Darkness on Identity, Politics, and Nationalism vs. Globalism

I decided to write this a few weeks ago when I noticed a more starkly growing divide in people’s views on the world. Particularly, I noticed that some people were pigeon-holing each other into one of a few bland viewpoints and deciding themselves why other people thought a certain way (usually for negative reasons). People trust me to be the logical voice in heated debates, and since I’ve been proven right time and time again, it was sort of an obligation for me to write about some subjects that have been getting some particular attention lately.

The first thing I want to talk about is identity, and it segways into the other things nicely. In the past identity might have been something that you “are,” but I’ve seen it more recently become something that you “use” or “be.” It used to be that one’s culture, appearance, or background is what others sort of “heaped on” to the individual, and that’s still true in a lot of cases, but the difference I’m seeing is the ratio of that to people actively defining themselves as something and seeking to be stereotyped for it.

I spend a decent amount of time on Twitter, (mainly because it’s one of the few social media sites I haven’t been banned from yet), and I’ve noticed a few trends: It starts with fun trendy things like “X identity breaks the internet,” “Y identity’s do it better.” Certain types will cling to and accumulate these badge-like labels on themselves. On profiles I’ve seen an increase in labeling one’s self based on identity rather than personality or characteristics. Instead of “I like X,” or “My hobbies are Y,” I see an increase of “I /am/ an X ethnicity, Y skin-color, Z sexual orientation,” as if this set of identities is trusted to present the person in a greater capacity than their individual characteristics. On top of that, the labels themselves that one sticks to themselves I’ve seen get more specific and more numerous. I think part of it is because that with how connected we are, we are finding that we aren’t all that different, and it’s increasingly harder to stand out from a crowd. The harder one can push this illusion of uniqueness through specific and extreme identities, the more interesting one can seem to be. I call this sort of thing a trend of “hyper-identity,” where one actively seeks to make themselves as “exclusive” as possible.

One controversial figure that often gets brought up in this subject is Milo Yiannopoulos. I’ve heard him say that in the modern age, suffering is so scarce that it has become a form of currency, and to create an illusion that one has suffering, they will use their identity as a tool. Milo himself uses identity in a similar way, however. When faced with accusations of racism or sexism he will often repeat the line “I like to suck black cocks,” which is sort of his own spin on the “I can’t be racist, my best friend is black,” line.

Why is this tactic attempted in the first place, however? For some people, an identity feels like a permission-slip to express thoughts that anyone should be allowed to express anyway.

One thing I find interesting is the concept as “passing” for one identity or another. In certain cases, when one can convince others that they are, or at least are more of than they are, a certain identity, they gain some sort of benefit or status.

In the past we had former black slaves or their descendants, if they had light enough skin, attempting to and sometimes having success at, passing as a white person. This would have given them more access and a higher position in society. This sort of passing-for-white(r) still exists in some cultures, and it goes so far as to have warranted a market demand for skin-bleaching products. Out of this sort of thing we get the stereotypical phrase some black woman get that they are “too pretty for a dark skinned woman.”

At the same time, we see something else happening, the difference being while I see the former phenomena deceasing over time, I see this slowly increasing over time: “white” people attempting to pass or emphasizing being something else. One prominent example of this is I’ve seen a lot of news about is Nkechi Diallo (formerly Rachel Dolezal), who identified as black.

I’ve also heard a joke that goes as follows: “What do you call 64 white people in a room? One full-blooded Native American.” The joke is that white people tend to be eager to state any Native-American heritage they have, even if it is small (1/64 in the case of the joke).

Now throughout history in areas where non-heterosexuals are marginalized, such as the US south, we’ve seen gay people attempt to pass as straight, sometimes even going as far as getting heterosexually married and starting a family, only to “come out” in later life.

There is also a stereotype that in order to advance one’s carreer in a Hollywood-related field one should pretend to be homosexual.

If we assume that in general people are logical beings, they only do what has a net positive value in utility. We have to ask the question “What would cause someone who is A to identify as B, or B as A, and what is the reason for the shifting in most desirable identities to be throughout time? Are we defacto or dejure creating a heirarchy of identities, and does that heirarchy change depending on location?”

