Author Archives: TheBlackhairedGuy

About TheBlackhairedGuy

I'm a guy. And I have black hair. Well not really because it is slowly turning grey. I suppose TheNotquiteBlackhairedGuy doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? I write the blog EverythingSucks.blog as well as dabble in some freelance writing.

Changing Brakes Sucks: A DIY Guide

Our (shitty) Dodge Caravan has an awful sound coming from the right rear tire. It only happens when you push on the brakes and is a horrific grinding sound. I don’t even need to look to know what it is; the brake pad is totally gone and the metal that the pad is attached to is grinding the fuck up against the brake rotor. This isn’t good and if you go long enough without fixing the problem you can fuck the brake rotor up. And those things are a bit more expensive (and more of a hassle) to replace compared to brake pads.  Even if this wasn’t the case, any sane person would want to fix the brakes sooner rather than later just because it sounds so horrific. You almost don’t want to push on the brakes because of the dreaded sound it’ll make.

We also have an impending winter storm here in northern Illinois. Most forecasts say we’ll get nearly a foot of snow, or at least 8 inches, and that isn’t fun at all. I love to procrastinate as long as I can, but shit, the idea of changing brakes on Sunday or Monday after a foot of snow has fallen sounds terrible. It’ll probably be cold, windy, and all around uncomfortable. If you’ve ever worked on a car before you already know it’s uncomfortable enough: no need to make it worse by doing it in a snow drift.

Better get my ass outside and knock that out. I’ll write a brake changing guide for everyone so they can 1. understand how to change their own brakes and 2. understand the hell I went through.

Find the Correct Parts

First off, you need to find brake pads to actually install. Head down to an Autozone or Advance Auto Parts (or whatever auto parts store you have in your location) and tell them the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Pray to whatever higher power you believe in that the person serving you isn’t braindead and gives you the correct parts. It’s not fun to rip the car apart and then realize that the brake pads aren’t the correct ones. Better have a spare car available if that happens, otherwise you need to put the tire back on, exchange the wrong parts for the correct ones, and then try again if you still have any willpower left.

Bonus points if you can see your brakes through the rim. Take a new one out of the box and see if they’re at least vaguely similar. You can do this is the auto store parking lot.

Jack the Vehicle Up

Find a suitable location to put a jack under the car and bring the tire off the ground. Pray to God that your car isn’t so damn rusty that jacking the car up starts to crack the fucking metal.

Loosen the Lug Nuts

They’re probably so damn tight that you should’ve loosened them before jacking the vehicle off the ground. Shit.

Put Vehicle Back Down, NOW Loosen the Lug Nuts

Now we’re back on track with only a minor fuck up. Get a big fucking wrench or tire iron out and loosen those damn lug nuts. Don’t take them completely off because it having the wheel not attached is a bad idea, but break them loose.

Jack Vehicle Off the Ground (Again)

Just like before. You’re really good at this part now.

Kick the Shit Out of the Tire/Rim to Get It to Come off

If it’s been awhile since you’ve removed a tire (which is probably true if the brake pads are fucking non-existent) it’ll probably be somewhat rusted to the hub itself. So go to town on the thing and hope you don’t injure your foot by kicking it too violently, or have the car fall off the jack. You might have to get creative with the tire iron/pry bar to get it off. If using this technique, do not fuck up the brake caliper!

Look at Stuff

Take a look at the brake caliper and notice what silly design choices your automaker made when designing the car. Does the caliper itself swing up? If so you only need to remove a single bolt. Do you need to remove both bolts and remove the caliper entirely to get the pads? Whatever the case, take a good look, hate yourself and dread the bullshit you’re about to put yourself through.

Get Tools to Remove the Caliper

Take a guess about what you need to take the caliper off, find the tools, and try it. It won’t be the correct socket. Some are regular bolts, metric or imperial (yeah good luck!), some are Allen heads, and some fucking idiot that designed the Chevy Cavalier decided to use Torx Bolts. No fucking joke. This step will take like twenty minutes and I hope your toolbox is either portable/nearby and filled with everything imaginable.

Optional: Go Buy the Correct Tools

If you don’t stock Torx bits in your toolbox, good luck, because you’ll probably have to go buy a set just for this one job. Hope that the stores around you aren’t far away or closed.

Take Caliper Off

Once you get the caliper bolts off, you take the caliper off. As with everything involving cars this is easier said than done depending on what shit you need to deal with. Grab the pry bar/tire iron and start ripping away on the damn thing until it eventually comes off.

Remove and Examine the Brake Pads

Next, you take the old brake pads off. Depending on the design you might be able to take them out of clips or whatever while some are attached to the caliper itself. Dodge decided to attach the outer pad via clips that are nearly impossible to get off. You need to lift and pry on them at the same time which is just asking to get your knuckles busted on something. I think there’s a rule that states that you can’t work on a car without getting injured. It’s impossible.

