Words of Advice from a Two-Time College Dropout

Graduation Cupcakes!

High school graduation parties can be cool, but what if life seems all downhill from there?

Like anyone with a working Internet connection, from time to time I find myself completing online surveys about various companies or products, whether for fun, for freebies, or in hopes that the survey will include an essay question that you can use as a soapbox to unleash a thousand-word tirade about the last time their services ticked you off and ruined your day. “That’ll show ’em!” you think to yourself as your carefully crafted vitriol is forwarded to the survey company and assimilated into the results database containing hundreds of thousands of other surveys, someday to be skimmed by a distracted HR rep who might raise an eyebrow at your poison-pen screed, if you’re lucky.

Every such survey has the obligatory section whose questions are designed for demographic pigeonholing of your results. I don’t mind revealing my ever-advancing age, blissful marital status, or conspicuously dull bloodline. My least favorite question is always, “What is the highest level of education you have completed?” It sounds simple and uncomplicated, especially if you earned a degree. Sometimes I wonder if those who attended graduate school and/or who hold multiple degrees receive a little bonus from the survey company in return, to thank them for bolstering the results with certified demographic classiness.

Mine is the humble ignominy that requires me to check “Some college”. It’s always a multiple-choice question, never a write-in field, so you can’t fall back on the standard glib answers such as “school of hard knocks” or “school of life”, joke answers such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” or “Hogwarts”, or even obscure answers such as “School of Fish”, in hopes that someone in the survey company will agree how cool a song “3 Strange Days” was. Every time I spot the bland, undecorated phrase “Some college” on a survey, I wince for a second and have to shake off the reminder of a young adulthood that wandered astray.

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Louisville’s FandomFest: Con or Con?

FandomFest 2017!

An early version of this year’s FandomFest banner, which I have fixed for them at no charge, which is just as well because I suspect they wouldn’t respond to my invoice anyway. [Updated 7/28/2017 to reflect still more guest cancellations…]

Last year around this time, my wife Anne and I had been discussing the possibility of investigating geek conventions in other states beyond our own Indiana besides just fabled Chicago. In recent times we’ve since enjoyed successful outings to Ohio and Michigan, and continue keeping an open mind on future opportunities within reasonable driving distance, or within reasonable flying distance if someone wants to pay our way.

It’s in that spirit of out-of-state geek adventure that we bought Saturday advance tickets for this coming weekend’s FandomFest, the largest recurring comic/entertainment convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Before setting any of this entry into print, I asked my wife Anne whether she would prefer I refer to us as “idiots” or “suckers”. She suggested “hopeless optimists”. Whichever sounds right to you, here we are with weekend plans for which we are presently bracing ourselves for stress and failure. But the important thing is we’ll be miserable and angried up and disgustipated together.

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Eulogy for Sixteen Years’ Worth of Files

Black Screen!

Thank you all for coming. I’ve gathered my wits today to say a few words about the losses my wife and I suffered in the Great Hard Drive Crash of July 1, 2015.

We’ve had the same PC since at least 2009, maybe even longer. It was neither top-of-the-line Alienware nor an eMachines glorified calculator when I bonded with it at Fry’s Electronics and brought it home to join our household. I spent more than I could afford at the time, but it served us well in the long run and more than made up the difference to us on a number of levels. It was terrible for gaming and I let that dream go early, but it served all our modest needs with an efficiency and speed that its predecessors could never touch. We were one big happy family.

Meanwhile behind the scenes, things were falling apart…

How Not to Drop Out of College Twice

Like anyone with a working Internet connection, from time to time I find myself completing online surveys about various companies or products, whether for fun, for freebies, or in hopes that the survey will include an essay question that you can use as a soapbox to unleash a thousand-word tirade about the last time their services ticked you off and ruined your day. “That’ll show ’em!” you think to yourself as your carefully crafted vitriol is forwarded to the survey company and assimilated into the results database containing hundreds of thousands of other surveys, someday to be skimmed by a distracted HR rep who might raise an eyebrow at your poison-pen screed, if you’re lucky.

Every such survey has the obligatory section whose questions are designed for demographic pigeonholing of your results. I don’t mind revealing my ever-advancing age, blissful marital status, or complete lack of Hispanic bloodline. My least favorite question is always, “What is the highest level of education you have completed?” It sounds simple and uncomplicated, especially if you earned a degree. Sometimes I wonder if those who attended graduate school and/or who hold multiple degrees receive a little bonus from the survey company in return, to thank them for bolstering the results with certified demographic classiness.

Mine is the humble ignominy that requires me to check “Some college”. It’s always a multiple-choice question, never a write-in field, so you can’t fall back on the standard glib answers such as “school of hard knocks” or “school of life”, joke answers such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” or “Hogwarts”, or even obscure answers such as “School of Fish”, in hopes that someone in the survey company will agree how cool a song “3 Strange Days” was. Every time I spot the bland, undecorated phrase “Some college” on a survey, I wince for a second and have to shake off the reminder of a young adulthood that wandered astray.

Continue reading

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