Sunday, June 27, 2004

Five Small Essays on Random Subjects

There's a site out there called Blog Ideas. It's sort of an artificial muse. You go to the site and it gives you subject ideas for blog postings. Many of the ideas of fairly banal, such as "How long have you been bloggin'?". Never the less, I thought that it might be an interesting thing to take five random suggestions to see what I could do with them. So, without further preamble, here I go.

Alcohol: My Thoughts

My view on alcohol is pretty much the same view I have with regards to any other intoxicant. If you find yourself in a position where your consumption of it poses harm to others, you are irresponsible. If you find yourself in a position where you can't moderate your own consumption, you have a problem and should seek help. If you find that you use it as a means to escape from reality, you need to find something better. If your consumption is purely a matter of personal enjoyment, then it is not my place to tell you otherwise.

As for myself, I will drink on occasion, but only rarely. This isn't because I have any high scruples that I am trying to live up to. The simple fact is that, most of the time, it simply doesn't appeal to me. Honestly, I don't much like the taste of alcohol, itself. When I do drink, I tend to select wines, beers, and liquors that have a very mild dryness. I also don't much enjoy the sensation of being drunk, so a lot of the recreational aspects of alcohol are lost on me. This isn't to say that I'm never in the mood but it is not a typical thing.

I want to be clear that I am not much of a Puritan. If it were legal, my drug of choice would be marijuana (a drug that I have more than merely indulged in the past). I'll make no attempt to disguise the fact that I enjoy the sensation of being high. I find there to be a qualitative difference between getting a little high and getting a little drunk and that I much prefer the former to the latter. Given this, I am hardly in a position where I could even conceive of criticizing someone who enjoys a few beers, now and again, even if I were so inclined. Be that as it may, I'll usually settle for a soda.

Vanity Searches on Google: Does My Site Come Up?

As topics go, this strikes me as a rather flimsy foundation. The answer is either yes or no. As it happens, it's yes. Google, as usual, is all-seeing. I half-expect it to achieve sentience within my lifetime.

I suppose that I could talk about the phenomenon of vanity searches in general. Like most people who've had any amount of interaction with the internet, I do like to do the occasional search on my name. Since the advent of Google, it's very hard to resist the temptation.

Most of my searches return a signature file that I used to use. Here it is:

"Christian Fundamentalism: The doctrine that there is an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life"

I came up with this quote back in the days when I was very active on alt.atheism. I'm happy to say that a lot of people seemed to like it. For awhile, I even had a signature FAQ up to address the emails that I got that were addressed to it.

These days, it seems just a little too glib. A little too… confrontational, I suppose. I think that the point of the quote – that fundamentalists too often seem to imply that their god has a rather petty sort of focus – is a fair point but saying it this way seems to deny the very real sense of meaning that their beliefs are invested with. Ultimately, it seems to be the sort of thing that a clever young punk might say to provoke someone. In that, at least, it is an accurate reflection of the person who wrote it.

Excepting my little would-be contributions to Barlett's, there's a random scattering of preserved posts to sci.nanotech, alt.atheism, and, a collection of letters to the editor of Science Fiction Weekly, some professional posts to various SQL Server forums, a critique of a Weird Al Yankovich album, a Darwin Awards submission (that actually made it, in edited form, into the second published compendium of Darwin Awards), several references to other people named Andrew Lias, and various errata.

It is odd to suppose that, once I pass away, this sort of thing may well be all of the public record that survives me, assuming, of course, that these continue to be archived. I don't plan on having children and the memories of friends and family can only endure until the ends of their own lives. I fully realize that one of the reasons that I'm keeping this blog is precisely because I want to add something to my legacy but, in the end, I don't expect that many historians are going to be culling my small observations out of the mass of records that will be preserved on the internet. History, ultimately, will swallow my life just as it does to most people. It offends our dignity to think in these terms but it is hard to deny the truth of it.

Perhaps my impudent little sig file will, after all, be my legacy.

How Big is My Bed: Big Enough?

If I were to list the five great pleasures in life, they would be reading, eating, thinking, sleeping and sex. The nice thing about beds is that all five activities can be enjoyed without having the leave the comfort of the sheets. When I think about the things I particularly dislike, such as having to go to work, getting haircuts, paying bills, and taking the dog out, perhaps it is not a coincidence that all of these things require me to, first of all, get out of bed.

My current bed is a queen sized bed which is reasonably large. I am sharing it with my girlfriend and our dog. Although I am happy to have their company, I will admit that I do begrudge the space that I have to sacrifice. When I sleep, I like to sprawl. I like the freedom to twist and turn. I like being able to grab up all of the sheets when I'm cold and the latitude to toss them all off when I'm hot.

When you share a bed with someone, you have to make adjustments. It is not so much that my queen sized bed is too small, it is that there is no bed quite large enough for me unless I'm alone in it. Such are the compromises we make.

TV Shows I Never Miss

As much as I'd like to claim to not watch TV, I am just as prone to its distractive maw as anyone. I hate it, though. I hate realizing that I've just wasted two or three hours of irretrievable time watching something banal. I hate the fact that I can be enthralled by flickering lights and the gaudy sounds that come out of that damned box.

I tend to read when I'm watching it. I read during the commercials. I read when I'm watching reruns. I'll sometimes read even when I'm watching something that I haven't seen before. It's not much of a show of defiance so much as a perfectly effective way to diminish my enjoyment of whatever I'm reading.

We recently got a 50" projection TV. It's overwhelming. It is not at all an exaggeration to say that it absolutely dominates the living room. It's a great thing to have when we're using it to watch DVDs but it's hard not to feel self-conscious when you have a two foot high Spongebob Squarepants cavorting in front of you. It's even worse when you find yourself watching something like American Idol, especially when you realize that your sense of ironic detachment has somehow eroded to the point where you actually care about the results of the damned show.

Do I Want to Have Children?

I am thirty-five years old, now, and my girlfriend is thirty-six. It would not be too late for us to have children but it's impossible to deny that the point of no return is rapidly approaching. I have friends with children and I have friends who have firmly decided not to have children.

We've the matter a great deal of thought and have concluded that children wouldn't be right for us. I think that this was an easier choice for her than it is for me given that she really seems to have a profound sense of distaste for the entire notion. My own stance is a bit more conflicted.

Children are a great responsibility and, honestly, I don't think that I have the temperament to be a good parent. I didn't have a great role model in my own father and, although I don't think that I'm as bad as he is, I realize that I do have a temper. When I am thinking or when I am reading, I don't like to suffer distraction and, if there is one thing that I do know about parenthood, it is that it is one long period of nothing else but distraction.

Be that as it may, there is one thing that I do regret. I have learned a lot of things in my life (and, hopefully, am continuing to do so). I have accrued a certain stock of knowledge and "wisdom", for lack of a better word. It would be a marvelous thing to have someone that I could, at least, try to pass some of that along to. It would be even better if I could pass that to someone who could take that store of information and use it as a foundation whereby they could exceed my own.

It is a thought that makes me wistful. I try to bear in mind that children are not clones of their parents. They develop their own interests and ideas. There is no guarantee that any children of my own would have the least interest in the things that capture my own imagination. Given Finagle's Law, which states that the universe tends towards maximum perversity, I would probably have a child that would be extremely interested in sports and cars, so it is, perhaps, for the best.


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