Who says you can't learn things from musicals?

Friday, February 1, 2013

It is the first of February. It’s important to orient yourself before you dive in. I had thought of writing a letter to a friend today instead of posting something. He’s been stalking me on Facebook and texts trying to reconnect. We haven’t spoken in quite some time—probably a bit after college was the last time when I went to his wedding. I think I mentioned him before. He’s an elementary school friend, and we stayed friends until high school and then went our separate ways to different SUNY schools. I will write to him (and Chuck, who I also owe a letter!). Just not today.

We had a wonderful conversation with Tiger at dinner today. We went through all the people that she had met and asked her to identify the boys and the girls. It’s fascinating to figure out how children learn the difference. I wonder what rules they create in their heads to differentiate the sexes. (I know this is a loaded question in today’s society. I’m thinking about it in the simplistic and perhaps anachronistic way.)

We first went through the children and teachers she talks about at school. We named each one and she said whether it was a boy or girl. She did well across her school, missing only one: a boy with long hair. We thought we had found the rule. Hair length is the differentiator.

Sorry for the interruption. I had left Dinosaur in the kitchen swing and his dinosaur cries had grown too loud. I walked around the kitchen island a few times and he quieted down. He’s now in bouncy in the study next to me. He’s staring at the closet looking content. Or maybe not. Okay, I’ll stop looking and hope for the best.

After going through the school, we then went through our immediate family. She knew Doolies was a girl and I was a boy. She even knew that Dinosaur was “a boy, too.” We then asked her what is Tiger? She responded, “boy.” We asked it a few different ways, and she assured us that Tiger was a boy. We then went through her cousins. She got them all right. Then my mother. Right again. And then Doolies’s father, right; her mother and sister? Both “boys” again. The theory is now getting more complicated. To recap: boy in Tiger’s class with long hair: girl. Tiger: boy. Doolies’s mother and sister: boy. Everyone else: correct.

The dinosaur has started crying again. I’ll be back. I pulled the magical music cord. He seems satisfied, for now. I may need to pull it every few sentences. That’s a tax I’m willing to pay.

So you now have all the evidence in front of you. My hypothesis still leans toward hair length as the differentiator. I believe the Tiger error is a red herring. She watches a lot of videos and sees a lot photos of baby Tiger with short hair. That may have thrown her off. As to Doolies’s mother and sister? I don’t have much in my theory to handle those outliers. It could be she’ll get them right when they visit. We’ll see how she develops her gender differentiator circuits. (Yes, I could have done some research and perhaps figured out how this really works. I prefer to live in my imaginary world and work through my simplistic theories instead.)

Thanks to Doolies reminding me, I’ve re-implemented my smile therapy, particularly around the children. I’ve been rather mopey lately. My sickness continues to hold on. I managed to get by today without taking any ‘quils since Nyquil last night. I did take a Dayquil after dinner in lieu of my usual Nyquil. I like to wean myself off the night stuff, as it’s sometimes difficult to sleep if you go cold turkey off Nyquil. My nose leaks mucus and my head, if moved too quickly, still hurts. My cough has improved but is still slightly wet, and I have low energy. You can see why I would walk around with slumped shoulders and a pathetic look on my face (which, to be honest, is not terribly atypical of ordinary David).

Doolies told me that it’s probably not good for the monsters to see me that way. She’s right and I went into full smile therapy mode. The therapy still reminds me of “Ally McBeal” but it does seem to work. Tiger in particular was very impressed by my smiles. She found it quite hilarious.

Our new bogu (armor) bags came in for Naginata. This is the first step in replacing our old bogu with newer, fancier versions. I also bought a new gi (shirt). I had purchased one in Denver and had made the mistake of drying it and wearing it to class two weeks ago. It was small to begin with and had shrank something rotten, leaving me with a gi that showed way too much chest hair and, when the angle was wrong, too much of my colorful boxer shorts. The sensei (teacher) told me that she had to work hard not to break out in laughter when leading the warm-up exercises. However proud I am of my colorful boxers, I handed over the small gi to Doolies. It should fit her well.

I went into preachy mode with my family today when discussing career choices. I’m not sure why I go there, but I have strong opinions on this topic after reading the Flow book. The theory is simple: to enjoy what you do you don’t have to find your passion. There’s no such thing as a true passion. What you have to find is something that you enjoy and provides sufficient challenge for you—i.e., something that you have some talent for and can see how, with work, you can become more skilled and perhaps master. Once you find that activity, you devote yourself to it, keeping track of your improvements, until you can be in the activity and lose yourself in that good way. That’s the Flow state that the book talks about: time when you’re doing something that challenges you and you’re fully in the present trying to complete the activity. Everything around you drops out and it’s just you and the activity. Your brain quiets and you’re fully focused on the activity. Time slows or stops and the activity seems easier than it should. This is the Flow state, and this is what your work should provide you in doses. The more doses the more you will enjoy it.

This answer is similar to my thoughts on relationships and marriage. Love is something that happens over time with effort. Finding the Flow state with your significant other is a process. Puppy love is about falling in love. Real love requires time and effort. (I can thank Fiddler on the Roof for that theory).

Of course, preaching this does make me wonder whether I found that state at my work. I believe I have, although in my job it is more difficult to measure improvement. These are the times that I’ve described before: when I’m either drafting or working through a contract, or in a heated discussion, and the words seem to come to me unbidden. Time falls away and I wonder how I missed lunch or when it grew late as the activity overtakes me. I describe this at times as growing infatuated by my own talk. While there may be some egotism mixed in there, the Flow experience may also be happening.

Doolies has taken the dinosaur. And with that I’ll do a quick proofread and then arrive at anime time.