Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Leaders + followers = disaster? 

I remember as a kid wondering about a girl in my neighborhood; we'll call her Jane. Jane was as close to a zero as any human being I've ever met; she had no spark, no animation, none of the liveliness one expects in a girl of 7... there was nothing mentally wrong with her, she was just a little shy and alot bland and boring. I remember being astounded at how there was a constant battle for her friendship between 2 girls who were far more appealing than she was, and would have been expected to pair up with each other and exclude her entirely; when, after a couple of years, I asked one of the battlers WHY she was always struggling to be the closest to Jane, all she could come up with was that the order in which the families had moved onto our street somehow meant that Jane should be HER best friend. This explanation didn't make sense to me, then or now, especially since there was an age difference of several years between them which should have eliminated any desire for a relationship with her of any sort; in other words, she didn't KNOW why she continued to fight over Jane, only that she was compelled to do so... and it never occurred to her (or to the other girl, I'd be willing to bet) that she could have had a higher-quality friendship with far less effort if she'd chosen the other combatant to be her buddy instead, or that they could have all been friends together and channeled the energy wasted in competition into having FUN.

It wasn't until I became consciously aware of leader/follower dynamics as an adult that I saw what was going on back then; in our immediate area, before my family moved in, there were below school age kids, boys, the battlers and their siblings, and Jane... just 3 "older girls," with Jane being the only follower up for grabs. Jane could have had a horn growing out of the middle of her forehead and she still would have been pursued, because the other girls, one older than her and one younger, were both wannabe leaders, and most leaders have a strong drive to gather in followers; I was the oldest, so my arrival meant that I became the overall leader by default, of boys as well as girls, but the battle for Jane never ended until one of the battlers moved away years later.

Also interesting was that the younger battler was in the best-friend seat with Jane most of the time, despite the greater influence the older girl would be expected to have and the cachet to Jane of having an older friend. That puzzled me too, until a time came when the younger girl decided she wanted some of the boys on her side as part of some fight or other, and I questioned them as to how she'd managed to get them to run after her; they told me that she'd offered them candy and gum in return for their allegiance, and they showed no hint of embarrassment that they were willing to follow a GIRL in return for a minor bribe. The older girl's parents were uptight types who didn't pass out too many goodies, so the younger one's bribing strategy was successful, presumably with Jane as well as with the boys; she was willing to give up a significant portion of her sweets to buy friendship, and it's amazing that a child as young as 6 was not only willing to do that but had figured out that it was a good tactic... AND had managed to handle it in such a way that she didn't come across as a pitiful creature to be used and abandoned, which is how people who try to buy friendship typically get perceived (attitude is everything).

Why do I bring this up? Because adults act exactly the same way, just with a little veneer of sophistication glossed over it... and a level of viciousness of which small children are incapable. I can't tell you how many times, online and offline, I've seen unscrupulous leader types going to insane lengths to gather in every follower in sight, AND to totally destroy the relationships those people had with any other leaders in the extended group; while kids seem to have the actual friendships as their goal, the adults will eventually tire of their followers and shred and discard them... THEIR goal is to have "wins" over the other leaders, NOT to have friends, and they feel that way even if the other leaders not only aren't competing but are unaware that a competition is taking place... a trap I myself walked into several times, until my eyes were opened and I realized that, as is nearly always the case with evil people, these folks were following totally consistent and predictable patterns, and was able to start side-stepping them.

Whether you're a leader or a follower, you can get the raw end of these manipulations, so it's useful to see what the behavior patterns are. I've compiled a gigantic list of specific things to look out for, and I've been meaning to start sharing them with you for ages, but I never got around to making an introductory post; now that I'm doing so, I'll try to get into a groove of sharing the list a little at a time... because the bad people of the world can only yank you around if you LET them, if you and those around you are blind to what's going on and/or do nothing to stop it.

I should specify here that there's nothing superior about being a "leader type," as all it takes to be followed is often just a big mouth and a little bit of fearlessness or forcefulness, and there's nothing inferior about being a "follower type," as MOST people naturally follow whoever takes the lead; we're pack animals, and it's instinctive. It's even possible to be a leader or follower depending on what group you're with; you might be a follower with your family but a leader with your friends or at work, for example... it might all boil down to what situations you're comfortable sticking your neck out in and which ones you're more comfortable trailing safely in someone's wake in. Take a clear, objective look at the various groups you're in, and ask yourself; in this group, which people are leaders and which are followers? Be VERY sure you've gotten your own role honestly figured out, or you're wasting your time trying to learn how to maneuver through any battles that arise.

I don't want to get started with any specifics yet, but here are the general warnings:

If you're a follower, be VERY suspicious of large amounts of time and attention being lavished upon you by a leader; don't get so flattered and swept up in it that you forget that this is NOT how normal, healthy friendships work, and thus that something fishy is going on. Pay attention to what's happening, and if the leader does or says ANYTHING to try to draw you away from any other leader in your group, or to cut a leader out of plans or the information loop, or tries to cast the way a leader acts towards you in an unflattering light when you've seen nothing to suggest that that person has bad intentions or is anything but nice and a good friend, BEWARE-the battle has begun, and you're being used as a pawn to "get" an innocent person.

If you're a leader, and suddenly one or more of your follower friends seem to be spending an unusual amount of time with another leader, or to be talking alot about them, especially about things that person has recently DONE for them, be aware that that leader has targeted the follower(s), and that means, sadly, that you either have to wildly escalate what YOU'RE offering the follower(s) or accept that you're probably going to lose them, or at least become far less close of friends with them... they'll see the other leader as a better deal, and never question the sincerity of what that person offered to them. If you're not that attached to the followers, and don't care if they've transferred some allegiance to another leader, it might seem like no big deal, but if they start being a little chilly towards you, or you sense ANY hostility from them that's coming out of nowhere, it's time to do MAJOR damage control, because the other leader is turning them against you, and you're fast approaching a situation where the other leader will have the entire group on "their side," and everyone will either be unfriendly towards you or awkwardly and embarrassedly friendly to you when you're alone but publicly hanging out with the other leader's group and pretty much ignoring you most of the time.

Why are people, both leaders and followers, all too often willing to spurn someone who never was anything but nice to them? Because human nature sucks. YOU don't have to be part of that sort of ugliness, however; you can CHOOSE to turn against the trash-talker instead of against the intended victim, you can CHOOSE to make sure everyone else knows that the trash-talking was going on, and you can CHOOSE to actively defend the victim and to encourage others to do so. If you're a leader, it's a little trickier to protect yourself, but it can be done, mostly by being aware in advance that there are trouble spots and handling them before they gather momentum and run over you; stay tuned, there are alot of red flags and ways to deal with them coming up in future posts.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

So, we went to our friends' house... 