Next I want to talk a little bit about my personal political views. Now I know I already made a blog about the responsibilities of a society and already touched on a lot of politics, which was met with great acclaim, but I’d been thinking about the specific role of government so I’ll expand a bit on that.

Now I’m liberal libertarian, or “3rd quadrant” on the political spectrum. Let me tell you what this means to me: I don’t believe in any type of enforced moralism. What that means is I don’t think that something that affects no one but one’s self can be considered a crime.

The role that I think government should have in one’s life is to make sure that they are protected from the consequences of other’s actions which they did not consent to. In other words, it should make sure the rice I’m buying isn’t actually made of plastic. It should make sure that no one is benefiting off of destroying a shared resource. A business should be taxed and subsidised appropriately such that the bottom line reflects the true cost to society. In other words, if one makes a widget for $1, sells it for $2, and creates $20 of pollution in the process, an unregulated free market says “do this, it is creating $1 of value per widget,” while each widget made is actually destroying $19 of value. It is the government’s job to reflect that “true cost” on the businesses.

There’s a lot of contention today about the role of countries, especially western countries, in regards to the refugees of other countries. This is an issue where I don’t think that we can objectively determine the right answer, like we can do with abortion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that helping refugees is the “good” choice, I just also think that we as a country are under no obligation to be the “good guys.” It is a value judgment of a society whether they are willing to take on the added responsibility of helping others or not. Before WWII, the US did turn away a boat full of Jewish refugees, many of whom ended up dying as a result. In the allegory of the good Samaritan, we were the one of the people who kept walking. In essence, we have to choose between what’s the good thing to do, and what is best for “me.”

Lastly I want to get into nationalism and globalism. Within a society, the concept of specialization acts sort of like a “utility multiplier.” If there are n people, and everyone does 1/n of every job, then each job will be done at the efficiency of the average skill of all people in the society. If we assign each person to a job they have comparative advantage at, the efficiency increases toward maximum for the society. The same is true for countries. Countries have different types of lands, different cultural values, and different levels of education and skills which lends themselves to particular tasks. If each country acts in the global interest and allows the free market to determine what it has the most comparative advantage of doing, eventually the earth as a system reaches maximum utility.

Because of this, the optimal strategy is for all countries to adopt full globalistic policies. The problems only arise when human greed and shortsightedness are taken into account. We as humans naturally see some jobs are more prestigious than others. We want to believe that we are the best at everything, and therefore we might choose an inferior domestically-made product, which slightly disrupts the path of maximum efficiency.

At the same time, utility gains are not evenly spread out. Due to this, for a given country A, they might actually stand to have a utility increase if they can unnaturally force themselves into a different role, even if it causes a utility decrease of greater magnitude for the global system.

Businesses force a sort of prisoner’s dilemma on to countries. Business are made of people, but act like machines, they have only the goal of making the most money, and so we must assume that’s how they’ll behave. If all countries in the world demanded the exact same working conditions and environmental protections, then each would have a fair shot at attracting business and businesses would fall wherever most efficient; in this case, all countries win. If country A decides that it will settle for lower working conditions and fewer environmental protections than country B, then country A will have not only the businesses that would normally fall on to them, but also some that would have normally gone to B. In this case, A wins by having an abundance of business, generating more wealth for themselves, while B loses. If B then retaliates by doing the same thing, lowing its own standards, then businesses once again choose wherever is most efficient between the two, only this time, both A and B have lower standards of living than they normally would; in this case, both countries lose and businesses win.

In any case, we as humans are tribalistic beings, and we want to blame some “other” for our problems. Because of this tendency, leaders who play towards nationalism will always have an innate advantage over those who do not during elections. We like to believe that we’re being cheated out of our rightful slice of the pie, and that even if global utility decreases, our utility will increase once we get the portion that we are supposed to be getting.

Christmas Shenanigans with Erika – 17-19 December 2016

Erika and I hadn’t hung out for a while, so before I left for Winter Break, she decided to come visit San Jose for a few days to hang out.

