Friday, 29 January 2010

Blame

In my third year of working in an office environment, I had a disagreement with a colleague at a staff meeting.  It was one of the final meetings prior to the biggest event that we used to run in that company.  Here was the situation: we had a team contact us about registering late.  I, as the Office Manager, said 'no' to letting them in.  The event was sold out, registration had been open for half a year, and admitting them at that point in time would have required changing all of the plans that had already been made.  Game schedules would have had to be redone (registered teams approached a total of 2000), supplies, and accommodations  - in general - would cumulatively amount to [imho] more work than the money from their registration fee would have afforded us.  Our Marketing Manager strongly disagreed, stating that the effort would not only make the team (who may potentially be well-connected) happy, it would make us look good.  Needless to say, at the time I disagreed that we'd look "good" by breaking our rules for one team.  Well, long story short: we let the team in.  They were ecstatic.  The event went off seamlessly.  I got OT pay.  Everyone was happy.

The other day, we reached an application deadline.  There were postings, and there were applicants to these postings.  The deadline was for the applications to postings.  The day following this deadline, someone sent me a .. posting! I panicked and tried to think of ways of accommodating this late posting.  I thought perhaps of emailing his posting to all applicants to see if any of them were interested.  I even thought of extending the deadline so as to give this posting a chance at getting a great applicant.  I looked to the person running this posting/application process, and her advice was to keep our deadlines such as they are, and just let the poster know and find another reasonable solution. I would have killed myself to ensure that I accommodated this late request, but I was advised not to.  I feel badly about not going out of my way, but I am aware that it wasn't necessary and that it was perfectly fair and fine to follow the deadlines such as they were laid out.

I have this strange feeling that the former experience shaped my inclinations for all future ones.  I suppose I could call it a "Customer-Service Oriented" attitude.  Does this make me understanding? a push-over? a good employee? or none of the above. Whatever the answer is, looking back, I know who I blame for the change.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Monotony

It's hard to pinpoint the moment that we get trapped in a rut, but today I feel inclined to blame long-term goals and detailed planning.  At some point, the day-to-day (i.e. minor details that are often overlooked when aiming for your goal) becomes so monotonous that it slowly sucks the life out of you.  Or rather, it slowly had sucked the life out of you, and before you even knew it, you were dead - but a brainless zombie making your way about.  And where once a task was a tiny step that brought you closer to your goal, it became the bane of your existence.

Institutions and Organizations

The first real high school event at which I performed a song was the Christmas Concert when I was in the twelfth grade.  I sang an a cappella rendition of Boyz II Men's  Let It Snow.  There were lights, cameras, and a full audience that listened intently and applauded loudly.  The experience was intoxicating.

I still remember auditioning for this event.  After having been called "too operatic sounding" in my then-most recent audition, I was really nervous as I walked into a room to sing for the Principal and the Chemistry teacher.  They were, after all, tremendously talented singers, themselves.  But I did it.  And I got the 'ok' to perform in the show.

I was so excited and nervous that all I did was rehearse.  The trouble was that I had an English paper due on the same day as the performance.  My choice was clear when I performed preparedly, and afterward asked my teacher for an extension.

This is the first memory I have of failing to meet a deadline.  I risked my average for a performance.  I was lucky that time because my teacher enjoyed my performance and she gave me the extension without penalty.  She said she understood.  I felt guilty at the time for asking for and accepting her mercy, thinking I deserved the consequence of a penalty for the late submission.  I had this crazy idea instilled in me that "the real world" (i.e. life after high school) wouldn't afford me such leniency, and that I shouldn't get used to it.

I've found that high school, through its [seemingly] arbitrary rules, deadlines, and punishment, gives us a false impression of "the real world".  I understand the utility in their enforcment, especially on impressionable youth and adolescents.  However, the truth is, it's only ever become increasingly clear to me how institutions and organizations are all run by people, and all people have the potential to be very understanding...

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Disco

Nothing still quite comes close to Pandora.  I still remember the day I tried to login, and all I got was a message saying that it was no longer available to non-U.S. residents.  Anyway, there have been others, such as Grooveshark, but none of them are able to recommend artists and songs based on more than just genre.  Pandora looked at vocal styles, lyrical content, instrumentation... Every recommendation was surprisingly good.  (The key word here is "surprising".)

Anyway, Youtube has just launched "Disco".  It doesn't quite list all of musical elements of each song the way Pandora did, but it does let you do things that others didn't:

1. Watch the music videos.

2. Replay any song any number of times, as desired.

For these two reasons alone, so far, it wins.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Learning

I was always a hopeless romantic, and I would always let my heart dictate what I did.  But this isn't a good strategy. It teaches us to betray convictions, and breeds resentment.

I've been focusing my energy on finding the perfect balance between being easy-going, open-minded, and having a 'take no shit' attitude. That is, I have to defend myself (so as to never become bitter), but also know when to step down (so as to be fair).  I have to be ready for life as it comes (and be easy-going), and not reject it when it's not what I hoped it would be (because it's so easy to be hard on people for not giving you what you wanted from them).

It's the only way to go forward that makes sense to me.  But it's hard.  Sometimes I don't know if I'm being unfair when I'm defending myself, or letting people walk all over me when I don't.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Impressions

In the eighth grade, I wrote and recited a speech on Dating in the public speaking competition.  It was more like an insightful comedy act where I covered such topics as asking someone out on a date, telling your parents about the date, and dealing with gossip.  Within my school, I placed 1st and was given the opportunity to compete in Regionals.  So, I did.

