How do I learn how to ask for help?

I’m currently listening to Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking audiobook.

I was born in the 1970s, grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, and a latch-key kid. On top of that, I’m an only child.

Amanda’s only a few months older than I am. We both grew up in the northeastern United States. She has an older sister, so she’s not an only child, like me.

If I ever wanted anything, I had to figure out how to get it myself. I had no one to ask for help.

I never learned how to ask for help.

She describes asking for help as this wonderful thing, where you just put your faith in the universe that if you just ask, that you can trust people who will answer.

The audiobook is filled with great stories of times where she’s needed things and just by asking, got what she needed, usually.

She tells the story of someone who doesn’t usually ask for help, and the one time he does, when he really needed it–to have his aunt reconcile with his dying mom–and she refused, it crushed him.

I may be misremembering details of the parable, as I was listening to it while driving, but I seem to recall her advice is to not only ask for help when you absolutely need it, but to just ask for help all the time, so that you can learn to handle rejection which is inevitable. Definitely sounds like some sage advice.

I don’t know how to ask for help.

The times when I need help, it’s because I don’t even know what I need. Exactly how do you ask the universe for help when you don’t even know what you need?

This is my conundrum. As someone who has learned to be wholly independent, if I knew what I needed, I would just go out and get it or go and do it myself.

I’m only half-way through Amanda’s audiobook, so maybe she’ll explain what to do in this situation. I wanted to get these thoughts down in writing while they were bouncing around in my head, though.

Do you know how to ask for help?

How did you learn how to ask for help?

Who does a boycott really hurt?

The latest social media shitstorm is about Guido Barilla saying, “I would not do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect toward homosexuals – who have the right to do whatever they want without disturbing others – but because I don

Sometimes, the “Best By” date is right

Sam and I just had a conversation that went something like this:

Sam: I think these peanuts don’t taste right.

Me: Oh?

Sam: The “best by” date said August… It’s been less than a month!

Me: I guess that’s why they don’t taste their best, now…

Sometimes, that “best by” date is no joke. Who knew? :-)

Why PRISM, and programs like it, really don’t matter

The government obviously has had this data for quite some time, and no one I know of has been grabbed by the secret police, nor could they use the data to stop the Boston marathon bombing before it took place.

Government organizations are simply incapable of making use of the data they have access to. I have no doubt of that. I am much more fearful of this breadth of data in the hands of an enterprising individual with a specific, focused agenda. Bureaucracy by sheer existence will ensure this data will remain impotent in the government’s hands.

We should focus on real threats, not imagined ones, like what our government did to a person like Aaron Swartz. After this PRISM leak, is the Everyman going to care more about “this risk to my personal freedom and privacy” (which never existed in the first place–what a farce), or what our government actually DOES do to destroy a citizen’s life, like Aaron’s?

Smart money on the fact that people care less about what happened to Aaron than what they THINK might happen to them (but it never will), simply because they are not Aaron. And, that is the tragedy here…

Oh, Starbucks, you really know how to get my attention!

Anyone who knows me should understand why this ad on the New York Times website home page caught my attention …

Starbucks blonde roast

(Zoom! Enhance!)

Starbucks Blonde Roast

I’m sure it tastes like garbage like all other Starbucks coffee, but it did get my attention.

Reminds me of that old clich

2011 In Review, Part 1

On the cusp between 2011 and 2012, I decided to take advantage of the much-maligned Facebook Timeline feature and briefly summarize some highlights from the past year.


Ted Williams, the man with the &dquot;golden radio voice&dquot;

January brought us the great story of Ted Williams, a homeless man with that deep radio-personality voice. It’s the kind of feel-good story that was a perfect way to start out the year. Or, at least try to …

Sadly, we learn of Bill Zeller‘s suicide, before which he posts an elaborate suicide note. I could write volumes on how I feel about this, but I’ll just leave well enough alone.

