Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not being annoyed (yep, two posts in one night)

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I don't get annoyed easily and seem to have patience with people who would supposedly annoy anyone. I did mention on this blog that a woman yelled at me a few weeks ago, but it didn't bother me in the least. I thought it was rather funny, to be honest, and had to stifle myself from laughing when she did it.

Don't get me wrong; I certainly can have my feathers ruffled. But, I do have a good amount of patience and odd or irritating behavior generally just seems interesting to me. I'm taken aback, quite frankly, when other people are irritated.

I do think that most people are easily irritated these days by waiting for anything. This was true before the internet age, but it has undoubtedly gotten worse since. A few years ago, I bought a great little scanner that was considered "very slow" by reviewers because it took (and I remember this exactly) 40 seconds to perform a scan. Almost a minute! Oh my, how could anyone stand waiting almost a minute for something to scan?! It's an eternity.

An aside: Please, please, don't let me start sounding like Andy Rooney, okay?

But really, waiting is an opportunity. I mean it. When Dick and I watch some Netflix streaming video and it stalls because of whatever, it's an opportunity for us to have a short conversation. Usually the conversation consists of the following: "Oh, this is ridiculous!" "C'mon, it's only 30 more seconds. See?" "No, something is wrong." "Only ten seconds left!" "I should have rebooted." "Look. It's still ten seconds. Huh." Okay, it's not much of a conversation, but it could be.

I'll admit that I don't like waiting in line. This supposedly patient person who can sit for hours staring at a spot on the floor gets really antsy waiting in line. There's no reason for it. I could read a book. I could read any number of magazines. I could talk to another person in line (and I sometimes do, but often they get annoyed). But usually, I waste time trying to find the shortest line. And when I do, it seems that that line has a problem with it. Something won't scan and needs a manager to key it in. A credit card won't go through. Or, since I do use the self-check-outs if they're available, I wind up behind someone who hasn't a clue how to use them. C'mon lady, how many times are you going to swipe that card before you realize you're putting it in the wrong way?

And another thing, why is it that in 2009 the majority of people doing grocery shopping are still women and that most of the men are only buying large quantities of beer?

The last time I got stuck in line because of a problem was a guy who was buying a case of beer that was beat up. He wanted the cashier to find a bunch of stickers he could put in the bottom so the cans wouldn't fall out of the box. If the store still had paper bags, it wouldn't have been a problem.

Oh, I do sound an awful lot like Andy Rooney.

Stores used to have paper bags. People used to be in less of a rush. Waiting for a movie to start used to be fun.

You get the picture. Age brings on curmudgeonly qualities in most people. Twenty-year-olds are not liable to be curmudgeons, are they? Then again, people did whine about liking the old Facebook better. . .

But, the truth is, I'm not easily annoyed, waiting in lines aside. I see customers who demand attention as people who want some company and people who ask for directions to be explained over and over again as insecure or an interesting challenge. When I notice that I'm annoyed, I ask myself if I really am being put out by whatever is going on. The answer to that is usually "not really." I also go out of my way to not get involved in things and with people who I know will bother me. Setting boundaries way ahead of time has helped me avoid a lot of grief.

Some would say that this is plain ol' avoidance. Maybe if I was agoraphobic I'd agree, but I'm not.

So, next time you get annoyed, try sitting (or standing) back and just watching what's going on. Maybe you'll find it entertaining. Generally speaking, I do, and anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm not a bubbly cheerful person, so if I can have some equanimity, anyone can.

Painting note: Gustav Klimt, "Stiller Weiher im SchloƟpark von Kammer" 1899. Yesterday, I read that Klimt liked to wear floor-length indigo-dyed smocks with nothing on underneath. "It feels natural", said he. I wanted to post a Klimt, but have been annoyed with seeing certain of his works way too much. I enjoyed looking at the Wikipedia Commons image entries, for I was reminded of just how good an artist he was. His drawings are particularly good, though (obviously) that is not what I posted here. Since I've been fascinated of late with images of water, I chose this painting for your viewing pleasure. Well, more correctly: my viewing pleasure, eh?

