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Quick poll: Steadfast beliefs or question everything?

Ra5pu7in I'd be 4, but closer to 5 than 3 (36 comments)

I've found that it is necessary to have some sort of belief, right or wrong. So I don't necessarily question everything. For example, it is easier to get on with life if you believe you exist and that the basic rules of reality and physics accepted by the grand majority apply to you. Questioning existence and reality makes for interesting philosophy, a variety of sci-fi/fantasy, and lousy living.

That said, I do question just about anything of my beliefs that there is not obvious agreement on. I find it fascinating to look at why we, as humans, and I, as an individual, hold some beliefs nearly sacrosanct. What makes one person believe in a god so completely they live every moment of their lives based on that belief, while another person believes so firmly that there are no higher beings or magic or supernatural things of any kind, so that both consider the other insane to believe that way? Ultimately, I look at most of my beliefs from the perspective of "This is what I believe and why, but if I am wrong, these are the other possibilities and the consequences of each." The ones I haven't done this with are often the things I don't even realize are beliefs rather than facts.

more than 8 years ago

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Lots of excitement

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I got to meet my oldest child in person today. I gave her up for adoption, planned before she was born. The adoption was open. I chose the adoptive parents from several couples the attorney had information on. I met with them and their son whom they had adopted from Mexico. He was about four years old at the time. Based on how happy and well-cared for he was, I agreed to let them adopt my child after she was born. One thing that makes this very unusual is that both of them are in wheelchairs. He suffers from MS or a similar degenerative muscular condition. She suffers from Crohn's and possibly something else. (It has been 17 years and I wasn't going to ask for details.)

From the time she was little, she has known she was adopted - as has her brother. They took a picture of me and had me write a letter for her. Over the years I have received photos and small letters or cards from her mom to keep me updated and answered occasional questions. However, all contact was through her mom. A few days ago I sent an email asking for recent pics and asking about a couple things. Both she and my daughter responded - with my daughter asking to meet me today for lunch if that was at all possible. What a frenzied, exciting, wonderful day this was. First, I met her and her mom for lunch. We ate at a place near where her brother worked, so we went over to say hi. Then I took her with me to her younger half-sister's promotion and we wound up going to dinner with all my kids, a friend, and my ex and his family and friends.

Eating dinner and watching my two girls together was almost spooky. So much more of our personality seems to be inherited than I ever thought possible. They look related (even though they have different fathers). One has wavy hair, but straightens it, so both have straight hair about the same length. All my kids have the deep brown eyes from the Hispanic side (the adopted daughter is likely half-Honduran based on looks and the other two are Half-Nicaraguan). They have a lot of interests and likes and dislikes in common. They also share certain mannerisms, like the way they run their hands through their hair (which, now that I think about it, I do a lot of too). They both talk a mile a minute, just as I do. Their both artistic, though she prefers writing like me instead of drawing which her sister prefers. That makes my heart feel so full. She has always been a part of the family because she is related (I have never kept her a secret from anyone). But now she is more in a way - someone solid, touchable, real. Kinda like meeting someone you build a friendship with online - you may know them, but it is still different.

In dropping her back off, I got to introduce her half-siblings to her parents. Her mom was about as shocked by how much alike they seemed. All in all, it was an incredibly exciting day. Not emotional, exactly - at least not that she or I showed outwardly besides huge smiles and lots of laughs. We are both ebullient about our enjoyment of things, but very reserved about other emotions.

Not to say everything is smooth. She has had quite a few resentments. She resents that I gave her up for adoption, then got married and had two kids by three years later. Especially since I don't have a good, easy answer - I didn't drink or do drugs, but I was smart enough when I was pregnant with her to know I would not be able to parent her the way I wanted her to be. She resents that I chose disabled parents - for the limited mobility which made traveling difficult and rare, for the times they had to call a neighbor to help because they couldn't, for the responsibility of caring for them as their conditions worsen. I can understand these resentments, but I can't tell if they are as in the past as she tried to imply. A clearly current resentment is that I let her mom be in control of everything, like how old she was before she could meet me and that her mom came along. I think I understand how her mom has felt - there is such a fear that the physical bond will be emotional one. Especially when she has had some pretty serious behavior and discipline problems (makes me realize how lucky I am with the two I'm raising). I don't know if her mom feels more reassured now or just resigned - I certainly have no intention of trying to take her daughter from her in any way.

An almost 17-year-old lady who is bigtime into computers and plays a lot of WoW (not that I know how to spell these, but she's a Tauran druid in the horde - hope I got that right). WoW is something my son has been begging me to get for him these last couple weeks. Having GW accounts already for both of us, WoW seems like overkill, but I may just have to give in. I need to get a better list of pros and cons than all his friends play vs. the monthly charge.

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Zen of Ra5pu7in

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Don't chase happiness, embrace it.

Reality is a majority opinion.

If something doesn't make sense, find out where the money flows.

-------------

Wow, I've been away a while. Mostly I quit reading JE's at work, and started to do a lot more at home. Biggest change has been that my teens who used to visit only on the weekends now live with me every other week ... while still spending the weekends with me. So I went from having them 2 days out of 7 to having them 9 days out of 14. Sleep adjustment is the worst - I have to get my daughter up early enough to do all her morning preps, which is more than an hour earlier than I used to get up, but I don't get to sleep any earlier. Thankfully summer is near and they'll get to sleep in (and so will I ... at least to my normal time).

