A new level of evil

Cafe couple by Elliot MarogoliesThe worst people in the world–the most evil, the most vile (hey, evil and vile are anagrams!)–are those who sit down at a cafe where there are several open tables but choose one next to the power outlet, even though they have no devices to plug in! I’m so outraged, I could blog about it!

Photo Credit: Elliot Margolies

What’s in a name

What good is a blog if I’m not blogging about my new dog? And I haven’t been. It’s all been going on Facebook.

Anyway, let’s skip ahead. Naming her. No one seems to appreciate what a deeply personal decision this is. I’ve been making light of this problem on Facebook. I’m not shutting down people who have been offering suggestions, even though there is almost no chance I will use any of them.

Perhaps it’s been good that every name I’ve intended to use has been vetoed by someone. On one hand, I shouldn’t care when anyone else thinks. On the other hand, a day of reflection has been causing me to the veto every name.

“How about…?”

“What about…?”

“Just call her…”

“She doesn’t understand that that’s her name, anyway.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“You’re not really gonna call her that.”

“No!”

Ok, enough. Thanks for the support. I’m going to name her something that everyone thinks is utterly ridiculous. (Utterly…haha, I made a pun, since she is pretty udderly.) And you’re not going to like it. And I’m going to be amused with myself.

Aremid was named after a soap opera place/storyline. The story behind it is silly, but I can’t imagine having named him anything else.

Zellouisa was named after one day of brainstorming, eventually the merging of a few names I liked, forming something that no one else has ever come up with, and I’ve been happy with that, and I can’t imagine calling her anything else.

Herman was named after my grandfather, and the name fit from day one, and I barely ever gave it a second thought.

Mr. Featherbottom was named after an Arrested Development character’s alter ego. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough for his name to become legendary. While I might have abbreviated his name as “Mr. F” in speaking and writing of him, and I did actually call him by his full name to his face, and I’ve done with Zellouisa for 16 1/2 years, even though his name was six syllables.

But I think naming dogs is different from naming cats. Only people I know will ask what the cats’ names are, while many strangers will see the dog outside of my house and ask about his name. So I really need to make it something that I don’t have to pronounce twice.

Except that I don’t. That’s the rationale I gave when I just threw out a name I went so far as to create a tag for. But I also decided it was a lousy name.

This naming exercise has been draining, mostly because it reminds me of how little there is of interest that defines me. Before you try to correct me, let me explain. I haven’t traveled enough to have many places that inspire me. I haven’t read enough books to have had characters that stand out. I can’t even think of TV shows that I adore so much that I want to use a name from one of them. (Ok, not entirely true. I’ve gone through a bunch of TV-inspired names. Many. But I haven’t stuck with any of them). Movies? I haven’t seen enough movies, really, to have a great movies to pull from.

I’ve gone through many, many common names, and many variations of common names, and I’ve explored Google Translate and nameberry.com for hours upon hours. I’ve come up with a lot of good names, I think, but, in the end, I decide they don’t really resonate, and I don’t want to use a random name.

The naming exercise also reminds me how few people “get me.” This is not a criticism of anyone. It’s a criticism of myself. But those who know me best know I’m going to come up with something out of left field, no matter what they suggest.

I think naming a cat after a soap opera plot is fine, and I don’t mind that people I know I used to watch Days of Our Lives religiously.

I think it’s fine that I invented a name that sounds funny and, perhaps, is ludicrous.

I think it’s fine that I named a dog after a close relative.

I think it’s fine that I named a cat something completely ridiculous.

But, now, I hear one “No! You can’t name ___” and I say, “Ok, I guess I won’t.”

I’m going to have a finite number of pets in my life. I’m not naming animals at the shelter. She’s already my best friend.

But it’s been two weeks now. Puppy class starts on Monday (she’s four, but all ages are welcome), so that’s a pretty hard deadline.

Grad school Part 2.1

GradesIt might be fascinating to chronicle what it’s like to take an online graduate course from a continuing studies school of a well-respected university. I doubt anyone has done this, as I certainly didn’t find anything along these lines when I was trying to decide for a year-and-a-half whether I should actually make a go at this program. But I’m not the one to do that. Obviously, I didn’t write much of anything about the last course I took, and I don’t have the time to do so now. I figured I should get some writing in. Perhaps I’ll say more than I’m intending to right now. I never quite know what I’m going to write about when I start typing.

Quick review of that first course. My final grade was a 98. What does that even mean? I don’t look at that number with a whole lot of pride. Seriously. I don’t know what the grade distribution was, and I know damn well I slacked off in the second half, during which my grade actually went up. I did put a great deal of time into that class, so I suppose it’s hard to say what grade I would’ve received otherwise. But I put in a lot of time because I delve off-topic and take a long time to synthesize what I’m trying to say. I do a poor job of writing conceptually. That’s the best way I know how to say that. It’s true at work, too. I take forever to compose an email. I take forever to compose one sentence of a paper. I’m glad I’m doing *this* right now because I’m taking about 20 seconds to compose each sentence. My mind is in desperate need of this. Anyway, so, I don’t know what that grade means. The important thing is, did I get anything out of the class? Did I learn anything? Certainly. I have a much better understanding of…oh, oops…yeah, I wasn’t going to mention anything specific about this program. I can have a more intelligent conversation with someone about the topic. I generally feel good about what I learned.

