Boredom at work strikes again!

I am as much a fan of killing time as the next person.  Heck, some days I slaughter it for hours on end.  I enjoy the occasional trashy novel, I revel in the occasional b-movie.  Heck, half my days are spent playing endless games of Scrabulous!

However, I am not what you would call a TV fan.  I do enjoy occasional shows that I make an effort to watch.  The Pretender, as some of you may know, was one of them.  Still, I don’t have ‘a show’ that I always watch every season.  If I happen to be flipping and come across something interesting, sure I’ll stick around and watch.  And I know most people find it soothing after a long day at work to relax in front of thier favorite program.  But I don’t really have long days at work, so I skip the soothing stuff.

Of course, it is occasionally difficult when I am hanging out with my peers-of-the-office and they ask the inevitable questions.  Did you see House last night?  No.  Can you believe what happened to *Barney* (Or whoever) on Lost?  I didn’t see it.  I’m so excited about the new season of Heroes!  Um, ok.  What’s you’re opinion of the writer’s strike – do you think it will ever end?  There’s a strike?  Bully for the writers!

I mean, I do get that people really like this stuff.  It’s kinda like me and most sports.  Except for football, which is the Devil.  I get why people like most sports – really I do.  And occasionally when it’s on, I get caught up in a game of something and get excited!  But I would never  hunt down a sports channel or pay for those season tickets.  It just doesn’t appeal to me enough to go out of my way for it.  I guess that’s why I’ve never understood fantasy leagues or whatever.

But, as I was browsing the MIT today, I discovered this.  What’s that, you say?  A combination of reality television and the fantasy guessing of who will be voted off next?  It’s the greatest idea since bank-by-phone!  I did check out the actual website (which I’m not posting a link to so you have to visit MIT to find it for yourself.  Ha.), and it’s pretty cool.  I was very disappointed to see there was no American Gladiators listing, however.  I intend to speak to someone about that.  Immediately.

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Scrabulous Update

So, my ‘Amazing New Features’ announcement on facebook now says this:

Scrabulous Update! Hi folks 🙂

We are really grateful to the entire Scrabulous community for the exceptional support that has been provided. It is amazing to see that a small application has touched so many people across the world! There has been a lot of speculation about the future of Scrabulous and it is currently impossible for us to comment on this matter. However, like always, we shall update you as soon as we can.

In the meantime, please click here to enjoy a song created by an anonymous Scrabulous fan. 🙂

Best Regards,
Rajat & Jayant

What this means about the future of my Scrabs, I cannot say.  Still, it’s vaguely disturbing…

The Dimmest and the Brightest

Every day, I wonder a little more about the human race.  I wonder how we haven’t killed ourselves off as a species through sheer stupidity.  And I’m not talking about climate change or pollution or anything that takes time to measure.  I’m talking about sheer lemming jump-over-the-cliff stupidity.  I myself have fallen victim to the crime of not questioning my environment at times, and knowing myself and my mental faculties, it really is a wonder that we haven’t all already jumped over that cliff.

But there are solutions.  One of them, Snopes, is a website dedicated to keeping you and me from being stupid.  It’s all about urban legends, and what they aren’t.  If you’re feeling dumb about something, it’s a good place to go for a self-esteem boost.  Some people thought Mister Ed was a horse!  That’s almost as dumb as black and white TV!

And if you’re feeling like you really need to expand your horizons, you can always learn something fun.  For example, how to make an artificial limb.    This is useful in case Snu is marooned on a  desert island and her leggy is carried off by monkeys – then she can make a new one from coconuts.  Or, if you have some time to prepare (and a laboratory), you can make yourself a bulletproof vest.  I already feel smarter, and I haven’t even made anything yet!  Also I love that the site with all this stuff is madehow.co.  Aren’t we clever?

Continuing in the Mystery

Yesterday I had an interesting and moving faith experience at church.  That sounds a little odd almost – a faith experience at church.  Duh.

