Randomly Friday afternoon

At the end of a mildly insomniac week, I find myself on the verge of dropping off to sleep in the midst of this daylong data curation workshop. I think my whole table has pretty much moved on now and is surfing, tweeting, and sometimes even just openly conversing, but there’s an hour yet to go.

Things I’ve learned during the workshop:

Change gotta come

And soon. I’m putting myself on notice.

“Self,” I said to myself tonight, “at some point, you have to get past the fact that everything sucks. Even though it’s not really your fault that everything sucks and even though much of your suckage is not of your own making, you still have to take responsibility for fixing your own life because no one else is going to do it. Constant depression, frustration, and resentment–even when justified–are not terribly attractive and definitely aren’t a healthy part of a balanced breakfast.”

Jeez, I sound like a bad self-help book when I talk to myself like this…

I didn’t ask to be born

I didn’t ask to be born. Sounds like something you’d hear a pouting, sullen teenager say but there’s actually some truth to it.

Sidney Poitier’s speech to his dad in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was perhaps a more palatable version. Paraphrased, he says that when people make a conscious choice to have children, they bear the responsibility for those children–at least until they’re no longer children. The kids, on the other hand, do not have a similar moral obligation to their parents because they made no such choice or commitment.

Of course, that’s not a license to write off Mom and Dad when they become inconvenient or annoying. It would take a pretty rotten son to do that, assuming the parents were loving and took care of him. But it does suggest that the children maybe shouldn’t feel quite so guilty if they don’t drop everything and devote their entire lives to caring for their aging parents.

Yes, I’m talking about myself and my parents and my need to set ground rules and boundaries. I’m obviously going to do what I can do for them. I am not, however, going to give up my own life (career, sanity, etc.) in the process. Many people have that nurturing instinct and can spend hours patiently caring for and entertaining and just generally enjoying older people. I am not one of those people. I do not have that instinct, even toward the parents I very much love. That’s why I had the presence of mind not to have children. Call me selfish, but I’m only willing to devote so much of my time to this.

I’m not going to move in with my dad. I’m not going to visit my mom every day. I’m not going to drive thirty miles each way to Greensboro every single weekend after already doing it five days a week too. I’m not going to give up vacations. And I’m not going to sleep with my phone turned on and resting on the night table waiting for a crisis.

Of course I’m going to visit regularly and spend time with them. And I’m fully willing to manage the business end of things. I’m more inclined to succeed at what I can do well that fail at what I know I don’t do well at all. Does that make me a bad person? Tough. At least I recognize my limitations.

On a Thursday night

Just a note to anyone who has been trying to catch me for the past two days: it’s been very hectic and I’m quite exhausted, as evidenced by the fact that it’s 8:45 and I’m just about to go to bed. But the climate seems to be improving as the weekend approaches. So fear not. There will be sarcasm and Canadian indie rock (maybe even in French) and an a new rant on how fucking annoying it is to be told to “have a blessed day.”

Unless I decide to do something else, that is.

Bless this, asshole

One of the hazards of everyday life in the South (and increasingly in other regions of this ever so devout country, I’m told) is constantly being told by restaurant and retail employees to “have a ‘blessed’ day.” It used to be something that came mostly from the mouths of older African American church ladies but it’s becoming rather ubiquitous. I do not find it sweet nor endearing. I find it off-putting and insulting.

It’s a little like telling someone to have an “orange” day–not  really grammatically incorrect, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either. Grammar (and triteness) aside, though, this little greeting is pretty much just a passive aggressive way of introducing religion into inappropriate situations. Cashiers and servers who would be fired or disciplined for saying things that are more overtly religious to their customers feel they can get away with this allegedly more subtle form of proselyting. And they’re right, unfortunately. As a rule, Muslims, Buddhists, and humanists generally do not tell you to have a “blessed” day. This is specifically an evangelical Christian thing. And it’s bad customer service because it involves pushing religion in my face in situations where it doesn’t belong.

Besides, don’t evangelical Christians believe that we are all “blessed” pretty much by default, just by virtue of the fact that a merciful god has allowed us poor wretches to exist in his presence? Isn’t it sort of redundant to tell people to have a “blessed” day when you believe they pretty much can’t help but to be having one already? Isn’t it sort of like telling them to “breathe air?” Yes. That’s precisely it. The only reason, it seems, that a Christian would ever tell someone to have a “blessed” day is (1) to make damned sure the poor slob being so greeted knew that that the person offering the greeting was a Christian, and (2) to hint ever so slightly that the “greetee” might want to concentrate on his own faith just to make sure he recognizes the tenuousness of his relationship with the man upstairs.

In other words, to do a little preaching.

In an inappropriate place like with your customers in a restaurant or a store.

See paragraph #2 above.

Some good news for a change

Unless I’m figuring something horribly wrong, it looks like I’m not going to owe any significant tax on the sale of the Pittsburgh house and also like I’m going to be getting a refund in the neighborhood of $2300. I probably haven’t gotten a tax refund in close to fifteen years. That’s some pretty happy financial news…assuming it holds.

Randomly Monday

Thoughts for a Monday night with a Hawaii Five-O rerun on Netflix:

  • Striking librarians in Toronto might consider a new career.
  • Know what’s nice? Every two years or so I get a big craving for fish sticks and when that craving hits, they always seem to be on sale.
  • Down side to above: The fish sticks purchased always last much longer than the craving.
  • As I am now officially out of diet pomegranate soda from Loblaws and cheap detergent from Dollarama (and because I have other mysterious business there) it’s time for another quick run to Canada this weekend. Details to follow. But not many details, as it will be a very quick trip.

Strange how grocery-intensive this post turned out to be, eh?

Celibacy, Eames, etc.

I went to the doctor this morning for my six-month checkup and oil change. He asked if I were seeing anyone new since last visit, to which I responded, “That’s pretty much the last thing I need in my life right now.” He chuckled and said that I was probably right, so I guess my celibacy is now a doctor-approved therapy. In a nutshell:

  1. I don’t think anyone else is particularly interested.
  2. I don’t really care enough to find out if I’m wrong about #1.

More random thoughts for a Tuesday night spent with Eames on Netflix:

  • Upon Googling the aforementioned Eames, I realized it was showing here in Winston-Salem tonight.
  • Precisely.
  • After today’s encounter with the air conditioner repairman, the insurance company, and the ongoing lack of action from Bank of America on my refi, I’ve decided I needn’t worry what to do with that tax refund. Alas.
  • I’ll try to develop the attention span to write something other than bullet points one day soon.

Videolog: Where Do the Boys Go

Men Without Hats
Where Do the Boys Go (1984)

Another of those bands I don’t think I ever realized was from Canada.

Some part of me wants to follow this up with “What Do Boys Dream” by Joan Armatrading but I don’t think there’s a video for that. Of course, I could be mistaken.

Sorry, wrong number

When people call and leave a message that makes it obvious that they’ve gotten a wrong number, I usually try to call them back and let them know. I do it so they can then contact the right person and actually communicate whatever it is that they wanted to say to whomever they actually wanted to say it to. About half the time, though, the callers get a little bit pissy when I inform them of their error. Sometimes they even argue with me, not quite getting it when I insist that I really don’t know Ezra or Laura or whomever. And they almost never thank me, even though I’m going out of my way to do them a favour.

That’s just one more bit of evidence, I guess, that the vast majority of people are jerks. Or idiots. Not that I really needed more evidence of this…