Today in two images

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To be perfectly accurate, there would also have to be maybe a third image where there is hours of staring at a screen with nothing of any import getting accomplished, but you can’t have everything you want in life.

My current goal for the day– and it’s a goal because it might not get done— is to clear out my comic book backlog from the last couple of weeks.

I’m a champion, guys.

On overthinking things

vFZ9eminem-hi-my-name-is-slim-shady-name-tag-design-4-x-2.jpgSo technically we’re supposed to wear nametags when we’re at work.  In practice this almost never happens unless there’s a corporate visit coming; sometimes someone will put theirs on for the hell of it and then it tends to spread virally; if a shift starts with one person wearing a nametag, everyone will have theirs on by the end of that shift, but it usually doesn’t happen.

Our previous work nametags are pretty utilitarian; they’ve got the corporate logo on them and a space for your name (printed on a laser printer and slid into a little hole on the side) and that’s it.  Recently for some reason corporate has decided that our nametags need to be more “fun.”  And we have a visit coming by a Lord High Muckety-Muck next week, and so the new, fun name tags need to be at least ordered if not actually on everyone’s shirts.

They require that, in addition to our names, we reveal our hometowns and, and this is the kicker, a passion.  Like so:

NAME:
Luther

HOMETOWN:
Chicago, IL

PASSION:
Butt stuff

Only it can’t say “butt stuff,” because, I dunno, reasons, and I also have to admit that I grew up here in Somewhere in Northern Indiana, which I find vaguely annoying.  I should have just put Chicago and dared someone to correct it.

The problem is that “passion” part.  One, I’m philosophically opposed to it.  I’m a goddamn furniture salesman.  I know that connecting with customers is supposed to be a great help in making sales and blah blah blah, but goddammit I’m at work and I’m doing my job and the fact that you want a chiffarobe does not entitle you to know shit about my life.   

Plus, it has to be something that’s not intrinsically alienating to any substantial percentage of our customer base, and it has to be something that doesn’t lead to conversations with customers that I don’t want to have.  So, for example: I could say politics!  I am, in fact, passionate about politics!  Only no, because the last fucking thing I want to talk to any of my customers about is politics for a wide variety of reasons.  I could say writing!  That is also a true thing!  The only problem with that is that it leads to talking to people about my writing, which I really don’t want to do at work, and even if they happen to be sci-fi/fantasy people who might enjoy my work, handing them one of Luther’s cards would lead them back here, and that opens all sorts of potential cans of worms that I don’t really want open.  I don’t badmouth my customers all that damn often and it’s incredibly rare (I can’t think of any examples, in fact, although I’m sure there are some) that I tell stories about specific individuals but still.  I don’t need those worlds mixing.  Books?  Okay, but I don’t want to get into talking about reading (or the fact that my customers don’t read) with every jamoke who reads my name tag.

The other possibility is to make it a joke.  I spent a long time considering just putting “Apples” as my passion, because hell, who doesn’t like apples?  Another one I considered:  extispicy, which is fortunetelling using the entrails of sacrificed animals.  My manager shot that down for some reason, and pointing out that another staff member had chosen “charcuterie” did not gain me any points.

I ended up picking astronomy, which means that I’ll be explaining the difference between astronomy and astrology a lot.  But it’s true and will probably not lead to obnoxious conversations.  Fact of the matter is, once the muckety-muck is gone I will go right back to not wearing the nametag, so any amount of thought past the first five minutes that I put into this is probably wasted time anyway.  But what the hell.  I gotta do something when I’m not selling furniture.

Tech and Tattoos: a generational inquiry

i-xRDcb5d.jpgAnyone with any aptitude for technology has encountered this scenario, right?  The Family Tech Support issue, where you’re stuck between just fixing their problem, whatever it is, and refusing to help at all and just screaming read the words on the screen over and over again until they either help themselves or hang up on you.  And that last panel is always the end result of any of these conversations.

