Jobs, Hobbies, and Well Roundedness?

Perhaps I'm reading far too much in a beer commercial, but the Mich Ultra commercials really, really piss me off. They follow the typical trope that jobs are jobs and personal life is personal life, and never shall the twain meet.

I call bullshit. I might not like doing the fiddly things (forms, etc) my job has, I really love my job. And I love what I do at my job: write software. I love it so much, I do it as a hobby. I was doing it before it was my job. I was doing it before I went to college.

I don't feel the need to fill my time with activities to forget my job and what I do. I do fill my time with other activities besides coding, but not because I wish to escape my job, but because I guy with myopia and astigmatism shouldn't look at a monitor too much.

To all those who are unlucky to not do such a thing, you have some of my empathy. Just stop looking down your damn nose at me as I kill an evening writing code while you're out trying to forget your day at the bar, alright?

Book Review: The Golden Compass

I'm going to add book reviews to the list of things I put here. I don't like the cramped little spaces sellers and such have, nor do I like their little "star" systems. On the flip side, I'm not going to give a lengthy review either. I will mark a review if it has spoilers.

I know I'm massively late on this novel. And I'm not precisely the target audience for it (I'm thinking ages 10 to about 15). But I have to say, I rather enjoyed it.

I avoided the books a few years back when all the hoopla came about from our friendly wingnuts (the sort of folks that generally have issues separating fantasy from reality and like to burn books). I'm not a fan of hype, good, bad, or otherwise, and I tend to shun anything getting any hype.

First off: panserbjørne. I was sold on that concept alone. It decidedly appealed to the little boy in me: how cool is the concept of armored bears? Getting beyond the cool factor of the bears, I thought their culture was well fleshed out. It's a fairly spartan culture with strong honor-sense. Somehow, I got feelings of Klingons combined with Tolkien's Elves combined with, oddly, Ents and something else that escapes me at this time. Anyway, I found these creatures to be the most real of the others in this universe of Pullman's.

Keying off that last note, I did find most of the characters to be not quite three-dimensional. They were decidedly not as flat as characters in other books I've had the displeasure of reading, but they certainly don't come fully to life. Perhaps I am expecting too much for the genre, but I do compare these sorts of novels to Pratchett and, of course, Tolkein.

Beyond the 2.5 D (nah, make that 2.75 D, Iorek and Lee Scoresby are decidedly well rounded) characters, the world itself is rather fascinating. The Church and government are definitely behaving as entrenched power structures behave. Perhaps that's what freaked out the wingnuts: it shines an accurate light on their actions. I also like the message that the established scientists (aka Scholars) are just human and fallible.

I guess one thing really stuck in my craw. And this is your only spoiler alert, although I don't feel too bad as this book was published in 1995 (I feel miffed that I missed this thing for 14 years, then again, I first read Pratchett in 2005-6). The betrayal of Lyra by her father was telegraphed from the beginning. Perhaps I've just read too many alt-world/fantasy novels, but Lord Asriel decidely comes off as an antagonist from the very beginning. And the perternaturally good Farder Coram and John Faa set up the obvious counter-point to the "secretly" bad Asriel. An ends-justify-the-means sort of person, but minus the deeper character that help us empathize with him (perhaps he is better fleshed out in the later novels), it was obvious he was going to do something bad by the end.

All in all, I will give the book fairly high marks. It did pull me through the last 100 pages or so last night (when I should have been sleeping). I would definitely recommend it to anyone; it's a good short romp, but it isn't going to make you think deeply.



My Goofy Mind

I must confess, this introspection was caused by following a self-reference made on Halfway There by Zeno, and following another self-reference therein.

I've come to the conclusion that my attention to sports in anyway has been mostly an effort to fit in. Some of it was fun, once in a while, but I could just never take it seriously. I can't get rabid about it, and I certainly can't fathom the amount of money spent on the subject (I also doubt the tenuous contention that sports stadia bring worth-while income to a university.). It's supposed to be a game, to help you unwind. But it never seems to be the case.

I recall many summers being on park-and-rec teams and being berated for not trying hard enough. After a while, I became aware of the mixed message being pushed by the middle-aged men coaching these teams: have fun, but win. Good sportsmanship was a buzzword peddled to forestall fights. It was around this time that I convinced my mother that organized sports weren't my bag: my mind was far sharper than my body. There's a post in there somewhere about my mother pushing sports, and my father being resistant to the idea; signal to self: post about that.

It was also around that time that I ran into someone I would consider the first real friend I had. His suggestion, being an asportual individual himself, was that we take the weight training offered by park-and-rec. Sure, some of the guys from the actual school-tied sports teams showed up from time to time; but these were guys that were actually dedicated to the art form within the sport and trying to maximize that, not the vainglory sought by most on the team. I spent the entire summer learning that I liked exercise when the only measure I had was against myself. I improved what was then my declining health, and we just basically shot the shit all the time.

Over time my opinion wavered back and forth, but I think I've finally settled into the idea that far too much time and money is expended on sport. Especially sports of the individualistic variety. A while back, before I did some unspecified, unidentifiable damage to my knee, I went wall/rock-climbing three or four times a week, while it was free at the local wall with a friend of mine. No disrespect to said friend, but he seemed to want to get into far more depth than I was. He still casually tries to get me to go to the more expensive, but more elaborate, climbing gym. But, the thought of paying for what I could do for free, and was doing just for exercise and enjoyment, bothered me. It immediately conjured the mental imagine of summers spent in grassy outfields catching the occasional fly ball (up to a certain age, it's fairly rare for kids to hit a baseball hard enough to make outfield the important thing it is in more advanced settings). And I balked. And my knee mysteriously balked on me, and has done so from time to time over the last year or so, but that's something different.

Coming back to my original link-set at the top of this post, I think about my current unattachedness, especially in light of the fact that I've not had a meaningful romantic relationship with a woman in approximately two years (not for lack of attempts). I am fairly certain I am not asexual: I don't knee-jerk like your stereotypical construction worker, but I do double takes when lovely women pass (I'm not going to go into my definition of lovely). I've had intimate emotional/physical relationships with women; I respond on an emotional and physical in a way that one could consider typically male.

But lately, I've felt less of this. Perhaps as I get older I get more selective by learning from failed relationships (failures are excellent learning tools). And perhaps the fact that the pool I have for immediate selection has dwindled (even though, techinically, the pool is much wider than before) has something to do with it. I don't run into fellow unattached women at work; my field is still heavily dominated by men. Nor do I feel the need to go to the usual locations where folks get together: if I want a drink with friends, I'm having a drink with friends, I am not puffing up my plumage for selection.

Perhaps this is just all in my mind. I don't know. I also think my mind might be warped outside of the norm anyway. I will have more on that later. It was a fairly interesting revelation when it struck me a few weeks ago, and I am still chewing on the ramifications.



Head scratcher

You know, it's been a number of years since I wandered through high school. Perhaps it's the volunteer work I do with the high school aged kids, I see it more often and therefore it sticks out to me. But honestly, why the hell does everyone want to fit in so badly?

Perhaps I'm just misanthropic this evening. Who knows.

I'm thinking I'll do a longer follow up on this; it bears fleshing out.




I've been up to my eyeballs in work lately. Such is the life of a software engineer, I guess.

At the moment I'm too beat for a proper post, but something soon, I hope. If I can remember.