kareina: (me)
One of my loved ones recently sent me a link to an article he found interesting. The article's premise was that we shouldn't ask ourselves what we want, but rather what we are willing to suffer to get. That all of the classic goals come with a price. (e.g. Being able to afford a yacht tends to come with some pretty long hours at a high-stress job, having a bikini body tends to come with either starving yourself or long hours at the gym (or both), etc.)

I found this amusing, because, for me, the things I achieve tend not to come with a price of suffering, but because I honestly enjoy the process of getting there--my lifestyle choices include lots of things I enjoy doing, and doing them gets me some cool goals/benefits/rewards.

How did I wind up with a PhD? I was having fun doing research.

Why is my house cleaner than many other people's homes? because I actually like the process of making things clean--watching the transition from icky to shiny is fun, and being the one to make it happen is joyful.

Why do I have only hand-sewn costumes in my closet, because I like the part about sliding the threaded needle through the fabric.

Why am I getting a fitter better body now than I have ever had before? Because I am actually enjoying my workouts.

So, one could take the approach of the author in that article, and ask yourself what goals are worth working for. Or, one could take my approach--what things that are fun to do lead to goals worth having?
kareina: (Default)
One of my friends today had a post that got me thinking, yet again, of how we tend to see what we look for in this world. My default approach to people is to look for the traits they have that I like; others tend to see first the things they don't like. The post I read a bit ago was a reasonably typical post of the sort which are written in an entertaining manner to garner sympathy from friends--it described some of the trials and tribulations the writer was experiencing as a result of a visit from her partner's parents. Were one to base one's opinion on only that post alone one would gain an image of the parents as being critical of the world around them, their government, and in particular of the mother of their grandchild as well as holding political views that simply do not mesh with those of the writer (or even most of my friends, for that matter). However, as with all things, this is, and can be, only part of the picture.

I actually met the parents in question some years back--they are conveniently located along a path from point A to point B that many of my friends were taking, and they agreed to have 15 of us stay the night at their home so that we could break our journey into two reasonable sized chunks rather than one long trip. During that visit I found them to be generous (not only did they open their home, they fed us yummy food too, asking nothing in return), good natured, intelligent and lively, entertaining conversationalists who have a lovely home and a work shop of the sort I would wish to have someday. In short I really enjoyed their company.

Two very different perspectives of the same people.

I believe that no matter who you meet or spend time with if you are looking for things upon which you disagree you will find them, but if you look for ways in which you agree, you will find them too. It is very, very difficult for two people to disagree on absolutely everything, there are nearly always points of common ground, if one looks for them. Finding these points and sharing them makes spending time with others ever so much nicer and more fun than looking at the places we disagree.

The post in question generated many, many comments along the lines of "you poor dear" or "they are mad". For myself I offer my sympathies, not that the writer has to deal with such unfortunate visitors, but that the writer wasn't more successful in seeing the likable aspects of her partner's parents and in finding ways to truly enjoy their visit. While it can be fun to wallow in misery and say "woe is me for having to deal with this dreadful situation beyond my control", I think it is even more fun to find connections and common ground with people so that you can say "had a delightful visit, loved their company" (or even, "had a delightful visit, loved their company, even though their political views are dead wrong").
kareina: (me)
For each of us there exists a few fundamental thoughts/beliefs/ideologies/feelings/opinions/etc. that are so ingrained we take them as a given until and unless someone or something causes us to step back and re-examine them. Often these points of view are so ingrained that we make other comments based on the assumption of these "facts" without specifying that they exist, nor what they are--we don't see the lack in that because these things are just the way the world *is*. Except that it is not. For each of these thoughts that one of us hold as so "right" that it goes without saying, someone else has a different perspective.

I discovered one of mine as a result of the writer's block reply post I did yesterday. When the question asked "should there be any restrictions", I understood "restrictions" to mean what I think of when I hear the word. To me a "restriction" is something that can only be self-imposed--it is a decision that an individual makes for themselves with the goal of obtaining a positive benefit. Examples include people who had a tendency to over-eat so decided to restrict their food intake with the goal of bringing their weight back down to a healthy limit. Or deciding that one likes to be awake whilst at work, and therefore setting a restriction as to how late one stays up at night.

