The best revenge is a life well lived, but voodoo doesn’t hurt

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Paper Voodoo Monday! No, PVM is not an established event, nor do I promise to make it a recurring thing, but Paper Voodoo Monday sounded kind of catchy.
Anyway, a few years ago I picked up one of these kitschy pads by Knock Knock. If you ever find yourself feeling fairly ticked off at someone, you can mete out their punishment in a way that won’t get you a prison sentence.
The past two-ish weeks, I’ve been engaged in an unnecessarily drawn out, frustrating saga involving a $1.99 pack of batteries I ordered from a seller on Amazon—because I am basically a piano-cuddling hermit and it’s too much trouble to go get batteries from the store. What followed my order was what shall be henceforth known as the Great Battery Saga. I won’t go into detail, but let me say it’s one of the worst customer service wild goose chases I’ve had, involving nonexistent tracking numbers, delayed shipping, shady emails with incorrect grammar, etc. etc. etc. etc.
The batteries finally came today (stuffed in a regular letter envelope, to boot) and I’m going to write “National Deals” a bad review. But what is the fun of having to recount the Great Battery Saga, inciting the wrath of shady internet sellers, and martyring myself for the cause of warning people not to give these jerks money? I’m going to enact my own revenge:

I decided, for no reason, that their fair and reasonable punishment would be for a tiny purple happy bucktoothed shark to attack their hands (if there are several people behind this operation, each of them shall face the wrath of my imaginary hand-loving shark).

There. I feel better.

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To social networks and the people who use them

Remember the 90s? Remember when Gmail didn’t exist, and people actually had AOL and Hotmail email addresses, and every day you’d get a chain letter plopped in your inbox imploring you to save the bonsai kitten? And everyone had these ridiculous quotes in their signatures ~_*+tHat lOokED lyKe tHiS+*_~, and we all thought that if we forwarded this email to ten thousand people, Bill Gates would give us all $100?

I thought we’d learned from that. But like everything else in life, stupidity endures, and my social networks are not messageboards of my friends’ lives so much as they are a platform for the dumbest things to get shared and re-posted, in a terribly real satire of what happens when you enable mankind with free, fast communication.

Facebook, once a medium for Harvard students to do…whatever Harvard students do, I guess, is now a place where I see questionably designed images that are, at best, trite and misleading:

Let’s tally up the cliches. 1: “No regrets.” 2: “Ditch everyone who doesn’t treat you like the special snowflake you are.” 3: “Everything happens for a reason.” 4: “Take chances.” 5: “Life’s not easy, but it’s worth it.” 6: Silhouette of someone holding an umbrella. And a bird, because birds are symbolic.

 
And, at worst, these things are inaccurate and damaging:
The modern concepts of depression and anxiety didn’t exist in Ancient China, so this is a wildly stupid translation of Lao Tzu, and it trivializes people’s problems with actual depression and/or anxiety. As a cherry of stupidity on top of this sundae of insulting triteness, this image looks like it was made in MS Paint over a Microsoft default image.
I was flabbergasted at the number of perfectly reasonable people who demonstrated that they don’t understand how stocks, law, or common sense work.

Okay, so Facebook is now taken over by dumb people who wouldn’t know good typography if an ampersand hit them in the face. Over to Google+, where none of the few people I have chosen to follow there believe in re-posting this stupid nonsense.

But wait! Google+ now shows me “What’s Hot,” which is the stuff that gets chain-emailed around by people I have absolutely no connection to. Which is why I now log in and see this:

Don’t know about you, but if I look into someone’s eyes and I see their heart, I’m calling the ambulance.

What the hell, Google+? The whole point of using you is so I don’t have to deal with the stupid people I know on Facebook! Why do you feel the need to show me stupid stuff made by stupid people I don’t even know?

My conclusion? Misattributed quotes, terrible design, fake stories, and saccharinely trite sayings are always going to persist. Scientists could invent a way for us to beam thoughts right into each others’ heads, and while a few people will use this in a groundbreaking educational way, the majority of them will be beaming “~Life isn’t measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away~ (George Washington)” into each other’s craniums while they walk their holographic robot dogs.

That’s depressing. Not fake-Lao-Tzu living-in-the-past depressing, just regular depressing.

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Someone just cut off my internet already

When I’m not practicing, designing, compulsively making pages of lists in my Moleskine, or reading actual books, I’m most likely spending useless time reading blogs of some interest or other.

I’m slightly ashamed to say that I’ve explored a vast section of the blogosphere. My obsessive blog-reading phases follow a sort of cycle that goes like this:
1. Be slightly curious about one thing.
2. Google that thing.
3. Discover an endless web of blogs and websites dedicated to people who are incredibly discerning about that one thing. Follow every single link on these pages to even more blogs and websites.
4. Spend an embarrassing number of hours reading these blogs and sites.
5. After some time, decide belatedly that I should stop.
6. Start all over again.
So far I’ve gone through different obsessive phases: fashion, makeup, paper products, pens, art, food, typography… I am a walking treasure trove of all the information you will probably need to know about these things.
Anyway the reason why I blog about this is that an innocent internet foray into finding out how to make my apartment look nice has spiraled into an obsession with interior design blogs. I’ve spent the last couple of days looking at different organization systems, reading about paint, learning how to refinish wood, and finding out how to “dress up” a space.
It made me realize that I have yet to go through a professional-classical-musician phase. Sure, I keep up with Alon Goldstein’s insightful musings and Jeremy Denk’s witty essays, and I follow Yuja Wang and Hilary Hahn’s violin case on Twitter, but none of them post with the frequency or regularity of style bloggers who post several outfits a day. My Google Reader is inundated every day with photos of Jeffrey Campbell shoes and photos of the newest eyeshadow from some high-end brand, but months will go between Alon Goldstein’s updates.
Why don’t classical musicians blog more? Surely there’s an audience—I’m sure there are more people like me.
And then the answer hit me. Classical musicians don’t blog or tweet incessantly because they’re practicing. And performing, and having actual lives.
Here I am, writing pointless blog entries about nothing at all, and Twittering endlessly, and reading blogs about anything, when I could be practicing more. And I call myself a pianist.
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