A Random Pattern

Archive for the 'philosophy' Category

Marriage the institution

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Quick link to a viewpoint you don’t see or read much of in today’s main news outlets.  It is no less valid for that, as we all know.

That’s all for now, feel free to comment with your thoughts (agreeing or dissenting).  If there’s interest we’ll have a proper discussion of it.  :)

Drink of the Deep

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Swim in the sea. drink of the deep.
Embrace the mystery of all you can be.

The story behind those words is poignant, but the poetry speaks for itself. (Warning: the hyperlinks are to emotionally-stirring content. Guard your heart and mind before following them.)
I long to someday write such powerful poetry. Even more, I hope to live such powerful poetry.

written in memory and hope, for all those lost, loved, and missed

Why would a robot destroy itself?

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Watching a robot eat (or drink, in this case) until it dies is a disturbing, but valid, piece of art.  Coke plays a leading role in this artwork / video.

Why should you care?  Because this is a poignant commentary on today’s consumerism and where our “stuff” gluttony is taking us.  And because it’s fascinating watching a robot destroy itself.

On Mis-communication

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

I think this is one of my favorite comics ever.  The over-the-topness and understated-ness of it strike me just right.
See what happens when you don’t communicate clearly, then act like you’re clever (WARNING: this comic is somewhat violent).

Afraid of sharks? Jump in the water.

Monday, October 16th, 2006

I went camping with a group of guys from our church last weekend. It was great, but exhausting.

Saturday morning I jumped in the lake for a swim. None of the guys thought I would actually do it. Several of them couldn’t understand why I would do such a thing. It doesn’t seem that odd to me, but I guess I am a little … different. :)

Now to the point of the story: the entire time I was in the water, I was locked in a mental struggle. Some powerful part of my brain alternately yelled, threatened, cajoled, and pleaded with me to turn around and get back on solid ground. The reason? Well, I might be attacked by sharks!

I can hear you now – “but sharks don’t live in lakes”, you say. Ahh, yes, but this thought did not occur to me until a few hours after I was done with my swim. Strange, no? Either way, when I was swimming sharks were not my only fear. The fear was deeper, more primordial, than that. At times I wondered if giant snapping turtles would attack my legs, or some other “unknown” animal would pull me under.

The fear was strong enough that several times I ceased my freestyle stroke and actually turned back to shore. Never mind the fact that there was another shore not that far in front of me – no, that “flight” instinct actually caused me to physically, unwillingly turn around. I even started back to shore a few times.

At times I switched from freestyle to breast stroke, since freestyle screamed “too much thrashing! You’ll attract their attention!” I can’t say I ever conquered the fear. I grew tired rapidly, and the shore looked further away. I decided to turn around and get back to land. Funny how it seems so hard to get away from the shore, until you decide you want to go back.

This took a toll on me physically. I was already not in great shape. In fact the reason I was out there was to start my swim training for a half-triathlon. Somehow fighting that mental fear actually sapped my strength. This only served to strengthen the fear, as I knew I only had enough energy to make it back to shore, and was sucking wind. “If something pulls you under, you’ve got no chance of surviving” my fear warned me.

Surely by now you’re wondering, “why did you go swimming if you have this strong fear?”  Good question.  :)  Would it help if I say I’ve had this fear for as long as I can remember?  In fact, when I’m swimming in a pool I often face this same fear.

Would it make more sense if I say that I love swimming?  No?  :P  How about this: I love swimming under water, much more than on the surface – and preferably with my eyes open.  Yes, even in pools.

So, why do I subject myself to this fight with such an irrational fear?  I don’t know the exact answer.  I do know that I’m afraid of heights, and insist on climbing up high whenever I have the chance.  I’m also afraid of the dark, though strangely not as much as I used to be.  Sometimes when it gets strong, I go stand in the middle of a room with the lights out, and close my eyes.  I suppose I’m more confrontational than I ever thought I was.  All I know is the fear doesn’t necessarily get weaker when I face it down repeatedly – but my ability to continue functioning through the fear gets stronger.