Also take a look at how fucked up your old pads are and wonder why you never got around to being responsible and fixing the issue earlier.

Push the Caliper Piston Back On

If you have a newer vehicle you might be able to do this by hand, but probably not. Walk back to the toolbox and grab a c-clamp. Hope that it’s big enough. Hope the caliper is designed where a single c-clamp will work. If not, go find/buy another clamp or get creative. Cussing usually helps this step.

Remove Caliper Bolts

These bad boys are meant to float inside the caliper, so you need to lube them up before installing the new pads. You might be able to remove them by hand, but I’ve found I need to reattach the wrench to them and twist the bolts while pushing them out.

Clean the Damn Things and Grease Them

I hosed mine down with some WD-40 so they didn’t look like shit. After this, goop a fuckton of grease on them so they move properly like they’re supposed too. Put them back where you got them from on the caliper. This shouldn’t be too hard because of all the grease on them.

Put the New Pads On

Insert the new pads either into their holders/clips on the rotor or on the caliper. Fuck around with any bullshit clips that the manufacturer decided to have just to fuck your day up. Ponder the simplicity of the job in certain repair manuals that state “installation is the opposite of removal.”

Put the Caliper Back On

This is straight forward. The hardest part is trying to line the fucking thing up. You’ll probably find that it’s difficult to actually get everything back where you removed it from. Maybe hit some things with a hammer/tire iron to get it all installed? I don’t know. Cuss some more, drink another beer, etc. Whatever you need to get ‘er done. You’re almost there…

Tighten Caliper Bolts (But not Too Tight!)

Once again, fuck around trying to get the bolts back in their holes. If you did good on the previous step this might not be so bad. If you still don’t have things precisely lined up you’ll need to fuck around until the bolts actually find the holes.

Tighten them according to their specs, and if you don’t know the specs (like 99% of us) just tighten them to where you feel okay with driving the vehicle. You don’t want to get them too tight because then the next time you change brake pads you’ll find yourself hating your past self for being such a safety-minded, strong-armed asshole. You don’t want them to be too loose because then the caliper could probably fall off.

Put the Tire On

Self-explanatory. Fuck around trying to line the tire up with the hub bolts and all of that. Probably cuss. Cussing should be mandatory for each step here really…

Lug Nuts, Jack, Tighten Lugs

Jesus Christ, you’re almost done. Slap this shit together as quickly as you can so you can be done with it all.

Give Up and Don’t Even Attempt to do the Other Side

I’ve heard you’re supposed to change both sides at the same time, but fuck all of that. The right rear side was making that awful griding sound, I replaced those pads, so I’m fucking done. Who cares?

Drive the Car Wash Your Hands Put Your Tools Away

Put everything back exactly where you found them so when you do get around to doing the other side’s brakes you don’t have to fuck around with finding the tools. If you’re really feeling like a go-getter, maybe find a piece of paper and note what size/types of tools you need to complete the job. I’m not this type of person, but I can dream can’t I?

Wash Your Hands

Your hands are black and covered in supposedly carcinogenic brake dust, dirt, and grime, along with brake grease. Don’t even think about driving the car yet because you’ll make the steering wheel nasty. Walk inside and wash that shit. Take a good five minutes doing so because you’ll need to wash them like six times to get them remotely clean.

Test Drive the Car

Pump the brakes before you drive away! If you’ve pushed the caliper in really far you need to extend it before you drive otherwise you’ll hit the brakes and the car possibly won’t do anything like stop.

Take solace in how quiet the car truly is now. And if it isn’t? Well, another side has fucked up pads so hate your life, go buy more beer, drive off a bridge, or whatever else makes you feel better. If you’re feeling up to it, go buy more pads or set to work on the other side. If everything is okay, jack on the brakes a few times violently to make sure everything works like you need it to in an emergency.

Relax

Congratulations! You’re done! You were productive! You fixed a problem with your car! Try not to think how fundamentally changing the brakes is a 15 minute job and somehow it took you three hours to finish it. The second rule of working on cars is that nothing ever works out in your favor. But you got it done. Good job. Fuck cars.

War Sucks

Well, we’re in the eighth day of 2020 — and the new decade — and it already seems the world is spiraling into chaos. That didn’t take very long, now did it?

I’m sure everyone is aware, even vaguely, of what has been going on in the Middle East lately, specifically Iran. To recap if you’ve totally been under a rock: the US Trump (we/us because I’m a proud ‘Merican.) decided to kill/murder/assassinate a big, important Iranian general. Making this action even more terrifying was that fact that he was killed in Iraq; he was in an allied country! Right away you should realize that bombing a target at an international airport of one of our allies is a bad idea. Iran was pissed and threatened us, and Trump, our wonderful commander-in-chief, taunted the shit out of Iran on Twitter. Yes this is how the world works now.

