Saturday, April 27, 2019

Personal Digest Saturday: April 20 – April 26

Life news this week:
  • Saturday was cool! The tree guys came and helped my tree, and then I had my friend Steve over again for more cartoons and a giant Together Breakfast! (That's waffles with popcorn and whipped cream, for those at home keeping score.) We watched from episode 13 to episode 26, and also got to get some good chatting in. Then after he went to work, my sister Lindsay visited me for a little bit of sister time (and coffee). So nice to see that gal. After she left I did my blogging and playing with cartoon posts on Amino.
  • Sunday I spent at the table--no more falling wood--and I managed to buy a new computer because it had gone on sale again! I ate too much, did laundry and karaoke, made a new video, and did a new song cover.
  • Monday it was back to work. Got out three letters and worked on some proposals NOT for the Department. I had to work late to finalize some stuff in a proposal package that was due the next day (I prefer working late to coming in early; too much can go wrong). Chatted with my mom on the phone after I went home.
  • Tuesday I sent in our proposal package on time and got buried in more proposals and updating records. When I came home, Camp Pining Play had come out--it's a new Steven Universe graphic novel--so I didn't do much but read it and post stuff about it on the Internet.
  • Wednesday I got up early for the next individual issue of the Steven Universe ongoing comic, read and blogged that, and went back to sleep. Then went to work and did more proposal stuff and a marketing class before going out with Jeaux. We picked up comics, ate at Taco Bus, and shopped at Winn-Dixie. We saw What We Do in the Shadows and some of the next season of The Tick. So good! Fell asleep right after he left.
  • Thursday was more proposal planning and donut eating. I responded to mail and wrote a storyboard. In the evening I worked on processing the video I made over the weekend so I could post it, and finished my webcomic drawings. Posted it in the wee hours so I wouldn't have to worry about it the next day.
  • Friday work was a little more intense work on proposals and prep for letters going out next week and the following week. Went home and got my video to go live, hung out with Victor, ate pizza and apple pie, and watched some TV shows and YouTube spots. He's weird. Haha.
New reviews of my book:

Reading progress:
    New singing performances:

    This week's karaoke song is "Calling All the People" by 4 Non Blondes.


    Stuff Drawn:

    Amethyst is Number One!

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0728: "Wider By the Day."

    New videos:

    Letters to an Asexual #67 is about people who expect you to "prove" things about your experience only through quoting a study.

    "Familiar" karaoke cover: Check out my low range (it's kind of a joke).

    New photos:

    Bigger Together Breakfast with Steve!

    Sister Selfie!
    Do I look tired?? Do I?

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,256 for swankivy (lost 10), 676 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 962 for swankivy (no change), 1,339 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Facebook: 293 friends (no change) and 209 followers (no change) for swankivy, 646 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 62 likes for Negative One (no change), 145 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,516 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 178 (no change).

    Wednesday, April 24, 2019

    Wednesday Factoid: Schedule

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How do you keep track of your scheduled events? Do you use a physical calendar, a planner, an electronic calendar, a planning app, or what?

    I have a wall calendar up in my office at home and next to my desk at work, but I don't write on them for events. 

    For personal events, if they're not things that are typically part of the schedule or things I plan last minute, I put them on my phone's calendar (sometimes with an alarm) to remind me so I won't schedule on top of them. Birthdays are also auto-tied into my calendar because they're in my contacts.

    At work I use the Outlook calendar a lot. I track meetings and selection dates for submissions our company made. I set reminders on those that pop up within my Outlook program. I don't manage other people's calendars at work, but I have access to a shared calendar I am able to add stuff to.

    When I was a kid I used to enjoy putting birthdays on wall calendars but I don't do it anymore. 

    Tuesday, April 23, 2019

    The importance of exposure

    I see frequent complaints about the destruction of retail stores in the face of warehouse access and online shopping.

    People always mourn the loss when a cool store (or entire chain) goes under because they can't keep the doors open anymore. "I LOVED THAT STORE," they say, "AND I LOVED GOING THERE."

