Category Archives: Work

Problems with modern American Culture

In the past few days I have had two problems with American culture smack me in the face.  One in my personal life and one from a coworker.


The first is a recent scare in my life.  I’ve been having some pain in my testicle, and after a few days of it not clearing up, did some investigating and discovered a very painful lump.  You know what the first assumption Americans jump to when they find a mysterious lump, right?  Cancer!  We’re surrounded by that diagnosis every day.  WebMD tends to be particularly fond of it as a diagnosis, and we all know someone, or multiple someones, who have cancer or who have fought cancer(successfully or not).  So, my brain made that jump.

I did my reading and logically knew that cancer was only an outside chance in this.  But it was still there.  Since my wife’s mother died of cancer, it freaked her out.  In all, we went 2 days (between when lump found, and could get to doctor) with a simmering terror that was not really needed.  Logic and emotion response have a only a very passing relationship with each other after all.

So, we made it to the doctor.  After some discussion of onset and symptoms and one of the most painful exams I’ve ever been through, the doc ruled that the odds of it being cancerous was extremely low.  His prognosis: infection.  While an infection there is hardly something to be happy about, it’s a major relief from fears of cancer!  So, antibiotics it is.  Should hopefully be fine in a couple weeks.  In the meantime, I just get to walk funny.


The second problem is less personal, but makes me more angry.  It is more of a problem than the last.  The first problem has some basis in reality; it’s an unhealthy but somewhat understandable paranoia we’ve developed.  This second just makes me mad.  A coworker of mine is trying to lose weight.  She thinks she’s fat and wants to fix it.  I applaud her husband who appears to not be on the same page as her on this (and frustrated her yesterday with a gift of cookies, which is how I learned of this in the first place).  This woman is not fat.  She might, maybe, be clinically overweight.  If so, only by a small amount.  I don’t always agree with that ruling, either.  Depending on where they measure my height and weight at a given time, I am just barely within the healthy weight range and I’ve always thought I was underweight.  Women, though, suffer from this far more than men.

Women are taught, and shown, a certain standard of beauty that they are supposed to fit in to.  It’s utter rubbish and insulting to both men and women.  A woman should have curves.  I’ll say that again a different way.  A woman should have a little weight on her bones.  I want a woman with some hips, a little cushion on the backside and some nice sweater stuffers.  At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, she has gorgeous curves, with one of the greatest backsides I’ve ever seen (shortly behind my wife and Alexis Texas).  Which is, of course, the kind of thing I really can’t tell her, especially in a work environment.

I wish we could get through to the media, and the women of this country, that super thin is not the ideal for beauty.  Bring back more beauties like Marilyn Monroe.  She was infinitely more attractive than Jennifer Anniston or Pamela Anderson or most any of the women being held as standards these days.  This is not to say that these women are not attractive in their own way, but that is not that kind of standard that every woman should hold herself to.  Every woman should find her own brand of beauty.  Any woman, of any size, can be beautiful if she revels in her own appearance and exudes confidence in herself.  That’s true beauty and true sexy.  We just need to get the media to understand it.


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You only have 1 life to live, make it one you can be proud of

As an aside before I begin this post, I find it interesting how much environment effects mindset.  I composed most of this post while driving in to work this morning.  As soon as I got here, I jotted down some “sign posts” for myself on my notepad to remind me how I wanted it to flow.  I then sat down and started getting ready for my day of logical, analytical thinking.  As things got busy, I didn’t get around to writing the post until now.  I find that I am now having a hard time thinking the same way I was this morning.  The “creative juices” just aren’t flowing that way now.  Stuck in the overly logical mindset.


I have an advantage that many people sadly don’t have.  Well, I suppose that there are several if you analyze my life, but what I am referring to here is the fact that I had amazing teachers when I went to school.  I had at least one teacher every year I was in jr high and highschool that truly touched my life.  Which is not meant to discount some of the amazing teachers I had in elementary school.  I was truly blessed in the education dept.  One teacher, though, truly stands out.  Mr Ray was my creative writing teacher my Jr. year and my English teacher and adviser for the Literary magazine I was editor of my Sr year.

Mr Ray was a jazz musician who had taken about a decade off between highschool and college to tour the states with other great jazz musicians such as Gene Harris.  Then he settled down and got married and started teaching.  The man was a wealth of real world information, not just booksmarts, and very supportive of peoples dreams and nurturing intelligence.  Not just classic intelligence but artistic and emotional intelligence as well.  So, when he gave me advice, I usually took it to heart.  At one point towards the end of my Sr year, he told me about what he called a Gentleman’s Journal.  Now, I can’t find any reference online to this concept.  Certainly not under that name, nor any other variations I could think of.  The basic idea of this Journal was for a man to keep notes of quotations he liked, philosophical thoughts and ideas that occurred to him and advice for future generations.  The way he told me about this concept was in telling me that he hoped I kept one and got it published so he could read it one day.