It is strange to try to catch up on what's happened in the zoo while one was away. Nice new cars (very nice :D), ups and downs in relationships and life, illness and health, food and fun, all that great stuff we make our lives out of. So many JEs I won't even try to read them all. I'll just say "HI!" to everyone and disappear again.

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helicobacter's meme

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Initiated by heliobacter in a JE and linked by Shadow Wrought and others:

Search your birth date (just month and day). Find 3 events, 2 births and 1 death that are interesting or important to you. Discuss.

March 17th

Events

1845 - The rubber band is invented. :D
* What would I do without all that ammunition? Make spitballs? Phooey.
1950 - University of California, Berkeley researchers announce the creation of element 98, which they name "Californium".
* As a native Californian (have only live outside this state for three months - just long enough to earn enough to come home) this is just too cool.
1959 - Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet and travels to India.
* I loved the movie Golden Child and find the strong belief in the Dalai Lama's reincarnations fascinating.

Births

1930 - James Irwin, astronaut (d. 1991)
1936 - Ken Mattingly, astronaut
* HINT: I want to go into space. I dream of space, read about space, write about space. If two astronauts can both be born on the same day as me, it must be a sign. Right?

Deaths

2005 - Andre Norton, American writer (b. 1912)
* As a sci-fi/fantasy afficionado (hey, there's a word I like), there was no way I'd have picked any of the other people who died that day. Not the mathemeticians or the gangster or the Roman Emperor or even the saint.

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Cleaning out my friends and foes lists

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

I rarely read the comments on the front page anymore. In fact, I seldom read the submitter's blurb and just jump to the article. So I don't need friends and foes to customize my comment-reading experience. OTOH, I do follow journals. So this initial cleaning out will only be of those who do not journal. Nothing personal at all.

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[Bombarded] This Day - Happy B-Day Johndiii

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

In such ways do we measure time,
    Through this remembrance of his birth.
Verily a wondrous day this was,
    When he first drew breath upon this earth.

Happy Birthday, John D. III

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Johari Window

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

A while back rdewald had referred us to a friend's blog called He's Dead Jim. She often has some inspiring stories to tell so I check in occasionally. Well this time she linked to a Johari window. By comparing which five or six adjectives she picked to describe herself with the five or six adjectives each other visitor to her window picks, a personality grid is created. So, of course, what do I do but create my own window? To go one step further, I learned about the Nohari window which considers negative adjectives and make one of those, too. If you're bored on a Friday and feel you know something about me from what you read here, go ahead and contribute to my grids - good or bad.

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Well it is still the new year ...

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Procrastination, yet again. Better than failure, yes, but not the way it should be. What am I talking about? My New Year's Resolutions. For once I actually thought about it and wrote some down. Only to put them off. That's okay, though - since my birthday is in a couple weeks. I tend to make more life changes in March than January. In fact, I'm really looking forward to turning 37. Another prime number. I've always liked those years - 17 and 19 were both great years in my life, with 18 a lousy in-between point.

Anyway, I'm excited because I've gotten started or moving on a couple of those resolutions and am actively making plans related to a couple others.

I've done something related to exercising at least three times a week. I was thinking about joining the local YMCA so I'd have a gym to work out at. Ultimately I decided not to ... but, I am putting the money I would have spent in my savings account. The monthly amount I calculated as $12 a week. I'm keeping track of my private workouts and ONLY if I work out at least three times in a week is that money staying in the account - to spend as I please in a year. If I don't, that week's money goes to one of my creditors. Similarly, the upfront fee is going into the savings account to accrue interest. How it gets spent on will hinge on whether I can lose a minimum of 40 pounds by next March. By next March I could have $725 just from this and that's enough for a sweet digital camera or a wardrobe splurge or whatever tickles my fancy (non-food reward :D). If I "fail" to work out every week, I gain by making inroads on one debt - without it being a reward for me. We'll see how it actually works out, but I've already started - so no procrastination problems with this.

I also sat down and updated my resume. It's a bit unpolished at the moment and I may post it later for feedback. It's strange to look back and see how long I have stayed where I am - particularly since it has never been an ideal job. I just happen to like most of the customers I work with and to be good at what I do there.

Female I may be, but shopping is something I can't stand. A couple pairs of slacks will be easy enough - I know the store and the size, so that's in and out. The shirts/blouses make me cringe. Yet, if I am to do more than print out my resume, I will need nicer clothes than what I currently wear to work (faded and slowly wearing out). I just hope they don't still think puke green and sickly pink are the latest fashionable colors for women. Maybe I should look around some online shops. (Anyone have recommendations of online shops with quality clothing in sizes larger than size 16?)

While I haven't gotten to work on time consistently, I have decreased the number of minutes late I get there to no more than fifteen. I did realize how much my delays in the morning are tied to NOT wanting to get to work as opposed to what time my alarms go off. This was made obvious by the extraordinary sense of relief one morning when he wasn't going to be in till much later in the day. Got there on time and it was amazing how much more I got done that morning.

I haven't done anything about the last one. Kite flying - need to buy a kite. Swim at the beach - need a swimsuit and for it to be summer. Go hiking - it needs to stop raining and dry up. Do more star-gazing - well, I did watch the International Space Station do a pass over us a month or two ago ... maybe that counts.

