It's funny how a little creature with no ability to really understand you can bring so much happiness to your life. For those of you who don't know (and I'm really stretching here to believe that anyone continues to read this page, especially following my diatribe against blogs), I recently (within the last month), acquired a kitten. He's a mixed breed, but he's full of Siamese goodness. He has dark ears, dark paws, a dark tail, and those beautiful blue Siamese kitty eyes that, upon my acquisition of him, were infected, along with his ears, intestines, and probably everything from his upper respiratory to lower GI tract. But he's better now, or rather, he was until today, when he was drugged and underwent declawing and Bob Barker surgery.
The point of all of this is, sadly, that it turns out I'm a huge softy. Despite my coarse, uncaring exterior, I love my kitty. I play with him all the time (when he's not drugged) and let him lick the tops of my Sam Adams bottles. He's been in Des Moines for the past few days (part of my desire to have him blame my parents for the disappearance of his testicles and not me), but now I want him back. And by now, I mean NOW. He's so damn cute. He's a hell of an alarm clock, too. I need to wake up early tomorrow and he's not here. What the hell will I do? Oh well.
For the last few years, I have been living a lie. I have maintained a front of interest and participation in one lifestyle, all the while truly being someone else. It's time to come clean and confess to the world: I really hate blogs.
I trust that my limited readership is intelligent enough to find irony in my posting my deploration of these vile creatures at blogspot. I further trust that my limited readers, some of them whom possess their own blogs, will realize that this truism is not a condemnation of them or their blogs necessarily, but is a general comment that I have been struggling to parse over the past year or so.
There have been clues that I hate blogging. My modal posting rate is once per month, and the posts have been more as a preemptive response to anticipated goadings about my lack of public comment. The initiation of this little suppository of the internet that I call my webpage was a response to a particular set of circumstances at the forefront of my psyche at the time. A lot has happened since then, even though now I find myself back in the same geographic and cultural space, complete with similar requirement and routines. I hope that the conditions that prompted me to create this inappropriate outlet for externally-sharing my internalizations never return. Further, if they do return, or manifest in similar forms, I hope to avoid using this proxy for real human interaction.
I feel at this time I must offer a few reasons for hating blogs. First, the very word "blog" provokes an aversive physical response that makes my skin crawl. I hate that weblog has been shortened to such a cacophonous syllable. I hate hearing people who have no idea what a weblog is/how to use one casually drop the nonword. Hearing politicians in the state of Iowa urge their constituency to check their blogs for campaign updates conjures an image of elderly men in overalls sitting on their tractors in the middle of cornfields using an iBook to check on the vital "news for the campaign trail."
I hate blogs that contain inside jokes and information. If one is publicly posting information, the information should at least be germane to the commonalities of the readership. If not, perhaps the blog should be accompanied by a disclaimer. One of my first posts to this website in May 2003 mentioned that I found the idea of sending “thinly-veiled” messages to be unacceptable. Airing dirty laundry or expressing displeasure in the actions of another person is equally unacceptable, especially when the clues in the post lead us to know exactly who the other party is. Please, take a few moments to let your mind calm and clarify. Then, if necessary, write an email, call, or talk to that person directly. Leave me out of it.
Being privy to information related to personal conflicts is closely related to another annoyance of blogs. Most of the time, I think your personal information should remain personal. If blogging is an outlet for personal expression, I hope that the expressive part of the blog would be the design or the page; changes in graphics, fonts, or colors; or the inclusion of separate expressions like poems, stories, personal drawings, etc. Posting your diary is not quite the same thing as artistic expression. Perhaps this view makes me seem insensitive. While I am not a particularly openly and overtly sensitive or emotional person, I am sympathetic to the desire to “let it all out.” What really makes me look insensitive is that, most of the time, I just don’t care what you have to say. There are few people in my world who could post any piece of rubbish on their webpages, and I would express interest. Most of the time, though, it’s not worth my time to read, much like this manifesto is not worth your time.
One thing that you should notice about my postings is I try to keep errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation to a minimum. While I am more than willing to overlook the occasional mistake, if I can’t read/understand what you’ve written, chances are I won’t read it. Again, the effort I’m willing to put into reading what you’ve written is extremely limited, so don’t make me work harder than I’m willing.
A final point for now regards a nasty trend I’ve noticed away from independent website and toward friend network sites like Friendster and MySpace. Do not send messages en masse announcing that you have written a blog. Perhaps if I’m talking or virtually communicating with you through an instant message and you choose to let me know that I might be interested in something you’ve written, let me know. Send me an email. Drawing attention to something that you’ve done and leading me to read what it is as though it is essential when it is, in fact, nothing more than your personal ranking of the Spice Girls, in order of spiciness, pisses me off.
What we should all gather from this rant is a twofold pronouncement. First, I hate blogs. Second, I need to chill out.
