The Gentle News

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They can’t get the best of you unless you let ’em

March 25th, 2010 · Potpourri

I wrote a new “Hire Me To Manage Your IT” craigslist ad. It was (if I do say so myself) beautiful. Honest, respectful, and up-front. Anybody could read it and know that I could help them out, without getting the sense that I felt they had to. Fees and expectations were expressed, along with my personality and genuine desire to benefit each other efficiently.

I hit submit, accepted the Terms of Service, and followed through to the verification page that uses a captcha-type image system to make sure I’m a human. I typed it as read. Hit submit again. Got the email to, yet again, verify that I exist in corporeal form by clicking a link. Success!

The posting did not appear on CL. I hadn’t copied the text I had written directly into the CL web form, so I couldn’t immediately resubmit it.

An hour has passed. Still not there, and the list of active postings in my CL account is still empty.

I can remember the two-word phrase the captcha-style verification form asked me to type. I can remember how good it felt to write that posting, hoping that it would make a few people smile, even if nobody ever responded. Even if someone did respond, but it never amounted to anything, billing-wise. I just can’t remember enough of it to recreate the posting. Oh, I’ll redo it, and keep a copy before I submit it. But it won’t be the same.

That two-word phrase I duplicated, like a one-off Gutenberg, meant to prove I’m worthy of displaying my offerings?

“piddled peace-”

I’m still smiling.

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Leadership: Collaboration or Debate?

March 19th, 2010 · Potpourri

This entry has been stewing for quite a while. Almost three decades, I would almost-but-not-quite argue.

I don’t debate. I have considered joining debate teams and clubs in the past, but something always kept me from doing so. It has taken me years to figure out what that something was, and now I have it: certainty.

I am certain that I don’t posses the conscious skill of manipulation necessary to purposely win a staged argument with another intelligent person.

I am also certain that I am too needy to risk losing the respect of people (hint: it’s almost everyone) I care about by embarking on a crusade to convince them that the way they think is wrong.

Lastly (but not finally), I am certain that the few talents I do possess are much better areas in which to focus my time than squaring off against other opinionated and certain human beings.

My favorite leaders in fantasy all exhibit this certainty to varying degrees. In no purposely particular order, Spock, Bones, Kirk, and Picard, though not immune to the attraction of a good argument now and then, ultimately rely on the collaboration of their trusted company above the outcome of carefully scored debate. If you can spot the possible exception among the four — the one of these things that ain’t like the other — then you’ve probably figured out why he’s my favorite character of the bunch, and I’ll fix you up a mint julep as a reward, you green-blooded son of a bitch.

I know I may have lost some of you there. Some people just aren’t wired to absorb the real-world inspiration I and so many other nerds glean from that admittedly cheesy and unbelievable future conceived by Roddenberry, complicated (not altogether negatively) by Berman & Pals, and supported by so many other big-name nobodies. I get that. Even take comfort in it. An obsession adopted universally is virtually indistinguishable from religious fundamentalism, and in my world that dog might hunt, but I won’t truck with it.

Regardless of whether you think Star Trek has made our world a better place, I’m the captain. I’ll admit that my ship usually has a complement of one, but I am certain that one is enough to make good things happen. This is not at odds with the idea that the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few. Or the one.

This all sounds a bit too egocentric, even to me, so I’m going to give it a rest for a while. However, I propose that moderate egocentricity is not intrinsically sinful. Nor is it a synonym for narcissism. Put your thesaurus away; it will lie to you if you trust it above your friends. The best advances in art and science came about because an egocentric person or group decided to stop being a starving, self-defensive genius and release at least a little bit of that ego upon the world in an effectively selfless manner. Be good to others without losing the ability to be good to yourself. Losing ground on either side of that has all kinds of possible outcomes that are decidedly bad for all. Remain conscious of the possibility of such unnecessary outcomes as cobainism, hensonism, godwinism, or possibly even the aforementioned fundamentalism. Take care of yourself and yours, support others when you can, and just tolerate the rest.