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Export and Import with iPod / iTunes

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

My kids both have iPods at this point and having recently set up a couple new computers for them (one at their house and one at mine), I have a question for those of you more familiar with iPods and iTunes.

How do you export all the music files off an iPod onto a computer / into iTunes?

I resorted to showing hidden files, finding folders and files with obscure names (F00, F01, MG3GS), copying them wholesale to the computer, then choosing to load folders (worked on one computer) or files (only way on the other computer). I swear there has got to be an easier way. These are all songs from CDs that one or the other of them has (bought legitimately). Admittedly these are on Windows computers - not Apple - so maybe that's part of my trouble.

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Poetry Question (not about reading)

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 7 years ago

This isn't about the poetry reading that johndiii is working on. Instead it is a question that came up as I posted an original poem on my deviantart account. I had to choose from various literary styles for the poem - sonnet, haiku, that kind of thing. The poem I had written didn't seem to fit any of the defined styles, though it has a clear meter and rhyme pattern, so I chose their category fixed. However, I am curious whether it is an actual style with a name. Even more so, I am curious if any published poetry is written like this.

The meter is very simple. Five line verses. First, second and fifth line have seven syllables. Third and fourth lines have four syllables. The rhyme pattern is spread across each verse pair (in my case I only did one pair). It would be like this: abcdb aecde.

Any ideas?

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Seven deadly sins

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

While looking up some information on the seven deadly sins, I came across this fun little quiz. I came out with two sins that would do me in (aka get me sent to the big hot place): Sloth and Gluttony. Sloth was number one - no big surprise to me as I am a self-proclaimed lazy person. Looking back, the sin of Gluttony was based on the fact that I eat out a lot and eat a lot of processed foods (which, to me, points back to Sloth since it is a laziness about cooking for myself that leads to that). Then, looking at Wikipedia information about the seven deadly sins, I discovered that sloth was not originally one of the sins, but replaced sadness a bit later. If that's the case, I have no sins to worry about (whoops, I think pride just kicked up a notch in my list).

So, what's the punishment for my sin? I'll be thrown into a snake pit. Ummm, okay. Maybe if I was Indiana Jones that would bother me. Is that really the worst thing someone could imagine for a slothful person? Now Gluttony, on the other hand, is pretty gross, and Wrath or Greed are frightening.

To add to the fun, my personal demon is Belphegor. I can say with great certainty that I won't be summoning him any time soon - no matter the potential for riches or discovery or invention.

So what set me off on this little sojourn? Just a little thought that it would be very easy to demonstrate that America (as a whole) is showing regular signs of every one of these sins - and not to some minor degree either.

PRIDE - "Proud to be an American"
GREED - embezzling, pork-barrel politics, scams, get rich quick
LUST - free love, pleasure first mentality
ENVY - "keeping up with the Joneses"
GLUTTONY - consumption rate, the obesity levels
WRATH - road rage, anger management
SLOTH - doing the minimum to get by

As a nation, as corporations and groups, as individuals, these are just about accepted as normal human behavior.

The quiz ends off by suggesting we go back and make choices based on where we'd like to be five years from now. I have to wonder what things could be like if we developed a longer-term vision of where our nation wants to be. Not something petty like a list of laws passed or repealed, but an ideal of what can be if we all set our minds to it.

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Anagram of "Mean Anger" Quiz

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

A "quiz" linked by bellus quies.

Well, about as correct as it can be for having me pick two long descriptions, then trying to regurgitate those in various forms. The world would be so simple if we were all one of only nine possible combinations.

My choices:

(B) I have tended to be quiet and am used to being on my own. I usually don't draw much attention to myself socially, and it's generally unusual for me to assert myself all that forcefully. I don't feel comfortable taking the lead or being as competitive as others. Many would probably say that I'm something of a dreamer--a lot of my excitement goes on in my imagination. I can be quite content without feeling I have to be active all the time.

(X) I am a person who usually maintains a positive outlook and feels that things will work out for the best. I can usually find something to be enthusiastic about and different ways to occupy myself. I like being around people and helping others to be happy--I enjoy sharing my own well-being with them. (I don't always feel great, but I try not to show it to anyone!) However, staying positive has sometimes meant that I've put off dealing with my own problems for too long.

Well, not exactly, but certainly a close enough match and accurate enough. And based on those limited choices:

the Peacemaker
Test finished!
you chose BX - your Enneagram type is NINE.

Peacemakers are receptive, good-natured, and supportive. They seek union with others and the world around them.

Okay, so I do tend to be good-natured - duh, isn't that what my choice of (X) said? But, no, I'm not particularly keen on seeking union with others outside of my small circle. I like my solitude, thank you very much.

Listen until I finish speaking, even though I meander a bit.

You're kidding, right? I actually find it uncomfortable to having someone wait until I've completely finished speaking. Obviously this person has never been around me (or any of my siblings). Imagine five adults sitting in a room all talking pretty much at once. That's me and my brothers and sisters. Meandering would be a major understatement - our conversations tend to jump around, leaping entire canyons of thoughts and landing on the opposite side.

Hug me, show physical affection. It opens me up to my feelings.

