Category Archives: Society

This is your brain. This is your brain on alone. Any questions?

I’ve just read a really intriguing article about how being alone is actually positive and good for you, and not the negative or even dysfunctional experience that society and modern psychology would have us believe.

[pullquote]People make this error, thinking that being alone means being lonely, and not being alone means being with other people,” Cacioppo said. “You need to be able to recharge on your own sometimes.[/pullquote]

I love the phrase “social snacking”, which is used to describe socializing by means of texting, phone calls, etc. There’s healthy snacking and then there’s empty calories; it all depends on who you are engaging and what you are deriving from these activities. One of the things that makes “social snacking” so attractive to those who LIKE to be alone is that it’s an indulgence on their own terms. If you’ve had enough, you shut down the app – done.

I have to disagree, however, with the leanings of the graduate student who believes less in “social loafing” and more in the power of what people fear others think of them. The experiment she ran involved testing memory of those who thought they were working on the task by themselves versus that of those who thought they were working on the task with others. She found that those who thought they were working alone performed better when their memory of the task was tested. The experimenter tends to believe that it’s because there was concern over the opinions of the others who were working on the task, but I disagree that this can be applied across the board.

I believe that the knowledge that one is working alone makes a person highly capable, because one knows that there is no fall-back position. There is no safety net. You walk the wire, you fall, oh well – no one is there to catch you. This is probably what makes me so damned attractive to all the Peter Pans of the world – the motherless lost boys who are loads of fun but in the end, irresponsible, undependable and looking for someone to take up their considerable slack.

I believe that there are only a limited number of people who will become more capable because they fear what others will think of them if they do not. The truly mature and the truly self-confident will not care what others think of them. There is also a small portion of society that doesn’t care what others think out of selfishness. So the theory that concern over the opinions of others trumps the knowledge that there’s no net doesn’t hold a lot of water for me.

The power of lonely – The Boston Globe.

What part of “overkill” don’t you understand?

I followed this van into the parking field at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this morning. You think maybe they’re pro-lifers much? 😉

We parked side by side and as soon as the van’s doors slid open, a pile of kids spilled out. I counted five but there were more strapped into car seats inside. They all appeared to be under the age of ten.

I believe the parents were in their mid-30s. The father was rail thin and prematurely gray. His lips were pressed together as he went about the grim business of unfurling strollers. The mother was bloated and harassed. She started bitching at one kid or another the second her battered Keds hit the pavement. The kids have names like "Noah" and "Miriam" (hint: if a random stranger knows your kids’ names, that means you’re picking at them too loud or too much – possibly both).

Fine. You’ve got beliefs and you’re passionate about them. Are you happy, though? Is your mirthless, mean behavior at all Christ-like? Just askin’…

Sent from my Nokia N97

The Kind Heart Will Triumph

The Kind Heart Will Triumph:
An Open Letter To A Young Girl I Know

It’s suckage when you believe that there is no one you can trust to truly have your back and never fuck with you. I think that’s what all of us want from our families, friends and lovers – the one person we can depend on not to INTENTIONALLY hurt us. I am emphasizing “intentionally” because sometimes, shit just happens. Perhaps the person does not have the necessary skills to put themselves in your place and feel what you feel. Perhaps it does not even occur to them to do so. Maybe they are not mature enough to have empathy and compassion, or maybe it was never taught to them. Maybe they are all tied up in the competition for status, for a position among the “cool” people. Maybe they are really desperate for it, they really, REALLY need it. Maybe it’s so important to their own feelings of self-worth, they cannot afford to worry about your feelings or anyone else’s. Maybe they are trying their best, but it’s YOU who isn’t being clear about what you want, what you will accept and what you will simply not tolerate insofar as their behavior toward you is concerned.

