People are strange.

I find people strange. Especially a lot of the people I know: maybe it’s the inbreeding or something, but it seems that we have a lot of non-confrontational people going around. What I mean is people that don’t merely avoid confrontation whenever possible — which is a good thing, yes? — but avoid it and seem to be afraid of it to the point where the confrontation that actually occurs seems more of a diversionary tactic than anything else.

I give you an example. Image you are in charge of workers at a machine shop. I happen to work in a machine shop, but this isn’t necessarily an example culled from my everyday shop life. Just imagine you’re in charge. Now, there’s this guy running one or two of the machines, and during the run times of his machines, he’s doing a crossword puzzle or something like that, something that doesn’t explicitly involve work. There’s also this unspoken expectation that while machines are running, people should be looking for other things to do (cleaning up, organizing, that sort of thing), but the expectation is unspoken, just merely hinted at.

What do you do? You want the guy to do something other than the crossword puzzle: what’s the quickest way to get him to stop, to do what you consider to be his job? Well, of course, say something. To do anything else implies that you’re afraid, for whatever reason. Or maybe you just want people to like you. Or maybe you’ve grown up hating confrontation because of the overagressive tendencies of your father or mother. Who knows.

All I know is, you can’t always be friends with everyone, especially when those people are under you in an authority structure such as work. A marriage is different of course, on so many levels that this doesn’t really apply. But at work, or even at church, you can’t get anywhere without turning a few wheels. You can’t make a garden without pulling a few weeds: just watch out that you’re really pulling weeds before you do it.

This will, of course, bruise a few egos and get a few tongues wagging. But at least at the end of the day, if you did things right, no one’s going to be right when they accuse you of bludgeoning and browbeating.

But that’s the rub, isn’t it? Leaders aren’t perfect. In fact, the mistakes that you own up to probably make you a better one for all the trouble. No one’s infallible (except God of course). That’s why people who think that they’re God’s ordained mouthpieces on earth, whether they admit it tacitly or not, come to be disliked. That’s hubris. Humility, on the other hand. That’s a great thing to have.

If I could say one more thing that I’ve observed. Don’t be defensive. Listen. If someone points out what they see as a fault, no matter how they come across, listen. Listen, and if need be, correct. And listen to yourself. In the words of an old song, My life is a radio; what songs does it know? Indeed.

Roll out the white carpet for the guests, nitwit.

Okay, I’d just like to make a note to all of you people looking to renovate your house (mostly to those over sixty who’re looking to renovate their houses) that white carpet is a really great thing for any room where you’re entertaining guests. In fact, while you’re at it, you might as well tell them how proud you are of your white carpet; then serve them coffee. Watch as hilarity ensues.

Also, you are a chowderhead.

Answer me this question, this moral question.

On Slashdot.org, the greatest news source ever after maybe The Holy Observer (both are at your right, if you want to have a peek), there’s a discussion of onion routing and practical internet anonymity, and whether or not it’s a good thing.

Here’s a pretty balanced summary: if no one knows for practical intents and purposes what people are doing on the internet (much like trying to track a convo between two mages in a +50 area of some MUD), how can we prevent child pr0n, P2P file stealing, and terrorist communications? We can’t, at least not in a way that would make any sort of criminalist sense.

However, since the internet is now an open standard, it’s pretty easy to track people by their IP numbers. Tracking cookies do this all the time, and it’s in the interests of some websites to track the metrics of who is visiting and where they’re coming from. Do you have a right to privacy on the internet? If you want privacy on the internet, is it right to merely establish your own private means of surfing? Is privacy guarunteed anywhere, period?

I mean, child pr0n is going to exist in some form no matter what you do. If it’s not by HTTP, it’ll be on IRC. If it’s not there it’ll be on newsgroups. If not there, private webrings will pass around photos and such via encrypted, anonymous email. If not there, on street corners with hardcopy. If people really want to do something, they’re going to find a way to do it, no matter how hard law enforcement tries to do it.

