What Facebook has become

I’ve been meaning to write this out for a while, but life has gotten the best of me over the past couple/few months.  I really need to get back on a regular blogging schedule, but we’ll see how that goes.  Hopefully my next post will be about what I’ve been so busy with (buying a house and moving across town), but we’ll see.

If you’ve followed me on Facebook for at least a year, you probably know that I make political posts sometimes.  You may have noticed that after the election was over, I slacked off, and if you’ve been following me since the last presidential election cycle, you’ll probably notice my political posts have generally waned.

This wasn’t an accident.  Politics are always relevant, and discourse is great, but Facebook has become more toxic than ever lately.  I’m not sure if that’s due to the current political climate or my own perception of the platform – and perhaps it’s both – but I lean toward it being the latter.  A lot of the people I am friends with were not politically involved until this election, or at least they weren’t vocal about it if they were.  I am pretty positive the 2012 election did not have this much Facebook commentary, but I’ve learned from 2008, 2012, and 2016 that political posts on Facebook are only good for fights and confirmation bias.  No one changes their mind on any heated issue because of what they read on Facebook.

And this leads me to the point of this post:  Facebook has become depressing.  When the platform first launched (or at least, back when my peers first started having kids, which was shortly after the Facebook launch), I used to groan when people posted pictures of their kids.  You know how cartoons and movies sometimes joke about the guy that’s always pulling out his wallet with an ever-expanding photo album of his kids inside of it?  He shoves it into someone’s face and the other person is awkwardly bound to look at the pictures and make comments.  That’s how I felt.

But Facebook was sort of different at the time, as Twitter wasn’t popular at all (that’s when my boys Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose (Internet famous tech nerds) ruled the Twitter roost instead of Lady Gaga or some other pop-culture celeb), Instagram didn’t exist, and neither did Snapchat or any other photo sharing social media platforms.  It was Facebook and I guess MySpace, and since that’s basically what my idea of social networks were, it didn’t feel like that’s what they were for (and it wasn’t just me; lots of friends complained about the same things).  I think what I use Facebook for now is basically short-form of what I used to use my blog for.

These days, I am more than happy to see pictures of my friends’ kids.  It’s good to open Facebook and see people spreading their joy amidst all of the negativity.  This recent election may have gotten a lot of people politically involved, but I hope they realize their friend circle can be a bubble of self-affirmation.  Let’s be real, when you see something you agree with, it reinforces that belief, and the more you see those things, the more negative the opposite viewpoint can appear.  It’s something we’re all susceptible to, including me, and maybe years and years of exposure to politically active communities before other people actually started caring last year is what has suddenly made Facebook feel so toxic.

It’s particularly frustrating for me because of how partisan the conversation is.  Every time the letter behind the name of the president switches from D to R or R to D, the conversation flips, and people that have been quiet for 4 or 8 years are now angry, while the previously angry people are now happily apologizing for any promise the president doesn’t keep.  The “Team R” and “Team D” mentality is absolutely infuriating, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that may be my biggest gripe about Facebook.

Anyway, it’s hard to say, and I definitely don’t want to block myself from opposing viewpoints, but the more I analyze it, the more I feel like Facebook isn’t the place for this kind of discussion.  Really, I’m not sure where that place is, but if I’m being honest, it’s much easier for me to ingest political posts on Twitter because Twitter doesn’t lend itself to debate.  It feels like nearly every time I’ve gotten involved in a political discussion on Twitter with someone that holds an opposing viewpoint, I end up excusing myself from the conversation because it takes two tweets to respond to one tweet, and then they take four tweets to respond to your two tweets, and so on until critical points are being missed and the “conversation” becomes unmanageable.

I think the bigger reason I find political posts easier to digest on Twitter is that on Facebook, you see a political post and then a war raging under it in the comments, likely involving many people you don’t know.  Twitter doesn’t show replies in your feed unless you follow both people.  Because of this, you end up seeing less garbage.

