I have long suspected that what ultimately drives this blog – what makes for the most interesting content – is largely the angst that annoyance that comes from one or two major sources. The first, of course, is anything at all that relates to traveling to, enduring the day at, or coming back from the office. That’s a shitshow that is near universal and provides an endless well for new posts – or maybe it’s just the same fifteen or twenty posts repeating over time. The other main driver, one that’s more general, comes from any time that I’m required from dealing with the general public. My thoughts about people as a group are well known by now… like the office, though, they are an bottomless source of things to comment on.
Spending four or five days mostly ensconced at home with books and animals significantly decreases the number of things I feel the need to bitch and complain about. Sure, I guess I could ry my hand at writing some happy, uplifting shit, but that doesn’t strike me as anything close to speaking with my authentic voice… and I suspect it would be far less entertaining for anyone who happened to read it. If people really liked good news stories, the cable news channels would be filled with them rather than with the regular mayhem and chaos that they know puts eyes on advertising.
So what’s the point here? I’m not sure I have one beyond wanting to share what, I jotted down today and promptly rejected as topics for today:
Earthquakes. Why the hell do people live in California? It burns down regularly and the damned earth shakes. I don’t care how nice the weather is, that seems like a bad tradeoff.
Women’s World Cup. Team USA is getting hectored for “too much celebrating.” Fuck all the way off with that noise.
4th of July “military parade.” So the left decried the “military trade” in DC on the 4th of July… that turned out to be something like 4 vehicles put on static display near the Lincoln Memorial. Somehow I think the republic will endure.
Jeffrey Epstein. If I were a billionaire, I’m 100% sure I’d find something to do with my time and money that’s way less likely to send me to prison than sex trafficking of minors. Money can buy a lot of things, but even giant honking piles of cash can’t fix stupid.
Sigh. I hate to admit it, but it’s probably best that the holiday is over and it’s time to get back to work and people. I’ll be annoyed as hell, but the writing will be better, so there’s that.
Writing, even something as trivial as the next blog post, for me – maybe for everyone – doesn’t come from a happy place. It doesn’t happen when I’m content and well rested. It comes from anger, frustration, annoyance and most of the feelings that make up the Dark Side of the Force.
Four day weekends rarely evoke those feelings in me, though… except maybe once we’re within a twelve hour window of the long weekend being over. Then the angst finds all sorts of interesting ways to display itself.
This weekend I threw more books on the stack, spent quality time with the critters, watched a couple of movies, made some drinks, had some food, spent time with what probably constitutes a full third of the total number of people I have any interest in being around for longer than 15 minutes, and generally relaxed… insofar as I ever really “relax.” It wasn’t the kind of weekend that engenders particularly interesting stories… and it certainly didn’t fill me with motivation to find anything to write about.
So I skipped Monday. It’s Tuesday now, though, and we’re back in the swing of it, so I’ll return – if not quite gladly – to the regular posting schedule.
Chalk this up to one of those nights where my worst enemy is a blank screen and a flashing cursor. There are worse problems to have – ass cancer for instance – but I really do try rather hard to have something engaging, interesting, or otherwise worth reading here four days a week… even if sometimes the word count runs a little bit short. There are a few days a year when getting across that bar is harder than others.
I’m going to blame it on the onrushing calendar and the impending arrival of Christmas and the long sweep of days off that goes along with it. It wouldn’t be entirely true to say that I’ve engaged cruise control and switched my brain over into rest mode, but it would’t be entirely misleading either. The fact is, I’m doing my level best to make the next week and a half as absolutely low key and minimally demanding as possible.
There are plenty of external factors I can’t control, but there are plenty that I can exert influence upon – like when someone asks if I’m going to scheduled a meeting about some random project coming up in April. The answer to that one is a hard no, spoken with conviction. Something, of course, could come along and convert that no to a yes, but it won’t be because I’m calling a meeting just because we haven’t had one in a while.
I’m easing into the end of 2018. So bear with me if anything around here feels just a little less energetic than usual.
Whoever it was that came up with the idea of autoplaying a video as a website opens should rot in hell right next to the guy who invented the pop up ad. For most sites I’m fully understanding that generating income from ads is how you make your money. Running a website and keeping up content isn’t an inexpensive proposition. I spend $50 a year out of pocket to keep the lights on here in my little sector of the web. I could be ad driven and defray some of that cost, but I’m determined that it’s just not worth it. Ad free content is, in my opinion, better for the reader as well as for the writer.
Usually this is something that would wait for the weekly roundup of WAJTW, but it doesn’t feel right to pile it into a list with three other things when it is so patently obnoxious. I’ve steadfastly avoided downloading ad blocking software because I know that even on the internet everyone has bills to pay, but with the ever increasing intrusiveness of your ads, I’m only another few bad experiences away from giving up my scruples and loading up some software to kill off as many of these ads as possible.
