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29 November, 2009

Checked out till Christmas

Is it just because I'm not used to Thanksgiving "holiday" or does it always completely sap any energy left for working? It's Sunday evening now after the holiday and I'm frankly just ready to put my feet up...or rather keep my feet up till Christmas and maybe intersperse that with a few trips to CV for some stocking stuffers. There is at least full three weeks of work to get through so I need to buck it up and get my head down and hopefully I'll find the strength and determination as my alarm springs into life tomorrow morning.

In the meantime "Sunday Evening Allclick" will keep his feet up and let "Monday Morning Allclick" deal with the motivation problem.

27 November, 2009

Graffiti (With pictures!)

Graffiti - The plural of "graffito" (honest...look it up!) is perhaps the greatest oldest and greatest medium for sharing ones personal views to the rest of the world/bathroom. Although twitter has replaced it in the digital age there are still such gems as these to be found on..say..the men's restroom wall in the Waffle Hut in Flatwoods, WV.

I can't quite tell if this was written by one person who likes Obama and so wrote his name on a bathroom wall, or someone who hates or Obama and wrote his name and then put the line through it. Or was there a second scribbler who decided to add the line through and then try to scratch out the "A". He must dislike the President AND vowels.

The only other piece of graffito on the wall was this swastika and again I'm left wondering: Is it a man who doesn't like swastikas or simply sign in the same vein as "No smoking"?

24 November, 2009

More action, less thoughts

Last night laying in bed I sighed.

Life is a tricky little thing to master. I mean there is a lot to do with running an everyday life, paying bills, going to work, doing laundry, keeping the house tidy etc.. Add to that occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas and the whole Busyometer gets cranked up another notch. Not to mention if you have kids or pets or other family members living with you. Oh, and don't forget to make time for your friends and have some sort of social life that exists outside of the telemaphone and computermagig. Of course we should remember to also have our free time activities. Things we do to relax or unwind after a hard day of...well, modern life I suppose.

I sighed last night because I read a saying that "The universe rewards actions, not thought" and pondered on how very true that statement is. While I do complete a lot of actions each week just living through life, I have many more thoughts about things I could be doing. Things that I would enjoy doing but take some extra effort, time and planning to accomplish.

I sighed again just now reading a saying on a blog that basically said that "when I die I will be happy because I know I used all the talents that I was given" and I wondered if I really was using all my talents and really pushing myself to use all of my potential. In the end, I suppose, that is what separates the brilliant and noteworthy from the average and forgotten.

(Tweet version of this blog post: OMG. Just read sayins bout using ma talents LOL Am so lazzee!!!11)

20 November, 2009

Notes from a conference

Just some observations and musing about a conference I was away at this week:

1. I can't stand smarmy business guys who hang out at the hotel bar late at night, talk loudly and laugh louder, are still dressed in their work shirts and then walk around like they own the place. Give it a rest fellas and stop trying to pretend that you hang out at bars all the time and not just when you are away from the wife and kids for 3 days a year at a conference.

2. Speaking to strangers sounds better in practice than in reality. People are weird.

3. Speech Pathologists seem to be very angry people.

4. If a presenter has to read everything on their powerpoint out loud then they should reconsider presenting.

5. Free coffee and muffins should be a must.

6. Seats that are uncomfortable after 30 mins are not any more comfortable after an hour and 15 minutes.

7. Smart/Business casual does not equal "Jeans and a tee".

8. All hotels should have free wifi or at least a reasonable rate i.e. not $9.95 a day.

9. A presentation doesn't have to have humour in it. But it sure helps.

16 November, 2009

Transformers 2: Movie in disguise

If you have 2 and half hours and really enjoy large robots beating the crap out of each other then Transformers 2 is for you. It's basically 180 minutes of CGI and Shia Labeouf looking annoyed and shouting a lot.

If, however, you were actually expecting a film (i.e. plot, story, character development, themes, direction, acting) then I would save your money. You won't find any of that here.

