced from their already-shanty homes to cardboard boxes supported the Movement for Democratic Change opposition party, which further illustrates that the move was politically-driven by Mugabe.

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg of what Mugabe has done to the people of Zimbwabe. I could go on and on about the atrocities that he has inflicted on his people and it would take awhile to go through the endless examples and stories. We may not be able to directly influence or change Zimbabwe, but what I want to point out is how ridiculously lucky/blessed we are to be able to vote, or even more specifically, the freedom to choose whoever we want to govern us. I think we take it for granted. I know I do. I’m a hypocrite, but I want to try.

How lucky are we that we get to vote? We are not impeded by the military, the government or any other outside force to choose who we want in office. The election is around the corner and as always, people are divided by who they want in office, but we should consider the opportunity to vote for the most powerful man on the planet as an honor. With that honor and right to choose, we have the responsibility to research and learn who we best feel represents us and the country. Don’t just cull an opinion from one source. Research the news, talk to people who don’t agree with you, talk to people who agree with you, watch the news, read the news, read books, learn both sides, but ultimately, make a well-informed choice.

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