On Daily Storage

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“I could not be a guy,” Brianna told me one day when going to Delta to do homework. Insert an imaginary snarky/sarcastic response by me here if you will. However, before such an interjection could be formulated in my brain, she continued: “I have to carry so much [expletive deleted] with me.”

I Tumbled her quote and my response My actual response was far too nerdy to mention here, though in short it was, “sport coats, my dear.”
Truly, this was used as one of my arguments for wearing suits and sport coats as often as is feasible; they afford me extra space: at least three more pockets than simply pants alone.

Consider, if you will for a moment, the contents of my pockets on any given day:

  • wallet
  • iPhone
  • Zippo
  • keys
  • chapstick
  • flash drive

For the sake of tedium, I’ll give you the breakdown: my iPhone, wallet, one or two flash drives, and sometimes checkbook will go in the suit or sport coat pockets. I keep my keys, chapstick and money clip, then, in my front pants pockets. This will leave me with my back pants pockets empty (I cannot stand to sit on anything, especially a wallet, though I will occasionally make an exception for receipts and other such small scraps of paper that can be forgotten) and often an underinhabited jacket pocket or two. (if this doesn’t make me look anal-retentive, I don’t know what will; maybe that I only like to have one item in each pocket?)

This setup works well for almost all daily situations. This past weekend (and similar occasions), however yielded the exception to that rule.

Let me paint you another picture:

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(haha, sorry. couldn't resist)

My father and I attended (and often attend as a sort of tradition of ours) an annual Men’s Conference through, for lack of a better description, a church community group. At such an event as this, I carry my Bible for reference, my water bottle for hydration and my note book for (uhh..) note taking.

The problem inherent in this situation is the natural human inclination to introduce yourself to strangers. This may not be an inclination I hold as a rule, but it is bound to happen at such an event. Anyway, though it would normally be a simple undertaking, my full hands become an issue. The situation could be claimed awkward as I stare blankly at the person’s outstretched hand a second before my brain clicks and I begin the ridiculous shift of all my belongings to one hand, often now precariously balanced (this same situation occurs in wedding buffet lines when one has a drink and salad bowl in hand and attempts to pick up silverware and the main course – doom is inevitable).

If the other person is not impatient and thinking of me as an idiot by this point, I know not why, for I certainly feel like I’ve ruined the entire introduction experience in thirteen awkward seconds of fumbling.

Situations such as this make me long for the days of yore when, in school, I could be excused wearing a book bag everywhere. This brilliant device handled such situations with ease and grace. Mine in particular had–aside from its spacious pockets to hold more than any Boy Scout would ever dream of–not one, but TWO mesh pockets: one for my water bottle and the other for a coffee! Despite its strength, in the post-collegiate world, a book bag has no place as an acceptable accessory for a suit. It just looks ridiculous. Do a quick Google search for images of a suit with a book bag. No hits? Exactly.

Sure you can carry a briefcase for professionalism, but that doesn’t solve the coffee/water problem at all. And please do not even MENTION those danged rolly backpack/suitcase things. Those have no place
ANYWHERE. EVER. There; it’s been said.

So where does that leave us? Admitting a truth of which we were fully aware but afraid to admit: girls got it right. When it comes to efficiency, the purse wins. There is no male equivalent. The wide variety of sizes, styles and prices ensure that every situation is covered. Furthermore, they have the option to leave BOTH hands free when carried over the shoulder.

Ever tried to smuggle a soda into the movies with cargo pants or a sport coat?

No can do. (Besides, cargo pants are long since being cool; and even when they were cool, the biggest faux pas was keeping ANYTHING in those pockets. Who can’t help but to vilipend such a useless article of clothing…)

With a purse?

No problemo!

So, cheers to the inventor of the purse. I must say, I envy women a bit for these. I guess until a suitable (hahaha, pun!) equivalent appears in men’s style, I’m stuck either not carrying everything I need at any given time or doing the awkward juggling thing when the situation arises.

Then again, I suppose I could just find a girlfriend…

2blogwars

Read about this and more on many, many other topics on the blogs of my competitors!

Griffis

Schanz

The Blog is the New Resume | Traces of Inspiration

The Blog is the New Resume | Traces of Inspiration.

I don’t think mine is. I could go to the bother of having a personal and a professional one, one for fun and one for my portfolio, but they fit together pretty well for the moment, I think. And as I’m not currently in the midst of any huge projects worth blogging about (in my mind), I continue in my set path.

