→ Don’t ask a non-drinker why they don’t drink

storm_cloaks, commenting on a Reddit thread:

As a non-drinker, answering the “why don’t you drink?” question is always annoying. Generally speaking, I think it’s poor etiquette to ask someone why they don’t drink, and it saddens me that most people don’t feel the same. First, its really none of their business. Second, asking someone to justify a personal choice at a party is a total killjoy, and it clearly creates a separation between the non-drinker and the drinker that’s asking. Going out of your way to point out the fact that someone’s different from you, *especially in a situation that’s supposed to be festive is totally ridiculous, if not offensive. I understand the curiosity, but it would be rude and odd if I asked people at a party “why do you drink?”

I love that explanation. I couldn’t have put it any better myself. On several occasions I have been asked by friends and acquaintances why I don’t drink. 90% of the those times, I have been made fun of and called a pussy for not drinking. I have never understood why people who drink or want to drink feel compelled to ask why the people around them don’t. It’s OK to offer somebody a drink, but not at all OK to ask them why they don’t. It is OK if you are truly curious why somebody doesn’t drink, but I feel that people who drink don’t honestly care about the reason why somebody doesn’t drink. I mean, are they looking for reasons to justify quitting? Or looking for lack of justifiable reasons to justify their drinking?

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There is more to life than …

I came across this short but extremely powerful post on the gapingvoid blog. It not only moved me but forced me to question myself, to ask myself what is it that I’ve done in my life. I thought it needed to be reproduced in full here, with proper attribution.

To paraphrase Seneca, the tragedy isn’t that life is short, the tragedy is that we waste so much of it.

The other types of tragedy, the more violent kind, never worry me too much, thankfully. I never lost much sleep, worrying about wars or serial killers or whatever.

But the thought of getting to the end of my life and realizing that I had wasted most of it, that froze my blood.

As it should…

To this day, I remember that day in the summers of 2008 when I decided to pack and seal my laptop inside my cupboard, and board a one-way plane to Quetta to spend a month with relatives away from everything I did at home, far, far away from any form of technology. All I had when I reached the airport were a bag full of clothes, a book, and my cellphone (I decided to carry so that I could keep in touch with parents).

One month later when I returned, I had an incredibly painful realization dawn on me. I felt I had wasted an entire month of my life doing absolutely nothing. I thought of all the ways in which I could’ve spent that month that would’ve meant something meaningful to me, or of all the productive things I could’ve done that would’ve helped me and/or my never ending quest for knowledge and for doing things that matter. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I had wasted over thirty days, doing nothing more than resting, reading a book that was purely fiction, and socializing with limited relatives.

People take breaks, vacations, to cut themselves away from their hectic lives in order to refresh themselves, to revitalize themselves, to save themselves from the risk of burning out. When they come back to their lives after such breaks, they feel energized  and ready to again take on the mountains that lay before them.

I took a vacation, I took a break. I took rest, I cut myself away from technology, from the usual things that made up my hectic life. But when I came back, I didn’t feel energized. I didn’t feel revitalized. I felt regret. I felt slow and lethargic. I felt angry at myself for having wasted so much time doing nothing.

To this day, I live with that regret. I understand that regrets are harmful and best thrown away, but that’s one of those things that are easier said than done.

Of bubbles and bitter experiences!

When it comes to procrastination (and therefore exaggeration), I stand unparalleled among the many circles I am known to be a part of. It has been a little over a year since my writing about the procedure to follow to disconnect PTCL DSL service and my undeniably firm resolve to sever off the connection, and I have only very recently finally managed to get around to getting my act together.

The exchange building, where I found the DSL office, was anything but a pleasant sight. Dilapidated, the inordinate building worn down through constant neglect over the years recalled similar sights of government offices that I had had the misfortune of being an audience to. Every wall, every floor, every desk and chair, and every roof mounted fan that appeared to be dysfunctional, I could lay my gaze on was layered with dirt and gunge, but what startled me the most was the sight of the two staffers in the small DSL room sitting on chairs that could fall apart any minute and working on two dust-covered computers lying on an old, worn-out desk. My heart sank. I was sweating from the already sizzling weather outside. The room felt hellish. A dusty, half torn portable standing fan was as close as it got to having any hope of relief in the heat. Throughout the ten minutes I had to sit in that room, except for the few moments I spent answering what was asked of me, I kept looking about, reflecting thoroughly.

