Tuesday, 29 March 2011

First Quarter Round-up

Well since it's basically the end of March I figure we should step back and take a look at how things have gone for the first quarter of 2011.  You know, just kind of make sure we're all on the right track here.  Well, I'll make sure that I am on the right track.  The rest of you can fend for yourselves.  

First of all thanks to everyone who keeps reading this blog!  Since they started tracking hits back in May 2010, I've had over 2000 people show up to at least swipe a picture!  Not only that, but March itself has been a record breaking month with nearly 500 hits (and with 3 days left to go)!  I must be doing something right.  Thanks everyone who stops by.  I'd do this for myself anyway without anyone else ever seeing it, but it's nice to know that I can interest others, too.

So back at the end of December I made a list of things to work on in 2011.  You can find the original post, entitled "Resolute?", HERE.  Let's see how I did: 

1. Lose at least 10 pounds 

I weighed around 185 when I wrote this.  Now at 170.  Hoping to lose another 10 still. 

2. Make a more significant effort to free myself of debt

 I paid an additional $1600.00 into my debt on top of the minimum amount, for a grand total of $3850.00 paid off in the last 3 months.  Not too shabby!  Plan to continue this trend. 

3. Write more (at least get 2 blogs a month in)

 Well so far it's been one a week.  Can't complain. 

4. Learn some more difficult songs on guitar 

Nada here.  I learned a song or two but still easy stuff.  I haven't played as much as I want since my fingers tend to crack and bleed in the winter.  Come beach weather I hope to do a little better here. 

5. Be more adventurous.  

Well I've had a few small adventures and am in the midst of planning a trip with a friend for May, so I guess this is good.  I have however also been more of a hermit for the last 6 weeks, so maybe I've not done so well after all...

Over all I guess I'm doing a decent job meeting my goals.  Three out of five.  Maybe even three and a half, if I'm being generous.  That's good...it's only March so I still have room for improvement.

Any other significant changes since the beginning of the year?   Nothing that major, I'm afraid.  Let's see...my buddy moved in with his girlfriend opening up all sorts of potential new social situations.  However that's so recent that we haven't even got a chance to jam at his house yet.  At least security won't show up, although angry neighbors might!  One can never tell until one tries these things.  Aside from that, I've capitulated to suggestion and restarted my "Plenty of Fish" profile.  Unfortunately although I've sent out several messages, I am clearly not that appealing as I've yet to receive a reply.  Maybe some of you brilliant matchmakers can take a look at my profile and tell me what I'm doing wrong.  You can view it HERE without having to have your own account as far as I can tell.  Other than that there's nothing new that I haven't all ready covered.  At least not that I can think of.

So yeah that's one fourth of 2011 done!  Bring on the Spring!!!

(oh some of you may be wondering why I've included Mila Kunis in this post.  To this I reply, do I really need a reason???)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Information Without Context

 I may have mentioned previously how it has been bothering me lately that in this world of cameras everywhere and tweets or text messages as a major form of communication that people, myself included, are reaching snap judgments about all sorts of things based on tiny fragments of information without any real context.  I understand the nature of this impulse and that people have neither the time nor the attention span to truly research most issues, but it still strikes me as irresponsible and potentially dangerous.  

In particular, camera phones seem to perpetuate a near-Orwellian danger to individual privacy.  They also perpetuate a notion of "guilty until proven innocent" that I completely disagree with.  For example, if I am caught texting at work I will be disciplined.  Fair enough.  A picture of me at work holding a cell phone could get me suspended or worse.  However there is no way to know from a picture exactly why I might be holding a cell phone in my hand.  Perhaps I'm simply checking the time.  Perhaps I found it and am checking to see if I can turn it on and ascertain it's rightful owner.  Perhaps I forgot to set it to "silent" and am doing so now.  There's no way to know for sure.  However, should a picture of me holding a phone surface, people will automatically assume that I'm using it for nefarious purpose without any other evidence.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it can also have a thousand different interpretations.

Similarly, a text or tweet along the lines of "I saw your girlfriend at the mall with some guy" could be a relationship ender without any other information.  And don't even get me started on news of world events in the form of single sentences (whether they be headlines, tweets or 24-hour "news" stations).  That's a whole different blog post.  Actually, my friend Marchije goes into more detail about that in her blog.  Check it out.  

