The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Best of The BAD: NYC 101

Another ‘Best of’ this was originally posted this past summer after reading an article in the NYTs about twin blonde-haired sisters trying to “make it” in NYC as college grads.  The article, aside from making me shake with rage, seemed to be sympathetic towards two white chicks living on the UWS, spending their days baking cookies and hanging out in Starbucks waiting for oppertunity to just waltz right in through the front door.

As a former NYer, who literally had to eat cat food off of crackers for sustenance at one point, I thought I’d inject my feelings on the article, which was originally title “Surviving NYC”.  So here it is, rebroadcast for your enjoyment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go give my wife the wake up pipe.

Enjoy.

***

It seems that nothing much in the news or in the world has gotten me very fired up lately.  Boston sports is pretty much a numb limb; an arm lifted high for so long that the blood’s drained out of it, and the body proper can no longer tell what the fingers are doing.  Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have been sniping at each other with the typical deft of an over grown four year old.  A war toils on in a waste land, etc etc etc.

So this morning – Sunday – I was flipping through the Times, when I came across this article.

If you don’t want to wade through three pages of mind numbing and frustrating bullshit, I’ll sum it up for you.  The Barry Twins, Kristie and Katie (aww) have been “struggling” to find long-term work in NYC for the last 18 months, and are starting to get discouraged by their lack of results.

Freshly out of college, the Ohio transplants have degrees in Journalism, which is akin to having a degree in Latin or VCR Repair.  It’s a useless degree in a field that shrinks daily in size like a puddle under the sun.  They aspire to be sports broadcasters, tv talk show hosts, or anything else related in the field.  According to the article they’re “flexible.”

They’ve submitted untold resumes along with freshly baked cookies.  They sit in bars or Starbucks, whining about how ‘tough” getting work in NYC is.

I don’t know where to begin.

I’ve read the article three times now, and each time I get a little more bullshit.  The first time I read through this slapped together feature piece, I thought it was a satire; some fiction to help illustrate the effects of our economy and rising unemployment rates on college kids finally entering the real world.  The Twins share an apartment with their college-attending brother and his artist friend on the Upper West Side to the tune of  nearly 3000 dollars a month.  One of the twins works three nights a week as a bar tender and rakes in 800 bucks.  The other used to bar tend, before getting fired for keeping the music “too loud.”  Now they spend their days browsing job posts on craigslist, sucking down 6 dollar Starbucks coffees, and playing the saxophone on subway platforms not for change, but for business cards.

It’s almost adorable, the naivety.

The second and third times I read through the article, I was just making myself more and more upset and flustered.  I mean, really girls?  You pull in 800 bucks a week, working three nights at a bar, and you’re not even really cute.  You should count your blessings on that alone, where the average 24 year old out-of-towner probably pulls in a fraction of that amount busting his or her ass at three jobs for a total of 60 hours a week.  I should know, because I used to be one of those 24 year olds.

The UWS apartment?  It’s a “cozy, fourth floor walk up.”  I lived in East Bumfuck Queens in a 1000 dollar a month hole in the ground with slits for windows that had a total square footage of a public bathroom, and smelled just as bad.  Starbucks and drinks at the bar?  I ate cat food off of saltines for a period of time, because I had no money.

I actually considered mugging people.

The Twins come up with cutesy ideas to try to get noticed, like sending home-made cookies with resumes, and the aforementioned sax playing for business cards.  Bitches, lesson one about living in NYC:  Cute doesn’t cut it.  NYC is the majors, it’s serious chemistry with all the charm of a dead hooker.  People literally live and die by the decisions they make in that terrible gray piss-soaked metropolis, and you’re sending cookies to HR reps?

Here’s how that’s likely going over:

HR Rep:  Hey, what the fuck are these?  (smells) Cookies?  And what’s this they’re stuck to, a resume?  Huh, not much on here to work with.  Well, I guess I’ll stick these in the break room, maybe someone will eat them.

Girls, don’t whine that in 18 months you’re not getting any bites on that ‘dream job.’  ESPN is not going to come knocking down your door because you’re the next best thing since white bread.  You have to work and earn your place in the pecking order of NYC, you are owed literally nothing.  Yes, you have friends, according to the article, that hook you up in various ways, so utilize that.  It’s called “networking.”  You meet people who know people and you keep adding them to that list.  You don’t sit on your ass all day baking treats and scanning job listings online.  You beat the pavement, you wear second hand clothes and you sure as hell don’t live ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE!

I’m almost willing to bet that they won’t even look for work outside of Manhattan.  I bet they’ve never been to Queens.  They went to Brooklyn to check out a trendy hipster bar, once.  And they probably took a cab.

The comment thread has been 50/50 where people are either supportive of the girls, or bleakly realistic.  A lot of would-be NYers, (like myself) have weighed in with their own experiences, detailing how the city eats people alive.

Again, I did three years, one of which I was pretty much on my own.  I started off by staying at a dorm while I was taking classes near Fordham, then moved into a two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with two other guys I knew from school.  I basically turned the living room into my own room, which sucked because every morning I had to turn it back into a living room again.  When that situation fizzed out about two years later, I got the aforementioned apartment in Queens while picking up work at a generic office building.  I had my own little broom closet sized office and I wore a suit every day to the tune of 11 bucks an hour with no health insurance.

But it all came to an end and I realized I couldn’t do ‘this’ anymore so I packed my shit and went back home.  And here we are today.

I admire these girls for having the balls to at least try, and I don’t necessarily blame them for being so utterly naive.  There’s no class in college that breaks it down for soon-to-be-grads.  No one to stand there and be like “oh hey, by the way, this degree isn’t going to mean jack shit in the real world.  You’re going to be bussing tables til you’re about 29, so try to keep your head up.”

NYC is for self starters and these girls certainly have the potential, however they need to head in the right direction and pay their dues.  There’s doctors and lawyers who have been living in NYC for the better part of twenty years who don’t have an UWS apartment.

My advice to The Twins:  Dye your hair brown, cut out the cutesy self entitled bullshit, stop going to Starbucks (coffee at the diner down the block is like 65 cents, there’s little to no waiting, and you won’t be surrounded by smug assholes.  This is where the real NYC winners tend to gravitate towards.  Starbucks is for tourists and college kids), and start getting guys to buy your drinks for you at bars.  You’re both female; there’s no reason why any woman in New York City should be buying their own drinks, unless she’s an ultra feminist lesbian.

Move to Brooklyn, there’s plenty of nice places for half of what you’re paying in rent, close enough to the city that you’ll be actually forced to take a bus some places.  And for the love of Christ, stop sending out cookies with resumes.

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Burning Down the House

We have a fireplace.

It’s the first place I’ve ever lived in with a fireplace as an adult.  When I was a kid, living in New Hampshire, we had this enormous fireplace where my father threatened to toss my toys into if I didn’t pick up after myself.  I remember many winter nights with a roaring fire, mom and dad on the couch with a drink each, and me on the rug in front of the fire with my plastic green army men that my father would in turn step on the next morning, cursing and pitching each one into the fireplace to meet a melty-end.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve craved a fireplace.  There’s something awesome about a giant flame in your living room that you can watch.  Put on any tv show, any at all, and it won’t compare to a good, well-built fire in your fireplace.  Hell, I can’t even put the tv on and have a fire at the same time.  I think it’s disrespectful to the fire gods.

