Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"So much fun you want to pee yourself"

Arrr, ye already be knowin' that today be Talk Like a Pirate Day, but did ye be knowin' that Dec. 8 is "Pretend To Be a Time Traveler Day"? Arr. Indeed, 'tis true. For those landlubbers who can't get through their blasted firewall to the site, I be a-reproducin' the rules here:

Guys, it's time for

Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

You must spend the entire day in costume and character. The only rule is that you cannot actually tell anyone that you are a time traveler. Other than that, anything's game.

There are three possible options:

1) Utopian/cliché Future - "If the Future did a documentary of the last fifty years, this is how badly the reenactors would dress." Think Star Trek: TNG or the Time Travelers from Hob. Ever see how the society in Futurama sees the 20th century? Run with it. Your job is to dress with moderately anachronistic clothing and speak in slang from varying decades. Here are some good starters:

- Greet people by referring to things that don't yet exist or haven't existed for a long time. Example: "Have you penetrated the atmosphere lately?" "What spectrum will today's broadcast be in?" and "Your king must be a kindly soul!"

- Show extreme ignorance in operating regular technology. Pay phones should be a complete mystery (try placing the receiver in odd places). Chuckle knowingly at cell phones.

2) Dystopian Future - This one offers a little more flexibility. It can be any kind of future from Terminator to Freejack. The important thing to remember is dress like a crazy person with armor. Black spray painted football pads, high tech visors, torn up trenchcoats and maybe even some dirt here or there. Remember, dystopian future travelers are very startled that they've gone back in time. Some starters:

- If you go the "prisoner who's escaped the future" try shaving your head and putting a barcode on the back of your neck. Then stagger around and stare at the sky, as if you've never seen it before.

- Walk up to random people and say "WHAT YEAR IS THIS?" and when they tell you, get quiet and then say "Then there's still time!" and run off.

- Stand in front of a statue (any statue, really), fall to your knees, and yell "NOOOOOOOOO"

- Stare at newspaper headlines and look astonished.

- Take some trinket with you (it can be anything really), hand it to some stranger, along with a phone number and say "In thirty years dial this number. You'll know what to do after that." Then slip away.

2) The Past - This one is more for beginners. Basically dress in period clothing (preferably Victorian era) and stagger around amazed at everything. Since the culture's set in place already, you have more of a template to work off of. Some pointers:

- Airplanes are terrifying. Also, carry on conversations with televisions for a while.

- Discover and become obsessed with one trivial aspect of technology, like automatic grocery doors. Stay there for hours playing with it.

- Be generally terrified of people who are dressed immodestly compared to your era. Tattoos and shorts on women are especially scary.

And that's it. Remember, the only real rule is staying in character and try to fit in. Never directly admit you're a time traveler, and make really, really bad attempts at keeping a low profile. Naturally, the dystopian future has a little more leeway. And for the record, I've already tried out all of these in real life, in costume. It is so much fun you want to pee yourself.

I've set the tentative date for December 8th. Who's in?
I be notin' for the record that none o' the above is anythin' I came up with. I be raisin' a glass o' grog to the brilliant mind who made it, though! And remember, ye be talkin' like a pirate or I'll keelhaul the lot of ye! ARRR!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ah, the semi-tortured life of an introvert

I am the first to admit that I am not a social adept. I have to make an effort to maintain small talk, I rarely feel completely comfortable in my interactions with the outside world and I would absolutely die if I couldn't find someone at a party with whom to have a quiet, serious conversation. In other words, I'm an introvert.

For years, I thought I was just shy, emotionally repressed, etc. Both my sisters are extroverts and have (or had) lots of friends. I, on the other hand, have few friends, none of which I am particularly close to. Part of this is my own fault, of course: I never made much effort while in college to get out of the dorm/apartment and go make friends. On the other hand, I always stayed in because societal interaction was so draining. It's not so bad now - for instance, I can make small talk at work or with people I meet in the grocery store - but I still find myself more comforted by books than by the company of actual human beings.

