The Audience Speaks

infectious emergent ideas

Atrocious UI Addendum

Well, a lot has happened since I last wrote. We finally found a place live, so we moved out of my parent’s place. This was one of the reasons I haven’t written much in the last year and a half, (Though I cannot promise to do much better going forward due to current life circumstances) got laid off of my job (On new year’s eve) with the big ol corporate that sees its workers as little disposable cogs… (Can you tell I’m bitter? Not about the getting laid off thing of course but yeah… more bitter about the year I spent in perpetual anxiety of whether or not I was going to receive an even larger uncompensated workload, or get laid off) And three weeks post the glorious release I now have a part time job in the morning and a really wonderful full time job in the evening with a small local company. All combined I should be earning a little more then I was pre-layoff, Though more hours are being demanded… And school starts tomorrow. Whoopie… there goes all my time.

So I thought I’d just drop in for a bit tonight and add a small addendum to my last post about USPS. I got an interesting postcard from them in the mail… What is this all about you may ask? Well since you are so desirous to know… They are having a job fair. What day? Later this month, in January. That is right… Post holiday season… How many positions are they trying to fill? To quote this lovely oversized postcard *More than 400 positions available*. I’ve worked for whole companies less than a tenth that population size. That is an enormous number of people in my mind.

Now I admit, I’m ignorant of local housing development, or population growth rates, and maybe this area is really booming in suburban population… And that is the reason why USPS is now desperate enough to hire 400+ people at the minimum rate of an almost livable wage in this overpriced county (to quote the card again, wages are, “Ranging from $14.37 to $19.00/hr”.) But, considering there are multiple properties going up for sale in my childhood neighborhood, and they are pulling in less than their ideal real estate value, and the fact that I would derive much more entertainment value by denying the above stated causation of USPS’ decisions. I choose to site my previous post as to why there is a huge labor gap filling with money in the ranks of the government run parcel service. Their application process is, frustrating, laborious, nightmarish, take your pick of adjective.  And as a piece of evidence to support my claim, may I quote the card one final time “Morning session participants will have the opportunity to sign up for one-on-one assistance in creating their application and applying on-site while openings are available.” (Bold added by me…)

Seriously, when your application process warrants the need for someone to hold the hand of a viable candidate to guide them through it, you’ve failed as a user experience designer! Congrats.

~The Audience

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Neither Snow nor Rain nor Atrocious UI

Being, as of yet, in the unpleasant position of under-employment, I am once again, with much trepidation, wading out into the murky waters of the job market bog. It was suggested to me that I should apply to be a mail carrier with it’s decent pay, secure institutional benefits, and active lifestyle. I thought it was a fine idea, so I attempted to apply, and quickly found out I do not have the resolve for such a job.

I have to hand it to our mail carriers. In order for them to get a job today, they have to persevere through an application process that can take hours to complete. And to be sure you have a strong personal constitutional, you probably have to complete it in one go as the application does not have any apparent save function. By the way, you may actually want that save function so that you can easily pause and return later after the need to go look up invasive information. What invasive information? Why, information regarding the exact dates of beginning and discontinuing employment, exact dates of any traffic violations and car accidents over the past five years, and the exact dates of occupying your previous residencies. Oh and just in case you think you get by with close approximation, we want you to click this button beneath an agreement that states in no uncertain terms that you may be arrested for falsifying any information on this forum which we will verify using an independently conducted background check.

And if any of that didn’t scare you off, let me not pass over the fact that the whole application is created in SAP… Yeah… You know… that very businessy (and somewhat outdating) management software typically used to manage inventories and pricing information and conducting other routine business functions, and is known for oftentimes having unintuitive UI design. Yeah, the entire application is a bland and ill-optimized form, blocking you from accessing your browser’s spell checking, forcing you to manually retype in the city and state of your previous employers instead of utilizing autofill or drop down menu’s, and generally making you more aware by the moment that there has to be a better way to design these things.

Yep, I couldn’t abide it. I often find the application is a decent indicator of the quality of job, but it is a fickle rule of thumb that I’ll probably make a graph of some day. If the application was horribly designed, I generally take it that the actual workflow of the job will likewise be chaotic and poorly thought out. I would love to jump in and help to make things better, but I also realize that it is the way it is because of mounds of governmental regulation specifically regarding this one entity, USPS, and frankly, I don’t feel the desire to dig into the endless pile of document standards required to take on that kind of task, and I don’t want to be arrested along the way for forgetting exactly which day I got into a car wreck four and a half years ago.

