Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Campaigning for Ballot Measures

As we approach elections next week there is a ballot measure which has been severely underexposed in my opinion. In Utah County it is on the ballot as an "Opinion Question". In Salt Lake County it is "Proposition 3". I have no idea how it has been publicized in Salt Lake County, but here we are one week before election day and I have not heard nearly enough about it here in Utah County. I saw a brief article about it at KSL.com yesterday (less than 125 words long) but besides that I have only seen a couple of signs and I got a letter from my mayor on Saturday about the issue.

The subject of the opinion question is funding to expand the commuter rail system in Salt Lake County into Utah County. I am happy to see that everything so far has been in favor of the question. What disappoints me is that so little has been said. I would not be very surprised to learn that the letter from the mayor was the first thing many people had heard about this issue. I even signed up to post a yard sign in favor of the issue, but I have yet to receive a response. We need to find a way to get more information to the voters early enough for people to make informed decisions at the ballot box.

Update 11/8/2006: Here are the results of the elections. The Opinion Question passed but maybe not for the right reasons.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Running: Milestone 1

I had to take some time off running for a bit when I got sick, but I got back on my training schedule and met a milestone today. Saturday I had a 4 mile workout which is a normal distance so far. Today was another 4 miler but unlike every previous run I did not walk a single step.

When I had done three mile workouts I was running 2 1/2 miles and then walking for a bit before finishing at a run. When I started 4 milers I ran 3 or 3 1/4 then walked and then finished running.

On Saturday I increased my pace and it wore me out. That is why today's run was so surprising. I ran at the faster pace - about the pace I hope to run for my marathon. I decided early in the run to go at least 3 1/4 miles before walking.

At about 2 1/2 miles I decided not to walk before 3 1/2 miles.

At 3 miles I thought, "I could possibly run the whole distance."

At the 3 1/4 mile mark I committed to run the whole way. The really amazing thing was that at 4 miles I still had energy. I'm sure I could have gone another 1/4 mile without walking.

Blogging or Thinking

I made a little discovery yesterday about the pattern of when I post to my blog and when I don't. It comes down to the "Time Matrix" discussed in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. The time matrix suggests that all activities and concerns can be broken down into four quadrants. Quadrants one and two are labeled "important" while quadrants three and four are labeled "unimportant" Quadrants one and three are labeled "urgent" while two and four are "not urgent." The idea is that we should spend out time in quadrants one and two instead of the natural tendency to focus on quadrants one and three. Quadrant three "urgent/unimportant" is full of things that grab your attention which can be ignored, like a ringing telephone. Quadrant three is the reason we invent things like caller-id.

When I am busy thinking about things in quadrant one I tend to miss writing in my blog. I get buried in thinking about the problem at hand and do not take the time to relax and filter my thoughts through the lens of language. I missed a week when I thought I was going to be getting a very nice job because I did not want to write about the company and then have nothing come of it. I missed this weekend because I was thinking about how to address the conundrum of responding to a job offer while waiting on a second possible offer. Ideally I would be able to get both offers and make a decision. So far I have been stuck with one offer and the second employer has been delayed by some vague internal emergencies. I solved that by coming to an agreement with the first employer. We set a date for me to make a decision with or without the second offer.

So there it is. When I am not blogging, it is probably because I am stuck in quadrant one.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Senator Hatch

I found it interesting while listening to Senator Hatch's interview on RadioWest that he uses the very same arguments as to why Senator Moss should be replaced back in 1976 as I have been using to argue that Senator Hatch should be replaced in 2006. He said that Senator Moss was not representing Utah. I have said that Senator Hatch represents the GOP more than he represents Utah.

When asked about Iraq he quoted the White House line about how this was the reason that we had not had another terrorist attack since 2001. I think the only affect this has had regarding terrorist attacks is that the terrorists have another target to hit. They can attack the green zone in Baghdad and it is an attack against the US. The only thing he said about Iraq that I agree with is that he praised the men and women who have served there. The war was a mistake and we need leaders who can admit that and look for the best way forward. We do not need leaders who doggedly insist that the war was necessary but not perfect. Senator Hatch implies that the only alternative to attacking Iraq would have been to attack North Korea, Iran, or possibly Syria in place of Iraq. Apparently we desperately needed to go to war and Iraq was the target of choice.

