Archive for August, 2010

Another Letter For My Unborn Son (Part Two)

August 17, 2010

Actually, it’s “quirks” that I want to talk to you about right now, son, specifically a few of my quirks.  (I don’t pretend the list will be all inclusive though . . . some things you’ll have to figure out for yourself.)

I jokingly considered the idea of talking about some other people’s quirks first, but when I mentioned this to your mother,  I was told to, and I quote, “Leave my quirks alone!”  (Let the record show she was smiling when she said that.)  And just between you and me (so to speak), however amusing I found the conclusion she jumped to, I wasn’t really planning to talk about her quirks at all, because, all joking aside, this isn’t really a private conversation.

Which is as good a place as any to start.

Another Letter For My Unborn Son (Part One)

August 16, 2010

Well, son . . . we’re moving into the home stretch, so to speak, for your arrival.

Speaking of home, the house is in no way ready for you yet, but the household is, if you catch the distinction.  Fortunately, we still have a few months to get ready, and from here on out I’ll be focusing on getting the house in general, and your room in particular, done up right.

It’s not really that much work, just time consuming, mostly involving me finding places for things for you while I simultaneously find places for the things that I haven’t unpacked yet so I can turn the “temporary storeroom” into my more permanent study next to your room.  We’re holding off on decorating the walls of your room for the most part until you can better express your preferences directly, in part because we’re renting this house (expect our landlady to make a huge fuss over you, by the way) and in part . . . well . . .

This may not make too much sense to you for a while, but it’s a long-standing trope in fiction that if you want to hit your audience really below the belt, you show happy people decorating a nursery, then show unhappy people talking to a doctor (Like they did in the movie, Up, for instance.), and I flat out am not giving the Universe that kind of opening.

Call it a quirk of mine.

I Jest Because I Can

August 13, 2010

“In an effort to mollify local residents in the wake of the Gulf oil fiasco, BP announced today they would be providing free cell phones, as well as free service coverage, for all those affected.  Dismissing concerns about the potential quality of such service given BP’s lack of experience in the field of cell phones, spokespersons for BP were quick to point out BP’s vast prior experience in covering the entire Gulf region . . .”

(And yes, the fact that it took me this long to make this joke does say something.  It’s taken me this long just to get the point where I can make even gallows humor style jokes about it.)

Unfun Fact Of The Day

August 12, 2010

Rumors to the contrary aside, it is my understanding that the Great Wall of China is not easily visible from space, not even from a low Earth orbit.

Rest assured, however, that human stupidity, on the other hand, remains clearly visible for quite some distance.

Another Month, Another Appointment

August 11, 2010

Now don’t get me wrong, I prefer boring doctor’s appointments.  I’m less fond of boring waits for doctor’s appointments, but the appointments themselves I want as boring and uneventful as possible, and today’s checkup for “she who is pregnant” was as uneventful and boring as I could have hoped.

Even so . . .

Since from here on out the appointments will be every two weeks, not four, I’m clearly going to have to increase my boredom tolerance.

But it’s still better than the alternative.

Seriously

August 10, 2010

If anyone tries to tell you that Beverly is delicious and refreshing, even accounting for differences in personal tastes, do not trust them.  This is one of those situations where I assure you that it’s best to assume this person is guilty (of being deceitful) until proven innocent.

(And yes, I know I said pretty much the same thing yesterday, but seriously . . . it tastes that bad.)

A VERY Serious Public Service Announcement

August 9, 2010

While talking with someone over the weekend, they mentioned they were going to the “Coke Museum” in Atlanta soon, and, more than a little alarmed, I asked them “Has anyone warned you about the Beverly?”  (They hadn’t.)

Now . . . if you search the Internet for references to Beverly, you’ll find more than a few, particularly if you search for videos on YouTube, and if there was ever a case where a picture is worth a thousand words, this is it:

Tasting Beverly at the World of Coca-Cola

But if you must have it in words, I would liken the taste to carbonated skunk juice.

You’ve been warned.

Honest Feedback (Part Three)

August 6, 2010

On the other side of the fence, we have someone saying something that might sound nice, but has a hidden, or not so hidden, insult in it (“That’s just the kind of thinking I’d expect from someone of your mental caliber.”).  But even that situation is pretty basic when compared to the times when the only feedback being heard is enthusiastic praise and admiration, because that’s the only thing being said.

There are schools of thought that claim the “empty spaces” between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves to a piece of music, and that’s what I’m talking about here.  Sometimes only the people that like and agree with you are the ones giving feedback, because the people that like you, but don’t have anything good to say, will often keep their mouths shut for one reason or another.  Consider it the “Mommy always loves everything you do,” effect if you like, but if you’ve ever come off a bad relationship and had at least one friend say after the fact “I always thought they were bad for you, but I didn’t want to say anything,” that’s another example of what I’m talking about.

So learn to listen to not only what is being said, but to what is being not said.  Much like the absence of tracks in the woods often means that someone is trying to cover something up, when you find yourself in a situation where  no one at all has anything even the least bit critical to say about what you’ve said or done . . . be suspicious.

Be very, very suspicious.

Honest Feedback (Part Two)

August 5, 2010

But, as I said, there are times when it’s just flat out more complicated than that.

Case in point, recently I called someone an idiot.  (Technically I didn’t actually call them that, I merely agreed with their self-assessment that they were an idiot, but I think we all understand that’s pretty much the same thing.)  This is someone I like and respect a lot, and there are several people out there that would say that what I said was a mean thing to say, particularly to a friend.

Well . . . it was.

It was also more true than false.

It wasn’t entirely true because they’re not generally an idiot, but they had made some idiotic decisions lately, and at that point in time . . . let’s just say to protest that they weren’t an idiot would have be more false than true.

So . . . I agreed with them rather than insult them with protest we both would know was false, then quickly followed up with that at least they were an idiot capable of learning from their mistakes, and that counted for a lot.

And you know what they call an idiot capable of learning from their mistakes, right?

Someone soon to be an idiot no longer.

Honest Feedback (Part One)

August 4, 2010

Understanding feedback is probably one of the most vital skills any living organism can develop if it wants to prosper in any given situation.  At the basic level all living organisms apparently have access to pleasure-pain feedback, which is a great general guideline for survival, but the more complex your situation, the more likely that basic guideline will lead you astray.

In other words, even in the realms of “mere” survival, just because it feels good doesn’t always make it good for you (see “Rapture of the Deep“) any more than something feeling bad always makes it bad for you (For instance, I’m told it’s extremely unpleasant to keep moving and awake while suffering from Hypothermia as one fights against the instinct toward Terminal Burrowing).  When you move on to even more complex situations, like social interactions or literary criticism, things get problematic indeed.

Even so, before further contemplating the exceptions to the rule, let us pause to respect the power and usefulness of the general guideline.  As it has been said, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s how the smart money bets.”