A little animation.

I’ve been dabbling in animation and learning much about the skill. It’s…wowzers. I think a lot of people underestimate just how much work would go into a simple animated scene. Even working with a lowered framerate, it’s a *lot* of images to create. Depending on your method (there are oddities in the process that can change the workload) and the framerate you’re working with, a simple on minute graphic can be comprised of thousands of images, and each of them drawn by somebody.

I made this;

Even with some cheeky frame recycling…this was surprisingly challenging and time consuming. It’s about six hours worth of work, three of which were cussing, two of which were drawing, and one of which was befuddlement. (The timeframe was not as regimented as it seems; the three component skills were scattered throughout the six hour working time.)

My future products will be much better. Stick figures are the training wheels of animation. It’s generally easier to map and move a stick figure that to manipulate a human form. Humans have musculature and that complicates matters. But, Stickies are a good starting point that lets you get your practice in with a safety net. Now that I’ve gotten my toes wet without drowning, I’ll start venturing out into deeper water. (Still, don’t expect to see a full-fledged cartoon anytime soon; I’ll likely be working in stick figures for a good long while.)

I like animation. It’s a genuine challenge, but it’s also rewarding in its own way. It’s not necessarily “fun” to do…but it’s fun to have an animation you can look at and realize is your creation. Much the same as a lot of craft skills, really. I don’t at all enjoy weaving chair seats, but I do enjoy getting praise for weaving chair seats.

I’m curious where this idea goes. I have tons of ideas for animations I look forward to trying out, just to see if they’ll work out and be even remotely funny. I suspect, moving forward, as I gain skill and confidence in the medium, that I’ll become much more adventurous.

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A rose Tattoo flash.

I figured following along with an online video would be a good effort to get the wheels turning. I followed along with Richard Shaw “The Broken Puppet” as he drew the piece in this video;

My result is this piece, created in Artrage 4;

I’ve drawn variations on this before, but I figure I should take a step beyond “where I was” to get a good running start. This is basically the most simple rose you’ll find, and in the past I’ve done far harder versions, but this is a good baseline starting point for me. I’m seeing dozens of errors I made and things I can correct moving forward. BTW, I didn’t do the yellow accent on the leaves just because…I don’t like that addition. No harm, no foul, I just don’t think they contribute in a way that I like, so I didn’t add them to my version.

That’s basically the point when you’re learning; make mistakes, identify them, and then don’t make them again on other pieces.

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Of seat time and experience.

(Note; yes, I know I touted something a while back that I was going to do that was going to be the next big thing involving fishing, and I posted it on this blog. You’ll note that the post is gone because the idea sucked. Now back to your irregularly unscheduled programming. Also, due to the way you have been programmed, it’s likely you that read wrong. You probably read that wrong too. It’s okay, not everybody can have a dig bick like I do when it comes to reading comprehension.) 😉

You probably read that wrong too… You’re not catching on to this very quickly, are you? Enough trickery with words; let’s dig into the meat of this (overdue) post. This blog is going to change a bit. Just a bit.

I’ve been into art and creating art for a long time. Visual art has always been on my mind and wanting to pursue those skills has always been an ambition of mine. To sit down and create something visually that is both interesting visually and somewhat artistic…it’s a very seductive concept.

Alas, it is a thing that grows in a garden which is fenced tall and strong. The fence? Well, the posts are made of a thing called “experience” and the barbed wire is made of a thing called “seat time”. You can get up and over that fence, but it’s a tall one that can only be climbed be considerable effort.

The thing is, it’s worth it. The problem is that it’s also easy to start like a house afire and then fizzle. I’m a proper fizzler in that regard, having done it several times. Start, then realize it’s not an easy hobby/skill to master and quit it. Then at some later time, start up again and quit it again. In the past 20 years, I’ve probably bought enough art supplies/equipment to keep a professional running hard for a month, and today my “creations” have been minimal. The only bright thing I’ve ever done on that front? I started looking after the stuff I bought so I don’t have to go out and buy new stuff because I can’t find the stuff I bought the last time I wanted to start. I’m kitted well on all fronts.

What form of visual art/drawing? Digital is what I have my eyes on, mostly because it’s more what I feel “the industry” is going toward and what would lead to being more simple to share with others. Traditional art is, and likely always will be viable but it’s a matter of going with what works. I figure if the internet would be the primary way I’d share it, I’d just be taking a picture of the creation and then posting that picture. Why not just cut out the middleman and keep it all digital from the start?

Ambitions? I have very few. I just want to become good at drawing and creating. How good? I guess I just want to be as good as I can learn to be. It’ll take experience, seat time, and my least favorite of all four letter words; work.

Seems like all that’s left…is just to jump in and do it. The way this blog may change? As I create works, I’ll post them here. So, there will be more pictures on The Picturist Blog. 🙂

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Rebirth and Growth?

I know I’ve been very quiet over the past few months, as the issues of life and complexities of existence wear on me…but that’s about to change.

