Thursday, December 30, 2010

Total Limbo

I'm waiting for my financial aid refund to come through.

All of my nervous energy, all of my insomnia, all of my obsessive internet crawling can be blamed on this one simple fact. At the beginning of the month, it was easy to accept brokeatude because the day when I would no longer be broke was so far away. It was past Christmas and past the new year so I put it in the back of my brain and tired to make a few extra beans here and there. I did get a day of work and mom and dad did generously give this Christmas, which is probably what saved me from total insanity.

I want to do better this term in school. Having to drop a class really irritated me, especially since I know I could have made up the work I missed. New term, new opportunity though.

Another thing I want to get going is my mixing. I may not go far or be super famous at it or anything but the sheer fact that I can do it is therapeutic. I would love to play to a crowd, and I get the feeling that I'll get the chance to if I apply myself. I think though that I'll start feeling better as soon as I start messing with a set of decks. Through everything, spinning tracks has always made me really happy.

But I have to wait for money. Which is fine really but at the same time incredibly frustrating. This whole month has been a lesson in patience and trusting the ebb and flow of the universe. I'm starting to get it but I'm still kept up at night.

I'll get through, I always do somehow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Get Out of My House

Another class essay, this one is about college room lotteries. Enjoy!

At some point in time, I think almost everyone has lived with a roommate. I'm not talking about living with parents or even a relative. I speak to those who have been tossed into a living situation where they must co-exist with a total stranger. This situation is encountered mostly by college students who, because of lack of funding and high enrollment rates, often have to live with someone else to survive. Most students have little to no say as to who they end up living with. If they are lucky, the decision is made based on compatibility surveys or personal choice. However, students are often placed together based on an arbitrary room lottery system. This kind of arrangement can throw two people together who might not even be compatible as friends, much less as roommates. Room lotteries take two or more random people and force them to share a living space for at least one term (or semester) if not the entire year. Room lotteries do not take personality, living habits or cultural background into consideration. With a room lottery, it is always possible for two people with incompatible personalities to be matched together. People generally try to avoid others with whom they share no common ground. A room lottery will match these people together and then expect them to live together without difficulty. If students were allowed to participate more in the process of selecting a roommate, they could focus more mental energy on doing well in school.
Not everyone has a bad experience with a roommate assigned to them at random. Sometimes, students are assigned someone that they end up being compatible with. The roommates become friends and sometimes they remain living together for the entirety of their college career. Even if the roommates don't end up being bosom buddies, this type of living situation can help students develop tolerance for those that have differing opinions. It also can teach students how to appropriately deal with conflict and respond to stressful situations.
Room lotteries are a quick way to assign housing to a large number of students at once. They also eliminate the possibility of people choosing not to live with anyone but themselves. With student housing being at a premium, there often isn't enough room to accommodate people who wish to live alone. Group situations are also cheaper. With the costs being divided between multiple students per living space, even colleges that take care of housing as part of tuition can cut costs by filling dorm rooms with as many students as possible.
Everyone has their own personal habits, personality quirks, and tastes based on cultural background and the environment in which they were raised. The whole process of college is stressful, especially to students who are leaving home for the first time. Many of these students have not had the opportunity to live in an environment where they are free from parental influence. They are not used to having to motivate themselves to pick up dirty socks or kill the mold monster in the sink. On top of this, students are expected to make progress on an academic level. The whole idea of being self sufficient and self motivating is difficult when one has total control of their environment. More problems occur when there is another person, or several persons, are added to the situation. Each member of the arrangement desires some measure of control and disagreements are bound to happen, even in ideal conditions. Too often, roommates in a dorm situation are in disagreement before they meet each other. They may not share the same beliefs, or have beliefs that are in direct conflict. An extreme example would be a Christian being paired with a Satanist. When people disagree on a sensitive topic, it affects every interaction they have with each other. The disagreement will also be tenser because everyone has to remain in close proximity. A simple complaint about someone forgetting to vacuum can turn into a catastrophic argument that ends badly. The recent trial of Amanda Knox shows what can happen if roommate rage is allowed to fester for too long. In the trial, evidence was presented to suggest that Knox was angry with her roommate and that because of this anger she stabbed her roommate several times. Most roommate disagreements do not reach this level of violence. There are several college students, however, that have been through at least one situation where they feared someone would get violent if things didn't improve. Many students are hesitant to bring up these issues to Residence Assistants or other people in authority for a variety of reasons and so they deal with the situation by avoiding it. They find themselves staying with friends or in extreme cases, sleeping on a park bench.
