Where I don't care what others think

Identical Errors

January 18th, 2014 Posted in Life | No Comments »

I am guilty of making the same mistakes everyone else has.  My attempts at being ‘better’ or not dragged down into the run of the mill state that the majority of us live in seem to have failed, at best I’ve managed to do it slightly better than others.  I think I find the most fault in myself, though I have trouble identifying a specific action or course of actions to blame.  Its always the gradual failures that creep up on you.

When you’re failing or going down spectacularly that’s easy to spot.  The flight attendants are shouting brace and everyone is buckled in tightly with their heads as close to their knees as their slightly larger stomachs permit.  When you creep towards it, maybe taking one step forward and two steps Back, you don’t notice nearly as quickly that your slowly moving further and further away from progress.  Spectacular failure provides great opportunity and motivation for success and reactive counter measures.  Smaller incremental errors aren’t particularly motivating, more likely to produce a simple “let’s not let that happen again, eh” than any actionable plan.

I don’t think failure itself is what worries me, it’s the fact that others become comfortable with this state.  An error state can turn into a building block others can come to rely on or assume is actually your desired state.  Furthernore, errors beget errors; breaking a pattern habituated by others around harder than breaking it alone.

What worries me most is that the status quo stays defined as this suboptimal but functional place.  It works, and isn’t half bad compared to the alternatives, but its far from the end goal.  That famous poet guy had miles to go before he slept, I wonder if he ever got there or ended up falling asleep on the trail.

Good night moon.

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August 24th, 2013 Posted in Stupid People | No Comments »

Little good comes when I stew in misery and despair.  I try very hard to remain as optimistic as possible, having some hope that the collective set of “things” will work out in good time.  As of late I’ve found myself falling off the less travelled path, presenting less optimism than I should and, more worrying, doing less to try and make what sometimes appears to be blind faith a reality.

I’m hesitant to conclude that this is because of any singular factor in my life.  Many things have changed over the past few weeks, months, and years but I can’t find a defining moment, or really any moments that stand out for that matter.  I think a younger person (I know, look who’s talking), it’s much more socially acceptable to deviate from the norm.  People call it “growing up” where you’re allowed, and in many cases expected, to do things that society doesn’t quite accept in order to learn new thing and gain new experiences.  My limited impression has been that as time goes on those things become less OK and, in turn, require more effort to do.

As an example, after graduating college and getting my own apartment I now have a proper kitchen that I’m suppose to stock with foodstuffs, cooking supplies, and other edible items.  I’m not interested in cooking most evenings, but I’m also not interested in sitting down for a large dinner at a restaurant.  By-the-slice pizza places accommodate this quite nicely,   but there’s no where I could go to grab a slice or two of chicken breast without having to cook a substantially larger portion.  Nevermind sandwiches, whose ingredients are sold in quantities that really should belong in the bulk food stores.  To me, a standard loaf of bread is really a family sized loaf that would last me until it’s moldy all over.  Some nights I would like to use 2 slices to make a sandwich but to accommodate that I need to have a whole loaf standing by plus the ingredients to put on the slices.

Grocery stores and big box stores are another waste of time that I’ve found play a bigger part in my post-collegial life.  There is no legitimate reason for me to stand in line to buy soda and paper towels, both of which I’d much rather order online and have delivered in a few hours without the hassle.  I understand there are services that exist to do this for me, but they exist with a fee orders of magnitude higher than the cost of fuel to the store.

Professionally I find people have very standard definitions of the work day.  There’s this shared expectation that you first need to go to some office location, you need to show up with 2 hours of 9AM and leave within 5 hours of 5PM.  You’re not suppose to show up to this location on weekends, holidays, or evenings unless something is wrong.  Personally, I prefer not joining in the commute traffic as much as possible and are happy to stay at the work location on evenings.  I’d probably show up on weekends if it wasn’t so taboo just to get out of the apartment a bit and perhaps cross paths with people (though that’s unlikely).

