Category Archives: holding forth

A Strange Encounter With Social Media….

Tonight I was planning on writing a blog about my recent trip to England and Spain. But something odd has happened and disrupted my plans.

You see, earlier today, I ran into an interesting article, which I posted up on facebook, because I like sharing stories about people being awesome.

The article is worth a read, but I’ll summarize: There was a guy who ran a website for  something called “Revenge Porn.” (Which I’d happily never heard of before this.) Apparently he posted naked pictures of women online and encouraged his followers to harass them, call their employers, and generally make their lives hell. Most of the pictures he used were stolen, faked, or handed over by disgruntled ex-boyfriends.

The article explains how a woman found her daughter’s picture on his website, and after finding out what an asshole he was, engineered his downfall in a serious old testament way. It was some lovely not-one-stone-left-upon-another shit.

Anyway, I posted up the link and wandered away. Not thinking much else about it.

An hour or so later I came back and took at peek at the post. I don’t read my facebook comment threads, but I do occasionally look in on them to make sure nothing is on fire.

And, as chance would have it, things *were* slightly on fire. It wasn’t to the point where people were talking about Hitler yet, but a few folks had made comments along the lines of, “She took nude pictures of herself, but didn’t want anyone to see them? I don’t buy it….”

Then some people were kinda pissed about those comments, and made comments to that effect.

Then other people got defensive, and posted some comments to that effect.

We all know where this ends. It’s a spiral into madness. The dirigible ends up in flames, everyone’s dead, and I’ve lost my hat.

Since any plan where I lose my hat is a bad plan, I sighed and sat down to write a quick post asking people to play nice and behave themselves.

Except… well… my quick post ended up being about 750 words long. Surprising nobody but me.

Once I’d finished writing it I just sat there, disgusted with myself. I knew better than to waste my time with this. Trying to have a productive discussion about a complex social issue on facebook is like trying to build a bridge by throwing rocks into a well.

What’s more, this shit is *dangerous.* People get pissed off when you talk about sexism. And not just the people that think you’re wrong, either. Sometimes the people that agree with 95% of what you say are the ones that go positively incarnadine with rage.

Simply said, writing a post on sexism was not on my agenda for the day. And I knew that in terms of bad ideas, posting it on Facebook ranked somewhere between putting my hand in a fire, and willfully slamming my own dick in a car door.

But I’d already written it. And I hate throwing away something I’ve already written. And it was something that really should be said….

So I posted it. Then I shut down my computer and left for dinner.

Hours later I came home and reluctantly looked online. No one was howling for my blood. I peeked on facebook and saw that in the last 5 hours more people had liked and shared that post than anything else I’d ever written.

And the comments were… well… they were delightful. I read about 150 of them and was not once enraged or disappointed in humanity. The posts were kind and honest and funny and endlessly grateful. People shared their own stories. People were occasionally politely disagreeing.

I stopped reading after 150 comments. I didn’t want to spoil it. It was like a beautiful dream.

Thanks for that, everybody.

If you’d like to read the facebook post, here’s a link.

pat

Also posted in How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, musings | By Pat28 Responses

Concerning Love

So I wasn’t going to do a Valentine’s Day post. Partly because I’m busy. And partly because I could really give a fuck. And partly because I’m a contrary person by my very nature.

But some things have happened today that have made me think about the nature of love. And that is something I’m interested in.

And if by odd coincidence this post happens to be timely…. Well, I suppose I can stand being timely once in my life.

*     *     *

Weeks ago, I was reading a book with Oot. At some point in the story, the characters go to the Doctor, and the doctor shows them what’s inside their bodies.

Oot’s curious about that stuff. It’s a cool teachable moment, so we take a break from the story to talk about our guts.

I point, “That’s a stomach. Do you know what that’s for?”

He knows. He tells me.

I point again, “Those are your lungs. Do you know what they do?”

He does.

Next I point at a picture of the circulatory system, “That’s a heart. Do know what that is for?”

He thinks about it for a long moment, then he lights up. “That’s where you keep all of your Love!”

*     *     *

Days ago I fell asleep with Oot on my lap.