I was going to write more about the generally toxic HR culture that is engulfing the american Job market, but I think I will save that for next week. I’m fighting depression just to write this much today, and you don’t deserve the torture of reading through another 1500 word diatribe today. So… Yeah. Not much of a closing point till next post. Sorry.

The Audience

And for the brief post script that you can skip if you aren’t into the more meta parts of this blog.

Got two more “likes” on my last blog post, or was it three? Two of them came from people who point to the same blog, some aggregator of financial/motivational advice along with some more hokey motivational materials for sale on how to make money with your blog. The other like came from a lady that looked promisingly like a real human being, but upon further inspection of their blog, it was filled with little more than vague aphorisms, and promotional material for their life coaching business. A business that in my completely unprofessional experience, is in dire need of a design coach. When the layout and format of each article changes in weird unexpected ways, and advertisements are wholesale peppered right in between lines of body text, I get the urge to begin running posts through plagiarism checking software and publishing the results. But, I’m not one to engage in that amount of shitstorm right now.

I’m a Rich person, Let me tell you how to be Poor!

The inspiration for this post started two weeks ago. My wife and I had to evacuate the house temporarily (family reasons) so we took refuge in the local library. While we were there my wife picked up a book called “Suddenly Frugal” by Leah Ingram. Out of boredom, humor, and the third grade writing style of the author, she tore through the whole book in a matter of hours. This has started her on a interest in financial advice media. For that I am proud of her (and thankful for her) as I am far less meticulous as I should be when it comes to finances. But back to this book, I asked her if there was any helpful advice in “Suddenly Frugal” and she pretty much stated stuff that the book was full of stuff we already do better than the author.

This brought me to an awareness of yet another deeply felt gripe that goes right along with my loathing of motivational speakers and lots of other general self help guru’s. I hate rich people selling books about being frugal to poor people. And so, I present this rant/review of the book.

Pretty early in the book Ms. Ingram talks at length about how much you can save by cooking at home…

Duh!

The way she puts it, it sounds like before her family went frugal, they were eating out one or more times a week. Why this information is useless to us? Because we eat out maybe once every other month, and when we do, it is usually at Chipotle, 1 Veggie bowl with free guac and two free tortillas and my wife and I make our own burritos, that is our most expensive meal, ringing in at 3.75 a plate with tax. We cook at home at pretty much every opportunity, our only other choice is to basically say “Eff it! This ain’t gonna get better lets just drown ourselves in credit card debt.”

And like I said two blog posts ago, I’m lucky. I realize I am lucky. There are loads of people who live in housing conditions that don’t even allow them to engage in this frugal practice. The author doesn’t seem to realize that there are lots of people who have no room for a pantry, have tiny cramped and poorly furnished kitchens. A lot of her strategies at living on less involve having the living space and sufficient income to start with to acquire certain tools such as a chest freezer and… wait for it… a soda stream! WTF?!?!

Next up she has a lengthy chapter about shopping, in particular, about shopping for clothes, groceries, and school supplies. As far as we poor people are concerned, we buy clothes only when we need them, we buy whatever has the lowest price tag and looks like it will hold up, and we keep our wardrobe small and multi seasonal. We aren’t super fashion savvy unless it is needed to pass in some social situation. Groceries… no new info there as can be seen from the previous paragraph, and school supplies, we didn’t need this section as we currently can’t even afford giving birth to a baby.

The next chapter’s atrocity was the revelation she dumps right in the middle about owning an Xbox, PlayStation and suddenly realizing it was time to clean out the playroom one christmas as they surprised their children with a new Wii… In my early college years I will admit I splurged and got a Wii and later an Xbox (at the pressure of my friends who all wanted me to play games with them.) Those were soon liquidated to cover other expenses that came up. I don’t think there is anything wrong with owning consoles, but if you are going to own them, don’t set yourself up as a bastion of frugality. PC’s are much cheaper gaming platforms than consoles anyway.

Chapter 5… Dear God, You Were Still Paying For Cable TV?!?!?! (Checks to see publication date… 2010. Still unacceptable). That is almost as reprehensible as actually watching TV. You aged demographic. You know what my entertainment budget looks like… I’ll say I have trimmed, I used to buy about $15 a month in computer game bundles and whatever the cost of internet was. I have amassed enough games that I could probably stop paying for games altogether and play what I have till I die. A good rule of thumb for entertainment is if you are getting an hour of enjoyment for each dollar you pay, you are getting a good deal. Now that I am in the financial straits I am in, I have completely almost stopped looking at computer game bundles.