Ack - NO! Back off, personal space. I'll hug and show affection with those I know well - particularly my children - but not with anyone outside a small circle.

Laugh with me and share in my enjoyment of life.

Now this one I agree with whole-heartedly. I love life even with its troubles. Laugh and enjoy life and be happy around me.

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[Meme] Q&A

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Yeah, I'm up way too late (1:16am where I am). Just winding down and getting ready to crash now.

Ocean or Lake? Snow-fed stream.
Pizza or Chinese? Mexican.
Mansion or Penthouse? Hustler.
Have you been on a Jet Ski? Nope.
Are you afraid of clowns? Never.
How many brothers/sisters do you have? Two brothers, two sisters, two half-brothers, two half-sisters, and a step-sister (yeah, yeah - my mom was busy).
Favorite band/group? No real favorite, but I love the vocals by Sylver (trance)
Baseball or football? Hockey.
Favorite brand of makeup? I usually don't wear any, and when I do there's no fave.
Waffles or pancakes? French toast.
Do you have an IPod? Never. Sony MP3 player that I treasure.
Bike or scooter? Roller blades.
Ever go in a hot air balloon? No, but I will sky-dive in this next decade.
How will you celebrate turning 21? As a 16 year anniversary.
What brand computer do you have? Built mine - Antec case, AMD cpu, AsRock mobo, ATI graphics card, and so on.
How many times have you been to DisneyWorld? Never. Or Disneyland. Paramount's Great America, on the other hand, thousands.
Favorite city? Santa Clara, CA.
Ice cream or frozen yogurt? Ice cream.
Do you think you are fat? Yes. It has also been confirmed by a couple of scales.
Ever throw up in a public place? Duh, morning sickness makes that inevitable.
Do you have a pool? Nope.
Ever drive a car? Quite a few, but none at the moment.
How many times a month do you go to the movies? None anymore.
Last movie you saw? Romeo Must Die
Who is your hero? FDR.
How old are your parents? About as many years older than me as my grandma is older than them.
What deceased person would you like to meet?
Do you chew ice? Sometimes.
Have you been to California? Born here, lived here all but a year of my life (six to eight months in AL and four in NY).
Last book you read?
Favorite teacher? Mrs. Joan Owens - one awesome English teacher I had for two different classes.
Do you like to go fishing? No, I don't like fish.
How many boyfriends/girlfriends have you had? Many casual boyfriends and one spouse, now ex.
How many of those do you regret? None. Though I
What is you average in school? Haven't been in school for a long time, but I was 4.0.
Favorite professional team? Don't have one, but I root for the Bengals and the Dodgers just to bug everyone else who does.
Do you like mohawks? On the right person, yes.
How many pairs of shoes do you own? Four - dress, sneakers, hiking boots, and sandals.
Do you floss? When I need to.
Do you have braces? Not now, but I had the head-pieces, the braces and finally the bionator (mouthpiece thingie) in middle school.
Do you bite your nails? Rarely these days, but it was a long-time habit I had to break.
What is your last thought before falling asleep? No one specific thought - horses, space, stories I think of, anything that skitters through as I relax.
Do you fall in love easily? Not in general, though I went head over heels for my ex.
Ever have a crush and they never knew? Not sure - I had a crush, but whether he knew or not, I never found out since I graduated and he was only a junior.
Do you babysit? No way. I just got my kids grown into teens - I do NOT want babies around.
Ever been shot at? With a laser-tag gun, sure.
Do you work out/exercise? Irregularly - right now I do brisk walks.
Do you have 6 pack abs? Never did.
Do you consider yourself nice? Definitely. I have a hard time not being nice.
What movie character would you like to be? Don't remember her name, but Goose's wife in Top Gun.
Do you go to camp for the summer? Never did.
Ever been bit by a snake? Don't ever plan to be.
Have you been on a boat? Yes, more than once.
Name of friend you have known the longest? Who's counting these days?
Do you like jumping on a trampoline? Not so much anymore.
Ever break a bone? Not a one.
Name of favorite Aunt/Uncle? Arch
What is your ultimate job? Novelist.
Do you want to walk on the moon? Only as a first step.
Can you name the seven dwarfs? Yeah, but I don't want to.
Favorite TV show? Stargate (watching it on DVD and finished season 8 - now I have to wait.)
Apples or oranges? Bananas
Favorite model of car? 60's Mustang convertible
Favorite flower? Those intensely purple blue ones - tiny, ground-hugging and DARK.
Favorite color? Green - preferably deep in shade.
Besides family, ever have someone of the opp sex in your bedroom? More than I can count.
Ever climb out your bedroom window? Out, no. In, plenty of times.
Do you live in an apartment or house? Apartment with crappy college-kid neighbors.
How many times in the last month have you had the hiccups? Maybe three or four. Why?
Ever laugh so hard milk came out your nose? Nope.
How many cousins do you have? 3+3+1+2+2+2 = 13 cousins
Do you believe in ghosts? No belief either way until I have personal evidence.
If you were a bird, what would you be? A hawk or falcon.
Ever get stitches? No.
If you could, would you want to know what your future was going to be? Only if by knowing I could improve it.
How many kids do you want to have? Exactly as many as I've already had - three.
If you could change your name, what would it be? I like my name (there's a reason I didn't go back to my maiden name).
Dogs or cats? And horses, chickens, cows, and pigs.
Who do you tell your problems to? My various journals - mostly off-line.
Who can your tell your secrets to and know they wont tell? I don't bother with secrets.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes, but I don't think that all love is like that.
Do you go to church? No - last time I went was to get my kids baptized and confirmed.
Would you marry outside your religon? Since there is no one in my religion, that should be obvious.
Volleyball or tennis? Surfing.
How many people were at your last party? I threw a party. Dang, I must have drunk more than I thought.
Ever ride in a limo? Yeah - in the passenger seat up front, actually.
Ever drink champagne? YUCK! Only twice - once to decide I didn't like it and once to be sure very expensive champagne was no better.
Favorite dinner? 8oz medium rare New York steak, garlic mashed potatoes, side salad, and apple crisp for desert.

