Things that Don't Suck

Composed on the 12th of May in the year 2014, at 7:29 PM. It was Monday.

I wasn't quite prepared for my recent big break in the world of cantankerous wall-of-text blogging,1[1] but I think I handled it well, at least after I was expelled from my local bar for standing on the pool table screaming "I'M KING OF THE NERDS!" and pelting strangers with microchips.

Naturally, once I sobered up, everyone I know with skin in the publicity game started clearing their throats. I try to avoid eating my own laurels in my work, but in this case, it's a bit more than I can handle, and I've been pestering my more famous friends to pimp me out for years, so I would be an (even more) enormous hypocrite if I didn't return the favor.

So here is a non-exhaustive list of things that deserve attention more than I do, while I think of something else to write.2[2]

This Cat

My cat is obviously the most bestest amazing adorablest cat in the whole wide world, mostly because she thinks she's a puppy, so she has all of the "hi hi hi love me love me I love you I love you SO MUCH" of a puppy with the energy level of a house cat. She's famous for her low maintenance: just hold out your hand and she'll pet herself for hours with it. She even managed to melt the heart of my older cat, Cerebus, after he made several attempts to kill both her and me when I first brought her home. They cuddle all the time now, though if I catch them at it, Cerebus jumps up and stalks away with a snooty look, clearly trying to convey the sentence, "She just a bitch."

She's also a bit dim. For example, if Cerebus takes a dump in the bathtub, he's saying, "You forgot to feed me this morning, you useless twit." If Olive leaves a trail of excrement around the apartment, she's saying, "OH GOD HELP I JUST TURNED AROUND IN THE LITTER BOX AND THE SHIT SNAKE WAS ATTACKING ME AGAIN."

I don't know where Olive's ceaselessly affectionate and shockingly stupid temperament came from, but her broken tail came from being being stepped on after she was abandoned in a barn as a kitten. Fortunately for me, my aunt works with the Oswego Humane Society and rescued her, giving her the chance to spend a life of leisure teaching me the importance of always having paper towels and disinfectant nearby.

This Band

My first date with my girlfriend was at one of her shows, which means she always remembers precisely when it was while I have trouble pinpointing the season.3[3] The date went well, so when we got to the show part, I was desperately hoping they didn't suck, because dating someone who believes they have a talent they really don't is awkward and painful. I could have shrugged it off if I hadn't been playing piano and bass for ten years, but since I had, I knew my honest opinion would eventually be demanded, and if her band was terrible, my only recourse would be to slink away into the night and defensively proclaim that it was the best thing for everyone.

So my review of Sky Picnic is that I've been happily dating their bass player for five years, and I've seen them even more times than I've seen Primus. Here's a slightly longer review by someone who can actually write music reviews.

This Blog

I was annoyed to discover not too long ago that my brother's facebook fan page has more fans than mine, by a factor of infinity because I don't have a fan page. When you base half your identity on being a writer and your younger, less tech-savvy sibling who never showed much interest in writing gains the reputation in a year that it took you five years to scrape together, you kind of want to beat the shit out of him.

Since I'd already done a lot of that in my life, I refrained and quietly nursed my hate until I got my book out and secured the cracks in my bloated ego.4[4]

Anyway, it probably has something to do with him actually keeping to a consistent topic and knowing a whole lot about it. As a wine-somethinger (Sorry Sam, I can't keep track of or even spell your job titles) with a history degree, his blog peeks into history, science, and sociology through the lens of wine, and even explains why tasting notes are so weird, all while pointing non-wine snobs toward wine they'll probably like. A couple of my favorites, and you can find his cursed fan page here.

This Podcast

I virtually begged Marcus, one of my few famous friends, to pimp me out for years on one of his many comedy radio shows, and the one time he did it, after I bribed him with a claw-weapon-thing from the ren fair, he got the name of my website wrong and sent a few dozen people to stilldrinking.com, a domain I've been unable to buy for years despite it going nowhere. More to the point, he still hasn't read my book, and his last excuse was that he was reading Game of Thrones. For the second time.

So he's included here not so much because he needs it, but more because it's pleasantly passive aggressive to do for him what he never properly did for me. Also, he helped guide me home after the aforementioned bar incident.5[5] All that aside, Sex and Other Human Activities is amazing. Apart from being hilarious, it's probably done more honest good for confused people than I or most anyone will ever do.

This Glass

A few people misinterpreted Programming Sucks as me trying to say that programming is worse than all other jobs. I make no such claim, having worked most other jobs. The essay was really a response to Danny O'Shea, who is the person directly quoted in the opening, and I was only slightly exaggerating with the tunnel under Mordor bit.6[6]

Danny is a glass blower. He spends twelve hours a day shaping molten glass. With his lungs. He freely admits he doesn't exercise his logic circuits as often as I do in a normal workday, and that's because he has to use much of his brain to remind himself that if he inhales at the wrong moment, he might die. What bits he isn't using for that are spent shaping glass with the precision of a saxophone player doing Debussy, because the tiniest imperfection means another contribution to the fifty-gallon trashcan full of broken glass in every glass blower's workplace, which is another heaping pile of death waiting to happen. If OSHA existed before glass blowing, Danny's job wouldn't exist.

So for the record, Danny totally works harder than I do. Once a year, the glass cauldron breaks, and he discovers it by walking in the next morning and discovering the mixture he spent eight hours making the previous day has vanished, meaning the inner wall cracked and 3000 liters of boiling glass need to be drained out. So he spends that day essentially coaxing lava out of the emergency valve, until there's a giant pool of it in the middle of the workspace. He spends the next week explaining to all his customers there's nothing he can do until the glass cools, at which point he goes in with a jackhammer to clear it out. I've never visited on a jackhammering glass day, but my guess is it has never overlapped with Bring Your Daughter to Work day. Then, after the day is over, he gets to the bar for a few moments of peace, and if he dares try to tell us about his job, he has to deal with us snickering at him the whole time because one of the key tools of his trade happens to be called a glory hole.

Danny deserves better. So if you need some badass glasswork, Danny's your guy.

1 Click this if you came here looking for Programming Sucks.

2 Not included in primary list because I don't know the author personally so he doesn't strictly qualify for nepotism: this thoughtful response on why many programmers keep at it.

3 It was Springish. Maybe Fall.

4 Although if he publishes I'll just have to kill him.

5 "Genuflect, peasants! All your iBling are belong to me!"

6 Also, Danny has never shown me any genuine disrespect. We're drinking buddies, and if you're not giving your drinking buddies a hard time, you're not doing it right. Or you're one of those super nice, ultra-genuine people the rest of us don't know how to deal with.

Hey kids, do you know what this is?

Hi there! You should totally go buy my book for the low low price of 6.66! It's like buying me a beer at an out-of-the-way dive bar in Brooklyn! Not in Manhattan. Manhattan prices are ridiculous, though there are a couple of decent Irish dives where you can snag a drink for five bucks. Otherwise, you're looking at a two or three book beer.
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