The “Submit” Button

(what does it MEAN?)

 

 

Yesterday, I paid my cable, gas and electric bills online even though I still like to get paper bills in the mail from these companies. I request paper bills and forgo “auto pay” features that automatically deduct from my debit card so that I can inspect the incredibly complex, multi-page bill containing unknown fees.

Some of these fees from some of these accounts had names like:

“CCCP prevention provider surcharge” — 134RUB x $.0316= $.04 x Kw = $1

Federal User/Civil trunKing citY/lOcal User CONSUMER fee Р$1.67

“Lawyers/High Priced Congressional Lobby fees” – $2.38

“HOMSEC Spying/Online Monitoring” service charge” – $.01

I am pretty sure that some of these fees are dated, (I mean, really, are we still collecting fees to fight the Cold War?), and some are just made up. It took me three attempts to see the hidden message in the $1.67 I was charged by Acme Cable company…

Seriously? Why not just hide these charges into my total fees and trust me to accept that for some reason it does cost me $70 a month to watch 20 of the 330+ channels that are available to me? Why can’t my bill just be A page? Or, why not allow me to order the channels I want a la carte? Certainly, that is a topic for another day? And someday, I’ll research some of these topics enough to put together solid blog posts and not just pontificate…

But, after reading through my bills, advocating the “Fight Club” style destruction of the main headquarters buildings of each of these companies to the unsympathetic walls of my apartment, I readied myself to pay the bills online.

First of all, not all sites use the “submit button” to finalize a transaction. Some enlightened programmers, I am sure, have gone to their bosses and said, “Oh corporate overlord, if you continue to use the “submit” button, the proletariat masses will begin to question the significance of what they are submitting to.” Of course, the overlord quickly had this programmer thrown in the alligator pit. But, corporate overlords have shareholders to answer to and lobbyists to pay, so questions are never good. Thus, we have FINAL options like “PAY.” (realize that there is a one degree of separation between “submit” and “pay.”)

When you click on the “submit” button, making a payment from your linked account to the cable/gas/electric/retail company, you have to wonder how many electronic eyes are viewing the information in the transaction. The link below will take you to a web page on Wikipedia that shows the number of steps that it takes to make a CC or debit payment online or even using your credit card at a restaurant. Essentially, there are approximately 5 different organizations that have access to your information when you “submit” for “payment.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payment_gateway

If this didn’t make any sense, forgive me, I am morphing into summer mode AND sick as a dog today…

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Good Morning!

Hi all!

As you noticed, yesterday there was no post. That may be the case again today, as I had a job interview yesterday and one today. Similar creative positions, and one might be a stretch, but wish me luck!

As I have literally applied to over 200 jobs since starting the blog, who know how many hiring managers are about to call me this week and ask to interview (probably few…).

I have plenty of “off topic” topics to share with you shortly and will return to posting daily this Thursday right before the big holiday weekend and the start of summer!

Until then, please keep spreading the name of the blog around to others so that I can prove to people (namely advertisers) that what I do have to say IS worth paying for! ūüôā

Tim

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You’re Only as OLD as you Feel

(and today, it’s pretty “old…”)

And I thought yesterday was tough.

In speaking with an old friend at the beach over the weekend, he said, “Shit. Can you believe we were only 30 once?”

I said that I couldn’t, but assured him that indeed, I was once 30 years old.

This morning when I woke up, I felt every one of my 42 years. After a long 4.5 hours of beach time in the sun on Saturday, playing 2’s and 4’s (that’s volleyball for the uninitiated), I biked with friends to brunch and then back to my house. Normally, a shower and a nap would ensue at this point, but it wasn’t happening and so began 36 hours of feeling every bump, bruise and sore muscle in my body as my body readjusted to jumping, diving, blocking and digging a volleyball driven at one’s arms…

They say that you are only as old as you feel. That’s true, as normally I would rate my “maturity level” somewhere between “juvenile delinquent” and “arrested adolescent.” But really, unless you’re in a professional environment with the suit and tie crowd, why act all stodgy and uptight? ¬†And, as I do workout 5 days week, not counting my Sunday beach walks in the sand OR my new return to beach volleyball, I am in pretty OK shape physically. So, I’d say if you had to ask me how I feel on a REGULAR, EVERYDAY basis: I’d feel like I was 38… I don’t know why 38, I just do.