I wish I had had enough wherewithal to have expected the poor reception of my speech, and that my school administrators could have had enough courtesy to have warned me.  Perhaps they didn't want me to backout, realizing that my ignorance of prejudices could endow me with confidence as I recited my speech in front of a very conservative panel.

But it was certainly a learning experience to have been handed my ribbon for my participation, and have a woman that I looked up to whisper a snide remark into my ear as she shook my hand for the photo.  After all, I've now had the pleasure of having a lifetime of these moments, and I don't foresee an end to them any time soon.

Hyperlinks

Weighing subtlety against clarity, I decided that the latter was more important when I decided to write this post.  I always get disappointed when I invest time in things that go unnoticed.  Anyway, I'm hoping that my hyperlinks in my posts, plus the little messages I include for when you hover over them are all being read.  I hope.  And if they weren't before, please try to catch them going forward.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Practice

I've been an atheist since I first read the God is Dead excerpt from Nietzsche's The Gay Science.  For years, I teeter-tottered between theism and agnosticism, and similarly between whether or not I consider myself a hypocrite.  I mean, after all, I did go to a Catholic High School, do readings at all of the masses, and accepted the Christian Leadership Graduating Award.  At the time, I just considered the readings and the leadership roles practice.  They were opportunities for me to get experience and do things that I enjoyed doing.  It just so happened to be the case that they were "Christian" events.  Should that have stopped me from participating?  I almost want to go on a rant complaining that the only reason why there are no advocacy atheist groups is because atheism isn't something that congregates its adherents ... but I won't.

I find it unfortunate sometimes that I was put into a situation where I felt pressure to keep my opinions to myself, and other times I realize that there are worse fates.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Insanity

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

-Albert Einstein

It's not that I think there's anything fundamentally wrong with how I've been living, or with the things I've been doing/things I plan on changing, I'm just aiming for different results and I don't want to go "insane" doing so. 

So, I started with blowing a lot of money in California, and generally adopting a more liberal attitude towards spending on designer names. 

Last week, I asked my POC at work to block me from accessing Facebook from work.  (A request for which I had to confess that I checked my account frequently while at the office.  My POC's initial response was by re-routing me to kittenwar.com, instead, which totally defeated the purpose.) 

Next, I plan to slowly phase-out gtalk.  I've been toying with the idea of it, but I'm having so much trouble with it. 

I've also reverted back to working more hours. 

I've stopped cooking [creatively] because I have no time. 

I'm finding more time for my family. 

I don't watch any tv what-so-ever. 

And

I've been writing a lot of song lyrics.  This will be the year that I focus on this.

I'm exhausted.  But at least I know why.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Guide to Misguided

This is what I'm referring to...

Example 1:  Having a particular career in mind for your future, and doing everything you need to do to get there.  Sometimes the outcome is happy, and sometimes not.  But in an educational system like the one I grew up in (sure, let's pick on it, why not?), you're encouraged to pick a career and do everything you need to get there.  This is all before you even know what having that career really entails.  Again, sometimes the outcome is happy: someone chose a career, drew out the path, went for it, and they enjoy their career.  Other times people are displeased with their premature decisions and either start over or remain miserable out of inertia.  I'm calling the end point of getting the career "making it", and the journey "faking it".  We have an end in sight, and we just do what we're told we're supposed to do to get there.  We presumably don't know better.  We may even question why we have to do some of the things we're told to do (eg. the necessity of electives in university), but we are told to just do it... to "fake it till we make it".

Example 2: A romantic relationship where one person has decided that he or she /wants/ to be with a specific other person (or kind of person), and concedes at every turn so as to avoid dealing with all of the problems in the relationship.  So, "making it" refers to having a long and happy relationship with this person, and the "faking it" refers to how he/she just goes through the motions to keep the relationship from falling apart.  The truth is, in a relationship (romantic or otherwise), to be genuinely happy, you need to be honest, and you can't "fake it".  So, "faking it till you make it" fails in relationships.

Now with respect to math and physics in high school,"faking it" was doing all of the homework (lots of practice) without fully understanding the bigger picture.  It can be useful for homework: "faking it" (doing all of the calculations without the understanding the theory behind it) enough times actually did help students eventually understand the concepts behind what they were doing.

So clearly, the blind guiding principle of "faking it till making it" is not always bad.  There is a lot of good that may come from it.  In the case of homework, it helped students develop their skills to grasp deeper concepts.  In the case of getting a career, it gets you to your career.  And in the case of the relationship, it helps you keep it.  But! the problem in the latter 2 cases was that the end point was reached, but happiness wasn't guaranteed.  If you made it to the end and wound up not being happy, then you'd have to either start anew or remain unhappy.  It's in times like this (where I've reached a goal and realized that it wasn't what I wanted) that I regretted ever aiming for it.  I begin to regret having done all of the things (making all of the sacrifices) that got me to that end.  I begin to ask myself if I'm happy that I even did these things and question if the memories of these things make the goal worthwhile in spite of the fact that the end-point turned out to mean nothing to me.  Or would I have been happier if I had not even tried?  ...if I had been skeptical of what I was told I was supposed to do, questioned what I was doing BEFORE I reached the end... what if?

There were also many times when I did hesitate.  I didn't do what I was told; I didn't act on blind faith.  I didn't trust the advice of whoever it was that was "guiding me".  And in retrospect I saw that if I had just shut up and done what I was told, I would have been able to reap the rewards of my obedience.  I would have come to see the wisdom in their advice. ... And then there were other times when my insolence was vindicated.

So when I said "but not even he made it.  I don't think some things ever become clearer.", I was saying... =D

[Note: the above two examples were provided for illustrative purposes only.   Any number of examples could have been used.]
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