Monthly Archives: December 2009

Random Thoughts on… [for 12/8/2009]

… Secret Santa

As expected, today’s Secret Santa went off pretty much as expected though I will admit that I’m disappointed at the depths to which some of my team has sunk this year. As I described yesterday, they wanted to make sure this didn’t happen next year so they bought intentionally uninspiring gifts. Buying a female co-worker deodorant, a stain stick and a container of Vaseline, while amusing in the company of one’s male co-workers, is asking to be poked with a very sharp stick in my book. Nonetheless, they ploughed forth unconcerned with the consequences. What is amusing to me though is the dichotomy of the participants. While half of them intentionally did nothing, the other half have really done their utmost to try to not only stay within the defined bounds of the rules but also try to be thoughtful. It’s very touching to see a male co-worker actually make an effort on behalf of someone else in the office despite the fact that they’ve been strong-armed into participating in something they really couldn’t possibly have less interest in. The real test will come at the end of the week, however, when those who didn’t try realize that by their non-participation, they’ve cheated the others. This is where we separate the truly nice people from the mere pretenders.

… Pleading the 5th.

The news reports that our White House ‘party crashers’ are taking the 5th and refusing to testify in their own case. Am I the only one who takes this as an out and out admission of guilt? I understand that the judicial process has its rules but if a defendant is in such an indefensible position that their own testimony will add more culpability to their case then it will remove, then doesn’t that lead one naturally to surmise their guilt? I sincerely wonder how many people are exonerated after refusing to testify in their own defense. If they are, then it must surely only be because they’ve eliminated the witness with the most intimate knowledge of their guilt by refusing to testify.

… Lennon, John

To paraphrase… John is dead, miss him, miss him.

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Random Thoughts on… [for 12/7/2009]

… Gather
For the past several years I’ve hung my virtual hat on Blogger and Facebook and have come to notice that while there’s a lot of inane chatter, there’s very little of actual consequence there. If I want to know about someone’s choice of toenail polish for the day (don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of toenail polish) or what they’re having for dinner or what they happen to be watching on television, then I go to Facebook, but don’t try to hold an actual conversation there or expect whomever you happen to be speaking with to be able to spell whatever they may try to articulate. After years on Facebook, Gather has been a total surprise to me. I’ve received more reaction to my work from total strangers on Gather than I received in years from people on Facebook that I look at in person every single day. More than that though, the feedback has been intelligent, polite and helpful. This community seems to be what the internet has been missing for so many years.

That said, there’s also a dark side that’s creeping in here. Clearly, some people are just here for the points and while the point system is useful for getting things started, I believe that this mercenary attitude could well be the death of this place. Try to find a conversation on other older sites like Yahoo and you’ll find a graveyard of spambots all ceaselessly chattering at each other about the latest in male enhancement. This is the future I fear for Gather. I already see groups dedicated to spamming the system and vacuous comments from groups like the “Helping Hand” that I surmise are designed just to get points in exchange for doing nothing but leaving an inane message. I hope we choose to keep this place about “us” and not about the points.

… Secret Santas

This year our office is doing a ‘secret santa’ and since my department is 100% male, I’ve listened all week to moaning and groaning from the guys about having to get gifts for the women in our partner department that is 100% female. There’s even talk of getting the women incredibly inappropriate gifts in order to assure that this never happens again. Personally, I can’t say that I understand the objection. Sure, it can be a bit of a pain but if you don’t have a terrible attitude about it, it can be amusing enough. It’s just a shame that we can’t at least TRY to have a good attitude about it.

… John Barleycorn

Over a year ago I started reading this not-so-well-known Jack London novel but never quite finished due to some untimely personal drama. Yesterday I picked it up again and after having digested a small part of it, I’m just realizing again why this novel was so easy for me to relate to. Firstly, this novel is London’s bald-faced exposition of his own personal problems. He goes into excruciating and personal detail about his alcoholism and while I don’t share that issue myself, I appreciate the complete candor with which he approaches the topic. It’s unconstructive to try to hide from such things, least of all from yourself. On a more literal level, London describes in detail the process of actually becoming an alcoholic. It’s counter-intuitive to go from visceral dislike of something (alcohol is, above all else, an unpleasant beverage at its core) to NEEDING it every single day just to survive but London describes the process brilliantly and accurately. I’m in a unique position to judge this having taken my first drink at the age of 35. I remember very distinctly and adultly thinking, “How can anyone keep this down?” followed slowly over months by, “Hey, I really like this.” It is an acquired taste to be certain and London does the process great literary justice.

Message ends.

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