We spent the evening (and on into the early AM) with another geek couple, the female half of which I've known since college; a good time was had by all. We narrowly escaped disaster, though, when her husband, always eager to try to suck me (and by extension her) into playing a game with him and my husband, tried to convince me of the merits of Balderdash, a game which purportedly circles around your ability to bluff and read people as you try to guess the true meanings of words you're all supposed to have never heard of. I'd played it once, years ago, and because I not only knew the meanings of all the words but showed a fair amount of skill at inventing plausible definitions that fooled the other players, I was able to beat everyone else so badly that they gradually became resentful, and looked suspiciously at me as if I were tricking them somehow rather than just knowing more $10 words than they did; since I wanted to KEEP this couple as my friends, I made no mention of this, and said instead that I'd be AWFUL at that game, because I'm no good at bluffing or reading other people's bluffs. The husband said, "Oh well, it was worth a shot," and the wife said, "I TOLD you not to ask her about that one, her vocabulary's too big for it to be fair"; in other words, I made the right choice, because, although most folks don't mind playing a sport or a standard strategy-based game with someone who's better at it than they are, and in fact may seek out superior players in order to challenge themselves, NO ONE wants to have a contest of pure intellect against someone who's more knowledgeable... we all want to see ourselves as a little smarter than the people in our lives, and we deeply resent anyone who demonstrates otherwise.

I had a small, unexpected slip, though, when, after the husband had given us a little geek humor (Did you hear about the programmer found dead in the shower with an empty bottle of shampoo? It said "Lather. Rinse. Repeat."), to which we responded with appreciation and amusement, I tossed out the joke "Why do programmers confuse Christmas and Halloween?"; since he's a math nut and programmer, I figured he'd either know it already or get it right away, and think it was cool, but too much time passed and he was still trying to figure it out... BIG red flag, especially when ego is likely to be getting involved. The wife looked blankly at me, so I took that as a sign that I could dive in with the answer, which is "Because Dec 25 = Oct 31, you know, decimal and octal #'s"; he took a few seconds to do the octal calculation in his head to verify that it came out 25, and nodded, but he wouldn't look at me, and didn't seem too pleased... I clearly should've babbled out the punchline as soon as I saw him struggling with it instead of just saying to me "I don't know, why do they confuse the two?", which I'll remember for future reference. We quickly went on to other topics, so it wasn't problematic, but if we'd stalled in discomfort it could've been unhappy-making in a major way.

My husband distinguished himself when, after I pointed out that people didn't need to take tiny amounts of the blob of potato salad remaining on the table because there was plenty more in the fridge, he referred to it as "Xeno's potato salad" (in other words, no one was willing to take more than half of what was left); I howled with laughter, my friend's husband got it right away, she got it a couple of seconds later, and both of them snickered... it's good to know geeks.

We discussed the difficulty of finding other appropriate geeks to hang out with, as single geeks whine constantly about their lack of relationships and have no social skills, especially if they're still single at OUR age, married geeks are usually hooked up with non-geeks who want them to back off of geek-ness, and geek couples are hard to find; we came up with a list of qualifying questions we'd want a couple to answer to see if they could be our friends, including quotes they'd have to be able to identify, such as "Not the One!! Not the One!!" (from "Babylon 5")... it's too bad there's nowhere we could run an ad to find prospective geek buddies, because we really nailed it.

Later in the evening, while the boys played some sort of silly board game, my friend and I got caught up with various things in our lives in excruciating detail; part of what I told her was about all the nice new clothes I'd gotten on eBay as part of my "create an adult wardrobe" project... and we shared a giggle about how despite all that I was still wearing a geek t-shirt and jeans for a social occasion. (Bear in mind that her husband was dressed just like me, and that she herself was wearing jeans and what she informed me was an $8 WalMart shirt, which was covered in cat hair.)

We also discussed my recent epiphany on why evil people are consistently rated higher and liked better than virtuous ones (see my post of 2-2-06), and she came up with an interesting tangential point; people don't feel like they've accomplished anything when a nice person likes them and treats them well, but if someone less pleasant is nice to them, or is their friend or lover, they feel like they've really accomplished something, must really be someone special if they can say, "Yeah, (s)he's done dirt to many people, but (s)he's nice to ME." Sadly, I think she's right; yet another reason to be less nice to people, and to expect to be perceived as a less worthy person if you STAY nice, sigh.

Anyways; we ate some junk food, watched a scifi DVD, messed around on a website that allows you to create "South Park" style characters


and sang songs from that most classic of all Warner Brothers cartoons, "What's Opera Doc?"... it was a typical geekfest, in other words. In true geek fashion, when we got home at 3AM, instead of going to bed I put on the tape of "Metal Mania" (the heavy metal program on VH1 Classic) that had been recorded while we were gone and got to work on the computer doing my daily eBay searches and my scheduled blog entry; it'll be a tired Sunday in the Omni household, but it was worth it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The latest animal incidents 

Blogger's still floundering, although it's working about 1/2 the time now; in addition to its intermittent refusal to load various kinds of pages, it's also having trouble with word verification (when I can get to the comment pages at all)... when it's not functioning, the "word" it gives you to verify is always "smenita," have you noticed that?

My mother WAS able to have her chemo, although no less than SIX of the elements of her blood workup were very marginal; since the tumor could start growing back if she had to delay a chemo session, hopefully she'll be done with the pneumonia before the next round, because otherwise she's probably in trouble.

I talked to her last night, and she asked about the possums; I was feeling pretty bummed about it afterwards, because I miss them so much, so I was extra-excited when I caught sight of an animal on the patio... until I saw it was totally the wrong shape to be a possum, sigh. I thought it must be a cat come to eat the kibble that's been left there in case they come back; it was NOT a cat, though... it was a huge RACCOON, and he was indeed eating the kibble. I crooned "Cooooonie, hi cooooonie" at him, and he looked in at me through the sliding glass door with no sign of fear, although I was only 4 feet away; when he finished the last of the kibble, he sauntered over to one of the patio posts and, to my amazement, climbed up it and onto the patio cover. I was VERY excited, as I'm crazy about raccoons, and haven't been face to face with one for nearly 20 years; they're extremely smart, and he's almost certain to remember where he found food and come back looking for more, so... maybe I'll have a new critter visitor to love soon. :-)