But I hate the format. I hate the asynchronous online learning modality. The optional sync sessions are bullshit. The discussion forums are bullshit. Online learning may be giving a lot more people access to higher education, but I can’t see how it can ever be a more enriching experience than face-to-face interaction. Then again, this is asynchronous. I work with synchronous video technologies in my job everyday. Video calls. Video conferencing in high-definition. It’s not hard. I don’t understand for the life of me why an online program, particularly an online graduate-level program through a prestigious university, can’t bother to use easily available technology to deliver something to superior to what the offer now.

And it’s friggin experience. Student loans. I don’t want these. But it’s either student loans or get my employer to reimburse for tuition. I tried. I didn’t push for the first quarter, because I wasn’t sure I’d still be with my current employer by the end of the quarter. I tried for this quarter, though. I drew up a plan of how I’d utilize the degree where I’m at, and I was even a little excited about it! I never know what I want to do with my life, but this plan is a bit inspired. But…re-orgs. Funding issues. I don’t have the core skills that make my company run. They’re not investing in me. I just found this out a few days ago.

My motivation for my job and my schoolwork is pretty low at the moment.

My second course officially began on Monday. I’m already quite behind. Last quarter, I would generally take off Mondays and Tuesdays. That’s fine as long as I pick up the pace on Wednesday and Thursday. I can’t say I’ve done that quite yet, although orienting myself to the course and filling out my discussion forum introduction were necessary steps.

I’ve got other topics to write about before I head off to sleep, so I need to end this post. More another time, perhaps.

[Meta-blogging note: this 3-column theme is awful. If I’m going to be writing more than 25 words, the width has to be greater. I don’t need that 3rd column. No time to bother with this now.]

40 days later

Grief need not take form like this. No need to crumble or sob. No need to cry out, “I want my puppy back.” No need to become a puddle of grief. No need to feel time stopping and devastation consuming you. It seems abnormal not to experience grief like this. I haven’t been writing about just how I have been grieving the loss of my dog. I’m not going to write about how it has been.

But I did just briefly describe how it is right now. 40 days later, I’m suddenly overcome by a tsunami.

I miss my boy so much.

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I Still Can’t Sleep

5:12AM. Not good at all. I don’t know if I actually slept tonight. I presumed that the combination of having taking an intense acting workshop over the weekend and consuming some carbs (Kroger kettle popcorn which has been sitting around since pre-low-carbing began in October) late into the evening would ensure I’d get some sleep. Nope.

So…I changed the theme again to something with panels, with some navigation. The WordPress TwentyFourteen theme. So unimaginative. After years of bastardizing/customizing themes to demonstrate that I still had the ability to “code”, I’m done with that. Truly learning MySQL/PHP never happened. The Top 379 site was supposed to be my learning platform. Never came to be. Spent too much time researching where a song landed in the Japan-Osaka pop charts to fix a lousy layout and add basic functionality I had meant to implement.

Intense acting workshop? Meisner Intensive. Wow, Dave…improv, acting? Yeah, trying. That’s all I say. Sorry, J.

Today, I mentioned to a couple of people that I had a blog, which I haven’t done in ages, since there’s been no real content in awhile, and I’ve always been apprehensive about pointing people to do it. It’s one thing to throw links onto Facebook and have no idea who’s looking at it. It’s another to tell someone face-to-face that I have a blog, and it’s this.

And then I always get especially self-conscious that someone is going to visit this site for the first time. And I feel the need, more than usual, to offer up caveats and prefaces…

This isn’t real writing. I’m self-aware enough to know this. It’s stream-of-consciousness (except when it is an actual attempt, of sorts, at composition, but let’s just pretend it’s all stream-of-consciousness so the bar is set low.) As I said to someone today, I don’t read, so I’ll never really learn how to write. Though, the doing itself is better than the not doing. How fucking profound. What a revelation I’ve just had. (I think I need to join the study group for those who are searching for a sarcasm font. Then again, it loses the intended impact if I have to point out the sarcasm, right?)

What was I saying? Something about caveats…yeah…my extemporaneous writing is often so coherent…kind of like my improvising!

Let me put an end to this before it drags on for too long. Just metablogging until I’m ready to tackle an actual topic.

I shall offer up my spellbinding insights to the world

I’ve had insomnia for a couple of months now, and the usual solutions aren’t helping. I’m not writing to discuss my sleep woes. Any writing I do, for now, is purely experimental. I’d like to figure out how to write publicly. I was blogging and setting up web profiles at the Beginning, but I always used pseudonyms. When people started becoming comfortable carving out an internet persona that used their actual name, I didn’t get it. This was, perhaps, about five years ago, but it’s the norm now. People regularly post Twitter and Facebook comments with their actual name attached. Concern for repercussions is minimal. I’ve always written here about how I wouldn’t want to blog with my name unless my employment situation were stable for the long-term. I can’t risk anymore than I already do the possibility that very personal blog entries raise red flags and cause someone not to hire me in a scenario where I am either desperate for a job or have found some dream job. I can’t risk it…except…

At this point, I’ve had this strategy for about seven years. My thoughts, and there certainly have been far fewer of them on here over the last couple of years, did not belong to Dave S. They belonged to “Toastie”. I think I do have a lot of worthwhile things to say. Everyone thinks that, I know. But I do, and it’s a shame that I’m so afraid.