Don’t hate: actuate!

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Fifteen Complicated Things Everyone Should Do Without Seeking To

March 5th, 2010 · Potpourri

  • Develop an addiction and defeat it with the help of someone you love.
  • Disagree with a physician’s diagnosis or prescription and realize that such an event should not happen most times you visit a physician.
  • Watch a wealthy person confidently walk away without looking back after pressing the “auto-close” button on a door or hatch to their luxury car.
  • Judge said wealthy person harshly until they’re out of your sight.
  • Realize you might be a little jealous as they’ve left your sight and the door is still in the process of closing.
  • Notice a grammatical error while you’re typing it and remember by the time you’re through that it isn’t an error but a matter of style.
  • Leave that “error” because it’s how you write, and possibly how you speak.
  • Look back over your writing and notice another such usage mistake that you should have caught while writing it.
  • Leave that one, too.
  • Obsess over a well-known book to such a degree that some friends get sick of you talking about it.
  • Use “my dog ate it” as an honest and truthful explanation for why something turned out the way it did.
  • Correct a friend’s grammar.
  • Years later, remember correcting that friend’s grammar and call them to say you’re sorry you were such an asshole years ago.
  • Take a job you don’t enjoy because you need the money.
  • Enjoy some tiny aspect of that job enough to stick around longer than you originally intended.
  • Know the following: When to use numerals, when to spell out the numbers, and when to correct a friend’s seemingly incorrect count of an enumerated list.
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A Real Apology, Not An Open One

January 4th, 2010 · Potpourri

It has been brought to my attention by at least three people for whom I care very much that at least that number of people took offense to this post. Furthermore, I was subsequently (and perhaps irrationally) offended myself by the offending phrase in actual conversation.

If you were offended by the phrase in specific (or the post in general) and kept quiet about it because you felt I would irrationally fire back at you, then to you, I am sorry. Truly and sincerely sorry for offending you so much as to silence you before even noticing your tears.

If you are a member of my family, were offended by the phrase, and discussed it with another member of my family, then shame on me for not putting family first. Family is number one. To you, I am very sorry for putting you in a position where you were too hurt or confused to speak to me directly about it.

To B, my wife, my one and only, my companion, my favorite, I am most sorry. Sorry I hurt you through writing. Sorry I hurt you through yelling. Sorry I hurt you through confusing. Sorry I hurt you through whatever means I have, and then some. You are number one. You are family.

To those of you who read it and expressed to me your sorrow over the frustration, thank you for the well-wishes and prayers, but please join me in cheering up. It was never my intention to sadden, disgust, or offend anyone. The epithet was directed at mostly-inanimate objects of humankind’s creation: the Internet, money, music, etc. All the little things I need but can’t always have as much as I want.

For those who still do not know, both B and I have, since that post, become employed full-time. I am still retaining clients, and hope to someday soon go back to self-employment on a more permanent basis. But, first things first. I must take care of (and stick up for) my family. When there’s time enough for passion, I will rejoin that quest. For now, I’m doing my best to provide what I can. B is not any more happy with her employment status as I am with mine, but we are both working to make certain we do not miss any opportunity. We are helping each other stay strong in the face of each damned toad that says, “Sorry, Mario, but the princess is in another castle.”

And we love each other. All of it. If you don’t like that, then… well, I won’t say it. I won’t even think it. What I will think/say is this:

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Let’s make this one really cook.

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For Her

December 22nd, 2009 · Potpourri

As 2010 approaches, and Christmas is upon us, I place my love (and my crackers) in that closet you so painstakingly organize for me. You keep me pretty even when I’m not, clean when I’d rather be dirty, and honest when we both know that neither clean nor pretty is necessary at the moment.

I am yours for another cycle. May they continue to be measured in astronomical units neither of us understands rather than solar ones every human can count.

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