This Week on teh Interwebs


What I have learned about the menz

Well last night’s post didn’t go as planned due to staying later at work than intended, rushing to french class etc…so here is one today with another one in the evening.

The past few years I have learned a lot about people and how nasty they can be. It is strange to me how someone can function in society apparently normally, but below the surface be royally screwed up.  Although I play my cat lady schtick, I’ve learned a lot about men in the past few years. Here are some bullet points:

1. If someone cannot have a normal conversation with you about a casual topic, they may not be that into you.  Beyond formal niceties like the weather, and logistics info like house cleaning or bill paying, if the person cannot -and doesn’t want to- just shoot the shit with you for a half hour or so, it is because they have nothing to say to you.  Likely because they are saving that kind of conversation for someone else. Be wary of people who do not ENJOY talking to you about anything and everything- it is because they ENJOY talking to someone else.  Bad moods and silence are huge red flags.

2. Which leads me to my next point: we only have a limited amount of emotional capital. With work and hobbies and friends, you only have so much left at the end of the day to give to your partner. If you are giving this to someone other than the person you should be giving this capital to, it shows. Relationships only thrive when you invest in them, and if you invest in a relationship with someone outside your main relationship, then your main relationship will wither. No surprise then, that affairs tend to be strong emotional connections- because you are investing the only capital you have  in your affair rather than your “relationship.”  So if you want a good relationship, don’t cheat.  You can’t handle it. In other words, you don’t cheat because you have a bad relationship, your relationship is bad because you cheat or are open to cheating. Fix your relationship rather than running away to someone who flatters your ego.

3. Just because someone is right for you on paper doesn’t mean they are “right for you.” When you are with the right person, you know it. It feels right. Fighting, power struggles and drama do not happen weekly or monthly in normal relationships, they happen rarely.  If you keep wondering why you don’t get a second date, or stressing on why dude isn’t calling back, it is because it isn’t the right place or time or person and someone better is out there. The right guy, regardless of his “stats”, is not going to have problems with your hair, or the way you hold silverware, or getting an SMS from you. The chase gets very old, and if you feel like you are chasing someone, it is time to stop- they might not be that into you.

4. What has love got to do with anything? I don’t believe in soul mates any more.  What I do believe in are responsible, mature adults who choose to own up to their relationships, nurture these relationships, and put effort into making them work with phone calls, date nights, and shared activities.  I know what it is like to think I love someone who frankly isn’t treating me respectfully, and what I realized when I walked away is that love is a choice. I can choose to be in pain because I “love” someone, or I can choose to put the few positive feelings I have on the back burner and find someone who does not cause me pain or see me as a backup plan.  If someone doesn’t like you (as shown by the points above), they can’t love you.

5. You are ok just the way you are. Everyone flips out early in relationships about looking good and doing and saying the right things, but if every day is a new criticism about your clothes, your weight, how you choose to spend your time, your opinions, then you aren’t with the right person and both of you need to be free to find people with whom you are more compatible.  So-called love isn’t worth changing fundamental parts of who you are, and someone who wants you to change to fit their vision doesn’t love you, they love themselves.

6. It is ABSOLUTELY OK TO BE SINGLE.  I feel like in our societies the single, and especially those without children (another topic for another post) get looked down on like something is fundamentally wrong with them as people. This is unfair. There are a lot of reasons for staying single. Some people stay single a long time to heal after an abusive relationship; some people stay single because they want to; some are just single because, and that is ok.  I can tell you that being alone is way better than being in a shitty relationship.



Computer literacy

One office where I worked had a strict policy regarding computer literacy.  It was a law firm and it went a little like this: support staff (accountants, secretaries, paralegals) were given a basic computer literacy test during the hire process. If they failed the test, they weren’t hired. If they did poorly on the test, it made the difference in shortlist time. Lawyers, who are often hired for network/money reasons, were given the same test on their first day, and either given new training or extra support staff (if big money was involved) if their skills weren’t up to snuff.  The sad thing is that the test was nothing special: opening, using (including typing test for secretaries) Microsoft Word, doing a basic presentation using a template in Power Point, a couple basic calculations in Excel (like what you would do for an expense report), an overview of the company’s legal document database (in dev version for interviewees).   And yet, it was unbelievable how many young secretaries (either digital natives or digital immigrants of my generation) failed the test. Seriously, these days how do people get through college without using Word and having a minimal proficiency?

The strange thing is, now that I work in IT, I find the most savvy software users in my admittedly limited sample are not necessarily the under-25s but, strangely enough, people of my parents’ generation, who are 55+. I have quantitatively had the most problems with people on the high end of Generation X, the ones who were on the tail end of having to use a computer in college. Meanwhile 65 year old dudes who used to have to use abaci and slide rulers are downloading stuff from torrents. But that, as usual, is another story for another post.  What continues to blow my mind is how anyone who wants to have any kind of an office job today thinks they can get away with not having basic skills in Microsoft programs (which are still the industry standard, sorry) and, most importantly, not want to learn these skills.  I think having a certain ease with word processing programs, for example, means you can write something yourself rather than dictate it to a secretary and proof her work (lawyers excepted for longer documents). I also find it absolutely criminal that a career secretary (not someone who came in from another profession like retail) need to be taught several years out how to do a mail merge. That for me is something you learn at your first job. Some people say that if you hire a CFO then he is hired to crunch numbers, not use a computer, but if a CFO can’t use SAP or Excel and, more importantly, doesn’t want to learn, I think that says a lot about that person’s initiative, drive and professionalism. Computer literacy is professional development on the same level, for me, as staying current with industry trends. I don’t understand people who refuse to learn.