Someone stop the Nazis!
I love baseball. I love it so much that I have been known to watch Devil Rays games--hell, I've attended a few Devil Rays games. I love baseball so much that I say my favorite season isn't summer, fall, winter, or spring, but baseball season. I love baseball enough to have endured several Kevin Costner movies. When I was younger, my grandparents took me to the Field of Dreams farm in Dyersville, Iowa. I remember the day well: I was wearing a pullover, pinstriped Chicago Cubs shirt, and blue shorts. I had a black baseball glove with me, and was so excited to be on that field. I gobbled up ground balls and tried to play the game competitively--enough so that I was upset when we didn't turn a double play. I love baseball so much that it helped me get a full-ride academic scholarship at the University of Iowa; writing essays about baseball can have good effects.
Naturally, the state of baseball right now has its drawbacks. Barry Bonds is two home runs short of tying Babe Ruth for second all-time. I can almost imagine his steroids-inflated head exploding when he passes Ruth. I can imagine the press conference afterwards, when Barry refuses to talk to the media. I can see him, smirking and sulking, something I call "smulking," in the corner, dealing with his own personal psychological and emotional exhaustion. And I don't care. I'm not an asterisk-guy when it comes to records. I'd prefer to wipe their records completely, but I acknowledge that we can still keep Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa in the record books for most home runs hit in a single season, but we know they were cheaters. Pete Rose, who broke the number-one rule of baseball, still is in the record books, and despite his denial of admission to the Hall of Fame, his accomplishments are what they are. He's just a terrible example of a person who destroyed the integrity of his own game.
Bonds and Rose, however, are not the real problem with the current state of baseball. The real problem with baseball is Johnny Damon. I suppose by extension, it's Scott Boras, but not entirely. The salaries are only part of the equation here. Whereas Alex Rodriguez came to baseball a rookie star, Johnny Damon, bursting with talent, developed into a star. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, and played a mean center field. He was fast, making amazing plays in center, stealing bases, and generating offense for the Royals. He was a Royal, too. I even attended "Johnny Damon Growth Chart Night" at Kaufmann Stadium. Kids in Kansas City loved Johnny Damon. Casual fans of the Royals knew about the guy. There was only one tiny problem: eventually, his contract would come due, and his value would be more than the Royals could place into one person. Think about the Texas Rangers and A-Rod. The Rangers spent so much money on a shortshop that they couldn't afford the pitching. The offense was pretty damn good, the team lost a lot of games 11-9, 12-6, and 15-13. The Royals, recognizing their position and coupled with the fact that early negotiations with Damon weren't going well, opted to trade Damon, in exchange for a closer with control problems and a shortstop prospect that ended up being Angel Berroa, 2003 Rookie of the Year. Of course, enter Carlos Beltran, another fantastic outfielder the Royals couldn't afford to keep.
Damon lasted about as long in Oakland as it took to get signed with Boston. Boost the salary, play the same game. He lasted four seasons in Boston, and then took a better offer from the biggest rival: the New York Yankees. I'm not arguing anything about the Yankee's practices: if I had the money to build the best team money could buy, I'd probably have a similar lineup. The problem is that lost in the shuffle of all of the money, trades, haircuts, boos, and cheers, is that Johnny Damon and the other big stars of the game don't appreciate the game anymore. The Johnny Damon of 2006 is much different from the Johnny Damon of 1999. The team-hopping, money-grabbing players who care nothing about the spirit of the rivalry and the equity of competition, and the owners and agents who perpetuate the market, have lost sight of Johnny Damon Growth Chart Night. They've lost sight of building and nuturing a love of baseball. The Pirates and Royals of the world have become nothing more than jumping-off points for players who start by loving the game and end by loving their accounts and images more.
List #1. Reasons to be a Republican.
Items of significance when considered in the grand scheme of things.
First, I make no claim to have the audacity to render significant what I believe to be significant to the masses: if this were the case, George W. Bush would not be the "President," Iraq would not be a quagmire, the Kansas City Royals would not be the worst team in baseball (again), officials from Conference-USA would never work a bowl game involving a team from the Big Ten, and bars the don't have Sam Adams on tap would have to pay a tax to me. Few events in my life have significance beyond myself, which accounts for both my great happiness and depression; the events of a few days ago, however, are significant to me, and I hope by extension to you.
A tornado (not a cyclone, as I have described in a roundabout, wholly infantile manner here), struck Iowa City on Thursday evening. Damage reports could be around 12 million dollars in structural costs, alone. A church was completely distroyed (as was one of the Dairy Queen franchises). A sorority house was ripped to pieces, exposing the inside for all the outside to see. Hundred-year-old trees were uprooted and tossed around; the College Green Park was turned into a twisted mass of lumber as the funnel tread across it, on its way to a more residential area. Three downtown bars suffered extensive damage, and the apartments above the bars became a brick depositories. Some students looted a liquor store that was extremely hard hit (wrong, but funny). Others took cash from the register at a pizza place that was 95% destroyed (wrong and not at all funny). The campus itself was largely untouched.
