Popeye’s Maxim

by on Dec.26, 2009, under family, philosophy

Sometimes, we just are who we are.  Popeye was never apologetic on this point.  We can struggle against it, but our strengths and our flaws together define us as individuals.  Tonight I learned even more than I should embrace this fact and just be me.

This evening we were at a dinner party with my in-laws and, as is not uncommon at such events, various topics of conversation swirled around the table.  The subjects ranged from what defines moonshine to the finer points on making a successful risotto.  Among the non sequitur  topics my sister-in-law brought up a story involving a song – Dream Weaver – which naturally rolled into a conversation about who sung it.  Unfortunately no one at the table actually knew, but several hazarded off-based guesses.  My natural inclination was to whip out my iPhone and Google it, but I resisted being ‘that guy’.  As the conversation wound down and slowly morphed on, I had noted that it would simple enough to find the information online.  My wife responds with “Don’t you have your iPhone right in your pocket?”  So in the end I conceded and was ‘that guy – I AM ‘that guy’.  There is little point in trying to evade it.

Unfortunately my sister-in-law seems to live in one of those clear areas so frequently seen in Verizon’s advertisements as of late on AT&T’s 3G coverage.  So the information remained tenuous (it was Gary Wright, by the way – I’m also that guy who will keep things like that in his head to look into at a more opportune time).  But my reputation as a trivia nut precedes me.  I guess I should expect as much – I’ve never hid it well (who do you think ended up spewing information on what defined moonshine when it came up).

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Unexpected Morals

by on Nov.05, 2009, under About Me, philosophy, TV

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” I, however, have found that in some instances I have gleaned some life lessons from the actions of others (even when it seems that the others haven’t). Here are some examples:

  • For as long as can remember, my father has quested to top himself each year with his Christmas gifts for my mother – always looking to get her some new gadget or equipment that she would have never realized she always wanted. Sometimes he has succeeded, but often the hype in his head is greater than the real reaction. He has also always had a trend of uniquely labeling his gifts to her (e.g., From: XY/To: XX). To these, my mother has always had a positive reaction (even when they were bordering on inappropriate).
    Moral: Sometimes the giving is more important than the gift.
  • Both my father and my sister have always been very ‘tell it like it is’ types of people … but in slightly different ways. My dad in such that he does not sugar-coat much of anything (except perhaps in his business – he IS a salesman after all). My sister in such that should tends to be very curtly honest to the extent that she doesn’t always know what she shouldn’t likely be straight with people about. On more than one occasion this combination led to someone being offended by something that my dad probably shouldn’t have said around my sister and that my sister definitely shouldn’t have relayed on to the subject matter.
    Moral: Whenever opening your mouth, beware of feet.
  • Growing up, I saw my father primarily on the weekends. When my wife and I first were seriously dating, I ended up moving in with her and her family for a year – I didn’t see her father for the first 3 months I was there. With my dad, I know how he felt about the situation because when he was home he tried to make up for the time he wasn’t. Now I’ve got 2 kids of my own and I find myself working long hours on occasion when I’d rather be at home with them.
    Moral: If you don’t understand work-life balance, don’t expect your kids to get it either.

I can’t claim to have it all worked out – I don’t even always get these things right a lot of the time. But the foundation is there leading my intentions (and hopefully leading my actions more often than not).

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Where Do Bad Folks Go When They Die?…

by on Sep.02, 2009, under health, philosophy

I don’t plan to die (at least if I can help it).  Don’t get me wrong – I know that odds are strongly in favor of me eventually kicking the bucket.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Plus I think science may someday have my back on this one.  This may seem an odd assertion and indeed an odd topic, but it is an issue that came up recently in a conversation of hypotheticals that apparently left my wife wondering at my sanity.

