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My DJ skills are improving immensely. I recorded myself looping a short section of a break and there's a very noticeable improvement each iteration. I've spun one party so far. I rocked 45 minutes or so of the WOBC block party a couple of weeks ago. I refused to be rained out, and so did those who stayed playing basketball or listening to me. Hopefully I'll spin another one which may or may not go down during Commencement. I buy 40 or so records in lumps each month. Most are singles, giving me 1 or 2 songs for each (not including dirty/clean/instrumentals/a Capella and the occasional awesome remix or short b-side). I need serato. WOBC receives promo material in CD-R or digital format. Hip hop workgroup got one promo vinyl single among a box full of slimline CD-R cases. Vinyl promo is nonexistant except for Def Jam which still issues vocal/instrumental both-sides-the-same 12"s, and even those are switching to become bullshit price-hiked picture discs which I can't even fully appreciate. At this point I don't have a setup which would let me produce awesome mixes as I think of them. Acquiring this setup would mean more investment in gear which means I have to stop buying records for a bit. Buying records is not totally useless. 12" singles come with vocal, instrumental and a capella versions of songs I can maybe find in vocal (often dirty) form on a blog or album. These singles often contain exclusive remixes most bloggers don't bother to rip. When they do there's no quality guarantee. Some blogs do post 12" rips. Their quality varies even mnore wildly than cd rips; needles are sometimes badly maintained giving the record lots of noise and often a severe pan in one direction. (my needles which I've had for 3 years do this hardcore) Anyway I make my record-buying choices well enough to avoid getting material I can find on albums. With serato I'd be able to fulfill people's impromptu requests even if it means breaking the mix. One blind man has tweaked serato to make it work with a particular version of JAWS windows screen reader. I don't even use JAWS, and I'm pretty sure the license I had years ago (from the NYC department of ed) has expired. My one stable windows machine has a short in the charger and no longer runs off batteries (or at all unless you jiggle the cord just right). I'd need a copy of XP to install on my Mac Mini and a working copy of JAWS, not to mention a Serato Sl1 piece of hardware. I have to do it. That's one step I can take towards getting serious with DJing. Until then I'll be leagues behind other DJs with instant access to what's hot and new off the net.

It's On

I've been working on a skit describing this past summer's experience interning for the Department of Homeland Security in DC. It occurs to me that Oberlin may've been the best place to cultivate this audio skit-making skill of mine. Hopefully people will like it and it will open up skit-making opportunities in the future... or something. I'll keep making them when I can think of a topic. Maybe I'll start a podcast of some sort; James Presents this week's tale starring James? I have no idea. In any case I've been listening and re-listening, editing and re-re-re-recording so long I'm not even sure I'm producing a quality product. 2 hours -> 25+ seconds of usable audio. I have changed my major to History. I've gotten plenty of raised eyebrows. I can already tell I'll be going less crazy. Probably be staying in school a little longer (an extra semester). Both me and the parents are obviously thrilled about this. If I'd've changed majors a year ago like I was gonna... well whatever. I'm actually excited this year - I'm working on projects (well... one project so far) which excite me. I'm taking piano lessons. Also taking this DJ exco run by an acquaintance. I'm coming back hard. I'm feeling quite optimistic, and that's more than I could've said for a while. Now I'm'a go read.

Ups and Downs of '08

+ stopped heaping blame on others' for not paying attention to me etc.
+ Put a couple of toes (if not a whole foot) on the plate by giving myself extra responsibilities; getting a job likely to be noticed by fellow co-oppers (even if it was only granola-maker), starting singing again (even if it was only college singers with one of those "fun" conductors who forget to improve their choirs) etc.
+ No longer do I avoid social situations out of some instinctive fear or general nervousness; I go out if the opportunity presents itself (sometimes even if it doesn't). Gotta thank people for taking me out of my comfort zone (especially over the summer).
+ Drinking eliminates anxiety and is socially acceptable.
+ Matured a little bit; no longer do I blurt out obnoxious or annoying comments just to be noticed for a few odd seconds (for instance).
+ other small improvements in myself I can't catalog here.