Another exciting animal event is that I've seen several hummingbirds in the past few days. I got my husband to put fresh nectar in the feeder for them, because they've been migrating and are thin and hungry, poor things; I recall seeing one last year that was so gaunt and sunken that I nearly cried, because it didn't seem like he could live much longer, so I was eager to get the feeder refilled as soon as I saw the 1st little form flitting around. If you live in a country that doesn't have hummingbirds, here are some photos


Starting from the 3rd pic in the 4th row, most of them are of hummingbirds; they're all labeled when you bring the full-sized ones up, so there's no confusion. They're exquisitely beautiful, tiny, tiny birds, and magical to watch; they can fly straight up, straight down, and even BACKWARDS, and they have no fear of humans... they know you couldn't catch them no matter how hard you tried, as they're FAST in addition to being maneuverable. Their wings beat 15-80 times per SECOND, depending on species, so that when you see them in flight with the naked eye their wings are just a blur, as you can see in this photo


Because of this, their metabolisms run VERY fast, the fastest of ANY creatures other than insects, and thus they need to consume more than their own weight in food every single day... and therein lies the problem, as humans have taken over much of the land on whose flowers they've always fed, and more hummingbirds die every year when they have to migrate without having stored up sufficient fat. If you're lucky enough to live somewhere that has hummers during warm weather, please, PLEASE spend a few dollars on a feeder and some nectar and put it where they'll easily be able to find it; WalMart has very inexpensive ones, although you can get much fancier models if your wallet permits. Hummingbirds will pollinate your flowers, eat gnats and other little bugs, and provide you and your family with a great deal of enjoyment; once you've watched one of these iridescent beauties hovering at the feeder, shooting its threadlike tongue out and watching YOU, you'll be hooked.

My final recent interaction with animals was far less pleasant. A few days ago, I'd just gotten up, and noticed that the birds on the patio didn't sound right; I opened the blinds to see that none of them were at the feeder, but instead were in the nearby foliage chirping agitatedly. I moved to where I could see the feeder more completely, and saw, not a cat or hawk as expected, but a shadowy mass INSIDE the feeder; I knew instantly what that mass was... MICE. Mice had their filthy bodies on the seeds meant for my precious tweeties, and were keeping said tweeties from getting any food; the mice couldn't eat the seed because it has hot pepper on it, so they were playing dog in the manger with it and my birds were going hungry as a result. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

In a matter of moments, I was transformed from a mild-mannered blogger into a tower of rage; I yanked open the door and went charging out to the feeder, where I saw that 3 large mice were sleeping in a pile in one corner. I screamed at them; they blinked sleepily at me. I banged on the feeder; they glanced around in puzzlement but didn't budge. I looked in at the arrogant little rodents, with the racket from the starving birds ringing in my ears, and I saw red... I may have even seen beyond it to infrared. The feeder is too high for me to reach, and too heavy for me to move... but somehow, I not only reached it but LIFTED it to get it unhooked, and marched to the gate with it held out in front of me in a manner far beyond the normal ability of my non-muscular upper body. I'm terrified of vermin, and the mice soon had climbed up to where the opening under the "roof" of the feeder is, where they could have jumped out and onto me at any time, but at that moment I felt no fear; I was holding the feeder with ONE HAND while I worked the gate latch, and contemplating whether it'd be bad karma to dump them into the trash to die a slow death... and clearly it was, so I headed down the driveway and out into the street with my loathsome cargo.

We have one of those dopey little islands of landscaping in the middle of the road near our house, and my intention was to release them next to it so that they'd hide there, figuring that, between the hawks, owls, cats and cars they'd probably never get across the street alive. I put the feeder down right by the island and yanked off the "roof"; after a few good whacks on the back end of it, the mice came leaping out. Two of them ran all the way across the street and into a row of bushes, and the other one ran back the way we'd come, but to a neighbor's house rather than mine; figuring that this was still a reasonable end to things, as they'd be unlikely to show up on MY patio again, I returned with the feeder to my back yard. My adrenaline was ebbing fast, but I still had enough to lift the feeder back up onto its beam; as soon as I got inside, the birds came flooding in to eat their belated breakfast. I watched with pride as my little avian friends reaped the fruits of my efforts; when the last of the adrenaline faded away, and my back, neck, shoulders and arms started screaming from the extraordinary effort they'd somehow made, I saw it as a fair trade for all the pleasure I get from the tweeties.

I haven't seen any mice since then, so hopefully they all became dinner for more deserving creatures. I have to wonder, though; if mice have any inkling of spiritual feeling, or even if they don't, what do you suppose they made of their experience?

Monday, March 20, 2006

How can you tell if someone's compatible as a friend? 

I'm very, VERY tired of this mess with Blogger; I haven't been able to access my account, or leave comments on any blog that uses the Blogger commenting system, with my regular browser for several days now... I'm having to write this post in my inbox, mail it to myself, get the email on another computer in the network with a browser that I don't normally use but that CAN access my account, and then copy it in to publish it. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Things are looking dicey with my mother, too; the antibiotics they gave her for her walking pneumonia worked for a while and then gave her a horrible reaction, so she had to discontinue them... and now we don't know if she'll be able to have her scheduled chemo tomorrow, because her blood workup is very likely to not be within the acceptable range. sigh

On the + side, we seem to have won a major victory over the swarms of rats that have been leaping around our patio for months; they've been gorging at the birdfeeder every night, but we FINALLY found the one store in our city that sells hot pepper seed, and the feeder is suddenly almost deserted... I hope they've all burned their filthy, diseased little mouths thoroughly, the evil creatures. (Don't worry, birds aren't affected by the hot pepper-that's why it can be put on birdseed.) I'm puzzled as to how a few die-hards are still eating the hot seeds, but if they don't give it up we're going to put out bread crusts with ultra-hot sauce on them... one way or the other, they're going to be made to see that they can't eat here any more.

Have you ever seen or listened to something and thought, "I wouldn't want to be friends with anyone who didn't like this"? You can be willing to be friends with people of different cultures, religions, and political beliefs, in fact it's almost necessary that you do, or you'll be missing out on a great deal of learning and spiritual growth opportunities, but would you want to have a serious friendship with anyone who didn't have appreciation for at least most of the things you find particularly amusing or cool? I don't mean the same sitcoms, hit movies and pop songs that most people like, I mean the offbeat things that, if you picked a random person in a Midwestern state, or almost any older person, they probably would NOT like them. The 1st time I thought consciously about this was after hearing a version of "Stairway to Heaven" that... see for yourself:


That's not the entire song, but it's enough to show what's astonishing about it; I'm pleased to say that every friend I've played it for has reacted with shocked delight, just as *I* did when my husband 1st played it for ME... because anyone who didn't think it was brilliant probably couldn't "get" me well enough to be a real friend. Here are some other "friendship tests" that'd work well for me:

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show"; hey, if you can't appreciate a man in lingerie who can bump and grind his entire body, lol... more to the point, either you're titillated by the outrageousness of it or you're not. This is a particularly good test for men, because if a man's threatened by the crossdressing or bisexuality he's too uptight to hang around with me. We had a hilarious moment a few months ago with the couple we're closest to, when my friend offered my husband some hot sauce, warning him that it was very hot; he said "Will it make me a man?" and her husband said "In just 7 days"... you can't do much better than THAT for being compatible. (If you've never seen the movie, I should explain that the punchline is that both comments are references to a song from it.)

