The World

Lessons Learned

by on Aug.08, 2010, under family, philosophy

They say (whoever ‘they’ are) that you learn something new every day.  I’ve learned a few things today.  To name just a few, I learned that I’m going to be an uncle once more over, that I am apparently boycotting Target, and that even though I know very little about the new Showtime series, “The Big C”, I have no intention whatsoever to ever watch it.

In many ways my life is currently about development.  For one, I am currently one of the lucky members of a company-sponsored leadership training program at work.  Myself and 11 others were selected from over 50 people who applied for the program, and we collectively meet for 2 hours a week to learn how to be better leaders.  There is also a project component to the program (there has to be some sort of measurable benefit, right?).  Some seem to be of the opinion that the project is more important than the training to the powers that be, but while I doubt that is necessarily true, even if it is it seems that the project is an important one and what better way to enforce the lessons at hand than practical application.

Additionally, I’m learning how to manage my kids more effectively.  When every suggestion/request/command that I issue is greeted by my daughter with inquisition and and by my son with either ignorance, abject compliance, or abject defiance, it is difficult to avoid yelling from time to time.  But I’ve noticed that yelling often begets yelling and can rapidly deteriorate even with the best of efforts to steer back.  So I’m making an effort to avoid yelling at all (it is a true test of stamina sometimes, believe me).  Now I just have to groom them not to yell back … I’ve got time.

Also with my kids, I’m learning to be careful what lessons I pass on.  I was explaining how picking flowers is traumatic to the plants and in doing so anthropomorphizing the parts of the plant to better impress upon her the pieces of it and how the interact (e.g., the roots are the plants mouth, the leaves its arms) – while she got the message that the plants had little chance of survival given her incomplete extrication, in the end I get a shrug and the statement “but I love the way their butts feel on my face.”

To elaborate on some of the learnings of the day, firstly my sister-in-law seems to be expecting her second child.  We are all routing for a girl (other than Cricket, the rest seem to be boys on my in-laws’ side).  Target apparently stepped in it with the homosexual community by contributing $150,000 to the right-wing political action committee, Minnesota Forward, who then used the funds to promote Tom Emmer in the Minnesota governor’s race, who happens to support banning gay marriage.  Being generally anti-right-wing-wingnut and of the stance that everyone should have the right to be happy in whatever shape or form suits them so long as no one is getting hurt (non-consensually), I think this is a big step in the wrong direction and is disappointing coming from Target.  I won’t likely be picketing, but I do tend to shop there semi-frequently due to my dislike of Walmart.  But I’m sure I can find somewhere else to purchase my random household items until they dig their way out of this one.  Finally, the last item is related to work and is frankly the main reason that I’m up and on my computer at this hour on a Sunday night/Monday morning.  I will likely be sleeping in a bit and going into the office late to cover for these late hours (they’ll live).

My final lesson learned for today is that is likely smarter once all is said and done and obstacles are cleared to going about ones preferred business (in my case, going to bed), spending a half an hour delaying that by writing an arguably cheeky blog post about nothing in particular is not the wisest course of action (especially since the motivations behind writing said post are mostly vague feelings of guilt and spite).  And I know that in such a state, I’m not likely to go back and proofread it either to make sure I didn’t make any important mistakes or make an ass of myself (not that I often avoid those things anyway – it keeps things interesting), so this post could be doubly dubious.  But I’m nearly done, so I may as well let it be what it is.  After all, you live and you learn.

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The Man Who Knew Too Little

by on Jul.18, 2010, under About Me, philosophy

I’m not getting any younger, and I hope that I’m still trending in the direction of smarter.  In less than 24 hours I’m going to be entering the latter half of my 30’s.  As my dad would put things, today if you rounded my age to the nearest decade, I’d be 30 – tomorrow it would be 40.  While oversimplifying things, it is hard to argue with the logic of it.

In truth, I hardly feel like I’m about to be 35.  But perhaps my mind just likes to let me feel that way.   Most of the signs of my age are things I can live with (I’ll take graying hair over balding) or tolerate (ibuprofen helps at times).  Some are comparative – while I don’t feel like I’ve matured more than a little in the last decade, but if I was anything like some of the 25-year-olds I know 10 years ago, then I’ve come a longer way than I’ve noticed.  I guess that a lot of it is perception.  But so far there are no costs to my age that I can complain about.

Kids help.  While on one hand they certainly can be challenging a lot of the time, the biggest challenge they offer is to your own perceptions of the world and what matters in it.  Before I had kids, even in my 20’s I found myself making efforts to define myself as an individual – both to myself and to others.  Now I know who I am and don’t feel a need to prove it to anyone.  My responsibilities are clear and my resolve is steadfast.  Plus they can make life so much fun.  They have personalities that are so big and bright that I can’t help but be drawn into them like the best show to watch is happening right in my house.

All that said, as I reflect on my time thus far in life I feel the need to question my progress.  Have I done all that I should have done by this point?  Do I know all that I should know?  It is the kind of introspect that leads to no good answers and often just to no good – the kind that leads to mid-life crises (and I can’t really afford a new sports car right now).

But again, perspective helps allay my mind.  I’ve never been one to give in to peer pressure or be all that comparative to or covetous of my neighbors.  And so I can soldier on in the knowledge that I know what I know and I’ve done what I did.  The only thing I can do is keep making the most of my time.  And at the moment I think the best use of such time might be for some sleep and prepare to tackle another opportunity for life experiences in the morning.  If I have any of note, I’ll be sure to let you all know.  In the least, perhaps you might learn from my mistakes.