The Car Chapter… She bought a $20,000 used vehicle, after driving her old vehicle, which they bought NEW OFF THE LOT, into the ground in 8 (EIGHT) short years. I nearly fell off my chair when I first heard this… You really had to practice neglect or market ignorance in order to run your new vehicle into the dirt in eight years. The last car we bought was a used 2004 nissan for $5000 and it is still going strong after its 11 years (150k+ miles) of life.

Utilities and lights. The only notable moment of stupidity in this chapter is switching to CFLs for the reason of, “They produce less heat so your air conditioning won’t have to work so hard in the summer.” Switching to CFLs (or even better, LEDs if you can shell out for it) is a good idea, but because it consumes less electricity and last longer (supposedly)… The heat your light bulbs produce is pretty negligible in the long run. Then if you really want the poor person’s experience, actually follow this woman’s advice, don’t ever turn your lights on. She brags about putting on her makeup, reading the newspaper and emptying the dishwasher with “nary a light on”. I get dressed in the dark because I don’t want to wake my wife. Does that Count? Also, you have to have a house in order to implement most of the suggestions in this chapter.

The laundry and cleaning chapter… Do your own Dry Cleaning? You used to be able to afford dry cleaning? I  can’t afford to dress fancy enough to require dry cleaning. I also don’t have a job that pays me well enough to require me to have an outfit that needs dry cleaning. Oh, and if you earn enough that you can buy an APPLE COMPUTER, you can sign up for free design classes… This whole chapter once again screams, I’m richer than you, let me pretend I’m poor by mixing my own laundry detergent in my big kitchen in my big home.

Renovations and Remodeling. You OWN YOUR OWN HOME!!! Nuff said.

Gardening. see above. I like gardening, but it requires you to be rich enough to own your own land, or have a landlord that is chill enough to risk you ripping up the yard to plant tomatoes and cucumbers.

The rest of the book culminates in a chapter on Vacations. I don’t even get paid holidays. I am likely going to miss the wedding of close family members because I can’t afford the plane ticket or the time off of work.

Alright. So I admit, we are probably not the target demographic for this book. But seriously, telling rich people how to spend less money so they can keep more of their hard earned (or ill gotten) gains, where is the good in that? I am sure I’ll be covering this subject again in later posts. My wife and I have engaged in interesting discussions over the past weeks about the ethicality of the stock market investment model, establishing economic independence on various passive income strategies and the overall relationship between the rich, the poor, and greed. But this post is long enough and rambled on poorly.

But one last thing that my wife noted about the book. The author was spurred on to writing her blog and subsequent book as they bought a big house that was a little “beyond” their financial reach (with their current spending habits) and were going into debt. But the author never wrapped up at the end to say whether or not her family actually got out of debt. Well, one thing’s for sure, I won’t be saving the proposed $25,000 a year as advertized on the front cover of the book by following the advice therein, because I wasn’t financially stupid and loose to begin with.

The Audience,

Thanks again to those who have “liked” my last post, including a return of the guy who writes political pieces that I mentioned in my last post. However, I do have one more “follower” who seems to gobble up and vend self help stuff left and right. Why she would follow a blog like this which clearly calls bullshit on most of that industry and it’s empty promises, I’ll never know. Mayhaps they are just a bot. Yeah, probably just a bot.

Concept X!!!!!!!1!11!!! (a parody!!!!!!)

I apologize for the length of the following work. I composed it months ago but didn’t have a good context for which to post it. In lieu of my recent rant about motivational speakers, this seems appropriate. The following is a subtle parody of motivational speaker presentations and the whole get rich quick culture. my only fear is that it may be too subtle. I was actually hoping to produce this in an audio format, ah well, c’est la vie.

Scene: The seatless auditorium is packed with a mass of people, some hopeful, others skeptical, everyone waiting for the show to get on the road. The overhead lights dim, sinking the masses into an indistinguishable grey, stage lights come up and the announcer begins in a booming voice. “You’ve seen him on TV, You’ve probably read his books, You’ve all gathered to hear wisdom from the life guru himself. I present to you…. Bob!!!!”

A confident looking guy dressed in jeans and and loose fitting button up white shirt steps up on stage into the spotlight.

“Hello! Welcome! Thank you for being here today. I know you have all traveled from around the world, some of you have made great sacrifices to be here. Regardless of how far you have traveled, you are still sacrificing time out of your already busy lives to watch this presentation and for that I am grateful. Because you are ready to receive what is in this presentation, you are here today, and that makes you special.