Anyway, all of these are simply examples of information out of context, open to many different interpretations, most of them wrong.  Worse, people can often purposely plant vague and manipulative "facts" in this way simply to influence those of us who care.  I could go all out conspiracy theory here but you get the idea.  This cannot be good for the human race.

With these thoughts all muddled up in my brain I then started thinking outside the "technology" box and applying this idea to humanity at large.  It's no secret that I like to search for answers to philosophical debates and that I also yearn for understanding.  With that in mind it didn't take me long to start wondering how far this lack of context problem goes.  Can I ever expect anyone to truly understand the things that I do and say without them having the same context (in this case my life) as I?  Can I ever really understand anyone?  I know I've done things in the past that have completely baffled even my closest friends since they couldn't see the reasons why.  They hadn't had the same experiences I had to lead them to the same decisions.  Similarly, I haven't understood all of their actions and rationals.  Now I'm starting to wonder if every interaction I've ever had with another person could be fit into this concept of information without context.  Even spending 24/7 with another person wouldn't allow us to necessarily understand one another.  Think of all the little thoughts and musings that go through a persons mind every day and aren't shared, even if that person is sitting right next to another.  We're all alone in our own heads all the time, and without the ability to really see everything going on in another person's mind, to see the full context of their lives and ideas, it's impossible to ever fully know or understand another human being.  No man is an island and yet every man is.  Everything we say or do is ripe with the possibility of misunderstanding.  In another persons' eyes we're all simply massive collections of information without context.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

"I Hate People"

Today's title is a quote from a text message I received from a close friend last week.  She'd just finished being accosted at the mall by someone claiming to be an undercover security guard and basically trying to lure her into a dark corner in order to do unsavory things to her.  Just an average day for a young and pretty girl, it seems.  It didn't exactly inspire my friend with a great deal of love for her fellow human beings.

I was feeling particularly cynical that day as well.  I'd just had to call 911 on behalf of this old man who'd collapsed and was lying in the slush on the sidewalk.  He just lay there twitching, unable to get up.  My cynicism came from the fact that although I was probably the fourth person to arrive on scene where this guy was hurt, I was the only one who bothered to do anything to help.  Even worse, I almost just passed on by.  I glanced at the situation, thought "gee that's odd," and was about to continue on my way home when my humanity belatedly kicked in and I took charge of the situation.  So I'm jaded about all these people who couldn't be bothered to help at all, and disappointed in myself for only begrudgingly providing assistance.  

Both of these incidents  just make me wonder, why are we all such dicks to each other?  I mean, here we are, living in the lap of luxury in one of the best countries in the world, with as much freedom as one can get in this day and age and material wealth like mad, and yet all we can do is stomp all over each other trying to get more.  Our own self-interests rule the day.  The new Golden Rule seems to be "do unto others before they do unto you."  I don't know why but we've become a bunch of self-serving, over-entitled, spoiled idiots.  And yet surprise, surprise, no one is really all that happy.

Yeah, I hate people these days too.  I don't want to, and I'm trying hard to fight it, but it's an uphill battle.

Whatever happened to empathy and understanding?  Did we lose them in a trade for camera phones and 24-hour super stores?  Sometimes I think we did.  Great species.

Incidentally, aside from being creeped out, my friend from the mall is fine.  She clearly isn't an idiot and when her assailant failed to show proper I.D. and tried to manhandle her along with him anyway, she pulled away from him and got the hell out of there.  However she did feel badly because she didn't report the incident to anyone and saw this asshole trying the same thing on another girl as she was leaving the mall.  Don't feel too badly, darlin'.  From what I can see these days 99% of us are just as reluctant to get involved.  It's the world we live in now.  

So yeah, We hate people.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A Few Good Books

So I stopped at chapters a few weeks back and picked up a big pile of books.  Now I've read through them all I thought I'd highlight a few.

First off, I finally got around to reading the much-acclaimed "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson.  It was an interesting story of a journalist who attempts to solve a decades-old murder mystery with the help of a young, troubled but brilliant girl (who is also, of course, tattooed).  Hi-jinx ensue.  There are motorcycles.  I liked this book well enough, although I don't think it even came close to living up to all the hype.  There were a few scenes, mainly involving some heavy-duty violence against women, which definitely captured my attention.  Some things you'd rather not think about.  The author certainly has a way with words.  I did think that this novel could use some judicious editing though.  It was over 900 pages long in paperback format and didn't really sell me until past the 400 page mark.  I guess with the author having died shortly after writing this (and the two sequels) they felt that editing may have been disrespectful.  I don't know that I agree.  Still, I at least mildly recommend "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo".  I'll definitely pick up the sequel next time I'm at Chapters.

