Monthly Archives: June 2005

I was reading this post by Witty Sex Kitten where Over-educated Nympho said:

Clueless Engineer sounds like the type of guy who pisses off most of womankind–then when we meet nice guys they wonder why the hell we’re so damn bitter and cynical.

From personal experience, I have a couple issues with that. Namely that the assmunch and the guy her bitterness if being projected on are often very different people. I’ve had the dating formulation of the following conversation more than a couple times:

Cat: Hey, pet me.

Lady: I don’t know… last time I pet a cat, it bit my arm and I had to go to the emergency room.

Cat: I’m sorry about your experience. Tell me more about it.

Lady: Well I was out in the woods and I ran across this wild cougar. I decided to pet it and it nearly bit my arm off!

Cat: Wait… a wild cougar?

Lady: Yes, and it bit me from here to here. It hurt so bad…

Cat: Lady, I’m not a cougar, I’m a calico.

Lady: Well you’re both cats.

Men and women both tend to repeat mistakes in relationships. Both also tend to project their relationships that failed in the past to future ones. Often – very often – when it’s least appropriate to do so.

There are absolutely instances where a man or woman’s selfish or mean streak only becomes apparent after some time. Usually, though, you can see these things pretty early on if you’re looking. Frequently, however, we ignore those signs and proceed. The succeeding burn scars into a shoulder-based chip that we tend to take out on everyone indiscriminately and then, indiscriminately, we let go and leave ourselves wide open to get hurt in much the same way again.

I know that for a while in my life, the mistake that I was not going to commit always seemed to be whatever one I had committed most recently. I’ve seen this over and over again in women. And men, of course.

On the other hand, “tend to my wounds” is a great posture for women to take. Guys are generally willing to for ladies that they dig and unwilling to for ones that they want to use for sex, companionship, and whatever. It doesn’t work quite as well for men, so I advocate taking all that hurt and rage to the gun range or use it to smash stuff. Or you can take vicarious pleasure in seeing stuff shredded. A guy can’t really go wrong watching an industrial shredder at work.

Category: Coffeehouse

This day in history, courtesy of the Daily Rotten:

Mormon leader Joseph Smith, along with his brother Hyrum, are shot and killed by a mob while in jail at Carthage, Illinois. According to church legend, after Smith is shot a man raises a knife to decapitate him, but is thwarted by a thunderbolt from heaven.

Not to be a smart-ass or anything, but if God was just itching to get that involved in that series events, maybe he could have gotten involved just a tad sooner and actually saved Smith’s life?

Or maybe there’s some anti-decapitation dictum I am unfamiliar with.

Category: Church

I spent the weekend doing many things, among them having a nice chat with Ethan from The Vision Thing for his Podcast audio show. With any luck, audio editing magic will simultaneously allow me to sound coherent and entertaining, but that remains to be seen.

As is usually the case, lots of wise and clever stuff came to mind after the discussion was over, so I will extrapolate on various ideas on this blog.

Unless I totally and completely come off like a dork, in which case I will delete this post, mention nothing more about it, and pretend that it never ever happened.

Category: Server Room

We had the graduation party for the third-year residents that are now either going off into private practice, working for the government, or moving from student to faculty. The head of the program gave an interesting speech on ethics and values. Family values and sexual freedom, he noted, were set to be the big conflict of the next several decades. He mentioned abortion, but talked more about homosexuality.

Judging by both 2000 and 2004 poll numbers, Deseret is one of the two most conservative states in the nation. For a variety of reasons, the medical profession veers noticeably to the right politically. But the subject of politics had me looking around and looking at how unorthodox this program – and the town that houses it – is.

Clancy works for Beck State University at Beck County Medical Center. The town we live in used to be called Fort Beck, named after an early military settlement by that name. Fort Beck was the civil outpost – the only town in Deseret that was created by the federal government rather than mineral/fur prospectors or Mormon settlers. When the federal government and Brigham Young’s boys got into some military scuffles, Fort Beck was on the other side of that.

When all was settled, the Fort was closed and the university was put in its place. The township was dissolved and merged with Zarahemla so that it could be administered by good, elected LDS folk. Even so, Fort Beck remains something of a liberal oasis in the conservative suburbs of one of the nation’s most conservative states. It’s a hub for those that don’t want to leave the area, don’t want to live in the capital city, and don’t want to convert religiously or politically. Incoincidentally, it has a pretty nasty reputation outside of the area. The Butt-crack of Deseret, it is called.

