Friday, May 2, 2008

My Watch Has an Existential Crisis

Here for you enjoyment, is a classic rant (or journal entry as we used to call 'em) from September, 2001. I've only edited a few tangents out, but bear in mind that I was much younger then....

My Watch has an Existential Crisis – September 21, 2001

My watch is having an existential crisis. It’s the only way I can describe it. I noticed the time was off; it was slow, so I figured – hey, new battery. I took it to the repair shop, “We change watch batteries, all kinds, $5 cash only”. The man took my precious watch into the back room and proceeded to look inside. A few minutes later, he came out and said “It’s not the battery. The battery’s fine, it’s the watch. When you’re not looking, it stops ticking.” What? So my watch only works when I watch it.

So I watch my watch, and sure enough it keeps perfect time. I stop looking but I listen for its ticks. Tick tick tick. It still works. I perceive my watch. It is working. I turn to something else for a while. I look back at the watch. It’s ticking – but it’s slow. So I thought about what to do. I could watch it all the time, but I can’t do that. I could tape record the ticking and listen to it later, that way I can trick the watch into being perceived. The logistics of this, however, are beyond me. So I give up and wear no watch.

A pause in my story to think about perception. What is perception? Does the outside world exist when I’m not aware of it? I know the world exists, but I thought I knew my watch existed. Which it doesn’t, obviously. It only exists in my perception. When I cease to be aware of it, it ceases to exist, qua a timepiece. It’s still an object, I assume. It still has a leather band, and a metal case with a glass front and numbers painted on it. It still has dials and springs; it still has a mark on the third hole of the band, where I usually wear it. But does it keep time? No. And that my dear, is the essence of a watch – it must be portable, and it must keep time. Take away any one of these two qualifications and it becomes either a clock or an expensive bracelet.

Now, I’m not an easy going person. I’m obsessive, and I’m punctual, and I need to be aware of the time twenty-four hours a day. I wear my watch constantly. I keep a clock in every room of my home. I position myself in classes so that I can watch the clock on the wall and check every five minutes or so to make sure that the clock and my watch are perfectly synchronized. They used to be. What does this tell you about me? I need a sense of time – but I don’t possess one internally. My body does not know when it’s 8:05 or 12:00 or 4:30 and time for class. I rely on external objects to tell me what the time really is.

My old roommate had an internal clock. She wore no watches, had no alarm clock, and yet rose at exactly seven each morning (eight daylight savings) and was never late. So does she possess a sense of time which I don’t? An internal perception that time is passing, a clock in her breaths, in her heartbeat, in her lungs? I’m lost without my watch. I stare at my naked wrist and frown. Is time a creation of ours? Do we need time? I do.

But time is an external creation. It’s made of hours and minutes, a sesquidecimal system of base sixty. Why sixty? The Babylonians. We don’t use their system anymore, but the idea of a base sixty time system with a ludicrous 24 hour day seems normal to us. So basic that when the French revolution tried to bring is a metric base 10 system, it failed utterly. Odd, isn’t it? The metric system of measurement took off quite nicely, yet try to mess with time, and you get burned.

I’m now walking around without time. It’s oddly comforting, I was half an hour early for class today. And everybody laughs at my watch story. Poor thing doesn’t even know that it exists. I know it exists; it’s the watch that doesn’t. I exist, I know that. The outside world exists, I know this, I read Descartes, and trust mw, Descartes came from outside of me. I did not think that stuff up, I’m not that smart – ergo there must be an outside world.

I’m cursed when it comes to appliances and electronics. I tried to talk gently to my watch. I tried to convince it that it existed in the material, phenomenal world of objects and sense perception. It heard the false tones in my voice. Gadgets always hear falseness, they’re good that way. I lost trust in my watch. It knows. It’s like my stereo – skipped, skipped, skipped. I begged, I pleaded, I threatened, but to no avail. Skip, skip, skip. So I smacked it, just once. It stopped skipping. The next day, again, skip, skip, skip. I raised my hand, said: “You know I’m serious.” Smooth playing. My phone stopped dialing `2’. It never healed.

Maybe I live in an odd universe where objects have perception and feet and get up and walk away. A world where my camera mended its cracked light meter through gentle words and a soft new case. A world where my discman is soothed only by one particular album (Zeppelin IV). I live in a strange little world. I guess that makes me a strange little person.

So I’m getting a new watch.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I've been tagged

I'm not good at updating, but here is a tag that a friend sent me:

The rules of this tag:
A: The rules are posted at the beginning
B: Answer the questions about yourself
C: Tag 5 people, let them know in a comment on their blogs that they have been tagged.

What were you doing 10 yrs ago?

I was in high school, living with my parents. Did anything really important happen that year? Probably! But it was 10 years ago!

