Sunday, July 31, 2011

Drawing A Line In The Sand

  I use movies as an emotional crutch occasionally. A really bad mood can all turn around with a good movie. An average humdrum day can become memorable after seeing an excellent movie. You can be this close to tearing your eyes out, and then you see a hilarious comedy and you forget what you were pissed off at in the first place. But movies can have an effect on you that is not for the better. You watch too many chick flicks and you might start to believe that relationships work like that in real life. You see too many action movies, you're liable to accidentally karate chop your boss one day while doing a demonstration. You sit through too many suspense or horror movies, every noise in the night, every innocent sound around you, will turn into something sinister. This isn't a guaranteed consequence, but it can happen, and does. It just depends on how much you suspend your disbelief when you watch films, and how long it takes you to un-suspend it after the movie's over.
    I will leave the lights on when I go to bed after I see a movie that really scared me. I will seriously contemplate taking up kung fu or jujitsu after seeing a great action movie, though I give up on the idea after a few days. And I will believe in fairy tale romance after a real tear-jerking girlie movie.
    It's a just a movie, we remember, after the effects wear off. Stuff like that doesn't really happen. But the dreamer in us tries to convince us otherwise. Wouldn't life be great if that could happen? Wouldn't things be easier if I knew how to do this? Wouldn't the world be a better place if things worked that way? We are seduced by the possibilities that what if puts forth. To the point that we think we probably could do the things they do in the movies, without wires, and we probably could be attacked by aliens sometime this week, and the guy will remember your anniversary and play that song from the John Hughes movie you loved when you were a teenager.
    But just because we'd like to believe that stuff like that actually can happen doesn't mean we should. We can draw that line between fantasy that movies create, and reality that prevents those things from really happening. We just have to remember that gravity does exist, demons do not, and while true love may exist, the perfect partner does not. Everyone has their flaws and if you love them, you will love them in spite of those flaws.
As enjoyable as it is to lose yourself in a fantasy for a couple hours at a movie, when the movie's over, we have to remember to unplug our brains and come back to reality. Failure to do so can cause serious problems. Usually interpersonal problems rather than psychological or physical, but serious nonetheless.
    People skills succeed or fail based on our ability to evaluate, communicate and understand the people around us. If our expectations of others are unrealistic, whether we think they're a Russian spy or Prince Charming, our ability to live in the world as we know it will fail because we have failed to accurately and effectively evaluate and communicate with the people we interact with on a daily basis.
Back to reality.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Idiots, Unite

  Do you ever have those days where you feel like a total idiot? You've built something up so much in your mind and all of a sudden everything comes crashing down. It seemed like everything would go according to plan, but it didn't. You thought things were one way, but it turns out they were another way all along.
    Isn't it funny how one sentence, a few words strung together can change your whole day? Things were fine. Things were going along pretty well, actually, but one bonehead sentence, one idiotic thing, can make everything different. Your mood can change. Your concentration breaks. You feel like everything is suddenly upside down, and everyone is going along like normal, but you've got a huge rock weighing down in your stomach.
    Every time you recall what was said or what was done, you cringe and shake your head. How could something like that have happened? Shouldn't I be smarter than that? Should I apologize? What would I say? This happens tome on a daily basis. I constantly say something I shouldn't have said. And I always remember it later and wonder why in hell I would have said or done something like that. It's ridiculous.
    But regrets are a waste of time. We have to move forward. And maybe try not to say something quite as stupid the next day. We may fail, we'll probably fail in all likelihood, but 4 hours ago isn't now, and we can't dwell on something that isn't now. No matter how much it hurts, or how stupid it made us feel. There's always going to be someone better than you, smarter than you, faster than you, and more articulate than you, so you may as well get used to the fact that, from time to time, you will make an ass of yourself.
    The best we can do is hope that it happens around people who understand us and who appreciate us, whether we say stupid shit or not. That way, at least they know we probably didn't mean it how it came out, or they know shit happens. People who don't know you somehow always think that shit doesn't just happen. They think everything always goes according to plan, and everything said or done is intentional, but when they're with people they know, they understand that unexpected, unplanned, ridiculous, not-thought-out, stupid stuff comes out of people's mouths. Sometimes it's hurtful; sometimes it's ignorant; sometimes it's out of line, but whatever it is, it should be taken with a grain of salt. We're human. We make mistakes. Sometimes, we make really horrible mistakes. But that doesn't mean we should be treated differently. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Shit happens, and we should accept that as a fact of life, and wait for someone to prove us wrong in the meantime.
Feeling stupid sucks, but it's slightly comforting that everyone else feels stupid sometimes, too.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sappy Love Stories

