The Blogging Affairs Desk

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

Last One Out, Hit The Lights!

I’m closing down The Desk.

It’s been a sweet ride.  By far, in my nearly ten years of blogging, The Blogging Affairs Desk has been my most successful attempt at shouting to the masses from my cyber-soap box.

It’s been swell.

But my domain name … whatever you wanna call it…. thing is expiring in about 30 days and WordPress makes it exceedingly difficult to re-register it.  Exceedingly.  I mean, dude, come on, I’M TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY!

Which is kinda the trend on this blog anyway… over the last few years.  My struggles with trying to GIVE PEOPLE MONEY have been documented far and wide.

So yeah, I figured it’s kinda time to move on to something else.  I haven’t really had much motivation to keep writing, I’ve abandoned my post over at IRdC; it was hard enough to keep THIS blog up to date, let alone churn out an article once a week for an entirely separate blog.

And I’m waist deep in training for not one, but at least TWO triathlons coming up later this year.  Couple that with work picking up, I just don’t have the time, nor the energy to sit down and churn out the quality work all my readers have come to expect from The BAD.  It’d be a disservice to put out anything less.

So yeah, with that, I’m snapping the desk lamp shut, powering down the workstation, packing up my box of shit and leaving this site to decay like unattended grapes on the vine.  Sure, I could go out with flare, like The Good Doctor did, but I hate messes, and well, my wife would be sorta pissed.

Too soon?

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my take on life as much as I enjoyed sharing it. You can still follow me on twitter, by the way, for my 140 character-at-a-time takes on life.

It’s like a condensed version of The BAD, right in your pocket.  If you’re not poor and own an iPhone.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have fifteen hours of “Parks and Recreations” saved on my DVR that need to be watched.

…Just kidding.

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Hey, Hold The Phone…

Just wanted to shout out all the folks migrating over to my site from IRdC. Thanks for stopping by.  I try to post at least twice a week, but with my work schedule it’s not always possible, so stay tuned, check back often.  Next article will be up probably Monday.

But in the meantime, why not check out my wife Ang’s blog? She’d also want me to tell you that she got locked out of our house the other day by some dipshit realtor who was showing our apartment when neither one of us was home, causing me to nearly kick through someone’s chest cavity.

That said, go check out her blog. I bet she’ll write about her experience.

Thanks again for stopping by, and see you Monday folks!

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Not Enough Time | , , , , | Leave a comment

My Life Without Facebook

If you follow me on Twitter you might have read a post recently that read something like “I just dragged my #FB account into the middle of a dusty street, put a snub nose revolver against its head, and pulled the trigger.”  That would signify me getting rid of Facebook from my life.

It had been a long road I had walked to get to that decision, and it didn’t come lightly.  The factors for me kicking that account over the side were many: it took too much of my time, privacy concerns with posted content, and more importantly the trouble Facebook seemed to get me into.

My wife and I used to get into so many arguments on Facebook over stupid shit like “what did you mean by that posting?” if one of us posted something on another’s wall (a public forum that anyone can read, in case you’re one of the few who have no clue who Facebook works).  It’s not worth the hassle.

Plus, early on at my job I took some heat for some things posted on my Facebook page.  Apparently, my boss at the time didn’t have enough to do, so he decided to snoop through people’s online accounts (this was admittedly before I realized I could set security settings and block anonymous access).  He found some pictures and content he didn’t agree with and made it a workplace issue.  While I disagree with his intrusion, it’s my own fault for putting stuff out there I don’t want certain people to come across.

Plus, Facebook’s interface was becoming more and more bogged down.  I wrote an article a while back about the bloated corpse that is Facebook, and little has changed since.  When I tried to upload my photos from my wife and I’s honeymoon in Niagara Falls, Facebook took the load (maybe 50-something pics) but then turned around and told me there was a failure of some sort.

I knew it wasn’t on my end, because FB has done this to me in the past on many occasions.  But that was the last straw; I was through dealing with this corporate ballsack and it’s creepy cyberstalking.

