Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why I don’t hate Facebook

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This post is intended as a bit of a comeback to the anti-social networking rants I keep seeing on Facebook.*  I’m writing in particular about the personal use of Facebook.  While I’ll readily admit that there are downsides to any new technology, for me, the positives of social networking sites for personal use far outweigh the negatives. So here they are:

~Personalities:  My relatives are people?!  This is probably self-evident. Yet, I (and I think a lot of us) never really thought about my elders as being actual people, with flaws, skills, opinions, triumphs, failures, and stories. Granted, I may have been better off knowing about some of the wacky political leanings of some of my loved ones, but I’m willing to know a little too much in order to know them as people.

~Distance: I can’t have dinner with my sisters, or ride the carousel with my godsons. But I can read about it later, and despite the time difference, I have conversations about what went down via comments and instant messages.

~Shyness:  I was already really shy.  Contrary to many of the anti-networking rants, the Internet didn’t make me a social recluse. I was already the chick who brings a book to weddings and ditches parties thirty minutes into the shindig. Forcing face to face contact tends to make me clam up or put on a show. By removing myself somewhat, I can relax, and ease into social interactions via written comments, messaging, etc.

~Think–>Speak (write). We all say things we don’t mean, but, at least for me, I have much more luck explaining myself, being kind, and expressing myself clearly, when I write things out. I edit them. I think about the sources of my opinions, and the context in which they’re being received by those around me. I’m sure some people really don’t think before they hit “Enter,” but I do. And I think a lot of other people do, too.

~Information changes really quickly these days. How many phone numbers do you remember now, as opposed to ten years ago? The number is probably far smaller. People get new phone numbers, addresses, email address, etc pretty often. Social networking sites let you keep in touch, advertise your new info, and make sure that you don’t accidentally leave people out.

~Photos: I have friends and loved ones who hail from countries where internet access and use isn’t as common as it is in North America. One friend, whose parents are elderly, has lived in North America for almost ten years, now. His parents don’t use the internet, and although he calls them every week, he is still in for a major shock every time he visits. Recently, he started mailing them photos of himself every once in a while, but they can’t send photos back. It makes me appreciate the photographic connection I have with my family and friends via Facebook. I see the little moments in their lives, as well as the big ones. In addition, since posting photos to Facebook has become so prevalent, my family members actually take a lot more photos! Their kids will have a better record of their childhoods, too.

~Planning: It’s not easy to sync up schedules with my big family. When I come to visit, it’s rarely for more than a week or so. Thinking of things to do, letting everyone know the whens and wheres — we use social networking sites to facilitate a LOT of this planning. Consequently, when I am in town, I actually get more face time with them than I would if this were not the case!

~Potential new friends.  It’s a pretty common story.  You meet someone new, and you think you might want to be friends.  But either: a) the contact is never made.  Maybe you didn’t get their email/phone, or you forgot for a while and then feel like it’s too late. Or, b) you succeed in making the effort (or responding to their efforts), and then realize that this person is probably not someone you want to spend a whole lotta time with.   As for me, A happens more often than B, but they’re still both pretty common.  Facebook lets me to keep up with a potential friend, to feel out whether or not we might have a connection (or a real disconnect!).  Then I can proceed at a more natural pace.  I can include them in general invites, ask them out for an activity in which we seem to share an interest, etc.

~Branch out with old friends:  I’ve been a denizen of the ‘Net for years.  Some of my closest friendships started online (some people, I’ve never even met face to face!).  However, when I started making friends online, it was because we were in the same Yahoo! Group.  Thus, our friendship was pretty much predicated on our common interest in a given topic.  Facebook has really allowed me to flesh out my friendships, and find a connection beyond our specific shared interest.

~Birthdays: Last but not least, BIRTHDAYS! I have trouble remembering my partner’s birthday, let alone those of my friends, cousins, aunts, etc. Posting a birthday wish on someone’s account is free, it’s easy, and –yep — it’s still genuine. When it’s my birthday, and my wall is filled with well wishes, I really appreciate the warm fuzzies I get. Sure, even without the help of Facebook, I know that these people care about me. That little ping on my wall sure feels great, though.

