Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you're all having a nice warm meal with someone/people you love, or like, or can tolerate. If not then hopefully you're out there helping serve those less fortunate than us. Either way, may the turkey be with you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No more horsies :(

My friend, Julie, always greets me with an inquisitive, "How are you?" When most people ask me that, they don't even wait for the answer (which is fine with me). But Julie isn't most people, so I always answer truthfully with anything ranging from "bad" to "alright." Today, I was feeling just okay so when she asked me how I was doing, I answered, "Okay." "Just okay?" she asked. "What? Just okay -- it's better than bad, yeah?" I responded, not sure what she was after. Finally, she said, "I keep hoping one day you'll say, 'I'm great!'"

After telling her not to hold her breath, it occured to me that the reason she never hears that I'm "great!" isn't because I never feel that way, but because she's never asked me, "How are you?" on a Saturday before. Saturday, for those of you who don't know, is my riding day, the one day each week where I wake up, get dressed, and head to the barn where I ride, sit, chat, stand, watch, groom, and sneeze, until the sun goes down. It's my one day of sanity a week and really the only time I'm truly happy.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances out of my control, my wonderful instructor, Laurie, will no longer be teaching at the barn and will move to Stanford instead. With access to Stanford's lesson horses unlikely, it seems I am now left to my own devices and without a horse to ride, meaning I'll be grounded indefinately.

As a few of you have already pointed out, I could always seek a new instructor/barn. However, half the fun of Saturdays are the friends I've found in Laurie's other students. Through some crazy combination of luck, coincidence, and personality interaction, we've bonded into an extremely close group sharing some intangible common bond. I've yet to distill exactly what that bond is, but it's there and it's strong. I don't want to leave it.

As the sun set behind the hills this last Saturday and it became time to depart, I didn't bid my friends a long farewell, throw hugs all around, or give special thanks for a wonderful year and a half. That would be giving into defeat. Instead, I simply waived goodbye and headed to my car just as I'd done every other Saturday in recent memory, confident I was only a week away from another cheerful greeting with green fields, horses, and friendly faces.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Growing Pains

I've been asking myself this question over the past couple years ever since I left college. You might think it's a strange question to ask oneself, perhaps indicative of a low self-esteem, but it's actually about something completely different.

One of the hallmarks of my college experience, especially that of my freshman year, was the intense, personal, and constant exchange of ideas. Every night was a forum for a new topic about which my dormmates and I would debate, sometimes calmly and deliberately, other times passionately and sensationally, late into the night.

At the time, it was genuinely fun and invigorating. After spending our childhoods cooped up in our homes with parents telling us to do our homework, we could finally open the floodgates and indulge in our curiosity in different ideas and the desire to impress our own views upon others. In retrospect, our nightly debates were excellent practice. The constant push to think thoroughly about difficult topics, to form and express opinions, made me smarter, quicker on my feet, and overall, a more interesting person to talk to. It ties hand in hand with my theory on the source of intelligence. Intelligent people aren't necessarily endowed with more raw brain power (though many are); they've just spent a lot of time thinking about many things so that when a seemingly random topic arises, they have the associated knowledge and/or opinions already at their disposal.

Recently, however, I've noticed that my verbal agility is lacking, my mind wanders about shallow thoughts, and I generally don't have much to say when it comes to anything. It's not that I don't have an opinion -- I just don't care to express or fight for it. In other words, I've become boring.

Additionally, and perhaps most detrimentally, I've found my closest friends' company increasingly abrasive. Of course, everyone knows I love them dearly so this is nothing more than minor annoyance. At the root of the problem is that we all went to Stanford and therefore share the trait of being strongwilled and competitive, competitive not necessarily with each other, but with ourselves. In other words, we're never really good enough and feel compelled to be the best. Put simply, we take some things too seriously, from Halo to poker to Taboo to discussions about politics.

At first, I wasn't sure why this was annoying me so much. After all, I am just as guilty as they are of taking things too seriously. Plus, this behavior never really bothered me before; why was it grating against my nerves now? On top of it all, I feel an overwhelming drive to be absolutely passive and relaxed, to be boring.

After much thought, I came to a reasonable conclusion. I think I'm just growing up. This is not to say my previous behavior was immature, but it was just a different stage in my life. Now all of that competitive energy and analytical drive has been diverted to my job and my career. I spend all day at work exercising those very muscles and by the time I get home, I'm exhausted. All I want is a beer and some passive entertainment, and when all I find is more of the same aggressiveness, I become excessively turned off by it. Basically, my sense of work and sanctuary has polarized into well defined compartments and any spill-over simply irritates me.

The change is probably not as dramatic as I've laid out here; I think being burned out at work has simply exacerbated it. However, I'm glad that it's been blown out of proportion so that I have a chance to recognize and adjust to this newer tweak to my personality.

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Welcome Back!

Congratulations to me if you're reading this page. It means you care so much about me, a month-long "My web page is broken" message didn't disuade you from coming back. Either that, or you were just so insanely bored, you had the slimmest hope that I could relieve you of your monotony. Probably the latter.

On with the celebration. After losing the war of attrition with the log/referral spammers, I'm finally with a professional hosting company, www.hostrocket.com. So far things are going smoothly. Migrating this blog took much more doing than I would've liked (migrating from postgresql to mysql is anything but possible), but it's mostly done. I just need to squish my 2.5GB photo/video gallery into my 1GB quota. Sounds like a task for tomorrow.

It's getting late and my eyes are bleeding from h4x0r-ing Movable Type 3 which is apparently infinitely less free than before (well, not if you use the el-cheapo free [neutered] version like me). To answer your final question, why did I bother reviving a web page with a readership of -5? That month-long hiatus really hit home how much I enjoy having a web site -- my own personal soap box in this big crazy world. I felt suffocated and silenced without it, trapped with no outlet. The need for self-expression finally overpowered the need to keep my wallet closed, so here we are, on 100% bonifide paid-for web server.

Welcome back. Hope you enjoy the many more years of blogging to come!