Boston: Day 3

Rebecca had to work today but James and I went for a walk that eventually took us to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. We walked through Boston Commons, which is where I think alot of people used to raise cows. It was pretty cool although much more of a large city park then a reprieve from the city like Central Park is in New York.

So, here comes my first complaint about Boston: I can't get away from the city. I suppose Cleveland has been nice because I have always lived near some sort of wilderness. Either Lakeview Cemetary or, recently, the ravine acrost the street have given easily accessable "Getaways". As much as I love this city I have started to feel somewhat claustraphobic. It is just a low level ich to get out and run through the forest. Plop a central park down anywhere in the city and I think the problem would be solved. Could be though that I am really a country boy at heart! In that case I should be right at home in West Lafayette.

City Gardens was directly adjacent to Boston Commons and was groomed like a gardens area. Very nice overall with a pretty cool lagoon in the middle. There were even these boats that held about 20 people with one poor guy in the back pedeling the paddel. I felt so bad because it had to be 80 something and fairly humid. He didn't look to happy either!

Well, the rest of the city after Boston Commons was pretty typical city although it still somehow had the feeling of Boston. We eventually stopped at the Prudential Building, which has a mall at the ground floor, for lunch. The food court offered an Indian option so we tried that having had an excelent experiance at Richmond Mall's equivilent. Um, so ya... apparently not all Indian food is good. It felt very half assed which just doesn't work well with spicy food.

After lunch we found a Barns and Noble and I bought two books, the second and third in the Artemis Fowl series. We then went to the loby of the Sheriden I think and read for a while. Apparently the Indians, who are in town to play the Red Sox, are staying at that hotel because I saw tons of boys running around with baseball cards and baseballs looking for people to sign them. I even saw one player but I didn't recognize him so he must not have been Grady Siezemore ;-) .

Since we were in the area we headed over to Fenway Park after eventually breaking down and asking for directions. We were heading in the right direction!!! Anyway, Fenway was cool and we even briefly toyed with the idea of waiting in line 5 hours to see if there were any free tickets . When else am I going to get the chance to see the Indians play the Red Sox at Fenway?

After a quick subway back I crashed on the couch and James played some Warcraft Worlds. I tried to spend some time on my work for school but had a brain freeze so I went for a walk. I crossed the Charles River and must have been passed by 20 or 30 people walking back from work. I was walking slow because I was deep in thought :P I managed to get undernieth the new bridge that Boston built. A completely unnecessary design that is a waste from a structural standpoint but... wow is it pretty. And, even though I don't agree with the overall approach, many of the parts were beatifully designed.

After drooling over the bridge I walked across the damn holding back the Charles River. Apparently they had to do it to keep the level constant otherwise the tide makes it alternatively flood and dry up twice a day. I managed too to see a boat go through the boat locks which made my day. Seriously, the engineering section of my brain was tickled pink.

After I got back I had a mini-epiphiny related to work and so went out and typed for a while in the park along the harbor. It was a very pleasent experiance and definately got rid of that itch to get out of the city! After I came back to the appartment to type some more it was time for dinner...

ETHIOPIAN FOOD ROCKS OUT HARD CORE!!!! It isn't the best food I have ever had. That distinction still goes to Vasu's Mom's chicken curry. This restaurant, Addis Red Sea, was though on par with Uddipi Cafe, my favorite Indian restaurant. In terms of ambiance though Addis Red Sea won hands down. We sat on these short squat stools around a woven wicker table on which they placed one giant plate with all our food on it. We orded two combo dishes so we had a wide veriaty to taste from. Since all the food was good I deffinately recommend this approach. All the food was eaten with this flat, almost swedish pankake like bread that was absolutely wonderful. It didn't hurt that everything tasts better when eaten with your hands!

Tremont street, where the restaurant was located, was beautiful but quite obviously yuppie central. From there we walked through China Town before getting to the downtown area. Again, I can't stress how much I love from the downtown up through North End. It was quite a pleasant walk except for the fact that we all had to use the restroom before we got back.


