Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things That Piss Me Off

If it bleeds, it leads, they say in newsrooms. If it’s stupid, you can find it here, at least once in a while. (I won’t claim to be able to cobble all stupidity together into one mindless blog. There is, after all, far more to go around than one human can capture.)

For today, let’s get into a few things that get on my nerves:

Mass emails. I’ll cut to the chase: This one is aimed squarely at your stupid narrator. I’m your typical corporate flunky. On any given day, I’ll write an important (to me) email about something that will never get accomplished in my lifetime, and include the addresses of half the company. I’ll also make sure I cc two people no longer with us, the plant lady, the night security guy, and the window washer (sorry about knocking your ladder down today, dude).

Naturally, when I recently wrote posts containing important information about absolutely nothing, I was very OCD about emailing every last contact from my gmail, Comcast, and (two) Yahoo accounts, not to mention everyone on Linked-in and Facebook. (Did I forget Twitter?) I guess you could say I was dreaming I was still at work, keeping everyone on The Team informed.

One friend called me on it (another said I was a Nigerian spammer, but I think I’ll save that for a later post). I’ll paraphrase to keep the spirit of the criticism, without stealing the words. My friend said the concept of giving his email address to a third party (Blogger, Facebook) is crass. A service that solicits email addresses so I can tell my friends that I’m contemplating the lint in my belly button is “rather sordid.” Any company that says it won’t sell my email address (or those of my friends, when I mass mail them about my latest post) will be hard-pressed to honor that promise when it comes upon hard times, he said. And these are swimmingly good times, so there’s no worry about that issue, eh?

Now, I’m not going to disparage the very services on which I post (and read) about every minor incident in life. Social networking is what it is. You give a little; you get a little (and ignore the ads, if possible). Besides, is there any real “privacy” these days? We’ll definitely pick up that subject at a later date.

The real problem my friend pointed out is more crucial to social communities. If I’m using a service to send these missives to several email addresses at once, I’m missing the fundamental point of communication: Why should I try to reach an email address, when I want to communicate with people? I’m awfully dumb if I send friends a mass, formatted email instead of a personal invitation, no? (Now, about my sharing the contents of emails….)

Beer with twist-off caps. As a consumer helping many breweries profit over the years, I never thought about the contents of a beer bottle. I had my favorites, but didn’t think anything more of beer. It’s not until you start brewing your own beer that you truly appreciate what you’ve been drinking. Patiently stirred wort boiled down to the essence of alcohol, a social phenomenon thousands of years in the making (ask any homebrewing club). Crushed malt so sweet and pure, you can chew it (try it some time). Pungent hops, the taste and smell fused with the liquid, bursting from a well-brewed beer when you pop the bottle’s cap (with a worn opener). Yeast coaxed from dormancy to roil your wort into something bold and powerful.

So, it wasn’t until I made my own that I understood why I always bought beer with a sealed cap. A bottle that needs an opener, I believed, is worth drinking. Then there was the result of twisting off a beer cap: It’s like opening Hemingway to find words written by the Unabomber.

Call me a beer snob, but this is one reason I don’t drink Budweiser (that, and a sense of self-worth). Usually. These are hard economic times, though, and a man can’t go without beer. Needless to say, the other day, I did the unthinkable. I broke down and bought a six-pack of Annheuser-Busch’s American Ale. What the hell, I figured. It’s new. I make ale. The caps of these bottles need an opener. It can’t be that bad.

The bottle claims the beer is “carefully brewed with barley from America’s heartland (Ah…a political buzzword!) and Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest (code for beer lovers, meaning “You drink. Make you Hoppy!”)…with a distinct hoppy finish.” All of it marketing crap (one class, thankfully, I avoided in college). My advice: Step away from the beer, son. Think Bud lager meets nuclear waste with a faint hint of dung beetle. It’s not worth saving a buck or two per six pack if your taste buds will explode on contact.

If you’re like me and have 5 bottles left, I’d recommend watering the house plants (you don’t like).

Big frickin government. If you really look at it, the two candidates vying for the presidency next week give you one option: Big BadAss, Money-Grubbing Government. Face it, if you pick either Nobama or McLame, you’re picking your own pocket. One will tax your boss, who will in turn pay you less (or lay you off, or cut your benefits, or stop the free coffee/yoga class/lunch buffet service), to fund national healthcare. The other will help you buy more stock in banks, build more armor-plated humvees, and buy more outfits for Sarah Palin/Tina Fey. Admitted oversimplifications, but whether it’s corporate welfare or social welfare, it’s still welfare. That’s not at all fair for the rest of us schmucks trying to survive until mandatory retirement, at age 105, that is, if we even have retirement and health care. This is certainly not the stupidity the Founders envisioned; they thought we could govern ourselves (Ha!). Maybe, no matter who gets in, the Founders, the economy, and healthcare will have something in common: You.

Lengthy blogs. First I was laconic. Now I’m the Unabomber.

List blogs. Every blogger does at least one. I’ve done my part to add to the heap of stupidity crowding the Internet. Now I can roll up my sleeves and get to work.


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