You people don’t know how lucky you are to be here today. My name is Bob and I (dramatic pause) Used to be just like all of you. I know exactly how you feel and why you are here because I used to be in your same position. I remember what that is like. I felt lost and confused. I didn’t know where to turn for truth. Because of that I used to be disappointed with my life. I used to suffer depression. I was tired all the time. I felt like my life was going nowhere. I was eating poorly, and was unhappy with my body image. I had no luck with romance and my sex life was constrained to shamefully pleasuring myself in lonely desperation with online images. Worst of all, I hated doing the thing I did to get money to survive. Because I was in your position, I know exactly what your life is like. Isn’t it terrible?!

But then I discovered Concept X and it changed my life. I sleep better, I eat more healthily, tastes, sights and sounds are more vibrant and enjoyable, I have gotten to my ideal body weight, I have more energy, I’m less depressed, I have way more free time to pursue the dreams I’ve always wanted to pursue. I now have fulfilling relationships with my romantic partner and find myself very sexually satisfied. But best of all because of Concept X, I make enough money to support my life doing exactly those things that I am good at and want to pursue. That is teaching people like you, people who I used to be like, To be like me, as I am now today.

And it is because of Concept X that you are here today. Somewhere deep in yourself you have already known that there is some secret out there, that if you could just tap into it, that you too would have the power to enjoy your life. Well I’m here to offer you that secret, the knowledge you need to make your life amazing.

I know what some of you are thinking though, some of you think your life is already pretty good. You’re wondering if you wasted your time coming here today. You are wondering if I have anything really valuable to actually offer you. Well, there was some times that I thought something similar. In the early days when I started to embrace Concept X, I thought my life may be good enough and that I doubted any need to go any further… Boy was I wrong. Had I stopped pursuing my study of Concept X when I had those doubts, I would have missed out on so many other amazing benefits that I now enjoy daily. Even if you think you’re life is good now, you are probably just deceiving yourself a little out of fear to take the next step in your life. So I encourage you to stick around, because Concept X can help out anyone.

Literally it can help out anyone. You see me, I’m not special or remarkable in any way whatsoever. I am just like you, or I was before I discovered Concept X and it transformed me completely. But that is all it takes is a little discovery and then Concept X can pervade your entire life if you continue to pursue it, and it will make you a much better person. And it is simple. In fact Concept X is so simple that I’ve often been completely baffled why people haven’t already implemented Concept X in their lives.

I’m even more baffled that people haven’t already transformed their lives with Concept X when you take into consideration that Concept X is an eternal principle that has been around since the dawn of humanity. Early Philosophers have all described Concept X, though they may not have known it. Concept X has gone by many different names, you may even be familiar with these names but I’m not going to confuse things right now by going into that. I believe that all the different names and ways of viewing Concept X are the very reason why it hasn’t already worked its way into everyone’s lives. People look around and see all these different things and names and words and they get confused trying to sort it all out, and then they get tied up with the words that describe Concept X, and then they get into arguments with other people who are also doing their best to follow Concept X. And Because of these arguments the power of Concept X is diluted in the lives of so many people.

But today I’ll give you Concept X in a more pure form, a form that is super easy to understand. You are going to walk away from this presentation today wondering why you didn’t already know and understand Concept X. But you will also walk out of here today armed with the knowledge to start your journey into implementing Concept X into your lives.

But first before I get into this, I must give you some warnings. When you start to practice Concept X, you must understand that it isn’t going to be easy. You see, there is another reason why Concept X isn’t already wide spread, why it hasn’t already reached out to everyone and changed everyone’s lives. Concept X is such a powerful force that it would fundamentally change the foundation of our society. There are lots of people who have gotten into power, people who may have even used Concept X in their lives, but then when they got into power they knew that if everyone else had access to Concept X, that they would lose their advantage over other people, they would lose their power and control over society. So these powerful people formed powerful entities and organizations to obscure the teachings of Concept X, to mislead people and tell them that there is no Concept X.

These people would try to have me silenced, financially ruined, or killed (if the law would allow it) if they knew that I was sharing Concept X with all of you. These same people and their institutions have had power for so long that they have successfully brainwashed whole generations of people into believing that what they see is what they get, to be satisfied with the status quo and to not stand up and challenge societal norms. At the beginning of this Presentation I said you were special, and you are. You may have told your friends and family that you are coming to this presentation and invited them to come along. If they  aren’t here with you now, they probably told you that they don’t believe in Concept X or anything like it. Or they told you that they were happy with their lives. They were not ready to receive Concept X because they will have to overcome a lifetime of brainwashing before they will even consider it.

