Thursday, September 29, 2005

Weird mood

I can't say that I have the right frame of mind for an entry, but today I have found out a little about how my writing habits work, kinda. See. . .I learned a little bit more about ADHD-Inattentive style. In case you don't know what that means, my cognition doesn't really work like most "average" people. I have to rev up my brain a little and until it gets revved up, I have a hard time following the course of a conversation, reading a book, writing something a little more formal, etc. etc. I usually end up excited and revved up in an intense discussion or planning session when everyone has gotten tired and can't think anymore. I still have a good deal of intelligence. . .it just works different than most people's. Whereas a lot of people can kind of work from the general and rote, my mind works more with logical paths. Not sure how to necessarily explain it since I've just really started learning about it, but I think it has its frustrations and its advantages. I also have a feeling that it has something to do with the communication issues that I've complained about.

Work today generally sucked, but it did lead me toward learning a little more about the ADHD-Inattentive stuff. Very stressful. Customers calling with crazy questions and situations that I hadn't thought about for awhile or ever really encountered before. What a flipside to the customer that surprisingly accepted something bad yesterday! On the bright side, though, I learned a couple new things. Stressful days like this one, though, sometimes bring me down a bit and make me question my worth as an employee somewhere else and my writing abilities. If anything, though, once I expel the stress and get back into my right mind, I realize that I have to learn more about the ADHD and the communication side of things so that I can learn some coping mechanisms, move on with my life and impress those future job interviewers.

Tonight, I really didn't do so much on the job search side of things. Took me awhile to sort through some personal e-mails so that my mailbox doesn't get way too filled up with news e-mails and Spam (hate the spam!). Read some postings on the Craigslist jobs newsgroup thingy then looked through a couple of the job categories for Chicago. I found some neat interesting prospect that look more up my alley than marketing, PR or even copy writing or copy editing. I then ended the night going onto Friendster, checking out who viewed my profile over the last month (kind of fun to see, especially when someone from high school does it) then worked a little on my profile. I figure that might open up my doors if, say, someone searching for applicants drops into my profile and sees that I have an interesting in the position or field. Not too productive, but it's a good start.

But woah! Lextopia has gotten a little happening, eh? A little bit of personal inter-Blog politics and a cool comment from someone by the name of Little Miss X to my entry for Sep 26: Narrowing Down My Complaints About Modernism. I enjoyed the entry and it brings up a couple of topics in my head: fandom, the Internet, Friendster, MySpace and all the other networking sites on the Internet.

Honestly, I have to admit that I have some of the most annoying correspondence from people in the past where they just stop keeping in contact with me. I don't know how much of it has to do with me (I honestly think that the ADHD-Inattentiveness might put people off a little because of my weird communicating skills, but then again, it might just be them), but it really annoys me.

I think Sci-Fi and comic fandom do a lot to create community, though, along with other interest groups. . .so, I guess, in many ways, we may form virtual communities more around interests these days. Then again, we also form a lot of communities around the workplace, like we've done in the past, but those communities don't necessarily last so long when we skip out on the job, even though I've made a couple of my best friends at a temp job that I had for a couple months.

But I guess some questions come around: Does the Internet help us form communities? How has it affected our community forming? Has there been any kind of relation between the corporate mobility of moving around every five years with the proliferation of the Internet and the way it allows for more communication? How does the Internet affect our relationship building with people, especially with e-mail as compared to face to face or over the phone communication (I've been hating the phone for awhile and really need to train myself to not hate it so much)? Just some questions to maybe get some thoughts going. Feel free to bring up some other thoughts or to react to other people's thoughts.

Night, folks!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Just a Day Like Any Day Else

Can't really say anything too exciting happened today. Did the work thing today. My highlight at work today: A customer took some really bad news from me very well. The news follows from cause and effect, if you can understand how the insurance business works, but it really felt like a huge relief when the customer didn't get worked up about the bad news. I kept on comparing the situation to breaking up with a significant other. . .and it just turned out so well! So cool.

Took another one of my baths. I think that I may've found the perfect setting: 270 degrees on the 360 degree dial. I fiddled with it a little while filling up the tub, and I felt a little luke warm after a small time in the tub, but I got relaxed and didn't have a hard time breathing or have to get back our then get back into the tub or even feel as if I had a hard time tolerating the water. Cool.

Also, today, I came to the conclusion that this whole communication deal while working with the career counsellor and that I must face during my job hunt exists as something of a chronic issue that has haunted me my whole life. A couple people have told me that there's something weird about me. . .but they couldn't put their finger on exactly what gave them this impression. I plan to read up on the topic.

In the last couple hours, I made it through the rest of the list of networking, job search and industry websites that the career counselor gave me. Nothing exciting came out of it because I pretty much just explored the job search function on all of them or the purpose of the website to see if it would help me. Surprisingly, I found one or to that will provide some unique opportunities that I never saw before. Tomorrow, I start editing the resume, cover letters and so forth that the career counselor put together for me so that they fit my style. Afterward at some point, I will also need to memorize my 2-minute "career story" and the ideas on the resume.

In addition, today and yesterday, I've done some thinking to see if any research jobs exist out there for studying organizational culture and sociology. If so, I'd very much like to join that team of research.

For now, though, I need to contact some people on Friendster then watch some TV before bed.

Goodnight.

Have to Make it Brief

First, an addition to last night's entry: I want to help create in our world a Culture of Awareness that leads to Good Action. I would much enjoy if this Blog became something of a Think Tank that doesn't do much more than think and discuss how to bring about that Culture of Awareness that leads to Good Action. People can discuss gathering together in grassroots groups and action and so forth, but I'd prefer that the lextopia remains a place, not a name for group action.

Beyond that, I had my last meeting with the Career Counsellor this evening. Pretty good session that helped me illuminate an issue or two about some lack in my communication skills that I can address with some work and practice. If anything, the work with this Career Counsellor has helped me a lot with working on my communicating skills because, in many ways, the two of us communicate in different ways and she knows what kind of communication will work in the professional workplace. I have the feeling that this kind of communication works in the world, as a whole, too. In some ways, as I heard on a show on NPR about the Catholics thinking about banning homosexuals from priesthood, I think this communication has many deficiencies when it comes to make a good, valid and sound argument based on reason. What can be done about it, though, other than trying to peck at it in ways that I hope to discover possibly some day.

After today, though, the job search in Chicago starts in earnest. I fear it somewhat. I have the feeling it will become one of my hardest challenges yet. It shold provide some interesting experiences. I bet I'll write a small bit here and there.

I rather enjoy that I plowed through and cleared about 450 e-mails from my e-mail program, sorting them, deleting them and replying to a couple of them. Stuff like e-mail, Blogging and other things on my mind will create another angle to the challenge that this job search will bring me.

I look forward to it. Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Narrowing Down My Complaints About Modernism

Wow, I didn't plan for the evening to go by so quickly. Then again, I guess going to the grocery store and doing some extra curricular activities contributes to the time drain that I have happening. Oh well. . .have to make do with what I've got.

I've set up something of a nice Moment Room right now. Sitting on the couch in our sun room with the door open and a couple windows. Just across the drive and down a small wooded hill cars go by on Nonantum Road, which connects to Soldier's Field Road then connects to Storrow Drive. The rain patters down nicely. I also like to think that I hear the Charles River flowing by from across Nonantum. I almost had the radio going, but with the rain, the wind and the cars. . .it really just makes me feel a little wistful.

