August 28, 2010

Help Prevent Violence Against Dads. Or Don't.

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August 26, 2010

12th Time's The Charm

For the first time this summer, I actually had a decent dinner while attending the madness that is Rochester's "Thursdays on First." A taco salad from "Salad Bros."

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Random Thoughts Before the Boy Wakes from His Nap

Blogging has become one of those curious life distractions. Back when I started blogging in 2002, it was still a fresh and exciting medium, a medium from which I could potentially launch a lucrative career IF ONLY enough people would notice my brilliant and occasionally unspeakable hilarity.

Now, everyone has a blog, or everyone has disappeared into FaceBook, or everyone has jumped into the increasingly bizarre vernacular of Twitter, which has become something akin to shorthand swearing, what with it's omnipresent @ and # symbols.

But, that's the Web. Every month is a shake of the Internet Etch-A-Sketch, and we begin anew. My blog never caught on the way I had secretly hoped, but what did I actually expect from an eclectic mix of whatever the hell this blog has been about for nearly a decade? I don't have the regular ambition to be a Bleat, and I'm not curious enough to hoover up and link to all the news and opinion of the day of an Instapundit. Well, whatever. My blog is what it is. And it is a THUNDERJOURNAL.

I used to bemoan the fact I never learned a different language (I knew enough Japanese during my year living there to get through shops and restaurants), but the fact of the matter is I've learned and relearned the language of the Internet, and frankly it's getting tiresome. And it's not just tiresome because you have to relearn the language; you also have to remember all the previous iterations. It's like keeping an original version of Windows 95 on hand just so you can remember why things are the way they are now.

During my last job--of which I will only briefly reference, as that job is now the equivalent of Voldemort and "SHALL NOT BE NAMED--I had to perform all sorts of odd tasks meant to ensure Internet relevancy. Crap like search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics and a whole bunch of similar stuff that always struck me as the kind of thing you maybe thought about seriously back in 2005, but really aren't part of the Internet of today. But, such concepts just aren't easy to let go, so they remain and continue to haunt us even though the Internet has long since moved on to other annoying things.

Just when you think you have it figured out, someone goes and rewrites the Internet dictionary, just because they can. "They" being the busybodies who think we want to have hyperlinks automatically appear on words and phrases, so when you accidentally roll over them, a small advertising box appears that's seemingly impossible to close. I used to think Internet advertising had hit it's annoyance apex with pop-up and pop-under ads. Boy howdy, was I mistaken. Rollover ads just make me want to put my forehead through the monitor.

Somewhere along the line, Web advertisers decided to sacrifice effective ads in the name of making them APPEAR IN FRONT OF YOU SO YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE FRICKIN' THINGS! So, you have a silhouette of some dancing chick with text that says "Obama Asks Moms to go Back to School," and you're left thinking to yourself "What the hell is this shit?"

I can't profess to understand all the logic behind the way a lot of Web sites are architected today. I mean, I understand why sites break up articles into three or four pages to increase page views, but it comes at the expense of being exceptionally annoying. The same goes for Web pages that automatically reload after a predetermined interval. As if us stoopid Web surfers don't know how to refresh a page ourselves.

Posted by Ryan at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 23, 2010

Analyze This

Last week, I had a face-to-face, sit-down interview for a new job and, despite my own perceived lack of solid inter-personal skills, I managed to advance to the second round of the applicant review process, in the form of a writing exercise assignment and personality assessments.

Now, the writing exercise I'm pretty confident about. After all, having written professionally now for over a decade, I think I have that particular skill figured out. The personality assessments, however, left me a little bit frazzled.

I was assured, prior to taking the personality assessments, that there were no wrong answers. That's just nonsense. Of COURSE there are wrong answers; otherwise, what's the point of taking the assessments?

I was also encouraged to be "brutally honest with myself," which just can't possibly end up being a good thing for me. I mean, I once blew up a grenade in my parents' back yard, got hit by a train and cheated death in other similar monumentally stupid ways over the course of my life so far. If I'm ever going to be brutally honest with myself, the only conclusion I could possibly reach is that I'm a spectacular moron.

