Saturday, December 6, 2014

Self portraits

I was thinking earlier about the way that I conceptualize who I am, and I got to thinking about the way that I draw myself, and what those representations say.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Inktober Highlights

I doubt if those of you who are interested in my artistic escapades have missed these, since I've been whoring my stuff all over the internet--supposedly that's supposed to make a difference and make anyone at all care about my art or my goals--but I figured in the name of consistency and stalling on my already behind NaNoWriMo novel, I'd post them here too.

Those mostly don't suck. I missed three days total during the month, which I suppose isn't bad. I do feel like I got a little better at using pen, which is something I've been wanting to improve basically forever, so I guess that was good. 

I find a like doing these month long challenges. I did a 30 day yoga series just before/during this, and I've theoretically started NaNoWriMo again. We'll see if that one happens. I've been kind of done with life, the universe, and everything lately, so finding anything in myself that genuinely desires to create or express myself has been a struggle. Right now I'm kind of waiting to see if a hugely personal, emotional outburst will find its way out of me, but so far I've remembered that I don't actually want to do that.

Oh, and here's my Halloween costume. I was busy the whole day, which is why I didn't end up drawing.
I tied in the costume contest at my sister's bar, so that was kind of cool. 

Back to my hole I go.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Here's a video. Please watch.

"If not me, who? If not now, when?" I know it's almost fifteen minutes, but everyone should watch this.

Gender equality is an ongoing fight, you guys, and we need all of the feminists in the world, men, women, and children, to step up and be open and critical. We need to have those conversations and educate ourselves and each other and start talking about and solving those problems that we, as a society, are still fighting. 

Be proud to call yourself a feminist. It does not make you a man-hater, or a dyke, or brimming with penis envy. It isn't about "women's issues." It means you are a compassionate, aware human being that cares about and is willing to fight for the rights of your fellow humans.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Some Brain Spew on Weight Loss

Urg, internet. I'm all annoyed now, and it's not even about the subject of today's rant. It's making me want to start a tangent rant about stupid people and pet ownership. And empty threats and complaints without the intent of correction. But, I should probably leave all that to the side since it's all just happening right now in my real life. This is the price of suddenly being surrounded by young adults who think they know what they're doing.

Anyway, I've been weirdly focused on food lately, and at work today I heard a radio commercial that just filled me with horror and irritation, and then I decided to write a blog post about it.

There I was, filling up egg pans before the morning rush, half listening to the classic rock station, and then this commercial came on for a weight loss center. They advertised for both "natural and chemical" weight loss methods, as well as single day visits and lifestyle/nutrition counselors to help you half-ass your way into being skinny.

At first glance, there wasn't really anything wrong with the ad, but it still infuriated me, because I hate--hate with a fiery, righteous passion-- this idea of losing weight for the sake of being skinnier. There's this disgusting focus on that, and it's everywhere. If a celebrity isn't skeletal or impossibly toned, people will comment on their figure, and it's this idiotic expectation that everyone in the entire world should look that way. There's no regard for health, body type, psychology, motivation, method, or diversity. It's all about results. Really, a singular, poisonous result.

Here's the ugly truth, boys and girls: people have different body types. They're shaped differently. Not everyone can be slim, shapely, and muscular. In fact, almost no one is all three of those because of their intrinsic contradictions in a body, and the way that we are about being thin and about eating, no one is really likely to be.

The thing is, that's not an ugly truth. Those aren't ugly bodies. Healthy bodies are not ugly. I say that as an artist with an ongoing love affair with the human shape. I love drawing the figure, but I don't love only drawing hourglass shaped women (as much as I love my sexy pin-up girls), and I don't only love drawing Superman. When I took figure drawing, my favorite models were the ones that were interesting to look at and fun to talk to, and that usually means not having a conventionally beautiful or symmetrical face.

But that's not exactly where I originally meant to go. This whole obsession with an end without regard to anything else, like whether it's healthy, or longterm, or even beneficial is one of the things that's been on my mind a lot. It shows up in Western culture a lot, but especially education, medicine, and this.

I watched Forks Over Knives the other day, along with a whole mess of Ted Talks about food and health and whatnot, and it really made me start thinking about the way that we relate to our food,
("How can anyone have a relationship to food?" Shrinking Women)
and more and more I notice how profoundly sickening it is the majority of the time. People eat the worst crap all of the time, and then complain about health problems caused directly by their laziness and gluttony.

How can you be shocked that you're overweight or diabetic when you eat garbage all the time?

Most of the stuff I was watching contended that the majority of health problems we have in Western culture are totally preventable and even the existing, chronic ailments can be mitigated by controlling what we put in our body.

