Friday, August 24, 2012

Fifty on Friday #5

What was with me last week? I guess I'm right, when I regularly say "brain no work good". Sure, it's usually because I've gotten tongue-tied, but an inability to remember that I'd scheduled a Fifty on Friday post seems to fit the bill just as well. That's what happens in the middle of an 8-day work week, with one of the shifts being a twelve-hour, right?

Anyway, less complaining and more question-answering, am I right? That's what you clicked forward for, so here you go!

#12: If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
"Run." Actually, I could probably think of something better than that, if I took the time. But, really, "run" is pretty good. Running keeps you in shape (or helps you get there, if you're me) and helps you get out of danger. I'd say that the best piece of advice that I can think of to offer would be something that everyone else accepts as a given. Something like "be yourself", or another crappy answer. How about you ask me this one again when I have a kid?

#29: Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?
It's funny that, after knowing of these questions since I decided in 2009 to eventually answer them, that I'm doing it now. Five years ago, I had just started working graveyard shift at the hotel, and it had only been two months since I'd been dumped. Not just a little dumped, but a lot dumped, by someone that I really thought things could work with. And somewhere in the neighborhood of "two months since", I found out she'd started dating her next boyfriend the same day that she dumped me.

None of that matters even a little bit, anymore. She and I are casual acquaintances (maybe "Facebook friends" would be a better term), and I've realized since then that the relationship was extremely unhealthy for me. Now, I'm in a healthy and happy relationship, and can see long-term potential in it. I haven't thought about That Ex in some time, save for thinking back five years for the purposes of this question.

Know what else I remember? August 20th, 2007 was a night off, I'm pretty sure. Three days training on hotel graveyard, one night off, then three nights on. I'm about 80% sure on that one.

#37: If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
Not right away. The first thing I'd do is finish paying off the last of my debt, which would take just a small amount of that million dollars. Then I'd buy the house that I'm in and get some small-but-necessary improvements taken care of, and pay the utilities for the next year. From that point, I'd invest whatever was left, and work for at least that year to have a bit more money saved up. Maybe then, I'd quit.

I'd still write, though. I'd do the work that I wanted, to keep myself busy and content. But working at Murphy's for more than a year or so? Nooooot happening.

#4: When it's all said and done, will you have said more than you've done?
I certainly hope not. If it was "all said and done" today, though, unfortunately I would.

#47: When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
Earlier today, after I went jogging. When I'm sick, I hear the rattling in my inward breathing that precedes a coughing fit. I tend to breathe a bit heavy, which my grandma says I always have. I can't remember what she said was the cause of it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tony Nicklinson

UPDATE: Within 48 hours of this writing, Mr. Nicklinson died of starvation after refusing to eat and contracting pneumonia. Rest in peace.

High Court rules that man must prolong his suffering rather than dying with dignity

It's not often that I get into politics on here. Actually, this might be one of the first times that I've written about sociopolitical issues on here. Regardless, when I saw the above post in my Google Reader feed the other day, I couldn't help but think about it. In time, I decided I'd write about it.

To paraphrase, for those who didn't read the link, an Englishman named Tony Nicklinson had a stroke in 2005, and was paralyzed from the neck down. He can't communicate via any means other than blinking, and wanted to have doctors end his life, rather than suffering, trapped in his body.

As that link above's title shows, the High Court said no. Quoting the Friendly Atheist article, "if doctors let him die before it's 'his time', they will be prosecuted".

This situation makes me think of a serious topic that I haven't really given thought to in a long time: euthanasia/assisted suicide/assisted dying, or whatever else you want to call it. A decade ago, when I was a religious teenager struggling to reconcile my faith's views on things with my own views, I was against euthanasia, for much the same reason that I would presume the High Court was -- sanctity of life, and everyone having a "time to die", all that crap. I considered it part of my belief system, even though I wasn't strongly against it; I said I was for religious reasons, but felt deep sympathies for those who truly were suffering.

Now that I've become aware of Nicklinson's sad story, it's given me pause to think on my stance these days. I'm not sure when it happened, but some time between now and a decade ago, my mind was changed. Maybe it's because I've dropped the religion, or maybe it's because I just feel too sympathetic for those like Nicklinson, who are doomed to die in long, drawn-out suffering, in a prison of a body. All that I do know is that I'm for assisted dying when the alternative is months, years, or even decades of the person's own personal hell-on-earth.

