Monday, December 27, 2004

My New Thing Learned

They say you learn something new every day. Well, my day is now complete!

Not long ago, I heard for the zillionth time about how badly the Chevrolet Nova did in Spanish-speaking countries because "no va" in Spanish literally means "it doesn't go." I've studied Spanish for several months now, and for what it's worth, this gringo knows that "no va" does indeed mean "it doesn't go," so I just figured that this classic example of international marketing fiascos was true.

However, in this particular conversation, someone else piped up and said, "That story isn't true." They didn't provide a convincing reason why they thought it wasn't true, and since I was so smart and knew for a fact that the translation was correct, I figured that they probably just didn't know what they were talking about.

Well, chalk one up for the skeptic. According to an article on my favorite urban legend debunking site, the story is indeed not true.

Oh well, I don't feel too bad. It's such a good story that even reputable sources such as the Detroit News are continuing to write about this myth as if it were a fact.

Oh well, maybe now your day is complete, too!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

2005 New Year Resolutions

I've never been much for making New Year resolutions. After all, if there's something you should be doing, why is January 1 so special for starting to do it instead of today? (Or tomorrow, if the stores you need are closed...)

Well, after taking a while to think about the state of my life, I think I'm starting to grasp it. There are several things I want to change about my life, and most of them range in difficulty from moderate to hard. On any given day, it's really easy to say, "I really ought to change that, and someday I'll get around to it."

The problem, of course, is that there will always be someday to change these things, and that someday never seems to be today. Tomorrow is just as good, right?

At some point, if you really want to change these things, you've got to choose a day. I guess any given date would do, but on January 1, things seem to be particularly new and the date is very symbolic for beginnings (as in, beginnings for change). So one of the first things I'm changing is my mind about this whole New Year resolution stuff. I'm going to start making New Year resolutions and try in earnest this year to make some positive changes in my life.

Here is my short list of things I want to be significantly different in a year, in no particular order:

  • Get a new job
    I hate the phrase "no-brainer," but this is a good situation in which to use it. I hate my job. It's extremely boring. Not boring in the sense that I don't have enough to do, I mean boring in the sense that when I'm at my busiest, I'm the most bored. It's just that tedious. Add to that the fact that I'm making less money than I've made in six years, that half of my shifts are at night, that I work twelve and a half hours at a time (longer than any human can consistently perform any task well) with no vacation, holidays, or sick days, and that the company I work for has instituted a policy of systematically avoiding any commitment to its employees, and hopefully you'll agree that it's time for a change.

  • Build friendships
    I hate to admit this because I like to be independent, but I fear that I've let several really good friendships lapse over the years. We still see each other, but it's just not the same. Everyone (especially me) is busy with their lives, and we never seem to have the time to do much with each other any more. The result is that the "good old days" seem irrevokably and needlessly lost. I'm going to start doing something with various friends at least twice a month and try to start rebuilding the closeness that has slowly eroded over the past few years.

  • Wear size 34 jeans
    This is probably an ambitious goal, since it means that I'll have to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 pounds, but I know I can do it. When I've tried to, I've never had much trouble losing weight, it's just a matter of trying. Every once in a while, I decide I'm just plain too big, and I have to start trying again. I'm at that point now, I've "let myself go" for too long. Time to trim back down some.

  • Learn Spanish
    This will probably be the easiest goal to work on. I won't be fluent, of course, by the end of the year, but hopefully I'll be able to understand Univision and Telemundo a lot better than I do now. I say it's the easiest goal because I'm already committed to a Spanish class that will last four months, and I plan on signing up to keep going through the rest of the year on further.

  • Finish building the MythBox
    If you don't know what this is, then too bad; I'm not going to go into detail here. My goal is to have a stable working model by midyear, and to develop the idea to completion with significant progress by the end of the year.

  • Keep my house clean
    My house has been a disaster area for the last two years. I have made some headway towards getting it clean in the past few weeks. I don't mean just throwing everything in the closet like I usually do, I mean having papers filed away, old clothes donated to charity, junk thrown away, etc. I've really grown up to not mind living in a rat's nest, and that's got to change. Given my laziness and tendency to procrastinate, this will probably be the most difficult resolution to follow through with.

  • Get my finances in order
    This will probably be the second hardest goal for me to accomplish. I hate to admit it, but I have a tendency--like most Americans--to live a lifestyle precisely tuned to exactly what I can. If I make it, I spend it. I need to exercise more fiscal responsibility. I need to pay off my credit cards, make a dent in my student loans, and save more money. I'll figure out the details a little later, but the thing I know for absolute certain is that the credit card debt I have right now is totally inexcusable and WILL be the first thing I tackle.

Well, that's a good start for now. I'll post some updates as I make them. In the meantime, unlike in years past, I encourage everyone out there to take a full half hour--don't skimp on me!--to ponder at least two or three big things you want to change about your lives and what productive steps you can take towards making those changes.

Because hey, January 1 is as good a day to start as any!

See ya next year, KS