  I watched an old movie last night. So old it was in black and white (gasp!). Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. I loved it. (Confession time: First time I've seen this one. Go ahead, gasp again.) Marilyn Monroe is more beautiful than ever, endearing, adorable, and of course, blond. Her character is similar to the one she played in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And the storyline is not an original one--girl falls for the guy who's exactly the type of guy she's trying to stay away from. The only twist is that the guy--Tony Curtis, along with his friend in the film, Jack Lemmon--is a male musician dressed as a woman to escape the mob. Of course, Marilyn doesn't know this through the majority of the movie. But even though he tells her he's everything she's hates, she's already fallen for him.
    I enjoy comedies, and sometimes the old comedies are even better. They've got a wit that most new movies can't match. It's like getting back to real people and remembering what real humor is all about. But this movie isn't just a comedy. It's a romance. Marilyn Monroe, even as a tipsy gold-digger type character, can't help but be funny, sweet, and sexy so that you love her even though her morality may be lacking. And even though Tony Curtis is not a very Nice Guy, love conquers all, as it always does in the movies. Especially the old movies.
    I think one of the best parts in the movies is the scene where Marilyn sings "I want to be loved by you". She's got on this dress, this unbelievably see-through, low-cut, wouldn't-think-you-could-get-away-with-it-in-1959 dress, and she's got her whispery, sultry voice singing the words to this (hopelessly) romantic tune.      Watching old movies always turns me into a sap. But I think there's a reason we still love them even if they seem just as wildly unrealistic as a sci-fi movie or an action movie where everything blows up for no apparent reason--people like to be saps every now and again. It makes the world seem like not such an awful place anymore. And after a long day, or a long week, a cold beer just won't cut it. We need hope to restore our faith in humanity, in people, and in the ability of the human heart to love, despite all the crazy circumstances.
Goodnight, honey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A (Lady) Bug's Life

  Standing in line at Qdoba for lunch, the four of us (my coworkers and I) noticed a ladybug crawling along the cracks in the tile, moving with the line. Apparently, it was a "fake" ladybug, something I didn't even know existed. Apparently, it was a ladybug imposter that looks just like a ladybug only darker. They eat the fruit or the vegetable, while true ladybugs eat the other bugs (aphids) that eat the fruit or vegetable. It occurred to me how evolutionarily advantageous this was. (I actually articulated this, and didn't stumble over the word "evolutionarily".) We watched for a painstaking, horrifying 5 minutes as the ladybug imposter inched closer and closer to the front of the line.
    There was a man at the counter who was shifting his weight and moving his feet around. We avoided the little bugger, but as the bug got closer to the counter (and past his place in line, I might add), it became alarmingly clear that he was probably going to get stepped on, and what's more, it would be the weight-shifting yakker ahead of us who would unknowingly do the deed. And sure enough, ladybug imposter gets closer, closer, and then, weight-shifter shifts again and... SMUSH.
    We had a brief psychological/philosophical discussion about the bug still being alive after getting stepped on, the size of its brain, and whether it was able to feel pain. My inclination was no. The bug may not have died on impact, but what little brains it has surely can't register pain anymore, I thought. Its head is probably the most vulnerable part, and would have probably been crushed more than its back when stepped on. Any life left in it would be reflexes, not neurological commands. I didn't want to get into it, and as we were at the place in line where we could order finally, I didn't have to.
    But, how did the little ladybug imposter get inside the Qdoba? Did he walk, as we saw him doing? Did he fly through the door as it opened? Or did he land on some unsuspecting burrito lover who carried him in? How did he reach his eventual demise? We'll never know, but that's why there are people like me. To imagine a plot in which a ladybug imposter finds himself on the floor at Qdoba.
Ladybug imposter? Bah, humbug.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Are Nice People Too Nice?