I suppose one guess would be that I don’t like being controlled by fear.   Care to offer your opinion?  Or confess your secret fears?  I can’t be the only one with a completely irrational fear of sharks, can I?

It’s a Microsoft world – for these kids, at least

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Microsoft designs a High School – the jokes practically write themselves. Or would, if it weren’t kid’s lives we’re talking about here.

Seriously, though, I’m glad to see some innovation happen in schools, as the U.S. education system seems to be pretty weak right now.

I called Ticketmaster – and lived to regret it! (RANT WARNING)

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

Gahh! I just payed $93 and some sense (pun intended) to be abused, neglected, tormented, and ripped off!

Let’s go back over this, in the hopes that by telling my story here I won’t have nightmares or dreams of retribution for weeks to come.  I’ll start at the very beginning of my epic tale of woe, poor website construction, and vapid, money-sucking value-less middlemen…ehem…

We know we wanted to go see Audio A, as the band is doing its final tour.  We heard the advertisements on the radio, and after a few weeks decided to get tickets (even though Audio A isn’t the main act) because this is one of our all-time favorite groups.  So the easiest thing, we think, would be to go to the radio station’s website as they recommend, and find the details from there (104.7, The Fish is the station).   Unfortunately, this is the first of the poor web designs that I run into.  It took me awhile, but by being determined I do find a link to the concert of interest.

This leads me to iticket.com, where my frustrations really escalated.  You see, there’s a nice description of the concert – where, who, when – but that’s it.  It looks like a site that sells tickets, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication of how to buy tickets!  I click in vain, only to get bounced around to various sites that are all HAPPY to tell me what I already know about the concert, but NOTHING ELSE.  I even create an account and login to iTicket, thinking maybe then they’ll let me spend my money on the ticket, or at least give me a little more information.  Nope.  (I later discover, by diligent browsing, that some concerts do have tickets available online – just not, apparently, this version).
I do find a number on the Arena website for calling in to order a ticket, though it also has a link to ticketmaster, which leads me back to the same fruitless cycle as before.  Finally, I come to the conclusion that I’m not sure why I can’t do it online, but it must be easier to order by phone.  This is when I really get frustrated.

I’ve already seen reference to 2 classes of seats at the Arena, regular and “artist circle”.  What those areas consist of, and where I might find out more about them, though, takes a skilled internet surfer (me) quite a while to guess at.  I’m still not entirely sure.

Back to the phone-call:  First I yell at an automated system for about 2 minutes, before the automated system gives up at trying to find the concert I want.  Whoever is in charge of that system at Ticketmaster needs to dump it in the trash and start over – it didn’t even try very hard, and couldn’t understand a thing!  At least it finally passed me to a real person.

This person was able to book my tickets, but the experience was still horribly unacceptable.  First of all, she obviously was a trained telemarketer – and her first concern wasn’t helping me, it was ripping as much money out of my wallet as possible, then sucking any other value out of the remainder of my life.  Not that I think she was any happier about her script than I was, but that doesn’t make it any better.  The first thing she does is sell me the most expense tickets they have – fine, I can understand offering those first, but I had to drag any information about what other tickets they might have out of her.  Of course she knows nothing about the seats she’s giving me, and gives me the seats I’ll get and pricing breakdown so fast that I don’t catch any of it.  I can understand not knowing anything about the seats, but there was no chance for me to even verify information, ask a question, anything.  Ok, fine, Ticketmaster is trying to minimize the time each wallet – excuse me, I mean customer – takes to rip off, but at least pretend like you care!

Now gets to the meat of my problem with Ticketmaster:  She proceeds to offer me several confusingly worded possibilities to hang myself with.  For example, they’d like to spam me, call me, sell my information… you get the point.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that they didn’t just do all this without even asking, as many unethical companies do (*cough* AOL *cough*).  Still, had I not paid close attention, even asking the representative to repeat some of the questions, I would have certainly answered ‘wrong’ (though this would have suited Ticketmaster just fine).