I posted a status at about 11am telling people I was going to smoke my FB account by 1600, and if they wanted to stay in touch, follow me on Twitter.  I reposted the same status a few more times during the day, and at 1603, after getting my wedding pictures and a few other choice pics off of Facebook, I nuked the account.

For those of you who never got rid of a social networking account, there’s an awkward Q&A that follows.  When I tossed my Myspace profile into the garbage can in 2007 there was a series of little questions you could answer yes and no to, such as “were you overwhelmed by the amount of mail you got regarding your Myspace account?” and “Did you ever fear that your content was being sold?”  Facebook was no different, even adding little explanations to attempt to assuage your fears.  When I selected “Privacy Concerns (I had more than one reason but FB only allows for one option to be picked)” a little window popped up plaintively giving some tired excuse about how FB’s new Terms of Service does blah blah blah to ensure your privacy online.  That’s great for FB, but what about some other dickbag who can hack in and take whatever information they want?  Not that I keep anything so sacred on my old FB page but still.  It’s a case of too little too late.

Besides, I’m older than FB’s targeted demographic now.  FB caters more towards the 17-24 year old market, where kids can share their interests via “fan-ing” a particular page.  Like Reeboks?  There’s a fan page for it.  How about Sharks?  Yup, check it out.

I was primarily using FB to help promote this blog, but when I really thought about it, FB promotions were futile.  I had a total of 40-something friends, half of which already followed me on Twitter, the other half weren’t really interested in my articles anyway.  It was just more work to post updates to both FB AND Twitter, and have them be different.  And due to Twitter’s minimalist design, I can be a little more free about who I promote to, oppose to having to individually edit myself based on whomever’s reading my FB posts.

In the end, it just made more sense to get rid of FB.

However, some weren’t pleased with my departure.

“How the hell can I stalk you now!” Lamented my wife.  “How will I know when some random bitch posts something on your wall?!”

However, in the last 24 hours since I left FB I feel freer, life seems a little less complicated.  Sure I have knee jerk reactions to checking out what’s going on with people, as I wait in a queue for the ATM, but that’s fading rather quickly.  No, the freedom’s totally worth it.

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Snippet of What I’ve Been Working On

Been a busy week here at the BAD.  More news on that to come shortly.  While you wait, why not take a gander at 1000 or so words of the short fiction I’ve been working on after hours…

***

He packed lightly, bringing with him three books, toiletries, some clothes, two pistols, another ceramic knife, one hundred thousand dollars in bundled cash, sunglasses, SIM cards for cell phones, a pair of running shoes, and his iPod.

He had called Katie to see if she wanted to drop by and she said she was actually in the neighborhood, and she was going to pop over unexpected anyway.  Dreamer sat on his couch and watched tv until his door buzzed.

He keyed the speaker, she identified herself and he buzzed her in.  He popped the door to his apartment and got out two beers and set one on the counter top while he sipped the other.  A few moments passed and Katie walked in the door wrapped in a short pea coat, her eyes behind square rimmed glasses, her face beaming.

“This for me?”  She motioned for the beer.

“No, it’s for your sister,” Dreamer said with mock sarcasm.  She lifted an eyebrow and picked up the beer from her side of the counter and took a pull from the bottle neck.  She took off her coat, revealing her thin-but-curvy body, and pressed herself up against Dreamer who was leaning against the stove in the tiny kitchenette.

“Funny, I didn’t know my sister was in town this week,” and she kissed him lightly on the lips.  Dreamer kissed back a little, his mind someplace else for the time being.  The conversation with his handler still lingered in his psyche and it was readily apparent to his girlfriend from the bookstore.

The two of them had been dating regularly for the last month or so, enough to the point where Dreamer considered her to be his girlfriend exclusively.  That is, he didn’t really have much time to go out and see anyone else, but nor did he want to.  They had sex, and sometimes she would crash at his place.  Seldom did they ever really go out, maybe to the occasional bar or night club, once to a comedy club in Manhattan, but most nights were spent in eating take-out Sushi or Tex-Mex.

