Recently, John Campbell, the author of my most favorite webcomic, pictures for sad children, wrote a series of articles (for lack of a better word) that have generated some interesting controversy that’s relevant to my previous post about trolls.  Although they’re an interesting read, the titles alone rather succinctly describe the content.  The only background you need here is that John Campbell’s comics and street art are nothing if not compulsively melancholic, but never, ever serious.

His entire confession and apology was fake.  A lot of his readers and fellow artists were pretty offended, and not unfairly – but one line in particular got me thinking.

I regret the borderline people, those who could identify the problems in their life, face them, and allow themselves to be changed, but instead found it necessary to conceive of themselves as “struggling with depression” rather than being genuinely held back emotionally by some nasty and real situation. Any work participating in the “culture of depression” has probably contributed to these sad and unnecessary cases.

Continue reading control


I wrote this for my abnormal psychology class, in response to the prompt “Identify a behavior that you engage in that others might classify as ‘abnormal’. Why is this behavior seen as different or unusual? How have you responded to the reactions of others?”. My choice of topic may at first seem glib, but I enjoyed writing it, and I like where I ended with it. I love being in school again. Nowhere else might I be asked to conjure up something of this nature.

I work in an office where the median age is in the late 50’s to early 60’s. Being 22 years-old, a number of my habits and behaviors naturally come across as abnormal to my co-workers. Some of these are merely a feature of different tastes and interests, but those that seem to have the most significant impact upon my interaction with my co-workers seem closely related to the different kind of relationship I have with technology. I have been using computers in various shapes and sizes since I was three years-old, and I generally find it extremely easy to engage in multiple activities (of a specific nature) simultaneously or in rapid succession.

Continue reading expectaculous


I can’t pretend that Ithaca could be called a city, but the resemblances are budding if you look closely enough. At the State St. house, I was precisely halfway between collegetown and downtown, which are the focal points of most activity in the area. It’s as busy as this town gets, which is quite dull. Still, it’s a few steps away from suburban, and I was surprised at the quantity of adjustments I found necessary. It took me a while to sleep through sirens a few times a night (on weekends especially), or just the generally constant passing of traffic. Once I adjusted, though, it became like white noise not unlike the whine of cicadas. Not unpleasant, and perhaps even a welcome reminder that the world is still going on. It even made me feel a bit jealous on those days I was bedridden with disease, knowing that everyone else was doing their thing while I could not.

There was, however, a sense of aesthetic disconnection from nature. This feels strange to say given the sometimes awkward artificiality of suburban landscapes (even in Ithaca), but there is something to be said for the sheer quantity of greenery consuming the visual field. Roads, sidewalks, power lines, and buildings gradually become more densely packed while trees and bushes seem more at odds with their surroundings. The roof was a delightful escape from this offense; at somewhere between three and four stories tall, the house was just tall enough to see above the tree canopy. It was distant enough from the ground and obscured from the main road by trees, so it bestowed just enough privacy to feel at ease. It was also well above the street lights, allowing for a very wide view of the stars at night. It was a place of intense excellence.

Continue reading urbanly

scientification, act 1

I think I have some explaining to do regarding the last two years of my life. I’ve strayed from sharing the day-to-day details of my life on this blog, but I think it’s time to make this place a little more human. As my dearest friends disperse out across the world once more, it would suit me to become comfortable providing some more detail about the progress in my life.

Spring 2009 was a rough period in my history. I was still working at the Geek Squad, a job whose only saving grace was a team of exuberant and eccentric co-workers that allowed me to share in some of their excellence. I was really enjoying the academics at IC, but the social scene was intensely isolating and in my semester there I couldn’t manage to make a single friend. I was also struggling to come to terms with my gradual conversion to atheism and what this meant for my identity and future. Living with my parents greatly exacerbated all of these issues, and I was eager to get out. When John approached me about joining him on an apartment hunt, I was totally on board.

Continue reading scientification, act 1


On a regular basis, the subject of whether or not I’m still smoking comes up among practically all of my friends (because they’re the kind of friends that care). I’ve legitimately quit twice since I started nearly three years ago, and made dozens of half-hearted attempts here and there (usually at the behest of a lady). I feel like it’s time I discussed how I even started, what’s kept the habit going, and how I perceive it as an individual and at a societal level.

I could try and say that it began because of the setting, and that might hold merit. I was in England, surrounded by people far beyond my age and wisdom who were introducing me to ways of thinking and living that I’d never before considered legitimate. I was an immensely curious teenager, impressionable and overwhelmed with new experiences, thoughts, ideas, and alcohol. Nights out to the pub were inevitably peppered with smoke breaks, and my curiosity demanded to know. But that wasn’t where the habit started.

Continue reading second-hand


It’s times like these that I revel in the impetuosity of my youth. While I have my share of worries in the coming months over how well our nation will weather the current storms, I can’t help but enjoy the sudden rush of analyzation that results from an entire economy halting in its tracks with the realization that we have collectively made a series of giant, throbbing mistakes. It’s harder to criticize when things are going well. Nobody wants to play Negative Nancy, and the one guy that does is probably an asshole (for proof, see Michael Moore).

At the turning point for a recession, however, there’s a magical period of time where everyone gets to participate in the collective outrage. We become momentarily unified as we all point fingers in the same direction, and the rare-chance to humiliate the super-rich avails itself as we pretend that they actually give a rat’s ass about what the average citizen thinks. As reality sets in and the truth of the matter becomes more complicated than just ‘greedy men are greedy’ with each new failing corporation, an awkward moment ensues when people realize that they haven’t a damn clue what they’re talking about. They search for the nearest person they can trust to understand and solve these problems for them, all the while mumbling vague curses under their breath.

This might sound like a trite and arrogant comparison, but this is very similar to the experience I have with customers at work. In many cases, a customer will slam a laptop on the counter and pronounce very loudly, “Fix this worthless piece of shit”, and before I’ve said anything they’ve already scowled and turned their back to me. Disregarding the fact that half the time the problems they’re having are simple user error, a long series of questions immediately spring to my mind that I wish I could ask the people that come to me with this kind of attitude, and these questions resonate deeply with my regard for many of today’s complaints about the government and the economy.

The foremost question that comes to my mind, however, is this: If it’s a piece of shit, why did you buy it? (or, If he’s a piece of shit, why did you elect him?)

