4.30.2012

Five Way Facebook Is Ruining Your Life



1. Facebook is the graveyard of potential. People post about the idea they have, and get shot down. People post about the thing they want to do, and they get laughed at. People post about the workout they want to try or the job they want to apply for or the skill they want to learn, and they get shit on. So they give up, because it hurts and they're now discouraged.

Or...

People post about the idea they have, and they get lauded, praised and encouraged. People post about the thing they want to do, and they're patted on the back and "Liked." People post about the workout they want to try or the job they want to apply for or the skill they want to learn, and they're inundated with how-to links and information. So they give up, because posting about it and getting the reaction for the idea was just enough satisfaction for the ego that they no longer feel like they need to do the work.


2. Facebook has become your stream of consciousness. When you used to lay in bed while everyone else was asleep (or, if you were alone) and have thoughts about how lonely things were, or how much you hate the current political whatever, or how much you like Nutella, that stuff floated into and then back out of your brain. Now, it's on Facebook, written in ink on the internet permanently for the world to see.

Is this a problem? Yes and no. It's not really the same issue as insulting someone on the internet and not being able to erase it, or hurting your employment potential by posting pictures of yourself naked drinking from a beer bong or whatever. It's a problem in that our thoughts are not our own anymore. There's not much room for contemplation. Expression takes over. Everything has to not only be captured, but shared.

The impulse to let everyone else in the world know what's in your head isn't even about letting everyone else in the world know it, it's just about getting it out there. And that leads to a complete loss of individuality and self-awareness. How can you consider the  nature of yourself when people are commenting on every thought you have?


3. Facebook is the ultimate enabler for the drug of validation... And the cause of the worst withdrawals. This goes hand in hand with Facebook being your stream of consciousness. Every little thing you think is clever or interesting or noteworthy or funny that has come out of your head is now being judged by everyone else in the form of likes. Now, you're getting a real-time running update of your own self-worth based on how large the number is of people who clicked a button as a reaction to what you said.

People's comments drive your feelings of self worth. You're opening yourself up to them in an environment free from actual accountability. And while all the positivity and likes and great comments feel good and aren't in and of themselves harmful, the act of constantly seeking approval definitely is. And it's getting worse. The larger your friend base, the more popular you feel. The more comments and shares and likes your posts get, the smarter and more interesting you feel. Until one day, something doesn't perform the way you thought it would. You get frustrated. You get angry. And then, you start craving that validation. You start feeling the aches and pain and headaches and lethargy that come with depression. Your day is ruined.

Or, just as bad, something you posted gets a ton of reaction. It goes viral. People adore it. You spend your entire day watching as the meter ticks upward and shares and likes flood in. You have now lost an afternoon or a day to staring at your validation meter climbing ever upward. Your day is ruined --although you may not feel like it is at the time. But it is, because you just engaged in the digital equivalent of spending an entire day stoned in an opium den.


4. Facebook feels like work. So much so, that you have substituted actual productivity with it. You share charitable posts about charitable acts and you feel as if you've actually engaged in charity. You share news of atrocities taking place in your town, city, state, country, or the world, and feel like you've actually done something to help. You click "Like" and feel like that tally adds up to something worth a damn. And if you take the "graveyard of potential" issue with this one, you have a two-edged sword of issues.


5. Facebook takes all your time. There's just so much going on at all times, and you have to keep up with it all...

* * * * *

Facebook is all of these things... And yet, it's not evil. It's not even marginally bad. It's just a piece of software. Facebook is no more responsible for your lack of productivity, addiction to validation, loss of motivation or enraged vitriol over current events regarding politics and religion than video games are responsible for violence.


Facebook's not your problem. It's you, baby. It's always been you. 

Thinking Facebook is to blame for someone cheating on their spouse or your miserable mood is the same as thinking that buying the new workout machine or program du jour is what's finally going to get you in shape. It's not. You have the world's greatest piece of exercise equipment right outside your front door. It's the road, and the fact that you aren't walking or running on it every day proves this point.

I'm not saying "Get off of Facebook." I'm saying "You, like everyone else, are a validation junkie, and you need to put that shit in check." Facebook's just one part of your problem. It might be a very good place to start solving it. Just like putting down the bottle is a great place for alcoholics to start.


4.29.2012

On Confidence

The person who says "Fuck everyone! I don't care what they think!" usually does. A lot.

It's an offensive defense. It's talking loud enough that it drowns out the voices in their heads that say "Oh, but you do... You do."

By boasting how much you don't care what others think, you're actually allowing their thoughts to control you. If you didn't actually care what they think, you wouldn't care that they know how much you don't care.


Confidence isn't not caring what other people think. Confidence is to not let what other people think change you. Every story I write, every picture I draw, every site I design, every idea I conceive... I care a LOT what other people think about them. I care that they'll like them. I care that they'll enjoy them. I care that they'll react well to them. Any artist, performer or worker who tells you otherwise is lying. 

Everyone cares what other people think about them and the things they do. It's human. Somewhere deep inside, you care. I care. We all care.  Confidence is staring down the thoughts of others about who you are, what you're doing or how you're doing it, and saying "this will work." Confidence is knowing there will be consequences and doing whatever it is you set out to do regardless.

You might be wrong. No one said doing something with confidence would necessarily equate to doing it right. But without confidence, whatever it is you're doing doesn't actually belong to you. It belongs to everyone you're trying to please. Your words, your actions, your behavior... All controlled by the invisible strings being pulled by everyone around you. 

Cut the strings. Do what you do; be who you are. Do so with confidence. Let people react and let them own those reactions. You own your moments. 

