Monthly Archives: January 2012
Show of hands – who here has gone on a date with someone they met online? That’s what I thought, I’m not alone! Ten years ago, I met many women through my Wednesday night karaoke routine. Every Wednesday night (and some Mondays/Fridays/Saturdays), I would close the karaoke bar. My confidence was through the roof during this phase of my life! I mastered the art of meeting people, not just women, and striking up a conversation as if we had known each other for years. I still count a few of those people as my friends even though I don’t get out much anymore. But I learned that chicks dig a guy who can sing and who approaches them with confidence while making them laugh at the same time. I learned much about the art of conversation because I met so many people each week.
I tell you all this so you can understand how unbelievably horrible my date from hell came to be. In the Spring of 2011, I became single again. It took me until the fall to begin looking around at all the dating sites available online. I created a dating profile on a couple of sites and sent out a few messages. Two things surprised me. One, the women who sent me messages were absolutely not my type! I’ve read that people psychologically choose people who they see as being roughly as attractive as they feel they are. If that’s the case, then I must be extremely overweight and horribly ugly! That was the type of woman responding to me! The messages I would send out to the hot women went unanswered, so I assume they were at their computer saying, “what the fuck is this guy thinking?” The second thing that surprised me was, the profiles people put up were not exactly accurate! Shocker! After having a phone conversation, and after one meeting for coffee, most of the people I met just ended up boring me. I couldn’t make a connection with anyone!
And then, the date from hell entered my world. I will call her “Lucifer” because I can’t remember her name. We agreed to meet at a bar/restaurant about half way between our homes. I arrived slightly early as I always do, and I sat at the bar with a view of the door. She came in and we had the normal chit-chat for about one minute. She then said, “I’m hungry, can we order some food?” Well, I really wasn’t planning on spending that much time with her as I had already made up my mind in that first minute that she wasn’t someone I’m interested in. So I responded politely with, “I hear the chicken wings are good here.” I’m such a wimp! She said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” Awesome! Maybe we can bond over chicken!
Then things got weird. As we waited for the chicken, she wouldn’t speak unless I asked her a direct question. Once the question was answered, she clammed up again. There was no, “I was born and raised on a turnip farm, and you?” It was just, “I grew up on a turnip farm.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”So, a turnip farm, huh? That must have been interesting.” ”Yeah it was.” Silence. Awkward pause. When the chicken arrived, we had that to talk about, so it was all good. ”So, how are your chicken fingers?” ”They’re good.” Silence. Awkward pause. Om nom nom nom. Then her cell phone rang. She couldn’t find it in her purse before it stopped ringing, but the call was from her son. She sat there staring at her phone for a few minutes obsessing over why he would be calling her. ”Maybe he’ll call back. I’m sure he’ll call back if it’s important. Did he leave a voicemail?” ”No. I don’t know why he called.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”I wonder why he called me.” ”I’m sure he’ll call back.”
At this point, I was wishing someone would call me and tell me my apartment was on fire and I was the only person on earth who was going to be able to save the puppies in all the other apartments. I finally just gave up and said, “Why don’t you just call him back?” ”Oh, do you mind? I really want to find out why he called.” ”Please, go call him. I’m good here.” So she reaches into her purse and pulls out her pack of cigarettes. I’ve dated people who smoked and I lived with a woman who smoked, but this go-around, I was making smoking a deal breaker! ”I thought your profile said you didn’t smoke.” ”Oh no, I smoke all the time – way too much.” Stunned silence on my part as I watched her take her smokes and her phone out to the designated area outside the bar. Roughly 10 minutes later, she comes back in and, without explanation, says “I think I have to go, is that okay?” ”Oh sure, that’s fine.” I was celebrating in my head that this night was mercifully going to end! ”Well it was nice meeting you, thanks for dinner.” And we’re back to stunned silence. ”You’re welcome.” No awkward pause this time – she was out the door! I sat there and started laughing. I’m sure the bartender thought I was crazy, but I was just so happy she was gone! I paid my tab and went home to see if there were any puppies who needed to be saved.
I now had a great story to tell people. One of the people I told was the next person I met online. This one was someone I thought was too hot to respond, but she did. After a week of e-mails and a two hour long phone call, we went on a date. We met at the bar next door to Go Bananas. I sat at the bar with a view to the door. She came in and she was even prettier in person than the one picture she posted online. We chatted for a few minutes, and then we went over to the comedy club. She sat down and picked up the limited food menu they had and said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” If she could have kept a straight face, I would have believed her. I saw just a hint of a smile as she waited for my response and then it hit me – I told her that story among the many things we talked about on our week of e-mails and two-hour phone call and she remembered it and used it against me! I’m going to marry that woman! No, really, I am! This woman is Alana, and the only way I can get her to read my blog is if I mention her! I put her at the end, so now she has been forced to read a story she’s already heard. It took me a while, but now we’re even for the chicken finger joke!