So, I’ve been unfollowing people on Facebook.  Honestly, it kind of sucks, but I’m tired of wading through 10 posts about how much Trump sucks for one post about someone’s personal life that I actually care about.  It’s not worth bringing your negativity into my life.  Sorry.  There’s nothing objectively true about your opinion (or mine) no matter how much you (or I) believe it, and while I may be more forgiving about posts that lean toward something I believe, those at least don’t frustrate me as much.  I’m sure that sounds terrible or whatever, but honestly, I don’t care anymore.  I don’t want to read your political opinion, especially if you only care to have one when your team isn’t in the White House, and even more so if I wouldn’t talk to you about politics in real life.  Actually, probably more that last part.

This is my commitment to my Facebook friends until further notice: unless there is a serious reason to post something political (the definition of “serious” will be up to my discretion), I won’t do it.  You may see me liking some political posts in your feed, but I don’t control how Facebook’s algorithm delivers updates to you.  If something that I like bothers you, please use Facebook Messenger to talk to me about it.  In fact, please use any messaging service (I’m on many of them) to talk to me about anything in general.

Pokémon Go…or something, whatever

A lot of things have happened since I’ve last updated my blog, but each time I think about writing a post, I realize I’m not entirely sure what I want to share here anymore.  Twitter is the best resource to keep up with what’s going on my life right now, to be honest.  My blog has turned into more of a place for me to dump long-form thoughts.

That said, time to dump some thoughts. :D

I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon Go, and despite its tumultuous rollout, I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.  There’s a gym down the street from where I live, and three more within reasonable walking distance, where I can also hit 9 Pokéstops along the way.  It’s a long walk, but I enjoy it.

A lot of the game mechanics are sort of…broken, or “unbalanced” is a better word, I guess.  Stardust doesn’t scale very well, evolved Pokémon trade in for the same amount of candy as their unevolved counterparts, Pokéstops have seemingly recently all but stopped dropping hyper potions…the list goes on.  Niantic has had, and continues to have, their heads in the sand for the most part, especially with the tracking issue, which was made even worse by their complete lack of communication for weeks.

I think a lot of people quit the game, but even with certain things still broken or very unbalanced, I continue to play.  I won’t spend any real money on the game until they address the issues, but the game is still very much playable (which is not something I could say with much confidence for the first few weeks).  Right now, what’s fun for me is collecting Pokémon and specifically focusing on keeping the gym down the street.

Oh, and I guess I should mention that I’m dumb and didn’t realize the teams were based on the legendary birds.  I chose Team Valor (red team) for a completely dumb reason (didn’t understand how gyms worked), and totally didn’t realize I should’ve been on Team Instinct.  (Anyone that knew me back in the day knows Zapdos was my favorite Pokémon).  Valor is the last team I would’ve picked if I had understood gyms, because Moltres is my least favorite legendary bird and red is my least favorite color of the three.  Sigh.  At this point though, even if they introduce a mechanic to switch teams, I’m not sure that I would.

In non-Pokémon-related news, I bought a new car about a month and a half ago.  It’s been at the point for a long time now that with my back/nerve problem, driving a sports compact with a manual was making less and less sense.  This is one of the few things I haven’t posted about on social media, mostly because it almost feels like bragging, when in reality I liked my BRZ a lot and had planned to keep it for a long time otherwise, and now I just want to be comfortable.  My new car has Apple CarPlay, by the way, which I will say is awesome and I don’t think I’d buy another car that didn’t either come with it or couldn’t be upgraded to it via an aftermarket unit.

Also, I think it goes without saying here that this election is ridiculous.  Anyone that knows me probably knows who I’m voting for, but I will say it is nice to have Bernie out of the picture.  To me, he’s been the most frustrating politician to emerge out of the woodwork this season, demagoguing his way into relevancy in a near-Trumpian fashion, only to sell out in the end to the very establishment he claimed to be so separate from.  What a joke.  He honestly cannot fade back into obscurity quickly enough.