4.28.2012

214 Steps To Becoming Happy



  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  2. See step 1.
  3. See step 2
  4. See step 3
  5. See step 4
  6. See step 5
  7. See step 6
  8. See step 7
  9. See step 8
  10. See step 9
  11. See step 10
  12. See step 11
  13. See step 12
  14. See step 13
  15. See step 14
  16. See step 15
  17. See step 16
  18. See step 17
  19. See step 18
  20. See step 19
  21. See step 20
  22. See step 21
  23. See step 22
  24. See step 23
  25. See step 24
  26. See step 25
  27. See step 26
  28. See step 27
  29. See step 28
  30. See step 29
  31. See step 30
  32. See step 31
  33. See step 32
  34. See step 33
  35. See step 34
  36. See step 35
  37. See step 36
  38. See step 37
  39. See step 38
  40. See step 39
  41. See step 40
  42. See step 41
  43. See step 42
  44. See step 43
  45. See step 44
  46. See step 45
  47. See step 46
  48. See step 47
  49. See step 48
  50. See step 49
  51. See step 50
  52. See step 51
  53. See step 52
  54. See step 53
  55. See step 54
  56. See step 55
  57. See step 56
  58. See step 57
  59. See step 58
  60. See step 59
  61. See step 60
  62. See step 61
  63. See step 62
  64. See step 63
  65. See step 64
  66. See step 65
  67. See step 66
  68. See step 67
  69. See step 68
  70. See step 69
  71. See step 70
  72. See step 71
  73. See step 72
  74. See step 73
  75. See step 74
  76. See step 75
  77. See step 76
  78. See step 77
  79. See step 78
  80. See step 79
  81. See step 80
  82. See step 81
  83. See step 82
  84. See step 83
  85. See step 84
  86. See step 85
  87. See step 86
  88. See step 87
  89. See step 88
  90. See step 89
  91. See step 90
  92. See step 91
  93. See step 92
  94. See step 93
  95. See step 94
  96. See step 95
  97. See step 96
  98. See step 97
  99. See step 98
  100. See step 99
  101. See step 100
  102. See step 101
  103. See step 102
  104. See step 103
  105. See step 104
  106. See step 105
  107. See step 106
  108. See step 107
  109. See step 108
  110. See step 109
  111. See step 110
  112. See step 111
  113. See step 112
  114. See step 113
  115. See step 114
  116. See step 115
  117. See step 116
  118. See step 117
  119. See step 118
  120. See step 119
  121. See step 120
  122. See step 121
  123. See step 122
  124. See step 123
  125. See step 124
  126. See step 125
  127. See step 126
  128. See step 127
  129. See step 128
  130. See step 129
  131. See step 130
  132. See step 131
  133. See step 132
  134. See step 133
  135. See step 134
  136. See step 135
  137. See step 136
  138. See step 137
  139. See step 138
  140. See step 139
  141. See step 140
  142. See step 141
  143. See step 142
  144. See step 143
  145. See step 144
  146. See step 145
  147. See step 146
  148. See step 147
  149. See step 148
  150. See step 149
  151. See step 150
  152. See step 151
  153. See step 152
  154. See step 153
  155. See step 154
  156. See step 155
  157. See step 156
  158. See step 157
  159. See step 158
  160. See step 159
  161. See step 160
  162. See step 161
  163. See step 162
  164. See step 163
  165. See step 164
  166. See step 165
  167. See step 166
  168. See step 167
  169. See step 168
  170. See step 169
  171. See step 170
  172. See step 171
  173. See step 172
  174. See step 173
  175. See step 174
  176. See step 175
  177. See step 176
  178. See step 177
  179. See step 178
  180. See step 179
  181. See step 180
  182. See step 181
  183. See step 182
  184. See step 183
  185. See step 184
  186. See step 185
  187. See step 186
  188. See step 187
  189. See step 188
  190. See step 189
  191. See step 190
  192. See step 191
  193. See step 192
  194. See step 193
  195. See step 194
  196. See step 195
  197. See step 196
  198. See step 197
  199. See step 198
  200. See step 199
  201. See step 200
  202. See step 201
  203. See step 202
  204. See step 203
  205. See step 204
  206. See step 205
  207. See step 206
  208. See step 207
  209. See step 208
  210. See step 209
  211. See step 210
  212. See step 211
  213. See step 212
  214. Stop looking at lists for guidance on how to be happy, get off the internet, put on some good music, draw or dance or paint or pick up a guitar or otherwise create something, and for fucks sake, don’t compare what you create to things created by others.

4.27.2012

Give That Kid The Ball, Man...

Yesterday, the internet got all up in a tizzy about this story, where two Cialis-commercial stars during their "leading-up-to-the-moment-you-never-know-when-will-strike-and-since-you're-old-and-your-dick-is-broken-you-need-pills" scene right before they ostensibly fuck, got a fly ball and took pictures with it while a crying toddler at his first baseball game went without:









People all over (especially in the comments of the story) were yelling one way or another -- half of the internet said the couple who got the ball are the worst human beings ever, and the other half screamed their heads off about entitlement and teaching children lessons and brats and what-have-you. And now, there's an interview with the parents who are saying they rejected the offer of the ball, and they're trying to teach their son that he doesn't get everything he wants.

Bull. Fucking. SHIT.

None of that matters. The moment that ball ended up in that old man with a limp dick's hands, he should have smiled, cheered, and handed it to the kid. Period, point blank, end of story.

If it was me, the situation would be thus: I'm a grown man at a baseball game. I can go out and buy as many baseballs as I want. I can go to hundreds of games with the money I earn as an adult. Magic and whimsy are things I have to actively search for and make space in my life to enjoy.

That's a little boy at a baseball game. A fly ball lands near me, kid gets the ball. That's how it is for a real man.

Now, if it was Hank Aaron's world record setting home run ball, it'd be a definite choice... I'd be torn. And I can't honestly say that I'd hand that piece of history over to the kid, because I think I'd hand that piece of history over to Hank Aaron to do with what he wants. But anything less than that, you give that kid an experience he'll never forget, no matter how big a fucking brat he is.

That story isn't about the kid. It's about the man. And that man is a limp-dicked shallow fake-tanned selfish rag of a person. He's certainly no man.

And even if that spineless guy couldn't find it in his heart to hand the kid the ball because he wanted his over-plastic-surgeried chick to get it, if that woman had a single ounce of decency, she'd have handed it over to the sad, screaming, upset child. And sure, they say the ball was offered to the kid... But look at the video. They didn't hand it to the kid when it happened. They didn't offer at any point during the first clip. By the end of that clip, the opportunity to be heroes (or, at the very least, not be douchebags) is gone. After that period of time, offering the ball isn't about making a magical moment for a child, it's about saving face.

For every moment I look at the world with wonder and think to myself how magical it is that such grandeur and beauty exists, there are two selfish fucks ready to spill fake tan bronzer all over it and darken things.

***UPDATE***

My friend Heidi just pointed me to this video, where a kid drops a fly ball, another kid gets it, and once he realizes what happened, goes and hands it to the crying boy who dropped it:




THAT IS HOW IT'S DONE, people. That young boy is ten times the man that the Cialis guy is.

4.25.2012

Sins Of The Past (Or, "Those Dicks From High School That Friend You On Facebook")

You know the drill:

  1. Spend your childhood and teenage years in relative isolation, liking things no one understands and taking heaps of shit for it from most, if not all, of the school
  2. Leave school, experience the world, grow as a person, perhaps follow your dreams and do great things you dreamed of doing during those lonely years
  3. Join Facebook
  4. Get "friend" requests from people you remember very clearly not wanting to be your friend back then
  5. Stare at the screen.
  6. Bite lip.
  7. Growl.

8. And then you

Some people begrudgingly "friend" the person, trying to be the bigger person. Some people deny the request with an earnest "fuck you" and a celebratory shot of whatever beverage is right in front of them (if you're reading my writing, it's likely caffeinated and has a name like JOLT or BAWLS or RED BULL because I tend to cater to people just like me, and that's the kind of stuff I drink. All. Day. Long.) .

This isn't really about the choice you make. It's an exploration about that moment right before you make the choice.

Here's the thing: kids are terrible little organisms. They're awful to each other. But they're kids. I'll admit, It's really, really hard sometimes to see a face from high school on Facebook and not go "You know, fuck you, you were AWFUL to me and the only reason you didn't bully my friends is because you knew I'd bash you. You don't know me anymore. Go change oil or mow lawns or whatever it is you do now and fuck off."

