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Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Futility of Arguing with Idiots

Recently I read an article that I partially agreed with, regarding feminism.  I disagreed with a couple of points, and made my comments accordingly.  To make a long story short, the guy was apparently mortally offended.  He called me a self-seeking monster, which to me says:  A)  His English isn't very good, and B)  He was threatened by me in some way and was incapable of carrying on an intelligent debate without resorting to name-calling.  Now, he was from a place where women do not speak up to their men, so there was a lot of that "How dare you presume to speak to your betters that way?" in his responses.  Once he resorted to name-calling, however, I ended the conversation.  I told him I would not be continuing with it, as there isn't much point.

I really will never understand why men think they're so much better than a women in the first place.  If we weren't fully capable, there would be no female doctors, lawyers, or fighter pilots.  We've proven through time that we are quite capable of doing pretty much anything, particularly anything involving use of the brain.  We don't usually have the brawn to do certain things, unless we really work at it, but that's part of life.  Men can't have babies, so we're even.

Back to my point, however.  This person continues to try to argue with me, despite my statement that I would no longer be posting comments to him.  He's written three comments towards me since then, and as insulting as they might be I actually am not bothered by them.  It's that old, "Look where it's coming from," kind of thing.  He obviously wanted to have the last word, which is a compulsion I share to some extent, but I also know the futility of it.  I actually learned how to let go of an argument during my last marriage, as there really isn't any way to win.  Even if you make your point, both parties still feel bad.

In my experience with this man's culture, I've noticed a tendency toward belligerence in the males, which I presume is due to their belief that they're superior to women, and are the supreme beings on this planet.  There's also an argumentative/confrontational attitude, which I have to wonder about.  Maybe I'm wrong, but in this culture there is a lot of arguing just in their daily life, so maybe that's where it comes from.  They don't go to a grocery store, the way we do in North America.  They go to marketplaces and haggle with the proprietors over the price.  Every time they buy anything there's a negotiation, and I find that they seem to enjoy it, so maybe it's nothing more than a habit to them.

I'm used to seeing a price tag, and paying accordingly.  Occasionally there's a reason to haggle, such as damage to the merchandise, or the manager gives you a deal because the salesperson was rude to you, but it's not how we normally conduct our day-to-day business.  People who negotiate and "do deals" are working in corporate mergers and acquisitions, that sort of thing.  You can haggle over the price of a car or a house, but the negotiations are usually conducted civilly, or through a representative.  There are no insults exchanged.  Hell, if a salesperson is rude to you, you go to a different dealership or agent.

No, an argument is not the same thing as haggling here.  You might insult the quality of someone's grapes, or talk about the rust on the car to get the price down, but you don't usually insult them personally.  From my understanding of this other culture, however, insults are traded with amazing regularity.  I'm not saying it's a bad culture.  I'm saying it's different.

The funny thing is, my daughter and I have that kind of relationship where we trade insults, and neither of us takes it seriously.  We call each other a bitch rather frequently, but we both consider that a compliment.  All that means to us is that we don't let others walk all over us.  She actually wears a shirt that says, "If you think I'm a bitch, you should meet my mother".  I thought it was hilarious.  We have a comfort level between us that allows for that kind of thing, but it's also very rare.  Her friends have commented on how great our relationship is, which makes me feel pretty good.  We spend a lot of time together, and we don't fight very often.  Once a year maybe?  Even then it doesn't tend to last very long, and it's not particularly bad.

Even considering my relationship with my daughter, and the whole trading of insults that we do, we only do that because we can.  I can't imagine insulting someone I've never met.  Sure, if you live in NYC you might flip the bird to a cab driver who came close to running you over, but I doubt most people would feel comfortable personally insulting someone who hasn't done anything to them.  I've known people who do, but they're the exception rather than the rule.

Who knows?  Maybe we Canadians really are nicer than I thought.  I always thought that was bullshit, since I never considered myself to be particularly nice.  I don't take other people's bullshit, I don't let myself get walked on or taken advantage of, and I'm pretty damn blunt about things.  Then again, I'm also perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation with someone, without resorting to name-calling or swearing.

It's not that I don't swear, because I swear a lot.  My ex said I had the mouth of a truck driver, and he's right.  I don't apologize for it either.  Still, when I'm in a setting where I should show a little decorum, I don't swear at all.  People I used to work with were shocked when I mentioned how much I swear.  Not one of them had ever heard me use profanity.  When I write I'll use the occasional word that might be considered vulgar, just to make a specific impact with something I'm saying, but it's entirely intentional.  Normally I write without the profanity.  You lose the respect of your readers otherwise, and no longer sound like someone who knows what they're talking about.  You sound illiterate and uneducated.

