Not a thing to say

The title pretty much sums it up. I mean, there’s a lot I COULD say, but there’s nothing I WANT to say.

I could comment on the two men in Connecticut who raped and murdered three out of four members of a family, while leaving the fourth on life support. But I won’t.

I could comment on the London man who was shot twice for asking some other men to stub out a cigarette at a nightclub, where smoking is banned. But I won’t.

I could comment on the phenomenon that is “Potter-mania”. But I won’t.

I could comment on the British Columbia government’s continuing gutting of our health care system. But I won’t.

I could comment on the seemingly never-ending reports of suicide bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. But I won’t.

You see, there’s just so much that’s completely f*cked up in the world, that I’m at a bit of a loss. Has society grown too big for itself? It seems that even with all the communications technology available, we are in many ways worse off than before. It’s easier than ever for messages of ignorance and hate to spread rapidly. It’s not often that we see hopeful and positive messages on the Internet.

I suppose this is partly the function of the media, which interprets the best “news” as reports of death, calamity, or crime.

This is partly why I stopped subscribing to newspapers. It’s not a desire to bury my head in the sand, but more a general sense of disgust with the stories that the media consider newsworthy.

In this day of blogs, podcasts, and YouTube, everyone has the power to be a journalist. Unfortunately, 99.99% of people are repeating the mistakes of the mainstream media with inane, mundane, and pointless repetitions of things that are only relevant because some other person says it is.

I guess my point is this: we have the tools available to us for positive change, but we continue to use them without thought or care. Rather than embracing the possibilities, we limit ourselves to seeing these tools as various ways to obtain entertainment and diversion.

I guess I did have something to say after all.

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Work #2

A bad job is one where you see no further hope of learning anything new, and where you feel that you’re no longer making a positive contribution. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think a bad job is one where your boss is an ass, or your co-workers are incompetent, or the work itself is horrible. All of these are symptoms of a bad job, but they’re not the reasons the job is bad.

One of the reasons I work is to improve myself. I want to learn new things so that I can better prepare myself for whatever may happen in the future. I also want to do work that’s helping other people in some way, whether it be through selling them a product or providing a service. This not only boosts my self-esteem, but it also gives me a reason to go to work every day.

Without these elements, the bad boss, co-workers, and/or work are highlighted. Not only are you not getting anything out of the job for yourself, but other factors are driving your job satisfaction down. That’s when it’s time to find a new job – when you’re no longer able to identify benefits to staying on.

So a bad job can be found anywhere. That guy driving a Porsche and making $150,000 a year could be stuck in a job that he sees no future in and derives no enjoyment from. It’s not obvious to the casual observer that his job sucks since he has all the trappings of success.

At the same time, the cashier working at a McJob may consider that she’s in a good job because she’s learning about customer service, inter-personal communications, and being part of a team. Sure, the pay’s low, the customers surly, and the food crap, but she knows that she’s improving herself for the job market later on.

I think a bad job is what you make of it. If you’re able to find positives in the work, then you’re obviously learning something of use. Take as much as you can if you’re in this position to ready yourself for a new job. Only when you’re no longer anything new is it time to quit.

But you know, having said all this, I recognize that sometimes it’s not humanly possible to tolerate the rantings of an insane manager or the ramblings of inane co-workers for any length of time. The delineations of a bad job are fluid, and the all depend on your personal tolerances. Ultimately, if you can’t take it any more, that’s probably the time to look for a new job.

Work

Why do people work? What is it that makes someone go to a place everyday to do a job that they don’t really like doing? It has to be more than just money, right?

I don’t know about other people, but one reason to stick with a job is the people you work with. As corny as it sounds, your co-workers go a long way to helping you get through each workday. One of my previous jobs involved selling things that I wasn’t too enthused about selling. Correction. I hated selling those things.

Luckily, the people I worked with were all cool. Everyone did what they could to make work a little more inviting, whether it was bringing in baking one morning, or finishing up quickly so that we could all leave a few minutes early.

Another reason to work is the experience you gain. Unless you’re stuck in a menial job where every day is the same as the one before, there’s always something to be learned, even by doing a job you dislike. I sometimes wonder if I should have stuck it out a little longer at one of my other jobs in order to learn as much as I could. I disliked the work, but I was learning something new almost every day.

But these are just a couple things I’ve experienced. What makes you go to work everyday? And the people who have jobs they love, please chime in as well. I’d love to hear any and all reasons for working.