So there was this quiz.  And in this quiz, one of the questions was if you had the choice, how would you die and why.  Giving the matter some thought, I decided that if all other things being equal – my death being unavoidable but having complete control over how it would happen – it might be interesting to indulge my own sense of curiosity in the process.  Sure there are lots of quick and painless ways to die and truly I would be happiest not having to suffer when my time comes, but I felt to choose something so mundane was a disservice to the question at hand.  Thus, I answered that I’d prefer to be beheaded so that I could personally find an answer to the mystery of how long one could remain conscious and cognizant after such an event.  Okay, I’ll admit that it sounds pretty crazy.  But I’m a curious person – I am interested in the mysteries of the universe.

Anyway, death is a strange and touchy subject.  Everyone has their own ideas about what death means and when death is appropriate.  Personally I’ve decided that I’m not a fan of the death penalty but I am a fan of euthanasia.  I figure that if an upstanding citizen is suffering and death is inevitable yet slightly out of reach, a little help is not too much to ask.  But killing a serial rapist is not justice – the punishment doesn’t nearly fit the crime (though some time in the right prisons on the wrong rung of that social ladder might be fitting punishment).  Is that too “an eye for an eye”?  Maybe.

Perhaps it is my beliefs that have me such at odds with common views of death (taking heaven and hell out of the picture certainly can lead to that).  In general I think that we place too much importance on death (or more pointedly on life) – whether our lives have a deeper meaning or not, they are gifts to be cherished or squandered as we each choose.  None of us will every truly get it perfectly right.  I say live and let live or die, make the most of the time we have, and don’t waste our time worrying so much about whose unprovable ideas are most right.  We will all get proven right or wrong in the end … well except me – I’m not planning to die.  There is too much of the world to experience to fit it in a century or less.

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Verbal Abuse (and Nounal)

by on Aug.27, 2009, under philosophy

A colleague of mine has been using his whiteboard to catalog a number of improperly formed turns of phases.  Several are common mistakes (e.g., moot/mute, tack/tact), but others are legitimate faux pas’s (can you pluralize that?).  Here are five of my favorites:

  1. Hedge Case:  This one I have to admit is my own (edge case being the valid phrase referring to scenarios that would happen very infrequently).  In my defense, I think it makes sense on its own – such rare happenstances make up the periphery of the majority (much like a hedge around the yard).  Maybe not.
  2. Defiantly:  Granted this is a real word and has its place … but not as a substitute for the word definitely.  My suspicion is that the co-worker who often uses this in his emails has been getting screwed by his own spell checker.  I think he is likely typing definately which Outlook decidedly thinks is more similar to the topical misnomer than the intended adverb.
  3. Gambit:  Working in a development department, testing is inevitable.  But not matter how many times it comes up, ‘I’ll run it through the whole gamut of test cases’ is never what seems to come out of people’s mouths.
  4. Raft/Rash of Shit:  To be honest, I don’t even know which of these is right – I’ve heard it both ways and I’ve attempted to research it to declare a clear winner, but to know avail.  I cannot find a reliable source and either argument is an equally supportable.
  5. For All Intensive Purposes:  This also is a phrase that I know I’ve used but have since learned otherwise (in case you were not aware, it should be ‘for all intents and purposes’).  But it is hard not to say it the wrong way – it rolls off the tongue more easily and few people fault you for the error.

Feel free to share your favorite misuses of words or phrases.  And for additional fun, check out this old FedEx commercial (this topic always reminds me of this):

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Can I Get a Witness?

by on Aug.13, 2009, under philosophy, video games

The other night at 9:00pm, a pair of Mormons show up on my doorstep.  I had difficulty arguing the lateness since I was in the middle of playing Lego Batman with my daughter, though I managed to slip out of any lengthy conversation by stating that I was about to get the kids to bed (something I legitimately should have been doing).  A part of me secretly imagined what might ensue if a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses had happened upon my porch at the same time.  The following morning during my commute, I imagined myself playing devil’s advocate with them regarding their faith.  But really, who am I to throw stones – they are entitled to their beliefs.  Though I’d like to think that I’m equally entitled to my privacy.  If they return, it will likely be to square off with my better half – after which they won’t be back.  🙂

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