"Due South"; the naive Canadian mountie, the streetwise Chicago cop, the deaf, donut-stealing wolf... the series never really caught on in America (it was a huge hit in Canada, however), but my husband and I shriek in laughter at every episode.

Anything by Weird Al Yankovic: his parodies, both musical and video, are utterly dazzling... anyone who could get through his "Like a Surgeon" video (which parodies "Like a Virgin") without cracking up a bunch of times would have to be a serial killer or a pod person.

Anything by Hayao Miyazaki; to say that the man is a genius trivializes him, because what he can do with animation is far beyond what anyone else can manage... and it's all so different than American animated films, which are very simplistic by comparison. As much as Americans love animation these days, I don't suppose this would filter much of anyone out, but what the heck, he should still be a requirement.

Bonus points for loving the Dilbert comic strip; to really get it, you have to be a geek, which, although not totally essential to being my friend, is ALMOST essential, because so much of what I like, how I think, how I LIVE, is geekish. If I had to give someone ONE line as a test of friendship compatibility, it'd be this one that Dilbert tells a date about his workplace:

"No one ever wants to take more than half of what's left of the last doughnut. That's why I call it Xeno's doughnut. Hee hee!"

If you don't get the joke, see my post of 8-14-05; if you're laughing, you've gotta be at least a semi-geek.

Writing this has made me realize something odd; as common as blogging has become, I don't know of any movies, TV shows or songs that focus on blogging... not that I know much about pop culture, but lots of people would have blogged about something like that if it existed, wouldn't they? It wouldn't help ME as a friendship test, as my blog is a secret, but imagine if you could casually mention the title of, say, a movie in which a main character is a blogger, and find out what a new person in your life thinks about blogs before revealing that you have one; that wouldn't necessarily tell you if they were compatible as a friend, but at least you'd be spared from getting involved with them if they were one of those types that's never read a real blog but has contempt for all of them... for all of US.

Anyways; I don't want to go meme-ish on you, but I'd be interested to see what some of my blog buddies would consider must-likes for people to be compatible to be their friends, hint hint... wouldn't it be wild if we picked some of the same things?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blame and exonumia 

First and foremost; Happy St. Patrick's Day!! If you're reading this on the actual day, I hope you enjoyed my Java holiday thing; if you missed it, fear not, as always it'll be back for the next holiday. Whether you're Irish or just like to take advantage of the cheap green beer available on this date, I hope you had some good luck today... and pinched anyone who wasn't wearing green. ;-)

I wrote extensively on how we place blame on the wrong people in my post of 1-5-05; a couple of things I recently saw on TV got me thinking about the topic at length again:

1) On an episode of M*A*S*H, a general gave them an officers' club, which was supposed to be for officers only. Hawkeye and BJ, who have no shred of officer-ishness about them and have always treated enlisted personnel as equals, instantly start protesting the idea of exclusivity, and are very open about doing so. The enlisted personnel, meanwhile, are making a pointedly nasty display of reverse exclusion... to Hawkeye and BJ, even after they make it repeatedly clear that they're fighting FOR the enlisted types to be allowed in the club. HUH? Why are even Radar and Klinger, who owe Hawkeye and BJ the most, snubbing THEM instead of those who APPROVE of the club being for officers only? Why risk offending and alienating their only FRIENDS in the matter? Why WANT to? All I can figure is that this is a case of assigned guilt by association plus the awareness that it's safer to insult those with power over you who are also your friends plus lack of analyzing things logically plus a big dose of "human nature sucks."

What was especially interesting to me was that Hawkeye and BJ, instead of reacting with the expected "We're trying to help you, and you're spitting in our faces, so now we're going to STOP sticking our necks out for you," instead anxiously assured the enlisted folks that they were trying hard to rectify the situation, and they in fact keep working at it until it's fixed... or is it that only *I* would have expected them to react to ingratitude with the cessation of their desire to plead the case of the ingrates, because that's the cause and effect way my own mind works, and everyone else expected them to act in the way that'd make sure they were all buddies in the end even though the "other side" couldn't be bothered to act that way? hmmmmmmmmm

In any case, the point to be made here is; if you feel offended by a person, or persons, within a given group, your blame for the offense should go ONLY to those who actually took offensive action, and those who supported them in that action, NOT to everyone in the group, and certainly not to members of the group who have been good to you and/or are on your side... not only is it WRONG, but it can cost you allies and friends.

2) In an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond," Ray upsets Amy when she (foolishly, admittedly) tries to talk to him while he's watching a game on TV and he blows her off. Instead of confronting HIM, she goes home and attacks poor Robert (guilt by association again, since he's Ray's brother); as is typical, Robert, who is totally well-meaning and inoffensive, ends up mis-speaking and incriminating himself, leaving HIM in the doghouse when he wasn't the wrongdoer. They see Ray the next day, and Amy actually manages to confront him... in a way with none of the rancor she showered upon the innocent Robert, of course. When Robert protests that Ray, having upset Amy and caused HIM a great deal of grief, essentially got off scott-free, Amy pooh-poohs his concerns, and Ray smugly tells him that he and Amy have talked it out. The scene hurts to watch, both because it's sad to see Ray in effect undeservedly getting the better of Robert once again, and because I know all too well what it feels like to see a wrongdoer skipping merrily away from the mess they made while the virtuous get the short end of the stick. Luckily, Ray is a bungler, and blurted out ANOTHER insult to Amy as her reward for not kicking his butt like she should have; that should teach her how to apportion her rage more appropriately next time, but it probably won't.

What WE can learn from the situation is that it's NOT ok to fling blame around to whoever's nearby just because you bottled up your anger around the person who earned it and are itching to let loose; while it IS correct to toss some blame on a loved one who fails to be supportive of you and to condemn the wrongdoer, goading an innocent person into saying something you can jump on them for is an ethical and karmic no-no. We can also learn that, if you manage to stiffen your spine and confront the source of your upset, don't just mention the problem and then forgive them; either make it clear that they did wrong and better not do it again, or you're totally wasting your time... worse, you're demonstrating that you're a completely safe target for mistreatment.