Lately I’ve been keeping odd hours. I’m trying to get a lot of writing done and that means I don’t sleep as much as usual.

It also means I don’t spend as much time at home as I’d like. I write at the work house where there’s less distraction. Everyone working there knows if they bother me while I’m writing, I’ll fire them.

When I’m behind on writing, like I am now, it’s not uncommon for me to sleep at the workhouse too. I have a mattress there, I get food delivered. It’s not odd for me to spend several days there without leaving when I’m in the thick of it.

Still, I make a point of spending at least an hour or two every day with Oot. Sometimes Sarah brings him to visit me, sometimes I come home and visit him.

So a couple of days ago, I was sitting in the living room with Oot cuddled up in my lap. He’s not a particularly cuddly child, so these times are rare.

That said, I’ve stacked the deck a bit by offering to give him a massage. He loves having his back rubbed.

This is a sort of love, you realize. The negotiation of desires.

Oot desires the animal joy of having his back rubbed. I desire the animal joy of holding my warm child. These are not mutually exclusive. We can both get what we want here.

Would I prefer it if he would *just* cuddle me? Sure. That would be lovely. But we’re not living in a perfect world. He is a little boy, not a dog. He hasn’t been bred for 10,000 years to be a obsequious lap-sitter. So compromise is key. You have to give a little to get a little.

Our little arrangement reminds me of several of my college relationships. And some of my non-relationships too. Backrubs as currency. This is a skill I posses, and I have bartered it in the past. Sometimes just for the pleasure of touching another human in an intimate way.

The importance of touch should not be ignored. It shouldn’t be played down or viewed as something low or base. They joy of touching and being touched it is a big part of being human.

And while it is certainly not all of love, it is a type of love. It is a facet in the fractured glass of affection.

But as I’ve said, I haven’t been sleeping much lately. So, sitting there with my child in my lap, I started to nod.

Eyes closed, I hear Sarah come into the room and say, “Daddy is falling asleep. Do you want to help me put him to bed?”

“Oh, of course!” he says. Then he stands up and takes my hand to lead me.

This is an act of love.

Halfway through the living room he takes both my hands, which is probably meant to be twice as helpful, but it’s not. It means I have to bend down and take shuffling little steps.

So take little shuffling steps and bend down. I do this even though it hurts my back.

This too is love.

*     *     *

Hours Ago, I woke up.

My plan for today was to hurry over to the work house to get some writing in, then come back for my officially scheduled date with Sarah.

Our date is scheduled from noon to 2:00. It’s the only time we could arrange a sitter. The date is going to be short because Sarah is planning on making heart cookies for everyone she love. She and Oot are going to bake them, put people’s names on them, and hand deliver them on Valentine’s Day.

She’s been planning it for weeks. It’s it an expression of her love.

My thought is that we should reschedule our date. Pick a day she isn’t so busy. Pick a day when we could do something at night. At night, you see, the workhouse is empty. At night there are many uninhabited surfaces at the workhouse, and little chance of being overheard by our young child.

But Sarah wants a date on Valentine’s Day. It’s important to her. So noon.

I wake up at 7:30 AM, but when I go upstairs to check my e-mail, I hear Sarah calling. I head into her bedroom and she gives me the news. Oot got sick last night. Puking sick.

I look at him, he’s sleeping. Sweet as anything. Between him and the bed is a carefully placed towel.

“No cookies today?” I say.

Sarah shakes her head. “I didn’t sleep much last night. We’re going to stay in and have a quiet day.”

“That’s as it should be,” I say.

“We’re out of Pedialite,”

For those of you who don’t have kids, Pedialite is like Gatorade if your sport of choice is shitting and puking all over. It’s easy on your stomach, and has all sorts of important electrolytes you need if you’re losing a lot of fluid. Every parent should have several jugs of it on the pantry shelf.

But we’ve burned through our supply, so I get dressed and go brush snow off the car.

At the store I pick up some Campbell’s chicken and stars soup, because that’s what my mom fed me when I had an upset tummy as a kid. I pick up some string cheese, because Oot likes it. And I pick up some olives stuffed with garlic because if this is a flu bug, having some garlic in my system will help me fight it off.