Of course, this isn't entirely my fault. I consider someone a close friend when we can ride in the car or sit in the same room together for long periods of time with no conversation and no anxiety that there's no conversation. In short, I like long, comfortable silences in my relationships, punctuated by equally long, deep conversations.

What brought all this up? This article in The Atlantic: "Caring for Your Introvert". It's a spot-on analysis of how introverts differ from extroverts and why extroverts shouldn't try to change them. There's too much good stuff to exceprt, so I'll simply let you read it for yourselves. Don't worry, it's short. Meaty, but short.

The gist of it is that while extroverts feed off the company of others, introverts actually need time to recover after being in social situations. Extroverts, frankly, can't really understand that, so introverts are often labelled with "narrow" adjectives like "private," "reserved" and "loner."

What I've found (and what the article states) is that introverts like myself (and the author) aren't anti-social. We really do like people. We just don't like to be around them as much as extroverts. We even prefer silence or, if there must be background noise, thoughtful background noise (hence my many complaints about my former roommate's incessant TV watching).

It's not that we don't like conversation, either: as you can see from this Web site, I enjoy discussing many differents subjects at length and in depth, and I thrive on intellectual conversation and debate. Ask me to just gab about the weather, though, and I come up short more often than not. The one exception, I've found, is that I can make small talk when I'm either a) nervous or b) coming up from general anesthesia, although the latter is usually tempered by my tendency to fall asleep mid-sentence.

Besides, by now I'm in the mood for a silence.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

She returns! Oh, hooray!

Life: This morning on the news, I saw a report that nine percent of children have ADHD and that have of them are unmedicated. Being an insider on this sort of thing, my first thought was "How many kids are out there undiagnosed and suffering? How many kids are out there thinking they're worthless because they can't perform as well as their peers?" Then a worse thought occured to me: "How many kids are out there who are diagnosed with ADHD, but who still think they're worthless because they're told that if they just worked harder, they'd be like everybody else?"

It's a tricky problem because, as I know from hard experience, hard work is needed. Lots of it, in fact. It can be pretty exhausting. But hard work without guidance (and, when necessary, medication - I was a Ritalin kid myself) isn't going to get very far. The hard work techniques that work with normal children don't usually work with ADHD children. How I explained it this morning is that it's like trying to drive a standard transmission when everyone around you has an automatic. You know there's this third pedal, but you don't know what it's for and you have to get down the road by trial and error. If no one takes the time to at least help you get started, you're not going to go very far.

Television: Rules for the "Everyday Cooking" drinking game:

1) Every time they add salt and pepper to a dish, take a drink.

2) If you wouldn't normally put salt and pepper in said dish, take two drinks.

2a) Three if it's a dessert (they salt-and-peppered hot cocoa once. True story).


If Ally's shirt shows more neckline than necessary, take a drink.

4) If Sarah sounds especially nervous, take a drink.

4a) If they all sound nervous, take two drinks. Toast Martha Stewart on at least one of them.

5)If someone comments on how they all lost weight between season one and season two, take a drink.

5a) If someone comments on how skinny John looks, take a drink and make yourself a sammich in sympathy.

6) Take a drink if a "quick and easy" recipe involves any of the following: a) shellfish b) lamb c) obscure vegetables d) something homemade that would be just as good ready-made, frozen or made from a mix e) more than one non-microwaveable component f) puree of anything.

6a) If they over-complicate a normally simple dish, take two drinks from the back of the glass.

6b) If they emphasize how easy the dish in 6 or 6a is, finish your drink and go make a grilled cheese sandwich. You're done.

Work: I am loving my internship, although I wish they'd set me up at a permanent desk. I had one for a couple weeks until our new code monkey got here and bumped me over to the sports desk, which has its own phone line. I also can't do my office e-mail on this computer, so I'm pretty well ham-strung until I get something more permanent. C'est la drag. I've got projects simmering, dagnabbit! I shudder to think how many calendar items I've missed putting up because they came through e-mail and I never saw them. Overall, though, I can't really complain - I'm getting my internship done, and that's the important thing. It's a paycheck and a diploma all in one.