jmfargo: (Default)
On a cold day, or just a day when I'm feeling a little down, there's nothing better than a nice cup of hot chocolate water.


Seriously, if the directions on that hot cocoa mix only include a "water" option, it's not even worth purchasing. Keep it out of my house.
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Call it The Law of Attraction, The Power of Positive Thinking, or even The Secret; the theory is the same: If you think good things are coming to you, they will. You just concentrate on the good stuff, ignore the bad stuff, and the world will be your play thing, leaving you healthy, wealthy, and in charge. That's all there is to it according to most people I've talked with.

Just ask Jane. Jane's a woman I met recently who stumbled onto this in a big way. Her first big challenge is losing weight, and it's one that she's been fighting all her life. Jane believes that through this powerful "think it, be it" approach to things, she can sit around all day and think herself thin. Wouldn't that be great? I talked to her during this time and she looked bigger than ever, but was convinced that she was losing weight. She'd been using positive thinking for three months, and was sure it was working.

Proof? Well, she didn't want to step on a scale because that would mean that she didn't just trust that the Universe was getting her everything she wanted. She didn't want to taint the pureness of her good thoughts, don'tcha know. She could eat anything at all, have as many helpings of loaded mashed potatoes as she wanted, and still lose weight. She was living proof that this thing worked!

Except, of course, when she finally did step on a scale at her doctor's office, she had put on more than twenty pounds in those three months. The doctor took her off the Krispy Kreme diet, put her on a medically regulated one, and she's doing better, but she's not nearly as happy about it.

Let me rephrase that. She ecstatic that she's losing weight. She's not so happy that she has to actually do work to make it happen.

Then there's my friend Chuck. Great guy, seriously. He went to college, got a degree, became a music teacher, traveled the world, and led a great life. He stumbled into The Secret, and it changed his life dramatically. Suddenly he didn't have to work at having a good life anymore, he just had to think himself into better situations. Everything was his for the taking, and he just had to clap his hands and say that he does believe in fairies. This was awesome, and just what he was looking for!

When I met Chuck, he worked the night shift doing a minimum-wage data entry job. His wife, also once a teacher, worked at a Wholesale store as a lady handing out samples. They were over their head in debt, couldn't travel anymore, and still convinced that the big payoff was coming. It was coming, don't you worry, life couldn't get them down because they knew that all it took was thinking positive.

That was two years ago. Last I heard, the payoff hasn't yet come. He's still in a job he hates, his wife is still getting flak from management about eating the free samples, and both of them are unhappy.

That all being said, you probably won't believe me when I say that I'm not bashing The Power of Positive Thinking.

No, seriously. I have nothing bad to say about people thinking positively and wanting the world to bend to their whim. I think the concept is awesome. The problem is that, as with so many different things, people only listen to the simple part, and stop there. They think they can think the world into submission, and never get to the step that says in order for it to work, you have to actually work towards your goal.

Let me say that again, because it's important:

In order for The Secret to work, you have to actually work towards your goal. You have to be willing to take chances, follow weird urges, and generally change your lifestyle to focus on the thing that you're trying to achieve while keeping a positive attitude about it. Without actually doing something to change your life towards what you're trying to achieve all you have is a happy attitude, which is nice, but doesn't get you rich. Or skinny. Or a girlfriend.

Okay, it might get you a girlfriend. Which is good. But when she realizes that you're jobless but not submitting applications anywhere because you're sure a job will just fall into your lap, your happy attitude might not mean much.

In other words folks, it's not just what you think. It's also what you do.
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Right now we pay something like $300 a year for the right to park in the college's semi-premium parking spots. These parking lots are apparently so good that many of the spots are metered. If you have a parking pass, and the only spot left is a metered spot, you still have to pay a quarter for every 15 minutes you'll be using that spot.

Most times the only spots open are the metered spots. Even those might be full.

Or I can go 15 feet to the side of the road and park at a city meter, which costs me a quarter for 20 minutes. Think about this for a moment.

I pay $300 a year to park in lots that are almost always full. I could pay $1 to park in the lot if I want a metered spot, so that's $1 per hour on top of the $300. If my class lasts an hour and I have 30 classes in a semester then I'm paying $420 a year (4 semesters) for parking.

Or I could just park at a city metered spot that costs me $0.75 an hour for every class and pay $90 a year for parking.

Granted I do find a non-metered spot about once a week, but I still think I'm getting screwed here.

