Meteors and Metronomes

Disclaimer: This post is part of this blog’s That Tiny Tirade series. It can (and likely will) contain harsh language, scenes and storylines not suitable for children, and not safe for Washington logic. This post may also contain strobe lighting effects.

“There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance…it’s called humility.” -Unknown
“Blow me.” -Oscar Wilde (probably)

About a year ago, I had a discussion with an old friend in regards to career changes. Once upon a time, she and I worked at the same job, her on first shift and me on third. We’d cross paths for about two hours a day — since both of us were tasked for our shifts with walking the department floor and answering questions/taking angry calls — and had quite a bit of time to talk about whatever came up. Typically, we’d discuss mutual friends (as we’d attended school together), our significant others, or music and movies (as we have similar tastes in both). We’d spend the two hours talking intermittently as we worked, then both go on about our days, rarely interacting off the clock.

Part of why my friend and I didn’t talk outside of work was because of our differing ambitions in regards our employer. Since I was in grad school at the time, I saw that job as nothing more than that — a job meant to hold me over until I graduated. The pay was shit, the advancement opportunities were minimal, the hours weren’t great (give me third shift over first any day though), and the majority of people were jaded from 15-25 years of customer service work. My friend, however, saw it as a way to technically have a job, yet because of the lack of pay, make the argument that she didn’t make enough money to move out of her parents’ house.

All I remember about said house is that it was in the middle of nowhere and always had a freezer full of Jagermeister. Image credit to Beth Caskey on Deviant Art

What struck me as interesting about our career conversation was the grand disparity in our current employment situation versus that from when we worked together. It wasn’t as through grad school or that job was that long ago((I finished school and left that job both in the fall of 2010.)), however the gap made it feel longer. For me, I am celebrating my fourth promotion in the span of 20 months, landing at a company that I love working for. For her, she’s at her seventh different job in that span, and all but her current position were jobs that she hated.

That’s not to say all has been good luck for me and all has been bad luck for her. I held a job before this one, only to get let go for reasons that were never fully made clear at the time((Come to find out months later the company went under.)). She has a child who’s about to turn four((At the time we talked.))…and couldn’t be happier as a mom. I expressed my happiness for her motherhood, while she congratulated me on my coming marriage. You know, that annoying small talk type of stuff that you’re forced to do far more often than should be legally allowed.

Pictured: a visual representation of how small talk feels. Image credit: Imgur

What stuck with me most in our conversation was a single response to a question. Coming from her, it wasn’t all that unexpected, however the words held a greater meaning.

Me: We used to have the same level of senior and the same job. Why are you content with taking a step back?
Her: I’m sure I’ll get to the point where I was — or even where you are now — someday. I’d rather take five of the same job right in a row and not have to worry about learning a new job along the way. I know what I can do well and I know when it’s time to get out. There’s no need to try to be a hero and change the world.

The final line to her response was especially poignant, as it was the second time that week I’d been told that very line by someone. Think about that statement for a second. There’s no need to try to be a hero.

Remember kids, don’t be this douchebag. Image credit: joystiq.com

While heroes are always known for their bravery and ability to save the day, they’re reckless and fuck a lot of things up along the way. Think about all of the damage the Avengers caused when they were saving the city from whatever they were fighting (I stopped caring halfway in). Who’s going to pay to clean that up? Not the Avengers. And yet, superheroes are revered because the ends justify the means.

Yet, why wouldn’t I (or anyone else for that matter) want to be the hero? Not just be the hero, but to have consistent exceptional performance to the point where those tasks that others consider heroics we consider routine. Why shouldn’t I strive to be more, to change the lives of those around me, and to change the culture I’m immersed in along the way?

After all, it’s better than just keeping time.

Parenting Tips For Those Without Kids (By Those Without Kids)

Disclaimer: This post is part of this blog’s That Tiny Tirade series. It can (and likely will) contain harsh language, scenes and storylines not suitable for children, and not safe for Washington logic. This post may also contain strobe lighting effects.

Think back to the last holiday season you spent with family (Christmas/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Hanukkah/etc). It’s pretty easy for me, though my time wasn’t solely with my family. I also spent a fair amount of time around my wife’s family, including my niece. As many one year olds tend to be, the little girl was excited at the prospect of getting presents at Christmas, as that meant she had lots of wrapping paper she could tear apart.

I would like to one day have at least one kid to call my own (I wouldn’t be opposed to more, though the financial investment that a family needs to make in a child is a considerable one — roughly $12,000 per year by the USDA’s calculator, though other studies have put that number closer to $13,500 a year). While I realize I’m not in the right place in my life right now to have a child, financial stability for any child is a huge key to raising them properly.