- Still have a low sense of selfworth. It's difficult for me to convince myself that I am interesting enough to engage someone in conversation, and while it's very tempting to think that I'm someone people would like to get to know enough to remember me a little more, maybe boost my name up a little in the gossip circles or something (something entirely meaningless, but I wouldn't mind even a little negative attention over the mindless "he seems like he's a great guy respect").
- Insecurity still reigns supreme. Almost every phrase or action is proceeded by crippling anxiety resulting in fragmented indecipherable speech. Guaranteed to be a conversation-killer.
- still crabby and square-headed. Even the above post exhibits that a little bit.
- Though I will attend parties, I now realize that my suspicians were almost entirely valid. People are less likely to take you seriously (because you're both drunk) and noise forbids any conversation excluding visual (which I'm not entirely convinced really exists; how much can you say without talking? I guess it's a girl thing... damn it).
- Unable to talk to people (read: girls) who interest me because of problems mentioned above. I don't do a very good job at being my dynamic, briliant self unless friends of mine (family, blind people etc) are present. I've never gotten that far here in Ohio.
- Anger has been replaced by depression. The first half of this year was almost too much to bare, and this past month hasn't been great either. Freshmen year was more bewildering frustration with copious whining. I still whine but at least it's a little less judgmental and harsh on those of whom I am jealous. At least anger gave me a drive to feel something other than totally helpless.
- Goals for the future still shady. At this point I'm only in school because a) it's my third year, why quit and b) degree (whatever that means). In reality I'm only here because I'm not forward-thinking enough to a) come up with a workable plan to deviate from my preset course through "life" and b) do it.

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When will people realize that I am the smartest funniest person they will ever have the pleasure of bullshitting with? I know it's easy to shove me into the back row with all the other socially-retarded hand-ringing nervous-backpeddling invalids, and that's occasionally justifiable, but I don't always have to be reduced to dead weight.

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I consciously write in this journal when I feel bitchy and self-defensive or worried (worry usually results in the first two).  This ends up fulfilling the original goal of this journal.  One of the reasons I keep it around in the first place is because it makes me smile to see how far I've come - the title alone reflects a me far more concerned about figuring out what I dislikedthan what makes me happy.  A lot of him was killed off last year, but the obsessive analytic remnents irritate me most of the time (wherever I am).

<lj-cut text="Read on if you need to validate your own vague insecurities">I spend a lot of time worrying about why I went to college.  Unlike many people I meet here, I had absolutely no grand vision or idea of how I'd improve myself outside of some vague compsci programmer goals which I never completely believed in to begin with.  I haven't coded anything since the beginning of junior year, and that "project" was rushed in the first place.  I don't know if I will ever be one of those who are lucky enough to call themselves "good at math," but even as I write this I haven't given myself a chance outside those times I tried beginning this semester in Algorithms (CS course). I saw my dropping of the course about a month ago as some sort of attempt to find my passion. One thing I did finally come to terms with is that I have no real reason for being here other than it being the next step after (prep) high school and another way to make my family (sorry, they're the only people I consider close friends) proud of me. I also have no passion other than procrastinating (even when there's nothing to procrastinate - I am the most boring person I know when I realize I don't pursue any of my cookie-cutter interests very much at all). I waste the hours worrying and panicking and panicking and worrying. I can't even whip up a stupid flier for a spanish braille presentation (one day I'll show interest in something which doesn't involve my disability, I swear) scheduled four days from now, meaning noone will probably have the chance to come, meaning that the house director will be angry and disappointed in me (in my mind?). I don't even particularly want to teach people about braille, but now feel obligated to  (even though it was I who suggested it). If I'm satisfied with not doing it why am I so afraid of getting in trouble with the cranky head of house? I need to grow up.

After enthusiasticly spilling my guts all over anyone who was willing to talk with me for 15 or more continuous minutes over the past few weeks, I realized that I'm not alone in being afraid to try out of fear of failing. Of course the fact that it's just a little bit harder for me to start (adapting materials for my unique blinky needs) usually results in me not doing anything at all.
 doubt this entry or this journal will ever bring me closer to solving problems; catharsis only works once in a while, and pretending that anyone's reading this (read: anyone I want to have stumbled across the life of one of their classmates, gasped at how they never knew my life was so hard and proceeded to execute a plan involving our meeting and prompt romantic explosion) is feudal.  I guess I have to, like, do stuff.
Anyway after looking over others' journals and their hopes and grand plans before college I discovered it didn't much matter as they probably feel as lost and angry as I do.