Next up, "Life" by Keith Richards.  I've never been a big Rolling Stones fan but I do love an autobiography and have a fascination with the music scene and lifestyles of the 60's and 70's in particular.  Considering how iconic and infamous "Keef" is, I figured there had to be some good stories in this one.  In fact, there were several very interesting tidbits.  An intriguing look into a very odd-ball life.  My only real complaint is that too many events seemed to be glossed over.  It's hard to cover 7+ decades in one book, no matter how long, so I guess this is understandable.  And I did learn how to tune my guitar to Open G and also how to win in a knife fight, so how can I complain?  Don't look for any deep, meaningful revelations about life or the world we live in though.  Just some cool stories about a crazy band and a crazy life as a Rolling Stone.

Thirdly, we have a surreal little graphic novel by "Scott Pilgrim" creator Bryan Lee O'Malley titled "Lost at Sea".  This is the story, told almost entirely in internal monologue, of an 18 year old girl on a road trip who is struggling with her own memories and her belief that she has no soul.  Rather, that she had a soul but it was stolen by a cat.  She thinks.  Maybe.  I was into this novel.  It was very well written and drawn nicely.  It also did a great job of using the road trip with strangers as a life metaphor and exploring that teenage search for identity.  If I'd read it 15 or 20 years ago "Lost at Sea" probably would have been one of my favourite books ever.  At 34, it's pleasantly nostalgic.  Still, I highly recommend it.  It's a heart-felt and touching tale.  Just don't expect it to be another "Scott Pilgrim" and you won't be disappointed.

Finally, I am once again reading "A Game of Thrones"  by George R.R. Martin.  This is, of course, book one of the greatest fantasy series ever, "A Song of Ice and Fire".  I'm sure I've gushed about it before.  If you only ever read one fantasy series, this should be it.  "A Game of Thrones" holds up quite well after multiple re-reads.  I had to reenter this world for 2 reasons.  First, this spring will mark the release of a TV show based on the novel!!  Watch the trailer and read all about it HERE.

Better yet, the long awaited 5th book in the series has finally got a release date!  "A Dance With Dragons" comes out on July 12th, 2011!!!!!  Finally a reason to live through the rest of the year!  I can't wait.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Marching Into the Future

Well, last weeks' blog "Open Letter to a Girl" Has certainly jumped my readership to a new level.  Apparently people are very interested in my past loves.  I'm actually quite flattered.  Thanks to everyone who wrote in offering support and encouragement!  It means a lot to me.

So now that I've dealt with some of the ghosts of the past, what does the future hold?  First let me reassure everyone that despite the baggage that I tend to carry around, I'm not really a sad person.  I have a good life overall.  Great friends and family, decent job with good pay, nice enough apartment.  My only real problem, and I know I've mentioned it before, is that I'm just always lonely.  I'm a "couple" guy living a "singles" lifestyle and it gets to me.  So what can I do about it??

Despite being in the worst dry spell of my life, I'm not one to settle for a so-called "ms. right-now".  I'm only interested in something real.  The problem is, as a 34 year old divorcee with an atypical work schedule, I have no idea where or how to meet women who might be on the same wave-length as I.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the vast majority of potentially interesting girls out there are doing the same as I.  That is, hanging around at home with a few friends, doing their own thing, having fun but not introducing any new elements into their lives, such as a somewhat eccentric, blog-writing, toy collecting amateur musician.  And of course on the off chance that I do meet a new girl who actually possesses a personality, there are always road blocks.  As much as girls claim to want an intelligent, caring guy, far to many of the ones I've met end up going home with some douchey asshole with good abs and a sideways baseball cap.  Shouldn't you have grown out of that in high school?? Also, I think every guy like me dies a little inside upon hearing something like "Oh you're such a great guy!  I love you!  You're an awesome friend!"  Or some such nonsense.  

Friend zone.  Blech.  Yeah yeah I'm awesome.  Sure you can borrow $40.00!  Please, just shoot me now...
(Haha I think some of my issues are popping up again).

Anyway, what I am trying to admit is, embarrassingly enough, I have no game.  I used to have a little game, but it seems like it's all been played.  Thus I throw myself on the mercy of the interwebz.  What do I do?  Many of you are in long-term, happy relationships.  Help me out here.  Gimme some advice.  I'm dyin' out here