* (Is using Facebook to hate one Facebook ironic?  Or is it just self-defeating, like using Freud to discredit Freud?).

Tired of my AD/HD

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On days like today, I am just tired of having ADHD. I’m tired of not being able to be an adult, in so many of the ways that matter. I’m tired of having chronic symptoms that DO have a name (see, labels aren’t all bad all the time!), but have a name which I can’t repeat along the marble halls of the ivy towers (really, they’re just cement halls-and there is a sorrowful lack of ivy here). I am tired of hearing people around me claim to sympathize, saying “I was late on a paper once,” or “Yeah, I get bored easily too!” I am tired of being a cautionary tale. I am tired of being scared to check my email. I am tired of preparing for months and then having to write a paper from memory because I don’t know what I did with all that preparation or where the time went. I am tired of professors being confused (or worse, wary) that I didn’t seem to understand the requirements for the course.

I am tired if not realizing that a situation is bad until it is Way. Too. Bad.

I am tired of knowing that if I do eventually get my PhD, I will be an exception and not the norm. I am tired of knowing that it is possible, but not probable, for me to achieve my goal.

Luckily, though, even if I fail at this goal, I’ll probably have a new goal in a year or two. I’ll probably have a lurking sense of sadness and confusion, but I probably won’t remember the specifics. Oh well, no big deal. I just can’t help myself. I mean, I have ADHD.

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Stuff You Missed in History Class

 After years of loving the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class, I finally wrote the hosts an email.  The email was not at all what I thought it would be about, either!  I thought I’d write  them to volunteer with language and pronunciation, or to beg them to do a podcast on the history of Burana.  Instead, I just ended up writing them a request for a podcast about prehistoric creatures!

The hardest part of writing to the hosts?  Unexpectedly, it was just finding the email address!  I’m not sure why it’s not available online, but I just re-listened to an old episode, and got the prize.

In case you wanted to know, the email address is historypodcast [at] discovery [dot] com.

They’ve also got Facebook and Twitter links, which are pretty active!

Culture, Food, and Love

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This is a note I wrote to my partner months ago, but never sent.  I wonder how it applies to other couples where family backgrounds and cultural traditions are so different.

 

I know you’re not used to fanfare with meals, to the pride in preparing and serving delicious food.  Perhaps this is not a part of your culture, or maybe because you are an only child?  However, I am used to that, and it is something I really value about my culture.  I love my memories of the intricate dishes–rolling the gnocchi, stuffing the enchiladas, mincing the jalapenos, divvying up the pasta sauce so as to put the whole garlic cloves on the plates of those who love them.  I am proud to prepare meals for you, and I am proud to serve them.  In return I expect that you will welcome the food, appreciate its appearance, smell, etc, savor the flavors, and critique the dishes.  This shows energy and respect for the effort and the pride put into the preparation and serving.

Do All Dogs Go To Heaven? El Día de San Francisco de Asís.

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¡Benditos sean los animales en la día de nuestro San Francisco!

Happy Feast Day to Saint Francis!

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For the record, I vote yes!  All dogs go to heaven.  Or, at least they can.  I haven’t come down on any one side with regard to the finer points of animals entering heaven, but I’m pretty sure Saint Francis would agree with me. Certainly, any animal is as able as the next being to make it into heaven.

I know Saint Francis, Patron of Animals is one of the best-loved saints for a lot of people as children, and I really appreciate his role.  In a way, Saint Francis seems to bridge the gap between the differing realities of childhood and adulthood.  From childhood to adulthood, we transition from a world where animals, nature, and the world in general, is far more sentient, to a world where it may cease to be so.  

When did a beloved pet, or a stuffed animal, or a special spot on the playground become just an animal, a toy, or a patch of scraggly trees?  Was it when the humans around us became more fully “alive” to us?  When we started paying more attention to the feelings and behaviors of others?  When the words and actions of others began impacting us much more intensely?  Did people just begin to take up all the imagination-space on some ant-like march toward reproduction?  Was there ever a time when the non-human world around us was as fully alive as it was in childhood, while the human world around us was as fully alive as it is in adulthood?  