Sadly there isn’t a lot you may be able to do for those people. You and I know the kind of pain and suffering that they are going through in their lives, but until they learn to recognize it themselves and honestly admit that they aren’t happy with life, they won’t ever come any closer to the truth of Concept X. But don’t worry, those people get what they deserve. They aren’t really truth seekers, they aren’t enlightened like you. You will always seek the truth and will never be satisfied with the narratives that were manufactured by powerful people and fed to you by society all your life. Those people are the living dead, the drones, robots, and sheeple.

Don’t be surprised when they see all the benefits and happiness in your life that you will have when you start really practicing Concept X, and they start to push you away in order to avoid the cognitive dissonance that is going on in their brain. You will be to them like an anomaly, they won’t be able to comprehend how you are doing what you are doing because you will be doing things contrary to their so called “conventional wisdom”. They will try to convince you that you are going to fail by embarking on the course you must travel in order to follow Concept X. They will reject your fervent pleadings that they join you in your joyous journey. When this happens, and mark my words, it will happen, it will be a sad thing, and you should feel sad that your friends and family aren’t joining you in this wonderful stage of your life, but don’t be afraid to cut ties with those toxic people in your life and seek to find better communities.

Perhaps you should start here, make some friends, share your joy in Concept X, exchange information, try to find people who live in your local area, and use each other as support for the hard times that will undoubtedly be in your future. Because things will be hard at first when you start to follow Concept X.

Concept X will change your life. Change can be hard. You may have to change everything. You may have to change your sleep schedule, you may have to cut your romantic relationships in favor of better ones, more in line with Concept X, you may have to change what you eat, you will most likely eventually have to quit your job and find a better occupation that will pay your bills. But you know what, it will be worth it.

In fact, the ways in which you may have to change are so numerous that I don’t think I will be able to cover them all in one presentation. You may have to get more specialized training especially if you are finding certain parts of Concept X difficult to understand. I’d love to be there through your entire journey into learning the ins and outs of Concept X, but you know, Concept X has opened so many avenues of possibility in my life that I could easily go make so much money elsewhere doing other things. But I don’t want to do that because, unlike those evil powerful people who want to keep this knowledge from you, I want you to be empowered like I have been empowered in my life. And so because this takes so much time in my life to do this kind of amazing work, I am offering many different workshops, books, and other media to go deep into the depths of Concept X and explain every last step of how to live your life. And I am offering you all of these at very reasonable prices considering the amazing benefits that Concept X will be in your life in the end.

I don’t want to leave you with nothing though. So I will give you the first principles of Concept X. Concept X, at its deepest and most fundamental core, boils down to these principles. “Follow your inner voice and stop buying into the corrupt philosophies that are being preached in popular society today. Focus on Love and banish fear from your life. And Avoid things you don’t want to do, Start doing things you really want to do.” You see, Concept X is just that simple. If you apply it in your life you are sure to find truth, happiness and fulfillment in life. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and look at the testimonials of the many people who have pursued Concept X with me in my life’s journey’s.”

I hope you enjoyed that despite the length. Actually, if you didn’t gouge your eyes out halfway through, or put your fist through your screen, I’ll consider you a person of above average restraint. Of course, if you just gobbled up the last 2000 words of garbage and think that I have some Concept X to give you… Well, then just please do us all a favor and… I don’t know what… Grow up?

Anyway, My thanks to the two guys who favorited my last post, they must have read at least enough of me to have the decency not to “follow” me per my request. One of them writes pretty humorous freeverse(? i’m no expert, correct me) poetry. The other one writes pretty insightful, not overly libertarian political writing. I don’t think I will be a devoted Follower, but I’ll drop by and comment/like/whatever sometime, provided I’m not swamped with prepping for the CompTia A+, learning to program C# and Java, or making and marketing various awesome kitchen gadgets.

The Audience

Life Isn’t Only Unfair, it is Composed of Bullshit

Genesis 37:3-5,8,11,18-20 (KJV)

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more…

And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words…

11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying…

18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.

19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

We often portray or view the other children of Israel as evil, wrong headed, etc… But really, I empathize with those old bastards.

Last week I mentioned I was going through the stages of grief… Well I may as well relapse. Over the weekend we had our Dog put down, a decision for which I will feel the sting of regret for months to come. It was a traumatic incident, and I didn’t even have the stomach to stay in the room for it. Let me just say that the dog did not go quietly, and also had lots of life left. I heard her cries of distress from the lobby as they tried to put the needle in. I had to leave. I got up and paced outside at the nearby park, fighting back the urge to vomit. We rationalized the decision because the dog is old, 17 human years, and recently had her third in a succession of strokes. The dog did recover from this stroke much faster than the previous ones and was up and stumbling about like usual after 2 days.