Customers rarely, rarely bother to research the products they buy. They expect the store to fully inform them of anything they might ever need to know, though I would estimate that less than 1 in 10 people read a single word on the contracts they sign in this store (fun fact: my store does not cover damage caused by acts of terrorism or hurricanes). Similarly, it seems to me that many voters really haven’t a clue about the kind of person they’re voting for, particularly when it comes to local and state-level politics. State and local government has at least as much impact on any given person’s daily life as the federal government, but voter turnouts for off-year elections are significantly lower than presidential elections, and people are significantly more likely just to go with their party when it comes to choosing governors, mayors, senators, and congressmen. At least, that’s the trend I’ve noticed, however unsubstantiated it might be.

I’ll be honest – I am not saint in this regard, though it’s something I’m working to improve. As of right now, I don’t know who the mayor of Ithaca is. I don’t know who the governor of New York is, since Spitzer resigned. I don’t know who the second senator of New York is. I am completely clueless, yet that doesn’t stop me from getting pissed off when some new bullshit law gets through in New York, even though I have exercised none of my rights as a citizen to make sure I know who’s doing what and how it’s being done. The customers I deal with, likewise, have in some cases spent thousands of dollars without ever considering what it is they’re truly buying, going solely off the word of one salesman whose job it is to ensure they spend as much money as possible. I would love to think these were actions born simply of trust and faith in the goodness of mankind, but the reality is that people are just lazy.

Until things stop working, of course. Then, self-righteous indignation and disgust-filled anger rouse them to action after-the-fact. Kind of like the current economic situation.

I would be fine with this whole process if people learned something from these situations. People make mistakes and overlook important details – we’re human, it happens. In some cases, people do learn – but most of the time, the conversation only ends because they’ve run out of excuses and complaints to keep it going. Likewise, my fear with the current situation is that people haven’t actually grasped why things are the way they are, beyond this vague idea that Bush really didn’t do so hot. Most people do not appear to have made any tangible connection between their own actions, and the overall state of the economy. These problems couldn’t possibly be related to the fact that Americans have been living economically unsustainable lives – no, it must be entirely the fault of a small group of faceless CEOs, wholly disconnected from the average citizen.

That’s not to say that corporate bullshit and political manhandling isn’t at play. There’s no doubt about that. Yet, have we ever expected anything different? Why do we feign surprise? For eons, jokes have been made about the endless greed and blatant corruption of America’s power players, but the notion that we have no part in these sins is false. We elect them, we buy their products, we hold stock in their companies, and we take loans from their banks. We are responsible for each dollar we spend and each vote we cast. And it’s not as if these are our only assets, either. Freedom of speech and whatnot, you know?

The kind of customers I’ve mentioned, however, would prefer to continue within the status quo. They don’t want to be bothered with the messy details. They don’t care about the whys and the hows and the ifs. Instead, they will hope that they can conjure enough wildly exaggerated excuses to convince themselves and others that their situation is most certainly not their fault, and that immediate compensation is the only fair solution to their problems. Sometimes my managers cave in to those sorts of customers, though thankfully not too often. But what happens when these people take that same attitude to the government, and the government doesn’t even have the compensation they’re demanding? What will they do without a large, anonymous body to blame their problems on and demand solutions from?


In describing the fundamental differences between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism, one lecturer at L’Abri pointed to the core cultural roots that each tradition sprang from. The Greeks brought their tradition of philosophy to Christianity – a philosophy which greatly differed from what is practiced in modern times, focused much more on broad pictures rather than methodologies for precise understanding. When mixed with Christianity, a mystical framework for interpretation resulted, focusing on humanity’s relationship to the supernatural (God). Eastern Orthodoxy interpreted Scripture in such a way as to understand how humanity connects and ascends to God, emphasizing unity and relationship. By contrast, the Romans brought their tradition of law in their interpretation of basic tenets, and thus focused on the ideas of status, guilt, and forgiveness, the basis of any lawful society. They saw a need for justification in the face of divine wrath, and understood Scripture as they might a book of law.

I thought of this today, as my supervisor presented me with a few papers to sign as a part of his efforts to improve our quality of work. There were spaces for all of my co-worker’s names. It was a summary of our entire job in two pages, and my signature was to indicate that I understood this.

“So, you’re asking me to do my job.”
“And you need my signature to know that I’m going to do my job.”
“How does my signature ensure that I’m going to do my job, if I’m not currently doing my job?”
“It creates accountability. Your signature indicates you understand what your responsibilities are.”
“Am I not currently held accountable based simply on the fact that I’m being paid for my time here?”
“Yes, but this paper provides proof that you know what your job entails.”
“How does a signature prove that I actually understand that? My performance should be a far better indicator of that.”
“It doesn’t prove anything, but it means that when you break procedure in the future we have evidence that you actually know what you’re supposed to be doing.”
“This isn’t going to decrease the number of problems we’re having – it’s just a tool for punishment. Why don’t you just work with where each person is at, rather than trying to catch people on technicalities?”
“Because that isn’t working. We just took an $800 hit because someone forgot write some fucking notes, and we didn’t have enough evidence to stand up against the customer.”
“This won’t fix that.”
“Maybe not, but [our manager] wants something done.”

I’d love to live in a society where people are held accountable based on their actions, rather than what papers they’ve signed. On the other hand, maybe I wouldn’t – I’m sure that lack of false security would become terrifying.


I’m slowly approaching a full year under the employment of my employer, and my feelings towards the corporation are ever-changing. Some of you may recall my utter disgust with which I regarded Office Depot, and I went into this store with equally strong feelings. For the greater part of my employment, I responded by simply being a poor employee. I purposefully didn’t give a shit about my job, I did my best to avoid earning money towards our daily budget, I avoided opening up to or trusting my co-workers, and I convinced myself that I was the only competent person on the staff.

With time, however, I realized that I was consumed with a false idealism. I was determined to hate my surroundings because of how far it falls from what reality should be. I saw the depravity of my surroundings to be somehow unreal, or less real than what I might experience anywhere else in life. Furthermore, I was convinced that I was alone in my hatred of the system, and therefore ahead of the game, smarter than my foolish colleagues.