    The benefits are hard to ignore. Browsing behavior is very different if it happens online. Electronic shopping is more geared toward knowing what you want already and going there to get it, shopping by keyword, manufacturer, or specific use. Then other people who reviewed the thing tell you what to think of it and other people who have bought similar products indirectly tell you what else you should want. It's very smart, but it relies on algorithms and patterns established by others. It is far from useless, but it doesn't operate by the same factors people use when they shop in stores.

    In physical stores, a display might catch your attention for a product you didn't know you wanted just because they're good at marketing and know how to make. Or you might just happen to find an item because it's next to an item you came in to find. Or you might just go to the section of books on a topic or in a genre and end up walking out with a new favorite instead of a recommendation. Retail stores still base their sales on patterns invisible to the consumer--manufacturer promotion, bestseller lists, political opinions of the store owners--but it's a little more organic.

    One of the problems is that people really do like to browse, but then they don't want to pay for that part of the experience. (And understandably so: they've taken nothing physical, and they're just looking!) The problem is, someone has to pay to keep the register staffed and the floor staff available and the computers running and the shippers driving and the building leased and the lights on. To provide an environment for people to walk around in and select merchandise, the overhead is much higher than it would be if everyone individually accesses the store using their own power (a computer, their own electricity, on their own time, without individualized help), and their payments are processed by a robot and sent to them by an underpaid group of warehouse workers and delivery drivers.

    Customers who are used to the prices on websites may be dismayed at the higher in-store prices, even though they're paying for at least three benefits: 1. The ability to browse in a retail store; 2. The ability to examine the product in person before consenting to buy it; and 3. The ability to own it immediately without waiting for delivery. They may take their dismay out on retail employees and display anger as if they are being cheated, or they may request or demand price-matching that isn't really fair, or they may do the worst thing of all: use the retail store's environment for free and reap those benefits, only to purchase the product online for cheaper.

    "Too bad," say some. "That's capitalism."

    Well, putting aside the things I would tell you about capitalism (including that adopting it as a too-bad-so-sad/whatever-makes-the-money life philosophy is literally killing people), you might want to think about another aspect of all this that you may be overlooking.

    How do you know what you like?

    Most people find new things they like based on things they already liked. If you liked this author, try that one. If you like this food, try that restaurant. Here is your curated group of things that are enough like other things you already like that you may adopt them as likes too.

    Where do you start, though? How did you acquire islands of new interests?

    Random exposure, probably.

    You listened to the radio, which is way more like a retail store than the website of that store, and suddenly you heard an innovative song that made you realize you might like this kind of music (or at least that artist). You got invited to a family party by your friend whose home culture is very different from yours, and you found out that you love their home country's cuisine. You were babysitting and the kids wanted to watch some dumb show that turned out to be amazing. You heard of something on the news and it was completely foreign to you, and the novelty of that inspired you to seek it out, and now you can't imagine your life without it.

    I'm not saying people should spend their whole lives actively trying to escape their comfortable inclinations and preferences, because those are legitimate too. But exposure leads to novelty in ways that algorithms rarely predict.

    Having places where we can explore new options as well as access established options is very important to avoid stagnation and falling into a rut. It also exposes people to things they may resist but need to see--such as the fact that books from their religion aren't occupying the only "Religion" section in the store, or how many perspectives from political movements unlike theirs are actually available to access straight from the believers' words (rather than, you know, having someone who thinks like you telling you what Those People think and what THEY want to do to good people like you). 

    Being able to isolate ourselves to only see things that are similar to what we already like is a great way to become part of an echo chamber and to become ever more divisive in our politics, opinions, and everyday lives. 

    This might seem like a weird take considering I started this talking about retail stores folding in the face of online stores, but I think it's all connected. And I think that if we value that experience of exposing ourselves to variety and having the option to browse through What's Out There, we should act like it. We shouldn't just cry next time a bookstore closes. We should reward businesses that are providing a service we find valuable. And though I'm not "against" electronic shopping whatsoever, I think some industries are already in danger of having no alternative to it.