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My Digital Revolution

by on Jul.14, 2010, under books, technology

As I’ve stated more than once recently, I am now the proud owner of a Nook by Barnes & Noble (great thanks to my parents for the early birthday gift). If you are a regular reader of my blog, you likely know that I have been on a fairly consistent reading kick lately. After wrestling with a few instances of trouble finding a book I intended to read, It only seemed reasonable to consider going digital. And at the current price it is hard to argue against it (though technically in this case my price was free, if I didn’t get it gifted I would likely have bought it myself anyway).

I’ve just finished my first ebook on the Nook and I have to say that I really enjoyed reading as such. There are a number of features I haven’t even fully played with that I intend to explore in the future (such as loading some music on it and playing some tunes while I read). I have a colleague who is all psyched to try out the LendMe feature with me as well as take a lunch to B&N to enjoy some of the perks that come with being a Nook owner (e.g., access to free titles in the store, discounts on food and drinks at the café).  I have also experimented with the text highlighting and annotation features.  I will say that the touch keypad takes a little getting used to for text typing (as is typical to any new handheld device I’ve experienced), but I’m sure I’ll adjust – otherwise I’ve been very happy with the device.  The screen is easy to read, the battery has a long life-span, and navigation is simple and intuitive.

I opted to skip the 3G version as I don’t see a need for constant online access when I only will likely be downloading books as I need them and I have access to WiFi both at work and home.  Though the difficulty of getting onto my work network consistently has made me question this choice at times.  But arguably there are more pressing matters I should be attending to at work anyway (supposedly).  I’ve tested the beta browser on the device and it is sufficient, though a bit slow.  But truly I don’t anticipate spending a lot of time web browsing on the device (though if it were faster and the keyboard easier to use, perhaps I would be able to post my book reviews directly from it).

All in all I am fairly happy with the device and I’m enjoying my reading experiences on it.  If anyone else has one (or gets one) and has books they would like to lend or borrow, feel free to let me know.  So far my library is one 2 books deep, but I’m sure it will expand quickly.

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Travelogue – Vacation Update

by on Jul.04, 2010, under books, technology

Just to be clear, I don’t intend to do daily updates of my vacation events – that would be semi-contrary to enjoying my vacation. Yesterday was an eventful day in leisure. We started by heading to a local swimming hole (a lake nearby that had several swimming beaches) where we enjoyed several hours of swimming, playing in the sand, and picnicking. Then we attempted to go hiking, but due to heat and navigation issues, we gave up after about ten minutes and headed to the mall to watch Toy Story 3 in 3-D. Finally we stopped by Barnes & Noble for an early birthday present – a Nook.

The swimming was fun and went as would have been expected. Cricket spent as long as possible in the water. Grasshopper spent as little time as possible in the water. Gumba (their grandfather) spent the majority of the swimming time fabricating various tall tales for my daughter to consider. Grammy spent little time in the water and mostly sat either in the shade or on the beach playing with my son. The water was as warm as bath water which made the hardest part of the day getting out of the water – despite the air temperature being in the mid-80’s, leaving the water was a chilling affair. Then we enjoyed some sandwiches and chips while we dried off before changing and heading out to eventually arrive at the movies.

Toy Story 3 was much better than I had anticipated. As usual, it tackled the same types of issues typically addressed in this series – themes of loyalty, pride, betrayal, love, and friendship in the face of adversity all masked behind the role of a toy and its relationship to its owner. In this film the struggle came in the form of Andy growing up and going to college, both he and his toys coming to grips with change and learning when to hold onto the past and when to let go of it. I don’t typically find myself emotionally moved by movies (well, except in the forms of excitement or frustration), but this movie moved me to such levels of empathetic joy that I almost started to feel choked up (almost). Of course constantly keeping my son from swinging from the seat or running down the aisle helped keep me grounded.

So finally, the Nook. As is probably obvious by how many books I’ve been reviewing here (and there are several that I read and opted not to review), I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. So I’d been considering going digital with my hobby for a while now. And to my fortune, my parents had also observed my reading affinity and opted to help me achieve my digital goal. Yesterday they sprung for my Nook as well as a nice travel case for it. By the end of the day I’d already setup my account, bought my first ebook, and went to bed having gotten to chapter 7. Now the only outstanding issue is figuring out what other books to download.

There were other events that occurred after the Nook purchase, but they generally blurred together as I was somewhat distracted. Though among those events was my children camping out in Grammy and Gumba’s yard for the night (my wife volunteered to spend the night with them). It seemed to go well – no middle of the night fallout – but they did troop in early this morning at which point they became my problem so that my wife could get a couple hours of rest in a soft, dry bed. So I put on some cartoons, grabbed my Nook, and settled on the couch for a low-key morning (or at least as low-key a morning as is possible with a 3 and 6 year-old).

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by on Jun.30, 2010, under Internet

I want to apologize to the small band of followers that I have about making posting and signing up for my blog a tad more complex.  I’ve added a plugin for a captcha box.  While this adds a level of inconvenience to these processes, I hope it is a small and acceptable one.  I’ve added it to mitigate the flood of spam comments and user registrations that I seem to get on a daily basis.  We shall see how effective it is in deterring such things.  As it stood, I was receiving dozens of spam comments as well as dozens of fake site registrations daily.  And it is fully possible that I’ve accidentally deleted valid comments that were marked as spam by just hitting the Empty Spam button (I try to scan through them first).  So I’m sorry for the inconvenience … though only a little bit.

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