My ex used to have me deal with volatile situations for him, because he would always get furious and someone would wind up calling the police because he was swearing and being verbally abusive.  He's also a big guy, so he's physically intimidating to people who don't know him.  One of my best skills is cutting people down to size verbally, without ever having to swear at them or insult them.  If I did insult someone, it was more by talking down to them.  I'm not a snob when it comes to money, but I have an extensive vocabulary and I'm not afraid to use it.

This was a technique I was very fond of using with my first husband.  He wasn't all that bright, and when I was mad I'd start using words he didn't understand.  He could scream and throw tantrums if he wanted, but he'd always lose the fight because he no longer understood what I was saying.  Beside, losing your temper in a fight means you've already lost the fight.  You just don't know it yet.

So, what's my point?  Well, this is a blog so I don't really need one, but I do have one.  The point is, there is no point to arguing with someone who isn't able to debate an issue without name-calling. It doesn't matter if it's a fight with a spouse, your neighbour who planted his tree too close to your fence, or someone on the internet that disagrees with you.  There is no logic to the argument anymore, and you can't fight against illogical people.  No argument will ever be good enough to change their minds.

Of course, the reverse is true, as well.  Once someone insults me, they've lost the ability to change my mind.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Loneliness - I Just Don't Get It

I honestly can't remember the last time I felt lonely, and it makes me wonder if people misinterpret something else as loneliness.  The closest thing I feel is listless boredom.  Usually I'm just in a weird mood where I'm not really sure what it is I want to do at that moment.  I never get entirely bored, either, because I can always think of at least a hundred things I want to do in life, but I do get indecisive about what I might want to do at that particular moment.

I know there are a lot of people out there who are miserable by themselves and can't stand silence.  My former mother-in-law is like that.  She always has the TV on so there's noise in the house.  I love the silence, which is a good thing, since I've been losing my hearing for a very long time, and one day I'm supposed to become deaf.  If I hated the silence I would find that to be a much bigger problem.

Most people who can't stand silence, though, are people who can't live with their own thoughts.  People who need to find another romantic partner right after their last relationship failed, are usually people who have a big hole inside them that they're trying to fill with something.  The problem is, there is no external way to fill that hole.  That kind of thing needs to be healed internally, or we try to fill it with people, relationships, drugs, eating, and/or alcohol.

The hole that needs to be filled, if we aren't doing something to self-medicate, usually leaves us feeling edgy and restless.  There was a time in my life when I felt that way, and I remember thinking I was lonely more than once in my life, so I know how it feels to live that way, but now I question my own perception of loneliness, just as I question it of others.  Was I really lonely?  Or was I just afraid to face myself and needed to provide my own distraction?

When it's completely quiet and we're left with our own thoughts, at that point we're stuck listening to our conscience as well.  Maybe we've done things that don't really sit too well with our hearts.  Maybe we've had a confrontation with someone that made us feel a bit shaky.  Most people reach for the remote and immerse themselves in thoughtless entertainment for a while, or they pour a glass of wine, toke a joint, etc.  It's escapism, pure and simple.

We are not accustomed to hearing our own thoughts these days.  Too often they're drowned out by everything else, until you suddenly have so many thoughts crowded into your head you can't begin to deal with them.  I've always had a problem with sleep for that reason.  I mean, I don't sleep well at night anyway, and usually sleep during the day.  However, there have been many times in my life where I haven't been able to sleep for days at a time.

The way my head works, I have to read before sleeping or I simply won't fall asleep.  Occasionally that's not true, but it doesn't happen often that I'll just drop off to sleep without distracting my brain with a book.  If I just close my eyes, and I'm not already on the verge of crashing, my thoughts will start circling like airplanes around an airport in a snowstorm.  I run through the same thoughts over and over, and sleep will not come.

So, it goes without saying that I'm not completely mentally healthy or sleeping probably wouldn't be an issue for me.  However, I still feel pretty good about the state of my mental health.  These days I'm having to read a lot less before sleeping, and I'm getting better at shutting my thoughts off when they do pop into my head.  I have fewer problems and stresses in my daily life, which helps, although a lot of people would think I should be miserable the way I have to live.

