Wednesday, March 28, 2007

hooked on a feeling......

Surprise! Betcha didn't expect to actually see a new post. I've been having a difficult time finding a topic - and the motivation - to post about. Yesterday I was reading this post and found I had a few things to say about it. (Chani amended the post to narrow it's focus, my comments are not similarly limited in scope.)

"Love is a behavior, not a feeling".

I started with the assumption that behavior is learned and feelings are innate. I believe that love springs from a capacity we are born with. Someone in a comment somewhere, in response to the statement above, asked, what about the love a mother has for her child? I assert that it is innate. The human animals are programmed for self-preservation. But we also will die to protect our children. Jumping in the path of a bus to push our kids out of the way without regard to the danger to ourselves is not a behavior, it is instinctive. This instinct overrides the instinct for self-preservation. We are born with the capacity to love, the instinct to love. At it's purest, it is selfless - as in the case of protecting our kids from danger. I believe we can have this kind of love for other people - not just our children. I don't want to get into "we were fated to be together" or "one true love" because I don't know if we always know that to be the case. (It may can turn out to be the case, though.) What else keeps two people together when everything would tear them apart except for some innate feeling? Logic telling you that it won't work and your "heart" telling you it will. Or the opposite - loving someone enough to let them go, placing their needs above yours.

This isn't to say that everyone's capacity for love is the same. Not everyone can play an instrument or can play sports or can paint. You can teach someone to do these things, but unless they have a "talent" for it - an innate ability for it - they won't rise above a certain level.

We can also learn how to place others above ourselves, and this could also be called love - but maybe deserves another appellation? Chani's post I think is more about this and describes it better than I can. This is the "love" that is a behavior. Our instinct is to selfishness (self preservation) and with no overriding instinct (the love I describe above) we have to learn to override it. It isn't instinctual, it is considered - but can become automatic through training/learning (a la pavlov and his dogs!). I wish it were instinctual, then good people like Jen wouldn't be at their wits end trying to help others. The world would be a much better, happier place if everyone could learn this love.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Thanks for the suggestions for future posts. I will certainly blog about my trip to Bahrain when it happens. I am working on posts about Germany and Crete, still trying to keep them at least to novella length.

However, I do have a question somewhat related to the his & hers post that I want to pose. I'm looking for your experiences and/or opinions about "mixed" friendships, especially when the friend is married.

I met "Lisa*" soon after she came to work. She and I hit it off immediately. We were both programmers sitting in cubes in the same area and would frequently start the workday having a cup of coffee in one or the other's cubicle. There wasn't much that we couldn't talk about to each other. Lisa would unload on me about her husband's ex-wife and how she would use the step-children jerk her husband's strings, or just about disagreements she would have with him, (and so you don't think all she did was complain to me) about their vacation plans, her career aspirations, her son, etc., etc., etc. I felt comfortable telling her about things of a similarly personal nature about myself too. When Lisa had surgery, I visited her at home bringing movies & books to occupy her during her convalescence.

However, after about a year things started to cool off. We met less and less often - although the conversations, while less frequent, remained as personal as they had been. I wondered if maybe I had done something to offend her, or maybe she came to feel that I wasn't as good a friend as she needed. Lisa had told me early on that she made friends much more easily with men, but I noticed that she started spending more and more time with the women in the office, going to lunch, etc. I asked her about this, and was told that nothing had changed, she still thought of me as a close, valued friend. About this time she started talking more and more about her religious beliefs and how much the church meant to her. Her opinions about topics we discussed became more conservative.

One day we had lunch and I related all of this to her, that I felt we had lost some of the closeness of our friendship. The conversation wandered around but the gist is that she felt that, both in terms of her marriage and her religious beliefs, we could not be close friends. It was inappropriate for a woman to be close to a man that wasn't her husband. And that is the way things remain today.

I miss her friendship. While we have a very comfortable working relationship we are merely casual friends. We still work in the same office. Lisa and I don't have very many one-on-one talks anymore, excepting that when she's angry at her boss Lisa will still come into my office and rant.

I am fully aware that my take on this could be totally off base, that we just drifted apart and that I am not what she wants or needs in a friend, that the reasons she gave were merely to save my feelings. I am also aware that people do change, that friendships dissolve over time. This could be the case, and I can accept that. I have in any case accepted that our close friendship is gone.

