I’m so much cooler online

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Do you ever feel like you are a different person online to who you are in real life? Do you feel that there are things you would share online that you wouldn’t share to a live person? Maybe you feel more cautious online then you are in real life.

Every once in a while I will have an experience that brings me back to this thought, and it goes something like this: I am texting, or writing a Facebook message, to someone and I have the thought that “If this were a face-to-face conversation, it probably wouldn’t sound the same at all”. It’s not that the things we are saying to each other are things we wouldn’t say in person, it’s more complicated than that.

To avoid going too vague with this, I will describe what it’s like for me. In my case, when I’m writing an email, text or other form of online communication, I tend to resort to humour much more than I would in real life. I say things in text that I probably wouldn’t say in life. But again, here’s the complication: These are things that I would say in real life, however in real life I am not always on the ball enough to get the witty quip out in time. Communicating by keyboard allows the extra time I need to think up a response, and sometimes longer to think up a response that I’m happy with. It allows me to do something that verbal communication seldom allows; editing my thought before it gets sent out. I’ve found myself tapping out a sentence on the keyboard, only to stare at it for a while and eventually delete it and starting again; Sometimes several times. As a side note, the higher the importance of the conversation, the longer I pause and read everything before sending.

When you are in a conversation in person, timing is as important as the words themselves. A long pause between words or thoughts can affect the message you are getting across. Not so with words on a page. There seems to be this strange social grace extended to people who are engaged in any form of online discussion.

A perfect example of this is if some writes you a message, say, on Facebook, and it reminds you of a line from a movie. But at that time, you are busy doing something else, and 10 minutes goes by before you type back the witty line from the movie you were thinking off. The other person LOLs with glee, and you have a warm feeling knowing that they are marveling at your wit and pop culture knowledge. Now imagine if that were a face to face conversation. They say something to you and you say nothing for 10 minutes and then suddenly blurt out a line from a movie. Now you are no longer basking in the warm glow of their adoration, but you are the victim of someone else’s friendly but sarcastic remark about being asleep which, in a cruel irony, is in the form of a movie quote.

Right about now, if the extroverts reading this haven’t dropped off by now, they are certainly not tracking with this. Maybe scratching their heads or yelling at the screen. I find it hard to believe and I personally don’t think they exist, but I’m told there are people who hate typing on a computer and would always rather have face-to-face conversations with people.

I admit, there is a certain amount of logic and sense to that point of view. Reading the body language and facial expressions of someone you are talking to is very important in making sure you are being understood. You don’t have to wonder if they got what you meant to say, because of the non-verbal things you can see.

The truth is, if given the choice, I would much rather text than talk on my iPhone. I think it comes down to point of view. I am generally a positive person, so I see the advantages of communicating face-to-face as well as chatting online. I simply prefer to later.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to read through everything I just wrote to make sure it says exactly what I mean to say.

If you have any comments, don’t tell me in person, send an email. I will send back a properly formatted, well thought out reply, sprinkled with just the right amount of wit and pop culture references. If you’re lucky, you might even get a movie quote.

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I love TV more than movies

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I don’t know when it happened. It wasn’t recently. Maybe 5 years ago; maybe more. I can’t really put a time on it, and yet I know it happened. I’m only coming to the realization of it now.

The realization? I love TV shows more than movies. Wow, that feels good to get out there. It’s been eating at me because in the past I have loved movies so much. I love the movie trailers. I get giddy inside when the room goes dark and the studio logos dance onto the screen. In my head I play a little game I call “Name the studio” where I see how soon I can guess the company from the animation. Panning across water… Spyglass Entertainment! If there’s a water and a lighthouse in the distance… Castlerock Entertainment! If a lure drops into the water instead… Dreamworks! After that comes the opening movie credits which, I might add, are some people’s ONLY contribution to the movie. The movie nerd in me feels compelled to tell you that. There are people out there who all they do is opening and closing movie credits. If you ever go to a movie with me, prepare to sit all the way through the end credits. I feel I have to respect the work that the credit writers do! Not to mention the times when there are extra goodies at the end for the true die-hards.

All of this; the trailers, the credits, the beautiful 2 hour story arc, has suddenly taken a back seat in favour of the small screen. The realization of this was sudden, but I don’t think the actual transition was quick at all. There were many factors that contributed to this.