Wow, now I'm hungry. Not a good thing at nearly 2am. Well, my last thought before falling asleep tonight will just have to be food.

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Meh - mod points on a Tuesday? Who needs it?

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Honestly, I don't read front page article comments much anyway. I do, however, believe in actually using my mod points in a fair manner. But, why, oh why, give mod points to me on Tuesday, of all days? I have enough awareness of "Troll Tuesday" [TT] to stay away from the hunting grounds when there is a feeding frenzy. Heh, I even learned to pay attention to what day of the week I posted some JEs. One memorable exception was posting once on a Monday night ... after midnight. Wheeeee!

So off I go picking front page stories about topics I actually know something about (cuz how else am I going to know if the post is informative or insightful). Games ... yeah. Science ... well, I know enough to spot the obvious and can google facts, if in doubt. Patent law or anything Microsoft-related ... sounds like troll bait to me - I'll pass.

Having decided on the story or two to moderate, I click the fateful button to browse at -1. Shiver. My eyes are burning. Okay, now that's just plain stupid. Who came up with the stupidity of an entire comment on how to post good comments cut right from the same page? Clearly offtopic, but someone modded it flamebait. Huh? Oh, must be something to do with how the karma points work - really penalize the poster which offtopic wouldn't do. (But that sets me to wondering why someone would waste the time, effort, and karma on their account for that. The only answer I could come up with was trying to get those with mod points to waste them on trivial stuff. Any better insights?)

Hey, what do you know? There's an anonymous coward saying something on topic that no one else has brought up yet which is actually both interesting and insightful. Wow. My faith in humanity has been temporarily restored. For two seconds anyway. Now what's with these retarded efforts at being funny. No, that last one REALLY wasn't funny and I'm starting to wonder about the sense of humor of those who thought it was. Maybe they think any one-liner that is barely on topic and contains a provocative word is funny.

One left and no more comments in either article. Now what? Bah, I'll just have to wait for the mysterious future. Somehow the idea of modding journal comments is just too bizarre to even consider.

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Storing random gobbledy-gook for later

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Just a number of random things I wanted to get down - good for thinking about more later.

==============

Some people have trouble pondering infinity. Some can't consider the immenseness of our known universe without feeling overwhelmed. Not me. I was sitting the other day at work and thinking about comparative sizes. I could mentally picture a marble in one hand and a basketball in the other and know about how much larger one is than the other. That started me thinking. If I held the moon in one hand and it was the size of a marble, how big would the earth be? That wasn't enough. Now I wondered if I held the earth in my hand the size of a marble just how far away the sun would be. Well, dang, can't stop there. Shrink that sun down to a marble and where is the nearest star? What would the galaxy look like from that perspective? Shrink the Milky way down to the swirls within the marble ("the galaxy is on Orion's belt" goes through my head there), and how close would the other galaxies in our cluster be. How many galaxies and cluster would remain beyond my ability to see? I love the concept of how much there is out there and how large the scale of it is. I do the same thing in reverse - trying to picture the interaction of atoms making up my fingernail for instance. Yeah, I really should look into taking some chemistry and physics classes in college - I love that stuff.

============

On a completely unrelated note, seeing yet another ugly SUV, I tried to envision covered wagon manufacturers back in the 1800's competing with each other to make their wagons bigger and better. Flashy paint jobs, fat tires, wider and taller wagons. Made for a pretty funny image - especially considering them in a circle beset by attacking natives. :D

==============

I continue to play quite a bit of Guild Wars. About half my time is spent progressing story and maximizing the skills, armor, weapons, and ability of my top two characters. The other half is spent "farming" in the early area, giving away decent items to new characters, training new people, and answering questions (all for free). I believe that the best way to improve the gaming experience is to encourage and care for the new gamers who would become frustrated, get scammed, or otherwise find the experience unsatisfactory. Kind of a pay-it-forward approach. I've seen several of those I've helped later do the same for others, so I know it works.

=============

Bias - almost everyone complains about bias. Some of it is real, but a good amount is perceived. Just recently I read an article that claimed "less than 20% of" something were from somewhere. If that same article had instead said that "nearly 20% of" that same something were from somewhere, it would have come across differently. When I started thinking about the way the phrases were used with other topics, I realized that there are two sides to the coin - a bias created by how numbers are used or represented and a bias created by our own preconceived notion of where the neutral point is. The glass is half-full or half-empty is measured against an expectation that the ideal glass is full. If we expect marriages to last forever, then nearly 50% ending in divorce is a tragedy. If we expect marriages to end in divorce, then less than 50% ending in divorce is a bonus. What was the article about? The amount of crude oil the U.S. imports from Middle-Eastern countries (Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.)