I was hopeful this would be the pinnacle of the entire crisis. Like Trump and Iran would swing their metaphorical dicks around trying to show the other up, and then we’d all forget about it after a few weeks. Nope. I was at work a few hours ago when I heard the newest news: Iran had attacked some of our airbases with missles! Oh. Shit. What would our Dear Leader Donald J. Trump do now? I’m almost certain a retaliatory attack is inevitable, and I’m haunted by the possibility that Trump tosses a few nukes towards Iran just because. I have the sinking feeling that this might be the brink our country is about to go careening off of and my anxiety skyrocketed. I’m on edge. I’m terrified. What if today is the September 10th or the December 6th — the taken-for-granted calm right before the world inevitably changes? I hope this post ages terribly and I can look back in a month and say, “Well, I was worried about nothing!” But until then…

One of my resolutions this year is to only drink on Sunday and I nearly failed today. War? Were we really on the brink of an actual war? For what? What’s the reason? It feels like dominoes falling where we just push the reason back to the last cause, and so on, until nothing makes sense anymore. Iran attacked our bases. But they did that because we killed their general. But we did that because he was a bad guy or something. But he was probably a bad guy because Trump sanctioned Iran and withdrew from the nuclear deal that was in place. And he did that because Obama negotiated the treaty and he attempts to undo anything related to Obama. And so on. Nothing here seems to call for an all-out fucking war though. It’s like a bunch of kids fighting: “I didn’t start the fight, MOM! HE HIT ME FIIIRRRRRSSSTTTT!

I wouldn’t call myself a pacifist because some wars do seem like noble causes and inevitable. The last war in my opinion that was “worth fighting” was World War 2. If we never became involved in WW2 the world might be a very different, darker, and scarier place. We were attacked by an actual country, not a few random ragtag terrorist working on their own, and they had an agenda to wreck the shit out of our navy to dominate the Pacific and protect their empire. It wasn’t a NATO action or anything: Japan attacked and we did what we had to do. The attack on Pearl Harbor also got us involved in kicking Hitler’s ass, which was good for everyone. The war made sense mostly: there were Good Guys (us and our allies) and the Bad Guys (in WW2 there was also THE REALLY BAD GUYS). And before that? The Civil War. It was unfortunate but our nation’s history up to that point almost made it inevitable. Once again it’s an example of a massively important war that shaped our country’s history afterwards. We got rid of slavery. We kept the country united. While war is never a wanted thing, sometimes it almost seems required where there simply is no choice besides standing by and watching the world descend into chaos and evil.

What about Vietnam or Korea? Bullshit, relatively pointless wars with us getting involved via NATO. The Bad Guys here didn’t seem that bad: they wanted to unite their countries but were communists instead of capitalists. I don’t understand why thousands of soldiers had to die for that bullshit. What about Afghanistan and Iraq part 2? There were no Good or Bad Guys there; sure the terrorists were bad, but they’re not an actual country or a well-equipped military. They’re hidden and nebulous. This still didn’t stop us from getting thousands of our own people and civilians killed. About 3,000 people died on the September 11th terrorist attacks; more of our people died avenging the attacks in endless years of war than died in the attacks themselves. Something seems wrong there, doesn’t it?

This possible war seems like one of those latter examples, and even an extreme example of it. If this does turn into a full-fledged war, what will the narrative of it be twenty years from now? What was the grand plan and evil that we had to fight against? Islam? “Terror?” There is nothing. It’s pointless. It’s a war myself — and I’m assuming the majority of Americans — are against.

I think of the average Iranian citizen and how I feel about them. If I seen an Iranian in public, would I harm them? Would I kill them? No. What would I do? I’d probably ignore them because I’m socially inept, but I’m sure I’d smile and maybe say “hi.” I have nothing against them as a people, because they’re just like me. They wake up, go to work, feed their families, and they want the same thing that I do: to simply be able to live their life the best they can. I bet there are thousands of Iranians sitting at their computers trying to type bullshit blog posts, just like I’m doing. I think of how these random, average Iranian citizens must feel about the possibility of a bomb plummeting into their house at night and killing their family. Is this what we’re trying to do here? Mohammed in Iran just wants to write his blog, eat some tasty food, and relax. But somehow when we start talking about “terrorism” and “evil” and “retaliation” we forget about the average person — in the US or Iran — that simply doesn’t fucking want a war. There is no grand sacrifice when your life is lost in a pointless war.