Fundamental disagreements can also breed an environment full of mistrust. Safety concerns for college students are numerous. New students are cautioned heavily on making sure they lock their doors and that they don't walk around alone at night. They must constantly be aware of threats found in the world outside their dorm room. On top of all of these concerns, many students find themselves in a situation where they don't trust the person or persons they are living with. This mistrust can arise from people simply having a difference of opinion. Not trusting the person one lives with is extremely stressful. It also can lead to poor choices in reacting to situations as they arise. For example, student A has a difference of religious opinion with student B. Student A is convinced that student B is a heathen, based on their first meeting, which involved both students simply unpacking. Student A noticed that student B had a piece of literature that went against his beliefs. Later in the term, student A ends up missing some property. Even if there is a possibility that student A simply misplaced his property, his first reaction is to accuse student B. On the other hand, some people will exhibit poor judgment and steal from their housemate. There is no typical reason why someone chooses to steal another person’s property. It could be vengeance for real or imagined slights, jealousy, or even because the person just has a compulsion to steal. Whatever the reason, the possibility of losing things makes it difficult to focus on getting an education.
When I lived in a dormitory situation, I found it very difficult leaving valuable personal property alone with my roommate. The roommate did not initially do anything to betray my trust, but because I was dealing with an unknown entity, whose beliefs differed greatly from mine, I found it impossible to let my guard down. At the same time, my own issues and hang ups prevented me from discussing the issues I had with her. As a result, the conflict between us escalated to the point where there were threats of violence. Complaints to the Residence Assistant fell on deaf ears and the school did not offer any other sources of mediation. At the time, I was not familiar with how to deal with the situation at all. I am sure I am not the first and only college student who has problems dealing with conflict. I can say with certainly that I would have benefited with more information on how to deal with conflict. If the school insisted upon matching people up randomly, some instruction, even if it was through print or sent electronically, could help students better prepare for conflict. More and more, colleges are instituting programs and classes that deal with conflicts between roommates. College is a time of transition and suddenly having to live with someone else adds even more stress. I believe that students would benefit from more resources on campuses for mediating conflicts. With mediation, students also would learn how to deal with conflict in an appropriate way and hopefully feel that they could do something before the disagreement got out of control.
Dealing with drama involving roommates is often cited as a reason for poor academic performance. Unfortunately, most schools don't accept this as an excuse even though conflict is created through room lotteries that are often mandatory for students wishing to live on campus. If colleges do not want to eliminate the room lottery system, they must acknowledge and give allowances for the problems that room lotteries potentially cause. Even though more proactive steps are being taken to deal with conflict between roommates on college campuses, something has to be done about the way students are placed with each other. Living with another person is a large commitment that shouldn't be taken lightly. Dating couples who are contemplating marriage prepare for the commitment of living together by often seeing counselors or seeking religious counsel. It is a little bit different with college students because the living situation is expected to be temporary. A married couple is presumably staying together for the rest of their lives. They combine their possessions and resources in anticipation for a permanent arrangement. College students are not expected to combine bank accounts or buy property together. College students are also not expected to spend a great deal of time with their roommates, certainly not the kind of time people typically spend with a romantic partner. Still, care should be taken when placing students together because they do have to live with each other. It is impossible to completely avoid someone sharing a common living space. Filling out compatibility surveys is a good start but I think students should at least have the opportunity to meet with each other in person, if possible, before they are expected to live in the same space. If meeting in person isn't possible due to distance or time constraints, the people involved should meet via telephone or through an internet conference. Having a roommate isn't an easy thing to deal with in even the best of circumstances. Colleges should be mindful of the diversity of students and try to match people based on similar interests and beliefs so that students can focus more on getting an education and less on being angry at or fearful of the person they live with.

