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I’m a freelance interactive content strategist and copywriter in Austin, TX. See my work here.

I post about whatever geeky stuff interests me. Sometimes I post funny stuff that I make up. About once a week I post videos of my cat Yeti ignoring me. I welcome reader suggestions and feedback. I seldom get any.

Oh, yeah. I’m also the recording artist currently known as ManChildATX.

Thursday
Jul312014

What is destroying the Afghan pinecones of Daniel Drive?

This is a pinecone from one of the two Afghan pine trees in front of our house. For the first time I can remember, this year this particular tree bore cones. They are like dense little sap grenades. 

This is the debris field below the tree. Some unseen stealth creature has been having a party by decimating these pine cones. An acorn? OK, yeah, I could see eating an acorn in a pinch. But one of these stinky, sappy pinecones? Come on.

 

This close up shows how this demonic creature strips each cone lobe by lobe, leaving the stripped lobes and the decimated cone carcasses all over the damn place.

Several times I have been looking up in the tree trying to figure out what’s going on, only to have a piece of pinecone rain down on my face. Whatever is doing this is fucking with me.

Yet I can never see a bird or a squirrel or anything in the tree. Damn you, you damn dirty stealth pinecone decimator!

But enough about me. How you doin?

Wednesday
Jul302014

Latest rejected letter to People Magazine

My Dear People Gentlemen!

I get why Little Prince Georgieboy’s first steps are exciting! Who wouldn’t?! I definitely want to be kept up in the loop for all past and future playdates! Bath-time tantrums?! Check! And plans for a ROYAL SIBLING?! Are you kidding?! OMG! 

What I don’t get is why we are shouting about RAISING A LITTLE PRINCE!

I’m afraid we’ll wake the poor little regal darling from his nap! So, SHHHHHHHH!

I mean, shhhhhh.

Yrs vry sincrly & long live the Queen, etc., etc.,

R. Ichard D. Yllema

PS: Stiff upper lip and all that, what, what.

Monday
Jul282014

The blog post that keeps on giving: Restoration Hardware Allaire fan assembly instructions

Sophisticated illustration from the original blog postDid you know that you can email me to give me feedback or offer comments about this blog? Or to make suggestions about things you’d like me to write about? Or just to be nice and say hello?

Did you know that NO ONE EVER emails me to give me feedback on this blog (or for any other reason, for that matter). 

Well, I take that back. A couple dozen people have emailed me to thank me, and all of them have thanked me for one single blog post. 

It’s a blog post from way back in 2011, where I make fun of the assembly instructions for the Allaire floor fan from Restoration Hardware, and I explain how to actually assemble the thing

Three years later, I am still getting emails in response to that one post. Incredible. Here are some of the comments I’ve received: 

Thank you so much for your Restoration Hardware Allaire Telescoping Fan! If it wasn’t for you I would not have figured it out — RH was  of no help and were telling me to hire a professional to assemble it.

Thanks for your instructions, I would have pulled my hair out trying to figure out the installation of this fan.   The instructions with the fan were HORRIBLE.   Thanks again and thanks to Google so I can Google how to get stuff done.

Without your RH Allaire Fan instructions, we never would have figured out how to put this thing together! You saved us so much time. I still can’t believe they hide an integral part of this process under a black sticker. Unbelievable!  And, it’s obvious a non-English speaking person wrote the so-called instructions.

After throwing up my hands in frustration at trying to put this ridiculous thing together, I finally decided to Google whether other people found “pit the standing pole” similarly vague and unconstructive. The RH store and toll-free agreed that they, too, didn’t know what “pit” meant when used in this context, but other than telling me that they’ve sold 100 of these fans and no one else has had any trouble, they were of no assistance. I appreciate the blog post, the functional instructions, and validation!

Thank you so much for putting these instructions on line. I am glad I found them. I’ve seen some bad assembly instructions in my time and these rank up there as one of the best.

Thanks for writing, fan assemblers! Everytime one of you writes, it makes my day!

Friday
Jul252014

Bait bike, bait bike, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do if no one steals you?