Recently, I was out with some friends and I had wandered away from the conversation as it had nothing to do with me so that I could talk to an obvious 20-something girl that I had espied from across the room. We struck up a conversation and she at some point asked how old I was. (To be fair, I don’t think I LOOK old, but I don’t look like I am in my late 20’s anymore, either). I was only mildly caught off guard by the question, but thought I showed a younger, goofier maturity level when I asked, “I don’t know. How old do I FEEL to you?” Light switches don’t turn off that fast…

This proved to me two points: 1. The girl couldn’t understand a deeply layered joke and 2., Because of #1, she was way too young for me.

For those of us that are in our 40’s, who still remember what a “Princess” phone is, or calling “after 7pm to save on phone rates,” and typing with a “word processor,” we can sometimes feel a wall between those who never had learned how to play video games with a “joystick” with one button and the younger generation that thinks they can all win on “American Idol” because someone didn’t tell them “no” when they were younger.

While physical age and looks will ALWAYS factor into how you interract with someone, whether you are hitting on them, being hit on or just working in a social setting, physicality can be altered to remove your “true age.” ¬†But, cultural references and age experience can’t be unlearned. And, unless you live in an area of arrested adolescence such as the South Bay, you’re prone to slip up and show your age with bygone cultural references.

Why else would I get blank stares from the group of girls I was talking to when I referenced the finer points of “Weird Science” and how, at the time Anthony Michael Hall was way more popular than Robert Downey, Jr. who also had a role in the film. The conversation quickly approached an end as the following took place:

“Who’s Antony Michael Hall?”

AnTHONY¬†Michael Hall.”

“Who’s that?”

“‘Breakfast Club?’ ‘Sixteen Candles?'” I asked, hopefully.

She looked back at me with a blank stare.

“But, you said Robert Downey Jr. is in it?”

“‘Weird Science,’ yes.” I sighed.

Friend: “Omigod. RDJ is SO hot. I can’t wait to see him in ‘Avengers.'”

Original girl: “I know! Right?”

I walked away, feeling old. NOT because I don’t like Robert Downey Jr. But, because no matter how hard I tried, I’d never have that connection with them like I do with people who’ve been through watching “The Breakfast Club” together.

Now, time for me to ice some sore muscles and think about some other things that I can’t talk to anyone under the age of 25 about…

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The People You Can Meet

(if you just pick up your head, stop watching where you are going and look at where you CAN GO…)

I’m a firm believe in greeting everyone you cross paths with a smile and a “Hello.” You may have read about it in an earlier blog post entitled “Hi, I’m talking to you. Yes! You! Look out!”

It’s just polite and displays a common courtesy that the world is NOT all about you, that the sidewalk can hold more than one person, and that you can still socialize face-to-face in this world of texting, FaceBook Messaging and emailing. Besides, you never know who you’ll meet if you keep your head up.

On the days that I don’t go to the gym and don’t play volleyball, let’s call those days Wednesday and Sunday, I make a large cup of coffee, throw it in my travel mug and hit the shore for a walk between the Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach piers. At 6:30/7:00 A.M., it’s mostly early rising tourists, dedicated runners, athletes and the fine men and women of the beach clean up crew, raking the beach free of detritus every morning. Thanks, Guys!

And then there’s two of my “friends” Dave and Molly.

Molly was the first “morning beach friend” that I met when I started to walk on the beach this year. She’s more of a runner and crazy in shape. I would see her run toward, then past me every morning I was out there. Each time, we would share a smile and a “Hello.” One day, I saw her walking instead of running, with a large bandage wrapped around the upper part of her left leg. As we approached each other, a familiar smile appeared and we just stopped to say something to each other. Because I was nearing the spot near where I turn around at¬†the Manhattan Pier, I agreed to walk south¬†with her back the way I came. I asked her what had happened. Certainly, a great first conversation piece.

“I pulled a hammie training for the Marathon.” See, she is a pretty serious runner. Who uses the word “hammie” if they aren’t an athlete. Oh, that’s right, some of my friends… (more to come on THAT topic)

“Bummer. Well, that’s why running is so bad for you.” I said with a smile.

She looked me up and down, smiling, so I quickly added, “This?” I said, doing my best Showcase Showdown dramatic hand gesture, “This is four months of college football. It’ll be gone just like that!” (Almost like “that.” Still working on it!) She laughed and I told her my view on “running’ was that all you really needed was short sprints in order to cover the 450 square feet of playing area on your side of the net when playing volleyball. She asked, “What about playing long rallies?” I said at some point, I just hit it out of bounds. She called me lazy. I accepted in a spirit of detente.

