Sunday, July 29, 2007

I like taking quizzes online. It's a good way to procrastinate... finding out what type of coffee I am (cafe latte), which zodiac sign I should be (Virgo), which Britney Spears I am (the sexpot)... you know the type. There are a thousand and ten websites that offer these silly quizzes. Yes, I admit it, they're silly and their results hardly qualify as profound representations of my personality or character. But I can't help it... they're fun! And addicting. My favorite quiz site actually offers "Ph-D Certified" quizzes which range in topic from "The 5 Factor IPIP Personality Test" (not sure what IPIP actually is, but it sounds impressive... apparently I'm unusually conscientious) to "How Sinful Are You?" (I will go to Hell because I'm overly guilty of envy), to "What Breed of Dog Are You at Work?" (Border Collie). Who knows how legit these Ph-D Certified tests really are, or what that even means. At this website that I love I've taken 161 quizzes.... what a waste of my life. But as I look at the list of all my results I can't help but think that what's displayed on my laptop screen actually IS a more than decent representation of who I really am. If you look past the sexpot and border collie type of results you will see a whole lot about me that most people don't know.... cumulatively, these results really do describe me. It's all rather amusing and kind of fascinating at the same time... after all, these are silly quizzes!!!

Anyways, my goal with this post wasn't just to list my various quiz results... which up until now is pretty much all I've been doing. My real purpose in this blog is to tell you about a particular quiz I took where I learned something about myself, but not from the results.

So we all know how facebook has added these ridiculous applications, many of which I admittedly have subscribed to. Well, one of them is called PersonalityDNA. Essentially your everyday, run of the mill, can find it on any of the other one thousand and nine websites, personality quizzes. It is however, slightly more impressive as it does not involve multiple choice but rather more innovative answering techniques which (may) provide more accurate results. Also, if friends take the quiz too you can then each take it for each other and see how well you really know your friend. It's quite enjoyable. Anyways, I subscribed to the application and took the quiz and it ruled me as a "faithful director"... the words themselves don't particularly fit me, at least I don't think so, but their description fit me to a tee (T?/tea?... never quite got the expression). So, after I first took the quiz I kind of forgot about it. Then, around a month or two later I decided to retake it and see if I got the same results. It is a long quiz, and like I said, it doesn't have a straight forward way of answering so I figured I'd probably get something new. But there it was again... faithful director! I was mildly impressed. What really struck me though was one question in particular....

It was a question where the result required a sliding scale. The question was "I often avoid unnecessary social interaction" and I had to put the little cursor thing where I thought it belonged on the scale from "agree" to "disagree". I never really know how to answer these types of social questions anymore because I'm very different now from how I was and I'm very different depending on who I am with. Although I am quite outgoing with my friends now, even a bit of an attention craver, I still get extremely anxious in a lot of social situations. So, without really thinking about it too much I just slid the cursor closer to "agree" saying that I often do avoid unnecessary social interaction. Then I paused. It didn't seem right. And here's what I realized... a lot of the time I welcome unnecessary social interaction... I'm often even the one to initiate it. I like going out places or being with friends. Here's the thing... it's the necessary social interactions that I try to avoid. Those are the ones I hate... picking up the phone to call and make an appointment, going into the post office to mail a package, answering a question when I'm called on in class. These things are necessities and they're the ones I hate. Isn't it strange how this simple quiz question which is basically meant to test how extroverted/introverted you are doesn't even scratch the surface of what it's meant to be asking? No wonder why I have a hard time answering the "social questions".... it's not as simple as whether or not I'm introverted or extroverted. I always thought of myself as introverted, but by the description I gave of myself I'm really an extroverted individual at heart with certain social anxieties. I'm rambling... I'm well aware. Like that IPIP quiz said, I'm quite conscientious. But this one quiz question made me realize a lot of things about myself and get me thinking.... and that's worth blogging about. Anyways, visit to find out what city matches your style, who you were in a past life, or even learn more about your subconscious self.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So... I'm out in Illinois, and I thought to myself.... I miss blogging. And the truth is, most of the time I don't miss it. Most of the time I keep myself busy enough to forget the part of me that ever found blogging "fun". But Illinois is no Connecticut or Massachusetts. Illinois begs people to blog, and I'll tell you why.