Update a-half day later: This was a post that I churned out at 11 p.m. when the world was still on edge. I decided to post it at 10 a.m. in the morning to actually get some readers, but this was almost the time Trumpy decided to actually address the nation. It seems I was wrong, and as much as I’m a person that likes to be right, this is not one of those times. I’m so happy that maybe this post was a bit anxious and fearful and that it turned out to be unnecessary. Either way I got to vent and felt better about it. I also don’t think we’re out of the woods yet: Trump could get restless in the next month and do some more dangerous shit. But for today? Things seem to be much better than they were 15 hours ago.

"When it Rains, it Pours!"

“Now you can smash all the windows that you want, all you really need are some friends and a rock.”

– Dead Kennedys

The universe, while being such a bro to me a few months ago stringing meaning and understanding along in ways that have been impossible to ignore, has recently decided to fuck me hard with a series of semi-related and unfortunate events. I totally hate the universe right now. It can go fuck itself for all I care.

Firstly, let me mention that our newest car, a Ford Focus Electric, has been dead and at the Ford dealership for three weeks now. Why? I don’t know. It’s a fully electric car and when it shits out it shits out in a way that is impossible for the home mechanic such as myself to repair. This was the risk of buying an electric car in 2016: I bought it to be a pioneer on the new frontier of clean, efficient, battery-only vehicles (popularly abbreviated as BEV: battery electric vehicle) and I can’t say that I’ve been wrong about that fact. Trying to get an EV fixed, even in 2019, does feel like the frontier. No one knows a damn thing about them so it’s always back to the dealership for any serious repairs. So far they’ve quoted me $1,300 for the initial repair (and with my insurance deductible that I’ve frugally set at $1,000 to rake in a low premium payment, I’m basically fucked) and they’ve found another issue that they’ve been working on for a week without any update. (I really hope the main drive battery has a fatal flaw; under Ford’s warranty I might get a brand new battery out of this bullshit.)

Double shifting in the meantime — working hellish hours at UPS delivering everyone’s bullshit Christmas packages — didn’t leave me with much choice in what to drive. I still needed to get to work and even more so now that I needed to foot the bill for the EV to be repaired. Luckily we have a derelict and non-insured 1997 Saturn SL-2 sitting around that I was able to fire up and drive to work illegally. It also has no exhaust just to really paint the picture here of how shitty this car is. I literally wore earplugs on my way to work. Gotta protect your hearing, right?

Luckily, a friend at work has had sympathy and has been driving me around on break. Why take two cars when one is illegal to go eat shitty fast food when you can take a single legal car? Anyways, between shifts we seen this asshole driving around:

My friend’s window is dirty as fuck btw.

The picture might not be the best quality but it should be obvious that all of this person’s windows have been smashed the fuck out. Sides, back, and even the front windshield had been completely destroyed with only the front window still present. (Front windows are coated in something so if they do smash in an accident you don’t get your face, neck, and other parts of your body sliced up by flying glass. The window was fucked up, but still intact.) Funnily enough, as we seen the side of the vehicle we realized that not all the windows were destroyed: the driver’s side window was unharmed which was hilarious to see. They even had it rolled up as if that singular window could keep the interior warm while driving around in the Illinois winter. The coolest part was probably how they didn’t even try to clean up the debris, the busted glass shards were still futilely hanging in place as if the owners were indifferent or even proud of having their vehicle fucked up so badly. We had a ton of laughs about this person’s vehicle and misfortune and wonder who exactly they pissed off. Were they cheating with someone and their spouse found out? Did they owe someone a lot of money? You have to pay off those gambling debts and drug dealers, guys. 

As a totally unrelated note that actually is related, I’ve been listening to a fuckton of Dead Kennedys lately, especially the song “Riot.” I really think it’s one of their best, if not the best, song by them. It starts off slow enough but has some serious building energy where by the end of the song the band is just going of the fucking rails. It’s nuts. It’s also a terribly ugly song with a disgusting bass line driving the entire affair, but it all works in such a visceral way.

The song is about rioting (huh…), and how the people who riot end up getting turned away from the ones who really matter, the corporate overlords that keep them fiscally enslaved and stuck in their hourly jobs, and end up fucking up their own neighborhoods. It’s full of fun lines like “Now you can smash all the windows that you want, all you really need are some friends and a rock.” Shit. I’ve been listening to it on the way to work to get fucking hyped and have been joking about busting windows with bricks/rocks because it’s the punkest thing ever. Yeah, let’s smash shit! Gimme a fucking rock or a brick! I’ll go find my supervisor’s supervisor’s manager and smash his goddamn windows out. He’s the real slave-driver!

And then I was fucked by the universe in a cruel bit of irony. I came outside one day to see this sight on the beloved Saturn:

I, like the SUV earlier, had no effort to clean the glass shards up. What’s the point?

