Saturday, November 15, 2003  


I was talking with a friend of mine a few days ago. The conversation turned to the subject of karma. I'm not especially religious but I do consider myself spiritual, so I tend to believe there is something to this karma thing.

For those who don't know what karma is, I'll boil it down to what I think it means. Karma is the belief that your actions leads to consequences. The nature of the consequences depends on the type of the actions. Good actions will lead to good consequences and bad actions will lead to bad consequences.

Some people view karma like a bank account. If you do more good deeds than bad, then you shall be rewarded for you actions. I'm not sure if I view that way, because it seems too business-like, but I certainly like the part about being rewarded for good deeds.

I like the concept of karma because it essentially means you'll be rewarded for living a "good and honest" life. Yeah, I know Christianity has the concept of heaven and hell, but karma just seems more simplistic in its understanding. There's no other baggage to worry about.

When I was twelve-years old, I had an epiphany, well, as much of an epiphany as you can have when you're in grade seven. I realized that my grade seven class represented a model or simulation of society. Out of the 30 or so students in my class, I saw the elements of people that made up a society. You had the bully who had anger management problems. You had the people that only sought popularity. You had the people that were geniuses. You had the people that were quiet and reserved. The list went on.

These people would grow up to be fully-involved members of society, and whatever strengths and weaknesses they had now, they would take with them into adulthood. How many of my classmates would turn into assholes in adulthood? How many of them would turn into negative people? Dishonest people? Mean people? People without scruples?

I didn't have an answer back then, but I knew it wouldn't be all of them. Where did I fit in to all of this? What type of person would I represent in society? What I did know was that I'd better start acting like the person I wanted to be when I was an adult, not later, but now. That didn't mean I decided to act all mature and stuff. I knew I was still a kid and stuff.

What I did decide was that having a good moral compass was a good thing. That being good, rather than bad was important. I knew that if I only had one chance at living this life, I'd do it right. I'd do my best to be a good guy in society.

Of course some people don't need to decide these things. Some people automatically are this way. To be honest, I acted the same way before and after the day I made this decision. Perhaps decision is the wrong word for it. I "realized" why it was important for me to live my life that way.

Years later, I still hold onto those same beliefs. And over the years, I've been labelled a "nice guy". Over the years, I like to think I've injected some good karma into the world. I like to think that when people interact with me, I've been a positive in their life rather than a negative.

Recently, though, I'm beginning to question this karma thing. Despite the way I've lived my life and the good moral center I think I have, I'm increasingly seeing people get rewarded in life for things that seem to come to them randomly. These rewards that I talk about preclude any hard work of course. My friend Sarah just got her Ph.D and she deserves it. Those type of things have nothing to do with karma.

What I'm talking about is random windfalls that seem to come out of nowhere. These people receive an embarassment of riches when it comes to life. Success that seems to come randomly without any effort on their part (or hardly any effort). I have no idea what these people's karma is like, maybe they have a lot of good karma. Who knows? What I do know is that they can't have lived their lives much differently than mine. Did they rescue an orphanage that I didn't know about? Why do they deserve all of this?

It appears to me that despite the way I've lived my life, I have yet to see this good karma come back to me. My friend calls it "cashing in". It's a terrible way to state it, but it makes my point.

I am going through this life in a neutral state, neither receiving good nor bad windfalls. I am somewhat dismayed by this.

To attempt to explain it, I have come up with a few theories.

First, karma is supposed to span lifetimes, if you believe in re-incarnation. I maybe making up for some horrible things in another lifetime. This is why I don't get the breaks that some other people do. "Cashing in" will have to come in another life, if at all.

Second, I have a immense amount of good karma, and the "cashing in" will come later in this life, it's just still building up. The payoff will be large. I'll get the job I want or I'll marry the woman of my dreams.

Third, karma does not exist. No matter how good I live my life, it isn't worth a damn. There is no payoff. I can rob a bank and the next day when I'm buying a new DVD player, I'll meet this beautiful woman outside the store. I can decide not to let an old lady have a seat on the bus and I'll win the lottery the next week.

At the end of this conversation with my friend, I became disillusioned. Maybe I should stop caring, stop living life the way I have. It would be easier not to care, not to be good, to be aloof.

I thought about it for a minute and decided I can't change who I am. The way I live my life defines me. What else would I do? Be an asshole?

In the end, I accept (though I may not like it) that I can do a million good deeds and live a good life and I won't receive any of that good karma back. I can't live my life any other way.

I'm wondering how others view karma, or if you believe in it all. How do you deal with the injustices of life?


posted by Erwin | 12:11 AM

Friday, November 14, 2003  


No one I know is up right now, so I'll say this here. I'm going out to B-Lot to get a new parking for my car. If you don't hear from me, please come find me... and oh, bring food.


posted by Erwin | 1:15 AM


Popular humour web site The Onion had an article this week about some dude's Mom finding out about his blog.

That is something I've feared for a long, long time. To be honest, I don't post anything that is wild because, well, I don't lead a very wild life anyways. That doesn't preclude, however, a few posts that I'd probably wouldn't want my Mom to read. Like that time I got really drunk in New Orleans or when I nearly sliced my thumb off in the first month of school.