An Essay about Depression.

This is an essay on depression I wrote for a class. I got a fairly good grade on it. Works Cited are at the bottom of the page. I hope someone benefits from this. :)

Depression is a disease that affects thousands of people in all walks of life and in all cultures. It is even considered a leading cause of medical harm in developing countries. Despite its prevalence, depression is a disease that many people misunderstand. As a sufferer of depression, I hear a lot of people tell me that it is “all in my head” or that I should “just get over it.” Another misconception of depression is that it will simply go away once someone has been prescribed medication. Depression is a topic that many people do not wish to talk about. It is easy to understand why people who do not live with depression choose to avoid it as a topic of conversation. In general, when people hear that a friend has depression, they avoid that friend. It could be because they feel that their depressed friend will make them depressed or that they don’t know what to say to help. Many times, the avoidance response isn’t even a conscious decision. Because of the social pressure to not burden friends and family with negativity, many sufferers of depression do not wish to learn anything about their illness. Even though the disease may negatively impact their lives, they are hesitant to find out more information because they feel that learning about the disease acknowledges the fact that they are indeed ill. Doctors depend on input from patients in order to recommend treatments and evaluate the progress of treatments already in place. If a patient isn’t honest with the doctor, the doctor can only make guesses as to how to treat their patient. On top of this, doctors are pressured by pharmaceutical companies to sell “quick fixes” to as many patients as possible. This pressure tends to create a less than desirable relationship between doctors and patients, making patients even more hesitant to speak up.
A large majority of people believe that there are no physical symptoms associated with depression. Even people who have been diagnosed with depression do not believe that there are physical symptoms. A survey in Atlanta concluded that “72% of people with major depression did not believe, prior to their diagnosis, that painful physical symptoms such as unexplained headache, backache, gastrointestinal disturbance and vague aches and pains, were common symptoms of depression.” (World) yet over 75% of the respondents to the same survey reported that they were bothered enough by these symptoms to go see a doctor. Patients have a tendency to not go to a doctor unless something causes a significant disruption to their daily life. When a physical symptom comes up, especially one that is debilitating enough to affect performance at work or in school, many people wish for the condition to simply go away. They treat the problem as a disease in and of itself, rather than figuring out if it is a symptom of a more complicated illness. They go to the doctor with their physical complaints, and too often, depression isn’t even discussed. Doctors, when presented with unexplained physical symptoms rarely think of depression. As a result, a patient may be subject to a wide variety of tests that yield no useful results. Patients could avoid tensions with their doctor and doctors could save patients the aggravation of fumbling around for an answer if depression were discussed as a possible diagnosis.
When people do see a doctor for depression, they are often prescribed medication. Psychiatric medication has increased in popularity significantly in recent years. With the introduction of drugs such as Prozac, more and more people have been turning to psychiatric medications in order to cope with depression. In 2002 it was estimated “that around 46 million prescriptions were written for psychiatric medications” (Davis-Berman and Pestello) even though the documented side effects of these medications are quite unpleasant. Side effects can be uncomfortable and even life threatening, and yet people are hesitant to ask their doctors about them. Many sufferers of depression think that once they are on medication, the process of treating the disease is over. Advertisements for anti-depressant medication tend to mislead consumers into thinking that taking one pill will cure them. Advertisements also have a tendency to gloss over the potential side effects of the medications they are trying to sell. Even though some depression sufferers do see immediate improvement with the first medication they try while suffering no side effects, this is the exception rather than the rule. There is no magic pill that works for everyone. Each medication has different effects on the brain and no two brains are exactly alike. Unfortunately, the hesitation by patients to discuss the side effects of the medications they are prescribed often lead to a worsening of depression symptoms. The mental and physical side effects of medications, especially those that involve sexual function, often make the patient suffer symptoms of depression that are worse than the original complaint.
