Saturday, March 31, 2007

MySpace gives me flashbacks

Why do I feel physically drained after spending the last two hours roaming through MySpace? It's not my first rodeo; I visited the social networking site about three years ago when I heard about how popular it was becoming. I expected something amazing, something I couldn't live without... and I was seriously let down. I went back today while doing research for a media/advertising class, holding out some serious hope that MySpace had a miraculous transformation.

Oh, the pain. As it did years ago, MySpace reminds me of a gaudy, hellish trainwreck of early 1990's websites. That's right, you remember back in the days when "good design" meant:
  • A massive background image that made the overlying text impossible to read.
  • Text outfitted in neon green to battle against the background image.
  • Neon green font resembles medieval handwriting, size has been set to "Infinitely Tiny," and for good measure, font styles "Bold" and "Italic" added.
  • A MIDI that immediately launches "Wind Beneath My Wings" at a volume that violates OSHA standards, with no clear way to turn it off
  • Dozens of adorable .gifs, preferably of cartoon animals holding flowers
  • Lots of blinking, flashing, shining, and rotating things, as if the page was designed by a crow
  • Page layout so whack it requires horizontal scrolling
Seeing (and hearing) one MySpace page like this was enough to give me a headache. It was all I could do not to grab the phone, call my senator, and demand legislation to protect me from such vulgar displays of bad design. What I found even worse was the fact that corporations also have their own MySpace pages (sometimes multiple pages) and despite having oodles of money to pour into a decent design, their pages were no better than the rest of the rabble. Adult Swim's MySpace page (well, one of them) was full of comments from visitors that were 90% advertisements for things like credit cards, cell phone plans, and penis enlargement pills. No stylish layout, no cool images, not even any apparent marketing for Adult Swim shows -- just a bunch of garbage.

Which leads me to this final question: WHY? What the hell is the big deal? Sure, I get that you can make your own personal space and post cursory shout-outs on friends' pages, but let's look at the bigger picture here. What the hell is the point? And why does anyone else really care? Sure, I found a truckload of pit bull groups on MySpace (more groups for pit bulls than any other type or breed, in fact)... but I've found larger, more organized, more mature, thoughtful, socially beneficial, carefully monitored pit bull discussion groups outside of that chaotic hellhole. When it comes to pit bulls, weeding out the crap is extremely difficult in the first place; a trip to MySpace only makes that crap much, much more prolific, much more ingrained, and much more difficult to sort out.

Conclusion: MySpace sucks. You wanna make friends? Get a hobby and join a local club. Do some volunteer work. Go out with workmates. If you're going to seek friendship on the Internet, please, for the love of all that is holy, learn a little bit about good webpage design! I'm talkin' to you too, corporate America.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Current Obsessions

For no particular reason, here are the things I'm completely obsessed with recently:

1. The smell of fresh garlic. Not the taste. Just the smell.
2. Mahjong Titans. So what if it's on my husband's fancy new computer? He'll never know I've been using his machine... unless he checks the high score list.
3. The song "Sweet Escape." Not obsessed in a good way - it's been stuck in my head for three days and I'm starting to lose my mind. Curse you, Stefani.
4. Japanese. Lately I've literally been craving the sound of this language the way people crave chocolate. Listening to J-pop helps obsession #4, but it only makes #3 worse. If you've ever listened to J-pop, you should know exactly what I mean.

Things I thought I would be obsessed about but I'm not:

1. Windows Vista. Pretty screensavers, pain-in-the-ass security. My husband can have it; I'll wait.
2. Tenacious D Movie. Haven't seen it yet and don't really feel the need to. I'm either less of a fan or more of a cheapskate than I thought.
3. Veronica Mars. A friend of mine insists I'd love the show. She even has a pit bull for a pal. But the name of this show turns me off. I keep thinking "Kim Possible." Blargh.
4. My new treadmill. Seemed like a convenient way to exercise, but it's pretty boring facing the wall for 30 minutes a day. I wonder if my husband would agree to wall-mount my computer in front of the 'mill?