I have lots of witty and insightful observations about the world every day that go to…waste. I ought to have a real Twitter account. I should be participating in the global conversation, because I have things to say. At some point, well, with the invention of Twitter…what is it? six years ago, eight years ago? It’s birthday was celebrated recently. I don’t care to look it up. Anyway, everyone f*in person in the world (and f*in shall be my shorthand for another word, and I realize use of that word demonstrates my limited vocabulary) thinks their constant musings have some meaning. In most cases, these people have actual friends who are reading their “musings”. Why do I call them musings–I’m being quite generous. Anyway, I do have a Twitter account with my name that I set up a couple of years ago. I haven’t used it.

I never make public Facebook posts. Rarely do I make a public Facebook comment. Why not? I’ve used this “privacy” excuse for a few years now. If I am capable of being tactful in my public comments, there’s not a good reason for me to hide. 99% of what’s posted out there is unintelligible trash. Yup, I’m a snob. Garbage. Idiotic. (Yes, “idiot” is a derogatory word. Again, I need to expand my vocabulary). So I’m doing the world a disservice by not offering my spellbinding insights.

I constantly compare myself to the smartest and most accomplished people I meet, and those I don’t meet but make presumptions about. I constantly do this, and it constantly makes me feel like shit. I’m always working on this. How I break out of this is not the point of my bringing it up. I bring this up because I’m so afraid to take public stands on anything because I am too aware of my the shortcomings of my knowledge. Who am I to weigh in when I know I’m not fully-informed? Well, I’m like ALMOST everyone else.

Ok, where is this going? It doesn’t have to go anywhere. I’m just typing. Just getting thoughts down, which feels pretty great, actually. I write in a private journal all the time, and these thoughts have been going into a void for quite awhile. For reasons of basic common sense, this, whatever this is…will it even be “Toastiest” in a week or two or three months from now…not going to substitute for my private journal.

So…still meta-blogging. No real topic at hand.

Thoughts on my dog Herman’s death? Not right now.

Grad school? Not right now.

Improv? I never write about improv.

So many topics…so many thoughts…swirling about all the time, but never landing anywhere. Perhaps they’ll start landing “here” again. We’ll see.

Let’s see if I can get six hours of sleep. That will an impressive feat.

One of the reasons I’m reluctant to write this is because I don’t want comments with suggestions on “how” I should get more sleep or deal with problem X. I’m not looking for advice. I don’t know if I want any feedback at all. Honestly…and you can take offense if you want…I won’t lie and say “don’t take offense”…most of the comments I get when I offer up anything serious in either here or in a Facebook post are not particularly helpful, and by that, they’re not even supportive. The intention may be to support me, but there is usually a tone-deafness to what my main point was. Someone seizes upon an off-hand remark I make in the course of my stream-of-consciousness that is beside the point. So please keep this in mind. The only thing worse than not expressing yourself is expressing yourself and not being understood.

Ok, I’m really done for tonight.

Toastiest Exists

For what purpose, I know not. I keep a private journal, and I was tired of the same default WordPress theme, which I had been staring at for a couple of years. So I switched to this minimalist Syntax theme. Even though I spent a lot of time over the years working on customizing my own themes, this is not an activity I have much of an interest in doing going work.

I do have an interest in free-form writing. I have the same privacy concerns as always. I’ll never be able to decouple my name from this blog because of a couple of links that are out there, and my feelings on that change from time to time.

It would have been nice to have chronicled this grad school experience.

Thoughts on my endless career purgatory.

Thoughts on all of my endless purgatories.

Thought on the life and death of my beloved puppy. Who doesn’t at least blog about that? Me. For now.

So…nothing to say, but the blog still exists. And I haven’t censored anything from the last 10 years, so there’s still plenty of brutally raw stuff out there if you go back beyond the last couple of years of mostly pet and music posts. Not that I’m inviting anyone to look or presuming that anyone would look.

Grad school Pt. 3

That paper that kicked my ass last weekend…I’m relieved to find that my instructor did find that I strayed off-topic and didn’t directly answer the prompt. 94.

First three weeks of online discussion participation…which I do think I sucked at, but my definition of suck is apparently getting 100.

And then there was the first assignment I got the 100 on.

So I’ve got a 97 going after 3 weeks.

I don’t need to try harder.

Meanwhile, a three-month process which found me looking into a significant employee change came to a conclusion today. There will be no change. To quote a friend, this whole situation was “really f*cking goofy.” Oh, sorry friend, that wasn’t the exact quote. Ive embellished.

One consequence of that goofy situation dragging out for three #*($()*#$ months was that I had to make a decision about grad school without knowing how that goofy situation was going to play out. In light of the goofy’s situation’s resolution, I think I’ve made the right call with this grad school thing…for now.