Boston: Day 2

Up and atom at a bright and early 10:30 am! Breakfast of quesadias then off to Harvard Square to see Renee! We left early so that we could go see some of the icecream shops and stuff in the area. There was this Curious George Goes to Warington ( or something like that) that had the greatest collection of childrens books I have ever seen.

Apparently Boston "Takes it's ice cream seriously." To test this fact we went to what is considered the best ice cream shop in the city, Harroll's. Oh. My. God. I tried their Sweet Cream and a Malt Shake and both made my heart skip a beat.

It struck me while walking around Harvard Square that people in Boston seem to walk differently then anywhere I have been in the Midwest. It just seems normal to walk here. I get the impression that if you walk in Cleveland it is with your head down lest you make eye contact with anyone in the cars passing by. There must be some terrible reason you don't have a car because seriously... who would walk if they didn't have to!!! But that isn't the case here. People who drive cars are the anomaly.

I met Renee at Au Bon Pain, a good though overpriced sandwich shop. It was really nice to see her again. Turns out, she loves Boston too! And her job! Good deal all around. We walked around and chatted and after her beauty shop appointment we took the subway back to her apartment. Her mom is staying with her for the month and she made some excellent rice pudding which I had my share of! Her apartment, while beastly expensive, is probably the best apartment I have ever seen. I eventually was dropped off at the subway station and made my way back to the North End and Rebecca and James' place. It rained while I was on the subway but stopped when I got out at North Station. The rain really cooled everything down though so the walk was pretty pleasent.

Dinner of Pesto pasta with chicken, seriously only my second time having it but both have been heaven.

After dinner we escaped the heat of the apartment (seriously, we just boiled noodles and used the broiler in the oven to toast garlic bread. But with a place that small... ) and took a walk down ot the harbor. Eventually we passed by the aquarium and I got to see some seals. I guess as a teaser the aquarium keeps part of the seal exhibit outdoors so that people passing by have something to look at. It mostly just made me sad though. One seal kept swimming in circles around the parimeter of the tank while most of the other seals were occupied with similarly repetitive actions, though less obviously so.

We walked by several restaurants and eventually curled our way through the outskirts of downtown. Again, I absolutely love this city. At least I love the parts that I have seen so far. There has to be some downside to this place, I just havn't found it yet.

Boston: Day 1

I love this city. The second I stepped out of the subway I knew I just went ya, this is cool. There were people walking around... past midnight... not scared out of their minds. As we walked towards North End, where James and Rebecca live we walked through a good part of of down town and North end and everywhere we went there were people walking around, corner shops open selling ice cream, baked goods, and whatever else you would like. More downtown there were tons of bars open that were packed with people all just sitting around and talking. Most of them had tons of seating outside.

The next day we got up and went to a produce market at Haymarket. It was pretty cool, very similar to west side market only not chock full of yuppies. The prices were very good although all the meat places smelled like rotten garbage.

Next we went and had lunch at the Union Oyster House, aparently the oldest restaurant in Boston. The fish sandwich I had was good and definately fresh fish cooked well. I tried some of James' Clam Chowder. It is worlds apart from anything I have had in the Midwest. I didn't order it myself because of many tramatic experiances I had while working at the retirement home cleaning pots in which the clam chowder had sat all day at a steamy 180 F. *shudder* Before I leave though I will get some :-)

Samual Adams Brewery was next. A relatively easy subway ride and we were there (public transportation here is beautiful). The tour itself was pretty blah as they only showed us some example setups and didn't take us into the factory. However, they did give us a free glass before letting us into a room where for basically about 20 minutes they gave us free tasting of 3 different kinds of beer. I drank my first full glass of beer (only 7 oz. but hey... ) and I have no urge to ever do that again. It was better then any beer I have tried so far but still tasted like piss to me (I found out that is the hops at work). I also tried their Octoberfest beer (actually not as offensive because they added sugar but after a full glass of the lauger... oye) and an oatmeal stout (still gives me goose bumps... and not the good kind). Over all though they treated us very well and I would recommend it to anyone who actually likes beer.