The article has some interesting insight though.

On Airports and Flying

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I’ll cut straight to the chase:

I love airports.

I’m not sure what it is about them. The mall-like atmosphere. The crowds of people completely absorbed in what they’re doing, where they’re going. The moving sidewalks. The ability to go to the bar and not have to worry about driving afterward. The adrenaline knowing you’ll soon be flying. Any or all of these could be why. I just know I love them.

I discovered this when I was watching a movie some time ago. Obviously an airport played into it somehow. My best guess at the moment is Dogma. Regardless, watching the airport scene in whatever movie it happened to be made me nostalgic for the last trip I took in a plane.

I’ve flown a total of three times (round-trip) in my life. The first was to Florida before I was 5. I don’t remember any of it. The second was in fifth or sixth grade when I went with a classmate to Washington, D.C. I don’t remember the plane ride nor do I remember much of the trip aside from snippets and what we wrote in the trip journal. Finally, in September of 2007, my father, uncle and I flew to Pittsburgh to visit my grandmother on her birthday.

This one I remember.

To qualify, the Saginaw (MBS International) airport is kind of lame. It is a small airport after all. With this being the only one in recent memory (with wedding receptions being held there and participating in dropping people off/picking them up)  I didn’t have really any strong opinion of airports other than all that is ever said badly about them in bad sitcoms. However, once we hit DTW and spent a few hours in layover, I loved it. The plethora of activities to keep you occupied and the bustle of activity were initially overwhelming, but fun nonetheless.

I understand if one were on business and had other things occupying their mind, there might be less to enjoy. Likewise for someone with an excessive fear of flying. I, on the other hand, saw the positive. I was on a mini-vacation. My father and uncle were engrossed in philosophical conversations. I took to wandering. Camera and cash in hand, there was plenty to do.

I argued with a customer (not heatedly, but in a friendly manner) about this topic. He dislikes airports. They are strictly utilitarian. They accomplish a purpose. And he’s a photographer. So it’s not the artist in me; maybe it’s just me and my naivety. The rush of flying is still relatively new to me. There you are, in the sky, surrounded by the clouds. Opine it’s annoyances however you will, but the air travel experience is still romantic to me.

clouds

On Shoes

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I need a new pair of work shoes. Badly. Currently, the pair above are my sole pair (pun intended). They used to be one of my nicer pairs of dress shoes. Chocolate suede captoes purchased from either Penny’s or Kohl’s my sophomore year of college. I even lent them to a friend for a wedding as he had no dress shoes that went with his outfit. I maintained the suede nap with a suede brush and put shoe trees in them once I could afford to waste money on cedar shoe maintenance.

At some point, however, they were designated as work shoes. Perhaps at the beginning it was merely out of occasional necessity. I read on a forum that wearing the same pair of shoes more than one day in a row was a bad thing (can’t for the life of me remember why that is anymore). So these and my cheap tan boot-looking shoes (also formerly used as dress shoes) and a pair of black steel-toed low-top boots were in the work rotation. I think the reasoning for the style of them all was that, at the time, we were still required to wear “dressy” leatheresque shoes to work.

The suede made it into the rotation when I found a nicer pair of chocolate suede captoes at a thrift store for about a tenth of the cost of these. Hence, these were delegated solely as work shoes.

When I stopped wearing  black entirely for two years, the two pairs of brown shoes were the only two I’d use for work. Five or six days a week, for twenty hours a week I wore them. As these dark brown captoes were suede and considerably nicer, they were worn less often. Alas, and inevitably, the tan crappy ones eventually met their maker, becoming far too uncomfortable for even two hours at a time.

To say the least, that put a remarkable strain on those cap-toes. One could say, they had some big shoes to fill. No one should say that. Ever.

From the image, you can see that the suede factor is no longer an issue. the coffee, milk and salt stains are permanent. The lining: shot. Cushioning? Forget it. The numerous cracks and gouges in the leather are “character.” They need to be replaced.

Still, I can’t bear to get a new pair. Is it nostalgia? Now, we really haven’t been through any great experiences together. I am not enough of a girl to hold on to old shoes. I think it is a utilitarian thing. They still work. Though I wouldn’t wear them outside of work (read: in public) they look better than sneakers with the image I try to convey, even at the coffee shop.