Or maybe – just maybe, they are incapable of empathy and compassion, regardless of their age or maturity level. Maybe some people really ARE just that shallow. Maybe some of them do not see anything beyond the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the number of friends they have, the things they own or the number of boys who are salivating after their insubstantial, plastic little selves. Maybe they are just mean girls; there are some kids who don’t want friends, they want worshippers. They don’t value love, they value notches on their belts (or worse, on their bedposts). They don’t hesitate to hurt someone if they stand to gain something from it – inflated sense of self-worth, status among peers, whatever else they might want in a moment of malice.

At your age, the power of that status-among-peers thing is not to be underestimated. It is so very craved, it turns even nice young people, people who were brought up to behave “better than that”, into glory junkies. It’s a rough time, the teen-into-mid-twenties years. Insecurity drives more friendships to ruin during this time than any other. It drives people to behave with unspeakable cruelty toward one another. It drives them to behave with unspeakable cruelty toward THEMSELVES. It drives kids to do things that are dangerous to their bodies as well as to their psyches, just so that others will stand in awe of them and think they are cool. It drives them to cut, to have sex before they are ready and it drives them to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and do drugs. Worst of all, the craving for status among peers can drive kids to end up, at their own hands, dangling from the end of a rope or floating in a pool of their own blood.

I don’t know how any of us manage to escape the teen/young adult years with our lives. We’re all just so fucked up and so disoriented during this time, it’s a wonder we can see straight once it’s over. Certainly we all bear the scars when we emerge. We’ve learned some hard lessons about people. We’ve maybe learned to be a little more cautious about whose opinion we value, because placing a lot of stock in the wrong person’s esteem for you can turn you into someone you never had any intention of becoming, and it can make you feel like a worthless fool when they capriciously flat-leave your ass for some insignificant supposed infraction. Or maybe just because they ceased to think you were cool. They don’t really have to have a reason, do they? They just do what they want with your emotions.

[pullquote]We learn that what gives a person value is this and only this – your value is measured by how you behave toward others, particularly toward those who are less fortunate than you are.[/pullquote]

Hopefully, what we learn from all this is how to measure a person’s value, how to measure your OWN. We learn that what gives a person value is this and only this – your value is measured by how you behave toward others, particularly toward those who are less fortunate than you are. I don’t mean that just materially. I mean it emotionally too. If someone is more unhappy than you are, then they are less fortunate. When you throw that person some pixie dust, it will make their day and they will always remember you for that. They will remember that you were kind to them when they needed it the most.

Those who matter, the people who you really want on your side through thick and thin, will measure your value by HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL. Not by what lip gloss or shoes you wore. Not by your cool phone or your car or your status as an brainiac, athlete, whatever. They will measure you by how you behaved toward them.

I’m not saying that you should eschew material things. If it makes you happy to wear cute clothes and have cool toys , then have at it. You know that I’ve never denied myself anything I really wanted. But you also know, if you’ve taken the trouble to observe, that I have a shitload of friends; people who come running to wish me a Happy Birthday, people who clamor to be the ones I come to see when I’m home on Long Island, people who sorrow with me, hold me up when I’m down, rejoice with me when I’m happy. I would one million times a million rather have them in my life than anything else. Yeah, I’d flush my smartphone for them. I would. And they know it. That’s why they’re my friends.

You will get past this time when transient, meaningless things seem to be defining you and your relationships. It will happen sooner than later, if you let it. It will, if you can muster the courage to start choosing friends from the people who maybe aren’t so “cool” by school standards but who are smart, funny, compassionate people. Kind people. People who have a heart, like you do. You will attract these people to yourself by your own behavior. If you aren’t ready to do this yet, it’s ok. It’s a lot to ask of a person in your position, and it takes practice.

Start small. I remember one time being in an amusement park with a little person, many years ago. We looked across the street and I observed that some little kid’s stuffed animal had fallen out of the stroller and was just lying there in the street. Well the little person I was with, she saw this and she rushed across the street, picked up the stuffed animal, and lovingly tucked it into the stroller to await the return of it’s young owner.

