Promises to keep

I feel like writing a post and don't know what to write, so be warned. It's probably because I just spent 2 hours hanging lights on my mother's tree. I guess that means it's story time.

I grew up in east L.A. in a small 3-bedroom house. The living room was about ten feet by fifteen feet, and it was probably the largest room in the house. One of the long walls was along the front of the house, a window set in the middle, and in normal time there were two recliners under the window with a short table between them. I think it belonged to my grandparents; pretty much everything in the house was second-hand or very cheap, because we didn't have a lot of money.

(That's something that a most of the people who know me don't really get. We weren't "poor", but we were definitely lower-middle class; spaghetti and fried chicken are my favorite foods, but that's because they were cheap to make and, therefore, cooked often. The fact that, nowadays, my last few birthday presents to myself have consisted of a sports car and first-class trips to Maui is probably, in a lot of ways, a response to that past.)

Anyway, the day after Thanksgiving, my parents would take us out and we'd pick up a Christmas tree. We didn't have much room to place it, and couldn't afford the big ones anyway, so we'd buy a smallish 4-5 ft one and place it on the table between the chairs in the window. Decorations were mostly felt ornaments, hand-me-downs (or heirlooms, if you like) from my great-grandparents, and flimsy strings of light that my dad would repair over and over again. Outside, over the garage and across the front of the house, we'd hang one long string of the huge old outdoor christmas lights - again, often repaired. Stockings, of course, went over the fireplace.

It wasn't much, but it made the place feel better - more cheerful, I guess.

Of course, then there was the divorce, the arguments, the re-marriages to other people, but the tree always went in the same spot. Even when my mom had to save pennies for food, when we went to other people's houses for Thanksgiving because we couldn't afford it on our own, we'd still go out the day after Thanksgiving and pick up the tree.

Well, years go by; my mother got a few promotions and met my stepfather. They moved out of the house in El Monte (originally to rent it, but they sold it after their first rental agreement resulted in a SWAT team and a drug bust) to a much larger one out in the boondocks. Money was still a little tight but less so.

When Christmas came around, the only room where a tree would make sense was the combination living/dining room: about 35 feet long, the entire length of one side of the house, with a huge, 20-ft vaulted ceiling. That first year, we got a slightly larger tree - about 7 feet - and put it in the front window. It felt tiny: with almost no other furniture in the room, it was just swallowed.

The next year, we got one about the same size and, instead, put it in the middle - which was worse. Even with more ornaments and new lights, a 7-ft tree will never look decent with a 20-ft ceiling.

So, the third year, we upgraded. I think that one was about 10 ft tall, which necessitated buying a lot more lights and ornaments, but it looked decent if a little sparse. So that was the trend from then on: we'd go out on the Friday after Thanksgiving and cut down a large tree. The tallest was narrow but about 13 feet; the biggest was only 11 feet or so, but easily the same across. When we got that last one, it was so heavy it took three of us to carry it, and it bent the first stand we tried to put it on; we ended up having to get this massive steel tree stand to hold it.

Well, time passes. My parents are older, and my step-dad just can't carry something that large; I can't do it myself, and the step-siblings aren't always around. So, a few years ago my mother consented, shopped around, and finally bought a fake tree. It's still tall, about 11 feet, but it goes up in pieces, branch by branch. It actually looks very real. I miss the pine smell, but since I'm allergic to the sap, at least I don't have to deal with the rashes any more.

I'm still required to hang the surface lights, though: I'm the only one tall enough to reach, even with a ladder. So, my mother puts it up over a few days, adding in the white lights in the middle as she goes, then asks me when I can hang the lights on its surface. It's usually the weekend after Thanksgiving - sometimes it's been up as early as mid-November, if they're going on a trip - but it was a little late this year.

So, tonight, I took out the strands and tested them; none were bad, and there were no significant outages. I start at the top, winding clockwise, weaving them in and out of the branches. When they go on, they're dark - it's just easier than having them plugged in - so when I'm done, there's a little bit of a "celebration" in turning them on and seeing it lit up: the twinkling of rainbow stars on a green sky.

