Intolerable Vices

So The Daily Post is asking it’s subscribers to comment upon which vices they simply cannot abide. Being a man who indulges his vices excessively (so much so that I’ve begun locking up certain cites), I’m not in much of a position to comment upon how other people handle their’s. For the sake of an interesting post though, I can name a few.

First and foremost: Bitching about a website or it’s users on the damn website.

You get this a lot on reddit, imgur, and facebook. And basically anywhere on the net I guess. Long term users will inevitably dislike some varying trend or paradigm shift and feel as though their ethos from being a long term user should grant them sometype of authorityor control over other people’s experiences.

But it doesn’t. So they bitch and moan. A lot. In wholly nonconstructive ways. But the thing is, they never leave. No one is forcing you to stay on the damn site, no one is forcing you to click content you don’t want to, and most of these places are actually (to a degree) democratic and give you just as much of a vote as everyone else.

Secondly: Blasting the music your personal playing so loud that it can be heard feet away.

I am attached at the ears to my big comfy headphones. I basically just wrote a whole damn post on the matter. And what I am listening to I’m usually listening to loudly enough that I don’t hear much of what’s going on around me. That being said, I could take my headphones off, lay them speaker up on my table, and I still wouldn’t be subjecting the girl on the next couch over to Mogwai’s squealy guitar and shrieking feedback.

Because that would be rude.

Basically, whatever you choose to listen to is what you choose to listen to. And if you are striving to achieve early deafness, well that’s your prerogative. The two combined in public, whether through a set of headphones or a ridiculously over priced car stereo or what have you, is inconsiderate to pretty much everyone you pass you might be trying to listen to peace and quiet.

Thirdly and finally: Disregarding the rules of the running track.

I know, I know, the net is already full of dudes who bitch and moan about gym edicute and most of them are huge assholes. But seriously, there’s like 2 rules on the running track and they hang them on banners from the ceiling. It’s impossible to stay ignorant of them for more than a lap or two.

1. Slower people to the inside, faster folks outside.

2. Clockwise odd days, counter-clockwise on even days.

It’s a simple set of rules, but somehow there is always someone walking the wrong way on the outside when I try to do a sprinting workout. Isn’t this a small/petty thing that isn’t really worth getting upset about?? Yes, but I kinda figured the petty things was what this daily prompt was all about. If you want to hear about the more complicated issues I have problems with, I’m happy to oblige you.

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The Black Helicopters are Coming for Me

“Who is this sickly pale kid wandering about laughing intermittently and why did he cringe when those helicopters flew over??”

There is at least one person who wondered this at some point today about me. First things first: I am, in fact, sick as a dog right now. I won’t go into it for all y’alls sakes because illness is never pleasant. I did make the slog to classes today and on  the bright side my Spanish professor gave me full participation for showing up and attempting to focus on trying to speak a language I don’t know.

Secondly, I have just discovered the arcane wonder that is Welcome to Night Vale. It’s a twice monthly community update from a small desert town, the eponymous Night Vale. The radio show covers all the strange occurrence of the town, such as the construction of a forbidden dog park, the escape of wild pterodactyls through a rift in space time during a PTA meeting, and the cancellation of Wednesday due to scheduling errors, with an astoundingly casual nonchalance. It also includes, once per show, the weather (only better because instead of mundane meteorological happenings they play independently produced music)

NightVale

Am I late to the party on this whole “podcast” thing?? Of course I am, I’m late to every party that isn’t all about YA novels or webcomics. Admittedly those are two pretty nifty things to be on the cutting edge of, but my limited scope of active pop-culture means that I miss things. If you ever want me to make a reading list for you, all you have to do is ask, but much else is beyond my reach.

So yeah, I’m just figuring out how cool podcasts are. You can only listen to the same audiobooks so many times in a row before you start to read ahead and wish you could skip up. Now I have something new to listen to on my walkings to and from classes and there’s an unfathomably large backlog of these things that I’ve missed in my ignorance of podcasting, so it’s unlikely that I’ll be bored while commuting any time soon.

podcast

Things I’ve got on various playlists: Welcome to Night Vale, TED Talks, and This American Life. I’m always looking for more things to listen to, so if you have any suggestions I’m all ears.