Not sure if you can tell, but the padlock is doing nothing, really. If you forced the chain lock, you could slip it right off the bike and this padlock. Weird.This is the second bike that has been locked to this isolated signpost at the end of my block and seemingly abandoned. I’ve seen similar perfectly serviceable bikes apparently abandoned in the park across the street. 

This morning it hit me: dollars to donuts these are bait bikes

Once I realized this, I unconsciously started looking around trying to see if I was on Candid Camera or something. And then I backed away, slowly. 

Thursday
Jul242014

Cat has unexpected reaction to getting two mails in one day

Wednesday
Jul232014

Obsession: exposed edges of concrete footings

Bear with me here, because this may make no sense whatsoever.

It’s a challenge to find new things to blog about, mostly because I am so boring, and the boundaries of my fascinations and interests so seldom extend outside the mundanities of my own mind. A blog is supposed to be, in part, an expression of what makes the blogger unique. And one of the things that makes someone unique is his or her unique intrerests, the things he or she pays attention to that few others do. 

So, for me, we already know one of those things is full dog poo bags that obnoxious people leave lying around

And another thing is the edges of concrete footings that have been exposed by soil erosion. 

Why does this capture my attention? I don’t know. I wish I did. 

If I had to put it into words, I guess I’d say that it’s a simple, omnipresent illustration of our hubris in our belief that we can control nature in even the smallest ways.  

We want to place things in the ground permanently. We want them to appear to be rooted in and flush with the soil, so they appear to be a permanent part of our “natural” surroundings. So we dig holes, we make forms, we pour in huge blobs of concrete, we remove the forms and backfill the soil, and voila! We have created “permanent” infrastructure; smooth, flush with the surface, and, seemingly, eternal. 

But we can’t keep soil where we want it. And when it washes away, it puts the lie to our ability to make anything that lasts forever. It forces us to confront the fact that much of what we see as our “natural” surroundings was, in fact, put there by us to being with. And nature will have its way. It will wash the soil away until our concrete is not rooted in the earth, but teetering on top of it. 

I can’t help it. I don’t understand it. But this captures my attention. 

Here you can see where the concrete spilled out under its original form. This would’ve all been covered by compacted earth when this sidewalk was new.


Thursday
Jul172014

AirBNB new logo haters are sooooooooo predictable

The internets is all about the cutting edge and what’s new, right? Wrong! And especially wrong if you are discussing brand design. 

You may not know this, because you may actually have a life, but AirBNB introduced a new logo yesterday. My first thought was, “Huh. New logo.” My second thought was, “Oh, geez, I’m so uncool for not hating this.” 

Because a significant number of people spent a significant amount of time on the internets yesterday hating on the new logo. And sure enough, when I checked in, there they were, posting their snarky comments and their clever, acerbic Photoshop manipulations, raising a hew and cry that this new logo is the dumbest thing since, well, the last time a big brand changed its logo. 

In short, it is the WORST. THING. EVER.

Nowhere are the lowest aspects of internet cynicism and one-upsmanship more evident than in the certain sectors of the design community. If something new drops, you better not be standing between the haters and the bandwagon or you will get your ass trampled. 

So old. So atavistic. Sooooooo predictable.

The best (and filthiest) tweets about Airbnb’s new logo

AirBNB’s new logo faces social media backlash

Everyone Thinks AirBNB’s New Logo Looks Like a Vagina

Airbnb’s new logo sparks ridicule on Twitter – so what part of the human anatomy do YOU think it looks like?

A vagina or a bent paperclip? Airbnb rolls out new logo that sparks confusion, outrage, jokes

Wednesday
Jul162014

New Yorker typo: barfing dogs, or barking dogs?

Louis Menand’s overview of two new books about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the New Yorker’s July 21 issue includes this sentence: “On May 3rd, Birmingham police, under the direction of the public-safety commissioner, Eugene (Bull) Connor, trained fire hoses and sicked dogs on young protesters.”

Ahem. That would be “sicced.” Although sicking a dog on me would definitely get me to stop whatever it was I was doing. 

Wednesday
Jul162014

Ask a Pathological Liar: Are You For Real?