Now, before you get any ideas, Molly is engaged to a very great, sweet (or so she tells me) political consultant in D.C. where she will be moving after they get married later this summer. I never intended to create anything with her when I smiled at her and said hello, I was just being courteous. Besides, other than living in Manhattan Beach, I don’t know that much about her other than she is an Arizona grad.

She’s back to running now, so we do the quick “stop and talk” conversation when we see each other on those days that I hit the beach.

My new “friend” Dave is a former chef and wine buyer, unemployed after taking a year off to travel, and an amateur gemologist. It was this last fact that led me to say hello to him one morning near the beginning of my walk. As I started north, I saw this man, about my age, walking among the rocks that appear at low tide, picking out pieces of something here and there. As I neared him, I said, “Anything interesting this morning?” I know, what fantastic conversational skills at my disposal!

What ensued was a 15-minute tutorial on what he had found that day. He had a few beautiful pieces of moonstone and an intact cool-colored shell for his daughter. He explained what to look for when searching the rocks and broken shells at low tide and how much local jewelers downtown would pay for them. ($250 to $500 for a REALLY good piece of moonstone).  I have since thanked him, usually with a sarcastic laugh because my walks, which used to take about 45 minutes to an hour, now take 1 hour 15 minutes and my pockets are usually full of rocks.

Not all of the rocks are worth something, some are just pretty and make for nice decoration, but I was glad to learn something from someone whom I just said hello to one day at the beach. This morning I smiled and said hello to many more people. Who knows, maybe they’ll turn into friends. Maybe not.

It just goes to show you, you’ll never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn if you just smile and say hello…

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Dressing for “What You Want”

(and what to expect when you do…)

How we dress is important. See the picture below:

Dressed up for Unibomber tryouts, or for finding a "Woman of Means Who's Looking for a Man of Casualness?"

I’d like to tell you that this isn’t my everyday dress code. But, as a “freelancer” and “social critic in my own mind” blogger, my social visibility factor is currently not high enough to warrant dressing in nice slacks and a full button-down shirt. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I know I will be face-to-face with others (i.e. The Bank, The Store, Happy Hour – all places where the “Woman of Means and My Dreams” might show up) on which I will dress appropriately. It’s a quality instilled in me by my mother, who noticed that in my summers off from college, I was devolving into a George Costanza, sweatpants-wearing lazy ass dresser WAY before Jerry Seinfeld was a comedian of any fame. With a roll of the eyes and a voice familiar to any extended member of the Barley clan, she would say to me, “You’re going out dressed like THAT? What if you were to run into the President?”

The funny thing is, to this day I NEVER have run into the President, of anything. But, the idea is sound. The way that we dress IS a big factor in how we are perceived and how we perceive others in society.

I’ll try to list a few clothing options and what they say to society, or at least to me because on THIS page, I am society. ūüôā

Sweats: 

Appropriate for: the gym, staying at home on a rainy day, MAYBE a quick trip for take out.

Not appropriate for: dining out, or a first, second, third, fourth, or fifth date

Sweats come in many categories. If you’re like me, you have your sweat pants and shirts that are for working out or for being lazy INDOORS on a rainy day. You probably also have a hooded sweatshirt or two which you can wear if the beach has gotten chilly and you’re just walking over to your best friend’s house to feast on the new concoction that his wife just whipped up. Then you have your “designer” sweat pants that come with names like “Juicy,” “D&G,” and “Hollister.” Sometimes, they come with the name right on the ass, bedazzled in shiny sequins or faux diamonds. If you’re wearing your designer Juicy sweats to the gym and you get pissed off that I just checked out your ass, you’re more of a bitch than you realize. Crossing ¬†your arms and giving me “a look” only amplifies this personality trait. And if you’re taking the kids out wearing your matching Juicy top and bottoms as if you “dressed up” for the day, then congratulations to your husband. He got exactly the kind of woman he was looking for…

I have NO problem staring at this, but don't get pissed off if I do. AND, it's not dressed up, honey.

If you’re a guy wearing a matching sweat combo, you had BETTER be a fucking¬†rap star. Period.