But there's the rub: they don't know me (well, outside of the stuff I put out there for people to read and watch and such), but I don't know them, either. If they're anything like me at all, they've changed, too. I've grown to the point where I have the courage to try new things and put my projects out in the world, despite hearing my entire life that they're pipe dreams (at best -- sometimes, I heard that they were stupid ideas that would never work). I grew strong. I didn't let what I heard all day long define me. How do I know they haven't grown in similar ways?

That's not to say that I have to give every single person who laughed at me in school a chance to make recompense. The truth is, I don't want to. The memories were hard enough to get past, I don't feel like I owe anyone the pain it causes to go digging them back up by involving myself with them. But more times than not,  they're just as resentful of how they were -- if they're actually grown up. And it's really unfair to castigate them for being immature when they were, in fact, immature.

That's what immature means. We weren't mature. We were kids and teenagers. We behaved accordingly.

It's charming to cast ourselves as the heroes in our tales and feel like we were all mature beyond our years, which would make acting like children a choice instead of a behavior innate in the process of growing up. But it's bullshit. You were awkward. They were awkward. Youth is awkward for all of us, and when you shove us all into the same building, pecking orders are going to form. Groups are going to coalesce. Divisions will take place.

We're humans. It's what we do.

That doesn't make it okay, it just explains what happened. Still, with today's advancements in technology and their rapid expansion into the lives of everyone (not just us weirdos, who used to own the internet exclusively), it's something we're going to have to face down. Because here they are, everyone we thought we left behind. They've found us. So we get the chance to stare at our past and decide if we're going to let it define us, whether we like it or not.

How your choice determines if your past controls you is an individual thing. Some people were horrifically treated in school and the decline and blocking of everyone they used to know is absolutely a fine way to treat it. Some folks weren't horrifically treated, but they certainly weren't popular, liked, understood or accepted. And now, they're living their adult lives in relative peace and the last thing they really want is to go back to that time and have to relive, however briefly, the feelings of being alone and isolated and told they don't belong.

I certainly belong to the second group. And the way I've chosen to deal with it is to just allow anyone who reaches out to reach out, because slapping their hands away is engaging in exactly the same behavior they engaged in when I reached out to them all those years ago. And while I'm not better than anyone, I'm certainly better than that.

Still, there's no fucking way you'll get me to go to a reunion.


4.24.2012

"Do Good."

Sunday night, I posted a story about my interaction with a kid that works out at my gym. He feels like a "weirdo" and has no friends at school. I told him the truth about being weird: it rules. Being weird has given me three distinct careers (web development, author and now world-reknown anime expert). Being weird means you're being yourself amongst a crowd of followers. It's a fantastic thing.

The story exploded across the internet. As I write this, it's been featured on Reddit, Huffington Post, Hacker News and all over Twitter and Facebook. 

I was a bit shocked, but not surprised. It is a story I think that resonates with every single one of us who felt alone and were ostracized in school (or in college, or at the job we work at now). It's a hard thing; this human condition crap. If you don't fit the mold, you're cast out from the herd. And we as animals crave interaction. Sure, we learn to live with a deprivation of it, but at our core, we all long to be understood. 

But honestly, I had no idea it was going to blow up like this. And I'm so very honored that people enjoyed it and wanted to share it. And I have to admit, it's a validation of an idea I started incorporating into this blog (very quietly) in January:

"Do Good."

About a year ago, I joined up with Studio Revolver in Atlanta. I became very close friends with Casey Edwards. Casey is one hell of an interesting guy. His illustration work is AMAZING, he's super bright, and he has the keenest grasp on the human condition of anyone I've ever met. 

Casey doesn't really say "goodbye" when he is departing a place or ending a phone call. Instead, he says "Do Good."

For a while, I thought that it was a very nice sentiment. But then at some point, it started sticking with me past the point I left the conversation. It really started to sink in. I'd find myself thinking about the words themselves when I was interacting with others. I always felt like I was doing good when I interacted with the world at large.

 But it started really ringing in my head. "Do good." I'd find myself snagging floating grocery carts from parking lots and walking them to the front of the store. I pick up random litter. I clean up messes that aren't exactly mine. Just little things. And I'm sure that I did those little things before I met Casey -- like I said, I think I'm a pretty decent guy. But by putting that phrase in my head -- "Do Good" -- it really made the concept stick. 

In January, I made "Do Good" my mission statement for all of my writing. If you go back and read my stuff from 2002 until January, you'll see... Well, at first, you'll see really horrible writing. But for the most part, you'll see attempt after attempt to make people laugh. There are a few bits in my books and throughout this blog where you can see sentiment seep in. And people have been relating to my weirdness through my strange stories and blog posts since I started.

But in January, I shifted the lens a bit and really focused on doing good. I started writing about matters of the human condition that I experience, hoping that people can take them and relate to them and know that things get better; that they're not alone (I summarized some of that in this post about why I write -- it's sappy, so get ready for that if you choose to read it). 

I think that I would have had the same talk with the same boy in the same situation even if I hadn't taken the "Do Good" mission statement forward, because I'm still the same guy I was. But I do feel those words echo in me whenever I think about things I want to take on and do and say and share. I want the world to know the amazingness of Akira. I want everyone to understand that we are all human at our core, and as such, we're really all very much the same. 

I want young people to know that right now, life sucks because they're living from a very limited set of experiences, under a very stringent set of rules, in a very small cross section of society. I want them to know that they're GOING to get free of it if they want to, and when they do, they're going to be so thankful that they had the experience of sticking with what they love despite being misunderstood (or, worse, hated) for loving it, because it's going to lead them to something amazing. 

And you helped share that yesterday and today. And I thank you very, very much. I hope that sharing the story of Bradley and his weirdness helped you to Do Good by a young person (or adult) you know. I hope it helped me Do Good by you. And at the end of the day, I hope that whatever our interactions may be in life, be they friendship or handshakes at conventions or just you reading what I write here on the blog -- I hope they Do Good in your life, and that you'll in turn Do Good in someone else's. 



4.23.2012

Big Book Announcement Thingy (I'm Mad As Hell And I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore)

I just sent this to my Uber Inner Circle list (the email list that people who buy my crap end up on if they want to be -- do you want to be? look at the bottom of the quoted message for the subscribe link). It sums everything up nicely. The only addition I'll make is on pricing:

Preorder pricing is honored. The price will not increase.

After launch, the paperback book's cover price will have to go up to $21.95 because it's nearly 800 pages (instead of 270ish).

But the ebook price will remain $2.99.

Let me know what you think in the comments.






********


Penguin Is Out Of Their Minds. 
I'm furious (but happy, but furious) and here's why
So here's the deal: Last night (Sunday Apr 22), I saw that my 2nd book was only $1.20 on Amazon. Last time that happened, everyone jumped on it and we "hacked" Amazon's top seller list by making a 3 year old book #2 on the top 25 books. It was CRA-ZAY. So, I facey-tweet+'d it out to everyone, and right now, it's #31 on the bestseller list (if you want to participate, http://tinyurl.com/mibook2 -- here you go :) )

And all along, people have asked me about Kindle editions, and why my books aren't on e-readers. The truth is, it is -- but Penguin, in its infinite wisdom (meaning, price fixing) decided to charge $12.99 for a digital copy that costs them zero dollars and zero cents ($0.00) to distribute.

