Sunday, May 28, 2006

post the seventy-fifth

I worry a lot about people not liking me.

Granted, it usually turns out to be my imagination. I worry a lot, and so I'm really good at creating signs that people don't like me in my mind, like people giving me nasty looks or not responding to comments that I think are funny. People tell me not to worry. I still do, of course, but it always turns out to be moot. I even worry that I've horribly offended old and trusted friends sometimes. Those generally turn out to be wrong, too, but it doesn't stop me from worrying, either.

This was different.

I was at work this last week, and as I'm still fairly new, I was assigned to work with someone. She was helpful on Friday, showing me around the place and telling me everything I had to do. I brought music with me on Monday, so she and I didn't speak much (i.e., at all). By Wednesday, it was apparent that she'd had enough. She seemed irritated with me most of the day. Having had this experience many times previously, I assumed that I was just imagining it and did my best to ignore it. However, it quickly became very clear that she meant business. I was standing around at one point, trying to figure out what I needed to do next, when she snapped at me, saying, "Figure it out! I'm not going to tell you every little thing you have to do!"

I hadn't asked her anything about what I needed to do, as I was pretty clear on that. I wasn't even aware that we were having a disagreement until just then. She continued to be in a pretty nasty mood toward me for the rest of the day. I have no idea what I did. She just snapped at me any time I spoke to her (which was, admittedly, not very much). I just stuck to my music and elected not to speak to anyone else.

She's been much more civil to me since then, but I'm still mystified as to what happened on Wednesday. I'm so used to just imagining that people don't like me that I had no idea what to do when someone actually was angry with me. I guess I'll just go ahead and retreat into my overactive imagination, taking comfort in the fact that people don't actually hate my guts. At least, I think they don't.

(sweats nervously)

Monday, May 22, 2006

post the seventy-fourth

I found yet another perk of being a writer for the 100 Hour Board tonight. My contact mistakenly wasn't able to record the season finale of 24, so Uffish Thought and I pulled some strings and managed to get invited to a huge 24 party hosted by one Jono of Divine Comedy. I also ended up getting some free food from Cafe Rio out of the deal. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

I had actually intended to blog about the etiquette of the cellular phone in my previous post, but was prevented from doing so by a sudden attack of gratitude for everything I'd ever received. Rest assured that such a wave of gratitude isn't going to strike me now. I'm doing my best to think selfish thoughts so I won't be distracted.

So the cell phone. I blogged about this some time ago, but feel that I have more to say on the subject. It's interesting, but we have a peculiar set of social rules accompanying cell phones that seem to supercede normal social norms. At least, so it seems. For instance, I've always felt it rude when people answer their cell phone when it rings in public. It seems rude and unfeeling to me when someone interrupts a conversation with me to take a call that could easily be returned in a few minutes. After all, cell phones are designed to record who called, what their number is, and when the call was received. You don't even need to redial the number; rather, you can simply call them back with the push of a button. It's wonderful. Wonderful enough that it makes it terribly easy to be rude to people standing next to you in favor of those on your phone. How lovely.

But is that really all that rude? Don't we do the same thing when people call us at home (at least, those of us that still have a home phone)? I know I've interrupted conversations with people in my apartment when the phone has rung. I don't even think I excused myself to take the call. Yet no one I know of has ever been offended that I took a call while speaking with them. No one seems to mind if I answer the door if it knocks. What makes a cell phone so much ruder than a home phone? Is it the fact that you can carry the annoyance wherever you go? Are we simply conditioned to accept inconveniences when we're at home, but refuse to tolerate them in other places? That seems a bit counterintuitive; after all, we should be least likely to tolerate interruptions when we're at home and at our leisure.

I don't claim to know the answer. I just follow along with everyone else. I get annoyed at cell phones like others do. It almost feels like the trendy thing to do. My mom and my sister, two of the last few remaining people on Earth without cell phones, caved in and joined the wireless army a couple of days ago. I doubt it will be too long before I give in myself. I keep telling myself that I'll be a considerate cell phone user and never do anything to inconvenience my fellow man, but that remains to be seen. I'll probably catch myself doing something annoying that I told myself I'd never do, like talking loudly about my prostate problems while on my way to class.

