7

I was going to post this on Facebook as a status update in response to the current meme going around but it seemed a bit long-winded for that forum. I posted a shortened, edited version there but here’s my response in it’s entirety.


Shane Litz just gave me and ten other people the number 7. I’m not sure you’re supposed to hand out these magical, insight-revealing numbers en masse but I’ll play along. If I’m understanding the meme properly, here are 7 things about me that most of you don’t know. As a bonus to start things off, this won’t be a lighthearted, whimsical read because that’s just not me.

  1. My degree is in English with a creative writing minor and my career is actually in online marketing. Most people think that I’m in “the computer business” for numerous reasons but that really just rates as my biggest hobby.
  2. I’m terrible with people’s names. I can remember all kinds of details about the article that I just read on Search Engine Optimization, but if I meet someone today I probably won’t remember their name tomorrow.
  3. Even if I do know your name, it’s a rare occasion when I will use it in a conversation with you. If I’m talking to you, I will look you in the eye and you’ll know I’m talking to you – no need to clutter the conversation with it. If there are multiple people around and I can’t make eye contact, I might deliberately throw your name in for clarity. If I am looking you in the eye and use your name, I’m trying to emphasize my point and I don’t think you’re getting it. Oddly this quirk doesn’t seem to apply to my nieces and nephew.
  4. Pushing 40, the only thing I really feel missing in my life are children of my own. I don’t think I need to expound on that one.
  5. My three favorite words are ‘poignant,’ ‘epiphany’ and ‘brilliant’ which all contributed to the title that I came up with for my blog, “Finding That Brilliant Idea.” Although they are my favorite words, I don’t use them often. ‘Really,’ ‘actually’ and ‘probably’ are the three words that I constantly find myself editing out of things that I have written because I’ve used them too much.
  6. I do not like watching or following any kind of sports. I’m not in very good shape, but I would still much rather play baseball, basketball or football than watch it on TV. I also don’t own a single hat, sweatshirt, t-shirt, mug, etc. with a team logo on it.
  7. If you’ve read this far, you know I like to write but given the scarcity of content on my blog, I don’t do it often. A few years ago, I started to make plans to go to Florida to see the final Space Shuttle launch. For several reasons that didn’t work out so I made plans to at least watch the live video stream online. That didn’t work out either and I subsequently wrote a blog post that turned into an essay about regrets. The essay, “Running with Scissors,” detailed three moments of regret in my life and that introspection had a rather profound impact on me and the way I look at regrets. You now know #3 but very few of you reading this will ever know #1.

Pet Peeves Never Die

So, I’m sitting at the drive through window flipping through Facebook updates on my phone to kill time while I’m waiting for my heart-attack-in-a-sack. I hear the window flung open accompanied by a grating little squeak as if the building itself can’t do anything more than utter a whimper in tribute to its life as a grease factory. The lackluster girl behind the counter puts her face up to the opening announcing the total with even less joie de vivre than the window if possible. I give her my debit card and she runs it up and down the card machine three times with a well-practiced hand, waits for the receipt to print and then passes the card and tree fodder back out the window with a nasally, “There’s that.” She turns to the soda machine a few steps to her left, grabs the large Coke that I had ordered and passes it to me with another, “There’s that.” A 270° aborted pirouette later and she’s mangling my straw that’s poking out of the top of the sack that’s clutched in her claws as she returns to the window for a final time. “There’s that.” The fastfood girl drifts from the window like a ghost but “There’s that,” simply will not vanish into the night like a good little spectre.

My thoughts turned to the fact that there are some things in this world that simply rub our souls the wrong way. Like my sixth grade teacher who could not abide it when a student would approach from her left hand side. It didn’t matter if your pants were on fire, you had better walk the circumference of that classroom to approach from the correct side or you might as well just sit there and fan the flames yourself. Of course that’s a complete exageration, but that’s the very example that engraved the expression “pet peeve” into my vocabulary. Over the years since that clarion day, I have birthed, raised and nurtured many pet peeves and have even seen a few pass softly into the not-so eternal shrowd of historical context. I could feel in my soul that another had just announced itself to the world – not with the ardent, piercing cry of a newborn, but with the simpering, pitchy voice of a teenage girl. “There’s that.”

In defense of annoying teens and tweens everywhere – I eat out too often. As a single guy, it’s just too convenient, but that exposes me to more than the average share of server hospitality and platitudes. So it appears that over the past few years, I have developed a preternaturally heightened sensitivity to the phrase, “there’s that.” All-in-all it’s a very innocuous expression, but I believe that’s one of the reasons I find it so irritating aside from the fact that I’ve probably heard it a thousand times in the same context. Having minored in creative writing, specificity was one of the key concepts that I took away from my writing classes. “There’s that,” could be the large, caramel-colored Coca-Cola that I ordered or a glass vial of bitter hemlock or worse yet, Diet Coke!