And the survey says. . .

I've always liked to ruminate about what other people like, think, and do. Perhaps it comes from being an only child. My sample group was small, obviously, with just me and my parents, and I also knew that my family wasn't exactly typical. Knowing that neither of my parents believed in God was a major impetus for my rumination, or more exactly, I wondered who this God was that others believed in, and why they believed so fervently.

But this post is not about religion, though I certainly could write about that for hours on end. It's about surveys, polls, and studies. Where once a philosopher might spend a lifetime thinking and writing about humanity, nowadays we have random sample groups to "prove" things. Nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if this keeps us from doing a lot of hard thinking. Have an idea? Just call 100 people and ask them what they think.

I can't help thinking about the ol' Family Feud show. I used to love watching that show, and actually wished I could get my family on it. Not being exactly normal wouldn't have been a hindrance in the least. Being a bunch of people who did a lot of ruminating about things would cinch our win. I was sure of it.

I have nothing against studies (and love reading their results), but sometimes I wonder how accurate their results are. A friend of mine once participated in a study about pain tolerance. He was hooked up to electrodes and zapped until he said "stop!" He told me that it was absurd, for he could say stop any time. Pain is so subjective; how could those conducting the study know if someone was calling it quits way before it got too awful to endure? Even accounting for estimates that any percent of people would, there was no sense to this. My friend actually did wait until the pain was too much until he said stop, but I'd guess that was atypical. On the other hand, I'd imagine that anyone signing up for this study, even with the good pay, was at least veering towards the masochistic.

Here's an example where I don't think anything about this study would be useful except the very concept of the study itself. The pain study makes me think. The results? Knowing that the average person can withstand 4 volts of electricity before they cry uncle means nothing. Wondering why anyone would come up with the study, who might sign up, how people might "cheat" or if some people would wait until they were really suffering, well, those things are way more interesting to me.

Earlier today I was having a discussion with someone about Northern New Englanders' propensity for minimizing their discomfort. Stoicism is considered a virtue up here. Perhaps that comes from living in a cold climate. This women was telling me how her husband had cut an artery in his leg with a chainsaw (by accident), put a tourniquet on it, and drove himself to the emergency room. Then, there was a four-hour long wait, during which he patiently sat there bleeding to death until someone realized that it really was an emergency.

I bet there is a study about regional differences in pain tolerance. I am not going to google it, no matter how much I feel the urge. I want to just think about it. I would bet that people who live in areas where the weather is generally nice do have less of a tolerance for being uncomfortable. It just makes sense. And no, there's nothing wrong with doing a study about it, though I would argue that it's rather a waste of somebody's money.

Well, I have a strong feeling I forgot what it was I intended to write about. I know I started veering off the topic early in this post. Never mind that. My longer entries were always rambling and off-topic, and I've been doing too much to reel myself in for a long time. Writing late, and when tired, is something that I used to do and feel perfectly fine about. Perhaps it's time to let myself ruminate and ramble again. But for now, I'll end this here. I really am tired, and I do wish I'd done this subject more justice. But this is a blog, so I can come back to it any time I want and no one is paying me to write well. That's a good thing, at least tonight.

Photo note: Richard Dawson, the original Family Feud host. He kissed all the women and they seemed to love it. He gave me the creeps but I still watched. And lastly, I think 1970's "fashion" is unbelievably ugly, especially the men's stuff. So, why I'm subjecting you to this image instead of some lovely piece of art is beyond me. But really, what would have been relevant? Survey says. . .you tell me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

No NaNoWriMo this year (for me)

I just removed my 2009 NaNoWriMo badge from the sidebar. This makes it official; I'm not committing to it this year. Participating is only going to be a set-up for failure for I haven't enough days in the upcoming month to write 50,000 words (unless I start taking speed or something).

