Monday, July 23, 2012

Recent Past Update

Let's see, it's been an eventful July so far. The hard part is over... or the hard part that we knew of at the beginning of the month, that hard part is over. There's another hard part coming up.

We started out with Rebecca's birthday. That kind of fell apart: I had one idea for a party that didn't see fruition, and I tried to coordinate another party with a friend but didn't follow through on it, so he assumed the event was canceled. Which, in practice, it was. I tried to make up for that with some interesting gifts, one particularly hard to retrieve, so I hope Rebecca felt special even if she's married to a procrastinator.

Mid-month was when we moved out of the East Isles apartment (above Tao Natural Foods) and into the Fulton apartment, half a mile from the pricey 50th & France shopping district. The move did not go smoothly: Rebecca underestimated the outlandish volume of property we've accrued, so it took two guys four hours, instead of one hour, to move it all into the truck. But they called a third guy, and we pitched in, so we got it all hustled into the Fulton apt. within 45 minutes.

"I'm not an omen, but I can see how you'd be confused."
The Fulton apartment... I thought it was ungainly and queer, but Rebecca was convinced we'd love it and could make it work. That was before the inundation of off-gassing toxins from the new carpet in the front room (a long, narrow catwalk created by building a facade over the recessed front wall of the building) and the staircase; before we found the dead bird in the bathroom; before our as-promised free washer and dryer were swapped out with coin-op machines. Yes, they stripped the carpet and polished up a wonderful hardwood floor in two rooms. Yes, they installed a nice ceiling fan in what we're using for a bedroom. No, there are no light switches in any of the rooms, except one in the kitchen that doesn't seem to control anything. No, we have no idea how to supply power to the lights in the basement: sometimes they're on and sometimes they're off. No, we don't know where the water leak or the dead mice are coming from in the basement. Yes, the landlords have agreed to release us from our lease.

Friday, July 13, 2012

No Bicyclist Left Behind

"Trail Closed July 9, Two Weeks"? That couldn't possibly apply to me or this trail.

Most Minneapolis-based cyclists are famous for their hyper-illiteracy. Not only can they not read small words like "STOP" or "ONE WAY" or "No Bikes on Sidewalk," they have proven inability to decipher simple pictograms or icons, like the big orange "do not walk" sign at red lights... or red lights themselves. Those glaring images, intuitive to small children, elude the comprehension of so-called bicycle enthusiasts in the Twin Cities.

Well, now, here's something else. After a career of ignoring the bikes-only STOP signs at either end of the Franklin bike bridge (like the oft-neglected bikes-only STOP signs lining the Greenway), now Minneapolis cyclists are also not paying attention to posted signs ordering cyclists to not use the bridge or the bike trail along Lyndale, between Franklin and Loring Park. Further, they're also not paying attention to enormous road blocks, either.

Comically oversized, two-lane wooden barrier dominating the bike trail? That couldn't possibly apply to us or our bikes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Poor Online Representation

I run a few blogs, loosely, lazily. I update them whenever. It was easier to do when I was unemployed because I could undertake larger writing projects, but it was also harder because I was locked up in my apartment and not subject to new experiences.

One of my blogs is all about writing, stationery, the postal system, stuff like that. Three years ago I wrote a little post about some odd stamps I found in my childhood. We'd just moved to a new house in Canton, MI, and in one of the cupboards was a small wax envelope from the post office with a collection of several international stamps. The stamps I'd chosen to write about were (ostensibly) from the South Moluccas.

I know nothing about the South Moluccas. My public education system never mentioned them once. I didn't have any Dutch friends so they never came up in conversation ("So, what indigenous tribes did your ancestors attempt to wipe out in their pursuit of wealth?" "Funny story..."). When I wrote that blog post, I had to do some cursory online research—my favorite kind—to have anything to talk about. I summed up their history from both a philatelic and a governmental perspective, so I thought.
In the last two years this post has attracted some unpleasant people, ranging from mildly to overtly. Here's my original post, and you can scroll down and read Justin's response. His response is familiar in that it's a pretty typical fanboy reaction: greet the author with condescension, then show off your specialized interest in a topic. Given that he doesn't have much of a Blogger profile or any blogs, I suspect he only started an account to comment on my blog. I specifically block anonymous posts because I believe anonymity is an open invitation to jackassery.

This belief is borne out by the next comment, that of someone calling himself malukucollection. He has a blog with exactly one post: I suspect he lost interest immediately. The templated layout is in Dutch, you'll note, so for some reason he still has a vested interest in these islands, and apparently I'd touched a nerve. (He deleted his response but I got an e-mail alert when it came in.)

malukucollection has left a new comment on your post "Republik Maluku Selatan":
Christian go back school asshole 

My contact with these individuals began and ended with those posts. I didn't respond to them: there's no point. I don't believe in responding to hostility (in contrast with every celebrity on Twitter). But they introduced themselves to me and, in as many words as they chose to employ, gave me as much as I needed to know about them. Justin's a little snotty and kind of a know-it-all. Malukucollection's grasp of English is better than my grasp of Dutch, but he still comes off as an asshole. And that is all I know about them.

Incidents like this make me keenly self-conscious when I comment on other people's posts, respond to their tweets, write up customer responses, etc. Someone generally does read these things and they react to what I write. Only a few times have I been embarrassed to have one of my rants responded to with a thoughtful and much more diplomatic approach than I'd used, by a manager or an owner or a writer. I didn't like being called out only because I didn't like having represented myself poorly, so now I try to avoid that.

Obviously, not everyone shares this philosophy.