I fought this. I didn't win. It's still $12.99. So I delisted it with the 2nd book and attached it to the first, out of print book. This hid it for the most part, and kept people from being what I consider to be ripped off.   But today in 2012, e-readers are so much more popular than they were when the book came out. They're even more popular than just a year ago when we played this trick on Amazon the first time.

I don't know what sparked it in me this time, but I'm angry. It pisses me off that people who want my book have to pay such an insane price to have a bunch of 1's and 0's on their e-reader. Now, I can't take down the digital version of the 2nd MI book. I can't do anything about it, actually. That aspect of the contract I signed, i can't touch. And I can't put out my own competing version of that book at a more reasonable price.

So, whatcha gonna do about it, Joe? 
No, seriously, whatcha gonna do?
Funny you should ask. What I've decided to do with your permission: I'm going to turn the 3rd MI book into an "omnibus" edition. I'm going to take the entire first book, the entire 2nd book, and the contents of the entire 3rd book and stick them out there as the "Really Really Mentally Incontinent" book. This will get me around all of the copyright gobbledygook that keeps me from reprinting the first book or releasing my own edition of the 2nd book on Kindle.

The good news -- you've already bought it [if you preordered, that is --Joe]. Even though the pagecount is about to triple, the price you've paid is going to guarantee you a copy of the book, both physically and digitally.

The "eh, not that bad" news -- it may take a tiny bit longer to get this together, but the truth is, it won't take THAT long. Adding the chapters and contents from the first two books is going to increase the overall thickness of the book, which will cause a slight redesign of the cover (since the spine width is part of the design), and it's going to take a bit to format the interior template to accomodate all the new material. But to make all of my writing affordibaly accessible to everyone who wants it, I think it's worth it.

But I want your OK. Please reply to me (if you don't mind) and let me know what you think.




Ok, I'm done now. You can delete this.

Your Pal Joe The Peacock
About this list: you bought or preordered a thingy of mine. I love you for it. That's how you ended up on this list. If you want to leave it, feel free to do so, but you'll miss out on the sharing of secrets and blood rituals. And maybe sometimes stories.

Unsubscribe <> from this list.

Not subscribed? Want to be? You can sign up here.

Send me mail:

Joe The Peacock's Uber VIP List
PO Box 792
LovejoyGA 30257

******

UPDATE 12:37PM:

Some debate has opened up on the Facebook thread about this discussion. I'd like to clarify a few points.

Dorothy Sasser wrote:
I'm gonna instantly become REALLY unpopular here but... I have a friend who works in the publishing industry. and like you, she rants about the pricing models they've chosen to follow. So while she agrees, pricing is out of whack: distributing digital material through commercial venues isn't free. It's not. It's servers, it's bandwidth, it's payment tracking technology, yada, yada, yada. And you know this Joe - ain't NUTHING in life free. So, if it's not worth what they're charging to use their backend, then go the Louis CK route and do it on your own (entirely possible, btw), price it as you see appropriate and reward your readers that way for their devotion. But don't rant about your deals with the behemoths because they charge for their service, or wax on about how to 'screw the man' out of the deal you signed; that's disingenuous.

My reply:
Not to be rude, but being honest, you don't know what you're arguing about. I'm not happy with the pricing on an ebook version of a deal i signed -- they did not tell me what that pricing would be when I signed the deal, only that they were planning on a digital release. Once the deal was signed, I still didn't know what the price was. Only after the book was released did I find out what they were charging ($12.99).

Now, the publisher does a lot for a writer. They edit, they promote, they package, they ship, they buy shelf space (yes, buy), and they send checks. The price they pay the writer is sometimes too low, sometimes fair, and sometimes a shitty "writer" makes a fortune for crap (see: Snooki). But that's all PRINT.

Now, you're right -- it's not FREE to publish a digital version of a print book. The cost to lay out the digital version is... Well, nothing. Unless you fraction out the time spent putting it together for print, which is disingenuous, because the template for print and the template for digital release are pretty much already made and to convert takes seconds.

There IS a cost to send the file to Amazon, and that is the cost of internet to the building. Divide that across how many books they digitally upload per month, and you're looking at a cost of below one penny.

So, yes, it's not free, but it's infinitesimally small. So I just called it "free." At any rate, there's no shipping of physical goods, no shelf space, and no retail outlet. It's a digital file. It costs nearly nothing to distribute. To charge $12.99 for it is fine in a free economy, but I personally think it's robbery, and I won't stand for it.

And to clarify, i'm not "sticking it to the man" -- I'm sticking to my principles. There's a difference, even though sometimes the two do overlap.

Dorothy Sasser's reply:
I know more than you think, Joe. That said, if your complaint w/the publisher is no control over the price of your product, then you need to control the distribution mechanism and not rant about screwing the people you signed up with. Dustin has the right idea. But I can't stand up behind the notion that you're actively looking for ways to screw the people you signed with, because you didn't have a say in the pricing - and unless I'm misinterpreting what you wrote (which is possible), you never did have a say. 
Regardless, I wish you success in book sales. :)
My reply:
I'm not trying to screw anyone. I'd say that, through collusion and price fixing, they're trying to screw everyone. I'm just trying to make something that is already available for free on my website (yes, even the 2nd book material which is printed and published by Penguin) easily distributed to Amazon Kindles and other e-readers. The current gatekeepers charge to high a price, and I have the right to distribute that material in its current parts how I wish, so I'm wishing.

Agree or disagree, Dorothy is brining up some very valid points in the ongoing conversation that is big publishing vs. self publishing. The conversation continues here if you'd like to join (and be nice).

4.22.2012

"That's Why You Don't Have Any Friends."

Yesterday, I was at the gym.

...Don't worry. This isn't a gym story. This is a story about a boy who needed to hear something important. But it happened at the gym. So that's why I started with the bit about being in the gym. If you were hoping for a gym story... Well, you could call this one if you really wanted to. And if you hate gym stories, you don't have to worry, the ones calling it a gym story are just really desperate for a gym story.

Anyway, I was at the PLACE THE STORY HAPPENED WHICH WAS THE GYM. And I was working out, as I am usually doing while I'm at the gym. And as happens over the years spent going to the same gym, relationships form and people get to know each other, and groups form and jokes are shared and camaraderie takes place. And it was the same this day.

I was talking with a group of folks who are regularly in during the afternoons on Saturday. Among them was a 14 year old boy named Bradley (not his real name). He's a great kid. He's been coming to the gym with his parents for the past two or so years. While his parents walk around the track upstairs, he spends his time learning how to lift weights with us big guys. When he first started, he was wiry and awkward. He's still pretty awkward; being a teenager and all. But us big guys, we set him on a good path to maintain a healthy level of fitness.