But doing that requires putting in effort. We don't want to be healthier or feel better. We want to wear a bikini and eat a gallon of icecream. Why do things that benefit your body and mental health when you can just throw money and pills at it, or become a slave to self-denial?

I think this will need to explode into a few different posts. There's too much that I'm trying to say right now, and it's getting very muddled and confusing, so I'll stop now and try to sort my thoughts a little. I think it can break down into two or three separate topics. They're just all very tangled together.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's official

I made a Tumblr account, so now, if you so desire, you can see more art stuff from me, and follow the updates there.

Honestly, this is mostly because I'm kind of floundering. I've spent the last six months trying to get a tattoo apprenticeship, and the last year and a half trying to do something real with my art. Tumblr is a good way to get my art further "out there" and maybe create an actual audience/market for my stuff, from what I've learned in spite of trying to pretend it doesn't exist due to my hatred and disdain for most of the people I know that use it.

Art is really the only thing I actually want to do. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember, and since I was like nine or ten years old, I've been actively working to improve and expand what I can do, and because of that, my art is pretty good. Not great, but pleasing to look at and still improving. And spending so long with no practical results is starting to wear on me.

It's hard to want to make art when everything in me feels so gross ninety percent of the time. Art can save you sometimes, from whatever is going on, but sometimes it's too far away to reach.

So once I stop mechanically doing hand studies and anatomy practice that no one is ever going to see, I'll try and start posting real work again. Maybe finish the four or five pieces I started ages ago. In the mean time, I'll keep dragging my portfolio around the city and smiling hopelessly while every artist I talk to says my work is good and full of potential, but they still don't want me.

Sorry. That got way too personal. I hate writing about garbage like that here. But it's written so, why not hit post and get on with my day?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Contradiction Between Beauty and Ink

Hello, faithful audience. Do you feel smothered yet, or is this a nice break from my months of silence?

I actually haven't decided if I'll post all of these existing blogs I've written over the past few weeks all at once, or if I ought to space it out over a week or two. There's a very real danger of some of them never seeing the light of day (or at least the cold, artificial light of your computer screens) if I don't post them all once I have the internet at my place. It ought to be soon, because we twenty-somethings can't survive too long without Netflix.

On a side note, I'm officially blaming Facebook for my frequent silences on my blog. I always check it early in my cycle of websites, and after spending fifteen minutes on Facebook, I usually just want to get off the computer. That, and my social life. Since I've moved, I spend much more time alone, and therefore not discussing these things with actual people.

So, in theory, if I became a hermit, I would probably start posting like twice a week. So if anyone rabidly wants my thoughts published here, feel free to maroon me somewhere awesome. I only speak English fluently with some French and Spanish, so there's a whole mess of countries to choose from.

Anyway! I could write a whole other post about the internet and the weird combinations of isolation and community and artistic productivity, but now I'm going to talk about what I actually started with before I got distracted by kittens and musing about the internet.

There I was at work on sunday morning, taking orders and running the register, when this old dude and I start talking about my tattoo, and the conversation ended with, “You're too pretty to do any more of that.”

And then I laughed, because that's the career I'm planning on, and it's a three-quarter sleeve we're talking about. I've never seen anyone one get a sleeve and stop there. Aside from the three other tattoos I already have, I've got a few more planned.

But what I'm not clear on is the thinking behind what he said. Does having tattoos make me less pretty? No. I look exactly the same. My tattoo artist has told me several times I have wonderful skin; it's pale and smooth and it holds color really well, so it's suited beautifully for tattoos.

Also, why would tattoos make me look bad when having brightly colored hair isn't a problem? If the argument there was for the natural body being the ideal, why, sir, are you running around clean-shaven with glasses and a crew-cut?

I've never understood why it's okay to artificially color your hair blonde or black or red, but not to have pink or green or blue hair. None of those are your "natural hair" color, and if it exists on the color spectrum, it's technically a “natural” color. Blue appears in nature, as do the materials used to make things change color.

How is your burgundy hair with platinum blonde highlights any more professional than my pink and black hair?

I've tangented. Sorry.

My point here is that I don't get why people have a problem with some body modifications. If they're sanitary and not dangerous, who cares what people look like? Nature creates some impressive freaks, so why do we have issues with people altering themselves to suit their own preferences. And I say this as someone who opposes screwing with your natural body in most ways.

But I want to decorate my body the same way that I decorate my space. It's very similar for me to put art on my body and to put art on my walls.

