Sunday, December 21, 2008

observations on punctuality

Was just now trying to figure out how I screwed up my link to another blog in my previous post and got to looking through my archives and happened across this one. I wrote it almost a year ago but for some reason never published it. Blogger probably crapped out when I tried and I just gave up, wouldn't surprise me. But the sentiment still holds true. I'm still amazed at the rampant tardiness that seems to be a constant at every organized event these days.

For example, just this morning in church, when the service actually started (i.e. the prelude music finished) the room felt a bit empty, as if there was nobody near me. This is unusual, as the service probably gets 100+ each week. So I took a quick glance around, and I counted eight. Eight people. There were more musicians up front, plus the two pastors, than there were congregants in the seats. Wow, I thought, this winter weather must be making a LOT of people wait until the later service. Well, each time there was a break in the service, more folks trickled in, and before long there were probably 50 in there.

Now you can guess what I'm thinking. It's not like the service started at a different time than it starts at every week, so why was the vast majority of the congregation not even close to being on time? I know I really shouldn't throw rocks, and I'm not at all perfect on the whole punctuality thing, but...come on, people!! It's like folks just completely don't care about showing the basic respect to be on time anymore. Crazy...

Anyway, the original from last winter is below...

More and more over the past year or so, I've focused a bit of effort on trying to be on time to things, with moderate results. I've always been a little annoyed with my own inability (and also that of others) to be responsible enough to show up on time. I strongly believe one's punctuality is a reflection of one's respect for others* and willingness to commit and be held accountable for not just schedules but anything. And, well, having long ago graduated from college and having had ample time to learn how to do this whole adult thing, I figured I'd best try to become more diligent and unlazy in at least one small area of my life.

I'm actually on time to most things now, at least those that have a defined start time--which (thankfully) doesn't include work. I used to be one of the consistent latebirds, always wandering in at least a few minutes past when I had intended to show up. But now, heck, I even get to church early most of the time now--when I bother to go these days, that is--and that's something that has rarely happened over the years. And I'm often one of the first to arrive at things like small groups and dinners and the like, such that it feels a bit awkward being there when it's only the host and/or one or two people, as if I'm walking in way too early or something. Needless to say, being on time has made some habits I see stand out more than before, like how often people are late to so much stuff.

It's actually quite annoying to show up to something on time and have to wait around for others to wander in the door late before anything can get started. This isn't some third-world culture, folks, where people are used to just doing their own thing at their own pace and seem to cross paths with one another almost as if by sheer coincidence. This is the U.S. and we understand the importance of schedules and timeliness here--or should. So many things require a set schedule and an ability to meet that schedule that it's surprising to me how prevalent this problem is. Is it too much to ask of someone to make enough of an effort to arrive and be prepared on time or at least pretty close?

Yet it never ceases to amaze me how many people are always late to everything they go to. Seriously, there are people I can think of that I can't remember having ever been on time even once to anything I've been to, and we've done no small amount of stuff together. Okay, nobody's perfect and sometimes things happen that prevent us from showing up on time. At any scheduled thing there will be someone who doesn't get there on time for whatever good or bad reason. But every time? Come on! And I'm not getting nitpicky over a minute or two here, as if they're within some margin of error and their clocks are just set differently or whatever. I'm talking 10+ minutes, sometimes 20-30 or so.

Really, the more I see this the more I'm convinced it's just inexcusable. There is no reason at all a self-sufficient adult shouldn't be able to notice this consistency in his or her life and correct it. We're not talking about some kind of chronic illness or something here, right? We're just talking about adjusting one's schedule or approach to things such that the problem doesn't recur every time one goes somewhere or does something. If even I can make progress on that front then it can't be that hard.

* One of my favorite quotes is something I read on way back in my UIUC days and have managed to (loosely) remember all these years, something like, "The willingness to discipline oneself for the benefit of others is the essence of maturity." What a great summation of how we ought to live, and one that's especially applicable in this context.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

worldviews on display

I recently read an exchange between two folks, and found it interesting enough to link to. MarkyMark is a blogger that I've taken up reading quite often, as he has good stuff to say, writes well enough to reflect some intelligence, and comes at things from a more-or-less balanced perspective. (And when he may be biased, I usually agree with him so I don't mind!) And he seems capable of honest introspection, which is more than can be said of a lot of people these days. The comments and ensuing follow-up conversations to his posts are pretty good too, though of course I can't say I agee with all of the commenters.