Remind me not to re-up the parking pass. Thanks.
jmfargo: (Default)
All my extra energy for the past few months has been spent in the pursuit of learning the Arabic language. When I'm walking down the halls at the college I get funny looks from people wondering why I'm concentrating so hard that I look constipated while muttering strange syllables under my breath. Worse than that is when I'm actually sitting in my chair and actively studying. It's like the world disappears around me, and there's nothing but the Arabic language in front of me. It got so bad, one night, that my wife asked me to please stop clearing my throat so loudly. The worst part is that I was in another room, with the door closed, and music playing so that I wouldn't disturb her.

Why is it, then, that I'm constantly feeling unprepared for class?

When there's a test, my brain panics, I start to freeze. An oral presentation to be given in class? I stand up in front of the other students, and feel as though I haven't learned the simplest forms of English, let alone Arabic.

Why is it? Well, for that I'm looking right at you, teach.

See, I know you haven't been teaching at this school very long, and that you love to spout off about how at Yale and Harvard the students were never late for class, never absent, but apparently there are a few things you missed realizing along the way. Let me help you here. Maybe if you listen to my advice you'll last longer at the University of Delaware than you did at those prestigious schools you like to name-drop. Here goes:

~Obviously something happened and you're not working there any more, so every time you mention how much better the students were there, all I can wonder is why you're not still there, why you decided to move to a smaller, less famous/interesting/studious school. Every time you bring them up, all I see is failure in your eyes.

2) When you tell your students that a test is going to be specifically on a, b, and c, it's kind of rude to add subjects d and e.
~Especially when we haven't covered e. It's gotten to the point where students just don't believe you when you say that certain things are going to be on the test. Most just shrug and don't bother studying, because most of the time you don't even have a or b on the test. When asked, you say you "decided to go with something different at the last minute." Really? Did they teach you that at Harvard?

3) Making a student cry in class is not "shaking them up to be a better student," it's inappropriate.
~Giving them a hug afterward doesn't make it all better.

That's all I've got right now for you. Maybe I'll think of a few things later. The worst part is that when you're not actively teaching, you seem like a genuinely nice and caring person. I don't know why it is that the second you step into your authority mode you become inept, cruel, and down-right scary to your class.

Oh. One more:

4) In a class that's about talking in a foreign language, remember that if you intimidate us into silence we'll find it very difficult to speak, even in our native tongue.
~I'm 28 years old, comfortable and secure with myself. I'm a decade older than most kids in the class. All this together, and you still intimidate the hell out of me. I never want to speak up, even when I know I have the right answer, because of your attitude. I can't imagine what these kids go through.

Please, take this to heart. You've only been at our school for two semesters, and from the looks of things, I'm not sure you're going to last there much longer. It's obvious to us that you hate where you are; make some kind of change before it's made for you by the school.

Thanks. I hope this helps. Like I said, I think you're a nice person, you're just a horrid teacher. Good luck, and be well.

jmfargo: (Default)
Good morning folks!

I had some caffeine this morning because I'd heard that caffeine helps the brain function slightly more productively, and I had a test, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Of course, I also tried that "studying" thing I've heard so much about, so I can't say which one did the trick, but something helped me breeze through the 60 question quiz in 20 minutes, with a very confident feeling that I only missed 5 questions, at most. Less than a 90% on this quiz would come as quite a shock for me.

So, right before the exam, I literally felt the caffeine rush through my system. Remember, I've been off caffeine for quite a while, (except for very few times like this, when I feel I'll really need the extra energy/brain boost) so a large coffee-like drink is bound to have some pretty profound affects on me.

I'm not looking forward to the crash, but I forgot how fun the up is. I'm soaring at a million miles an hour, ready to take on anything. Sure, it's a false feeling, and actually trying to run that marathon, or do 1,000 jumping jacks would end in abysmal failure, but this is how it feels.

God, I'm glad I never got into drugs. I have enough trouble not justifying adding caffeine back into my diet (especially when I learned that not only does it help a little with brain functions, it also speeds up your metabolism), I can't imagine if I was on some actual illegal substance.

I mean, the problem with drugs is that they usually make you feel good. I can't imagine people would continue with them if they made you feel horrible while you were high; that just wouldn't make sense. They do what they're supposed to do, with very little effort on the part of the druggie. The fact that they're illegal barely matters to people who have nothing good in their lives, nowhere to turn except their next score.

I had an experience with being slipped LSD once, at Woodstock '99 in Rome, NY. Most of my friends know about it, because it makes for hilarious stories afterwards. I mean, imagine me standing in place for hours, literally hours, holding up the sky because it's made of stained glass, and all these people jumping up and down are going to break it if they're not careful.