I'm not talking about sex-changes, or cosmetic surgery, or whatever right now. That's probably a different post. During which I'll have to talk about the tiger guy, or the puzzle piece dude, or the tattooed, skin-condition girl, and horns and such.

I just don't get why people seem to be offended by tattoos. Over half the population over eighteen years old has at least one. And lots of people have tons. They're common and loads of perfectly respectable people of all ages have them.

Also, why do they feel like they have the right to tell me what I should and shouldn't do with my body? Do these people also go up to petite girls and say, “you're too pretty to have any babies. What do you think those hips are going to look like when you get old?” Or fat people?

I suspect this ties into all of the madness with everyone making women feel like they aren't allowed to have autonomous bodies. Maybe that's my feminism talking, but I seriously doubt that men ever hear that bollocks.

Seriously. Can you imagine seeing anyone go up to a twenty-something guy and saying, “you're too handsome for tattoos. What will you look like when you get old?”

My answer for that was, “I'll look like this, but older.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Problem with Relativists

Hello, future audience. This whole not having internet thing has been interesting. Kind of a mixed-blessing type deal, but I'm kind of over it now. I do feel kind of cool right now thinking about the fact that the things I'm writing right this second are going to be read by future Taryn and a handful of other future people. It makes me think of Stephen King talking about how writing is basically telepathy across time in On Writing. (Which is a fantastic read. I highly recommend it.)

Anyway! The topic at hand, in case you weren't aware is Relativism and why I hate it. More specifically, it's relativists and why I hate talking to them. About relativism, anyway.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a really interesting conversation with a few people at a friend's house, because I hang out with the kind of people where we were all sitting at my friend's kitchen table (Michael, if you ever read this, I mean you), all having just made shots and drinks and whatnot, and his roommate sat down and started a discussion about the difference between ethics and morality. We spent a decent while on that, defining each and discussing our individual conceptions of both, but then we necessarily turned to the idea of objective/subjective morality, which is what we spent the majority of the night talking about.

I gave our lone relativist kudos for facing both me and Michael undaunted, since we both have some similar views on the cosmos and its objectivity, and I get very loud and animated when I argue.

Anyway, the whole thing ended with me demanding to know why he was even arguing with me if all of our perceptions were equally valid.

This is my issue with relativism, boys and girls: If everyone is right, then you can not, by the very nature of your argument, argue with me about anything. In a subjective universe, my perception dictates my entire reality and it is all just as true as yours is.

If you espouse that, then you can't even try to defend that, because every argument will go, “You're wrong because blah blah blah.”

“That's your reality, and that's what's true for you.”

No defense. Not even disagreement. Because you can't disagree with anyone about anything because it all becomes a matter of individual opinion.

For some things that's a totally sensible way of doing things. Like, when I say that icecream is probably the best thing in the world, and you say you're lactose intolerant, that's totally valid. I'll laugh at you and eat all of the icecream, but that is actually a thing that does depend on the individual, because it's a matter of preference that doesn't depend on an objective standard.

Let me be clear here. I believe in an objective reality that we necessarily experience subjectively by virtue of having individual perspectives. Morality and ethics are slippery things, but mostly they depend on having or not having an objective standard to refer to. I also don't take issue with people disagreeing with me. I had no problem with this guy being a relativist, apart from the fact that I think relativism is stupid and obviously flawed beyond use. Presumably he had reasons for arriving at the conclusions he did, just like me and everyone else.

My problem was that debating with a relativist is like having a cage match with a pacifist. It's a contradiction to the entire philosophy and a waste of everyone's time.

That said, I think humans might benefit from lending more validity to subjective experience. We seem to think that everyone who perceives differently from us is always wrong or threatening or inhuman. Empathy goes a long way in that respect.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I'd Rather Be Blogging

*This, my dear, deprived audience, was written not long after I moved, so like around three weeks ago. It's been sitting on my desktop with a few other files waiting for your voracious eyes.*

Hello, theoretical readers.

As I was on my way home today, beginning to roughly compose this post, I was originally planning on starting with an explanation of my sleep and internet deprivation, but then I went on a mental tangent, and now I feel the need for a sentimental side note.

I don't think you guys have any idea how much it actually means to me that I'm actually growing a real audience. Not so much on my blog, but as an artist aspiring to professional art, it makes me ecstatic to know that people not only like my work but actually want to see more of it. Every single Favorite, upvote, share, bookmark, like, and comment is a victory for the part of me that keeps insisting that maybe I could actually do this. So thanks for that, guys. You don't hear about me celebrating the number of followers I have (unless you've heard about my newly founded religion, that is), or being excited about my pageviews, but I totally do, so thanks for that, those of you who I know and those I don't. Almost more you guys, because you have no obligation to be supportive and you don't already love me as the shiny human thing I am.