My friend Ian visited us in January, and his Prius wouldn’t start when he went to leave. I can now say that I’ve jump-started a Prius. With all those batteries, you’d think Toyota would have designed it to never need a jump start, right? Wrong.

I discovered that the Mobile Safari browser limits each open tab to 5 MB of memory.

In a fit of despair, I channeled my stress into a redesign of my blog.

Working briefly with Logan Zanelli, we launched Johnny B. Truant‘s new blog design.

Discovered an incredible YouTube video of Phish’s Meatstick from New Year’s 2010:

Egypt packed up its toys and went home, disconnecting the whole country from the Internet.

The North American blizzard dropped so much snow on us, it was the snowpocalypse.

I was able to get my email inbox down to 1,685 messages.

We tried to introduce the girls to Dungeons & Dragons. They both really seemed to like it.


Suzie turned 8, and Charlie turned 11. Both of them celebrate their birthday in February. This makes for a very hectic month, to say the least.

I was introduced to Van Canto’s version of Master of Puppets. A cappella heavy metal. Two great tastes that taste great together …

A brilliant bank robbery was committed, where the robber’s escape plan involved blending into a crowd of construction workers, crowdsourced from Craigslist, and the getaway vehicle was an inner-tube.

Through some friends-of-friends, I started doing some consulting work for (which is now no longer). Later in the year, this would transform into me working from


Good ol’ Charlie Sheen grabs a few minutes of fame with his “goddesses.”

Goodnight Dune

Julia Yu gave us Goodnight Dune, a fantastic parody of the age-old children’s classic of similar name.

The world reeled as Japan got pwnt by a tremendous earthquake and tsunami. The catastrophic event trashed the Fukushima nuclear power plants, and held the world’s attention with radiation scares.

Apple launched the iPad 2 tablet this month.

Mazda recalls a bunch of Mazda6’s because of some spiders nesting in its parts.

Blair River, the spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill, ironically dies from pneumonia, at the young age of 29.

Taylor Mali’s incredibly powerful poetry about the importance of teachers makes the rounds on the Internet, again:

The Passaic, Morris and Essex Counties were ravaged by intense flooding. Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time the area floods, this year.

Charlie and Suzie become “mages” at MagiQuest, starting with the one at the Funplex in East Hanover, NJ.

Facebook quietly starts working on Facebook Deals, most likely in response to Groupon’s tremendous success.

Facebook Deals

Lady Gaga reminds us that she was Born This Way. Matter of fact, we all are. Good to remind ourselves of this, once in a while.

My friend Maya returns to the United States, and I get to see her again after years since the last visit. It’s nice to catch up with old friends, even if it’s bittersweet.

Google finally launches their latest entry into the social web space with “Google +1.”

RSA, the company that’s well-known for creating one-time-password security fobs, gets hacked. This story will not end well …


Eric Whitacre leverages technology to create his “Virtual Choir 2.0.” This is the future I want to live in.

I published a HOWTO on tethering an Android phone via USB to MacOS X.

Epsilon has a data breach where millions of email addresses were acquired.

I did some DIY repair on my Mitsubishi Lancer, replacing the O2 sensor, so that the car would pass NJ state inspection.

We saw the US government nearly shut down because our politicians can’t agree on how to best overspend the American taxpayer dollar.

Steve Buscemi eyes

The eyes might be the windows to the soul, but Photoshopping Steve Buscemi’s eyes onto other people is a window into insanity. Thanks, Internet … everyone needs a new nightmare, every now and then.

My college alma mater, Rutgers, demonstrates that the “RU Screw” is still alive and well, by paying Snooki some $32k to perform.

In the “seriously, this happened?” department, the Med Peds Clinic of Fort Collins, Colorado, employed someone who thought it’d be a good idea to split a flu vaccine dose, by using half of the syringe and swapping out the needle. No, you can’t make this stuff up.

Just when I thought I lived in a sleepy little suburban town, tragedy strikes when someone brutally beats Frank the barber who dies from his injuries, right on Main Street in Bloomingdale.

