Nov 30, 2010

brb dying

So basically, the universe is out to get me. And I'm quite sure of this. Allow me to explain.

So first of all, I've been coughing for weeks. In fact, I started coughing right around when I started visiting colleges, which is absolutely excellent in and of itself, especially during interviews. It really shows personality. Admissions officers particularly enjoy it when either you spend several seconds coughing because you can't quiiiiiite get that mucus out of your throat, or when you have trouble speaking at the beginning of your answer to every question. You look really confident and outgoing. It's just the best. Word to the wise.

My coughing has gotten even more vigorous in the last week, which is pretty obnoxious basically all the time. I have been told by both men and women alike that it is disgusting. I'm sorry. Since it's my fault, I'll try to fix it. I didn't mean to inconvenience anyone. But anyway. It's especially obnoxious because apparently, in the last two days, I have been coughing so frequently and so vigorously that as a result of my lurching forward and apparently slightly contorting myself, I managed to throw out my back. That's right. I threw out my back by coughing too hard.

I noticed a slight backache last night, and decided that it hurt enough that my best course of action was just to go to bed, and in the morning it should be better.
When I woke up this morning my back was in even more pain than it had been when I went to sleep. Whenever I slightly turned my back, random muscles - there seemed to be no rhyme nor reason as to which ones - would start to ache terribly.

On top of that, I could feel that I was losing my voice. I was starting to sense a bit of that the night before, but now it was pretty bad. There was nothing to warrant taking a sick day, though, so I muscled through (get it because my muscles were inconveniencing me anyway) and carried on with my day as best as I could.

Perhaps the worst part was that this morning on my way to physics, I GOT THE GODDAMN HICCUPS. And that's not it. I GOT THE GODDAMN HICCUPS DURING A GODDAMN COUGH ATTACK. Have you ever had the hiccups while doubled over (with a pained back, I remind you) in a coughing fit while walking? It sucks.

[There is currently a half-finished picture of me keeling over in the middle of the hallway saved on my computer. Someday it will be here instead of this placeholder.]

So now I'm also losing my voice quite terribly. I tried singing a bit, and that didn't work at all. And I have one more college visit on Friday. That means I have to save my voice so that I don't walk in completely mute. That means I have to go on vocal rest. Minimal talking if any at all. And I'm the worst person in the world for that to happen to, considering that I am constantly talking and that a fair amount of the time I prefer to yell. So wish me luck; I'll try to keep you posted on how it goes. Hint: probably pretty poorly.

Nov 25, 2010

Classical Music And Me, Part II - now with video!

So, I recently posted about how I don't listen to classical music like a normal person. (If you missed that one, it's over here.) Shortly after posting, I received the following comment:
"Dear Greg,
Why didn't you include a video? I don't want to read about you saying baddaddadd."
I received a similar complaint in real life this week, saying that one's imagination can only go so far. The answer was obvious: I needed a recording of myself jamming out.

There were a few qualifications to my video: it had to be relatively candid, for one. [BREAK - to be explained below] So I decided that I needed to have a recording of my listening to music while doing something else. The logical decision was to type up this very blog post during the recording process. This was actually extra-helpful, as it gives you a real impression of how little work I can do while listening - I type at 100WPM and don't really need to think too much in order to make this post, since I already know what to say, so I should be able to more than finish this entire post in the seven minutes that my selected song would take. Well, I wrote [BREAK] above where the song finished. That should give you a pretty good impression of how vastly inefficient I become.

So without further ado, I present to you my video. The piece is the overture to Giuseppe Verdi's La Forza Del Destino, which I played last year and have faithfully listened to since. I should reiterate two things: one, that I don't pretend to believe that I have a good voice (although in all fairness I wasn't thinking about my pitch), and two, that this is actually candid. Nothing in this video was done for the sake of making it funny or interesting to watch. This is just what I do.

Also you're definitely not obligated to watch the whole thing.

Chicks dig musicians, right?

Nov 16, 2010

Utility Pockets

So today I had a calc test. The lights in the room were broken. Rather, the lights in the entire building were broken, and the room happened to be in the aforementioned building. There are backup lights in each room, so it wasn't pitch black or anything, but it was considerably dimmer than we were accustomed to. It was like the just-a-little-darker-than-the-ideal-time-of-dusk-but-really-only-a-hair-darker kind of dim. So in the portion of the class leading up to the test, we were getting by just fine; but once the test began, there were a few complaints about the darkness.

Now, before going on, I should mention that I wear a jacket on roughly 95% of days. Even when it's not particularly cold, I find it useful to wear a jacket. (Summer is the exception.) The reason for this is that I need to store things, and I need to be able to access them. The answer? Pockets.