My mother will decorate it over the next few days, and this weekend I'll probably hang the lights outside the house. In the end, there will be 2000 lights on the tree: 8 100-strands of white in the middle and 6 200-strands on the outside. There will be over a hundred white bows, over 150 24-karat gold ornaments, and another 200 or so other ornaments from the years. She's stopped buying them; there's simply no room left.

But it's worth it. It's beautiful. And with the garland on the banisters, the stockings, the nutcracker music boxes and the ceramic train, it's the only time the house gets close to feeling like home to me.

I don't "believe" in Christmas - I never really have. But, maybe, if I pretend hard enough, in the end it doesn't make a difference whether I do or not.

Diversionary Tactics

I don't do holidays. Which is a little odd to most people, since I do them really well.

Let me explain a bit.

As I've said before, I'm asocial: people annoy me more than they entertain me, and in almost all situations I'd rather be by myself than with someone. The idea of being forced into dinners or long evenings with extended family - most of whom I have absolutely nothing in common with and wouldn't befriend if we met on the street - is bad enough, but tack on the forced cheerfulness and/or religious undertones and, well, it just isn't pretty. When I was young enough to not have a choice in the matter, I'd typically spend an hour max "socializing", then try to hide myself in the kitchen helping cook or whatnot until dinner was actually served; afterwards, I'd slink off to my room and hide until everyone left.

According to society, of course, this is "bad" behavior: everyone loves holidays! So, as a kind of social camouflage, I started getting really good at decorations. I honestly think that things like Christmas lights and garland actually make most places look better - when done tastefully - and figuring out how to decorate and spice up a room may appeal to the gay gene I've got buried in me somewhere. Plus, if you spend enough time/effort making someplace look festive and holiday-ish, people overlook the fact that you seem to skip out on the holiday itself. It's a kind of psychological misdirection I learned years ago.

Nowadays, my mother's adapted to the fact that I really don't "do" social gatherings. If she's having a lot of people over for Thanksgiving, I'm excused and can be somewhere else; Christmas is generally less of a big deal, since my step-dad's birthday is the day after: most of the family comes over for his birthday instead. I'm expected to be around for part of that, but I consider it as much his birthday present as whatever I buy him. For New Years, I typically disappear somewhere.

(Random note: Today is the 151st anniversary of the publishing of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” by one Dr. Charles Darwin, M.A. So, celebrate by using antibacterial soap all day or something.)

However, my mother's gotten used to my eye for decoration, so I'm responsible for doing much of the non-tree decorations for her: it's partly her way to keep me "involved", as it were, but it's also because she (and he) simply can't do a lot of it (contrary to what I insist on telling her, they're getting older). So, starting Friday, I'll be tasked with helping Mom hang around 2500 lights, plus garland, stockings, etc. It's just the way it works, part of the "dues" of being a son.

Anyway, because of my aversion, I won't go into the whole routine of what I'm thankful for - frankly, the idea has always been suspect since, as an atheist, I don't have anyone to be thankful to; I can appreciate things, and be glad they have turned out as they have, but there's no one to thank. I'll simply state that, as ever, I have no regrets about life - and hope that, in the end, everyone reading this will be able to say the same thing, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow or not.

Under gray skies

Today, I'm in a good mood.

I learned yesterday that I'm the only person seriously in the running for a part-time, off-hours 6-month contract position that, over the duration, should net me $30-40k on top of any other job I have. This is great, not just because of the money but because, if I do get another job somewhere, I'm not likely to be able to take time off anyway for that period (most employers make you accrue your vacation time). Even if I get laid off and don't have another job, this would pay the equivalent - even in part-time - of what I'm making now, so I could easily still be "afloat" for the duration.

It's always nice to hedge your bets.