On the way back we got of the subway down town and walked back stopping in several shops and this cool grocery store that was in this building built of granite. Come to think of it granite must be cheaper then water here because they use it all over. In the midwest I suppose the equivilent is limestone... but limestone doesn't hold a candle granite. In anycase we got stuff to make home made pizza which is what we ate for dinner.

There is a lesson to be learned here... do not bake home made pizza in a 800 ft^2 efficiency in the middle of a heat wave. Holy crap was it hot after we were done. We went for a walk after dinner (see previous sentance) and got some gelato. I have a feeling this was real gellato as oposed to the stuff we get in Cleveland. The Italian population here is still going strong compared to Little Italy. After stopping by a fountain/pool to cool are feet we closed off the night watching Shawn of the Dead. A very good movie that I highly recommend.

I have decided that Boston keeps the prices of its subway tokens at a $1.25 just so people can practice their Boston accents and say buck and a qwarta. And on the way from the airport the operator had a pretty good accent and said "Last stop, collect your belongings and exit the train." Which was pretty funny. What I love most about the way they talk here though is something like that sounds like "Last stop, get your stuff and get the f@#k off my train."

Note: I am going to try to post pictures within this entry but we will see how that works out. Did I mention how much I freaking love this city?!


Human nature

I started reading Blank Slate by some guy. I have not learned anything new as of yet. It turns out that I have a pretty good understanding of cognitive psycology and physiological psycology :-) What is interesting though is how reluctant I am to openly accept what I think is going to be a central tenet of the book: Some people are born messed up, some are born awesome, but we are all born a certain way; get over it and deal.

I might have mentioned this before but I also recently finished Brave New World also by some guy. In it the government has taken extreme steps to ensure the happyness of it's citizens. Everyone is gestated and born from a test tube (called decanting... awesome) but not everyone is born equal. Whole groups of people are deprived oxygen and fed alcohol throughout thier prenatel existance. As a result they are severly retarded mentally and physically. They form the lowest caste of society fit only to sweep floors and run elevators (this is only possible because the elevator will verbally give instructions to the "operator"). What is so facinating and repugnent is that as children they are played recordings of societal norms while they sleep. For example, "I'm go glad to be an epsilon (the lowest caste). The alphas are so much smarter but they have so much responsability! The betas must work so hard! The gamas... " is played to get them glad they were given this lot in life.

I am often swept up by the ideal of universal love of education, knowledge, and a questioning nature. I often think,"If only somehow we could get the ball rolling, somehow show these people a brief glimps of (my) utopia and break the spell of pop culture..." Ok, so that is somewhat more dramatic then my thoughts but you get the idea. Then the question morphes to how to bring about this change which is much more pleasent to think about then the question of if my ideal is even possible.

What if the vast majority of America will not or can not embrace these ideals? It is interesting that our society is based on the perception of equality. We are proud of the fact that everyone may vote regardless of social or economic position. Even the American dream draws on the possibility that anyone can someday own a house with a two car garage, have 2.5 children, mow a lawn every week, and have a dog to poop on said lawn. Everyone is entitled to an education provided by the state and, along similar lines, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Or not.

I am begining to believe that there are several different americas and I belong to the most oblivious. There is the considerable white anglo-saxon protestant contingency which I grew up with all the way through high school. Along side this are the relatively well off Hippies, my current almamotter if you will. I am sure there are many other groups but I am going to mention one more; the poor. The percentage of people living below the poverty line without health insurance or constant supply of the basic food, shelter, and clothing is staggering and growing.

What about the culture of this group? I wish I had found the series of articles written by Sam Fullword III here in Cleveland on those living in the poorest regions of the city. The excerps that I did manage to read though are worth summerizing. He repettedly states that the poor have a different state of mind. They don't plan for the future. If they get a pay check they immediatly spend it before someone can take that money away from them. I have also heard about how in inner cities there is a deffinate perception of how education is a white man's thing. To strive for American Dream is to turn your back on your culture.

