Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ten Years Ago...

Ladies. Gentlemen. Carp Dimers of all ages. Welcome to my tenth anniversary blog post.

Ten years ago today, I wrote my very first blog post on what used to be called "The Single Guy." That very first blog post was called Self-Titled Debut and it was about my life at that point, as a single man at age 24. I guess, in the last decade, not much has changed. Then again, maybe a lot has changed.

I'm not sure how to go about writing this anniversary post. In fact, as sporadic as my blogging has been in recent months, I almost missed it. I've known all year that December would represent 10 years of blogging, but I didn't realize the exact date until I happened to look yesterday when I went on a rant after a difficult day at work.

So I ask you to forgive me for not knowing how to properly celebrate 10 years as a completely non-famous internet personality. 10 years in review could get monotonous and boring. Making plans for the future of Carp Dime would probably be filled with empty promises that I might not keep. And giveaways could become expensive. Maybe I could cover all the bases...

Like I said, not much has changed. I'm still single. And if you're a long-time reader, you probably know why. If you're a long-time reader and are at all insightful, it's possible you know better than I do why I'm still single. I'd almost like to say that I've loved and lost, but we all know that's not the truth. But a lot is different, too. My dad passed away. I moved to North Carolina. I began and dropped out of seminary. I worked for a bank in a job that I hated with the fiery vengeance of a thousand suns. I dropped out of church. I moved back to Virginia. I found a job that I could actually love that I ended up hating. I found a job that I had no idea I could love as much as I do. I dropped back into church. I've been to weddings. I've witnessed divorces. I've attended funerals. I've seen friends become parents. If my life were written into a novel, I could question my character's growth over time, but I certainly can't say that I haven't experienced a lot in the last decade.

Ah, yes... promises I don't intend to keep. I've done it before. "I'll blog every single day!" Well, I did keep that promise for a while. For maybe a year or two, I blogged each day. It wasn't always literary awesomeness, but it was at least something. Lately, I'm not sure I could follow through with posting something once a week if I made that claim. "I'm gonna start a video blog!" Yeah, that never happened. I thought it would be a good idea to utilize the webcam on my laptop and start making videos for the blog. I went so far as to buy some decent editing software which, as it turned out, was not compatible with recordings made on a webcam. Should've read the fine print on that one. So that idea fizzled. Just another YouTube channel with nothing on. "I'm gonna move my blog from Blogger to WordPress." Okay, that might still happen at some point. Jeff has been trying to get me to make that switch for as long as he's known I had this blog. There's really no reason for me not to do it, other than just taking the time to do it. I'll have some time off during Christmas, so maybe that's something I can finally get around to. No promises. But if I were to do such a thing, I think I might just start a new blog. I'd keep the old Carp Dime running, maybe get back to writing some of that fiction that I used to enjoy. And I'd probably use the new blog to rehash some of the old things I've written about on here. I don't know, we'll see.

I look at that word and almost think, What's the point? The last giveaway I did had hardly any real participation from people. I think a handful of readers actually made an effort to get involved with the contest. Which is usually the case when I try to do something fun like that. I'm lucky if I can have 10 people take part in something on the blog. Usually it's more like 5. Or less. And since one of my friends is the one that actually won that last giveaway, I've completely slacked on getting his prizes to him. Not that he's mentioned it, even though I've seen him twice since he won. Though I was really thinking it could be fun to have a 10 Year Anniversary Giveaway. The prizes would be things from 10 years ago. Shrek 2 was the highest grossing film that year, I could give that away on DVD or Bluray. In music, Usher had a big year, spending 28 out of 52 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, I could give away his "Confessions" CD, assuming anyone still has a device with which they can play a CD. Likewise, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code spent 28 weeks at the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List in 2004, I could give away a copy of that. Maybe I could give away all three to one lucky individual. Anyone interested in that? Tell you what, if 10 people leave comments on this page, not Facebook or Google+, but tacked to the bottom of this very blog post, letting me know that you want me to do a giveaway like this, then I'll do it. Otherwise, we'll let the tenth anniversary go by as if it was just another day.

So here's to 10 years. Feel free to peruse any of my 2,067 previous posts at your leisure. Stay tuned for more to come in the next 10 years. Maybe not on a daily basis, but you'll still get some stuff every now and then.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A Rant Against Can't

I think that the word "can't" may be one of the most damaging words in the English language.* Every single day, while I'm wearing my counselor hat, I find myself surrounded by small children who make the claim that they can't do something. 99.9% of the time, the issue isn't that they can't. It's that they don't want to.

Say there's a math review worksheet that an entire class has completed, save for one kid. The operative word there is review. That means it's something that's not only been taught, but it's something that these kids have practiced repeatedly for weeks. And then that one kid claims he can't do the work. He keeps up the act so long that he misses out on his recess time, then he pouts because all his friends are having fun but he's not. Yet he still refuses to finish his review, still claiming he can't do it.

Can't should be removed from our vocabulary. So many times people state unequivocally that they can't do something when they don't even try. Not trying could stem from a number of things. Could be laziness. Could be boredom with the task. Could simply be that they just don't care. Whatever the case, don't tell me you can't do it. Tell me you don't want to do it. That, at least, would be honest.

I know that can't is a very helpful descriptor of things we aren't allowed to do. "You can't play in the middle of the road!" "You can't fly if you jump off the balcony!" "You can't watch TV for 24 hours straight!" Parents use it all the time and with good reason. They want to teach their children what is acceptable behavior. But in using the contraction of cannot, those kids are learning a quick and easy way to get out of doing things they don't want to do.

I suggest a simple rewording. "Sure, you can play in the middle of the road. If you want to get hit by a car." "You can jump off the balcony if you want to get hurt, but human flight without machinery is physically impossible." "Look, you aren't allowed to watch TV for 24 hours straight. Because I said so, that's why."

On the flip side, I've known parents who tell kids they can't do something because they blatantly want to hold them back from experiencing something profound. I'm not saying that a parent that does this is either a good parent or a bad parent. But I present you with a line from Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness: "Don't ever let somebody tell you you can't do something... You got a dream, you've gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want something, go get it. Period."

We can't simply remove can't from our language. It's not that easy. It's just a frustrating thing to deal with day after day when potentially brilliant children stifle themselves by claiming that they can't do things. I say potentially because there's no way of knowing exactly how brilliant these kids are if they aren't willing to do anything in the first place. If you're a parent or have a job having anything to do with children on a regular basis, please, do not allow them to hold themselves back with can't. And do not allow others to hold them back with can't either.

*I'll admit that there are possibly a great many other words in the English language that are as bad or worse than "can't," but I'm kind of angry about it right now, so that's what we're dealing with. Deal with it.