Showing posts from August, 2013

My Name is Erik, and I'm a Collector

I'm a completist. That's what my friend, Michelle, tells me. I thought she had made it up, but I checked, and this is a real word. A completist is someone who tries to collect an example of every item in a field or genre.

For example, a completist might try to collect every Star Wars figurine ever made, or a copy of every book about Sherlock Holmes.

When I was 10, I tried to collect the complete 1977 set of Topps baseball cards. I used to sit on the floor of my garage and sort them, after blowing a couple dollars for a few packs of cards.

It was hot, and I was sweaty after riding my bike back from the Village Pantry. The floor was cold and dusty, and had I ever thought about the resale value of my cards, I never would have sorted them on the floor, but who cares about resale value when you're 10?

The cold floor provided some relief against the heat, as I carefully tore open each pack, making sure not to drop the gum, but blowing it off and chewing it anyway if I did. I sor…

Making Technology Easier. Sort Of.

Erik is out of the office this week, speaking at a writing conference. For laughs, we pulled this technology column from 2004 to see if he's gotten any better at it. (He hasn't.)

I used to be a technology whiz when I was younger. I could explain the difference between digital and analog stereo systems. I could explore the inner workings of my Macintosh computer. And I even knew how to program my VCR, which was no mean feat in 1989.

Even today, I try to stay current with the latest technological trends. After all, technology has become such an integral part of our lives. We can watch TV on our computers. We can listen to the radio on devices the size of a pen. Cell phones, PDAs, and wireless laptops make it possible to communicate across vast distances without being tied down by cables and cords.

Even this column is made possible through email. While most people are reading this online, there are a few thousand people who read it in an honest-to-God real newspaper. But even the…

Google Is Literally Killing Literally

Google's corporate motto is "don't be evil." But they did something so awful, so heinously wrong that they may as well have just killed and eaten the last unicorn on the planet.

If you type "define literally" into your Google search bar, this is what you'll see: "Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true, but is used for emphasis to express strong feeling."

I've got my own word that expresses strong feeling, and it ain't "literally."

See, the word you're thinking of, Google, does not mean "in a literal sense." It doesn't mean it actually happened. It doesn't mean "this is how things actually are."

The word you're thinking of is "figuratively." In fact, when I type "define figuratively," Google says "in a figurative sense. Not 'literally.' Anyone who uses that word to mean 'figuratively' should literally be hung by their thumbs and beate…

A Letter To Myself From 1985

I was going through some old boxes that I finally retrieved from my dad's attic ("You're not a real adult until you don't have anything left at your parents' house," he's fond of telling me.)

I found some old keepsakes, like my high school yearbooks, some old comic books, and an almost complete set of Micronaut toys I hadn't had the heart to throw away back then. (I found that heart when I found the box, and pitched the entire broken down, dismembered collection. Now who's a real adult?)

I also found a letter addressed to me, dated June 30, 1985, written just a few days after my eighteenth birthday. I had written it to myself, to be opened when I turned 45. I was a year late, but then it's not like it was a map to buried treasure or anything. The Micronauts were my most valuable possession back then, and they're gone now.

Here's what it said.

"Dear Erik,

"Hey, there handsome! It's me, well, it's you from all the way b…

The Death of Cool

No one knows exactly when it happens. You look around, look at your life choices, clothes, entertainment, music, and what you do for fun when friends come over. And suddenly, it hits you.

You're not cool anymore.

It didn't happen all at once, of course. There's no single event you can point to and say "That's the day I started acting like my mom." It's more of a slow creeping erosion, like how the tide steals a little more of the cliff each year, until your house of cool falls into the sea of mom jeans and dad shorts.

It takes longer for women. One day, you're in your mid-20s. College is behind you, you've got a job, you're up on the latest fashion, the coolest music, and the best places to drink and dance.

A year later, the car that got you through college is nearly dead, so you upgrade. You move into your own apartment so you don't have to share, and you realize your paycheck doesn't go as far as it used to. So you squeeze one more s…