11 November, 2009

Robbed by a New Yorker

Yesterday morning I awoke, stared bleary-eyed at my phone and checked my emails. Apparently, an apple wakes you up more than a cup of coffee in the morning. Yesterday morning an email telling me that my bank account was below the watch amount I had set up on it woke me up faster than apple flavoured coffee with a shot of red-bull. I rushed downstairs to check my account. Did I really have less than $50 in my account? Had I spent that much already this month?
My account loaded up and it turns out I DID have less than $50 in my account. Less than $20 in fact. Less than $0. I actually had $-700 in my account.
"How queer" I thought to myself mildly bemused. "Must be a banking error."

Ok. I didn't actually think that. I thought "Where the **** is my money?". Turns out I must have sleep walked to NY and spent the whole lot. I apparently sleepwalked straight into Gap Kids. Twice. Spending over $200 there. Then I decided that Staples was next. $200 there too. I must have bought a metro card too and enjoyed various other stores around the NY area.

There were two major clues that tipped me off that perhaps it wasn't me sleep walking.

1) I didn't have any of the cool baby clothes and staples products you would think I would have.
2) I had somehow managed to be in Gap Kids at the same time that I withdrew money from an atm in West Virginia.

So you can imagine I am not a happy bunny today.

What made it worse is that I had SPOKE to the bank two days ago reporting a problem with my card. "Hmm I don't see any problems sir" they told me "must just be a faulty card". A faulty card?? Your telling me! So my own bank couldn't tell that it was being used to run up hundreds of dollars in another state even though I was putting the physical card into ATMs in WV?? What a joke. And how were they able to run me into so much debt without triggering any alarm bells at my bank or declining any transaction? Depending on how it goes at the bank tomorrow will determine whether I stay with them or not.

There is one thing the bank was able to do incredibly effectively. Charge me $34 for 7 different overdrawn transactions. Thank you!

09 November, 2009

Learning a skill

Have you ever thought about how you ended up knowing how to do so many things? Do you remember learning to tie your laces for the first time? Riding a bike? Driving a car? Those were pretty tricky at first but I bet you didn't do it alone, right? I know that I didn't. In fact, I find it difficult learning new skills on my own. I do much better when I see someone else showing me what to do. Not just telling me or talking me through but actually showing me. I tend to learn the best that way and pick up the skill a lot faster.

It's probably why I am terrible at writing computer programs or flash animation. The only instruction I have had is through reading tutorials and never actually had someone explain the subtle parts that can effect the learning of all that new information. I have the motivation I just don't have the skills and the right instructor.

As we become increasingly dependent on technology I wonder for how long we will actually have human instructors for any skill. Let's take something like how to wash a car. In under 5 minutes I can find a dozen websites or slideshows or videos instructing me how to wash a car, be more efficient and get better results. There was no social interaction, no father-son/mother-son bonding that took place. Just 5 minutes of searching and 5 minutes of reading and now I know a little more about how to wash a car.

I wonder if all information will eventually end up being relayed this way. Will parents simply be caretakers rather than instructors on life skills? Telling their kids to "look it up" if the kids don't know? Or perhaps worse, told "Just pay someone else to do it for you".

Watching The Matrix I always loved that part when Neo is plugged into the machine and he learns how to fight in a million different styles. I used to think learning that way would be great. I just plug myself into my laptop and bam! I know Chinese. But in doing so I've missed out on that bond between instructor and learner. I missed out on overcoming difficulties, building on successes and gaining self-esteem from accomplishing a difficult goal. I've missed out on a lot of great and painful opportunities and taken the easy route.

My best example of this is probably learning to shave. I grew up with my mother and two brothers. My older brother wasn't likely to help me out any so I basically had to learn how to do it myself. I would watch closely and pay attention if it was featured on tv. I remember Homer showing Bart how to shave, cutting himself several times and applying small bits of tissue paper to his face. But I also just asked my friends about it. Especially those who obviously had had to start earlier than me. I would learn from their mistakes or success and then go home and improve. Growing up now I could have looked it up but is that really better in the long run?