Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Word About Facebooklessness

I have had Facebook for five years now. When I look back on all the good times (literally, you can do this on your wall) I have seen friends come and go, flirtations, family stories and Farmville invitations I've consistently shunned. It's really a lot to take in, honestly. Before I hit this mini-milestone and quite to my surprise, some strange part of me said, "maybe you should take a break, man," and so I did. Facebookless ensued throughout the month of February. 

In that one month I learned the most pivotally important and unspoken truth in all of humanity. 


Actually, I just missed Facebook - and the fact that I missed it does tell me something about myself that I'm feeling foolish enough to share. 

There are 400 million active Facebook users. For comparison the United States has just over 300 million users (read: citizens). Of those 400 million users, on any given day 50% of them sign on to check their Facebook - which still happens to be more then three times the current estimated population of the UK. In fact, just for the heck of it you could toss in the current populations of Venezuela, Belgium, and Australia and you'd still have less than the 200 million people who log on daily. 

Ready for some even crazier stats? I hope so, because lets be real, I'm white and white people love to prattle off statistics:

35 million people update their status each day. And if we didn't know that your pet hedgehog had diarrhea we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves.

The average user has 130 "friends" through Facebook. And I bet they all get Christmas cards. 

Each month 60 BILLION pictures are uploaded. We just can't get enough of sharing and viewing each other's family vacation/cat albums. 

Of all of them perhaps the most unsettling and the biggest reason for my abstinence over the past month is this - The average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook. 

I'm not making this up, it is all available on Facebook's press room page - but then if you're an average user you probably know I'm not making it up. My use of the social networking site has steadily increased over the years, something that I didn't think would be possible post-graduation but as millions of stay-at-home mom's and inefficient cubical workers can attest, it is very possible. Why on earth do we spend fully one 1/17th of our waking hours on this website? 

I think it's because we were made to be in community. In a world that is so crowded, sprawling and disjointed physically speaking, Facebook is the way of bridging the gap and faking our way to closeness with everyone - or anyone. 

And yet, Fakebook or not, I still miss it. I missed it the first week when I felt myself feeling markedly lonelier even though nothing else in my day-to-day routine really changed. I went through a period where I was perfectly okay without it and then there were days when I just opened my laptop and shut it again in disgust. For days it would lie on the floor next to my bed like an ex-smokers dejected Zippo collection, and I had nothing to offer it because, without Facebook, it had nothing to offer me. Could it be that we've given Facebook too much power? That so many hours of human life are channeled through a company that ultimately has a bottom line at the top of their agenda - could that be just plain wrong?

Or perhaps even more wrong is the irony that I fully intend to post this on my wall first thing tomorrow, March 1. You know, right after I check my new comments, messages, and update the world on the status of my fresh paper cut that REALLY hurts sometimes!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blood on Brow.

"Interest lies not so much in a topic as in what a writer has made of it" -Thomas S. Kane

About a year ago I picked up a book called The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing. This is the sort of thing that I walk past on the shelf and naively whisk off to the register with the hair-brained idea that I can become a great writer overnight. It has happened once or twice. If there is one thing that really annoys me about writers that read books about writing it is the fact that they rarely write.

I've enjoyed writing on this blog and the ones before it for five and a half years now. Looking back over that vast body of hastily and poorly written meandering prose I've realized that I write only when it pleases me to write. Good writers write to some other end. I use writing as a crutch to balance out my lack of eloquence with the spoken word - as if to say, "Hey, look how well I can put things when I have a half hour or so to think about them first." Stupid things roll out of my mouth like bullets from a mini-gun. If only I had 30-45 minutes to formulate a response to any given interaction in real life - but alas. I think that is another big reason that I enjoy writing, it affords me that luxury of editing my thoughts.

I just read Don Miller's new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It was good. In it he quotes a writer who says, in effect, that he doesn't like writing but he likes having written. What a good quote. There you have a psalm of sorts that fits into so many different scenarios. We don't like accomplishing things - we like having accomplished them. Am I right? Think about whatever it is you do and I bet you'll see that the light at the end of the tunnel is what keeps you going. You want to know that you did something worth while but that doesn't mean it feels worth it while you're doing it.