That single random act of kindness and compassion is what I remember most about who you REALLY are underneath all this horrible but apparently necessary teen angst you’ve got to go through. I have faith that sometime very soon, you will start to collect friends who will always love you, who will always have your back and never fuck with you. I have faith that your kind heart will rise up and beat back all this meaningless bullshit, and that you will grow into the kind of woman everyone wants for a friend – smart, funny, gracious toward others.

And with really cool toys, cause that’s just how we roll 😉

Too Easily Fooled By “Too Big To Fail”

call centerOffshoring, outsourcing of jobs: U.S. jobs continue to flow overseas – latimes.com.

“President Obama has complained that the U.S. tax system encourages companies to invest and hire abroad, but a bill that would have ended certain tax credits and deferrals to companies expanding or moving overseas was voted down in the Senate last week.”

Why in God’s name are companies getting tax credits and deferrals to put Americans out of work? WHY? And why has our current Senate neglected to correct this matter?

And while I’m frothing at the mouth, I’d like to point out that it should have been a condition for accepting bailout money – “Too Big To Fail” should have been made to promise that they would not hire anywhere but the United States for X many years.  Yes, years.  After all, it was American taxpayer dollars that bailed ’em out – why should anyone but American taxpayers benefit? Violators should go to jail – the entire board, hard time, no parole.

We’ve been had, I’m afraid – had and used. And our politicians, it is clear, will not represent our interests and will not help us. It doesn’t matter who is voted into office. “Too Big To Fail” owns enough of them to get their way. The rest of us get to bend over.

National Day of Prayer UNTRUTHS and How Google Can Be Your Friend

President Obama, VP Biden And Their Families Attend National Prayer ServiceAttention: Anyone who is claiming that Obama has “canceled the National Day of Prayer” on May 7th.

Obama didn’t cancel anything. His predecessor, George W Bush, chose to hold a ceremony for the National Day of Prayer at the White House every year he was in office. Obama has not chosen to hold a ceremony in the White House. Many of Bush’s predecessors, both Democrat and Republican, and including his own father, have done the same as Obama. They have signed presidential proclamations to observe the day, as Obama has done, but they have not held a ceremony at the White House each year of their administration. There is nothing historically out of the ordinary going on here.

No one, not even the mighty and apparently much-feared Obama, can cancel your right to pray.

As far as I can tell from the research I’ve done, President Obama will observe the 2010 National Day of Prayer via Presidential proclamation as he did in 2009. Observed does not equal canceled. Nothing is stopping anyone from praying on May 7th. Nothing is commanding them to pray, either.

PLEASE STOP BEING SHEEP. Learn to read FOR YOURSELF, beyond those incendiary email forwards you’ve been blindly re-distributing. I understand that you want to spread the word about what a bad man he is, but when you spread the falsehoods, you degrade your own credibility. How will anyone ever take you seriously ever again if you continue to propagate that which cannot be substantiated?

INVESTIGATE FIRST. You have the absolute right to criticize someone if they do something you don’t agree with. BUT FIRST, make sure he actually did it. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Don’t put your own credibility in the hands of anyone else but yourself.

GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND. Search. Explore. Investigate. Criticize for what he DID do, if you don’t like it, but don’t spread untruths. It only makes YOU look bad.

Single riders are marginalized

Disney dining: Magic Kingdom eateries test seating program — OrlandoSentinel.com.

The article linked above is from the Orlando Sentinal. It was posted at a Disney-related discussion board I frequent, The WDB.   I had an immediate, visceral and negative reaction to the concept of assigned seating at a counter-service establishment.  It took me THREE posts over the course of two days to get to the bottom of how I was really feeling about it, and why. 

That’s actually good, for me.  There were years and years in my life whereby I’d submerged how I really felt so well, nothing came through except for anger.  At least now, I can have it figured out in a matter of a day or two.

Anyway, here’s how it went:

FRIDAY – POST #1

I hate this idea. I really hate it. I really don’t want the CMs controlling EVERY aspect of my Disney experience.