In New England there are a thousand temptations to keep one from accessing the computer other than to do work or check facebook. There, people lead busy lives where 20 minutes of downtime is 19 minutes too many. Personally, I could find a million ways to waste my time when I'm in zipcode 06477 or 02766. There are friends living only a lower campus away from you, 817 dvds to watch, 818 parties to attend, 7 nights a week to break into the dance studio and NYC is my next door neighbor with all of its excitement shooting up and down 7th Ave. Then you get to 61820.... Champaign, IL.... where there's corn.

I won't lie, it's better than I imagined. The small town I'm in (though it's actually a city and just feels like a small town) is rather cute. There's Green Street one block down from my apartment which has restaurants and shops and cute brick roads... the small part of this huge campus that I've seen is gorgeous and totally puts the Dimple to shame... there's the threat of a tornado appearing on any given day (and we all know it's my life long dream to see a tornado in person)... it's 800x less humid than CT in the summer... on the surface it's a pretty decent place. But if you leave my little 1/2 mile radius you get your stereotypical Midwest miles upon miles of corn and farmland. But I don't really care about that because I have no reason to wander further than a 1/2 mile from my apartment. Here's the real downer about being out here...

I have too much free time to know what to do with myself. The only thing worse than a lot of free time is its associated "slow pace" mentality. There's no rush, no excitement. Everyone out here seems to be the easy going, relaxed, "slow down and smell the roses" type. I need to be constantly on the go to not be bored... I need to feel like I have 80 things to get done when I know I only have time for 30 of them. My life on the third floor of an apartment complex on Bash Court is a far, far cry from the world I'm comfortable in. I have read 5 books in the past 2 weeks I've been out here... and I'm not a reader. I've taken to taking naps in the afternoon because I don't know what else to do with myself. At the rate I'm going with choreographing every day to keep myself busy I'll have 7 dances done by the end of the summer. My roommates are also in the math REU so it's nice living with other math nerds... we've decorated our living room walls with over 60 drawings we've done that use the 4 color theorem. It's great fun, but something I shouldn't have so much time to be doing. There's only so many afternoons I can spend on the quad, reading... so many nights I can spend coloring with four crayons. I know... I should cherish the down time that summer provides... my last summer before I hit the real world.... and I know it sounds contradictory, but downtime is no good unless you have something to do with it, friends to share it with. And I've never been lonelier out here.

My roommates are great. We bond over coloring and baking cookies (or eating cookies that just one of them baked). Every week we go to a different restaurant together and I'm inducting them into the world of I Love Lucy. But I need my boy... I need my Wheaton friends... I need my family... I need something TO DO with my summer.

I'm supposed to be doing math. Math research. Evolutionary Game Theory and Social Networks. ... and I do... do it. But we meet for 2 hours a day and then have reading to do... it's not very time consuming. We're starting to work on some individual research now, but it's still incredibly relaxed, "take your time" kinda "slow down and let it span out over the entire 8 weeks" sort of thing. I guess I have learned a lot... both about evolutionary game theory and the fact that I don't enjoy math research and don't want to do it again. But overall I'm less than loving my time out here. Everyone in my group is naturally brilliant and I feel like the ugly duckling.... or the equivalent of that like when dealing with geniuses and the one town idiot.

It will all be fine in the end... I'll write my research paper in TeX and be proud of my work and happy I went through the experience. 10 years from now I'll look back on that summer I lived in Champaign and think of what a great little town it was. I'll remember what fun it was to live with two girls as enthusiastic about math as me and laugh at how lame we were with our dozens of 4 color theorem drawings. But right now all I care about is the money I'm getting to do this. And right now the only theorem I've developed is this: the higher the first digit of a town's zip code, the more boring of a place it is to live. And right now I can't wait to go out to San Jose so I can see Rachel and then head home... and we know that's saying a lot if in San Jose I have to present at a conference. Oh life.