My favorite jacket is a blue one with two pockets in the regular pocket spot just above the hip, with sort of "secret pockets" on the inside. There's also a fifth pocket up on my left ribcage. It's a little like this:

I've been known to store things in my pockets. Like a lot of things. Like a LOT of things. Currently, among my goodies are my clip-on sunglasses, four Post-Its from a charity walk, three wooden pencils, one fountain pen, two Bic pens, one Pilot G2 07 pen, two mechanical pencils, one Zebra retractable pen, a headlamp, a bag of Cheerios, and a pair of 3D glasses from Megamind (excellent movie, by the way). And that's far less than I normally have, by the way. (The pen count is abnormally high and the random-sillies is abnormally low; I've been known to carry things like staples, empty plastic bags, the New Testament (I'm Jewish), various Gameboys, and more.) For this reason, I refer to these pockets as my Utility Pockets.

So back to calculus. The test began, and people began complaining about the darkness. I reached into my Utility Pockets, produced from nowhere the aforementioned headlamp, and put it on my head.
A dramatization.
I had the headlamp in my pocket from a camping trip I went on a month and a half ago - I never got around to taking it out. Better still is the fact that I wasn't even the only one to perform this feat - a friend of mine in fact pulled a headlamp out from his own backpack from a camping trip that he had been on not too long ago.

So basically, manliest calc test ever. nbd

Nov 9, 2010

Classical Music And Me

So I don't like listening to any of that punk metal whatever silliness that's loud and obnoxious and makes me sad. I much prefer classical music. I primarily enjoy music that I've played in the local youth orchestra, because I know it better; my favorites include the overture to La Forza del Destino, the overture to L'Italiana in Algeri, Mozart's Jupiter Symphony K551, and the finale of Beethoven's 5th symphony (NOT the first movement that you probably know).

Being a cellist, I of course sing along to the cello part. (For the high parts, I either take it down an octave or two, or destroy my voice and hope not to upset my family too heavily.) However, being a man, I also percuss. I've become something of an expert of finding interesting ways to find different noises when I need to express variety. I'll often drum with two fingers per hand on the table, occasionally using one hand to hit the keyboard, my lap, a book, a DVD, the mousepad, or whatever else I have at my disposal to get the desired sound. I will also often snap in an isolated rest at the end of a passage to call attention to the silence. (Paradoxical, perhaps, but it's not like I'm trying to impress anyone.)

As for syllables, I usually go "badada bum bum bum badada bum" etc.; these noises are the easiest, I find to pull out quickly. For slower passages, I like to use a "yadada" to express a crescendo at the beginning of a nice note. Perhaps most importantly, I find that quick runs are most efficiently done through "dadliddliddliddle"s.

And the kicker is that this is not simply a vocal and manual exercise. This is a fully body workout. I fistpump wildly for most accented notes. And not some sissy-ass fistpumping. Imagine throwing a baseball, but with a closed first, and your arm crosses over in a roughly circular path to your chest, and in a really triumphant manner. That's what I do. For repeated accents, I will either only bring my fist halfway down so that I can repeat, or use both hands and lurch forward in my chair as I go so that it's sort of like beating up someone a foot in front of me. Similarly, for great releases of tension, I will shove both fists behind me at a 135-degree angle (3pi/4rad, anyone?) and shove my chest forward, in sort of a triumphant-warrior-emerging-from-the-fray style.

So as you can imagine, I tend to emerge from this panting a little, because it is actually more physically taxing than you would think. (I can't recommend enough to any aspiring classical-pumpers (a term coined in the last several seconds); in particular, the ending is excellent.) This also makes everything take FOREVER, because I spend the majority of my time either thrashing about, drumming on things, or singing rather than thinking about what I'm typing. I spent a VERY long time on this article not because it was particularly difficult to write about, but because I listened to a whopping three pieces over the course of this writing (and not three short ones, mind you). I suppose that's the price you pay for quality music.

Nov 7, 2010

How To Have A Thanksgiving Dinner, by Greg Edelston, Age 7

So recently, my mom discovered what I believe to be a homework assignment from when I was in second grade, at age seven. I can only assume that the assignment was "Describe how to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Provide an accompanying picture." My handwriting is almost the same as it is today, and there are only two spelling errors. I was also apparently the most hilarious seven-year-old in the word, with a full understanding of comedic theory. So here's what I wrote:

Greg Edelston, 11/21/00

  1. Get you'r [sic] gun.
  2. Fill it up.
  3. Go outside.
  4. Find a turkey.
  5. Get a good distance from it.
  6. Shoot.
  7. Shoot until you kill the turkey.
  8. Bring the turkey home.
  9. Give it a feather-cut. [I assume that I was referring to a turkey's equivalent of a haircut, but I'm not 100% sure.]
  10. Put it in the oven.
  11. Set the timer for 20 min.
  12. After 20 minutes, take it out.
  13. Set the table fancily.
  14. Get chairs.
  15. Let the turkey cool off.
  16. Invite people to dinner.
  17. Wait.
  18. Notice that the turkey is cold.
  19. Heat it up.
  20. Listen to the doorbell ring.
  21. Let you'r [sic] visitors in.
  22. Get the turkey.
  23. Eat the turkey.
  24. Enjoy!
  25. Save the leftovers.
  26. Throw it away after a week.
The following picture is stapled to the front:

I yearn for the days when I was this funny.