First we went to hang out at Target, because she wanted to get new hipster gloves that let you use a touchscreen phone while wearing them. I suggested she just go with the classic hobo-style fingerless gloves, but she wasn’t too keen on the idea. While we were there, we checked out some necklaces and Erika told me about how in-fashion the chevron was.

We decided to have a snack at Starbucks. Erika wasn’t sure what to get, so I suggested this hot Italian sandwich; it turned out to be the best choice.

Next we went to my place to watch a movie. I knew that Erika liked Harry Potter, so I suggested this movie Imperium, which starred Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry Potter. Erika agreed, but little did she know the movie was going to be much more than she bargained for.

The next day we decided to check out Christmas in the Park (a first-time experience for me). While there, we tried some of the famous “Snowman Hot Chocolate,” which tasted amazing. I thought the little plastic snowman on top was edible and almost ate it! The weather was really cold, so the hot chocolate was much needed warmth.

We looked for some food to get next. We passed some fancy-looking hot dogs, but Erika wanted to check out some type of meat she saw while we were driving around earlier looking for a parking space. Turns out the meat she saw frying was even more hot dogs, so we decided to get some. They were wrapped in bacon and topped with onions and more. The guy said “ten dollars,” and Erika tried to give him a debit card but it was cash only. Neither of us were carrying cash, and the guy said to just take the dogs for free, but Erika literally went over to the nearest ATM and withdrew some cash so we could give some to the guy.

After that we walked around and looked at tall the trees decorated by the various local organizations. I noticed one of the trees decorated by a church, (the specific one I forgot), had a gay-pride rainbow flag planted near its base. I made sure to point this out to Erika and rub her nose in it with great glee. (She had a very conservative religious view on homosexuality which I often took jabs at her for.)

The next morning Erika came and picked me up to come to her fancy hotel to try the complimentary breakfast. We had bacon, eggs, potatoes, salsa, yogurt, and juice. As we were eating I asked her how she slept last night in her hotel. She said she slept pretty good, so I said “mas o menos?” (more or less), and she agreed.

Little did we know there was a lady eating next to us with like five heavy luggage bags and when she heard that phrase she immediately got up and started talking to me in Spanish. Now I’m nowhere near conversation level fluent, so I had to look back and forth between the lady and Erika to get her to translate what the lady was trying to say to me. The lady could plainly see this but insisted on speaking to me the whole time instead of Erika, which made it extra confusing.

So as it turns out the lady wanted me to help carry her bags to her husband who was outside somewhere, (they didn’t let people into the breakfast room after 9AM). So I agreed to carry the bags but I was like “the door better not lock behind me once I go out.”

Well luckily the husband was waiting right outside the breakfast room so I was able to pass off the bags to him without letting the door close.

IMG_6341.jpg

 

After breakfast Erika went to go visit some old friends in San Jose, but later that afternoon we decided to meet up again one last time before she left. We decided to take a trip to Hobags, (local slang for “House of Bagels”), which is a well known place popular with the locals. I’d never been there before so it was going to be a real treat for me.

Well we got there and they had like ten different types of bagels and twenty different types of cream cheeses. Erika got some cinnamon bagel with some fancy cream cheese. I got a cheese bagel with standard cream cheese. To my surprise it was very warm and soft. I’d never experienced a bagel like this before. In my previous experience with bagels, they’d all been room temperature and somewhat tough. I can definitely see why that place is popular with the locals.

All in all the weekend was a string of crazy adventures and first time experiences.

The Boyos’ Cajun Cookout – 25 November 2016

For weeks we’d been planning to have the Cajun Cookout as a sort of after-party from Thanksgiving, only the Cajun Cookout would be a gathering of the Boyos. It had been planned that we would deep fry five pounds worth of crabs in Kyle’s 5 gallon deep fryer, as well as a whole medley of assorted snacks we would also deep fry.

The day of the cookout, we first did some shopping at four different grocery stores to find the most fitting dishes for the event. To truly have an authentic Boyos’ Cajun Cookout we would need some iconic seafood and lots of spice.

 

I was tasked with acquiring the crab. I found a suitable very large crab at Winco, but it was already cooked. I asked the lady if we would still be able to deep fry it, but she said the way for one to serve it would be simply heating it via steaming.