Oddly, if used in the proper context, this is one of my favorite phrases to use in conversation. When ceding a point over a debated topic, “well, there’s that,” tritely rolls off my lips accompanied by a wry smile and a slight clockwise roll of my eyes – while I don’t use it that often, I have perfected the delivery. To my mind, the vague allusion to some overaching idea that I’ve been discussing is appropriate whereas most people deliver that scentiment with a casual indifference to their bastardization of my well-performed turn of phrase. While I’m sure there are any number of other reasons, “there’s that,” is like a cheese grater on the naked flesh of my raw ears when spoken by another I’ve decided to be truculent on creative grounds as a writer and erstwhile performer.

As the gloom of the night and the glow of the streetlamps began to mark the growing distance between my car and the restaurant, I thought to myself, “there’s that,” has now become the most annoying phrase that I have EVER heard. It really had to work at it but it has finally succeeded. Without warning, an unbidden thought swirled behind my eyes, dancing between my ears with a lustful exhuberance that would not be quelled, needing, yearning to be scrutinized. As my consciousness lightly brushed past that thought, “what WAS the most annoying phrase I have ever heard?” A grimace of indiscribable pain contorted my face as my head suddenly reverberated with the force of every memory that had been locked away, every occurance of that dreaded expression that I had thought safely hidden, every delivery, inflection, tone, timber, tried to free themselves from my mind in that one blinding millisecond. The power of those recollections could not be contained in the obscure recesses of my brain and I found myself stopped at a green light screaming through my windshield that dreaded utterance, “SSCCHHWWIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!”

Match.com, You’re on Notice!

As an online marketing professional, I’ve been reading a lot of buzz about how Pinterest is the next big thing for social media. From the articles, I just wasn’t getting the the concept – pinboards where you pin stuff you love… Sounded simple enough but how could that compete with Facebook or Twitter?

So, I decided to check it out. I went to the site, requested an invite and two days later, there was the email welcoming me with open arms. Creating a username and password took all of about thirty seconds and then I was ready to start ‘pinning.’ Figuring out what I loved enough to want to share my feelings with the world took a bit longer.

I made a single board, “Books worth reading twice” and posted one book, “The Hobbit.” I emphasized that I really liked the book because I’ve read it more than a dozen times. Within an hour, I had five ‘repins’ and/or ‘likes.’ All of them were from women.

The articles that I had read indicated that about 70% of the subscribers to Pinterest are women. Speaking analytically as a marketer, out of the 30% of the men on Pinterest, I would speculate that there is a sizeable showing from the gay community. There aren’t many places other than bridal shows that have that high of a concentration of women. Yet most of the articles kept emphasizing that Twitter and Facebook needed to keep an eye on Pinterest to protect their share of time people spend online on their sites. Given my extremely brief history on the site, I think Match.com, the supermarket and according to 30 Rock, the parking lot at Ikea all have more to fear from the new social media sensation.

Match.com and eHarmony may have scientific compatability studies on their side and when you go to the supermarket you can see if a woman likes the same kind of food that you do but on Pinterest, you get to see all of the things she loves and cares enough about to share with the world.

TIP to guys in a relationship: Need to get your wife or girlfriend something great for Valentine’s Day? See what she’s posted recently on Pinterest for some really good ideas.

In my opinion, Pinterest has a good chance of becoming the most popular place online where old-fashioned romance isn’t dead. You don’t fill out a giant questionaire and then get a list of matches; there’s a subtlety to reading into a collection of pinboards with random objects grouped together that requires a certain amount of intuition and sensitivity to interpret. Then, you ‘follow’ the person and eventually she has to file a restraining order. But until then, you glean amazing insights into what a woman is all about and if she’s following you, she get’s the same opportunity.

­Seriously, I pinned one thing that practically screamed, “I’m a giant nerd that really likes fantasy books,” and there were five women who ‘liked’ the pin… Granted Tolkien is pretty awesome, but I now know that there are at least five women who agree. Maybe I should pin some more things on my board and see what happens…

I’ve honestly been a little surprised that I have yet to see any mainstream articles drawing this same comparison which to my own chagrin means that I’m the opportunistic weasel leading the charge! Pinterest, please add a relationship status to your profiles so I can at least keep from approaching married women.

Christmas-a-la-commode

Christmas-a-la-commode by hobbit_fan_74
Christmas-a-la-commode, a photo by hobbit_fan_74 on Flickr.

Apparently there’s an inside joke amongst the ladies in the office dealing with empty toilet paper rolls. This beauty of a tree was presented to my friend Christine in the cubicle next door. This is the most brilliant and creative Christmas tree I’ve seen in a long time. I would ammend the caption on the white board to “Martha Stewart & Charlie Brown!”