==============

Tolerance - I really need to write an essay on this. The definition of tolerance (loosely paraphrased from Merriam-Webster) has to do with allowing others to have differing beliefs from our own. But beliefs are very personal things. There is no need to allow someone else their belief - they will have it whether or not we give them permission. What is a better way to deal with differences? Is it possible for some people to accept that others who believe differently are right from their own perspective without threatening that same person's own sense of rightness? I do this. I accept other's belief in God as true and right from their perspective, without feeling threated in my own belief which doesn't include the Christian God as anything like what they believe. But then there is the line to draw - ethical? What if someone believes it is their life's mission to kill others? I certainly wouldn't tolerate that or even accept it as right. So there is something else involved. Deeper thinking on this later.

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Writing Exercise

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Concept and "rules" can be found in Shadow Wrought's journal. I decided to try for a separate haiku (simple 5,7,5 style) with each word.

Intentness, focus,
No distraction from her prey
The lioness stalks

Treehouse and attic
A closet beneath the stairs
Secret hideaways

Botanic garden
Or garden of sand and stone
Each giving pleasure

Six tatami room
Beanbags and pizza boxes
Here cultures collide

From sugar cane sweet
Through brewery most bitter
Drink of pirates: Rum

Pure white lace rustling
Veil lifted to reveal her
Most beautiful bride

For or against me
Political agenda
Theres no middle ground

Mysterious snarls
Deep within the rainforest
Puma eats tonight

Black hat and black veil
Hiding a doleful visage
His widow remains

Cash flowing freely
From bursars and treasurers
Academies will fail

Yeah, I had to look up bursars - never heard of them and will probably forget about them again in a couple days. Now for the WTF words that I also had to look up (and not all of them were easily found in a dictionary).

Perfect creation
His journeyman work of art
Monoxylous chair

Arthurs round table
Assembled circinately
The knights of the realm

Bad diagnosis
High cholesteremia
Time for a diet

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Alphabetical Zaniness Meme

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

A - Accent: None. It's really the oddest thing, but no one ever remarks on me having an accent.

B - Breakfast Item: Orange or apple juice

C - Chore you hate: . . . are there any I don't hate? I really need a house-husband, what can I say?

D - Dad's Name: Jerald Dean (masculine version of Geraldine - his parents really wanted a girl)

E - Essential everyday item: Water - minimum of a couple liters

F - Flavour ice cream: Mint chocolate-chip

G - Gold or Silver?: Silver, I guess, since that's the basic shade of my watch.

H - Hometown: Santa Clara, CA

I - Insomnia: Nope - any lack of sleep is wholly related to gaming or reading

J - Job Title: Technical Support Representative

K - Kids: 3 wonderful teenagers - one raised by adoptive parents and two by me

L - Living arrangements: Sharing apartment with brother - kids every weekend

M - Mom's birthplace: Monterey, CA (not 100% sure about that)

N - Number of significant others you've ever had: One - if you count a spouse (ex now) as a significant other. I'm not particularly up on what an SO can include.

O - Overnight hospital stays: Three. Equal to the number of kids I've had. Or four if I count sleeping at the hospital when my daughter was pretty sick (three nights).

P - Phobia: None, I'm afraid.

Q - Queer?: No, just flat out weird.

R - Religious Affiliation: None. Raised a Jehovah's Witness, one daughter being raised Jewish, other two baptized Catholic, but I don't do the afilliation thing.

S - Siblings: Two brothers, two sisters, two half-brothers, two half-sisters, and a step-sister. (My mom had a total of nine and the wicked stepmother brought along her one.)

T - Time you wake up: As late as possible to get to work sort of on time - 7:05. On weekends? Whenever I want - depends on how late we stayed up.

U - Unnatural hair colours you've worn: None. Before now I've had highlights (those old-fashioned barely-noticeable kind) and I've occasionally dyed the ends of my hair which bleach out from the sun so they match the rest. However, I did just dye my hair this weekend to a color not natural for me - a deep red-brown (mahogany) - which looks rather nice.

V - Vegetable you refuse to eat: Okra ... very bad memories of gagging on those.

W - Worst habit: Biting my nails. I don't do it anymore, but when I was younger I bit them back so bad that the point where the nail separates from the finger is pretty far back ... which makes them weaker and even when they grow out they look short.

X - X-rays you've had: Dental and spinal

Y - Yummy: Truffles - had some great French ones the other day - mmmm chocolate perfection.

Z - Zodiac sign: Pisces (though I fit the Aries description better most of the time)

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A little too constrained, perhaps

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

The rules and explanation of the exercise can be found in Shadow Wrought's journal.

Aboard the Maric Colony Spacecraft, a malevolent parasite plagued Terrence, the oldest refugee from Terra Seguana (which had become uninhabitable after the eruption of a hitherto unknown volcano). Terrence absent-mindedly adjusted the valve connecting the boiler to the generator. His last thought as he wound up smeared like jam on his prize photograph of heavy-weight boxer Mohammed Ali was that he really craved some onion rings.

