Posts Tagged random

Trips I’d Like To Take

Is summer finally here?  I understand the solstice is still almost two weeks off, but the weather in Seattle has taken a nice turn for the sunny, and my thoughts turn to travel.  Where do I want to go this summer, assuming I can convince people to join me and/or decide to go on my own?

  • Water park. I *loved* going to Great Wolf Lodge last year with a crew of fun-loving, mildly immature and totally awesome adults.  Repeat?  Even just spending a day or two at Wild Waves would be a-okay by me.
  • Las Vegas. I kinda sorta wanted to organize a group to go to Vegas for my birthday, but since I instead was able to go to Puerto Rico, I put that plan on the backburner.  Still, haven’t been in a while, and would really like to go!
  • California [beach]. Obviously I love visiting California (already have a trip planned early-August to visit my sis and parents in San Francisco), but I do really enjoy spending a day at the beach, and no beaches are finer than the ones I grew up with, in Cal.  Maybe another trip to L.A., maybe a more vacation-y trip to San Diego?
  • New York. I’ve been sloshing this one around in my head for a while, but there are a large number of folk (my cousins, my aunt and uncle, friends from college and friends from high school) who live on the East Coast and who I therefore never see anymore.  I’d like to make this a trip to NY with a rental car, so that I can cruise around and visit lots of people — but maybe that means a week or more of vacation…
  • Vancouver. I keep hearing great things about it, and I want to take the train (which I hear ads about, but also which I think I’d really enjoy).  This also seems like a weekend trip I can bully friends into taking with me.

Time to lay out a calendar and my finances and see what’s possible!

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Secret Fears

If I’m being honest with myself, I would say I have a lot of things to work on.  But, more than that, I am so afraid at facing these inadequacies that it’s hard to focus long enough to make any progress.  Also, one of the dangers of thinking so much is getting stuck in an internalized loop, analyzing the same things over and over and never getting anything out of it.

  • I’m afraid I don’t know how to get from knowing a woman I’m attracted to, to being in a relationship.  Like, the steps in between.  This is likely from inexperience and over-prediction (see yesterday).
  • I’m afraid I can’t really change who I am.  I can decide to change aspects of myself, and that works out okay, but what if there’s something I really want to alter and I can’t?
  • I’m afraid I am sabotaging myself from becoming the more ideal me because I have too many fears like this (a bad one!)

In the end, my most effective technique for combating these has been to just be more spontaneous, act before thinking, and trust in my (admittedly poor, sometimes) instincts.  What does that say about my pride in being a logical, analytic person, I wonder?

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Prediction and Projection

I just got back from my date (yes, that’s why my blog is late) and it went well.  Not spectacularly, but well.  I hope we go out again! :)  Sorry, Eric, no essay quite yet!

The topic that was on my mind today was how humans are insanely good at projection – that is, putting ourselves in the place of others.  It’s why we are so naturally empathetic.  But more than that, humans are actually very good at making predictions (not necessarily being right about them, I guess, but that’s not the point)… and predictions are sort of like projections into the future.  I tend to trip myself up by putting too much thinking time and stock into these predictive plans.

Here’s an example – say that there’s a girl I like.  Rather than do the obvious, intelligent thing, and just live in the moment, I set up these imaginary possible futures in my head.  How would a relationship with this girl be?  What would life be like? etc.  I get so wrapped up in what things could be like that I forget to (or can’t) spend energy on what things are like.  This bites me time and time again, one of the major liabilities of being such a thinker, and you’d think I’d learn, but I don’t – and I think part of the reason is that it’s natural to default to exercising this powerful skill of prediction even if it’s emotionally negative.

My temporary (outer self to change the inner self?) solution is to be more spontaneous.  For example, I jumped in the Seattle Center fountain tonight during the date.  I was walking and thinking “man, I kinda want to jump in that fountain” and then, well, did.  She laughed and we bonded a bit over it, I think it was overall positive. :)  So that’s progress!

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Pre-Review: The Lightning Thief

I had this urge to read the last Harry Potter book the other day, probably because I got the 6th movie on my iPad for the Puerto Rico trip, and therefore I was ready to complete the series again.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but basically I inherited this bug where I just can’t sleep if I have a book I am interested in reading, I just stay up reading.  This has not been a great week for that sort of behavior, though – man, have I been tired!