I realize that Saint Francis probably didn’t ponder over these bittersweet questions, but in some ways, his life seems to have given us a hint.  He calmed a wolf and integrated it into a village (though I expect the villagers and the wolf probably always had a bit of tension in their relationship!).  He preached openly to birds.  He kept his connections with the human and the non-human worlds alive.  He accepted that the worlds existed as one, and he encouraged the humans (and probably the animals, too!) to allow the worlds of human and non-human to intermingle and to find peace.  

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St. Francis With Animals

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Legend of St. Francis of Assisi and the Wolf

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St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds

 

We are more the inheritors of Saint Francis’ kind spirit than we perhaps realize.  For most of us, to varying degrees, the live and tangible connections we feel with the non-human world, especially animals, aren’t acceptable in public, or even among acquaintances.  But, I think many of us never lose those connections.  We still coo to our dogs, check in with our betta fish, plead with our computers, and make the passing comment to our plants.  Many of us (I believe, or rather, I hope) say a prayer for the departed souls of roadkill, catch spiders to put them outside, and just generally hope that creepy-crawlies would stay out of sight, so we wouldn’t feel the need to crush them.  The connections are there, even if with varying degrees of social acceptability.  

In many spiritual traditions, the connection between humans and animals has a champion.  Hinduism, for instance, has Ayyappa, an incarnation of Shiva and god of forests and wild animals.  The Olympian pantheon held Artemis as the protectress of wild animals.  In the Catholic tradition, we are blessed to have Saint Francis of Assisi.  He reminds us that there is space, in our hearts, our imaginations, and our actions, for the worlds of humans and animals to both be endowed with sentience and spirit.  

So… ¡Gracias tan mucho, tan mucho, a nuestro san Francisco de Asís!  I can tell my godchildren with confidence, if Saint Francis has any say in it, all dogs can go to heaven!  But, I must also tell my godchildren that we’re not there, yet!  Right now, we’re all alive–human and non-human–together, on this earth.  So let’s love each other, maintain our connections to each other, and strive for peace on our path to heaven together.

And, blessings to my three lovely pets on today, the Feast Day of Saint Francis:

Outsourced (betta fish), Boniez (betta fish) – R.I.P., and Bhombolina (greyhound).

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Ha pasado demasiado tiempo!

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It’s been too long!

Almost six months!  Well, I’m going to try to keep posting, inconsistently though it may be.  The only things taking up my plate right now are work, school, greyhound, bff, and an improv class at Second City!

The improv class is going well.  It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve made some really friendly acquaintances.  I’m going to try to take the class again next quarter, and then go from there.

Improv is a pretty freeing experience, and I guess it’s certified!  Second City even offers an “Improv for Anxiety” class, which I know a LOT of people might benefit from.  Also, it’s really nice to be able to have a place where I kind of feel like I’m a “part” of something.  My sister and I go to quite a few of the shows (the half-price tix don’t hurt!), and even though I don’t know the people on stage, I kind of feel like I know them.

Plus, Second City just has some awesome, awesome, awesome sketch comedy!  Look it up! 🙂

Faster than a Speeding Grocery Cart!

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After a yucky bronchial-spasmy asthma incident (ugh – it’s just that boxing is really fun and feels so good, it’s hard to stop!), I’m stuck with a sore throat.  Boo.  But, on the upside, that led me to do a search for throat soothing foods, which led me to a link on the website Livestrong.  That, in turn, led me to another article, called “The 20 Best Foods in Your Grocery Store,” by Susy Sedano.  

Granted, it wasn’t the link I originally started out looking for (yep, easily distracted, riiiigh here!), but it’s a really handy list!  Plus, how awesome is the picture of the zooming grocery cart?!  Makes me want to jump on back, kick a leg out behind me, and ride the cart all over the parking lot!

The 20 Best Foods in Your Grocery Store*:

  • Almonds
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Berries
  • Bell Peppers
  • Black Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Butternut Squash
  • Chicken Breast
  • Edamame
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseed
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Salmon
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Yogurt

 

*Thanks to some dude named Tim Hoefer for cutting and pasting the list of foods from deep inside the article, right onto the front page!