Just imagine walking by me, my arms up-stretched towards the sky, not moving, staring up, not moving a step, no shirt on, glazed eyes, and then an hour later walking by, seeing me doing the same thing. From what I'm told/remembering, I was there for at least 3 hours, possibly longer, until the sun went down.

It's funny, and thinking about it I remember that I didn't feel bad, just worried. Bad came when I tried to sleep and it felt like all the insects within a 20-mile radius were trying to crawl into my sleeping bag. That wasn't fun, but I knew by then that something was wrong, and was able to convince myself that it was my mind playing tricks on me.

But seriously, good funny stories, not horrible feelings for most of a day, and a lot of weird things happening that I'd never see without acid (like a flying whale); these things aren't bad, and I can see why people get into it.

That's not to say they should.

There's so many other things in life that can be awesome, fun, and a little weird, but you have to expend more energy and will to get them to be fulfilling. And, they're real. You can lock yourself in a room with a few people and have whatever designer drugs are out there now, have a good time, and then come down from it, feeling like you've just been digested and excreted by some giant flying whale, or you can go put a little effort into having fun, and keep feeling good.

I'd rather keep feeling good, personally.

Oh, and pot? Pot should be legal. I still wouldn't smoke it, but that's not the point.
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My job is good for a few things, and one of those things happens to be finding quality entertainment in the form of making fun of what people say when they are asked to tell a company what it did wrong in its tech support. The things I hear are amazing.

Aside from general stupidity, however, I do get exposed to a whole new culture of words. There are things that southern people say that I have never heard before, at least not in this context. This is not an attempt to make fun of anyone* and really I'm just curious if someone can explain what these terms mean to those in the south of America or at the very least tell me I'm not crazy for finding it odd.

1) "Little" - People on these calls seem to want to preface just about everything and anything with the term "little." "Well that little guy down there** helped me out pretty good." "The little technician couldn't fix things."

My possible explanation: "The Little Train That Could." ?

2) "Proud" - Man these people are proud of everything! The technician did a good job on their lines? "I'm very proud of him." The problem was solved? "I'm proud of BellSouth for fixing it." I thought to have pride you actually had to have something to do with it? Like: "I'm proud of the fact that I was able to fix my car on my own." Or at the very least the person has to have something to DO with you. "I'm proud of my daughter for graduating summa whatever." But to be proud of a technician because they were able to fix the problem? I don't know, sounds kind of fishy to me.

I guess to me it's like saying "I was proud of my waiter for serving me all the right food and in a timely manner." Just weird.

3) This isn't a way of speech, but I always want to know - Why would you call your ISP because your cable is out, and then be angry that the people providing you with DSL internet can't get your cable back on?

Then I get things like this:

In Other Words
"Uh, yes. She should have asked a few more questions. Um. In other word she should have asked a few more questions."

I love my job. All work and no play makes Miah a dull boy.

*Okay, maybe one or two people.
**Down there? Down there? Come on folks, we all know that India isn't to the south of you!
jmfargo: (Default)
Oh gods. My head is ringing, my stomach is squirming, and my eye-lids feel as though they weigh 100 lbs more than they normally do. I'm achy, cranky, and just plain tired and there's nothing I can do about it today since I have to slog through transcriptions for work until about 2 in the afternoon when I could take a break and a nap, but in actuality have to work on getting everything set for D&D tonight, and also have to run out to a few local stores to finish some gift buying that I planned to do for a certain Maria's birthday, which is Thursday!

I am just so tired, and honestly, if something doesn't change I don't know that I can function properly today. I could quite easily see myself falling asleep during my working hours, or at D&D tonight.

You know, I've never fallen asleep during a roleplaying session, but I have had players fall asleep on me. That's a real big ego boost there. Heh. I remember the first time it happened, and how I felt as though I had failed somehow, even though everyone but this person was interested, intrugued, and deeply into the game - it didn't matter - I had failed this one person!

Well, come to find out that feeling doesn't fade after the fifth or sixth time it happens, and it still doesn't fade after the 20th or so. It becomes less damning but there's still the wonder of "How can I get them more interested?" I think I've done this, tailored the game a little bit to all my players, including the sleepy one because they haven't fallen asleep in weeks. This is a minor triumph for me because it makes me feel as though I've done something even if in reality the truth is that they're just not as tired as they normally are.