Thanks for putting up with a serious detour, and I hope it made sense, because it did in my head. I'll see you guys on Friday, right? :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fifty on Friday #4

I'm close to the halfway point, and enjoying this the more that I do it. These questions were actually answered on paper a couple of days ago, because these questions make me think more and more. I couldn't contain it this time, so I opened up the questions on my browser, and made a hand-written copy of this week's Fifty on Friday!

#34: Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
I think my answer to this is best communicated with a line from a song I can't stand: "We can be on the phone for three hours, not saying one word, and I would still cherish every moment". Even when Jynni and I don't say anything on the phone, or she ends up having to talk to her roommate or daughter about something while we're on the phone, I feel so at peace, so reassured by that presence on the other end of the line.

And it always feels like the best conversation we've ever had.

#35: Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
For me, the answer is two-fold. On one hand, violent conflict is (unfortunately) a part of human nature, which we will hopefully lose as we mature, both as individuals and as a society. Conflict can drive change, and change is good, but sometimes that change is through terrible, destructive means.

The second fault can sometimes lie within the religions themselves. In most religious that I'm familiar with, especially monotheistic religions, the deity (or deities) can be jealous and vengeful -- the Christian god floods the whole world when they fall away from their worship and into ways he decides are wicked, Zeus fucked everyone after overthrowing his father Cronus, and that's just the beginning. And it's because that's the way people can be, too. Followers who can't be content with differences of opinions and beliefs attempt to force change through destructive conflict.

#44: When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
Before it's too late. It's kind of a clich├ęd answer, to be sure, but that doesn't make it any less of a vali one. When it comes down to it, it's sometimes important to trust your instincts rather than your brain.

I'm very much a "what if...?" guy. I try to account for every negative possibility before I do something, just in case. Taking that slightly-neurotic point-of-view into account, it kind of amazes me that I've done some things -- like travel to New Jersey and crash on Matt's couch, when he could've been a serial killer planning to wear a Justin-style skinsuit. Or sharing a hotel room with Nate when he visited, even though he could've cut off my ear for some freaky Australian ear-necklace or something.

When your instinct tells you to go for something, sometimes it's a good idea to go for it. Stop wondering "what if?" and just do it.

#3: If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don't like and like so many things we don't do?
Time. And money.

It's really that simple, in some situations. When we do things we don't like, it's because we view them as necessities. I like having a roof over my head, so I work at Murphy's to pay rent, which is an unpleasant necessity.

As far as not doing things that we do like, that's where the "time" part comes in. We spend so much time dealing with those "necessities" that we don't make time for the things that make us happy. For a while, I described my days as "I work and sleep" when anyone asked, acting like that was all that I had time to do. Now, I include "writing" in that, because it makes me happy. I make time to really enjoy the music in my collection, too.

#48: What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
I'm kind of amused that this question followed the last. If we're going with "what" instead of "who", I'll forsake answers like "my friends and family", and go elsewhere...

I love the feeling of creating something new. It's part of why I write, and cook, and bake, and even part of why I've tried contributing to Karaoke Ring Of Death from time to time. When it comes to writing, I love my characters, even some of the darker, twisted ones. And music drives my everything.

As far as recent actions, the increased amount of writing I'm doing now, compared to even just a month or two ago, kind of speaks for itself. And I take some of my CDs to work to listen to some of the time, which has actually helped me find new and interesting people by who reacts well to the music.

'Avengers Academy' cancelled? NOOOOO!

Ever have something that you really look forward to? Comic book fans know what I mean, especially those who have been keeping up with Christos Gage's excellent series Avengers Academy.

Avengers Academy follows a group of new-ish characters around. They'd been tortured and tempted by Norman Osborn when he was in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which had then been changed to H.A.M.M.E.R.), and were initially recruited because they were the ones thought most likely to become villains if there was no intervention.

Gage has been doing a GREAT job writing it. I suppose I should be happy that we're getting 39 issues out of the series, especially since another favorite (S.W.O.R.D. -- Marvel Comics sure loves those acronyms...) was cancelled before the first issue was even out, only racking up a total of five that were released. Still, it doesn't mean that I have to be happy that one of my favorite things in the comics industry is getting the ax because of the reboot-that's-not-a-reboot known as Marvel NOW!

