Monday, September 29, 2008

The Simple Things

"The opposite of happiness after all isn’t sadness or depression. It’s boredom."

This is all too often true for me. It's probably a fair statement to say that I've spent the majority of my life being bored. 

I just read this article about 11 Refreshing Ways to Bring Out the Awesomeness in Life. I wish it left me inspired. Well, maybe just a little bit. But mostly it made be feel wanting. 
 
Every Autumn I reminice about going back to school. It was the start of a new year, a new chance to learn something new, to spend time with my friends. It was something specific to look forward to. Now that I'm out of school (a physical school, that is), there has been that loss of a tangible beginning of something new. At work, summer melds into fall, melds into winter, then into spring, and the cycle starts over again. 

This year, I would like to make some changes. I will start small and see what kind of effect is brings. I will get back to enjoying the simple things in life. I've let myself get away from that. I can still be stopped dead in my tracks when I see the clouds turn pink in the fading sunset. But I know there are so many other precious moments that I just let slip by. 

No more slipping. 


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cycles

I am a cyclical person. For all things, relationships, career, interests, I seem to revolve around four different states.

Optimism
This is the first stage, when everything is brand new and open to such amazing opportunities. I throw myself into whatever it is and want to learn everything about it. How it works, how I can manipulate it, how I can make it my own. Then the newness wears off and the rose-colored glasses come off.

Skepticism
I start to notice the flaws. I start to question why. I look for ways to 'fix things' and make it as I think it should be. I slow my pace and do more observing than jumping right in.

Cynicism
This is the beginning of the end. I see diminished value in what was previously supposed to guide me. And once the perceived value fades, so does the level of respect it once had. What I used to find charming and quirky I now find annoying and lowly. The wrong look, the wrong movement, the wrong breath will make me want to grind my teeth and pull out my hair. Something has to give.

Apathy
I stop caring and withdraw myself all together. Everything that made me cringe is now just something to be ignored, or at the very most endured. Change is inevitable, but the question is do I create that change, or is it forced upon me?

Right now, I am coming into the Cynicism stage. I know what comes next. I'm not looking forward to it. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Matt Damon on Palin



"I need to know if she really thought dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago...because she's gonna have the nuclear codes."

Matt Damon, I don't know why you are you are interviewing with AP on politics, but well said.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Us vs. Them

I have come across many different variations of the 'us vs. them' conflict over the last few weeks. And I only say over the last few weeks, because thats all that I've paid attention to it. I know that it has always been there.

In my coursework, the theme has been on the sociology of education and how conflicts have existed since the founding of schools in America. In an effort to create a new, unified nation, schools served as the true melting pot. The goal of schools were to Americanize all citizens -- to create a common ideology, religion, culture, language and allegiance to their country. This of course affected those who were not of the country's majority: white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

In education, in politics, in foreign and domestic relations, in science... it seems that all conflicts all stem from religion. From one being more correct than the other. And it's usually the social elite that determined that their view was the 'right' one and that everyone else was wrong and that it was their duty as Americans to save those savages and bring them to the righteousness of their faith and all that it entails.

Education
The school system was often seen as a way to screen out members of society to determine if they would be put on the education track to advance to universities and become the leaders of tomorrow, or if they would be put on a vocational track to become the workers of tomorrow. Often these decisions were made by standardized tests. But if you consider the discrimination already in place in schools, more often than not, privileged students of middle to upper-class society were put on the college-prep track and under-privileged students of lower class society were put on the vocational track. So the gap between the upper-class elite and the lower class commoners continued to exist and become wider.

Politics
Republican, Right Wing, Christian Conservative, small government vs. Democrat, Left Wing, Liberal, big government. One provides the safety net, the other provides the push towards self-reliance.

Foreign & Domestic Relations
You hear the comments, "America - love it or leave it", "Speak English only." Historically, there has not been a lot of tolerance for different cultures in America. And around the world, our goal is to spread God-fearing Democracy whether they like it or not.

Science
Evolution versus Creationism. Advancement of medial science versus moral and ethical debates. Beating the Communists to the moon.

Everything has been passed through the filter of us vs. them. What ever happened to we?

I have to believe that it's reasonable that every person would want everyone to have access to fair and equal education. That all parties want a strong, safe, healthy and prosperous nation. That we want basic human rights, not just for Americans but for all citizens of the world. That we push the limits of human ingenuity and aspire to scientific advancement that better mankind and the environment. It should not matter if you call your guidance God, Allah, Yahweh, Mother Earth, The Creator, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all.

As for me, this is what I believe:
  • I was raised Catholic, but no longer prescribe to that faith. I blame it on Man's fallibility rather than on religion's.
  • I can be close to 'something bigger than myself' without following a particular faith, doctrine or creed.
  • Live by the Golden Rule.
  • Everyone is equal: men and women; white, black and every shade in between; King and Peasant. As I tell my mom all the time, "The Pope shits, too."
  • It's not who you love, but how you love. (Thanks, Kevin Smith!)
  • Actions have consequences. Karma, fate or divine intervention -- call it whatever you want.
  • You get out of life what you put into it. Hard work and determination will take you far. But sometimes a hand to help you up or a kick in the ass is needed.
  • And most importantly, burgers, a beach and Bruce can solve any personal crisis.

I didn't have an agenda in writing this. I have no intention of starting a debate because I assume that to mean that the goal is to change mine or someone else's beliefs - and I don't really care that much.

But there are polarizing events like politics and religion, and other events that bring people together like the Olympics and the Stand Up 2 Cancer event last night, and I wonder why? What breaks the barriers and unites human to a common cause?