I think back to my college days and often come to the conclusion I was more productive then than I am now.  I didn’t have to stock my refrigerator fully since I could eat on campus daily.  When I did have to shop, I could do it at midnight without having to worry about being up early the next day to get in the office.  There was also, at least amongst the people I frequently crossed paths with, a general expectation of working approximately all the time.  Not working was really the exception, not the norm.

If I had to guess, I’d say that people work the hours they do either because they have better things to do in the off time (raising a family is probably on that list) or that they don’t feel compensated for working off hours.  I make a point of not thinking about compensation much at all, but I suspect the same philosophy isn’t shared by most people because society places a large interest in the amount of financial resources you have.  Does that mean I’m clearly rolling in the dough because of my place of employment?  Hardly.  I just don’t see an entirely logical correlation between work performed and dollars earned so I treat that as two separate issues.

It is really popular for people at work to say (or perhaps guess) what it was like in Ye Olde Days.  My guess is that things were a lot closer to the college experience I’m familiar with.  As people got older many adapted to what society suggested: stopping work at dinner time to raise a family, not coming to the office on weekends, establishing a separate social circle where you could go out and escape the mess of work.  The effects of those changes mean that if I’m hungry for dinner at 5:15PM I’m out of luck, my emails on the weekend will often go unread, and social activities are heavily planned and infrequent.

My attempts to restore an environment I’m interested in haven’t had much success, perhaps because everyone else is comfortable in the lives their accustom to.

Good night moon.

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A Look at the Movies

April 22nd, 2013 Posted in Life | No Comments »

Most movies make me very frustrated.  Don’t confuse this with not enjoying them, I frequent the movies as often as possible.  I’ve found it’s one of the few activities where I can “relax” pretty easily.  When at the movies I am forced to not check email for an extended period of time and my mind can’t easily wander back to it’s usual pathways, it’s a nice reprieve from my regularly scheduled life.

What frustrates me about the movies is the disconnect they present between the stores they tell and reality (be it past, present, or future).  I’m not so much irked by the fact that they present a disconnect, but more based on the fact that I fear at no point in my life will I have the opportunity to remotely come close to experiencing what they present.  Alright, I could probably model my life such that I’d have the equivalent of a background role in a film like Superbad, but focusing on any serious movie that potential drops to near zero.  Take Oblivion, a film I saw this weekend.  Two of the primary characters in the film live in a clear house in some picturesque location above the clouds.  I would like to live in a glass house, I’m willing to give up the large (also clear) pool and lofty location but these two compromises don’t make it any more likely to happen.  I’d even settle for the simple things, like a clear door that slides open when I touch it or windows that don’t have fake panes or unsightly rails / sashes around them.

Yes, I know this movie is set in the future and things are always super in the future, but who’s doing anything to make future a reality?  I suspect most people, myself included, are just sitting down and consuming these movies than carrying on with our fairly uninspiring lives.  Lately I’ve been “reflecting” back on the folks I graduated high school with (reflecting may be a nicer way of saying researching vigorously) seeing what people are up to.  In time I’ll probably execute the same queries against my college class, though I know far fewer of them.

Most of the top 15% of my high school class seems to have done a good job settling into a fairly stable life path with little hope of having an objectively substantial impact on any large environment.  I don’t doubt these people have the potential, if they aren’t already, to become top performers in their fields or personal lives, but the vast majority of these fields have existed for decades and will, in all likelihood, continue to do so rather unchanged into the future as well.  Teachers seem like a good example of this.  I’m not sure if they just complain a lot more or have more time to use social media, but I feel I hear from a sizable majority of up-and-coming teachers.  I think it’s great that you’re feeling called to work with the youth of the world to make them smarter or something like that, but do you really feel the model of doing so in a classroom of 20-40 students that’s used 9/12 moths of the year is really the way to do that at scale? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything ghastly wrong with the current model, there’s just substantial room for the kind of improvement best classified as a paradigm shift and not something sponsored by the PTA as an after school activity.

I get frustrated when I review my life thus far and conclude that I’ve not done enough to make tomorrow happen.  It’s really easy to sit back with a kids pack of popcorn and enjoy the movie, letting yourself be entertained for a few hours instead of doing something hard to make that entertainment more like a reality.

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