Well shit. We called the cops and he didn’t do a fucking thing (because what could he do?) but did suggest that insurance should cover it. “Well it’s not insured. It just sits here as a spare,” I said. I didn’t admit to taking the car to work uninsured because I’m not stupid, and the cop gave me a look that said, “Well, you’re fucked without insurance.” I can’t even drive it now sans-window because of admitting to the cop that I didn’t drive it. It would be pretty obvious if the same cop seen it barreling down the road, loud as hell, and without a window that I was the guy with the uninsured car. Guess I’d have to foot the bill for the Ford EV and the Saturn’s window. Raking in all the extra money during Christmas seemed much less appealing with the impending $1,500 in possible repairs.

The next night we discovered the neighbor’s car windows were also smashed. These were some bold motherfuckers roaming the neighborhood. I fantasized about catching the culprit(s) and violently throwing them to the ground and letting my temper take hold as I beat them to a pulp. I’m talking blatantly fantasizing about torture here: dragging them back to the house to pepper spray them in the face or pull their fingernails out. Tie them up in the basement and kick them in the balls. Maybe steal any sort of cash in their wallets or pockets, because who would the cops believe anyways? Me, the victim of a crime, or some punkass teens who have been smashing windows for something to do? Sadly after two weeks they haven’t returned and I haven’t been able to beat some ass. But boy when I hear a sound outside my adrenaline goes haywire.

Luckily we have four vehicles at our house. The Saturn was out with a busted window and the Ford EV was doing who the hell knows what at the dealership, while our Dodge Caravan and Dodge Ram were still going strong. Or were they? A few days later we discovered the Ram had a dead battery and jumping the thing didn’t help: the battery was legit shot. That was an easy fix though. But today? I hopped in the Caravan, started it, and noticed the power steering wasn’t working. “No big deal,” I thought. Then I noticed the lights were kinda dim and checked the voltage via a Bluetooth stereo cigarette lighter plug-in thingy: 11.8 volts. The battery wasn’t charging. The issue seemed to clear up on its own and considering the power steering issue points to a problem with the drive belt, but I haven’t even started to troubleshoot the problem yet. I just don’t even care to think about it yet.

A common bullshit saying is that, “when it rains, it pours,” and while I shit on stupid sayings like that all the time, well, this is a perfect example of it. The Ford EV dying during the worst time of the year, the Saturn getting its window smashed out after seeing someone driving with their windows smashed out — and joking about it — all why listening to the Dead Kennedys screaming about smashing glass with rocks/bricks at least four times a day. Having the neighbor’s also inherit our bad karma didn’t feel very good either. Like I felt like my bad karma was the real cause of their smashed window. (I don’t even know why I have bad karma; I donated $100 to Team Trees like two weeks ago.) Being unable to get revenge on the window smashers. Discovering the Ram with its dead battery and finding an impending issue with our Caravan: when will we stop getting shit on?

Introspective Drinking Sucks

A few nights ago I was sitting on the steps outside drinking and was having a great time doing so. I got into my head and realized a few really important things that should’ve been obvious but due to the intricacies and difficulties of actually knowing yourself weren’t that obvious to me until I had a few drinks. I also thought it might be fun to list them as sort of a rough “to-do blog list” for 2020 because each one has quite a bit of baggage to unpack. In total I could probably write about seven blog posts about the topics below, especially the ones involving artistic expression and personal fulfillment, and the ones that struggle to ask, “Who am I? Really?” They are:

  1. I can’t comprehend that people actually care about me. More importantly I don’t know what causes me to be this way.
  2. I don’t know if flying or flight instructing is the correct career choice for me due to the lack of artistic expression.
  3. Artistic careers take a fuckton of effort, way more than I thought. Do I need to go all-in on artistic creation or can I do it as a hobby? To be a writer, do I need to ignore all other jobs/careers and write nonstop or can you forge a job out of a hobby?
  4. I doubt any possible success at an artistic career (like writing/blogging) because I believe I have no talent in it. Even knowing that inherent talent is bullshit — it’s all practice to be good at something — I still can’t get my brain to accept it. It’s the same as people caring about me: I know I have talent but something in my brain won’t accept it. And I don’t know why.
  5. Everything I do makes perfect sense to me for the most part. And everything anyone else does makes sense to them. People don’t act irrationally outside of a few exceptions that are probably like less than 1% of the human race. No one has anything to explain to anyone, and I’m included.

Phew. I don’t even want to elaborate on anything currently because they’re all headache inducing. I also have to state that when I realized these things I had a totally neutral state of mind; there was no depression or happiness or any emotional context to them; it was just me being totally honest with myself. But what I do want to elaborate on here is what got me to realize these things: alcohol.