So last night I had a fire going.  Ang suggested it actually, because it’s been bitterly cold around here lately.  I had some wood and some materials to burn, so fuck it, let’s have a fire.

Ang was in the kitchen making a stew and I started to load up the fireplace.  If you’ve never built a fire in a fireplace, let me break it down for you:  You need to start a base of crumpled newspapers.  Take one sheet of old newspaper and crumple into into a loose ball.  You can’t crumple it into a tight ball because oxygen won’t get inside the material and allow it to burn fully.  Instead you’ll just get little burning balls of material that won’t spread the fire.

So after you’ve crumpled up a dozen or so balls of newspaper you then set up your wood base.  Small pieces of scrap wood work best, because they’ll catch easier than say a whole log.  A log requires a lot of heat to burn through, otherwise the fire will patter out long before the log is fully engulfed and have a chance to provide you with a lasting fire.  Scrap wood will burn quick and through, generating that log heat.

After you get a good small fire going, with lots of red and orange flames, add one log at a time.  A log should be about 12 to 16 inches in length, maybe 4 to 6 inches in diameter.  Wait til the first log catches and add another.  With two logs burning, you should have enough flame to last you about an hour.  Add logs as appropriate, never letting the fire burn down to just embers.

Oh, and an important tip: make sure your flume is open BEFORE you do any of this.

But it wasn’t the flume I forgot to open last night as I started my fire.  It was the materials I was burning.

It’s somewhat bad practice to burn anything other than wood and paper in the fireplace, however I’ve burnt boxes from Xmas and last night a shoe box that was taking up room in my closet.  I had built up my fire with too much material to begin with, starting with that newspaper base and then some chunked up portions of plywood that we had once used to stiffen up our bed when we couldn’t fit the boxspring in our old apartment.  I had used three sections of this chopped up plywood to make a small A-frame in the fireplace, with the paper underneath everything and the shoebox under the two pieces making the “roof” of the A-frame.

Obviously everything caught, and burnt fast.  Before I knew it, flames were licking out of the metal screen and onto the hearth.  Thankfully we don’t have a mantle.

Ang, becoming concerned with the amount of smoke and brightness of the fire took one look at the fireplace and immediately bailed out of the house.  The smoke detector started to go off which led the dog to freak out.  Meanwhile, I started to fill up the smallest fucking measuring cup we own with water to help knock down the flames.

After about five attempts with the measuring cup and a scorched finger later, the materials in the fireplace were soaking in about an inch of water, crackling, pitching embers out of the flume.  I waved the smoke away from the smoke detector and Ang came back in.

If I could see through the smoke, I’m sure I would’ve seen Ang giving me that look that every wife spends hours a day perfecting; that “you know you fucked up, right?” look.

I cleared my throat, eyes burning a bit, finger tip throbbing.  “Uh, I’m gonna go do those dishes…”

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, The Great Indoors | , , | 1 Comment

FNG

FNG (Military Jargon, noun, pronounced Eff-En-Gee): Inexperienced personnel that requires extensive training and supervision; Fucking New Guy, see also: Rookie.

Where I work there’s a high rate of turn over.  People come and people go like the breeze.  Of course, as a product of this, we’re always getting a new guy who is absolutely clueless as to what’s going on.

I come back from being away for pretty much a month to find in my office this kid.  And by “kid” I mean this guy is 18 years old, fresh out of where ever he came from, complete with teenage acne, patchy facial hair and a lack of eye contact.  His stature is smaller than my 120 lb, 5’4″ wife.  My waist line is probably the same as his chest size (32 inches).  He looks lost and confused, stuck behind my desk like a wadded up bad idea that didn’t make it to the trash can.

Jesus.

“Who are you?”  I ask.  He gives me his name, not with a lot of confidence but not exactly whispering it either.  I ask him what the hell he’s doing in my office and he tells me that he was told to come here so I could help train him, make him the man that I am.  I smile, pull my hoodie off from my head to reveal my vacation Mohawk, drop my bag and walk to down to my little room where I change clothes and use the bathroom.

I find out that one of my superiors has passed the buck to me to train this guy.  He, the superior, sugar coats his reasoning to me as I’m standing in front of him with a frothy toothbrush hanging out of my mouth.

“Jim, you’re the best we got in your department.  I don’t have the time to sit down and show this kid the ropes, it’s up to you.  He’s your pet now.”  I’m told.  I reply back that I already have a 50 lb Labrador that thinks it’s a lapdog, I don’t need another.  As he walks away, my superior curtly tells me to “get it done” and not in the ironic Larry the Cable Guy way either.

So I come back to my office and I’m looking at this kid.  He tells me his name and I tell him mine and we go from there.  He has a lot of questions about me (which I sort’ve fend off), about our work (which I try not to be negative about, but I don’t sugar coat it either) and what’s to be expected of him.  To this I tell him:

“Just show up on time, ready to work.  Have a good attitude even in the shittiest of situations, be prepared to take criticism, and learn from your mistakes.”  All generic advice, but advice I should probably learn to take as well.

I was once the ‘new guy’ too, and probably shared this kid’s ridiculous sense of nervousness.  Two months ago this guy was probably busying himself with Xbox and skateboards or whatever it is kids do now-a-days.  Now he’s showing up to work with his first very own real apartment that he’s just realizing that he has to fully furnish.

True story, when I dropped that bit of knowledge on him, he looked like I just hit him in the chest with a baseball bat.

“You mean they don’t furnish the apartments?”  He asked.

“Well, I mean, some they do, but usually not.  I mean, there’s going to be appliances and shit, but-”

“Like a blender?”

“What?”

“You said appliances…”

“Yeah, like a stove and a fridge…”

“Oh.  So like a couch?”

“No, that’s furniture, that’s not an appliance.”

“Oh.”

Wow.

I’m ten years older than this kid, so I can’t talk to you like I grew up in the ‘old days’ but seriously, I was kinda-sorta on my own by his age, living a few states away and getting by just fine.  I didn’t know how the world worked then, and even now I only have half a clue.  The difference between Me Now and Me Then is that now I know where to look for answers to life’s questions, like ‘when can I contribute to my IRA again for 2010’ and ‘How fucking fast does a cheetah run?”

I go to Google.

This kid hasn’t figured that out yet, and it’s up to me to show him.

It’s an amazing amount of responsibility, and it’s not a task I feel like undertaking with my usual blasé approach .  The last time I took a kid under my wing it resulted in him going overseas to fight pirates in the Gulf of Aden.  Do I want to be responsible for telling this kid’s parents that their son got shanked by some opportunistic jihadist with a hatred of corn-fed Americans and a love of sharp knives?  No.  Absolutely not.

That and I don’t want this kid to pick up my bad habits, which I’m sure he will anyway.  I don’t want him to have my sour attitude or my apparent lack of serious maturity.  As another one of my co-workers put it, when they learned I was going to be sitting on this egg of an FNG until he hatched into a productive member of our team: “He’s going to learn all the bad things you do, but hopefully, he’ll learn all the good things you do around here, too.”

