Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Defense Of Snark.

You may not have noticed, but I can be a bit snarky at times. Shocking, I know, but I guarantee you, if you look past the big breasted stick-toon ladies (I know that isn’t always easy) and the constant references to how awesome my wife is, you’ll find subtle sarcasm, cynicism, clever quips and some innuendo laden through most of my posts. Hard to believe, right? I know. It’s so subtle you probably hadn’t realized I’m being snarky right now.
Mind blowing! Isn't it?

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because today I’m a guest over at Kathy’s very inspiring and uplifting blog, Bliss Habits. This week is Bliss Habits’ “Snark Week” and I’ve been given a chance to throw my two cents in on what I believe is the value of good snark.

You know what to do. just follow the LINK and check it out. And, while you’re over there, say hi to Kathy and tell her ol’ Vinny sent you.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

No! And I Mean It... Okay?

One of the questions I've always hated having to answer during job interviews is for me to say what I consider to be my biggest flaw. Not because I don't know the answer, but because I don't like the answer. Well, that and because of the fact that it's a generic bullshit question employers throw out because it's printed on an interview questionnaire some downloaded. But as I was saying, my main reason is because I don't like admitting the answer. Which is that I have a real problem saying "no" to people.
If only it were so simple...
It's one of those things about myself I can't stand, but have a really hard time dealing with. Like most people with this problem, I think maybe people will like me less or be upset with me if I assert myself and say no to their requests. In my case, I think it's because I'm an introvert, with slightly above average intelligence, who, as a result, grew up misunderstood and under-appreciated (and a constant target of bullies). As such, I constantly craved attention and acceptance for fear of being alone and developed an overly accommodating personality.

Or something like that, I guess. I'm basically pulling all that of my ass.

Anyway, what I really hate about this is that, as an adult, I know deep down that I don't have that same desire for acceptance I once did. Back then, it was a coping mechanism in response to fulfilling what everyone else considered "normal", which meant having lots of friends and being popular. That's not me. I like being left alone. I'm not a people person and I'm okay with that. To be honest most of the time, people annoy me.

Maybe that's why some think I come off as unfriendly.

I'm not, by the way. Unfriendly, I mean. I try to be a nice guy, which I think is part of the problem. I think things would be a lot easier if I was more of an asshole. Assholes have it easy, in that regard. They don't worry about who likes them or who they disappoint. Assholes don't give a shit! I imagine myself being an asshole sometimes. What it might be like. Saying "no" with reckless abandon, rocking back in my chair with my hands clasped behind my head as the poor loser whose request I just declined dejectedly lumbers off to find someone else to do whatever he or she was asking (didn't really catch what he/she was asking me for, to be honest. I wasn't paying attention). I imagine smiling at that point, knowing whatever his or her problem was, I prevented it from also becoming my problem.

Yeah... Assholes have it so easy.

But not me, though. Noooo!!! I have to be Mr. Nice Guy. So every time someone asks me for something, those old habits kick in and I start thinking about what a disappointment I'll end up being to that person if I say no. Instead, I try to make excuses why I can't help out. Things like, I'm swamped with my own stuff, or I don't know how to do what the person asked are the usual fallbacks, but these excuses are paper thin and with a little arguing, they know I'll be swayed.

It's not there have never been times when I said no, though. The problem there is standing my ground after I do. Often, if the person making the request is determined enough, they won't accept no for an answer. I know, right? You'd think after you faced your fear and rose to the challenge they'd accept defeat, right? But, no, there's no, "You've won this round, Vinny. Congratulations on thwarting my scheme. Until next we meet, I salute thee."

No! They still try to make me work for it. They can see that I'm weak. They know, after battling the urge to cave in and take on whatever responsibility they're trying to shovel on hand me, that I'm spent and I don't have the resolve to stand my ground. So they persist and, in the end, I cave. I always cave.

It's something I have to work on (the saying "no" thing, not the trying to be an asshole thing, so we're clear). Maybe I'll start reading up on it and trying to learn new techniques, that will help me say " no" to people in a more effective and guilt-free manner. Maybe I'll practice saying it in the mirror or with Mrs. C...

Or maybe just in the mirror for now. Baby steps, Vinny. Baby steps...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I'm Okay!

No, this isn't an apology for not posting in a long while post. I posted just last Tuesday, if you recall. I'm just letting you all know that after last Tuesday's post, I wasn't the victim of a horrible auto-erotic asphyxiation experiment-gone-wrong at the hands of my lovely wife, Mrs. C. While she does often express the desire to strangle me, it's usually not (actually never) in any kind of erotic sense.

Anyway, I'm alright, which means things went well with what I now call Operation Valentine. She loved getting the book. Her appreciation for the gift was even greater since she really wasn't expecting anything at all this year. That morning, I hid the book in her bag and pretended like everything was normal. Later on, I got the email:

Mrs. C: You sneaky little devil. THANK YOU!!!

That's when the roses arrived. Yeah! You read right. ROSES. Every year, Mrs. C insists she gets roses on Valentine's Day. She doesn't care what flower is more trendy (or what's cheaper), she wants red roses. Period! Nothing else will do. I usually screw up the flowers part by waiting until the last possible minute to go out and get something, but this year I made the effort to not wait until the flower shop was closing on Valentine's Day to see what they had left.

