Writing Practice – 3/20/18 – Bad News

Write about bad news…

It’s worse when the delivery is poor, too. It’s easy to hear when it comes from someone who loves you, who cares about you, who will be there to hold you after the revelations sink in and your heart has disintegrated into the void in your chest at the announcement. Because then you have someone to be there while you stumble through the next few moments, the next days, as you struggle to understand, to experience; as you fight to perform the monumental task of keeping on, keeping going, when all you want to do in the face of such insurmountable odds is to walk away.

Bad news is not the opposite of good news. Good news makes you happy. It’s on a spectrum, an axis, a dimension. Sad on one end, happy on the other. So good news drives you along the happy-sad line from less happy to more happy. It’s maybe linear, maybe exponential, maybe logarithmic, maybe discontinuous. But at least it’s on that path, that pattern, a graphable subset of the whole.

Bad news, though, that shit is a different breed. It doesn’t do the opposite as good news. It doesn’t drive us down that axis, doesn’t make us sad, doesn’t make us less happy. Bad news is an altogether different bitch.

Bad news incites feelings of revolution, of betrayal, of hatred, of incompetence. It is not on the happy/sad spectrum – it is not on any axis at all.

Not perpendicular – not even a dimension at all. Bad news brings feelings completely uncorrelated to the news itself. It brings inspires installs turbulence within the spirit.

It enlightens destructive tendencies, destruction to self, destruction to environment, destruction to imagination, destruction to hope. Bad news irradiates the possibilities of future happiness with ultraviolet, emotion-destroying, logically-consistent-and-yet-absolutely-incomprehensible emotionless arguments.

Bad news fucks you up. And not in ways that can be protected against. There is no “bad news life preserver.” No “this is gonna fuck up your head, so grab an emotional prophylactic” condom. It is not random, not linear, not predictable, and yet also not incomprehensible.

Bad news is bad – not for the outcome, but for the period in between, that space, that time, those days or weeks or months from the time when you first hear it and the last acts are complete. “Oh, he’ll die in 2 months.” Well, then, my life is a shitshow for 2 months and for twenty years after, as the echoes of that bad news reverberate through the empty chambers of my heart forever.

Bad news. It’s bad news, man. It’s the torture that just keeps giving, long after it should have stopped, long after the events unfolded. Long after the “healing” is done. Long after the heart has moved along, the society has moved along, long after your counselor says “I think you’re good here,” long after the surface scars have healed. Bad news is a poison waiting, slowly working, beneath the surface, eating out the insides in a perpetual, relentless destruction of the body from the soul outward.

Watch Review – Mocelli.com

A couple of months ago I saw a Facebook ad for Mocelli.com – they would send me watches for free, I just pay shipping ($13.00 each). This is to “get the word out” about their brand, in the hopes that people would see what I was wearing, ask me about it, and then they’d eventually get more paid business.

So, after browsing around a little, I ordered 3 – the DaVinci watch, the Business Classic watch, and the Luxury Fashion Rome. I didn’t do this until after I ordered, but eventually I found lots of Google results for “is Mocelli a scam? YES!” Eh, we’ll see. At least I’ll get a blog post out of the review if they’re not that bad.

I just decided, “Hey, I know I need a new watch, even if it’s not that great, how bad can it be? It’s probably worth as much as I’d get if I went to Target and bought a $13 watch there.”

The DaVinci

Looks great, don’t it?

This one was ordered first and arrived last. Not sure why, but it was. I’ll get to the review of this one later, because I want to give my impressions as I remember them happening, and I received (and opened) the other two first.

The Business Classic (BC)


Who doesn’t like more dials?

The Luxury Fashion Rome (LFR)

Sweet! Check out those guts.

I ordered these two as “add-ons” to the original order, so they were  shipped together. They arrived in a plastic grey package, no box, no instructions, nothing. Maybe that should have been my first clue.

Next clue – they have the “Val s(USD $)” on the package. The LFR had a value of 0.47, while the BC had a value of 2.42. Just a bit under the $79 advertised. Uh oh – what have I done?

Opening it up, each watch is in a plastic bag with a cushion around it. No box. Eh, what should I expect for free? It’s not like I thought these were going to be Patek Phillipe or anything.

The Luxury Fasion Rome review

The LFR looks nice. It’s got a gold-tinted edge, a pull-out knob for adjusting the time, the second hand is sweeping around … wait … does that say “IV” at six o’clock? IT DOES!