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Some actual New Year's Resolutions

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Okay, I'm going to actually make some real New Year's Resolutions and see where they take me. Most of these are already in progress or are tangent to other things in progress since I make decisions to change things all the time. However, these give me a little more concrete goal to work toward. The last is because I believe enjoying life is as important as everything else combined.

1) I resolve to exercise at least three times a week and keep track of certain stats so I can see the improvement.

2) I resolve to finish my resume, print it out, and get it to at least the one person who keeps asking for it.

3) I resolve to purchase a minimum of two more slacks and four shirts/blouses that would be appropriate for a less casual workplace.

4) I resolve to be on time for work every day rather than within a half-hour so there's no bs about tardiness when I turn in my notice.

5) I resolve to fly a kite, go swimming at the beach, go hiking at Castle Rock and Big Basin, and do more star-gazing this year.

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Year in Retrospect Meme

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

1) What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?

Got 2x my monthly rent in savings. This is the first time in my life I've actually got a reserve and am not living paycheck to paycheck.

2) Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Well, looking back at a journal entry last year, I didn't really accomplish the things I wanted. Of course, I didn't really make resolutions so much as throw around some ideas of what I wanted to do. So this year I will make some resolutions rather than a half-assed "well, maybe I'll do this and that".

3) Did anyone close to you give birth?

No one close, but a number of acquaintances have larger families.

4) Did anyone close to you die?

Again, no one close. However, the most shocking death was one of our customers whom I've helped often who died in a small plane crash only a little over a week ago.

5a) What countries did you visit?

I don't travel much, so none.

or 5b) What was the best new food you learned to cook?

I don't cook much, so none. I did try my hand teaching my daughter the fine art of the pie crust though. Haven't made one since cooking class in junior high school. It was edible, and better than the factory-produced things from Costco, but could have been better. Practice makes perfect (but adds lots of pounds).

6) What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?

A pet. It's unlikely to happen though, since I want a large dog (Rottweiler or long-haired German Shepherd - that type), and the only way I'm getting one is with a house that has a fenced yard which I can't afford.

7) What date(s) from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Etched? I don't think anything that memorable happened this year (good or bad).

8) What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting my taxes filed and a payment plan set up. Hadn't done that since I moved my kids to live with my ex's mother years ago and couldn't claim them as dependents. It's not paid off yet, but getting this far was a major achievement.

9) What was your biggest failure?

Not making any real plans, so I didn't get anywhere. Vague ideas of what I want just aren't enough.

10) Did you suffer any illness or injury?

Not exactly - just some back/neck trouble and some severe headaches. I've got those under control for now.

11) What was the best thing you bought?

Depends on what I consider the criteria for best. There is the bass guitar for my son which is the best gift I've ever gotten him.

12) Whose behavior merited celebration?

All the quiet, unsung heroes who gave of their time, money, homes, and energy to the victims of the natural disasters this year seemed to be full of. Not the ones who got media play or made sure we knew they were helping, but the ones who simply jumped in to help as soon as the need was there.

13) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

There were lots of people whose behavior was appalling, but why should I let the behavior of scum make me depressed? There are far more people whose behavior was not appalling and they are the ones I want to know about.

14) Where did most of your money go?

Rent, food (especially eating out at lunch), and spoiling my kids.

15) What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Watching the space station go overhead a couple nights ago. Whenever we can, my brother and I try to catch a glimpse.

16) What song will always remind you of 2005?

Er, I don't listen to lyrics much - or I don't listen to songs with a lot of lyrics. Plus this year was pretty forgettable.

17) Compared to this time last year, are you...
i. Happier or sadder?

Happier. Late 2004 is I finally confronted my ex on a few things and made the clean break I should have when our divorce was final in 1996. So this year has been about emptying away all the old hopes and dreams and making room for new ones.

ii. Thinner or fatter?

Thinner, but not by enough to be excited. (Seven pounds in one year? I quit trying mid-year, but at least I didn't backpedal.)

iii. Richer or poorer?

Richer, both in money (love that savings balance) and budding friendships.

18) What do you wish you'd done more of?

Hiking. Without my car I don't get to go hiking much at all and I seriously miss the nature without city sounds.

19) What do you wish you'd done less of?

Procrastinating on chores around the house. It's bad when I'm avoiding the kitchen so I don't have to remember there's a sink full of dishes to wash.

20) How will you be spending New Year's?

Probably logged in to Guild Wars dancing with a whole bunch of other addicts. :P Not sure if my kids will be here or at their dad's ... if they're here it will be different.

21) Did you fall in love in 2005?

No, but then I haven't been particularly social in real life. Online is a whole different story, but I wouldn't fall in love with an online persona, so that gets me nowhere.

23) How many one-night stands?

None. Let's just say I got that out of my system when I was 19 and 20. There won't ever be another.

24) What was your favorite TV program?

Do DVDs of TV series count? I've been thoroughly enjoying Stargate ... only have season 8 to go and I'm caught up.

25) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No, I don't waste the energy on hating people.

26) What was the best book you read?

Alphabet of Thorns by Patricia A. McKillip. In fact, every one of her novels I've read so far has been a delight.

27) What was your greatest musical discovery?

That I can still read music even though I only took lessons when I was nine or ten and have usually played by ear since.

28) What did you want and get?

I wanted a scale I could trust to give me the same number if I stepped off and back on. My last scale could vary five pounds up or down, so keeping track of my weight and trend was impossible.