My regrets are more than just the decision the family made to have the dog put to sleep. We took the dog for one final walk in that park to calm the dog (she has not had any good experiences with the vet) and it hit me on that walk that we had not walked the dog nearly enough during her life. It also occurred to me that the dog was a lot less wobbly and imbalanced as we walked around the park. It was clearly not the dog’s time to go. But the decision wasn’t really mine, but my parents who were fronting the money for food and were tired of cleaning up the piss stains in the carpet. I will regret not being in a better position to adopt the dog and take better care of her in her final years.

As if that traumatic tragedy weren’t enough though, I recently had the opportunity to interview for a job. A Real JOB. Not this bullshit contract second class citizen labor that the corporate world is turning to in order to shirk benefit responsibility. I thought I had a good shot at it. My younger brother was in the same position that I was applying for, and he got it with no more credentials than a smile and an acquaintance with someone who works there. I, with years more college and work experience under my belt should be able to fill the same position. But alas, Yesterday, (Monday 22 June 2015) I was notified that the company went with someone else.

I have nothing against whoever got the job. But let me please just point out the Bullshit injustice here. I have gotten straight A’s all through highschool and college. I have never had an employer who has ever shown displeasure with my performance. I am markedly quick at picking up new skills, learning a job, and am trustworthy enough to operate without supervision. I have worked Shipping and Receiving, Facilities maintenance, Quality Assurance, two retail jobs, and logistics/material handling. All of my jobs, (except one of the retail jobs) lasted longer than a year. I have had no more than 6 sick days over the course of my entire working life. The most I have ever been paid is $14.50 an hour as contract labor with no real benefits to speak of.

My little brother, barely passed several of his classes in high school, has worked 3 jobs, all for a year or less, just barely started college, walked in and got a job for $15 an hour with full benefits, 401k and all. I don’t think he even pays rent to my parents (under whose roof we both currently reside)

My brain cries FOUL. Foul on the whole Universe. It goes way beyond this though, because I can’t declare that I am anything but lucky. For God’s sake, I have this magical device in my pocket that allows me to send a message out that could possibly be picked up by millions of people (if crafted well enough) Just today I put two small devices in my ears and listened to music that was provided for free, by artists who believe they can live on donations, or music that came along with the game I bought on sale. I have a computer that can play the game I bought. I have the choice to forgo future benefits to play games for immediate pleasure right now, right this fucking instant. There are people still on this planet who die of starvation while I can get lots of cheap food. There are people who die of diseases that I was vaccinated against years ago. The disparity between me and those poor bastards is as big as the disparity between me and the top 1% rich masters of the economy.

These facts alone make me seriously call into question any sort of divine karmic ledger. The universe just isn’t consistent in the whole efforts/rewards correlation category. Some people work hard, work to the bone, and die destitute, alone and miserable. On the other hand, there are others who also work hard, get rich, end up envied by many and are still miserable. Others, get lucky, manage the profits of their good fortune well. Still others, get lucky, and burn out like a flash in the pan. There are also some that live simple dirt poor lives, farming just enough to live, and spend the rest of their time telling funny stories to their friends about the crazy dream they had the night before after they ate the funny tasting berries, and they may be happy for all I know. Happiness isn’t correlated, with riches per se. It is correlated with having enough for what you need (Yes, I know about those studies, and the 70k wage etc…). And Hard work isn’t by itself correlated with financial success.

I guess what I am getting at is this…

I HATE MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS!!!!!!!1!1!!111!!!1111!!!!!!111!!!

I hate what they represent. A bunch of ninnies telling you that you can be like them, rich influential, and happy (supposedly). But There is no guarantee. Granted, you have to play in order to win the lottery, You have to work hard in order to take advantage of fortunate happenstance.

As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, the luck factor still exists, and I am pissed that we as a culture keep trying to ignore that elephant in the room. We keep trying to deny that shit happens to people, shit that is out of any individual’s control. We want to maintain this illusion that we have absolute control in our lives. Or, like the proverbial rich person, we can never be satisfied with what we have because of the residual fear of the unknown. We drive this path we think will lead us to impenetrable, ultimate safety, and in doing so, wreck everything for everyone else.

There goes my train of thought, itself wrecked and derailed by the other stuff in my life. But I will say this in closing. As “lucky” as I am… I am still miserable as shit most of the time. I have very little clue how I am going to finish financing my education. I am not looking forward to jumping back into the HR cesspool known as the United States Job Market in order to look for another golden opportunity (the likes of which landed in my little brother’s lap). My parents are getting pressure from their other children to kick me out to the curb ( other kids, living away from home: “You’re coddling him…” me: “I’M PAYING RENT! I’m Doing What I Have to in order to Survive. If I could have afforded a different living situation sooner, I’d be gone.”) and I’m not looking forward longingly at the inflated rental rates in this area. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Shit Happens.