So that’s that for a while.  Happy Pokémon hunting.  :)

My writing projects for the past ~7 months

I finished up a novel that began with a story I wrote three and a half years ago called Tracks (which is the working title of the novel as well).  I went over it once for editing then set it aside and began something else.  Unless I like Tracks a whole lot better when I go back to it for a second round of editing, I don’t think I’ll publish it.  It doesn’t feel cohesive and has what I feel is too much confusing exposition in the dialogue.  I do really like the first chapter, though, and it stands alone just fine as a story if you’d like to read it via the link above.

The other work I began writing is yet another story I started a couple years ago that has a working title of SASPER.  It’s probably my most ambitious work of fiction thus far, mostly because it’s cyberpunk, which is technically science fiction, and science fiction can go horrendously wrong if you don’t pay attention to details, do proper world-building, use real science amidst the fiction, etc.  One thing I’m doing with this novel that I don’t normally do is use real places by name, and another is to generally not care about chapter lengths.  Anyone remember that chapter of As I Lay Dying that’s just a single sentence?  I’m not doing anything that dramatic, but you get the idea.

SASPER feels like it’s somewhere between a third and a half of the way done, but I don’t ever set length expectations for total number of words or anything like that, other than 50,000 or more since that’s technically the minimum for a novel.  When finished, SASPER will be my fourth completed novel, and if I feel like it’s good enough to publish, then probably my second published novel.  So far, I feel like it’s on track to meet that goal, unlike Tracks.

Another interesting thing of note is that I wrote Tracks in first person perspective in past tense, but for SASPER, I switched back to third person present tense like I used in the novel I wrote based off of The Redwoods (which is my one published novel).  I really like something about this particular perspective/tense combination, even though there are times when it’s really hard to stay in the right tense.

Lily and Mochi

I have been pretty terrible at updating my blog for the past three or four years.  I know I say this often, but I’m going to rectify that with a little life update post right now.

LilyPretty much everyone that reading this already knows about Lily, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi that Sam and I picked up on June 7, 2013.  She was born on March 17th, 2013, which is the day St. Patrick’s Day fell on that year.  Her breeders called her “Patty” because of this (yes, I know it’s St. Paddy’s Day, not St. Patty’s Day).
She was 8.2 lbs when we got her (most of it ears, probably).  We picked her up when she was 11 weeks old, which means she was a little bigger than most puppies are when people usually pick them up (~8 weeks).  We would’ve gotten her earlier if it were possible, but it wasn’t, and it certainly didn’t deter us.

When we first started looking into getting a corgi, I didn’t know that there were two breeds: Pembrokes and Cardigans.  Lily (as I mentioned) is the former of the two, which is the most popular breed.  Apparently there are around 20 Pembrokes to every Cardigan.  We picked getting a Pembroke I think mostly based on their popularity and that they’d be easier to find.

I wanted a tri-color at first (white/black/tan, etc), but I wasn’t really super picky about that.  The more I looked at pictures of puppy and adult corgis, the more I liked the tan and white color combination and changed my mind as to what I would prefer.  I don’t remember if Sam had any preferences regarding whether the puppy was a boy or girl, but she also wasn’t particularly concerned about the color.  So though I had my preferences, color wasn’t strict, but the sex of the puppy was (the men in my family swear that girl dogs are easier to train and are more well-behaved in general, and they’ve had plenty of dogs).

LilySam happened to find a breeder that had one girl left in tan and white, which was exactly what we wanted, if we’d been given the choice.  I’m certain Lily could’ve been any color and we’d have still wanted her, but that’s just the way it happened to work out!  The breeder was trying to figure out if she was going to make “Patty” a show dog, and I think she probably would’ve had she not been “mis-marked”.  Show dogs have to be marked a certain way or they’re not eligible to show, and puppies’ markings are a bit hard to discern when they’re young.  It turned out that Lily’s face is half tan, half white, and definitely not symmetrical, so she was considered mis-marked.

That means that breeder had one extra unclaimed puppy right at the time that Sam reached out to her, which in the corgi world, is very unlikely.  You typically have to put your name on a waiting list and be willing to wait half a year or more to get an AKC, purebred corgi puppy not from a puppy mill.

