Archive for January, 2011


Throwing Wrenches

Wrenches are useful tools, I think. They can be used to put things together or to pull things apart. They can tighten up whatever is loose, or relieve pressure on whatever is about to blow up.

They can also be used to hit things.

Choosing to hit something with a wrench can have a variety of effects on your life. On the one hand, you could seriously injure someone. On the other hand, you might end up restarting your spaceship’s engines, allowing you to get off of a godforsaken asteroid before you and the rest of your crew are blown to smithereens. In general though, it’s easy to predict the effect that hitting something with a wrench will have on your life. It’s just understood that there are certain things that you should hit with wrenches, and others that you should not.

Now, throwing wrenches… That’s a whole different story. There’s a lot of uncertainty as to what will happen when you throw a wrench.

First off, there’s the possibility that you don’t even have a target in mind. When you hit something with a wrench, you’ve always got a target in mind. You’re not just flailing around wildly. But when you’re tossing a wrench, you may not have a target in mind. Some people just like throwing wrenches.

Even if you have a target, there’s the possibility of human error. It takes years of practice to be able to toss a wrench with any accuracy, and even then it’s possible that you’ll miss your intended target. What happens then is impossible to predict.

Finally, there’s the possibility that you know exactly what you want to hit and have deadeye accuracy, but you just have no idea what will happen when your wrench hits its target. Sometimes you just reach a point in your life where you say “Look, this just isn’t working. I’m going to throw this wrench at those gears over there and see what happens. Hopefully something good.”

I think there’s a fine line that you need to walk here. On one hand, you can’t just throw around wrenches willy-nilly. You’ll never achieve any stability that way. On the other hand, you can’t be afraid of throwing wrenches. Life will pass you by that way.

Like a lot of things, it’s all about finding balance. Good luck, guys.

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Be Human

I’m going to be brief tonight.

I wish people weren’t so afraid of showing their vulnerabilities. Honestly, I think it’s amazing when someone is comfortable enough with who they are that they don’t mind appearing a little bit weak from time to time.

Anyone can go on Facebook and tell three hundred people about what a great time they had at that party last night. Anyone can talk about what makes them happy, or what excites them, or what they’re proud of, or what they’re looking forward to.

It takes someone special to talk about their weaknesses though. Their fears. Their regrets.

I don’t mean complaining about those minor inconveniences that occasionally intrude on our lives. Anyone can post a Facebook status about that test that they just bombed, or that bitch who is out to make their life hell.

I mean those skeletons in your closet. Those ghosts that you’ve locked away, hoping never to see them again. The photographs you’ve burned. Your deepest regrets. Your darkest secrets.

Most people don’t like to talk about that stuff. They’re afraid that the person they’re talking to will see them as weak, so they hide their fears and insecurities behind a wall of pride.

 

No one’s perfect. One thing that we all share in common is weakness. It’s what makes us human.

I know that we all want to portray ourselves in the best light possible, but every now and then you should stop and be human for a bit.

Welcome To WordPress

It took a little while for me to get settled, but I think that this is pretty much how my blog is going to look for the foreseeable future. How do you like it?

I think it’s a vast improvement over what I had on Spaces. That theme I had going on Spaces was ugly. I liked the blueness of it, but other than that it wasn’t great. When I first arrived here I was going to return to a black theme like I had way back when, but all the black themes here are too plain. So, I chose this one. I really like it. It’s still predominantly blue, but it’s a little more pleasing to the eye than my previous layout.

The transition itself went off without a hitch. As you can see, all 450 of my Spaces blogs are now posted here along with all 1006 of your comments (WordPress keeps stats like that. Wonderful, eh?). All dates and times have transferred over as well, so that’s great. There were formatting issues with a few blogs, some of which I’ve fixed, but I still need to go through the archives to see if some issues remain. Overall though I’m pleased with how things turned out.

So yeah. New site, new layout, new URL (I decided to abandon urmomsawhore in the end), but same Mike.  Here’s to another awesome five and a half years.

The Final Blog

When you’re just beginning a project it’s often hard to imagine it ever coming to an end, and when you’re at the end of a project it’s often hard to remember how you got started in the first place. That’s not always the case, but it is for me and my journey with Windows Live Spaces. I do vaguely remember how this all got started. Before there were Spaces, profiles were all the rage. Anyone who had MSN and wanted to be cool had to have a cool profile. That was just the rule. I held out for a while, but eventually the all-consuming urge to be cool won out, and so I took my shoddy little default profile and started making it cool. 

As an aside, profiles do still exist. All you have to do to access them is right-click on someone’s name on MSN, highlight “View” and click on Profile. You can’t do very much to customize them anymore, and frankly no one really cares anymore. Since profiles were never removed, however, a lot of people still have long-since-forgotten photos from 2006 on their profiles where anyone could theoretically access them. In many cases, people aren’t fond of their 14 year old selves, and if they were aware of these photos they would have burned them years ago. But, as it stands, these photos remain available to anyone who has a little bit of spare time. Try checking out the profiles of a few random people on your MSN list. You’ll find something juicy, I promise.