Anyway, now that rubbish is out of the way and can't be unsaid (I say while typing in an unsaved document without internet), on to the actual ranting you guys really come here to read!

As previously mentioned, I was driving home from work today, and for at least half the drive, I was behind this guy with a bumper sticker that said, “I'd rather be riding my Harley Davidson” with the logo and all that nonsense.

Every single time I see those horrible bumper stickers“I'd rather be running, biking, swimming, kayaking, fishing, etc” (Can we tell I live near the mountains?)— I mentally scream, “No you wouldn't, dickhole! If you would actually rather be biking, you wouldn't be driving that douchey SUV!” Because they could be biking. That is a perfectly feasible way to travel in the city for like half the year. Even for things like rock-climbing, I still say “You could be.” No, you can't always be a responsible human being and only do the things you want to do all the time, but you also have the option to be be irresponsible and awesome.

Like many things, this annoyance translated to a larger issue in my head; very frequently, I hear people say “Oh, I wish I could do ____,” and my usual response is “So do it,” even to things like “I wish I could be a professional silk dancer in the circus,” or “I wish I lived in a house-boat,” or “I wish I could build a hover car.” Because usually what prevents people from doing those things, even the awesome ones like putting a ball pit trampoline room in their basements, is something as stupidly simple as that they just aren't willing to pursue it.

It's not a hugely complicated idea to pursue doing what you want to do. Yes, in practice, maybe it's a little (or a lot) more difficult to make a living as a professional Netflix Browser, but a lot of how possible that actually is depends on ow much work you're willing to put into it and how dedicated you are to making it happen. And I say that as someone who hopes to make my living by playing with paint and pens and tattoo equipment and computers.

It's like reading. I can't describe to you how cool it sounds to get paid for reading. In one of my recently favorite moves About Time, the protagonist's future wife tells him that she's a reader for a publishing house, and he says something like, “No. That's like saying, 'what do you do?' 'Oh, I'm a breather. I breathe for a living,'” and that's kind of how I feel about that idea. BUT I haven't gone around to publishers asking about becoming a reader or an editor, and do you know why? Apart from all of the inevitable disappointments and mountains of crap you'd have to read through, it's mostly because I haven't decided to do that and then taken steps to make that a reality.

Yes, biking to your job twelve miles away from where you live is going to be tiring and time-consuming and sweaty, but you could do it if you were willing to put in the work. And that's my problem, dear children. THEY DON'T ACTUALLY WANT TO.

Don't say you'd rather be doing something you aren't even trying to do. Either put your money and time and effort where your mouth is, or stop bitching that you want something else.

This is something I've definitely been learning for myself lately, and it's both awesome and frustrating. The days that I don't want to drive all the way down to the tattoo shop to sit and watch and talk and ask questions, or when the juices aren't flowing and I don't want to draw something crappy and uninspired, are the days that I put on my grownup voice that I use to ask small children if they want to lose the toy they're playing with, or miss snack, or sit in time-out, and go, “Rachel, how much do you actually want to make this happen?”

As a very eloquent, Floridian gentleman once said, “Nut up, or shut up.”

I'm Not Dead!

This is me, by the way. Coming out from under a rock.

I just thought I'd take a couple of minutes to let you guys know that I didn't cease to exist, or anything. I just was in the process of moving, and then I didn't have internet for the last month or so. But as of last night, my roommate and I (mostly me, since I don't have a smartphone) have rejoined the 21st century! I have a few posts already written from my time under a rock, so I'll post those over this next week or so.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where are the Disney MEN?

I apologize once again for my long absences, voracious readers. Sometimes time gets away from me, and I find that suddenly it's been months since ____. Lately there's also been lots of distracting things going on in real life, so even when I do think of exciting things I want to post about, I end up just stashing them in my juicy brain storage places, and there they molder sometimes. Like my post on the dreaded "Friendzone" and some surrounding issues, or my post on The Feminine Mystique and its relevance to my generation. (Both of which I still fully intend to write.)

Either way, I thought today I would write about the thought that struck me the other day, which was this:
Where are all the Disney men?

Disney is my childhood, and as a feminist, I've spent way too much time thinking about Disney, their princesses/other female protagonists, and how it relates to the way that women are treated and perceived by our culture. But the other day, someone posted on Facebook (my blogs come from this way too often lately), yet another of the squijillion covers of "Let It Go" from Frozen.