Dear Pathological Liar:
I don’t need to ask your advice. Instead, I want to ask about you. Specifically, I want to know if you are really a pathological liar, or merely some shill hired by the content syndicate that distributes your column. Frankly, my guess is it’s the latter. Based on my several marriages, I think I know from pathological liars. And I’m calling bullshit on your credentials.
Signed,
Stacy the Skeptic

Dear Stacy:
Ah, crap! You busted me. You’re right, I’m not really a liar, pathological or otherwise. And I am so contrite and ashamed. I hope you and all of my other readers will forgive me. But please allow me to explain.

Actually, it’s not Murtaugh Features Syndicate who hired me. They are just a front for my real sponsors: the CIA. And this is where it gets kinda complicated.

I admit that the root of my efforts to come off as the world’s greatest pathological liar really starts with a deep-seated need to win the approval of my dad. When he was the long-time covert head of the CIA, there was no one I looked up to more, but there was also no one I hated more. He’d go globetrotting all over, terminating a recalcitrant dictator here, fomenting a bloody revolution there. And then he’d come home and look at me with my 8th grade school books and my burgeoning careers as an amateur architect and veterinary surgeon, and he’d just have such a look of disdain on his face. It didn’t matter that “Afternoon Delight,” the song I wrote for Starland Vocal Band, was topping the charts and playing from every radio. To Dad, if you weren’t being extremely duplicitous in the service of your country, you were nothing.

And that really affected me. When you’re young and already fabulously wealthy thanks to the decades-ahead-of-its-time stock-picking algorithm you developed, people think you’re invulnerable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The last time dad returned from overseas—where he’d overseen the light-switch replacement of the entire Brazilian government with his squad of look-alike operatives—he sneered at me and said, “Hey, teenage multi-millionaire—when are you going to do something that means a shit?”

And it hurt. I mean it really hurt. So right then and there, I abandoned my cancer cure research (and I was SO close!) and vowed that I would make my father proud of me if it took every blood cell in my body. (Which, by the way, it eventually did, although I’m not at liberty to discuss my bionic hemoglobin replacement therapy protocol until the patent expires in 2018.)

So when the Murtaugh Features Syndicate people came calling, I saw my opportunity. Finally, I had a cover identity clever enough to allow me to take up and build on my dad’s legacy. After all, who is going to question the credibility a pathological liar?

Besides you, I mean, Stacy.

So, there you have it. No, I am not really a pathological liar with an advice column. Like my dad, I am the covert director of the CIA, a job I have enjoyed for almost two decades now. Thankfully, the terms of my contract allow me enough free time to enjoy my architecture, veterinary surgery and songwriting hobbies.

“Royals,” by Lorde, for instance? That was mine.

Whew! It feels great and is such a relief to finally come clean!

 

Tuesday
Jul152014

BitTorrent wants users to pay for content—bwahahaha!

Perhaps no other entity than BitTorrent is as responsible for creating the misbegotten attitude that all creative content should be free. The company makes peer-to-peer streaming software that it KNOWS its users employ largely to download pirated copyrighted content. But now it wants to create original content, and it wants its users to pay for it. Up front. Uh huh. And because outcomes on the interwebs are counterintuitive, paradox-ridden and frequently fly in the face of what is right and just, I am predicting they will succeed.

And because I am the worst prognosticator in the world, I hope I have just doomed them to fail.

NYT: BitTorrent to Try a Paywall and Crowdfunding (note: article may be paywalled—ha!)

Friday
Jul112014

Cat accepts challenge in Lightning Round 2014

Thursday
Jul102014

Guess who isn't one of the 50 most influential cats on the internet, and if you said "Yeti," you are correct.

Totally commercialized, bullshit list that Yeti is not on and does not want to be on. Unless he is.What a load of kitty shite! Friskies, the famous cat food brand, has launched a crapulous popularity contest purportedly listing the 50 most influential cats on the intertubes, of which you-know-who (Yeti) is not one of them!

I call bullshit. 

Who wants to be on that stupid old list anyway? Yeti is too busy. 