The introspection that I’d gotten the other night is what mostly drives me to drink. The deep meditative state that you sometimes get. Sadly, and kinda proving my point here, is that this is a rare thing indeed: I’ve only achieved this state one other time while drinking that I can remember. One of the problems with alcohol being shitty is in how uncontrollable it is. I have no idea what mood I’ll be in when I actually get a few drinks in me.

A good example is tonight. My original plan was to have a few drinks and start pounding out blog posts/stories. It’s taken a total of seven drinks to get me to type this with the rest of the night being totally pissed away with me being distracted with random things like YouTube and video games, and this is how drinking always works. Some nights you piss hours away playing Kerbal Space Program. Some nights you set off drinking in a good mood and find yourself with crippling depression thinking about how you could possibly carry on with another day. Some days you get balls-deep into a six-pack and find that ideas come out of nowhere and you start on a marathon session of writing despite being exhausted. Some nights you believe a bike ride and a naked swim in the river is just the thing you need to do. Some days you sit on the porch and have deeply introspective thoughts that lead you to areas of your psyche that you never knew existed. The truth is you never know what you’re going to get and that is shitty indeed.

My Cynical New Year Sucked

“Hey, there’s my cynicism and negativity! I was wondering where it went. After being moderately positive the past few days I was worried I was going through legitimate changes. Good to know it’s still there.”

I live in the central time zone and this means we’re one hour behind New York’s time, it being in the Eastern US. This usually leads to the TV on New Year’s being changed to watch their New Year’s celebration because it’s kinda like the actual celebration for the entire US. I wonder how West Coast people feel about this, seeing New York do their thing three hours before their New Year, but maybe West Coasters don’t give a shit about New York and what they do.

I think we turned it to Dick Clark’s New Year’s 2020 (apparently the real title of this bullshit is Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020) immediately after the ball dropped. I noted this was on ABC because I immediately started to wonder what shitty network was covering the New York celebration. ABC. Those were the assholes.

The first thing to kill my mood was the total mass of people in Times Square. Probably tens or hundreds-of-thousands of people all huddled around for who knows how long. This always reminds of a Reddit thread I seen a long time ago where someone pointed out that people in Times Square are usually tourists; no real New Yorker would subject themselves to the unique hell that is the Time’s Square New Year’s Ball Dropping shit. Even stranger is that to actually be there you apparently need to show up like a half a day early. These people had been standing here waiting for 12:00 a.m. January, 1 2020 for over six hours, maybe more. And making this even worse is most wear diapers. If you leave to take a piss/shit you lose your spot. And it’s so cool to be there that you can’t do that! So in this crowd of maybe a few hundred thousand people I imagine them all with adult diapers filled with piss and perhaps shit and the torture of standing in a single area for a quarter of a day. How can you be happy with a filled diaper? Were these people really happy? Or were they miserable and just wanted those sweet social media likes and to maybe end up on TV?

After the actual ball dropped, the crowd seemed to thin quickly. But there were still the lingerers laying down in confetti with their significant others taking selfies. You know, for that sweet social media credit. Selfies everywhere. I get it — capture the moment — but shit. It reminds me of the St. Vincent lyric from the song “Digital Witness”: If I can’t show it, you can’t see me. The only reason to do anything in life is to take pictures of it and show others on social media. If social media never sees it, does it really happen? I was in New York! I was in Times Square! I wore goddamn diapers full of piss to do so! My life is so much more adventurous than everyone else’s!

Then there’s the jackass who proposed to his fiance on national TV. Oh boy. Let’s be as contrived as possible. At first I thought they were going to interview some random guy asking the usual bullshit questions. “How does it feel to be here? What’s it like?” I mean they sorta did this but the guy looked awkward like he had another purpose for being important enough to be interviewed, turned to his fiance, and did the whole typical proposal deal. “There’s no one else I’d rather spend this moment with,” he bends down on one knee and get’s a box out — here we go — “would you marry me?!” She cries, nods yes, and the crowd goes wild.

This was all about 12:10 a.m. New York time — 11:10 p.m. central time — and my mood was already spiraling down the drain.

Ryan Seacrest was hosting along with some lady (apparently Lucy Hale? Okay.) and when I turned to the channel there was like six Asian people joining him. I don’t know who the hell they were, maybe a k-pop group? And then there was some asshole dressed in a shiny purple outfit with tattoos on his face. Who the fuck was this? Some part of my mind that holds information I didn’t even know thought, “Is that Post Malone?” How the fuck do I know what Post Malone looks like? My mom is all about that dipshit and goes on and on about how good he his. “He can make a rock or a metal album because he’s that versatile,” she has said before. I still didn’t think I knew what he looked like. I don’t really listen to his music or care, but goddamn he was dressed like a douche.

I was thinking of posting a picture but, naw, fuck it. Google it if you really want to see him.

