Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nothing new under the sun

A blank page holds a certain level of intimidation it would seem.
There. Now you don't seem so scary, Senor Page. Let us begin.

I'm sitting in a local coffee shop and seem to have situated myself in a somewhat less than ideal spot; I'm within reach of the front door and near a large window facing west. The sun is simply destroying my fair haven't-seen-the-sun-in-three-months skin. And just when I get a good sweat built up, a sweet, innocent customer arrives and opens the door. This brings about a pleasant blast of arctic wind to sweep across my glistening body. These poor customers. The first sight they see upon entering the shop is a sweaty looking guy with a look of absolute confusion on his face.

Right. Well. This is turning out to be a thrilling read, no? On to some meat and potatoes.

While listening to NPR yesterday (yup, an NPR namedrop to boost my apparent level of civility in the readers' eyes), a discussion formed on the protests occurring in Egypt. In attempts to hinder the spread of the resistance, the government has crippled cell phone usage as well as blocked access to certain internet sites. I departed from the interview and began to mull over what would happen should something similar happen in the States.

I hate to say it, but I take the internet for granted. I also find myself horribly addicted to the darned thing as well. I think we've all been there before; you're working on a class paper, work project, or personal endeavor (such as a sweet-ass blog that everyone loves), and you happen to have your browser opened to, say, Facebook. As you toil away at your project, you begin to sense a wicked, insatiable, and rapidly swelling notion rise in the back of your conscious that suggests that you scan across the Facebook tab to see if a (1) has manifested itself next to your name. You realize that this pesky little notion will not help you finish your task-at-hand any faster, so you tell yourself, "Hey, self. Pay no heed to that tab. It's not important. You don't need to check that."
This, as we all know, is a horrible, horrible attempt at lying to yourself. In a last fit of defiance, you decide that you're just not going to look at the screen to erase any risk of inadvertently scanning across the tab and hurting your work proficiency. All reserves of focus are assigned to stare intently at the letter "t" on your keyboard as your laugh at the thought of your silly little subconscious' attempt to control you. Then, an audible popping noise is heard by those around you as you successfully give yourself a brain aneurysm. As the medics haul you into their ambulance you raise a weary hand and draw one in closer.
"What....(cough) What notifica...tion?"
"Wha....oh, uhm, Stacy Herzburger 'liked' the photo of your cat you just added."

Ah, success.
I might have exaggerated a tad, but I think you catch my drift.

A few weeks back, the internet to our house was accidentally cut off. I woke that morning and felt as though I had been transported back in time. Instead of venturing outside to save someone important, hunt dinosaurs, invest in Yahoo, etc., I was just simply reminded of how rusty I was when it came to navigating the world outside. I felt disconnected and a little out of synch. I passed the time by plugging/unplugging the router numerous times and watching the lights blink on and off. Fascinating. My first instinct to call for tech support led to a facepalm of grand proportions: Oh that's simple! I'll just look their number up onli...AW DAMMIT.

It did make me sit back an reflect on some of the clients I work with. A good portion find themselves without internet, consistent phone service, or transportation on a daily basis. THEN, on top of that, throw in electric bills, lack of groceries, medications, and 4 or 5 screaming kids. If this depiction does not describe you, then I wholeheartedly urge you to take a moment and reflect upon your fortunes.

Back to the internet conversation and, hopefully, some semblance of coherency. A co-worker recently explained to a few of us at an early meeting about her quest to disconnect herself from certain things. She would still communicate work-related missives, but she would do so in an extremely limited manner. I'm not sure about her motives, but I would assume that it would be in attempts to bring some sort of balance to her life between work, home, and whatever time in between.

I found myself intrigued. I too find myself looking for ways to simply enjoy what's around me without any outside 'noise.' Don't get me wrong, I love the interaction that is opened up through such avenues as Facebook or Hotmail. Checking those (1)'s of (2)'s next to your page can certainly be stimulating and personally rewarding. And the desire increases exponentially when you're waiting to hear from someone you're looking forward to hearing from. In looking for a relatable way to transfer my thoughts, I happened to catch the sunset out the window (the same window that was recently responsible for helping to roast me).

Bam. There you go. How do even begin to describe that moment of synchronization? I find myself understanding the poets and writers throughout generations a little more that took it upon themselves to perfectly describe the worldly beauty around them. I won't even try. I'll just simply say that it was hot. Believe me. 

It looks like I need to take some of my own advice and disconnect a little bit.

We live in a marvelous world. I hope that as you read this, you're in a comfortable and appreciative place. Have a great week and may this note help leave you in a brighter, more radiant place.


P.S. Oh snap. Someone tagged a photo of me...I'll check it out, THEN sign off. I swear.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And the writers kept writing....

Word has it that forty-nine states have warmly welcomed Old Man Winter and can proudly point to evidence of his arrival within their boundaries. The only holdout, Florida, being the defiant little state that it is, continues to tell off the Old Man by wagging a giant, peninsular middle finger at him. Being so close to having a full set, Winter can't be happy about Florida's resistance.
"You're going to get snow and you'll like it, Florida!"
"You can't tell me what to do. You're not my real dad!"
"It'll just be for a little while. All the other states have it and they're not whining!"
"Gah! I hate you! I'm going over to Cuba's. He understands me!"

Poor, poor Winter. Always just barely missing out on the medal ceremonies in the grand Tournament of Most Loved Seasons. Sure, there are those that love winter and all that it brings. Without winter, Spring would lose a bit of its redeeming and restorative charm. History books would have pictures of snowmen in Terracotta Army-esque rows, hot cocoa sales would plummet, and Santa would make his annual rounds in Hawaiian shirts and Birkenstocks.

