Thursday, August 28, 2014

Viral Shmiral

I'm going to weigh in on something.

Marketing gimmicks are nothing new. Fatal or horrific diseases are not rare as a whole. Doing something silly because it's a viral thing is anything but uncommon.

HOWEVER, what could possibly be wrong with throwing ice water on your head if

1) it gets attention for a disease that rarely gets attention and begins to open discussion about what it is?

I for one knew about ALS before the viral bucket challenge, but really didn't know what it actually was. Then I saw this video:

Now I know.

2) it gets people to donate? Everything about money is a numbers game. This is why call centers work. You know that irritating call you get right when you sit down to dinner in which the local newspaper tries to get you to subscribe? Or the vacation time-share condo lady claims you've won a free trip? Sure YOU hung up, but she doesn't care. Do you know why? Because the more people she calls, the more likely she will snare a sale and that's the whole point. So what if not everyone donates? At least it's on the minds of many and guess what? Some people are donating which could never really be a bad thing. I mean do you want to be the one to look an ALS patient in the eye and tell them the money donated to research about their disease is a waste? I wouldn't ever call any money donated to a good cause as a waste.

I've seen articles saying there are other diseases killing more people that need more attention than this one. Yup, you're right. But does that mean we should be upset that this one is getting attention and money? The guy in that video certainly wouldn't feel that way.

A much beloved family member of mine had a disease that is most often extremely fatal and quickly so. He was lucky enough to be brought onto a trial treatment and it so far, has worked for him. He's been given a second chance and I for one, am grateful he did. I am happy that the treatment center he received the trial treatment at had the money for the research they did.

So when the temptation to be negative arises, maybe you could ask yourself, if someone in my family had this disease, would I be happy about this silly viral thing? If you can answer yes, then maybe you could just smile and watch the funny videos and be happy that sick people are getting research money that might someday help them.

In a time when negativity has found a giant incubator called the internet,  I like to lean into positivity and hope.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Unpredictability of Certain Changes and the Magic of Existence

found at: by Ashley Percival


Is the line between contentment and complacency indiscernibly fine?

I have tried and failed at so many things, and yet I'm happy that at least I tried.

As I mature, my ideology has changed for certain little things. For instance, I enjoy reading a book more than once, whereas when I was younger, that was an unpardonable waste of time that could be spent exploring something new.

Not believing in a natural law of science doesn't excuse you from the validity of it. I've tried. You see, I don't believe in aging.

When we are young we daydream of a time when we will be adults making all the decisions so that we can leave behind those unfair days of powerlessness. When we are adults, we cling to the nostalgia of our youth as though we spent it entirely carefree. Perhaps the problem lies in our definitions of freedom.

What most people don't realize, is that magic, like most things in life, is unpredictable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On the Move

It is amazing how three or four nights of truly restful sleep can change my outlook on life. I have energy. I feel engaged in life. I don't dread my responsibilities. Interestingly, I don't need a lot of sleep at night, I'm one of those that chugs along on 6 hours of sleep. But those 6 hours need to be good, restful sleep. I haven't had that kind of sleep in almost a year. But this week, oh the glory of great sleep.

Life is like a giant machine, rolling along. It can amble extremely slowly, or it can get stopped by potholes in the road. But when things align, it zips down a path and through obstacles like a tank. A nice tank. Sherlock may have his 'mind palace', but I think of my life like a big giant truck, but full of all kinds of oddities akin to Howl's Moving Castle.

My truck is on the move.

Monday, May 05, 2014

What .336986301 Means to Me

Somewhere in the Middle Year Resolutions.

It has come to my attention that I have certain egregious issues which need addressing. I will now do that. I have decided to make half year resolutions to eradicate these problems from my life. Given the fact that this is not June and therefore not the half year mark, this would technically really be the .41666667 resolutions. Actually, according to the precise date of this post, which is May 3rd, this would be the .336986301 mark. Man, when you think about it, that's a big difference, which makes sense since months are whole chunks of 30 or 31 days, sometimes 28 but who really cares about February, I mean honestly it can't even make up its mind. It's 28 this year, it's 29, it's 28, come on.


