Happy Anniversary Kimberly!

An anniversary. It’s a thing people have to celebrate the annual occurrence of something. More specifically, it is “the yearly recurrence of the date of a past event” or “the celebration or commemoration of such a date.” (from Dictionary.com) It’s commonly used within the context of a relationship, and that’s a sense in which I never thought I would be using the word. I never even figured I would be in a relationship. I certainly never figured I would be in one lasting a year. You must be the best person in the world at putting up with me.

Actually, I know you are. I don’t know anyone else who’s willing to talk to me on a daily basis, and it feels good to not be alone. Also, thank you for watching so many movies and playing Town of Salem with me. You make dealing with all the idiots in that game worth it, just so I have the chance to do something with you. And one of the favorite times of my life is when we actually got to go to the movies together (although it was kind of awkward that that kid was sitting next to us). I’m glad I got to see you again a few days later, but that alone was worth the ten-hour drive across some of the most boring parts of the country (no, seriously, can we just push Mississippi and Alabama into the ocean and build a bridge that replaces the missing roads?).

And one of the proudest moments of my life is that I got to see your graduation. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. I’m glad to have been there for some of your best moments, and I’m glad that maybe I’ve helped you through a few of the bad ones too. I know you’ve helped me through a lot of bad moments. Thank you so much.

I’m so glad that out of all the people in the world, you let me spend the last year with you. And I look forward to many more. I love you. 

Sorry, Dr Dre. We misjudged you.

 

We were wrong. Dr. Dre deserves to be a billionaire. After using headphones that had accurate sound reproduction, we had no idea what we were missing! These headphones are so all about that bass, they should have been called Beats by Meghan Trainor. They’re so hard-hitting, they should be called Beats by Chris Brown. The snobby audiophiles may say that these headphones are overpriced and are not of good quality, but what would they know? I mean, look at these fashionable cans! Bass is all anyone wants, right? No treble? Who wouldn’t want headphones that sound like someone is yelling into your ear through a megaphone? Totally worth the $200+ price tag.

Happy April Fool’s Day! 

CurrentCancer

Well, after having not blogged all year, and having posted an angry series of six tweets (and counting) on the subject just today (with many more on this subject in the past), and having enough caffeine and free time for once to actually write, I figured I would write about the thing that’s currently pissing me off. So begins yet another of my typical blog posts.

What managed to infuriate me today was a post on The Verge about a new face in mobile payments, Stratos. Stratos aims to replace all your credit cards, for a fee of $95 a year. While I think Stratos is a pretty ridiculous idea, I’m not angry with them. I am angry that due to a malicious third party, Stratos even thinks it needs to exist. If you look at my tweets today, it probably isn’t hard to see who is responsible for this anger.

The villain of this story is one I’ve always indicated my distaste for. The nefarious actor in this plot? CurrentC, the evil alter-ego of MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange). Its minions? Walmart, Best Buy, and CVS (among others). Its evil plot? Make mobile payments so much of a pain in the ass that nobody wants to use them.

Apple Pay would be a wonderful solution. If people actually supported it. And from what I hear, NFC-enabled readers will proliferate with the new readers required by this chip and PIN thing I keep hearing about (from my understanding, it’s like a credit card dipped in snake oil, or sprinkled with magical pixie dust, or something). Unfortunately, if you’ve ever tried using Apple Pay, Google Pay, or (ugh) Samesung Samsung Pay at some random place, it probably didn’t work. This is because MCX (the organization that runs CurrentC) requires its members to disable support for competing mobile payments services. Because they know that nobody would use their app otherwise. Let’s take a look at a few common payment workflows to figure out why.

Apple Pay: Put phone (probably already in your hand) up to reader. Place finger on TouchID sensor. Done.

Card: Take out wallet. Find card. Swipe card. Put card away. Sign a piece of paper (or one of those terrible touch screens that feel like they came out of a bargain bin). Done.