Was that a pun??

I am ashamed of myself.

P.S. Jeffrey, what the hell is up with that title??

Oh, I should clarify! The second joke of the whole damn podcast is about black helicopters monitoring areas. Only moments after, two black helicopters flew over the student center as I was walking by. So either the World Government or the New Gods are after me and this may be the last you hear from me, Pigeon Platoon. Farewell and carry on doing whatever it is you do.

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Bad Habits Die Hard

It has been awhile since I’ve been on the blogosphere, hasn’t it?? So here I am, exactly 1 month later, ready to make a bunch of excuses about why I haven’t been updating my blogs.

Bluhhh…

As the title would suggest, I have fallen back into some of my worse habits in regards to wasting time on the computer. I’ve gone back to my addictions to sites with absolutely no productivity beyond accumulating fake internet points or zoning out in bed. There’s a perfectly good (actually pretty fantastic) book sitting on my bedside stack that I have repeatedly shunned because watching tv shows over again is worlds easier than pleasure reading. My writing is constantly edged by a desire to check my fake internet points total. I’ve even gone so far as to dismiss some of the outrageously unjust things on the net without a rant because hitting next is easier than actually using my critical thinking skills.

I’m looking at you, Facebook…

Facebook

It’s funny, because I’ll be blog spamming on you shortly….

And you, imgur…

imgur logo

And especially you Netflix…

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While Facebook has it’s uses in keeping things organized and talking to people whose number/email I lack, those other two are doing very little to improve my life. I’d say, school work aside, these three take up 80% (conservative estimate) of my time on the net. The other time is devoted mostly to the webcomics I like but those I refuse to give up on considering, by nature, they manage themselves.

To the ends of trying to help myself with the issue I seem to have with these site, I’ve started futzing with productivity apps. I know, I know, the way I put that makes it sound like I’m wasting time finding the best option instead of writing/reading but I’ve already found a standard called StayFocused that seems to work really well. You set yourself a budget of time for your blocked sites and it counts down till block time, whence it sends you this very polite reminder:

Screenshot 2014-02-17 at 6.36.10 PM

(Not pictured: the donation plea and paypal button)

Annnnnnnnnnd in getting that screenshot I’ve officially blocked myself from a myriad of procrastinatory sites till reset at midnight. The app is set up so you can’t shut it off for the same day but there is a back door, the key to which is a passage of type that you have to transcribe verbatim. What I would like to maybe see is a productivity app that can set budgets for particular sites but that might also be the little yellow procrastination demon bargaining for more goodies than it should really get.

One of the really nice things about StayFocused is that you can set certain times as unrestricted browsing times. So say I (somehow magically) got a date and wanted to watch a movie on a Saturday night, well then I could configure the thing to let me watch netflix on Saturday nights. Pretty nifty, right??

Wow, this started out as a “Shame on me” type journal entry and turned into an ad for that application. Crazy how these things turn out, right??

Well anyway, I know this is treating a symptom and not the problem but I’m hoping it’s a step in the right direction at the very least. It’ll force me to do something else between classes, like reading or writing but hopefully not more napping, and make decisions about how to use the precious minutes my computer allows me. At the very least, the voice of reason in the back of my head (who is still Alan Rickman) approves.

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Contributing to the Conversation

Jeffrey Koch, UpperMiddle Class,White, Cis-Gender, Straight Male, Epitome of the Patriarchy, and so much more.

I swear this kind of introduction isn’t going to become a regular thing, but I’m about to make that relevant. I am in a Film and Lit Theory class this semester that will be dealing with many issues pertaining to the power systems in place in our society that fuel white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. It is understandable that one who is able to introduce themselves as I just have may be nervous about sharing in a class such as this.

Right??

Bell-HooksWell that’s where our first lesson/film clip came in. On the first non-syllabus centric day of class we watched a video segment in which bell hooks (sic) discussed the importance of education, critical thinking, and above all else literacy as the engine of societal progression. All of these themes are important to the class, but it wasn’t the reason our professor showed us the video, or at least it isn’t why I think she showed it to us, anyway.

