“Lists today are a way of trying to get through the day, because we are losing a sense of time.” -David Viscott

As many of the columnists from our parent’s generation seem bent on spending all of their mental efforts giving us weird labels such as “Millenials,” and generally disparaging of our ambition and efforts, we seem to have turned to each other for advice, though primarily through websites like Cracked and Buzzfeed. While I’m totally in favor of supporting each other, these columns tend to be in the list format usually reserved for Cosmopolitan magazine, to which I object. And so, in the face of “12 ways life is different after College,” and “7 things you only understand if you’re a 90’s kid,” I present:

6 reasons why we need to stop putting things in lists.

1. It’s pretentious.

These list-format articles are always written with a sense of finality, as if what the author has to say is the only thing that matters. This is pretty typical of an advice column, but that was in newspapers with establish columnists who directed their advice at specific readers who wrote in asking about a problem. While websites like Cracked and Buzzfeed have some writers who write consistently, a lot of the time you’ll never have heard of the contributor before. So you’re not taking advice from an effective stranger—you’re taking advice from a complete stranger.

2. It’s misleading.

The list format leads the reader to believe that the article is complete and needs no additional points, as if every problem can be broken down into parts and solved a little bit a time. Yeah right, that’s totally not how the world works. You need to try to solve everything at once and drive yourself crazy, like everyone else. Otherwise you’re not doing it right.

3. It’s unrealistic.

These articles trivialize actual problems, often giving too little attention to serious issues (like who to take on the Zombie Apocalypse) and too much effort is put towards ridiculous garbage (like harassment.) Wait, I mixed those up. Or did I? Anyway, the point is that a lot of the actual advice is oversimplified because people would rather write about how to defend from a raptor attack.

4. It’s recursive.

You may have noticed the previous three points are pretty similar, which is very much characteristic of these list-format articles. Contributors tend to only address general issues and/or useless information, about which you can only produce so much grandiose rhetoric. At the point which a real problem might actually have reached a resolution, these posts pompously prattle on about proper pronunciations.

5. It’s tedious.

After reading a few of these points, most people just tend to skim through the rest to see if it’s worth reading. I’ve done it myself: you end up just reading the titles of each section and skipping down to see if the next will hold your interest. You know you’re one of these people if you missed the raptor attack and the alliteration.

6. It cuts off without a conclusion.

Kind of like this.

Advertisements

“I think the person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money – has turned himself into a slave.” -Joseph Campbell

It’s a commonly held opinion that everyone should have to work in the service industry at some point, preferably when they’re young. Or at least, those of us who have worked in a restaurant or retail store think so. If this is news to you, you probably never had to work in a menial, customer service-based hellhole.

Working in a fast-food place, a pizza shop, a cafeteria, a coffee shop, or a warehouse-style hardware store teaches you some valuable life lessons, first and foremost of which is that people are jerks. I do, unfortunately, actually know this to be true because I have worked all of those jobs. Plus a few others.

It’s important to know people are jerks. You need to know that people aren’t always going to treat you well. You need to know what it feels like to have someone take their bad day out on you. You need to know that you didn’t do anything, and you don’t deserve it, but that it happened anyway.

And most importantly, you need to know what it feels like to take someone’s crap and not be able to retaliate.

Service industry jobs teach you what it feels like to be powerless in the professional environment. This is crucial, because you will carry it the rest of your life. When you deal with a waiter, or a cashier, or the person in the drive-thru window, you will remember what it was like to do that of job. You will understand that person, and maybe not give them such a hard time.

You will be amazed at how many times you use the empathy you learned through a customer-based position. I notice it constantly, even in my current position (which to be fair, Interpreter jobs are largely hourly and very customer-based), whether I’m answering the phone or explaining something to a patient, it’s a constant reminder of what kind of person we should all try not to be.

In fact, I would push this lesson farther: I think everyone should work healthcare positions too. You could probably say that people need to work any job before criticizing the person in that position, but I think working in a doctor’s office should be essential, and for one simple reason: When something goes wrong in a clinic you’re working with a person’s needs, not their food or their clothes. As much as insurance companies try to make it so, healthcare is not a commercial practice, not really. You know how people got upset in your restaurant job? In healthcare, they skip the “irritated,” and “angry” stages, and go straight to “furious.”