Even if you've never seen this movie and know literally nothing about it, you know every word to that song, and it fills you with fury.
Which is absurd, because the best songs in the entire movie are OBVIOUSLY
"Reindeer Are Better Than People," and "No Heat Experience."

This cover, though, was a genderbend. For those of you who live in a hole, this means that they changed the characters sex to the opposite one, in this case being a male Elsa prince thing with generic vocals to make the radio rock world proud.

But this got me thinking. Where are all the really good male Disney leads?? The actual men that we want to see portrayed as a positive representation of what men are like, or are supposed to be like (as in the case of all the princesses). I wracked my brains while washing dishes at work that day, and all I could come up with was Tarzan and Aladdin. And maybe Jim Hawkins. Is Treasure Planet Disney? I doubt it, but I love that movie.

Yes, I suppose you could argue that there's also Peter Pan and Pinocchio, but Peter is a gigantic prick and Pinochio is irrelevant to everyone. Honest John and his cat sidekick are the best part of that entire movie. 

Someday, I'll have a friend to dress up like this with me.

One of the things that struck me was that all of the male characters that immediately jumped to my mind for awesome, sympathetic, admirable, animated men were almost exclusively non-Disney, like Cale from Titan AE, or Dimitri from Anastasia (I'm sure it's a total coincidence that they also have almost the exact same character design.)

My point here--as I frolic gleefully away from it--is that we have this ridiculous double standard presented, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone question it. No one is upset that Prince Charming has even less personality than Cinderella, the most saintly, plain-whitebread-toast woman you can imagine. We spent so much time complaining about what Disney is doing to little girls and then praising characters like Belle and Mulan and Merida that I don't know if it ever occurs to anyone to ask what it does to our boys.


Captain Lee Shang from Mulan. There's another genuinely admirable, multi-faceted Disney man. He's overtly masculine, and yet still works with and for a strong, smart woman without being threatened by her, and he learns to adjust his culturally skewed notions of what women can and can not/should and should not do.

Interrupted thought over.

There's this Ted Talk that I think is very connected to this. It's about marginalizing men in the pursuit of feminism, which is just stupid for everyone. "Women's issues" are not just relevant to women. These issues are people issues, problems that we as a society and as species experience. Presenting weak, stupid, disproportionate women as idealized princesses is a serious problem, but I think making men irrelevant is also a very real problem. Boys are given the choice between choosing bad male role models, or weak, practically nonexistent ones. There's a whole set of gender expectations that little kids are being poisoned with, and that's exactly where we don't want to propagate the centuries of repression and violence. 

Not every girl wants to be a sylph-like damsel, so why can't we remember that not every boy wants to be a shining prince, or a cartoon animal?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Racist Comments

Let's talk about race, shall we? I have the fun experience of being a white female, which puts me in an interesting position somewhere between historically privileged and historically disenfranchised, and I'm also a noisily opinionated creature, which is unrelated to those things.

Someone on Facebook a while ago made the ignorant, painfully stupid comment that you can't be racist against white people, because apparently she understands neither the literal definition racism, or what constitutes a race, and since then I've been contemplating posting my two cents about racism and its place in the world that exists right now. Of course, I may not be the best person to talk about racism, simply because I don't get it. This has nothing to do with the fact that I am a white member of the middle class. I've experienced my share of bigotry, either firsthand or by proxy with people I'm close to. I don't get racism because I'm not a cave-dwelling douche. It makes no sense, and it has no place in a modern, global society. Hate people for something valid, guys, like something they can choose.

I've definitely had serious antipathy for several black people, and hispanic people, and asians, and lots of white people, but it had literally NOTHING to do with the color of their skin. Because that's literally the dumbest reason I can think of to hate someone. Even hating them for their clothing is more valid, because it's within their control and actually says something about their personality and preferences, even if that's still a superficial, weak reason to be prejudiced against someone.

I used to hear a lot of kids in my high school talking about slavery and Jim Crow laws with a chip on their shoulder. Does that seem stupid to anyone else? These kids were raised in a world where they didn't even experience anything remotely like that. Don't bitch at me about how your ancestors were enslaved by my ancestors, black kids. First of all, my ancestors were mostly in Sweden eating herring and not partaking in the "West Indies" slave trading (stupid Columbus, ruining terminology for the rest of time. "Look, it's not Europe! I must have gotten to India by now."). Second, Africans sold Africans to Europeans; selling prisoners of war and criminals and debtors as slaves is a time-honored tradition that every culture ever has participated in. Humans have been enslaving each other as long as they've lived in groups large enough to have enemies. Which brings me to my third point. Slavery is not a race issue anymore. If we're going to talk about slavery, why not concern yourselves with the slavery and human rights violations going on right now, you stupid people?