He was also drinking what I’m assuming was alcohol out of what looked like a red Solo cup. Part of me wondered what it would be like drinking alcohol on national TV. Did he have his cup and asked the producers if he could drink it on the stage? How would you feel drinking on national TV? Somehow I don’t think any of these thoughts occured to Mr. Malone dressed as awfully as he was.

Then we were gifted with a segment about the Powerball lottery or something. It was a drawing of a possible number between one and five. And whoever of the five people won would get a million dollars. Obviously this wasn’t a real lottery because what lottery has a one-in-five chance of winning a million dollars? It was a promo stunt. A way to ring in the New Year by telling people to play the fucking Powerball lottery. Fuck all to all those people who have gambling problems and made a resolution to change that awful addiction. Play the goddamn Powerball lottery everyday in 2020! Especially cringy was when the host asked the typical question to the new winner: “So how do you feel right now?!”

Then the Jonas Brothers. Once again I don’t really know their music and don’t give two fucks about them and don’t hate them, but it was strange to see them live. They’re a “boy band” apparently just like N’Sync and The Backstreet Boys were back in the 90s, and mostly the three stood on stage and sang songs while a band played all the actual music behind them. One of them played a shitty three cords for an entire song with a single barred finger on the fretboard. That was it? Why the fuck haven’t I record any music yet? I’m not an amazing musician but I can plop a song together with more than three bar chords. Fuck. I can even use a delay pedal!

Luckily the next song had a bit more going on where they actually played some music of consequence. Still, the backing band did most of the actual work. The crowd went wild, and wow, wouldn’t it just be cool to be there? What would it feel like to actually be there?!

That’s about it for the national TV bullshit. I migrated into another room and watched a Scott Manley video about the most important achievements in space in the past decade. Ya know, actual informative, interesting, and non-corporate-sponsored-fun-and-partying enjoyment. But what does it feel like to be part of the crowd?! Doesn’t that matter?!

It wasn’t finished yet though. A certain segment of my family used to love calling us at midnight to scream “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and fuck dealing with that. Many years ago I just stopped answering my phone, sometimes even turning the damn thing off. It would happen every year like clockwork because it basically was clockwork.

It’s been a bit different the past few years with the advent of fancy social media sites like Facebook. No calling is required now; all you need to do is find some gaudy, low-quality .jpg or .gif and spam it to your entire friend list on Facebook Messenger. Obviously it contains the cancer-causing and virulent phrase along the lines of “send this to all of your friends!” which apparently people actually follow. Maybe I should send images with my bank account number saying, “Send $100 to this account and God will bless you!” I’d probably be rich.

Since this family segment is also their own little family, I got the same image from four fucking people. Aunt, uncle, cousin, and somehow my dad. My dad went even more drastic with this image by posting it to his Facebook Messenger story. He has never posted a single thing to his story so I was actually surprised. “Dad updated his story? What? Why? Really?” I opened it up and it was the same fucking image flashing away, tempting my mind to finally have a seizure.

As much as this makes me physically ill to see again, I feel I need to post it. I’m sure you guys know exactly what I’m talking about but here it is anyways:

Let’s see if we can keep this moving to friends and family. (The double space is intentional between “this” and “moving”)

As much as the first hour prior and after the actual New Year sucked, my mental state is still pretty positive. It weathered the storm of my cynicism. I mean I’m still cynical as fuck, but everything else is positive. I think about the people I actually care about — not those insane fuckers in New York or those in Miami watching The Jonas Brothers — and hope they had a good night and will have a good 2020. I hope everyone achieves their potentials this year. Despite the cynicism, I’m trying to see today as a fresh start and will try to do my best in 2020 even if I am terribly flawed just as everyone else is flawed. 15 hours in and the New Year is pretty good so far.

New Year's Resolutions (Don't) Suck?

Note: I don’t want to write. I don’t want to post. I don’t want to think about the optimal time to schedule a post. But I have to: this post has a dictated timeframe with it being about the goddamn New Year. I simply don’t have a choice. So time to buckle down and force something out against my will. This is the struggle of blogging.

I’ve never been a fan of making New Year’s Resolution (as you can read here) but I recently watched a YouTube video by Veritasium that has somehow gotten me totally hyped for the New Year. (I’ll link it below if I can figure out how to do so. You know, learning WordPress and all…) Like I’ve bought into all the bullshit about it for some reason. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt like the past year or two has been an incomprehensible blur and I want a firm date to change my mindset and make small but perceptible changes to my self and my life? I don’t know. At this point I’m not trying to question my random positive mood here. I’m running with it as is because it is a rare and uplifting thing for me to do.

HOLY SHIT LINKING TO A VIDEO WORKED! ON POST 101 I’VE LEVELED UP!