It is easier if one can phase out and shield oneself from unsavoury, unpleasant circumstances, by maintaining a bubble around oneself. It is an uphill struggle keeping that bubble intact alone, for there are many places and many moments where the frailness of it becomes perceptible.

I digress. The steps I described in the post before remain the same for applying for discontinuation of service, with the exception that I did not have to surrender the equipment as it had been well over a year. Folks from their call centre called me twice the next day to enquire into my reasons for cancelling the connection.

To toss a wrapper out the window

No matter how depressing a picture the newspaper paints every passing day without fail, despite to what alarming heights corruption in the country is reaching, notwithstanding the growing number of people who continue to die like cockroaches every day and fall pray to countless forms of acts of crimes and injustices, there is always a small fire of patriotism glowing somewhere deep within an individual. I know, and I admit, amidst all that has been happening, you can only do so much to make a difference.

It is pitifully sad to find that we live in times where the motivation to do a good deed comes from what if any personal gains can be achieved as a result in the end. This puts the phrase, the means to an end, in a shady light: if the means is ignored for a bit, what constitutes the end? The personal gains which ultimately drive the means to achieve the end, or the ideal end for which the pristine means were acted out?

Patriotism, even if a wee, is too much to ask for in the times we live. I give you that. But being responsible is not something you can opt out of. I staunchly believe that every individual should do their part in being responsible humans. But, then, I am repeatedly told that the ends do not justify the means?

Need they?

Change can only begin from within you. If you can bring yourself to justify a good deed when there is nothing in there for you in the end, that is where you start to become responsible. That is where you start to embrace change. Keeping that wrapper or empty pack of juice in your pocket and disposing off in a waste bin later on, instead of pulling down your window and throwing it out on the road, may not get you anything in return. But what you would be doing is playing your part, as a responsible citizen and good human. And playing your part is after all your moral responsibility.

I’ve long given up on talking this into people’s minds. It is almost completely hopeless. Even if I can get in, I can’t drive the point anywhere except out across the other side. However, I do have found little success in leading by example. By playing my part, and by hinting ever so slightly, I can get people to notice and to think about it. The end is marginally different from before, but even if it isn’t, I could not care less. I merely try to play my part alone, in my capacity and when and where ever I can. If only more people would think alike.

Whingingly yours

People who have worked with me know that I tend to whine a lot. I bitch about the smallest of things—not having a proper desk to work on, a comfortable chair to sit on, a powerful machine to work with, LCD to look at without straining my eyes, copious space to park my car, a peaceful ride to and from work, or even if ridiculously, continuous supply of power to do anything, etc.

I don’t complain for the heck of it, or because I am a disgruntled individual pissed at almost everything in life all the time. I want to be the best and most effective in what I do. To be that, I must somehow be productive. I can give way to productivity only when I am at peace with myself and everything around me to concentrate on the work at hand. And for that to be, I have to not worry about the desk on which I work being an inconvenience because perhaps it isn’t big enough to have half of what I need on it at any given time or wasn’t designed with ergonomics in mind, the chair on which I sit for the most part of the day to cause backache, the machine on which I work my finger to the bone to be sluggish and agonizing for that alone adds to your frustration more than any other single factor, the monitor to cause repeated headaches and eye-aches, circling the area outside round and round to find some place to park my car and finding subsequently that someone bumped your car at or the traffic police morons towed it away from the seemingly cramped up place you found to park it on because of lack of a proper parking spot, getting stuck in rush hour traffic for hours at ends amidst impatient idiot drivers honking and squeezing their cars where a bike won’t fit only to exacerbate the traffic jam thereby causing you to end up with almost no energy to do any work on top of carrying a frustrated mood, sitting in dark with no power, etc.

Did you lose track of what I started with?

Joel, in his article `The Development Abstraction Layer`, has it down an order of a magnitude more aptly and eloquently than I can ever myself.