Then I go get the Pedialite. One orange and one purple, so that he has a choice.

In the kid isle at the grocery store, I see that they don’t stock baby formula on the shelves anymore. Now they have little cards there. You have to take the card to the service desk to get the formula.

To me, this means people must have been stealing baby formula. And standing there at 8:00 in the morning, the fact that people have to steal formula for their babies just breaks my heart. That shows that something is fucked up in our society. Food for your babies should be a given, and if some people are having to steal it, it means that something has gone wrong in my little town. I’ll have to talk to some people and see what we can do about this.

This, you have to realize, is also love. Love is a small thing only if we force it to be small. It isn’t some commodity we hoard and dole out sparingly for family and friends.

No. When you see a broken car by the side of the road and stop to help the person. That’s love. When you watch the news and hear about kids being exposed to lead in playgrounds and frac mining fucking up the environment, the anger you feel actually comes from love. It means you care about people even though you don’t know them.

It’s a hard way to live your life. It means you’ll be feel helpless a lot, and you’ll be hurt a lot, and you’ll be angry at the state of things so constantly that it will rub you raw. But it’s the best way to be. It’s the only way civilization can function properly. It’s the only way we can make things better.

On my way out of the store I walk past the floral department. I ignored it on my way into the store because I was on a mission. But now I remember that it is Valentine’s Day. And while I could give a damn about flowers, Sarah likes them.

So I pick out some roses. And the very act of it makes me grit my teeth. Roses on Valentine’s Day. It’s such a cliche.

There’s a line, a half dozen men. This just reinforces the fact that I’m being a culture zombie and it raises my irritation exponentially. Plus this is thirty dollars that’s going to end up in the compost in two weeks. I could do a hundred more practical things with this money. Formula for kids. A hive of honeybees for Heifer International….

Then I see an old guy in line ahead of me. He’s gotta be 85 if he’s a day, and he looks like what I imagine when Garrison Keillor describes the old Norwegian bachelor farmers in lake Woebegone. He’s beautiful in his own way.

He’s got a dozen roses, and seeing him there warms my bitter old heart.

One of the guys in front of me (a guy in a red flannel, probably in his sixties) motions the older man ahead of him in the line. He says, “You go ahead, Ed. I’ve got plenty of time.”

The guy in the red flannel drops back and smiles at me. He says, “Ed there comes by here every week. Buys flowers for his wife.”

“That’s great,” I say, smiling like the idiot I am.

And it is great. This is someone who has made a habit out of love. There is something to be learned here.

So I pick up more roses. One of each color. Because this isn’t about me. For Sarah, love is a song. Love is words. Love is gifts.

That is not my way. For me, love is doing. Love is service. Love is caring for someone and tending to their well being.

This is a problem we have been struggling with for a long time: how the two of us show our love in different ways. It has led to many problems. Many fights. It is a terrible thing to be unloved. But in many ways it is worse to be loved and feel unloved.

Love is actually easy. We are all of us wired for it. We are full of love, even though sometimes we are barely aware of it.

Showing love is the hard part. Our culture poisons us constantly, telling us what we *should* love. Religions spout off about who we *can* love. Media lies to us, telling us *how* to love. For when you care enough to send the very best. Say it with flowers. Every kiss begins with Kay.

It’s hard to break away from that cultural conditioning. But it’s even harder for me to realize that sometimes, Sarah doesn’t want me to take care of her. She doesn’t need tending. Sometimes she just wants me to say that I love her and tell her she’s pretty.

So I bring home roses and soup. I scrap my plans to hole up and write today so I can be near my family and tend to them. Because that is what’s important to me. Whether or not they realize it, this is how I love.

Oot picks the purple Pedialite. He’s listless and just wants to stay in bed. He’s snuggled up with Sarah. She gets more cuddling than me, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous.

But when I lay down he snuggles me too. No bribery needed.

When Sarah comes downstairs she sees the flowers and laughs and smiles. It’s a response that I would never have to flowers. We talk a little. I tell her I love her. I tell her she’s pretty.