We were cutting up and laughing. The guys made fun of me for liking hockey. "That's a Canadian sport, isn't it?" one asked. "What are you, part Canadian?"

"Only the part that likes real sports," I replied. "And maple syrup."

"I still don't get why you don't like college football," another asked. "You're in Georgia. SEC is bigger than NFL here."

"What can I say?" I asked. "Southerners like their little league sports. I prefer watching pros."

And so it goes, about the same way every Saturday. The topics change -- what cars are best, what sports are better than other sports, what teams are better than other teams, what shows are better than other shows (but never politics or religion -- something you learn really fast in a gym is to never bring up the two topics most likely to incite violence in a building filled with metal bars and heavy plates). Someone has a divergent interest, everyone else jumps on it, and laughs are had. And invariably, the topic turns to girls.

Husbands laugh about the young singles and their stories about weekend endeavors. Singles laugh at the guys stuck at home with their ball and chain. Whispers are shared about which girls in the gym are hot; warnings are issued by the more experienced about the dangers of dating people from your gym or your job (short version: it doesn't matter how hot the guy or girl is, it's stupid. Unless marriage is assured, don't do it.)

One of the guys asked Bradley if he had a girlfriend. If there were dirt on the gym floor, he'd have been kicking it.

"Nah, no girlfriend," he replied.

"Young strapping lad like you? Nonsense," I said, knowing fully well that not only did he not have a girlfriend, he'd have absolutely no clue what to do with one if he did. Because I was him once. But as a grown up looking out for a younger kid, you have to act like it's completely ridiculous that girls don't flock to him. It's the right thing to do.

"I asked a girl out to the spring dance," he said. He then said something that hit me hard. "She called me lame and said, 'That's why you don't have any friends. Because you're weird.'"

The words rang in my head. Those exact words -- I remember hearing them. A lot. He didn't explain why she thought he was weird. He didn't have to. I knew the feeling very, very well.

"Come on now," one of the guys said. "Don't let her get to you." 

"No, she's right," he said. "I don't have any friends. Not at school, anyway." His face got really sad. "I really am weird." 

I was weird, back before I realized I wasn't. And it resulted in some extremely lonely times in my young life. My entire elementary and junior high school tenure was spent with no friends. In tenth grade, I found my tiny group of four friends (you can read about some of our little adventures in this story, which is to date the only thing I've written that came out exactly how I wanted it to, and that I am proud of). 

I dated the wrong girl (they're all the wrong girl, until you find the right one). The four of us fractured into two groups of two -- Mike and I split off from Walter and Rod (not his real name, by the way -- Rod was the name I gave Jay Naylor, who is actually a very famous furry cartoonist. Yup: not only did I go to high school with a furry, he was one of my best friends. That in and of itself is a long and crazy story I'll tell one day, but not today. Today I'm telling a not-gym story). 

Then one day, Mike got tired of my bullshit and said those words to me. "That's why you don't have any friends," he said at very high volume. He deserved to say it -- I'd just told him to go fuck himself when he tried to explain why my girlfriend at the time was screwing someone behind my back. I called him every name in the book. So he bailed and joined up with Walter and Jay, while I spent the last few weeks of my high school career alone. Even the furry had more friends than I did.

And now, 17 years later, life is fantastic. I belong to a studio full of amazing people who were all weird, just like me. I get to meet freaks from across the nation who all love anime and comics, just like me. I get to talk to people who read my weird stories about my weird life and relate to it, because just like me, they're weird.

There's thousands -- no, hundreds of thousands -- of us. All weird. All strange. All over, everywhere.

We all went to school and hated everyone because they didn't understand us. We dealt with the bullying and the isolation and the feeling that we were the weird ones. You want to know what's weird? Spending hundreds of dollars on clothes and shoes and purses that everyone else thinks is cool. Spending hours of your life doing things that everyone else is doing because it's cool. Liking the bands that everyone else likes because you're a loser if you don't.

You want to know what's weird? Hiding who you are just to have the company of people you don't even like. That's weird.

I looked him straight in the eye. My normally grinning mouth turned stern. With as serious a tone as I could muster, I said "Listen to me, okay? What I'm about to say is something I want you to take in and think about and really hold on to."

He nodded. "Okay, he said."

"This isn't just conversation, this is important," I said. "You listening?"

He nodded again. "I'm listening," he replied with a look that convinced me that he was.

I took a deep breath. "Right now, you're in high school in a small suburban town," I started.

He nodded.

"Everyone you know looks the same and acts the same," I explained. "They may dress differently from each other or belong to different crowds, but they're all the same. Hipsters, brainiacs, jocks, so-called 'geeks' -- they're all so caught up with not being left out that they're changing who they are to fit in with whoever it is that will accept them.

"When you show up and you're not like that, it scares them," I continued. "They don't know what to do with you, because they have no idea what it's like to think for themselves. So they try to make YOU feel like the loser, because there's more of them doing what they're doing than there are of you. In such a small group of small minds, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

"To them, you are weird," I said. "But weird is good. No, screw that -- weird is great! Being weird to someone just proves that you are being you, which is the most important thing you can ever be. There's nothing wrong with you. There's something wrong with them. They can't understand what it's like to be themselves, much less what it's like to be you."

He smiled a little. "You really think that?" he asked.

I laughed. "Dude, look at me!" I said. "I'm 300 pounds of ex-football player covered in cartoon and comic book tattoos, who builds websites and tours the world talking to people about his anime cel collection. Trust me, I know all about being weird."

He shrugged and said "It just sucks, you know?"

"Oh, I know," I said with a smile. "And here's the little bit of bad news -- It's gonna suck for a little while longer. But one day, you'll get out of school and go somewhere besides the small town you're in and you're going to discover that there are groups of people just like you -- not that they do what you do or act how you act, but that they refused to change who they are to fit in, and that makes them just like you. And when you find them, you're finally going to feel at home.

"It might be college, or it might be visiting another city. Hell, it might even be on the internet. But at some point you're going to find them. And it's going to be great."

He smiled. "That would be awesome," he said.

"It WILL be awesome!" I replied. "But until then, it's going to be lonely and frustrating. You're going to do stupid things thinking it's going to impress them or change their opinion of you, and it won't, and you're going to get sad. Just know that it does end. It ends the day you realize that you never wanted to be them in the first place, because they are losers. They lost the battle to be themselves. You're the winner."

I paused for a second, because it had just occurred to me that, at some point during my little motivational speech, his parents had walked up and were waiting a short distance behind him. I presumed it was to give him enough space to let the conversation be his own, but I knew they had heard me, because when I looked at them, they both nodded and smiled.

So I put the cap on the whole thing. "And I know your parents are right there, but I'm going to say it anyway: Fuck. Them."

I kept my eyes on him, but could see just behind him that his mom reacted a little to my vulgarity. His dad placed his hand on her shoulder and just let it be.

The guys in the group all nodded and agreed with me, and began talking to him about their perspectives on the situation (which, in previous conversations over the years, I knew to be similar to mine). His parents came up to me and thanked me for talking to him.

