Monthly Archives: May 2013

Paying a debt not owed

I feel a lot of pressure to do certain things in life.  Let me clarify by saying that these “things” have no moral leaning, but are simply choices that I have.  One of those choices happens to be whether or not I continue my college education to get a degree beyond my current Associate’s degree.  At the moment, I have no such plans to do so, although I am not opposed to getting a higher level degree if I happen to find something that interests me enough to spend several thousand dollars and a few years of stress accomplishing it.

I was once taught that, because I am intelligent, I have an obligation both to God and the world around me to finish college and even graduate school.  I believed this for some time and it put me under an immense amount of stress because, truth be told, I don’t enjoy school and I was completely unsure of what I wanted as far as a career was concerned.  This led to years of entering college and dropping out.  Over and over again, I would go for a few months before dropping everything, assuring my parents that I was just taking a semester break to get things in order.  It wasn’t until about eighteen months ago that I realized how miserable I was going to school for a degree I didn’t want.  I dropped my schooling indefinitely and have yet to return.

This decision was one that still haunts me, but not because I think I made the wrong move; more because there’s still a part of me that believes that I owe it to someone, somewhere to finish a degree and get a job as an executive somewhere or something.  Despite the fact that this career path sounds dreadful to me, I feel obligated to follow it for my own success (whatever that means) and because they (whoever they are) expect it.

I was thinking about this today, and I suddenly realized: I don’t owe anything to anyone here on earth.  The only one I owe anything to is God, and I can’t even pay what I owe there.  Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace and providence have allowed payment to be made for my sinful, wretched self, but as far as paying what I owe…I can’t.

And, beyond that debt, I don’t owe anyone anything.  I want to make God-honoring decisions, and I will do my best to do so.  But, I don’t want to make decisions based on a feeling of obligation I have to the world.  That just seems backwards to me.

Do you ever feel like you have to do something that has no moral or ethical bearing simply because someone else wants you to? What are your thoughts on that sort of situation?

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Mind-blowing pins

Pinterest users seem to be having trouble describing things.  Pinterest requires some sort of comment to be made about a pin, so it’s no wonder that users feel a bit overwhelmed having to write something for every new pin that’s created.  A very popular way of filling in that comment box is simply writing “mind blown.”  This phrase is overused and misused constantly on Pinterest.  I’m here to rectify that. Along the way, I’ll be teaching a few new and exciting vocabulary words to further help Pinterest users properly describe their pins.

Let us start with what “mind blown” actually means so we can later explore what it doesn’t mean.  There is no formal dictionary listing for “mind blown.” However, Thesaurus.com has some synonyms for the term “mind-blowing”. Those synonyms are:

astonishing, eye-opening, hallucinatory, mind-altering, mind-boggling, overwhelming,psychedelic, staggering, stunning, wonderful

I estimate that 85% of what is posted on Pinterest and other social media platforms alongside the phrase “mind blown” or “mind=blown” or something of the sort is not interesting, much less boggling, overwhelming, astonishing, or wonderful.  I have taken a few screen shots to illustrate my point (the vocabulary words for the day are in bold to make learning easy and fun!):

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The only way that this would be mind-blowing is if it was done on purpose. Otherwise, it’s just a coincidence.

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This seems a popular sort of blowing of the mind.  I’m going to give the posters the benefit of the doubt and assume they are unaware that animators often watch the facial expressions and gestures of voice actors in order to make animations more true-to-life.  That’s why many cartoon characters end up with elements of their voice actors’ expressions and gestures.  This is interesting, but it’s not astonishing or shocking.

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No. Just no. Yo-Yo Ma was probably just being funny.  If the poster of Yo-Yo Ma came alive at the sight of his Overlord and Clone Original, then that would be mind-blowing.  His being humorous is just…humorous.

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This is not mind-blowing for the following reason: someone just made something up and applied it to an element of a fictional character.  The people in charge of costume and make up for this actor were likely not thinking, “Let’s cross Voldemort with a squid.”  Even if they were, it still has no astounding implications.  This is just stupid.

This concludes today’s lesson. The words we have learned today are: coincidence, interesting, humorous, and stupid. What other words can you think of that describe the above screenshots?


Oh, Delilah

I work in a room by myself, and therefore am the sole controller of the radio.  I like to listen to something while I work.  On the weekends, I look forward to listening to NPR all day, but during the week, I sometimes tire of the news stories.  My usual go-to for a music station is the local public music station, KXT.  However, for some reason around 6 or 7 at night, it’s really difficult and complicated to get KXT to come in on the radio I have access to, so I usually resort to some sort of top-40 station.

Last night, I was listening to KVIL (Lite FM), which features the syndicated program Delilah at night. I love Delilah.  I really do. I know she can be a tad cheesy at times, but she seems really sweet.

Last night, she said something to the effect of, “If you can’t get through to request a song for the one you love, pick out a song that I play, call that person and tell them, ‘Go listen to the song Delilah’s playing right now. That’s the song that makes me think of you.’ I know it’s not the same, but it’s still a way to connect.”

I started to think: What if someone did this with really weird things? Like, “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats or the This American Life episode where they redacted “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”.  I kind of want to do this to someone…find a station that’s playing “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof or an episode of the old radio suspense show The Whistler and call up a friend and just say, “Please turn it to *insert station here*. This is what I think of you.” And then hang up.  And never speak of it again.


In which I actually side with Hillary Clinton

First, I would like to be very clear about where I stand on certain issues.