I’m an ideas guy. I have ideas, I like ideas, and I tend to live by three little letters; ABT. Always BThinking. Well, I have been thinking and I’ve thought of something. So, at least for the current moment, I’m rolling with it. The blacksmith passion within me loves to keep a few irons in the fire, but this iron feels like something I can work with long-term.

When will the “big reveal” take place? I don’t know. For this I’d rather delay a bit and do it right than to set a firm deadline and do it wrong. IMO, Deadlines can motivate a procrastinator but it can also have a negative effect; done on time does not always mean done well. I’d rather have “done right but done later” rather than “done in the last two hours before deadline and looks like it was done in the last two hours”. Try to drive a nail at max speed, you might get it in the board faster, but you might mishit, bend the nail, dent the wood, break the hammer handle, or miss altogether. Better to use slow, consistent strikes and make each count methodically.

So, if anybody is still tuned…stay tuned. There’s a flurry of activity in the shadows, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step into the light and be seen, and it will be seen on this blog before it’s seen anywhere else.

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Of growth, honesty, prosperity, and the future.

I’ve been hanging around youtube and trying to be more aware of how social media “works”. Not necessarily the pure function, but the psychological methods behind what happens. It’s intensely interesting because—speaking with total honesty—I’ve really been kicking the idea around of becoming very active in certain venues. No hard decisions, no major announcements today, but I have been studying.

What I see is very intriguing and telling. The beauty of social media is that, at least when you’re studying it, it’s really easy to see how well a technique worked because a lot of the data is right there for the viewing. This post has been up for a few days and was “liked” X-number of times, this video has been published for a couple days, already getting big views and big likes, etc. From a studying standpoint, it’s an open pit mine. It’s really easy to see what’s real and what isn’t, what’s working and what isn’t. Even if somebody has an autoclicker set to click and load this link again and again…if there are 100,000 views and not a single comment, that shows. If this video has 800 views and 930 likes, same deal. If this post is hugely liked and shared, but minimally commented, that’s visible too.

The reason so many projects/channels/pages fail? They get so busy “Playin’ da Game” that they forget that it all comes down to a simple maxim; content, like it or hate it, is king. It will always be king. Bread is cheap, steak is expensive, and if you’re all bread and no steak you’ll never generate the long-term interest that a sandwich made with bread and steak together would generate. Be the 72 ounce Porterhouse and one buttered dinner roll rather than the half a can of potted meat and a three pound loaf of plain white bread.

“But, but, but, I saw a vid and it was huge, but the content was weak!”

This is known as clickbait, and while it can work for a while, it’s always going to end up in the same place; Once and nevermore. Okay, you got me to click your link, and I sat through a whole 10 minute video, and the title I clicked had nothing to do with what I saw. Congratulations, I threw you one pageview…but you tricked me. You told me I’d see ____ and I never saw it. Well, you won, but I’ll win in the long run because now I know one content provider who won’t get the chance next time. A quick click unsubscribe and you get to join the voluminous pile of people who don’t get to be a waste of my time anymore.

One group, whom I will not name, recently went on a big push to have a youtube career of sorts and they’ve already started making bad decisions. The first video was pretty good, explained the future plans, goals, etc. Very nice. The second was titled to indicate that a certain something happened during the filming and after watching the entire video it became obvious that the title was incorrect. The expectation did not match the experience. At no point in the video did anybody acknowledge that the title didn’t match. When commenters mentioned it was total clickbait, no response was made. Lots of kissass kids jumping in to get in good with the channel owner getting acknowledged, but nobody at least acknowledging or recognizing the comments that it was titled a bit incorrectly. He got 50,000 views in four days, but…that might be a peak. He’s basically going to be trying to make a living off one-time viewers. Yeah, his little army of kissass kids will probably stick around, but in time he might bait them a bit to hard and even they will quit hm.

Real talk? I have a very small list of email followers, a very small list of followers through wordpress. Small meaning less than 5. In the span of probably a month I could probably have ten thousand views per day on this blog. One month, ten thousand views per day. In all truth, that figure may be a bit low-ball. All I would have to do is jump in with five or ten posts with a few specific phrases in the title, a few specific phrases in the body, and the tags worked for all they’re worth. What words? I refuse to even put them up in passing for fear that they would bring somebody onto this post without this post being able to live up to them. A clickbait site, of which there are many on the worldwide web, would not let this stop them from doing that despite the fact that they also do not have the goods to fulfill those expectations.

How can I be so sure this would result in huge views? Because there are entire enterprises around the internet that have turned that kind of content into a fortune. You answer these questions, I give you X. Oh, you answered 39 of 40, but the 39th disqualifies you, too bad, so sad. But, this other thing over here, if you answer those questions, I’ll give you X as a consolation. You spend weeks answering the questions, offering opinions and insights with the best of intentions and you get nothing. You have to have X-number of dollars to qualify for a payout and the most patient and polite human on the planet will be using the F-word like a comma before they managed to get a tenth of the way to that figure.