It's not rocket science to figure out who deserves blame in any given situation, and how much blame they should get; under no circumstances is there any excuse for blaming the blameless, or for letting wrongdoers get away with it to any degree... remember, most people will treat you as badly as you permit them to, and wrongdoers only triumph if YOU let them.

What's all this got to do with exonumia? Nothing; I just discovered that term on eBay, and thought it was so interesting that I wanted to share it:

"Exonumia is the study of coin-like objects such as token coins and medals, and other items used in place of legal currency or for commemoration. This includes elongated coins, encased coins, souvenir medallions, tags, badges, counterstamped coins, wooden nickels, credit cards, and other similar items. It is related to numismatics, and many coin collectors are also exonumists."

"Items such as bus tokens (transportation tokens), bar or pub tokens, and casino tokens or chips are some of the more common forms of exonumia."


Cool, huh? When you think about it, there's a TON of stuff like that around, and alot of it has stories behind it; that, to my mind, makes for a really interesting collection, although one with a steep learning curve. Take a look at some of what's out there


There's about 23,000 auctions in that category as of when I'm writing this; I'm fascinated that something I'd never heard of before has so much eBay activity. Some of that stuff looks pretty neat; I can't start on another collection unless I buy a warehouse to hold it all, though, so the exonumists have nothing to fear from me... YET.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

TV tidbits 

I have a TV remote of which I'm almost psychotically fond; it's a novelty kind that was only made briefly some years ago, and everyone comments excitedly on it when they 1st see it... it's one of my best geek toys. A couple of days ago, it DIED; I assumed that it was a battery issue, but replacing them didn't fix it. Thoroughly bummed out, I did a search for it on eBay; when I discovered that nothing like it existed there, or anywhere online, I was BEYOND bummed. When I was still doing desperate Google searches in an attempt to find a remote even vaguely similar to mine, I did something I've never done before; I clicked on an ad in the sidebar of the search page. I know, I know, but I did it because it promised that the site would have every kind of discontinued remote-"Original Replacement Remote Controls All Brands...All Models...All The Time." They LIED, of course, as they didn't even have my BRAND much less my model, but they had something even better:

"Dead" Remotes Can Be Saved

How to Re-Start Your "Dead" Remote Control

This only takes about a minute and will restart 1 in 3 "Dead" Original Remote Controls. Good Luck!

Step 1 - Pull the batteries out of the remote and leave them out until Step 4.

Step 2 - Press and release each and every button one at a time on the remote control until every button has been pressed and released at least once!

Step 3 - If your remote has slide switches, you must move the switch to each position then repeat the button pushing in Step 2. (When you're done, be sure to put the slide switch in the correct position to operate the unit the remote came with!)

Step 4 - Put the batteries back into the remote, being very careful to install them correctly. New batteries should be used if you're not sure about the old ones.

Step 5 - Try the remote.


And it WORKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

My husband explains WHY it worked this way; "charge might have built up on unused buttons, or some buttons might have shorted, and pressing them would release it." A friend that I'd emailed about the problem belatedly told me that taking the batteries out of a remote for a while and then putting them back in will also sometimes work; my husband said that that would fix it if the memory was corrupted. I don't know enough about this sort of thing to tell if he's coming up with clever analyses or if he's making it all up to sound like he's a tech stud, but he DOES seem to have some sort of special powers where electronic devices are concerned, so he's got an obvious "feel" for them; I wrote on 12-15-05 about how non-functioning things will start working as soon as he touches them, or even as soon as he comes into the room, and how when the cable was dead for 15 minutes it came back on instantly when he approached the TV... and then more recently, a dead bulb flared back to life, and stayed alive, when he walked up to it (!!!)... so, I give him the benefit of the doubt. In any case, I figured that by posting about ways to fix a remote I might help a few people who love theirs like I love mine... and that I'll get good "remote karma" that'll keep mine working.

The other TV-related thing freaked me out even more. I finally got to see the brilliant animated film by Hayao Miyazaki... actually, EVERY anime feature he does is brilliant, so that's redundant. Let's just say that I saw his latest spectacular must-see movie, "Howl's Moving Castle"


and the 1st time Howl the wizard appeared, I had a reaction that astounded me. Howl is tall, willowy, and graceful, with long, shaggy blond hair, huge, intensely blue eyes, delicately beautiful features, a dramatic cape of pink and gray, and long sparkling earrings; in other words, he's a cleaned-up version of the androgynous musicians I've loved since seeing them on MTV in the 80's, and in the 1st fraction of a second after his image appeared on the screen I had, so help me, an "oh BABY!!" type reaction... it vanished almost instantly, but when I said to my husband "Did you SEE him? I'm in LOVE!!" I was only half-joking, because no matter how fast my conscious mind clamped down with a "he's just a well-drawn animated character," the original reaction was THERE.

I've always been at a loss as to why there are so many images of anime and video game "hot babe" characters available on posters and calendars and such; oh, I know what guys want those images FOR, eg for the same reason they want ANY sexy images, but I never grasped WHY they'd want an image that wasn't a photo or even photo-realistic artwork, because, however beautiful and fantasy-based the girls are, they don't look enough like real human beings to trigger the biological response... or so I'd thought. I'd assumed there was some amount of fetishism involved, and maybe there is in many cases, but now I have to accept that your brain CAN treat an animated image as if it were a real human image; I've got no urge to start buying posters of Howl, but my reaction only differed in degree from what the men who DO want to have images of animated characters feel, not in kind. I still don't see how anyone could hold onto that oh-baby feeling once their mind snapped back to the reality of "just a cartoon," but that's trivial compared to the existence of the feeling in the 1st place; I'd be REALLY interested to know what sorts of non-photographic images can have this effect, and what the cutoff point is beyond which an image is too "unrealistic" to exert any power... where, in the spectrum between highly realistic art and stick figures, does the zone begin where there are insufficient cues to activate the hormones?

I'll be curious to see if this sort of reaction happens to me ever again; as one of the guys doing commentary on the DVD pointed out, in America we don't have an "archetype for an effeminate male character," by which he's rather uncharitably referring to Howl's being beautiful rather than muscular and chiseled as male animated characters that're supposed to be good-looking always are in American animated tradition, so it's entirely likely that I won't ever see another suitable character to test my reaction to. Still, it's got me thinking, and if I ever have any free time again I'll try to hunt up some fantasy artwork with varying degrees of "reality" and see if any of the male characters spark any hint of reaction.