Later, if Oot is feeling up to it, I will read him a chapter of the Hobbit. It’s the one where the goblins catch them in the mountains.

And through all of this, in bits and pieces, I write down these musings for you. Because I cannot help but tell stories. Because these things are important to me.

Because…

pat

Also posted in Because I Love, How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, love, Oot | By Pat134 Responses

Storm

Hello everybody.

Right now I’m writing like a motherfucker, putting finishing touches on a story I’ve owed someone for more than a year, so I can jump back into working on book three.

If you’re the curious sort, the title of the story (the *working* title, I should say, as I just came up with it last night) is “The Weight of Her Desire.”

I’m not sure it’s the proper title for this particular story. But even if I don’t end up using it, I think it’s a damn fine title. I’m proud of it. Titles are hard for me, because I’m very particular. And I’m not very good at throwing up my hands and saying, “Yeah, whatever. That’s good enough, I suppose….”

Since I don’t have much interesting else to say today, I thought I’d share something cool I ran into months ago. A video that instantly ignited my love for Tim Minchin, a comedian I didn’t know existed before.

Now, given that this is what I think of as content-heavy art, I feel like I need to make a statement about my position in regard to the content.

Do I agree with everything Minchin says here?

No. But I agree with about 90% of it. Maybe 85%.

That said, 85% agreement is really pretty good with me, as I am a cussed individual, and contrary.

So. Given that I dearly love that 85-90% in which we overlap, I’m willing to let the rest slide good naturedly.

And, given that I adore his artistry, his words, his comedic timing, and his biting vitriol, I figured I’d share this with y’all with the hope that it improves your day…

Yours in wasteful and ridiculous excess,

pat

Also posted in cool things, videos | By Pat48 Responses

Ars Ludi (The Art of the Game)

Things have been good lately.

For four weeks now, I haven’t had to meet any deadlines, manage any fundraisers, plan for any holidays, or orchestrate the mailing of thousands of t-shirts.

I have to say, not doing these things has been lovely.

You see, I’m a slacker at heart. A dabbler. A dallier. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. You also don’t spend 14 years working on your unpublished fantasy novel if you’re a highly motivated go-getter. You don’t spend 9 years getting your undergrad degree if you’re the sort of person who thrives on a 14 hour workday.

Now don’t get me wrong. I can do the 14 hour workday if I really need to. The last half of 2010 proved that I can do it for months in a row.

But still, it’s not my happy place. I don’t thrive in that environment.

So I’ve spent this last month recharging my mental and emotional batteries. I’ve been catching up on my sleep. Catching up on my e-mail. And hanging out with Sarah and Oot, who didn’t see very much of me in November and December. Or much of October, either.

Also, I’ve been playing some computer games.

That’s one of the first things I cut out of my schedule when time started getting tight back in August. And it sucked. Computer games have been part of my life since…. well… kinda since forever. I played computer games before the internet. Before graphics. I played computer games before a lot of you were even born.

This has given me an interesting perspective on computer games. I played Zork and Bureaucracy and Leather Goddesses of Phobos: text adventure games that have never been equaled in terms of their ability to fuck with and frustrate their players. I played King’s Quest. I played Doom. I MUDed. I played the original Fallouts, both one and two….

So. Nutshell. Me big PC gamer.  Much playing. Much knowing of the games. Follow?

Here’s the problem. The last few times I’ve managed to sit down to treat myself to a game, I’ve found myself increasingly disappointed.

Games have come a long way since I first typed, “Take lamp” back in the early 80′s. These days games have cool things like, say, sound. I like sound. Increasingly, they have fury, too. And that’s not a bad thing either. The problem is when they’re full of sound AND fury. That’s where things seem to start going wrong.

Given the advances in technology, it seems like I should enjoy games more these days. They have all sorts of massive multiplayerness and vast polygonious landscapes to explore. This should be cool, but instead I find myself increasingly dissatisfied with my computer gaming experiences.

I could say more on the subject, but I worry it would grow tiresome. So instead, I’ve decided tell a little story with the help of my good friend and sometime illustrator Nathan Taylor.