It’s just a process that I’m becoming all too familiar with.  It’s a cycle, because likely, in 6 months, this kid will have moved on to bigger and better things, and I’ll be walking into my office to stare at the next little fucker that’s come down the line.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Around The Office, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Smells Like Children | , | Leave a comment

Fat Lil’ Fucker

Lately, I can’t really comment on health and fitness.  The holidays are rough even on the most ultra-religious Nazi fitness fanatic.  Every where you turn there’s home-baked this, chocolate-dipped that.  Hell, just the other night, Ang and I made like 50 M&M cookies to bring into my work (full disclosure, I didn’t know I was supposed to leave some behind, naturally, I got an earful of this all week).

So I haven’t exactly been on my game.  As I was wrapping up work this past week in anticipation of my holiday vacation, I wasn’t really able to get over to the gym as much, if at all.  I feel lethargic and weak.

To help combat this, however, Ang and I have been doing hikes out in Nickerson State Park, with loaded packs on our backs.  These aren’t grueling hikes up the sides of mountains by any means, but at least it’s SOMETHING.

***

So last night I was in the local Shaw’s, getting some quick stuff for a carb-y meal of chicken parm; chicken breasts, angel hair pasta, sauce, the whole bit.  I get to the check out and I’m standing behind this guy and his 12 year old kid.  At first glance this kid looks hypoglycemic, badly stretched skin, yellow in color, eyes are simply dark colored dots poked into the middle of his face.  There’s one of those little dividers between his dad’s groceries and what appears to be the kid’s own purchase:  a small mountain of candy.

I’m not talking about a couple snickers bars and a thing of M&Ms, I’m talking about the hardcore candy, that stuff in the red packaging that’s glistening in sugar: gummy worms, sour patch kids, swedish fish, etc.  The stuff goes for a dollar a pack I believe, and in the end, this kid was buying over 15 dollars worth of the stuff.

In the mix as well, a few packs of gum, you know, because he needs something to do with his mouth between stuffing handfuls of confectionary into it.

I looked at the dad, who was non-pulsed by the scenario.  And that scenario was this:  The kid probably managed to roll off of his fat ass long enough to clean his room, and daddy threw him a Jackson as a reward with the promise that he could spend it on whatever he wanted.  Obviously dad must’ve seen the inevitable purchase of weapons-grade candy, because he was cool as shit about the purchase.

Literally, as soon as he finished paying for a bunch of small groceries (which I would’ve loved to have seen) his kid stepped up and paid for the candy with his own wad of greasy ones.  I must’ve had a horrified look on my face because the cashier glanced at me, then the dad before taking the kid’s money.

I felt like I had to be a responsible adult.  I felt like I had to say something to this father, that he was allowing his kid to kill himself.  To me, this was no worse than allowing your kid to buy a 30 rack of Ice House and pound the whole case down before heading out to school.

How was the father allowing the kid to get this out of control? Where was the authority?  I mean, easily, had it been my little butterball and he started grabbing up bags of candy with his little Vienna Sausage fingers I would’ve slapped that shit out of his hands real quick.

“No!” I would’ve yelled.  “No fucking way, no, if that’s how you’re going to blow your wad, then obviously you don’t deserve this money,” and yoink, there goes his allowance.

The whole scenario was so outrageously irresponsible.  Giving a kid money, allowing him to make a poor purchasing decision with no immediate repercussions, as well as allowing the kid to consume easily 200 times his daily allotment of sugars in one sitting reminded me of how, as a nation don’t deserve a public health option.

How hard would it to have been to be the dad and be like “no, you’re not buying that” or even “ok, you can buy candy, but how about you pick one of those bags and put the rest back.”?

No, instead dad is setting his kid up for failure.  At this rate he’ll be a diabetic by 22, his teeth will have rotted out by 28, he’ll have complications from all his medical issues by 35, and likely be in the grave by 60.  And by the looks of things, this isn’t just a snapshot judgement; the kid probably weighed around 140 and couldn’t have even been in his teens yet.

***

Did I end up saying anything?  No.  I knew that it would just create trouble, an awkwardness in the Shaw’s that would likely get me banned for life.  I kept looking at the dad, the cashier, the kid and then down at my own food in utter disbelief.  At one point my mouth opened to be like “hey…” but I knew I’d be swinging at a bad pitch, so I just clamped it and watched father and son waddle off like two human peanut M&Ms.

As my wife said after I told her the whole story when I got home “James, there’s nothing you can do – you probably would’ve gotten punched out by the dad.  Think of it like this:  That kid will be dead in a few decades, and there will be more air for us to breathe.”

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: Media Over-Hype Edition

Gate Crashers:

By now you’ve heard the story about The Salahis, the eager-to-be-famous gate crashers that seemingly waltzed into President Obama’s first “State Dinner” (quotes are for the fact it wasn’t ‘really’ a State Dinner.  State Dinner’s are characterized as being with other heads of state, and this dinner was attended by India’s Prime Minister, who is the head of India’s Government, but not the head of the country) uninvited.

The obvious twist in the panties comes from the (lack of) security that was breached by two witless faux-celebrity wannabes.  Pictures of the couple appeared shortly after the ceremony on their Facebook page, which begs to ask the question: What is a couple roughly my boss’s age doing with a Facebook page?  Do they stalk their high school-aged kids?

But the real head scratcher in all of this is why people, the media and politicians especially, are getting mad at the Salahis’ and not that government entity called THE SECRET SERVICE?

Since writing this, three Secret Service agents have been placed on administrative leave until findings in the lapse in security can be properly investigated, but law makers, who love a good sturdy soap box to stand on and yell into the hills from, want to place blame on both The Salahis and the president’s Social Events Secretary.

That’s like blaming the bank teller for a robbery when the security guard is fast asleep on his stool.

Hey Washington DC, yeah it’s fucked up that these two spray tanners were able to get inside the holy of holies with little more than a clever anecdote and cleavage, but don’t blame them, and don’t call for the head of some la-di-da department secretary whose sole purpose is to plan meet and greets for Mrs. Obama and the kids.  Blame the people responsible, the guys with the ear pieces, guns and black suits, whose job is to ensure fame seeking whack jobs don’t get pictures with the President and post them all over the goddamn Facebook.

Tiger Woods:

Please leave this poor multi-national bastard alone.

I don’t condone what he’s apparently done; I would never cheat on my super model wife.  Men do stupid things and though I could come up with many reasons on why he probably did what he did, I won’t.  It’s just bad voodoo and an inevitable argument with my wife when she reads this.

But let’s not forget that Tiger is a person.  Up until now he was a very private person who wasn’t the type of celebrity athlete that shows up in the pages of People or US magazine.  He’s a winner and he’s human, fucking A.

He did break the boundaries of privacy when he crashed his SUV into a tree in front of their house, obviously fleeing a psychotic wife wielding one of his golf clubs that probably costs more than my yearly salary.  He brought that shit on himself, but damn, can’t you give him a break?

Stop demonizing him, I ask.  Plenty of celebrity athletes have done dumber shit and we’ve all gone on to pretty much forget about it, unless of course you’re Pete Rose (better luck next year, coach!).  Stop playing it up like Tiger will never be the same guy ever again, or his career will suffer.  Gatorade and fucking Nike have both stated they were going to stick by Tiger no matter what, and AT&T (whom I wasn’t aware sponsored him…) has released a ‘no comment’ comment.

I can see GM pulling out under obvious reasons, though.

Adam Lambert:

If you were like the rest of America, you missed the American Music Awards, the also-ran of musical award shows that places somewhere distant behind the VMAs, Grammys, and Country Music Awards.