  Nice people make excellent doormats. Nice people let mean people get away with stuff they shouldn't. Nice people are too nice to trample other people's toes, or call you out on a mistake in front of other people, if they do it at all. I think the majority of people fall somewhere in between the truly nice people and the truly mean people. We don't take advantage of other people too often and we will put our foot (feet?) down when the occasion calls for it. But nice people just want to help everyone. They want to make everyone feel good. They want everything to end happily. Some people might call this kind of idealism and optimism weak or stupid, but I don't think it's either of those. Nice people are nice because they can't be any other way. But, herein we have the rub: how do we differentiate between truly nice people and phony nice people?
    The phony nice people are hard to spot. They put on such a good face for so much of their lives that they almost convince themselves they are nice. But the difference is that the phonies have ulterior motives. They aren't nice for niceness's sake--they're nice because they want the promotion or they want you to scratch their back someday when the karma comes around, or some other less than entirely altruistic reason. These people can sometimes be even worse than mean people because they may be manipulating you without you even knowing it.
    The real nice people, we know who they are, will do everything because they want to. Because they care. They'll always offer you a soda if they're getting one for themselves. They'll always hold the door. They always say "Gesundheit" or "bless you" when you sneeze. They worry for your soul escaping from your body when you have an allergy cold and can't stop sneezing. That's true compassion. They may get put down and laughed at, taken advantage of and overwhelmed, but they will keep doing what they're doing because they can't imagine saying no or making a misstep in their manners and overall kind and generous demeanor.
We also have the people who hate themselves for being so nice. They wish they could be mean. They wish they could exhibit some level of dominance and say no once in a while. These people worry too much about what others think. They know people think they're too yielding. They know people call them a doormat. But they can't help being nice. If you are a truly nice person, you should accept it, embrace it, and learn that most people appreciate someone who cares more than someone who can assert some authority.
    But are the nice people too nice? I can't stand morning people. Morning people are usually nice people. They're too cheerful at an hour that seems impossible to me to be cheerful during. Nice people tend to make me feel bad that I'm not that nice. But I don't care about the same things. I want to get along with people and I want people to like and appreciate me, but I'm not going to say "bless you" when you sneeze because that's one of those mannerisms or superstitions I never bought into. It's a sneeze, a few moments in your chest and out your nose and mouth. It's not your soul trying to escape. (The origin of saying bless you is because people used to--or still do, apparently--think your soul would escape when you sneezed if someone didn't bless you.) Sante or salud might make more sense--to your health, because yes, you're sick, that's why you're sneezing. But I digress, as usual.
    Even if morning people make me cringe a little bit sometimes, I'd still rather be around people that are too nice, genuinely or not, than people who suck. Clearly, I'm a little over-tired, and I probably rambled on a bit about something that mean not mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but self-deprecation is not an attractive quality either, so I'll knock it off. Being nice is good karma, whether you believe in karma or not, and it's always preferable to being an asshole.
Just be yourself. Odds are, someone will like you in spite of it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Women Want and Whether They Should

  Women have an extremely broad range of desires. This has been exploited in television, film, and by comedians for years. Women love chocolate. Women want to change the men they're dating/married to. Women want the perfect guy (who doesn't exist). Women prefer romance to sex, etc, etc. But today, I'm not here to talk about relationships and the power struggle that often (or perhaps only stereotypically often) occurs within them. Today, we're going to cover feminism. DON'T PANIC. I'm not going to take sides or pull a "girls rule, guys drool" argument on you. I'm going to examine what I see as today's version of feminism, and what that means for society. I've settled on a touchy subject for today, so I hope nobody takes this the wrong way.
    Today's version of feminism seems to be more about dominance and overpowering men rather than equality with men. When I hear women talk about doing things that are new, never been done, or different, they don't talk about what a huge step this is for womankind. They talk about how they are better than men, can do a better job at something than men can do, have qualities no man has. And in some cases, strictly on a case by case basis mind you, they're right. But something should be noticed here. The case that some women make is no longer "I can do anything a man can do;" now, the argument is: "I can anything a man can do, only better." When did the mentality shift from equality to domination? Fair treatment to bypassing? Female empowerment to overpowering men?
    This concerns me. Whenever one group has more power than another, it never turns out well. The powerful group never rules with equanimity and justice, but eventually becomes drunk with power and ego, and is determined to stay in power. This leads to the sublimation, or worse, of the group who has less power, and we all know how that ends (Slavery, discrimination, genocide, I think you get the picture).
    Desiring equality, the possibility granted to do the same things as men, if she should so choose, is fair. It's a reasonable request, and even a reasonable expectation. But it becomes a cause for concern when it becomes more than equality, when the desired result is a matriarchal system instead of a democracy, no matter where it's implemented--in the household, the workplace, the community, the government, or elsewhere.
    We should strive for a society that prefers equal opportunity and fairness over always wanting to be the best at something. It's nice to be the best. You get awards and pay raises and compliments for being better at something than someone else. But sometimes, it's more productive when there's collaboration. Sometimes it's more beneficial for everyone when we work together, rather than working to outsmart and one-up each other.
    I may have drifted into politics and business a little more than intended here, but my point is the same regardless. For any group that desires dominance rather than fairness: there's no I in team, and, sticking with the topic, without men, we'd just be wo. So, and this is directed at men and women alike, get what's coming to you, what you've earned, but not at the expense or demise of someone else.
Other people: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Highlights of a Pretty Decent Day

New Blink 182. Hells yeah.
Sounds totally unlike most of the mainstream (i.e. played on the radio) songs I've heard from them. I dig it. Check it on YouTube (audio only). I hope this link works, apparently it's unlisted in YouTube, but I found it directly through Blink's website:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkoCkva-rBc&feature=player_embedded#at=13

Google+ Yes Please. 
I'm loving it. I'm still figuring my way around it, but what I've seen so far is pretty sweet. (It's not connected to this Gmail account though, so you won't find me that way.) If you're in, check out Sparks and uploading videos. Awesome.

