First off, these got alphabetized, which adds further abstraction to this exercise.
ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference). I attended Clemson University, a member of the ACC, and I have always been a sports fan. It's not the end-all, be-all for me, but I find myself continually intrigued by the drama of a season of football, basketball or baseball. I think the member institutions of the ACC are an interesting collection of schools that have a lot to be proud of, especially when taken as a whole. This extends beyond sports. To be a Clemson fan as of late is an exercise in frustration. Recent frustrations: In 2002, a dominant run by the baseball team only to be eliminated in the College World Series by arch-rival South Carolina in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, i.e. going from 1-0 needing only one win to advance to the championship, only to be completely blown out by the Gamecocks. A football season that started with the highest of expectations and ended with utter humiliation at the hands of Texas Tech. So now, I turn to basketball for my orange-blooded fever. A sport which Clemson plays in the very large shadow of the North Carolina schools. And yet, we have our best team in years. My hope is that Clemson's basketball team can improve to greater than .500 versus ACC schools. That's all. And in so doing regain respectability in the conference. And a massive upset against Duke in Cameron would be nice.
Alaska. My Dad was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Alaska is a gorgeous state and the probable source of my pro-environmental sentiment. People who have never left the East and industrial Midwest just don't know. That I was there as a child (1st through 3rd grades) made it that much more magical. Alaska was also the beginning of a time period where teachers started singling me out for some reason, giving me opportunities to express my creativity in non-traditional ways in the form of "gifted" classes (nerd breeding ground). I think every child can benefit from that Montessori-esque experience.
Architecture. My lost passion? I attempted a double-major in civil engineering and architecture (design) at Clemson. After six years at Clemson (18 months of which was spent working), the former was complete, the latter became a minor in fine art, and I went to law school. I admire the architectural work of the professional line started by Louis Sullivan, passed to Frank Lloyd Wright and currently exercised by I.M. Pei. How many master-apprentice relationships yielded such excellence? In college, I dreamed of being Pei's apprentice and carrying that venerable flame. Now, I settle for a calendar of Wright's homes. It is, at times, a painful reminder of the road not taken.
Arlington (Virginia). My first true post-college home. My first home is a 1947 Colonial purchased with my partner of four years. Arlington is a County without a city inside. It is one of the smallest counties in the country. It is Virginia's share of the District of Columbia which it refused to relinquish. It is progressive and comparatively liberal for the Commonwealth of Virginia. I think something like 150,000 people live within its close borders. Arlington is adjacent to and/or surrounds several Federal and public properties including the Pentagon, the National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima (Marines) Memorial, etc. Enough about all that for now.
Art. My minor (see architecture above). I admire so many artists for so many reasons, though I tend to admire art that is the result of craft more than art that is the result of mere sweat of the brow. Then again, I like Warhol who often described himself as "bringing home the bacon" and who reveled in the reproduction of works and resulting imperfections in the process. Because of Warhol, I can see the beauty in imperfection. I love the new U.S. Postal Stamp in his honor. Sometimes, when you learn about the lives of the people, you come away with a new appreciation. I try to apply that principle to all people, not just artists. Learn their story, and you'll come to appreciate them more. I've studied Picasso, van Gogh, Seurat, Monet, Rembrandt, Michaelangelo and countless others. But, would I also like Pollack if I saw the movie or took the time to learn more about the man? His visual legacy is a bunch of drips. Is there craft in dripping?
Ayn Rand. Oh, don't get me started. She's not the beginning and the end of anything, but oh how her writing can affect you. In a nutshell, Rand questioned and embraced a philosophy which was, in many ways, the antithesis of Christianity. She asks the question: Why admire a man who died for imperfection (our sins)? It's controversial stuff, to say the least, but how much of that controversy is rooted in my own Christian upbringing. We are raised to value selflessness, giving, charity, worrying about others? But, what if the world were selfish and being selfish wasn't a sin? Wouldn't we get more done? Wouldn't we be happier? Wouldn't every man achieve his or her full potential? Why live in fear for a heaven that may not exist? If you buy all this, do you lack faith? Do you lack spirituality? Rand also rejected mysticism. I can and will return to this subject as it is the source of no small amount of controversy in my life.
Bar Examination. My current challenge, my current guilt. I should be studying for it instead of writing this down. The last notch in my belt before I can call myself an attorney.
Basketball. I played as a child, but did not stick with it. I still love it. Although I suck bigtime, I love to play the game. I need to find a league of crappy players who love the game. Does that exist? (See Clemson above.)
Bisexual (bisexuality). I used to self-identify as bisexual. In a Kinsey sense, I'm currently gay. In a Klein sense, I used to be heterosexual, went through a bisexual stage, am now gay, yet still occasionally have heterosexual fantasies and sometimes yearn for a child with a woman. And one of my therapists used to tell me this is unusual. This part of me wants to believe it's less unusual now than it used to be as society slowly opens itself up to different ideas and places a little less pressure on individuals to conform to the heterosexual norm.
Bowling. It's blue collar, but I enjoy it. My parents have bowled together for something close to 35 years. I started bowling in a youth league in 4th grade and bowled consistently until my senior year. I did not bowl much during college. Last year, I started substituting in a local gay and lesbian bowling league. In high school, I had an average in the high 170s. Today, bowling about once a month, I average in the low 160s. So, there's no chance I'll go pro anytime soon. It's purely for the love of knocking things down, making a loud noise, and enjoying a beer with friends.
Chaos and chaos theory. Actually, I haven't read a lot on chaos lately, but I am continuously fascinated by the principle. I like to apply and/or look for chaos in sociological ways. More to the point, I marvel at the life decisions that lead us in completely different directions. Warren Buffet says you should only make 10 financial decision in your life. But, that's financial management, a different subject. For instance, I was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but did not have the means to attend, so I attended Clemson on a full scholarship, which, in all likelihood, enabled me to approach graduate without significant debt, which, in all likelihood, enabled me to attend law school.
Civil engineering. My undergraduate major. As my ex-girlfriend called it, "dirt and rocks." Which is funny in an understated way. Civil engineering is the father of all engineering, and often not as highly respected as the other engineering disciplines which are more cutting edge. And yet, we have no civilization without infrastructure. Without clean water, sewage systems, decent roads, and buildings in which to live, work and learn, we are not civilized. Someone has to design, build and manage our infrastructure. But, that person is not me. I, like many, leave infrastructure to others. But, every day, I appreciate their responsibility. Civil engineering also represents a fortuitous compromise for me. I enjoyed architecture (see above) but was worried about long-term professional stability. Civil engineering was a blend of engineering and, I thought, art. In reality, civil engineering is practical design. Aesthetic concerns are not given much energy in the engineering curriculum. There's just too much other important stuff to cover in four years. The fortune in my compromise is that civil engineering is considered a "technical degree" in the eyes of the patent law community. Had I majored in architecture, I would not have been able to easily enter the patent law field, which is my current professional passion.
Clemson. (See ACC above.) Founded in 1889, it is a public, land grant university in upstate South Carolina. Founded by Thomas Green Clemson, a relation of John C. Calhoun, as a "higher seminary of learning," Clemson has emerged as a top national public university with an emphasis in undergraduate education and research. There is no law school and medical school at Clemson, although I think either or both would flourish there. I think a law school is more likely than a medical school, as there are two major medical schools in South Carolina, but only one law school.
College baseball, college basketball, college football. (See ACC above.)
Construction. My undergraduate area of emphasis within my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. (See civil engineering above.)
O.K., I need a break. Plus, I just got a buzz on my cell phone that virtualexile commented on my first post, and I'm excited to see what he said.
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