Oh yeah. . .the Christmas Cactus, Jade and some other large plant really helps to strike the mood. I have never really bought a plant that has survived, but one friend gave me the Jade, another gave me the Christmas Cactus and I took the big bush home from work. It looks as if the Christmas Cactus will bloom any day now. It has some beautiful pink blossoms that come out for awhile and seem to last longer every year. I don't know if that has something to do with the cycle of the Cactus or if maybe our current environmental situation might have something to do with it. The Jade plant has grown a ton over the weekend while the Girl and I jaunted around Chicago.

The big City provided a pretty good time. I learned to navigate it a little better even though I had a funny experience of going west when I meant to go east, but I quickly figured out the problem when I brought out the handy dandy map. Learned a bit more about the mass transit system. . .ate some good Ethiopian food, hung out a the top of the Hancock Building again and, in general, really really enjoyed just being in such a big city, taking in all the people, all the buildings and got a kick out of the good vibes that I got out of the city that when I got into Logan again, learned how Northeasterners get the reputation for rudeness, directness and just all around. . .well. . .not seeming to care about other people and not trying to provide Value (oh yeah, saw Flight Plan. . .predictable but still kind of fun).

In general, I had a couple bad experiences with American Airlines this weekend. On the plane ride from Logan to O'Hare, I had the fortune to wait in the plane for two hours because of some freak electrical storms in or before Chicago. Not a completely horrible experience, as I had an interesting book to read, but I think my legs would agree. Walking around the city a ton helped to stretch them a little. On the way, home the Girl and I got to wait for another 1 1/2 hour in the plane because, for some reason, a line of fifty or so planes had lined to take off of one run way. It probably had something to do with the rain or something. Not a big problem, though. . .we can't really do anything about the weather, can we? Well. . .I guess we can, but that's a whole other issue.

I really could have handled everything, and I even could have handled the fact that American Airlines didn't put my bags on the plane in O'Hare or that they lost the bag in Logan or something. . .except that the baggage claim clerk really acted like a completely unsympathetic, patronizing bitch. After waiting at the conveyer belt then checking the area behind the line for my bag, I didn't find it, so I went over to her. I told her as much, then she asked me if I checked both places! Then on top of that, she couldn't even understand me unless I had completely and clearly enunciated every single word in a very very pissed tone. And even worse: I had asked her if she could track the bag or maybe go back there and look or talk to someone, but she just immediately went into entering a lost baggage claim into her computer. . .without a word of consolation, regret or anything. It felt like she didn't give one care, she saw me as an inconvenience and she just wanted to take claim then shoo me out of the door. After a bit of fuming while waiting for a cab, I went back to the desk and took down her name. This morning while trying to get updates on my bag, I filed a complaint and the American Airlines rep acted nice, compassionate and understanding. . .refreshing after the rude treatment from last night.

I eventually got my suitcase by the end of today. They tracked it down by 9 this morning then handed it over to some delivery service. Last night, I gave them my home address rather than my work address and my cell phone number. I thought about giving them my work information, but I was just tired and didn't want to deal with the crap of this rude chick. So tried to leave my cell phone on at work but turned it off for some reason. . .can't think of why. I turned it on at about 11 or so. . .I thought that maybe they'd leave a message because it could take up to six hours after nine to return the bag, and the rude chick said that they would just leave it at the door. Did that happen? No. . .after talking to a person at American Airlines to try scheduling the drop off at work because it struck me at that moment that taxi drivers and pizza delivery people couldn't even find my home, they said that the delivery service had dropped off the bag at home, so the nice rep hooked me up with the deliver service. Turns out that since no one was home and they couldn't reach me on my cell phone (they didn't even leave a message!), they decided to drop it off with a neighbor. . .and the Girl and I rarely talk to our neighbors. Maybe a wave and a smile or something, but we've only spoke with the neighbor who owns Kitty, the attention hungry cat that we've started to care for (even though we thought the neighbor had taken the cat away to their new home). In the end, the Girl got home and picked up the luggage from the nice neighbors, and all ends well.

Except that I feel that only the people on the phone showed respect, understanding and the desire to provide Value while the people behind the desk and the delivery person didn't think of how things work "customarily" these days, as in neighbors rarely talk these days in the Northeast, and just give this impression that instead of giving Value, they just want to get their job done with the minimum of effort and hand off the responsibility to someone else, which makes the Consumer, the person getting the service, the person pretty much paying your paycheck feel as if the company doesn't care about them. This whole thing presses onto me the idea that the bad thing doesn't lose the customer, the way that people in the company treat the customer either makes or breaks the long term relationship between the company and the customer.

Strangely enough. . .I probably sound like some kind of old fogey that I used to hate or something like that. People use to tell me that I should take pride in my work and that I needed to have responsibility. Both these things can provide value to the person who takes possession of them, but I don't want to complain about people not taking possession of them. I want to complain about people not caring about building relationships with other people. People have their own self-centered worlds and they just work these jobs to make money so that they can buy stuff and do stuff and maintain their stuff, when, in the end, that stuff really doesn't amount to much. The Internet, television, the telephone and numerous other inventions. . .people talk about how these things bring people together but sometimes it feels like it pushes them apart and keeps them further apart. Instead of building relationships with the people around themselves in their neighborhoods and in their communities and even with the customers that give them job security, these people just seem to care about the relationships that they have with their friends and the intrigue that builds in their cliques and friendships and such. I'm just throwing stuff of the top of my head. . .free flowing thinking. . .very speculative thinking. . .but I guess, in the end on this one, I relate modernism to pretty much people feeling powerless, not seeing a point to building relationships unless they want to network and want their own needs met in a direct fashion and people generally finding fulfillment in consuming things.

Which brings me to the comments that Mr. Ibis made to an entry that I wrote sometime last week. I like a lot of stuff written by him, even if I don't necessarily agree with all of it. Also, thanks for the correction on the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. I think I disagree with your definition of hypocrisy. I kind of feel like the definition you gave for not being a hypocrite is hypocrisy since I want to change it, but I don't really take direct action to change it. I guess maybe if you meant that my acknowledging that I can't do anything about the "system" because alone, I'm powerless, then I'm not hypocrite, I can see your point and I can agree with you. In many ways, I feel that I want my writing and also my information "distribution service" through e-mail to act as my current contribution to changing the situation. With three subscribers, excluding myself, to the "service" and not really publishing anything except for memos and letters to customers and stuff on this Blog (whih I've found quite unprofessional lately). . .even though I'm working on my thesis and novel. . .I feel as if, right now, I'm not making much of a difference because of my own misunderstandings of things and my own shortcomings, which I try and try to overcome. So, I guess, in the end, I don't fall into the category of hypocrite. . .just the category of incompetent at the moment. . .so maybe my feeling of hyporcrisy and complicity really comes from a lack of confidence even though I have many many reasons to feel happy and I don't feel incompetent, just lacking in understanding and knowledge. Still. . .his lack frustrates me quite a bit as I nearly reach my Middle Ages.

Please don't feel pity for me. I don't want it. I want understanding and knowledge, but I probably need to articulate that which I want to understand and know more clearly. Utopia and dystopia for one. At the moment, though, I don't really know how to articulate much more clearly as that because of the morass of different theories and crazy information out there and the goals that different academics and critics have for the what they term as utopia or dystopia. I feel myself coming closer to something of an understanding, though, thanks to this interesting book I'm reading lately called Utopia and Organization. I quoted a part of it the other day. On the entry to which Ibis commented on, in fact. I have a couple more pages to read, but it has already helped me to accept the importance of concerted human effort and the high that people get from it and how some people can get somewhat addicted to it. That idea could help me a lot on this essay that I've tried to write for the last year or so.