Also, it's cold, gray, and eventually rainy. For some reason - probably because it's so rare in SoCal - I've always loved wet weather, the colder the better. We're not in snow range (though the snow line may drop down, depending on how cold it gets tonight), but it's chilly and damp. This is hot chocolate in front of the fireplace with a good book weather.

This weekend, we're seeing then new Harry Potter movie, of course. I actually bought the tickets a month ago - and not because I'm looking forward to it. I'm really not. I'm not just excited about the series; somehow, it always seemed, I don't know, silly. And not legitimately silly, like Terry Pratchett. I mean silly like sparkling-vampires silly.

I'm probably going to get a few avada kadavera curses hurled my way because of that statement.

Anyway, the only movie I'm really looking forward to this year is Tron: Legacy, but that's more of a geek-fest than anything. Actually, there's a good chance it'll end up being a decent movie, like Star Trek. Either way, though, I'll be seeing it. I just confirmed with Rex that he wants to go to the midnight showing, so that'll be fun (I actually just bought us tickets to The Tempest midnight release too).

(Random: Rex just told me he's playing more of an architect role at his company. I asked him if he's saying "ergo" a lot and steepling his fingers. His reply was that he doesn't own a white suit.)

Still wondering what I'm going to do for New Years; still thinking about Guerneville, but financial considerations are leaning away from anything, really. If I can pull a few hundred dollars out of a hat (move over, bunny), I can probably still justify it. We'll see.

Oh, and this morning, as I was getting into the car from buying bagels for the office, I noticed by odometer read exactly 80000 miles. I'm one month short of 4.5 years on the car, so that's not horrible. Especially given that I go back and forth to SF at least once a year, and that this year I also drove over 2200 miles round-trip to Portland. So, I did a little dance in the driver's seat to commemorate the occasion, then drove to work.

No one ever said "brilliant" had a high correlation to "serious", or even "sane".

Single serving

It can be a little odd to be turned on to an author or philosophy and realize that you've been a fan for years even though you've never really heard of them.

We saw Unstoppable on Saturday - in my opinion, pretty good. It got into the action pretty quickly, and all the emotional/social connecting and such took place on-the-run, so it never really felt like they had to stop the narrative. Chris Pine was great, and Rosario Dawson was excellent - but the hat tip goes to Denzel Washington, who just rocked it. But, man, he looked old. I hope that was mostly makeup.

Still no word on the job posting, but more calls from recruiters today. I also applied for a couple more positions; I figure that something has to stick at some point. The good new s is that, if I end up getting laid off, I've got years of contract work I can do at a really good rate.

A friend of mine is probably breaking up with his girlfriend; she's going through the whole post-highschool "I'm an adult I can do what I want so let's party" phase, which he sort of skipped. The real problem isn't her drinking, but that he's a geek-type and she's his first real girlfriend; he's upset at the idea of "being alone", pissed at a world where most people his age are far less mature/intelligent/aware, and mad at himself that he can't solve problems in the real world as easily as he can in code. The only part I have trouble with is the loneliness - I mean, he came to me of all people for reassurances that it gets better, that he'll meet people like him one day. I tried to offer them, since I think for him it will, but I had to smile to myself at the irony.

My coffee machine arrived Friday. It's one of those K-cup single-serving deals. I don't drink coffee, really; I like Kona, but that's it. It'll make hot chocolate too, though, and once in a while a cup of Kona is nice. I tell people I drink a cup of coffee before bed, and they flip out. "Doesn't that keep you awake?" Quite the opposite, actually: like most folks with ADHD, caffeine generally relaxes me. This is especially odd since one of the affects of caffeine is to reduce the functioning of the neurotransmitter primarily responsible for inducing sleep by suppressing neural activity. An 8-oz cup of kona will have me ready for bed in about 30 minutes.

(Random note: a friend of mine started working at a newly remodeled pool hall here in L.A.; I'll probably need to stop by. I love pool, but it's been ages since I've had a hall to go to that wasn't seedy.)