Further inspection reveals this: whoever put this together clearly doesn’t know how to use Roman Numerals appropriately. Instead of “IV”, they wrote “IIII”. And for 6, they put “IV”. Which is actually 4. Some little nugget of truth must be buried in there somewhere, because for 9 it’s “IX” and 11 it’s “XI”, so at least something must be getting around in that forced-labor camp. If only they’d been consistent.

Next thing I notice while trying to put it on is that the leather on the band is extremely stiff. Almost impossible to bend it back to slide the pin through to hold it. I wouldn’t want to put it on or take it off more than once a day because of this. Not a good thing in my –

Hold on – let me look at those gears a little more – HOLY SHIT! Those aren’t gears at all! This isn’t a “skeleton” watch like what you see advertised by Rolex, or even Stauer (I see those in the SkyMall mags when I am afforded the luxury of airline travel – hint hint). Nope, those gears right there? Those are a single piece of metal, stamped into the shape of gears. They don’t move, they don’t oscillate, nothing. Just there for eye candy and to deceive the simpletons. Well, call me Charly, because it worked.

Next – there are also statements on the product page as follows:

  • Brand Name: Susenstone     I highly doubt this. There is no brand name written anywhere on the watch. I did a search on amazon for Susenstone, and there are a number of watches, but this one did not show up.
  • Feature: Back Light, Rattrapante, Auto Date            I have no clue what a Rattrapante is supposed to be, but clearly there is no Back Light or Auto Date. There isn’t even a manual date on the thing anywhere. False advertising? Clearly. Worth shouting about? Eh, probably not.
  • is_customized: Yes              Uh, no, that didn’t happen. Nothing at all is “customized” about this watch.

Overall – probably pretty fair advertising to give it a value of $0.47. Had I looked a little more closely at the image before buying, I probably would have noticed the flaws. But, it was on a cell phone, it was cheap, it was an impulse buy, and so I’m not sweating it.

On to the next!

The Business Classic review

I’m expecting a few different features with this one. The buttons at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock, on a watch like this, are most likely starting, stopping, and resetting some chronometer (stopwatch) elements. With the three inset dials, surely one of those is “hours” and another is “minutes” and the last is “seconds”. Plus, the word “tachymeter” on the rim should be able to be used to find an average speed. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) So there has to be some kind of stopwatch feature, right?

WRONG, bitch! Pulled this watch out and I see three four things wrong with it right away:

  • 1 – the top and bottom buttons DON’T DO ANYTHING. They don’t even push in, to give you the illusion that you’re doing something. They’re just nubs, pips, stand-out things even more useless than nipples on a silverback gorilla
  • 2 – Those little inner dials? Yeah, they DON’T DO ANYTHING either. They just sit there, with fixed “hands” that don’t move. They don’t even rotate on their own, to give you the illusion that they’re doing something. They just sit, pointing at 26, and at half past 1, and at 60. Not sure what they were intended to do, but they’re clearly not achieving that part of the mission.
  • 3 – the little hour markers, with the white rectangles outlined in silver – yeah, those are bogus as well. How can you screw that up? Well, so far 2 of those little silver rectangles have fallen off. They’re now floating around inside the face, and potentially gumming up the works. I wonder how long it will take the others to fall off, too.
  • 4 – Tachymeter is spelled wrong on this one. They put it as “tachymetre”, as if it is paralleling the differences between British and French spellings of “meter / metre”.

I think this is supposed to be copying this one:

Yazole Men’s Quartz Dress Watch, $20.98, SRJ Galleria

That one, in fact, may have actual moving parts inside, and therefore have a value of something like $20 listed. However, even this is sketchy, as that website has a total of 0 reviews for that product. Another scam? Perhaps.

At least I overpaid for the BC. I mean, I could have gotten the same item for either $10.45 or as low as $4.10 (free shipping!). I know, because my Amazon search for “Susenstone” turned up at least 3 hits for this same watch. Looks like I could have saved enough for a large Starbucks. Oh well, at least I’ll be redeemed when my last watch arrives and is actually a $79 value that I practically stole from them for just the shipping.

The DaVinci Watch review

As I said, it took about a week longer for this one to show up. No idea why, it just did. It was packaged separately, again in simple grey plastic bag and a cushion inside. No box, no insert, no instructions. I guess the description on the Mocelli page showing the watch INSIDE A BOX was intended to be “hey, this is what it won’t come in, don’t get your hopes up”. They must have just forgotten that caption.