I do not like discussing politics.  This is not because I find political theory boring, but because I become incredibly frustrated with politicians and voters who seem to think their only job in life is to beat the Other Side, whoever that happens to be.  That being said, I am not prepared nor would I be willing even if I were prepared to engage in any sort of political debate.  There are places for such discussions.  This blog is not one of them.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a conservative in most areas.  I do not subscribe to or align myself with any one political group because I find it pointless.  I will vote for who I think will be the best leader in light of my personally held values no matter what ticket they are running on.  As a conservative, I am quite tired of fellow conservatives being unfair, rude and libelous to liberal candidates and political officials.

I am not completely familiar with the Benghazi case, though I do know the basic facts.  Recently, I noticed an increasing number of posts on various social media outlets referencing Hillary Clinton’s now-infamous statement of “What difference does it make…?” regarding the Benghazi assault. I am fairly used to hyper conservatives blowing things way out of proportion (to the point of sounding like paranoid schizophrenics at times…but that’s a discussion for another day), so I decided to research a bit for the context of this statement.

The results of my (approximately) thirty seconds of Internet research didn’t surprise me, but they did irritate me.

Okay, let’s get this straight: Clinton was questioned about why information regarding the nature of the attacks was withheld from and/or misrepresented to the public for a few days.  Her stance was that the entire situation was complicated, they had four people dead and others injured, her department could not interfere with the FBI investigation, and  the information being received about this attack was fluid because it was an ongoing investigation.  I have no idea if any of that is true, but it is my understanding of her stance on the matter at the time of this interview.  At one point in the interrogation (because, let’s face it, whoever that senator was who asked her questions needed to calm himself down) of Clinton, she slipped into present tense when explaining a past-tense situation.  She was explaining the complexities of the situations relating to the case that had to be dealt with immediately following the assault and at that point uttered the aforementioned phrase.

And she has been slammed for it repeatedly ever since with no context given to the statement whatsoever.

What this senator did was essentially like someone demanding to know why Americans weren’t informed of the Boston Marathon bombers’ exact motives in the middle of the manhunt.  People are dead and injured.  There are bombers on the loose. At that point, what difference does it make what their motives were or are or will be? Help the injured, catch the guilty, and deal with motives at the appropriate time.

Clinton’s response was understandable considering the situation.

Now, I have no idea if Clinton or her staff acted in the right during the attack and the aftermath.  But, the statement she made has been ripped out of context and manipulated by hyper conservatives to make it sound as if Clinton didn’t care about the people who died or about the situation overall.  That is not what she was expressing, and anyone who would actually take six minutes to watch the C-SPAN clip I linked to above can see that.

I’m just so sick of people on either side of the aisle blowing political statements out of proportion and taking things out of context.  If someone does something truly scandalous or heartless, fine, shine some light on it if it’s relevant to American politics; but taking statements like this one, which in context is perfectly legitimate, and using them to paint a horrible picture of a political candidate only makes the accusing party look as if they are unable to determine intention based on context.

I may be wrong about something, and if I am, I’ll take the corrections.  But, from what I can tell, the only mistake Clinton made in this exchange was using a present-tense sentence when she was referring to a past incident.  The backlash surrounding a grammatical error is absurd and, quite frankly, is the type of thing that embarrasses me as a conservative voter.


Reflections on the necessity of small talk

I am not good at making small talk.  In fact, recent reflection on the way I interact with people has revealed that I have two basic modes of conversation: personal stuff and playful banter.  That’s not to say I don’t want to know how my friend’s day went or where she got her new skirt; I put that sort of interaction in the first category because, if I ask about it, I care to know about it, which makes it personal (in my mind, at least).

But small talk…discussing the weather or the traffic or other such things that don’t really matter…I don’t know how to do that.  And, I’m starting to wonder if this has somehow affected the way I interact with others.

I’ll be quite frank: I don’t know how to make friends.  Most of my friends are either people I’ve lived with or close friends of people I’ve lived with.  As far as just slowly getting to know someone through mutual interest and reaching out…I have no idea how to do that.  I often fear that I come off as too overbearing if I’m excited about a friendship, and if I’m not excited then interest fades fairly quickly, particularly if the other person isn’t interested in pursuing interaction, either.

I am starting to wonder if my own bafflement at the friends-making process is somehow tied to my inability to make small talk.  Small talk seems a sort of middle ground between super-shallow relationships and ones that dig a bit deeper.  I tend to hop pretty abruptly from one to another, and I can see how that would be jarring.

I don’t mind answering a shallow question asked by someone else.  And I don’t mind discussing admittedly stupid things like my thoughts on Bruno Mars’ latest vapid single because that at least involves opinions and interaction with someone on a personal level with implied thoughts and emotions.  But, actual small talk…I don’t know how to start that.

And that’s where (I think) a lot of my problem lies.  I don’t know how to get to know someone.  If I know something about them, I can ask about that.  But, to just start fresh…it’s intimidating.  I either talk about myself way too much because it’s something I’m comfortable with…or I freeze and shuffle awkwardly off into the background.

I don’t know how to make my brain unfreeze.  I don’t know how to start conversations that don’t really mean much of anything.  I have a list of people that I’d like to get to know better, but I don’t exactly know how to start.  And, I do have to wonder if small talk is an important (but, in my case, ignored) stepping stone to future deep relationships.

Do you have this problem? Do you think the ability to make small talk is linked with the ability to make friends? Do you have any tips for starting such conversations? Or do you think small talk is overrated?