    Sunday, April 21, 2019

    Personal Digest Saturday: April 13 – April 19

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday I played with online quizzes for a bunch of the day because I'm silly, and I put my hair in curlers to try a new way of making my hair curly for a costume. I did a bunch of drawing. Did my blogging and did some partial recordings of Steven Universe karaoke songs.
    • Sunday was a little disturbing; I went outside to hang out at my table but a tree branch had fallen and broken one of the chairs and cracked the table! Yikes. I still sat outside and hung out but it was so windy and junk got in my coffee. I also had a bad time with my mom's taxes because I was helping submit them for her after we completed an e-file, but the submission was rejected. I eventually got it to be accepted after finding out the rejection was completely the fault of a glitch that happens sometimes if the previous year's taxes were filed late. Whoops. Later, the tree in my front yard completely fell apart in the middle of the lawn, just snapped in half and it's dead. Whoa. I did laundry and dishes, hit 1000 posts on my cartoon fan blog, and finished drawing a pretty silly fan comic about a couple on Steven Universe. I cooked a nice dinner of tofu and mushrooms as well.
    • Monday I woke up on the couch where I'd slept because I was afraid of trees falling on the back of the house. Went to work and had to handle a record number of letters in one day: we sent out FIVE. (And one was a long one.) I also was not able to get in touch with my rental company to arrange someone to look at my trees. When I got home I mostly just worked on (and completed!) ANOTHER fan comic. And I was so happy to hear that my friend who had a crisis last week got medication that works.
    • Tuesday I did a lot of adulting--stuff related to renter's insurance and got a claim filed for the property management company to look at my trees. Went home and my DVD of the second season of Steven Universe had arrived, so I spent the evening watching the bonus features (a bunch of animatics). Also got to briefly talk to my sister and did laundry.
    • Wednesday I had a deadline with one of my co-workers who likes to work under pressure so he waited until the last minute to get some stuff done. Was a little stressful for me! I went to my second online marketing class and then went out with Jeaux. We ate Five Guys food and shopped at Winn-Dixie. We saw an episode of What We Do in the Shadows and listened to Night Vale.
    • Thursday I saw someone getting arrested at my bus stop in the morning. Work wasn't too eventful, but I made an action plan for a proposal for the first time, and after work I wrote an essay about a cartoon character and talked to Victor on the phone while drawing comics.
    • Friday I woke up early because another branch fell outside and shook the house. Didn't hit anything. Work was pretty quiet because most people were out, but I got a lot done. At home I drew comics and organized some plans to see my sister while she's in town.
    My diet progress: 

    • I was not able to get back into my exercising routine this week, but things were unusually busy at work, so my physical energy was pretty low.

    New reviews of my book:

    Reading progress:
      New singing performances:

      This week's karaoke song is "Never Saw Blue" by Hayley Westenra.

      And if you want to just hear some partial recordings from the Steven Universe karaoke release:

      Stuff Drawn:
      Pride Garnet

      And if you want to read either of my fan comics, you can read "Goofy" about Lemon Jade or "So Big" about Sunstone being short.

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0727: "Burned Out."

      New videos:


      New photos:
      Out of curlers!
      Disaster that broke my chair
      Tree that fell apart in my front yard
      Watching Season 2 extras
      New keychain that came with the DVD
      Flyer for a book event I'm part of next week

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,266 for swankivy (4 new), 676 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 962 for swankivy (no change), 1,339 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Facebook: 293 friends (lost 1) and 209 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 647 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 62 likes for Negative One (no change), 145 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,517 (no change). Instagram followers: 178 (no change).