The residency program itself has become something of an anomaly as well. Clancy’s class became the first without a single Mormon and with that the residency as a whole became non-majority LDS for the first time since its inception. The incoming class is 2/3 female making it now a female-majority residency. In Deseret.

But this is Deseret. Fort Beck is split about 50/50 religiously (between LDS and not-LDS, putting Christians and atheists in the same category for the first time in their lives). But just the balance makes Fort Beck the most tolerable place in Deseret.

I work in a town called Mocum that’s about a 50-minute drive. Mocum is a reasonably educated place with a couple colleges all its own, though a lot of them have to go down to BSU to get the four-year-degree of their preference. There’s a county hospital near FalStaff, though they don’t have a residency of their own. One of the thoughts that occured to me during the residency director’s speech was that even if Mocum did have one, I’m not sure it would even occur to them to discuss issues like sexuality.

There is so much assumed here. Just as church is considered a good place to meet a prospective mate down south, it’s considered a good place to find employees up here. Not entirely legal, but pretty widespread. Though it hasn’t happened to me, it’s not uncommon to be asked what ward (religious jurisdiction in the LDS church) you belong to. It’s not even necessarily an effort to weed out non-LDS members. Around here that’s like asking a high school kid what school they go to. Yeah, some might be homeschooled, but you assume not unless otherwise informed. Of course, once they find out you’re not a member of the Brethren, your chances of getting hired go down.

Though I certainly can’t wait to get out, I live in a pretty impressive part of the country. A religious group that is very much a minority across the country have created a bubble for itself. While it’s frustrating to outsiders like me, the homogeny here provides a commonality that makes things considered out of bounds morally also out-of-bounds conversationally. As one who supports gay rights, gay marriage, and so on, this can be quite frustrating. But looking at it from the perspective of someone that disapproves of homosexuality and wants those issues to be introduced later in life, it’s impressive. Deseret has even touched on a national nerve, setting up a handful of companies that – with great controversy – edit VHS tapes to strip them of objectionable content.

And I think that’s a laudable goal. I also think that the modesty displayed in dress around here is not a bad thing, either. The education system is one of the best in the country. Government waste is kept to as minimum as government waste ever can be. The cultural homogeny is to credit for a lot of this. I’m not sure why any of the Brethren would ever want to leave her. Nor am I sure why Fort Beck exists because I’m not sure why any non-Mormon would ever want to stay here.

Back in Fort Beck, Clancy and I attended a community theater production. There were a couple of questionably-dressed young ladies in their young twenties (if that, probably not even). One of them had a stroller. Her provocative clothing was betrayed the charactistic underwear that Mormons wear in order to repel evil spirits. To repeat, she was wearing the characteristic underwear that Mormons wear in order to repel evil spirits. Back in Colosse, such a young lady would almost certainly be doing the club scene until her early thirties, when she would scramble to find someone that’ll do and start a family in the pristine suburbs. But the timeline is different here than it is anywhere else. And there’s no evil-repellant underwear.

I leaned over to Clancy and asked, “Do you ever get the feeling sometimes that we live in a foreign country?”

She did.

Category: Church

This past weekend was the annual retreat for Beck State’s residency program. For the second straight year her father had a convention in the area and so her parents went with us (last year her youngest sister came, but not this one). I’ve got a few posts coming up on various observations that I made over the weekend. This is the second.

During the retreat I got to meet Lex Rogan, a soon-to-be-second-year resident from Delosa that I’ve heard quite a bit about. I also got to meet Brit, his freshly-minted wife.

One of the little interesting tidbits of medical school is the gender-relationship disparity. Most of the men in medical school are either married or engaged while most of the women are not. The reasons for this are many.

In some quarters, young ladies are still explicitly or implicitly taught to seek in a man the ability to provide. At least moreso than men, to be sure. The ability of a man to financially take care of himself and a family is just higher on the average female than the average male. Chalk it up to evolution or antiquated societal norms or however you like, it remains generally true however not universally so.