And they say women aren't visually stimulated...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My blog just got more colorful 

You probably spotted it right off; a new sidebar doodad with a bunch of colored boxes that says "Change my background." If you haven't already, give it a try; don't worry, the upper right one is plain white, so you can get back to normal without having to refresh the whole page.

That little strip of multi-hued squares caused me more stress and trouble than almost anything else I've put on this blog... and my husband will be complaining about how much effort HE made helping me with it for the next 20 years. I found the background color changer on the same site that had the title-changing doodad, and I exerted so much self control in NOT putting them both in the day I found them that my eyes were bugging out from the strain; sadly, my efforts to put off gratification and thus get to bed earlier were NOT rewarded. When I went back to that site a couple of days later, feeling virtuous, I discovered, to my utter horror, that the owner had TOTALLY redone it, and had kept all his doodads EXCEPT, you guessed it, the background changer. I was SCREAMING, literally, because it naturally hadn't occurred to me to copy out the code in case it frigging VANISHED 2 days after I found it, and I'd never seen anything like it anywhere else, and I'd been bursting to install it and get my delayed gratification, and... and I was one majorly thwarted and freaked-out geek. My husband rarely offers to do work of any sort, but my screams could crack titanium, and this prompted him to declare that he could duplicate the code; he went right to work on it, while I started frantically searching for similar code based on what I could remember about it. I struck gold when I recalled that it had inexplicably called a nonexistent gif at FlamingText.com, and that led me to the only place Google knew of that had the code


a forum where someone had offered it up in a post. My husband didn't want to look at it, of course, but he has having trouble getting the mouse-over to work consistently, and finally figured out that the problem was that with the cells "empty," in other words with nothing in them other than color, mouse-overs inexplicably become unreliable, and the only ways around it were to insert characters into the cells, which'd make them too big... or to do what the original doodad had done to circumvent the problem and call a nonexistent gif so that the table "thought" there was an image in each square when in fact there was nothing. Reluctantly, he used elements of the existing code to come up with his own fake-gif calls, and it WORKED.

That wasn't the end, of course; geeks can't resist enhancing and expanding upon a program if they can see a way to do so. I wanted 3D borders like the other version had, and my husband figured out how to do that, with some help from me and a cool table-making site


which refreshed our memories as to what the different table-related terms like "cellpadding" meant. Then, we spent hours, and I do mean HOURS, with me going through sites that had lists of color blocks with their corresponding hex codes and coming up with new ones to try (in addition to the basics, including "karma color," lavender-blue), and him putting them into the code to be compared with the others we had, and then arranging them in an aesthetically pleasing and logical way. I wanted a much bigger selection than the original code offered, with wild choices of course, but also some nice light ones that folks might actually use for my background while reading here instead of white; to allow people to keep the color of their choosing for as long as they wanted, we did NOT use the commands from the old code that changed the background to its former color as soon as the mouse was rolled off... why even HAVE a color change if you couldn't KEEP it, right?

After that, there were little tweaks to get everything the right size and put the title on, get it the right color, and center it despite its desire to right-justify; having ignored my husband's insistence that the 2nd table he'd created to hold and position the title was just as good as using the proper command, I tried and failed at a couple of versions of centering commands before he grudgingly suggested that I move the caption code inside the table code proper (DUH!!), and that fixed it.

Then came the scary part; when I'd put the old code into my template, it had made the table perfectly, but it didn't WORK, which turned out to be because the Blogger code was defining my background color in the CSS and the table code couldn't override it... so I had to mess with the Blogger code for my basic template, which made me really nervous that I'd lose track of what I was doing and screw up some little thing that'd wreck my whole blog. My background color was defined in 3 places: one for the body, one for the sidebar, and one for the header; I pulled all 3, defined an overall background color within the body tag, inserted the color-change code and republished. SUCCESS!! I decided that I didn't like the way the top of the page looked when I altered the background, with part of it changed and part of it still pale purple, so I redefined the header background as white again... after a panicked search for where the prior version of the template had been stored so that I'd be sure to get the colons and quotes all formatted correctly (I DO have a backup copy of my template, but not where I could get to it without altering the network configuration). Finally, after FAR more work than can be justified to a non-geek, I had my color-change doodad exactly the way I wanted it; I hope you get a kick out of it, and that if you've found my black text on white to be too bland (I myself can't read any other combo as easily, which is why I have it that way) that one of the lighter colors will enhance your reading experience.

My husband is still grumbling about how much of his precious screwing around on forums time got used for this project... but he's also starting to ponder how the same effect could be achieved with JavaScript and/or CSS, so I'm not feeling too guilty about it. I AM grateful, though, so as a reward I put a movie that he wants to see, but that I don't care about, at the top of our Blockbuster online queue; I guess it won't kill me to see "Bambi" again. ;-)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The karma of abortion 

For the record, here's where I stand on the abortion issue:

When does the result of the union of egg and sperm become a human being? I don't know; there's no PROOF of any of the available theories (and no, whatever religious text you prefer does NOT constitute proof to people outside of your religion). Is abortion murder? I don't know; we need to know if what's being destroyed is a human being before we can answer that one.

Leaving the world of the physical, in which there's nothing for me to go on, and entering the spiritual/metaphysical world, I look at it in terms of the soul; a human being has a soul, and a thing without a soul is therefore NOT a human being, even if it resembles one... some religious types are with me on that one, as they believe that only their deity can give a person a soul, and thus that a clone, which would NOT be created by their deity, would be soulless and therefore not human. On the one hand, I believe that the soul is created by our thoughts and feelings, and that would mean that a fetus, which isn't exactly contemplating the mysteries of the universe in the womb, would NOT have a soul. On the other hand, by the principles of animism (see my post of 3-16-04) every bit of matter has an infinitesimal amount of soul associated with it; since living cells radiate energy, they'd have a little more soul, and a fetus might reasonably be assumed to have occasional surges of emotion in the womb, plus the energy emitted by its evolving brain, and those things all together could give it what we might call a pre-soul... or is it enough to provide the fetus with a true soul at some point before birth? If so, WHEN?

I don't know.

What I DO know is that the MOTHER is a human being, and forcing her to go through pregnancy and childbirth, which can be truly miserable experiences even for women who passionately want their babies, can be quite expensive, and carry the risk of many health problems including DEATH, after which she must either raise an unwanted child or give it up and have nothing to show for all that she went through, is a little too harsh of a decision to make on the basis of maybe's and could be's... no matter what they think in South Dakota.

