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Recent Annoyances Conveyed as a Series of Open Letters

June 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Dear Wind:

Please stop.  Please. 

Your persistence was endearing if a little bit maddening.  But now there are fires, big fires, and you're just making the situation worse.  People are losing their homes. 

Please stop.



Dear People on the Bus:

Please shut the hell up.  Some of us are trying to read.

Yes, I'm looking at you.  I know you're excited to be headed off to college in the fall.  You should be!  You've just finished high school and your entire life lies before you.  It is a very exciting time.  I envy you, truly I do. 


I've already heard twice about the relative merits of various dorms at Purdue.  And while I'm sure that is a very important topic for you right now, and one deserving a great deal of thought, it's not very important to me.  What is important to me is the book I'm trying to read.  See me sitting there?  I'm the guy with the book in his hands and the scowl of frustration on his face.  The frowny face is there because you're sitting right behind me and talking very loudly, much more loudly than is necessary or, frankly, polite.  But I'll try to be understanding.  You're only 18.

But I'm looking at you two as well, sir and madam.  And, please pardon me for saying so, but you clearly don't qualify for the only-18 excuse.  If you're going to chat that's fine, but why must you sit across the bus from one another?  (And while I'm at it, madam, please explain to me why your purse requires a seat of its own.)  If you were to sit together, you could still enjoy one another's company without having to shout across the aisle.  It's a crazy idea, I know, but please do give it some consideration.

As for you, Mr. Headphones Guy, I am 100% on board with your decision to wear headphones in order to drown out the yakkety-yak from the rest of the bus.  If it were practical for me, I'd be doing the same thing.  I'm right there with you, man. (Nice headphones, by the way.  Are they comfortable?)


I probably wouldn't do it that loudly.  Yeah.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.  Mostly because, unlike you, I'm not so confident that everybody around me shares the same musical tastes.  (We don't.  In case you're wondering.)



Dear Microsoft Windows:

We've had some times, haven't we?  Oh, my stars, the times we've had.

Remember when I bought that secondhand PC in grad school, and I spent that afternoon figuring out how to get the Lost Treasures of Infocom running under your DOS emulation?  That was fun.  And remember how we used that same secondhand PC to work on my thesis from home when I couldn't stand another 18-hour stint at the supecomputing institute? 

Oh, wait.  I used Linux for that.  Nevermind.

Remember how I bought that laptop?  The one I brought to Clarion?  We had a lot of great times with that laptop.  We even wrote a few books together!  Man, that was an adventure.  If only we knew then what we know now.  Am I right?  Yeah.  You know what I mean.

But lately the times haven't been quite so fun.  The laptop has been getting creakier and creakier over the past year.  And even though I'm extremely careful about what I download, and extremely selective, it seems the biggest problem has been downloading the software updates that you, my friend, insist upon.  Every update, every service pack, makes things run more and more slowly.  Every "improvement" made the laptop boot more and more slowly.  To the extent that I actually had to factor the bootup time into my writing routine.

So last weekend I had to lobotimize the laptop, reformat everything, and start over.  Which, okay.  That happens from time to time. 

But I wasn't terribly worried.  After all, we still have the netbook, right?  And that little thing has been working like a charm for us.  Portable, fast, never slow to boot.  A nice little tool.  And we're making some progress on the new book there, aren't we?  Took us a while to get accustomed to writing on such a small screen, but it seems to be working.

Well, it was.  Until last night.  When, once again, I fell for your "urgent updates required" trick.  When the downloading, unpacking, and installing of those crucial software updates ate up the entirety of my writing time.  I hope you understand how frustrating that was for me.  I was powerless to do anything, most especially write, while you ground away, secretly doing whatever it was you were doing.  My time is limited.  But I lost an entire evening because of you.

Which is why my next computer will be a Mac.



Dear Comcast High Speed Internet Services:

Have you considered changing your name?  Forgive me, but it's a bit misleading.

Or maybe seeing a doctor for a possible diagnosis?  Because I think you may have Bipolar Disorder.