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Really Great Day for No Particular Reason

I think it's bizarre that some days seem to go really, really well - even when it's not a holiday, no one's having a party, and I didn't win the lottery. No, nothing particularly fantastic happened today, but it was still a really nice day.

Today Byrd came home from work early (OMG), we put front porch lights up (OMG), the weather was gorgeous, and I got to see our resident bat swoop around in the evening twilight as we finished up the lights. You're thinking, eh, so what? Consider the following: Byrd worked 100 hours last week. I teased him that the dogs barely recognize him anymore, but truthfully, when he's working that much I feel like I've married a ghost. And we haven't had front porch lights since we built the front porch - almost two years ago. And bats are really really cute and they eat lots of mosquitos, which makes me a HUGE fan of bats, and especially excited that a bat has decided to live in a little decoration on the front of our house. I hope he brings a few friends!

The icing on the cake, though, was that Byrd and I spent almost 8 hours together, made several very important decisions involving money, the house, and his computer, worked on a household project... and despite the fact that home projects and monetary decisions are two things we tend to get into fierce debates ("fights") about, we did not even bicker the tiniest bit today. Not even a raised voice or an irritated tone.

Byrd bought me a plant to kill (because there's no garden to plant it in yet, but I really wanted it anyway) while we were at Lowe's looking at porch lights, and he smiled cheerfully while I pretended to hammer invisible nails into the porch siding (I need the practice). My nickname for Byrd is Mr. No Man, because sometimes it seems like everything out of his mouth is a variation on the word "NO." Tonight was a total change, however. Tonight he was Mr. Yes Man.

In exchange, I gave Byrd the encouragement and justification to order a brand-new computer from Dell. I do admit this was at least partly for selfish reasons... I'm sick and tired of troubleshooting the homemade computer he currently uses. Byrd was thoroughly pleased, though, because his nickname for me is The Tightwad - I hate spending lots of money on things that I don't think are necessary... and Byrd likes to buy some really unnecessary things. But tonight I even let him upgrade his new computer with the more expensive video card and extra memory. At first I was struck by intense fear that Byrd would go bananas when he realized I wasn't going to try to "reason" with him (control him), but he actually exercised extensive self-control during the customization part of the purchase, passed on several upgrades, and even downgraded a few things to reduce the total cost.

After much thought, I've come to the realization that I'm probably too controlling when it comes to spending money. I read somewhere that money matters are the #1 thing that married couples fight about, and we're no exception. I've got to loosen up a little. Byrd and I will probably always have different spending priorities and we just need to learn how to compromise with less fuss and more trust. I know, easier said than done... but at least today we took a solid step forward toward a more harmonious marriage. Maybe that's why today was such a good day!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sick as a... Dog?

Today I was sick as a dog. (Isn't that an odd saying? I wonder how it came about.) It's terrible to be sick on a weekend, especially when you've got a to-do list as long as your arm, though I admit I wasn't planning to do anything on the list anyway. But there's a difference between being forced to procrastinate and choosing to do the same. I hate to be forced into anything.

And I hate feeling sick. I think the dogs knew (perhaps the fact that I spent the entire day in bed clued them in). They were very quiet all day, and Dozer even refrained from his typical attention demands, which usually involve lots of whining and, when silent, an adorable pouty gaze that he knows I can't resist. Whenever he gives me that look, I have to pat his big white head and kiss his little furry cheek no matter what I'm right smack in the middle of.

Today, as I sat in bed typing on my laptop or flipping through TV channels, I would sometimes look up to see the D peering at me quietly over the foot of the bed. When it became apparent that I could not reach him all the way down there at the foot, he moved up to sit beside the bed, and rested his head on the mattress next to my hip with a little sigh. Then I could lean over and hug and kiss him to my (and his) heart's content. He was so sweet and so concerned (and clearly bored to tears, poor fellow). I guess you could say that Dozer is my "therapy" dog!