There is literally no reason to be racist anymore. It used to stem from the kind of fear and supremacist feelings that people have when encountering something alien to themselves. They aren't like us, therefore we immediately make this into an us and them polerization, and we have to win. But we are no longer surprised or frighted by people with different skin colors. Our maps no longer end with sea serpents and question marks. We know what's in our world, we know who lives here and what they look like. No, not every people group is intimately connected to every other, but in a time when you can talk to people on the other side of the planet instantaneously, how in the world can we still be dividing along the lines of race? That's just stupid.

So is hyphenating races, by the way. You shouldn't call yourself "African American" unless you are actually from both continents. If you immigrated, cool. The country/landmass your people come from has very little to do with your race except as Darwinian cause. White people shouldn't run around demanding to be called European Americans. And what would you call people from South America in that situation? What about the Brazilians descended from the Portuguese? Being the same color as the people of a place doesn't make you from there. If your people came from there and went somewhere else, you are not from there. It's so much absurdity.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Day, or Five Reasons to Become a Mechanic

Hello, audience. Believe it, or not, I've actually started several posts that kind of miscarried and never made it to finished and posted. Maybe someday they'll see the light of day, but today, I decided to share some thoughts stemming from my day.

In addition to getting up and working eight hours before noon, I got to take my car to the mechanic for some routine maintenance before I take a road trip next week. Isn't that just the best? Is there anything better than taking your car to a dubious stranger so that they can demand obscene amounts of money? It's probably my favorite thing.

I came to the conclusion today that I should become a mechanic. Screw my artistic aspirations and the apprenticeship I'm pursuing. Tattoos are clearly the wrong business, and here are five reasons why.

1. Appearing competent
When you work in a field like auto-repair, you have the comforting knowledge that 90% of your customers are completely ignorant. You tell them that a mischievous gnome has ripped holes in their car's mass air intake, and they'll probably nod sagely (so as to avoid looking incompetent or uneducated) and thank you for your attention to detail. And this is without even having to do any actual work to prove your ability. You could probably accomplish the exact same appearance of expertise simply by putting an oil-stained rag in your pocket and speaking authoritatively while standing in the office of a garage.
You can tell he's experienced by the way he's trying to use a wrench 
on a  tire attached to nothing. And he has coveralls!

2. Charging for your presence
The accepted term for this is "labor," but as far as I know these fees require no actual labor. Glancing over a car long enough to say, "Your front tires exploded and the hood is folded in half," counts as an inspection and therefore ground for labor costs. You can spend an hour in the same room as a car and it qualifies as billable time.

3. Innumerable reasons for fees
Cars, as you may or may not ("Meyer may not") know, are a complex, interdependent system, so that one problem may stem from many underlying issues, or the other way around (one underlying issue causing many problems, for those who couldn't quite keep up.), so there are a thousand different things that could be wrong, and each one of them is a reason to charge more. Because time is money. So the more theoretical time you might spend on a thing, or the more complex it is, the more you charge. See how that works? Potential time for a repair + actual amount of time spent on a repair + between two and four times the costs of parts + number of things that could potentially have been wrong = total bill.
So, if, for example, you could have spent eight hours on a repair, and you actually spent three, the part costs fifteen dollars, the problem was loosely connected to the exhaust system, and the moon is waning, you would charge the soul of their firstborn and two months wages. Simple, right?

4. No necessity to do actual work
Especially when you run your own place of business (this isn't limited to mechanics), there are often underlings of a lower pay grade whose sole existence is to perform grunge work, so when one is a mechanic and hired to fix an automobile, one's primary job is to stand in the office and explain to bewildered (soon to be penniless) customers what exactly is wrong with their car, and how that gnome seems to have expanded his activities to the throttle body and the transmission, at which point the appropriate thing to do is show them a neatly outlines list of the things that need/might need/might actually be done in order to correct this problem. Of course, including the expected costs of parts and labor -_-

5. Ensuring future employment
If you recall, as I hope all of you without crippling short term memory loss would, I mentioned in #3 that cars are delicate, interconnected systems that all build on one another to create a two ton metal box for you to give rides to drunken friends, and many, many different things can go wrong within that complex machinery. A common practice that has recently gotten a lot of attention is slightly tweaking a few things in that mess of systems so that cars run less than optimally.

Yes. There are mechanics that break cars so that you have to come back and pay them some more to look at your car and say knowledgeable things.