I recently updated my life insurance – wait, don’t go away! Keep reading!
I have considered this for quite a while, so actually doing it was an accomplishment! The whole process can be unnerving to say the least. The first step is the application where I try to remember what I lied about on my last application. My dad died of cancer at the age of 57. My oldest brother died from his second heart attack at the age of 57. My mom died from complications resulting from years of being type 2 diabetic. My oldest brother was also type 2. Genetically speaking, I’m a dead man walking! The only logical thing to do is to lie on the application. ”Has anyone in your family had cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome, or who is a chronic masturbator?” Nope! Especially not that last one – no one in my family! Okay, define “chronic.”
The next step is the health screening. They scheduled a home visit where someone would come and take my blood, weigh me, measure me, and ask all the same questions the application asked me about my health! The agent warned me that I should not consume alcohol for at least 72 hours before the test. I stupidly scheduled the test on the Tuesday after a 3-day weekend. That would mean no alcohol all weekend! I chose to reschedule for a Friday morning. I could handle that. They sent a dude instead of a hot nurse, so that was disappointing. His first words were, “Has anyone told you that you look like House?” I said, “Only everyone.” He took my blood, weighed me (giving me a generous 5 pound reduction for the sweatpants and t-shirt I was wearing) and confirmed my height. Then he asked the questions. For some reason, I decided to answer honestly! Son of a bitch! Well, I left off the oldest brother history, but everything else was the truth. My blood better be awesome because my family history is deficient!
So I waited for about a month for them to mail the blood work to me. It was like Christmas morning when it arrived! Everything was in the expected range. My Gamma Glutamyltransferase (Google it) was outstanding! My good cholesterol was very good, but my bad cholesterol was better! You should have seen my urine! It was a balmy 98 degrees and it was everything you want your urine to be. I started strutting around the house saying, “My blood is awesome, my blood is awesome! My pee is perfect, my pee is perfect!” Alana flipped me off – victory is mine!
I bought my last policy 20 years ago. I planned it to have a level premium that would last until I turned 60. I’m currently 50 years old and this policy will last me until I’m 80. My real financial plan is to be killed by a jealous husband when I’m 79 years old. If my kids still need a windfall from my life insurance when they’re in their 50s, then I failed them a long time ago. On the other hand, I plan to live forever so it’s kind of a waste of money to buy life insurance!
I wish I could take credit for writing this, so I’ll just have to be content with the fact that my son wrote it. Don’t just read it – do something to stop SOPA and PIPA! Little by little, the US Government has taken away our rights and freedoms by pretending to give us “safety” or because “we know what’s best for you.” Thomas Jefferson put it best - ”The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small élite” Keep giving up your rights and the country that you and your ancestors thrived under will not be there for your children and grandchildren!
What’s SOPA All About?
Hey there. I figure many of you lost your daily time-wasters from this SOPA blackout thing, so I’m inviting you to learn a little bit about what’s happening and why it’s important. Yeah, it’s long, but it’s easy to read, it’ll take less than 10 minutes, and I think you’ll have a much better understanding of why people are upset and how this affects all of us – not just us nerds working in the industry. I’m not here to preach and I’m certainly not starting a political argument; rather, I’d simply enjoy knowing that I helped some friends understand why this matters.
This is a complex issue that I’m about to boil down to its simplest form. If you’d like more technical information, it’s already widely available. Google it while you can.
In A Nutshell
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are new pieces of legislation targeting the very real and troublesome issue of online piracy. This has been talked about for some time, and copyright owners already have the means to pursue shutdowns on illegal content. If you want to see what they’re already capable of, go to atdhe.net, a site previously used to stream live American Football games.
What makes SOPA/PIPA different is that they aren’t designed to bring down the illegal content, but rather they’re designed to block the “facilitation” of accessing the content. In other words, censoring links, ads, and entire domains (anything .com, .org, .net, and the like). If you’re not going to read this whole thing, here’s the best way I can break it down:
- If you’re a romantic: This will censor our one truly free & open medium.
- If you’re a cynic: This will put the Web in the hands of people who make decisions with their wallets.
- If you’re a student: This will make launching a new career in relevant industries far more difficult and costly.
- If you’re a businessperson: This will destroy the Internet‘s current status as a vital economic tool.