I wouldn’t mind an audience response — and if they’re good, I’ll post them on the main page sometime soon — to these questions:

1. Is privacy an invoilable right?

2. Is privacy on the internet a right?

3. Just because something can be used by evil forces, does that mean it’s wrong?

4. Do you care if people know where you’re surfing?

Answer any or all of these questions by clicking “Comments” below. Remember, sign some sort of name, if you prefer to remain anonymous 😉

Today in the working world…

This morning I came into work all ducky, only a few minutes late. I expected to find everything much the same as when I had left: generally messy, crowded, and complete with a metal bench I use to hold tools.

Little did I know as I opened the door to the shop that I would find things still generally mess, crowded, but with one exception. My table was gone, replaced with two saw horses and a piece of plywood, none of which fit into the space it was sitting in.

I nearly threw a hissy fit, that much I will admit; however, I didn’t, I merely took the sawhorses and plywood and put them back where they came from. So whose brilliant idea was this, you might ask? I don’t know. Where did the table go? To the guy in the back who makes things round, so he could measure what he was doing and not have to walk ten feet to the granite block. And as good as a motive as that was, I’d prefer to have a little advanced warning, and that these things be done in front of my eyes, instead of on a day I have taken off.

That’s it. I’m never taking another vacation day. Never. Hah, I bet that was the plan.

There’s nothing to see here… go away…

Christmas is an interesting season, and it seems the whole culture decides to take a left turn and be connected to our roots during it: an oddity in out change-obsessed times. We’re not much for tradition, and then comes Christmas. Suddenly we get out a tree, exchange gifts, put up lights, and act like absurd fantasies such as Santa Claus actually have some relevance.

And we take our children to see the Nutcracker.

Oddly, my boss felt compelled to give everyone at work tickets to see it (though really, only those with vested interests like children or girlfriends went to see it: the “tough men” types stayed home and watched movies with a lot of senseless explosions while drinking watered-down domestic beer). So we did. I took Mary. Everyone took someone, even Matt. Even Matt. Let me repeat: even Matt.

Some thoughts on the Nutcracker. First, I wonder what the target audience was when it was first written and performed. Was it children back then as well? Or did it evolve into that over time as people gradually became aware of how absurd it could be made, and how laughable? Second, I really fail to enjoy the art form in anything more than a completely eye-candy sense: the dancing is beautiful, but superficial. Tryin to tell an actual story or make an actual point with ballet is like sending smoke signals with a lace hanky. It may look pretty, but it’s especially ineffective. Maybe the art is just lost on me, and once upon a time there was a mass of uppercrust people who could instinctively interpret dance; if that was ever the case, it’s long gone.

On another note, I would like very much to see a post-rock/ballet integration of some sort, where the pure physicallity of something like Godspeed You Black Emperor! or the like could be melded with the art form of ballet. I know this has already been tried at least once (with Radiohead and Sigur Ros, resulting in the album Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do or some such Sigur Ros-ish nonsense), but I mean an actual ballet with an actual connection between the dancing and the music, and an actual score that’s been written out earlier, so the ballet is reproducible.

After the ballet, me and Mary hung out in Toronto — where the Starbucks all close at 10pm, I might add, and on a Friday night; is that not insane? — considering we had somewhere close to five hours to kill: but I’ll explain that later.

We walked around TO for a while, and finally came to the building that the Marche restaurant is in — a joint I really want to eat at some time — which is, I think, a bank building of some sort. Whatever it was, it was brilliant: basically an enclosed street with the original facade of some of the shorter and older building facing the inside of the walkway. We sat down on some beautiful leather sofas and read the Globe and Mail, and talked about future plans and life directions and the like.

I officially want to live in Toronto.

We picked Mary’s parents up at the airport at around 2:30am (the reason we had time to kill in Toronto) as they stepped off the plane, fresh from a warm and somewhat rainy vacation to the Dominican Republic. And no, they didn’t get malaria. Thanks for asking. I eventually fell asleep on her lap in the terminal. I think people were looking at me strangely, but I didn’t mind: I was, after all, asleep. And I’ll sleep anywhere I want to in a terminal, thank you. Except on the baggage handling thingy. I won’t sleep on there.