While it goes without saying that parents should put themselves in the best position possible to raise a child before they have one, there are many other steps you can take to better prep yourself for having a kid before you actually have one. Those of you who don’t have kids should take my words as solid advice, because just like you, I don’t have a kid, which means I both know everything and nothing all at the same time.

1. Try taking care of a pet first

Might I suggest a minion duck army?
Might I suggest a minion duck army?

Pets, like children, are full of responsibilities. You have to feed them, play with them, give them access to the bathroom, and help them mature throughout the course of their lives. However, pets are (typically) far lower maintenance than kids, in that they don’t require the same level of attention or financial cost as a child. For example, while your newborn baby is growing out of their clothes every 2-4 months, you don’t ever have to buy your pet clothing because they’re a fucking animal. Federal regulations require formal schooling for humans, yet unless you feel the need to take your pooch to obedience school, you’re off the hook here. Finally, those holiday dinners where you have to make a plate for your kid and yourself just got a ton easier, as no one in their right mind brings their animals to family gettogethers, let alone takes them through the food line with them.

2. Don’t be afraid to let your kid fail

I had an English teacher in high school who I despised with everything in me. I felt like she went out of her way to give me bad grades on anything that required subjectivity to grade, all while (allegedly) giving members of the football time a free ride to both her bedroom and an A in her class. Without that experience, I likely would never have been pissed off enough to try to prove her wrong, which ultimately helped shape some of the college-related decisions I made in high school.

Nowadays, parents are too afraid of letting their kid fail. Did you know they no longer make baby seats that roll around on the floor? Apparently it was a safety concern. The only safety concern children have to worry about now is falling on their face when they get to adulthood and their parents aren’t there to help them. This isn’t the fault of the kids either. If you want your child to be successful in life, let them fail. There’s no need to get a participation trophy just for playing a sport. Let your child learn to lose, learn to hate that losing feeling, and then learn to overcome it.

3. Your child doesn’t need things it can’t use properly

You show me a child who uses a bubble pipe properly, and I’ll show you a classy motherfucker. Source unknown.

As Americans, we live in an overwhelmingly consumer-driven society. While this looks great on the bottom lines for many businesses, it’s also what causes millions of people to end up with staggering amounts of debt. Learn when and where not to listen to advertising and impulse buying. If your child can’t walk yet, it doesn’t need to have more than one pair of shoes to its name (even that’s a stretch, but I’m willing to be reasonable). Same goes with hobbies — unless your child is suddenly a musical prodigy, a $10 garage sale guitar is just as good as the $400 one you could get with Taylor Swift plastered all over it.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, my niece was more amused with the wrapping paper than many of her presents. Such will be the case for roughly the first 2-3 years of your child’s life. There’s zero need to splurge on ANYTHING at this age. Buy clothes, a few simple toys, and tons of books to read to them as they sleep/sit. Not to mention diapers…lots and lots of diapers.

4. Resist the urge to plaster your child — born or unborn — all over social networking sites

I’ll keep my opinions about pictures and social networking to myself for this post, as that’s a completely different rant in and of itself. That said, there’s no need to put up a picture of your child on the internet for every little thing he/she does. Milestones are fine, but they don’t come as frequently as people claim. Cut the pictures down to a few every couple months and watch as people immediately begin to comment about how your child is growing up so fast. Sure, you’ll get the backlash of some family members complaining about how they never see pictures of your child, but if they’re not willing to (ever) come see you in person, perhaps they don’t deserve to see the pictures in the first place.

Jury Duty: The Baffling

Disclaimer: This post is part of this blog’s That Tiny Tirade series. It can (and likely will) contain harsh language, scenes and storylines not suitable for children, and not safe for Washington logic. This post may also contain strobe lighting effects.

Last August, I received a jury summons for the first time. As someone who has not been to a courthouse since his parents’ divorce1Which occurred just over 20 years ago.,  it’s a bit of an intimidating experience to receive a jury summons. After all, as anyone who watches Sherlock knows, being on a jury is just a way for a criminal mastermind to get inside your head by making death threats to the ones you love via the hotel’s television system.