LilyLily is now a full grown, 23.5 lb spoiled brat dog.  She’s a little small for an adult female corgi (I think they’re usually 25-28 lbs), but she’s very majestic when she’s not sleeping.  She listens halfway-decently to commands in the house, but at the dog park or around strange people or situations, she generally doesn’t care what we have to say to her.  She loves other dogs, and these days, she’s well-behaved enough to be left in the house for a while without worrying about her.  Lily has a very sweet, playful personality, and like most corgis, she’s very loyal and constantly wants to be around us (or at least in the same room as us).

Interesting tidbit about Lily – most Pembrokes have their tails docked soon after they are born as part of a tradition that doesn’t really mean anything anymore (corgis are herders and originally their tails were docked so livestock wouldn’t step on and injure their tails; these days I think it’s only still done as tradition of the breed).  However, I think Lily is a natural bobtail, as there is absolutely no trace of a tail anywhere on her butt, whereas with most dogs who’ve had their tail docked, there’s a little nub.

After we had Lily for a while, we knew we wanted another corgi.  This time, however, I was pretty adamant: I wanted a merle blue Cardigan girl.  Sam, luckily for me, is just not picky about that kind of stuff, so she was all for it.  This is, without a doubt, the most sought-after Cardigan combination, so out of the already hard to find Cardigans, a blue girl would be even harder.  We put our names on a breeder’s waiting list back in May of this year, expecting to get a puppy around January if the breeder had a mis-marked blue girl (as popular as blue girls are as show dogs, there’s not a large chance the breeder would give one up unless it was mis-marked or they were lucky enough to have two in the same litter).

Sam reached out to this breeder again a couple of months ago to check and see if anything had changed, and everything was still on track for him to have puppies available in January.  However, just a week or two later, he reached out to us with news that one of his breeder friends had a blue girl available the very next weekend because someone had to back out due to some very unfortunate circumstances involving a family member.  Sam reached out to that breeder, she sent us pictures and info, and we immediately knew we wanted her.

MochiThe breeder called her “Star,” and she was incredibly mis-marked in probably the best way possible.  About three-quarters of her face is white, with a black ring around her right eye and a patch of brown and merled blue going back to her ear on the same side.  Her left eye is brown and her right eye is three-quarters blue and a quarter brown.  It’s super cool, and I absolutely love heterochromia in dogs (and in general it’s pretty interesting).  Of course, most of her body is merle blue and white, but she has a splotch of brown on her back feet and a band of it around one of her front legs.

We named her Mochi (yes, like the Japanese pounded rice snack).  The day we picked her up, October 3rd, she turned 9 weeks old (her birthday is August 3rd) and weighed 7.1 lbs.  Her front paws are about as big as Lily’s, and so are her ears, even though she’s so little.  I think this is due to the breed difference, as Pembrokes and Cardigans do vary just a little in physical appearance since they are technically separate (yet very closely related) breeds.

MochiCardigans supposedly are slightly less friendly to strangers than Pembrokes, and (again, supposedly) have a few other personality differences from Pembrokes, but I have yet to be able to tell the difference.  Perhaps it’s because Mochi is so young and we’ve only had her for a little over three weeks, but the way that she interacts with us and the people that have met her seems incredibly familiar to how Lily acted.  Although, I must admit that neither Sam nor I can remember if Lily squirmed quite as much when being held at Mochi’s age, and Mochi definitely barks a bit more than I remember Lily barking when we leave her alone in her crate.

Because Lily likes and gets along so well with other dogs, I never really had any doubt that Lily would have issues with another dog in the house.  She was at first very suspicious, and spent most of the first day doing various things that apparently “asserted her dominance,” according to the Interwebs.  By the second day, though, a lot of that had already faded, and they started playing and doing all of the fun things that dogs do together.  Lily is a very kind big sister to Mochi, or at least I like to think.  Sometimes she bites Mochi’s tail when they’re playfighting, which is kind of funny since Mochi can’t do that back.