But hey, working as an interpreter has taught me some new ways to swear in Spanish, if nothing else.

******Challenge for next Thursday******

Give me an everyday object, and I will Haiku the crap out of it.

“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.” -Aristotle

I have mentioned that I spend a lot of time thinking about the future, and this is especially true in my current situation because I am saving money and waiting to be able to travel. The other day, however, my reverie was disrupted due to an altercation between my supervisor and another coworker.
The conflict itself didn’t surprise me, though it did escalate rather quickly, because these two individuals have never gotten along in the first place. No, what shook me was how much it bothered me that the workplace was disrupted in that way. Here I am, one foot out the door (though nobody knows that, so shhhh!) and somehow I was upset that things were changing.
Just to clarify, I am not referring to my annoyance and disappointment in regards to my coworker and supervisor. Those feelings were expected. What I wasn’t ready for was thinking, “Aw man, we had something good going here,” because I have always considered this job to be temporary.
I’m not trying to be too suspicious of these feelings, because I know that I am happy enough at my job and get along with my coworkers. Getting comfortable, however, scares me because I know how easy it is to stay in one place. My job is easy, the people here are easy, and I’ve gotten used to waking up early and driving here every day.
But I’m not challenged and I’m not excited. I do sleep easy and save money, and there’s value in that (literally, heh), but only because I see much brighter horizons around the corner.

 

“The best thing you’ve got going for you is individuality.” -Richard Thompson

We interrupt your regularly scheduled “Things that are weird” programming to bring you the newest in College-oriented personality-substitute technology!

Is your personality flat, easy to overlook, or mind-numbingly dull? Do you lack the pizzazz that your friends and family so effortlessly exude? Do you want to stand out in a crowd, but not have to work too hard?

Introducing Dickendustries’™ 2015 line of College Uniform Personalities! Guaranteed to make-you at least 30% more interesting! These easy-to-acquire personalities will set you apart while simultaneously lumping you into a large group of people!

Stop wasting precious time skipping class just to find yourself! Use one of our patent-pending Uniform Personalities, and you can resume using that time from skipping classes to get drunk!

Returning for our fourth year running, the classic and classy, Hipster Guy Uniform (Summer Edition)!

stock-photo-young-handsome-man-with-a-camera-dressed-in-the-style-of-hipster-129620081

 

Our “Hipster Guy” has become quite the standard for young men in college, and never fails to give off the “I pretend not to care though actually I really, really do, but that’s because I’m an artist and have intense feelings” vibe. Drives ’em wild every time!

How is this Summer Edition you ask? Well, we’ve made slight modifications to the well-known and well-loved 2014 model. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to roll up those sleeves or unbutton those collars!

Worried the summer heat will mess up your painstakingly tousled hair? Not anymore! The 2015 model comes with the sides of the head shaved, or even everything shaved but the top! Swap out your off-colored skinny pants for some off-colored shorts, and you’re golden. Also, Ray Ban thick-rimmed glasses can be replaced by Ray Ban thick-rimmed sunglasses, though both are still optional.

“But Dickendustries®!” You exclaim, “I just graduated this year, though I’m not moving away. Also the gallons of beer I drank have ruined my skinny-hipster-guy figure!”

Don’t you worry, citizen! Dickendustries© has a Post-Graduation Personality option that has you covered! Plus you get to keep on boozing with our Hipster Brewer Guy Uniform Expansion Pack!

Matt-Shotick-Brewmaster-Portrait-Series-Copyright-2011-Aaron-Ottis-0452

 

Swap out that flannel for an obscure baseball-tee and find a Craft Brewery to either work at or hang around, and you’re set! Don’t know of a local Craft Brewery? Ask next door, go down an alleyway, or look under the stairs, because they’re just popping up everywhere. For those few who can’t find a local brewery, start making your own beer or just start talking about making your own beer!  You can’t go wrong!