Inversely, guys are conditioned, trained, or inclined to look for other traits. Birthin’ hips, beauty, grace, whatever. While I believe the alleged intimidation that men generally feel when confronted with a woman with higher income is greatly exaggerated, it remains true that a woman’s wealth and income potential won’t mean as much to the average man as it would for the average woman. Sometimes it does indeed work in the negative when a particular man has a machismo streak, a man figured (per previous paragraph) that a woman wants a man with equal or greater income (or “ability to provide”), or a man figures that a career-oriented woman is not interested in starting a family. While the latter two erroneous assumptions can be disproven, it becomes a lot less likely because guys are less inclined to approach an unknown female that they are not romantically interested in as readily as they would approach one that they are.

So rightly or wrongly (which is the question, explored below), a male doctor gets more mileage with the opposite sex than does his female peers. Armed with that, a lot of financially successful men that are not otherwise extraordinarily generally date upwards in terms of beaty, grace, background, etc. Dr. and Mrs. Rogan struck me very much along those lines. So the question of the day is how we, as a society, should look at this.

Not long ago I was talking to a coworker who was frustrated with his lack of relationship success. It was a not-atypical girls-only-like-jerks rant. He’s 20. Girls at that age – particularly the type he is interested in – often do have an unhealthy preference for jerks or are at least indifferent to jerkitude. That subsides (as does men’s indifference to a woman’s intelligence) as they get into their twenties, but that’s small comfort to the frustrated 20 year old.

It reminds me a bit of the movie Reality Bites, among others. In Reality Bites, Winona Ryder is left to choose between the authentic, unemployed, and intemperate Ethan Hawke and the responsible, personable Ben Stiller. She choses the former and we’re supposed to applaud her decision because Hawke’s character is authentic and real while Stiller’s is a sell-out. Poppycock. Hawke’s character is lazy, arrogant, and generally worthless. Stiller, meanwhile, actually contributes to society and and the arts (if one can call the MTV-knock-off he works at the arts). He also demonstrated the ability to care a little more about her than himself.

Which brings me back to Mrs. Rogan and the tendency of male doctors (and other rich males) to go the trophy-wife route. I can’t say that I’m particularly keen on that, either. A man is more than his pocketbook. I can’t imagine someone marrying for money being happy in the long-run just as I can’t imagine being happy having married someone that doesn’t appreciate my personality quirks. My authenticity. But in my single days I certainly did feel that the work I put in to school and my career should count for something and would get agitated at times when it seemed not to. And shouldn’t the time and effort they put in to medical school or Harvard Business School or whatever count for something?

In other words, if Stiller’s chances with Ryder should be positively reflected by the fact he holds down a full-time job (”can provide”,”is responsible”) over Hawke (”lazy”), shouldn’t then Wall Street Banker man’s chances with random female be positively influenced by his wealth when compared to earnest-but-middle-class civil engineer man? If not, why not? After all, he probably worked a lot harder to get where he is than the civil engineer. If sufficient employment is good, shouldn’t super-employment be super-good?

Am I drawing the line where I am simply because to my left are the super-authentic slobs and my right the stiff shirt accounting wizzes? Oftenly convenient, don’t you think?

Category: Coffeehouse

An unfortunate reality is that playing “hard to get” may not be such a bad idea in the realm of relationships. And while there are all kinds of marked similarities between hunting for a significant other and hunting for a job, I don’t think playing ‘hard to get’ translates as well from one to the other.

So with these things in mind, showing up for my interview at the wrong place and effectively standing up my potential employer was not one of my brighter ideas.

Category: Office

Me, Yesterday: I have got to cut down on my junkfood intake. I’m spending too much money on too much crappy food. So resolved, since I have run out of cash I’m going to go to work without any cash tomorrow. That’ll force me to behave.

Me, This morning: Clancy, do you have any cash I can borrow?

Category: Kitchen

FalStaff, for a while, had its own Tamale Lady. The idea of someone taking orders and selling tamales was not new to me. In fact, it reminded me of a couple employers back in Delosa that had similar arrangements. For reasons a bit too complicated to get in to, after an email flap a few months back the relationship with the Tamale Lady was severed and she was no longer allowed to sell to us. I discovered this a few weeks ago when I asked when she might be back around.

I got a call yesterday from the lead receptionist, asking me to come out front. There was the tamale lady, asking if I could covertly go around and collect orders for her. Though she couldn’t sell them via email-and-delivery, she could set up her food bus across the street and sell us our orders. So I spent a good part of yesterday secretly asking people if they wanted tamales and telling them not to tell anybody as if we were dealing with nuclear secrets.

I had such fun doing it that it became clear that they don’t give me enough actual work here to be doing.