While it is possible for someone else to suggest a restriction to another, unless the other decides of their own free will to adhere to it it will not make any difference (other than possibly causing some resentment). I see "laws" as different from "restrictions" in that "laws" are a list of things a government wishes its people to either refrain from doing or make a point of doing (depending on the law). The people are free to do them, or not, but there are consequences in the form of punishment (or possibly reward if they choose to do something that is on the list of laws requiring an action to be taken). This, to my mind, is very different from the consequences of not following a restriction you choose for your self. In the case of going on a "diet" choosing not to adhere to the restrictions results in not losing weight--it is something that simply happens, a direct cause and effect relationship. Laws, on the other hand, come with an indirect cause and effect. The punishment happens because the law was broken, but a different set of actions must be initiated to cause the punishment to come into being, it doesn't arise naturally out of the failure to follow it.

Therefore, when I wrote yesterday on the topic of overpopulation and the list of "restrictions" I think could make a difference in reducing the number of people on the planet, I simply listed the ideas that came to me, and didn't think to state the basic assumptions that are so ingrained in me that I hadn't noticed them--that in order to qualify as a restriction it cannot be imposed by an outside authority. The only way my suggestion could work would be if suddenly everyone on the planet woke up and said to themselves all at once that they would like to apply those restrictions to themselves.

Will this ever happen? No, not bloody likely. While everyone on the planet may agree that breathing is a good thing, I don't think that anything else is unanimous, or is ever likely to be. Solutions to problems that are dreamed up when doing a quick essay in response to a question (like the writer's block questions) are often not practical. However, I still think that should everyone suddenly decide to give my idea a try that the results, despite the negative consequences for some) would still be better than the famine/plague/pestilence/war that will happen as a result of overpopulation.

It has been interesting seeing how others react to my words, and to realize that many of you clearly have a very different meaning to the word "restrictions" than do I. No idea if explaining the basic assumptions on meaning and implications of that word for me helps ease any of the negative reaction others had to it when I used it or not, but it seemed worth sharing the ideas nonetheless. I certainly wouldn't have thought so much about how I see the word if others hadn't reacted strongly and so differently than do I.
kareina: (me)
For each of us there exists a few fundamental thoughts/beliefs/ideologies/feelings/opinions/etc. that are so ingrained we take them as a given until and unless someone or something causes us to step back and re-examine them. Often these points of view are so ingrained that we make other comments based on the assumption of these "facts" without specifying that they exist, nor what they are--we don't see the lack in that because these things are just the way the world *is*. Except that it is not. For each of these thoughts that one of us hold as so "right" that it goes without saying, someone else has a different perspective.

I discovered one of mine as a result of the writer's block reply post I did yesterday. When the question asked "should there be any restrictions", I understood "restrictions" to mean what I think of when I hear the word. To me a "restriction" is something that can only be self-imposed--it is a decision that an individual makes for themselves with the goal of obtaining a positive benefit. Examples include people who had a tendency to over-eat so decided to restrict their food intake with the goal of bringing their weight back down to a healthy limit. Or deciding that one likes to be awake whilst at work, and therefore setting a restriction as to how late one stays up at night.

While it is possible for someone else to suggest a restriction to another, unless the other decides of their own free will to adhere to it it will not make any difference (other than possibly causing some resentment). I see "laws" as different from "restrictions" in that "laws" are a list of things a government wishes its people to either refrain from doing or make a point of doing (depending on the law). The people are free to do them, or not, but there are consequences in the form of punishment (or possibly reward if they choose to do something that is on the list of laws requiring an action to be taken). This, to my mind, is very different from the consequences of not following a restriction you choose for your self. In the case of going on a "diet" choosing not to adhere to the restrictions results in not losing weight--it is something that simply happens, a direct cause and effect relationship. Laws, on the other hand, come with an indirect cause and effect. The punishment happens because the law was broken, but a different set of actions must be initiated to cause the punishment to come into being, it doesn't arise naturally out of the failure to follow it.

