Runcible Blog

because I have time to think about such things

I often think about the different "voices" that people use when speaking to different audiences. I've noticed it a lot; it isn't subtle to me at all. In fact, it's a very phony way of interacting with others. I won't name names, but I've overheard people who are talking to acquaintances in such a fake, overly polite or friendly voice that it almost borders on patronizing. Yeah, I think that's the right word. These same people will also talk to the elderly in a slightly different but still patronizing voice. I've overheard conversations with my grandfather where the other person sounded like they were talking to a child. Why? I can't help but think that the recipient of such a voice would notice the patronizing tone. Well, maybe little kids don't notice the difference when someone older talks down to them, but I notice it! Why talk down to kids? You can talk to them without regressing into a quasi-child-like state. Try it! I have to admit that I'm guilty of using that tone when talking to kids sometimes, but I try to catch myself and avoid doing it. Certainly I avoid using a different tone when talking to, for instance, a cashier at a store. Why should I change my tone depending on who I talk to? Why can't we talk to each other as equals? Does anyone else think it's weird to put on a false "friendly voice" when speaking to casual acquaintances? I don't know. This is a behavior that I notice all the time. and I wonder why people do it. Actually, from my brief studies of the Korean language, I know that that their whole society/language is very much based on labels, positions, ranks, and seniority. In Korean, you don't usually call someone Mr.Smith; you'd call him "lawyer Smith" or "garbage man Smith" or something like that. And then you would use formal or informal verbs depending on whether or not the other person is more important than yourself. At least I think that's the general idea. English is much more democratic and flexible regarding labels, and maybe that is the reason why we have this tendency to change our tone if not our words when speaking to different types of people. As for me, like I said, I try to catch myself when I start changing my tone for some reason. This probably makes me come off as a monotone, boring-sounding kind of guy, but hey, at least I'm trying to be honest, right?

can I describe this?

I feel compelled to write an entry. Something that Judy wrote interested me:
anyway, after some coaxing and some guilt and some boredom last night, I told dave I'd come over. well, I don't know why I'm writing so much. it felt very much like portnoy's holiday with pumpkin's family. you know, they don't cook white bread through all the way. I'm not really dissing the st. germain clan really. it just felt weird. a social group.
I guess this is the context she was referring to. It's an nice bit of writing, and it got me thinking about how "outsiders" perceive my family. I wonder if the average outsider would see our family as anything but dysfunctional if the only experience he or she had with us was like the christmas eve gathering. I wonder if Judy's perception was genuine and if others would have the same experience. But I think we in my family know that all the holiday glee (what little there is) is a facade. Gatherings like christmas, thanksgiving, and easter are only ephemeral cease-fires. And even those don't always last the whole day (witness Lea's meltdown on christmas). Reading Judy's comment induces two conflicting feelings. On the one hand, I feel a sense of pride that the family is able to put aside any differences for a brief time and at least create a semblance of harmony. On the other hand, I feel a great disappointment knowing that the truth is not nearly as sugar coated as we would like others to believe.

good morning, sunshine

I went to bed a little before 4am only to have my grandfather wake me up 2 and a half hours later so that I could go outside and shovel the driveway with Nathan. hooray for snowstorms. Of course, I can't go back to sleep now because I'm weird like that. I'll probably pass out some time later.


Christmas just wasn't that eventful this year. As a result, I won't write about it. As more and more information concerning the September 11th government bungling, I came across this site which has a very detailed, down to the minute timeline of what happened that day (and yes, I read the whole thing...). If anyone has the patience to read it, it's interesting. Among other points, this one stands out as particularly bizarre:
9:05 A.M. Bush is still reading to 18 Booker Elementary School second-graders a story about a girl's pet goat. His chief of staff Andrew Card, whispers into his ear, "A second plane has hit the World Trade Center. America is under attack." [Telegraph, 12/16/01] He says nothing in response, but continues reading the goat story after a brief pause. Then, in an event noticeable in its absence, as one newspaper put it, "for some reason, Secret Service agents [do] not bustle him away." [Globe and Mail, 9/12/01] At some point shortly after, reporters ask him if he is aware of the two crashes and explosions. He nods and says he will talk about the situation later. [CNN, 9/12/01] Bush continues to read about goats for the next 20 minutes or so. The reason given is that they didn't want to scare the children.
I really hope the upcoming investigation into what went wrong will do some good and bring to light all of the obvious lapses that happened in the days prior to the 11th. It seems pretty clear to me that either there was some conspiracy to let the hijackers complete their scheme, or our government is incredibly inept. It may be a little of both. who knows? Either way, there are definitely people in the government who should be held accountable for the things that went wrong instead of being promoted for their efforts in the "war on terror".


I'm not really in the festive mood. After all, there's no snow on the ground. My car failed the safety inspection and needs repairs that I can't afford. Jobs are scarce. Friends are scarce. I miss someone.