Not Paying for Lunch. Cha-ching!
So I just ate yesterday's leftovers and I didn't heat them up because it had guacamole and warm guac is feels like eating baby vomit. Saving 6 or 7 bucks on lunch is still cool.

No More Spinning. My Eyes Aren't Crossed Yet!
If you don't know what spinning is in terms of a computer program that helps you manipulate text/content, I'm not explaining it. If you do, you know how much I rock when I say I hit 80% uniqueness this morning. I will have to go back to it tomorrow or Monday, but not doing it today was a much needed brain and eyestrain break.

A Friend Has a Birthday Today. A Very Merry Un-birthday To Me, Then. 
I won't name names because I'm still technically anonymous here, but birthdays are always good days, even sometimes for the people whose birthday it isn't. Like me :)

    I know I kinda cheated using big font to make this post longer, but I don't have a whole lot of detail to give today, just some brilliant highlights. Seriously though, if you're not on Google+ and you like using social media like Facebook, bug someone (everyone) you know to get an invite. Google+ is already way ahead of Facebook in my book and I've had it for two days.
You say tuh-may-toe and I say tuh-mah-toe. Wait, no I don't!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grow Up! Or Keep What Childishness Is Left...

  That's directed at me, not you. Speaking profanity loudly while strangers are in the next room at your office is generally frowned upon. Technically we got away with it (I did not act alone this time), but it's not "professional". While we do work with some less than "family friendly" sites where I work, and profanity is a veritable part of working with those sites, censoring or at least talking a little more quietly, is probably something I should do being in the position I'm in.
    However, I suck at censoring when I'm around people I usually don't have to censor myself with, i.e. boys. Swearing like a sailor is something I've done for a really long time because I spend so much time around guys who swear like sailors. I will censor around children--no problems with that whatsoever. But around adults, it seems silly to me. If you have delicate sensibilities, you're probably in the wrong place, hanging out with the wrong crowd. I swear, and while I probably overdo it a lot of the time (and occasionally in inappropriate places and/or at inappropriate times), I think they're just expressive words, however vulgar some people deem them to be.
    There are a lot of words I don't like but I don't get upset when people say them (e.g. Michelle Bachman, tuna salad, bacon-wrapped anything, anything related to bowel movements, etc.). These are all things some people talk about that I really don't care for, but I'm not going to throw a fit and demand people omit stuff they think is important just because I would rather talk about something else. I'll just see if I can change the subject to something less disgusting, or if all else fails, I'll go talk to someone else.
    We're human beings. We're not perfect. I certainly am not. And when in Rome, I will probably do as the Romans do, unless it involves dangerous or illegal acts or substances. So, around a bunch of testosterone-laden dudes all day, I will swear, and the normal social etiquette that I exert in social situations among other types of people--people like my mom, my boss, or my niece--will stay in the background, and the dirty-mouthed 15-year-old kid I still am on occasion resurfaces. Unfortunately, Orbit gum does not literally remove profane vocabulary from your mouth. Only some bacteria. Unlike the commercials. I've tried it.
    So, I'm not really sure how to evaluate what happened. Profanity in the workplace is unprofessional, but, due to the profanity-involving work-related topic that was being discussed, it seems that maybe there's no need to apologize. On the other hand, maybe this is what you get for putting a 15-year-old in the body of a 23-year-old in a slightly higher responsibility level job. Maturity and professionalism are not something I can really put on for 9 hours a day. Eventually, my silly, uncensored, inappropriate sense of humor and mindset pops back out and makes an ass out of me. Opinions welcome. But no, I will not share any further details about this incident.
I don't think saying 'bullshit' is any less expressive 
than saying something phony like 'Charmed, I'm sure'.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