To be fair though, he is a rather entertaining bad guy. Image credit: digitalspy.com

Putting aside the actual jury duty experience for a moment (we’ll come back to that in a separate post), everything I read on the internet and heard from other people lead me to believe that jury duty was the single most boring experience possible in human existence. Yes, the general consensus was that jury duty is more boring than watching paint dry, viewing a lawn growing, reading any religious textbook, or watching a baseball game. I frankly couldn’t believe it. While jurors get paid well below minimum wage2Our $20 per day salary works out to being roughly $2.85 per hour…if the Ohio minimum wage law were actually followed, jurors would be compensated $55.65 for a 7 hour day, $39.75 if you exclude the nearly two-hour lunch given if you’re waiting., there’s no reason for me believe that even waiting to be selected for jury duty would be more boring than a baseball game.

I was right. Granted, I do have a strong, selective bias towards the relative stupidity and boring nature of baseball3I enjoyed baseball once. But then I turned 10., however the people watching while waiting for jury duty is beyond interesting. It’s like watching an episode of Big Brother, only instead of people trying to backstab one another to win a game, I get treated to a show of people trying their damnedest to get out of serving on a jury.

This seems valid actually… Image credit: pintrest.com

Now, it’s important to remember that in Ohio, most jury summons last at least 5 days. If you’re not selected to be put on a case on day 1, that does not mean you can go home. Likewise, just because you’re dismissed from a specific case doesn’t mean you can go home either. What it does mean is that you get to go back down to a giant waiting room and wait for your name to be called to go serve on a different jury.

Yet, despite this, there were people in the jury room who were bragging about the in-courtroom shenanigans they pulled to get dismissed from a case. One gentleman actually said the following.

“Unless I’m on the jury for a murder case, I don’t want to be here. I’ve been called up three times this morning and I keep telling them it’s against my religion to pass judgement on someone. But the second I get a murder case. Boom. Not religious anymore.”

Let’s break that down for a second, shall we? How old do you think the man making that statement was? 20? 25? 30? Try late 40s or early 50s (he said he graduated college in the mid 80s, though he didn’t say what year). This was also the gentleman’s first time being called for jury service, so it’s not as if he had previous practice with these shenanigans.

There’s one specific part of his plan that annoyed me just a touch — the fact that he was using religious beliefs to get off of cases he didn’t want to be on. It doesn’t bother me if someone has an actual religious conviction that prevents them from passing judgement on others. While I see that as a bit incredulous and unlikely, if those are your beliefs, they’re your beliefs. I also have no issue with the court system wishing to respect the religious beliefs of someone by allowing them to not be on a jury because of religion. While it could be argued that’s a failure to separate church and state, I argue it’s the perfect separation of church and state, by allowing a religious person the option to not be part of a state process.

The premise of faking having religious convictions to get out of doing something just baffles the hell out of me. It’s not as though I haven’t seen this before, albeit as a result of online dating back in the day. Yet, I never figured I’d see it play out in the court of law.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Christmas is a pseudo-religious holiday that’s actually a part of American culture OR it’s a pseudo-cultural holiday that is firmly Christian. How you view the holiday says a lot about you, and in turn, about how you view society. Neither way is wrong — that is, unless you exploit people’s religious beliefs for your own gain.

…not that such a thing would ever happen in the world today or anything.

Front page image credit: Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Thank You Card? No Thank You.

There are many of the finer points of wedding planning that baffle me. I’ve had a bit of confusion over the purpose to groomsman/bridesmaid gifts, and have referenced the fact that I don’t particularly understand some of the formalities that weddings seem to breed. Despite all that, I’m largely tolerant enough of most wedding-related items that I get over it after I’ve had my few minutes1Or hours. of griping about not understanding why certain details are needed.

There is one item on the wedding agenda, however, that I don’t get. It’s not just a wedding item either. It’s a wasteful, pointless monstrosity that causes more damage to the environment than global warming, oil spills, and the copious amounts of glitter on prom dresses combined. I am, of course, talking about thank you cards.

Now before the manners police commits what would only be the third most egregious abuse of power by law enforcement in the USA in the last month2I can only assume this is still the case, regardless of when you read this post. YMMV., allow me to make a few points. I’m not against the concept of saying thank you. In fact, I firmly believe that saying please and thank you are so important that a law requiring their usage could become the 28th Amendment, and I would be first in line to sign that document. I’m also not against the greeting card industry as a whole. While I do find greeting cards to be a waste of time in general, there are some people who only keep in touch with their families via greeting cards and other frivolous, antiquated items. Coincidentally, when JoAnn Fabrics comes out with their new slogan “Home of All Your Frivolous, Antiquated Items”, remember you heard it here first.

What I see as unnecessary is not the existence of thank you cards, nor the premise of thanking someone for doing nice things for you. What I find unnecessary about them is one thing and one thing alone.