Modernism. . .these terms like Modernism, Post-Modernism, Classicism, Romanticism, they kind of annoy me because different fields pretty much delineate different time frames and even have something of different definitions for all of it. Just read about Romanticism. . .I've got a couple books about it, but I forget the authors (one of them is Isiah Berlin, actually) and the titles. . .. But I'm starting to get a clearer understanding of Modernism these days. I don't like Post-Modernism, honestly, because it feels way too critical and negative. Then again, can I really say anything in opposition to it, since I write and make many critical and negative comments about things as they are. I guess my other issue with Post-Modernism comes from the almost pure cultural and moral relativism. I can see the point to cultural relativism up to a point, but I believe that limits exist as to how morally relative is allowable and such. I also don't like the idea of everyone necessarily having their own truth and such. I like stuff like holism and the interrelativity of everything and so forth, but that really just feels like a great extension onto logic and chains of events. Of course everything has some kind of interrelation to each other. At least, in my mind, it is obvious, even though, at the moment, I'm not in the right mind to spout off about it.

With modernism, though, I don't really have a thing against technology even though I reject the idea of using technology without wisdom, which includes social technologies and the effects on the environment and how the technology can affect people directly and indirectly. I hate the huge amounts of stress on individualism with modernism and the forgetting about relationships and community as I mentioned above, but I'm not about to become a suicide bomber and denounce people for having abortions, having pre-marital sex and a bunch of other things that they probably are more likely to do in our present society because they probably have a void left there from not having healthy relations with the people in their lives and feeling alienated. My thought track just ended there, but I guess I have something of a love hate relationship with all these broad ranged "schools of thoughts and culture," but yeah, I guess I'm really railing against the idea of the importance of consumption and the fact that people feel powerless but at the same time, naively become complicit to their powerlessness by not trying to understand the world, trying to fulfill their immediate needs without thinking of the wisdom of helping the world and building relationships and not thinking of the interrelationship of the Web of the existence (to mangle a Unitarian Universalist principle or idea).

To sum up, I want to help other people raise their consciousness and understand the world a little better while I do the same. I want people to interact with each other more and build relationships and try to think up ways to make the world a better place and try to create wisdom that we can share with each other. I want to get that stuff from other people. I would love if people made more comments and possibly put a ton of thought into their comments and felt free to say stuff that's on their mind in response to what I say and what other people say, even if they disagree (please do so respectfully and in a way that can build relationships, though). I really would enjoy if, just as much as I use this Blog to espouse about my ideas and thesis and announce things happening in my life, this Blog also became something of a Think Tank with the purpose of building relationships, exchanging ideas and thoughts and wisdom and if people participated with me to make the world a better place and such. . .even if I don't necessarily always have the most articulate writing here.

Interesting stuff about the solar panels and the ideas about trying to make no net impact on the environment. Thanks for the ideas. Honestly, at this point, I don't think it's possible to do so at my point in life, when I don't own my own house, don't work for an organization that has those principles as important things that they want to do, don't live under a government that has those principles at the top of their list of having things work that way (even though I do try to act as much of a squeaky wheel as possible to my political representatives), don't use an Internet with all the servers and people on it using alternative energies, don't have the money to buy a hybrid or biodiesel car, don't nessarily have the time to research these topics and implement them, etc. etc. I guess it comes down to capability and having the personal power to change my lifestyle while also fulfilling certain desires that I feel will help the world better if I accomplish them before I get focused on changing my lifestyle in radical ways to consume less fossil fuels and such. . .especially when trying to do that stuff now without help would actually cause me to take many steps backwards and possibly land me in poverty and out of good relationships with people and such.

There's a lot on the table, and I'd like to hear more than just myself on these kinds of topics. I'll keep spouting off stuff, though, even if no one else says anything. It helps to get my creative juices going.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

One Dollar

Yeah, $1 is worth it to complain that the plugs at airport terminals are dummies put there just to fool me.

BTW, I had a large Bass. I have a loose mind at the moment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Problem with Adult Life

It makes me tired. It gets me exhausted. It makes me frazzled. Too bad it doesn't write a Blog.

By the way, I go to Chicago tomorrow night after work. I'll try to write when I get the chance and don't feel buried by vacationing, running around Adult life. Here's to hoping. . ..

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Oh, Bloody Hell. . .

I feel like crap again. . ..

"Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury, Raise the Double Standard"

And another couple lines from the same great band:

"I would tell you that personal revolution
"is far more difficult
"and is the first step in any revolution"

- "Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury" and "Music and Politics" by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphophrisy, off of their Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury album.

I got out of the bath a little more than a half hour ago. Correction to an entry a couple days ago: When talking about the water dial on the bath, I kept on talking about it as if it had 180 degrees. That would make it a triangle, which it is not, as implied by the word 'dial.' I should have been using a 360 degree scale for describing the different settings on the bath dial. Please try to translate a circle as something with 180 degrees when reading that passage from a couple days ago.

Oddly enough, talking about this bath stuff and quoting the The Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy have some connection. I believe that I have implicitly touched upon hypocrisy here and there when expressing my guilt of complicity with modernism and modernism. I have yet to find a way to express myself when it comes to the topic or even the specific matter of hypocrisy that I want to address. Part of it has to do with the fact that I could piss off some people close to me. I don't really want to dive into pissing off friends through my Blog like I've been pissed off by what some other people have written on their Blogs about me. That would just be hypocritical!

Another quote:

"Hannah Arendt, in her analysis of totalitarianism, remarks that the striking thing 'about Nazism and Stalinism is the robot-like behaviour of both victims and executioners, both evidently feeling that they had no choice. . .but merely obeying forces greater than human wills' (Canovan, 1974:18). Just as Bauman links such totalitarianism to other, apparently more benign, forms of social organization, so too can it be linked to market utopias. For these, too, tell us that there are forces greater than human will and individual action: their presumption is to tell us that in the face of market forces there is no choice."

- Christopher Grey and Christina Garsten, "Organized and disorganized utopias: an essay on presumption" in Utopia and Organization, ed. Martin Parker (Oxford, UK and Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing/The Sociological Review 2002): 22.

I may have inserted that last bit for the cool factor, for which I would have done something somewhat illegal, so I will have to try to make it as relevant as possible and minimize as much as possible in relation to this whole entry so as not to break copyright law by too much. But yes, this quote here has some relevance to the topic I wish to address. I must approach this topic in a roundabout, centrifigual type of way, though, because I don't totally know what I mean to say. I guess maybe I have a good idea of the things I want to say, but I have them up in my head and mind in a very inarticulate manner. . .so inarticulate that I have some trouble living these principles that I try to live. . .these principles of fighting against hypocrisy and trying to have non-violent loving indepedent community power.

The topic at hand starts with a simple statement that a few friends of mine make. I won't state it literally, but the statement pretty much expresses their feeling of powerlessness and that, in this world, as one person, they can't amount to much for affecting change in this world and acting as a force of change. . .so they end up becoming armchair politicians, making certain judgments or posing particular questions. . .all the while, when challenged in way that goes against their conception of the world or challenged in a way that would encourage them to take political action or force them to make a change in their personal habits, they fall back on saying how powerless they are as one person. . .especially a person without much money or can't get a job that they enjoy. . .let alone a politician who makes a good amount of money and has people's attention or a corporate CEO who has a bunch of money, resources and the power to lobby politicians or influence the people in the world.