Though, if you had passed by while flipping from reruns of ‘The Office’ and that shitty sitcom with that guy from ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’ … you know, the guy, the tall guy?  I think he was a cop?  That guy.  Anyway, if you were like most Americans, you had no idea who Adam Lambert was until the morning after the AMAs.

Adam Lambert was a RUNNER UP in American Idol like, last year.  He’s also come out and said he’s real gay, which is not surprising in the least.  He recently released an album which could easily be confused with a Sheila Eastan LP from 1991.

The controversy started when during the AMA’s, Lambert mocked fellatio with a fellow band mate, who happened to be of the same sex (a dude), while making out with another band mate of the same sex (…also a dude) while tromping around the stage like an awesomely flamboyant peacock.  This got him tossed from the next morning’s Good Morning America appearance, where he was scheduled to sing to school kids on an outside stage, while no one wondered why these kids weren’t in school.

Mr. Lambert likes to claim that he’s being ostracized because he’s gay, and as a gay guy he’s not entitled to performing the same lewd semi-sexual acts that straight musicians are afforded while performing.  He’s quick to point out that many famous acts have been allowed to simulate straight (see also: chick-on-dude) fellatio, but as soon as a gay dude does it, it’s ‘disgusting.’

Elton John is rolling over in his still warm grave….

Adam Lambert, you miss the point: People aren’t outraged that you thrust your crotch into another dude’s face in front of a live audience which was broadcasted into dozens of homes, no, that’s not the controversy.  If you want to flaunt how gay you are, and make it seem like it’s cooler than the next Harold and Kumar movie, that’s fine, because gay people have been doing that shit since the early 1980s.

What we’re really pissed about is your lack of talent.  Dude, you suck.  Your voice sucks, your music sucks, your production sucks, you suck, suck, suck.  The irony that you think people are upset at you for ‘sucking’ is enough to make me pop a stitch.

The next time you tour, please bring along that monotone celestial that sings the Ricky Martin songs.  You know the guy, he’s released two more albums than you?

December 7, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Why Am I Watching This?, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Brush with Grad School

About a week ago, I got bit by some bug of ambition.

I don’t recall exactly where I was or what I was doing, but suddenly it became very clear to me that I wanted to attend grad school.

Way back in the early years of 2006 I graduated college with a BA in Criminal Justice (nearly double minored, by the way…) and since then I’ve been of the mind that it was “good enough” to have just a bachelors.

But honestly, and this isn’t anything you don’t already know, a bachelors isn’t jack shit anymore.  It’s nice to have, but really, who doesn’t have a bachelors in something?

Today’s bachelor’s is yesterdays high school diploma.  It’s sad AND true.

So maybe that’s what I was thinking when I set into motion a desire to do more with my education.

According to US News and World Reports, the percentage of master’s degrees being earned online is roughly 7%, up from 2% just two years ago.  Add to that the fact that I work a steady job that puts me in front of a computer for at least eight hours out of every 50, going the online degree route was an ideal choice for me.

I know what you’re thinking: DeVry or Phoenix or any one of those “cyber universities” is as legit as a doctorate from Mickey D’s U.  I agree.  So my search consisted of actual stone-and-mortar universities that had an online “distance” learning apparatus.

To my surprise, a lot of major colleges are getting into this online gig, because it’s another way to make money.

See, colleges and universities see it like this:  We have a prospective student who’d LOVE to come to our school, can afford it, but lives in Indo-China.  Let’s set it up so he can “attend” classes, earn his degree, and more importantly, still pay us for his education.

It’s simple economics.

I learned early on in my collegiate career that you don’t technically have to attend classes, just as long as you have a course syllabus, get your papers in on time, and show up for the midterm and final.  Being in the classroom for lectures is just bonus.

So I settled on a school that was both prestigious and local: Boston University has an extensive master’s program in Criminal Justice, and since I already hold a degree in that arena it was a natural fit.

What also spurred my decision was that my employer offers Tuition Assistance, which from what I understand is fairly easy to apply for, as a few of my co-workers sing it’s praises with their own online college experiences.

Little did I know, however, what the school wanted in “tuition” and what was being offered for “assistance” were two figures far apart.  BU wanted just over 30 grand to attend their grad school for just under two years.  If you broke it down by semester hour, it was something like 500 bucks per hour.

And I don’t fault BU for those numbers.  Ranked in the top 20 schools by US News and World Reports, their grad school is prestigious stuff.  Just to be able to say you hold a graduate degree from Boston University should open doors like saying “Open Sesame.”

Now on the other hand, my company’s “Tuition Assistance” would only cover me for roughly 4500 dollars A YEAR.  This is a generous amount of money, however it does lend to people setting their sights lower.

I get paid a decent amount of money, which I’m somewhat horrible at budgeting, which in turn is frustrating because I like to consider myself somewhat financially savvy.  My rent gets paid, there’s always food in our house, our cars always have gas, and our pets are always able to get the care they need, should it arise.  However, I’m also still paying off 25 grand in student loans, a 300 dollar a month truck loan, my and my wife’s cell phone service, which I’m sure if we had cheaper phones, wouldn’t be too much of a problem, a growing credit card bill, utilities, food, etc…

I can’t rightfully expect to take on a new loan.

But BU wasn’t having it. They wanted me, and subsequently my money.  They sic’d their attack dog on me, this dude name Andre.  Andre was very excited when I told him my background.

“Whoa, so you already have your bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from John Jay?  That’s a good school, I know them.”  I thought he was blowing smoke up my ass, and maybe after all he was.  No one knows about John Jay except for hardcore CJ types; FBI guys, NYPD brass, etc.  On my old truck I used to have a “John Jay College of Criminal Justice” alumni sticker on the back window.  It would actually get me out of tickets.

“That place though, real ghetto,” and that’s how I knew he knew SOMETHING about the school.  The “campus” if you can call it that, is broken into various buildings, only two when I attended (it’s since expanded into other buildings) one of which was a renovated public high school.  It was pretty gross.

He continued “and right now you’re _____ ________ (my current job) and you used to be a cop for four years?  What was your GPA like when you left John Jay,” and here’s where I thought it would be over for me.  I didn’t try very hard in the end of my collegiate career.  I was going to classes just to sleep in the back of the room with my tattered John Jay ball cap over my eyes.  I never participated in class discussions, I had a bad attitude.  At the time I was working part time for a local Police Department, so I had this feeling that a bunch of civilian MBA holders couldn’t tell me dick about real life police work.

So my grades somewhat suffered.

“Uh, 2-point-something?”  I said.  I figured there’d be a pause and he’d go into the whole “well I’m sure there’s a school out there that’s right for you…” speech, but he didn’t.

“Ok, well we’ll need your transcripts to verify, but yeah dude, you look good to go, we just need you to get this package filled out and we can get the ball rolling.  The only downside is that this all needs to be completed by Dec. 20th.”

Which at the time was about a month away, with Thanksgiving in the way and college finals quickly approaching; If I remembered correctly, most schools wrapped on the semester about 15 days into December, so really, when you looked at it, I had maybe two weeks.

Not a problem.  The hardest part would be to get those letters of recommendation.  BU actually wanted me to get an LOR from an old prof from my old school.  This was going to be problematic.

“Uh, I graduated in ’06.  I wasn’t exactly like, class president or anything,”  Andre understood.