Next, just in time for Summer, the Yoga Girl Uniform!

our-fabulous-new-nightwear-aw11-products-L-OrsJ8Q

 

Whether you’re at the grocery or just sipping a Macchiato at Starbucks, you’ll always look like you just came from a workout! Designed to be incredibly easy to pull together, the Yoga Girl personality requires very little upkeep. Plus you get the Yoga Pants Effect from men and women everywhere you go! Talk about Hot Yoga!

This Uniform also has a wide range of adaptability! Just add a North Face jacket and a pair of boots that look like they are made form the gutted remains of a Teddy Bear, and you get this:

iH6zoUE

 

Dickendustries© Preppy Girl Fall Expansion Pack! This Uniform has longevity and practicality! You can stay warm without giving up the Yoga Pants Effect! Plus it’s only complimented by a Starbucks cup.

“But Dickendustries™!” You exclaim again, “My friends and I aren’t soulless clones! We don’t want to be confused with every other girl on campus, though we do want to be able to share each others’ clothes. Also big brand names are the devil!”

You’re right, big brand names are the devil*! Which is why we offer a secondary Expansion Pack, the One With the Universe Personality:

images

Switch out those close-fitting Yoga Pants for a flowy Mermaid skirt, wear your grandmother’s jewelry and stop shaving your legs! This Uniform is good all the way through Fall, and when it cools off you can simply add countless second-hand or hand-made sweaters. Tattoos and Piercings are optional, but highly recommended!

Hope you’ve enjoyed your sneak peek at Dickendustries®’ 2015 line of College Uniform Personalities! Remember, individuality is overrated!

——————————————————————

*= Unless it’s our brand.

 

“A piece of spaghetti or a military unit can only be led from the front end.” -George S. Patton

Happy Memorial Day!

Since this is a holiday, I figured I’d use this time to update you on the blog. Not to Clear the Air will continue it’s meandering course and continue to update every weekday, don’t you worry (I know some of you were worried.)

I’m introducing a couple of new elements, the first of which is the “Navigating the Blog” page (found at the top of my blog, next to “Home” and “All about the Blogger.”) This page explains the categories which my posts have been and will continue to be sorted into, and hopefully help you, the reader, find similar posts to the ones you like. You can visit the “Navigating the Blog” page at any time and click the name of the category, which will link through to all the posts in that category. The categories themselves are also found on the right side of the site if you’re reading this on a desktop.

The second element has already been kind of introduced, which is the “Challenge” category of posts. I am planning on doing a challenge post every thursday, and providing prompt for the next week’s challenge at the same time. (This coming Thursday won’t be a challenge, but I’ll give you a prompt for the next week.) Please, please, please respond to my prompts for challenges, because otherwise it’s kind of a useless effort. Kind of like the rest of the blog. Also, you have ideas for challenges, just leave me a comment either on WordPress or Facebook or Twitter. I will find it.

Anyway, that’s all I have for the update.

Oh, and in the spirit of Memorial Day I have some military funnies. If you’re like me, Memorial Day is excellent because you get a three day weekend. Oh, and you support the troops and stuff, because it’s unpatriotic not to.

(Click the photo to get to a funny Cracked.com article. What? Did you expect me to work on a three-day weekend?)

Humorous Military funny picture (217)

An open letter to the Texas judicial system

Dear judiciary of Round Rock, Texas:

First off I just want to say thank you and well done. Nineteen-year-olds making pot brownies and generally making stupid choices used to keep me up at night, but now that you’ve finally apprehended the menace named Jacob Lavoro, I can sleep easy.

I’ve heard some criticism about your 5-year-to-life ruling, but I wanted you to know you have my full support. Those naysayers are spouting silly technicalities like how there’s no precedent for the ruling, or that you weighed the baked goods as a whole in order to make a more severe ruling, but it’s all a load. Those idiots probably live in one of the 21 states (or Washington DC) which use marijawana for medicinal purposes. Two of them even use the demon-weed recreationally! Damned hippies.

No one else seems to understand that in Round Rock, a city with less than 100,000 people and with nearly 200 violent crimes and nearly 3,000 property crimes per year, you have to be hard on all transgressors. You can’t let your law enforcement and legislative powers get soft. Hell, you should probably just give all crimes the same sentence, ‘cause everything’s bigger in Texas. God bless America!