The Audience

P.S. You know what galls me the most, I have to post this under pseudonym. If I posted this stuff widely under my real name, people would perpetually equate me with a grumpy sour puss and ostracize me from any working environment, permanently damning my life to poverty and despair. My apologies to anyone who’s real name matches that of my pseudonym, I’ll edit my about page to make clear that I am using a pseudonym. No one should be disparaged for the contents of this blog. More about motivational speakers in the next post. Stay tuned.

I’ve been busy, and depressed… I’ll be back

I know that I have been away from this blog for the last several months. I’m not here apologizing or asking forgiveness, not that there is anyone really to apologize to considering my audience consists of a broad Zero members. But I think I am beginning to get back into the mental space where I will have energy to push through the hard times where I would rather not write. These last several months I have been progressing through the final stages of grief. Ironically I didn’t even realize I was going through the stages of grief till I played this game from DigiPen game design college. It wasn’t some huge revelatory moment, there were no tears or emotional movement as I was playing through the final levels. I just realized at the end that the words accurately described the stages of my last year. I especially connected with the whole denial, anger and depression. I can’t recall all that much bargaining, particularly because I am losing my faith in any sort of will-bearing higher power that could intervene in my life, but that is another story. The other four stages really fit the bill.

When I moved home, well, moving home was not the intent. I meant to move closer to home to go to college in state where they had a better academic program for my interests. But everything fell through, and I ended up a lot closer to home than I would have hoped, living back under my parent’s roof with no income to speak of and no degree to boost my chances of gaining employment, an arrangement that I knew instantly would not work out well.

I denied for months that this was the new reality, trying desperately to pursue the original ill founded dream that brought me back to my home state. I searched for employment in a city hours away from where I was living, trying to clean up and make livable a place that was suffocating of mold, and still nearly an hour commute from the college. Employers wouldn’t consider me unless they were themselves a scam and a pyramid scheme. And as for the living space, it was not becoming livable any time soon.

I became angry. I became angry at myself for taking such a blind and risky leap, at my parents for their unwillingness (possibly inability) to even empathize with my situation as they dished out old economy advice, hell I even was/am mad at the economy, at shitty corporate entities who won’t pay their workers a livable wage. I became angry at, well, pretty much everything, except my wife.

To cope with the anger, I pretty much drowned myself in video games and depression. For the last several months I’ve had a chicken and egg argument going in my brain, does the depression make me play video games, or does the games make me depressed. It has been rather confusing and difficult to get out of. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those kooks trying to say video games are harmful, but I do recognize that I was using them in order to cope, the same as most people use drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress in their life. Just like I believe people can use drugs or alcohol in a positive and recreational manner, I believe the same is true of video games. I’ll admit now that I am starting into the acceptance phase that I was using video games in an abusive manner to hide away and keep from having to face all the shit my life has been going through.

And just a week or two ago, it is like the pressure has been lifted off my soul a little bit. Maybe it is the seasonal affective disorder wearing off, but I feel at least less like I want to eat a bullet. It could also be related to the fact that we are making forward progression out of the financial shit hole that we have been stuck in for the last year. My wife finally found a job that doesn’t appear to jeopardize her health and keeps at a manageable pace, but also affords us enough to rent a place (it will probably be a super small place once we find another one open up. But it won’t be under my parents roof : ) And I have a job prospect that will pay me a livable wage working for a corporation that doesn’t treat it’s employees like shit second class citizens by using third party contracting agencies that give no real benefits.

“But” you say, “Aren’t the stages of grief for when you lose someone close to you? Who died?”

I think in some part, my God died, or my dreams. I think that you can go through the stages of grief when you have a major paradigm change, part of you dies and makes room for something that perhaps you didn’t think you could live with. Anyway. So yeah, that is the gist of what I’ve been doing during this last year where I’ve made a grand total of what, 3 posts… I need to get back on the horse.. Oh, and I’ve been making these guys for funzies.

animation practice guy swaying animation practice guy swaying while blinking animation practice guy running right animation practice guy running left animation practice guy jumping right animation practice guy jumping left

(please note the detail that I actually put into these guys, the first four were done completely in a 32×32 pixel block before resizing… but I corrected the shading dependant on them facing right or left. notice that the last four aren’t simply mirror images, I even moved the antenna. just saying. not bad for my first pixel art animation attempt… This was mostly for practice so I can learn how to implement sprite sheets into a video game. Anyway, </distracted rambling>)

I have got a lot of projects at various stages of in brain development. This blog is one of them. I hope to re-design/ re-launch this place. I just have to find some good material. More on that soon. I promise.