“Just get me something, by any means necessary.”  What the hell did that mean?  Was I being told to just fake an LOR?  I mean, I could, and no one would know….

So I was getting pumped; Andre emailed me all the stuff I needed to get done and by when and I whipped out the ol’ credit card and gave him the non-refundable 70 dollar application fee over the phone, plus another 25 dollar (again, non-refundable) fee to get my official transcript from JJC sent over to him.

I felt like an idiot then, and I still do now.

When I finally told Ang, my wife, all of this, she was less than pleased.  She knows we’re comfortable, but bringing on new debt, a lot of it at that, was something she wasn’t on board for.  We discussed it over the next two days, and I realized she was right, especially after I saw how little the Tuition Assistance was going to be.

What compounded things further was that my company is going to be sending me to a two week training seminar in January that I’ve been dying to go to for the last two years.  The start of this seminar and the start of my online classes was the same week.  So I’d be two weeks behind before I even started.  Not good.

But this doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the idea of getting a graduate degree altogether.  When more time and money free up, I’ll probably re-float my interests.  Maybe I’ll send Andre a nice email asking him to hold my application fee and transcript in a folder someplace, so I can revisit BU in the future.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , | 1 Comment

Ms. Heather Ellis: On Race and Queuing Up

Heather Ellis:  Lemme recap this for you in case you haven’t heard:  Three years ago, this young woman was at a Wal Mart of all places, when she decided to jump from a slower moving check out lane to a faster one, one which her cousin was already in queue.

The results of the incident depend on who you ask.  Local law enforcement, Wal Mart employees, including their paid security officers, and customers all allege that Ms. Ellis shoved her way to the front of the line, pushed people’s items off the conveyor belt, and when confronted, became violently belligerent.

Ms. Ellis states that she did in fact jump lines, but only became offensive when she was shoved by a “white woman” from behind, whom she cut.  Ms. Ellis also claims that people around her, including customers, employees and eventually the police, all used racially sensitive language against her.  She then claims, as she was being escorted from the property, that the local cops roughed her up.

Wanna know what happened?  I’ll tell you what happened, exactly as it happened, because I’ve actually been in this situation before.

This may come across a little racist, however I’ve been around young black women who’ve been put into this scenario; I lived two out of the three years I spent in NYC in Brooklyn, home of the arrogant self-entitled young black woman.

Ms. Ellis, who was with her cousin decided to cut some people who had been waiting in line.  First off, we’re a nation of incredibly selfish and impatient people; white people have especially low tolerances for waiting in line.  We’re too high strung for that shit, we can’t stand it.  So when someone cuts us, we get bullshit real quick.

Cut me in line during the holidays, and see which of your parts I cut in return.

But we’re not quick to confrontation (with the above omitted), especially towards someone of a different race, especially if that race is African American.  This is because African Americans tend to pull the race card any time they’re confronted by white people.

If you think I’m wrong, you’ve never hung around black folk.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.

I was also a cop for a number of years, so I know how people tend to react when they feel threatened by an unruly mob.  I also know how people tend to think the police use inappropriate and excessive force techniques while they’re actively resisting arrest.  I believe this to be the case with Ms. Ellis.

So yeah, Ms. Ellis cuts a bunch of people, and my guess is that she probably moved people’s shit out of the way in doing so.  The woman behind her, this white lady, probably was wrapping up a long bad day, and she wasn’t going to take this shit.  No, getting cut in line at the Wal Mart by some young black lady who didn’t even acknowledge her when she did it, was the last straw.

So she said some shit.

True story:  A girl I had been dating for a long time while living in NYC, she got cut in line at the Metro Card kiosk TWICE by the SAME black girl.  She was trying to get a Metro Card to get on the train so she could come to Maine and visit me.  She had a ton of luggage with her and she was stressed out because she was JUST going to make her train.  So when she got cut for the second time, she said some shit like “next time you cut, why don’t you figure out what the hell you’re supposed to be doing” because the black girl was taking forever and needed assistance from the guy in the booth to operate the machine.

The black girl turned and attacked my girlfriend, leaving a huge gash over her left eye.  No one helped the poor girl, but a lot of people watched that shit go down.  That’s NYC for you.

So yeah, there was a confrontation at the Wal Mart check out line, for sure.

So the white woman confronts the black woman, and attitudes come out.  The white woman, unless she was a hardcore Klansman’s wife, likely didn’t even get racial on Ms. Ellis.  She probably called her a “bitch” or a “stupid fat pig” or something.  But likely, Ms. Ellis heard “Stupid fucking nigger.”

I’m just saying, folks.  Relax.

The cashier, who’s not going to risk getting stabbed in the inevitable knife fight that’s brewing in front of him for his 8 dollar an hour job that provides nothing in the way of health insurance, tries to defuse the situation by telling the offending Ms. Ellis that she cut, and she needs to either leave the store or go to the back of the line.  Feeling ganged up upon, Ms. Ellis starts becoming even more belligerent.

Security gets called.

Now it’s a big fucking scene and everyone’s just trying to get this obnoxious bitch out of the store.  She’s refusing to leave, because she probably spent over an hour in the huge superstore looking for shit.  She demands to pay for her goods.  Security’s like: “No, you need to leave,” and given that it’s hired private security guards with an educational background consisting of a GED, I’m sure they used a few not-so-friendly words, like “fuck” and “bitch.”

Now the situation has gone volcanic.  I’m sure someone behind the white woman leaned into her ear and said “why didn’t you just let her cut you?”

The cops arrive, because things are now out of hand.

Now, again, I was a cop, I know the procedure of dealing with an uncooperative subject that I’m sure Ms. Ellis had already become.  You have what they call a “force continuum” where the level of forces escalate where the situation deems it appropriate.  Seeing that Ms. Ellis was refusing to leave the property and was becoming increasingly erratic, they likely gave her verbal commands to the effect of “ma’am, please leave the store, or we’ll be forced to escort you out by force if necessary.”

By now, the rational part of Ms. Ellis’s brain kicks in, and she understands that she’s about to be arrested.  However, she doesn’t want to loose face.  I’ve seen this situation develop a million times on Flatbush Ave.  If they simply walk away, it appears in the minds of most African Americans that they’ve lost.  The “bigger man” in this case is usually the one who stands his/her ground the longest.  To confirm this, I have an actual quote from a black guy I work with, who backs up my observation.

“Yeah, you can’t back down, you’ll look like a bitch,” said Rog when I called him earlier to comment on this story.

And as a cop, I’ve seen this behavior as well.  The very first foot chase I was ever involved in as a law enforcement officer involved me chasing down this 18 year old black kid who started a fight in our little downtown square.  I chased him for about two blocks, and when we were far enough out from the crowds of downtown, he gave up.

Later on I asked him why he ran- he knew he was going to get caught.  He stated “I had to, people were watching.  I couldn’t just give up there.”

So back to Wal Mart:  Ms. Ellis is slowly backing out of the store, without her things, and still talking a bunch of shit.  The cops are slowly following her outside, making sure she doesn’t come back in.  Likely, she’ll get a warning for trespassing and disorderly conduct, providing she doesn’t get too belligerent.

Once outside, instead of being rational and just getting into her car and leaving, she makes a threat towards one of the officers, which probably went something like “fucking touch me pig, and I’ll kill you,” which unfortunately the cops can’t ignore.  They inform her that she’s now under arrest for disorderly conduct and making criminal threats against a law enforcement officer.  They gotta take her in.

