2.296. Garbage in?

I’ve been filling my head with short stories, trying to piece together a larger understanding of where the science fiction world is and is heading. I’m trying to figure out my place in all of it–reading and listening instead of creating my own slices of magic. It has been this way for a while now. I read far more than I write, but I am reading a better quality of stuff I think. Garbage in = Garbage out. So, the more and better I consume, the better the quality of the fiction that rises from the bones of what I’ve read.

The downside to all of it is that I’ve noticed a lot of trends–especially in the gamer genre stuff. There is a great deal more of the ‘we are living in a simulation’ stuff that was heavily commercialized by the matrix (though born from french philosophy) as well as the game within a game philosophy that posits that within any game there can be layers of games going deeper and deeper. None of it is new thinking or suggestive of any great push forward towards the, ahem, future of science fiction. It feels more like a genre treading water and waiting for a lifeboat to lead them to a new shore.

I’m not the lifeboat. I don’t have any great sci fi or fantasy piece lurking in my psyche. I’m a sociologist and what I write is largely reflective of the society I live in and the science I see projected towards a possible future use or misuse. I like to think I get by with solid descriptions and good character development. I am not breaking new ground.

So, I’m left with this search to find those who are breaking new ground and try to get a sense of what that looks like, either to model work in that vein, try something derivative, or see that new as the direction not to go and through that find the only path left leading into darkness. In the dark is where you find the new and mysterious. I just don’t know that I belong there.

2.295. On Appearance and Self-Esteem

I have not cut my hair in months. I shave fairly regularly, but the gray is creeping across my face like morning fog. There are patches of baldness at the top of my head, which started as coin-sized depressions but merged to form a continent of scalp. Elsewhere the hair has thinned to the point where I can suspect where the next depression may form. Through it all, the tide of my hairline is slowly receding. I have bad teeth. Not yellow, not usually, but not white either. They are bone colored teeth in a bed brown gums that show pink in places and bleed when I brush. Below the neck the situation is not much better. I’m fat. Not bulbous. Not the kind of fat where you develop a ‘front butt’ or wheez when you walk. I’m post-athletic fat. I am the remains of a skinny guy who has seen far too many donuts and far too little exercise. My skin is desert-dry. I can carve white letters across any bare expanse of flesh, and I can see the age lines burrowing deeper into me. I am aging, and I no longer look good.

 

Perhaps this is all internalized admonition, but it is completely relevant thought, because my self-esteem is tied into my looks. I want to be able to present a front of confidence, and if I don’t feel good about myself than I don’t treat myself right and don’t carry myself with the grace and confidence that makes up a part of who I am.

 

I am also terribly lazy, so who knows what actually comes of this admonition and revelation? Perhaps I sink into the ugly and cast myself lower and further into darkness. Perhaps instead I fold the gym and other exercise into a daily routine that adds years to my life and even to my skin. Perhaps I learn more about being healthy and take better care of my face, my teeth and gums, my gut. It isn’t as if I have nothing or nobody to live for. The reality of the situation is that once I found myself here it became hard to even understand how to get out.

 

I do have a reason to live. I do want to get out. I do dread the pain and change that comes as a result. Still, it would be great to feel great about me again.

2.294. Week END

After a long and fruitful weekend, I have nothing left to say. It all drained out of me. I wish I could end the blog there, call it ten minutes and go to bed, but I have about 8 more to get through. I’m not much for recaps tonight. Here’s what I can offer: won some awards, learned some stuff. That’s about it.

I can say that I am going back to school knowing I have but a few weeks left to endure for the semester and precious little left to share with my students. What I do need to do is grade a bunch of work and provide them with some sense of where things are for them in that sense. This has been a weak (very weak) semester for me, and I need to get back to basics. For me basics mean innovating and really focusing on creating an environment where learning is a byproduct of them pursuing goals.

Like I said, I’m drained. I’m pecking out the remaining minutes, searching for something relevant or at least cogent to say. Don’t have a lot.

 

2.293. Cognitive Bandwith

Lately I’ve born witness to a great many people speaking about Trump, without really speaking about Trump. It goes like this: They speak of a quality or behavior that is reprehensible and then speak to the negative consequences of the promotion of that quality. It never goes well for Trump supporters. I think I understand why.

