Goal Progress

Yesterday was the 182nd day of the year, so at the halfway point, here is an update on my resolution progress.

  1. Complete unfinished novel series. I finished the Harry Potter series at the first update. The Sword of Truth series is now done. I have most of the Ender’s series books, so I am working on them now. At the halfway point, I should have 6.5 of 13 books done. With 8 done, I am ahead.
  2. Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 100 (from 2003). Pride & Prejudice, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Wind in the Willows, Catch-22, Gone With the Wind are done. Little Women and Corelli’s Mandolin are both in progress. I only have 6 of 13 done. Half a book behind is not bad.
  3. No more complaining about Blackboard, Inc. Still a miserable failure so far. I thought the first hundred days were tough. They really pulled out all stops to give me things about which to complain. Better to just abandon this goal. Though with possibly changing to a new vendor, I get to complain about all new people and software. Yay for me?
  4. Attend more social events when invited. Skipped a few. Still attending more things than skipping.
  5. Go away more. Went a couple of places on a whim. Probably should have defined this one better. So abandoning it.
  6. Goodreads: Read 50 books. At 24 books done, I am just one behind the pace. Eight were over 600 pages, so I should be able to focus on shorter books for a while to get ahead.

Google Video EOL May 13, 2011

Google Video told me I have to move my videos before they delete them on May 13, 2011. They suggested Youtube (since Google owns Youtube). Instead of a button to move them all to Youtube with the titles, descriptions, and view counts intact, they gave me a link to my video status page where I can download my videos and start all over. I only used Google Video on the occasions where I had trouble with Youtube. So I only had eight videos to move. If I had 80, then I would be quite annoyed at having to download them all from Google Video, record all the titles and descriptions, and recreate all that on Youtube.

Anyway, here is a video I rescued. It is of dancers at the St. Philothea Greek Festival. A couple of friends were dancers. I am really disappointed with the quality. I should go look for the originals and repost those instead. Oh, of course there I have a Greek Festival Flickr photoset.

Resolved

Yesterday was the 100th day of the year, so I figured I would figure out my progress with those pesky resolutions.

  1. Complete unfinished novel series. I finished the Harry Potter series. I am simultaneously working on the Sword of Truth and Ender series. The Shadow Rising was such an awful book I gave up on the whole series. Maybe I will replace it with Foundation? At 4 of 14 done and two in progress, I am at better than 34.2% done. I should be at 27.4%. Ahead of the game is where I like to be.
  2. Complete the first 25 of the BBC The Big Read Top 100 (from 2003). So far I have only finished both Pride & Prejudice and Great Expectations. Jane Eyre slowed me down as a horribly difficult book to care reading. Catch-22 is going pretty well. I figure I am about 18.2% done, so I really need to pick up the pace.
  3. Welcome to Lowndesville
    Welcome to Lowndesville in SC
  4. No more complaining about Blackboard, Inc. Miserable failure so far. Of course, it has been a tough hundred days. Of course there were tough deadlines given with difficult challenges, which I overcame with tremendous local expertise.
  5. Attend more social events when invited. I have. I only skipped one because I did not feel like being social. Probably a new record for me?
  6. Go away more. Last month I took a random driving trip and ended up in South Carolina (where I snagged the Lowndesville photo). I guess because I took no trips like that last year, that makes me already successful. A few more should really make this successful.

Merry Christmas

Christmas Tree

So far it has been a good day. My grandmother the whole family has rallied around appears to be improving. The rest of the family are doing well. Friends are scattered to the four winds to visit with family.

I am content. It as been a good year.

Community

Are people in the United States more insular? Is technology getting in the way of us being able to communicate? Why is technology breaking up marriages according to NPR? The line which stood out to me is:

But opportunity is a key predictor of infidelity, and social media have increased opportunity exponentially.

Just 10 minutes before this aired on NPR, I was talking to George about my Dorm, Major, or Race post. The biggest factor as to the friends we make is opportunity. Kids going to a public K-12 school become friends with those in their neighborhood because that is who they are around all the time. Kids going to a college where they are unlikely to have easy access to high school friends means the kids become friends with those people they are around all the time. I proposed to George changes in who people consider their friends has more to do with where people spend time than a decrease in the need to be social.

Those of us who spend most of our time online will be friends with those people interact with online. Those of us who spend large amounts of time in coffee shops, bars, restaurants, or grocery stores get to know the other regulars and employees approximating friendship. Hobbyists getting together become friends precisely because they  spend so much time. Humans are social creatures so we spend time with others wherever we spend time. Even those isolated from the general public in prison develop ties with the other prisoners around them. Wherever we spend our time is the source of our new friends.

Every time we choose to spend time with specific people we choose to strengthen neural connections with those people. Physical contact like a hug which triggers the neurotransmitter oxytocin making us feel bonds to that person. Seeing *hug* or /hug may not deliver the same effect, but I suspect it delivers something similar. It may be just enough that we like the feeling.

Compared to hanging out in the neighborhood, social media provide richer opportunities. Being “friends” through social media result a win-win effects without taking as much effort on both parties. The risks are also lower for social media friends. Your friend across the street might judge you for the embarrassing thing you did out in the street, but your Facebook friends only know if someone blabs about it. So much easier to make and hold these relationships compared to what we go through locally.

Knowing the people who live in nearby buildings is useful. Positive social bonds means in ambiguous situations the assumptions will be positive rather than negative. The more neighbors who think positively about me, the less likely they will assume bad things about me. (Like that I look like a scary Muslim.)  As a knowledge worker I often put too much value on the person with ideas I like over the physical body to help me accomplish actions. I do occasionally need help doing things I cannot think my way through.

Dorm, Major, or Race

“College freshmen are more likely to make friends with peers they share a dorm room or major with than they are to befriend those from similar racial backgrounds…”

I barely remember my roommate from living in the dorm freshman year. He was as much a stranger to me as the person you routinely run into at the store. I felt trapped living on campus when I wanted to be a few miles away in my own bed. His leaving town on weekends to go see his girlfriend was good for me.

My initial declared major was pre-engineering. None of my true friends were also pre-engineering, but then again my true friends were mostly met in high school. The few friends I made in college were all over the place major-wise: pre-law, biology, chemistry, philosophy, english, education, business. They were people I met either in class or at work.

The researchers used Facebook as the measure of who are friends. Given most friendships on Facebook are weak ties rather than strong. The people we know well, trust, and hold great affection reflect our strong ties. The people we barely know, but on whom we depend for the information social networks convey are our weak ties. Facebook is excellent for this. From this perspective, if I were a freshman in college today, I probably would be getting as many people in my classes as I could. (This is why so many of my coworkers are in my list of friends. Don’t worry, Glenn, you are more than just an acquaintance. :))

Lives Intertwined

Minister
Britt and Adrianne with Minister

Had fun at brittsaqt and aya1081 ‘s wedding on Saturday. It was my first time pretending to know what I am doing with a camera and tripod. Aya1081 is happy with the results, so I am happy. This was first time anyone has ever asked me to do a wedding, so I ended up reading a lot about what to do over the past few months. Still, I came into it without really knowing what I am doing even so much as directing people. (Normally I just hang out and take pictures of what I want.) Photographing more weddings and learning from my mistakes will make me better.

Rings
Rings