Monday, June 25, 2012

Things That Stress Me Right The Heck Out

 By varying degrees, in no particular order, for Jen because she asked me to share:
  • Reality TV
  • Awkwardness (mostly my own)
  • Making appointments
  • Lack of signage
  • Bad usability
  • Not being able to understand how a process works
  • Typos on non-handwritten signs
  • Arguments
  • Heated discussions
  • Disagreements
  • Slow talkers
  • Politics
  • Planning activities for groups
  • Facebook
  • Being in charge of kids
  • Being in charge of adults
  • Dogs that jump on me
  • Dogs that try to lick my face
  • Indecision
  • Other people's medical problems
  • Errant stickers/tape/band-aids
  • Messes
  • Ill-fitting clothing
  • Violence
  • Illogical behavior
  • Being underground
  • Turbulence
  • Buckthorn trees
  • Learning biology
  • Getting flipped off while driving
  • Honking in traffic
  • Being late
  • Not knowing the origin/time of my next meal
  • Unclear relationships
  • Talking to strangers
  • Being yelled at
  • MiXed caSe WRitinG
  • Lack of punctuation
  • Carrying a lot of things of different shapes
  • Lying
  • Letting someone else plan a party for me
  • Inconsistency
  • Plot holes
  • Indeterminate motives
  • Moral dilemmas
Please don't be offended—these are my problems, not yours. Just because something is stressful doesn't mean I won't deal with it. Which is good, because all of these things are unavoidable! ;)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rocking the Stache, and the Rainbow Connection on Skullcrusher Mountain

In May, we took a weekend trip to visit some of our JCCC2 cruise friends. Kate and Jim live in Wisconsin, and Rachel and Matt live in Minnesota, so we met up at Kate and Jim's. We all admitted that our home friends had asked us, "What if they're psycho, or you guys don't really like each other anymore?" Good news! Not noticeably psycho! And probably like them more! I mean, what's not to love about this handsome crew?

We played a lot of Dominion, ate great food and craft beer at The Horny Goat, had a sing-along, and lounged at the beach. Turns out Jim and Kate do sand sculptures, and I realized I had a picture of their work in the Bahamas from before I met them!

(Kate and Jim are behind Mr. Coulton on the left. Note the intricate skull on Skullcrusher Mountain, as well as the great drawing of the JoCo from our badges. Normally, they have a whole arsenal of sand sculpting tools, but most of this, I believe, was done with a butter knife.)

These people are very multi-talented! A promotional video for JCCC3 recently came out, and part of Jim and Matt's open mic offering can be seen at the 2:04 mark (as well as my Matt and my elbow in the left corner). Their performance came together about an hour before when Jim said, "Hey, I've got a guitar app on my phone..."

If you liked Matt M's iPhone performance, you should hire him to play at your next event in Minnesota, or check out his new album (my favorite is "Nothing Personal").

In other JoCo/SeaMonkey news, Jonathan Coulton played a show at the Ark about a week ago! The show was great, and it was a bona fide Rock n' Roll show with ringing ears and a guy dropping his pants on stage and everything! The pants-dropping, ever-tuning John Roderick opened, doing acoustic renditions of his The Long Winters songs. JoCo had his band, which was different from the acoustic sets I've seen him do at the Ark before, and even let Scarface (his assistant) sing a song. (Scarface is wearing a sweet TMBG shirt I covet a little. It has the same design as a recent tour shirt of theirs, but the colors were different. Special edition shirt, or bleach?)

We met up with fellow JCCC2 SeaMonkeys afterward and got a picture:

We first met Dan and Erin (on the right) at a Denny's in Florida after the cruise. Erin was wearing her cruise shirt so we knew they must have just come from the same place as us. And because it seemed like the right thing to do, we had a guy who was making balloon animals make a monkey and drop it off at their table. A real "meet cute", huh?


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The One Where Rachel Blogs About Friends

I've been wanting to write a blog post about friends, but I just can't do it. I've started so many times, but the topic is too broad, and each of you are so unique and special, I cannot begin to generalize. There are so many facets to your personalities that make you unbinnable and uncategorizable; it's driving Left Brain nuts. I thought maybe I could narrow down the topic to just "making new friends", but again, the tales of our meetings are so diverse that I cannot boil down their story essence to any tractable number of scenarios. I'd want to tell about each and every one of you, and how our personalities oppose and compliment, and how that got us to where we are now. And it would be so long. And I'd lose all of you because you would find out how much I over-analyze our relationships and think about you when we're apart. You'd be creeped out.

But I will say this: Sometimes the beauty of your individual souls swells my heart to bursting with love for you. If I didn't know you, I wouldn't know this love, and I certainly wouldn't know or like me. Yours are the smiles and laughs (and ideas and stories and hugs...) that encourage my soul, and yours is the company in which I've had the most fun of my life. If I ever said I loved you, I still do. And if I haven't said it, it's just because I haven't become acquainted with your soul yet. I've never really met a soul I didn't love.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Don't Piss Off a Writer

Don't piss off a writer. In the moment, in person, they may splutter—they're not necessarily good with oral repartee. But give them some time to gather their words and they'll eloquently let you know how they really feel in their medium of choice.