The first change of heart came simply in humbleness. I’m not actually as good at what I do as I think I am, and that my ego serves nothing but myself. I came also to recognize that people don’t submit to this system out of love or ignorance, but out of necessity. We’re all in this shit together, and it is more loving to work along side one another for something better than to try and sabotage the system. Additionally, I’ve also begun to understand that giant corporations aren’t necessarily large, faceless entities. Every store is not the same, because (at least for now) individuals are still running things. I’m not a machine, or a part of a machine, or any other lifeless metaphor. I’m a person, working for other people, to provide a service for people.

It is interesting to me, then, that I would make such a colossal mistake as to hand a person a laptop without asking for their identification first, the consequences of which I haven’t yet heard. Now, in my defense:

1) We probably process at least forty computers a week between the four or five of us. In the year I’ve worked there, hundreds and hundreds of computers come in and out.
2) This is a busy store. When people are waiting in line and the phone is ringing, people expect me to get shit done fast, and it’s not hard to forget the really important little things.
3) The woman walked up and asked for the specific computer by the name of the owner and the model, and she told me what work had been done on it. There was no mix-up – hers was the only computer of that brand we had.

So, I was pretty thunderstruck when another woman walks in an hour later asking for the same computer, and a phone call to her husband reveals no details about who might have just been in to pick the thing up. Thankfully, no personal information was on this thing (we’d restored it after replacing a bad hard drive). Had there been, I would almost certainly have been fired (although, like I said, my fate is still uncertain). The reason I find all this interesting is because I’ve finally come to a point where I can appreciate my job and the effort I put into it, and feel like I have come to a place where I can work my way up the promotion ladder and start building my resume. I don’t relish the thought of losing my job. I also don’t relish the ass-reaming I will most certainly experience tomorrow.


The phone at work has an awful, awful ring. It’s loud, metallic, and it bounces around my head for hours after I’ve left the store. It’s the sort of sound that nightmares are made of, the sound that I might wake up to, screaming because I thought I was being disemboweled, but in fact, I would merely be remembering the quarter-second tone that blasts through my few square feet of workspace whenever a lost soul comes to me (or my colleagues) for guidance. Indeed, if hell’s phones are ringing, I bet they sound like this.

Perhaps the most jarring feature of the all the phones at work, however, are simply their instantaneous ability to command attention, a power that existed even before these hell-born tones were introduced into my day. Whatever I’m doing is secondary to picking it up, and if what I’m doing precludes me from using a phone, part of my job description is to 1) feel guilty about my inability to reach the phone, and 2) silently will one of my co-workers to answering it, if only to stave off that demonic ringtone.

Ultimately, I’ve never been a fan of phones. They’re a strong contender in my rather short list of pet peeves, valiantly wrestling for the top position against my mother’s desire to hide the pots I use as ashtrays. It’s probably something I inherited from my family. Since the dawn of caller-ID, we stopped answering our phones except to those wise enough to call at least twice, yet my father insists on keeping a phone in every room of the house, that we might more efficiently ignore them.

It’s nice to be working again, though.

absolutely not

“Yeah, I was at a study center for philosophy, basically.”
“Philosophy? I love philosophy. Just the other day, a couple guys were talking about string theory – man, that stuff is fascinating, all those dimensions and stuff? Really intrigues me.”

Sometimes I get the feeling that people just don’t want to know any more than they already do.


Young IT employees pose a challenge to many managers who say the Millennial generation holds employers up to unrealistic expectations and makes unreasonable demands for their services.

You may have little patience for people who demand more than they are worth; but this generation has absolutely no patience for companies unwilling to engage them at market value.

It’s simple economics. If a key employee thinks that he is worth $X salary, you evaluate whether or not he’s worth it. If he is, you pay it. If not worth it, you don’t. That’s it. These people are not quitting to go work at McDonalds, they are finding other work that pays them what they want.

The ‘retention’ problem is not because this generation wants the kitchen sink; it’s because these companies don’t have any money to buy kitchens.

Hao Wu:
How often do we here, “If you don’t like your job – QUIT already!”

So we do just that, and the six and seven-figure salaries in management still feel violated.

I say f- them. Either pay more, or quit complaining about our right to leave.

I dunno…I have to say “Welcome to the real world”.

We’ve done our young people a disservice the past few decades….in schools and society, we’ve taken away anything that might hurt little Timmy’s self esteem…..everyone gets an award for ‘trying’, and everyone is taught they are all equal and will be treated that way.

Parents who work too much….have tried making up for it…by giving their kids what they want. It leads to people coming out of this sheltered environment, and being shocked that they don’t walk right into a job making the $$ their parents did….not instantly being a manager…and [shudder] having to work their way up from the bottom.

I’ll admit…my generation (early X) had a great deal of this too…but, not quite as bad as it seems the youth coming into the workforce now have.

I’m not saying it is all of them…but, this attitude does seem to be rising. Unless you can start your own business….you’re gonna have to learn that there is the golden rule…whoever has the gold, makes the rules. If you wanna work and make it…well, you’re gonna have to sacrifice and work hard for awhile, pay your dues as they used to say.

30-50 years ago, if you went to college, chances are your parents were blue collar people who worked their asses off to save enough money to give you that opportunity, and you probably had to work your ass off to get more money and scholarships to make it. Yeah, there were a few kids of rich parents, but they were the minority.

Now we have a LOT more people in middle-class office jobs. They don’t have to pull double-shifts to get their kids into college. And their kids don’t have to work their asses off for it – they can just get financial aid and student loans, WITHOUT having to join the army for 6 years. Yeah, there are still kids out there who work their asses off to get into and through school, but they’re in the minority.

30 years ago most kids who graduated college were thankful they didn’t have grease under their fingernails when they came home from work like their parents did. Nowadays, more of the kids who graduate college are from families who never had to worry about anything. If your parents always had enough money, why wouldn’t you?

“I say f- them. Either pay more, or quit complaining about our right to leave.”

There’s more to it than that. Someone just out of college may say, regarding his first 2-3 jobs, “This sucks! I’m not getting the {respect | money | office | projects} I deserve! F*** this. Bye.” But that person mistakenly thinks that he’s getting a worse-than-standard deal. So out of ignorance, he leaves a perfectly good job, chasing the mythical perfect job.

It’s that pointless churn that I think employers might reasonably be frustrated by. (Of course, those employees might find that they can do less work and get paid more by working in marketing. In that case, the employers are themselves getting a bitter dose of reality.)