I thought that the Senator was off base when he implied that those who criticize the war are just people who are critical of everything. ("I think that the critics are just doing what critics always do.") He fails to recognize that many of those criticizing the war are people who are generally supportive of their leaders, but who refuse to be blinded by the party line. He claims that "the liberal media criticized World War II during Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge." I'd like to see evidence of that, even though he did rattle off the names of a dozen newspapers when asked about it. If I ever do see proof of that statement, I'll compare the criticism from the 1940's with the criticism of this war - I'll bet that the criticism of the current war is much more specific and well founded - not to mention more widespread.

When I wrote about Pete Ashdown I had intended to cover the Orrin Hatch interview from a neutral perspective. After listening to the interview I no longer wish to do so. Senator Hatch seems more and more to represent the GOP rather than Utah. He doesn't even talk about the concerns of our state - he talks about the concerns of conservatives. I recognize that Utah is a conservative state, but when coupled with statements like, "we didn't have to attack Iraq, we could have attacked North Korea, Iran, or Syria instead," I find it impossible to overlook the fact that we have a conservative senator or a Republican senator rather than a Utah senator. I'm voting for Pete. I think he'll represent Utah instead of representing a party.

Highlight of My Day

After being out of work for over a month, you would think that getting a good job offer yesterday would have been the highlight of my day. It wasn't. Later in the day Alyssa, my three-year-old, came in to the office to tell me that she wanted to read Hey Diddle Diddle to me. She brought her book of nursery rhymes to me. It was opened to the correct page and she stared at the picture while saying the rhyme. I'm not sure if she had memorized it or if she was reading the picture, but she got it exactly right.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Employed Again

Today I finally received a job offer. I have been expecting something soon from a number of places. The call today was from one of the two companies that I am most interested in so I can dismiss some of the less interesting possibilities out of hand if they make me any offers. I will wait to hear about my other favorite position before I make any final decision, but I am very happy to have a good offer on the table.

So technically I am not yet employed, and I can't even say for sure what job I will have, but I can say for sure that I will have a good job very soon. I expect to be at work in under 2 weeks which means that I will have been unemployed for less than 8 weeks.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Insurance Racket

I had to deal with changing health insurance today with the business office at the womens clinic that Laura goes to in preparation for our new baby. That gave me the opportunity to review prices for their services. I discovered something very disappointing. In the last year, with insurance through my work, I have paid as much in premiums (not counting what the company was supposedly paying toward the premiums) as the clinic would charge an insurance company. The only money I saved by having insurance, even with the large medical expense of having a baby, is that I am not being charged the higher prices that they charge those who don't have insurance. I don't quite understand that policy. Why should they charge more to those people who can't afford insurance? Isn't that like kicking a person while they're down?

Anyway, that's the insurance racket. My portion of the price of insurance every year is enough to pay for a major medical procedure, like 9 months of prenatal care plus delivery and a hospital stay.If we weren't having kids I'd be throwing away a new car every year in insurance premiums - and that's when the company is paying the bulk of the costs. If I were to pay for that insurance myself for three years I would have paid for a major injury - like being seriously hit by a car. If I put that money into my house instead of my insurance I would have the house paid off in 11 years from the time I bought it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I was up very early this morning talking to Laura about foundations. We were specifically talking about the foundation that we are laying for our children which will affect them throughout their lives. We also talked about the foundations that we received from our parents. As I thought more about it I recognized the foundation of our government - the Constitution. Then I remembered the words to the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" which remind me that the foundation of my faith and the faith of other Latter Day Saints, as well as the faith of Christians in general, is (and ought to be) firmly founded in the excellent word of Christ.

During the discussion this morning I realized how vital a good foundation is in any endeavor. In our lives, Laura and I have both noticed that any strength we have comes from the strength of our foundations. Wherever there was weakness in the foundations we gained during our formative years we find that we are constantly struggling to compensate while we try to fix the underlying foundational layer. It is obvious why we are so adamant about trying to give our children the strongest foundations we can give them.

