Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

4 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

Dear Jack,

With our closing date just 3 and a half weeks away (January 29th), when we go to visit the progress on our house now, it’s not so much “oh look what they put in!” as much as it is “what else do they need to do before our closing date?”

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

At this rate, we’re mainly just lacking carpet, sod for the yard, and the fence!

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

So now our new home has the dark brown hardwood floors we chose (currently covered with cardboard for protection), shelves in the closets, the toilets, the microwave (which we’ll never use but we know would help the resale value should we ever move, though we never plan to), the dishwasher, and the oven.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

As for the washer and dryer, those are our responsibilities, but as I recently mentioned, Mommy and I bought those during Christmas break.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

And as a family, we bought our refrigerator at Lowe’s, using the 10% off coupon we received when we moved out of our town home.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

(I’m still not ready to write to you about that because we’re still unclear how much money we made off the deal… I feel that story is yet unsettled.)

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

You talked Mommy and me into buying you a plastic candy cane on clearance for 50 cents, there at Lowe’s.

After we left Lowe’s, you had way too much fun with that thing when we stopped at Whole Foods to buy groceries.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

You created a wagon by attaching the candy cane to a grocery basket. While Mommy did the shopping, I ushered you to emptier aisles so that you wouldn’t run into anyone.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

For the record, the “emptier aisles” at Whole Foods were the soda/beverage one and the one with dog food.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

I admit, there’s a certain amount of stress and anxiety in Mommy and me having to orchestrate the move and all the details that must come together the weekend of January 29th.

Like, for example, I’m in the midst of asking around who I should get Internet through, in Spring Hill.

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

We used AT&T at our townhome in Nashville and we had no problems at all, but I do wonder if we could save some money there?

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

What we’re used to paying is $50 a month for just Internet, since we only watch Netflix on our TV.

While the big day approaching will be exciting for our family, I’ll be glad once we get all these loose ends tied and I can know for sure we actually get to move in the weekend of January 29th; and our appliances are installed and working along with the Internet.

Love,

Daddy

The Blog Sniper (or, The Classic Case of the Compliment Intertwined with Condescending Criticism)

Um… thanks?

I’m convinced there are certain people in the world who truly can not (or will not) simply compliment another person- they feel they are doing the person a favor by also incorporating some sort of condescending criticism which picks at a minor detail to negate the positive vibes of the compliment itself.  Sort of like the way certain people can not (or will not) truly apologize, by saying something lame like this: “Well if I did something to hurt your feelings I’m sorry…”  That kind of apology translates as “I’m sorry you’re such a baby and sorry that you’re trying to make me look like the bad guy.”

Just last week when I published What Not to Say If You Want People to Like You 101, one of the points I touched on was “Knowing How to Actually Compliment Someone”.  Then ironically yesterday a random stranger acted out exactly what I had just mocked a few days before.  Click here (healthnutshell: Ketchup Vs. Mustard) to read a post I wrote which contrasts the types of food that ketchup and mustard are generally paired with.

In case you didn’t click on the link and haven’t read the comment I’m referring to, here it is again: Bahaha… you make a good point, but I doubt that by avoiding ketchup, you have succeeded in eating healthily. XD This is good stuff to know, but I also feel that it is a little fanatical. Thanks for the information, though!”

Here’s a breakdown of that comment:

“Bahaha”- A condescending laugh which translates as “that’s ridiculous”.

“You make a good point.”- An honest compliment.

“But I doubt that by avoiding ketchup, you have succeeded in eating healthily.” – A correction of my quirky lifestyle.  Totally missing the point, since I didn’t write the post in a tone of absolutes: “Because ketchup, in most cases, is paired with unhealthy foods that are either processed or fried.” Throughout the post I downgrade ketchup, yes, but I never say I refuse to eat it or that I don’t ever eat it.  Nor did I say that I am trying to eat healthy by simply avoiding ketchup.  Instead, I said: “So my general rule of thumb is, I stay away from foods that are enhanced by ketchup.”

“XD”- A slang symbol meaning “big smile”, an attempt to lighten the mood back.

“This is good stuff to know…” Another compliment.

