Category: Annoyances

February 4th, 2015

Here’s a bit of truth.

Time is limited. The things we want to do require time, and that time is not infinite. Our bad habits take time. Moving from place to place takes time. Sleep takes time. Eating. Sulking. Living. Ambition. It all takes time.

Aspirations, however. They don’t take a lot of time. They just require an active mind. Aspirations lead to great things. Aspirations lead to groundbreaking projects and pure joy and unbridled excitement.

Aspirations are timeless.

Putting them into reality, though. That takes time.

The value of those aspirations, the quality of our eating and sulking and living, the strength of our ambition – these things are all varied. They can all be debated and fought over. But time is limited. That much is truth.

I’ll go on.

A Problem

Over the past decade, I’ve seen a pattern in the people I respect.

They look for good. They admit when they’re wrong. They challenge things, and they further great causes – and when they can’t, they support those who can. They get less prolific, but they get more focused. Quality over quantity. Signal vs. noise.

They don’t feel the need to be everywhere at once. They admit when they’re overwhelmed. They balance their life. They make time for the right things.

They know when to disengage.

Me, however? I was having a hard time disengaging. I was part of the mid-00s blogosphere. I found a voice before I had learned moderation, and I loved being a part of something so big that I couldn’t bear to lose it. I was too afraid to disengage.

I wanted to connect with everyone. In doing so, I never formed a real connection with anyone. I pinned things in maps.

Some of those pins were valuable. They became friendships.

Some of those pins were redundant. They were my existing support, and they’d have been there without the map.

Some of those pins angered me. They angered me with their assumptions. With their transparent lousiness. With their pretentiousness. Things you can’t comment about on the internet, because even the most well meaning grapes seem sour when spelled out in 140 characters.

But the pins that angered me stayed on my board out of obligation. If you ask me what I’m most embarrassed about in the past five years, it’s that I kept my friends close, but I kept my unrelated annoyances even closer.

A Solution

I have aspirations, and those aspirations require action, and that action requires time, and I was spending too much time was spent wondering how in the hell that person has the nerve to be so transparently arrogant and why is this person actively channeling what seems like an overly sexist and naive line of thinking and oh my god I can see through the mindlessness and carelessness of this messaging so why can’t anyone else.

My aspirations were taken hostage by people who I thought I needed to care about. There was so much noise.

And then I had a weird and obvious moment of clarity, when everything came together – a few minutes after a rant about someone I barely know on a social network I barely liked. That’s when my friend Eileen asked a simple question.

“Why don’t you stop following that person?”

I mean…


So I did.

An Action

I unfollowed one. And then another.

Every time someone would raise my ire, I would examine that ire. Is this a one-time disagreement? Or is this just another in a long line of things that I’m irrationally angry about, another drop in the bucket of a relationship that, while beneficial or important in some superficial way, is ultimately bound for failure.

If I found myself getting frustrated over and over again? I unfollowed them.

I left Facebook altogether, which meant I left Foursquare. I left Timehop. I left everything that was tied to Facebook, and with that noise cancelled I began looking further out. I stopped worrying about everyone else.

I started worrying about me. Not selfishly, but practically.

And, with the support and backing of my friends and family, I have transformed that worrying into productivity. No longer comparing, fuming, fighting fights that weren’t worth winning. So much more time to do the things I love. So much more peace.

Change came not from new insights, but from the absence of some old ones.

A Resurgence

I have started writing again. I have started booking speaking engagements. I was on a year hiatus that, in some part, was fueled by the frustration of being a part of a toxic rat race of being The Most Right.

I am thankful that I am still an unknown entity, because I can use Twitter to my own specifications, unencumbered by random responses and thread-jacking.

Most of all, I’m thankful that I can somehow balance being both unapologetic and deliberate. That I can let go of someone and not care. That I can give myself space. That I can turn things down without guilt.

I have aspirations, and I am turning those aspirations into action. Because time is limited. Because my attention deserves more. Because I don’t need to be a part of everything.

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November 30th, 2011

I have an issue with the word “evolve,” primarily in the way it’s used for individual shifts in thought or process: “My view has evolved,” or “Our process has evolved.”

The word “evolve” has two similar but very different meanings. One, “to develop over successive generations as a result of natural selection,” is the traditional scientific definition of evolution. The other, “to develop gradually from a simple to a more complex form,” is simply a synonym for “change.”