IMG_20161125_130833203.jpg

 

So I got back to the house with the crab and was joined by Will, Jake, Kimmy, Kyle, Nick, and Jimmy. Kyle had brought two bottles of fancy champagne and Nick brought some Fireball whiskey. We all went out into the back where I had the honor of shaking up and spraying the first bottle of champagne all over the group. After the first bottle was gone we poured the second bottle and each drank a glass.

Snapchat-7359808513748699010.jpg

 

I broke out some tortilla chips and a bowl of queso blanco dip. When I brought it into the room for the group to try, Kyle asked “is that pancake batter?” From then on we always referred to the dip as pancake batter and convinced people to try it under the guise that it really was pancake batter.

 

I brought out the crab and showed everyone just how big it was. I explained how it had to be heated via steaming, but no one was sure exactly how to do that. My dad suggested using the method he uses to steam his vegetables: put it in a container with a thin layer of water, cover it with plastic, and microwave it for 15 minutes.

 

Snapchat-8416735397822617839.jpg

It worked well in heating up the crab, but it also caused much of the crab juices to spill out into the container. The next problem was figuring out just how to eat the crab. We were able to use a nutcracker to crack open the legs and claws fairly well despite our inexperience. I personally managed to get Kimmy, (who was somewhat reluctant), to try some.

 

The real challenge was figuring out how to get into the torso and which pieces of it were actually edible. After much struggling, we used a hammer and just wailed on it, caving the shell into the torso and spilling juices everywhere. Everyone was very interested in the inner workings of the crab, which, along with the bits of shell pieces now strewn over the torso, caused the crab to quickly change from meal to science project. We each took turns probing and prodding the various organs and pieces of the crab with great curiosity. Somehow in the mix both Kyle and Will ended up each eating one of the crab’s eyeballs, followed by Kyle chugging the entirety of the now lukewarm crab-juice water on the bottom of the container. It was truly a sight of intense crab-gore.

 

We broke out a pack of spicy chocolate coins that I had gotten earlier from Trader Joes. Each coin had a pattern or pictures of peppers printed on it. The box came with a key to tell how each coin was flavored and how spicy it was, but we decided to disregard the key and choose randomly, like an intense game of Russian Roulette.

 

 

The first round of spicy chocolate roulette had some interesting results. Kimmy and I each got a coin with a green colored pepper on it, which ended up being the spiciest flavor. Nick was already into spicy chocolate, so he decided to try the habanero flavor. He was surprised when it was not too spicy, so we convinced him to try the kind that we tried (jalapeno). He agreed that it was unintuitively a lot spicier than the habanero flavor.

Snapchat-8143036938952958261.jpg

Some time during the night we decided to pick up some more snacks over at CVS. We headed over there as a mob and caused quite a commotion walking through the streets at night. Kimmy got a pack of straws with mustaches on them, and Nick got a case of Dr Pepper.

Screenshot_2016-11-26-00-05-57.png

 

The rest of the night we spent staying up playing Call of Duty Zombies and taking shots of Nick’s Fireball.

 

The next day, me, Jake, Kimmy, and Gavin decided to go visit Conor’s house. We got there while Conor was preparing for a D&D game with Will, Steven, and Santos. We decided to make a fire in Conor’s outdoor firepit in his backyard.

 

Me and Gav were tasked with going out to find some firewood. I remembered a place in the orchard near my house that usually has firewood, so we headed there. We got there while it was lightly raining, and in the mud we found a huge pile of uncut branches. We stuffed as much as we could in Gavin’s car and headed back.

 

Once we got there we were able to rearrange Conor’s patio furniture into a nice setup around the fire pit. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the fire to actually catch, no matter how hard we tried.

 

I suggested we try a round of Cards Against Humanity, a game we had previously played at Conor’s house to great success. Unfortunately, the game belonged to Brady, who took it with him while he was off at college. Kimmy came up with a solution: she had been planning to get a gift for her parents, so she would buy them the game, but we would play it before then. So we headed to Target, picked up the game, and brought it back to Conor’s house.

 

After playing a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity, we left Conor’s to go crash a Gav’s. On the way we picked up some of the extra snacks that were still left at my place, because that night was our last night to finish them up before I left the next day for San Jose.