Then there's the matter of energy use versus the comfort level that people live. Mentioning something about not needing to use an air conditioner or a fan in an air conditioner one night to someone. . .that they could just sleep without the covers. . .and this from someone who complained about the fact that the teens in today's world don't understand the value of liberty in our society and the importance of the media to keeping that liberty and that these youth would fully willing give themselves over to the people in the government because it works and the world exists as they like. This person basically says that they will continue to use the energy available because it's there. . .once it goes away and becomes scarce, then they'll adjust. And we know when that will happen. . .when we've become indentured servants and live in poverty because the energy companies will jack up the prices as the energy sources become more and more scarce.

Just look at the gas prices today! People love to say that the recent jack up in prices come from the fact that refineries around New Orleans have gone kaput. Notice the gas prices go down recently? Any coincidence that pretty much the Labor Day vacationing in the States has pretty much ended. . .commuting and traveling has pretty much gone back to normality. Also. . .has anyone noticed that gas prices have gone up since China has entered the oil-buying market? We love to blame the refineries and OPEC for the price fixing and the closing distance until we get to the point at which we've pretty much used up half the Earth's available easy to get petroleum supply and other fossil fuels so that it becomes more expensive to extract the raw energy from the Earth. Then there's the crazy oil and gas prices to heat our homes for the winter. My shop teacher in high school put the fact pretty succinctly: "Gas prices for cars go up in the summer while heating gas prices go up during the winter."

IT'S SUPPLY AND DEMAND PEOPLE! The population of the Earth keeps going up and the supply keeps going down because we keep consuming these raw materials that take an unpredictable amount of time and really unknown ways of producing more of the materials. This "law" pretty much says that as more people want something and get more means to get that something while the supply of that thing remains or the same or continues to deplete, the price of that thing will go up. And with the sudden entrance of China into the petroleum economy and as the First and Second (and possible the Third) Worlds become more affluent, the price of the things that we want go up and up and up!

In the end, that means, the more that we (meaning you and I) use these limited resources, the more the price of these resources will increase and that harder we have to work to have access to these resources until these resources go away. . .then, someone will have a horde of the resource, and they'll protect like in the apocalyptic world of Mad Max, or they'll pretty much extort us and take all that we own just so we can have the smallest bit of oil. . .it'll be like we're walking through a desert, getting burned by the sun, water sweating out of our pores along with essential minerals neededfor our survival. Oil will become like water in this situation once we've become utterly dependent and addicted to it.

I consider myself something of an environmentalist. I fear that burning these fossil fuels will destroy the ozone layer, heat up our oceans, burn the glaciars, screw up the saline ratio in the jet streams of our oceans. . .but I have more of a fear of becoming a slave to others through the raw materials for energy. I never really thought about something until I just wrote the last couple sentences: the factors of our environment and our situation with the fossil energy resources look to have some relation to each other along with our slavery to using these fossil fuels for energy. The more we burn these fossil fuels, the more that we destroy our Earth and the more that we become addicts and slaves to it and the more that we hunger for the things that these energies give us and the more we destroy our home, our world, our womb, of sorts. We're destroying ourselves while enslaving ourselves.

Would you want to destroy your mother through the use of the resources that she supplies you? For awhile, we lived as parasites, depending on her to supply us with energy. Some of us even stole the energy from her that she could have used for herself. Eventually, though, she kicked us of her, and to some degree, we probably wanted to get out of there, too. It would get too constricting and small in there. . .very uncomfortable.

Now to circle back to the hypocrisy part and to show how my baths touch upon the topic. I need my baths. A cold bath would not fulfill my needs. Currently, in this home, we burn either natural gas or oil to heat up the water for my bath. Right now, I type on a laptop that, again, requires oil or some other kind of raw material to run. I have a light going in this room. I have music playing in the other room, which uses a Bose speaker system, a Yamaha receiver and a JVC DVD player. I even have the room light going in another room for no reason except that I simply forgot to turn it off. Outside, I have the porch light going for when the Girl gets home. I watch quite a bit of TV and watch a lot of DVDs. We've got a TiVo. .. a VCR. . .a cable box. . .all them that pretty much go all day long. I've taken a lot of trips lately. . .up to Montreal, Quebec, stop and go traffic in Boston. I use paper money. I use public transport and sometimes even take joyrides. In a couple days, I'll get on a plane to fly on over to Chicago. In a couple weeks, I'd like to drive on up to Northern New Hampshire and meet up with someone who can clue me in on what it means to be a copy writer and hopefully get some connections for networking purposes. Then on top of all the energy that it takes to just run these things, think about the energy and raw materials used to create the objects that do these things and also the energy that it takes to refine raw fuels into fuel usable by us.

As I speak and criticize of ways to reduce the problem, bring up the problems in the world and talk to people about the problems, I am part of the problem. Over the years, I have realized that I fear to just jump out of the problem. Jump out of the Modernism, and not because I feel responsible for reducing the problem (which I've started to rationalize lately and feel the need to do), but I fear doing so because outside of Modernism looks so different and scares me. I fear jumping out of the world that I know and the habits that I've gathered through my life. . .Modernism provides me with a comfortable life until the resources run out and using those resources destroy the world in which I live. Not only that, I also fear that Modernism has become so prevalent that even if I tried to escape, Modernism would eventually find me and destroy me because I allowed myself to fall behind.

Well. . .I have typed for a good amount of time now. I've written quite a bit. I've probably given you enough to think about for now. . .especially since I really haven't made any articulate claims or had any big rational conclusions. Just some stream of thought. I will continue to think on this one. I personally believe that the liberty side of things has to do with my thesis and novel. . .the protothoughts I have here will probably find more refinement as I put them into the novel. Nonetheless, I realize that day after day, I can't move forward against my habits and against the self-destruction inherent in Modernism all by myself. My friends have voiced it. They are just one. As one, they don't have the power to make a difference. I am just one. Not only that, I don't really have much potency as power to make a difference. Realizing that you or I don't have power, though, or necessarily the best of habits, I know that if we work together and maybe if we find other people, we can probably start chiselling chips away at the great Monolith of Modernism.

Anyone in?

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Temporary Utopia

As a teenager, I had a fantasy of a certain life that I would live when I grew up or graduated from college. It consisted of getting a good paying blue-collar job (at the time, I thought UPS would work pretty well since I worked there and got paid more than I had ever before while there), dedicate my time to that job during the weekdays then during my free time and during the week days, I would dedicate my time to researching and working on writing projects.

Unfortunately, I haven't graduated from college yet. Not sure I went over that story yet, but I pretty much have gotten most of my credits, attended college for four and a half years at Marlboro College but didn't finish up the required Plan of Concentration (different for every student but for me, a novel and six papers on three pieces of utopian/dystopian literature and three historical utopian communities).

Also unfortunately, I have a white-collar rather than blue-collar job. At least I don't have to wear the suit and tie that I always feared, even though nowadays, especially when it comes to dates and some of those special occasions, I don't mind the suit and tie deal. I even remember when after awhile of doing the white collar shirt and tie for a temp job then switching over to business casual for the summer, I actually kinda missed the choking of the tie. Despite how much I've become comfortable with the white collar shirt and tie and the business casual outfit for my current job, it still pretty much fits into the white collar, service industry category.