This is a bracelet clasp, not a buckle and hook type, so it’s going to need to be adjusted if I ever get around to it. The band says “stainless steel”, but it feels more like aluminum. I’d be shocked it it really was stainless. At least the face really doesn’t have anything to get wrong. There are little dots at all the hours, and even the 6 is written in the correct Roman Numeral, “VI”. Yay!

It’s a little heavier than the others, but not nearly anything like a comparable watch with actual stainless steel band and intricate machinery inside. I’ve held and worn those before, and you know they’re on your wrist. This one feels as light as the other two, comparable with my exercise wristwatch which is a plastic band and little digital readout. So nothing extraordinary here.

But would you look at that? My Amazon search an hour ago also shows this same watch as a “Susenstone Fashion Watch”, with a retail price of $4.98 + FREE SHIPPING! And again with the no reviews. I really ought to do my homework better next time.

A quick Google search for “da Vinci watch” turns up this same item on a few other websites, with prices at $14.99 or $19.99. So, yeah, I overpaid, but at least not as much as I could have!!! [Incidentally, other “DaVinci” watches on that page cost thousands of $$$. Don’t buy me one of those. If you do, I’ll return it for the cash and give you only half of the cash back. Maybe 30%.]

Oh, and looking at the “Val s(USD $)” on the outside of this bag, looks like the DaVinci has a value of 2.00. Which is about right for something that should retail for $4.98 without shipping cost.

As I said, this one needs to be adjusted before I can wear it comfortably. However, when I look at the band edges, it doesn’t look like there are adjustment pins so I can take a couple of links out of the band. If they’re there, they’re hiding pretty well. I’m kind of expecting that if I go to the Watch Stop in the mall I’ll get laughed at. And maybe I will – but that can be an addendum to this post.

In all, I think I could wear the DaVinci watch once a week, the Roman once a month, and the BC one not at all. It’s just not the kind of image (Hey, I’m a big phony!) I want to present when I wear a watch.

About the only good thing I can say about these three is that they’re reasonably accurate on keeping time. They’ve been set for about a week now, and all are fairly maintaining the hours and minutes. I suppose I could track it over a year’s time, but that seems like a lot of work for very little benefit.

Ultimately, the ratings are as follows:

Luxury Fashion Rome:  1 / 5 stars.

Could have gotten to 2 if they’d not pretended to make a skeleton watch and then just stamped out a pattern. And had the correct numerals. Still would have been overpriced at $13, because comparable are only $5 all over the web.

Business Classic:  1 / 5 stars.

Nothing more to say here – they’re a cheap knockoff, and it shows, and I even got overcharged at that.

DaVinci: 2 / 5 stars.

This one has a little potential due to design. Non-deceptive advertising in the “stainless steel” on the band would have given it at least a chance at respectability.

Mocelli Overall: 5 / 5 stars

They did their job. They got me to buy their product without returning it. Their delivery was solid, hitting on all the trigger points that led me to a sale. They managed to do it in a manner that got me to buy without doing any kind of due diligence about the product or the company. And they managed to get me to do it without a product return and, ultimately, with a 5-star review. [APPLAUSE] Well done, Mocelli. You deserve the minimalist profits you’ve skimmed from me this week. [APPLAUSE]

Writing Practice – 3/18/2018 – Concerning Happiness

Prompt: How far would you go to achieve your happiness?

I admit- this may be limiting me. But I won’t push past the boundaries of another’s satisfaction or happiness in life to achieve my own. If it requires me to leave a wake of destruction in my path to achieve that “happiness”, then I have the wrong idea of happiness or the wrong idea of the ideal.

I should not have to go to such great lengths, either. I should be able to find happiness wherever I am, whenever I am, without needing to search and seek and journey. I should be able to get to a level of happiness by my everyday interactions – by the things I am doing for myself, for my children, for my community, for my nation, for my world.

I should not need to look far. I am and should find happiness in the alarm clock – in the running shoes. In the dirty dishes, that transform themselves under my great care and safe tutelage into sparkling clean ones.

I should find happiness in a well-folded shirt. In an empty e-mail inbox. In a to-do list completely crossed off. In watching my son hit a double. In reading a story my daughter has written. In throwing crusts of bread, in throwing the whole piece out for the squirrels and the chipmunks and the sparrows and chickadees.

I should find happiness in the pen – in using it dry from my words on the push. I should find happiness win a well-covered page. I should find happiness in a well-read book. In a philosophical insight. In a historical lesson I can only now understand.