Travel

I can’t understand people who don’t want to travel. They say they’re happy where they are, that they don’t need to go somewhere else to have fun. In my opinion they miss the point.

Sure, many people travel purely have to have fun. The gaggles of students that hit Florida beaches each year can attest to this, as can the European party-goers who mob Ibiza (or whatever the cool spot is now) and its clubs.

But I think fun, while an important reason to travel, is almost incidental when you consider everything else that comes with the experience.

I think that, while it’s cliched to say it, travelling really is an eye-opener. It places you in a different culture and forces you consider yourself as a stranger in that place. Unless you’re a completely self-centred boor (and we know there are plenty of these types of travellers), you’re going to try to respect the customs of this culture. You’re forced to take a step back to realize the enormousness of the world.

At the same time you realize how much like you the people in that other culture are. Like you, they have the same basic needs, but they also love their children, care about their communities, and want to live a life within the bounds of their laws. We may be separated by distance, language, and customs, but in the end, all people are human beings.

You can learn so much from other people when you travel, including other travellers you meet along the way. Travellers are usually more than happy to share their thoughts and ideas about cool places to go and interesting sites to see. Oftentimes this is how you’ll hear about things that are off the usual tourist routes. Some of the best friendships are made with other travellers. The act of sharing an experience in a foreign place creates a bond because it’s a common anchor that roots the friendship.

I used to not like travelling: too much hassle, expensive, and boring. Since then, I’ve had opportunities to travel with friends and on my own, and I’ve come to realize that hassles can be planned for, expenses can be controlled by staying in hostels and eating where the locals eat, and boredom can be overcome by simply talking to people and finding out what there is to do.

I can’t imagine life without travel – as much as I love Vancouver, I have to leave it every now and then. I have to see what else is out there.

Buying A Home In Vancouver

My parents bought the house they live in, the one I grew up in, about 26 years ago. Back then, the price they paid for the house was pretty typical, about $200,000. Recent government property assessments have put the value of their house in the neighbourhood of $700,000. Realistically speaking, they could sell their house for $800,000+.

I think it’s great that their main asset has appreciated so much. It’s something they can use to their advantage when they retire in about a decade or so.

But where does the situation of ever-increasing house prices leave first-time homebuyers? Housing prices in Vancouver are sky-high right now, and they’re probably not going to drop anytime soon. Coupled with this is the fact that first-time homebuyers tend to earn less money than the national average because they’re younger and have less job experience.

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Write Like Your Life Depended On It!

Sometimes one post leads to another, and thus my procrastination post has spawned this one about writing.

It’s not easy to write. Even if you’ve been doing it for 20+ years (counting all my schooling of course – I’m not that old yet!) like I have, it can still be difficult to find those words.

Anyone can write about anything if they have the choice, but the difficulty comes when you’re either given a topic or must decide on a topic for a specific audience. Usually I’ve got a ton of things to say about what I know, but when it comes to something like a music review, I’ll write 100 words before I’m stuck. I can appreciate a good music review, and I like reading the occasional one that’s well-written, but I have no clue how to write a good one.

Writing is the feel you, as a writer, have for the subject material. If you are unsure of your subject, this will shine through in your article. No matter how much you try to hide it, your lack of knowledge will be displayed by your word choice, turns of phrase, and sentence structure.

So what can you do about this? Simply put, one of the only ways to get better at writing is to read. Sure, you can practice your writing with blogs and journals and what not, but if you don’t read good writing, you’ll have no idea how to write well.

I’ve expanded my reading beyond the usual sci-fi and fantasy I love to include historical fiction, contemporary fiction, creative non-fiction, and just about anything I can get my hands on. I don’t know a book is going to be a good read when I pick it up, but I figure if I can pick out the parts I don’t like, then I’ll know what to avoid when I write.

Try to pick up a newspaper, magazine, book, or whatever, everyday. Read something other than your textbook. Spend at least half an hour doing this. You’ll be amazed how quickly your vocabulary and writing will improve.

Oh, and make sure that you read something you enjoy. There’s nothing more irritating and discouraging than forcing yourself to read something that you find boring and dry. Like a textbook.

Reading? Redding?? Reeding???

Do people still read these days? Do people even have the time to read? Are books being phased out by the Internet?

Answers: Yes, probably no, and I hope to hell not.

People do still read these days, but what are they perusing? Magazines still continue to be very popular, with hundreds starting up and going defunct every year. Books seem to be doing okay, though conversations would seem to indicate that fewer people are reading books.

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