Site owners need to find a better model. No matter how good your content is, if I have to deal with an advertisers video yelling at me with no apparent off switch or pop ups that take up two thirds of the screen space, I’m not interested enough in what you’re saying to wade through the mess to look at it. Maybe it’s too much to ask, but if advertisers designed spots that were somehow compelling instead of just being annoying maybe I’d actually click over and have a look. As it is, I’ll just close the screen and go find my content elsewhere.
If there’s anything more thankless than going in to the office and trying to get some work done on the day before Thanksgiving, it’s got to be posting a blog later that same night when it’s virtually guaranteed that absolutely no one is going to be paying attention. The only thing in my favor is that here on the east coast we got the first snow of the season, so many potential readers might just be sitting the night out at home. I’m not holding my breath on that, of course, which is why you’re reading this process piece instead of seeing anything remotely resembling meaty content.
After more years that I want to think about, I really do have a sense for how scheduling drives the number of posts. It’s a blessing and a curse since it means sometimes I’ll withhold some good writing until I know more than a few people will be paying attention. It also drives the fact that I almost never post on Friday and Saturday. Sadly the world has better things to do on those days than listen to another blow hard ranting on the internet. I’m not selling any advertising here, but still it’s nice to know that what you write has got a fighting chance of being seen… because no matter how much noise we make about writing for ourselves and not for an audience, we really, really want the audience.
So as you’re sitting there, toasty warm in front of your pre-Thanksgiving fire, sipping your nog (or whatever it is you’re supposed to sip at Thanksgiving), think of the poor harried bloggers out there smashing away at their keyboards and wanting nothing more than a few more people to drop by their site. Take a little time tonight and poke around WordPress or Blogger and there’s a good chance you’ll run across someone whose voice you need to hear. It’s a jungle out there, but there are some incredibly good writers too who are just churning it out for the love of our particular game.
I do my level best not to let a trifle like work interfere with the important work of blogging and trying to deliver my next sarcasm-laden book to an expectant world. Most days I’m successful on that front. This week, my expectations are somewhat more limited. Tonight for example I’m sitting here at the computer just barely able to keep my eyes open. It’s the second night in a row that I’ve been at least an hour late heading home and on balance the week should only really get worse from here.
I’ll make every effort to keep up with fresh posts for the duration, but let me go on record as making absolutely no promises in that regard. At the rate this week is currently spiraling out of control, by this time tomorrow it’s possible I’ll be subsisting entirely on a diet of coffee and whatever I can find from a vending machine. By Thursday I’m beginning to think I’ll have lost the capacity for coherent speech and default to communicating through prehistoric grunts and pointing in the general direction of what I want.
As far as I can tell at the moment, this week plans to be nothing but a time thief and that means you’ll have to suffer right along with me… so please forgive me for whatever drivel ends up filling these otherwise respectable pages over the next few days.
1. Failing to read for comprehension. When I send you a four sentence email it’s not like reading the entire thing is going to monopolize your day, especially when one of those sentences tells you exactly how to do what you’re trying to do. No, the answer isn’t to send me more “follow up” emails. The answer, as I will tell you over and over and over again as needed, is right there starting on line two of the original response, which you obviously didn’t stop long enough to read. You can feel free to “follow up” all you want, but damned if I’m doing it for you. Your inability to read and comprehend simple English is not so much my responsibility.
2. The value of time. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know the value of my time. It’s the most limited commodity I have and it doesn’t come cheap. Unless you’re on the friends and family plan, it never, ever comes free. Whatever it is that’s so critical, unless it’s an immediate threat to life or property, really isn’t so critical and certainly doesn’t give rise to the need to give anyone a freebie. I’ve been around long enough to know that there’s always a tomorrow… and on the off chance there isn’t a tomorrow none of it is really going to matter at that point anyway.
3. Non-surprise surprises. For the love of Pete, when I’ve been telling you for weeks that X is going to happen on Y date how in seven hells are you surprised on Y-4 that Y is going to happen next week. It’s been on the damned calendar for 5 months. We’ve had at least 30 meetings about it, but whoa, every-damn-body but me seems to be taken by surprise. Look, I know we always try to kill the gator closest to the boat first, but there’s no way I’m letting anyone get away with the “Uh, I didn’t know” excuse on this one. I find it interesting that all the things we didn’t have time to do three months ago, we now suddenly want to cram into a day and a half. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t wrap myself in knots trying to do that which is inherently illogical if not downright impossible given the limitations of available time and manpower.