Lily and MochiOne of the benefits of having a young adult dog while having a new puppy is that Lily is a good babysitter for Mochi.  With Lily, we had to constantly pay attention to her because we were all she had to play with.  Anyone that’s ever had a puppy probably knows how exhausting that is.  As cute as they are, they’re a handful, and though I’ll miss Mochi being tiny, I do look forward to the day where she stops biting everything and peeing in the house.  It’s nice to be able to leave Lily out when we go to the movies or whatever and not have to worry about her destroying anything or feel bad about having to keep her in a crate.

Anyway, so now we have two dogs, and it’s pretty great, because dogs are the best.

1-Month Gluten-Free Trial

That nerve issue I wrote about at the end of last year never went away.  It’s pretty much a permanent thing at this point, so I kinda have to learn to deal with it.  But hey, there could be worse things!

Anyway, I’ve been to a lot of doctors and done a lot of research on the Internet, and out of desperation, I decided to try going gluten-free for a month, since at this point, the doctors don’t know what’s wrong and just want me to go to pain management clinics.  For the record, if you don’t have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance (which, yes, some people do have), going gluten-free is a total bullshit fad, but that fad has actually helped out people that suffer from gluten-related problems.  There are lots more options for those people on the market now, which I guess is the point of this post.

I went full blown gluten-free for a month, because gluten can cause inflammation (which can cause nerve issues) if you have a gluten intolerance.  This meant I basically acted like I had celiac disease for a month: no wheat, rye, or barley; no foods that shared processing equipment with gluten, and no foods that shared preparation equipment with gluten.  In the past, that might’ve been difficult to do, but these days, it actually wasn’t so bad.

Going gluten-free seems to be more annoying than it is difficult, especially if you have celiac disease.  If you’re just intolerant, you can probably handle cross-contamination a lot better than someone with celiac, but if you have celiac, eating out is almost definitely an ordeal.  Lots of things that should be naturally gluten-free can come into contact with equipment that processes gluten-containing items, which can make things difficult.  For example, Dominos has a gluten-free pizza, but they prepare and bake it in with the same kitchen equipment as their regular pizza, so it is almost certainly contaminated.  Pizza Hut, on the other hand, has their gluten-free pizza and the process they use to store and prepare it certified gluten-free, so theirs is probably safe.  There’s a lot of research that has to go into every decision you make involving anything that goes anywhere near your mouth.

If your significant other just ate a slice of bread, you better not kiss them.  Is your lip balm gluten-free?  Do you share hand-towels with someone that might’ve touched gluten-containing items and then wiped their hands or mouth?  That’s really the most annoying part of the whole process.  I only did it for a month and it ended up not helping me, but for someone that has to do it forever…that could be daunting.

Luckily in Baton Rouge, there is a bakery/restaurant specifically for people that follow diets that eliminate certain food allergens.  They have gluten-free “donuts,” cupcakes, and other pastries, as well as a menu of items that are gluten-free.  And almost every store I went to had a gluten-free section with some pretty interesting options.  The biggest issue, though, is that even when you can find alternatives to things you thought you may never be able to eat again, all of it ends up being pretty expensive.  That restaurant and all of the groceries I bought were probably 25-50% more expensive than comparable gluten-containing options.  As much as that sucks though, at least there are options.

Rice pasta, for example, is such a good imitation of wheat pasta that if it weren’t for the price tag, I wouldn’t care which one you served me.  Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta is $2 for a 16oz bag, whereas wheat pasta is almost half that price.  $2 for a bag of pasta isn’t that much, but a loaf of the best gluten-free bread I could find is EIGHT bucks.  And gluten-free bread is just straight up bleh unless you toast it, which only makes it less bleh.

So, it was an interesting experiment to step into those shoes for an entire month.  Unless you have celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten though, I’m pretty sure you’re crazy if you’re on a gluten-free diet.

The Two Most Useful Credit Cards for the Average Person

Disclaimer: If you don’t pay off your credit card every month, rewards cards are useless.  This post is targeted to people that responsibly use credit and pay their statement balance in full, every month.  I know I say this a lot, but if this isn’t how you use your credit card, you should cut it up into pieces and throw it away unless you are jobless and require it for food.  Also, I am not a financial adviser, yadda yadda.

Without further ado, here are the two most useful credit cards for the average person in terms of benefits they offer.