If you think about it, it's a brilliant way to make money (assuming you don't have any qualms about stealing or ruining people's lives, but, really, who does these days?). What more effective job guarantee could there be? It's like a homicide detective going out and murdering people on the slow weeks.

I feel like there's a show about that...

Anyway, the only conclusion I can come to here is that I should become a mechanic and make money hand over fist. I've done work on my car, and it's pretty easy stuff if you know what to look for.

And that tiny fact-- "as long as you know what to look for"-- is the basis of the entire trade. As long as you know something someone else doesn't, you can make them pay through the nose for that ignorance, right?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More From the Service Industry

Hello, ever-present internet! I'm not dead, despite my absurd absence this year. Things have just been busy and exhausting and lazy and lots other things that really come down to "Rachel hasn't been blogging, because she does that sometimes." Though since I finally got a new job (and quit my old one), my schedule has been totally different, which is often the result of switching from primarily evening and night work to early morning and mid afternoon work, but I'm still adjusting to it.

Bonus: the worthless scourge that is Daylight Savings (saving no one daylight since 1930) has had no power over me. Taking one puny hour from my life cannot control me when I've been getting up at four in the morning rather than going to bed then!

Anyway, I thought I'd take a few minutes to blather online about a few of the things that have been floating around in my head that make me go, "hey, I should write a post about that," but then, as you may have noticed the past few months, I never do. I also have like three or four snarky list posts floating amongst my mental debris (by which I mean safely saved in note form on my phone, because I can't remember that kind of thing), but they'll wait for a different day.

So at my new job (I now work at a coffee/bagel shop rather than a pizza place), we have these surveys that all the cashiers are supposed to tell the customers about so that they can tell Corporate how satisfied, or dissatisfied, they were with the service, and now as added incentive, everytime someone mentions an employee by  name in their surveys, that person gets a sticker on this chart in the back, and as if stickers weren't reward enough, after so many stickers, you get free stuff.

Though, I'm at a distinct disadvantage there, since I don't take orders right now. I just make them and bring them out to people, so even though I now get a name tag (at my old job, we were all faceless drones), I don't really interact with customers enough to be memorable.

My thought today, though, was that there should be customer review surveys for the employees. I had a huge group the other day (from a well- known Christian organization, no less *coughcoughHCJB*), and they were super messy, rearranged all of my tables, and then just left everything there, and it was super annoying and inconvenient, so I was thinking how unfair it is that customers get to treat us in the service industry like crap and then complain about the service, and all we can really do is bitch about how awful they were back in the kitchen.

Seriously, guys, a friendly customer or a good tip can totally make someone's day. I go out of my way to pre-bus tables and leave at least 25% tips whenever I go out to eat.

Anyway, there should be a system where service people get to review their customers, and then the good ones can get discounts or something, and we can unnecessarily inconvenience or charge the people who suck, because there should be consequences for being a dick to people just because they're paid to take your money in exchange for bringing you goods or services.

The fact that you are the customer doesn't make you better, or entitle you to being an inconsiderate cur.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

On Interviews

Hello, audience. I'm going to talk, yet again, about being an adult. I seem to do this every couple of months, but that's okay. Few enough people read this blog that I feel entitled to talk about whatever I please. If you want to read other things, read other blogs. It's really that simple.

Actually, that pretty much describes my philosophy toward most things about myself--I'm abrasive. Get over it, embrace it, or move along. No one is making you interact with me.

Anyway, the subtext here is that there is no greater farce than adult life. It's so much BS that even I have to cringe a little inside, and that is speaking as a confirmed bullshitter. Adult life is based almost entirely on lying all of the time to almost everyone. Intimate relationships are set apart in adult life, because those are the people you either lie less to, or lie about different things.

At least when we were teenagers, everyone knew everyone was lying about who they were and how they were doing and whatnot, and it was not encouraged. As a child, there's this ringing chorus of "be yourself! Trust people! Be honest about who you are and what you believe!" and then you get out of school.

Suddenly it's all dating people because you're supposed to be in a relationship, and trying to get a job.

To be honest here, theoretical readers, I haven't had that many job interviews. I've had enough, though, to know that they're all about both interviewer and interviewed pretending they want to be there.

You walk in, and (after making you wait long enough that you know you're at their mercy) the interviewer shakes your hand and introduces themselves, a name which you promptly forget, because you were busy wondering if your handshake was firm enough, or if you smiled when you said it was nice to meet them, or if they notice that your pants are still kind of wrinkly, or wishing you had brushed your teeth before you left.