The various uncertainties make judging the karmic outcome of an abortion very iffy, but it's worth thinking about as a spiritual exercise:

Is killing a blob of cells, even if it has a soul, karmically equivalent to killing an actual child, or an adult, which has a far "larger" soul? How about when it's farther along, and has some human characteristics? How about once it has all its major parts?

If a fetus DOES have soul, then abortion IS killing a human being, and that can't be good karma; is the mother's relief at not having her life ruined by the pregnancy, which releases massive positive energy, more or less than the negative energy caused by the fetus's death? It seems as if the strength and duration of the mother's feelings would win out, but there's no way to be SURE that fetal death doesn't deliver a massive karmic hit, so... if I ever had to have an abortion, I'd work hard to build my karma up, just in case. If the mother ends up feeling sad, guilty, or other negative emotions, that's pure negative karma; an excellent reason to be REALLY sure you want to abort before taking that irrevocable step.

What's the karma of a doctor performing abortions? The overall karma for most abortions might be good, but what about when the mother is swamped with regret? That's a clear-cut case of negative energy and thus bad karma, which could be a bad deal even if the doctor acted out of purely helpful intentions; good intentions only offer limited protection.

What's the karma of legislators who deny abortions to women who want them? In my post of 2-18-06, I had my 1st spiritual revelation of the year, which was:

"dozens, or even hundreds, of people could eventually be affected by an action you took, and you could get karmic energy, positive, negative, or possibly both, from every one of them."

In the case of legislators, far more people than that could be affected by decisions they make... YIKES, remind me to never run for office!! For each woman denied an abortion, there's her misery and other negative emotions, all the discomforts and problems of pregnancy, the agony of childbirth, the possibility of lasting health problems (which becomes a near-certainty if she can't get the weight off), or DEATH, the stresses of having a child in a situation bad enough that she wanted to abort to avoid it if she keeps the child, the hormonal screaming for the child if she gives it up, her dismay over her ruined figure either way... how'd you like all that negative karma coming to YOU because YOU made it impossible for her to abort? How about all that negative karma times THOUSANDS of similar women?

And it can get worse; what if a woman was raped, and forced to carry the rapist's child because she was denied an abortion... can your mind encompass the negative karma THAT would produce? The rapist would of course deserve it, but the legislators who thought they were doing a great thing by saving fetuses might be in for a nasty surprise.

What if it's a minor being forced to have a baby? And what if she was raped?

What if it's a 12 year old victim of INCEST being forced to have a baby? Would you want the karma from THAT pointed in your direction?

What if a woman has to give birth to a baby that's not the same race as she or her husband and he kills her in a jealous rage?

What if a young girl gets thrown out of her parent's house once the pregnancy that she couldn't abort starts to show, and she ends up as a crack whore?

The mind boggles.

If science becomes able to detect souls in my lifetime, and there's proof that a fetus has a "full soul," if abortion is still available despite that proof my advice to women will be to really, REALLY think about how unhappy carrying the child to term will make them, because although a blob of cells would STILL not be the same as a human body, nor would a fetus too young to survive outside the womb, abortion would be separating a soul from its flesh... but nothing, NOTHING, could make me cast a vote or take any other action that would DENY women and girls access to abortion, because the consequences, both to the mothers and, far less importantly, my karma, could be indescribably bad.

I'm guessing that most folks would call killing a fetus murder if it was proven to have a soul, but, as I've pointed out before, what's morally right and what's karmically best are NOT always the same; morals are based on human judgment within a given culture, and karma is based on simple movements of energy with no judgment applied to them. In our culture, we see death as being worse than any amount of suffering, and that's probably true much of the time from most perspectives, but I just can't view the long-term suffering of a woman/girl as "less" than the death of an unthinking fetus; I'm generally all for taking the higher moral road even when there are unpleasant consequences, but not with this one.

This stuff makes me wish that the scifi idea of babies being grown in bottles and such was real; if a pregnant woman could transfer the fetus to a bottle, where it would grow and be born just as healthy as if she'd carried it, all this hysteria, all the political battles, all the despair, both of people who think abortion is murder and of those women who fear being unable to abort no matter what a wreck a pregnancy would make of their lives, all the protests and violence and hatred would vanish.

Is it just me who thinks that all this ugliness from people who claim to love the women and/or the fetuses is one of the sadder dichotomies of American culture?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

All they have to do is JUST... 

How many times have you heard this said in reference to something the speaker thinks OTHER people need to do that's horrifically difficult, but because it can be described simply is made to sound like an effortless thing that anyone who doesn't do is weak, stupid, etc. You know the sorts of comments I mean:

"If people want to lose weight, all they have to do is JUST put their forks down"... said by a naturally thin person who eats all day long and has never had to withstand real, excruciating, desperate hunger in their entire life, much less struggled to combat it every moment of every day for big chunks of time.

"If a person needs to stop smoking, all they have to do is JUST not put the cigarettes in their mouth"... said by someone who's never been addicted to anything and has no clue as to how ferocious the need for whatever the addiction is to becomes, or what the agony of withdrawal feels like.

"If someone's kid is getting overweight, all they have to do is JUST give them less food"... said by someone who's never cared for a child and thus has no idea how many different places they can get food from, or how impossible it is to monitor them every moment, AND has never endured a child begging and crying for something for even a few minutes, much less the endless barrage of misery a constantly hungry child would subject the parents to all day every day for MONTHS, and has no inkling of how every cell in a parent's body rebels against not acting to end their child's suffering.

"If they're depressed, all they have to do is JUST 'cheer up'"... said by people who are inexplicably unable to grasp that depression is an ILLNESS, that NO medical condition is cured by "cheering up," and that no one is able to alter their emotional state by force of will in any case.

The word "just" doesn't always appear in these statements, but if what's said, and the way it's said, is such that the word could be put in there without altering the intended meaning, it still counts... counts as the person saying it being smug, ignorant, arrogant, compassionless, and a bunch of other unpleasant things.

Now of course there ARE statements in this format that are NOT indicative of these things, such as "If he wants to get better grades, all he has to do is just quit going out every night and do some studying instead"; this one refers to something that anyone CAN do, and withOUT having to deliberately undergo infinite and unending pain, so it's in a totally different category than the earlier examples that contemptuously dismiss the simple fact that when people seem to be consistently unable to do a thing without extreme difficulty, if at all, it means that that thing is HARD, or even impossible, NOT that those people have failed to see some quick, easy, obvious thing that they SHOULD be doing to end their problem.

