Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gentle Readers,

Guess who's back! It's time to reignite this thing, even if I have no readers left.

"Why?" you may ask yourselves. "Why, after ignoring us for four years, is CP returning?" Although I understand the question is merely rhetorical, since no one is actually reading this, I will answer. I decided to leave Facebook for a while - twelve days, to be precise.

I started having the idea to take a break after Poor George and I arranged to take a short trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary on the 25th of this month.  I thought "wouldn't it be fun to pretend it's 2006 and everyone didn't walk around with their faces buried in a smartphone the whole time? Wouldn't it be interesting to remember what it's like to take a trip and just be there, on the trip, with your companion, instead of communicating non-stop with an audience of (insert however many Facebook friends you have)?" So, without having informed PG of this, I decided I wouldn't Facebook during our trip.

Which led me to think about the amount of Facebooking I do in general.  Especially recently, with the onslaught of dramatic social phenomena such as Kneel-Gate and "Me, Too."  And the associated dramas happening in the various online circles in which I've ensconced myself. The incessant, mindless scrolling on my iPhone. It was starting to feel compulsive, and compulsive behavior is something I like to avoid full-stop.

I already knew, from previous attempts, that I would likely not succeed in regulating my own Facebook usage to a limited amount of time each day. I briefly considered a parental-style app where I would be able to stop myself after thirty minutes of mindless scrolling, e.g. But I decided going full-on cold turkey would be more efficient, as well as an interesting experiment.  So I engaged the services of PG to change my Facebook password, vowing to remember what it was so that he could return my access to me on Halloween.

A frequent victim of "phubbing" by me, PG was only too glad to comply. And voila: as of about 11 pm PDT last night, I have no access to Facebook.

And now I'm here to journal the experience of my non-Facebook life.

This morning was jarring. I have a specific morning routine which goes something like this:

  • ALARM goes off
  • I hit Snooze and grab my iPhone
  • I open email and briefly scroll through 50 or so commercial spam messages, occasionally opening one if it looks interesting - but otherwise just looking for anything important I might need to read. (I'd say about 3x a week I find a message I need.)
  • Then I open Facebook - and it's anyone's guess how long I'll hang out there.  I usually scroll a few screens just to see if there's anything really interesting happening. Then I check my Notifications to see activity on my own posts or follow-up comments/likes on others' posts where I have left comments. And then one of my favorite parts - looking at my post memories from years past. Then, after all this, I start the mindless scrolling which often goes on for much longer than it needs to.

It's anyone's guess how long the mindless scrolling lasts.  It depends on the day and on whether there's anything dramatic going on in any of the online circles I run in. If there is a big drama involving a lot of people I "know," it might go on for an hour or more and I don't actually bolt out of bed until it's an emergency and I'm about to be late for something.

It was jarring not having all that occur this morning.

Today I just read a few more commercial spam emails than I normally would, and then I got up and got in the shower.  Got dressed, gathered my things, and got to the 5:55 am train to LA with plenty of time to spare.

It's unsettling - but I think good things may happen as a result.  I want to do more writing, and I want to do it without the need of the rush of immediate feedback.  I'm going to resist sending links to my posts to potential readers for that reason.

Stay tuned for more updates on this experience.

Monday, December 16, 2013

You know...

I just read my previous post to see if I would shrink from embarrassment and regret my strongly worded stance.

I do not.  I still stand by every word, including every "f*ck." 

Just FYI.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Okay bitches....

Okay bitches.  Listen up.

(And by "bitches" I mean those of you who are complaining in any way, shape or form about our so-called "Obamacare.")

I know that swearing up a storm in a personal essay or blog post is at best a show of laziness and at worst a hallmark of unimaginative and unoriginal writing.  But sometimes, bitches, it just fucking needs to be done.

Because I am fucking sick and tired of listening to people on both sides of the aisle talk about what a "disaster" the Obamacare rollout has been.

I am sick of listening to the media harp on Obama's "lies" about people being able to keep their shitty, expensive plans with minimal coverage.  Boo fucking hoo.  For one thing, you are taking Obama's mistaken use of the word "period" too fucking literally.  Seriously, bitches.  Do you have nothing better to do than split hairs about what it means to "keep your plan"?  For example, can you possibly conceive of the notion that having a plan cancelled and then immediately replaced by a similar or better plan at a similar or better price could be construed as somewhere in the neighborhood of "keeping your plan"?