I know these places exist because I’ve freakin’ tried ’em! I’ve played in that coliseum of pointless futility. I’ve also seen “companies” on the way up and almost all of them start up by simply using a few clickbait titles to get you to come in. Only when that stops working so well (once you’ve gone through all your “Once and nevermore” crowd) does it escalate. Add in a few simple tasks that tap into the human nature of “If I scratch their back, they’ll scratch mine, so I’ll answer their questions, or sign up for their stuff”, and the blatant clickbait site becomes a clickbait site under the guise of a “research organization”. Mostly, I suspect, because they can finally afford to dress it up a bit. Sort of like buying a single board to build a birdhouse, selling it to buy lumber to make a doghouse, selling it to buy lumber to make a gazebo, and selling it to buy lumber to build a house to sell. Reinvestment of profits to generate more profits in future. Clever.

Me? My stats are dismal, but there’s no theme here. This is, for lack of a better term, poor-man’s therapy. I ramble about various things and essentially speak into the void hoping to find an ear. I do not know what my next post will be because as of right now nothing has stood out as noteworthy and deserving of a post. That’s how most of my posts are “designed”. I see, I think, I write, I post. I’m pleased with that because I’d rather have low views and low interest, but know that if somebody is disappointed in the quality of my content, that it’s probably due to their expectations being a bit higher than perhaps is reasonable.

The problem I see is that many are after the quick fizzle. Get a few thousand views and cash in. For me, I like the idea of sustainability. The kind of content that might not be much, but that doesn’t try to sound like much. I’d rather perform small but honestly than to be big but dishonest. Once I go for a theme (and I **am** seriously looking at that!) I don’t see that changing.

In the end, content still matters, and honesty still holds value. It also has long-reaching consequences. If the guy who clickbaited me had a product, a program, a service, I’d be highly suspicious of it. The t-shirt that’s been screen printed, I might think of as being the physical version of his video; rather than being screen printed, it’s a t-shirt from walmart with a big ol’ home-printed sticker on it. The cooking “class” he’s teaching might be a class that’s legit, or it might be him reading the microwaving instructions on a TV dinner.

That’s how clickbait is bad. He might be getting okay views now, but in five years who will trust him? Even if he turns it around and straightens up, who will trust him not to waste their time and attention? There’s a car dealer in my town who made an error in the exact same way. He sold me a car a long time ago and it was the crappiest piece of crap that ever broke down a half-mile outside of Crapville…and to this day I don’t risk buying from him. Content is King, and that maxim holds value, as does another…

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

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A little restraint, please?

Just a little, that’s all I ask. I totally understand the socioeconomic structure, I totally understand the overarching motive, and I totally understand what’s at stake…but you really need to cool it off just a bit. This is not a boxing match for the WBC title; you don’t have to keep the pressure on to keep us from recuperating for a comeback. We’re down. We’re pretty much defenseless.

I have, since childhood, liked a radio on while I sleep. It helps cover up the innocuous background noises that permeate this area. I’ve got one neighbor who is, apparently, trying to teach themselves “how to tune your truck in 970 easy steps, one per day” or…they’re doing an everlasting tribute to Rudolf Diesel. That makes it difficult to fall asleep without something to help blot the noise out and the radio serves well for this.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and when I turned on my radio before sleep, I was greeted by 11 Christmas songs in a row. Eleven. 11. This means that whilst some individuals haven’t completed their Tryptophan comas, the brunt of Christmas began with a bang.

I got it. I really do. But…can we have one freakin’ day of non-holiday focus? Just one is all I ask. For one day during the “season”, just one day where everybody takes their holiday spirit, wraps it neatly with pretty paper, and **crams it** for 24 hours. Then, feel free to bingle jells and Kerry Mistress until your heart is all aglow, but give me one damn day where some holiday is not being shoved down my throat. One day when there’s not some consumer driven drivel being forced on me like a “special cigarette” at a party.

“If you don’t celebrate and enjoy Christmas, you’re just a scrooge!”

Yes! YES! Finally, someone understands me! In a world of unenlightened oafs, a glimmering star in human form has decoded me! Considering that I’m not a big fan of eating my weight in food I can’t really afford, and I’m not positioned to spend thousands on gifts…the holiday season sucks.

October leans toward Halloween. While the kids are still on a sugar high, we start hearing about turkey day. Before we’ve even digested the feast spread we’re already leaning toward another feast in less than a month, and another a week after that.

And let’s talk about that. Dang near everybody I know grumbles about “holiday weight” and how “It’s so hard to lose weight in the wintertime”…I’m no genius but I can do basic math. If you’ve got one holiday where candy is the main consumable and is consumed in bulk quantity, then less than a month later you serve a turkey dinner with all the trimmin’s, then less than a month later you serve a comparable spread, and then less than a week later you put out another spread… One could wonder if your difficulty comes from consuming a considerably higher volume of calories, and that’s not really winter’s fault.

According to my research, the average Thanksgiving spread will put 3,000 calories into a typical eater. If they go for dessert, drinks, and appetizers, the number jumps to 4,500 calories. In one meal. For one person. At one time. Not counting leftovers. Typical recommended daily intake is 2,000 for ladies, 2,500 for men. So, this raises the question if the “holiday spread” might have something to do with consuming a full day’s (almost two) worth of food in one sitting, followed by some leftovers a few hours later.