What seems low-stress to me would be high-stress for many others.  The fact that I feel better when I'm not around people is part of that.  I don't get cabin fever at all, even though I don't leave my home for weeks at a time, sometimes months.  Part of that is because I'm not really supposed to walk around due to the damage walking will do to my hip joints before they're surgically repaired.  Anyone who likes to socialize, or just be out somewhere, doing something, would hate my life.  I'm not the type of woman who likes to shop, or get together with friends, and pretty much everything I like doing is a solitary activity that would only be spoiled by the addition of people.

You know, I find it's a lot like the whole travelling thing.  Most people love to travel, and want to go all over the world.  I don't.  It's quite possible it's because I did a lot of travelling as a child.  Not just for vacationing, but because I was a competitive figure skater/highland dancer/pianist.  I was constantly travelling for my competitions.  I have hundreds of collectible pins I bought from the places I competed.  I've been all over Canada and the US, and I frankly got sick of it.  It's also a lot more trouble than it's worth to me.  Dealing with all the headaches of travel, especially when you have very little money, ruins the trip for me.

When it comes to socialization, it's the same deal.  I spent my whole childhood surrounded by people.  I had almost no time alone, and no time off from the gruelling schedules involving training and competition.  I was also known by nearly everyone in the small town I lived in, due to my regular appearance in the newspaper, so even walking down the street I always had someone stopping to talk to me.  These days, living in a city where I'm anonymous, I get stopped for a totally different reason that has nothing to do with me.  I only get stopped when I'm walking my ferrets, and believe me I always get stopped.  It's one thing I don't mind at all, though.  I could talk about 'my boys' days and night, although I try not to, and I'm okay when the focus isn't on me.  I'm not shy, but I am intensely private.

So, no I really don't get loneliness, but I totally get Garbo when she said, "I vant to be alone..."

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Factoids, Brains, Deities and Blogging

I guess you could say that I'm writing this blog because I actually have nothing to say.  I've discovered that if I do have something to say I can often turn it into an article, and once I've done that there really isn't anything  left for me to say.  Conversely, the more articles I write, the more inspired I am, and the more ideas I get for additional articles, but it sure doesn't help with the blogging.

I could talk about my personal experiences, but I'll be honest and say I don't have much of a life these days, and if something actually happens it's usually not something I want to share.  Often what happens to me is so boring I can't imagine anyone else being the least bit interested in it, because even I'm not.  My life is not a party.  I'm not particularly social - okay I'm not the least bit social, except in an internet sort of way.  I stay at my end of the information superhighway, and my friends stay at theirs.

Even people I have known for many years, in person, I don't actually talk to anywhere but on the computer.  They all have much more interesting lives than mine, I'm sure, although I wouldn't want to trade places with them.  The last thing I want is what other people consider to be an interesting life.  Interesting implies dramatic tension of some sort.  Interesting implies a lot of things that aren't particularly interesting to me.  Go figure.

I know people don't really want to read about the ten-millionth cute thing one of my ferrets has done that day.  It's a subject I love the expound upon, but I know people have their limits.  I don't blame them.  I don't want to hear how adorably Fido ate his kibble that morning either.  I have less patience than most people, actually, so I'm acutely aware of the patience limits of others.  In other words, they'll put up with more from me than I ever would from them.  I'm also blunt/honest to a fault, usually, although I try not to be too mean about it, and that's not a good combination with a lack of patience.

An interesting day for me, in a good sense, is when I learn new things.  I spend a lot of time doing research on pretty much anything that pops into my head.  I learn little factoids that I think of as interesting, but I know no one else will share my enthusiasm.  At least, not anyone I know on a personal level.  Instead I can write an article about it, and people will find it if they're interested in that particular topic.

Most people don't care that a butterfly is really only a type of moth, and that there's not actually a classification for them.  People just started calling them butterflies because they were prettier than the other moths.  They don't really care that the reason you're not supposed to handle their wings is because what seems like powder to our fingers are actually tiny little scales that break away from the wings and do not grow back, so eventually they can't fly.  You're either into bugs or you're not, generally speaking.

People don't often concern themselves with facts such as there being no such thing as a weed.  Weeds are simply plants like any other.  Some are considered weeds in one area of the world, where in others they're considered to be of great use.  There is no scientific definition of a weed.

I actually find that most people don't even care that they're inadvertently causing the early demise of their own pets by giving them the crap sold at grocery stores.  Cats and ferrets are carnivores, requiring a diet of meat and fat only, with no grains or vegetables.  With ferrets the pieces of vegetables in commerical pet foods can actually lodge in their tiny intestines and kill them within hours.  With cats it takes a lot longer, but the results are just as sad.