One plays verb to the noun that is “evolution.” The other is misleading – it’s nearly the opposite of evolution. Saying your view has evolved, or that your child’s vocabulary has evolved, indicates that one single thing has shifted and changed and improved over time. Evolution, however, is not concerned with individuals: it’s the shift through generations of genes via the theory of natural selection.

Evolution doesn’t mean a thing just CHANGES, like a monkey becomes a man overnight. This isn’t Kafka. There ain’t no cockroaches under that bed.

When you hear ill-advised rebuttals of evolution based on things like “I didn’t come from no monkeys” or “How can the eye have just evolved to what it is – that’s nearly impossible!” I fear that the concept of evolution is being watered down thanks to the accepted use of “evolve” as a synonym for “shift” or “change”.

Evolution takes a very long time. That’s kind of how it works. It may take 30 generations of humans to weed out a faulty trait. Or longer. But, in terms of geologic time, it’s merely a blip, and it’s this relative spacing that keeps us from evolving … ahem … clarifying our view on evolution.

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November 3rd, 2011

Hey, you guys remember that time when a spammy ad site contacted me about monetizing my blog by selling banner ads on a post in which I wrote about how my grandmother has cancer and how bummed out that made me?

Pretty fun, huh?

Fuck You

The Internet, AMIRITE? So lol-tastic.

Ugh, and here I am with only two middle fingers. LIFE IS NOT FAIR.

Category: Annoyances

October 11th, 2011

Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are built upon the concept of traffic.

The goal of the daily deal site is to increase site traffic by offering amazing deals in a short window of time. The goal of the client – the company featured in the deal – is to increase traffic in the store by providing half-priced meals or spa visits.

The majority of these clients – especially those in our area – are new and/or small restaurants. There are no Burger King or McDonald’s deals; instead, the emails are for the new neighborhood bistro, or the 20-seat enchilada restaurant.

The selling point of these daily deal sites is the promise of increased traffic. The assumption is that increased traffic will eventually lead to repeat customers. Salespeople make their case and small restaurants – most of whom have no one on staff responsible for serious marketing – buy the line.

And then, there it is. Spend $15 and get $30 worth of food from your local Indian restaurant.

That’s a huge discount. Offering a fifty-percent cut on a meal, in an industry that makes on average four cents of every dollar in profit, means you are giving away your food for free. Not just a sample, either. An entire meal. And, as AmEx’s Open Forum reported, only one in five of these people are returning to make a full-price purchase.

A client giving away their craft for the promise of exposure, while the daily deal site profits.

That, my friends? That’s serving food on spec.

Which helps narrow down why I get so annoyed with daily deal sites.

April 11th, 2011

Without fail, there is one argument I find myself involved in with every site I test: LOGIN is not a verb.

You do not “login” to a website. That’s just not a word. You “LOG IN.” “Login” is a thing. That’s the login, which is where you log in.

Next time, I refuse to have the argument. Next time, thanks to The Lone Gunman, I can simply direct the offending party to this site:

Despite what many people –mostly in the computer field– think, “login” is not a verb. It’s simply not. Whether or not “login” is a word at all may spark a debate in some circles, but assuming it is then it may act as many parts of speech, but not as a verb.
I will repeat the important part for clarity: “login” is not a verb. It’s simply not.

Case closed. I hope.

February 10th, 2011

Let’s talk for a second about what’s expected of us when something great happens to someone we know.

For background, I present Mike Greenberg, co-host of Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio.

Greenberg, who tends to take offense at everything, wondered aloud why, after Green Bay’s Super Bowl win, Brett Favre hadn’t bothered to call and offer congratulations, specifically to Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

To which I wonder aloud, “Why should he?”

Why does a player need to call his former team to offer congratulations? He had nothing to do with this current incarnation. He has no connection other than a playing history. With that argument in mind, why didn’t Ron Jaworski call Aaron Rodgers? Or Mark Chmura? Sterling Sharpe?

When you win the Super Bowl, or the World Series, or the NBA Finals, or any individual sporting event, there are certain expectations when it comes to congratulations. You get a call from dignitaries, and from the commissioner, and from friends you haven’t talked to in years and will never talk to again.

The problem: when it becomes expected, it no longer means anything.

If I suddenly turn around and win the French Open, I expect a call from the President. If I don’t get it, I’ll be disappointed.

“Why didn’t he call me?”

Because he didn’t HAVE to. Support and joy don’t need to be VOICED to be TRUE. And relationships don’t need to be conjured in the name of success.

