For Brittney

Tonight is possible the first Valentine’s Day that I have ever actually looked forward to. I don’t look forward to many things and Valentine’s Day has always been ranked somewhere close to surgery on my To Do list, but tonight’s different for one very key reason.

I’m not looking forward to anything in particular. There is nothing special planned. No grand sweeping events. No string quartets to serenade us. Not even flowers. Just a quiet dinner in a little bar that we’ve been to a hundred times and that won’t be there for the next Valentine’s Day.

Tonight is my third Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend. And that’s the first time in my life that I’ve been able to say that. But what excites me about tonight isn’t that I’ve set some new personal record or unlocked some secret mystery of happy relationships, or even that I’ve managed to make it these first few years without fucking anything up too badly.

Because, on the grand scheme, I’ve probably managed to fuck some things up.

And I’m not even really that excited about tonight, at least not in the specifics. And yes, that sentence does warrant some unpacking given how this post started. You see, tonight could go well. Or it could go terribly. Whatever happens could become a fond memory or a humorous anecdote or a little tragedy. Or, as with most things, tonight will become just a day in a long line of other days.

But today is a day that will happen without fear, an evening that will exist with a certainty that, up until this point, I’ve never quiet known, at least not in a positive fashion.

Perhaps some of that comes from finally sticking out a relationship, from managing to fight past the worst parts of me, the ones that are quick to walk away. But, here, on this third Valentine’s Day, I think I’ve finally been given an ease of understanding, and that is not from time, but from a person.

You see, my girlfriend is a woman of understanding, a woman that allows for my failure without feeling the need to judge. A woman who tolerates my more abrasive aspects while still finding ways to love me in ways I never could manage on my own.

This third Valentine’s Day has given me the knowledge that my partner has removed the need for a net, not because she’ll catch me, but because I do not fear falling. That has opened my world up a bit, turning life’s ups and downs not into highs and lows, but into a collection of events, events that exist always within context and that are greater than their sum.

And that’s why I’m excited about tonight. Tonight, and tomorrow, and the day after, are going to be. There’s no pressure. No reason for fear. Just a desire to keep going if only because. I might be the best at love, but knowing what she can do for me makes me want to do the same for her.

For want of a third party

Yesterday saw one of the most contentious elections that I’ve ever witnessed, when both of the leading candidates were rather despicable human beings. The problem was that this time there was a legitimate third-party alternative with whom I didn’t disagree too much. That being said, voting for that person would have helped my least favorite candidate more than it would have hurt the second-worst.

I wish I could have an election where I could vote for a third party candidate that had a legitimate chance of winning, rather than taking a vote from lesser of the two horrible alternatives. I wish that fear of the worst didn’t force us to vote for the lesser of two evils, less the worst’s base propel said figure into power.

What’s Wrong With Mr. Franzen?

Franzen, in need of Midol

The Franzen OpEd in this weekend’s Guardian, so humbly titled “What’s Wrong With the Modern World” is a glorious example of the difference between a novelist and a journalist. While Franzen might be rightly lauded for his creative writing, his attempts at editorial continue to display a lack of skill required for even collegiate-level journalism.

His latest editorial, the title of which lacks a question mark, thus letting the reader know that Mr. Franzen will be lecturing instead of asking a question, is replete with logical fallacies, overly verbose prose that tends to towards the purple, and an emphasis on nostalgia that could only be called selective at best.

Though this is not the first, this is certainly the worst editorial in Mr. Franzen’s slide towards being a cranky old man. His cherry-picked Kraus quote, which Franzen praises as deliberately hard, stands as case and point as to what’s wrong with Franzen. No, Franzen is not deliberately hard, at least not in his journalism. He is meandering. Franzen drifts from point to point in a manner best described as egotistical beyond care. No, Franzen is not deliberately hard, he is the lazy mixture of snobbishness and a myopic sense of history – a combination the author frequently turns towards ideas and concepts that upset the narrative he’s carefully constructed for his own life.

Whatever the case with Franzen, that he continues to publish such naive articles speaks only to the climate of fear that change still strikes in certain areas. That he is allowed to make such sophomoric pleas on a semi-regular basis can really only mean a few things – that people believe his pleas will make a difference, that people do not believe so, but are willing to let Franzen seem the coward, or that Franzen is merely doing his duty to play as the ship goes down. Whichever may be the case, it’s hard to find the dignity in a 6,500 word slippery slope.

False Positive


It was announced today that James Cameron is making not one, not two, but three sequels to the 2009 blockbuster Avatar. While the movie grossing an obscene amount of money suggests that a sequel was a no-brainer, the focus on building up the mythos seems like a false positive inferred from the data.

Call it a hunch, but given how much the plot was lambasted for being completely derivative seems to suggest people saw the film as a spectacle rather than an epic. It was something to watch rather than a journey to take the audience on.

That and it abused the audience with Papyrus font and named the MacGuffin “Unobtainium.”

I dunno, Mr. Cameron. It seems like instead of spending a billion dollars making 3 spectacles, we could use that money to make to make 500 interesting films.

After posting this, a screed and link to a Labyrinth fan theory, I had a notion. Fan theories and conspiracy theories really aren’t that different. They both

  • assign incredible power to someone who probably doesn’t have it
  • suggest a greater plan at work
  • involve careful restructuring of narrative to meet a predetermined need
  • ignore things that contradict the reconstructed narrative or meta-narrative

I guess the big differences is that fans don’t get angry at the government for not meeting theories. That and fan theories tend to be a whole lot more coherent and fun to read.

See also – Fan Theories subreddit

“Could Not Replicate”

Yesterday I had the rare fortune (misfortune) of being on the otherside of a “Could Not Replicate” situation.

Last week, the shower from our master bathroom started streaming water down through the recessed lights in our kitchen. After a series of frantic phone calls, the general contractor came out, couldn’t spot the leak’s source, but could see the water stains on the lights.

We all agreed, there was definitely a problem.

Subcontractor came out. Couldn’t spot the issue, needed to cut into the ceiling, arranged to come back this week.

Yesterday, we cut open the ceiling in the kitchen where there u-bend from the shower and the water lines were. It was dry as a bone up there, which was expected. And there was no obvious signs of water damage save for a small stain. The sub ran the shower for a solid 10 minutes. Not a drop of water came down.

My shower leak earned the dreaded “Could not replicate.” This is the worst feeling when doing QA on anything. If an error can be replicated, you can test the solution. If you can’t, QA comes down to hopes and hunches.

Hopes and hunches is how my shower was fixed. A few potential leak vectors were sealed and the ceiling hole was left open to allow us to spot leaks. I freaking hate “Could Not Replicate” situations.

But at least the shower seems to work now.

Attended RVA Startup Weekend this past weekend. I basically paid $75 to work my ass off for 2.5 days. Met some awesome people. Put in something like 35 hours of work, but with the help of four others, we built an awesome prototype that looks like it could be a damn useful business.

Oh, and we won 2nd Place.


©2014 Bradley Robb Some Right Reserved