Until something happens to create an interest in a particular topic, such as losing a beloved pet due to improperly meeting their dietary needs, or seeing a beautiful moth/butterfly and getting a sudden urge to know more about it, most people happily go through their days not wanting to hear anything about either topic.  On a personal front it makes things difficult for me socially, because I spend my time actively learning.  It's an unusual personality quirk.  I get a bug up my butt about something, and simply have to know more.

Today I did some research on Houdini, because I've read conflicting information regarding his death.  I learned he actually died of peritonitis secondary to a ruptured appendix.  It is now believed he would have died with or without the blows to his abdomen from a McGill University student.  I remember reading somewhere that he'd died during his 'buried alive' trick, but obviously that was an urban myth.  Probably somewhere along the lines of Catherine the Great dying while attempting intercourse with a horse.  Totally not true that she died that way, but that's not to say she didn't live through an attempt as she was apparently a randy little thing.  I didn't learn that today, but several years ago when I was bitten by that little bug.

I'm not sure what it is about me that I need to keep feeding my brain, where other people seem to level off in their ability to absorb information, or their interest in doing so.  Okay, most people not only level off, they tend to run away screaming as if they're bleeding from their ears.  Open-mindedness disappears in most people as they age.  They get set in their ways, I guess.  Then again, I'm certainly set in my own ways, and part of those ways are the interests I develop continuously.

I'll never understand why people lose their ability to see and marvel at the mysteries of the world.  The more I learn about it, the more amazing it all seems to me.  In fact, if anything were to encourage me to believe in an all-powerful deity, it would be that ever-growing amazement I get from learning.  That's where the theologians, religious nutbags, and anti-evolutionist are getting it wrong, as far as I'm concerned.  The less they encourage learning, the less people are going to be amazed by the world.  The less wonder they carry around with them, the less likely they are to believe in a supreme being.

Well, crap.  So much for the blog.  Now I have another article to write.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Communication & Domestic Skills, with a Little Groundless Fear Thrown In

I was more than a little bit worried that I wouldn't be able to pick up the metaphorical pen again, and continue writing the way I had before I lost Internet access almost two months ago.  I'd spent so long not writing before I started a few months ago, that I was afraid I would go for years again, unable to produce anything, or at the very least unable to force myself past other fears and actually publish it.

Not so, as you can see.  I can happily spend many days without using my voice now, as I'm no longer the talker I used to be, but I still feel a need to write.  I'm sure there's some arrogance in there, that my opinions are necessary to the world or something, which I'm also aware consciously, simply isn't true.  There are most likely others, more skilled than I, spouting similar values, and it wouldn't hurt the world one bit for me to keep my screen blank.  Still, what's that phrase about whispers turning into a roar of discontent?  If it's not just one person spouting the opinion, it eventually becomes a group.  Minds may not be changed over to your argument, but people can be more courageous about voicing their opinions in a group if they agree with what you're saying.

At one time I was the quintessential talker, though.  I wanted to talk about everything, and to pretty much anyone.  In relationships I was always the one saying, "We need to talk", and now I live in fear of hearing those words.  That's probably why I can't see myself in another relationship again.  Even 'friends with benefits' runs the risk of relationship discussion, and I'm just not up for it.  Hell, chance encounters in a bar run that risk, too.  For some reason I attract the relationship type.  Even guys who are known for being footloose and fancy-free will change their tune when faced with a woman who genuinely does not want to get involved.  A woman who pretends to not want a relationship is easily disregarded, of course, as her fakery is somewhat obvious.

I shouldn't say I don't want a relationship, because there's always the off chance I will one day meet someone who fits into my life the way I need them to.  Someone who has his own life, his own friends, and doesn't need to spend a whole lot of time with me.  Someone who, with no exceptions, accepts me exactly as I am, and never ever tries to change a single thing about me.  Believe me, that is not easy to find.  There are always the complaints that you don't spend enough time with them because you're involved in, say, running a couple of businesses, or working on your book, or doing research, or just having fun playing computer games for twelve hours straight.  I can't say I blame them, as I tend to get involved in things on a near-obsessive scale, and they get left out.  I've got a million opinions, and I try to do something about all of them.