The SallieMae MasterCard is the most used and most useful card in my wallet.  This card offers the most lucrative cashback options for me and probably for most people.  It is structured as follows:

  • 5% cashback on gasoline purchases, up to $250/month
  • 5% cashback on grocery store purchases, up to $250/month
  • 5% cashback on bookstore purchases, up to $750/month

How businesses are categorized (for all credit cards) is based on their Merchant Category Code.  Many cards that offer cashback on groceries have specific exclusions for stores like Target and Walmart.  This card does not, and it is based solely on the MCC.  This means that most Walmart Supercenters and Super Targets count for 5% cashback under the grocery MCC.  It also means that Amazon.com purchases count as 5% cashback under the bookstore MCC.

Most of my purchases are groceries, Amazon, and gas, probably in that order.  That means as long as I fall within those monthly limits, I always get 5% cashback on the majority of my purchases.

The points can be redeemed as statement credit, and they post pretty quickly to your account.  You don’t need to have a SallieMae student loan or to be a student or anything like that.  All you need is good FICO score, around 690 according to Doctor of Credit.  There are no annual fees.

The second most useful card in my wallet is the Citi Double Cash Card.  This card offers 1% cashback on all purchases and 1% cashback on all on-time payments, which means, effectively, this card gives you 2% cashback.  To boot, there are no limits to how much cashback you can earn every month/year.  There are very few cards out that that offer this level of cashback (only one other personal card that I know of).   The biggest downside to this card is that there is no sign up bonus at all, and you need to have excellent credit, the safest bet is probably in the mid 700s, but I’ve seen people get approved in the lower 700s as long as the rest of the credit report is pretty decent.

Most cashback cards – and probably most reward cards in general – come with benefits like extended warranties on things you purchase, so besides that and the cashback, this card comes with some additional great perks.  My personal favorite perk is Price Rewind, which basically lets you get reimbursed up to a certain amount (I think it’s like $300) if something you bought goes on sale within 60 days.  They even have a feature that can track prices for you and automatically/easily submit the claim, but it’s admittedly not very good at finding lower prices (you can submit prices yourself, though, so it’s all good).  Still, I’ve gotten an $8 credit from it.  And no annual fee.

Citi also offers damage and theft protection on your purchases for up to 120 days, so if you buy an iPhone, break it three weeks later, and don’t have AppleCare+, you can just submit a claim to Citi.  I haven’t used that benefit yet, or many of the others, but it’s nice to know they’re there.

So, those are the two best personal credit cards (for most people) in my opinion.  These are both, however, MasterCards, so I’d like to mention some runner-ups.  American Express Blue Cash Everyday is decent on rewards, but the real reason to consider this card is for AMEX offers.  I’ve only had this card for a few months and so far it’s saved me $180 in AMEX offers on things I was already purchasing, and gotten me about $25 in other random AMEX promotions.  AMEX also has accident protection for purchases up to 90 days.  My second runner up is the Discover IT card, mostly because they usually have pretty good 5% rotating categories, they have a great shopping portal where you can earn additional cashback at certain stores pretty easily, and their customer service is great.  I’ve gotten around $220 back with their Price Protection benefit, which is similar to Citi’s Price Rewind except there’s no automatic tracker, and it’s for 90 days instead of 60.

Shameless self-promotion: SallieMae and Citi don’t do referral bonuses, but if you happen to be interested in the AMEX or Discover cards I mentioned, comment below or Tweet/email/message me somehow and I’ll get you a referral link.  It would get me like $50 and you’d still get your regular signup bonus if one is available.

10-7-2015 edit:  Barclay stopped offering the Sallie Mae MasterCard.  They’ll probably remove the reward categories as well, but no movement on that yet as of this date.  It’s a real tragedy in the credit card world, but life goes on.

Financial Responsibility (Part 2)

I’ve ranted about financial responsibility before, but that was over two years ago, and I think it’s about that time again.

I frequent the personal finance subreddit, and though I don’t post there much, reading some of the things people come up with blows my mind.  Today, someone asked if they should take a loan from the bank to build a nest egg.  This question essentially boils down to “should I pay interest on a loan that I don’t currently need and may never need?”