They’ve been promised the world by well-meaning educators, parents, and public figures for most of their youthful lives.

College is your ticket out of the ghetto, means a higher income, better work conditions, more freedom, more control over your career, more respect, blah, blah, blah. It’s true in a way, but the way a university education is described is often as the opposite of blue-collar work. That is to say that many kids are told (I know I was, all the way up through the end of undergrad) that I was going to college to avoid certain things:

– Being poor
– Having to get paid for what I “do” rather than what I “think”
– Being stuck in a “dead-end job”
– Having to “flip burgers,” “answer phones,” “make copies,” or other “menial labor” work
– Low pay (this is a biggy, and you hear it over and over and over)

Well… all of these things are exactly what you confront when you finish your bachelor’s degree. I know it was a tremendous shock to me after having been goaded on for years to get good grades in high school, then to go to college, then to hang in there—goaded using all of these reasons for sticking with it—only to find out that college doesn’t provide you with wealth, the ability to get paid for what you think, a way to avoid dead-end jobs, having to start at the absolute entry level, or getting paid nothing for all of the above… The only way up the career ladder is to climb it, from the bottom.

It’s the “all kids must go to college” culture that we have—we even direct kids away from the things they’re interested in in many cases using these kinds of arguments (which are really veiled threats in a way of what consequences await them if they don’t go to college) and then they graduate expecting exactly the benefits that have been used as selling points for all these years.

I can completely empathize. It took me a good five years to come to terms with the fact that I’d essentially been had and would now need to choose between going out and starting up the career ladder as if I’d just graduated high school with essentially no advantage, or going to grad school on the other hand (i.e. school for many more years and at great expense) to gain at least some measurable advantage for myself with all the hard work I’d done.

I chose the latter, but I often reflect on the fact that I could easily have chosen the former as well… there was certainly a point in my life where it could have gone either way.

In a way, what was promised probably used to be true, but not because college was such a great training ground. If only the relatively gifted went to college, say, 50 years ago, then they would probably emerge to find a creative career in a respected field waiting for them. Now that any monkey with middle class parents can bum their way through, the group of college graduates is no longer self selecting for those who are talented enough to secure the things they’ve been promised.

Now, I don’t think this contradicts your point, but it may explain it. I think people may have mistaken the self selection in the last generation for some magical property endowed by the act of going to college. But I will contradict you enough to say that SOME new college graduates do find that those expectations are met. If you’re at the top of your class, intelligent, and actually good at what you do, you’re never not wanted. It may take a bit of legwork to find someone who’s willing to pay for that, but they’re always out there, because a lot of people are really really bad at what they do.

“If young people were going to develop responsibility, they would need to have a connection to what they’re responsible for, which means giving them real power in the world, which isn’t happening.”

This statement captures the problem beautifully. The world will be yours one day, want it or not. And if you’re a bunch of checked-out WOW playing crybabies it isn’t going to be much of a world. Nobody gives anybody anything worth having in this life. You get it by earning it. And if you don’t give a shit now, you certainly aren’t going to give a shit when the next generation is crying that you don’t do enough for them.

I advise you to get your ass off your shoulders and act responsible first. You’ll become elite within your generation.


I worked for a company that was bought out a few years back. The new CEO came to visit us to “pep talk” us, telling us that we were currently number two in the marketplace and that we wouldn’t settle for number two: we had to be number one.

No one was enthusiastic in the slightest, and it wasn’t because we were in a new company. No, we weren’t pepped by his speech because it was clear to us that there was no advantage to us other than perhaps some prestige to being number one. All we would be doing is earning him and the stockholders more money.

We’re told that we have to earn our place in society, but from many of our perspectives, there really isn’t anything *worth* earning. What is the very best that most of us can hope for? A middle class position in an ever poverty-increasing society due to the tremendous shift of wealth towards a small number of businessmen? A marriage where we both work long hours in order to fatten a tiny number of people’s pockets, coming home so exhausted that we’re barely able to tend to the children’s needs and much less to each other’s, so we compensate ourselves by the accumulation of possessions? Some world we’ve been offered. I’m not sure that it will be worse off if we’re a bunch of WOW playing crybaby slackers.

I’m frustrated that despite all of human innovation and technological advancements, I have to kowtow to an alarm clock that rings at 6:30 AM. Where are the promises that technology was supposed to reduce working hours and make our lives more pleasant? No, we’re forced to work harder to compete with other organizations who also suffer the same fate as our own. I think many of us have realized just how much society *has* lied to us, about college, technology, etc. and we’ve grown apathetic and tired of the empty promises. I’d rather be a relatively poor slacker with time to myself to do what I want and to enjoy my family than a successful developer whose time is consumed with largely meaningless pursuits and whose life is filled with possessions.

“We don’t feel that we should be expected to “earn” the right to be part of the important goings on in our culture.”

It should be handed to you? Some sort of divine right?

“We feel that, even if we do “earn” what rights are available, we will still be pawns in someone elses game, and we have no more love or respect for their game than they have for us, so we don’t bother.”

We older people feel like that too. Very few people throughout history have been able to evade that feeling.

“We consume these “opiates” because we hate the real world we live in, we see no hope of changing it, and we have given up and fled to imaginary land. In our zoned out state, we do only what we must to exist, because we are not really here.”

And the inevitable result of your pathological lethargy will be the fading of America as a country of importance. Let us hope you are not all like that.

“Now, some of us haven’t given up. But we still don’t take jobs for employers, we become self-employeed.”
This isn’t different than any generation that came before you.

“None of us are interested in taking these “entry level jobs” in the hopes that we might be blessed with something better some day. We know that someday will not come.”

Well, most people recognize that gaining experience makes you more valuable and more capable of starting your own business. There is no shortcut when it comes to experience. By definition, you must experience something to become experienced at it. GTA won’t help you. There are no video games to put real-world business experience, real world technology experience or, …, well, …, real world experience into your brain.

“If young people were going to develop responsibility, they would need to have a connection to what they’re responsible for, which means giving them real power in the world, which isn’t happening.

If young people do develop a sense of responsibility, they are still not going to take jobs. They are going to take over.”