My later reflections had me thinking about how the strength of our nation comes from our Constitution. Where there is weakness in our country we can generally trace the origins of that weakness either to a weakness in the Constitution (which we can fix through the amendment process) or to our society contradicting or misinterpreting the Constitution.

As for spiritual foundations, our faith can never be stronger than the foundation for that faith. Although the word of Christ is a strong foundation we must be careful that we are not contradicting that word, or misrepresenting it in our lives. If we are we will find that we cannot enjoy the true strength of that foundation.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Party Time

As I left my house this morning I noticed that someone had been to my door (and every door in the neighborhood) and left stuff. When I returned home I went to see what kind of prizes I had won. It took me about 1 second to figure out that it was the Republican Party - here's what they left:

  • Orrin Hatch - Senate
    • I have just repeated his entire message. Apparently he has nothing to say for himself - I checked both sides just to be sure I was not missing anything.
    • STRIKE 1
    • I was tempted to go around the neighborhood and remove the "Orrin Hatch" card from my neighbors' doors.
  • LaVar Christensen - 2nd Congressional District
    • All he has to say about himself is "I won't just go along to get along in Congress." Sadly, the rest of his handout is "Democrats might take over Congress and make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House." As much as I disagree with Rep. Pelosi on many issues, I am not casting my vote against her or anyone else. Too bad I know nothing about LaVar.
    • STRIKE 2
  • Ken Sumsion - district 56 (state congress)
    • Ken sounds like a nice guy who might make a good representative. I may vote for him depending on who else is running.
    • BALL 1
The moral of this story is Give me a reason to vote for you - otherwise I won't. The Republican Party almost struck out with me. We'll see if they get one more strike before November 7th.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Come November

I had fun reading in the New York Times about how various people in the Republican Party are pointing their fingers at each other regarding why they seem to have so little public support. There are certainly a wide variety of reasons for people to be disenchanted with the GOP. I think I best heard this type of situation with the party summed up something like this:

A party gets into power based on a set of goals or ideals. After staying in power for a while the only ideal left is to stay in power.

That appears to be the case here. Party leaders only want to keep the party in power while constituent groups are tired of being associated with the party while feeling like the party is no longer looking after their interests.

Although there are many causes, I think that the public lack of support is an exaggerated response to the Foley scandal. My personal views of the party are completely unaffected by this news, but I would not be surprised to learn that for many people that was the final straw. The Democrats would jump on that issue if it was all they had to work with, but there's so much more for them to address. For those who are unhappy with Iraq, the economy, immigration, or anything else, it might be enough for people to say "not this too - I'm leaving."

Whatever the results on November 7th, I hope the Republican Party wakes up and starts to focus so that when 2008 rolls around nobody can be sure of which way the election will go. That, in my opinion, is the best recipe for solid political dialog. That would be a welcome change from the meaningless political rhetoric we have been subjected to lately.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

17th Amendment

I love being invited to comment on things. In this case, I have been pointed towards an article from September of 2002 by John W. Dean on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and whether it should be repealed. As a brief reminder, the 17th Amendment changed the way that senators were selected. Originally senators were chosen by state legislators while representatives in the house were selected by direct election. That structure, and the election of the president by the electoral college are the two fundamental differences between our government and a pure democracy.

Dean suggests that the 17th Amendment, along with the 16th Amendment (legalized income taxes) were the driving forces behind the expansion of the federal government in the last century. He also points to Federalist No. 10 which suggests that the purpose of the Senate is different from the purpose of the House of Representatives. The Senate was not expected to represent the citizens of their state, but rather the government of their state. In fact, what James Madison describes for the Senate sounds more like what we might have if the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association were to come together in a governing body.

The article cites law professor Todd Zywicki from George Mason University in saying that "the true backers of the 17th amendment were special interests" who "hoped direct elections would increase their control, since [direct elections] would let [the special interests] appeal directly to the electorate, as well as provide their essential political fuel - money." Although that assessment sounds right, I cannot prove it. I can say that the change has voided any significant difference between Senators and Representatives. Now the difference is that Senators serve longer terms and do not represent a set number of constituents.

