Friday, June 26, 2015

The power of love

What constitutes happiness? Is it fun, excitement, stability, money, productivity, friends, family, love maybe? Is it different for everyone? Does anything satisfy everyone? Probably not. Which ones are most important for the largest amount of people?


Fun is important, right? All work, no play, that wouldn't work for me. For someone it might, but that might have something to do with them finding work to be fun. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike my job, but it's obviously not what I think of when I think about having fun. Leisurely activities and relaxation are a cornerstone in both mental and physical health.

But simply having a good time might not be enough. I think a certain degree of discovery, excitement, is vital to one's well-being. Doing new things, switching it up a bit. Breaking out of the mold, reinventing yourself. A stagnating life is oft coupled with depression, but I know not for sure which one brings the other.

On the other hand, moving forward doesn't amount to any sort of happiness if it's not accompanied by control and stability over the situation. Everyone needs stability in life. Security is what it comes down to. Having a secure job, a plan for the future, a sustainable situation in life. These things are paramount to long-term satisfaction in life. Having something or someone you can rely on is a blessing, but often financial security is the key to a sense of stability.

They always say money doesn't make a man happy. But I just might think it does. A little bit. It's nice to have nice things. That's why people work hard. Almost anyone can cut costs, there's always cheaper ways to get by. But we don't want to do that, do we? Instead we work harder.

Which leads me to productivity. For me, creating things brings me joy. I write this blog. I draw. I have my projects. I do productive things not just for money, but also for the sense of accomplishment. It's very important to me that I feel I'm accomplishing something. It applies just as well to individual moments as to life. Although I'm not great at it, I love baking. I like fixing my beat-up bike when it decides to give up on me. I also like that I'm studying, moving forward in life. I feel good that I'm accomplishing something, in that in a few years, I'm sure to be in a different place, in a different situation. Earning more money...?

No, that's not it. In a few years, I'll have new friends. Don't get me wrong, I like my current friends, but I'll have new and different ones in 5 years, with whom I'll experience new things. The thought excites me. Having friends (new or old) is essential to being happy. I need people. I just do. I wrote about it last year, how I got all grouchy and down when I was all alone in a foreign city for almost a whole week doing entrance exams.

And family is important. Knowing that you're not alone, that you've got people backing you up no matter what.

But if you have all these things, does that make you happy? Are these things even enough?

A few days ago, I had this strange dream. I don't really remember it that well, but it wasn't a particularly good dream but neither was it by any means a nightmare. It was just a bit, well, strange. The kind of dream that you'd tell someone about. When I woke up, though, I realized I have no one who I feel likes me enough to want to listen to my boring dreams anyway. And that really shook me. It was worse than the awkward dream. 

Maybe that's what we need to be happy? Someone who will listen to us talking about what we saw in an imaginary place while we were sleeping. That must be some kind of love, right? Love is all those other things. Love is an umbrella, and it under it is all the fun, the excitement, the stability, the riches and the accomplishment, and it shields us from the harsh realities of life. Can you have none of the other things, live a mundane, poor, hopeless life, but be happy by way of love? I think you can. And that's pretty darn beautiful.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Weird differences

Sometimes I hear that I'm a weird person. For different reasons and it's happened many times. But that's not how I view things. I think the world is a strange place, where we do weird, senseless things all the time. It's not just me who's weird, everyone does weird things. I might be different, though. Meaning I do some weird things that other people don't. Just other, different, weird things.

Weird has a negative implication. Weirdness hints at something being awry, not quite right. Different, however, does not. We often misinterpret or mislabel things that are different as weird, just because they're alien to us, and this might scare or shock us. Which of course makes no sense.

If a man of a tribe met a man from the city, both would think the other is weird. But in reality, weirdness doesn't exist, there is only difference. We look at other cultures all the time, non-western cultures specifically, and we think "Wow, that's strange, why do they do that?". A macabre example, in Asia, eating dog meat is quite a normal thing. In other parts of Asia, they believe that cows are holy. So strange, right? Cows. Of all animals. That's weird to us. And dog meat is downright taboo here. Dogs are our best friend, and cows are born, live, and die, just to be eaten.