And, at least here in the south, a Christmas spread will often exceed the Thanksgiving meal because it’s a “bigger holiday”. New years isn’t quite so luxurious, but you’re still eating more than normally. So, excluding Halloween entirely, you’re still consuming a LOT more food than normally in the span of 6 weeks. While it varies person-to-person, I’ve heard the standard for a typical and relatively fit individual is that you’d basically need to run a 12-minute-mile pace for a mile to burn 100 calories. I suspect that you’d burn more as you ran, but with a 4,500 load to burn I suspect a marathon might be in order. Just to counter Thanksgiving. And another to counter Christmas. And a half-marathon for New Years. Might toss in a half-marathon for Halloween too.

In the end it only really serves to make people spend money. Buying more food than they need, buying more consumer products to give to others who don’t need them. The average family will spend almost $700 on gifts, and I know many who would see that $700 as a pretty good start, albeit slightly underachieving in preparation for really “spreading the holiday spirit”. Some of that, alas, will be spent on CDs of Christmas songs.

The thing is, when a celebrity dies, if another celeb makes fun of them it’s often met by boos of “too soon”. When Bill Maher dressed up as Steve Irwin with a stingray handing off his chest shortly after Irwin died from a stingray strike to the chest, Maher got nuclear level heat for it. It was too much, too soon. Gilbert Gottfried got canned from being spokesman and voice artist for several companies because he made tasteless jokes about the Tuhoku earthquake while the crisis was still under way…Too much, too soon. Both might have had slightly better responses to their “humor” if they’d given the world time to recover from the “event” and could seen it in a different light. Admittedly, both were tasteless as hell, but lots of humor is tasteless…that’s what makes certain types of humor funny.

Christmas…too soon. Too much, too soon. I need a break. Actually, I need a valium the size of a hubcap, but a break would be a nice stall tactic in lieu of a valium the size of a dinner plate. The next 30 days will be long. I fear that by the time I’ve heard “Grandmaw got runned over by a reindeer” for the fiftieth time, I’ll go to Walmart and one of the bell ringers will dare to clang at me…a critical error at a crucial time. Poor guy’ll spend the rest of his life trying to get a typical 6-inch handbell dislodged from the upper third of his sigmoid colon. Fear not, it won’t impede any ordinary functions; the collection tub shoved down his throat will make eating impossible anyway.

Seriously though, those bells…they don’t need to be like a red-hot nail jammed in your ear to draw attention. You’re the only dude in a Santa suit standing by the front door of walmart with a big ass sign that says “Donate to ____”. Um…we know. We’re aware. You want and need donations, we get it. It’s not like you’re wearing a ghillie suit in a jungle. You don’t blend in. Piercing my eardrums with your bell, it really only serves to make me less likely to want to get close to you to put a buck in the tub.

Really, it’s like that person who is all cheerful and “Isn’t it a beautiful morning?” when you’re hung over and can’t even stand to open both eyes at the same time because the dwarf in your head picks up his hammer and loses his temper when you do. Just…holster it. Put it away. Check back later. Try to be half-chipper in two hours and judge the response. If you don’t find a typical smart phone being flung tomahawk-style at your head..well, there’s been some improvement but don’t push your luck. Try back in two more hours. Bring coffee and ibuprofen as a peace offering.

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Slaying the Dragon.

Admittedly, this article is largely an effort in both self-help and proselytizing. Sharing what I have learned, and learning what I haven’t learned about. Not so much “This is a map, I should know every part of it” but in terms of what “maps” exist that I haven’t even heard of, much less learned.

One thing I am slowly realizing, despite my best efforts otherwise is that confidence is one of my main weaknesses. The main problem with that? Without confidence, it is difficult to accomplish anything. At all.

Just imagine a painter, for instance, who is extremely timid. You’ve got someone who can get out his canvas, get out his paints, his brushes, his palette…and he stands there. Like a pimple on an elephant’s ass, he stands there. Depending on how extreme his timidity is, he might end up with either a very bland painting, like sky blue from top to bottom and very little else, or he might simply end up with a blank canvas.

Watch Bob Ross sometime. The guy will paint a gorgeous scene, prettier than real life, so quaint and serene, so beautiful. Then he’ll load up a fan brush with paint the color of tar, getting every bit of paint into the brush that it can hold, and blop it into the canvas. Right on top of the scene, he’ll scrawl an inch wide black line across it with what can only be called reckless abandon to create a couple trees. Ruthless. Reckless. Fearless. Confident.

As if he’s saying “I could think about it for hours and still not give a shit if I ruin this painting. If it is spoiled, screw it, I never liked it anyway, I can do better work, and tomorrow I will. I will. I…Will. This painting? One pre-stretched canvas worth twenty bucks, five bucks worth of paint, one hour worth of time. This very evening someone will go to a fancy restaurant and they’ll spend more money and more time feeding their face. Well, sparky, I aint hungry right now and I got pop tarts at home, so let’s do this.”