On the weather front, it's almost summer temps here again - mid-to-high 60's and low 70's, at least during the day. It's supposed to be cold and rainy again by the weekend, though.

At some point here in the not-to-distant future, I need to make plans for New Year's Eve... I haven't, yet, because I didn't know what my job situation would be. However, it's looking like I'm stuck here at least through December, so it's a good thing I scheduled the time off. I'll probably wait until Thanksgiving and then book a trip somewhere; maybe back up to Guerneville, since that was so relaxing last time.

The poor sort of memory

I'm not sure that anyone here will know what I mean by the word "synchronicity". I suppose a technical definition would be "causal linking between casual events", but most people probably won't really understand that either. In layman's terms, synchronicity is the recognition or observation of a pattern linking events or behaviors that cannot by other methods be linked. It's "coincidence" taken to extreme levels. Synchronicity is, in essence, strictly a function of pattern recognition, and as such is highly dependent upon the observational and creative capabilities of the individual doing the observation. While such events have long been attributed to non-material causes (for example, to the ancient Greeks, Hermes is the embodiment of synchronicity), it is more reasonable to attribute them to the human addiction for causation.

If you've ever played the game "six degrees of Kevin Bacon", you probably have an intuitive understanding of both the appearance and probable cause of synchronicity: what can seem like a magical coincidence is actually a carefully manufactured chain. Synchronicity simply takes place at a lower level of consciousness, but the principle is still the same: we can link any two activities, events, or observations, if only we try hard enough to create such a link. This is the fundamental reason why people often require reminding that "correlation does not imply causation."

Nevertheless, one must actively remind one's self that it's an assumed and not existant phenomenon... especially when it seems to appear in overwhelming magnitude.

Some background is probably required.

I've long been interested in linguistics and semantics; as someone who doesn't think in verbal structures, I've spent a considerable amount of effort in trying to get the closest possible approximation of my thoughts into language. To that end, I've read millions of pages of books - from scientific theory to poetry - and developed a far larger linguistic foundation than most people I know, not just in words but in understanding of connotation and denotation as well as an awareness of both the limits and impositions of language. As I mentioned recently on Out Not Up, language itself has restrictions on what it can represent, often in ways of which speakers aren't aware but which can have major impacts on society. For instance, our tendancy to conflate observation with inherent property can be directly associated with our linguistic tendancy to speak of something as something else, not merely appearing to be something else; we state that so-and-so is a bad man when what we usually mean is that he appears to be a bad man from our perspective.

This ties, in a synchronistic fashion, to Robert Anton Wilson via a friend named Peter. Peter loaned me his copy of The Illuminatus! Trilogy while we were - well, I guess "dating" isn't really accurate, but that's probably descriptive enough - and I fell in love with the material almost immediately. I had my own synchronistic event during the first reading: I was, at the same time, reading a book about asian philosophy. In the philosophy book, I came across the Buddhist koan of "what is the Buddha? Three chin of flax," one afternoon; later that evening, while reading Illuminatus!, a main character brings up the phrase "What is the Buddha? Five pounds of flax."

R.A. Wilson also introduced me to the phrase "the map is not the territory", a concept I immediately latched onto as a concise description of the kinds of linguistic/semantic problem I often experienced. Of course, in researching Dr. Kodish's books (which will arrive this afternoon and probably be read by Saturday evening), I had to delve into Korzybski, whom Wilson mentions periodically but I'd never researched. It turns out that Korzybski originated the phrase "the map is not the territory" in his works on general semantics, which relates to exactly the kind of discrepancies and problems inherent in langauge and thought that I'd always experienced. Oh well, better I come late to the party than never.