Patients are also hesitant to speak with their doctors after a diagnosis because they feel that their doctor will not take their complaints seriously. Many patients feel that they are rushed through the diagnosis and feel that they are pushed into taking medication. Some doctors prescribe several medications at once; sometimes it seems with complete disregard as to how the medications will react with each other. Several patients with depression report having bad experiences with doctors. Patients who are dissatisfied with doctors soon seek out the advice of others, often through internet chat forums. In a study of postings found in chat forums designed for depression sufferers it was found that, “Posters sometimes challenged diagnoses and treatments that they or others had been given by their physicians. In this situation, they sometimes suggested alternative diagnoses and medications. Posters who had been ‘‘involved’’ in the mental health field for an extended period of time seemed to see themselves as ‘‘quasi-experts’’. They seemed to feel that in some ways their experiences made them more knowledgeable than doctors.” (Davis-Berman and Pestello). These same posters also felt that they were qualified to give advice about the type of medication taken and the correct dosage. If doctors are unsure about the effects of anti-depressant medication, it seems unlikely that the average person has enough knowledge of the subject to be qualified to give out medical advice. Most doctors agree that psychiatric medications can be dangerous if taken improperly or stopped suddenly. Doctors often caution patients against diagnosing each other because when it comes to medication, no two people are identical. What works for one patient has the potential to kill someone else.
Generally, when someone seeks the advice of a physician, they want to have their health concerns taken seriously. There is a prevailing attitude amongst sufferers of depression that doctors do not take what patients say to heart. Sometimes, sufferers of depression feel that doctors believe that they are “crazy” and will do anything to get the patient out of their office. This encourages people to adjust their medications themselves or quit them entirely. When symptoms get worse, the patient is hesitant to return to the doctor because of previous negative experiences.
Even though there are millions of people under some sort of treatment for depression, there are countless others who are suffering in silence. In 2005 the World Health Organization reported that three-hundred-forty million people worldwide suffer from depression, yet it is estimated that three-quarters of people with a depressive disorder never receive any treatment. This is partially because of the belief that depression is something that only affects the mind. Surveys of physicians and psychiatrists in several countries suggest that there are many doctors that do not believe some unexplained physical symptoms can be a sign of depression. Employers do not believe depression is a legitimate reason for poor job performance. Several people with depression, including myself, have reported negative actions taken against them after they inform their employer that they may be suffering from depression. Because it is difficult to prove the existence of depression in a tangible way, there are people who use the label of depression as an excuse for poor job performance and attendance. The prevailing attitude then becomes that anyone who complains of depression must be faking it. People who genuinely would be diagnosed with depression become concerned with the stigma associated with the label and try to tough things out on their own. Also, most health plans offered by employers do not cover diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems, even though there are some physical issues associated with the disease. Many anti-depressant medications are expensive and often, to find a treatment that works, it takes months of experimentation with quite a few different drugs. Toughing it out seems like a better option, especially since there is no way to guarantee that treatment will be effective. Toughing it out also keeps the disease a secret from co-workers or supervisors.
In order to combat depression worldwide, I believe several things need to be taken into consideration. First, the public in general needs to be educated about depression. It seems that the only things people know about depression is what they see on ads paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. It needs to be understood that depression is a legitimate illness both by doctors and the public so that people will be more willing to seek treatment. More and more doctors are admitting that the current methods of treating depression are not effective and that more patients would be willing to accept treatments if they worked better. Doctors are also starting to discuss new treatments and the need for further education about depression. These are positive steps in the fight against depression but there is more to be done. Employers need to become more aware of depression and its symptoms and offer a way for people to get treatment if they need it. People who have depression need to be more up front with their doctors so that they can have the best treatment possible. Depression sufferers also need to be honest with themselves as to what treatments are working and what treatments are not.
Depression can be a debilitating illness and the stigma of diagnosis can make the problem even worse. Rather than relying on information based on misconceptions of the disease, doctors, employers and patients need to work together and educate each other. Through effort, mutual understanding, and honesty about symptoms and side effects, depression is a disease that can be beaten.
Works Cited