There is an element of confidence that is a crucial necessity. If you’re timid and holding back, trying to play it safe, it’s really tough to even end up with a decent painting, much less to risk ruining it all by scrawling a tree across it.

The bad part? It’s not just a dragon to slay in painting. I’ve noticed it a lot in music. For the longest time my strumming on guitar was weak and didn’t sound good. It was also really tough to imagine how some players can just go at it at a fever pitch. Impossible…except I’d seen it done and knew it was possible. Then I made a startling realization…

I watched a musician play and…I knew for a fact he didn’t have 100% control over that strum. He did four that I really watched closely and he didn’t have full control over any of them. Maybe 60% control, approaching 70%, but certainly not full and complete control on all four….and it didn’t matter at all.

Seriously. Listening closely, not listening closely, watching closely, not watching closely, it didn’t matter. At all. If he accidentally tapped that bottom E on the way by, it’s irrelevant because I didn’t hear it on any of his strums.

And what difference would it make if it had rung loudly? With the drums, the bass, the keyboards, the crowd, his own vocals, the lead guitarist, who would hear or care if he accidentally hit a bad note? Think of the sheer volume of entire CDs that suck and contrast that against four bad notes in one song during one concert. Microscopic scratch on a Maserati. One bad brush stroke on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A completely naked supermodel with a small pimple on her instep. It’s sincerely such a small blemish that it really doesn’t really warrant mention. Four bad notes is nothing.

My own playing was basically stifled because I was worrying about accidentally hitting a missed note from time to time. Trying to hold such fine and precise control that…I managed to keep the aircraft perfectly aligned in straight and level flight, but only at speeds too slow for the wings to generate lift. I was afraid to strum fluidly because I was afraid of making a “bad” noise. Then I had a realization;

If I picked up my guitar, grabbed a chord, and butchered it in the worst possible way, having screwed it up better than anybody ever had before…with the highest quality guitar capable of sustaining the notes for the longest time…the “evidence” of my blunder would be around for maybe 30 seconds. Considering that the universe is more then four and a half BILLION years old…dammit, I can screw up thirty seconds and survive it. Should I make a bad noise for 30 seconds and some mob find it so offensive that they wish to come and assault me, this sounds like an ideal reason to offer other “bad noises” that are much louder, but last less time. All men are created almost equally; Louisville sluggers and Samuel Colt puts them all on a level playing field.

The “risk” of making a mistake was greatly outweighed by the possible gains of succeeding. And, in full truth, the “risk” was all self-imposed. I had convinced myself that a bad noise was a lot worse than it really was. In all truth, once I became willing to fly…I stopped falling out of the sky so much. Yeah, I’ll admit, early on I made a hellacious racket but that didn’t last long. Once I got comfortable making full power strums I discovered something interesting: the sound of the good notes usually overpowered and “drowned out” the bad ones. Yeah, you could still hear them, but they didn’t stand up on top of the chord and scream “Hey, I don’t belong here but I’m here because this idiot sucks!” They were there, and you could hear them, but they were soon forgotten. Nothing bad happened when there were unexpected and unwanted sounds. In time, thousands and thousands of strums later, the “right” notes started outnumbering the “wrong” ones. Without the confidence not to care if I made a bad noise, I’d never have gained the experience to learn not to care.

Now that I’ve moved on to composing my own pieces…same basic reset. I’ve let my inexperience breed pugnacious timidity. Though I have made it a personal goal to write at minimum ten measures of 4/4 per day, I still find the dragon in the corner is there, and he still needs a good smack every now and then so he never forgets who’s really in charge ’round here in the musical composition department.

Falling back on the “standard” rule of thumb works: if it sounds right, it is right. If it sounds wrong, it is wrong. 50% of trust goes to good judgment, 50% of trust goes to knowledge of theory. The rest is a matter of time and experience.

I suppose in all creative endeavors, that’s basically the rule to follow. Looks good/is good. Sounds good/is good. Feels good/is good. There will be bumps in the road, but really that’s the whole point of creative journeys; to find and smooth the bumps. To find and slay that Timidity Dragon that sits in the corner and whispers doubts and derision in your ear when you are vulnerable.

I find it more fun to keep him around. In a way, things might go smoother to just hack off his head and be done with him…but it’s more fun to stumble upon a really awesome riff by luck and dogged determination, play through it a few times to make sure I have it down pat, then turn the volume knob all the way up on the amp or keyboard and play it right in his face.

Small wars breed small victories, and I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em.

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The stifling of Modernity.

Here’s a life tip for you. If someone contacts you via EMAIL, that should be taken as a hint about how they’d like to communicate with you. If someone contacts you via PHONE, this too can be taken as a hint too! If someone contacts you via US MAIL, this is also a hint!

This gross tolerance of cross-platform communication is ignorant and only serves to infuriate people who have to deal with you! If it’s a service they would like to partake in on a paying basis, then you should be willing to bend a bit. Especially if you tout email, webchat, phone, or us mail as a method of contact.

This tendency to bait with one medium and switch to another could be termed and Bait & Switch or B&S but since the ampersand is allllll the way up at the number 7 key, I’m just gonna omit that little character and call it BS.