Most recently I listened to a speaker who was discussing arrogance and confidence. The speaker, a social psychologist, talked about how confidence is positive and arrogance is poisonous and how we can see the effects of each in people in our society. As she explained her point of view I couldn’t help but to think about Trump (a natural reaction) and the people who support Trump. I thought about how they would react to the conversation. They’d know immediately who she was talking about and then something would happen–as it does when I have these talks myself. The supporters would be turned off by her words. This isn’t because they think she is wrong or they support arrogance, but because they support Trump. What tends to happen is that such arguments clog up the cognitive bandwith. Unconsciously, the people who’ve chosen to align themselves with Trump will start to see the speaker as an enemy–the other, if you will. It is hard for us to identify with the other or to accept that what the other is saying might make sense, because the ‘other’ makes us feel threatened and defensive. It is far more difficult to see reason when you see the enemy through the fog of war.

Where political entitities have been most successful is in drawing upon that them vs. us mentality and making it more than a passing then. It is now the way impressionable minds are cultured. To everything.

Some Thoughts:

  1. In continuing to reflect on perceptions I’ve recognized that I give red heads a pass on looks. That is to say I have a much lower standard of beauty when it comes to redheads. I’ve noticed this again and again over the past week, and again just now watching someone on TV. Turns out the red hair is what makes them attractive whereas the rest isn’t as much so.

2.292. Convention Blog

I started this blog with the loose intention of talking about how different it is to be a faculty amongst advisors who are generally not faculty. I found myself writing words of comparison in my head to being a black man. That isn’t a very fair or relevant comparison. It isn’t even a necessary topic, if I’m being honest. I tend to write about what I am dealing with. Right now I am sitting in an Advisor 101 meeting for PTK and wondering how to discretely cross the room and escape.

 

I cannot.

 

I should’ve known what this would be. I did know for sure when the host started off with, “If you do nothing else as an advisor, make sure you sign up new members.” In that moment it became the recruitment song. It became more about PTK-org getting numbers than providing any real advisement and or mentorship. We’ve been here for 15 minutes and it’s the same song. So, I tuned out.

 

Now I’m thinking about writing and all of the great things I want to write and do with this blog space. I’m thinking about my value as more than someone to sign up members to fill someone’s coffers. I am a teacher. I am a learner. I am someone who has a lot to give and wants to give all of it.

 

I am also a man who is sometimes lost in what he wants to receive; in what he wants to do with his time. I am a man who leaves this earth to build a new world in the block simplicity of Minecraft, because I know I can succeed in that world, and I know that failure is fairly real and easy to recover from.

 

I am a man who has passed the crossroad and committed to a different kind of life. I am a man who will be who he was meant to be… I am a man who is learning what that actually means. I am a man who is learning what things bring him joy and what things he thinks do, but don’t.

 

 

2.291. Polarization

Bob Corker, who famously sparred with Trump, did an interview on CNBC this morning that reminded me about how the U.S. really works. Everything from what he said about his past interviews to his stance on why people continue to work with Trump rang true. The biggest message he sent out, in my opinion, was a reminder that Republicans are always going to support a President who passes their legislation–same as Democrats. He reminded me that everything ultimately comes down to that sense of Tribalism. It is very much about what side you are on, and how that side chooses to interpret reality.

So, afterwards I turned on GMA for a moment and then switched to Fox News to see what they had to say. It turns out that Corker is very much discussing the end result of the polarizing influence of the media. It shows in this brief comparative viewing. GMA, whose audience comes from both sides of the proverbial aisle approached two stories very differently than Fox approached the same stories. The first story, the one about the Southwest plane crash, was more about the engine and how often that type of engine is used for Fox. In fact, they spent less time on the overall story than GMA and selectively used parts of the same quotes from the pilot that GMA used. Instead they spent the story–led the story with the fear factor. Later when Fox spoke about James Comey, the differences were even more clear.

Fox focused on this quote from Comey, “All we are in this country are a collection of values,” he said. “And that’s what unites Republicans and Democrats.” The anchors actually laughed, snorted, and derisively shook their heads. Then they brought on a woman, Dana Loesch, who they referred to as a TV show host to give her opinion. What they didn’t explain is that Loesch is the firebrand spokeswoman for the NRA, a deeply political group that has put up a ton of money to support Trump and the Republican agenda that Comey (until recently a registered Republican) appears to be threatening with his words.

So, this is where we are. Who knows where we can go from here.

2.290.