One of the things that I love seeing on either the big or small screen is how a story develops. Among my favourite types of movies are the ones that follow one character as he struggles to find out who he is and what his place is. The Bourne Series, Spiderman, Spy Game, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, are all examples of this. The problem is, in any movie, you have 2-3 hours to tell the whole story, intro to ending. If there are sequels than maybe 5-6 hours. Compare that with a TV show where there could be 15-20 hours worth of story telling; and that’s per season. With all that time, you can really get engaged in the story that has time to develop. It doesn’t need to suffer from the sit-com “everything solved in 22 minutes” problem.

Of course, this would be a moot point if it weren’t for the second reason I love TV shows: So many TV shows out there are so damn good! Everything from acting talent, to special effects, to overall production value has taken a giant leap forward. Now, more than anytime in TV history, there are so many good options of shows to watch, covering pretty much any genre you can think of. If I think to my own viewing history, the shows that I am and have been hooked on, the list includes Fringe, Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, Sherlock, Homeland… and others.

Netflix has played a big role in this as well. It’s much easier to consume these shows when you don’t need to wait a week for the next episode. You don’t even need to press a button, Netflix waits 20 seconds and then serves up the next episode with you even having to divert your hand from it’s journey from the popcorn bowl to your mouth. If you want to, you can blast through entire seasons of a show in one long Saturday. Or you can hold out a bit longer and, and allow time in between episodes to mull over what happened. I find depending on the show, I watch differently. I can watch 10 episodes of Doctor Who, but I limit myself to 1 or 2 Breaking Bad episodes, due the heavy nature of the content.

Now that it’s out there, I’m interested in what you think. Do you still like movies better? Do you find yourself watching TV shows a lot more? Which ones?

If everyone jumped off a bridge…

Just a short thought for today. I’d like to advance a theory.

I’m guessing that this must be “a thing”, and probably has a complicated scientific name or even someone’s name attached to it. There could even be a white paper somewhere about this. So until I know its origins, I am going to call it “The 100% Test”.

This theorem states that an idea or an action can be discredited or supported by applying it to 100% of the world’s population. I am loathed to use the word “proven” because this doesn’t offer the final say. It is more of a starting point; a springboard for further discussion. For obvious reasons, it’s entirely speculative.

Here’s how it works:

Say my idea is that gun ownership makes me safe. What would happen, then, if everyone on planet earth owned a gun? Suddenly my idea of being safe goes out the window because at best, everyone’s equal, and at worst, chaos ensues. So the idea that gun ownership makes me safe fails the 100% test.

I think the question every mother asked, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you too?” could easily be applied not just to peer pressure, but to this 100% concept. A great judge of whether or not an action is good, is imagining everyone doing it.

Feel free to agree or disagree. But that’s one of my many theories.

What DO you like?

I had just sat down in the chair at the hairdresser’s today, after getting my hair washed, when the stylist asked the inevitable question, “So, how do you want it cut?”. I gave my standard answer: “roughly half as short on top and a number 4 in the back” and she got to work. Also, as usual, I have standard answers to “how do you want your sideburns?” and “do you prefer squared off or rounded in the back?”.  I even had a planned script regarding trimming my beard.

This was not always the case. I used to hate all those questions because I didn’t really know what I wanted. I had no idea how long my hair should be up top, and I had no clue if a number 1 was shorter, or longer, than a number 5. All I knew was it should probably be shorter afterwards than before, and I didn’t want to look like I stepped out of a magazine from 2 decades ago.

Because this stylist today was new, she asked more questions than usual. And I found myself directing her much more than I would normally. She did a good job, but it was as if everything she was doing she was doing for the first time. That may have been not far from the truth.

It got me thinking, once again, about one of the things that I find annoying about human nature; the ability to to articulate what we don’t want, and the inability to articulate what we do want. I see this is so many people, so many many times, and I see it it in me. When asked “So how do you want it cut?”, I would find myself fighting the urge to say “I don’t care, as long as it doesn’t suck”.

This is true in many more areas of my life than I care to admit. I tend to have an easy-going personality, and much of the day-to-day decisions don’t really matter to me. Not that I don’t care about them, or that they are not important; I just tend not to have many strong opinions about them. I’ve learned that I can roll with whatever happens, and I really like the freedom that that offers. I don’t have to micro manage every little thing.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Imagine you are a designer who has been tasked to choose the 5 best designs out of a panel of 10. Would it be easier to pick the 5 to keep, or the 5 to throw out? My guess, is that it would be easier to pick the 5 to toss. We are quicker to notice things we don’t like, than things we do. Another question to ask is do you find it easier to come up with an idea from scratch, or perfect someone else’s idea?

So why is this?