It is every young generation’s manifest destiny to take over from the older generations, eventually. But there are rites of passage. Those older guys know more than you do. They are tougher, meaner, smarter, more experienced, better talkers, better programmers, better negotiators, better strategists, etc.., than their younger colleagues. They are like this because they have been at it a lot longer. You will take over as they retire off and/or as you become experienced enough to outsmart and outcompete them. Again, there are no shortcuts.

So stop being a spoiled brat and go do the grunt work. You aren’t yet up to the task of the higher profile stuff. You will know when you are up to the task, because you will take over. Until then, you are just flapping your lips. And no, you aren’t worth the same amount of money as someone that has been doing the job for 20 years. In all likelihood, if you disappeared, they would hardly notice – as a green kid, the company is investing in you – you likely add very little value, so you are being payed more than they are able to extract in value from your labor. You are likely being trained, groomed and given experience in the hopes that your value will eventually increase past the point where their investment is, making you a profitable employee to have on board. If the 20 year veteran disappeared, the lights wouldn’t turn on, the database would stop working, nobody would be able to get a new release out, it would start raining blood, cats and dogs would be living together and the company would go into crisis mood. But you wouldn’t know about that, because you haven’t experienced it…


I will start this off simple by revealing the not-so-surprising fact that I do not like Optimal Purchase, and I do not find my job to be filled with any measure of joy. While it’s good to work, and the money will eventually make it worth my while (since most of this will be going towards my Europe experience), it does nothing more than serve its purpose. Yet what floors me is that so many of my co-workers are positively thrilled to accept it at that. They have absolutely no true vision for their future.

Not every person is so deluded or thrilled, and in fact, the majority of them treat it for exactly what it is: a job, with a paycheck, and some benefits. Yet they, too, have no desire to move beyond their current position, and seek nothing more than the next step up in pay-grade so they can make the down-payment on that new (insert object of desire) coming out next month. Where the hell is their vision? What happened to bring people to such a level of mediocrity?

People have, from the beginning of their societal integration, been trained to separate their identity from work. What you do and how you do it is not a reflection upon your true self. (long side note: it’s for this reason that I dislike jobs that require you to hide jewelry or tattoos, to wear company-branded polo shirts, to mask self-expression for the sake of uniformity and organization) Work, school, these are just necessary hoops to jump that we can seek meaning in the rest of our lives, via marriage/family/kids, or through houses/cars/boats, or by climbing the social/political ladder. Life is not viewed as a whole, but as a series of experiences that must be suffered or enjoyed. To reach the moments of joy, you have to wade through a mire of despair – and to handle this, people have broken it down to a daily cycle, in doses that are deemed safe for general consumption.

I cannot deny that some parts of life just plain suck, but what the fuck – when it was determined that life sucks and that there’s nothing we can do about it, that was based on the presence of elements like death, sickness, the cruel nature of humanity. Those are the basics, and I don’t think those will be going away at any point in the nearby future, even with epic technological innovation. Yet, people seem content to live in a never-ending pattern just so they can try to grasp at trails of true happiness, hoping that maybe this time they’ll be content and that all of their hard work will have payed off.

I think this view of life is what pushes people into many of today’s most common ailments – loneliness and depression. It is not surprising that a man that hates his job so fiercely would eagerly desire the devoted company of another woman – yet how attractive is a man that hates half of his life? Depression, likewise, is a natural progression from such a hopeless and repetitive functionality as tossing yourself into joyless activities. People look to sex and drugs to solve these problems, but the solutions are not so skin-deep.

I often think about the classic experiment Rat Park, when considering what makes people truly happy. For those that have not heard of it, professor Alexander was studying the nature of drug addiction. He found that rats placed in healthy environments – environments that enabled appropriate amounts of exercise, social interaction, and entertainment – would not choose the morphine-laced water. The rats placed in cold, dark isolation, however, would always choose the morphine-laced water. When these rats were brought to the aforementioned “Rat Park”, they would, with time, stop taking the morphine-laced water, and would not drink it again, no matter what incentives the researchers provided.

My point is that happiness is holistic. We look to patchwork solutions when, in reality, there’s much more to look at. What’s required is a complete re-evaluation of our lives and what we deem most valuable and worthy of our time. The difference between the rats, and us, is that we are capable of crafting our environments as we deem fit (or so I believe). We have control over how we live – yet most people are perfectly content not to take advantage of that control, to sit by and let life happen to them.

My cynicism is hardcore, but I don’t think my observations are inaccurate. I’m not filled with angst, or even despair; I simply believe that there’s a hell of a lot of people that are capable of so much more than what they are, but they don’t even know it. Ignorance is not bliss, in this case.


I’ll miss the restaurant job.

“Hey, Jeff – do you remember that one girl that was working here probably…two months ago? Can’t remember her name, she was hosting and moved up to serving…”
“Alex. Alex, the really hot one, with black hair? And big breasts? That I was living with? And fucking? Constantly? Yeah, I remember her.”
“What? Is that who you were thinking of?”


“Hey, Kyle, hold up a second.”
» “Yeah, buddy, what’s up?”
“This really isn’t working out.”
» “How’s that?”
“I’m going bat-shit; I’m double scheduled two nights this week. I miss a day at the restaurant, my ass is totally fired. I make more on a slow night there than I do during a full day here.”
» “So you’re quitting?”
“What other choice do I have? I fucked up planning ahead, and here I am. I figured if I could make it through this week I’d be fine, but this was the breaking point. And the planograms. Ugh, the planograms. I’m sorry, man.”
» “Nah, don’t worry about it. I saw it coming anyways.”
» “I figured it’d be some time this week. You’re really good at this, you did a great job, but I totally understand.”
“Thanks. It sucks balls, but what the hell else am I gonna do? I mean, shit, I promised myself I wouldn’t get caught working Sundays, yet here I am. I missed a friend’s funeral yesterday for work, I’m at my wit’s end.”
» “So what’re you gonna do?”
“Find a job that’s okay with me working two days in the week? I don’t know where the hell I could do that, but I’m sure there’s something.”
» “Not likely.”
“I can’t take doing the corporate crap. I’m serious about the planograms. You know how long I spent moving shredder lubricant yesterday? Damn, talk about a lifeless task. How do you put up with it?”
» “Working at Borders wasn’t so bad, it was a little more free-form, but it’s all the same in the end. You put shit on a shelf, sometimes it’s more specific than others. Management isn’t so bad, there’s some thought to it, but it’s a job like any other.”
“I guess so, but I don’t think I could handle that, either. The bureaucracy of quotas…”
» “You’ll never get away from that, don’t even try. It’s just the way any business works.”
“Maybe retail’s not for me, then.”
» “The quotas are always there, even if they aren’t called that. You go to a law firm, you better be damn sure you have enough clients, win enough cases, it’s the same anywhere you go.”
“I’ll find something.”
» “Hah. Don’t be a stranger, man. Stop by. I’m not mailing your paycheck, either, you gotta come pick that shit up.”
“Yeah, alright.”
» “My first trainee quits after three weeks. Fucker.”


