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Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Generally speaking being extroverted is touted as a positive thing in society. Extroverts are comfortable public speakers, network easily and can close a business deal, at least according to the stereotypes. Introverts are quiet, and maybe smart?

I’m really not too sure about all of this, and this is coming from an extrovert- I much prefer to go out with friends after a hellish day than sit at home and stew. After a day of surgery where nothing went exactly as planned and one thing went completely sideways, it was a quick run to the gym and then out with friends in person and on the phone to tell them about the crazy, get some sympathy, and get rid of the complete and utter frustration and doubts about my skills. Had I gone home alone it probably would have ended with a bottle, which is not really a good option when you have to be back bright and early for some ICU patient care.

That doesn’t mean that I am not shy or that I am the first person to say hi when someone walks into the room. I’ll do my public speaking, sure, but I’m not jumping up and down shouting, “Me! Me! Oh please, pick me!” I am not the whirlwind who comes in, crashes the party and gives everyone else some stories to tell. In my element, among friends, I certainly like being center stage and cracking folks up, because that’s fun, but it doesn’t equate to “good” or “better” than folks who don’t.

Introverts are not stupid. They are not necessarily shy any more than extroverts are necessarily bold. They just need time to think and recharge by being away from others rather than in the thick of them. Some of the best public speakers are introverts, more often than not because they actually take the time to [i]think[/i] about what they’re going to say before saying it rather than blurting out what comes to mind or narrating the reasoning process. The speaker who has one powerful phrase uttered after a moment of contemplation is most likely and introvert. The speaker who was a crackup  may have been an extrovert. Which message sticks with you longer?

It just gets me down that introverts can be given such a rough time in our world. Some of my best friends, the ones I rely heavily upon to reconnect me with reality are the ones who stop and think and are a little more reserved. I’m flying all over the place all by myself, I don’t need help with that, I need the help of those who can grab me and bring me back, sit me down, and shut me up with a well planned observation. I am fortunate to have a few of these wonders in life and I feel they are unjustly denigrated, or at least not appreciated nearly enough for their worth to society and to me.

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Marketing can be downright creepy at times. I’m not talking about internet marketing and click-tracking either, I am talking about coupons and such that they hand me with my receipt at Safeway. I go there, I buy some things over and over again an other things only once. If they track that, well, fine. I do have a club card, so I’ll not be all the shocked, let alone flustered.

Still, when they hand me a coupon for a product I DO actually buy there, it makes me blink a couple of times. Yeah, saving fifty cents on that the next time I come in might be useful, but it’s a little weird to me. Directed marketing helps them, I suppose, or else they wouldn’t do it, so I just shrug and stick the coupon to the fridge with a magnet in the odd hope that Maybe I will remember it use it before it expires.

What really will weird me out though, is when, along with that coupon, the hand me one for another, completely unrelated product that I have NEVER bought in their store. Not even in their chain of stores, anywhere, ever. I have bought that product, and it’s not something like toilet paper or something that it is reasonable to assume most people use, but never anywhere that I would expect it to get back to my grocery store. That weirds me out, and no, I will not be using that coupon, thankyouverymuch.

Seriously.  I can see where for many people this may be ‘convenient’ or ‘useful’ so that they can save money on products they actually want. And that is all well and good, but it creeps me the fuck out. Am I the sort who could see myself living in a cave off of my own organic garden (because buying pesticide and fertilizer would require going into town) and eating only what I kill? Sometimes, sometimes I think I can in fact see myself there.

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What is it about a song or music that affect us so deeply? I don’t know for certain that all people are susceptible to this effect, but it seems likely that a majority of people are, since music has been sunk so deeply into our human psyches as a power or even magic. It is rare ceremonies that don’t include music of some form, be it a band, a choir, chanting, or a simple bell ringing. Music’s effect on the thoughts and moods of an an individual seems almost taken for granted in some circumstances and incidental in others.

Incidental in the sense that if you catch yourself speeding down the highway you might notice a certain song that moves you helping move your more quickly along. For me, it’s songs I love, happy songs, that make me drive a bit more quickly. I think for others, anger and drums might do it. Perhaps the mood and music suited to a particular action might vary, but the ability of music is still there. This is true even in folks like me who might as well be tone-deaf. I love karaoke, but sure as hell can’t sing. The music still makes it fun anyway.

I wonder at times about the chicken and the egg of it though. Do I appreciate a certain sort of song because I am already in the mood, or does the song change my mood to match? To be sure, there are times I think, “Hey, I really want to listen to that particular song!” And through the wonder of technology, make it so. But more often, I am already there. I am singing, or stomping, or dancing, or crying and the music, when finally noticed, somehow manages to match.

I wonder about the art of putting together soundtracks because it has a similar, almost subconscious feel if it is done properly. It’s a thing where, if it is perfect, you don’t always notice until after the fact. Matching mood to music, using the deeply embedded pathways it weaves in our mind is a skill that I imagine it must take time to master.