The rabbit hole goes deeper, however. "The map" is also a phrase that, in my lexicon, prominantly relates to a series of talks/essays by a man named Alan Carter and called The Programmer's Stone. One of the main focuses of The Programmer's Stone is the notion of two types of learning referred to as packing and mapping. Packing refers to rote memorization and recitation of facts or data; mapping, in contrast, is forming an understanding of the relationships between facts or data. Carter's contention is that most people simply memorize most of the time and never really understand how what they're memorizing fits in with what they already know; this is why they can quite easily have contradictory ideas and yet never realize the contradiction. Programmers, however, are inherently "mappers", because the key to programming is an very deep understanding of the relationships between data points or processes. In this case, Carter is definitely using the general semantics concept of the map as something more utilitarian than representational: it's a functional abstraction of the "real" concepts or facts that can be used to gain further understanding of those concepts or facts.

Carter observed that the ability of individuals to form maps - deeper levels of understanding - seems to be inversely related to stress. As conjectured, this likely has evolutionary origins: deeper understanding often comes from reflection and daydreaming; stress, on the other hand, is generally a motivator for fast action or response to external stimuli (such as a tiger trying to hunt you down). So, the two would reasonably be exclusive: the same stimuli that would cause stress should also reduce the tendancy for quiet reflection. Biology is notoriously efficient about many things, so it makes sense that both of these factors seem to be controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine.

I've got my own history with dopamine: it's been hypothesized and seemingly proven that "ADHD" is "caused" by abnormal dopamine levels in the brain - too low of production in some cases, or in others due to the apparent reduction in reaction to it due to a mutation in dopamine receptors. According to a doctor I used to see, I'm likely in the latter half, which means that most of the currrent ADHD drugs would be contraindicated for me. I certainly fit Carter's profile of a "mapper" as well as the novelty-seeking (but not risk-taking, which is different) behavior associated with low-dopamine individuals. I'm also one of the least stressed people most of my friends know, as any of them could tell you.

Which brings us full-circle: stress inducing mental conditions that prevent an individual from being aware of the general semantic differences between "map" and "territory", equating the two and thus preventing "deep understanding" typical of "mapper" behavior. Likewise, "mapping" capability hampered by linguist problems resolved through understanding general semantics.

The synchronistic factor comes in when one friend brings up the topic of stress-addiction on facebook yesterday, another sends me an article on dopamine levels in relation to novelty-seeking (without knowing of my interest in the subject; he just thought it was a "cool study"), my coworker having issues with understanding a concept due to semantic limitations (and who only managed to get it when I helped him see those limitations), and the seemingly random discovery of Korzybski through a follower on this blog that I simply hadn't noticed until yesterday (and who has a recommendation from R.A. Wilson himself).

Which only goes to prove my tendancy towards "mapping", since only someone ADHD could build that kind of crazy framework of semi-associated concepts (no Hermes required)... as well as proving your patience for reading through the whole nonsense.

Perhaps we ought to start a new game: six degrees of Alfred Korzybski.

House calls

So, this is a short one, but I have to mention it.

I have few enough followers here (at least officially) that anyone who does it stands out a bit. That being said, at some point I missed that fact that there's a PhD. actively following this site - I suppose everyone likes to let their hair down once in a while, but whatever the reason Dr. Kodish is more than welcome. Especially as one of the books he's written has a recommendation from Robert Anton Wilson, by far one of my favorite authors (right up there with Terry Pratchett).

I've just purchased two of his books, since the topic seems to be right up my alley anyway. Go check out the good doctor's stuff.

Many paths and errands

So, a little bit more on the results of the "interview" yesterday.

I'm reasonably sure that I did beyond well - not only telling her the sorts of things she wanted to here, but also giving examples or ideas beyond what she was talking about. When an interviewer starts on a topic, sort of loses her way and you reply with something that makes her face light up and say "Exactly!", it's probably a good sign. I'm more that qualified for the position - which may actually be a negative. When an employer is looking for 5-7 years' experience and you throw 12-13 at them, it can be intimidating.

(Random note: I think the heater's not really working in here. It's 55 degrees outside, but it's probably about that inside as well.)