When he told me about that, I thought it was a neat idea and figured I might consider it.  I wasn’t aware at that point how much of an impact the man had on my life or the significance of how highly I regarded his advice.  Looking back on that day now, I’m deeply honored that he would be interested in reading my Gentleman’s Journal.  I haven’t really kept such a thing in a single consolidated location, but I certainly have all of this scattered about from throughout the years.  This blog as well as others.  My facebook account.  Journals and notebooks I have around my house.  That sort of thing.

What brings all this to mind to me again is actually a lyric from a song I heard on my way to work this morning.  It wasn’t a song I’d ever heard before, and I only caught a small snippet of it as I was cruising stations.  “You only have one life to live, ” and another line I heard but don’t remember.  This got me thinking about all the variations of that phrase I’ve heard, which got me wondering about people on their death beds.  You hear things to the effect of you mostly regret the things you didn’t do.  I wonder, though, if that’s generally true and what life lessons could be learned from truly plumbing the experience of people who have lived long full lives.  Which brought me to the concept of the gentleman’s journal that Mr Ray had told me about all those years ago.

Now, I’m hardly old enough to give deep, meaningful life advice, but my completion to that quote would be “make it one you can be proud of.”  Now, that’s going to have different meanings to different people, and I think that’s part of what makes it good advice.  Trying to apply static advice to the masses is like trying to put the same dip on all foods.  I love ranch, but I wouldn’t want it on my cheesecake!

Like anyone, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes.  Maybe more than, considering all that I’ve been blessed with.  However, I feel that our mistakes are a large part of who we are.  They teach us, mold us and define us in to who we are just as much(maybe more so) than our successes.  I have things I truly regret, but regret is part of who we are as well.  The important part is, in my opinion, that we regret the right things and learn from them.  That we take our mistakes and use them to help make us a better person.  We all have mistakes, but if you can make the most of them, then you can live a life to be proud of.

I don’t think I’m any kind of expert on life or how to live it.  My philosophies on the matter are a stew of other peoples advice I’ve been given over the years.  I think it turns out pretty good, but like with any food, taste is subjective.  I’m going to start compiling my Gentleman’s Journal.  I have no delusions that I could possibly get it published, but thanks to Mr Ray, I have the gumption to try.  So, I say to you: You have only have one life to live.  Are you making it one you can be proud of?

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Here an app, there an app

I sent my second android app to Amazon for review.  Yay.  AarWeThereYet is something I built based off of a discussion I stumbled across.  People were talking about the apps they wish they had and someone said they wanted an alarm system that would tell him when he was getting close to where he was going.  He takes public transit to work every morning and wishes he could take a nap, but is afraid he’d miss his stop.  So, I built his app.  “Ask and thou shalt receive!” I say.  So, now I’m currently between app ideas.  Do you have one?  Let me know and I’ll see if it’s something I think I can do.  On a related note, AarDice is up to 36 downloads!  whoa!

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“I’m Mr Lonely”

Feeling lonely today.  Don’t know why.  Wish I could stay in bed, cuddled with my wife all day listening to melancholy music.  Just one of those days.

Unfortunately child, and then work must be taken care of.  So, at work I am.  Listening to Counting Crows and already counting the hours until i get to go home.  Not that I think home will solve it.  But it does have a better chance than work.  <shrug>

On the up side, at least vday is almost here.  I’ve had things hidden from my wife for a month now and will finally get to put them out.  It’s hard to keep things away from her at all, let alone this long.

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tweedle dee dee

I’ve been pretty lax about posting again.  Just haven’t had a whole lot I felt was worth posting I guess.  Working, schooling, coding.

I took last week off from work.  That was remarkably refreshing.  If you disregard the horrible stomach bug I had Wednesday, it was a good week.

Started up a new school semester last week, too.  More Javajavajavajavajava, and a technical communications course.  blech.  but, you take what you have to take for your degree, I guess.  It won’t be too bad, I just don’t expect to learn a whole lot from it.  Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

AarDice is up to 10 downloads.  Woohoo.  That’s about 8 more than I’d expected.

Very happy today because the hurricane tornado that was supposed to go through my sister’s part of Tennessee didn’t do any damage.  Still a stressful night on her end, though.  Poor thing.

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Now I’ve done it!

I just submitted my first android app to the amazon app store.  I’m both excited and terrified.  I didn’t do it really to make money off of it, but to get some experience with the process.  The app itself isn’t anything all that special, even.  Pretty basic dice roller app for table top role-playing games.  Tried to add in a few things to make it stand out a little, at least.  Mostly it was just an educational experience for me, though.