Dean concludes:

Repeal of the amendment would restore both federalism and bicameralism. It would also have a dramatic and positive effect on campaign spending. Senate races are currently among the most expensive. But if state legislatures were the focus of campaigns, more candidates might get more access with less money -- decidedly a good thing.
Zywicki adds:
Absent a change of heart in the American populace and a better understanding of the beneficial role played by limitations on direct democracy, it is difficult to imagine a movement to repeal the 17th amendment.

I agree on both counts. I believe that the founders did not structure our government as they did based on whims. They knew what they were doing and most of us do not understand what they were doing, much less why they were doing it. They allowed for amendments because they knew it would be necessary to make changes at times - I think the founders would have applauded the 14th Amendment. But I also think that it is not wise for us to use the amendment process to fundamentally change the form of government that they set up. Sadly, most citizens are not sufficiently informed to understand the differences caused by this amendment.

What Makes a Good Day?

If you are like me, you have wondered at times what kids think about different things. I wonder how they view the world around them as they try to make sense of it. I am especially curious about what they think before they get a vocabulary.

This morning as I went to get Mariah, my one year old, out of bed I realized by looking in her eyes how she decides whether a day is good or not. If she wakes up, it's a good day. She is just excited to be alive. She loves bringing happiness to everyone around her. This is not to say that she is happy 24/7, but the only time she is unhappy is when her focus on life is being distracted by more terrestrial concerns, like being hungry or tired.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Thanks to J. Max Wilson for helping me discover this commentary on academia by Orson Scott Card.

I have personally encountered theoretics in my education, especially my graduate education, and was sadly able to understand the entire course description he posted. I enjoyed Card's illumination of the cause and effects of theoretics in academia (I also enjoyed the words of Lee Smolin which Card quoted extensively). One thing that was not discussed was the facet of theoretics which makes it so hard to detect and dislodge in a timely manner - it is as hard to prove any theoretics-cloaked groupthink right or wrong as it is to prove that String Theory is right or wrong. Like String Theory, we tend to assume that the groupthink is right in the absence of conclusive evidence to the contrary (this is the benefit of doubt).

In my studies the groupthink was about concepts such as constructivism, learning objects, and simulations. Like String Theory, all of them have proven to be ethereal, and like String Theory none have managed to be the grand unifying theory that their original proponents seemed to hope.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


After three years in Iraq (and three years worth of news and commentary on Iraq) I just had a new thought on the situation this morning. What would happen if we left Iraq now?

I am not an advocate of cut-and-run but I think we have to ask ourselves that question if we are to make an honest assessment of the situation. The only reason to stay in Iraq is if we want to prevent what would happen if we were to leave. The general consensus seems to be that if we leave there will be anarchy and its attending chaos. I am beginning to wonder how much worse it would be than it already is.

I know the Bush Administration would argue that it would be worse, and that they don't intend to leave until Iraq is stable. I believe that violence would get worse soon after the US military leaves, but will Iraq ever be stable?

Sometimes a temporary solution to a problem may prevent a final solution (like propping up "friendly dictators" rather than allowing other countries their autonomy). Currently in Iraq there are thousands of Iraqis dying each month. What would it look like if we left?

What if, in the absence of the US military, Iraq entered an unchecked civil war where 10,000 Iraqis died each month for 6 months before they reached some sort of stability and the death tolls fell to 500 per month. The reason for my thoughts this morning was that I began to wonder if that was inevitable. If we stayed in Iraq for two more years and then pulled out would they have a short period of extreme instability as soon as we left before things settled down? Perhaps they would have 10,000 casualties per month for only two months.

Let's compare these two scenarios to see what the cost would be of "staying the course" for two more years. The war is costing us roughly $100 billion per year and (conservatively) 50 US casualties per month. That translates into a cost to the US of $200 billion dollars and 1200 more lives. What does that purchase give us according to my scenario? Assuming 2500 Iraqi casualties per month while the US is on the ground, there would be 80,000 Iraqi deaths (60,000 over 2 years at 2500 per month plus 10,000 per month for two months of instability) before they achieved stability. If we were to cut and run under my scenario there would be 70,000 Iraqi casualties (60,000 over six months of civil war plus 500 per month for the next 20 months) before they achieved stability.