Those cynical Friskies bastards even have a quick and easy way of nominating cats to the list, but God forbid someone should nominate Yeti! And God forbid they should include his YouTube playlist as one of his “social properties” if they do nominate him. (Yeti’s YouTube playlist, featuring his 100 or so videos, may be found at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA5D9D361DD2DEFA3.) 

In conclusion, Yeti is not listed as one of the 50 most influential cats on the Internet and does not want to be, because any list that excludes him is a dumb, worthless list, although Yeti is NOT saying that if he was added to the list he might not grudgingly reconsider his position. 

To repeat, Yeti does NOT want to be on a list that he is not on. Currently.

That is all. 

Tuesday
Jul082014

Facebook posts from "Oversharing Tuesday"

#OST, y’all!

Until the age of 34 I believed vampires were real.

The inside of my left eyelid itches when I smell pancakes.

To save money, I sometimes steal my tips back when the bartender isn’t looking.

I’m letting the hair on my ears grow out.

Sometimes when I burp it makes me nostalgic, because it smells like the Frito pie served by my high school cafeteria.

I often feel like my life is a prequel to a movie I hated.

I’m one of those people who think President Obama was born in a foreign country, but unlike most, I think that country is New Mexico.

Sometimes I sit on the toilet to combat feelings of loneliness.

Writing this is one of those times.

 

Friday
Jul042014

Fireworks idiots compilations compilation

Happy 4th of July. Remember: Light fuse, get away.

Thursday
Jul032014

Cat whiffs on softball setup to hilarious 4th of July story

Wednesday
Jul022014

The Hive Mind Click-Bait Headline Project

 

As we all now understand, the Internet is a morass of overhyped and/or misleading and/or deceptive content, the sole purpose of which is to expose you to,

A) Advertising, and;

2) Links leading to more bullshit content.

These stories, which exist only to sucker us into viewing them, are known as click-bait.

Coming up with the content itself is easy. You either just make shit up, or you wait until the last paragraph to weasel out of the premise teased by your headline: “But as it turns out, despite hundreds of Internet headlines to the contrary, Kim Kardashian did not have an alien vagina transplant.”

No, it’s coming up with the premises themselves, as trumpeted by the headlines, that are difficult. And that’s where we come in.

Together, we can help those poor burned-out click-bait headline writers come up with ways of enticing gullible idiots to click on links they know in their hearts are bullshit, but are so bored and desperate for a little novelty they’ll click on them anyway.

After all, who knows better than we do what gullible, bored and desperate idiots want?

I’ve come up with some starter headlines. You contribute yours via Twitter, Facebook or email and I’ll add them here:

10 CELEBRITIES YOU NEVER KNEW WERE HERMAPHRODITES

VIDEO: MAN CELEBRATES 6TH ANNIVERSARY OF PERMANENT ERECTION

AUSTRALIAN MIRACLE: KITTEN SAVES ORPHANS FROM GREAT WHITE SHARK

INTERNET HEALTH CRISIS: ARE YOU DOING THIS POTENTIALLY DEADLY SURFING?

ARE YOU ON THE LIST? IRS TO REFUND 27 BILLION OVERCHARGED TAXPAYERS

YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE HOW THIS WOMAN PLAYS THE KAZOO!

DEADLY DOG FOOD: IS YOUR POOCH PROTECTED?

YOU CAN DO THAT WITH AN IPHONE?!

5 HIDDEN SOURCES OF IMMENSE WEALTH IN YOUR HOME RIGHT NOW

DEADLY SMARTPHONE BACTERIA: SEE IF YOUR MODEL’S AFFECTED

DOES TYPO IN CONSTITUTION MAKE YOU PRESIDENT?

PHOTOS: TAYLOR SWIFT CAUGHT IN DEVIANT SEX STING?

MICHELLE: THAT THING BARACK DOES THAT I LOOOOOVE

OMG! DID LEBRON JUST HAVE A DICK SLIP?

Hive Mind Contributions:

 

Tuesday
Jul012014

Altuve #27, my tribute to the Houston Astros' Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve is the second baseman for the Houston Astros baseball club.

I wrote this song honoring Altuve in 2012, his first full season in the majors

At that time, he was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.

Today, in spite of playing for the lowly Astros, he is on his way to becoming a bonafide star.