Therefore, when I wrote yesterday on the topic of overpopulation and the list of "restrictions" I think could make a difference in reducing the number of people on the planet, I simply listed the ideas that came to me, and didn't think to state the basic assumptions that are so ingrained in me that I hadn't noticed them--that in order to qualify as a restriction it cannot be imposed by an outside authority. The only way my suggestion could work would be if suddenly everyone on the planet woke up and said to themselves all at once that they would like to apply those restrictions to themselves.

Will this ever happen? No, not bloody likely. While everyone on the planet may agree that breathing is a good thing, I don't think that anything else is unanimous, or is ever likely to be. Solutions to problems that are dreamed up when doing a quick essay in response to a question (like the writer's block questions) are often not practical. However, I still think that should everyone suddenly decide to give my idea a try that the results, despite the negative consequences for some) would still be better than the famine/plague/pestilence/war that will happen as a result of overpopulation.

It has been interesting seeing how others react to my words, and to realize that many of you clearly have a very different meaning to the word "restrictions" than do I. No idea if explaining the basic assumptions on meaning and implications of that word for me helps ease any of the negative reaction others had to it when I used it or not, but it seemed worth sharing the ideas nonetheless. I certainly wouldn't have thought so much about how I see the word if others hadn't reacted strongly and so differently than do I.

My vision

Nov. 15th, 2008 02:16 pm
kareina: (Default)
Over on Change.Gov they are asking the people to share their "vision for what America can be, where President-Elect Obama should lead this country. Where should we start together?"

Here is what I told them )
I encourage you all to craft your own vision statements, and share them with the government. Perhaps, if enough of us share our dreams about what the US *could be*, in an ideal world, it will be.

My vision

Nov. 15th, 2008 02:16 pm
kareina: (Default)
Over on Change.Gov they are asking the people to share their "vision for what America can be, where President-Elect Obama should lead this country. Where should we start together?"

Here is what I told them )
I encourage you all to craft your own vision statements, and share them with the government. Perhaps, if enough of us share our dreams about what the US *could be*, in an ideal world, it will be.
kareina: (Default)
A young friend of mine asked me in an e-mail recently if I'd been to any beaches or zoos recently. When I replied saying that I was too busy with uni work these days to take time off for those sorts of adventures, he replies saying that it sounded "kinda sad" to be so busy with my uni work. My reply to him, explaining that, actually, it is really rather fun, turned out to be somewhat longer than I think he was expecting. full answer behind the cut, not because I think it isn't worth reading, it is, but because it would be lots to page down through to get to the next post on your friends page, and you might have reason to do that after reading this once )

In other news: Today's progress report: only 397 words written (457 if you count the references cited), but the figure they go to took most of the six hours and 40 minutes of actual uni work, and will be one of the more important parts of the project.
kareina: (Default)
A young friend of mine asked me in an e-mail recently if I'd been to any beaches or zoos recently. When I replied saying that I was too busy with uni work these days to take time off for those sorts of adventures, he replies saying that it sounded "kinda sad" to be so busy with my uni work. My reply to him, explaining that, actually, it is really rather fun, turned out to be somewhat longer than I think he was expecting. full answer behind the cut, not because I think it isn't worth reading, it is, but because it would be lots to page down through to get to the next post on your friends page, and you might have reason to do that after reading this once )

In other news: Today's progress report: only 397 words written (457 if you count the references cited), but the figure they go to took most of the six hours and 40 minutes of actual uni work, and will be one of the more important parts of the project.
kareina: (Default)
Last night a concerned individual came to me to let me know that others have been spreading gossip about me. As with all gossip, it turned out to be a blend of outright untruths and 1/4 truths so distorted as to make it difficult to determine upon what kernel of fact they'd once been based. Because my informant was unwilling to reveal the source of the gossip, I am now in the unenviable position of wondering about everyone in the Barony "was it you who would say such hurtful things?" Are stories being spread by people I thought were my friends? Or is it only those persons I don't know very well who are being cruel?