The 20s/30s group, which I moderate, was supposed to meet and eat and discuss our faith experience after church.  I was dreading the discussion, on those moments in our lives that we have been sure that God existed, or conversly that there was no God.  While this is an interesting idea at some level, there are a number of problems with it.  First, it assumes that you’ve had such an experience or such a moment.  second, it precipitates discussion of a certain type of event – probably a powerful moment in your life, some sort of irrevocable event – rather than addressing some of the more rational aspects of belief.  Third, it can lead to a discussion of ‘Jesus Saves’ moments that I occasionally find disturbing.  If you find your faith because some stranger whose identity was never discovered rescued you from your burning house, that’s great.  I wish you well with your faith.  But for me personally, it’s difficult to find comfort in a God who saves a few from misfortune and perishes the rest.

But the discussion was not that – it was much better.  I heard stories of many paths, all with a consciousness of still being on a journey, of not being settled into a routine of faith but still exploring.  I heard one woman’s experiences with a more modern church and their rock-style service, and of the power of seeing that and other’s joy and excitement for it, but still not feeling it for herself.  Wanting it, but not feeling it.  I heard a man’s experience with the churches in his area, each one telling him what he shouldn’t do and what he shouldn’t believe, rather than giving that example of what he should do.  I heard another woman speak of her experiences with her mother’s Christian Scientist faith, and her own conflicting emotions around that; and another speaking of her struggles to balance between a Christian college where she felt she did not belong, and her somewhat atheist home environment, which she returned to in a struggle to protect what she believed.

Most importantly what I  heard about was power.  not the power of manipulation, or control, or financial power, but some sort of ‘faith charisma’, some sort of spiritual or emotional draw.  There is an idea for many people, Christian or not, religious or not, of a certain attraction.  Many of the people who discussed with us yesterday told a story of returning, often in times of doubt or grief, to a church environment.  And that is one type of statement on humanity, the way we reach out for comfort from each other when troubled.  But there was a story – most people continue to go to church or to practice a faith or religion after they’ve had a traumatic experience.  Is this simple human habit?  Perhaps.  But I also think there is a draw towards spiritual and religious practice that overcomes the negative aspects of organized religion.  I think it is best described as the way one non-Christian spoke of her attendance at a church.  She had gone at first to help get through the loss of a close friend, thinking she would no longer attend after that period of grief.  But she still attends, though that period is long past, and she’s not quite sure why.  But there was something here – some indescribable thing was attracting her to come, something she was getting out of the experience that she couldn’t quite define.

I know a lot of agnostics and a lot  of atheists and a lot of people who just don’t believe or find the idea of organized religion too fraught with strife and negative history.  And there are many, many terrible things that have been done in the name of organized religion.  There is nothing necessarily wrong in decrying religions or in having a more general belief in something bigger out there.  Personally I don’t think it means you’re going to hell, though many would probably disagree with me.  But this is not what I believe, and I’ve often struggled with why I continue to be a Christian in the face of the many flaws of Christianity.

There is a religious leader, I think a rabbi, who has a famous quote about immersing yourself deeply in faith.  I am going to mangle it, and I apologize, but the idea is one I respect and helps explain a bit of my own faith.  His idea regards the importance of deeply embracing a faith, practicing it deeply, and truly exploring it.  He says it doesn’t matter what that faith is.  And this is a powerful and good idea in my mind.  But it gives another question: why?  If I have respect and understanding of multiple faiths (which I think I do) what makes it better to embrace one over others?  And how do I choose?  I love and hate these questions of faith, because they confuse and disturb me, but without them I would stagnate.
There are those who say it’s impossible to truly understand other faiths when your thoroughly engrossed in one, but I don’t agree.   I feel awe in a Buddhist temple just as I feel awe in a great cathedral.  They are both sensations that are unquantifiable, and I would probably have that same feeling of awe whether I was a Christian or not. I would have the same respect for the faith of others if I was Christian or not.  I would probably have the same moral code and act in the same way if I was Christian or not, though I would like to think I do good things now because of a sense of affection for God.  But there are things I would miss, not being a Christian.  I would never walk into a strange church on a Sunday morning and pick up my little hymn book and know that these people were my people.  I would  never speak in time with others and feel the words swelling beneath me like a wave.  I would’ve walked out of my home this morning with the sun on my face and my cheeks red with the icy wind and my breath puffing and not known who to thank.  I might even think and think and think and not quite hear anymore that voice deep inside me that says, ‘Wait.  Rest.  It’s ok to just be for a moment’.  And for better or worse, that’s too much of a loss.