7 Circles of Hell on the Road

  I haven't left the house today, but I thought today would be a good time to go over some driving etiquette. I did try to outline these in order of importance, or rather, in order of absolute worst to really bad but not as bad as the previous one, but they're pretty much all terrible. They all are just as frustrating as all the others.
    Horrible Driver Type #1: Subaru drivers. Now, if you have a Subaru, I hope none of the following applies to you. If it does, stop doing some of this and maybe you'll set a good example for the others. Also, it's possible this rule only applies to drivers in Colorado or drivers here from California. In any case, Subaru drivers in my experience are the worst drivers for the following reasons. Subaru drivers almost never use their turn signals. They have a nasty habit of cutting people off, especially on highways. They drive way over the speed limit. And while these things are all dangerous and discourteous things to do in a car, worst of all, they ignore weather conditions entirely. All Wheel Drive does not make you invincible. If it's raining or snowing or icy, your car can just as easily go into a ditch or off the side of a mountain if you're not driving safely based on the road conditions.
    Horrible Driver Type #2: People who don't use turn signals. I don't care what you're doing, if you're supposed to use a turn signal, use it! Even if you're in a turn-only lane, and especially if you're in a lane that can go straight or turn, use the turn signal. There is nothing I hate more than someone who doesn't use their turn signal. Changing lanes? Signal first! And NOT while you're already cutting me off! You know what turn signals do? They help the other drivers around you know what you're thinking. Considering we can't hear each other and we're operating heavy machinery, simple mechanisms like the turn signal were invented so that the other drivers can better understand your intentions and act accordingly. You use your turn signal properly and aren't impatient and obnoxious about trying to merge into my lane, I will let you in.
    Horrible Driver Type #3: People who run red lights.This one is particularly upsetting when you're running late for something. And it seems like every time it happens, it's worse than the last time. Instead of one guy running his red light, and by consequence, through your green light, it's two guys, then three, then four! It's one thing for the really huge truck to run the light. He can't always help it if it's a short light. But why is saving your minute sitting at that red turn arrow more important than my ten seconds waiting for you to clear the intersection with my green light? Sure, a minute is longer than ten seconds, but is it really worth the risk of running that red light to possibly cause an accident that's going to delay you an hour, or more? Some people just step on the gas when the light turns green, whether someone's in the intersection or not. Not everyone is paying attention and not everyone is always going to slow down or wait for you to get out of their way. It's not just rude, it's dangerous, and illegal. Maybe nobody hit you today, but maybe the state trooper is waiting on the other side of the intersection to bust you for running the light. Which is more valuable, that 1 minute, or that 75 bucks?
    Horrible Driver Type #4: People who don't go the speed limit. This annoyance is twofold. There are the showoffs who like to drive way over the speed limit--aka pretty much anyone on I-25, and there are the slowpokes who think they need to go 10 to 15 miles under the speed limit. If you go too fast--you get busted, that's your problem, but don't weave in and out of traffic, and don't get bitchy if you get behind someone who isn't going 90. Use your turn signal, don't cut someone else off when you merge into the other lane, and go around them. If you're on a residential or city street and not the highway, don't speed period, but especially not in areas with high pedestrian traffic or school zones. Way uncool. Part two, if you can't see over the wheel, can't reach the pedals, aren't paying attention to the speed limit, are really intoxicated or stoned, or are trying to transport sensitive materials, and you feel this gives you the right to go 35 in a 50 MPH zone, you're wrong. If you need to go that slow, get off the highway. If you're driving while under the influence, you really shouldn't be driving anyway. You go slow, you'll get run over on I-25, but just because you're on a smaller highway doesn't make it ok to go that slow when the speed limit is that much higher. You can get a ticket for going too slow, remember that.
    Horrible Driver Type #5: Cell Phone Users. There's a reason this one is not number 1 on the list. It's because a lot of times, the reason people are doing the things mentioned above is because they're on a cell phone. I'm not going to harp on this one too much because everyone is going to talk on the phone anyway while they're driving because they think they do it safely. If you can use your turn signal, go the speed limit, not cut people off, and obey all the traffic laws, all while using a cell phone, without getting honked at or pulled over, then good for you. I use a headset or make it a very brief call, and I always wait until I'm at a stop light to dial the number. That said, don't text and drive. Just don't. Because of the keyboard thing now, you pretty much have to look at your phone to text, and looking at your phone while driving means you're not looking at the road. Don't kill someone with your car just because you had to LOL at that joke or tell someone you'll be there soon. You'll be there sooner if you don't die.
    Horrible Driver Type #6: People who cut you off. If you don't use your turn signal and you merge into my lane within 3 car lengths or fewer, I consider it cutting me off. And, I'm still going to think you're an asshole for not using your turn signal. I don't experience this one as often, putting it further down the list, but in high traffic and rush hour, this one goes through the roof. People can't stand that everyone else is moving and they're not, so they nose their way into another lane without due procedure. Number 1, USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL if you want to come over. Number 2, don't merge if you don't have room to do it so that the other person has to let you in. That's just a shitty thing to do. Number 3, if you don't have room to merge, but you do need to get over, use your turn signal and watch for someone to wave you over. They might. It happens. If you're nice about it, some people will let you in. On another note, once you've been waved at, wave back so they know you appreciate it.
    Horrible Driver Type #7: People who don't drive with regard for the road conditions. This doesn't happen every day either, but it's worth mentioning. Rain, snow, ice, gravel, grooved pavement, construction--there are plenty of things that can make road conditions more difficult to drive on. All wheel drive is not meant to make you drive like the road conditions are normal. It's meant to help your car regain its stability in unstable road conditions. It's raining cats and dogs? Go slower, AWD or not. Also, having AWD with all-season tires doesn't make that much difference from driving a 2 wheel drive car with snow tires in snow. Know your abilities as a driver, and know your car's abilities so when driving in unsafe road conditions, you can still drive safely.
    I'm aware that most of these were covered in #1, but I thought they all deserved a little more details, for those who do these things and don't drive Subarus. I'm not outlining all these things to complain for complaint's sake. These are not only dangerous things to do while operating a couple thousand pounds of machinery around many others who are doing the same, they are also just mean and inconsiderate. Maybe you never meet or talk to the people in the cars around you as you commute, but that doesn't mean they are not important or that you shouldn't give a shit about them. They are and you should. As fellow human beings, do your fellow drivers a favor and use your damn turn signal. We could all do each other a favor and try to be nicer driving around each other.
   You know what? I forgot to mention the inconsiderate bicyclists and pedestrians, but I guess they're not drivers, technically. In any case, know the rules of the road--bikes are vehicles and have to obey stop signs, stop lights and traffic signals just like cars do. And pedestrians, right of way or not, should be aware that not every driver is paying attention and could run them over if they're not careful. I think that's all. For now.
Life in the fast lane will surely make you lose your mind.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

