Friday, March 21, 2008

What's up with all the white space?

This has been bugging me for a while. I go to a blog site, like PZ Myer's blog Pharyngula, and I have to scroll down literally a foot of white space to get to the actual blog posting.

The blog is great, but I really do consider this a design flaw. And it's not just PZ's blog. Several other blogs I frequent also have this issue.

Is this so people are forced to look at the links in the left or right side of the Web site? Is it a flaw in the blog software being used? Or is it because my Version 6.0.2 of Internet Explorer is just too old to render new-fangled blog technology properly?

Can anyone help me out?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Resume

I just sent off a resume that, if I'm lucky, will change my life.

I'm now celebrating with a Grand Marnier and lemon on the rocks, and a brownie, but that's more my other blog.

The freelance gig I'm trying to get is very competetive, but would be a great opportuinty for me. Very prestigious, I could fit it into my schedule with my day job, and it's doing work I would enjoy doing.

It took about four days to take the resume I had, which was in good shape, and make it even better. I took my cover letter-writing skills to a whole other level. I solicited some advice from family and friends.

Worst-case scenario, nothing will come of it, but I'll have a much stronger resume to send out for freelance writing jobs. And, my skin will toughen at rejection.

But pessimism's my old style. My new style is much more optimistic. I'm already thinking of ways I can use new media to help drive traffic to my future employer. I'm taking advantage of technology like RSS feeds to keep my finger on the pulse of news and current events. And I'm already planning what to do with the added income I'll be getting.

If it turns out well, I may post some of what I've learned about cover letter writing in a later post. Of course, if it turns out well, I'll be doing much less blogging. But I promise I won't go away completely.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Coming out: My spiritual orientation

I've decided that I'm a theistic agnostic.

Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. I believe that there is a God, but I don't believe that I or anyone can ever *prove* that.

I know that the deck is stacked against there being a God. When I was a kid, about 7 years old, I was scared to death of dying. Now, if I were a good Catholic, like I was raised to be, I shouldn't have been scared.

Clown: Good madonna, why mournest thou?
OLIVIA: Good fool, for my brother's death.
Clown: I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
OLIVIA: I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
Clown: The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother's
soul being in heaven.
--William Shakespeare, "Twelfth Night"

In plain English:

Skinner: Ah yes, Renata. How is she?
Linguini: She's good…well, not g…she's been better. I-I mean, uh…
Horst: She died.
Skinner: [awkwardly] Oh. I'm…sorry.
Linguini: Oh, no, don't be. She believed in heaven, so she's covered…you know, afterlife-wise.

But I'm not sure about that. The whole possibility of non-existence after death has scared the shit out of me for years. And the only way I can deal with that is to believe that there is an afterlife, and, by extension, that there is a God. I can't not believe. (I'm not believing in God because of Pascal's wager, either. Hell is much less scary than non-existence to me.)

It's irrational, but faith is irrational. You can't prove faith, and those who try are seriously misguided. That's one of the main reasons that I think Intelligent Design and Creationism are so silly. Additionally, the debates over the Shroud of Turin or the James Ossuary should be meaningless for people who really have faith. Faith is believing something that can't be proven and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's very counter-intuitive. But we all do it to a certain extent. For some, religion is their faith, for others, it's secular things, like democracy.

The argument runs something like this. "I refuse to prove that I exist", says God, "for proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing." "But", says Man, "the Babel Fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It proves you exist, and so therefore you don't. QED." "Oh dear", says God, "I hadn't thought of that", and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
--Douglas Adams "The Hitchikker's Guide to the Galaxy"

I'll live my life on this world doing my best to improve myself, be nice to others, and leave things in better shape than when I got here. Maybe leave an heir if I'm lucky. And I will do it for the benefit of that heir, and everyone who comes after. And, because it's the right thing to do. Not for some fear of divine punishment.

I'm also still going to pray sometimes, go to church sporadically, and search through religious texts to find meaning. I'm not going to consider those texts inerrant and infallible, and I won't just keep to religious texts, or texts older than 500 years old. There's wisdom everywhere. Even in Oprah magazine. Sometimes.