Actually, if I end up with prostate problems at age 23, I feel like I'll have earned the right to talk about them as loudly as I want, wherever I want.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

post the seventy-third

That's what you get for trusting others, I suppose. Rest assured that I'm always going to sign out whenever I use any program on Petra's computer. You can [sic] trust anyone these days. Honestly.

So it's definitely summer here where I am. The weather is warming up a lot. I find that I have less and less motivation to leave my air-conditioned apartment. When I do, I find that I'm hurrying as quickly as I can to another air-conditioned building. There's really no reason to be anywhere that isn't air-conditioned, if you ask me.

I actually wasn't planning on blogging about this, but I think I'm going to go with this, now. I live in a very materialistically spoiled society. I don't even recognize it most of the time. I'm able to get most anything I want whenever I want it. That excludes a job, mind you, as I only just found one yesterday after weeks of searching, but the more I think about it, if finding a summer job is the worst of my problems, I definitely lead a comfortable life. It's really quite amazing. I have more than enough to eat. I have part of a cake left over from my movie night last night (thank you, SkyBluePink). My air-conditioning works wonderfully. I have clean water to drink and to bathe in. I have more than enough clothes. I have electricity to power all of my toys and entertainment devices. I have my very own computer. Life is really good. I forget just how good it is, sometimes. I get really caught up in the little things that go wrong in my life and manage to forget just how many blessings I really have. I'm one of the privileged rich, as compared to most of the rest of the world. That's easy to forget, and I think it's something that we as Americans do a lot. Why think about how terrible things are in other countries? It's just depressing. Better to ignore and and hope that it takes care of itself.

I don't mean to imply that you, the readers of this blog, are terrible people for not doing more to change the great inequality in this world. I'm certainly no better. I don't go out of my way to change the world. I'm more than happy to sit here in my ivory tower and enjoy my tomato soup. It's just that every once in a while (and probably less often than I need to) I stop and reflect on how wonderful my life really is. I invite the rest of you to do the same. It'll be good for you.

Wow. I really wasn't planning on writing about that. How weird. Apparently that had been on my mind lately.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

post the seventy-second and three-fifths

I have a few things to say, as a sort of public service annoucement:

That Optimistic, he's so hot right now. He sure wishes his air conditioning would start working.

That Petra, she smells fabulous. It's true.

That dome, it done been blown. Welcome to Earf.

Today's post is brought to you by the letter F. "F" is the first letter of "forget." Did you know, kids, that when using other people's computers, you should never forget to sign out?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

post the seventy-second


If you haven't checked this out, you really ought to. It's an amazing thing, and by all accounts, it really shouldn't work as well as it does. For those of you unfamiliar with it (does anyone on Earth not know what Wikipedia is, though?), it's an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. If, when you're reading one of the articles, you find an error, factual, stylistic, or otherwise, you can edit it out and change it to your liking. Legions of web surfers edit these articles every day and have created a truly impressive array of information for anyone to use.

How on earth does this work, though? Why is anyone motivated to update correct information that millions of other people are going to use for free? They won't receive any recognition for their work. They certainly aren't being paid. Is it altruism or insanity that motivates us to keep this updated so constantly?

For me, at least, it isn't either of those so much as an insistence on correctness. If I see a grammatical error in an article, I stop what I'm doing and fix it. I'm even willing to interrupt my train of thought to squelch out an inaccuracy. Factual errors are treated with similar prejudice. I can't stand them. I even wrote a whole article (on the Shakhty Trial of 1928) when I saw that it didn't exist. I wasn't doing it so that others could read it and learn all about the Shakhty Trial. Other people weren't anywhere near my mind when I wrote it. Rather, I wrote it so that I would know that I had written an article on Wikipedia. Maybe there is a certain amount of credence to the motivation of self-aggrandization, even if it is anonymous.

At any rate, I really get a kick out of reading Wikipedia articles. They're all written such that most nouns are linked to other articles. (In keeping with this theme, I linked the number 53 to the corresponding article in my piece on the Shakhty Trial.) Once you get past the annoyance of every other word being blue and underlined, it's actually rather convenient. Once I've exhausted my supply of online reading sources (blogs, Blue Beta, the 100 Hour Board, and McSweeney's), I generally turn to Wikipedia to keep me entertained. I read about the Lotus Sutra and the Buddhist doctrine of upaya (expedient means - you really ought to read it) this morning. Yesterday I read at length about Japanese phonology. The amazing thing about it was that I got there from an article about the Nintendo game Perfect Dark. Wikipedia is wonderful. You can end up almost anywhere from any given article, provided you click on enough links.