Why can we all just get along?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Holding out for a hero

Just having one of those days where I wish I was anywhere else. And then I daydream. And I reminisce about stupid things, and stupid times, and stupid movies. But then I think about not-so-stupid movies. And then I think about Footloose. And then I think about this.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

You Get Me

I took a personality test on the site YouGetMe.com. The survey was a 40 question tool where I rated myself on each. Here are the results. I have to say that I think they're pretty accurate.

Your personality tendencies in a nutshell...

You enjoy making plans and commitments but you sometimes don't follow through. You are curious about many different things and highly value artistic expressions and ingenious thoughts. You tend to be relaxed in most situations and can handle stress well. You are typically respectful toward others and dislike confrontation. You show some tendency toward being outgoing and sociable.

YouJustGetMe.com's guest psychologist Dr. Peggy has a little more, uh, informal interpretation of your traits...

About those "Casual" and "Disciplined" bubbles... Conscientiousness is not one of your defining traits, meaning that you are neither anal retentive nor anal expulsive. What does that mean? In a nutshell, you keep it together fairly well, but you do not suffer too much if you let things fall through the cracks every once in a while. If you make plans with a friend, chances are good that you will show up at the designated time. Then again, something better may come up or you just might forget. Either way, you're good. Another possibility is that you are very conscientious about some things, but more relaxed about other things. For example, you might demand the utmost rigor and discipline in your scholarly/work life, but keep your home looking like a garage sale gone terribly awry, with various articles of clothing and personal belonging strewn about. Where's Fido? Hopefully he hasn't been eaten by the alien life that has developed since the last cleaning.


About that "Alternative" bubble... You are intellectually curious, imaginative, and literary. I do believe the technical term is "artsy fartsy." When reading poetry, the images may move you until you quiver with delight, or perhaps quivering from all of the espresso that you've been drinking. Speaking of caffeine, it would not be a big surprise if you indulged in other substances to heighten your senses. After all, whoever heard of creative geniuses who were sober? Freud was a coke-head, Hemingway was a fall-down drunk, and Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil, probably while high on wacky tabacky. You have quite the active fantasy life and are often in la la land, earning you the well-deserved nickname "space cadet" from your loved ones. Mostly, you're a lot of fun to hang out with because you're always game for whatever idea your non-medicated (but should be) friend has in mind. The next time someone suggests that you streak naked in the dead of winter, do think twice, or at least wear some mittens.


About that "Unemotional" bubble... Some people consistently react emotionally to their environment and freak out over little things. You, my friend, are not among those people - at least not usually. Worrying and stressing are not your typical style. Even faced with absurd circumstances, you are calm and may pride yourself in your ability to use logic and reason. As a consequence of your Dalai Lama-like persona, you seldom experience the highs and lows of more emotionally reactive folks. Rather, your moods could be graphed like the flat-line of an ER patient. That analogy may seem grim, but *really*, who is more placid than the person who ceases to be? Anyhoo, if you're annoyed with my analogy right now, it's probably because you only scored medium high in the emotional stability trait and have some tendencies to be easily disturbed and offended.


About that "Cooperative" bubble... Your scores would suggest that you tend to be more agreeable than you are competitive. What does that mean? For starters, it means that you have a fairly strong tendency to believe in social harmony and cooperation. You are a nice person. You want people to get along and do the right thing - for each other, for the greater humanity. That's not to say that you are a total pushover, but that you believe in the niceties of life. This is probably why you are very popular with people and have many friends. The difference between you and someone who is very high in agreeableness is that you have a bit of an edge. Maybe you laugh when people fall down and hurt themselves, maybe you secretly occasionally think people suck. Whatever it is that's holding you back from winning Ms. or Mr. Congeniality, that's also what makes you more interesting.


About that "Extraverted" bubble... I have a friend who can strike up a conversation with anyone: Nobel Peace prize nominees and winners, muppets, sanitation workers, perfect strangers, my crazy uncle Harry. My friend is a bona-fide extravert. Your scores indicate that while you tend to be extraverted, you also have some degree of reserve. Perhaps in some situations, you prefer to say less or maybe you have duct tape over your mouth. Either way, you may save your high energy for the situations when you have a need or desire to be "on" and your quiet moments for those with whom you feel most comfortable.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Spreading myself too thin?

I wasn't really aware of how much a nerd I am until now.

I am currently enrolled in an online university to get my Masters in Eduction, focusing on Instructional Design for Online Learning. I have 12 credits until completion. In two weeks, I will start a Train the Trainer certificate program at my local community college. And I just enrolled (for audit) in an online course on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge just for the curiosity of it.

What's strange is that no one is making me do this. I have no real reason for perusing all this other than the desire to know stuff. For the past 2.5 years, the stuff I want to know is all about education and instructional design. Who know, maybe in another 2.5 years, I'll want to know more about the mating rituals of Peruvian cockroaches. But today, it's about education.

I'll keep you posted as to what happens.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Restless

I felt absolutely no joy about coming into work today. That's usually not a good sign for me. It typically signifies that restlessness has started and if I can't find a way to make myself feel energized, productive and useful again, then I will become miserable.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day BBQ

Yesterday I went to Nikki's house down near Atlantic City for her annual Labor Day BBQ. Each year the crowd grows as more kids pop up. This year was a complete zoo.

Karen's husband Rob was the entertainment as he plugged his guitar in for a one man show. As more alcohol was consumed, it turned into amature hour as the hostess and guests hopped on mic for their moment in the spotlight.

Proud Mary

I was no exception.



Nikki and Karen tortured us with their interpretation of Kenny Rodger's "The Gambler". What's especially great is their complete disregard to the timing of the song. They just sing as if Rob wasn't even playing.