The assessments themselves were particularly peculiar. In the first assessment, I was asked to place 12 terms and phrases in order of how good and bad I felt they were. I was able to list the "good" terms fairly easily -- "I love my life," and "I find comfort in the harmony of the universe" were the kind of phrases that struck me as generally good.

The "bad" terms, however, were seriously bad; like, almost comically seriously bad. For example -- and I must stress I'm NOT making these up -- "poisoning the city water supply" and "torturing a person to death," were two phrases I actually struggled to rank in the 11th and 12th positions. Let's be honest, they're both REALLY bad, but I found myself waffling a bit when it came to deciding which one was the worst.

I mean, yeah, torturing a person to death is bad, but if I'm not the one doing the torturing, or the one being tortured, I didn't think it was AS BAD as poisoning an entire city's water supply. After all, a poisoned water supply can kill hundreds, if not thousands of people, whereas the whole torture thing is only going to kill one person. In the end, however, I listed "torturing a person to death" as the worst phrase, based entirely on my preference of how the word "poison" sounds better than "torture."

The second personality assessment was a list of over 300 "True & False" statements and, let me tell you, the statements ran a very diverse gamut. While I confidently answered "True" to "My car has air conditioning," I wasn't quite sure how to respond to "My excuses aren't usually believable." That really depends on the person I'm delivering an excuse to, after all.

There were literally scores of questions that could have gone either "true" or "false" depending on all sorts of extenuating circumstances, so I felt mentally exhausted after over an hour spent completing the assessments.

And the worst part is, I just KNOW I got all the questions wrong, if I'm going to be brutally honest with myself.

Posted by Ryan at 02:57 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 17, 2010

Announcing: "Annoying Toys!"

As my previous post indicated, I now have some free time on my hands, and it occurred to me that this may be a good opportunity to dust off an idea I've had for some time. Basically, I think it would be funny to post some of the more annoying toys that have found their way into our previously quiet household.

This first item, I've dubbed "Hell Tractor," because I have no idea how we procured this ridiculous thing, so I can only assume it arrived here via a portal from hell. It arrived sans batteries, which should have tipped me off that even Satan couldn't stand this thing in its fully-functional form.

Originally, our son loved the tractor when it was just inanimate and innocent. But then I went and decided to see what the thing would do if I loaded in some batteries. Imagine my surprise when I first wiggled the farmer, which is totally not a euphemism for masturbation, but probably should be:

Great howling crash wagons!

The first time I fired that thing up, my son started screaming his disapproval, and really, who could blame him. It probably didn't help that the damned thing started cruising right at him. How could you see this coming at you and not start screaming?

It also scares the hell out of the cats. When they hear Hell Tractor's engine sputtering to life, they run and hide either under the bed, or in the litter box.

Posted by Ryan at 04:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Without a Net

Last week, staring into my work monitor, with the hissing sound of the "white noise" machine permeating the office, I just kind of hit a brick wall, figuratively speaking.

For 26 months, I'd labored at what was supposed to be a dream job: good pay, great benefits, all that good stuff. Yet it was the worst work experience I've ever had in my 12 years out of college, spanning six different jobs.

It was a writing job in name only. It was more accurate to characterize it as a mind-numbing, bureaucratic, spin-the-wheels to nowhere abyss. I would be assigned projects that would be tweaked, retweaked and, eventually, just kind of disappear altogether as infighting broke out between parties that weren't even supposed to have input when it was first assigned. I had projects that would get tied up in review so bad, some wouldn't be completed for nearly a year. Worse, processes and procedures would be updated during that time, so even if the projects were finally approved, they would no longer adhere to the most recent templates and style guidelines, so I'd have to go in and change it all. So, it was rather galling to have a performance review that said I tended to miss deadlines. Really? You don't say?