I don't wish to think of anyone in negative terms, and would very much prefer that one and all live up to the ideals of chivalry, courtesy, and honour upon which our organization is based. Please remember that not only is it discourteous to speak ill of someone, it is also a specific requirements of the SCA governing documents that if you have a problem with an individual that you speak *to that individual* about these problems.

It is a very good thing to share good news you hear about your friends. It is a very bad thing to spread hurtful gossip about anyone, be they friend, acquaintance or even foe. Many people, when they feel annoyance about something enjoy "venting" their feelings by talking about them to others. While rarely this is a productive thing in that by talking about what has annoyed them they are able to work past the annoyance and come to a solution, more often such practices instead turn into a building of negative energy, as the first person's words cause their audience to begin to think about things which annoy them, which they share with the first speaker and soon the conversation escalates and each feeds the other's negative energy with more negative energy, and the world becomes that bit more negative than it was.

Therefore I challenge one an all: if you have a problem with someone--be it a minor annoyance, or a major issue--go and talk to the person with whom you have a problem *before* or, better yet, *instead of* speaking to another about it. If you do feel the need to mention something negative about anyone, always find two positive things to say about them--mention one of the positive things before and another after the negative topic. Don't let your conversations increase the negative energy of the world, let them increase the positive.
kareina: (Default)
Last night a concerned individual came to me to let me know that others have been spreading gossip about me. As with all gossip, it turned out to be a blend of outright untruths and 1/4 truths so distorted as to make it difficult to determine upon what kernel of fact they'd once been based. Because my informant was unwilling to reveal the source of the gossip, I am now in the unenviable position of wondering about everyone in the Barony "was it you who would say such hurtful things?" Are stories being spread by people I thought were my friends? Or is it only those persons I don't know very well who are being cruel?

I don't wish to think of anyone in negative terms, and would very much prefer that one and all live up to the ideals of chivalry, courtesy, and honour upon which our organization is based. Please remember that not only is it discourteous to speak ill of someone, it is also a specific requirements of the SCA governing documents that if you have a problem with an individual that you speak *to that individual* about these problems.

It is a very good thing to share good news you hear about your friends. It is a very bad thing to spread hurtful gossip about anyone, be they friend, acquaintance or even foe. Many people, when they feel annoyance about something enjoy "venting" their feelings by talking about them to others. While rarely this is a productive thing in that by talking about what has annoyed them they are able to work past the annoyance and come to a solution, more often such practices instead turn into a building of negative energy, as the first person's words cause their audience to begin to think about things which annoy them, which they share with the first speaker and soon the conversation escalates and each feeds the other's negative energy with more negative energy, and the world becomes that bit more negative than it was.

Therefore I challenge one an all: if you have a problem with someone--be it a minor annoyance, or a major issue--go and talk to the person with whom you have a problem *before* or, better yet, *instead of* speaking to another about it. If you do feel the need to mention something negative about anyone, always find two positive things to say about them--mention one of the positive things before and another after the negative topic. Don't let your conversations increase the negative energy of the world, let them increase the positive.
kareina: (Default)
Sometime not too long ago [livejournal.com profile] katerit commented to me "I don't know many people who don't do insane amounts of stuff" and this got me thinking about how little free time I have these days, and how it never used to be like this.

I was one of those kids who found school easy--very little effort on my part was required to get grades ranging from decent to excellent. I don't recall having "homework" to do for most of my school years, because the "in class" time available to work on stuff was more than sufficent to get it all done. I never needed to "study" for exams (reading over notes or text books again after the creation of the one, or the first reading of the other), but just remembered enough of what had been said during lectures so as to be able to pass. Indeed, I felt that studying would be akin to cheating--that the exam was meant to be a measure of how much we learned during class itself!