Don't piss off a writer, because writers have a way of taking creative liberties with the facts. When they tell the story, they are going to make sure there is the proper amount of villain to substantiate the hero's victory. And if you are an ass, that truth will out.

Don't piss off a writer unless you want to make them a better writer. Though internal seething may temporarily clog the flow of words from head to mouth or hand, writers specialize in turning feelings and ideas into words, and they will find that anger's voice. When they finally do, watch out.

You may have noticed a reprieve. No worries. The fury and scorn will work itself into my prose eventually and give vent to the steam boiling up in my heart. You may not recognize your words when I give them the literary treatment, but I'll know, and I'll finally let loose that pithy rejoinder your jerkface deserves.

*    *    *

Can I write my own analysis for this one, to save you the psychoanalytics? I think this is meant to be a comic piece describing the frustration of being rendered speechless without a comeback in a conversation. It's clear in the final paragraph that the writer has yet to think of any good response and may never. The threats are all talk and no action. If I were you, I wouldn't worry that she's being serious. Unless, of course, you actually pissed her off. I'm just kidding, she's totally Lindsey Buckingham.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sharpie Pens

My beloved Sharpie pens
I've been using Sharpie Pens almost exclusively for the last 10 months. My coworker Sarah bought a pack for work and I quickly appropriated 5 of the 6 colors pretty much right away as she became interested in other pens. (She held on to the orange, her favorite color, for a long time but eventually decided the pack should stay together, displayed in a tidy row on my desk when not in use.)

After I used the purple pen at work for a week, I no longer wanted to write with anything else, and bought a set for home. I have had different experiences with each set. First, the pen pack I bought for home only had 5 pens (no orange), but I was so in love I didn't care. Second, the home set seems to have grown little feet, because I currently only know the whereabouts of the black pen, which I am therefore keeping on a short tether. I thought the pen roll would help, but apparently there are ease-of-use issues associated with rolling it back up that need to be improved on. Fortunately the work pens are less adventurous and are all still reporting for duty.

The biggest difference between the pens at work and the pens at home, though, is the painted label on each pen. The work set, after several weeks of use, began to peel and flake, getting little paint chips all over my hands, which I frequently unknowingly transferred to my face. Time and again someone would say to me, "You have glitter on your face," and I would relate and lament the condition of my favorite pens, while rubbing my sleeves all over my face to loose the shiny paint chips. Some people, including myself, suggested I tape around the pen to keep the paint in place, but I have a weird thing about tape and chose to put up with the glittery paint chips instead. I considered sanding off all the paint entirely, but I never did because then I wouldn't know the pen color until I uncapped them. Eventually, I realized that the molting generally only occurred at the seam where the label doubled over itself. I used my thumb nail to scrape off what I could in this strip on all of the pens, and that reduced the "glitter on your face" comments tremendously. I only wish I had taken action on that sooner, as the bad paint job has been the most glaring downside to these pens. That just felt wrong because that isn't even a criticism of the pens' primary use, which is to write! But the home set never had this problem, so maybe it was just a bad batch?

The glitter maker
One other word of warning: I don't recommend dropping these pens on your desk, particularly point down while uncapped. On two occasions, this has led to splitting the tip, creating resistance to the previous smooth flow, as the sharp-edged shards drag across the paper. This recently happened with the orange pen, but that pretty much secures it as mine as Sarah would never put up with that. The green pen, however, met this fate early on, and with more disastrous results. Ink bled copiously from the tip, and my now-green hands quickly betrayed my clumsy mistake. Now would be a great time to point out that these pens, despite being Sharpie brand, do not use the same permanent ink as the quintessential product. But regardless, things got a little messy. Sarah and Becky, always practical, encouraged me to throw the green pen away, but I didn't, and hid it from them by wrapping it inconspicuously in a paper towel. It still had ink left to give and just needed a good bleeding out for a few months. Now he's back in the mix, with no more green leakage onto the fingers during use. For a time, I kept his paper towel bib handy in case of drool, but the green pen kept working for me, so I kept working for it.

But the ultimate reason I would nurse an exploded pen back to health and tolerate "you have glitter on your face" comments is because these pens write really well! They don't bleed through paper—another big departure from the traditional Sharpie you've known and loved anyway. And because it's a marker and not a ballpoint pen, it won't randomly stop inking in the middle of writing out a birthday card or recording an important thought. At worst, the color would just fade out. That's probably my biggest complaint with ballpoint ink pens: I have no patience for scribbling in the corner of the page trying to get the ink flowing again. I already have problems writing over letters that didn't turn out as intended—I don't need more reasons to demonstrate this neurosis.

The question now is how I should fill out my now mostly empty pen roll. Do I trust that the flaking paint was a fluke and stick with what I know? Or do I try out other similar pens, like the Pigma Micron? Because I could, I added a poll to the sidebar of the blog. Care to weigh in?