To give credit where it’s due, at least this person recognized their own ignorance and asked before doing something so stupid, but I mean…come on, seriously?

I also recently found out that the average car loan in America is for ~67 months.  SIXTY SEVEN MONTHS.  That’s over five years.  Absolutely, completely mind-blowing.  If you have to finance a car for 5 years, you cannot afford that car.  It’s astounding what people will do when they have a bad case of the “wants.”

And I just want to stress here again, credit cards aren’t free money like most people seem to think (current average credit card debt: $15,863), but I’d like to add that if you pay off the statement balance in full every month, they actually can be free money.  Credit cards are an amazing tool when treated with responsibility.  Cash back, return protection, protection against unauthorized charges (as opposed to draining your bank account if someone steals your debit card info), price matching, rental car benefits, sign up bonuses, and the list goes on.  But if you don’t pay them off in full every month, you are digging yourself into a hole.

Guys, money controls almost every single aspect of your life whether you like it or not.  If you’re not willing to spend a small amount of time to learn about the basic do’s and don’ts of personal finance, you are doing yourself and anyone that relies on you a great disservice.


I guess this is sort of an obligatory “beginning of 2015” post, so here’s what’s up:

  • My halfway-joking resolution is to rewatch Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien sometime this year because I haven’t watched it since 2012.
  • My real resolution is probably to blog more often.  I have been doing pretty good with that recently thanks to my ridiculous long gadget reviews, so I’d like to keep that up.  Definitely not as long, but more often.
  • 2014 was a pretty good year, and I don’t really have much to complain about except for developing sciatica or some other nerve issue in my left side in September/October.  Chiropractor said sciatica, but most people I’ve talked to about sciatica say that it’s debilitating, and whatever I have doesn’t seem that bad.  Gotta head to a real doctor soon and see if maybe I have skinny pants syndrome or something else.

Happy 2015 everyone!

Raw Denim

Since becoming more actively interested in male fashion a few years ago, it seems like I’ve gone through product phases.  One of the first things I did was to replace all of my pants – most of which were slim, but bootcut, with slim straight or tapered fits.  From 2011 until March of this year, I really only wore one pair of jeans – my UB101s (which have faded nicely, by the way).  Then I replaced t-shirts, then button up dress shirts, then button-down shirts.

Of course I replaced shoes and have been adding onto that collection throughout most of the past few years, and this is probably the only area I haven’t really slowed down in.  But lately, I’ve been back into the raw denim thing.  I picked up a pair of Pure Blue Japan xx-005‘s in March, and I have been really taken by the detail and texture.

PBJ Patch

It’s a 14 oz denim (UB101’s are 14.5), which is mid-weight, and features PBJ’s famous slubby denim (this is responsible for the texture).  Unfortunately, PBJ doesn’t really have any skinny fits, but they do have some pretty slim straight and tapered fits, so I picked up the former for a bit of a change (UB101s are slim with a slight taper).

All of the research that went into the purchase of my PBJ’s has made me aware of other styles and kinds of denim that I was only vaguely familiar with before, and now I’m pretty interested in picking up a lightweight, 10 oz pair of Momotaro jeans for the summer.  I mostly wear shorts on weekends when it’s hot, but some days I don’t, and I wear jeans to work most of the time.  As with shoes, some people suggest a jean rotation, so I may do that.  I don’t think this is as necessary as it is with shoes since jeans don’t really need to dry out as much, but I can appreciate the idea of a rotation nonetheless.  My UB101s are still great for casual wear, but they’re a little too faded to wear to work anymore.

If anyone that reads this is interested in raw denim, I would love to talk to you about it if you have questions.

A Decade of Blogging

I just realized that I’ve officially been blogging for over a decade.  I started this blog in 2006, but the original “Phil’s Waste-of-Bandwidth Website” blog started in March 2004 and ran on Greymatter for a couple of years until I switched to WordPress.

The WayBack Machine has a snapshot of my original blog from June/July/August of 2004…sort of cringey to read, but it’s there!