LONG Day In Denver

  Today I attended (not by choice) a conference for administrative assistants at a Holiday Inn in Denver. It was the nicest Holiday Inn I've ever been in, that's for sure. It was supposed to help me be a better assistant and learn some more tools and skills I can apply to my job. It wasn't a total bust, I'll admit, though I had a less than sunny outlook on the whole thing at first. These workshop things where you're supposed to meet people and do workbook exercises and teambuild is absolutely not helpful to me more often than not because that's not how I learn. Plus, I don't really like the idea of meeting strange people who I'm supposed to befriend for a day and then never see again. (I'm trying something new where I have to say positive stuff if I'm going to say negative stuff. Something about a silver lining or whatever. Bear with me.)
    Again, the conference had its moments. The speaker I sat in with for the majority of the day (there was another one whom I wish I had sat in on her discussions more) was extremely bubbly and chatty. She had some helpful points, but she didn't really give as many examples of how to put those ideas into action. The other speaker had better real-life examples and her analogies made more sense to me--again, making me wish I'd sat in on her discussions (there were 5 from each speaker throughout the day) more than I did. But some of what they said was interesting--learning about how to communicate better with different personality types; how to solve problems in the workplace in a creative way, etc.
    However, it seemed very focused toward the corporate world, which doesn't really apply to me since I work at such a small company, and other times, it seemed focused toward a more traditional office environment, which mine most definitely is not. Technology seemed to get ignored completely, which was yet another downer because, um, that's kind of a big thing where I work--web design company and all. The speaker asked for suggestions or examples of how we communicate in our offices, and I said we use Skype to Instant Message each other, which we do. It's not awesome, but it's quite useful some of the time. The speaker seemed to write it off, saying IMs could get annoying because they flash at you when they come in before you look at them, and that can distract you from whatever other work you're doing. True, but that doesn't mean it's not faster and easier than email for short messages or questions, and much faster and easier than getting up and asking people something (depending on the complexity of the question).
    All in all, I felt like it was a little too old school for me. There were a few younger women there, but most were between about 30 and 60, so there was a lot of stuff about writing stuff down, rather than using some sort of electronic system for organization. I'm like, we don't have files. EVERYTHING is on my computer. The only stuff that is on paper is stuff I've printed out so I don't have to keep tracking down that one email or that one document for a particular current project I'm working on. But those get shredded or tossed pretty quickly--they don't get filed away somewhere, never to be seen again. (Of course, it's a lot easier to bitch about the things I didn't like about it and what I didn't find relevant than to explain what I did like and did find to be relevant, which is why I'm doing it.)
    I learned some good suggestions on how to approach communication with both my bosses and my coworkers, so that was helpful. Also, learned how to approach problems and how to come up with solutions first before going to the boss, if possible. I didn't learn too much about organization because I'm a little too set in my ways on how I keep on my tasks (basically I write them down on paper/sticky note/Outlook calendar in several places, several times, so the repetition gets the task stuck in my brain and much harder to be missed or forgotten) but I did think of something I maybe could implement as far as task management goes at work. I don't know if it'll be useful, as many of our spreadsheets and files tend to get used once and then forgotten about. We have a problem at my job of implementing a system, and then not actually sticking to it and utilizing it fully. It kind of falls to the wayside sooner or later.
    Aside from sitting in a really uncomfortable chair for the better part of 6 hours, which is longer than I sit at my desk at work because I'm constantly getting up and asking questions, getting feedback, checking on my coworkers and their tasks, etc., it wasn't as awful a day as I had imagined. I did remember about three things that need to be done at work, which probably aren't done, and won't be done by the end of tomorrow, but they're all things for other people to do, so maybe I won't take the heat for not getting them done...
    Somewhat off topic, for those non-Coloradans who have no idea what Denver is like, don't drive here. Get someone else to drive you. Getting to the hotel this morning was easy, relatively traffic-free. Getting home was another story, even though we ended about 15 or 20 minutes early. Rush hour starts at like 2pm so you're pretty much screwed no matter what. Then, after two or three weeks of 80-90+ degree weather, got POURED ON the entire way back too. I waited for the storm to clear in Denver and then as soon as I headed out, it was just dumping rain the entire drive back. Hydroplaning was imminent, but I survived this time. (Sidenote: You know you live in Colorado when: you get rained on across the entire drive along the Front Range. But this only happens like once a year so it's manageable in the grand scheme of things.)
   Overall, the conference would have been better if the whole thing had been more focused on one thing like project management or communicating with your bosses and coworkers rather than trying to squeeze it all in over the course of a day. Everything got skimmed over a lot, and there could have been more examples, more in-depth coverage of topics if it had not been so broad.
   One last little complaint: I had to bring my own lunch. WTF. Cold, leftover Chipotle for lunch at an all-day conference where you have to pay $200 to get in kind of sucks.
I guess there's no such thing as a free lunch. Except I had one yesterday. 
So, WTF again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Resume Building Is Hard Work!