Well then go fuck yourself, because I am tired listening to you bitch about your fucking little first-world problem.  You have a fucking insurance plan, so go fuck yourself after you get back from your doctor's appointment.  And have her prescribe you some anti-psychotics while you're there, because if you think this "problem" that this "liar" of a president caused you is a bigger problem than not having access to a health plan at all, you're too fucking insane and/or just plain stupid for me even to deal with.

That's right.  Fuck off.

And those of you who have nothing better to do than complain about the buggy websites needed to sign up for "Obamacare" can go fuck yourselves even harder.  That's right.  And please, fuck yourselves raw, with no lube.


What the fuck do you think this is, people?  For the first time in modern US history, we are at the cusp of joining the rest of the civilized fucking industrialized first world by guaranteeing basic healthcare to every citizen.  THAT is a FUCKING BIG DEAL, bitches.  If you can't look one inch beyond your little pea brains to recognize the magnitude of this achievement, go live on some fucking desert island because you don't even deserve to be here.

So we're worried about the "disaster" that this rollout has been, huh?  Well, bitches, try THIS on for a disaster:  Say you get laid off from your job where you're making a comfortable upper middle class income, something close to six figures, or just over six figures.  And you're 50.  Say your Cobra runs out and you still haven't found a job, because remember, you're fucking 50.  You probably carry a little more weight than is ideal, and you may have some hypertension or cholesterol issues.  Or you're a cancer survivor.  Or you have well managed diabetes.

Without Obamacare, what the FUCK are you expecting to do if you get sick?  Or get into a bad car accident?  Do you think any fucking insurance company is going to sign you up for a health policy?  At least one that provides any reasonable level of coverage?  FUCK NO.

You have a house, and some savings.  Do you think that if you get cancer, or a brain injury, or anything else that will cost a million fucking dollars to treat, that you will get to keep that house and savings as well as get medical treatment?  FUCK NO.

That house and those savings will be GONE in a matter of days, bitches.  And there won't be a goddamn thing you can do about it.  Everything you've worked for your whole fucking adult life will be GONE, just like that.  All because you got hit by some fucking uninsured drunk driver.  Or an insured one, even.  Or because you got cancer.  Or fell down and broke your spine. Etc. etc. etc.

I just don't understand you, bitches.  For the first time in modern US history, we can all go to bed and sleep at night because we now know that by law we are entitled to a reasonable health plan.

And that is such a fucking disaster.

Oh, but wait.  The website doesn't work.  Fuck the whole thing.  Let's just go back to the way it's been.  Just make sure you have a job until the day you're eligible for Medicare.  We all know from 2008-2009 how realistic THAT is.

That's right, bitches.  I'm done.  I'm going up the river and I'm taking names.

Shut the FUCK UP about Obamacare.  Unless you have something nice to say.

As everyone likes to say these days, THAT IS ALL.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Man, this place is depressing!

So coming back to Blogger feels a bit like returning to a childhood home that has been abandoned.  I was looking at the link list of blogs I used to follow, which are organized on the right side of my screen, in order by which they were last updated.  Only the very few at the top have been active within the past few months.  After that, there are a series of blogs on the list whose latest posts say "So long!" or "The end!" or something similarly foreboding. 

But I'm still going to hang out here, because I need a place to deposit the noise in my head (the music is so pretty!)  However, something tells me this isn't going to be any sort of homecoming or return to the high days of blogging circa 2006. 

And that will have to be ok.  It's a new beginning, and who knows what we may find lurking in the shadows.  Hopefully it just won't be that creepy babysitter/neighbor I had as a young boy. I never cared much for his "games."

I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it:  I will never permanently delete or retire CPW.  The blogosphere needs it. 

(For what, I have no idea, but it sounded like a good thing to say.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

CP's Pretend Interviews with Bloggers - Lulu turns the tables

Normally around this time CP would pretend to sit down with former blogger and current West African superstar Lulu to ask her a load of embarrassing questions, but tonight we have a reverse format where Lulu is going to pretend to interview CP.  At least that's the intention; one never knows the twists and turns these things can take.

Lulu:  So CP, I hear you're a little depressed these days.  What is going on, and what makes you think this is appropriate fodder for a blog?

CP:  You mean everyone doesn't want to listen to the soothing, plaintive sounds of my ennui?

Lulu:  Nice word, CP - you do recall you learned that from me, don't you?