The place [Pecos Bill’s]wouldn’t be so crowded if they would open other eateries when the park is crowded, such as the Terrace. I have seen the Terrace locked up like Fort Knox, plenty of seating but no food available, on Memorial Day Weekend. Yes, a holiday weekend, park is packed to capacity, and the Terrace is closed. They would not have such an issue at Pecos Bill’s if they would open enough eateries given the size of the crowds.

This idea gets a resounding thumbs down from me.

FRIDAY – POST #2

Another thing I thought of – Disney is NOT going to provide this service for free. As soon as CM intervention is introduced, the prices of the food will go up to support paying that person’s salary and benefits + making a profit off of providing the service. Counter service is supposed to be the less expensive option. The more labor counter service has to support, the less differentiated from “sit-down” the pricing will be. In effect, the “less expensive option” is slowly being removed.

Yes, I’m cynical. IRL, I work in “big business” and I see this tactic all the time.

Next thing you know, they’re going to regulate the benches to sit on. Pretty soon, you’re not going to be able to park your butt anywhere without waiting in a queue and ponying up more cash! I predict the onset of the $5.00 Mickey Head Ice Cream Sammich!

SATURDAY – POST #3

Oh, I keep thinking of more reasons why I don’t like this!

I often find myself touring the parks and eating alone. I think this is just another way that Disney is going to marginalize me. For instance, singles consistently get put in the back of the boat on POTC. Why? Because that is the smallest seat, the seat that can accommodate the least amount of guests. The front seat is reserved for larger parties.

Now that might make logical sense, but by this logic, I am destined to NEVER have the front seat experience on POTC. I can see doing this if the ride is packed, the queue is long, conditions like that – but they do it ALL the time, whether I’ve spent 2 minutes in the queue or 20.

Is my money not as green as the money of the larger party? Is it not worth as much as that of the larger party? I paid to get in, same as every individual in the larger party, yet I do not get to have the same experience that these individuals do. Instead, I get to have a back-of-the-vehicle experience. The same thing happens on Splash and a few other rides where, because of the design of the vehicle, there’s a smaller row at the back of the car.

This may seem a small thing to many of you, but trust me, it wears on your last nerve when you are constantly being held to the side until all the happy families have boarded ahead of you, only to be placed in the rear of the vehicle. It’s discriminatory, and it’s not right. I have spoken up about it, but the CMs get really uncomfortable. They are only obeying their training. There are very few of them who are willing to buck the system and put a single woman up front for a change.

Now, before anyone starts breaking out the violins to play a few choruses of “My Heart Bleeds For You”  I want to say that I’ve figured out a way to deal with this. While I am in the queue, I look around for a party of three – preferably either teenagers or else a family with an older child. I approach and tell them what I’ve just told you – I know I’m going to get put in the back of the ride, and I’m tired of being there, so will they please adopt me for the duration of the ride? Invariably, the answer is yes, and I get to sit somewhere other than the back. Maybe the front, maybe not, but at least now I’ve got the same chance as anyone else.

So what does this have to do with dining? They are going to make me wait and wait and wait for a table for two. Have you looked around? Have you noticed that there aren’t a lot of tables for two? Mostly they are for four. But if I’m next, and there is a table for four but no table for two, guess who is going to get seated? The family behind me, that’s who. I guarantee this is what is going to happen. And it is not fair or right.

There’s a vast difference between getting “adopted” for a ride and getting adopted for a meal. No one is going to want to share their table with a stranger and I don’t want to, either. I want the freedom to sit down and have my meal and not be marginalized and shunted to the side.

OK, I have ranted long enough.

END OF POSTS

Yes, I’ve really had those experiences – at Disney, of all places! It’s depressing. I’ve actually written about this before. Before I had blogs, I had a static site where I filed my trip reports. You can read my original 2005 rant on this subject by clicking here. And note I had a delayed reaction back then, too.

Mostly, I’m ok being a single rider. And then there’s THIS sort of crap. 🙄