Archive for February, 2012

Sword Of

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Facebook is definitely a two-edged sword.

I’ve commented many times in my life that it takes a fair amount of time and effort to keep up friendships. And I was saying that long before Facebook made it obvious just how many people I know but am not really keeping up with.

I actually don’t spend much time on Facebook these days. I’d say that that’s because I prefer to maintain my friendships the old-fashioned way, but I get nervous about typing things like that when God is watching me type. He has a tendency to hit me on the head and make me fix things like that. It’s not that I don’t prefer keeping up in person, it’s that that isn’t why I don’t keep up with Facebook. The real reason is a mix of having many other things to do with my time and with the lack of degrees within Facebook.

Facebook claims to be able to present me with the best and most relevant posts from my “friends,” but I don’t trust them. I know whose an acquaintance, who’s family, who’s a friend, and who’s a close friend. Not to mention who’s an object of my lust. Facebook doesn’t. And even if they gave me a way to specify, I certainly don’t trust them well enough to actually tell them. I mean, I’ve had enough heartache in my life from telling my close friends who I think is cute or not, I certainly don’t want to give that information to some heartless corporation. And as for their algorithms figuring it out on their own? Well, the few times I’ve let them try they’ve done pretty badly. And I’m not surprised. I write software for a living and I keep up on what’s going on in the industry, and I really don’t think computers are going to figure out what’s interesting versus what’s drivel — to me — anytime soon.

But then, God tells me that that’s the Killer App of Social Networking just waiting to happen, a program that can tell not only that something is drivel, but that it’s drivel that I’d still like to read. Somehow, I think we’ll get the singularity first.

So yeah, Facebook is a two-edged sword. It’s full of drivel, but buried in all of that are nuggets that I really would like to read, really would like to know, but just can’t justify the time it takes to dig them out.

Sometimes I think that the reason we invented swords at all, is just so that we could have the metaphor of referring to things as two-edged swords.

The Rest of the Rest

Friday, February 17th, 2012

So in my last post I was talking about how we humans, unlike Vulcans, find a change to be as good as a rest. Now this time I’m going to tell you that that’s only partially true.

I find that after a couple of weekends in a row of running out of town to go and have fun, what I really want to do on the next weekend is stay at home and just sort of veg out. Maybe I’ll play some games on some computing device, and maybe I’ll watch some movies, or do some reading, but generally I’ll just do stuff that isn’t particularly physical and that doesn’t involve any meaningful interaction with other people.

My inner introvert just starts to demand some alone time.

God says I’m just a wimp; she says people with kids can go for years without getting a weekend to just lay around and do nothing and they manage to survive.

A Case for Resting

Friday, February 10th, 2012

It’s sometimes surprising what is and isn’t relaxing.

I was discussing this with God and she reminded me about an old Star Trek episode where Capt. Kirk and the usual suspects beam down to a planet for some rest and relaxation, and end up engaging in some fairly strenuous activities. Spock finds the whole thing confusing, since they are logically not resting at all. It was one of the first times in my life that I encountered the notion that a change is as good as a rest.

She then pointed out that the same thing is at work when we’re struggling with a problem and decide to “sleep on it,” then find when we come back to the problem that the solution is simple and often even fairly obvious. God credits our subconscious minds with finding the solution in these cases; she tells me that our subconscious is perhaps her greatest gift to us, while admitting that it’s also sometimes her worst gift as well, as anyone prone to nightmares can attest.

What brought on the conversation this time was two things that I noticed in my own life.

The first is that I often come home tired after a day at work. Not physically tired, I don’t do that kind of work, but mentally tired. So you’d think the last thing I’d want to do at that point would be anything mentally taxing. Nothing more trying than vegging out to some mindless sit-com. But since I don’t currently have a TV set up, that’s currently not an option. So what I often do is to pull out my iPad and launch a strategy game. After a few minutes I’m engaged and alert, sometimes even to the detriment of being able to get to sleep when it’s time. So by doing something different but still requiring mental effort, I find myself reenergized.

The second thing is sort of the opposite. I’ve begun repackaging my DVDs, taking them out of their cases and putting them into plastic sleeves that take up a lot less room. Going into this, I thought this would be a nice relaxing process. The kind of mindless work that lets me zone out and devote my mind to other things. It turns out that it isn’t that sort of work at all. There’s a fiddly-ness to the process that makes me keep focusing on what I’m doing. The outer cover tends to stick a little to the plastic it’s housed within. The inserts come in various sizes and have to be aligned right to slide into the new sleeves. And the packaging designers have come up with, it seems like, a dozen different variations on the little plastic hub that holds the discs in their cases, requiring me to engage and figure out, do I push this in the middle and wait for it to pop-up, or do I pull on the edge, or do I do both, or is this one of those horrid ones that have to be pulled up from the edge but which don’t have a cut out that lets you actually get hold of the edge?

So it’s not meditative at all.

And God just looks at me and asks why I’m complaining to her. She didn’t design the cases. Well, maybe she didn’t, but if you ask me, she sounded a little defensive when she said it.


Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Ah here it is, another Superbowl weekend. So for me, another trip to Disneyland. Though I started this annual pilgrimage when I was living near the Magic Kingdom, it’s been most valuable to me in the years that I’ve lived away.

Walt Disney said that Disneyland would never be finished. For him that was one of it’s big advantages over the making of movies, it was something that he could continue to tweak and improve, to constantly upgrade. As I explained to God, that more than anything else is how the Disney corporation has kept to the spirit of it’s founder. They really have kept it growing and improving. It’s like one of those animal enrichment programs at the zoo, where they hide food and treats around the animals enclosure, because hunting them out helps to keep it mentally sharp.

Now, with John Lasseter in charge, I expect them to be even better at it. Much like Walt, John really lets his inner child loose, lets it out and doesn’t hide it away like most adults. So far he’s been tackling Disney’s California Adventure, which I agree needed it the most. Last year I got to see the World of Color water and light show, and I’m afraid it was a little too much like the first number in Fantasia to hold my interest, it was very pretty but could really use a story. But that comparison does show the promise of John capturing the spirit of Walt.

This year I’ll get to see what his crew has done with producing a dark ride based on The Little Mermaid. And sadly, Cars Land is not yet ready. I may have to make at least one mid-year trip to check that out after it opens this summer.

Anyway, I’m excited and God’s excited right along with me. I’m not sure if that’s because he has insider knowledge or if he just likes seeing me happy.