Long story short I'm going to work on being a writer for "reals." Not the kind of writer that writes to have a couple of laughs or blow off steam and get comments from two or three awesomely loyal friends  (thanks guys!) but one that really and truly can backhand the English language into submission. As such I am going to start by doing some of the exercises at the end of the chapter in this Oxford book. This is not going to be pretty. My grasp of correct grammar, usage, and especially style and mechanics leaves much to be desired. I probably violated 12 or more rules in the above sentence alone. Nevertheless, I'll never get better without first writing poorly.

Exercise 1:
"List ten or twelve topics you might develop into a short essay" then "Selecting one of the topics off your list, compose a paragraph about the readers for whom you might develop it."

1) The meaning of life and Ecclesiastes
2) The Hipster: Looking forward into a new decade
3) The New Year: an underrated holiday
4) Setting Goals vs Forcing Changes in Behavior
5) All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Graduating into a Down Economy
6) Working for the Weekend (how life changes in the real world)
7) The art of contentment.
8) The Romance of Cheap Beer
9) Life in Shrink Wrap
10) One Month Without Facebook

9) In this essay I would explore the use of shrink wrap in the commercial industry to seal products. We think of it as a protective covering but I would argue that its purpose is less tangible. The audience is 20-something pseudo-intellectuals with too much time on their hands and an inflated sense of self-importance. Coincidentally, that also describes the author. They have grown up knowing what it feels like to rip the wrapper from a CD jewel case so they will connect with experience of breaking a factory seal and relate easily to the parallels and parable used to draw real life examples of how we mentally shrink wrap our friends, families, and ourselves in one way or another.
assignment one: finished

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Grand Pinano

I have found them. The world's most gifted wordsmiths have all gathered at the same place on the internet. They don't write novels or memoirs, no no. They are talented chiefly in their unprecedented gift of description. I have seen no greater example of never ending and creative adjectives than I did on this website. It isn't a travel site or a dirty girly site. These descriptions come from none other than a beer connoisseur site.

Who knew there were such dramatic and meaningful terms to describe the qualities of a glass of the brewski? I sure didn't, but if you don't believe me here are some excerpts.

The taste is surprisingly balanced. Ooh, look, here's the malt! This isn't a tooth disintegrating, cheek numbing, hop bomb of an iipa like some out there. It's got actual balance. Sure the hops are stong enough to blast your palate and drown out any milder beers for the rest of the night, but this ain't Ruination. It's balanced.

A rush of pine, candi sugar, a bit of molasses, and finishes simi sweet with a crushing spice at the end that lingers forever!

Coats the air with honey seared grapefruits and flowery resined hops. I pushed my nose close to the glass to inhale the orchestra of melting spruce and fresh pine needles. Hints of lemon soaked tangerines. Smells like they corked a pine tree and drained out all of the sap while blowing it full of toffee smoke. Citrus, berries, and perfection.

For those who care to read even more beer reviews the site is

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I was supposed to go to work today but I am sick. All night I rolled around with the cold sweats, the kind you only get by having the flu or disembarking from a roller coster after feasting on Tex-Mex. In my case it must be the former.

I'm glad I have a good family. All throughout the day one or two of them will come poking their heads in the door to see how I'm doing, bring me soup, medicine, or tissues. This is the part of living with your parents that really is cool, (the part that isn't cool being when you reveal it to your coworkers and/or attractive people of the opposite sex).

If you haven't just uselessly laid in bed for an entire day you really are cheating yourself. Tons of fascinating things happen when nothing fascinating at all is happening. Today, for instance, I stared at my legs for about 3 minutes. Before you dismiss me as a hallucinating fevered flu victim, allow me to explain. I spend every day in such a rush to get through the day that I have completely ignored my legs for months. As far as my consciousness of my legs goes, I only think about them when they hurt or when I am concerned that my pants are too short, a fear which stems from the brutal teasing I received as a middle schooler in "high-waters." If you were to ask me how I got around I'd tell you that I walked, but I doubt that I really ever actually think about it. I may as well be levitating everywhere I go. 