"He just thinks the world of you guys," his mom said. "He talks about coming here all the time to work out with you."

"He really needed to hear that," his dad said. "We try to tell him that high school is just that way, but you know how it is..."

"No teenager wants to listen to his parents," I said. "Hell, I'm an adult and I still don't."

They both laughed.

"He's a great kid," I said. "He's going to be just fine in a few years."

"Well, thank you," the dad said. "It means a lot."

"Hey," I said with a shrug, "That's what we're here for. We're his friends."



****************
Hey, by the way: my 2nd book is on sale at Amazon again for $1.28! Remember last time it was that low? You guys made it #2 on the Amazon best-seller list, and it blew peoples' minds! Want to do it again? If not, no biggie, but it's a great opportunity to fuck with the system (again) :) 

4.17.2012

The Origin And History Of Iced Coffee

You know, it's strange. Even Wikipedia doesn't know the origin and history of iced coffee. But I do.

One day, there were two very bored extremely rich marketing executives sitting in an office, spinning around in their chairs and throwing thousand-dollar pens into the ceiling to see if they'd stick.

"What do you want to do today?" said one.

"I dunno, man," said the other.

Now, these two guys have been friends since grade school. In second grade, they both went to the principle's office for taping a "kick me" sign on the teacher. In sixth grade, they were put in detention for selling "pool passes" to a pool that didn't exist for, as it just so happened, the exact amount that lunch cost. In eighth grade, they were suspended from school for selling candy from their lockers between classes for an extreme markup, and again in tenth grade for selling porn the same way.

And now, they're sitting in a corner office on the 47th floor of a Madison Ave. marketing agency, bored out of their minds.

One sighed.

"Yeah," the other said. "I think I'm out of ideas."

"It's hard, man," the first said. "We've already gotten morons the world over to buy stuff that is absolutely asinine and made them convince themselves it's 'cool' -- Uggs, Crocs, capri pants..."

"We put glittery Victoria's Secret angel wings on the back of t-shirts and convinced small-dicked rednecks that it means they're MMA fighters--"

"That was GENIUS, my friend," the other said.

"Thank you," the first replied, taking a slight bow in his chair.

The two sat silent for a moment. All that could be heard was the sound of a light rapping of knuckles on the mahogany desk between them. With a sigh, the first one reached out and grabbed his coffee mug. He lifted it to his mouth and took a sip -- "UGH..." he said, squinting hard and gagging.

"Let it sit too long again?" said the second.

"Yeah," the first said. "Foul."

Suddenly, the second one sat bolt upright in his chair and said "Wait! I got it!"

"What?" the first asked.

"That!" the second exclaimed.

"...What?!?" the first queried.

The second placed his left elbow on the desk with his chin adopt his fist, and placed his right index finger in the air. With a slow tilt of the wrist, he pointed at the cold coffee mug. "That," he said lowly. "Right there."

"Cold coffee?" asked the first.

The second nodded with a grin. "We're going to convince an entire country not only to buy cold coffee, but that they actually think it tastes good."

"...You're serious?" asked the first. "We're going take an extremely bitter beverage, which only tastes good when it's hot and tastes like dog piss mixed with battery acid when it's cold, and convince people it's a good idea to drink it?"

"Not only that," the second said, "We're going to charge them four bucks a glass."

The first scratched his temple. "They'll look like fucking idiots," he said. "I LOVE it."

A few years later, they bought a small country with their earnings solely from selling people the single dumbest thing they could ever put in their mouths. And that, my friends, is how iced coffee was made.

4.14.2012

The Thing About Blunt Honesty

People love vitriolic opinions that are black or white. Most, if not all, humor is built on it. And the more blunt the delivery device, the more people like to cheer it on as it's being swung about.

Until it's swung at them. Then, suddenly, they realize they're a little more grey than they thought they were. And suddenly, there's rebuttal and stammering, and then anger, and then eventually silence. They feel that a line has been crossed.

The truth is, there is no such thing as "the line." There's only "the lines close to you." And so long as the ones close to you are left alone, you're all about some harsh truth being told like it is. Once your lines are crossed, you're no longer a spectator, you're a participant. Shit gets real.

And now, everyone else is spectating, and you're the one they're watching in the epic battle of black vs. white.

There are two types of people who see things in black and white: the stupid and the curious. The stupid use extremes to define themselves because they're incapable of actual thought. The curious use extremes to find out where everyone else stands when they don't realize they're making a stand.


4.13.2012

Some Thoughts On Smoking


  • I don't hate smokers. Just because you smoke doesn't mean I hate you. Two of my best friends in the world smoke cigarettes. But all of what I think, I think about them as well, and they're aware of it. They still love me anyway. After all, I've got my vices too. For instance, I am an asshole who has a big mouth. But I would never shove a stick filled with tar and cancer into it and light it on fire.
  • Smoking is the hallmark of a selfish, self-destructive person. I see someone smoking, and I automatically assume they care neither about themselves or the people around them. I know that deep down, they hate themselves and want to die. I find it sad, but my disgust outweighs my pity. 
  • Cigarette butts thrown from car windows are the leading cause of forest fires and, thus, fire related deaths in the world. So thanks for that.
  • Why does anyone start smoking? They stink. They turn your fingers and teeth yellow. The smoke infects clothing and hair and smells horrible. It generates waste (which, I know, YOU would never just toss on the ground, but somehow thousands of cigarette butts litter the ground just about everywhere you go), it causes cancer and emphysema, and it looks stupid.
  • If you begin smoking over the age of 21, you're a fucking idiot, or somewhere deep inside you, you want to punish yourself or die. There's too much information pushed out into the public for an adult to be ignorant of the effects.
  • If I ever have children, I'd much rather find weed in their room than a pack of cigarettes. Legality of a vice is irrelevant to me, it's what it does to you, and the facts prove that marijuana is far less harmful to the body than tobacco.
  • More than once, I've seen someone in a drive thru or parking lot toss a cigarette butt out their car window, gotten out of my car, picked it up, knocked on their window, and said "You dropped this" and handed it back to them. Because that shit is fucked up. The world is not your ashtray.
  • For the record, I'd much rather you dip or chew tobacco. At least your spittle doesn't automatically enter my mouth every time you expel it. If you find chewers' and dippers' spitting disgusting, you should see what it looks like when the lung cancer of a non-smoker who lives with a smoker finally eats away at the outer tissue. THAT is disgusting. 
  • If you are a parent who smokes in the house with small children present, fuck you. Seriously. You are a child abuser and a selfish piece of shit.
  • "Smoker's rights" are bullshit. You're choosing to engage in a behavior. That behavior has consequences. You never hear anything about "BDSM Rights" or "Gamer's Rights".  When I worked at jobs that offered smoke breaks, not one offered me a "video game break" to run down to the arcade for 15 minutes every hour to engage in my vice.
  • Smoking in enclosed public places is the most bullshit of the bullshit that is "Smoker's Rights." You're bringing out into an unknown public a dangerous and disgusting haze that is produced by your selfish habit. Sure, I have a choice to go there or not. If it's a place called "Jim's cigar bar" then I'm not going to go there. If it's a place called "Chili's" there's no implied awareness that there will be smokers. You can go the fuck outside.
  • I'd much rather hang around loud, obnoxious drunk people than smokers.  At least the noxious byproduct of their vice is merely annoying behavior. I don't have to breathe in hazardous vapors when they scream "Freebird!" for no good reason.
  • Courteous smokers -- thank you for being courteous. You go outside to smoke. That's great. But you still release your tar-filled smoke into the air and contribute to pollution. Your fiberglass filtered butts don't bio-degrade in landfills. You still hate yourself and secretly want to die, and you smell bad most of the time. But that's your own business. I just want you to know. 