It’ll happen to you, too, they say, or maybe you think it to yourself.  Sooner I’ll be relying on my kids to help me figure out why the clock in my ocular implant is always blinking 12:00 over and over again, or I’ll need my son to point out to me that the reason my touchscreen “doesn’t work” is because I won’t just touch the thing and insist on stabbing at it with the tip of my finger like I’m hitting a key on a manual typewriter.

Lemme change the subject for a second.

I have six tattoos, and I’ve been fighting the urge for a seventh for the last few weeks– in fact, I’ve woken up a few times in the last few weeks convinced that I was going to go get another one that day.  When I got my first one (and this was 20 years ago now) I heard from my parents exactly what every other person my age heard from their parents.

“What are you going to do when you’re 80 and you still have that?”

And here’s the thing (and let me be clear, I’m not talking about my parents specifically here; this is a widespread cultural phenomenon): when people ask you that, they’re suffering from a weird sort of blind spot: they’re thinking of old people now, who are comparatively less likely to have tattoos unless they were in the Navy or something.  When I’m 80– which, good luck, fat boy– I will console myself with the knowledge that probably 70% of the rest of the 80 year olds sharing space with me in the nursing home will also have tattoos.  It will be normal.  Yeah, they’ll all be saggy and blurry and faded.  So the fuck what?  It’s not going to be weird at all.  2/3 of people my age have tattoos and we will still have tattoos when we are old.

Let’s talk video games.  When I was a kid, playing video games was a thing For Kids.  The notion that there would ever be jobs connected to video games was considered ludicrous; video games were a thing that we were all going to Grow Out Of, and they’d stay a Thing for Kids forever.  Why?  Because in the late eighties the Nintendo was a Thing for Kids.

I’m 40 and still playing video games, and I suspect a fair number of the people who were playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out with me are too.  And I suspect a lot of those who aren’t are likely out of gaming because of reasons unrelated to maturity.

So, I ask you: how likely is it really that people my age are going to have to be calling our kids to get basic tech shit explained to us in 20 years?  In ten, when my son is 15?  What exactly is going to change about me or the way I look at the world that’s going to cause me to lose the ability– or, more importantly, the desire, because that’s actually the salient difference here– to figure new shit out, other than actual dementia?

Nothing.  It ain’t gonna happen.  Will there be some aspects of technology/Future Life that I’m not going to get?  Sure, but that’s because of youth culture, not because of the tech itself.  I don’t know what the fuck Tumblr is for, and I don’t really get Snapchat, but my confusions are more of the why would you want to do this variety rather than I need this to make my life work, please show me how to use it.  

At 40, I’m about as old as you can be and still claim to be a “digital native,” a phrase more likely to be applied to millennials than people my age.  But I grew up with this shit, and the upbringing my son is getting right now is really not that different from my own childhood.  My first home game system was an Atari.  I had a Commodore 64/128 that I used to dial into local BBS systems over a 300 baud modem.  I spent so much time on BBSes that my parents had to install a second phone line in my bedroom.  I had a cell phone in 1995 or 1996, way before most people had them.  I still tend to be an early adopter in a lot of ways and my affinity for tech stuff is a key part of my personality.

And all of this is just supposed to go away at some point, when I have to start calling my son for tech support?  When, exactly?  When am I going to stop being myself, absent some sort of literal mental deterioration?(*)  It’s not going to happen.  This is just as much of a canard as Old People Don’t Have Tattoos or You’re Going to Grow Out of Gaming.

Or maybe I’m just hugely immature.  I dunno.


Somewhat unrelated contention: I hate the phrase “Generation X” and always have.  Gen Xers are older than me; I’m not one of them.  Millennials are younger than me and I’m not one of them either.  You may refer to my generation as either Generation Star Wars or Generation Nintendo; they both work as far as I’m concerned.

The clearest sign of whether you are in my generation or you are a millennial is this, by the way: if Pokémon was part of your childhood, you are a millennial.

The end.


(*) I am, and I hope this is obvious, not suggesting that people who aren’t good with technology are suffering from some sort of disorder.  But if it were to happen to me, it would probably be a sign that I needed to go see somebody.  That’s all I’m saying.