When I moved on to University I found it a bit harder, and I actually had assignments to do outside of class time, but still I found ample free time to go for long walks, spend hours reading fiction, attend SCA events nearly every weekend, attend SCA gatherings/practices at least a couple of evenings a week, and spend hours just hanging out with my friends--possibly working on projects, possibly curled up in a lap visiting.

Moving on to my Master's degree--again, more work required during my "free" time, but still plenty of time available to continue being "active" in the SCA, enjoy time with friends/loved ones, reading, walks/x-country skiing. I am pretty certain that I still spent more of my time on things that count as "leisure" than I did on my Uni work.

In the decade that slipped past between finishing up my Master's and starting my PhD I was careful to arrange my life so that I could continue to put the primary emphasis on what I considered "quality of life"--lots of free time to indulge in what I do for fun. I didn't have much money, but it doesn't take much money to hang out with friends, re-read old favourite books, go for walks, and I managed to arrange thing to make it to oodles of SCA events with very little outlay of cash as well.

Needless to say, when I first enrolled in the PhD program here in Tassie, I started off continuing as I'd done before--taking time to do things I enjoy in addition to the Uni work. But having enrolled to work on a project for which I had zero background, it was necessary to do an awful lot of self-teaching to get to the point where I could understand the journal articles I needed to read for the project, so I started cutting back on some of my leisure activities to make time for the extra uni work. Time progressed, the project progressed, deadlines loomed, other "fun" activities were dropped from my schedule to free up more time for uni work. A couple of years slipped by, progress was made on the project, but not enough. Deadlines loomed. Cut back on more fun stuff.

Suddenly, I find myself in a place I never, ever, thought I would be--I've actually chosen *not* to attend an SCA event on a weekend so that I could stay home and get more work done. I'm considering staying home from other, upcoming events to get more work done. For the first time in my life, I am one of those insanely busy people with too much that needs to be done *now* and not enough time to do it. For the first time ever, I'm one of the people saying "sorry, I can't, I have to work".

I can remember feeling smug when people said that to me because I *could* go play, and I remember feeling sorry for them that they couldn't. Now that I'm the one saying it, I must confess, that I'm actually enjoying the work that I'm doing (most days), and that I don't mind missing out on the other stuff because I'm learning interesting stuff, and making progress on a fun project.

Speaking of which, I'd best get to it--it is nearly 10:40 this morning, and I haven't started working yet!

(ok, I'm giving up on fun stuff, but I'm still averaging 8 hours of sleep a day!)
kareina: (Default)
Sometime not too long ago [livejournal.com profile] katerit commented to me "I don't know many people who don't do insane amounts of stuff" and this got me thinking about how little free time I have these days, and how it never used to be like this.

I was one of those kids who found school easy--very little effort on my part was required to get grades ranging from decent to excellent. I don't recall having "homework" to do for most of my school years, because the "in class" time available to work on stuff was more than sufficent to get it all done. I never needed to "study" for exams (reading over notes or text books again after the creation of the one, or the first reading of the other), but just remembered enough of what had been said during lectures so as to be able to pass. Indeed, I felt that studying would be akin to cheating--that the exam was meant to be a measure of how much we learned during class itself!

When I moved on to University I found it a bit harder, and I actually had assignments to do outside of class time, but still I found ample free time to go for long walks, spend hours reading fiction, attend SCA events nearly every weekend, attend SCA gatherings/practices at least a couple of evenings a week, and spend hours just hanging out with my friends--possibly working on projects, possibly curled up in a lap visiting.

Moving on to my Master's degree--again, more work required during my "free" time, but still plenty of time available to continue being "active" in the SCA, enjoy time with friends/loved ones, reading, walks/x-country skiing. I am pretty certain that I still spent more of my time on things that count as "leisure" than I did on my Uni work.

