Yearly Archives: 2017

Rover Teeth

Getting bored more and more easily. Antsy, even. My acquaintances are, for the most part, not interested in me enough to pull me out of my doldrums; just sitting within earshot of them while I stare at my phone is perhaps the most painful way to spend my time. So I typically do the Irish exit and just leave. Grab my bag and go. No goodbyes. Not worth it.

If you live in Austin, and you want to be alone, this town will happily ignore you. Even if you don’t want to be alone, it will still happily ignore you. You have to bring something to the table and be a producer of something just to lift yourself up to the level of “hey, you’re alright, have a beer.”

It’s an ill fit for a guy like me who came up in a town where you were judged not by what you did, but what you could possibly do, what you might be capable of. The rest of the world doesn’t operate like that, but too late to relearn.

At any rate, by straddling across many, many social circles, I find myself lost and forgotten in the middle, not really central enough in any circle to be missed if I’m gone a while. Generally, if someone’s disappeared, they’re obviously doing something else with their time and are busy. Doesn’t matter if nothing is happening and your phone hasn’t rung in weeks, or there hasn’t been a knock on your door in months, or nobody’s held you in years.

You’re obviously busy and OK somewhere else; out of sight and out of mind.

So, lacking the influx of any motivation or breath of life from those in my periphery, I do random shit like drive for two hours in unexplored corners of the next county over, or throw myself into radio, or get drunk and buy new music, or rent movies, or read books in bars, etcetera, etcetera. Something, anything, to keep me from chewing my own face off. Because I’m not getting that stimulation from anybody else. No connection, no inspiration, no interest, no purpose.

It really deflates everything I do.

Backstop

I’ve heard of it being done, but I kinda secretly want to wire my radio and my antenna tuner to a softball backstop fence to see what kind of signal I can get out.

I have no idea if I can match the impedance of a backstop, or if I will be able to deal with the RF coming back down the feedline to my radio. I don’t even know if the fact that the backstop is anchored in the ground with concrete and touching the ground for its entire length will cause it to be its own ground plane. Does it act as a random wire antenna? Is it a longwire antenna? Is it good only for reception? What kind of harmful harmonics does it put out? How does the pair of 45º bends with the 90º straight legs affect the radiation pattern? What’s the optimum frequency band for it?

So what the hell…I gotta try it.

Hey, if someone can make long-distance contacts by wiring their radio, amplifier, and antenna tuner to a cast-iron skillet hanging from a swing set, I can make contacts with a backstop.

Stay tuned.

In Praise of the Holy Algorithm

It seems that I am, that we are, irredeemably under the thumb of the Facebook algorithm as far as getting any messages out.

A week ago, I was having a particularly bad night, emotionally, and I posted a short message that could have been construed as a cry for help. What I got was absolutely no response. Cold nothing. FB didn’t even put it in my own newsfeed, that’s how low FB scored it. And this weekend, when my apartment air conditioner died and I was looking for a place to stay for the night, I put out a genuine, specific call for help (to see if I could save a few bucks instead of booking a motel room), and nobody saw it until it was too late.

By the time I booked the room, the responses started trickling in. While I was sitting inside the motel room, toddling towards the bed, people were saying I could stay on their couch. They didn’t see the updates that I had booked a place and no longer needed their help. But too little, too late.

If what I’m saying looks like it might be funny, or witty, or emotionally prompting, it has a higher chance of receiving responses. It might be because either people want to react to my statements and do give a greater response…or the algorithm is picking which messages to show, who to show them to, and when to show them for better stickiness. Who knows?

We are at the beck and call of the Holy Algorithm, the one that decides if what we say is useful enough for the site. Facebook doesn’t exist in the service of its users; it exists in the service of itself. If what you say is judged by the text analytics to be good enough to keep your friends’ eyeballs glued to the screen; good enough to prompt them into doing an action such as a Like, a comment, a share, or even clicking the read-more link; good enough to keep them doing the infinite scroll after hovering over your post, then they have a vested interested in passing your words on. Otherwise, you’re stuck in obscurity.

I occasionally get reminded that Facebook is a terrible platform for timely messages. They don’t serve me, and I don’t pay for them to serve me. They show me advertisements in the middle of the newsfeed. There are better ways to get things done, and sometimes I must fall back to those ye olde ways.

So let us all give thanks and ask for the blessings of the Holy Algorithm, that it might lift our voices high and boost our signal.

In JSON’s name-
AJAX

We All, Absentee Consumers

How do so many tenants of dead malls stay alive, and why are so many videos of dead malls so interesting? Why do I keep watching?

Why is so much of a physical place’s legitimacy so pinned to what we all agree about it? Why is it that one minor opinion of it can cause the whole house of cards to come crumbling down?

This is human behavior.

The same social forces that govern whether a social club is dead also govern whether a mall is dead. It’s a trumped-up need where previously there was none. Artifice. We have so many physical buildings where thriving clubs, thriving social gathering places, previously existed, Now they’re only worth the marginalized clientèle who need haven. Same thing with dead malls. If a dead mall wants to survive, it needs tailors, dreamers, delusionists who believe they can survive long enough to keep paying the rent.

Humans are a fickle bunch. What once had juice can easily be bone dry. City boards can easily be fooled, but not consumers. Fat chance trying to fool them.

We are a country whose sole resource is retail space.

Nobody’s buying.

Blade Out, Turned Inward, For You

To those of you who follow me on the various social media: you’ve come to expect that most of the personal, introspective, realistic things I post are self-deprecating jokes, right? I can speak something serious, something plain and direct, but in the comments, you’re joking because you think I’m joking. Right? OK. So here’s a fucking joke for you:

Question: How do I talk to pretty girls?
Answer: I DON’T.

Go ahead. Laugh. I fucking dare you.

I might actually be hurting inside and completely alone, but that’s fine with you, right? As long as I make you laugh, it’ll be alright. Right? My loneliness is funny.

This is why I don’t say anything when I’m torn up inside. You don’t take me seriously. Do you ever have a moment where you say, “But he didn’t call for help. I thought he was doing OK. It was a joke, right?” This is that. Fuck you. You’re welcome.

You have all the answers. So do I. I’m not looking for your answers. I’m not looking for any answers at all. I’m looking for your empathy. I want to know I’m not alone. So many times I want to say something, but I don’t, because you have an opinion about what I should be doing. Well so do I. Your opinion doesn’t matter. This isn’t a game. Nobody’s keeping score. It’s not about the nail in my forehead. I know it’s there. I just want to know I’m not alone. Seriously. Reach out to me.

For once in our lives, reach out to me.