Tag Archives: on real life

Adulthood is really long.

There tends to be a bit of a scramble, I’ve observed, for young adults to “figure things out.”  People start feeling “behind” if by, say, age 30 they don’t have the good job, the significant other, the stability in place.

Why?

It’s not that I don’t empathize with this desire.  As I get older, I find myself more impatient with my Hollywood-driven financial instability and more worn out by my lack of a set schedule.  I can see wanting to achieve some life success, some life milestones, within the first ten years of adulthood.

But here’s the thing: Adulthood is really, really, really long.  (Well, at least we hope so.)

If you’re set by age 30, and you’ve found your permanent groove in life by then, that means you end up doing the same thing for forty years.  Unless you love what you do—and in some cases, even if you do—it’s very possible for that to get excessively boring!

So what’s so wrong with not knowing what one is going to be doing five or ten years down the road?  What’s so wrong with saying, “I’ll do this for now, I’ll gain some life experiences, and when it no longer suits me I’ll move on?”

Do people want to feel “set” because change is frightening and difficult?  Is it more about feeling stable, so that if one decides to move on down the road it feels like a choice rather than a forced reaction?  Is it that family—which is very important to many—is such a long-term commitment that it’s necessary to stay “in one place” (financially and geographically) for several decades?  I’m genuinely curious about this.  Because why do we have such an emphasis on hitting some set level of stability by age 25 or 30 or 35 or 40 when adulthood is so many decades long, with so much time to do new and wonderful and exciting things?

In Which I Rant for 1,600 Words on Cheating and Plagiarism

Sometimes it seems like not enough people care about plagiarism anymore.

I can’t describe the level of revulsion I feel when I hear about people talk glibly about putting their own names on others’ work.  It makes me feel sick, nauseated, as if I’m watching our society collapse into a dystopia and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

When I’m writing characters, I can pen protagonists who are all over the ethical map.  Some of my heroes have no problem killing.  Some disregard the law entirely, or will take any job for the right price, or will use unsavory methods to get information.  But I don’t think I could ever write a hero who was a plagiarist.  It’s too repulsive.

I’m not one of those Shiny White Knight people who never does anything wrong and judges anybody who puts a toe over the line.  I know people who are Lawful Good, and I am definitely not.  And in many cases, I know I cannot possibly understand people’s lives and backgrounds, so I’m pretty nonjudgmental in general.  He who is without sin, etcetera, etcetera.

So I don’t know why I react so strongly against plagiarism.  Is creativity, is doing one’s own work, such a holy grail that to put your name on someone else’s words becomes an unpardonable crime?

Maybe.

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In Defense of Hubris

I have always been of the opinion that “hubris” gets a bad rap—particularly when it’s a label slapped on scientific or technological ventures that turned out to go horribly wrong.  I am a sucker for human innovation, and many times throughout history, new developments and ventures have been judged insane until someone was determined enough to go through with them—and then that person changed the world.  Those successful ventures are then lauded throughout history, and we now have nothing but praise for the courage of whatever geniuses helmed them and persevered despite no one believing their dreams possible.

It seems to me that if those same ventures had failed, they might have been spat upon as “hubris” and condemned.  I hate this view—in fact, I tend to view human curiosity, courage, and invention as categorically positive values.  Just because something failed doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying!  It also doesn’t mean that it was somehow unconscionably, damnably arrogant to think it might have succeeded.  The fact that we sometimes condemn, in retrospect, historical decisions that have as their only sin that someone dared to dream the impossible leaves a bitter taste in the back of my mouth.

If the Wright brothers had crashed, their flying machine might have been forever labeled hubris.  Instead, humanity can fly—I can travel to the other side of the world in less than a day by flying. Think about that for a second!  We have vaccines that have stopped the spread of horrible diseases.  We’ve circumnavigated the world.  We’ve traveled to the tops of the highest mountains and to the bottom of the deepest ocean.  On the civil rights front, people have stood up and created massive, swelling paradigm shifts of change, have overthrown governments and ended tyrannies.  History is peppered with accomplishments that seemed crazy only decades before they became possible, feats that might have been called hubris if they had failed.

Come on, people, we’ve been to the freaking MOON!  If that’s not hubris, I don’t know what is!