In fact, they spent more time trying to sell me other stuff, or get permission to sell my information, than they did on the $93 I was spending.  And to top it off, they wanted an additional $2.50 to email me the tickets, when they print and snail-mail them for free!  Wha?!!

Alright, I’m not talented enough to fully convey my rage and anger at the companies involved in this service fiasco.  I certainly don’t want to waste any more of your time.  Let me sum it up as this:  If, in the future, I can at all avoid using Ticketmaster, you can be sure I will (even if this means an extra hour drive to the ticketbooth).  If I can’t avoid it, I may well just not go to the event.  The Arena at Gwinnett Center still has a chance to redeem itself, but my hopes are not high.

It seems we’re facing an epidemic of poor service and poor quality these days.  Make sure your company is not part of the trend.  Customers will practically throw money at you, if you can give them the opposite experience.

Mower Musings: The Short Edition

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

blades of grass can stop the most powerful motor – if they just stick together.

best Ubuntu apps, and clash in software philosophies

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

The ever-useful Ubuntu blog led me to a top-10 list on Ubuntu apps, posted on the also always-useful Lifehacker site. There was also a link from the Ubuntu blog to a write-up on the Washington Post.

There are some different views on software philosophy presented in the articles. I often see GNU/Linux users expressing this philosophy of “the CLI (Command Line Interface) method is better because …”, the truth is not so simple. I guess it depends on where you want GNU/Linux to go, though. I’m coming from the Windows world, yet fairly familiar with command-line, since I use it regularly at work. So in one sense I appreciate the power and speed of just typing in what I need done so that I can move on. I also love that if someone knows how to fix your problem, or wants to share an app, they can just say “type ‘blah blah blah’ and tell me what you see”. It’s much more definitive, powerful, and effective, not to mention faster, than trying to talk through a GUI (Graphical User Interface, which is what you stare at every day on the computer screen). At the same time, perhaps 80% of the commands are worthless to me long-term. I do too many varied tasks with the computer, and I want to enjoy and be effective in certain of those things. The best way to enable that? Eliminate the memory issue, by providing a GUI.
GNU/Linux – if you’re involved in Linux, you ought to read the attached link. I’ve seen the term GNU many times, knew what it stood for (GNU’s Not Linux), had some vague idea what it was…. I didn’t realize that what we mistakenly call Linux is really just the kernel, just one part of the whole GNU/Linux package. One thing I haven’t done is verified the facts in the linked article, so let me know if it’s actually wrong. Seems hard to imagine someone fighting that battle without the facts behind them, though.

Performancing and Myspace get together

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Performancing adds a MySpace Blog Editor – Who’da’thunk’it? On one hand, I’m thinking “yay Performancing“, great plugin, want to see them get more traction. On the other hand I’m seriously not too pleased with MySpace, and don’t want to see them get any bigger than they already are. On the third hand, this plugin may be one step needed to break the MySpace dominance…

Let me explain a little:

1. I didn’t understand MySpace at all, but I got a page anyways because two of my favorite bands were on there, Unsed and .heretoday.

2. I discovered there was no way to remove the ‘astrological sign’ junk on my main MySpace page. That’s just plain lousy and lame. On top of that, “TrueLuv” ads with scantily-clad women pulling at their skirts shows up every time I log in. You have no idea how much that ticks me off.
3. I discovered a few other people in my circle of friends, and since I had moved MySpace is the only way I would be able to keep in touch with them.

4. We had the neighbors over for dinner, and their son has a MySpace page. We discussed MySpace, because I still wasn’t getting why it was popular. Then it hit me as we talked – kids don’t care about any of the stuff I complain about. They just want to keep in touch with people, be cool, have friends.

The more I think about it, the more MySpace’s success makes sense. And it’s a little scary, because I don’t think the site is healthy – I think it’s a trap for our kids. Not that good can’t come of it, just that it facilitates evil far too easily.

But MySpace’s lead won’t be easily overcome. There’s no easy way to catch up with a friend network like that…