Ah well. I remember how fun it was last year. It was almost ecstatic. I'd put up a sign saying "No talking to me. I'm writing" so Dick wouldn't unwittingly interrupt my furious stream-of-consciousness. I wrote two to four hours a day and finished those 50,000 words in 21 days. This month I don't even have 21 days to write. Now, if it was last year, I imagine I'd take it on anyway, for last year I was stoked.

I don't want to waste my time on empty promises to myself, so that's that. If there's a real novel in me, I don't need NaNoWriMo to make it happen. Sure, the virtual writer's community helped, but I presume I can find support in other ways if I deign to try again before November of 2010.

I wish NaNoWriMo was in a month other than November. It's a busy month, what with Thanksgiving and the other upcoming holidays. February would be a great month to hunker down to write a novel, especially for us folks up here in northern New England. NewEngFebNoWriMo might be something for me to look forward to. . .

Painting note: Gabriel Metsu - Man Writing a Letter 1662-65
As a thumbnail, I thought this was a woman. No matter. Look how different this reproduction is:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brainstorming and daydreaming

Now I've got some spare time again, lots of it, and I figured I'd be blogging at least once a day. Not so, so it seems. Writing feels odd. I'm thinking about all sorts of things, but none of them are bloggable (which the spellchecker is telling me is not a word, while blogging, apparently, is).

Here's the thing: I went to tech school, studied medical transcription, coding, billing, blah blah blah, and there are no jobs. And while I'm sending resumes out to the few jobs that arise, I'm discovering that I don't care that no one has called me for an interview. None of those sent resumes were for medical transcription. Not one job has opened up since I finished school way back in mid-July. So, as I was pondering how I'd easily get some part-time job, after all, I'd gotten all A's (whoo hoo look at me!). . .now the cold reality has set in that I can't even get an interview for a receptionist gig, and quite frankly, the idea of working as a receptionist makes me think of killing myself (just kidding).

So what does all of this add up to? Brainstorming. Lots of it. If I can't find a job, I must make one. And, I miss running my own business. I miss work. In fact, I miss hard work. I miss the trials and tribulations of creating something that might succeed (or not). I miss putting my all into something that isn't just personal.

Brainstorming and daydreaming takes up lots of mental energy. I didn't realize that. The Web has been most helpful in my search for "what's next." I've got some ideas, but until I feel that they are ready to be announced, birthed (if you will), I'm keeping mum.

So, there is the reason I've not been writing blog entries. It's hard to write when one is keeping a secret, and it's hard to write about other things when one's mind is filled with ideas. Hopefully, soon, I'll either have given up on the ideas that are filling up my mind (and time) or I'll decide it's time to make a commitment to what shall now be officially called What's Next. Stay tuned.

Somehow What's Next will involve some fragrance, even if it's totally irrelevant. Yeah, I'm crazy.

Painting Note: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Interrupted Reading. c.1865-1870

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Patchouli and cigarettes

I've always disliked patchouli. Now, I've not only had a truce with the scent, but have come to love it, though certainly not as a soliflore, though I'm sure there are some good ones out there. I'm not ready for that. I still also hate the smell.


Patchouli is used in 1/3rd of all womens' fragrances and in half of all fragrances for men. If one doesn't come to like the smell, that would seriously limit the fragrances one could enjoy. Thankfully, the scent of patchouli as a note in most perfumes is not the stuff one gets in those sticky little bottles from health food stores.

Last week, I was stuck for hours in a shop with a nice young woman who reeked of patchouli. I felt suffocated, nearing choking on the scent. Scent seems too nice a word for it. Pretending to be warm, I opened the door to breathe some fresh air. Unfortunately, it was too cold out to leave the door ajar (we had our first snow that night).

Whenever I encounter someone who is wearing that much patchouli I wonder how it is that they are so (willfully?) ignorant of the effect the stuff has on many people. I enjoyed this woman's company, but I really wished she had left the premises sooner. Isn't that awful? My ability to interact with her was hampered by her fragrance.