DMS June 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm
Oh, this is fun. Can we all play? Dear Fellow Travelers and Waiting Room Guests, Why are you talking to me? Did you not notice that I was trying to read? I thought that the book I was holding open and looking at would have been a clue. Yes it is science fiction and I am a "girl," how delightfully astute an observer of the human condition you are. May I please get back to reading now? And just to be clear here, when I'm looking at the screen of an e-book reader, I am also trying to read. Really, is it inconceivable that I would carry such a device around for any reason other than to show strangers how it works? I don't know why you think that I am inviting you into a conversation about technology or the future of publishing or the merits of various platforms. That's not my intent. I actually want to be left alone. Yours, Dawn Dear (apparently) Goblin Neighbor, Do you ever think that maybe the tree in your front yard, the one between our homes, is not the best trophy case for the antlers and skulls of the various woodland creatures you've acquired? I mean, I'm no expert on decor or landscaping, but seriously?! Thank you for the consideration (and please don't eat me), Dawn
Richard June 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm
What you need is an old copy of Windows XP. Unless that's what you've got, in which case never mind. But XP is quick and does everything you need without the bloat. That's why it's so hard to find these days.
Ian June 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm
Dear (apparently) Goblin Neighbor, Hehehehehehe. That reminds me! Dear Guy Who Lives Across the Street: I notice you have five vehicles, counting the two motorcycles that sit in your driveway and never move. I also notice that none of these vehicles ever go inside your two-car garage. I just wanted to thank you for making me feel like I live in a junkyard every time I look outside. Some people would say you have clearly failed to grasp the concept of "garage". I say you're an avant-garde modern artist. Love, Ian
Ian June 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm
I ran XP on my laptop for about 5 years without any problems. I'm reinstalling XP now, in fact, to see if I can keep using the laptop for writing. But yeah. I like XP more than anything before or since.
Melinda June 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm
Me, me! I want to play too. Dear office staff at The Metropolitan. Why did you have to be such unhelpful bitches? When I call to make an appointment _from New Mexico_ and you tell me I don't need an appointment "Just come on in", you might have added that when I came in I would need a final closing statement, and two checks for $75.00. And you might have mentioned to me in the five times I came to your office that I had to get in a locksmith to get a mailbox key. And what business is it of yours when I actually move into _my_ condo? Thank you. That felt really good.
Steve Halter June 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm
Dear people at the table across from us, While the details of your life history are no doubt fascinating to everyone at your table, we find them somewhat less so. In the future, the term "inside voice" may be helpful. Love, Steve (and everybody else in the restaurant)
Sara Gmitter June 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm
Dear person with the time, tools and inclination to steal the rear rack off my bicycle, While I applaud your persistence (I can only imagine that removing something that's been attached to my bike through 5 Chicago winters involved battling a certain amount of rusted bolts) I question your business savvy. The rack cost less than $20 when it was new. It is 5 Chicago winters away from being new. Therefore the return on your time investment, coupled with the risk of being caught seems hardly a wise use of your time. But perhaps this wasn't about money. Maybe you felt the rack was being persecuted and you were liberating it. But that would be silly because, it is a bike rack. Perhaps you believed that you or someone you know needed the rack more than I do. Again, I beg to differ. It is not possible to need a bike rack more than someone with a very full set of saddlebag panniers and an appointment to keep, which was my situation yesterday morning. So as not to jeopardize my still pending Master's degree from the University for Peace, I will not call you a jerk. Instead, I will close by saying that I am not in agreement with your aggressively inconsiderate behavior. Sincerely, Sara
Ian June 29, 2011 at 12:46 am
Is it okay for other people to call the thief a jerk? Only if it doesn't jeopardize your master's degree, of course. Perhaps the thief was from a parallel dimension where bicycle racks are considered oppressed creatures, and he or she belongs to the bicycle-rack-world equivalent of the Animal Liberation Front. Or maybe bicycle racks are the most valuable form for currency in the parallel universe. Neither of those scenarios actually make the theft less jerky, however. Seriously, who does that kind of thing? It's just insane.
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