But fear not, the weekend is not done yet. I shall add to this later.

Since the above sentence, some twelve hours have passed. I’m still at work — I’m just not doing any work, and also not getting paid. It would be nice if I could not do any work and still get payed for it, but that dream still doesn’t look much like it’s materializing for me.

So I took Mary home, and her parents drove the car. I arrived back at around 4 in the morning, but thankfully I’m used to that sort of sleeping schedule, and adjusted with all the aplomb of a chameleon against a kilt.

Saturday was opening of presents and eating of food and shopping of malls and the such and the like, all things that we did. By the way, I hate Christmas time only because of the consumers and because of Santa. Both should be incarcerated.

I got a fish, some books, a belt, a bamboo shoot, and Mary gave me almost the exact replica of the ring I bought for her so very long ago, except that it’s some sort of goldlike material instead of pure solid silver. It’s already scratched up thanks to being at work today. But such is life, and things will gradually accumulate a variety of injuries in the course of the day.

Sunday was good, with church, the old age service, church, going to see Mary’s ailing grandfather, beating Mary at Go (again!), until she finally attempted a gigantic illegal move by taking all my pieces off the board, proving once and for all that I am highly deficient when explaining a game to someone.

Oddly enough, on the Rumour Forum, Adrienne has been indicted for being a poor loser over and over again: girls in general seem to have a reputation for being poor losers. Just let me say that if Mary had no saving graces (which she does), that she’s not a poor loser would be in and of itself enough for me.

Okay, so that was a bit thick, but you get the idea. And if you’re sick of hearing about my girlfriend, maybe you should go somewhere where there are no girls, like Slashdot.org.

In other news, this morning was the coldest morning I have ever had the displeasure to step outside in. I got into the car and began to wonder all sorts of things, like how heated seats are a wonderful inventions, as are the heated mirrors, but one wonders why they don’t have some way of heating a steering wheel: that is, after all where I put my tiny frozen little hands first thing in the morning.

Could I be a feature designer for luxury vehicles? I think so. See, I know this much: people don’t know what they want. You need to show them what they need or want before they need or want it. Maybe no one has ever asked for heated steering wheels on car surveys before, and maybe the person that raised this idea got shot down at the design meeting, but really, it’s something to consider, especially in these days of mass comoditization of the automobile market. Not to mention that having an incentive to buy a certain car over another car, an incentive that doesn’t necessarily involve money, is always a good thing. It’s the details, people. I mean, hydraulics systems and electronics are so commonplace now, one would expect that most cars would have some sort of electronically adjusting seats by now, right? But no; some cars still come with things like no air conditioning and hand-crank windows. These things should have all but disappeared by now.

And I will stop ranting about cars now. I will go to my very cold car and become very cold while trying to drive home without sticking myself to the various surfaces of my vehicle.

Things that make me happy. Also, one thing that doesn’t.

Oh, what an encouraging day. Not for me, for you. You get to be encouraged by reading about what makes me happy: either that, or you get to tell me to bugger off, skip the entire post, and order a pizza.

Things That Make Me Happy

1. My girlfriend. For those of you who don’t have a girlfriend (like for instance if you post a lot on /.), or who are girls yourselves, let me take a minute to explain why it’s wonderful to have a girlfriend. And if you’re a girl, please instead visualise having a man friend. And if you’re of any other persuasion, go watch Will and Grace or something. I will attempt to explain this mystery without using any antique Middle Eastern expressions like “fire of my soul”, “apple of my eye”, or “floppy disk of my appendix”. Except that I can’t quite spell it out, so just take my word for it: it’s really good.

2. Coffee. It wakes me up in the morning. It warms my innards when my innards are something other than warm. It makes my life worth living, except not really.