The excuses I have for refusing (or at least hesitating) to get new shoes is two-fold. The first excuse, money, isn’t really a legitimate excuse. I can afford to buy new shoes. Sure, it leaves less money available for the things I actually want to buy, but it is very doable, and the things I want can wait another two weeks.

No, the real reason I cannot buy a new pair is more fear related. I am job-hunting. I just know that as soon as I buy a new pair, I will get a decent job and I can wear one of my 15 other pairs of shoes (pairs that I do not wish to get scuffed and otherwise fall into such a state of disrepair). However, there is the fear that if I do not buy a new pair, I may never find a new/better job.

Classic Catch-22.

It may seem superstitious, but it’s Murphy’s Law. Buy new crap shoes, get a new job. Don’t buy new beaters, stay with lousy job and have sore feet.

Maybe the money is worth being wasted.

On Friends

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A conjecture was recently made to me that I questioned and pondered. You can be one of three kinds of friends.

  1. You are the friend that is called when someone has boy/girl issues and needs an understanding and caring ear.
  2. I don’t remember this one
  3. You will be the kind of friend someone calls to tell they had a shitty day and will respond with “let’s go get drunk”.

Actually, those might have really been the only two she said. She claimed to be in the latter category, though it is not always crass. She isn’t the “touchy-feely” type who will talk about feelings. Sure, she’ll listen if you have a problem, but there had better be beer involved, because there won’t be any crying. Commiserating sure, but not crying. That made me wonder what kind of friend I am. I’ll go out for a beer if someone is having a bad day. Then again, I’ll also lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on if need be.

Then I got to thinking. Can we be a different friend to different people? Do different friends require different methods of consolation? And if so, and you modify your behaviour based on the friend you’re around, to whom do you turn when you have your own issues?

(sorry. My Name is Earl this week inspired me to do a Bradshaw-esque aside)

Joking questions aside, what kind of person are you when you change your methods based on your current company? Do you change who you talk to based on the situation you are going through? There are certain people I will moan about a bad day to, but few (if any) I would discuss very personal issues with. That may be the guy in me, but I do truly tend to keep my personal problems to myself.

What about you? Do you discuss personal issues with friends? If so, are they different friends than those you drown your faux sorrows in beer with?

How to talk to a friend who’s been laid off | Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist

This is a GREAT article. It not only applies to the recently unemployed, but the recent college graduate. Not only have we the staggering unemployment rate to deal with, we are in constant battle with those that are already established career-minded individuals who’ve been recently given the axe. Who’s going to look more promising to the job recruiter? The fresh-out-of-college newbie or the worked-the-same-job-for-twenty-years seasoned pro? I’ll give you a hint: it probably isn’t the second one.

Complaining about how much things are crappy now aside, the comments on this post are spot-on. Everyone I know who recently graduated hates these questions (about the job hunt) as much as the recently unemployed and it’s just as discouraging to us when we’re asked if we “looked online at all?”

So I’ll add my comment, too: Thanks Penelope. It’s so true it hurts.

My Web Home

A long time coming, this post should be seen as my way of “celebrating” nicolauswitchger.com. True, not a major overhaul of my wordpress. I could install it natively now, the ease of use is great as is. So, props to the WordPress.com team for making those of us who don’t know CSS comfortable!

In its various iterations, my website has taken MANY turns. This is where I currently am. I realized recently that, in order to have a good, searchable, user-friendly, speedy website, I will probably have to learn XHTML and CSS at the very least. Seeing as how designers are often expected to do web stuff as well, I believe it would be beneficial to my budding career. However, the web, as of late, is something I’ve only looked at, not coded for.

The first (and really last) time I hand coded was back in late Middle School/early High School. I don’t even know if the Web was 1.0 back then. All I had was MS FrontPage (1997?) and Notepad and I preferred Notepad. I took great pride in being able to do by hand what most people needed a WYSIWYG editor to accomplish. And mine looked just as good; bear in mind, this was in the days when websites were TERRIBLE by today’s standards.

I learned coding on my own, by “borrowing” code from websites utilizing the effects I wanted to achieve and modifying said code to suit my desires. I have a feeling this is the way I should try to learn CSS, though there are so many great tutorials out there.

nickorpLater on, when my father was taking Dale Carnegie and web design courses (two separate entities, not Dale + Internet), he’d bring home books on using MS FrontPage. After the “Beatles Imagemap” and the attempt at my “corporate” (nickorp logo featured to the left…yeah)  website, I utilized this for such brilliant sites as “A Tour Of My Room!” Armed with an old Sony Mavica (which saved images to a 3.5″ floppy disk) and FrontPage, this was created. Not brilliant, or even mildly groundberaking, but it kept me entertained and probably helped me to become the troubleshooting whiz I am today (working with Microsoft Software will do that to one). Post 2005, I gave web design a rest for a good ten years or so. Ok, so it was only three, but in WWW years, that is probably about ten, no?