Amazing New Features Coming Soon!

In my quest to love Scrabulous till the day it dies, I have been very disturbed of late when using their Facebook app. Those of you who know and love Scrabulous already may be aware of the recent controversy surrounding Hasbro’s suit against the inventors/propagators of the Scrabulous software.

Of late there has been a message on theFacebook app claiming that new features are coming.  Now, it doesn’t say what, and it doesn’t say when, but it surprises me that the two developers would be working like crazy to develop new features for a game they may be forced to shut down permanently in not too long.  I have great fear that the ‘new features’ may end up being the freezing of the site.

Hanging with my Gnomies

I, at the moment, am at a slow point of day with nothing much to do and no ambition to do any more ‘real’ writing.  I asked a friend for a little topic help.  He said I should write about gnomes.

As I am, even late in the work day on a Friday, a dedicated writer, I decided I would at least do a little research.  Lo and behold, I discovered gnomes were not only little earth elementals living underground, but also an entire computer ‘graphical interface’.  For free!

I am referring to GNOME (pronounced Ga-NOME) which is a collaborative effort to collect all the software you need under free licensing.  Basically the idea is to promote user-driven development of software and related stuff and to re-offer it to the larger public across the globe.  Kinda cool, thinks me.

But there are other sides to this word of wonder –  there are also ethical groups concerned with issues that America was founded on – freedom, and equal protection under the law.  Sites like this one help ensure that protection for our gnomen brethren.  And whether you consider them peaceful dwellers of the northern forest, or dirty earth grubbers who hoard their cash, they certainly are ripe for persecution.

While I still haven’t written anything, I have learned a lot.   Gnomes rule, little red hats or no.

Urban Caving and the Oven Glove

After noticing this post online, I decided to do a little digging into this ‘new trend’ known as urban caving or urban exploring. Wikipedia has a pretty complete article, if you’re interested in learning more yourself. And it’s nice that this idea of really looking at our buildings and built structures appeals to me. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in, just seeing how all the spaces fit together, even if they aren’t meant for human habitation. Maybe especially if they aren’t meant for human habitation.

The idea of UE that really got to me is examining our history through the remnants of built structure.  It’s an almost archaeological sensation, like visiting a ruin or a sacred space of past ages.  I can remember climbing up into the attic of our church in my teens, watching the light filter down over various stored boxes and old church school supplies.  There was something magical and maybe a little spooky about it, like an abandoned building or a cabin sitting empty and alone in the woods.

In addition, there’s the excitement of exploration.  This I’ve seen most actively at college, both at the one I attended and the one I am currently employed by.  Higher educational institutions, with their array of buildings, comfortable nooks, and display areas for various departments and groups, are prime for non-trespassing exploration, simply because even the private instituions often open thier doors to the public at large.  There are some restrictions, of course.  At my alma mater, WUSTL, every building except the U College, where night classes were held, was locked down at 5 pm.  If you didn’t have the right security clearance, you weren’t getting in.  This was a bit frustrating for me at times as a major in Architecture and minor in Composition – I had full access to the Architecture building, but none to Language Arts.

Security is not so tight at my current employer, which I will henceforward refer to as the “Oven Glove” to protect the innocent.  The Oven Glove has no such wide-ranging security.  Offices and some classrooms are locked up, but mostly with physical locks only rather than any sort of electronic system.  I’m sure the labs are adequately protected, or else we’d be losing much more money to theft.  Still, the Oven Glove is basically an open campus.  Which means, while I haven’t nearly explored it to completion, I have found a few niches of my own already.  As an active member of the Oven Glove community, I look forward to finding more.