If you find yourself wanting to opine on a topic with "All they have to do is JUST," stop and think for a moment; are you intending to point out what a lazy person would be better off doing... or are you about to be insensitive and mean-spirited?

And now for the news:

My mother is in the hospital; she's got pneumonia in her left lung, and because of her status as a breast cancer patient they're keeping her overnight and will decide at some point later in the day if she needs to be there any longer. It's belatedly occurred to me that some of you might have sent out good wishes to her, as many of us do when we hear about an ill or injured person, and to all that have I want to say thank you; thought creates reality, and every little bit helps.

On a positive note; if you check in my sidebar... you know what's coming, right? Yes, it's a new doodad; if you put your cursor over where it says "Want to change my title?" a box will come up that asks you to "Type in a new title"... enter anything that comes to mind, hit "OK," and whatever you chose will appear at the very top of the screen. I've been having a ball with it; my current favorite is "Every blah blah blah."

I had a nearly problem-free installation... 2 in a row, that's sorta scary. It was a little tricky figuring out which commands I really needed, though, because in the source code I got them from they were surrounded by "div" this and "id" that, and I had to think it through and sort out which bits were actually doing something from those that were... formatting and who knows what else. My intuition proved correct, which gave me thoroughly disproportionate pride, and now I have something new to play with; I hope some of you get a couple of minutes of fun out of it too.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Email rants 

I've said this before, and I'll say it again; QUIT forwarding emails!! Almost everyone dislikes getting that sort of thing, so it's an irritant for them and a counterproductive use of time for you.

If for some unfathomable reason you still feel it necessary to forward stuff, show some frigging sense about how you handle the endless list of headers with 100 email addies each that all too often accompanies these semi-spam epistles. I got one of those saccharine friendship ones recently from someone I've been tight with for nearly 20 years, and I mean a highly intelligent, educated professional woman who should know better, and there was page after page of strangers' email addies prefacing the nonsense; this woman, who's so safety-conscious that even under torture she wouldn't give you anyone's phone # unless they'd told her it was ok, hadn't hesitated to send me and a bunch of other people something with the possibility to cause far more grief for countless strangers. Although I've adopted a policy of pointedly ignoring forwarded things to try to discourage people from sending them to me, I emailed her back to point out that it's NOT ok to pass along people's addies without their permission, and that she needed to delete them all before sending such an email to others. Her reply was that... brace yourself... she didn't know HOW to delete them, with the implication being that that closed the subject!! I assume that what she meant by not knowing how to delete wasn't that she'd never noticed her delete key, but that she doesn't know how to highlight a bunch of text for deletion, but whatever the issue is it doesn't change how this needs to be handled; I told her bluntly that she has to either delete those addies or not forward anything... preferably the latter. No reply from her yet, lol.

The other thing people need to be aware of when they send out bulk emails, whether they're forwarded or just informational letters about their lives sent to everyone they know (most of whom couldn't care less), is that when you CC it means that everyone you send that email to can see the addy of everyone ELSE you sent it to; unless the people you're sending to are ALL family members or a group of friends who all know each other, this is, again, NOT ok. Use BCC instead, as that prevents people from seeing any addy but yours... or better still, write a separate email for each person that includes references to THEIR lives, as letters to loved and liked ones used to always contain.

One of the things I've been doing this year is trying to reduce the time I spend emailing as much as possible. For the 1st time since I got online in 2000, I did NOT send out a "Happy New Year, haven't heard from you, how are you?" email to a zillion people in January; instead, I went through my address book and ruthlessly deleted as many addies as possible, as a symbolic gesture of how I was giving up the lingering non-relationships with folks I used to be in online clubs or forums with and gotten hooked into corresponding with because we were all supposed to be "friends." If I told you how many HOURS I used to spend every day writing emails, you just wouldn't believe it... and mind you, none of those people really added anything worthwhile to my life, they were just babbling about the band we both liked or spewing their problems at me to get an endless stream of support for which they gave nothing in return. There are just a few of those folks who still email me occasionally, and I send replies that are pleasant but not friendly enough to invite more frequent contact; more importantly, I've dropped my previous pattern of replying promptly to people who weren't replying to ME promptly, which slows down the pace a little and gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

There was one person who was emailing me daily, even though she doesn't know me well enough to say anything to me beyond "how are you?" and "how did you sleep?", because she's seriously mentally ill and glommed onto me since she has no real-life friends and I was nice to her, sigh; she just wants someone to complain to every day, and I finally called a halt to it... I had to be VERY blunt, and tell her that she needed to save all that for the shrink that gets PAID to deal with it, that our one-way communication did NOT constitute a friendship, and gave ME nothing of value in return for all the time she was taking up. Because she IS so messed up, I couldn't bring myself to blow her off totally, though, so I still hear from her; I hope I'll be able to detach her from me eventually, but I don't see how yet.

Almost as bad is another fairly unhappy person who writes to me about twice a month; she's started mostly ignoring the contents of my emails and just sending me all new stuff each time. I finally got aggravated enough to call her on it; I replied to a recent email from her with a pointed question about whether or not she'd gotten my last letter, and if so would she please reply to my comments and questions, and I'd then reply to both emails together... and a few days later, here came an email that was an actual REPLY to the previous one I'd sent her, with no attempt to claim that she'd mis-filed it or forgotten about it. I don't know what'd possess a person to keep emailing someone they couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the replies of, but I'm gonna start nailing her every time she does this, and hopefully she'll either get squared away or find someone WILLING to write emails to her that she'll ignore.

The final pet peeve I have about emails is when people can't wait to hear back from you even when you're writing back quickly, and send a 2nd email, and then a 3rd, and all of a sudden you're writing to them all day long trying to catch up... and then, when you take a deep breath, clear a block of time, gather ALL their emails together and reply to them in one gigantic letter, they take this as their cue to never write back. grrrrrrrrrrr

I'd be curious to know if people in general spend as much time emailing, and IM-ing, these days when everyone (except me) has a cell phone and text messaging, not to mention Skype more and more commonly, as they did 5 years ago; if they ever do a long-overdue comprehensive study of online life, I hope that'll be part of it.

Just as an FYI for my regular readers; in the 2 months since I switched to blogging on alternate days, I've caught up alot on sleeping and my backlogged tasks, but it's not nearly enough, and my pile of unread books and magazines hasn't even been touched, so I've decided, regretfully, to reduce to blogging every 3rd day. This is NOT an indication that I'm burning out or losing interest; I'd still absolutely prefer to blog daily, but I need to get things done, and sleep over 5 hours, more often than every 2nd day... I still hope that once I'm caught up I can blog more often, but either way the posts will keep coming.

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