- If you’re a developer: LOL SUCKS BRO
What It Might Do
Unfortunately, the way these have been written is so broad and uninformed that there is no way this will go into law without being abused. The average age of Senators and Representatives are 60 and 55 respectively, and primarily come from backgrounds in law and lower-level politics. Young people – how useful do you think a technology guide written by your parents & grandparents would be? Congress is applying provisions and regulations on an industry of which they have very little understanding. Sorry Dad, but your generation has no place in regulating the Web. None at all.
Here’s a bullet list of situations that are possible (others say probable, others yet say guaranteed) due to the technical ignorance of the authors:
- The US Government (Attorney General’s office, specifically) will be able to blacklist entire domains, meaning they can authoritatively decide that no one can link to ‘Site A’ at all, ever, regardless of whether or not the individual links lead to any copyright-infringing content. If you’re not in favor of censorship, this should piss you off.
- Sites like Google, Reddit, Facebook, and virtually anything with user-generated content will be forced to spend extremely valuable development time implementing new back-end techniques to ensure these links aren’t showing up on their sites. If you’re not in favor of hindering valuable American businesses, this should piss you off.
- Major copyright owners like MPAA and RIAA, known for sueing working-class families for hundreds of millions of dollars over trivial downloads, will also be able to get in on the action of serving court orders. They’ve taken advantage of every flaw in copyright regulation, and they’ll do the same with Internet regulation. If you’re not in favor of corporations abusing flawed policy, this should piss you off.
- New startups will have significantly more initial overhead (explained below), crippling the power of the Web as a business tool. If you’re against dragging down one of a small handful of succeeding industries in an otherwise bleak economy, this should piss you off.
What It Will Do
The most romantic notion about living in the Internet age is that it’s a truly free & open global medium. Any message can be communicated to the entire world. As soon as you allow our politicians to have any measure of control over it, the whole system becomes susceptible to lobbying and before long decisions are being made based on the weight of their wallets over our rights and best interests. We’ve seen it in plenty of other industries, and now they’re coming for the Web.
The Internet has also revolutionized commerce in nearly every modern industry. You don’t need a big music label to release your debut album. You don’t need Hollywood for millions of people to see your film. You don’t need a single physical store to sell your products across the world. This global connection is the reason why we see companies grow from a garage to a multi-billion-dollar corporation. The Web provides us with an accessible, low-cost, universal way of entering virtually any market.
This is very much in danger under the provisions of SOPA/PIPA. New startups couldn’t simply build a site and start making money. Instead, they’d be forced to implement costly censorship techniques, and pay exorbitantly for legal counsel that shouldn’t be necessary. This prevents the Web from being the business outlet that it currently is, and that myself and countless other young professionals in a struggling economy are banking on having a career in. One day I want to make my creative services available all on my own – if something like this is made law, I’ll likely end up doing so outside of the US.
What It Won’t Do
Here’s the real kicker: this will do virtually nothing to stop piracy. This system of blocking and censoring is one than can be easily circumvented by those who know what they’re doing. Hell, even if they block a domain entirely, I can still access the site with nothing but the IP address. I’ll spare you the more technical details – again, if you’d like to know more, Google it. But this is one thing I’m 100% on – supporters are promoting it as protection for American intellectual property, yet it provides none. This is what really infuriates me, as it will get the typical “This is for ‘murica, greatest country in the world” spin and instantly convince the lowest common denominator that it’s in their best interest.
What Do You Want Me To Do?
Look, I know as well as anyone that sometimes it’s just easier to pretend like something won’t affect you and ignore it. I do it all the time. I’m not a political activist for much of anything, and I’ve certainly never cared this much about legislation before. Maybe it’s getting older, maybe I’m selfish, maybe I’m just frustrated that this could even be considered a solution by the leaders of my nation. But I can’t sit back and watch this one happen, and I hope you won’t either.
I’m not going to send you to a bunch of sites and sources, you’re going to see plenty of that today. If you visit Wikipedia, you’ll get your representative’s contact info, and if you click the black bar over the Google logo, you can sign a petition. It will feel futile, but it’s pretty much all we have.
If you’re mad, stay mad, because the bill will be revised again and again until we forget it was even a thing and then they’ll sneak it right past us. They’ve already tried to kill the hype of the protest by announcing SOPA was shelved, even though the main sponsor has since said that work will continue on it in February. This isn’t going to happen soon, but it’s going to happen eventually if we don’t pay attention. And then you’ll just have to come with me to Australia or some shit.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions, ask away. I’ll be working from home today (a luxury I can afford thanks to the Web as it exists today) but I’ll hop on here afterwards to answer anything I’m qualified to.