But that’s not what this blog is about!  This blog is about how when I was shopping for a new 7th Harry Potter book (because I can’t find my old one, and I needed it in paperback anyway), I was also browsing the “young reader’s fantasy/sci-fi” section, because a lot of those books are pretty interesting.  I picked up the first in the “Percy and the Olympians” series (you may have seen the movie, but I didn’t!) and so far, I have been liking it.

I don’t know, there’s this quality to younger-people books that is really appealing.  I guess they focus a bit more on tone and theme, which I appreciate, even when it’s pretty heavy handed.  I also (apparently) don’t appreciate good prose, so that’s a bonus too, because those kinds of books also lack the good prose. :)

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Back to Plan: Project Dave Style

The busy-ness at work continues, and I don’t see an end in sight yet, but we’ll see — at least (maybe) there will be a weekend in the future!

I got one of the emails sent by my past self – a clever, sneaky guy, Past Dave – that was reminding me of my vow to practice the guitar.  Wait, what vow?  Well, you see, I got a guitar in 2006 and since then I have had a system (43things, to be exact) reminding me every once in a while that I committed to practicing the guitar.  Have I been doing so?  No, I have not.  Sort of a shame, I liked strumming and singing along with the starts of songs I liked.  I haven’t really had the energy to get a schedule going on that.  Mick told me once the easiest way to get myself into doing it is to get a guitar stand so that it’s just sitting out there, waiting for me when I get home.  I may go searching for said stand this weekend.

Back to the plan, though, of getting some project going this month.  I’ve already basically used up a third of it, but a lot of that was work crushing me.  I have basically decided that a self-improvement activity alone is no good – I want to be able to have something (other than my improved skills) to show for my effort at the end of the month.  Rather than enumerate the things I could do, I decided I would write up the goals for my activity and then apply those goals to finding a good solution:

  • I want to do something active; as in, not just sitting at a computer (I do that all the time anyway!)
  • I want to have something to show for my effort.
  • I want to do something that can benefit more than just me.
  • I want to work on something that necessitates a routine, since I need more routine in my life. (Seriously!)

Hmmm… a construction project (of some sort) might be the way to go, actually.

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Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday

Wow today was busy.  I wish I was exaggerating when I say this is the first time today where I feel like I can really sit down and write a blog, but it’s basically true.  I guess I could have not socialized at lunch, but other than that brief period of time, I was booked up.

It began with an early morning and work on this new website, trying to get it ready to look at by this afternoon’s meeting.  The website, of course, is launching essentially Thursday and hasn’t had any QA eyeballs on it at all.  Fun!  In the midst of that, I had some design pow-wow with Ken, Brian and Mark, and then a chat with a different Mark about long-term job thoughts.  Pile on the second project, another website, in the last throes of bug zaps before it gets sent out the door, and you can see why I wanted a break for foods.

Post-lunch was a blessedly short Magic R&D update meeting, which dovetailed nicely into my back-to-back-to-back meetings on Gatherer imports, the afternoon meeting for the to-be-launched website (at which we did not look at said website, merely talked about it), and then rushing to home with carpool buddy Peter to feed Max, and getting over to Bellevue just in time to play cards with the Community Cup participants in town this week.

Whew!

I did not have time to look up places to eat for Friday’s date, nor did I have time to do my soon-to-be-overdue expense report.  There’s always tomorrow!

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Review: Prince of Persia

Went out to see Prince of Persia: Sands of Time last night with awesome folk as kind of a postdated birthday celebration, and I wanted to get my thoughts down.  I think I liked it overall – I am kind of a sucker for video game movies anyway, and despite its failings (which I’ll get into in a moment), it was an enjoyable watch.  I personally wanted more time manipulation because I am a time-control-junkie, but since it was an essential part of the plot, it figures they wouldn’t be able to use it as much as I wanted.

The biggest complaint I have about the movie is one Zac brought up, that the characters’ dialogue was all about telling the narrative, and when dramatic moments were attempted, they fell kind of flat.  It was cheesy, but I don’t really mind that — in fact, had it been a tad cheesier, it would have been waaaaay better!  As it was, it was straddling this strange line of humor/drama between Shrek and Lord of the Rings and it didn’t quite satisfy.  I guess that’s the danger of making these four-quadrant films that are supposed to appeal to young and old, male and female.