The Perils of a REAL JOB

For those of you who don’t know, my job is mostly boring.  I spend the majority of my days online, interspersed with answering the phone when it rings, opening the mail, and maybe running a few copies if necessary.  There are occasional projects for my boss, some of which I actually enjoy, but really there’s not that much for me to do.  Which is a little annoying, considering everyone around me at the office is so busy and pressured.  But that changes for a period of about 2 weeks every quarter with our Board meetings.

I get to be in charge of editing and compiling the reports on everything we’ve done for the past quarter.  This includes all the financials as well as the written documentation explaining our decision-making process in depth.  I love this part of my job.  I get to do a little bit of editing, and a little bit of layout and design to make things pretty.  And these are all things I’m good at.  Sure, it can be a little grueling to shift gears from extreme down-time to super work overdrive.  And my writing certainly suffers during this period because my free time at work is gone.  But it does really break up the monotony, and I enjoy that.

So today is the beginning of the end.  It marks the first part of my two-week disconnect from my usual lackadaisical work attitude.  Probably my blogging will go down, as will my Scrabulous scores.  Still, without a little actual work once and awhile, I probably would be someplace else now.

Dumb and OOOHHH!

On my daily commute, I have a distinct pattern.  I knit on the bus, read on the train, and listen to music while I walk.  Occasionally though there is an interruption in this pattern, most notably for NaNoWriMo in November and related editing.  Still, its’ a comfortable pattern for me.  The music is enough of a distraction while I walk to keep me from thinking too hard – various trees already bear the scars of a Stacey face-plant, and I’m trying to be more environmentally conscious.

The knitting thing is a little awkward though.  I always wonder if people are staring at me, the random knitter.  On the bus it’s easier cause I always get a seat,  and there is at least one other knitter girl on my bus occasionally.  But still, it’s a bit unusual.  And a little more unusual when people ask weird questions.

The guy sitting next to me today – attractive, well-dressed, and maybe a little young – commented as we were getting off that I’d ‘made a lot of progress’.  I am not a particularly fast knitter, so my response was probably lukewarm and my facial expressions even more so.  Still, he ventured further to ask if I was knitting or crocheting.  And I responded politely – it’s always nice to have the attention of an attractive guy, even if he is young and a little dumb.  Does anybody really not know the difference between knitting and crocheting?  It’s almost as bad as one of my old bosses finding it inconceivable that someone might know what ‘shoals’ are.  Are we spending any money on advertising our dumbness?

Evidently my  distain must’ve colored something about my response, because he claimed he was just curious and wouldn’t talk to me again after that.  Oops.  I’m such a meanie, but I don’t mean it!  Really!

But since I was thinking about knitting – and grandma skills in general – I was happy to have found this little post.  While I think the  Janome MemoryCraft 4900QC is a little out of my league for the moment, it leaves something to be considered for the future.  A gazillion installed stitches and 50 that you can create and save?  And it includes all the accessories?  Dude.  High-tech, here I come.

Oh my WUSTL Archies!

I may not know what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I’m pretty sure of a few things I don’t want to do.  One of the primary ones it took me three years to realize was architecture.  I do not want to be an architect.  Sure, someday I may do something involving architecture or design.  I do have some knowledge and experience in those areas.  However, I will never spend the time or effort needed to become certified as an Architect.

Still, there are times when I wonder what my life would have been like if I had stuck it out and become certified.  Times when I see new products and buildings and I think “Oh cool,” or “I could do that!”  One of those times was yesterday, when I discovered this article.  In looking through some of the furniture, I was fondly reminded of my sophomore days in studio, when I too had the chance to design cardboard furniture.  For those of you not in-the-know, it’s uncomfortable.  Room-saving, trendy, and recyclable, yes; but also pokey in all the wrong places.

Still, it brought to my mind an important question – why aren’t I a designer?

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