Charlie's first communion

The four of us spent a week down in Atlantic City, at the Wyndham Skyline Tower.

Charlie has made her first communion at church this year, on Palm Sunday.

SETI stops operating the Allen Telescope Array. Millions of geeks cry out as they try to figure out what to do with their unused CPU cycles.

Adam Mansbach’s faux children’s book “Go the F— to Sleep” gets some press.

Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) gets hacked, officially. This won’t be the last time …


Just in case you forgot what the American “War on Terror” was all about, Osama bin Laden is finally dead. Little did Sohaib Athar realize at the time, but he live-tweeted the raid.

I finally broke down and bought myself a white iPad 2 (16 GB, Wi-Fi).

Nicktoons threatens to destroy more of my fond childhood memories, looting the corpse of the Voltron legacy.

The Library of Congress makes a wealth of old recordings available online.

Microsoft begins the process of acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. No shortage of “Sky.NET” jokes at this point.

Google launches its Music Beta service. Is it really the right time for a cloud-based music service?

We get to watch the FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker approve Comcast’s purchase of NBC, then go work for Comcast. No, I’m not kidding …

It’s finally official: I’m now working for as a Senior Solutions Architect.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama comes to Newark, New Jersey, and tries to tell Americans that we need to teach our kids ethics.

Watermelon farmers in China get screwed when they overdosed their crops with growth chemicals, resulting in exploding watermelons.

Sony’s PSN–you know, the Password Sharing Network–gets hacked again.

Macho Man vs Jesus

Harold Camping predicts the end of the world on May 21st, 2011. Sadly, the Macho Man Randy Savage dies on the 20th, just in time to stop Jesus from coming back to rapture us all. OHHHH, YEAHHHH!

Apparently some “faulty software” released 450 of the most dangerous inmates from California prisons. And people try and make fun of me for living in New Jersey … ??!

One of America’s largest defense contractors, Lockheed Martin, gets hacked. Allegedly, the breach may have involved the recently compromised RSA security technology.

The Ridgewood Cavaliers of Harmony, the barbershop society chapter I belong to, had a sing-out at Van Neste Square in Ridgewood, New Jersey, for Memorial Day.


Samuel L. Jackson, the quintessential Bad Mother F@#!ker, does the audiobook reading of “Go the F— to Sleep.” Naturally.

The girls have their Performing Arts Academy dance recital at the Shea Center on the William Paterson University campus.

Congressman Anthony Weiner resigns after a little sexting scandal, where he accidentally tweeted a link to a picture of his junk in his underwear. D’oh.

Neil Patrick Harris performs the opening number for the 2011 Tony Awards, pointing out that “Broadway’s not just for gays anymore.”

Web designers explore how repeating intervals that follow prime numbers in nature, specifically the cicada, can yield interesting visual effects, as well.

RIM’s stock drops in value by 20% overnight.

Michael Vick comes to Butler, New Jersey, to sign autographs, and winds up being greeted by protesters.

Google starts rolling out Google+.

Weird Al Yankovic releases his Lady Gaga parody, “Perform This Way.”

Britney Spears reminds us that she’s still a hottie, even after poppin’ out a baby, with her video for “I Wanna Go.” Hell, even if you don’t care for Britney, Guillermo Diaz who plays Scarface in Half Baked, appears in the video.

The state of Georgia enacts some anti-illegal-immigrant law, which totally screws the farmers in Georgia who can’t find enough affordable labor to harvest crops. If it wasn’t clear that illegal immigrants aren’t the problem before, it sure ought to be now.

Danous Estenor performs a heroic act of total badassery by lifting up a car, freeing a man who was trapped underneath.

Gary Foster made his alma mater Rutgers proud by embezzling some $19.2 million dollars. In America, you can only get away with it if you’re white …


Okay, it’s almost midnight … and I’m only up to July, so I’m going to post this now. Maybe I’ll get to do the second half of 2011, tomorrow.

Happy New Years, everyone!