CP:  Well it's actually just a derivative of a French word that I learned long before I ever met you, Lu.  I did learn a thing or two in my pre-Lulian existence.  But you may have been one of the first in my circle to make regular use of the English version, and for that I thank you.  Heartily. 

Lulu:  Touché, CP.  So you're a bit off these days, as a polite person might put it?

CP:  Yeah, I guess so.  But I'm sure I'll bounce back.  I'm considering taking a week off work and reorganizing my house.  That's the kind of thing that can give me a lift and shock me back into reality.

Lulu:  I've been to reality CP, and it's no picnic.  If you've found somewhere else to live for a while,  you might want to just hunker down until the storm passes.  Plus, this thing about you wanting to "organize" things is giving me hives.

CP:  Sorry Lu, I forgot that it wasn't all about me.  So, what suggestions do you have for me other than to go off on a compulsive decluttering binge?

Lulu:  I don't know CP, this whole thing is just you pretending to be me asking you questions.  But I can see your alter-ego trying to take control of the interview, so tell me whatever you'd like.  Just try not to sound psychotic.  This whole "reality" discussion is starting to give me the creeps.

CP:  You're not going to complain that I'm making you sound like a bitch again, are you?

Lulu:  I've given up any hope of that.  So, what is next on your agenda?

CP:  I'm not sure.  I think I'll try to slog through my emails to make sure I haven't skipped anything that would result in a fireable offense.  I'll take care of my expense reports and a few other administrative duties that are several weeks late. Then I'll schedule some time out of the office so that I can declutter and try to pull it back together.

Lulu:  That sounds like a plan.  Pretend to be me again in a few weeks and let me know how things turn out.

CP:  Thanks Lu.  Any closing words of wisdom for me?

Lulu:  Post as many cat pics as possible  Kiss kiss.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I'm baaaack....

I’ve decided to revive Coaster Punchman’s World, not that I ever took an official reprieve.  But I miss writing, and CPW was a convenient outlet.

Things have gotten shaky on the family front, with my elderly parents having a variety of health and other problems.  The stress I’ve felt from dealing with it is now settling into a semi-debilitating depression.   Not the kind of depression (yet) that keeps me from leaving the house, but the kind that slows down, significantly, my ability to tackle anything even remotely challenging.  The thing suffering the most is my work. 

I am almost completely unable to concentrate, and the effort that would be required to do the things that I know would help (exercise, bathe, declutter my surroundings) feels overwhelming. 

I am able to get myself out of the house for non-stressful socializing, for which I am grateful.  For the moment I’ve just lost interest in almost everything else that requires any amount of planning or effort.

Enough whining about that for a few minutes.  I just wanted to get that out of my system.

Next on deck:  some of the quandaries of Facebook and its implications on social interactions. 

I read with interest the following Miss Manners submission, and find it fascinating.  People do have different takes on Facebook.  With the exception of a few odd celebrities, I generally do not friend or accept friend requests from people I wouldn’t care to socialize with in person.  Not everyone feels that way, though.  I’ve noticed not a small number of people who merely enjoy some of the online banter, and who want to know what people are up to, but who otherwise don’t really want any kind of relationship to speak of. 

I’m not sure how I feel about that – but, thankfully, decisions don’t need to be made every day on that front.  I’ve made peace with the quandary by interacting with people I care to interact with, and not worrying too much about the rest. 

Some people actively “unfriend” people they find annoying, but I don’t see the need to do that since it’s easy enough simply to remove someone from your newsfeed so that you are not bombarded by posts and images from a person you’d rather not see. 

Still, what I find rather problematic about Facebook is having “friends” who live nearby.  For a while I had a policy of not friending people in my own city, since it can make social interactions awkward.  For example, not everyone in a particular circle is always invited to every dinner party or outing – which means it is not a good idea to post photos of local events for fear of insulting the people who were excluded. 

Same goes for major events like big parties and weddings.  When these things are made public on Facebook, it becomes obvious who is valued enough to an individual to warrant an invitation and who is not.  On the one hand, it’s useful information to know where one stands with specific people, but in my opinion it’s easier and certainly more convenient to do things the old fashioned way.  If Billy is having a birthday party and Bobby is not invited, the party should simply never be mentioned to Bobby.  The kind of stuff we (should) learn at a young age about basic manners.  Facebook complicates all of that to a maddening degree.

On to the Miss Manners letter and reply to which I referred earlier in this post:

Dear Miss Manners:  I joined Facebook when I had cancer, as a way of posting my current status. I was following others’ suggestions and did not like it for this use. I do, however, like it for other reasons. I can keep an eye on my daughter, as well as my nieces and nephews.