Something that came to mind was that this is linked to the fear of being wrong. We can choose the best 5 out of 10 options by tossing the other 5, but we haven’t really chosen anything, and we can feel absolved of any blame if things don’t work out. Just like my answer about my haircut, we are saying “these are the ones that don’t suck”. It’s interesting to me that this seems like an easier thing to say. It’s a “safe” way to make a decision by not feeling personally involved in the outcome.

I realize I’m painting with a broad brush, but I don’t think I’m too far off the mark to assume that most of us can relate to this.

The title of this post is a simple question that I now have in my head often. It’s a reminder to be proactive and positive about the decisions in my life. The world isn’t going to rise or fall depending on whether or not my sideburns are squared off or not, but it feels good to make a decision for myself every once in a while. And it’s good to learn what it is that I do like.

And when the big decisions come do come around, I’ll have had enough of practice with the small stuff to be confident and proactive there too, and own up to the decisions I make.

My History

I have added a link to my old, archived, blog; my original random blather. It’s the link on the right, and aptly named “My Old Blog”.

I started reading through it, and before I knew it, I had read it from beginning to end. (Or actually from end to beginning).

Feel free to click and browse through yourself, and try not be too annoyed with all the broken links. Among the posts about our new car, camping trips, and vacation pictures, I found a few gems. Posts that I don’t recall writing but do remember the events that inspired the post.

One, in particular, was about a headphone wearing teenager on the Skytrain who dodged a fine for riding without a ticket by stepping into a crowd of people at the next stop. The notable quote from that post was “I wish arrogance was illegal, and you could arrest someone for being a prick.”

But one post I did that deserves a re-post here is when I did a numbers analysis of the long distance relationship Kate and went through from 1997 to 2001.

So once again, for your viewing pleasure is an excerpt from “extreme dating” originally posted July 24, 2006.

These numbers are approximate, as I can’t remember some of the exact numbers. So here we go:

We start in 1997 when Kate was in Canada for a year visiting. I won’t count the time in ’97 we didn’t date… So we were together for 3 months.

90 days together – 0 days apart

Then the next time we saw each other was a year later when I flew down there for 6 weeks.

132 days together – 365 days apart

We discovered that one year apart was too much… so we decided every 6 months one of us would fly over to the other’s country. So after a couple years later, the score looked like this:

153 days together – 665 days apart

Then in the fall of 2000, we we got engaged in New York. (I had bought the ring a year earlier). But our engagement lasted 15 months… spent in separate countries.

174 days together – 1,115 days apart

So in terms of connected time, by the time I was flying down to Australia to marry Kate, we had spent less than half a year together, and more than 3 years apart.

The approximate score now? A much more respectable 1,847 days together and 1,115 days apart. And for those people keeping track, that means that we were married for 2 years before the time apart equaled the time together!

Not that anyone’s counting…

Settling

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This photo above is one of my favourite pictures that I’ve ever taken.

And that thought scares me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the photo itself; it’s exactly what I saw in my head when I saw this scene in Steveston on the 15th of January, 2003.

As someone who often dabbles in photography, and is drawn to the creativity that photography offers, I am bothered by the fact that this photo sits on my hard drive at home, along with many others, as a sort of shrine to the “best of the best” of my work; if indeed I can call my photography “work”. It’s not bothersome that these photos merely exist, because I love to look through them often and find myself showing them off to others who are just getting into photography. I have examples of low depth of field, long exposures, action shots, portraits, landscape panoramas, and the list goes on.

There are two problems with this, in my mind. First of all, there are too many different types of photos in my collection. It reminds me that after all these years I have not found exactly what type of pictures I like to take. Maybe not a problem for some, but it is for me. Like everyone who is interested in photography, I want to get better. And I’m a believer in the fact that you can’t get better unless you focus a certain type of photography. I believe specializing is what turns average photographers in to good ones, and good photographers into pros. Of course, there are the photographers who can do anything; I’m not saying that this is not possible, I’m just saying that it’s rare. I think rare enough that it’s not worth aiming for.

The second problem with my great bank of photos is that I find myself looking at these old photos rather than getting out there taking new ones. I’m not consciously thinking “I’ll never do better than this”, but I can’t deny that my actions speak those words. That’s what scares me when I start to think things like “This is my favourite photo”. There’s a finality in that statement that unnerves me.

When I discovered Instagram, I loved it despite its crappy filters, low resolution photos, and the fact that I had to use my phone to take pictures and not a “real” camera. But what Instagram did for me was re-ignite my love of creative photography. The limitation of the medium was a gold mine for creativity.

On my Instagram bio it says “If asked what my best shot is, I’d always say ‘The next one'”. Maybe I should read that more often.

So from here on I will say that the photo at the top is my favourite photo… so far.