The comics are kinda large, so you’re going to click on them so they can embiggen into their full glory.

Oh, and please don’t just take these comics and post them on your own blog. If you want to share them with someone, just link back here.

Why? Because otherwise you’re killing the internet.

Here you go….

Page One:

Page Two:

Page Three

Take that, Tycho. I warned you that writing elaborately interwoven narrative thingers was my bailiwick. Despite this, you continued to interweave them. Moreover, you employed cunning phraseology. Secondarily, you made alluring word usements. Sixth and lastly, you finished your story in a timely fashion. Thirdly, you used the word ‘ineluctable.’ And, to conclude, you are an irritatingly good writer.

This has left me no choice but to do a comic about computer games. I’m sorry that it has come to this, but you really left me no choice.

Later all,

pat

Also posted in gaming, video games | By Pat151 Responses

PSA – Why You Shouldn’t Vote.

If you go to an office party, there are certain things you shouldn’t talk about. Three of them, really: Sex, Politics, and Religion. The reason is simple. You’re supposed to act professional. That means not offending people, and everyone knows that there’s no better opportunity to cheese someone off than by voicing a strong opinion on one of the big three.

The same thing is doubly true if you’re any sort of public figure. Smart public figures never stray into these dark waters because they know it’s the PR equivalent of shutting your dick in a car door. Not only will the result almost always be awkward, embarrassing, and painful, but people will talk about it for years afterward. You’ll never live it down.

For example, let’s say you read my book and you like it. So you want to like me. But then you read on my blog than I eat my bread with the butter-side-down. Then you’re horrified, because you’re a staunch proponent of butter-side-up. So you swear off reading my books forever, convince your friends to do likewise, and as a result, I eventually end up naked in a ditch somewhere, penniless and dead of scurvy.

I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I’m a bit of a public figure, though the thought makes me somewhat uncomfortable. But I’ll be damned if I’ll ever be smart about it. I don’t like the thought of going through the rest of my life biting my tongue and thinking, “Can I say that in public? Whatever will they think? What if I offend someone?”

No. I’d much rather you hate me for who I am, than like some false face that I fake up for the blog. Screw that ten times.

So with that said, here we go. I’m going to shut my dick in the car door and talk about politics.

Ready?

Yeah, me neither.

*****

An open letter to the American populace.

Election day is coming up. That means that for months, you’ve been bombarded by all manner of forces encouraging you to vote.

I, on the other hand, would like to encourage you to do nothing of the sort. Quite the opposite in fact.

I’m not being sarcastic here. I’m not trying reverse psychology. What I’m saying is that I would like you to consider, seriously, the possibility of not voting in the coming election.

The problem is this. People seem to think that low voter turnout is the problem with elections. But that’s simply not the case. All this Rock the Vote bullshit? It’s just that, bullshit. If you think voting is a good idea because MTV told you to do it, then it is entirely possible that you are not very smart.

And if you are not smart, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t vote in the coming election.

For example, I was eating dinner the other day at a local restaurant and I heard someone at a nearby table say, “I’m voting for McCain. I heard Obama’s into gun control. Nobody’s taking away my guns.”

I’m not making this up. I’m not exaggerating or paraphrasing. These words have been echoing around in my head for weeks, and it’s entirely possible that I will never be rid of them.

If this sounds like something that might come out of your mouth, you need to realize that you are not very smart. I’m not saying you’re a bad person. I’m not saying you’re evil. What I’m asking is that you consider the very real possibility that you might not be capable of casting an intelligent vote.

Let repeat myself just for clarity’s sake. If you’re willing to throw in with one candidate based on senseless fear and “something you heard” you are not well-informed, and you shouldn’t vote.

Again, I’m not saying you’re a bad person. What I am saying is that the fate of the nation is probably too complicated for you to deal with properly. You should stay home on election night and watch some Nascar instead. That’s right. Nice, comforting Nascar.

Similarly, I recently overheard someone say, “I’m voting for Obama. It’s about time we had a cute president.”