“But I also feel it is a little fanatical.” – A call to put me on the defense.  Really?  I’m a fanatic just because I made an observation that typically ketchup is a condiment for less healthy foods, namely processed and fried?

“Thanks for the information…”– A expression of gratefulness.

“…though.”- In other words, “Thanks for the info, despite how laughable most of it was.”

Looking through each line of the comment, it is interesting the way this reader used the pattern “negative, positive, negative, positive…”  In fact, this may be the most perfect example I’ve ever seen of the classic case of the compliment intertwined with criticism.  That takes talent.

I literally laughed out loud when I read the comment.  Because it’s so tacky.  I think, “Make up your mind, either insult me, or compliment me, but don’t do both at the same time.  Commit.”  I totally respect someone’s opinion if they truly disagree with mine and don’t have a subtle motive to undermine my efforts.  But they have to be cool about it.  Etiquette still exists.

Otherwise, like in this case, it just becomes a joke to me.

But it’s evident from that comment that the person probably makes a daily habit of correcting everyone else, likely with a sarcastic tone, in an subconscious effort to feel in control.  Similar to the case of Some People Like Being Offended and/or Taking Advantage…

Be excellent to each other.

This event also reminds me of an excerpt of Christian Lander’s book, Stuff White People Like.  He is explaining that some white people let a little bit of positive feedback go to their heads too easily and that it eventually can get out of hand.  Therefore, he gives this advice to prevent that from happening:

“Do not dole out your praise like pinata candy… it is best to tease them with little bits of praise, balanced with a few barbs: ‘I have to hand it to you for putting KRS-One on that party mix.  I mean, you went with a pretty well-known song, but still, good job'”.

It’s just funny that in the Internet world it’s somehow more acceptable to go around criticizing people for the sake of trying to sound smarter than someone else who was creative enough to invent.  But I guess with the wave of online writers come just as many online critics.  And my guess is that the critics aren’t themselves inventing any original content- just looking to start a sophisticated food fight about ketchup and mustard.

I say let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”.  And when possible, find ways to truly compliment people, not find perceived fault in their creativity.  There’s not enough of sincere complimenting going on in the world.  Especially when “compliments intertwined with condescending criticism” are so popular.

Sammy sings praises, not pious put-downs.

Generation Y Finds Free WiFi

Internet is free unless you want to pay for it.


I am truly convinced that somehow one day Internet service will be free to all with access to a computer. The thing is, it’s already kind of that way- at least in a city the size of Nashville. A monumental event happened last week when Starbucks officially began advertising free WiFi in their stores. For months I have been mocking them for being so behind the times, as they have been charging by the hour for Internet service when McDonald’s has been offering it for a while now. In fact, Starbucks was the last major (and still relevant) store to join the crowd.

It’s quite symbolic of the direction that Internet is heading. I haven’t paid for Internet the entire 4 ½ years I’ve lived in Nashville. My laptop automatically picks up the nearest open network wherever I am, or wherever I’m driving by and decide to drop in- hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, churches, book stores, even auto repair shops provide Internet for me while I wait on my car. And I have weekly taken advantage of all those places.

Last weekend I went in to Verizon to renew my contract (and more importantly, get a new free phone they always offer for staying with them). I found the phone I wanted- it was small, light, and shaped like a stone. Yet when the salesman came over to help me I learned that the only way I could get that phone would be to get Internet through them for about $30 extra dollars a month. I made the mistake of telling him that eventually Verizon will offer free Internet (so that people will buy more expensive phones that make better use of online capabilities).

The guy actually said this to me in an attempt to make a sell: “Having Internet on your phone makes life so much easier. You may look out the window and see a rain cloud and wonder what the weather is going to be like that day. If you have the Internet on your phone, you can look up the weather forecast and find out.”

Really?! Really. Seems like the word “rain” in the phrase “rain cloud” might have given me a clue…

He wanted to argue with/educate me about technology so I simply replied, “Where are the phones that don’t require me to purchase additional Internet service?” I ended up leaving the store, with my same two-year old phone. The few options that didn’t require Internet were no more advanced than the phone I have now so I’ve decided to hold off on trading in my old one for a new one. It would be ridiculous to pay for what I already can get for free (the Internet) or try use my “free new phone” pass on a phone identical to the one I already have. And since I don’t live with a constant need to Tweet, I will manage just fine.