Actually, for a while I thought my Mom was reading my blog, but then when I cut my thumb, I knew she didn't. I didn't tell my parents about my medical escapade, but I did write about it on my blog. They didn't call me at all. Then my sister read my blog and she called my parents and said, "Erwin nearly lost him thumb!". Only then did they phone me.

Blogger has kindly posted what to do if you fear your Mom finding your blog. I'll probably keep on truckin' like always.


posted by Erwin | 12:53 AM

Wednesday, November 12, 2003  


Every night around 1am I have to go B-Lot to buy a new parking ticket so I don't get towed the next day.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of Patrick's company on the way to and back from B-Lot. As we were walking back to SJC, we cut through S-Lot which is a small parking lot near the kitchen entrance of the College.

I noticed that one of the cars in the lot had its driver side door wide open. The interior light was not on, so I couldn't see inside. The car was about 40 feet away from us, so that made it even harder to discern what was going on in there.

I got Patrick's attention. We stopped and looked at it from afar. Patrick turned to me.

"What do you think is going on?"

"I dunno. I think maybe the driver is in there?"

It didn't make sense though. What would anyone be doing there with the interior lights off and door wide open?

We watched for several more seconds. There was no discernable motion coming from inside.

"Erwin, want to check it out?"

"Without back-up? I think we needed to be armed. Let's go back to my room. I'm going to get my tennis racquet. I have a hockey stick, you can bring that."

Both of us ran back to my room with the excitement only 20-something year-old guys can have when facing a potentially dangerous situation. I grabbed my racquet and handed my stick to Patrick.

"Do you have something heavier? This is light."

"Dude, it's aluminum, it'll do."

I also grabbed my Mag-Lite so we could see inside the car.

We hurriedly made our way back down the hall. We saw a resident in the hallway who must have known we were up to something. It's a rare sight to see two guys with a hockey stick and a tennis racquet at 1am in the morning.

Outside, we arrived at the same spot we were about two minutes ago and stopped. I was wondering how we should approach the car. Having seen a million movies and TV shows where cops approach an unknown car, I thought I'd have a plan for sure.

We finally decided we'd go in nice and slow, but not at a snail's pace. I held my racquet in a position that I must admit wasn't the most the defensive, but it sure looked cool. I had it up against my shoulder like it was rifle. In hindsight, that was really dumb. It did allow me, however, to hold the Mag-Lite along the handle and shine it in a steady fashion.

I took the lead with Patrick about four or five feet behind me. Quietly as we could we came in from an angle (the car was facing away from us). Using a brisk crouch-walk, we got about 15 feet away from the car and I began to sweep around to get a better look into the driver side.

It was empty. I moved around further to see that the front of the car was empty too. The back seat was a still mystery though. The only way to find out was to get real close. We slowly inched our way to the back seat windows. I nervously pointed my flashlight into back... nothing. It was all clear.

I let my guard down a bit and tried the trunk. Locked.

"Erwin, it's a rental. Look."

There was a Budget sticker on the rear bumper. I checked the front. There was an S-Lot pass. This car wasn't abandoned. Someone had bought a pass for it. Maybe it was a loaner or something.

I examined the contents of the car. There was a Club anti-theft device on the floor, a map, and a box of Frisk mints. The interior was very clean. It didn't look like it had been rummaged through. Weird. What the hell was this?

The only thing I could think of was that the owner had forgot to lock the door, someone came by, opened the door, looked around, found nothing, and just left the door open.

What do to now though? I asked Patrick for his opinion.

"I think we should just leave it."

"No way. We can't do that."

"What if you leave prints on it?"

"You think I'm going to get fingered for murder?"

I looked inside again. I saw the tell-tale flashing of a red LED on the dashboard. It was probably anti-theft.

"The anti-theft is on."

"If you close the door, you might set off the alarm."

"I'll just ease it shut."

I gently swung the door closed and then gave it a final push to lock the mechanism in place. No alarm went off.

There was nothing left to do. We walked back to the College. Patrick suggested I send a mail out to the College distribution list just in case that car was rented by someone at SJC. He also said I should add some "pizazz" to my description of what we did. I told him I'd probably tone it down.

Well, at least for five minutes tonight, I had some excitement in my life.


posted by Erwin | 2:19 AM

Tuesday, November 11, 2003  


It is definitely nice having a car on campus.


posted by Erwin | 3:32 AM

Monday, November 10, 2003  


It just dawned on me that I've done essentially no work since Thursday night. My whole weekend was a non-productive mess. I went home to my parents' place to pick up some supplies and wound up doing nothing but lying around. I was supposed to do use the weekend to work on a database project. My project partner and I agreed to work on separate parts of the project. We're meeting on Monday to discuss what we've done.

It was my belief that my part would only take an hour or so. Stupidly, I left that hour to the last part of the weekend. I've just examined what is required for me to finish my part of the project and there are several things that I'm not sure how to do. I could probably figure it all out, but that would necessitate me staying up all night to do, and that just wouldn't be a good idea.

At the very least, I can come armed with some really good questions tomorrow when I speak to my partner. I hope he can answer all my queries (no pun intended).

Meanwhile, my readings for my AI class just snuck up on me and I'm about a chapter behind now. I also have to mark two huge assignments for my tutorial class.

It will be a very challenging week for me.


posted by Erwin | 3:16 AM
Erwin Tang's Profile
Erwin Tang's Facebook Profile
Create Your Badge