If we're really honest, life would be more interesting if we all levitated instead of walked. In my mind I just pictured a family at the mall, sitting Indian style in a meditative pose while floating into The Footlocker. See. Infinitely more interesting than the old ladies that power walk the hell out of those places.

After a while I just began thinking about everything in a peculiar way. Maybe this is because on a normal day I don't have the option to think about much of anything that doesn't somehow relate to better serving our members. I remember how alien the whole thing felt when I first got there. The thought that 80% of someone's waking time should be spent on doing well at work just baffled me.

"There are more important things to concern ourselves with," I thought.

Things like being a good friend, pondering the infinity of space and giving your cat a mohawk. Who could actually put the majority of their time and effort into the building or sustaining of a lifeless, dull, uninteresting entity like a company? The answer, I have found, is me. Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up and despite what your mother told you, you can't be whatever you want to be as long as you try really, really hard. Most of us will line up single file and take our seats in corporate oblivion and what is really scary is that you will start to be okay with it. Not just a little okay, but really deep down okay with it to the point that you don't even consciously think about it being unworthy of your time anymore. Well, except on days like today when you have all the free time in the world to think about such things - and to stare at your legs, of course.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sneezy McGee

Two christmas parties in two night. Yes. Amazing.

That is all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Task Management

It's that time again - when I shirk the little voice in the back of my head that tells me how self-indulgent and undeniably ego-centric it is to pretend that my thoughts merit the attention of the public at large (or in my case, at very small) and write a new blog post.

Today's topic: Independent music scene aficionados.

What is it about white people and music that makes us think that just because other people enjoy a particular musician or artist that they are somehow beneath us, even if we really would or did enjoy them otherwise? I have dealt with this feeling myself. We all have that band, singer or glockenspiel player that we sort of view as our "pet" musician. We love to tell our friends about the little details of their lives and how great they are and ultimately, the coup de gras is to utter some semblance of the phrase, "no one's really heard of them yet." At that exact moment, little silent fireworks are released into the brain, a personal victory march for our own awesomeness at knowing of a hidden talent that is not appreciated by those who do not actively work to find new music.

Once they become popular one of two things happens. Either you act disinterested in them because, "Yeah, I was listening to that stuff like, a year and a half ago. I'm kind of over it," when in reality you just bought and enjoy the heck out of their "sell-out" major-label debut - OR - you have sworn off even listening to their major-label debut because they are so beneath you that you don't, you CAN'T even care. They can no longer deliver the fireworks.

And so I ask, dear scene-kid music "lover," is it the music you love or is it the scene? If it truly is the music then stand by your band. Rock out to that top 10 single - yes, even rock out next to that redneck guy in the bar who doesn't even know what he's listening to but still bobs his head in-between sips of the blue ribbon. You know why he bobs his head? Because the music is good. Be an equal opportunity appreciator.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sandy Eyes

Another beautiful fall day! In about 15 minutes I will go out the door, hop in my car and go hurtling down the interstate at 80 miles per hour toward work and I may take a moment or two to glance around and admire the beauty of nature as I go. Also, the beauty of 18-wheelers, especially the ones with cartoon theme mud flaps.

A while back I did a post about things I miss from college, and I think I need to add one to that list - walking to class. What I wouldn't give to live close enough to work to be able to walk to work instead of drive. Sure, I had to leave 30 minutes earlier because walking is not as time-efficient, but those were some of the best times to think and enjoy being outside.

Don't get me wrong, I am well aware of all the thinking that can and does take place in cars, especially on the interstate, but it's just not the same. If I get a break from work today I think I will walk aimlessly around the outside of our office building. There are some pine trees back there and even if my coworkers look outside and think I've gone postal, it will be worth it to breath in some pollen and feel alive again.

Love. Grace. Peace.