Sunday, November 26, 2006

the in-between times

i've been realizing more and more how much i like commercials. not all of them specifically, but just in general. i guess the reason for this is my really short attention span...i like getting "the whole message" in a minute or less. automatically cuts through the superfluous stuff. (i use the word "superfluous" whenever possible.) and to me, a lot of commercials are funny, either because they actually are funny, or because they're falling so short of successfully being funny.

the commercials during sports events are sometimes more interesting than the sports events. i find that if i'm doing something like typing on my computer while i'm watching the game, i won't look up until they cut to a commercial break. with sports events, you have a lot of really funny ads which, for some reason, don't usually do a good job of advertising any kind of product, much less of making me want to buy it. but that's the marketing department's problem, and not mine. i just like to laugh.

what i really don't like are the manipulative kinds of commercials. and don't get me started on campaign commercials (which, ok, i actually don't have much of a problem with, but it's pretty popular to say you hate them, so i thought i'd try that out). i mean the ones that appeal to patriotism, family values, etc, to sell things like garden tools or trucks or checking accounts. we've all seen the beer commercials that are basically a montage of holidays and families and snowy farms with some music in the background, and the screen just says "BUDWEISER" or something like that. there are also lots of truck commercials that are full of the same kind of thing...patriotic country music, mud splashes, semi-rugged terrain, and american flags flying all over the place. oh....and who really thinks banks are supposed to be all family-oriented and stuff? life insurance commercials, alright, the family-playing-in-the-backyard template (although overdone) does fit the product. but a bank doesn't need to convince me that they love my family. what you never EVER see in bank commercials is how secure they are. i'm just thinking, do you have locks on your doors? a good safe? is my cash underground, or like sitting out in the open? people assume that just because a bank is freely giving of their friendly small-town smiles, they know how to keep money safe. i just want to know that when i send in my dollaz, they're not going anywhere. when you go looking for a new bank, you don't tell yourself "i need someone who can take care of me throughout the various stages of my life" or "i just want someone who will understand me and my family." no. for those things, you need a therapist, not a bank.

do you people like commercials? which ones are your favorites? un-favorites? general and specific thoughts?

Saturday, November 18, 2006


we all want to change the world in some way. me, i always figured that my assigned venue was either writing or politics. seeing as how it took me about eight attempts to write that last sentence -- and also because i just used the phrase "seeing as how" -- that leaves politics.

i've had a job in a political realm for...let's see...over four years now, with some time off here and there. and you'd think four years is not nearly long enough to initiate the changing of the world. you are (if you think that) wrong. while many of my projects are very subversive in nature and (obviously) therefore secret, i am going to share some of the changes i've managed to provoke in my time there.

my main project in the works right now is two-pronged. first, i've been gradually converting the entire building to military time, by using 24-hour time in verbal and written communication whenever remotely possible or vaguely relevant to conversation. example: me, to a random person: "hey, do you have the time? i have to be someplace at 16:00. is it past 15:30? oh wait, here's my watch. oh good, it's 15:20...whew, only 15:20. any later, like 15:25, and i'd be late." OR "i was actually home by like, 23 last night." once it's in their minds, they'll start using it in important documents.

secondly, i am also subversively changing the date system. i just really hate when people write dates like this: 11/17/06. first, those ridiculous slashes are just plain messy and (in my opinion) completely unprofessional, especially in handwriting when they are very easily mistaken for 1s. so i write the date one of two ways, either 17-11-06, or 17 Nov 06. spaces and dashes can't be mistaken for for any other numbers. oh, and i bet you didn't even notice the way i converted the time format, did you?? likely you were taken aback by the boldness of using dashes or spaces instead of slashes. and you failed to recognize that i am actually using the much more sensible day-month-year format, instead of month-day-year. and of course i use that (far more reasonable) format on all the permanent records i prepare.

other smaller achievements thus far:
-i converted one of my coworkers to the FOX news channel (we still have no idea why they capitalize all of the letters).
-i came up with an innovative, brilliant plan for organizing the tea bags and napkins in the coffee room.
-i left a lot of really funny quotes and drawings in the Page Notebook for future young (bored) servants of the Legislature to appreciate. and....i'm not really sure what that accomplished, but i'm sure it counts for something.
-most people, i think, have it in their minds that everyone in a political building is boring and ugly. this is mostly true, but i've taken it upon myself, as my civic duty, to flirt shamelessly with all the guys who are there on tour, to convince them otherwise. surely many of them have gone on to become politicians or dynamic community leaders.
-i've beat plenty of people in political discussions. these people are not senators or decision makers, but you know what they say about the trickle-up effect.
-i helped to initiate approval by Management of colored t-shirts underneath the white shirts we as Pages were required to wear. the boys got to wear colored ties, so why shouldn't we be able to have just a tiny bit of color in our wardrobe??
-i "accidentally" spilled scalding coffee on a senator who was running past me on his way to vote on a bill. he missed the vote, and my side won by ONE. (our state does not, therefore, have expanded gambling, and also the gas prices came down.) i always have coffee with me now, just in case (but the particularly liberal legislators have begun carrying Tide Bleach Pens and edging up against the opposite wall when they see me in the hallway).

see, we can change the world. it takes some time, but it helps to have small milestones to help measure your success!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Pac-man Pie Chart

just thought you all might appreciate this one.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

a park of thoughts

the fruit of this week's brain activity:

language is a very good thing. like i said in my last post, we use it to exchange information and ideas that bring us closer as human beings. essentially, words are no more than spoken versions of thoughts. ideas and thoughts in our brains (before we let them out) seem to me like spiritual things, because in some sense they aren't physical, even though you can map them out on a colorful graph with technology how it is. but when we take a thought and try to cram it into the little box called language just so we can share it with someone else, there are endless chances for it to be warped in the translation. anytime you take something complex -- like a beautiful painting with depth and every conceivable shade of color -- and try to reduce it into something more formulaic or express-ible -- like turning that picture into 8-bit color -- most of its significance and beauty will be lost. that is why music is so universally moving, because it lends a taste of the eternal. it somehow supercedes the dimensions we're cramped in, and gives a tiny glimpse of what we were made to be.

sometimes the richness of some of life's experiences are cheapened or dulled by trying to find words to wrap around them. language is a clumsy barrier to communication when you're trying to convey something that is so far beyond our fabricated dialect that it does your thoughts a crude disservice to try and describe them.

that's why learning to communicate is so hard. humans are complex, colorful paintings, somehow residing, if partly and temporarily, in a rigid 8-bit world. like an entire symphony being played on a simple child's recorder.

this is why sometimes i think dying will be like breathing a sigh of relief, like shucking off a really uncomfortable outfit...we won't be confined by the physical anymore. i hope that doesn't sound too morbid. but think about it.

i've had these and so many others of these interconnected thoughts swarming around in my mind lately, and it really helps to type them out. (there was a LOT more that i'm not posting right now.) i know the last few weeks of posts have been a little weird. i am usually long winded because my brain is like this great big park where all the sidewalks connect and meet each other and you can get to anywhere by way of any of the sidewalks.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

what is it about the simple exchange of data that creates this exclusively human bond called friendship? why do people care about small stuff like movies and music and clothes and tv? and why do we rely on the exchange of this meaningless information to build human relationships? aren't we all far worse off for it? why don't we just talk about real things all the time? is it that we can't handle it? do we all need buffers? are we just incapable of revealing important thoughts and ideas to people we don't trust? are we just afraid they'll judge us or think we're too "heavy"? how does that casual information exchange foster any real trust in people? ...and why does it all take so long??

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