Even with the variances on my fantasy, however, I got to live it a little more today than I usually get to live. On top of that, I had the motivation to live it rather than just moon over the possibility of living it then giving my attention to doing cleaning or working on my job search in Chicago and resume formatting and networking and reading job search discussion boards on Craigslist. I actually got up at about noon, did a bunch of reading (sure, some of it was just about pure escapist reading of the Robotech Sentinels book. . .even though on top of the escapism comes a good gob of depression from the inherent tragedy involved from all the destruction in the wars and the politics that happens amongst the same race of people instead of banding together to face a common foe. . .but I have to give the writer[s] credit for including that part and also the mass amount of creativity for coming up with such a long ranging, coherent story full of a bunch of mystery for the writer) then even wrote about a page for my own novel. Honestly, that amount of writing sucks, but it does make a good start for not really writing for a month or two or even more because of this job search and the researching that I've been doing for the academic side of things.

I really would like to keep up the writing, even if I just write for the novel. I do look forward to getting this book that I ordered from Amazon.com (even though if you go through WBUR's Website, the site for the Boston University NPR station by clicking on the small banner they have on the left side of the front page, some of the purchase price will go toward supporting WBUR) called something like Utopia and Organization. I have the feeling that that book will give me some new information that I can use.

Again, I don't know if I've touched upon the frustrations that I've had with working on this project on Lextopia, but I'll go on a rant anyway. Before I do so, however, I want to take another second just to acknowledge the peace that I got from staying at home and having the opportunity to have some quiet time and having the chance to use that time on projects that I really really enjoy. Today and a small talk I had with a friend last night while the Girl and I went over to his, his Girl's and his kid's home (he likes to call them "The Tribe." I like that. . .it's really cute) has hit home with me about the importance of having a room without really having anything necessarily very distracting in it. . .nothing electronic (unless you bring it in then take it out), no books, not really so sure about posters or artwork. . .but really just nothing that will inherently take attention away from what's going on in the moment. The idea came from the Friend last night, but I think on one level, I wanted something to that effect. I didn't necessarily think about having a room without really anything in it, but I would like to have a room that doesn't exist as an office, a dining room, a living room with a TV/radio, a kitchen, a bedroom, etc. etc. . . pretty much a room with an inherent function. I like the idea of having a room that doesn't necessarily have some kind of function built into it.

I think my main inspiration for looking for this kind of room comes from recently feeling burnt out by my office (one reason might come from the enormous amounts of heat that gets made while I'm in there. . .another reason might come from the small size of it, which was somewhat by choice, in a way. . .I had a bigger room, but it doubled as the guestroom, and I did a horrible job at keeping it clean). I've gotten so burnt out by it that, right now, I've taken the Girl's laptop and taken it into the bedroom for typing up today's entry. Hopefully the laptop doesn't act up later when I have to turn it off then back on again because it does have a tendency to do so. But I don't even really like doing this kind of activity in the bedroom. . .I didn't mind it so much when I was younger or even in college (except for all the noise that fellow dormees made or the potential social distraction that it could create. . .especially from attractive dormees), but now, even though it doesn't really give me weird trouble with sleeping when I do work often in the bedroom, I would like to reduce the chance that I could cause such disturbances. Maybe I should try the sun room next time that I want to do work but don't want to do them in my office or even in the living room (the Girl uses that room a lot, too, for watching TV or listening to the rado. . .and I don't think it's fair to not let someone else use that room for its inherent use when I'm doing something else, and I can't do any work while someone else watches TV).

But yeah. . .when we move to Chicago or even after that when we upgrade to a new apartment or, hopefully, when we buy a house or condo, I hope that we can put aside a room that really has no apparent use. I guess I really wouldn't have a problem putting the altar (nothing religious really. . .just something with candles, incense, etc. etc. for the point of the focus into the moment. . .which I guess might become something of an inherent purpose of the room. . .the Moment Room, except that the moment could be used to socialize, work on a project, maybe browse on the Internet with a laptop, meditating, whatever. . .just as long as the person in there realizes that they've entered the Moment Room, and that they should keep aware of the moment. . .maybe make it habit to bow when entering the room to pay respects to the Moment or something). I guess, if anything, thinking about the Moment Room and about trying to feel aware of that moment, I feel like I've lost touch with some valuable personal rituals and practices that I liked to follow that helped me to get in touch with the Sacred in my life.

Yes, it all sounds rather wishy washy and hippie-like, but having a sense of, at least, a personal Sacred really matters to me. I think it helps to have some grounding. If it anything, it lets me to see me a little more for who I am rather than just moving, moving, moving and doing, doing, doing and producing, producing, producing and consuming, consuming, consuming. Maybe my recent baths have helped me to get in touch with this Sacredness again. Most certainly, my friend from last night in talking about his "Moment Room" has brought my attention to the matter. In general, though, I may have directed my thought about how things have changed since I've dated the Girl and possibly soon before that have been consumed by a non-Moment thinking and losing touch with the Sacred, even though the Girl very much has a desire to live in the Moment. I can see how, in a relationship, I very much have a tendency to jump out of the Moment to plan for the future, get ready for the arrival of children that I very much want, buy a house and purchase other things that could possibly help a ton to take my mind off planning and not have to worry about making money and working so much, so it would become easier to exist in the Moment. But really. . .what kind of life is without the Moment or the Sacred? After all, we live a life made up of many small moments all put together into one big amalgmation that we call time and change.

As for the Sacred in it, life, to me, doesn't really feel worth living unless I've got a good ration of Sacred in it, and if I don't have the Sacred regularly, what happens if I get into an accident tomorrow? Remember that Modest Mouse line I quoted the other day? I don't have access to the 'Net at the moment and it would cause some trouble to check out the line, but it has something to do with if someone has no problem wasting life, why won't they waste death. That, to me, really strikes me as a line that smacks of wisdom. If some kind of afterlife or even reincarnation exists, I would think that our habits may follow us. . .so if I'm not a good person now, today or work to have some of the Sacred on a regular basis now, today, what will motivate me to be that good person and to have that Sacred tomorrow? And furthermore, if I don't do so in life, when I've had many days available to me or even when I'm working to have the Moment and the Sacred easier during retirement or when I have a home that I own or have mortgage payments that don't cost as much as rent in Boston, why would I break my habits and work at all that when I have attained the conditions that I have told myself that will make doing those things easier. Won't I keep trying to make getting those things easier and keep up coming up with new ways to make things easier for me, if I'm in the habit to do so?

I know myself relatively well, and I think I would do something asinine like that.

Anyway, I've written quite a bit, all the way through an all right lengthed CD. I apologize, but I won't be bitching and ranting about my academics today. I've got my projects to do! This entry has given me some pleasant Sacred and a good Moment, though. I've thought a good deal about some things that I find important, and I do feel a little better. Go figure! I'll have to do some ranting later or something.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Priorities, Priorities. . .

Unfortunately, my priorities for the day will make it difficult for me to write much of a Blog entry, much like every other day in my life when my priorities cut short my attempts at doing things that I would much rather want to be doing.

Oh well. Such is life. . ..