Why the hell are you wasting paper to tell me the exact same thing you told me twenty times at your actual wedding?3No really…

I get it. You’re grateful that people liked you enough to come to your wedding. Your guests took time out of their relaxing weekends to see you engage in your legally binding* nuptials, some of them potentially travelling great distances in order to do so. Those same people put on their Sunday BestTM clothing, made their way to a church4A building that many won’t enter outside of a wedding., and shared in your joy at your reception. If you’re lucky, women cried at the sight of your love and men showed enough restraint to not sleep with multiple bridesmaids in the same night. It was a beautiful thing that you’ll be talking about for years to come.

And you know what? You should talk about it for some time. It was your fucking wedding. Be happy that you got married. That’s great news. Some people who truly love each other can’t get married because the people who write and judge laws are frivolous, antiquated items5Hopefully this is only the case in the USA until June 2015, however I have very little faith in elderly Supreme Court justices and their ability to be progressive.. Rejoice in your bliss. Thank all of the people you want to during your wedding, in between the wedding and the reception, and at the reception itself. It’s what you should do. But don’t send a thank you card.

You’ve already thanked your guests an average of 17.8 times each by the end of the wedding night. You don’t need to say thank you again. We get it. You appreciate the fact that we didn’t give you chlamydia as your wedding present. There’s no need to thank us for that.

The worst part of it is that nearly every thank you card sounds exactly the same. Sure, the sentences may be in a slightly different order, and yes, there will be a couple of minor adjustments for sake of filling in names/gifts. But every thank you card will sound something like this:

Dearest Han and Leia,

Thank you for coming to our wedding! We were so happy that you were able to share in our happiest day! Derpino and I love the random gift from our registry you purchased for us. We will be sure to put your thoughtful gift to good use. We hope to see you soon and be sure to keep in touch!

Love,

Mr. and Mrs. Jones

Want to write this letter yourself? Here’s the template:

  1. Greet your guests as if they were Edwardian royalty
  2. Thank them for their attendance at the wedding
  3. Remind them you were happy they attended
  4. Express your love for the gift they purchased you. NOTE: You must describe the gift in as terrifyingly ridiculous detail as possible.
  5. Reassure your guest that their gift was the most important one
  6. Express a true (or fake) desire to see your guests again6Bonus points if one member of the newlyweds likes the guest in question, yet the other doesn’t.
  7. Love, The Happy Couple. It’s always love. Even if you haven’t seen your guest for twenty years, it’s love.

Of course, not everyone wants to write a thank you card. If I had my way, thank you cards would be written like this.

Hello Han and Leia,

Thank you for coming to our wedding and giving us a gift.

Regards,

Mr. and Mrs. Jones

How many things are wrong with the thank you note above? If the number you said is higher than zero, you’re wrong. IF there must be a thank you card sent out7Hint: There doesn’t., all the more that’s needed in the card is to thank your guests for coming and (if applicable) for giving you a gift. That’s it. No flowery bullshit about how you want to become closer with your second cousin twice-removed. No meticulous details about how much you loved the real Asian bamboo chopsticks that you won’t actually use after three months of marriage because you know how to use a fork. It’s simple, to the point, and conveys the exact same thing as the previous form letter.

Look, I know you want to express your gratitude for people coming to your wedding. That’s fine. But get to the fucking point in doing so. Either make your thank you cards completely personalized for each person you send one to, or go the complete other direction and send the one sentence card above. Don’t half-ass it and make your thank you card a form letter. Better yet, don’t make one at all.

However, if you must deliver a thank you card barrage on par with the bombing of Guernica upon your unsuspecting wedding guests, do me this one favor. Don’t buy your thank you cards from Hallmark and the like. Don’t buy your thank you cards from the hipster graphic designer who charges way too much for anything that can be remotely construed as whimsy. Don’t buy your thank you cards from anyone in between those levels either. Make them yourselves. And when you do — be sure to make them memorable by using the one font that angers oversensitive graphic designers, IT professionals, and fontifiles everywhere.

Do it for America. Or whatever country you live in. Just do it. It’s the right thing to do. Image credit: obeygiant.com

Author’s note: In this post’s original iteration written in January 2015, the post featured a paragraph that was admittedly fairly sexist how men and women write thank you cards. Sad paragraph was a failed, tasteless attempt at trying to be funny. I apologize.