A Dungeon Master fails or succeeds based upon how much fun his or her players have. The players neither fail or succeed but instead enjoy themselves or do not, which is based upon how well the story entertains them. While it's the DM's job to tell most of the story the players are in a position where they can change it, influence it and be heros. If either part of this delicate balance fails, it can ruin a game night for everyone. If a DM can't keep the players awake, well, that balance has tipped quite a bit.

But tonight? Tonight may be the first time in my history when the players have to keep the DM awake.

This should be fun. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
jmfargo: (Default)
For the record, I don't friends lock posts. I just don't write stuff that'll get people angry, or if I do I do it accepting the consequences. Other than that, if I do write something that maybe I shouldn't, I usually delete the post.

I will say what I said before though: Sometimes I just don't get women.


Mar. 31st, 2006 11:13 pm
jmfargo: (Default)
90% of you can skip this - it's about LARPing, or NOT LARPing, as the case may be.

See, recently I decided to go to a game that I had sworn off. Basically the owner said "Look, it's always a lot more fun when you're there, please come and NPC." I decided that since NPCing is free, and I'd have a car to leave in at any time that I might get too bored, or whatever the case may be, I may as well do it. The date was set, and I was ready to go. I had gotten time off, well, made sure it was okay time to not be around anyways, and all set, happy to be trying again and even happier that I might be able to bring some friends along! It'd be great, NPCing with good friends that I KNOW are good roleplayers.

Then the date changed. Apparently someone didn't pay the site fee BEFORE telling the players the schedule. The date changing makes it impossible for me to go. I can't say I was surprised, but definately unhappy. I emailed the owner to tell him that I wouldn't be there. Terse email, short and to the point without being rude.

His response was this, verbatim*, in its entirety:

and with you, your friends too? Just curious... =)

Owner's Name

I mean, I wasn't looking for "Oh, that's too bad, I'm sorry" or "Damn it, Spock, we can't do this without you!" But ouch. All he cares is that he's going to be out a few more NPCs.

Fantastic. Makes me feel great after the talk-up I got. *sigh*

I'm writing this late at night because almost no-one ever sees them. The fact that it's a weekend makes it even that much more unlikely to bug people's friends lists. Just had to rant on something that only a handful of you get. Sorry to the others.

*Except that he had his name instead of "owner's name" there.
jmfargo: (Default)
People with too many children piss me off. Yeah, that's right, you heard me. There are a few rules in life that I think need to be enacted, and many of them have to do with your right to bear children. I firmly believe it's only your right until society takes it away, and sometimes I seriously think they should.

At what point would I consider how many children you have "too many?" For some people it's one. Yes, one child is too many for some people. Most of the time that's because there's no money, no food, no shelter, nothing. Right, I'm saying that if you can't take care of your baby without federal help (and I don't mean medical bills due to complications, those can get horrible) and you know this before you get pregnant, then one child is too many for you!

I knew someone in high school that purposely got pregnant, dropped out of school, and lived off of public assistance. She didn't work, and had no medical problems that would keep her out of the work force. There was nothing in her situation that made her unable to leave that house - her mother and father's house. She's bilking the system, and that has to be stopped. Even if it means forcing her to give up that child for adoption.

Let me repeat that in case I came across vague - A situation like the one described above should end in the child being given up for adoption to a family that actually has the child's best interests at heart. It's cliche, but we have to think of the children.

What about two babies? When does two babies become too much? Well, obviously if one baby is too much, someone shouldn't have two. We'll skip that rant. The point at which you have to draw the line is, unfortunately, linked to money and ability.

I don't know all the issues involved, and I obviously can't talk for every single person in the world and every unique individual, but at some point you have to look at a situation and say "That's enough."

My suggestion is easy, really - Free birth control for both men and women, and make public assistance more difficult to get for these situations. Make people prove, weekly, that they're out there looking for a job, or at least some kind of income. At the same time it's important to help those people find a job. You're not just kicking them to the curb and saying "tough," you're giving them an opportunity.

Of course, in my little world taking care of a child would be easier due to the fact that there would be free healthcare for the entire country. Medical bills are one of the leading causes of financial difficulty, aside from credit card debt. Take away that, allow for laws that make having a child be something that you first need permission for, and teach proper sex ed through-out the entire country, and we might stop hearing as much about how the child down the street died because of negligence, or how the little girl that goes to school and everyone absolutely loves is actually being beaten every day by her drunken father.

We'd also have that much less to pay for from our taxes. I know that I'm tired of paying for other people's children. Aren't you?

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