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Cold

I am a cold weenie as it turns out. I just don’t like it, at all. If my nose hairs freeze, it is too cold. If my fingertips get so cold scraping the windshield even though gloves that they hurt like hell as they thaw, it is too cold. I can do rain. I can do grey, overcast dreary skies for months on end. While the sun on the snow can indeed be beautiful, I’m really not a fan of it for more than about two days. When my pickup’s clutch pedal is stiff and feels like I’m shoving it through molasses, it is too fucking cold.

I have decided that I need to move somewhere warm. No idea if it will really pan out, but I am trying. I’ll live there for a couple of years and then decide if I really am a heat person. There is a chance that I’m not. I might really just be a coastal person, someone who likes the middle range forever. If that turns out to be true, I can definitely live with it. As it stands though, I’ve never really lived anywhere where an air conditioner was really useful for more than about three weeks out of each year. We’ll see what I think of it. I know I don’t like mosquitoes, but they can get pretty bad here too when they want to, so I’m not sure any place is really safe on that front.

Only 6 months from now and then I’ll finally be warm again!

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Why are barking dogs worse than screaming children?

If my dogs bark and annoy the neighbors, they have the recourse of calling animal control. How effective animal control is at a) caring and b) imposing any sanctions that will cause me to want to change my dogs’ behavior varies hugely from location to location, but still, they can call them, and if they and enough others complain often or loudly enough, chances are good that I’ll get a talking to by the man. Better than that would, of course, be to talk to me directly and let me know there’s a problem and my dogs are barking. You know, because if I’m not there it’s kind of hard to know that my dogs are barking and irritating folks. I don’t have magical ears that hear my dogs from across town. Neither, I wager, do most dog owners.

A big difference though, is that children are not left home alone. More and more they are never even left unattended (which is a tragedy in its own right, but a topic for another post) to wander about and actually learn stuff. So when children are screaming and carrying on enough to irritate other nearby humans, chances are that no magical ear is necessary. Just the normal, human, paying any sort of attention at all variety. Because really folks, I get that you find my barking dog annoying as all get out, why do you NOT get that I find your screaming, tantrum throwing spawn just as irritating? As in, I want to call some sort of authority just to please make it stop. Laughing children? Fine. No problem. Occasional outbursts are expected, it happens. But the child screaming non-stop because it knows it will get what it wants if it holds out long enough (I’m looking at you, tank-top wal*mart shopping mom #8) is just not okay. Take your child elsewhere, teach it some manners, or don’t bring it in the first place.

I get that my dogs are not welcome everywhere, and I am okay with that. I especially understand that while my pets may be the center of my universe and I think they’re perfectly behaved angels, not everyone else feels that way, so I try to be a polite member of society and the human race and respect that. Not all pet owners are that way. I’ve seen poorly behaved pets too. But you can ask their owners to remove them. Try asking a parent of an out of control 4 year old that is dragging everything off the counter between bouts of whining and screaming to do the same. See how well that works out for you and the business. Lawsuit anyone?

I’m pretty sure it’s illegal somehow to have no-kid housing or other events anyhow. I know jack about law, so I could be wrong, but I thought I heard that somewhere. No-pet housing is painfully common, but I’ll bet you a nice dinner out that the average household with multiple children causes more property damage and general stress than my pets put together. I have yet to see one of my pets color on the walls or break a window. It seems to me that if I can expect other species to abide by polite rules of society, it should be allowable to expect the so called future of our race to do the same, at least most of the time. Maybe that’s just me though. And I don’t even hate kids.

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Facebook is everywhere, and where Facebook is, so are the copy-paste blithe little status posts saying if you support this, copy and share the chain letter. Here’s one that I ran across a few days ago, “UN-APOLOGETICAMERICAN: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. I grew up reciting this every morning in school; it is a shame we no longer do that for fear of offending someone. Now, let’s see…. how many Americans will re-post this and not care about offending anyone.”

I have a special place in my heart for things like this. I refuse to participate normally, and I refused to participate in this one as well. But it did get me to thinking, and the thinking is that I win the contest of “Who has more ‘Merica points.'”

In the game of being a “Real ‘Merican” you get points for the following: being conservative, being Christian, being white, liking guns, being male, living in a red state, having lots of money, drinking beer, pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, serving in the military, being straight, not liking immigration or welfare, the appearance of education, and believing that America is better than all other countries (combined). In this game, I have lots of points, which is somewhat ironic considering that the few I don’t have are some of the major ones, including God, being conservative, and actually having an education.

But I can play the game. I can build up my “Real ‘Merican” cred, sit down and crack a Bud Light under a flag at a BBQ with the best of them. But then I break out the counter-points. I point out that I am not a Christian. That I voted for Obama. That I am a liberal arts school hippie warped by crazy communist professors. This often reduces the other players in the game to a sputtering mess of frustration.

I don’t want to win the “Real ‘Merican” game, but I too am a real American. Sorry to break the stereotype. No, I’m not scared of offending anyone.

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