As I said, she wasn't expecting, so she was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. The icing on the cake was when I suggested she check in her handbag too. She was so happy, in fact, she took a picture of her Valentine's Day loot and posted it on her own Facebook & Twitter profiles.
Then she told everyone (friends and coworkers) that the book was my idea...

Because obviously a lady must preserve her reputation. her husband, however, yeah, let people think he's the freak in the relationship.

So, to be honest, if there was any reason for me being quiet for the past week, it's because things went really, really well with Operation Valentine, leaving me really, REALLY tired these past few days. As I said before, I'll leave it up to your imaginations.

Speaking of imaginations...
Can you imagine it's Tuesday already? You know what that means, right? Yes! It's time for me to drop some knowledge on you all with another informative and entertaining article over at Sprocket Ink.


This time we have espionage, intrigue and cyber-crime that may or may not be supported by a certain Asian government (and, no, it's not Japan). At the very least, they seem to be putting their hackers up in a nice place. So click on the LINK, the official SI badge over to the upper right or visit my Me & Sprocket Ink tab up top. You won't be sorry you did.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Valentine's Day Gift That Could Give Something Back.

I'm just going to come out and say it. I don't like Valentine's Day. There! I said it. I know you might disagree and this will probably be a topic of some controversy, but that's just how I feel about it.
Why, you ask? I have several reasons:

First, whatever Valentine's Day started off as in the beginning, it has basically become a day set aside for jewelry/perfume/chocolate sellers to convince people that they can show someone the extent of their romantic interest by how much they're willing to spend. If it wasn't for the great food around that time of year, Christmas would by on my list for the same reason.

But it's on notice.

The next thing is that guys usually get the short end of the stick on Valentine's Day. We're usually the ones that have to spend most of the money on February 14 to impress the ladies. Well, at least that's how it is here in the western world. I recently learned that, in Japan, men are the ones who receive gifts on that date (I discuss this further in my post last week on Sprocket Ink). Another reason for me to love that country! Sadly, I'm not in Japan, so this doesn't affect me.

Third, I'm of the belief that Valentine's Day is for amateurs in the ways of love. Sure, it's alright for those puppy love stages of a budding romance, but after a few years, you just need to accept the fact that person actually stuck around so, yeah, it probably means he or she may still be into you, even a little bit.

However, my biggest peeve about Valentine's Day is that my wife, Mrs. C, does not agree with me on any of my previous points. She wants the flowers, she wants the candy and she'll never say no to jewelry, if she can get them. And she expects this materialistic show of affection. Every. freakin. year.


She isn't unreasonable, though. After my being unemployed for nine months and only just getting back into the workforce, she knows finances are tight. I've known her long enough, though, to not get caught in the trap of a false sense of security. Just because she hasn't asked doesn't mean she doesn't want but, like I said she isn't unreasonable. Sure enough, she did say this to me just a few days ago.

Mrs. C: If you're going to buy me something, I'm interested in those 50 Shades books.

Me: Really? Why?

Mrs. C: I just want to see what all the fuss is about.

While I question her choice of literature, it's what she wants, so I agreed. She didn't set a date. She doesn't actually expect me to buy her a book by Valentine's Day since I've still to receive my first month's salary, but she expects it soon.

Little does she know...

When I lost my job at Soul Suck Int'l - A Division of the Ninth Circle, the place I worked at before The Paper, I also lost the bank account I had because, if you leave them inactive and empty for up to three months, they automatically get closed. When I got the job at The Paper I had to go through the hassle of opening a new one and, that time around, I chose the bank with the reputation for having the best online facilities and services. I didn't want that one closed off after losing my job at The Paper so, without her knowing, I left enough cash in to take care of service charges and keep it going for a few months. Added to that, any time I wound up with any extra cash, I put it in my account.

Now, I'm employed again and there's a very small amount I can do something with. It's nothing much, but my plan was to get her something as a small "thank you" for putting up with my being unemployed again and, by coincidence, the dreaded Valentine's Day was just around the corner so I decided, "What the hell? Why not?"

I feel safe telling you this here because right now she's so focused on her studying, she almost never takes a break and I'm 100% certain she won't be reading this.

Still, one thing did bother me. As popular as they are, I've avoided the 50 Shades series of books due to the reviews about the quality of the writing, but I heard and read enough to have an idea what they're about. They're "lit porn", as one person I know described them.
I've had more than my fair share of porn in my day, but I chose to pass on this one. You could say that, with certain things, I prefer to leave as little to the imagination as possible. My wife, on the other hand, has never been the lit porn type (or any other type, really). She knows about my history with the genre, but she never got into it, herself. A side effect of being raised by her uncle, the evangelist and being the lead singer in her church's worship team before she developed the ability form full sentences, I guess. Naturally, she has an idea what the series is about too. So why was she really interested in them, all of a sudden? Tonight, I asked her again.

Mrs. C: Well... You know how I'm always trying to get you to read books to help you understand me better, right? I decided I'd follow my own advice and try to develop my knowledge in an area of interest to you.

Me: *blink*

At first, when she said this, I thought:

That's kinda sweet...

Which was immediately followed by:


She is getting one of those books for Valentine's Day. That much is certain. I just can't resist the urge to see how this all turns out. If the results are funny and at least PG rated, I probably also won't be able to resist the urge to share the adventure. If you don't hear from me for a while, that probably means things went horribly wrong.
In that case, I'm counting on you to send help. If not and things go great, I'll let you know. The details, though... well... I'll just have to leave that to up to your imagination.