irreality

It’s so surreal to hear someone in the bathroom, look around the corner, and see your three year old son washing his hands all by himself.

It’s not really the physicality of it that astounds me, I mean, the kid can ride a bike better than Lance Armstrong, so it’s not that crazy to think he can rub his hands together under water. It’s more that he knows to do it. Sure, we’ve told him a thousand times to wash his hands after going to the bathroom, but I’ve told him a thousand things a thousand times and he still barely listens to me…not sure why that one stuck.

So today is day 3 in the technology lite lifestyle. Wednesday night I pulled my sim card out of my G1 and put it in some crappy Nokia phone we’ve had around the house for years. I deleted the link to facebook in my browser, and I used Leech Block to block twitter, facebook and Google Reader.

The most noticeable effect was being late to work both Thursday and Friday. Turns out that taking the battery out of the phone that also acted as my alarm clock was not a smart move. So I’ve reinstated the G1. I got rid of the social networking apps on it, and use it only as a phone, calendar, and alarm clock.

Second most noticeable effect is sheer boredom in the bathroom. I won’t go into details there.

I read an article this morning in Relevant Magazine about how Facebook is turning us all into narcissists. I was pretty disappointed with it, as the whole narcissism claim has been around since blogs started getting popular. It talked a good bit about how we preen our images, and go back over our profiles to make sure the image we’re projecting is the one we want projected. The author claimed enough of this and you start believing your own lie. This isn’t my issue at all. Yes, I’ve preened my image, but I’ve never deluded myself into thinking that’s the real me. My issue is that I buy into other peoples’ dolled up lives. When I surround myself constantly with the updates and insights of the perfectly preened people, my own flaws and short comings stick out in my mind more. Even a friend of mine who lost his job and had to move out to the middle of nowhere to live with his mom…I envy his chance at a new beginning, his free time. Yeah, see? It’s bad.

The other reason I’m doing this, as mentioned before, was to try and get rid of this constant inner dialogue where I talk to all of you all the time in my head. If I’m not actively posting a status, I’m thinking of what it could be. I’m even thinking of little fake ones, or what I could say if I was in a situation, one that I’m not in at the time. One sentence from the aforementioned article really stuck out. “It’s a constant reminder to externalize our thoughts.”

Ever since I was a kid I would have this thought process, pretty similar to an interview. As I was doing something, I’d imagine being interviewed by someone about it. “So, what were you trying to say with this?” “Well, I feel that…” blah blah blah. It wasn’t so much a sense that I was important enough to be interviewed, more of a desire to be understood, and I guess the interview format was a good way to explain myself. I used to think it was completely crazy, but a person that I look up to once said he did the exact same thing in his head, so I feel mildly validated.

So coming from the self-interview format, and suddenly being given a tiny text form that says “What’s on your mind?” that I knew would be instantly beamed to 80 or so people, well, that’s a pretty hard thing to avoid. I know what you’re thinking. Am I not doing this right now by writing this post? No. I’m not. You know why? Cause with Facebook I knew it would go straight to those 80 or so people, at least those that have not hidden me. With tonybullard.com, Google Analytics has clued me into the fact that it’s only 30 or so people a month, and 25 or so of those people are just looking for The Metal Vocal Tutorial.

Overall, I must say I’m surprised at how little effect the whole process is having. Let me rephrase that: This process has been a lot less grief stricken than I thought it would be. Granted, I do feel the “externalizing thoughts” portion of my brain calming down, but I DON’T feel like I’m missing out on a whole lot. I still have the same desire to hang out and spend time with my friends. The light interaction provided by Facebook never was able to satiate that. But if I think about it, I do feel content to just be at home with my family this weekend. I don’t feel the overwhelming desire to compete with everyone else on Facebook with fun weekend pictures or something.

That being said, enough of this blogging crap. Time to get outside with my family.

going off the grid

I’m contemplating something that, just in the fact that I deem it worth contemplating, kinda makes me a douche.

I’m shooting from the hip here, kind of a stream of consciousness thing, so forgive me if this gets out of hand. (This implies other posts have some form of organization or plan, which is an outright lie.)

Anyone close to me could tell you that I tend to be discontent. Teresa laments over my desire for “things” all the time. This is partially because I dream out loud, without filter, so I’ll often come out of the blue with “I’ve been thinking about getting [ ].” Even if it’s obviously out of our financial reach. Even if I have no real intention of getting it. I find myself often thinking of things I want. Now, it’s said that those who are thankful for what they have, will not want what they don’t. It’s probably said more eloquently than that. Overall though, I think I’m pretty aware of that I live a pretty nice life. I have all my needs covered easily, and I even manage to balance a few expensive hobbies at the same time. So I don’t quite feel like I take for granted what I have, and thusly want more. But I may be forming a theory.

My mind is always thinking about speaking to you. Yes, you. The internet viewer. Whether it be tonybullard.com, or through status posts on Facebook, I’m constantly thinking about how I can talk to you. When I do things, I think about how I want to tell you about them. When I see things, I want to comment to you about them in some clever way. It’s not twitter narcissism, where I think you WANT to read about what I think about some guy on the train, it’s more like a screaming desire to socialize with people. Crap. I’ve talked about this before. Well, that time I didn’t go so deep into my psychosis of performing for you through text alerts.

I’ve become a little bothered by how much of my mental time is spent putting on a show for people I don’t ever see. So I’ve started to think about going dark for a little while. Yes, that’s right, I’ve done the most pathetic thing in the world, announcing my plans to ‘leave the internet.’