Snacks I enjoy:

* chocolate
* capers and pickles
*haagen daaz sticky toffee pudding ice cream

Five things on my to-do list today:

* finish doing my laundry
* Write a lecture.
* Go to costco and stock up on groceries
* study some boring things
*have a nap

Things I would do if I became a billionaire:

That would be too much money. I'd probably put enough in investments so that I could get $100,000 a year in interest for life. Then I'd rent a place in southern France, and fly out all of my friends and family for a big party. I'd give them all enough money to travel for a bit, and I'd travel a bit. I'd give a few hundred thou to each of my close friends and family. Finally, I'd buy a bigger condo, maybe a townhouse in the city I live in. I'd make sure I had a gym and pool in my building. Finally, I'd take the remaining money, and that should be a lot, and donate it to charity. I'd probably also give money to charity out of my interest. Oh yeah, and I'd quit being a TA and go to school full time.

3 bad habits:

* Working on things like this at work, instead of working on the above to do list.
* Not cleaning my apartment enough
* Eating things like crackers and peanut butter for dinner, even though I have a fridge full of fresh organic vegetables.

5 places I have lived:

Huh. Well, I'll sacrifice a bit of my anonymity by listing some places in alphabetical order. Where I live now may or may not be on this list:

* Halifax, Nova Scotia
* Montreal, Quebec
* St. Johns, Newfoundland
* Toronto, Ontario
* Vancouver, BC

I lived in some of these places longer than others. I think we've established I'm Canadian, and in fact, I have visited every province, but none of the territories

Jobs I have had:

* Nanny
* Security
* Barrista at a coffee shop
* Analyst in a marketing company
* Tutor
* Instructor
* Switchboard operator
* Teaching Assistant
* Bar maid
* Secretary
* Dispatcher

Probably some others too. I've had a lot of jobs.

Things people don’t know about me:

Huh, well, this kind of contradicts that, doesn't it? I mean, as soon as I say nobody knows, people kind of know, you know? But here are some little things:

* I switched my major 6 times in undergrad.
* I have a reputation that I foster of being really into rock music, but the artist who I have the most songs by on my itunes is Steve Earle. Second is Foo Fighters though, and they rock.
*I met Molly Ringwald once. Ok, that's not a secret but it was awesome so I'm gonna mention it.

Ok: now you know more about me. Also, you know I suck at keeping a blog. So, some topics I've thought of writing about are: "I hate Microsoft, or why I'm writing this in notepad" and "Carbon Neutral coffee? Really?!"

Ok, I'll think about who to tag and comment it here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Internet is not anonymous - Not by a long shot!

One of my favourite things to do while avoiding either working or cleaning is browsing around the internet. Lately, Facebook has been by fascination. Tehre is a seemingly endless stream of profiles, comments, details, and notes. However, playing around has confirmed what I already knew.
I read a note (and no, I'm not saying whose it was) that surprised me a little, so I poked around ad realixed that I could read any note in which someone tagged one of my friends. How that works is, if I say something like "So I went out with Mike last night, and he was so drunk he ended up....." and tagged Mike, then all his friends could read the note. Like, his mother. Or his girlfriend. Or.... the list goes on. By the way, I made that up. Last night I saw a movie with friends.
And here is what inspired this rant: The boy in this article got expelled for dissing his Vice Principal in a facebook group. Which just goes to show - The internet is not anonymous. Should you be punished for something you said with the expectation of privacy? I have no idea. Is this legal. I have no idea. Is it dumb? Yes. Is it hurtful? Yes.
Last year, back when was having its last hurrah, I made the mistake of looking myself up. Big mistake!! I'm not a bad teacher, but with the promise of anonymity and a failing midterm in their hand, otherwise nice people become mean. BTW, THAT site is not private either - In fact, I've heard of someone losing their job over supposedly anonymous postings.
By now, you've all heard countless horror stories about people getting fired, explelled, outed or worse, due to blogs and notes and comments. And yet, I can still surf through embarrasingly personal accounts of pretty much anything on the web. For my friends with blogs - this doesn't include you. Your musings on economic policy or the difficulty of Romanian translation are interesting without being the least bit scandelous.
So, moral of the story: If you must write about people in your blog, and its anything yours or their grandmothers and bosses shouldn't read, don't write it. And, if you must, use the old fishbowl convention of using intitials or clever nicknames... those in the know get it, and those that shouldn't be reading it will (hopefully) have no idea.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Amy hates blogs, and yet is starting one

So, I've finally decided to stop ranting only to my friends, family and computer, and post things online.

Here's the deal: I hate blogs. If you know me, you've heard me rant about how much I hate blogs. Why do I hate blogs?

1) They really aren't anonymous. I mean, you think they are, but then you slip up and say something dumb, and your aunt reads it, and tells your mom and you're in trouble.

2) They make people self important. I mean, who the hell cares what I think? I have no real credentials - or do I? Plus, why should anyone care about my blog? except for my friends who have to read it.

3) Things last forever. Potentially, my greatgrandchildren could google me and say "man, Grandma wrote some pretty angsty poetry when she was in college!"

So why am I starting this thing? Because I can. And really, I don't care if you read it. It's more for me. And I'm going to try for first names and initials only - no identifying characteristics. Of course, nobody will read this thing if they don't know about it, so I have to tell them, and they tell others and .....

Anyways, I have a file of rants already typed on my computer, so I will be leaking them out a little at a time.

TTFN - Amy