After they sit you down and start "trying to get to know you" the real pretense starts. You have to convince them that you're worth hiring, which they have probably already decided based on your initial application, and they spend the entire time pretending to be interested in hiring you.

It's like a date, where you both try and convince someone that you're exactly what they're looking for, even though you're lying through your teeth, and so are they. "Quick! Pretend you're way smarter, funnier, more competent, more attractive, more outgoing, and more dedicated and hardworking than you have ever actually been."

Because for some reason, we think that is a good basis for any kind of relationship. Especially when the chances are that they decided whether or not they wanted you in all of three minutes.

And the answer is usually no.

This basically defines adult life. There's this demand that you seem totally together all the time, regardless of whether or not you are; it doesn't matter if you're a broke alcoholic and all of your relationships are crumbling as long as you can seem like you're a successful human being.

Maybe this is one of those "fake it 'til you make it" things (a favorite saying of my mother's), but mostly it just seems like total crap. Does this ever help anyone? I mean really. Did I just miss the day where they handed out grown-up starter kits full of instruction booklets about how all of this makes sense?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rambling About Goals and stuff.

Hello, audience. Here's my first post for 2014, though since I haven't been especially good about posting regularly ever, I wouldn't read too much into it. It honestly just occurred to me that it's New Years day, so expect no lofty resolutions from me. I don't have plans for a regular posting schedule, or anything like that. I do intend to do more writing in the near future, but I'll have to be a little (or a lot) more disciplined about everything.

Damn you, Discipline! You and The Pendulum can just go away, and I'll keep wasting a lot of time.

 This game may or may not have eaten nearly half a day since I bought it like three days ago...

Actually, discipline is closely related to the thing I was actually intending to muse on. (Publicly musing seems dangerous, and yet it's one of my best ways to think.) My older brother was in town "for Christmas" (he actually arrived on the 26th), and something he said to me while he was here was that "you are either moving toward a goal, or moving away from it." Or something quite similar to that, anyway, and I've been thinking about that idea.

I have several goals, some of them more nebulous than I'd like to admit, and I am (despite what seems to be popular opinion,) actively pursuing at least some of them.

Admittedly, the one I'm moving toward most actively is moving into an apartment, followed by finding a different job, but those either don't seem to count, or seem depressingly impotent.

But I'm not sure I agree with my dear brother. The essence of that thought is definitely something I agree with, and it seems a little nit-picky (ewwwww....nits.) to bother disagreeing at all, but I do. Goals are not always something you can actively pursue; sometimes there's a time for such things, or sometimes goals don't always have clear paths to pursue.

This sounds a little defensive, now that I say it out loud (or in print), and I don't deny that I could definitely be working harder on most of my goals, but it's something I think is still true.

There seems to be this trend, especially in my generation--I don't know about you older or younger people, but I suspect that it's also prevalent--that you are supposed to have a Direction, and a Plan. People begin asking about such things literally the second you graduate high school, and they always disapprove if you don't have an answer, because if you don't have a mission for your life, the expectation is that you will hop into the grooves worn by previous generations and go to college, get married, reproduce, and do something professional in fields you tested well in during school. Usually in that order.

God forbid you don't have a distinct list of goals, complete with dates, deadlines, and color codes. Because the people that don't have a Plan grow up to be losers. You don't want to be a loser, do you?

Not that I can say much in answer to that mentality. I'm an artist.

Some people I've known have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish with their lives, and they're doing what they think is necessary to making those things happen, like getting the pertinent degrees and certifications and suchlike, and in some ways I definitely envy that, but I don't think it's necessary. People say all the time that life is a journey, and it's about the journey, and other variations on that idea, but it seems like no one treats it that way. Experiencing life as a series of shaping events and experiences is seen as short-sighted and lazy even as people post inspirational photo-manipulations and quotes on their social networking pages saying just that.

But only if you have a defined destination. We don't want tourists or explorers.

I think this falls into the same category of "no winning" as the housewife dilemma. For those who don't know what I mean, even after years of women being allowed to work and have careers, there is still this idea that if you have a career, you hate your kids, or are selfish for having your own life and not having kids, but on the other side, if you choose not to have a career, and stay home with those same children, you're wasting your potential, and it's seen as a total cop out of having your own life.

The difficulty with these situations, I think, is that they're both not true, and people are forcing their presumptions on someone else, and demanding that other people make the same choice for the reasons they would, when that is impossible.

Not everyone has to do the same thing. It's okay to do and think and be different. We don't have to hate people for that.

Another thing that people say and don't do...I think the internet is going to call everyone on their hypocrisy someday.

I hope I'm not online that day.