I spend almost my entire day on the internet. I wake up, sometimes check facebook before I shower, then get on the bus, where I listen to podcasts, check facebook and twitter. Then I get in to work and between tasks I’ll check RSS feeds and facebook, again. When I go to the bathroom, part of my routine is pulling out my phone, turning on my wifi and refreshing twitter, so I can read while I…um…sit.

It’s pretty easy to see it’s too much. I spend my whole day seeing other peoples’ idealized presentation of themselves (Is it just me or does it seem like everyone goes on awesome vacations?) and news of new things, and everyone’s link to cool things, etc. Perhaps I’ve been too good at designing all the input in my life. I’ve trimmed it down to all this great stuff, and it’s giving my own life a malaise in comparison.

So, to the point. The thing I’m contemplating. The sentence that will make most of you go, “yeah, so what. Get over yourself.” My plan is to swap out my smart phone with some old candy bar phone around the house, block Facebook in my browser, and generally avoid online interaction for a week. There it is.

I guess I’ll have to start reading books finally.

the internet makes the seemingly impossible, possible

OK, just a little praise for a moment for the internet.

For those of you who know me, I’ve become increasingly more jaded about the US Government as time passes. The election season has only made it worse, and the candidates selected nearly strike complete hopelessness into my very heart. It’s nearly enough for me to just give up and ignore it all. But that’s hard to do when they’re making my money worth less every year.

So what’s a jaded young(ish) American to do? It would seem the executive branch is long since out of my effective range, so maybe I should look locally and start picking out potential presidents now. I mean, can I blame America for picking two awful candidates when the selection was so abysmal to begin within (except for that one guy who predicted this whole financial mess we’re in now 2 years ago)? I suppose not. So maybe I should start making sure the lower guys are worth my tax dollars, so eventually I can actually be proud of more than one presidential nominee. (Wouldn’t that be crazy? Imagine saying, “I don’t know who I want to be the presidential nominee, they’re all so effective!”)

But how does little old me figure out real, unbiased facts about his local government, and how his Representatives and Senators are working in Congress? I could watch the news, but I’d have to wade through hours of “pretty white girl kidnapped” stories only to hear two people not involved in Congress, talking about how one half of Congress is always wrong. That seems really effective.

Newspapers use to be known for carrying information, but now you never know who’s propaganda you’re reading. Which multinational corporation owns this newspaper? I can never keep track.

In comes the internet, bastion of honest, straight forward, succinct information. I’m sure you detect my sarcasm. But while the internet is chock full of idiotic rambling (present party excluded of course) the other thing it’s chock full of is data. And all those geeky developers love to figure out ways to wrangle it all in and dish it up as something usable. In comes three sites that I find nearly essential if you want to really get to knwo what’s going on around you.

First, is votesmart.org . This is a wonderful that compiles all sorts of information about current officials and those running for office. Voting records, biographies, positions on issues, ratings by Special Interest Groups, all sorts of stuff. it’s a really great way to get to know what a candidate stands for quickly and easily, and best of all, it’s uniform across most candidates (obviously, newcomers have less info).

A great companion site is ontheissues.org. It’s very similar to VoteSmart, but one feature it has that is very well executed is their issues list. They separate out key issues like abortion, civil rights, budgeting and economy, and they list out bullet points of actions and statements that paint the picture of where the candidate stands on the issue. I know what you’re thinking, bullet points can be useless without context. That’s why above the bullet points they link to a page of expanded information, giving context to each and every quote or vote, and when it comes to legislation votes, they explain the bill, and point out pro and con arguments about the bill. It’s an incredibly fast and easy way to get an idea of what the candidate has actually done, and it does it fairly, and with a balanced viewpoint.

Finally, a site Teresa pointed me to today, govtrack.us. This one steps away from potential candidate territory and focuses on who’s in office, and what they’re doing. The best part about it is that you can setup daily emails to let you know everything that will happen in Congress that day, everything that has happened, etc. It’s essentially taking the thousands of bills introduced each session and making it manageable for someone who doesn’t get paid to know this stuff.

So this post is a lot longer than I wanted, but I hear way to often groups telling people to “get informed” but never telling people how. I can only hope that others may stumble across this info and finally be able to manage a normal daily life while still feeling like they know what their tax dollars are going towards.

EDIT: This is what happens when I get too excited and post too early. I just noticed on govtrack.us that for each bill that’s posted, they include the cost to individuals. So you look up the act and it says “Cost: $3 per American over the 2009-2013 period.” That’s just plain awesome.

alonely

my computer is a pretty nice computer. it’s no super computer, but over the few years i’ve had it, i have installed new hardware and RAM and whatnot, and made it into a pretty powerful computing machine. it can calculate millions of lines of code in seconds, it can take numbers and letters and turn them into spectacular 3 dimensional worlds…but without the internet…it feels kinda like an empty pad of paper. so much potential, but so little content. it holds my entire CD collection in the controversial mp3 form, and it has on it several of the latest video games, not to mention the older ones just begging to be re-installed and played again. but other than playing video games and typing up whiney web page posts (which will have to be posted at a later date) it just feels kinda…shallow. i’m far too used to sitting in front of my computer and having the world at my fingertips, but without the internet, my computer feels about as deep as my monitor. no connection to outside worlds, no plethora of information…just a desktop of a cool photo, and a few folders that link to games.

there’s that, and the fact that not getting cable until the 7th means i’m going to miss two episodes in a row of nip/tuck. life just isn’t fair. even the starving kids in china agree.