After dumping forty hours of my skilled-ass labor into America’s economy, I realized that my dignity comes at a higher price than a retail store has to offer. I’m flipping Office Depot the bird, as it were, and saying NO to shit like planograms and rewards cards. Quotas just aren’t my thing.

You’ve probably never seen a planogram – it’s just a diagram for where crap goes in the store, and they get updated based on the whim of some executive with ADD. I have never felt more useless in my life when I spent thirty minutes moving shredder lubricant from one side of the store to the other. It’s a glorified version of running in circles.

It also feels (morally) wrong to encourage people to spend money on stuff they don’t need. It feels brainwashing to go through powerpoint after powerpoint of training exercises so that I can complete quizlets to show I understand what Office Depot is about. Nothing disgusts me more than corporate blather. Sure, they have a purpose; they want their employees to feel alright about who they’re working for, they want to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Besides, I just don’t work Sundays. I’m not sure where along the line I figured I would be okay with sacrificing that.


This Thanksgiving, I am unusually unthankful. I have plenty of things to be thankful for, but these seem very insignificant compared to the problem I am faced with right now.

That problem, I believe, is me.

I called Mr. semi-famous old guy twice yesterday. The first time, to say that I would be an hour late (mostly due to me not getting up soon enough). He hung up on me while I was talking. The second time, to say that I needed to cancel. I was told, in response, that this was goodbye, that I was completely unreliable.

My initial response was denial. I felt that the circumstances for which I could not work for him were out of my control, and that he had no right to disrespect me like that. Upon examining the situation, however, I realized he was right. The reason I had to cancel was so that I could rake leaves with my dad, which he had rather firmly insisted I do in exchange for staying home Monday. When it got dark before I got to it on Monday, and spent all of Tuesday at that Robotics LAN, it had to be Wednesday. While the timing for that was mostly out of my control, the whole reason I had to rake the leaves was because I stayed home. I stayed home because I failed to finish my work in a timely manner.

I’ve replayed the exact conversation in my head at least a few dozen times. It’s wrenching me. I feel like I should send an email apologizing, but I’m not sure he would even want that. I have never been this utterly lost and incapacitated. I was caught off guard.

I don’t get caught off guard. That’s not what I do. But that’s what the past three months have been for me, situations and people and challenges that are catching me off guard. Perhaps it’s because of the summer. Having a job that was generally fun, productive, AND pertained to what my aspirations for a career are, feeling like I was learning something every day, never feeling felt constricted or bored, it put me in my comfort zone, to say the least.

I’m really not sure what to be thankful for, these days.

The Sad, Sad Clown

I don’t normally post so often, but the hilarity of this situation will be lost if I don’t act soon. I worked for Mr. semi-famous old guy today, and I’ve been pushed to the brink. I shall try to detail the events as humorously as possible.

Today, after school, I was “chilling” amongst the 40 degree rain with my “homeez” before I checked with Mr. semi-famous old guy to make sure I wasn’t skipping work. Understand, I didn’t really expect to be doing yardwork in 40-degree rain, I almost didn’t call because of my confidence that he would not be needing my work today. Nevertheless, I toddle into the nurse’s office. At the time, it had stopped raining only five minutes before.

Apply a very, very thick Russian accent to everything, and picture a stout man that is 4 feet tall, and the humor begins to take shape.

Me: “Hello Eugene, I’m checking up to see if you still want me to work today. It got awfully cold and rainy outside today.”
Mr. semi-famous old guy: “It stop raining. Let me see.”
(i wait approximately 1 minute, with only the noise of many things crashing on the other side of the phone)
Mr. semi-famous old guy: “No, it’s fine. Come!”
Me: “Uh…alright…it’s kind of wet, but, I’ll be there in a bit. Thanks.”
(the phone clicks off without him saying goodbye)

I make my way on up to his house, which is about ten minutes away. Upon arrival, he sees my attire of shorts and a fleece jacket, and a new dialogue ensues.

Mr. semi-famous old guy: This is not proper attire. You need pants and coat!
Me: It’s fine, I’m not that cold, let’s just get to work.
Mr. semi-famous old guy: I don’t want you catch cold!
Me: No, really, it’s fine.

At this point he gave me the directions for planting the tulips around, but glaring problem stood in the path of doing this. He wanted me to plant at least a dozen tulips in a garden I’d already thoroughly planted in. There was practically no room left.

Me: I’m not sure there’s going to be room in here. If I dig, I may hit the bulbs I’ve previously planted.
Mr. semi-famous old guy: What bulbs? I don’t remember this.
Me: It was a few weeks ago, I don’t remember the names. I planted them all over, though.
Mr. semi-famous old guy: Uh..throw out these annual greens and plant next to them.

When he shuffles off, I’m a little worried. This now leaves an entirely barren patch of garden, filled with three kinds of bulb-type annuals. That’s gonna be one screwed up garden come next year. As he comes back out, he’s carrying a beige trenchcoat.

Mr. semi-famous old guy: Put it on, if you will.
Me: Really, I’m fine! I’m only here for another fifty minutes, I’ll be perfectly okay!
Mr. semi-famous old guy: Please, I don’t want to you catch cold!
Me: I’m certainly not cold, especially my upper body. I have a jacket on.
Mr. semi-famous old guy: Wear it, I don’t want you catch cold!

Not wanting to give the guy a heart attack, I figured I would appease him. How cumbersome could a trenchcoat-jacket be? I begrudgingly put it on.

Mr. semi-famous old guy: You should zip it up.
Me: …
Mr. semi-famous old guy: Do you need help?
Me: No, it’s fine, I can zip it up myself.

