Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"You won't die wishing you'd worked more"

Reading down facebook, clicking on every god damn thing because I'm tired, ended up reading
(warning: might make you sad, either because it's actually sad, or because some lady's dying words have been turned into Huffington Post clickbait)

Here's the thing: I'm working more than I used to. You won't die wishing you worked more for more money or power or glory. You might die wishing you worked more so you could get to that job you actually enjoy, instead of taking the easy road and working a boring-but-9-to-5 job your whole life.

Everyone says it's all about who is in your life, the family, and friends, and yes, it is. (I have to say that, or you'll think I'm a sociopath, but it's true.) But it's also all about what is in your life; the things you do, work and otherwise. Assuming we don't go sit on clouds or burn in fires after we die, the point of our life is to make the most of life here on earth, and if you spend it all doing something you don't love, or at least like, you'll have a lot of blah time in there. It's multiplicative: happiness = who * what. Which is why everyone says "it's all about the people"; if the "who" goes to zero, you're left with nothing. But if the "what" goes to zero, you're also left with nothing - a bunch of great connections and a slog filing TPS reports all day. (okay, it's not so bad, because you have the life outside work, but it's still a big loss.)

Well, look. I agree with the sentiment: don't work like crazy for external goals. (come on, you know me.) I just get tired of the phrase "you won't die wishing you'd worked more", because it's saccharine and because it paints with too broad a stroke. (kind of like "we should use our smartphones less." or "the government is too big.")

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why don't they build bridges like that anymore?

My parents and I were marveling at the pretty Pittsburgh bridges, and expressing our disappointment that the new Innerbelt bridge in Cleveland is so ugly and utilitarian. My dad, I think, wondered "why don't they build bridges like that anymore?" and his subtly veiled answer was "There's not enough competition. Nobody cares anymore. And the government is controlled by a bunch of corrupt cronies."

My subtly veiled answer was "There's too much capitalism. We don't value enough besides money and efficiency. Someone else undercuts the beautiful bid with something cheap but crummy, and in a desire to save a buck, they go for the cheap one."

Huh. Both could pretty well explain this particular case. I guess this is the danger of building in simple, vague demons into your world view.

I do think, if we as a society want pretty buildings, we should prioritize that and build it into our plans for bridges etc. Which means they'll cost more, and we have to be okay with that. Which means we should pay more taxes, and we have to be okay with that.
Or, maybe we're not collectively okay with paying more taxes because so many people are struggling to get by. In which case, we should admit that the US is lagging far behind some other countries, mostly in Europe, and see what they're doing right that we're not.

Of course, I just introduced a few more simple, vague demons! Maybe I'll go back to making burritos.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I love fall. It is when things start.

Which is weird, right? For most of civilized history, spring is when things start, and fall is when things end. But for most of my life, and really most other students, everything starts in the fall. Pittsburgh is wonderful in the fall - and summer too, but definitely fall.

I'm writing a paper. I'm not sure it's fully nonsense. I'm teaching a class, and I'm not sure that I'm fully incompetent at it. (I'm not sure in the other direction in either case.) Summer was a trip.

The next year should bring a bunch of things. Might be a good one. My friend Ram once declared a year the "year of Ram", and I'm feeling sort of guardedly optimistic about this being the "year of Dan". Or, I mean, maybe not THE year, but a lot of planets and zodiac things must be lining up. I'm feeling mostly pretty good about it all. Occasionally even feeling creative again, which is kind of neat.

Still got too much work to do, still tired, still wishing I were a couple steps closer to understanding the oneness of all things, still terrible at my job, whatever, but maybe I've got a chance, which is sort of a step in the right direction.

Plus, season's turned. Time for some new (or old) music recs.