Really, the class could’ve started out with any number of different movies that had the exact same core message but the professor chose bell hooks Cultural Criticism and Transformation because underneath the messages extolling the virtues of education as a way to begin to dissemble the negative power structures was another message that was absolutely ESSENTIAL to the beginning of the class.

You can contribute to the conversation.

bell hooks is a famous and influential expert on issues of race and feminism, but in her lecture she makes it clear that she believes that everyone should be allowed to contribute to these conversations, but you have to have four things first: Critical thinking skills, literacy and the willingness to use it to get informed, the understanding that no one part of anyone’s identity ever stands alone, and a willingness to speak about the world with as much objectivity as any person can manage.

With those four traits, anyone, no matter their position in the power structures, should be allowed to contribute to a controversial conversation and be considered with the same critical thinking skills they had to use to formulate their contribution. Being the person I am, it’s incredibly relieving to hear that this is one of the core tenants of this class. So long as you are informed and willing to be more so, you’re welcome to weigh in.

This is exactly what my mother raised me to believe and it is a sentiment that gets drowned out too often among the wide and varied world of the internet. And it happens to everyone, so don’t think I’m pointing a specific finger at specific folks. We’re all scared of being denied our right to contribute, but I really don’t think I have to be in this class.

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I am a Man

I own two separate 3 piece suits, can tie a tie three different ways, and gag when I see a pre-tied bow tie. I can use a myriad of power tools, enjoy hefting weighty things, and swear like a sailor the whole time. I drink my coffee black have actual opinions on the various whiskey producers of the world. I have read the literary works of some of the most far famed paragons of masculinity repeatedly.

All of these are stereotypes of masculinity that I embody wholly and unabashedly.

WowThisSucks

 

Then I see posts like this on the net followed by comments of all kinds of unsavory natures. Missing the good ol’ days when you could smoke like a man and not be judged. Dudes who probably don’t have the slightest clue about Sean Connery pretending he’s their patron saint. And of course, what kind of chauvinistic circle jerk would be complete without the folks who blame feminism for the faults of the patriarchy??

I went on and on about my manliness, but things like this still make me feel really poorly about the fact that I don’t strive to embody the “Man”.

Why do I do all those things I listed above?? Because I like them. Want to know what else I like?? I like lovey poetry, the sappier the better. I like shopping for clothes and actually trying them on instead of just eyeballing the size. I love the scent of flowers and the fact that my shampoo smells like them. Very few things feel better than having freshly shaved legs. Talking about feelings for hours is the highlight of every Sunday at school (Shout out to the F-Worders) and it feels really good to cry sometimes. I have worn skirts, I now own some skirts, they are comfortable as all hell, and come springtime anyone who wants to put me down for wearing one can fight me.

herbal-essences-coupon

Smells 10x better than most FOR MEN soaps…

The big question here: does any of this make me less manly?? No. Not at all. Yet I feel the need to posture and defend myself, like saying “fight me” earlier or like starting my post with a laundry list of traits that I feel look good with my Y chromosome. No, the thing emasculating me right now is my feelings of shame about this half of my identity that I’ve been unwilling to embrace.

All of this has nothing to do with any kind of gender identity issues or dysphoria, I have no questions about my own sexuality, none of that type of thing. My real issue here is the construction of masculinity and how it affects me. To that end, I’m making a New Year’s Resolution. Not going to speak in absolutes or anything (only a Sith deals in absolutes), but I’m going to work on not letting preconceived notions of masculinity force me to bury parts of me that don’t fit that.

If this causes fewer folks to make kissy faces with me (which is one of the only reasons I think more guys don’t wear skirts) then so be it, their loss. Currently, I’m getting in the game for me. This is for my self esteem and truthfully no one else’s business despite the fact that I’m posting it online.

Happy-New-Year

It’s gunna be good.