The "bad" news is that it's likely going to be a really extensive formal interview process, which would mean that I'll have to be taking time off from work here to make the drive for multiple interviews. That's more than a little inconvenient depending on how they schedule them, but I'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It also, of course, means that an offer - if I even get that far - wouldn't be made until some time in December at the earliest.

The other "bad" news - which is only potential and not actual until I see the job posting - is that the salary range for the position may be lower that I'm willing to accept. What they're looking for is definitely a senior-level employee, but we'll have to see if they're willing to compensate at that level. I mean, this is a "buyer's market", as it were, so I wouldn't be surprised if they low-ball the salary. Only time will tell.

Even if this position doesn't work out, it's gotten me off my ass to start seriously looking. Plus, you know, the office is really in the wrong direction for where I want to move, physically: it's east L.A., and I'd prefer to be on the west side. As much as I need to get out of Arvato and this job looks interesting, there are a few reasons why I wouldn't be totally upset if I don't get it. It's not like I'm in a major rush; I can afford to take my time and be thorough, even if the company lays me off today.

Regardless, it's time to send out more resumes. I've just sent one to a placement company that specializes in IT services for a lot of places here in L.A. (at least judging by the job boards). We'll see if that makes any difference. Unfortunately, the holiday season is coming up, and things tend to slow down heavily until the new year (especially here in L.A., where most of Hollywood goes out of town). I've already requested the last week of December off here, just in case - one thing I do very well is "play defense". I've also still got this potential contract position in early 2011 which will add in some income no matter where I am.

So, the future of work life isn't absolutely amazing, but it's decent. We'll see where the road goes.

It is pitch black.

* I spent two hours this morning giving a training session on our Time and Attendance system, and then the last few hours carrying on a silly email conversation with a coworker I've never met and never communicated with before. It must be Friday.

* I have an interview on Tuesday - well, a sort-of interview. But at least things are progressing.

* I seem to be a verb.

* Going to see Due Date this weekend. It was either that or the Valorie Plume movie, and frankly I don't feel like doing serious stuff this weekend.

* I'm not mentioning the elections.

* ... damn.

* I'm actually going to be awake at 2 am on Sunday morning so I can set my clock back to 1 am. I think I'm going to try and make multiple bank transfers between 12:45 am and 2:15 am, just to fuck with their system. I may regret this, but hell, it's only money.

* I just realized it's impossible to quickly enunciate "mixed nuts".

* It's supposed to be cool and rainy this weekend. This in itself isn't surprising, as it's November. However, it is currently 84 degrees outside, and was in the mid-90's yesterday. Someone needs to tell Mother Nature to lay off the sauce for a while.

* The Lorentz factor is not a reality TV show. I know that wasn't funny, but I've heard that all humor is relative, so...

* This is the 11th item on the list.

* Apparently, people's taste preference for soda is almost entirely psychological. Oh, and Mexican Coke is chemically identical to American Coke, whether it's made with "real sugar" or not: any difference you think you can taste is just in your head.

* Happy Guy Fawkes Night to all you British-types. Maybe I'll burn something down in your honor.

* You will likely be eaten by a grue.

Sky's the limit

One question that's come up a couple of times while talking to recruiters and such is about relocating. "To where would you be willing to relocate?" the question usually goes.

The answer is both simple and complex. I'm a city boy; I like big towns. And, by "big towns", I should point out that I live in the second highest populated metropolitan area in the nation and have lived here all my life. I mean, Los Angeles metro has more people than most states. I've travelled to smaller towns for business, obviously, and even vacation in such places, but I tend to end up feeling cramped or restricted in places even up to 500k or so. So, I'd prefer a larger city somewhere.

Ironically, I'm probably more willing to move to someplace like New York City than to, say San Francisco - I'd rather make a bigger jump than a smaller one, if we're talking about changing cities. I mean, I'm all for moving actually *into* LA Metro (I'm a half-hour north of the city), but if I'm Leaving Los Angeles (to steal from Sharyl), I'd rather it be a major departure. I'm also open to leaving the country, depending on the circumstances.