Surely it says something about access to free Internet use when I have built and maintained this website mainly using the Internet of Borders (where I’m posting this from now) and other coffee shop types of venues. If anyone should have to pay for Internet, it should be me. But I never have.

It just requires diligence, patience, and creativity. I also have never paid for cable- I paid $60 a few years ago for “bunny ears” at Best Buy that give me access to ABC, NBC, and Fox (plus some obscure Canadian channels). That’s how I watch the shows that I do recaps of. As for TV shows I want to see that don’t come on the major networks, I can easily watch them on their network’s website. Of course I am willing to part with $9 a month for Netflix- I began subscribing the month they started offering free instant streaming.

There’s a very thin line between being cheap and being smart. I’m okay with either side of that line.

Being Excessive and Eventually Finding Common Ground: My First 40,000 Hits on WordPress

Thanks for 40,000 hits.

In my 313 posts on Scenic Route Snapshots, I’ve covered so many random topics along the way that if you type into my search box on the right side of the screen (“Curious? Type any word in the box…) the first off-the-wall word that comes to mind, you are quite likely to pull up at least one entry.  Try it right now if you’d like.  Go ahead, I’ll still be here.

Here are a few examples to try: John Candy, 1977, duckbill platypus, moped, or Ohio.

It all goes back to #9 of The Code: Write an excessive number of posts every month. They won’t all be awesome, but it’s often the ones that I predict won’t really connect with readers that are the ones that really do.  The more I write, the better I’ll be, and the better I’ll know how to connect to readers.”

Perhaps the greatest example of this theory occurred this week: WordPress hand-selected  The Korean Sauna Experience: Friendship, Friendship as a feature story on their “Freshly Pressed” homepage ( wordpress.com/).  Accordingly, my daily traffic has benefited:  The first day I was featured I got 1,748 hits and the second day 1,646.  (Last week’s daily average was 584.)

The funny thing about this is- of the hundreds of posts of written in the past five years, that particular one in my opinion, is definitely not one of my best.  At 1500 words, it’s over twice the length of most things I write.  It’s seems a bit of a bore to me- though I have to keep in mind that it’s an event that I experienced six years ago, so it’s no longer that exciting to me.  But for someone hearing it for the first time, I could see how it could have a different effect.

The point being, I simply lazily posted a familiar story on my website- just another brick in the wall.  But it caught the eye of the right person and found favor with them, which has increased reader subscriptions and daily hits.  In part, because I post an excessive amout of my writings.

I’m way too scatter-brained to come up with a smart theme like http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/, which is creative, yet focused.  Maybe I’m just a conditioned channel-changer, a product of the 1980’s.  Getting exhausted by having to think about the same concept for everything I write about.  So I just write about whatever comes to mind, which by default, ends up being about one of the following things: My Categories: Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, Spirituality, Writing, and Recaps.

So what I can’t accomplish by being clever enough to come up with one solid money-making idea, I plan to make up for in my excessiveness- by typically publishing an average of 28 posts every month, basically one per day.  (Usually I don’t post anything on the weekends, but at least 2 or 3 every weekday, averaging about to about one a day.)

I guess when it comes down to it, I’ve set a secret goal to publish more posts than anyone I know that has a website.  So far, I’ve been successful at meeting that goal.  Doing my best to slowly take over a corner of the Internet, so that whatever noun a person types into Google, they will easily find their way to me.

So in my Spumoniness, I am able to reach out to several demographics of people.  And my hope is that in the end, I won’t be just a gimmick or a fad that people eventually forget about as I fade away into obscurity.  I want to be here in the background of your life, writing the coming-of-age literary soundtrack.

Other posts of this “10,000 Hits” series:

Being Down to Earth, Yet Never Really Touching the Ground (posted April 11, 2010)

Being Original, Yet Never Really Breaking New Ground (posted May 18, 2010)

Being Engaging, Yet Never Really Standing on Dangerous Ground (posted on June 10, 2010)

The Naked in Public Dream: Subconsciously Feeling Vulnerable, Underprepared, or Inadequate

You’re not the only one.