I should find happiness in ladybugs – in empty wine glasses – in watermelon rinds and runny noses on a winter’s morning. I should find happiness in a lit candle, burning to fend off to ward off to beat away the darkness of night.

I should find happiness in a hug from my mother. In a smile from my brother. In the touch of my lover. In the morning wind, in the stinging rain, in a subway car too full for me to squeeze in. I should find happiness in an evening newscast, and in laying my head on the pillow at night.

And – I should – So I Do.

Writing Practice – 3/14/2018 – Describe revelry

Describe revelry…

It is laughter and dancing. It is shouting with excitement. It is hand-clapping, and hand-slapping, and hand-waving, and hand-wringing. It is dancing in the streets, arms and shoulders and knees and ankles keeping a disjointed, “I-don’t-care-because-there-are-more-important-elements-to-enjoy-than-rhythm” unfocused pattern.

It is eyes sparkling with joy. It is kisses on cheeks, kisses on lips, kisses blown to the crowd, kisses caught by the crowd and returned, a hundredfold, a thousand times, an simplification far greater than any microphone and speaker set the finest money could buy.

It is a celebration with a complete stranger, hugs and camaraderie together at once, a moment, a moment which stretches for minutes, an hour, a moment which becomes an era, a moment that transforms the timeline into “Before” and “After”.

It is a transition, it is a celebration, it is a new way of seeing the world, through not only my own eyes but the compounding effect of a myriad like-minded persons, pooling our experiences together in this one instance to become something more than ourselves, something greater than ourselves, something richer and fuller than the aggregation of individualities.

It is a transsubstantiation, a making of something old out of something new. The old, being togetherness. And the new, the individuals coming together in the experiencing.

It is an overwhelm. It is a superposition. It is a phase change, a sublimation from one state to another. It is a world of difference, encompassed in the minimality of space; it is a universe of symbiosis metamorphosing into one. From the many, to the unity. Unity of purpose. Unity of experience. Unity of vision. Unity of life.

Writing practice – 3/10/18 – Fresh air

Write about fresh air…

It comes with the changing season – winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter. Freshness is not the smell, or the sound. It is the taste – the taste of newness on the tongue – the taste of renewal, of restoration. Of the passage of time.

You open your mouth to breathe in the newness, the evolution of the air around, and you experience a different sensation than just the day before. Where once was cold, now is growth. Where once was oppressive heat, now is crisp autumn of life. Where once was moderation now comes cold, darkness, bitterness. Where once was a way of life, now is a way of simple sustenance – just making it – just getting by – just being.

To see “fresh” as a quality of the measure of the quality of the air, a hard, scientific measurement of particulates or infectants or smogginess, is to replace the reality of the experience. That is to minimize the way of understanding all that surrounds.

That is a smallening approach. “Air is fresh if the halbenberg index is at 3.0 or less.” Yeah, but is 2.999 not fresh? Is 3.0001 not fresh? How do you measure, with one sensor or a million? Take the average, the lowest or highest, or some percentile? Do you take readings in the morning? Evening? Continuously? Why the simplification of some things that should be complex? How about we recognize that there are a myriad, an uncountable number, of ways to consider this world, and if we are the ones who ruin our enjoyment because of gamification, if we are the ones ruining ourselves and our ways of looking at this world because we are so dependent on someone else to tell us what is a good or what is a bad thing, then we have lost.

We must return to trusting ourselves. We must return to being ourselves. We must recognize that there are more than one perspective in this world, and what is right, good, clean, or fresh for me may not be right, good, clean, or fresh for you. We have numbed ourselves. Our experiencing muscles have atrophied – and so have our decision-making muscles.

We have outsourced all such choosing to others – “Well, it was recommended in my feed, so I’ll try it.” We have absconded abandoned we have abdicated our responsibility to be in charge of our own living, and that has made us weak, simple, joyless, vulnerable, and, ultimately, doomed. We must retake our authority over our lives. We must again decide to decide for ourselves.

We must relinquish the relative ears and comfort of allowing others to decide our lives, and once again take hold of the authoritative reigns of ourselves. We must drive beyond the simplicities of creature comforts, we must push against the bonds holding us back and we must be free, must live, must smell and taste and see for ourselves that the air is good, is clear, is fresh once again.

Writing practice – 3/2/2018 – Vacation

Write about a family vacation…

Anticipation. Of fun, of laughter, of some danger. Of spending too much money on tourist traps. Of the inevitable arguments, about who is on who’s side, who touched what, who gets to sit in the good seat.