29) What did you want and not get?

New bath towels - preferably large, fluffy and dark green or dark blue. But only because I haven't gone shopping for them yet.

30) What was your favorite film of this year?

Not sure - I dropped out of movie-watching midyear and have been a Netflix junkie since, so I have no idea what year things came out in. Oh, wait ... Mr. and Mrs. Smith was this year, wasn't it? Ooh, yeah, I really liked that one.

31) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I don't remember (without pulling up a calendar I don't even know what day of the week it was on). I was 36 (still am, too).

32) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Changing jobs to a company that has regular benefits, vacations, and management. Working for a small place where the boss works when she feels like it and everyone is rather lackadaisical about getting stuff done may not have much stress, but the business is going nowhere.

33) how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?

Is it dirty? Does it have more holes than it should? Toss - otherwise wear.

34) What kept you sane?

The same thing that keeps me sane every night, Pinky. Trying to take over the world. Ahem. Based on accepting the argument that I am sane in the first place, I'm not sure what keeps me sane. Certainly not genetics, circumstances, or environment. Personality perhaps.

35) Which celebrity did you feel the most sorry for?

I don't. Celebrities aren't worth feeling sorry for. Of course I don't envy them either. Scorn ... well, there are quite a few deserving of that.

36) What political issue stirred you the most?

Oddly enough it isn't any one issue that got me riled up. It's the idiot extremists on both sides who turn local and personal situations into fodder for their agendas.

37) Who did you miss?

No one - I even got to see more of my siblings this year than usual.

38) Who were the best new people you met?

Um, did I meet anyone new this year (in real life)? No. That's a real problem I need to work on this year. I'm not lonely, so I don't seek out people, but it would be nice to make some new friends.

39) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005

I can burn out on the things I enjoy most, so balance really is key.

40) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Err, back to the song lyrics. I can think of several, but none that sums up my year. Something about good beginnings perhaps, because while I didn't actually accomplish much, I've done a number of things and made a start on certain changes.

BONUS: Who are you that you weren't a year ago?

I'm not sure yet, but I'm actually trying to figure it out which is new. Hopefully I have a better answer for this next year.

YIKES, this thing is long.

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Up and at em

Ra5pu7in Ra5pu7in writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Well, first a belated Merry Xmas to anyone who actually celebrated it for any reason, a happy Chanukkah to those who celebrate that (which probably includes my first daughter whose adoptive mother is Jewish), and a "Thankfully that's over with" or a "Hip Hip Hooray, the days are gonna start getting longer again" for the rest of us.

===============

For the first year since my kids were born I didn't have to do any of the Christmas shopping for them (both gifts for them and the gifts they got for others). That was massively freeing - none of the commercial aspect of the season to deal with. I did get my kids gifts of a sort, but without having to buy the first and the second being put off till after Christmas. The first was a 30G iPod video my company's owner in her great wisdom and insight (yeah, laying on the sarcasm thick there) got for all the full-time employees. Errr, yeah. I have an mp3 player I'm completely happy with and a PSP - and a distaste for the control setup on the iPod. My son, however, had (yes, had, let me finish the story here) an iPod mini from last year's commencement that he really enjoyed. Hmmmmm, younger sister's mp3 player is broken, son has his 6G iPod mini about 1/4 full already and lots more songs he wants .... brilliant flash of an idea there. So I show my son the new iPod still in the box. On his own the same brilliant flash. Call my daughter (she managed to catch a plague too) and mention that I have this new iPod I don't really want. She has the exact same brilliant flash. Ultimately, my son now has the new iPod (why couldn't transferring all the songs from one to the other have been easier - sigh), my daughter has the iPod mini, and I have the joy of seeing both of them sitting around delighted in their new toys. That worked out better than anything I could have planned. :D Now for their birthdays in February and March. Probably gift-certs for music (whether CD or songs is up to them). They have a Rasputin Music nearby with excellent prices on CDs, so we'll probably go that way.

Oh, yeah, that after -Christmas thing. Well the computer at their dad's house died a month ago and finally got tossed. They don't need a gaming rig, and the printer and monitor are still there, so we'll be watching the specials and getting them something a bit more modern. Even more important, it will be one that I can set up with proper protection since spyware, adware, viruses, and other nasty bugs were a large part of the old one's demise. Not from my kids, but from everyone else who lives or visits there and uses (read abuses) that computer. From an older second cousin staying for a month and downloading oodles of porn to young cousins who want to download all sorts of games to other adults who don't know the front end of a computer from the back, there wasn't a lot of care taken to keep the old one in good condition. We'll see how much better I can set this new one up.

Actually, I should consider a another one here at my house. We currently have four computers: mine (dual-boot linux and Win2K), my brother's (was solely linux until I got him hooked on Guild Wars - now has Win2K dual boot), one for my son to use in the living room (having three of us together in Guild Wars rocks), and the last one for my daughter. She's not a gamer, so she's got the leftovers - we had enough lying around to put it together and it works for her surfing and IM'ing and drawing and scanning and so on. But it is notably slower and would only work with Linux (Windows was incapable of figuring out the ethernet even with the drivers installed, while Mandrake stepped up to the plate quickly and easily.) She's fine either way - happy with GIMP and delighted with Kopete.

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