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hot Bath and Mineral Water, Mmmmmm. . .Good

Third bath since I've started taking hot bathes again, and they really just keeping getting better. Lately, though, I have been trying to perfect my technique of filling the tub. I like the water hot, but I've started to get annoyed with the whole super hot pain then pleasure then, if I move my food or anything else around, more hot pain that eventually calms down. The first time, I pretty much turned the knob about 180 degrees then turned it down as it came closer to the time I would step in. Second time, about 160 or 170 degrees then turn down with the same results. Tonight, I did something like 130 to 140 degrees. It cooled down a little quicker, and I could dip my head under the water eventually (I love doing that. . .), but I still had that initial put feet in and my midriff pain then cool down thing happen. Next bath, I guess I'll try 110 to 120 degrees to see what happens.

I also like to listen to some pretty relaxing music while taking my hot bath. First night, I listened the album, Sea Biscuit by Spacetime Continuum, a great, really really very very ambient album without going way too much into spaciness and formlessness, if that makes sense. Second time, I listened to the Babylon 5 soundtrack composed by Christopher Franke of Tangerine Dream, a pretty dramatic mix of classical and '70s electronic music. Tonight, the Bladerunner soundtrack composed by Vangelis, a great piece of semi-cheesy '70s electronic music that creates that noir and '70s cheesy romantic feel with a bit of chillness. I really have something for '70s electronic music.

Honestly, I've lost my steam for writing this entry. I really wanted to get talking about how even though I'm a skeptical humanist, a believe in Original Sin in a way, and it's really too bad that it exists because it brings us down and makes it hard for us to enjoy themselves, making us embarassed over having things, territory, all angry, scared of relaxation and pleasure and scared of connecting with people because others have hurt us before (what an ugly meme or virus that has affected the human race because it just happened once or twice then grew and grew. . .darn!) and just all the bad stuff that comes with it. I don't really care all that much about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil other than the allegorical significance of it. But these things that I don't really care about probably don't make much sense unless I get a little into it.

But I won't.

Probably because the more I think about it, the more I realize that I just feel all that warmed up to type journal like entries on a computer or even really essays. . .but I want to do it, so I'll have to try pushing myself in the future.

For now, though, I think a line from the Modest Mouse song, Ocean Breathes Salty, will suffice to embody my feeling about Original Sin: "You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death?"

Time Runs Out

D'oh! I spent the hours tonight looking through Magic cards in hopes of finding a general purpose card to fend off a friend's interesting strategy (and this card would have probably been generally useful. . .but I don't think such a card actually exists!), taking a nice hot bath then working on my finances.

I think the hot bath tonight and the other night have helped to relieve a bit of stress, even if I still have some trouble getting up in the morning. I haven't had such feelings of exhaustion throughout the day. Last night, while on Date Night with the girl at the Museum of Fine Arts, I had a real good time and laughed a lot. Hadn't done that in awhile. The other night, we even had some fun slapstick comedy situation that involved balancing and kinda falling into each other. Fun and spontaneous.

I had some weird dreams last night about situations and places I haven't experienced in awhile and people with whom I no longer interact. For those who know me and my vegan way of life, get a good laugh at this one: One of them took place at the old Wendy's where I worked, and I ordered a two 1/4 pounders that came with a small kid's burger each. Right after ordering them and having them on my tray, something seemed strange to me. After that, it took me a couple seconds to remember that I didn't eat MEAT!

In another dream, I strummed at this guitar while Bono from U2 sang some song. . .but I didn't know what I was doing then someone who I had hung out with a lot came into the scene and played guitar. For some reason, I knew that Bono favored me more, but I just kept on thinking about how I didn't how to strum at a guitar and that maybe I didn't have an amp hooked up to the guitar or something.

Today, I kept on thinking my consumption patterns and how I felt guilty about them. Nothing specific. . .just thinking about the "hidden costs" of paper plates and paper towels over that of a ceramic plate or cloth towel. I don't really have the energy to address it now. Maybe later.

Now, though, I need to gallavant around the Web to find a gift for someone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Something to Consider

"A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury." -John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

Interesting guy, John Stuart Mill. Maybe I'll have something to say about him later.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lame

So I guess it might be stress. I'll take a hot bath tonight and see if I feel better afterward and tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I Thought I Sounded Smarter the First Time

I still find myself somewhat in the dumps. Not the dumps intentionally, as I've mentioned in the past. I don't feel angsty or annoyed that much anymore. . .just crummy. Tired and all. I thought after getting to bed at a relatively OK time last night and waking up with some degree of good energy that I had gotten over this whole sick thing. I even made up until about three or four good, too, then I just kind of crapped out, tired and all.

I felt a combination of annoyed with a customer and disappointed with myself at the end of the day because I didn't get the necessary information and production to the customer in time, and the customer didn't have the patience to listen to me explain the not complete product that would still provide some insurance protection to him over the night, or at least, the peace of mind. But oh well. . .life goes on.

Nonetheless, right now, I don't feel entirely too articulate. In fact, my motivation comes from the deep source of my being that won't let me quit, even though the rest of me tiredly has these low self esteem thoughts. I can't let them defeat me, especially since I don't think they have any real permaneance. I don't like the results in which those thoughts point. After all, during the day, I have plenty of good thoughts and plenty of awesome ideas. I just need to rest up and work against the low self esteem thoughts to prevail then produce some great works to present to the world.

So. . .here I listen to this great band that hailed from Boston, Opium Den, but I don't think exists anymore. Walking home today, I decided to take something of a lazy way out and post two things that I wrote today. One of them I wrote as an e-mail to a political news posting and debate mailing list on Yahoo Groups and a response to an article that the Blogger for kisrael.com linked with me in mind, the article addressing "stupid utopias" and the link made an interesting segueway from some encounters I've had lately with the next door neighbor cat (I know one of my high school friends will appreciate that whole topic).

First, my response to "The Ten Stupidest Utopias" by Jeremy Adam Smith, posted at Strange Horizons (as in afterthought, though, if you take this guy's tact about utopias, how can you pick ten as the stupidest utopias from the multitude examples of utopias that one could as stupid?):

"Thanks for the utopia link, K[*]. It had some new interesting examples. Unfortunately, though, it pretty much treads the same ground that so many articles and journals have crossed upon: and/either surveys of what a certain person considers utopian or dystopian without even really addressing what they mean by utopian or dystopian or an ideologically-motivated rhetorical attack on social myths or ideologically-motivated rhetorical creations without really addressing the creations on their own terms (for instance, the article failed to address the fact that Thomas More eventually regretted writing Utopia and many scholars have tried to reconicle Utopia with the life of More and that Plato pretty much had a thing against emotions, in the first place, and would have loved a world with just reason, not emotions). The author touches upon some of the topics but not satisfactorily, in my opinion, enough to show that these utopias/dystopias have any merit, at all. Then again, doing so would probably nullify the emotional rant and convenient facts that the author mentions. But, if I've learned anything, these kinds of articles and the public really doesn't have room for a good, nuanced reasoned out piece of work that actually says something worthwhile. Too bad for me, too, because I've had to wade through symptomatic stuff like this for years.

"Still, thanks, K[*]. . .I haven't heard about a couple of examples that this guy mentioned."

And now my semi-biographical e-mail:

". . .I also believe that looking at the ". . .removal of God in public schools, and with society. . ." only really creates something of a tunnel vision view of the situation. I'm plenty willing to look at morality, the growth of modernism, the factors of huge mixtures of culture and class that occur in our great melting pot of a country and a whole bunch of other things when looking at the situation. Honestly, with all the other things that I'm doing trying to improve my own life and trying to spare time to make the world better, I don't have the time to engage in very in depth conversation on the topics at hand. I really really just like to emphasize the importance of looking at all the factors involved rather than trying to emphasize one factor is the one factor that has changed everything. . .that just feels like an argument filled with rhetoric to me.