4.11.2012

Wil Wheaton Just Tried To Kill Me With An Off-Road Skateboard

This JUST happened, and is undoubtedly the most ridiculous thing to happen to me in a long while.

I'm crashing on the couch at my friend Drew's place while visiting Fark.com HQ. Now, I don't do well when sleeping in a place that's not my home, in my bed, with my wife and my cats and my fan and the sounds and shadows and environment I've grown accustomed to. I find it hard to sleep. I'll sometimes wake up during the night and freak out a little when I lay there with my eyes open, trying to figure out where I am and why it looks so different.

Because of all the traveling I've done the past few years, this isn't as long a process as it once was -- but it still happens. In hotel rooms, I can almost always recognize the fact that I'm in a safe place immediately, because almost all hotel rooms look the same with the lights out. But when at a friend's place, all of the silhouettes are different. The ambient sound in the air is different. It's more disorienting.

I crashed early this evening. I didn't sleep at all yesterday, and it caught up with me. So I hit the couch, put on my headphones (which have also helped me deal with the "Where the HELL am I?!?" moments when I wake up in the middle of the night. When I hear my music and feel my headphones on my head, I calm down because I know I'm traveling and in a safe place -- because I'm sleeping with headphones instead of, say, a baseball bat), and dropped right the fuck out.

I dreamt that a friend of mine invited me out to a city called Pasa Verde, California (not sure if that's a real place) for a skateboarding competition hosted by a magazine called TrickStyle Shredding (which I'm pretty sure isn't a real magazine, but oh my God, if you could see how it was laid out in my dream, I so would read it -- despite being named like it was some Swedish alt-mag trying to be all "Look at the cool American styles of the Board Skating! Let's carving the ramplifts with fast speed!"). For some reason, I was to be a guest judge. And I had to be there, because -- as happens in dreams, I suddenly knew that I was being evaluated to write for them about the effects of internet culture on skating.

And as also happens during dreams, things sort of morphed from being a dream about judging a skate ramp/trick competition to suddenly being a referee during a "SkaterCross" event. This event was basically a rally event across mountain bike trails on off-road skateboards, which feature huge engines on the back and gigantic mud tires with suspension, which the rider strapped into. But he didn't control it -- a second person, the driver, controlled the board via radio control. The rider was merely the gyroscope for tricks as the board got air.

...I know, right?!? That IS kinda badass, and I'd so watch a show full of that on ESPN 4.

During the race, one of the competitors was injured, and because I had been refereeing, I had become familiar with the course. So as happens in dreams, it made perfect sense that I step in and compete in his place. And of course, with dream-rules, my friend who invited me couldn't step in and ref in my place because that would be unfair - he wouldn't be impartial, so it had to be someone who hated me (because hating me wouldn't make them impartial? I don't know, it's a dream, nothing makes sense in dreams, except while in the dream).

So my brain, for whatever reason, suddenly introduced Wil Wheaton, who was wearing this Snidely Whiplash tophat and mustache and cackled menacingly (this is likely because I'm working from Fark.com HQ, which has a fairly heavy Wheaton presence).

I set off. My driver (Jeremy) was doing a great job of keeping the speed up as I weaved through obstacles and zipped through the trails. I was coming up to a dangerous rocky hill that was slick from a kid throwing his sno-cone on the rocks. I radioed Jeremy so he could compensate for the lack of traction by turning on the skateboard's all-wheel drive (holy cow, I seriously want this fucking skateboard in real life now).

But it was SABOTAGED by Wil Whiplash, the evil referee!! And what's more, he paid the kid to throw the sno-cone on the rocks, because that's where he had hidden the tripwires that activated the bolo wrap trap (you know the scene in Return of the Jedi when the Ewok swings the rope with two rocks tied to either end at the Stormtrooper and it wraps around his head and knocks him out? That thing).

I hit the ground hard. The crowd went "ooooh..." I busted open my head. I was ensnared in cabling around my neck and shoulders and couldn't move. And that's when my body jolted awake.

I started panicking. I was sleeping on my belly, so I went to push myself up - but I couldn't move my arms because I was completely wrapped in the extended power cord for my phone, and my headphone cable was wrapped all the way around my neck.

I didn't know what to do, so I rolled to my back, sat up, placed my feet on the floor, stood and yanked with my whole body, which pulled the cord free from the wall. Everything was dark and hazy... My brain was telling me this was because I'd just fallen and cracked open my head and I'd better get to the bathroom across the way and take care of it.

I had to navigate past the couch, a huge support column, and a laundry basket while my arms were pinned to my side (I wasn't tied up tightly in reality, but in the dream I was completely wound up - so in my awakened state my brain told me it was useless to struggle). I stumbled and wobbled, but I got to the bathroom.

I managed to bring my hand up enough to flip on the light. I looked in the mirror. There I stood, wrapped up in headphone and iPhone cables, my phone dangling in tow, with a piece of gum I was chewing when I fell asleep strung from my hair and dangling across my forehead (where the head wound was in my dream). And playing on the headphones was "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys.

So, I'm awake now. And I thought I'd share that with you all. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go photoshop Wil Wheaton in a tophat with a mustache.


4.10.2012

Ah, Consulting...

In a former life (and once again), I consulted for various companies doing various web and digital things. I posted a little about that stuff on this blog back in the day, but for the most part, I kept business stuff in its little business world.

During these days, the RFPs (Requests for Proposals) used to pour into my inbox. And I used to pass off the more ridiculous ones. But occasionally, when something REALLY ridiculous showed up, I'd actually answer them. The hope was to get at least a conference call, but sometimes I'd actually go in and make a pitch.

This happened three times. The first one (a conference call with the former heads of digital at a major news network I consulted for) is documented in the post An Unordered List Of Thoughts I Had During A Conference Call With A Potential Client Today. The second was with the ex-founders of eTour.com, a site that, during it's day, was called ridiculous and frivolous, but today would probably do very well, if Google hadn't started including previews of every search return + the "I'm feeling lucky" button already. They came up with a genius idea that was quite novel at the time: A search engine that something something whatever come the fuck on, Google was (and is) impenetrable for search, and you're retarded if you think you can beat it.

The third was actually not me trying to take the piss out of a potential client for my own personal entertainment, until I got there. It was akin to another job I had just finished with a MASSIVE media company: an internal social network. It's a great idea, and I led my client to a very successful implementation of it. Very shortly thereafter, the word spread and I was given an invite to do the same thing at another extremely massive hardware company.

