Tuesday, March 28, 2006

When asked since leaving, I've always given wishy-washy answers about how I liked the foundation, or else praised the people and dodged everything else. It was partly truth and partly prudence - don't badmouth your boss, especially in a relatively close-knit community - but was also because I had forgotten just how much I disliked the writing until I had to do something similar at the Addison Independent. The story is about how a local school has cut its dropout rate to like a third of what it was five years ago. Newsworthy, certainly, but it's just been a lot easier to do it as a reporter.

Also, I've started looking for an apartment. The key word is "started", of course, I'm just at the stage of going over the ads in the newspapers. But by the time I find a place and move into it'll probably be May, a good year after I graduated. Getting out of my parent's house will be nice.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So I got curious and checked out the trailer for X-Men 3, found here. My thoughts:

1. DAAAMN. I'm counting the days. You know those people who went to showings of "Star Wars: Episode I" or "Return of the King" at midnight of the day before the official opening of the movie? I think this movie will be my first time to be waiting in one of those lines.
2. It seems that Ian McKellen's Magneto in this movie will be more Gandalf-like than ever. But one is the hero and the other is the villain of their respective stories. Dissonant cognition abounds. Some day I expect to see an "Ian vs. Ian" short video online made up of clips of Gandalf's speeches spliced into clips of Magneto's speeches, sort of like that "Daily Show" thing where they played quotes of Bush in the 2000 campaign that were contradicted one after another by quotes from his first term.
3. In other casting news, NBC's Frasier Crane has become Hank McCoy, a blue furry acrobatic mutant. But the funny thing is, it fits. In the comics, Hank McCoy, a.k.a. the Beast, is verbose, pompous and pedantic, but has a heart of gold underneath it all - in other words, he's suspiciously like the character Kelsey Grammer played on sitcoms for something like 15 years. Whether Mystique and Nightcrawler, the two other blue-skinned characters, morph into McCoy's frigid and bitter ex-wife (not too much of a stretch for Mystique, actually) and his whiny, snobby brother remains to be seen.
4. Looks like they're screwing Cyclops over again. I can't say I'm surprised that the moviemakers are emphasizing Wolverine, the most popular X-Man in terms of sales figures, but Cyclops is the backbone of the team and it's sad that he seems to be just an afterthought.
5. Where's Nightcrawler? You know, one of the aforementioned blue guys, got the entire opening action sequence at the beginning of the last movie, an actor who deserves some credit just for putting up with blue full-body makeup... just curious.
6. Some of the battle scenes looked really, really epic. "Braveheart" with blue fur instead of woad. Could be just selective editing to generate hype, of course - after all, these are ads - but if not... cooool. In fact, not just cool, but I'm pretty sure it would be unprecedented.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

As I've said before, I don't much like personality tests. But if there's an overriding need and/or I'm in an unusually good mood when I take one, I get to wondering weird stuff about how exactly they're doing the testing.

If you mark no questions "never" or "always" on the first couple pages but by the end of the test you're doing it pretty regularly, does the test take that into account? When there are two very similar questions do they expect that the test-taker knows the subtle difference in meaning between the relevant terms, or are they looking for the subject's response to another variable, like place in the test or an emotional impact of the terms or something? If the test involves rating things on a scale which goes to "almost always" on one extreme but only goes to "occasionally" on the other (rather than "almost never"), did the test-makers do that intentionally?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Whew. Well, yesterday was busy. I started the day with one story half-done and one story not started, and while as always there was a little bit that I could have done earlier it was mostly just because I hadn't been able to get in touch with the relevant people yet. So all in all, it's not a good way to start a deadline day.

I finally got all my stories done (there were a couple edits and/or more details needed on a couple other stories too) by 2:30 or so, so I wasn't too much over the noon deadline... but I gather that other people were behind schedule too, so I don't think I was the only cause of problems. And after all, I'm still pretty new there. I have a couple ideas on how I could improve my work style I'll ask about this morning.

Other than that... not a lot's going on. Went to Burlington on Sunday and hung out with Gretchen. I want to start going to game nights on Monday again, but there's always been something work-related. Three Mondays ago was my first day on the job and I didn't feel like going all the way up to Burlington that day, two Mondays ago I went to a town meeting, and this past Monday I went to a Bristol Elementary School board meeting.

Although maybe I should just start going to Friday Night Magic instead (a more serious event than the random game night, sanctioned by the DCI, tournament rules and everything). I didn't when I was at the foundation because I'd have to sneak out of work at least 15 minutes early to make registration and while I probably could have got away with it, I would have hated to explain that I was asking for time off, usually even leaving the place deserted, to play games. Now, however, leaving a little early on Friday evenings couldn't be easier. And in the past I might have felt guilty about skipping out on the weekly events my guild tries to organize that usually fall on Fridays, but lately my guild is kind of having trouble staying together, and as of last post I'm making an effort to cut back on World of Warcraft anyway.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tonight, instead of getting to know some friends better and probably meeting new people, I chose to sit in a dark room, waste some money and play computer games.