"And the above comes from someone who did pretty well in school (even though I'm having a difficult time with a Bachelor's thesis that I've pretty much been working on for seven years) and hasn't had the most ideal . . . while growing up. . .but I'm not about to blame just . . .or the schools for my problems. There's a lot of structural and cultural issues that have a lot to do with the world "going to hell in hand basket" that I believe that we all have responsibility to address rather than just pointing fingers at the origin of the problem. I'm just stating my viewpoint based on opinions that I've seen made on this list for a few months, not necessarily trying to make an argument.

". . .I'll admit that I'm something of a skeptical humanist liberal/progressive, but I really appreciate to get all the information and perspectives as possible, and this is one of the few places that I can get information on the edge of the Right. I don't blame the media, however. . .I blame my own ignorance and being too busy and lacking of motivation to search out those other views. I am constantly surprised, however, that the Economist comes to the same conclusions as many liberals. Was I wrong in thinking the Economist was a more conservative publication?

". . .Hopefully, some day, I can provide more contribution than what I have so far, and if there's any responses to this e-mail, I'll try to give them some attention. I just can't promise a timely answer. . .I hate being so busy and not being able to address the things important to me, but a person has to do what they have to do to live, I guess."

Well. . .that's pretty much it for tonight. Hope everyone has good dreams.

Sleepy. . .

I should get to bed soon. Quite tired, after doing practically nothing this weekend except for watching TV and sleeping for about 24 hours. The foregone conclusion: I didn't have anything bothering me emotionally or my relations with other people or anything. I had just come down with something and wore myself out by getting only about five hours of sleep during most of the week, and sometimes less than that. Then on Friday, I stayed up until four in the morning playing Magic with a friend. Good fun, but I probably shouldn't have stayed up so late. . .not necessarily so good for the constitution.

On a good note, while not busy with sleeping, I finally got to watch the first season DVDs of The 4400. I liked it a lot. It kept me hooked, even if mostly just a couple moments at the end when one of the characters had an interesting dilemma that touched upon the moral and also the unsure. The show makes me think of a mix of Alias, Lost (the Girl had gotten that DVD set last week. . .much nicer on widescreen and also some fun extras about how they got the plane for the initial wreck, how they came up with the concept and got the writers and producers to put it together in a pretty short time and started watching some stuff about the casting that they did. . .pretty inspiring really. . .a couple years ago, I wanted to get into TV producing and/or writing; these extras kind of made me want to do it again), The X Files and The X-Men (Interesting article. . .never knew Magneto was a Holocaust survivor). The 4400 doesn't strike me as the most original show on television these days, but it sucked me in with an interesting plot that came as a mystery to me that didn't get answered until the end, even though it didn't surprise me. The drama worked for me, even though I expected a lot more culture shock from the people returned. One of them, gone only for three years or so and who is teenager, made a funny remark about it, something about someone gone for thirty or fifty years was catching up a lot better than him, who was only gone for three years. Too bad I watched the DVDs during the second season. I'd like to start TiVoing the second season, but I have the feeling that I'd get lost. It falls into the category of one of a serial show rather than a show that maintains an overarching semi-serial plot with a bunch of one-up episodes.

A couple weeks ago, I also finished Firefly. I would write more, but silly me. . .I went browsing around the Internet looking for stuff about Serenity, the movie based on the show, coming out at the end of the month. I've gotten pretty excited about the movie after watching the DVDs, even though I could've seen the movie months ago at a pre-screening that I a friend told me about and even bought me a ticket for it. . .but again, I had pushed myself too much that week and had tired myself. Now, I feel real silly for not making it to the movie. Oh well. . .I enjoy the excitement that I feel now for it.

I will go to bed soon, but I spent a short time trying to find the five or so clips of Alliance interviews of River Tam (kind of the main character. . .the Alliance government pretty much tricked her family to send her to them -- this is not a spoiler since the show pretty much tells you about it in the pilot or first couple episodes -- so that they could do experiments and "modify" her) while under their control. I found the second clip, and it is kinda creepy. Has anyone found the other four? If so, where can I find them?

But yeah. . .bed time. I should sleep before I get myself sick again. Silly me. . ..

And oh yeah. . .even though this shouldn't be an afterthought. . .we should all bow our heads for the tragedy that is 9/11.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

This Week

Wow. . .I don't know what happened this week. Nothing BAD happened. I just felt horrible and completely out of sorts. I may have to agree with a lot of people that it has to do with not really getting enough sleep and probably has to do with the move to Chicago in 8-9 months and the stop and go work on the thesis.

This week, I want to try getting a better grip on my state of being. . ..

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bad Mood

I'm brooding, angsty about brooding and annoyed that I'm angsty.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

One of Those Weeks

I find myself in one of those weeks. Someone might have said that I had 'a case of the Mondays,' except I had them on Tuesday. For a couple moments yesterday, I felt like the main character, Peter Gibbons, in Office Space. I shouldn't say that I felt like him because I only had a glimpse of that not caring without pushing me over the cliff into the "I just don't give a crap anymore. . .I will do what my heart tells me" fantasy.

Maybe I should say, as I touch on embarassment, that I may have felt more like Chandler Bing from Friends, in that I work in an office but don't really care much about it. Today, I labeled myself a paper pusher, except that I know that I have more qualifications than that and, most of the time, I do more than just push paper, going through formalities and such. Instead, this week, especially since the guy who does a lot of the routine stuff has the next two weeks off for vacation. As insurance agent, I have a lot of very simple responsibilities to keep things straight and to provide value to a customer, like making sure that their policy has the correct mortgage listed on the policy and sending evidence to their mortgage company that they have the insurance coverage that they do have but before doing that, I have to first discover that we don't have the right mortgage company on the policy at a panicky moment because the client has received a letter telling them that the mortgage company hasn't received evidence of the policy and that they have force placed an insurance policy onto their home that costs, at the least, three times the cost of a policy they purchase from us, which doesn't provide anywhere near the same kind of coverage. So. . .I have to call around to get that information correct, gather together the information from the policy to put on the sheet that works as evidence, make up a fax cover sheet ("Mmmmm. . .Did you get the memo about putting the new cover sheet on the TPS reports? Mmmmm. . .yeah. . .well. . .I'll send you that memo again." "I heard that you haven't been putting the cover sheets on your TPS reports. Did you get the memo?"), fax the evidence and cover sheet to the mortgage company, figure what company the client is with, remember what process the particular company uses to have that change made (do I send an e-mail, do I make the change over the Web or do I just call it into the company), go through the process of making the change that can take forever depending on if the Web works, how it takes for their Webpage to load, how long it takes for the e-mail to go through, how long I'm put on hold waiting for someone at the mortgage company or at the insurance company to pick up the phone and ask me how they can help me then we have to make sure that they understand what I'm saying and that I understand what they're saying. Then after the change gets sent or the information transmitted, I then get to write up a memo (this is my own extra touch, but clients seems to like it and other insurance professionals in classes tell me it's a good idea), seal it up in an envelope then put it aside to get posted then put in the mail for the end of the day. This process can take up to half an hour at a time, sometimes up to an hour or an hour and a half depending on the situation at the mortgage company and any problems that may crop up, like the fax machine on the other side not working. Usually, though, by the time I'm done with the process, someone else calls me with another situation similar to this one that needs the whole process.