I have a rare ability.  When in a dream that I don’t want to be in, I often can tell myself, “This is a stupid dream.  You don’t have to keep dreaming this.  Just wake up”. And I do.  I wake up.  Usually.

Waking myself up is the easy part; the hard thing to do is to realize it’s actually just a dream.  And there are two dreams in which I never seem to realize it’s all my imagination.  1) I’m back in high school or college and I’m about to graduate, then I realize I was scheduled for a class that I forgot about and never went to, meaning I can’t graduate on time.  2) I’m naked in public.

Of course, the classic “naked in public” dream is quite popular among the general population.  Supposedly the dream means the person feels vulnerable and may be afraid that everyone will see that person for their true self.

Do I feel vulnerable?  Do I feel afraid everyone will see me for my true self?

I guess if anyone might feel vulnerable it could be me, since I’ve been journaling my life on the Internet for five years now (first on MySpace, then on facebook, now on here).  That’s a vulnerable situation.  I could unintentionally offend a reader, or embarrass myself by exposing too much about my personal life.  But as far as I know, I am indeed exposing my true self to people.  If not, this whole website is a sham.

A whole website which generally 400 to 500 people a day visit.  If all my writings are written from the perspective of a person I wished I was, instead of who I really am, then I am impressed.  Because that means I am talented enough to write daily from a created character’s narrative perspective, not my own.  Like the plot of Fight Club, or the dumbed-down version: Secret Window.

While it’s easy to feel frantic in a “naked in public” dream, it’s also easy to laugh once you wake up.  Because from a logical point of view, like many dreams, the chances of the events of the dream ever happening are so impractical that they’re basically impossible.

The question I never asked myself in the naked in public dream is, most importantly, “how did I lose my clothes anyway?”

Often I am at my old elementary school (as a grown 29 year-old man).  Conveniently, no one else seems to care that I am naked, covering myself with whatever random object I can pick up off the ground.  And that’s supposed to mean that I don’t care about people seeing me for who I really am, including all my personalities.  That must be true, since I’ve written about that exact topic before in The Personality Pyramid, which is currently my 10th most popular post of the 310 on this site.

Seriously, it’s not easy to lose your close in a public place, and then have no one notice or care.  When I have these dreams, I’m not victim of violence.  I just simply flat out lost my clothes in public.

But I imagine that in real life if I ever took off my clothes (or they just took themselves off) in public, and couldn’t find new ones, I would gladly settle for one of those barrels with straps to go over my shoulders.  I always thought those looked cool.  The problem is, I only see them in caricatures or cartoons.

If I wanted to buy a wearable barrel with shoulder straps, where would I begin?

If I could get a barrel or normal clothes when naked in public, I would settle for a long black trench coat.  Because I would already be creepy for being irresponsible enough to lose my clothes in public, I might as play the full part.  Then I could only expose myself to people who deserved it:

People talking loudly in public on their Blue Tooths.

http://www.meaningofdreams.org/dream_themes/beingnakeddreams.htm

The Modern Day Tower of Babel, Perhaps (The Internet and Online Social Networks)

If twenty years ago someone had tried to describe to us what the Internet was and how drastically it would change our lives, we would be as lost someone trying to watch LOST for the first time starting with Season 4. In 1993, Time magazine did a cover story about predictions of future technology involving the way people would share information. Vaguely, they were seeing a glimpse of the World Wide Web. But the way they presented it was more like a form of cable TV that would have at least 500 channels.

Instead, a year later in 1994 my 8th grade science teacher Bill Martin showed our class this weird way he could use the classroom phone line and his computer to talk to other scientists across the country, instantly. That was my introduction to the Internet. Three years later, the Internet became less of a weird thing that I could only observe from a distance, as some of my friends with Internet let me aimlessly wander through thousands of websites at their house. By 2000, I had my own hotmail account and my own daily access to the Internet.