As I start to break ground (it’s now been 10 minutes since I got there), the first ground I hit contains an old bulb. After discussing the significance of this for at least five minutes, he does not relent and I keep going. He wanted me to stick the tulip right on top of the old bulb. Maybe he should stick to math, and not gardening. He shuffles away again and I manage not to hit any more old bulbs, thanks to the clear space provided by the now shredded Begonias and furry green things. He comes back out, this time carrying jeans. These are not just any jeans. These are jeans with a waist size of 50. My waist is a 30.

Mr. semi-famous old guy: Be a good boy and obey me just this once, and put these on.
(i give him a blank stare)
Mr. semi-famous old guy: Please! Put it on!
Me: We’re wasting time. Just let me work.
Mr. semi-famous old guy: You’ll catch cold!
Me: I’m not gonna catch a cold in the forty minutes I have left.
Mr. semi-famous old guy: Please put it on.

Wanting to ensure that I get payed, I obliged him. Overestimating the width, I didn’t take my shoes off before attempting the feat of putting these gargantuan pants on. They got stuck at the very bottom, and I spent three minutes doing the one-legged dance attempting to pull my shoes out of the jeans, while not getting my socks wet, and then getting the jeans on over my shorts. At this point, I must have looked like some kind of clown. I have waist size 50 jeans on, a bullet-proof trenchcoat, and massive gardening gloves on. As expected, they immediately began to fall off, and I did the “no-belt waddle” to prevent them from just falling to my ankles.

Mr. semi-famous old guy: Ah, you need a belt.
Me: Naw, really? Please, just let me get to work.
Mr. semi-famous old guy: You waste time trying to keep them on!
Me: We’re wasting time now! I only have thirty-five minutes left!

Mr. semi-famous old guy mumbled and shuffled back inside, and I managed to work for another ten minutes without interruption. This time, he held a striped belt.

Mr. semi-famous old guy: You need this.
(at this point, i was mildly afraid he would start beating me with it)
Me: No. I don’t. Just let me work! We only have a little time left!
Mr. semi-famous old guy: Please, put it on.

He put the belt on a nearby chair and shuffled away yet again. I was able to work in mild peace for the next twenty minutes, until my dad showed up, and that was that. I’ll probably write him an email tonight, with one of two options for him. Either I quit, or he pays me two (maybe three) more dollars an hour.

I feel kind of bad giving that kind of option to an old guy well-versed in a field I’ll eventually need to be heavily acquainted with, but that was just ridiculous. I mean, really.

EDIT: Since people seem to not be noticing the link to the wikipedia article (wiki is slow today), the guy is a semi-famous mathematician, he’s 80+ years old.

Also, I hold in my hands a check for seven dollars. Clowns get payed more per hour than that, right?

You no take candle!

This so, so so isn’t ready, but I desperately want to post. I’ve been dreaming about it. I kid you not. This blog is wonderful to me. I love it dearly.

We’ll backtrack from here to then.

I’ve spent the past 3 days pretty much just playing World of Warcraft. I caved in and used Paul’s 10-day free trial, after which I will continue playing. At the moment, I’m a level 13 priest, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Very good game. But none of you have waited a month to hear about that.

Work has improved marginally. At this point, I’m basically getting paid to learn/do AutoCAD, which I shouldn’t be complaining about at all. It’s actually been a really good learning experience – I’ve learned how to mail all kinds of packages (I only knew how to mail letters before), stain wood, do stuff at the bank, lots of random things that are kind of useful for every day doings. It has a lot of boring moments though, mostly when I don’t have enough variety in my work. This last project in AutoCAD I’ve been doing has just shot my nerves – every day, something new changes or happens and I have to redo a lot of work. Frustrating, let me tell you. Thankfully, I’m not under any deadline, so nothings going to fail because of me. Actually, the project I’m working on right now is for a building that will be going up where Dominoe’s (that don’t look right O.o) used to be, next to the Gateway Center. It’s a pretty spiffy building. Maybe there’s an NDA on it or something, so I should probably be hush hush….

The only other significant thing in my daily life (e.g. that consumes time) is Jen, whom I still don’t like. She’s mostly house trained, but she’s still a puppy, and thus retains puppy-ness. How quaint.

In important news, Jonothan gets back from Iraq September 15th. He actually arrives back on the 5th (this Saturday), but has to stick around for a many number of days for whatever reason. I’m really looking forward to seeing him. I won’t be able to go down and meet him because it’s 10 days, but, whatev, I’ll see him soon. Before I got WoW, I was playing lots of Zelda (the gamecube version, which I will get to, and OoT), which brought back some great memories from our first Christmas here. We’d get up in the morning over break, grab some hot chocolate and all the blankets we could find, plop down in front of our little monitor and play for many hours. I can’t remember how we worked it out, we probably took turns or something, I dunno.

No word has come in on Christopher’s discharge (still). I’m hoping he’ll be here before Thanksgiving, at this point.

Let’s see….I’ve acquired a job with a cool old Russian dude. He’s a retired professor from Cornell, like 80 years old, so I help him out with gardening and stuff. It lasts basically indefinitely, which is how I’m going to be paying for WoW.

Zach lent me this CD from a band called Bloc Party – it is growing more, and more, and more on me. The lyrics SUCK, basically the same phrase (which was good the first time he said it) over and over (not so good the 8th time). However, the music is excellent, and my constant techno-listening (6 hours a day minimum, thanks to work), I can phase it out and listen to the good stuff.

And now, for the rants that have been brewing for a month.


I can’t stand it.

I can tolerate a literal interpretation of Genesis, but the ID mindset has gone too far. For once, Bush has really ticked me off. As most of you know, I was once a big fan of him, but he’s servicing the “religious” right, giving them everything they want while he has time. I can’t stand it. Whether I’m a part of the people he’s blowing kisses towards or not, I don’t want the tax dollars I am now spending (I pay income tax now! Huzzah!) to go towards a movement to stick a “science” like ID in schools. A Slashdotter put it perfectly: Once the ID crowd are willing to say that the Intelligent Designer (God) is falsifiable, then and only then can ID be considered as a possibility. And I know well enough that it’s impossible for that to happen. Faith is the hope in things that cannot be seen, proven, or denied. As with most things that are written in the midst of emotion, I will probably regret a specific phrase or sentence which does not reflect what I mean. But we’ll see. Open fire.