Loud perfumes are a different story. Their wearers are (usually) well aware of how much of a statement their fragrances make. I can't help thinking of women in power suits back in the 80's. They wouldn't have cared if their fragrances were overpowering; being overbearing was the point.

Is something like that going on with the girls who wear layered tattered clothes and patchouli? Perhaps they're trying to say that they don't care what people think of the way they smell. Ah well. It's just too bad that that patchouli gives the stuff such a bad rap.

Meanwhile, as an ex-smoker, I've noticed that sometimes folks bring in knitting that smells of stale cigarettes. Now, with these people, I know for certain that they haven't got a clue. I certainly didn't realize just how lousy I smelled back when I smoked. One quickly becomes anosmic to that wretched odor.

I feel sorry for the knitting. Beautiful yarn, hours of work. . .and it stinks.

Image note: Wow. It's true. No can deny smoking can help keep one thin (especially once you have cancer).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yes, I still have a blog

It's been over two weeks since I last posted. My goodness. I used to write an entry at least once a day. Do I have excuses? Sure. Do you want to know what they are? I doubt it. The last thing I want to do after two weeks of no entries is bore you, yet I have no coherent topic today other than "I'm back!"

I've been noticing things that would make perfectly good entries, but I have been falling asleep on my sofa in the evening. I haven't yet mastered the art of writing while asleep. Wouldn't it be amazing if I discovered that secret? Maybe I should just stick a pen in my hand when I'm nodding off, though I figure all I'll wake up with is ink on my couch.

One morning recently I noticed that some of my fingernails were dark blue. I was mystified until I discovered that I'd written something on my to-do list with a faulty pen while half asleep. Writing even whilst in a morning haze is hazardous.

I'm still getting comments about my old Ikea mattress post. Who'd guess that this would turn out to be the most popular entry ever? Seems that everyone has troubles buying a mattress, or is disappointed in the one they've purchased (save a few angry folks who seem oddly brand-loyal or mistake this blog for some sort of consumer report). Our wonderful new one has turned out to be not so wonderful. I wake up stiff and sore, but I suspect that waking up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world that some mattress companies promise with their 5000 buck investments are simply absurd. Have arthritis or a bad back? Sorry, but waking up in the morning feeling like crap is probably just a fact of life.

Oh, darn. I made a promise to myself to write nothing negative in my first post after a long absence!

One thing I've been thinking of writing about is the marquee sign of a church in a strip mall that I pass frequently. They have a weekly message and it is almost always either mildly offensive or at least something that makes me think. This week it says "The next life is more important than this one." This could either be a veiled threat or comfort, depending on the way one looks at it. Doesn't matter to me, quite frankly, for I don't believe I'll be going anywhere after this life. I thought of Muslim suicide bombers and how many Americans think their beliefs are absurd. No, I'm not advocating violence here. I'm only thinking of how similar the belief system actually is. God is on our side. We will be rewarded in heaven.

That's nothing new, to say the least. I like what Lincoln said about this subject in a letter to some generals. Ah, I just spend 20 minutes trying to find the quote, but failed. Perhaps it's a figment of my imagination, and if it is, it's a good figment. In my memory, but perhaps not reality, he wrote something to the effect that if God deigned to speak to both North and South, he might have found the time to whisper something into the President's ear.

Now, I've got some things to do in the real world, so I'll end this here. Tomorrow, I'll have no time for blogging, but I've got some ideas percolating. . .

Painting note: Botticelli's "Return of Judith to Bethulia" 1469/70
Why this? An image search of the words "the return." To read about Judith's return to Bethulia, go here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New post coming. . .soon?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Random thoughts from today (and no imagery): I like imagining a world where I don't hear or see anything about or from Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck. The Nobel Prize for Obama? It seems premature but I understand it can be given for encouragement's sake. Unfortunately, I forget how much many Americans fear and loathe European values. Some of the trees have lost all their leaves. If you find a connection between the last line and the previous few, let me know.