Once, Katie cooked an actual home-made meal for Dreamer, which Jimmy thought was comparable to his own mother’s home cooking.  It was then that she sealed it for him.

“What’s the matter?”  She asked, which brought Dreamer back to Earth.  He cleared his throat and set his beer down between the gas burners on the stove.

“I gotta go away for a while, and I don’t know how long,” he said evenly, with the cold efficiency he had developed through much practice in front of a mirror and victims.  She hesitated as her hipster-thin body became stark and rigid.

“Huh?”

“It’s business related.  My company is uh, relocating me for an unspecified amount of time to do some work up in Canada I guess. Montreal.  So uh, I gotta leave tonight, by train.”  She pushed back off of him and leaned against the opposite L in the counter.

“Well, how long are you going to be gone for?”

“I dunno, but I guess I’ll be coming back, eventually,” Dreamer shrugged.

“That’s fucked up- they didn’t even tell you how long you’d be gone for?”  She asked.

“No,”

“Not even a ballpark?”

“No.”  She swallowed this.

“That’s fucked up,” she repeated.  “I was just starting to kinda like you too.”

“I know, me too Katie.  It’s not fair, but it was better than the alternative, I guess,” and Dreamer realized he was thinking out loud more than talking to his girlfriend.

“What was the alternative?”  He knew she was going to ask so he had an answered prepared.

“They were going to let me go,” he said and sucked on his beer bottle.  She nodded and scratched her chin a little.

“Can I come and visit you?”

“Eventually, after I get things sorta established, you know?”  She nodded and closed the distance between the two of them.

“Ok, just, you know, be safe, that sort of shit.  Given with what you read, I’m sure that won’t be a problem for you though, you know?”  She referenced the copy of Complete Hand Combat Vol. 9, and a beaten copy of Famous Small Arms Review 2001 on the coffee table in the other room.  Dreamer smiled a little and gave her rear a squeeze.

“Sure.  But listen, I gotta finish packing up, I gotta catch a seven o clock train, so,” and he trailed off.  She leaned up and kissed him softly, and touched his face.

“Just be safe ok?  I worry about you sometimes.  You tend to get very serious out of no where and it’s just…”

“Yeah I know, it’s just my job, you know?”

“Yeah,” and she broke away.  She picked up her coat, took another swig of the beer and let him walk her to the door to his apartment.

“Give me a call when you get in, ok?”

“It’ll probably be early, like, five-ish,”

“I don’t care, I’ll probably be up with worry, you know?”  Dreamer rolled his eyes.

“I have a mother, you know,”

“Really?  I thought you were hatched,”

“Such a smart ass.”

“You love me”

“Maybe.”

“Bye, James.”

“Bye Katie, walk safe, ok?  Oh here,” he dug into his wallet and produced a yellow Metro Card.  “I still have like, two weeks on this Unlimited, you want it?  I’m taking a cab into The City so…” She snatched it from his outstretched fingers.

“I’ll give it back to you when I see you again,” and she smiled.  They said their good byes again, and he shut the door after her.

Although he was already packed and it was only five in the evening, Dreamer wanted some alone time and decided to take a shower, since he was probably going to be stuck on a train for up to fifteen hours.  He undressed in his bedroom, took a towel from his linen closet and padded into the shower.

***

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion, Written Works | , , | Leave a comment

Hey, Got Any Cake?!

Good news:  I’ve officially lost and managed to keep off twelve + pounds since I started my work out and diet program a few months ago.

Bad news:  I’m now addicted to “cake.”

“Cake” as it’s now known on the streets is a powder or crystal form of weight loss protein shake supplement that encourages lean muscle growth, suppresses appetite, and heals muscles that tear under work out conditions.

I’m addicted and here’s how I know:  I got off the stuff for a week, yet continued to work out and holy shit did I feel it.

