Went home, visited family, returned, still sane.
On the trip, as usual, I spotted an interesting mix of people at the Greyhound station and at other places. On the bus ride to the station, I was again reminded exactly how different most people are from University folk - I was disappointed at the waste of human potential in many of the people around me, many of which looked to be wasting their brains.. (but then, they're probably happier than I am with life, so ..) (more mundane details of trip follow)this took a turn for the weirder when I reached the station, where I saw a few Mennonites along with a Scotsman in kilt (odd - kilts are fairly formal wear, and travelling on a bus in one would be as odd as wearing a full suit). The bus trip was uneventful (I slept most of the way there), and my mom drove me to the family home (as much as there's still a family in that sense anymore, given my dad, anyhow). Later, visiting my grandparents, I saw two of the cousins, took a walk in the acres of woods behind my grandparents place, was reminded that my grandpa is a lot like me socially, got a few cute photos of my grandparents' cat in one of his endless posings (outdoor cats are really cute), and we went home. I don't think anyone in my family really knows how to cook for vegetarians... anyhow, I grabbed several more relics of my childhood (most notably some notebooks I jotted in from 2nd grade onwards that remind me that a lot of my quirks date further back than I remembered), played a bit on the piano (which was really wonderful. I miss having one), and bailed out and flipped one of the boats that my mom forgot to flip last winter (a misguided attempt to siphon the water out left me drinking a good bit of water that had been sitting under the deck for at least 9 months - hopefully my stomach cramps will fade soon). Then today, after getting some gifts from family (some of which will have to be mailed here), I came back home to Pittsburgh via greyhound, this time with a bit of a migraine. Trip ends. :)
Back to that bus trip, seeing the Mennonites, combined with a conversation with my grandpa about some farm work he did when he was young, got me to thinking about the sustainability of the Mennonite and Amish communities. Right now, such communities, as I understand, do not pay tax (and, by and large, are peripheral to our larger economic community). When I was younger, I imagined a divide in the United States between city folk in concentrated bits, surrounded by groups like the Amish/Mennonites/other Anabaptists and farmers living traditional lives, providing all of our food. I wonder if that's going to change much (or already has) since farming is becoming more automated (in various forms and degrees). One of my suitemates at Ohio State (a guy by the name of Kenny, IIRC) was an Agricultural Studies major (OSU has a *lot* of majors), and he said that after he graduated, he expected to go back home to run the family farm. If these studies increase the efficiency in farms (I would guess they do, given that there's a university programme for them), in the long run, I suspect the traditionalists don't have a chance in the long run. A shame? A pity? I'm not sure what I think about it, but it's all part of the larger trend of civilisation. Maybe such groups can survive if they act almost completely independent from society at large and keep their tax exemption (I wonder if there's inner debate in their communities on the degree to which they want to act as tourist attractions -- one group that's not anabaptist that seems to be ok with a good amount of it, Hale Farm Traditional Village, is just a ways down the road from my grandparents' place).
I've been chewing on my wonderings regarding Rap music - a few more observations:
- It seems to me that the ideal in rap music is to get the beats and words together to the point where it feels like the words (and emphases) were designed specifically to fit the song.
- Good rap has a hypnotic effect on the willing listener - the words of the rap have an important ability to sway how much this works. I have a much easier time listening to rap that's not societally abhorrent (e.g. particularly racist/sexist or expresses other ideas that make me angry). I've been less keen on Eminem's stuff since getting into MC Frontalot, and I'm branching out a bit into other Nerdcore rappers to see what I like. Optimus Rhyme seems pretty likable so far
- I'm even more convinced that most rap has very little to do with music in how it's enjoyed. I have a suspicion that really good public speakers have a lot in common with rappers (well, not in lifestyle, but in their work)