 

We had two large hipster flatbreads full of ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce, some cheesecake, some dynamite chicken bites, and two salads, one Italian and one Caesar. We decided to mix the two salads in a big bowl, which we called “everything salad.” Even after having a big feast, there was still a lot left, so I packed it up to take to San Jose the next morning.

Snapchat-1740181516194868320.jpg

 

The whole weekend was pretty much a constant string of parties and feasts. The Boyos Cajun Cookout, and the crab we dissected that night will go down as legend.

 

 

Darkness on Success and Failure, and the Responsibilities of a Society

These are a few subjects that I’d been thinking about conceptually for a few months now, and the current environment leads me to believe that now’s a good time to finally put them into words.

First I want to address the question “Is is possible to do everything completely right and still fail?” I would say “yes.” Some people might present the opposing idea, that if one failed, then they obviously did not make the right choices.

Say you appear in a situation that’s removed from all variables other than the ones described. The situation is that you are in a long line of people, in a sort of game. The game is that the person in the very front of the line chooses between two boxes, box 1 and box 2. There is a prize in one of the boxes. If they choose the box with the prize in it, then they win and get the prize. Then the game is re-set up for the next person in line to play.

Each person can see the choice and result of the people in front of them. Let’s say that there were a near infinite number of people in front of you, and you could remember the choice and result of each of them. About half of the people chose box 1 and half chose box 2.

You saw that of all the people who chose box 1, 99% of them won. Of the people who chose box 2, 99% of them lost. There was no repeating pattern about when the prize would be in one box or the other.

So based on this knowledge, you chose box 1, and it so happens that the prize was in box 2. Did you make the right choice or the wrong choice? Based on all the knowledge, experience, and ability of yourself, you chose the path with the greatest likelihood of success, but another path was actually the successful one. I believe that in this case right and wrong can exist simultaneously. Box 1 was the wrong choice, but it was the right choice to make.

So as the next step of this thought process: must it be possible for one to still fail in life when making all the right decisions to make? Is it situation or personal responsibility that leads people to where they are? To even begin, one first has to know what success and failure even mean in terms of life. From a biological standpoint, success means a life is able to replicate and pass on its genes. To the religious, a successful life may be one that was lived worthily enough for salvation; to the dutiful, it may mean a life that was lived fulfilling one’s duty to family or country; to the peaceful, it may mean a life that was lived happily; to the altruistic, it may mean a life that made life better for others; to the materialistic, it would mean a live of high wealth and standard of living.

The easiest definition, in my opinion, to examine is the materialistic view. So next one must think, “can a person, making all the right choices, still in any possible way end up impoverished or homeless?” To add to this, what obligations does society have to that individual, and what are their obligations to society in return?

In the ideal form of society, the one that we’re striving towards, the one that people imagine when they think of a just and fair society, is one in which a person, equipped with nothing other than hard work and honest attempts, will be successful no matter what. That is to say, if a person tries their best to achieve success, then there should be no way for that person to end up in poverty.

Here’s where a concept I’ve termed “person X” comes in. When designing the functionality and laws of a society, one should design that society with a hypothetical “person X” in the forefront of their mind.

Who is person X? Simple: person X is a person, such that for every privilege and opportunity that exists for at most 100%-1 members of the society, that privilege cannot exist for person X.

To put it in simpler terms, person X is a combination of every member of the society’s least favorable attributes combined. If Y% of a society starts their adult life with a hand-me-down car from their parents or better, if Y < 100 then you cannot assume that person X has the use of a car. Even if Y is 99.99999, person X must take the attribute of the worst-off member of the society.

When a random member A of a society compares itself with a random member B of that same society, there are usually a few overlaps and a few differences. Maybe A’s uncle owns a car dealership and gets A their first job. Perhaps B’s friend from church had a connection for an interview at some place of employment that they could provide. Maybe A was lucky enough to find a place to live with really cheap rent. Maybe B does not have that luxury. Maybe a different person C has parents that will pay their cell phone bill, something that neither A nor B has. Then perhaps there exists a person D with very high academic marks, lots of awards, and lots of extra-curricular activities to add to their resume, something that neither persons A, B, nor C can speak to. For every advantage that is not shared by 100% of the society, one must assume that X does not have it.

