Archive for the ‘Rambling’ Category

One common tendency among many people is the unfortunate fallacy of thinking in extremes. That is, if you don’t agree with a particular point, then you must be for its polar opposite, with no room for shades of grey in between.

For instance, I remember as a young adult complaining that I had no intimate relationship with a man and talking with my sister about it. She would immediately get huffy and tell me that being alone was far preferable to living with an asshole.

Of course that is true, but I would always answer her by saying, “Are those my only two choices? Asshole or alone? Surely there are other choices in between those two extremes?”.

Another example I see often on Facebook is a type of comment that predictably appears in response to articles dealing with animal abuse. These commenters want to know why people care so much about animals when there are so many children being abused.

Their unspoken erroneous assumption is that people can care about only one issue at a time; that if you care about one issue, then you could not possibly care about the other. It apparently has never occurred to them that one can care about the abuse of animals AND children, both at the same time. For them, life is all about either/or and never both/and.

Still another example of this sort of thinking is one I see on message boards. Sometimes, a member will decide they’ve been spending too much time at the board and will decide to take a break from it. But instead of simply not visiting the board for an extended period of time, they take the drastic step of completely unsubscribing from the board and deleting their account.

Another common example of extreme, black and white thinking often happens in response when an individual woman attempts to do a non-traditional job, such as being a fire fighter, and fails.

Predictably, many people will point to her individual failure as proof positive that ALL women are unsuited to such work where, with a man, they’d just shrug and say it was his own personal failure and implied nothing at all about other men.

Thinking in extremes is dualistic, black and white thinking that does not allow for multiple possibilities or shades of grey.  It is usually a false dichotomy.


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From cradle to grave, girls and women are continually exhorted to always be attractive,  in how we look and how we act.    This goes well beyond simply attracting a romantic or sexual partner; it is something women are expected to be in every type of interaction with others

Not to be considered attractive is commonly viewed as a major faux pas for women in that we’ve failed at what some consider one of the most important mandates for our sex.  Men, on the other hand, are rarely, if ever, hectored about being attractive.

Contrary curmudgeon that I am, I have often wondered why it’s so vitally important to be attractive all the time.  Why on Earth do I need to be constantly attracting something for?  I’m not a strip of fly paper, for crap’s sake.

Most people believe that if one is not attractive, then they are, by default, repulsive, but I don’t buy that.  Surely, there is a neutral midpoint somewhere between attractiveness and repulsiveness.

Most of the time I seek neither to attract nor repel; I just want to be me and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t want to have to be always “on” all the time.

Your mileage may vary, but this is how I see it.

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This morning, I read a Forbes article about the “Happiest Jobs in America”.  CareerBliss compiled a list of the 20 happiest careers, after analyzing the results of a survey they gave.  Survey respondents were asked to rate 10 different factors affecting workplace satisfaction and prioritize those factors according to the importance they placed on each factor.The factors included one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis.

CareerBliss’ chief executive, Heidi Golledge said,  “Many of the happiest jobs have some component with working with people. Folks who work with others tend to rate their happiness higher on our site.

This made me think that the survey probably did not factor in differences in age and, particularly, personality.

For myself, I rate as an INTP on the Myers-Briggs personality test, which is introverted, and the older I get, the more introverted I become.  Working with the public and closely with co-workers is stressful to me and I’ve always  viewed it as something to be endured, rather than a source of workplace happiness.  Since most jobs are this way, I’ve spent most of my working life in jobs where I’ve had to fight my weaknesses, rather than getting to work with my strengths.  Naturally, this does not make for a happy work place for me.

After reading the article, I sat and pondered what would make for a congenial workplace for me.

Because I’m in my fifties now, I’m not really interested in a job that offers opportunities for advancement; my mind is set on marking time until I can retire.  I prefer a job in a laid back environment that is as stress-free as possible and allows me to leave it at the door at quitting time.  To this end, I wish to avoid fast-paced, hectic jobs, where the bottom line matters more than the process.  I prefer to work independently and have a boss who does not micromanage nor has authority issues.  I essentially want to be left alone to do my work in peace and be given sufficient time to do it right.  I do not want to work long hours, because that throws life out of balance.  Flexible hours and/or getting the chance to work at home would be perfect.  Adequate insurance and retirement, along with reasonable sick/personal leave and vacation days is essential, too.

I don’t mind if a job is boring because I don’t define myself on what I do to earn money.  To me, boring beats the hell out of frantic any day.   A job has always been simply a means to an end for me; I’ve always worked to live and not lived to work.  After all, no one ever said on their deathbeds they wished they’d spent more time at the office.

Making lots of money would be nice, but as long as I have enough to meet my bills, with a little left over to save and spend for pleasure, I am satisfied.  Indeed, I think that time is the most important commodity one has and I seek to give up as little of it to make a living as I can practically get by with.  What’s the use of making scads of money if you have to work 70 hours a week to get it?  You spend most of your waking hours at work and what’s left either exhausted or asleep, so you don’t get to enjoy it much, anyway.  Time, once spent, is gone, and none of us gets to live forever.

So, to me, it’s better to make a more modest salary if it gives you more time to do the things that matter most to you.

What makes for a happy workplace for you?



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While reading the book, Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, the author pointed out that one reason why very young children are so susceptible to gender role stereotypes is because of in-group bias; that they naturally want to like what they perceive as belonging to their in-group.   Because a person’s sex is continually emphasized through clothing, hairstyles, language, colors, and so on from the very beginning of a child’s life, children quickly deduce that what sex they are is something very important; more important than any other category they might fall into.  So, children are quick to adopt the things that have been presented to them as “belonging” to their sex and avoid the things labeled as for the other sex as a way of showing in-group pride.

The author went on to mention studies where children’s willingness to play with so-called opposite sex toys  varied depending on whether they perceived other children to be watching them.  That is, they were more willing to play with a wider variety of toys when they thought themselves unobserved.

Thinking back to my own early childhood in the 1960s, I remember wanting to belong to the group, but not so much if it meant giving up my right to be different.  Then, as now, I believed that everyone shouldn’t have to be the same in order to belong.  I liked plenty of “girl” things, such as Barbie dolls and dressing up in costumes, but I also like plenty of “boy” things, such as Tonka trucks and climbing trees.

Characters on TV and in movies and books didn’t have to be the same sex as me in order for me to identify with them, either.  I remember being about five years old and loving the Andy Griffith show and wanting to be a sheriff because of it.  Not once did I think I couldn’t be one, even though it was 1963. This was because I didn’t associate Andy Griffith’s maleness with his ability to be a sheriff any more than I would have thought that having the same color hair he had would have been necessary.  It was entirely beside the point for me.

Though female characters in the media were far less common than male ones when I was growing up, the ones I did identify with were the independent, tomboy types.   As a little kid, Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls Wilder were two of my favorite book characters.   I was far more attracted to the spunky and adventurous Laura who regularly flouted the gender role stereotypes of her time, to the insipidly “good” Mary.

I was also lucky to have parents who encouraged me in anything I might be interested in and did not restrict me to the “girls” side of the toy or book stores.  I remember my mother buying me a toy sheriff’s badge and hat when I told her that’s what I wanted to be.  Never once did either of my parents tell me that girls couldn’t do that kind of work.  And I indeed grew up to work for nearly ten years in law enforcement twenty years later.  My parents did not consciously practice non-sexist child raising; rather, they subscribed to the general belief that their children could grow up to be anything they set their minds and efforts on being.

Though I agree with what Ms Fine described in the book, she did not address what factors accounted for kids like me who managed to escape the gender role prison, despite wanting to be belong to one’s peer group.  It’s something I’d be curious to know.


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