Sincerely,

A true American and fan of your work.

P.S. I was disappointed to see what my favorite news station, Fox News, had to say about the Lavoro case. I thought they loved America as much as I do. I think they’re getting a little too liberal for me .

“This totally counts as a legitimate post because I told you it was going to happen ahead of time.” -Me, just now.

A week ago I challenged you, the reader, to provide me with any combination of an everyday object, a concept, or pretty much anything you can imagine, and I promised to turn them into metaphors. You had the weekend to leave a response for me.

We’ll start off easy. Here we go:

1. Dictatorship/A clowder of purring kittens (pairing submitted by Christopher)

Dictatorship is a clowder of purring kittens: it sounded like a good idea but then you made a wrong move and it’s all tiny, razor-sharp needle-claws.

2. Transubstantiation/moldy gym socks or a snotty tissue (pairing submitted by Ian, who is determined to get me in trouble with any Catholic readers I have. This is the least offensive thing I came up with.)

Transubstantiation is accepting someone’s snotty tissue: symbolic of trust, but touching the actual product would make you cringe.

3. Beyonce/A box of Cheerios (pairing submitted by Austin, who is determined to get em in trouble with Beyonce fans, i.e. pretty much everybody.)

Beyonce is the Cheerios of modern music: objectively the best around, but never as exciting as you were promised.

4. Funding for the Arts/A paper napkin (pairing submitted by Kent.)

Funding for the arts is a single paper napkin at a restaurant: Not enough to do the job and it’s a huge production when you inevitably must ask for more.

5. High School Prom/Scientology (pairing submitted by Kent, again.)

Scientology is your High School Prom: most people recognize its not as important as they were told, but some people get really into it and never seem to let go.

6. topsoil/Millionaire bigotry (pairing submitted by Kent, who missed the memo where I said “one per person.”)

Millionaires are the topsoil of our economy: the richer the ones are mostly full of shit.

7. the 9/11 terrorist attacks/nose hair (pairing submitted by Kent, who is apparently determined to get me in trouble with the NSA. Fun fact – they make up most of my readership.)

9/11 is the nose hair of America: terrible when it first happened, but we’ve reminded ourselves of it so frequently that we just can’t work up the energy anymore.

There we go! If any of you readers are still following me, I’ll be back next week!

“I think Australia has to be a country which has the ‘Welcome’ sign out.” -Paul Keating

On Monday I mentioned that Australia has some of the craziest animals to be found on dry land (Don’t even get me started on the Lovecraftian horrors found in the ocean again.)  So it should surprise no one that Australia has been on my mind lately, which is because one of their universities is second on my list for graduate school. But anyway, I figured it might be fun to visit some of the delightful fauna of this continent, which will put you six feet down-under.
Okay, yeah, that joke was bad. But seriously these things will straight up face-murder you:
Picture 197
This is a Sydney funnel-web spider, and it is now part of your nightmares. It can get up to 5cm wide (which is roughly 2 inches if your country is like mine and has a terrible measurement system) and has enough venom in one friggin’ bite to kill a human being. Good news though, it’s only found in a 100km radius of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. But if you live there, I guess that’s bad news.
url
Snakes. Holy crap does Australia have snakes. This is the Inland Taipan, otherwise known as the most deadly snake in the world. One bite is estimated to have enough venom to kill 100 fully grown men.
box-jellyfish_482_600x450
This is the Box Jellyfish. Their nickname is “sea wasps,” and everyone knows wasps are evil. Box jellyfish are some of the most venomous creatures in the world, and have been known to leave huge, disfiguring scars on survivors.
blanket_octopus
Tag teaming with the Box Jellyfish to prove that all things terrible come from the depths of the ocean is the Blanket Octopus. This piece of hellspawn rips poisonous stingers off of Man O’ War Jellyfish and kill things with them. Also they can get up to two meters (6.6 feet for us unfortunate colonists.)
Okay, no more, I promise. Please take a minute to finish quaking in fear.
Better? Good.
So yeah, Australia is pretty much where all terror resides. Between the wildlife, the heat, and the fact that only like half of the continent is even habitable, the people of Australia have to be the hardiest, don’t-give-a-crap badasses to have ever lived. If Hell literally broke loose in Australia I don’t think anyone would notice. The locals would just show Lucifer a Sydney Funnel-Web Spider and he’d run screaming. And his demons would all be killed by drop-bears or something, I dunno.