(Random note: it's November and over 90 degrees today. We've had some really freaky weather this year.)

A position where I'd be a kind of travelling consultant would work as well. I had such an opportunity in the late 90's that I would have taken had the first position not been to South Africa - one where I would have been restricted to the bank where I'd have worked and the hotel I would have stayed at, with a multi-man armed escort between the two buildings. Not exactly a "safe" environment. In general, though, I love travelling and seeing new locations, so a roving consultant position would be great.

I know a lot of people are terrified of the idea of travelling or moving. This is probably one situation where my peculiar biology comes into play: I honestly think I have some kind of neural discrepancy where I don't feel "at home" anywhere, probably related to always feeling like an outsider. The advantage is that, if nowhere is specifically "home", then you're equally comfortable in any environment. That's pretty much the case: I can check into a hotel and instantly be comfortable. I can also fall asleep anywhere if I want to - planes, trains, cars, any bed, etc. - and don't usually suffer from jet lag. Even airports don't piss me off the way they seem to annoy most folks.

If anyone's still actually reading this blog - how do you guys feel about work travel, either permament or transient?

Making the effort

So, today, for the first time in 7 years, I've taken the initiative and applied for my first position outside of arvato. I don't count the current pending (but likely DOA) potential positions at my best friend's company, because those sought me out, not the other way around. While being asked to apply to something is always an ego boost (almost as much as having your resume submitted without your permission, not merely as an application but to define the position), it's hardly any effort on a personal level.

(Random note: I beat Angry Birds Hallowe'en. I love this game.)

This is, obviously, different. This is a conscious, active effort. This is the difference between not helping the Defias to burn down Westfall and, instead, picking up a sword to go beat some rioting thieves into ploughshares. I've been scanning positions for a few weeks, but I found one today that is almost word-for-word my current position and it pays signicantly more and it's closer to where I actually want to live. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I didn't. We'll see what the result is, but the next few should come faster and faster; it's always the first hit that's the hardest.

There's also an opening at the RAND Corporation; I'll probably apply, but that's off in fantasy land. For those who don't know, getting a job at RAND would, for me, be the mental equivalent of a 13-year-old with NASA posters on the wall and plastic models of lunar landers hanging from the ceiling getting an internship at JPL. Sometimes, ideas are too amazing to be allowed to be thought, and must be relegated to the realm of dreams where they can't interfere with our mundane lives. To put it plainly: these people are paid to think, and little else.

Hallowe'en is done and over with; I think that's the best thing that can be said about it. Soon, the election will be done and over with - and that's certainly the best thing that can be said about it. Regardless of your political affiliation, the stagnation and rampant headbutting that is going to result from a split Congress is definitely a bad thing when the economy hangs by a thread. Whichever motion of direction you support, at least it's movement; even movement backwards at least injects something of principle into the process. What we're about to get is nothing, and while in normal circumstances that's the best outcome, in the current world it may well be the death knell. Only time will tell.

I won't say who or what I'm voting for, though most people can probably predict most of my decisions based on the fact that I tend to be socially liberal and fiscally moderate-to-conservative. I might write something up later in the week with my views on what actually happens, but since there's going to be plenty of pontification on political preferences (sorry, practicing my alliteration), I might just skip it unless something extraordinary happens.

On a separate note, I'm currently arguing with myself about posting a link to my blogs here on my facebook page. For a variety of reasons, this could be a bad idea. For example, I say things here about friends that, while I've said most of it to their faces, they probably don't want to be reminded. In a more practical example, I have coworkers (who are legitimate friends) on my facebook account, and any time you discuss alternate employment with current coworkers in the room it can get sticky: the line of "things that might be suspected generally but shouldn't be discussed in general company" should definitely not be crossed, but it gets blurry very easily. I might just wait until I'm out of here, or simply invite specific people across rather than everyone.

Oh, the joys of managing social intercourse in a digital world.