I had the conference call. It was very short -- they liked what they already heard, they wanted to get my take on setting one up, and within minutes they scheduled a meeting. I showed up and was met by 7 people -- two C-level folks, several Directors of This and That, and the "Social Media Manager" who -- I'm not kidding -- was 18 years old.

Now, I was 19 when I started working in the corporate world. But my situation was different. First, I knew what the hell I was doing technologically, and second... Well, no. There was only that one difference.

After all the glad-handing and offering of coffee (I always take a client up on their offer of coffee -- the quality of the coffee is an indicator of how well the company is doing. Good coffee = a Kuerig (or similar), or Starbucks in the percolator. Crappy coffee = scrimping on the food budget, the first sign that a company is in deep shit. Their coffee was FANTASTIC, for the record).

For simplicity, I'm going to save listing the various characters involved per-line, but the conversation went like this, almost verbatim:

Client: "What we want… Is a social network that appeals to the employees of [company]. Something like Facebook meets LinkedIn."

Me: "Right. I just implemented a system like this for [former client]."

Client: "Oh, we are definitely aware. One of our board members plays golf with one of the board members of [client] and they were very impressed."

Me: "I'm flattered."

Client: "Tell us, what features does their internal social network have?"

Me: "Well, obviously the details are under NDA, but generally, it's literally a Facebook, but on an intranet. It unifies multiple international offices in a way that allows the internal resources to share with one another--"

Client: "Share what, exactly?"

Me: "...Well, things like ideas and concepts, office-wide or regional events, personal statuses--"

Client: "Well, we can't have personal status sharing."
I wasn't surprised by this requirement at all -- with my former client, it took a LOT of convincing to get them to understand that by allowing employees to post things freely (so long as they followed the employee handbook), it would actually lead to greater camaraderie and a higher level of productivity overall, and it did -- and I explained this to them. 

Client: "Well, they could be allowed to post general information. But they shouldn't be able to post links to outside websites or personal photos. So we need it to block any links or photos that aren't company-sanctioned. And we don't want them to waste company time socializing; they should only be able to use the system periodically or once a day. They can only post a certain number of messages."

Me: "So what you want is a cork board."

Client: "…No, no, you must not understand."

They went on to re-explain the above, adding that they also want the ability to approve every single post. This is a company of over 100,000 employees. If -- IF -- any employee actually used it at all, it would take a month to sort through a week's worth of messages. And, it should be unique to each office -- no sharing between regional offices.

Me: "Alright, so you want a place to put notices -- all business-related, of course -- that employees can view during breaks, and can be monitored at all times by management?"

Client: "Exactly!"

I had absolutely no intention of building that. Not only would no one use it, it would be scrutinized to hell and back. I also had no real interest in working with this company. So I fired up the Self Entertainment Engine.

Me: "Understood. I can build it."

Client: "Fantastic! How much would something like this cost?"

Me: "Exactly Two hundred forty thousand, one hundred and twenty-four dollars ($240,124)."

[After some deliberation and looks shared] Client: "Seriously?"

Me: "Yes, seriously."

Client: "That's actually quite reasonable."

Me: "I agree. I'm a reasonable guy. May I ask, what is your budget?"

Client: "Well, we don't want to show all of our cards, you understand..."

Me: "I understand. I've already quoted a figure; exactly $240,124. So I'm not going to just change it out from under you."

Client: "Well, we expected something on the order of half a million."

Me: "Oh, no. That's highway robbery. I will do it for less than a quarter million, no problem. $240,124 to be precise."

[One of the C-level guys speaks up] Client: "$240,124?"

Me: "Right."

Client: "May I ask, what's with the $124?"

Me: "Supplies."

Client: "Supplies?"

Me: "Supplies."

[Strange looks appear on faces] Client: "...What kind of supplies?"

Me: "Cork."

Client: "...Cork?"

Me: "Yes, sheets of cork. And push-pins. Oh, and adhesive."

[Stranger looks appear on faces] Client: "...What is that for?"

Me: "Your social network."

Client: "I don't understand... How does that apply to building our internal social network?"

Me: "You asked for a 'social network' that exists per-office, with heavy moderation, constant monitoring and company-only business, that employees can only use during breaks. I'm going to cover the largest wall of each of your offices with cork."

Client: "...What?!?"

Me: "Well, you don't want pin holes in the drywall, do you?"

Client: "You can't be serious."

Me: "Of course I'm serious. That's why I am charging you the other two hundred and forty grand."

Client: "..."

Me: "I gotta fly to all your offices That's gonna get costly."

Client: "..."

Me: "Fortunately, with migrant labor, actually putting up the cork won't take much at all."

[angered] Client: "Are you having fun?"

Me: "No. I've wasted my time. Wasting my time isn't fun at all."

Client: "Wasted YOUR time? You think that cracking jokes about gluing cork to our office walls is a good use of our time?"

Me: "Not even slightly. Neither is building your version of this supposed 'social network' -- no one in your company will use it and you'll be throwing your money away."

Client: "Well, I think we've heard enough--"

Me: "Wait."

[A long, awkward pause] Client: "Yes?!?"

Me: "For an extra three thousand, I can upgrade you to Dry Erase paint and markers."

And that was the end of the meeting. And if you're wondering if this really happened... You haven't been reading me enough. I recommend starting at the beginning of this blog and working your way forward until you're convinced.

4.06.2012

OverDraw Something

A Blog Post About A Blog. META!

A lot of people have enjoyed my ridiculous Draw Something works of "art". So, I've collected them into their own Tumblr log, OverDraw Something:


If you're interested in keeping up with the latest in vastly overblown poorly rendered scenes that describe simple words via iPhone games, then this is the Tumblr log for you. It's SO you. It's practically made for you. It suits you. It's your new best friend.

Go forth. Like my posts. Reblog them. Follow it, if you're that sort.

4.05.2012

"I Never Said That..."

Ever ask someone why they feel a certain way that they so very obviously feel, and they respond with "I never said that..."? For instance, here is a snippet from a conversation I had this past weekend  (and, unfortunately, have had more times than I can count in my life) with someone I've known for quite a while, who has never once owned up to how he/she/it feels about me:

Me: "You think I'm an asshole, huh?"

Not me: "I never said that..."

To everyone who uses this bullshit copout: Fuck you, you disingenuous assholes. 

You've been called on something. Own up to it. Saying "I never said that..." is tantamount to confession. You're saying, in effect, "I absolutely think that, but because I never physically pronounced the words from the gaping hole in my face, you can't pin it on me."

If you didn't really feel that way, you'd respond by saying "No, I don't." Liars attack the evidence, not the sentiment. For instance, if you interrogate two men for a murder, an innocent party and the guilty one,  and you say "You killed that man," whom would you believe, the one who said "No I didn't!" or the one who said "You can't prove that..."

"I never said that..." Is the "You can't prove that..." of being called on what you're thinking. By saying that, you're not only admitting that you're thinking it, you're admitting you're a coward. Own up to it.