      Saturday, April 13, 2019

      Personal Digest Saturday: April 6 – April 12

      Life news this week:
      • Saturday was awesome, had my new friend Steve over for our second meeting ever, and we made our own homemade pizza (I forgot to let the dough rise! We made pizza with unrisen dough! Whoops!) and watched cartoons. (I'm introducing him to guess what. Because all my friends end up getting indoctrinated sooner or later. He'll be sooner.) After he left I got around to doing my blogs and mostly didn't get much else done.
      • Sunday wasn't as good as usual Sundays because I didn't get to go outside and sit at my table. It was too wet (not actually raining). Sad! But I did do karaoke and laundry like usual, and I answered messages and even submitted a short story to a magazine like I haven't for a long time!
      • Monday I chatted with a friend who was having a crisis and I'm still not sure what will happen but I'm pretty worried about him. Also had to proofread a letter at work, and after work I talked to Mom on the phone and played my ukulele.
      • Tuesday it was rainy. We had a meeting at the office, and like usual, I spent the afternoon cleaning up stuff that came up in the meeting. Updated our company website and then after work I saw Mom to talk about taxes. It was a short visit though!
      • Wednesday I did a proposal and updated a database. I finally got the high score on a quiz I've been trying to win for months (wow, I'm sad), and I started a marketing training thing that'll last several weeks. After work Jeaux and I got Which Which? sandwiches and shopped at Winn-Dixie, and then I read him a very long thread about transphobia and we ranted about annoying people, and finally we watched a funny TV show called What We Do in the Shadows. I like it.
      • Thursday was upsetting, my friends Jeaux and Victor found out they are losing their jobs soon because their office is closing. Wow, it's what happened to me in 2017, except they got more notice. I paid bills and worked on upcoming business development stuff. After work I drew comics and talked to Victor.
      • Friday Volume 2 of the Steven Universe soundtrack came out, so I bought it in the wee hours and also the karaoke album. Woo! I went to work and spent all day buried in upcoming marketing letters. After work I finished the comic, made a karaoke cover of one of my favorite SU songs with the official track, and slept kind of early.
      My diet progress: 

      • Hoping to start exercising after work a couple days next week so I'll have something good to say here!

      Reading progress:
        New singing performances:

        This week's karaoke song is "No Good Deed" from the musical Wicked.

        Stuff Drawn:

        Coloring book page! I got a little intense with the coloring here.

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0726: "Non-Essential."

        New videos:

        My unlisted video of me playing around with the new Steven Universe soundtrack is a recording of "It's Over, Isn't It"!

        New photos:


        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,262 for swankivy (lost 2), 675 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 962 for swankivy (lost 3), 1,341 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 294 friends (lost 1) and 208 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 647 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 62 likes for Negative One (no change), 145 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,517 (2 new). Instagram followers: 178 (no change).

        Wednesday, April 10, 2019

        Wednesday Factoid: Not Like You

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What do you like that's not like you? (In other words, do you have any interests or inclinations that might be considered inconsistent with your personality or your demographic?)

        Hmm, I guess some people are surprised that I like certain movies even though they have violence in them, even though in general I don't like violence. That's really based on a misconception though. A few times I've declined to watch horror movies or movies with lots of violence because I simplify my reasoning as "I don't want to watch violence," but it's not the violence that's really the issue. Being later confronted with BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE WHY IS X ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE MOVIES IT HAS VIOOOOOLENCE is frustrating because "it is violent" doesn't automatically make me hate or avoid a piece of media. I don't like GRATUITOUS violence or unnecessary depictions of human suffering. I don't enjoy that. I don't want to watch or read something where the violence is front and center and considered part of the enjoyment. I don't want to watch something that has a lot of side violence that is utterly unnecessary. I haven't expressed that I am utterly incapable of enjoying something that contains violence or suffering. It just has to not be what other people feel makes the movie good.

        Another funny thing is that I am not into football, but my favorite anime is about football.

        And also, I don't like spicy food and can't even handle super mild spice, but I like horseradish.

        Go figure.

        Monday, April 8, 2019

        Small Talk

        I know it's not anything special or revolutionary to say you hate small talk, but man, I hate small talk.

        Truthfully I don't mind it THAT much if it's something you don't have much choice about. It's pleasant sometimes to exchange observations about the weather, or to talk about where's a good restaurant or where someone is from originally.