I don't pretend that my numbers are accurate, if they were it would be easy to decide to save $200 billion dollars, 1200 US lives, and 10,000 Iraqi lives. I think my numbers should be just realistic enough to make people want to see real estimates of the cost of continuing this war. Let's get experts to consider all the factors so that the public knows what they are supporting, or opposing.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


In the past weeks I have been exploring my interests and finding out what I like to do with my time. It has been a nice discovery period. I now come back to a question I have had before - how do I strike the balance when there are so many things I am interested in doing, and have the opportunity to do. I see all around me the people who are doing so much that they have no life, just activities.

The best approach I have found so far to deal with this question is to choose one activity and go with it until I know whether I am too busy, or not interested enough, or if it sticks. Once I have settled the activity into, or out of, my life I can approach another area of interest.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I have noticed in many narratives how time seems not to flow but to jump and halt. It occurred to me today that real life is just the same. Sometimes you blink in May and find that it's Christmas. Other times you feel like you have been standing in front of the stove for the last six months waiting for your dinner to cook.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Third Parties and Independents

I got my voter information pamphlet in the mail today in preparation for election day and it got me thinking about the third party and independent candidates. I have also had comments on my poll regarding the fact that I have only listed Democrats and Republicans as options.

My stance on these candidates and parties is that they are a good part of a healthy political system. Considering how rarely they ever get voted into office I wonder if they serve any more functional purpose than to promote fringe ideas which might later be adopted by one of the major parties. The keyword there was functional. Does anyone see any other tangible benefit that comes from these types of candidates and parties in our system?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Victims of Party Politics

The news today that Mark Warner had decided against seeking to be the Democrats' nominee for President in 2008 was proof of how we all suffer from politics that is driven by party affiliation rather than being driven by what is best for the country. I consider it to be good for the country to have two strong parties that can debate the issues from different perspectives, but when that escalates to our current system it becomes counter-productive.

One Democratic official friendly to Mr. Warner said: “He realized how hard this was going to be. He’s a great general election candidate, but he thought he would have difficulty winning the primary.”

When candidates find it necessary to make themselves appear more extreme in order to "energize the base" for primary elections and then attempt to appear moderate for the general election the result is that the voters can never tell which version of the candidate to believe.

That is one of the greatest failings of party-driven politics.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Political Polling

I have begun to wonder how people view presidential hopefuls before the heavy campaigning gets underway. To that end I have created a poll on my blog where people can vote for those people who have been identified as potential candidates for whom they would be willing to vote.

You can vote as often as you would like - I believe that the poll will only allow a person to vote once every two weeks.

I was only allowed to include 20 options in the poll I created so I included 10 of the most prominent republican hopefuls and 10 of the most prominent democratic hopefuls. I have listed all of them alphabetically. I have made no indication of their party affiliation, although some of them will be obvious.

There were another 11 potential candidates that I could have included. If I notice candidate who are consistently failing to get noticed in the poll I may drop them and add some of these other candidates that I could not include.

What I had wanted initially was a ranking system similar to the way college football teams are ranked where voters would rank the various candidates and their rankings would be weighted to give an overall ranking. If anyone has an idea of how I could do that I would love to hear about it.

I am looking to have this circulated as widely as possible so feel free to let friends of all political persuasions know about this poll. Also I would appreciate if anyone has any ideas of how else I can make this poll known to a wider audience.

UPDATE: I have decided to make create a separate page for the poll so that it is not necessary to scroll to see it. It will still be included on the sidebar here, but it can also be found at http://mr.david.miller.googlepages.com/poll.html If anyone does choose to share the poll with their friends, that page is where they should probably point.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Internet Outage

As if to prove what I said yesterday about becoming dependent on modern conveniences, I had to endure a total lack of internet access until 5:00 pm today. To add insult to injury, my mom called and asked if I had received her email.

Oh well, I have the email now.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Questions on Class Economics

I have been enjoying a variety of books and movies on late 19th century life lately and it has me thinking a little bit. I was reading one of the books in the Little House on the Prairie series and came across an interesting statement. The school children in a small, isolated town are trying to get home during a blinding blizzard. The first building they encounter is a hotel. All of the children continue to their homes, except one, because they cannot afford to stay in the hotel. The one boy who could afford to stay was able to do so "because his father had a regular job." A regular job meant regular pay. His father managed a train depot - the 19th century equivalent of a middle class job today. Later I read this statement:

Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves - they're good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on 'em.

