Month: January 2014

Time to take back control from Time Warner Cable

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I, like millions of others, pay too much for cable from Time Warner. I deal with it like most of those people. And by “deal with it” I mean bitch about it on social media. Even as I swipe these words on my phone, the TV is on and my new remote is warm from use.

My cable service isn’t new. Just the remote. I needed a new one because the old one would work for about five button presses at a time, then stop for five minutes, or eight minutes, or just 10 seconds after I give up waiting. Whichever came first.

One of my errands today was a stop at the Time Warner building, my faulty remote in hand. I walked up to the counter ready to wait in line.

“Broken remote? Here us go.”

The guy reached into a drawer of individually wrapped remotes and selected mine like it was waiting for me with my name on it. Done.

Instead of being happy with the quick fix, I’m offended that they know their equipment is so bad that they need a box of extras at the ready. It’s cheaper to make two or three or for bad products than it is to make one good one.

Now I don’t believe in Bill Cowher anymore! That’s on you, Time Warner Cable.

As I started this post, I caught about 10 minutes of a story on the Al Jazeera America channel about a family who cut cable in favor of Roku and Hulu. The irony isn’t lost on me, but Syracuse plays Duke on Saturday and the Super Bowl is Sunday. Sports hold me hostage and then charge me rent for my cage. But after this weekend is my best chance to escape — nothing but the NBA and NHL to keep me locked up.

NASCAR is the guard at the gate you slip past with “What’s that behind you?!” So, that’s not a problem.

Just gotta get out before March Madness … Before it’s too late.

5 Reasons why people love, love, love reading lists (and repetition)

At some point maybe in the last 12 months,  it became official. People love, love, love¹ lists.

“20 ways you know you’re from Upstate New York” or “8 reasons you should be eating MORE bacon” or “15 cats who didn’t land on their feet” — these are the stories we share the most on Facebook. I haven’t seen the shift on Twitter nearly as much, but that gets into the differences between the two social media giants and an entirely different post altogether. (By the way, if you repeated any portion of the last sentence as an homage to the movie Airplane, we should hang out more.)

1) “OMG that’s so true!”: Of course it is! It’s not difficult to write the “10 worst things about winter” and not have most of those things be true for a large portion of people. There’s a reason there are “12 things a guy should never text to a girl” and it’s because they’ve all happened. It’s always relate-able, and that’s the point. They’re like horoscopes in that way. Say something generic about life or change or positive thoughts and you will reach 90 percent of your audience, making them think they’re the one you’re talking about.

2) Stop when you want: Daunting full-length feature articles intimidate readers, especially in the digital realm. If you’re online and particularly on Facebook, you probably don’t have or think you have time to read a 1,000 words on anything. When the content is broken up, you feel more comfortable getting started knowing that there’s a nice clean break between numbers 17 and 18 where you can throw in the towel.

3) Everyone else is doing it: No explanation needed.

4) Copycats: This is actually “Everyone else is doing it” but from the perspective of the producers of these articles. Yes, including myself now. It works for Huffington Post and Upworthy, so let’s cash in on that click bait!

5) Specific and targeted: While the lists may be long, they are typically targeted at a specific audience, sticking to a specific point and hoping for a specific outcome. It’s partly why they’re so easily produced. “12 feel-good foods under 500” calories is not an article to reach the masses, just the specific mass of people interested (or faking interest) in weight loss or health in general. It’s not for everyone and it’s OK with that, which makes readers feel more special (reference “OMG that’s so true!”).

Lists aren’t good or bad, they’re just popular. They’ll fade. In fact, click here for 10 Reasons Posting Lists Won’t Survive 2014.

(made ya look.)

¹love, love, love: meaning ‘love’ but using the word several times for emphasis, convincing yourself that this is totally worth at least three loves. Thanks, Pinterest.

“Advertising can’t bull$#%& anyone any more”

“Advertising can’t bull$#%& anyone any more”

Some time Saturday afternoon, six buddies and I were recovering from a night out in Buffalo, looking to bounce back quickly because about a dozen more people were on their way for a second night on the town. With the remote to the hotel TV missing, this was on. I caught maybe 17 minutes of it before someone who was uninterested found the remote and I was overruled. I managed to remember the title and now can watch the whole thing. Super interesting stuff about the future of advertising. The bottom line still matters most, but it’s no longer the only thing that matters. You can’t just sell the sizzle. You actually have to sell the steak, too.

Martin Luther King, Jr. heard again for the first time since ’62

The New York State Museum in Albany is celebrating an important find on this Martin Luther King Day — a recording of a 1962 speech by the civil rights leader that hadn’t been heard since it was delivered in New York City.

The difference between the definition of a word and its meaning

I’m tempted to use someone else’s words — a quote — to describe how I feel about words. But I have plenty of my own. Might as well use ’em.

Words don’t create meaning. This is a common misconception I’ve found among people who often can’t say what they mean because the meanings of words don’t fit how they think or feel. On the contrary, meaning creates words. Meaning came before words, not the other way around.

Someone breathed and realized that the act of inhaling was a thing. It needed a name. Breathing. To Breathe. I breathe. Before they knew it, the meaning was not just the word “breathe” but also “I” … “I am a thing and I can do something. I breathe.”

Suddenly, I’m a thing, and there are other things I do. And they all need words.

I’m not a linguist, but I hope this is how languages were born:

“When two people love each other very much, and those two people have no clue how to say what they mean, they come up with words that come as close as they can to those shared concepts and agree that those will work.”

This is my evidence that words don’t create meaning. I breathe and you breathe, but we are not the same. I love and you love, but we do not love the same.  Our definitions are similar at best (enough to pass as tools for a society to work) because our individual meanings are unique.  When you don’t have the words to say what you mean, it’s because you’re starting with the meaning of words instead of the meaning of what you think or feel.

Words are given so much power, they are so heavy that we fear our intended meaning is not enough to support them. Love. Hate. Yes. No. Always. Never. But what I meant was …

This means something different to you than it does to me even though we read the same words. It’s not because we don’t agree on what the words mean, but on what I mean when I use them.

I either used 355 words to say something or nothing about words. It depends on what it means to you.

Note: My posts won’t be like this all the time. In fact, this may never happen again. Or it might. I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of words. Sports, politics, arguments that they should change the word “airport” to “plane station” – these all can happen.