I can also reconnect with old friends and, as a nostalgic person, I enjoy this. I also enjoy the ability to share photographs of said friends. I befriend only people I have fond memories of, or whom I just liked.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean I actually want to resume an old friendship! As a mother of young kids who works part time and volunteers, I have a hard enough time finding time for my friends and myself as it is.

Now an old friend in a nearby town has befriended me. While I enjoyed her company in my 20s, the friendship ended when I realized how badly she was an alcoholic. Still, there were things I really enjoyed about her.

Now, 15 years later, she mentioned on Facebook that she would like to get together. I don’t know if alcohol is still a problem, but I just can’t extend myself that far, both in terms of where she lives and the potential for toxicity.

Can you think of a polite way to tell her (or others in similar situations) that I really enjoyed hearing from her and seeing her occasional posts, her family, etc., but that I don’t particularly want to reconnect with her in person? Am I kidding myself about the possibility of a polite way to convey such a message?

Gentle Reader: No, there is no polite way to tell someone that you want to know their personal business but don’t actually want to talk to them. This phenomenon used to be known as gossip, and in Miss Manners’ opinion, Facebook has ruined its fun for everyone.

When you want to avoid human contact, the usual social rules apply. Tell her that this is an extremely busy time for you, but that you hope to connect in the (unspecified) future. To make it more convincing, for goodness’ sake don’t post your social life on Facebook for awhile.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cooking for cooking's sake

I do like to cook. For some reason I prefer to do it when Poor George is not around - I'm not sure why. Because when I do cook with Poor George, I have fun and I learn things, even if he chastises me severely and then mocks me openly for every gaffe I make. He claims his Chinese heritage and his father's instruction methods as the reasons he does this to me. According to George, the Chinese have such a reverence for food that to screw around with your ingredients is the height of disrespect to the universe, and in situations where animal products are used, disrespect to the animal who gave its life so that you can stuff your fat face.

I suspect there may be more going on with PG's admonishments than that, but I'll work with that for now.

Yesterday morning I got it in my head that I would like to spend the day cooking and that I would make myself a super fancy meal. I had lofty visions of my friend Brandon, who was raised in a stereotypical New York Italian home where lasagna was served as a first course to any meal. I decided I would make myself a lasagna to start.

Of course, being the imbecile that I am, I searched the Web for an "ultimate" lasagna recipe, and ended up going with one that requires its own tomato sauce from scratch.

"I don't think you're going to want to make your own sauce - that will take too long," said Poor George gently over the phone. At present George is in Illinois helping my parents move, an act that should in itself qualify him for sainthood.

Since I didn't actually start until after 8 pm last night, Poor George turned out to be exactly right. My lasagna was not ready until well after midnight - at which point I had no desire to eat it. (I did take one tiny little square, and while not being the best lasagna I've had in my life, I will say that it is still pretty good.)

The recipe told me to boil two whole pounds of lasagna noodles. I was dubious that I would be able to use that much, but I followed the recipe dutifully and as a result ended up with an entire batch of unused cooked noodles.

So this morning I whipped up nice little tuna noodle hotdish, made with my own bechamel in place of a UBI. For the uninitiated and non-Midwesterners among you, "UBI" stands for "Universal Binding Ingredient" used in hot dishes, more commonly known as Cream of Something Soup. None of that church basement stuff for me today, Gentle Readers. Today is the Real McCoy.

And lacking any potato chips to layer on top, I opted for buttered panko bread crumbs. That, coupled with the generous dollops of Tobasco and cayenne pepper I threw into the mix, seems to give my tuna noodle dish the "innovative taste" lacking in most church cookbook recipes.

Some further investigation into my refrigerator contents prompted me to throw together a potage of potato, leek, broccoli and cauliflower which is now cooling on top of the stove. Alongside a delicious looking swiss chard souffle I just removed. (I used leftover mozzarella instead of gruyere so I'll let you know how that turns out. Smells wonderful.)

Inside the fridge I still have a nice piece of wild red sockeye salmon that I intended to eat with a miso glaze as my main course last night, but seeing as how I didn't make it through the first course the salmon remains uncooked and uneaten.

I have all this wonderful food surrounding me right now, with no appetite to eat it. I hope I feel hungry around 5 tonight because I will be enjoying a real feast. Wish some of you could join me.