It was made all the more surreal when you consider that I had numerous freelance writing requests coming in during those two years, as many as one or two every other month. Did I ever miss those deadlines? Nope. Never. I hit them all, usually with time to spare because, and this is key: THE WORK MADE SENSE.

So it was, last week, as I sat there in the droning embrace of white noise that is, in fact, just noise, I started to consider my situation. On the one hand, I desperately didn't want to be unemployed, but on the other hand I had several freelance articles lined up, as well as paychecks coming in for freelance work I've already completed. Things will be tight, but I have enough freelance work to make things work financially through this year for sure, and probably for a year or more beyond.

And so I resigned. I resigned from a job I just couldn't see myself doing any more. I jumped. Without a net.

Well, not ENTIRELY without a net, but certainly not the kind of net you'd necessarily want to trust with your life.

Today, I have a phone interview with a company, and Thursday I have a sit-down interview with another company. And I have two freelance articles I'm working on.

In other words, I'm terrified, but strangely optimistic.

Posted by Ryan at 10:35 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 10, 2010


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August 04, 2010

How Could I Forget?

With over ten months of experience under my belt now of being a father, I can confidently look back over those months and declare I have absolutely no recollection of about 90 percent of the time that's passed by.

In fact, one of the most common questions my wife and I ask each other on practically a daily basis is: "What did we do yesterday?" After asking that question, we both sit in a confused silence for several seconds, trying to come up with an answer.

Having an infant in the house is a more powerful mental eraser than any bar-hopping weekend bender I went on back in college.

The second my head hits the pillow at night, I can actually feel my brain scouring itself of any memories consisting of waking up at 4 a.m., changing a diaper or hearing my boy fuss. The only memories I'm left with come morning are those that consist of of baby smiles and laughs.

It's all a pretty clever evolutionary trick that ensures you'll at least consider the possibility of having another child. If all you can remember are the cute and precious moments, you're more likely to try for another diaper troll.

And it's not limited to just selective recollection on the part of my brain, either. This being the digital age, we have a digital camera and video player at our disposal at any given moment. Yet, amazingly, going through thousands of pictures and hundreds of videos recently, I couldn't find one that put our child in a negative light. Any such negative portrayal was apparently deleted right away, if any such portrayal was ever recorded at all.

As amazing as all this selectiveness is, I nevertheless think it's entirely unfair and doesn't accurately capture the true essence of raising a miniature squirming mad-man.

Therefore, I'm going to make a solid effort to rectify this strange quirk of parenthood that insists on remembering and capturing only the cute and precious moments.

The next time the boy pees on me while I'm changing his diaper--and believe me, it will happen at least five times in the next three days--I'm going to capture the moment on video, so I can sit back and relive the moment a couple months down the line and hear myself scream out in helplessness and swear as I send yet another pile of urine-soaked clothes down the laundry chute.

The next time the boy refuses to eat his liquified peas, and instead grabs the spoon from my hand and proceeds to paint his face dark green, including filling up his nose and ears, I'm going to take several pictures of Little Oscar the Grouch, so I don't forget how hard it is to clean out a baby's ears.

The next time I accidentally leave the boy alone in a room with a box of envelopes, I'll be sure to capture video of the aftermath, so I remember what it's like to pick up over 100 envelopes one by one and put them back in a box that's 70 percent soaked in baby drool.

In other words, I'm going to overcome evolution's clever forgetfulness trick so I can at least make a fully informed decision when it comes to considering another child.

And then my wife will decide for me.

Posted by Ryan at 10:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 03, 2010

Sling 'em High. Sling 'em Hard.

Ryan: video headlines are a scream.

Ryan: "Palin isn't first to sling 'cojones' "

Ryan: "Cloris Leachman 'so sick of Betty White' "

Caroline: hard-hitting journalism!

Caroline: Any headline with "cojones" in it is A-OK in my book.

Ryan: "If a shark attacks you, hit it here"

Caroline: Can I still hit it there if it doesn't attack me/

Ryan: We should get together after work and sling some cojones.

Posted by Ryan at 01:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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