Wednesday, January 24, 2007

19 - Answers

Q: Bill Jeffers - Are you running for political office anytime soon?
A: I hadn't planned on it. For one thing, I really don't want to dedicate the time and money to the effort of running for public office. For another thing, I haven't lived in any one place in my adult life long enough to feel like I could adequately represent the population of that place. I've been in Rochester for almost 5 years, but I still don't consider myself a "New Yorker".

In addition, I'd make a pretty lousy candidate for public office because I'm a big proponent of personal responsibility. Because of this, my candidacy would consist of my telling people to do things for themselves. That's not the way to win elections. The way to win elections is to tell people that:
1. Your life sucks (and it will get worse if the other guy wins).
2. It's not your fault (it's the other guy's fault).
3. I'll solve your problems by punishing people whom you think are more powerful than you (the other guy).

Quick Tim History: The last time I ran for anything was when I ran for Pep Band President in 2000/2001, and anyone who was around during my administration knows that it wasn't a stellar success. I didn't exactly run the band into the ground, but I certainly wasn't as good of a President as I could have been. There are many reasons for this (and I won't bore you with the details of my personal life), but suffice it to say that the experience taught me some things about holding public office. I would certainly take these lessons with me, but the fact that I held the office makes me take pause when considering taking another.

I guess the real answer to your question is "No", but that's only because you put the qualifier "anytime soon" into the body of the question. Will I ever run for public office? I don't know. Ask me after I die if I did.

Q: Nicole Maloney - New Years resolutions... you have any? Why do people choose a resolution for the "New Year"? What percentage of resolutions are followed through with?
A: I actually did make some New Year's Resolutions this year, though I haven't really thought of them that way. I see these "resolutions" more as lifestyle changes than true resolutions. Still, I guess you could consider them to be New Years' Resolutions, so here they are:
1. Lose Weight: Ah, the most universal of all New Year's Resolutions; I won't win any originality awards, but I've put on some weight over the past few years (between 20 and 30 pounds), and it's time to get rid of it. I bought an exercise bike over the summer, and I've been using it about 2-3 times per week since New Years. I'm also eating less (though still not as little as I should be). Will I be sharing details of my weight loss adventures? Not unless you all are really interested, and I doubt that you are, so I won't waste your time or mine.
2. Finish What I Start: I have a LOT of projects left over from 2006 (and 2005, 2004, etc). These include things like my first NaNoWriMo novel, my third album, organizing my digital life, and setting up my personal finances better. I will be working on these through 2007.
3. Grow Up: This one is a little more personal. I'll get more into this in the coming weeks.

To answer your other questions, I think that people choose resolutions for the "New Year" because the New Year represents new beginnings. It's a chance to leave behind habits of the past and pick up new habits for the future. A chance to start over, as it were. It's an entirely arbitrary thing when you stop and think about it, since the New Year could conceivably fall on any day, but it's still psychologically significant.

And finally, via, here are some statistics on how long people stick with their New Year's resolutions:
- past the first week: 75%
- past 2 weeks: 71%
- after one month: 64%
- after 6 months: 46%

So if you can keep up your resolutions for more than 6 months, then you're doing better than half of humanity. And that's pretty good.

Friday, January 12, 2007

18 - Answers

Q: Karyn Graves - Where did you go?
A: I'll hit this one first, since it gives me the chance to explain my absence. After my last post I went back to NH to visit my parents for Christmas. Then I came back here in time to spend New Years at the Stoffel's (which was a great time, by the way). Since then I've just been trying to keep up with life in general. I have been editing and finishing my novel from this year's NaNoWriMo, playing several shows with my band, and watching Season 5 of 24 as fast as I can in preparation for the new season. In short, I've been busy. Is that an excuse? No, not really. If I'd really wanted to get this done sooner I certainly could have done it. I've been lax, and I'm sorry. I hope my answers to this rather eclectic bunch of questions are worth the wait.

Q: Bill Jeffers - Easy question: Wii or PS3?
A: This is not as easy a question as I thought. Both of these two next generation systems have their advantages and appeals in my mind. The Wii is (relatively) cheap, has the ability to play GameCube games directly as well as a huge library of Nintendo and Sega games through emulation (via an online service), and has a very cool game control interface. The PS3 can play the entire library of PS1 and PS2 games, is fully HD capable, and has the ability to play BluRay movies. Both have extensive online abilities, and both have great games that I would go out and buy immediately if I bought the system (Zelda for the Wii and Resistance for the PS3).

If money were no object (and if I could only get one) I would definitely go with the PS3. I've got a larger library of PS1 and PS2 games, and there are a lot of game families that will be out for the PS3 that I enjoy (Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, etc). However, money is definitely a variable in this equation. The Wii retails for $250, while the PS3 can cost as much as $700. With that in mind, I'd have to say that the Wii is my first choice.

Will I buy either of them right away? No. When my PS2 bites the dust, I'll replace it with a PS3. I probably won't wait for my GameCube to die before buying a Wii to replace it, though I'll most likely wait until the price drops $50 or so. We'll see.

Q: Lisa Jeffers - is Santa real?
A: This is one of the most complicated questions that's ever been posed to me. I'm going to tackle it in three different ways: literal, historical, and esoteric. These interpretations depend on what one means by "Santa". Keep reading and hopefully it'll become clear.

Literal: If by "Santa" you mean the fat, jolly man who lives at the North Pole and runs a massive toy manufacturing and distribution enterprise, then no. He is not real. Sorry. Now, the various men (and some women) who dress up in red suits and play "Santa Claus" are real. In that sense, Santa is real because those people are real. Do they run around on Christmas night delivering toys to the good girls and boys? No, probably not. But they are playing the role of Santa, and thus keeping the idea of Santa alive, and I think that counts for something.

Historical: The figure we know today as "Santa Claus" is based on a real man named Saint Nicholas. Many cultures picked up on this figure and created their own interpretations and legends around him. I won't get too much into detail on this one; click here for a really good Wikipedia article on the origins of Santa. It's pretty complete, and I won't try and top it.

Esoteric: The way I look at it, Santa Claus can be viewed as the spirit of giving in the holiday season (that holiday being Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadan, or whatever floats your boat). In that more romantic sense, Santa is real as long as people keep giving gifts to one another. Sappy? Yes, and I acknowledge that. But I get pretty sentimental this time of year, so indulge me. As I've grown older, the real meaning of Christmas has changed for me. It's no longer just about toys and presents. It's about family and giving. I take a lot of joy in giving presents to my friends and loved ones.

Final answer: Yes. Santa is real.

Q: Karyn Graves - How likely is it that there was just one mouse in the house (that we already caught), and so we can put the traps away now? (or should we do some other work to prevent any further occurences?)
A: It's been three weeks since you asked me this question. If you haven't seen any mice since then, I think it's likely that the mouse you caught was acting alone. It's always possible that it wasn't, however. I would keep traps out for another couple of weeks just to be sure. As far as preventing further occurences, you should keep all doors and windows firmly shut to prevent more mice from getting inside. You should also remove incentives for them to be in your house in the first place. Don't leave food lying around, clean up crumbs, etc.

Q: Brett Gobe - Tupac or Big E Smalls?
A: It should be perfectly obvious that I'm neither. Seriously? I'm not a hip-hop or rap fan at all. If forced to choose, I'd say Tupac because his songs were at least slightly tolerable. Big E Smalls was someone I could never take seriously. I heard that he was somewhat of a philanthropist, and if that's the case then that's a good thing, but he still wrote and recorded bad music.