  I just updated (but still only 80% complete) my LinkedIn profile to include some more skills, past work experience, and a summary, among other things, and I think I've been at it for two or more hours! I'm not looking for another job at the moment, but as volatile as the internet business is, I think it's better to be on the safe side and be 80% prepared in case anything should happen that would put me out of work.
    Needless to say, I was pretty thorough in the parts of it that I completed. I wrote what I think is a rather clever summary (Translation: it may contain too many attempts at humor and not enough actual job experience/information), and I pretty much copy/pasted my coworker's specialties and inserted a few of my own that fit better with my job description. It's probably a damn good thing I didn't start writing this blog until I was employed or 2010 would have been a hell of a depressing year with me talking about the USA Arcade on USANetwork.com, and how unfortunate it was that nobody would give me a chance. Not many people know what the hell to think of some kid who spent four (though technically I finished in 3.5) years in college studying philosophy, let alone people who actually know what you'd study if you studied philosophy.
    I am incredibly content to be employed, though I don't quite make enough to satisfy any apartment landlords application requirements without a cosigner. I get to do interesting things at work, I work with amazing people, and every now and again I get to write or edit or come up with some creative tweak to some design or plan we're working on. I'm not even going to complain about my job, although I could--I always can find something to complain about.
    But back to the resume thing. I do find it rather entertaining that LinkedIn makes completing your profile like a game, where you have to get 100% or you can't win. I suppose job searching and networking is like a game. You have to say these words, and not those ones, have these skills, and be clever or lucky enough to get to the end of it all unscathed. (I couldn't decide between a card game metaphor or a board game metaphor, so I dodged both.)
    So, with my profile 4/5 complete, I think I'll move on to slightly more interesting endeavors this evening for the remaining hour or so that I get to stay up. Some online movies, or Stephen King? Decisions, decisions.
Decision made: No King before bed--King=nightmares!

Monday, July 4, 2011

5 Reasons Why George Lucas Sucks

  Oh, George Lucas, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. On the one hand, I must congratulate you for putting together the original 3 Star Wars films that I and so many others around the world love so much, but on the other hand, I really wish someone had put a leash on you about fifteen years ago.
    Reason 1: We could have avoided those horrible "prequels" where Yoda is CGI and Samuel L. Jackson is a Jedi. And I don't think I need to get into everything wrong with the decision to cast Hayden Christiansen as Anakin. Seriously. But I could.
    Reason 2: You wouldn't have rereleased the original films in special edition three packs (or four-packs) in which you digitally remastered and added extra scenes, including a brand new CGI Jabba the Hut--scenes that weren't necessary in the first place.
    Reason 3: We wouldn't have an animated version of Attack of the Clones.
    Reason 4: Jar Jar Binks. 
And I'm just getting warmed up. As much as I'd love to give you a free pass on the original Star Wars films, I really wish you'd gotten someone else to write them. (Reason 5) When you can't come up with another way to say: "I've got a bad feeling about this" (count how many times they say this or a strikingly similar term in the original 3 films--go on, I dare you), I think it's time to bring in another creative head.
    I could go on, but I'll leave it at that. The story and the characters in Star Wars are too enjoyable for me to tear the entire empire apart (pun intended). The trilogy has some of the best qualities a good film (or set of films) ought to have, a love story--even a love triangle (however incestuous that one may be--thanks for that one, GL), action, terror, an excellent villain, good triumphing over evil, suspense, and some excellent twists. Darth is Luke's father?? I don't know anyone who saw that one coming.
    So, it's really a love-hate relationship. If we could only get you to stop trying to milk this idea for all it's worth, Mr. Lucas, I think we might actually be able to get along someday. I can watch my DVDs in peace and ignore the CGI scenes interjected into them. (I also hope you have a sense of humor about some constructive criticism.)
Pleeeeease don't deactivate me!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Movie Magic