Category: Office

With Becky househunting stateside, Barry in Virginia, and Larry scoutin’ west, I figure now is as good a time as any to take a break. See y’all Monday

Category: Server Room

I’ve mentioned before that FalStaff’s leadership tends to fall between two families. There are the Fallons, which founded the company, and a set of three brothers that are three of the VPs (COO, CTO, and Accounts Cheif). But even outside leadership, there are a host of family connections here. The assistent head of our sister department has a sister that’s a copychecker, for instance. And Todd Cummings, a long-time account manager here, scored a job for his sister Sally. It’s Todd and Sally I want to talk about today.

It’s interesting how sometimes our lives follow the formula of a sitcom. I don’t mean that in the sense of gosh-we’re-so-interesting-we-should-be-on-TV, but quite the opposite: we’re reduced to playing roles around one another, to the amusement of the others that may be laughing with us or at us if they’re even paying attention at all. Sometimes you find yourselves reduced to archetypes. It can be demeaning, I guess, but it makes life simpler because sometimes it’s easier to play a roll than to be who you are.

I had a very sitcom relationship with my ex-girlfriend Julie. All we needed was a teenage mischief-maker, a pre-adolescent insecure one, an oh-so-cute gradeschooler, and a quirky-and-annoying-yet-we-love-them neighbor, and we’re practically on ABC’s TGIF lineup (do they have that anymore? If not, it used to be a collection of monumentally bad shows including Full House and that Steve Urkel show). We were too young to have those things, of course, but that seemed very much like the life we were planning for. She was the condescending one that had her life together. I was the goofy-and-irresponsible dad with the big heart always getting in trouble cause I’m not quite as sharp as my know-it-all wife.

None of this was true, exactly. Her college career was floundering at the time while mine was taking off. People who met me and her independently of one another would likely peg me as the smarter one (not because I was, necessarily, but because she was so quiet). But when we were around one another, we’d be reduced to roles. I was the amiable dufus and she was the one that was always saving me from myself. A surprising number of people very close to me were very much misreading our entire relationship. Can’t blame them, though, because that was the show that she and I were putting on. But that’s a story for another time.

The thing to consider here is that all of those bad sitcoms were not written in a void. They were specifically pieced together to be familiar. While I will maintain that the idiot dad is as much a product of advertising demographics (the same reasons that wives are always the ones that have their act together in TV commercials – women have more buying power), it’s familiar enough that we don’t mentally challenge it. These shows are sort of like elevator music, existing precisely because they make us comfortable without making us have to actually think. For this reason, they have to work their way into the background of our conscious. To do this, they must remain eminently familiar.

Which brings me back to Todd and Sally. Todd is a good LDS guy, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. About my age, he’s married with at least four children. He is unmovably friendly and just reeks of stability. He is very much the kind of guy that you would love your daughter to bring home because you know that he would treat her like a queen. He’s actually got a certain slickness about him (he’s an account manager, after all), but even in that it’s still about building and maintaining trust. I’ve no doubt that he’s not as lilly white as he appears, but I’d be pretty surprised if he was too far from it.

Sally, on the other hand, is quite different. Were it not for the similar bone structure of her face, you wouldn’t even think they related. He’s Omaha while she’s LA. For starters, she’s unmarried with a kid, which is more frowned-down upon here than in other parts of the country. She dressed provocatively at work and when she gets off work, she’s often picked up by tatooed bikers or college students nearly a decade her junior. What really seems to drive him crazy is that she uses her sex appeal on married men at work to get what she wants.

Poor Todd is constantly exasperated. While they tend to keep it out of the limelight, half the days I leave I can see them arguing in her pickup. You can tell that he loves her but can’t understand her for the life of him. He sees a husbandless mother and doubtlessly thinks that she needs to look for a good stepfather for her son. She’s “damaged goods” out here, but if she plays her cars (looks) right, she can still get out of this. She, meanwhile, doesn’t see why she should want to. Right now she gets all she wants by being young and hot, and she wants it to be this way forever, and that can’t happen if she’s tied down to the kind of square that would be excited about taking of someone else’s children.

I have to confess I come down much more on the side of Todd in this dispute and more generally. But the fun is not in taking sides, but in watching him frantically try to look out for her while she constantly rolls her eyes at him. Some sitcom dynamics are much more entertaining in person than they are on TV.

Category: Theater