Getting back to my story, it seemed like no sooner had I begun tricking out my profile that Microsoft rolled out its latest innovation in social networking: MSN Spaces. For a cost of absolutely nothing, all MSN users would be given their own mini-site on which they could post photos, write blogs, create lists of their favourite things, and share all of this with friends. At a time when there was no Facebook, and Myspace was in its infancy, this was cutting-edge shit.

Having just started putting an effort into my profile, I was reluctant to drop it in favour of the much shiner Spaces just yet, so I waited.

In July 2005, my Screwup character died, and I needed a new one. Originally I called this new character “The s3c0ndh4nd3d One”, but that was long and awkward, so I shortened it to just “s3c0ndh4nd”. I decided that s3c0ndh4nd would use Spaces as his primary means of communicating with the world, and so I took the plunge and created a Space.

One of the first things they asked me to do was to create my own URL for my Space. I was shocked. Surely Microsoft wouldn’t trust a 14 year old with such power, right?

Well, they did. And the result? “Urmomsawhore.spaces.msn.com”. The line comes from a blink-182 song entitled “Dysentery Gary”. On the surface it’s childish and doesn’t at all reflect who I am today, but at the same time it’s kind of grown on me. I’m not sure what the process of switching over to WordPress.com will be like, but if I’ll certainly consider keeping the urmomsawhore bit if I’m able to.

Anyhow, after creating my Space, I was surprised by the sheer depth of options that I was presented with. I could change simple things such as text colours, titles, and
pictures, but I found that I could also change other things, like backgrounds, themes, and layout. There were so many options that it took me a while to be happy with my selections. Finally, after what was surely hours, I began writing my first blog.

Five and a half years later, I’m writing my 450th and final Spaces blog. At the beginning, I didn’t think this day would ever come. I just assumed that I would continue typing up blogs here well into my 50s. But then Myspace appeared and took a sizable chunk of MSN’s userbase, and after that Facebook rose up and smashed both Myspace and MSN Spaces to bits. Once it became clear that there was no way that MSN Spaces could compete with Facebook, the writing was on the wall. Sure, they tried redesigning the site and renaming it Windows Live Spaces, but it wasn’t enough to compete with the behemoth that Facebook was to become.

So when Microsoft announced that they were pulling the plug on Spaces, my question wasn’t “Why?” but “What took so long?”. It was inevitable. I’m just grateful that they gave me plenty of notice. I was afraid that one day I would attempt to access my Space only to find that Microsoft had pulled the plug earlier that day and destroyed five years worth of blogs.

On top of that, I’m grateful for the five and a half years that Microsoft gave me here. I don’t think I’ve produced any piece of writing here that will change the course of Western Civilization, but I have produced a few that have changed the course of my own life, and that’s enough for me.

That a blog can change lives at all is something amazing. Blogs are meant to be passive. Life occurs outside the blog, and the blogger discusses life’s occurrences inside the blog. And for the most part that’s how things functioned around here. But there were a few exceptions along the way, and significant ones at that.

I mean, if I didn’t have this blog, I never would have met Vicky. That’s indisputable. And if I had never met Vicky, I never would have met Alice. Certainly my life would have turned out somewhat different without her. And if I didn’t have this blog, I never would have met Kelsey. Once again, my life would have been significantly changed. And if I didn’t have this blog, I never would have met Andrew, which means that Liz never would have met Andrew. And if I didn’t write that Wrigley Field blog, I never would have reconciled with Camilo. These are all very simple cause-and-effect relationships here. It’s undeniable: If this blog didn’t exist, my life would be very different from what it is now. It’s impossible to say exactly how it would be different without delving into pure speculation. What is certain is that without this blog I would have missed out on a number of great people, and that would have been a terrible shame.

So, what now? Well, at some point tomorrow Microsoft will shut down my ability to post new blogs. They may also shut down your ability to post comments. I’m not sure. Then, within a week, this Space will disappear from the Internet. Microsoft isn’t scheduled to delete this Space until March, but I’ve always had a thing about going out on my own terms. Thus, once I’ve finished archiving everything, I’ll pull the plug myself. Shortly after that, I’ll start up a new WordPress.com blog. If Microsoft can be trusted, most of what I’ve posted here can be transferred over safely and easily. Hopefully that goes down without a hitch. If not, I’ll figure something out.

Okay, I think that’s it.

Let me close out by thanking all of you for sticking with me all these years. I know that you guys have better things to do than read an insignificant blog on the outskirts of the Internet, but without your semi-constant comments, I probably would have given up on this a long time ago. So thank you all for reading.

It’s been a delight writing this, but Mike, s3c0ndh4nd, Kakunaman, Cyanize, Edge, Noah, Sammy, and Josh are out for the final time.