The Gamecube Zelda.

It sucks.

It sucks majorly.

I could live with cell-shading. I could almost live with playing a child, with child-like characters in a child-like work. I could just about live with the sailing. But not. It sucks. I want the next version, which has been delayed until 2006.

Nintendo, if it isn’t good, I sincerely hope you go down in flames.

I wish you all well on this night. I will slowly improve the blog as I desire, but it’s readable, and that’s what matters at this point.


This week has generally not been great, though mostly circumstantially. I’m pretty much over Daisy, and Jen is as annoying as ever. It’s life.

Work has been highly mundane, thanks to the task I’ve currently been assigned to. I’m supposed to be updating their entire inventory, recording everything and making sure the resources list is updated. This includes all their catalogs. As energy auditers, they need to know the cheapest and most efficient items of just about all housing materials – plumbing, lighting, electricity, HVAC (heating-ventilation-A/C), architecture, blah blah blah. So they have a big wall of catalogs from tons of companies on all of this stuff. Whenever they last logged their inventory of this stuff, they didn’t record the date of the catalog and the website. So, my job is to go through all 150+ of these things and find a date and website. I have like 1/3 of the wall left to do. Thank heavens.

I had a lot more to write, but I can’t articulate well right now, and I don’t want to rewrite this later. For now, watch this, see the aftermath.

Another Quickie…(O.o)


Happy, Gwen?

New case is wonderful – far quieter and sexier than before. I’ve set my next goal on what to buy – 150 dollars is the required amount this time. CD-RW, DVD/CD-ROM, Arctic Silver, HSF, PSU. Should have that before the end of the month – this is aesthetically the biggest upgrade – the drives will be black, the computer will run slightly faster and cooler, all that jazz, which will be rather nice.


I had the interview with Sho’s dad on Friday, which went rather well – I didn’t actually know it was an interview until Sho scolded my Army shirt near the end of school. It went well either way – it’s exactly what I’d hoped for. That, plus the 7 bucks an hour makes for a very good job.


When I got home I promptly ripped apart my computer as Karel watched in laughing horror as I recklessly constructed the beast. My mistake in the building process was in not putting the seperators (my mind blanked on the actual term…) between the mobo and the case. Thankfully my ‘Power Supply’ brand PSU was smart enough to stop before frying me and my hardware. I didn’t know this at the time, and the squealing noise emitting from the PSU scared me witless. After spending the entire night laboring over the mess, I gave up assuming the power surge that day had shorted the PSU, which fried the motherboard and processor.

The next day I was severely distressed – I’d gone a full 18 hours without a computer, and I was beginning to crack. I retreated to my dad’s computer, when available, to sort out which parts to order, which added to 600 dollars. I obviously don’t have 600 dollars on me – I was set on loaning it from either Karel or Christopher. Dad was DEAD set against me borrowing from Karel, and spent all of Sunday arguing with him over the phone and bargaining with Christopher to get him to loan me the money. The other choice was to wait 12 days (actually more than that – about 20) for my Dad to get home to order them for me. Truly, a stressful situation.


In between all this, Paul, Ben, and Zach spent the night Saturday, after randomly appearing as I was going out to mow lawns (at the time Kerry and Julia were there too). Thoroughly mocking my biking gloves, they felt absolutely no mercy for my ego. I didn’t go to church the following morning even though I was ready by 9:15 – Mom didn’t get back from dropping Dad at the airport until almost 10:00, and Paul was still around, so I decided to stay home.

Today, I got myself a grand olde haircut (which I rather like, as per usual). I think I like this one enough to replace my :-O picture. Ye shall see.

I also watched Gladiator two or three times over the weekend. Possibly my favorite movie.


A few quick things. The case arrived today, but mom and dad weren’t home when it came, so we’re dropping by to pick it up from the FedEx office after my interview-thingo with Mr. Shapiro. If the interview goes well, I’ll be working 4 hours a day for two months, probably doing paperwork, but that is yet to be seen. I’ll also be working with Greg at the greenhouses 4 hours a week for the summer, and with the added mowing, I’ll have plenty of money to complete this computer before the end of summer.

I selected a PSU today during Programming (she was doing review, and offered to let whoever didn’t want to review for the final could go in the lab, which was really nice. I might have enough from mowing all tomorrow, depending on how much is left over from the case. We’ll see.

And now, away I go.


So I went to work, for once, and it’s really cool, pulling boiling hot crap out of autoclavers and the like. There’s radioactive and toxic stuff EVERYWHERE, it’s crazy. And that’s about it. I overslept this morning (I just woke up) so I’m home, which really annoys me, as I expected my mom and/or dad to wake me up…i shouldn’t really expect much for going to sleep at 4 so regularly, but even so..heh. I’ve been going through this Final Fantasy stage…I got to the third disc of FFVIII then I decided to go try and finish FFIX. Then I decided to go play Warcraft III. At the same time. It works out well, I guess. I had also been play FFVII a bit too…I realized how brilliant that game is compared to any TBC (turn-based-combat) to date. Oh well, I’m happy right now, probably because I just had a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and a shower…mmm…


This has been an amazingly great Monday. Nothing particular happened…just went really smooth. Smooth like butta. Yo. So I’ve been thinking about this summer…and my possibilities seem endless, now that I can work for a real job. It would mean having to get a work permit (physical, anyone?) but even at minimum wage it beats mowing by at least twice as much if I worked the same hours, which I wouldn’t be. Best case scenario, I’d get hired and earn minmum wage for working 6-8 hours a few days a week, helping repair computers. I have a strong feeling I won’t get hired, but I really have nothing to lose. If nothing else, maybe they’d let me observe what they do and just be a servant-ish person. Something like that. But I have high hopes. Providing I get the money I have a list of stuff to apply it to.

»Halo Soundtrack ($20)

»Last Samurai Soundtrack ($20)

»Halo 2 (probably somewhere in September-October) ($50)

»Fable (probably in June – July) ($50)

»Eventually, a new computer. Probably not till next year, though. (I’m probably gonna spend $1200 on that, at least…)

I’m definately psyched. The experience at that place would be wonderful – but I’m 15, and 15 year olds have a hard time getting jobs. I’m still hoping, though!