Ever since reading Ishmael I can't help but look at our Culture as some living breathing organizm bent on self perservation. Suddenly it looks like our culture is creating a Brave New World. Nothing so severe as government run baby factories exists but it sure seems as though our culture exists to satiate people at all levels. It is the easiest way to maintain the status quo.

What does this mean then. Well, it means I am currently quite jaded, for one :-). Mainly though it means that perhaps some time must be taken to look for the motivation behind "the way things are now." Maybe, like many physical systems, a certain culture seeks out some sort of least energy configuration. The difficult thing then becomes defining exactly what energy means in a culture. Once this is done, however, a long held dream of mine might be possible: a mathmatical expression for the behavior of society.

The ultimate question though is how do we make the greatest number of people fulfilled/content/happy? Somehow it seems I am drawing closer to the conclusion that, like nature, our culture and society are far to complex to be effectively manipulated by man. Or, at least too complex to be manipulated by the brute force methods I previously championed.


MBTI Personality Types

I first became interested in the MBTI personality types after taking an online quiz from David Kiersey's website in probably 10th grade. I read the description and was floored. How could they know this about me? The first book I ever purchased with my own money was in fact Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey. His specialty is temperament... but don't ask me what the difference is.

After reading the book I don't know how many times and taking the test I agreed that I was indeed an INTJ. To me the whole concept of being able to sort something so amorphous and complex into 16 bins was revolutionary and I tried to get everyone I knew to take the test and talk about the results. Not many people took me up on this at the time and, like most things with me, it fell to the way side. I'd read it again every six months or so, and even bought Gifts Differing by Isabel Briggs Myers. About sophomore year I started noticing that the INFJ personality type fit me better and I feel that I have now grown fully into that type. This is an excellent example of how environment can effect personality and why it is so important to choose your friends wisely :-D Oh how lucky I was in both high school and college.

The point is that I have thought about this for some time and, true to my type, have developed an intuitive understanding of the subject that I am rarely prepared to talk about when the subject comes up. So, here you go:

Origen of Type:
Practice, practice, practice... Every process described here is a neurological function that grows stronger with use and atrophies with neglect. Sure, inborn genetically determined brain structures might make one process easier then another but ultimately it is use it or lose it.

I(N)tuitive Vs. (S)ensing:
If anyone were purely sensing or intuitive they could not function. Our stream of consciousness is a limited resource for which certain processes must fight for "air time". One mode is the experience of our senses and emotions. The other involves, essentially, day dreaming. There is a distinct difference between daydreaming and reminiscing. Remembering something already sensed is reliving a sensory experiance. Daydreaming involves letting the mind run free to experiance whatever it can create. A totally sensing person then would be increadibly boring, essentially a robot with knee-jerk reactions to its enviroment. An intuitive by contest would be a vegitable or would perhaps even appear psycotic as their actions would bear no relationship to the enviroment. A mix then allows for the optimal being, attentive and responsive yet creative and flexable.

Inevitibly people will "error on the side of caution" and rely on the mode which is most comfertable to them. When this preference arrises and for what reasons I don't know. I speculate that this is largely inborn in the structure of the brain. We learned in Physiological Psychology of people who sense can sense color when they see a certain letter. There is a short, or a connection between seperate areas of the brain. These people are disproportionally artests who tend to be disperportionally intuitives. It is thought that similar shorts and connections between various regions of the brain are what have made us the excelent creative problem solvers we are. The degree to which these connections occure could easily be genetic and as a result somewhat set from birth. Of course, the brain is quite plastic and changible but if something is easier you are more likely to do it, strengthening it further in a positive feedback loop. Parents, of course, can wreck havok upon this process :-)

If this process is introverted or extroverted then the focus is on the external or the internal: current sensations vs. memories and a psychotic vs. vegitable persona. Fairly simple. It is of note however that the internal world of ideas and the external world of perception need not opperate in exactly the same manner. I could easily deal with ideas in a very intuitive fashion yet be relatively concrete when dealing with the outside world. Again, it depends upon the comfert level in using each process in each setting.

