Sunday, November 20, 2005

What is Causing My Ex's to Go Insane?

I am sure many of my readers have never heard of the “Three S’s” but they are a widely used barometer to judge the “marriage viability” of women. They are, in order, Smart – Sexy, and Sane. It is extremely rare to find all three in the same woman but if one does, so the saying goes, you should marry her. I have been looking for quite some time and have found a few who I thought met that high bar but, thus far, have found myself disappointed in the end. It seems that I am very good at picking out the smart/sexy women but, for some strange reason, sanity has eluded me. I have begun to think that as they all seemed fairly sane at the beginning of our relationship perhaps it is me who is precipitating their irrational behavior. Could that be? Is it possible that somehow, via my own actions, I am driving the people I date to act completely and utterly without reason? It is a topic worth addressing as it could have major implications for my relationships in the future.

I have taken the time to construct a small graph of the relative sanity of my previous girlfriends versus the % progress of the total time we were together. A disturbing trend is evident. In all of the cases, save for J, the women I date end up dramatically less sane after spending a significant amount of time with me.

At first glance, one might assume a causal relationship between the amount of time a woman spends with me and her progress towards insanity. Fortunately, I have been schooled in the intricacies of data analysis so I am not likely to make such a superficial assumption. Let’s address the possible relationships between these factors point by point.

#1 I am Driving My Girlfriends Totally Insane.

I put this first to avoid any appearance of bias in this article. I take seriously the possibility that I could be somehow pushing the people I date to the brink. Upon addressing the facts though, it seems somewhat unlikely. First, none of my actions are of the type which normally elicit bizarre behavior on the part of significant others. I don’t drink excessively, I don’t verbally or emotionally abuse anyone I date. I am considerate, kind, and caring and always supportive of my partner’s dreams and aspirations. I have never cheated on a girlfriend and am, whenever possible, upfront about my intentions. I can think of some idiosyncricies which might be considered annoying such as bizarre humor, tendency towards being aloof in light of my partner’s interaction with members of the opposite sex, and love of subjects not usually discussed at dinner (i.e. political philosophy, sociology etc..). I may be biased but I just can’t seem to glean from any of these qualities what exactly would be causing my girlfriends to go insane. Thus it seems unlikely that my actions directly are somehow the cause of the mental instability I have observed in my ex’s and so we must move on to other possibilities.

#2 My Girlfriends Aren’t Going Insane, I Am.

This is a distinct possibility. Reality is, of course, perception and as such it may be the case that as the world stays the same around me (i.e. my mate’s sanity) and I change everything just seems off kilter. I will admit to being somewhat insane in my day. I would go so far to state the vast majority of my college years were spent in some form of abnormal mental state or another. As I have gotten older though, I feel that I have developed a much more objective view of myself, and my actions, than I had in the past (Thank you Karl, P, and Tim). In addition one might expect that as I slowly (or precipitously depending on mate – see graph) lost my sanity other people in my life might recognize this and comment on it. The fact that this has never happened may indicate the unwillingness of my friends and family to comment on my mental state but that is unlikely. Why? First, because my Mother alone has no problem in pointing out mistakes that I may be making. This isn’t a negative, it is a positive. She doesn’t do it in a mean or demeaning way, she is the rock of a moral/philosophical arbiter which we should all have in our life. So it would seem that at the very least my family would comment on my progressive loss of sanity. This has not happened although they have in the past delicately questioned the sanity of my girlfriends (Very delicately. My family is loathe to intrude on my feelings when it comes to women although in retrospect I wish that they had sometimes been more active in their objections).

#3 My Girlfriends Were Always Insane and the Graph Just Reflects My Slow Realization of that Fact.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I consider this to be the most likely possibility. I am somewhat of an optimist. I tend to believe the best about people and, more importantly, see in them the things I want to see rather than what is actually there. Does this mean that all women are insane (absolutely not) or, does this study somehow suffer from a selection bias (Not likely as the four relationships on the graph represent the totality of the serious relationships I have had over the past 10 years). Perhaps I somehow seek out unstable women? Superficially I would have to say no. The qualities I find most attractive; wit, intelligence, ambition, and aesthetics seem to be incompatible with mental instability but, the fact remains that most women that I have dated have had at least a majority of those qualities but have nonetheless often acted in truly bizarre ways. The vast majority of women with these qualities aren’t irrational. In fact, I would go so far to say that the portion of the female population which possesses these attributes are less likely to suffer from insecurity, depression, or maladaptive behavior than the population as a whole. So, as much as I do not like saying it perhaps there is something in women who have “a little bit of interest” that I find attractive. My most recent girlfriend was so high-maintenance she made the space shuttle look like a huffy tricycle but I think it just made me that much more intrigued. If this is the case it is indicative of some pathology of which I must rid myself. Looking for a challenge is one thing, dating Delilah with trust issues as deep as the Marianas trench is quite another.