He recently reposted a response he'd written to a commenter's critique of his earlier post. So read Mark's original post first, and Christopher's comment to it, then read Mark's response to Chris. (See links below.) I found this to be a very interesting display of how different, and at times, opposing, worldviews confront the same problem--that being the lack of respect and maturity too often seen in western women (a fact that can only go unchallenged by anyone with two or more brain cells and who lives in a western society, by the way) and the "system" that results from such behavior.

In my opinion, both men have shown via previous posts, comments, etc., that they're the intelligent and rational types worth at least paying attention to. Both men are middle-aged and in similar stations in life. Both are articulate and capable of expressing their opinions coherently, which is another thing that can't be said of too many contemporaries. Both have some knowledge of what's in the Bible, even if they agree with it to differing degrees. And both have recognized and are addressing the same issue. But one comes at it from a Christian worldview--although he says he's "backslidden" he clearly has at least the trappings of a Christian worldview--while the other approaches it from what he'd probably say is a deist worldview and thus one that requires no real accountability (to a higher power) on his part. This shows the difference that worldview makes in how we view things. Same problem, two dramatically different responses.


Lest We Become What We Despise... (original post, with follow-up comments)

Response to comment on original post

first snowstorm

...was a letdown of sorts. It was a good snow by previous standards but nothing to get super excited about. For lunch I walked several blocks up to an Italian place in the North End for a meatball sub (with about three meals worth of meatballs on it, haven't touched food for the rest of the day and am still not hungry--good stuff) and was actually a little disappointed with how underwhelming the storm was. There was maybe 6-8" out there, and there was some snow coming down, but overall it wasn't the kind of New England pounding I was braced for. I cancelled my car service appointment this morning when I woke up and saw snow still falling and slushy roads, but after the walk I think I might as well have ventured out on wheels too.

Maybe I'll take my camera to church tomorrow and get some pics on the way back. But, overall, not too weak but definitely not up to all the hype either.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ben franklin quote

Just picked up a good quote by Ben Franklin from the Dr. Helen comment boards:
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"
Now tell me that doesn't accurately sum up the mob rule we see in this country and where we're headed.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

first snow of the season

Took this pic earlier today from my living room...

The snowflakes aren't very visible in that but they're huge. I like snow though. The walk to and from church this morning through the streets was awesome, with the snow coming down heavy and that hazy look and all. Give me winter stuff over a beach any day. Of course, the snow really isn't sticking right now, so who knows if I'll still say that when there's a few feet of the stuff out there. There is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

For now, the snow has stopped and there's none on the sidewalks outside. Crap...the wait continues...

the profound insight of barack

So Mr. Obama thinks our economy "is going to get worse before it gets better"...okay, thanks for the news flash there, Barack. Good to know he's inhabiting the same planet as the rest of us and has an IQ of at least 12. According to the article, he also "pledged a recovery plan 'equal to the task' and warned lawmakers that the days of pork barrel spending are over." Okay, every politician promises at some point to end pork barrel spending and it hasn't happened yet. So that's nothing but a bunch of smoke (no pun intended)--not that he can do any worse than past presidents have on that one. But I read that last bit as a promise of large-scale government intervention, which is always, ALWAYS a bad thing. We know that implies lots of money, a trillion bucks or more probably...and we all know where the government likes to get money to play with...yup, from those who have money to give. Not that I'm surprised by the peril that seems to lie ahead, but it is a bit of a downer to hear yet another suit outright saying such intervention is a good thing.

On a slightly related note, anyone out there have any great ideas for somehow getting money out of "the U.S. system" (legally) and into a global bank account or something? Or some other account somewhere where it's not subject to the oversight and taxation of a government that has proven over and over it will leave no stone unturned in its search for more cash? If you do then please pass those ideas along. Fast.

nightclubs = worse than death

One of the things I've enjoyed most about finally having a computer that actually works is being able to check out good blogs again. One of those, of course, is MarkyMark's web hangout. And my first visit in months didn't disappoint. He has a post that links to this fine article about the terrors that are nightclubs. Great stuff.

As anyone who has known me is well aware, I've never gotten into the whole "clubbing" scene. I've never seen it as more than a waste of time, and the rare occasions in which I've found myself in loud, overcrowded bars, in which I'm constantly bumping shoulders with at least three other people and having to scream at someone two feet away to make conversation of any sort, have left me with the distinct impression that nightclubs must be at the bottom of the pit of society when it comes to...well, just about any metric you choose. They bring out the worst in culture. Brooker's take on clubs as "dungeons full of posing idiots" is an apt one methinks. One could argue that, aside from feminism, the club scene is Western society's worst contribution to history. If there's something worse or more debasing to humanity, I hope I never have the extreme misfortune of encountering it.

Anyway, there's a short welcome-back rant about how screwed up the world is. I'd better get off to do something else or I'll be here all day...