        But when you have a choice? A completely free, open choice to talk about whatever you want? AND YOU CHOOSE SMALL TALK?

        Come on, just spare me.

        On the one hand, I want people to be basically polite to me and not assume too much about my comfort level. So I do appreciate people being cautious about touchy or personal subjects (especially since a lot of my online presence is about asexuality or associated with it). But even introductory conversations about these things can be both non-intrusive AND "deep" or thought-provoking. I don't want to talk about polite incidentals as a way of easing into chat. I want to talk to you if you have something to talk to me about.

        Yes, it's different if you're around people you don't necessarily need to form a deep or lasting relationship with, like the person sitting next to you at the bus stop or people at work with whom you keep your personal life private. But as part of a getting-to-know-you process, I'm really, really tired of "nothing" conversations that feel like pulling teeth.

        I love to make friends on social networking sites, specifically OKCupid (which of course is primarily used as a dating site, but allows other uses through "here-for" categories that encompass more than dating). I have successfully used it to make friends for more than ten years. But like most good things, it has its down sides. And just as often as I encounter people who think it's fine to get TOO personal immediately (read: they ask me for sex or ask me intensely personal questions about my sexual habits), I get people who just don't know how to start a good conversation.

        Just the other day I gave up on a conversation with someone who was basically polite but didn't seem to have a damn thing to talk about. His first contact claimed he'd connected with my "story," and he had a high match percentage, so I matched him and accepted the chat, encouraging him to discuss what part of my "story" he connected with. 

        He did not do that. He instead asked me where I'm from originally.

        Uh. Okay. Well, I told him, and elaborated a little about cold weather. He sidestepped the opportunity to elaborate on that himself and just asked me another nothing question about where I went to college.

        I told him. Elaborating less this time, but trying to leave the conversation open.

        And then he did it again, only this time he hit one of my pet peeves. He asked me if one of the stats I'd put on my profile--my height, 4'11"--was actually how tall I really am.

        So. We've gone back and forth three times and now he's asking me if I'm lying about myself.

        I confirmed I'm really 4'11" and asked why he seemed so baffled by that. He said he thought I "looked tall" in my pictures. What. So I asked what he meant, at which point he opined that my being thin indicated to him that I was tall. When I hit him with how absolutely ridiculous that sounds to me and that he HAD to know there are short people who are not fat and tall people who are not thin, he then began doing the thing I hate.

        He told me it was just a question, to not get offended, and that he is JUST TRYING TO START A CONVERSATION.

        You know what, buddy?

        No, you're not trying to start a conversation.

        You're apparently not connecting with anything in my "story" because there's not a single thing in this conversation you couldn't have asked any other stranger, and then the only personalized content is about my photographs. Whose authenticity you questioned, slapping them thoughtlessly with a truly bizarre misconception about how body type is likely to indicate height.

        You don't need to manufacture conversation with me.

        It isn't hard at ALL to find something to talk about with me. I am willing. I am full of interesting conversation handles to grab onto that I carefully installed all over my profile. I even give instructions on how to talk to me--that I want some meat here. That I want something real to reply to.

        It doesn't have to be deep. It doesn't have to be lengthy. It just has to be a real thought based on something you noticed about me or something my profile inspires you to want to talk about, and it has to actually be for me. I don't start relationships with people based on an empty questionnaire, and I don't regard the task of getting to know a person as a gauntlet of empty questions we answer before we start really talking about anything.

        What's funny is I generally don't have this problem at all with people who become my friends. We jump right in with the fun stuff, the intense stuff, the enjoyable stuff, the deep stuff, the connections. Maybe I talk to them for a month before I find out what their last name is or what their job is. I might literally not know a person's gender or age at first because it's that unimportant to me to fill out a demographics form. These are no longer the foundation of getting to know another person. You connect with the real stuff first, the soul of a reason to communicate, and then eventually some of that other stuff will fill itself in in the background.