Then every couple of hours, I get a big pile of mail put onto my desk that I get to go through, organize in so many different ways, evaluate whether something needs to get done now or later as compared to the other kijillion things on my "to do" list that no one seems to understand because I'm using the "activity" list in an unorthodox way, setting up follow ups for 1943 because setting up the tasks in the past by decades in the past allows me to prioritize what needs to get done and such. And while I'm trying to organize this mail, another client calls with the need to change the mortgage on their insurance policy and the need to send evidence of this change to their new mortgage company, so I have to go through the whole above process to get that done, so it takes me about a half hour or an hour and a half to get back to filing the mail.

I also get to go online to a couple company's Websites to print down policy paperwork changes and renewals and cancellations and new policies that the companies have issued. This task usually gets done right before lunch or a little afterward, depending on how many people call to have their mortgage changed, have me look up their balance on their policy, tell them where to send their payments, ask how to make a claim, ask if they should make a claim, how do they insure their jewelry or fine arts and on and on and on. . .then there's the one or two people who just call and say something like, "I'm totally confused. What's happening? Am I in trouble?"

I'm not saying anything against clients. I'm not saying anything against the companies. I'm not saying anything about the agency. I'm not really saying anything other than it's draining, especially when things get to be repetitive or just plain negative, and I can even touch important things that I've already got on my "to do" list that requires hard thought and even a bit of creativity. And. . .half the time, I can't get to it because all this routine stuff needs to get done and everyone else is busy enough doing their own thing or my co-workers pretty much send me most of the calls because I'm really the only full time person in my department. It just gets tiring. . .not having the opportunity to do these BIG tasks that really do need to get done but don't necessarily always have an instant result that gets seen because I'm doing all these little routine things that, if they don't get done, something bad will happen or the client won't get something that they want. Worse thing, though, is that sometimes I just feel like that all these highly immediate things will get in the way of the moderate immediate things that need to get done or something bad will happen while the BIG things don't get done. . .and. . .and. . .and. . .

I should be happy that I have this job, that I'm getting a paycheck, that I've got a home, that I can pay for transportation, that I can pay for the food on my table, that I can pay for my cable TV and Internet, that I can pay for the cool things that I have, that. . .that. . .that. . .I'm supporting this great huge system that allows me and some others to consume and provides for me and some others but leaves me tired and exhausted and makes it hard for me to do the creative and analytical that I want to do and love, instead leaving me as a lump of something or the other, consuming food, the sparse moments of love I can get, TV, bike riding and other routine things just so I can stay up late and get entertained and feeling driven and feel really really tired the next day so my productivity goes down, but I get enough of it done.

And I do feel a tug of responsibility to spend time with people, and I enjoy these friends. . .but even then, it feels like I'm going to them as either entertainment or as just a responsibility. I want to write and work on my thesis, but I feel guilty doing so because it's a me thing and something that won't directly support or effect the world until it gets done and sometimes I get lost in the task of it even though thinking about it can help me get through the day even though it frustrates me and creates these roadblocks that get in the way of my progress on it. As bad as this sounds, it all, even the friends, feel like that level of routineness that gets in the way of getting the big creative and analytical things that I want to get done.

I want to do a lot, but I'm not in the place to do it because I have all these things to address before accomplishing those things, which include professional stuff, emotional and spiritual maturity stuff, relationship stuff with people and helping to make the world a better place. I've got fear, but I've also got all these "small" things that need to get addressed before I can deal with the big important stuff that I want to touch upon.

I haven't even really been able to engage and think seriously about the discourse and situation of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding in New Orleans. I feel lame and selfish for this disposition.

Work feels like a microcosm of my life. . ..

Ugh.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Procrastination

Too bad I won't be doing it. Instead, I need to do my finances. Bills due, bills due. Six days in late in sending the rent check. Eek! Darn Quebec trip sucking away my attention! Anyway. . .better be off and do those finances before I stay up a might too late tonight.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

This Blog Entry Comes from Quebec

I do not have much time. This Internet station in a currency exchange unit ends in something like three or five minutes. The keyboard looks all weird and does not give me the punctuation that I want, so I cannot contract words properly. The lack of contraction annoys me.

Briefly: We made it safely after a long long six drive. Ugh. We have done a lot of walking, and I mean a lot. Last night, I fell asleep soon as my head hit the pillow from walking around so much. We walked all day from 10 to 6ish then went out for a romantic dinner.

Today, we road our bikes around a bit along the Saint Lawrence (or Saint Laurent) river to Old Town, where we ran through Old Town to reach the comic store I bought a Robert Heinlein book from about five years ago. I wanted to get French language Magic cards, but they did not have any, so the store owner told me the location of a gaming store called Dunjon (french for Dungeon) around the neighborhood of the bread and breakfast at which we have been staying. Found Magic cards, but nothing in French. =( I did give a Babylon 5: Call to Arms board game of space battles and campaigning. Sounded kind of fun but the price tag looked a little steep when I am not sure if I know anyone who would play with me. The Girl got a nice tea set of a Japanese tea pot and four cups.

Tonight, we came back to Old Town, walking down a road that they close off at night, bars and restaurants serve people out on the road and stores sell their wares on the streets. I got some new sunglasses. We also got some chocolate that we have not bitten into yet. Mmmmmmm. . .. Ate at this vegetarian buffet place, I think it is called Camesole, that is a chain in Quebec. Pretty good stuff. After that, we came into Old Town and hooked up with a horse drawn carriage ride, who brought us around the sites, Parliament, the Plains of Abraham, the Prison where they had Sunday hangings, the oldest building in Quebec, a tree with a cannon ball beneath some roots that grew over it, City Hall, the Citadel, etc. etc. Lots of fun and very good tour guide. He inspired me to take horse drawn carriage rides in every city the first night to get a good lay of the land and the impression of a native. He also gave us some good tips on some night spots.

Time to go, though. Getting late, and we still have not finished our night. We want to walk around a little more, get some pictures of the Levis across the St. Laurent with all the lights. . .oh yeah, the oil refinery over there or whatever it is. . .something to do with energy. Then we want to stop in on a jazz bar, supposedly the best one in Quebec. Tomorrow, after some breakfast and possibly a little more touring around, time for another six or seven hour drive back home to Boston, something to which I do not look forward, but we have to do it. Oh well.

Anyway, if you cannot tell, having a great time in Quebec City. I will have at least one interesting story to write about that has inspired some thinking (dang! thinking again. . .why must I do it. . .cannot even make a question mark because of this weird Quebecois keyboard!). But yeah. . .more later! Hope everyone else has been having a fabulous time this weekend, too!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Going Over the Border

Finished up something of a rough week. Bosses had taken most of it off for vacation, so I got to deal with a bit of the rough stuff at work. I pretty much made it through, though, only downside parts happened before the week. . .not so bright things done to scare away good, honest clients. Feel bad about it, but nothing to be done about it. Have to move on with life and improve on my skills of delivering Value to the customer. Maybe they'll realize I'm not such a skeazy bastard that I mistakenly made myself out to be and come back. Having that happen would brighten me up a bit.

In about eight hours or so, the Girl and I hit the road for some adventure. Going on up to Quebec City to see some sights, have some good food and enjoy another mostly French-speaking city (where conceivably someone in a restaurant might not know English). I'll try to take some notes and make some entries during the visit, but I can't promise anything.

Have a good and safe Labor Day weekend!