Oh anonymous young lady, on election night, please stay at home and watch America’s Top Model, or whatever you insipid, feckless, witfucked pogs do for entertainment. I say this simply because all available evidence points toward you not being smart enough to vote.

Well… let me correct that. You *are* smart enough to vote. All of you are. You are also smart enough to design a skyscraper or assemble a nuclear bomb. You *can* do these things….

…But you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t do these things because, odds are, you do not possess the knowledge base and critical thinking skills to do them *well.* That’s the problem.

Think for a second. If you were riding along in a plane, and the stewardess came up to you and said, “I’m sorry to bother you. But our pilot just fainted, can you fly a 747?”

Any rational human’s response to this situation has to be, “Shit no. I can’t fly this thing. People would die.”

(Except if you’re a pilot, of course. This analogy won’t work if you’re a pilot. Sorry.)

What amazes me is that sensible people who would refuse to pilot a plane because they don’t know enough to fly, will, without hesitation, rush out to vote as if they’re fully qualified. The result is that a mass of well-intentioned but ignorant people go into the booth and start pulling levers like they know what they’re doing….

…But they don’t. And because of this, slowly, our county begins to spiral out of control, spewing smoke and diving toward the hard earth below.

One final illustration.

About a month ago I was giving Sarah’s friends a ride somewhere. Two 17 year old girls.

Sarah turned around to face them in the backseat and said, “If you guys could vote, who would you vote for?”

One spoke up quickly, “McCain. It would be cool if we finally had a woman vice president.”

“Yeah!” the other one chimed in.

“Really,” I said. It wasn’t a question, just a statement. “Really,” I said. “Wow.”

“What?” one of them asked. “What do you think about Palin?”

“I think she’s ridiculously underqualified,” I said. “And her social policies are horrifying.”

There was a pause from the backseat.

“I guess I’d vote for Obama then,” the first girl said.

“Me too!” said the other.

This, in my opinion, is a terrifying snapshot of a large section of the American voting populace. They will decide who to vote for based on the information gathered from television commercials, Fox News, and youtube videos. Others will vote based on fear, based on misinformation, based on what their friends told them.

This year when I go in to vote, I know what will happen. I’m going to stand in line, and I will see some young college student, voting for the first time. Some young man, some young woman. They will be beautiful, bright eyed, and excited about participating in democracy.

Then I will see them wearing a T-shirt that boldly proclaims their political allegiance. And I will know that this beautiful young person is going to vote for a politician whose platform is pure poison to their future. I will see a young man ready to vote for a politician who will cut government funding to his university, raising his tuition and making it even harder to get a student loan. I will see a young woman ready to vote for a politician who will actively oppose her hopes for equal rights, good health care, and reliable birth control.

They will vote for politicians who will make it harder for them to get good jobs in the future. Politicians who will pollute the land and poison the waters. Politicians who will let write laws that will undermine the their right to free speech, then turn around tell them who it is legal to love.

These beautiful, young, hopeful people will go in and vote, fully believing that they are acting in their own best interest. They will vote believing that they are responsible citizens. That they are doing the right thing, that they are good people.

This last, at least, is true. They are good people. They have the best intentions. And they are slowly, confidently crashing my plane.

The truth is, no politician will every give you everything you want. But one of them will be better than the others. One of them is probably looking out for your best interests, and the others are looking out for someone else. If you aren’t smart enough to figure out which is which, that’s a problem. If you vote for the wrong one because you saw some catchy youtube video, then you are not a good human being.

So please. If you think you might be uninformed on the issues, consider not voting. If you are uninformed, not-voting is actually the responsible thing to do.

How can you tell if you’re uninformed? Here’s a tip: if you’ve spent more time planning your Halloween costume than learning about the election, you probably shouldn’t vote.

If you’re having doubts about whether or not you’re well informed, well…. congratulations. Self-doubt is the foundation stone of critical thought. If you can admit to being unsure, there’s a chance that you might actually be a rational, intellectually articulate human being. I salute you.

The next step is to get informed. Here’s my advice on that.