In the decade that slipped past between finishing up my Master's and starting my PhD I was careful to arrange my life so that I could continue to put the primary emphasis on what I considered "quality of life"--lots of free time to indulge in what I do for fun. I didn't have much money, but it doesn't take much money to hang out with friends, re-read old favourite books, go for walks, and I managed to arrange thing to make it to oodles of SCA events with very little outlay of cash as well.

Needless to say, when I first enrolled in the PhD program here in Tassie, I started off continuing as I'd done before--taking time to do things I enjoy in addition to the Uni work. But having enrolled to work on a project for which I had zero background, it was necessary to do an awful lot of self-teaching to get to the point where I could understand the journal articles I needed to read for the project, so I started cutting back on some of my leisure activities to make time for the extra uni work. Time progressed, the project progressed, deadlines loomed, other "fun" activities were dropped from my schedule to free up more time for uni work. A couple of years slipped by, progress was made on the project, but not enough. Deadlines loomed. Cut back on more fun stuff.

Suddenly, I find myself in a place I never, ever, thought I would be--I've actually chosen *not* to attend an SCA event on a weekend so that I could stay home and get more work done. I'm considering staying home from other, upcoming events to get more work done. For the first time in my life, I am one of those insanely busy people with too much that needs to be done *now* and not enough time to do it. For the first time ever, I'm one of the people saying "sorry, I can't, I have to work".

I can remember feeling smug when people said that to me because I *could* go play, and I remember feeling sorry for them that they couldn't. Now that I'm the one saying it, I must confess, that I'm actually enjoying the work that I'm doing (most days), and that I don't mind missing out on the other stuff because I'm learning interesting stuff, and making progress on a fun project.

Speaking of which, I'd best get to it--it is nearly 10:40 this morning, and I haven't started working yet!

(ok, I'm giving up on fun stuff, but I'm still averaging 8 hours of sleep a day!)
kareina: (Default)
A friend of mine who lives up in Cradle Mountain lost her son last week. He was only 32 years old, and had just passed all of his medical exams so that he could head out to sea (he was in the Navy). He was enjoying one last weekend with his wife and small children, and suddenly collapsed and died. Apparently it was a virus which attacked his heart. This is the second time in my life I've known of someone who died to such a virus. The last time the victim was only 23 years old, and went home from work early with an upset stomach, and by the time his lady got home from work, he was gone.

Hearing about these very abrupt transitions reminds me just how fragile life is, and how abruptly one can lose their connection with it. Remember to enjoy each and every day you have. If you aren't happy in your current situation, find a way to change it and become happy, because you may not have as much time as you think you have! Take the time to tell your loved ones you care, stop for some hugs, even when important deadlines are looming!

I submitted my application for an extension today. My advisor and my department head have signed it, hopefully the powers that be up in the Administration section of the Uni will also approve. I've got tons more work to do tonight. My goal is to actually submit my thesis well before the deadline I included on my application form, which will take much effort on my part. But first, I'm going to go spend a bit of quality time with my loved ones...
kareina: (Default)
A friend of mine who lives up in Cradle Mountain lost her son last week. He was only 32 years old, and had just passed all of his medical exams so that he could head out to sea (he was in the Navy). He was enjoying one last weekend with his wife and small children, and suddenly collapsed and died. Apparently it was a virus which attacked his heart. This is the second time in my life I've known of someone who died to such a virus. The last time the victim was only 23 years old, and went home from work early with an upset stomach, and by the time his lady got home from work, he was gone.

Hearing about these very abrupt transitions reminds me just how fragile life is, and how abruptly one can lose their connection with it. Remember to enjoy each and every day you have. If you aren't happy in your current situation, find a way to change it and become happy, because you may not have as much time as you think you have! Take the time to tell your loved ones you care, stop for some hugs, even when important deadlines are looming!

I submitted my application for an extension today. My advisor and my department head have signed it, hopefully the powers that be up in the Administration section of the Uni will also approve. I've got tons more work to do tonight. My goal is to actually submit my thesis well before the deadline I included on my application form, which will take much effort on my part. But first, I'm going to go spend a bit of quality time with my loved ones...

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