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Crazy, Nutjob, Psychotic

These are a few of the terms used to describe Thamsanqa Jantjie in the comments of various articles covering his recent controversy. Namely, he spent the entirety of Nelson Mandela’s memorial service performing false sign language. He came out and said that he was in the midst of delusional schizophrenic episode. Determining the truth or falsification of these claims is the subject of much debate. Yes he has a history of episodes, but there are mitigating factors that are causing hellish debate.

Thamsanqa-Jantjie-mandelaThe thing is, people immediately began to throw around slur-laden, sanist rhetoric including the words in the title and other marginalizing labels that lower the quality and validity of honest discussion. Rational people who would normally pay no mind to issues of mental health are picking up arms and persecuting the mentally unhealthy behind the shroud of anonymousness that is the internet, putting down those they don’t fully understand.

And are they doing any research about mental health?? No, they’re just jumping on a bandwagon and attacking the easiest and most readily accepted target.

Then there are the racists. Oh the racists, angrily insulting the mentally unhealthy and the African population in tandem. Taking advantage of the situation to insult two marginalized groups at the same time. Not only that, they’re tying the two together and forging doubly strong negative stereotypes.

But the ones that hurt me the most are the one’s who aren’t using slurs, but are now treating those suffering from mental disability as less than people. People are suggesting that someone with a mental disability should never have been allowed that close to the president. There are those postulating that he could’ve snapped at any moment and attacked the president… Like an animal. I even saw someone suggest the reintroduction of widespread long-term institutionalization.

jds_psy_helsingor-psychiatric-hospital_03_photo-by-vegar-moen

As fancy as it may look, locking and isolating up the mentally ill is not okay.

This is slippery, sharp rhetoric. Yes I’ve seen this kind of thing on the net before. I’ve heard it in person. It’s been said To. My. Face. But this is an international incident, a well publicized and visible incident. I can’t even begin to imagine the real world effects this will have on the stigma against the mentally ill. I got my last job despite making my employer aware of my disorder, but can I count on that being possible in the future?? Do I have to go back into hiding??

However, I take solace from the “normal” people who are so vehemently defending against the attacks, my peers with disorders joining together to help support each other, and the psychology professionals who are putting themselves out there and presenting FACTS. It’s these people who make me feel safe in admitting that I have a disorder. It’s because none of them are willing to give up that I have hope that things can get better and the stigma can continue to fall.

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Oh the Priorities

What 5 things would you choose to have if you were stranded on a desert island?? It’s a question as old as desert islands are and the subject of much chagrin amongst cynics. I’m taking on this question under the assumption that these five items are luxuries and the essentials for survival are all available in one form or another around the island. Here it goes: My Desert Island Inventory!

1. The Hardcover Box Set of The Harry Potter Series

The one that comes in the cardboard trunk. No, it’s not cheating this is one item that just so happens to have seven parts. It’s a long series that’s one of my favorites with a whole hell of a lot of rereading and nostalgia potential. Would I get sick of them eventually?? Maybe, but until then I’d have hours and hours entertainment. There are loads of other books I’d want, but these are the priority.

2. Paper and Pens

A shitload of them. I could never be stranded anywhere without a way to write and keep it together. Who knows, all the handwriting might improve my penmanship to the point where normal folks would be able to read it when a ship eventually finds my little haven.

3. A Spice Rack

As I said above, I’m assuming this island has what I need to survive including a way to get simple, sustainable, survival food. Shepherd Book from Firefly put it best: “The important thing is the spices. A man can live on packaged food from here ’til Judgment Day if he’s got enough rosemary.” Now I’m not expecting the island to be stocked with packaged food, but if I’m going to make bunny stew I’m going to season it right dammit!

4. Shoes

Not a thing essential for survival, so therefore the island would probably lack them, but they’re important enough that I wouldn’t want to be caught without them. They’d make moving through the forest at least a little bit safer. At the very least I wouldn’t slice my foot up on a bad ridge of stone or something.

5. My Medication

Yeah, I’m taking a bit of a liberty with this one. I’d have a supply of Lamictal large enough to sustain me for an indefinite amount of time. Why?? Because no matter where or when I am, I still have Bipolar Disorder. It’s a part of my life and identity and it’s something that NEEDS some form of management.

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