I’ve chosen to keep the examples of the different ways the cards can be written, as a larger point is being illustrated with the two writing styles. That said, the sexist paragraph and the objectively antiquated gender roles referenced in the paragraph have been edited, once I re-realized when I had written8Edits took place in December 2017, mostly because despite the relatively high traffic it received historically, it’s a topic I talked about once and didn’t care about after that.. Apologies to anyone who might have been offended in reading the original post.

7 Reasons You’ll Read This Blog Post With A Click Bait Headline

Disclaimer: This post is part of this blog’s That Tiny Tirade series. It can (and likely will) contain harsh language, scenes and storylines not suitable for children, and some content that may be unacceptable to other readers. This post may also contain strobe lighting effects.

Hello there! You’re finally here. It’s great to see you around. But why are you here exactly1You know, other than the fact that you have a crippling addiction to my writing, as evidenced by the fact that you’re reading this at 4am on a Tuesday while sipping from a 40.?

*thinking….thinking…thinking*

Oh, that’s right! I have a list post 7 reasons why you’ll read a blog post — this very one, as a matter of fact — with a click bait headline. I guarantee you’ll be shocked at #4.

#1. You’re a super attractive person

And you’re generously endowed too. Image credit: ioneglobalgrind.wordpress.com

What? You don’t think you’re actually attractive? Fuck you, this is the internet. EVERYONE is hot on the internet. It doesn’t matter if you’re good-looking in real life, on the internet every man looks like a cross between all the good parts of Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt, while every woman is a mixture of Kate Upton, Beyonce, and whatever a Taylor Swift is2I’m presuming it’s an individual capable of fixing holes in my suit at lightning speed.. Face it — everyone wants in your pants. Or kilt, if that’s what you’re into.

#2. This post has lots of pictures that have nothing to do with the article at hand, but are great for image search hits

Image credit: weknowmemes.com

Some of you likely clicked on this article thinking there would be substance for you to read. Perhaps you could find something to learn amid all the bullshit and terrible writing on the internet. You would be wrong. That’s not how the internet works. If your articles aren’t picture-filled, you’re fucked. Well, that’s presuming you don’t forget about the fact that…

#3. This blog post is a content marketing goldmine

Image credit: wrestlingoutofcontext.tumblr.com

You thought you needed to optimize your posts for SEO? You thought wrong! SEO is dead and content marketing is where it’s at. It’s not enough to add subliminal this post is sponsored by http://wrestlingoutofcontext.tumblr.com/ messaging to your posts, tweet bomb the shit out of your friends, family, and coworkers, or even to take out a second mortgage to promote yourself on Facebook. If your posts aren’t sponsored by someone, they’re not getting read. After all, it’s not like anyone actually clicks on ads anymore.

#4. You’d rather read an ad masquerading as an article than click on an ad.

Funny thing about bloggers (or websites) in 2014…no one actually clicks on your ads anymore. Why would we?3There are apparently people online who disagree with me and will click on any ad that interests them in order to help fund the ad companies. I call these people masochists. Not only are advertisements notorious for providing computer viruses/malware/spyware a pathway into your computer, they’re also incredibly annoying to look at. If your readers are clicking on your ads, there’s a decent chance they’ve been in a coma since 1996 and have just woken up. Say hi to them, then come back here and introduce them to how advertising works in the real internet.

#5. This post is short — just the way you like it.

No one has time for a lengthy blog post anymore. Gone are the days where bloggers could write 3000+ word long-form articles and be lauded by those around them before that blogger goes onto become a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle or the Cleveland Plain Dealer.4For the younger crowd, those were newspapers, an archaic way of delivering news to people. News was what journalism was called before large…ah fuck it…

Image credit: ironydesign.com

#6. People are suckers for lists

When you GIS “dumbest top ten list”, this is one of the top results. No joke. Image credit: ranker.com

Everyone likes lists and everyone LOVES debating lists. Look at the success of sites like Cracked, Buzzfeed, and Bleacher Report. None of those sites would exist without the list post. Here, I’ll even give you a list to debate. Here are the Top Ten Things I Wrote Down In A List Format.

  1. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog
  2. Faygo
  3. Testicular tortion
  4. A ban saw
  5. Jasmine
  6. Tupelo, Mississippi
  7. Cesaro’s pepperoni nipples. This is a thing.
  8. Scalene muscles
  9. Improper grammar
  10. Six women from Perth, Australia playing Twister against Duck Dodgers

Debate.

#7. You can’t help but share this list

It’s an uncontrollable urge. With the rise of social media you want — nay, NEED — to click like on everything. You MUST comment. You WILL SHARE THIS POST.

Image source unclear from searching, however it’s a still from the movie They Live.