Friday, March 22, 2013

Living the unemployed life

It's been a little over a week since I got fired from my job. I'm still unemployed. At this point, it's still being viewed in my head as a long vacation. You can take a week off from work and still be fine. I'm relaxing and sleeping a lot.

We're not quite up to the "hard times" that I mentioned in my last blog. Sometimes I get an idea in my head that I think is clever. If I don't have an opportunity to throw that idea out there, then I sit on it for a while. For at least a couple years now, I have had the idea to write about "hard times" and put a link in to the famous Dusty Rhodes promo when you click those words. And, I finally was able to do that in the last blog. So, now you know how my sad mind works.

Sometimes I wait too long to break out my idea and it's no longer relevant. Back in the summer of 2009, twitter had been around for a little bit, but was not quite the mainstream social media network that it is today. I had gotten into twitter a little before the mainstream curve and was telling anybody who would listen that it was awesome.

One of the issues people were having with twitter was that they were unsure about the character limit. Can you really express yourself in only 140 characters? As people got more tech savvy, they realized that the character limit was really nothing to worry about.

One night back in the summer of 2009 an idea hit me. Usually, inspiration hits me in the form of a single sentence or group of sentences. I have that **AHA** moment where something witty or powerful or funny comes into my head. I have my hook. Then I usually form an entire story or post to build up to that one line.

I was going to write this big thing about how cool twitter was. I was going to mention all of the features, like how you can connect to people, how hashtags were important, etc and whatnot. Then I was going to address the space issue. I was going to end the article by writing something to the effect of, "And, people worry about the space issues. Can you accurately express yourself in only 140 characters? Well, there is no need for one to worry about such a silly issue as expressing yourself in only 140 characters as there is ample room to fit everything you would need into less characters than your standard text message. And, if you've paid attention, you'll notice that every sentence in this article was 140 characters or less (except for that last one)."

At the time, I was being used a little more regularly by the Princeton Times as a freelancer. I couldn't blog about this idea, it was so good I needed to be paid for it. The problem was that there wasn't any room in the freelance budget for me. Time kept passing and passing and suddenly my idea was no longer relevant.

Now if I write an article about how cool twitter is, people would shrug and say, "Yeah, we all know that, bro. Go write about something original." It was a cool idea back in 2009.


What have I been doing with my free time? I originally made plans to attend the March 20, meeting of Concord's Student Government Association. What else was I going to do? But, plans, as they say, change. And, I didn't make it there. So, fair warning, unless I'm employed, I'll be at the March 27 meeting.

I have been doing something productive lately, which is good. I have a schedule of classes picked out for the fall semester. So, all I have to do is sign up for those whenever I'm able to and I'll officially be a student again. I know, isn't that crazy?

I've been working with Trena Bolin in the "Academic Success Center" about getting me back in school. I have a few issues I have to work out regarding financial aid and the FAFSA and whatnot and then I should be set. We'll see how it works out.

I read the newest issue of The Concordian while I was on campus earlier. Again, it is what it is. I could go through it with a red pen and mark it up with all the little things I don't like about it, but that's nitpicking (and I preferred to use a blue pen back in my day - it's less threatening than red). It should be somebody's job to nitpick and work with the staff to correct minor errors and things of that nature; I don't know if anybody's doing that, though. And, honestly, I shouldn't call certain things "errors." The thing with journalism is that there's honestly no right or wrong, there's just different ways. Some work better than others. Some of the things that they are doing aren't working as well as they could be. That doesn't mean the staff is doing anything wrong.

I really enjoyed most of the Opinions section this week. Or, this bi-week, or however we say that. Sara Cameron had a nice article about trying to get healthy by quitting smoking and eliminating caffeine from her diet. It reminds me of a similar piece I wrote in 2009 about trying to get healthier. The best opinion pieces are things that resonate with people and they can relate to. Being healthy is important. I wrote about it. She wrote about it. I'm sure more people will write about it in the future. I like it. We need more common-sense pieces that are easy for people to read and go, "Yeah, I agree/disagree with that."

Jonathan LLoyd had the potential to write one of the best things I had read in The Concordian in years. Instead, he just wrote something that amused me and made me smile. He quoted a 2002 article of The Concordian where the columnist complained about the slow Internet speed. He looked at the conditions she listed and wrote, "I laughed when I found this article, and couldn't help but be amused by the sheer irony. Eleven years later, and I hear students complaining every day about problems with Concord Internet. I hear talk of upgrades and the like, and I wonder to myself... What do you think? What will Concord students of 2024 be saying?"

The only problem with the piece is that it's too short and basically turns into an advertisement for students to submit letters to the editor. He could have developed something very nice about how people complain too much and don't realize how good they have things. Just look at these facts he dug up about the Internet 11 years ago; appreciate what you have. Instead, he says, "Here's some stats. Write a letter."

There's a confusing cartoon with it, showing a robotic horse jumping over a clock. I guess the horse represents "horse power" and the clock illustrates that the horse power (the Internet?) is slow? It probably shouldn't be that complicated.

The other article on the opinions section is by Cody Neff. I'll try to tread lightly here, because I don't want him to leave another snarky comment telling me that I'm wrong to criticize one of his articles and to stop being a whiny baby. He also made fun of my occupation in his last comment; imagine the field day he'll have with talking shit about me getting fired.

Ironically, his piece is about maturity. As a supplement to his piece, Cody creates a flow chart that illustrates if you're being immature. You have two questions to answer. If you answer yes to one or both, you are immature. The issue here is that we don't need the approximately 1000-plus words he writes on the subject. The 6x4 inch picture of his flow chart says everything his rambles ramble on about.

Now, I'm not one to talk against rambling. I don't even want to count how many words you've had to suffer through to get to this point. But, if he needs that many words to express himself, then more power to him. The last thing I'll say on the subject - and hopefully it resonates with him - is that I didn't finish reading it and I doubt many others actually finished it. Look up the word "concise" and live by it.

That seems like enough for now. I'll leave on a personal note. I shaved my beard. Everybody at work will be shocked. I was "that guy with the beard" for a while. And, I think that's why I got away from it the other day. That part of my life is over for right now and so is being identified by the - at times excessive - amount of hair on my face. I updated some pictures on my Facebook in that "progression" album I have of my hair growing over the years. Click here to see how bad the beard got at one point in December.