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Category Archives: personal anecdote

I have had the most exciting summer in years. To the untrained eye I appear to be a slack-jawed and lifeless form on the couch. But in reality I am deep in philosophical thought. I finally had the chance to rewatch the Matrix trilogy and go WOOOOAH DUDE! Do I dare to project my stereotypical nerdiness out into the world? The Matrix has once again turned me onto philosophy. I fell down the rabbithole and took the blue pill (or was it the red pill?) or was I just dreaming?

I know it is a ridiculous nerd cliche to have this movie make you think really hard about the nature of reality but you just can’t stop me from going there, so there I go. If you can’t handle it you can take the blue pill and wake up or just hit the back button on your browser and escape my insane ramblings.

The first time I saw this movie it was late at night and I was by myself. I was just looking for a bit of fluffy scifi fun. Being naive I thought the Matrix would fit the bill. Wrong! The scene where Neo takes the red pill and gets unplugged and sees the world as it really is freaked me out so bad. What a powerful metaphor! Nobody sees the world as it really is and waking up is scary and painful so just stay asleep. How would I feel if I saw the world as it really is instead of the way that I want it to be?

Just think about what Morpheus says to Neo, “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”

Isn’t that true of every sentient being on the planet? Everybody was born into bondage and we are all slaves. We had no choice in the really important decisions in our lives. We don’t get to choose our names, genders, ages, birthplace, family of origin or socioeconomic status. Or even whether to be born at all. As a living breathing sentient being you are a slave to your biological impulses. You have to eat, sleep, and breathe. In order to meet those needs you have to have a place to live and food to eat. Which means you have to find a group of humans to live with and have your needs met. There is no easy way out of this mess. Being born creates an obligation to stay alive which necessitates making certain choices. Those choices are very limited but they do exist. You could avoid all this nonsense and just kill yourself but that would create a huge burden to all the people who have to take over your responsibilities when you die. Suicide is not a realistic choice.

We are slaves to our biology and to the wider society. We can choose which occupation to follow. But we can’t opt out of earning a living. We can choose who to marry or to stay single. But we do not get to choose our sexuality. We have to make peace with it and express it in a socially approved way. Even if you are homeless you still spend a large amount of your time fulfilling your physical needs. We can’t yet choose to be pulsating blobs of happiness. We have to be a part of the world to survive. When we are born we are plugged into the matrix. There are so  many systems that we are plugged into that we had no choice about. You are attached to all the other humans, sentient beings and the environment.

That’s just talking about physical needs. What about all of the ways that your mind is enslaved? We have no say in the way our society is structured. I didn’t choose the government, the education system, the language, family structure or the national anthem. All of these things had nothing to do with me. I have been taught to see the world in a certain way. I like to think I am an intelligent and well-read person but I am merely repeating memes that I learned from the wider environment. My views are so biased that I can’t even see how biased they really are.

Just think about the ways that families are structured. We usually think of the family as containing parents and their children. The base of a family is a couple. We take it as a given that people will come of age and form a pair bond as a foundation for a new family. We are slowly coming around to the idea that there are different ways to make up a family. We have hetero couples and gay couples and single parents. But there is still the idea lingering that a married couple – the nuclear family – is the preferred foundation for a family. There are many other ways people could structure their families but this is the one that is dominant. We just accept that and don’t question it. Why not live in small communes or families with three or four parents? Our society is structured around nuclear families. Our tax forms force us to define our families. Common-law? Married? Single? Divorced? The nuclear family mindset is so engraved that we don’t even think about it.

There is no possible way to be free. The idea is laughable. The only thing we can do is make the best choices we can.

This is why I love this movie so much. It makes you think about these things.

This was supposed to be a movie review but it is turning into some philosophical ramblings. So here you go. This was inspired by Stacy’s book review.

Everybody is against bullying. Parents post pictures on Facebook of their kid standing on a street corner holding a sign stating “Shame on me for being a bully”. It makes me sad that they do not recognize that public humiliation is a form of bullying. We have pink t-shirt campaigns and we spend a lot of time campaigning against bullying. In the same way that we Just Say No to drugs, we Just Say No to bullies. Thankfully the kind of abuse I endured and perpetrated as a small child is not tolerated as readily anymore. Gone are the days when kids would facewash their classmates in snow with the full confidence that nothing would be done about it. I do believe that our society has become much less violent and abusive. But the anti-bullying campaigns have been partly misguided.

The emphasis should be on reflecting on your own personal behavior and making amends for any kind of bullying that you may have done in the past. The problem with the majority of anti-bullying campaigns is that they point fingers outward at other people rather than getting people to think about they act. Nobody can control the way that other people behave. The only person I have control of is myself. It is reminiscent of anti-rape campaigns that focus on getting victims to change their behavior to avoid being targeted. While it is true that taking common sense safety precautions is a sensible idea, it will not do anything to eliminate the cause of rape. Rape is caused by somebody making a choice to violently violate and hurt the victim. Bullying is caused by people choosing to engage in harmful behavior. They may lack the self awareness of the harm caused by their behavior. Admitting your mistakes is very hard to do but extremely valuable. Every sentient being wants the same thing. We all want to be happy and free of pain. If you hurt somebody you also hurt yourself.