Muscles that normally are ready to go the next day were sore as shit.  I was tired, feeling like I spent the night letting punk teenagers beat the shit out of me with metal baseball bats and chains.  I would wake up at 0445 to get up for a three mile run feeling like I had been hit by a bus and dragged the three miles.  It was enough to make me turn over and go back to bed for another hour.

Which I did.  Twice.

But the tale of the tape is this, Cake is working and worth every penny of the fifty sum-odd bucks I pay for it twice a month to get me through.  I’ve trimmed down and have definition in my ab area.  My chest is tighter, not so saggy.   If I stand in front of the gym mirrors wearing all my UnderArmor I look like a fucking X-Men.

Responsibility lays somewhat with my diet too.  I do two “cake shakes” a day for the protein, plus I’ve been monitoring my portions and actually chewing my food.  The easiest way to do this is by simply PUTTING THE FOOD DOWN when you’re chewing a bite.  Set the fork down, enjoy the flavors in your mouth.  It doesn’t have to be shoveled into your mouth and swallowed.  What are you doing that’s so important later in the day that you can’t enjoy the meal?

In a survey taken by some health magazine I was reading in a waiting room last year, ¾ of Americans don’t eat breakfast.  Eating breakfast alone will set your metabolism for the day; it’s like hooking your thyroid up to a car battery.  This means less snacking in front of the screen while you sit on your ass and file TPS reports.  Breakfast doesn’t have to be a Denny’s Grand Slam either (unless you’re still drunk at 3am), you can do what I do and have a fig bar or banana with your morning Cake Shake and call it good.

In our society we’re too conditioned to our half hour lunch breaks, skipping breakfasts, and finding a way to get something in our stomachs for dinner.  In America we try to do as much shit as we possibly can in a 24 hour period, and for what?  We forgo sleep and food to get in extra hours at the office.  No wonder why a third of the population is obese.

We need to take the European approach and actually stop what we’re doing and enjoy the little things in life.  Think about it:  Fuck the economy, the bad news, the impending depression, doom, gloom, etc, and eat a fucking apple on a park bench.  Enjoy and chew each bite.  Listen to the sounds around you and avoid eye contact with the hedge funder who’s rattling a can of pencils in your face.

Oh, one the side affects of “cake” is it makes you an idealist.  Also, gives you great abs and defined shoulders.

I’m just saying….

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Taking Your Calls

It’s that time again, where we’ll be taking your questions to help fill out another post.  So if you have a question for either me, Ang or Oakley the Ferret, go ahead and comment below.  Submissions must be met by Thursday to appear in next week’s article.

I’m just saying…

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Living in an Insane Asylum, Not Enough Time | , , | 6 Comments

Ugh.

Moved in.  More to come soon.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go ice and/or heat my back.

I’m just saying…

February 27, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Living in an Insane Asylum, Not Enough Time | | 1 Comment

Quick Programming Note

Ang and I are moving.

Not to any new website, but in actual real life.  We’re moving to a quieter, cheaper rent where they pay for the heat.

So it’s all good, obviously.

But the point is that we, likely I, won’t be posting for the better part of the week because I’ll be lugging boxes from Point A to Point B.

I’m just saying…

February 23, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Not Enough Time, Out and About, People I Love, The Great Indoors | | 3 Comments

The Teaser

This is going to be a relatively short post, in lieu of a more detailed and articulate post that will find itself posted on here at a later date.  Probably Monday-ish.

It’s not because I’m lazy, but I just need time to sort out all the notes, quotes, and jokes from the last seven days.   We literally just pulled in from a three hour drive from Maine, and I just got everything settled, from toothbrushes and iPods to a very precocious ferret and his new scratching post/fortress of solitude.

That, and my computer is acting like an asshole.  I can’t wait to be a pretentious Mac owner.

But yeah, death, drama, destruction,  substance abuse, and a lengthy dissertation on Wal-Mart will follow in a few days.  And I’ll probably break it into multiple parts, just so that you people will be able to digest the shit that even I, who spent the last few days living, find hard to believe.

Stay tuned.  You won’t want to miss this one, gang.

I’m just sayin…

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Not Enough Time | | 2 Comments