The Audience

Of Mountains and Meritocracies Final

So what do I draw from this tale of real life?

As I mentioned in a past post, meritocracies have been on my mind for the last several months. In theory they sound great. Everyone starts at theoretical equality, everyone is given the same starter opportunities and whoever works the hardest or thinks the best rises to the top and commands the greatest portion of resources in a system, or in other words, the best player wins, the best adapted survive. In the United States we go on and on telling ourselves this great narrative of how our system is so meritocratic. We use all of these (outlier) rags to riches stories to bolster the anecdotal evidence in support of this narrative. We identify all of these ambiguous traits like will power, confidence, and tenacity, and assign these as the ultimate keys to success, then claim that everyone has an equal access to these keys. When scientists look into the data and identify what looks like an unconscious bias that disadvantages a group of people based on a trait that society accepts is outside the scope of personal choice, We re-scrutinize the data and pick out (outlier) individual datapoints that contradict the general trend and use it to loudly discredit the entire trend and claim once again that success is only reliant on those matters of personal choice. We will ignore everyone’s individual circumstances and declare that anyone can “make it” so long as they are willing to take on whatever load of debt and work load is required to both acquire the skills and squash their individuality by conforming to the societal norms enough to jam themselves into the succeeding trend. We will further ignore any claims that people don’t universally have access to sufficient decent/non-predatory credit.

I have a problem with this narrative. The first part of this problem is summed up by Alain de Botton in his TED Talk. When we believe in a truly meritocratic system we believe not only that the rich get rich on their merit, but that the poor are deserving of the shitty life they receive.

The second problem I have with this narrative is that, while the overall trend may be true in a super zoomed out way, that on average people who work harder generally float to the top of the social pyramid, on the individual scale, nothing can be further from the truth. No sustainable true purely meritocratic system really exists anywhere. Not in nature, Not on the internet, and certainly not as the US economic system.

I should define my terms though. What do I mean by pure meritocracy? I would define it as a system where the input and the result is 1:1, with no information loss. If I put one extra hour in of effort, I move one rung higher on the pay scale. If I study one class more and work hard and get a better grade than the next person, I get the better ranked position in life. This would have to be a rule of law without fault, simple input, simple output. Then there could be no interference of chance uncontrollable obstacle or employer’s unconscious bias towards tall people, which would weight the equal effort of one individual above another. There would also have to be no catastrophic accidents that could take all the effort one person had made and completely ruin it.

And this is where I bring it back to the mountain. Climbing the mountain is about as close to a pure meritocratic task as I could think of. You have a group of people and they can each determine how much effort they will put into climbing the mountain. They can climb at different paces, but so long as they are putting forth the effort to put one foot in front of the other, they generally gain altitude.

Yet, what do we see? The first time, the Leader, his son and I were clearly the best physically prepared to climb the mountain to the peak. Yet, while we were the best in our group, we still failed to reach the peak because there was a lack of overall group support. The second time, catastrophic accident that made it irresponsible to continue on, risking death. The third, ignorance, social pressure, and plowing ahead made the Deaf son and I end up on the wrong peak. Success, as defined by reaching the peak of the mountain, was not achieved.

I know it isn’t a clean metaphor (they rarely are). As I’ve continued working on this little blog series I’ve realized that there are plenty of holes in it. I could re-define success, I was at the head of the group so technically I was the best, and meritocracy carried me to the top. Another argument, just because I couldn’t make it to the top of the mountain doesn’t mean other people have made it to mountain tops, so it is easy for me to criticize a system where I am simply the looser.

Let me be clear. I believe that meritocracy is a macro-economic trend that doesn’t reflect the very real variables that fall outside of personal effort, such as accident, peer group, race, gender, etc… I still believe in it, but I don’t believe in using the meritocratic narrative to stomp on the face of the poor. There may be so many more reasons the poor person is poor than that they are lazy.

We live in a complex and emergent world and I am generally hesitant to jump on board simplistic narratives to explain patterns of human interaction. The way I see things going, I am a bit pessimistic. I believe things are going to get a lot worse, the trends i’ve noticed are not necessarily working toward peace, harmony and equity for all. The first thing I would suggest is to lay off the judgement of the poor, the misfortunate, and the disenfranchised of our society.

~The Audience

P.S. looks like the bot army has slowed down its subscription to me. Thank goodness.