First, be aware that your voice counts much more in local politics that it does in the presidential race. There are going to be all sorts of names on that ballot, not just McCain and Obama. Once, my friends and I got together and realized that if we voted in a block, we would control a full 10% of our town’s votes in our particular district. That is power.

Secondly, make a list of all the loud people you know. The people who are always sure of themselves. Political pundits go on the list: Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, Bill O’Reilly. Other candidates include personal acquaintances, relatives, and co-workers. Most bloggers belong on this list. So do I.

Got your list? You need to stop listening to the people on it. You need to take every piece of information they’ve ever said, and pull it squirming and fighting out of your of your head, because odds are whatever they told you is terribly skewed, if not an outright lie.

Sixthly and lastly, think of the people who you respect. Not someone you’re fond of. Someone you respect. There’s a difference. For example, I’m fond of the friends that I play board games with, but I respect the scrawny math teacher I once saw step fearlessly into a fistfight to save someone from getting their ass mercilessly kicked.

Ask the people you respect what they think about the election. Then ask them *why* they think that way.

Thirdly, think of someone you know that’s smarter than you. Someone more informed than you. This is the person who, if you were going to buy a car, you would for their help. Not because they know about cars, but because they’re smart, and they they’re good at digging up information.

If you’re having trouble thinking of someone like this, here’s a hint. They are usually unassuming, considerate, and they listen more than they talk. Good candidates are teachers, librarians, and some journalists.

But honestly, occupation doesn’t matter much. For me, this person is a friend named Andy, and I don’t think he’ll be offended if I call him what he is. A computer geek. I know other smart folks, but Andy tends to be my go-to guy when something is complicated, and I can’t be bothered to do 10 hours of research to untangle the issue myself.

I’ve done my research on the election. I know quite a bit. But I still plan on talking to Andy before the event because I don’t doubt for a second that he knows things I don’t. Even better, Andy isn’t afraid to argue. Best of all, Andy is more than willing to tell me when he thinks I’m full of shit and being utterly wrongheaded on an issue.

In brief, he is my favorite sort of friend, and I have no doubt that he will help me get my head on straight before I go in to vote. I hope you have someone similar in your life.

Geh. That’s all. The pillar of burning rage inside me is guttering low, leaving me feeling kind of shaky and hollow, same as always.

If you’re still reading this, I’m sorry. It’s way longer than it should be, and has cost me a whole night’s work on the book. But if I had gone this whole election without saying anything, I would have felt irresponsible. I would have felt by saying nothing, I was effectively committing a lie of omission. A coward’s lie.

Good lord. Do I leave the comments on for this one? Though I know better, I think I will. I’m going to consider this a test, if y’all can behave like civilized human beings in the comments below, discussing politics politely and rationally, then it will give me renewed hope for the world. Good, honest conversation about the issues with other intelligent people is the key to understanding. Socrates knew that.

If things degenerate into snarky backbiting and proselytizing in the comments… well… then I guess I’ll just heave a deep, weary sigh, and another little piece of me will die.

So yeah. Comments. Disagreement is fine, so long as we’re polite and rational.

Did I mention polite and rational?

Polite and rational.

pat

Also posted in politics, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat127 Responses

The Rothfuss Corporation

A couple weeks ago I had the delightful experience of doing my taxes. It was extra exciting this year, because most of my money came from writery stuff. That means for the most part, I’m self-employed.

I’ve always thought “self-employed” had a nice ring to it. It’s sort of Firefly-esque. Wear a gun, take jobs as they come, and never be under the heel of nobody ever again….

But then I found out that if you’re self employed, you get to pay super double-fun bonus taxes. Because, apparently, the government hates you.

Up until this year, I’ve always gotten money back because I’ve lived well below the poverty line. This year, I got to give them money. It was, as they say, more fun than getting kicked in the throat. Mostly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against taxes. Everyone loves to bitch about them, but taxes pay for schools, and roads, and snowplows, and sewage treatment plants. My friends have a son who is autistic, and the government helps them by bringing in well-trained people.

These things are important. If that’s all my taxes went toward, I would pay them gladly. I would sing a song while writing out the check.