Brett Favre didn’t say “congrats” because he didn’t want to. He doesn’t have a relationship with Aaron Rodgers. He played for a division rival last season. He feels wronged. He is his own person. It doesn’t matter why.

Let’s stop pretending like adoration is a commodity.

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January 28th, 2011

Hey, let’s not get the idea that I only think about web passwords, because I don’t, despite this being the second consecutive blog post about web passwords.

But, you know, sometimes companies do it wrong.

Background: I sometimes forget passwords, especially those connected to sites I rarely visit. When that happens, I usually just click the “retrieve password” link. That’s what you do. That’s just how it’s done.

Often, password retrieval is a simple process. They send a message to the email associated with the account, and you click the link, and you reset the password, and then you get into your account, and hooray!

Perfect. Especially if you’re the only person with your email password. And ESPECIALLY if you’ve taken time to make a good email password, because that’s an ACTUAL account that deserves major protection, and one you should rarely forget because it’s YOUR EMAIL and there’s a good chance you have to enter the password every two days.

Other times, you’re required to answer a “security question” before getting your magic email. Such as “What is your dad’s middle name?” or “What is your waist size?” or “What did you drink the last time you threw up?” One question. Then, you get your password.

This is common with sites that need a lot of extra protection. Banks. Credit cards. Airline mile programs.

NO SERIOUSLY. Airline mile programs.

Enter Delta.

As with any airline-related web property, Delta’s site is bogged down with extraneous security and over-written drivel. It’s like one of those collections of legal books you see behind most personal injury lawyers has BLOWN UP and reanimated itself as a website.

I forgot my airline mile password, because I usually don’t care about my airline miles. I hopped in to reset my password and was greeted by a new step: selecting security questions.

Security questions are designed to offer security via a person’s history. The assumption is that the answers are known only by the person accessing the website, and are therefore more secure than an address or zip code or whatever. Also, they’re easier to REMEMBER, because they are a part of our personal history.

Delta, however, attempted to make this process as difficult as possible.

Issue Number One

First, I had to select TWO security questions.

Security image number one

Answers must be AT LEAST 4 CHARACTERS LONG, for some reason. Also, let me remind you, I was logging in to check airline miles. Miles that I can only use as Corey Vilhauer. Miles that do not need to be double protected, because they are useless unless I have a hundred thousand of them. Which I don’t.

Whatever, though. I chose the first one (“What is your father’s middle name?”). Then, I tried to choose the second. And I couldn’t.

Issue Number Two

Security image number two

I couldn’t because I was unable to nail down definitive answers to any of the remaining questions.

Understanding that these are security questions, I needed to be fully sure that the answer I gave then was an answer that can be replicated later on. The problem is, I couldn’t guarantee I’d be able to do that.

None of the questions related to DEFINITIVE answers:

1. What was your first phone number? Do I enter with dashes or without? With or without area code? Will I remember which one I did six months from now?
2. What is your paternal grandmother’s given name? I couldn’t remember this at the time. I know it now, but that wouldn’t have helped much.
3. What was your favorite place to visit as a child? I had several. How will I remember which one?
4. What is the name of your first pet? We had a dog and two cats growing up. I don’t remember which was my first, and I sure won’t remember which one I chose six months from now.
5. Where did you meet your spouse/partner? We went to high school together. Will I remember if I say “high school” or will I assume it’s something more detailed, like “biology class?”
6. What is the name of your childhood best friend? I had three very close friends. Which one will I choose?
7. What is the phone number you remember most from your childhood? Is this even a real question?

I decided to choose the last one (“What is the name of the first school you attended?”) Even then, I knew I wouldn’t remember if I answered “Lincoln High” or “Lincoln High School” or “Lincoln.”

Security item number three.

Issue Number Three

Which brings us to the last issue. The only question I could definitively answer, I COULDN’T ACTUALLY USE.

My father’s middle name is “Lee.” Three letters.


Why can’t this have been easier?

In issues of security, definitive answers are required. These wishy-washy security questions are unusable and frustrating, and the character limit for answers is misguided.

The solution is to allow a user to create BOTH the question and the answer. In my case, I could have said “Full Name of High School” and the answer would have been “Lincoln High School.” No ambiguity. I make the rules.

Instead, I fell back to a makeshift solution: I wrote the answers on a piece of paper.

Pretty safe, huh?

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