The action of the movie was satisfying overall – a very video gamey feel, very appropriate.  There were even a few homages to the Prince of Persia style “parkour”/puzzle games in some of the cinematography.  The acting was pretty flat – I was not feeling chemistry between the male and female leads, which is too bad, because they were both hot!  Uh, I mean… no, I guess that’s what I mean. :)

I would recommend this movie to anyone who (1) enjoys video games, specifically Prince of Persia (obv), and (2) doesn’t have critical film expectations for it – you just want to have a good time.  Which we did!

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Is Sentience Superior?

When I wrote about whether one could balance 10 lives against 1, John had a very interesting point in the comments about the viewpoint that sentient life is special and therefore superior to other forms of life / nonliving environments — and he felt pretty strongly that it was a BAD idea to believe this was true.  I want to speak a bit more about the role of sentience in my head.

Why is sentient life special?  Well, I believe it is because it is different from everything else.  That is, a person who can think and choose is different from an automaton, and also different from an animal.  Right away, if you believe humans are NOT different from automatons / animals (e.g. there is no free will or agency, and humans are just biomachines), we differ in fundamental assumptions.  John said in his comment that he thinks humans are another step on the evolutionary ladder – something to which I agree but which I also think doesn’t tell the whole story. I have a hard time comparing sentience (self-awareness and free-willedness) to a hypothetical other quality; I suppose there could be an equivalent alien quality that deserves special treatment to sentience but is not itself sentience, but I can’t imagine it.

(My friend Will also commented on Facebook about how he believes sentience is a spectrum, to which I also mostly agree – I just define a “sentient being” along that spectrum past a point that is not arbitrary; it corresponds to being free-willed and “sufficiently” self-aware, which is of course the point of contention!)

Just being different is not really good enough to talk about superiority – but there is another question to which the answer might give weight to the “superiority of sentience”: in what way is sentient life different than other life in its capabilities and actions?  The more sentient an entity is, the more organized and capable of self-organization it is, and the more capable it is of willfully fighting entropy and the tendency of the universe toward disorder.  I think this is a worthy ideal – fighting against entropy.  In doing so, we create amazing experiences and things and shape the universe for the better.  Yes, sentient beings are also even MORE capable of destruction, but that’s to be balanced against their greater capability for creation.

I don’t advocate letting humanity (or any other sentient race) using up the environment or other nonsentient species for their own benefit, but I do in some sense subscribe to a “greater good” theory that is sentient-centric.  If anyone is capable of understanding their own impact on others, it’s a sentient lifeform – and therefore it is for sentient lifeforms to judge each other on their impact and by the ideals they work toward together.

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Change Gears

I decided the emotional exploration could wait, because (1) returning from a trip puts me into an ennui-ish mood anyway, and it would be better if I focus on something active rather than passive (like writing up my emotional state) and (2) I want to explore a plan-of-action with my blog soon before I lose nerve!

So, new theme.  This month is going to be Project Dave – I’m going to search for a project to do that’ll enrich me as a person.  Right now I’m considering volunteer work, and I’m going to go a’searching tonight and tomorrow and write about that.  It could also end up being a jumpstart for research into a business idea I had, and/or maybe a “change self” project (like a self-makeover, I guess?).  On that last one, the self-makeover, I think I’d need to sit down and really lay out my goal for such an endeavor, because off the top of my head, I know what I’d like to CHANGE (too analytical, don’t have much personal style, out of shape) but not completely sure what I’d want to BECOME.  Ooh, and another possibility is starting to learn to dance!  Also, build something, which I can never seem to pull through on.

If you have ideas for a project I could do (start) over the course of this month, let me know!

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Audience Determines Attitude

Shorter post today, since I am crunched between finishing up the Pro Tour coverage for San Juan (grats to one of my favorite Magic writers, Paulo Vitor, for his win!) and the always-lovely staff dinner, and because as Danner says, I am a total procrastinator.

I have been finding as I travel more and see/meet different friends, my external personality shifts (like a chameleon) to match those of the people around me. The more I like you, the more likely I am to shift to match!

This is kind of a subtle, passive form of peer pressure, but I think it’s disingenuous to call it “peer pressure” because it’s the dynamic of the group, and the specific individuals I am hanging around that affect the way I change.

Usually it’s fine, but I have been finding that there’s one drawback to this shift: often it means there won’t any authentic Dave personality present anymore! I say this mostly in jest, but there are certain qualities I want in a group of friends that I may not realize I was the one providing. When a group gets together, people align to fill certain roles almost without thinking about it, so I’m sometimes concerned when I shift… potentially out of a role that no one else will fill.

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