That got me thinking about how we have so much talk about the importance of our large middle class today. It seems to me that the middle class is dependent on their "regular jobs" and is the most vulnerable to becoming dependent on railroads, telegraph, kerosene, and coal stoves or their modern equivalents (cell phones, cable television, internet etc.). That got me wondering, is society really better off having a sizable middle class rather than being broken mainly into the rich and the working classes?

I theoretically fall into the middle class today (minus cell phones and cable television) and I am not sure that there is much benefit being in the middle class and having a slightly higher standard of living coupled with greater expectations and demands on my wallet. To me that seems to breed greater discontent proportional to the supposed security that the middle class enjoys over the working classes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I have been looking at the advertising by Comcast for their big bundle - three services for $33/month (each). I say to myself "that's $100 a month to Comcast." Then again, Cable can easily run $50/month so that's a steal. Their internet service goes for $40/month so I guess $100/month to include phone is not bad. Of course I don't want cable so it's not a deal for me, but then I realize that they were advertising that their digital phone service would be about $14/month so it's really only about $4/month worth of savings.

I save a bunch on Cable, a little on internet, and pay two and a half times for the phone. Nice marketing.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I am currently trying to define what I want in my life. It's like having a fresh start because I have not felt like I was going anywhere so I can pick any direction that I want. As I reviewed some old goals that I have had from various times in my life and decided which of those goals to begin pursuing in earnest. One of those goals that has been floating in the back of my mind for nearly half my life is to run a marathon one day. As I face this fresh start I thought about that goal and reasoned that you can't just decide one day to run a marathon and then run it the next day. That goal requires that you start training months in advance. With that in mind I finally decided that I might as well start running so that I will be prepared when I am ready to select a marathon and run it.

Having made that decision - today marks my first run. It was raining and cool and generally the kind of weather that nobody runs in unless they are committed to running. In the face of all that I decided that I had better run today or else I would find a new excuse to procrastinate tomorrow. I ran a short route today - three miles. I did slightly better than I had planned (I had planned a very conservative pace) and based on today's run I think I am going to set a goal to finish the marathon, when I get to that point, in four hours.

My younger brother will laugh when he learns that I have decided to take up running. He was an avid runner back in the day - before he rediscovered "the one true sport." Of course he can't complain that I have taken up running again considering that he recently convinced his wife to start running.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I have been thinking about the comments I got from my personality posts I have to admit that I did not understand at first what Jason meant when he said:

"The trick, for me at least, is to find reasons to love whatever job you have. I've enjoyed forklift operating, fruit picking, yard work, construction, mail sorting and inventory control. None were exciting, none were interesting, and none made any real difference in the world. But I learned to love the work"

My initial reaction was to disagree with the idea that few people get to make a difference through their employment. After stewing on the comments I had received, I found the flaw in my thinking. I had been wanting to have meaning in every aspect of my life. I wanted to have meaning in my work, my family, my religion, my community, and any hobbies I might choose. When I said I have no personality it is because I had allowed those parts of my life that were not fraught with meaning to sap the meaning from the other areas of my life. I had abandoned hobbies unnecessarily and shut my eyes to other meaningful aspects of my life.

With renewed perspective I now recognize that I need to have meaning to my life as a whole and allow that purpose and drive, those goals that I am pursuing, to invigorate me and infuse meaning into the more mundane things which are necessary whether or not I find intrinsic value in them. That is what I understand Jason to have meant when he said he learned to love the work he had rather than moaning that he was not doing the work he might have chosen for its own value.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moving On

I'm getting tired of dwelling on being unsatisfied with my life. I'm going to make an effort to move on to other topics. Either they will be happier topics related to my life or else I will write about things that are outside of my life, like the fact that I found an interview discussing torture that aired on on NPR's Talk of the Nation two days after I had posted on the subject.