        You don't need to "make" conversation with me by asking a series of boring, safe questions. Especially if it goes nowhere due to jumping around trying to give me one-liners to answer. My conversations with the people I want to talk to immediately get lengthy because we have so much to say to each other. It's not a chore. It's a joy.

        And it really is easy. The hardest part for some of these dudes appears to be realizing that I am a person whose thoughts are unusually available to anyone who wants to take a peek. You should have NO problem at all finding something to talk about if we're similar people.

        And if you read through that whole profile and nothing inspires you? If you read through it all and you still can't think of anything to say to me?

        Then don't.

        Really, don't.

        And if you can't think of much to say about yourself? If you have nothing you're bursting to share?


        Just don't.

        Don't bother me. I am not going to stand over you painfully extracting a dialogue. Speak to me if you have something you're excited to say. If you have nothing to say, just shut up.

        Sunday, April 7, 2019

        Personal Digest Saturday (but posting on Sunday!): March 30 – April 5

        Life news this week:
        • Saturday Victor and I made a Dad Breakfast (reference to cartoon food again!) and ate it, then chilled, then ate our Universal Yums box from Ukraine. My video camera got full right at the end! Never happened before. After he left I hung out with my friend Kari and we watched cartoons and enjoyed each other's company. After she left I did some laundry and blogging.
        • Sunday was another great day. I really love Sundays! I did my table cleaning and chilling outside. I answered some messages and relaxed. Then it was laundry, karaoke, and comic drawing, plus I had to do maintenance on my water system and there was a valve that didn't want to turn so I had to go after it with a hammer and ended up knocking the routing pipes out and getting water everywhere (including all over me). Haha. But at least I got it done. I also wrote a quiz for Amino and relaxed a lot.
        • Monday I did work at the office, paid bills, wrote a blog, and opened some new comic books. And updated some websites and stuff.
        • Tuesday I didn't have a whole lot of intense stuff happening at work. And I helped Mom with her taxes. Unghhh. I recorded a kinda crappy version of a song and did some reading and mail answering.
        • Wednesday I helped my coworkers with paperwork. I wrote the script for a comic, made a blog, deleted old mail, and looked at Internet garbage. Jeaux took me to Applebee's and we ate too much food. We shopped at Publix and went to my house and did a puzzle while listening to Night Vale. I also worried about my friend who is having a problem with his medication.
        • Thursday I unexpectedly had to do a bunch of data collection so I spent the whole day doing it. At home I wrote and drew comics while talking to Victor, and went to bed.
        • Friday I finished the big data collection thing and did some other tasks. After work I finished the comic and posted an old blog entry about criticism on Amino which ended up getting featured on the front page for some reason (??). Played a bunch of quizzes.
        New reviews of my book:

        • Rue Baldry gave it a two-star review on Goodreads, complaining that it has one of the worst cases of repetition they've seen.
        • Jasmine gave it a five-star review on Goodreads, saying it's a good source to get info on the orientation instead of trusting mainstream media.
        My diet progress: 

        • My weight isn't changing at all, which is good but I'm not making any effort right now.

        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          This week's karaoke song is "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston.

          Stuff Drawn:

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0725: "The Biggest One Awake."

          Webcomic So You Write Issue 93: "Anything I've Read."

          New videos:

          My unlisted ukulele video for the Steven Universe song "Change Your Mind" is here. It's really not good though y'all, I was just messing around trying to see if I could learn it.

          New photos:

          Dad Breakfast
          Universal Yums Ukraine
          Water everywhere
          Putting together the SU puzzle

          Social Media Counts:

          YouTube subscribers: 5,264 for swankivy (3 new), 674 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 965 for swankivy (lost 2), 1,339 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 295 friends (no change) and 209 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 648 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 62 likes for Negative One (no change), 145 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,515 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 178 (1 new).

          Wednesday, April 3, 2019

          Wednesday Factoid: Brand Loyalty

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are you super loyal to any particular brand--to the point that you will not consume the brand's rival(s) and/or judge people if they prefer another product? (Pepsi vs. Coke?  Apple vs. Microsoft? Marvel vs. DC?)