T-Shirts:

Appropriate for: the gym, general “around the house wear,” the beach, when you’re not trying to impress anyone* (unless the design on it is really, really funny or articulate)

Not appropriate (especially if offensive): meeting the parents, going to a restaurant where the servers are wearing ties.

T-shirts were traditionally white with no sleeves and meant to be worn under other shirts to keep you from sweating into your good shirt, thereby keeping the yellow sweat-stained pits to shirts that could be replaced by your parents every Christmas. But, today t-shirts with logos and phrases are another good option for the gym or just to wear around. I have two drawers of them, sorted anal retentively into lights and darks. They’ve been collected from friends coming back from vacations I couldn’t attend and purchased by me to show my allegiance to the University of Wisconsin. (By the way, this is a GREAT networking tool as Badger fans are EVERYWHERE and always say hello to one another.) T-shirts are a great way to brand yourself, but never, under any circumstances should you wear an Ed Hardy t-shirt. Just fuck off if you do. Seriously, fuck off.

Make your own t-shirt, brand YOURSELF!

Jeans!:

Appropriate for: just about everything, other than  your wedding or a business job interview.

Not appropriate for: unless your Canadian, you’re wedding; a funeral, job interview (unless “creative” is in the title, but match with a sport coat)

Jeans are probably the most popular style of pants in the world, if not the universe. I am sure that there are galaxies of advanced humanoids wearing jeans right now! You can just about wear jeans anywhere and they will be acceptable clothing. Here, it’s not the style of the clothing that’s in question, it’s the condition. If you are wearing jeans that have holes in the buttocks or strategically placed throughout your jeans by the manufacturer, you’re out an out of touch re-tard or you are shooting a retro hair band video. And, yes, I do own a pair of jeans with holes in them, but they resulted from a drunken first date night that 1. I fondly remember and 2. am just too cheap right now to replace them. Besides, they fit really nicely.

Somehow, I am able to overlook the holes...

A few other clothing options before we get to suits:

White Pants¬†– special props to girls who wear white pants. If it wasn’t for the Kevin and Bean show throughout the years, I would have never understood the idea behind white pants… If you wear white pants, you have a special place in my heart and knowledgeable people will be nice to you. If you’re dating me, I’ll love you forever…

Cut off shorts¬†– NnnnO! NnnnO! In-a-pro-pri-ate. Never wear these. As always, there is¬†an exception: ladies, if you’re IN shape and wearing a small two piece suit and at the beach, then by all means, please wear them! ¬†Fellas: guys shouldn’t wear cutoffs at all under any circumstances. There is no appropriate place for a guy to wear cut offs.

Tank tops¬†– I probably have something against tank tops because I have never had the shoulders to wear a tank top. But, that still doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to wear them to restaurants with a foreign language in the restaurant’s name or has no outdoor seating and carpet on the floor…

Now, suits:

Appropriate for: everything.

Inappropriate for: nowhere, just don’t ruin it by going sailing in it or playing sports

Suits, their cool, pot-smoking cousin the sport coat and their super rich, austere Uncle, The Tux, are appropriate for everything. But, logically, ¬†you shouldn’t wear them to places like the beach or the gym as dry cleaning can get expensive. If you wear a suit, then you’re saying something to those that see you. And you’re saying something to yourself: I. Fucking. Rule. When you put on a great fitting and expensive suit, you can just feel a new you from that shorts/hoodie combo you’ve been wearing all day… Or so I’ve heard. My one black suit and lighter colored suits cost about $750 COMBINED. But, you can mix and match the jacket and suit with parts of what we’ve discussed above.

Suit and t-shirt combo = you’re a silicon valley entrepenuer, a rich European wannabe, or a refuge from the set of “Miami Vice.” All I’m saying is be careful here.

Suit jacket and jeans combo = you’re a creative director other type of creative exec and you’re just out for the night with you buddies looking for that woman who wears whit pants but wants to be wearing her Juicy Couture sweats while driving your Range Rover.

Tux jacket and jeans combo = you’re a mid level movie exec in direct competition with “suit jacked and jeans combo guy.”

I highly suggest having fun with your wardrobe. If you are an office drone, I highly suggest wearing your tux to work someday. I’ve done it several times before and had fun telling people that I had an interview as a movie usher that night. If they require you to wear a tie to work, throw on your jacket, shirt and tie, but pair it up with shorts and celebrate Angus Young! Remember, it’s about how you feel!

Now, I’m off to remove the hoodie and shorts. I may have to go outside…

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