(If you're wondering where today's Fifty On Friday post is, I've just finished a 12-hour shift as I'm typing this at 2:30am. So, not having the brain cells to be all philosophical and shit)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fifty on Friday #3

I kind of slacked off on last week's post. There were obviously Very Important Things going on that prevented me from even pre-writing it and scheduling it. The most important of those VITs was spending time with Jynni, because the whole "long distance" thing means it will be a while before I can spend time with her again. Instead of this installment of Fifty on Friday, you got forced to endure treated to an amusing/embarrassing story!

Never fear, though, because I'm back with it this week, despite the fact that I'm missing the buttons for my shift keys. It's much more annoying trying to use the little nubs that the buttons were designed to press down on... I think I need to see about getting the keyboard on this netbook fixed.


#18: Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
Actually, as of this writing, I'm not. I've learned that holding grudges is kind of like letting someone live in your head, rent-free (thank you, Evil Wil Wheaton, for that analogy). Unless we're talking physical things, in which case there are probably a few things that I could do without, if I felt that getting rid of them was a necessity.

#17: What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What's holding you back?
The quick and easy answers to this would be "get tattooed" and "dye my hair unusual colors", both of which are being held back by finances. In the case of tattoos, it's because those bastards aren't cheap, and in the case of oddly-colored hair... that one is just because bosses in customer service tend to dislike that, and I can't really afford to have any workplace punishment meted out, like a write-up for dress code violation or something stupid like that.

The harder answer would be to tell my family, proudly, of my atheism. I've never been sure how they would react, and wouldn't want to lose those familial relationships, just by being a bit more socially liberal, and by not believing in anything. You can repeat the "if they'd hate you for it, why keep them around" rhetoric that I've heard a dozen times... they're still my family.

#32: If not now, then when?
This question's pretty appropriate for a few situations in my life, as well as for the above question. Most of the situations boil down to "when it's financially viable", and "when I haven't got as much of a burden on me". If you know my situation, you'll be able to intuit how those responses apply.

#9: To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
100% of what led me to where I am now, I had some modicum of control over. To quote one of my favorite teachers from high school, "The only thing you have to do is die. Everything else is just puzzling choices". Some of the choices had highly undesirable alternatives to what I chose, but still, it was a choice. I didn't have to move in and help mom out financially. I didn't have to wait until junior year to give a shit about high school, preventing me from graduating on time.

My entire life, both the good things and the bad things, is my fault. And I'm okay with that.

#45: If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
As a culture, we have an idea of perfection that we've burnt deep into our brains. Because of that, we associate mistakes with failure, and failure keeps us from perfection. Until we can get over that, nobody will want to make mistakes, even if they learn from them.

While I don't enjoy making mistakes, I've overcome that societal programming enough to learn to accept my mistakes. I try to use them to better myself, however I can. And I'm learning to reward myself for my successes, because I spent way too long being down on myself, and too harsh a judge of my mistakes.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A bit early...

It's great, the variety of things that kids will come up with. Since Saturday evening, I've been staying with Jim and Wendy and it's been a really good time. They're like family anyway, and now that I'm in a relationship with Jim's daughter, they've picked on me and acted like I'm actual family. Four days into the relationship, and Wendy has already made jokes that I can call Jim "Dad".

With that kind of humor flying around, it was only a matter of time until one of their kids asked a question that turned Jynni's face bright red. After dinner last night, their eight year old stopped her on her way out to join me for a cigarette and asked her, loud enough for everyone to hear (and completely serious), if she was going to get me an engagement ring.

I didn't hear the question, though. All I heard from my perch on the porch was quiet, and then roars of laughter. Jynni RAN out the door yelling "I will not entertain that question!", and came out onto the porch bright red to tell me the tale. Maybe I should point out that their eight year old doesn't always grasp the humor in jokes, but either way, it was hilarious. Four days in? Engagement is not on the agenda any time soon, and I think Jynni would agree.

There was loot to be had, though, from this quest for a relationship. At least until we see each other again, I have her giant d20, which she has affectionately named Colossus. And she stole my Dalek shirt, which was probably going to happen whether or not I got something of hers in return. I've turned her into a Whovian, so it is my punishment. It'll be nice to have something, to help with the long distance. Anyone want to drive me to the Tri-Cities area? :p