These are my .336986301 Year resolutions:

1. Stop rambling. Does this really require explanation? In fact, if I did give explanation that would just lead to rambling and then I'd have broken my first .336986301 resolution right away.

2. Use fewer adverbs. Stephen King abhors adverbs and I tend to agree with him. Whole-heartedly.

3. Drink more coffee.

4. Here's the most important one. Never, ever, ever read comments under news articles on the internet again. Ever. They are the car crash on the side of the road, drawing my gaze, sucking me toward their vortex of horror. I look, I peer deeper and I argue with my screen about the sheer lack of brain weight behind each one. I even try to philosophize rationally, but hey, rational went out the door when I decided to even read the comments of the perennially inflammatory. Internet news articles need serious doses of internet antibiotics.

5. Damn I seriously need to work on this adverb thing.

6. And maybe, you know, write another book.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Trouble with the Curve

I've been contemplating character a lot lately. I've noticed in movies and books the way characters affect me and how that transforms my opinion of the story being told. I'd like to compare House of Cards with Toy Story. Seems like apples and oranges I know, but bear with me.

Woody starts out as a character we can like, he's a leader, shows a level of compassion and intelligence that immediately draws us in. However, it does not take long before he starts acting like a jerk. When he does this, we cringe but we sympathise with his plight. The poor guy lost his standing. This push pull on our emotions works to solidify our need to cheer for the guy in spite of ourselves and it makes for interesting story. I think underneath it all, we're hoping that he will stop being a jerk and things will work out. Which is exactly what happens and thus we have character curve - the path a character takes to become a different person, or toy in this instance. We are rewarded for our emotional investment.

In House of Cards we meet Francis Underwood and right away we get the feeling he's not such a great guy. We are nevertheless, drawn into his character because he's smart, calculating and we think there's so much more going on with this guy. Plus, he talks directly to us, making us his accomplices, which makes us feel 'in the know'. As the story progresses, we find ourselves hoping he will have a curve toward being a better person. We think he could be doing all this chess playing for something better, to become better. I have not finished watching the series because his character plummets so far into darkness I just couldn't like him or hope for him anymore, especially since that darkness seems to be where he intended to go in the first place. In other words, he doesn't seem to have a curve, he started evil, he remains evil. I'm not saying I want Pollyana characters. However, if the characters I care about either die too early or become unbearably evil, I lose interest. My emotional investment didn't pay off and it drains me of my will to watch.

In these two examples, the path of the characters appear to be paths thought out from the beginning. What I find worse than drawing me into a character that I'm going to hate, is drawing me into a character, making me love that character and then without warning changing who that character is, making him unwatchable. Cue West Wing. I started watching West Wing. I love this show - for the first three seasons. These were smart, savvy characters with a desire to do good things. They faltered at times, they fought difficult odds, but they always rallied around each other and sought what means they could to do the right thing. Then season four comes along and suddenly, there are no good resolutions. Every fight ends in disaster or a turning away from doing what's right. By season five, they begin turning against each other. Now my emotional investment doesn't just become a loss, it has turned on me. I am now practically feeling complicit in the demise of these characters and disgusted with the show. But I kept watching thinking this will turn around. By the end of season five, I gave up. These were not characters I could get behind or hope for and without that, screw it.

There are characters we love to hate. Take Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He's despicable and always wreaking the worst kind of havoc, and yet we love his misbehaving because there's something about it that is so compelling, as though he were doing all the wrong things for a good reason even if we can't decipher it right away. This is great writing when you can do that and hold me in that state. However, it is rare. I watch entertainment for fun. If I wanted to be down or mad or frustrated I'd watch the news. If I wanted to see politicians being ruthless and political without regard for decency or trying to make this place a better world, I'd only have to turn to real politicians. So, if you want my investment in something that is difficult to root for, you'd have to convince me by some factor, characters I can love, a story so important or riveting I feel compelled to stay. But you set me up to love a character and then make that character a despicable person without any redemption or any draw to see what he'll do, I'm going to leave.