Seriously, this is relatively deep into the 21 century, 2017, well more than 1/8th (11/64th is actually closest by my math) into the 21st century. Your “representative” needling me for my phone number…kinda feels like I’m stuck in 1917. If I purchase your product, will it be delivered by Pony Express? Or a good ol’ steam train? Or perhaps Mark Twain will bring it on a paddlewheel steamer?

People, this is 2017. Phone calls, they’re handy when you’re too drunk to type but still want booty, or when you need immediate emergency services. That’s a time-sensitive need. Talking to me about a service, it’s not really that time sensitive unless it’s diarrhea medicine. A phone number request, it’s implying you want me to make myself available on your terms…this is not appealing as a business trait.

I do see the validity of phones for phone calls, but let’s be honest; the one thing that made phones tolerable was caller ID. The ability to know if the person who is bugging you is worth the time they’re asking you to waste on them.

Damn near every business I can think of has a computer with internet capability these days. Let’s stop relying on person to person calls as reasonable formats of communication. Yes, I probably value you quite highly, but…the beauty of email is that it allows me to get my fecal matter concentrated in a neat pile before responding so YOU don’t have to endure the dead airspace of me attempting to concentrate those piles neatly in real time. If you force me to do a P2P call, guess what cowhand, you just lost the right to ever get mad at me if my fecal matter is in its pre-concentrated format and don’t you freakin’ **DARE** put me on hold. If I have to scramble to get all my shit in neat and orderly piles for your precious call, guess what buddy, you’re on a shot clock.

If you’re going to say on your site that you will work with certain forms of communication, then dammit work with them! If it’s all going to be funneled to your cubicle farm in some third world country, say so up front so I know to just call and pretend I’m all keyed up and excited about the newfangled ray-dee-ohh they done went and installed in the house fer us, little box lets us listen to the sawed off midgets that lives inside it, an’ that Orson Welles, what a little scamp!

People, it’s just a cosmic blink from being 2018. I can send a picture of my fancy parts to outer space and have ’em come down in the hand held device of the lady of my preference. Are we seriously going to rely on a dial-tone system? We don’t even use that for internet anymore! You’re in the modern era but you act like you’re stuck in pre-dialup. If you bought new, you probably drive a **Car** that can send an email or text…why can’t you?

Get it together folks. Booty calls or your house is on fire, anything but those two, let’s climb aboard the bullet train and join the modern era of indoor plumbing, please. I totally get it for visual impairment and all that…but just to start off right from the first minute dictating how I’m going to interact with you…not flattering at all, nor is it endearing.

For the record, I’m getting as damn private about my phone number as I am with my social security number. Why? Because there are still assclowns out there who will call, and call, and call, and call, until all I wanna do is pick up a barbecue fork, heat it red hot over hickory coals, and cram it in my ear so I can’t hear them calling, or hear myself telling them that I don’t want their home security system. On that front, I don’t NEED a home security system. I’m flatass broke all the time, haven’t bought anything worth buying in years, and if anybody broke in here, I’d just shoot ’em with the last thing I did buy! I’m so broke that if anybody broke in here and didn’t immediately say “dude, it’ll be okay, we’ll find a way to get you some better stuff”…I wouldn’t feel bad about putting a hollowpoint in them because they are truly heartless. I don’t even spring for name brand light bulbs.

Once a company gets your number, it never freakin’ ends. I strongly suspect there is a cottage industry just in selling and trading lists of dumbasses like me who are stupid enough to give out their phone number when it becomes plainly obvious that no other form of modern communication is acceptable.

The good news? I have to give my number out, but I know every single company that has it. If, after adding a new company to that list, I discover I’m inundated with calls of an irrelevant nature…payback is a glitch. BTW, don’t tell me about the no-call list. Oddly, I find when I added my cell to that list, I got **more** calls rather than less.

Here’s an idea, just occurred to me. If you only want prospective customers to use the phone, don’t offer anything but the number. I know I’m gonna end up sitting on hold for a freakin’ hour anyways, so why tease me with purported flexibility you know damn well you won’t offer? Just be honest: We still heat the storefront with cow dung off the prairie, we still go down to the mercantile to put our Liberty Head Nicks in the Kinetoscope every Saturday afternoon, perhaps have us a sarsaparilla ‘fore the long ride home in the buggy.

Which, I wonder, is worse? To admit one is a phony who only uses the promise of modern convenience as a hook, or to admit that the zipper was just invented and you don’t quite understand it yet?

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I am puzzled.

I am considerably puzzled.

A lot of the media is advocating a holistic and total ban on all guns because we don’t need them. If we have a problem, like someone breaking in, we should just call the police. People with training and vetting who can be trusted with such dangerous things as guns.

Are those, by chance, the same police that, for the last few years, the same media has done nothing but portray as murdering swine who are out to kill innocent people without so much as a reason?

Truth; I have guns.