Nov 6, 2010

The Hierarchy of Condiments

Today, I was at an event at which hamburgers were served. I, in fact, was the one who made the hamburgers. The side-dishes weren't too numerous, but were enough: Doritos, potato salad, ketchup, and onions. I and my adviser decided that of the ten burgers, eight should be made with cheese cooked onto them and two without. A friend of mine wound up taking one of the two bare burgers. He didn't take any Doritos or potato salad. He put ketchup on his burger. That was totally normal. But then, he put onions on his burger.

His cheeseless burger.

Bun, burger, ketchup, onion, bun.


That's right. You're undoubtedly baffled reading this; just imagine how I felt watching this with my own two eyes. Onions but no cheese? Just go and take some sauerkraut but skip the mustard, why don'tcha?

I don't even know what I'm looking at.
I raised my objection thusly: "Uh, excuse me, but did you just put onion on your burger without any cheese?"


"Doesn't that strike you as a little odd?"


"You don't see any problem with going out of order?"

"I don't think there's any sort of 'condiment order.'"


It thus occurred to me that this condiment order isn't the sort of thing that most people generally think about, nor even one that I had ever consciously thought of. But there just seems to be a general etiquette that goes with condiments, an unspoken code. There are certain condiments that are a little more "exotic" than others, and thus are more likely to be objectionable; and unless you have a specific reason to avoid one condiment (e.g., lactose intolerance), and provided all relevant condiments' availability, it would be a breach of etiquette to take a condiment farther down the chain than one higher up.

For fear that I will have excluded too many condiments, I'm afraid I can't offer a functional actual chain of command; however, I can give you a rough idea:

  1. Burger.
  2. Bun.
  3. Ketchup.
  4. Cheese.
  5. Pickles/relish.
  6. Mayonnaise.
  7. Mustard.
  8. Tomatoes.
  9. Lettuce.
  10. Onion.
  11. Bacon.
And that, my friends, is why you never put onions with no cheese.

Nov 1, 2010

A Magic Portal in the Bathroom!

Okay. I really don't think anyone gets more excitement out of going to the bathroom than I do; but when I used the bathroom this afternoon, instead of excitement, all I felt was disappointment. Let me explain.

Okay, so. I stayed after school today. I used the bathroom. When I walked in, I at first thought that the janitors were in there or something, because the lighting was dim and I could hear someone inside; however, it turned out to just have the lights off and someone else was on his way out. No big deal. HOWEVER! All of the stalls were pretty far shut except the farthest one, which was turned roughly 30-45 degrees open. And there was this beautiful yellow light pouring out of it.

Literally, no other lights were on in the entire bathroom. There was just the light coming out of the far stall, inviting me forward. And it was only out the door, not the top. It was magical. It was clearly a portal to an alternate dimension.

I put my priorities straight and peed in a urinal first. I wouldn't want to pee in the magic portal. Over the course of my peeing, I thought: what if it really is a portal? Do they hide portals in toilets? Yeah, I saw this anime once where they did that. Oh, but I have a friend waiting for me to come back and play chess with him in the other room. Wouldn't it be rude to leave him hanging? Oh, but maybe time passes slower in this world than in the real world, like in Inception or The Phantom Tollbooth. Oh, but what if it works the other way around, like in the Lotus Casino from Percy Jackson? Or what if it's like in ChalkZone and I can't even get out unless I complete some requisite?

I jest not. All this passed through my head over the course of my urination.

Upon a good flushing, I made a beeline for the magic stall. I opened the door excitedly, only to find a regular handicapped toilet. (Handicapped meaning the one with the bar so that impaired folk can stand up or something.) I reached my hand down to flush, but stopped myself. And it's a good thing I did - I might have missed a very important step! I cleverly grabbed onto the handicap bar and pulled it down. Clearly, it was a secret switch, and the portal wouldn't work unless the lever was down. I gripped firmly onto the now-horizontal bar and flushed.


Needless to say, I was wrought with disappointment. I put up the secret switch/handicap bar, left the stall, and departed from the bathroom, fully dejected. My hopes of being teleported to a magical toilet world were dashed.