She doesn’t want to go.

The officers go to affect the arrest and naturally, Ms. Ellis puts up a fight.  She swings and connects with one of the officer’s lips, kicks another in the shin.  All parties go to the deck and once restraints are placed on Ms. Ellis, she’s put up against her car or the cruiser and frisked incident to arrest.  She’s then transported to the local PD or booking facility, and processed.

Her claims of police brutality are largely unfounded.  While affecting an arrest, an officer, at his discretion, can use whatever amount of force, including lethal force, warranted in apprehending a subject.

I’m sure Ms. Ellis got a little roughed up, but she also asked for it when her fight or flight condition took over and she decided on the former.

Now, three years later Ms. Ellis reached a plea deal, after stating that she would never take a plea deal because that would be, to her, an admission of guilt.  She was sentenced to take mandatory anger management classes, do a weekend stint in the clink, pay damages, and serve two years of unsupervised probation.

Not a bad deal, considering what she was likely charged with would’ve probably put her in the booty house for 6 months with a host of fines and a longer probationary period complete with monthly check-ins and piss tests.

Let this be a lesson to everyone this holiday season:  rather than wait in line, do your shopping online.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: Your Online Newspaper Sucks.

In this issue of TidBits I focus the topics on various online newspapers, oppose to being all over the road, like I usually am.  Enjoy:

 

Huffington Post: I was first introduced to HuffPo back during the 2008 elections, because they seemed to have a more indepth (and far more liberally slanted) reporting on the campaigns than the New York Times did.  This is because unlike The Times, HuffPo is a fucking tabloid.  A tabloid, not in the sense of layout, but a tabloid in the sense that everything they publish is utter garbage and a glorification of shock-media.

Go to their site and likely on the front page “above the fold” you’ll find some colorful headline, with shocking allegations/implications/ramifications.  I’m sure today, 20NOV09, it’ll be something like “OPRAH QUITS!” or “GOLDMAN SACHS QUITS!” You get the idea.  The only people that should be quitting Huffington Post though are us.  Really, stop reading this trash.

Below that, you’ll likely find a headline involving a mass shooting, police dash board video of a 1oo mph car crash, or kittens.

The only real redeeming aspect of Huffington Post is it’s ‘Entertainment’ section, where on occasion they’ll post NSFW photos of quasi-famous people from European magazines.  If not for this section, I’d never known that Lady GaGa has pancake titties.

That being said, the Entertainment Section is rife with even more shit I don’t care about, to wit: Amy Winehouse BACK in rehab.  Lindsay Lohan looks strung out and too-skinny.  Some European model is doing coke on a yacht in the Mediterranean.  Levi Johnston’s cock is out for everyone to see, etc etc.

The worst crime perpetrated by Huffington Post, by far, is it’s line up of guest bloggers.  It seems that anyone under the sun, myself likely included, can submit their blogs and they’ll run on HuffPo.  A lot of these blogs are maybe 400 words in length, baseless, whiny, complainy, and ultra liberal.  And when you sprinkle into the mix CELEBRITIES, well, hold me down Jethro, let me beat feet over and see what the likes of Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and fucking-a-christ Fitty Cent have to say about topics including and not limited to: The Environment, television, and polar bears.

We all know that if you give a celebrity of any size caliber a mouth piece they will talk non-stop on subjects they know little about.  They will regurgitate talking points garnered at parties and shit they heard on Keith Olberman two nights ago.  They then turn around and fill up space on Huffington Post with the same shit, so that simple-minded office drones (like myself) stuck in front of a computer all day, will read that shit and puke it back up during a conversation with our spouses, co-workers and mistresses.

JUST BECAUSE GEORGE CLOONEY SAID SOMETHING, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S RIGHT!  He’s a handsome man, no doubt, but that doesn’t make him Jesus.

Slate: Slate strikes me as the type of online magazine that only people who want to pretend they care about important shit read.  If you scan over it’s front page there’s a splash of multiple graphic-headlines along with a side bar that represents the latest stories to appear on Slate, called “The Slatest” which is fucking cute.

Scrolling over the tops of the subject columns, you get drop down menus from the latest articles being written in each subject matter.  What really catches my eye are the “explainer” articles, where someone asks a question regarding current events (my favorite so far has been “What makes a gun a ‘cop-killer’ gun?” to which I would’ve simply answered: “It’s ability to function, now go back to pulling the curlers out of your hair, Maud.”).  I like these because it allows me to peer into the psyche of my fellow readers, and see exactly how shallow it can be.

Who gives a rat’s ass about “Which Way is Best for a ‘Twilight’ Vampire to Drink Blood’ or “What Makes a Prison State-of-the-Art?”  I have answers to both:  Through a straw and Rape Whistles, that’s what.

I think my biggest hangup with Slate is it’s over all redundancy.  On their front page alone, I can access the same article five different ways, six if it’s still listed on the “Slatest” side bar.  This only reeks of lack of content, which is why I normally only pump my brakes here once a day.

If it wasn’t for Farhad Manjoo, I would likely take Slate off my bookmarks.

Cape Cod Times: I don’t want to make this personal, I really don’t.  That would hurt my objectivity as well as credibility, but seriously you fucks, that sunrise submission I sent in was TIGHT.  And when you compare it to the other crap that was submitted, it makes me feel like someone down in whatever basement at the CCT has been busy jacking off all over everyone’s mail.

Here’s the back story:  The CCT asked for reader submissions of photos of sunrises and sunsets.  I submitted the following photo:

A few weeks later I checked back and saw that they posted the top 15.  Surely I was going to get SOME mention in the top 15.  That pic I took, with my iphone no less, was sick.

But no.  Out of the 15 they picked, maybe 4 or 5 were better, and after that, maybe 6 total were worth the effort.  The rest, including one taken from someone’s couch out of their picture window, blew King Kong Kock.

Now to the rest of your site – it’s terrible.  I understand you’re the only daily on Cape, but c’mon dude, you guys are fucking terrible.  It’s not like you have any real competition, except for the little dinky local papers, like the Ptown Banner, Barnstable Patriot, etc.  But c’mon, make the effort.

Your stories are half researched at best, and usually filled with speculation from your editorial staff.  You run incomplete articles that virtually amount to nothing, except a huge waste of time.

For instance, for the last month or six weeks, you’ve been running the same story about how some fire lieutenant is in trouble with the town offices in Bourne.  You can’t report why she’s in trouble, or under what circumstances she’s being investigated for, yet you run the story.

It’s fucking gossip dude.

Your Police and Fire Notes are often stuff you guys grab off the scanner.  Shooting here, stabbing there, car accident on 6… big deal, it’s so fucking repetitive that I want to go down to your printing shop and instruct all of you on the phenomenal waste of paper you’re generating.

But hey, my ferrets need ass wipe too, so… keep up the good work.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, Why Am I Reading This? | , , , , , | Leave a comment

TidBits: Coffee, Fantasy Football, and Gun Enthusiasts

TidBits: A new series where I take short, not fully fleshed out ideas and mash them into one article.

These also tend to go all over the road.  Enjoy.

 

On Coffee:

Is it me, or has coffee just gotten bad in the last few years?  It’s harder than hell to find a decent cup of coffee anymore, something that I’d actually savor.