  Who remembers their first time at the movies? I was very small. So small, in fact, that the theater seemed like it would fit a thousand people. I don't remember exactly which movie I saw the first time at the movie theater, but I do recall one of the first movies I saw at the theater: 101 Dalmatians, the original animated version. Despite my extreme shyness as a child, I was so overwhelmed by the awesome spotted dogs that were outwitting the maniacal Cruella De Vil, that I cried out: "Puppy Power!!" in the middle of the movie, holding up my little stuffed dalmatian that I insisted on carrying with me everywhere at that time.
    My dad only had to tell me once that you're not supposed to yell out in a movie theater, but I'm sure everyone else thought it was pretty funny rather than annoying, so I guess that particular mistake in etiquette was not so bad.
    Throughout the years, I have developed a profound connection and adoration for film. And yes, my admiration extends beyond Disney movies now. I have seen some of the original moving pictures, the ones that are all disjointed and only have music, no dialogue. I've seen the first talkie. I've seen movies in black and white, color, and some movies that tried to combine the two. I've probably seen less than a dozen truly bad movies, because generally, I think most movies have merit in some way, for some people. No movie is for everybody. As much as I'd like to tell everyone in the world they haven't lived until they've seen Casablanca, romance, wartime stories, and even black and white isn't everyone's cup of tea. That's their too bad--because Casablanca is amazing. There are movies that I watch and enjoy the story, but sometimes, I have to marvel at the filmmaking itself. The process. And the magic that movies create as only they can.
    No matter how technologically advanced we become, there is still a thrill in going to the movie theater, sitting down in the squeaky seats, and watching a story play out on a gigantic screen for two hours. You can take my MP3 player, my video games, and my computer, but don't take my DVDs and a TV to watch them on. Even now, after I've been going to movies for about twenty years now, there's still this wonderment and excitement that happens when I go to the movies. I've seen most if not all of the previews already, but when the lights dim and the movie starts, I can shut up, ignore my phone, and lose myself in the film.
    I'm not biased, and I'm not really a movie snob the way some people get to be. I like everything from chick flicks to action movies. I love Die Hard and Jerry Maguire. I am just as big a Star Wars nerd as I am a Wes Anderson fan. And even actors I once disliked usually grow on me after I've seen more of their work. (Ahem, Kevin Bacon, Kim Basinger, and Michael Douglas, to name a few.)
    I can't even say I discriminate the award-worthy movies from the movies that are just there to make you laugh and make money. They all have their value. The former are the last remaining effort to keep filmmaking an art form, and the latter may be fodder for the masses, but they're entertaining, and that's part of what movies should be. Movies don't all have to be educational, or documentaries. They don't all have to be creative works.
"Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh, don't you know everyone loves to laugh?"
That's perfectly fine with me.
    I love the movies so much that I will go by myself if no one else is willing to chuck out the $8.75 to $10.50 (or more) it costs nowadays. I don't mind, because I will admit, I'm a pain in the ass to see a movie with because I'm talking (whispering) the entire time, commenting on this thing that reminds me of that movie or that actor who I saw in this other movie.
    Despite the extreme inflation of the cost of going to a movie, a single person can spend $15 to $20 bucks easily on snacks, drinks, and a single admission, people still go. Every weekend. The parking lot is packed and the auditorium showing the new release is always full. Because people love the movies. Maybe not for the same reasons as I do, but they do. Movies make us think and feel things that we didn't always realize we were thinking or feeling. They aren't always true to life, science fiction tries specifically not to be, but it's not the spaceships or magic spells or happily ever after in the movies that gets us to go: it's the people. They may be better looking, but there's something real about the people in the movies, and that's what keeps us going. If we couldn't relate to them, they would cease to hold our attention.
    It's Saturday night, so go catch a movie if it isn't too late, or stay in and watch one with a bowl of microwave popcorn and a cup of soda. They make us laugh, cry, scream, and gasp, and the best movie is one that does it all.
We'll always have Paris.

+Constant Writer

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