Almost nothing's that simple, of course, so I shouldn't beat myself up like that. It's a problem of mine. To elaborate, I went up to Burlington earlier this evening, planning on going to Drinking Liberally as I do most Thursday nights. No one else showed up at the usual place, so I went to a nearby cyber café to check my e-mail and see if it had been cancelled. As it turns out, it had merely been moved to Nectar's, a club a couple blocks away. I couldn't decide right away if I wanted to join them at the new place or just turn around and go home - I was iffy about going up there tonight in the first place, and Nectar's was not the kind of place I felt like. But while I was at the cybercafé I logged on to Kinderkreig, my main character in World of Warcraft, planning to just do a little housekeeping-type stuff.

But some people were trying to get a group together to tackle Onyxia, an extremely tough boss. In similar situations I've refused to join in, but I had never even tried Onyxia before, and I was assured it would be quicker than I had expected, so I went for it.

Over two hours later, I finally left, job undone and clearly undoable by our group.

So instead of going to a social outing that I was ambivalent about to begin with, I tried to do something I had never done before. At least, that's the "glass half full, dammit, I don't care how light it feels!" interpretation. But when all is said and done, instead of getting to know some friends better and probably meeting new people, I chose to sit in a dark room, waste some money and play computer games.

My parents have complained about the time I spend playing computer games and occasionally I've wondered myself, but I've always believed that there was nothing wrong with games except for how they can become a procrastination tool. But if that were ever true, clearly it's not any more.

I need to get off my ass and... forget that, I just need to get off my ass. I have absolutely no excuse for spending every Friday and Saturday night online without fail, or for having a heap of receipts which are waiting for me to spend the mere 15 minutes it would take to balance my checkbook and avoid overdue bills, or for already procrastinating on a few things at this dream job, or for not even trying to develop a social life closer to home or more personal than weekly interest groups in Burlington, and on and on.

By almost any measure I'm better off than a year ago. And by every single measure I'm certainly better off than I was three years ago, as both Gretchen and Katye could agree with. But just "better" is not nearly fucking good enough, not by a long shot.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Going well at work. In tomorrow's paper I'll have four unattributed brief town meeting previews, an even briefer announcement that a local store is being closed, and a 700-word story about an informational meeting to discuss a work camp for minimum-security convicts in a nearby town.

I used to be regarded by myself and others as really cynical, and in at least some ways it's accurate, but clearly not entirely. Because a truly cynical person would not have been surprised or disappointed in the least by the levels of "not in my backyard" that were present at said meeting. I never expected it to be popular, but nor did I expect people to be mad at the selectmen of the town for just having an informational meeting. I mean, it was ridiculous. The first half-dozen people who spoke up talked about "druggies" and how it's convicts they're bringing to the town, not "upstanding people", and they were insinuating and stating outright some downright mean stuff about the selectmen who voted to have the meeting who, in a town like this, are figuratively if not literally their own neighbors.

There are good reasons to oppose something like this, obviously. But it was a good half-hour before anyone used any of them.

EDIT: Heh, just goes to show, there are (at least) two sides to every story. I wrote most of the first two paragraphs above during a little downtime at work yesterday. (Which will be much rarer here than it was at the foundation. If I even have the opportunity more than once a week I'll be very surprised.) Soon after that I ran into someone who works for the phone book publisher, which is in the same building and owned by the same guy as the newspaper. I had met her and we talked a little on Tuesday. Much to my chagrin, she pointed out to me that she had been one of the people at the meeting. In fact, she was the one afraid of "druggies" and I quoted her husband with a negative opinion of the camp. I didn't recognize her at the time, but as soon as she pointed it out to me it was obvious. She didn't say anything to me at the meeting just to give me a chance to do the job I was new to in some ways.

So right that minute I was worried that in addition to the obvious potential problem of bias in the article, I was working down the hall from someone who would be on the wrong side of it. Fortunately, she read the article and didn't have any problem with it. But while she was reading the article, she told me that at first everyone had thought the camp could only be located in a limited area, and the only unused land within that area was owned by one of the selectmen. In other words, the decision to have the meeting was made in part by the person who would profit the most if the camp were made. Suddenly, hostility towards at least one of the selectmen seemed reasonable.

Ideally I should have found out about that before writing the article, but oh well. It probably wouldn't, or at least shouldn't, have effected how the article would turn out, because it was never anything more than rumor and conjecture in the first place. And realistically, finding out about it would have been a stretch. But, well, cynicism wasn't as justified as it appeared. There might be a lesson in that.

Then again, maybe not.

Details about the rest of work, and some thoughts about my personal life, to follow tomorrow or Saturday hopefully. I'm posting from a cybercafe, so I don't want to waste too much time.