3. That I am not my own but belong unto my faithful savior, Jesus Christ. I think Mr Stel made me memorize that one. Now I can’t forget it; thank you Mr Stel, Heidelberg Catechism-bearing monster (though I mean that in the best way). In other news, I can still quote Romans 12 to you if you’d like. These are all good things, really.

4. My girlfriend. Though this sounds vaguely familiar, I think I’ll go on another comedic romp through that land of candyfloss and flowers and soul-sucking vampires known as “LOVE”. Or, alternately, I could imagine a bunny with a pancake on its head. So much easier.

5. Paycheques. In fact, I was just musing how if I converted my entire paycheque into pennies, it would fill something enormous, like a babies shoe. If the baby was a midget, or a doll.

6. Christmas. I love the fact that Christ was born. I love the people that took the holy day and turned it into a pagan festival of gluttony and materialism much the same way Greenpeace loves oilwells that have been built on the razed remains of ancestral forests that once housed Bambi.

7. Technology. Can you imagine a day when one toasted bread over an open flame, an open flame that wasn’t, like, connected to the internet?

8. Truth. I love truth. And that’s the truth. Thus, the truth being that I love truth, I must then love the truthfulness of the truth that I love truth. Unless of course I don’t really love truth, in which case the the truth that I love truth is a lie, although that doesn’t guaruntee that I love the lie of loving truth. But I prefer to believe that in truth, I love the truth that I love the truth. That’s like two layers of truth, right there.

9. Cake. Rumor Forum people, run amok. Thank you.

10. Driving. You can tell I belong to my family that way. However, unlike the rest of my family, I spend most of my driving time actually driving, not smashing into trees, buildings, other cars, and the odd cow. Nor do I drive on the wrong side of the road in a snowstorm. I also don’t exceed 60kph going in reverse, Elyssa, aka MY FENDER YOU JUST DROVE INTO MY FENDER!!!

Also, there is one thing I don’t like.

One Thing I Don’t Like

1. Everything else. HA HA HA. I was just kidding. Actually, it’s chocolate.

Tragedy.

Matty Baranovski was beated to death over a pack of cigarettes in Toronto sometime two years ago; this morning on my drive in to work, I was greeted with the news that his half-brother had died in a freak car accident with his father driving. The only problem is that the father is still in the hospital in critcal condition, unaware that another of his sons has died. I don’t know if I’d want to wake up.

In other news, I got a haircut. If that seems a anti-climatic counterpoint to the above story, I would agree it is. I got a haircut, someone’s son died. These things happened in the same night. While I was happily having my hair snipped, a spirit left its body. That’s sobering, but it happens all the time. It’s a wonder humans aren’t more sober. Maybe it’s a greater wonder how strong our powers of ignorance are.

A conversation that deserves to die.

I think this conversation quickly crossed that line between, you know, funny and ridiculous.

Steve: Hey look, it’s Danikin Skywalker.
Me: Hey look, it’s Steve-3P0.
Steve: Hey look, it’s R2-Dan-2
Me: Hey look, it’s Darth Steve.
Steve: Hey look, it’s Jabba the Dan.
Me: Hey look, it’s Han Steve.
Steve: Hey look, it’s Princess Dana.
Me: What’s that little furry creature? It’s a Steve-wok!
Steve: What’s that big furry creature? It’s a Chew-dan-acca.
Me: Oh yeah? Well, it’s Steve-bobba Fett.
Steve: Oh yeah? Well it’s the evil Emperor.
Me: That didn’t even make sense.
Steve: Well, if I had said “It’s the evil Dan-emperor”, that would have been dumb.
Me: You’re smart like a Steve-trooper.
Steve: A Steve-trooper?
Me: You know, like a stormtrooper.
Steve: I know, I got it.
Me: Well now you have to come up with something equally witty.
Steve: Whatever, young Pa-dan-wan.
Me: Hey, it’s Steve Steve Binks!
Steve: It’s Yo-dan!
Me: You’re pretty hot, Princess Steve-adala.
Steve: It’s Obi Wan Dan-obi!
Me: You’re a retard, R2-Steve-2.

And that’s about where it ended, thank goodness.