“Maturity is a high price to pay for growing up.” -Tom Stoppard

When I was four years old, my best friend was lost at sea.
Winnie the Pooh was one of my favorite shows in the first few years of my life. This is largely because I liked anything my older brother liked, and he liked Winnie the Pooh. My brother had a stuffed Pooh, which I am pretty sure he literally loved to pieces, so it wasn’t long before I had one as well. Mine was only about 8 inches tall, but he was perfect for me.
I took that little guy everywhere. I even took him on family outings, like when we went camping in Dunes State Park. Throughout the trip he was dirty, he was wet, and he was buried in sand.
But I didn’t expect him to get lost.
My parents suggested my bear floated across the water, to another young boy, and was loved. I knew this wasn’t the truth, but it helped.
Between the ensuing torrent of tears and the time that has passed, I forget whether my little bear was actually claimed by the water or simply left at the campsite. I forget his exact size, though I’m sure he was smaller than I remember, as childhood things tend to be larger in our minds. But I will not forget my sense of loss.
It wasn’t the stuffed animal I missed. I was given another Pooh Bear, full-sized like my brother’s, only a few months later for my fifth birthday. This second bear I loved as well, but it wasn’t the same. I had learned that my friend had actually just been a toy, a thing, an object. And objects can be replaced.
Yet I still felt something was missing, that I had lost more than a stuffed bear. It was as if, by losing my Pooh Bear and learning it was just a thing, I had lost a friend that I could never regain. I had lost the potential to have that type of friend ever again.
I think that our first attachment is very strong, whether it’s to a blanket or a pillow or even a Pooh Bear. When the bond is broken, and it is broken one way or another, we learn the difference between a person and a thing. But I have to wonder if some people end up learning the wrong lesson, and keep trying to fill the hole in their lives with possessions. I can’t find it in me to blame them, but I wish they knew the truth.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t get my Pooh Bear back.

“Don’t point that gun at him, he’s an unpaid intern.” -Bill Murray, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Like many of you and, well, pretty much everyone, when I was younger I was introduced to the platypus, Australia’s strange aquatic mammal that looks like it’s made up of spare parts. I spent most of my childhood thinking, “well, that’s gotta be the strangest animal in the world.”
Feeding_Platypus_(6811147158)
Can you blame me? Look at that thing. It’s got a duck’s bill, a beaver’s tail, and webbed feet. Plus it can release venom through spurs on its hind limbs during mating season. Even though these are all practical evolutionary aspects for the platypus’ habitat, it’s still a pretty crazy-looking animal. What child-me didn’t know yet was that the platypus isn’t even the weirdest thing living in Australia (They have five out of the top ten most venomous snakes!), not to mention the whole planet.
As we’re all aware, there’s a whole lot of strange and scary stuff in the ocean, including the Mantis Shrimp, and that’s just from what we actually know about. We have only discovered about 5% of the ocean, and it’s already scaring the pants off people. Our planet is 71% water, and who knows what’s out there?
On that note, I present this thing:
gross-living-rock-things
Mother Nature, you crazy.
This is a Pyura chilensis, which is also called a “living rock.” No, that’s not photoshop. Aside from looking like a rock filled with someone’s intestine, Pyrua chilensis is an animal that eats microorganisms by filtering them out of water it sucks in through its ground-beef-esque skin, and produces a rare mineral called vanadium. The local people of Chile and Peru put it in stews or even eat it raw. What?
If you’re asking yourself “What did I just read?” Congratulations, you are sane. I’m all for trying local cuisine in new and foreign places, but this is even a little out of my comfort zone. Plus tourists describe it as “bitter” and “soapy” and “having a weird Iodine flavor.” So yeah, not on my list of snacks at the moment.