Archive for August, 2004

leaving on a jet plane…

Monday, August 30th, 2004

…and I don’t know when I’ll be back again. No really, I don’t know. In just a little while S—— will pick me up and take me to the airport and I will be on my way to Singapore. I have a return ticket but I don’t know if I will be coming back next month or next year or ever. It’s a bit scarry and a very exciting. Moving on or postponing life? I don’t know yet. I’ll let you all know as soon as I know.

family matters

Tuesday, August 24th, 2004

My grandfather is one of the people who should have been in DC for the dedication of the World War II memorial. He is part of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ He spent 50 months in Europe during and after the war. Helping to defeat the Axis powers and rebuild the infrastructure of the continent. When he returned home he applied for the G.I. bill to finish his studies which the government had interrupted to ship him off to war. He was denied because they said they had no record of his service. So he finished on his own money while my grandmother worked. Then the government did find the record of his service—in time to recall him and send him to Korea to fight.

It is sad that my grandfather fought for his country in two wars and now cannot remember that he just told me that story. Last week I went to Alabama to see him and he told me about the governments selective memory numerous times in the span of a conversation that lasted only a few hours. It was the same with other stories.

I am not as close to my grandfather as I would like to be. I have not seen him in six years and since that time he has had open heart surgery and a stroke that robbed him of his fine motor control on his left side—his dominant side. I grew up too far away to be as close as I would have liked.

My grandfather is the person I most admired as a student. He was the engineer that made me interested in engineering. And it is sad to see he is starting to fade. He never seemed old when I was growing up. Bald, yes but not old. He walked five miles a day and was mentally sharp. Now it makes me really sad that I do not know him better and that I don’t have a chance to get to know him better.
I guess it’s just a reminder of mortality. This whole incident makes me very depressed on some level. Not the kind of overriding depression where you can’t do anything but I find myself thinking a lot about things like growing old, not knowing my grandparents better because we lived so far apart and how well my kids might one day know my family. It just keeps popping up.

The idea of extended family is foreign to me. I’ve known families where the grandparents, aunts and uncles of my friends where virtually a part of everyday life. While to me my grandparents where people I saw every other year or on special occasions. I am reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake right now and I can identify with the main characters since of being lost on encounters with his own family. Every few years his family would pack up and fly to India to see countless relatives that he had not seen or heard from since the last trip.

I’ve never met half my cousins. Aunt’s and Uncles? Seen them two, three or maybe five times in my life. I wonder if this could be part of the reason I don’t form large social groups well? I don’t know, just stuff that has been going through my head while driving 40 hours to and from Alabama. That’s a lot of time to think.

ads, ads, ads…

Friday, August 13th, 2004

Up to now I had never gotten and ‘blog spam’—comments posted to my blogs by robots either advertising or attempting to solicit an email response to harvest my email address (or other net surfers). But in the past few days I have gotten four spam posts in my [ ] blog.

When I first looked at the emails that resulted from the postings I was struck buy the fact that I had received four comments in just a few days. Odd since I had only received two comments to the reviews blog ever before this. When I looked a little more I noticed that all four comments listed URL’s with the .ws extension. To of the comments posted on the same day listed and the other two, also posted on the same day listed Looking at the dates showed that each set of comments were posted in the same minute. One set on the 9th at 12:12PM and the other on the 12th at 3:48AM.

Spam email, telemarketing calls, ads on TV, ads at the movies, product placement in shows and films, billboards, adds on bananas… the list goes on and on and is only getting longer. Advertising is so pervasive so in-your-face and subliminal that you can’t live in the ‘first-world’ and not be bombarded by the words and images of people who’s sole purpose is to take your money. Not to make your life better, not to help you. There is no one in business either for profit or not-for-profit that really has your health and well being at heart. They are out to take your money and make their life better. Even ads for non-profit charities are just out to get your money. The only ads on TV not out for your money are mandated by the government.

Maybe I’m getting older, but I think ads have become more and more pervasive in the past ten years. Anymore the number of ads I see in a day outnumber the number of people I see in a day. I have to go out of my way to avoid them. I have to add my phone numbers to the ‘do not call’ list, I have to run anti-spam software on my website (which catches ~500 messages a day and misses about 7-10) and I have to install special software to block popup adds and regularly scan my computer for software which installs itself and shows me ads. I don’t watch TV because of ads. I spend a significant portion of my time actively trying to avoid ads. I must be an advertiser’s worst nightmare but the more they push their ads on me the more I run away.

Brands I like I buy. Brands I like that continuously push ads at me by any and all means possible I stop buying. I understand that in a free-market world ads are a necessary part of running any business. Profit is part of business. I just can’t stand the amount of advertising I am exposed to even with all the measures I take to reduce the number of ads I see.

Somewhere in central Africa there are people who have never seen an ad. They don’t know what Coke is or what a Big Mac looks like. They don’t have cars or cell phones and every time I see an ad for Viagra I get one step further from sanity and one step closer to wishing I lived there. And hopfully no one would ever drop a Coke bottle on my village. [ ]