I'm coming out as a theistic agnostic for several reasons: For one, writing it down helps clarify my thoughts, to figure out exactly what I believe. Second, it's a confession of sorts. There's my Catholic roots showing again. Many times, I present myself as far more religious in the company of my devout friends and acquaintances, but I present myself as more atheistic in the company of skeptics and rationalists. I do this mostly so as not to get into huge debates, and not to hurt feelings. But that practice is intellectually dishonest.

That doesn't mean I'm going to randomly blurt out to my mother "I'm not a Christian," or post “I believe in God” in the comments of the Geologic Podcast, but I need to say the words out loud, write them down, get them in order, so I can learn to be true to what I believe, and not change how I present myself because I'm worried about what other people will think or how they will feel.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dude! There's my lexicon!

I was thinking the other day about all the odd words and turns of phrases that I use, and why I use them. Here’s a list of some of my favorite words, and where I first remember picking them up. Most of these are from movies and TV shows.

In no particular order, let’s start with:

Plethora. Got this from an old Rocky and Bullwinkle episode. Something about the Ruby Yacht of Omar Kayyam, which was set on a cruise ship. (the Yacht was an artifact, not a ship). One of the guys used the phrase “plethora of rain,” and all of a sudden, the cartoon went into a quick vocab lesson. An early attempt at getting smarts into cartoons? I’d say so. Every term paper ever written should have at least one use of “plethora.”

Cool. I grew up in the 80’s. I never remember a time that I didn’t use this word. ‘Nuff said.

Dude! Although I never actually saw Dude, Where’s My Car? I picked up the use of this word after the trailers for the movie came out. I use this like I use cool, but it’s more multipurpose. More like that Superbowl Ad.

Clandestine. An old college joke. For many years, my husband’s e-mail sig file was a quote of mine: “Clandestine is a cool word.”

F*cktard. Picked this up recently from an episode of the Wingin’It Podcast. Thanks, Debbie!

Behemoth. A conversation between a co-worker and me many years ago. A word that’s not used nearly enough.

Metric Crap-ton. My preferred word for something very large. I don't like the word Ginormous, so I use this instead.

Pronoun Trouble. Apparently, I picked this up from Daffy Duck in an old Looney Toons episode. If you have to pick one phrase to adopt from this list, this is it. Terribly useful in the workplace. The whole concept of pronoun trouble can save your sanity, especially when your co-workers talk to you like you can read their minds.

Wonky. Used in The Norm comic strip, a strip that I used to love. Still do, but it’s no longer free or in the local papers.

Wiggy. Picked this up from Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. I use it like wonky, but less frequently.

Shiny, gorram, techy, tussle, palaver, and others: Pretty much any word, phrase or quote from Firefly I can and have incorporated into my vocabulary. What can I say, I’m an obsessed Browncoat.

Crap on a Crap cracker. Uttered by podcaster Mur Lafferty. Less of a swear word than an F-bomb, so good in situations where swearing is frowned upon.

Made of Awesome. Also used by Mur and assimilated by me.

Brilliant/Fantastic. I was saying this before I started watching Dr. Who. I have some British friends who use the term, so I picked it up from them.

W00t! Well who isn’t using w00t! these days in their written communications? More people should say it aloud--it's fun! Try it!

I can has? Oh Noes! WANT! and others: This is LOL Cats speech: LOL cats are funnier than the have a right to be. I sometimes use the ungrammatical I can haz and other phrases from the LOL Cats.

Groovy: From Army of Darkness. I don’t say it as much anymore, because I find it silly. Like any of these other words and phrases are any less silly. Just color me logically inconsistent.

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I don’t know where I picked this up, but I’ve been using it over the past year.

Oh my Stars. Again, not sure where I picked this up, but fairly recent. During a time I was trying to swear less. For the record, that time has passed.

I'd love to hear from others about what wierd words they use and where they picked it up. Acronyms, abbreviations, it's all good.