Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Casual vs. priorities, and yay for the online world

I spent this last weekend in Sequoya with my husband, neighbors, friend, and three people I met online. We rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere, cooked about five times as much food as we needed to, played on the big trees, roleplayed with our dice, and stayed up at least until 2 in the morning each night just talking to each other.

It was fantastic. And none of us got axed to death!

I have been interacting with these folks online for almost two years. To see them face-to-face was fairly incredible. We've probably eaten more virtual food together than we could ever in real life. We managed to try to meet once a week online (sometimes more than that!) for almost two years. I don't even see my little sister that much! But the form of our hanging out--that is, hopping online for a few hours--is so much easier than driving anywhere. It was a casual game, so scheduling conflicts weren't so much of an issue. And unlike email or letters, our chatting was immediate... no waiting around for someone to remember to write back.

Mr. Althouse recently blogged about making social interactions a priority. And contact with other humans does have to be a priority. That priority is so much easier to follow thorugh if it's casual. What does that mean? Am I more likely to speak to the random person in my class than I am to speak to my own mother? And why should that be true of me? ...I don't think it should be.

This fabulous trip down to a cabin in the middle of nowhere really made me think... why can't I do this with my family? The answer really is, I can. Giving the gift of time and social interaction is probably the best I can give. Times like these are precious, and create more fond memories than anything I can buy. For some reason, though, doing something as simple as calling Granny for a quick "hi" is intimidating. I find I'm "too busy"or "not in the mood."

I spent this last few days thinking about my relationship with my parents. How, in a few short years, they've had to go from providing me with food to being a distant figure in my life. What I expect and hope of our relationship is for us to be friends--to give advice, to check up on each other, and most of all, to just spend some casual time together.

It's so hard to be casual with those who are closest to us. My best friends are my neighbors; we've discovered we can spend casual time together, by just watching half an hour of TV together. My other best friends come to visit me each weekend, and we lounge in the hot-tub. The fabulous friends online we have made, are available casually through a game. But my parents don't have time to drive down each week. I can't drive up each week. If they would just use Trillian each evening...

We really reveled in our geekiness this weekend. We shared in-game stories and hilarious mistells. We had so much common ground based upon the cumulative hours--days--likely, months--we've spent interacting together. All that time seemed like nothing at the time... it was so easily spent, a few hours at a time.

I've got a new goal for communicating with those around me, and that is to make regular phone calls and visits, to make them so regular they become casual, and easy to do. Shy little me will be stepping out a bit. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fair Trade Trick-or-Treat: End Child Slavery

Halloween is likely my favorite holiday of the year. I get to dress up (you're never too old to dress up!), kids get yummy candy, and the spooky/gothy/arcane is IN in a fun way!

Global Exchange has just made it even more special with its "Fair Trade Trick or Treat" package. It's a campaign designed to promote Fair Trade awareness. It comes with Fair Trade chocolate and postcards to hand out. How awesome is that?

The chocolate industry is a pretty scary one. We're used to thinking of slavery as a thing of the past--let alone child slavery! Yet on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, children between the ages of 5 and 14 are stolen from their homes and forced to work on plantations that harvest cocoa . That cocoa is then bought by companies such as Nestle, Hersey's, and M and M's. (You can read a PDF of Global Exchange's 2005 report here.)

Fair Trade chocolate isn't easy to find. Global Exchange has a list of online vendors. Trader Joes may also sell fair-trade chocolate. (I'll have to double-check that. It's a good excuse to go chocolate-shopping.) ;) But if you plan to be passing out the goods this Halloween, please consider offering Fair Trade treats!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Third Time's the Charm?


I like my car. It gets me to work and school; mostly it's great because I can listen to music instead of trying to avoid catching the gaze of other people on public transit.

Sometime last night it was stolen.

Now, this makes the third time someone has stolen a car that I drive.

My best friends were cool enough to give me a ride to school. Then to get home, we walked ten miles uphill (well, ok, maybe half a mile across flatland) to the lightrail station. On the way home we were forced to delay (for drinks and a sandwhich). When we were finally on our way again, we had to listen to the obligatory madman rant. (Sometheing about the apocalypse and how to bug old people with bad French and racism all rolled into one.)

My friend and I found it this afternoon in the very same parking lot from which it had been taken. It was missing change, but the radio, CD player, CDs, etc., were all still intact... as was the engine. Whew!

All in all it was an adventure... An adventure I've repeated three times before. My Saturn got stolen and found twice. What I --almost--enjoyed about this time was how in control I felt.

I knew I could take public transit and still be able to get to work and school. I could still control my life and my livelihood without too much extra pain. That's a nice feeling!

But not having to listen to madman rants is definately a huge plus. Vrooooom!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The King's Arena

The Bee has a very interesting opinion piece on the attention their columns have gotten, particularly on one issue: should the city of Sacramento help fund the construction of a larger arena? This was a look at whether or not the paper was being fair on the issue.

Columnists "are paid to have an opinion," the editor said. The news stories were all fair and balanced, but columnists were largely critical of building an arena.

The question that comes to my mind is this: is the paper required to publish the opinions of both sides? Prosper Magazine has blogs on both sides of the issue. That seems balanced. Should the Bee have done that?

I don't have an answer, but I do know this: if I were the editor, I'd like to say we had printed a point-counterpoint piece like that. I can defend that much more easily than "columnists are paid to have opinions." Isn't the paper supposed to be the voice of all?

Despite that, I'd have to agree with the Bee columnists... a city-subsidized sports arena where we already have the adequate Arco Arena is asking too much of us. I do NOT want to pay for a new stadium.

What do you think? I know more than just Michael read my blogs, so POST!