Even if it is near-impossible for person X to exist in reality, as long as it is physically possible for X to exist, we as the society have an obligation to assume that it does, and to strive to create and mold the society into one in which X, if they give their best effort, has a 100% guarantee of achieving a successful life.

Person X will look different in each society. In the US they wouldn’t have much. Is there any piece of property that can be said with absolute certainty that 100% of the people that exist within the US own? A toothbrush? Shoes? Food? I think there exists at least 1 person that is without each of these, so I have to assume that person X has none of them.

Neither can I assume person X has any connections, professional or personal, that can help them with money or finding employment. I can’t assume that person X can live with parents even one day after it is legally required.

Education level is slightly harder for me to figure. I must assume that person X did everything to try their very best to be successful, and public education is provided to every citizen, so in theory it may be permissible to assume person X has at least a high school diploma. On the other hand, I must also assume that person X has no extraordinary skills. It is also possible that a person who is born into the worst-case scenario will have a personal situation which, even despite the person’s best honest efforts, would not allow them to fully participate in the public school system or graduate.

As far as location, I must assume the crime rate is that of the US city with the highest crime. I must assume the cost of living is that of the US city with the highest cost of living.

So with all of these variables, a mental picture can start to be formed. Person X just turned 18, and has lost access to their parent’s resources. They have no possessions, no job, no car, no home, no connections, possibly a high school diploma, and no particularly extraordinary skills.

If we tell this person “your adult life starts now, go!” will they have, assuming they give their best effort, a 100% chance of living a decent life?

If my honest answer is “no,” then by default I must conclude that the society is imperfect, and as a member of that society it becomes my duty to attempt to improve it. The society, which person X did not get to choose to be born into, is not fulfilling its obligation toward its members relative to what it obligates them to it. The difference between 100% and the actual percent of the successful life chance that the society gives to person X is the amount of crime or abandoned people that the society willingly creates for itself.

“Maximum Voltage!” – 7 August 2016

Last Sunday one of the main Boyos Gabin came down to San Jose to visit me. He had recently gotten a job a about a half hour away, which would allow us to hang out more often.

First we decided to grab some lunch. I listed off a few places nearby and Gab liked the idea of Johnny Rockets, so we went there. We had some burgers and caught up on old times, then we went exploring downtown.

Gav noted just how big the buildings were, a contrast to where he lived. One building that caught his eye was the Museum of Technology, so we went inside to have a look around.

First, Gavin strolled behind this roped-off area while this employee was right next to it. The person tells him he can’t be back there and he fakes that he was interested and asks some questions.

So we walked further in and arrived at a balcony area overlooking the main part of the museum. “I wonder how you get down there…” Gavin said.

We eventually found around a corner a short hallway with a staircase leading down. Gavin took a few steps toward it and stopped. I assumed it was because he saw an employee behind a podium who appeared to be taking tickets to enter.

Gav paused for a few seconds, looking forward, then he looked to the side and went through this sliding door into a completely dark room that wasn’t in use. I was caught completely off guard by this. The ticket-taker was only about five meters away and looking directly at us, so I expected at any moment for him to say “hey you can’t go in there,” but he never did.

I hesitated for a few seconds, then followed after Gavin. Again, I assumed, if the ticket-taker hadn’t seen Gavin, then surely he would have seen me, so I braced for the awkward scene of someone behind me telling me that no one was allowed in, but it didn’t happen.

The room was pretty large, it looked like an auditorium or panel room. There were about ten rows of eight or so chairs, and a stage at the front. Near the back were a few rectangular tables. The only light coming in was from the open doors on the side we entered and the back.

I noticed Gavin skulking around near the back so I slowly made my way through the dark room and followed him. On the same side that we had entered from, right next to the back corner, Gavin slid open a second door, and some light poured in.

It was all happening so fast and my nervousness was at a peak, so I couldn’t tell how far down the room we had walked, meaning that exiting in the direction that we entered meant that we could walk out right in front of the ticket-taker, on his side, or behind him.