Davis-Berman, Jenifer, and Frances G. Pestello. "Taking Anti-depressant Medication: A Qualitative Examination of Internet Postings." Journal of Mental Health 17.4 (2008): 349-60. Web. 26 Nov. 2010.

"People with Depression Unaware of Painful Physical Symptoms of Depression." World Disease Weekly (2005): 1112. 28 June 2005. Web. 26 Nov. 2010.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fyrewolf Gets a Gig

A video I made...might turn into a regular series.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rest in Peace Ryan "DJ Ribble" Beaton

A fellow DJ and a pillar to the EDM community died yesterday due to cancer. He had a rare cancer, usually only found in children, in his jawbone. The tumor broke his jaw and he went through massive re-constructive surgery. At first the doctors thought they had gotten out all of it and any residual that might be left would be killed by chemo therapy and radiation. The cancer came back and attacked the new tissue in his face. Within a couple of months it spread through his entire body and he just couldn't fight it anymore. He wasn't much older than I am and leaves behind a wife and a whole lot of electronic music heads who loved him for his positive attitude and his willingness to help up and coming local DJs through his online radio program.

Through the whole ordeal, surgeries, a huge tumor on his face, setback after setback...he was positive. He had the words "I'm Alive!" under his picture in the forums. He freely posted pictures of himself on facebook and in the forums with the tumor and after his surgeries. In every one of those pictures, he had a smile on his face. The man was a testament of how someone could be positive through a time of overwhelming adversity.

I tried to post yesterday but couldn't. Thinking about it now still makes me cry. Ryan, I wasn't a close friend but through your music and positive energy, I got to know you. I am glad you are free of pain, and at peace again. Even though you are gone from this life, your energy and music will live on in the hearts and minds of many.

Rock on at the Bridge, friend.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keep Her Around!

I sent this to the Editor of the Eugene Weekly (a local news publication). I don't know if they will publish it or not but it gave me an opportunity to rant:
A friend mentioned to me that they saw a letter in the Eugene Weekly about my car being an eyesore. I haven't been able to find the letter, and I'll admit that there is a large possibility that the letter doesn't exist and that my friend was slyly dissing my car. However, the discussion has prompted me to write a letter to you about said vehicle. I call her the little blue pill. She is a 1993 Ford Festiva. There are several Festivas in Eugene but mine is probably the most noticeable. She is blue, with a grey fender on the passenger side and there is no drivers side fender. You can hear her coming from a few blocks away and she doesn't sound like a $h!tty four banger. A lot of people in Eugene like to stare at the pill disapprovingly, especially downtown. I think if people knew why I kept her around, maybe they wouldn't be so upset that I drive "a loud eyesore". First of all, she gets 45 miles per gallon of gas in town and around 48 on the highway. After a tune up and an oil change she will likely get over 50 on the highway. Second, she is cheap to insure. I pay $280 for an entire year of insurance. Third, because of good engine maintenance I hardly have to put money into her for repairs. Yeah, she looks worn down but she is economical. Plus I own her outright, so if excrement hits the cooling device at least I've got a mobile shelter.
If you see her and she offends you, I'm sorry you feel that way. She has served me well for many years and yeah she isn't pretty but she is a testament to endurance and fortitude in the face of a crappy least I like to think so. Too often people throw out things because they are no longer aesthetically pleasing even though there is a lot of use left. I think now is the time people should think about keeping things around a bit longer.