Apparently someone once remarked that I had a lot of "balls" to write about how I wish I'd gotten to know all of my former classmates better on my yearbook page.  That someone probably now realizes that it's far easier to lament about the past than it is to actually change stuff while one has the chance. Passive aggressive? Probably. I guess I'm just trying to make a connection with some of my small potential reader base without making it obvious enough to possibly incriminate me - my specialty (I wish).

On the Mac

TO be more accurate, I *should* be on the Mac by the end of this week, but it appears to be stuck somewhere in California.  I'm a little annoyed at this since the computer store should've ordered it a week earlier than last friday (mainly because they said they had) but I digress.

As some of you may know, all revisions of OSXX passed 10.4 come with a built-in screenreader called VoiceOver.  After getting a chance to tool around with it on my Mom's overpowered Mac Pro, I'm really happy with the way Apple is handling screen access.  The mac works great with almost all built-in apps (should work better iwth some in Leopard - I'll soon find out) and most apps built with coco/objective-c crap in them (or something) should apparently work fine with VO.  Thus the mac is an inexpensive solution for all those who want a computer and don't need to use such programs as Microsoft Office... oh wait.

"But wait," I hear some of you cry, "do you not understand that Apple and Apple alone maintains the screen access technology? What if we want other options?"
In a perfect world we shouldn't need any other options - sighted users only use the computer in one way, and that's the way in which Apple or MS or whoever the manufacturer of the OS wants them to (this usually applies to third-party programs because most of the time they conform to a certain design spec/API using the OS Creator's interface).  Why should it be different for us blinks?
In fact, I'd venture to say that it's better to have one solid accessibility spec ffor all programs to follow since it ensures we'll have automatic access to them; I haven't delved deep into developer crap, but apparently programs can be designed to work seemlessly with voiceover (items speaking correctly and intuitively, even help tags provided for those controls which seem out of place).  This means that all the work usually designated to, say, a JAWS Scripter, is the app programmer's responsibility.

We don't live in a perfect world, and noone wants to dedicate the time (OMG blind people? Um... I don't know what they'd want... um whatever) so some apps probably won't work without some obnoxious mailing-list/e-caimpaigning, etc.
This isn't totally true - Adium (Mac's main messenger client) is apparently fully accessible now, and um.. that's it.

It's amazing how smug some mac users are - I've been frequenting some Mac beginners list to get excited for the big day and keep getting put off by the amount of subliminal (and superliminal) Mac-touting that goes on.  I already have a problem with those who recommed them in real life, using such arguments as "uh... it just works better" or "um... it doesn't have viruses lol."  I guess I just need to come to terms that not everyone wants to get the most out of their computer by learning about how it works.  I just can't shake off the feeling that some people just never get over the initial noobie-pep and let it grow into a dark fungus of snobbish superiority (with Mac users it's more like a poisonous mushroom).

Operation Pussy Out in Progress

I can't worry about having a reader work with me for an hour or two a day on freaking spanish workbook problems when I have to deal with graphs for real (after tearing through them headdown last semester) plus crazy algorithms.  I'm not too upset about this, mainly because Spanish isn't worth spending so much time on  (and to think I considered majoring in it... whatever).  I'm concerned enough to write about it in an attempt to justify what I try not to let the unfair area of my brain tell me is a waste of an expensive education (lolwtf).  Oh well, algorithms more than makes up for it.  Christ.  It doesn't help that I'm doing this the stupid way, meaning I've been scrambling for a new class since Friday (after signing up for Spanish in November out of habbit more than anything else).

CS - Algorithms
CS - Architecture
HIST - Second Wave Femmenism (supposed to be a fun class)
Either Radio Documentary or CS - Mind and Machine (depending if I can get in)
MST3K (At least I didn't take two TV excos)

Time to (not) go worry/panic.

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Thanks to the amazing Monique of the disabilities office, I will most likely be working for the Cleveland Sight Center this January, developing an accessible frontend for GOCR allowing blinks to scan documents without payinn $999 for Kurzweil. I can either live in cleveland at some low income housing thing for blinks (it's for a month so my rep remains clean) or back at Oberlin. This is all happening so fast (the deadline for j-term projects is a week from today for chris'sake) but I'm very happy. My previous idea (braille-labeling vending machines on campus) would've been cute but this is what I want (need more internships anyway - finally a coding one!).
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