If you didn’t watch the video, Derek explains a few key takeaway points about resolutions:

  1. New Year’s is the best time to set out to do something
  2. Despite #1 most resolutions fail because of the following three reasons:
  3. Resolutions need to be small and not too big or dramatic
  4. They need to be measurable and clear. Vague resolutions will almost always fail
  5. They mustn’t require a ton of willpower

When you’re given these restraints you instantly see the idea of resolutions as better than the popular pipe-dreams you typically hear spouted off. Instead of criticizing people for picking random and unachievable stuff like “be a better person” or “lose weight” you start to realize that maybe by picking smaller and easier to achieve things you might actually be able to fundamentally change yourself in the 365 366 days that are 2020 (2020 is a leap year?! Hello February 29th!). Given these restraints you might start to feel emboldened: maybe New Year’s Resolutions are a good way to start your journey throughout the New Year?

As for my actual resolutions, I’m leaning towards something like giving a single compliment to someone every day. It’s not dramatic, it’s measurable, and achievable but at the same time me going out of my mostly negative and reclusive shell to actually dish out compliments might do me good in the long run. Like Derek said, it’s the idea behind improving 1% a day which leads to massive improvements over time. Now that I think of this more, it does seem pretty adventurous too; what do I do on weekends when I’m only around family? Do I make a pact to only compliment strangers because complimenting family is too easy? Where I’ll have to compliment the denizens that inhabit Walmart or the local derelict gas station? There are some details to work out here for sure because I see some easy ways out for my future self. But I think it’s a good start.

Another possible idea I’ve discovered scouring Veritasium’s YouTube page (he mentioned putting resolutions in the comments) was to wake up early every day. I have a nasty habit of waking up at 12 p.m. after pissing away hours in bed looking a Reddit between 12-3 a.m. so this might help my mood, writing, blogging, productivity, etc. Other random and possible ideas I might settle on are reading something everyday, writing something everyday, and only drinking on Sunday. They are mostly small, easy to enact, and measurable (if I clear up the general “something” that is) so should be accomplishable, but as stated I still have two days to flesh out my ideas into something more concrete. Let me know what your resolutions are below so I might be able to steal them if they’re good enough.

New Year’s Resolutions suck. But this year I’m finding myself embracing them.

Closing Note: I’ve also had this terrible idea to make shirts hating on the New Year.

Selling Tshirts Suck (Part Two)

If you look up in the menu you will see a new item you can select: it says STORE. Guess what it fucking does? It links to a stupid teespring webpage where you can buy a single design of this blog’s logo.

I’ve tried this t-shirt selling deal awhile ago and you can read about that adventure here (this blog’s banner was simply me taking that post’s banner and MS Painting a “Part Two” over it). I don’t even remember what my sister and I were trying to do really, but if I recall correctly it was trying to sell “locally themed” t-shirts via Facebook advertisements to gullible people that live in Rockford, Illinois. Not that everyone would be gullible if they actually bought any shirts; it’s just that I think anyone buying any product, art, or anything I have to do with as gullible because I lack self-esteem to think that I actually offer anything of quality to the world. But let’s not get too deep here.

The fact is I’ve seen a few other intrepid, motivated, and entrepreneurialistic bloggers selling their own products and had the natural thought of, “Well, why can’t I do that too?!” The truth is I probably don’t have enough of a following to sell fucking merchandise but there is also the fact that there is zero downside to offering the shit anyways. I don’t need to pay anything. I’m not living of the earnings I hope to make. If someone buys a shirt, cool, and if not, who cares?

I thought it would be easy to take my sister and I’s old teespring account and revamp it to an Everything Sucks store and while I was sort of correct I was also sort of wrong. As with anything there are many difficulties you didn’t realize you’d run into. I had to edit the storefront name. I had to make and upload a new banner. I had to resize the stupid thing to make teespring happy. Then I had to make a shirt. How hard was it to just take the logo and plop it up on a shirt? Apparently hard enough that it took me a literal hour to figure it out. You see, I do all my “graphic design” on MS fucking Paint and an app on my Android phone called “Phonto“: I do not fuck with Photoshop at all. Basically I found myself shipping files from phone to computer and vice versa trying to figure out how to make a transparent background so the shirts would be available in multiple colors and wouldn’t look totally stupid. It was way more work than I thought it would be. But it’s done.

So that’s about it. December once again had record viewers (over 600 this time!) so that’s always nice. If you want to check out some merch, feel free to do so. I think I’ll plop a “The 2020s Will Suck” shirt up tomorrow or something, maybe that will sell because you know it’s going to be true. Perhaps the ultra-pessimist might find the design speaks to them? One nice thing about a blog called Everything Sucks is that I can make any shirt that says “[TOPIC] Sucks” and it’ll fit right in. So if you have a certain shirt you want, let me know and I can plop one up right after I reteach myself transparent backgrounds again.