CurrentC: Unlock phone. Open CurrentC app. Take a picture of a QR code displayed on a screen. Find apparatus for taking a picture in the store (some camera thing attached to the payment terminal?). Take picture of your phone’s screen. Done. Unless you wanted to pay by credit card, because MCX apparently can’t figure out how to support those. Cry.

Basically, it’s better to just not get your stuff at all than hassle with CurrentC, so aside from paying people a load of money to support it (and only it), it would never have a chance at adoption. But it won’t anyway, because any sane person would rather go to a bank and just carry cash than actually use it.

I can’t wait for the CurrentC launch, just so I can watch it fail. Yet it’s three years past its announcement, and it still seems to have no intention of launching. I have a feeling MCX knows retailers will drop out of it like flies once they figure out nobody wants to use it. Therefore, they never intend to launch at all, making the sole purpose of MCX to hold back the adoption of far better payment solutions. Maybe since Apple, Google, wireless carriers, and (ugh) Samsung are all pushing NFC-based solutions now, these stubborn retailers will finally see the light and grow tired of MCX’s vaporware that sells itself on the promise of delivering yesterday’s technological prowess, tomorrow.

Oh, and finally:

Anyone want to invest in pltry? It’s my new mobile payments startup. We provide wagons to haul your chickens around in, as well as a convenient app (for iOS and Android, Windows Phone support coming soon) for managing your chickens and ordering more chickens. You can also direct-deposit your paycheck with us and we’ll automatically send you more chickens! For a 1% fee, we’ll also include feed for those chickens. Retailers loved how ass-backwards MCX is, and pltry guarantees to one-up them in the inefficient cumbersomeness and user-unfriendliness CurrentC prides itself in!

The Day America Bowed to Kim Jong Un

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Except it isn’t. It happened. Facing pressure from theaters fearing terrorist retaliation from North Korea, Sony Pussies Pictures has canceled The Interview’s scheduled Christmas launch, with no plans to release the film in any form at any time. Which is possibly the dumbest idea in history, for several reasons. This is bad for everyone. Sony, the theaters, consumers, and artists. The only winner? North Korea. They got what they wanted. What’s more? Kim Jong Un will now be a hero, emboldening support of that nutjob. His people will now legitimately believe he can sway the rest of the world, including the US, to his will.

How are we scared of this guy anyway?

Last I checked, North Korea was a laughing stock. All they’ve ever managed to pull off are a bunch of failed nuclear tests. The Kim Jong’s have always made threats, against just about everyone, and never made good on them. We’ve never given into terrorists before, and just about any country on earth is a more formidable enemy than North Korea. So why are we actually taking them seriously? Let’s say some wacko managed to shoot up ONE theater. That’s happened before. And they still showed that film after that. Why is this any different? Aside from the fact that listening to threats made by North Korea is like taking some bratty two-year-old’s tantrum seriously, let’s go through why everyone loses here.

Sony loses.

Well… this is a given. Sony spent upwards of $40 million producing this film. Don’t show it? You lose $40 million. Right there. On top of probably close to a billion this whole hack cost you. And more or less everyone wanted to see this movie now, after all the drama seeing it. You’ve been given the best marketing campaign possible, for free, by the very subjects of your movie, and you’re going to throw that away? Wanna stick it to the people who totally screwed you over? Giving into their demands, when you already have nothing more to lose, is not how to do that.

The theaters lose.

Why did theaters pull the movie? They were worried the terrorists would make good on their threats. Meaning there would be costly lawsuits. Meaning the theater chains would ultimately take a huge financial hit from showing this movie. Right?

Actually… no.

There’s legal precedent for this, once again coming from the Aurora shootings (and even before that). Lawsuits were filed against the theater then too. They were thrown out, because according to all laws on the books, the theater can’t be held liable for the shootings. If these script kiddies (aka internet tough guys) actually did have the balls, and the ability, to make good on their threats, it wouldn’t have cost the theaters a dime. Showing this movie would’ve practically been a risk-free license to print money.

Consumers lose.

Well… this one’s obvious. A lot of people want to see this movie. A lot of people are bummed out that they now can’t. C’mon… we just want you to shut up and take our money! But you won’t let us. Ah well, theaters and Sony. We’ll just wait until this leaks to the internet and watch it for free then. Have fun with your $40+ million loss. We wanted to give you our money, but you wouldn’t let us. Hell, we’ll probably see the movie even sooner now. I’m willing to bet Anonymous or a disgruntled employee will leak the movie before the planned date anyway. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for the terrible precedent this whole thing sets, consumers might actually win in the long haul.

Artists lose.

Speaking of which, worst of all is the terrible precedent this brings about. If someone wants to produce art about a controversial subject, apparently it just takes a little anonymous fearmongering to get it pulled. Are we, as a nation that prides ourselves on freedom of expression, going to take this? Are we, a world superpower, going to pull down our pants and bend over as Kim Jong Un, laughing stock of the world stage, stands behind us? Apparently we’ve determined that’s what to do. Well… the terrorists win. We, Americans, have surrendered to North Korea. Better grab that lube Sony… ’cause Kim Jong Un’s screwing you really hard. Instead of paying $8 for a ticket to see him get killed, we’re now paying nothing at all to watch him bend you over and have his way with you. And it ain’t a pretty sight.

A Call to Action

What needs to happen here? Sony needs to change course again. As do the theaters. If the financial repercussions of not showing the film outweigh those of showing the film (which shouldn’t be hard – I’ve already explained that Sony Pictures and the theaters can’t be held liable if something does happen, so those repercussions amount to zero), they’ll be forced to show it. Hell, the shareholders can sue if they don’t. By just scrapping a $40+ million film, Sony Pussies are seriously not acting in their shareholders’ best interests. And I mean, if you really want to, just make everyone sign a liability waiver as a prerequisite to buying a ticket. I happily would. Even if they did make good on their threats and I got killed, the terrorists lose, even if they kill you. They only win if you live in fear of them – which I shall never.

Barring that, Anonymous (hey, seriously, they’d be an easy target…) or a disgruntled Sony employee (read: all of you; Sony’s security has always been bad, and even after this has happened to them before, they still haven’t learned their lessons) should leak the film. And I’ll proudly admit it – I’m gonna pirate it when that happens. Sue me, Sony, I dare you. Since you never launched it, you can’t claim a lost sale. I wanted to give you my money, but you wouldn’t let me.

Consumers, celebrites, etc… Keep fighting the good fight. Many voices, including several celebrities, have put the heat on Sony Pussies. That’s good. If the fallout from not showing the movie is worse than the fallout from showing it, they’ll be forced to change course. Sony are starting to look pathetic for bowing to these threats, and that’s being put in the spotlight. Journalists, keep bringing light to this cowardice. Consumers, don’t buy a Sony product ever again (or go to any of the movie theaters that planned to cancel the showings – these include Regal, Cinemark, and Carmike, I believe). Sony, consequences have been threatened if you show the movie, by people who may or may not make good on those threats. There will be far worse consequences if you don’t. And that’s a chance I don’t recommend you take.

Half a Year, Going on Forever

Six months? Has it really been that long? It doesn’t feel like it. It just doesn’t feel like it’s been half a year. Half a year has always dragged on much more slowly for me. But, sure enough, the last time I wrote about Kimberly, it was exactly five months ago, after we had been together for one month.

Any period of time feels like an eternity when it sucks. And any six months of my life has invariably felt like an eternity. Late 2012 as well as all of 2013 were particularly bad, for various reasons. And you’d think now would be even worse. I mean, school is sucking even harder than ever. I lost a major scholarship this semester after having failed statistics and linear algebra. I’m getting more and more fed up with formal education by the minute. It feels like I’m getting a math degree with a little CS off to the side. I’m never going to use any of this. I code on a daily basis, and have never needed math beyond algebra once. And it feels like this useless math is consuming my entire life. On the surface, it seems my life sucks more than ever. I feel like formal education, which consumes way too much of my time, is thoroughly useless to me, and it’s just a hoop I have to jump through to get a job. I’d do anything to not have to deal with it anymore. My life is a living hell. Nothing’s going right. Except one thing. The most important thing. My life sucks, yet it couldn’t be any more perfect.

My whole life, I had been searching for something. Something that, for 21 years, I never had. I had nothing to live for. I could be in a crowd of strangers or even friends. But the reality of the matter is, I was still alone. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m weird. And most people don’t even know how weird I am. What I needed? Someone who loved me despite the fact that I’m weird. Possibly even insane. And on April 2 of this year, I met such a person. Someone who not only loves me despite my weirdness, but maybe even for it. I could sense it. Never before had I had such a feeling when I first encountered someone that they were different. Like… down to the core. Different. Have I had a feeling that something about someone was different before? Yep. But this was something else entirely. In the moment when I read the message Kimberly sent me on reddit that day, I could tell that she was completely unlike anyone I’d ever met before. It was something I’d never felt before. It’s something that a person gets to feel once in their lives, if they’re lucky. Some may never get to feel it at all. It’s the feeling of having met your soulmate. It’s possibly the only time I’ve ever felt something in my life that could be described as magical. I’m not talking about some fake-ass Disney World thing. I’m talking about a truly surreal experience. I don’t even know how to describe it. You wake up, thinking you’re about to add another mundane, pointless day to your mundane, pointless life, not realizing that today is finally that day you’ve waited for when your life changes. Make no mistake, April 2, 2014, was the single most pivotal day of my entire life.

Fast forward to two weeks later, exactly six months ago today, at roughly the time I published this post. As the result of an exchange that I, of course, made insanely awkward and weird, Kimberly agreed to be my girlfriend. So began a chapter of my life that would take me months to understand. I can still vividly remember the awkwardness with which I filled that entire moment.

For the last six months of my life, Kimberly has meant everything to me. I’ve gotten what I’ve searched for: Something to live for. No longer do I feel alone or like my life is meaningless. No longer do I wake up and think, “So begins another mundane day of my mundane life.” Formal education is still the bane of my existence. But now, I finally have something in my life such that the good outweighs the bad. I live for the days, though rare, when our schedules align so I can travel to see her. And last time, I finally got to experience my first kiss (yes, at 21, but we made up for it…). And on May 29 of this year, I had the honor of being able to attend her high school graduation.

As a person, particularly for most of 2013 and early 2014, I was broken, to say the least. Something had happened to shatter my faith in all of humanity. I hated everyone. I believed that everyone, if not flat-out and openly awful, was a flake who would do nothing more than abandon you before long. Thank you Kimberly. Thank you for showing me that not everyone is like that. I realize it must not have been easy. I mean, you’ve somehow put up with me almost every hour of every day since we’ve met. I can’t imagine that as being even remotely easy, but somehow you pull it off.

I can’t imagine not having you in every moment of my life. And I don’t want to. We’ve spoken in almost every hour we’ve both been awake, and I’ve seen you on Skype almost every day since April 16. When I had to deal with just about everything in my life being uprooted during the summer, in a sense, you were all I got to take with me when I left all else behind during that time. Everything was a disaster, yet I was still happy, since I still had the only thing that mattered in my life.

I wish there was something I could give you that showed you how much you meant to me. Unfortunately, I don’t think anything like that exists. That thing was certainly not those Town of Salem coins I gave you earlier. Please don’t think it’s that. You mean more to me than that. You mean more to me than anything I could ever give you.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Kimberly, nothing else in my life has ever really meant anything. The last six months have been the only ones actually worth living for me. And you’re the only reason for that. I only wish there were something I could do in return. I love you.