Moving on, I can't remember exactly where I ran across this little theory, but I think it was somehow linked to a video I watched on the chemistry of attraction between people. The video dealt with the various explosions that go on inside our skulls when we're around loved ones or people that intrigue us. It made for an interesting evening that would have otherwise been busily spent being alone and wishing that I had an army of cats that I could name after the main characters of Bonanza.

Hoss. HOSS! I saw that! Don't you smack Little Joe, you naughty wittle kitty! That's a bad kitty!

And yes. They would all wear tiny cowboy hats. Always.

At some point in this video, I came across an interview with a gentleman that was explaining his thoughts on a mean (not angry, but average) level of happiness that people seem to orbit. Undoubtedly, people have their up and down days, but ultimately, he proposed, people return to a reoccurring level of happiness. I'm sure there is an official title for this, as well as piles of research for and against it, but I do know that it seemed to have some lasting effect on me. If a person could cognitively be aware of where their level was, and thus make efforts to improve or restrain that said level, could a person's happiness be determinate upon their will? Or can someone really point to the cold, dark days of winter and say with a certainty that it was a lack of interaction with the sun chemically altering their brain and making them incapable of appreciating anything (I'd like to take this time to recognize whoever coined the term Seasonal Affective Disorder. We get it. It's acronym is SAD. Good job, you clever devil, you.).

There certainly is a link here between each side (Disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of today's practice of prescribing pills for everything, especially when there is not direct linkage between the medication and desired outcome).
I don't think someone can simply wake up and say to themselves, "Selves, today, come what may, we're going to be completely happy." Nor do I think that some light therapy, a few spoonfuls of Vitamin D, and some prescription pills mark the path to happiness. There is also no magnificent Do-This-and-You-Will-Be-Eternally-Joyous theory for everyone to follow, despite the people's clamor for such a theory. It's something that one must discover individually.

I do think a possible answer lies somewhere in the social factor needed to keep us human. Interactions with people these days has become somewhat of a rare and special occurrence. A fair number of people are running on their time, which is of course more important than your time, and have little patience for any of life's hiccups. What's this? You left out the cinnamon dust on my latte? My six-year-old son will now be late for yoga. THAT GIVES ME LICENSE TO YELL AT YOU AD NAUSEUM (furthering our lateness?). RAWR.

People are connected 24/7 through their smartphones* and simply cannot wait to see who has last poked them. Sometimes, they also determine that this poke is somewhat more important than, say, driving their car. Then laws are made to keep people from destroying one another, tickets are issued, and cops are labeled as jerks with nothing better to do.

All I'm asking for is that you take time in your day to think of others. Thank your grocer for bagging your groceries. Show patience for others. Leave a thank you note for your mail carrier. Smile and wave (all of your fingers, not just one) at the person that used their blinker when merging. After reading a fun and entertaining blog, give the author a high-five the next time you see them. I know that this has all been preached before, but seriously, in these little interactions there can be a sort of karmic, if not a self-sustaining, reward.

I have enjoyed writing this all down, even despite the fact that it makes me out to be somewhat of a crotchety old man complaining about the good ol' days. I don't mind. Also, get off my porch, you meddling kids. Make note that I have not lost faith in society, not by a long shot, and there are many, many people out there that devote their lives to others and get little thanks or recognition.

For those of you that made it this far, thank you for reading. Again, it was a pleasure to write and I pray that it also was a worthwhile read for others.


"The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi

Tunes, or rather, songs that popped up on Pandora while writing:
"Can't You See" - The Marshall Tucker Band
"Ruby Sees All" - Cake
"Asleep in the Chapel" - Thursday

*heavy sarcasm intended

Thursday, January 6, 2011

\m/ ( o __ o ) \m/

And the Battle Begun” – RX Bandits

First timer here, so please be gentle.

For starters, I hope this note finds you all doing well and enjoying your place in life.

For a few months now, I have wondered what it would be like to join the online legions of people that openly share with the world some of their ideas and passions. From a brief tour of this site, the majority of pages I came across dealt with photography or pet cats 'writing' their own comments about their masters, their diets, or world domination. That's great. Good for them.
However, it did make me paws (HA!) and consider my motives behind wanting to join this online nation. Honestly, what more could I possibly add to the kadrillions of similar conversations already in line clamoring for people’s attentions? It’s mind-blowing when you stop and consider it.

Daedalus” - Thrice

In the end, well, I guess it’s evident which way I swung.
“Reposed” was born.

I now find myself both entertained by the idea of conversing with others in this new medium, while at the same time, feeling a bit overwhelmed. I mean if this thing takes off, there's going to be book deals, movie scripts, fundraisers, squash dates with the President. My, my. The possibilities.
Or, more realistically, I now have an excuse to camp out at local coffee shops, guzzle profuse amounts of sugarcoffee, and appear to be toiling away at something both incredibly scholarly and important. Huzzah to that.
I was looking forward to the squash, though. Sigh. Someday.

I hope to use this site to discuss with others the social oddities I find amusing, recent book reviews, worthwhile new music (or lack thereof), and the occasional sporting event. I highly encourage participation from others and will tweak my rambings accordingly.

"Seven Bridges Road" - The Eagles

Well. It's a start. A rough start, but a start nonetheless. I apologize for this not being very edgy, entertaining, or awe-inspiring. It will get better. I promise.
If all else fails, I do have some pictures of my megalomaniacal cat lying around here somewhere...