Monthly Archives: July 2010

Body hair

Forgive me if this is too much information, but i don’t shave anywhere.  And i can’t believe that it has to be like this, but my parents give me so much shit for not shaving my armpits.

They’ve long given up on my legs, but ohhhh no, you better shave your armpits before you start teaching.  They claim that “most people” find underarm hair on women repulsive.  They actually put it on the same level as indecent exposure.

I just can’t, even for a second, accept their hypothesis of “it’s repulsive to most,” because not only do i find it attractive on both men and women, i’m not willing to buy that something as natural as body hair could be considered “repulsive.”  If cultural norms dictate that it’s acceptable on men, why shouldn’t it be acceptable on women, too?

I honestly haven’t a clue if people (other than my parents) really do find it repulsive.  I guess it doesn’t get talked about very much, at least not around me.  So i need your opinion.  Do you find underarm hair on women offensive?  Why or why not? Please try to give reasons, and feel free to remain anonymous if you want.

P.S.  If you’re interested, this post by my friend Sam has the beginnings of a discussion on women’s body hair, coupled with some relevant artwork.

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On making friends

Nothing sinks more heavily in your stomach than the realization that someone who you thought liked you really hates you.

More and more, i’m inclined to think that making friends isn’t a matter of chance, or even of preference; it’s a matter of knowing what you want to learn, and recognizing who can help you learn those things.  Does that make friendship utilitarian?  I don’t know, but let’s take a look what Aristotle had to say on the matter:

It seems that not everything is loved, but only what is worthy of love, and this is what is good, pleasant, or useful. What is useful, however, would seem to be what is instrumental to some good or pleasure, so that what are worthy of love as ends are the good and the pleasant.  —Nicomachean Ethics, VIII. ii. p.145

So even if you’re friends with someone because he or she is “instrumental to some good or pleasure,” the end you ultimately strive for is that good or pleasure.  The bottom line is, there is some good or pleasure we desire, and we become friends with those who provide us with it.

Let’s start with the goods.  What kinds of goods do we seek?  Well, obviously they vary from individual to individual, but the one most commonly identified and discussed by philosophers is happiness.  It seems that the “small” goods we seek add up to the “big,” self-sufficient good of happiness.

Then let’s assume that we make friends because they help us attain that good of happiness.  How do my friends make me happy?  Personally, i’m happy when my friends care for me and teach me new things.  Some of my friends don’t do either of these things, and yet i call them “friends.”

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“I want to be an unforgettable teacher.”

It’s official:  i’m going to be a Guest English Teacher at a public school in Seoul starting September.  All i can say is, i am beyond excited.  I even watched Master of Study to learn about public schools in Seoul and the Korean educational system and culture in general.  It moved my heart and inspired me to be the best teacher i can be—“an unforgettable teacher.”  At first, i thought that was a rather self-centered, ego-inflated way of looking at things.  But then i realized that teachers who really care can’t help but want their students to care in return.  Teachers are human, too.

My main reason for going is to take a year or two “off” from where i am right now and focus on myself.  I want to be free from all restrictions (or as much as i can manage abroad, away from home) and just do anything my heart desires.  I probably shouldn’t have picked Seoul because i know even more people there who will bother me and take away my time, but i wanted to go someplace familiar and where i spoke the language fluently.

By time “off,” i certainly don’t mean that i won’t be taking my time there seriously.  There are two projects that i will have to take very seriously, the first one being obvious:  my job.  It has always been my dream to teach, and though i don’t think of ESL education in particular as a long-term endeavor for me, i do enjoy parsing and teaching language and believe that knowing English is an important asset.  However, i am hoping that i’ll be able to teach my students more than just the English language.  I hope to allow them to discover a lifelong joy of learning–and in themselves, self-worth–and i’m sure i’ll have a lot to learn from them as well.

My second project will be to familiarize myself with as many of the great philosophers and their works as possible.  I plan on going to grad school for Philosophy in a few years, and i feel that i am not quite up to par as those with a B.A. in the subject.  And so, i’ve begun collecting books to bring with me to Seoul to study in my free time.  Please leave suggestions if you have any, especially for ancient philosophy.

I’ll be leaving August 9th.

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Sometimes i wish the world were a little town of fifty people

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.   .   . I like familiarity.  As much as i try to fool myself into thinking that i like the new, the unexplored, the unknown, i’m just a scaredy-cat with my own share of insecurities.

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When i start to get familiar with something, and something else threatens to take it from me, i panic.  I don’t wanna lose the chance of disclosing it.  I don’t wanna have to surrender it to the world out there.  I don’t wanna have to start from scratch, only to lose again.

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The blue jays that visit me every summer

Blue jays hold a special place in my heart.  Such colorful birds aren’t so common in S. Korea, so the first time i saw them in Virginia, i was captivated by their beauty.  They’re what got me into bird watching.

Every summer, a pair of blue jays visits the mini-forest next to my house.  The first summer they visited (or maybe the first summer i noticed them) was when i was in elementary or middle school.  I saw a flash of blue outside, and knowing what that meant, i stepped out onto my porch.  The two beautiful birds flew around me in a circle before disappearing into a forest further away.  It was a magical moment.

I recognize their calls when their visiting season returns, and whenever i hear them, i always, always look outside.  Sometimes they like to play hide-and-seek with each other in the pine tree right outside my window:

The other one was hiding beyond my frame.  I promise to update with a better photo if i can manage one before they leave for another year.  I don’t know where they go for the rest of the year, but i know they’ll always come back for the summer.

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Protected: I seriously think i’m going to lose it

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One big, unsolvable problem

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” –Kierkegaard

My second installment of Conversations with Yang has led me to another question:  Science and Philosophy may differ in their approach to problems, but what about the life of the scientist and the life of the philosopher?  How might the scientist and the philosopher differ in approaching life?

As evident from my last post, Yang would rather work on solvable problems for a living, whereas i would rather devote my time to unsolvable problems.  If each approach seems to offer its own set of advantages, and you desire both, then the logical course of action would be to work on both solvable and unsolvable problems.

So Yang would break down a big, unsolvable problem into smaller, solvable ones so she can have some kind of ROI, so to speak.  And we’ve already seen that that’s not possible in doing philosophy.

But what if “life” were modeled this way?  What if philosophy could be my unsolvable problem, and i had other, solvable problems to work through on the side?

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