          That's really hard to say--I don't feel that strongly about any brands, and I am CERTAINLY not one of those people who will sneer or turn up their nose at you for being a Macintosh user even though I prefer PCs, but there are a few things I'm pretty partial to. I much prefer Coke to Pepsi, for instance, to use one of the examples from the prompt.

          I went and found a list of 50 "business rivalries" (this list is ganked from Fortune Magazine online, credited to "Fortune Editors"), and I'll paste it below. I'm bolding my pick if I have an opinion. If I didn't bold either one, I don't have an opinion.

          1. Coke vs. Pepsi
          2. Ford vs. GM
          3. Thomas Edison vs. Nikola Tesla
          4. AT&T vs. MCI
          5. Nike vs. Reebok
          6. Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs
          7. Venice vs. Genoa
          8. HP vs. IBM
          10. Union Pacific vs. Central Pacific
          11. McDonald's vs. Burger King
          12. R.J. Reynolds vs. Philip Morris
          13. Hertz vs. Avis
          14. Procter & Gamble vs. Unilever
          15. Netscape vs. Microsoft
          16. Visa vs. MasterCard
          17. Ferrari vs. Lamborghini
          18. Macy's vs. Gimbels
          19. Budweiser vs. Miller
          20. Adidas vs. Puma
          21. CVS vs. Walgreens
          22. UPS vs. FedEx
          23. Hearst vs. Pulitzer
          24. Bayer vs. Tylenol
          25. Duracell vs. Energizer
          26. Wal-Mart vs. Target
          27. NYSE vs. NASDAQ
          28. Oreo vs. Hydrox
          29. Hasbro vs. Mattel
          30. Dunkin' Donuts vs. Starbucks
          31. Oracle vs. Salesforce
          32. Fender vs. Gibson
          33. Canon vs. Nikon
          34. U.S. Steel vs. Bethlehem Steel
          35. Sears vs. J.C. Penney
          36. Cornelius Vanderbilt vs. Jay Gould
          37. J.P. Morgan vs. Goldman Sachs
          38. Sotheby's vs. Christie's
          39. Louis B. Mayer vs. Jack Warner
          40. Blockbuster vs. Netflix
          41. Pan Am vs. TWA
          42. Comcast vs. Verizon
          43. Greyhound vs. Trailways
          44. Sony vs. Nintendo
          45. Estée Lauder vs. L'Oréal
          46. Google vs. Facebook
          47. Michael Eisner vs. Jeffrey Katzenberg
          48. Marvel Comics vs. DC Comics
          49. BMW vs. Mercedes Benz
          50. Netflix vs. Amazon

          Monday, April 1, 2019

          A friendly zone

          I've seen a wordless multiple-frame comic going around lately (which I will not repost) depicting a girl handing a boy a representation of her heart, which he then drops on the ground. Breaking it. Uncaring, he walks away and leaves her with the broken heart. Another sweet boy swoops in and helps her mend the damage. He touches her face tenderly, at which point she seems grateful, but then she turns away and scurries back to the boy who broke her heart, ready to try again with him even though he did that to her.

          Of course, you're supposed to feel that the sweet boy has been cheated and the girl is unreasonable.

          That the girl should have learned through that interaction that the sweet boy who helped her heal should now be attractive to the girl because he was there for her, and that the girl is actually being cruel to the boy because he did the work of putting her back together and now she's going forward as if that heart of hers actually belongs to her to do with as she wills.

          Ya know, I'm not going to go into detail about that. I think most people who know me know how I feel about the concept of a man offering friendship, doing friendship things for a woman, and then expecting that to lead to romantic attraction and feeling cheated when it doesn't. And I think actually it's fine for a man to feel sad that someone he cares about is going back to someone who broke her heart, as long as he doesn't feel that his time and attention to a woman in need are wasted effort if she doesn't reward him with sex or a relationship. I think most men who are sad in this situation don't actually think they're putting a down payment on a relationship if they're kind to a woman who loves someone else.