Fact: no human has **ever** shed blood due to **any** gun I own. The most significant injury any of them has inflicted was in pinching my thumb badly enough to raise a blood blister the size of a pencil eraser. (Damn break-action shotgun…)

Fact: No police officer has ever drawn his gun and pointed it at me or anyone I know in any instance I am aware of, mostly because nobody I know would willingly give any police officer justification to do so.

Turns out, cops and guns have a lot in common. A gun will kill somebody if you put it in a position where it has no other option. A cop is exactly the same. You point a gun and pull the trigger, a gun will fire. You corner a cop and try to beat him up, that cop will fire.

Here’s an idea. Let’s suggest the media get back to reporting news rather than just trying to tell people what to believe. I’ve got enough intelligence to decide for myself what I do and do not believe.

And…if you have to turn on a modern media source to figure out what you believe…I think you should immediately be stripped of every single right you have and put in a home somewhere because you’re too stupid to be trusted to move around in this world unattended. Seriously, if you need CBS or FOX to tell you what to believe, you need a handler and a helmet.

Yeah, Paddock in Vegas killed a bunch of people because he was a nutjob. Instead of taking a “long hard look” at gun laws, why not take a long hard look at how dismally difficult it is to get help for any mental health difficulty in this country. Take a look at the stigma somebody is forced to carry for even looking. Take a look at how genuinely batshit crazy you have to be in this damn country to even **get** mental health help in this country.

Don’t blame guns, don’t blame cops. Blame those lazy bastards that have been sitting on their overpaid asses for decades in high office putting frivolous crap ahead of legitimately beneficial programs that could make help available to people easily **before** they get to their breaking point. Consider the benefits of saying “Hey, you want a check from the Federal Government for $20? Great! Then come on down to the local health department and let us give you a complete physical!” Not only would it allow medical professionals a chance to get ahead of the epidemics and treat people before the epidemics get out of control, but with fewer than twenty routine questions you could identify anybody who’s a little too close to “hazardous to public safety” before they actually present a legitimate risk. The expense of the cheap incentive would be saved in the long run by the lack of having to call out the National Guard every two weeks to take care of a preventable crisis.

Here’s the facts, kids. Yes, there was a shooting in Las Vegas. And yes, there was a party totally responsible. It wasn’t a gun, it wasn’t a bullet, it wasn’t a gadget. It was a fat cat on Capitol Hill who’s been writing bills to secure another bailout for his banking buddies instead of writing provisions for things that can actually help people.

Now, let’s stop and look at something else… April 19, 1995. 168 people dead, not a single shot fired. August 12, 2017. Only one fatality, but had a different vehicle been used, it would have been higher than the events of April 19, 1995. No shots fired. September 11, 2001. 2,996 people dead and more dying every day. Not a single shot fired.

You don’t need a damn gun to kill people! You never have! If someone is intending to kill people, the method is secondary. If somebody is insane, method no longer matters. You ban guns, you’ll see IEDs in cars regularly, people crashing cars into crowds of people, people hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings. When a mental problem is the cake, the icing is irrelevant.

In 200 years when people look back on this time, they won’t care that guns were available, because we’ll have hopefully learned by then that until we start putting things in motion to actually do something for people who are struggling mentally, banning objects won’t make a difference.

Let’s be blunt. Last year, I had a rough time. And do you know what help I got? Absolutely none. Luckily for the world, I was in a mental hole shallow enough to dig out of on my own. What might have happened if I hadn’t been able to crawl out on my own? Maybe I’d have done away with myself. But, lets put this scenario in a different setting, like some guy who just bet big and lost big, delivered a sad story to the casino pit boss, and got told “ya win some, ya lose some”. Decides he’s going to kill himself, but he’s not going by himself. He’s going to make sure nobody wants to come within a mile of that casino ever again.

You end up with some guy in Las Vegas, banging away at people. He used guns. He could have used a truck, or an airplane, or a chemical in the HVAC. The problem isn’t guns, it is a sickening preference to fund unnecessary things over critical things. Let’s make sure that some park in the middle of nowhere has enough federal money to keep all three hundred miles of fence freshly painted, and to hell with that guy struggling with his mental issues. He’ll live or he won’t, who cares, so long as this park nobody goes to looks nice. Let’s make sure they can afford a fireworks extravaganza for the fourth of July, but to hell with this guy over here who’s at his lowest point, thinking thoughts he really should talk to somebody about.

Simply put, sane people don’t kill strangers. Sane people don’t hijack planes or build truck bombs, and they damn sure don’t drag hundreds of pounds of armament to the 32nd floor of a hotel. You can ban all the inanimate object you want, but until you give people a way to access help and to find sick people before they snap, all you’re doing is wasting time. How many people have to die before we stop worrying about banning objects and start trying to eradicate untreated mental health struggles?

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Boycott…the world!

Quick question; off the top of your head, how many “boycott” requests have you seen in the last five years? I’m guessing the number is quite large because it’s the #1 knee-jerk reaction. If I stop doing ____, they’ll have to notice and change their evil and incorrect methods! They must! They shall! And they will if I just “vote with my feet”.

And when you did “vote with your feet”, seven hermits in Thailand synchronized their timepieces, returned to their huts, and at 11:23PM the following day, they farted in the solitude…if it had even that much impact.