#4 My Definition of Insane is “Whoever Doesn’t Agree With Me”

This is possible. We are all liable to characterize actions with which we can neither empathize nor sympathize as "bizarre" or "irrational". In this case, it is useful to solicit outside opinions about the behavior of your ex. I have to say at this point that there were times when I characterized someone's behavior as insane simply because I didn't agree with it (particularly in the case of A) but, I can also name a number of incomprehensible actions performed by each of these women (I am using the term “insane” loosely in this blog) that any reasonable person would say were not only irrational but also unwarranted.

It’s quite possible that the trend observed in the “Insanity Index Graph” is due to a confluence of all of these factors. In fact, it’s likely. I certainly hope my next relationship bucks the trend though and heads north as we progress towards the 100% mark rather than the sharp drops south observed thus far. If not, I may be making a graph of my own sanity with a zero slope, right at “0” the whole time.

Friday, November 18, 2005

If you are in San Francisco...

Hey there. If you are a reader and reside in or around the San Fran region drop me a line at goldinthemine at gmail (the full address is just a click away on the side of this page) dot com. I hate those e-mail bots who steal addresses.....

I am looking to start a collaboration of sorts.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Our Gratitude

It is easy, too easy, for all of us to forget the sacrifices made on our behalf so that we may enjoy the simple pleasures of freedom. In honor of Veterans Day I have decided to post President Ronald Reagan’s speech from the top of Pointe du Hoc on the 40th anniversary of D-day. May we all hope that should ever so terrible a war recur that we face it with a fraction of the honor and bravery of the men who walked off the boats that day prepared to give their lives for an idea so abstract as freedom.

President Reagan’s Remarks:

The ceremonies honoring the fortieth anniversary of D day became more than commemorations. They became celebrations of heroism and sacrifice.

This place, Pointe du Hoc, in itself was moving and majestic. I stood there on that windswept point with the ocean behind me. Before me were the boys who forty years before had fought their way up from the ocean. Some rested under the white crosses and Stars of David that stretched out across the landscape. Others sat right in front of me. They looked like elderly businessmen, yet these were the kids who climbed the cliffs.*

We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.

Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.

And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."

I think I know what you may be thinking right now -- thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him -- Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry, I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles, who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold; and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots' Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet," and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4:00 am. In Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying. And in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance -- a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. The Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II. 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We're bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we're with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their value [valor] and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Brazilian

I am slowly coming to be familiar with the practices and customs of the modern workplace. I know where to park my car, who to avoid in the mornings, and when to just listen during meetings (That last one could enjoy a little more popularity among employees in my opinion). I also like to think I know the line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. For example, saying “That is a nice color on you” would be what I deem to be an innocuous, appropriate, socially relevant comment. For some reason, one of my co-workers, a professional with a terminal degree, insists on making sexual comments. She is a female, not stunningly attractive, but constantly alludes to what I consider to be subjects which should be off-limits in the work place. My first experience with this situation was during a conversation about how she is unhappy with her husband’s dressing habits. Apparently he wears extremely baggy jeans and she stated (vociferously) that she likes to see a “little ass on her men” then described in detail how she is an “ass woman”. Personally, I am neither offended nor made uncomfortable by these comments. What I am is stunned that she would make them in a professional environment. Having given you a bit of background perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by what happened recently.

I was in the laboratory when she came in, ostensibly to ask me to e-mail her a few needed files. She started off the conversation by telling me how hungry she was. As it was 2:30 I asked why she hadn’t eaten lunch. It was then that she told me that she had had a “waxing appointment. Upon hearing that I immediately scanned her face for evidence of recently sculpted eyebrows, or even a red mark where a mustache used to be but there was nothing. Knowing where the conversation could be leading I said absolutely nothing. She, of course, wouldn’t let that go. She went on to tell me that unfortunately her “regular” wasn’t there so she couldn’t actually get anything done. This brought a glimmer of hope, perhaps she had back hair? Why would she need to go to one particular woman for grooming anything else? I responded with an “Oh, you have one particular woman that you like?” Bad move, it was just the in she was waiting for and replied “Oh no, the other women aren’t qualified to do Brazilians.”

How the hell am I supposed to respond to that? I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of the forced statement. The only thing I could come up with was “Wow, you need to be certified to do that? Does that come with a diploma you hang on your wall? What type of training does that entail?” When in doubt, immediately go into logistics, that way you can avoid any emotional content. She had no answer (fortunately) and left. I would complain if it wasn’t hilarious. Of course, if the comments become directed I will have to say something. What, I have no idea. I just have to wonder though, what goes through someone’s mind when they decide to say things like that? Were they brought up by parents who owned chains of porn shops? Were they so sheltered they feel they need to react to their prior constraints? In any case, the next time you are going for an “All Out” bikini wax make sure you search for the diploma on the wall. Apparently they are required.

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