Planning. Of how to get there. Of what to do. Of where to go, where to stay, how much to pack. Be spontaneous or scheduled? Be open or structured? Be regular or non-traditional? Make memories either way, any way.

Packing. What will be on the first day? And the second? What do you put in your carry-on and what do you put in the bag that you pack on the back. Shirts, pants, shoes, belts. Toothpaste, shampoo. Phone charger. Charge cord.

Driving. Which route? And then, when we get into the car, do you put on the GPS immediately? Or do you try to wing it for a little while? Flinging it is just much more fun, because you don’t have to worry about rigid schedules, and you have the flexibility to deviate to that “world’s largest Golf Tee” exhibition when ever the mood strikes.

Driving. Driving. Driving. Stop at a rest stop, for a bathroom break. Clowns-out-of-a-Volkswagen first. Stumble up to the restrooms, evacuate bladders. Then approach the vending machines – find them “OUT OF ORDER”. Swear under your breath. Back to the car, hit the trunk and break open the packed snacks. Drive.

Drive. Drive. Play the “alphabet game”. Lose to the six-year-old who saw the sign for “Quincy’s Down-Home Restaurant” first and therefore got to R, then S, then T before anyone else was even close. An insurmountable lead, enough to take it all the way to the Z and earn the first traveling trophy of the trip.

Drive. Drive. Arrive. Tumble out of the van once again. Tumble into the condo, like cats exploring in their new environment. “Check out the bathrooms.” “Did you see that grill?” “Oooh, the view is spectacular!” “Hey, the neighbors have a license plate from Montana, that’s a hell of a drive.” Discover. Settle. Regroup. Smile. Hug. Huddle & plan for the next day. Unwind with a glass of wine and beer on the porch while the kids watch SNL reruns on the pull-out downstairs.

Smile. Hold hands. Stare at the moon. Enjoy family, for tomorrow it starts all over again, and wish this moment to last for as long as it can until the memory is indelibly etched into your mind, permanent, an artwork notable for it makes the whole world better for its existence.

Writing Practice 2/24/2018

Write about irritation…

You know how sometimes you get that little bit of raw spot on your butt because you’ve been wiping too hard, too long, right on that same spot?

You know how your little brother is always singing that same chorus, over and over, an dover and over again?

You know how your partner, whether you’re in a fully recognized, legal-status relationship or not, has those little quirks that just get under your skin and bother you? It’s not like it’s really offensive enough to throw you out of the relationship – not a deal breaker or anything – but it is something that just makes you say, “Oh, no, not this shit again?”

You know how your parents are getting on you to clean your room, even though you don’t see why it should be clean, you don’t mind it like that, it seems perfectly fine to you that there are clothes and books, and candy wrappers, and old tags from the shirts your grandmother bought you three months ago, and Monopoly money, and your viola, and your homework , and your best friend’s harmonica, and your sister’s glasses case, all on the floor, you don’t really mind it, it just takes a couple of steps, a little bit of extra concentration,and you’re good, you can lie down in the bed and read a book and you don’t even notice the extra socks and hangers and the old burned-out light bulb that’s there, and since it’s your room you don’t even know why they bother trying to understand or make you clean it up, because, sheesh, it’s not like they have to sleep there, anyway, they have their own space, dammit, they have enough to do to keep a job and hold down a place to live, and why are they wasting their time wondering about you anyway?

You know how your parents are always annoying you with their insistence they’re not going to move to a nursing home? That they’re totally fine and capable of taking care of themselves, except that in the past month there have been: (1) small fire in the kitchen, and (2) falls, one for each, and (3) instances of forgetting to put the trash out to the curb on Tuesday morning, and (4) examples of forgetting the neighbor’s names, and (5) calls from the library, to You, to ask you what the password is for logging on to their account so they can renew their books. Yeah, none of those things, by themselves, are bad enough, but on the whole they make a good case for Assisted Living, and while you know they’ve got the money for it, your sister out in Nebraska doesn’t want to see them go, she’s just beside herself with worry, and yet you can’t help but fear it’s less about the care (or lack thereof) they’ll receive, and it’s more about the $$$ in her eyes, trying to angle for that inheritance to help pay off her own law school debt (currently in applied as she awaits Tommy and Angelina’s graduation, she absolutely must be their mom, they just can’t get on without her).

So, yeah, that’s a bit irritating, don’t you think?