Just thoughts. Raw thoughts…

 

Some Thoughts:

  1. I guess I’m on my grind. I’m looking to drop 20 lbs by August. I’m a work in progress, but I really need to get to work and figure out a plan of attack. The key is to do some muscle building and train cardio at 125 heart rate.
  2. Discovered a new (new to me) text on Dyslexia, which is reshaping my understanding of the disability and helping me understand my son more.
  3. Gregg Popovich is among the greatest coaches in the history of the sport of basketball. Today he lost his wife of 40+ years. My thoughts and love go out to Pop. He’s always been a great humanitarian and a voice for the disenfranchised. Basketball aside, for a man to lose his life partner is a sad thing. The question of how you go on becomes like a pressure building against the sides of your skull. He is not even the most famous Texan to lose his partner in the last few days. Barbara Bush passed. While I was not a lover of her son’s presidency, I did appreciate the time she spent in office and what she brought to the office of the first lady. I have nothing but respect for her as a woman and as a public figure.
  4. Managed to watch a Cavs game. This team is not winning it all this year. Lebron is carrying them, and it shows. Still, they are very small and soft inside. They look like a team designed to beat… well, no one. Tristan Thompson has disappeared.

2.289. Late Nights

Today was a stressful day, because I felt the weight of all my responsibilities and something like a wall looming up against the edge of the day. It felt like I was out of time to do everything, and as a result could do nothing at all. It was a bit too much for a day. It also led to mistakes. It taught me a valuable lesson: If you’re going to deal with a lot of pressure, you gotta be set up with a checklist at the very least. Without it you’re hoping to both deal with the pressure and deal with the responsibility and that doesn’t seem quite sustainable.

Some Thoughts:

  1. Sounds like Brandon Marshall is all but done in NYC. It sounds like injuries are the reason, which leaves a smidge of cap room to sign one Dez Bryant. Do it. He’s hungry.
  2. Nikki Haley vs. the White House is something to pay attention to over the next few days. Turns out Trump is exactly who we thought he is, and he is also not willing to play hardball with Russia. Makes me wonder if there is a pee tape…

2.288. Plane

Sitting in the airport cell lot and waiting for the Delta flight to arrive is not the right time to be listening to Mraz’s ‘Plane’. Yet, here we are. I fall fully and easily into the inappropriate. Perhaps it is the training in sociology and the knowledge that I no longer entirely care about social convention. What I do care about is love and happiness. Both were in short supply for a significant chunk of the last decade. Both are nurtured beyond all expectation by my partner and what we both put into this thing we call a partnership. She does very much get me high minded.

 

Meanwhile, the Arizona desert is cooling in the breeze of full spring and I am enjoying these moments. I am loving the fact that I get to be here and enjoy the outdoors and the people I love with as few complications as seem possible in this particular life.

 

Meanwhile I am writing and not writing. I am painting a gigantic canvas with a toothpick, dwelling in the smallest of moments and not addressing the big picture. It is the way I’ve been writing for the last decade, which is to say very difficultly and minimally. Still, there are stories lurking in the front of my brain which is to say nothing of the ones waiting in the queue until these are handled. But will they be?

 

Meanwhile I’ve ducked and dodged the gym for a week after building for the better part of the previous week towards a routine I can stick to. I have all kinds of excuses. My favorite is that I don’t have a heartbeat monitor to quickly show my BPM so I can know that I am in the proper zone for fat burning. Yay science.

2.287. Reflections on a Sunday Night

I am still quite disappointed in the NFL. There are layers to my displeasure, but right now I am really focused on the draft and how pundits and experts have helped the NFL turn it into a massive spectacle. Yesterday I kvetch’d about how the NFL listed the top 51 number one picks in order and that order greatly upset me (what the kids these days are calling ‘being triggered’). I was pissed at how much they take for granted that the draft is really about a team making a big splashy announcement that they can speculate on leading right up to it and complain or continue to speculate on leading away from it. This represents the most basic abuse of the fourth estate. Let’s not forget that the NFL owns the NFL network, so the establishment is controlling the check(book) and the balance.

The more I listen to these dudes (and it is almost entirely dudes responsible for these predictions) fill air time, the more I am convinced that they are trying to convince teams to make these crazy picks in order to make a splash and prove that they know what they are talking about. Only thing is this: there is no penalty for the media if they get it wrong on the draft. We keep listening. What makes this year different is that two teams that matter to me are drafting very early and are in danger of listening to some really bad advice. Don’t waste the pick, NY. Don’t waste the chance for something and someone amazing.

No, it isn’t a QB.