The complaints I generally hear from men who become involved with me, are the ones that men usually hear from women.  I suppose if I were a lesbian I would've expected that, but apparently men are just as vulnerable as women when it comes to that sort of thing, and their reaction tends to be more extreme because they're simply not used to dealing with those sorts of emotions.  Most often it's the woman trying to move the relationship forward.  Not so in my case.  I now have an inherent mistrust of relationships, and would be the first one to say, "Let's just see where this goes".  Never will a man hear the words, "What are you thinking?" coming from my lips, as that's a lead-in to disaster from my perspective.  He might actually tell me, and then I would have to deal with whatever emotional stuff he chooses to lay on me.

I don't bother to examine where the change in me took place, because I already know.  It was during a long-term relationship, and we did a switcheroo.  Suddenly I was emotionally unavailable after years of him being so, in reaction to his emotional unavailability.  Now I find myself enjoying the freedom and, yes, power of that state, and have no interest in giving up the edge.

The other big complaint I get from men has to do with my lack of willingness to do housework, or other so-called female things.  I hate housework, and I feel my time is better used elsewhere, so I think it's a no-brainer.  I can pay someone to clean my place for a little bit of money, and then go off and make twice that by doing what I do best.  Financially it makes the most sense to me, but most people don't have the benefit of being a former accountant and don't really understand the math.

There's also the issue of whether or not I'm 'making a home' apparently, and quite frankly I think it's a non-issue.  Aside from the feminist perspective that it's not just a woman's responsibility, a home to me is where you feel comfortable, you can be yourself, and you're among people who accept you as you are and love you for it.  A home is not something that's only a home because you work your fingers to the bone to clean it.  I suck at cleaning, admittedly, and it would take me about twelve times as long to do a job as it would take for a professional, thereby wasting even more time and money.  I'm allergic to a lot of cleansers, too, so that doesn't help.

I doubt very much that there's a man out there for me.  I'm not the least bit picky when it comes to money or looks, so you would think that would open up the field a bit for me, but it really doesn't.  Even men who think they have no pre-conceived notions about what a woman should or shouldn't be, most often do, and I tend to fail miserably there.  I'm apparently physically appealing, especially now that I'm almost as thin as I was in high school, but my lack of interest in traditional female roles puts me at a supposed disadvantage.

People might assume I'm complaining about all this, when in fact I'm more than a little bit pleased.  I found my last attempt at a serious relationship to be the most exhausting thing I've ever experienced, and that's even comparing it to raising a child single-handedly.  I simply don't have the energy to contribute to another one.  As they say in Lethal Weapon, "I'm too old for this shit", and I'm only 41.  Go figure.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

I'm Back!

Wow!  Moving really sucks.  For the first time in about 20 years I actually had a moving company help me, and didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting, but it was still an exhausting ordeal.  One I never want to repeat, but will be forced to do so at least once more.  Seeing as I live in an apartment, this is not what I would call a permanent residence, and I plan to buy land for building a house in a year or so.  Once I move there, I'll be rooted for life, and that will be a glorious day that I will celebrate with vast quantities of alcohol (I'm not generally a drinker - maybe once a year, or once every two years - but I'm part Irish & part Scottish so I handle it well when I do).

The moving company owner was a complete idiot, but I suppose if he were smarter he would be doing something that didn't involve heavy lifting at his age.  He didn't understand anything I said, and repeated the same misinformation over and over.  Sadly, English was his native language.  Go figure.  I despair of the education system in this country.  Canada's isn't the worst in the world, but it's certainly not the best either.  At least we don't revere stupidity as being cool.

As per my usual modus operandi I still have boxes in my living room to be unpacked, and they'll probably be there for another week or two, or maybe it's more like a month or two.  Domesticity is not my forte, to say the least.  I can cook, but everything else can go to hell.

Of course, after not using the TV for over a year while it was being stored, it crapped out on us after about two weeks.  My daughter's laptop gave up the ghost a few days before that.  Now she's sharing my laptop, which is a pain in the ass, at best, for both of us.  We're both very friendly with our respective computers, and having to live without technology of that sort is simply not an option.  She doesn't even have her PS3 as backup now, seeing as the TV is dead.  We got rid of all our tube TVs years ago, so we have no backup there.  Granted, it gives us an excuse to get a better TV than what we had, since it was a plasma with only 720p/1080i, and only had one HDMI input, no USB, etc.  The issue, of course, is lack of funds for the moment, since we just moved and that completely wiped us out yet again.  It's a good thing TVs are fairly inexpensive now, but any computer worth buying won't be quite so cheap.

Did I mention that I hate moving?  If things don't break from being dropped, they decide they don't like the new place & die an ignominious death.  Oh well.  At least I'm back online, and can start making money again.  Time to shore up the financial reserves.