          I want to tell my side of this story.

          I have a lot of friends who aren't in established relationships. People who wish they could have a fairy tale romance (or at least a dependable significant other). I don't want to be in romantic relationships with them, obviously.

          But I wonder if they're aware how much it hurts to be treated like your friendship is nothing.

          Friendship will always be demoted beneath romantic relationships. In time spent, in importance, in "seriousness." And if I am upset about it, I'm always going to be treated like either that is inappropriate and I should've expected to be ignored/essentially dumped when someone has a relationship, or that I must've secretly had romantic feelings for the person.

          I'm not offended that they want romance. I'm not upset whatsoever if they establish a primary partnership with someone. But damn, it really gets old being treated like my friendship wasn't worth anything.

          When I'm there for them during the hard times, happy to do things in between or outside the relationship, happy to listen when it goes bad, happy to offer advice or distraction or an ear to listen.

          You wouldn't believe how often I've been treated like that's nothing.

          I don't want a romantic relationship out of it. I would be upset if someone acted like our closeness should lead to romance. That's not the expected result of my care for them, for my treating them like they're important to me and being sad when they're wounded.

          But I keep hearing, as they talk to me, the person who's there for them: "I'm alone." "No one cares about me." "I'll never be valued by anyone."

          It really hurts to know that my friendship just "isn't anything" sometimes. That people who ostensibly like me think nothing of saying that my affection doesn't count because it isn't sexual, that because of the lack of that dimension it isn't real or significant to them.

          I guess that's why people like this really think it's fine to disappear into their relationships and ignore me for months or years at a time, then pop right back out expecting me to be waiting for them.

          The first time a particular friend of mine did this to me, I was baffled that he actually did it, and then after that I never trusted him that way again.

          I was still kind to him, I was still there when the breakup came and went out to console him with some distractions, still tried to support the other things he did and was ready to include him when he was ready to include me.

          But you know what? It didn't really hurt much at all the second and third times he did it.

          I had accepted--sadly--that I wasn't anything to this person. Anything real, that is. He felt free to discard me when he didn't need me, and he apparently thought it was fine to leave me out of the loop on what was going on in his life because once he got a girlfriend everything was About Her, and when established routines just suddenly disappeared again I didn't have to ask. I knew it meant he was in a relationship, and that him being in a relationship necessarily means he will just put me down like a toy he's tired of.

          I'm not waiting for his attention. If I know that's how someone treats his friends when he's in a relationship and he doesn't explicitly have a conversation about how he's learned not to do that, I will invest far less of myself into my relationship with him. Not because he found happiness with someone else. Not because I require him to find his happiness primarily through his connection with me. I'm honestly thrilled if I can help him mend his heart and he goes off to take it to his love or someone else.

          But I need our relationship to be about something too, and I need it to be important to him. Or else I will see that he actually doesn't know how to have a friendship with a person who's not actively providing a service to him, and I will know where I stand.

          I'm not going to pretend I don't care when people do that. I actually do invest in my friendships and I actually do regard my friends as if they can be trusted to do the same. I'm always going to be sad about every one of these people I've lost. But I'm not going to pine about it or present myself as deserving the relationship I wanted from them. They clearly don't want to give that to me. They want a friendship of convenience. That isn't what I want, and furthermore, what kind of dipstick am I if I find out that's who this person is and I still want a version of them with that part excised?

          It can't be taken out. It's part of them and I didn't see it. It's unacceptable to me as a friend who cares deeply and wants to be equally important to them. I will have a bad reaction and I will mourn and I will probably sulk. I will be sad about the person I thought they were. And then I won't give any parts of myself to them that require trust to hold. I'll understand our relationship isn't what I wanted, and I'll let it be what they're willing to let it be (or, if that's unacceptable to me, I will cut contact).

          I will always accept people for who they are. If they show me something ugly and disappointing about themselves, I believe them, and treat them accordingly.