November Rain? How about October Snow …

The northeast US got slapped with a nice blizzard this last week of October 2011, right on Halloween weekend. There are still green leaves (!) on the trees, and the weight of the snow has taken out many tree limbs and wires, resulting in Governor Christie declaring a statewide state of emergency. Millions of people across New England are without power, up to 600,000 of them in New Jersey alone.

Making the best out of the situation, our girls got bundled up and went outside to play in the snow. Here’s a short video I took of them:

Of course, Google takes G+ very seriously …

So seriously, in fact, that …

Google has just launched games on Google+.

Because, you know, having games on G+ is SO much more important than fixing ALL the horrible usability problems with G+ …

Every time I say something negative about G+, the rabid fanboys say something that goes like this (paraphrasing):

But, but, but, the G+ team is doing all they can to make the service, the experience, etc., better … just cut them some slack and give them time.

… and then, Google goes and does something like this.

Google Mannekin Pis

(credit: Accidental Hedonist on Flickr)

Launching games on G+ now is like pissing on G+ users and calling it rain.

It’s one of the features that users explicitly do not want. In the early days of G+, one of the things most commonly cited by the fanboys as giving Google an edge over Facebook was “the lack of games cluttering up the stream”.

Like I’ve been saying all along, everyone will slowly come out of the “ooh, new and shiny” haze they’re in, and realize how badly G+ sucks in comparison to Facebook.

Google+ will soon join the ranks of Google Wave and Google Buzz. Remember them? Yeah …

It doesn’t get better

Anyone who tries to tell you that it gets better is either full of shit or is trying to sell you something. Or, both.

It doesn't get better

People all around me in my personal life are going through very difficult times emotionally (and some physically) right now, and I don’t know what to tell them. I’d love to tell them, with sincerity and compassion, that things will get better. But, I can’t. I know it would be nothing but a lie.

When a loved one dies, or life just seems so out of control that you want to ragequit, or bad shit just keeps happening over and over … does it ever really get better? You might get used to it. You might even learn to care less. You might just grow numb and cold to it. But, shit, what’s happened has happened. Nothing is going to magically reverse it. There’s no “undo” to life. It isn’t going to get better, ever. That “it gets better” rhetoric is just bullshit.

I don’t know what to say to all these people who are hurting. I know enough about myself to know that anything I say is just going to make things worse, so I try really hard to not say anything at all. But, I don’t want my silence to be construed as apathy, either.

I wish I could cheer you up. I wish I could ease your suffering. I wish I could end your pain. I wish I knew how to say the right thing at the right time to you. I wish things would actually get better.

You’d never watch Cheers if it were like this

The other day, my friend Mike invited me out for some drinks at a local bar. It’s a nice bar with friendly staff and good food. I’m not much of a drinker; my vice is smoking. Still, I like spending time with friends, and bars tend to be a popular place to go and be social.

Now, this particular bar has no dance floor. It’s a bar on one side and a restaurant on the other. It’s not the kind of place that would come to mind when you think of places to go and dance. Just keep that in mind …

The night we went, the music was especially loud. Now, I love music and some ambient tunes in a social setting can be really pleasant. That wasn’t what we had that night, though. It was loud … so loud that I strained to hear anything Mike had to say and had to shout for him to hear me. By the time we’d left, my throat was sore and my voice was hoarse, and my ears were still buzzing once we got outside. This was ridiculous.

Here’s a pro-tip to anyone who runs a bar:

Unless there’s some titties dancing on the bar or around it, turn down the fucking music.

Remember that old TV show “Cheers”? Do you remember there being music playing in the background during the show? I sure as hell don’t. What they had were people drinking and socializing at a bar. Nobody would have watched that show if everyone were shouting over some high-energy music the whole episode.

I guess I just need to find a better bar. One that is actually run in a way that encourages people to enjoy alcohol while actually interacting with other people. Anyone have any recommendations for places within 15-20 miles of Butler, NJ? Or, are all bars like the one I was at, and I should just not bother going out for drinks any more?