God, I love hubris.

Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and Levothyroxine (Synthroid): Anecdotal Account of a Possible Drug Interaction

This is one of those posts that probably won’t interest regular readers but I’m posting so it’s indexed in search engines for people who may be looking for people’s experiences on the subject.  I will preface this by stressing that I am not a doctor and this is purely an anecdotal account.  Do not base any medical decisions on reading this story; please consult your doctor.

It appears I had a bad reaction to pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) today, possibly as a consequence of being on levothyroxin (Synthroid) for hypothyroidism.  The drug information warned about possible drug interactions for those with thyroid disease, but I’d taken Sudafed many times before without a problem.

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Modern America’s Obsession with Clothes

So I had to go clothes shopping a few weeks ago for an event. Now, I haven’t gone full-on clothes shopping since . . . a long time. Many years. I’ve bought the odd piece of clothing I needed or happened to see on sale, but going out and shopping for clothes? Nuh-uh.

Part of the reason for this is that I tend to feel my clothing is Perfectly Adequate unless it has literally fallen into holes. I find myself mystified that I’m expected to stop wearing something when it’s no longer new-looking or it has gone out of style (I am fashion-blind anyway). It seems such a tremendous waste of serviceable fabric. Hence why I still wear my science and math team T-shirts from middle school and high school, because there’s nothing wrong with them!

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Monopolies and Powerlessness

For the work I do in Hollywood, there is a certain industry directory I have to be in (“have to” meaning, “massively professionally hindered if I refuse”).  It’s a terribly run service, but the fact that everyone uses it means everyone must use it.

In particular, I recently found one of the service’s billing policies to be disingenuous bordering on fraudulent.  Which, you know, made me mad.  So I wrote a strongly worded letter to them telling them so.

I hit “send” on the email, and immediately felt a frisson of apprehension.  Because this particular directory?  I need them way more than they need me.  I may be a paying customer, but them dropping me from their service would be a far worse outcome for me than me leaving the service would be for them.  Other directories exist, but the fact that it’s an industry standard gives this one a de facto monopoly.

So I started to get a little bit nervous about having sent that letter, and that got me even angrier.  Because I shouldn’t feel like I can’t complain about terrible-bordering-on-fraudulent billing practices.  I shouldn’t feel like I can’t speak up when a service I am paying for makes me unhappy.  It’s bad enough that I have to pay money to a service I don’t like because of the other people who use it rather than because the service itself is well-run, that I have to accept an absolutely frustrating user experience and a badly put together system—but to feel powerless on top of it, to feel like there’s any reason I can’t or shouldn’t speak up, is awful.

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On the Penny: Let Go, America. Let Go.

The United States of America has been in an economic crisis.  It seems like if we could make a small change that would save us hundreds of millions of dollars per year, we’d do that, right?

And yet we refuse to abolish the penny.

The U.S. loses almost $60 million per year from minting the penny (which shouldn’t happen; the government usually makes money from producing currency), even more from transporting and distributing pennies, and between $300 million and $1 billion in the cost of employee time wasted on pennies.

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Fighting Self-Handicapping: Success Is Nonlinear

After mentioning self-handicapping in a post about cognitive biases a couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone about it, and we shared our angst about how easy it can be to self-sabotage.  How difficult it can be to make sure we truly keep “doing our best.”

Self-sabotage is tempting, because doing our best is scaryReally scary.  Because what if our best truly isn’t good enough?  What if we do our best and we still fail?  Then doesn’t that mean we’ve failed?  Whereas if we don’t do our best, we can always tell ourselves that if we had tried a little harder . . . well, maybe we could have succeeded.  It wasn’t that we weren’t good enough, we assure ourselves.  We just didn’t try quite hard enough.

The problem with this mindset is that, other than a few very specific goals (such as maybe, say, professional baseball), success is entirely nonlinear.

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Not a Chef Here

I don’t cook.

In fact, I think it would be more accurate to say I can’t cook!  Perhaps sufficient repetition in the kitchen would change this state of affairs, but I would find that boring, so I don’t do it.  I find cooking in general to be both boring and Sisyphean, because what happens after I cook something?  I eat it, and then it’s gone!  And then I have to do it again!

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