The main reason why bullying in all its forms continues to manifest in all its different ways is due to its pervasiveness. We are so immersed in a culture that ignores and perpetuates bullying that we don’t even see it. That is why teaching people to change their own behavior is so important. The first step towards living in a kinder, gentler world is getting everybody to recognize all the ways that people continue to hurt each other. A parent reacts to a child’s tears by yelling at them. The child learns that it is the way to treat problems that you don’t want to deal with. Why is Gordon Ramsay so popular? Because a lot of people secretly wish they had the nerve to say the mean and horrible things that they are thinking. Buy nurturing mean thoughts towards people ultimately hurts yourself.

A few months ago I went through a period of intense reflection about my life. I have been hurt badly by loved ones. As a part of the healing process I have managed to forgive those that have hurt me. I have also given a great deal of thought to some of the ways that I have hurt people in the past and I have resolved to do my best to never hurt another person ever again. Ever since I did that I have felt happier and more at peace than I have ever been before. Resolving to be as loving as I can has really made my life so much better. If I can do it than anybody can do it.

I know that my legions of worshiping fans have been waiting breathlessly for me to write a post about my fitness journey. Wait no more my friends! I am here to serve you. Here is a previous fitness post, just in case you are interested.

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I laugh at the sentimental nineties kids. Do they not remember how much it sucked? I don’t miss them one bit. No facebook, twitter, cell phones, tumblr, just shitty reruns on the staticky satellite on the Disney channel. Or farm TV with three channels, CBC, CTV and the French channel. If you needed to call and you were out and about you had to use a payphone. If you didn’t have a quarter you were SOL. Computers were glorified typewriters that you could write papers with and play Oregon Trail if you were lucky. The mile-high, stiff, hair-sprayed hair. The atrocious fashions that were like a rainbow that threw up. Getting your news from the television. Using landlines to talk to your friends or actually having to get off the couch and walk to their house. I had to go outside and ride my bike for entertainment. You can only skip so many snakes at the local watering hole before you get bored to tears. People that miss the nineties are fools, fools I tell you! The only thing I miss is blaring MC Hammer and 2live crue to annoy the hell out of my parents and convince them that kids these days will grow up to be miscreants and ne’er do wells. Hammer pants were comfortable even if they were a fashion nightmare. Can you believe that my dad wore hammer pants? I guess I can’t fault him for that. I thought I looked pretty good in my jean skirt and Hawaiian scenery shirt.

Open source energy is one of those things that I can’t help getting excited about, even though it only exists in my head. Let’s say somebody comes up with a truly amazing way to make electricity out of sunbeams. It is made out of everyday household items. You could disassemble the broken junk you didn’t enough pay money more from Wal-Mart and use it build the sunbeam-to-electricity machine. Now imagine if the plans for this machine were drawn up, spread over the internet and saved on many hard drives. Let’s suppose also that we printed it up in a book named Open Source Energy and put copies of it in every hotel room, prison cell and hospital room. The authors of this work would give this technology away for free and we put a stop to many of the problems in this world. Perhaps we could reverse climate change and we could have winter again. We could stop paying for fuel at the pump and deprive a lot of people of money. It seems to me to be an excellent idea. Now if only somebody had invented this magic machine.

I absolutely love buying and selling things online. It’s a good way to make some money getting rid of things you don’t really need. I have bought and sold everything from vehicles to phones to clothes and horse tack. Ok the horse tack is what my kid purchased not me. Anyway there are some tricks to bargaining that will help you get the best price and scoop up the best deals.

Posting ads

1. Mark the price up ten to twenty percent higher than you think the item is worth.

2. Never accept an offer below your first price in the first week. Some people will offer you a super low price right after posting the ad because you might be looking to get rid of the item ASAP.

3. After a week or so drop your price and accept lower offers. Unless you have a lot of patience. If you wait it out somebody might come along and buy your item. But then again maybe not.

4. Delete your ad after you sell. It’s annoying replying to an ad for an item that has already been sold.

5. Always post an asking price. If you don’t people will send you ridiculous low-ball offers. You won’t get what you want.

6. Always post a photo. Ads with photos get way more hits.

Shopping for stuff

1. Offer about ten to twenty percent off the asking price. Everybody on kijiji does this. That’s why you post it higher than you think the item is worth. This is especially true if the ad has been up for a few weeks. They may have low interest in their item and they may really want the item gone and will take a lower offer.

2. Always respond to ads without photos. Everyone ignores those ads because they are risky but often those are the best items.

3. Use the watch list. If you are sending a lot of email it can be hard to keep track of who you have been in contact with.

General tips

1. Remember that an item is worth exactly as much as someone is willing to pay for it. Compare the prices posted of similar items to determine what you should pay.

2. You buy as is. If it breaks you’re out of luck. No refunds no guarantees.

3. Be careful. It’s a good idea to meet at someone’s house. It shows they have nothing to hide.

4. If its too good to be true be aware. It could be stolen. Let me know if I missed anything. I think that about covers it. Happy shopping!

As I always do, I spent a significant amount of my summer pursuing my various hobbies. This year I helped build a house, painted four rooms in my own house, and started going to Zumba class. I also spent a lot of time doing sweet nothing and staring into the nearest computer or iPad screen. Good times! Read More »