Being that I live in New England, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts every ten feet.  This is problematic because what I used to think was the best cup of coffee going for under two bucks has become this over saturated conglomerate that sells a bunch of wild shit other than coffee and donuts anymore.  I mean, who the hell wants an egg-white pita bread sandwich?

And it’s not even that good for you!  It’s loaded with carbs, calories and sodium!  Look it up!

What also makes things frustrating with having to deal with Dunks is that in the summer every chain is staffed by some kid from Eastern Europe who looks like he should be starting center for the Dallas Mavericks, and in winter by less-than-enthusiastic Jamaicans whose command of the English language leaves much more to be desired.

“Can I get a medium regular, sugar and skim, please?”

“MEEEDEEUM REGGALA, SHOOGAH EH SKEEM!” the woman bellows.  What the fuck did I just order?  And then inexplicably I’m handed a large ice coffee and a pumpkin spice muffin.

Service aside, the coffee is terrible, and not just at the franchises, but the little mom and pop places on Cape as well.

Each one of these “self serve” little coffee places, from Cumberland Farms convenience stores, to actual coffee shops each have their own little blends of “house brewed” coffee, from regular, stand alone coffee to that flavored bullshit.  Each one of these little containers has a time scribbled down on it to indicate how fresh it is, but it won’t matter, they all taste like burnt dick.

That’s because the little pods of coffee, the plastic kind that do double duty as pumps, never get adequately washed out, causing whatever’s being poured out of it to taste like burnt-to-shit, week old sludge.

I don’t consider myself a huge coffee drinker, as I’ve become less dependent on it over the last few years (I drink between three and four cups a week, maybe) but I know the difference between shit and steak, so to say.  And lately, I’ve been drinking a lot of shit.

What makes matters worse, is that our office’s new boss, who just transferred in, likes Maxwell House, and demands that we keep it in stock on our little mess deck.  Maxwell House?  Did I just move back home with my parents?  Ugh, my dog won’t even touch that shit, and she’s the type of animal that gets her jollies from rolling around in a decaying seagull carcass.

On Fantasy Football:

Men need ways to cling to childhood things like the way women need emotional support when out trying on jeans.  And instead of throwing tantrums in shopping malls when you’re taking too long, ladies, we play fantasy sports.

I know what you’re thinking, and let me be clear; we think it’s fucking ridiculous too.  To sit and fret over million dollar athletes, to spend more time researching some 24 year old’s bad toe than with our kid’s special needs teacher, it’s sickening, yeah, but we do it.

We need it.

It’s a form of non-combative combat amongst friends, and it’s exceedingly becoming a pop culture mainstay.  The cable network FX just picked up a sitcom (conceivably a one-joke sitcom) all about grown adult men and their fantasy football league.  Just accept it.

For us it’s like gambling on sports without the threat of blowing the money we set aside for a house, or risking having our thumbs broken by some guy named “Joey Smalls” who may or may not hang out in the backroom of Lucky’s on Jackson Blvd, and is a very nice guy, whom I will be seeing very soon, just as soon as I scratch together that last little bit of cash to cover the vig, sorry.

On Gun Enthusiasts:

On a serious note, you’ve heard of the massacre at Ft. Hood this last week.  It’s a tragedy, and tragedies like this are starting to become all too familiar.  A guy fucking loses his shit, gets desperate and for whatever reason, picks up a gun and starts shooting.

But don’t get confused and think that everyone who owns a gun is potentially going to go off the deep end like Maj. Nadal Hasan did.

I own a number of guns, and I have all my life.  I’ve also been professionally affiliated with them as well.  My firearms training has been watched over by experts my entire life, and it goes without saying that I’m (probably too) comfortable around guns.

This doesn’t make me crazy, people.

But it’s hard to take my word for it, and I understand that.  It seems that whenever I get into a casual discussion about firearms, some people tend to let their body language change and become standoffish.  I can see it in their faces that they think I’m some sort of fucking nut who spends his free time stomping around some wood, clutching a rifle, hunting something for the shear pleasure of watching it bleed to death.

I know this, because I act the same way when other people whom enjoy my enthusiasm tell me the same stories I tell others.

Briefly I worked at an outdoor outfitter in Southern Maine (not LL Bean), which has a very large firearms section; it pretty much takes up half of the second floor.  The people who worked in that section were all obviously firearms enthusiasts.  Some were former military, myself formerly a police officer, and we all would share our stories about our favorite weapons, often getting into good natured debates about our personal favorites and tastes (for instance, I’m a Glock guy).

But then there would be these guys whom you couldn’t take too seriously, because, well, the way they’d talk about their weaponry.  It was like listening to a randy high school kid talk about a much sought after cheerleader.  You had to step back and be like “whoa, ok, easy,” when they got going.

But I can’t blame them, and yeah, I thought they were a little crazy, but I knew it was that gun fever talking.

That’s what being an “Enthusiast” means.  You’re enthusiastic about something, and you tend to let everyone know.  Have you ever met an enthusiast of anything and not have them talk to you at length about their passion?

So don’t lump gun enthusiasts in with guys like Maj. Hasan, or that weird Korean kid who shot up VA Tech, or any other of these whack jobs with a score to settle with society.  Do the math:  America is populated by 300 million people.  If you say even a fraction of that population has the means to obtain a firearm, say 3 million people, only a fraction of that number have gone on to commit a terrible tragedy like the one at Ft. Hood.

I don’t have the exact numbers, but think of it like this:  In the past five years, there have been probably 25 mass shootings that we’ve heard about, and 100s of other horrific murders committed with a firearm during that period.  That’s still only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the total gun-obtaining population.

Don’t let the media hype scare you into thinking every gun owner is some maniac looking to harm you and your family because he got fired from his engineering gig over two years ago.  Try to think of it like this:  If more people carried a firearm on their persons at all times, the people prone to committing mass shootings might A) think twice about it (that guy who shot up that office building in Orlando, maybe?) or B) be stopped as soon as he opened fire (which is likely to have happened at Ft. Hood, but I dare not Monday-Morning that scenario).

Just remember, we’re regular people too.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Living in an Insane Asylum | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dude, Take a Hint…

“A male hawk will defend his nest from any attacker,” -From a show on Animal Planet.

The above statement is true, that male hawks, eagles, most other birds of prey, will defend their nest from attackers, those brave enough to scale 300 ft up a shear cliff face to even attempt to fuck with a falconry in the first place.

I’d like to think that (most) married men are no different than these birds.

I want to start this article and state clearly that I’m by no means critical of my wife’s decision making skills. We all make errors in judgment from time to time, and what defines us is how we “unfuck” ourselves, an old boss of mine once told me.

That being said, my wife seems to attract weirdos as if the circus just pulled into town.

In a previously unpublished article from a few months back I had to get up close and personal with one of these guys; and they’re always guys, because my wife hates other women and never hangs out with them.  But this one guy was harassing the shit out of Ang for a long while, a week or better, about some radar detector he pretty much forced her to hold on to while he took off for a vacation.  The harassment was so thick that in one day he sent her five messages on Facebook, which prompted this discussion:

“I think I’ll go talk to him,” I said as I sat at my desk, upon hearing the report that this guy wasn’t getting the fucking clue from my wife to stop contacting her all day.  We were in the middle of a move (somewhat like we are now, again) and she didn’t have the time to dig through all the packed boxes to find the stupid radar detector, yet it was this other guy’s number one priority.