My apartment, on South Johnson Street, was untouched. The lawn and parking lots were littered with debris, mostly insulation, sticks, and shingles, but no damage was done. Three and half blocks away, a one-hundred-year old Catholic church is in ruins, and on Friday morning cars were found upside-down in bushes.
When the storm hit, I was alone in my apartment. The sirens went off the first time, and, as I watched the reports on TV, the warning was for an area of southern Johnson County--Iowa City is in northern Johnson County. As a result, I basically ignored the warning. Next, a heard the rapid smacking of hail on the aluminum overhang of my building. I went downstairs to watch the hail, which started no larger than pea-sized, and ended around shooter marble-sized. I went outside as the rain started to come down, hoping to watch the storm intensify (for those of you who aren't as familiar with my likes, violent thunderstorms are near the top of my list of "cool things"). The sirens went off again around the time that the power went out in the building. I was still outside, but ventured back in, hearing some people say that a tornado was spotted near Wal*Mart (bastards) not far from my apartment. Beer in hand, I went back outside.
From my vantage point behind my apartment, the lightning was non-stop. The hail continued, now approaching its largest size. The rain also intensified, but the wind went from basically strong to tremendously strong. About that time, I started back toward the side door. At the step by the door, I saw another long set of lightning flashes, and in its glare, I saw debris flying in the air, not far away. It was at that point that the three of us who were still outside, shall I say, scurried into the downstairs hallway, where the others in building had gathered. We sat in the basement, using the lights from the LCDs of cell phones to illuminate the quarters. For over half an hour, we waited there. When we emerged later, my neighborhood was fine; my town was not.
Attempting to call out on cell phones became next to impossible. The circuits were jammed, and slowly we started hearing reports of damage downtown. Disregarding the dangers of downed power lines, broken glass, nails, gnarled, twisted metal, and jagged 2x4s, I walked downtown to survey the damage. From the pictures I took the next day, you can see that when the tornado went, it caused a lot of damage. Realizing that but for four blocks, my fate could have been different is quite humbling. Watching my home be pieced back together by its transient residents is inspiring. The repair of Iowa City will take a lot of money, time, and hard work, but the determination is already apparent.
I think I'm having some sort of unfortunate low-grade quarter-life crisis at the moment. Before you start making some sort of comment about my being too old for one of those, I must remind everyone that my great grandmother lived to be 104 years old, and if she could subsist that long on cheese and beer, so can I. I'm currently 25, so really, I shouldn't have my quarter-life crisis until next year. Besides, think of all of those men who have mid-life crises in their mid-5os. Do we honestly think these type-A personalities will last another 50+ years? Doubt it. Perhaps, however, this crisis is really just an amalgamation of "stressors" that are working to "stress me." For the record, I don't get stressed. That's a waste of everyone's energy. But let's examine the current situation.
#1. I need an apartment. Living in a college town means finding a new apartment for August in February. It's nearly April. I don't have a roommate lined up. I don't have money. I need a cat, too, which makes everything else so complicated. If only I could win Powerball, put my education temporarily on hold, travel the world until I get sick of visiting new and exciting places (seems unlikely), and buy a house or condo in which I could live comfortably, complete with a tremendous kitchen.
#2. I need money for school. I find it ridiculous that the University of Iowa doesn't want to give me free money anymore. After four undergrad years of worrying about nothing related to fiduciary statements, I realize now that I'm screwed. I have to pay for tuition, an apartment (which I don't have as of the end of July), my car payment, and my outrageous grocery bills. Loans? How? How much? Good idea/bad idea? Robbing a bank? Which one? What time of day is more likely for success? All of these ideas are very time consuming.
#3. I need to go sky diving. All right, that's not true. I don't need to do that, and frankly, I'm not sure that I'd want to. Wait, sure I would. If the Amazing Race has taught me anything, it's that I should go on the Amazing Race. Who doesn't want to rappel down a 400-foot office building in São Paulo, Brazil? Who doesn't want to jetset to Moscow and jump off the high dive into the water on a brisk February day only to end up in Munich 24 hours later? Who doesn't want to give me a million dollars? So, I'd settle for sky diving. Or, for more relaxation, a hot air balloon ride. I've never done that, and that's something I've always wanted to do.
#4. I have a receding hair line. It's not as bad as some of my old friends' and roommates', but it's a source of regular paranoia.
As you can see, I have a crisis on my hands. Now, to do what I do everyday. Make lunch, have a beer or a glass of wine with said lunch, and do next to nothing.