What bothers me are the reasons she gave. If she told me the truth, it really bothers me that she has come to believe that men and women cannot have a close PLATONIC relationship exclusive of marriage. I know that people think, given our baser natures, it can be difficult to believe from either perspective that the other isn't thinking about or wanting to have sex. Speaking for myself, I made a promise of monogamy when I got married that I have kept and will keep. I would not become romantically involved with anyone else unless our marriage had ended. I expect this behavior in anyone who is married. I do not assume that a woman I am friends with is interested in me in a romantic way. In other words, my having a close female friend has no impact at all on my relationship with my wife. I love my wife no less, nor does it interfere with my marital commitment to her.

Do any of you have any experiences to share like this? What are your opinions - can a married man or woman have a close friend of the opposite sex? Do your religious beliefs have a bearing on this, or am I just running into conservative social standards? True friends are so hard to find. Friendship should not be squandered because of some perceived social prohibition.

*not her real name

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Miscellany

Greetings from the hermitage. Not THE Hermitage but merely my self-imposed monk's cell. I guess my last post drained me of anything I had to say. That, and I've been really busy. I went on a business trip this week(shades of Meno's post), had no internet access at the hotel and had little time for it at the plants I visited.

I really don't have anything of consequence to share. I could discuss the details of the project I was traveling for, but somehow I don't think any of you are interested in how I'm going to add RF scanning capabilities to the receiving, staging, issuing and cycle-counting procedures in my system. No? Thought so. We could also talk about the other project I'm working on - adding the capability for the system to work with currencies other than U.S., and to be able to specify a different currency for each purchase order while maintaining inventory in the host country's currency. The last project is to get me ready to go to Bahrain sometime around April or May. No? Thought not.

Well, what else is going on? I'm watching Mythbusters with the kids. We make fun of the stupid stuff (trying to get a crocodile to chase a quail-festooned robot) and cheer on the explosions (replicating the flammable skin on the Hindenberg). Kris has been spending more weekends at home, I think she learned a lesson last semester about getting involved in too many things causing her grades to suffer a bit.

Boring stuff, I know. Maybe I'll find another meme, easy blog fodder. I'll work on something else to stir everyone up soon. Any ideas?

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

His & Hers

**This post was renamed. The original was CRAP**

The majority of the blogs I read are written by women. Mostly it is because the few blogs I started reading were written by women, primarily read by women, and so when I followed links to other blogs ipso, facto they were written by women too. It is also by preference that I do so, I have always felt I had more emotionally in common with women than men. I have always had more female friends than men. In these blogs written by women, aside from the self-identified mommy bloggers who use their blogs primarily to discuss issues directly related to child rearing, my observation is that most content is gender specific. Or at least I read it that way. Relationships, parenting, observations and experiences in the world around us are common topics in these blogs. I don't think these experiences are gender specific, but they are commonly couched in terms that are. Exhortations to moms everywhere, sisters unite, etc. are things I see frequently. Jen recently wrote about coming to terms with being a mother recently. Why didn't she refer to herself as a parent? She didn't discuss pregnancy or birth - which is something only a mother can do - she talked about the conflict between how she sees herself and what she perceived as how she should perceive herself as a mom. I went through a huge change when our 1st child was born. Every parent does. While Jen didn't explicitly exclude fathers in her discussion about her feelings, there is an implicit exclusion through the use of mother/mom. Meno wrote recently about feeling lonely when her husband was out of town and went on to preface a question with this statement: "I am thinking about all of you woman who are alone through divorce." I immediately wondered if she assumed it was only the women in these dissolving marriages that were lonely. There are a whole chain of gender-based assumptions I could infer from that statement. Divorces are initiated by men who are moving on to new relationships, leaving women behind. Therefore women and not men are lonely during the break-up. That she isn't interested in whether men are lonely during divorce. Why wasn't her thoughts of a more general nature - i.e. "I am thinking of all of you out there who are alone through divorce." I know neither Jen nor Meno are specifically excluding half of the potential readers out here. I also know that by far the majority of their actual readers are female, so why not address the known audience? I ask, why not address everyone?

I think the answer to my questions are fairly obvious. People primarily identify themselves by their gender. Society does. But it is a catch-22 situation. Society always will if people continue to do so. Society identifies me first as a woman, so I identify myself to society as a woman, etc, etc, etc. For most of my life I have formed closer relationships with women than I do men. I have more relationships with women than I do men. I've been reading blogs for 3-4 years now and still 90%+ of the blogs I read regularly are written by women. So I can't, and don't, complain when the posts are about PMS, or pap smears, or giving birth. I made a choice to read these blogs and I learn a lot about how women deal with these things. I also learn a lot of how women are treated by society. I am by definition an outsider when it comes to these things and I accept that I cannot be anything else. But what really troubles me is that there are a lot of topics discussed as female that really apply to both genders. I am a parent. I don't see the role of dad as being separate and distinct from the role of mother - after the pregnancy and birth phase, anyway. I don't see the role of husband as being separate and distinct from the role of wife. Period. It bothers me that I feel I am excluded from conversations about parenting and marriage because the blogs I read express the experience in gender specific terms of mom and wife. I do not live in a bubble, I do know that our society DOES assign roles in terms of gender in these relationships. But as I said above, society always will if we continue to take on these gender-based roles.

