Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: September, 2008

Non Sequitur

What really constitutes a smart book? Is it something that makes 90% of its readers get headaches and the other 10% praise its sage koans? Or is it an optimized arrangement of words which net its author millions?

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I Hate Phone Calls in the Morning

I’m probably the only person who gets to lab at crazy hours in the morning, but that doesn’t make it okay for companies (most likely on the east coast) to call the lab looking for people who come in at more reasonable hours. Don’t people ever check the address and area code of people they need to contact? (Or maybe I’m the only one who checks to make sure I’m calling during business hours.)

Flaky People Strike Again

You know, if you can only make it to the last ten minutes of a seminar and then ask me to borrow a pen to “take notes” which wouldn’t be of use to you anyway because you’ve already missed all the interesting stuff–I think you’d be better off just missing the entire seminar.

Shouting “Lazy!” Probably Won’t Help Matters

There’s something seriously wrong when Person B does the same amount of work in one hour as Person A does in two days. I mean, the work isn’t physically or intellectually demanding. Even a four-year-old could do this with ease. But I don’t think pointing this out (or even issuing threats) to Person A would do very much good–especially if they don’t possess any sort of work ethic in the first place.

A Note

I should probably mention that I’ve started regularly posting here again, at least until the end of November. So if it appears that I’ve temporarily disappeared, I’m probably over there ruminating about the writing process.

Double Take

In the course of a conversation, someone said in all seriousness, “Since we’re such a diverse group, I just wanted to let you all know that [insert a general announcement].” Normally, this statement would be pretty boring, but this was directed to a group of white girls in their early twenties with the exception of me (listening in).

I desperately wanted to jump up and say, What?!!! You call yourselves diverse? Different colored dresses and hair totally don’t cut it.

(I generally do not call people out on small comments that reveal their insular viewpoints and opinions in the normal flow of things. Of course, how the heck can people expand their viewpoint if no one points out their ignorance? Well, I think it depends on the person pointing it out. If their narrowness is pointed out by a person who is not like them, they will get defensive and possibly blame you for being too sensitive, whiny, and obsessed with political correctness.)

Hobbesian Quotations in My Head

Recently, I’ve heard several young women complain about some creepy old guy following them around (the stalker, apparently, had even been spotted all the way in Montana)–creepy enough that they’ve started to carry mace. Every time, the episode started because the old guy looked harmless and lonely and they thought it would be a kindness to engage in a conversation.

I am naturally a cautious person and find conversation, sometimes even with people I know, to be awkward and tedious. I try to be polite, but I’m not the kind of person who goes out of her way to be chatty.

I know that no one can really do anything about who a stalker fixates on. But I wonder perhaps, in these cases, that these young women could have somehow minimized the chance by practicing a little more caution and not be so open in conversation with strangers.

(Of course, it’s unfair that normal, socially-adjusted people are paid back for their niceness with worry and fear. Kindness to strangers is a good thing. But life can also be brutishly unfair–and I think one should always act with this in mind.)

A Meme

Booking Through Thursday: Autumn Reading

Autumn is starting (here in the US, anyway), and kids are heading back to school–does the changing season change your reading habits? Less time? More? Are you just in the mood for different kinds of books than you were over the summer?

Mood doesn’t really come into it. I definitely have less time to do leisure reading, but that doesn’t mean that I do less reading on a whole. I do quite a bit of reading for school–not because I want to but need to.

Just One of Those Days

In the large scheme of things, today won’t even really register as a blip on the radar. It was supposed to be a normal, routine, somewhat boring day. No huge important experiments planned. No big nail-biting inducing tests. No nerve-wracking meetings. But everything that could have gone wrong–went wrong. The kind of wrong that makes you take notice because the probability of all of it happening on the same day seems kind of mind-boggling.

But I guess I’m trying to look on the bright side. At least all of my bad luck landed today rather than, say, finals week.

It’s a Lonely Craft

There’s a question in the Nanowrimo forums asking, “Do you get embarrassed about your writing?” My answer would be no, but that does not mean that I blab about it to anyone with an ear. In fact, I speak very little about it. I actively avoid the topic if I’m in any academic setting. For example: I’m taking a bioethics class this term. The prof, however, likes to have an interview with all of his students. So one of his questions to me was–when you’re not in lab, what do you like to do for fun? I have an easy, glib answer to this question–it’s truth but with omission. I never say that I do writing (or blogging for that matter) in my spare time. Because to do so would be to paint myself to other people, who think anything outside of academics and rock climbing as frivolous, as someone who is not serious.

Maybe it’s a fault of mine, or just some shallow yearning, but I want people to perceive me as someone who is serious (although not so serious that I’m known as an irascible lunk), who is worthy of attention and consideration. I suppose some would argue that all of this has to be earned, but I don’t want to be dismissed out of hand before I’m heard either. Then again, I’m not so sure I’ll ever feel that people will take me seriously unless I get some sort of personality transplant. In some ways, I’m envious of those who have such confidence that people will pay attention to them even when they come to work on a Tuesday, hung over from some party the previous day.

(I must clarify: I do not mean the sort of attention where people are seeking you out or you’re talking in front of crowds of people. The attention I’m talking about is the mindful sort. So when I decide to say something, people will take note of my words and not forget it because they think it’s fluff-brained idiocy.)

The problem is–I’m a private person, partly out of necessity. Speaking one’s mind is all well and good, but this also alters other people’s opinions of you. Now, you might not really care about what other people think of you, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that what people think of you will influence (perhaps even subconsciously despite efforts of impartiality) how they act towards you. And if these other people include someone higher up on the social food chain who has a huge effect on your future, then being circumspect–even excessively so–might be the best course to take.

I wish I could talk freely about my writing. But I’ve never had the right audience (most people, I’ve found, don’t like to be listeners). It’s either people who don’t care about writing or people who in all probability would think less of me for this hobby. And even if it happens to be other writers–well, other writers like to talk about their own creations and other people’s stuff be damned.