It wasn’t until I graduated from College that the benefits of such knowledge could be an asset. Unfortunately, I was already ten years behind the standard. This, however, escaped my knowledge, and I went ahead with it anyway.

My first attempt at creating a portfolio website was a huge joke.

antislip_stats

I attempted it shortly after taking Dynamic Digital Design at SVSU which was basically a Flash class. Our final project for this class was to create a flash-based website for a start-up company in Saginaw. The goal of the website was strictly informational and meant to get the customer to contact the firm personally so they could give them the pitch in person (or at least over the phone) but they wanted to be “timely” and have a web presence, too. After research into what other anti-slip companies were doing with their sites, I came up with this. I was (and still am) pretty happy with it.

Taking from this experience the idea that flash was the web of the future (hell, Homestar Runner had been doing it successfully for years), I set about making my first personal website in years in Adobe Flash CS3.

Let’s just say, the phrase EPIC FAIL comes to mind almost every time I recall this monstrosity. I don’t know where I got the idea for the layout, but wow. W0W. It wasn’t pretty. And it was SLOW. Flash, man. It can be done well, but I learned from the spiteful rantings of one Gizmodo blog that Flash sites are unsearchable and that is a pain in the ass. SEO or something like that. That, and the fact that even with high-speed internet, a 20MB home page takes quite a while to load.

(Here is a “link” to the home page and portfolio page. I could not find a free web host that allowed 20MB uploads, so I was stuck using MediaFire again. Warning again, they’re unnecessarily large.)

The site was live for a while on the SVSU web server until I delved a bit deeper. Actually, I found the web portfolio (I am reluctant to link to a competitor, to be honest) of a high school classmate who graduated from MSU the same semester the same semester as I and with the same degree to boot. It was simple and nowhere near as flashy (pun intended) as mine. The beauty of its simplicity irked me. So, to stay fresh and competitive, I picked up Dreamweaver again and made this. To be honest, I still don’t hate this. Though I borrowed heavily from my classmate’s idea (with the simple 4 links and horizontal layout), it’s kind of visually appealing to me still. It’s not nearly as informative as it should be, but I suppose it probably would’ve gotten the job done.

I still wasn’t satisfied though. So I set about teaching myself Dreamweaver.

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CSS Attempt

It wasn’t great, as you can see. I set it up to work ideally on a 1024×768 monitor with complete disregard for (or rather lack of knowledge of) CSS. I used div tags not knowing what they actually did. I essentially tried to set it up as I would have a flash site, but in Dreamweaver.

After cross-platform testing revealed it only looked good on Firefox and SVSU took away my web privileges, I scrapped the idea.

I don’t know where I got the idea for WordPress, likely one of the numerous design blogs in my RSS feed, but here I am. As of now, it does what I need it to do and I am quite happy with the limited amount of flexibility I am given. Maybe some day I will actually learn to hand code again. Perhaps once I do not spend my non-working hours catching up on blogs and being frustrated with myself that I have not made sufficient to look for a real job. Still trying though.

In short: I’ve tried to have a web presence for quite a while. I did a lot of “research” trying to find on- or off-line copies of lots of my old web work, but only found the above. It should be said that since I couldn’t find a lot of it, it was not mentioned. This was intentional, since I could never remember everything I did and in what chronological order. So here, you have my best attempt to collect it. For my posterity and yours.

HowStuffWorks “OCD Symptoms”

HowStuffWorks “OCD Symptoms”.

Many people perform OCD-type rituals every day. Who hasn’t gone back home to make sure that an appliance is off or reassembled items sitting on a desk to make them look more symmetrical? But it’s the obsessive, repeated and uncontrollable nature of these rituals that differentiates the OCD sufferer from a healthy person. These obsessive thoughts are also accompanied by extreme anxiety, which is then channeled into the ritual, itself seen as some sort of stress-management tool.

Sounds vaguely familiar…I’ve spoken of this in less public forums. Those of you who know will get it. “Arranging items in a symmetrical or orderly manner.”? Um, er..