Meanwhile, they think we're weird. To them, it's perfectly natural that dogs are food, like any other animal (Except cows. Cows are holy.). Everyone's weird. To someone. Does that make no one weird? It's a strange word that doesn't really mean anything. It's just an insulting way to say something is different, and it stems from a simple lack of understanding. And sometimes, a lack of will to understand. Sometimes, you get so ingrained into your own circle of thought, everything that differs from it becomes offensive to you. For no real reason at all.

This hatred for the different is everywhere, and it always makes very little sense. This animosity can be found between individuals, peoples, cities, languages, countries. It can be found between different brands of cars, branches of academics, and between separate yet similar religions. This fear of other has many names. It's racism, homophobia, and sexism all at the same time.

You should be very careful in labeling things "weird". You'd probably save us all a lot of time and trouble by accepting that it is simply different.

Okay. That drawing MIGHT be kinda weird. But just a bit. I like it a lot.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New toy!

I bought a tablet PC, and it can do this! 


It's not exactly a Wacom Cintiq, but it has a 12-inch 2160x1440 display, a pressure sensitive pen, and a complete Windows operating system (No Android riff-raff!). It also has the performance chops to run the same drawing software I use on my big PC. It's light, it's portable, it's a tablet! I can do drawing anywhere now! Halleluja technology.

It is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I got a good deal on it, and I had always figured I wouldn't be doing my notetaking at the university with actual pen and paper anyway. A study pal is what it's supposed to be for me. But it's capable as a regular laptop, decent but a bit unwieldy as a tablet, and pretty good for drawing. I think I'll be having a lot of fun with this little thing.

I always dreamed of having a Wacom Cintiq. In simple terms, they're similar to the Surface tablet I've got. But they're professional tools, and come with professional features and a very professional price tag. A Cintiq is a large digital drawing tablet, like my old one, but it has a display, so you just put your pen down wherever you want to draw. They're not tablets in the Ipad sense. A Cintiq needs to be plugged into a PC, and doesn't operate on it's own (Except for the newest models. I don't know if they're still called Cintiq:s, but they are tablets in both the digital drawing and Ipad sense.).

A regular digital drawing tablet wouldn't come with a screen, and that's what I've been using so far. It's just a black rectangular pad with a pen, and what you draw in the rectangle appears on your PC monitor. It's a little bit strange, because of the visual disconnect. You can't see your hand. You get used to it, but you still always feel kind of disconnected. A Cintiq, or a MS Surface with a pen, is different, because the pen touching the screen. It doesn't make me forget I'm drawing on a PC, no, it doesn't feel anything like drawing with a pencil on paper. But it's pretty sweet.

I gave the tablet a quick run today using OpenCanvas, my go-to drawing software. At 1500x1500 resolution with default brushes, it did well. It was quick, responsive, and the pen felt quite intuitive. I haven't messed about with any pressure settings yet, but I'm guessing there should be a fair bit of improvement to be seen in terms of sensitivity.

So I know it's good for digital sketching. It's the mid-range model, and it has a relatively beefed up processor, so it should do just fine on a bit higher resolution too. Photoshop has a more demanding brush engine, and I suspect there might be some delay when drawing. But that doesn't really bother me, because, well, I don't use Photoshop. And I don't think this will replace my old drawing tablet for more serious digital art, anyway. Let's not forget that in truth, the pen is just a neat feature on this tablet. This is not a tablet designed for drawing and making artsy stuff happen on, and it's just never going to be as good as the swathe of gadgets made for just that.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What ups in my life

Well, going back to what I wrote a couple entries back, I had great success in improving my matriculation exams this year. So great, in fact, that based on those new grades, I qualified for an education I had applied for at Aalto University in Helsinki, Southern Finland.

If my studies go as planned, in five years I will hold the academic title of Master of Science in Engineering, in Mechanical engineering specifically. Sounds pretty fancy, huh. In Swedish, that would be diplomingenjör inom maskinteknik. (either that, or the same in Structural Engineering, but I probably won't have to choose between the two before my fourth year studying.) 

this is Rupert, by the way

So. Architecture is officially off the table. A new chapter of my life, in a new city, waits for me just around the bend that is this summer. I don't really know what to say. Vasa has been great to me. I think Aalto and Otnäs will be too. It's horribly exciting but a little bit scary at the same time, I guess. What kind of friends will I find there? Where will I live? What happens to my old friends?

Time will tell. But that's still a few months away. I don't have to uproot my entire life just yet.