Seriously folks, boycott is powerful, but only in certain circumstances. If you’re talking about the only grocer in a town of 28 people, and the head of one household with three kids boycotts, then the grocer has lost five consumers. 17.85 % of the customer base. He’ll sell 17.85 % less bread, 17.85 % less Froot Loops, and 17.85 % less Mac’n’cheez. This means at the end of the week, his books will come up 17.85 % short of the performance seen last week.

Take money out of it, let’s simplify it. Think…ping pong balls. Every person who goes to his store this week puts a ping pong ball in a box. End of week, the balls are returned to their rightful owner and the process begins again. In this scenario, you might actually notice that there’s not as many ping pong balls in the box as there was last week. The absence of 5 ping pong balls, it’s a lot. This is the effect of boycott in a specific circumstance. With a town of 28 people, 5 people not using his store might be noticed…provided there is no pass-thru traffic.

Now, let’s look at…Starbucks, for example. Almost 25,000 locations, 19 Billion revenue in 2015, quarter million employees, and no real sign it’s going to go bad instantly for them. In short, they’re in good position. So…let’s say they make a rule against…baseball caps. It upsets many, so let’s drop that b-bomb on ’em and boycott ’em.

Let’s say that in their locations, the overall average is…150 customers a day. It’s lowball, but let’s roll with it. We’ll counter this lowball by rounding up the locations to an even 25,000. The result is a 3,750,000 average daily customer figure total. For a seven day week, we have a result of 26,250,000. Per week, that’s how many customers go to Starbucks in our scenario; twenty-six and one quarter million people liked them some fancy java that week.

But no! No! No! No! Because of their Nazi Fascist Baseball cap rule, I’m gonna tell….um….TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE! And they’ll all boycott ’cause I’m the bees knees and people shiv a git about what I say! And That dastardly Commie place Starbucks, they’re gonna lose ten thousand customers!

And one of the hermits farted a quarter-second longer than all the other hermits, but with slightly less volume due to the additional duration.

Let’s pong this. You’ve got 26,250,000 ping pong balls in one place. Yeah, just try to imagine 26 (and another quarter) million ping pong balls in one place. Now, because of some hat rule protest, take away 10,000. Now there are 26,240,000 ping pong balls. Would you notice? Hell, would Rainman have noticed?

I…really doubt it. And I really doubt Starbucks would either. If you just took the money that the chain made in that week, piled it up, and subtracted the amount they’d lose from those ten thousand customers, they still wouldn’t notice. The sheer volume greatly outshines any small deduction to the point where your protest is lost in the noise.

Here’s the deal. Boycotts work…on a small scale. If you can tell enough people to boycott something, you might make the powers in charge take notice. If you’re a single voice in the mass, even without your voice the mass still exists. If your voice is small, you may not be heard at all over the mass, and whether it is there or not matters little. If you’re trying to make a huge entity change, a boycott is kind of like peeing on yourself in wintertime; you notice, and it feels nice and warm, but nobody else is aware of the warmth and even if you tell them they’re unlikely to believe you about the beneficial warmth.

And…let’s be honest. If you’re throwing a party at your house and I don’t like you or your party, the best thing I could possibly do for you is not come! I’m a simple man but if I’m throwin’ a party, I don’t want no naysayers there. I don’t want no wet blankets. I want everybody there to be in the mood to party hard at my party! You don’t approve? Then please, boycott me, ’cause I don’t need your noise in the midst of my rockin’ party! You being home while I’m getting’ my party on, that’s fine because I am throwin’ a party and I only want party-goers to go to my parties!

How better to disrupt my party? Don’t boycott. Show up, but don’t participate. Be in my space, but ignore my proceedings. Be there, but don’t be part of my party. Do your thing. Wear a t-shirt that’s neon electric green, and all your fellow protesters wear it. Chant things that have nothing to do with my party. Get all your fellow protesters to sing a wholly irrelevant song for the entire duration of my party. Loudly and proudly singin’ “Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care” at the top of your lungs. Smuggle in vuvuzela and blow ’em until your lungs bleed!

Right now, there’s a big fuff about the NFL and people are calling for boycott and all that, unknowingly asking protesters to make the NFL stronger with their absence. Making the stadiums perhaps weaker in number, but stronger in allegiance, fewer people, but more room for those loyal to the brand. Seems silly to me, really. They’re not going to notice a few dollars missing, I’d imagine employees scam as much if not more than a boycott would cost, but they’d sure notice a thousand people blowing those stupid-loud horns for the entire duration of every game. No microphone being able to pick up anything without picking up those horns blowing and at some point people figuring out that those horns are there for a simple reason; protest. Better still commentators having to acknowledge to the viewing audience why it sounds like a South Africa soccer game in the good ol’ US of A.

Sometimes, boycotting works. Sometimes though, you’re just helping the entity gain strength by condensing the loyalty and leaving them more room to do whatever they do. How better to improve a party than to figure out how to make all the people stay home if they don’t support you or your party? Boycott works on paper, but on paper is one of very few places it does work.

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