I also realize that I live in a male dominated society, one where for the past 320 years every law has been written by and for men. I am white, male, and heterosexual. I am in every societal sense of the phrase "the man". So for me to complain about feeling excluded could easily be written off as being a whiner in these forums where women dominate. However - I think that we will always have gender inequalities if we continue to primarily identify ourselves by gender. I am not a dad, I am a parent. I am not a husband, I am a spouse.

I know that neither of these two lovely people whom I have picked on here are specifically excluding me. Jen has explicitly said that she is not doing so - at least twice that I remember. I hope that neither of them are offended at what I have said here, I am merely using them as examples to explain a greater problem that I see around me. We can only begin to resolve our differences if we choose to cease to have them.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Friday Miscellany

The last few days I've been in a funk. Tonight Laura and I had a "get-the-hell-out-of-the-house-we-need-a-break" night. We tried Red Robin for the first time (great burgers, lousy prices) and went to a movie. We saw the new (well, new to me) James Bond - Casino Royale. (we don't get out to the movies very often). It was enjoyable, if predictable. I'm feeling better.

A few days ago we were on the way out the door, going somewhere or another, and Laura asked me to hold on for a sec, she had to visit the restroom. more than a few secs pass by and she FINALLY comes out. I ask what took so long and she responds "I had a heck of a time getting the cat out of my pants."

This past monday we were going to bed, settiing in for the night, and one of the cats jumped up for a snuggle. She started to urp (the cat, not Laura). Laura picked up the cat trying to get it off of the bed before the explosion. She didn't make it (both the cat and Laura). The cat went off like a fire hose, all. over. me. Exclusively. She had just eaten and drank about a gallon of water. Did you know that cats don't chew? Laura is still giggling about it. She told my daughter about it tonight, and Kris laughed for about 5 minutes straight. Yes, I exist for the amusement of my family.

I don't watch much network TV, it's mostly PBS, Discovery Channel, HGTV, BBC America - whatever strikes my interest at the time. The guys I work with are BIG into American Idol, Heros, Dancing With the Stars, Lost, etc. They are usually our lunchtime conversation. I haven't seen any of them, but I am intimately familiar with the plot lines. (On Heros, the man with the glasses is not really the father of cheerleader girl who can heal herself of any hurt, she was given to him to raise - by the father of the chinese guy who can bend time. On lost, the curly haired guy had his own episode and they found a wrecked VW bus. They tried to get it running but no go. On American Idol Simon seems to be meaner than usual and a girl from Georgia is doing really well. And it turns out that Emmett Smith is a pretty good ballroom dancer and that Jerry Springer got a lot of sympathy votes 'cause he stayed on WAY too long. BTW, Joey Lawrence is married a woman that used to live here and worked with my wife. She went west looking for her big showbiz break and viola - she gets on TV as a member of the audience and in the meet the contestants video.) But let me bring up Mystery or American Experience and I am met with blank stares and an immediate reversion to Lost.

We are going Sunday to visit my folks. I have SHAMEFULLY not visited for about a month. There will be food, conversation, and computers. Dad has bought one of the new intel core duo Mac laptops. He has a G3 laptop and a G5 desktop. ?He also has an IBM laptop he bought in a pawn shop because his favorite mapping software only runs on the Windows OS. He and mom have a 5th wheel and he likes to map out their trip using the mapping software, and with a GPS unit it will update their current location on the map. He has built overlays that show all of the campgrounds he's a member of and all of the Flying J's (truck stops where he can get diesel for his truck). The new Macs have a dual-boot capacity so he can run the Mac OS or Windows - just for the mapping. (Dad has been a Mac addict since they came out. I still have his first Macintosh sitting in a closet here - one of the first, all-in-one black & white 9 inch screen) Anyway, he's been calling me this week for help porting his overlays from the IBM to the new Mac. So I am sure he and I will be spending time working on his new 'puter. Maybe he'll give me one of his castoffs!

Oh well, enough of the blah, blah - Eddy Izzard is on BBC. gotta go. Everyone have a good weekend. Cheers.