Requisite election day musings

I’m happy to have had a busy day in Amsterdam so far…work has slowed down but I have some French homework to do before my plane. The more I think about this election, the more sad I am. The election being over won’t change anything because people have gotten so nasty. I’m grateful to live in Switzerland and to have travelled enough in my youth to know that there are different and better ways to live than some of the shtick Mittens tried to sell us during the election in the US (note to naysayers: why yes, I will stay in Switzerland since it is so awesome, you can stay in your third world America, not my problem).  An Obama win doesn’t make me happy either, with all the drones and monitoring and all that.  Either way, the United States is a broken, messed up place, and the election outcome isn’t going to change that regardless of who wins. As I have said before, the only thing that scares me about a Romney win is that women will lose most of the rights our mothers and grandmothers fought for, as Mitt Romney and especially Paul Ryan simply hate women unless they are pregnant white married Donna Reed types. You say now “oh it is just abortion” but it isn’t- the War on Women is only just beginning. I don’t think Roe v Wade would survive a Romney presidency’s Supreme Court justice picks. And if Obama wins he is only pushing off the inevitable for a few years until teabaggers have full (instead of the current partial) control over national policy. But in other matters of policy the two mainstream candidates are essentially the same in my book.


I have a lot of work to do tomorrow at my first day back in the “real” office in a week and I am afraid I will wind up staying up tonight (last time the results were called around 4am), or not being able to sleep even though it really doesn’t matter who wins.  I guess I care because this is the last election that “means something” to me. Why? In 2016, I don’t even have to be American any more if I don’t want to. News flash: I DON’T, the tax burden is too high as I get older and no one elected anywhere wants to change our tax code meant to stick it to the middle class and until the United States stops being one of only three countries in the world- effing Eritrea and North Korea being the other two- who tax its expatriates, having an American passport will only bring me trouble when I retire because I can’t afford the accountants rich ppl like Mitt Romney have. People ask me why I don’t like being American? Well we fight wars I don’t want to fight, take rights away from women, forget about our old people, and tax expatriates. I don’t understand all the people I know who are proud of their countries. I don’t know what to be proud of. I had a professor in college from Benin, and he was like “yes but you had public services (like schooling) growing up I didn’t have etc” (I’m summarizing) but what he didn’t realize is that the American dream doesn’t exist any more and people are pretending that is does. I come from a middle class family and it took a lot of people hustling during the relatively prosperous 90s to get me through college, and what was spent on me meant less money for my cousins to go. I am the only one in my extended family with no school debt and I was one of the first of my cousins to actually complete a degree because of all the people helping me out. And I still worked 3 jobs. And. So if it was that hard for me, how hard is it now, in the recession, for someone from the lower classes to rise up? Practically impossible. Yet another thing this election won’t change: at the end of the day, our ruling classes, Democrats and Republicans combined, are all about keeping people in their caste, poor people staying poor, middle class people always struggling to stay there, and the rich getting richer off of everyone else’s backs. I’ve said it since college, it is all about the class struggle. Pick a social issue and I can bring it back to the class struggle.


I’m calling it for posterity: I think Obama would win a free, fair election but we don’t have those in America any more (see Bush v Gore), so I’m calling it for Romney, who will take Ohio and Florida due to voter fraud, vote tampering and other forms of disenfranchisement.   My intuition tells me there will be some court challenges- I don’t think this election is over tonight.


I hate smokers under bus shelters

If there is one thing that makes me go absolutely screaming crazy cat lady, it is smokers under bus shelters in the damn rain.

The sad part here is that I am one of the few people I know who is pro-cigarette. I used to work for a tobacco company and worked for the lead counsel of another tobacco company. I am all about “responsible use” and think that if you haven’t figured out cigarettes cause a myriad of health problems, it isn’t up to the tobacco companies to clue you in. I have no moral problem with cigarettes despite having all four grandparents die from smoking-related health issues. I think some of the restrictive marketing legislation against cigarettes should also be provided to alcohol but hey. Another topic for another post.

But the one group of jackasses making my pro-cigarette convictions wane quickly.  The jackasses who smoke under bus shelters in the rain.  Why does it make me go Eleanor Abernathy on people like I just did to one woman?

Because it is a selfish dick move. When you smoke at the bus shelter  in the rain you ensure that people like me can neither sit down nor stand anywhere but IN THE EFFING RAIN to get away from the cold cigarette stench and associated breathing problems. Because yes, I have to use an inhaler if I am around cigarettes too long. Because yes, you may enjoy smelling like a cold ashtray but I don’t.  Because I have no choice but to breathe your air.

Evidently the smoking initiative that just failed in Switzerland would have curbed cigarette use in places like this.  What I don’t understand is that I grew up in a family of smokers. My dad smokes a pack a day. Doesn’t smell like an ashtray, in fact, he actually smells darn good. Why? Because he smokes outside in a ventilated place.  And in my experience it seems that the assholes who smoke under bus shelters are also those who smoke inside, have stinky clothes, and wind up sitting next to you on a crowded bus, forcing you to breathe the residual smoke. How people kiss people like that is also another topic for another post, but seriously y’all? Why force people to breathe smoke? Why is this something that has to be spelled out to some people?