I saw Gavin stroll out the door so there was nothing left for me to do but follow him. Directly in front of the door was the staircase we had seen earlier; between the two ran the perpendicular hallway guarded by the ticket-taker. The few steps out the door, into the bright light, and on to the staircase took only seconds, but felt like a year.

The whole time a million things were running through my mind. “Is the ticket-taker looking this way? Are there other employees around here that could see me? Did someone hear that metal sliding door open? Should I keep looking forward or scan my sides? Who are the people I’m crossing paths with? Is this staircase the way to the museum floor or are we going to wind up somewhere else we shouldn’t be?”

The overhead lights felt like spotlights, tracking my movement. The whole time I stared directly ahead toward Gav, without focusing on anything in particular and trying to use my peripheral vision to the best of my ability. My stomach felt like it had condensed into a rock. I didn’t even remember to keep breathing. I was able to barely catch vague glimpses of people walking from my right to my left. I made out from the side of my vision varying sizes and colors to them, so I concluded that they must be regular museum-goers.

When my foot touched the downward staircase I let out a sigh of relief and jokingly said “I was not ready for that.”

With that we traveled downward and made it on to the museum floor. We messed with a lot of the hands-on gadgets that they had set up. There were experiments where one could learn lock picking, test out the efficiency of wind-turbine designs, create music using blocks on a circular table, and recreate famous earthquakes on a platform that shook.

At one of these experiment stations, there were pieces where one could assemble a custom array of mirrors in an attempt to redirect light to sensors, generating power. There was a couple next to us and this lady was explaining in great depth to this gentleman just how to create the most optimal design. Gavin took a few pieces and haphazardly threw them together, while repeating a phrase he overheard from the conversation next to us: “maximum voltage!”

After having had our fill of the museum, we were hanging around near the exit on the third floor when we saw a family exit a large theater-like room. I think that the theater and the museum required different tickets to experience, as they shared a common exit but were separated from each other by a waist-high swinging door and a straight black belt stanchion pair.

“Can we come in?” They asked us from the other side of the barriers. I don’t know if they thought we worked there or perhaps thought that we were also from the theater.

Without even hesitating, Gavin confidently and immediately replied “Yeah.” He moved one of the stanchions aside and the family filed in through the swinging waist-high door.

“Wow this place has really bad security, someone could just walk right in,” mused Gavin.

“This way would have probably been a lot easier than the way we took,” I remarked with a smirk.

We passed through the barrier to the exit side, but decided to check out the theater before leaving. It was massive inside, and appeared to have a somewhat dome-like screen. The place was empty, save for a few people cleaning up. Gavin took out his phone to get a picture of the screen, but within three seconds a lady cleaning the place told us “you guys can’t be here unless you have tickets.” Gavin feigned curious ignorance and we left.

We decided to stop by the frozen-yogurt shop and get a treat. Inside, we immediately noticed two very attractive young ladies at a center table. Gavin stood about a meter away from them looking the other direction for about 10 seconds, then turned around and asked them “What flavor would you two recommend?”

“The mango, definitely the mango,” one of the ladies replied.

“Oh which one’s that?”

“The third from the left.”

“That one?” he asked pointing.

“Yeah that one.”

“Alright I’ll check it out.”

We got some yogurt cups and started making our yogurt. Gavin, faithful to his word, got the mango flavor. I was a little skeptical and went for some flavors that were tried and tested, cake batter, chocolate gelato, banana, and pop sickle.

As soon as we got our toppings and paid, we noticed the ladies from before get up and leave. We went over and sat at the table they were at.

“Wow, those ladies left really fast,” Gavin noted.

“Yup, the ladies around here tend to be a bit meaner than the ones back home,” I replied.

We continued eating our froyo for a few minutes and I asked Gavin “what type did you get?”

“Mango, what about you?”

“Cake batter.”

“I should have gotten that, that sounds so much better.”

“Those girls probably told you the worst flavor on purpose.”

“They probably did!”

Gavin leaned back in his chair and looked out the window. “Damn, these girls around here really are bangin’,” he said, “I’m starting to feel like Nick!”