These guys that my wife inexplicably makes friends with are all older, like 40-something, and super-clingy.  My guess, if I were to venture one, would be that since they’re unmarried, lonely souls who spend their days hanging around coffee shops, they tend to create very strong personal bonds with the people they meet.  And the friendlier that person is, the tighter they seem to cling.

What compounds the situation is that my wife can be very friendly and sociable.  She loves to text and Facebook, Tweets, etc.  By being so open, she allows these Stage 5 Clingers to latch on even stronger, to the point where they start to cross some serious boundaries.

Regarding the guy and the radar detector, I ended up having to go down to the coffee shop, radar detector in hand (we dug it out) and tell him straight up to leave my wife alone.  She’s a married woman, there’s no reason for her to take any harassment from any other man but me, and even then that’s on rare occasions.  The guy got the picture and we haven’t seen him since.

But here we go again:  Boundaries people, respect them.

I won’t go into names, because I have no idea who reads my articles anymore, but know there’s this guy and he’s crossing more protected boarders than a Mexican National who knows how to hang drywall.  He’s constantly texting Ang, always wanting to hang out, and is very clingy to my wife, something that I’ve never been comfortable with ever since I met this guy.

How these two met, I have no idea, probably at the same coffee shop that all this drama seems to take place at.  Again, he’s older and lonely.  What sets him apart though, is the little bits of affection he sprinkles on my wife.  He calls her ‘babe’ (something that not even I’m allowed to do, as Ang hates that particular term of endearment), apparently tells her he loves her (but only in the brother-sister-kinda-way, whatever), etc.

A clear indicator that he’s shown this behavior before is that he’s a Gift Giver.  Gift Givers are people who want to create strong bonds with people, especially people they want to win the approval of (ie a husband), through the act of giving gifts.  When I first met this guy, I off-handedly mentioned that I was looking for a cheap bicycle to start getting into road riding.  Within 48 hours, he was dropping off a vintage road bike at my front door.  Weird.

I was uncomfortable accepting the gift, but since he was dropping it off somewhat unexpectedly (at the time I had JUST gotten home and was making a sandwich when he texted me that he was ‘down the street’) I didn’t want to be rude.  The bike has been sitting in our breezeway since, and I get a little sketched out every time I walk past it.

***

I’ve had a problem with this guy since day one, because as any man who knows the collective Mind of Men, we know that man and woman can never be “just friends.”

Women strictly believe the opposite for some reason, but let me assure you ladies, you can’t.  There’s no fucking way.  Why?  Because men are only “friends” with women “because they haven’t fucked them yet (Chris Rock)”.

For a moment ladies, think about the guys you know as “friends.”  Are they affectionate towards you in some way?  Does there always seem to be some sort of strange sexual tension when you two are alone?  Do you feel his eyes on you when you have your back to him?  And let’s say you’ve slept with one of your guy “friends” does he still hang out with you after the fact?

My guess: probably not.

No, men hang around with women in order to fuck them, simple as that.  It’s hardwired in a man’s DNA to go run around and get as many things pregnant as possible.  This was due to the fact that millions of years ago, Man was no more than a tool-making monkey who in order to survive, needed numbers.  And what better recruitment campaign can there be but fucking your way to a stronger army?

Some of this rationale can also explain the behavior of NBA players.

Regardless, ladies, men are not really your friends.  I’m sorry, but we’re not.  Not until we actually marry one of you that is, which is the biggest sign of friendship there can possibly be: we can tolerate you enough to spend the rest of our lives with you.

***

For the last few weeks I have been trying to get this message across to Ang without sounding like an overprotective dick, which is a fine line to walk.  I’m gone half the week due to my job, so Ang has a lot of alone time (see also: Why We Have So Many Damn Pets), and she often complains that she doesn’t have any real human interaction while I’m gone.  Given this, I’m not about to tell her who she can and can’t pal around with, and what she can and can’t go and do.  She has it hard enough as it is.

She’s also a grown-ass woman.  I would expect her to make decisions befitting as such.  Unfortunately these decisions take a while to be made or require some over-the-line occurrence as a catalyst.

Such an occurrence happened the other day, when this guy and Ang made plans to go to an iron pour, where they take hot molten iron and… pour it on shit to watch it melt.  Ang was stoked to go, and called up another guy friend of hers from her childhood to see if he wanted to come along as well – he lives in the neighborhood where this is going down and like any self respecting man, he readily accepted an invitation to go watch molten iron melt shit.  When that first guy caught wind of this however, he was less than pleased.

Ang asked him straight up if he had a problem with the childhood friend coming along, citing that she believed it was a “group thing.”  Straight up, the guy told her it was a problem, and to paraphrase, said something to the effect of:

“Yeah, I think it’s fucked up that I invite you out someplace, to spend time with you, and you invite some other guy?”

Yo, what the fuck?  To me that sounds like clingy jealously, insecurity, and panic all rolled up into one snippy statement.  So you’re telling me that by my wife inviting a friend she in effect ruined ya’lls date?

Are you trying to fucking date my wife?  Really?

Ang texts me saying that “____ is acting creepy,” to which I think to myself, but don’t respond with, “no shit”.  She tells me about the exchange to which I start to seethe.  I had let this guy toe the boarder of being “slightly eccentric/possibly gay male friend” and “full-on stalker” for too long.  But what do I tell my wife?  I can’t just be like “I don’t want you talking to this guy” because women tend to do the opposite of what they’re told, especially by male authority figures, such as fathers, husbands, serious boyfriends, and if you’ve watched COPS: Mardi Gras Edition, police officers.

So I leave it up to her, but I put some heavily influenced spin on it.  “I think you should put him on time out for a while,” I suggest, followed by “I think I want a word with him.”

Ang complains that I’m going to give the same message job I gave the first guy regarding his radar detector, which I’m not above doing.  She wants to take a non-confrontational approach wherein she just ignores the problem until it goes away.

But problems such as this can’t be ignored.  Think of every crazily-obsessed-stalkerish person you’ve ever encountered personally or in the media and you know they refuse to be ignored.  Something about trying to ignore these types of people tends to bolster their behavior.  “Why are they ignoring me?!” they think to themselves, or say aloud to the voices in their head.

When Ang tried to ignore the Radar Guy, the volume of messages he was sending her jumped exponentially, to the point where I was pretty much forced to intervene.  When John Hinkley, Jr’s letters to Jodi Foster went unanswered, he figured he’d earn her love and attention by putting a few holes in Ronald Regan.  When David Letterman’s stalker had been kicked off his property for the umpteenth time, she knelt down in front of a fucking train.  Paula Abdul’s stalker killed herself in her car just a block down from where the alcoholic karaoke judge lives.

You can’t ignore these people because it pushes them to fanaticism.  You have to tell them directly what lines they’ve crossed and how you feel about that.  They need closure in the relationship via confrontation and task direction.

Example:  “I don’t want to hang out with you anymore, because as a married man, you make me feel very uncomfortable with what you do and say.  Example, I don’t like how you touch my chest, it indicates to me that you think we’re more than friends, which we are not.”

I told Ang that I’d let her QB this, as long as she was uncharacteristically confrontational and direct with this guy.  I also gave her an out, telling her that if she didn’t think she could do that, I’d be happy to tell this guy to back off, which I think I should do anyway because I’m a good husband, and I take my queues from a fucking hawk.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment