Wednesday, July 22, 2015


by Rob Cottignies

To begin, a sad story:
            Picture it- New Jersey, 2014. My phone communication needs had been met for the past six-and-a-half years by my Motorola Razr. It worked just as well as the first day. I could make calls, text. No et cetera. And I loved it. I loved my Razr. When I needed to text without looking, I could feel those glorious buttons and send my message with unwavering confidence.
            Mid-January came along and I was set to go on vacation. I wanted to pack lightly but realized bringing a laptop, GPS, and camera would be bulky. 'Ugh', I thought, 'maybe it's time to upgrade'. After much hesitation, I bought a garbage "smart" phone that worked horribly. This thing would turn off randomly, not send or receive texts at will, not download anything, much more et cetera. But it frustratingly met my needs for several months. However I would always look longingly at my Razr, which was proudly displayed on my nightstand.
            When September happened, a long trip was a few weeks away. That stupid phone had sort of prevailed during a ten-day stint but six weeks with it would have driven me to insanity. Or, more likely, I would have thrown it into a river. But that's polluting. Think green everyone!
            So I got a big boy phone in September of 2014. It is very convenient and honestly I would not go back to the Razr but I still catch myself staring at it, remembering the best of times…
            Speaking of phones, I recently heard a story about some kid who questioned his mom about why she said 'Hang up the phone.' Think about that. Kids today have no idea about a phone having two distinct parts connected by a wire. All they know is buttons, which most current house phones have as well. Call over, push END, throw the phone across the room. That's how I finish conversations, anyway.
            To quote Louis CK on technology, "Everything's amazing and nobody's happy."
I think he's spot-on and there are two reasons:
            1) Instant gratification- People always want things NOW. They often think they need things immediately but that's just not true. The store-to-door time for pizza delivery hasn't really changed since its inception. NASA has always counted down from ten before a shuttle launch. Hell, even microwaveable meals still take 5-7 minutes to heat. Nobody questions these things. But when your stupid friend texts you a video of her horrible cat sleeping in a shoebox you freak out if it takes more than five seconds to download. You're awful and I hate you. And your stupid friend. And her horrible cat. And shoes.
            2) Need to complain- When a new piece of technology comes out, what's the first thing you hear about it? What doesn't work, or at least not as well as the previous version. And how different are these things, really? 'Oh, the iPhone 5 doesn't have as many megapixels as the 4.' You're talking about a CAMERA on your PHONE that fits into your POCKET and allows you to look up weather, talk to anyone, and lock your bloody GARAGE DOOR!!! The word 'spoiled' comes to mind.
            And speaking of complaining, have you ever heard somebody complain about doing laundry? Today, doing laundry goes something like this: Put clothes in a machine, add goop, push a button, eat a sandwich. After the machine tells us the clothes have been fully washed, we put those clothes into another machine (commonly right next to the first one), add a lint napkin thing, push another button, eat another sandwich.
            In olden days (and probably in some weird parts of the current world), doing laundry went something like this: Put horribly-soiled clothes and soap into a basket, put basket on your head, grab your machete and walk nine miles to a river, fight bears and hyenas and thieves along the way, walk into the river, try to not get eaten by river monsters, wash each article of clothing individually for seven hours, put sort-of clean clothes back into the basket, put basket on your head, walk nine miles back home while battling lions and fiends, hang clothes to dry, hope it doesn't monsoon, make dinner for fifty people.
            Doesn't that sound awful? No sandwiches at all! Unless sandwiches were what dinner was. If so, no need to complain.
            Cars are where my major technological fears reside. I currently have a 2010 car which I plan to drive until the engine falls out. I am very afraid, however, about the status of cars when that unfortunate time comes along. They'll probably have all these fancy features like wi-fi and push-button ignition and motorized cup holder covers.
            This just in: Cars already have all of these things and I'm furious.
            Remember car alarms? Of course they still happen but when was the last time somebody heard one and, concerned, said, 'Oh my heavens! Let us phone the local police brigade at once should there be a vicious car criminal afoot'? Fact: 1992.
            My fear is that I won't be able to buy a normal car that simply goes from A to B and has a CD player. (ABCD thing not intentional.) Yes, I still buy CDs and shall continue doing so until they and/or I go obsolete. That's all I will want but Harry the car salesman will offer me vehicles with tons of features that I won't want. And when cars drive themselves (which either all or none of them will have to do), you will find me far away from roads, wandering fields and hills and deserts in search of simplicity.
            If movies like The Terminator have taught us anything, it's that technology is evil and should be avoided at all costs before it kills us. Of course, it took technology to make that movie. And I typed this article on technology while you are likely using different technology to read it. Some would call this a paradox. Others would call this irony. I call it a good time to end this rambling.
            To close, I think technology can be good when used properly. Some inventions were truly great and necessary. The wheel led to cars. Letters led to e-mail. Stage plays led to television shows. (So why are there still stage plays? Do people even say 'stage plays'?) What's next? Automatic and/or flying cars, for sure. Maybe a meal in a pill. Teleportation. People living just a hundred years ago couldn't even fathom our current world. Their faces would explode. And they'd probably burn you as a witch. And you'd deserve it.
            Point is, stop whining about technology and everything else. Enjoy your life, read a book, and talk to people but leave me alone.
            Don't make me enter the world code…

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Do Not

I Do Not
by Rob Cottignies

            With all this gay marriage business going on, millions of people (zero people) have been asking for my opinion on the topic. Many (again, zero) are surprised to hear that I'm against it. It's not so much the gay part that bothers me but that whole marriage thing. 'Hey, instead of verbally committing to each other, let's involve the government so if it ends up not working out the split will be a gigantically long, stressful, and expensive process.'
            Fun fact: Did you know that the top cause of divorce is marriage? Simply, if you're not married, you can't get divorced!
            According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. To rip off and paraphrase comedian Bill Burr, if you're going skydiving and are told that 40-50% of all parachutes don't open, would you still jump? Apparently many folks would. It's certainly not that I want to see any of them splat on the ground but the fault would be only their own. Just don't land on me.
            Now, I know there are legal benefits to getting married and I'm not actually naysaying the "institution" of marriage, rather everything involved in the entire process. I've never been foolish enough, but (for a traditional straight male) I believe it goes something like this:
            1) Go out with girl after girl until you find one you're attracted to *and* can stand for more than ten minutes. 2) Do various things with this person. 3) Save lots of money then spend it on a shiny rock attached to a metal circle. 4) Plan something romantic. 5) At the "right time", lower yourself to one knee. 6) Beg her to marry you because it's 100% her decision and she can easily say no after your money and time have been spent. 7) IF she says yes, you're engaged, which really means nothing. It's like being in Limbo, only horrible. 'Hey, you know how we're together? Want to be... more together yet somehow still not fully committed?'
            Because I am unable to write a blog without going into some random history, the idea of an engagement ring was brought about by the DeBeers diamond company in the 1920s. As this idiotic article points out, they used clever marketing to convince men that spending at least one month's pay on a piece of jewelry was a necessary step before marriage. Obviously, the idea caught on and now he goes to Jared and kisses Kay.
            To earn points with all you feminists out there, I think the ring is a chauvinistic idea. While her ladyfriends swoon over it with hormones completely out of control, the ring tells other men that the lady is taken. Property. And what does the man wear? Nothing. Well, probably clothes, but nothing indicative of his being in a committed relationship. Pig.
            Alright, so you're engaged. Now what? Wedding planning! Time to search for those perfect napkins and the least-obnoxious DJ who can be found, which is exactly none of them. 'Should we invite Randy? I've known him for a long time but we're not really close anymore. But we're inviting Paul and he's good friends with Randy. Doesn't Randy have an annoying girlfriend? How long have they been together? Would we have to invite her too? Randy always invites us to his yearly barbecue so I guess we have to invite him. He doesn't get a plus-one, though. He can sit at the table with Jim and Sylvia. Oh right, Randy and Sylvia used to date…'
            Blah blah freakin' blah. Still feeling good about that expensive one-knee question, chief?
            During this whole planning phase, there are various parties. An engagement party, which is nothing but more money and self-promotion. And what the hell is the point of a bridal shower? I tended bar during one of these and couldn't figure it out. It was just a bunch of chickens clucking around while playing stupid games and not tipping their bartender for providing endless mimosas and looking quite dapper while doing so. Then the respective bachelor and bachelorette parties. Those are fun but they're supposed to be 'One last hurrah before taking the plunge!' So there's no more fun after that night out? A friend recently told me that he hooked up with a bachelorette after running into her party. That unfortunate groom's parachute will definitely not deploy.
            I don't really have an ending for this and I think I'm losing focus anyway so here's a list!

Ten hilarious things I'd rather do than propose marriage:
-Fight a bear
-Eat a tree
-Cut a lawn with scissors
-Listen to Ben Stein read War & Peace
-Carve a statue with sporks as my only tools
-Run through a desert wearing a Winter coat
-Drive blindfolded in reverse on the Autobahn
-Look at Sarah Jessica Parker
-Discuss anything with a person from Alabama
-Write a serious blog about a socially-important topic

Are you really just afraid of commitment, spoolygoo?
-No. Commitment is fine. Marriage is stupid.

Are you bitter because a girl said no to you?
-Bitter, always. Rejected, never.

Do you hate your married friends?
-Of course not. Their choices just aren't for me. And the weddings were great!!!

So you'll never get married, huh?
-You don't know anything. It could happen. But if so, it'll be low-key with mutual effort involved. The honeymoon would certainly be hectic, long, and awesome.