All that being said, if it made a little money, I would not be heartbroken.  I don’t know how long the review process is before it actually hits the store.

oh!  the app name, you know, the shameless self plug:  keep an eye out for AarDice, ver 1.0, coming soon!

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Parting is such sweet sorrow.

The semester has gone.  Took my final yesterday and am quite certain I aced it.  I miss the class already.  Teacher was wonderful and the content was enjoyable.  I’m really looking forward to the next semester and diving deeper in to programming concepts.

Of course, I’m also dreading next semester a little because I don’t know how well I’ll handle it.  I’m working full time and raising a (now 8 month old) baby.  This semester I took it easy since it’s my first semester back after years of no school, and only have 2 credit hours.  Next semester I’m looking at 7.  Yeep!  Now, I know there are people out there who work full time and go to school full time and raise a child.  Some of them even do it as single parents.  These people are blessed/cursed with some form of super power that I do not believe that i have.  7 credit hours between two classes does seem doable to me, though.  Only time will tell.

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Another day at the Cole Mines

Today is the first day since my “Very Bad Day” that I haven’t felt hung over.  Which is refreshing.  It’s still a very down day, though.  Possibly because I have been off of my antidepressants for most of a week.  As much as I try to convince myself that I don’t really need them and only take them to humor my wife, it’s days like this that kick that fantasy in the teeth.  While it may not sound like a big thing to many, I’ve been thinking today about quitting and finding different work.  Now, I normally love my job.  I love the company I work for.  There is talk of a promotion for me in the near future.  I really have no desire to quit.  I got a bad Q.A. today, though, and it simply hit just right with my emotional slump to bring up those thoughts.  It’s also kind of a slow day at work.  For some reason those always make me feel kind of sad.  I work in tech support; if it’s a slow day here, it means things are working right, so I should be happy.  It’s probably because it give me more time to dwell on things.  Like most depressives, when my mind has time to dwell, it usually finds something negative to dwell on.

Depression is a funny thing.  Okay, so not haha funny obviously, but odd.  When I was younger, I was quite obviously suffering from depression.  While I was that way I wrote, a lot.  I was good at it and it was something I was able to take a lot of joy in.  I didn’t write bad emo poetry or anything like that, I wrote novellas, short stories.  I tried to write novels, but never got very far.  I have always had a bad habit of not finishing big projects like that.  As soon as I got on antidepressants, though, I quit writing.  I’ve tried to write since then, and can’t even really get started.  It’s like depression was my muse.  I always thought I would be a writer.  So did many of the people who knew me.  I had a lot of talent.  Why can’t I have that talent when I’m not constantly depressed?

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My lines are well rehearsed

I work with people for a living.  I’m not a terribly social person by nature, but I do okay in a professional setting.  I can chit chat with someone I’m helping much better than I can some other random individual.  The purpose, fixing whatever they have going wrong, lends me some sort of bravery or added comfort or something.

In the course of working with these people, there are silent gaps.  Silent gaps on the phone tend to make people impatient and/or nervous and those comes in the art of small talk.  Talking about the weather or sports or cracking jokes about my wife are common enough.  And while I don’t enjoy it, I do get through it and make people laugh.  Making people laugh when they are upset about something makes the support process much more bearable for both parties.  So many of the things I say, though, are things I say 5 or 6 times a day.  I’m not talking about the instructions I give or the comments of sympathy for the user’s situation, though those are also used throughout the day, but the “witty” remarks and wisecracks I use, I use all day long.  One of the more common arises when someone apologizes to me that there computer is slow.  Things like

“sorry, I have an old computer, this may take a minute”

are common and I respond the same way almost every time.

“That’s okay.  One of the first things you learn in this line of work is patience.  After all, it doesn’t matter how much of a hurry you are in, the computer will take as long as it wants.”

This pretty much always gets me a chuckle out of my caller.  That’s great.  Like I said before, it’s good for your caller to laugh.  It also puts them at ease because it lets them know I’m not going to get impatient or upset over their slow computer and stops them from apologizing for it another half dozen times.  Win Win, right?  I suppose it is, really.

Unfortunately, it also makes me feel like a machine, using prerecorded lines.  I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve been using the same jokes and comments for a good chunk of that time.  Every once in a while I think of a new one and toss it in and I’m proud of myself for a couple days until it gets old, too.  I just don’t know what to do with it.  In the end, I enjoy my work and my employer treats me well, so I’m not leaving.  It’s just a small aspect of my work and not enough to drive me away anyways.  It does make me wonder, though, how comedians and politicians do it.  Using the same jokes and canned phrases day after day after day…. I guess in the end, it’s all just a form of theatre.

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