However, we all know that’s not the case.

So, under the advice of several wise people, I’ve decided to start a corporation. This is supposed to prevent the government from taking quite as big a bite out of my ass for next year’s taxes.

It doesn’t seem right, honestly. The corporation is just me: I own it. And this corporation (let’s call it Me-corp) will be employing me. That, apparently, is different from being actually self-employed. Sorry? What? How does that work?

I guess what it comes down to is that the government is really, really dumb. Dumb enough so that if I put on sock on one of my hands and use it as a puppet, it will be convinced that the puppet is actually paying the taxes, not me.

But I’m not above exploiting a loophole in the system. So all that remains is to figure out what to call this corporation. I having trouble picking a name. Names are important things, you know. They tell you a great deal about a… a corporation.

So far, the only names that I can come up with are goofy ones, like Puppet-Co. Because the thought of owning a corporation is just silly to me, I keep thinking of cheesy names and slogans. Things like:

Rothco: Our Future is Your Tomorrow….

The Badassery: Crushing Your Hopes and Dreams Since 1998

Another part of me wants to just geek out and name the corporation after something in my book. I could call it “Elodin Enterprises” Or “The Valaritas Consortium.”

If y’all have any clever ideas, please feel free to list them below….

Also of note:

  • Today my book is going to be listed in the New York Times print edition at #11. It’s probably not such a big deal for you, but I’ve been excited to see it….
  • I’ve been really surprised by the response I’ve had to The Contest. I’ve already received over a hundred entries, and decided to push back the deadline because some people heard about it late and asked for more time. New deadline is May 4th. Clever readers will realize that this opens up the possibility of taking pictures on Beltane…. I’m just sayin’.

Later all,

pat

Also posted in contests, geeking out | By Pat58 Responses

Dear Fed-Ex: Why do you hate my book?

A few weeks ago, a bookstore out in California asked if I would sign a bunch of books for them. The thought fills me with joy. Someone out there likes my book. That means, by extension, they like me.

Even better, it means the bookseller is probably going to give my book some extra publicity. That fills me with childlike delight. So I thumbs-up the idea and the people at Penguin tell me to keep an eye out for the delivery.

Fast forward to a few days ago. I wake up at the crack of afternoon, look out onto the porch, and here’s what I see:

(Yes, the picture is blurry, but this is actually a pretty good representation of what things look like to me when I wake up.)

There is the box of books, utterly manhandled, abused, and dumped on my porch.

How do I know that this box actually contains my books?

Simple, the box has been busted open along most of its seams and I can actually see the books inside.

Everyone, wave to my book. “Hello book!”

(For those of you that have been wondering what my leg looks like, now you know.)

I don’t have children, but this is what I imagine a parent must feel like when they see their kid fall off a jungle-gym or take a really bad digger on their bike. I look at the box and find myself being desperately optimistic. Maybe the books are okay in there, I think to myself.

Maybe it’s not as bad as it looks.

It’s as bad as it looks.

Witness the dead remains of six of my books, their spines broken. My only hope is that they didn’t feel much pain. Most of the other books had their covers ripped and their pages bunged up pretty badly.

So why am I telling this story? For one, because I’m pissed off and need some catharsis. If I just repress this shit, everything will seem find on the surface. I’ll smile, go about my day. Then, eventually, I’ll snap and vent my rage in an inappropriate way. Trust me, in a few months you don’t want to read a news story about how book three will be delayed because I’m in jail for punching a fluffy kitten.

My second reason for telling you this is to pass along a warning. This isn’t the first time I’ve had my books manhandled and destroyed by Fed-Ex. It’s not even the second time. In the last several months I’ve had at least three packages treated this way.

I could call and complain, but the only real outcome of that is that I’d end up tongue-lashing some poor helpless wageslave on their complaint line.

So instead I’m telling you. Fed-Ex are a bunch of book-killing choads. Don’t ship your stuff with them if you give a damn about how it arrives.

From now on, I’m a UPS man.

Here endeth the lesson,

pat

Also posted in hodgelany, my terrible wrath | By Pat21 Responses
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