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January 28, 2005


As I drove home last night, the sky was awash in dirty slate and indigo cirrus clouds way up high. In the center of this sea of sameness was one, deep-red, nimbus cloud stretched out a bit and broken just right to look like a large red exclamation point floating in the sky.

Then the sun went below the horizon and this emphatic sign melded with the purples and blues of the rest of the night's sky and was gone.

January 26, 2005

Personality Types

So I found and decided to take two different, but similar, online personality quizzes based on actual psychological tests.

On both of them, I came back as the "Rational/Architect" type and, specifically, INTP. I would have to guess that is very close to my actual personality results as both test came back with the identical results (even the percentages were in the same ranges for each personality descriptor).

What surprised me the most was how low the intuitive/perceptive scores came back. I have always lived my life based more on Wisdom and Experience than Intelligence or Book learning. That is the one area where my sister and I really differ; while both intelligent, thoughtful people, I was always the 'street smart' one and she was always the 'book smart' one.

But then I started thinking about it even more. For example, I always loved the sciences, all branches, but had trouble with the math. I always was strong in english, writing, comprehension, but was never good at new languages. I enjoy watching and evaluating people, breaking them down and figuring out how they tick-- as long as I don't really need to get to know them personally.

Now, people who know me are well aware of my introverted side. And it would be no surprise that I would score my highest percentage in that area. I work by myself, most of the fun activities I enjoy are solitary, and I don't like groups larger than my immediate friends or one-on-one encounters.

Very interesting new perspective on myself. And, here comes the Architect side of things, I'm wonder how I can use this information to invoke change (if change is needed)? These sites also didn't offer any suggestions as to which other personality types with which I would most get along.

To anyone who can offer suggestions: please do. It would be appreciated.

January 19, 2005


I friend of mine got me thinking today about the masks we wear. Or, not so much the masks we wear but how we act when we wear masks.

My friend is normally a conservative, quiet, proper woman. She has recently discovered the freedom involved with dressing up in costume and acting. At her company’s Halloween get together, as well as another event, she was in full costume and discovered the joys of singing and “acting the part” with her fellow employees. I mentioned how shocked our former colleagues at a company at which we both worked would be to see this side of her.

Playing dress-up and acting is just one mask people wear. Others include using drugs, most notably alcohol, as well as actual physical masks, and titles or positions.

In studies it is found that when people are served alcohol free beers without their knowledge, most individuals still exhibit the exact same loss of inhibitions and behavior as when served a drink. This begs the question: is alcohol really to blame, or is it an excuse people use for aberrant behavior? You just need to go to your company’s holiday party to see the types of things enacted under the guise of the "freedom" that alcohol provides.

Many people use positions of authority and their titles as a sort of mask. I have seen many people who I have known to be nice, normal, every day individuals who become near-lunatics when given an ounce of power. They use the excuse that they are the leader, they are in charge, as an excuse to berate and belittle others in ways they would never do if the positions were reversed.

Another area you see aberrant behavior from people who would never act that way normally is online. In chat rooms, on blogs and message boards, and in online games, you will see people purposely try to be upsetting and run contrary to others because of the mask of anonymity the environment affords them. In my current favorite game, City of Heroes, there was a person who used the Broadcast chat channel to spew anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi hate speech to all who were on that server. He thought he was untouchable to everyone; we just used the in-game services to petition him and that character was quickly booted from the game and the individual’s account was banned. His belief that he could anonymously spew his hatred turned out to be a fraud—the game tracked what he typed and, when I and others complained, they only had to track his messages to his character and on to his account where the person’s actual name, address, and credit card number were located. His anonymity vanished.

I think the last bastions of mask-wearing, and the most prevalent, are when we get into our vehicles and when we are at group events (like sports, concerts, parades, et al). Surrounded in that steel cage with tinted windows and sunglasses on, we act in ways that we would be ashamed of if caught in the supermarket or on the sidewalks. We speed around people, cut them off, yell obscenities, and engage in other destructive behavior. The recent melee that occurred in Detroit during the Indiana/Pistons basketball game is another good example. The mob mentality of those people was appalling; many people were throwing food and punches because they thought they were anonymous behind their mask of “crowd.” They forgot about the cameras watching every move that occurred.

There is a great line in an otherwise forgettable movie, Hollow Man, that Kevin Bacon’s characters says. Now, I’m quoting from memory, so forgive me if I don’t get it exactly right: “It’s amazing what you’ll do when you don’t have to look yourself in the mirror.” His character went on to rape an unsuspecting woman, cause havoc at the lab, and ultimately killed most of his colleagues. The masks we wear are a means by which we can avoid looking ourselves in the eye. The mask is somehow "someone else."

This natural tendency of human beings to do more when behind their mask can also be used for good. Someone once asked me why so many of the comic book heroes wear a mask. My answer was so that they could be free to interdict in events that they otherwise would be too fearful of reprisals for doing. Think about it; if a fearful man dressed as a bat flew in and stopped a crime, no one could trace who it was or wear to send the bill. If Bruce Wayne stops a crime, the criminals know who to target, the lawyers know where to send the indictments, and the police know where to go to arrest the vigilante/good samaritan who helpd.

Our police force and military are two good, real-world examples of how the mask of anonymity can be used for good. Because of their uniforms and the nameless, faceless quality they have with most of the public, police and military forces are able to enact their orders without fear of general reprisals. As the public, we see those uniforms and we immediately form a conclusion about those who wear it and virtually ignore the face staring back at us. Most of the time, this is a beneficial and symbiotic relationship that allows them to do their job and the public to accept it and feel safe.

We all wear masks, every day. Some of us have very a different public persona than our private one. Some of us wear a title or a badge to allow us the freedoms we need. Some look to drugs to mask insecurities or to mask a need to act in unusual ways. Some need a mask to grant freedom while others use it to hide sins. Still others seek to bury themselves in roles or to stretch their understanding through acting.

What masks do you wear?

January 5, 2005

Calvin and Hobbes

I miss the old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. It so perfectly captured the angst of the world using its two anti-heroes. Bill Watterson was so good at driving his point home and showing today's reality through his protagonist's eyes. He had a way of perfectly expressing the child within all of us while pointing out the absurdities of the adult world.

I cannot help but wonder what he/they would have to say about 9/11, Enron, the (second) war in Iraq, Martha Stewart, and a host of other problems that have cropped up since this strip was cancelled.