I haven't had a whole lot to say lately because most of what's been going through my head looks something like:

Ah, yes, academia. Waking the brain after several years of... I won't say "rest" because that's not really true... several years of... let's say a comfortable routine... has not been all that easy in certain areas. Some of the "areas" to which I'm referring include math.

Now, don't get me wrong, I was pretty good at math in high school, and college too for that matter. In eighth grade I was even in "MathCounts," one of those geeky competitions for kids who can't think of a good enough excuse to convince their parents that they shouldn't have to participate. But we all know what happens to the brain as it falls into a routine. Atrophy. When I graduated from college, taking a derivative was like breathing. Now I have to stuggle just to remember the order of operations. (Remember that from seventh grade? Exponents first, division and multiplication second, addition and subtraction third... oh, boy.) And it's only been four years. If ya don't use it, you lose it, I suppose.

It seems that no matter where I am in life, I always seem to want to put myself in a situation where I'm not comfortable anymore. And we ask ourselves: "Why?"

Just sittin' here thinking about things, taking notes, thinking about things, and decided that I should make a brief (however incomplete) list of films that have had a pronounced affect on me. These films somehow transcend simply being works of art, and truly speak to the soul. If you have not had the opportunity to see all of these films at some point within the past several years, your life may be somewhat lacking. Expose yourself to these works and realize that there still may be magic left in the world.

Princess Mononoke
This film speaks to many issues about how we inhabit the Earth, and humans' relationship to nature. It's quite moving, and more mature than many films I've seen.

Brazil defies description. To say it's a moral tale of one man's revolt against bureaucracy tells only part of the story. It must be seen to be believed.

Run Lola Run
Ultimately about fate, this film seems rather simple in premise, on the surface. But looking deeper reveals complexity. Kind of like classical music. Although this film is nothing like classical music...

The City of Lost Children
Magical, beautiful, simple and complex all at once. Is it better than Delicatessen? Hard to say. But the film will leave you speechless.

A bit of support for yesterday's theory about college students, from the barista at Stella's. I said, "Hey, man, why don't any of the students at Cornell talk to each other? I'm from Cleveland and we talk to each other there."

(I said this after riding the bus to campus- it was so full and people were jammed in and uncomfortable, but they were all afraid to talk to each other and ask each other to move, so everyone just stayed jammed and uncomfortable. Refusal to communicate prevented the people at the front of the bus from learning that there was space at the back of the bus. "Hey, tell them there's space back here!" I said. No response.)

So the barista looked at me, at first a little confused, and then said, "Yeah, you know, I guess it's just that everyone is caught up in their own little world. They only talk to people they already know."

So I suppose that if someone on the bus fell to the floor and started having convulsions, people would just sit/stand there, quietly staring out the window, thinking about Statistics class or the party the night before. Mmm-hmm.

The story so far (a small slice of it, at least)... So I was an undergraduate student, studying architecture at Kent State University from 1991 to 1996. (Yes, five years... ahem. It was a five year program, okay?) And then I graduated, and then I began working as an architect in Cleveland. This lasted about three-and-a-half years. Now I'm a graduate student at Cornell University, studying real estate. Alright. That's the story for today, and here's what I have observed. On large university campuses, undergraduate students don't seem to have the powers of observation and social interaction. At least not outside their circles of friends. I don't know if it's a protection mechanism built-in to freshmen or what, but these kids are so self-contained, so self-centered. If you pass one on the street and say, "hi," they'll look up at you, astonished, and sheepishly reply, "uuh... hi?"

It's really a bit sad.