Thinking vs. Feeling:
The mainstream perception of these processes is my pet-peeve. Thinkers are cold and calculating while Feeling types are walking talking warm fuzzies. The Thinking/Feeling process is called the judging process for a reason, it is what is used to choose amongst a range of possibilities. There are not multiple ways to make a choice. Logic is something learned and thus can not be the basis of a personality. But the degree to which control is maintained over the process is variable. Thinkers require more or less conscience control over the entire process. To accomplish this things must be ordered and organized in such a way as to make this possible. Thus, thinking types will tend to be very ordered with clear and consice reasons for what they do because they have access to that information. Feeling types in contrast will make decisions based on what their gut tells them. Everyone has these gut feelings and for some they are more reliable then others. I am sure everyone has "slept on a decision". In other words they put off making a decision till the next day. Quite often they will wake up and even if the decision isn't clear their gut tells them that one way might be better then another. I can't think of a physiological reason for this but being able to use it effectively is deffinately due to practice.

Why the names Feeling and Thinking? Well, emotions and the queues that indicate them are beastly complex. Maintaing concious control over a decision in such areas is nearly impossible. Hence the tendency for thinking types to be difficient in dealing with areas of the heart. Feeling types however are more willing to give such decisions over to the subconscience which is likely less restrained by the linear requirements of consciences and can act in parallel. Ask a feeling type why they choose something though and they are likely to shrug and say gut feeling because they don't know why they choose it. They have no access to the decision making process and its steps. Also, note how each description parallels the stereotypes for each of the sexes which could be the cause or result of over 60% of Feeling types being female.

The main point is a Feeling type may not necessarily be a people person, it is just easier for them so they are more inclined to do it.

How is this process introverted or extroverted? It is alot tougher to say. The internal world is the one in which actual decisions are made while the external world tends to be full of decisions on how to react to stimuli. These are two, relatively seperate things and both do not have to be the same. Like the perceptive processes (N vs. S) making decisions and interacting are different skill sets that can be practiced independently.

My conclusion:
Most personality type tests are bunk. Since they test based on things such as, "Do you deal better with people or equations?" they miss the fundementals of each process and thus miss lable a great many people. Intuition and Sensing are also often miss labled expecually in a college enviroment. There you are taught, whether you like it or not, to be a good problem solver. So if a test asks such things as if you are comfertable and able with problems you are more likely then not to be judged Intuitive in college even if you are not. As a result of this I have very little faith in any personality test I have come across. I can typically find at least one letter which is incorrectly labled with every person I meet.

Additionally it is often assumed that given the four letters an entier hierachy of processes can be constructed. Lets assume that my dominant process (the one I enjoy using the most... remember the limited time nature of conscienceness) is introverted intuition. If this is the case then my 4th most prefered process must be externalized sensing. In all honesty I can find no rational reason for this. Using Ockham's Razor these postulates must be thrown out as they are unneccessary and complicate the picture. A usefull analogy can be drawn to engineering... In many cases to make a usefull model things are neglected if small enough. If there are 8 process (N S T F and each can be introverted and extroverted) and one is dominant you would expect it to take up at least half, and probably much more, of the conscience stream. The second most used process very likely the complement of the primary so if one's prefered process is Intuition then a judging process such as Thinking or Feeling is needed to accomplish anything. These two processes are likely to take up the majority of the time of the conscienceness so who cares about everything else. This is why people can theorize to their hearts content and no one can tell if they are right or wrong.

I think I am going to try to make a quiz based on congitive processes that perhaps is more accurate then other thing out there. Like any good scientific theory this can't just explain it has to predict so a useful project would be to develop type descriptions. We will see...