After listening to that show today I realized that we must continue to address this issue until we get this administration to change their policy on torture to a policy that condemns torture outright. I hope that more people will take an absolute position similar to the one expressed by Ariel Dorfman (from the interview) and make it publicly known that we do not condone any torture as Americans.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Thanks to the astute observations of a friend, I have refined my perspective on my current frustration. I do have a personality. The one he described sounds very familiar to me. The fact that my personality may easily go unnoticed in crowded situations does not bother me. I'm glad to know that it could be noticed in individual interactions. The problem I face is that I have become buried by the minutia of my own life. I seem to have forgotten how to be myself and see the strengths of my personality. Perhaps it is a touch of insecurity at the annoyance of not finding a job as fast as I had hoped. That insecurity is magnified by the fact that the vast majority of job descriptions I find are looking for "6 to 8 years experience with increasing responsibilities" etc. Unfortunately some of us do not have that many years experience, but we still have to feed our families.

Regardless of how buried I had become there is also the fact that I have been undergoing an internal transformation over the last year and I am still trying to make sense of the implications of the changes I have chosen to make. I hope that the end result will be a greater sense of focus and direction in all areas of my life.

As for the job - I have to be clear if this is the impression my previous posts had left:

I hope I'm wrong, but reading between the lines it sounds as though you feel that having a high profile or highly paid or publicly perceived as "important" job is more substantial than simply doing your best to be honest and dutiful at whatever you do.

I do not care about the wages (so long as I can support my family) or how onlookers might view the job I hold. I mean only that I cannot be content doing a job where I have nothing unique to contribute. If every other person at the company can do the job that I have been given, then why am I there? If I am in a company where I am allowed to give my input, rather than just follow the prescribed process and churn out the desired product, then I consider that substantial. I have had (and enjoyed) jobs delivering dry cleaning and spraying pesticides where I had the opportunity to do more than just "the job." I just want to find another opportunity where I can feel that I am making a useful contribution rather than just being an interchangeable cog in the mechanisms of the company commerce.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Personality II

Ever since I recognized my lack of personality I have been thinking about how that came to be. My first thought was that being highly introverted plays a part in it. I was thinking of a way to say that without implying that introverts lack personality generally but then I talked to Laura about it and she convinced me that it is possible for extroverts to lack personality as well - so my introversion is not a cause.

There is a difference between an extrovert without personality and an introvert without personality. An extrovert without personality is a chameleon matching the social climate around them. An introvert without personality is like the invisible man - going undetected in social settings. I have also begin to think of it as being something of an emotional albino - lacking any pigment of personality.

The question I am trying to resolve in my mind is, have I always been without personality or have I shed my personality. If I shed it - why? when? and how? If I have always been without it, why? Personally I lean towards having shed my innate personality. I have no hobbies, or substantial aspirations. My current goal is to get a job because I have to. That probably sounds really pathetic, but the truth is that I doubt my ability to be hired to do anything that will hold my interest. Everything that might set me apart from other people and make me interesting has been labeled (by me) unimportant.

Perhaps I have found something. I do have desires, but they seem to be so far outside the reach of my opportunities. I would like to make a difference in how we approach and manage education in this country, especially among our youth. I would like to make a difference in my community by making my voice heard about ways that we can make it an even better place to live than it is already. How can I do these things when nobody would listen to me.

Even if people would listen to me I am so caught up in trying to survive that I have no energy left after working full-time (back when I was) to expend the time and energy trying to make my ideas heard. The only way I could see to do both would be to get a job where I could work on some of those things as part of my work. Who would hire me to do that? Getting elected to an appropriate position is the only other way (besides being hired) to spend my time doing those things. I think it is patently obvious that getting a socially invisible person elected to any office is as likely as getting a squirrel to win the Kentucky Derby.

That is enough for now. I expect this is a theme I will follow while I try to unravel this mystery.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I was sitting - nowhere near the computer - and suddenly I was struck with a thought. It started as a recognition that the best blogs I read have an established personality. Concurrent with that thought was the admission that even when I had established blogs with regular readers my blogs had no personality. I considered this for a moment and then realized why this was the case. In a clear instant I realized that I have no personality.

It is not only my writing that suffers from that absence of personality. Who would have thought that you could have idiosyncrasies without any attending personality. That explains why my life is so flat. The only semblance of color in my life is a direct result of my family - I have no character to lend my own mark on the people and the world around me.

I wonder if there are any psychologists out there studying this phenomenon.