As of today, he leads the AL in hits, steals and batting average.

He is the first player in 97 years to steal multiple bases in 4 straight games.

He has a fielding percentage of .997.

In short, he is flat out AWESOME.

But he’s been my favorite Astro since the day he first broke in.

He brought real excitement to Astros fans like me for the first time in a long time.

He brought serious skills, heart, smarts and guts to the Astros lineup.

He has what it takes to win, and he wants to win.

Real bad.

Hey, Altuve!

PS: This song is on my forthcoming ManChildATX album, My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10 Million

Wednesday
Jun252014

Help me choose a bumper sticker design for ManChildATX

OK, I need your help. Can you give me your expert aesthetic opinion?

So, I’m working hard to make all of the goodies I need to fulfill the rewards for people who backed the Kickstarter campaign for my second ManChildATX album, My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10 Million. And I decided I may as well make a bumper sticker while I’m at it. 

I came up with about a dozen designs and slogans I feel certain will help get more people interested in my music. But they’re all so good, I can’t decide which one to go with. 

So I thought, “Let the people decide!” Tweet your vote to @richie_boy. Or email me.

Seriously. Oh, come on!

Design #1

Design #2

Design #3

Design #4

Design #5

Design #6

Design #7

Design #8

Design #9

Design #10

Design #11

Design #12

Monday
Jun232014

Cat Muses on Soccer's Gold Cup

Thursday
Jun192014

Justice inequality: Matt Taibbi’s The Divide, Sarah Stillman’s Get Out of Jail, Inc. 

 

I just read a one-two punch about the unequal dispensation of justice in the U.S. We’ve been hearing a lot about income inequality lately. Justice inequality is income inequality’s bullying little brother who does much of the dirty work that keeps income inequality thriving.

Matt Taibbi’s new book is called The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. I’d never read Taibbi before, although I’d always heard great things. Still, I wasn’t looking forward to a bitter polemic about how our justice system gives carte blanche to the haves and while putting the screws to the have-nots. But Taibbi’s book doesn’t read like a screed. He tells his stories and for the most part lets them speak for themselves.

Each chapter pairs tales of brazen corporate criminals on one side and some poor down-on-his-luck schnook on the other side. Time after time, the corporate criminals are not charged for their crimes, which harm countless lives and livelihoods by, for instance, bankrupting cities and government pension funds. They get off with fines, which are paid by their parent corporations, with no individual crooks ever held accountable, even when the evidence has them dead to rights. Meanwhile, the schnooks bear the full brunt of the criminal justice system for their trivial offenses, like driving without a license, or even imaginary offenses, like being stopped and frisked for no reason and then being charged for blocking pedestrian traffic on an empty New York sidewalk at 1am.  

What Taibbi gets so right is how we all have come to accept and internalize the sliding scale of equal justice that is based on economic caste. Yeah, we might want to see wealthy crooks get what’s coming to them, but we understand that they have the money to hire lawyers and make any prosecution a costly roll of the dice that might come up snake eyes. Meanwhile, we accept what happens to the poor because, well, we Americans don’t like losers, especially when we know we could become losers ourselves in a heartbeat. So, yeah, we think, it sucks, but better them than us.

Then just as I finish the Taibbi book, the latest New Yorker arrives with Sarah Stillman’s article Get Out of Jail, Inc., (sub req) about the private probation industry. These for-profit companies strike deals with local and state courts who have seen their budgets slashed by state governments. The deal is, they manage the probation of minor offenders, thus keeping the government from having to spend the money to house them in jail. Even better, they shift the cost of administering probation from the courts to the penny-ante offenders themselves. Not only does it make money for the courts and these for-profit businesses, it keeps these minor offenders caught in a Kafka-esque nightmare where they are under the constant threat of incarceration if they don’t cough up cash to pay constantly compounding fees and penalties.

In both Taibbi’s book and Stillman’s article it’s clear that these effects may be driven less by ideology and more by systemic lethargy. It’s hard and often fail-prone to prosecute the rich; it’s easy to prosecute the poor. So justice inequality and income inequality join in a self-reinforcing cycle.

Fun times.