I doubt any of this is new material for most of you reading this blog. I've just been really excited about Wikipedia of late and wanted to share it with everyone. Feel free to regard me as a complete nerd for reading it in my spare time. I really enjoy it. I just may go back and read some more about Buddhism right now.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

post the seventy-first

Like many of my peers, I'm a fan of the Fox show 24. I blame my roommate, Angry Block - I initially had no intention of ever watching the show (although I did end up getting involved in the show Alias for the sake of a now ex-girlfriend), but he insisted that our whole apartment watch the first season, which he had purchased on DVD. We obliged, and were immediately sucked in. The other three of us resolved that we wouldn't watch any more of it, as it took up so much time. Watching a whole season of 24 in a month takes a lot more time than if you watch it over five months (five times as much, as it turns out).

Season five started this January. Angry Block parked in front of the TV that first night, absolutely riveted. Remembering how much time I had lost during the month of November, I stayed as far away as I could. However, the next evening (it was a special two-day event for the premiere), Uffish Thought invited Angry Block and I over to watch it with her. This put me in a bit of a bind; I don't mind saying no to Angry Block, since he's a really good friend, but I feel a bit worse turning down someone I'm not quite as close to. Begrudgingly, I said yes. I brought my Soviet history textbook with me and went to go watch the episode.

Predictably, I was hooked. The show just felt so real to me. The episode in question showed an airport being held hostage, and Jack Bauer had to sneak in and save the day by shooting all kinds of people. It was pretty cool. I was so involved with the show that I came home and pulled up, fully expecting to see updates on the terrorist situation at Ontario Aiport. It gets inside my head. It's amazing.

Let me be clear, though. I don't think I'm quite as into the show as I'm making myself sound here. I like the show, of course - I think it's interesting, otherwise I wouldn't watch it - but it doesn't have the power over me that it does over other people I know. I watch it mostly so I can fit into my society. I know lots of other people that watch the show, and thus watching it myself gives me a sense of connection to them. It's strange, because I generally end up watching the show alone. It's an interesting society we live in where we can feel connected as we grow further apart. Go figure. An author years ago wrote about the "culture of sight and sound" created in America. We have a shared identity because we have all seen and heard the same things. The example he used in the book was that of Life magazine, but I think it applies just as readily to television. I have the same reactions to a show like 24 that anyone else in the country would. I haven't met these people, but I can connect with them through the show. The U.S. Army unwittingly made use of this idea during WWII. Sometimes German soldiers would sneak into American ranks unknown to others. To weed them out, sometimes commanding officers would ask soldiers questions like, "Who is Mickey Mouse's girlfriend?" Any American would know the answer without any hesitation. Germans, by and large, would not. The image of Mickey Mouse unifies us as a country - perhaps as much as, or even more than, images like the flag and the bald eagle.

Maybe I'm just doing my patriotic duty by watching 24, then. I can't hardly be considered an American if I don't know everything Jack Bauer did last week and if I don't consider Miles to be a complete idiot (and don't worry, I do; I was shouting and screaming at the TV when he called President Logan and said he would intervene with the recording).

In other, unrelated news, I changed the title of the blog. I'd been meaning to use the word "Optimystique" for some time now. The blog title just seemed appropriate. Also, this week's installation of Indie Movie Night will take place tomorrow (5/10) night at 9:15. Come and see Lost in Translation with us. Email me if you need directions.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

post the seventieth

Last night marked the beginning of the second year of the summer indie movie night here. I'd forgotten just how much fun it was. We watched New York Doll, which was wonderful. I think what made it even better, though was having so many people over here. I love inviting people over and hosting parties, and will be more than happy to have excuses to do so this summer. Last year's indie movie night had a regular attendance of six or so. We had somewhere around fifteen last night, and there were a lot of people that didn't come. It was awesome. I don't even really care if I'm not the center of attention or anything. I just like having people over and seeing everyone have a good time. It's great.

For those of you who missed it last night, you are welcome - nay, implored - to come next week. We'll be watching Lost in Translation and having a similarly good time. If we're lucky, Skybluepink may even bring another torte. She makes a mean torte.