But even ten years ago, the Internet was much more primal. For casual users like me, all I really did was catch up with distant family and friends through e-mail and use MSN’s search to look at websites that had trivia about the ‘80’s. And I didn’t know any better; I thought it was awesome.

Now in 2010, life on the Internet is completely different. More concise. When I need a good picture, I’ve got Google Images. When I need knowledge on any subject, I’ve got Wikipedia. When I need a video clip, I’ve got YouTube. And to keep in daily contact with family, friends, and people I had one class with in college and barely remember, there is facebook. Those four websites ARE the Internet to me.

The building of the Tower of Babel has for some reason always interested me: After Noah and his immediate family survived the world-wide flood, and waited almost a year inside the ark for the water to recede from the land, they were told by God to “fill the Earth” and for the first time ever, to kill and eat animals (the first ten generations of people were vegetarians). In other words, move to a new land and have large families to repopulate the world (Genesis 9).

Instead, within a few hundred years most of these people were still living in the same area they started in. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Then, in an act that reminds me of myself as a 10 year-old boy dragging a rake through a giant ant bed, God decided to “confuse” the language of the people (Genesis 11). From there, it appears to me that the people of each of the same language regrouped and moved to a new land, eventually forming new countries, as God originally wanted to them to do.

Several thousands of years later, mankind has successfully filled the Earth. We now have almost 7,000 different languages, while English is arguably the most universal. But with the capabilities and practicality of the Internet, we have formed an abstract, intangible form of the Tower of Babel. Technically. Sort of. Maybe. It’s at least got me thinking.

Every time I’ve seen any sort of worldwide system of anything in the Bible, it’s always been a bad thing. When mankind finds a way to harness too much knowledge and/or power, God doesn’t like it- as people tend to depend more on each other and themselves. From Adam and Eve’s eyes being opened to the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, to the end of the world involving the mysterious “mark of the beast” (some sort of universal personal ID providing a way for people to pay for goods and services) in Revelation.

Then again, what better way for the fortunate to bless the less fortunate then by using the communication of the Internet to give and set up help for the needy.

Maybe I’m the stoic eccentric man holding the sign with the phrase “THE END IS NEAR”. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. But I still love technology.

Wake Up, Get Going, Run Hard, Wind Down, Shut Off, Repeat

There is something comforting in routine.

Most of us participate in some sort of daily routine that guides along our bodies and minds throughout each 24 hour period.  First, we get stimulated with coffee, tea, a hearty breakfast, or even just by reading the newest daily articles on MSN or our favorite online author.  The day hasn’t officially begun until we have done whatever it takes to “wake up”.  I know on any given day, I’m no good until I’ve been awake for 90 minutes- until then, I’m just a Sayid zombie.

Once we are in gear, we spend most of the daylight hours doing our thing.  Being active in body and mind.  Good stress hopefully more than bad.  Often the part of the day where hours seem to pass the quickest, since this is typically the busiest time. 

But then, as we approach the final work hour of the day, we begin reaching for the towel- the towel to throw in, and call it a day.  This begins the “wind down” phase where we start becoming less active.  By the time we get home from work, we’re ready for whatever it is that helps us to drift off just a little, to wander out of our “active mode”. 

Mindless TV, playing on the Internet, a halfway nap, a walk outside, a beverage of choice- something to signify to ourselves- “I’ve still got stuff to do, but I’m at my own pace now”.  Then we do whatever we want to do (along with most whatever those we live with want to do). 

A few (or several) hours later, we’re asleep.  Then we start it over the next morning.

This is nothing groundbreaking, as we are all obviously familiar with the routine of an average weekday.  But for me, it’s interesting to see this typed out in front of me.  It shows me though a routine often symbolizes monotony, routine also keeps this interesting and different.

To imagine a typical weekday without our “wake up” and “wind down” devices…

Just to wake up, fully alert, and remain that way all day until we go to bed and instantly fall asleep.  No coffee.  No playing on the Internet or reading.  Nothing to float us through the mundane parts of the day. 

Nothing superficial to push us or jerk us in the right direction or up to the necessary speed. 

We rely on routine.  We rely on vices.  Routine helps our lives from becoming too routine.